Archive for the Romance Category

Portland Horror Film Festival 2017: Short-Length Horror Shorts Part 2

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Fantasy, horror, Movies, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2017 by aliciamovie

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‘Blackbird’

Country: UK

Director: Tim Fellingham & Charlotte Stente Nielsen

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

What happens when the one you think is your savior, turns out to have been your tormentor all along? Here on a lonely stretch of nowhere, a man with a concussion and severe memory loss, apparently from getting tossed from his motorcycle, goes to save a runaway maiden in a nightgown. The both of them hole up together trying to figure out what they’re running from, and through a series of dreams and flashbacks and one horrible “gotcha!” moment involving a blackbird tattoo, discover they really do know each-other, a little too well for either ones comfort.

The use of Memento-like timelines and flashbacks can be perfectly fine, but I thought a little too much emphasis was placed on atmosphere and not enough on the story itself. If a movie, either short or feature-length, has only two actors in it, it is very likely that the villain is one of them; it kind of lessens the potential shock value. Nevertheless, should the story be expanded, the short could have real potential.

‘The Dark Hunger’

Country: USA

Director: Anthony Williams

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

What to do when one discovers a supernatural cannibal terrorizing your neighborhood? No calling in the CIA or some paranormal equivalent, no, some sort of mafia-like gang kidnaps the man they call Dead Fred and stick him in a cell, to be fed their enemies. Because Dead Fred is a full cannibal and always cleans his plate, so there’s no evidence left behind. And when we meet up with our cannibal hero, it looks like he’s been enduring this setup for awhile.  His Dark Passenger, the actual cannibal vampire in his skull with the awesome deep voice, is content to stay in prison so long as the captors keep feeding it, but Fred has other ideas. Despite that not actually being his real name, Dead Fred decides to embrace the pseudonym and make a deal with his Dark Passenger to get out of this prison and find the man at the top, the real mastermind monster who put Fred here in the first place!

It’s never easy to combine a supernatural element with an attempt at Hannibal Lecter-like characters, and yet somehow The Dark Hunger manages it nicely. The short reads like a trailer for a film that I would certainly watch, and I sincerely wished the short was one of the longer short films, so I could pretend it was a movie. With even some of the better notes of 30 Days of Night thrown in, The Dark Hunger should make Director Williams an up-and-comer worthy of keeping an eye on.

‘Chateau Sauvignon: Terroir’

Country: USA

Director: David E. Munz-Maire

Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10 

If you could ever imagine what a winery run by Children of the Corn would be like, then the Chateau Sauvignon is for you. The stark landscape, dead animal skulls and eerie wine-making equipment that looks suspiciously like butchery pressings all serve to provide an atmosphere that screams Horror. And almost immediately, it turns out, the vitner equipment really does still make wine for the tourists and all, but is also being used in the butchery of at least some of those tourists, to keep Mom alive. (Whether Mom is a zombie, some kind of vampire, cannibal or anything else, is unclear.) But the meat juice is beginning to run out, Son is becoming concerned, and Dad is just trying to hold everything together, despite Moms condition. Two new tourists have come late to the winery and Son wants to give them the full tour, no matter what Dad says – here sample some of our wine, over here is some of the processes we use to make our vintages, and by the way, your son is a jackass, here’s a glass pouring beaker shoved into your skull. Because Mom needs to be fed, and wine isn’t cutting it anymore.

A very fine short, all kinds of atmospheric and moody, though I would have liked to have a bit more to the story. What kind of creature is Mom now, how did she get this way, what happens to all of them when the meat juice finally runs out? Perhaps for the next series of Horror shorts from Director Munz-Maire, or, he could turn the whole thing into a feature-length jaunt – I would watch it.

‘Death Metal’

Country: USA

Director: Chris McInroy

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

Dude man, I get you, hail Satan and Metal is God and all that, you bet. But if you’re handed Grand-dad’s axe (as in guitar), that he supposedly got from the Dark Prince himself, along with three important rules to follow when using it, you’d want to adhere to them and be respectful wouldn’t you? It doesn’t seem as though frustrated metal-head Lars gives two damns about any of that, and immediately goes off to break all three rules jamming in the afternoon at the park on the axe. Is it any wonder that the axe-head breaks off from the rest of the guitar and goes hog-wild?

I saw Lars and his dumbassery at another Horror film festival and thought it was hilarious then, as now. It’s always so cute to see the Metalheads tossing the horns and headbanging for all they’re worth, because of course Satan’s all kinds of into that. Just never forget, Lucifer has a very wicked sense of humor, too.

‘As They Continue to Fall’

Country: USA

Director: Nikhil Bhagat

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

Whether you’re a fan of the Prophecy series, or saw the film Legion and the short-lived Syfy show it spawned, Dominion, Angels are fairly well-known these days as something other than the be-winged halo’d bringers of light and Gods love. What we have here is the somewhat now-familiar trope of the hobo hero hunting bad guys, in this case actual Angels, and it must be said, doing a fair job of it. From the looks of the feather trophies that line his coat, keeping him warm, our hobo hero is no-one to be trifled with. (Because really, depending upon which hierarchy of Angel you’re fighting, you could strap a nuke to the Angelic type and he’d laugh at you.) Our hobo hero has been dealing with Angelic visions all his life, but now after the apparent end of the world, has taken to hunting them down with vim and vigor. And who could blame him? What is an Angel, after all, but another Devil just waiting to fall?

Many of the minds who worked on this short have made major names for themselves elsewhere (Sinister, Deus Ex, The Thing, the NBC TV show Dracula, to name only a few), and they managed to cobble together a short awesome to watch. The future dystopian world where our hobo hero hunts Angels is clear and perfectly understandable, while much is still left open to audience interpretation and judgment, and in building a world like this, that is what we would prefer.

Portland Horror Film Festival 2017: Short-Length Horror Shorts

Posted in comedy, drama, Foreign, horror, Movies, Romance, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Horror lives on in our hearts all year ‘round, and all across the world too. The fears we share cross all manner of cultural and gender lines, creating a fandom unique to any other. Because if we unite and share our fears, through glorious films and shorts, perhaps some of those fears will be lessened in shared fandom.

‘Last Resort’

Country: USA

Director: David Schneiderman

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

What couple thinks it’s a good idea to take a Horror vacation, when one half of the couple isn’t into Horror? Apparently these people do, and in the role reversal of the common, the female in this relationship is the Horrorphile and her boyfriend the reluctant tagalong. Mel the girlfriend wants the immersive Horror weekend promised in the Horror Haven brochure, which includes bloodstains in the shower, a purportedly dead body in the closet, and a cannibal wine host who likes to dance while ranting and isn’t too smart about where he leaves his tools. Oh, and don’t forget the singularly unhelpful delivery guy who keeps getting lost.

A campy little romp that pokes fun at “experience” camps and Horror in general, Last Resort reminds us that no matter how clever you think you’re being, the universe is still laughing at you. And inside the Horror universe, it’s a damned cackle.

‘Black Ring’

Country: Turkey

Director: Hasan Can Dagli

Review Rating: 9 out of 10

What looks like a professional photography setup in a rundown Turkish castle turns out to hide something far more sinister. Considering the men doing the initial setup look like European gangsters, one would think the chosen who participate in the lottery from hell would be more leery about being handed a black disc. But alas, these bright young beautiful things are here for their shot at fame, and for many of them, it is their very last shot. The shock value the artist and his audience are hunting seems almost gorgeous in the grotesquerie, and reminds a great many of us just how jaded we really are. You really can make art out of someone’s death, but how could you possibly top that?

This short was incredible, and I’ve seen a freaking ton of Horror shorts. To be able to do an entire art-house Horror piece, as a short film no less, where not a single character speaks, is even more mind-blowing. The images and ideas brought across come both starkly dark and breathtakingly bloody, mixing styles like an astounding master painter on the movie screen. Seriously, Director Dagli needs to get on making feature-length Horror movies, and right now.

‘A Fathers Day’

Country: UK

Director: Mat Johns

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

What Daddy doesn’t want to protect his little girl from the Horrors of the world? Well, what happens when both you and your daughter are already zombies, does the protecting stop once you’ve died? Of course it doesn’t! You still want to protect your drooling, growling baby, and provide fresh-ish entrails for her, and push her on the merry-go-round while she twitches. And when the human survivors take aim at your zombie daughter, when she goes to protect you, is the proudest moment any Daddy, dead or alive or anything in between, can experience!

A wonderful little short done in the sympathetic style of the movie Warm Bodies, A Father’s Day reminds us that the love of a parent for their child transcends all preconceived boundaries, and that includes even death.

‘The Gift of the Woods’

Country: USA

Director: Kris Theorin

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

Everyone knows the woods are lovely, dark and deep, but also, that they’re full of ancient creatures, some of whom are monsters. The little girl in the short is an innocent, wanting nothing more than to skip along in the woods and enjoy the bug and plant life, when she happens upon a stump with a dolly on it. The dolly itself is unusual, more like a voodoo doll than anything else, with a bloody paw-print adorning its stomach. And of course when the girl takes the dolly off the stump, it wakes the creature who made the dolly, wanting it back!

Some say even monsters have nightmares. Some monsters even need a teddy, or a dolly, to sleep with to keep their own dream-monsters away. That thought basically sums up the end of this wonderful and sadly far too short Horror cartoon short. Don’t steal another nightmares’ teddy, and if you do, give it back before the sun sets!

‘Hope’

Country: Norway

Director: Adam A. Losurdo

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

So the zombie apocalypse has come and gone, and the world remains pretty much the same, with one or two tiny exceptions – the shuffling zombies still around. They don’t eat brains, they just kind of die and shuffle along, to be abused and ridiculed by the still-living. Here we have Carl, our zombie forever dressed like a soda jerk, completely without hope as he, you guessed it, shuffles along. Carl gets harassed by young girls on bikes, has his shoes stolen, gets his dumb self buried by the meanie living (not buried alive, reburied dead I guess), only to be rescued by a female zombie inevitably named Hope, and instant attraction. After a whirlwind romance, Hope is inevitably killed and that’s when poor Carl finally becomes the killer zombie he was meant to be.

The short is a fun little turnaround on who the real monsters are – the zombie who doesn’t even eat brains and never did no-one any harm, or the still-alive folk who keep bedeviling him. Everyone has a breaking point, even zombies apparently. After all, how would you react if the love of your unlife was slain (again!) in front of you?

DC’s ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Season Two Finale: Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom!

Posted in Action, comedy, Comics, drama, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2017 by aliciamovie

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 Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Spoilers are totally Legendary!

Time is never on the Legends’ side, so we’re diving right into this! So, what do we know? The beginning of the season had Captain Rip Hunter missing and Sarah Lance taking his place, mostly to the agreement of the rest of the Legends. Whilst searching for Rip, the team picked up some stray new Legends, mainly from the 1940’s Justice Society of America in the form of Amaya, and Nate Heywood, historian and time investigator who gets himself some spiffy powers along the way. The search for Rip Hunter also brought together the aptly named Legion of Doom, comprised of original members Eobard Thawne a.k.a. Zoom from the Flash-verse; Malcolm Merlyn of the Arrow world, former League of Assassins boss; and Damien Darhk, also of the Emerald Archer’s life, magic-using baddie and the slayer of the Black Canary, making him a personal mark for Captain Lance. And unfortunately the Legion gets ahold of Rip Hunter first, cuing him for a brief turn as a bad guy while everyone else gears up for the hunt of the ultimate legendary artifact, the Spear of Destiny!

Yes, LOT went there, it is a show about fighting bad guys through time and all. So in this world, the Spear of Destiny is the thing that pierced the side of Christ himself, yes that thing, that when wielded with a certain incantation of some ancient book, can rewrite reality itself according to the users desires. Of course the Legion wants the Spear, every one of them has stuff in their past they’d much rather erase or change the outcome of, but Thawne in particular was a very bad boy and is being pursued through time and space by the Black Flash. The Black Flash is a form of Death in the Speedforce and in this world the manifestation of what became of enemy Hunter Zolomon after he was carted away by two Time Wraiths. (I know; just go with it.)

So skimming Rip Hunter’s brain led them to search for the pieces of the Spear, that Rip Hunter had judiciously broken up and hidden all over time and space. The hunt for the pieces and the Spear itself, once put back together again, has a tendency to bring out the bad ghosts in our various Legends, but none more so than our firebug thief Rory, still missing his beloved partner Leonard Snart after all this time. So of course, to persuade Rory to join the purported winning side, the Legion of Doom scurries back to Central City in 2014, before Snart joined the Legends and became a reluctant Hero, and pops him out to recruit his partner into stealing the Spear for the lot of them. And yes, sadly, it does work. (I love me some Wentworth Miller forever, and yes I’m very well aware Captain Cold is originally a bad guy, but this villainous return in the latter half of LOT Season Two is a shade disheartening.)

The last couple of episodes of the season are basically an alternate version of reality even for LOT, after the Legion went Spear-happy. And while seeing our familiar characters as darker alternate versions of themselves may be amusing for a few minutes, it gets tired real fast. Then again, the season finale has the entire team going back in time to an event they already visited and changed, resulting in multiple versions of most of them arguing amongst themselves even as they try to fight the Legion for control of that damnable Spear!

So what are we doing back in 1914 with a certain soldier named John Tolkien, again? We’re going to get the blood of Christ in the hidden vial on a war-torn battlefield to get the Spear to work, but plans are being thwarted by alternate-Legends and of course the Legion of Doom’s interference too. After doubt and discussion, every single last one of our Legends is coming out swinging, even as Zoom shows up with an ass-load of yellow Speedster reinforcements! What to do?

Sara Lance has long been the standout character on this show. From her League of Assassins on Arrow origins in the Black Canary leathers that she left her sister Laurel as a legacy, to the white leathers she wore in Season One of LOT, where she swayed hearts and minds alike with sincere care of her friends and family, and unapologetic joyful bisexuality, Sara Lance was the right choice for replacement Captain in Season Two. So when Sara is holding the Spear of Destiny and everyone’s about to get annihilated by the Legion of Doom, we can trust that even though she protests she’s too full of darkness, that as Rip Hunter says, “I believe in you.” Her final method of dealing with Zoom, arguably the leader of the Legion of Doom in this incarnation, is justifiably clever and very much a White Canary move.

Of course none of that mattes when, after depositing the surviving Legion guys into summary punishments and saying some other goodbyes, the Waverider is rocked by a time-quake and our Legends are tossed out of the time-stream into some totally messed up version of reality that’s like an Escher fever-dream – skyscrapers twisted into fantastical shapes, dinosaurs roaming freely, and way too many different timeline styles all jumbled together! Captain Lance’s statement of, “Guys, I think we broke Time,” appears to be a massive understatement.

Season Two lacked a good deal of the main plot points from Season One, mainly Vandal Savage and the Hawk-peoples, but these can actually be considered strengths for this new Season. Instead we have the formation of the Legion of Doom, and honestly, the Doom-centric episodes of LOT are just some of the most adorable, bumbling arguing-amongst-yourselves villainy ever, and a sheer joy to watch. Picking up these new Legend character, Amaya and Nate, may have been a long shot, but the Hawk folk needed replacing. Amaya happens to be (or will be, whatever) the Grandmother of future Arrow heroine Mari McCabe also known as Vixen, which has already happened on the other show and is therefore canon, so Amaya struggles with the concept of proposed destiny holding her back from living her current life. As for Nate Heywood, he also has roots through his father and grandfather in the JSA, and a long comic book history of repeated use of the name Steel, both powered and not. Taken altogether, the newer parts of Legends of Tomorrow are mostly pluses, and far outweigh any comic book canon minuses. And the setup for Season Three of Legends of Tomorrow opens doors for all sorts of other well-known and lesser-known DC heroes, villains, and show cross-overs!

‘Sleepy Hollow’ Season Four Finale: All Four of them damned Horsemen

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Historical, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

 When we last left our intrepid supernatural freedom fighters, things weren’t going very well. Agent Mills had died, Crane (Tom Mison) got himself forcibly recruited to the Washington branch of Agency 355, the supernatural agency and library built by Washington himself, and fans of the show were pretty disappointed all around in the cult-y dark horse favorite Sleepy Hollow. This new season had a ton to make up for if the show expected to keep even half of their loyal viewership. Let’s get into this, and see how they did!

Spoilers – bear Witness! 

So we all know, it has to be two Witnesses, no more and no less. The uncertain nature of the second Witness in this season managed to not become annoying, but only just. First we swore it had to be Agent Thomas (Janina Gavankar) of Homeland Security, because one of the main side plots of this season focuses on Crane’s grand faith in America and D.C. in particular, so we needed a way to get to the President. (Who, on this show, is a black woman, potentially a clear apology from the showrunners about the previous death of Abbie Mills, a beloved character who happened to be a black woman and got a huge fan backlash for it. ) Then the show swore up and down that it’s actually Agent Thomas’ daughter Molly (Oona Yaffe), the odd little girl who can draw mysterious supernatural portraits like no-one’s business, who just up and decides to stop talking to anyone until she meets Ichabod Crane in person. And for awhile, the little girl gets to be the focus of the show, fighting monsters and supernatural stuff while the adults try to keep abreast of everything else going on.

What else is going on? Mainly, this super-rich batshit crazy guy Malcolm Dreyfuss (Jeremy Davies), well he made a deal with the Devil for his soul, like you do, and is now spending most of his efforts and money into making himself immortal, thereby negating said deal. Even his pet demon servant Jobe (Kamar de Los Reyes), he’s more like the butler from Black Butler, and does a fair job of it too. Condensing it all down, Dreyfuss wants to put together the Philosopher’s Stone with the right other ingredients to make himself immortal, and of course somehow the blood of Ichabod Crane and his line gets muddled in there too.

Back at Agency 355, Jenny Mills (Lyndie Greenwood) has unsurprisingly shown up to help fight off evil creatures, gather magical artifacts, and in general be another badass (potential apology) black woman character. Her character gets little in the way of personal storyline this season, but she’s had that in previous seasons, and we need to get on to the newer members of the group! Alex Norwood (Rachel Melvin) and Jake Wells (Jerry MacKinnon) had previously been lackadaisical caretakers of Agency 355, when Crane and company showed up and turned everything on its head, because magic and the supernatural and such is really real, yall. Alex is our somewhat skeptical engineer type, she struggles with the holy-shit aspects of having to fight the supernatural on a regular basis. Jake on the other hand is a total fanboy of all things occult and Witness-y, fawning over Crane initially and still giddily trippin about it by the season finale. These new characters are a little like us fans got to be in the show as them, all boring and normal until suddenly one day, damn man, that’s Ichabod freaking Crane and we’re shooting at zombie militia now!

So, up to speed now, Dreyfuss has managed to do his thing with the Philosopher’s Stone and is no in theory immortal, he’s begun having visions of remaking America in his own tyrant-y little image, annnnnd Molly-from-the-future just showed up. This third incarnation of the second Witness is the young adult version of Molly, from an alternate future where Dreyfuss has fucked America ten ways from Sunday but for some reason also adopted Molly as his protégé-daughter, re-naming this alternate version Lara (Seychelle Gabriel). Discovering this new development, Dreyfuss decides to go ahead with his diabolic plans of raising all four of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and through some bloody supernatural skull-duggery, Henry Parrish rises again to fight for the mantle of War.

The finale episode sees Dreyfuss attempting to send all four of the Horsemen to attack and subdue the President of the United States herself, and of course the Witnesses and their cohorts have to come out and stop them!

The speech Ichabod Crane gives to his son Henry Parrish (John Noble), even as War is about to cut them down, was very patriotic in a kind of subtle way, and could also in theory be taken as a reminder to our politicians right now – we are a nation built on freedom, and we are willing to do damn near anything for that freedom, including giving that sissy talking and peace a chance, ugh, okay, truce for a bit. Crane was a wonderful Hamilton-like character throughout most of the season, but him making a deal with the Devil when they voluntarily went to Hell, as a potential build-up for what Crane will be facing next season, I thought was a little contrived. Though I must admit, Terrence Mann as the Devil himself did a very fine job, and it was a lot better as him than if FOX had put Tom Ellis in that spot. Just saying.

We see the President (Charmin Lee), her own bad black woman self, make Ichabod Crane an actual citizen of the United States, and how it touches him so, reminding us that to be from American is supposed to be something to be proud of. The new characters are pretty good, the old ones have been polished up some, and the bad guys are plentiful in the Sleepy Hollow horseman tradition. Season Four made up for quite a bit Season Three lacked, so yes, if there is a Season Five, I’d watch it and suggest you do the same.

‘Cosplay Melee’ Premiere: Swing for the Fences!

Posted in Action, Anime, Cartoon, comedy, Comics, drama, Fantasy, Foreign, Historical, horror, Movies, Musical, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

So the SyFy channel is taking another stab at the fandom with the mostest, the cosplayers! You know, those insane peoples who like to make their own, often movable, skit-able, even stage and screen-ready costumes, to bring their favorite fandoms to life! One can’t even say it’s a kids or younglings game anymore, in the premiere episode one of the contestants was over 40. This is a fandom that people of all ages, genders, colors and backgrounds love, and is generally acknowledged by true cosplayers as all-inclusive, meaning no-one should ever be excluded or discouraged from cosplaying, for really any reason. (The so-called Ambassadress of Cosplay, Yaya Han, got herself some disapproval after she claimed on the short-lived SyFy show Heroes of Cosplay that cosplaying isn’t necessarily for people with larger body types. And that was the nice way of re-wording what she said.)

Cosplay is officially a full-fledged fandom these days, rather than any kind of hobby. And it would have to be, considering cosplay can now cost you would not believe how much money, often to make a single costume replication absolutely spot-on perfect, and yet still be able to wander around conventions wearing it the entire time, of course posing for multiple pictures too. Cosplayers rarely get paid (I wanted to say never but times are changing and cosplayers are being hired to advertise video games and such now), and the making of these fan-atical costumes require a ton of work, time, and energy. I think everyone should try it, but honestly not everyone can do a good Cosplay. If we’re gonna have a game show based around the ability to Cosplay, it had better be good, better, best, a passion, an obsession, a love that is almost scary. And that’s actually what this new show seems to be presenting, thank goodness.

We have a host who is also a judge, Yvette Nicole Brown, of Community fame and apparently a huge fangirl of all things geeky; LeeAnna Vamp, named as one of the “Best Comic-Con Cosplayers of All Time” and nerdy fashion model, fan-atic, and all-around jane of all things geekery; and Christian Beckman, builder, costume designer, creator, President of Quantum Creation FX, Inc., his creations have adorned movies like Tron: Legacy, Men In Black 3, and Ender’s Game, just to name a few. Basically, we have the “everyman, I love everything” Judge (Brown), the “make it pretty” Judge (Vamp), and the “make it work” Judge (Beckman); that totally works for me.

Four contestant cosplayers come in to the lab, very similar to the one they have for Face Off, they get given the theme for this contest, and then they go by rounds to get to this weeks winner. The pilot episode theme is Space Opera, and the opening challenge is to begin from the head down, with a helmet or headgear for your original character from whatever fandom you’ve chosen. On to our contestants!

Fred, the eldest at some 40+, loves him some SciFi, and of course the gateway drug to that world was inevitably Star Trek, so guess which space opera he picked for his character. Xavier is the tall and very quiet black guy, the huge Star Wars fan who’s already made a fan-film from the ‘verse and making that armor was what got him into cosplaying in the first place, so his characters theme is chosen too. Grace is a cop in real life, somehow even with that incomprehensibly long red hair, so she chooses a bounty hunter character in the Guardians of the Galaxy universe, where badass women abound, as it should be. And finally, Alicia of the mermaid hair is mildly uncomfortable in this genre, so she chooses the world of Chronicles of Riddick for her character, with their Necromonger armor as inspiration.

The first round concludes and while I didn’t agree with the judges’ elimination choice (as often happens on these kinds of SyFy shows), I stuck around to see what the remaining contestants would come up with and who would win the $10,000 prize. Round two consisted of mechanical parts being presented to the players, that they had to make some sort of flying jet-pack doohickey with as part of their characters’ costume. Hot glue, flying craft foam and mayhem ensue.

In the end, the quiet Star Wars fan who was bullied as a child took home the win, as his costume was the most cohesive and easily read as being from the Star Wars universe. The judges were all kind and helpful and reluctant to choose one over another and thereby eliminate anyone, but I felt that’s simply because they wanted to encourage the players to continue doing what they love, cosplay, and not play up any lack on their part that caused the loss of the contest.

So far it’s a fairly standard SyFy contest show, in the vein of Face Off and the like, that you could actually learn cosplay techniques from if you pay attention. Not everyone has access to giant portable heaters and hot glue guns and craft foam with designations like they came from an aircraft carrier, but the show is making sure to name at least some of the things they’re using, and sometimes suggesting cheaper alternatives. It’s a fun little show and worth giving a try at least once.

Celebrate all the fandoms and fan-atics with Cosplay Melee on the SyFy channel, Tuesdays @ 10/9c!

‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’: Beware the kitten shark!

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2017 by aliciamovie

dirk-gentlys

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Spoilers totally in the aether!

Welcome to another cheerfully zany and wacky BBC adaptation of a classic Douglas Adams story, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency! Yes there are massive spoilers to follow, but then this is another show where if you talk about one thing, it inevitably leads to another spoiler, just proving that, as they say on the show, everything really is connected! You were warned!

So Todd (Elijah Wood) isn’t having the best life. His bellhop job sucks and he’s about to be fired from it anyway, there is virtually no money to speak of, his sister Amanda (Hannah Marks) has this odd disease and needs fairly constant care, and to top it all off, he just met Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett). After catching a vision of himself in a very odd getup following Gently, Todd gets himself caught up in Dirk’s world of half-baked suppositions, barely understood clues, and connections that are more often than not out of this world!

It takes a good deal of hullaballoo and storytelling frippery to get the explanatory episode, so I’m going to go ahead and broadly spoil as much of it as I can explain. Some years in the past, an inventor, Patrick Spring, made a time machine that actually worked. In fact, it worked a little too blasted well. After encountering different versions of himself from the present-past and the future, our inventor decides to get rid of the time machine, but of course by then its far too late. This odd secret society of folk have discovered that the time machine has other useful properties to explore, and start switching their spirits into other bodies. (This process can be used even on animals, sometimes with interesting magical side effects too, hence the kitten shark..) Lydia Spring (Alison Thornton) is the modern-day heir of our original inventor and the secret society of body-swapping sort-of immortals are after her, and a whole mess ends up with Lydia switching bodies and spirits with her corgi dog. The hunt for Lydia is on, and all perceptions of regular reality must be suspended before we can go on to assist Dirk in his holistic investigation!

Dirk has plenty of secrets and troubles of his own, aside from being unable to fully explain what a “holistic detective” does to Todd, or incapable of fully understanding the impact his presence alone will have on the boring life of the ex-bellhop. Estevez (Neil Brown Jr.) and Zimmerfield (Richard Schiff), Missing Persons cops looking for Lydia too, have taken to following him. Gordon Rimmer (Aaron Douglas), the self-proclaimed leader of the super secret society, has sent beaters after Dirk too. And oh yeah, “holistic assassin” Bart Churlish (Fiona Dourif) and her friendly little hostage Ken (Mpho Koaho), are hunting Dirk Gently for inexplicable reasons too. Meanwhile, the former bodyguard of Lydia’s father, Farah Black (Jade Eshte), is looking for Dirk because she thinks he’ll know how to find Lydia and what might have befallen her. Also the Rowdy 3, a gang of guys with some kind of psychic abilities that the government has been trying to study (along with others, like Dirk himself) are out and about, ready to give spiritual and sometimes physical beatdowns to those who need it the most!

The show itself is incredibly zany, with plenty of nailed British-style cheek, and often tongue-in-cheek humor that, even when put into context with some kind of “okay, maybe that makes sense” explanation, is so wacky one just has to laugh at it. Or scream. Todd sometimes does both, in that memorable Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins turning into his own Gollum style. Fiona Dourif is the daughter of Brad Dourif, known for his own unique style of acting, and she brings the legacy of her fathers distinct madness to the role. Seeing Aaron Douglas as several noticeably different characters in one body is a rare treat. And while the iffy science may not always make sense, like another enduringly famous BBC show, the formation of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency at the end of season one makes the whole weird, wild and wonderful ride one worth taking!

Go back in time with Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season One on BBC America!

‘Timeless’ Season One Finale: Protect the Past, Save the Future (of ‘Timeless’)!

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Historical, Romance, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

So the time machine trope has been kind of done to death at this point. Regardless of whether or not its meant as comedy (see Fox’s new opus, Making History) or a Sci-Fi drama (my current favorites are The Time Machine and Primer) or anything else, all us fans now know the moment anyone busts out a time machine, it’s all downhill from there. Ripples in time, like ripples in a pond, go concentrically out and have a tendency to affect the past, present, and potentially even the future. But who cares! We’re doing it again, and hopefully we will have learned from past – are they past? Future? Alternate past? something – mistakes enough not to repeat them.

We begin with this private industry company, Mason Industries, who made a time machine. And then, as was inevitable, this mad dude called Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic), stole it. Then, of course, three less-than-ordinary folks were conscripted to take the second time machine prototype the company was already building, called the Lifeboat, and go after Flynn!

Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer) is a passionate History professor second to none, rather like Dr. Nathan Heywood from Legends of Tomorrow in her ability to drop all kinds of interesting information on nearly any time period in history you can think of! Rufus Carlin (Malcolm Barrett) is a scientist who helped build the infernal time machines, and bears the enormous responsibility of being the only one able to pilot the silly thing when our trio goes back on their trips. And rounding them out is Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanter), a U.S. Army Delta Force operative, with a bunch of darkness in his own past and his own personal vendetta concerning the murder of his wife. All three are reluctant and skeptical to strap into the rounded pod of an untested time machine, but that first jaunt to stop Flynn from preventing the Hindenburg disaster changes all their tunes!

And what’s Flynn’s problem? In true Doctor Who fashion, Flynn got ahold of a diary (it even has a blue leather cover, hah) Lucy compiled and somehow wibbley-wobbly-timey-wimey gave to him, describing all the time travel adventures she actually hasn’t gone on yet. Flynn’s plan is to use the information in the diary and the stolen time machine to stop Rittenhouse, the nefarious collective of blue-blooded families who’ve existed throughout fairly-recent history working their evil schemes from without and within, like the Illuminati in a Dan Brown novel or something, to ultimately take over and remake the world in their desired image. It also doesn’t help Flynn’s fragile emotional state that Rittenhouse, indirectly or not, caused the disappeared-death of his beloved wife and daughter when they started mucking about with time travel. Them ripple effects, they are a bitch.

Mason Industries, led by Connor Mason (Paterson Joseph) himself, get to endure a hierarchy shake-up when Special Agent Denise Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey) of Homeland Security comes in to take over the super-secret time travel project, determined to find and stop Flynn at nearly any cost. Jiya is a programmer at Mason Industries and also happens to be Rufus’ girlfriend, being trained on the side to pilot the time machine herself, which will effectively negate any need for Rufus once she’s done. Mason has the dubious privilege of being harried by Rittenhouse and Homeland and troubled by the chosen threesome’s own issues throughout the series, and while I understand and even empathize with his plight, I wish we had gotten to see a little more of what he stood to lose in the background. Agent Christopher always proves to be on the side of our trio but never forgets she has a job to do, and it does come to a head at the end, when the inevitable choice of duty vs. heart has to be made.

So where, and when of course, has our trio been to in this glorious first season? Mason Industries dutifully provides them with entire outfits for the appropriate time period, though of course nothing can be done about the fact that Rufus is a black man, and in his own words, “History hasn’t exactly been kind and understanding to my people.” Lucy does manage to turn her potential failing of being female into an actual asset, especially when faced with situations like needing to talk Kennedy’s mistress into a mission, or encouraging little-known black female mathematician Katherine Johnson into saving the Apollo 11 flight. We’ve met Abraham Lincoln, heard Richard Nixon, thrilled at Bonnie & Clyde, Benedict freaking Arnold and General Washington himself, been in the murder castle of America’s first known serial killer H.H. Holmes, done escapes with Harry Houdini, been fired at by Jesse James, shared a drink with Charles Lindbergh and Ernest Hemingway and Josephine Baker too, even met the original Scarface (but don’t call him that), Al Capone. All the details of the time are lovingly, meticulously attended to, from the underground atmosphere of Prohibition to the breathless wonder of first-time space travel in 1969, no stone is left unturned, no vintage car or authentic 1800’s rifle overlooked. Even Lucy’s hairstyle is always carefully tailored to whatever time period she’s about to fly off to; I appreciate that kind of detailed love.

Spoilers really are Timeless!

So we’ve come down to the finale episode, and most of our heroes still haven’t quite decided what their end game is going to be. Wyatt seems to have finally given in to the fact that stealing the time machine and changing history just is not going to bring his beloved wife back; the idea that your beloved is fated to die by whatever means is just a huge bummer, man. Rufus has finally stood up to Rittenhouse and Mason himself, despite being their spy for most of the series, and is paying for it literally in blood, mostly coming from that gunshot wound in his chest. Special Agent Christopher and Mason have taken it upon themselves to collaborate, albeit reluctantly, to steal the lifeboat from under the noses of the Rittenhouse infiltrators that have managed to take over Mason Industries. Lucy is still desperate to take the time machine and go save her disappeared sister, especially after finding out that her father is Rittenhouse alumni and has plans for her pedigree to aid them, with or without her consent. Our trio have found out about a Rittenhouse summit meeting during the Joseph McCarthy red paranoia era of 1954 and are determined to go find Flynn, who’s gone off planning to just blow up the entire summit meeting, and stop all this nonsense once and for all!

But Rufus can’t very well fly a complicated time machine with a patch-job hole in his chest, thank you alternate-timeline Lucy’s now-ex-fiancee, so of course Jiya volunteers to come help drive. Rufus begs her not to, warning that the lifeboat was only ever built to carry three people through a wormhole, but things are hurtling forward and there’s no stopping them now, even though yes Jiya does pay a horrible potential price for it at the end.

Ethan Cahill, another Rittenhouse member who has some odd (for 1954) habits and also happens to be Lucy’s grandfather, after getting a clear demonstration of the ability of the Lifeboat, agrees to aid our intrepid time travelers as best he can – working as a mole, leading another kind of double life inside Rittenhouse, for as many long years as he can stand, gathering all information on them to aid our trio and ultimately Mason Industries. And while all this is roundaboutly successful in the end, all except for perhaps poor Jiya, the show finale ends with dawning horror of insurgency rampant again, as Lucy learns she hasn’t gone down the rabbit hole nearly far enough.

I know, sadly, that NBC still hasn’t decided on whether or not to have a Season Two of Timeless and that seems to me to be why the Season One finale ended up with both a wrapup and a cliffhanger. Personally, I loved me some Timeless and sincerely hope our heroes and heroines return for some all new wacky time travel adventures!

Travel back through the wormhole for all Timeless Season One episodes at NBC.com!