Lex Walker

Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.

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"Star Trek" Traces Its "Origins" with a 5-Episode Set Review

Based on television series and movies, no show can compete with the prolific legacy of Star Trek. Through all of the adventures of Gene Roddenberry’s brain child, the storied crews of Starfleet have encountered a number of enemies and assorted characters that have threatened to destroy their ships or conquer the universe. In honor of those fiends and the show’s heroes, Paramount has released a compilation of five episodes dedicated to the greatest heroes and adversaries of Star Trek: The Original Series. With Captain Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) or Captain Kirk (William Shatner), the crew of the Starship Enterprise faces down foes with varied villainous vendettas from Klingons to Khan (Ricardo Montalban) to…tribbles? Really?

Sep
25
2013
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"Castle" Stands Strong in its Fifth Season Review

Castle is never going to win an Emmy (never mind that it’s only ever been nominated for technical awards like “hairstyling”), but that’s fine, because it’s not that kind of show. It doesn’t aim for highly compelling drama or even laugh out loud comedy. Its greatness and allure lie in its taking the police procedural and turning it into a comedy while still making the show a halfway decent, series-long conspiracy thriller around the death of Detective Kate Beckett’s (Stana Katic) mother. The fifth season of Castle was something of a catalyst; we finally got a resolution to the tired “will they, will they” romance (there was never a “won’t they” in the equation), an update to the 3XK storyline, a simple but surprisingly good flashback episode, and for good measure we’re left with a cliffhanger that’s more about a natural occurrence in the career of a celebrated officer of the law than some “will they survive” moment of tension. It was a pretty great season to be a fan of Castle, even if it did include an odd Taken tribute.

Sep
23
2013
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On the SyFy Channel, Computers "Delete" You...Over the Course of 3 Hours Review

Based loosely on a potential outcome technologists estimate could happen sometime in the distant future, the made-for-TV movie Delete asks what would happen if the internet and computers of today gave birth to an artificial intelligence bent on destroying mankind. Lacking the budget of The Matrix, Delete opts for the more basic approach of an entity living within computers, traffic cameras, and every other piece of technology connected by some kind of network manipulating world powers until their forced to take drastic action. What would such a scenario be, however, without a plucky young hacker (Keir Gilchrist), a hot reporter (Erin Karpluk), and a lone FBI Agent (Ryan Robbins), racing against the clock to stop the artificial intelligence from ending all of humanity?

Sep
23
2013
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Only the Violence of "Hammer of the Gods" Makes an Impact Review

Game of Thrones satisfies a part of us buried deep down, that many of us didn’t even know we had, which thirsts for movies and TV shows where men wail on one another with weapons and soak the ground with blood. It is there though, and for far too long each year it has to go without satisfaction because so few modern films are set in that age of swords and shields. Anyone looking to stave off their withdrawal symptoms should consider Farren Blackburn’s Hammer of the Gods, a story of Vikings on a warpath in search of their king. The story is ridiculously simplistic and can be summed up as simply as Vikings cut down everything in their path with some above par action sequences. And really, Hammer of the Gods is nothing but its action sequences, as everything else is frivolous nonsense that acts as filler between people chopping one another to pieces on the field of war.

Sep
23
2013
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Some "Sisters & Brothers" You Never Want to See Again Review

At some point in the creation of Carl Bessai’s Sisters & Brothers, someone (probably Bessai) chose to give the film’s visuals a comic book aesthetic without it ever becoming clear how that was in any way relevant to the subject matter at hand. It’s the first of many tonally inconsistent factors that make Sisters & Brothers such a mess, but when compared to the lackluster writing that feels like something a film school student should have rewritten half a dozen times more before committing it to screen, it’s clearly not the film’s biggest problem. The film’s only strength is a few talented actors thrown into a mix with others that can barely emote at all (Glee's Cory Monteith) or who are the epitome of over acting (Gabrielle Rose), but all of them are wasted on a film that can’t decide what it wants to be.

Sep
23
2013
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"Nashville" Hits a Lot of the Right Dramatic Notes Review

For all that’s good and bad about it, Nashville ends up playing out better than its premise sounds like it would and better than it needs to in order to draw in the primetime soap opera-loving crowd. Forgive the pun, but ABC’s fictional series about rising and falling stars in the country music-driven town of Nashville hits all the right notes, even if it occasionally flubs a chord here and there or repeats itself a bit too much in the span of its 21-episode first season. As the story about the next big star (played by Hayden Panettiere) descends into ridiculous depths of melodrama, plotlines about the reigning queen of country (Connie Britton), a struggling song-writing duo (Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio), and a guy who learns every lesson the hard way (Jonathan Jackson), save the show from its worst ambitions. Nashville walks that fine line between compelling drama and garbage television, but for now it’s safely on the side of former as long as it can keep Panettiere’s character from going too much farther off the track.

Sep
23
2013
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"World War Z" Learns Too Late that More Zombies Doesn't Make a Zombie Movie Better Review

After seeing just how far Marc Forster's zombie action flick World Ward Z strayed from its source material as written by Max Brooks, the most nit-picky of Harry Potter fans should be breathing a collective sigh of relief that their beloved franchise followed J.K. Rowling's books as closely as they did. World War Z is the latest cinematic example of a studio buying up an intellectual property and then discarding everything about it but the name recognition so they can do whatever they want with it. In this case, "whatever they want" was a generic zombie story with no connection to the original story beyond the fact that it includes a worldwide zombie outbreak. So what is World War Z if not the accounts of a zombie apocalypse from varied perspectives? It's Brad Pitt leading a cast of otherwise expendable characters in an entertaining ride, but with a flimsy story and special effects that actually make the zombies less scary than when they're being played by stumbling extras. The lesson of World War Z is that bigger isn't better.

Sep
20
2013
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How Ridiculous Does a Show Like "Vampire Diaries" Have to Get Before it Counts as Jumping the Shark? Review

Vampire Diaries has something of a steep learning curve, or perhaps more appropriately a steep caring curve. Start the series from the beginning and the characters have just enough wit to make you care enough about them as the writers then pile on all kinds of supernatural vampire, werewolf, body hopping phenomena that looks ridiculous to anyone not invested in the show. It’s essentially what MTV’s Teen Wolf was trying not to be when it adopted its much lighter, less soap opera-ish tone. The fourth season of Vampire Diaries is all but inaccessible to anyone who hasn’t been following along for the three seasons thus far, but for those who have, it’s a firm reminder that the show has been steadily improving since day one. Of course, improve a show all you want, but there are only so many ridiculous supernatural twists you can put in a show before it jumps the shark, and if the fourth season doesn’t count as that, then it can’t possibly be far off.

Sep
20
2013
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Times Get a Whole Lot Tougher for the "Sons of Anarchy" Review

Since about the third season, Sons of Anarchy has made it a habit to pack at least one solid emotional wallop into its ongoing tale of Hamlet told through a motorcycle club, and this time around the hit couldn’t be harder. The rise of Jax (Charlie Hunnam) to the head of the SAMCRO motorcycle club should have been an occasion for rejoicing, but a forced alliance, the absence of his best friend, and the intensifying nature of Clay’s (Ron Perlman) betrayal against the club make his new position bittersweet. The old saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” gets turned on its head, because this time SAMCRO knows exactly the kind of devil they’re dealing with, and it proves to be far more vicious and the consequences far more tragic than any of the past seasons where they didn’t know who they were facing until it was almost too late. Hold on to your helmets, Sons of Anarchy’s fifth season is a doozey.

Sep
20
2013
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"Arrow" Builds a World of Possibilities for DC on TV Review

I have to hand it to DC, they learned their lesson, multiple lessons really, from Smallville and have gone on to improve their formula with the Green Arrow-centric show Arrow. Instead of having the character languishing in a small-town setting where adventures become hard to explain after a full season or relying so heavily on a “villain of the week” formula that the show becomes painfully predictable, Arrow moves at a breakneck pace right out of the gate and never looks back and doesn’t worry about establishing an episodic rhythm. Instead, Arrow sets up and knocks out villains from the Green Arrow’s gallery of mostly obscure rogues, sometimes doing (seemingly) irreversible damage and making their return impossible. Arrow is the DC live-action series for everyone who found Smallville too corny and dull, and it benefits from a relatively strong cast, long-term storytelling, and well staged action that help us look past the film’s occasional dive into melodrama.

Sep
17
2013
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"Into Darkness" Goes Where Another "Star Trek" Went Before Review

J.J. Abrams rebooted Star Trek in 2009 after a string of poor performances by the films and the declining popularity of its last TV series doomed the franchise to little more than something nerds liked. That’s something of an oversimplification, but the point is that as a viable moneymaker, Star Trek had crashed. The relaunch of the franchise by Abrams did a number of clever things, like switching popular character dynamics around, but what really made the new iteration of Star Trek stand out was how it paid tribute to the original canon while also opening up the characters fans had come to know and love to new adventures without trampling or retconning the entirety of what had come before. Star Trek suddenly had a blank slate with the untold potential for new stories. Maybe that’s why Star Trek Into Darkness feels like such a disappointment despite all that it accomplishes: it’s rehashing a story we’ve already heard without adding anything new in the process.

Sep
16
2013
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Sloppy Writing and "Da Vinci's Demons" Get the Better of Him Review

Starz has been searching for its second flagship series ever since Spartacus took off (and Party Down was put to sleep), and based on the hype that flared up around the series premiere of Da Vinci’s Demons, you’d swear they’d found it. Count me among the skeptical, however. Though the idea behind the show is undeniably fun to entertain—Leonardo  Da Vinci using his encyclopedic knowledge and inventiveness to get himself and his Medici allies out of trouble as a large threat looms over their heads in Rome—it’s stymied by acting and writing that feel off for the first half of the season. Overcoming some bad CGI use in its opening episodes and a few cheesy ideas, Da Vinci’s Demons grows to become a beautifully filmed TV show that has some major problems in its characterization of the titular protagonist. The show is at its best when it strives for drama and its worst when it tries too hard to be funny.

Sep
16
2013
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Sci-Fi and Pop Culture Nods are Alive and Well in "Haven" Review

Every sci-fi, fantasy, or occult nerd has a particular brand of TV garbage they indulge in as something of a guilty pleasure; they know what they’re watching could probably stand to have better writing or acting or that common sense is sometimes forgone for the sake of an interesting idea, but they love it anyways. My particular brand stems from The X-Files and Twin Peaks corner of the TV-verse, and so Syfy’s Haven, very loosely inspired by a Stephen King short story, hits just the right spot. The first season did an excellent job of world building and establishing the series’ basic “supernatural ability of the week” formula while also building up a mythology that finally comes to a satisfying fruition in the third season, after a bumpy second season that the writers have essentially swept under the rug.

Sep
16
2013
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The Sun Might Be Setting on "Philadelphia" Review

Dusk might not have fallen upon Philadelphia quite yet, but the light is definitely dimming if the eighth season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is any indication. Though each episode still scores a couple of laughs, the number of hilarious moments per episodes is fewer and farther in between, especially when compared to some of its more classic episodes. Add to that consideration the fact that the show hasn’t produced a joke like “Day Man” or “Kitten Mittens” that can live on outside of the show, and it’s pretty clear that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has, at the very least, fallen into a rut. Half of the episodes of the eighth season stand out, but all in all, if you were to rank all the seasons in quality, the eighth would fall in the bottom half, no question.

Sep
16
2013
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"Foyle's War" Escalates into a Spy Mystery Review

Contrary to the craze of ensemble cast crime procedurals that currently dominate the ratings in American television, when British television deals with mysteries, it tends to do so on a more intimate scale with a singular lead detective or a duo. That might mean there’s less color and a smaller variety of back and forth dialogue to be had, but it also means we get a deeper impression of the protagonist we’re following. This formula works pretty well for the overwhelming number of British mystery shows out there, like Endeavour, Sherlock, Inspector Lewis, and Foyle’s War. The latter has a unique twist, however, in that it sets its stories in the final years of World War II and the Cold War era that follows, giving an interesting flavor to its slow but methodical and consistent pace.

Sep
15
2013
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"Kiss of the Damned" Makes Out Well on the Grand Scale of Vampire Romance Review

I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a hard time taking vampires too seriously since the advent of the Twilight and Underworld series, but there are still a few filmmakers who get it right with films like We Are the Night, Stake Land, and Let the Right One In. Falling somewhere in between on that scale of awful and enjoyable is Xan Cassavetes’s Kiss of the Damned, a film that looks quite pretty and gets some good work out of Josephine de La Baume and Milo Ventimiglia but lacks much of a story. It amounts to the cinematic equivalent of a snack for vampire movie fans, as it has just enough to it to hold them over until something with the same amount of flash but a little more substance.

Sep
14
2013
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René Clément's Submarine Drama is "Damned" to Stay in the Shadow of "Das Boot" Review

René Clément’s 1947 post-World War II drama The Damned isn’t a bad film, in fact it easily qualifies as good; it just has the very unfortunate distinction of having been “lost” for a few decades, during which time another film, Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot, surfaced and claimed the title as the essential WW2 submarine drama. And there’s no question about it, Das Boot is easily the superior film in every way. The Damned has a number of interesting facets to it, but it fails to make us care about the characters on the same level that Das Boot did, which was  feat made all the more impressive by the fact that they were the go-to villains of classic cinema: Nazis. Similarly, The Damned protagonists are all Nazi soldiers and sympathizers, but we’re never made to care about them deeply enough to make their underwater mission of escape particularly impactful.

Sep
14
2013
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"No Place on Earth" Has a Place Among Great Holocaust Documentaries Review

It’s not hard to find incredible stories of Jewish families enduring remarkable hardships and making impossible choices to evade capture by the Nazis during World War II, and with No Place on Earth it just got a little easier. For well over a year, a collection of families made a home out of a subterranean cave in Ukraine, and through a number of close calls and near starvation, they outlasted the persecution and live to tell the tale 70 years later. Janet Tobias puts together a concise and riveting documentary, the only faults of which come in the form of subjects who aren’t always easy to understand and a few testimonial clips that don’t really make sense. Otherwise, the combination of talking heads and skillful dramatic reenactments combine for an engrossing and touching story.

Sep
14
2013
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Explore the Legacy of "Évocateur" Morton Downey Jr. Review

Before there was Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, or Jerry Springer, there was Morton Downey Jr, the man who originated sleazy television talk shows. He wasn’t shy about beating his guests down with a verbal assault or even hip-checking them backwards to fall into their seat. He cultivated the persona of an aggressive jingoistic nutjob and his audience loved him for it, they became devoted to him. He wasn’t always like that however, and the documentary Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie examines his transformation from outspoken liberal activist to conservative television personality and how the act consumed and overtook him. For the first two-thirds of the film, Évocateur is spellbinding in its portrayal of Downey Jr. as a man conflicted between his beliefs and his quest for notoriety, but as it gets bogged down in specific scandals it loses its way.

Sep
14
2013
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20 Years Later, "The Fugitive" is Still a Runaway Hit Review

“I didn’t kill my wife!”

“I don’t care.”

It might be one of, if not the best and simplest exchanges ever written into a murder mystery which, in two succinct lines of dialogue, sums up the entire plot of the film while also telling us everything we need to know about both the protagonist and the antagonist, and it comes from Andrew Davis’s 1993 crime thriller The Fugitive. Based on the 60s TV series, The Fugitive features Tommy Lee Jones at his best and Harrison Ford in one of his better performances that isn’t a part of a franchise. The cast is excellent, the pacing is fast, the story is strong, and the film entertains each and every time. The Fugitive has stood the test of time as one of the 90s’ most iconic films.

Sep
13
2013
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