REVIEW: BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT (2009)

CAST

Jesse Metecalfe (Loaded)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half men)
Michael Douglas (Ant-Man)
Joel David Moore (Julia X)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Holllow)

Michael Douglas in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)Shreveport, Louisiana TV reporter C. J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) is convinced that District Attorney Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas) is corrupt, following an unbroken string of convictions based only on circumstantial evidence. After flirting with Assistant D.A. Ella Crystal (Amber Tamblyn) to obtain an evidential videotape that he hopes will be revealing, they begin dating and fall in love. The videotape suggests to Nicholas that Hunter is using one of his investigators, Lt. Merchant, to obtain DNA evidence from suspects in custody and plant the evidence to support a conviction. Still unable to prove his claim against Hunter, he is demoted from watchdog reporter to general assignment due to budget cuts. Nicholas becomes even more determined to expose Hunter, convinced that he will win a Pulitzer if successful.Jesse Metcalfe in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)He concocts an elaborate scheme to frame himself for the murder of a prostitute using circumstantial evidence. His passion for the project enlists support from Crystal—who still does not know he is gunning for her boss—and co-worker Corey Finley (Joel Moore). Finley accompanies him as he obtains objects online and from pawn shops that will circumstantially link Nicholas to the murder. Finley records these instances on video with Nicholas holding a newspaper showing the date to be after the date of the murder. The original video kept in Finley’s desk and a back-up copy is placed in a safe deposit box. Nicholas gets himself arrested for DUI by Lt Nickerson (Orlando Jones), an acquaintance and police contact of Nicholas, while wearing his falsified circumstantial evidence. He is arrested and charged with the murder. Merchant, however, requests that the case be transferred to him to steal credit for the DA, much to Nickerson’s dismay. Upon closer investigations of Nicholas’ recent activities, he becomes suspicious and informs Hunter that Nicholas is trying to set them up. Crystal, who still doesn’t know what Nicholas has been plotting, visits him in jail and offers to quit her job and join his defense team, but he convinces her not to do so.Jesse Metcalfe and Joel David Moore in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)The next step in the plan is to wait until the prosecution rests its case, then introduce the documentary evidence exposing the truth. Hunter instructs Merchant to destroy the video evidence. Finley finds his desk ransacked. Panicked, he tries to retrieve the back-up, but is pursued by Merchant in a high-speed chase in which he is killed. Nicholas reveals his plot in court using only the dated receipts for his falsified evidence, but Hunter casts doubt on his story. Nicholas has no proof that the victim’s blood, which was found on the false evidence, was planted by Hunter’s people. The jury convicts Nicholas for the crime. Crystal still believes in Nicholas and begins her own investigation, unaware that Hunter knew she was dating Nicholas. She is followed by Merchant. Nicholas is sentenced to death. Hunter visits him in prison to reveal that his phone calls to Crystal, guiding her investigation, have been recorded.Crystal obtains crime scene photos from Hunter’s convictions and takes them to digital photography experts, who determine that the objects containing the suspect’s DNA evidence in each case have been digitally added to the original photos after the fact. When she attempts to take this evidence to the police, Merchant tries to kill her with his car while she flees on foot. She is rescued by Lt. Nickerson, who shoots Merchant dead. Nickerson reveals that he suspected Merchant was up to no good, and he had been “following him following” Crystal. The doctored photo evidence leads to Hunter’s arrest in a public scandal. Nicholas’ conviction is declared a mistrial and he becomes a media celebrity. Hunter’s convictions are re-examined by the state. Crystal, however, begins to suspect that the evidence reveals something else, too. After re-watching Nicholas’ award-winning documentary about the murder of a prostitute in Buffalo, New York, she recognizes the hands of a woman who supposedly died of a drug overdose during production as the hands of the victim in the murder for which Nicholas was convicted. She correctly deduces that the woman came to Shreveport to blackmail Nicholas, that Nicholas killed her, then used the murder in his scheme against Hunter. Crystal alerts the police, and tells Nicholas that he is not subject to the double jeopardy law because he wasn’t declared innocent. As the police arrive to arrest him, she tells him, “I just thought of one other thing. Fuck you.”I accepted that many of the actors were not the greatest around today, or that the lighting and sound was almost never polished and was often primitive. And that the music soundtrack was just adequate. But what I very much enjoyed was the story itself. This is a great mystery plot which kept me guessing. And I like those kinds of stories.

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REVIEW: ENEMIES CLOSER

CAST

Jean-Claude Van Damme (Street Fighter)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Linzey Cocker (4.3.2.1.)

A plane carrying a mysterious cargo crashes into a lake near the US-Canada border. A group of American Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and Canadian Mounties prepare for a search of the plane and its cargo, but are attacked and killed by a man named Xander (Jean-Claude Van Damme). The Mounties are actually working for Xander, and they must complete their task within four hours before the next shift of agents arrives.Orlando Jones in Enemies Closer (2013)Ex-Navy SEAL Henry Taylor (Tom Everett Scott) is a forest ranger on King’s Island near the border, where he runs the Ranger station/visitor’s center. The sole other resident Sanderson (Christopher Robbie) is a resentful elderly man whom Henry infrequently checks on. While checking the nearby trails, Henry finds an injured woman named Kayla (Linzey Cocker). He takes her back to his cabin, and she starts flirting with him. He escorts her to her canoe, and she invites him to dinner later that night across the lake. Meanwhile, Xander and his men steal a boat, killing the owner and dumping the body.Jean-Claude Van Damme in Enemies Closer (2013)While Henry is changing, Clay (Orlando Jones) knocks on the door, claiming that he had beached his boat on the island and is looking for help. Henry lets him in, but notices his odd behavior and a tattoo on his right arm. Clay pulls a gun on Henry, and tells him that his younger brother Decker was a SEAL under Henry’s command who had been killed in the line of duty. Clay had heard that Decker was abandoned by his commanding officer, and wants Henry to pay for his death. Henry responds by explaining they had been ambushed, and he pulled out early to prevent risking the lives of more men. Just then, Kayla calls Henry’s phone, telling him that she is running late. Clay shoots the phone and Henry takes the opportunity to attack Clay, who proves to be a skilled fighter and after a sustained fight, eventually knocks Henry unconscious. He drags him out into a nearby field and gives him a gun, ordering him to shoot himself. Henry refuses and says Decker’s death wasn’t his fault. Just as Clay is about to shoot Henry himself, Xander and his men show up on their boat, claiming to be ICE agents and questioning their presence. Henry sees through the ruse and runs. Xander’s men fire at him, but Clay shoots back and manages to disable the diver. The gunfire is heard by two real ICE agents who are investigating the death of the others and head in its direction. Xander determines that his driver won’t survive and smothers him to death. He recognizes Henry as ex-military, and resolves to force him to act as their diver so they can retrieve the plane’s contents, a large shipment of heroin.Jean-Claude Van Damme in Enemies Closer (2013)Two of Xander’s men arrive at Henry’s cabin and find no one. On Xander’s orders, they sink his boat. Henry, meanwhile, goes to find his stashed kayak, but is intercepted by another one of Xander’s men, who shoots the kayak. The assailant, however, is later beaten and loses consciousness. While walking, Henry explains to Clay that the Mounties who pursue them are drug dealers who had military training, yet Clay chides him into not talking about his brother again. Xander later kills the ICE agents one by one while they search. As Xander’s other men search for Henry and Clay, the two men seek refuge by breaking into Sanderson’s house. Sanderson initially resists their plea for help but later gives in when they tell him that he and they are the dealers’ targets while his house is shot at. In desperation, he tells them to escape through the back door while staying behind.Jean-Claude Van Damme in Enemies Closer (2013)Later Sanderson is wounded while he tries to drive Xander and his men away, then he is captured. Xander questions him about Henry and Clay’s whereabouts, but when Sanderson fails to answer their questions correctly, he stabs him dead. He reminds Henry to give him the stash of heroin or his family will die. In the forest, Henry lights a giant bonfire as a diversion then goes away. The assailant who has shot Henry’s kayak later awakens and attacks Clay, who then kills him with a rock. As Xander’s man Saul finds Henry, they engage in combat. Henry appears to be losing the fight, but is helped by Clay who stabs Saul in the neck. The two men then try to find Xander after pulling another henchman from a booby trap and questioning him, then Clay punches him to sleep.Orlando Jones and Tom Everett Scott in Enemies Closer (2013)Meanwhile, Kayla returns after Henry fails to meet with her for dinner. Xander captures her and calls for Henry to hand over the drugs. Henry is also captured and he pleads with him not to harm her while he is being led to the boat. Unknown to both Henry and Clay, Kayla secretly has been on Xander’s side all along and tries to hide her involvement by pretending to be Henry’s girlfriend and using her capture as a ploy to reach Henry. Xander reveals he was a soldier like Henry aboard the boat, only that he has gone bad. When Clay finds Kayla to rescue her, he assaults and eventually subdues her captor. As Clay frees Kayla, she displays her treachery when she points the gun at Clay, saying Xander paid her to keep anyone out of his activities. Feeling confounded, he dares her to shoot him, so he jumps into the water to save himself when she opens fire at him, then looks for him. As forest police come to ask Kayla about where Henry is and what really happened, she says she has just arrived and wants to fish in the morning, only for her to shoot them dead when Clay yells to warn them. Clay and Kayla struggle, but he knocks her out with a gun. Henry manages to find the heroin. Kayla later awakens and while Clay holds her at gunpoint, Xander tells her on the transceiver to meet him and retrieve the drugs, and in return, she falsely convinces him that Clay has been dealt with.While Henry accompanies Xander on land, Kayla cries for help, still at gunpoint; Clay relays her betrayal to Henry by yelling at him to drop the gun, to no avail. The villains fight back as Kayla and Clay grapple, yet he lets her go to face Xander. Next, Kayla attempts to strangle Henry, but he manages to overpower her. Xander subdues Clay by stabbing him in the leg. Henry challenges Xander to run after him and catch the drugs. When Xander realizes Kayla is unable to take Henry out, he snaps her neck. The two men engage in a struggle in the forest. They fall from a tree and later they continue fighting on Xander’s boat. Xander tries to hit Henry, who is hanging on to the boat, with an anchor but it hits the fuel tank, leaking fuel. Henry catches a flare and lights it, then throws it at the path of the boat. The boat explodes, killing Xander and burning the stash. Clay then pulls Henry, who forgets that Kayla is dead, from the shore.Jean-Claude Van Damme and Tom Everett Scott in Enemies Closer (2013)Overall, it may have been a bit of a let down considering that Peter Hyams gave us two of JC’s best, but Enemies Closer is still worlds better than most other recent JCVD movies. It’s a fun little action flick and I could easily re-watch it.

REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW – SEASON 2

 

MAIN CAST

Tom Mison (Venus)
Nicole Beharie (Shame)
Orlando Jones (Evolution)
Katia Winter (Legends of Tomorrow)
Lyndie Greenwood (Nikita)
John Noble (Lord of The Rings)

Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Cho (Total Recall)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Jill Marie Jones (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Matt Barr (Hellcats)
Laura Spencer (Bones)
Derek Mears (Friday The 13th)
Sakina Jaffrey (The Guru)
Timothy Busfield (Strays)
Aunjanue Ellis (The Help)
Onira Tares (Project Almanac)
Sharif Atkins (Light it Up)
Johnathon Schaech (Legends of Tomorrow)
Zach Appelman (Beauty and The Beast)
Heather Lind (Boardwalk Empire)
Francie Swift (Cop Out)
Max Brown (Agent Carter)
Jaime Murray (The Originals)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy)
Eddie Spears (Longmire)
Cynthia Stevenson (Dead Like Me)
Ron Rogge (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)

 

Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)Making the balance between humor, horror and action look easy, season 1 of Sleepy Hollow set the bar high. An expanded season 2 (jumping to 18 episodes from 13) more than met that standard in the first half, throttling though the high-stakes plot of Moloch trying to escape Purgatory and the Witnesses gaining more allies. And while the series struggled to find itself after that story came to end—likely due to the network-mandated order to become less serialized—the show always remained worthwhile and very enjoyable due to the solid characters and relationships that had been established. Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)This season felt inspired from the start, with the terrific premiere episode “This is War” displaying sly storytelling as Abbie and Ichabod struggled to escape Purgatory. The later introduction of Benjamin Franklin (in flashbacks), more revelations about the Mills family history and the remarkable episodes leading up to the midseason finale all made for a rollicking first half. Despite meandering with the back half standalone episodes, the finale more than made up for any aimlessness by giving us what we watch for in the first place: Abbie and Ichabod, BFFs.Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)With Abbie and Ichabod already firmly entrenched as partners in the war against evil, the show was able to widen its focus to other characters. The best results were with Jenny, who became better-rounded and an integral part of the team. But Abraham/Headless benefitted from more attention as well, as we got to know his motivations. Even the risky addition of Hawley paid off better than expected, and by the time he got his send-off episode his connection to Jenny and the Witnesses felt earned and real. Less successful was the addition of Captain Reyes. Introduced as an intriguing possible foil or ally, she was relegated to popping up occasionally to praise or scold and was essentially forgotten by the end of the season. There were some tantalizing hints that she might have known more than she was letting on, but that could have been yet another casualty of the shift to more standalone episodes.Neil Jackson and Katia Winter in Sleepy Hollow (2013)Irving also wound up being a bit shortchanged, as the show had written him into the corner of the psych ward for murdering cops. When he was tricked into signing over his soul to Henry it looked like a rich storyline in the making but nothing much ever came of it and everything involving him seemed made up on the fly, almost as an afterthought. Despite this I was glad to see him get some terrific moments, both big and small—his sacrifice (which wound up being temporary) in the midseason finale and his intimate scenes with Jenny towards the end.John Noble and Neil Jackson in Sleepy Hollow (2013)John Noble continued to be a tremendous presence whenever he appeared. The reveal at the end of season 1 that he was the Crane’s son gave him plenty to dig into this year and Noble made Henry’s bitterness and hurt come through with intensity. Once he dispatched Moloch, though, the show didn’t seem to know what to do with him and his death wound up being pretty anticlimactic, even it did serve to set off the season endgame for the marvelous “Tempus Fugit”.Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)More problematic was the character of Katrina. She simply never worked. Not as a damsel in distress, not as the third wheel and not as an abruptly-turned villain. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying, as the writers tried to integrate her into Team Witness several times with lukewarm results. I didn’t buy her sudden shift from ally to enemy, but it was a quick and painless way to give her character a good exit in service of the story. The trouble was that Beharie and Mison had established such rare buddy chemistry that Ichabod finally getting his lost love out of Purgatory threw a wrench into it. Even at her best, as in “Pittura Infamante”, it wasn’t enough to match any given scene between Abbie and Ichabod. That pretty much left the show with few options; either relegate her to the sidelines or kill her off.Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)But the biggest stumbling block this season came down from on high: FOX wanted to series to become less serialized, and Sleepy Hollow tried hard to accommodate the order. The result was an awkward stop-and-start second half, with several scenes of Abbie and Ichabod wondering out loud what their purpose was now that Moloch had been defeated. I had no problem with the death of Moloch, since he wasn’t much of a bad guy, but the absence of a Big Bad was immediately felt. Knowing full well that this might have been it for the series, the show rallied and came up with a very satisfying ending that conclusively wrapped up loose ends while leaving the door wide open for a return. Sleepy Hollow’s best hours have been the ones dealing with ongoing stories while the self-contained episodes were much more hit-and-miss, but this is a creative team that’s proven it knows how to put together a great show I’m hopeful that they get a chance to find that balance because when this series is in a groove it’s a joy to watch.Tom Mison in Sleepy Hollow (2013)Despite any problems Sleepy Hollow ran into, though, Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison were the rocks at the center the show. Their extraordinary chemistry has been the single greatest asset of an awfully good series from the start, able to shift gracefully from easygoing humor to partners in lockstep to dear friends dealing with life and death stakes in a single hour. They’re a microcosm of the show itself, one that at its best could deliver laughs and thrills side by side with terrific characters we cared about throughout. Despite difficulty adjusting to less-serialized storytelling in the back half, season 2 of Sleepy Hollow started and ended strong enough to measure up well with its stellar first year.

REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Tom Mison (Venus)
Nicole Beharie (Shame)
Orlando Jones (Evolution)
Katia Winter (Legends of Tomorrow)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Lyndie Greenwood (Nikita)
Nicholas Gonzalez (The Flash)
John Cho (Total Recall)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
John Noble (Lord of The Rings)
Jill Marie Jones (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games)
Michael Roark (Beauty and The Beast)
Laura Spencer (Bones)
Monique Ganderton (Smallville)
Carsten Norgaard (The Three Musketeers)
James Frain (Star Trek: Discovery)
Onira Tares (Sully)
Erin Cahill (Power Rangers Time Force)
Derek Mears (Friday The 13th)
Brennan Brown (Focus)
Victor Garber (Alias)

After a whirlwind first season that introduced a whole new generation to one of the most popular literary pieces of all time, FOX’s Sleepy Hollow was one of the most successful television series of 2013. Some saw the series as simply a device to join other historical time pieces as NBC’s Dracula and CBS’ Elementary. But once the Sleepy Hollow pilot was released on September 16, 2013, there was little doubt that this was a show that was going to take its audience by storm quickly.Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)Sleepy Hollow is a show that has a little something for everyone. Are you a fan of crime-suspense? Indulge yourself in the mystery of an ax-wielding murderer stalking a town each night. Do you prefer historical alt-fiction with a dash of comedy? Well look no further than Mr. Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), a fellow pulled from his grave and thrust into the world some 200-years after he last remembers it. Perhaps you appreciate a good love story? Sleepy Hollow has Crane and his long lost witch-wife AND Crane and his completely bad ass “leftenant” Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie). But, if you are reading this site, you probably love yourself a good, old fashioned spook show. The series’ thirteen-episode inaugural season brought us witches, zombies, creatures of the night and of course a very pissed off headless horseman. Oh yeah, and Moloch—a dark Ammonite god associated with great sacrifices (often of the child variety).Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)The season started off with a bang. We learn of the origins of Crane and his nemesis, the Headless Horseman. When each of them is struck down by the other in battle, their bloodlines cross on the battle ground and they are forever intertwined—their fates and futures connected to one another. Thus, when Crane is resurrected, so is The Man without a Head. Upon its return to our Earth, the Headless Horseman begins his reign of terror rather quickly. Local sheriff August Corbin (Clancy Brown) is introduced as a compassionate man who loves his sleepy little town (see what I did there?). When Sheriff Corbin meets the business end of a rather sharp ax, it’s Crane who’s arrested by Corbin’s partner Abbie Mills. While Crane professes his innocence, Mills is surprised to realize she’s actually starting to believe the gentleman in the ancient britches. Corbin had been a special part of Mills’ life since adolescence and she and Crane soon find out that Corbin has a rather extensive secret file-room related to all of the mysterious events of Sleepy Hollow.Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)The police captain of Sleepy Hollow, Frank Irving (Orlando Jones), is not the most excited fellow in town when Mills begins advocating using Crane as a resource in the police department’s crusade to stop the hell-raising Headless Horseman. Fallen police officer Andy Brooks (John Cho) is brought back to life by dark forces and becomes a henchman for Moloch’s dirty deeds. Crane uses the help of his beloved wife Katrina, burned at the stake long ago for her role as a witch. She appears in dream sequences to bestow crucial information in regards to Moloch. Katrina has been in this gloomy purgatory since her death and she hopes that Crane can release her before it is too late. In the meantime, Crane shows Abbie proof that the two of them met for a reason—their fates are tied just as closely as Crane’s and the Horseman’s are—and they are the biblical Witnesses to the Apocalypse. It’s up to them to save mankind from a rather ugly conclusion.Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)Over the course of the next two episodes, we are introduced to a witch hell-bent on destroying the bloodlines of those who burned her at the stake centuries before and the Sandman, an entity derived from Mohawk Indian folklore that drives several people to suicide. These two characters in particular are highlights of how far television has come as far as involving horror in primetime slots. Both are terrifying creations that left a chill in the spine of viewers. Luckily, we’ve got Ichabod and Abbie fighting for us so both monsters were dissolved rather quickly (or at least sufficiently in a forty-minute time frame).Tom Mison and Katia Winter in Sleepy Hollow (2013)Abbie has been haunted by a supernatural vision she had as a young teen of a demon pulling an unknown creature from the ground and this intrigues Ichabod, in particular. We soon learn that Abbie and her twin sister Jenny, who was institutionalized for insisting she actually did see a monster in the woods on that fateful day, were witnesses to Moloch summoning one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Audiences were introduced to Jenny while she was staying at a mental hospital and she soon breaks out before finally joining ranks alongside her sister and Crane.Amidst  the mystery of the horsemen and learning their roles in the fate of mankind, Crane and the Mills sisters are forced to fend off several obstacles that Moloch throws at the small town. A young boy from the long lost Roanoke Colony brings with him a terrible illness that could cripple humanity. Crane and Abbie unlock the secrets of Roanoke along with the colony’s location, and bring the sick child back to Roanoke in time for him and his village to be cured of the disease brought upon them by the horseman, Pestilence.Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)Probably my favorite character of the show is a man named Henry Parrish, also known as The Sin Eater, played by John Noble. He’s a personable gentleman with a great burden on his shoulders. He’s reluctant to use his powers for fear of the wrong person taking advantage of him. When Crane is kidnapped by Freemasons who believe killing him will destroy the Headless Horseman because of their connected bloodlines, Abbie pursues the help of a quiet older man who has the ability to take on the sins of a man (in this case, the bloodline of the horseman). While the Headless Horseman stalks Sleepy Hollow in search of his head, the Sin Eater manages to sever Crane’s blood ties to the creature and thus Ichabod and Abbie can go about capturing the elusive headless monster.John Noble in Sleepy Hollow (2013)When the horseman is finally captured using magic and science, in this case artificial light to cripple the horseman just long enough to bind him in chains, Crane interrogates him and soon discovers that the horseman’s real identity is that of a man named Abraham. Abraham just so happens to be Katrina’s ex-fiancé and one of Crane’s former best friends who was turned into the horseman by Moloch. Before the Horseman can be killed or many more answers can be uncovered, Moloch infiltrates the chamber where Crane and Abbie are keeping the Headless Horseman and he is gone again, out of Crane’s grasp to cause more carnage in the town.Tom Mison in Sleepy Hollow (2013)As the season wraps up, we learn that Katrina gave birth to a boy fathered by Ichabod. Crane never knew Katrina was pregnant so, as if the series needed even more reason to leave episodes dangling on cliff-hangers, Ichabod becomes driven to find out the fate of his only child. Enlisting the help of Henry Parrish, Crane is sent to purgatory to ask Katrina about their son, Jeremy. It’s determined that he had magical ways of his own and was buried alive, with his heart rate slowed almost to a complete stop by a band of well-meaning witches in order to keep him safe throughout the years. This doesn’t sit very well with Ichabod but the chance to let his son rest comfortably comes when Crane, Mills and Parrish are pitted face to face with the Golem, a monstrous creature created by Jeremy to give him the protection he longs for, considering he is without father. Played by horror icon Derek Mears (Friday the 13th 2009), the Golem is an imposing character that ends up killing a group of unsavory witches before it meets its own demise at the hands of Ichabod.Orlando Jones, Tom Mison, and Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)Remember Captain Irving? Don’t think he gets out of season 1 unscathed! A minion of Moloch returns to Sleepy Hollow just in time to demand George Washington’s Bible from Irving. The Bible is an instrumental part in the war against Moloch, so naturally, Moloch wants it for himself. Crane and Mills have gone through great lengths to hide the Bible and Irving is sure to know where it is. A spirit-jumping demon named Ancitif threatens the well-being of Irving’s daughter, Macey, unless the captain cooperates and brings the Bible to Moloch. Thus, leading up to one of the most jaw-dropping season finales in recent memory.  A two-hour season finale sees Ichabod and Abbie discover a map to purgatory created by George Washington, who himself was reanimated some four days after his actual death. Yep, we’re talking about zombie George Washington here. Washington’s actual burial site was moved during his reanimation in order to keep secret his and his map’s whereabouts.Tom Mison and Katia Winter in Sleepy Hollow (2013)The map’s origins are found in Washington’s Bible, hence the reason why Moloch is so intent on Irving delivering it to him. With the help of Henry Parrish once again, Crane and Mills discover the true burial site of Washington. Andy Brooks, the former officer who was killed by Moloch only to be brought back as a soldier in Moloch’s war against humanity, is in a race against time with Crane and Mills to locate the map. Brooks catches up with Crane, Mills, and Parrish in Washington’s tomb just in time to be trapped in the tomb while our three heroes escape with the map in hand. Upon seeing daylight again, Mills convinces Crane to burn the map they just risked their lives for after citing the prophecy that one witness will betray the other for selfish reasons, in this case the saving of Katrina from purgatory. Crane reluctantly burns the map but it’s best to remember that Crane has a picture perfect memory and is able to recreate drawings, documents and visions with little effort.Nicole Beharie in Sleepy Hollow (2013)When Parrish tells Ichabod and Abbie that the Horseman of War is coming that very night, during an eclipse, Crane puts his photo memory to the test and recreates the map to purgatory. Crane and Mills travel to the other realm together while Parrish nervously waits in our world. Crane and Mills end up finding Katrina in a church where she reveals that she cannot be taken out of purgatory without another soul taking her place. Selflessly, Abbie Mills stays while Ichabod and Katrina return to our world to put an end to the Horseman of War before it’s too late. The body-jumping demon Ancitif wreaks havoc on the Irving home when it jumps into the body of Captain Irving’s daughter Macey. A possessed Macey kills a preacher and threatens the lives of the Irving family. The spirit of Ancitif is washed from Macey’s soul before the Captain’s family is destroyed and without the threat of supernatural horror, someone must answer for the deaths of a preacher and two officers (who were killed by Ancitif during its soul-jumping adventure). Irving confesses to the murders to protect his daughter and the last we see of him, he is being hauled into custody in hand cuffs.Tom Mison and Katia Winter in Sleepy Hollow (2013)Upon Katrina and Ichabod’s return to our world, the most shocking sequence of events of the season comes when Parrish reveals his true identity—he is Jeremy. Fuck yes, you heard me right. Parish is Jeremy, the son of Ichabod and Katrina. Moloch pulled him from his eternal coffin thirteen years earlier (this is what Jenny and Abbie witnessed as teens!) to be the Horseman of War. Thus, as any evil son would do, he allows the Horseman of Death to carry away an unconscious Katrina and he buries his father in the coffin himself.  The season ends with Crane screaming for his life as the coffin is closed, leaving Abbie stuck in purgatory and Jeremy roaming Sleepy Hollow alongside his fellow horsemen.Tom Mison in Sleepy Hollow (2013)Created by Underworld head honcho Len Wiseman and two extremely talented writers in Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Sleepy Hollow obliterated the ratings early on during its season but a combined seven weeks of breaks in between new episodes throughout the season may have splashed some cold water on the series’ momentum. I, for one loved the entire season. What works best for the show is the fantastic chemistry between Mison and Beharie as the show runners. Both characters have drawn rave reviews and quite the following. The alternative history lessons and special effects are another reason this show is so damned addicting. Wiseman knows how to keep an audience engrossed and the writing never lacks suspense and wit. Overall, Sleepy Hollow was one of the best shows on television during its inaugural season and with so many cliffhangers to carry us through this treacherous break, there’s little doubt season two will be any less jaw dropping and mesmerizing.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW – THE GOLEM

CAST

Tom Mison (venus)
Nicole Beharie (The Good Wife)
Orlando Jones (Bedazzled)
Katia Winter (Arena)

GUEST CAST

John Noble (Lord of The Rings)
Jill Marie Jones (Ash vs Evil Dead)

“The Golem” had some deeply unsettling moments, a running undercurrent of humor, answers to vital questions and some straight-ahead scares.   All these disparate elements mixed together comfortably, as they have since the pilot, and it looks so simple.  But the fact of the matter is that what Sleepy Hollow has been able to pull off in this first season is remarkable, as it has kept its high-degree-of-difficulty tone while never losing sight of the characters that make us come back each week.  As if there were any doubt, it began and ended with the most important relationship on the show, as Abbie and Ichabod worked through his emotions about having a son and shared the anxiety about Moloch coming for them.   The groundwork that the writers and actors have done made these two characters seem naturally close as they get to know one another better with every week.  The wonderful opening scene (and Crane’s explanation of the origins of eggnog) served as a lovely reminder that even as their team might expand it’s all about the two of them.

Of course, in between those bookends we had the marvelous John Noble returning as Henry the Sin Eater.  You would think that Noble showing up to guest star would overwhelm the proceedings and be desperately missed when he’s gone, but instead he fits right in with this show.  Here we found out that Henry isn’t just a one-trick pony, as his talents extend to sensing sin and providing valuable exposition on the miserable childhood of Ichabod and Katrina’s son.  Still, the coolest bit for me was his making the librarian with ease: “Lying is a sin. I can sense a sin a mile away.”

Meanwhile, Frank went back to the city to visit his daughter.  It might be that his story seems drab compared to the wild stuff going on elsewhere, but at the moment his ex-wife and daughter feel more like plot devices than actual characters.  It’s not something I’m all that concerned about, given this show’s brief track record, but tonight they were simply time-fillers to get us to that super creepy vendor in the park.  That last “we have one, too” delivered by the possessed woman might have been the freakiest thing in an episode that also featured a gigantic killer doll. As for the doll itself, they did a great job showing the violence he was capable of, and tying it into Jeremy’s rage made it all the more disturbing.


This was a Sleepy Hollow episode that covered a lot of ground and also managed to be alternately creepy, disturbing, scary and funny.

REVIEW: BIKER BOYZ

CAST

Laurence Fishburne (Man of Steel)
Derek Luke (Self/Less)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Lisa Bonet (Road to Paloma)
Brendan Fehr (Bones)
Larenz Tate (Crash)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Rick Gonzalez (Arrow)
Meagan Good (D.E.B.S.)
Kid Rock (Joe Dirt)
Salli Richardson (I Am Legend)
Vanessa Bell Calloway (Lakeview Terrace)
Kadeem Hardison (Showtime)
Eriq La Salle (A Gifted Man)

In the world of underground motorcycle drag racing, the undefeated racer known as Smoke (Laurence Fishburne) is the undisputed “King of Cali.” But Smoke’s dominance of the set is about to be threatened by a young motorcycle racing prodigy called Kid (Derek Luke), who is determined to win Smoke’s crown and earn the coveted title. Kid says that the difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn – and that his father, Slick Will, taught him plenty.The film starts with Kid, a novice rider and motorcycle club “prospect,” assisting his father, Slick Will, as they prepare Smoke’s bike for the evening’s drag races. A biker issues a challenge to Smoke, who accepts, and the race begins. In the midst of the race, the other biker suffers a hydraulics malfunction and spins out of control, sending his bike flying from under him into a row of parked bikes, one of which heads right into Slick Will, throwing him through a store window and killing him instantly. At the funeral, dozens of bikers from the “Black Knights” (to whom Slick Will was the mechanic) show up with Smoke, who drops a rose and a signed Black Knights flag into his grave.Six months later, Kid is now a familiar racer with his custom-powered bike, and he shows up at the events. His first “race” was when he interfered with Stuntman’s race with Donny. As he interrupts the race, he pulls off several stunts, notably standing on top of the motorcycle while it is still moving. He wins the race and the crowd seem to like his stunts, much to the dissatisfaction of Smoke. Kid demands to race with Smoke but Smoke says he is too inexperienced and should get experience first.Kid then goes to a diner where he meets Stuntman, and it is revealed that the two were hustling in the previous race. Fellow biker Primo tells them to create a bike club; after a bit of persuasion they agree, and Kid goes to the biker jury consisting of 8 leaders of the most powerful biker gangs, where Smoke is the chairman. He apologizes for his disrespect towards Smoke and they all agree to verify the club, calling themselves the “Biker Boyz.” Kid is set to race Motherland to prove himself to Smoke. However he has showed up late to “make an entrance” after Smoke has already beaten his long-time rival Dogg, who is continually after Smoke’s helmet. Kid is arrested when racing Motherland, and the rest of the bikers manage to escape. Anita confronts Kid, saying that if he ever races again, she will kick him out of the house.One night at a Black Knights dance, Kid is challenged to race Dogg and accepts in a fit of rage. Having overheard, Anita finds Smoke before the race, and demands that he stop the race. Angry, Smoke confronts her and demands a reason, and she tells him that Kid is actually his son, not Slick Will’s. Smoke successfully stops the race by punching out Kid and stealing his keys, but this only leads to a fight between the two, from which Kid comes off considerably worse than Smoke. Smoke then tells him that he is his son, to which Kid angrily goes home and confronts Anita, who confesses that it’s the truth. In a rage, he leaves home and moves in with his girlfriend Tina.Kid decides to turn renegade and after gaining quite a few more followers for his club, announces that “we’re gonna win more lids than any crew on the set and we’re gonna out hustle every crew off the set” and indicates that from that point on, “Biker Boyz set their own rules.” The Biker Boyz get their own hangout and begin hustling several races, but when Stuntman successfully hustles the nephew of a dangerous biker, he and Primo are ambushed at a party. Kid comes to the rescue but is quickly overpowered as the leader of the other club pulls a gun on him; Smoke and some of the other Black Knights intervene and convince the other bikers to stand down. Smoke takes Kid inside and sits down to give him a stern talking-to, but Kid shrugs it off angrily. Aggravated, Smoke finally agrees to race Kid, under the condition that whoever loses will never race again. But first Kid has to race Dogg – this time, at the track.On the race track, everybody shows up, including the Black Knights. At the race, Dogg and Kid race down, and Kid is going to win, but Dogg plays dirty and causes him to crash; although Kid survives, his bike is wrecked. Later that day, Smoke talks to Kid, and informs him that the authorities are going to close the track, due to many crashes, but he managed to rent a local farm outside of town to race on it. Kid agrees to arrive the next day. Later that night, Kid, Primo, and Stuntman are trying unsuccessfully to fix Kid’s bike until Dogg’s crew arrives to confront them, but Dogg’s mechanic admits that the damage is too severe to be fixed in time for the race. Dogg informs Kid; “There are only 2 bikes as strong and fast as Smoke’s: yours, and mine.” As a peace offering, Dogg offers to lend Kid his bike, but only if Kid promises him that he will beat Smoke tomorrow.On the day of the race, both the crew of the Black Knights and the Biker Boyz arrive. Smoke wants it to be a fair race, with no N20 system, and Kid wants Tina to start the race. Smoke and Kid are racing on a farm with open fields. With the finish line in sight, it is obvious that Smoke will win – however, filled with emotions, he decides to slow down and let his son win the race, becoming the new “King of Cali.” Kid tells Smoke to hang onto his crown for a while, and that he’ll come and get it someday. Kid rides off, repeating his sentiment that the difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn, and that his father taught him plenty.It’s not a good movie, but it makes an effort to be one, which counts for something. For all it’s lack of realism, it gets points for not having the absurd stunts that Torque did, like flipping a huge street bike mid air, and riding on top and through the passenger sections of moving trains. Biker Boyz isn’t good by any means, but it’s not quite that bad.

REVIEW: RUNAWAY JURY

CAST

John Cusack (2012)
Gene Hackman (Superman)
Dustin Hoffman (Hook)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Bruce McGill (Timecop)
Marguerite Moreau (Wet Hot American Summer)
Nick Searcy (The Dead Girl)
Leland Orser (Taken)
Lori Heuring (8mm 2)
Joanna Going (Nixon)
Dylan McDermott (Texas Rangers)
Stanley Anderson (Red Dragon)
Celia Weston (Hulk)
Bill Nunn (Money Train)
Cliff Curtis (Blow)
Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty)
Rusty Schwimmer (The Perfect Storm)
Jennifer Beals (The Prophecy II)
Guy Torry (American History X)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Gary Grubbs (Angel)
Luis Guzmán (Traffic)

In New Orleans, a failed day trader at a stock brokerage firm shows up at the office and opens fire on his former colleagues, then kills himself. Among the dead is Jacob Wood. Two years later, with attorney Wendell Rohr, Jacob’s widow Celeste takes Vicksburg Firearms to court on the grounds that the company’s gross negligence led to her husband’s death. During jury selection, jury consultant Rankin Fitch and his team communicate background information on each of the jurors to lead defense attorney Durwood Cable in the courtroom through electronic surveillance. In the jury pool, Nick Easter tries to get himself excused from jury duty. Judge Frederick Harkin decides to give Nick a lesson in civic duty and Fitch tells Cable that the judge has now given them no choice, and that he must select Nick as a juror. Nick’s congenial manner wins him acceptance from his fellow jurors, but Frank Herrera, a Marine veteran, takes an instant dislike to him.A woman named Marlee makes an offer to Fitch and Rohr: she will deliver the verdict to the first bidder. Rohr dismisses the offer, assuming it to be a tactic by Fitch to obtain a mistrial. Fitch asks for proof that she can deliver, though, which Nick provides. Fitch orders Nick’s apartment searched, but finds nothing. Marlee retaliates by getting one of Fitch’s jurors bounced. Nick shows the judge surveillance footage of his apartment being searched, and the judge orders the jury sequestered. Fitch then goes after three jurors with blackmail, leading one, Rikki Coleman, to attempt suicide. Rohr loses a key witness due to harassment, and after confronting Fitch, decides that he cannot win the case. He asks his firm’s partners for $10 million. Fitch sends an operative, Janovich, to kidnap Marlee, but she fights him off and raises Fitch’s price to $15 million. On principle, Rohr changes his mind and refuses to pay. Fitch agrees to pay Marlee to be certain of the verdict.Fitch’s subordinate Doyle travels to Gardner, Indiana, where he discovers that Nick is really Jeff Kerr, a law school drop-out, and that Marlee’s real name is Gabby Brandt. Gabby’s sister died in a school shooting. The town sued the gun manufacturer and Fitch helped the defense win the case. Doyle concludes that Nick and Marlee’s offer is a set-up, and he calls Fitch, but it is too late. Nick receives confirmation of receipt of payment and he steers the jury in favor of the plaintiff, much to the chagrin of Herrera, who launches into a rant against the plaintiff, which undermines his support. The gun manufacturer is found liable, with the jury awarding $110 million in general damages to Celeste Wood. After the trial, Nick and Marlee confront Fitch with a receipt for the $15 million bribe and demand that he retire. They inform him that the $15 million will benefit the shooting victims in Gardner.This was a movie that wasn’t over-hyped, filled with talented actors and kept you watching all the way through.  Hackman was flawless as usual as an actor and once again maintained his great screen presence. Hoffman really portrayed the idealistic lawyer character well. Weisz played the female lead with the right mix of the strong and vulnerable.  The plot twists were not overdone but did offer some slight surprises which were hinted at along the way if you payed attention. Overall I’d recommend this movie to anyone, especially those who take their movies seriously