REVIEW: KINGSGLAIVE: FINAL FANTASY XV

Starring

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Sean Bean (The Martian)
Adrian Bouchet (The Last Kingdom)
Trevor Devall (Avengers Assemble)
Wendee Lee (Masked Rider)
Tony Oliver (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Lex Lang (Spider-Man: Into TYhe Spider-Verse)
Michael McConnohie (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Kirk Thornton (Ninja Scroll)
Masi Oka (Heroes)
Adam Croasdell (Reign)
Gil Darnell (Bones)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016)During a visit to Tenebrae, Regis and Noctis—who is recuperating from a near-death experience—are targeted for assassination by Niflheim. Tenebrae is subsequently attacked, and in the invasion Queen Sylva is killed by Niflheim’s General Glauca. Regis attempts to flee with Lunafreya, but she decides to stay with her brother Ravus; both become subjects under Niflheim’s rule.Lena Headey in Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016)Twelve years later, the Kingsglaive fight to protect Lucis’s borders from attacks by Niflheim’s Magitek army and Daemons, unnatural monsters tamed for military use. During one such operation, Nyx Ulric defies his orders to withdraw to rescue his friend Libertus from a Daemon. Regis, whose magic powers the Wall and is growing weaker due to advancing age, accepts Imperial Chancellor Ardyn Izunia’s offer of peace. This causes dissension among the Kingsglaive, who feel Regis is abandoning their families. Two days before the treaty is to be signed, Kingsglaive member Crowe is sent on a mission to escort Lunafreya to Altissia to meet Noctis, but is killed en route. Her death causes Libertus to leave the Kingsglaive and join a group of Lucian rebels. At a party dedicated to the signing of the treaty, attended by both Regis and Niflheim’s emperor Iedolas Aldercapt, Lunafreya meets with Nyx before being secretly abducted by Glauca. Nyx discovers this and finds that Niflheim has stationed their army outside Insomnia.Aaron Paul in Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016)Regis agrees to deploy the Kingsglaive, although their commander Drautos has disappeared. While Nyx succeeds in rescuing Lunafreya, many of the Kingsglaive turn on him; Nyx, Lunafreya and rebel leader Luche Lazarus escape as the ship disintegrates. At the treaty-signing ceremony, the Niflheim delegation springs a surprise attack and kills the ruling council, while their army enters by destroying the Wall with help from the rebels, who are subsequently massacred. Lunafreya and Nyx reach the Citadel just as Regis is battling Glauca. During the fight, Glauca cuts the Ring of the Lucii from Regis’s hand. Ravus attempts to put on the Ring and claim its power, but it rejects him and destroys his arm before he can remove it. Nyx, Lunafreya and Regis retrieve the Ring and flee with Glauca in pursuit. Regis forces the two to go on without him, dying in his ensuing battle with Glauca. Aldercapt and Ardyn—having successfully stolen the Crystal—leave Insomnia to be destroyed by Niflheim’s Daemons.Aaron Paul in Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016)Summoned to the city plaza by a call from Drautos, Nyx and Lunafreya are cornered by Luche, who reveals himself to be Crowe’s killer. Luche almost kills Nyx before being tricked by Lunafreya into putting on the Ring, resulting in his death. Drautos then appears, but is attacked by Libertus, who reveals that Drautos is in fact Glauca. Just as Glauca is about to kill them, Nyx puts on the Ring. He is confronted by the spirits of the past kings of Lucis; initially rejected due to being not of their bloodline, his resolve and the threat to the Crystal persuade them to allow his use of their power at the cost of his life. After fending off Glauca, Nyx returns the Ring to Lunafreya before entrusting her to Libertus, telling them to flee. With the Ring’s borrowed power he engages Glauca in a titanic battle throughout Insomnia, animating the city’s statues of past rulers, known as the “Old Wall,” to combat Niflheim’s Daemons. Their fight ends as dawn approaches, with Nyx mortally wounding Glauca; Nyx dies shortly after as payment for using the Ring’s power, wishing for Noctis to rule well in the future. In the aftermath, Libertus escorts Lunafreya out of the city, but she tells him to stay behind. Lunafreya then leaves with the Ring to find Noctis. In a post-credits scene, Noctis and his companions are en route to Altissia when their car breaks down, leading into the opening scenes of Final Fantasy XV.Kingsglaive:Final Fantasy XV Adrian Bouchet as Capt' DrautosCharacters are relatively well done, especially the ones with famous names. Usually the dubbing in English for such production looks jarring, but here Lena Headley’s or Aaron Paul’s voice is implemented properly. The lip sync is fine and there’s a boon on having fantasy oriented voice for the cast. A minor flaw would be the dialogues or sound effect don’t convey the sense of urgency at times, but it’s mostly understandable. The visual ramps up as the battles progress. These are very hectic occurrences, the fast cut can leave audience wandering on what transpires on the screen since there are many effects and motions cramped into brief composition of scenes. However, when it retains the focus or follows the action, it is arguably one of the most eye-popping spectacles from animated movie. The sheer graphical prowess produces an entirely captivating world, even though it stumbles on overly complex narrative or overly fast editing.

REVIEW: HEROES REBORN

CAST
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Zachary Levi (Thor: The Dark World)
Robbie Kay (In Bruges)
Danika Yarosh (Shameless USA)
Kiki Sukezane (Death Yankees 2)
Ryan Guzman (Pretty Little Liars)
Rya Kihlstedt (Deep Impact)
Gatlin Green (Criminal Minds)
Henry Zebrowski (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Judith Shekoni (Garfield 2)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Toru Uchikado (Underdogs: Rising)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Krista Bridges (Narc)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity)
Jake Manley (The Order)
Carlos Lacamara (The Mexican)
Francesca Eastwood (Outlaws and Angels)
Hiro Kanagawa (Caprica)
Eve Harlow (Jennifer’s Body)
Clé Bennett (The Tick)
Nazneen Contractor (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Dylan Bruce (Orphan Black)
Tammy Isbell (Bitten)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Michael Therriault (Reign)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ari Cohen (Smallville)
Lucius Hoyos (What If)
Sara Mitich (The Expanse)
Rachael Ancheril (Star Trek: Discovery)

A year ago, a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, left the city decimated. Blamed for the tragic event, those with extraordinary abilities are in hiding or on the run from those with nefarious motives.

Tim Kring pulled off a minor miracle, reviving the Heroes franchise after it sank so far during its first four seasons. In those seasons, there were elements of each that I really liked, but the overall story quality seemed to become more disconnected and surreal. Heroes truly has been reborn.

Kring and the Heroes crew have revived a universe of mystery and wonder. These people–these “evos”–do things that no human body could physically do, like the miracles of old. It gives us hope. They call them “evolved ones” or “evos,” but there is something wonderfully spiritual about this. We have new characters, new abilities, new mysteries and new challenges. I call it a “minor miracle,” because the hot potential Kring originally created, was always there, heavily squandered in seasons 3 and 4. Here, I like what they’ve done. I’m enjoying these new friends and enemies. I especially like how they portray the enemy as unknowingly selfish and arrogant, but who also accuse others of being selfish for wanting to save their own lives. There is so much of that going on in the American government these days, as it did in Nazi Germany nearly a century ago. The parallels are chilling. Yet, the promise of the heroes is gratifying.

The fact that Earth’s magnetic field goes to zero and leaves the planet vulnerable to a violent, civilization-ending solar storm, is a wonderfully solid scenario — far better than the “2012” film’s neutrino absorption nonsense. It reminds me of the wonderfully upside-down deliciousness perpetrated by the UN, NASA, governments and the Corporate mainstream media — turning science into a popularity circus (“consensus”) and stifling debate with cute catch phrases like “settled science” and “deniers,” all the while distracting people from the real horror story that Global Cooling is bad and Global Warming is good. Why? Because we’re in an Ice Age. When the Holocene ends, 7+ Billion people will be in jeopardy, just as they are in this mini-series. Art mimicking reality, despite all the propaganda to keep us from seeing that reality. Nice when entertainment can wake some people up, instead of making them brain dead. The show has some flaws but all in all its a decent mini series with the only problem being the cliffhanger ending knowing that this is just a one off season.

REVIEW: HEROES – SEASON 4

Starring

Hayden Panettiere (Nashville)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Jack Coleman (Spawn)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Adrian Pasdar (Supergirl)
James Kyson Lee (Sleepy Hollow)
Ali Larter (Final Destination)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)

Robert Knepper in Heroes (2006)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Madeline Zima (Crazy Eyes)
Ray Park (G.I. Joe)
Deanne Bray (Universal Signs)
Elisabeth Röhm (Angel)
Ashley Crow (Minority Report)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Lisa Lackey (Planet of The Apes)
Rachel Melvin (Sleepy Hollow)
Saemi Nakamura (The Truman Show)
Zeljko Ivanek (The Event)
Louise Fletcher (Star Trek: DS9)
Rick Worthy (Duplicity)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Tessa Thompson (Westworld)
Christine Adams (BLack Lightning)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Candice Patton (The Flash)
Jayma Mays (Paul Blart: Mall Cop)
Danielle Savre (Boogeyman 2)
Santiago Cabrera (Big Little Lies)
Danica Stewart (Passions)
Andrew Connolly (Patriot Games)
Ravi Kapoor (Bones)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye)
David Anders (Izmbie)
Sasha Pieterse (Pretty Little Liars)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
K Callan (Lois & Clark)

Deanne Bray in Heroes (2006)

The first season of Heroes remains a landmark moment in television. Taking Watchmen’s ‘if superheroes existed’ thesis to its natural conclusion, the show’s realisation of the ultimate nerd fantasy of ordinary people with extraordinary powers and subtle nods to comic book tropes was a revelation, producing one of TV’s all time great villains, the delightfully menacing Sylar. Then it all fell apart.Masi Oka in Heroes (2006)The fun, frenetic pace of the first season was almost completely absent from its follow-up. In a jarring and completely misjudged shift of tone, the show became more about the nefarious dealings of the mysterious ‘Company’ and less about character development and the simple joy of watching a cheerleader mend her own bloody and broken shinbone. (The season also introduced the worst superpower ever: the ability to kill by dilating your pupils.) Admittedly, this was partially as a result of the 07/08 US writers’ strike, but the show never recovered critically, haemorrhaging viewers at an alarming pace. In following this unmitigated disaster, Tim Kring and co attempted to return to the heart of what made the show such a blast in the first place and, a handful of ridiculous plot points aside, they have been reasonably successful. However, viewers had lost faith and THE show was officially axed by NBC.Robert Knepper in Heroes (2006)However, with the fourth and final season going back to basics, as well as injecting some much needed warmth and depth into several previously underdeveloped characters, Heroes definitely went out with a bang. Season four follows the characters attempts to return to normality following the tragic events of Nathan Petrelli’s death at the hands of Sylar. In an attempt to keep his death a secret, psychic ex-cop Matt Parkman enters an unconscious and powerless Sylar’s mind, convincing him he is Nathan. All does not go to plan, however, as Sylar’s subdued consciousness worms its way into Matt’s head, taunting him and attempting to force Parkman to restore his identity by any means necessary.Robert Knepper and Zachary Quinto in Heroes (2006)Hiro Nakamura, previously just a loveable, if highly one-dimensional, comic book nerd, is finally given some depth, after discovering he is terminally ill with a brain tumour. Following a mysterious encounter with shadowy carnival owner Samuel Sullivan (played to creepy perfection by Prison Break’s Robert Knepper), Hiro decides to use his time travelling powers to change tragic or regretful moments in his past, often to destructive effect. The majority of the plot revolves around the arrival of Samuel’s peculiar fair. As self-healing cheerleader-turned-fresher Claire Bennet soon discovers, it is much more than a travelling freak show. The carnival is a tight knit group of ‘heroes’ travelling under the radar. However, as Samuel tries to convince Claire to join his family, things may not be as they appear.Hayden Panettiere and Madeline Zima in Heroes (2006)With season four, the creators have finally realised what it is viewers loved about Heroes in the first place. Like all good comic books, the series is a rollercoaster ride, with an engaging (if a tad stupid) plot, and a plethora of dastardly villains. Characters are given conflict that, for a change, is genuinely thrilling. Hiro’s awful dilemma is particularly heartbreaking, bringing some essential empathy to what was previously the show’s increasingly tired comic relief. Although it may have proven too little, too late for casual viewers, the season is a worthy farewell to what deserves to be remembered as one TV’s most enjoyable shows.

 

REVIEW: HEROES – SEASON 3

Starring

Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Adrian Pasdar (Supergirl)
Jack Coleman (Spawn)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Hayden Panettiere (Nashville)
James Kyson Lee (Sleepy Hollow)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ali Larter (Final Destination)
Dania Ramirez (Mojave)

Sendhil Ramamurthy in Heroes (2006)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Brea Grant (Halloween II)
Ashley Crow (Minority Report)
Željko Ivanek (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Jamie Hector (All Eyez on Me)
Ntare Mwine (Treme)
Blake Shields (The Hollow)
Robert Forster (Automata)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)
Alan Blumenfeld (Pathology)
George Takei (Star Trek: TOS)
Dan Byrd (28 Days)
Francis Capra (Veronica Mars)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wofe and Kids)
Demetrius Grosse (The Rookie)
Lisa Lackey (Planet of The Apes)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Bruce Boxleitner (Supergirl)
Loren Lester (Red Eye)
Jessalyn Gilsig (Nip/Tuck)
David Anders (Izombie)
William Katt (Carrie)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Breckin Meyer (Garfield)
Taylor Cole (The Originals)
Aarti Mann (The BIg Bang Theory)
Justin Baldoni (Jane The Virgin)
John Glover (Smallville)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
Kenneth Choi (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Diana Scarwid (Psycho III)
Ravi Kapoor (Bones)
Edwin Hodge (Red Dawn)
Alexa Nikolas (Red State)
Cam Clarke (The Lion Guard)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Michael B. Silver (Jason Goes To Hell)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)

Hayden Panettiere and Milo Ventimiglia in Heroes (2006)I love the concept of a weekly show about people dealing with superpowers and an evil government agency coming to get them. I also really like that it doesn’t shy away from the violence, especially when it comes to the ruthless power collecting ultimate bad guy (who at times shows his good side) Sylar. What I don’t like is how scattered and uneven this show has become. I dare anyone to try and make sense out of the first half of the season titled “Villains”. The only crime committed was a lack of concern for a coherent plot. Luckily the second half of the season “Fugitives” got the show focused in and back on track. More after the jump…Masi Oka, James Kyson, and Brea Grant in Heroes (2006)The first half of the season “Villains” was advertised with big campaigns claiming that this season “Heroes will battle Villains.” I was super stoked because the way my mind pictured the structure of the show was switching the narrative focus over to the villains and showing the events through their perspective making all the good guys side characters. I realize this sounds a bit ambitious, but coming off of a lackluster sophomore season I thought the creators were pulling out all the stops. This is not what happened. Instead what came out of the first half was a jumbled, messy plot that had moments of brilliance mixed in with a heavy dose of confusion. I still was thoroughly entertained, but I’m an easy sell when it comes to anything comic book oriented.Zachary Quinto in Heroes (2006)The plot of “Villains” centers around the revelation that Arthur Petrelli is in fact alive and planning some dastardly things at Pinhearst, in his search for the catalyst (the nebulous source that gave all these characters powers). If Arthur can get his hands on the formula then he can create a whole slew of super humans to do his bidding. This is a pretty cool plot, especially when a ton of super baddies are released from Level 5 during a crisis leading to HRG and Sylar teaming up to round them up. Sylar has a lot of moral issues this season as he grapples with his true nature, is he a monster or was he programmed by the Company to be this way?Jack Coleman in Heroes (2006)There are some really fun things he gets to do this season, especially the buddy cop-esque episode where he and HRG are trying to stop a bank robbery being held up by super villains. The plot gets confusing when time travel keeps being thrown in and the actual source of the catalyst was jumbled for me. Is it Claire or Hiro’s mother or both or just a formula? I have no idea. There’s also a two-part episode where another eclipse happens and they all lose their powers. I understand why in the dramatic arc of the story this was put in, but it’s not fun to watch superheroes without powers and these two episodes dragged a bit. I liked the initial idea and towards the end the showdown with Arthur and the Petrelli boys is great, but this half loses steam here and there with just too many ideas on the table.Now comes the second half of the season “Fugitives,” which I thought was awesome! Nathan outs himself to the President as being a person with abilities and is then put in charge of rounding up all people like him in the interest of Homeland Security. Nathan’s motives are a bit sketchy, has he turned to the Dark Side or is this all a way to help Claire, or is it a way to work the system from the inside and eventually destroy it? I’m not telling, but there are a decent number of twists throughout. The reason this half of the season works so much better is because there is a clear through-line and the story is way more focused. Basically it’s the U.S. government versus everyone with abilities, as villains team with heroes and the lines of good and bad are blurred to fight a bigger enemy that threatens all their existence. It’s also a classic comic book plot that works well for a reason, because it seems realistic that this is how our government would react if living Weapons of Mass Destruction started popping up all over the country.Hayden Panettiere, James Kyson, and Brea Grant in Heroes (2006)“Fugitives” has a clear bad guy in the ruthless Agent Danko, who will stop at nothing to detain and sometimes simply destroy anyone with abilities. HRG and Angela start playing both sides and their characters have some great moments. Sylar takes a trip down memory lane to try and find out who his real parents are and some interesting new developments come up leading him down a darker path then before. And Sylar acquires his best power yet, when he kills a shape-shifter, could he be any more unstoppable? While Nathan grapples with the morals of the decisions he’s made and how to fix this manhunt he’s started. Not to mention a great deal is revealed when the gang of heroes goes to Coyote Sands to find out about a mysterious project called “Icarus” which turns out to be a concentration camp for people with abilities where some pretty bad stuff went down. Lots of action, suspense, twists, and a more focused plot makes “Fugitives” a bad ass return to form for a series that has had some ups and downs, but is still dear to my nerdcore heart.Hayden Panettiere, Masi Oka, and James Kyson in Heroes (2006)The first half of season three meandered a bit, but was still fun to watch. The second half reminded me why I started watching the show in the first place and gives a great deal of hope for season four, especially with the cliffhanger we were left with at the end of “Fugitives.” Let’s just say it won’t be politics as usual this coming season…

 

REVIEW: HEROES – SEASON 2

Starring

Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Jack Coleman (The Vampire Diaries)
Masi Oka (The Meg)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Agents of Shield)
Hayden Panettiere (I Love You, Beth Cooper)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wife and Kids)
Ali Larter (Obsessed)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)
David Anders (Izombie)
Kristen Bell (The Goood Place)
Dania Ramirez (Mojave)
Dana Davis (10 Things I Hate About You)
James Kyson Lee (Sleepy Hollow)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)

Masi Oka in Heroes (2006)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Shalim Ortiz (Grand Hotel)
Kiernan Shipka (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Nicholas D’Agosto (Gotham)
Katie Carr (A Perfect Man)
Eriko Tamura (Dragonball Evolution)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Ashley Crow (Cake)
Dianna Agron (Glee)
Barry Shabaka Henley (The Terminal)
Holt McCallany (Justice League)
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
George Takei (Star Trek: TOS)
Dominic Keating (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Lost)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek: TOS)
Tohoru Masamune (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)
Alan Blumenfeld (Wargames)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat)
Elya Baskin (Spider-Man 2)
Leonard Roberts (Smallville)
Rena Sofer (Traffic)
Sabrina Perez (Terminator: TSCC)
Saemi Nakamura (The Wolverine)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Jaime Ray Newman (The Punisher)

David Anders and Masi Oka in Heroes (2006)Initially, I wasn’t watching Heroes when it aired on TV, though I did manage to catch the first season when it came out on video, and I was amazed. I think it did a couple of things exceptionally well. Combining the nature of a hero and villain into the framing of a comic book, it managed to capture the feeling of serialized television at a level that not many shows reach. Almost every week, you were left with a scene that made you immediately want the next seven days to go by as fast as humanly possible. Additionally, creator Tim Kring made the heroes global. While many were in America, one was located in Japan and spoke Japanese with his friend. I don’t recall a prime-time show devoting an entire storyline to one foreign-speaking character in awhile, but I don’t watch as much as others to know for sure.Katie Carr and Milo Ventimiglia in Heroes (2006)Nevertheless, Heroes has captured the hearts and minds of many, and Season Two was full of expectations following the Season One cliffhanger, where Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar, Judging Amy saved his brother Peter (Milo Ventimiglia, Rocky Balboa) from blowing up the world by grabbing him and flying the brothers into the atmosphere while Peter’s niece/Nathan’s biological daughter Claire (Hayden Panettiere, Remember The Titans) watched from below. The first episode of Season Two found the characters in many different positions. Peter was alive but severely burned. Claire was starting school in California, away from the comforts of Odessa, Texas, but under the watchful eye of her father Noah (Jack Coleman) and away from the mysterious yet diabolical “Company.” Nathan’s friend Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg, Alias) was becoming a New York Police Detective and staying with Mohinder (Sendil Ramamurthy) while the two raised Molly (Adair Tishler, Pop Star). Niki (Ali Larter, Legally Blonde) seemed to have her power under control and has D.L. (Leonard Roberts, Drumline) and Micah (Noah Gray-Cabey, Lady in the Water) with her as well. Finally, remember that Japanese character I spoke of earlier? Well Hiro (Masi Oka, Get Smart) is in 17th century feudal Japan, wondering what it is exactly that he’s doing there. And Sylar (Zachary Quinto, Star Trek) was last seen crawling into a sewer, never to be seen again?Dania Ramirez and Shalim Ortiz in Heroes (2006)It’s from here that things get a little complicated. Kring, Executive Producer Jeph Loeb and the rest of the show’s cast and crew listen to fan feedback and truly take it to heart, and I’d be remiss to not mention Kring’s interview with Entertainment Weekly in which he seemed to creatively say “My bad!” when discussing the viewers’ reaction to the second season. Among the things discussed were the character development of new heroes and villains, which might work in other places, but not when you have an already established cast of characters. To borrow from another show for a second (specifically Lost), if the fanbase is there, you can get away with dropping in a new character or two, and bring character development along at your own pace. Do we know all there is to know about Ben’s backstory? And he’s been on the island for a couple of seasons now. The balance between keeping a new character fresh while advancing the older characters’ arcs is a challenge, but maybe virtual abandonment wasn’t the best way to go for Kring. It also didn’t help Kring that Maya and Alejandro were his version of Nikki and Paolo either. With the exception of Elle (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars), Kring would have been better suited to keep the familiar faces more at the forefront. But hey, what’s done is done.Kristen Bell in Heroes (2006)There were other elements of the show that Kring rued over as well, but one other thing that occurred that impacted the show and was out of his control was the Writers’ Guild Strike which forced Kring to curtail the season, along with a story arc that would have had apparently significant ramifications, if the supplements on this set are any indication. The main stories for Season Two surrounded the characters’ physical and emotional states after their initial mammoth confrontation, but also for several older cast members who were being stalked and eventually eliminated by a hero with a grudge. And hovering over everyone’s heads was a virus that, if released, would have wiped out the world, as Peter finds out in a flash forward of sorts.David Anders in Heroes (2006)Upon further review, perhaps Season Two of Heroes doesn’t deserve as much scorn and ridicule as it’s received. If we were to examine the season as a living breathing figure, it would be comparing it to someone who committed murder, but in the time after the act, showed remorse for the act and the loss. When it starts to take tangible steps on the road to recovery, the townspeople put down their pitchforks and torches, but the murderer gets hit by lightning before the townspeople can accept or forgive him. As a post-script to all of this, the moral of the story appears to be that you can learn from your mistakes, and Kring debuted the Season Three episode at the 2008 Comic Con in San Diego. The show hit the ground running after nine months in creative cold storage, but there are still components of it that make revisiting Season Two a slight prerequisite, so spend the time in doing so.Eriko Tamura in Heroes (2006)One of the reasons why I devoted so many words to Heroes is that, well, there’s a lot to talk about. It’s worth revisiting Season Two not only for what happened, but for what might have been as well. The storylines are decent, and the band came back for another tour so to speak, and with this presentation you get solid technical specs and a multitude of extra material. Fans of the show should snap this up promptly.

REVIEW: HEROES – SEASON 1

Starring

Milo Ventimiglia (Gotham)
Hayden Panettiere (Nashville)
Jack Coleman (Spawn)
Tawny Cypress (Brooklyn’s Finest)
Leonard Roberts (Smallville)
Santiago Cabrera (Transformers: The Last Knight)
Masi Oka (The Meg)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Adrian Pasdar (Supergirl)
Noah Gray-Cabey (Code Black)
Ali Larter (Final Destination)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)

Hayden Panettiere in Chapter One 'Genesis' (2006)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ashley Crow (The Secret Circle)
Thomas Dekker (Terminator: TSCC)
James Kyson (Sleepy Hollow)
John Prosky (True Blood)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
Clea DuVall (Argo)
Nora Zehetner (Brick)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Stacy Haiduk (Superboy)
Matt Lanter (Disaster Movie)
Danielle Savre (Boogeyman 2)
Deirdre Quinn (Miss Congeniality)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Tina Lifford (New Jack City)
Elizabeth Lackey (Planet of The Apes)
Eugene Byrd (Bones)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Monster-In-Law)
Riki Lindhome (The Lego Batman Movie)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Archie Kao (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy)
Nicole Bilderback (Bring it On)
Matthew John Armstrong (Bones)
Rick Peters (Dexter)
Rena Sofer (Traffic)
Jayma Mays (The Smurfs)
Sakina Jaffrey (The Equalizer 2)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Tiffany Hines (Bones)
Graham Beckel (L.A. Confidential)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Christopher Eccleston (Thor: The Dark World)
Brad Greenquist (Ali)
George Takei (Star Trek: TOS)
Jessalyn Gilsig (Nip/Tuck)
Monica Louwerens (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Bill Fagerbakke (How I Met Your Mother)
Rusty Schwimmer (The Perfect Storm)
Stana Katic (Castle)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)
Missy Peregrym (Van Helsing)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Kellan Lutz (Twilight)
Sterling Beaumon (Powers)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Jack Guzman (Power Rangers Wild Force)

Tawny Cypress and Santiago Cabrera in Chapter One 'Genesis' (2006) Set on present day Earth, the show details how a growing number of people are developing special abilities outside of government control with a variety of consequences to them and the population at large. Unlike the truncated second season, the first had a full 23 episodes to explore the concept, resulting in a number of smaller, multi-episode arcs that all built toward a bigger picture as the season progressed. Unlike the old style of comic books though, the cast is made up of all sorts of regular people that start to notice they are “special”, some of whom learn to increase their abilities with concentration or training, stumbling at times but honing said powers in numerous ways.Masi Oka in Heroes (2006)In overall terms, the story uses the Human Genome Project as something of a starting point, using scientist Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) as a focal point for identifying gifted people as he follows a trail set forth by his father, a formerly distinguished geneticist that chased what were considered crazy ideas about human evolution until he was killed. Mohinder discovers that certain trace markers in human DNA predict people with abilities and having observed firsthand exactly how gifted some of these people are, he ends up trying to warn them of a serial killer named Sylar (Zachary Quinto) and what appears to be secret agents out to capture them. Needless to say, his efforts are not universally appreciated and he himself is cast into the mix as a pawn, forced to face both powered and mundane humans out to stop him. The show also uses a dozen or so other main characters that either have powers or interact heavily with them, many seemingly patterned after specific comic book characters in terms of abilities, though not so much in terms of their personalities.Greg Grunberg in Heroes (2006)Take Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) for example, he can bend the space time continuum if he concentrates hard enough, the Japanese office worker slaving away at his father’s corporation while dreaming of his special destiny. The guy is a stereotypical science fiction/comic book nerd too, wanting more than anything to become a hero rather than follow the path laid out for him by his father Kaito (George Takei of Star Trek fame). His hit or miss attempts to control his powers provide some of the comic relief of the show but he also serves as someone genre fans can identify with as he tries to uncover his own future with the help of his best friend, the mundane Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee).Hayden Panettiere in Heroes (2006)Then there was Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), a gal with Wolverine-like healing powers who figures out she will regenerate no matter what happens to her, the gal finding out her adopted father Noah (Jack Coleman) is working for an agency with special plans for anyone with her kind of talents. The Texas high school cheerleader becomes an integral part of the main picture as she is stalked by Sylar, a man with the ability to take special powers by decapitating those he encounters, their showdown predicted long before by Isacc Mendez (Santiago Cabrera), a precognitive that draws the future while under the influence of heroin.Masi Oka and James Kyson in Heroes (2006)The cast also included internet stripper Niki Sanders (hotty Ali Larter) whose multiple personality disorder grants her alias Jessica super strength, Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) a district attorney running for Congress that can fly, his brother Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) that finds out his ability is especially powerful as time moves forward, Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) a street cop that can read minds, and DL Hawkins (Leonard Roberts) who can become intangible at will. Some of them try to keep their secret, like Nathan since he is running for office, while others are on the run from the agency searching such folks out (their point man being Noah with the aid of a Haitian that can negate powers and erase minds played by Jimmy Jean Louis), the conspiracy something straight out of shows like The X-Files, Jericho, or Angel. The interactions of the cast make the show quite special too, capturing the spirit of modern comic books better than anything else I have seen to date.Adrian Pasdar and Rena Sofer in Heroes (2006)Particularly appealing is the manner in which most of the powers are not overly flashy, the dramatic elements allowed to keep the science fiction elements present but downplayed so that a larger audience won’t be alienated. Some of the episodes were gaudier than others in this respect but the exploration of human nature made this a wonderful show to appreciate, the sheer number of extras requiring me to take a lot longer to review this one but the quality of extras was such that I can see why so many fans found this show (in previous releases) to be such a winner, making it a high end Highly Recommended or better, reports of the second season being somewhat less inspiring but still interesting to me now that I’ve gotten a taste for the show. Also, fans of comic books and science fiction will likely find the great many references to other works interesting to find, things such as character names, addresses, license plates, or other minutia standing out to the dedicated few willing to pay stricter attention.Heroes Season 1 may not have tread completely new territory in terms of vast conspiracies (the manner in which Micah manipulated the election seemed to come straight out of the Gore camp), super powered humans, or the way in which human nature deals so readily with conflict but it was the kind of comic book for TV that I have been waiting for all my life and despite a few writing quirks in this first season, it was most entertaining with the kind of replay value few TV-on-DVD sets provide these days. It dealt with numerous situations that non-fans could appreciate too (rape, alienation, “being different”, and the balance between individual rights versus those of the public being only a few to speak of) and left the show open enough for following seasons to take the characters in all new directions. The use of a formulaic process in the episodes was proven to not impact the quality of the show too, my initial concern about the time travel arcs being a series of “do overs” covered well before the finale showed a healthy respect for making our own destiny instead of a predestined outcome as originally implied.

REVIEW: BALLS OF FURY

CAST
Dan Fogler (Hannibal)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
George Lopez (Spare Parts)
Maggie Q (Divergent)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Terry Crews (Serving Sara)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Jason Scott Lee (Soldier)
Patton Oswalt (Two and A Half men)
Mather Zickel (Bones)
Masi Oka (Heroes)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Toby Huss (Dickinson)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Kerri Kenney (Superstore)
Jim Rash (Sky High)

Eleven year old Randy Daytona becomes anxious when he learns that his father Peter has bet on his performance in the 1988 Summer Olympics table tennis finals. During his first game between his opponent Karl Wolfschtagg from the German Democratic Republic, Daytona has an accident and suffers an injury. Unable to continue, he loses the match. Loan sharks in the employ of criminal mastermind Feng murder his father, and Daytona leaves competitive ping-pong. Nineteen years later, Daytona is dismissed from the Peppermill casino and meets FBI agent Ernie Rodriguez, who requests his assistance in arresting Feng for running guns. Feng’s hidden jungle hideout hosts a black-market Ping-Pong tournament, and Daytona’s invitation is a way for the FBI to infiltrate Feng’s organization. When Daytona agrees, Rodriguez tells him to win enough championships that Feng’s scouts notice him. After losing a local tournament, Daytona is apprenticed to a blind man in Chinatown named Wong, who was Feng’s former mentor. Daytona also meets Wong’s niece, Maggie. When locals vandalize Master Wong’s house for violating their edict against teaching white people ping pong, Daytona is forced to play against “The Dragon”, a young girl, in exchange for Wong’s right to stay. After Daytona beats the Dragon, Feng’s men take notice of his win and bring Daytona, Rodriguez, and Wong to Feng’s facility.

Daytona handily beats his first opponent, Freddy “Fingers” Wilson, though he is unnerved to learn that the tournament is literally sudden death—the loser is killed by a poisoned dart delivered by Feng’s majordomo, Mahogany. After Daytona attempts unsuccessfully to escape, Feng invites him to join his side and reveals that he only finished half of Wong’s training. He says it would be the ultimate satisfaction to win Daytona away from Wong. Feng also shows Daytona his specially modified ping-pong table. It is wired to special vests that give increasingly powerful and fatal electrical shocks for failure. Daytona informs Rodriguez of a hidden cache of illegal guns that are sufficient to put Feng in jail. While Rodriguez investigates the hidden facilities, Daytona defeats numerous opponents for his life.
Upon learning that Wolfschtagg is his last opponent, Daytona requests extraction. Rodriguez comes up with a plan to brutally injure Daytona, so that he has to quit. Rodriguez breaks Daytona’s arm before Daytona can tell him that he has changed his mind. Feng discovers Rodriguez’s attempts to contact the FBI and forces Daytona to face Wolfschtagg, then substitutes Maggie. When Wolfstagg protests, Feng kills him. Daytona plays one-handed and tries to stall for time. Maggie tries to lose on purpose to sacrifice herself. However, Daytona uses his ping-pong expertise to hit Maggie with the ball. While this goes on, they escape together. Enraged, Feng orders them both executed. Mahogany shoots a poisonous dart at Daytona, but Maggie defends him with the ping-pong paddle. Daytona then throws the poisoned paddle back at Mahogany, killing her. The FBI swarms the place, during which the heroes attempt to escape, but Daytona’s attempts to rescue Feng’s sex slaves causes their capture. Feng plays Daytona to determine which of Wong’s students is the superior ping pong player.
During the game, the facility’s self-destruct sequence is activated, and Feng reveals there is no off-switch. He also states that he changed the rules so that the ball can now be bounced off any surface once and still be in play. As the self-destruct sequence countdown progresses, the game moves through several buildings and finally onto a bridge over a nearby river. After Wong informs Daytona that Feng has a weak backhand, Daytona exploits his weakness, and Feng is electrocuted, falling into the river. Daytona and his friends, along with Feng’s slaves, escape in Wong’s boat. Two months later, the major characters are reunited for the reopening of Master Wong’s rebuilt Mushu shop.
The plot is predictable enough but with a very well written script and plenty enough twists and parodying of the martial arts genre to make it worth a second watch.