HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: CABIN FEVER 2

CAST

Rider Strong (Pulse 3)
Noah Segan (Looper)
Alexi Wasser (Choose)
Rusty Kelley (Dear Pillow)
Marc Senter (Starry Eyes)
Giuseppe Andrews (Two Guys and a Girl)
Michael Bowen (Kill Bill)
Judah Friedlander (The Wrestler)
Lindsey Axelsson (The Killing Jar)

ojqv78Sometime after the events of the previous film, a very disfigured Paul (Rider Strong) escapes from the creek and wanders through the woods, leaving pieces of his own flesh along the way. When he finally manages to make it to the highway, he is splattered and killed by a school bus. His remains are checked by Deputy Winston Olsen (Giuseppe Andrews), the local policeman from the previous film. Winston assures the shocked bus driver that he had hit a moose. The creek Paul was lying in turns out to be connected to a bottled-water company and the infected water was distributed to the local high school.  John (Noah Segan), a senior at the high school, is deciding whether to go to prom with his long-time crush Cassie (Alexi Wasser) or stay home. His friend Alex (Rusty Kelley) is against going until he hooks up with a girl named Liz (Regan Deal). She says if she can get off work that night, she will meet him there.  John asks Cassie to go to prom but she refuses. Meanwhile, Winston is at a restaurant where a worker from the bottled-water company dies from the infection. He then realizes the creek got heavily contaminated and goes to the water plant to tell the officials that the water is contaminated. The worker he informs is quickly killed by a group of CCD (Contamination Control Division) soldiers in NBC suits. Winston leaves before they can get to him.
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At the high school the infection begins to spread slowly. Frederica (Amanda Jelks) dies in the swimming pool from the infection and Rick (Thomas Blake, Jr.) is killed when he drowns after hitting his head on the side of the pool and falling in. Alex is disappointed that Liz did not come, while John gets into a fight with Cassie’s boyfriend Marc (Marc Senter). Principal Sinclair (Michael Bowen) then kicks John out. Cassie follows him and John angrily confesses his love to her. CCD then forces John and Cassie back into the school. The CCD locks all of the main exits from the school and kill Principal Sinclair when he demands to know what is going on. The infection then begins to kill the students in the gym at an alarming rate. The gym is then gassed from the outside. Cassie, John, and Alex watch in horror as all the students are killed. Winston is picked up by his cousin Herman (Mark Borchardt), ready to leave town.

Alex discovers he is infected and that the disease is incurable necrotizing fasciitis. The only way to stop the infection is to amputate the infected limb. However, Alex’s infection is already too severe and he stays behind. John begins to show signs of the infection too and lets Cassie amputate his hand to stop it. Cassie’s boyfriend Marc then comes out of nowhere, hits Cassie with a hammer, and tries to kill John but Cassie recovers and kills him with a nail gun. The two leave the school only to be ambushed by the CCD. John stalls them, allowing Cassie to escape. She finds herself on the highway and stops Herman’s van. Winston and Herman take Cassie with them. The camera shows her back where she is starting to show signs of infection.
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Meanwhile, Alex’s date Liz is at her workplace. She is a stripper at Teazers and she spreads the infection to the customers, who in turn spread it further around the country and even to Mexico. Liz arrives home later that night, sick, and goes to bed, thinking “I should’ve fucking gone to prom.” After the credits, Dane and Darryl are shown watching television and Dane says “Prom blows.”Cabin Fever 2 is definitely worth the watch. It has one of the best opening sequences in b-movie history, and you can tell by the cinematography that Ti West not only knows his stuff, but has a deep love for the genre. I wish they would have given him creative freedom, as I feel this would become a cult classic, but as it stands, we’re left with a competent, gory, fun romp at the prom, with a bloodbath that makes “Carrie” look like Babe.

REVIEW: LOST – SEASON 3

Starring

Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Matthew Fox (Alex Cross)
Josh Holloway (Colony)
Elizabeth Mitchell (V)
Henry Ian Cusick (Hitman)
Dominic Monaghan (Flashforward)
Naveen Andrews (The Brave One)
Michael Emerson (Arrow)
Jorge Garcia (How I Met Your Mother)
Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent)
Yunjin Kim (Shiri)
Terry O’Quinn (The Rocketeer)
Emilie de Ravin (Operation: Endgame)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Kiele Sanchez (A Perfect Getaway)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad)

Josh Holloway in Lost (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Julie Adams (Code Red)
Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)
M.C. Gainey (Breakdown)
William Mapother (The Mentalist)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
John Terry (Full Metal Jacket)
Michael Bowen (Kill Bill)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Chris Mulkey (Whiplash)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Kim Dickens (Gone Girl)
Bill Duke (Black Lightning)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Gods & Heroes)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
François Chau (The Tick)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Fredric Lehne (Men In BLack)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heores)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Robin Weigert (Jessica Jones)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)
Shishir Kurup (Coneheads)
Fionnula Flanagan (The Others)
Bai Ling (The Crow)
Diana Scarwid (Wonderland)
Cheech Marin (Coco)
Kimberley Joseph (Hercules: TLJ)
Sung Hi Lee (The Girl Next Door)
April Grace (A.I.)
Shaun Toub (Iron Man)
Gabrielle Fitzpatrick (MMPR: The Movie)
Kevin Tighe (My Bloody Valentine)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Patrick J. Adams (Legends of Tomorrow)
Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars)
Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination)
Beth Broderick (Sabrina: TTW)
Andrew Connolly (Heroes)
Marsha Thomason (White Collar)
Jon Gries (Welcome To The Jungle)
Doug Hutchison (Punisher: War Zone)
Samantha Mathis (American Psycho)
Carrie Preston (True Blood)
Sterling Beaumon (The Killing)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
L. Scott Caldwell (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Andrea Gabriel (2 Broke Girls)
Neil Hopkins (The Net 2.0)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Lana Parrilla (Once Upon A Time)
Malcolm David Kelley (Detroit)
James Lesure (Las Vegas)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Mira Furlan (Babylon 5)

This season is easily broken down into two separate parts; the first six episodes that aired before an eight week hiatus and then the rest of the season. Even though the first six are considered part of the third season, they feel much more like a prologue. Very little time is spent with the survivors on the beach and the main focus of the story is Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and Sawyer’s (Josh Holloway) imprisonment by the Others.Evangeline Lilly in Lost (2004)The second half of the season also featured some of the show’s best episodes to date. Including the brilliantly told “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, which is an interesting twist on Lost’s flashback scenario. Other episodes like “The Man from Tallahassee” and “The Brig” answered long asked questions while “The Man Behind the Curtain” and “One of Us” gave us a much needed back-story on both Ben (Michael Emerson) and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell).Really, the only weak point of the final sixteen-episode run would be “Stranger in a Strange Land”, an episode that primarily focused on the origins and meaning of Jack’s tattoo. We still don’t really understand the significance and we’re not too sure if the writers do either as they never bring up the subject again for the rest of the season.Terry O'Quinn in Lost (2004)Even “Expos¿”, an episode that featured fan-hated Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) and Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro), told an interesting “Twilight Zone” style story and we couldn’t be happier with the conclusion.If you were to suggest that the theme for season one was man vs. the unknown and that season two’s was man vs. machine it would be fair to suggest that the theme for season three is man vs. man, as the main crux of the season deals with the survivors of Flight 815 dealing with the Others. There is a constant power struggle between the two groups and the narrative frequently shifts back and forth from the Others camp to the survivor’s beach. Intertwined throughout, are personal struggles for several of the characters in both camps and we realize as the story pushes forward that even though they are enemies, their survival appears to be dependant on each other.At the core of this struggle is Benjamin Linus, and it would be a sin not to mention Michael Emerson’s fantastic performance as the enigmatic leader of the Others. He never once falters in portraying a creepy and unnerving nemesis for the survivors of Flight 815 and in particular, John Locke.Evangeline Lilly in Lost (2004)Terry O’Quinn puts in an equally inspired performance and every time these two appeared on screen together, you knew something special was about to happen. Everything culminates in what can be described as one of the best season finales in recent memory. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof deliver a brilliantly told story that is full of emotion, suspense and action.

REVIEW: LOST – SEASON 2

Starring

Matthew Fox (Alex Cross)
Terry O’Quinn (The Rocketeer)
Jorge Garcia (How I Met Your Mother)
Josh Holloway (Colony)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and The Furious)
Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent)
Yunjin Kim (Shiri)
Naveen Andrews (The Brave One)
Dominic Monaghan (Flashforward)
Cynthia Watros (Finding Carter)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad)
Emilie de Ravin (Operation: Endgame)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine)
Maggie Grace (Taken)
Malcolm David Kelley (Deriot)

Matthew Fox in Lost (2004)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Henry Ian Cusick (Hitman)
John Terry (Full Metal Jacket)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Anson Mount (Star Trek: Discovery)
Tamara Taylor (Bones)
Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13)
Kevin Tighe (My Bloody Valentine)
Katey Sagal (Futurama)
François Chau (The Tick)
L. Scott Caldwell (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
Marguerite Moreau (Wet Hot American Summer)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Kimberley Joseph (Hercules: TLJ)
Brittany Perrineau (Felon)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries)
Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)
Rachel Ticotin (Total Recall)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Rick Overton (Willow)
Fredric Lehne (Men In Black)
Beth Broderick (Sabrina: TTW)
Lindsey Ginter (Argo)
Adetokumboh M’Cormack (Gods & Heroes)
M.C. Gainey (Breakdown)
Neil Hopkins (D-Sides)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Kim Dickens (Gone Girl)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Mira Furlan (Babylon 5)
Michael Emerson (Arrow)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
William Mapother (THe Mentalist)
Tania Raymonde (Texas Chainsaw)
Andrea Gabriel (2 Broke Girls)
Evan Handler (Californication)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Wayne Pygram (Farscape)
Gabrielle Fitzpatrick (MMPR: The Movie)
Nick Jameson (Frozen)
Oliver Muirhead (The Social Network)
Michael Bowen (Kill Bill)
April Grace (A.I.)
Alan Dale (Ugly Betty)
Sonya Walger (Flashforward)

Daniel Dae Kim, Josh Holloway, and Harold Perrineau in Lost (2004)

Attempting to build on the strength of Season One, Lost Season Two introduces several new characters and a new mysterious group to keep viewers enthralled. The introduction of the tail section characters does serve a purpose early in the season as it reinforces the Others as formidable villains. While the survivors on the beach have had it relatively easy, the tailies experience 48 days of hell in which their numbers shrink to a handful. Beyond that, Libby slides into a cute love story with Hurley while Ana Lucia stands around and takes up space until she is shot to death by Michael. Neither contributes a substantial amount to the season or the series besides being canon fodder for Michael.Harold Perrineau in Lost (2004)As for Mr. Eko, he does have a couple of good flashback episodes but it also feels like the writers are never quite sure what to do with him. At some points he’s a passive observer to events unfolding and the later he actively gets involved in the pressing of the button. Those last few episodes in which he finds himself destined to push the button almost seem as if the were a scramble to give the character something substantial to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Eko but I feel as if his character was completely mismanaged from the outside.Only Bernard, who really doesn’t do much himself, feels like a relevant addition from the tail section as he ties up the loose end regarding Rose’s husband.Daniel Dae Kim and Josh Holloway in Lost (2004)Their reunion alone makes his introduction worth the effort. The best new addition to the Lost cast is the person we see the least throughout the season – Desmond David Hume. His appearance in the first couple of episodes of the season were used solely to introduce the concept of the button but his flashback and story in the two hour finale presented an intriguing new character. He’s a hopeless romantic on a quest to regain his honor and reunite with his true love. Desmond’s story is leaps and bounds more exciting than the rest of the new cast.Locke’s journey this season doesn’t really start to get interesting until the introduction of Henry Gale. For the first half of the season we get to see Locke at his most confident. He’s finally opened his hatch and discovered a bevy of new treasures inside to support his claims that the island and his connection to it are part of some much larger destiny. However, Gale’s arrival brings with it seeds of doubt as John’s world begins to fall apart. This culminates in the discovery of the Pearl Station and Locke’s complete loss of faith in the button and the island. It’s a good journey that has a great conclusion in the finale.Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros in Lost (2004)I really enjoyed Sawyer’s return to form midway through this season. Sure it didn’t make much sense for Sawyer to turn the entire camp against him in “The Long Con” but it was one of my favorite story lines of the season. His return to a nastier, less fan-friendly Sawyer was short lived however as he fairly quickly crept back into the good graces of the rest of the group.Michael’s battle to get Walt back from the Others had him depart midway through the season but his return in the final few episodes of the season were thoroughly entertaining. His murder of Ana Lucia and Libby gave way to an interesting game of deception as Michael is forced to convince the survivors that Henry was behind their deaths. His absolutely disgust in himself for taking a life mixed with the continued desperation he has to reunite with his son makes for some of the best character moments of the entire season. Harold Parrineau does a fantastic job of portraying Michael’s spastic range of emotions in those final few episodes.The real gem of this season and my favorite story arc is the introduction of Michael Emerson as Henry Gale.Naveen Andrews in Lost (2004)He spends most of his time confined in the Swan Station but that doesn’t stop him from being a formidable foe for the survivors of Flight 815. With the survivors fractured and keeping secrets from one another, Henry frequently manages to turn one survivor against the other. He’s favorite prey is John Locke who we already know is quite susceptible to snide comments and underhanded suggestions. Henry turns Locke inside out and uses him against Jack causing the group of survivors to lose focus. Its brilliant to watch unfold and Emerson brings a lot of weight to the role.

REVIEW: BONES – SEASON 1

Starring

Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman)
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Michaela Conlin (Yellowstone)
Eric Millegan (The Phobic)
T. J. Thyne (Ghost World)
Jonathan Adams (Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Sam Trammell (The order)
Chris Conner (Altered Carbon)
Larry Poindexter (17 Again)
Tyrees Allen (Robocop)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
José Zúñiga (Next)
Anne Dudek (Mad Men)
Heavy D (The Cider House Rules)
Alex Carter (Out of Time)
Toby Hemingway (The Covenant)
Marguerite MacIntyre (The Vampire Diaries)
Tom Kiesche (Breaking Bad)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Bokeem Woodbine (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Laz Alonso (Avatar)
Robert Gossett (The Net)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Heath Freeman (Raising The Bar)
Michael Rothhaar (Eli Stone)
Josh Hopkins (Cold Case)
Alicia Coppola (Another World)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Rachel Miner (Bully)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Billy Gibbons (Two and a Half Men)
Ty Panitz (Because I Said So)
Harry Groener (Buffy: TVS)
Claire Coffee (Grimm)
Michael B. Silver (Legally Blonde)
Penny Marshall (The Simpsons)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heroes)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a Girl)
Lawrence Pressman (Dark Angel)
Jaime Ray Newman (The Punisher)
John M. Jackson (NCIS: Los Angeles)
Judith Hoag (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Aaron Pearl (Breaking Bad)
Josh Keaton (Avengers Assemble)
Adriana DeMeo (Killer Movie)
Matt Barr (Sleepy Hollow)
Robert LaSardo (Nip/Tuck)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Crank)
Emilio Rivera (Venom)
Michael Bowen (Kill Bill)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
David Denman (Power Rangers)
Brian Gross (2 Broke Girls)
James Parks (The Hateful Eight)
Clayton Rohner (Ozark)
Mercedes Colon (The Fosters)
Robert Foxworth (Transformers)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)
Cullen Douglas (Pure Genius)
Fredric Lehne (Lost)
Michael Chieffo (Disclosure)
Michelle Hurd (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Scott Lawrence (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Patricia Belcher (Flatliners)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Mark Harelik (Trumbo)
Alexandra Krosney (Last Man Standing)
Sumalee Montano (Veep)
Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures)
Matt Battaglia (Thor)
Kirk B.R. Woller (Hulk)
Loren Dean (Space Cowboys)
Pat Skipper (Halloween)

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)Bones very quickly garnered rave reviews and amassed a loyal following. Bones is loosely inspired by real life forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs. This funny, clever, sometimes gross, and totally addictive crime drama centers around forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperence Brennan (Emily Deschanel), who toils out of the Jeffersonian Institution and, on the side, writes mysteries starring her fictional heroine (and here’s the twist) Kathy Reichs. Because Brennan has an almost supernatural ability to generate accurate assumptions based on her examination of the corpse’s bones, she is often consulted by the FBI on difficult, seemingly unsolvable cases. She is frequently partnered by brash wiseacre FBI Special Agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz), who seems to hold a bias against science and those who practice in that field. It’s Booth who breezily saddles Brennan with the nickname “Bones.” Naturally intuitive and freewheeling, Booth immediately is at odds with the clinically analytical Brennan. But, despite their personality clashes, and with the aid of Brennan’s gifted and quirky colleagues, the cases do get solved.David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)It’s no great secret that the palpable chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz is what actually propels the show and is what separates it from the other, more formulaic, dispassionate crime dramas. Every week, fans tune in for the leads’ deliciously caustic banter more so than for the weekly dose of mystery. You see, the mystery jones can be fixed by viewing any other one of the gazillion forensic dramas so currently prevalent on the airwaves. So the mystery is basically the MacGuffin that drives the show forward. But the cantankerous chemistry – that palpable “something” between the two leads as they hilariously bicker and wrangle – is definitely unique to this show.
Emily Deschanel is a find. And David Boreanaz. Yeah, I found it difficult going, at first, watching him in a new role, seeing as how I’m a fan of Buffy and Angel. But it helps that Booth isn’t much like our vampire with a soul. This ex-Army Ranger Special Agent is breezy, personable, and outgoing, not brooding, tortured, and introspective like Angelus. So, the transition, while disconcerting for me, was ultimately smooth enough. Boreanaz brings such command, self-assurance and charm to his character that I bought into it soon enough. My favorite episodes are the pilot episode, where we are introduced to the cast; “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” – the team is quarantied together in the Jeffersonian during Christmas and we learn personal stuff about the characters; “Two Bodies in the Lab” – character development galore in this episode as Brennan dates on-line and is targeted while she works on two cases; “The Superhero in the Alley” – a decomposed body is found wearing a superhero costume; and “The Woman in Limbo” – a gripping, emotional season finale as Brennan discovers shocking facts about her parents.

REVIEW: BREAKING BAD – THE FINAL SEASON

STARRING

Bryan Cranston (Power Rangers)
Anna Gunn (Sully)
Aaron Paul (Central Intelligence)
Dean Norris (The Big Bang Theory)
Betsy Brandt (Magic Mike)
RJ Mitte (Final Recall)
Bob Odenkirk (Operation: Endgame)
Giancarlo Esposito (Money Monster)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Laura Fraser (In The Cloud)
Jesse Plemons (The Post)

Bryan Cranston and Dean Norris in Breaking Bad (2008)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Matt L. Jones (Mom)
Charles Baker (Abysm)
Lavell Crawford (American Ultra)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Bill Burr (Date Night)
Emily Rios (Snowfall)
Adam Godley (Powers)
Jessica Hecht (Dan In Real Life)
Carmen Serano (Next Friday)
Robert Forster (Jackie Brown)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)Since the beginning of Breaking Bad, there was always the question of if and when Walter White (Bryan Cranston) would be caught. His brother in law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) was a DEA agent, so there were so many ways for his work as a meth cooker/drug kingpin to go south. And as the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad began, Hank had finally caught on to his brother in law. It was the start of the end, and it couldn’t end well, at least for the characters. For the audience, it ended spectacularly. Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)First off “The Final Season” is what the packaging says, but that would surely include the episodes from the first half of the fifth season, but season five was divided into two eight episode chunks, even though they were shot and aired nearly a year apart. It must be some sort of contractual thing. The second half kicks off seconds after the last episode with Hank finding a book of poetry that the late Gale Boeticher gave to Walter. Hank puts it all together, and goes home to do research, struggling with a panic attack as his world comes crushing down. But the great thing about the show is that this tension of Hank knowing could have dragged on for episodes. By the end of the first, he and Walter confront each other. Meanwhile Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) has five million dollars and all he wants to do is give it to the family of the boy whose child was murdered by Todd (Jesse Plemons). He’s too emotionally distraught to make any rational decisions and is eventually arrested for throwing his money away.Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)Skyler White (Anna Gunn) is confronted by Hank shortly thereafter, and though both love her sister Marie (Betsy Brandt), Skyler doesn’t know what to do, and doesn’t want to incriminate herself so she stays mute. Walter raises the stakes on Hank – who knows his career is ruined the minute he tells his coworkers that his brother is a meth kingpin – to keep him at bay, but Hank is not the sort of officer who backs down because of threats. Meanwhile Todd and his crew are now making meth, and their work doesn’t make Lydia (Laura Fraser) all that happy because their purity levels are far below Walter’s and their meth isn’t even blue. Walter gets Jesse to Saul Goodman’s (Bob Odenkirk), and the plan is to take him to the long spoke of Disappearer, but though Jesse goes along with this, it’s at this time he realizes that Walter was the one who stole the ricin cigarette for him, and he wants revenge. Eventually, he teams up with Hank.Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)When it all goes down, it goes down in interesting ways that might not be predicted, but feel right for just about everyone. That’s led to problems because it’s a pretty neat package in the end. But that won’t stop Breaking Bad for being revered as one of the greatest accomplishments in television history, up there with (though not on the same level as) The Wire.Dean Norris and Betsy Brandt in Breaking Bad (2008)If it’s not as good as The Wire, it’s only because at some point Breaking Bad stopped being about the exterior world, and became focused on the human drama. In that way the series peaked in Season 2, when it showed the real world collateral damage of Walter’s pursuit of wealth and power. But the show always had pulp fiction roots, and in comparison to The Shield or The Sopranos, what’s most impressive is how tight the whole thing is – there are no seasons, no episodes, and only a few plot strands that didn’t pay off or add up, and that’s pretty amazing. Much of that had to do with the first season. Had they not had a shortened order for the first year, they might have pushed Walter too far along in his journey into crime, but the way it plays out now, there are 62 episodes and about forty eight hours of a near-seamless narrative that is mostly broken up into acts. And, as series creator Vince Gilligan said from the outset, this was about turning Mr. Chips into Scarface and so each season saw Walter fall further from sympathy, and further from his initial goals of simply taking care of his family. As the character says in the finale, only then can he finally admit he did it for himself.Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)What the final eight episodes do is unravel everything, with “Ozymandius” the standout episode, as directed by Rian Johnson. To that point, the tension has been raised, and things have to explode, and so explode they do, with no one left uninjured. It’s one of the most harrowing and brilliant episodes of television ever filmed, and it’s amazing how well it pays off so much of what’s been building over the years. But the nice thing about television is that the show had two more episodes to unravel everything else, and gave Walter White a glimpse of Hell, and a moment to make things maybe a little less bad.Dean Norris and Steven Michael Quezada in Breaking Bad (2008)At this point, everyone on the show knew what they were doing, and so there are no bum performances, and everyone is doing career-best work, with a deep bench of great supporting players. Kevin Rankin and Michael Bowen play two of the head Neo Nazis, and though both had played toughs before, this isn’t just guest of the week stuff, these characters have lives and feel lived in. It’s weird how great Bowen is, many might know him from Valley Girl, or Jackie Brown (or a small part in Kill Bill), but he transforms himself into another person, and that’s just one of the minor characters in the season. Bryan Cranston is amazing in these episodes as he reveals the worst of the character and then tries to show empathy while doing the worst possible things. That people still like Walt, that people misguidedly champion him has everything to do with how good Cranston plays it. And it’s no surprise that Aaron Paul is moving on to a big screen career, because he and the creators took a nothing part and transformed the character (who was supposed to get killed off in the first season) into the heart and soul of the series.Michael Bowen, Bryan Cranston, and Dean Norris in Breaking Bad (2008)But then there’s also Anna Gunn, who many fans grew to hate, but who brilliantly played a conflicted woman who was in a relationship she couldn’t get out of, and would occasionally vacillate into accepting the evil around her. And RJ Mitte as Walter White Jr., the one person who fully believes in his father until he finally sees the monster within. And then there’s someone like Bob Odenkirk, who is mostly comic relief, but manages to bring a reality and empathy to his shyster lawyer, and that’s not to mention Jesse Plemmons great work as Todd, whose baby face is a perfect counterbalance to his sociopathic nature.Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)It’s also worth noting that the show was shot on 35mm, and that mixed with the directors means this is one of the most cinematic shows on television. The camera moves in ways that advance the story, and where most TV shows can be enjoyed without watching the picture the whole time, here there is so much going on in terms of visual storytelling. If you watch “Ozymandius” a second time, during the flashback opening, a key prop is placed prominently in the frame, as if to set up its role later in the episode. You don’t get that from most TV shows.Ultimately, Breaking Bad is a great work, a great story, and it’s easy to see why people champion it as being as good as the best of cinema. Though that’s apples and oranges –it’s pointless to compare the greatness of Jaws to the greatness of Moby Dick, or Hamlet to The Beatles. That said, one wishes there were more than a handful of shows on this level. Hopefully Breaking Bad will spawn them.

REVIEW: BREAKING BAD – SEASON 5

STARRING

Bryan Cranston (Power Rangers)
Anna Gunn (Sully)
Aaron Paul (Central Intelligence)
Dean Norris (The Big Bang Theory)
Betsy Brandt (Magic Mike)
RJ Mitte (Final Recall)
Bob Odenkirk (Operation: Endgame)
Giancarlo Esposito (Money Monster)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Laura Fraser (In The Cloud)
Jesse Plemons (The Post)

Jonathan Banks, Bryan Cranston, and Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Jim Beaver (Deadwood)
Christopher Cousins (The Grudge 2)
Steven Michael Quezada (Girlfriend’s Day)
Matt L. Jones (Mom)
Emily Rios (Snowfall)
Charles Baker (Abysm)
Bill Burr (Date Night)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Larry Hankin (Barry)
Michael Shamus Wiles (Lost Highways)

Jonathan Banks in Breaking Bad (2008)This is it – the beginning of the end. After four fantastic seasons that progressively made the series grow stronger and stronger, we’re just about there. I can’t say that I agree with the decision that AMC and Sony made to split the 16-episode fifth and final season into two parts, but I’m really excited for where it’s going. While this Blu-ray release labels itself as “The Fifth Season,” it’s really only the first half of season season five. I imagine that when the second half makes its way to Blu-ray, it will be labeled as “The Final Season.” The eight episodes contained in this set don’t quite function as a stand-alone season – there isn’t a complete arc – but it definitely sets itself up for what should be an intense finale. And with the show’s track record, it’s fair to assume that ‘Breaking Bad’ is going to end with a very loud bang.Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)Season four ended with Mr. Walter White (three-time Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul, who also has two Emmys of his own) obtaining complete liberation from their smart, intimidating, and oppressive distributor – Gus Fring. Without a single obstacle in their way and with the best “cook” in the world, the sky is the limit for our anti-hero duo. There are so many juicy moments in the contained eight episodes, moments sure to make every fan of the series giggle with excitement, that I’m going to try my very best to keep the details vague for those of you who have not yet watched it.Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)There are three major results of Gus no longer being part of the picture: the DEA – including Walt’s brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) – are pushing hard to find every known member of Gus’ international operation; without a lab and distribution, Walt and Jesse must now find new methods of cooking and distributing their 99-percent pure crystal meth; and Walt’s ego is out of control. If you just took down biggest meth operation in North America, wouldn’t you have an inflated head as well?The Blu-ray cover art contains the text “All Hail the King” emboldened on the front. This isn’t a praise that we, the audience, give to Mr. White. No, it’s a praise that he gives to himself. Having defeated the one man that very well may have been smarter than himself, Walt is out of control. As we see, it’s his way or the highway. There isn’t a trace of Mr. White in Walt anymore – it’s all Heisenberg from here on out. It’s always been obvious that this series is all about the erosion of good man. At this point, the once-good man no longer exists and, in comparison, Jesse begins to look like a saint. Walter White may no longer have cancer, but he is a cancer. He brings death, ruining lives and families wherever he goes. His intentions were good in the start, but that’s no longer the case. The character that I once rooted for is becoming so evil that I cannot wait to see him meet his demise – assuming that’s where showrunner, creator, and writer Vince Gilligan is taking the series.Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)But just because Gus is gone, it doesn’t mean that other problems aren’t going to arise. As we saw in her last scene from season four, Walt’s wife Skylar (Anna Gunn) no longer views her husband the same way. She will continue to launder his dirty money through their car wash, but she’s no longer happily cooperating and she’s going to fight Walt’s will until his – or her – dying breath. Aside from past issues with competing cartels, Gus’ operation was functioning flawlessly until Walt and Jesse came around. His team was silent and tight, their loyalty and trust never in question – but now that the DEA is applying heat and Gus is out of the picture, how quiet do you think his pressured henchmen will be now. And as if Gus’ 10 major employees weren’t posing enough of a threat, how do you think Gus’ right-hand man Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) is going to take the news of the season four’s final events?Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)Season five doesn’t feel like a complete season (which I why I’m assuming the cover art doesn’t follow suit with the previous season releases by titling it ‘The Complete Fifth Season’), but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t filled with greatness. There are plenty of extremely memorable moments – for the good or bad of the characters – and it’s completely entertaining through and through. Starting with the season’s opening tease, there are plenty of puzzling twists and ominous foreshadowing. The episodes found on this Blu-ray set might have been strengthened by running fluidly with the final eight, but at least this set allows you to catch up and get refreshed prior to the final 8.

REVIEW: AFTER THE SUNSET

CAST
Pierce Brosnan (The World’s End)
Salma hayek (Ugly Betty)
Woody Harrelsaon (The Hunger Games)
Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2 & 3)
Naomie Harris (28 Days Later)
Chris Penn (Reservoir Dogs)
Obba Babatunde (The Silence of The Lambs)
Mykelti Williamson (Lucky Number Slevin)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Alan Dale (Dominion)
Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk)
Rex Linn (Rush Hour)
Shaquille O’Neal (Steel)
Lisa Thornhill (Veronica Mars)
Kate Walsh (13 Reasons Why)
Tom McGowan (Ghost World)
Rachael Harris (The Hangover)
Gillian Vigman (Step Brothers)
Kirk B.R. Woller (Hulk)
John Michael Higgins (Pitch Perfect)
Master thief Max Burdett (Pierce Brosnan) and his beautiful accomplice, Lola Cirillo (Salma Hayek), steal the second of three famous diamonds, known as the Napoleon diamonds, from FBI Agent Stanley P. Lloyd (Woody Harrelson). But Lloyd shoots Max before passing out from being gassed by the thieves. Max survives and tells Lola to get the diamond. She does, leaving in its place the one-dollar bill that she had received as a tip for washing the agents’ windshield (while in disguise). Max and Lola then fly to Paradise Island in The Bahamas.
Agent Lloyd shows up 6 months later and accuses Burdett of planning to steal the third Napoleon daimond, which is on a cruise ship that will be docking for a week on the island. He denies this, and unwittingly turns the tables and befriends the frustrated detective Lloyd, showing him the pleasures that Paradise Island has to offer, even paying for the most expensive suite, the bridge suite, for as long as Lloyd is there. Lloyd, out of his element, adapts quickly to the easy-going Caribbean lifestyle and partners up with Sophia, a local constable, to try and capture Max at last when he steals the diamond, which Max visits and later gives in to the temptation to steal. Henri Mooré, a powerful, popular tycoon thought of by some as a gangster, learns of Burdett’s impressive history as a thief and offers him additional island-life benefits and pleasures in return for stealing the diamond.
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Burdett, still wanting the diamond for himself, pretends to work with Mooré, and gives him a fake plan as to how he would steal the diamond (which he had earlier related to Stan), having no trouble keeping ahead of his nemesis in the meantime. Lola kicks Max out after he breaks his promise to spend their first sunset on her new deck she had been working on and after she finds out he lied about writing his vows to her. Max is forced to bunk with Stan, and they share their thoughts about each other’s lives. The next morning, the authorities and Sophie discover them, revealing that Stan’s FBI license is suspended. They team up to win back Sophia and Lola, but Max still gives in and uses the dive trip as a distraction to steal the diamond, which works perfectly when Mooré’s man tries at the same time is a caught after the fake plan doesn’t work. After the fallout, Lola leaves Max after Lloyd shoots Mooré dead when he comes for the diamond. He realizes his error, writes his vows, and manages to win back Lola at the airport before she leaves, proposing to her with “the first diamond he ever bought”.
The next day, Max is met by Stan while celebrating, who reveals he set him up and let Max do all the work while he later recovered the diamond. Max concedes that his nemesis has won this time, and is simply happy to live out his life with Lola, watching sunsets. However, he has fun with Stan when he tries to leave by remote controlling his car again, promising Lola it is the last time.
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A very enjoyable watch.The script is fairly witty and the plot, even though a bit predictable,has a nice twist right at the end. The performances are good and the comic chemistry between Brosnan and Harrelson is terrific!