HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE HOLE (2009)

CAST

Chris Massoglia (The Matchbreaker)
Haley Bennett (The Girl on The Train)
Nathan Gamble (The Dark Knight)
Teri Polo (Meet The Parents)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil TV)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)

17-year-old Dane Thompson, his 10-year-old brother Lucas, and their mother, Susan, move from Brooklyn to the quiet town of Bensenville where Dane and Lucas befriend their next door neighbor, Julie. While exploring their new home, Dane and Lucas discover a trapdoor with several locks along each side in the basement. Opening the trapdoor reveals a hole which appears to be bottomless. Over the next few days, each child experiences strange events. Lucas, having a fear of clowns, discovers a jester puppet on his bed, as well as other locations, as if it is following him. Julie begins to see an injured girl who bleeds from her eyes. Dane starts to see shadowy figures of a large man. Eventually, all three witness the injured girl together at the boys’ home where they follow her to the basement and watch as she crawls into the hole.Julie suggests they seek help from the previous owner of the house, Creepy Carl, who now lives in an abandoned glove factory surrounded by hundreds of lights and lamps. When the kids tell him that they have opened the hole, he berates them for releasing the evil inside stating that it will come for them and kill Dane. Later that night, Carl is seen scribbling in a sketchbook, almost blacking out entire pages. Carl screams, “I’m not done yet!” as the light bulbs around him pop. The sketchbook turns out to belong to Dane, who returns to the factory to retrieve it. He finds his sketchbook in the darkness; Creepy Carl is gone. Julie decides to get the group relaxed and throws a pool party. While under the water, Dane sees a shadowy figure of a giant man standing above. Once out of the pool, he notices a trail of muddy footprints which he and Julie follow, leaving Lucas alone in the pool. They hear Julie’s pet dog, Charlie, barking and return to see Lucas drowning. Lucas tells them that the jester puppet had pulled him under.Later that night, while Lucas is asleep, Dane sees a hand-shaped bruise on Lucas’ leg. He discovers that it is identical to a hand that Creepy Carl had drawn in the sketchbook. As he flips through the sketchbook, he realizes that each page is a puzzle piece. While working on the puzzle, Dane hears someone whistling. When he walks into the kitchen, he sees an envelope addressed to him from the New Jersey State Penitentiary. A note inside reads ‘HELLO BOY’. He rushes upstairs to Lucas and tells him that someone is in the house. While Dane investigates, Lucas meets a police officer standing at the bottom of the stairs. The officer shows Lucas a picture of two little girls and asks if he has seen one of them and points to the girl whom Julie first encountered. The police officer leaves the picture with Lucas and turns to leave revealing the back of his head is missing. Lucas fetches Dane and the pair watch the cop return to the basement and climb into the hole.Next door, the girl then appears in Julie’s room. Julie climbs out of her window and meets the boys where she reveals to Dane that she and her best friend Annie were playing on the tracks of an old roller coaster which resulted in an accident where Annie fell to her death. In an attempt to help Julie, a police officer had also fallen and was killed. She decides to return to the amusement park where the accident occurred stating “I know what I need to do now.” Dane goes after her telling Lucas to stay at home.Julie finds her friend sitting on the same spot from which she fell. After Julie helps Annie understand that she had tried to save her, Annie disappears and is pleased that Julie is no longer scared. Meanwhile, Lucas hears Dane calling him to the basement. Confused, he follows the voice to discover the jester puppet mimicking Dane’s voice. The puppet attacks Lucas but is outwitted and eventually destroyed. Dane and Julie return and Lucas announces that he is no longer afraid of clowns. Dane then tells them of a theory that once you look into the hole it somehow knows you and creates whatever you are afraid of. When asked what he’s afraid of, Dane replies that he is not afraid of anything.91Z5dqalWHL__SL1500_Julie then invites Dane and Lucas to stay at her place for the night. As Lucas is gathering his things, Dane shows Julie the puzzle he had been working on. They solve the puzzle together and see a boy being grabbed by a giant man. Dane rushes upstairs to find that Lucas is gone. Dane finally reveals that he is afraid of his father, who had abused the entire family and is now in prison. Realizing that his father has taken Lucas into the hole, Dane jumps into the hole as well. Dane finds Lucas hiding in the closet of a twisted version of a home. Their father, who has become a giant, discovers them and starts to break through the door. They turn around and discover the shelving seems to be a ladder. Dane tells Lucas to start climbing. Dane starts to follow, when his father drags him back down. As Dane fights him off, the giant father slowly returns to his actual size as Dane starts to confront his fear, seeing him for what he really is. Their surroundings begin to crumble and the floor falls away leaving Dane and his father trapped on an island under a ceiling fan. Having taken his father’s belt, Dane pulls himself onto the fan and gives the crumbling floor one final blow with the belt buckle causing the floor to break apart and the father to fall.Bo22_U_00_53_49_00007

Dane emerges from the hole where Julie and Lucas are waiting. They close the hole, just as their mother comes down to the basement. She sees the trapdoor and opens it, revealing a shallow crawl space below. As the group heads upstairs, Lucas asks his mom if she is afraid of anything. She replies that she was afraid of a monster under her bed when she was a little girl. Lucas says, “Uh oh,” as the trapdoor blows opens again revealing the darkness has returned.Bullet-DIBefore watching this I’d seen a few bad reviews, but now I don’t know why; it’s a good family horror. There’s no massive scares, but the plot is good, delving into the fears of the characters well. The beginning is done well, leaving you guessing as to what is down the hole, but after that I can’t say I was ever bored through it either, I think it is a good length and filmed well, keeping you in suspense throughout.

REVIEW: GODZILLA (2014)

CAST

Aaron Taylor-Johnston (Kick-Ass 1 & 2)
Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins)
Bryan Cranston (Argo)
Carson Bolde (Mansfield Path)
Sally Hawkins (Layer Cake)
Juliette Binoche (The English Patient)
David Strathairn (Lincoln)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Garry Chalk (Beast Wars)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Kevan Ohtsji (Dreamcatcher)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Ty Olsson (War For The Planet of The Apes)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Aaron Pearl (Man of Steel)

In 1954, Godzilla, an ancient alpha predator, is lured to an island in an attempt to kill it with a nuclear bomb. In 1999, Project Monarch scientists Ishiro Serizawa and Vivienne Graham investigate a colossal skeleton unearthed in a collapsed mine in the Philippines. They find two giant spores; one dormant and one hatched with a trail that leads to the sea. In Japan, the Janjira Nuclear Power Plant experiences unusual seismic activity; Supervisor Joe Brody sends his wife Sandra with a team of other technicians into the reactor. A tremor breaches the reactor, leaving Sandra and her team unable to escape while the plant collapses.Fifteen years later in 2014, Joe’s son Ford, a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal officer, returns from a tour of duty to his family in San Francisco but has to immediately depart for Japan after Joe is detained for trespassing in the Janjira quarantine zone. Joe is determined to find out the cause of the Janjira meltdown, and he persuades Ford to accompany him to their old home in the quarantine zone to retrieve vital data while discovering that the zone is not toxic. They successfully retrieve the data but are discovered by soldiers and taken to a secret facility in the power plant’s ruins. After several power failures, a giant winged creature emerges and escapes, destroying the facility. Joe is severely wounded and dies as he and Ford are taken by helicopter to the U.S.S. Saratoga. The incident is reported around the world as an earthquake.
Serizawa, Graham, and Ford join a U.S. Navy task force led by Admiral William Stenz to search for the creature, called a “MUTO” (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). Serizawa and Graham reveal to Ford that a 1954 deep sea expedition triggered the appearance of Godzilla and nuclear tests in the 1950s were really attempts to kill him. Project Monarch was established to secretly study Godzilla and other similar creatures such as the MUTO, which traveled from the Philippine mine to Janjira and caused the meltdown, and how they are connected with each other. Ford reveals that Joe had monitored echolocation signals that indicated the MUTO was communicating with something.
The MUTO attacks a Russian submarine and drops it on land in Hawaii to eat the sub’s nuclear material. Godzilla arrives, causing a tsunami in Honolulu and briefly engages the MUTO in battle, until it flees. Meanwhile, a second, larger, wingless MUTO emerges from the other spore in Nevada and devastates Las Vegas. The scientists deduce the second MUTO is female, the female was the one the male was communicating with, and that the two MUTOs will meet to breed in San Francisco. Over the scientists’ objections, Stenz approves a plan to use nuclear warheads to lure and destroy the monsters. Ford returns to the U.S. and ends up joining the team delivering the warheads by train, but the female MUTO intercepts the train and devours most of the warheads. The single remaining warhead is airlifted with Ford to San Francisco and is activated after a confrontation between the military and Godzilla at the Golden Gate Bridge. The male MUTO steals the warhead and takes it to the female, who forms a nest around it in the Chinatown area.
While Godzilla and the MUTOs battle, a strike team, including Ford, enters the city via HALO jump to find and disarm the warhead. Unable to access the timer, the rest of the team sets the warhead on a boat for disposal at sea. The MUTOs are eventually able to get the upper hand, but Ford blows up the MUTO nest, ultimately distracting the MUTOs enough to allow Godzilla to emerge victorious in the end, killing the male MUTO by slamming him with his tail into the side of an office building and the female by firing his atomic breath down her throat, beheading her. Godzilla then collapses on the city shore. With the rest of the team wiped out, Ford uses the last of his energy to get the boat with the warhead out to sea. He is rescued before the warhead explodes and reunites with his family at the Oakland Coliseum emergency shelter the following morning. Godzilla awakens, rising from the destroyed San Francisco, and returns to sea while the media hails Godzilla as “King of the Monsters – savior of our city?”.It’s a good solid and well made big screen action disaster monster movie that deserves multiple viewings.

 

REVIEW: SANCTUARY – SEASON 1

Starring

Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Dunne (Space Milkshake)
Emilie Ullerup (Artic Air)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Kavan Smith (Stargate: Atlantis)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Ellie Harvie (Izombie)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Kirsten Robek (Critters: A New Binge)
Leah Cairns (Interstellar)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
Peter Bryant (Leegnds of Tomorrow)
Peter Outerbridge (Saw VI)
Mackenzie Gray (man of Steel)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
James Kirk (She’s The Man)
Sarah Strange (Men In Trees)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Katharine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Jonathon Young (Impastor)
Gabrielle Rose (If I Stay)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Lynda Boyd (Power Rangers In Space)
Rukiya Bernard (Van Helsing)
Emily Tennant (Motive)
Rekha Sharma (Battlestar Galactica)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Christine Chatelain (The Collector)
Alex Diakun (Andromeda)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)

Sanctuary (2008)Being a big fan of Stargate SG-1 in general and Amanda Tapping in particular, I was quite excited to hear that the actress had signed up to play the lead in (and was executive producer of) a web-based series entitled Sanctuary. I had meant to download the 8 15-minute webisodes but with one thing and another, never got around to it. Based on the strength of those shorts, the series was picked up by the horribly named cable network Syfy, had a successful first season, and was renewed for a second (that is scheduled to begin in October.) E1 Entertainment has now released Sanctuary Season One on DVD in a nice four disc set that fans of SF should consider picking up, especially if you gave up on the series while it was airing after a few episodes.Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne) is a profiler for a local police force in an unnamed metropolitan city. Being very observant in a Monk-like way, he puts together clues that others often miss and follows them to their logical conclusions, even if those conclusions sound crazy. He was kicked out of the FBI for his hair-brained hypotheses, and is pretty much shunned by the policemen he works with for the same reason.Robin Dunne and Emilie Ullerup in Sanctuary (2008)While investigating the dead of a civilian and two police officers Zimmerman crosses paths with Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping). She runs the Sanctuary, a privately funded large gothic building in the middle of town that is host to, Will eventually discovers, a wide assortment of bizarre creatures called ‘abnormals’. Basically all of Zimmerman’s theories have been correct, there are odd being roaming the world in secret and Magnus’ group helps those that they can and hunts down the ones that are dangerous to humanity.Will signs up and joins the Sanctuary team that includes Magnus, who turns out to be much, much older than she looks, Helen’s kick-ass daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), tech geek Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins) and butler and extra muscle when needed Bigfoot (Christopher Heyerdahl). Searching the globe for abnormals the group discovers mermaids, ancient witches, a human-like race that can compact their bodies to squeeze through the smallest spaces, a vampire, people who can shoot heat rays from their eyes, and even the basis for Sherlock Holmes and the real Jack the Ripper (who just happens to be Magnus’ ex-lover.) Every great team needs a suitable enemy too, and Sanctuary has one in the form of the Cabal, a super-secret, well funded, organization that also investigates abnormal sightings, but they have sinister motive behind what they’re doing and consider the Sanctuary their sworn enemies.Christopher Heyerdahl in Sanctuary (2008)In the second half we’re introduced to Nikola Tesla who used to be a friend of Magnus’ way back when and who is a vampire. An intriguing character and easily my favorite in the show, viewers are never sure if he’s lying or telling the truth and whose side he’s really on. The show picks up for there, no longer being a ‘monster of the week’ program; it starts telling a larger story and is more careful how the plots unravel. The faux witty banter is toned down considerably and small incidental details actually make sense at this point. They also go back and correct some of their earlier mistakes such as Magnus’ education. In the first episode they stated that she attended Oxford in the mid 1800’s, a time when women weren’t allowed to enroll, but in episode 12 a character reveals that she only audited classes at that time, something that makes much more sense.The acting in the program is generally good with Amanda Tapping stealing the show. She’s playing a character similar to Dr. Samantha Carter, the person she portrayed on Stargate SG-1, but Tapping went out of her way to create a totally different personality for this new character. Physically she dyed her hair and she also sports a British accent (that sounds pretty good actually. She was born in England, I guess that helps more than a bit.) Magnus is also more careful than Dr. Carter and has a totally different demeanor. I was always enamored of Tapping’s role in SG-1 (she reminded a lot of my wife,) but while watching her here I never thought of her as “that gal from SG-1,” a testament to how well she did in crafting a new individual.

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 9

Starring

Ben Browder (Farscape)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)

Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Claudia Black (Pitch Black)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Obi Ndefo (Star Trek: DS9)
Gary Jones (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
April Telek (Rogue)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Julian Sands (What/If)
Wallace Shawn (Young Sheldon)
Barclay Hope (Final Destination 3)
Maury Chaykin (My Cousin Vinny)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Flemming (Staragte: Atlantis)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Chilton Crane (The 4400)
Jason George (Fallen)
Jarvis W. George (Gamer)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Ty Olsson (War For TPOTA)
Cameron Bright (Birth)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
William Atherton (Ghostbusters)
JR Bourne (The 100)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Reed Diamond (Agents of Shield)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
Veena Sood (Timecop)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
John Aylward (Alias)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Chelah Horsdal (You Me Her)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Eric Steinberg (Supergirl)
Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Daniella Evangelista (Ripper)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John Noble (Sleepy HOllow)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Noah Danby (Bitten)

Claudia Black and Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Avalon, Part 1 is a great season opener, introduces  new kid on the block Ben Browder,  as the season progresses the character is definitely fleshed out more and he soon fits in nicely with the tightly-knit S.G.1 team.Ben Browder and Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 (1997)However, the bottom line is that this is still a character who bares a striking similarity in disposition to Browder’s other well-known TV personality- Farscape’s John Crichton- with that same irreverent humor and easy-going attitude, but it’s a style that clearly works for Browder and it’s difficult not to find that likable. Beau Bridges’ introduction is made with equally good fanfare, his character is one who I found myself liking more readily- he approaches the role of the General of the base differently to Don S. Davis, with more of an every man approach, although he never hesitates to exert the full force of his office against unfriendly aliens, or humans when required.Mark Houghton in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Largely thanks to the development of this season’s main story-arc with the introduction of God-wannabes the Ori and their powerful minions known as Priors, this ninth season becomes surprisingly mesmerising in very short order. Beginning with the concluding part and then into episode 3- `Origin’, this season soon establishes itself as one of the best `Stargate: S.G.1′ offerings in years. The use of Arthurian legend in this season is spread pretty thickly in the beginning and had me worried that this fantasy element might not work in a predominantly science-fiction-oriented series, but very soon the parallels the writers draw between the Arthurian myth and the familiar Stargate set-up, become very inventive and come to work surprisingly well at contrasting against the new and growing force of evil spreading through the galaxy. In the first five episodes that other recognizable `Farscape’ regular Claudia Black and her seductively disobedient alter-ego Vala are another reason to be enchanted by this season. Vala brings such humor and life to the series that I was really disappointed when she parted company with S.G.1, despite the welcome return of Sam Carter following her brief career change. Thankfully Vala returns towards the end of the season and here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of her.Larry Cedar in Stargate SG-1 (1997)This season’s other major success is in its stand-alone stories that continue to present unique, punchy and creative sci-fi ideas to its audience. In particular episode 9- `Prototype’ and episode 13- `Ripple Effect’ are a couple of my favourites, the first of which concerns the discovery of a prodigy of Anubis frozen on a distant planet and the second has multiple S.G.1 teams pouring through the Stargate from diverse alternate realities , both of which had me glued to my seat

REVIEW: ANDROMEDA – SEASON 3

Starring

Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Lisa Ryder (Jason X)
Keith Hamilton Cobb (All My Children)
Gordon Michael Woolvett (Bride of Chucky)
Laura Bertram (50/50)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)

Laura Bertram and Lisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Winston Rekert (Neon Rider)
Lawrence Bayne (X-Men: TAS)
Kirsten Robek (Cats & Dogs)
John de Lancie (Stargate SG.1)
Venus Terzo (BEast Wars)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Sarah Deakins (Rogue)
A.C. Peterson (Mutant X)
Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica)
William Katt (Carrie)
Geordie Johnson (The English Patient)
Leila Johnson (Foursome)
Steve Bacic (Flash Gordon)
Jayne Heitmeyer (Earth: Final Conflict)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Adam Harrington (The Secret Circle)
Chris Potter (Queer as Folk)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Kristi Angus (Jason X)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Colin Lawrence (The 6th Day)
Jody Thompson (The 4400)
Paul Campbell (88 Minutes)
Kevan Ohtsji (elektra)
Helene Joy (Durham County)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Stacy Grant (First Wave)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Krista Allen (The FInal Destination)
Marie Stillin (Stargate SG.1)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Smallville)
JR Bourne (The 100)
Christopher Judge (Stargate SG.1)
Marion Eisman (Riverdale)

Lexa Doig in Andromeda (2000)

Andromeda starred Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journey’s) in a science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) with a variety of executive producers Robert Hewitt Wolfe (The 4400, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Majel Rodenberry (Earth: Final Conflict), Allan Eastman (Star Trek: Voyager), Robert Engels (seaQuest DSV), Jay Firestone (Mutant X, La Femme Nikita), and Adam Haight (Mutant X, Highlander: The Raven). With its diverse crew of producers with extensive experience in science fiction and drama productions, Andromeda put in five solid seasons from 2000 to 2005 and totaled one-hundred and ten episodes. The premise of Andromeda is about the adventures of the crew the Andromeda and their efforts to rebuild a massive civilization that spanned the universeLisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)In the close of season two, the signing of the Commonwealth charter was under attack by mysterious alien forces. The disruption caused chaos and the crew had to make sacrifices to deal with the matter. In the third season premiere episode “If the Wheel is Fixed”, the story is concluded. Tyr and Beka were left trapped in another dimension. Dylan frets and considers a way to get them back. He takes the Eureka Maru to reconstruct the events that led to the crew members being sucked into the alternate dimension. He is successful and Tyr and Beka return. Unfortunately, the two are not who they seem to be. Many problems happen on the Andromeda and it eventually turns into a mysterious plot to kill them all–Tyr and Beka are being controlled by a force in the other dimension.Steve Bacic in Andromeda (2000)The unfortunate thing about this episode is the direction the story takes. In the end of season two, the story had a lot of promise with aliens from another dimension attacking. However, in the concluding half of the episode, the story gets pretty hokey. I suppose the aliens from another dimension were not the strongest approach itself, but I liked it in the first part. The subsequent episodes also fail to be as strong as they could. This is not to say they are terrible or anything, but rather that they could have been better. The story arcs that ran through the first two seasons start become less significant. The content is more episodic with the Andromeda crew out on missions that are wrapped up in an episode.Lexa Doig in Andromeda (2000)“The Unconquerable Man” is a pretty solid episode, but one you do not want to think too much about. The storyline is based on time travel and alternate realities. The episode begins with Harper moving Gaheris Rhade’s body and Dylan notices a mark on his hand he had never seen. Then the episode jumps into a point in time when a future Rhade had the opportunity to destroy the time machine Harper built in the season two episode “Ouroboros”. Trance is with Rhade and tries to convince him not to do so. Rhade reflects on his life (an alternate reality of the events thus far). In this reality, Rhade killed Dylan and survived for three hundred years in the black hole. He teamed up with Beka, Rev Bem, Trance, Harper, and Tyr to rebuild the Commonwealth. As the episode unfolds, Rhade comes to realize it is Dylan’s fate and not his. He sacrifices himself so that the original timeline is restored and Dylan is once again put in charge of the Andromeda.Kevin Sorbo, Laura Bertram, Keith Hamilton Cobb, and Lisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)“The Dark Backward” is an exciting episode because it explores Trance’s reality. There is a deadly intruder aboard the ship trying to kill the crew. The episode focuses on Trance and one her of mysterious talents. In past episodes, she has offered advice that could only be explained by foresight of some kind. She has the ability to play out situations in many different scenarios in mere seconds. Trance explores different ways to maximize the crew’s life and stopping the intruder. It is an interesting episode because it details more about how mysterious and special Trance is as a character.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)Another strong episode this season is “What Happens to a Rev Deferred?”, where Rev Bem returns. While monitoring the evacuation of Empyrium, a world that is on the brink of destruction, the crew receives a communication from Rev Bem asking to be rescued. To complicate matters, a group of renegades are after Rev. Dylan and crew go to the planet’s surface to rescue Rev and witness a miracle. Rev under goes some spiritual phenomena when an unknown entity confronts Rev and he professes his sorrow for all his ill-natured acts as a savage Magog. He is given redemption and physical changed into a new being. Rev Bem has been an interesting character, with his struggles to be “civilized” over “savage”, and his ties into the Spirit of the Abyss make him an even more interesting character. It is too bad he is not investigated further.In the season finale “Shadows Cast by a Final Salute”, things take a turn for the worst for the Andromeda crew and the Commonwealth. The assistant minister of war informs Dylan that there is something afoot with the Nietzschean clans in the Commonwealth. There have been rumors going around that they are considering leaving the allied forces and forming their own united front. They are rumors no longer, but fact. Afterwards, Andromeda is put on high alert when an elite strike force of Dragans takes hostages and demands their lives for the bones of Drago Musevini. As the sitatuion unfolds, it becomes evident Tyr’s hand had play in the situation. With his son, the genetic clone of Drago Musevini, he plans to unite his people and save the universe. At the end, Dylan and Tyr bid a final farewell to each other with no promise their next meeting will be peaceful. But the situation was more than just Dylan and Tyr, as a plot to stand against the Commonwealth became an important issue. The Nietzscheans and several other forces joined in a battl against the Commonwealth fleet, which ended with the fall of the Restored Systems Commonwealth.Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)Overall, I was not nearly as impressed with this season as I was with seasons one or two. The episodes were more episodic with Dylan and his crew going on this or that adventure. The overall story arc with the Commonwealth, the Spirit of the Abyss, the Magog, Trance’s past, and others were not addressed as they were in the past seasons. The focus was a lot different. While this is not an awful move (the episodes were still entertaining), it just was not as good. The fortunate news is that the pace picks up again with the season three finale and it puts the entire universe of Andromeda in upheaval

 

REVIEW: DAREDEVIL – SEASON TWO

MAIN CAST

Charlie Cox (Stardust)
Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks)
Elden Henson (The Buttefly Effect)
Jon Bernthal (World Trade Center)
Élodie Yung (Gods of Egypt)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Stephen Rider (Safe House)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Men In Black)

GUEST CAST
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michelle Hurd (Flashforward)
Royce Johnson (Jessica Jones)
Peter McRobbie (Lincoln)
Rob Morgan (Pariah)
Amy Rutberg (The Mansion)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Wai Chang Ho (Robot Stories)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Matt Gerald (Terminator 3)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Daredevil is a character about contrasts. Matt Murdock practices as a lawyer by day, but beats criminals as a vigilante at night. He’s a practicing Catholic, but dresses up like the devil. Also, he’s blind, but he can see the world around him unlike anyone else. Coincidentally, it is the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil that chooses to really explore the dichotomies, not only in its title hero but in those around him and the world at large. Charlie Cox once again stars as the Man without Fear in the series, and brings the same amount of dashing charm and selflessness that makes Matt such a great character. Cox has transcended himself in the role, too. Much like Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man or Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool, there is no separating the actor from the character; they are one. He provides the pivotal anchor for the rest of the cast, who also continue to hit home run after home run. Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson is still the perfect Milhouse to Matt’s Bart, the right combination of endearing, annoying, and funny. A combo that personifies the comic book character to a T, and makes him integral to Matt’s story. Furthermore there’s Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, bringing a lightness to this supremely dark (in tone and lighting) series. Woll and Cox also work off of each other in perhaps the most believable romantic subplot of the MCU. Then there’s Frank Castle.
Jon Bernthal takes on the role of The Punisher for the series, and he brings the goods. This is a character that also has two sides at work, not simply inherent to his actions but in how he is written as a piece of the puzzle. Bernthal can handle the militaristic elements with ease. No one has looked more natural walking down a hall while aiming a shotgun with precision, but when the more sensitive aspects of the character and his background unfold, he’s got it covered. The Punisher is at his most satisfying for an audience as an unstoppable killing machine, always five moves ahead. At his most interesting and nuanced, however, The Punisher is a fatally-flawed and broken individual that is two steps behind. The good news is that you get to have your cake and eat it too. When Bernthal isn’t laying waste to criminals, he’s tasked with delivering Shakespearean monologues, which he hits like a headshot.
The second season of Daredevil also brings along Elodie Yung as Elektra Natchios, the perfect wrench for everything Matt Murdock. Though The Punisher may be at his most satisfying when he’s a human hurricane leaving a path of destruction, Matt Murdock is at his most satisfying when literally everything is going wrong for him, and Elektra is a guarantee for that. Yung embodies the spirit of Elektra that shines a light on the character’s personality in exciting ways. She brings duel ferocity and gentleness that made me recognize something I had never thought before – Elektra is like a cat; Playful when it suits her, but mysterious and often a supreme and bitter jerk when she doesn’t get her way. The same way that Charlie Cox and Deborah Ann Woll hold onto everything wholesome and good about love, Cox and Yung grab all of the dangerous and potentially hurtful parts and hang them out the window while speeding down the highway.
The true achievement of Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2 is not how in how it escalates the stakes from Season 1 or how it manages to properly juggle new and returning characters with satisfying arcs, it’s in its narrative composition as a whole. Season 2 is perhaps the most comic book-like series on TV, because it mirrors the structure of comics in a way that ceases to feel like television. While the first season held onto the framework of serialized TV, guiding us through every turn, Season 2 takes the graphic novel approach. Clusters of episodes form their own cohesive arc for a few hours, but when all combined they form the grander story at hand of the season. And that larger story? A further example of the two dividends of Daredevil. Daytime Matt and nighttime Matt get equal footing, which you need in order to make them both special.
As hard as it may be to believe, Daredevil‘s second season is a step up from the first. By embracing the comic book form, the series has further separated itself from the rest of the MCU and scratches an itch none of them can reach. It’s not all perfect though, as what worked the first time keeps working, and what didn’t work remains a drag, specifically the tired exposition wherein characters must explain to other characters the things the audience already knows. The drama screeches to a halt in these moments, but luckily they are few and far between.
If you were as enthusiastic about the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil, I hope you’re as pleased as I am with the new episodes. There’s an intensity and toughness in the storytelling that gets at the heart of the character and provides further proof why Daredevil is the one of the best heroes in comics. The new additions to the series are welcome and only enhance the storytelling in thrilling ways.

REVIEW: WAR

CAST
Jet Li (The Mummy 3)
Jason Statham (Spy)
John Lone (The Shadow)
Devon Aoki (Sin City)
Luis Guzmán (Traffic)
Saul Rubinek (Memory Run)
Ryo Ishibashi (The Grudge)
Sung Kang (Fast & Furious)
Nadine Velazquez (My Name Is Earl)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)
Kane Kosugi (Ninja Sentai Kakuranger)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Kenneth Choi (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Aaron Pearl (Stargate SG.1)
During a shootout against Chinese Triads at a San Francisco dock warehouse, FBI agents John Crawford (Jason Statham) and Tom Lone (Terry Chen) stumble across the notorious assassin Rogue (Jet Li), a former CIA assassin who now works for the Japanese Yakuza. Rogue ambushes Crawford and is about to execute him when Lone appears and shoots Rogue in the face, causing him to fall into the water. Rogue’s body was never found and he is presumed dead. However, Rogue survives and retaliates against Lone, his wife and his daughter. He kills them, burns down the house, and leaves their three corpses in the ashes of their home.
Three years later, Rogue re-appears, working under Chinese Triad boss Li Chang (John Lone). Rogue is assisting Chang against Chang’s arch-enemy and Rogue’s former employer, the leader of the Japanese Yakuza, Shiro Yanagawa (Ryo Ishibashi). Rogue first attacks a club run by the Yakuza by killing the gangsters and later on the runners in order to recover a pair of antique gold horses, family heirlooms of Chang. However, Rogue is secretly setting the Yakuza and the Triads against each other, in order to push the two factions toward all-out war.
Now the head agent of the FBI’s Asian Crime Task Force, Crawford is determined to hunt Rogue down and exact revenge for Lone’s death. Crawford’s obsessive pursuit of Rogue has taken a toll on his personal life causing him to be estranged from his family. Crawford comes close to catching Rogue in the wake of Rogue’s various killing sprees against the Triads and Yakuza, but Rogue always manages to stay one step ahead.
Ultimately, Rogue’s actions have gained the trust of both Chang and Yanagawa. Rogue succeeds in betraying Chang, but spares Chang’s wife and child, turning on the Yakuza. With Chang dead, Yanagawa is finally ready to come to America, where he intends to take over and expand Yakuza business operations. However, he is confronted by Crawford and the FBI; Crawford presents Yanagawa with proof that Rogue has betrayed him and spared Chang’s family, but Yanagawa refuses to assist Crawford in locating Rogue.
Later, Rogue delivers the horses to Yanagawa personally. Knowing of Rogue’s betrayal, Yanagawa captures Rogue and demands the location of Chang’s family. Rogue turns the tables on Yanagawa’s men and kills them all, and engages in a sword fight against Yanagawa himself. Yanagawa discovers that Rogue is actually FBI agent Tom Lone (who, after undergoing plastic surgery, changed his voice to obtain a Japanese accent); and killed the real Rogue, assuming the assassin’s identity. Rogue/Lone reveals that his actions have all been designed to bring him face-to-face with Yanagawa, so he could kill the man who ordered the death of his family. Yanagawa reveals that Crawford was in his pocket that whole time and responsible for leaking Tom Lone’s identity and home address to the real Rogue. Angered, Rogue/Lone disarms and decapitates Yanagawa.
Meanwhile, Chang’s wife receives a package from Rogue/Lone, containing one of the two golden horses that belongs to Chang’s family and a message reading, “Make a new life”. Yanagawa’s daughter also receives a package with the same message and inside the box is her father’s head. Rogue/Lone then calls Crawford as he is packing up his office, asking him to meet him at the dock warehouse where they last made their investigation. Before going to the warehouse, Crawford enlists the help of Goi (Sung Kang), an FBI sniper that aided Crawford throughout the investigation. At the warehouse, Crawford and Rogue/Lone battle each other in an intense hand-to-hand fight in which Rogue/Lone reveals who he really is to Crawford. When Rogue/Lone reveals his true identity, a devastated Crawford reveals that it was true that he was working for Yanagawa at the time but had no idea that Rogue was still alive. He was then blackmailed and gave Yanagawa Lone’s address thinking that Yanagawa’s men were only going there to “rough him up a bit”. Ever since, Crawford was angry at himself and wanted revenge against Rogue and everyone else involved in what he thought was his partner’s death.
However, Crawford begs Lone for forgiveness, but Lone denies him, coldly replying “Tom Lone is dead, my name is Rogue”. As Rogue takes out a gun to shoot Crawford, Goi takes aim at him. Crawford jumps in Goi’s line of fire, and allowing Rogue the opportunity to shoot him in the back, killing him. The next day, Rogue/Lone later drives out of town to start a new life.
Very good movie overall and I would definitely recommend it for those who are and aren’t familiar with past roles of Statham and Li.