REVIEW: THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Jeff Daniels (The Martian)
Naomi Watts (Birdman)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Bill Skarsgard (Hemlock Grove)
Jonny Weston (Project Almanac)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Xander Berkeley (Poison Ivy 2)

Many Chicago citizens run towards the wall, but soldiers under Evelyn (Naomi Watts) are told to shut down the perimeter, and thus, no one is allowed through. Evelyn directs Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim) of Candor to hold trials for the Erudite and Dauntless conspirators, in which a number of them becoming executions, starting with Max (Mekhi Phifer). Evelyn and Johanna (Octavia Spencer) attempt to pressure Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) into taking leadership positions in the new coalition, but both refuse. After seeing that the hostile situation within the city is only going to get worse, Tris escapes with Four, Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Tori (Maggie Q), and Peter (Miles Teller) to journey beyond the wall that encloses Chicago. However, Tori is killed by Edgar (Jonny Weston) in the attempt.  The group is ambushed by Edgar, who is later disabled by an armed group of individuals and airships. The soldiers take the group to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, a highly advanced city where they learn that years ago the government believed that society’s problems were caused by “damaged genes”. In an attempt to create a better society, they began to modify people’s genes, with disastrous results. The government set up “experiments” in an attempt to repair this mistake, establishing isolated cities across the remains of the United States. The hope is to raise enough genetically pure Divergent individuals to fix the “genetic damage” left in the wake of the Purity War.

Tris and Four are tested by Matthew (Bill Skarsgård) and Nita (Nadia Hilker) to verify and study their Divergence. Tris is shown to be truly Divergent, but Four’s genetic structure indicates that his genes are still “damaged”. Caleb and Peter are assigned to surveillance teams that monitor Chicago. Matthew then brings Tris to the leader of the Bureau, David (Jeff Daniels). David gives Tris a device that allows her to view her mother’s memories, and sees that her mother was rescued and adopted by the Bureau before volunteering to join the Chicago experiment out of dedication to the project. In return for his help in restoring peace to Chicago, Tris agrees to help David, who claims that only the council he reports to has the power to intervene.

Meanwhile, Four and Christina train with Nita and joins the Bureau’s military force. They join the military on a rescue mission to a nearby wasteland village, though Four becomes mistrusting of the Bureau’s intentions after realizing that they are going there to kidnap and forcefully integrate children into the Bureau’s populace. Upon their return, Four discreetly petitions Caleb to keep an eye on the situation in Chicago. Four also attempts to warn Tris of the Bureau’s intentions, but she rejects his ideas.

Caleb warns Four of a rapidly escalating conflict back in Chicago between Johanna’s group of Allegiants and Evelyn’s factionless, with open war becoming an imminent threat. Four appeals to Tris for her to return to Chicago with him to end the bloodshed, but she decides to go with David to Providence to meet with the council. David agrees to reinsert Four back in Chicago, escorted by Matthew and some Bureau soldiers. Once in the air, Matthew quietly reveals to Four that the flight is a trap and he is meant to be killed. A skirmish breaks out and Four defeats all of the soldiers, though the airship crashes as a result. Matthew betrays David by helping Four get through the cloak wall. Four proceeds to Chicago while Matthew remains behind to be rescued by the Bureau and warn Tris.

Meanwhile, Tris and David meet with the council. Tris disagrees with the council’s objectives and criticizes how they have done nothing to stop the violence in Chicago. The council responds that David had the power to intervene whenever he desires, revealing that he has lied to her from the beginning. During the return flight to the Bureau, Tris ends their partnership. Upon her return, she gathers Caleb and Christina in David’s airship to return to Chicago, and Nita helps them escape. Four is captured by the factionless and confronts Evelyn to end the violence although she shows no intention of standing down. Tris, Caleb, and Christina arrive to find the city tearing itself apart at the opening stage of a full assault by the Allegiant. David makes a deal with Peter in exchange for Peter’s promotion and inserts him into Chicago to convince Evelyn to deploy a hidden Bureau stockpile of gas to wipe the memories of the attackers and force a peace in her favor, to which she reluctantly agrees. Peter takes her to a vault where she can deploy the gas across the city but remain safe herself, making her the only individual in Chicago who will remember any of those events.

Tris and Christina fight through the factionless and arrive at the vault, having rescued Four along the way. At the vault door, Four convinces Evelyn to stop the gas attack, as he wouldn’t remember who she was if she carried it out. She folds and stops the release, and is shot by a frustrated Peter. Peter gloats in his victory until the same gas starts releasing inside the vault as well. Realizing David has betrayed him, Peter opens the vault so Tris and Four can stop the gas release and flees back towards the cloak wall, as Four says he will make him pay for badly wounding his mother.

Caleb arrives and aids Tris in destroying the gas dispersion hub, stopping the release. The main characters gather atop the Erudite building as they watch the stolen shuttle fly back towards the Bureau, heavily laden with explosives. Tris transmits a message to the whole city, revealing to them the existence of the Bureau and that Chicago was an experiment of the Pure. Her message to the Bureau is that Chicago is no longer their experiment, but the home of its citizens. Caleb detonates the explosives at the end of the message, tearing a massive hole through the cloak wall and revealing the two cities to each other. The film ends with the Chicago characters gazing at the Bureau in the distance, with David standing behind Tris via his machine, glaring at her.I really enjoyed this film.I love Tobias and Tris’ relationship, the challenges they face and the way they overcome this with the help of other characters. I think this movie, more than the previous two, really cemented the personalities of some of the other significant characters so we can become more invested in them and I really appreciated this touch. The movie is also shot beautifully. The only downside to the film is that its only the first half of the book we have to wait till next year for the final part.

Advertisements

REVIEW: THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Kate Winslet (Quills)
Naomi Watts (Birdman)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Jai Courtney (Terminator Genysis)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Maggie Q (The King of Fighters)
Tony Goldwyn (Ghost)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Justin Leak (Powers)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Jonny Weston (Project Almanac)
Suki Waterhouse (Pride and Predjudice and Zombies)

Five days after the assault on the Abnegation faction by Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her mind-controlled Dauntless soldiers, Jeanine has declared martial law and that the Divergents – those with the qualities of multiple factions – and those allied with them are the enemy. Among the Abnegation wreckage, Dauntless leader Eric (Jai Courtney) and his platoon recover a five-sided box: each side has a faction symbol. Jeanine presumes it contains data from the city’s founders and the means to end the Divergence problem. As only a Divergent is capable of opening the box, she orders the capture of all Divergents.
Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) hide within the Amity compound. Soon after, Eric and his fleet arrive to test all the occupants for Divergence. Peter gives up the group’s location as Tris, Four, and Caleb escape and board a train headed into Factionless territory. After fights with the Factionless aboard, Four reveals his name–Tobias Eaton–which prompts the Factionless to stand down and reply that they have been searching for him.
Four, Tris and Caleb are given amnesty at Factionless. There, Tris and Caleb discover that the Factionless leader is Four’s mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts). She suggests that Dauntless and Factionless should ally against Erudite, but Four declines. The next morning, the three leave Factionless for Candor to meet up with the remaining Dauntless; during the trek, Caleb tells his sister Tris that he cannot continue with them and goes in a different direction. Upon arrival, Tris and Four are arrested and brought before Candor leader Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), who intends to deliver them to Jeanine. However, Four pleads for Jack to conduct a trial in Candor with the use of truth serum. During the trial, Four communicates his motives and is absolved. Tris tearfully admits her guilt in shooting and killing Will, which angers Christina.
Candor is attacked by the Dauntless who have sided with Eric, and many people are shot with pellets of new simulation serum. Tris is captured by Eric who learns she has a Divergence reading of 100%, making her the perfect subject to open the box. Eric arrests Tris, but Four and the Factionless allies arrive to save her. After a brief exchange, Four shoots Eric in the head for the murder of hundreds of people. Back at Erudite, Jeanine, frustrated that none of the Divergent subjects have survived the simulation trials required to open the box, is approached by Peter, who pledges his loyalty to Erudite, and suggests the best way to get Tris to surrender is by exploiting her humanity.
Back at the Factionless base, Four reluctantly agrees with Evelyn that war is inevitable and that they need to prepare. Jeanine activates the pellets, causing Christina, Marlene and Hector to repeatedly chant that Tris must turn herself in or more death will follow, as they step closer and closer to the edge of a tall structure. Tris and Tori then climb the sides of the roof as Tris rescues Christina and Tori, Hector. However, Marlene plunges to her death. Overcome by guilt, Tris decides to turn herself in. That night, she and Four sleep together, and then she quietly slips away.
Upon arrival at the Erudite headquarters, Tris is immediately arrested. She agrees to undergo the trials provided that the suicides cease. Tris overcomes four of the trials, however, when her vitals drop, Jeanine reluctantly halts the simulation so that Tris can rest. Tris then discovers that they have captured Four. She fails the final trial and her vital signs cease. Her body is wheeled over to Four’s cell so the latter can mourn, but when she awakens, Peter assists Four in overpowering the guards, revealing that he had faked her death by injecting her with a sleep serum. Tris is determined to open the box and find the truth about its message; she and Four head to the simulation room, while Peter returns to the control room to secretly grant them security access.
Overcoming the final trial, Tris successfully opens the box. A woman explains that the walled city and faction system is actually an experiment they devised, that the Divergents are actually the success of the experiment, and that the world is waiting outside for them to return to humanity. Realizing she has lost all her power, Jeanine orders that the box be buried and that Four and Tris be executed. However, the Factionless army breaks into the simulation room to rescue Tris and Four. Jeanine and Caleb are arrested. The message from the box is broadcast to the entire city. Tris is hailed as a hero by the masses, eager to explore the world beyond the wall. As Jeanine looks out from her cell, she states that after 200 years since the city was enclosed, there is no telling what awaits them beyond it. Evelyn tells her that she will never find out and kills her.Insurgent is a fantastic follow up to Divergent, however I would recommend watching one after the other. Everyone was awesome in their roles, once again Kate and Shailene shone. But I also loved Octavia as she really showed what a true Amity leader would be like. I also loved when they went into Candor where Tris and Four were on trial. Props to Robert Schwentke for a perfect sequel that (like its predecessor) has you craving more.

REVIEW: DIVERGENT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Kate Winslet (Quills)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Jai Courtney (Terminator Genysis)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Tony Goldwyn (Ghost)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Maggie Q (The King of Fighters)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)

In a futuristic dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intellectual). The remaining population are the Factionless, who have no status or privilege in this society. When children reach the age of 16, they undergo a serum-induced psychological aptitude test which indicates their best-suited faction, though they are allowed to choose any faction as their permanent group at the subsequent Choosing Ceremony.

Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) was born into Abnegation, which runs the government. Her father, Andrew Prior (Tony Goldwyn), serves on the ruling council along with the head of Abnegation, Marcus Eaton (Ray Stevenson). Beatrice takes her test with a Dauntless woman named Tori Wu (Maggie Q) as her proctor. Her results show equal attributes of multiple factions, meaning she is Divergent. Her divergence includes Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. Tori records her results as Abnegation and warns her to keep the true result a secret, saying that because Divergents can think independently the government cannot control them and they are considered threats to the existing social order.

The next day at the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice’s brother Caleb Prior (Ansel Elgort) chooses Erudite. After some indecision, Beatrice defects to Dauntless. After the ceremony, Beatrice meets Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Al (Christian Madsen), and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), three other initiates from other factions who also chose Dauntless. Christina and Al are from Candor, and Will is from Erudite. The initiates’ commitment and fearlessness are immediately tested, and Eric Coulter (Jai Courtney), a brutal Dauntless leader, makes it clear that anyone not meeting Dauntless’ high expectations will be expelled from the faction to become Factionless. Beatrice is the first to volunteer for a leap of faith from a tall building into a dark hole, landing in a net. When Four (Theo James), a transfer initiates’ instructor, asks her name, she shortens it to “Tris” leaving her Abnegation childhood behind.

Tris initially struggles in Dauntless training, ranking far below the cutoff after the first evaluation, but with Four’s help slowly improves. Eric matches her against her nemesis — Peter (Miles Teller) in a fight. Tris is soundly defeated and wakes up in the infirmary. Informed that she will miss the most important test, Capture The Flag, Tris leaves the infirmary and joins the other initiates, secures her team’s victory, and makes the final cut.

In the next phase of training, the initiates face their worst fears in psychological simulations. Divergents are resistant to serums and simulations, so Tris excels at these tests, solving them in peculiar ways, but Four warns her to solve the challenges as a normal Dauntless would in order to hide her abilities. Tris visits Caleb, who tells her that Erudite is planning to overthrow Abnegation and become the ruling faction. On her return to Dauntless quarters, Tris is attacked by Al, Peter, and Drew before being rescued by Four. The next day Al pleads for Tris’ forgiveness but she refuses, calling him a coward. He later kills himself by jumping into “The Chasm” rather than live with the shame.

To prepare her for the final test, Four takes Tris into his own fear simulations, where she learns that he was Tobias Eaton, the son of Marcus Eaton. After the simulation, they kiss. Tris then passes her test and is officially initiated into Dauntless. The rest of the Dauntless are injected with a serum supplied by Erudite which is supposedly for tracking, but is actually for mind control. The next morning, the Dauntless prepare to execute Abnegations by the orders of the Erudites. Divergents are unaffected by the new serum, so Tris must blend in to avoid suspicion. She finds Four, who reveals himself as a Divergent. While the Dauntless move to raid Abnegation, Tris and Four separate from the group and attempt to locate Tris’ parents, but Eric realises Four is not under control and captures the two. Four is taken into custody while Tris is ordered to be executed. Her mother Natalie (Ashley Judd) appears and liberates her but is shot dead as they flee.

Tris finds her father in hiding with several Abnegations including Caleb and Marcus. The group sneaks into Dauntless headquarters, where Tris encounters Peter and forces him to lead them to Erudite’s control center. Her father sacrifices himself in a shootout, and Tris goes in alone to find Four, who is now under stronger mind control designed for Divergents and attacks her. Using her knowledge of his fears, she manages to wake him from the mind control and the two enter the central control room, where Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is about to have the Dauntless army execute the entire Abnegation faction. Tris uses a sample of the mind control serum on her to force her to cancel the program. The group escapes the compound and boards a train out of the complex.

A great start to a superb franchise. Unlike many science-fiction stories, the narrative is focused on the main character’s journey as she tries to identify where she fits in a post-war world. It is therefore fortunate the the main character is very well acted, and this film is more about her journey than about the wider societal issues that form the ending. The film is also nicely grounded despite it being set centuries in the future, so there is little in the form of distracting CGI visuals. it’s refreshing to have a nicely fleshed out world that feels real.

REVIEW: THE DESCENDANTS

CAST

George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Shailene Woodley (Divergent)
Amara Miller (1600 Penn)
Nick Krause (Boyhood)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Robert Forster (Heroes)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)

Matthew “Matt” King (George Clooney) is a Honolulu-based attorney and the sole trustee of a family trust of 25,000 pristine acres on Kauai island. The land has great monetary value, but is also a family legacy. While Matt has always ably managed his own finances, most of his cousins have squandered their inheritances. With the trust expiring in seven years due to the rule against perpetuities, the King clan is pressuring Matt to sell the land for hundreds of millions of dollars. Amidst these discussions, a boating accident has rendered Matt’s wife, Elizabeth, comatose.
With Elizabeth hospitalized, Matt is forced to cope with his two troubled daughters, 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) who seeks attention by bullying other children, and 17-year-old Alex (Shailene Woodley) who has a history of substance abuse and is away at a private boarding school on the Big Island. Doctors determine that Elizabeth’s coma is irreversible and her living will directs all life support to be discontinued. When Matt tells Alex, she reveals that Elizabeth was having an affair at the time of the accident, causing a major rift between mother and daughter.
Two close family friends tell Matt that Elizabeth was unhappy and wanted to leave him for her lover, Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard), a real estate agent. After Matt arranges for friends to bid Elizabeth goodbye, he decides Speer should also have an opportunity. He and the girls, and also Alex’s slacker boyfriend Sid (Nick Krause), travel to Kauai to find Brian. While there, Matt’s cousin, Hugh (Beau Bridges) mentions that Brian is brother-in-law to Don Hollitzer, the developer to whom the family wants to sell the land. Brian stands to make a small fortune from the sales commission.
Matt confronts Brian and informs him Elizabeth is dying and offers him an opportunity to see her one last time. Brian declines, admitting that although Elizabeth was in love with him, it was only a fling to him; he loves his wife, Julie (Judy Greer) and their children, then apologizes to Matt for the pain he caused. When Elizabeth is disconnected from life support, her father, Scott (Robert Forster) admonishes Matt for not being a more generous and loving husband. Choosing not to disclose the details of her affair to Scott, Matt agrees, but Sid and Alex both unexpectedly defend Matt.
At the King family meeting, Matt overrules the majority of his cousins who favor selling to Hollitzer. Matt decides to keep the land and look for a different solution to the problem posed by the Rule Against Perpetuities. Shocked, Hugh tells Matt that he and the other cousins will take legal action if Matt refuses to sell, but Matt is undeterred. Julie, after learning of Brian’s affair with Elizabeth and realizing that he will not visit, comes to the hospital, partly feeling that decency obliges her to. She tearfully admits to Elizabeth that she wants to hate her for “trying to destroy” her family, but that she forgives her.

Matt finally comes to terms with his wife’s betrayal and her impending death. He tenderly kisses her goodbye, followed by Alex and Scottie, and later, scatter Elizabeth’s ashes in the ocean off Waikiki. The film concludes with the three at home sitting together sharing ice cream and watching television, all wrapped in the Hawaiian quilt Elizabeth had been lying in.

A Very interesting, multi-faceted film about life, basically. In parts funny,tearful, tragic and angry. Each actor portraying their character superbly. A uniquely understated performance from Clooney. Some really nice music and the Hawaiian location is wonderful. It’s not a romance or a comedy, it’s just a very thoughtful film.

REVIEW: COLD CASE – SEASON 1-7

CAST

Kathryn Morris (Mindhunters)
Justin Chambers (Grey’s Anatomy)
Danny Pino (Law & Order:SVU)
John Finn (True Crme)
Jeremy Ratchford (Angel Eyes)
Thom Barry (Texas Chainsaw)
Tracie Thoms (Looper)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Kate Mara (Fantastic Four)
Becki Newton (Ugly Betty)
Brett Cullen (Lost)
Jimmi Simpson (Date Night)
Daisy McCrackin (Halloween: Resurrection)
Lacey Beeman (Power Rangers Time Force)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Vincent Ventresca (Dollhouse)
Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Barbara Tarbuck (American Horror Story)
Laura Regan (Minorty Report TV)
Christina Cox (Arrow)
Silas Weir Mitchell (My Name Is Earl)
Fredric Lehne (Lost)
Jeffrey Nording (Flight 93)
Josh Hopkins (The Perfect Storm)
Robert LaSardo (Nip/Tuck)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Chelsea Field (Masters of The Universe)
Marc McClure (Superman)
Geoffrey Lewis (The Devil’s Rejects)
Leslie Silva (Odyssey 5)
Garrett M. Brown (Kick-Ass)
Molly Cheek (American Pie)
Autumn Reeser (The OC)
Amanda Wyss (Highlander: The Series)
Robin Riker (Big Love)
Nichole Hiltz (Bones)
Amber Benson (Buffy)
Maggie Grace (Lost)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Marisol Nichols (Felon)
Mehcad Brooks (Supergirl)
Cameron Dye (Smallville)
Lee Garlington (Flashforward)
Michael Pare (Bloodrayne 3)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
John Kassir (Pete’s Dragon)
Patty McCormack (The Bad Seed)
Barbara Niven (The Rat Pack)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars)
Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
Mae Whitman (The Duff)
Aloma Wright (Scrubs)
Shirley Knight (As Good As It Gets)
Ian Bohen (Hercules: TLJ)
Jenna Fischer (The Office)
Chadwick Boseman (Captain America: Civil War)
Rance Howard (A Beautiful Mind)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Gotham)
Roxanne Hart (Highlander)
Chad Lindberg (Teh Fast and The Furious)
Daveigh Chase (S. Darko)
Virginia Williams (Fairly Legal)
Chad Donella (Smallville)
Nicki Aycox (Roadkill 2)
Bob Papenbrook (Jeepers Creepers 2)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Johnny Whitwroth (Empire Records)
Danielle Harris (Halloween 2007)
Michael O’Neil (Roswell)
Amy Sloan (The Aviator)
Brigid Brannagh (Angel)
Andrea Savage (Izombie)
Meredith Salenger (Lake Placid)
Clare Carey (Hercules: TLJ)
Dana Davis (Heroes)
Dee Wallace (ET)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
Bradley Stryker (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Piper Laurie (Carrie)
Tessa Thompson (Veronica Mars)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)
Sarah Brown (VR Troopers)
Brooke Anne Smith (Misschief Night)
Kristin Richardson (Lost)
Lindsay Hollister (Bluberella)
Nick Wechsler (Roswell)
Mimi Kennedy (Mom)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
April Grace (Lost)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Jon Huertas (Sabrina: TTW)
Phillip Jeanmarie (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Michael Grant Terry (Bones)
Deborah Van Valkenburgh (Mean Guns)
Robin Weigert (Deadwood)
James Handy (Alias)
Megan Follows (Reign)
Zachary Ty Bryan (Fast and Furious 3)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Meagen Fay (The Big Banng Theory)
Priscilla Pointer (The Flash 90s)
Tina Holmes (Taken)
Jeremy Davidson (Roswell)
Brennan Elliott (Paul Blart: Mall Cop)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heroes)
Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood)
George Coe (Smallville)
Laura Bell Bundy (Scream Queens)
John Rubenstein (Angel)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
K Callan (Lois & CLark)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Peter Graves (Airplane 2)
Stacy Haiduk (Superboy)
Dale Dickey (Iron Man 3)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Kenny Johnson (Bates Motel)
Kyle Gallner (Veronica Mars)
Nestor Carbonell (The Dark Knight)
L. Scott Caldwell (Lost)
Neil Jackson (Alexander)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Rutanya Alda (Amityville 2)
George Newbern (Justice League)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Eugene Robert Glazer (La Femme Nikita)
John Aylward (Alias)
Bobby Hosea (Xena)
Charles Mesure (V)
Conor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Sonja Sohn (The Originals)
Thomas Ian Girffiths (XXX)
Polly Shannon (Lie With Me)
Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries)
Jake McDorman (Limitless TV)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Lucinda Jenney (Rain Man)
Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Greg Finley (Izombie)
Paula Malcomson (Caprica)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Faran Tahir (Iron Man)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Whitney Able (Monsters)
AnnaLynne McCord (Excision)
Drew Powell (Gotham)
Erin Cahill (Power Rangers Time Force)
Carolyn McCormick (Enemy Mine)
Michael Massee (Flashforward)
Helena Mattsson (Iron Man 2)
Lynda Boyd (Sanctuary)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Cynthia Ettinger (Thirteen)
Bonnie Root (Home Invasion)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Shailene Woodley (Divergent)
Danielle Bisutti (Curse of Chucky)
Monet Mazur (Blow)
Justin Bruening (Knight Rider 2008)
Daphne Ashbrook (The Love Letter)
Rodney Rowland (Veronica Mars)
James Black (Anger Management)
Ralph Waite (Bones)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)
Jamil Walker Smith (Stargate Universe)
Jonathan Keltz (Reign)
Justin Hartley (Smallville)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creeprs 2)
Nikki Deloach (The Net 2.0)
Deirdre Lovejoy (Bones)
Keone Young (Crank)
Kim Coates (The Amityville Curse)
Timothy Omundson (Xena)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Kathleen Munroe (Stargate Universe)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Brea Grant (Heroes)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Nichole Tom (Gotham)
M.C. Gainey (LosT)
James Karen (Hercules In New York)
Justin Leak (Powers)
Sean O’ Bryan (The Princess Diaries)
Cassidy Freeman (Smallville)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Jenna Leigh Green (Sabrina: TTW)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Joel Murray (Two and a Half Men)
Elena Satine (Revenge)
Nicole Bilderback (Buffy)
Erin Cummings (Spartacus)
Tania Raymonde (Lost)
Jonathan LaPaglia (Seven Days)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Christine Woods (Flashforward)
Lee Majors (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Lindy Booth (Cry Wolf)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Raymond J. Barry (Lost)
Ttaylor Cole (Heroes)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Courtney Ford (True Blood)
David Starzyk (Veronica mars)
Bailey Chase (Buffy)
Wynn Everett (Agent Carter)
Brad Greenquist (Heroes)
Katherine LaNasa (Lie To Me)
Jeff Fahey (Planet Terror)
Clayne Crawford (Roswell)
Brit Morgan (Supergirl)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronciles)
Victoria Pratt (Mutant X)
Ryan Wynott (The Cape)
Jonathan Schaech (Legends of Tomorrow)
Valerie Azlynn (Julia X)
Muse Watson (I Know What You did Last Summer)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Daniel Baldwin (Vampires)
Ashley Johsnon (Dollhouse)
Erin Chambers (Finding Carter)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Chris Browning (Supergirl)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Steven Culp (Jason Goes To Hell)
Meagan Good (D.E.B.S)
Steven Williams (The X-Files)
Loretta Devine (Crash)
Yara Shahidi (Ugly Betty)
Nelson Lee (Blade: The Series)
Steven Krueger (The Originals)
Lolita Davidovich (Santa Fe)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Chandra West (White Noise)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Justina Vail (Highlander: The Series)
Rachel Miner (the Butterfly Effect )
Sean Maguire (Meet The Spartans)
Lauren Cohan (Chuck)
Roddy Piper (They Live)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
John D’Aquino (Seaquest)
Azura Skype (28 Days)
Johnny Messner (Anacondas)
Rob Benedict (Birds of Prey)
JR Bourne (Stargate SG.1)

I’m glad I got the opportunity to catch this show. It’s no doubt one of the best shows on TV, between 2003-2010. it was a very well written show. The episodes always has their twist even though the cases, at first sight, might seem pretty much alike. This show captures the individuality of each crime, the persons involved and the surroundings in a very good way.The fact that the crimes have been committed years ago and that everything involved has changed over the time, gives this show something different then every other cop show. It also captures the humanity of both the victims the suspects and the investigators. There are a lot of feeling in it and it often gets rather touching. Some episodes might contain elements from the characters personal life. It just gives the characters a life beyond the job and this is good as it never takes over the episode or is used to cover a bad plot. The show involves several investigators and you get to know them as well. They got lives and personalities too, yet they don’t steal the show from Rush, witch in the end is the star of the show.The cast is great. Kathryn Morris does a great job portraying Rush. The cinematography and lightning of this show is just beautiful. It all looks great. Both scenes from past and present. They have given the show a unique look. A kind of white or blue, cold look. They also manage to capture the unique eras in witch the crime was committed. You know just by looking witch decade we’re in. It’s the colors, the way they shoot, the quality and the overall look that make this. The art director, production designer, costume etc. deserves credit for this too. Making the sets and such fit the era.

The original music of this show it catching and good. In addition there is a lot of none original music from the year the crimes are committed. This really gives the right feel and easy gives you the idea of witch year we’re in. The only downside to the use of music of the era means that copyright laws prohibit them being used on DVD and this is why the show has yet come to disc.

REVIEW: MY NAME IS EARL – SEASON 1-4

MAIN CAST

Jason Lee (Dogma)
Ethan Suplee (Mallrats)
Jaime Pressly (Mom)
Nadine Velazquez (War)
Eddie Steeples (Raising Hope)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Leo Fitzpatrick (Bully)
Gregg Binkley (Galaxy Quest)
Dale Dickey (Iron Man 3)
Carson Daly (Josie and The Pussycats)
Trace Adkins (The Virginian)
Silas Weir Mitchell (Birds of Prey)
Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives)
Tracy Ashton (Stuck on You)
Jesse Heiman (ChucK)
Dax Shepard (Zathura)
Montel Williams (Golden Shoes)
Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar)
Abdoulaye NGom (VR Troopers)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
Timothy Stack (Cast Away)
Chloe Grace Moretz (The Fifth Wave)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Kristina Hayes (Expelled)
Beau Bridges (Stargate SG.1)
Niecy Nash (The Soul Man)
Blake Clark (50 First Dates)
Brett Butler (Anger Management)
John Ducey (Sabrina: TTW)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Jeremy Howard (Accepted)
Lindsay Hollister (Bluberella)
Jessica Cauffiel (White Chicks)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Adam Goldberg (Deja Vu)
Christine Taylor (Zoolander)
Samm Levine (Veronica Mars)
Ben Falcone (New Girl)
Timothy Olyphant (Go)
Malcolm David Kelley (Lost)
Juliette Lewis (Some Girl)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Geoffrey Lewis (The Devil’s Rejects)
Miriam Shor (Bedazzled)
Shailene Woodley (Divergent)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Burt Reynolds (Boogie Nights)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Marlee Matlin (Reasonable Doubts)
Jonathan Slavin (Free Enterprise)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Jenny McCarthy (Two and a Half Men)
Johnny Sneed (The Heartbreak Kid)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
John Leguizamo (Kick-Ass 2)
Jimmi Simpson (Date Night)
Ray Santiago (Ash vs Evil Dead)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Bob Clendenin (That 70s Show)
Norm MacDonald (Dr. Dolittle)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Craig T. Nelson (The Incredibles)
Dee Wallace (E.T.)
Raymond Cruz (Training Day)
Alyssa Milano (Charmed)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Mike O’ Malley (R.I.P.D.)
Tamala Jones (Castle)
Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Paris Hilton (Bottoms Up)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Jon Heder (Blades of Glory)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Deborah Ann Woll (Daredevil)
Nancy Lenehan (Sex Tape)
Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Suzy Nakamura (8mm)
Brandon Soo Hoo (Tropic Thunder)
David Arquette (Scream)
Katy Mixon (Mike & Molly)
Jenna Elfman (EdTV)
Brooke Nevin (The Comebacks)
Scoot McNairy (Argo)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Joel David Moore (Julia X)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corn)
Jane Seymour (Smallville)
Jason Priestley (Tru Calling)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Neil Hopkins (The Net 2.0)
Eric Allan Kramer (The Incredible Hulk Returns)
Morgan Fairchild (Chuck)
Danny Glover (Earthsea)
Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)

 

When I heard that Jason Lee has going to be starring in a new TV series, I was psyched. Ever since his star-making turn in Mallrats,  Earl (Lee), a 250-time loser and minor criminal, won $100,000 on a scratch-off ticket, and was promptly hit by a car. While healing in the hospital, he learns about karma from Carson Daly (on TV) and decides to change his life by making a list of all the people he’s wronged and making it up to them. It’s a simple concept.Earl’s family and friends, including his brother Randy (Ethan Suplee), his ex-wife Joy (Jamie Pressly), her husband Darnell the Crabman (Eddie Steeples) and his friend Catalina (Nadine Velazquez), are alternately positive and negative influences as he tries to fulfill his debt to karma. Randy, a dopey man-child, helps his brother as much as he can, but because he’s not too bright, he tends to screw things up. That’s ok though, as he may have the purest intentions of anyone in the show, since he’s unable to truly be underhanded. The only person purer than Randy is Darnell, otherwise known as Crabman. Even more innocent than Randy, he lives a simple life and is a simple man. That he’s married to Joy, a woman to whom no level of evil is out of reach, shows what he can put up with in life and remain good-natured. She’s also incredibly funny, as Pressly does the best work of her career, playing this trailer bitch to the max. She’s balanced by Earl and Randy’s pal Catalina, the highly sexy maid at their hotel. Though she’s good at heart, there’s an inherent darkness in her that shines through with solid comic timing.Though there’s not a lot of story that progresses from episode to episode, the theme of the list ties everything together nicely. Whether he’s helping a suicidal man find a reason to live or giving his mom the Mother’s Day she deserved, Earl spreads his “golden rule” message, making the show one of the few TV comedies today where there’s a positive message but not a ton of cheese. There are episodes that have as much heartfelt sentiment as any “very special effort” just without the melodrama. Instead, the series is very real in the way it depicts people. They are neither all good or all bad. They just are, and they do what they need to to get by. Darnell isn’t ruled by a strict code of ethics. He just does what feels right. Earl has a thread of bad-guy in him, but he believes in the concept of good. The writers have managed to create some of the most complete sitcom characters in recent history, as one can see in “Dad’s Car,” when Joy’s love for her kids is revealed.There’s something special in this show that you only see in truly great ensemble casts, and that’s memorable supporting characters that aren’t your average “wacky neighbors.” It’s almost guaranteed that a laugh is coming when Crabman or Catalina are on screen. Even one-time characters, like Earl’s clingy ex-girlfriend or the many fantastic guest stars, make the most of their screentime by integrating seamlessly with the regulars, creativing a cohesive universe, giving you more reason to come back and visit with your friends in Camden County.It’s not just the writing and acting that’s top-notch though. The choice of music is often inspired, with pop and rock songs helping the show reach new emotional and comedic heights, including a beautiful use of “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” in the season finale. Today, you expect soundtracks with such popular, well-known songs to end up replaced on DVD, but it seems that these shows are presented with  the music intact. Just as creative are the inventive visuals, which help tell bigger stories in the small amount of time the show has. It’s the small details like this that show the kind of effort that goes into the series.

The second season of the show didn’t mess with success, maintaining the things that worked so well for the series, including a very funny cast, a well-developed dynamic and a style that’s unique and energetic. What did change was part of a natural evolution, as the show’s smaller stories, which make up Earl’s karmic quest, are joined by a larger, season-long arc surrounding his ex-wife Joy (Jaime Pressly) and her effort to get revenge on a local store for refusing her return without a receipt. Not exactly the brightest bulb, she decides that the scales will be balanced if she steals one of the store’s trucks. Unfortunately for her, worst-laid plans are especially susceptible to failure and things spiral well out of her control, as, when she’s inevitably caught, it’s her third strike, which would mean a prison term, thus setting up Earl and his friends’ attempt to keep Joy out of the big house. Of course, this isn’t exactly a crackerjack squad of schemers, so things certainly don’t go smoothly, which makes for a hilarious running subplot.Despite the overarching Joy in Jail plot, the show doesn’t lose sight of its core concept: Earl and his list. As he knocks off item after item on the record of bad things he’s done, we get to meet more of the residents of Camden County, including the members of a circus freak show, a French exchange student Earl ran out of the country and an aging rocker. There are also a few familiar faces to help, including his gay friend Kenny, the lovably laid-back Crabman (Eddie Steeples, one of the TV’s most underrated actors) and Earl Hickey. Yep, after realizing he wrecked his own life, Earl adds himself to the list and spends a few episodes taking care of his own business.Earl’s not the only Hickey in the spotlight though this season, as his adorably simple brother Randy (played wonderfully by Suplee) is increasingly a focus on the show, even getting a few love interests, including the gorgeous and hilarious Catalina (Nadine Velazquez.) A huge part of what’s so beautifully and positively human about the series emanates from the good-hearted Randy, who, in many ways lives to be loved, especially by Earl. It’s that personality that makes an episode like “South of the Border,” in which Randy feels wronged by Earl, and the hurt overwhelms him. In Suplee’s capable hands, a character that might otherwise be a cartoon, is fully realized and truly real, as “Larceny of a Kitty Cat” shows, in exploring how Randy reacts to heartbreak, with the help of “Strangers with Candy” star Amy Sedaris.Sedaris is one of many guest stars who are seamlessly integrated into Earl’s world, including Christian Slater, Roseanne Barr, Judy Greer, Jenny McCarthy, John Leguizamo, Kathy Kinney, Mike O’Malley, DJ Qualls, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Charles S. Dutton, Sean Astin and John Waters. Each one works great in the context of the series, especially returning guests like Beau Bridges (as Earl’s dad,) Giovanni Ribisi (Earl’s insane friend Ralph) and Tim Stack (portraying TV’s Tim Stack in a great meta joke) and repeated guest star Marlee Matlin, who’s fantastic as Joy’s deaf lawyer (along with her interpreter Jonathan Slavin.) But none of them were as fantastic or as inspired as the addition of Chubby, the owner of the local strip club, dry cleaner and rib restaurant. Considering Lee’s use of the phrase “Reynolds style” in films and Earl’s glorious ‘stache, getting Burt Reynolds to play the utterly mental Chubby was brilliant, as was his performance in “Jump for Joy,” the Catalina-centered episode that will make any hetero man a fan of “Jump Around.” But even better than that, was the appearance of Chubby’s son in “Two Balls, Two Strikes.” If Reynolds’ casting was inspired, there is no phrase to describe the choice of Norm MacDonald to play his son, considering MacDonald’s famously bad “SNL” impersonation.It’s this kind of decision-making that makes the series so original and fun, and its seen frequently throughout the season. “Buried Treasure” takes the old “Rashomon” concept and recasts it into a series of mini episodes of “Earl,” using the show’s style (and iconic opening) to great result, while “Our ‘Cops’ is On” takes the popular police show and brings it to Earl’s neighborhood. Though the concept is pretty consistent from episode to episode, there’s no such thing as your average installment of “Earl,” as each is a 20-minute masterpiece of comedy and creativity, starring one of the finest comedic casts working today.

By putting Earl behind bars for almost half the season, the series proved it was bigger than its concept, as the situation let him be the man he’s been for two seasons, while changing him organically, as he adapts to prison life. Admittedly, his time in jail isn’t too different for him, with the warden (a marvelously inept Craig T. Nelson) taking Karma’s place, as Earl helps him out in exchange for an early release. But the warden isn’t quite as generous as his cosmic benefactor, so life isn’t quite as rewarding, which pushes Earl back toward the dark side. Not to spoil anything, but Karma’s not a big fan of Bad Earl, and let’s him know so, quite forcibly.

Things aren’t all bad for Earl though, as his pals, including his dense brother Randy and Joy’s husband Crabman, help him out when he really needs it, which this season is for an extended period of time that sets up one of the show’s more unique conceits, as Earl finds himself in a fantasy sitcom world that’s genuinely amusing to enjoy. Earl also meets a special new lady in his life, when he falls for Billie (Alyssa Milano) the girlfriend of his prison pal Frank (Michael Rappaport.) Though we’ve seen Earl on the short end of the relationship stick, this new girl tests Earl’s patience, as well as what he believes he is all about. To say that Billie is a bit on the confusing side, is a massive understatement, as her mood swings and mindset change with the breeze. That said, we have rarely seen Earl under these conditions, it makes for some genuine comedy. The two-part season finale, which pits Billie against Earl’s list brings everything back to center.

One of the best parts about the show is the world in which these characters live, which has been enhanced by repeat guest stars and unique episode concepts. In addition to Nelson as the warden, new arrivals to Camden County include Vincent Pastore, Jane Lynch, Paris Hilton, Jon Hader, John Henson and Shawn Hatosy, some of whom fit in better than others.  Meanwhile, returning this season as guests are Giovanni Ribisi, Tim Stack, Beau Bridges and DJ Qualls, who help make Camden County feel real. Thus, when the show goes back to the well for a two-part “Cops” episode, this time titled “Our Other ‘Cops’ Is On,” it just makes sense that this town could be captured twice by the cameras of the popular police show, and feel no shame about it.Though the unique situations in this season make for some great episodes, the best would have to be “Creative Writing,” which finds Earl taking part in a creative writing class in prison. Though Earl struggles with the inspiration to write, it quickly spreads to his friends and family, which results in ridiculous fantasy scenes, including an animated sequence, Randy’s spy fantasy, a telenovela starring Catalina and, best of all, a smooth R&B jam from Crabman. It’s the show’s ability to bounce between the more realistic adventures of Earl and pals and sequences like these that makes it such a treat to watch a show on a regular basis, because you never know what you’re going to see next.

The season continues to see Earl visiting others he’s wronged from his past, including one episode that involves his own parents (“Monkeys Take a Bath”). In the episode, Earl and Randy decide they want to apologize to their sensitive childhood neighbor (played by David Paymer). While the two thought the neighbor moved because of their teasing, he actually moved because of an affair with Randy and Earl’s mom. When Joy finds out, she approaches Earl’s mom, first calling her a hypocrite, then wondering why they couldn’t have gotten along if they were both so similar. Of course, Joy gets a negative – and, not surprisingly, familiar – response.
Later in the season, “Nature’s Game Show” offers up another darkly amusing gag as a twister (and the show’s attempt at showing a twister coming through is about the most hilariously cheap portrayal of a twister I’ve seen in ages) passes by the town, resulting in a “commonly accepted rule” coming into play: the rule of “finders keepers”, as townsfolk scatter to pick up whatever they can from the items that have been blown around by the twister.However, one of the biggest highlights of the season comes in the second half, with “Darnell Outed”, a 2-parter that starts with Earl trying to help Joy get on the new reality show, “Estrada or Nada”, starring the former “C.H.I.P.S.” actor. Upon seeing the ad for the show, Earl proclaims to Randy, “We truly live in the golden age of television.” Shortly after, Earl introduces Joy’s audition tape for “Fear Factor”. While Pressley has offered up some very funny performances during the four seasons of this series, this is certainly one of the best, even offering up a few genuinely touching moments. The episode sees Joy getting humiliated, which also results in Darnell’s witness protection program cover being blown. The second half has Joy (who renames herself Goldie) and Darnell finding themselves in a new life in the ‘burbs. Upset that he couldn’t make Joy’s dream of being famous come true, he sets off to find her – by mailing himself and Randy to Joy’s new forwarding address. A few episodes later, Earl and Randy have to explain to Mr. Turtle (who has had a long journey) what happened.
My Name is Earl remains a great series and the series certainly goes out on a high note with this terrific fourth and final season – there’s not a bad episode in the bunch, and a few are particularly funny. It does end on a cliffhanger so be warned.