REVIEW: STARGATE: ATLANTIS – SEASON 1-5

Image result for STARGATE ATLANTIS LOGO

MAIN CAST

Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Torri Higginson (Highlander: THe Raven)
Rachel Luttrell (Arrow)
Rainbow Sun Francks (Defiance0
David Hewlett (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones)
Paul McGillion (V)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Dean Anderson (Macgyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Garwin Sanford (The Fly 2)
Andee Frizzell (Andromeda)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Ben Cotton (30 Days of Night: Dark Days)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Courtenay J. Stevens (Ripper)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Callum Worthy (Samllville)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
Dean Marshall (2012)
Colm Meaney (Star Trek:DS9)
Erin Chambers (Standoff)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Corey Monteith (Glee)
Leonor Varela (Blade 2)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
David Orth (The Lost World)
Clayton Landey (Scary Movie 5)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Kavan Smith (Sanctuary)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Claire Rankin (Rogue)
Brenda James (Slither)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Anne Openshaw (Narc)
Aaron Abrams (Hannibal)
Chad Morgan (The Purge 2)
Peter Flemming (Replicant)
William MacDonald (Slither)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Sonja Bennett (Blade: The Series)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Brandy Ledford (Andromeda)
Tamlyn Tomita (Heroes)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
John O’Callaghan (Clutch)
David Ogden Stier (Two Gusy and a Girl)
Alan Ruck (Speed)
Kate Hewlett (A Dog’s Breakfast)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Megan Leitch (IT)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Bill Dow (Legends of The Fall)
Robert Davi (The Bad Pack)
Leela Savasta (Black Xmas)
Laura Harris (Dead Like me)
Michael Beach (The Abyss)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Sharon Taylor (Legends of Tomorrow)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Aleks Paunovic (Mortal Kombat Legacy)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider Dragon Knight)
Jill Wagner (Blade: The Series)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Gary Jones (Highlander: The Series)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Crystal Lowe (Poison Ivy 4)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Emma Lahana (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Michelle Morgan (Heartland)
Nicole de Boer (Star Trek: DS9)
Janina Gavankar (The Vampire Diaries)
Christina Cox (Arrow)
Mike Dopud (Man of Steel)
Jonathan Young (Sanctuary)
Daniella Alonso (Wrong Turn 2)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Anna Galvin (Caprica)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Neil Jackson (Sleepy Hollow)
Ona Grauer (Arrow)

Stargate : Atlantis is far more than just a spin-off from the successful Stargate SG1 series. It stands on its own two feet as a clever, dramatic, funny, entertaining, well-crafted show. In some ways it even surpasses the original, benefiting as it does from the producers’ and crew’s 8+ years of experience in writing and producing the SG1 series. Continuing the mythology of the original show, but with the added twist of a whole new galaxy to explore, this show has something for everyone.

The mix of characters is great and the core cast – and also the regular recurring cast – boasts some excellent actors. Production values are consistently high and, while some episodes are always stronger than others, the writing in season 1 has also been excellent. The first season got things off to a great start, introducing the new team, new allies.. and a new enemy.5195S6CTB0LThere is a great mix of humour and drama in this series and stand-out episodes for me include 38 Minutes, Brotherhood, The Defiant One and the excellent mid-season 2 parter, The Storm and The Eye.

Season one not only established this show as a unique rival to its fellow series `Stargate: SG-1′, but also set the bar very high for a second season with this new breed of adventurers continuing to battle Wraith and other foe in the far-removed Pegasus Galaxy.

Just as with its sister series, `Atlantis’ is adept at balancing a large season story-arc while at the same time providing its audience with inventive one-off stories that act both to attract new viewers to the show and also give the loyal fan-base a break from the on-going threat of the Wraith. This second season is no exception.

The Siege Part III – As last season closed, the cliffhanger had Atlantis under siege by the Wraiths and things were not going well. Atlantis was ready to self destruct and Maj. Shephard was on the way to a suicide mission. As is customary in such situations, the cavalry arrives just in the nick of time in the form of the Earth Ship Daedelus. It has some advanced Asgard technology on board which saves Shepherd and helps to destroy the hive ships attacking Atlantis. Some manage to get away and they are heading back with reinforcements. While the cleanup is going on, a lieutenant is rescued but he has been severely damaged by the wraith. He is irrational and jumpy about the others who do not fully trust him. As the enlarged wraith fleet arrives, Atlantis decides to gamble on deceiving them that a self destruct has really taken place. This occurs just as the damaged lieutenant steals a puddle jumper and flees through the gate.


Runner – A team from Atlantis is investigating a planet with extremely high solar radiation. While there, they find a dead Wraith. There is evidence that he was killed by Lt. Ford, the guy who fled in the first episode of the season. The team heads back to try and get him to come back. They find a surprise. There is another human on the planet who has had a transmitter mounted in his back so that he can be the guest of honor in a sort of trophy hunt. He has managed to elude the Wraith for 7 years before being captured. He is set free by Lt. Ford who is deranged. Now it is a 3 way manhunt with nobody trusting anyone else.

Instinct – While investigating a new planet, the Atlantis team comes across a village that is intermittently plagued by a Wraith. The team agrees to hunt it down but finds something unexpected. They find a local scientist who has been raising a juvenile female Wraith as his daughter. He swears that it is not her who is terrorizing the village. He also maintains that there is another Wraith out there. The science types at Atlantis think they might be able to use the girl to develop a vaccine to fight the virus that causes humans to become Wraiths. It might even turn Wraiths back into humans. The research is promising until the young Wraith girl jumps the gun causing no end of problems.

5195S6CTB0L
Conversion – At the close of the previous episode, LTC Shepherd was injured by the Wraith girl who had tried the experimental virus. Some of their blood mingled. Now he is infected with the parasitic virus that produces Wraiths. Now the race is one to capture an alien bug, get some stem cells and find a cure. The col. is going stir crazy while this happens and is getting more and more volatile. The Lost Boys – The team is following up on a tip and is captured. They are quickly taken to another planet where they find that they have been captured by a force led by the AWOL Lt. Ford. He has been on a rampage and has been taking Wraith “enzyme” from all of his victims. He feeds the enzyme to his followers to give them super strength. He thinks that is the way for humanity to defeat the Wraith. The enzyme prevents him from thinking straight. And, by the way, this one is a cliffhanger.

The Hive – Lt. Ford’s plan to prove the worth of the enzyme is simple. They use a stolen dart and use it to blow up a hive ship. That’s what they were doing at the end of the last episode when they got captured. Remember, Ford doesn’t think all that well under the influence of the enzyme. After the capture, all grow through withdrawal from the enzyme. The longer it has been used, the worse the withdrawal. Help comes from an unexpected source from the least likely hero. Critical Mass – Stargate Command on Earth and Atlantis are plunged into chaos when it is revealed that a Goa’uld operative is hidden in Atlantis. The operative has orders to set a bomb to blow up Atlantis when the Stargate is used to dial Earth. They apparently want to destroy Atlantis to keep the Wraith from getting anywhere near them. The mole is very highly placed.


Michael – Something is not quite right. The episode begins with a man in sick bay. As he is awoken, all of the command staff is notified to be there. He has amnesia and cannot remember anything. He is told that he was a member of a team captured by the Wraith and recaptured by Atlantis. That is not quite the truth which is quite a bit uglier. He was a Wraith upon whom an experimental retrovirus had been tried. The experiment threatens the existence of Atlantis itself.

Allies – A Wraith hive ship arrives. Instead of opening fire, the Wraith ship opens communication. It is being led by Michael, the Wraith upon whom experiments were conducted. He is offering all sorts of Wraith military secrets…for a price. They want the retrovirus used to create Michael. They believe that will give them supremacy over other Wraith. They are a slimy group though and hidden agendas are not beyond the realm of possibility. The alliance is not what it seems. Earth is in trouble in this season ending cliffhanger.


I’ve watched Stargate Atlantis  from the beginning and have more or less enjoyed it from the start.  I really like Joe Flannigan as Sheppard and David Hewlett as Rodney. This season Some help is on the way. We know that Amanda Tapping and her character Samantha Carter will be moving over from the Stargate – SG.1 to become the new head of the Atlantis project. I think she will bring more strength to the role.

Atlantis has emerged as the name not of a location that cannot be moved, but of a truly mobile city that can relocate .  well, to anywhere. The season ends with the city blasting off into space. Season  Three had some great moments. The season finale . was splendid. And the season featured what may be my favorite episode of the entire series so far in “Common Ground,” in which the Genii kidnap Sheppard and enclose him with a wraith who is allowed to feed on no one else.

Christopher Heyerdahl has played the wraitht in this episode he was allowed to give this particular wraith a dignity and complexity not allowed any other wraith with the exception of Michael. He gradually drains the life out of Sheppard out of sheer necessity before the two of them, cooperating as human and wraith never have before, manage to escape from the Genii. Then, in a moment that could lead to interesting plot developments in the future, we discover that the wraiths cannot only drain another creature of life, they can also imbue them with it, and as a sign of comradeship he heals Sheppard.

Season 3 sets up many changes that carry over into the fourth season, with becketts death in Sunday and Wier leaving the show, and Amanda Tapping taking over, its a great season leaving leaving things on a cliffhanger to be resolved in season 4.

Stargate Atlantis ups its game with season four. But it’s not with particularly clever or imaginative stories that the shows writers and producers manage to bring about this change; it’s actually in the areas of character development and action that this season really excels. With the (implied) deaths of inarguably my favourite two characters in season three, I wasn’t expecting their replacements to integrate perfectly, or right away into the Atlantis team, but both actors are given such great material to work with that it’s impossible not to be engaged with their individual story-arcs.

Sam carter is (of course) as brilliant as always, but unlike Doctor Weir, doesn’t appear in nearly as many episodes, or seem to be involved as deeply in the decision-making processes on the base. She just feels like any other member of the team and fits right in almost immediately. Doctor Keller is initially unconvincing in her role as chief medic, but before long she too blossoms into a really intriguing and multi-layered character.


While there are more than a handful of solid Replicator and Wraith-based episodes to enjoy in this twenty-episode season, it’s the character-based stories that stand-out for me as the best examples of this season. Episode 7- `Missing’ , episode 13- `Quarantine’  and episode 16- `Trio’  are each so gripping. The final stand-out story for me would be the concluding episode- `The Last Man’, which  breaks out of the mould of the finale’s of previous seasons and doesn’t involve an unprovoked attack on the city, or a multi-episode build-up. It’s pretty self-contained on the whole and mixes well themes of time-travel, action and season four’s despicable mystery nemesis.

Carson Beckett is back for no less than five episodes, and despite heavy use of the Wraith ship set, the stories are good and justify it. The characters are as well written as ever, I really felt the writers stepped it up a notch this season.


Robert Picardo is back as Richard Woolsey and promoting him to the role of Commander was a stroke of genus. No disrespect to Commander Weir and Colonel Carter, but in Richard Woolsey, Stargate Atlantis had finally cast its ideal leader. There are also a couple of deadpan in-jokes about his holographic Doctor character hidden in the dialogue, which are extremely funny when you spot them.

Despite the technology getting more and more advanced, there is less of a reliance on the technology itself selling the story. There is more focus on the characters than before and all the characters get at least one episode where they take centre stage in the story – for example, David Hewlett puts in an incredibly moving performance in The Shrine where McKay is struck down with a fast acting Pegasus equivalent of Alzheimer’s. Very good use is made of the popular Wraith characters Michael and Todd, and the budding relationship between McKay and Keller is a refreshing antidote.

Advertisements

REVIEW: ALIENS VS PREDATOR 1 & 2

 

CAST

Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Raoul Bova (The Tourist)
Lance Henriksen (Hellraiser 8)
Ewen Bremner (The Mummy)
Colin Salmon (Arrow)
Tommy Flanagan (Gotham)
Joseph Rye (BAtman Begins)
Agathe de La Boulaye (The Girl)
Carsten Norgaard (The Man In The High Castle)
Sam Troughton (Vera Drake)

Aliens Vs. Predator should have been one of those movies that had fanboys and fangirls swinging from the rafters with glee. Teaming up this pair of Fox’s finest franchise characters almost seemed like a no-brainer, especially after it was hinted at in Predator 2 and after Dark Horse Comics proved that there were plenty of cool stories to be told by combining the continuity and history of the two storylines.

Unfortunately, Fox punked out and released a watered down PG-13 film to theaters in hopes of cashing in on the fan base that was developed over the four Alien films and the two Predator films – all of which were R-rated movies. You don’t need violence and gore to make a good movie, we all know this, but if you’re not going to deliver on that front  you should at least deliver an interesting and/or suspenseful story. Sadly, we don’t get either. That’s not to say the movie is awful, it’s just very mediocre and it left a lot of people wanting a lot more from the film than what it delivered.

The movie takes place in the present day and it revolves around a man named Charles Bishop Weyland, the head honcho behind Weyland Industries, a world leader in the field of robotics (anyone familiar with the continuity of the Alien series will easily make the connection between Henriksen’s character here and the part he played in Aliens and Alien 3). Weyland and his team have just discovered an ancient temple located deep beneath the ice of the frozen tundra in Antarctica, and they mean to dig down there and check out what it has to offer.

In order to make this happen, Weyland assembles ‘the best of the best’ for his expedition. First and foremost he recruits the reluctant Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) to act as their guide, but he also brings in a Scottish chemist named Graeme (Ewan Bremmer), an archeologist named de Rosa (Raoul Bova), and a few other handy sorts, namely Adele Russeau (Agathe de la Boulaye), Thomas Parks (Sam Troughton), and his personal ‘go to guy’ Maxwell Stafford (Colin Salmon). Together they head out into the cold and start digging, setting up their above ground base in the remains of an old whaling station.

Once the crew starts working, it quickly becomes apparent that this isn’t a normal archeological expedition. It doesn’t take long before a few of the more disposable members of the team start getting wasted and it turns out that are here for their ceremonial right of passage. Every one hundred years they thaw out an alien queen and get her egg sack pumping out as many of the nasty little buggers as she can so that they can send in their hunters so that they may prove their worth in an actual hunt. Weyland and his team have just happened to arrive on the day of this event, and it’s going to take all they’ve got to make it out alive because, as the tagline goes, whoever wins, they lose.

The best part about this movie, aside from the ever-cool Lance Henriksen, are the visuals. The pyramid/temple that was created as the main set is an interesting place to put the characters and the setup for the action that occurs is a pretty good one. The biggest flaw in the film is that the script just piles in way too many characters for its own good and as such, it’s hard for us to care about anyone in the movie. There’s plenty of style, but very little substance and as such the movie plays out with about as much heart and soul as a run of the mill slasher film. While the CGI scenes stand out a little bit and are a bit soulless, the animatronic effects and the make up effects that aren’t done on a computer are pretty solid and look quite good in the movie.

There are some moments in the film that stand out – the face hugger and alien incubation/birth scenes are still creepy and wholly unnatural, and some of the fights between the various creatures that inhabit the temple are nifty. There’s lots of footage of various characters tooling around in the dark corridors of the building trying to find a way out only to be chased down and made mince meat out of and while these aren’t all that original, they’re reasonably tense at times. Again though, when you don’t care about the people being chased, the catch just isn’t as sweet. The scene where the alien queen first appears is also quite dramatic and more than a little eerie.

 

CAST

Steven Pasquale (Rescue me)
Reiko Aylesworth (Lost)
John Ortiz (Fast & Furious)
Johnny Lewis (Felon)
Ariel Gade (Envy)
Kristen Hager(Wanted)
Sam Trammell (True Blood)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Robert Joy (The Hills Have Eyes)
Chelah Horsdal (When Calls The Heart)
Gina Holden (Flash Gordon)
Tom MCbeath (Bates Motel)
Ty Olsson (Izombie)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Rainbow Francks (Stargate ATlantis)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Francoise Yip (Smallville)

AVP-R is fast, bloody and cruel. In this unrated version (101 minutes) the gore quotient is pretty high – worlds better than the first AVP – and to its credit works to give us characters with stories and not just characteristics. Best among these stories are those of an errant ex-con and his at risk younger brother, and it’s a nice concession to those of us moviegoers not weaned on videogames. But clearly, we’re not looking to AVP-R for character development, are we? We’re looking for action, acidic blood, and plenty of tension-filled, scary, luscious looking set pieces. Those we get, in spades.

Problem is (and this is a universal complaint) most of this bloody action is impossible to see. Ebony skinned Aliens and Predators running around in unlit spaceships, woods, sewers and such makes for difficult viewing. Adding insult to injury, an Alien-kill spews acidic blood all over a power station, and soon all the lights in the entire town go out, and then it starts raining. What we’re left with are a handful of rain soaked glinting surfaces on a cloudy, moonless night. If that’s not bad enough, most all of this violent action is filmed in jittery medium-to-tight close-ups, with lightning fast editing. So now what we get are unlit, unidentifiable details of unrecognizable anatomy and architecture zipping by unfocused in a fraction of a second. It’s so over-the-top impossible to see it’s almost like an artistic challenge.

So we must, if we can, focus on the positive. Even if we can’t see it, the brutal alien carnage is plentiful and cruel. Children are put in peril and slaughtered at whim. Pregnant women are subjected to the vilest of treatments, and chest bursters are born in litters. Oh yes, there’s also the hybrid ‘PredAlien’ and a fistfight in the deep end of the swimming pool. Someone is bucking for genre greatness, but not quite making it.

Living in the shadow of Alien must be tough, and James Cameron is the only director who’s had any success of it (not that Alien3 and Alien Resurrection aren’t good …) because Cameron simply made a solid Cameron movie with Ripley and the Aliens. Pretty much everyone else just tries to ‘put their stamp’ on the creation of Ridley Scott et al. That creation was just seven simple yet utterly realistic characters in peril. Each successive film has suffered bloat and pretension to one degree or the other, and AVP-R is no exception. As the opening sprawl of AVP-R is whittled down by outer space chaos, the movie begins to return to – if not the form of Scott’s masterpiece – at least something more akin to Cameron’s ordnance assault (in fact the movie cops liberally from both films, as well as Alien3). It’s pretty exciting, brainless fun.