REVIEW: DAMAGES – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Rose Byrne (Bad Neighbors 1 & 2)
Željko Ivanek (Heores)
Noah Bean (Nikita)
Tate Donovan (Argo)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)

Glenn Close in Damages (2007)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Philip Bosco (The Savages)
Anastasia Griffith (Shadow of The Sword)
Peter Riegert (The MasK)
Marlyne Barrett (The Wire)
Maya Days (Blue Bloods)
Peter Facinelli (Twilight)
Donnie Keshawarz (Homeland)
Michael Nouri (The O.C.)
Casey Siemaszko (Back To The Future)
Zachary Booth (South of Hell)
David Costabile (Suits)
Carmen Goodine (Alter Egos)
Tom Aldredge (Cold Mouintain)
Victor Arnold (The Seven-Ups)
Todd A. Kessler (Bloodline)
Elliot Korte (Just Another Story)
Garret Dillahunt (12 Years A Slave)
Robin Thomas (Pacific Rim)
Mario Van Peebles (Highlander 3)
Donal Logue (Gotham)
Donna Murphy (Spider-Man 2)
Peter McRobbie (Lincoln)

Rose Byrne in Damages (2007)No grandstanding or overwrought speeches. Hardly any impassioned objections. No interchangable characters. No cases that are wrapped up in a neat, tidy bow before the end credits for each episode make their upward crawl. FX’s Damages shatters every preconceived notion viewers have been trained to expect from a legal drama, and its critically acclaimed first season is now making its bow in high definition on Blu-ray. MV5BMjc4MjU1Nzg1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTA1NzQ2MjE@__V1_The series opens as a young woman — half-naked, spattered with blood, and shellshocked — slips out of a high rise apartment building and frantically darts through the streets of New York. Damages then cuts to the exhausted, disheveled woman in an interrogation booth as a couple of detectives almost disinterestedly look on. Far too deep in shock to speak, the only clue as to who this devastated young woman is or what happened to her is a bloodied business card she was carrying, and as the camera closes in, a title card reading “Six months earlier” quickly splashes across the screen.It may only be a difference of six short months, but the Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) we see when the clock rolls back is an unrecognizably different person. This wide-eyed idealist is in the middle of being courted by one of Manhattan’s most prestigious law firms. Even though an offer is slid in front of her with more zeroes than the prospective first year associate would ever have thought possible, Parsons blurts out that she has an interview scheduled with Patty Hewes later in the week, and the cheery atmosphere abruptly turns cold. Hewes has carved out a reputation for herself as one of the most powerful and unrelenting forces in high stakes litigation, and taking it as a foregone conclusion that Hewes will offer Parsons a position that she’ll eagerly accept, Hollis Nye (Philip Bosco) warns her that Hewes will irrevocably change who she is.Rose Byrne in Damages (2007)As Parsons starts to see each and every one of her dreams suddenly lurch within arms’ reach, some five thousand former employees of billionaire Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) have seen their hopes savagely ripped away from them. His corporate empire collapsed after the SEC caught onto his Enron-like shell game, costing his employees their entire retirement fund — upwards of a billion dollars — while Frobisher himself escaped with his checkbook intact. The government was immediately leery of the timing, with Frobisher pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars by cashing out his stock just before a catastrophic SEC report revealed the company’s underhanded accounting practices, but an intensive three year investigation was unable to turn up any convincing trace of wrongdoing. The criminal trial may have been a total failure, but Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) has been tapped to spearhead a colossal class action law suit against the billionaire on behalf of his thousands of financially devastated employees, and she’s hellbent on fleecing this corporate bully of every last cent. As it turns out, Parsons may be the linchpin to shattering Frobisher’s carefully constructed facade, but at least at first glance, that has nothing to do with the neophyte’s legal prowess.Glenn Close in Damages (2007)Part of what Damages such an infectiously addictive series also leaves it tougher than usual to review. Nothing — nothing — can be taken at face value, and there are so many twists, turns, deceptions, and double-crossings in the plot that any attempt at describing what happens even from the second episode would spoil more than I’d like. Just to be clear, this isn’t Anatomy of a Murder; the courtroom is overly familiar territory, and Damages has no interest in retreading it. Tossing aside legal maneuvers and precedents in dusty books, the season prefers instead to pull back the curtain into the extensive prepwork behind an investigation of this scale, including Hewes’ deft manipulation of everyone and everything around her, Parsons clawing her way through months of backstabbing and mistrust, and Frobisher’s stubborn determination to reclaim his family’s name and clear himself of any wrongdoing.Rose-in-Damages-1x02-Jesus-Mary-Joe-Cocker-rose-byrne-16722887-500-281With hundreds of millions — and potentially a hell of a lot more — at stake, it’s an agonizing journey for everyone involved, riddled with blackmail, assassination threats, subterfuge, abortions, bomb threats, murder, blackmail, kidnapping, infidelity, media manipulation, suicide, deranged stalking, toothless, bloody nightmares, and…oh, just for good measure, a book deal. Damages strikes an extremely effective balance in being lurid enough to stay interesting without veering too far over the edge and coming across as some sort of Prison Break-like cartoon. It also gets a hell of a lot more free reign than I’d expect from basic cable, which is made clear early on when Frobisher is screwing a random blonde in the back of an SUV, snorts a line of coke off her hand, and makes a call to have a witness in the wrong place at the wrong time gunned down. The language isn’t neutered either, with a “bullshit” or “shit” spat out several times each episode, used sparingly enough that the profanity still carries a substantial impact.Rose-in-Damages-1x02-Jesus-Mary-Joe-Cocker-rose-byrne-16722572-500-281Unlike most legal dramas, Damages is an intensely serialized series, focusing squarely on a single case for the entirety of these first thirteen episodes. The writers have a knack for lobbing out a big revelation in each installment, continually maintaining the momentum set into motion in the premiere. Damages has a unique structure that suits the material particularly well. For one, no meandering subplots creep in as filler. Virtually everything that happens is either essential to the Frobisher case or to understanding these characters. There are really only three subplots in the entire season: one involving a mentally unhinged stalker, another following the drastic measures Hewes takes to rein in her rebellious teenaged son, and a third swirling around her number two’s possible defection from the firm. The writing mixes in these stories deftly enough, ensuring that the pacing of the Frobisher case doesn’t stumble along the way and that the audience doesn’t get overly distracted. The only of these plot threads that’s ineffective revolves around Tom Shayes’ loyalty to Hewes and the firm; its inevitable resolution is the only particularly predictable element in the entire first season and the only time the writers seem to be fumbling to fill time.D_EP_105_206Damages also effortlessly juggles two separate timelines. There are brief stretches in each episode set in the here and now, revealing tantalizingly vague clues as to what it is that’s left Parsons drenched in blood and shellshocked: a bloodstained shoe, a disappearing corpse, and a garish bookend caked in blood and tangled with hair, to rattle off a few. The majority of the season takes place in the past, starting off six months earlier and inching forward to the present day from there. As Damages go on, we find out who the players are…what these visual teases mean…how entire lives were upended or butchered outright. The series would’ve been compelling and tense even if it had unfolded in a more linear, traditional way, but the additional layer of that second timeline really adds another layer of intrigue, making it that much more of a suspenseful mystery. For all of this to gel under a slew of different writers and directors shows how strong a hand was guiding the series, and the work in piecing it all together in editing is exceptional.Rose-in-Damages-1x05-A-Regular-Earl-Anthony-rose-byrne-16730966-500-281Damages lives and dies by the strength of its performances. As effective as the twists and turns of the investigation into Frobisher’s machinations are, this is inarguably a character-driven series. The centerpiece is, of course, Glenn Close as Patty Hewes. She’s a legal shark, and much like the great white in Jaws, the writers avoid overexposing her to ensure that every appearance — every line of dialogue — carries a dramatic impact. Essential for this sort of puppet master, Hewes remains impenetrable throughout. There are no weepy monologues or impassioned speeches in front of a sobbing courtroom. There’s a vulnerability she tries her damndest to mask — something that leaks through as the season draws to a close, despite her best efforts — but that steely veneer remains intact whenever someone else shares the scene. It’s an exceptional performance by Close, who infuses the character with a strength, intensity, and slightly elusive charm that make it instantly clear why Hewes so utterly dominates the field: beloved by her clients, at least when victory is in sight, cautiously admired by her associates, and terrified by any lawyer ambitious enough to sit on the other side of the aisle.damages7_0Hewes is far removed from any of the attorneys I’ve seen in dozens of other legal dramas. Hewes wants to give her clients what they deserve, of course, but it’s not about altruism or doing the right thing; this is a game to her, and Hewes is a damned good player. Being pitted against an arrogant bully like Frobisher just makes the battle that much more compelling, and Hewes is so determined to pull a win that the law itself is incidental. She’s not a do-gooder or a staunch heroine, and the steps she takes to ensure victory and to get her unwitting pawns to step in line are nearly as repulsive as the lengths Frobisher goes to in order to protect his bankroll. This intense character isn’t watered down to be more easily embraced by some particular TV viewing demographic. Hewes is humanized just enough to make her seem like a well-realized character and not a one-note force of nature, defined largely by her relationships with her family: her husband is a jet-setting financier who she barely sees, and Hewes’ son is a brilliant but rebellious teenager who resents his mother and is teetering on the brink of expulsion.Rose-in-Damages-1x09-Do-You-Regret-What-We-Did-rose-byrne-16752016-500-281Ellen Parsons too is defined in large part by her relationships. Parsons thinks she’s lost her shot at working under Hewes when her interview is inflexibly rescheduled to her sister’s wedding day, and she without hesitation chooses family over her budding career. Two of the driving forces this season are part of Parsons’ extended family: her fiancé David (Noah Bean), whose grueling hours as a surgical intern make any chance of spending time together that much more remote, and her best friend and future sister-in-law Katie (Anastasia Griffith). Parsons’ personal and professional lives are continually colliding, and there’s an instant level of intrigue by how in the space of six months she devolved from an upbeat, optimistic, naive law school grad eager to start her first day at a prestigious firm to an embittered, disheveled mess accused of murder…to see just how her short time at Hewes and Associates so profoundly and irrevocably transformed her. Rose Byrne does a marvelous job playing what at first glance looks like two entirely different characters, and it’s fascinating to think that she so seamlessly weaves the two together throughout the course of the season, despite these moments being shot far out of sequence and not even being entirely sure how these puzzle pieces connected together during filming.Ted Danson in Damages (2007)Ted Danson is another standout as billionaire executive Arthur Frobisher. One intriguing choice Damages makes is that Frobisher himself isn’t a worthy adversary for Hewes. His corporation may have been modeled after Enron, but Frobisher is hardly a Ken Lay. This isn’t the usual corporate stereotype: a balding, bespectacled man in his 60s who condescendingly sips a glass of $1,200 Scotch in some palatial office and barks out orders. No, he’s a reasonably down to earth guy — fit, trim, eager to sit down for a family barbeque, shoot hoops with his teenaged son, or grab a sandwich from a cart on the street corner. Nothing about the man, at least to those who don’t religiously tune into Court TV or Fox News, would point to a couple billion dollars at the bottom of his balance sheet. That said, Frobisher is fiercely protective of his fortune and his name. While it’s never in doubt that Frobisher is guilty of bilking his employees — or that he’s at the very least hiding something — he’s arrogant enough that he’s convinced he’ll be vindicated in court, no matter what his handlers say or suggest. Far from the calculating criminal mastermind these sorts of series are usually littered with, Frobisher is an impulsive screw-up. He stubbornly sticks to whatever game plan seems like a good idea at the time, backed by a big enough bankroll to pay someone to mop up whatever mistakes he makes along the way. The most intriguing villains are almost always the ones who sincerely don’t think they’re in the wrong, and Frobisher’s been lying to himself about his innocence so long that he even seems to buy the party line himself.untitledThere are a couple of other key roles worth noting as well. Even if Frobisher himself isn’t much of a capable opponent, his attorney Ray Fiske (Zeljko Ivanek) is as close to a match for Patty Hayes as they come. There’s a particularly intriguing relationship between Frobisher and Fiske — an uneasy friendship borne out of the fact that there’s not much of anyone else to whom either of them can relate. One of Hewes’ greatest assets is Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan), her instantly likeable second-in-command. Shayes is bright, talented, and doggedly loyal, but he doesn’t have what it takes to step out from Hewes’ shadow. The fact that he’s a quietly reluctant second fiddle makes him more compelling than someone who unquestionably follows orders with a smile.Rose-in-Damages-1x12-There-s-No-We-Anymore-rose-byrne-16757877-500-281I was thoroughly impressed by Damages. As frequently as the series teases and misleads viewers along the way, all of it seems logical and earned, not just a case of the writers lazily pulling the rug out from under the audience just to keep them off-guard. The season resolves all of the central conflicts before it’s over and done with, and although it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, exactly, there’s a hell of a lead-in for season two and some tantalizing questions left dangling in front of viewers. It’s such an addictive show that I devoured the entire first season in a day, and there are very, very few series that have compelled me to do that. Tightly woven, wonderfully acted, and sharply written, Damages is a series that’s well worth discovering on Blu-ray for those who missed its first season.

 

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REVIEW: HOLLOW MAN II

CAST

Christian Slater (Mindhunters)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl TV)
Laura Regan (Minority Report TV)
David McIlwraith (Cruel Intentions 2)
William MacDonald (Slither_)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Jesica Harmon (Izombie)
Sonya Salomaa (Stargate SG.1)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)

hollowman2_3The movie opens at a cocktail party at the Reisner Institute, a Washington think tank, some time after the events of the first movie. An invisible force drags a scientist named Dylan into a nearby bathroom, where the force (implied to be a person) brutally throws Dylan around for information. Dylan mentions another scientist, Maggie Dalton, who knows the “formula” the invisible person is looking for. Apparently accepting this, the invisible person releases him, warning him not to tell anyone he was there. As soon as the invisible man leaves (or rather, pretends to leave), Dylan attempts to call someone on his cell phone, but the invisible man smashes the phone and slashes Dylan’s throat. The police arrive at the laboratory to conduct a murder investigation, but the laboratory’s military supervisor, Colonel Gavin Bishop, insists it is an internal military situation and the police have no jurisdiction. Fearing attacks on the remaining scientists, the lab’s owner, Dr. William Reisner, employs Frank Turner and his partner, Detective Lisa Martinez, to protect Maggie, but refuses to divulge any information on the nature of his work.image-w1280The two detectives stand guard outside Maggie’s house. When Lisa opens the door to let the cat in, the invisible man sneaks past her into the house. Just as he reaches the study where Maggie is, Lisa tracks him down, and he kills her with a lamp’s power cord. Suddenly, armed military commandos appear and storm the house, using thermal goggles to target and corner the invisible man. Outside, Turner confronts Bishop, realizing that they used him and Lisa to lure the invisible man to the house. Several stun grenades go off around the house, incapacitating the soldiers and allowing the invisible man to escape in pursuit of Turner and Maggie. He almost catches up to them, but is struck and badly injured by a car, and flees. Maggie is taken into protective custody by the police, where Turner’s superior and friend, Captain Tom Harrison, has received orders to have her transferred to military custody. Frank helps Maggie escape from the police station and they flee in a stolen car. Bishop and Reisner, knowing their careers would end if Maggie talks, declare them fugitives.fghjMaggie later tells Turner that five years prior, a team of scientists figured out how to make humans invisible, but something went wrong, leaving only two survivors. A year after the original project was scrapped, the Reisner Institute restarted the experiments as a covertly Department of Defense-funded operation to create the perfect soldier, codenamed “Silent Knight”, which attempts to render humans invisible. The resulting serum does turn human tissue invisible, but with adverse effects: as it allows light to pass directly through the subject, the radiation damages the cells and causes physical and mental degradation, slowly killing the person. Maggie developed a compound called the “Buffer” to counteract the effects of that particular radiation. A soldier named Michael Griffin volunteered, and the serum succeeded, but the Buffer failed and Griffin seemingly died, which in turn got Maggie fired. Maggie believes that Griffin faked his death so he could use his powers without restraint, but now needs the antidote to the radiation before he dies.fghjMaggie receives a message from a man named Ludlow, who has been in contact with her for weeks. Turner uses his contacts to find Ludlow, a soldier enlisted into the program after Sebastian Caine (the original guinea pig), but before Griffin. He had gone into hiding, but is now slowly dying from radiation. Ludlow has also been tracking Griffin, and reveals the true story to his supposed “death” and the program itself: Operation Silent Knight was never about national security, and neither was Griffin given the Buffer, since they used him to assassinate their political enemies.fghjMeanwhile, Griffin infiltrates Bishop’s office and both get into a fight. The latter attempts to reason with him and then, getting desperate, stabs him with a pen (non-fatally). Griffin impales Bishop with the same pen, and uses his computer to locate Ludlow. Arriving at the hideout, Griffin attacks Turner, but Ludlow intervenes, sacrificing himself to allow Turner and Maggie to escape. Griffin decides to make them return by capturing Maggie’s sister. When they meet at the train station where he is hiding, Griffin silently catches Maggie and tries to turn her invisible so he can take her unnoticed, but Turner intervenes. After a short fight, Griffin escapes with Maggie, leaving Turner with the arriving Reisner and his guards. A short time later, Reisner pursues an invisible man, but is soon captured and held by him. Believing him to be Griffin, he offers to send for the Buffer. The figure, however, is Turner, who used Griffin’s discarded syringe to become invisible as well. Reisner, backing away, is hit and killed by a speeding car.hollowman2_3Griffin takes Maggie to her old college laboratory to create the Buffer for him. Griffin forces her to inject herself with it first, than injects himself with another dose. With his survival seemingly assured, Griffin tries to kill Maggie, but Turner intervenes and knocks him out of the laboratory window. Turner runs outside, where Griffin renders him unconscious. As Griffin slowly turns visible, Maggie reveals that he has been poisoned, as the vial contained rat poison; she loses consciousness. Enraged, Griffin takes a shovel and attempts to kill her, but Turner, having recovered, stops him and kills him with the shovel. He then carries Maggie away for medical attention, leaving Griffin’s body outside in the rain. A few days later, Maggie is recovering in hospital and is poised to be released. Heather tells her that Turner has not been found. Maggie insists that he will come back to her, as she knows he needs her. Outside, they are being watched by a hooded invisible man, presumably Turner, who then walks away.image-w1280The original Hollow Man starring Kevin Bacon was reasonably enjoyable without being a great film. The sequel (as is often the case) is an inferior version of the original. One of the main problems for me was that the Hollow Man (Christian Slater) is only visible for about 5 minutes of the entire film. It’s almost an hour in before you actually see how he became invisible and by that time I was already a bit bored, partly due to the lack of any recognisable actors. HM2 has obviously been rushed together with a very limited budget. In that respect the director has done reasonably well in making it all look pretty good, and it does entertain in places.

 

REVIEW: THE SCORPION KING

CAST

Dwayne Johsnon (Fast & Furious 8)
Steven Brand (Hellraiser 9)
Kelly Hu (Arrow)
Grant Heslov (True Lies)
Bernard Hill (Lord of The Rings)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin City)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl)
Ralf Moeller (Pathfinder)
Branscombe Richmond (Commando)
Roger Rees (The New World)
Tyler Mane (Halloween)

“Before the time of the pyramids,” a horde from the East invades the ancient world, led by the ruthless Memnon, who by their law, is king for being their greatest warrior. His many victories come from the help of a sorcerer who predicts the outcomes of battles, leaving only a few free tribes to oppose him.Mathayus, his half-brother Jesup, and friend Rama, the only three true remaining Akkadians, are hired by King Pheron of the last free tribes to kill Memnon’s sorcerer for twenty blood rubies, upsetting Pheron’s son Takmet, as it is the last of their treasury, and Nubian King Balthazar, who dislikes the Akkadians. The Akkadians manage to sneak into Memnon’s camp, but are ambushed by Memnon’s guards, having been tipped off by Takmet who killed his own father and defected to Memnon’s side. Jesup and Rama are hit by arrows, but Mathayus manages to sneak into the sorcerer’s tent, where he sees that the sorcerer is actually a sorceress, Cassandra. Mathayus is ambushed and meets Memnon himself, who brutally executes Jesup in front of him, and is about to kill Mathayus too. Cassandra, however, tells Memnon that the gods wish Mathayus to survive the night, and to defy them will incur their wrath and cost him his victories. Memnon has Mathayus buried to his neck in the desert to be devoured by fire ants at dawn, but he manages to escape with help from a horse thief, Arpid.Deciding to finish his mission and avenge his brother, Mathayus sneaks into Memnon’s stronghold, Gomorrah, and manages to enter Memnon’s palace with help from a street urchin. He briefly meets Memnon’s court magician, Philos, who hides him and then directs him to the courtyard where Memnon is training. Mathayus tries to shoot Memnon from the watchtower, but is forced to save the street urchin from having his hand amputated for theft by shooting the axe out of Takmet’s hand, alerting the guards to his presence. Mathayus only barely manages to escape Gomorrah, abducting Cassandra along the way, knowing that Memnon will come for her.Cassandra tries to escape from Mathayus and even tells him that she has been Memnon’s prisoner since she was a child. Sympathetic, Mathayus allows her the choice of leaving, but warns her of worse dangers and that she is likely safer with him. Meanwhile, Memnon sends his right-hand man Thorak and a group of guards to kill Mathayus and retrieve Cassandra, but Mathayus manages to slay them all under the cover of a sandstorm and in a cave, while dueling and fatally stabbing Thorak in the abdomen. With his dying breaths, Thorak manages to stab Mathayus in the leg with a scorpion blood-laced arrow. Cassandra, however, uses her magic to save Mathayus’ life. As an insult and a warning, Mathayus sends Thorak’s blood-stained pendant to Memnon.Mathayus, Arpid and Cassandra then run into Philos, who had earlier managed to flee from Memnon’s palace and has perfected an explosive powder he was working on. However, they are ambushed by the rebels, now under the rule of Balthazar. Though Mathayus defeats Balthazar in a fight and earns his grudging respect and sanctuary, Cassandra has a vision of Memnon and his army slaughtering the entire rebel camp. She informs Mathayus and then prophesies that when the moonlight reaches Memnon’s palace, the King on High will become the invincible Scorpion King, and Memnon believes himself to be the one destined to become the Scorpion King. Furthermore, she informs Mathayus that if he faces Memnon, he will most likely die from being shot, but Mathayus assures her that he will make his own destiny and they sleep together.The next morning, however, Cassandra returns to Memnon in order to stall him and possibly kill him. Mathayus, with help from Balthazar, Arpid, Philos and the army of rebels, launches an all-out assault on Memnon’s stronghold, facing Memnon personally before he can kill Cassandra, while Balthazar confronts and kills Takmet, avenging Pheron, and takes on the full force of Memnon’s forces alone. The battle rages on until Mathayus is shot by a guard as in Cassandra’s vision. As Memnon takes his place in the House of Scorpio to become the Scorpion King, Cassandra kills the guard while Mathayus retrieves his bow, pulls the arrow out of his shoulder and uses it to shoot the exhausted Memnon, sending him off the edge of the roof just as Philos and Arpid use the explosive powder to destroy the palace’s foundation stone, bringing down the bulk of Memnon’s forces. Memnon is consumed by the flames as he falls to his death. With the battle over, the remnants of Memnon’s army bow before Mathayus, who by their law is their new king, the Scorpion King.

In the aftermath, Mathayus and Balthazar share a good-natured farewell as the latter returns to his own kingdom. Cassandra tells Mathayus that she sees a period of peace and prosperity coming, but warns him that it will not last forever. Undeterred, Mathayus decides that they will make their own destiny.

The Rock does alright in his first starring role; he’s packing the physicality and presence of a Big Action Star, the action comes at a steady enough paste that the movie never has a chance to drag anywhere throughout its lean hour and a half runtime, it never takes itself too seriously, there are entire battalions of scantily-clad women. .t Chuck Russell and company set out to make a straight-ahead, fun, mindless action/adventure flick, and that’s exactly what they did.

REVIEW: AMERICAN DAD – VOLUME 1-3

Image result for american dad logo

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Wendy Schaal (Small Soldiers)
Scott Grimes (Robin Hood)
Rachael MacFarlane (The Batman)
Dee Bradley Baker (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show)
Kevin Michael Richardson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Busy Philipps (The Smokers)
Daisuke Suzuki (I Am Gangster)
Stephen Root (King of The Hill)
Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Nat Faxon (Weeds)
Jeff Fischer (Happy Feet)
Sarah Silverman (Evolution)
Tori Spelling (Smallville)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Abraham Benrubi (Dark Angel)
William Fichtner (Mom)
Gina Gershon (Bound)
Seth Green (Austin Powers)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
Elias Koteas (Fallen)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Ron Livingston (The Conjuring)
Megyn Price (Rules of Engagement)
Molly Shannon (Bad Teacher)
Marley Shelton (Planet Terror)
Stephen Colbert (The Venture Bros.)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Oded Fehr (V)
Forest Whitaker (Panic Room)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Grant Heslov (True Lies)
Jill Talley (Little Miss Sunshine)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Bryan Cranston (Total Recall)
Leslie Jordan (Ugly Betty)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Freddy Rodriguez (Planet Terror)
Jason Lee (Dogma)
Andy Richter (Chuck)
David Herman (Angel)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl)
Jennie Garth (Beverly Hills, 90210)
Alex Borstein (Family Guy)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
John Cho (Star Trek)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Alexandra Breckenridge (She’s The Man)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Kate Jackson (Charlie’s Angels)
Romany Malco (No Ordinary Family)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Christine Taylor (Zoolander)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Azura Skye (28 Days)
Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Stark Sands (Minority Report TV)
Elijah Wood (Lord of The Rings)
Ivana Milicevic (Banshee)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
John Krasinski (License To Wed)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander II)
Lisa Kudrow (Easy A)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)
Peter Graves (Airplane)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Elliott Gould (Ocean’s Eleven)
Becki Newton (Ugly Betty)
Harve Presnell (Lois & Clark)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Richard Gant (Godzilla)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Eartha Kitt (60s Batman)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)

A worthy successor to parent show Family Guy, this show tells the misadventures of an ultra right wing CIA Agent and his long suffering family.The characters are great. Stan Smith, the dad of the title is more capable than Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, but just as blinkered. He calls “French toast” smelly and ungrateful and prefers it to be known as “American toast”, has a questionable attraction to his gun and a fear of liberals.Wife Francine is a housewife who lacks ambition but every so often strikes out on her own. Their children are the geeky Steve and ultra left wing Hayley. Completing teh family are a German athlete who’s mind has been put in a fish Klaus (watch the pilot for the back story) and needy, TV and celebrity obsessed gender bending alien Roger. There are some great set ups e.g. Stan having Francine’s memory erased when he forgets a wedding anniversary, Roger apparently dying and the CIA hunting him as the area 51 alien who previously escaped and Stan being sent to Arabia as a punishment and finding it’s to his taste.The jokes fly thick and fast e.g. Roger telling Stan “Oh by the way your skin cream did wonders for my ‘roids, well if you won’t let me out of the house to buy my own I guess we’re ointment buddies!”, Stan saying “Should, well we don’t live in Shouldland. Ah Shouldland, what a wonderful place!” and Roger’s retort “yes I’m an alien and I have claws. You’re awfully fat. See? Kitty can scratch!”There are also some great turns from Patrick Stewart voicing CIA Deputy Director Bullock. Great commentaries and featurettes make a superb package!

The “Laugh Alert” level is elevated with the release of this second volume of episodes that chronologically span seasons 1 and 2. You know the “there” that people talk about when they say, “Don’t go ‘there’?” Seth MacFarlane’s American Dad leaves “there” in the dust.Take the holiday–excuse me, Christmas–episode, “The Best Christmas Story Never,” which somehow melds Charles Dickens with a Ray Bradbury-esque cautionary tale of tampering with the past.CIA Agent and true patriot act Stan Smith (voiced by MacFarlane) loses the spirit of the season in a blizzard of PC secularism in which even the fugitive “Christmas rapist” must be referred to as “the holiday rapist.” In the “is nothing sacred” world of American Dad, Christmas can only be saved by Stan accompanying the Ghost of Christmas Past (Lisa Kudrow) back in time to (don’t ask) kill Jane Fonda (or Donald Sutherland), take over the direction of Taxi Driver from a drug-free Martin Scorsese, and shoot Ronald Reagan.

The Smith family–wife Francine, geeky son Steve, and “peace-pusher” daughter Hayley–is still not as vividly drawn as the Griffins on MacFarlane’s Family Guy (even Klaus, the talking German-accented goldfish admits in one episode that his “fish shtick” is getting thin), but one can’t help salute the audacity of the oft-inspired writing. In “Stannie, Get Your Gun,” Stan becomes a National Gun Association spokesperson after being accidentally paralyzed by his anti-gun daughter. “The American Dad After School Special” has an A Brilliant Mind-like twist as Stan battles an eating disorder brought about by Steve’s new overweight girlfriend. In “Helping Handis,” Steve becomes the big man on campus after he develops steroid-enhanced breasts.Two episodes are standouts for their animation. “Dungeons and Wagons,” as did South Park with “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” creates a video game universe in which Steve rules. Near the end of “Failure Is Not a Factory-Installed Option,” the screen adjusts to widescreen format, and the saga of the golden turd, begun in the first season episode, “Homeland Insecurity” compellingly continues with the jewel-encrusted oddity becoming the last temptation of an honest cop (Beau Bridges). American Dad is, as should be apparent, not for all tastes (or more sensitive viewers–the episode “Tears of a Clooney” drops some unbleeped F-bombs), but fans of the series are rewarded with this three disc-set’s prodigious extra features, including rowdy, chaotic commentaries for all the episodes, a wealth of hit and miss deleted scenes, and a segment devoted to the production of “Dungeons and Wagons.”

“I’m not beloved,” CIA Agent Stan Smith is shocked to discover after eavesdropping on his mocking neighbours in the episode, “I Can’t Stan You”. With all the resolve this “pig-headed” Red State poster boy and George “The Dub” Bush devotee can muster, he vows, “I will make these people like me.” For those still on the fence about American Dad, this collection of 18 episodes ought to do the trick.These characters may not be as indelible as the Family Guy clan, but these episodes rarely flag. If the outrageous storylines don’t grab you, the rapid-fire random gags will. Like King of the Hill’s Hank Hill , Stan (voiced by series co-creator Seth McFarlane) is oft confounded by a world seemingly gone mad. Unlike Hank, he is the voice of un-reason. In “Surro-Gate,” Stan’s dizzy wife, Francine (Wendy Schaal) agrees to be the surrogate for the Smith’s gay neighbors, prompting the disapproving Stan to kidnap the infant, as well as the brood of a lesbian couple.In “Black Mystery Month,” Stan reveals a Da Vinci Code-like conspiracy involving George Washington Carver that’s plain nuts. In another episode, “Bush Comes to Dinner” for a night of drunken debauchery; some easy-target Bush-bashing is redeemed when the President makes peace between Stan and his “lost cause” liberal daughter, Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane). Some of the best episodes focus more on the Smith family than politics. In “The Vacation Goo”, Francine demands a real family getaway after discovering that all previous vacations were artificially created memories. In “Haylias,” it is revealed that the unwitting Hayley is a brainwashed sleeper agent, who is activated by Stan to stop her from moving to France. “The 42-Year-Old Virgin” reveals another shocker: trigger-happy Stan has never actually killed anyone!American Dad revels in guy humour. As Stan tells an unamused Hayley at one point, “You don’t get a willy, you don’t get the silly.” American Dad brings the silly, but while the series is not above (or beneath) moth fart jokes, it is also smart enough to reference, say, “Equus” or the touching “When Somebody Loved Me” number from Toy Story 2. Stan’s geeky son, Steve (Scott Grimes), bitchy alien Roger (MacFarlane), and talking fish Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker) are no Chris, Brian, or Stewie, but this set contains some of their more memorable outings. In “Frannie 911,” it turns out that it actually would kill Roger to be nice. In “Surro-Gate,” Klaus vows revenge on Roger and Stan following a waterslide prank. American Dad fans will salute this three-disc set’s generous features, including a riotous Comic-Con cast table read of the episode, “The 42 Year-Old Virgin,” nearly a half hour of deleted scenes (deleted jokes would be more accurate), unrated versions (with unbleeped profanities) of certain episodes, and freewheeling audio commentaries (“Hey, aren’t we supposed to talk about the episode?” one participant tries to steer one digressive conversation

REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Brake)
Jeremy Jordan (Smash)
David Harewood (Blood Diamond)
Calista Flockhart (The Last Shot)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Laura Benanti (Take The Lead)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Helen Slater (Supergirl 80s)
Owain Yeoman (Troy)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Robert Gant (Popular)
Briana Venskus (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Chris Vaance (Prison Break)
Peter Facinelli (Twilight)
Jenna Dewan Tatum (Witches of East End)
Chris Browning (Cowboys & Aliens)
Brit Morgan (True Blood)
Scott Michael Campbell (Push)
Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
Charles Halford (Constantine TV)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Hope Lauren (Agent Carter)
Emma Caulfield (Buffy)
Tawny Cypress (Heroes)
Italia Ricci (American Pie: Beta House)
Laura Vandervoort (Smallville)
Sara Gilbert (The Big Bang Theory)
Eddie McClintock (Bones)
Glenn Morshower (Transformers 3)


Warner Bros have had a rocky road when it comes to their superhero characters and although the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise epitomized this character, their other attempts at films like Green Lantern and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice met with criticism. Sometimes ‘dark’ does not always work, particularly when it comes to superheroes and if you want an example at this, check out the Marvel Universe of superheroes. However for their TV series (Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow), they’ve successfully captured the spirit of these characters and the comic universe where they came from and thankfully Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El (aka Kara Davers) is also part of this success thanks to the excellent TV series Supergirl that stars Melissa Benoist as this intelligent and beautiful Kryptonian. Given that, the entire casting for Supergirl is perfect!

The series is also created by Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg who are no strangers to the world of superheroes and compared to the entire DC Comics TV line-up, Supergirl is easily one of my favorite as it doesn’t try to be too dark but rather, uplifting and enjoyable.

Also joining Benoist as Supergirl is Mechad Brooks (Jimmy Olsen), David Harewood (Hank Henshaw or the ‘Martian Manhunter’ known as J’onn J’onzz), Chyler Leigh (Kara’s adopted sister Alex Danvers), Jeremy Jordan (Kara’s sidekick) and also Calista Flockhart who plays Cat Grant, the owner of CatCo Worldwide Media (think a modern version of the Daily Planet). Sure, some of the actors camp it up for the TV series but this campiness actually works well with the characters and the story and once again, continue with the light-hearted nature of the series.

Given that, there are some darker moments in the series but overall and compared to The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tommorrow, Supergirl is a much more colorful and hopeful story. The series even boasts Helen Slater (who played the original Supergirl in the 1984 movie) as Eliza Danvers as Kara’s adoptive mother plus Dean Cain as her father who played Superman in the classic 1993 TV series, Lois & Clark. This is also what I enjoy about Supergirl is all the cameos and whether that’s from film or the world of DC Comics itself, the creators really cram in quite a few people into the series, many as Easter Eggs.

Although each episode has a ‘villain’, the overarching villain is Laura Benanti as Alura Zor-El who plays the evil twin sister of Kara’s mother. Having additional Kryptonians in the show does increase the jeopardy for our heroine and some of these episodes are considerably darker. Then you have billionaire Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli) who is not evil perse but wants the best for the world which of course causes conflict. Once again, some great villains for Supergirl. Kara’s supporting cast include an African American Jimmy Olsen who also provides a love interest for Supergirl plus their geeky tech-head sidekick Winn Schott who together attempt to protect the fictitious National City. Then you have Kara’s sister Alex who works for the DEO (Department of Extra-Normal Operations) that is run by Hank Henshaw, an alien known as J’onn J’onzz disguised as a human in order to protect the world from alien threats. The character of Henshaw also has a great history.

Interestingly, Superman is mentioned in the series and does appear off screen. He will  actually makes a full appearance in Season 2 of Supergirl but the coolest crossover in any TV series was when Grant Gustin from The Flash starred in one episode which had fanboys and fangirls gushing from the coolness factor. With 20 episodes in this collection, Supergirl does end with a cliffhanger and with a second season confirmed (moving to CW) things are looking up for the Girl of Steel.

Supergirl on Blu-ray boasts some exceptional video and audio quality that really highlights the colourful costumes, villains and heroes of this universe. For special features, we get a handful of deleted scenes plus a couple of fun documentaries about J’onn J’onzz and Supergirl. All in all, it’s a great release from Roadshow Warner.

Supergirl is a proof that superheroes don’t need to be dark and moody and this TV series captures the spirit and core of this character that thanks to its creators successfully transforms the comic into a very enjoyable, clichéd and action packed live-action series with lots of world building and character development!. An Excellent series and a must see for all DC fans.

REVIEW: SUPERNOVA

CAST

James Spader (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Robert Forster (Heroes)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl TV)
Robin Tunney (Hollywoodland)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Rebels)

Supernova chronicles the search and rescue patrol of a medical ship in deep space in the early 22nd century and its six-member crew, which includes captain and pilot A.J. Marley (Robert Forster), co-pilot Nick Vanzant (James Spader), medical officer Kaela Evers (Angela Bassett), medical technician Yerzy Penalosa (Lou Diamond Phillips), search and rescue paramedic Danika Lund (Robin Tunney) and computer technician Benjamin Sotomejor (Wilson Cruz). Aboard their vessel, the Nightingale 229, they receive an emergency distress signal coming from an ice mining operation on the moon Titan 37, more than 3,000 light years away.

The crew answers the call and dimension jumps — during which Captain Marley suffers fatal injuries due to a malfunction of the ship’s equipment — arriving in the path of Titan 37’s debris cloud, some of which damages the ship and causes the loss of 82 percent of its maneuvering fuel. Worse still, Titan 37 orbits a blue giant, and its high gravity field will pull the ship to the point where it will be incinerated in 17 hours, 12 minutes — which happens to be almost the same amount of time that the Nightingale 229 will need to recharge its jump drive, their only possible hope for escape. With only an 11-minute window for escape, the surviving crew soon find themselves in danger from the disturbing young man (Peter Facinelli) they rescue, and the mysterious alien artifact he has smuggled aboard. This artifact is analyzed by the ship’s computer and is said to contain nine-dimensional matter.

It is ultimately discovered that the young man who called for rescue is actually Karl Larson, an old former lover of Kaela (it is implied they had an abusive relationship). Karl came into contact with the nine-dimensional matter after recovering the artifact. It somehow enabled him to acquire super strength and supernatural healing abilities, and made him younger (such that Kaela did not recognize him). Karl murders most of the crew except Kaela and strands Nick on the mining platform. Karl unsuccessfully attempts to romantically reconcile with Kaela. Nick finds his way back to the medical ship through a rescue pod left on the mining platform, and a battle ensues between Nick and Karl. Karl is ultimately killed by Kaela using explosives placed near the alien artifact which Karl was obsessed with retrieving. The explosion ejects the artifact into space, hurtling it towards the blue giant.

With moments left before the dimension jump activates, Kaela and Nick place themselves into the only remaining dimensional stabilization chamber (Karl had destroyed all but one), which is the only thing that enables human beings to survive the ship’s dimensional jump drive. The pods are meant to hold only one person, however — two subjects might be genetically mixed during the dimensional jump. Before Nick and Kaela enter the only remaining pod, the computer warns them that the nine-dimensional matter is reacting with the gravity of the blue giant sun and will cause a nine-dimensional reaction that will spread in all directions, such that the reaction’s resulting supernova will reach Earth within 51 years. The computer hypothesizes that the reaction will either destroy life on Earth or “enable humankind to achieve a new level of existence.” Just before the blue giant supernovas, the ship engages in a dimensional jump which brings Nick and Kaela back to Earth. As a result of their being in the same pod, the two of them each have one eye of the other person’s original eye color. The ship’s computer also reveals that Kaela is pregnant, which may be the result of them being in the pod together during the jump, or the result of their copulation hours earlier.

This is a fantastic little sci-fi movie from 2000, still looking good after all these years. The special effects are top notch and still look great, if you love a good sci-fi its really worth digging back up as its thoroughly entertaining!

REVIEW: THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART 2

CAST
Kristin Stewart (Snow White & The Huntsman)
Robert Pattinson (Sword Xanten)
Taylor Lautner (Tracers)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl)
Elizabeth Reaser (The Ex List)
Ashley Greene (Burying The Ex)
Jackson Rathbone (S.Darko)
Kellan Lutz (The Legend of Hercules)
Nikki Reed (Sleepy Hollow)
Billy Burke (Red Riding Hood)
Maggie Grace (Lost)
Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Michael Sheen (Underworld)
Daniel Cudmore (X-Men 2)
Dakota Fanning (Taken)
Cameron Bright (The Butterfly Effect)
Mia Maestro (Alias)
Judith Shekoni (Heroes Reborn)
Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
 
Bella awakens from her transformation from human to vampire, aware of her new abilities, but unaware of changes within the coven, such as Jacob having imprinted on her child, Renesmee. It also appears that Bella’s father, Charlie, has been attempting to contact the Cullens for updates on Bella’s illness. They intend to tell him she didn’t survive, which requires that they move away from Forks, Washington to protect their identities. Jacob, desperate not to lose Renesmee, tells Charlie that Bella is in fact alive and well, and explains that Bella had to change in order to survive. He morphs into a wolf, revealing his tribe’s shape-shifting power, but does not tell Charlie about vampires.
 
Several months pass with Carlisle monitoring Renesmee’s rapid growth. On an outing in the woods, a bitter Irina sees Renesmee from a distance and believes her to be an immortal child. Immortal children were vampires who were changed in childhood, and because they could not be trained nor restrained, they destroyed entire villages. They were eventually executed, as were the parents who created them, and the creation of such children outlawed. Irina goes to the Volturi to report what she has seen. Alice sees the Volturi and Irina coming to kill the Cullens and instructs the others to gather as many witnesses as they can to testify that Renesmee is not an immortal. The Cullens begin to summon witnesses, such as the Denali family. One of the Denali, Eleazar, later discovers that Bella has a special ability: a powerful mental shield which had protected her from Edward’s mind reading even when she was human, and which she can now extend to protect others from mental attacks.
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As some of their potential witnesses are attacked and prevented from supporting the Cullens, Carlisle and Edward realize they may have to fight the Volturi. Their witnesses ultimately agree to stand with them in battle, having realized the Volturi increase the Guard by falsely accusing covens of crimes, destroy them and then recruit vampires with gifts. The Volturi arrive prepared for battle, led by Aro, who is eager to obtain the gifted members of the Cullen coven as part of his guard. Aro is allowed to touch Renesmee, and is convinced that she is not an immortal child. Irina is brought forth and takes full responsibility for her mistake, leading to her immediate death. Aro still insists that Renesmee may pose a risk in the future, validating his claim that battle is necessary. Before any violence, Alice shares with Aro her vision of the battle that is to come, during which both sides sustain heavy casualties, including Aro who would also die. Aro believes her, giving Alice and Jasper an opportunity to reveal their witness (a half mortal half vampire just like Renesmee). The witness proves that he is not a threat, supporting the notion that Renesmee is not a threat. The Volturi unhappily leave without a fight.
Back at the Cullen home, Alice glimpses the future, seeing Edward and Bella together with Jacob and a fully matured Renesmee also together. Edward reads Alice’s mind and feels relieved that Renesmee has Jacob to protect her. Alone in the meadow, Bella pushes her mental shield away and finally allows Edward a peek into her mind, showing him every precious moment she and Edward shared together and the two share a kiss after Bella telling Edward, “No one has ever loved anyone as much as I love you”, and both Edward and Bella saying they’ll love and be together forever. The end credits present the cast members from all five films.
I enjoyed seeing the characters develop, especially  Stewart who steals the show. She has grown into a respectable actress and she has turned a wooden and unlikable character (in the novel) into someone you root for in the film.