REVIEW: PLAYING GOD

CAST

David Duchovny (The X-Files)
Timothy Hutton (Kinsey)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Peter Stormare (Prison Break)
Andrew Tiernan (300)
Gary Dourdan (CSI)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Tracey Walter (Conan The Destroyer)
Keone Young (Alien Nation)

Stripped of his medical license after performing an operation while high on amphetamines, famed LA surgeon Dr Eugene Sands abandons his former life only to find himself crossing paths with Raymond Blossom, an infamous counterfeiter. Employed as a “gun-shot doctor” when Raymond’s associates cannot risk visiting a hospital, Eugene is lured deep into the criminal world and becomes entangled with his boss’s girlfriend.With the mixed reviews this got I wasn’t expecting too much, and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a very entertaining small crime film with interesting characters, excellent portrayals, writing that’s breezy without being glib, and a good pace. It looks good too, in a funky way. Apparently people either like this movie or just hate it, and I’m one who liked it.

Advertisements

REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

CAST

Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
Emma Stone (Easy A)
Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Dane DeHaan (Life After beth)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Felicity Jones (Rogue One)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Campbell Scott (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Marton Csokas (The Equalizer)
Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold)
Skyler Gisondo (Vacation)
Stan Lee (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Denis Leary (Rescue Me)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Michael Massee (Flashforward)

In 2000, Oscorp scientist Richard Parker records a video message to explain his disappearance. Later, he and his wife, Mary, are aboard a private jet hijacked by a man sent to assassinate Richard. The plane crashes, killing both Richard and Mary, after he uploads the video.Fourteen years later, Richard’s son Peter continues to fight crime as Spider-Man. He pursues and apprehends Aleksei Sytsevich. Later, Peter meets with Gwen at their high school graduation ceremony and, insisting he keep his vow to her father, ends their relationship. Peter’s childhood friend, Harry Osborn, returns to Manhattan to see his terminally-ill father, Norman, CEO of OsCorp. Norman explains his illness is genetic, and Harry is at the age where it first develops. Norman gives Harry a small device he claims contains his life’s work. The next day, Norman dies and Harry is appointed the new OsCorp CEO.While working in an OsCorp laboratory, electrical engineer Max Dillon shocks himself by accident and falls into a tank of genetically-engineered electric eels. They attack him, and he mutates into a living electric generator. Meanwhile, Peter attempts to maintain a friendship with Gwen, but she reveals that she may move to England for schooling. Before they can discuss it, Dillon wanders into Times Square, accidentally causing a blackout, and is stopped by Peter after a battle. Dillon is taken to Ravencroft Institute, where he is studied by German scientist Dr. Kafka. Meanwhile, the first symptoms of Harry’s illness are showing, and he uses the device Norman gave him to deduce that Spider-Man’s blood could help save him. He asks Peter, who has been selling photos of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle, to aid him in finding Spider-Man. Peter refuses, unsure of what effects the transfusion would have. Although he later comes to Harry as Spider-Man, he still refuses, and Harry develops an intense hatred towards Spider-Man. The OsCorp board-members, in particular the vice-president, Donald Menken, frame Harry for covering up Dillon’s accident, remove him as CEO, overthrow him and take control of Oscorp. Harry’s assistant, Felicia Hardy, informs him of equipment that could help him, so he makes a deal with Dillon, who now calls himself “Electro,” to get him back inside the OsCorp building. There he finds a suit of armour and other equipment made by Norman, as well as venom from the now-destroyed genetically-altered spiders. The venom accelerates Harry’s illness and transforms him into a goblin-like creature, but the suit’s built-in emergency protocol restores his health and cures his disease.Peter uses information left by his father to locate the video message in an abandoned subway station’s hidden lab. Richard explains he had to leave because he refused to cooperate with Norman’s biogenetic weaponization plans. Peter then hears a voicemail from Gwen, telling him she was offered the British scholarship and is heading to the airport earlier than expected. He manages to catch her and professes his love for her, and, vowing to go wherever she goes, they agree to go to England together. Electro causes another blackout, and Peter heads off to fight him as Spider-Man. Gwen follows, and together they restore power and overload Electro’s body, killing him.The transformed Harry, who now calls himself “Green Goblin”, arrives equipped with Norman’s armor and weaponry. Upon seeing Gwen, he deduces Spider-Man’s secret identity and, swearing revenge for being refused the blood transfusion, kidnaps her and takes her to the top of a clock tower. Peter manages to defeat the Green Goblin, but his webbing breaks during the battle and Gwen falls to her death. Peter, depressed and distraught, mourns over Gwen’s death and ends his career as Spider-Man. Five months later, Harry is coping with the aftereffects of his transformation while incarcerated at Ravencroft. His associate, Gustav Fiers, visits Harry and the pair discuss forming their own team. Harry orders Fiers to start with Sytsevich. Later an unknown team of men break Sytsevich out of prison. Equipped with electromechanical suit armor, Sytsevich calls himself the Rhino and rampages through the streets. Peter, inspired by Gwen’s graduation speech, resumes his role as Spider-Man and confronts him.The Amazing Spider-Man 2 nearly earns an honest emotional response over this pairing. The writing could be better, but Garfield and Stone do an excellent job selling their roles and this movie. I am a big fan of Stone, and she elevates Garfield’s already solid performance. Webb does not quite find the balance between this drama and spectacle, and the film understandably includes a number of rollicking action sequences. The visual effects are strong, but the bullet-time slow motion feels a bit stale. There is a lot of flash to these bits, but not much substance. This is an entertaining film that could be better.

REVIEW: THE LAST SURVIVORS

CAST

Haley Lu Richardson (Recovery Road)
Booboo Stewart (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
Max Charles (The Strain)
Nicole Arianna Fox (Ashley)
Michael Welch (Twilight)
Jon Gries (Taken)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Rena Owen (Star Wars – Episode II)
Babara Crompton (From Beyond)

Image result for the last survivors (2014)Given is a post-apocalypse situation, after all water disappeared from a large area. Some farm houses are still more or less intact, with a few sparse inhabitants who try to survive with limited resources and nearly defective equipment. Our main character is 17 year old Kendal, involuntary head of a household that consists of herself and her handicapped brother with ailing kidneys. At the other end of the spectrum we have a greedy water baron, who claims all of the (little) still available water, collects it underground in water tanks, and is supported by a small army that doesn’t shy away from lethal violence. As a result, he makes it more and more difficult for everyone in the area to pump up the water they need for their survival.
Image result for the last survivors (2014)
Our main character Kendal has lots of luck, she is resourceful and armed with plenty of determination. As the story progresses she remains standing, contrary to many others with ill intentions. Kendal even has her way with a sword. Moreover, along the line of sheer luck, her brother with the ailing kidneys who can only walk with crutches, succeeds in shooting three men in a row, in spite of the latter being armed and normally impose their will by means of those armory. It shows desperation all right, but it stretches our belief that this can happen for real.
Image result for the last survivors (2014)Beautiful shots of a desolate area, leaving us wondering how this situation came about. I’m not sure, contrary to another reviewer, whether it would have improved our viewer experience if we had known more about the background of brother and sister, and similarly about the reason of the water shortage. The background is hidden along the story, and is revealed sufficiently for us to understand a bit of the context. The message we take away is that there is no hope for the nearby future.
Image result for the last survivors (2014)
Another irrational element in the plot is Kendal’s desperate chase for a distributor cap of the correct type, that fits a plane in a hangar seemingly belonging to no one. She goes at every length in finding the distributor cap, checking every car or van within reach, in order to get the plane in the air. She hopefully assumes that the rest of the plane is in perfect order (it does not look that way from our viewpoint). This chase for missing motor parts is a constant theme throughout the running time.
Image result for the last survivors (2014)
All in all, depressing landscapes, mixed with little hope for some form of escape from the harsh reality due to defective equipment and limited resources all around. From the “post apocalypse” situation that is the center of the action, we cannot expect an “enjoyable” experience. Nevertheless, the believable acting, the camera work in and around the abandoned farms, and the desolated landscapes, all of that cooperates nicely to let us leave the theater satisfied. Also, no action or violence for the sake of it, but what we get perfectly fits in the story line. In conclusion, I am fully prepared to overlook the flaws that I summarized earlier.

REVIEW: THE CROW (1994)

CAST

Brandon Lee (Showdown In Little Tokyo)
Rochelle Davis (Hell House)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Michael Wincott (Alien: Resurrection)
Bai Ling (The Breed)
Sofia Shinas (Terminal Velocity)
Anna Levine (Unforgiven)
Michael Masse (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Tony Todd (Wishmaster)
Jon Polito (Miller’s Crossing)

On October 30, Devil’s Night in Detroit, Police Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) is at the scene of a crime where Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) has been beaten and raped, and her fiancé Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) then died on the street outside, having been stabbed, shot, and thrown out of the window. The couple were to be married the following day, on Halloween. As he leaves for the hospital with Shelly, Albrecht meets a young girl, Sarah, who says that she is their friend, and that they take care of her. Albrecht tells her that Shelly is dying.

One year later, a crow taps on the grave stone of Eric Draven; Eric awakens and climbs out of his grave. Meanwhile, a low level street gang, headed by T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly), is setting fires in the city. Eric goes to his old apartment and finds it derelict. He has flashbacks to the murders, remembering that those responsible were T-Bird and his gang: Tin Tin, Funboy, and Skank. Eric soon discovers that any wounds he receives heal immediately. Guided by the crow, he sets out to avenge his and Shelly’s murders by killing the perpetrators.

The crow helps Eric locate Tin Tin; Eric kills him by stabbing him in each vital organ (in alphabetical order) with his own knives and then takes his coat. He then goes to the pawn shop where Tin Tin pawned Shelly’s engagement ring the year before. Eric forces the owner, Gideon, to return the ring. Eric then tosses rings telling Gideon each of them is a life, a life Gideon helped destroy. He lets Gideon live so that he can warn the others, but when Gideon calls Eric street grease, he says, “Is that gasoline I smell?”. Terrified, Gideon runs out and Eric blows up the shop, just as Gideon barely escapes. Eric finds Funboy getting high with Sarah’s drug-addict mother, Darla. After killing Funboy with an overdose of morphine, Eric talks to Darla, taking the drug out of her arm seemingly by magic and making her realize that Sarah needs her to be a good mother. He visits Albrecht, explaining who he is and why he is here. Albrecht tells him what he knows about Shelly’s death and that he watched as she suffered for thirty hours before dying. Eric touches Albrecht and receives from him the pain felt by Shelly during those hours. Sarah and her mother begin to repair their strained relationship. Sarah goes to Eric’s apartment and talks to him. She tells him that she misses him and Shelly. Eric explains that, even though they cannot be friends anymore, he still cares about her.

As T-Bird and Skank stop at a convenience store to pick up some supplies, Eric arrives and kidnaps T-Bird. Skank follows the pair to the docks and witnesses Eric kill T-Bird by tying him to the driver’s seat of his car and forcing him to drive it off the edge of the pier where it explodes and sinks into the harbour. Skank escapes and goes to Top Dollar, a top-level criminal who controls all the street gangs in the city. Top Dollar and his lover/half-sister Myca have become aware of Eric’s actions through various reports from witnesses. Top Dollar holds a meeting with his associates where they discuss new plans for their Devil’s Night criminal activities. Eric arrives looking for Skank. A gun fight ensures the deaths of nearly all present, and Eric kills Skank by throwing him out of a window. Top Dollar, Myca, and Grange, Top Dollar’s right-hand man, escape.

Eric, having finished his quest, returns to his grave. Sarah goes to say goodbye to him and he gives her Shelly’s engagement ring. She is abducted by Grange, who takes her into the church where Top Dollar and Myca are waiting. Through the crow, Eric realizes what has happened and goes to rescue her. Grange shoots the crow as it flies into the church, making Eric lose his invincibility. Myca grabs the wounded crow, intending to take its mystical power. Albrecht arrives, intending to pay his respects to Eric, just after Eric is shot and wounded. Top Dollar grabs Sarah and climbs the bell tower as a fight ensues, and Grange is killed by Albrecht. The crow escapes Myca’s grip, pecking her eyes out and sending her down the bell tower to her death. When Albrecht is wounded, Eric climbs to the roof of the church on his own. There, Top Dollar admits ultimate responsibility for what happened to Eric and Shelly. In their fight, Eric, despite being fatally stabbed in the back, gives Top Dollar the thirty hours of pain he absorbed from Albrecht; the sensation sends Top Dollar over the roof of the church to be impaled on the horns of a gargoyle. Sarah and Albrecht go to the hospital, and Eric is reunited with Shelley at their graves. Sarah ends the film with a narration: “If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever.”Alex Proyas milks the plot for all its worth and places The Crow beyond an average thriller and into the realm of motion picture brilliance. A heart warming tale backed up with enough gore and action to keep hard core violence fanatics interested. This stands The Crow as a masterpiece of cinematic wizardry, that is sure to impress even the most critical of viewers.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: FLASHFORWARD – A561984

Image result for FLASHFORWARD TV LOGO
A561984
MAIN CAST
Joseph Fiennes (Killing Me Softly)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Jack Davenport (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings)
Peyton List (The Flash)
Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Brian F. O’Byrne (Million Dollar Baby)
Courtney B. Vance (Terminator Genisys)
Sonya Walger (Terminator: TSCC)
Christine Woods (The Walking Dead)
Ryan Wynott (The Cape)
GUEST CAST
Shohreh Aghdashloo (X-Men 3)
Michael Massee (The Crow)
James Frain (Gotham)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Michael Ealy (Underworld 4)
Gabrielle Union (Ugly Betty)
Nhadra Udaya is in deep thought in her office with the same view through the windows as that seen from the balcony in “White to Play” while she ponders her version of the Mosaic Investigation wall. In direct violation of Stan Wedeck’s orders, Mark Benford and Demetri Noh fly to Hong Kong to find the woman who called Demetri with the warning that he would be murdered on March 15, 2010. Upon landing on December 15, 2009, they are met by Marshall Vogel, who introduces himself as a member of the legal attaché’s office in Hong Kong. He tells Mark he should answer his ringing telephone call because it is Wedeck calling. Mark begins introductions and Vogel interrupts, displaying his foreknowledge of the reason for their journey and reminding them that they have come to a country, China, that has been labeled as being responsible for the Global Blackout by the United States Government. Vogel advises Mark and Demetri to return to Los Angeles while they still have jobs. When Mark’s phone rings with a second call from Wedeck, he answers it and is promptly reprimanded for flying to Hong Kong; Mark attempts to justify his actions and terminates the call by telling Stan that he had lied to Demetri and told him that Stan had changed his mind about letting them make the trip. He explains to Demetri that if things go badly, Demetri will need to be carrying a weapon.
Image result for FLASHFORWARD A561984
The agents begin with linguists information that the mysterious caller is in Hong Kong, is from Tehran, and is London educated; they add to that Demetri’s observation that her voice sounds like that of a smoker. With the coerced assistance of a man in a restaurant, they identify the restaurant where the woman routinely has a late supper. They confront the woman, who is eating her meal in the company of four armed men. Nhadra sends one of her men on an unidentified errand. She reluctantly reveals that Mark will be the one to murder Demetri in March using his service weapon, A SIG-Sauer model P226 with the serial number A561984. The situation flies out of control when Mark takes Nhadra into custody as a material witness, an act which is questionable on foreign soil. Marshall Vogel shows up and defuses the situation by telling Nhadra, addressing her by her first name, to have her men lower their weapons. When Mark and Demetri do the same, they are forcefully arrested by the Hong Kong police.  Vogel escorts Mark and Demetri to the airport. When Mark wants to know why Vogel is keeping them away from Nhadra, Vogel responds that they do not need to know what she knows. When Vogel again refers to the legal attaché’s office, Mark challenges his statement. Vogel admits to an affiliation with the Central Intelligence Agency. Mark’s phone rings again. When he answers, Wedeck tells him that he had seen the video of the confrontation with the police outside the restaurant. He orders Mark to surrender his badge and weapon to Demetri and, after hanging up, Mark complies. While Mark and Demetri are waiting for their flight, Mark assures Demetri that he will not shoot him. Meanwhile we find Nhadra in her office talking with D. Gibbons who entered Hong Kong against her advice.
Lloyd and his associates hold a press conference. Gordon Myhill introduces himself as the director of the National Linear Accelerator Project and tells the audience that they have information about the events of October 6, 2009. While he is making his introductory remarks, Simon Campos cautions Lloyd Simcoe that he is to stay within the talking points the three had discussed. Myhill introduced Lloyd and Simon and Lloyd as the associate directors of the Plasma-Wakefield Program. Lloyd speaks first and discloses that they were experimenting in the production of energy levels that existed just after the Big Bang and they conducted such an experiment at exactly “1100 hours” on October 6. The crowd erupts with questions, but Lloyd is able to calm them until he adds that the scientists believe that their experiment caused the GBO. Oscar Obregon asks if the scientists are taking responsibility for results of the GBO. Lloyd becomes flustered and Simon steps in to say that the results were totally unforeseeable and to remind the audience that scientists conduct experiments all the time without being able to predict the results. Myhill returns to the podium to attempt to conclude the conference and announce that NLAP would be releasing an official statement. Lloyd interrupts his colleague and tries to offer an apology for the GBO, adding that he lost his own wife and that he would give anything to have her back. An outraged woman grabs a security officer’s revolver and attempts to shoot Lloyd. Security officers subdue the woman and usher Lloyd and Simon off the stage. Simon accuses Lloyd of losing his objectivity. Lloyd responds that he was trying to be definitive. Simon rejects Lloyd’s argument and tells him that if they can not agree on Simon’s terms, then they are at war. In  a meeting with Stan Wedeck, Simon says that he does not believe his group caused the blackout. When Stan points out that Simon said he did, Simon replies that it was not his choice and that Lloyd Simcoe tends to be emotional. Simon tells Wedeck that he does not know who is responsible, but that he can “divine” the answer if allowed access to the Mosaic files, adding that he has a security clearance. Wedeck rejects Simon’s offer until Simon points out that, if the cause of the GBO is believed to be known, the funding for Wedeck’s investigation will evaporate. Wedeck offers to meet again the following morning and provided some information to Campos. In the next meeting, the two are joined by Janis Hawk, who shows images to Simon of Ganwar Region that have supposedly been sterilized to mask the location; Simon immediately identifies the area as Somalia by recognizing the terrain. Simon asks that Janis zoom in on a tower and pronounces that he designed the tower and identifies it as a specialized pulsed laser for a plasma afterburner; he adds that the concept should win a Nobel Prize in about two years. He compliments the agents on the Government’s modelling software, explaining that the tower looks real. Campos is taken aback when Janis tells him that it is real. He explains that scientists are still running simulations. Janis tells him that the picture was taken in 1991, a year before he thought of the idea. Simon has trouble believing that anyone else could have come up with his idea and points out that people like him thrive on fame and immortality. He ponders the idea that the person who thought of the existing tower might be both brilliant and reclusive. Wedeck shows Simon a composite drawing of D. Gibbons; he explains that Gibbons has been hacking into high-tech facilities and plays chess. Simon denies knowing Gibbons, but says he will help the FBI find the fugitive because he wants revenge.
Bryce Varley, thinking he is being surveilled, becomes nervous while Janis Hawk is waiting for Lloyd Simcoe. Janis assures him that he is not the subject of her interest. He tells her that he had heard about her being in the hospital and asks how she is doing. She responds that she is doing well but not well enough to have a baby. She explains that she was having a prenatal sonogram during her Flash. Janis continues that she may just give up the idea. She tells him that she was four months pregnant during the Flash. Bryce asks if she still wants to have a baby. When she says she does, he tells her not to give up. Janis sees Lloyd Simcoe and excuses herself to talk to him. Later, Janis returns and asks for Bryce’s advice on how to proceed. When he starts prescribing a prenatal vitamin, Janis tells him that she is gay and needs to get pregnant without involvement with a man. Bryce tells her about the Zoey Andata makes what she claims is her last attempt to speak with Demetri Noh’s parents; she leaves a message on their telephone telling them that she had seen them at her wedding, assuring them of her love for Demetri and begging them to help the two of them be together. As she finishes, the call, she encounters Paul Becker, a senior partner of her law firm, who asks if she will be attending the memorial for Joyce that evening, even though she did not know Joyce well. Zoey responds that Joyce was friendly to her and she would be there.  That evening, Zoey is in the group attending the memorial. As the priest reads from Revelation 21:2, Zoey’s attention is drawn to a white rose; she relives a portion of her Flash in which she drops a white rose onto the sand of the beach. Realizing that she has mistaken Demetri’s memorial service for their wedding, she begins to sob and runs from the room.
The next day she rings the bell at Demetri’s parents’ home. Mrs. Noh admits her and Zoe explains that she has finally understood her Flash. She asks why the Nohs did not tell Demetri and her what they had seen in their Flashes, Mrs. Noh explains that not talking about it made ther truth less real. She goes on to tell Zoey that they had difficulties with the idea of Zoey marrying their son until they realized from their Flashes how much she loved Demetri. They now wish that the future was Zoey and Demetri marrying instead of Demetri dying. Zoey tells Mrs. Noh that they are going to change the future.
After the announcement, Lloyd returns top Angeles Hospital to make arrangements to transfer his son Dylan to another facility. He rejects an offer from Janis for protection from the U. S. Government and encounters a very unsympathetic Mr. Dunkirk, who offers Southland University Hospital as the only option. Lloyd says that Southland less secure than Angeles. Dunkirk becomes critical of Lloyd and suggests his has some guilt for his involvement with the GBO. Lloyd responds that he needs to find a secure facility for his son. Olivia intervenes and suggests Travers, a private children’s hospital. Dunkirk continues to be unhelpful, stating that he doubts they have any beds available. Olivia responds that she will make the arrangements. Lloyd admits to Olivia that he can not expect very many people to want to help him in the future. Olivia is successful and brings transfer papers to Lloyd. She asks him if he is sure that there will not be another blackout and he responds that there will not be as long as he and his colleagues do not repeat their experiment. She tells him that she thinks he is brave to have come forward and they discuss the line between bravery and stupidity. Olivia and Lloyd talk about his attending Harvard University and her not attending because she followed Mark to Los Angeles. They discover that, if she had attended, she would have lived next door to him in the building his deceased wife did live in. Lloyd explains the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, in which they may have been neighbors and met in another universe. After a pregnant pause they agree that that is not the world in which they live. After dark, Olivia comes by while Dylan is being wheeled out to what appears to be an ambulance. One of the operators, John, introduces himself and his partner, Reed. When Dylan becomes agitated, Olivia points out that he is autistic. John responds that they have had training. When Dylan becomes agitated a second time, the situation spirals out of control. Olivia calls a security guard. Reed draws a weapon and shoots the guard, then threatens Olivia. Lloyd stands in front of Olivia, but the operators force him into their vehicle and drive away, leaving Olivia and a screaming Dylan behind.
Flashforward was a great series but suffered from a long break in the middle. The Christmas episode was where the break happens so fans had to wait for 3 months to find out what happened next. As a Christmas episode its hard to watch as a stand-a-lone episode but is still enjoyable to look back on a short lived series.

REVIEW: ULTIMATE AVENGERS 1 & 2

 CAST (VOICES)

Justin Gross (Texhnolyze)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Marc Worden (Batman Beyond)
Nan McNamara (7 Films, 7 Weeks)
Nolan North (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Andre Ware (The Banger Sisters)
David Boat (Frozen)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Jim Ward (Wall-E)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)

In the North Atlantic in 1945 a squadron of B-24 Liberators transport the 101st Airborne Division. The radio announces that Berlin has been taken and Nazi Germany is expected to surrender. However, there are also claims of a Nazi superweapon that is aimed at Washington, D.C.Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America, leads the mission on an island near Norway where the superweapon is believed to be held. Rogers storms through the fortress and is confronted by his nemesis Herr Kleiser, who is revealed to be an extraterrestrial shape-shifter. The superweapon is launched, leaving Rogers the choice to throw himself onto the rocket and harmlessly cause it to self destruct, while having a final confrontation with Kleiser. The missile is destroyed, but Rogers falls into the ocean and the world believes he is dead.Sixty years later, Rogers’ body is recovered by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury and thawed out into modern day. Gamma scientist Bruce Banner is working on a super soldier serum for S.H.I.E.L.D., while on medications that keep him from transforming into the Hulk. S.H.I.E.L.D. sends a sattelite into space to track the three ramaining alien ships, but is ultimately destroyed by the invaders, forcing Nick Fury to reluctantly initiate Project: Avenger.Fury and Rogers try to recruit the Norse god Thor, who rejects the offer to continue environmentalist protests. The resulting recruits are Captain America, Bruce Banner, Iron Man, Giant Man, Wasp, Natalia Romanov and Betty Ross. Fury briefs the team about the aliens, named the Chitauri, and the use of the metal vibranium, while Banner struggles to repress the Hulk persona and Rogers is hesitant of leading the Avengers.

The team’s first mission is to capture a Chitauri spy which has breached a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. The Avengers disregard Rogers’ orders and follow their own egos, resulting in failure which allows the alien to escape with all sufficient information about S.H.I.E.L.D.. Fury fires an arrogant Hank Pym, who is followed by his wife Wasp. Iron Man, now revealed to be Tony Stark, resigns immediately. Rogers also chooses to leave Fury, feeling unready to fight the Chitauri.Desperate for soldiers to combat the coming assault on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s New York facility, Fury demands that Banner applies his super soldier serum to all of his candidates, only for Betty Ross to learn that Banner was only using the serum as a diversion to find a way to control the Hulk. Banner steps into a “rebirth chamber”, which transforms him into the Hulk, while still maintaining his own mind. Fury and the Black Widow lead a failing attack against the alien invaders, but each Avenger shows up, now joined by Thor, to send the three ships crashing into the ocean.Banner loses control of his thoughts and the Hulk retains his own childlike and violent personality, brutally killing every last Chitauri and then lashing out against the Avengers. The Hulk proves strong enough to knock out a full-size Giant Man, damage Iron Man’s suit and even, with effort, to lift Thor’s hammer Mjollnir. The Avengers manage to inject the Hulk with a high dose of Banner’s medication, and Betty Ross calms the Hulk long enough to let the drug render him human again. Banner is kept in a glass cell for breaking Fury’s trust, and the Avengers celebrate their success against the Chitauri and praise a wounded Captain America for leading them as a team.The action is spectacular and the storyline keeps you riveted from start to finish. This movie grabs with its cinematic lead in and flashback to World War Two. (Complete with throwback radio broadcast) From there, it’s one big roller coaster ride to the pulse pounding finish. The battle sequences are some of the best ever animated. I think the PG-13 rating really helps. Soldiers die and heroes bleed, that completely draws the viewer in to the feature. I think movie fans of all ages will be stunned at how many levels this movie delivers upon. This is a smart and surprisingly interesting film that really delivers.

CAST (VOICES)

Justin Gross (Texhnolyze)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
Michael Massee (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Marc Worden (Batman Beyond)
Nan McNamara (7 Films, 7 Weeks)
Nolan North (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Andre Ware (The Banger Sisters)
David Boat (Frozen)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Jim Ward (Wall-E)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Jeffrey D. Sams (Soul Food)

In the fortified African nation of Wakanda, the inhabitants of the small city-nation welcome home T’Challa, the son of king T’Chaka. Members of the extraterrestrial Chitauri race attract the attention of T’Chaka’s alter-ego, the Black Panther. T’Chaka is murdered by Herr Kleiser, their commander who continues to adapt the form of a Nazi commandant. T’Challa inherits the throne and Black Panther technology, swearing vengeance against Kleiser.In the United States, Captain America has become reckless in his missions due to the trauma of his 60-year deep freeze. Bruce Banner remains locked up in his cell after his Hulk incident, tormented and frequently drugged by a disgruntled ex-employee of his who acts as his interrogator. Betty Ross discovers that the wreckage of Chitauri ships has become mysteriously brittle. Hank Pym begins developing sickness for his overuse of his Giant-Man formula, leading to tension in his relationship with the Wasp. Thor sees a possible future where the Avengers are dead and seeks to consult Odin. Finding out that a Chitauri mothership is speeding towards Earth, Thor refuses to return to Asgard. When T’Challa meets Nick Fury and Captain America and reveals that Cap’s wartime nemesis kleiser still lives, he finds that Captain America tried to kill him numerous times and failed. T’Challa turns down an offer of alliance and Fury assembles the Avengers once again.

The Avengers illegally enter Wakanda. Black Panther allows only Captain America into the city, where he reveals that the Chitauri are searching for the “Heart of Wakanda”. The Avengers and Wakandan warriors find themselves fighting each other, with the Wakandans emerging victorious. The Avengers are commanded to return to their ship and T’Challa is stripped of his kinghood for allowing foreigners into the country. Captain America drags an injured Chitauri onto the Avengers’ jet, followed by Herr Kleiser taking T’Challa’s form. He steals Captain America’s shield and destroys the ship. Iron Man’s battered suit protects the Avengers in a force field and Thor teleports the team back to the Triskellion.

The Wasp is left in a coma from her injuries and is kept in the Triskellion. A mothership hovers above Wakanda and etraps the entire planet in a sickly-green bubble. Extraterrestrial invaders attack every major city on Earth and begin a massacre of the human population. Iron Man suits up in the War Machine armour and joins the Avengers as they teleport to Wakanda to battle the invaders. It is revealed they are seeking a gigantic meteorite of vibranium deep under Wakanda, from which the Wakandans develop their advanced technology. Bruce Banner works out that the gamma radiated from the Hulk is what caused the vibranium in the Chitauri ships to become brittle, and lets Betty use a gamma generator to attack the aliens close range. The Chitauri gas Banner’s cell and he promptly dies. Betty and the revived Wasp take a jet to Wakanda and give Iron Man the gamma generator to attack the inside of the mothership. Giant-Man, despite his condition getting worse from his use of his powers, shrinks down to aid Iron Man. Bruce Banner’s lifeless body becomes the Hulk and wakes up to fight the aliens invaders.Captain America and Black panther find themselves in a bloody fight with Kleiser, who appears to be immortal due to his rapid healing factor. The two trick Kleiser into falling into a pool of liquid vibranium and leave him trapped as it solidifies. Iron man and Giant-Man enter the mothership and destroy its core with the gamma generator. However, Giant-Man’s injuries lead him to pass out and he has to be carried back to the ground. Giant-Man makes up with the Wasp before dying. Iron Man travels alone to divert the crashing mothership away from the city, draining his life support. Thor returns and summons the power of the heavens to give life back to Tony Stark, proving his claims to be the God of Thunder to be genuine.With the Chitauri attack ended, the Avengers mourn Giant-Man’s death and T’Challa’s kinghood is restored. The Hulk sees Betty one last time before leaping away. Captain America and Black Widow begin a romantic relationship and the world celebrates victory over the Chitauri. The film ends with Thor and Nick Fury setting aside their differences and becoming friends.

The animation is superb! This movie is a sequel to the first Ultimate Avengers movie and maybe even a better one! They paid more attention to developing characters,but it could have been much more.Because that is what makes these superheroes special! There were nice little surprises in this movie and I don’t know if this is based on actual story lines in the marvel comics. It is nice to see a mature approach of things,just like in the comics. For me the movie is an example of what can be achieved if they take the myths created by Marvel Comics seriously.

REVIEW: ALIAS – SEASON 1-5

Image result for alias logo

 

MAIN CAST

Jennifer Garner (Elektra)
Ron Rifkin (Gotham)
Michael Vartan (Bates Motel)
Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Merrin Dungey (Edtv)
Carl Lumbly (The Alphabet Killer)
Kevin Weisman (Clerks 2)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
David Anders (Izombie)
Lena Olin (Mystery Men)
Melissa George (Triangle)
Mia Maestro (Poseidon)
Rachel Nicols (G.I. Joe)
Balthazar Getty (Young Guns 2)
Elodie Bouchez (Reality)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Image result for alias pilot
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Edward Atterton (Firefly)
Angus Scrimm (Phantasm)
Ric Young (The Transporter)
Evan Parke (King Kong)
Ravil Isyanov (The Jackal)
Sarah Shahi (Old School)
John Aylward (Armageddon)
Gina Torres (Serenity)
Keone Young (Men In Black 3)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Arabella Holzbog (Across The Universe)
Tom Everett (Air Force One)
Lori Heuring (Mulholland Drive)
Yvonne Farrow (The Hard Truth)
Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Maurice Godin (Boat Trip)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Derek Mears (Friday The 13th)
Tobin Bell (Saw)
Aharon Ipale (The Mummy)
James Handy (Jumanji)
Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)
Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck)
Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate)
Patricia Wettig (City Slickers)
Jennifer Tung (Masked Rider)
James Lew (Traffic)
Amy Irving (Carrie)
Michelle Arthur (The Number 23)
Roger Moore (Octopussy)
Lindsay Crouse (Buffy)
Derrick O’Connor (End of Days)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Peter Berg (Collateral)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
Marisol Nichols (Riverdale)
Ira Heiden (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3)
Derek de Lint (Deep Impact)
James Lesure (Las Vegas)
Marshall Manesh (How I Met Your Mother)
Faye Dunaway (Supergirl)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corns)
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Ethan Hawke (The Purge)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
Lindsey Ginter (S.W.A.T.)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Ahmed Best (Star wars – Episode I)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Richard Lewis (Drunks)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Robert Joy (The Hills Have Eyes)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Amanda Foreman (Super 8)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
Brad Greenquist (Pet Sematary)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Mark Bramhall (Vanilla Sky)
Justin Theroux (American Psycho)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Alec Mapa (Ugly Betty)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Erick Avari (The Mummy)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
Erica Leerhsen (Wrong Turn 2)
David Cronenberg (Resurrection)
Isabella Rossellini (Death Becomes Her)
Arnold Vosloo (G.I.Joe)
Francois Chau (lost)
James Kyson (Heroes)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Stana Katic (Castle)
Griffin Dunne (After Hours)
Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying)
Raymond J. Barry (Training Day)
Peggy Lipton (The Mod Squad)
David Carradine (Kill Bill)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Rob Benedict (Birds of Prey)
Rick Yune (The Fast and The Furious)
Kelly Macdonald (Brave)
Jim Pirri (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Julie Ann Emery (Fargo)
Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother)
Sonia Braga (Angel Eyes)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Joel Grey (Cabaret)
Michael McKean (Smallville)
Jeff Yagher (V)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Tyrees Allen (Robocop)
Larry Cedar (Deadwood)
Kevin Cooney (Roswell)
Patrick Bauchau (Secretary)
Angus Macfadyen (Chuck)
Michael Masse (Flashforward)

Alias is the creation of “Felicity” creator J.J Abrams and stars Jennifer Garner (“Dude, Where’s My Car”). The choice of Garner as Sydney Bristow is one of those things where most will likely not imagine anyone else in the role. Able to portray a natural sweetness and likability, Garner turns Sydney into a highly engaging character with complex and conflicting emotions, as well as one who is an expert in martial arts.

At the opening of the show, Sydney works for a top-secret organization called SD-6, who is searching for a mysterious device by a scientist named Rambaldi. It’s not long before Sydney realizes that SD-6 isn’t the branch of the CIA that it says it is, leading Sydney to work as a double agent for the real CIA to investigate SD-6. It’s not long before Sydney finds herself in the midst of double-and-triple crosses, not to mention surprises, as she finds out her father (a terrific Victor Garber) is an agent, as well.

The show does take a bit from previous efforts such as “Mission: Impossible” and “La Femme Nikita” (the latter was also turned into a well-liked TV show), while also running on the techno-pulse of a “Run Lola Run”. Still, the show manages to add its own twists and turns on a familiar genre. The show’s production design, cinematography and costumes are all first-rate, while the occasional jump to a foreign location or new gadget intro make the show fun and compelling. As with “Felicity”, Abrams and the show’s music supervisors make interesting choices that fit with the show rather than showcase certain artists. Quentin Tarantino makes a great guest appearance in “The Box”; while he might not win an Oscar for acting, Tarantino is never less than a fun, unpredictable presence in any acting appearance, and this is no different.

.

Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is back as the double agent who works for the CIA and the evil organization known as SD-6. Sloane (Ron Rifkin) is the leader of SD-6, and Agent Vaughn (Michael Vartan) is Sydney’s handler. He’s also her would-be lover. Add to the mix another double agent who happens to be Sydney’s father (Victor Garber), and you have a show that seems like it would be too weird to work. But it does.

What surprises me most about this series is the fact that the action, and the reason for the action, is often the least important aspect of any particular episode. Sure, it gets all the glory, but the whole idea of chasing Rambaldi artifacts is nothing more than Hitchcock’s McGuffin. These chases are a means to get the characters in motion. What matters, however, is how the characters react and grow.

Season two continues the trend of letting the secondary characters in on the big picture. They’re not around just to give Sydney someone to talk with when she’s not at work. Instead, they have a life of their own; a life that is vitally important to the show, with intrigues that really drive the show’s emotion. In season two, Will (Bradley Cooper) gets a bigger roll, and it’s plausible and exciting. Francie (Merrin Dungey) even gets in on the act. These “smaller characters,” and many others, are used and developed throughout the show, an idea that other television shows can learn from.

Season two also features more humor, and this can only mean one thing. Yep, more Marshall. Lots more. This character, played perfectly by Kevin Weisman, adds the much-needed comic relief to the show, and at times, he’s outright hilarious. Add some subtle humor provided by Will, Vaughn, Weiss (Greg Grunberg), and even Jack, and you have some great stuff.

Image result for alias phase one

But that doesn’t mean this season turns its back on the bread and butter of the series. If anything, the action and excitement have multiplied. Sydney goes on 33 missions, many with counter-missions for the CIA. That’s an awful lot of action and suspense for 22 one-hour episodes. Lena Olin joins the cast as Sydneys Mother who turns her self into the CIA, and it becomes a question of can she be trusted.

In the episode Phase One the entire Alias world is  turned upside down, beginning with the mysterious disappearance of Sloane that brings Anthony Geiger, the new head of SD-6 into Jack and Sydney’s life. As the Bristows struggle to stay one step ahead of having their secret blown wide open by Geiger, Will and Francie make a startling discovery of their own as she prepares to open her new restaurant. After an airborne mission to recover something called a Server 47 dive, Sydney uncovers a crucial weakness, one that could bring down the entire Alliance. But to put her plan into action, she must tell Dixon the truth about everything when Jack is captured, and Dixon has to make the decision to reveal the security code… enabling the CIA to launch a world-wide offensive against all SD cells to bring down. This allows Sydney to no longer be a double agent and just work for the CIA to take down Sloane.

The third season of Alias continues to bring an interesting mix of high-paced and intense action, drama, mystery, and suspense. This season picks up right at the end of the second season. For that reason, if you’ve missed the earlier seasons in this series, you should most definitely check them out before viewing the third season.


In the third season, the show focuses upon a major mystery, covering the details about Sydney Bristow’s past. At the end of the second season, she awakens without memory of the last two years. This season uncovers the truth of those missing two years and the truth is far from what Bristow expected. There are also some stories that touch upon the previous seasons. But it’s not specifically these stories that make the season entertaining, but rather the characters.

The cast of the previous season is the same, with the addition of Lauren Reed (Melissa George). But since this season is set two years after the previous season, the characters return with slightly different roles. Nothing is the way it was before. I enjoyed this change, because it gave this season a slightly different pace from the previous seasons. There’s also a lot of focus on these characters, which give new insights, making old enemies friends, and friends enemies. In a few cases, old enemies who became friends once again become enemies, which shouldn’t be too much of an eye-opener. This is done in a manner that makes it almost difficult to like or trust most of the cast. For this reason, you’re repeatedly left in suspense, wondering if this character will backstab our hero or someone close to her.

Some of the stories covered a sordid and twisted love affair. There’s also the introduction of the National Security Council’s (NSC) involvement with daily interactions of the CIA. This adds an interesting development, simply because the CIA and NSC do not always “play” well together. It’s your basic struggle for power. There’s also the development of older characters with new faces. The big bad guy of the previous two seasons, Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin) isn’t such a bad guy anymore. The development of his character adds a new layer of mistrust. With the earlier seasons seeing the major terrorist organization in the can, some new faceless bad guys have surfaced. It’s no surprise that the weasel of the earlier seasons, Julian Sark (David Anders) makes his bed with them. This pretty much gives the season a purpose to continue. Someone has to stop them and it might as well be Sydney and her friends at the CIA.

Image result for alias the two

The third season of Alias brings another strong season, filled with action, drama, and suspense for the fans. It’s pretty much extension of the previous seasons, with a few subtle changes to the overall format. The character roles are slightly different and there are new faces, new bad guys, new missions, and new gadgets. I found that it was solid with plenty of entertainment.

In season four we see the cast Alias come back together as one happy family. In the earlier seasons the cast worked together in an odd mish of double agents between SD6 and CIA. Now we find them all working together on the same team for a black ops CIA organization called APO, which stands for Authorized Personnel Only. It is an odd arrangement to see Sidney, Jack, Vaughn, Weiss, Marshall, Dixon, and a few others working along side each other and under the command of none other than Sloane.

The first two episodes “Authorized Personnel Only” parts 1 and 2 has the cast being put back together with Sloane acting as director, Jack the second in command, Marshall in charge of tech, and Sydney in the field with Dixon. Vaughn and Weiss also return to take a more active role. No longer are they the voice behind the microphone as we have seen them in the past. Instead we find them along side Sydney and Dixon more often than not. There is also an episode when Marshall gets put in the field and the combination of his comical geeky personality and the high pace seriousness of the situation make it pretty entertaining to see him working along side Sydney in this fashion. The major addition to the cast this season is Nadia Santos, who was introduced at the end of season 3 as Sydney’s half-sister (Sloane and Irena’s daughter) in season three. She joins the rest of the crew working for APO.

There is still plenty of action, suspense, and drama to keep you tuned in. This season uses the same tact previous seasons do, plenty of misdirection and dramatic shifts. The episodes do well keeping the characters, whether from the main cast or supporting roles, hard to make out. You just can’t tell if they are good or bad. Their loyalties seem to shift enough throughout the stories to keep you second guessing who will betray who and whether or not the betrayal really happened. Mix that well worked angle of suspense with plenty of action, some corny drama, and the ever-so-goofy Marshall and you’ve a pretty exciting addition to the Alias series.

Since Nadia is a new character, a majority of the season is about her relationship forming with the rest of the cast. It is a slightly odd setup as Sydney is her step-sister, Sloane is her father, and Jack is the man who was married to her mother. The back stories that tie into Nadia are. She becomes an integral part to the Rambaldi dream and there are a few other great tie-ins to other stories. The Rambaldi story found in the previous seasons comes to the fore and plays a big role in the season with the Derevko sisters acting as the villains. There are also familiar faces like Sark and Doren who make several appearances. We also see another back story with Vaughn trying to unravel mysteries about his father. This season has many other stories to keep you hooked and they do a pretty good job at building suspense and leaving you on the edge of your seat!

Season five sees several changes in the cast and how APO does their business. First off, Vaughn leaves the show. In season four’s cliffhanger, it was revealed that Vaughn was not exactly who he said he was. He was someone named Andre Michaux. Vaughn has a back story that ties into the bigger picture. After the season premiere, his character disappears after being shot several times in the chest by agents from the Shed, a rogue operation that is similar to SD-6 in nature. Another change is Weiss. While he has been a main character for the past two seasons, in the early parts of season five announces he was offered a job in Washington, D.C. heading covert ops for the NSC. He decides to take the job. Without Vaughn and Weiss, some new faces are brought into APO to replacement them.

There are two new characters in APO. Thomas Grace (Balthazar Getty) joins the cast in the season’s second episode. Grace is not your average going guy. He is tough, has a temper, and we first meet him as he is getting his ass kicked in a bar fight. Everyone in APO is hesitant to accept him into their ranks. Grace has his own back story that includes his family and an assassin. Rachel is a computer genius who has been in a situation much like Sydney. She has been working for the Shed, a criminal organization that pretends it is a black ops division of the CIA. Rachel had been working with the impression she was on the good guy’s side. When she found out the Shed was not part of the real CIA, she turned coat. Rachel and Sydney connect on a personal level, because Sydney understands the torment she is going through.

Another new face to this season is a well-known criminal named Renee Rienne (Elodie Bouchez). She is number eight on the CIA’s most wanted list. Vaughn has been working with her to gain information about his father and Prophet Five, which is the main season five storyline. Renee unofficially works with APO in their efforts against Prophet Five. Her back story ties directly into Prophet Five and she has sworn on her life to see it end. Kelly Peyton (Amy Acker) is the final addition to the season five line up. In the later half of the season, she is listed as a main character. Kelly worked with Rachel at the Shed under Gordon Dean. While Rachel did not know about the Shed’s true intentions, Kelly did. She is a bad girl.
As for the storylines, the season five introduces Prophet Five, which is filled with lots of mysterious and intrigue tied into all of the old and new players. Prophet Five is a criminal organization that is much like the Alliance. It houses smaller cells like the Shed. The APO team sets their sights on Prophet Five and stopping them from reaching their endgame. Another interesting aspect that continues to bring intrigue to the show is Sloane and his story. In season four, he was imprisoned for his crimes. He cuts a deal with some bad guys to be a mole in APO, which continue to give his character intrigue as you never know whose best interests he has in mind. Other storylines revolve around the characters, Rachel getting accustomed to her new life as an APO field agent, Grace fitting into the group, Sydney overcoming the loss of Vaughn and being pregnant.