REVIEW: LETHAL WEAPON (1987)

CAST

Mel Gibson (Mad Max)
Danny Glover (Predator 2)
Gary Busey (Carny)
Tom Atkins (Maniac Cop)
Darlene Love The Love God?)
Jackie Swanson (Charlie Wilson’s War)
Ebonie Smith (Xena)
Mitchell Ryan (Grosse Point Blank)
Steve Kahan (Demolition man)
Mary Ellen Trainor (Roswell)
Ed O’Ross (Red Heat)
Lycia Naff (Total Recall)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon (1987)Shortly after his 50th birthday, LAPD Homicide Sergeant Roger Murtaugh is partnered with Sergeant Martin Riggs, a transfer from narcotics. Riggs is a former Special Forces soldier who lost his wife in a car accident two years prior, has turned suicidal, and has been taking his aggression out on suspects, leading to his superiors requesting his transfer. Murtaugh and Riggs quickly find themselves feuding with each other. Murtaugh is contacted by Michael Hunsaker, a Vietnam War buddy and banker, but before they can meet, Murtaugh learns that Hunsaker’s daughter, Amanda, apparently committed suicide by jumping from her apartment balcony. Autopsy reports show Amanda to have been poisoned with drain cleaner, making the case a possible homicide. Hunsaker tells Murtaugh that he was concerned about his daughter’s involvement in drugs, prostitution, and pornography, and was trying to get Murtaugh to help her escape that life.Mel Gibson and Gary Busey in Lethal Weapon (1987)Murtaugh and Riggs attempt to question Amanda’s pimp, but find a drug lab on the premises, leading to a shootout. Riggs kills the pimp and saves the life of Murtaugh, who starts to tolerate his new partner. Though the case seems closed, Riggs is aware that the only witness to Amanda’s apparent suicide was Dixie, another prostitute who was working away from her normal streets. They attempt to question Dixie at her home, but it explodes as they approach it. Riggs finds parts of a mercury switch from bomb debris, indicating a professional had set the bomb; children who had been nearby witnessed a man approach the house with a tattoo similar to Riggs’, and Murtaugh suspects Hunsaker knows more than he has told him.The two approach Hunsaker before Amanda’s funeral, where he reveals that he had previously been part of “Shadow Company,” a heroin-smuggling operation run by former special forces operators from the Vietnam War, masterminded by retired General Peter McAllister and his right-hand man, Mr. Joshua. Hunsaker had been laundering the money, but wanted to get out, and when McAllister found out he’d contacted Murtaugh, the general had Amanda killed. As they talk, Joshua arrives in a helicopter and kills Hunsaker. Shadow Company attempts to kill Riggs in a drive-by shooting, but he is saved by a bullet-proof vest. Murtaugh and Riggs fake his death to gain the upper hand.Shadow Company later kidnaps Murtaugh’s daughter Rianne and demand Murtaugh turn himself over to them for her return. Murtaugh and Riggs plan an ambush at the exchange at El Mirage Lake with Riggs providing sniper support, but Riggs is caught by McAllister and all three are taken to an unknown location. Murtaugh and Riggs are tortured for information, but Riggs manages to overpower his captors, frees Murtaugh and Rianne, and they escape to find themselves at a busy nightclub used as a front for Shadow Company. Their cover blown, McAllister and Joshua attempt to escape separately. Joshua manages to get away, but McAllister ends up crashing his car on Hollywood Boulevard and is killed when hand grenades in the car detonate. Murtaugh and Riggs race to Murtaugh’s home, knowing Joshua will be after his family. They arrive in time to stop him, and Riggs beats him in a violent fist fight on the front lawn. As officers arrive to take Joshua away, he breaks free and grabs a gun, but both Murtaugh and Riggs pull their guns and shoot him dead. After visiting his wife’s grave, Riggs spends Christmas with the Murtaughs, having become best friends with Murtaugh and bonding with the rest of the family. Riggs also gives Murtaugh a symbolic gift: an unfired hollow-point bullet which he had been saving to commit suicide, as he does not need it anymore.Lethal Weapon is the first in a series of films that were all good. Richard Donner made an action packed buddy picture that everyone can enjoy. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover were both good in the lead roles and the action sequences are top notch. Kudos to Gary Busey for making a great bad guy.

 

 

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE – SEASON 2

Main Cast

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
George Newbern (Law & Order: SVU)
Susan Eisenberg (Lego aquaman)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)

justice-league-season-2-2-twilight-part-2-brainiac-review-episode-guide-list

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Corey Burton (Transformers)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Mitchell Ryan (Halloween 6)
Rob Paulsen (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Tom Kenny (The Super Hero Squad Show)
William Atherton (Die Hard)
Fairuza Balk (The Craft)
Dana Delany (Tombstone)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Jason Marsden (Hocus Pocus)
David Kaufman (Prom Night)
Dorie Barton (Down With Love)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Kim Mai Guest (TMNT)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Diane Pershing (Gotham Girls)
Bruce McGill (Lincoln)
Ted McGinley (No Good Nick)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Lukas Haas (Inception)
Tracey Walter (batman)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Brian Doyle-Murray (JFK)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Scott Rummell (Six)
Kristin Bauer van Straten (Nocturnal Animals)
Powers Boothe (Sin City)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lamabs)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Brad Garrett (Tangled)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Khary Payton (The Walking Dead)
Greg Cipes (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans Go)
John C. McGinley (Scrubs)
Hynden Walch (Groundhog Day)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Kimberly Brooks (Voltron)
Robert Ito (Midway)
Victor Rivers (The Mask of Zorro)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Elizabeth Peña (The Incredibles)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

MV5BMTkxOTY5NTY5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjEwOTM2MjE@._V1_Now this is more like it. Justice League’s second season takes all of the wrinkles found in the first year and smoothes them over. The action is bigger, the stories are more exciting, and Batman’s rating on the cool-o-meter reaches new highs – exactly how things should be. The result is a boxed set that offers perhaps the finest collection of superhero animation that your hard-earned dollars can buy. They don’t come any better then this, kids.MV5BODg3ODYzM2QtNTIwOS00YzhjLThmMDItZTY4MDc0NzU1NDhkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Much like the comic book universe from which these characters came, the Warner Bros. superhero shows headed by Bruce Timm and friends (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond) have created a continuity and universe all their own. Justice League is the latest (and, sadly, final) entry in this cartoon universe and it takes all of the best stuff from what has come before it and combines it into a near-perfect superhero animated series. While the first season was light on character development and solid storytelling, the second season gets the balance of action, story, and character just right. Again we’ve got great supporting characters and villains from the DC universe; Darkseid, John Dee, Despero, and even Doomsday all make appearances.MV5BMTQxNzgzNDg3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTAwOTM2MjE@._V1_The action is also a lot more exciting, with more imagination having gone into the writing of the fights. Furthermore, this season we’ve got some great CG effects (used for vehicles and ships) – the air dogfight in Maid of Honor between the Batwing and some jetfighters is especially cool to watch.  Another standout this season is the music. The series composers (Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion, and Kristopher Carter) have created some amazing stuff here. In each episode you’ll find several musical cues that will really get your attention and at least one that will tug at the ol’ heartstrings. The music knows when to fade into the background and let the images do the work and when to take centre stage. With stuff this good you want the music to take centre stage as much as possible. There is a Princess Mononoke-esque “nature endures” moment in Hearts and Minds where the score was just wonderful. The music in these episodes is too good for a cartoon TV show.MV5BMTQ1MjM0MTMwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjc5ODM2MjE@._V1_So the action is awesome, Superman is fixed, and the music is one-of-a-kind. All that’s left is the writing… and it’s the best part. The writing here is really great, with story and character always being the focus of each episode. A Better World answers a simple question in an interesting way: what if Superman crossed the line? In an alternate universe, Superman realizes that Luthor really is an unredeemable villain and he kills him. We see that the murder – even the murder of a monster like Luthor – changes both Superman and the League. They become Big Brother-like sentries of the planet. When a cross-dimensional rift is opened, this “darker” league (known as the Justice Lords) has a showdown with our untainted heroes. The episode brings up some very interesting questions and is a blast to watch.MV5BMTYwOTU0OTUwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk5ODM2MjE@._V1_We’ve also got some fantastic variety. The Paul Dini-penned Comfort and Joy is a very touching Christmas episode, while Hereafter transports Superman to a Planet of the Apes-ish future where he is the planet’s sole survivor (he even grows a Robinson Crusoe beard and fashions himself a jungle-machete!). The Terror Beyond makes for a very fun H.P. Lovecraft-inspired romp which sees Solomon Grundy fighting his way into the brain of the massive Ichthulhu (voiced by Rob Zombie) and wrestling a nightmare creature inside this thing’s head. Very bizarre, but very cool. Finally there’s the three-part season finale, Starcrossed. This is a balls-to-the-wall action spectacular which culminates in Batman piloting the League’s watchtower into the planet, while Green Lantern and Hawkgirl’s relationship is torn to shreds.MV5BMTkxMDQzODI2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDIwOTM2MjE@._V1_This is a fantastic collection of episodes, to be sure, but there are still a few nitpicks that keep the set from getting a perfect score. For one, while Superman is tougher, much of the new attitude doesn’t feel genuine – it seems that they wanted to make him “cooler” so they made him more badass. Problem is, Superman isn’t a badass character. Second, there are a few episodes (Maid of Honor and Eclipsed) that feel somewhat stale, and one episode, Wild Cards, that, sadly, let its driving gag get the better of the story. On TV you’ll find many cartoons, but you’ll only find one Justice League – its second season is a shining example of superhero animation done right in virtually every respect. Most importantly, the show’s creators have crafted a series that respects the intelligence, attention-span, and maturity of its audience. This isn’t just a kids show nor is it just a television show. It’s Justice League – and it’s great.

REVIEW: HALLOWEEN VI: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS

CAST

Donald Pleasence (The Great Escape)
Paul Rudd (Ant Man)
Marianne Hagan (I Think I Do)
George P. Wilbur (A Nightmare on Elm Street 5)
Devin Gardner (A Kid Called Danger)
Mitchell Ryan (Liar Liar)
J.C. Brandy (What Lies Beneath)
Mariah O’Brien (Dirt)

On October 31, 1989, Michael Myers and his niece Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) have been abducted by a mysterious “Man in Black” at the Haddonfield Police Station. Six years later, teenager Jamie (J. C. Brandy) has been impregnated and her baby is born on Halloween Eve. The baby is carried away by the “Man in Black” who appears to be the leader of a Druid-like cult. Later that night, a nurse (Susan Swift), helps Jamie escape with her baby and is soon killed by Michael (George P. Wilbur). Jamie and her baby flee in a stolen pickup. Stopping briefly at a deserted bus station, Jamie makes a call to a Haddonfield radio station to warn them that Michael is about to return home, only to be ignored by the radio D.J. Barry Simms (Leo Geter) who is doing a broadcast on the Haddonfield murders.

Meanwhile, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), now retired, is visited by his friend and colleague Dr. Terence Wynn (Mitch Ryan), the chief administrator of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium where Michael had been incarcerated as a boy, to Loomis to return to Smith’s Grove. During their conversation they overhear Jamie’s plea for help on a local radio station. Later, Jamie drives back on the road followed by Michael, who causes her to crash into an old barn. Michael kills his niece by impaling her on a corn thresher and then activating it, but finds that Jamie’s baby is not in the truck.

Back in Haddonfield, Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd), whom Laurie Strode babysat in the first film, now lives in a boarding house run by Mrs. Blankenship (Janice Knickrehm), a mysterious old woman. The family living in the Myers house across the street are relatives of the Strode family: Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan), her six-year-old son, Danny (Devin Gardner), her teenage brother, Tim (Keith Bogart), and her parents Debra (Kim Darby) and John (Bradford English). For years, Tommy has been obsessed with finding the truth behind the motives of Michael Myers. He finds Jamie’s baby at the bus station, takes him into his care and names him Steven. Tommy runs into Dr. Loomis and tells him that the Strodes are living in the Myers house. The two believe Michael has returned to Haddonfield.

After Dr. Loomis tells her that she is living in Michael’s home, Debra calls John to tell him she wants to leave Haddonfield but is killed by Michael. Later, Kara returns home to find Danny in his room with Tommy, whom he had met while on his way home. The three go to the boarding house, where Tommy reveals that he believes Michael has been inflicted with the curse of Thorn by a Druid-inspired cult. Thorn is an ancient Druid symbol that represented a demon that spread sickness and caused destruction. To prevent this, one child from each tribe was chosen to bear the curse of Thorn to offer a blood sacrifice of its next of kin on the night of Samhain (Halloween). When the corresponding Thorn constellation appears, Michael appears. The curse explains why Michael is out to kill his family and also accounts for his superhuman abilities. Tommy believes that Steven will be Michael’s final sacrifice.

While Tommy goes out to look for Dr. Loomis at a party at the Haddonfield Junior College, Mrs. Blankenship reveals to Kara that she was babysitting Michael Myers when he killed his sister many years ago, and that Danny hears the “voice” (from the “Man in Black”) telling him to kill just like Michael did, indicating that Danny also possesses the power of Thorn. Meanwhile, Michael kills John and Tim Strode, Tim’s girlfriend Beth (Mariah O’Brien), and Barry Simms. After Tommy returns home with Dr. Loomis, the “Man in Black” finally reveals himself to be Dr. Wynn. The “Cult of Thorn” take Kara, Danny, Steven, and Michael to Smith’s Grove. There, Loomis confronts Dr. Wynn who credits Loomis for first recognizing the evil power of Thorn inside Michael, which the cult wants to control and study, and that Jamie’s baby represents the dawn of a new age. Loomis is then knocked unconscious by a staff member.

Tommy finds Kara locked in a room in the maximum security ward and frees her. In one of the main hallways, they see Wynn and a team of scientists walk into an operating room to perform an unknown procedure. Tommy and Kara sneak into the adjoining room where they find Danny and Steven. Michael, angry at being exploited by Wynn and his staff, walks into the operating room with a surgical machete and slaughters them all. Tommy, Kara, and the kids run with Michael in hot pursuit, and hide in a high-tech laboratory. Inside the lab, Kara notices tanks containing human fetuses with a chart of runes and scientific letter codes connected together by the Thorn symbol, suggesting that the cult of scientists have been exploiting the evil power of Thorn for the benefit of medical science.It is implied that they have been trying to clone pure evil using the desired genes that Michael and Danny possess by impregnating their female relatives (i.e. Jamie and Kara), to replicate Thorn in its most powerful form, Steven being the successful result of this experiment. Michael breaks into the room. Tommy injects him with a corrosive liquid and beats him into unconsciousness with a lead pipe. As Dr. Loomis, Tommy, Kara, Danny, and Steven are about to escape, Loomis tells them to go on without him because he has “a little business” to attend to. Back inside the building, Michael’s mask is found lying on the floor of the lab room as the screams of Dr. Loomis can be heard in the background leaving the ending ambiguous.

Halloween 6 is full of top notch action sequences and some genuinely scary moments. Joe Chappelle directs with an obvious flare for this genre, and many of the scenes remind me of the original film.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – SEASON 1-7

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MAIN CAST

Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The Gift)
Denise Corsby (Dolly Dearest)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Gates McFadden (Franklin & Bash)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Diana Muldaur (Born Free)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

DeForest Kelley (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral)
John De Lancie (The Secret Circle)
Michael Bell (Tangled)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Elektra)
Brooke Bundy (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 & 4)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Carolyn McCormick (Enemy Mine)
Katy Boyer (The Island)
Michael Pataki (Rocky IV)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Judson Scott (Blade)
Merritt Butrick (Fright Night: Part 2)
Leon Rippy (Stargate)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th – Part 8)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
Ray Walston (The Sting)
Whoppi Godlberg (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Chris Latta (G.I.Joe)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Clyde Kusatsu (Doctor Strange 70s)
Paddi Edwards (Halloween III)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Masters of The Universe)
Mitchell Ryan (Lethal Weapon)
Nikki Cox (Las Vegas)
Lycia Naff (Total Recall)
Robert Costanzo (Batman: TAS)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Scott Grimes (American Dad)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Andreas Katsulas (Babylon 5)
Simon Templeton (James Bond Jr.)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Corbin Bernsen (The Tomorrow Man)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Tricia O’ Neil (Titanic)
Hallie Todd (Sabrina: TTW)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13)
Mark Lenard (Planet of The Apes TV)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Elizabeth Dennehy (Gattaca)
George Murodck (Battlestar Galactica)
Jeremy Kemp (Conan)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Beth Toussaint (Fortress 2)
April Grace (Lost)
Patti Yasutake (The Closer)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
Bebe Neuwirth (Jumanji)
Rosalind Chao (Freaky Friday)
Jennifer Hetrick (L.A. Law)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Theodore Bikel (Babylon 5)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Gwyneth Walsh (Taken)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Ashley Judd (Divergent)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil TV)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
Malachi Throne (Batman 60s)
Henry Darrow (The Hitcher)
Daniel Roebuck (Lost)
Kathryn Leigh Scott (Three Christs)
Pamela Adlon (Better Things)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Elizabeth Hoffman (Stargate SG.1)
Stephen Lee (Wargames)
Kevin Peter Hall (Predator)
Richard Cox (Alpha House)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Ed Lauter (The Number 23)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Shay Astar (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Alexander Enberg (Junior)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)
Richard Cansino (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Anne Ramsay (Mad About You)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Suzie Plakson (How I Met Your Mother)
Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes)
Max Grodénchik (The Rocketeer)
Lanei Chapman (Rat Race)
Barbara Tarbuck (S. Darko)
Mike Hagerty (Overboard)
Michele Scarabelli (Alien Nation)
George Coe (Kramer vs Kramer)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Clive Revill (Batman: TAS)
Jean Simmons (Spartacus)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Stephanie Beacham (The Colbys)
Reg E. Cathey (Fantastic Four)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Richard Herd (V)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Salome Jens (Superboy)
Andrew Prine (V)
J.C. Brandy (Halloween 6)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
John Neville (The Fifth Element)
Ned Romero (The Lost Child)
Stephen Hawking (Futurama)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Joel Swetow (The Orville)
Bruce Gray (Starship Troopers)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Robin Curtis (General Hospital)
Julie Caitlin Brown (Babylon 5)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring it On)
Lee Arenberg (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Fionnula Flanagan (Lost)
Mark Bramhall (Alias)
Stephen Root (Dodgeball)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Bones)
Jonathan Del Arco (The Closer)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Alexander Enberg (junior)
Ellen Albertini Dow (The Wedding Singer)
Brenda Bakke (Hot Shots 2)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas)
Erich Anderson (Friday The 13th 4)
Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs)
Robert Ito (Quincy M.E.)
Vyto Ruginis (Moneyball)
Richard McGonagle (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Time Winters (Thinner)

When the TNG series premiered in 1987, it wasn’t greeted well by many of the old-time Trek fans, including myself. It didn’t help matters that one of the earliest episodes, “The Naked Now” was a superficial retread of the classic “The Naked Time” from ’66. The new episode should have served as a way of spotlighting several of the new crew, but all it did was show them all in heat. I wasn’t too impressed. What did work was keeping the central theme of exploration (something lost in the offshoots, DS9 & Voyager). The new Enterprise was twice as large as the original, with about a thousand personnel aboard. Capt. Picard (Stewart) was a more cerebral, diplomatic version of the ultimate explorer we had known as Capt. Kirk. Again, Picard wasn’t too impressive in the first two awkward seasons, as some may mistake his caution for weakness. The Kirk-like first officer Riker (Frakes) was controlled by Picard, so the entire crew of Enterprise-D came across as a bit too civilized, too complacent for their own good. It’s interesting that this complacency was fractured by the most memorable episode of the first two years, “Q Who?” which introduced The Borg. All of a sudden, exploration was not a routine venture.

Other memorable episodes of the first 2 years: the double-length pilot, introducing Q; “Conspiracy”-an early invasion thriller; “Where No One Has Gone Before”-an ultimate attempt to define the exploring theme; “The Big Goodbye”-the first lengthy exploration of the new holodeck concept; “Datalore”-intro of Data’s evil twin; “Skin of Evil”-death of Tasha Yar; “11001001”-perhaps the best holodeck story; and “The Measure of a Man”-placing an android on trial. Except for “Q Who” the 2nd year was even more of a letdown from the first. Space started to percolate in the 3rd season. I liked “The Survivors”-introducing an entity resembling Q in a depressed mood, and “Deja Q” with both Q & Guinan squaring off, as well as other alien beings. A remaining drawback was the ‘techno-babble’ hindering many scripts, an aspect which made them less exciting than the stories of the original series. As Roddenberry himself believed, when characters spoke this way, it did not come across as naturalistic, except maybe when it was Data (Spiner), the android. The engineer La Forge (Burton), for example, was usually saddled with long, dull explanatory dialog for the audience.

In the 3rd year, truly innovative concepts such as the far-out parallel-universe adventure “Yesterday’s Enterprise” began to take hold, topped by the season-ender “The Best of Both Worlds,part 1” in which The Borg returned in their first try at assimilating Earth. After this and the 2nd part, the TNG show was off and running, at full warp speed. There are too many great episodes from the next 4 seasons to list here, but I tended to appreciate the wild, cosmic concept stories best: “Parallels”(s7); “Cause and Effect”(s5); “Timescape”(s6); “Tapestry”(s6); and the scary “Frame of Mind”, “Schisms” and “Genesis.” There’s also the mind-blowing “Inner Light”(s5), “Conundrum” and “Ship in a Bottle”(s6), “Second Chances.” The intense 2-parter “Chain of Command” was almost like a film, and the great return of Scotty in “Relics” was very entertaining, though it showed you can’t go home again. The show also continued to tackle uneasy social issues, as in “The Host”, “The Outcast”, “First Contact” and “The Drumhead” as well as political:”Darmok”, “Rightful Heir”, “Face of the Enemy” and “The Pegasus.” The series ended on a strong note, “All Good Things…” a double-length spectacular with nearly the budget of a feature film. But it wasn’t really the end. A few months later, an actual feature film was released “Star Trek Generations”(94). It’s rather ironic that the TNG films couldn’t match the innovation and creativity of the last 4 seasons of the series. “Star Trek Insurrection”(98) for example, is a lesser effort than any of the episodes mentioned above.

REVIEW: JUDGE DREDD (1995)

CAST
Sylvester Stallone (Driven)
Armand Assante (American Gangster)
Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick)
Jürgen Prochnow (Ripper)
Max von Sydow (Game of Thrones)
Diane Lane (Man of Steel)
Joanna Miles  (All My Children)
Balthazar Getty (Alias)
Ewen Bremner  (Trainspotting)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Mitchell Ryan (Halloween 6)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
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By the 2080s, much of Earth has become an uninhabitable wasteland. While some humans manage to survive in the barren “Cursed Earth”, the majority of humanity resides in huge Mega-Cities with populations of tens of millions. To combat crime, the traditional justice system has been replaced by a corps of Judges whose role combines those of police officer, judge, jury, and executioner.
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In Mega-City One, Joseph Dredd (Sylvester Stallone), one of the most dedicated “Street Judges”, assists rookie Judge Hershey (Diane Lane) in ending a block war. Herman “Fergee” Ferguson (Rob Schneider), a hacker recently released from prison, is caught in the firefight and hides inside a food dispensing robot. Dredd arrests Herman for destruction of property, and sentences him to five years’ imprisonment. Rico (Armand Assante), a former Judge, escapes from prison with the help of Judge Griffin (Jürgen Prochnow). He returns to Mega-City One and reclaims his uniform and “Lawgiver” gun. He also finds and reactivates a decommissioned ABC Warrior combat robot. A news reporter (Mitch Ryan) critical of Dredd is murdered, and he becomes the chief suspect. Dredd is taken to a trial before a tribunal of Council Judges including Griffin and Chief Justice Fargo (Max von Sydow), his mentor. Dredd is found guilty as his DNA is found on the bullets used to kill the reporter (A feature of the Lawgiver is imprinting the user’s DNA on each bullet). To save Dredd, Fargo steps down as Chief Justice and, for his last request, asks the Council to spare Dredd’s life. Dredd is sentenced to life imprisonment while Fargo embarks on his “long walk”, in which a retiring Judge ventures into the wasteland “to bring law to the lawless”. Griffin, who freed Rico to frame Dredd for the murder, becomes Chief Justice and instruct Rico to cause chaos in the city.
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Dredd is taken to the Aspen penal colony via airship, where he sits next to Herman. En route, the ship is shot down by the Angel Gang, a family of cannibalistic scavengers. They bring Dredd and Herman back to their cave. A squad of Judges investigate the crashed ship and get to the cave. A battle ensues. Fargo arrives in time to save Dredd’s life, but is mortally wounded by Mean Machine Angel (Chris Adamson). A dying Fargo reveals that Dredd and Rico are the result of the Janus project, an experiment in genetic engineering intended to create the perfect Judge using DNA from Council Judges. Dredd deduces Rico framed him for the reporter’s murder, using their identical DNA. Believing Griffin is trying to reactivate the Janus project, Fargo urges Dredd to stop him. In Mega-City One, Rico terrorize the city and assassinates the Judges. Griffin uses the situation to convince the Council Judges to unlock the Janus files. He plans to create an army of Judges from his DNA. After the Council Judges unlocks the file, Griffin has them killed. Dredd and Herman sneak back into the city and meet with Hershey, who had also discovered the Janus project by herself. They go to the Statue of Liberty where the Janus laboratories are. They encounter the ABC Warrior, which wounds Herman and captures Dredd and Hershey. Rico uses his own DNA as template for the Janus clones, then commands the ABC Warrior to kill Griffin. Herman, despite his wounds, disables the ABC Warrior as Dredd fights Rico, while Hershey fights his assistant. Rico activates his clones prematurely, but they fail to stop Dredd. Dredd pursues Rico to the top of the Statue of Liberty, and a final struggle sends Rico falling to his death.
Central, the city’s controlling supercomputer, has recorded the entire event and broadcasts the information, clearing Dredd’s name. The remaining Judges ask him to become the new Chief Justice, but Dredd refuses and remains a street judge.

Danny Cannon’s Judge Dredd is an entertaining enough sci-fi action flick, but I can’t help wincing whenever I watch it. Cannon claims to be a fan of the original comic strip, which suggests that he didn’t have a great deal of creative control, because plenty of liberties are taken here. I would never have expected the makers of the movie to be 100% faithful to the comic, but some of the changes that were made were superficial and pointless, and that’s what irritates me. For one thing it’s set in the wrong year, the Chief Judge is inexplicably called Chief Justice, Rico is locked up in Aspen rather than Titan, the heroic Chief Judge Griffin is one of the movie’s villains, while in the comic both McGruder and Silver were Chief Judges… and Silver was black!As a movie it’s okay. The dialogue is pretty awful and the acting is adequate. The action scenes also just-about pass muster, although the hover-bike chase fails to convince, and the climactic punch-up in the Statue of Liberty is a bit of a damp squib. In the end though, it’s all fairly entertaining nonsense. It’s just a shame that when the producers decide to bring Dredd to the big screen, they didn’t have the courage to do it properly – as far as I’m concerned not hiring John Wagner or Alan Grant to work on the script was a crime worthy of life in an Iso-Cube.

REVIEW: LIAR LIAR

 

CAST

Jim Carrey (Yes Man)
Maura Tierney (The Affair)
Justin Cooper (Brother’s Keeper)
Cary Elwes (Saw)
Anne Haney (Psycho)
Jennifer Tilly (Bride of Chucky)
Amanda Donohue (Bad Girls)
Jason Bernard (V)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Mitchell Ryan (Lethal Weapon)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Randall Cobb (Raising Arizona)
Cheri Oteri (Scary Movie)
Krista Allen (The Final Destination)
Jim Jansen (A.I.)
Terry Rhoads (Two and a Half Men)
Vitamin C (Get Over It)

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