REVIEW: DEFENDING JACOB

Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, and Jaeden Martell in Defending Jacob (2020)

Starring

Chris Evans (Knives Out)
Michelle Dockery (Hanna)
Jaeden Martell (IT)
Cherry Jones (The Beaver)
Pablo Schreiber (First Man)
Sakina Jaffrey (Lost In Space)
Betty Gabriel (Unfriended: Dark Web)
J. K. Simmons (Spider-Man)

Chris Evans at an event for Defending Jacob (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Poorna Jagannathan (Awake)
Jake Picking (Top Gun: Maverick)
Nathan Parsons (Roswell, New Mexico)
Leighton Meester (The Judge)
Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Henshall (Skin)
Matt Lanter (Disaster Movie)
Patrick Fischler (The Finder)
Megan Byrne (Ghost Town)

Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, and Jaeden Martell in Defending Jacob (2020)As a limited series packed to the gills with recognizable faces and even big-name stars, Defending Jacob is yet another step in the right direction for Apple TV+. Though the nascent streaming television (and movies) service from one the biggest tech companies in the world has had something of an uneven start, with ambitious, big-budget series like The Morning Show and See that created relatively small ripples in the sea of streaming content when they likely should have been the source of enormous waves signaling a massive change in the day and age of Peak TV. Nevertheless, the progress of Apple TV+ continues apace, with nearly every subsequent television show being arguably better than the last (with the exception of Amazing Stories, sadly). And while the service finds itself taking smaller steps toward seriously competing with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, the inclusion of star-driven adult-oriented dramas like Defending Jacob make the service a welcome outlier among services relying on ubiquitous IP or that are relentlessly chasing the next Game of Thrones.Adapted from the novel of the same name by William Landay, the series is written, executive produced and showrun by Mark Bomback (Outlaw King), with all eight episodes directed by Morten Tyldum, who helped create the somber look and feel of Starz’s superb sci-fi spy drama, Counterpart. Like most of Apple’s original series to date, Defending Jacob looks like a million bucks, with its chilly color palette that accentuates the story’s brooding and moody tone. It’s sort of the complete package, in terms of prestige-y dramas, with the aforementioned Evans and Dockery playing Andy and Laurie Barber, a well-to-do Massachusetts family who finds their world is one day shattered after their son, Jacob (Jaeden Martell), is accused of brutally murdering his classmate.Pooka-10What follows is a slow-burn thriller that asks how far a parent would go to protect their child, even when the questions regarding his guilt are too great and too compelling to ignore. Complicating matters is Andy’s position as an assistant D.A., a fact that shines an unwelcome spotlight on a crime that already has their community in an uproar. But while Defending Jacob could have been a compelling two-hander, with Evans and Dockery weighing the possibility that their child is indeed guilty of a horrific crime, all while doing everything in their considerable power to ensure he’s set free, the series offers a robust supporting cast that helps make the Barber’s world feel more lived-in and compelling, especially as it begins to turn on them.Defending_Jacob_Photo_010104The rest of the cast is made up of terrific character actors like Cherry Jones, Sakina Jaffrey, and Pablo Schreiber, while also bringing in the always-welcome J.K. Simmons and Betty Gabriel (who both worked with Tyldum on Counterpart). Each supporting role plays a fascinating part in examining the ways in which a community can be torn apart by violent crime and the ensuing accusations that emerge as a result. They also help ground the story as it unfolds, and as the series introduces plausible and not-so plausible answers to the question at hand. But many of the key supporting players — Jones and Gabriel, chiefly — also aid in assuaging one of the biggest obstacles the series faces: that of convincing the audience that Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery are the middle-aged parents of a teenaged son.a5-21-e1585242550178In approaching this concern, Defending Jacob stacks its cast with characters for whom this is not at all unusual. It’s a bid to normalize what is essentially an odd sticking point for an otherwise compelling mystery-thriller that just happens to have cast two people who very much look like movie stars as everypersons. The result, then, is something of a strange throwback to the kinds of mid-budget thrillers that Hollywood doesn’t really make anymore. From that perspective, it’s easy to see why Evans was attracted to the material (he also serves as executive producer on the series), having come off an extended stint playing the lab-grown super soldier and idealized version of the male form for Marvel. So, while it may be a bit of a stretch to think there’s a small-town D.A. with biceps bigger than the average human’s head racing to keep his son out of prison for a crime he may or may not have committed, it’s ultimately a small quibble considering Evans and Dockery deliver strong performances that, along with the rest of the cast, ultimately make the series worthwhile.200412-defending-jacob3Though it’s easy enough (especially right now) to jump into a dark eight-hour drama with a cast as appealing as this, it’s important to note the series dutifully takes its time getting started, as though the term “slow-burn” wasn’t just an apt descriptor but the ethos of the entire production. In that sense, Defending Jacob feels a great deal like HBO’s superb The Outsider. And while the former doesn’t have the benefit of a supernatural entity haunting its edges, it does have a compelling mystery and thoughtful performances to keep audiences watching until the end.

REVIEW: THE MANDALORIAN – SEASON 1

Pedro Pascal in The Mandalorian (2019)

Starring

Pedro Pascal (Wonder Woman 1984)

Recurring / Notable Guest Stars

Carl Weathers (Predator)
Werner Herzog (Jack Reacher)
Omid Abtahi (American Gods)
Nick Nolte (Hulk)
Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok)
Gina Carano (Deadpool)
Amy Sedaris (CHef)
Jake Cannavale (Fish In The Dark)
Ming-Na Wen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Mark Boone Junior (Halloween II)
Bill Burr (Zombeavers)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Richard Ayoade (The Watch)
Ismael Cruz Cordova (Mary Queen of Scots)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Emily Swallow (The Odds)
Horatio Sanz (Bachelorette)
Julia Jones (Jonah Hex)
Matt Lanter (Vampires Suck)
Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Adam Pally (Dirty Grandpa)
Jason sudeikis (Son of Zorn)

The Mandalorian (2019)From its opening frame The Mandalorian, written by Jon Favreau and directed by Dave Filoni, is a compelling piece of television: small screen, but richly cinematic. It is thrilling, packed with obscure nods to the 1977 film Star Wars, its much-maligned 1978 spin-off The Star Wars Holiday Special and the larger Star Wars saga. It also breaks rules, not least of which is that in Star Wars only the villains wear masks.At a macro level The Mandalorian is a study of all things peak TV, from its complexity of story detail to its running time. On the latter point, the episode durations – the first two episodes are just 40 and 33 minutes long – sit in stark contrast to the bloated episodes of the final season of Game of Thrones. Not only is less more, but too often more tries to pass off a hectic mess as complex art.Pedro Pascal and Gina Carano in The Mandalorian (2019)Instead, The Mandalorian moves with breathtaking economy. The camera doesn’t linger and yet it still somehow finds its long silences, much in the same way Netflix’s flagship drama The Crown does. At no point do you check your watch. Each episode leaves you full and contemplative, despite the comparatively shorter running times.Pedro Pascal and Gina Carano in The Mandalorian (2019)Even the show’s handling of the “expanded universe” – a storytelling notion that Star Wars gave us but that other story spaces, notably Marvel and DC Comics, have replicated – is done with great precision. The superficial touches that will make fans smile – scavenging Jawas, Mandalorian temples, stormtroopers and subtitled Huttese, the preferred language of space gangsters – are there aplenty.The Mandalorian (2019)On the cinema screen Star Wars has struggled to produce clear non-Skywalker family narratives. But in spite of its relative infancy, as Disney’s first standalone foray into live-action Star Wars storytelling for television, The Mandalorian somehow manages to deliver something more structurally cohesive and emotionally thoughtful than all of the sequels, prequels and cinematic minutiae which have come in between the original Star Wars trilogy and the present day.Pedro Pascal in The Mandalorian (2019)Favreau is as brilliant a fanboy writer as he is a fanboy director, and in Filoni, a true padawan to Star Wars creator George Lucas, he has found a great collaborator. Between them they might have simply made a great TV show. And yet, here, there is something more. In its fine print – Werner Herzog as “the client”, “Baby Yoda” as the internet has dubbed it, the Crusade-like complexities of the Mandalorian faith, Ludwig Goransson’s compelling soundscape – The Mandalorian is both unexpectedly fresh and edge-of-your-seat thrilling.Star Wars is a hard nut to crack open. Getting it right means dancing along a perilous algorithm, first created in our childhood, when our judgment was dulled by spectacular space dogfights and the clash of duelling lightsabers, replicated in the world’s backyard using broom and mop handles. It is likely nothing will ever match that. But The Mandalorian comes stunningly, unexpectedly, brilliantly close.

 

REVIEW: STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (2008)

CAST (VOICES)

Matt Lanter (Vampires Suck)
Ashley Eckstein (Ultimate Spider-Man)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Tom Kane (Transformers: Prime)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Christopher Lee (Lord of The Rings)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers)
Anthony Daniels (Star Wars)
Nika Futterman (DC Super Hero Girls)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Catherine Taber (Curious George 2)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

Why No Love For The Seventh Star Wars Movie?

During the Clone Wars, Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi lead a small Republic clone army against the Separatist droid army on the planet Christophsis. Awaiting reinforcements, the two Jedi greet a shuttle carrying the young Jedi Ahsoka Tano, who insists that she has been assigned by Jedi Master Yoda to serve as Anakin’s Padawan. Anakin begrudgingly accepts Ahsoka’s apprenticeship, and the two succeed in deactivating the Separatists’ energy field while Obi-Wan stalls the droid army commander, allowing a Republic victory, which makes Ahsoka earn Anakin’s respect.
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Following the battle, Yoda arrives and informs the Jedi that crime lord Jabba the Hutt’s son Rotta has been kidnapped. Anakin and Ahsoka are tasked with retrieving the Huttlet, while Obi-Wan is sent to Tatooine to negotiate with Jabba over a potential treaty between the Hutts and the Republic. Anakin and Ahsoka find Rotta on the planet Teth, where they are ambushed by Separatist forces led by Count Dooku’s apprentice Asajj Ventress, discovering that Dooku hopes to frame the Jedi for Rotta’s kidnapping. The Jedi manage to escape the trap along with R2-D2 and hijack a derelict transport with which they travel to Tatooine. Obi-Wan, alerted by Anakin, arrives on Teth and defeats Ventress in a lightsaber duel, though she manages to escape.

Meanwhile, Senator Padmé Amidala, Anakin’s secret wife, learns of Anakin’s mission and fears for his safety. She decides to contact Jabba’s uncle Ziro in Coruscant. The Hutt refuses to cooperate, apparently believing that it is the Jedi who are responsible for the situation. Padmé, however, soon discovers that Ziro has actually conspired with Dooku to have Rotta killed in order for Jabba to have Anakin and Ahsoka executed in return, which will force the Jedi Council, led by Yoda, to take Jabba into custody and allow Ziro to seize power over the Hutt clans. Padmé is discovered and detained, but a chance call by C-3PO enables her to summon a squadron of clone troopers, and Ziro is arrested.
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Upon their arrival on Tatooine, Anakin and Ahsoka are shot down by MagnaGuards. Anakin devises a ruse to confront Dooku while carrying a decoy Rotta, leaving Ahsoka to take the real Rotta to Jabba’s palace. While Anakin fights off Dooku, Ahsoka is ambushed by the MagnaGuards, whom she defeats. The two deliver Rotta safely to Jabba, who nonetheless orders the Jedi’s execution for their supposed attempt to kidnap him. However, Padmé contacts Jabba in time and reveals Ziro and the Separatists’ responsibility for the kidnapping. Acknowledging the Jedi’s heroism and allowing the Republic to have Ziro punished for his betrayal, Jabba agrees to the Republic treaty while Anakin and Ahsoka are retrieved by Obi-Wan and Yoda. In the meantime during his escape, Dooku reports to his master Darth Sidious about the failure of their plot against the Jedi and Jabba, but the Sith Lord assures to him that the tide of war is still in their favor.

Lucasfilm Animation, director Dave Filoni, and screenwriter Henry Gilroy have crafted the perfect summer animated film, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, which is a more than adequate sequel to the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, set between Episodes II and III. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting much, but left quite impressed with the quality of much of the animation. I was also surprised with the amount of screen time given to Count Dooku (voiced by Christopher Lee), as well as Samuel L. Jackson (General Mace Windu) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) (Daniels has now the distinction of appearing in every “Star Wars” film.).

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” captures successfully much of the excitement found in the original trilogy and in “Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”. Moreover, it offers more amazing battle sequences and light saber duels than seen in the live action films thanks to state-of-the-art animation technology. Where “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” fails is in some of its insipid dialogue, and the rather curious introduction of the inexperienced Ahsoka Tano as Anakin’s padawan (Jedi apprentice), who comes across more as a spoiled brat than a genuine Jedi warrior in training. And yet, with these few glaring defects, this remains a film which I can recommend highly to those who are diehard “Star Wars” fans and others seeking high quality cinematic entertainment that’s suitable for the entire family.

REVIEW: DISASTER MOVIE

CAST

Matt Lanter (Timeless)
Vanessa Lachey (Dads)
Gary Johnson (Moneyball)
Nicole Parker (MADtv)
Crista Flanagan (Clipped)
Kim Kardashian West (2 Broke Girls)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Tony Cox (Bad Santa)
Tad Hilgenbrink (Ameircan Pie: Band Camp)

In the year 10,001 B.C., a caveman runs away from a predator through a plain and immediately gets into a fight with Wolf (Ike Barinholtz). After defeating him, the caveman then encounters the predator, a saber-toothed, gasoline-drinking Amy Winehouse (Nicole Parker), who informs him that the world will end on August 29, 2008 and that their fate lies in a Crystal Skull. The sequence is then revealed to be a dream of Will (Matt Lanter) in the present day. He then finds out that his girlfriend Amy (Vanessa Minnillo) is having an affair with Flavor Flav (Abe Spigner), and she breaks up with Will because he is not admitting his true feelings for her.

Later that day, Will has a “Super Duper Sweet Sixteen” party at his house, despite being 25. The guests include Juney (Crista Flanagan), Dr. Phil (John Di Domenico), Will’s best friend Calvin (Gary “G Thang” Johnson), and Anton Chigurh (Barinholtz), among others. During the party, Amy arrives with her new boyfriend, a Calvin Klein underwear model. The party then comes to a halt when the room shakes and the lights go out. A bulletin on the radio claims there is a meteor shower and it is the end of the world. Soon after, the city starts to freeze over, and Will, Juney, Calvin, and Calvin’s girlfriend Lisa retreat to a garage for shelter. When Juney mentions that the calamities are caused by global warming, Will realizes his dream about Amy Winehouse could be related. Later, Will is chided by the others for not committing himself to his relationship with Amy.

The gang leaves the garage and Will gets a call from Amy, where he admits his feelings for her before the call is dropped. He decides to go to rescue Amy. Lisa is later killed by a meteor. While the others comfort a distraught Calvin, the Enchanted Princess (Parker), a prostitute, climbs out of a manhole and gets hit by a taxi. Calvin catches her, and they immediately fall in love with each other. The Princess’ pimp, Prince Edwin (Tad Hilgenbrink), challenges Calvin to a dance fight for her love, but a tornado appears and Prince Edwin escapes. Iron Man (Gerrard Fachinni), Hellboy (Barinholtz), and the Hulk (Roland Kickinger) attempt to fight it, but all are defeated by cows thrown by the tornado. After taking shelter, Will, Juney, Calvin, and the Princess encounter rabid knockoffs of Alvin and the Chipmunks, who attack the gang and kill Juney. The Chipmunks then go after Will and Calvin, but they trap them in a trash can, fatally suffocating them as they attempt to escape.
On their way to the museum Amy is trapped, the group runs into Batman, who informs them that they must go to evacuation buses and that there will be no chance of survival if they go to save Amy. With time against them, the Princess Giselle kills Speed Racer (Jared S. Eddo), and the group hijacks his Mach Five to drive to the museum. At the museum, they save Amy, who reveals that the Crystal Skull is the only thing that can stop the end of the world. Calvin and the Princess then find that the museum doors are closed and all of the artifacts have come alive, including Kung Fu Panda (Yoshio Iizuka), who fights Calvin but is defeated. When Calvin makes out with the Princess, Calvin accidentally pulls her wig and discovers that she is actually a transvestite. While this happens, Kung Fu Panda takes out a katana and kills Calvin and the Princess.
Meanwhile, Will and Amy run into a nude Beowulf (Barinholtz), who fights with Will. After Beowulf is defeated, Will and Amy encounter Indiana Jones (Tony Cox), who is revealed to be Will’s father. Indy tries to put the Crystal Skull on the altar, but he has an accident. Will does it instead, and he averts further destruction. The film ends with a wedding ceremony for Will and Amy being performed by The Guru Shitka (Domenico). The film ends with an extensive musical number about all of the characters dating each other, which sets off a chain, ending with the Chipmunks.Yet another spoof movie, if you like Scary Movie and Meet The Spartans you will love this if not then stay away.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: SORORITY ROW

 

CAST

Briana Evigan (S. Darko)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Rumer Willis (Return To Sender)
Jamie Chung (Gotham)
Audrina Patridge (Honey 2)
Julian Morris (New Girl)
Margo Harshman (The Big Bang Theory)
Carrie FIsher (Star Wars)
Matt O’Leary (Havoc)
Matt Lanter (Disaster Movie)
Caroline D’Amore (Daydreamer)

Theta Pi sorority sister Megan (Audrina Patridge) discovers that her boyfriend Garrett (Matt O’Leary) is cheating on her, and enlists the help of her friends and sorority sisters Cassidy (Briana Evigan), Jessica (Leah Pipes), Ellie (Rumer Willis), Claire (Jamie Chung), and Garrett’s sister Chugs (Margo Harshman) to pull a prank on him. After Megan fakes her own death while having sex with him, Garrett and the girls bring her to a lake, where they intend to dump her body. When Jessica mentions they need to release the air out of her lungs so her body will not float to the surface, Garrett actually kills Megan by stabbing her in the chest with a tire iron. Jessica, Claire, and Chugs dump Megan’s body and the tire iron in a nearby mine shaft. Everyone swears to never mention the incident to anyone, much to Cassidy and Ellie’s dismay.A year later, the girls are graduating from Rosman University and have put the incident behind them, but Cassidy has grown apart from the rest of the group. During the party held after graduation, the girls all receive a photo of a robed person holding the bloody tire iron sent to their cell phones. Suspicion immediately falls on Garrett, but Chugs insists he’s changed after Megan’s murder. Maggie (Caroline D’Amore), Megan’s little sister, arrives, wanting to honor her sister’s memory by attending the party, but Jessica does not allow this. Later, Chugs leaves to go to an appointment to visit her therapist. However, upon arriving for her appointment, an unknown figure also arrives and kills the therapist by throwing a spiked tire iron through his head. Not knowing that her therapist was murdered, Chugs lies down on a couch and drinks champagne. The killer suddenly appears and shoves the champagne bottle down her throat and slices her neck with the tire iron, killing her.Later that day, in the sorority’s shower room, Claire and Jessica talk about the night Megan was murdered. After they leave, a sorority girl named Joanna, who overheard their conversation, is murdered by the killer with the tire iron, who stabs her in the chin. At the party that night, Claire dumps her perverted boyfriend Mickey, and he continues hitting on a few girls at the party, including Ellie, but is continuously rebuffed. He is then attacked and murdered by the killer, who stabs him in the throat with the tire iron while he attempts to hide in the laundry chute, which Ellie witnesses while hiding. Cassidy, Claire, Jessica, and Ellie regroup and all receive a text containing the video of Megan’s death and a message telling them to go to the mine shaft in twenty minutes or the video will be sent to the police. The girls drive to the mine shaft, and encounter Garrett, who has cut his wrists. Thinking Garrett is the one stalking them, Jessica runs over him with her vehicle. However, they discover afterward that Garrett has been receiving the same text messages they have. Ellie suspects that Megan is the killer, believing that she did not actually die and is seeking revenge.To prove that Megan is dead, the girls lower Cassidy down the shaft to look, but instead of finding Megan’s body, she finds a message written in blood that says “Theta Pi must die”. Back at the now empty sorority house, the girls receive a text from Chugs’ cell phone, telling them that she is dead. Afterward, Claire is murdered with a flare gun, which severely burns her face. Searching the house for Jessica’s boyfriend, Kyle (Matt Lanter), the girls run into Maggie and their house mother, Mrs. Crenshaw (Carrie Fisher). After finding out about Megan’s murder, Mrs. Crenshaw tells the girls to lock themselves in Jessica’s bedroom and to call the police while she searches for the killer. Maggie is horrified when she learns what happened to Megan and leaves the room to find her.After a chase in the kitchen, Mrs. Crenshaw is killed by the tire iron stuck in the wall when the killer pushes the table towards her. With no cell phones around, Cassidy and Jessica decide to find Mickey’s body and use his cell, telling Ellie to run if she gets the chance. Downstairs, the killer confronts Maggie and throws a Molotov cocktail at her, setting the house on fire. Cassidy and Jessica run into Kyle, who injures Jessica after getting into a fight with her. Cassidy and Jessica flee to an under-renovation bathroom where they find Megan’s decomposing corpse hanging in a closet. Kyle attacks them and knocks out Jessica, but before he can harm Cassidy, Kyle is killed with an axe by Andy (Julian Morris), Cassidy’s boyfriend, who reveals himself to be the killer.Margo Harshman in Sorority Row (2009)As Jessica regains consciousness and tries to negotiate with Andy, he fatally stabs her in the mouth with the tire iron. Andy reveals that he had hoped for a bright future with Cassidy, but because she was involved with Megan’s murder, he feared that she would be found out, so he decided to kill everyone who knew of it. Despite Cassidy’s opposition, Andy tells her that they need to kill Ellie, the only other person who knows about Megan’s murder. Andy reveals that she was the one who confided in him about Megan’s murder, thus, she will likely report it the police. Devising a plan, Cassidy plays along and tells Andy that Ellie is in the basement and he goes looking for her. Just as Cassidy fetches Ellie from upstairs, they’re attacked by Andy, who is hurt that Cassidy would betray him. Urging Ellie to flee, Cassidy hits Andy with a lamp and tries to escape, but stops as she hears Maggie’s cries for help, who is trapped behind the flames. Cassidy tries to rescue her, but Andy comes and tries to kill Maggie, though Cassidy stops him. The floor then crumbles underneath Cassidy, and she is left hanging over the burning basement. As Andy is about to finish her off, Ellie appears and shoots him with Mrs. Crenshaw’s shotgun. He falls backward onto the burning floor, which collapses under him and he falls to his death into the flames. After Maggie and Ellie pull Cassidy back up from the hole in the floor, the three girls escape from the burning sorority house just as the fire department and other emergency personnel arrive.Months later, the Theta Pi building is being renovated from the fire and Maggie is now a Theta Pi sister. As the girls sing the Theta Pi song, a man comes into view, holding a garden trowel. The camera pans up to his wrist, revealing scars, implying that Garrett is still alive.Although there is nothing remotely original about this slasher. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. In what is mix of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.  The cast are all hot, the smoking hot Jamie Chung being the standout. A hilarious cameo from Carrie Fisher and a rocking soundtrack all added to the enjoyment of this film.

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: VAMPIRES SUCK

CAST

Jenn Proske (Graceland)
Matt Lanter (Timeless)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Chris Riggi (Adult World)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Anneliese van der Pol (Bratz)
David Deluise (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Dave Foley (A Bug’s Life)
Crista Flanagan (Clipped)
B.J. Britt (Agents of SHIELD)
Charlie Weber (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Arielle Kebbel (The Vampire Diaries)
Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad)

Becca Crane (Jenn Proske) moves to Sporks to live with her clueless father, Sheriff Frank (Diedrich Bader), after her mother starts an affair with Tiger Woods. Meanwhile, a killing spree targeting random locals is attributed to the Canadians, but the real perpetrators are a group of vampires, who are commonly confused with the Black Eyed Peas. Becca quickly befriends many students at her new high school, including Jennifer (Anneliese van der Pol). She is also intrigued by the mysterious and aloof Edward Sullen (Matt Lanter), who perplexes her during their time in the biology class, despite thinking she smells of tuna.

Later, when Becca is nearly struck by a van in the school parking lot, Edward stops the vehicle by thrusting another student in the van’s way. He later refuses to explain this act to Becca and warns her against befriending him. After much research, she tells Edward that she knows what he is, but reaches the wrong conclusion that he is a Jonas Brother. Edward corrects her, saying he is a vampire but that he only consumes animal blood. He also states he is a killer, but despite this, Becca agrees to go to prom with Edward. Later, Becca and Edward kiss passionately in her room; Becca, wanting to have sex with Edward, then attempts to seduce him, but he abstains.

On Becca’s birthday, Edward introduces Becca to his vampire family. While unwrapping a gift, Becca gets a paper cut, after which a vampire runs at her. Edward flings her back, further injuring her, and then does the same to Jeremiah. Realizing the danger that he and his family pose to Becca, Edward rides her out to the woods. He then proceeds to break up with Becca, who throws a temper tantrum after he leaves. After the fit, she is attacked by three nomadic vampires, but Edward intervenes and saves her.

Edward’s departure leaves Becca heartbroken for months, but she is comforted by her deepening friendship with her childhood friend Jacob White (Christopher N. Riggi). When Becca is accosted in the woods by the nomadic vampires again, Jacob transforms into a Chihuahua as his werewolf pack arrives to save her. Meanwhile, Edward has moved to Rio de Janeiro and is now dating Lady Gaga to get over losing Becca. He is later informed by his sister that, with her gift of prophecy, she has seen Becca kill herself. Edward becomes depressed and decides to provoke the “Zolturi”, a powerful vampire coven, into killing him by exposing himself in the sunlight in front of humans, thus exposing the existence of vampires. His sister has another vision of Becca’s survival as he leaves, but she is unable to warn him.

Edward’s sister arrives at Becca’s house in her Porsche 911, and tells her she has to save Edward by showing him she is still alive. Jacob appears and demands that Becca choose between him and Edward, but just before she announces her decision, he is distracted by a cat and runs off to chase it. Upon arriving at the prom, Becca is caught between the warring factions of Edward fangirls and Jacob fangirls. She is unable to reach Edward before he exposes himself, figuratively and literally. However, twilight occurs, followed by a new moon and an eclipse, concealing Edward’s vampiric nature as Becca gets him to safety. After a fight between him and the Zolturi leader, Daro (Ken Jeong), Edward is forced to turn Becca into a vampire or he will be killed horribly. He agrees to do so only on the condition that she marry him, which she accepts.The film concludes with Edward being struck in the head by the Jacob fangirls’ leader. Edward survives the blow, and the girl is attacked by the newly vampirized Becca.I’d recommend this film to anyone who likes spoof films, dislikes Twilight intensely, or even likes twilight and is of a mature enough mind to enjoy spoofs and mick-takes of films they enjoy.