September 2005

Whedon Week Recap

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Uncategorized

Here are all the links to RazorFine’s first ever theme week which celebrated the the crazy worlds and ‘verses from BtVS and Angel to the soaring Friefly and Serenity all from the mad mind of Joss Whedon (seen here with the lovely and talented Amy Acker).  Hope you had as much fun as we did!  Full list of links inside the Full Diagnosis.

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Enjoy all the BtVS/Angel/Firefly review goodness!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season One

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Two

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Three

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Four

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Five

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Six

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven

Angel Season One

Angel Season Two

Angel Season Three

Angel Season Four

Angel Season Five

Firefly: The Complete Series

Serenity

 

 

Can’t Stop the Signal

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Serenity
  • IMDB: link

“I would rather have a show that a hundred people need to see than a thousand people like to see.” —Joss Whedon

serenity-posterHere’s a peculiar story, a television show that only aired for four months and was cancelled after a dozen episodes has been made into a movie. Joss Whedon’s short lived, but much beloved, Firefly told the story of Malcolm Reynolds and his crew in the distant future, got the whack from Fox Television.  Cancelled after only half a season into its run it produced big numbers when released on DVD and Whedon was asked to revive the franchise on the big screen.  So what’s the result?  Damn good if you ask me.

The movie begins four to eight months after the last episode of the series Objects in Space took place.  Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his crew are still doing what they do, trying to make a living, legal or criminal, out in the blackness of space.  The crew includes firstmate Zoe (Gina Torres) who served with Mal in the war for independence, on the losing side, her husband and pilot of the ship Wash (Adam Tudyk), the ship’s mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite), and the rather dim-witted muscle Jayne (Adam Baldwin).

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From Beneath You It Devours

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Uncategorized

It’s about power.  The final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer brings the series full circle as Buffy returns to Sunnydale High School, old faces return, and the Scooby Gang gathers all their forces to deal with The First!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 7
Custom Rating

This is it folks, the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and what a season!  Season Seven goes back to the beginning and returns many familiar faces including a great villain from the Season Three episode Amends.  Okay, for one last time, let’s take a look…

It’s not about right, not about wrong,
it’s about power

Returns are a big theme in Season Seven.  Spike (James Marsters) has returned to Sunnydale after being reinsouled and is living in the basement of the new high school where Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) has begun her freshman year.  The First returns to Sunnydale to declare war on Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and the entire Slayer line including all the girls who potentially might be chosen as the next Slayer.  Both Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Giles (Anthony Stuart Head) will return from England to join the fight.  Jonathan (Danny Strong) and Andrew (Tom Lenk) will return from hiding out in Mexico.  Even Faith (Eliza Dushku) and Angel (David Boreanaz) will show up to lend their support to the final battle.  Buffy and the gang band together with the potential slayers as they fight off The First which is impossible to destroy and has legions of followers under its command including Ubervampires and potentially Spike himself.  The biggest battle of the series will take place as the army of the chosen lines up against the First Evil.

The First is one of the most interesting villains of the series because it can be stopped, but never defeated.  Although incoporeal it appears as any person who has died, including Buffy herself.  One nice thing is that we get to see some of the old Buffy villains used as guises of The First including Warren (Adam Busch), The Master (Mark Metcalf), Glory (Clare Kramer), Drusilla (Juliet Landau), the Mayor (Harry Groener), and Adam (George Hertzberg).  The first has an army of Bringers, the Ubervamp (Erik Betts), a crazy Spike who has been triggered to go off at precisely the right moment, and a preacher (Nathan Fillion) who very much dislikes young girls.

The Scooby Gang

The season arc will take us back to the beginning, returning us to the mission statement of the series – It’s about Power.  The final arc gives us loads to watch and cheer about, even if some of the potential Slayers get annoyingly whiney.  One of my favorite moments of the series is Xander’s (Nicholas Brendon) speech to Dawn in the final minutes of Potential about the role of those who aren’t chosen.  Other great moments aplenty, here are a few…

Converstations with Dead People

Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Jonathan and Andrew, and Spike all have their own stories that do not intersect, but have something in common.  Each of our characters is put in a situation where they discover something frightening that may or may not be true.  Dawn is visited by Joyce (Kristine Sutherland), Buffy meets a vampire she went to high school with, Willow discusses Tara with a friend of Dawn’s who has recently died (Azura Skye), Andrew talks with Warren, and a lovely but unlucky lady has the misfortune of meeting The First controlled Spike.  Great episode, and only one of two that the title is actually aired at the beginning of the show.

Ubervamp

Never Leave Me / Bring on the Night/ Showtime

This is the arc that brings back Giles and the potential slayers to Sunnydale, has the gang realize the enemy they are up against, reveals the final fate of the Watcher’s Council, and introduces the character of the Ubervamp as one of The First’s weapons.  The final battle between the Ubervamp and Buffy at the construction site works on so many levels, and hey, anytime you can throw in a Thunderdome reference, that’s pretty cool too.

Lies My Parents Told Me

Great storytelling as Giles and the gang explore Spike’s mind to difuse the trigger in his brain and free him of The First’s control.  We get flashbacks to the Spike and Drusilla relationship as well as Spike’s killing of his second Slayer in New York who is Wood’s (D.B. Woodside) mother.  Giles and Wood decide to go behind Buffy’s back and kill off Spike which creates some heated tension and a break in the Slayer / Watcher relationship.  As Buffy tells Wood after he fails, she doesn’t have time for vendettas “the mission is what matters.”

The Plan

Chosen

This is it, the finale of Buffy and damn does she go out with a bang!  Awesome episode as Whedon reaches back on all the Buffy mythos and finds a way to give us something completely new yet fall perfectly in line with the show’s mission statement and the theme of the season.  Also of interest to fans of the Whedonverse, all three stars of Whedon’s three shows appear in this episode: Gellar, Boreanaz, and Fillion.

The final package of Buffy includes commentary for seven episodes including Whedon’s take on the series finale Chosen.  Also included is a DVD-ROM demon guide, a look at the Buffy fans, outtakes, and the final season overview.  We also get a short featurette of Whedon waxing nostalgic about the show intercut with clips of his favorite ten episodes, a featurette on the Slayer potentials, and a sneak peek at the wrap party.  My favorite extra is Buffy 101: Studying the Slayer a critical look at the series, it’s accomplishments, and the lasting effects of Buffy.  A nice farewell set to make your collection complete.

I love this show and was disappointed to see it end, but the way it went out was awesome!  Season Seven does justice to the series by returning to the original themes of the show and giving us new and interesting stories.  The extras make this a must have for Buffy fans.  The show is neatly wrapped up, yet there are always more stories to be told.  Will we ever see these characters again?  Who knows; I’m just thankful I’ve got seven seasons of Buffy DVD to watch whenever I want to see and remember how good television can be.

Astronauts or Cavemen? : Angel Season Five

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Uncategorized

Angel and the crew try to control the evil law firm they’ve accepted control over without being swallowed up themselves.  Old friends and enemies return for the final season, and Angel gets turned into a puppet.  Oh yeah, Spike turns up too.

Angel – Season 5
Custom Rating

Angel and the crew have taken control of the Wolfram & Hart offices in Los Angeles and now have to figure out how to use the evil power at their fingertips to do some actual good.  Oh yeah, and a certain platinum haired vampire with a soul stops by to be a tremendous pain in Angel’s ass all season long.  Fun, fun, fun!  It’s the last season of Angel folks, let’s get to it!

 

Season Five picks up with Angel (David Boreanaz) having accepted the deal to take control of the West Coast offices of Wolfram & Hart and now are trying to decide how to use this incredibly evil business to do some good.  So tension is already high when an amulet from Sunnydale arrives and out shoots the ghost of Spke (James Marsters) who will haunt Angel, quite literally, for the first few episodes.  As Spike is finally made corporeal new problems arise as now there are two world saving vampires with souls walking around the halls of Wolfram & Hart.  After beating each other into a bloody pulp, Angel and Spike form a kind of uneasy truce as Spike walks out of the law firm and goes to work on the streets fighting the good fight.  He is approached by Angel’s old nemisis Lindsay McDonald (Christian Kane) who is calling himself Doyle and pretending to have visions.  Lindsay hopes to create enough confusion in Angel that he can sweep in and finally take control of Wolfram & Hart.  Another old friend will return for a single episode as Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) shows up to remind Angel who he was and put him back on his path.

The Gang

Things return to normal until Fred (Amy Acker) is infected by ancient sarcophagus and the gang, even Angel and Spike, band together to save her.  In the end Fred dies and her body is made into the new vessel of Illyria (again played by Acker), an ancient and extremely powerful old one.  The ramifications of this change will shake the characters, especially Wesley (Alexis Denisof) and Gunn (J. August Richards) for the rest of the series run.  Illyria learns that her followers have turned to ash millenia ago and has no other option to try and live in this world and asks Wesley to be her guide.  Things come to a head as Angel becomes acting much more like the CEO of Wolfram & Hart and the gang gets information that Angel may have sacrificed Fred for more power and to inducted into the Circle of the Black Thorn.  The confrontation reveals the truth and the gang decides to declare war on Wolfram & Hart and take out all the members of the Circle thus stopping the mechinism for the senior partners plans on earth, if only for a short time.  Some of the group are successful, but more will fall before the end as the Senior Partners will unleash hell on earth for revenge.

Season Five returns to the original style of the show with more stand alone episodes with shorter story arcs.  We do get the Spike / Angel arc which evolves over the season, the Illyria arc, and the final arc of the series which involves the gang taking down the Circle of the Black Thorn.  And the show stays true to form, with Buffy each season is a possible bookend for the series, but Angel differentiated itself early on by deciding the cliffhangers are the best way to end and this one is a doozy.

Destiny

Spike vs Angel

Spike is made corporeal by a mysterious package in the mail and the universe is sent into wackiness because we now have two vampires with souls who can lay claim to the Sanshu prophecy.  They race each other to drink from the cup of perpetual torent and cement themselves as the chosen one.  Wonderful stuff here as the huge battle between Angel and Spike is intercut with scenes from their first meeting and we finally get some of the background causes of the animosity between the two.  And it’s great see Juliet Landau reprise her role of Drusilla.  What’s even more interesting is that for the first time ever Spike wins the fight, defeating Angel and leaving him to wonder “What if I’m not the guy?” and us to wonder should the show be called Spike?

Lineage

An oddity here because it’s a Wesley episode which we don’t get very often.  Wesley’s father Roy Dotrice shows check out Wolfram & Hart, but really to steal a mystical item that will allow him to control Angel.  Wesley has to choose between the mission and family, a choice that is made all to easy when daddy threatens Fred.  Great episode that creates some more bonding and understanding between Angel and Wesley, and will a catalyst as Fred begins to look at Wesley in a new light.

A wee little puppet man

Smile Time

Here’s the set up – Angel gets turned into a puppet.  The children’s show Smile Time is run by demons who have taken the form of puppets and are draining life force from children through their television screens.  Angel goes to investigate and he becomes as Spike so perfectly puts it “a wee little puppet man.”  Written and directed by Joss Whedon this episode just rocks in all kinds of ways.  My favorite scene involves Spike discovering what has happened to Angel and the puppet beating down the incredulous laughing vampire.  The scene where Angel is attacked by werewolf Nina (Jenny Mollen) who rips out most of his stuffing is also quite good.  Also of interest to longtime watchers of the show, this episode marks the moment that Fred and Wesley FINALLY get together, but you know Whedon doesn’t like his characters to be too happy so….

A Hole in the World / Shells

Fred is infected by a sarcophagus of an old one, an acient race that lived on earth well before the age of man.  The old one burns Fred from the inside out to use her body as its new vessel.  Spike and Angel travel to England to the Deeper Well, a gigantic hole going through the center of the earth where all the remains of the old ones are kept.  Grogan, the keeper of the well informs them that the only way to pull Illyria out of Fred would involve killing hundreds of thousands.  Fred dies in Wesley’s arms and Illyria is reborn in her shell and prepares for the coming of her army to destroy the infection of humanity.

After discovering her worshippers are long dead she wanders unable to find any solace in this new world.  She asks Wesley to be her guide, and because she is the closest thing to Fred that still exists Wesley accepts.  Great two part episode that involves the most heartwrenching death scene in any Joss Whedon episode as Fred slowly falls into oblivion.  Gunn is faced with his part in her death as he learns he is responsible for getting Illyria’s sarcophogus through customs and delivered to Wolfram & Hart.  Angel and Spike come to the realization that as much as they love Fred they cannot sacrifice thousands for her.  Wesley must not only deal with the loss of Fred, but now the responsibility of teaching Illyria about humanity.  Amy Acker is wonderful in a totally new role as the mysterious old one who is now lost in this world of humanity.

The final season of Angel gives us a featurette on the 100th episode of the series You’re Welcome which brings back the characters of Cordelia and Lindsay.  We also get a short featuretee for Smile Time, a featurette on the making of a stunt scene, a final season overview, a gag reel and commentary for seven episodes.  To comemorate the season we also get a look at Whedon’s favorite episodes and a featurette on the recurring villains of the series.  A nice set to finish your collection.

I prefer the wide sweeping story arcs of Seasons Three and Four, but I must admit that this season is one of the best.  The Angel / Spike relationship is a wonderful way to shakeup the series chemistry.  Boreanaz and Marsters work so well off each other it’s really a shame we didn’t get to see more with these two.  The season also meets my requirement of the best seasons having meaningful deaths, and oh boy does this one have it in spades.  Before the end we’ve lost many of the characters who made this world so interesting to watch.  As the series has done since the end of Season Two, it leaves us on a cliffhanger that would make a great opening for a Buffy / Angel movie.

The End???

Into the Blue

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Into the Blue
  • IMDb: link

Into the BlueWhat can you say about a movie that strives to meet your low expectations? Into the Blue is not really a bad film, just a mediocre one. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, a group of mostly honest people find something valuable, but to get it they will have to bend or break the law.  As the pressure mounts the group begins to fracture with distrust, but in the end everything will turn out swell and we’ll have all learned a moral lesson.  If you haven’t seen that movie, I dunno, like a hundred zillion times then you’re in luck, because here’s your film. And hey, Jessica Alba spends almost twenty minutes in a bikini.

Sam (Jessica Alba) and her beach-bum boy-toy Jared (Paul Walker) live somewhere on beautiful beaches of what appears to be the Bahamas making a living in various tourist attractions while hoping that one day they might find some buried treasure in the deep of the ocean. Old friend Bryce (Scott Caan ) shows up with his new lady Amanda (Ashley Scott) and they go out for a boat ride and low and behold they stumble onto something.

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