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.

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REVIEW: SCREAMERS 1 & 2

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 on a distant mining planet called Sirius 6B, a decades long war has all but ravaged the planet. It seems that one of the groups designed something called “screamers”, a blade-wielding, self-replicating race of killing machines that were designed to kill the enemy. Years after they were designed, they began to evolve and decided to kill all human beings on the planet. Col. Hendricksson (Peter Weller) is in command of one of the groups when he discovers that everybody on the planet has been betrayed and have no hope of returning to earth, he decides that he must risk his life and cross the baron wasteland and negotiate a peace treaty between the two pockets of survivors. He has no idea who he can trust, or even if they’re human as the screamers continue to evolve.

Screamers was based on a short story by Philip K. Dick called Second Variety, and although quite a lot has been changed for “artistic purposes” it’s still essentially the same story. The screenplay was written by Dan O’Bannon who can also boast having done the screenplay’s for Alien, Dead and Buried, Return Of The Living Dead and Total Recall. It was competently directed by Canadian Christian Duguay, and although this should have been a stepping stone to doing bigger movies, it never really worked out and he mostly does tv movies now. Peter Weller, better known as Robocop is by far the best actor in the movie. He does a really good job as the leader of men, who finds himself betrayed by his government. The supporting cast all do decent jobs, apart from Weller’s character the rest tend to be typical sci-fi movie stereotypes and the actors do their best.

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.


CAST

Lance Henriksen (The Terminator)
Gina Holden (The Butterfly Effect 2)
Jana Pallaske (Euro Trip)
Greg Bryk (Bitten)
Christopher Redman (Ginger Snaps)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)

This sequel sees Earthforce receiving a distress call from an apparently abandoned mining facility on Sirius 6B, and despatching a small rescue team to investigate. Despite the production being intended as a direct-to-DVD film, the production of `The Hunting’ has clearly been put together with some thought. The special effects right from the outset are quite good. A hapless group of human survivors being eviscerated by the screamers introduces the film, and the rescue vessel and flight recorder crew briefing effects are also of a high standard. The group of unnamed jobbing actors disembark from their ship and roam the rocky wilderness, encountering a few of the aforementioned survivors who fire upon them believing the rescue party to be screamers. Upon entering the mining facility the team locate the derelict screamer production facility and bed down for the night. It isn’t long before they unwittingly awaken the automated facility and all hell breaks loose.

Whilst the finale of the first movie was suitably `Dick-ensian’, with the awakening of a teddy bear screamer in Peter Weller’s escape shuttle seeming very `Phillip K’ – the same cannot be said for this sequel, even if the picture is promoted as having been `inspired’ by Phillip K. Dick’s Second Variety short-story. The movie is exactly what it appears to be: a low-budget science fiction movie with high aspirations that pulls itself free of B-movie rubbish yet cannot scale the dizzy heights of a high quality release. Yet one positive that the film does achieve is the correction of the audience’s perception that these straight-to-DVD movies are put together by half-witted talentless incompetents. The bright and breezy featurette shows director Sheldon Wilson as an experienced and highly enthusiastic man working very hard on his way up the movie-making hierarchy, using the forum of a straight-to-DVD Screamer sequel as a credit on his portfolio. the picture is clearly put together with great gusto by all involved. One unique selling point is the original Screamers movie is included as a bonus disc.

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.