REVIEW: WATCHMEN – THE DIRECTORS CUT

CAST

Malin Ackerman (The Heartbreak Kid)
Billy Crudup (Almost Famous)
Matthew Goode (Match Point)
Jackie Earle Haley (Human Target)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring)
Carla Gugino (Sin City)
Matt Frewer (Jailbait)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rob Labelle (Jack Frost)
Garry Chalk (Dark angel)
Chris Gauthier (Smallville)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Jerry Wasserman (I, Robot)
Don Thompson (Slither)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Mark Acheson (Elf)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Apollonia Vanova (Man of Steel)
Carrie Genzel (Jennifer’s Body)
Frank Cassini (Timecop)
Sonya Salomaa (The Collector)
Michael Eklund (Arrow)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)
Colin Lawrence (Virgin River)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Sahar Biniaz (Blade: The Series)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
Michael Adamthwaite (Supergirl)

Malin Akerman and Patrick Wilson in Watchmen (2009)In the latter half of the 1980s, three illustrated novels challenged the mainstream perception of comic books. While the Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman introduced emotionally complex subject matter and established the genre as a viable literary format, Frank Miller’s ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’ scaled national bestseller lists and demonstrated that superheroes struggle with the conditions of the world they feel destined to protect. When the 12-issue limited series of ‘Watchmen’ by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons was published as a novel-length comic, it stunned audiences with its commercial success and its innovative structure layout. The book’s narrative also took a radical approach, scrutinizing the concept of superheros and offering a sort of “deconstruction” of their being, one which has pervaded the comic book world, including film adaptations, ever since. Over twenty years later, director Zack Snyder finally brings to the screen what so many once thought could never be filmed.Matthew Goode in Watchmen (2009)Taking place in an alternate reality of America, where Richard Nixon is serving his fourth term as president after winning the Vietnam War. The Keene Act of 1977 has outlawed all acts of masked vigilantism, forcing many into retirement. One October night, the murder of Edward Blake interests Rorschach, a masked avenger seen by the public as more a psychotic criminal than a hero. His investigation leads him to discover that Blake was the man behind The Comedian, a fellow crime fighter turned government operative. Fearing a conspiracy against costumed adventurers, he sets out to warn his former comrades: the Batman-esque Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl, the successful businessman Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, an angst-ridden Laurie Juspeczyk/Silk Spectre, and the only true superhero of the bunch Dr. Jon Osterman/Doctor Manhattan. As the investigation progresses, the band of superhero outcasts uncovers a plot more sinister and gruesome than they initially expected, revealing an enemy no one would’ve anticipated.Matthew Goode and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in Watchmen (2009)At the time of its theatrical release, the film version of the popular graphic novel was seen as a mild success, never coming close to expected box office figures. It was also heavily criticized by fans on internet boards around the globe for failing to truly capture the spirit of the series. Being one of those critics (yes, I am that kind of a nerd), the 162-minute adaptation felt rushed and heavily cluttered, as a wealth of information was quickly thrown at the audience with little time to digest it all. Those unfamiliar with the novel were alienated by the onscreen events, while the core fans saw a large amount of exposition skimmed over for the sake of time. Ultimately, what is now considered the theatrical cut seemed more concerned with reverence for its source, rather than a commitment to acting as a legitimate film that stood on its own. Much of the novel’s power and depth was lost in the translation.Jackie Earle Haley in Watchmen (2009)Now, in this Director’s Cut, Snyder is allowed to thicken the plot and create a better flow within the already-trimmed narrative. Arguably, Snyder shows more style over substance, seemingly imitating the original look of the comic rather than offering his own interpretation. But with 24 minutes of footage now added to the story, the film captures the comic’s dark, gritty appeal nicely, giving it more of a realistic feel and creating more human fascination. These masked vigilantes are confronted with contemporary real-world events, where they are frequently made aware of the Cold War reaching the breaking point and the fact that nuclear holocaust is imminent. As gloomy and pessimistic as that may sound, the idea posits these would-be superheroes against issues of power and the failure of salvation. They must cope with the world as it truly is: a dark and unpredictable existence, driven by fear and uncertainty of the future.This band of costumed avengers challenges what normally typifies the superheroics of their peers. They are flawed humans and deeply haunted by their pasts, primarily a shared experience of feeling unwanted from The Keene Act. Their interactions with one another and society at large expose questions about the limitations inherent to the superhero archetype trying to save humanity from itself. It’s the reason why fans are attracted to the two most complex characters in the series: Rorschach and The Comedian. While one idealizes his fight against injustice as a battle that must be won, the other possesses a harshly cynical worldview of civilization doomed beyond repair. The narrative also opens doors to discussions on power relations and politics, issues of certainty and doubt, metaphysics and existential nihilism, moral ambiguity, and Ozymandias’s actions bring to mind Nietzsche’s central theme of the “Master-slave morality”.Coming in at 186 minutes, ‘Watchmen: Director’s Cut’ may be daunting to some viewers, but for fans, this will be the closest we’ll ever come to seeing a faithful adaptation of the ragtag group of outcasts. Some of its drawbacks, I feel, are quickly outweighed by the overall sense that the comic book’s central conceit is maintained and clearly expressed with a genuine approach. Granted, certain aspects are still missing, but I admit they are necessary alterations to make the transition into film a success. As a long time fan of the illustrated novel, this director’s cut of ‘Watchmen’ easily bests the theatrical version, making it worthy of multiple viewings to take in its dense and complex implications.
After twenty years of hardcore fans hearing that the ‘Watchmen’ comics are “unfilmable”, Zack Snyder defies logic and gives audiences the closest we’ll ever come to experiencing the novel on film. In the ‘Watchmen: Director’s Cut’, Snyder is allowed to flesh out the details better and create a smoother narrative flow, offering an improved vision of this alternate reality.

REVIEW: WATCHMEN

 

CAST

Malin Ackerman (The Heartbreak Kid)
Billy Crudup (Almost Famous)
Matthew Goode (Match Point)
Jackie Earle Haley (Human Target)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring)
Carla Gugino (Sin City)
Matt Frewer (Jailbait)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rob Labelle (Jack Frost)
Garry Chalk (Dark angel)
Chris Gauthier (Smallville)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Jerry Wasserman (I, Robot)
Don Thompson (Slither)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Mark Acheson (Elf)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Apollonia Vanova (Man of Steel)
Carrie Genzel (Jennifer’s Body)
Frank Cassini (Timecop)
Sonya Salomaa (The Collector)
Michael Eklund (Arrow)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)
Colin Lawrence (Virgin River)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Sahar Biniaz (Blade: The Series)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
Michael Adamthwaite (Supergirl)

66262-ycoiuhbnkq-1503295178Watchmen was easily the most hotly awaited picture of the first half of 2009, and I’ll readily admit that the dynamic yellow-and-red poster billboards around town generated a charge of anticipation that Savant hasn’t felt in years. That the film was not considered a runaway success doesn’t surprise me. A movie about superheroes that is neither consistently feel-good nor entertainingly funny is a hard sell. Other writers have noted that the Watchmen are relative unknowns in comparison to icons like Spiderman and Superman; there’s less of a built-in audience for them. Describing the Watchmen movie also suggests expressions like “intellectual puzzle” and “non-linear”. Large segments of the audience have little use for narrative complexities and historical irony.

What movie audiences do care about is action, and to compensate Watchmen ratchets up the graphic novel’s considerable violence. Bloody content limited to a single comic panel or two, looks like gore porn when turned into a film sequence.  Even with a few subplots deleted, Watchmen is so complicated that it bears comparison with David Lynch’s noble 1984 attempt to film Dune. Lynch got lost in wall-to-wall exposition and characters reduced to walk-ons. Watchmen avoids the same fate by closely following the original’s highly cinematic structure. Moore and Gibbons’ comic book panels made heavy use of devices familiar to moviegoers — parallel cutting, associative transitions.Watchmen is a multi-generational story of costumed superhero crime fighters. They got their start in the 1940s as “The Minutemen”, later formed another association called “The Watchmen” and then were outlawed in the early 1980s. Most have kept their anonymity in retirement. Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre (Malin Ackerman), Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) and The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) have no super-powers. The one Watchman who does is Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), an “atomic man” who glows a soft blue color. A research scientist transformed into a near demigod by an experiment gone wrong, Dr. Manhattan wins the Vietnam War for Richard Nixon, allowing the President to run for a third term by popular demand. Most of Watchmen plays out as a science fiction alternate history tale, although the film drops a major Sci-Fi element from the final act.In 1985 an unknown assailant murders The Comedian. Defying the ban on costumed vigilantes, Rorschach warns the other Watchmen and puts pressure on the underworld to find out who is responsible. Dr. Manhattan breaks up with Laurie Jupiter (secretly the Silk Spectre) and abandons humanity to meditate on Mars. The Cold War goes into panic mode, as the U.S. and the Soviets are already at the brink of nuclear war, and Dr. Manhattan was America’s defense insurance policy. Laurie and Dan Dreiburg (secretly the Nite Owl) become an item. Frustrated by all the bad news, they ignore the ban and reassume their roles as crime fighters. Laurie and Dan spring Rorschach from prison and begin an investigation that leads to the activities of the millionaire technocrat Adrian Veidt, formerly Ozymandias.That synopsis doesn’t begin to touch the intricacies of Watchmen or its pleasing assortment of superheroes, that collectively flesh out a pantheon of comic book traditions. The Nite Owl is a kinder Batman type, a quiet millionaire who has engineered a flying vehicle and other crime-fighting gadgets. He’s actually following in the footsteps of the original Nite Owl, a two-fisted hero from the 1940s. The Silk Spectre is a Wonder Woman- like beauty with identity issues. She was pushed into her role by her flamboyant mother, the Silk Spectre of the Minuteman years. The corrupt Comedian lost sight of his crimefighting ethics and became a murderer, war criminal, rapist and dirty ops agent for Dick Nixon. The highly intelligent Ozymandias is also a fabulously wealthy international businessman under the name Adrian Veidt; he’s put his crime-fighting past on the public record and even sells Ozymandias toy action figures. Veidt considers himself a modern Alexander the Great.The most interesting Watchman is Rorschach, a seedy misanthrope who wears a strange mask that forms mysterious symmetrical patterns identical to a psychologist’s inkblot test. Now considered an outlaw vigilante, Rorschach keeps a bitter Travis Bickle-like diary and refuses to compromise on his mission to slay criminals. Between them the Watchmen cover numerous approaches to the concept of “masked crusaders” trying to function in a complex world. Director Zack Snyder  epitomizes the modern director who prepares computerized pre-visualization sequences, directs the live action, and waits for his technician-artisans to deliver test composites to critique. Elements that the director once had to make “come together” before a real camera on a real set can now be added, subtracted or altered almost indefinitely; the director of an effects-heavy film now functions as a creative manager. Snyder openly admits that his goal is to faithfully replicate the visions of other artists, which has prompted some to question exactly what he contributes artistically to the show. To the extent that Snyder still casts and directs the actors and decides when and when not to follow the graphic novel, he is actually much more “involved” than were many old-school studio directors. Even the biggest Hollywood names sometimes worked from locked scripts and often had little contact with projects before or after the actual filming. Considering how little opportunity for personal expression the Watchmen assignment afford, Snyder’s done a fine job.In this case, closely following the original was Snyder’s only choice. CGI allows the presentation of almost any visual, and the leagues of Watchmen fans wouldn’t have tolerated detours from their story. Most of Snyder’s adjustments are good ones. The strange sidebar tangent involving a “Black Freighter” horror comic has wisely been spun off into a separate direct-to-video production. To get out from under a mountain of plot complications, Snyder drops Adrian Veidt’s elaborate hoax on humanity that involves murdering an army of technicians that mock up the corpse of a gigantic space alien.Watchmen was somewhat overpowering in the movie theater, precisely because it is so close to the original. Instead of being taken in a new direction, I felt like Snyder was holding the book in front of my eyes and turning the pages for me. But movies of this kind are no longer made to be seen only once, and on a second viewing it was easier to simply watch what was happening, admire the classy designs and marvel at the excellent casting.

REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 5

Starring

Josh Radnor (The Hunt)
Jason Segel (Sex Tape)
Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Endgame)
Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Bob Saget (Full House)

Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel in How I Met Your Mother (2005)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joe Manganiello (Justice League)
Rizwan Manji (The Dictator)
Lindsay Sloane (Sabrina: TTW)
Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
David Henrie (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Olga Fonda (The Vampire Diaries)
Marshall Manesh (Will & Grace)
Julianna Guill (Captain America: Civil War)
Alan Thicke (Growing Pains)
April Bowlby (Doom Patrol)
Matt Jones (Mom)
Eva Amurri Martino (Saved!)
Sarah Wright (American Made)
Chris Elliott (The Abyss)
Christina Pickles (Masters of The Universe)
Bill Fagerbakke (Spongebob Squarepants)
Suzie Plakson (Disclosure)
JoAnna Garcia Swisher (The Internship)
Charlene Amoia (American Pie: Reunion)
Matthew Moy (2 Broke Girls)
Benjamin Koldyke (The Finest Hours)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Harvey Fierstein (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Rachel Bilson (Jumper)
Stacy Keibler (The Comebacks)
Joe Nieves (Stuck In The Middle)
Amanda Peet (Identity)
Larry Poindexter (17 Again)
Taran Killam (12 Years a Slave)
Bar Paly (Pain & Gain)
David Burtka (Neil’s Puppet Dreams)
Carrie Underwood (Soul Surfer)
Jennifer Lopez (The Cell)
Laura Prepon (That 70s Show)
Brooke Nevin (Scorpion)
Anne Dudek (Mad Men)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Harry Groener (Buffy: TVS)
Arianna Huffington (The Cleveland Show)
Michael York (Logan’s Run)
Malin Akerman (Watchmen)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Chris Kattan (Undercover Brother)

Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Ted begins his job as a professor of architecture, standing in the middle of a classroom – although the mother was present, it turns out to be an economics class as he’s in the wrong lecture hall. Barney and Robin have had a sexual relationship throughout the summer and Lily locks them in a room, forcing them to come to terms with their relationship. After a rough patch they decide to break up. Robin describes it instead as “two friends getting back together.” Barney immediately goes back to his old ways, using the playbook to score with women. Throughout the season Barney and Robin show feelings of regret over their break-up.Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Ted dates a graduate student named Cindy (Rachel Bilson) and it is revealed her roommate is his future wife. Robin meets Don Frank (Benjamin Koldyke), her new co-anchor on her 4 AM TV show. Though she initially dislikes him, the two start dating and eventually she moves in with him. At the end of the season they break up when Don takes a job in Chicago — a job which Robin had previously turned down to stay in New York with Don. Marshall uses his fourth slap on Barney, once again at Thanksgiving. Ted buys a house, which needs to be fixed up badly, but is later revealed to be the future home for Ted and his children.Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Lily and Marshall are still unsure about having children. After watching four doppelgangers of their group (Lesbian Robin, Moustache Marshall, Stripper Lily and Mexican Wrestler Ted) they decide to leave the big decision to the universe’s “infinite wisdom” and start trying when they have seen Barney’s Doppelganger. In the season finale, Barney disguises himself to have sex with a girl from every country in the world, and Lily and Marshall mistake him for the final doppelganger. When Marshall finds out, he decides not to tell Lily, fearing she will want to wait even longer to have children. Lily eventually finds out and decides to wait. In the season finale, Lily thinks she sees Barney’s doppelganger as a hot dog vendor, which causes the group to realize she is seeing what she wants to see, and play along. Eventually Barney agrees having babies is not a stupid idea and Lily and Marshall should go forth. The season ends with Lily asking Marshall to “put a baby in my belly”.Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Another great season which leaves you wanting to find out what happens next in season 6.

 

 

REVIEW: WANDRLUST

Starring

Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Jennifer Aniston (Bruce Almighty)
Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder)
Malin Åkerman (Watchmen)
Lauren Ambrose (The Other Woman)
Joe Lo Truglio (Paul)
Alan Alda (The Aviator)
Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms)
Ken Marino (Veronica Mars)
Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Kerri Kenney-Silver (Downsizing)
Michaela Watkins (Enough Said)
Linda Lavin (Whitewash)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Jessica St. Clair (American Hosuewife)
Mather Zickel (Bones)

Joe Lo Truglio and Paul Rudd in Wanderlust (2012)George and Linda Gergenblatt are an urban married couple who purchase a micro-loft in New York after much hesitation. George is expecting a promotion while Linda is trying to sell a documentary to HBO. Soon after purchasing their home, George learns that his company has folded, overnight, while HBO rejects Linda’s documentary. With both out of work, they are forced to sell their apartment and drive to Atlanta to live with George’s arrogant brother Rick and his wife Marisa after Rick offers George a job.Jennifer Aniston, Malin Akerman, and Paul Rudd in Wanderlust (2012)After many hours on the highway, Linda demands they stop to rest. The closest place to stop appears to be a bed and breakfast hotel named Elysium. After exiting the highway, as they approach, they are surprised to see a naked man walking ahead of them. He approaches them. Startled and apprehensive, George tries to back up to the highway, but accidentally flips the car over. The nude man, Wayne Davidson, helps them out of the car, and they are forced to stay at the hotel. They meet several colorful guests, and then go to bed. While trying to sleep, they are distracted by noises downstairs. When they go to investigate, they learn that Elysium is a hippie commune. They meet various eccentric residents of Elysium, including Seth, Eva, and Elysium’s owner Carvin. George and Linda spend the night feeling more alive than before. In the morning, everyone helps flip the car back upright so they can leave, as Seth urges them to stay, but they continue on to Atlanta.Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd in Wanderlust (2012)George and Linda arrive at Rick’s house and find the atmosphere chaotic. George quickly reaches a breaking point with Rick and takes Linda back to Elysium, where they are welcomed back. George is excited about the simpler lifestyle while Linda is hesitant. They decide to stay and give the place a two-week trial run. After a few days, Linda starts feeling enlightened after drinking some drug laced tea in the truth circle, while George begins having second thoughts. George and Linda soon learn that ‘free love’ is strongly encouraged as Seth and Eva want to seduce Linda and George, respectively. Both George and Linda rebuff the notion of free love, and several crazy situations arise during that period, bizarre and otherwise.Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux in Wanderlust (2012)At the same time, Elysium is being targeted by property developers to build a casino on the property, as title to the property is disputed, and Carvin has misplaced the deed to the land. After the developers arrive with a bulldozer, to make a TV reporting-crew take more interest, Linda scares them off by flashing them her breasts, and many of the other residents join her, which gets sensationalized coverage, and halts the proceeding. Linda is lauded as a hero by the commune. The two weeks are up, and George demands that they leave, saying that if they stay, they would have to give in to ‘free love’. Linda wants to stay and has sex with Seth. George is pressured to have sex with Eva, but he becomes uncomfortable and drives her away with his awkward and bizarre behavior. The next morning, George reaches a breaking point, again, stating that he dislikes the rules of Elysium and wants to leave. Linda wants to stay, so George goes back to Rick’s house alone.Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd in Wanderlust (2012)Seth believes he has found his soul mate in Linda and searches for the deed to Elysium, which he finds and sells to the property developers, for $11,000, to start a new life with Linda, betraying the commune. A child from the commune witnesses the burning of the deed by Seth and the man that wants to build the casino. Seth tells Linda he wants them to leave Elysium behind, together, and that the others can look after themselves. Linda refuses. In the meantime, George realizes he loves Linda and comes back to find her, getting into a fight with Seth while the commune looks on and tries to help ‘non-violently’. The child that witnessed the burning of the deed by Seth tells the commune what happened and George punches Seth in the jaw.Jennifer Aniston, Malin Akerman, Lauren Ambrose, Kerri Kenney, Joe Lo Truglio, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Peter Salett, Kathryn Hahn, and Jordan Peele in Wanderlust (2012)In the aftermath, the news show that visited Elysium does a follow-up story about the commune. George and Linda start a publishing company, with their first book being a political thriller novel written by Wayne. The novel is then fast-tracked into a film adaptation starring Ray Liotta. Carvin reclaims his rights to Elysium after he is reunited with all the original founders of Elysium, one of whom had another copy of the deed. In a post-credits scene, Marisa is a cast member of the television reality show The Real Housewives of Atlanta.Jennifer Aniston, Malin Akerman, Kerri Kenney, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, and Peter Salett in Wanderlust (2012)Take this film at face value and suspend your disbelief, take off your critic hat and just enjoy!

REVIEW: EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT – SEASON 1

Starring

Kevin Kilner (Dollhouse)
Lisa Howard (Highlander: The Series)
Von Flores (Never Cry Werewolf)
Richard Chevolleau (Hannibal)
Leni Parker (Screamers)
David Hemblen (La Femme Nikita)

Earth: Final Conflict (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Filipowich (24)
Lisa Ryder (Andromeda)
John Evans (Street Legal)
Majel Barrett (Star Trek: TNG)
Miranda Kwok (Jane Doe)
Shary Guthrie (Highlander: The Raven)
Malin Akerman (Watchmen)
Emily Hampshire (12 Monkeys)
Peter Krantz (Exotica)
David Calderisi (Flashpoint)
Richard McMillan (Cube Zero)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Colette Stevenson (Mutant X)
Anita La Selva (Dead End Road)
Jonathan Potts (Rupture)
Claudette Mink (Paycheck)
Nigel Bennett (The Shape of The Water)
Maurice Dean Wint (Cube)
Damon D’Oliveira (Relic Hunter)
Sonia Dhillon Tully (Taken)
Kari Matchett (Cypher)
Jody Racicot (Flash Gordon)
Shauna MacDonald (Hemlock Grove)
Kristin Lehman (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
Blu Mankuma (2012)
Patricia Gage (American Psycho)
William deVry (Stargate SG.1)
Kate Trotter (Covert Affairs)
Paul Johansson (Van Helsing)

Horizon_zero_01I 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.efe2f80f2d4219ea2683df4e134d1cb1--kevin-oleary-finalsThe 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.61e9bec633b987021515c8c2da512249That 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.maxresdefaultThere 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.

REVIEW: COUPLES RETREAT

CAST
Vince Vaughn (Old School)
Jason Bateman (Identity Thief)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Faizon Love (Torque)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Malin Akerman (Watchmen)
Kristin Davis (Bad Teacher TV)
Kali Hawk (New Girl)
Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)
Jean Reno (Leon)
Temuera Morrison (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Jonna Walsh (Faster)
Vernon Vaughn (Swingers)
John Michael Higgins (Yes Man)
Ken Jeong (The hangover)
Karen David (Legacies)
MV5BMjAyOTgwMDc1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjQyODE2Mg@@._V1_
Dave (Vince Vaughn), a dealer for Guitar Hero, and Ronnie (Malin Åkerman), a stay-at-home mom, are a typical couple raising two young children in the suburbs of Chicago. They experience various stresses including redecorating their house and raising their kids. Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis) are high school sweethearts with a smart but naive teenage daughter named Lacey. Their relationship is on the rocks and they are even considering a divorce once Lacey goes off to college. Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) are a neurotic couple who’ve experienced multiple failed attempts to conceive, and Shane (Faizon Love), who has recently separated from his wife, has a much younger twenty-year-old girlfriend, Trudy (Kali Hawk).
At Dave’s son’s birthday party, Jason and Cynthia, using PowerPoint, announce their troubled marriage and they are considering divorce because they cannot have a baby. As a last-ditch effort, they have found a couples therapy resort named Eden. A deal called the Pelican Package is half the normal cost if they can get three other couples to join them. In their presentation, they show beautiful pictures of sunlit beaches and beautiful locations. They also assure the others that the couples therapy is purely optional. Dave and Ronnie discuss their inability to go because of childcare responsibilities and decline the trip. In the middle of the night, their home security alarm is activated when Jason shows up unexpectedly to further sell the idea of the retreat. The commotion wakes the kids, who have overheard their parents’ conversations of not being able to go because of them. Fearing that their parents are contemplating divorce, the kids have already arranged for Dave’s father, Grandpa Jim-Jim (played by Vince Vaughn’s real-life father, Vernon Vaughn) to babysit so their parents can go to Eden.
The retreat proves to be divided into Eden West and Eden East. West is for couples and uses the tagline “Stay Together”. East is for singles and uses the tagline “Come Together”. East and West attendees are not allowed to intermingle. Upon arrival at Eden West, the four couples are shown their villas. At dinner, Sctanley [sic] (pronounced “Stanley”), the resort host (Peter Serafinowicz), informs them that couples therapy, which starts at 6 a.m., is actually mandatory. If any couple fails to attend, it will be taken as an indication that they want to leave, and a refund for Eden will be given, although not for their airfare. The group debates what to do. After an indulgent dinner with many delicacies, they decide to put up with “a couple of hours” of therapy in order to enjoy the other amenities of the resort.
In the morning, each couple meets with an assigned therapist. All four couples learn that they have problems, even Ronnie and Dave, who thought they were fine. They endure resort owner Marcel’s (Jean Reno) unusual methods, including swimming with and feeding lemon sharks and yoga sessions with amorous instructor Salvadore (Carlos Ponce). On the fourth night, Trudy escapes to Eden East. The other seven, encouraged by Joey who is unsatisfied with his marriage, leave to find her. Following an argument between Cynthia and Jason, the men and women split up. As they try to find their way to the resort, the men end up arguing and pointing out each others’ marriage mistakes.
The women run into Salvadore who takes them to Eden East. The men come across the staff lounge where they find Sctanley playing Guitar Hero. He threatens to report them to Marcel, but Dave challenges him to the game (without telling Sctanley that he is involved in the game’s production). Sctanley, after having lost the wager, directs them to Eden East, even though he knows he was tricked by Dave. When they arrive, Dave realizes what a good thing he has with Ronnie. He goes with her to be alone at a waterfall. Joey finds Lucy with Salvadore and knocks him out, reuniting with his wife. Cynthia and Jason share drinks and end up becoming intimate. Shane runs into his ex-wife, who admits she still loves him. Shane tells Trudy to remain in Eden East and enjoy being single, then leaves with his ex-wife. All four couples return to Eden West. Marcel, seeing that the couples have worked out their problems, frees them from the therapy and allows them to go jet skiing, and with that, really enjoy the rest of their vacation.
Hilarious film, great cast and beautiful surroundings for it to be filmed in. A Feel good film

REVIEW: THE PROPOSAL

CAST
Sandra Bullock (The Heat)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Mary Steenburgen (Elf)
Craig T. Nelson (The Incredibles)
Betty White (Bones)
Denis O’Hare (The Good Wife)
Malin Akerman (Watchmen)
Oscar Nuñez (Baywatch)
Aasif Mandvi (This way Up)
Michael Nouri (The Terminal)
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)
Margaret Tate is an executive editor in chief of a book publishing company. After learning she is about to be deported to Canada because she violated the terms of her work visa, she persuades her assistant, Andrew Paxton, to marry her. She reminds Andrew that if she’s deported, the work he put in as her assistant will be lost, and he’ll be set back in his dream to become an editor. Mr. Gilbertson, a U.S. immigration agent, informs them that he suspects they are committing fraud to avoid Margaret’s deportation. Gilbertson tells them that they’ll be asked questions about each other separately. If their answers don’t match, Margaret will be deported to Canada permanently and Andrew will be convicted of a felony punishable by a $250,000 fine and five years in prison. Andrew insists that Margaret make him an editor after their marriage and publish the book he’s been recommending to her. Margaret agrees.
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The couple travels to Sitka, Alaska, Andrew’s hometown, to meet his family. Margaret meets Andrew’s mother Grace and grandmother Annie a.k.a. “Gammy”. During the trip to the family home, Margaret notices that nearly every shop in town carries the name Paxton and learns that Andrew’s family is in fact very wealthy. During a welcome home party, Andrew confronts his father, Joe, who is angry about Andrew’s dating the boss he has so long disliked and thinks he is using her to get ahead in his career. After their argument, Andrew announces the engagement to everyone. Margaret also meets Gertrude, Andrew’s ex-girlfriend. The next day, Grace and Annie take Margaret to a local bar to watch a strip dance by a locally famous but over-the-hill exotic dancer, Ramone. Stepping away from the show, Margaret learns from Gertrude that Andrew wanted to become an editor and make his own life and that Andrew had proposed to Gertrude. However, Gertrude refused because she didn’t want to leave Sitka for New York. Returning home, Margaret learns of the conflict between Andrew and Joe. That night, Margaret asks Andrew about his relationship with his father, but Andrew refuses to talk. Instead, Margaret opens up to Andrew.
The next day, the family convinces them to marry while they’re in Sitka. After Margaret realizes how close Andrew’s family is, she becomes upset, gets on Andrew’s boat, and speeds away with him. She tells him she has been alone since she was sixteen years old after her parents died and had forgotten what it felt like to have a family. She lets go of the helm and stumbles to the back of the boat. Andrew makes a sharp turn to avoid hitting a buoy, and Margaret falls out of the boat. Andrew quickly turns the boat around and saves her because she can’t swim. At the wedding ceremony, Margaret confesses the truth about the wedding to the guests, including Gilbertson, who informs her she has twenty-four hours to leave for Canada. Margaret returns to the Paxton home to pack her things. Andrew rushes to their room only to find Margaret has already left, leaving the aforementioned book manuscript with a note of praise and a promise to publish it. Gertrude attempts to comfort Andrew and asks if he is going to go after her. As he rushes out to find Margaret, another argument arises between him and Joe. Annie fakes a heart attack and convinces them to reconcile before she “passes away”. After she succeeds in getting things moving again, she owns up to faking the heart attack. Andrew’s parents realize he really loves Margaret. He goes to New York and tells Margaret he loves her in front of the entire office staff. They kiss, then go to Gilbertson and inform him they are again engaged, but for real this time. The film ends with Gilbertson asking questions (some of them irrelevant) not only to Andrew and Margaret, but also Joe, Grace, Annie and Ramone.
There’s no surprises here, but there are good laughs and interesting scenarios, and if you are in the mood for a good comedy, this is a good pick me up.