REVIEW: SPAWN

CAST

Michael Jai white (The Dark Knight)
John Leguizamo (Kick-Ass 2)
Martin Sheen (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Theresa Randle (Bad Boys)
Nicol Williamson (The Exorcist III)
D. B. Sweeney (After Sex)
Melinda Clarke (The Vampire Diaries)
Miko Hughes (Roswell)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)

Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) is a Force Reconniassance Marine Colonel and Black Ops operative. Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen), the head of the covert government agency for which Simmons works, assigns him to infiltrate a biochemical weapons plant in North Korea. Unknown to Simmons, Wynn has ordered his top assassin Jessica Priest (Melinda Clarke) to murder him while he is on the mission. After Simmons dies, he is set on fire by Wynn and the flames cause the plant to explode. Simmons arrives in Hell, where one of the rulers of Hell – Malebolgia (Frank Welker) – offers him a Faustian deal: if Simmons becomes his eternal servant and leader of his army in Armageddon, he will be able to return to Earth to see his fiancée, Wanda Blake. Simmons accepts the offer and returns to Earth.Upon his return, Simmons learns that five years have passed since his death. Wanda is now married to his best friend Terry Fitzgerald (D.B. Sweeney), who is living as the father to Al’s daughter Cyan. Soon Simmons encounters a clown-like demon named Violator (John Leguizamo), sent by Malebolgia, who acts as Simmons’s guide down the path to evil. He also meets a mysterious old man named Cogliostro (Nicol Williamson), a fellow Hellspawn, who has successfully freed his soul and now fights for Heaven. Simmons learns that Wynn, who is now a weapons dealer, has developed a biological weapon called Heat 16. During a reception, Spawn attacks Wynn, kills Jessica, and escapes with the help of his necroplasm armor.

FIm0Kzkj1P7aov_1_aFollowing the attack by Simmons, Violator convinces Wynn to have a device attached to his heart that will release Heat 16 worldwide if his vital signs flatline as a deterrent against assassination attempts. However, Malebolgia wants Simmons to kill Wynn and initiate the apocalypse. Spawn confronts Violator, who turns into his demonic form and beats Al down. Cogliostro rescues Al and teaches him how to use his necroplasm armor. Simmons learns that Violator and Wynn are going to kill Terry, Cyan, and Wanda.1305472950_1Terry sends an email incriminating Wynn to a fellow newsman. Just as the email is sent, Cyan and Wynn enter the room. Wynn destroys Terry’s computer and takes the family hostage. Spawn arrives and nearly kills Wynn, but Al extracts the device from Wynn’s body instead and destroys it. With his plan foiled, Violator sends Spawn and Cogliostro to Hell, where they both battle the demon before subduing him. Spawn is then confronted by Malebolgia, who tells Spawn that he will never lead Hell’s army. Spawn escapes with Cogliostro just before they are overwhelmed by Malebolgia’s forces. Violator, having recovered, follows them. A final battle ensues, ending with Spawn decapitating the demon with his chains. Violator’s head taunts the group and threatens his return before melting and returning to Hell. Wynn is arrested, and Spawn, realizing there is no place for him in Wanda’s world anymore, dedicates himself to justice rather than succumbing to his lust for vengeance.3696d4affd4b2e847380b40b0444a5deThe film teeters between being something that’s “so bad, it’s good” and being just a good film with some unfortunate flaws, but in either case, it’s still very enjoyable to watch. You just need to approach it not expecting a realist dramatic masterpiece, but rather with a love for the absurd.

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REVIEW: STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE – SEASON 1-4

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MAIN CAST

Scott Bakula (Chuck)
Jolene Blalock (Starship Troopers 3)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Dominic Keating (Heroes)
Linda Park (Jurassic Park 3)
Anthony Montgomery (Leprechaun In The Hood)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tommy Lister (The Dark Knight)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Jim Beaver (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Thomas Kopache (Catch me If You Can)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Henri Lubatti (Angel)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Jane Carr (Treasure Planet)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Keith Szarabjka (Angel)
Conor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Dennis Christopher (Angel)
John Rubinstein (Legends of Tomorrow)
Fionnula Flanagan (Yes Man)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Rudolf Martin (buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Keone Young (Alias)
Brad Greenquist (Heroes)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Sean Whalen (Twister)
J.G. Herztler (Roswell)
Larissa Laskin (Earth: Final Conflict)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Brigid Brannagh (Angel)
Keith Carradine (The Big Bang Theory)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Stephen Culp (Scream Queens)
Tucker Smallwood (Traffic)
Maury Sterling (The A-Team)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Emily Bergl (Carrie 2)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)
Erin Cummings (Spartacus)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Bruce Thomas (Army of Darkness)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Robert Foxworth (Beneath Loch Ness)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Hill)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)

Out of all the Star Trek series and films, Enterprise is easily the most overlooked, and was the only one since the original to be canceled. This isn’t because it wasn’t as good as the rest, but simply the way it was marketed. The show is in fact a prequel to Kirk’s Enterprise, and does take place before the Federation, but what the show lacks in technology, is more than made up for with realism and some of the best character development in the Star Trek franchise.

100 years after Zefren Cochrane’s warp flight, the human race has had enough of Vulcans holding them back, and have created the first warp five star ship in human history. Over the Vulcan’s objections, Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), the son of the engines designer, has been selected to Captain the ship and explore a galaxy that humans know very little about.
This show is extremely important to the franchise and all Trekkies, as it not only shows humanities first trip out of our solar system and first contact with all the races we’ve come to know over the years, but the show fills in a lot of the gaps from all the other series and films! Enterprise explores the origins of Data’s creator, the Eugenic Wars (which created Khan), the development of many protocols and much of the tech we see on future ships, but most important of all the series shows how the foundation for the Federation and the creation of star fleet all came together.
Enterprise was also unique for it’s character development and realism, in that it takes place in the not to distant future. We get to know the crew intimately, from their fears to their families, and we see them doing and discussing things never before seen in Star Trek. The Enterprise crew has a classic movie night, watches sports on TV, has pets, and they even talk about sex. The cast is lead by Scott Bakula, which was another great move by producers. Casting a veteran science fiction actor, whose been in long running series, automatically gives him that air of experience and authority that Picard had. He’s also a younger man, so with no federation policies in place yet, Archer can be just as much of a risk taker as Kirk was, even more so.
Star Trek Enterprise was extremely enjoyable, and a series people could relate to more than any other in the Star Trek franchise. The show isn’t simply about the future and the Federation, it’s about what it means to be human and how that compares to other species. It shows what we need to do in order to get along with and understand other cultures, but most of all it fills in so many holes from previous films and episodes, that it truly was the missing link.

Unfortunately for Star Trek fans, the show barely made a hundred episodes, because it was on a dying network, that folded shortly after the show was canceled, screwing us Trekkie’s out of three more seasons. As with all the previous series, the story has been continued in books, but in this case, the books were written by the main writers of the series, and do encompass everything that would have happened in seasons five, six, and seven.

REVIEW: THE ANIMATRIX

CAST (VOICES)

Hedy Burress (Valentine)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: TBATB)
Clayton Watson (Under The Radar)
Julia Fletcher (Dragon Slayer)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Pamela Adlon (King of The Hill)
Keanu Reeves (Speed)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Melinda Clarke (Gotham)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (The Super Hero Squad)
Tress Macneille (The SImpsons)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Down Under)

Directors Larry and Andy Wachowski have said in their few interviews that they are big fans of Japanese animation (or, “Anime”). Watching “The Matrix”, one can sense the influences from Anime style. Given the fact that the story of “The Matrix: Reloaded” was too big to tell in one nearly 150-minute movie, elements of the story are being told both in the video game “Enter the Matrix” and this set of animated features, the “Animatrix”.

Given their desire to expand the side and back-stories, the Wachowski brothers had several famed animation directors go to work on 9 short films that further enrich the “Matrix” tale. The first feature is the “Final Flight of the Osiris”, a fully CGI tale constructed by some of the same artists who were involved with “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”. However, as remarkable as “Final Fantasy” was, the animation technology seems to have improved even further, as the kind of detail present here is extraordinary.


“The Second Resistance: Parts I and II” are dark and fascinating shorts that are essential to the understanding of the “Matrix” story. Both stories cover how the machines developed under the eye of man and how they eventually rose up and defeated mankind. As with the rest of the shorts, the imagery throughout these stories is dark, haunting and remarkably imaginative. Sound designer Dane Davis (“The Matrix”, “The Matrix: Reloaded”) has a voice cameo. Directors Larry and Andy Wachowski were also responsible for the writing of these first three segments, which deal the closest with the stories of the two films.

Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves also offer voice cameos in “Kid’s Story”, a tale of a young student who finds out the truth, and must run from agents. “Program” features a samurai battle between a male and female warrior, who debate existence while waging a tense battle. “World Record”, a rather odd feature, involves a track star whose extraordinary talent and drive leads him to find out about the existence of the Matrix. “Beyond” focuses on a young woman who stumbles upon an abandoned building full of children with strange powers while she was searching for her lost cat. “A Detective Story” is a noir-ish piece that has an investigator trying to track down Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss. The piece has a fascinating black-and-white look. Finally, “Matriculated” has members of the human resistance attempting to reprogram a machine to fight on their side.

 

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 2

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Mike & Molly)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
James Frain (The Cape)
Jessica Lucas (Cult)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Michael Chikilis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Dustin Ybarra (Hop)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs)
Michelle Veintimilla (Limitless TV)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Michelle Gomez (Highlander: The Raven)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Tonya Pinkins (Enchanted)
Nathan Darrow (House of Cards)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)

The origin story continues on Gotham and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a shift of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. In season two, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, however, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver, but he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. At the same time, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).

In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of season one, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into season two, Gotham will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power.

Here in Season Two, there is far less dependence on self-contained episodes and more emphasis on the development of long running and serialised story arcs. In my opinion, this is better than Season One.
This remains a highly entertaining show.

REVIEW: CHUCK – SEASON 2

CAST

Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn)
Yvonne Strahovski (Batman: Bad Blood)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Joshua Gomez (Invasion)
Sarah Lancaster (Saved By The Bell: The New Class)
Ryan McPartlin (J. Edgar)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Halloween II)
Scott Krinsky (Transformers 3)
Vik Sahay (eXistenZ)
Julia Ling (Undoing)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Bonita Friedericy (Veronica Mars)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin City)
Matthew Bomer (Tru Calling)
Melinda Clarke (Gotham)
Nicole Richie (The Simple Life)
Tony Hale (Stranger Than Fiction)
Clyde Kusatsu (American Pie)
Jordana Brewster (D.E.B.S.)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Gary Cole (Crusade)
Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Andy Richter (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty)
Jenny McCarthy (Two and A Half Men)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Patricia Rae (Life)
Katrina Law (Arrow)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Chevy Chase (Christmas Vacation)
Christopher Cousins (The Vampire Diaries)
Ken Davitian (Borat)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Morgan Fairchild (Roswell)

Sarah Walker (Chuck)

For those of you who have not watched Chuck before, I would recommend that you check out Season 1. Although Season 2 is superior in my opinion, Season 1 really lays down all the groundwork for what is to come.
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For those of you who have see Season 1, you will not be disappointed by what the new season has to offer. In S1, Chuck was mainly the passive observer, the guy who flashed on things, and often made situations worse than before. However, at times he was given opportunity to save the day, in something I like to call a ‘Chuck Moment’. Season 1 had a few of them (setting off the fireworks to distract the guards to save Sarah and Casey would be one) but Season 2 is full of them – and better off for it. Now don’t get me wrong, Chuck can still be blundering and innapropriate, but in the new season, he always gets the opportunity to be the hero. The first episode has a particularly good example of this.
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The season starts off very strong, following on with the storyline that involves the governement trying to make a new intersect (and invariably the team have to go on missions to help furthur that cause). In fact, the majority of the season is brilliant television, apart from a few select episodes that are merely good, dotted around the season. The season has a much more coherent storyline, with a smallish story arc near the start, and a solid story arc that takes off around episode 13.
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The character’s pasts are delved into alot more in this season, with a great appearance from Sarah’s father, a conman. Chuck’s past gets more attention however, as the long talked of ex, Jill gets reinvolved in Chuck’s life. Best of all may be the casting of Scott Bacula as Chuck’s father, who does a great job of convincing the audience of his connection to both Chuck and Ellie. Unfortunately, Casey’s past does not get an episode that shows him in a new light, like the Ilsa episode, rather a fairly disappointing face-off between him and his old mentor.
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Morgan’s back, along with the rest of the buy-more crew, and a new face joins the buy-more – that of Emmet (played by Tony Hale, of Arrested Development fame) to provide more comic relief in that bizzare place.

A truly amazing series, with twists and turns abound, and an ending that will only leave you wanting more.

REVIEW: OUT FOR BLOOD

CAST
Don Wilson (Cyber Tracker)
Shari Shattuck (Scream of The Devil)
Michael Delano (Ocean’s Eleven)
Ken McLeod (Deadly Target)
Aki Akeong (The Cable Guy)
Beau Billingslea (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Robert Miano (Fast & Furious)
Addison Randall (Hollow Gate)
Pamela Dixon (CIA)
Melinda Clarke (Gotham)
Richard Rabago (VR Troopers)
Don “The Dragon” Wilson shows considerable rage as the elusive “Karateman,” a martial artist who eradicates the adulteration of society. Lawyer by day…vigilante by night, Karateman, known to most people as John Decker lived the American dream as a once proud family man. Until one night…Decker’s life was shattered as his wife and son were sadistically murdered in front of his white eyes by a gang of iniquitous drug dealers…

Only one problem…for Decker suffers from a partial case of amnesia. Lapses of the murders appear in flashback only so sporadically in Decker’s mind. Decker must find a way to chastise these drug dealers who are gradually taking over the city with their endless supply of merchandise. If Decker can’t punish the dealers through legal means in the courtroom…then he will teach them a life long lesson in the streets by beating the sense out of these crooks. John Decker/Karateman is spending time cleaning up the filthy streets just for the good of the community. This unexpected sweeping of the city streets by a one man force does not create adequate business for the criminal masterminds behind the distribution of drugs and cocaine throughout the city. They are not contended as this single arm of the law is nailing individual drug dealers one by one. Working in collusion with corrupt cops, the dealers gang together and concoct a formula for revenge which will maul Karateman’s reputation…

Decker shows no fear against a myriad of martial arts experts! However, can he overcome his battles against his personal demons of guilt and remorse? With aid from a wise elder (Aki Aleong) whose philosophies are quite shrewd, Decker is given tutelage as to choosing the right path towards inner clarity and peace. Decker also finds refuge with a love interest, Joanna (Shari Shattuck).
Out for Blood is a rather fine action flick. The martial arts choreography is a feast for the eyes as Wilson displays an array of awesome high kicks, blocks, and fast reflexes to trick the human mind. The rapid fire photography, cinematography, and editing are top notch and the battle sequences between Wilson and the villains are well captured on camera.

REVIEW: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES -SEASON 1-6

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MAIN CAST

Nina Dobrev (Never Cry Werewolf)
Paul Wesley (Killer Movie)
Ian Somerhalder (Pulse)
Steven R. McQueen (Piranha 3d)
Sara Canning (Primeval: New World)
Kat Graham (Honey 2)
Candice King (Juno)
Zach Roerig (Rings)
Kayla Ewell (Impact Point)
Michael Trevino (The Riches)
Matthew Davis (Cult)
Joseph Morgan (Hex)
Michael Malarkey (The Selection)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Chris William Martin (Dollhouse)
Benjamin Ayres (Saving Hope)
Chris J. Johnson (Betrayal)
Marguerite MacIntyre (Red Dragon)
Robert Pralgo (Fast & Furious 7)
Susan Walters (The Flash)
Jasmine Guy (Dead Like Me)
Arielle Kebbel (Ballers)
Bianca Lawson (Beauty and The Beast)
Mia Kirshner (30 Days of Night: Dark Days)
Malese Jow (The Flash)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Sean Faris (Never Back Down)
James Remar (The Shannara Chronicles)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
David Anders (Izombie)
Spencer Locke (Resident Evil: Afterlife)
Taylor Kinney (Zero Dark Thirty)
B.J. Britt (Agents of SHIELD)
Tiya Sircar (The Internship)
Maiara Walsh (The Starving Games)
Natashia Williams (Smiley Face)
Lauren Cohan (Chuck)
Trent Ford (Smallville)
Daniel Gillies (Young Hercules)
Dawn Olivieri (American Hustle)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Michaela McManus (Law & Order: SVU)
David Gallagher (Super 8)
Jack Coleman (Heroes)
Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Claire Holt (Mean Girls 2)
Anna Enger (Anchorman 2)
Alice Evans (Lost)
Torrey DeVitto (The Rite)
Robert Ri’chard (Veronica Mars)
Perisa White (Blood Dolls)
Nathaniel Buzolic (Out of The Blue)
Cassidy Freeman (Smallville)
Casper Zafer (Coffe Sex You)
Michael Reilly Burke (Mars Attacks)
Todd Williams (San Andreas)
Grace Phipps (Scream Queens)
Phoebe Tonkin (The Secret Circle)
David Alpay (Ararat)
Alyssa Diaz (Red Dawn)
Madeline Zima (Californication)
Rick Worthy (Collateral Damage)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Arrow)
Charles Michael Davis (Battle Scars)
Daniella Pineda (American Odyssey)
Leah Pipes (Fingerprints)
Callrd Harris (The Real St.Nick)
Eka Darvill (Spartacus)
Olga Fonda (Real Steel)
Hayley Kiyoko (Scooby-Doo 3 & 4)
Rick Cosnett (The Flash)
Janina Gavankar (The L Word)
Kendrick Sampson (Gracepoint)
Shaun Sipos (Texas Chainsaw 3d)
Caitlin McHugh (I Am Legdn)
Penelope Mitchell (Curve)
Chris Brochu (Soul Surfer)
Raffi Barsoumian (NCIS)
Colin Ferguson (Eureka)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Halloween: H20)
Emily Chang (Total Recall)
Gabrielle Walsh  (The Hive)
Marco James Marquez  (The CLient List)
Chris Wood (Supergirl)
Tristin Mays (The Wedding Ringer)
Annie Wersching (Bosch)
Christopher Cousins (Wicker Park)

 


There are vampires, and there are indeed diaries. One of these diaries is being kept by Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev). Elena’s been writing down her thoughts for quite some time now, but in these dark days, her diary is her only outlet for the way she really feels. She’s still reeling from the deaths of both of her parents just a few short months ago, and while she tries to present a smiling face to the world at large, she’s emotionally ravaged inside. Elena has been keeping almost everyone around her at arm’s length, dumping one of her oldest friends who she’d only recently started to date and tearing just about every last page out of her social calendar. She’s dead inside.

Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), meanwhile, is dead, period. He too keeps a journal, although having been alive…well, undead…for around 150 years, Stefan has had quite a bit more to write about than Elena. One of the first things Stefan did upon his return to his ancestral home of Mystic Falls, Virginia is re-enroll in high school. As an eternal 17 year old, he doesn’t run into any trouble looking the part. It certainly doesn’t hurt that as one of the few surviving vampires who doesn’t sizzle and smolder under the light of day, there’s little reason for anyone to suspect that Stefan is one of the undead. Stefan and Elena are inexorably drawn to one another, and the two of them are almost immediately established as a couple. Epic romance. Moony eyes. You know the drill.

Stefan can’t escape his blood. You can take that in the most literal sense: there’s the blood he must ingest in order to survive, although he’s long since sworn off feeding from humans, living instead off of small animals in the woods around his palatial family estate. This makes it easier to for Stefan to more seamlessly blend into mainstream society rather than feasting off it from the fringes, but it leaves him weaker than most other vampires as a result. It’s just not as potent as what’s coursing through our veins. There’s that sort of blood — the crimson, sticky kind — and then there’s the blood of his family. Stefan’s brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is also a creature of the night, and he long ago swore to make every last second of Stefan’s existence an eternal hell. Damon kills without hesitation…not only to feed, and not only to hide the existence of vampires from the world at large, but simply because he likes it. There’s more to Damon’s return to Mystic Falls than revenge, though. There’s a much greater — a much darker — motivation behind it all. At the same time, Mystic Falls isn’t being caught as unaware as Damon might like to think.

The Vampire Diaries finds its footing startlingly quickly. Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, for instance: as universally adored as those two series are, neither of them were really any good at all until the tail-end of their first seasons. Even with as strong as Supernatural quickly became in its first year, it got off to somewhat of a shaky start, and a fair number of the episodes from its first season are hit-or-miss. The Vampire Diaries, on the other hand, is just about perfect by the time the third episode rolls around. There really aren’t any weak episodes after that. There’s no filler dumped in just to pad out the rest of the season, and it doesn’t spin its wheels the way a lot of shows do when leading up to the big finale. It’s impressive enough that The Vampire Diaries hits such dizzying heights in its very first season, but to maintain that sort of consistency across virtually every episode…that’s exceptionally rare.


Admittedly, its pilot is kind of slow moving and sputters a bit, but the second episode is quite a bit stronger, and you’ll know from the end of “Friday Night Bites” if you’re in it for the long haul. Even with all of its genre underpinnings, at its core, The Vampire Diaries is a soap opera, complete with dead parents, drug abuse, adoption drama, alcoholism, and lots and lots of relationships. Don’t go in expecting it to be a Buffy clone or a Supernatural knockoff. The elements that make those series so brilliant are showcased here as well, but action, horror, and a snarky sense of humor don’t dominate. The great thing about The Vampire Diaries — and I write this from the perspective of someone who’s not the usual target demographic for this kind of show — is that the soapier elements are never overwhelming either. For instance, as the series opens, Elena’s younger brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) has turned to drugs in a failed attempt at trying to cope with the sudden deaths of his parents. In any other show, there’d be some sort of big, overwrought intervention…drenched in syrupy strings, a heartfelt monologue, and saucer-plate weepy eyes. That, or he’d bottom out in some sort of cartoonishly over-the-top way. Because The Vampire Diaries is so respectful to its characters and its audience, it doesn’t trot down either of those paths. People try to reach Jeremy and fail. He has to arrive at the decision to improve his lot in life himself, and he quickly does. Though Jeremy is certainly given a helpful nudge, his maturation is handled quietly and convincingly. The Vampire Diaries doesn’t have all that much interest in settling for the obvious, and it resists wringing out drama from the same plot points episode after episode.

Every episode has some sort of intensely action or horror driven sequence to unleash, and some sort of shock or surprise is always lurking around the next corner. I seriously found myself shouting at my TV — the good kind of shouting! — with the way The Vampire Diaries so deviously caught me off-guard over and over again. The twists are also well-thought-out and wholly earned, not just lazily yanking out the rug. Very few people here are safe, and characters I assumed would be a fixture for the entire run of the show are suddenly slaughtered after a few episodes. The cinematography can be impressively cinematic as well, and quite a few moments of “You’re Undead to Me” and “Haunted” in particular look as if they could’ve been culled from a big-budget Hollywood horror flick. Especially once the pilot has come and gone, the pace screams along at a very steady clip. There are never really any threads in the storyline that are left dangling for long. Plot points that look like they’d be dragged out over the course of the first season or two are instead revealed a third of the way through. Key moments that feel like they belong in the season finale swoop in closer to the halfway mark. I mean that as the highest compliment too. Nothing ever feels rushed or underplayed. It’s all presented quickly enough to keep The Vampire Diaries from stagnating but is still given enough time to have a meaningful impact…it’s a perfect balance. Also, every episode offers some sort of payoff to something established earlier, and there’s generally some kind of reveal as well. So much happens that part of me honestly wonders how they can keep up this manic pace in season two, although the writers have very much earned the benefit of the doubt after this exceptionally strong first outing. I’m having a hard time thinking of the last show I watched with cliffhangers this consistently addictive too. Especially now that it’s out on Blu-ray, The Vampire Diaries kind of demands to be devoured in marathon viewings.

The cast and characterization straight across the board are particularly great. There’s something magnetic about every last member of The Vampire Diaries’ ensemble, and no weak links leap out at me. There’s certainly an effort to keep them even-keeled. There’s something likeable or sympathetic about most everyone. Each character has some sort of glaring flaw as well, and that includes Elena and Stefan. Elena isn’t some sort of impossibly perfect Mary Sue character. She has her shortcomings, and her friends and family aren’t afraid to call her on them and take her down a peg either. In most any other show, everyone in the supporting cast would be boiled down to a three or four word description: “horny best friend” or “hyperaggressive jock”…that sort of thing. They’d be defined less by who they are and more by what the plot requires them to do that week. In The Vampire Diaries, just about everyone is infused with quite a bit more thought and dimension. This may not be at all apparent at first glance. Some of the folks who at first seem destined to be dead air are soon given some additional depth. Well, that, or they’re quickly mauled.

The body count this season is kinda stratospheric, and it doesn’t hurt that the werewolves hinted at last year have started snarling their way into the series. Season two is teeming with all sorts of unrepentant killers, and the standout early on is Katherine. Nina Dobrev pulls double duty as the wholesome, responsible Elena and as the centuries-old scheming murderess Katherine (several very different incarnations of her, actually), and she’s more than a little bit awesome in both roles. The series milks a few really great jolts from the uncertainty of who you’re looking at, exactly — if it’s Elena or if it’s Katherine playing dress-up — and Katherine’s sinister smirk after she’s had her fun never fails to make me cackle. Katherine also subscribes to the theory that people don’t amount to much more than Happy Meals on legs, and the swiftness, ferocity, and complete lack of remorse as she cripples and murders one random girl just to prove a point winds up being one of the season’s standout moments. I do have to admit that later in the season, The Vampire Diaries’ writers seem to run out of really compelling things for Katherine to do, and her appearances start to pack less and less of a wallop. There’s a point to it, exploring a facet of the character that she’d just as soon refuse to acknowledge even exists, but it does seem anticlimatic with as much of a sultry, destructive force of nature as Katherine is early on. The Vampire Diaries more than makes up for Katherine’s descent into shrugworthiness by introducing a couple of truly ancient vampires — Klaus and Elijah — who are charismatic, startlingly compelling, and also regal and adult…an appreciated change of pace from a show where the monsters are generally played by witty early-twentysomethings.

Ian Somerhalder still stands strong overall as the best thing about The Vampire Diaries, scoring all the snarkiest lines and clearly having a hell of a lot more fun than anyone else in front of the camera. Still, despite being so manipulative, exploitative, hot-tempered, and occasionally murderous, the show still finds a way to keep him completely likeable and sympathetic. Some of the shades of gray with Damon are erased this season, and he’s much more overtly a dependable hero-type. I chalk that up as character development, natch, and the fact that he frequently does seem to approach becoming the man Elena wants him to be makes his slips back into monster-dom that much more tragic.

The Vampire Diaries season 2  is just a hell of a lot of fun to watch, screaming ahead at a manic pace and never settling into any sort of comfortable routine. It’s shockingly well-acted, there’s hardly any filler or unnecessary distractions, and The Vampire Diaries probably gets the nod as the most infectious and consistently entertaining drama I’m watching these days. Even the soapier stuff and the over-the-top melodrama winds up being more engrossing than I ever would’ve thought possible.

 

he third season of The Vampire Diaries is about family…or, rather, trying to hold onto one. Elena’s is all but gone, limited to just her increasingly distant brother Jeremy. The two of them have a surrogate father in Alaric, but even he’s content to set up shop on the couch rather than settle into one of the house’s depressingly vacant rooms. A fractitious family at best seems as if it could collapse at any moment. Elena and Damon both are desperately hunting for Stefan. The previous season closed with Stefan unleashing the monster within, swearing allegiance to the millenium-old original vampire Klaus. ‘The Ripper’ has resurfaced. Though he obeys Klaus’ every command to murder and maim, Stefan isn’t some mindless, manipulated slave; he relishes in the kill.

 

In any other series, Stefan would be back to his righteous old self within two or three episodes, but…well, this is The Vampire Diaries. Things will never be the same again. Klaus has much of his true family within arm’s reach, though he prefers to keep the bulk of them skewered and subdued. His aim is to raise a new family, one that’s both more loyal and more like him: a hybrid of vampire and werewolf. The birthing of this army proves to be far more difficult than Klaus could ever have dreamt, and his torment grows that much greater when he finds the family tree of his birth to be more expansive and more vengeful than once believed. The dominance of family this season doesn’t stop there. Hell, we learn that the existence of vampires at all is predicated on the idea of protecting one’s own. No one in Mystic Falls escapes unscathed from all this, with the sorceress Bonnie, undead Caroline, and lycanthropic Tyler all struggling with parents who’ve either turned their backs on them or can’t accept their children for who they now are.

The Vampire Diaries does so much right, and approaching the top of that list is its disinterest in convention. Stefan and Elena form the core of the series in so many ways, and yet it’s quite a while before the two ever share the same frame this year. They’re kept physically apart for far more of the season than I would ever have thought possible, and even after that point, they’re hardly ‘together’. Stefan has changed profoundly. He may never return to the unwaveringly good guy he once was, and the journey back proves to be a whole hell of a lot more grueling As the third season of The Vampire Diaries came to a close, Elena died. This year follows her rebirth as a vampire, although if Stefan and Damon have their way, Elena will be re-reborn soon enough.You see, there’s a cure for vampirism, entombed for two thousand years with an immortal creature known only as Silas. Even with the crypt on the other end of the continent and before embarking on one epic quest after another to unlock it, they all start fantasizing about what they’ll do if they ever get their hands on the cure.

They could shove it down Klaus’ throat and at long last end his reign of terror, although who knows what kind of collateral damage would result from slaying an Original. Perhaps it’s the shot at redemption that Rebekah has been waiting for. Maybe it’s a chance for Stefan and Elena to enjoy a long but less than eternal life together as humans. It ought to go without saying that not everyone will be able to get what they want, especially since they’re not the only ones in search of the cure. Supernaturally-fueled vampire hunters have started to make their presence known for the first time in ages, and they aim to strip Silas of his immortality and end him once and for all. Anyone who gets in their way is expendable, and it kind of follows that Elena’s vampiric bodyguards don’t pose much of a threat to seasoned killers engineered to butcher the undead.

Season four is largely shaped by those three plot threads: Elena coming to grips with her vampirism, the search for the cure, and the resurrection of Silas. Most everything else that happens this year is fallout from one or more of the above. One of the people closest to Elena is saddled with the mantle of a Hunter, and the path to Silas’ tomb can only be unearthed by having him slaughter as many vampires as possible…a compulsion he’s all too eager to indulge. Cut off from the source of her mystical gifts, Bonnie begins to embrace darker magic. They imbue her with the power needed to unlock Silas’ tomb, but this raw, boundless energy may consume Bonnie before she’s given the opportunity.

Season 5 the doppelganger of Stefan or “shadow self” in the form of Silas certainly keeps things interesting. Silas is one of the more intense bad guys of the show and while Silas appears as if Stefan (as is performed by the same actor), the differences between characters is huge. The same can be said for the continuing story-line of the other double, the seemingly identical look-alike Katherine (who continues to look the same as Elena, but also is nothing like her). In Season 5, Katherine turns from a vampire to a human (as the sole recipient of the long-sought vampire cure), and things are complicated because of it. Seeing the way that actors Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley handle these scenes is part of the fun, and it’s an amazingly procifient example of the benefits of quality film editing to see the scenes where characters have interactions with one another as played by the same actor.

The production values of The Vampire Diaries are surprisingly strong for such a modest budget television production. The special effects are always minimally utilized so that when there are effects on the show they can count as something extra special. The efforts from the team that works on this show really impresses. The cinematography remains a constant things; always showcasing both the bright and dark elements of the storylines. The costumes fit with these performers well. The make-up department has their work cut out for them at times, and are capably bringing forth the supernatural elements to the show.

Considering relatively lower production costs compared to other network television series, it’s a very well produced creation that continues to impress with what the creator and producers have to work with.

In season six we get to find out what happened to Bonnie (Graham) and Damon (Somerhalder) after last season’s cliff-hanger, and what has become of the other side. There is also the introduction of a new coven of witches who have ties to some pre-existing characters. Last season’s new addition Enzo (Malarkey) also gets a much more beefed up role as well as back-story.

Amongst all of the new additions there are of course some exits, the most notable being that of leading lady. Audiences have spent the last six years investing in the life of Elena Gilbert, but now has come the time to say goodbye, and it isn’t easy. It’s not just Elena though as this year the show lost a total of four of its more long-standing cast members, and there isn’t going to be a dry eye in the house by the end of the season.

'The Vampire Diaries' Recap: Damon and Elena Return to 1994

What makes this box-set really special this season  is the extras. Thought has clearly been put into what to include, and it isn’t your standard deleted scenes and commentaries. Both of those elements are included, but the featurettes have been crafted with the true die-hard fans at the fore-front of their minds. Good Bit and Good Luck is an emotional documentary that gives the cast and crew a public forum to say goodbye to their co-stars. The second is a much more upbeat affair as the cast read out some of their favorite fan Twitter reactions to plot developments over the series. There’s never a dull moment in Mystic Falls and somehow, despite being over a hundred episodes old, the show manages to constantly reinvent itself and feel fresh. the cliffhanger leads into what is already starting to be an intriguing season 7.