REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 26-28

CAST

Dan Castellaneta (Super 8)
Julie Kavner  (Dr. Dolittle)
Yeardley Smith (Dead Like Me)
Nancy Cartwright (Kim Possible)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Recess)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Russi Taylor (Babe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Sarah Silverman (School of Rock)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Jackie Mason (Caddyshack II)
David Hyde Pierce (Hellboy)
John Ratzenberger (Toy Story)
Jane Fonda (Barbarella)
John DiMaggio (Adventure Time)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Katey Sagal (Married With Children)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Billy West (Doug)
Maggie Roswell (Pretty In Pink)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Will Forte (The Cleveland Show)
Stacy Keach (Two and a Half Men)
Eion Musk (The Big Bang Theory)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Christopher Lloyd (Piranha 2D)
Richard Branson (Superman Returns)
Yaya DaCosta (Tron Legacy)
Jon Lovitz (Big)
R. Lee Ermey (Seven)
Cat Deeley  (Deadbeat)
Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Carice Van Houten (Game of Thrones)
Albert Brooks (Drive)
Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds)
Johnny Mathis  (Lizzie)
Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Lena Dunham  (Girls)
Edward James Olmos (The Green Hornet)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Stephen Merchant (Logan)
Kaitlin Olson (The Heat)
Sofia Vergara (Machete Kills)
Natalie Maines  (Grand Champion)
Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters)
Michael York (Logans Run)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Jay Leno (Family Guy)
Amy Schumer (Trainwreck)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Michael Chiklis (Gotham)
Dana Gould (Gex)
Natasha Lyonne (American Pie)
Charles Barkley (Thunderstruck)
Common (Wanted)
Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures)
Keegan-Michael Key (The Lego Movie Movie)
RZA (Californication)
Snoop Dogg (Pitch Perfect 2)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Patton Oswalt (Dollhouse)
Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls)
Michael Sheen (Passengers)
Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Jennifer Saunders (Coraline)
Valerie Harper (Rhoda)

592024-338Two and a half decades on, the show’s status as a comedy classic remains untarnished, which is testament to the genius of its creator.

SEASON 26 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

26.1) CLOWN IN THE DUMPS

After being offended by a comedy cable channel roast of him, Krusty goes to his father for advice, only to have him die before he can say whether or not he found his son funny, causing Krusty to decide to retire. Meanwhile, fear of losing her own father causes Lisa to try to protect Homer from getting hurt in any way.26.2) THE WRECK OF THE RELATIONSHIP

Homer is tired of Bart not respecting him, so he attempts to parent Bart, by forcing him to eat broccoli. This goes nowhere, so Marge signs them up for the Relation Ship to solve their problems. Meanwhile, while Homer’s away, Marge takes over his Fantasy Football league. On board the Relation Ship, Homer does not enjoy sea life while Bart excels at sailing and becomes mid shipman, much to Homer’s dismay. Homer continues to disrespect his son’s new ship role until he eventually eats a piece of broccoli.26.3) SUPER FRANCHISE ME

After her sandwiches become popular at Springfield Elementary, Marge opens a sandwich store. It becomes a huge success, until the same franchise opens another store right across the street.26.5) OPPOSITES-A-FRACK

When Mr. Burns starts a fracking operation, Lisa brings National Assemblywoman Maxine Lombard to put a stop to it, only to have Burns and Lombard fall in love.26.6) SIMPSORAMA

In a crossover with Futurama, when a time capsule containing a sandwich with Bart’s germs in it, Milhouse’s rabbit’s foot, and radioactive ooze causes a catastrophe in the future, the Planet Express crew comes to present-day Springfield to stop the Simpsons from creating the mess in the first place.26.10) THE MAN WHO CAME TO BE DINNER

The Simpson family attend a trip to an amusement park named Dizneeland, where they go on a ride called “Rocket to Your Doom” and accidentally end up on Rigel 7, the home planet of Kang and Kodos.26.11) BART’S NEW FRIEND

Homer goes to a hypnotist and ends up believing he is ten years old. However, when the hypnotist is arrested, Homer becomes stuck in his new age, so he bonds with Bart and refuses entry back into the responsibilities of adulthood.26.12) THE MUSK WHO FELL TO EARTH

Elon Musk arrives in Springfield, where he and Homer become fast friends, but Musk soon incurs the wrath of Mr. Burns when his ideas become over-the-top, prompting Homer to try to end their friendship.26.14) MY FARE LADY

Marge becomes a chauffeur after she grows tired of chauffeuring her own kids around. Meanwhile, Moe becomes the Nuclear Power Plant’s janitor.26.15) THE PRINCESS GUIDE

A Nigerian princess named Kemi comes to Springfield, as her father intends to work out a uranium deal with Mr. Burns, and Homer is chosen to protect her. Moe, having recently lost his money to a Nigerian prince, believes Kemi must be related to the scammer, but soon starts falling for her.26.17) WAITING FOR DUFFMAN

When Duffman undergoes hip replacement surgery following an injury during a parade and retires, Duff Beer’s owner Howard K. Duff VII sets up a reality show presented by Cat Deeley in order to find his replacement. The competition is fierce until only Homer Simpson and one other competitor remained.64026.18) PEEPING MOM

Returning home with Maggie from errands, Marge discovers that a part of Springfield is now totally destroyed. As Chief Wiggum announces that Bart could be the culprit, Bart says that he was not involved at all in the incident. This prompts Marge to follow him everywhere until he confesses. Meanwhile, Homer meets Flanders’s dog named Baz.26.20) LET’S GO FLY A COOT

Bart begins using an E-cigarette to impress Milhouse’s cousin Annika. Meanwhile, the rest of the family learn about Grampa’s days in the U.S. Air Force.26.21) BULL-E

When Bart is bullied after a school dance, Marge gets the city to adopt a tough anti-bullying law that gets Homer arrested when Rod and Todd claim that he’s bullying Ned, but is Ned willing to turn the other cheek this time?HRHTRHRTHRTIt’s hilarious, comedy, funny, and one of my all time favourite T.V showS .. The series is a satirical depiction of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture, society, television, and many aspects of the human condition. Modern Simpsons episodes are often both overstuffed and under-imagined, resulting in two indifferent, inadequately realized stories. Even though the show has dropped in creativity and in the joke department, it’s still worthy.960

SEASON 27 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

27.1) EVERY MAN’S DREAM

Homer and Marge go through a trial separation, during which Homer dates a pharmacist.27.3) PUFFLESS

Jacqueline decides to reveal the truth: her husband died because of lung cancer, but didn’t say so before because back then, people were reluctant to admit it. This revelation shocks Patty and Selma, who decide to quit smoking once and for all and burn all their cigarettes, which unfortunately causes Jacqueline’s house to burn down. However, Selma’s relapse causes an angry Patty to move in with Marge and Homer. Meanwhile, when Maggie makes some new animal friends, she must go on a rescue mission when one of them is taken by Cletus.27.6) FRIEND WITH BENEFIT

Lisa becomes friends with a rich girl named Harper, whose father becomes friends with Homer, but Lisa becomes concerned that Harper is a little too entitled.27.7) LISA WITH AN ‘S

Homer loses $5,000 that he doesn’t have in a poker bet, and is forced to loan Lisa out to Broadway star Laney Fontaine to pay back his debt. Marge and Homer later realize they’ve made a terrible mistake and must go to New York to retrieve Lisa.27.8) PATHS OF GLORY

Lisa tries to better the reputation of Springfield’s first female inventor by searching an asylum for her first invention. While in the asylum, she and Bart find a sociopath’s notebook, causing Bart to take the notebook home and pretend to be the sociopath that wrote it.27.10) THE GIRL CODE

When Homer loses his job due to Marge’s social media post, he begins working as a dishwasher at a Greek restaurant. Meanwhile, Lisa creates an app that can predict the effect any post on social media will have.27.11) TEENAGE MUTANT MILK-CAUSED HURDLES

Bart experiences early puberty after drinking a milk substitute filled with bad hormones, and ends up competing with Skinner for the affections of his new teacher, Mrs. Berrera.27.14) GAL OF CONSTANT SORROW

Bart and Lisa take in a homeless woman to live with them, where they discover that she is a talented folk singer. Meanwhile, Homer accidentally traps the cat in the walls of the house.27.16) THE MARGE-IAN CHRONICLES

Lisa signs up for the Mars One Space Colony, and Marge comes along to try and talk her out of it.27.17) THE BURNS CAGE

After Smithers is crushed by Mr. Burns’ lack of affection towards him, other characters attempt to find a boyfriend for him. Meanwhile, Milhouse competes against a new boy for the lead role in a school production of Casablanca, so he can act alongside his own unrequited love, Lisa.27.20) TO COURIER WITH LOVE

The Simpson family goes on a trip to Paris, and Homer becomes the courier of a secret briefcase.27.21) SIMPROVISED

After messing up a speech at work, Homer tries improv comedy. Meanwhile, Marge helps rebuild Bart’s treehouse. For the last three minutes of the episode, Homer does a live Q&A for fans on the East/West Coast.27.22) ORANGE IS THE NEW YELLOW

Marge gets arrested after Bart goes to the park unsupervised, which leaves Homer struggling to manage the household.

The-Simpsons-S28-PosterI absolutely love this show. It’s one of my all-time favourite TV shows. Ever. It’s so funny, and it keeps getting better and better. There is a reason why it has been going for as long as it has been.

SEASON 28 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

28.1) MONTY BURNS’ FLEEING CIRCUS

Mr. Burns puts on a variety show at the Springfield Bowl in exchange for rebuilding the town, after it’s burned to the ground. However, when the event brings back bad memories for the old man who bombed when he first performed there 100 years ago, Burns tries to muster up the courage to perform again in an effort to redeem himself.28.2) FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Homer finds a new friend in a woman who acts just like him, while Mr. Burns’ search for a clan to play his virtual-reality family leads him to hire Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, since Burns intends to play the father.28.5) TRUST BUT CLARIFY

Bart and Lisa investigate Krusty’s new “Krustaceans” candy, while Homer asks Marge to help him dress for a promotion at the nuclear plant and Kent Brockman deals with the changing media world.28.7) HAVANA WILD WEEKEND

The Simpsons go to Cuba to get Grampa cheap medical care, since the retirement home and the V.A. hospital can’t solve his health issues.28.8) DAD BEHAVIOR

Homer discovers a new app that makes his life easier, and Grampa learns he’s going to be a father again.28.11) PORK AND BURNS

Marge is inspired by a Japanese book on minimalism to adapt to a new way of living, so the Simpsons have to part with items that no longer bring them joy, which includes Homer finding a new home for the family pig, Plopper.28.12/13) THE GREAT PHATSBY PARTS 1 & 2

Mr. Burns plots revenge against the music mogul who conned him with help from the mogul’s ex-wife, rapper Jazzy James, Homer, and Bart.28.14) FATZCARRALDO

When all the fast food restaurants in Springfield become healthy, Homer is forced to turn to chili dogs for comfort. Meanwhile, Lisa tries to save the school radio station.28.16) KAMP KRUSTLER

Bart and Lisa return from Kamp Krusty, both traumatized. Meanwhile, Homer becomes a more productive worker.28.18) A FATHER’S WATCH

Marge goes to parenting experts for advice when she thinks that Bart is on the road to failure. Following their advice, Homer opens a trophy store.28.19) CAPER CHASE

Mr. Burns opens a for-profit university, with Homer as one of its professors.28.20) LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBART

Bart spends time with Principal Skinner’s mother, Agnes. Meanwhile, Homer and Lisa get addicted to Peekimon Get.28.22) DOGTOWN

After a legal issue, dogs become more important than humans, after which they start to take over the town.656UEven in the later seasons The Simpsons showed it still has staying power

 

REVIEW: GOOD OMENS

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)

Starring

David Tennant (Mary Queen of Scots)
Michael Sheen (Passengers)
Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland)
Jon Hamm (Baby Driver)
Josie Lawrence (Humans)
Lourdes Faberes (Knightfall)
Adria Arjona (Life of The Party)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Jack Whitehall (Bad Education)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Mireille Enos (Hanna TV)
Yusuf Gatewood (The Originals)
Brian Cox (Rise of TPOA)
Reece Shearsmith (Stag)
Nina Sosanya (Marcella)
Ned Dennehy (Peaky Blinders)
Ariyon Bakare (Rogue One)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Grinch)
Steve Pemberton (Psychoville)
Mark Gatiss (Game of Thrones)
Nick Offerman (The Lego Movie 2)
Daniel Mays (The Bank Job)
Sian Brooke (Sherlock)
Simon Merrells (Legends of Tomorrow)
Susan Brown (Game of Thrones)
Paul Kaye (Anna and the Apocalypse)
David Morrissey (The Walking Dead)

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)Once upon a time, Good Omens was considered unadaptable. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s sprawling, 400-page fantasy novel was notorious within the film and TV industries. Screenwriters turned their noses up at the project, and various attempts over the years to bring page to screen ended in disappointment. However, an adaptation of the unadaptable proved to be Pratchett’s last request to his co-author before he died in 2015, and Gaiman set about writing the screenplay for what would become an epic six-part BBC/Amazon co-production.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)So first things first: was the unadaptable, well, adaptable, after all? The short answer is, yes. Gaiman — also showrunner on the series — has pulled off a colourful, quirky, funny, poignant (although not entirely flawless) feat. One might even suspect there’s been a spot of divine (or devilish) intervention… The true triumph is the casting. Michael Sheen shines (quite literally, in some scenes) as the angel Aziraphale, a celestial field agent who teams up with his opposite number, the stylish demon Crowley — played with a Bill Nighy-esque swagger by David Tennant — in order to prevent Armageddon.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)It’s this pairing that proves to be the beating heart of the series. Crowley and Aziraphale have been on Earth since the very beginning, and in their own ways they’ve both “gone native”. Aziraphale owns a Soho bookshop, and likes gravlax salmon with dill sauce. Crowley drives a pristine 1926 Bentley and listens to Queen. They’ve formed a professional agreement not to meddle in each other’s affairs, and in their spare time they’ve enjoyed a series of rather nice clandestine lunches. Every time either actor appears onscreen, you can almost hear the costume department’s (and fandom’s) squeals of joy. David Tennant in snakeskin boots! Michael Sheen with artfully tousled bleached hair! A tartan bow tie! Tennant also sports appropriately flame-red hair (not in the books, but worth it for Doctor Who fans’ realisation that the Tenth Doctor finally got his wish) that frequently changes style. In one particularly memorable moment during episode one, Crowley disguises himself as a bobbed-haired nanny, a Satanic crossover between Nanny McPhee and Mrs Doubtfire.good-omensHe and Aziraphale have a teasing, love/hate relationship that fans of the book have shipped for almost two decades. Gaiman has since promised that “the TV series gets deeper into Crowley and Aziraphale’s relationship,” and some viewers will be hoping that that will translate into a burgeoning romance. Certainly in episode one, Aziraphale seems rather overexcited at the prospect of he and Crowley becoming joint “godfathers” to the infant Antichrist, whose arrival on Earth threatens to catalyse the apocalypse. Gabriel has bright purple irises in the series, a nod to Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary lilac eyes according to the show’s companion book, The Nice and Accurate Good Omens TV Companion. However, as anyone who’s worn thick coloured lenses for Halloween and lived to tell the tale will know, the effect is rather distracting and painful to look at, as are Crowley’s reptilian yellow eyes (thankfully hidden away under trendy shades for much of the show). Gabriel barely appears in the book, and he’s a welcome and much-needed addition to the series: someone to put the proverbial heat on Aziraphale.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)Various sets are also new for the TV show: Heaven is now a vast corporate headquarters, while Hell resembles an overcrowded basement office. A rather gloomier version of The IT Crowd, if you will. Some of the show’s special effects can feel a bit hammy (think Russell T Davies-era Doctor Who with a couple of rubber frogs thrown in), but the scene depicting the entrances to both Heaven and Hell features a pretty cool bit of cinematography, including a mirror effect and an upside-down Tennant. However, despite the addition of characters like Gabriel, much of the show remains doggedly faithful to the books. Reams of dialogue are almost word-for-word during episode one, to the extent that there are certain moments and scenes where one feels that the show’s pace has been sacrificed in favour of preserving the ‘voice’ of the book. Of course, it’s understandable given the circumstances — Gaiman has spoken about the pressure to protect Pratchett’s narrative creations in his absence. For example, he made sure that one of Pratchett’s characters, the 17th century witch Agnes Nutter, remained in the show despite calls to replace her (and an expensive, explosive period shoot) with a series of woodcuts.good-omens-key-art-600x314In Agnes’s case, it makes sense to preserve her: her spookily accurate prophecies drive much of the plot and predict the present-day apocalypse. But there are chunks of God’s narration (voiced by Oscar-winner Frances McDormand) that feel a bit laboured. Some sections, like the bit about demons’ talents for “lurking” around graveyards, must have read well on the page in that distinctive Terry/Neil voice, but in reality they fall rather flat — much like a certain angel’s misguided attempts to pull a rabbit out of a top hat at a children’s birthday party. At the end of the day, however (and according to Agnes Nutter, there aren’t many more days left), the series is a love letter to the book, combining Gaiman and Pratchett’s brilliant characterisation and quippy jokes with vivid, gorgeous sets and memorable costumes.

 

 

REVIEW: FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD

Starring

Carey Mulligan (Drive)
Matthias Schoenaerts (Red Sparrow)
Michael Sheen (Passengers)
Tom Sturridge (On The Road)
Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jessica Barden (Penny Dreadful)
Sam Phillips (The Syndicate)

Matthias Schoenaerts and Carey Mulligan in Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)The film is set in about 1870 in Britain. While Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) is working on her aunt’s farm in Dorset, she meets a neighbouring farmer, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts). As they get to know one another, he proposes, but the headstrong Bathsheba declines, saying she is too independent. One night a new sheepdog chases Gabriel’s entire flock off a cliff. After settling his debts, he is penniless, and leaves in search of work. In contrast, Bathsheba inherits a farm from her uncle and leaves to take charge of it.Matthias Schoenaerts and Juno Temple in Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)While at a fair trying to find employment, Gabriel sees recruiting officers. A girl, Fanny Robin, points out one of the soldiers, Sergeant Frank Troy, her sweetheart. She suggests Gabriel seek employment at a farm in Weatherbury. Gabriel arrives to find several buildings on fire and saves the barn from destruction. At dawn the next day he is introduced to the farm’s new mistress, Bathsheba, who hires him as a shepherd. In the meantime, Fanny goes to the wrong church for her wedding and Troy, apparently jilted, is devastated.Michael Sheen and Carey Mulligan in Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)While in town trading her seed, Bathsheba sees her neighbour William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor. Bathsheba sends Boldwood a Valentine as a joke, and he, both offended and intrigued, soon proposes marriage. Bathsheba delays giving him a final answer, and Gabriel admonishes her for toying with Boldwood’s affections. She is stung by his criticism, and fires him, but the next day, given a crisis with the sheep that only he can manage, she goes after him and successfully persuades him to return.Matthias Schoenaerts and Carey Mulligan in Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)One night while out walking, Bathsheba meets Frank Troy, who expresses admiration for her; the next day he returns to help with the harvest. He flirts with Bathsheba and arranges a secret meeting. At their rendezvous in the woods, he shows off his swordplay, telling her not to flinch as he swings his sword around her head and body. He embraces her passionately and Bathsheba is left in a daze. Gabriel warns her against Troy, but she elopes with him. Returning to the farm, the newly married couple celebrate with all the workers and Troy begins to show his worse side. When Gabriel seeks help to protect the hayricks from an approaching storm, Troy, belligerent and drunk, refuses to take him seriously. Gabriel single-handedly tries to cover the harvest with tarpaulins and Bathsheba, ashamed of Frank’s drunken behaviour, comes out into the stormy weather to help. Chastened, she tells Gabriel that she was a fool to fall prey to Frank’s flattery.Tom Sturridge and Carey Mulligan in Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)One day in town, Troy sees Fanny begging. She tells him of her error on their wedding day, and reveals that she is pregnant. He sends her to the workhouse while promising to take care of her. When he asks Bathsheba for £20, she refuses, having become annoyed at his gambling. Fanny and her baby die in childbirth; their coffin is delivered to Bathsheba’s farm, Fanny’s last known address. The words “Fanny Robin and child” are on the coffin, but Gabriel surreptitiously erases “and child” while bringing it in. Bathsheba recognises Fanny’s name, notices the erasure, opens the coffin, and discovers the mother and baby within. When Troy returns, he bends over the coffin and kisses Fanny’s lips. When Bathsheba protests, he responds that even in death Fanny means more to him than Bathsheba ever could. In grief he goes to the beach, where he strips off his uniform and swims far into the ocean; everyone believes he has drowned.Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)Left with Frank’s gambling debts, Bathsheba worries she may lose the farm. Boldwood offers to buy it and merge it with his property, offering Gabriel a position as bailiff, and again proposes marriage. Bathsheba agrees to consider his offer. On the eve of the Christmas party he plans to throw, Boldwood tells Gabriel that he is aware of the Gabriel’s feelings for Bathsheba, and shows Gabriel the engagement ring he plans to offer her. At the party, Boldwood graciously invites Gabriel and Bathsheba to dance together; she again asks Gabriel what she should do, and he answers that she should “Do what is right”. Leaving the dance, she discovers Troy, outside, alive and well. Having been rescued from drowning, he has faked his death for some weeks. He demands money from Bathsheba, claiming it was unfair that he gave up his profession and now lives off nothing while she has money and a house. Frank grabs her roughly, screaming that she is still his wife and must obey him. Enraged, Boldwood emerges from the house and kills Frank with a single blast from his rifle, for which he is promptly imprisoned. Gabriel reassures Bathsheba her that if it’s any consolation Boldwood is bound to be spared his life, for acting in a ‘crime of passion’.Tom Sturridge and Carey Mulligan in Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)Some time later, Gabriel announces that since the farm is now secure, he’ll be emigrating to America in four days time. As he leaves on foot early in the morning, Bathsheba chases after him on horseback and begs him not to leave, thanking him for all he’s done for her, and always believing in her. Gabriel tells her, if only she would accept his love, then asks her if she would agree were he to propose again. Bathsheba smiles and tells him he needs ask but once more. Gabriel kisses her passionately in response, and they walk back hand in handCarey Mulligan in Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)Far from the Madding Crowd, a well respected novel with an adaptation already to its name, hasn’t got much new ground to cover. This 2015 film, starring Carey Mulligan, upholds the book’s reputation. Bathsheba (Mulligan) is a headstrong farm owner who meets three possible suiters in a short space of time; Gabriel the farmer, William the nobleman and Frank the soldier. All bear distinctive qualities. All wish Bathsheba to marry them the moment they lay eyes on her. FftMC favours one man over the rest. We’re smitten before even given the chance to decide. Mulligan’s the charismatic, leading lady, making decisions that come at a price. Schoenaerts, Sturridge and Sheen add flavour to this period drama, their personalities and dialogue capturing what action cannot.

REVIEW: UNDERWORLD 3: RISE OF THE LYCANS

underworld 3

CAST

Rhona Mitra (Shooter)
Michael Sheen (Kingdom of Heaven)
Bill Nighy (Wrath of The Titans)
Steven Mackintosh (Kick-Ass 2)
Kevin Grevioux (I, Frankenstein)
Elizabeth Hawthrone (Cleopatra 2525)
Mark Mitchinson (Power Rangers Dino Supercharge)
Tania Nolan (Step Dave)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Jared Turner (30 Days of Night)
Kate Beckinsale (Total Recall)
Shane Brolly (Spread)
Jason Hood (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Mark Mitchinson (Filthy Rich NZ)

The film tells the story of Lucian, the first werewolf born capable of taking human form and the first to be called a Lycan. Viktor, a vampire elder, raises the child, and envisions a race of Lycan slaves that could guard the coven’s fortress during the day and be used as laborers by the vampires at night. The forests and the countryside are indeed filled with savage werewolves born from William’s rampage, and human nobles have taken to asking Viktor for protection against the beasts, protection Viktor grants in exchange for a tribute of silver, with which to keep his slaves under control. As Lucian grows up, he and Viktor’s daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra) fall in love and begin a secretive intimate relationship in their adult years. Sonja is reckless and insubordinate, and one night Lucian escapes and rescues Sonja from his werewolf brethren. Viktor, despite acknowledging that Lucian saved his daughter, cannot forgive the escape and locks Lucian away.eacd25dc-2102-4b51-bca1-ad171b740118With the help of Andreas Tanis, Sonja orchestrates Lucian’s release in exchange for her seat on the vampire council. Lucian, unable to flee alone, decides to escape after liberating all of the other Lycans. Sonja remains behind but will meet Lucian in three days. While preparing to leave she is visited by her father. Viktor asks if she assisted in Lucian’s escape, and although she denies it, he discovers the real truth after biting her neck and reading her memories through her blood. Discovering her relationship with Lucian, he then imprisons her. Meanwhile, in the forest, Lucian recruits both human slaves and werewolves to form a force against the vampires. In the fortress, the vampire council and nobles demand that Viktor recapture Lucian, as his Lycans have been attacking human estates and freeing their slaves and offering them immortality as Lycans themselves. Viktor replies that he is confident Lucian will return as he has something Lucian wants, Sonja.MV5BM2Y1MTNjODYtZGNkNi00NzhjLTliNTAtYmViOGRiNWM1NmJhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUyNDk2ODc@._V1_Lucian learns about Sonja’s imprisonment and eventually rescues her from her room but they are stopped from escaping by Viktor. Sonja, hoping to spare Lucian’s life, reveals to Viktor that she is pregnant with Lucian’s child. Disgusted, Viktor overpowers her and imprisons both her and Lucian. Sonja is unanimously sentenced to death by the council at a trial presided over by her father, and is executed by exposure to sunlight in Lucian’s presence. Viktor later visits her body and retrieves her pendant.

Lucian tries to escape the fortress but his attempt is thwarted by the Death Dealers; Lucian, now able to communicate with and control the wild werewolves, summons them to storm the fortress. In the melee, the Vampire Council members are killed along with their aides and lesser vampire nobles. When realizing that Viktor intends to flee, Lucian pursues him, and they fight. Lucian manages to trap Viktor by exposing him to shafts of sunlight and then stabs Viktor through the mouth with a sword and pushes his body down into a nearby body of water. With the battle over, Lucian’s deputy Raze declares that “it is finished”, but Lucian realizes this victory is only the beginning of what will become a war between the races.

The film’s coda reveals that Viktor has survived his wound, has made it onto a vampire ship fleeing the fortress, and is sealed into an elder hibernation chamber by Tanis. Also, the opening scene of the first Underworld film is shown, with the voice of vampire Kraven (Shane Brolly) revealing to Selene (Kate Beckinsale) that Viktor had killed her family, not the Lycans, but had spared her life because she reminded him of his executed daughter Sonja; Selene, unaware of the truth, dismisses Kraven’s statement as “lies”.This film fills in some gaps, most of which we didn’t know existed until this film. This stands alone as a pretty good film,. When you view this as part of the trilogy it considerably increases the viewer experience. Sheen and Nighy impress, Sheen is a hero without being too heroic, and Nighy is superbly creepy. The blood spurting action is there, but there’s a meaningful story too.

REVIEW: UNDERWORLD 2: EVOLUTION

CAST

Kate Beckinsale (Total Recall)
Scott Speedman (The Vow)
Bill Nighy (Wrath of The Titans)
Tony Curran (Gladiator)
Derek Jacobi (The King’s Speech)
Sophia Myles (Transformers 4)
Steven Mackintosh (Kick-Ass 2)
Shane Brolly (Spread)
Briane Steele (Hellboy)
Zita Gorog (8mm 2)
Michael Sheen (Kingdom of Heaven)
John Mann (Dark Angel)
Sean Rogerson (Grave Encounters)
Adrian Hough (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Andrew Kavadas (Ninja Turtles@ The Next Mutation)
Michasha Armstrong (Chaos)

In 1202, an army led by the three vampire elders (Markus, Viktor, and Amelia) arrives at a Lycan-ravaged village. Viktor and Amelia capture their target, Markus’ brother, William Corvinus, the first and most powerful werewolf. Despite Markus’ defiance, Viktor orders that William be imprisoned in a secret location forever.

In the present day, vampire Selene takes Michael to a safe house so that she can confront the vampire regent Kraven; she knows that Kraven intends to kill Markus and plans to stop him. However, Markus has awakened before Kraven arrives. Markus kills Kraven and his men. Lorenz Macaro, an elderly man, sends in a team of “cleaners” to investigate the aftermath from the battle in the Lycans’ lair. When Lorenz Macaro examines Viktor’s corpse he finds a metal disc inside it which is the match to a pendant originally worn by Sonja. The other half of the pendant is now possessed by Selene and Michael after the deaths of Viktor and Lucian.

Markus tracks Selene and Michael down and attacks them, but they evade him and hide in a warehouse. There, Selene and Michael share their feelings and have passionate sex together. Now knowing that the pendant is important to Markus, Michael and Selene set out to discover why Markus wants it. Selene recalls that she saw it as a child, but does not know its significance. They travel to the hideout of the exiled vampire historian Andreas Tanis who reveals that Markus was the first vampire; one of the three sons of Alexander Corvinus, the first immortal. Markus was bitten by a bat and became a vampire, while his twin brother William was bitten by a wolf and became a werewolf. The third son remained human and gave rise to a line of mortal descendants including Michael who became the first Lycan–Vampire hybrid. The first werewolves created by William were entirely animal and unable to assume human form. Due to William’s destructiveness, Markus approached Viktor, who was a dying mortal warlord at the time, and offered to turn him and his army into immortal vampires in exchange for tracking down and stopping William, and in destroying those he had infected.

Viktor did not kill the brothers because he was deceived by Markus into believing that doing so would result in the immediate extinction of all other vampires and his Lycan slaves. Tanis reveals that Selene’s father was the architect who built William’s prison and that the pendant is the key. Viktor killed Selene’s family as they knew the prison’s location, but turned Selene into a vampire so the memory of the prison’s location would be kept in her blood. Tanis then refers Selene and Michael to Macaro for help. After Selene and Michael leave Tanis’ residence, Markus arrives and drinks Tanis’ blood to learn Selene and Michael’s location, killing Tanis.

Selene and Michael visit Macaro and discover that he actually is Alexander Corvinus. Alexander reveals that he has devoted his entire immortal life to keeping the Vampire-Lycan war a secret. However, he refuses to assist Selene in killing his sons. Then Markus arrives, impaling Michael and learns the location of William’s prison by drinking Selene’s blood. He mortally wounds his father and obtains the other half of the pendant, after deriding his father’s refusal to help William and revealing that he intends with William to rule the world as the god-like master of a race of vampire-Lycan hybrids. On Alexander’s bidding, Selene drinks his blood, enhancing her physical strength and healing abilities to a level equivalent to that of a hybrid. Afterwards, Alexander blows up his ship, killing himself.

Selene, aboard Corvinus’ helicopter, leads his cleaners to the prison to confront and destroy Markus, but he has already freed William. A battle ensues in which William bites the cleaners who, as a result, are turned into werewolves. Michael, who is presumed to be dead and is carried aboard the helicopter, regenerates and joins the fight in his hybrid form, killing William by ripping his head off. Selene engages Markus in hand-to-hand combat, killing him by kicking him into the rotor blades of the cleaners’ crashed helicopter. After the battle, Selene realizes that Alexander’s blood has made her immune to the lethal effects of sunlight on vampires.

Like the first film in the series, Evolution is a dark, Gothic film with elaborate sets, props, and costuming. The acting (one again) is top notch and the script highly intriguing! The story/plot of Evolution is just a wonderful as the first film in the series. So much action to watch, a superb story and fine performances by all.

REVIEW: UNDERWORLD

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CAST

Kate Beckinsale (Total Recall)
Scott Speedman (The Vow)
Shane Brolly (Spread)
Sophia Myles (Transformers 4)
Bill Nighy (Wrath of The Titans)
Michael Sheen (Kingdom of Heaven)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Kevin Grevioux (I, Frankenstein)
Zita Gorog (8mm 2)

For generations, a secret war has been waged between vampires and Lycans, an ancient species of werewolf. Selene, a Death Dealer, a vampire specialized in assassinating Lycans, tracks two Lycans. Selene’s motivation goes beyond duty; she also wants revenge because, 600 years ago when she was a child, Lycans slaughtered her family. The vampires believe they defeated the werewolves many centuries ago and killed their leader, Lucian, and that they must kill the surviving Lycans. Selene locates the Lycans’ den and learns they have developed a new kind of UV bullet capable of killing vampires.

Later, Selene arrives at the mansion of her vampire coven and, recounting these events, urges an attack on the Lycans; but the vampire regent, Kraven, dismisses her proposal. Selene determines that the pair of Lycans may have been following a human, Michael Corvin, and continues her investigation. In a Lycan lair, a scientist named Singe tests blood from kidnapped descendants of the ancient Corvinus family, trying to find a pure source of the ancient and powerful Corvinus bloodline. Soon after Selene finds Michael, the pair are attacked by Lycans, including their leader, who is revealed to be Lucian. Lucian bites Michael, but Selene helps Michael escape and the two become attracted to each other.

Selene discovers that Kraven was the only witness to Lucian’s supposed death. Sensing a conspiracy, she awakens a dormant powerful vampire elder, Viktor, who has been hibernating. Viktor is angered by his early awakening, as it was Marcus’ turn to rule the coven. Viktor believes Kraven and orders Selene to acquiesce to the vampire hierarchy. Kraven meanwhile has secretly planned to kill the third vampire elder, Amelia, and her companions, with Lucian’s help.eacd25dc-2102-4b51-bca1-ad171b740118Selene informs Michael about the feud and her past. She then binds him, fearing that he will kill innocent people after he changes into his Lycan form at the coming night’s full moon. Selene captures Singe while Michael is captured by Lycans. Selene returns to the mansion with Singe, who admits to Viktor that the Lycans are trying to combine the bloodlines of the two species with the Corvinus Strain, the shared source of both the Vampire and Lycan bloodlines, to create a powerful hybrid. After Kraven flees the mansion because Singe has revealed his cooperation with Lucian, news arrives that Amelia, who was coming to awaken Marcus, has been killed by Lycans. Viktor kills Singe and tasks Selene to kill Michael.

While Michael is being held captive, he learns from Lucian that Viktor’s daughter, Sonja, and Lucian were lovers. Lucian tells Michael that the Lycans were slaves to the vampires. When Viktor learned that his daughter had been impregnated by a Lycan, he killed her to prevent any crossing of the two species, which led to the war. According to Lucian, such a crossing would create a hybrid creature that would be more powerful than both the vampires and Lycans.
Kate Beckinsale in Underworld (2003)
Selene arrives with a group of Death Dealers to kill the Lycans and Kraven for his treachery. Kraven shoots Lucian with a newly designed bullet that kills by poisoning a Lycan’s bloodstream with silver nitrate. Selene rescues Michael, who is shot by Kraven. Kraven tells Selene it was Viktor who killed her family. Lucian stabs Kraven in the leg and convinces Selene to bite Michael, transmitting the vampire virus into his bloodstream. Selene complies, and Kraven flees after killing Lucian. Viktor arrives and admits that he killed Selene’s family, though he believes she should be grateful as he spared her and made her immortal. He reveals the truth of his love for Sonja – that his choice to have her killed was to protect the vampires and that he must now kill Michael to protect the vampires. Selene eventually kills Viktor with the assistance of Michael, who is now a hybrid. Selene and Michael leave the Lycan lair, now enemies of both species. At the mansion, blood from Singe’s corpse seeps into the sarcophagus of the sole remaining Elder, Marcus, a carrier of the original Corvinus Strain.

Even though this film got panned at the box office by the critics, the public loved it and I feel it is one of the best Vampire movies around. The most refreshing aspect of this movie is the story, which surprisingly has many layers and puts a totally fresh new spin on the vampire/werewolf stories. This aspect, along with the excellent visual effects makes Underworld an enjoyable experience.

REVIEW: THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART 2

CAST
Kristin Stewart (Snow White & The Huntsman)
Robert Pattinson (Sword Xanten)
Taylor Lautner (Tracers)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl)
Elizabeth Reaser (The Ex List)
Ashley Greene (Burying The Ex)
Jackson Rathbone (S.Darko)
Kellan Lutz (The Legend of Hercules)
Nikki Reed (Sleepy Hollow)
Billy Burke (Red Riding Hood)
Maggie Grace (Lost)
Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Michael Sheen (Underworld)
Daniel Cudmore (X-Men 2)
Dakota Fanning (Taken)
Cameron Bright (The Butterfly Effect)
Mia Maestro (Alias)
Judith Shekoni (Heroes Reborn)
Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Andrea Gabriel (Lost)
Rami Malek (Mr. Robot)
Valorie Curry (The Tick)
Joe Anderson (The Grey)
Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Julia Jones (Westworld)
Booboo Stewart (Descendants)
Christian Camargo (See)
Omar Metwally (Treadstone)
 
Bella awakens from her transformation from human to vampire, aware of her new abilities, but unaware of changes within the coven, such as Jacob having imprinted on her child, Renesmee. It also appears that Bella’s father, Charlie, has been attempting to contact the Cullens for updates on Bella’s illness. They intend to tell him she didn’t survive, which requires that they move away from Forks, Washington to protect their identities. Jacob, desperate not to lose Renesmee, tells Charlie that Bella is in fact alive and well, and explains that Bella had to change in order to survive. He morphs into a wolf, revealing his tribe’s shape-shifting power, but does not tell Charlie about vampires.
 
Several months pass with Carlisle monitoring Renesmee’s rapid growth. On an outing in the woods, a bitter Irina sees Renesmee from a distance and believes her to be an immortal child. Immortal children were vampires who were changed in childhood, and because they could not be trained nor restrained, they destroyed entire villages. They were eventually executed, as were the parents who created them, and the creation of such children outlawed. Irina goes to the Volturi to report what she has seen. Alice sees the Volturi and Irina coming to kill the Cullens and instructs the others to gather as many witnesses as they can to testify that Renesmee is not an immortal. The Cullens begin to summon witnesses, such as the Denali family. One of the Denali, Eleazar, later discovers that Bella has a special ability: a powerful mental shield which had protected her from Edward’s mind reading even when she was human, and which she can now extend to protect others from mental attacks.
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As some of their potential witnesses are attacked and prevented from supporting the Cullens, Carlisle and Edward realize they may have to fight the Volturi. Their witnesses ultimately agree to stand with them in battle, having realized the Volturi increase the Guard by falsely accusing covens of crimes, destroy them and then recruit vampires with gifts. The Volturi arrive prepared for battle, led by Aro, who is eager to obtain the gifted members of the Cullen coven as part of his guard. Aro is allowed to touch Renesmee, and is convinced that she is not an immortal child. Irina is brought forth and takes full responsibility for her mistake, leading to her immediate death. Aro still insists that Renesmee may pose a risk in the future, validating his claim that battle is necessary. Before any violence, Alice shares with Aro her vision of the battle that is to come, during which both sides sustain heavy casualties, including Aro who would also die. Aro believes her, giving Alice and Jasper an opportunity to reveal their witness (a half mortal half vampire just like Renesmee). The witness proves that he is not a threat, supporting the notion that Renesmee is not a threat. The Volturi unhappily leave without a fight.
Back at the Cullen home, Alice glimpses the future, seeing Edward and Bella together with Jacob and a fully matured Renesmee also together. Edward reads Alice’s mind and feels relieved that Renesmee has Jacob to protect her. Alone in the meadow, Bella pushes her mental shield away and finally allows Edward a peek into her mind, showing him every precious moment she and Edward shared together and the two share a kiss after Bella telling Edward, “No one has ever loved anyone as much as I love you”, and both Edward and Bella saying they’ll love and be together forever. The end credits present the cast members from all five films.
I enjoyed seeing the characters develop, especially  Stewart who steals the show. She has grown into a respectable actress and she has turned a wooden and unlikable character (in the novel) into someone you root for in the film.