REVIEW: ADVENTURELAND

 

CAST

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman V Superman)
Kristen Stewart (Twilight)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Kristen Wiig (Zoolander 2)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Martin Starr (Knocked Up)
Wendie Malick (American Housewife)
Margarita Levieva (Spread)

 

It would have been easy to typecast Greg Mottola post-Superbad as a director of teen sex comedies, and based on the trailers, you’d be forgiven to jumping to that conclusion regarding his new film, Adventureland. Sure, the kids are in their early 20s this time around, but even in the first twenty minutes or so, Adventureland looks like Michael Cera’s Superbad character has just grown up a little, graduated with a bachelor’s degree, but still hasn’t managed to go all the way with a girl. And it’s not like it would have been a bad thing had that been the case, because I love Superbad, but the surprise of Adventureland is how much more adventure it has in mind.
Adventureland is actually a semi-autobiographical film, written by Mottola about his own gig at a rundown amusement park in the summer of 1987. The director’s stand-in, what could have been the Michael Cera role, is taken over by Jesse Eisenberg from The Squid and the Whale–and right there, the Superbad comparisons dissolve. James is not Evan four years later, he’s an older Walt Berkman exiled to the suburbs. It’s like Noah Baumbach lost his summer internship and has to crash on Judd Apatow’s couch to get back on track.James is all set to spend his post-undergrad/pre-graduate student summer lollygagging around Europe when the effects of Reaganomics hit too close to home. His father (an appropriately shattered Jack Gilpin) has been demoted and now James is going to have to figure out how to pay to live in New York and attend Columbia on his own. Having had no prior job experience and carrying a B.A. in comparative literature, the wannabe journalist ends up stuck working the scam games at the local amusement park, Adventureland. There, the sheltered boy meets the legion of disaffected like himself who also have nowhere else to go. Sure, amongst their ranks are the perpetual losers, like James’ childhood nemesis Frigo (Matt Bush), but there is also Joel (Martin Starr), the pipe-smoking Russian-lit enthusiast, and the intense, rebellious Emily (Kristen Stewart). A cut above in rank is the too-cool rockstar, Connell (Ryan Reynolds), biding his time as Adventureland’s maintenance man until he can move his musical career to Los Angeles. And, of course, there are the bosses, the slightly creepy and oddly square Bobby and Paulette (two of SNL’s best cast members, Bill Hader and the adorable Kristen Wiig). They aren’t really parental figures, more like that tragically uncool aunt and uncle who always want to be involved in your business.It is among these people that James will get his first taste of the real world. A devotee of Dickens’ travelogues because the writer visited prisons and insane asylums, the pretentious college boy is going to realize that life is one big prison and insane asylum itself–but only if you let it be. A romance with Emily has unforeseen complications, since Connell is cheating on his wife with the youngster, but so too does James find distraction in the theme park’s resident hottie, Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva). The summer world of Adventureland is like one giant pause, a period of figuring things out, of realizing that most parents don’t have a clue (actually, James’ college pal tells him that in the second scene) and it’s not because they are parents, but because no one has a clue. Least of all James.  MV5BMjIxNTE3OTQzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTU3MjU0Mg@@._V1_Most filmmakers tend to treat the 1980s as an alien world built out of kitsch and spandex, but Greg Mottola thankfully keeps that almost entirely at bay. Maybe it speaks to the reality of what he really went through, maybe it’s a reluctance to fall back on faux nostalgia, but outside of a running gag about Falco and one appearance by Ronald Reagan on a television set, there aren’t a lot of signals that this is even a period piece. Loser twentysomethings, just like loser teens, are timeless. Honestly, I was in high school in 1987, and I used to hang out with a lot of these kids.
What adds a whole new twist to Adventureland is that the smarty-pants stuff is put right up against more lowbrow funny business so they can duke it out like some kind of West Side Story for comedy styles. So, a Brian Eno reference is immediately followed by a guy peeing on a window. Vomit, nut punches, and disco dancing can actually be complementary to ivy league wordplay and nebbishy navel gazing. Hell, there is even room for a Foreigner cover band! It’s a fabulous balance–chuckle at the dry humor of Jesse Eisenberg saying things no one else understands, guffaw at Bill Hader losing his temper and going ballistic. Adventureland may not be the gutbuster some of other films were, it’s got way more of the human element. That’s because growing up and growing in love is the greatest adventure of all.

REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 8

Starring

Peter Dinklage (Avengers: Endgame)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (A Thousand Times Good Night)
Lena Headey (Terminator: TSCC)
Emilia Clarke (Last Christmas)
Kit Harington (The Eternals)
Sophie Turner (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Maisie Williams (New Mutants)
Liam Cunningham (Harry Brown)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Fast & Furious 7)
Alfie Allen (John Wick)
John Bradley (Anna Karenina)
Isaac Hempstead Wright (The Awakening)
Gwendoline Christie (Welcome To Marwen)
Conleth Hill (Serena)
Rory McCann (Jumanji: The Next Level)
Jerome Flynn (John Wick: Chapter 3)
Kristofer Hivju (The Witcher)
Joe Dempsie (Monsters: Dark Continent)
Jacob Anderson (Chatroom)
Iain Glen (Titans)
Hannah Murray (Dark Shadows)
Carice van Houten (Black Death)

Kit Harington and Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones (2011)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Richard Dormer (The Mighty Clet)
Ben Crompton (Blood)
Daniel Portman (Robert The Bruce)
Rupert Vansittart (Outlander)
Bella Ramsey (The Worst Witch)
Megan Parkinson (Ackley Bridge)
Richard Rycroft (The Turn)
Pilou Asbæk (Lucy)
Anton Lesser (Wolf Hall)
Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (Kickboxer: Retaliation)
Gemma Whelan (Emma)
Marc Rissmann (Overlord)
Tobias Menzies (The Crown)
Lino Facioli (Get Him To The Greek)
Josephine Gillan (Amy and Sophia)
Staz Nair (Supergirl)
Rob McElhenney (Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Far from Home)

Lena Headey in Game of Thrones (2011)Well, that’s it. Game of Thrones is over after eight years, and I don’t blame you if Game of Thrones season 8 leaves a slightly bad taste in your mouth. While it has its good moments, most of this season is simply too rushed, with characters taking minutes to make decisions that in previous seasons would have taken days. I would hope this goes without saying, but if you haven’t seen the final episode yet you should stop reading right now, as there are about to be some serious spoilers for the entirety of Game of Thrones season 8.Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011)It starts out promising in the first episode, Winterfell, which shows our cast of characters responding to Daenerys coming North and the oncoming preparations for the Battle of Winterfell. We get some much-needed downtime to let the characters actually talk and react to revelations that came at the tail end of season 7, and this is where Game of Thrones shines: when people have the chance to play the politics game, charming and planning their next move from behind the scenes. Yet while we get plenty of that in the first episode and episode 2 (The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms), the rest of season 8 is a spectacle, for better and for worse.Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Liam Cunningham, Peter Dinklage, Kristofer Hivju, Gwendoline Christie, and Daniel Portman in Game of Thrones (2011)While two episodes dedicated to game-changing battles would have felt like the payoff after several episodes of planning in earlier seasons, this finale makes the mistake of sacrificing build-up in favour of pure shock factor. To be fair, with only six episodes there wasn’t really any other way it could be done, but nonetheless Game of Thrones simply deserves better. Watching the battles in Winterfell and King’s Landing play out doesn’t feel like the satisfying pay-off it needed to be after all the key players had carefully moved their pawns into place over weeks of plotting, so it lacked the emotional weight that came with the Battle of the Bastards or the duel between Oberyn Martell and The Mountain.Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Liam Cunningham, Peter Dinklage, Kristofer Hivju, Gwendoline Christie, and Daniel Portman in Game of Thrones (2011)Having said that, the best episode of the series is clearly The Long Night, where the Night King finally arrives for a showdown eight years in the making. Although we don’t get any insight into what those swirly symbols he kept leaving mean, or hear from his own lips why he wants to destroy Westeros, the battle does an almighty great job of showing that all our fears about him are well-founded. Each character grows in that fight: Sandor reaffirms his fear of fire, reminding us that he’s not healed from being abused by The Mountain as a child, Arya realises her destiny, Melisandre fulfills her purpose, and despite all their tactical maneuvering, Sansa and Tyrion realise that they can’t control everything. It should have been the punctuation note on a handful of episodes of build up yet, even still, The Long Night does the forces of the Night King justice… even if they can’t protect him from Arya’s stabby blade.Peter Dinklage and Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones (2011)Daenerys’ descent into madness makes sense in hindsight, but – and yes, I’ve already mentioned this – dedicating a little bit more time to her unravelling sanity, especially after Rhaegal and Missandei’s death, would have allowed her massacre at King’s Landing to make more sense. Morality aside, she literally said that she’d take what was hers with fire and blood, so there has been quite a bit of foreshadowing when it comes to her rampage with Drogon. But, as with the whole of season 8, it’s not enough. There’s few things as satisfying as realising that the answer was right in front of your eyes all along, like Olenna using Sansa’s necklance to murder Joffrey or Littlefinger being the one behind Ned’s arrest, and I can’t help but feel a little cheated that Daenery’s madness doesn’t get the same treatment.Game of Thrones (2011)Emilia Clarke’s portrayal of the Mad Queen is exceptional from start to finish though, whether it’s her subtle expressive cues reflecting Dany’s transition from shock, to grief, to fury at Missandei’s death, or her rage-fuelled topple into insanity triggered by the sound of the bells at Kings Landing. Seriously, someone give that woman an Emmy already.Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones (2011)More delicious moments like that are held back from us in season 8 though, and the fact that we aren’t given much time to reflect on Dany’s madness means that her eventual death felt unearned, in a morbid sort of way. When she speaks with Jon in the finale, we see a brief glimpse of how she views the innocents she killed as evidence of her weakness, (paradoxically) thinking that Cersei was using them as bargaining chips. In Daenerys’ mind, killing them makes her strong. She’s more like Cersei than any of us thought, yet not being able to see her reign – or at least deal with the displaced inhabitants of Kings Landing – feels like a mistake.Lena Headey in Game of Thrones (2011)The Game of Thrones ending did as much as it could to tie up one of the biggest pop culture phenomena of the 21st century, but with so little time to do so, it was always going to feel slightly… meh. Almost all the decisions make sense (Bran being king could have done with a bit more explaining, especially considering Sansa’s suitability to rule) and having some characters come full circle feels right, but it did come across as rushed. And a little too happy, to be perfectly honest.Game of Thrones (2011)Game of Thrones has made us come to expect that bittersweet tinge left in our mouths at the end of each season, giving us endings that feel fair yet hard to stomach, so it’s a surprise that so many characters survive with a smile on their face. In the end, we all expected more from Game of Thrones. Season 8 doesn’t feel like it was earned, with too little time dedicated to growing characters paired with a greater emphasis on rushing to major plot points, rather than proving to those of us watching how inevitable they were. Oh well. At least Ghost got petted in the end.

 

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

Starring

Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z)
Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes on A Plane)
Zendaya (Dune)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Jon Favreau (Chef)
J. B. Smoove (Top Five)
Jacob Batalon (Let It Snow)
Martin Starr (Adventureland)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko)
Tony Revolori (The 5th Wave)
Angourie Rice (THe Nice Guys)
Peter Billingsley (Iron Man)
J.K Simmons (Whiplash)
Ben Mendelsohn (Ready Player One)
Sharon Blynn (Captain Marvel)

Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)In Ixtenco, Mexico, Nick Fury and Maria Hill investigate an unnatural storm and encounter the Earth Elemental. Quentin Beck, a super-powered individual, arrives to fight the creature. A week later, in New York City, the Midtown School of Science and Technology completes its academic year which was restarted to accommodate the students who disappeared during the five-year period known as “the Blip”. They had reappeared eight months earlier thanks to the actions of the Avengers. The school organizes a two-week summer field trip to Europe, where Peter Parker—still mourning the death of his mentor and father figure Tony Stark[N 1]—plans to confess his growing feelings for classmate MJ. Happy Hogan informs Parker that Fury intends to contact him, but Parker ignores the call.Parker and his classmates travel to Venice, Italy, where the Water Elemental attacks. Parker helps protect his classmates while Beck arrives and destroys the creature. Fury meets with Parker and gives him Stark’s glasses, which were meant for his successor. The glasses are equipped with the artificial intelligence E.D.I.T.H., which has access to Stark Industries’ databases and commands a large orbital weapons supply. Beck claims to hail from an alternate reality within the Multiverse, where the Elementals killed his family. He now predicts that the Fire Elemental will appear in Prague. Parker declines Fury’s invitation to join Beck’s fight against the Elementals and returns to his class trip.Zendaya and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)Fury secretly changes the school trip’s itinerary so Parker will be directed to Prague, and there Parker is forced to help fight the Fire Elemental to again protect his friends. Beck is able to destroy the Fire Elemental with Parker’s help. Fury and Hill invite Parker and Beck to Berlin to discuss the formation of a new superhero team, but Parker decides that Beck should go alone and bequeaths him the E.D.I.T.H. glasses. In actuality, Beck is secretly a former holographic-illusions specialist at Stark Industries who was fired for his unstable nature. He now leads a team of disgruntled ex-Stark employees, using advanced projector drones to simulate the Elemental attacks and masquerade as a hero; their plan was to gain access to E.D.I.T.H. so they could use the orbital weapons system’s drones to increase the scale of their illusions.Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)MJ deduces Parker is Spider-Man. They discover that a piece of debris she retrieved during the carnival battle is a projector that presents a simulation of the Air Elemental, leading the two to realize Beck is a fraud. Parker travels to Berlin to meet with Fury, but is actually in one of Beck’s illusions and accidentally reveals that some of his friends know about Beck’s plan. Distracted by the illusion, Parker is hit by a train and carried away to the Netherlands. From there Parker contacts Hogan, who flies them to London where his classmates are now on their way home. In London, Beck uses E.D.I.T.H. to orchestrate his biggest illusion yet, a fusion of all four Elementals, as a cover to kill Parker’s friends. Parker is able to disrupt the illusion, so Beck fully reveals the drones to attack him. Parker defeats Beck, regaining control of E.D.I.T.H. to call off the drone attacks. Beck dies from wounds sustained from misfired drone gunshots. An assistant of Beck’s escapes with data from the drones. After returning to New York City, Parker begins a relationship with MJ.Zendaya and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)In a mid-credits scene, J. Jonah Jameson of TheDailyBugle.net broadcasts doctored footage of the London incident in which Beck frames Spider-Man for the drone attack and his death, before exposing Spider-Man’s secret identity to the world. In a post-credits scene, Fury and Hill are revealed to be the Skrulls Talos and Soren in disguise, under orders from the real Fury who is seen commanding a Skrull spaceship.Jake Gyllenhaal, Numan Acar, and Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)Tom Holland was born to play Spidey, hes a great Peter Parker. This movie along with effects was fantastic definetly one of the best Marvel movies.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

CAST

Tom Holland  (How I Live Now)
Michael Keaton (Batman)
Jon Favreau (Swingers)
Zendaya (The greatest Snowman)
Donald Glover (The Martian)
Tyne Daly (Mothers and Sons)
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)
Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Shallow Hal)
Bokeem Woodbine (Riddick)
Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus)
Kerry Condon (Better Call Saul)
Chris Evans (Captain Ameirca: The First Avenger)
Jacob Batalon (Every Day)
Michael Chernus (The Bourne Legacy)
Laura Harrier (The Last Five years)
Tony Revolori (The Perfect Game)
Garcelle Beauvais (White House Down)
Jennifer Connelly (Inkheart)
Hemky Madera (The Lost City)
Michael Mando (Orphan Black)
Kenenth Choi (The Last Man on Earth)
Hannibal Buress (Baywatch)
Martin Starr (Adventureland)
Stan Lee (The Avengers)

Following the Battle of New York, Adrian Toomes and his salvage company are contracted to clean up the city, but their operation is taken over by the Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.), a partnership between Tony Stark and the U.S. government. Enraged at being driven out of business, Toomes persuades his employees to keep the Chitauri technology they have already scavenged and use it to create and sell advanced weapons. Eight years later, Peter Parker is drafted into the Avengers by Stark to help with an internal dispute, but resumes his studies at the Midtown School of Science and Technology when Stark tells him he is not yet ready to become a full Avenger.Parker quits his school’s academic decathlon team to spend more time focusing on his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man. One night, after preventing criminals from robbing an ATM with their advanced weapons from Toomes, Parker returns to his Queens apartment where his best friend Ned discovers his secret identity. On another night, Parker comes across Toomes’ associates Jackson Brice / Shocker and Herman Schultz selling weapons to local criminal Aaron Davis. Parker nearly drowns intervening, and is rescued by Stark, who is monitoring the Spider-Man suit he gave Parker and warns him against involvement with the dangerous criminals. Toomes accidentally kills Brice with one of their weapons, and Schultz becomes the new Shocker.Parker and Ned study a weapon left behind by Brice, removing its power core. When a tracking device on Schultz leads to Maryland, Parker rejoins the decathlon team and accompanies them to Washington, D.C. for their national tournament. Ned and Parker disable the tracker Stark implanted in the Spider-Man suit, and unlock its advanced features. Parker tries to stop Toomes from stealing weapons from a D.O.D.C. truck, but is overpowered and trapped inside the truck, causing him to miss the decathlon tournament. When he discovers that the power core is an unstable Chitauri grenade, Parker races to the Washington Monument where the core explodes and traps Ned and their friends in an elevator. Evading local authorities, Parker saves his friends, including his fellow classmate and crush Liz. Returning to New York City, Parker persuades Davis to reveal Toomes’ whereabouts. Aboard the Staten Island Ferry, Parker captures Toomes’ new buyer Mac Gargan, but Toomes escapes and a malfunctioning weapon tears the ferry in half. Stark helps Parker save the passengers before admonishing him for his recklessness and taking away his suit.Parker returns to his high school life, and eventually asks Liz to go to the homecoming dance with him. On the night of the dance, Parker learns that Liz is Toomes’ daughter. Deducing Parker’s secret identity, Toomes threatens retaliation if he interferes with his plans. During the dance, Parker realizes Toomes is planning to hijack a D.O.D.C. plane transporting weapons from Avengers Tower to the team’s new headquarters. He dons his old homemade Spider-Man suit and races to Toomes’ lair. He is first ambushed by Schultz, but defeats him with the help of Ned. At the lair, Toomes destroys the building’s support beams and leaves Parker to die. Parker escapes the rubble and intercepts the plane, steering it to crash on the beach near Coney Island. He and Toomes engage in an open confrontation that ends with Parker saving Toomes’ life from his own unstable equipment, and leaving him for the police along with the plane’s cargo. After her father’s arrest, Liz moves away, and Parker declines an invitation from Stark to join the Avengers full time. Stark returns Parker’s suit, which he puts on at his apartment just as his Aunt May walks in. In a mid-credits scene, an incarcerated Gargan approaches Toomes in prison. Gargan has heard that Toomes knows Spider-Man’s real identity, but Toomes denies this.Spider-Man is literally the most loved Marvel hero of all time! At last, this reboot perfectly captured the balance between Peter Parker and Spider-Man in the comics! Peter’s awkward nature in high school and his attempts at being a cool superhero are both relatable and funny. Tom Holland played a good Peter Parker with the nerdy, awkward way and he manifested one of Spider-Man’s significant traits: his sense of humor. The movie is full of Easter eggs and references to the comics, the previous Spidey movies, and the MCU as a whole. Not only does this movie look really good, but the villain (Vulture) looks menacing as a great villain should

 

 

 

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008)

 

CAST

Edward Norton (The Bourne Legacy)
Liv Tyler (Super)
Tim Roth (Lie To Me)
William Hurt (A History of Violence)
Tim Blake Nelson (Fantastic Four)
Ty Burrell (Muppets Most wanted)
Peter Mesnah (Spartacus)
Lou Ferrigno (The Scorpion King 4)
Paul Soles (Spider-Man 60s)
Martin Starr (Superbad)
Genelle Williams (Bitten)
Robet Downey Jr. (Iron Man)
Greg Bryk (Saw V)
Chris Owens (Red)
Arnold Pinnock (Cypher)
Wayne Robson (Wrong Turn)
Michael Kenneth Williams (12 Years A Slave)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

MV5BMTQ2ODc0MjI2Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODg3NTAyNw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,748_AL_Hiding out peacefully in South America to keep his Gamma-induced mutation in control, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is looking for help to cure his affliction, trying to keep himself out of the hands of General Ross (William Hurt), who wants what’s inside Banner to create an army of super-soldiers. Heading back to America, Banner makes contact with longtime love Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), who urgently wants to help the ailing man cure himself. Hot on their tail is Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), a brutal, unforgiving soldier who encourages the General to experiment further with Gamma poisoning by injecting him with a dose.MV5BMjE5MTM2MDY4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTg3NTAyNw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,737_AL_Director Louis Leterrier indulges his extreme visual instincts to fashion a peppier “Hulk” for the crowds who felt alienated by Lee’s experimentation. The quest is noble and “Incredible” is stuffed with enough limb-cracking attitude to give the faithful exactly what they want from a Hulk movie.Leterrier is in a hurry to get from one action sequence to the next, and while it’s all comfortably numbing, there’s not much characterization to get excited about here. “Incredible” comes across more as a wonderful video game than a meaningful exploration of the isolated soul. Although It’s a spirited ride boosted by some nice performances, strong romantic chemistry between Norton and Tyler, and several swell tributes paid to the “Hulk” television series of the 1970s. When Hulk lets loose, there’s a horde of building-leveling mayhem to enjoy, and Leterrier is the right man for the job, infusing new momentum to the character and taking his trail of destruction to pleasing extremes.

REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 1

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, Joe Nieves, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
David Henrie (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Marshall Manesh (Will & Grace)
Joe Nieves (Stuck In The Middle)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Anne Dudek (Mad Men)
Charlene Amoia (American Pie: Reunion)
Jayma Mays (Heroes)
Camryn Manheim (Scary Movie 3)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Bill Fagerbakke (Spongebob Squarepants)
Suzie Plakson (Disclosure)
Danica McKellar (Young Justice)
Kathleen Rose Perkins (Gone Girl)
J.P. Manoux (Euro Trip)
Ashley Williams (A Most Violent Year)
Virginia Williams (Fuller House)
Kelly Stables (Two and a Half Men)
Bryan Callen (The Hangover)
Taran Killam (12 Years a Slave)
Diane Salinger (Batman Returns)
Alexis Denisof (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Erinn Bartlett (Shallow Hal)
David Burtka (Neil’s Puppet Dreams)
Eric Allan Kramer (Mike & Molly)
America Olivo (Bitch Slap)
Nate Torrence (Get Smart)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)

 

Premiering in Sept. 2005, created by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and billed as “a love story in reverse,” How I Met Your Mother turns the “Friends” formula on its head by having one of its main characters, Ted Mosby (voiced by Bob Saget), some 30 years after the modern day events of the show, relaying the twists and turns of said events to his two, often disinterested children (David Henrie and Lyndsy Fonseca).It’s a nifty approach to what would otherwise be well-worn material, although the chemistry of the ensemble cast goes a long way towards smoothing over any feelings of seen-it-before-ness. Joining the modern day Ted Mosby (winningly portrayed by Josh Radnor) are his quartet of New York City-dwelling companions: the goofy couple Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), former flame Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and the scene-stealing maniac Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris).

Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)How I Met Your Mother wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining as it is without its cast — it’s unquestionably the show’s biggest strength, although some interesting creative choices by Bays and Thomas run a close second; the pilot episode ends with a mildly shocking twist: The woman that Ted has been avidly pursuing for the past 22 minutes is not, in fact, the mother of his children. It throws you off-balance and guarantees that you’ll tune in for ensuing episodes to see exactly how Ted ends up telling stories to two youngsters 30 years hence. It’s a pretty nifty narrative trick and one which ensured the show had longevity

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS (MOVIE)

CAST

Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Francis Capra (heroes)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Chris Lowell (Enlisted)
Tina Mojorino (Santa Fe)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)
Gaby Hoffmann (Wild)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Amanda Noret (City Guys)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Duane Daniels (Murder on Vine)
Lisa Thornhill (Rush Hour 3)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens)
Justin Long (Mom)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eddie Jemison (IZombie)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)

Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)The world of cult TV is a peculiar one. Television shows are canceled all the time, but through the world of DVDs, Netflix, and Amazon, shows pulled from network schedules before their time now have the opportunity to grow a loyal, faithful audience long after the grass has grown over their graves.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2014)Those fans often wonder if they’ll ever see their favorite characters again, and every once in awhile that wish comes true. Seven years after it was canceled, Veronica Mars, which became a cult phenomenon since it premiered its last new episode on The CW in 2007, returned for one more mystery, this time on the big screen. As any true fan can tell you, Veronica Mars was a witty, one-of-a-kind teen noir series that tackled everything from rape and murder to class warfare.A social outcast after her sheriff father (Enrico Colantoni) wrongfully accused a very rich, very powerful man of murdering his daughter (who was Veronica’s best friend and the sister of Veronica’s boyfriend), Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) was largely on her own in a town full of obnoxious and privileged children of movie stars and CEOs. But the Southern California town of Neptune was divided along class lines. Veronica didn’t fit in with the popular kids, known as the 09-ers, after her father’s wrongful accusation, but she didn’t fit in with the working class either on account of her former association to those same 09-ers. She became a fierce, independent teen whose weapon of choice against her enemies was her mind, her wit, and the occasional stun-gunning. Each episode of the series tackled a new mystery for Veronica to solve, while an overarching larger mystery unfolded over the course of the entire season. It’s not every day a series like Veronica Mars shows up on TV, and so it makes perfect sense that Veronica Mars in its film incarnation be as unique as the series from which it was born.veronicamarsFunded by fans via a Kickstarter that broke several records and reached its goal of $2 million in less than 12 hours, the Veronica Mars film was a labor of love for all parties involved. The movie, which looked great despite not having had the funds it would have had if it had been completely backed by the studio, felt like an extended episode of the TV series. Some people might look at that and see a failure, but to any Veronica Mars fan, that’s the highest form of praise. Instead of an ending, the movie felt like a brand-new chapter recently discovered at the end of a favorite book.Series creator Rob Thomas has always been cognizant of the fact that the film would not exist if it weren’t for the fans, and has said on more than one occasion that it was imperative that they make a film that would do right by the fans who donated their hard-earned cash to bring this beautiful work to life. And that’s what he did. He created a film that he knew the fans would love. And he should know, because he’s probably the series’ biggest fan outside of Kristen Bell herself. Without Thomas and Bell keeping alive their dream of one day shooting a film, fans might have given up hope of ever returning to the seedy seaside town of Neptune, California.Kristen Bell and Ryan Hansen in Veronica Mars (2014)By the time Veronica traded in her pin-straight hair and fancy New York lawyer duds for the jeans, jacket, and beach waves uniform she wore for three seasons, it was clear Veronica was never going to go back to the seemingly perfect life she had in New York with Piz (Chris Lowell). It doesn’t matter if everyone knew going in that she’d end up choosing Neptune over New York and ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Dorhing) over Piz, because it’s exactly what the fans wanted to see. It’s what the fans paid upfront to see. It’s the open-ended ending the fans waited seven years for. In short: The film delivered.rs_560x415-140311131242-1024.Veronica-Mars-Kristen-Bell.ms.031114_copyThe movie, which followed the first case Veronica had worked since she transferred to Stanford after one year at Hearst College, and which happened to coincide with her 10 year high school reunion, felt exactly like that: A reunion. Because Thomas wanted to please the fans, the movie attempted to bring back as many original cast members from the series as possible, from the still-bitchy Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret), to the dirty and shameless Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino), who might actually be living in a van now, to the effortlessly charming Deputy-now-detective Leo (Max Greenfield). The movie was a parade of familiar faces, but to fans of the series, it felt a bit like home. Each time a character appeared on screen, it was a wink and a nod to fans.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)It makes sense that the person to pull Veronica back to Neptune and the private eye world was Logan. He’d been part of the reason she’d left town and their self-proclaimed epic love story was left unfinished. If I take issue with anything in the film, however, it would be the way in which it portrayed her relationship with both Logan and the job of being a private investigator as a drug. Over the course of the series, it was clear her relationship with Logan was toxic, but Logan has grown up and matured considerably in the nine years since we last saw him. Yes, he was quick to resort to violence when Veronica’s sex tape played at the reunion, but that doesn’t change the fact that Logan has come very far since his self-destructive days. He joined the navy and became a pilot. He became a stabilizing force for his girlfriend, Carrie Bishop, whose murder was the central mystery of the movie.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)Keith’s vocal opposition to Veronica leaving New York and the opportunities there felt real and were grounded in reality. He’s a father who only wants the best for his daughter. But it was never going to happen. The mystery of who killed Carrie Bishop wasn’t the most exciting or intricate case Veronica has ever tackled, but once again, the movie had to find a way to work in a case that would draw Veronica back to Neptune, as well as find a way to work in the cameos fans desperately wanted to see in a short, finite amount of time. Revealing Martin Starr’s new character Stu “Cobb” Cobbler to be Carrie’s murderer made sense, because having it be someone fans knew and loved would have been crushing to the audience. The fact that Dick really never knew the truth about what happened to Susan Knight on that boat was in line with the Dick that fans have come to love or come to love to hate. In short, everything that happened in the film felt just right.Success in this industry will always be measured by how much money a film makes, and there is a special dollar amount the movie must bring in to warrant a sequel, but to fans of the series, none of that really matters. It was never about the money, it was about seeing Veronica, Logan, Keith, Wallace, Mac, Dick, Weevil, and Piz again. Veronica Mars’ success will never be measured in dollar signs, but in whether or not the film made fans happy, and to that end it definitely succeeded.