REVIEW: THE ORDER – SEASON 1

Sarah Grey in The Order (2019)

Starring

Jake Manley (Heroes Reborn)
Sarah Grey (Power Rangers)
Sam Trammell (Imperium)
Matt Frewer (The BFG)
Max Martini (The Town)
Katharine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Devery Jacobs (Cardinal)
Louriza Tronco (Make It Pop)
Adam DiMarco (The Magicians)
Jedidiah Goodacre (The Originals)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Françoise Yip (Aliens vs Predator 2)

6a01348361f24a970c014e6088c71b970c-320wi

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jewel Staite (Firefly)
Ty Wood (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Aaron Hale (Miss Sloane)
Dylan Playfair (Descendants 2)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Emily Holmes (Snakes on a Plane)
Julia Benson (Stargate Universe)
Kayla Heller (Snowcoming)
Thomas Elms (Spiral)
Alex Diakun (Friday The 13th Part VIII)

a4763c55-70a8-4acf-a9c2-4b41593fd64d-screen-shot-2019-03-06-at-31130-pmNetflix shows like The Order have an advantage that series that release episodes a week apart don’t have. Potential audiences can give a new show a quick opening binge right away rather than only viewing the always tricky pilot to prove that it’s worthy of being added to their viewing schedule. The Order is definitely a supernatural show that stands alongside The Magicians or The Vampire Diaries, but the true twist to the witches versus werewolves premise doesn’t show up until third episode. College campus drama tropes bog down the first episode a bit, but the central conflict is wholly unique with plenty of humor and well-written dialogue to smooth out the rough edges.MV5BZjZmYjQ2ZTktY2NjOS00NTg5LWJlYWMtNDE5ZDhhNjg5ODYzXkEyXkFqcGdeQW1yb3NzZXI@._V1_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_On the one hand, The Order should be commended for not holding the viewer’s hand during key parts of the opening narrative. Jack Morton (Jake Manley of iZombie) and his grandfather (Matt Frewer of Orphan Black) clearly have some sort of ulterior motive for getting him into Belgrave University as a freshman, but the audience has to figure out why on its own, and the details that unfold go from simple to complex pretty quickly. On the other hand, the manner in which Jack is admitted and his almost immediate encounters with frat boys and townie-hating rich kids is meant to be accepted with a hand wave and does feel a bit rushed.the-order-netflix-season-2-4-1551991441704Given the hurry to establish the campus atmosphere, it’s remarkable how quickly chemistry forms between Jake and sophomore college tour guide Alyssa Drake (Sarah Grey of Legends of Tomorrow). Despite moments of overt flirtation on Jake’s part and even briefer flickers of mutual attraction, The Order is not in any rush to bring these two together or create any weird love triangles. A level of respect is built between them based on intelligence and an understanding that some of those around them, both magic users and regular students, are jerks with poor judgment.ty5y54yIt’s interesting that The Order pokes fun at ritualistic fraternity initiations immediately before bringing us into the pledge process for the titular Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose, which includes — you guessed it — the presentation of a magically appearing blue rose to the potential Neophytes. Even those established in the Order, such as college chancellor Vera Stone (Katharine Isabelle of The Arrangement) and the higher level students like Alyssa, indulge in the use of robes and masks, but somehow the secret society comes across as neither haughty nor ridiculous. It’s just Hogwarts or Brakebills with a dash of alumni politics, and it works.the-order-e1551988902714The question is how many viewers will stay tuned in long enough to realize that the initial conflict that’s presented in which Neophytes are supposedly being killed by werewolves is not nearly as Saturday B-movie as it may sound nor is it in fact a true representation of the nature of the animosity between witches and werewolves at all? Jake’s place in the Order may have a lot to do with the mission imposed upon him by Grandpa Pete, but by episode three, it becomes so much more than that. And again, the friendships that Jake makes along the way (some of which lie in direct opposition to each other) are a bit rushed, but the humor that comes from the Neophytes playing with magic way beyond their understanding or Jack’s R.A. (Adam DiMarco of The Magicians, oddly enough) trying to figure out what to do with his new resident is definitely worth overlooking the artificially acclerated bonding. Fellow Neophyte Gabrielle (Louriza Tronco of Spiral) is especially delightful and will quickly remind The Magicians fans of an early Margo, and she and Brandon (Aaron Hale of Pure) importantly add some much needed diversity to the lily white cast.the-order-season-1-on-netflix-ofSo ignore the loglines and stick around until The Order shows you what it’s really all about. With engaging characters and with several compelling paths set before its protagonist, this show has legs if it plays its cards right. Characters whom you assume are good might not be so honest, and those portrayed as evil aren’t necessarily so. Achieving that level of complexity so quickly is worth the sacrifice of a little exposition. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have seven more episodes to binge.

REVIEW: THE PURGE – SEASON 2

The Purge (2018)

Starring

Derek Luke (13 Reasons Why)
Max Martini (The Order)
Paola Núñez (Los inadaptados)
Joel Allen (Never Goin’ Back)

Derek Luke in The Purge (2018)

Recurring /. Notable Guest Cast

Rochelle Aytes (Criminal Minds)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Charlotte Schweiger (Rapid Eye Movement)
Jonathan Medina (The Laundromat)
Matt Shively (Paranormal Activity 4)
Chelle Ramos (The Gifted)
Jaren Mitchell (21 Jump Street)
Danika Yarosh (Heroes Reborn)
Denzel Whitaker (Black Panther)
Christine Dunford (Love & Basketball)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Jay Ali (Daredevil)
Rachel G. Whittle (Immortal P.I.)
Ethan Hawke (Predestination)

Max Martini in Everything Is Fine (2019)The first season of USA’s television extension of the popular (and probably eternal) The Purge franchise was little more than a rehash of the various films that had come before. The decision to stay in the franchise’s chosen lane of government-sanctioned anarchy and the annual madness that ensues during a 12-hour period makes sense; after all, the show’s producers likely wanted to avoid alienating their devoted fan base by venturing too far from what happy ticket-buyers had come to expect. That’s all set to change with season 2, however, as the series takes a much-needed turn away from the actual Purge, and finds itself with an intriguing premise that helps color a world obsessed with and largely run by its anticipation of each successive Purge.Joel Allen in Blindspots (2019)To do so, the series shifts its attention to the 364 days between Purges. That shouldn’t worry Purge fans, though, as the season premiere, ‘This is Not a Test,’ takes place in the waning hours of the most recent wave of anarchy, introducing a new crop of characters, notably (the always fantastic) Derek Luke as Marcus Moore, a doctor who finds his expensive anti-Purge security system circumvented by a masked intruder trying to kill him and his wife Michelle (Rochelle Aytes).Rachel G. Whittle in The Purge (2018)Like season 1, the story is sprawling, and tells a number of parallel, sometimes overlapping stories, only this time, it works to bring something new to the table. This time the series includes a couple of frat bros, Ben (Joel Allen) and his cowardly buddy played by Matt Shively, who make the mistake of venturing out on Purge night in order to go full Logan Paul and snag photos of people who’ve taken their own lives under a suicide bridge. At the same time the fraternity brothers’ excursion turns elaborately violent, when Ben falls into the trap of a Purger in a white mask with ‘God’ scrawled on the forehead, a group of high-tech thieves are robbing a bank, only to be caught unawares by a group of Jackals (i.e., thieves who steal from thieves on Purge night). The standoff between the two groups puts them all in a time crunch, as Purge rules state anyone still in the process of committing a crime when the bell sounds will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This puts team leader Ryan Grant (Max Martini) in a bind when his reckless teammate risks being in violation of the rules for some extra cash.Before the Sirens (2019)This time, The Purge also introduces Esme Carmona (Paola Nuñez), a security professional who monitors activity during and after the Purge, to seek out violators and keep those whose governmental rank is high enough to make it illegal for any harm to come to them during those chaotic 12 hours. At first, this seems like an extension of the franchise’s behind-the-scenes look at the confounding bureaucracy that helped create and implement something as ridiculous and disturbing as the Purge, but, like all the other storylines, it soon reveals itself to be fundamentally different than what’s come before. That is mostly due to the fact that these characters will soon be abiding by the laws that govern society during the other 364 days of the year, and will do so in the direct aftermath of the bedlam they’ve either witnessed, participated in, or were the victim of just hours earlier.Before the Sirens (2019)The shift effectively creates a brave new world for The Purge franchise, one where the writers are given a chance to more fully explore the consequences of that single 12-hour period, and to draw a more complete picture of a world that has effectively become addicted to the lawlessness of a single night. And by placing its narrative and characters in a society still mostly governed by laws that more closely resemble the world viewers recognize, the series must rewrite its own rule book. As it turns out, doing so results in a clever reinvention of the franchise, one that’s reinforced by some strong performances – particularly Luke’s, as Marcus discovers there’s more to his Purge nightmare than meets the eye.Still of Alexa Ketchum, Lacy Hartselle, Raquel Ascension in The PurgeSeason 2 seems particularly interested in examining how the Purge’s sanctioned violence and criminality only begets more violence and criminality. That might threaten to turn the series into Purge Preppers, were it not for examples of how the world has become increasingly unfazed by the Purge, and how the population have either become numbed to its violence and lawlessness (unless it impacts them directly) or, worse, are inspired to take to streets and participate. It’s a positive sign that, of the episodes made available to critics ahead of time, The Purge appears committed to using its time away from the Purge to more fully consider the world it has created.If nothing else, The Purge season 2 offers welcome new spin on the long-running franchise, one that has the potential to venture down avenues always hinted at but never explored. It may be overdue for a franchise that has largely stuck to a single successful formula (and who can blame them?), but better late than never.

 

REVIEW: DOOM PATROL – SEASON 1

Doom Patrol (2019)

Starirng

Diane Guerrero (Justice League vs The Fatal Five)
April Bowlby (Two and a Half Men)
Joivan Wade (the First Purge)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Matt Bomer (The Magnificent Seven)
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy)
Timothy Dalton (Flash Gordon)

Doom Patrol (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Julie McNiven (Mad Men)
Julian Richings (Man of Steel)
Kyle Clements (2 Guns)
Alan Heckner (The Mule)
Ashley Dougherty (Dynasty)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Alec Mapa (Ugly Betty)
Lilli Birdsell (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Mark Sheppard (Battlestar Galactica)
Ted Sutherland (Rise)
Will Kemp (Reign)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Jasmine Kaur (Ender’s Game)
Lesa Wilson (Stargirl)
Anna Lore (Doom Patrol)
Bethany Anne Lind (Flight)
Ethan McDowell (The Gifted)
Jon Briddell (Nightmare Tenant)
Tommy Snider (Baskets)
Max Martini (The Order)
Joan Van Ark (Knots Landing)
Pisay Pao (Z Nation)
Susan Williams (The Accountant)
Devan Long (Bosch)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Haley Strode (Gangster Squad)
Victoria Blade (Chicago Fire)

Penultimate Patrol (2019)When I watched the first episode of Doom Patrol, I was immediately excited by what I saw: a great-looking, well-written story about surprisingly human superhumans with powers that were more than power fantasies. With the finale in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look back and see if the show stuck to its ideas and made good on its promises.
In short, Doom Patrol is an incredibly special show – as a superhero/comic-book show, as a DC Universe show, and as just, you know, a dang TV show.April Bowlby and Joivan Wade in Doom Patrol (2019)At its roots, Doom Patrol is a show about people with disabilities. People with differences that separate them from “normal” people. They hide their disfigurements, struggle, and shame themselves. They stand out not as a matter of choice, but just by existing. And the show, the story, never loses sight of that. Through their adventures, the Patrol meets a sentient, teleporting, genderqueer street, a guy who gets special powers from eating beard hair (it’s gross), and a cockroach with a god complex. They get sucked into a donkey that farts words, end up inside a snowglobe with characters that would freak out the people who made Return to Oz, and break into a government facility that houses, among other things, carnivorous butts.Doom Patrol is a show that fully embraces its weirdness in a way very few shows manage. But throughout this, our characters continue to struggle and fight against the forces that work against them: a reality that wants to write their narratives for them, a government agency that wants to track, monitor, and use them because they don’t fit neatly into the idea of normalcy, and a few overprotective father figures with questionable ideas of what it means to protect their children or their charges.Diane Guerrero in Doom Patrol (2019)Together, the team validates each others’ struggles. Cliff immediately accepts Crazy Jane, and the eventual dive into her mind helps him understand that only she can put herself back together – and that it’s with the strength of her relationships that she can start to try to do it. Larry Trainor was a gay man living in mid-century America. When he was forcibly united with the Negative Spirit, the idea of hiding his real self from his loved ones became very literal, and the disfigurement he held for himself in his mind became real – and toxic. It wasn’t until he started to communicate with the spirit that he was able to find peace with his own truth. Cyborg, who I’ve previously described as a Justice-League-grade hero had to push his way out from under his helicopter-parent father to truly become himself and to find an even ground on which he could communicate with that father. The group went through therapy together, even if there was a rat inside Cliff’s head for it.Brendan Fraser, Diane Guerrero, and Riley Shanahan in Doom Patrol (2019)And while these characters were working through their collective and individual traumas, we got an incredibly good-looking show with stellar character designs and great visual effects. The arc that took the characters to Nurnheim stands out as an especially good-looking part of the show with some wild monsters for the characters to fight off, making them look like a superhero team for the first time.Riley Shanahan in Doom Patrol (2019)And few shows are so compassionate toward their characters. No show is perfect, especially when handling as many sensitive issues – disability, mental and physical trauma, sexual assault, hate, internalized ableism, just to start the list – but I don’t know if I’ve seen any show do it with such aplomb. This is a show about people with very real barriers to living normal lives, not super-geniuses who can take off their power armor, and it lets us into all of their struggles and loves them through it. With reports that suggest the show will see a second season, I can only cross my fingers and hope we’ll see more of these incredible characters.

REVIEW: REDBELT

CAST

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange)
Tim Allen (Last Man Standing)
Alice Braga (I Am Legend)
Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (The Walking Dead)
Randy Couture (The Scorpian King 2)
Caroline Correa (Go Big)
Ricky Jay (Mystery Men)
Joe Mantegna (The Rat Pack)
Max Martini (The Town)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing)
Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)

While closing his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio one evening, martial arts teacher Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is approached by attorney Laura Black (Emily Mortimer), who is seeking the owner of the vehicle she accidentally sideswiped. Off-duty police officer Joe Collins (Max Martini), who was receiving a private lesson from Mike, sees that Laura is distressed and tries to take her coat. Startled, Laura grabs Joe’s gun and it goes off, shattering the studio’s front window. To avoid having Laura charged with attempted murder, Mike and Joe agree to conceal the event.Mike’s insurance, however, will not cover his act of God claim that the window was broken by a strong wind. Mike’s wife Sondra (Alice Braga), whose fashion business profits are the only thing keeping the struggling studio afloat, requests that Mike ask for a loan from her brother Ricardo (John Machado), a mixed martial arts champion. At Ricardo’s nightclub, Mike meets with Sondra’s other brother, Bruno (Rodrigo Santoro), and learns that Joe quit as the club’s bouncer because Bruno never paid him. Mike confronts Bruno about the situation but is rebuffed. Mike then declines Bruno’s offer to fight on the undercard of an upcoming match between Ricardo and Japanese legend Morisaki (Enson Inoue), which could potentially pay out $50,000. Mike believes competitions with money as the incentive are not honorable and weaken the fighter.Meanwhile, aging Hollywood action star Chet Frank (Tim Allen) enters the nightclub without security and is accosted by a man with a broken bottle. Mike intervenes and subdues three men in the process. The following day, Mike receives an expensive watch and an invitation to dinner from Chet. Mike gives the watch to Joe to pawn in lieu of his unpaid salary at the nightclub. At the dinner party, Chet’s wife Zena (Rebecca Pidgeon) arranges an informal business deal to buy a large amount of dresses from Sondra’s company. Chet, impressed by Mike, invites him to the set of his current film. As Mike and Sondra leave the dinner, Mike explains his unique training method to Chet’s business associate Jerry Weiss (Joe Mantegna). Before a sparring match, each fighter must draw one of three marbles, two white and one black; whoever draws a black marble has to fight with a handicap.Mike uses his military experience to answer a few technical questions for Chet on the film set and is offered the role of co-producer. That evening, Mike faxes the details of his training methods to Jerry so they can be used in the film. Joe arrives at the studio and informs Mike that he was suspended from duty for pawning the watch, which turned out to be stolen. During their dinner that evening, Mike relays the information to Jerry who excuses himself to handle the matter, but never returns. At home, Mike learns that the phone numbers that Zena gave Sondra have been disconnected. Sondra is panicky, having borrowed $30,000 from a loan shark to order the fabric for the dresses. As he meets with the loan shark to discuss an extension, Mike notices Bruno and Marty Brown (Ricky Jay) on television using Mike’s marble-drawing method as a promotional gimmick for the undercard fights of Ricardo’s match.Mike hires Laura to sue, but Marty’s lawyer threatens that if they do not drop the lawsuit, he will give the police an empty shell casing with Laura’s fingerprints, as proof that she attempted to kill an off-duty cop. He also threatens Mike as a witness who covered up the crime by bribing the cop with a stolen watch. When told of the situation, Joe feels responsible and kills himself. Mike feels obligated to help Joe’s financially struggling wife and, in desperate need of money himself, decides to compete as an undercard fighter in the upcoming competition. At the arena, Mike discovers the fights are being fixed via a magician (Cyril Takayama) using sleight of hand to surreptitiously switch the white and black marbles. Disgusted by this revelation, Mike confronts the conspirators: Marty, Jerry and Bruno who confirm that unknown to the competitors, the fights are handicapped by the fight promoters so as to ensure winning bets. They also reveal that Ricardo is intentionally losing the fight to Morisaki so they can make money on the rematch. Jerry tells Mike that Sondra is the one who told them about Laura shooting the window and Bruno justifies her betrayal by explaining that his sister is too smart to stay with someone who cannot provide for her.As Mike is exiting the arena, he meets Laura. Their conversation is not audible, but it ends with Laura slapping Mike. Mike then re-enters the arena. He incapacitates several security guards trying to stop him and is ultimately engaged by Ricardo. The audience and camera crews take notice as Mike and Ricardo face off in the arena’s corridors. Inspired by the Professor (Dan Inosanto), an elderly martial arts master attending the match, Mike manages to slip a difficult choke hold and defeats Ricardo, making it onto the ring to speak to the Professor personally. He is approached by Morisaki, who offers Mike his ivory-studded belt, previously referred to as a Japanese national treasure, as a sign of respect. He is then approached by the Professor himself, who proceeds to award the coveted red belt to an incredulous Mike, and embraces him, acknowledging his dedication to the art.Red Belt doesn’t fail at being an action flick; it just succeeds more so at being an entertaining drama with an MMA theme. This is an easy movie to recommend.

 

 

REVIEW: SPECTRAL

CAST

James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3)
Stephen Root (Dodgeball)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The real Girl)
Max Martini (The Town)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Clayne Crawford (Lethal Weapon TV)
Cory Hardrict (Battle: Los Angeles)
Louis Ozawa Changchien (Predators)
Jimmy Akingbola (Anansi)
Ursula Parker (Cold Comes The Night)

DARPA researcher Dr. Mark Clyne is flown to Moldova, where the US military is currently deployed in the ongoing Moldovan War, as his expertise is required regarding a line of hyperspectral imaging goggles of his design that have been issued to troops there. After arriving at a US Military Air Base on the outskirts of Chișinău, he meets with General Orland and CIA officer Fran Madison. He is shown footage captured by the troops’ goggles of a mysterious, translucent, humanoid apparition that kills almost instantly. Knowing it is not interference, Orland wants Clyne’s expert opinion before forwarding the findings and footage to his superiors. Conversely, Madison believes the sightings to be members of the insurgency wearing an advanced form of active camouflage and has orders from her superiors to retrieve a sample.To get a clearer shot of the anomalies and identify them, both Clyne and Madison are sent into the field with a team of Delta Force operators, who are being sent to find Utah team, who went missing the day before. To capture a better image of the apparitions, Clyne mounts a large version of the hyper spectral camera onto one of the armoured personnel carriers. Upon arriving at the location and discovering all of Utah team has been killed, they are ambushed by the apparitions, who, being impervious to small arms fire and explosives, inflict heavy casualties before the soldiers retreat. When their vehicles are rendered inoperable by landmines, the group takes cover in an abandoned factory, where they find two children barricaded. The apparitions attempt to follow them but are stopped by a barrier of iron shavings. The children share that their father scattered the shavings to protect his children before he was killed. The survivors make contact with the air base and a rendezvous is set up. Clyne modifies the hyper spectral camera, turning it into a large searchlight, which enables the group to see the apparitions without the need for goggles. Later, he supplies the unit with IEDs laced with iron shavings. Fortified with these new weapons, the group sets out for the rendezvous point, about a half-mile away from the factory.After exiting the factory, the group is chased by apparitions, who are slowed but not destroyed by the iron explosives. The group is met by reinforcements and a helicopter evac at a large abandoned plaza. However, they are ambushed by the apparitions and are barely able to escape as the figures proceed to destroy the tanks and kill the soldiers sent as backup. In the air, they receive word from Orland the apparitions have overrun the Air Base, so they are redirected to a civilian bunker controlled by the allied Moldovan military. Clyne theorises the apparitions are likely man-made and are made of Bose-Einstein condensate, which explains their ability to move through walls, freeze people to death, and why they are halted by iron shavings and ceramic materials (hence their inability to enter tanks). Working overnight with Orland and surviving military engineers, he constructs several makeshift pulse weapons capable of breaking down the condensate. The next morning, the remaining American soldiers are armed with the weapons and sent to a power plant in the center of the city, as Clyne believes it is the only facility capable of generating the power needed to create the condensate.While the soldiers mount an offensive on the roof of the plant, Clyne and Madison discover a recently abandoned laboratory inside. They deduce that scientists, working in weapons research for the former regime, were scanning humans on a molecular level and utilising advanced 3D printing to replicate them in condensate form. The human test subjects’ brains and central nervous systems were then removed and hooked up to a central machine which keeps the condensate copies (or “apparitions”) alive. Before the apparitions emerge victorious in their battle with the soldiers, Clyne activates a failsafe system, which deactivates the condensate apparitions. Believing that whatever level of consciousness remaining is in pain, he unplugs the human remains from the machine, finally giving them peace.With the apparitions gone, the US and Allied Moldovan military work to continue to take control of the city from the insurgents, and a Department of Defense extraction team is to be sent back to the plant with the Delta Force operators to take the machinery apart and potentially utilise it for their own purposes. Saying goodbye to Madison and General Orland, Clyne boards an aircraft to be taken back home to Virginia.MV5BNjkyNDUyMzktNjRmZS00ZTE5LTkzM2UtMTFiNzY2YjFmYzJmL2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTk5MjkzMjU@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,737_AL_The pace of the film is perfect and there’s never a reason to lose interest, especially as our cast delve deeper into the mystery of what’s going on and how to deal with it. The tension themes were similar to Darkest Hour & FF:SW insofar as you never quite knew where the threats were going to come from at any given time, despite the countermeasures in place. Some people have compared the story with those two titles pre-release, and after watching you can see how it could be inspired by them, but only as much as other themes in cinema inspire each other; the story itself is very original. If you like your action with an original story and extremely well- polished, then you’ll probably enjoy this.

REVIEW: COLOMBIANA

CAST

Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Beyond)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
Cliff Curtis (Jubilee)
Michael Vartan (Alias)
Jesse Borrego (Con Air)
Ofelia Medina (Apolinar)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Callum Blue (Smallville)
Jordi Mollà (Segunda Piel)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Sam Douglas (Eyes Wide Shut)
Billy Slaughter (The Campaign)
Max Martini (Pacific Rim)
In 1992, in Bogota, Colombia, a drug lord’s assassin named Fabio Restrepo (Jesse Borrego) tells his boss, Don Luis Sandoval (Beto Benites), that he wants to leave crime behind. Even though Restrepo gives Don Luis a group of computer disks that he claims contains information about Don Luis’ business, Don Luis is incensed that Restrepo thinks he can leave. Don Luis sends his henchman Marco (Jordi Mollà) and a group of killers to kill Restrepo and his family. Fabio gives his nine-year-old daughter Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) a SmartMedia[i] computer memory card with the information Don Luis wants and tells her it’s her “passport”; he also gives her the address of her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis), a criminal in Chicago, who will take care of her. The last thing he gives her is something that he says will keep her safe: his mother’s cattleya orchid necklace. After saying their goodbyes, Fabio and his wife Alicia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) leave to battle Marco and his men but both are gunned down as Cataleya watches. Marco tries to manipulate her into giving the information, but when he asks what she wants, she stabs him in the hand with a knife and replies “To kill Don Luis”, and escapes. She makes it to the U.S. Embassy and gives the information in exchange for a passport and passage to the United States. She escapes from the airport through a bathroom window and takes a bus to Chicago. Once she finds Emilio, Cataleya asks him to train her as a killer.

Fifteen years later, a 24-year-old Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) has become an accomplished assassin. Her uncle serves as her broker, providing her with contracts. She is assigned to kill the notorious gangster Genarro Rizzo (Affif Ben Badra), who is currently in police custody. Implementing an elaborate plan, she gets herself arrested while dressed in a disguise. She manages to escape from her cell with tools she hid in her disguise, travel through the ventilation system, kill Rizzo, and return to her cell. The next morning she is released. As with her previous murders, she leaves her signature, the Cattleya flower, which is a message to her ultimate target, Don Luis. After learning about this Colombian orchid, FBI Special Agent James Ross (Lennie James) can now link this case to more than twenty other cases. As a last resort, the FBI decides to inform the public about Cataleya’s calling card. Don Luis, who is currently in a witness protection program overseen by CIA Agent Steve Richard (Callum Blue), realizes that Fabio’s daughter is in the U.S. and orders Marco (whose hand still hurts) and his operatives to find her.
Emilio is furious when he learns Cataleya has been killing with a “signature” since she has thereby put her relatives in grave danger. Cataleya’s newest target is William “Willy” Woogard (Sam Douglas), a millionaire who fled to the Caribbean with $50 million from his Ponzi scheme. She sneaks into his house and shoots him, and he falls inside his shark tank, where the sharks maul him to death. Under the name “Jennifer”, Cataleya later visits her lover, Danny Delaney (Michael Vartan), and spends the night with him. Danny snaps a picture of her while she sleeps. That morning she meets with her uncle, Emilio, who furiously tells her that eight people were slaughtered in Miami, one of them being his friend. Emilio then retires his niece from her work.

Danny shows her picture to his friend Ryan, but when Danny leaves to stop his car from being ticketed, Ryan forwards the photo to his sister-in-law, a police clerk, to find out who she is. Now in the police computers, the photo is recognized by the body/morph recognition software as that of the woman who was in the same prison as Genarro Rizzo the night he was killed. Detective Ross is notified, and the FBI quickly trace her location and they are supported by a SWAT team as they leave for her apartment. After Cataleya says goodbye, she goes home, but gets a call from Danny, who confesses that he took a picture of her. Upon seeing the SWAT team enter the apartment, she manages to escape through the garage and goes to Emilio’s home, only to discover that Mama, Pepe (Angel Garnica), and Emilio have been tortured and killed by Don Luis’s men, leaving her devastated.

Cataleya ambushes FBI detective Ross in his home in order to find out where Don Luis is. She threatens to kill Ross’s family members one by one if he doesn’t try harder to help her. Fearing for the safety of his family, Ross meets with CIA agent Steve Richard, who is unhelpful at first, but after Cataleya fires a warning shot through his “bulletproof” office window with a large-calibre sniper rifle, Richard gives up Don Luis’s current location. Cataleya then goes to a Louisiana land surveyor and threatens him for the floor plans of Don Luis’ mansion. Cataleya assaults Don Luis’s premises with heavy weaponry and wipes out all the guards, then confronts Marco and, after a violent hand-to-hand battle, stabs him in the neck. Don Luis escapes in a van, but is stopped by a garbage truck. Cataleya calls him on Marco’s cell phone, but Don Luis laughs and says that he will kill her and she will never find him because he is never where Cataleya wants him to be. Cataleya responds that he is exactly where she wants him to be. Pepe’s two attack dogs are right behind Luis’ seat and on her command they violently maul Luis to death. Danny is interrogated by the FBI, but when Ross leaves, Danny gets a cellphone call from Cataleya, who gives him her real name, and he tells her he loves her. Ross’ technical team alerts him that Danny is on the phone, but Ross realizes that Danny cannot be charged with any crime, so he is released. Cataleya boards an interstate bus headed for an unknown destination.I approached this film apprehensively, especially considering the clichés which abound in most revenge type films. Fortunately, the film is a masterpiece and Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) brings a vulnerability that we can all relate to, as well as awesome badassery. There is plenty of action, but it is done tastefully and always propels the story further. In terms of romance, there is a sweet storyline where we come to understand who Cataleya is as a woman. It is done tastefully and avoids the cringe factor. Family is also a major theme, and this is where the emotional roller-coaster stems from. Put simply, Colombiana is a fantastic film which you’ll be happy to watch over again. Give it a chance and you might just be surprised.

REVIEW: TAIL LIGHTS FADE

 

CAST

Denise Richards (Starship Troopers)
Jaimz Woolvett (Helter Skelter)
Breckin Meyer (Road Trip)
Jake Busey (Enemy of The State)
Elizabeth Berkley (Showgirls)
Tanya Allen (Silent Hill)
Tyler Labine (Reaper0
Lisa Marie (Sleepy Hollow)
Jason Mewes (Dogma)
Max Martini (The Order)

Image result for TAIL LIGHTS FADETail Lights Fade is one of those smaller movies that somehow manages to attract a cast full of fairly big name talent. It’s a pretty decent comedy and offers some good performances from Breckin Meyer, Denise Richards and a few others. In addition, the “executive advisor” on the picture was none other than Kevin Smith, director of “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy”.

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Tail Lights Fade starts off with Angie(Tanya Allen) finding out that her drug dealing brother has been busted on drug charges. She convinces her boyfriend to join her in a race across Canada to get her brother out of trouble. Joining them on the journey is another couple(played by Richards and Jake Busey, who seem to be having more fun than anyone else in the picture). The two decide to liven things up by racing each other to their final destination.Image result for TAIL LIGHTS FADE
The movie is a little too talky at times and that would be fine if the dialogue was a little sharper, though. It’s also a little tiring to listen to all of the arguing(especially Meyer and Allen). Still, there are some good moments and the performances liven up the otherwise limited material. I think this film went straight to video and actually, that’s how I’d recommend it as cheap flick for a Saturday night.

REVIEW: HIROKIN: THE LAST SAMURAI

CAST

Wes Bentley (The Hunger games)
Jessica Szohr (Ted 2)
Angus Macfadyen (Chuck)
Laura Ramsey (She’s The Man)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Mercedes Manning (Zipper)
Rodney Charles (Tears of The Sun)
Max Martini (The Purge TV)

On a distant planet the human overlords are slowly wiping out the indigenous species known as Arids in order to take the planet’s raw materials. If it sounds like “Avatar”, wait. Griffin (Julian Sands) is the evil human viceroy over the planet which he runs like the Roman Empire.  Moss (Angus Macfadyen )is a rebel that Griffin is hunting and wants to kill. Through a series of events a human named Hirokin (Wes Bentley) winds up in Moss’ s camp. Moss knows the old “Way” which is like an oriental earth religion, plus martial arts. He instructs Hirokin in “The Way” so he can unite the tribes and defeat the humans. “The Way” also allows one to see the outcome of their decision before it happens.

The humans have great advances like hover crafts, but fight with swords and spears. It is difficult to tell humans from Arids except by the lines on their hands. They can interbreed, but unfortunately the genocide has caused most of the Arid women to become barren.

To add to the mix there are some woman/breeding/jealousy issues between Griffin, Hirokin, Griffin’s barren girlfriend Orange(Jessica Szohr) Hirokin’s fertile wife Terra (Mercedes Manning) and Moss’s daughter Maren (Laura Ramsey).

Its a nice slice of B-movie sci-fi hokum that will please some fans of the genre

REVIEW: FLASHPOINT: THE COMPLETE SERIES

MAIN CAST

Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Hugh Dillon (Ginger Snaps Back)
Amy Jo Johnson (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
David Paetkau (Final Destination 2)
Sergio Di Zio (Reign)
Michael Cram (Arrow)
Mark Taylor (Cinderella Man)
Ruth Marshall (Casino Jack)
Olunike Adeliyi (John Q)
Clé Bennett (Harvard Man)
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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Gabriel Hogan (Condor)
Philip Akin (Highlander: The Series)
Lisa Marcos (Rogue)
Arnold Pinnock (Cypher)
Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold)
Andrew Gillies (Mutant X)
Mpho Koaho (Saw III)
Jeff Seymour (Bury The Lead)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Peter Stebbings (Bates Motel)
Christopher Russell (Van Helsing)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Colm Feore (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Michael Mando (Better Call Saul)
Noah Jenkins (Earth: Final Conflict)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Tyler Stentiford (The Story of Luke)
Janaya Stephens (Death Race)
Jessica Steen (Chaos)
Peter MacNeill (Open Range)
Aaron Abrams (Hannibal)
Ona Grauer (V)
Tattiawna Jones (Robocop)
Kari Matchett (Wonderfalls)
Peter Outerbridge (Beauty and The Beast)
Genelle Williams (Bitten)
Kevin Jubinville (MIss Sloane)
Ryan Kennedy (Caprica)
Melanie Scrofano (Ready or Not)
Henry Czerny (Supergirl)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
Chandra West (White Noise)
Kenneth Mitchell (Odyssey 5)
Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest)
Shauna MacDonald (Saw VI)
Calum Worthy (Americal Vandal)
Alexia Fast (Jack Reacher)
Kathleen Munroe (Patriot)
Sherry Miller (The Virgin Suicides)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Douglas Smith (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters)
Brian Markinson (Caprica)
Tamara Gorski (Angel)
David Calderisi (Earth: Final Conflict)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Greg Bryk (Bitten)
Laara Sadiq (Arrow)
Noah Danby (Riddick)
Landon Liboiron (Hemlock Grove)
Kathleen Robertson (Bates Motel)
Alan Van Sprang (Star Trek: Discovery)
Gina Holden (The Butterfly Effect 2)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Brendan Fletcher (Freddy vs Jason)
Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Krista Bridges (Heroes Reborn)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Brendan Penny (The A-Team)
Tyler Johnston (The Odds)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Lyndie Greenwood (Sleepy Hollow)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Jonathan Scarfe (Van Helsing)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)
Jeffrey Parazzo (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)
Erin Karpluk (Ripper 2)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Gifted)
Yannick Bisson (Year By The Sea)
Kate Hewlett (Stargate: Atlantis)
Chris Violette (Power Rangers SPD)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Rachel Blanchard (Carrie 2)
Natalie Brown (Saw V)
Richard Chevolleau (Hannibal)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Rachel Skarsten (Reign)
Max Martini (The Order)
Eve Harlow (Heroes Reborn)
Rob Stewart (Painkiler Jane)
Cynthia Preston (Carrie)
Sonya Salomaa (The Collector)
Benjamin Ratner (Travelers)
Joe Dinicol (Arrow)
Lawrence Dane (Scanners)
Tammy Isbell (Bitten)
Ari Cohen (Smallville)
Cristina Rosato (Mother)
Patrick Garrow (16 Blocks)
JR Bourne (Stargate SG.1)
Anthony Lemke (Robocop: Prime Detectives)
Rossif Sutherland (Reign)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Benjamin Ayres (The Vampire Diaries)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
David Alpay (Man of The Year)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Sandrine Holt (House of Cards)
Ty Olsson (War For The POTA)
Shawn Doyle (Don’t Say A Word)
Katharine Isabelle (The Order)
Jonathan Keltz (Reign)
Keram Malicki-Sánchez (Punisher: Warzone)
Kris Lemche (Final Destination 3)
Maria del Mar (Blue Murder)
Chad Donella (Shattered Glass)
Maurice Dean Wint (Cube)
Charlie Carrick (Reign)
Brennan Elliott (Curse of Chucky)
Dion Johnstone (The Core)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Mark Lutz (Bitch Slap)
Roark Critchlow (V)
Paul Popowich (Dark Angel)
Andrew W. Walker (Sabrina: TTW)
John Ralston (Bitten)
Michelle Nolden (Red)
David Richmond-Peck (She’s The Man)
Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl)
A.J. Buckley (Walking Tall 2)

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The show is based on a real life Toronto police unit similar to SWAT but with their own integral negotiators. This is a brilliant set up because every episode can go either way with a brutal violent conclusion or the culprit talked down peacefully. The issues are dealt with in a mature and considered fashion which rather excellently means that the person with the gun is not always the baddy.

FLASHPOINT The team is rather more imaginatively put together than in most similar shows. The team leader (Enrico Colantoni) is the cuddly negotiator whilst two bullet headed middle-aged men (Hugh Dillon and Michael Cram) are his subordinates. They have similar but different home lives and chat through raising teenagers on the way to work. A black junior policeman (Mark Taylor) and an Italian junior policeman (Sergio di Zio) have minor roles but occasionally get their moment in the limelight and both rise to the challenge when they do. David Paetkau plays the ex-special forces sniper who has transfered in. His difficulties integrating and changing his focus from killing to resolving the situation are well handled and his dark back story is mercifully not as overblown as it easily could be. The last team member is Amy Jo Johnson (the only american on the cast) who is the beautiful woman who has to struggle to maintain her position on the team.FLASHPOINT Each show starts with a quick introduction to a perilous situation and then winds back a few hours to see how the problem started. We then build up to the point where police must start making life and death decisions. There are a few running storylines throughout the shot, but most episodes can be seen as standalone.The Show lasted five seasons and does bring us to a satisfied finale, only season one is available on DVD in the UK but many imports can be found on various sites.