REVIEW: LAKEVIEW TERRACE

CAST

Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring)
Kerry Washington (Mr & Mrs Smith)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Jay Hernandez (Hostel)
Justin Chambers (Grey’s Anatomy)
Robert Pine (Red Eye)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Eva LaRue (CSI: Miami)
Michael Landes (Lois & Clark)

An interracial newlywed couple, Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) are moving into their first home. Chris’s first exchanges with their neighbour, long time LAPD detective Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), have somewhat hostile undertones, with Abel making comments about Chris’ smoking and listening to hip hop music. The following night, Chris and Lisa have sex in their swimming pool. Unknown to them, Abel’s children, Marcus and Celia, watch them. Abel arrives home and witnesses the spectacle. Angry, he re-positions his home security floodlights to shine into Chris and Lisa’s window, keeping them awake. One evening, Chris and Lisa hear noises downstairs and find the tires on Chris’ car slashed. Suspecting Abel, they call the police, who are unable to do anything because of Abel’s status within the LAPD. Chris retaliates by shining his own floodlights into Abel’s bedroom.Lisa later reveals she is pregnant, creating conflict with Chris, who does not yet want children. Meanwhile, Abel is suspended without pay for abusing a suspect, inciting more fury within him. Chris plants trees along the fence between their properties, which leads to a near-violent exchange, as Abel objects to having trees hanging over his property. When Chris goes to a local bar, Abel enters and tells Chris that his own wife died in a traffic accident.

Abel sends his informant, Clarence Darlington (Keith Loneker), to trash the Mattson’s home to make them uncomfortable in the neighbourhood. Lisa arrives home early, surprising Clarence. They struggle and Lisa is knocked out, but not before she triggers the alarm. Chris races home, followed by a frustrated Abel. When Abel comes upon his hired criminal, he fatally shoots him. Lisa is rushed to the hospital, but is okay. Wildfires are raging in the surrounding hills and the residents are instructed to leave their homes. Abel, who remains behind, enters the Mattsons’ home, hoping to retrieve Clarence’s dropped cell phone. Lisa and Chris unexpectedly return from the hospital before Abel finds the phone, and he leaves. While the Mattsons pack to evacuate, Chris finds the cell phone. He calls the last number dialled and hears Abel answer. Chris realizes Abel is responsible for the break-in, and Abel realizes Chris has discovered the phone.

Abel goes over with his gun drawn, and he and Chris struggle. Before Lisa can escape, Abel shoots her car, causing her to crash into a parked vehicle. After pistol whipping Abel and seemingly knocking him out, Chris rescues Lisa. Hiding his gun behind his back, Abel insists he is unarmed, County sheriff officers arrive on the scenes and Abel tries to insists that he’s unarmed and that Chris should listen to his wife, Chris finally throws Abel off by asking him about his wife’s death and how she had became unfaithful to him, Infuriated, Abel finally pulls out his hidden gun, shooting Chris in the shoulder, prompting Abel to be killed by the deputies in self-defence. Chris survives, and he and Lisa later talk about their pride in their home, neighbourhood, and soon-to-be family.

Director Neil LaBute handles the film well, painting a picture of middle class suburban tranquillity, and then slowly destroying the peaceful scene he has created with a deft touch. This is a small, personal film tackling a very big issue, and it tackles it extremely well.

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REVIEW: STAR TREK: VOYAGER – SEASON 1-7

 

voyagerMAIN CAST

Kate Mulgrew (Lovepsell)
Robert Beltran (Big Love)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Masters of The Universe)
Roxann Dawson (Darkman III)
Garrett Wang (Into The West)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Jennifer Lien (Ameircan History X)
Jeri Ryan (Arrow)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Majel Barrett (Earth: Final Conflict)
Martha Hackett (Leprechaun 2)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers LIghtspeed Rescue)
Anthony De Longis (Highlander: The Series)
Marjorie Monaghan  (Andromeda)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Rob LaBelle (Dark Angel)
Thomas Dekker (Terminator: TSCC)
John Rubinstein (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master 3)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Nancy Hower (Catch and Release)
Jack Shearer (End of Days)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Joel Grey (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Rick Worthy (Collateral Damage)
Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon A Time)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Gerrit Graham (Child’s Play 2)
John De Lancie (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Michael McKean (Smallville)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
George Takei (Heroes)
Grace Lee Whitney (60s Batman)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
Robert Prine (V)
James Parks (Django Unchained)
Estelle Harris (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Keene Curtis (Stargate SG.1)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Sarah Silverman (A Million Ways To Die In The West)
Ed Begley jr. (Veronica Mars)
Brad Greenquist (Alias)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Harve Presnell (Lois & Clark)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Alan Openheimer (Transformers)
Kristanna Loken (Bloodrayne)
Jessica Collins (True Calling)
Rachael Harris (New Girl)
Wendy Schaal (American Dad)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Rosemary Forsyth (Disclosure)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Rebecca McFarland (Two and a Half Men)
Judson Scott (V)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Mark Metcalf (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander 2)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Zach Galligan (Gremlins)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
Tucker Smallwood (Traffic)
Ray Walston (The Sting)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Scarlett Pomers (Reba)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Mark Harelik (The Big Bang Theory)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The Gift)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Ron Canada (Just Like Heaven)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Kevin Tighe (Lost)
Bradley Pierce (Jumanji)
Titus Welliver (Agents of SHIELD)
John Savage (Dark Angel)
Jonathan Breck (Jeepers Creepers)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien NAtion)
Claire Rankin (Stargate: Atlantis)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Mimi Craven  (A NIghtmare on Elm Street)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Richard Herd (V)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Obi Ndefo (Angel)
Lindsey Ginter (Hercules: TLJ)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frightners)
Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious 7)
J.G. Hertzler (Roswell)
Manu Intiraymi  (Go)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Mark Sheppard (Firefly)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Tamara Craig Thomas (Odyssey 5)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Robert Axelrod (Power Rangers)
Sherman Howard (Superbo)
Robert Joy (Amityville 3)
Alice Krige (Children of Dune)

Star Trek: Voyager is a great series to watch. The initial concept of the show is pretty simple: USS Voyager is taken to the delta quadrant against there will and are stranded there – leaving them no choice to but to embark on a long and dangerous journey home.

The Voyager series brings in a lot of new and old ideas about the star trek universe. The new idea of having a holographic doctor and being able to send him on away-missions is a very complex and entertaining idea. The idea of two opposing factions banding together to work as one crew is new. However, some old ideas do still remain for example the unattractive uniforms, colour designations, button sounds and the weakness of their ship.

The cast is full of good actors. At first the characters were green and so was the acting, but by the second season the characters and acting seemed to flow much better. Captain Jane-way certainly looks and feels like a leader and her choices are often made by seeking advice from other crew members, but some of her decisions are startlingly dark and immoral. There were a lot of recurring minor roles for actors and they brought a unique feel to the show.

One of the best things I like about this series is that it gets very technical, but is also dumbed-down enough to make sure the ordinary lay-man (like myself) can still understand what’s going on. The addition of Seven of Nine was a great idea. Jeri Ryan brought in a great sex appeal and added further to the technical stand-points in the show. I fully enjoyed learning a lot about the Borg. It is one of the species I was most interested in.
If you want to know about the Borg, this is the series to watch. Also, this series is very dark. At some points I had shed some tears. Rick Berman was shooting for a darker Star Trek and he made it happen. Overall, this is a wonderful show. It outlines betrayal, morality, trust, honor and integrity. Each episode takes you on journey to learning a new life lesson.

REVIEW: DEATH AT A FUNERAL (2010)

 

CAST

Chris Rock (Dogma)
Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Loretta Devine (Crash)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Danny Glover (Earthsea)
Regina Hall (Scary Movie)
Kevin Hart (Ride Along)
James Marsden (Gossip)
Tracy Morgan (Cop Out)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Columbus Short (The Losers)
Luke Wilson (That 70s Show)

The film revolves around the funeral service for the father of Aaron (Chris Rock) and Ryan. Aaron, the older son, and his wife Michelle (Regina Hall) live at his parents’ home. For the past five years, Aaron has been taking care of his parents, as his job as a tax account has been supporting them. Aaron and Michelle have been trying to buy their own home and have children but have been unsuccessful. Aaron envies Ryan (Martin Lawrence) because Ryan is a successful author, while he has not yet had his novel published, and resents his brother because Ryan would rather spend money on a first class airline ticket than help him pay for the funeral expenses.

Aaron and Ryan’s cousin Elaine (Zoe Saldana) and her boyfriend Oscar (James Marsden) are on their way to pick up Elaine’s brother Jeff (Columbus Short) before heading to the funeral. To ease Oscar’s nerves, she gives him a pill from a bottle labeled as Valium. Jeff later reveals to Elaine that it is actually a powerful hallucinogenic drug he has concocted for a friend. Chaos ensues when Oscar hallucinates that the coffin is moving. He knocks it over, and the body falls out of the coffin. Aaron is approached by an unknown guest, a dwarf named Frank (Peter Dinklage), who reveals himself to be the secret lover of his late father. Frank shows Aaron photos as proof and threatens to reveal them to Aaron’s mother unless he is paid $30,000. Aaron tells Ryan, who suggest Aaron pay the money because Ryan claims he is buried in debt. While Aaron and Ryan meet with him to pay him, Frank starts to deride Aaron’s ability as a writer and Aaron refuses to pay.

Frank begins to turn violent and puts his hand in his pocket, and tries to leave the room. Ryan attacks Frank and both Aaron and Ryan tie Frank up to prevent him from leaving. Norman (Tracy Morgan) comes in and sees what has happened. He gives Frank several doses of what he also believes is Valium to try to calm him down, before Jeff tells them it is actually the same hallucinogen Oscar took earlier. While Jeff and Norman who are supposed to be watching Frank get distracted by Uncle Russell (Danny Glover), Frank frees himself from his bonds, jumps off the couch, and hits his head on the coffee table. With Aaron, Ryan, Jeff and Norman believing Frank is dead, they plan to put him in the coffin. While everyone is outside watching Oscar, who is now naked on the roof, threatening to jump because he saw Elaine’s ex-boyfriend Derek (Luke Wilson) kissing her, Aaron and Ryan put Frank in the coffin.

Elaine tells Oscar that Derek forced himself on her and calms him down by revealing she is pregnant. With everyone back inside, they continue the eulogy. While Aaron awkwardly tries to give his speech, Frank shakes the coffin from inside it; then suddenly forces it open and emerges. The pictures fall out of his pocket, and Cynthia (Loretta Devine), who is Aaron and Ryan’s mother and the widow, sees the pictures, screams at Frank, and starts to attack him. Aaron yells for everyone’s attention as he delivers a moving, impromptu eulogy saying that his father was a good man with flaws like everyone else. The film ends with Aaron and Ryan saying goodbye while Ryan gets a ride to the airport by Martina, whom he had been trying to seduce all day. Aaron and Michelle are finally alone and going to try to have a baby. Aaron asks where Uncle Russell is and Michelle tells him that she gave him what she believes is Valium to calm him down. In the final scene Uncle Russell is on the roof naked, like Oscar had been, complaining about how “everything is so green”.

A fun and watchable film with a great supporting cast, including James Marsden, Zoe Saldana and Kevin Hart.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Tim Daly (Wings)
Dana Delaney (Hand of God)
David Kaufman (Justice League: Doom)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Joseph Bologna (The Nanny)
George Dzundza (Species II)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Mike Farrell (MASH)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Joely Fisher (Til Death)
Victor Brandt (T.J. Hooker)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Finola Hughes (General Hospital)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final ConflicT)
Brad Garrett (Finding Nemo)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Larry Drake (Firefly)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Marion Ross (That 70s Show)
Cam Clarke (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin)
Sandra Bernmhard (2 Broke Girls)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Arleen Sorkin (Duet)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Bob Hastings (McHale’s Navy)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (77 Sunset Strip)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Jennifer Lien (Star Trek: Voyager)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Peter Gallagher (American Beauty)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Paul Williams(The Muppet Movie)
John Glover (Smallville)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Jason Priestly (Tru Calling)
Chad Lowe (Unfaithful)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 2)
Billy West (Futurama)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Olivia Hussey (IT)
David Warner (Tron)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

I think people can generally divided into two categories: Batman people or Superman people. Either you are into the dark, gloomy and atmospheric or the optimistic and all-American. I’ve always considered myself a Batman guy. As such, I was estatic when “Batman: The Animated Series” hit the airwaves. An excellent portrayal of the Caped Crusader, it set a new standard for cartoons, not on in terms of the look, but also the stories. Cartoons didn’t have to be made for children, but could aim higher.

So after the success of “Batman: TAS,” it was only natural for Superman to get a new chance at the small screen. The creative minds behind the Dark Knight’s cartoon renaissance took on Big Blue, and took him to heights not seen since the early Fleischer cartoons made him the original animated superhero standard bearer. By sticking to the character’s roots, but not allowing themselves to be restricted by a slavish attention to the comic books or movies, the creators created a cartoon Superman that fans could embrace, but those without a comic-book education would enjoy as well.

The majority of the episodes follow something of a pattern, as Supes faces a challenge from a villain, is overcome and figures out how to overcome that challenge just in time to get the bad guy before 22 minutes are over (unless it’s a multi-episode story arc.) When the show shakes free those format shackles is the moment when the series shines. Episodes like the series-opening three-show “The Last Son of Krypton,” “Speed Demons,” which co-stars The Flash and “My Girl,” which introduces the all-grown-up Lana Lang, are among some of the most enjoyable in this volume. That’s not to say that the straightforward adventures aren’t fun, as “Two’s a Crowd” and “Fun and Games” show.

Superman aficionados will enjoy appearances by Toyman, Bibbo, Metallo, Brainiac, Darkseid and a raucous two-episode appearance by the Main Man, Lobo. There’s also plenty of celebrity voices to listen for, including Lori Petty, Tim Daly, Dana Delaney, Ron Pearlman, Leslie Easterbrook, Lauren Tom, Brad Garrett, Mike Farrell, Shelley Fabares, Christopher McDonald, Malcolm McDowell, Bud Cort, Joe Bologna, Michael York and Joely Fisher. If you don’t know which characters they play, I won’t ruin it. It adds another layer of enjoyment to watching the show.

these shows are great, with great writing and animation in every episode. Highlights from this second volume include the episodes “Identitiy Crisis” which introduces Bizarro and “Heavy Metal” which introduces fellow superhero Steel, who teams up with Superman to battle Metallo.

“World’s Finest” is a three-part episode that teams Superman with Batman for the first time as they both take on their respective arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor and the Joker.

Other episodes feature appearances by a variety of villains and guest heroes – Dr. Fate shows up in “The Hand of Fate” – but the best episode of the collection has no guest appearance by a crime fighter or a super villain. “The Late Mr. Kent” is perhaps the most complex and best written of the 18 episodes in this volume – and perhaps the entire series. The story revolves around Clark Kent’s attempts to clear a man on death row before he is executed. For his troubles, someone tries to kill the intrepid reporter, and most people believe he is dead, leaving Superman alone, without his alter ego to rely upon. For a show that clocks in at less than thirty minutes, it offers some complex insights into the relationship between mild-mannered Clark Kent and his crime-fighting counterpart Superman.

The main arc of this season borrows from the comic book universe and brings Darkseid and his homeworld to the forefront. Hinted at earlier in the show, it’s in this third volume that the Lord of Apokolips finally gets his payoff – and his payback. In a trio of two-parters, Apokolips… Now!, Little Girl Lost, and Legacy, Superman fights one of his most ruthless foes in a series of episodes that offer some excellent action, drama, and science fiction fun.

While these episodes are very faithful to the mythos, we’ve also got a great selection of original stories that go to prove that with a character like Superman, there is no limit to the stories that you can tell. One of my favorites is Knight Time. When Batman goes missing, Superman pays a visit to Gotham City and tries to find out where his friend has gone. Supes inadvertently ends up masquerading as Batman – dressing up in the Dark Knight’s costume and everything! – and teams up with Robin to solve the mystery of the missing Bruce Wayne. Not only is the episode entertaining, but it’s also got a great sense of humor. Seeing Superman do his best impersonation of Batman is wonderful – Clark doesn’t know which utility pockets contain what, and his attempts at being grim (nodding his head instead of speaking) are great.

Watching these shows you get the feeling that it was during this final stretch of episodes that the show’s producers were finding new ways of playing with the formula that they had designed, and perfected, with both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Not only do these Superman episodes have a lot of two-parters, but we’ve also got some great guest-stars; it seems that this show is the precursor to Justice League.

We’ve got heroes, Kyle Rayner from In Brightest Day, and villains, Ra’s Al Ghul in The Demon Reborn, and everyone in between – everyone’s favorite master of the sea, Aquaman in Fish Story. We also get an expansion of the Superman supporting cast when Supergirl makes a welcome appearance in the Little Girl Lost two-parter.

In one of the episodes found in this collection, Superman pays his final respects to a recently departed friend. In the graveyard, Superman comes to realize something very important: “In the end, the world didn’t really need a Super man. Just a brave one.” This show gives us a character who is both brave and super. It gives us a real hero. It gives us Superman… as good as he’s ever been.

REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – SEASON 1

CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Ian De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

J. August Richards (Angel)
Shannon Lucio (True Blood)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Samuel L. Jackson (Jackie Brown)
David Conrad (Roswell)
Ian Hart (Finding Neverland)
Ruth Negga (World War Z)
Cullen Douglas (Scandal)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Saffron Burrows (Troy)
Maximiliano Hernández (Warrior)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Charles Halford (Constantine)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters II)
Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps)
Christine Adams (Pushing Daisies)
Maiara Walsh (The Starving Games)
Carlo Rota (Stargate Universe)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Bill Paxton (Apollo 13)
Elena Satine (Revenge)
B.J. Britt (Veronica Mars)
Jaimie Alexander (The Last Stand)
Dylan Bruno (Carrie 2)
Brad Dourif (Child’s Play)
Patton Oswalt (Two and A Half Men)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)

When Marvel’s cinematic universe first took off, the next move was to make the leap to television, Marvel turned to Avengers director Joss Whedon’s brother Jed and his wife/collaborator Maurissa Tancharoen, who took the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One character Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), the man who helped gather the heroes who became the Avengers, and made him the star of his own series, focused on his team at S.H.I.E.L.D., the international peacekeeping organization run by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson.) The hour-long drama would build off of the well-known heroics, and tell connected tales of espionage, as Coulson and his squad respond to threats to humanity around the world.Now, in case you haven’t seen The Avengers, you should know that in a climactic battle, Coulson was very badly injured, which became a rallying point for the heroes. Well, he’s back, but how he made it back is a large part of the series’ foundation, which is revealed in piecemeal over the course of the first season. Coulson’s search for the truth is intertwined with the arrival of the newest member of his team, a hacker known as Skye (Chloe Bennett), who has plenty of secrets of her own, in part due to her past as a rogue “hacktivist.” Trust is a massive theme in the series, as no one is sure about anyone else but they have to rely on each other if they are going to complete their missions, which remind one of Fringe in a big way, as the team investigates strange phenomena in order to keep humanity safe.Lorelei, Though certainly not a big-name Marvel character (her sister The Enchantress has a much higher profile) and not the first recognizable super-powered character on the show (that would be the cybernetic assassin Deathlok, whose origin is revealed over the course of the season), Lorelei tips the scales with her appearance because she, as an Asgardian, creates a direct link to the world of Thor, and also because she’s followed to Earth by Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), the Asgardian warrior from the two Thor films. Finally, fans exclaimed, there’s some honest to goodness superhero action to be enjoyed, and that was followed by direct ties into the new Captain America movie, picking up the plot from the theaters and bringing its effects home. This was the crossover dream that comics mastered decades ago, and now Marvel was making happen between movies and TV (and you didn’t really even need to see both sides to enjoy them separately.)After offering this cookie to the fans, the series shifted back to the spy game though, where it would stay for the rest of the season, introducing Bill Paxton and Saffron Burrows in major roles) as Coulson’s organization crumbled around him and the team shifted from saving the world to saving each other. Coulson’s team, which, aside from Skye, includes Ward (Brett Dalton), a perfect soldier; badass pilot May (Ming-Na Wen) and science specialists Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), comes together quickly as a unit on the series, establishing their personalities right off the bat, with Skye serving as the show’s young star, showing the old guard how a new generation does the job (though still requiring saving and offering a hearty cry every now and then) and Fitz and Simmons serving as the audience’s tech-loving stand-ins, the most down-to-earth parts of a fantastical realm. May though, with her economy of words and excess of butt-kicking skill, is the “Wolverine” of the show, and her relationship with Coulson serves as a backbone for the series. Naturally, Gregg’s performance is integral to the show, and he continues to shine in the role of Coulson, giving us a smartass secret agent for the ages.While the show is a serial and does well at telling action-adventure arcs of mystery and intrigue, building the mythology and establishing a larger storyline, it could do one-offs as well, including two of the season’s best episodes, “FZZT” which ties into The Avengers while telling a standalone story that put a spotlight on Fitz and Simmons, and “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, which puts the team on a train and tries out some interesting storytelling structure. The show also has its humorous side, taking its tone from the Marvel films, which blend grits with grins (and though Patton Oswalt gets a featured role in one episode, for once, he’s not responsible for the laughs.) For the most part, this mix works well, as it helps illustrate the growing camaraderie between the teammates and keeps the tone light, but it can get out of hand very quickly. The final episode, where much of what’s been revealed over the course of the previous 21 episodes comes to a head, the lightheartedness (thanks to an appearance by a famous friend of the team) goes over the top.

REVIEW: SERENITY

CAST

Nathan Fillion (Slither)
Gina Torres (Angel)
Alan Tudyk (I Robot)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jewel Staite (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ron Glass (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Sean Maher (Arrow)
Summer Glau (Arrow)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Martian)
David Krumholtz (Hail, Caesar!)
Sarah Paulson (What Women Want)
Tamara Taylor (Bones)

“I’m not going to say it’s the best science fiction movie, ever. Oh wait, yes I am”. The words of Orson Scott Card himself, author of the award winning scifi novel “Ender’s game”, and many others.


Not only is this a very fine movie, made on a fraction of the budget of any other scifi film I can think of, it also captivates those who have previously had no interest in science fiction before. Which is far more than I can say about almost any SciFi movie I can think of, the only other being Ridley Scotts 80’s classic Bladerunner.

Even if you’ve never seen Joss Whedon’s critically acclaimed series “Firefly”, less than a quater of the way through this movie you’ll suddenly realize, I care about these people, I care about what happens to them, so rich are their characters. They have flaws & insecurities just like we all do.


You can do alot more in a 15 Episode TV series regarding character development than you can in a 2 hr movie, so the focus here is mostly on 2 main characters. The captain of the cargo ship Serenity, ‘Malcolm Reynolds’, and ‘River’, the extremely intelligent but mentally traumatized teenage sister of Dr Simon Tam who Reynolds agreed to give sanctuary aboard his ship some eight months or so earlier. Having said that though, all the characters are here, and they all do a fine job. The script is very witty, clever and often very powerful.


The soundtrack in Serenity quite wondrous in it’s self, with beautiful melancholic strings, echoing piano, and western and oriental influences. They work perfectly with Whedon’s stunning camera work and lighting. There are special effects in this movie a’ plenty, and they look fantastic, in fact they completely belie the fact that this film cost less than $40m to make. They really are quite beautiful but they are there to further a strong story, not to overcome it.


So emotionally powerful is this film that it has been described as ‘art’, and I really do think that it is, but will everybody like it? In the words of O.S.Card, “Not a chance…… it really is too strong for some people. Plus the story line is ‘smart enough’ and ‘mature’ enough that some people just won’t get it. Can’t be helped”. Serenity was indeed voted film of the year 2005, did it deserve the top spot? Possibly not, but it did deserve to be very close to it. It was certainly the “only” Scifi based movie that deserved to be anywhere near the top ten movies of 2005.


Serenity is a very unusual film, a tiny film that went by almost unnoticed and was a difficult film to market. There are no big names in the cast, and it is based on a short lived TV series that sadly too few know about. So when you see it for the 1st time, nay, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time and so on, you’ll feel privileged that you did..

REVIEW: FIREFLY

MAIN CAST

Nathan Fillion (Slither)
Gina Torres (Angel)
Alan Tudyk (I Robot)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jewel Staite (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ron Glass (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Sean Maher (Arrow)
Summer Glau (Arrow)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Andrew Bryniarski (Batman Returns)
Gregg Henry (Payback)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Doug Savant (Desperate Housewives)
Christina Hendricks (Drive)
Gregory Itzin (The IDes of March)
Kevin Gage (May)
Zachary Kranzler (Playing Mona Lisa)
ILia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Mark Sheppard (Dollhouse)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
Edward Atterton (Alias)
Zac Efron (Bad Neighbours)
Michael Fairman (Dead Silence)
Richard Brooks (The Hidden)
Carlos Jacott (Big Love)

I could watch Firefly every year for the rest of my life and not get bored with it. IHow does one get tired of well-written characters and entertaining dialogue?

Firefly aired, on Fox, for part of the 2002-03 season. The powers that be at Fox were crack-smoking morons and did their best to make sure nobody saw the series. They aired the episodes out of order and often skipped a week or two, with something else in its place. It worked because the show was soon canceled.

While the series is set in the year 2517, and much takes place on a spaceship, it is really a western at heart. Even the theme song has a western/country vibe to it.

Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) is the captain of the Serenity. Mal, along with his second in command Zoe (Gina Torres) fought on the losing side of a brutal civil war six years earlier. While Zoe seems to have accepted her fate, Mal is still bitter and comes across as a surly opportunist that does whatever he has to for a buck. It becomes clear early on that he has a set of principals that he holds dear.

With them are Wash (Alan Tudyk) , the ship’s pilot and husband of Zoe. Kaylee (Jewel Staite) is the ship’s engineer and is an odd mix of tomboy and sweet young thing (Except that her first visit on the ship was while she was getting busy with the original engineer). Jane Cobb (Adam Baldwin) is a mercenary that acts as the muscle, though it is never quite clear just how loyal he is to them.

The Serenity has a handful of passengers that are also regulars. Inarra (Morena Baccarin) is an Ambassador (It seems that prostitution is not only legal in the future, but organized and ever semi-respected) that rents space on the ship. Her presence works because she provides them with access to places they might not normally be able to go (She and Mal also have chemistry in the love/hate sense).

Book (Ron Glass) is a reverend with a mysterious past. Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) comes on board with his sister River (Summer Glau) in tow. They are on the run from the government as River was part of an experiment that has left her a bit scattered, but with great skills and even powers that lie just beneath her surface.

The galaxy is governed by the Alliance, which appears to be a semi-fascist organization. The outer reaches of the galaxy is full of colonized planets that often appear to resemble border towns in the wild west. The Alliance’s presence is only slightly felt there, with civilization being in the early stages…kind like Iowa or North Dakota only more interesting.

Most shows spend their first season developing chemistry, but Firefly hit the ground running with a cast that seems to have known each other for years. The interaction is often magical. Joss Whedon created a show with a very distinct style and feel. The dialogue is peppered with Chinese, to suggest that the Chinese culture became a global influence over the centuries between now and the time of the show. No funky sound effects are used in the space scenes, no roar of engines or squeal of laser cannons (In the reality, there is no sound in space). Even though there are rockets and lasers, most of the weapons are bullet based (adding to the western feel) and the most of the ships have a worn, dirty look to them.