REVIEW: STAR TREK: DISCOVERY – SEASON 2

Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones, Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Anthony Rapp, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Mary Wiseman in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

Starring

Sonequa Martin-Green (Rivers Wash Over Me)
Doug Jones (The Watch)
Anthony Rapp (Rent)
Mary Wiseman (Longmire)
Shazad Latif (Penny Dreadful)
Wilson Cruz (He’s Just Not That into You)
Anson Mount (Inhumans)

Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Mia Kirshner (The Vampire Diaries)
Tig Notaro (In a World…)
Michelle Yeoh (The Lady)
Alan van Sprang (Reign)
Rachael Ancheril (Heroes Reborn)
Jayne Brook (Gattaca)
Ethan Peck (In Time)
Sonja Sohn (The Originals)
James Frain (Gotham)
Mary Chieffo (Miss Dial)
Kenneth Mitchell (Captain Marvel)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)
Melissa George (Triangle)
Hannah Cheesman (Defiance)
Emily Coutts (Crimson Peak)
Patrick Kwok-Choon (Wyatt Earp)
Oyin Oladejo (Pond)
Ronnie Rowe (A Simple Favor)
Arista Arhin (Odd Squad)
Raven Dauda (Gossip)
Julianne Grossman (Superman/Batman: Apocalypse)
Sara Mitich (The Expanse)
Bahia Watson (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Hannah Spear (Versus Valerie)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Tara Nicodemo (Every Day)
Chris Violette (Power Rangers SPD)
Kenric Green (The Walking Dead)
Yadira Guevara-Prip (Supernatural)

Doug Jones, Anson Mount, David Benjamin Tomlinson, Rachael Ancheril, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Sean Connolly Affleck in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)Star Trek: Discovery’s inaugural season was faced with a seemingly impossible feat. The CBS All Access series was tasked with delivering a fresh new take that appeased a hardcore fan base and remained true to the franchise’s 50-year history, while also appealing to a Trek noob who wouldn’t know Voyager from Deep Space Nine. Although Season 1 stumbled in its efforts to remain tightly within canon while also telling an exciting and cohesive story, the show managed to pull off a commendable first run thanks to a charming bridge crew, a delectably villainous leader in Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) and that unapologetic love of science and adventure which has come to define the franchise as a whole.Anson Mount, Rachael Ancheril, and Sonequa Martin-Green in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)Building on that, Discovery really hits its stride in Season 2. With the Klingon War on the backburner, the series is finally able to breathe, and as a result, delivers a refreshing sophomore run that just feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off its shoulders. After receiving a distress call from the USS Enterprise, the Discovery crew ditches its plan to pick up a new captain on Vulcan in order to help out fellow Federation officers in need. Starfleet’s most prized ship is offline after suffering a catastrophic meltdown while tracking one of seven red signals that have suddenly appeared in space. With his ship on the sidelines, Captain Pike (Anson Mount) takes the helm of the Discovery for an important rescue mission that was only meant to be temporary. But those ominous signals pose a serious threat to the universe so of course, he’s needed to stay on and uncover that mystery, thus kicking off a thrilling adventure in deep space.Bringing in an iconic character like Pike could have been disastrous but Discovery somehow makes it work. He’s seamlessly woven into the narrative, bringing exhilarating new energy that never overpowers the series’ core cast. Mount’s Pike is dashing, charismatic and genuinely likable, but not without his faults. He’s very much the man Gene Roddenberry envisioned so many decades ago but never feels like a relic of the past. He’s exactly what Discovery, both the crew and series as a whole, needs right now. But he’s also just a fraction of what makes Season 2 such an enjoyable experience.With Discovery learning to let loose and have fun, Season 2 utilizes its arsenal of delightful characters in a way that it never could before. Owing to that is the adorkably wonderful Tilly (Mary Wiseman), last season’s Miss Congeniality whose expanded role is like a much-needed serotonin boost. Brilliant, funny and bursting with nerdy optimism, the new season finds her finally coming into her own as a confident leader, and that transformation is a pure joy to watch unfold. Equally amusing is newcomer Tig Notaro’s Denise Reno, the USS Hiawatha’s brilliant chief engineer whose deadpan humor easily makes her this season’s low-key gem.Anson Mount in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)But among a diverse group of amiable personalities, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) remains the true heart and soul of the series. It’s mostly through her eyes that we learn about the world that Discovery has created, and in Season 2, her story again takes center stage. With the exploration of Burnham’s past comes the inevitable arrival of her adoptive brother Spock (Ethan Peck), and their family drama sets the groundwork for an engrossing journey in the new season.Linked through the same visions of a mysterious red angel, their broken dynamic breathes new life into Spock, a character who’s been explored inside and out, having been around for five decades. But Discovery presents a different Spock, someone on the losing side of an internal battle between reason and logic. He’s not the Vulcan you know from Star Trek: The Original Series, nor does he need to be. With this latest iteration set years before the events of TOS, the show found the loophole it needed to introduce this bearded, disheveled version into official canon — and it’s handled with great care.Ethan Peck in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)By all means, Discovery isn’t perfect. It’s still working to find that natural balance between nostalgia and modernity. But Season 2 takes a carefully bold, gripping, and undeniably fun stab at it and in turn, is a much better show.

REVIEW: THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR

CAST

Brendan Fraser (Bedazzled)
Jet Li (The One)
Maria Bello (The Cooler)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Luke Ford (Animal Kingdom)
Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
Isabella Leong (Spider Lilies)
Anthony Wong (The Mad Monk)
Russell Wong (Romeo Must Die)

In ancient China, a brutal and tyrannical warlord unites the country’s kingdoms into an empire and becomes the Dragon Emperor. He orders the construction of the Great Wall of China to bury and curse his dead enemies, eventually learning power over the classical elements fire, water, earth, wood and metal. The Emperor soon grows fearful that his death will end all he has accomplished and summons Zi Yuan, a sorceress who is said to know the secret of immortality. She seemingly casts a spell on the Emperor in Sanskrit, before he executes General Ming, his trusted friend and Zi Yuan’s secret lover. He impales Zi Yuan, but having foreseen such events, she immolates and detains the Emperor, transforming his army into the Terracotta Army, and flees.In 1946, Alex O’Connell, Rick and Evelyn O’Connell’s son, and his archaeology professor Roger Wilson locates the Emperor’s tomb. Though attacked by a mysterious woman, they succeed in bringing the coffin to Shanghai. Meanwhile, the British government entrusts the O’Connells to take the Eye of Shangri-La back to China. However, they learn that Wilson works for a rogue military faction led by General Yang, who had provided the financial backing of Alex’s expedition. Yang believes that the Emperor is the one who can lead China out of the chaos following WWII and plans to resurrect the Emperor using the Eye, which contains the Elixir of Life. They open it, but it accidentally lands on the statue of the carriage driver, which is revealed to actually be the Emperor’s mummified body. He accepts Yang’s service but kills Wilson and escapes.Along with Evelyn’s brother Jonathan Carnahan, the O’Connells and the mysterious woman, Lin, travel to a stupa in the Himalayas that will reveal the path to Shangri-La when the Eye is placed on top of it. With the help of Yetis summoned by Lin, the group hold off Yang’s soldiers but the Emperor discovers Shangri-La’s location. Alex attempts to trigger an avalanche. The Emperor throws a dagger at him, but Rick shoves Alex and is stabbed instead. Lin takes the group to Shangri-La, where Zi Yuan still lives and heals Rick’s wound. The group discovers that Lin is Zi Yuan’s daughter, both rendered immortal due to the power of Shangri-La’s waters. As Rick heals, Alex and Lin have grown attached to each other, but Lin refuses due to her immortality; unable to bear falling in love with Alex only to watch him grow old and die, just as Zi Yuan mourned for General Ming.The Emperor and General Yang eventually arrive and attack them in Shangri-La, and the Emperor bathes in the mystical waters, which restores his human form and youth, and gives him the ability to shapeshift. Transforming into a dragon, the Emperor kidnaps Lin and flies back to the tomb, raising his Terracota Army, planning to cross the Great Wall, where they will be invincible. The O’Connells and Zi Yuan pursue the Emperor to the Great Wall where she sacrifices her and Lin’s immortality to create an undead army from beneath The Great Wall, led by a revived General Ming. As Alex rescues Lin, Zi Yuan fights the Emperor and is mortally wounded, but secures the dagger. Zi Yuan gives the dagger to the group before dying. Meanwhile, the Emperor goes into the Great Wall to use his elemental powers to negate the undead spell. Rick and Alex fight off the Emperor while Evelyn and Lin fight and kill Yang. The Emperor gains the upper hand over Rick, but Rick and Alex manage to stab the Emperor in his heart with the dagger, killing him and defeating the Terracotta Army. Ming’s army briefly celebrates before finally moving on to a peaceful afterlife.The O’Connells return to Shanghai while Jonathan decides to move to Peru with the Eye of Shangri-La, as he wants to go somewhere with no mummies. However, in postscript, it is revealed that upon his arrival, mummies were discovered in Peru.The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor has a lot of physical comedy and computer-generated creatures as the previous two movies did. Fans of the Mummy films will be entertained as long as their expectations are checked at the door. I, for one, still enjoyed the mindless entertainment.