In 1997 relatively new director Paul W.S.Anderson made an interesting little movie called Event Horizon. Coming across as a mix between Hellraiser and Star Trek – The Motion Picture, it starred Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, and Kathleen Quinlan. The movie revolved around investigating a spaceship that had years prior disappeared into a black hole and only to now return again with something different now on board. The film was chopped to bits upon its release, but even with the trimming it came across as a very weird and disturbing trip into the unknown. Say what you want about Anderson’s work since, but at least once, he did this right.
Escape Plan, formerly known as The Tomb, released its first trailer today. No doubt that 20 years ago the release of this trailer would’ve been the biggest news on the internet, had anyone been ON the internet that is. However, now in their 60s, Stallone and Schwarzenegger don’t have the same pull they once did, but that doesn’t mean this won’t be worth watching. Even if their last 2 movies (Bullet to the Head, Last Stand) weren’t.
Sometimes as a guy, you just have to bite the bullet. This could mean a lot of things, like buying your girlfriend tampons at the store or having to sit through two whole episodes of Glee. This weekend I had to bite the bullet in the form of watching “The Vow” starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. The movie has just hit the American cinema this weekend, just in time for that dreaded Valentines Day thing. And I am surprised to even see myself typing this, but the movie was actually not that bad and even a little enjoyable. As far as romances go, it was pretty decent and stuck to that same formula that most of them due with a slight twist at the end.
In this episode of Alcatraz we follow the events surrounding Cal Sweeney (Eric Johnson), a suave bank robber known for his theft of safety deposit box items. He is not a violent criminal unless things don’t go his way.
With episode 4, after our characterization of Dr. Soto (Jorge Garcia), we get back to the same feel that the first two episodes had. This episode had both the feel of a procedural cop drama and a mystery.
I was really looking forward to watching another episode of Alcatraz ever since the end of episode 2 last week. Shows that revolve around a big mystery, like this one, always seem to leave me wanting more and episode 3 falls in line perfectly.
Episode 3 is about a child killer, who would kidnap his victims and return their bodies home 2 days later, reappears from the past, spurring a manhunt. However that’s only part of the story. Much of episode 3 is used to give some much needed characterization to Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia).
In last weeks review I said that I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of Doc as Rebecca’s (Sarah Jones) sidekick and that remains true, but only because he spends so much time in the field. I totally understand his role in the show but I feel like the writers may be taking things too far by allowing him to run around and get shot at so much.
I can’t complain too much though because I’m a huge fan of Castle. At least he has a vest.
Kit Nelsons (Michael Eklund) confession to the warden about killing his brother was incredibly creepy. His facial expressions alone while describing what he did were just crazy and they took the show to a much darker place than I expected.
I’m also left wondering what role Thomas “Tommy” Madsen (David Hoflin) plays in the conspiracy. The way he is shown interacting with all the inmates leads me to believe he has something more to do with what’s going on.
I’m glad the writers spent an episode on the topic of Doc not fitting in. His character needed a little more fleshing out so he wasn’t just a cardboard cutout representation of a nerd who knows too much.
As I predicted each episode is leaving the viewer with more questions than answers, but it is managing to do it in an entertaining way. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the upcoming episodes.
In case you missed it, here is a look at Episode 4!
I sat down to watch the first two episodes and was not disappointed. The show drew me into it’s mystery the same way that LOST use to. Here is a quick summary of the plot of Alcatraz so far.
“When San Francisco Police Department Det. Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) is assigned to a grisly homicide case, a fingerprint leads her to Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce), a former Alcatraz Island prisoner who died decades ago. Given her family history— both her grandfather and surrogate uncle, Ray Archer (Robert Forster), were guards at the prison —Madsen’s interest is immediately piqued, and once an enigmatic, government agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill) tries to impede her investigation, she is doggedly committed.
Madsen turns to Alcatraz expert and comic book enthusiast Dr. Diego “Doc” Soto (Jorge Garcia) to piece together the inexplicable sequence of events. The twosome discovers that Sylvane is not only alive, but he is loose on the streets of San Francisco, leaving bodies in his wake. And strangely, he has not aged a day since he was in Alcatraz, when the prison was ruled by the iron-fisted Warden Edwin James (Jonny Coyne) and the merciless Associate Warden E.B. Tiller (Jason Butler Harner).
Madsen and Doc reluctantly team with Agent Hauser and his technician, Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra), to stop Sylvane’s vengeful killing spree. By delving into Alcatraz history, government cover-ups and Rebecca’s own heritage, the team will ultimately discover that Sylvane is only a small part of a much larger, more sinister present-day threat. For while he may be the first, it quickly becomes clear that Sylvane will not be the last prisoner to reappear from Alcatraz.
Through the course of the investigation, Madsen and Soto will learn that the government has been upgrading the prison since its closing for a reopening to house America’s darkest criminals once more. In the process, Madsen will be forced to see everything she thought she knew about her family’s past shattered, all while fighting to keep the country safe from the country’s most dangerous criminals, locking them behind “The Rock’s” bars once more.”
Now that that’s out-of-the-way here are some of my thoughts on the show.
Alcatraz kicked off the series very strongly with an opening narration by Sam Neill that reminded me of Unsolved Mysteries or The Twilight Zone. That along with the quick introduction of the mystery the show revolves around immediately had me hooked.
The writers seem to be using flashback in the same way that it was used on LOST to reveal elements of character and plot, which I like. I thought it was used well on LOST and if the writing stays strong on Alcatraz it won’t become a problem. I also like that the flashbacks are interconnected, but considering the majority of the characters are in a prison together that’s to be expected.
Sarah Jones (Justified, Sons of Anarchy) plays Rebecca well in a tough but cute, Nancy Drew sort of way. I think she has serious potential to do well as a strong female lead.
Jorge Garcia (Lost) is awesome as always and plays Rebecca’s side kick really well. I’m not totally sold on why his character is her partner, but I’m willing to let it slide for now.
Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) is amazing as Emerson Hauser. Nothing else to say about that really. I am really looking forward to seeing what we learn about his character in the upcoming episodes.
All things considered, I was left with many more questions than answers. I still have no theory on what happened to the staff and prisoners of Alcatraz or why they’re coming back. However I will be coming back to watch this show to find out.