REVIEW: X-MEN: THE LAST STAND

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CAST

Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Hugh Jackman (Swordfish)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
James Marsden (Westworld)
Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty)
Anna Paquin (true Blood)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Aaron Stanford (The Hills Have Eyes)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Daniel Cudmore (Twilight: New Moon)
Kea Wong (Snow Day)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Vinnie Jones (Mean Machine)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
R. Lee Emey (Full Metal Jacket)
Anthony Heald (The Silence of The Lambs)
Dania Ramierez (Heroes)
Michael Murphy (Batman Returns)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Adjustment Bureau)
Bill Duke (Bird on a Wire)
Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy)
Meiling Melançon (Rush Hour 2)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Cameron Bright (Godsend)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Bryce Hodgson (Izombie)

Twenty years in the past, Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr meet young Jean Grey at her parents’ house to invite her to join their school, the X-Mansion. Ten years later, the industrialist father of Warren Worthington III discovers his son is a mutant as Warren tries to cut off his wings.In the present, Worthington Labs announces it has developed an inoculation to suppress the X-gene that gives mutants their abilities, and offer the “cure” to any mutant who wants it. The cure is created from the genome of a young mutant named Jimmy, who lives at the Worthington facility on Alcatraz Island. While some mutants are interested in the cure, including the X-Men’s Rogue, many others are horrified by the announcement. Lehnsherr re-establishes his Brotherhood of Mutants with those who oppose the cure, warning his followers that the cure will be forcefully used to exterminate the mutant race.With help from Pyro, Lehnsherr recruits Callisto and several other mutants. They attack the mobile prison holding Mystique to free her, also freeing Juggernaut and Multiple Man. Mystique saves Lehnsherr by taking a shot of the mutant cure aimed at him, rendering her human. Hateful of humans, Lehnsherr abandons Mystique, much to her shock. Meanwhile, Scott Summers, still distraught over the loss of his fiancée, Jean Grey, drives to her resting location at Alkali Lake. Jean appears to Summers but, as the two kiss, Jean kills him. Sensing trouble, Xavier sends Logan and Storm to investigate. When they arrive, they find only telekinetically floating rocks, Summers’ glasses, and an unconscious Jean.When they return to the X-Mansion, Xavier explains to Logan that when Jean sacrificed herself, she also freed the “Phoenix”, a dark and powerful alternate personality which Xavier had telepathically repressed, fearing the Phoenix’s destructive potential. Logan is disgusted to learn of this psychic tampering with Jean’s mind but, once she awakens, he discovers that she killed Summers and is not the Jean Grey he once knew. The Phoenix emerges, knocks out Logan, and escapes to her childhood home.Lehnsherr learns of Jean’s resurrection through Callisto, and the X-Men arrive at the Grey home at the same time as the Brotherhood. Lehnsherr and Xavier go in alone, and both vie for Jean’s loyalty until the Phoenix resurfaces. She destroys the house and disintegrates Xavier before leaving with Lehnsherr. The Brotherhood decides to strike Worthington Labs, and the government sends multiple teams to attack the Brotherhood’s base in the forest, with information gained from Mystique, furious over Lehnsherr’s betrayal. However, the life forms in the camp are all copies of Multiple Man, and Lehnsherr uses his powers to move the Golden Gate Bridge so he and his army can get to Alcatraz and facilitate the attack on Worthington Labs. The remaining X-Men confront the Brotherhood, despite being significantly outnumbered, and arrive just as the military troops who thus far have been neutralizing the attacking mutants are overwhelmed by the Brotherhood.During the fight, Kitty Pryde saves Jimmy from Juggernaut, who had been sent to kill him. Logan has Colossus throw him at Lehnsherr and distract him long enough for Hank McCoy to inject Lehnsherr with the “cure” and thus nullify his powers. Army reinforcements arrive and shoot at Jean just as Logan had calmed her down. The Phoenix is awakened by the attack and disintegrates the troops in retaliation. The Phoenix then begins to destroy Alcatraz and anyone within range of her powers. Logan realizes that only he can stop the Phoenix due to his healing factor. When Logan approaches her, Jean momentarily gains control and begs him to save her. Logan fatally stabs Jean, destroying the Phoenix, but mourns for her death.Sometime later, mutant rights are finally obtained and Xavier’s school is still operating with Storm as headmistress. The President of the United States appoints McCoy as ambassador to the United Nations. Rogue reveals to Bobby Drake that she has taken the cure, much to his disappointment. Meanwhile, Lehnsherr sits alone at a chessboard in a San Francisco park. As he gestures toward a metal chess piece, it wobbles slightly, indicating his powers to be returning and the “cure” to be temporary. In a post-credits scene, Moira MacTaggert checks on a comatose patient who greets her with Xavier’s voice, leaving her startled.Not the greatest of the X-Men films, but not too bad nonetheless. I enjoyed it, some of the action set pieces are very impressive.

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REVIEW: PETER PAN (2003)

CAST

Jeremy Sumpter (Excision)
Jason Isaacs (Fury)
Rachel Hurd-Wood (Dorian Gray)
Lynn Redgrave (Kinsey)
Richard Briers (Murder She said)
Olivia Williams (An Education)
Ludivine Sagnier (The Young Pope)
Saffron Burrows (Deep Blue Sea)
Bruce Spence (Mad Max 2)

In the nursery of the Darling home located in Edwardian era London in 1904, Wendy Darling tells her younger brothers John and Michael stories about a boy called Peter Pan and his fairy friend Tinker Bell. Life is disrupted when their Aunt Millicent intervenes. Judging Wendy to be an “almost” full-grown woman, Aunt Millicent advises Mr. and Mrs. Darling to think of Wendy’s future, saying that Wendy should spend less time in the nursery, and more time with herself, to become a grown woman. The very idea terrifies the children.

Wendy daydreams about having seen Peter in the night, and along with the family’s “nurse” dog Nana, embarrasses her father in front of his superiors. As a punishment, Mr. Darling chains Nana outside and declares it time for Wendy to grow up. Peter visits the nursery again looking for his shadow, which Nana had bitten off, and introduces himself. After being acquainted, Wendy sews his shadow back on and is enchanted by Peter’s tales of his adventures in Neverland. She asks Peter if she can kiss him, but because he does not know what a kiss is, ends up giving him a thimble instead. He returns the “kiss” by plucking an acorn from his shirt and giving it to her. Peter invites her to be “mother” to his gang of Lost Boys. She asks to bring her brothers, John and Michael, to which Peter agrees. He grabs Tinker Bell and shakes fairy dust on the children and tells them to think of happy thoughts. Nana, having escaped her chain, leads Mr. and Mrs. Darling back home, but they arrive too late to stop the children.

The Children fly over London and then to Neverland. They spy on Captain Hook’s(Isaacs) ship from a cloud. The pirates spot them and attack with their cannons. One knocks Wendy far away and the other causes Michael and John to fall towards the island below. Peter tells Tinker Bell to find Wendy and take her back to the hideout while he gets the boys. But Tinker Bell reaches the hideout without Wendy and out of jealousy, tricks the Lost Boys into shooting Wendy with an arrow. The boys learn the truth and confess to Peter but Wendy is revealed not to have been killed as the arrow hit the acorn necklace hung around her neck. Angry, Peter banishes Tinker Bell and ends their friendship. When Wendy finally awakens she finds the Lost Boys on their knees begging her to be their mother, which she accepts. They blindfold her and lead her to their hideout, and she finally realizes her brothers are missing. Michael and John stumble across the crocodile that ate Hook’s hand then encounter the Native American princess Tiger Lily (Carsen Gray). All three are then captured by Hook and taken to the Black Castle to use as bait for Peter Pan. Wendy and Peter visit the mermaids’ lagoon to ask the dark and mysterious creatures to help in locating John and Michael, and learn that Hook has her brothers. Peter and Hook engage in a duel but it is stopped when the ticking crocodile arrives and tries to eat Hook, allowing the children to all escape.

That night, after a celebration at the Indians’ camp, Peter shows Wendy the fairies’ home and the two share a dance. Hook spies on the two and soon comes across Tinker Bell, who is still hurt and upset from being banished, and charms her into telling him more about Peter and Wendy. Peter becomes upset with Wendy after she tries to get him to tell her if he loves her in return and tells her to go home and grow up if she’s not happy. Wendy, hurt, leaves to be alone. Hook has the sleeping Wendy carried to his ship. There, he entices her to become a pirate but sends a spy to follow her to the Lost Boys’ underground hideout afterwards. Wendy soon comes to her senses and tells her brothers that the three of them will be going home, which upsets Peter. The Lost Boys ask if they can go too, upsetting Peter even more. Wendy tries to say goodbye to Peter but he turns away in sadness. She leaves him a cup of medicine and tells him not to forget to take it.

The pirates capture the boys outside and Hook goes down into the tree and puts a drop of poison in Peter’s medicine. He is about to drink the medicine, but Tinker Bell stops him and drinks the poison herself. Peter telepathically reaches out to children sleeping around the world, the Darlings, Aunt Millicent, the Lost Boys, and even the pirates to assert their belief in fairies, which brings Tinker Bell back to life. Peter and Tinker Bell save Wendy and the boys from walking the plank by making the pirates think the crocodile is on board, and a battle soon breaks out. Hook sprinkles himself with Tinker Bell’s fairy dust and fights Peter in a duel while flying. Hook taunts him about Wendy abandoning him and forgetting all about him when she grows up. Weakened by those thoughts and unable to fight, Peter gives in to his inevitable death. Seeing this as goodbye, Wendy gives Peter her hidden kiss, which gives him the strength to recover. Peter re-engages Hook, who loses his confidence and falls into the waiting jaws of the crocodile.

With the ship covered in fairy dust, Peter flies Wendy and the boys back to London. Mr. and Mrs. Darling are overjoyed at the return of their children, and adopt the Lost Boys. Slightly, who got lost on the way to London and arrives at the house too late, is adopted by the lonely Aunt Millicent. Peter promises never to forget Wendy and to return someday before heading back to Neverland with Tinker Bell. According to the adult Wendy, she never saw Peter again, but she continues to tell his story to her own children and grandchildren so that his legacy will last forever.

Hogan and company have brought the Barrie work to the screen and have rightly restored to it a child’s sense of awe and wonder, of both beauty and terror co-existing side by side and for this reason alone it is the definitive film version of Peter Pan

REVIEW: ANNA KARENINA (2012)


CAST

Keira Knightley (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Jude Law (Spy)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla)
Matthew Macfadyen (Enigma)
Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire)
Alicia Vikander (Jason Bourne)
Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger)
Emily Watson (The Theory of Everything)
Michelle Dockery (Hanna)
Raphaël Personnaz (Three Words)
Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad)
Bill Skarsgård (Allegiant)
Alexander Roach (The Huntsman)

In 1874 Imperial Russia, Prince Stephan “Stiva” Oblonsky’s wife, Princess Daria “Dolly”, banishes her husband from their home due to his infidelity. Stiva’s sister, Anna Karenina, a well off and liked socialite living in St. Petersburg with her older husband, Count Alexei Karenin, and their son, Seryozha, travels to Moscow to persuade Dolly to forgive Stiva. Meanwhile, Stiva meets his old friend Konstantin Levin, a wealthy land owner and aristocrat who is looked down upon by Moscow’s elite for preferring country life to city life. Levin professes his love for Stiva’s sister-in-law, Princess Katerina “Kitty” Alexandrovna, and Stiva encourages him to propose. However, Kitty declines as she hopes to marry Count Alexei Vronsky. Later, Levin meets with his elder brother Nikolai, who has given up his inheritance and taken a prostitute named Masha as his wife. Nikolai suggests that Levin marry one of the peasants on his estate. On the train to Moscow, Anna meets Vronsky’s mother, Countess Vronskaya, and once there Anna meets Vronsky himself, and they have immediate mutual attraction. When a railway worker is killed in an accident at the station, Vronsky is seen by Anna, Stiva, and the Countess giving a large sum of money to the worker’s family. Anna convinces Dolly to take Stiva back. At a ball that night, Kitty attempts to dance with Vronsky, but he dances with Anna, attracting the attention of everyone in attendance and leaving Kitty heartbroken. Anna boards a train to St. Petersburg, but at a rest stop notices Vronsky, who declares that he must be wherever she goes. She tells him to go back to Moscow, but he refuses.
In St. Petersburg, Vronsky visits his cousin Princess Betsy Tverskaya, a friend of the Kareninas, and begins to show up at all the places Anna and Betsy visit. Vronsky flirts openly with Anna at a party, which catches Karenin’s attention. He suggests they go home, but Anna chooses to stay. Vronsky tells her of his intention to take a promotion in another city but Anna persuades him to stay and the next day they meet at a hotel and make love.
Stiva visits Levin at his country estate and informs Levin that Kitty and Vronsky are no longer to be married. Levin focuses on living an authentic country life, working in his fields with his workers and contemplating taking one of their daughters as his wife, as his brother had suggested.
Karenin hears that his wife and Vronsky are in the country estate and surprises them there, after she reveals to Vronsky that she is pregnant. Later she encounters Karenin who suggests he join them for the horse races that evening. The races begin, and Anna betrays her feelings for Vronsky as his horse falls and injures him. On their way home Anna admits to Karenin that she is Vronsky’s mistress and wishes to divorce him. Karenin refuses and instead confines her to home. Levin sees Kitty in a passing carriage and realises that he still loves her. Anna receives Vronsky at her house in St. Petersburg and as she complains about why he failed to come earlier, he tells her that his duties as an officer have delayed his visit. Karenin comes back home to find out that Vronsky was visiting Anna, as seen from the love letters found in her desk. Meanwhile, Levin and Kitty are reunited at Stiva’s house, and Karenin announces he is divorcing Anna, who begs him to forgive her, which he refuses. After dinner, Levin and Kitty announce their love to each other and decide to marry. Anna goes into premature labour. With Vronsky at her side, she berates him, saying that he could never be the man Karenin is. Karenin comes back knowing that she is going to die and forgives her. Anna survives and initially decides to stay with her husband. Princess Betsy calls on Anna to discuss what will happen with Vronsky now that he is back in Moscow. Anna suggests that Betsy better discuss it with Karenin, who believes that they will be reunited as a family. However, upon Anna’s recovery, she chooses to be with Vronsky. Karenin refuses to grant her a divorce, but releases Anna from her confinement. She and Vronsky soon leave for Italy with Anya.
Levin and Kitty return to his country estate, where the sickly Nikolai and Masha have been given a storeroom to live there. Levin tells Kitty that she doesn’t have to live under the same roof as the former prostitute, but the newly matured Kitty ignores social norms and assists Masha in nursing Nikolai.
Anna returns to St. Petersburg to see Seryozha on his birthday, but Karenin makes her leave after a short time. Anna now begins to suspect Vronsky of unfaithfulness. She attends the opera where the upper class audience regard her with disdain as someone who “has broken the rules”. Though humiliated, she retains her poise, only to break down once back at her hotel. The next day, Anna has lunch at a restaurant where the society women avoid her. Dolly, however, joins her and tells her that Kitty is in Moscow to have her first child. Dolly says that Stiva’s behavior has not changed, but she has come to accept and love him for who he is. Later, Vronsky informs Anna that he has to meet his mother to settle some accounts, but there Anna sees Princess Sorokina picking him up. Anna becomes upset, and takes the train to see if Vronsky is truly with his mother. On the way, she has hallucinations of Vronsky and Princess Sorokina making love and laughing at her. Arriving at Moscow station, Anna says to herself, “Oh God… ” and jumps under an oncoming train that kills her. The scene then flashes to Vronsky who has a shocked face as if knowing his true love has died. Levin returns home from working in the fields to find Kitty bathing their child. Stiva and his family eat with Levin and Kitty. Karenin, retired by then from serving his country, is seen in his estate, with Seryozha and young Anya playing nearby.Although I sympathise with those who may find the director Joe Wright’s approach too contrived, this film held my interest, and gives scope for a good deal of discussion.

REVIEW: AN EDUCATION

CAST

Carey Mulligan (Drive)
Peter Sarsgaard (The Cell)
Dominic Cooper (Dracula Untold)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
Olvia Williams (Dollhouse)
Cara Seymour (The Savages)
Sally Hawkins (Cassandra’s Dream)
Matthew Beard (The Imitation Game)
Ellie Kendrick (Game of Thrones)

In 1961 London, Jenny Mellor is a 16-year-old schoolgirl preparing for Oxford University when she meets a charming older man driving a Bristol 405, David Goldman, who pursues her romantically. He takes her to concerts, clubs and fine restaurants, easily charming and manipulating her parents into approving of the relationship. Later, Jenny discovers that David is a con man who makes money through a variety of shady practices. She is initially shocked but silences her misgivings in the face of David’s charm. Jenny’s parents invite Graham, a boy Jenny knows from Youth Orchestra, to Jenny’s birthday party but David arrives and Graham goes home. A few days later, David takes Jenny to Paris as a birthday gift, where she loses her virginity to him. When David proposes marriage, Jenny accepts and leaves school. However, she later discovers David is already married. When she reveals her discovery to David, he drops out of sight. Jenny despairs, feeling she has thrown her life away but, with the help of her favourite teacher, resumes her studies and is accepted at Oxford the following year.The screenplay is by Nick Hornby and, like all his books, he takes a low-key drama about quite ordinary people and turns it into a really witty and gripping story. The acting is superb on all fronts. All the other aspects of the film, such as the music and the portrayal of the 1960s setting (which looks really great on Blu-ray) are really well done. No one aspect of the film is absolutely amazing, but I thought the fact that every component of it is such high quality makes it an excellent and very watchable film. .

REVIEW: THE SIXTH SENSE

CAST

Bruce Willis (Sin City)
Haley Joel Osment (A.I.)
Toni Collette (Tammy)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
Trevor Morgan (Jurassic park 3)
Donnie Wahlberg (Saw II)
Mischa Barton (The O.C.)

Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist in Philadelphia, returns home one night with his wife, Anna, after having been honored for his work. Anna tells Malcolm that everything is second to his work, and that she believes he is truly gifted. Just then, a young man appears in their bathroom, and accuses Malcolm of failing him. Malcolm recognizes him as Vincent Grey, a former patient whom he treated as a child for hallucinations. After Malcolm realizes he did fail him, Vincent shoots his former doctor before killing himself.

The next fall, Malcolm begins working with another patient, 9-year-old Cole Sear, whose case is similar to Vincent’s. Malcolm becomes dedicated to the boy, though he is haunted by doubts over his ability to help him after his failure with Vincent. Meanwhile, he and his wife seldom, if ever, speak or do anything together. Malcolm feels he must help Cole in order to rectify his failure to Vincent and reconcile with his wife. Cole’s mother, Lynn, who truly loves him, worries about his social stamina, especially after seeing signs of physical abuse. Cole eventually confides his secret to Malcolm: he sees dead people, who walk around like the living unaware they are dead.

At first, Malcolm thinks Cole is delusional and considers dropping him. Remembering Vincent, the psychologist listens to an audiotape from a session with Vincent in 1987, then a child. On the tape, when Malcolm leaves the room, and then returns, Vincent was crying. Turning up the volume, Malcolm hears a weeping man begging for help in Spanish, and now believes that Cole is telling the truth and that Vincent may have had the same ability. He suggests to Cole that he should try to find a purpose for his gift by communicating with the ghosts and perhaps aid them with their unfinished business. At first, Cole is unwilling since the ghosts terrify and sometimes even threaten him, but he finally decides to do it. Cole talks to one of the ghosts, Kyra Collins, a young chronically ill girl who recently died. He goes with Malcolm to her funeral reception at her home, where Kyra directs him to a box holding a videotape, which he then gives to her father. The tape shows Kyra’s stepmother putting a cleaning fluid in her soup. By proving she was a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, Cole has saved Kyra’s younger sister, the mother’s next victim.
Learning to live with the ghosts he sees, Cole starts to fit in at school and gets the lead in the school play, which Malcolm attends. The doctor and patient depart on positive terms and Cole suggests to Malcolm that he should try speaking to Anna while she is asleep. Later, while stuck in a traffic jam, Cole confesses his secret to Lynn, saying that someone died in an accident up ahead and he knows because the person is right next to him. Lynn does not see the recently deceased, but Cole sees a woman cyclist with blood dripping down her face. Although his mother at first does not believe him, Cole proves his ability to her by talking about how his grandmother visits him. He describes how his grandmother saw his mother in a dance performance, even though Lynn thought her mother was not there. He further relays the answer to a question his mother privately asked at her mother’s grave. When Cole says that his grandmother feels proud of Lynn, his mother tearfully accepts the truth and they hug each other. 
Malcolm returns home, where he finds his wife asleep with their wedding video playing. While still asleep, Anna asks her husband why he left her, and drops Malcolm’s wedding ring, which he suddenly discovers he has not been wearing. He remembers what Cole said about ghosts and realizes that he was actually killed by Vincent that night, and was unknowingly dead the entire time he was working with Cole. Because of Cole’s efforts, Malcolm’s unfinished business – rectifying his failure to understand and help Vincent – is finally complete. Malcolm fulfills the second reason he returned: to tell his wife she was never second, and that he loves her. His goal complete, he is free to leave the world of the living.The Sixth Sense really makes you think after watching it, it moves you in more ways than one. Plus, there are some interesting extras on the second disc which definately makes it worth buying this edition. A truely brilliant film.

 

REVIEW: DOLLHOUSE – SEASON 1-2

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MAIN CAST

Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Harry Lennix (Man of Steel)
Fran Kranz (The Cabin In The Woods)
Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica)
Enver Gjokaj (Agent Carter)
Dichen Lachman (Agents of SHIELD)
Olivia Williams (X-Men 3)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Amy Acker (Angel)
Reed Diamond (Bones)
Liza Lapira (Cloverfield)
Kevin Kilner (Earth: Final Conflict)
VIncent Ventresca (Cold Case)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Alexis Denisof (Avengers Assemble)
Keith Carradine (The Big Bang Theory)
Summer Glau (Arrow)
Matt Keeslar (Scream 3)
Miracle Laurie (Insane Jane)
Mark Sheppard (Chuck)
Erin Cumming (Spartacus)
Jim Piddock (The Man)
Anson Mount (In Her Shoes)
David Alpay (The Vampire Diaries)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Mehcad Brooks (Supergirl)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Emma Bell (Final Destination 5)
Teddy Sears (The Flash)
Jordan Bridges (J. Edgar)
Ian Anthony Dale (Mr. 3000)
Gregg Henry (Slither)
Ashley Johnson (Roswell)
Felicia Day (The Guild)
Janina Gavankar (True Blood)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Adair Tishler (Heroes)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Clayton Rohner (The Relic)
Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica)
Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Michael Hogan (Red Riding Hood)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Ray Wise (Swamp Thing)
Adam Godley (Powers)

Dollhouse is a near-future SF tv series, featuring Eliza Dushku as Echo, a woman working for the secretive “Dollhouse” who has voluntarily had her personality wiped in order to be imprinted with any mind and skills a client requires. While initially very episodic, a longer plotline slowly emerges as the more disturbing aspects of this technology and the Dollhouse emerges.

This series comes from the mind of Joss Whedon, responsible for Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. Like Firefly, Dollhouse was cancelled ignominiously in its second season, so be warned that you will not get the full story Whedon planned to write. Whedon has a real genius for producing brilliant genre TV that delights fans but doesn’t make it as a mainstream show, and the tension between his desire to tell a big story, while not alienating casual viewers, shows in the early episodes, which see Echo sent off on unrelated assignments.

Echo’s assignments range from the obvious seductions to less obvious tasks such as bodyguard and safe-cracker. As time goes on, we see her blank state slowly becoming not so blank. An outside element is provided by FBI agent Ballard, who is investigating the Dollhouse, and becomes obsessed with locating Echo and finding why she would enter the Dollhouse.

Once the first season gets into its stride it deals with rogue agent Alpha, whose eventual return causes chaos, and the ongoing investigation of Ballard. Slowly building along with this are the big questions of what the corporation behind the Dollhouse really want, what could be done with this technology, and how the apparently-wiped minds slowly find a personality. Season two attempts to kick into high gear, and throws some more radical changes into the mix, including glimpses of the eventual result of the Dollhouse technology, but ultimately couldn’t avoid cancellation.

Dollhouse has some excellent secondary characters, and tries to create an ensemble despite Dushku being very much the face of the show. Characters such as Topher, DeWitt, Langton, and Dr Saunders are brilliantly drawn, and the dialogue sparkles. As ever with a Whedon product, the characters draw you in and make you wish you could watch them again and again.

Ultimately Dollhouse is a brave but failed attempt to create something a little different, and provoke some real thought, in a genre that sometime gets too bland. It’s well worth watching, but doesn’t give the full story its vision deserved.