REVIEW: NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM

CAST

Ben Stiller (Zoolander)
Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins)
Carla Gugino (San Andreas)
Mickey Rooney (Revenge of The Red Baron)
Bill Cobbs (Oz The Great and Powerful)
Jake Cherry (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
Ricky Gervais (Muppets Most Wanted)
Kim Raver (24)
Charlie Murphy (Norbit)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Anne Meara (Zoolander)
Robin Williams (Hook)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Rami Malek (Battleship)
Pierfrancesco Favino (The Last Kiss)
Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers)
Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder)
Brad Garrett (Finding Dory)
Mizuo Peck (A Case of You)
Matthew Harrison (Watchmen)
Jody Racicot (Flash Gordon)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)

Larry Daley is a divorced man from Queens, hoping to find a good job to impress his ten-year old son Nick, his ex-wife Erica believing he is a bad example for their son. Larry is hired at the American Museum of Natural History to replace the retiring security guards Cecil Fredericks and his colleagues Gus and Reginald. Larry meets the museum’s neurotic curator Dr. McPhee, and museum docent Rebecca Hutman, who plans to write a dissertation on Sacagawea. On his first night, Cecil hands Larry an instruction manual on what to do in the museum, warning him not to let anything “in or out.”Larry soon discovers that at night, the museum’s exhibits come to life and cause havoc for him. Amongst the lively exhibits are a playful Tyrannosaurus skeleton named Rexy; a mischievous capuchin monkey named Dexter who destroys the instructions; the warring factions of cowboys and legionnaires led by Jedediah and General Octavius; violent Attila the Hun; a talking Easter Island Head that desires gum; the fire-seeking neanderthals; and a wax model of Theodore Roosevelt, who is in love with Sacagawea.Roosevelt explains to Larry that the exhibits have come to life every night since the arrival of an Egyptian artifact, the Tablet of Akhmenrah, the mummified pharaoh trapped in his sarcophagus. He also explains to Larry that as night guard, it is his job to make sure that no exhibit sets foot out of the museum, otherwise they will disintegrate into dust if the sun rises while they are outside. The next day, Cecil advises Larry to research history to make up for the instructions’ destruction. He studies in libraries and from Rebecca. Larry puts his new knowledge to good use on his second night, but some of his plans backfire and the neanderthals set their exhibit on fire, leading to one becoming dust after venturing outside. After having doubts and almost getting fired the next day, Larry offers to introduce Sacagawea to Rebecca, but she thinks he is mocking her.On his third night, Larry brings Nick to the museum to watch the exhibits come to life, but they strangely do not. They catch Cecil, Gus, and Reginald stealing artifacts, who explain the tablet’s magic has allowed them to feel physically young in their old age, and plot to frame Larry for the theft while they enjoy a happy retirement. Nick activates the tablet, but Cecil steals it, locking Larry and Nick in the Egyptian exhibit. They free Akhmenrah, and rally the exhibits to stop the thieves and retrieve their colleagues who fled out into Central Park. Gus and Reginald are captured, but Cecil escapes by stagecoach.Larry and several exhibits give chase, where they stop Cecil and recover the tablet, using its magic to escort all of the exhibits back into the museum before sunrise. Rebecca witnesses this and makes amends with Larry, subsequently introduced to Sacagawea. The next day McPhee fires Larry, but when they go into the museum, they find it is crowded due to last night’s strange activities, and Larry is rehired. During the credits, Cecil, Gus, and Reginald were granted mercy by Larry and work as janitors.While the story could have been a little better, that’s a minor quibble. For the most part, this is exactly what it sets out to be, fun entertainment the entire family will enjoy.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: LITTLE WOMEN (1994)

CAST

Winona Ryder (Black Swan)
Gabriel Byrne (Stigmata)
Trini Alvarado (The Frighteners)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On)
Claire Danes (Romeo + Juliet)
Christian Bale (Batman Begins)
Eric Stoltz (Caprica)
John Neville (Odyssey 5)
Mary Wickes (Sister Act)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Seires)
Donal Logue (Gotham)
Samantha Mathis (Broken Arrow)
Sarah Strange (White Noise)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)

The film focuses on the March sisters: beautiful Meg (Trini Alvarado), tempestuous Jo (Winona Ryder), tender Beth (Claire Danes), and romantic Amy (Kirsten Dunst), who are growing up in Concord, Massachusetts during and after the American Civil War. With their father away fighting in the war, the girls struggle with major and minor problems under the guidance of their strong-willed mother, affectionately called Marmee (Susan Sarandon). As a means of escaping some of their problems, the sisters revel in performing in romantic plays written by Jo in their attic theater.Living next door to the family is wealthy Mr. Laurence (John Neville), whose grandson Theodore, nicknamed “Laurie” (Christian Bale), moves in with him and becomes a close friend of the March family, particularly Jo. Mr. Laurence becomes a mentor for Beth, whose exquisite piano-playing reminds him of his deceased daughter, and Meg falls in love with Laurie’s tutor John Brooke (Eric Stoltz). Mr. March is wounded in the war and Marmee is called away to nurse him. While Marmee is away, Beth contracts scarlet fever from a neighbor’s infant. Awaiting Marmee’s return, Meg and Jo send Amy away to live in safety with their Aunt March. Prior to Beth’s illness, Jo had been Aunt March’s companion for several years, and while she was unhappy with her position she tolerated it in the hope her aunt one day would take her to Europe. When Beth’s condition worsens, Marmee is summoned home and nurses her to recovery just in time for Christmas. Mr. Laurence gives his daughter’s piano to Beth, Meg accepts John Brooke’s proposal and Mr. March surprises his family by returning home from the war.Four years pass; Meg and John marry, and Beth’s health is deteriorating steadily. Laurie graduates from college, proposes to Jo and asks her to go to London with him, but realizing she thinks of him more as a big brother than a romantic prospect, she refuses his offer. Jo later deals with the added disappointment that Aunt March has decided to take Amy, who is now sixteen (and now played by Samantha Mathis), with her to Europe instead of her. Crushed, Jo departs for New York City to pursue her dream of writing and experiencing life. There she meets Friedrich Bhaer (Gabriel Byrne), a German professor who challenges and stimulates her intellectually, introduces her to opera and philosophy, and encourages her to write better stories than the lurid Victorian melodramas she has penned so far.In Europe, Amy is reunited with Laurie. She is disappointed to find he has become dissolute and irresponsible and scolds him for pursuing her merely to become part of the March family. In return, he bitterly rebukes her for courting one of his wealthy college friends in order to marry into money. He leaves Amy a letter asking her to wait for him while he works in London for his grandfather and makes himself worthy of her. Jo is summoned home to see Beth, who finally dies of the lingering effects of scarlet fever that have plagued her for the past four years. Grieving for her sister, Jo retreats to the comfort of the attic and begins to write her life story. Upon its completion, she sends it to Professor Bhaer. Meanwhile, Meg gives birth to twins Demi and Daisy. A letter from Amy informs the family Aunt March is too ill to travel, so Amy must remain in Europe with her. In London, Laurie receives a letter from Jo in which she informs him of Beth’s death and mentions Amy is in Vevey, unable to come home. Laurie immediately travels to be at Amy’s side. They finally return to the March home as husband and wife, much to Jo’s surprise and eventual delight.Aunt March dies and she leaves Jo her house, which she decides to convert into a school. Professor Bhaer arrives with the printed galley proofs of her manuscript but when he mistakenly believes Jo has married Laurie he departs to catch a train to the West, where he is to become a teacher. Jo runs after him and explains the misunderstanding. When she begs him not to leave, he proposes marriage and she happily accepts.It’s a small scale masterpiece that will leave you in tears. The film is honest and true in it’s portrayal of human emotion. It went from being an adaptation of the book to it’s own story and portrayal of people and their lives. It’s beautiful aesthetically and dramatically, and a real gem of a film.

 

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 4

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kristin Minter (Home Alone)
Matthew Walker (Ginger Snaps Back)
Carsten Norgaard (The Three Musketeers)
Anna Hagan (Reindeer Games)
Laurie Holden (The Americans)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Robert Moloney (Power Rangers)
Gerard Plunkett (Travelers)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Liliana Komorowska (The Art of War)
Wolfgang Bodison (A Few Good Men)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity)
Callum Keith Rennie (Impulse)
Chilton Crane (Final Destination 2)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Travis MacDonald (In The Name of The King)
Venus Terzo (Beast Wars)
Rachel Hayward (Jake 2.0)
Yee Jee Tso (50/50)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Nicholas Campbell (Naked Lunch)
Myles Ferguson (Edgemont)
Lisa Howard (Rarth: Final Conflict)
Dave Ward (So Weird)
Peter Outerbridge (Saw VI)
Kevin McNulty (Stargate SG.1)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Veena Sood (Hope Island)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Molyl Parker (Lost In Space)
Suleka Mathew (Claws)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Peter Wingfield (Sanctuary)
Ann Turkel (Modesty Blaise)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)
Ron Halder (Stargate SG.1)
Ocean Hellman (Along Came A Spider)
Byron Chief-Moon (Twilight: Eclipse)
Benjamin Ratner (Wonder)
Carl Chase (Alien 3)
Michael J.Jackson (Coronation Street)
Ricco Ross (Aliens)
Peta Wilson (Superman Returns)
Jamie Harris (Carnival Row)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)
Crispin Bonham-Carter (Relic Hunter)
Simon Kunz (The Cave)
Dougray Scott (Batwoman)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Stacey Travis (Mystery Men)
Jeremy Brudenell (The House of Eliott)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Graham McTavish (The HObbit)
Jesse Joe Walsh (JCVD)
Peter Hudson (Hitman)

maxresdefaultThe goodness continues in 1995 for the fourth season of Highlander: The Series. In fact, the immortal angst just keeps getting better and better- and dare I say it- even great. Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) and his on again off again immortal love Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen) must face deadly rogue immortals and even a Dark Quickening while 5,000 year old Methos (Peter Wingfield) falls in love with a dying mortal woman. When the Watcher Tribunal investigates watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) for his friendship with Duncan and fellow immortal Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsch), Joe must fight for not just his status in the secret organization sworn to observe immortals but never interfere- but also for his very life. MV5BMTcyODg2Mjk1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODQ0NTEzMjE@._V1_Well, Highlander: The Series is now a class unto itself, complete with some seriously sweet opening credits. Everything you need to know about immortals, Duncan MacLeod, and the Watchers is swiftly tressed out in style with this introduction! At this point, Highlander: The Series is a completely separate entity from the inferior sequel films, even the sword sparring shot of theatrical Highlander Connor MacLeod is gone from the opening designs. Season 4’s opener “Homeland” rekindles Duncan’s Scottish roots in fine form, exploring not just immortals freely beyond the film series’ restraints but also filling in Duncan’s timeline with both new places from the past and contemporary individual dilemmas. Not oft touched subjects such as Vietnam are mixed with lovely immortal examinations on war, death, and revenge. Mental illness is debated in “The Innocent,” creativity and human genius versus immortality are questioned in “Timeless,” and immortals seeking fame compared to those who are best left forgetting their immortal transgressions are contrasted in “The Immortal Cimoli” and “Through a Glass, Darkly.” Highlander-TV-640x362Oh dear oh dear, Duncan MacLeod can certainly be a melancholy bloke, can’t he? His continued somber stance and high road in each weekly dilemma is a wonderful contrast to his dishing out periodic beheadings. Can he be both a warrior and loyal to moral oaths he has promised to himself and other immortals over the years? “Reluctant Heroes,” “The Wrath of Kali,” and “Chivalry” put Mac between the mortal rock and the immortal hard place again and again. Sure, there may be great action and battles when we meet an immortal villain of the week, but Highlander: The Series is more wonderful when it brings immortal friends together and puts MacLeod in the middle. Naturally then, it’s just great to see Mac go bad in “Something Wicked” and “Deliverance.” Not only can Paul- who also directed two episodes this season- be crazy cool, but it is so sweet to see Duncan knowingly struggle against doing wrongs he has fought against for centuries. Golly, Dark Duncan does a lot of using and abusing of any and all in his wake! Likewise, the restored MacLeod pains over being called to assassinate in “Promises.” Wow, immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be- who knew? highlander31Fortunately, MacLeod’s sexy run and gun lady foil Amanda adds some much needed cheerfulness and fun in “Double Eagle.” We even get to see a more tender and loving side to Elizabeth Gracen’s vixen in “Reunion,” where she bonds with Mac’s pregnant ex, Lisa Howard guesting as Dr. Anne Lindsay. “The Colonel” provides some great WWI action that comes back to haunt Mac- with Amanda being the one who saves the day for a change! By contrast, Peter Wingfield as Methos is wonderful as the angry and pesky advocate to MacLeod. Despite his often sidelined observant and pacifist stance, Methos is not afraid to do what Mac cannot for the good at hand- or even the personal if it suits him. He wouldn’t have gotten very far without being selfish would he? It’s never out right stated, but you have to wonder if Amanda and Methos have met before. “Methuselah’s Gift” may be one of the best non-MacLeod centric episodes of the series, and every time I watch it, it drives me insane that Wingfield and Gracen are not series regulars. Why can’t they be in the credits? These two appear in the same amount of episodes, if not more, than credited regulars Stan Kirsch and Jim Byrnes do. If all four were listed, it wouldn’t seem like such a disparity, but rather a rotation of supporting players. Yes, its stupid things like this that keep me up at night!7d63cd4f132b0f1812754e6a27dd5592And yes, Richie finally has something to do in “The Innocent” and “Leader of the Pack.” Even if it’s goodness at the time, he always ends up disappearing. Lisa Howard’s final appearance as Anne in “The Blitz,” tells us so much more than Richie’s sporadic appearances. If Kirsch is actually used like a guest star as needed, then why does he get to be in the ^&*(%#@ opening credits? Ahhh! Fortunately, Roger Daltry and Roland Gift also return for “Till Death” and “Double Jeopardy.” Even if there are 7 immortals in one episode, it seems no more than 4 or 5 are ever onscreen together- what’s up with that? Is that some sort of rule like Holy Ground that we don’t know about? This season I also feel like we don’t get enough of Joe Dawson- especially because what we do get teases us with the notion that there’s so much more to tell. “Brothers in Arms” wonderfully highlights how Dawson came to the Watchers while also giving closure for Philip Akin and his Charlie DeSalvo. Although they are almost clip shows recapping some of the immortal and watcher hijinks, the two-part finale “Judgment Day” and “One Minute to Midnight” recap the best parts of Highlander: The Series thus far. All those times you have questioned how Joe and MacLeod got away with all the death and secrecy have indeed come back to haunt them.highlander-the-seriesI’ve already commented previously that some of the Quickenings in Highlander: The Series seem a little orgasmic, to say the least. However, in this recent rewatching, I’m also seeing more homosexual innuendo and gay subtext than I used to notice. Bare butt shots and picking out wallpaper together? Some of the relationships implied here and in Season 5- both male and female- even the entire notion of men cutting off each other’s heads to take one’s essence, the swordfights themselves, each immortal having a teacher or mentor who shows them the ways of it all. Dear Lord, the way they hide on Holy Ground and become Priests with secrets! Maybe I’m just older and wiser on seeing such themes onscreen now, or perhaps it is bemusing for some to look for such tongue in cheek goodness. It isn’t so overt to ruin Highlander: The Series for those not interested in such topics, but audiences who enjoy the male bonding and non traditional relationships may find some frank discussion of true companionship- with immortal twists of course. For the series not to acknowledge the special life long relationships immortals can share would simply be unrealistic.239581Again, I must say those opening credits are sweet- capturing the essence of the show in proper 90s style. We simply don’t get fine introductions like this anymore! The period designs are again great, from the French Revolution to the Old West and World War II. The house that Mac rebuilds is also neat- even if the real estate prices and square footage given onscreen don’t quite match up! The leather jackets and trench coats still look cool and timeless compared to some of the more colorful and crazy fashions from some immortals. What were they thinking? The jazzy period music and Swing styles are also sweet as are new times and places like India. Even past places we are used to seeing look good, more than good, high end even. Fans who want to know all the behind the scenes ins and outs are again welcome to a smorgasbord of features. Almost every episode offers some or all of the following: an audio and/or video commentary, a 5 or 10 minute behind the scenes and/or retrospective interview with cast and crew, Watcher’s Chronicles, deleted scenes, bloopers- and there’s a CD with every script and the series call sheets. Simply put, if you are a fan of intelligent timeless action and adventure fantasy, there is no reason you shouldn’t love Highlander: The Series. We’re done Season 4 now, come on get with it before you loose your head!

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 1

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Alexandra Vandernoot (Pret-a-Porter)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare On Elm Street)

Adrian Paul and Alexandra Vandernoot in Highlander (1992)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lambert (Mortal Kombat)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Wendell Wright (The Howling)
Peter DeLuise (Stargate SG.1)
J.E. Freeman (Alien: Resurrection)
Tamsin Kelsey (The Commish)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
Dustin Nguyen (Legend Is Alive)
Soon-Tek Oh (Mulan)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Vincent Schiavelli (Ghost)
John Novak (War)
Victor A. Young (Nemesis Game)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Joan Jett (Light of Day)
Leslie Carlson (Videodrome)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Colleen Winton (Van Helsing)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Marc Singer (V)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Doug Abrahams (Sanctuary)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (Fifty Shades Freed)
Stephen Macht (Trancers 4)
Johannah Newmarch (When Calls The Heat)
John Tench (Watchmen)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Vanity (The Last Dragon)
Tim Reid (IT)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on A Plane)
J.G. Hertzler (Staragte SG.1)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Werner Stocker (The White Rose)
Peter Howitt (Defying Gravity)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Dee Dee Bridgewater (The Brother From Another Planet)
Fay Masterson (Eyes Wide Shut)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery
Martin Kemp (The Krays)
Nigel Terry (Excalibur)
Peter Guinness (Sleepy Hollow)
Anthony Head (Buffy: TVS)
Marion Cotillard (Inception)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Hudson (Lockout)

Alexandra Vandernoot in Highlander (1992)400-year-old Scottish Immortal Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) has spent the last twelve years living a quiet life with his mortal girlfriend, sculptor Tessa Noel (Alexandra Vandernoot). Unfortunately, when young punk Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsh) breaks into their antiques store, he stumbles upon another uninvited guest- Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), also an immortal Highlander. Connor insists Duncan return to The Gathering- an ongoing battle where immortals fight each other to the death by beheading their opponent to take their Quickening. Friendly immortals like the Parisian monk Darius (Werner Stocker) have no interest in the violence and remain on Holy Ground to avoid the evil, corrupt, insane, angry, and power hungry immortals Duncan must face. All this, however, is in addition to Duncan’s daily hiding of his secrets from pesky cops and nosey reporters like Randi MacFarland (Amanda Wyss).Adrian Paul and Soon-Tek Oh in Highlander (1992)I always find it tough to summarize the scenario that establishes the Highlander universe, even though it is a fairly simple fantasy once you get to know it. Longtime franchise producers Peter Davis and Bill Panzer and creative consultant David Abramowitz don’t have to waste much time in setting up The Series’ introductory mythology like most shows do thanks to its parent 1986 film, but that does not mean this First Season isn’t without its flaws. Highlander: The Series spends most of the 1992 debut here trying to adhere to the original film whilst also attempting to appeal to other compatriot shows of the time like Renegade. Sometimes, Duncan is an immortal who also just happens to get kidnapped, Tessa just happens to witness an immortal murder, Richie just happens to get caught up in some immortal romance or crime.Season 1 seems to meander between reopening its fantastical roots- which actually concluded at the end of the first film- and finding an audience with one off action plotlines and crazy guest star immortals. Toss in some ho-hum police investigations and one annoying journalist, and it feels like you have bits of every other nineties television program. It also seems like the filmmakers were light on material early on, for a slew of slow and dated musical montages about absolutely nothing also have not stood the test of time. Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)I’ve complained, yes- but the irony is, Highlander as a series and its Season 1 still work damn fine. So they had to iron out a few special effects and immortal explanations. Maybe there is an uneven mix of normal real world crime storylines and charming, even glorious, period piece flashback sequences. Yes, they have to mimic the first movie while trying to establish episodic material. Yet somehow, all this and more gets done in fun, entertaining, stylized television. A few of the guest immortals do seem a bit interchangeable and even hokey in their maniacal ways, but that’s part of the bemusement. The lovely counterbalance of the tragedies, consequences, and ill desires of living forever are well played along with the beauty and value of morality, artistry, and time for those who inevitably grow old and die. Highlander: The Series may have lured audiences in the door with promises of nineties cool and wicked swordfights, but its intelligent core of immortal drama, heart, and soul win out today.Adrian Paul and Vanity in Highlander (1992)Although Adrian Paul (Tracker, Relic Hunter) has some big sneakers to fill in following Christopher Lambert, he quickly makes Duncan MacLeod his own with the perfect mix of fearless fighter and moral convictions. Yes, part of his fighting skills, suave ponytail, and immortal sexual buffness is meant to be dreamy for the ladies. However, Mac’s kickass ruthlessness against those who do wrong-whether they be mortal or immortal- combined with his sensitive ways and 400 year old hang ups appeal to all. Paul wonderfully expresses the love, loss, humor, and intelligence as well as the anger, vengeance, and violence each episode as needed. There’s no doubt MacLeod is our hero- and yet he is usually the one handing out killing blows. It’s a complicated mix with plenty of fine drama- and Alexandra Vandernoot (The Five Obstructions) is the perfect compliment to Adrian Paul. Though she can seem kind of uppity and European pissy to start, once you come to know Tessa’s artistic heart and moral fulcrum you can’t help but enjoy her and Mac’s relationship. The two have wonderful chemistry, but then you throw in illicit immortal love with mortal women growing old and dying to that romantic design and it’s dynamite. Such juicy and angst still has plenty of relatable, powerful stuff that never fades, wow, almost 20 years on.Still of Adrian Paul and Amanda Wyss in Highlander and See No EvilStan Kirsh (Invincible) is in the precarious hot young thing role as Richie Ryan, but he also proves himself more likeable then annoying here in Season 1. Despite some of the stereotypically juvenile, young love, and crime storylines in which he finds himself, Richie’s fun place within Mac and Tessa’s lives does a lot of good. He is in a way, their kid- always needing to be bailed out or protected in the ways of the world or waxing philosophical from his humorous spot in the backseat. Even over the course of these 22 episodes, however, Richie also becomes a useful ally and sounding board for each of the leads when immortality or mortality gets in the way. Sadly, the ill-used Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street), doesn’t fair so well. Her brief and needlessly stuck in the opening credits reporter Randi is absolutely unrealistic as a journalist and completely annoying in her attempted antagonizing and snooping. Perhaps more could have been done with the character in time, but thankfully, the role was dropped in favor of some  policemen and detectives. Wendell Wright’s (Benson) Sgt. Powell, Tim Reid’s (Sister, Sister) Bennett and Hugues Leforestier as Inspector LeBrun come and go too much in Season 1, but any one of them could have been fine continuing foil for MacLeod. You do have to wonder how the authorities haven’t discovered all these beheaded bodies!Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)In addition to the lovely guest appearance by Lambert as Connor “same clan, different vintage” MacLeod in ‘The Gathering’, Season 1 offers an array of sweet guest stars. Critical immortals such as Elizabeth Gracen’s (later of the spinoff Highlander: The Raven) Amanda and Fine Young Cannibals’ singer Roland Gift as Xavier St. Cloud appear in ‘The Lady and the Tiger’ and ‘For Tomorrow We Die’ respectively. We don’t get to see the late Werner Stocker’s Darius as much as I would have liked, but he and Roger Daltry’s Hugh Fitzcairn are also wonderful pieces in Highlander: The Series’ repertoire, comparing the potential of pacifism for immortals to their apparent zest for women. As much as I love Joan Jett, her appearance as the first female immortal we see in ‘Free Fall’ is one of the woefully dated examples this season. Several other guest villains and street thugs of the week do seem a little the same- especially the maniacal and crazy, if no less understandable, immortals. Again, it’s tough to not have an over the top bad guy when it is your hero befrickingheading someone per episode. A few of the French supporting players also suffer; so many seemed poorly dubbed that you don’t wonder if it would have been better to just have some French dialogue. All in all however, the guests add debut credibility this season whilst laying the ground work for the series to establish itself beyond the films: the plots and players in the Season 1 finale ‘The Hunters’ directly lead to the events in Season 2 and beyond.Adrian Paul and Christian van Acker in Highlander (1992)Although the actors do their part, the designs of Season 1 could have used some…tweaking. The Quickening effects are definitely touch and go to start. Honestly, the lightning shows generally coming at the end of each episode waver from looking extremely painful and capable of powering a village to limp, sputtering light bulbs and quasi orgasmic shuddering. Women seriously seem to get the short end of the stick regarding Quickenings, and the fashions of the time have not been kind. Oh, the unflattering gaudy shoulder pads, pleated pants, and high-waisted jeans! Richie fairs no better, with some woefully colorful New Edition and Color Me Badd cast-offs. At least most of the immortal men seem to have classic, swanky style- except some of Duncan’s sweaters, vests, and colorful blazers are a miss. However, any men who can carry off such a variety of period fashion earn a plus in my book. The Leather jackets, cozy turtlenecks, tuxedos, and fedoras here are as timeless as the kilts, cavalier coats, French uniforms, and kimonos.Adrian Paul in Highlander (1992)While the MacLeod and Noel Antiques store, loft, and workshop design look just as good as the period production, it also seems a little too high end and unrealistic today. I know he is immortal and she is a sculptor, but real people could not live in such a pricey and overly designed museum. By contrast, Season 1’s opening Seacouver location seems obvious and bland- again looking like it’s a random warehouse back lot used by every other show made at the time. Thankfully, MacLeod’s barge on the Seine is just a little bit cooler. These French locations add a touch of Old World European class to Highlander. Even if I can’t quite figure the logistics of the barge, (How can one just park his boat on the Seine? What kind of codes and regulations are there for a refurbished ship? Where in the heck does Richie sleep if there’s one bed?!) it’s still a neat and unique set. Yes, Highlander: The Series’ location splits and prominence for French casting is thanks to French financing and production, but it also gives Season 1 a chance to correct its early flaws- including adjusting the opening credits and spending more time in our immortals’ pasts. Subtle connections to the original film are all that’s needed for Season 1 to find its footing- and those motifs largely come from the perfect use of Queen’s soundtrack. You can’t not love the ‘Princes of the Universe’ theme. Be honest, sometimes you just tune into Highlander just to hear the song! The somber ballad ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ also makes a few appearances- however; it’s the nonchalant use of the titular question by unknowing mere mortals that adds extra zing and panache.Fans of the Highlander franchise surely already know and love these DVDs back to front, but 21st Century newcomers will be pleasantly surprised by the exhaustive amount of features for the Season 1 set. The interface is cumbersome, I grant; but the Watcher Chronicles’ menus, additional scenes, bloopers, commentary options, full script CDs, and behind the scenes features are almost obsessive in shear amount, variety, and content. Almost every episode contains some form of extras- and more is included as the season sets progress. I can even forgive the lack of subtitles here, because someone obviously took his time in making Highlander: The Series as complete as possible on DVD. New fans, however, should be forewarned, as there are often spoilers for the entire series within the features. In fact, all the extras from the Complete Series DVDs are probably best left in a marathon viewing all their own. Adrian Paul and Martin Kemp in Highlander (1992)Highlander: The Series is best when it is about the trials of immortality- not the contemporary messes into which an immortal could get himself. Season 1 falters some when it tries for the latter, but there’s plenty of immortal angst and juicy action established here to enjoy. Longtime fans can delight anytime, and audiences looking for action, adventure, fantasy, and romance can certainly find it here. Some scenes and storylines might be too saucy or complicated for younger tween viewers, but a show that matures in its mythos and quality along with its audience while also staying young forever is tough to find. Yes, just think, Highlander: The Series only gets better from here. Start anew or travel back with Season 1 today.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING

CAST

Katharine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Emily Perkins (IT)
Nathaniel Arcand (Elektra)
JR Bourne (Stargate SG.1)
Hugh Dillon (Flashpoint)
Brendan Fletcher (New Movie)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series
Tom McCamus (Mutant X)

Each spring, a party from a fort travels to Hudson Bay to trade pelts for winter provisions, but, in 1815, nobody returns. Brigitte and Ginger are lost with their horse in the Canadian wilderness when they come across a seemingly abandoned camp. An elderly Indian woman, who warns them that they must kill a boy to prevent one sister from killing the other, gives them each a pendant. As their startled horse runs off, Brigitte’s foot is caught in a trap. Ginger seeks help, but the hunter frees Brigitte before she returns. He leads them to Fort Bailey, where they take refuge. Ginger says they are the daughters of a drowned trader and are seeking passage east.Werewolves have besieged the fort for some time. Murphy, the fort’s physician, inspects Brigitte’s wound and applies a leech, surreptitiously testing for werewolf infection. They are given a room that belonged to Wallace’s son Geoffrey. Awakened by a voice, Ginger investigates the corridors, where she eventually finds the source: a deformed boy kept in a small, bolted unlit room; he bites her shoulder as he flees. When Ginger and Brigitte attempt to leave, James confronts them. While Ginger and James are fighting, werewolves attack, killing one of the residents. Reverend Gilbert leads the sisters to an allegedly safe building, which actually contains a werewolf. The sisters run up the stairs, chased by the werewolf, but the hunter appears and kills it. As Ginger and Brigitte are going to their room Ginger’s nose starts to bleed; a sign that she is infected.The sisters discover the boy who bit Ginger is Wallace’s son, Geoffrey. As Ginger sleeps, he sneaks into the bedroom and wakes her. She tries to grab him, but he gets away, taking a lock of her hair; Geoffrey kills a man who investigates the noise and frames Ginger for his murder. James holds Brigitte captive as the others drag Ginger away. Wallace arrives, dismisses James, and makes a deal with Brigitte: her sister’s life in exchange for their silence regarding his son. Wallace and Brigitte find Ginger at the doctor’s, strapped to the examination table and held at gunpoint, about to be tested with a leech. When Wallace demands they release Ginger, Murphy ignores the order. Wallace shoots him dead, which prompts the other men to leave.Image result for ginger snaps back the beginningDetermined to kill Geoffrey, Ginger finds Geoffrey as he cries at his mother’s grave. He escapes and is captured instead by the men. Wallace arrives and kills his son himself. The sisters’ protection at an end, Ginger is forced to leave, and Brigitte goes with her. Desperate for a cure, the sisters go to the hunter’s cave, Ginger killing their guide shortly before they arrive. At the cave, the hunter and Indian seer woman reveal the sisters’ coming had long been prophesied and that the Red and the Black would decide the destiny of the werewolf bloodline. After Brigitte enters a trance-like state, she has a vision of her destiny: the hunter attempts to kill Ginger, and she kills her sister herself. As Brigitte emerges from the trance she finds the seer is dead, killed by Ginger, who has fled. The hunter leads Brigitte back to the fort. Back at the fort, Brigitte is taken prisoner. Gilbert tells her to beg forgiveness, but she spits in his face. Gilbert drags her out onto the parade square and prepares to burn her alive. Wallace interrupts him, runs Gilbert through with his sword, and sets him on fire. James engages Ginger in a fight, and she slashes his throat. As he falls to the ground, Ginger opens the gates and ushers in the werewolves. While the hunter holds his own against them, Wallace is soon bitten and sets the fort on fire before killing himself. The hunter urges Brigitte to kill her sister; instead, Brigitte kills the hunter and flees with her sister.4d1b9688cca4f22b1df4a13a3f2be0beThe film ends with only Ginger and Brigitte left alive huddled in the snow. When Brigitte says that she is cold, Ginger says that she is not. Brigitte then holds out her hand and presses a cut on it against a cut on Gingers hand mingling their blood and infecting Brigitte.MV5BYjFkNDY2NjEtNmM4Ni00MWQyLWFlMDktMjNjYmM3NjE4Nzc5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTc5MDI5NjE@._V1_Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning is a good film in its own right. The plot and characters are involving, the script is well written, the effects are not horrifc, the actors are great and the twist at the end makes the film. The other side to this film is that it lacks an extra dimension unless viewers watch Ginger Snaps and Ginger Snaps Unleashed. GSU is the better film of them all, but in order to love the films. a Great film, has now become a cult trilogy.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE BOY

CAST

Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead)
Rupert Evans (Hellboy)
James Russell (Forever)
Jim Norton (American History)
Diana Hardcastle (If Only)
Jett Klyne (Beyond)
Matthew Walker (Stargate SG.1)

Greta, a young woman from Montana, escapes an abusive relationship by getting a temporary job as a nanny for the British Heelshire family. Upon arrival in the United Kingdom and the Heelshire residence, Greta introduces herself to Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire before meeting the elderly couple’s young son, Brahms. To Greta’s surprise and amusement, Brahms is a porcelain doll, treated like a living child by his “parents”. The real Brahms perished in a fire back in 1991, at the age of eight. Mrs. Heelshire, referring to the porcelain doll, states that Brahms has met “many nannies”, all of whom were “rejected”. Before the Heelshires leave on holiday, they give Greta a list of rules to follow, warning her that Brahms is not a normal child.Initially, Greta follows a relatively normal routine, choosing to ignore the rules set in place for Brahms. She regularly calls her sister, Sandy, and befriends the Heelshires’ flirtatious grocery boy, Malcolm. Soon after Greta’s refusal to follow Brahms’ rules, strange things begin to happen—a child’s sobs are heard in the hallways, phone calls are cut off and Brahms seems to move on his own, vanishing before reappearing in other sections of the house. Greta finds herself locked in the attic by an unseen force and discovers pictures of the real Brahms playing with a little girl, his childhood friend, Emily. After she is served a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich outside her door, she begins to believe that Brahms’ spirit lives on in the doll. Meanwhile, the Heelshires are seen on a coastline writing a good-bye letter to Brahms and filling their pockets with rocks before committing suicide by drowning.After Greta demonstrates Brahms’ ability to move by himself, Malcolm begins to frequent the house. He informs Greta that the real Brahms was friends with a young girl about his age, who disappeared after a playdate with him in the forest. The girl’s body was later found with her skull crushed. Malcolm warns Greta not to stay in the house, but Greta, having previously suffered a miscarriage, feels obligated to care for Brahms and begins to follow his rules. One evening, Greta discovers her ex-boyfriend Cole playing snooker in the Heelshires’ home. He questions why she has the doll, and wishes to see the real boy. After establishing that there is not a boy, Malcolm arrives while the three of them eat dinner. Malcolm leaves the house but stays in his car in case anything bad happens. During dinner, Cole shows Greta plane tickets and is determined to bring her home, which she refuses to do, making him angry.Greta then goes upstairs to put Brahms in bed, and asks him for help. Later on, Cole becomes even more enraged by the appearance of a message written in blood, as he presumed that Greta wrote it to scare him away. Greta says the doll may have done it, which he does not believe. He then pushes Greta and tries to take the doll, and upon hearing the commotion, Malcolm enters the room and an argument breaks out. Cole then loses his temper and smashes the porcelain doll. Immediately after, the house begins to shake, and the lights flicker. Cole goes to investigate a mirror in the room, when suddenly the mirror smashes open and the real adult and very much alive Brahms crawls through the shattered mirror. It is revealed that he was living within the walls of the house the whole time.Brahms immediately attacks the group, trying to take Greta with him. Then, after overpowering the group, he kills Cole by stabbing him in the neck with a shard of the broken porcelain doll and then chases Greta and Malcolm throughout the house. They eventually escape to the attic where she discovers the room Brahms was living in, with a straw doll on a bed wearing her dress and jewelry, and embodying her image. Greta realizes that Brahms has been alive all along and was the one who was moving the porcelain doll throughout the house, stealing her possessions, and watching her every move. The Heelshires offered Greta (and the nannies before her) as a form of sacrifice to Brahms for “his keeping”. Soon, the chase resumes and they find a little opening that leads outside of the house. Brahms incapacitates Malcolm after hitting him with a bat twice, and Greta escapes through the opening. Brahms is yelling after her saying that he will kill Malcolm if Greta leaves. She immediately returns after realizing that she needs to save Malcolm.She returns, takes a screwdriver out of the cupboard and slips it into the back of her pants pocket. Greta confronts Brahms, telling him that she won’t leave. She then orders Brahms to go to bed, treating him as she would the doll (Brahms is still a feral child in this regard). After Greta tucks him into bed, he asks for a good night kiss, which she begrudgingly accepts. However, when he tries to pull Greta in and make out with her, she changes her mind and stabs him in the stomach with the screwdriver. Still alive, Brahms retaliates by throwing her against a wall and begins to strangle her. Greta then reaches down to the screwdriver (still stuck in his stomach) and twists it in deeper causing him to drop her and presumably die. Afterwards, she escapes, rescuing Malcolm and leaving the Heelshire estate gate open behind her. The film cuts to a scene of the open gate and then to a hand putting the porcelain doll back together, implying that Brahms is still alive. The film ends with a final glimpse of the repaired doll’s face.Definitely exceeded expectations! Started off as another Annabelle type of film but turned into something way more intriguing.

REVIEW: SANCTUARY – SEASON 1

Starring

Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Dunne (Space Milkshake)
Emilie Ullerup (Artic Air)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Kavan Smith (Stargate: Atlantis)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Ellie Harvie (Izombie)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Kirsten Robek (Critters: A New Binge)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
Peter Bryant (Leegnds of Tomorrow)
Peter Outerbridge (Saw VI)
Mackenzie Gray (man of Steel)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
James Kirk (She’s The Man)
Sarah Strange (Men In Trees)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Katharine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Jonathon Young (Impastor)
Gabrielle Rose (If I Stay)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Lynda Boyd (Power Rangers In Space)
Rukiya Bernard (Van Helsing)
Emily Tennant (Motive)
Rekha Sharma (Battlestar Galactica)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Christine Chatelain (The Collector)
Alex Diakun (Andromeda)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)

Sanctuary (2008)Being a big fan of Stargate SG-1 in general and Amanda Tapping in particular, I was quite excited to hear that the actress had signed up to play the lead in (and was executive producer of) a web-based series entitled Sanctuary. I had meant to download the 8 15-minute webisodes but with one thing and another, never got around to it. Based on the strength of those shorts, the series was picked up by the horribly named cable network Syfy, had a successful first season, and was renewed for a second (that is scheduled to begin in October.) E1 Entertainment has now released Sanctuary Season One on DVD in a nice four disc set that fans of SF should consider picking up, especially if you gave up on the series while it was airing after a few episodes.Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne) is a profiler for a local police force in an unnamed metropolitan city. Being very observant in a Monk-like way, he puts together clues that others often miss and follows them to their logical conclusions, even if those conclusions sound crazy. He was kicked out of the FBI for his hair-brained hypotheses, and is pretty much shunned by the policemen he works with for the same reason.Robin Dunne and Emilie Ullerup in Sanctuary (2008)While investigating the dead of a civilian and two police officers Zimmerman crosses paths with Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping). She runs the Sanctuary, a privately funded large gothic building in the middle of town that is host to, Will eventually discovers, a wide assortment of bizarre creatures called ‘abnormals’. Basically all of Zimmerman’s theories have been correct, there are odd being roaming the world in secret and Magnus’ group helps those that they can and hunts down the ones that are dangerous to humanity.Will signs up and joins the Sanctuary team that includes Magnus, who turns out to be much, much older than she looks, Helen’s kick-ass daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), tech geek Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins) and butler and extra muscle when needed Bigfoot (Christopher Heyerdahl). Searching the globe for abnormals the group discovers mermaids, ancient witches, a human-like race that can compact their bodies to squeeze through the smallest spaces, a vampire, people who can shoot heat rays from their eyes, and even the basis for Sherlock Holmes and the real Jack the Ripper (who just happens to be Magnus’ ex-lover.) Every great team needs a suitable enemy too, and Sanctuary has one in the form of the Cabal, a super-secret, well funded, organization that also investigates abnormal sightings, but they have sinister motive behind what they’re doing and consider the Sanctuary their sworn enemies.Christopher Heyerdahl in Sanctuary (2008)In the second half we’re introduced to Nikola Tesla who used to be a friend of Magnus’ way back when and who is a vampire. An intriguing character and easily my favorite in the show, viewers are never sure if he’s lying or telling the truth and whose side he’s really on. The show picks up for there, no longer being a ‘monster of the week’ program; it starts telling a larger story and is more careful how the plots unravel. The faux witty banter is toned down considerably and small incidental details actually make sense at this point. They also go back and correct some of their earlier mistakes such as Magnus’ education. In the first episode they stated that she attended Oxford in the mid 1800’s, a time when women weren’t allowed to enroll, but in episode 12 a character reveals that she only audited classes at that time, something that makes much more sense.The acting in the program is generally good with Amanda Tapping stealing the show. She’s playing a character similar to Dr. Samantha Carter, the person she portrayed on Stargate SG-1, but Tapping went out of her way to create a totally different personality for this new character. Physically she dyed her hair and she also sports a British accent (that sounds pretty good actually. She was born in England, I guess that helps more than a bit.) Magnus is also more careful than Dr. Carter and has a totally different demeanor. I was always enamored of Tapping’s role in SG-1 (she reminded a lot of my wife,) but while watching her here I never thought of her as “that gal from SG-1,” a testament to how well she did in crafting a new individual.