REVIEW: WATCHMEN – THE DIRECTORS CUT

CAST

Malin Ackerman (The Heartbreak Kid)
Billy Crudup (Almost Famous)
Matthew Goode (Match Point)
Jackie Earle Haley (Human Target)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring)
Carla Gugino (Sin City)
Matt Frewer (Jailbait)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rob Labelle (Jack Frost)
Garry Chalk (Dark angel)
Chris Gauthier (Smallville)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Jerry Wasserman (I, Robot)
Don Thompson (Slither)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Mark Acheson (Elf)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Apollonia Vanova (Man of Steel)
Carrie Genzel (Jennifer’s Body)
Frank Cassini (Timecop)
Sonya Salomaa (The Collector)
Michael Eklund (Arrow)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)
Colin Lawrence (Virgin River)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Sahar Biniaz (Blade: The Series)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
Michael Adamthwaite (Supergirl)

Malin Akerman and Patrick Wilson in Watchmen (2009)In the latter half of the 1980s, three illustrated novels challenged the mainstream perception of comic books. While the Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman introduced emotionally complex subject matter and established the genre as a viable literary format, Frank Miller’s ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’ scaled national bestseller lists and demonstrated that superheroes struggle with the conditions of the world they feel destined to protect. When the 12-issue limited series of ‘Watchmen’ by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons was published as a novel-length comic, it stunned audiences with its commercial success and its innovative structure layout. The book’s narrative also took a radical approach, scrutinizing the concept of superheros and offering a sort of “deconstruction” of their being, one which has pervaded the comic book world, including film adaptations, ever since. Over twenty years later, director Zack Snyder finally brings to the screen what so many once thought could never be filmed.Matthew Goode in Watchmen (2009)Taking place in an alternate reality of America, where Richard Nixon is serving his fourth term as president after winning the Vietnam War. The Keene Act of 1977 has outlawed all acts of masked vigilantism, forcing many into retirement. One October night, the murder of Edward Blake interests Rorschach, a masked avenger seen by the public as more a psychotic criminal than a hero. His investigation leads him to discover that Blake was the man behind The Comedian, a fellow crime fighter turned government operative. Fearing a conspiracy against costumed adventurers, he sets out to warn his former comrades: the Batman-esque Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl, the successful businessman Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, an angst-ridden Laurie Juspeczyk/Silk Spectre, and the only true superhero of the bunch Dr. Jon Osterman/Doctor Manhattan. As the investigation progresses, the band of superhero outcasts uncovers a plot more sinister and gruesome than they initially expected, revealing an enemy no one would’ve anticipated.Matthew Goode and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in Watchmen (2009)At the time of its theatrical release, the film version of the popular graphic novel was seen as a mild success, never coming close to expected box office figures. It was also heavily criticized by fans on internet boards around the globe for failing to truly capture the spirit of the series. Being one of those critics (yes, I am that kind of a nerd), the 162-minute adaptation felt rushed and heavily cluttered, as a wealth of information was quickly thrown at the audience with little time to digest it all. Those unfamiliar with the novel were alienated by the onscreen events, while the core fans saw a large amount of exposition skimmed over for the sake of time. Ultimately, what is now considered the theatrical cut seemed more concerned with reverence for its source, rather than a commitment to acting as a legitimate film that stood on its own. Much of the novel’s power and depth was lost in the translation.Jackie Earle Haley in Watchmen (2009)Now, in this Director’s Cut, Snyder is allowed to thicken the plot and create a better flow within the already-trimmed narrative. Arguably, Snyder shows more style over substance, seemingly imitating the original look of the comic rather than offering his own interpretation. But with 24 minutes of footage now added to the story, the film captures the comic’s dark, gritty appeal nicely, giving it more of a realistic feel and creating more human fascination. These masked vigilantes are confronted with contemporary real-world events, where they are frequently made aware of the Cold War reaching the breaking point and the fact that nuclear holocaust is imminent. As gloomy and pessimistic as that may sound, the idea posits these would-be superheroes against issues of power and the failure of salvation. They must cope with the world as it truly is: a dark and unpredictable existence, driven by fear and uncertainty of the future.This band of costumed avengers challenges what normally typifies the superheroics of their peers. They are flawed humans and deeply haunted by their pasts, primarily a shared experience of feeling unwanted from The Keene Act. Their interactions with one another and society at large expose questions about the limitations inherent to the superhero archetype trying to save humanity from itself. It’s the reason why fans are attracted to the two most complex characters in the series: Rorschach and The Comedian. While one idealizes his fight against injustice as a battle that must be won, the other possesses a harshly cynical worldview of civilization doomed beyond repair. The narrative also opens doors to discussions on power relations and politics, issues of certainty and doubt, metaphysics and existential nihilism, moral ambiguity, and Ozymandias’s actions bring to mind Nietzsche’s central theme of the “Master-slave morality”.Coming in at 186 minutes, ‘Watchmen: Director’s Cut’ may be daunting to some viewers, but for fans, this will be the closest we’ll ever come to seeing a faithful adaptation of the ragtag group of outcasts. Some of its drawbacks, I feel, are quickly outweighed by the overall sense that the comic book’s central conceit is maintained and clearly expressed with a genuine approach. Granted, certain aspects are still missing, but I admit they are necessary alterations to make the transition into film a success. As a long time fan of the illustrated novel, this director’s cut of ‘Watchmen’ easily bests the theatrical version, making it worthy of multiple viewings to take in its dense and complex implications.
After twenty years of hardcore fans hearing that the ‘Watchmen’ comics are “unfilmable”, Zack Snyder defies logic and gives audiences the closest we’ll ever come to experiencing the novel on film. In the ‘Watchmen: Director’s Cut’, Snyder is allowed to flesh out the details better and create a smoother narrative flow, offering an improved vision of this alternate reality.

REVIEW: WATCHMEN

 

CAST

Malin Ackerman (The Heartbreak Kid)
Billy Crudup (Almost Famous)
Matthew Goode (Match Point)
Jackie Earle Haley (Human Target)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring)
Carla Gugino (Sin City)
Matt Frewer (Jailbait)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rob Labelle (Jack Frost)
Garry Chalk (Dark angel)
Chris Gauthier (Smallville)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Jerry Wasserman (I, Robot)
Don Thompson (Slither)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Mark Acheson (Elf)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)
Niall Matter (The Predator)
Apollonia Vanova (Man of Steel)
Carrie Genzel (Jennifer’s Body)
Frank Cassini (Timecop)
Sonya Salomaa (The Collector)
Michael Eklund (Arrow)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)
Colin Lawrence (Virgin River)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Sahar Biniaz (Blade: The Series)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
Michael Adamthwaite (Supergirl)

66262-ycoiuhbnkq-1503295178Watchmen was easily the most hotly awaited picture of the first half of 2009, and I’ll readily admit that the dynamic yellow-and-red poster billboards around town generated a charge of anticipation that Savant hasn’t felt in years. That the film was not considered a runaway success doesn’t surprise me. A movie about superheroes that is neither consistently feel-good nor entertainingly funny is a hard sell. Other writers have noted that the Watchmen are relative unknowns in comparison to icons like Spiderman and Superman; there’s less of a built-in audience for them. Describing the Watchmen movie also suggests expressions like “intellectual puzzle” and “non-linear”. Large segments of the audience have little use for narrative complexities and historical irony.

What movie audiences do care about is action, and to compensate Watchmen ratchets up the graphic novel’s considerable violence. Bloody content limited to a single comic panel or two, looks like gore porn when turned into a film sequence.  Even with a few subplots deleted, Watchmen is so complicated that it bears comparison with David Lynch’s noble 1984 attempt to film Dune. Lynch got lost in wall-to-wall exposition and characters reduced to walk-ons. Watchmen avoids the same fate by closely following the original’s highly cinematic structure. Moore and Gibbons’ comic book panels made heavy use of devices familiar to moviegoers — parallel cutting, associative transitions.Watchmen is a multi-generational story of costumed superhero crime fighters. They got their start in the 1940s as “The Minutemen”, later formed another association called “The Watchmen” and then were outlawed in the early 1980s. Most have kept their anonymity in retirement. Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), Silk Spectre (Malin Ackerman), Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) and The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) have no super-powers. The one Watchman who does is Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), an “atomic man” who glows a soft blue color. A research scientist transformed into a near demigod by an experiment gone wrong, Dr. Manhattan wins the Vietnam War for Richard Nixon, allowing the President to run for a third term by popular demand. Most of Watchmen plays out as a science fiction alternate history tale, although the film drops a major Sci-Fi element from the final act.In 1985 an unknown assailant murders The Comedian. Defying the ban on costumed vigilantes, Rorschach warns the other Watchmen and puts pressure on the underworld to find out who is responsible. Dr. Manhattan breaks up with Laurie Jupiter (secretly the Silk Spectre) and abandons humanity to meditate on Mars. The Cold War goes into panic mode, as the U.S. and the Soviets are already at the brink of nuclear war, and Dr. Manhattan was America’s defense insurance policy. Laurie and Dan Dreiburg (secretly the Nite Owl) become an item. Frustrated by all the bad news, they ignore the ban and reassume their roles as crime fighters. Laurie and Dan spring Rorschach from prison and begin an investigation that leads to the activities of the millionaire technocrat Adrian Veidt, formerly Ozymandias.That synopsis doesn’t begin to touch the intricacies of Watchmen or its pleasing assortment of superheroes, that collectively flesh out a pantheon of comic book traditions. The Nite Owl is a kinder Batman type, a quiet millionaire who has engineered a flying vehicle and other crime-fighting gadgets. He’s actually following in the footsteps of the original Nite Owl, a two-fisted hero from the 1940s. The Silk Spectre is a Wonder Woman- like beauty with identity issues. She was pushed into her role by her flamboyant mother, the Silk Spectre of the Minuteman years. The corrupt Comedian lost sight of his crimefighting ethics and became a murderer, war criminal, rapist and dirty ops agent for Dick Nixon. The highly intelligent Ozymandias is also a fabulously wealthy international businessman under the name Adrian Veidt; he’s put his crime-fighting past on the public record and even sells Ozymandias toy action figures. Veidt considers himself a modern Alexander the Great.The most interesting Watchman is Rorschach, a seedy misanthrope who wears a strange mask that forms mysterious symmetrical patterns identical to a psychologist’s inkblot test. Now considered an outlaw vigilante, Rorschach keeps a bitter Travis Bickle-like diary and refuses to compromise on his mission to slay criminals. Between them the Watchmen cover numerous approaches to the concept of “masked crusaders” trying to function in a complex world. Director Zack Snyder  epitomizes the modern director who prepares computerized pre-visualization sequences, directs the live action, and waits for his technician-artisans to deliver test composites to critique. Elements that the director once had to make “come together” before a real camera on a real set can now be added, subtracted or altered almost indefinitely; the director of an effects-heavy film now functions as a creative manager. Snyder openly admits that his goal is to faithfully replicate the visions of other artists, which has prompted some to question exactly what he contributes artistically to the show. To the extent that Snyder still casts and directs the actors and decides when and when not to follow the graphic novel, he is actually much more “involved” than were many old-school studio directors. Even the biggest Hollywood names sometimes worked from locked scripts and often had little contact with projects before or after the actual filming. Considering how little opportunity for personal expression the Watchmen assignment afford, Snyder’s done a fine job.In this case, closely following the original was Snyder’s only choice. CGI allows the presentation of almost any visual, and the leagues of Watchmen fans wouldn’t have tolerated detours from their story. Most of Snyder’s adjustments are good ones. The strange sidebar tangent involving a “Black Freighter” horror comic has wisely been spun off into a separate direct-to-video production. To get out from under a mountain of plot complications, Snyder drops Adrian Veidt’s elaborate hoax on humanity that involves murdering an army of technicians that mock up the corpse of a gigantic space alien.Watchmen was somewhat overpowering in the movie theater, precisely because it is so close to the original. Instead of being taken in a new direction, I felt like Snyder was holding the book in front of my eyes and turning the pages for me. But movies of this kind are no longer made to be seen only once, and on a second viewing it was easier to simply watch what was happening, admire the classy designs and marvel at the excellent casting.

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 10

Starring

Ben Browder (Farscape)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Claudia Black (Pitch Black)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Eric Steinberg (Supergirl)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Jodelle Ferland (Kingdom Hospital)
Robin Mossley (Elf)
David Hewlett (Rise of TPOTA)
Joe Flanigan (Thoughtcrimes)
Torri Higginson (Dark Water0
Sarah Strange (Men In Trees)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Chuck Campbell (Jason X)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Peter Flemming (The X-Files)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Willie Garson (Hawaii Five-0)
Peter DeLuise (21 Jump Street)
Isaac Hayes (South Park)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
David Andrews (Fight Club)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Adrian Holmes (Smallville)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Rudolf Martin (24)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Aisha Hinds (Mr. Brooks)
Aaron Craven (The Predator)
Kavan Smith (Mission To Mars)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Strange Empire)
David Lovgren (Antitrust)
Joshua Malina (The Big Bang Theory)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Craig Fairbrass (London Heist)
John Tench (Andromeda)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Peter Kent (Total Recall)
Fred Willard (Anchroman)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Jonathan Walker (Flash Gordon)

Sarah Strange in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Largely thanks to Vala (Claudia Black) who’s as charming as she is side-splittingly, ingeniously, flirtatiously funny and who now becomes a credited member of the main cast, season ten gets off to a brilliant start as the action picks up right where the previous season left-off with episode 1- Flesh and Blood and doesn’t decrease in pace.Claudia Black, Ben Browder, Michael Shanks, and Amanda Tapping in Stargate SG-1 (1997)It explores the continued threat of the Ori and their ever-increasing capture and control of worlds unable to mount any effective resistance against such a seemingly omnipotent foe. Episode 3- The Pegasus Project is also very gripping with a finale that’s both surprising and tantalizing.Richard Dean Anderson and Willie Garson in Stargate SG-1 (1997)episodes 10- The Quest, Part I and 11- The Quest, Part II both of which work well in continuing SG-1’s discovery & unravelling of Arthurian-inspired mysteries surrounding their search for a weapon capable of destroying their enemy. Episode 14- The Shroud sees Daniel in a unique position to deal a crippling blow to the Ori, which is also solid.While episode 20- Unending is a wonderful episode- with a story that’s not just dramatic, but explores sides to the main characters never seen before, it ends the season with so much unresolved that it’s difficult to appreciate this tenth season as it should be appreciated as the final outing of SG-1. Obviously a great deal has been withheld to be used in the TV movie The Ark of Truth.

REVIEW: STARGATE SG.1 – SEASON 9

Starring

Ben Browder (Farscape)
Amanda Tapping(Sanctuary)
Christopher Judge (The Dark Knight Rises)
Michael Shanks (Smallville)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)

Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Claudia Black (Pitch Black)
Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Obi Ndefo (Star Trek: DS9)
Gary Jones (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Matthew Walker (Alone In The Dark)
April Telek (Rogue)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Julian Sands (What/If)
Wallace Shawn (Young Sheldon)
Barclay Hope (Final Destination 3)
Maury Chaykin (My Cousin Vinny)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Cliff Simon (Project Eden)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Flemming (Staragte: Atlantis)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Chilton Crane (The 4400)
Jason George (Fallen)
Jarvis W. George (Gamer)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Robert Picardo (The Orville)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Ty Olsson (War For TPOTA)
Cameron Bright (Birth)
Garry Chalk (Arrow)
Don S. Davis (Twin Peaks)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
William Atherton (Ghostbusters)
JR Bourne (The 100)
Teryl Rothery (Arrow)
Reed Diamond (Agents of Shield)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
Veena Sood (Timecop)
Eric Breker (Scary Movie 3)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
John Aylward (Alias)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Chelah Horsdal (You Me Her)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Eric Steinberg (Supergirl)
Tamlyn Tomita (The Eye)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Daniella Evangelista (Ripper)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John Noble (Sleepy HOllow)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Noah Danby (Bitten)

Claudia Black and Ben Browder in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Avalon, Part 1 is a great season opener, introduces  new kid on the block Ben Browder,  as the season progresses the character is definitely fleshed out more and he soon fits in nicely with the tightly-knit S.G.1 team.Ben Browder and Michael Shanks in Stargate SG-1 (1997)However, the bottom line is that this is still a character who bares a striking similarity in disposition to Browder’s other well-known TV personality- Farscape’s John Crichton- with that same irreverent humor and easy-going attitude, but it’s a style that clearly works for Browder and it’s difficult not to find that likable. Beau Bridges’ introduction is made with equally good fanfare, his character is one who I found myself liking more readily- he approaches the role of the General of the base differently to Don S. Davis, with more of an every man approach, although he never hesitates to exert the full force of his office against unfriendly aliens, or humans when required.Mark Houghton in Stargate SG-1 (1997)Largely thanks to the development of this season’s main story-arc with the introduction of God-wannabes the Ori and their powerful minions known as Priors, this ninth season becomes surprisingly mesmerising in very short order. Beginning with the concluding part and then into episode 3- `Origin’, this season soon establishes itself as one of the best `Stargate: S.G.1′ offerings in years. The use of Arthurian legend in this season is spread pretty thickly in the beginning and had me worried that this fantasy element might not work in a predominantly science-fiction-oriented series, but very soon the parallels the writers draw between the Arthurian myth and the familiar Stargate set-up, become very inventive and come to work surprisingly well at contrasting against the new and growing force of evil spreading through the galaxy. In the first five episodes that other recognizable `Farscape’ regular Claudia Black and her seductively disobedient alter-ego Vala are another reason to be enchanted by this season. Vala brings such humor and life to the series that I was really disappointed when she parted company with S.G.1, despite the welcome return of Sam Carter following her brief career change. Thankfully Vala returns towards the end of the season and here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of her.Larry Cedar in Stargate SG-1 (1997)This season’s other major success is in its stand-alone stories that continue to present unique, punchy and creative sci-fi ideas to its audience. In particular episode 9- `Prototype’ and episode 13- `Ripple Effect’ are a couple of my favourites, the first of which concerns the discovery of a prodigy of Anubis frozen on a distant planet and the second has multiple S.G.1 teams pouring through the Stargate from diverse alternate realities , both of which had me glued to my seat

REVIEW: ANDROMEDA – SEASON 4

Starring
Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Lisa Ryder (Jason X)
Gordon Michael Woolvett (Bride of Chucky)
Laura Bertram (50/50)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)
Steve Bacic (Flash Gordon)
Gordon Michael Woolvett in Andromeda (2000)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Nigel Bennett (Cypher)
Carmen Moore (Arrow)
John Reardon (Scary Movie 4)
Steve Makaj (Stargate SG.1)
Maury Chaykin (Wargames)
Chelah Horsdal (Hell on Wheels)
Kristin Lehman (Hemoglobin)
Nicholas Lea (V)
Andrew Jackson (Earth: Final Conflict)
Colin Cunningham (elektra)
Apollonia Vanova (Watchmen)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Ona Grauer (House of The Dead)
Keith Hamilton Cobb (All My Children)
Sonya Salomaa (The Collector)
Ivar Brogger (Jersey Boys)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Laura Mennell (Van Helsing)
David Palffy (Stargate SG.1)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
Christina Cox (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Kim Hawthorne (Greenleaf)
Nia Peeples (Pretty Little Liars)
Christine Chatelain (Sanctuary)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Brent Stait (Stargate SG.1)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Emily Holmes (Dark angel)
Peter Deluise (21 Jump Street)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Strange Empire)
Erica Durance (Smallville)
Aaron Douglas (battlestar Galactica)
Stefanie von Pfetten (The Last Tycoon)
Missy Peregrym (Rookie Blue)
Marjorie Monaghan (Rescue 77)
Blu Mankuma (Tin Man)
Steve Bacic in Andromeda (2000)
Andromeda starred Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journey’s) in a science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) with a variety of executive producers Robert Hewitt Wolfe (The 4400, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Majel Rodenberry (Earth: Final Conflict), Allan Eastman (Star Trek: Voyager), Robert Engels (seaQuest DSV), Jay Firestone (Mutant X, La Femme Nikita), and Adam Haight (Mutant X, Highlander: The Raven). With its diverse crew of producers with extensive experience in science fiction and drama productions, Andromeda put in five solid seasons from 2000 to 2005 and totaled one-hundred and ten episodes. The premise of Andromeda is about the adventures of the crew the Andromeda and their efforts to rebuild a massive civilization that spanned the universe

Laura Mennell in Andromeda (2000)Life is not looking pretty for the Andromeda. In the season three finale, the Andromeda and the Commonwealth fleet were manipulated into a situation that resulted in the apparent downfall of the newly formed federation of planets. Dylan was betrayed by his friend Tyr for a cause that Tyr believes to be more righteous and important than anything else. In the season four premiere episode “Answers Given To Questions”, the story is revisited. With the destruction of the fleet, the Andromeda crew decides what to do next. While trying to figure out their situation, they take on an injured pilot who brings Dylan a communication. The message is from a man named Paroo. He tells Dylan that the Commonwealth is no more and that he is holding one of its leaders and will kill her in due time. Dylan responds by chasing after Paroo, who he finds out is the head of Commonwealth security and the real cause behind the massive battle. But Paroo has manipulated the situation so that everyone thinks Dylan is the bad guy. Dylan kills Paroo and shows he was an agent of the Abyss. He then becomes a hero. More good news follows as enough leaders survived that the Commonwealth continues on.Colin Cunningham and Andrew Jackson in Andromeda (2000)In the remainder of the season, the series story arc dealing with the Magog threat is revisited in full. The majority of the episodes deal with the Andromeda crew caught up in one situation or another that ties into the Magog, the Abyss, and the Nietzscheans. A new addition to the Abyss story arc in this season begins to define Dylan’s role in the overall scheme of things. Yes, he is the captain of the Andromeda and leading the cause, but there is more to it than just that. The truth about who and what Dylan is revealed and his role in stopping the Abyss is more important than any of the lives of his crew.Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)“Waking the Tyrant’s Device” is an episode that takes a look at the creator of the Magog Worldship. Nicholas Lea (The X-Files) guest stars as Tri-Lorn, who gives the Andromeda orders to visit a planet. When they arrive, they are attacked. Dylan questions Tri-Lorn why they were sent to such a dangerous place without being told. Tri-Lorn reveals the importance of the mission. They are to stop Kroton, a half man, half robot. Kroton is building a massive army of androids and it is up to Dylan and crew to stop him. The episode itself is not the strongest, but it is still interesting to focus on the creator of the Worldship.Lexa Doig in Andromeda (2000)“Soon the Nearing Vortex” and “The World Turns All Around Her” is the two part episode where Telemachus Rhade joins the Andromeda crew on a permanent basis. In the first part, the Andromeda comes to the aid of a Commonwealth transport ship that is under attack from Nietzchean. On the transport is Rhade, who is holding Tyr as a prisoner. The Andromeda fends off the attacking ships and save Rhade’s life, but not before Tyr escapes. When Dylan reports back to the Commonwealth headquarters, Tri-lorn demands Rhade be returned to Tarazed so he can be dealt with. Dylan decides not to take him back because he fears Tri-lorn is corrupt. The story continues with the crew facing corrupt politicians, a scheming Tyr, and the Route of Ages, a mystical slipstream that goes to the original Vedran home world. In the second part of the story, Dylan is ready to take on the Route of Ages. Tyr appears in a ship, with Beka in custody, demanding that Dylan give up the map for Beka’s life. Dylan comprises and allows Tyr to follow him on the journey. The Route of Ages is important because it is the key to stopping the Abyss. As the story unfolds, more intricate aspects of the plotline are uncovered, which include Trance revealing who and what she really is to Dylan, an avatar of the Vedran sun. The Abyss also makes a frightful appearance that puts the crew in a race for survival. This episode marks Tyr’s final appearance.Lisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)

Other strong episodes in the season include “The Torment, the Release”, where the corrupt Tri-lorn demands Dylan hand over Rhade for prosecution, “The Warmth of an Invisible Light”, where Harper’s latest invention sends Dylan into an alternate reality, “Fear Burns Down to Ashes”, Rev Bem returns with a weapon to stop the Magog, “Lost in a Space that Isn’t There”, where Beka becomes an agent of the Abyss, and other episodes. For the most part, they all tie into the larger plot and tend to add to the excitement.Michael Ironside in Andromeda (2000)The two-part season finale “The Dissonant Interval” is also an episode worthy of noting. The Andromeda goes to a space station called the Arkology when they learn the Magog Worldship is headed right for them. When the crew arrives at the station, they inform its leaders about the upcoming threat. The unfortunate part is that they are unwilling to listen. The people in the Arkology are of a peaceful nature and they believe they will be able to make peace with the Magog. But the Magog are not a peaceful people and they intend to kill everyone. The two-part story puts the crew in a battle with death-defying odds. And despite the odds, they put 110% into stopping the Magog. Unfortunately, as the episode ends, the situation is hopeless with death not far off from the horizon. Dylan is forced to abandon everyone and escape through the Route of Ages.Lexa Doig in Andromeda (2000)Overall, I enjoyed season four. The plotlines in the episodes tended to tie the material into a larger plot and it made for a much more intriguing watch. There were also several reoccurring characters like the devilish Nicholas Lea, the guy you love to hate, playing a questionable Commonwealth politician. The storylines touched upon the Abyss and the Magog, the Collectors, turncoat Tyr, and other exciting bad guys. Like seasons one and two, season four produces some exciting stories that are engaging and easy to get lost in. But the content was not as good as seasons one or two.

 

REVIEW: ANDROMEDA – SEASON 2

Starring

Kevin Sorbo( Hercules: TLJ)
Lisa Ryder (Jason X)
Keith Hamilton Cobb (All My Children)
Gordon Michael Woolvett (Bride of Chucky)
Laura Bertram (50/50)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)

Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Anthony Lemke (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Strange Empire)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Steve Bacic (Flash Gordon)
Françoise Yip (The Order)
Sam Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
James Marsters (Runaways)
Jud Tylor (That 70s Show)
Alex Diakun (Agent Cody Banks)
Steven Grayhm (White Chicks)
Timothy Webber (North of 60)
Mark Hildreth (V)
Kimberly Huie (Deep Impact)
Kevin McNulty (Fantastic FOur)
Travis MacDonald (Highlander: The Series)
Kristin Lehman (The Loft)
Heather Hanson (G-Spot)
Costas Mandylor (Saw V)
Cynthia Preston (Carrie)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Michael Hurst (Hercules: TLJ)
Christopher Judge (Stargate SG.1)
Andee Frizzell (stargate: Atlantis)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Dylan Bierk (Jason X)
Marion Eisman (Riverdale)
David Lovgren (Antitrust)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)

Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)Andromeda starred Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journey’s) in a science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) with a variety of executive producers Robert Hewitt Wolfe (The 4400, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Majel Rodenberry (Earth: Final Conflict), Allan Eastman (Star Trek: Voyager), Robert Engels (seaQuest DSV), Jay Firestone (Mutant X, La Femme Nikita), and Adam Haight (Mutant X, Highlander: The Raven). With its diverse crew of producers with extensive experience in science fiction and drama productions, Andromeda put in five solid seasons from 2000 to 2005 and totaled one-hundred and ten episodes. The premise of Andromeda is about the adventures of the crew the Andromeda and their efforts to rebuild a massive civilization that spanned the universeLexa Doig in Andromeda (2000)In season two, Dylan’s quest becomes more of a reality. The Renewed Systems Commonwealth represents more than just the unity and peace Dylan envisions; it is, as Dylan hunt says, a necessity. In the season one finale “It’s Hour Come ‘Round at Last”, Harper took a look around inside Andromeda’s code and found a backup copy of Andromeda’s core. He accidentally restored the backup. Andromeda went out of control and took the crew on a top secret mission. To make matters worse, the mission takes the crew deep into Magog territory, where the Andromeda runs into a Magog Worldship. The Worldship is a transportable solar system, with multiple planets and an artificial sun.Keith Hamilton Cobb in Andromeda (2000)The Worldship houses trillions of Magog and gives them the power to destroy stars. The Magog are traveling towards the known worlds with plans of conquest and destruction. In the close of the episode, the Magog have overrun the Andromeda and the crew’s fate is desperate: Trance, Beka, and Dylan are unconscious and near death, Tyr and Harper are being held by the Magog, Rommie had a pike shoved in her stomach, Rev Bem is being converted to the Magog cause, and the Andromeda Ascendant is in critical condition.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The second season premiere episode “The Widening Gyre” continues where season one left off. Despite the direness of the situation, they overcome their individual situations and manage to free themselves of capture. The real excitement introduced in this story is the notion of the Magog and the Worldship. The Spirit of the Abyss, a being that acts as the Magog’s God, is leading the Magog on a quest of utter destruction. This threat becomes a staple for the Andromeda crew to fight off. A Renewed Systems Commonwealth is a necessity. Fortunately for the crew, they have some time until the Worldship reaches space of the known world–two or three years. In the fourth and fifth seasons, the Spirit of the Abyss and the Magog are a major port of the season story arcs. In the meantime, season two has an episode “Into the Labyrinth” with another assassin sent by the Abyss that runs into the crew.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The Magog still are at the front of the stories and a key reason for the new Commonwealth. And Dylan works feverishly to recruit planets to his cause. In the episode “Home Fires”, Dylan receives a message from his long dead fiance. After the initial fall of the Commonwealth, a group sought refuge on a planet called Tarazed and for three hundred years, they have survived as the last remnants of the old way of life. Dylan learns that the people of Tarazed and goes to the planet to get them to join the new Commonwealth. They, however, do not. When he arrives at the planet, he finds a familiar face, that of his former first officer Gaheris. But it is a genetic clone named Telemachus Rhade. Dylan and Rhade are hesitant to trust each other. The story takes an interesting turn in the development of the relationship Dylan had with Gaheris, as well as introduces Rhade, who joins the cast in season four.Sonya Salomaa in Andromeda (2000)The episodes “Into the Labyrinth”, “Bunker Hill”, and “The Prince” are more episodes focused on the restoration of the Commonwealth with the cast in diplomatic missions, facing with spies, political corruption, and other such things. “Into the Labyrinth” sees a Nietzschean clan Saber-Jaguar joining the Commonwealth. In “Bunker Hill” the Saber-Jaguar clan invokes the Mutual Defense Pact, which requires the Andromeda join their side in combat against the Dragan clan. At the same time, Dylan sends Harper and Rommie to Earth to join the resistance movement to free human slaves under Dragan control. In “The Prince”, the crew travel to Ne’Holland to save what is left the royal family from being slaughtered. Dylan wants the planet to join the Commonwealth because it is in a key position to defend against the upcoming Magog onslaught. However, in order to get them to join, he has to save its leaders from its own people. But what Dylan did not know was that the royal family’s actions have not always been just.Lisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)“Ouroboros” is a major episode in the series. It is the first major cast and crew changes. Rev Bem leaves the series as a regular cast member. He apparently went away to find himself. Stait, who plays Rev Bem, talks about the reason he left in his interview featurette. Another change deals with Trance. Harper builds a machine he hopes will help rid him of the Magog larvae that was implanted in him in the season premiere. The machine works, but it also does a little more and bends space and time. The crew is able to glimpse into future versions of themselves. Trance, in particular, meets her future self, who proclaims the future unfolded very badly. The present and future Trance’s switch places in hope future Trance can set the timeline in the right direction. The new Trance is physically different, without a tail and has golden skin. The other major change is in the crew. Robert Hewitt Wolfe was released because the direction he envisioned for the series was much different than wanted.Michael Hurst in Andromeda (2000)In “Knight, Death, and the Devil”, the crew are on the verge of completing the first stage in restoring the Commonwealth. Beka and Harper negotiate with the fiftieth planetary world to join the cause. Dylan, Tyr, and Rommie also find a decommissioned high guard ship. When they interact with the ship’s AI Ryan (Michael Hurst), they find out there is a solar system with over fifty other relic ships in hiding. Dylan goes to the solar to convince the ships to rejoin the Commonwealth (remember some AI’s have emotions and they were abandoned long ago). Christopher Judge guest stars as one of the AI’s.Kevin Sorbo and Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The season finale “Tunnel at the End of the Light” is a literally explosive episode. Representatives from fifty worlds come to the Andromeda to sign the Commonwealth charter. It is an exciting time to see the Commonwealth officially come back into power. Unfortunately, there are forces that would rather not see the chartered signed. Sabotage hits the Andromeda and the charter signing goes up in flames. It is up to the crew to make necessary sacrifices to see it through.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)Overall, I was pretty happy with the second season of Andromeda. Like the first season, I was not in love with this season. The fact remains the show has a cast who over-performs and spouts cheesy dialogue. The storylines from episode to episode offer some enjoyable content, but nothing you should think too hard about. In addition, the story arcs that span the episodes offer intriguing aspects with the formation of the Commonwealth, the Magog, and the Spirit of the Abyss. In the end, I think season two makes for a good watch if you enjoy science-fiction/fantasy oriented shows.

REVIEW: DARK ANGEL -SEASON 2

Starring

Jessica Alba (Machete)
Michael Weatherly (Bull)
Valarie Rae Miller (Crank)
J. C. MacKenzie (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Richard Gunn (Hemlock Grove)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Kevin Durand (Lost)
Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)

Jensen Ackles in Dark Angel (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Savage (American Romance)
Nana Visitor (Star Trekk: DS9)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)
Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica)
Nicki Clyne (Saved)
Jesse Moss (The Uninvited)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Craig Veroni (Two For The Money)
Connor Widdows (X-Men 2)
Rob LaBelle (Watchmen)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Kris Pope (Josie and The Pussycats)
Rekha Sharma (The Core)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
John Mann (Pathfinder)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Patrick Gallagher (Sideways)
Mike Dopud (The Predator)
William Gregory Lee (Xena)
Brian Markinson (Wolf)
Gus Lynch (North Country)
Jesse Hutch (Cedar Cove)
Anita Brown (The A-Team)
Kendall Cross (Paycheck)
Emily Holmes (The Wicker Man)
Michael Bower (Evolution)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (I, Robot)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Michael Kopsa (Apollo 18)
Meghan Ory (Once Upon A Time)
Eric Breker (Stargate SG.1)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Sarah Strange (Men in Trees)
Jerry Wasserman (Alive)
Sam Witwer (Supergirl)
Camille Sullivan (Kingsway)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Tracy Ryan (The Blows)
Callum Keith Rennie (Jessica Jones)
Gabrielle Rose (Sanctuary)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Devin Douglas Drewitz (X-Men 2)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Storm)
Henri Lubatti (Zoo)
Rick Worthy (The Vamnpire Diaries)
Erin Karpluk (Being Erica)

Jessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)James Cameron’s and Charles H. Eglee’s Dark Angellasted a short two seasons back in 2000-2002, launching Jessica Alba’s Hollywood career.  Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this show had a similarly headstrong, wise-cracking, female superhero at the helm.Jessica Alba and Valarie Rae Miller in Dark Angel (2000)Set in the near future in rainy Seattle, Washington, Max was a bike courier by day and thief by night, struggling to get by in Post-Pulse America.  She burgles the wrong rich guy one evening who recognises her for what she is, an escaped genetically-engineered human from Manticore, a secret training facility that creates kids like Max and raises them to become soldiers and assassins.  With rich guy Logan’s (Michael Weatherly) guidance/nagging, Max grudgingly uses her physical and mental talents to do some good in the world.Did I mention she did it grudgingly? Max is not a smiley, cheerful young woman.  Most of the time she’s got a scowl on her face but deep down she’s got heart, and despite the tough, ‘I don’t care about anyone but myself’ front she puts up, she’s still a normal young woman trying to put the trauma of being raised to be a weapon of destruction  behind her.  The torture and abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of those in Manticore still haunts her. Max was among a dozen children that fled the prison-like institution ten years previously.  She tries to keep a low profile, fearful that her worst nightmare and personal bogey man Lydecker (played chillingly by John Savage) will find her.  She’s also trying to track down her “brothers” and “sisters”, the other kids who fled.  Logan agrees to help her in this quest in exchange for her help with his noble causes.  Logan is “Eyes Only”, an underground journalist and thorn in the side of criminalsJessica Alba and Kevin Durand in Dark Angel (2000)Keeping Max company is her best friend Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller), Sketchy (Richard Gunn) an idiot who works alongside her and Normal, the grouchy but actually easy-going boss at the courier company Jam Pony.  Normal frequently shouts ‘bip bip’ at his employees in order to motivate them to do some work.  It rarely works!  Along the way we meet Zach (William Gregory Lee), her “brother” who is totally in love with her and Alec (played by hottie Jensen Ackles from Supernatural), another Manticore soldier.   We can’t forget about Joshua (Kevin Durrand), the dog-man, one of Manticore’s earliest experiments that left many of their people/creatures looking decidedly non-human.  They were confined to the basement in Manticore until Max releases them into the world in season 2 with devastating consequences. Max looks after Joshua and along with Alec, the three of them form somewhat of a weird, dysfunctional but tight-knit family.Logan’s and Max’s relationship continues the will they/won’t they line for the duration of the two seasons.  A lot of fans wanted her to hook up with Alec but it never happened, despite a few lingering looks.  I loved the universe and characters of Dark Angel.  It’s one of my favourite supernatural/sci-fi tv shows of all time, right up there with BuffyRoswell  and The X- Files. The music was great, the characters awesome and the dialogue snappy.  For me, the most intriguing character was Lydecker.  Yes he was a bad guy, but in a creepy way he was also like the father figure of the group.