Review: The Strain, Season 1, Episode 2

Mia-Maestro-Corey-Stoll-The-Strain-Episode-2The second episode of The Strain doesn’t come anywhere close to matching the thrill of the plane investigation or the massacre at the morgue in the first, but it does function as a solid and very necessary character and world-building episode. “Night Zero” benefited from the novelty of the inciting incident, but now that that’s done, it’s got to beef up both the main players and the core story to ensure the longevity of the show, and that’s exactly what “The Box” does.

Ephraim gets a nice balance this episode. Roughly half of the time he’s discovering new things pertaining to the case, but then the other half, he’s with his family, just being an average person. “Night Zero” laid out the basics of Ephraim’s situation with his wife and son, but “The Box” digs a little deeper, and not just in terms of blurting out new details on their predicament, but rather by letting them behave like normal people.

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Review: Hemlock Grove Season 2, Part 2

Hemlock_Grove_Season_2_ReviewI can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m really going to miss Hemlock Grove. After failing to make it through season 1 last year, I forced myself through all 13 episodes in preparation for season 2 and while I wasn’t too happy about it at the time, now I’m thrilled I did it. Hemlock Groveseason 2 is so much fun it made the dull and nonsensical first season well worth sitting through.

There are still quite a few plot holes and logic issues, and at times, the narratives don’t flow particularly well, but overall, this is some highly engaging and entertaining material, and it’s largely due to the fact that many of the main characters are far more developed now.

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Review: The Strain, Season 1, Episode 1

corey-stoll-the-strain-epsiode-1When you’re plastering posters of a worm digging its way into an eyeball all over the place, you better earn that eerie imagery and Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain absolutely does.

There’s a small handful of clichéd characters spitting out tacky dialogue like “This is bad, real bad,” but for the most part, the show’s first episode, ‘Night Zero,’ is brimming with solid scares, remarkably detailed visuals and a highly intriguing scenario to back it all up.

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Review: Hemlock Grove Season 2, Part 1

Hemlock_Grove_Season_2As a fan of horror and a sucker for anything Eli Roth, I was very much looking forward to the start Hemlock Grove last year. But, if you caught our review of the beginning of the show’s first season, you know I wasn’t just disappointed – I was dumbfounded. Hemlock Grove season 1 wasn’t just a poor production. It was almost entirely unwatchable. In fact, I never even made it beyond episode 4.

For some reason, the sucker in me opted to give it another go. So to prepare to review season 2, I re-watched all four episodes and then finished the rest. It didn’t get any better. It’s all supernatural, melodramatic nonsense.

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Review: Penny Dreadful, Season 1, Episode 8

Mina_and_Vanessa_Penny_Dreadful_Season_1_Episode_8Penny Dreadful has shown off some compelling scenarios, highly intriguing characters and award-worthy performances during its eight episode run, but it lost momentum and story structure in the final two installments of its first season.

As was the case with episode 7, ‘Possession,’ the finale, ‘Grand Guignol,’ is still a strong enough hour of television, but when you’ve come from far more powerful places, it’s tough not to be just a little underwhelmed by the conclusion of the first season.

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Review: Earth to Echo

Earth_to_Echo_Poster“Earth to Echo” doesn’t come close to being the next “E.T.,” but it does pack enough spirit and fun to make it a worthwhile knockoff.

Teo Halm, Brian “Astro” Bradley (yes, the kid from “The X Factor”) and Reese Hartwig lead as Alex, Tuck and Munch, three best friends who never really fit in until they found each other. However, with plans to build a highway straight through their Nevada suburb, their families are left with no choice, but to pack up and move away. In an effort to make their very last night together one to remember, Tuck insists they ride their bikes to the middle of the desert to investigate a mysterious signal that pops up on their cellphones.

Elements of that premise are in line with “The Goonies,” but there aren’t many similarities beyond that primarily because “Earth to Echo” is a far more juvenile film. It’s got heart, intrigue and a mild amount of suspense, but a lighter tone that will make older moviegoers well aware of the fact that nothing bad can happen to these characters. However, “Earth to Echo” gets away with it because the film is much more so about experiencing this crazy adventure than it is about the characters.

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Review: Penny Dreadful, Season 1, Episode 7

Ethan_Vanessa_Penny_Dreadful_Episode_7 (1)What Death Can Join Together’ is a remarkable installment of Penny Dreadful because even though most of the characters are off doing their own things, it still manages to tie them all together. ‘Possession,’ however, has the benefit of taking place in a single location with most of the main players fighting for the exact same thing yet the narrative feels more disjointed and plodding than ever.

As per usual, all of the performances are impeccable. Eva Green is disturbingly good at giving way to demonic possession, Timothy Dalton nails expressing both a desperation to save Mina and also regret for how he treated his son in the past, and Josh Hartnett emotes more than ever, convincing you that this isn’t just another mission – he deeply cares for Vanessa. Trouble is, even the best performances don’t amount to much when you’re working with a weak script.

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