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Defiance: Upon the March We Fittest Die (recap and Review)

Defiance - Season 3 Last week on Defiance the episode saw things come to a head with the Datak Tarr family being threatened with the “unhinged, unstoppable” daughter of the dead T’evgin. It also saw Doc Yewll released from the control of Kindzi and the Omec were being stopped from feeding. Kindzi had Luke and Andina died.

This week in Upon the March We Fittest Die, aka the season finale, Yewll finds complete redemption and sacrifices are made by many, some are ultimate in nature and others are life changing.

At the start of the episode, which begins where last week’s ended, Kindzi has knocked out Alak and has baby Luke. Stahma pleads with the new Omec leader for her grandchild’s life. Just as Kindzi tells Stahma that the baby will die anyway, Datak shows up with his bionic arm and that long “Wolverine-type” blade.  He shoves this through Kindzi’s neck pinning her to the wall. The Omec “All Mother” screams with rage and pain as she struggles against the sword shoved into her neck.

“You’ve upset my wife,” he yells and as the family Tarr escape, Alak (Jesse Rath) gets the line of the evening.

It is the actor’s delivery that sells it, “How is she still alive??” Alak is amazed and terrified and Rath shows it with this one line. Just brilliant.

*Sidenote*This line does almost get overshadowed by Grant Bowler’s performance towards the end of the finale. That “big-kid” grin of excitement as he prepares to leave is just brilliant.

After Datak rescues his family, sadly losing that cool blade in the process,  and the lawkeepers are talking strategy. This is a brilliant scene, the group (Nolan, Irisa, Berlin and Amanda) are eating while Yewll observes. The topic is about the Omec being weak when they arrive and getting stronger when they feed. Great set up as that is exactly what the lawkeepers are doing. Tarr comes in with a shotgun to kill Doc Yewll.

Nolan talks Datak down and tells the Castithan that Yewll is “back on our team.” “Yeah? Are you sure,” asks Datak. Doc gets the second best line of the episode as she shouts back, “Yes! I’m sure! We’re all sure!” The camera pans over to Irisa and Amanda who nod affirming that Doc is back on Team Defiance.

Yewll goes on to prove her good intent by outlining how to blow the Omec ship to pieces. When Nolan asks Doc how she knows so much about Omec ships, she replies, “it is entirely possible I’ve done this before.” This answer reveals a lot behind the question of who sabotaged the Omec ships before. Yewll asks for volunteers to go to the ship.

Nolan and Irisa volunteer as does Datak. “If the mayor will have me,” he says. Amanda replies, “Ship full of Omec…A violent psychopath could come in handy.” “Be my pleasure to serve,” Tarr says and Stahma mutters in Castithan, “I married a fool.” She is not, obviously, pleased at his decision to go on what could be a one way trip.

Amanda goes to tell the citizens that the Omec are no longer allies. Her speech is combination warning and a mea culpa admission. She apologizes for putting her constituents in harm’s way. Irisa and Alak have a moment with Luke. Apparently he is not too disturbed by Andina’s death as he invites Nolan’s daughter to come visit after everything has calmed down.

Berlin and Amanda are talking when they hear gunfire, it is one of the Omec’s intended victims from last week shooting an Omec who is collecting “food.” The man collapses after being tased  and Amanda is wounded after a brief standoff. Berlin shoots the Omec who badly cuts Rosewater.

Defiance - Season 3
Nolan carries a wounded Amanda to get treated.

Nolan comes and grabs Amanda taking her to Doc Yewll’s office. She is treated and it looks very bad for the mayor of Defiance.

The team of volunteers leave Rosewater at the clinic, where Samir monitors her process and Stahma tends to Amanda’s needs. The group of volunteers head to old St. Louis and use the pods to access the Omec Ship. Yewll asks for someone to go first and Nolan leaps to the platform, “I’ll be point,” he shouts.

Yewll says dryly, “Like I had to ask…”

When they arrive, Doc places herself in a control pod. She has to be plugged in to manipulate the ship. The plan is to start the engines and have Nolan shut the vents causing them to overheat and explode. Datak and Irisa help Doc while Nolan fights off security bots until Yewll can shut them down.

Back in Defiance, Amanda wakes up, despite the sedative that Doc Yewll ordered for her, and hears a baby crying. Rosewater picks up a gun from the floor and with her wound steadily dripping blood she follows the noise. Slowly she goes out of the infirmary and into the street. The Omec have taken everyone from Yewll’s. Earlier, Amanda sees one of the Omec decide not to take her “Spoiled meat,” the creature grunts , turning away from the mayor’s drugged and inert form. Rosewater sees the Omec in the street and shouts, “Hey a**holes!” As they turn to take her, she fires killing them all. As Stahma approaches, Amanda smiles and collapses.

Defiance - Season 3
Doc Yewll back on Team Defiance

Doc Yewll continues to operate the ship while fighting off the system’s firewall.

*Sidenote* Trenna Keating as Yewll, rocks it in this episode. Her delivery as the Indogene “savior” was spot on and she almost pipped Jesse Rath to the “line of the evening award” with her response to Tony Curran’s Datak Tarr line, “No, you’re a real person with enormous honor and infinite soul.” Yewll pauses for a moment and then says, “Just stick it in me, sailor. ” She is amused and obviously pleased at Tarr’s comment.

Earlier in the episode, before the “Hey a**holes” incident, Amanda and Stahma share a moment in the infirmary. Both are strong women and very different. Stahma reveals she is frustrated by the fact that the one woman she admires can never be her friend. Amanda reveals that Stahma frustrates her as she often does not do her best. Two frustrated women who will most likely never be friends but who know understand one another.

As Nolan begins the process of destroying the Omec ship, Kindzi (Nichole Galicia) shows up and the two battle for control.  As she and Joshua fight, Kindzi tells him that he is a “natural born predator.” “You are no better than me,” she says. The Omec leader begins to open her jaws to feast on her one time pet and Nolan, as he pulls a knife from Kindzi’s belt, replies, “When you’re right, you’re right.” 

He plunges the knife into the side of her head and heaves Kindzi over the edge of the platform and she falls down to the engines below. Her snarling and screaming  descent is interrupted twice by beams before she falls into the whirling blades at the bottom.

Kindzi is chopped to bits.

*Sidenote* Even if Nolan had not killed Kindzi, or if they had not opted to destroy the Omec ship, it was apparent that her days as “All Mother” may have been very limited. Her madness was obvious to her own people. Her edict that it was alright for Omec to eat Omec may just have been that despotic, and insane, step too far. 

Nolan starts the ship back up, Kindzi had stopped the process that Yewll started, with the taser she used on him. Doc tells him and the rest to get out. Irisa tells Joshua that she is staying. The two share a moment. Irisa tells her father that the Omec deserve a chance to live. Nolan asks Doc if there is a way to vent the energy and not blow up the ship.

Yewll reveals that they can vent the energy but it will “slingshot” the ship out into space with no chance of it ever finding Earth again. “Well, that’s kind of what I was going for,” Joshua says. He goes to hug his daughter and  taser’s Irisa, he then puts her in the descent pod.

The “Butcher of Yosemite” has decided to go with the Omec ship. Later Irisa says, via voice over, that the people of Defiance say Joshua “saved the world” and name the rebuilt arch after him. Irisa finishes her narration with, “He’d laugh his a** off about that if he were here.”

The season finale of Defiance was an adrenaline fueled mix of comedy (Doc Yewll) and tragedy (Doc Yewll and Nolan.) along with some pretty satisfying moments. Kindzi finally getting her just deserts and the Tarr family finally getting over the death of Luke’s human mother were two of these satisfying moments as was Doc Yewll and Datak Tarr regaining their friendship.

Kudos to Trenna Keating, Grant Bowler (who obviously will not be back if the show is approved for a fourth season) and Nicole Galicia as Kindzi. The Defiance writers pulled out all the stops for this end show of the season and it was appreciated by all who watched the finale.

*Final Sidenote*Julie Benz proved, yet again, what big chops she has. It was a cold hearted viewer who felt nothing when she had her scene with Julie Murray (another performer with mammoth chops) and then that beautiful smile (at Stahma) before she collapsed…Whew, tissues required for both of those scenes. Aw Ms. Benz, “We are not worthy…”

Dark Matter: Season Finale (review)

Dark Matter - Season 1

Last week’s episode of Dark Matter saw an entire planet blown to pieces by the tech stolen by Wexler and the crew from the Raza. The episode also had Two coming back on board after being blown out of the air lock the previous week. Things in the verse are getting even more interesting and this week, Five dreams about what things were like when she was caught on board the Raza as a stowaway.

Five remembers what the crew were like “pre-memory” wipe and (with the exception of Six and One) no one was  overly keen about  keeping her on the ship. Two states clearly she does not want a “child” on the ship and leaves the deciding vote up to Four (Rio she calls him) and he votes to allow Five to stay. “Welcome aboard little warrior,” he says, “Just don’t give me any cause to regret my decision.”

After her rather unenthusiastic welcome, Five puts a recording device under a table in the dining hall/room. It has remained there, uncollected and forgotten, until her dream and Five goes to collect it. On the recording, Two  and Four are talking about killing someone, “him” before they head to the mining colony and after they get out of stasis.

Meanwhile Calchek contacts the group and tells them Ferrous Corp has hired them for a job. A simple “snatch and grab” he says. A scientist has been kidnapped and is being held on a small “backwater planet.” In and out, he says.

It is a trap.

Two is the objective here. Alex (Will Wheaton) wants the engineered human back, he calls her Rebecca,  and the “scientist” forces the remaining Raza crew members to leave (after hosting a dinner for all those who arrived with Two and providing an explanation). The crew of the Raza now have to figure out how to get “Rebecca” back. The Android comes up with a plan and Five (who gets a gun shoved in her hand) stays on the ship.

Rebecca has been “disarmed” all her nanites shut down via dampeners which weakens her considerably. She is restrained and due to be studied. One scientist is particularly nasty as he had friends at the facility where she escaped. (Two killed  43 technicians and scientists while leaving and  some of the victims were friends of this snarky chap.) Later he tells Rebecca that  he is going to  “test your pain receptors,” as he starts up the electrical bone saw.

This first half of the season finale has The Android going above and beyond for her fellow Raza crew member much to the consternation of her computerized self. “Rebecca” tries to escape and Alex orders her destroyed. Android does a “Captain America” and walks off the back of the shuttle.

Android infiltrates the facility to turn off the dampeners. After a comic entrance, Six has just told the rest of the crew in the shuttle Android will silently enter the place and on screen the robot noisily dispatches the security guards she encounters. After the men have been neutralized, she moves to find the dampener. The controls are working on Android as well and she has to struggle to finish her task.

The robot actually goes to sacrifice herself for Two.  Androids willingness to “die”, is oddly human and, even with her flawed system, it is impressive and touching. When the program she created lectures her on leaving the ship, Android explains that  she is saving her friends. The program reminds Android that it is a machine. “A machine with friends,” Android replies.

After almost dying, or more accurately, ceasing to function, Android meets up with Rebecca in the dining hall of the facility where Two has reads  message left by Alex “Maybe next time.” The villain with the beard beat a hasty retreat when Two escaped before they could remove her brain.  Chillingly, but in a very satisfying way, Rebecca told the scientists in the room that she would kill them all and she does.

On the shuttle, the men are getting impatient. Three gets the line of the first half of the finale when he questions why Android has not blown anything up, “It’s not rocket science,” he says. Android shuts down the dampener and Rebecca gets out. The two then blow up the facility.

It has to be pointed out that the music in the first half of the season finale is more than perfect. A driving, mechanical beat of techno music that feels…right. After Two is back onboard the Raza we learn about who Rebecca was made for. A weak and apparently old man is on a hospital gurney and on life support. He asks Alex how old the body is that he occupies. “24,” replies Alex.

After ascertaining that the whole crew know what Rebecca is, the “old man” orders the entire crew to be killed. Before this order is given, back on the ship, there is a celebration and afterward Five listens to the recording again. At the very end of the first half, someone collects the crowd control taser and zaps the Android putting her out of commission

There are a number of things revealed here, one being that Will Wheaton’s character is more lackey than big bad and Five can program.  Of course the biggest reveal is that Two and Four were ready to kill a member of the Raza crew way back in episode one.

Dark Matter Season 1

The second half of the episode begins with the discovery that the Android has had her neural link removed and that someone else has control of the Raza.  A lot is revealed while the crew start losing members and trust flies out the airlock. Rather interestingly, the last two members who trust each other and team up against One are the two who voted to boot Five off the ship in her dream/memory at the beginning of the finale.

This is where we learn who wiped the crews’ memories (Five) and why (to save the person that Two and Four were going to kill). As pointed out by Android earlier, the code was crude and rushed and as Six points out, wiping everyone’s memory was not the intention, nor was it done to harm anyone. It was, Six says, done to save someone.

Two and Five find that the Android grabbed a patch from her attacker,  it looks as though it is from the soldiers who boarded the ship earlier (episode 11). The crew then search for any left over soldiers and Three gets the “line” of the second half as well. “Nobody messes with my robot.”  Two and three team up and she tries to thanks him for giving up the code when she was in the airlock. He messes up her “thank you.”

One and Four team up to search the ship and Four reveals he plans to go home and claim his throne. Six and Five are the last pairing and she tells Six that she feels part of the team. Six tells her that it is ironic as they have all been trying to be more like her and they failed, that in the end they can only be themselves.  Five responds that is not true that they are now family.

Five searches the vents and finds nothing. It is finally decided that there is no one else on the ship, the person who zapped Android and took her neural chip is one of the crew. Two realizes that the stun device that Wexler used on Android before is missing and only the Raza crew members know the code to the vault where the taser was kept.

Six recommends that they all stick together but Four goes to his room to train. Three gives One a vote of “no confidence” while talking to Two and he tells her that the man cannot be trusted. One goes to see Four and tells him who he really is and why he came on board as Jace Corso. He tells Four that it must be Three who is the culprit.

Five is convinced that it is Two who took out the Android. She believes that something happened to Two on the planet while Alex and his scientists had control of her. The crew meet in the dining hall to talk strategy and after Three and One have a go at one another, Four tells his shipmates that he will be in his room training. After drinking a glass of water, he passes out.

The next to go down is Six who is injected with something that knocks him out. Five is given a gun and locked in the bridge. Two and Three force One into his quarters and lock him in. One calls Five and asks her to get him out. Five meets the program that Android created to observe her and after learning that the computer generated version of the Android will recommend that the robot be put back to her factory settings, Five orders the program to delete itself.

Two and Three learn that Five has gotten out and the remaining crew members meet in a standoff situation. Two and Three have their guns trained on One, who has his gun on Three and Five has her gun trained on Two. The girl attempts to tell everyone that Two is behind all the problems because she came back from the planet different. Five insists that they, the scientists,  did something to Two.

In the meantime another  ship comes out of FTL and it is a Galactic Authority vessel. The cops have arrived. As the four Raza crew members face off,  the doors either end of the hallway close and two canisters are thrown in; emitting smoke. The four armed crew members crumple to the floor and Five tries to open the doors but passes out.

GA troops flood through the ship and before the end credits roll, the entire crew sans one are carried off by the authorities. The one crew member still standing, and walking behind the rest, is Six. Cue shock face.

The second half of the season finale was a proper whodunit.  Fingers were pointing to a number of suspects, between the crew, and for a long while it appeared that Five was behind the whole thing.  Six as the “mole” (or turncoat, or traitor…) was a complete shock, although if one watches the episode again there are clues…

It is interesting to note that after the episode where Five shot Cain, everyone seemed to be shoving a gun into the kid’s hand.  Just as interesting is the effect that recording had on Five and her trust levels. Admittedly, Two was not such a nice individual in the dream/memory and if Four (Rio?) had not voted positively, Five would have been history.

Rather interestingly, the trust that built up over the first season fell apart with the attack on Android and the family lose their cohesion.

This season finale had a brilliant reveal. Six was the traitor and the signs are there, although the money here at MikesFilmTalk was on Five as the one who sabotaged the Android, and a number of other things, but it was obviously Six. Kudos to Roger Cross whose facial expressions and dialogue hinted that he was the one who “gave up the crew” before the reveal.

Kudos to Anthony Lemke, Zoie Palmer, Jodelle Ferland, Mark Bendavid, Alex Mallari Jr., Roger Cross and Melissa O’Neil for bringing their respective characters to living breathing life, or in Palmer’s case mechanical life. Honorable mentions go to Pin star David Hewlett and guest star Ruby Rose as Wendy “dunking the cosmic donut” pleasure robot.

Dark Matter Season 1
“I just remember cooking and cleaning and dunking the cosmic donut.” – Wendy Episode 1.7.

Dark Matter ended on one heck of a cliff hanger and the ultimate reveal of the season and now all that remains is for SyFy to renew the series for another season, and another and another. MikesFilmTalk spoke with show runner/creator Joseph Mallozzi about the season finale and the show in general and that will be up shortly on the site. The Time Zone Deities have yet to work out Alex Mallari Jr.’s schedule but hopefully he will stop by for a chat as well.

Let MikesFilmTalk know what you thought of the season finale in the comment section below.

 

 

 

Dominion: The Longest Mile Home (recap and review)

Dominion - Season 2
After last week’s more “light-hearted” (speaking of The Home Depot scenario here) approach, amidst the Gabriel self-sacrifice play so Michael could escape and help Alex, this week in Dominion; The Longest Mile Home is, in a word, shocking. From the moment we first see that (despite David shooting him in an  earlier episode) William has survived his journey through the wilderness of Arizona and returned to Vega.

This episode has a high body count and the dead includes Zoe, who surprisingly did not die at the Armory although most of her troops did, except for David. It is not just the deaths that surprise however there is  the outcome of certain death faced by General Riesen. There was a brilliant reveal with Riesen where we learn he was not a soldier but a civilian on a military base. When the place is overrun by lower angels turning soldiers into eight-balls he takes the uniform, and identity of Riesen. We also learn that it was on this day  Clementine became an eight-ball.

Michael drops by to save Alex and Noma. Although they may not have needed too much aid as Alex had just chopped off the chainsaw carrying eight-ball’s head with his own saw when the archangel arrived. Later, it looks like  “Father” from Mallory reached out and saved Alex and Nomes as well. Michael finds a number of eight-balls outside the farmhouse where the chosen one and Noma had spent the night. Michael recognizes this type of death from the small town.

Arika is found out, by Gates (he is not a computer/electrical wiz for nothing), and her time is running out. Claire and Gates set up both Zoe and Arika with “mis-information” that the Queen of Helena shared with David. Clementine works on Edward to accept Julian’s offer of becoming a Dyad and immortal. Meanwhile Julian “targets” Gabriel with drugs to control his mind.

Claire and Gates send troops not to take the armory on Zoe’s side of the trench, though they lead Arika to believe that this is the objective.  Instead the agri-tower is the objective and they blow up the rebel’s weapon store killing all but Zoe and David.

William Whele stumbles into a bar and hungrily attacks a peanut snack bowl. As he tells the bartender and the bar’s only other customer who he is, the patron accuses him of lying. Whele leaves and later meets the man in the alley behind the bar, he brutally kills the man and takes his money.

The drugs work on Gabriel who believes that he escapes and then has a sexual trust with Claire Riesen, Noma and Arika. He wakes up still in chains and his chair surrounded by three women and Julian explains his plan. Destroy the archangel’s mind, take it over and then control his body.

After the armory explosion, Zoe is taken captive as is Arika and her retinue (which includes the doctor). Julian tells Edward Riesen that Vega has fallen into civil war and that Claire has lost the baby. He continues to push the Dyad solution to the dying man. “Dyad-ism” says Julian, “you will remain Edward Riesen in every way.”

Off screen, Riesen takes the Dyad deal. Back at Vega, David shows up with his men to fight with Zoe. They wait for troops who never show and when the armory is blown up, Whele leaves Zoe to her fate. Later, Claire goes to see the young rebel leader in her cell. After explaining her disappointment in Zoe for not accepting her moves of peace and her anger that Zoe has forced into a war “without mercy,” Lady Riesen shoots young rebel leader right between the eyes.

William Whele tells a bar full of patrons about his time in the desert and meeting the hand of God. He talks of God saving him from thieves. As he tells his story, Gates has a drink and Arika’s doctor has poisoned Claire’s “right-hand man.” Back at the bar, Whele takes off his shirt revealing a torso full of scars claiming that he is the chosen one who will root out evil from Vega.

Back at New Delphi, Gabriel learns that he cannot control Julian’s eight-balls and he also finds out that his captor has gotten the amphora from General Riesen. Edward has taken the Dyad offer after all.

This episode had some stand out moments some of which were shocking, disturbing and upsetting.

Moments of Note:

The General Riesen backstory: Edward’s humble beginnings are shown. He was a civilian clerk at an Army base who read a lot. His reference to the Sun Tzu Art of War book, “All warfare is based on deception,” is placed right before the actual attack on Zoe’s and David’s troops on their side of the trench. This move is, as mentioned by Riesen in the flashback, total deception. Brilliant.

Dead eight-balls: The burnt eight-balls seen by Michael, Alex and Nomes. The discovery of the bodies happens before the recounting of William Whele’s tale of the six horsemen. Clearly the same Father is responsible, both the Mallory eight-balls and Whele’s thieves are touched by the same hand.

Pistol packing  Lady Riesen: Claire shooting Zoe in the jail cell. A true jaw dropping moment, Zoe had not even stopped talking when Lady Riesen pulls that trigger. (One assumes that Arika will suffer a similar fate very shortly, especially when it is discovered that Gates has been poisoned.)

Dyad-ism: General Riesen choses to become a Dyad. Those eyes…

*Sidenote* William Whele, who was not the most sane of men before his exile, has come back mad as a hatter. Clearly his time with the eight-balls has driven him even further into la-la land.

The end of the episode has Gabriel looking in horror at the amphora in Julian’s hand and one is left wondering if Vega is doomed. The gunfighter angel (in last week’s episode) tells Noma to take Alex to the east, does this mean that Vega will not be saved? Is Gates doomed as well? That looked suspiciously like blood on that napkin (a sort of Takashi Miike touch a’la Fudoh: The New Generation without the gallons of claret gushing but enough to make the connection.).

Anthony Head is brilliant as the scheming Whele senior and the return of Luke Allen-Gale as his estranged son William was an excellent move to have the double act back, as the father/son duo with the love/hate relationship. Alan Dale stood out as the dying Riesen and Roxanne McKee rocked as Claire Riesen in this episode. Sadly, it looks like Nic Bishop may be leaving the show, time will tell whether his character caught the poison quickly enough. Kudos to Carl Beukes as Gabriel, his archangel’s lines were pithy and very spot on this week.

Dominion airs Thursdays on SyFy, do not miss this epic battle between good and evil and all things in-between.

Dark Places: Charlize Theron and Bleak Americana From Gillian Flynn

Charlize Theron as Libby Day

From the pen of Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn; Dark Places, starring Charlie Theron,  gives us a slice of Americana that is indeed dark and very bleak. Where the dream has soured and affected all who dared to believe in it. A brother and sister who lived through a horrendous childhood event meet up years later after each have paid a price for their past lies.

It appears that Flynn’s books are made to be adapted for the cinema. The 2014 adaptation of Gone Girl was an award winning film that impressed all who saw it, it also proved that Rosamund Pike is one hell of an actress and that even Ben Affleck can look like a murderer in the right light.

Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, who also wrote the screenplay, Dark Places tells the story of Libby Day, the only other survivor from the 1985 Kansas City massacre of her family (her brother Ben – in prison for the murders for 28 years being the other).  12 year-old Libby climbed out a window on the fateful night of the slaughter and then follows suggestions from the local police that her brother committed the murders.

Years later an emotionally scarred Libby is out of money in a community out of good will. She gets a letter from a true crime club, called “Kill Club,” who want her to appear as a guest at their next convention. She meets entrepreneur and club owner Lyle Wirth. After she arrives, Libby learns that the club’s “solver” group want to prove her brother’s innocence.

This is an actor’s film. From Dan Hewitt Owens as retired cop Robert reading off the details of the crime at the Kill Club to Chloë Grace Moretz as the pregnant devil worshipping rich girl, this movie’s performers deliver, in spades. Nicolas Hoult (who worked on Mad Max: Fury Road with Theron) is perfect as the entrepreneurial laundromat owner who wants to solve a grave miscarriage of justice.

Charlize Theron is beyond brilliant as the moody, aloof and aggressive grown up Libby. Corey Stoll (who plays the lead in FX networks’s The Strain) plays the grown up Ben, the brother charged with and imprisoned for the murders of his mother (Christina Hendricks) and two of his three sisters. Stoll has very little screen-time but manages to say volumes with the small amount of time he is on screen. 

The child actors, Sterling Jerins as 12 year-old Libby and Tye Sheridan as 16 year-old Ben both deliver, as do the other “child” actors. Perhaps the most disturbing performance, and therefore most impressive, comes from Moretz. After her romantic role in If I Stay and her role as the teen prostitute in The Equalizer in 2014, she channels her darker, more adult, side and is suitably creeper and disturbing as Diondra, the rebellious Daddy’s girl.

Dark Places uses well placed flashbacks to bring the viewer ever closer to the real story behind the murders and this works well as both exposition and backstory reveals. As the film moves to its conclusion,  it is learned that past and present are intertwined and a lot more lies were told than either Libby or Ben realized.

Director Paquet-Brenner does a brilliant job with the film and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker, Captain Phillips) manages the switch between present day and the past brilliantly, the lighting changes between each, and as usual the film looks crisp and clear and spot on for each set piece.

Like Gone Girl, this film is a mystery/thriller.  Both female protagonists, in this film and GG, are flawed, psychologically damaged individuals. Theron’s character provides an intermittent voice over, posed as inner musings, that adds much to the story and, unlike other narrative films, does not intrude but helps to lets the viewer see her thought process.

There should be some serious gongs handed out to the performers come award time. Theron kills it as the flawed and scarred survivor and Moretz plays completely against type as the devil worshipping girlfriend.  This tale of lies, blocked memories and murder shows just how addictive Gillian Flynn’s work is.

Amazingly this feature is rated ‘R,’ apparently for the violence, which is not gory or overplayed at all and the sexual content which is pretty tame. Moretz’ character does have some hurried grapplings with Tye Sheridan’s character but, similar to her love scene in If I Stay , Chloe shows nothing in the way of anatomy. The language is a bit “close to the bone,” at one point Sean Bridgers as Runner Day, Libby’s estranged father calls wife Patty (Hendricks) the “C” word, which may be the main reason for the rating.

Dark Places is a compelling look at family tragedy and how scarred survivors of crime can be.  This is a 5 out of 5 stars film. At 113 minutes, the film moves at a rapid pace. Even with the multiple flashbacks this mystery grabs the viewers attention and holds it in a  vise-like grip right up to the final credits.

Stitchers: A Poll (and a Theory)

EMMA ISHTA, KYLE HARRISIn the time since Stitchers first season ended with Cameron dead and not being revived (while Kirsten yells his name over and over…) there are only so many places to watch old episodes. Hulu has two whole episodes, be still my beating heart (Sorry Cam.).

ABC have an “on-demand” option to re-watch the first season apparently and then there are sites where one can access the show’s first season.  So out of boredom and a need to see who else is thinking of  Stitchers, a poll was created.

For those who had the wherewithal to record the episodes on DVR (And really…why wouldn’t you?) getting that Stitchers fix is a bit easier. By the end of the show’s finale, it looked like the question of Ms. Clark and Dr. Goodkin becoming a couple, aka “Will they, won’t they?” was (pardon the pun) possibly a dead issue. If Cameron does not make it back into the world of the living, who will Kirsten turn to for support?

Sure the show is about so much more than link ups between workmates and colleagues. It has a pretty intricate plot with so many questions that need answering.

For Example:

The whole, is Kirsten’s father (Who turned out to  be C. Thomas Howell…how cool is that?) still alive and if so where is he and what is he doing scenario.

Who was Barbiero talking to, in the car and on that cell phone …And who killed him?

Linus with his, “nobody likes me, everybody hates me” storyline.

Liam’s phone call (To whom?) where he asks about plan B.

Les Turner…

Quincy seems to be doing okay in hospital and Camille is the only member of the team with no real “outstanding” issues at the moment (apart from Linus being totally p*ssed at her for not telling the then live Cameron that he should pilot).  Maggie proved that regardless of any doubts beforehand that she supports her stitchers team. All of them.

While waiting for the Halloween special, it was decided to look at the more romantic side of the show and see who fans think Kirsten should link up with.

Be advised, one answer does kind of depend on Cameron being revived… (Although not necessarily – see theory for further explanation.)

The question for the poll  is…”Who should Kirsten link up with in the show?” In other words who do you think her perfect mate is? But before answering that question by clicking on the below suggestions, or adding your own, check out the theory.

Time for that theory:

Anyone watching the season finale will remember the secret footage of Kirsten’s dad giving her Temporal Dysplasia and “killing” her mother while trying to rescue mom from her coma.

So…

What if Mother did not die? It only looks like the poor woman expired. Perhaps mother is still alive somewhere, not necessarily in a coma (which this viewer believes to be the case). If Kirsten’s mom is alive this brings us neatly to the theory:

What if Cameron does not die and ends up comatose? Could Kirsten then, with the updated technology that Cameron himself structured, talk to him while he is in the coma?  It sounds a little like a variation of the Jennifer Lopez film The Cell (Her character entered into the minds of  others and interacted with them.) This would give the second season a completely different slant and allow Kirsten to be with Cameron although only in the metaphorical sense.

There it is, the  theory. What do you think? Possible, not possible?

Down below is the poll. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by participating. It is just for fun…and to see who fans think should be in the “will they, won’t they” running. Plus, it is a little something to keep minds on the ABC Family show until its Halloween Special. Anyone who has ideas, or an idea, for future polls about other characters…like, for instance, who you would like to see have a bigger role in future (think Tim from engineering…) please leave suggestions in the comment section.

The same holds true for ideas of what Cameron’s fate may be, thoughts and suggestion in the comment section please and thank you.

Dark Matter Two Hour Season Finale (Preview)

Will Wheaton, Alex Mallari Jr and Mark Bendavid
Fans of Dark Matter who have been tuning in each week, and/or binge watching via Hulu, will be stunned by events that take place over the course of the season finale. Two hours of this exciting verse in one sitting that will leave the viewer gasping as the end credits roll and asking a collective question or several. MikesFilmTalk has seen the finale and part of the price of admission, for those who have been allowed to “pre-view” the season finale footage, is to avoid  spoilers so not much can be revealed…yet.

While this does make it difficult to go too in depth on events, some things are admissible. For instance, the presence of Will Wheaton as guest “villain” has been mentioned by at least one other website, TIBS (ThreeIfBySpace.NET) who do a riff on the beard that Wheaton’s character sports in the first half of the two hour finale. So it is acceptable to mention that “that kid from Star Trek: The Next Generation” is the guest big bad.

Preview recap: Two learns more than she wants about her beginnings, One and Three still do not trust one another, Five learns something that upsets her deeply, Four proves he trusts no one and Six plays protector when Five reveals how afraid she is. The Android shows just how much her program is flawed and Calchek may or may not have set up the crew of the Raza yet again.

In another one of those nods to the science fiction genre, we have Wheaton as what seems like the kindly puppet master (maker?)  aka kidnapped scientist, who the team are sent to “rescue.” Alas, things are not as they seem and it is soon all hands on deck as the crew of the Raza fight for their very existence.

As promised by show creator/executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, a lot is revealed in the last episode of the season as in every episode building up to the finale. For whatever reason, the last two episodes have been slapped together so a lot more is discovered while simultaneously asking new questions.

As this is a preview and not a review or recap, things can only be looked at in the vaguest sense. (As mentioned above.) So Two learns about her origins, but not too much or, more importantly, why. Alex (Wheaton) may be the welcoming committee but he is no more the man behind the curtain than he is the chap who is really in charge.

In these last two episodes we learn just how brave Five is and a lot more about her abilities. There are some disturbing things brought to light and Android does something very surprising.

Thus endeth the short recap/preview.

This series has been top notch in not only peeling back layers for each mysterious character in the show but also in keeping just enough back to make the viewer  return for more. Each member of the crew has secrets and the season has slowly exposed them. There are, however,  a number of things that still remain hidden. There are also those nods and winks to other works in the genre.

One thing is certain, Five learns something that shakes her faith in another crew member and this unsettling information is weighing on her mind. Although what is apparent from the moment things go awry, the trust factor has been damaged with more of the Raza crew than just the youngest member of the team.

Five’s backstory has not yet been revealed and now, with the surprise ending of Dark Matter, there is now another character whose history may be a little different than originally shown in the show. The series zooms out of thriller territory and lands firmly in mystery as the finale becomes a cross between Ten Little Indians and a very large “closed room” scenario.

There are still enough comic moments to keep things from getting too heavy  (But not too many.) and there is still that Mass Effect 2 thing going on. Fans of the show will enjoy this last look at season one. Some characters, despite the new “suspicions” continue to act in character…except for one that is.

Zoie Palmer fans will love her performance and as the Android, Palmer does more than touch the viewer’s heart, she keeps them on the edge of their seat for an impressive amount of time. Wheaton as villain also stands out. (Only Will can manage to be so “snotty” in his villainy and yet unsurprisingly, turn out to be a little “b*tch” when things get tough.)

*Sidenote* It is nice to see David Hewlett back as “handler” Talbor Calchek. There can never be too much Hewlett.

Dark Matter airs on Friday as part of SyFy Friday and the season finale will air on August 28. Prepare to be amazed at the end of the first season. Readers of MikesFilmTalk can expect an interview with show creator Joseph Mallozzi and, if the time zone Gods play along, another interview with Four, aka Alex Mallari Jr. talk will be of the finale and the verse. Not necessarily in that order…

The Girl in the Woods (2015): Short and Simple

Poster for The Girl in the WoodsWritten and directed by Tofiq Rzayev, based on Rzayev’s English screenplay, The Girl in the Woods is a short film based on a simple concept. A friend goes missing suddenly and then sends a text, “Find me.” As the characters discuss their feelings about the missing friend, one actively searches for him and finds more than he bargained for.

While the story is interesting it is slow and dialogue heavy. Despite this the viewer does want to learn what happened to the missing friend and fiancee. Elements of a mysterious woman in the woods, barefoot and immaculate in a white dress, along with the other characters irritation at the missing man create a certain disconnect.

The film, apart from lighting issues in the wood scenes and a lipstick problem, looks good. The cinematography for the interior scenes and the exterior night shoot are clear and crisp and framed well. There are some issues with sound where either the background, or the equipment, noise is too intrusive and spoils the mood.

Overall, an interesting little film that suffers from too much dialogue and too little action. The cast, however, do well with their roles. All the actors, with the exception of Gizem Aybike Sahin, are first timers and they perform adequately in the time allotted. Deniz Aslim as Mert is earnest and concerned as the friend searching for his pal. Cevahir Casgir as the title character makes the transition from interesting to creepy easily.

The Girl in the Woods is Rzayev’s 11th short and it currently being entered into the festival circuit. The film, despite being very heavy in terms of dialogue, does feel like a slice of “everyday” life with a dramatic slant.

The Complex (2013): Hideo Nakata Swedish Inspiration

Hiroki Narimiya, Atsuko Maeda in The Complex
Fans of J-Horror and Hideo Nakata will enjoy his 2013 film The Complex aka Kuroyuri danchi. While this offering is not on par with his 1998 film Ring, or the 2002 feature Dark Water, it was influenced, apparently, by the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In. It also seems to have taken a bit from the 2005 thriller Hide and Seek although it has no imaginary friend there are elements of that film’s plot in this low-key J-Horror. The film is one of those plot changing films that the Japanese do so well in the genre of horror.

The Complex starts off as a low-key disturbing look at the new neighbors.

Asuka (Atsuko Maeda) has moved into a new complex with her parents and little brother. She can hear noises from the flat next door and when she suggests complaining her mother tells her that they have only just moved in. The film starts with a happy families feel. Mom in the kitchen, Dad setting up the family TV and little brother Satoshi messing about. The opening sequence does not feel right, the light is too bright, the parents seem a bit off and the singing bird appears to be on a computerized loop.

As unpacking continues, Asuka’s mother asks her to take cakes around to the new neighbors. The girl takes the package next door and while she never sees the inhabitant, the cakes are taken. Later she will hear scratching noises from the apartment next door and an alarm that goes off at half five in the morning.

Asuka also meets a little boy named Minoru whom she plays with. At her nursing school, she learns that her apartment complex has a reputation for being haunted. As she settles in, Asuka finds the next door neighbor’s body and she believes the old man is now haunting her.

She is right, the old man’s spirit has attached itself to her but not for the reason she believes. The ghost is trying to warn her. A cleaning worker, Sasahara (played by Azumi actor Hiroki Narimiya) tries to help Asuka which results in horrific consequences for all concerned.

The movie takes a couple of twists and turns that may seem confusing at first. But like many good J-Horror films, repeated viewings, or just going over the events afterward make the whole thing much clearer. Asuka is desperately lonely and full of guilt from a childhood incident that resulted in the death of her family. The young woman has issues and her moving to the complex has set her up for a fall.

Nakata’s feature feels like a hodgepodge of several different films, the aforementioned movies most surely and it borrows somewhat from the 2001 J-Horror Shadow of the Wraith, aka Ikisudama, just without the teen element and hokey music. This film’s “villain” though is a small “cute kid” ghost that turns out to be quite nasty.

In reality this is pretty standard fare. Nothing like Hideo’s earlier work. (Admittedly it is hard to trump films like Ring, Ring 2, Dark Water and the thought provoking 2010 film Chatroom.) Shot digitally, the film looks good, although the CG in some instances does not hold up to close scrutiny. The shot of the apartment wall changing is clearly computer generated and takes away from the moment.

All the actors do a more than capable job with their various roles. Kudos to Atsuko Maeda who brings Asuka to life. At the end of the film we believe completely in her character and her ending. Hideo Nakata has lost none of his deft touch with horror. This film is enjoyable and there are some real hair raising moments (although not for too long and none that are overly memorable) and bits that will make the viewer think.

The Complex, apparently was made into a television show with Atsuko Maeda (who appears in episode 1.12) titled The Complex: Prologue, This Hideo Nakata offering is a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Those who hate subtitles will want to give this one a miss.

The Whispers: Traveller in the Dark (recap and review)

Lily Rabe as Claire Bennigan
This week’s episode of The Whispers was a gut-wrenching, white-knuckle ride. The fact that a dying Drill finally possessed one of the children and that the choice came down to Minx, Henry, and the president’s daughter Cassandra was not surprising. Kudos to the writers for some great mis-direction and for making this one so uncomfortable to watch that there should have been a warning at the start: “Box of Tissues Required.”

Minx, right up till the latter part of the episode, still came across as the very grown-up little girl who feels like the right pick for the alien entity to occupy. Take her dialogue with Claire:

Claire: “I want to help you Minx.”
Minx: “‘Cause you don’t like me.”
Claire: “No, that is… that’s not true.”
Minx: “You want me to be guilty.”
Claire: “No.”
Minx: ” You want me to be Drill. Cause then you get everything…Don’t you?”

Later, of course, it turns out that this eerily, and rather nasty, adult-like kid was being just that, a kid. One who lost her mother and who is talking to the woman who tore her family apart, but a child nonetheless. A child who is afraid and truly believes what she is saying. This becomes more apparent afterward.

Claire attempts to back up her belief that Minx is Drill. She asks Henry, who tells her that he agrees. Bennigan goes back to Silas who almost hysterically professes it was Minx who killed Benavidez in the lab. Claire tells Frommer, and Wes, that despite wishing it were otherwise, Minx is the child possessed by the entity.

Sean decides to talk to Getz and tell the reporter everything. His goal is to get Henry back. Wes goes to see his daughter and again, the feeling is that the girl is “acting” like a child. When her father tries to get evidence that she is not Drill, Minx gets angry. “You’re my dad. You’re supposed to believe me.” Her tone is angry and betrayed, not hurt, which leads us to believe that she is Drill.

Wes leaves the room and punches the wall, full of rage and frustration. After, Minx asks Henry to help her, once more we are convinced of her “guilt” when her tone to the boy becomes mean and threatening. “Aren’t you my friend, Henry?”

Frommer tells the president that Minx is Drill. It is revealed that the device that Sean Bennigan was testing, the thing that drew Drill to him initially, is what Frommer will use to kill Minx and Drill. Wes and Claire are removed from the facility where they have Minx and they watch the device being delivered that will kill his daughter.

Getz acts on the information that Sean gives him. This prompts the president to schedule a live press event where he intends to tell the public everything. He also orders the other children to be released. Bennigan’s plan has worked; he has Henry back.

Claire and Wes go to the press site to speak to the president and Sean, along with Russell, learn who Orion is, it is Cassandra, the president’s daughter. The children have been released, Minx is being wheeled down to be executed (strapped into a hospital gurney) and Cassandra joins her father at the press conference.

*Sidenote* It has to be said that mixed emotions were the result of Minx reciting “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.” Part disdain at the obvious ploy to tug at the viewers heartstrings and more than enough tears to prove that this schmaltzy scene worked perfectly.

Claire rushes to stop the live broadcast and Wes goes to save his daughter. Cassandra gives her father a pep talk. Bennigan realizes that Drill wants to use the press event to phone home. Frommer proves that he is not quite the cold hearted individual he seemed. The man steps in to throw the switch and his expression says that if this action damns him so be it, he is willing to accept the consequences to save the world.

*Sidenote* Kudos to David Andrews and the writers for making his character more than just a man who suffers from hubris and an incredible amount of nastiness. In this episode, Frommer became a hero; someone who was willing to do the unthinkable to save his fellow man, even if it hurt to do so. More importantly, the man reacted almost instantaneously when he learns Minx is not Drill and stopping the countdown. Great stuff.

Minx is saved and we know that this child will never be the same again. Drill delivers his message via Cassandra and then chillingly tells Bennigan, “Don’t worry Claire, I’m not going anywhere.”

This was edge of the seat viewing. Minx’s delivery back into childhood, all tears, snot and whimpers, was exhausting. The viewer was, most likely, in the same state as Wes Lawrence’s daughter by the time that device was turned off. (Mad props to Kylie Rogers as Minx in this episode, she killed it.) Barry Sloane shares honors with Andrews and Rogers, he made Wes’ pain so real that we did not mind the shameless manipulation by the writers of the episode.

It has to be said that Kayden Magnuson as Cassandra finally came into her own. This is the performers first time onscreen and her delivery of that last line (where she is now Drill) was brilliantly disturbing.

The season finale of The Whispers airs August 31 on ABC, this last episode has a lot to live up to.

Falling Skies: Reunion (Review)

Tom Mason in Falling Skies: Reunion
The title of this week’s Falling Skies could very well have been “Oops.” There are a number of moments that word could have been used in Reunion. The episode could also have been titled “Anti-Climatic” as in the whole underwhelming return of Pope. With the end sequence of last week’s episode, revealing a excited John Pope learning that Tom Mason was still alive, this episode could have been a real killer.

The total number of “oops” moments are many. The “falling for the Pope deception” which allows the bald-headed nutcase into the 2nd Mass camp is one. The “taking back the fake Espheni Lexi” is another. Granted, Matt really did not have too much choice as the return of Lexi was an awful lot like the return of Tom Mason…without the water.

Perhaps the biggest oops in the whole episode has to do with that Espheni transmitter. The one that Weaver orders destroyed, “in case it has a homing beacon in it,” says Tom… At the end of the episode, just as the 2nd Mass are ready to mount up and head out, an endless swarm of hornets, or flying skitters (shudder) are heading in to overrun the camp.

Oops.

Of course there are two ways that the series can go with this storyline. (Perhaps more than two but only a couple make any real sense.) Either Espheni Lexi really was sending information back to the rest of “her race.” Or…The transmitter was sending out a signal one of two ways; whenever Ben accessed the Overlords messages, or it was working as a beacon from the first day.

There was one amusing moment. Ben telling Anne that the geoglyphs in South America were really made by aliens.

The return of Pope was short-lived and very anticlimactic. After such a long buildup and the tease at the end of the last episode, it looked like John Pope was going to pop up like a malefic John-in-the-box and be a real spanner in the works. Instead we are treated to what amounted to a suicide mission by Pope, who must have known this was the case, and a very short fire-fight.

*Sidenote*On the whole Pope “fire-fight:” Why on earth would he and his minions take cover behind a bunch of red barrels? Granted, Pope has lost all his happy-thoughts since the death of Sarah and his new look but seriously? Taking cover in a place with no back door and a front door surrounded by 2nd Mass troops with guns and superior numbers was not the move of a mad-man but a simpleton. Pope may have been desperate since his “surprise” attack when they got in the gate did not result in the death of Tom Mason…but in all honesty, this whole thing felt tacked on. One can imagine the writers looking at the cast of characters and realizing that they needed to close the door on this conflict. Thumb’s down guys, thumb’s down.

Reunion featured one more Dorniya vision for Tom. (This one was quite unsettling actually, Ben in two places worked very well.) The “Lexi” is back storyline was good. Regardless of Tom Mason’s assertion that he never really believed that this Alexis (Scarlett Byrne) was not real, Noah Wylie was very good at showing how much Mason wanted it to be her.

Standout Moment: That split second when Tom is on the shore and the Dorniya can be seen as it really is and not as Rebecca. Pretty impressive and it felt…right. Kudos on this one.

Standout Moment Two: Marty “saving the day” by being a biochemist who fine tunes the Dorniya secret weapon against the Espheni Queen. It was nice to see the man leave his permanent state of “fawn.”

Will Patton’s line as Weaver about Pope gets the “line of the episode” award. When Pope gets into the camp and begins his short-lived attack on Mason, Weaver says, “Like a bad penny.” Weaver also gets the second “line of the episode” with his “We’re not the only one’s looking for the head of the snake.”

*Sidenote* Does anyone else expect John Pope to suddenly appear later? It would make no real sense and it would make his Kurtz impression more like a Michael Myers one, but…after that disappointingly quick exit, it does feel like he may do a “Jason.” Just a thought.

Frustrating Moment:Just when it seemed that this season used up its quota of frustration with the Captain Katie Marshall storyline, the fact that no-one noticed that bandage and her inability to not touch it when stressed, we have the “foot of the giant.” The climatic fight is due to take place in Washington D.C. Of course it’s the Lincoln Memorial…yet it took ages for anyone to work it out. (Okay, to be fair Ben was pretty messed up from the transmitter “meld,” but…Come on!)

The ending of this one leaves little doubt that Tom Mason will be placed in the position of suicide mission to deliver that new Dorniya secret weapon to the queen. Looking into the television crystal ball, it makes sense that the 2nd Mass, and the rest of the militias will be penned down by this all out attack by the Espheni.

After all, the Dorniya did say that without Tom the war would be lost. This sort of makes it seem like he will need to be sacrificed for this war to be won by the humans…and the Volm. (This scenario does two things, it allows Tom Mason to become even more of a hero and it means that the broadcast he made prior to the pull out to D.C. gave the Espheni the locations of all the other militia units.)

*Sidenote* This theory could be wrong, but it does feel like “kamikaze” time here. It may be another member of the Mason family, but the title of the next episode, the finale, is “Reborn.” Is this a clue? What do you think? Suggestions or ideas can be left below in the comment section.

Falling Skies airs Sundays on TNT and the season finale is August 30. Will Tom make it out alive? Tune in to see how this one ends.