HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: CULT OF CHUCKY

CAST

Brad Dourif (Alien Resurrection)
Fiona Dourif (When We Rise)
Michael Therriault (Reign)
Alex Vincent (Just Like In The Movies)
Adam Hurtig  (Trench 11)
Elisabeth Rosen (Warcraft: The Beginning)
Grace Lynn Kung (Miss Sloane)
Summer H. Howell (Channel Zero)
Marina Stephenson Kerr (Perfect Sisters)
Zak Santiago (The Eye)
Ali Tataryn (Wrong Turn 4)
Jennifer Tilly (Liar Liar)
Christine Elise (Beverly Hills, 90210)
Allison Dawn Doiron (Lost Girl)

An adult Andy Barclay returns home after a bad date and is revealed to have the original Chucky’s head, which is still conscious and deformed after being repeatedly tortured by Andy in retribution for his crimes. Meanwhile, Nica Pierce has spent the past four years in a mental institution after being framed by Chucky for the murders of her family. After years of intense therapy, she now believes she was responsible for the murders and that Chucky was just a manifestation of her psychosis. As a result of her “breakthrough”, her doctor, Dr. Foley, has her transferred to a medium security mental institution. Andy presents Chucky’s severed head to Dr. Foley to convince him of Nica’s innocence, but he dismisses the head as “special effects”.After arriving, Nica becomes part of a regular group therapy session, which is composed of Malcolm, a man with multiple identity disorder, Angela, an old woman who believes herself to be dead, Claire, a woman who burned her house down and Madeleine, a disturbed patient who smothered her infant son to death. Dr. Foley introduces a new therapy technique which involves a Good Guy doll to the group. Most of the patients are deeply unsettled by the doll except for Madeleine, who takes the doll and treats it as her baby.Nica is visited by Tiffany Valentine, who reveals that Nica’s niece, Alice, has died and leaves her a Good Guy doll, which she claims was a gift from Alice. That night, Chucky awakens and finds Nica only to discover that she had attempted suicide by slashing her wrists with one of the spokes of her wheelchair. The next morning, Nica awakens to find that her wrists have been stitched up and that a message stating “not so fast” has been left in a puddle of her blood. She then discovers that Angela has died, apparently of suicide after having her wrists cut and the message “Chucky did it” left in her blood.download (7).jpeAngela’s death leaves the group shaken and after realizing that Valentine was the last name of Charles Lee Ray’s girlfriend, Nica begins to believe that Chucky is real. Believing Madeleine is in danger, Nica has Michael pursue her out to the institution’s graveyard in order to warn her. However, Madeline throws both the doll and Michael into an empty grave. The orderlies rescue Michael, but it is heavily implied that Chucky has transferred his soul into his body. After Claire tries to get rid of the other doll, it bites her leaving Dr. Foley and the orderlies to believe that she is self-harming. Claire becomes hysterical and Dr. Foley and Carlos sedate her and strapping her to a Gurney. After Claire is left alone, one of the Chucky dolls kills her by smashing the skylight in the room and decapitating her with shards of broken glass.In a private session with Dr. Foley, Nica agrees to be hypnotized in order to regain any repressed memories about her involvement in the murders. While hypnotized, it is revealed that Foley has been sexually abusing Nica during their previous sessions. Foley is then hit from behind by Chucky with a glass bottle and offers Nica one of the shards to kill Foley, although she doesn’t go through with it. Foley believes Nica is the one who assaulted him but is willing to keep quiet in order to blackmail her for sexual favors. Meanwhile, Madeleine takes her Good Guy doll and smothers it with a pillow forcing her to confront the repercussions of her real child’s death. The orderlies bury the doll as a form of catharsis for Madeleine.Andy learns about the murders online and realizes that Chucky has somehow managed to transfer his soul into multiple bodies at once. He hatches a plan to end the carnage by sending a Good Guy doll to the facility with a gun inside, cutting its hair so he can tell the difference. Andy arrives at the institution and commits himself by assaulting one of the security guards. Madeleine is visited by her doll, who has risen from the grave and allows him to kill her so she can finally be with her baby again. Foley returns to his office and finds Nica tied in a straight jacket. He attempts to assault her again but is knocked out by one of the Chucky dolls. The other Chucky doll enters, and upon seeing the Good Guy doll Andy sent, awakens him. The three Chuckys reveal that the original Chucky found a voodoo spell on the Internet which allowed him to separate his soul from multiple host bodies. He then reveals that Alice was one of his hosts, but was killed after one of Chucky’s victims fought back against her. Carlos suddenly appears in Dr. Foley’s office and watches Nica surrounded by the three Chucky’s. All the dolls kill Carlos by stabbing him, cutting his stomach open with the broken glass bottle and stabbing him with a screwdriver as Nica looks on in horror.While the short-haired Chucky leaves to kill Andy, one of the other Chucky’s transfers his soul into Nica, granting her body the ability to walk, and stomps Foley’s skull in with the red high heels Foley had earlier placed on her, as retribution for his treatment of Nica. Chucky/Nica wanders the hospital and stumbles upon Michael who shows her the body Ashley claiming that he killed her. Chucky/Nica refuses his claim as he had never actually transferred his soul into his body. Michael breaks down and states that he takes on so many personalities as a way of trying to be someone who matters before being killed by Madeline’s Chucky who cuts through his skull with the screwdriver. The short-haired Chucky attacks Andy in his cell, but after a brief struggle Andy reaches into Chucky’s chest and pulls out the gun, and shoots the doll repeatedly before stomping its head. Andy attempts to shoot Chucky/Nica, but had wasted all of his ammo. The institution is sent into lockdown resulting in Andy being locked inside his cell, Madeline’s Chucky going into hiding, and Chucky/Nica escaping. Chucky/Nica reunites with Tiffany and kiss passionately before driving off together with the Tiffany doll, hinting that the eighth film might be revealed in the future.In a post-credits scene, Andy’s former foster sister Kyle from the second film enters Andy’s house, having been sent by Andy to continue torturing the original Chucky’s severed head.Don Mancini has created another interesting entry in the franchise and there is plenty on offer here for the fans. I would say that whatever Don has planned for the next installment will be more interesting as this one is very much a build up with a lot going on. After the two revelations at the end, one I don’t know what to think because I suppose the loss of innocence plays a part in it and another that breaks new ground and is interesting but I am not sure how Don will play it out. He sets this one up to make you really want to see what happens next and on that note, the film works and is a clever addition to the franchise

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE TORTURED

CAST

Erika Christensen (Swimfan)
Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives)
Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Chelah Horsdal (Arrow)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Bill Dow (Stargate SG.1)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Aaron Pearl (Starate SG.1)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)

The film tells the story of a couple, Elise Landry (Erika Christensen) and her husband, Craig Landry (Jesse Metcalfe), whose lives are shattered when a serial killer named Kozlowski (Bill Moseley), kidnaps, tortures, and kills their only son, Benjamin. Craig feels immense guilt, as he saw Benjamin being kidnapped, but could not catch up to the fleeing vehicle. Elise blames Craig for not watching the child more closely. During the trial, Kozlowski makes a plea bargain, and in exchange for providing details on other murders, is sentenced to only 25 years to life. Elise and Craig are livid with the court’s verdict. Elise asks Craig to get her a gun so that she can kill Kozlowski, but Craig refuses. Elise moves out of the house and Craig, left alone, contemplates suicide. Later, he meets Elise to say that just killing Kozlowski will not be enough, and the two formulate a plan to kidnap the killer.

Craig steals medical supplies and drugs from the hospital where he works. They follow Kozlowski when he is being transferred to prison via police van. The officers soon stop to get some coffee. Craig distracts them, while Elise spikes their drinks. After some time, the police van pulls over, and Craig is successful in hijacking the van with the prisoner inside. In the confusion and panic of the escape, Craig crashes the van and it rolls over a bridge. Elise, following behind in her car, is relieved to see Craig is all right, and the prisoner, though thrown from the van and severely injured, is also still alive. Elise soon receives a call from the case detective (Fulvio Cecere) informing her that Kozlowski had taken the police van and escaped. She is able to sound normal to avoid arousing any suspicion.

They take their captive to the basement of an abandoned cabin and chain him up, just as he did to their son. They gag him, stating that nothing he could say will make them change their minds. They berate him as less than human for his abominable actions. They begin to torture him in various painful ways. During one session, Craig hangs the key to the chains above the captive, taunting him. As the torture progresses over several days, both Elise and Craig are haunted by their deeds, but carry on, remembering the horrific loss of their son. Meanwhile, the police manhunt for the escaped Kozlowski begins narrowing down to the area near the cabin.
Image result for the tortured (2010)Back in the basement, Craig removes the gag in an attempt to suffocate the captive, who begs for a chance to talk. He explains he has no recollection of anything before the van accident. He claims he does not think he could be a vicious killer. The Landrys are taken aback, and retreat upstairs to discuss. Craig feels the torture is unnecessary on someone who cannot even remember his crimes. Elise is certain he is merely lying to avoid any more suffering. They return to the basement and begin crushing his foot in a vise until he tells the truth. Elise demands that he speak their child’s name. Under duress, he eventually says ‘Benjamin’, which convinces Craig that they can continue with their plan. They leave him alone for the evening, promising that the next day’s torture will be the worst yet. Through extreme agony, he manages to reach the key and free himself. He makes his way upstairs and there is a struggle. Craig is knocked down the stairs and the captive escapes out the back door.
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Simultaneously, the police finally track down and apprehend Kowalski in the woods nearby. He appears mostly unharmed, and shows no signs of the torture inflicted by the Landrys. Flashbacks show that, unknown to the Landrys, the prison van was actually carrying two convicts; Kozlowski, and another man serving time for tax evasion. Following the crash, Craig mistook the bloodied man thrown from the vehicle as Kozlowski, and took him hostage instead. The real Kozlowski later emerged from the van relatively unhurt and went on the run.
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At the cabin, Elise and Craig track down the man that they believe is Kozlowski, but in reality is the other prisoner, just as he hangs himself in the barn. He leaves a suicide note stating that, based on what the Landrys had told him, he must be a monster, and deserved everything they had done to him. He apologizes and begs forgiveness. He simply could not stand any more torture, so he hanged himself. Satisfied, the Landrys get in their car and leave, unknowingly passing the police– who are returning Kozlowski to prison.Image result for the tortured (2010)More for seasoned Horror fans.Great acting all the way through and each actor gave it their all, great directing, and most importantly great gore. Not really a hidden gem per say, but a decent genre flick that makes you think nonetheless

REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME

CAST

Luke Pasqalino (The Musketeers)
Ben Cotton (Slither)
Lili Bordan (The Martian)
Jill Teed (X-Men 2)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Karen Leblanc (Cracked)
Sebastian Spence (First Wave)
Ty Olsson (The 100)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Mike Dopud (Stargate: Atlantis)
Adrian Holmes (Arrow)
Carmen Moore (Andromeda)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome’ tells story of Adama’s first mission. Battlestar Galactica” is the franchise that will not die. The original television series in the 1970s was cancelled because of the cost of production. It was then revived for a short-lived budget-crunched version named “Galactica 80,” which brought the rag-tag fleet of star voyagers to the Earth and less special effects. The franchise was kept alive throughout the 1980s and 1990s by way of comic books and novels.

2003 saw the launch of the rebooted version of “Battlestar Galactica.” After a mini-series, the television show went on for four seasons. It also spawned two TV movies and several web series. “Caprica” premiered in 2009, proving once again audiences just couldn’t get enough of this sci-fi phenomenon. Unfortunately, the show ended abruptly after two seasons.

“Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome” once again proves you can’t keep a good show down. Originally filmed to be the pilot for a new SyFy Channel series, it was decided to split it up into 10 parts and aired on Machinima.com as a web series. The entire pilot has now been reassembled and made available on Blu-ray and DVD in an “Unrated Edition.”

Young William Adama graduates from the Academy in the tenth year of the First Cylon War. He’s appointed to serve aboard the Colonial Fleet’s newest battlestar, the Galactica. His first assignment is as a pilot for a Raptor transport ship. Adama, his co-pilot Coker, and former Graystone Industries employee Dr. Beka Kelly are sent on a secret mission that will take them deep into Cylon territory.

Blood and Chrome takes place between “Caprica” and the 2003 series. Director Jonas Pate takes series creators Michael Taylor and David Eick’s script and successfully drops us back into the world of Battlestar Galactica.Pate has a history working within the universe, having helmed episodes of both Battlestar Galactica and Caprica. This helps give Blood and Chrome a familiar look that matches that of the earlier shows. Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome is another essential piece to the franchise puzzle for fans. It will satisfy their taste for more of this intriguing and complex universe and its characters.

REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 2

 

Starring

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Titans)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (You)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Polly Walker (Pennyworth)

Caprica (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Bridget Hoffman (Darkman)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
John Pyper-Ferguson (The Last Ship)
Anita Torrance (Smallville)
Genevieve Buechner (The Final Cut)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Patton Oswalt (Veronica Mars)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)
Calum Worthy (American Vandal)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Elisabeth Rosen (Cult of Chucky)
Sina Najafi (Stargate SG.1)
Carmen Moore (Flash Gordon)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)

Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)Nothing would’ve made me happier than to deem Syfy’s decision to cancel Caprica a grave and unwarranted one, but that’s something which simply can’t happen. Bear with me now, because there’s a reason for saying this. As a defender of the series when it was on the brink of cancellation, there’s no joy in stating that it’s easy to see why Ron Moore and David Eick’s offshoot from Battlestar Galactica received the axe when it did. Though far from faultless, the first half of the series established a fine foundation for a world rife for exploration: the mechanics of a society that would ultimately create a sentient lifeform, robots which would rebel and eventually annihilate most of the human race. But concept’s only part of the journey, and Caprica saw tonal and storytelling issues that shaped it into a rough, erratic exploration of those ideas, reaching an especially stagnant point at the beginning of this second half. It’s a shame, then, that the writers and producers finally discover their rhythm in the last five-and-a-half episodes, as it truly becomes the series I had hoped it’d become.Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)The story revolves around the polytheistic, technologically-advanced colony of Caprica roughly sixty years before “the downfall”, focusing on the conflict between, and within, two families: The Graystones, and the Adamas. Lawyer Joseph Adams (Esai Morales) lives a somewhat normal life with his wife and two children, Tamara and Billy, attempting to juggle his high-profile stature in the legal realm with his domestic life. He fights a bit with keeping himself as distanced as he can from his unsavory lineage, the Tauron mob Ha’la’tha, though it’s hard since the organization funded his education and requires his services regularly — usually by messages delivered through his brother, Sam (Sasha Roiz). BSG devotees with get a jolt in seeing the blossoming of young “Billy” in this environment early on, watching the growth of the semi-troubled youth that’d transform into the disquieting, powerful Galactica commander Bill Adama.Magda Apanowicz in Caprica (2009)Caprica’s central draw, however, is the Graystones. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) heads a tech development firm working on a mechanized super-soldier that’s just not cutting the mustard, all the while generating profit (60% of net, to be exact) with virtual reality headsets — holobands — that connect to a network of fully-interactive, realistic digital worlds. Graystone’s seemingly safe digital construct quickly broke down into a laissez-faire underground, filled with hacked sections that exploit sex, drug-use, and violence. Daniel’s daughter, a silver-tongued high-school student named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) who battles with her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) over authority, frequents the holoband V-Club with boyfriend Ben (Avan Jogia) and timid best friend Lacy (Magda Apanowicz), yet they’re beyond the carnal satisfaction that the place has to offer. Instead, they’ve found purpose in monotheistic religious belief within an activist organization, the Soldiers of The One (STO), and, in the process, created an exact digital copy of Zoe who will somehow aid the resistance.Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)Caprica utilized a cliffhanger episode at the end of the first half of the season, one that leaves the mortality of several characters up in the air. It’s uncertain whether the depression-driven grief that Amanda’s been going through truly led her to suicide; similarly, we’re unsure if the full-throttle abrasiveness that Zoe was enacting inside the U-87 Cylon body destroyed her at the end. Then, Syfy opted to go on a very lengthy mid-season break (read: they shelved the episodes), leaving curious minds in the dark for roughly seven months and, effectively, knocking the wind out of Caprica. Already, the series wasn’t on the strongest of legs; as mentioned before, it establishes a fine world that explores the emotions coursing through decisions to either reject or embrace digital memories of loved ones, while also giving some deep-rooted glimpses into the underpinnings of Moore and Eick’s Emmy-winning Battlestar Galactica. Yet it wasn’t all gelling together as of yet, only improving as the series went along but ultimately lacking the joie du vivre that pumped its inspiration forward.Eric Stoltz in Caprica (2009)Therefore, when Caprica’s second half starts off sluggish and overbearingly dour, it’s almost like a death toll. Let’s be perfectly honest here: the first three installments following a seven-month hiatus end up being misfired glut, something the series couldn’t withstand at that point. Starting with a jump-forward in time that echoes the end of Battlestar Galactica’s second season, it throws the story in a pit of depression, despair, and cutthroat politics surrounding Daniel that bloats beyond its boundaries. When the Ha’la’tha use killing one’s mother — someone unassociated with the crime syndicate — as a sign of loyalty, when the STO enact murderous power moves over their religious heads, or when Zoe’s avatar is bludgeoned to near-death for simply looking like the STO terrorist she’s perceived to be, the tone gets molasses-level thick and fairly objectionable. It’s as if Moore and Eick are overcompensating so their audience knows they’re not pulling any punches, while the output they produce leans toward ham-handed and hard-faced discomfort — and extremely awkward in “Things We Lock Away”, a sloppily glued-together hodgepodge of poorly-orchestrated arena brawls in New Cap City and intent Lacy/STO development.Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)None of Caprica’s issues root in the performances, however, or the production design. From the ground up, Moore and Eick continue the shrewdly-cast and stylish thrust of science-fiction with a fine vein of suspense, capturing the city’s expanses with a unique blend of metropolitan polish, futuristic gris-gris, and slick ’50s-esque allure. Locations like the Graystone mansion sport angular windows and a glaring pour of cold light, while the Adama household encapsulates a warm yet dark demeanor. These fitting aesthetic touches cradle some exceptional dramatic performances, including Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales whom have come into their own as tried-and-true denizens of Caprica. The same can be said for Magda Apanowicz as Lacy, who takes the complications surrounding a semi-innocent girl lost in the world of terrorism and runs with them with stalwart momentum. Lacy’s role, which gets sloshed around in the first half of the season, begins to grow more focused as she embeds further into the STO (and learns of her affinity with post-Zoe Cylons). The faces of Caprica are what keep the series afloat, both during the well-executed and bungled stretches in the show.Still from CapricaReally, the issues hinge on a general question: “What’s the driving force behind Caprica?” At first, the series closed in on the machinations of the Cylon origins, as well as exploring monotheism vs. polytheism, the benefits and hindrances of an abandon-free V-World, and the reluctance for people to let go of those whom have died. Upon the second half of Caprica, all that’s somewhat switched out for direct drama involving the robots’ “creator”, as well as concentration on the gangster Adama network and the blossoming of the terrorist organization as idealists — which, by the way, the STO material’s fairly bland and oddly-executed during that stretch. In essence, it starts to go down a fairly generic path of aggressive human drama, leaving the intrigue behind Zoe’s presence somewhat alone for a two-hour burst. It’s pretty clear that the minds behind the show tinkered with some new (and time-weathered) ideas to try and wrangle together a new audience. And it didn’t really pan out as such.Caprica with Eric StoltzFortunately, the creative team seems to have had an inclination towards this. Starting with “False Labor”, Caprica begins to see an awakening, as if they both discover where their weaknesses lie and resurrect the spirit of Battlestar Galactica — which carries over in “Blowback”, marking the first of five episodes that Syfy shelved around the time of cancellation. In this episode, Daniel attempts to recreate Zoe’s “resurrection” software, while in the process using an avatar of Amanda as a basis for comparison. Since he knows all the mannerisms and minutiae of his wife, he’s able to determine exactly how human or inhuman she’s acting, and the content that unfolds as he dissects this digital Amanda can be both penetrating and emotionally stirring. On top of that, Lacy gets her first hearty taste of the STO’s domineering, contentious presence, while meeting other “recruits” similar to her. Moreover, it rediscovers its tonality; difficult drama remains, but the way it’s handled regains the excitement of its inspiration. In short, it gets good. Really, really good.With Syfy cancelling the show and five episodes still left to run, the big question likely will be: “Does it get a proper, strong conclusion?” Piggybacking off the regained proficiency that it rediscovers in “Blowback”, Caprica sprints through the remaining episodes as if it knows that the end’s coming, losing its abandon in a furious, gripping rush that certainly echoes to Battlestar Galactica’s aptitude in 11th-hour intensity. It hits the accelerator and really doesn’t stop until an unquestionably finite conclusion, bringing together Daniel’s hunt for Zoe’s avatar in V-World and the unsavory connections between Graystone Industries and the Tauron mob to a very fine, robust head. Moreover, the content surrounding Lacy’s presence in the STO finally reaches a meaningful point, instead of evoking the sensation that it’s a time-killing subplot like it did at first. But, much like the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica, it also ditches some sensibility in lieu of excitement, breaking some of its own rules and established character mannerisms just to find a definite close. When it all melts together, though, it’ll be worth gritting one’s teeth through a few questionable moments.Those who’ve watched Caprica and cashed in their chips owe it to themselves to check out the tense follow-through, with the knowledge that the tone’s anything but consistent. There’s only a handful of great moments scattered within; however, there are assuredly some really great moments, ones that ensnare the type of essence I’d hoped would resonate in a depiction of the pre-Cylon world. In the middle of that, along with blatant reflection on the current climate of terrorism, it also provokes thought about the extents that some might go to preserve the memories and essence of those they love, and whether the recreation of an individual would push the boundaries of their belief structure. Caprica’s an intelligent show at its core, one with a complex network of emotion buttons that simply never properly learned how and when to push them. What’s a shame is that the show reveals a few glimmers at the end that suggest it might’ve found out how, ones that likely hadn’t even been seen by those that made the decision to power down this tale of the pre-war Cylon race.

REVIEW: CAPRICA – PART 1

Starring

Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect)
Esai Morales (Titans)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Alessandra Torresani (The Big Bang Theory)
Magda Apanowicz (You)
Sasha Roiz (Grimm)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Polly Walker (Pennyworth)Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

William B. Davis (The X-FIles)
Sina Najafi (Stargate SG.1)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Genevieve Buechner (The Final Cut)
Anna Galvin (Unspeakable)
Karen Elizabeth Austin (The Eye)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
Avan Jogia (Shaft)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Anita Torrance (Smallville)
James Pizzinato (Godzilla)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Patton Oswalt (Veronica Mars)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Luciana Carro (Helix)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Alex Arsenault (Tucker and Dale vs Evil)
Panou (Flash Gordon)
Eve Harlow (Bitten)
James Marsters (Buffy: TVS)
John Pyper-Ferguson (The Last Ship)
Leah Gibson (Jessica Jones)
Richard Harmon (The 100)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary)
Kacey Rohl (Hannibal)

 

Paula Malcomson in Caprica (2009)Creators Ronald Moore and David Eick relied on three key components for their hit SyFy series, Battlestar Galactica, to stay fresh and compelling for as long as it did: complex ideas behind evolved sentient lifeforms, religious parables, and the fondness for the characters’ home worlds — especially that of Caprica. The characters all look back at their previous lives almost as ghosts; Admiral Bill Adama painfully drudges up memories of his ex-wife and lawyer father, while Kara “Starbuck” Thrace carries memories of her small, ramshackle apartment and Samuel Anders yearns for the thrill of a sports stadium. Seems like such a rich mythos created just to be the ruminants of a past life, doesn’t it? The Moore-Eick team also sees this potential, now capitalizing on the gap left by Battlestar Galactica’s end to create the appropriately-titled Caprica. Though it moves slowly at first while constructing an involved narrative framework in its predecessor’s shadow, this mythos-rich offshoot eventually finds the footing needed to fall in-line with the original series’ current of storytelling.Patton Oswalt in Caprica (2009)The story revolves around the polytheistic, technologically-advanced colony of Caprica roughly sixty years before “the downfall”, focusing on the conflict between, and within, two families: The Graystones, and the Adamas Adams. Lawyer Joseph Adams (Esai Morales) lives a somewhat normal life with his wife and two children, Tamara and Billy, attempting to juggle his high-profile stature in the legal realm with his domestic life. He fights a bit with keeping himself as distanced as he can from his unsavory lineage, the Tauron mob Ha’la’tha, though it’s hard since the organization funded his education and requires his services regularly — usually by messages delivered through his brother, Sam (Sasha Roiz). BSG devotees with get a jolt in seeing the blossoming of young “Billy” in this environment early on, watching the growth of the semi-troubled youth that’d transform into the disquieting, powerful Galactica commander Bill Adama.Hiro Kanagawa in Caprica (2009)Caprica’s central draw, however, is the Graystones. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) heads a tech development firm working on a mechanized super-soldier that’s just not cutting the mustard, all the while generating profit (60% of net, to be exact) with virtual reality headsets — holobands — that connect to a network of fully-interactive, realistic digital worlds. Graystone’s seemingly safe digital construct quickly broke down into a laissez-faire underground, filled with hacked sections that exploit sex, drug-use, and violence. Daniel’s daughter, a silver-tongued high-school student named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) who battles with her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) over authority, frequents the holoband V-Club with boyfriend Ben (Avan Jogia) and timid best friend Lacy (Magda Apanowicz), yet they’re beyond the carnal satisfaction that the place has to offer. Instead, they’ve found purpose in monotheistic religious belief within an activist organization, the Soldiers of The One (STO), and, in the process, created an exact digital copy of Zoe who will somehow aid the resistance.Alessandra Torresani in Caprica (2009)Observant fans will see where Caprica’s going with the duplicate Zoe, coming together in an introductory pilot that realizes the germ of an idea behind the genesis of the Cylon race, but it certainly doesn’t leave newcomers in the cold. Moore and Eick, with this freshness in mind, go in a startling direction with the content surrounding the Cylon conception; a murderous STO-related terrorist attack on a train rattles the city of Caprica, leaving the Graystones without their daughter and Joseph with only his son, Billy. The grief they endure becomes a convincing dramatic catalyst for what’s to come, breaking a floodgate for aggressive decision-making regarding family memories and Daniel’s technological advancement — with the idea of an exact digital replication of both mind and memory, such as the avatar of Zoe that lingers after her death, propelling it forward. It’s a thought-provoking launch that tackles some rather challenging concepts, including that of the human psyche as raw data and the extent that open-minded intellectuals might go to preserve those they’ve lost. And, of course, the narcissistic power behind potential immortality.Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in Caprica (2009)Upon the second episode, “Rebirth”, one fact becomes very clear: Caprica isn’t cut from the same cloth as its inspiration, instead existing as a compelling new creation with its own hurdles to cross. In retrospect, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica painlessly continued the momentum from its original two-part miniseries, thrusting forward with space warfare and political components into the dazzling episode “33”. With Caprica, a shrewd character-driven thriller with complexity surrounding terrorism and family grief, the carry-over isn’t as easy. Thankfully, the Moore-Eick team never shies away, hitting the gas with some rather incisive writing as they drive deeper into Caprica’s unraveling and the Graystone company’s waning success in the wake of the terrorist attack. Along the way, they also grapple with themes of Tauron racism (“dirt eaters”) and religious extremism through the STO and one of its leaders, Zoe’s teacher Sister Clarice (Polly Walker), that correlate to actual issues, while also cleverly using the concept of a digital underground — especially in the anarchistic “New Cap City” game simulation, a mix of World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto — as a way of escape and purpose-finding.Esai Morales and Sasha Roiz in Caprica (2009)Yet as Caprica focuses on these modern analogous ideas while its characters develop into a mixture of morally desolate entities, the first batch of six or so episodes move at a deliberate, slow-burning tempo that shifts between intrigue and sluggishness. The harsh chemistry between Daniel and Joseph as scorned parents electrifies, driven by Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales in two stark, authentic performances, and the pacing focuses on the causal events that unfold around their family-affecting decisions. But focusing on this calculated slow-burn can, at times, temper the series’ manner and cause the multiple plot threads to stray from the course, weaving intuitive dramatic performances around a lot of existential meditation and shots of neo-religious content without the right energy to propel it forward. I still find it compelling; the depth of Daniel’s egotism reaches a genuine depth that’s unexpected, while offering a cluster of explosive moments — such as the board meeting in “There is Another Sky” that actually starts the Cylon race — spliced within the persistent, astute drama.Polly Walker and Magda Apanowicz in Caprica (2009)Then, as Caprica approaches “Ghosts in the Machine” and the mid-season finale “End of Line”, the gradual tension sees a much-needed outburst. These prior episodes extend into what’s essentially a rather lengthy fuse leading to this batch of dynamite, using brewing family turmoil and growing suspicions into an emotionally-taxing, brilliantly-realized culmination point. “Ghosts in the Machine” plays with the intensity of psychological torment in a staggering rush of emotion, while “End of Life” finds the first episode of the series to use the familiar “__ Hours Before” time mechanic frequently used in Battlestar Galactica. Quite simply, the build-up becomes worth the time at this point, igniting the series with the narrative outbreak it desperately lacked to become fully involving. Whether Caprica can maintain this momentum still remains to be seen, but the succession of these explosive developments that derive from subtly-evolving plot points — Amanda’s weakening sanity, Daniel’s obsession with meeting the development deadline, and the presence of the STO as violent radicals — satisfies with evocative, edge-of-your-seat chills at this midpoint, finally achieving that addictive science-fiction adrenaline that hallmarked its predecessor.

 

REVIEW: SANCTUARY – SEASON 4

Starring

Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Dunne (Space Milkshake)
Ryan Robbins (Arrow)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Van Helsing)

Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary (2008)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Pascale Hutton (Fantastic Four)
Agam Darshi (You Me Her)
Jody Thompson (The 4400)
Françoise Yip (The Predator)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)
Robert Lawrenson (Underworld: The Awakening)
David Milchard (Big Eyes)
Greyston Holt (Bitten)
Adam Copeland (Highlander: Endgame)
Pauline Egan (Home BEfore Dark)
Brian Markinson (Caprica)
Mig Macario (The Final Cut)
Lara Gilchrist (Battlestar Galactica)
Sandrine Holt (House of Cards)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
John Novak (War)
Martin Cummins (Dar kAngel)
Charlie Carrick (Reign)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Jonathon Young (Antitrust)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Adam Greydon Reid (Izombie)
Caroline Cave (Van Helsing)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Anjali Jay (Supergirl)
Gil Bellows (Jett)

At the end of the last season things were getting pretty hairy on a couple of different fronts. The subterranean abnormals who live inside the Earth have decided that they want their chance in the sun and three armies march out of caves in different parts of the planet. If that wasn’t bad enough, Magnus is battling an old companion, Adam Worth, who manages to open up a hole in time and slip back to the 1800’s with the aim of curing his terminally ill daughter. This will change the time stream irrevocably, so Magnus follows him on his one-way journey into the past in order to stop him.Christopher Heyerdahl in Sanctuary (2008)This season opens with Magnus in 19th Century London, following Worth. He manages to wound her and escape, so she turns to one person she knows she can trust, he husband at the time, James Watson Together they have to stop Worth, but even if they do, how will Magnus manage to return to the 21stCentury? She does manage it, but it takes a very long time. Meanwhile Will has been put in charge of the New York Sanctuary by the Sanctuary Network, that mysterious body that runs the various abnormal shelters around the world. He’s having a rough time, as the US military wants to actually attack the invading army, especially after there’s a revolt in the refugee compound that’s housing several Hollow Earth abnormals in which the subterranean creatures take hostages and threaten to kill them. No one in authority will take Will’s calls, and withMagnus MIA he’s clearly out of his depth.Robin Dunne and Pascale Hutton in Sanctuary (2008)After that crisis, and Magnus’ return, things are different. The government is very leery of abnormals and they create a department, SCUI, to hunt down the Hollow Earth creatures that are still on the surface. Either imprisoning the abnormals that they capture or using them for experiments it’s a race between the bad military and the saintly Sanctuary to see who can locate and capture the renegade abnormals first.There are some very good episodes in this season. Monsoon, where Magnus is held hostage by some abnormal crooks while in an airport in Africa was a high point. Seeing the unarmed Magnus take out a group of ex-military super-humans was delightful.Amanda Tapping and Pascale Hutton in Sanctuary (2008)The series does wrap up (though there is room for more adventures) It was nice that the show did get a coda. All in al lSanctuary was an excellent show that lasted four seasons and left room for more stories to be told shold Syfy every decide to bring it back.

REVIEW: STARGATE UNIVERSE – SEASON 1

Starring

Robert Carlyle (One Upon A Time)
Louis Ferreira (Saw IV)
Brian J. Smith (Sense8)
Elyse Levesque (The Originals)
David Blue (Ugly Betty)
Alaina Huffman (Samllville)
Jamil Walker Smith (General Hospital)
Ming-Na Wen (Agents of Sheild)

SGU Stargate Universe (2009)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)
Michael Shanks (Smallvilel)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Ona Grauer (V)
Peter Kelamis (50/50)
Gary Jones (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young GUns)
Jennifer Spence (You Me Her)
Julia Benson (The Order)
Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (UnREAL)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Bradley Stryker (The Lizzie Bordern Chronicles)
Anna Galvin (Tin Man)
Peter DeLuise (21 Jump Street)
Dominic Zamprogna (Odyssey 5)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
Ryan Kennedy (Smallville)
Reiko Aylesworth (24)
Sarah Smyth (Supergirl)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Rukiya Bernard (Van Helsing)
Alisen Down (Smallville)
Vincent Gale (BatesMotel)
Louise Lombard (CSI)
Sean Blakemore (Bones)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Rhona Mitra (Doomsday)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Kirby Morrow (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)

David Blue in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)The stargate itself–an artificially created wormhole through which one can instantly travel to different worlds light-years away–is still around, but much else has changed. Gone, for the most part, are the rough-and-tumble adventures that were the specialty of SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, SGU‘s popular predecessors. Gone, too, are insouciant but charismatic and intrepid leaders like SG-1‘s Col. Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson does make several cameo appearances in that role in the course of these 20 episodes, offered here on six discs) and Atlantis‘s Col. John Sheppard.In their places, in addition to a new ongoing story line, is a rather less conventional approach, featuring a more minimalist vibe and an entirely fresh cast of earnest, intense, mostly youthful characters battling personal demons and complex interpersonal relationships, along with a myriad of technical issues more typical of sci-fi shows. If this all sounds very serious, well, these folks have a lot to be serious about.Robert Carlyle in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)Very early on, the “Icarus Base” is under alien attack, forcing military and civilian personnel alike to escape through the stargate. They end up aboard Destiny, a massive ship that’s millions of years old and was once the property of the omniscient master race known as the Ancients. Not only do our characters barely know how to operate the ship, they also have no idea where they are, except that it’s billions of light-years from Earth. It’s the responsibility of the two main men, Col. Everett Young (Justin Louis) and scientist Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle), to figure out how to get everyone home safely, a task that dominates the series’ overall arc.Elyse Levesque and Brian J. Smith in SGU Stargate Universe (2009)That dicey proposition is complicated considerably by ceaseless internecine conflict on the ship, much of it between soldiers and civilians (typified by Young and Rush, both of whom are self-righteous, utterly humorless, and not especially likable).Much of the action takes place on Destiny, but there are occasional excursions to various planets in search of water and other supplies; there are also trips to Earth made possible by magical “communication stones” that allow users to exchange bodies with folks on the other end. As is the case with many new programs, SGU takes a while to hit its stride, but when that happens about a third of the way into the season, the results are often quite exciting; SGU may not be as much fun as the earlier shows, but it’s still well written and entertaining, with excellent production values, good special effects.