REVIEW: THE FACULTY

 

CAST

Jordana Brewster (Chuck)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Bordan Chronicles)
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me)
Josh Hartnett (Lucky Number Sleven)
Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog)
Salma Hayek (Ugly Betty)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Piper Laurie (Carrie)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Bebe Neuwirth (Jumanji)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Usher (She’s All that)
Jon Stewart (Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back)
Elijah Wood (Lord of The Rings)
Jon Abrahams (Scary Movie)
Summer Phoenix (The Believer)
Danny Masterson (That 70s Show)
Eric Jungmann (Not Another Teen Movie)

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Herrington High School, just your everyday place of learning. That is until the teachers start behaving strangely. It seems there is an alien plot to take over world and only a rag-tag group of students can save us. The film has rightly been tagged as a cross between Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and any teen led Highschool movie. This is intentional, something that’s apparent as our intrepid students discuss Snatchers amongst other movie references, and one of them, Stokely {Clea Duval}, is a sci-fi aficionado . As things progress it’s also evident that the makers here are movie fans making a movie for movie fans, all be it one aimed solely at the teenage demographic. There’s much satire around and cliché’s are widely embraced, but again it works because there is no hidden agenda. There’s gore and hugely effective scenes involving blood, slugs, heads and an eyeball, whilst slasher fans are catered for in a couple of, if seemingly pointless as regards the alien’s intentions, memorable scenes.

The youngsters in the cast, all playing total stereotypes, all do what is required, with Josh Hartnett, Duval & Elijah Wood particularly shining. But it’s with the adult actors that The Faculty really gains its tongue in cheek momentum. Robert Patrick, Famke Jansen, Salma Hayek, Piper Laurie, Bebe Neuwirth and even Jon Stewart all file in for a bit of alien parasitical fun.

Come the end of the mania, with the staple alien queen reveal and showdown, there’s the overriding feeling that the film could have been so much more. Certainly it’s guilty of being a touch too derivative, a little focus lost in the self referential and knowing in-jokery genre winks. But it’s a groovy ride is this one, not in the least bit serious.

REVIEW: DEAD LIKE ME: LIFE AFTER DEATH

 

CAST

Ellen Muth (Hannibal)
Mandy Patinkin (The Princess bride)
Callum Blue (Smallville)
Jasmine Guy (The Vampire Diaries)
Laura Harris (Severance)
Greg Kean (Black Xmas)
Britt McKillip (Trick ‘r Treat)
Christine Willes (Red Riding Hood)
Cynthia Stevenson (Tiger Eyes)
Henry Ian Cusick (Lost)

Ellen Muth in Dead Like Me: Life After Death (2009)

Dead Like Me  was a completely brilliant series which mixed funny and light alongside sadness and death with great ease. It’s influence can easily be seen in (the now also sadly ended) Pushing Daises, as the two shows have many parallels and if you enjoyed watching Pushing Daises I can’t recommend Dead Like Me enough.

Life After Death is set in 2008, five years after the end of the series and it returns us to George’s world. Letting us once again see where she is and how things have developed.



I have to deal with the single biggest issue in the film before moving on, the TV series was hugely anchored and influenced by the brilliance of Mandy Patinkin’s performance as Rube, he effortlessly controlled the scenes he was in, providing a mix of serious and comedy which grounded the entire series. Unfortunately Mandy did not reprise his role for this film, apparently Rube left having ‘got his lights’ and there’s a gaping hole where he used to be. Kane does not function to fill this hole at all and as such I found myself wishing and hoping for Rube to make an appearance. Sadly he does not and the film suffers as a consequence. T
he other major issue with Life After Death is the recasting of Daisy Adair, who was initially played brilliantly by Laura Harris. Laura was unavailable for the movie and Sarah Wynter is cast as Daisy. Sarah is reasonable as Daisy, but she doesn’t have the same presence or ‘peppiness’ that Laura brought to the role.


Now, onto the film itself. Much like the TV series the film deals with two separate and loosely interlinked stories. The first is the arrival of Kane, this new reaper who influences everyone apart from George into a life of debauchery and slacking off of duties. Honestly this story thread isn’t that strong, there’s no real urgency to it all. Everyone falls for Kane’s life very quickly, while Daisy and Mason are quite weak personalities and as such believable it was the rapid seduction of Roxy that felt strange and condensed. There’s no real explanation why Kane wanted them all to slack off, his explanation at the end is rather weak. It seems like he did it because he wanted to be evil, or something. Irregardless of his reasons I was pleased to see him shipped off into space at the end of the film.

But luckily for us there’s a much, much stronger story revolving around George, or more accurately around Reggie who finally meets Milly (George’s new persona) and discovers that Milly is George. Most of this story lets us see more of Reggie and where she’s grown to. Back in the TV series she was a strange little girl who turned dead birds into planes and hung toilet seats from trees, all forms of grieving over George’s death. She’s grown up into a rather insecure, lonely young woman and her life is turned upside down when the lad she was having a secret affair with, one Hudson Hart, is hit and ends up in a coma (instead of being reaped by George, Kane apparently messed up her times — but it’s possible that this was outside influence).

As Reggie discovers about Milly/George and the two of them spend time together we get to see the real heart of the film. George helps Reggie to stand up and go to Hudson before he passes (reaped by George) and then the pair of them talk, George helping Reggie to finally move on and start living. Finally the film ends with George being showered in post-it notes, suggesting that the “upper management” have put her in charge of ‘The Club’ now. This is where I hoped Rube would stroll back in, but no such luck.  Overall Life After Death is an enjoyable piece, it suffers somewhat in several aspects. The lack of Mandy and Laura are huge problems. I’d happily watch more Dead Like Me if this film managed to get the series returned to our screens. I’d watch it in a heartbeat. As for Life After Death, it’s a great film which can move you, but it’s held back by several shortcomings and enormously misses Mandy Patinkin.

REVIEW: DEAD LIKE ME – SEASON 2

MAIN CAST

Ellen Muth (Hannibal)
Mandy Patinkin (The Princess bride)
Callum Blue (Smallville)
Jasmine Guy (The Vampire Diaries)
Laura Harris (Severance)
Greg Kean (Black Xmas)
Britt McKillip (Trick ‘r Treat)
Christine Willes (Red Riding Hood)
Cynthia Stevenson (Tiger Eyes)
Ellen Muth in Dead Like Me (2003)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST

Steven Grayhm (White Chicks)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Lochlyn Munro (Little Man)
Kristen Robek (Jingle All The Way 2)
John DeSantis (Thew New Addams Family)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Nicki Clyne (Battlestar Galactica)
Tom McBeath (Bates Motel)
Claudette Mink (Paycheck)
Robin Dunne (Species 3)
Emily Holmes (Snakes on a Plane)
Ty Olsson (I Zombie)
Eric McCormack (Free Enterprise)
Piper Laurie (Carrie)
Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons)
Anne Marie Deluise (Goosebumps)

Episode 203 "Ghost Story"

Again, we see both this life, and the afterlife though central character George. This season we also explore the other characters in more detail; especially Rube’s mortal life, and surprisingly vulnerable Mason, with the effects on him caused by his job.

My favourite character Daisy also gives hints on her living life, especially towards the end of the series. I enjoyed having the ‘Bimbo Blonde’ surface scratched away from this character, revealing someone we could all know.

On the living side: George works for a temp agency, Happy Time, ‘living’ under the guise of ‘Millie’. Some of the best comedic moments of the series take place in Happy Time. ‘Millie’s manager Delores is just too funny, and all viewers will see a little bit of their own managers in the character. George has now adjusted to the fact that her old life is over, and decides to make the most of this one. This will include boyfriends, and mingling with her co workers at Happy Time. Also, we once again follow George’s surviving family. Her parent’s are divorcing, and her younger sister Reggie is entering that frightful period known as puberty. George’s grandmother also appears this series.


While the final episode ‘Haunted’ is satisfying, and ties up the series nicely, there are still a few loose ends that are left hanging.

REVIEW: DEAD LIKE ME – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Ellen Muth (Hannibal)
Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride)
Callum Blue (Smallville)
Jasmine Guy (The Vampire Diaries)
Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend)
Laura Harris (Severance)
Greg Kean (Black Xmas)
Britt McKillip (Trick ‘r Treat)
Christine Willes (Red Riding Hood)
Cynthia Stevenson (Tiger Eyes)
Ellen Muth in Dead Like Me (2003)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUEST CAST

Jodelle Ferland (The Cabin In The Woods)
Blu Mankuma (Robocop: The Series)
Jackie Burroughs (The Dead Zone)
Gary Jones (Stargate – SG.1)
Erica Cerra (Blade: Trinity)
Lorena Gale (Smallville)
Tygh Runyan (Snakes on a Plane)
A.J. Cook (Final Destination 2)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Susan Saullivan (Castle)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Ben Bass (Bride of Chucky)
Sarah Lind (Blade: The Series)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine TV)
Ali Liebert (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sonya Salomaa (Andromeda)

Ellen Muth in Dead Like Me (2003)What if life really begins only after you die? Georgia Lass never really lived in her 18 years before being killed by the toilet seat from the de-orbiting space station MIR. Sullen, bored, and apathetic, it is in death that she finds meaning and purpose in her life as she becomes a grim reaper, responsible for the transition of souls from death to their particular afterlife. In this series, death gives people like Georgia who never really lived their life to have a do-over and serve as a grim reaper. Of course they still are visible by the living, have to get jobs to support themselves, and can be stuck as reaper from decades, but this adds to the poetry of the premise. Overall the show is sarcastic,dark and subversive, but makes for highly entertaining television and included any number of laugh out loud moments.

Created by Brian Fuller, the genius behind Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me stars a wonderful cast headed by the note perfect Ellen Muth as Georgia and Mandy Patinken as Rube, the head of a small crew of Grim Reapers working the Seattle area. The supporting cast is solid, including Callum Blue as Mason, Laura Harris as Daisy A’dair, and Jasmine Guy as Roxy. Rebecca Gayheart appeared for a few episodes in the season. So being dead and stuck in a job that she didn’t choose and doesn’t particularly want, Georgia has to find meaning in an existence that is quite different from the one she had. She learns that she has to learn to let go of her family and little sister. She learns that friendship and family can be found in strange places, even the temp agency she works in, and that ultimately death has a purpose and a poetry for everyone, even her. What that purpose is, I don’t quite know yet, but I think it is to learn how to live and do-over the years she was alive. The backstory of reapers and death is explained slowly over the first season, but begins to connect the pieces by season’s end.

Rebecca Gayheart is written out of the show early on, this was because she accidentally hit and killed someone with her in real life, The network did not think it would be a good idea having someone portray a Grim Reaper who killed someone in real life.This is a highly entertaining show that will appeal to fans of shows like Wonderfalls, Hannibal and others that were way too smart to be on TV. This was a cable produced show so there are no restrictions on the language, but that in a way is refreshing. Highly recommended