REVIEW: BABYLON 5 – SEASON 2

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Starring

Bruce Boxleitner (Supergirl)
Claudia Christian (9-1-1)
Jerry Doyle (Open House)
Mira Furlan (Lost)
Richard Biggs (Strong Medicine)
Andrea Thompson (24)
Stephen Furst (Animal House)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
Robert Rusler (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2)
Mary Kay Adams (Guiding Light)
Andreas Katsulas (The Fugitive)
Peter Jurasik (Tron)

Bruce Boxleitner in Babylon 5 (1993)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Robin Sachs (Buffy: TVS)
Robert Foxworth (Transformers)
Kim Strauss (ER)
Beth Toussaint (Red Eye)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Russ Tamblyn (The Haunting)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Jessica Walter (Archer)
Jeff Conaway (Grease)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Lois Nettleton (Centennial)
Jane Carr (Legends of Tomorrw)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Walter Koenig (Star Trek)
Fredric Lehne (Lost)
Malachi Throne (Catch Me If You Can)
Michael O’Hare (C.H.U.D.)
Ardwight Chamberlain (Swiss Family Robinson)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Ryan Cutrona (Hot Shots!)
Ken Foree (The Devil’s Rejects)
Jsu Garcia (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Marshall R. Teague (Road House)
Paul Williams (Battle For The POTA)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Julie Caitlin Brown (All My Children)
Kim Zimmer (Body Heat)
Alex Hyde-White (The Fantastic Four)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
Andrew Craig (Conan The Adventurer)
Patricia Tallman (Dead Air)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Roy Dotrice (Hellboy 2)

Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, and Jerry Doyle in Babylon 5 (1993)“It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind… the year the great war came upon us all.” This evocative phrase, in the new opening credits voiceover for the second season of Babylon 5, captures the anticipation, suspense, and drama that are waiting for us as we embark upon a season appropriately, and ominously, named “The Coming of Shadows.”Stephen Furst in Babylon 5 (1993)As I commented in my review of Season 1, what makes Babylon 5 really stand out is its storytelling. Creator and main writer J. Michael Straczynski is telling one story, planned from the beginning to develop over the course of five years; within that larger story are interconnecting story arcs that span several seasons. As a result, Babylon 5 has the richness, depth, power, and complexity of a great novel; it’s not like anything else on television.Bruce Boxleitner and Mira Furlan in Babylon 5 (1993)If you’re used to “reset button” style television shows in which everything must return to the status quo at the end of the episode – for instance, however much I love Star Trek, that series is a prime example – then Babylon 5 offers quite a shock in this respect, especially now that the plot is really developing in Season 2. Each episode is a piece of the larger story, and it moves that larger story along; the events in an episode matter in the larger sense. That means that in any given episode, major events can happen: events that will shape the course of the season, or dramatically affect a character, or shed new light on any number of mysteries.Bruce Boxleitner and Claudia Christian in Babylon 5 (1993)From the large-scale plot to the pacing of the individual episodes, Babylon 5 is an extremely well-conceived and well-written show. What’s more, it’s an intelligent and challenging one. Viewers are richly rewarded for paying attention and thinking about what’s going on: what happened last week, or last season, may very well turn out to be of utmost importance as the plot develops. Season 2 starts out with an excellent reminder of this, when the events of a first-season episode turn out to be crucial in Dr. Franklin’s attempt to save Garibaldi’s life.While Season 1 set the stage, introduced the players, and got a few seemingly small events rolling, it’s now, in Season 2, that things really get explosive. Season 2 jumps into a tangled weave of plot threads from the very beginning, clearly showing that we’re in for quite a ride. Since Babylon 5 is so intensely plot-driven, I’m taking pains here to avoid spoilers. If you are watching the show for the first time, you absolutely, positively do not want to have any of the fantastic plot developments spoiled for you… and if you’re watching it for a second (or third, or fourth…) time, then a few hints will be enough to whet your appetite for seeing the episodes again.Bruce Boxleitner in Babylon 5 (1993)Commander Sinclair has been mysteriously removed from his command of Babylon 5, and sent to Minbar as an ambassador; indeed, strange things are afoot with the Minbari, as Ambassador Delenn embarks on a perilous transformation in accordance with prophecy, and the Minbari reveal something that they have previously kept hidden from the humans… though they aren’t telling the whole story. A new commander, Captain Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) takes command, but with a past that’s shadowed by personal grief as well as by his infamy among the Minbari, who call him “Star-Killer.” Is he a pawn in some larger political game? Will he be able to continue Babylon 5’s mission?Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, and Jerry Doyle in Babylon 5 (1993)Then there’s the issue of Earth President Santiago’s death, which may have been foul play at the hands of a conspiracy… but just how deep does that conspiracy go, and who can the Babylon 5 crew really trust? The Centauri ambassador Londo Mollari is on the ascendance after the destruction of the Narn colony in Season 1… but it seems that Londo’s relationship with the mysterious Mr. Morden is far from finished. In fact, the events of Season 1 have only served to increase the tension in the bitter rivalry between the Narn and Centauri empires. We also get developing threads about the Psi Corps and the Mars colony tied in, with the return of the Psi Cop Bester (Walter Koenig) as well as the telepath Lyta Alexander. And in the background, we learn of the appearance of strange ships, ships that G’Kar has a theory about…Bruce Boxleitner, Mira Furlan, and Bill Mumy in Babylon 5 (1993)I haven’t mentioned any specific episode titles so far, in part because the story threads are so interwoven that it’s difficult to pick out individual episodes to discuss and in part because it’s hard to talk about specific episodes without spoilers. Season 2 has 22 episodes, and they’re all good ones; even the more “ordinary” episodes are very entertaining stories in their own right, and serve to lay the groundwork for later high-tension episodes, both in terms of plot developments and in terms of pacing and theme. I’ll point out a few highlights, and leave you to find out exactly why they’re so important.Stephen Furst and Bill Mumy in Babylon 5 (1993)“The Coming of Shadows” should tell you from its title alone that it’s a momentous episode… and trust me, it is. “All Alone in the Night” likewise moves forward into deeply dramatic territory, involving Sheridan as well as Delenn. Then there’s “In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum”… let’s just say that you’ll be seeing more of Mr. Morden. “A Spider in the Web” and “A Race Through Dark Places” showcase interesting developments among the Psi Corps. “The Long, Twilight Struggle” brings certain events of the Narn-Centauri struggle to a head. And “The Fall of Night” will have you biting your nails for Season 3.

 

REVIEW: THE DEVIL’S REJECTS

CAST

Sid Haig (Jackie Brown)
Bill Moseley (Arm of Darkness)
Sheri Moon Zombie (Halloween)
William Forsythe (The Rock)
Ken Foree (Dawn of The Dead)
Leslie Easterbrook (Halloween)
Geoffrey Lewis (Maverick)
Priscilla Barnes (Jane The Virgin)
Lew Temple (Lawless)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Tom Towles (Miami Vice)
Michael Berryman (Star Trek IV)
P.J. Soles (Carrie)
Ginger Lynn (31)
Chris Ellis (Catch Me If You Can)
Daniel Roebuck (Lost)
Glenn Taranto (The New Addams Family)
Tyler Mane (X-Men)
Steve Railsback (Lifeforce)
Robert Trebor (Hercules: TLJ)
Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory)
Deborah Van Valkenburgh (Free Enterprise)
Duane Whitaker (Pulp Fiction)
Richard Epcar (One Punch Man)
Kane Hodder (Monster)

Rob Zombie’s second film picks up shortly after the events that finished up House Of 1,000 Corpses. The Firefly clan are holed up in a farmhouse, surrounded by cops and wanted for murdering seventy-five people. Needless to say, the police are pretty hot to get their hands on the clan, but they’re not going down without a fight and soon enough, a bloody shoot out goes down. Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon) make it out of the house before the law closes in, but Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook picking up where Karen Black left off) isn’t so lucky and the cops are only too happy to bring her into custody.
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Captain Spaulding, as luck would have it, was out of the house when the shoot out occurred, so he too manages to avoid the police and it doesn’t take him long to find out what’s happened. Once he does, he figures he should head on out and look for Baby and Otis, who have spent some time hiding out in a remote hotel where they’ve been holding a country and western band (made up of Priscilla Barnes, Geoffrey Lewis, Kate Norby and Lew Temple) hostage. One thing leads to another and soon Baby and Otis, after making waste of the band, head out to meet up with Spaulding at a whorehouse run by Spaulding’s ‘brother from another mother,’ Charlie Altamont (Ken Foree).
While the family is on the lam, Sheriff Wydell (William Forsyth) is becoming more and more obsessed with getting revenge on them for the murder of his brother in the first film. He rounds up a band of hired guns to help him out and heads into the desert to find the three Fireflies and give them what for.

Prod DB © Lions Gate Films / DR THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (THE DEVIL'S REJECTS) de Rob Zombie 2005 USA / ALL avec Sid Haig, Bill Moseley et Sheri Moon horreur, gore, otage, prisonniers, attaches, tortureRob Zombie has crafted one mean little movie this time out. While a lot of the black humor that made the first movie as fun as it was is still here, there’s a much stronger mean streak in The Devil’s Rejects that gives it a certain air of uneasiness. Otis and Spaulding as sicker, more depraved and more psychotic here than in the last film (if that’s possible) but the story allows us to get to know them better this time out, which makes for an interesting paradox. These are definitely not heroes or even anti heroes that we’re following in this film, they’re despicable human beings but their story is interesting and while we don’t necessarily root for them, the movie sucks us in enough that we do want to find out how it all ends.

DevilsRejects-SheriZombieIn addition to some brilliant casting choices, Zombie has also done an excellent job of recreating the dirty, sweaty atmosphere of so many of the seventies drive in horror and exploitation films that so obviously inspired him to make this movie. The film will leave you in need of a shower, it’s been baked in the sun a little too long and as such it’s got a strange funk to it that just makes an already fairly seedy movie even seedier. With supporting roles from Michael Berryman, Rosario Dawson (well, in a deleted scene), the late Matthew McGrory, Danny Trejo and Diamond Dallas Page as the Sheriff’s mercenary pals, P. J. Soles, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Ginger Lynn Allen, Mary Woronov, and more, the film also makes for a fun game of ‘spot the b-movie celebrity’ you’re your friends.
vlcsnap-2015-04-06-02h14m31s233While the film played theatrically with an R-rating, this two-disc set is uncut. The main difference is the fact that the hotel room scene plays out a little longer than it did theatrically, the rest of the added content (to the best of this reviewer’s memory – I don’t have the R version to compare it to) is some restored trims to the nastier bits of violence in the movie.

REVIEW: HALLOWEEN (2007)

CAST

Scout Taylor-Compton (The Core)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Tyler Mane (X-Men)
Daeg Faerch (Hanock)
Sheri Moon Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects)
William Forsythe (The Rock)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Udo Kier (Blade)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Danielle Harris (Left For Dead)
Kristina Klebe (Police State)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corn)
Skyler Gisondo (The Three Stooges)
Dee Wallace (E.T.)
Bill Moseley (Army of Darkness)
Lew Temple (Domino)
Tom Towles (Fortress)
Leslie Easterbrook (Police Academy)
Pat Skipper (Erin Brockovich)
Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids)
Richmond Arquette (Broken Blood)
Ken Foree (The Lords of Salem)
Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination)
Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects)

On Halloween in Haddonfield, Illinois, having already shown signs of psychopathic tendencies, 10-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) murders a school bully. Later that night, he murders his older sister Judith (Hanna R. Hall), his mother’s abusive boyfriend Ronnie (William Forsythe), and Judith’s boyfriend Steve (Adam Weisman). Only his baby sister, Angel Myers, is spared. After one of the longest trials in the state’s history, Michael is found guilty of first degree murder and sent to Smith’s Grove — Warren County Sanitarium under the care of child psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). Michael initially cooperates with Dr. Loomis, claiming no memory of the killings; his mother, Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie), visits him regularly. Michael becomes fixated on his papier-mâché masks, closing himself off from everyone, even his mother. When Michael kills a nurse as Deborah is leaving from one of her visits, she can no longer handle the situation and commits suicide. For the next fifteen years, Michael (Tyler Mane) continues making his masks and not speaking to anyone. Dr. Loomis, having continued to treat Michael over the years, attempts to move on with his life and closes Michael’s case. Later, while being prepared for transfer to maximum security, Michael escapes Smith’s Grove, killing the sanitarium employees and a truck driver for his overalls, and makes his way back to Haddonfield. On Halloween, Michael arrives at his now abandoned childhood home, where he recovers the kitchen knife and Halloween mask.
The story shifts to Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton), and her friends Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) and Lynda Van Der Klok (Kristina Klebe) on Halloween. Throughout the day, Laurie witnesses Michael watching her from a distance. That night, she goes to babysit Tommy Doyle (Skyler Gisondo). Meanwhile, Lynda meets with her boyfriend Bob (Nick Mennell) at Michael’s childhood home. Michael appears, murders them, and then heads to the Strode home, where he murders Laurie’s parents, Mason (Pat Skipper) and Cynthia (Dee Wallace). Dr. Loomis, having been alerted of Michael’s escape, comes to Haddonfield looking for Michael. After obtaining a gun, Loomis attempts to warn Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) that Michael has returned to Haddonfield. Brackett and Dr. Loomis head to the Strode home, with Brackett explaining along the way that Laurie is actually Michael’s sister Angel.
Meanwhile, Annie convinces Laurie to babysit Lindsey Wallace (Jenny Gregg Stewart), a girl Annie is supposed to be watching, so she can have sex with her boyfriend Paul (Max Van Ville). Annie and Paul return to the Wallace home and during sex, Michael kills Paul and attacks Annie. Bringing Lindsey home, Laurie finds Annie on the floor, bloodied but alive, and calls the police. She is attacked by Michael, who chases her back to the Doyle home. Sheriff Brackett and Loomis hear the call announced over the radio and head toward the Wallace residence. Meanwhile, Michael kidnaps Laurie and takes her back to his home. Michael approaches Laurie and tries to show her that she is his younger sister, presenting a picture of the two siblings with their mother. Unable to understand, Laurie grabs Michael’s knife and stabs him before escaping the house; Michael chases her, but is repeatedly shot by Dr. Loomis.Laurie and Loomis are just about to leave when Michael grabs Laurie and heads back to the house. Loomis intervenes and tries to reason with Michael, but Michael attacks him by squeezing Loomis’s skull with his hands. Laurie takes Loomis’s gun and runs upstairs; she is chased by Michael, who, after cornering her on a balcony, charges her head-on, knocking both of them over the railing. Laurie finds herself on top of a bleeding Michael. Aiming Loomis’ gun at his face, she repeatedly pulls the trigger until the gun finally goes off just as Michael’s hand grips Laurie’s wrist.
I like this film. It does not diminish my enjoyment of Carpenter’s original, and neither does Carpenter’s original diminish my enjoyment of this film. As far as I’m concerned, they can co-exist as entirely separate entities, to be appreciated on their own terms.