REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: SLINGSHOT

agents-shield-slingshot-poster

CAST

Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Los Simuladores)
Clark Gregg (Avengers Assemble)
Chloe Bennett (Nashville)
Yancey Arias (Legion)
Alexander Wraith (Westworld)
Jason O’Mara (Son of Batman)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Iain De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Wolves at The Door)
Henry Simmons (Noo Good Deed)

agents-of-shield-spinoff-hunter-bobbiThe miniseries was released on December 13th. Released in six episodes ranging from three to six minutes, fans get some insight into some missing time between Season 3’s end and Season 4’s start, which is a great bonus because these scenes are not needed to enjoy the main show but are a fun extra. We watch as Elena signs the Sokovia Accords, becomes a SHIELD agent under Mace’s control, and tracks down a criminal. Plus, the old 0-8-4 from Season 1 is also involved because, as any fan of the show knows, it’s all connected! In fact, Slingshot references a lot of things in Agents Of SHIELD and even the MCU, so it fits in well.16174889_1836004673347908_6687458020023952722_nAnd, if that weren’t enough to convince you, know that Slingshot stars all the other SHIELD characters, too, interacting with Yoyo in interesting ways, which really made the series seem like a bonus AoS episode. While I’m very glad to get this bonus material, I wish it were a bit longer. The whole thing only takes about 20 minutes to watch. Because it was so short, things moved very quickly and felt a bit rushed.So how can you watch Slingshot? If you have the ABC app, they’re all on there for your streaming pleasure, but, if you’re like me and reside outside of America, ABC so nicely put them all on YouTube, so you can watch them there.aiden-romero-300x169I liked Slingshot, overall. Seeing more of Yoyo was awesome, and, despite the time constraint, these episodes had some humor, some romance, some action and some drama. What more could I want? I think it was great of Marvel and Agents Of SHIELD to end the year in such a fun way, and I hope the success of this leads to more miniseries in the future.

Advertisements

REVIEW: AGENTS OF SHIELD – SEASON 3

81xgcr4duvl__sl1500_

MAIN CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Lost In Florence)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Iain De Caestecker (Filfth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)
Nick Blood (Trollied)
Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue)
Luke Mitchell (The Tomorrow People)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Constance Zimmer (UnReal)
Andrew Howard (Bates Motel)
Matthew Willig (Year One)
Juan Pablo Raba (The 33)
Spencer Treat Clark (Mystic River)
Blair Underwood (Gattaca)
Daniel Roebuck (The Man In High Castle)
Powers Boothe (Sin City)
Jack Guzman (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider Dragon Knight)
Dillon Casey (Nikita)
Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Los Minondo)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Bethany Joy Lenz (One Tree Hill)
Ravil Isyanov (Bones)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Alicia Vela-Bailey (Lights Out)
John Hannah (The Mummy)

After its rocky start, Agents of SHIELD had turned into a much more entertaining, involving series by its second season. Season 3 of the Marvel series found the show operating on as strong a level as the year before, There was a lot to enjoy. The show used the mid-season split to essentially divide between two villains – both played by Brett Dalton. In the fall, Dalton was still playing Ward and in the spring, he was Hive (walking around in Ward’s dead body). Overall, the fall run was very Strong and cohesive. The rising threats, including Gideon Malick and Lash, were intriguing, the storyline about Simmons’ time on another planet really compelling and the tragically short love story between Coulson and Ros (a very strong Constance Zimmer) played well – even if his quest for revenge after Ward shockingly killed her was a bit heightened, given how quick their relationship was.That aforementioned Simmons storyline was a standout, with Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker both doing excellent work, as Fitz did all he could to rescue Simmons, only to find she had changed while she was gone. It all led up to the phenomenal episode “4,722 Hours,” which is the best hour of Agents of SHIELD to date. A very offbeat, ambitious episode, “4,722 Hours” took place almost entirely on the alien planet Simmons was trapped on, with only her and the Earthling astronaut she discovered there, Will (Dillon Casey), anchoring the story. The reveals in this episode set up a love triangle that felt earned (something that often isn’t the case on TV shows), as we could understand the pain this situation was causing both Fitz and Simmons, and feel sympathetic towards both of them. Once more, I have to note that these two characters have come a long way since the show began, backed by two great performances.You really can’t go wrong with Powers Boothe as a villain and it was very fun to see the veteran actor greatly expand upon his shadowy role in the Avengers as Hydra leader Gideon Malick. The way they used Malick to connect some dots on Hydra history from the MCU was cool and in his final episodes, he did a great job showing the loving father beneath the scary façade – who realized too late he was messing with the wrong Inhuman alien-god creature.We also had Lincoln and the Secret Warriors. The idea of the Secret Warriors was cool, as Agents of SHIELD amped up its superhero side and we met characters like Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) and Elena/Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), There was a lot of teasing and set up here with some payoff. When this team within the team finally went on their first mission, in “The Team,” it was immediately followed by them turning on one another, with no time to really see what their dynamic might be like.Lincoln’s character got an expanded role, His best material was early in the season, when he was on the run and refusing to join SHIELD. But once he was part of the team (officially or not). Daisy herself however, fared better. Now fully aware of and embracing her Inhuman heritage and superpowers, she was re-introduced as a kick ass, capable superhero. The early days of Agents of SHIELD pushed “Skye” too much as being special when she hadn’t earned it, but now, it was much easier to buy into her transformation and Chloe Bennet flourished showing off Daisy’s dangerous physicality, which allowed her to blend martial arts with those increasingly powerful earthquake powers.Among the rest of the cast, Mack (Henry Simmons) was a very likable, easy too root for part of the team in Season 3, and making him and Daisy field partners turned out to be a clever pairing. May’s storyline was mostly cantered around Lash and the reveal he was truly Andrew, which initially was very compelling. Hunter and Bobbi continued to be a cool couple, and getting Bobbi back in the field after the early episodes was easy too root for. The two got a big, sad  send off for a spinoff that now isn’t happening. As for Coulson, his aforementioned romance with Ros worked well, and him killing Ward was a suitably big moment. Some of his angst and guilt over that murder felt a bit unfocused in the spring run, but there was some good material here as well – including the show retroactively accounting for Coulson being so damn adoring and protective of Daisy since the beginning.Brett Dalton had done great work on SHIELD since we learned Ward was a Hydra agent, taking the bland boy scout he appeared to be and subverting it in a big way. And I was glad that SHIELD’s creators never tried to redeem Ward or put him back on the team somehow – we understood what shaped him, but also never forgot he was a broken, bad person. However, it was time for Ward to go and the Hive storyline allowed them to put him to rest for good.Season 3 was a great season to a continuing great addition to the MCU.

REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – SEASON 2

CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Ian De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)
Nick Blood (Identicals)
Adrianna Palicki (G.J. Joe: Retaliation)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Hayley Atwell (Cinderella)
B.J. Britt (Veronica Mars)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Reed Diamond (Dollhouse)
Henry Simons (No Good Deed)
Patton Oswalt (Blade: trinity)
Lucy Lawless (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Kenneth Choi (Street Kings)
Simon Kassianides (Quantum of Solace)
Brian Patrick Wade (The Big Bang Theory)
Ruth Negga (World War Z)
Maya Stojan (Castle)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
Kyle MacLachlan (Dune)
Brian Tee (Jurassic World)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (The Dark Knight)
Joel Gretsch (V)
Tim DeKay (Swordfish)
Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse)
Lou Ferrigno Jr. (The Young and The Restless)
Jamie Harris (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Blair Underwood (Gattaca)
Christine Adams (Batman Begins)
Edward James Olmos (Green Hornet)
Luke Mitchell (Home and Away)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Jaimie Alexander (The Last Stand)

For many, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD in its first season  became a forgotten and/or overlooked series, which was too bad, and yet understandable. This was Marvel’s first TV series, coming off of an amazing run of movies and it just didn’t deliver when it debuted. The initial episodes felt unfocused and badly paced,but many people people felt the show improved when SHIELD notably improving in the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s events.In season 2 the pacing was hugely improved, with storylines no longer taking forever to bubble up again and secrets no longer being kept both from the audience and the characters that no one on screen seemed in a hurry to deal with. Instead, there was payoff to big plot threads happening consistently, as both lingering questions from Season 1 and newly introduced plotlines were deftly dealt with and tied up, while paving the way for new mysteries. On the villain front, there was some nicely done twisting and turning regarding who the Big Bad would be in Season 2. We began with a focus on Hydra leader Whitehall and while Reed Diamond had fun in the role, Whitehall rarely had moments that made him feel like a truly credible threat. When he was killed in the midseason finale, it seemed Kyle MacLachlan’s Cal would take center stage as SHIELD’s main foe… but there was yet another swerve in store.The fact that Skye’s mother, Jiaying (Dichen Lachman), was alive at all was a surprise and we soon saw that she was the leader of the Inhumans and could be pretty strict and cold when it came to doing what she felt was right to protect her people… but that was all hiding just what a zealot she had become, convinced war with humanity was inevitable and willing to begin it herself (via a staged attack) to get all her people on her side. The fact that Jiaying was the true main villain of the season was a subtle, slow reveal and much appreciated for how it was pulled off. We understood the tragic events that had changed her, even as we came to see she, and not Cal, who was the most dangerous.Oh, and did I say Inhumans? This was also a huge part of the season, which was especially notable because it indicated that behind the scenes, Marvel had decided Agents of SHIELD could lead the way in a much more notable way than before, rather than being simply reactive to the events of the films. We know an Inhumans film is coming in a few years, but now this series has already introduced the concept into the MCU. Presumably the film will focus on the Royal Family and a very different group of Inhumans than the ones we met here, but this show was still allowed to be the first part of the MCU to give us Terrigen Mist, the Kree origins and all the major background elements of the Inhumans.
In general, SHIELD felt less restrained this season. The first couple of episodes utilized the notable Marvel villain Absorbing Man, while the reveals that Cal and Skye were, respectively, Mr. Hyde and Daisy Johnson/Quake, rooted this show much more into its Marvel Comics roots.While it began in the latter half of Season 1, SHIELD: Season 2 also benefited from much stronger characterization. While there were so many characters they all didn’t get as much time as might have been ideal, they still all felt much more distinct and specific than the show’s early days, and the fact that several members came and went and shifted allegiances kept things interesting. Ming-Na Wen was always a great presence on the show, but Melinda May was given a lot more depth, as we met her ex-husband, Andrew (Blair Underwood) and finally got the dark details of that incident in Bahrain that we kept hearing about in Season 1. The rift between Fitz and Simmons added a lot more textures to both of them, and was beautifully played by Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, while Coulson, now the director of SHIELD, had to reevaluate his approach, making much harsher decisions that pained him, but felt more involving and believable than the overly sappy, often naive approach that he began the series with.As for Skye, the writers and producers certainly still were determined to make her the most important and revered character on the show, but this season, it actually felt like they were earning her that position. Sure, we had to accept that she’d apparently gotten one hell of a crash course in being a badass fighter from May between seasons, but it felt good to see her actually be such a formidable presence in the action scenes – and Chloe Bennet really rose to the challenge of her characters new dynamic. And by making Skye both an Inhuman and Daisy/Quake, we at least had tangible reasons she would be important to us as viewers, beyond Coulson simply saying she was awesome over and over again. Bennet and Kyle MacLachlan also were able to build a strong rapport together as the estranged father/daughter duo. Speaking of MacLachlan, what a job he did. While Dichen Lachman brought the perfect pained righteousness to Jiaying, who truly believed what she was doing was right, MacLachlan had the freedom to go absolutely crazy as the absolutely crazy Cal and wow, was he fun. He expertly conveyed his character’s wish to be a happy, doting husband and father intermixed with his violent rage and gave the season some of its best moments – goofy Mr. Hyde makeup/visuals in the season finale aside.The new additions to the SHIELD crew were also appreciated, with Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter, Henry Simmons’ Mack and Adrianne Palicki ‘s Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird all fitting in very well. With such a big group of agents, someone was bound to be overlooked, and unfortunately, that was Trip (B.J. Britt), who never really got a storyline of his own – except to be the big midseason death. Which wasn’t as impactful as it could have been because he felt like a character with potential that was never fully utilized in any capacity (Remember when he and Simmons were flirting?).The “Other SHIELD” storyline was an interesting inclusion, with Edward James Olmos bringing exactly the gravity you’d expect him to as Gonzales. I liked the idea of he and Coulson being so opposed and yet very respectful of one another, in their own ways. I just wish we’d gotten a bigger payoff to that, as Gonzales was killed by Jiaying before he and Coulson really came to any sort of conclusion in their own conflict except on the “very begrudging/wary allies” level.I went into Season 2 very concerned about Grant Ward’s continuing presence on the series. His betrayal was a shot of Adrenalin the bland SHIELD crew needed and his actions had been too extreme and lethal to be forgiven or excused – but this is TV, where it seems any character can be redeemed. And I really didn’t want to see Ward redeemed, especially since Brett Dalton really found the character when he was allowed to play him as a villain. Thankfully, Season 2 didn’t try to bring Ward back onto the SHIELD team – in fact, by the end, he was more delightfully despicable than ever, torturing Bobbi and setting a trap to kill any SHIELD agent that attempted to rescue her and shooting and killing May, point blank, the first chance he had.SHIELD: Season 2 benefited from a show now unafraid to shake up the dynamic. Perhaps having to completely change everything about the series two thirds into the first season served as an inspiration, but from Simmons’ double agent status, to Gonzales’ crew taking over, the show rarely felt stagnant. The show’s always been in a difficult scenario – people love the interconnectivity of the MCU, but because the movie’s have the big superheroics covered, SHIELD felt hindered by not being able to deal with a lot of the bigger name heroes, in a way a series like The Flash (which isn’t connected to DC’s movies at all) doesn’t have to deal with. The decision to have Coulson and Skye begin to form a team of superpowered members seems to indicate those involved have decided its time to bring some more ongoing flash  to the series, even if it won’t be with the biggest name characters. Things will no doubt change in a big way again as a result, but right now, it’s exciting to ponder what’s coming next.

REVIEW: PUSH (2009)

CAST

Chris Evans (Captain America)
Dakota Fanning (War of The Worlds)
Camilla belle (10,000 BC)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Joel Gretsch (V)
Ming-na Wen (Agents of SHIELD)
Cliff Curtis (Deep Rising)
Neil Jackson (Alexander)

An organization within the United States government called the Division has been secretly hunting down and experimenting on people with psychic abilities since 1945. Two “Movers”, Nick Gant (Colin Ford) and his father Jonah (Joel Gretsch), are running from Agent Carver (Djimon Hounsou), a Division “Pusher”. Jonah tells Nick of a vision he received from a “Watcher” about a young girl he must help in the future in order to take down Division. Jonah helps Nick escape as Carver arrives and kills Jonah.Ten years later, Carver tests a power boosting drug that has killed all previous test subjects on a Pusher named Kira (Camilla Belle). Rendering her doctor unconscious, Kira steals an augmentation drug-filled syringe before escaping. In Hong Kong, Nick (Chris Evans) is hiding as an expatriate. A young girl, Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning), arrives at Nick’s apartment, explaining that she is a Watcher and that they are going to find a mysterious case that will help them take down the Division. The case is also sought by the Pop Family, psychic Triads composed of Pop Father (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) and his two sons (Kwan Fung Chi and Jacky Heung) who are “Bleeders”, and his daughter Pop Girl (Xiao Lu Li), who is a Watcher like Cassie.Following Cassie’s predictions, they go to a nightclub to meet Nick’s friend Hook, who is a “Shifter”. He tells them to go to a “Sniff” named Emily (Ming-Na Wen), one of many Sniffs Carver and his right hand Mover, Victor (Neil Jackson), are trying to enlist to find Kira. With Emily’s help, Nick finds Kira; the two had a romantic relationship prior to Kira’s capture by Division. Kira hid the syringe inside the case, then had a “Wiper” erase her memories to keep the Division Watchers off her trail. Nick recruits a “Shadow” named Pinky (Nate Mooney) to “shade” Kira from psychic detection. Cassie finds a key in Kira’s shoe to a locker in a construction building that is shaded by a powerful Shadow, indicating Kira hid the case there.Nick devises a complex plan by giving his allies instructions in envelopes to open at specific times, while having a Wiper erase his memories of the grand plot to obstruct the Watchers’ efforts to discern the entire plan. Meanwhile, Hook retrieves the case and creates a duplicate to match the real case with the syringe. As part of the plan, Kira surrenders herself to Carver, who introduces himself to Kira as a friend. Pushing his thoughts into her, Carver convinces Kira that she is actually a Division agent who volunteered to take the augmentation injection and suffered amnesia as a side effect.Pop Girl hunts Cassie and corners her at a secluded spot but The Wiper appears at the right moment to dispatch Pop Girl with a massive memory wipe. Nick meets with Carver, Victor and Kira to trade the drug for Kira’s freedom but Kira tells him their past relationship when Nick revealed his love at Coney Island was a false memory she pushed into his mind. The three force Nick to take them to the construction site that contains the locker holding the case, where the Triads lie in wait to ambush them. Victor kills several Triads before Pop Bleeder unleashes a powerful scream that kills Victor but also kills Pop Bleeder in a wave of collapsing debris.Nick surprises Carver and grabs the syringe from him. Unable to convince Kira that their relationship was real, Nick jams the syringe into his arm, apparently killing himself. After Carver and Kira leave Nick for dead, he wakes up. Cassie appears and retrieves the true case with the syringe, revealing that Nick took the duplicated case and injected himself with soy sauce. Cassie plans to exchange the syringe to Division for releasing Cassie’s mother, a powerful Watcher who foretold her vision to Nick’s father and set the preceding events in motion even before Cassie’s birth to ensure her and Nick’s eventual success.Flying back to America with Carver, Kira opens her purse and finds the envelope from Nick. Inside is photograph of Nick and herself together at Coney Island with a message: “KILL HIM. See U soon – Nick.” Kira pushes Carver to put his gun in his mouth and fire; the screen fades to black and a single gunshot is heard.

I was really surprised by how entertained I was by this.  I found the plot complex but understandable. To dismiss it as a heroes knock-off is also unfair. It’s a sci-fi film but that doesn’t mean all sci-fi films are the same. The film makes good use of its Hong Kong location more so than any recent film I’ve seen and the characters were memorable. The special effects were there for the story and not the other way around.

REVIEW: STARGATE: UNIVERSE – SEASON 1 & 2

Cover of entertainment to Facebook

MAIN CAST

Robert Carlyle (Once Upon A Time)
Louis Ferreira (Bates Motel)
Brian J. Smith (Sense8)
Elyse Levesque (The Originals)
David Blue (Ugly Betty)
Alaina Huffman (Smallville)
Jamil Walker Smith (General Hospital)
Ming-Na Wen (Agents of SHIELD)

stargateuniverse43RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Ona Grauer (Arrow)
Peter Kelamis (The Cabin In The Woods)
Mark Burgess (Scooby Doo 2)
Gary Jones (Highlander: The Series)
Martin Christopher (Night at The Museum)
Bill Dow (The Big Year)
Bradley Stryker (Smallville)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns)
Jennifer Spence (Continuum)
Julia Benson (Death Do Us Part)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Raquel Riskin (Supernatural)
Reiko Aylesworth (Lost)
Vincent Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Louise Lombard (Grimm)
William MacDonald (Slither)
Kathleen Munroe (Fitzgerald)
Sean Blakemore (Bones)
Rhona Mitra (Doomsday)
Julie McNiven (Mad Men)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Camille Sullivan (The Birdwatcher)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
French Stewart (Mom)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
David Hewlett (Cypher)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)

The stargate itself–an artificially created wormhole through which one can instantly travel to different worlds light-years away–is still around, but much else has changed. Gone, for the most part, are the rough-and-tumble adventures that were the specialty of SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, SGU‘s popular predecessors. Gone, too, are insouciant but charismatic and intrepid leaders like SG-1‘s Col. Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson does make several cameo appearances in that role in the course of these 20 episodes, offered here on six discs) and Atlantis‘s Col. John Sheppard.In their places, in addition to a new ongoing story line, is a rather less conventional approach, featuring a more minimalist vibe and an entirely fresh cast of earnest, intense, mostly youthful characters battling personal demons and complex interpersonal relationships, along with a myriad of technical issues more typical of sci-fi shows. If this all sounds very serious, well, these folks have a lot to be serious about. Very early on, the “Icarus Base” is under alien attack, forcing military and civilian personnel alike to escape through the stargate. They end up aboard Destiny, a massive ship that’s millions of years old and was once the property of the omniscient master race known as the Ancients. Not only do our characters barely know how to operate the ship, they also have no idea where they are, except that it’s billions of light-years from Earth. It’s the responsibility of the two main men, Col. Everett Young (Justin Louis) and scientist Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle), to figure out how to get everyone home safely, a task that dominates the series’ overall arc. That dicey proposition is complicated considerably by ceaseless internecine conflict on the ship, much of it between soldiers and civilians (typified by Young and Rush, both of whom are self-righteous, utterly humorless, and not especially likable).Much of the action takes place on Destiny, but there are occasional excursions to various planets in search of water and other supplies; there are also trips to Earth made possible by magical “communication stones” that allow users to exchange bodies with folks on the other end. As is the case with many new programs, SGU takes a while to hit its stride, but when that happens about a third of the way into the season, the results are often quite exciting; SGU may not be as much fun as the earlier shows, but it’s still well written and entertaining, with excellent production values, good special effects.

The Stargate franchise has literally run its course, some may feel. While others feel, similar to the “Star Trek” franchise, there are many stories that can still be told.From “Stargate SG-1′ to the animated series “Stargate Infinity” and then “Stargate Atlantis”, here we are with the final season of “Stargate Universe”, a series that met with fans who were split on whether they enjoyed or disliked the series. Unfortunately, for this series which began in 2009, there was no renewal for a third season and thus the second season ended with a cliffhanger, just when the series had made some major changes and had gotten better.nup_135385_0206x1Should Stargate Universe had a chance to prove itself? Afterall, even the popular syndicated series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” had its haters and also didn’t do well initially in the ratings, but given the chance to make the series better, it became one of the best “Star Trek” spinoff.I’m sure that this will be a debate in which these split fans will continue to have varying opinions but the fact is, “Stargate” is over and in April 2011, “Stargate” producer announced that any plans for continuation of “Stargate” have been cancelled and that he had officially packed his desk. 17 years of “Stargate” on television and it looks as if this was the final nail on the popular franchise.ursini1I do dislike when a series never receives its full run and in this case, ending with a cliffhanger but still, the creators and the fans did all they can to keep the series going. But for the fans who stuck with this series from beginning to end. perhaps one day the franchise will be brought back in some shape or form.

REVIEW: PROM NIGHT (2008)

CAST

Brittany Snow (Nip/Tuck)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
Jessica Stroup (Ted)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Collins Pennie (In Time)
Kelly Blatz (Whore)
Johnathon Schaech (Legends of Tomorrow)
Idris Elba (Thor)
Brianne Davis (Jarhead)
Kellan Lutz (Twilight)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Linden Ashby (Mortal Kombat)
Jessalyn Gilsig (Nip/Tuck)
Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project)
Lori Heuring (8mm 2)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)

In 2005, Bridgeport native Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow), a high school freshman, returns home from a movie date with her friend Lisa Hines (Dana Davis) to find her father and brother have been killed. In terror, Donna hides under the bed, where she sees her mother (Lori Heuring) struggling with Richard Fenton (Johnathon Schaech), a former teacher of hers who had become obsessed with Donna. As Donna locks eyes with her terrified mother, she witnesses Fenton murder her.In present day 2008, Donna, now a high school senior, is now living with her Aunt Karen (Jessalyn Gilsig) and Uncle Jack (Linden Ashby), and is about to graduate from high school. Although she has recovered from the incident she is still taking anti-depressants to cope with her depression and seeing her psychiatrist Dr. Elisha Crowe (Ming-Na Wen). Donna and her friends are getting ready to attend their senior prom that night. Donna, Lisa and Claire (Jessica Stroup) are getting ready at the hairdressers and Donna suddenly turns around to see Fenton, but realizes she was just seeing things. Hours later, Donna’s boyfriend, Bobby (Scott Porter), arrives at her house, along with her friends and their boyfriends, Ronnie (Collins Pennie) and Michael (Kelly Blatz). At the police station, Detective Winn (Idris Elba), who imprisoned Fenton three years ago, learns that Fenton has escaped from prison and warns Karen and Jack. Karen thinks Donna should come home in case Fenton finds her location, but Jack convinces her that she should stay at the prom. At the prom, Fenton arrives at the hotel disguised as a man named Howard K. Ramsey, and takes a room on Donna’s floor and kills the housekeeper (Jacqueline Herrera) to get the master key. On the dance floor, Claire has a fight with her boyfriend, Michael, and goes up to her room with Donna to calm down. After Donna leaves, Claire is alone and hears noises. She sees Fenton, who proceeds to lock Claire into a room, to stab and kill her. When Claire does not return, Michael goes upstairs to see her. Fenton hides in the room’s closet, but Michael sees him shut the closet door. Michael opens the closet and is thrown to the ground by Fenton, who murders him.Detective Winn arrives and warns the hotel staff to be on the alert. Fenton kills a hotel employee (Joshua Leonard) looking for the maid and takes his uniform. Lisa and Ronnie bump into Fenton in the elevator on their way to the room. While making out, Lisa realizes that it was Fenton and runs off to warn Donna which makes Ronnie sad as he was about to propose but, after taking the stairs, she is caught by Fenton. She is chased down to the basement of the hotel where construction is taking place and she hides from Fenton. Lisa hides and sees Ronnie looking for her. Lisa leaves her spot and makes a run for it, but when Ronnie calls her name, Lisa is caught and killed. Winn and Detective Nash (James Ransone) find the body of the real Howard Ramsey in his car trunk. Winn goes up to the room and finds the housekeeper’s body. Knowing for sure that Fenton is in the building under the name Ramsey, Winn sounds the emergency alarm and has the entire hotel evacuated. Donna goes back to the room to retrieve her mother’s shawl and runs into Fenton and is attacked by him.Realizing Donna is still inside, Winn races back up to the room. Donna escapes Fenton. SWAT and police search the hotel, but find no sign of Fenton. Winn discovers the body of the employee Fenton killed earlier, and realizes Fenton left the hotel in the employee’s uniform. Winn now races back to Donna’s house and finds Detective Nash dead in his squad car. Inside, Donna goes to the bathroom and returns to find Bobby’s throat has been slit. She sees a shadow out in the hall and she hides in her closet, thinking the shadow is Fenton’s. The person in the hall is revealed to be Detective Winn, and Fenton grabs Donna in the closet. Winn is about to open the closet but hears a scream from Donna’s aunt, from noticing the dead officer on the ground outside, so Winn runs to her bedroom. Donna is attacked by Fenton, and a violent struggle ensues. When Fenton is about to stab Donna, Winn runs in and shoots Fenton several times, killing him. Donna cries over Bobby’s dead body, and Winn tells her it is over.It wasn’t the best scary movie and since it was PG-13 they didn’t show the killings that well, so I wish it was more gory and such. Also, the dialog was sometimes stupid, but the plot was good. I wish it was a little longer and explained more things better. Also Brittany Snow didn’t seemed so sad when her friends and boyfriend died, her character should have cried more or have been more scared.

REVIEW: FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN

CAST (VOICES)

Ming-Na Wen (Agents of SHIELD)
Alec Baldwin (Mission Impossible 5)
Ving Rhames (Julia X)
Steve Buscemi (Ghost World)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Keith David (Picth Black)
John DiMAggio (Futurama)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)

After the runaway success of Final Fantasy VII on the original Playstation, Sony greenlit a Final Fantasy movie. The final result, The Spirits Within, didn’t appear on movie screens until 2001, the same year as Shrek. However, unlike the unfunny green ogre, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within failed to generate any meaningful business at the box office, and it was the biggest bomb in film history up to that point.It’s admirable for its sweeping alien vistas and imaginative space-age designs, but the story just doesn’t have enough in it to keep the audience’s interest. The film follows Doctor Aki Ross (Ming-na) as she and her mentor, Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland) attempt to discover a way to clear Earth of a strange race of alien beings known as Phantoms. These Phantoms have made Earth uninhabitable, aside from a few protected cities. The film opens with Aki dreaming of an alien world, only to wake up on a space shuttle. She takes the shuttle down to Earth to find remnants of organic life. However, she’s soon trapped by Phantoms, determined to kill her, when she’s saved by a group of space marines, led by Captain Gray Edwards (Alec Baldwin), Aki’s former lover. It’s soon discovered that the plant Aki was after was part of a series of organisms that Aki and Sid are collecting to assemble a spiritual wave that they believe will counter the alien infestation at its source (a giant asteroid from which the Phantoms spawn). Their theory is not a popular one, however. The human government still has armies, and their general, Hein (James Woods), has erected a giant space cannon which he intends to use to blow the asteroid to smithereens. Sid and Aki contend that this would irrevocably damage the planet, but without further proof, their protests fall on deaf ears. Now it’s up to Aki, Sid, Gray, and his team to find the remaining organisms so they can finish the wavelength before Hein uses the cannon. And Aki keeps having these strange dreams.Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within feels like what Aliens might have been like had James Cameron been into New Age philosophy. The space marines (voiced by Steve Buscemi, Frasier’s Peri Gilpin, and Ving Rhames) are reminiscent of those more famous marines in Cameron’s film. The overall design feels like it could have been in line with that world, and the idea of the Phantoms infecting you and taking you over from the inside feels very similar to the parasitic nature of Alien’s xenomorphs. In point of fact, the one thing it doesn’t feel similar to in any way, shape, or form is the Final Fantasy series of video games from which it derives its name. Dr. Sid is the most notable callback, as in almost every Final Fantasy game there is a character named Cid. Also, some of the other character names vaguely resemble those found in the games. The Gaia theory posited in the film is very similar to the Living Planet of Final Fantasy VII, but to no real effect. I can understand wanting to create a fresh story that newcomers and old fans alike could enjoy.The film’s half-baked idealistic philosophies, combined with its often groan-inducing dialogue probably killed the movie more than any lack of resemblance to the video games. The whole conceit of the wavelength, while explained repeatedly and in excruciating detail, never quite gels. Similarly, Hein’s Zeus cannon doesn’t seem like a much better alternative, and it doesn’t help that he’s a terribly written villain. Of course, you have to respect James Woods’ ability to chew the scenery even when there isn’t any actual scenery to chew. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Woods, as he’s one of my favorite actors, but he’s so over the top here it hurts.The rest of the cast fare marginally better. Ming-na has a respectable voice acting pedigree that serves her well, as does Peri Gilpin (most recently heard in the animated Hellboy projects). Steve Buscemi and Ving Rhames don’t take their roles too seriously, which works to their advantage. Alec Baldwin, aside from being a great actor, lends his voice to one of the most memorable cartoon characters of recent memory (that of Leonardo Leonardo from the Clerks animated series), but he plays it straight here and is fairly disappointing. It doesn’t help that his character is animated to look exactly like Ben Affleck. I’m not kidding. This movie’s worth renting just to see how meticulously the filmmakers recreated every facet of Affleck’s face–only to give him Baldwin’s voice.That does bring up an important point, though. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was meant to be the first in a series of computer generated films that were photo realistic. And while it’s clear the film is CGI, it still looks damn impressive. The character models are exquisite, making the more cartoony offerings from Pixar or Dreamworks just seem amateurish by comparison (and I know that Pixar and Dreamworks aren’t striving for realism, I’m just saying how one looks against the other). The environments are amazingly detailed, and the movie is just a beauty to behold. Unfortunately, the film’s complete and utter financial failure bankrupted Square Pictures, although they did manage to make The Final Flight of the Osiris for Warner Bros. Animatrix project before closing shop. Square returned in 2005/2006 with Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, which looked even more spectacular than Spirits Within, but did not see a U.S. theatrical release.Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within deserved a better fate than it got at the box office, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great movie. While it certainly was a great technological breakthrough, it didn’t have the story or characters to make it work.