REVIEW: THE LOFT

CAST

Karl Urban (Dredd)
James Marsden (Westworld)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Matthias Schoenaerts (The Drop)
Isabel Lucas (Red Dawn)
Rachael taylor (Jessica Jones)
Rhona Mitra (Nip/Tuck)
Kali Rocha (Buried)
Kristin Lehman (Andromeda)
Elaine Cassidy (The Others)
Margarita Levieva (Spread)

Five married men share ownership of an upmarket loft, which they use to discreetly meet their respective mistresses. When the body of a murdered woman is found in that loft, the men begin to suspect each other of having committed the gruesome crime, as they are the only ones with keys to the premises. Through flashbacks, which are intertwined with scenes from the present, the story is unraveled.

The five men are:1.Vincent Stevens (Karl Urban): architect and designer of the building where the loft is situated; married to Barbara (Valerie Cruz) and has children; the one who initially suggests the five use the loft as a private oasis, he is set up by the other men to be accused of the murder.2.Luke Seacord (Wentworth Miller): married to Ellie (Elaine Cassidy), who is an insulin-dependent diabetic; the one who discovered the body and initially calls Vincent and the others over to the loft. The police later insinuate that he is attracted to Vincent. He also recorded the men’s activities in the loft without them knowing.3.Dr. Chris Vanowen (James Marsden): a psychiatrist married to Allison (Rhona Mitra), half-brother to Philip. Chris and Philip have a half-sister, Zoe (Madison Burge). The most reluctant of the men to the idea and the last to accept a key to the loft, Chris eventually does so because he is attracted to Ann (Rachael Taylor), who eventually becomes his mistress. She tells Chris not to fall in love with her because she is a prostitute. He gives her his key as proof he does not use the loft with other women.4.Marty Landry (Eric Stonestreet): married to Mimi (Kali Rocha); a heavy drinker and an obvious lech. He and Mimi become separated when a woman he fooled around with shows up at his home.5.Philip Williams (Matthias Schoenaerts): half-brother to Chris as they have the same mother; recently married to Vicky (Margarita Levieva), who is the only daughter of a wealthy property developer, who is also his boss. He is a drug user who grew up in a dysfunctional household with his abusive father; very protective of his younger sister Zoe, and warns the other men off having sex with her.The murder victim is Sarah Deakins (Isabel Lucas): Vincent, Luke, and Marty met her at a bar; both Vincent and Luke are attracted to her, but she hooks up with Vincent and becomes attached to him. At a party they are both attending, Sarah threatened to tell Vincent’s wife about the affair as a way to have them break up, but she is dissuaded from this by Luke. She seemingly tries to commit suicide at the loft, by taking pills with champagne. She is discovered by Luke, who calls Chris, Marty and Philip, showing them a note to Vincent. The note read “See you in the next life”; this note is taken from the loft by Chris.The men were motivated to set Vincent up by Luke, who showed them DVDs of Vincent having sex with Marty’s wife, Mimi; Chris’s prostitute, Ann (who Vincent had paid to allow Chris to seduce her, so that he would take a key to and use the loft), and Zoe, Philip and Chris’s younger sister. Three of the men leave to set up their alibis, with Philip remaining at the loft to stage the scene. He takes some cocaine and cuts Sarah’s wrists, using her bloodied finger to write a Latin phrase similar to that in her suicide note. He then handcuffs Sarah’s right hand to the bed.Over the course of the movie, as the five men discuss what to do with the body, Luke, Chris, Marty, and Philip drug Vincent, strip and handcuff him to the body on the bed. Before Vincent passes out completely, Chris tells him about Sarah’s suicide and the contents of her note. While being questioned by the police, Vincent tells them of the set-up, but they do not believe him as the only prints found were Vincent’s and Sarah’s. They also have the DVDs of his sexual exploits, except the ones with Mimi, Ann, and Zoe; they won’t believe him that Luke made the videos and the DVDs of the other men were not found. The police also mention that all four men have alibis for that morning — Chris and Luke were seen together having breakfast, Marty was at his office, Philip was alibied by his father-in-law (who was blackmailed with information about his own cheating, information Philip had because he knew Vincent used that same information to blackmail his father-in-law to give him a contract on a project).Releasing Chris from interrogation, Detective Huggins (Kristin Lehman) tells him that Vincent has been arrested for murder; he is surprised as he thought Vincent would only be implicated in Sarah’s suicide. The detective further states that the pills did not kill Sarah, that her wrist cuts were not self-inflicted, the prints on the knife were Vincent’s and they didn’t find a suicide note. The surprised Chris thanks Huggins and leaves. Outside of the police station, he reaches into his jacket pocket, only to find that the suicide note Luke gave to him is gone. He then walks to the loft and confronts Luke about the missing note. After initially denying that he had it, Luke leads Chris to the note, which was in the garbage. Chris looks at the note and wonders why Luke would get rid of the only evidence of the attempted suicide, speculating that Luke, not Sarah, was the author of the note. Luke then tells Chris everything; he framed Vincent, because he was attracted to Sarah himself, and felt that Vincent stood between him and Sarah.We see that Luke had gone after Sarah the night she almost told Vincent’s wife about the affair. He told her that Vincent was using her and not worth it, and that he could treat her better. She rebuffs him, saying she felt nothing for Luke. Hurt, Luke turns around to find that his wife saw him talking to Sarah. When Sarah returned to visit Vincent at the loft, Luke showed up and drugged Sarah, trying to kill her — out of “love” — with an insulin overdose. He then staged the suicide with the pills, champagne bottle, and suicide note. Chris then tells him that Vincent is being charged with murder as Sarah hadn’t been dead when they left her with Philip. Luke then states that technically it was Philip who killed Sarah and that he will clean the situation up. When Chris says no more cleaning up, Luke pulls out a kitchen knife and threatens him. Sirens can be heard and Chris says he called the police, told them everything and that it is over. He and Luke struggle, and he gets the knife from Luke. Luke tells Chris to tell Ellie and their kids that he’s sorry; he then jumps from the loft’s balcony, killing himself.Six months later, Mimi and Marty are reconciled, Philip is facing trial for manslaughter, and Chris is divorced, sharing custody of his kids. He runs into Ann after leaving a bar, and she asks if he needs the loft key, that he had given her for them to meet up. Chris mentions the key would not work as Vincent now lives at the loft, since it was the only thing his wife left him with from their divorce. Ann asks if Chris would like to join her for a drink sometime.The Loft is a fun watch – nothing more, nothing less. It achieves exactly what it sets out to. The 5 lead actors were all pretty solid and gave credible performances.

 

REVIEW: SEE NO EVIL

 

CAST

Kane (MacGruber)
Christina Vidal (Limitless TV)
Samantha Noble (Gabriel)
Luke Pegler (Fool’s Gold)
Michael J. Pagan (Chain Letter)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)

Officer Frank Williams (Steven Vidler) and his partner Blaine investigate an abandoned house, where they find a young woman with her eyes ripped out. A large figure with an axe then murders Blaine and Frank has his arm chopped off before he is able to shoot the attacker in the head. Afterwards, detectives find seven bodies in the house, all of which have had their eyes ripped out.Four years later, Frank and his partner Hannah take a group of delinquents – Christine (Christina Vidal), Kira (Samantha Noble), Michael (Luke Pegler), Tyson (Michael J. Pagan), Zoe (Rachel Taylor), Melissa (Penny McNamee), Richie (Craig Horner), and Russell (Mikhael Wilder) to clean up the abandoned Blackwell Hotel in order to turn it into a homeless shelter, as explained by the owner Margaret (Cecily Polson). That night, while Michael, Zoe, Russell, and Melissa go upstairs to the penthouse, Tyson and Richie decide to look for the previous owner’s safe, and find what appears to be the body of a recently deceased man. Richie panics and runs off, only to be dragged into an elevator with a hook by Jacob Goodnight (Kane). When Margaret mentions the elevator is being used, Hannah goes to check on the group, but is killed in the elevator. Christine tries to help Kira escape the hotel, but Jacob attacks Kira with his hook and drags her into a dumbwaiter. Christine and Frank go upstairs to find the others, and run into Tyson who tells them what happened to Richie. Frank realizes it must be Jacob and is then pulled into the ceiling by the hook and killed.Kira is held hostage by Jacob because of her religious tattoos, and is kept captive in a cage where she witnesses Richie having his eyes torn out. Melissa and Russell go off into a room on their own, but are chased by Jacob. Russell tries to lower Melissa out of a window, but he is killed by Jacob. Then, Jacob drops Melissa out the window. However, she survives her fall, but then she is killed by a pack of stray dogs. Jacob then attacks Michael and Zoe. Zoe nearly escapes from Jacob but her cell phone rings, alerting Jacob to her location. He subsequently kills her by forcing the cell phone down her throat. Michael finds Christine and Tyson as they try to rescue Kira, but they are attacked again by Jacob, who knocks out Michael while the other two escape up the elevator shaft.The pair find Kira but are interrupted by Jacob before they can release her. Tyson creates a distraction but is electrocuted with his own taser and crushed with the bank vault. Margaret then shows up, and reveals herself as Jacob’s mother, who lured Frank back to the hotel to get revenge on him for shooting her son, and explains the prisoners are merely a “bonus”. Margaret attempts to shoot Kira, but Jacob intervenes and throws her headfirst into a nail on the wall. Michael reappears to help the girls battle Jacob, and the trio is eventually able to stab him through the eye with a pipe and throw him out of a window, where his heart is impaled by a shard of glass, apparently killing him.

If you’re looking for deep story or characters, this ain’t it. But that’s not what slasher films are about. If you’re looking for some good violence, or if you’re into gory films, go check this out!

REVIEW: JESSICA JONES – SEASON 3

Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)

Starring

Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad)
Rachael Taylor (transformers)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers)
Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix)
Jeremy Bobb (The Knick)
Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Sarita Choudhury (A Hologram For A
Tiffany Mack (Hap and Leonard)

Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Rebecca De Mornay (Mother’s Day)
Aneesh Sheth (New Amsterdam)
Mike Colter (Luke Cage)
J. R. Ramirez (Arrow)
David Tennant (Mary Queen of Scots)

The Netflix Marvel Universe, starting last year with yellow-belt step-child Iron Fist and continuing on to the cancellations of Luke Cage, Daredevil, and The Punisher. Unfortunately, the bummer that comes with an ending does hang over Jessica Jones‘ third chapter, but in an oddly fortuitous way that dour tone actually works. This season—which was set to be showrunner Melissa Rosenberg‘s final season anyway—is a dark story, probably the least comic book-y of Netflix’s already grounded and gritty pocket of the MCU. It doesn’t always work and does suffer from the same pacing issues that have plagued, well, pretty much all of these shows. But when it hits, it hits just like its main heroine; violent, flawed, and willing to go where her more moral superhuman peers wouldn’t dare.Rachael Taylor in Jessica Jones (2015)Season 3 opens with its two leading ladies at a crossroads. Jessica is doing her darndest to get her act together and, overall, just be less of an asshole and more of a functioning private investigation. But Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) has dived into the life of a fledgling vigilante after Dr. Karl Malus’ season 2 experiments gave her special abilities. (She’s not quite rocking her Hellcat get-up from the comics, but there are some very clever touches of yellow and purple along with some cats-eye sunglasses courtesy of costume designer Elisabeth Vastola). Jessica and Trish are estranged, but a chance encounter turned violent with a superpowered man named Erik (Benjamin Walker) leads Jessica to the case of serial killer Gregory Salinger (Jeremy Bobb). Salinger, who is absolutely bananagrams out of his goddamn mind, soon makes things very, very personal with Jessica, Erik, and Trish.Benjamin Walker and Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)Ritter is still pretty much pitch-perfect in the title role, one of the best casting jobs in the current comic book era. But the nature of Jessica Jones as a character so reluctant to get in on the action means the quality of her stories is almost defined by the strength of her villain. Season 1 was sensational in large part thanks to David Tennant‘s Kilgrave, with the actor’s charisma drawing you to the character—much like everyone was supernaturally drawn to the character—even as the script revealed him as an irredeemable monster. In comparison, season 2 developed into a bit of a slog Jessica’s team-up with her mass murderer mother Alisa (Janet McTeer) turned the back-half of the story into a largely antagonist-less road trip to nowhere.Jessica Jones (2015)Luckily, season 3’s serial killer Salinger flips the switch by completely stripping away the pretense of a supervillain. He might by Jessica’s most dynamic villain because of how terrifyingly un-dynamic he is. In the comics, Salinger is the second person to take on the title of Foolkiller, a brilliant murderer with a penchant for killing anyone he deems, well, a fool. But Rosenberg and the writing staff have tweaked that background into an extremely recognizable 2019 threat; here, Salinger is basically an internet troll, a man with an inflated sense of ego and rage built from the fact that he’s painfully ordinary. He’s Hannibal Lecter chewing on redpills instead of fava beans. He’s Ted Bundy with a Reddit account and egg-avatar Twitter page. He’s an incel but for having superpowers instead of sex—I guess that would make him an “inhuman”—who hates vigilantes for gaining abilities they didn’t “earn.” At one point, he points the spotlight back on to Jessica by playing the victim. “Perhaps I’m an easy target,” he tells news cameras, “a single white male, and she’s this feminist vindicator.”Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)It all gets borderline on-the-nose, but honestly “on the nose” works when you’re dealing with a character who deserves to get whacked in the fucking face this hard. Bobb—who also impressed earlier this year in another Netflix series, Russian Doll—makes a chilling meal of the role. He does great psychopath, with an ability to say menacing lines with absolutely nothing going on behind the eyes. This story isn’t exactly adding anything new to the serial killer genre—we’re talking chopped up body parts, creepy photo sessions, even a very Red Dragon-esque “Do you see?“—but it is playing with the tropes at a high-quality level.Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)It’s an intensely satisfying story when it’s laser-focused on that simple premise, a cat-and-mouse noir tale peppered with the personal dynamic between Jessica and Trish. (A world-weary Jessica trying to rein in an increasingly-enthusiastic Trish results in some of the best quiet work between Ritter and Taylor over all three seasons.) Unfortunately—and this has been the bugaboo for pretty much every Netflix MCU show, other than perhaps the near-perfect Daredevil season 3—it’s such a tight story that it can’t pad out the episode count. I’ve seen eight episodes and the story doesn’t quite click into place until episode 3 or 4. There’s a lot of gear-spinning in those first few episodes; a slew of legal subplots do come into play later, but early on they feel like they’re just giving massive talents like Carrie-Ann Moss and Eka Darville something to do while everyone gets into place. And even then, there are a few wonky leaps that seem a bit first draft-y; a sequence later on that more or less amounts to Jessica and Salinger sending threatening Snapchats back and forth definitely played more menacing on the page than it does on-screen.Benjamin Walker and Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)But still, as an ending, not only to a series but an entire universe, Jessica Jones season 3 feels right in its low-keyness. A significant part of that is down to the fact it doesn’t feel like an ending at all. (Not surprising, considering the fact production was well underway before Netflix started canceling these shows.) It’s not an epic culmination on the level of, say, Avengers: Endgame, but these street-level heroes were never about the bombast, anyway. Jessica Jones season 3 isn’t exactly going out with a bang, but it is bright enough to illuminate the darkest corners of the MCU just one more time.

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS (2007)

 

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Megan Fox (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Josh Duhamel (Paradise Lost)
Anthony Anderson (Kangaroo Jack)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)
John Turturro (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Jon Voight (Pearl Harbor)
Michael O’Neill (Bates Motel)
Kevin Dunn (Samantha Who?)
Julie White (Lincoln)
Amaury Nolasco (The Rum Diary)
Zack Ward (Bloodrayne 2)
W. Morgan Sheppard (Star Trek)
Bernie Mac (Bad Santa)
Travis Van Winkle (Friday The 13th)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons & Dragons)
Mark Ryan (Robin of Sherwood)
Darius McCrary (Anger Management)
Robert Foxworth (Beyond The Stars)
Jess Harnell (Little Nicky)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Charlie Adler (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Samantha Smith (Supernatural)
Tom Lenk (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Odette Annable (Supergirl)
Colton Haynes (Arrow)

Tom Everett (XXX)
Rizwan Manji (The Dictator))

Several thousand years ago, the planet Cybertron was consumed by a civil war between the two Transformer factions, the Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the Decepticons led by Megatron. Optimus jettisoned the AllSpark, a mystical artifact that brings life to the planet, into space, but Megatron pursued it. Megatron crashed in the Arctic Circle and froze, and was discovered in 1895 by explorer Archibald Witwicky. Witwicky inadvertently activated Megatron’s navigational system, which etched the AllSpark’s coordinates into his glasses. The glasses end up in the possession of his great-great-grandson Sam Witwicky. In the present, Sam buys his first car, a rusting Chevrolet Camaro, but discovers it has a life of its own.In modern Qatar, Blackout attacks and destroys a United States military base in a failed attempt to hack the military network to find information on Megatron and the AllSpark. A team of Army Rangers led by Captain William Lennox escape across the desert, pursued by Blackout’s drone Scorponok. They fight Scorponok off, aided by aerial reinforcements, and travel home with Scorponok’s stinger, discovering sabot rounds damaged its armor. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense John Keller leads the investigation into the attack. Sound analyst Maggie Madsen catches another Decepticon, Frenzy, hacking into the U.S. military network while onboard Air Force One. While the hack is thwarted, Frenzy downloads files on Archibald’s glasses, tracking down Sam with Barricade, disguised as a police car.Sam and his high school crush Mikaela Banes are rescued from Barricade and Frenzy by the Camaro who turns out to be Autobot scout Bumblebee, but he is mute and has to communicate through his car radio. Previously sending a beacon to his fellow Autobots, Bumblebee takes Sam and Mikaela to meet the new arrivals – Optimus, Jazz, Ironhide, and Ratchet. Optimus explains the details of their situation, revealing that if Megatron gained the AllSpark he would transform Earth’s machinery into a new army and exterminate mankind. Sam, Mikaela, and the Autobots travel to Sam’s house to retrieve the glasses, but the teenagers are captured by agents of Sector Seven, a top secret government branch, led by Seymour Simmons. The Autobots stop the agents, but they call for backup, who take Sam, Mikaela, and Bumblebee into custody, while Optimus obtains the glasses, and uses them to locate the Allspark.The respective groups connected to the Transformers are gathered together at Hoover Dam by Sector Seven’s director Tom Banachek, who reveals Megatron, still frozen, and the AllSpark. Frenzy, who smuggled away in Mikaela’s bag, summons the other Decepticons to attack and sabotages Megatron’s cryonic system. Bumblebee is released to protect the AllSpark, shrinking it down to a handheld size so it can be transported to safety. Megatron escapes the dam after thawing out. Frenzy attacks Secretary Keller, Madsen and Agent Simmons in the Dam’s radio room, trying to prevent them from summoning the Air Force, but is decapitated by his own ricocheting shuriken.A lengthy battle occurs in Mission City, with most of the Decepticons being killed, but Megatron murders Jazz. He prevents Sam’s attempted escape with the AllSpark, and begins to fight Optimus. After a long brawl Megatron seems to get the upper hand. Optimus then tells Sam to push the cube into his chest in order to ensure their mutual destruction, but Sam rams it into Megatron’s chest instead, extinguishing his spark. Starscream and Barricade are the only Decepticons to survive the battle and escape.Optimus salvages a shard of the AllSpark from Megatron’s body. The United States government shuts down Sector Seven, disposing of the dead Decepticons in the Laurentian Abyss. Sam and Mikaela then start a relationship while the Autobots secretly hide out on Earth, Optimus sends a transmission into space inviting any surviving Autobots to join them. A brief mid-credits scene shows Starscream escaping into space to rally other Decepticons and summon them to Earth.Granted, these aren’t your granddaddy’s Transformers. Souped up to resemble high-tech living robots while fighting and the latest in automobile trends in car form, Bay and the producers have mucked around considerably with the look of the Autobots and Decepticons, putting the infamous flames on Optimus Prime and turning Megatron into an alien jet. Supporters of the all-holy “G1” have every right to scoff, but “Transformers” has a wonderful way of making these ludicrous alterations fit into the bigger, slicker picture, pressing down hard on the extra-terrestrial angle of our visitors. It’s only a matter of moments before you buy these reinvented incarnations of popular characters and another few seconds before you start to root for their victory and defeat. Running at 140 minutes, Transformers never runs out of juice.

REVIEW: JESSICA JONES – SEASON 2

JessicaJonesS2_Horizontal-KeyArt_US-1-600x256

MAIN CAST

Krysten Ritter (Veronica Mars)
Rachael Taylor (Transformers)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers RPM)
J.R. Ramirez (Arrow)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Leah Gibson (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix)
Janet McTeer (The White Queen)
Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica)

Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Hal Ozsan (Redline)
Maury Ginsberg (Two Guys and a Girl)
Angel Desai (Black Knight)
Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business)
Elden Henson (Daredevil)
Wil Traval (Once Upon a Time)
David Tennant (Doctor Who)
John Ventimiglia (The Sopranos)
Lisa Tharps (Law & Order: SUV)
Rob Morgan (Daredevil)

The first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was a kind of miracle, combining a taut and entertaining superhero narrative with one of the most nuanced explorations of domestic abuse and sexual violence ever put on screen. Krysten Ritter’s prickly, guarded, hard-drinking Jessica is a female superhero with unique significance. Her very existence—a woman with literal super-strength who still fell prey to a male predator—skewers accepted narratives about victimhood, while her determined independence cuts through expectations of how women are “supposed” to act after assault.Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)Ritter’s performance in the second season is a few degrees more emotional, as Jessica—prompted by her best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor)—finally begins to set in the trauma of her past. That trauma encapsulates not only Kilgrave’s abuse, but the car accident that killed her family and landed her in a hospital where mysterious, horrific, superpower-inducing experiments were conducted on her. And she’s not sad or scared about what was done to her; she’s furious. In an anger management support group she reluctantly attends, participants bounce a ball against the wall to relieve stress while they share their stories. Jessica bounces it so hard she smashes a hole in the wall, before confirming: “Still angry.” Female anger is often stigmatized; women put on a calm face for fear of being labelled crazy or hysterical or a bitch. To see it expressed so openly and so often in a Netflix comic-book adaptation feels faintly revolutionary.Rachael Taylor and Eka Darville in Jessica Jones (2015)That’s also true of the new season’s handling of Jessica’s sex life. When a midtown douche notices Jessica in a bar and leers—“Nice ass”—she wheels around and snaps, “What did you say?” Surely she’s about to kick his ass, you think. Smash-cut to: Jessica having joyless sex with this loser in a bathroom stall, her face a mask, her detachment painfully clear. It’s a stark contrast to her passionate clinches last season with Luke Cage (Mike Colter), which served to show that being raped did not define her. Then, sex was a way in which she reclaimed her body and her selfhood; now, it’s a way for her to dissociate. This coping mechanism is explored in greater depth following the introduction of her new love interest Oscar (JR Ramirez), a big-hearted family man who’s bewildered by Jessica’s resistance to intimacy.Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)The plot thread driving the new season is Jessica and Trish trying to uncover the truth about 20 missing days from Jessica’s past: 20 days during which she went into hospital almost dead, and emerged with superpowers. Though she has total amnesia about this time, it gradually becomes clear that her origin story is similar to that of this season’s Big Bad (played by Janet McTeer), a mysterious, preternaturally strong young woman who was subjected to the same experiments as Jessica, and came out a “monster.” The presence of a super-powered villain terrorizing New York yet again only heightens the public backlash against “supers,” although the bigotry faced by Jessica and others like her is the one place where the show’s allegories feel clumsy, particularly in a scene where someone pointedly refers to “you people.”While the new season—at least for its first five episodes—lacks a threat as propulsive and engaging as Kilgrave, its ensemble also feels better served. Carrie Anne Moss’s steely, high-powered lawyer Jeri Hogarth, by now a mainstay of the Marvel TV universe, is propelled in a rich, moving new direction by some unexpectedly brutal news. And Trish’s history as a child star takes on new complexity when she’s forced by necessity to seek out a producer who assaulted her when she was a teenager. The moment in which Jessica confronts this particular creep, and denounces “pricks like you who think you can take whatever, or whoever, you want” would have been a thrill no matter the context, but in this Time’s Up moment in Hollywood it’s a particularly cathartic standout. As a female superhero whose anger makes her powerful, and whose trauma has no impact on her strength, Jessica Jones has never felt more essential.

REVIEW: THE DEFENDERS

CAST

Charlie Cox (Stardust)
Krysten Ritter (Veronica Mars)
Mike Colter (Zero Dark thirty)
Finn Jones (Game of Thrones)
Élodie Yung (Gods of Egypt)
Sigourney Weaver (Avatar)
Rachael Taylor (The Loft)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers RPM)
Elden Henson (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks)
Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones)
Ramón Rodríguez (The Taking of Pelham 123)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Simone Missick (K-Town)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Wai Ching Ho (Cadillac Man)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Chuck)
Peter McRobbie (16 Blocks)
Rob Morgan (Stranger Things)
Marko Zaror (Machete Kills)
Amy Rutberg (NCIS: New Orleans)

 

The Defenders is Marvel’s best Netflix show, hands down.  While the crossover between Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage can occasionally veer into a fragmented set of mini-episodes early on, the awesome foursome eventually unites to form a show greater than the sum of its parts. The street-level superheroes provide a fantastic eight-episode run with high stakes, a frenzied pace and, most importantly, effortless chemistry.Things don’t start off that way, though. The opening pair of episodes read almost as a greatest hits collection of each hero’s respective shows before the narrative eventually relents and shoehorns the plot in a comically convenient way for the four to come together. The lack of instant gratification can be grating, but this is easily relieved by the fun interaction between fan-favourites that leads up to the team-up. Misty Knight and Jessica Jones’ brief scenes are worth the price of admission alone and there are a few, shall we say interesting, crossovers you won’t see coming. Without giving too much away, a cataclysmic event is unleashed upon New York and The Defenders, each following their own leads, stumble into each other’s paths in the same building. And then things get good. Really, really good. Unsurprisingly, The Hand are the villains of the season and are led by Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra. Her performance is tempered by an unidentified terminal illness which spurs her character on and at least drives her away from the realms of cartoonish MCU villain as  she has an actual character arc rather than the bland go there, be evil trope of prior bad guys. When the show does focus on The Defenders (and, in fairness, that’s 90% of the time) the show is a rollercoaster of wisecracks, quips and, yup, Jessica Jones’ side-eye. It’s glorious fun and, for my money, feels like a much bigger event than The Avengers ever was. There’s a spine-tingling moment, complete with an inspirational score bubbling up in the background, where the four heroes unite to take on a foe at the midway point which ranks as an all-time great Marvel moment.Yes, The Defenders run is short, but those thinking a mere eight episodes won’t cut it can have their fears put to rest. Coupled with Game of Thrones season 7’s clipped seven-episode run, it feels like we’re reaching a watershed point in television where shows don’t need to be chained to a long episode run anymore. Barely a second is wasted in The Defenders: Every quiet character moment is poignant and fleshes out something or someone; every action sequence leads to something bigger, better, and more shocking; and every one-liner and on-the-nose dig at Iron Fist will make you laugh. Nothing outstays its welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: ARQ

CAST

Robbie Amell (The Flash)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)
Shaun Benson (K-19)
Gray Powell (Hollywoodland)
Jacob Neayem (Regression)
Adam Butcher (Played)
Tantoo Cardinal (Black Robe)

Renton wakes up beside his former lover, Hannah. Three men break into his bedroom and take him hostage. Renton breaks his neck while escaping and wakes with a start, only for the men to break in once again. He and Hannah are taken to another room and bound to chairs. The leader of the group introduces himself as Father, identifying the others as Sonny and Brother; Cuz died of electrocution after touching a large device, the ARQ, in the room. Father says he represents a rebel group known as the Bloc and demands Renton surrender money, or “scrips”, from their rival organization, the Torus Corporation. He gives them several minutes to comply and leaves the room with the others to get food.Renton explains to Hannah the ARQ is a working perpetual motion machine he designed at Torus. After Torus shut down the project as an impossibility, he stole it. Renton believes the Bloc members to be after the ARQ rather than the scrips, though Hannah urges him to comply with their demands. After freeing himself and Hannah, he is killed while trying to escape. Renton wakes up gasping, only to relive the same scenario. This time, after freeing himself, he asks Hannah to help poison the intruders with cyanide gas. This fails when Hannah reveals herself as allied with them. Renton surrenders the scrips, only to be killed again after Sonny shoots him.After reviving, Renton questions Hannah about her past. She says she grew to resent Renton after he abandoned her to Torus, who tortured her. Renton says he never gave up looking for her after he escaped. Though he does not trust Hannah, Renton frees her. They work out a deal where they will split the scrips after using the cyanide gas to force Father and his group to stand down. Renton reneges on the deal, demanding that Hannah abandon the Bloc and come with him. She refuses and accidentally shoots Renton during a scuffle. Renton and Hannah wake in bed; this time, both recall the events. When Renton says the ARQ is causing a time loop, Hannah insists he give the technology to the Bloc. Eventually, Sonny reveals himself as a Torus mercenary and kills everyone.145458_5409_feat-770x433When they wake, Renton and Hannah agree they must keep the ARQ from Torus, though Renton expresses distrust in the Bloc. They convince Father to help them, but Sonny shoots Father and knocks Brother unconscious. After killing Sonny, Renton applies first aid to Father. He dies after Brother shoots him, not realizing Sonny is responsible. The next iteration, Sonny becomes aware of the time loop and immediately kills Father and Brother. Renton theorizes the ARQ is looping the same three-hour period due to running out of energy. Instead of producing unlimited energy, its fuel cells are refilled after every loop. When Sonny overpowers them, Renton sacrifices himself to prevent Sonny from acquiring the ARQ.1473859680893

In the next iteration, Sonny saves Cuz’s life, then kills Father and Brother. Renton and Hannah poison Sonny and Cuz with the cyanide. Before dying, Sonny uses the pool of blood from every other corpse (including Cuz, whom he kills) to set up a trap. After arguing not to destroy the machine, Hannah is electrocuted when she accidentally steps on Sonny’s trap. Renton briefly considers destroying the ARQ but allows the next iteration to begin. He admits he was wrong and offers the ARQ to the Bloc. Father, who is now aware of the time loop, and Brother agree to work with Hannah and Renton; however, Sonny and Cuz take all hostage. After Sonny forces Renton to disable the machine, Father and Brother die in the confusion of a blackout. Renton and Hannah briefly escape but return once they realize the time loop is localized to the house. After they kill Cuz, revealed to be a torturer for Torus, Sonny restarts the ARQ, only to be killed. An interrupted video message and the ARQ’s logs reveal a second, outer time loop: every nine time loops form their own loop in which their memories are reset. Unknowingly, they have repeated the same nine loops thousands of times. Realizing they are on their ninth loop, Renton and Hannah leave a desperate message to themselves, hoping future iterations can get the ARQ to the Bloc before Torus’ reinforcements arrive. After a robot breaks through and kills them, Hannah wakes with a gasp.bountykiller01

The movie questions multiple aspects of time travel in a fresh but familiar way, while developing strong characters. It is one of those movies that keeps you thinking after you’ve finished watching it.