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The Conjuring 2 (2016)
The Hodgson Haunting
James Wan returned to direct this superb sequel that sees Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga resuming their roles of real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are first seen(in a most effective prologue) investigating the notorious Amityville haunting in 1976, before moving forward a year to being asked by the Church to look into the veracity of the reports of a haunting in Enfield, England, where the Hodgson family(a single mother and her four children) are being terrorized by a seemingly evil old man who had died in the house, but as the Warrens discover, the situation is far more complicated and sinister than that...A match for the original, this intelligent, chilling, frightening sequel is even better, with a well crafted plot that pays off emotionally and spiritually by the heart-stopping climax. A model of its kind, and further installments done like this would be most welcome, as there are still more cases to tell...
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Eighth "X-Men" film,(though the first one taking place entirely in the new, altered time-line) is set in 1983, where a powerful, ancient mutant named Apocalypse(played by Oscar Issac) has been reawakened, and is hellbent on ridding the world of all traces of human civilization, who enlists four mutants(Storm, Angel, Psylocke, and Magneto) to help him in this task, though the combined powers of Charles Xavier, Mystique, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, Nightcrawler and Qucksilver may be too much even for a self-styled god... Action packed if bloated entry has big ideas but fairly routine execution, and I still think this new time-line(effectively negating five of the first six films in the franchise!) is quite needless and misguided.
Hugh Jackman does make a brief, obligatory appearance which sets up the planned ninth film in the series. Wolverine is not done just yet it seems...
Jurassic World (2015)
The Park Goes Global
22 years after the disastrous events of the first film, a new park(renamed World) was built upon the ruins of the original, and has been a huge success for about a decade, but an increasingly apathetic public has led the new corporate owners to authorize an experimental dinosaur created from various DNA sources that is large, fierce, and intelligent, so naturally breaks free of its paddock to wreck havoc, creating a domino effect of calamities that will lead to even more destruction and loss of life. Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt co-star, as does returning actor B.D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu from the first film.
Fourth film in this series was a massive hit, effectively updating the story to 2015 and a new generation. Good plot and characters, exciting action by director Colin Trevorrow, though of course this is(intentionally) much like the original.
Ending of course sets up the planned Part V...
The Outer Limits: The Probe (1965)
Last episode of the series sees a cargo plane traveling through a hurricane and making a crash landing into the sea. The survivors(including Peter Mark Richman and Peggy Ann Garner) find that their rubber life raft is not on the water, but instead is on a metal surface, and indeed they appear to be inside some mysterious structure that turns out to be an unmanned alien probe that had scooped them up for examination, though a strange microbe creature has escaped sterilization, which just might keep them alive if they can figure out a way to communicate their plight to the unknown intelligence...Good episode has fine acting and an intriguing premise that holds viewer interest. Though the series' cancellation was unfortunate, this does at least provide a fitting end.
The Outer Limits: The Premonition (1965)
Dewey Martin stars as Jim Darcy, an Air Force pilot who is flying an experimental X-15 plane when it hits a sonic boom and suddenly crash lands. Jim is safe without injury, but his wife Linda(played by Mary Murphy) is also driving close by, and goes to him when they both realize that a freak accident of the plane hitting Mach 6 has somehow caused them to trip the time barrier a short distance into the future, where everyone is frozen until time catches up with them, which means they must be back in their proper places, or be stuck in limbo like some poor man/being they encounter at the airbase, not to mention they must save their little girl who is about to be hit by a truck after leaving her daycare center... Interesting episode has good acting and involving characters, with the limbo man especially tragic.
Anthony Eisley stars as Colonel Barham, a dying astronaut confined to a wheelchair who volunteers to be a part of an experimental operation that will see his healthy brain removed from his body, and placed in a complex artificial container connected with a supercomputer that will allow him to undertake the mission to Mars that is being planned. Unfortunately, the arrogant-minded Barham becomes even more so, developing an inflated egomania and a dangerous form of mind control that threatens the lives of the staff. Grant Williams also stars as Major McKinnon, and Elizabeth Perry as the Colonel's wife. Uninspired episode is mired in too many clichés to succeed.
The Outer Limits: Counterweight (1964)
A six person crew(played by Michael Constantine, Jacqueline Scott, Sandy Kenyon, Crahan Denton, Larry Ward, Charles Radilac) has volunteered to participate in the first simulated test space flight to the planet Antheon. There is even a panic button on board that, if pushed, will immediately end the flight, and any chance of their going on the real thing. The captain(played by Stephen Joyce) and stewardess(played by Shary Marshall) do what they can to help, but paranoia and personality clashes emerge, threatening the success of this experiment, as some malignant force seems determined to stop the mission... Tedious episode misfires much like the flight itself, though the monster is nicely done.
Ron Randel stars as Henderson James, a scientist in the near future who had successfully smuggled to Earth a fierce but banned alien creature called a Megasoid that has escaped from its captivity in his home. It is in its reproductive cycle, which means more of these things could emerge, so Henderson decides to handle the crisis himself by having a limited-life(5 hours) duplicate(clone) made to kill the creature, but instead it causes his wife Laura(played by Constance Towers) to prefer its company to his, since their marriage is on the rocks. Sean McClory co-stars as the spaceship captain who smuggled it to Earth for Henderson, and is called upon to help again. Good cast and set design, but marred by a ridiculous looking(if distinctive) monster, story flaws, and a slow pace. Towers is luminescent though(why does Henderson ignore her?)
Warren Stevens stars as a scientist named Eric Plummer who has been despairing about completing complex equations needed to manufacture an anti-magnetic disintegrator when he is unexpectedly approached by an alien named Ikar(played Robert Webber) who will give him the help he needs if he can borrow his emotions, a concept unknown to his species. Of course the emotions wreck havoc on the orderly mind that his race prides itself on, which threatens everyone involved, in particular Eric's girlfriend Janet(played by Gail Kobe) as the aliens plan to invade the Earth, and wont let the compromised Ikar stop them...Dreary, all-too predictable and arch episode only has memorable monsters to distinguish it in any way, despite the colorful title.
Second of two part episode sees government agent Adam Ballard(Robert Duvall) along with his fellow agents continue their pursuit of the four men(played by Steve Inhat, Lee Pollack, James Frawley, and Ivan Dixon) all soldiers who have been chosen by an alien intelligence to complete an important project that they can't explain or stop themselves from completing. Things have taken a more definite turn as it is learned that six children, all afflicted with one physical malady or another, are being taken to a newly built spaceship for transport to an unknown alien planet, and the question is if it is for good or evil purposes... Excellent conclusion to this compelling story continues the fine performances, script, and direction, all leading to a truly poignant, beautifully realized ending.