REVIEW: VERONICA MARS (MOVIE)

CAST

Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Francis Capra (heroes)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Chris Lowell (Enlisted)
Tina Mojorino (Santa Fe)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)
Gaby Hoffmann (Wild)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Amanda Noret (City Guys)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Duane Daniels (Murder on Vine)
Lisa Thornhill (Rush Hour 3)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens)
Justin Long (Mom)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eddie Jemison (IZombie)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)

Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)The world of cult TV is a peculiar one. Television shows are canceled all the time, but through the world of DVDs, Netflix, and Amazon, shows pulled from network schedules before their time now have the opportunity to grow a loyal, faithful audience long after the grass has grown over their graves.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2014)Those fans often wonder if they’ll ever see their favorite characters again, and every once in awhile that wish comes true. Seven years after it was canceled, Veronica Mars, which became a cult phenomenon since it premiered its last new episode on The CW in 2007, returned for one more mystery, this time on the big screen. As any true fan can tell you, Veronica Mars was a witty, one-of-a-kind teen noir series that tackled everything from rape and murder to class warfare.A social outcast after her sheriff father (Enrico Colantoni) wrongfully accused a very rich, very powerful man of murdering his daughter (who was Veronica’s best friend and the sister of Veronica’s boyfriend), Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) was largely on her own in a town full of obnoxious and privileged children of movie stars and CEOs. But the Southern California town of Neptune was divided along class lines. Veronica didn’t fit in with the popular kids, known as the 09-ers, after her father’s wrongful accusation, but she didn’t fit in with the working class either on account of her former association to those same 09-ers. She became a fierce, independent teen whose weapon of choice against her enemies was her mind, her wit, and the occasional stun-gunning. Each episode of the series tackled a new mystery for Veronica to solve, while an overarching larger mystery unfolded over the course of the entire season. It’s not every day a series like Veronica Mars shows up on TV, and so it makes perfect sense that Veronica Mars in its film incarnation be as unique as the series from which it was born.veronicamarsFunded by fans via a Kickstarter that broke several records and reached its goal of $2 million in less than 12 hours, the Veronica Mars film was a labor of love for all parties involved. The movie, which looked great despite not having had the funds it would have had if it had been completely backed by the studio, felt like an extended episode of the TV series. Some people might look at that and see a failure, but to any Veronica Mars fan, that’s the highest form of praise. Instead of an ending, the movie felt like a brand-new chapter recently discovered at the end of a favorite book.Series creator Rob Thomas has always been cognizant of the fact that the film would not exist if it weren’t for the fans, and has said on more than one occasion that it was imperative that they make a film that would do right by the fans who donated their hard-earned cash to bring this beautiful work to life. And that’s what he did. He created a film that he knew the fans would love. And he should know, because he’s probably the series’ biggest fan outside of Kristen Bell herself. Without Thomas and Bell keeping alive their dream of one day shooting a film, fans might have given up hope of ever returning to the seedy seaside town of Neptune, California.Kristen Bell and Ryan Hansen in Veronica Mars (2014)By the time Veronica traded in her pin-straight hair and fancy New York lawyer duds for the jeans, jacket, and beach waves uniform she wore for three seasons, it was clear Veronica was never going to go back to the seemingly perfect life she had in New York with Piz (Chris Lowell). It doesn’t matter if everyone knew going in that she’d end up choosing Neptune over New York and ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Dorhing) over Piz, because it’s exactly what the fans wanted to see. It’s what the fans paid upfront to see. It’s the open-ended ending the fans waited seven years for. In short: The film delivered.rs_560x415-140311131242-1024.Veronica-Mars-Kristen-Bell.ms.031114_copyThe movie, which followed the first case Veronica had worked since she transferred to Stanford after one year at Hearst College, and which happened to coincide with her 10 year high school reunion, felt exactly like that: A reunion. Because Thomas wanted to please the fans, the movie attempted to bring back as many original cast members from the series as possible, from the still-bitchy Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret), to the dirty and shameless Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino), who might actually be living in a van now, to the effortlessly charming Deputy-now-detective Leo (Max Greenfield). The movie was a parade of familiar faces, but to fans of the series, it felt a bit like home. Each time a character appeared on screen, it was a wink and a nod to fans.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)It makes sense that the person to pull Veronica back to Neptune and the private eye world was Logan. He’d been part of the reason she’d left town and their self-proclaimed epic love story was left unfinished. If I take issue with anything in the film, however, it would be the way in which it portrayed her relationship with both Logan and the job of being a private investigator as a drug. Over the course of the series, it was clear her relationship with Logan was toxic, but Logan has grown up and matured considerably in the nine years since we last saw him. Yes, he was quick to resort to violence when Veronica’s sex tape played at the reunion, but that doesn’t change the fact that Logan has come very far since his self-destructive days. He joined the navy and became a pilot. He became a stabilizing force for his girlfriend, Carrie Bishop, whose murder was the central mystery of the movie.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)Keith’s vocal opposition to Veronica leaving New York and the opportunities there felt real and were grounded in reality. He’s a father who only wants the best for his daughter. But it was never going to happen. The mystery of who killed Carrie Bishop wasn’t the most exciting or intricate case Veronica has ever tackled, but once again, the movie had to find a way to work in a case that would draw Veronica back to Neptune, as well as find a way to work in the cameos fans desperately wanted to see in a short, finite amount of time. Revealing Martin Starr’s new character Stu “Cobb” Cobbler to be Carrie’s murderer made sense, because having it be someone fans knew and loved would have been crushing to the audience. The fact that Dick really never knew the truth about what happened to Susan Knight on that boat was in line with the Dick that fans have come to love or come to love to hate. In short, everything that happened in the film felt just right.Success in this industry will always be measured by how much money a film makes, and there is a special dollar amount the movie must bring in to warrant a sequel, but to fans of the series, none of that really matters. It was never about the money, it was about seeing Veronica, Logan, Keith, Wallace, Mac, Dick, Weevil, and Piz again. Veronica Mars’ success will never be measured in dollar signs, but in whether or not the film made fans happy, and to that end it definitely succeeded.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 1

Starring

Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Detention)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Death Proof)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restless)
Corinne Bohrer (The Flash 90s)
Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables)
Lisa Thornhill (Agter The Sunset)
Kyle Secor (The Purge: Election Year)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Bradley Joseph (Stone & Ed)
Patrick Wolff (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Duane Daniels (Fashion House)
Jonathan Chesner (Bones)
Christian Clemenson (Apollo 13)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)
Wilmer Calderon (Fast & Furious)
Paris Hilton (House of Wax)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Bobby Edner (The Amanda Show)
Paula Marshall (Murder In The First)
Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Kyla Pratt (Dr. Dolittle)
Adam Wylie (Child’s Play 2)
Robert Baker (Supergirl)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Melissa Reneé Martin (The Secret Craft)
Lisa Rinna (Days of Our Lives)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Amanda Noret (Bunny Whipped)
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dar Thirty)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy: TVS)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Tina Majorino (Scorpion)
Erica Gimpel (God Friended Me)
Anastasia Baranova (Z Nation)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (That 70s Show)
Kevin Sheridan (Heart of Dixie)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Katie Leclerc (The Big Bang Theory)
Bridget Hoffman (Total Recall)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Jowharah Jones (Ugly Betty)
Ken Merckx (Masked Rider)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: TVS)
Cynthia LaMontagne (Austin Powers)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Home Improvement)
Erin Chambers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Last Man Standing)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)

Veronica Mars is set in Neptune, California, a town without a middle-class. Everyone’s either a millionaire or works for one, and the man largely responsible for Neptune’s unparalleled success is Jake Kane (Kyle Secor), the resident billionaire software mogul. Kane and his family are still reeling from the murder of his daughter Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) some months earlier, and as if that loss wasn’t enough, the beloved Kane family was doggedly pursued by a county sheriff convinced that they were hiding something. Public sentiment turned against Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), who was ousted from office and abandoned by his wife.Kristen Bell and Jessica Chastain in Veronica Mars (2004)Cue the title character. His daughter Veronica (Kristen Bell) had already lost her best friend with Lilly’s death, but standing by her father also cost Veronica her friends, her social status, her house…even her mother. Veronica had already been unceremoniously dumped by Lilly’s brother Duncan (Teddy Dunn) shortly before her friend’s murder, and a defiant visit to face her former friends at a party weeks later led to Veronica being drugged and raped. Despite having lost so much, Veronica is resilient enough to move on with her life, and as her father struggles to stay afloat as a private eye, Veronica puts her smarts and determination to work to help ease the caseload at Mars Investigations. She also puts her talents to use to help her classmates with their troubles — for a price, of course. To cap it all off, Veronica’s faced with a couple of her own mysteries to solve. What convinced Lianne Mars to abandon her family, and where is she now? Who was it who drugged and raped Veronica last December? Also, is her father right — did someone other than disgruntled Kane Software employee Abel Koontz murder Lilly? If there is, who orchestrated the conspiracy that led to Koontz’ confession and why?Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)The dialogue in Veronica Mars has the same sparkle as Joss Whedon’s work…arguably better, even, since Buffy sometimes sounded like a deliberate attempt to be hip, whereas Veronica Mars manages to be witty and clever without feeling quite so forced. The writing doesn’t skew as young as one might expect from a TV show set in a high school. If anything, the target audience seems to be twentysomething — I don’t know how many fifteen year olds would be able to appreciate references to Archie comics or 21 Jump Street, f’r instance. Characterization is another strength of the series, and part of the reason Veronica Mars works as well as it does is that the audience truly does care about the characters. Despite having a seemingly endless array of talents, Veronica isn’t some sort of idyllic Mary Sue. She’s not always right. Her investigations frequently take morally questionable turns. Things don’t always go the way she wants. Not every episode has a happy ending.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)Along with the cases that are solved in the space of forty minutes and change every week, a couple of mysteries are introduced in the pilot that are gradually explored throughout the entire length of the season. That’s right — unlike the hydra that is Lost, where answering one question spawns ten more, all of Veronica Mars’ mysteries are resolved by the time the season finale rolls around. (The finale tosses out a couple questions of its own, but if a second season hadn’t gotten the green light, it still would’ve been a fitting end to the series.)Veronica Mars has a capable cast to match the quality of the writing. Veronica is strong and cynical…bright and sarcastic…and even though all of the trauma she’s suffered over the past year has aged her somewhat, she’s still an emotionally vulnerable teenage girl.Kristen Bell and Alona Tal in Veronica Mars (2004)That’s a lot to juggle, but Kristen Bell is talented enough to make such a colossal task seem effortless and captivating enough to carry a show on her shoulders. Of course, Bell is joined by a strong enough supporting cast that she doesn’t have to shoulder it all herself.VM-S2D2_04After cutting down Wallace (Percy Daggs III), the new kid at school, who’d been stripped naked and duct taped to a flagpole, he and Veronica become best friends. In teen-TV land, it’s an immutable rule that people of different genders can’t just be pals…there’s this endless temptation to couple everyone. Veronica Mars manages to resist, resulting in one of the few platonic friendships like this left on television.Enrico Colantoni, who plays Veronica’s father, is another fan favorite, able to shift from warm, loving, and borderline-goofy to secretive and deadly serious when the situation calls for it. There’s also Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra), the leader of a local biker gang from the wrong side of the tracks who engages in some mutual backscratching with Veronica.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)The character who stands out the most — aside from Veronica, of course — is Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). Like Kristen Bell, Dohring is endlessly engaging. He’s introduced as an “obligatory psychotic jackass”, but as the season progresses, Logan’s humanized without being watered-down; even when he’s doing something as thoroughly loathesome as bribing a homeless vet to join in on his homebrew Bumfights video, there’s an undercurrent of understanding why Logan is the way he is. The character changes throughout the season, but the shift feels deserved and natural, not just because that’s what’s scrawled on the whiteboard in the writing room.Other guest stars throughout the season include Napoleon Dynamite’s Tina Majorino as computer whiz Mac, Aaron Ashmore as a love interest with a shady past, Logan’s movie star family (played by Harry Hamlin, Lisa Rinna, and Alyson Hannigan), Anthony Anderson, Zachary Ty Brian, Joey Lauren Adams, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and, in a shameless bit of stuntcasting, Paris Hilton. Kristen Bell and Francis Capra in Veronica Mars (2004)The fact that the second episode of Veronica Mars manages to be really good despite a Paris Hilton guest spot really is a testament to how good a series this is. Oh, and, in true Laura Palmer fashion, just because Lilly Kane is dead doesn’t mean that Amanda Seyfried can’t rear her head in nearly every other episode.The conclusion to most of the mysteries caught me by surprise. Throughout the entire season, the only time I correctly guessed the culprit was in “Lord of the Bling”, and even then, the motivation and execution were well out of my reach. The many twists the stories take are clever, and watching these episodes a second time, I could spot all sorts of clues and hints that didn’t seem that important the first time through. Veronica Mars is a series that’s easy to dive into as a marathon, but for viewers catching these episodes for the first time, I’d recommend drawing it out a bit.

REVIEW: HUMAN TARGET – SEASON 1

Starring

Mark Valley (Zero Dark Thirty)
Chi McBride (Hawaii Five-O)
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen)

Jackie Earle Haley, Chi McBride, and Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Donnelly Rhodes (Tron: Legacy)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon)
Adrian Holmes (smallville)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heores reborn)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Alvin Sanders (Riverdale)
Courtney Ford (Legends of Tomorrow)
Ali Liebert (Wonder)
Alessandro Juliani (Man of Steel)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Alex Fernandez (Devious Maids)
Christie Laing (Izombie)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
William Mapother (Lost)
Peter Bryant (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sarah Smyth (Supergirl)
Kristin Lehman (The Loft)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Chris Mulkey (Cloverfield)
Dylan Neal (Arrow)
Brandon Jay McLaren (Power Rangers SPD)
Ted Whittall (Suicide Squad)
Kevin Weisman (Runaways)
Autumn Reeser (Sully)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate: Atlantis)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Kris Marshall (Love Actually)
Kim Coates (Goon)
Samantha Ferris (The Tall Man)
Lennie James (The Walking Dead)
Eric Breker (X-Men Origins)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Kenneth Welsh (Miracle)
Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Ken Kirzinger (Freddy vs Jason)
Moon Bloodgood (Termiantor: Salvation)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Vincent Gale (Bates Motel)
Daniel Bacon (Stargate SG.1)
Steve Makaj (Arrow)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Christina Cole (JHex)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Kavan Smith (When Calls The HEart)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Mackenzie Gray (man of Steel)
Lee Majors (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)
Timothy Omundson (Xena)
Armand Assante (Judge Dredd)
Fiona Vroom (Power Rangers)

Mark Valley and Emmanuelle Vaugier in Human Target (2010)Human Target was definitely one of the most surprising new series this season. Comic book stories don’t often translate well to the small screen, but this one bucked all the trends and exceeded expectations by consistently producing hot action, fascinating characters, and a good number of laughs too.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)It started out with a pilot episode that wasted no time getting into the action. Fast paced events on a runaway train got things started with a bang. Right away, the series showed the kind of amazing action scenes that would make it an exciting watch every week. The second episode, “Rewind”, kept the pedal to the metal in an episode that had high-flying action on a plane, although things did get a little ridiculous with the plane flying upside down for an extended time.Peter Bryant and Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)The main characters quickly became fan favorites, thanks to witty dialogue and excellent acting work by the great trio of Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley. While Chance takes the lead in these episodes, his buddies (with shady pasts of their own) do a lot in their supportive roles. Winston and Guerrero have unique skills that are always employed in clever ways in the series, and they have a special kind of friendly-yet-combative relationship that provided most of the comedy relief in the show. The series also featured a number of intriguing guest stars, including many familiar faces from the sci-fi world. We saw Battlestar Galactica stars Tricia Helfer, Alessandro Juliani, Grace Park, and Donnelly Rhodes, along with two stars from The X-Files – Mitch Pillegi and a surprising appearance from William B. Davis (the infamous Cigarette Smoking Man).Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)At first, Human Target focused on a string of unrelated stories that followed the same effective formula—show the client, show the bad guys, have Chance and his pals save the day. But, although the standalone stories were entertaining, the “rescue of the week” routine quickly started to get tired, and the show often made heavy use of TV tropes and cliches (hot babes of the week, one dimensional antagonists, and slow motion explosions just to name a few). Fortunately, the show’s producers were aware of the limits of their plot devices and developed an overarching mythology that started to be revealed a few episodes into the season.Mark Valley in Human Target (2010)The story slowly started to turn into a tale of redemption, friendship, and life choices as the show gradually revealed bits and pieces of the backgrounds of the characters. In the beginning, there were just casual mentions of what the cast of main characters used to do. Then, in “Sanctuary”, the series mythology kicked into full gear with a side-story featuring Guerrero spying around in Chance and Winston’s files for a mysterious employer. This plot accomplished two things: it revealed a serious threat to Chance, and displayed Guerrero as ruthless when it comes to his job and his friends. Guerrero in general is a very different take on the “geeky computer spy” role, and his moment in the spotlight at the end of that episode really helped define the character. It’s a standout role that Jackie Earle Haley nailed every time.Further character development came in the form of a “bromance” between Winston and Chance that was detailed in “Corner Man”, and a personal vendetta with a former friend, coworker, and assassin named Baptiste that gave us our deepest look yet into what personally drives Chance.All of this buildup led us perfectly into the season finale, which exposed the history of the Christopher Chance name, and revealed all the players behind Chance’s past work and his change of heart. This was a well-crafted story that ended with a great cliffhanger. It’s a great setup for a second season, and let there be no doubt that this series does indeed deserve to be renewed. It’s interesting, exciting, and if it continues to improve, it could become a prime candidate to replace 24 as Fox’s top action show.

REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 4

iZombie (2015)

 

MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (American Gangster)
Rahul Kohli  (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)
Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Robert Knepper (Cult)

iZombie (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars)
Adam Kaufman (BUffy: TVS)
Jessica Harmon (The 100)
Bryce Hodgson (Kid Cannabis)
Robert Salvador (Arrow)
Jade Payton (Good Game)
Daniel Bacon (Stargate SG.1)
John Emmet Tracy (Fifty Shades Freed)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Linda Park (Star Trek Enterprise)
Jake Manley (The Order)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Ryan Devlin (Veronica Mars)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Christie Laing (Arrow)
Keenan Tracey (Bates Motel)
James Jordan (Veronica Mars)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Daniel Bonjour (After The Rain)
Adam Greydon Reid (Sanctuary)
Francis Capra (Veronica Mars)
Bar Paly (Pain & Gain)
Ella Cannon (Supernatural)
Eddie Jemison (Waitress)
Izabela Vidovic (Veronica Mars)
Adam Tsekhman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Carrie Anne Fleming (Supernatural)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Al Sapienza (House of Cards)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Maher Zickel (Bones)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Nemo Cartwright (Descendants)

 

Rose McIver in iZombie (2015)Across its first three seasons, iZombie was largely Veronica Mars with zombies and that was no bad thing. It was consistently entertaining, offered a fresh take on the overpopulated zombie genre and had a cast of characters you genuinely engaged with, not to mention a hugely underrated lead turn from Rose McIver, who absolutely nailed every single personality she was asked to inhabit.  From superhero-brain to old-man-brain and many more in between, Liv’s (McIver) various personalities after eating the brains of victims to solve their murders have been a large part of the show’s quirky charm.Robert Buckley, Rose McIver, Aly Michalka, and Rahul Kohli in iZombie (2015)Yet you had the sense it was always building to a game-changing event – which came in the season-three finale as the existence of zombies was revealed to the world. Following a time jump, season four started with Seattle becoming the walled city of New Seattle as the US government contained the zombie outbreak, setting up a season-long conflict between zombies and humans that looks set to explode in the season four finale.More importantly though, the season has upped the stakes for Liv, where she’s not just a crime-solving zombie any more, meaning that the ‘Brain of the Week’ structure has taken a bit of a backseat. It’s a big change that is good for the show, especially now that it’s been renewed for a fifth and final season by The CW.iZombie (2015)This season has seen Liv become the underground leader Renegade after the previous leader was brutally executed, smuggling sick humans into New Seattle and scratching them to save them so they can start a new life as a zombie. It’s put her in the sights of Fillmore-Graves, who are responsible for controlling the population in New Seattle, with the penultimate episode seeing her turn herself in to protect her boyfriend Levon (Daniel Bonjour). Liv’s arc has helped to keep the show fresh, immune to the problems of predictability that can affect long-running crime procedurals due to the repetitive structure. Instead we have a show whose morally complex central storyline has a genuine sense of peril – tricky when your main character is a zombie, even though we can’t imagine Liv will be killed off in the season-four finale.iZombie (2015)The big change hasn’t been without its issues, though, as some overstuffed episodes in the second half of season four struggled to find the right balance between quirky and serious. However, when the show could easily have rested on its laurels, it decided to change things up. Surely it’s better for an established show to rip up the status quo? It’s not like fans haven’t had the ‘Brain of the Week’ to enjoy, either, as Liv has savoured hopeless-romantic-brain, germaphobic-brain and pick-up-artist-brain among others, and the rest of the cast have got in on the act too (Major’s wrestler-brain remains a highlight). The only difference is that these are now just the delicious sides to the meatier main course of the season.b7dab6_928eb416b1fb4db898d56136b89713f0~mv2And with co-creator Rob Thomas revealing before the show was renewed that he needed just one more season to get to the “end of our story”, iZombie’s move into a more serialised storytelling can pay dividends in the final season as it’s clear that it’s all been building to a planned resolution.izombie-season-4-finale-1111048-1280x0That’s likely to be the discovery of a workable zombie cure, and Ravi had a breakthrough in the penultimate episode – but iZombie doesn’t need to be cured. It’s never felt more alive.

REVIEW: NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE

CAST

Chris Evans (Captain America)
Chyler Leigh (Supergirl)
Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Mia Kirschner (The Vampire Diaries)
Deon Richmond (Scream 3)
Eric Jungman (The Faculty)
Ron Lester (Varsity Blues)
Cody McMains (Bring It On)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)
Samm Levine (Pulse)
Cerina Vincent (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy)
Ed Lauter (The Number 23)
Mr. T (The A-Team)
Randy Quaid (Independence Day)
Molly Ringwald (Pretty In Pink)
Nathan West (The SKulls 2)
Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother)
George Wyner (American Pie 2)
Nick Bakay (That 70s Show)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina)
Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance)
Riley Smith (Eight Legged Freaks
JoAnna Garcia Swisher (The Internship)
Rob Benedict (BIrds of Prey)
Oz Perkins (Secretary)
H. Jon Benjamin (Wet Hot American Summer)

In the stereotypical high school community of John Hughes High in Southern California, sexy Priscilla (Jaime Pressly), a popular cheerleader, separates from her football star boyfriend, Jake Wyler (Chris Evans). After Jake discovers that Priscilla is now dating peculiar Les (Riley Smith) just to spite him, one of Jake’s friends, Austin (Eric Christian Olsen), suggests seeking retribution by turning Janey Briggs (Chyler Leigh), a “uniquely rebellious girl”, into the prom queen.

Jake attempts to court Janey’s love, but faces adversity from his own sister, Catherine (Mia Kirshner), who is sexually attracted to him; Janey’s unnoticed admirer and best friend, Ricky Lipman (Eric Jungmann); and memories from his past football career. Catherine eventually assists her brother by slightly altering Janey’s appearance (by simply removing her glasses and ponytail), instantly making her drop dead gorgeous.

Meanwhile, Janey’s younger brother, Mitch (Cody McMains), and his friends, Ox (Sam Huntington) and Bruce (Samm Levine), make a pact to lose their virginity by graduation despite still being in their freshman year. Mitch tries to impress his longtime crush, the beautiful yet perverted Amanda Becker (Lacey Chabert) with a letter professing his love for her. Bruce says that he does not have a chance with her, mockingly stating, “Keep dreaming!”
As the prom draws near, Jake draws infamy among his peers after he fails to lead his football team to victory at the state championship game the year before. The situation is further worsened when Austin tricks Jake into telling Janey about his plan to spite Priscilla by pretending to whisper the secret bet in Janey’s ear, causing her to immediately leave Jake. During prom night, Austin and Janey go together; a jealous Jake and Catherine have a dance-off with Austin and Janey, with Catherine dancing in a sexual manner. Janey runs off crying. Meanwhile, Mitch and his friends are having a lousy time at the prom until Amanda arrives and Mitch gives her the letter and Ox later hooks up with Catherine.

Jake is awarded prom king and the principal reads out that the votes for prom queen are tied. Everyone thinks that it is between Janey and Priscilla, but they are shocked to find that Kara and Sara Fratelli (Samaire Armstrong and Nectar Rose), twins conjoined at the head, win prom queen. During the traditional prom king and queen dance, Janey supposedly left with Austin to go to a hotel.

Jake goes to the hotel room where he finds Austin having wild sex with a girl but is shocked to find that it is Priscilla not Janey while the weird Les videotapes with his pants down supposedly having an erection, Austin tells Jake that Janey “ran home to her daddy”. Jake angrily punches Austin and Priscilla, knocking them out cold, for what they had done to Janey. He then punches Les for “being really weird” (he also punches a plastic bag that happens to be floating next to Les); afterwards he runs to Janey’s house only to learn from her father (Randy Quaid) that she is going to Paris for art school.

Jake arrives at the airport and confronts her before she can board the plane, and uses a plethora of clichéd lines from other movies (such as She’s All That, Cruel Intentions, American Pie, The Breakfast Club, American Beauty, 10 Things I Hate About You, Can’t Hardly Wait, and Pretty in Pink) to convince her to stay in America. His final (and only original) speech suggests they would be better off apart, but Janey mistakenly believes he is quoting The Karate Kid, and she decides to stay with him.This film is so funny great film very entertaining would recommend to any one if you want a good night in having a laugh

REVIEW: SUPERMAN RETURNS

CAST

Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Kate Bosworth (Wonderland)
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
James Marsden(X-Men)
Parker Posey (Blade: Trinity)
Frank Langella (All Good Things)
Sam Huntington (Fanboys)
Eve Marie Saint (On The Waterfront)
Marlon Brando (The Godfather)
Kal Penn (Van Wilder)
Tristan Lake Leabu (While The Children Sleep)
Jack Larson (Adventures of Superman)
Noel Neill (Superman 1948)
Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita)
Dan Ewing (Power Rangers RPM)

brandon-routh-in-superman-returnsSuperman Returns opens in a world without a Superman. The Man of Steel (Brandon Routh) left Earth without a word of warning, spending the past five years investigating the ruins of his home planet of Krypton. The world he left behind has suffered in his absence, prompting an embittered Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) to pen a Pulitzer Prize winning article titled “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman”. He’s able to return to his life in Metropolis as Clark Kent with ease, but the world he knew has changed. Lois now has a fiancé (James Marsden), the nephew of Daily Planet publisher Perry White (Frank Langella), and she’s also mother to a young, asthmatic son. Most of the world at large is thrilled to have Superman return as its savior with the exception, of course, of Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey). Fresh out of prison and flush with cash, Luthor has discovered Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and schemes to use its advanced alien technology to wipe out most of North America and create his own continent.Bryan Singer isn’t a director shamelessly trying to cash in on a high profile franchise. This is clearly a movie by someone with boundless passion for the material, and Superman Returns is a worthy follow-up to Richard Donner’s films. Singer has done a remarkable job staying true to Donner’s vision from a quarter-century earlier while still feeling rooted in the here and now. Most of the campier elements from the earlier movies have been gutted. Ned Beatty’s Otis has been discarded, and Superman Returns’s equivalent of Miss Teschmacher has been dialed down a few notches, even if the character is still ultimately useless. Kevin Spacey’s spin on Lex Luthor is faithful to Gene Hackman’s performance while having more of a menacing edge. Spacey’s Luthor seems like a genuine threat in Superman Returns, not just a wealthy, eccentric goof, and his eventual confrontation with the Man of Steel in the finale is wincingly brutal. I’m not entirely sure why he’s convinced a barren, uninhabitable rock of an island would have any resale value, but that’s beside the point.Taking the reins from the late Christopher Reeve after his near-legendary turn as such an iconic character must have been indescribably daunting, but Brandon Routh does a tremendous job as both Clark Kent and Superman. His Kent in particular is a seamless transition from where Reeve left off and is a pitch-perfect recreation of the nervous energy and awkwardness he brought to the character. Routh does play a very different Superman, however. Superman may be a strange being from another world, but Reeve exuded the kind of warmth you’d expect from someone embodying truth, justice, and the American way. Routh’s colder, more alien Superman is in keeping with the tone of the story, where he’s been removed from humanity for five years and feels detached from the world at large, but I didn’t feel nearly as strong an attachment to him.maxresdefault

Routh is about the same age that Reeve was when cameras started rolling on the original Superman film, but he looks so much younger that it’s easy to forget occasionally that this is supposed to be Superman Returns, not Superman Begins. I have some slight misgivings about the way Superman was handled in this film, but if the rumors of an impending sequel are true, I’m looking forward to seeing what Routh brings to the character the second time.
Kevin Spacey and Kal Penn in Superman Returns (2006)
With most action movies, it seems as if a small army of writers scattered themselves across a conference table, brainstormed the most elaborate, over the top, effects-driven sequences they could imagine, and then haphazardly tossed together a story to string ’em all together. I was left with the opposite reaction to Superman Returns. Singer paints Superman as some sort of messianic figure who’s a savior, not a fighter, and he literally doesn’t throw a punch in the entire movie. There are several phenomenal effects sequences that are certain to get pulses racing — the world’s re-introduction to Superman as he rescues a plane that’s careening into the stratosphere, steadying a crumbling Metropolis as Luthor sets his megalomaniacal scheme into motion, and sparing hundreds of millions from certain death in the film’s closing moments — but those really just see Superman intervening as disaster looms. Only a bank robbery has Superman struggling against an actual opponent, although even much of what happens there is passive; Superman just stands there and lets ricocheting bullets do the work for him. I’m not trying to downplay what an adrenaline rush these sequences are, but one of the most frequent criticisms of Superman Returns has been its lack of action. I admittedly did not find the movie at all dull despite the lack of Kryptonian soldiers or twenty story robots.Lois is in love with Superman but never felt it thanks to the utter lack of chemistry between Bosworth and Routh. At least Margot Kidder managed to sell Lois as a spunky reporter, but Bosworth doesn’t even attempt to capture that sort of tenacity. Bosworth also seems much too young for the role; she looks like she may have just gotten her undergraduate degree in Journalism, but a seasoned, Pulitzer Prize winning writer? Not so much. Bosworth is passable but instantly forgettable. Giving Lois a son also strikes me as a misfire. Hollywood has been churning out action sequels for decades now, and in the history of cinema, there have been two…maybe three…cases where adding a kid into the sequel wasn’t an unmitigated disaster. For some inexplicable reason, directors are determined to keep trying, and Lois’ wheezing tyke is as ill-conceived an idea as ever. Give the audience a little credit for being able to suss out the kid’s parentage from word one too.Bryan Singer’s sequel inhabits the same world as Richard Donner’s films, but the core of the story is almost excessively faithful to the original. A spaceship crashes to Earth from the long-dead planet of Krypton. Superman makes his presence known to the world by rescuing intrepid reporter Lois Lane from a mishap involving an aircraft. He later has a rooftop interview with Lois and whisks her across the night sky. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor schemes to cash in on the creation of new beachfront real estate at the cost of untold millions of lives, and he has his ditzy but good-hearted moll feign danger as a distraction for a theft. Luthor gets his hands on some Kryptonite to bring Superman to his knees near the climax, and it all ends with the Man of Steel soaring heroically into space. Roll credits.8610986058_9dfa00c53c_bI didn’t have a problem watching Superman Returns a few months after Donner’s Superman, but sitting through the two back-to-back would undoubtedly inspire a nasty case of déjà vu. Sometimes its adoration of Donner’s original works incredibly well, though. It’s a thrill to hear John Williams’ instantly recognizable orchestral score again, and reincorporating some digitally manipulated archival footage of Marlon Brando is a clever and effective touchstone.film_supermanreturns_featureimage_desktop_1600x900The movie is littered with subtle nods to various incarnations of Superman, from the casting of Noel Neill and Jack Larson to an homage to the cover of Action Comics #1 . For months, I’d heard Superman Returns praised, assaulted, analyzed, and dissected from every conceivable angle. It’s such a polarizing movie that I wasn’t sure what my reaction would be when I got around to seeing it, but I never expected to feel so completely indifferent. Superman Returns is a movie I appreciate on a great many levels, but for something so enormously anticipated, just being okay doesn’t seem like enough.

 

REVIEW: LOOK, UP IN THE SKY! THE AMAZING STORY OF SUPERMAN

look-up-in-the-sky-the-amazing-story-of-superman-tv-movie-poster-2006-1020448079

Starring

Kevin Spacey (Superman Returns)
Mark Hamill (Star wars)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Noel Neill (Atom Man vs Superman)
Jack Larson (Adventures of Superman)
Bill Mumy (Babylon 5)
Annette O’Toole (Smallville)
Adam West (Family Guy)
Margot Kidder (Superman)
Jackie Cooper (The People’s Choice)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush)
Sam Huntington (Fanboys)

Brandon Routh in Superman Returns (2006)The trick with releasing a documentary about the history of Superman a mere week before “Superman Returns” arrives in theaters: you don’t want to make it feel like one big commercial for the new movie; you need to find a healthy balance between fun and informative, being careful that you don’t wind up being fluffy or stuffy; you don’t want to make it feel like one big commercial for the new movie; you need to present enough new material so you’re not merely rehashing facts that everybody already knows and clips everybody’s already seen.George Reeves and Noel Neill in Adventures of Superman (1952)In fact, Burns goes the completely opposite route (although he does bring us Kevin Spacey, star of the New Hit Movie, for narration duties); in just under two hours, he and his crew offer up the most complete history of the character I’ve ever seen. We get it all in extreme detail, from Shuster and Siegel’s original “Super-Man” short story (the name was used to define an evil psychic) to long discussions on George Reeves and Christopher Reeve to DC Comics’ ups and downs with the character on the comics page. For the newcomer, you get a detailed examination of the Man of Steel’s many changes over the decades; for the hardcore Supes fanatic, you get ultra-rare clips of the 1950s “Superboy,” “Superpup” (in which little people wore dog costumes!), and the infamous musical comedy “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Superman!,” seen here in a television adaptation starring David Wilson, who could not dance, as a dancing Superman. (A word of warning: Think of the worst thing you can possibly imagine. Now think of something even worse than that. Push yourself hard to think up something even worse still. Beyond that, dear reader, you will find “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Superman!”)Kirk Alyn, Don C. Harvey, Jack Ingram, Noel Neill, and Lyle Talbot in Atom Man vs. Superman (1950)“Look, Up In the Sky!” works best in its first hour, when time is spent detailing the history of the comics, radio shows, cartoon shorts, serial, movie (“Superman and the Mole Men”), and TV series – perhaps because by the time we turn our attention to the 1978 film “Superman,” we’ve seen a lot of this stuff before, either in previous documentaries or as DVD bonus features, unlike the earlier projects, whose behind-the-scenes shenanigans have remained relatively unseen. When the movie spends plenty of time on the Reeve era, one gets the feeling that Burns is holding back, perhaps not wanting this portion of the timeline (with its ample archival material) to overshadow the rest of the story, perhaps not to repeat too much of what’s already been seen elsewhere, or perhaps to leave a little something for the supplemental sections of the forthcoming deluxe DVD releases.Christopher Reeve in Superman II (1980)Also, the documentary struggles in how to deal with the rest of the Reeve era. How to discuss Richard Donner being replaced on “Superman II” with Richard Lester without making either Donner or producer Ilya Salkind (who, after all, were both kind enough to be interviewed for this film) look bad? How to discuss the negative responses to “Superman III” and “IV” without delivering a drubbing so terrible that potential customers might not want the box set come autumn? Heck, how to discuss “Superman III” and “IV” without showing any of the behind-the-scenes material that made the look into the first movie so interesting? And what do you do with “Supergirl,” a movie for which Warner Bros. obviously declined any effort in obtaining rights, other than to brush it off with a couple sentences of narration and a few stock photos?Christopher Reeve in Superman II (1980)By the time we hit the late 1980s, it becomes obvious that Burns has become rushed for time yet is obligated to tow the company line – he glosses over such important information as John Byrne’s critical 1986 relaunching of the character, while giving plenty of extra attention to the late-80s syndicated series “Superboy,” a show nobody remembers that much, but hey, Warner Bros. just released the first season on DVD, so we better hype it up.Richard Pryor, Christopher Reeve, Larry Lamb, and Christopher Malcolm in Superman III (1983)We get an awkward potpourri, with Burns taking the time to discuss such important matters as the death (and, natch, rebirth) of Superman and the wedding of Clark and Lois, both which temporarily helped to boost comics sales, but then becoming very unsure as to how to handle the 1996 animated series and its follow-ups, concluding with the current “Justice League Unlimited” cartoon. (Both are mentioned, but in an ill-fitting obligatory tone.) “Lois & Clark” also gets a solid mention, but it again feels as if Burns is walking on tiptoes, trying to avoid anything that might wind up on a future DVD collection. (There’s also an extremely odd breakaway to discuss 9/11, which gets tied back to Superman in the flimsiest of manners, as if Burns is now simply grasping wildly in an attempt to retain some connection with the viewer, or show the relevance of a character that at the time wasn’t much in the pop culture forefront.)Annette O'Toole, Christopher Reeve, and Paul Kaethler in Superman III (1983)The last chunk is spent singing the praises of “Smallville” and “Superman Returns,” and it’s here that it becomes very clear that the movie should’ve stopped somewhere around the mid-90s mark. There’s not enough distance to properly analyze the impact of “Smallville,” and the facts get purposely fudged to make the series feel more important than future generations may believe. (Getting the largest ratings of all shows on the WB sounds more impressive than it really is.) Without any chance at hindsight, there’s no proper way to honestly gauge how the series fits into the history of the character, but instead of omitting anything, Burns merely turns on the hard sell.Brandon Routh in Superman Returns (2006)And then comes “Superman Returns,” and Burns is left with the unfortunate job of pushing it without sounding like he’s pushing it, showing clips without giving away too much, making this present-day release sound like part of history. (Most awkward moment: Spacey refers to himself in the third person.) On the plus side, you do get to see the crazed ramblings of producer Jon Peters, who admits to having had some very bad ideas in his decade-long trek in bringing Superman back to the big screen; one wonders if anybody slipped him a copy of “An Evening With Kevin Smith” as a wake-up call.