REVIEW: SCREAMERS

CAST

Peter Weller (Robocop)
Roy Dupuis (Hemoglobin)
Jennifer Rubin (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3)
Andrew Lauer (Iron Man 3)
Charles Edwin Powell (Affliction)
Ron White (Defendor)
Liliana Komorowska (The Art of War)
Jason Cavalier (Stonewall)
Leni Parker (Earth: Final Conflict)

In the year 2078, the planet Sirius 6B, once a thriving mining hub, has been reduced to a toxic wasteland by a war between the mining company, known as the New Economic Bloc (NEB), and the Alliance, a group of former mining and science personnel. Five years into the war, Alliance scientists created and deployed Autonomous Mobile Swords (AMS) — artificially intelligent self-replicating machines that hunt down and kill NEB soldiers on their own. They are nicknamed “screamers” because of a high-pitched noise they emit as they attack. Screamers track targets by their heartbeats, so Alliance soldiers wear “tabs” which broadcast a signal canceling out the wearer’s heartbeat and rendering them “invisible” to the machines.A fragile stalemate is in effect between the two exhausted, poorly supplied, and undermanned armies. A message guaranteeing safe passage through NEB territory to discuss a truce is recovered from a dead NEB soldier, killed by screamers as he approached the Alliance compound. When Alliance commanding officer Joe Hendricksson (Weller) reports this development to his Earth-based superiors, he is told that such a meeting will not be necessary; peace negotiations are already underway on Earth. Not true, says Private “Ace” Jefferson (Andrew Lauer), newly arrived from Earth. Hendricksson is not surprised, as he suspects that both sides have simply written off Sirius 6B and abandoned their armies.Hendricksson decides that the only realistic chance of survival for himself and his soldiers is to accept the NEB truce offer. He sets out for a meeting with the NEB commander, accompanied by Jefferson. While traveling through a destroyed city they come upon a war orphan, a young boy named David (Michael Caloz), clutching a teddy bear. Unwilling to abandon a defenseless civilian, they bring the boy along. The following night they are attacked by a reptilian screamer that they have never before encountered. Hendricksson is alarmed that their Alliance tabs did not protect them.As the group nears the NEB compound, two enemy soldiers, Becker (Dupuis) and Ross (Charles Powell), open fire on David, whose chest explodes in a shower of gears, bolts, and wires. They explain to the astonished Alliance men that David was a new “type 3” screamer impersonating a human. Most of the NEB contingent has been wiped out by another “David” screamer that a patrol unwittingly brought into the base; Becker, Ross, and a black marketeer named Jessica (Rubin) are the only survivors. The group heads to the NEB command center but finds only an empty building and large pools of blood. Locating the mainframe computer, Hendricksson learns that the NEB truce offer was just as false as the Alliance message from Earth. The group retreats to the NEB bunker, pursued by “Davids”. The discovery that the screamers have “evolved” new versions on their own that are indistinguishable from humans, and immune to Alliance tabs, leads to paranoia and distrust. Becker becomes convinced that Ross is a screamer and kills him, only to discover that he was human. The four survivors retreat to the Alliance base, only to find that the “Davids” have gained entrance to that compound as well, with equally devastating results. As dozens of “Davids” pour out of the bunker’s entrance, Hendricksson fires a micro-nuclear missile into the bunker. Jefferson rushes to the aid of Becker, who was apparently injured in the blast, but Becker’s cries of distress are a ruse; he is a “type 2” screamer, and he kills Jefferson. After Hendricksson destroys Becker, only he and Jessica remain.Now quite paranoid, Hendricksson worries that Jessica could be a screamer as well. He slashes her hand, and is relieved to see blood dripping from the wound. They locate an emergency escape shuttle, but it can carry only one person. Hendricksson offers the shuttle to Jessica; but a second “Jessica” arrives, confirming that she is a screamer after all, and even more human-like. Hendricksson resigns himself to death; but to his surprise, Jessica shields him, then sacrifices herself in battle with her lookalike. With her last breath, Jessica confesses her love for Hendricksson. Hendricksson departs for Earth on the escape shuttle with a single souvenir, the teddy bear carried by the original “David”. As the screen fades to black, the bear slowly begins to move on its own.Like most sci-fi films, the most interesting part of the movie is the antagonists which in this case is the screamers. They were initially small machines that would burrow underground, that would shoot out of the ground and slice off body parts from people. They have eventually evolved into much more advanced machines, leading to many tense and creepy scenes. There’s no nudity unless you count a woman’s back as nudity, there isn’t much blood and gore which was a surprise considering the screamers all have blades. What the film has is a constant sense of dread, and we’re left as much in the dark as Weller’s character on who can be trusted.

 

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REVIEW: HEMOGLOBIN

CAST

Roy Dupuis (La Femme Nikita)
Kristin Lehman (Andromeda)
Joanna Noyles (Wicker Park)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Leni Parker (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jackie Burroughs (Willard)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing TV)

John (Roy Dupuis) and Kathleen (Kristin Lehman) Strauss are a couple attempting to uncover the secret to John’s rare blood disease. Along the way, they encounter Dr. Marlowe (Rutger Hauer), who is intrigued by the case. Little do they know that the island which they are about to set foot upon is home to the Van Dam family, mutant-like creatures who have become deformed and bloodthirsty from centuries of inbreeding. Their mutation began with their relative Eva Van Dam, who had an incestuous relationship with her twin brother. Also, they are fully functioning hermaphrodites, capable of reproducing with themselves. They need to survive on (dead or alive) human flesh.

John eventually discovers that he is in fact a Van Dam, who was born normal looking, and was therefore allowed into normal society. His rare blood disease stems from the fact that he needs human flesh and sex with his siblings in order to function properly.

The movie is fairly fast paced, though the insertion of a sex scene comes off as forced and staged, interrupting the film’s progression for the purpose of a few quick breast shots. The creature effects aren’t that great, indeed, they are probably one of the poorer portions of the film. The footage of the underground catacombs though is just wonderful.The film tries to play with atmosphere, and does us the courtesy of not waving badly made up monsters in our face. Indeed, one of the more tense scenes plays out mostly in shadow as the creatures storm the local lighthouse.

REVIEW: EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT – SEASON 1-5

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MAIN CAST

Kevin Kilner (Dollhouse)
Lisa Howard (Robocop: THe Series)
Von Flores (Never Cry Werewolf)
David Hemblen (La Femme Nikita)
Richard Chevolleau (Rookie Blue)
Leni Parker (Screamers)
Anita La Selva (Rogue)
Robert Leeshock (Dead End Road)
Jayne Heitmeyer (Snake Eyes)
Melinda Deines (Mutant X)
Alan van Sprang (Reign)
Guylaine St-Onge (Mutant X)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Flipowich (Charlie Jade)
Lisa Ryder (Andromeda)
Majel Barrett (Star Trek)
Miranda Kwok (Ride or Die)
Sharu Guthrie (Pitch Black)
Malin Ackerman (Watchmen)
Emily Hampshire (Cosmopolis)
Peter Krantz (Exotica)
John Evans (Dirty Pictures)
Colette Stevenson (This is Wonderland)
Kristin Lehman (The Killing)
Nigel Bennett (Cypher)
Maurice Dean Wint (Cube)
Damon D’Oliveira (Short Circuit 2)
Kari Matchett (Wonderfalls)
Shauna MacDonald (Reign)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
William De Vry (Beauty and The Beast)
Paul Johansson (Highlander: The Raven)
Barry Flatman (Odyssey 5)
Montse Viader (Whipped)
Shawn Doyle (Reign)
Polly Shannon (Lie With Me)
Andrew Jackson (Andromeda)
Monika Schnarre (The New Addams Family)
Christina Cox (Stargate SG.1)
Janet Kidder (Arrow)
Fiona Highet (Bitten)
Francoise Yip (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Dean McDermott (Open Range)
Carlo Rota (Stargate Universe)
Frank Moore (Rabid)
Richard Zeppieri (Driven)
Chandra West (White Noise)
Andrew Airlie (Final Destination 2)
Reagan Pasternak (Being Erica)
Mark Lutz (Angel)
J.C. MacKenzie (Dark Angel)
Marina Sirtis (STar Trek: TNG)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Lindy Booth (Odyssey 5)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Sarah LaFleur (Ugly Betty)
Garwin Sanford (Stargate: Atlantis)
Stacy Grant (Shanghai Noon)
Larissa Laskin (John Q)
Victor A. Young (Highlander: the Series)
Ramona Milano (Pushing Tin)
Lexa Doig (Andromeda)
Andrew Gillies (Mutant X)
Noam Jenkins (Saw II)
Helen Taylor (Thoughtcrimes)
Peter Outerbridge (Beauty and The Beast)
Margot Kidder (Superman)
Anthony Lemke (Mutant X)
Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls)
James Gallanders (Bride of Chucky)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)

I started watching this with rather low expectations — everything with Roddenberry’s name on it, other than Star Trek , has been a bit of a flop. So I was pleasantly surprised that this story of alien contact with a hidden ulterior motive is done quite well.

The Taelons arrived on Earth three years ago, and have helped eliminate much poverty and hunger. Selected members of their race — Companions — live on earth, and are aided by human agents implanted with a CVI, an alien virus that increases intelligence and has a motivational imperative to be loyal to the Taelons. But the Taelons are secretive, and not all humans are convinced of their good intentions. A Resistance sets up, and they place an agent, William Boone, with a modified CVI that has no such motivational imperative. The series follows Boone’s adventures as he tries to find out what the Taelons are up to, without blowing his cover.

That the Talons do have a secret purpose becomes clearer as the season progresses, but what it is precisely remains a mystery. The uncovering of the secrets, and the story arcs, are well handled. The Taelons come across as an interestingly conflicted race, some more pro-human, and less happy with whatever it is they are up to, than others. And the Resistance is nicely complex, too — sometimes seeming to be irrationally fanatic, sometimes seeming to be Earth’s last best hope for freedom. Boone does the agonised man trapped between two worlds bit quite well.

There is thankfully very little techno-babble, although some implausible technology rears its head (yet another case of whipping up an antidote to a disease in less than an episode — and a DNA sequence alone is not sufficient to recreate an adult person — and if the Taelons simply monitored Boone’s video phone, they’d get a nasty shock!) Yet, minor quibbles aside, this has been a fun journey.

Don’t be fooled by the box cover. I don’t know why they chose to have Kevin Kilner (William Boone) on the cover. I guess maybe because Boone’s fate was the cliffhanger of Season 1. But rest assured, this is not some sort of “alternate version” of Season 1 that’s repackaged as a misleading “Season 2,” as some fans had speculated, including myself. Trust me, this is Season 2 for real, just as advertised. The back of the box mentions Liam Kincaid, but shows pictures of Kilner (Boone). Ironic, considering Boone is already “dead” by Season 2 and makes no appearances until Season 5. So yes, the first episode of Season 2 is “First Of Its Kind,” Liam Kincaid being born. The rest of the episodes of Season 2 follow.

A lot of E:FC fans were turned off when the series changed direction, when they killed off Kevin Kilner (Boone’s) character, and brought Robert Leeshock (Liam) to replace him. I for one fell in love with it, then watched it to the end during its normal run on television, including the  Season 5. I can see how a lot of people would be pissed off that they axed Kevin Kilner (Boone) from the series. However, I must say that Liam Kincaid’s story arc, of him being a “man who’s more than human,” having Shaqarava in his palms (for Season 2 at least), having supposedly 75% Jaridian DNA, having precognitive powers, and his relationship with Augur, Lili, Doors, (as well as others introduced in Seasons 3 and 4) made for a good show.

I must say that E:FC would be nothing without the Liam Kincaid story arc. He carried the series from Season 2 to Season 4. Liam Kincaid, Ronald Sandoval, Da’an, and Zo’or. These are the players to watch out for, the major movers and shakers whose interplays determine the future of Earth. Liam’s relationship with Da’an was the strongest in Season 2, and it was very entertaining to see him use powers such as the Shaqarava, which can, among other things, fire lethal blasts, revive recently slain allies, deflect Jaridian Replicant energy beams, expel Dark Matter.

By the beginning of Earth: Final Conflict: Season Three, it is learned that the Taelons are ruthless and cunning; willing to manipulate anything and anyone to benefit their agenda. Their agenda is primarily fueled by their inter-galactic war with a race of aliens that share a common ancestor with them, the Jaridians. While the Taelons are long-lived and based on an energy physiology, the Jaridians are flesh & bone, with very short life expectancies. The Taelons main advantage has been their lifespan and technological edge, as well as their ability to travel faster than light. The Jaridians, on the other hand, have the advantage of sheer numbers with a scorch & burn policy towards their enemy and any who assist them.

 

Season three introduced Renee Palmer (Jayne Heitmeyer) as the main female lead, to assist Liam in his fight against the Taelon agenda but it also showed her as having her own agenda, based on acquiring wealth. It also phased Lili out as a regular and solidified the relationship between Liam and Auger, a computer genius with a leaning towards capitalism (much like Renee). The show evolved with each season and the plot threads of these 22 episodes focused more on unveiling the secrets (and weaknesses) of the aliens than any other season. The show was very much a social commentary and on its good days, showed the mindset of the radical Roddenberry whose idealism was obvious in all of his television shows .

Da’an helps to make sure that the Human/Jaridian hybrid lives. The Jaridians are dying, and Vorjack had hoped that the child would hold the key to their salvation, but this does not happen as expected. Before Vorjack dies from being on Earth for too long for his body to handle, Liam thinks quickly and saves his life. Lili, the Jaridian, and their hybrid child, manage to escape as Liam wishes them well.

Augur runs into trouble with the law and is forced into hiding. He offers his friend Juliet Street, a.k.a. J.Street, the opportunity to take over his role in the Resistance, and she accepts. She proves savvy and intelligent, eventually revealing that she has rare ability to think and calculate in multiple dimensions, which makes her a target for the increasingly desperate Taelons.The Resistance goes above ground once again when Renee and Liam team up with an international group, the Atlantic National Alliance, dedicated to defending human interests against the Taelons.Toward the end of the season, it is discovered that the Taelons are a dying race as well; their core energy is almost spent. More and more Taelons are entering stasis, and Zo’or becomes increasingly desperate to save his species. It is also revealed that Zo’or is Da’an’s child.

Liam and Renee discover a regeneration chamber hidden deep in a volcano, set in place long ago by Ma’el. Liam realizes that all species are interconnected and he must play a role in saving the Taelons, despite all the trouble they have caused. He brings them out of stasis. To conserve energy, they combine their essence into just six Taelons who go down to the regeneration chamber. At the same time, the remainder of Vorjack’s Jaridian fleet arrives on the scene. Zo’or, greedy to ensure his own survival, touches an energy pool in the chamber and is absorbed into it. Liam convinces the Jaridians to attempt a “joining” with the Taelons, which, it is believed, will return them to an earlier evolutionary form that is better suited to survival. As the volcano erupts, the joining procedure begins with Liam’s help, but it is unclear who or what will survive.

Liam, the Taelons, and the Jaridians have disappeared but their efforts, far from saving everyone, have doomed the galaxy: they have awakened the Atavus, a race of energy vampires that preceded the Taelons and Jaridians. Renee and Street are the only ones who know the truth of what’s happening: the Resistance is disbanded and the human governments are in no rush to accept the beginning of another war with an alien race. Their only ally is Raj’el, the first and now the last of the Taelons, who is forced to provide covert support from the heart of the Taelon mothership.

To make matters worse, Sandoval, left in control of the Taelon mothership, allies with the Atavus leaders Howlyn and Juda. Together, they are able to keep their presence hidden for much of the season. Their plan is to create an army of Atavus-Human hybrids by means of a joining process, then use the hybrids to awaken other Atavus hives hidden around the world. As the season progresses, a few familiar faces re-enter the fight: William Boone is brought back as a trap for Renee, but he quickly joins her side. In response, Sandoval and Howlyn revive Zo’or, giving him a new body as a female Atavus, but Renee and Boone are able to defeat their nemesis once and for all.

Final Conflict comes to a head when Liam returns to help Renee stop Howlyn from unleashing his elite warriors from the long-buried Atavus mothership. At the end of the series, Liam, Renee and Raj’el depart in the Taelon mothership, resolving to bring the few trustworthy Atavus home and indulge in a little adventure along the way.

Season 5 was universally despised by most fans, this was because of the lost of da’an and Liam, bringing in  new aliens in the final season was a bold move.  Alan Van Sprang joining the cast as Howlyn was brilliant and it allowed Renee to take centre stage. the final episode was a satisfying conclusion, leaving just enough rope to dangle just in case they continued.