Archive for america

‘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

sleepyhollows4

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.

Advertisements

‘Taboo’ Premiere: There’s grit in my eyes

Posted in Action, drama, Foreign, Historical, horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2017 by aliciamovie

taboo-fx-poster-novo1

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Not a ton about this show was advertised before thrusting it upon us, other than the occasional teaser trailer and reporter yattering about a gritty new Tom Hardy performance. It turns out there is plenty going on behind the scenes, as the show is being made by Steven Knight, Tom Hardy himself, and Hardy’s father Edward, commonly called Chips. All three of these men worked in one form or another on Peaky Blinders too, so don’t be surprised if you see quite a bit of similarity, as I did.

So what do we know, after that interesting premiere? We’re here in Britain 1814, and Hardy’s character James Delaney has returned from a twelve-year stint in Africa, following the news of his fathers grave illness. James got here too late and can only attend his fathers funeral, after which a whole bunch of trickery and subterfuge go on due to a plot of land Father Delaney owned in America.

That’s a highly simplified version of the overarching plot, but the show doesn’t really get to the plot of land or why it’s so important until more than halfway through the premiere, instead spending time establishing atmosphere mood and of course peripheral characters.

Atmosphere is fairly easy – we’re talking Victorian London Jack the Ripper type era, very Sweeney Todd-esque. Everything is dirty and soot-covered, most everyone seems to wear the dowdiest colors they can possibly afford, and dirt and grit and horseshit are pretty much everywhere, even where there are other vehicles available, which also means motor oil and yet more grime. The general feeling is one of utter desolation, and the few bright spots of color stand out that much more oddly amongst the darkness, like the canary being taken into the mines.

The mood is enhanced, that is to say, further greyed, by the surrounding area, but then again, we are attending a funeral. Father Horace Delaney was acknowledged by many as a right bastard, though what misadventures led to that stigma will likely be addressed in further episodes. James didn’t arrive in enough time to even bid his father good-bye, and with his use of what looked like African mourning customs at the funeral itself, he didn’t make any friends. Of course, James’ time in Africa changed him so completely, I strongly suspect he could give less than a damn about making or keeping friends here at home, and indeed, as the show goes on and James is confronted about his inheritance by one foe and another, we discover James is now completely unpredictable and you just never know how he’ll react next. Which, I think, is one way the show could keep going – we wait breathlessly to see how James will jump when confronted by the vultures circling his inheritance.

Amongst those circling are Zilpha Geary, James’ half-sister, and her social-climber husband Thorne, who both expected to inherit the whole of Horaces will after his death and were livid when it turns out they don’t. For some small comfort of the trustworthy and actual usable information, James turns to his fathers former servant Brace, who smartly tells James to trust no-one and give no quarter anywhere. And rounding out the carrion-eaters coming to feast is Sir Stuart Strange, Chairman of the East India Company.

It turns out, as far as Horace Delaney’s will is concerned, James’ inheritance is effectively useless aside from one small plot of land on the American West coast called Nootka Sound. And why on earth could that be important? The war between America and Great Britain is still going on in this time, and that teensy plot of land Nootka Sound, it turns out, is a gateway for trade and commerce hotly contested by the Americans and the British, most especially the East India Company. They are, for those of you who may not know, the equivalent of the CIA and NSA, governed by old British men with divine mandate justification and royalty on their side, the Pinkertons of this world. The guys who branded and were always after Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Carribean films, if that helps. And oh do these guys want that little plot of land Nootka Sound that now belongs to James, oh they want it so bad, but they have no idea who they’re dealing with when it comes to attempting to coerce James by whatever means necessary – royal order, patriotic duty, even religious commandment – and his reactions are the brilliant Hardy performances we all love.

Catch all the Taboo drama on FX, Tuesdays @ 10/9c!

The Purge

Posted in Action, drama, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2013 by aliciamovie

purge1

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Universal International Pictures

MPAA Rating: R

Director: James DeMonaco

Review Rating: 7

In the not-too-distant future, during the newfound government ritual known as the Purge, a security consultant and his family are held hostage.

First you have to accept what the movie is laying out as a plot. Somewhere in the realm of potential soon-futures, the government has brain-washed the United States into participating in the Purge, one day out of the year where for twelve hours all crime is legal. Theft, rape, murder and torture, there is no help coming from the police or the EMTs, effectively, everyone is on their own. Every single last person in the film, child or adult, has a comment on the effects of the Purge, and most of the adults pay lip service to how much good the Purge does society. Some people take this as license to run free like madmen and women, letting prejudices run extra wild, and hunting the most dangerous prey of all, man. Others batten down the hatches with state-of-the-art security systems, or attend seemingly civilized lawn parties to watch further-out parts of town burn. Whatever your Purge plans are, be prepared to do whatever it takes to ride it out til the dawn.

So we have the Sandlin family. Ethan Hawke is Father James, respectable security firm mogul, proud of his accomplishments as the most high-end home security system available, one which he uses in his own house. Mother Mary is Lena Headey, and sadly the female strength she’s known for in most of her characters is only present at about the third act of the movie. Max Burkholder is son Charlie, the odd pale little inventor who likes his hiding places and plaintively asks his parents why they don’t participate in the Purge. And Adelaide Kane is Zoey Sandlin, the teenage daughter who learns real fast that her teenage rebellion barely scratches the surface of the potential darkness in any human soul. James makes a successful sale and comes home to lock everything down with his state-of-the-art security system, and ride out this years Purge with his family. Like always, right? Mary makes flippant note of neighborhood Purge parties and two-faced neighbors, then goes to do the same. Zoey is schmoozing with her boyfriend when she really shouldn’t be, so he’s still inside when lockdown goes into effect. And if that weren’t bad enough, Charlie just has to go and unlock the security system to let in the lone black man being hunted through their posh neighborhood! Thus the hunters, who frankly look and act to me like psycho murdering masked Mormons, descend on the Sandlin house and the mayhem begins!

Whew. That’s at least some nods at a setup and backstory before delving headlong into shadow hunting man through the dark scary house.  That’s pretty much all the second, and a good deal of the third act, is. There are some attempts at actual plot twists towards the very end, but honestly, that was predictable and nowhere near as shattering as the movie tried to make it. Not really a Horror, not much of a Thriller or Suspense either, The Purge sits lonely in the overlapping genre wasteland cracks.

The Warrior’s Way

Posted in Action, drama, Foreign, Historical, Movies, Romance with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2011 by aliciamovie

 

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Culture Unplugged Studios

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Sngmoo Lee

Review Rating: 7 Throwing Knives

After refusing a final mission of execution, a Ninja Assassin takes refuge in the American Badlands among friends and allies.

The idea of a Ninja, or at least a Japanese Bushi (Warrior) among cowboys, American outlaws and circus performers, is a little far fetched. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just, unlikely. And there is the inescapable fact that, well, the lead actor Dong-Gun Jang, is Korean. And hey, I’m all for diversity, but it kind of doesn’t help. I kept expecting to find out that this film was actually made or at least produced by Quentin Tarantino, it seems right up his alley – bad one-liners, expansive CGI and constant fight scenes, and an incongruously unlikely story that Tarantino would insist on playing out to the bitter end anyway.

So the warrior Yang, serving his clan faithfully as Assassin for many years, actually balks at the idea when his Master tells him he has to kill the last remaining member of their enemy clan they just defeated – which happens to be a female infant. Now I know American audiences would cringe at the idea, but, in certain traditional Asian cultures, that would happen without a moments hesitation. In this case, Yang refuses the order, steals the baby, and takes off to the American Badlands, where he makes friends and is eventually pursued by his clan for a final showdown. And of course, the town in the Badlands has it’s own set of bad guy nasties that Yang helps defend against, right after that big ole confrontation is when Yang’s own enemies show up.

Can’t say as I’ve seen lead actor Don-Gun Jang in anything else, but he has been in a lot of movies at this point, they just happen to be foreign. Kate Bosworth of Superman Returns fame stars as knife-wielding love interest Lynne. Geoffrey Rush is the former sharpshooter turned circus drunk Ron, he actually helps the limping storyline a little, I wish they had gone more into his backstory. The love scenes are actually fairly good, and if you can wrap your mind around the CGI and wire-fu fighting, it’s not bad either. The Warrior’s Way gets a rating of 7 Throwing Knives!