Monthly Archives: September 2012

Last Resort: “Captain” – Premiere Episode Review ‘The Hunter Becomes The Hunted’

If you enjoy conspiracy dramas and nautical thrillers such as “The Hunt For Red October”, ABC’s Last Resort will certainly pique your interest. Created by Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Karl Gajdusek, Last Resort is a refreshing change of pace from the plethora of crime procedural and medical dramas dominating prime time network television. Cinematic in visual scope and storytelling, Last Resort is poised to become the most highly acclaimed new television show debuting this fall.

The ambitious story of Last Resort could be taken right out of the pages of a Tom Clancy novel. The USS Colorado is a four billion dollar Ohio-class nuclear submarine armed to the teeth with torpedoes, tomahawks and 18 trident nuclear missiles. In addition to producing its own air and power, the USS Colorado is equiped with a prototype that can mask its magnetic signature. When an authenticated fire order intended to annihilate millions of Pakistani is received on a secondary channel designed to be used only in the event DC command is taken out, Captain Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) and executive officer Lt. Commander Sam Kendall (Scott Speedman) are faced with a paramount moral dilemma.

There are many interesting elements at play in the premiere episode entitled “Captain” which will strike a chord with viewers. The tension between obeying the chain of command which is deeply indoctrinated in officers and following one’s own moral compass forms the core of the first and second act. After refusing orders, 150 American men and women of the USS Colorado escape to and occupy the fictional exotic island of Sainte Marina, declaring itself a sovereign nation with the nuclear capacity to secure its independence and decimate their enemies at will. On the home front, the U.S. president is facing an impeachment vote and Washington is revealed to be corrupt at the highest levels of office. For a nation dealing with the erosion of personal freedoms, disillusionment of government and a highly scrutinized foreign policy, Last Resort zeroes in on themes that hit close to home as well as political issues abroad in an incredibly entertaining manner.

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Justice League, Volume 1 Origin (The New 52) Review

Justice League, Volume 1 Origin (The New 52) Review

Note: If you don’t know which comic to start reading, check out this review.

Courtesy DC Comics

There’s a kinetic energy that flies off the first page and doesn’t let up until you’ve reached the back cover. Non-stop action, gorgeous artwork, and fun character interactions make this a highly recommended read especially for newcomers like myself to the series. Justice League Volume 1 Origin is part of DC Comics’ New 52, where all the series in their catalogue hit the reset button and start from ground zero. In ‘Origin’, Batman is just an urban legend, Superman is ‘that alien guy from Metropolis’, and the word superhero is not part of the cultural lexicon.

Written by Geoff Johns, the story starts off in Gotham City with Batman meeting Green Lantern for the first time as they investigate a mysterious alien creature that leaves behind a strange cube believed to be a computer of sorts. I really enjoyed the bold, hyper-confident, characterization of Green Lantern and his interactions with the dark, brooding Batman; his polar opposite in terms of personality. When Green Lantern discovers his new ally doesn’t have any super powers he blurts out, “You’re not just some guy in a bat costume are you? Are you freaking kidding me!?!” Not one to be underestimated, Batman finds a way to quickly disarm Green Lantern’s ring unnoticed. Then Batman holds out the ring to an unarmed Hal Jordan and asks “What’s this do?”, followed by a funny disparaging zinger (I won’t spoil it here).

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The Best Web Series You Have To Watch! And Why They Matter.

There’s at least one thing The Walking Dead, Dexter, Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica and Lost have in common. Each of these television series have created on-line companion webisodes.  Webisodes or web series are free, accessible, bite-sized episodes typically 2 to 8 minutes in length that expand on the show’s narrative and build up a loyal fan-base. Although it’s not a new phenomenon, the growing popularity emphasizes how networks are exploring different distribution models to capitalize on an audience that is transitioning from watching their favourite shows on the tube to experiencing their entertainment instantly online whether it be on their laptop, tablet or smart phone. But as networks develop strategies to attract a new generation of tech savvy consumers, drive website traffic, and generate revenue are they becoming an unnecessary middle-men?

Because of advancements in technology, affordability of equipment and accessibility of broadband internet, aspiring filmmakers can produce high quality web series with a small budget that may find an on-line niche audience and become popular enough to gain corporate sponsors.  Actress/producer Eliza Dusku (Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who stars on acclaimed web series Leap Year and voice-over on the animated Torchwood: Web of Lies, explains, “It’s definitely more user-friendly and instantly accessible. I think there is creative cool stuff going on. You take out the middle man and the studios, even though I love the studios, call me? You get to really play, you get to really explore and have creative license and freedom.” So how can creative people work on projects they love, nurture a loyal fan base, and make money without involvement from studio executives or TV networks?

One example is how Avengers’ director Joss Whedon developed a new model where he is the studio and the writers and lead actors shared in the profits with his popular online three-part musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Whedon revealed to Forbes, “The initial investment was about $200,000. The budget with everybody actually being paid was about $450,000. With the movie and the soundtrack and everything we’ve been able to do with it, we made over $3 million with it”.  Dr. Horrible continues to make money each year with comic book spin offs and DVD sales. The success caught the attention of The CW network which will be debuting the mini-series on prime-time television on October 9th, 2012, several years after it was originally produced. A sequel starring original cast members Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day is already in the works.

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Revolution (TV Series): Pilot Episode Review – The Next Breakout Hit?

NBC’s Revolution comes with a pedigree most other new television shows would drool over. The pilot episode is directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens), written by Supernatural creator Eric Kripke and produced by J.J. Abrams (Alias, Star Trek) and Bryan Burk (Fringe). With recognizable names attached to the project and an intriguing premise, Revolution is poised to garner some much needed buzz to break through the deluge of numerous new shows debuting this fall. It also doesn’t hurt that NBC has made the pilot episode available on-line for advance viewing through Hulu.com and at NBC.com. NBC believes they have a bonafide hit on their hands, so it’s imperative for this show to hook in a large audience from the beginning or risk falling by the way side like “Flashforward” or “The Event”.

The formula for a successful serialized sci-fi drama is not an exact science however they are some basic elements needed to build a solid foundation. 1. A unique, compelling premise that can drive the show for multiple seasons. 2. An engaging cast of characters that the audience identifies with. 3. A core set of mysteries and unfolding, progressive mythology to sustain viewer interest 4. An amazing pilot episode that sets up the world, the characters, the stakes, and some water cooler moments that people will be talking about the next day. Of course there are many more aspects that are needed to make a great show; these are just the starting blocks.

In our society that relies on technology for every aspect of life from transportation, communication, entertainment, medical treatment and food manufacturing what would happen if the entire world became unplugged and regressed to the dark ages? Is technology the glue that keeps our families, communities and governments functioning or do our values and beliefs still hold some importance? Set in the near future, Revolution is the journey of a make-shift family fifteen years after all technology on the planet inexplicably stops working. Every car, airplane, refrigerator, cell phone, battery and light bulb powers off in an instant.

*The remaining article will contain some spoilers on the premiere episode. Continue reading if you’ve watched the episode or want to know more before diving into this series.

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Resident Evil: Retribution Movie Review – “Evil Goes Global”

Resident Evil: Retribution is a movie that plays like an action-horror video game: bereft of genuine psychological scares and meaningful character interactions but is bursting with head shots, explosions, hordes of undead cannibals and co-op boss fights. If you’ve seen any of the previous Resident Evil movies then you know exactly what’s in store. If you’ve also seen films like James Cameron’s Aliens or Len Wisemen’s Underworld, “Retribution” comes across as a pastiche of science fiction survival movies without bringing anything new to the genre in terms of action sequences, narrative scope or thematic elements. What “Retribution” semi-delivers is as escapist entertainment that attempts to pay homage to the popular video game franchise of the same name.

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Breaking Bad: Gliding Over All, Season 5 Episode 8

Breaking Bad: Gliding Over All, Season 5 Episode 8

Taking a closer look at Gliding Over All: Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 8

In a recent interview with Vulture, actress Laura Fraser who plays Lydia Rodarte-Quayle revealed how she got cast on Breaking Bad and her approach to playing a character with nervous energy. What’s most interesting is that she still has never met creator and executive producer Vince Gilligan. All of her auditions were taped; she never met anyone. After receiving notes from the casting director, she was offered the role on the third attempt. On conveying nervousness, Fraser explains “When I play Lydia, I was consciously trying to breathe from my upper body. No diaphragm breathing at all. Just chest breathing … I watched people like Jodie Foster and Tilda Swinton, roles where they’re kind of cornered and frightened, but they have a sort of dark, strong energy at the same time. On ‘Gliding Over All”, Lydia has every reason to feel cornered and frightened. Walt needs the names of the legacy payment recipients, but if she gives up the names there is no reason for Walt to keep her alive. “There’s this heightened sense of urgency as I go back for filming with each episode” says Fraser, “because I’m like, Am I gonna die this time?”

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Sizzling Hot! The Women of Spartacus

Courtesy Maxim

On a show that is known for ultra-violent gladiator battles, the women of Spartacus television series do not take a backseat to their male counterparts. Set in approximately 72 – 71 BC, women, like the men, are unhindered by Christian puritanical values and will scheme, betray, maim, slaughter, seduce or all of the above in their pursuit of power, wealth, societal status, freedom, love and vengeance. Unlike passive female characters on other television series, the women of Spartacus are the living embodiment of deception, sexual depravity, courage and tenacity.

For those that have never watched Spartacus, the character descriptions below, some of which intentionally sound like cheesy personal ads, are light on major spoilers, if any at all. However, the Best Kills section will contain spoilers but can only be viewed by hovering over it with your mouse. Caution: Some images may be too hot and provocative for you. Can you handle the hotness of Spartacus’ women? Find out below.

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