REVIEW: STARGATE: ATLANTIS – SEASON 5

Starring

Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Rachel Luttrell (A Dog’s Breakfast)
Jason Momoa (Aquaman)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)

Paul McGillion in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Kavan Smith (Mission To Mars)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Leela Savasta (Battlestar Galactica)
Sharon Taylor (Smallville)
Rainbow Francks (Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem)
Paul McGillion (The Flash)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider Dragon Knight)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Michelle Morgan (Deep Six)
Robert Moloney (Man of Steel)
Kate Hewlett (A Dog’s Breakfast)
Nicole de Boer (Star Trek: DS9)
Janina Gavankar (True Blood)
Christina Cox (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Apollonia Vanova (Watchmen)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Chelah Horsdal (Hell on Wheels)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Daniella Alonso (The Hills Have Eyes II)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Aaron Craven (The Predator)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heores)
David Lovgren (Antitrust)
Robert Davi (The Goonies)
Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
Jonathon Young (Sanctuary)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Jody Thompson (The 4400)
Frank Vincent (Goodfellas)
Steve Schirripa (The Sopranos)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)

Robert Picardo and Joe Flanigan in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Carson Beckett is back for no less than five episodes, and despite heavy use of the Wraith ship set, the stories are good and justify it. The characters are as well written as ever, I really felt the writers stepped it up a notch this season.Jewel Staite in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Robert Picardo is back as Richard Woolsey and promoting him to the role of Commander was a stroke of genus. No disrespect to Commander Weir and Colonel Carter, but in Richard Woolsey, Stargate Atlantis had finally cast its ideal leader. There are also a couple of deadpan in-jokes about his holographic Doctor character hidden in the dialogue, which are extremely funny when you spot them.Joe Flanigan in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Despite the technology getting more and more advanced, there is less of a reliance on the technology itself selling the story. There is more focus on the characters than before and all the characters get at least one episode where they take centre stage in the story – for example, David Hewlett puts in an incredibly moving performance in The Shrine where McKay is struck down with a fast acting Pegasus equivalent of Alzheimer’s. Very good use is made of the popular Wraith characters Michael and Todd, and the budding relationship between McKay and Keller is a refreshing antidote.

 

REVIEW: STARGATE: ATLANTIS – SEASON 4

Starring

Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Jason Momoa (Aquaman)
Rachel Luttrell (A Dog’s Breakfast)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)

David Nykl in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Torri Higginson (Dark Waters)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Claire Rankin (Taken TV)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sharon Taylor (Smallville)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider Dragon Knight)
Kavan Smith (Mission to Mars)
Jill Wagner (Blade: The Series)
Michael Cram (Flashpoint)
Brenda James (Slither)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Kimberley Warnat (Freddy vs Jason)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Kate Hewlett (A Dog’s Breakfast)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Brendan Penny (The A-Team)
Michelle Morgan (Deep Six)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Andee Frizzell (Flash Gordon)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Crystal Lowe (Black Xmas)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
Emma Lahana (Cloak & Dagger)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Rob LaBelle (Dark Angel)
Ben Cotton (Bates Motel)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Paul McGillion (The Flash)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)

David Hewlett in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Stargate Atlantis ups its game with season four. But it’s not with particularly clever or imaginative stories that the shows writers and producers manage to bring about this change; it’s actually in the areas of character development and action that this season really excels. With the (implied) deaths of inarguably my favourite two characters in season three, I wasn’t expecting their replacements to integrate perfectly, or right away into the Atlantis team, but both actors are given such great material to work with that it’s impossible not to be engaged with their individual story-arcs.Amanda Tapping in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)Sam carter is (of course) as brilliant as always, but unlike Doctor Weir, doesn’t appear in nearly as many episodes, or seem to be involved as deeply in the decision-making processes on the base. She just feels like any other member of the team and fits right in almost immediately. Doctor Keller is initially unconvincing in her role as chief medic, but before long she too blossoms into a really intriguing and multi-layered character.Rachel Luttrell and Jewel Staite in Stargate: Atlantis (2004)While there are more than a handful of solid Replicator and Wraith-based episodes to enjoy in this twenty-episode season, it’s the character-based stories that stand-out for me as the best examples of this season. Episode 7- `Missing’ , episode 13- `Quarantine’ and episode 16- `Trio’ are each so gripping. The final stand-out story for me would be the concluding episode- `The Last Man’, which breaks out of the mould of the finale’s of previous seasons and doesn’t involve an unprovoked attack on the city, or a multi-episode build-up. It’s pretty self-contained on the whole and mixes well themes of time-travel, action and season four’s despicable mystery nemesis.

REVIEW: ARMAGEDDON (1997)

CAST

 Rutger Hauer (Batman Begins)
Mark Decascos (Crying Freeman)
Yvonne Scio (Sorority Boys)
Patrick Dreikauss (Unknown)
Randall William Coook (King Kong)
This film is set in some futuristic Russia where people can plug themselves directly into things. I’m not really sure if any of that was explained but the plugging in aspect seemed to involve fulfilling your dreams via cable or something. Anyhoo – Rutger is a smuggler smugling some biomechanical circuits when he’s double crossed by his buddy Machis and shot in the head. His missus, who betrayed him, also gets shot in the head but when the Russian army turn up they burn her and get right to reviving Rutger using some sophisticamated doo-whackies. Obviously, when Rutger wakes up all he wants to do is shoot his partner in the head two or three hundred times.
Rutger sets out to kill everything  and therefore travels through Moscow.  Rutger hooks up with a hooker (Yvonne Scio)  and tries to track down Machis…However, it turns out that Machis is only the icing on the cake when it comes to Russian crime syndicates. The story is flimsy as hell, and the director seems to realise this, and therefore fills the film full of nudity and gore.  Even Rutger gets to do the nasty with Yvonne Scio, on several occasions, he even gets attacked by naked assassins. Add to that the gore (a guy having his fingers cut off and being fed them), and Rutger being attacked by machine gun wielding tramps – Lame, but the rest of the film is entertaining enough.

 

REVIEW: CRYING FREEMAN

CAST

Mark Dacascos (Agents of SHIELD)
Julie Condra (Screw Loose)
Tchéky Karyo (Bad Boys)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Masaya Kato (Godzilla 98)
Yoko Shimada (Kamen Rider)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Alex Diakun (Andromeda)

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The film itself is based on japanese comics and the Manga cartoon and although i have not seen any of them from every available source it seems the film is a pretty accurate representation of the Mangas, anyway the plot is about a man who was kidnapped by a an ancient Chinese warrior cult called the Sons of the Dragons, who have turned him into a perfect killer.

The killer of their group is called the Freeman, and Jo (Dacascos) carries a curse which cause’s him to cry when-ever he has to kill. Jo who was formely a potter is a compassionate, and heroic character and his capturers/bosses begin to lose control of his mind when he falls in love with a beautiful woman Emu o’Hara who he is supposed to kill after she witnesses him kill some people, so on comes gun battles, romance, Kung Fu and sword fights aplenty in this wonderfully shot action movie directed by Christophe Gans, a director with a visual flair as good as any and a sense of style and artistry greater than even John Woo’s, he is at the helm here and directs with surperb skill there are some superb shots, brilliantly staged and captured action sequences and some of the romantic scenes are outstandingly shot.

The films other strengths were the brilliant score from Patrick O Hearn and the performances of Dacascos and Condra in particular they had a real chemistry on screen and its hardly a surprise that they became Man and Wife after this movie. Overall about the movie i must say that its pure class, it features one of the best Sword fights ever capture on film and a very good cast, the only downer would be that the end action sequence was not long enough and the film at times very nearly bordered on the chessy but this was based on a comic. A word on Mark Dacascos the should be king of action, well he is amazing in this he plays the role with such intensity and despite not having many lines his face brings out a wealth of feelings at times, he is superb and is helped along by the direction of Gans and when it comes to the action Dacascos really shines.

REVIEW: THE FLASH (1990)

CAST

John Wesley Shipp (Dawsons Creek)
Amanda Pays (The Knife)
Alex Desert (Swingers)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Paula Marshall (Veronica Mars)
Michael Nader (All My Children)
Tim Thomerson (Trancers)
Priscilla Pointer (Carrie)
Lycia Naff (Total Recall)
Richard Belzer (Law & Order)
M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Arrow)
Biff Manard (Zone Troopers)
Mike Genovese (Point Break)
Sven-Ole throsen (Mallrats)
Joyce Hyser (This Is Spinal Tap)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander: The Series)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Jonathan Brandis (Seaquest)
Remy Ryan (Robocop 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)
Mark Dacascos (Crying Freeman)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Clifton Collins Jr (Westworld)
Gloria Reuben (Timecop)
Robert Shayne (Adventures of Superman)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Timothy Stack (My Name is Earl)
Yvette Nipar (Robocop: The Series)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop)
Robert O’Reilly (Star Trek: DS9)
Richard Burgi (Firefly)
Michael Champion (Toy Soldiers)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Francois Chau (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
David Cassidy (Instant Karma)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Claire Stansfield (Xena)
 The series is a mash-up of the Barry Allen and Wally West eras of the comics. The show’s producers, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, wisely chose to use the Barry Allen version of the character (played by John Wesley Shipp). This was probably due to the greater story possibilities that Allen’s job as a police forensic scientist could offer. It didn’t matter that Barry had been killed off in the comics five years prior to the show. The character of Dr. Tina McGee (played by the savoury Amanda Pays) comes from the Wally West comics. She is a scientist who helps Barry understand and cope with his new powers of super speed.  The solid performances of the core cast make this show work despite its cartoony conventions. Barry Allen is an easy character to like because we can appreciate and empathize with his underdog-makes-good nature. Barry has always been inferior to his Dad and his overachieving older brother Jay. When he gains his extraordinary powers we can’t help but think that it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.

Also noteworthy is the impish chemistry between Shipp and Pays. Their characters have an intimate, yet platonic relationship that is almost as charming as Pays’ accent. Alex Désert is underused as Barry’s friend and coworker, Julio Mendez. Désert’s easy-going, friendly presence provides a necessary counterpoint to Barry’s no-nonsense ‘get-the-job-done’ attitude. It’s too bad that he didn’t have more to do than set Barry up on blind dates and make wisecracks. The show was produced in the wake of the massive success of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film. The mood and tone of that movie is a huge influence on the first few episodes of The Flash, especially the Pilot episode, “The Origin of a Super Hero.” That episode begins with an establishing shot of Central City that is a blatant copy of the opening scene in Batman where we first see Gotham. We also see the same ‘evil steam’ shooting up from the sewers and citizens scurrying to get indoors, away from all the immoral activity that abounds on the mean streets of Gotham . . .er. . . Central City. Later on, the confrontation between Flash and the bad guy is also an obvious lift from Batman, complete with the “You made me!” line.As the series progresses, it stops trying to ape the manner and feel of Batman and takes on more of a 1940s film-noir motif – only a lot more colourful. The ‘Tim Burton Effect’ still lingers though. One such pastiche, which ironically is not in the Pilot episode, is the use of period props such as 1950s automobiles. Burton can get away with such an aesthetic because his films often take place in an ambiguous timeline where stylistically, anything goes. In The Flash, the out-of-time props are an unnecessary distraction. They’re especially irrelevant during the episode titled “Ghost in the Machine” where The Ghost, a villain from the 1950s, comes out of a deep freeze to again wreak havoc on Central City in 1990. It’s hard to buy into The Ghost’s future shock when people are still wearing trilbies and driving around in Ford Fairlanes.
The show didn’t have great villains but like most genre entertainment, thinking is the real enemy. The Trickster, played by Mark Hamill, is definitely the show’s greatest and most memorable antagonist, even if he is just a check-in-the-box inclusion of a Joker-like homicidal clown. Hamill is great, playing the character as an obsessed, erotomaniacal master-of-disguise while the script, unfortunately, wants him to be a poor man’s Joker. Ironically, he would later go on to recycle his Trickster performance as the voice of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series. Even Captain Cold works reasonably well within the context of the series, reinvented here as an albino mercenary with an ice gun. Actor Michael Champion plays the role relatively straight and plausible, as if shooting people up with frost is an everyday occurrence. He even gets to deliver the line, ‘The Iceman Cometh,’ six years before Arnold Schwarzenegger would as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.

Michael Nader’s stone-faced overacting as outlaw motorcycle gang leader, Nicholas Pike is way too over-the-top to be taken seriously. Casting soap opera or sitcom actors as villains is always a bad idea. The difference between Hamill and Nader’s performances is that Hamill is trying to be humourous, Nader isn’t. David Cassidy and his widow’s peak are unfortunately a non-presence as Mirror Master in “Done with Mirrors.” He comes off as more of a Bizarro-Keith Partridge than a threatening adversary. One of the highlights of the series is “Fast Forward” where Flash is accidentally propelled 10 years into a bleak future where his powers are unstable. He’s got to find a way to get back to his own time and set things right. Every super hero / sci-fi show has to have its ‘evil parallel universe’ or ‘undesirable future’ story and The Flash is no exception. This episode reminds me of the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon where Spidey would be sucked into some twisted alternate dimension that he would have to fight his way out of. The scene where Flash is “falling” into the psychedelic void is a direct homage to that show. It really is an entertaining story if you can plow through the painful first act of Nader’s scenery chewing and hamming it up.One episode that is way more endearing than it probably has any right to be is “Twin Streaks” where an obligatory mad scientist type tries to clone Flash and ends up creating a sort of Bizarro-Flash in a story that vaguely resembles Bride of Frankenstein. The laughs, intentional or not, are effortless. Bizarro-Flash or Pollux as he’s called, wears a blue Flash costume. It would have been a nice wink-nudge to the fans if they had given him a yellow suit as a reference to Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash. Zoom was mentioned in another episode, after all. One of the show’s major clunkers is “Be My Baby” where Barry has to care for an infant that was left on his doorstep. It’s nothing but recycled humour from 3 Men and a Baby and countless sitcoms. This episode reads like an attempt to inject some feel-good, warm fuzzy moments into the show. I actually felt sorry for the then-unknown Bryan Cranston, who had the thankless job of playing the bad guy on this one. If the show’s producers truly wanted to feature more heartwarming stories they could have done an episode or episodes that focused on the heroic endeavors that Flash has performed for the medical community. There was one story from Mike Baron’s run on the comic where Wally West was charged with transporting a human heart across the US to a transplant patient. Story lines such as these could have been an untapped goldmine of drama and suspense as long as they didn’t get too sappy with it. It also would have been a welcome break from the hit-or-miss villain of the week.

Shirley Walker’s score music is tailor made to suit the flavour of each individual episode. “Beat the Clock”, a story about a jazz musician falsely accused of killing his wife, appropriately has a lonely sounding Chicago jazz score while “Watching the Detectives” features music that evokes old private-eye films of the 1940s to compliment that episode’s subject matter. The Flash’s opening theme song is composed by Danny Elfman and sounds like a recycled version of his Batman theme. The Flash is a keen show that had the potential to be much greater than it was. Its adherence to the original source material and the earnest portrayal of the characters by the core cast give the series its irresistible allure. This is essential viewing for comic book and sci-fi fans and it definitely deserves a spot on your DVD shelf.