REVIEW: YOGI BEAR (2010)

CAST

Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Justin Timberlake (The Social Network)
Tom Cavanagh (The Flash)
Anna Faris (Mom)
T.J. Miller (Deadpool)
Andrew Daly (Semi-Pro)
Nate Corddry (Girl Most Likely)
Josh Robert Thompson (Scary Movie 5)

Yogi (Aykroyd) and Boo Boo (Timberlake) are two brown bears who like stealing picnic baskets from visitors to Jellystone Park, while park rangers Smith (Cavanagh) and Jones (Miller) try to prevent the thefts. Meanwhile, Mayor R. Brown (Daly) realizes that Franklin City is facing bankruptcy due to profligate spending on his part. Brown plots with his Chief of Staff (Corddry) to raise money for the town budget (and his upcoming gubernatorial campaign) by shutting down Jellystone Park and opening the land to logging.To save the park, Smith and his love interest Rachel hold a Centennial Festival and fireworks show in an attempt to sell season passes. To sabotage the effort, Brown promises Jones the position of head ranger if the funds are not raised. Yogi and Boo Boo had promised Smith to stay out of sight during the festival, but Jones convinces them otherwise. The bears try to please the crowd with a waterskiing performance, but Yogi inadvertently sets his cape on fire, causing fireworks to be launched into the crowd, who flee in panic.After Jellystone is shut down, Smith is forced to stay in Evergreen Park, a small urban enclave choked with litter and pollution. Seeing that their home is in danger of being destroyed, Yogi and Boo Boo travel to Evergreen Park, where they and Smith figure out Brown’s plan. They all return to Jellystone with Rachel, where they learn that Boo Boo’s pet turtle is a rare and endangered species known as a “Frog-Mouthed” turtle.The Chief of Staff learns about the turtle and, since the park cannot be destroyed if the turtle is living there because it would be home to an endangered species, sends Jones to kidnap it. On the day that Brown is planning a press conference to begin the destruction of the park, Smith, Rachel, and the bears rescue the turtle and try to bring it to the media’s attention. Jones, learning that he had been manipulated by Mayor Brown, has a change of heart and helps the team bring the turtle to the press conference. At the press conference, Rachel reveals that she had installed a hidden camera in Boo Boo’s bow tie which had captured Brown admitting to his plan. Smith hooks up the camera to the big screen Brown is using for his press conference and shows the video. When the turtle is revealed to the citizens as an endangered species, the police arrest Brown.Jellystone Park is reopened and becomes a great success. Smith is reappointed head ranger and he and Rachel admit their feelings for each other. As they kiss, they discover Yogi and Boo Boo are back to stealing picnic baskets once again.I don’t really understand the negative reviews for this film. It was exactly what you would expect a new film about Yogi Bear to be. If you’ve ever watched Yogi Bear you know what you’re going to get. Nothing profound or complicated, just simple childish fun.

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CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: THE FLASH – DON’T RUN

The Flash (2014) title card w/Lightning Bolt background

CAST

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Neil Sandilands (The 100)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Hartley Sawyer (Glory Daze)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Kim Engelbrecht (Dominion)
Kendrick Sampson (The Vampire Diaries)
Jessica Camacho (Sleepy Hollow)

Oh, DeVoe is good. I’m not sure why he would let Barry know about his new, Dominic-shaped form when he didn’t have to, but framing Barry for his own murder is a new villainous move for this show—and one that is welcome after seasons of speedsters who rely on their physical prowess to try to take Team Flash down.Barry’s arrest for the murder of DeVoe is also a nice call back to the crime that set his life down a path of crime-solving and helping others: the murder of his mother, and his arrest of his father for the crime. Like Barry, Henry Allen was also falsely accused. Like Henry, Barry is not someone who runs away from his problems. When given the chance to speedster away, Barry decides to stay. “Don’t run,” he says aloud, looking at a picture of Iris. He not only promised Iris his love, but a life together in the light. If Barry has to stay in the shadows, running from the law, then so will Iris. Much of Don’t Run was a set up for this final reveal and, as far as water-treading goes, this was some pretty entertaining diversion. Katee Sackhoff continues to be delightful as the evil Amunet, bringing energy to the screen whenever she saunters into frame with her over-the-top nefarious nanny accent. Seeing her and Caitlin play off each other again worked well, especially as a vehicle for Caitlin to explore her insecurities about her value compared to the value of Killer Frost.Having your friends potentially like your evil alter-ego more than you may not be a particularly high-stakes problem, but it has some relatable qualities to it. I feel kind of bad for Killer Frost, however, that everyone felt the need to say how terrible she was in order to play up Caitlin’s ego. Can’t we have room for both of them? Killer Frost needs some love too.Heading into the midseason hiatus, things are looking complicated for Team Flash, but not as grim as they have in the past.  Barry may be behind bars, but this is a problem that exists within a system that has established rules, unlike some of the chaos Team Flash has had to deal with in the past. It’s also a villainous obstacle that we haven’t seen before from The Flash. It keeps the very sci-fi drama of DeVoe grounded in something real, at least for now.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: THE FLASH – THE PRESENT

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MAIN CAST

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)
Tom Cavanagh (Van Helsing)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tom Felton (Harry Potter)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)

I’ll definitely say this for “The Present” – it takes a pretty eventful episode to make Mark Hamill reprising his role as the Trickster seem like a footnote. Apparently it’s becoming an annual tradition to celebrate Christmas with another Trickster appearance. This episode certainly shook up the formula by introducing the Earth-3 version of the villain. Hamill really went all-out despite his limited screen time, modeling this Trickster directly after Conrad Veidt’s character Gwynplaine from 1928’s The Man Who Laughs. This was the closest we’ll probably ever get to seeing Hamill playing the Joker in live-action. It was neat seeing him pay homage to Joker’s main inspiration, and neater still to see both Hamill and John Wesley Shipp reviving their rivalry from the 1990 Flash series.

It was frustrating to see so little of the Trickster this week. Hamill is too much fun in the role to On the other hand, how much could the writers feasibly focus on a character who’s clearly out of his pay grade battling two Flashes at once? And if Hamill got the short end of the stick, the same couldn’t be said for Shipp. This might have been the most Shipp-heavy episode of the entire series, regardless of which character he was playing. But that extra focus was certainly justified. Shipp is every bit as perfect for the role of Jay Garrick  as he was Henry Allen in the first two seasons. He was that natural charm and gravitas that befits the elder statesman of the speedster family.

Most importantly, Shipp succeeds in playing Jay as a much different character from Henry. He has the same fundamental decency, perhaps, but there’s a certain aloofness to Jay all the same. There’s a clear awkwardness between Jay and Barry. Barry is turning to Jay for advice almost in spite of himself, seeking fatherly support from a man who isn’t Henry, no matter how much he resembles him. And Jay, for his part, doesn’t seem quite comfortable in this mentor role yet. If there’s one thing this season has accomplished, it’s giving Flash fans the classic Jay Garrick Season 2 denied them.

“The Present” offered quite a bit of progress on the Savitar/Alchemy front, with multiple speedster battles and more insight into what makes both villains tick. The writers were able to retain Julian’s appeal with the reveal that he’s never been in control of his actions as Alchemy. He’s been little more than a pawn preparing the way for the self-proclaimed god of motion to enter this world. And now that Savitar has been exorcised, as it were, Julian seems poised to resume his old role as half friend/half antagonist to Barry. No doubt he’ll still have a major part to play once the Savitar conflict ramps up again, but for now I’m looking forward to seeing his prickly relationship with Barry become the main focus again.
Things are picking up on the Savitar front. The scene where Savitar possessed Julian and spoke to Team Flash was easily the highlight of the entire episode, as well as a reminder that less is often more when it comes to big, monstrous villains. The scene offered much more insight into Savitar’s background and reasons for targeting Barry. He’s not a god, despite his claims, but someone from Barry’s future who feels personally wronged by the Scarlet Speedster. Given his intimate knowledge of everyone in the room, it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that one of them will become Savitar.
Savitar’s cryptic tease about future tragedies awaiting Team Flash was a nice touch. With the Flashpoint conflict receding into the background now, it seems the driving force of the second half of Season 3 will be the question of whether the future is inevitable or if fate can be rewritten. Is Iris fated to be murdered by Savitar? Is Caitlin doomed to become Killer Frost? Actually catching a glimpse of what looks to be a pivotal scene in one of the final episodes of the season certainly lends an extra touch of impending doom to the series. Cisco had a solid subplot of his won this week, with Savitar preying on his grief over Dante’s death and using it to nearly usher in his second coming. Carlos Valdes is so often the designated comic relief on this show, so it’s been a refreshing change of pace seeing him explore Cisco’s mourning process and his rift with Barry over the past couple months.

And with all the doom and gloom this week, it was nice to see the writers take some time at the end of the episode to celebrate the holiday season and wrap up 2016 on a more upbeat note. The West family Christmas party was a fun, sentimental way to cap off the episode. We got to see HR get drunk on Grandma Esther’s eggnog, Julian get into the holiday spirit and Caitlin ensure everyone got to enjoy a white Christmas. Plus, Barry gave Iris a very romantic Christmas present. A great Mid-Season finale that keeps us waiting and wondering whats to come in 2017.

 

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: THE FLASH – RUNNING TO STAND STILL

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RUNNING TO STAND STILL
MAIN CAST
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)
GUEST CAST
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Wentworth Miller (Prison Break)
Teddy Sears (American Horror Story)
Shantel VanSanten (Beauty and The BVeast 2012)
Patrick Sabongui (Stargate: Atlantis)
Violett Beane (The Leftovers)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
It seems we can always rely on The Flash to deliver a great mid-season finale that’s not just a brilliant instalment of the show, but also an unashamed Christmas episode with presents, Turkey and festive soul-searching for our viewing pleasure. I’d even be tempted to say that this, Running To Stand Still, was one of the strongest episodes the show has delivered so far this season, what with the effortless mix of great villains, attention given to the relationships between characters and some nice forward momentum for the Zoom story thread. We begin with Zoom running Wells down before wishing him a particularly threatening ‘Merry Christmas’, setting the tone for the rest of the episode before we flit back to our main gang. It wasn’t much of a secret that Mark Hamill would be returning as the Trickster, but pairing him up with the Weather Wizard was a stroke of genius. The Trickster is threatening enough in his madness but, combined with the guy who actually managed to win last year makes it more than just the run-of-the-mill meta-threat. It also makes for some terrific punning, excused just this one time entirely because it’s the season and all that. Captain Cold isn’t even around for most of it, making a feeble attempt to help Barry out by filling him in on his cohort’s dastardly plans before running for the hills. This is obviously all in service of his role on Legends, which is dangerously close now to actually being on our tellys now.
Because this is a mid-season finale, much of the episode is dedicated to parental angst. Chiefly, Iris finally tells Barry about the existence of Wally West in what was actually a very sweet scene between the two, and they later decide it’s probably best to present a united front to Joe. I worried when we heard about another West sibling that the show would muddle the relationship between Barry and the family, but this episode did a lot to allay those fears. Joe gives Barry his own father’s watch even after he finds out about Wally, for instance, and it highlights the nice place that part of the show is in now that the Barry/Iris romance is done (or at least on pause). But Joe’s understandably upset to discover that he has a son he never knew about, and we’ll have to wait until January to find out how that particular family reunion goes. We’re fairly sure that he’s going to become some kind of speedster, entirely because of his name, but it’ll just be interesting on its own to see how he slots into the show’s existing dynamic. It’ll also presumably give Iris something to do at last.
My highlight of the episode, though, was the fleshing out of Patty’s character, giving her layers beyond the cute Felicity-esque girlfriend for Barry she’s been so far. We already knew that her father had been killed by a metahuman, but here we discovered that metahuman was in fact the Weather Wizard. It’s slightly frustrating when there are two adjacent relationships going on – that between Barry and Patty and between The Flash and Patty, because while we know what’s going on, Patty has no clue that she’s opened up quite that far with her boyfriend yet. Her lack of Flash knowledge hasn’t been actively annoying yet, but it’s getting there. I’d like her to become a bigger part of the show and, to do that, she needs all the facts. We’re left on a cliffhanger that’s simultaneously very similar yet very different from last season’s – Wells is going to help Zoom take down Barry in exchange for his daughter. He doesn’t want to do it because, unlike Thawne, he’s fundamentally a good person, but it’s still his love for his child that drives him. I’ve been so impressed by how The Flash has slotted Wells back into things, all coming to a head in that scene between Barry and an unwitting Harry. It’s the equivalent of his through-glass talks with Henry while he’s off fishing , but it was done so beautifully. Barry has been struggling with what happened last season all year, and maybe this is his way of finally moving on.
All in all, the first half of season two has proven that the show is more than capable of measuring up to its first, with a inordinate amount of intricate pieces in place for an even better string of episodes once we come back.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: THE FLASH – THE MAN IN THE YELLOW SUIT

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THE MAN IN THE YELLOW SUIT
CAST
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
GUEST CAST
Robbie Amell (The Duff)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Amanda Pays (Nip/Tuck)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
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Barry races through the city chasing his mother’s killer; the man in the yellow suit. One Day Earlier. Barry is decorating a Christmas tree with Joe when Iris come in with eggnog. While Joe takes a call from the DA in the next room, Iris convinces Barry to exchange gifts early. Barry gives her a replica of her mother’s wedding ring; she lost the original in the fifth grade. Iris is touched. Eddie arrives and notices the exchange but says nothing.
Later Barry goes to Star Labs to give his new friends their gifts. Wells leaves abrubtly during the festivities and Cisco reminds Barry its now the anniversary of the explosion. Christmas was Well’s favorite holiday, but since the accident its now a bitter reminder of all he has lost. t Jitters, Eddie asks Iris if she believes Barry is in love with her. Iris denies it, despite the gift and allays his concerns. Eddie gives Iris a key to his apartment which she happily accepts. At the mall parking lot, Caitlin notices she is being watched from the shadows by a homeless man. Following the man when he tries to flee, she corners him and he sprouts flames from his hands and head. The metahuman turns and reveals himself to be Ronnie. Shocked to see him she runs off allowing him to escape. At Mercury Labs several guards are killed by a fast yellow blur. The yellow blur appears to be looking for something and ransacks much of the lab. Later Barry, Eddie and Joe investigate the scene. Eddie speaks with a surviving scientist who mentions a man in a yellow suit. In private Barry notes to Joe only something moving at impossible speeds could have killed the guards. After hearing Eddie’s description Barry realizes its his mother’s killer. Joe is forced to admit the other metahuman has been in town for a few weeks; he didn’t tell Barry since the man threatened Iris’ life.
The next day Joe and Barry discuss the break in with Wells at S.T.A.R. Labs. Wells explains Mercury Labs and S.T.A.R. Labs were rivals until the accident crippled S.T.A.R. Labs. Mercury Labs has been working on a project involing Tachyon particles and the three deduce this is the Man in the Yellow suit’s target. Barry suggest they use this fact to create a trap for him. Caitlin goes to Jitters to speak with Iris about her blog on the various metahuman sightings. She asks about the “burning man” story; a metahuman Iris has not really kept much track of. Iris promises to send her all the information she has and asks if Barry has been keeping secrets; noticing his strange behavior in the past weeks. Caitlin responds that she should talk to him if she is concerned. Wells and Barry talk with the head scientist of Mercury Labs at the police station; trying to obtain the tachyon experiment as bait. The scientist refuses; believing Wells is looking for an advantage in the market again. At S.T.A.R. Labs Caitlin and Cisco work on the trap. Caitlin finally tells Cisco about Ronnie and she needs help to find him again. Cisco believed she imagined it since Ronnie was vaporized in the explosion. Barry reviews his mother’s case at his lab.
He remembers the night of his mother’s death; Nora tucks a young Barry in while checking his bruises. She assures him that he is not afraid of the dark; just afraid of being alone in it. However, once he realizes he is never alone the fear will have no power over him. Later Barry awakens to the sound of a commotion downstairs and runs to find his mother being attacked. Iris breaks him out of his memory and the talk about her relationship with Eddie. Barry defends his bizarre behavior as shock at the speed of their relationship. He assures her he is happy that she is happy. After Iris leaves Barry spots the Man in the Yellow suit watching him on the roof opposite to him. He chases the other speedster who finally stops in an alley. Barry demands answers for his mother’s murder but the metahuman taunts him, that he will have to catch him first and speeds off again.
The two end up in the stadium and start fighting. The man in the yellow suit taunts Barry; behaving as if they have met and battled before while outmatching him with speed and superior fighting. Before leaving he tells Barry it is his destiny to lose to him, just as it was also destiny for Barry’s mother to die that night. The next day Barry relates what happened to Joe and Wells. Joe dismisses the Man in the Yellow Suit’s claims to Barry as scare tactics in the heat of battle. Wells assures Barry the trap will hold but both voice their concern that Barry should stay out of the next stage of the plan; he is too close to this foe. Barry dismisses their concerns and heads off with Joe to get the Tachyon device. Thanks to a bluff they are able to get it with little trouble. Overhearing some of their conversation Eddie manages to get himself and his task force involved; believing it to be a chance to catch the Flash once and for all. Elsewhere Cisco and Caitlin use a device to track Ronnie from where he was last seen. Cisco believes they should have told Wells and Barry but Caitlin says they must try this alone first. Cisco is warned that Ronnie is not like they remembered him when the device reacts to him being close to them.
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Hiding further down the hallway they find Ronnie. Caitlin tries to coax him to come with them but he reacts with confusion and anger; claiming he isn’t Ronnie and warns them to stay away from him. He grabs Caitlin when she touches his burnt hands and whispers “Firestorm”, before erupting into flame and running off from the pair. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs the Tachyon prototype is set in the heart of the trap. Barry is told by Wells and Joe again that he needs to back off and he reluctantly agrees. Down in the pipeline Cisco finds a sobbing Caitlin and assures that they now know for certain Ronnie is alive, and they can find him again. Caitlin is not certain she wants to find him; certain that unlike Bette and Barry he has turned into a monster like the metahumans they have locked up. She laments it might have been better that he died in the explosion over being a metahuman. Cisco tries to console her as best he can.
Barry goes to visit his father. Barry confesses to his father that he finally found the man who murdered Nora but he got away. Distraught he tells his father it is now his fault that he is stuck behind bars. Henry tells him not to blame himself; that the murder has dominated Barry’s life for fourteen years and he hasn’t been able to truly lead his own life. Henry has also worked out Barry is in love with Iris but never told her. He tells his son not to let the killer take anymore of his life from him. Barry returns home and talks to Iris. He confesses his feelings to her; admitting he never acted on them because he feared losing her like he did his parents. Iris remains silent; crying silently. Barry apologises for upsetting her and leaves. At S.T.A.R. Labs, the group along with the task force wait for the Man in the Yellow suit. Cisco has been releasing pulses from the Tachyon device to draw his attention. Sure enough the speedster arrives and Cisco activates the trap; encasing him in a force field. Wells, Joe and the taskforce head down to inspect their captive while Caitlin and Cisco remain in the control room to keep the trap running. In the chamber Joe attempts to interrogate the villain over Nora Allan’s murder. The villain ignores him, but speaks to Wells; acting pleased they can meet face to face. The two trade barbs over knowledge of the other. When Wells point out they created the trap based on the villain’s similar nature to the Flash he laughs; claiming he is quite the reverse of the hero.
Cisco notes a fluctuation in the barrier and tries to warn Wells; just as the barrier drops for a second. The villain quickly grabs Wells; pulling him into the force field and proceeds to violently beat him. Joe has no option but to break the field generator to save Wells from the attack. Caitlin calls Barry for help and he speeds over. The Man in the Yellow suit takes out the Task force; but hesitates when facing Eddie and strangely spares him. The villain then speeds over to Joe and chokes him, reminding him that he was warned not to hunt him. Barry then comes in and takes The Man in the Yellow suit outside flying out of the building in a tornado of red and yellow electricity, Caitlin and Cisco run outside to watch the fight. The fight is not going well for Barry as the man in yellow continually beats on him. Before he can kill Barry however, he is taken down by a stream of fire, it is Ronnie who used his powers to stop the man in yellow. With this turn of events, the man in yellow tells Barry that “their race is not yet done” and that he will see him soon, he then speeds away.
As Cisco runs over to help Barry up Caitlin runs over to Ronnie who tells her to not look for him again, he then sprouts his flames, takes flight, soaring off into the sky while the 3 look up in awe, Barry is once again upset that the man in yellow escaped. Back at the station a shocked Eddie wonders why he wasn’t killed but Joe can offer no answer. Joe is forced to admit the existence of Metahumans to Eddie. He swears Eddie to secrecy; that public knowledge of Metahumans would lead to a panic. Eddie agrees but asks if Joe knows who the Flash is; Joe simply responds he is the man who saved their lives tonight; secretly casting a glance at Barry. At S.T.A.R. Labs Caitlin tends to Wells while Cisco wonders how the trap failed; apologizing for the danger they put their friend in. Wells assures them he is not upset about it; but he is annoyed they kept the fact Ronnie was alive from him. Caitlin covers for Cisco; she wanted a chance to bring him in herself; especially after seeing the state he was in. This defuses Wells anger and he promises Caitlin he will help in whatever he can to bring Ronnie home. Joe goes to see Barry in the police lab; Barry admits that the murder of his mother has kept him in the city for fourteen years. Joe admits that when he first brought Barry home he didn’t know if he could handle him; but in a week Barry had brought light and life into his and Iris’ lives. Joe does not want Barry to lose that light to fear.
The two return home to find all of Barry’s friends there, except for Wells. Joe admits he called everyone since Barry needed cheering up. Caitlin apologises for Wells absence; that he needed to recover from the beating. Barry congratulates Eddie and Iris moving in together but Iris does not meet his gaze. Cisco talks privately with Joe; during the brawl he noticed something that reminded him of Barry’s account of Nora’s murder. Red and yellow lightning merging; both realize there were two speedsters there that night; explaining how Barry ended up across the street. Iris calls them over and Joe puts the angel on the tree. At S.T.A.R. Labs, Harrison enters his hidden chamber, unlocking it with a ring with the Flash insignia on it. Inside is the Blur’s yellow suit, and Harrison attaches the stolen prototype to its chest. Smiling, he speaks in Reverse Flash’s distorted voice, saying “Merry Christmas”.
The Flash is ne of the best TV shows on television today, this Christmas episode shows you why it’s just so damn good. The Man in The Yellow Suit you finally get to know just who Reverse Flash is, they save the big reveal for the last few minutes of the episode to make sure viewers tune back in for the next episode. This is one of my all time Christmas episodes.

VAN HELSING (2016) – SEASON 1

CAST

Kelly Overton (Beauty and The Beast)
Jonathan Scarfe (Into The West)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
David Cubitt (Arrow)
Vincent Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Rukiya Bernard (Colossal)
Trezzo Mahoro (Izombie)
Hilary Jardine (Camera Shy)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Hannah Cheramy (Summer Love)
Anne Openshaw (American Mary)
Paul Johansson (Highlander: The Raven)
Marci T. House (Godzilla)
Alison Wandzura (Mistresses)
Aleks Paunovic (Kindergarten Cop 2)
John DeSantis (The 13th Warrior)
Laura Mennell (Alphas)
Avery Konrad (The Killing)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Sarah Desjardins (Wayward Pines)
Naika Toussaint (Deadpool)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Jennifer Copping (Slither)
Chris Ippolito (The Revenant)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Gwynyth Wlash (Star Trek Generations)
Christopher Russell (Land of Teh Dead)
Tom Cavanagh (The Flash)

One thing becomes abundantly clear three minutes into the pilot of SyFy’s latest genre offering Van Helsing; this is not your teenaged daughter’s vampire story. Gone is the inherent sexiness we’ve come to associate with the highly attractive creatures of the night, and in its place a gritty, grimy, visceral appearance that articulates the reality of an existence that revolves solely around securing basic human needs in the face of post-apocalyptic obstacles. Bloodthirsty vampires attempting to storm Seattle Valley General Hospital give 21st century viewers a unique re-imagining with all the prerequisite details: buckets of blood, ravaged body parts, frequent bouts of terror, and above all, characters that inspire concern.It’s 2019 as the series opens; “Three years since The Rising began. Civilization has fallen. Vampires rule the streets. Only whispers of a human savior have given mankind hope.” Let’s get this out of the way right now. Comparisons to The Walking Dead are unavoidable, and it remains to be seen what will set Van Helsing apart from being just another horror series with an attractive woman wearing black and kicking ass as she fights back against beings that have lost their humanity. Though we don’t see Vanessa Helsing in action until midway through the episode, Kelly Overton (True Blood) plays a young woman who wakes from a coma having missed the volcanic eruption that led to the vampire pandemic. We’re immediately struck by the strength of her performance as Overton dominates every scene she’s in. Disoriented and confused after being roused from her repose by a feral bite to the neck, she immediately springs into action revealing that she is not a woman to be trifled with. And in the first of LaBute’s plot twists, we learn that biting Vanessa not only fails to turn her into a creature, but produces the unexpected consequence of returning a vampire to a human state. However, we are also left to ponder whether she lay dead or merely comatose on the hospital table leading up to her resurrection.Axel (Jonathan Scarfe, Hell on Wheels) has been ordered to guard Vanessa without knowing why, and his stoic response to this situation embodies everything we expect from a U. S. Marine. Referring to Vanessa as Sleeping Beauty, it’s clear he’s developed an attraction to her, and now that she’s awake and determined to find her daughter, it seems rather obvious that they’ll be leaving the relative safety of the hospital. The friction between the two provides a perfect launch of the relationship these two will undoubtedly have as she searches not only for her daughter, but an understanding of what makes her inherently special.LaBute and director Michael Nankin (Defiance, Hell on Wheels) employ some character tropes, but these are used judiciously to establish how members of the small group react to self-serving motives along the way. It’s understandable that one man who’s narrowly made it inside the compound wants leave to find his wife from whom he’s been separated, but these are dire times when the well-being of the group takes precedence over the needs of the one. Like The Walking Dead, we have a group of individuals thrown together in a life or death situation, but Vanessa’s “magic bullet” status raises the game’s stakes.All pilots face the same hurdle; can the writers lead viewers to care enough about the characters to return on a weekly basis? Are the stakes facing them high enough, and how can the writing team avoid simply presenting Vanessa on a quest to bring the world back from the brink of disaster one bite at at time? Interestingly, many pilots rely too heavily on narrative exposition and voiceover, but here, not only does the violent and oft times gruesome action demand the viewer’s attention, it forces the individuals to take sides in the approaching storm and provides viewers some necessary character motivation. One who does emerge as a potential dark horse is Sam (Christopher Heyerdahl, Sanctuary), a deaf man who steps forward as things begin spiralling out of control, lending a hand to Axel as the team leader faces a potential mutiny. Thou as the series progresses he hides a dark secret and could become a menacing threat.debuted on SyFy on September 23, the pilot showed a great unveiling reveals a show with a wealth of potential and a strong genre pedigree including Continuum’s Simon Barry and Jonathan Lloyd Walker. On the surface Van Helsing may appear to be just another post-apocalyptic survival tale, but as the series progresses through its first season it begins to raise questions about  Vanessa Helsing and her role as mankind’s savior to compel viewers to return and watch this reluctant messiah cope physically and emotionally with a role she didn’t ask for and doesn’t want. with season coming to an end I can’t wait for the second season. This first season has had me hooked and knowing early on not to get too attached to characters along way as this is a real no hold bards vampire series where anyone can be killed at anytime.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 2

CAST

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (Sky High)
Carlos Valdes (Arrow)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. MArtin (Injustice)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)


RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
Robbie Amell (Scooby Doo 3 & 4)
Dominic Purcell (Ice Soldiers)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Teddy Sears (ugly Betty)
Vito D’Ambrosio (The Flash 90s)
Isabella Hofmann (The Promise)
Patrick Sabongui (Stargate: Atlantis)
Adam Copeland (Highlander: Endgame)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
Victor Garber (Alias)
Kett Turton (Saved)
Shantel VanSanten (The FInal Destination)
Vanessa Williams (Candyman)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries)
Peyton List (Flashforward)
Amanda Pays (The Flash 90s)
Franz Drameh (Edge of Tomorrow)
Ciara Renee (Legends of Tomorrow)
Violett Beane (The Leftovers)
Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Willa Holland (Legion)
John Barrowman (Reign)
David Ramsey (Con Air)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Neal McDonough (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Casper Crump (The Legend of Tarzan)
Falk Hentschel (Knight and Day)
Anna Hopkins (Defiance)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Michael Rowe (Arrow)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Audrey Marie Anderson (Lie To Me)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Greg Finley (Izombie)
Jason Mewes (Dogma)
Katie Cassidy (Black Xmas)

Image result for the flash FLASH OF TWO WORLDSThe Flash’s first season has become the benchmark by which all other DC Comics-based shows on The CW are judged. It offered a truly winning blend of humor, heart, and romance, and superhero action, culminating in a terrific season finale that showed just how much emotional depth there is to the story of the fastest man alive. The cast and crew faced a real uphill battle in living up to the standard with Season 2. And more often than not, they succeeded. This season met and occasionally even exceeded the heights of its predecessor.Season 2 got off to a solid start as the writers explored the fallout of Season 1’s big cliffhanger. But rather than pick up right where “Fast Enough” left off – with a giant temporal vortex threatening to swallow up Central City – “The Man Who Saved Central City” jumped ahead several months to the somber aftermath. The question wasn’t whether Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) could save his city once again, it was what kind of life Barry would return to when he got back. As we saw, it was a pretty lonely existence. The premiere opened on a surprisingly somber note, but one that offered an effective look at Barry’s fragile emotional state and the current status quo of Team Flash, including Cisco, (Carlos Valdes), Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) Iris (Candice Patton) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin). That darkness was a way to bring the gang back together while reminding viewers that many challenges awaited Barry even after defeating Reverse-Flash (Tom Cavanagh).Image result for the flash versus zoomEven as those early episodes touched base with some familiar faces from Season 1 (including Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold and Peyton List’s Golden Glider), they also spent a great deal of time setting the stage for the next major villain in Barry’s life, Zoom. Rather than continue to rely on the familiar Season 1 formula, where Barry and his friends battled various metahuman villains spawned by the particle accelerator accident – this year they confronted foes like Atom-Smasher (Adam Copeland) and Sand Demon (Kett Turton) who crossed over from Earth-2 to Earth-1. The addition of parallel worlds this season wasn’t just the latest example of Greg Berlanti and friends delving into all corners of DC’s mythology, it was a fun shake-up that resulted in a wealth of both comedy and drama. Seeing characters like Cisco, Caitlin and Linda Park (Malese Jow) face off with their alternate universe doppelgangers never got old.No character benefited more from the doppelganger concept than Harrison Wells. Wells might have died at the end of Season 1, but thankfully the writers found a way to bring the character back in a very different role. Earth-2’s Dr. Wells made the trip to Earth-1 and began assisting Team Flash in their ongoing fight against Zoom. Cavanagh excelled in his rejiggered role. He consistently played this new Wells as a much different character than the cold, calculating villain of Season 1. This Wells was all nervous, agitated energy, driven by nothing but a desire to stop Zoom and rescue his daughter, Jesse (Violett Beane). His character arc was among the strongest of the season, as Wells formed close bonds with his new friends and worked to counteract some of the destruction his counterpart wreaked on Barry’s life. Most of the cast benefited from the ongoing Earth-1/Earth-2 status quo this year. Grant Gustin was frequently a highlight of the show as he explored Barry’s lingering guilt and heartache after briefly reuniting with his mother and tried to disprove the parting message from earth-1 Wells – the idea that he’d never allow himself to be truly happy. Wells’ words proved distressingly accurate and on-point over the course of the season. Barry went through a lot of emotional highs and lows this season, including a second tear-jerking, phone call reunion with his mother in “Welcome to Earth-2” and multiple traumatic clashes with Zoom. To their credit, the writers didn’t try to force a happy ending out of Barry’s arc, either. By the end of the finale, Barry was at an even lower point than he was a year before, which fuelled his decision to make another ill-advised trip back in time. He’ll no doubt be dealing with the consequences of that act for some time to come.Image result for the flash welcome to earth-2Both Cisco and Caitlin frequently stood out this year, as well. Cisco always served as a reliable source of comic relief, particularly as his bond with Wells deepened and the two bickered with one another. But on a deeper level, this season allowed Cisco to come into his own as a hero. He grew more familiar with his powers, even finally adopting the name and trademark glasses of Vibe. He caught a glimpse of what he could become when he met his doppelganger, Reverb, and began testing the limits of his courage and his abilities. Similarly, Caitlin was shown a glimpse of the villain she could become when she met Killer Frost. But even after her failed romance with Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) and subsequent ordeal at the hands of Zoom, Caitlin never lost her heroic streak. If the writers ever decide to morph her into Killer Frost for real, that’s going to be one devastating emotional gut punch.The Flash also deserves credit for the way the writers are able to weave romantic drama into the narrative without it coming across as forced. The ongoing romance between Barry and Patty Spivot (Shantel Van Santen) was always entertaining, thanks in large part to the stellar chemistry between Gustin and Van Santen. And if Iris was never the most compelling character in any given episode, she definitely improved this year thanks to her more proactive behaviour and her deepening bond with Barry.Image result for the flash invincibleThen there was the debut of Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) to the Team Flash lineup. Looking back, I’m not entirely convinced Wally needed to be introduced this year. With everything else going on this season it didn’t always feel as though the character received the attention he deserved. But Lonsdale proved to be a solid addition to the cast nonetheless. And despite all the foreshadowing, at least the writers weren’t overzealous in terms of rushing Wally into becoming a speedster. There’s plenty of time for that in a later season.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThere was a lot to love about Season 2. At its best, this season was easily a rival to its predecessor. “Welcome to Earth-2” stands as probably the best single episode the show has delivered to date, with episodes like “Flash Back,” “Rupture” and “The Runaway Dinosaur” also ranking among the best.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe Villain of the year was Zoom. This villain was tricky in that he was simultaneously one of the best  aspects of the season.  Zoom left a pretty strong impression during his first clash with Barry in “Enter Zoom.” Between the demonic costume and the gravely rasp of voice actor Tony Todd, Zoom was by far the scariest and most physically imposing villain Team Flash had yet encountered. That certainly counted for something.  Zoom’s characterization was even more intriguing in the second half of the season unfolded. We learned much more about the villain’s past and motivations, including the big twist that Zoom was actually Hunter Zolomon/Jay Garrick and that Team Flash’s newest ally was no ally at all. With all the emphasis on doppelgangers this season, it was fitting that Zoom himself was really Barry’s dark mirror. Both men had childhood’s defined by similar tragedies and grew up to become speedsters. But whereas Barry had a close circle of friends and family to help guide him along his way, Hunter had no one. He was utterly alone on his world and all others, and that gave the villain the humanity and pathos he needed. And it was nice to see the writers acknowledge just how crucial characters like Joe, Cisco and Caitlin are to the show. Without them, Barry would be as empty as Zoom.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe season finale, “The Race of His Life,” was a great way to wrap up Season  Zoom’s defeat was satisfying and his metamorphosis at the end was intriguing, it will be intresting if we will ever see him come back in season 3. Also in the finale  there was the reveal of the real Jay Garrick, an act which allowed Shipp to don a Flash costume for the first time in decades, then there was the final cliffhanger, with Barry traveling back in time and almost certainly sparking the beginning of a Flashpoint-inspired status quo for the series. That alone is cause to be excited for Season 3.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe Flash season 2 was firing on all cylinders and continued through too the end top form an awesome season and leaves you hanging waiting for season 3.