FANTASY TV Show of the Day: HYDRA, by Darlyne Franklin

Title: HYDRA 

Written by: Darlyne Franklin

Genre: Thriller, Sci-Fi, Fantasy


Logline: Hydra is a medical thriller about an Island society created by a team of renegade scientists who’s radical experiments and research offer an alternative to death.

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FANTASY Feature Film of the Day: THE PEARL OF THE RED SEA, by Kamelia Sojlevska

Title: The Pearl on the Red Sea 

Written by: Kamelia Sojlevska

Type: Feature Screenplay

Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy

Logline: Entering the time chamber in the Egyptian Pyramid, the initiated son of an ancient Pharaoh accidentally transports himself to the modern time where he must make a choice between woman he falls in love with or the well being of his people.

WGA: 1568637

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THE BAD BATCH – What the critics are saying about it!!

the bad batch

46% of critics like the film.

No matter how strange or confusing the story gets, details and humor ground the narrative, with the blanks filled in by a simple guiding premise about the importance of human connection and artistic expression.

September 30, 2016 | Full Review…

Running close to two hours, the movie is overlong and not without draggy patches, but it’s sustained enough to keep you watching.

September 6, 2016 | Full Review…

Though there’s much to savor in the pic’s lavishly distressed visuals and soundscape, its narrative feels increasingly stretched and desultory.

September 6, 2016 | Full Review…

In short, I did not like it though I’ll still line up for Armipour’s third feature.

January 13, 2017 | Rating: C- | Full Review…

As a whole, Amirpour has a lot to be proud of with The Bad Batch. Her work is bold, unflinching, and often challenging, and I would expect nothing less from her as a filmmaker.

December 21, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Even if The Bad Batch calls to mind the post-apocalyptic landscape of Mad Max, Amirpour’s visual sensibility remains strikingly unique.

November 1, 2016 | Full Review…



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Movie Reviews

Directed by Kerry Conran

Cast: Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael Gambon, Ling Bai, Laurence Olivier, Angelina Jolie
Review by Jarred Thomas

SYNOPSIS: After New York City receives a series of attacks from giant flying robots, a reporter teams up with a pilot in search of their origin, as well as the reason for the disappearances of famous scientists around the world.


Set in stylized 40’s New York City, Polly Perkins (Paltrow) is investigating series of disappearance of the world’s top scientist. During her investigation an invasion takes place where giant robots arrive wreaking havoc of New York City, destroying everything in its path. Luckily, Sky Captain arrives in his Spitfire airplane and successfully destroys the mechanical monsters using advanced weaponry attached to his plane.

Believing there may be a connection between the robots and disappearing scientist, Polly looks for help from Sky Captain (Law), who she shares a past with as the two used to date. They still harbor feelings for one another, most of which is rooted in anger believing that other betrayed them at some point or another. As they investigate together, they uncover a doomsday machine Totenkopf, (Olivier) an evil scientist, has created.

There’s a lot to admire about this film, in particular it’s retrospective look done in a visually impressive and innovative way. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before, and if you had, it was most likely in the comic books during the 40’s. The look is a character of its own and really enhances the viewing experience.

After another attack from another group of flying robots, Dex (Giovanni Ribisi), Sky Captain’s genius technician, goes missing, but not before leaving a clue behind for the duo to follow. Franky Cook (Angelina Jolie), the commander of a flying battle station, uses her squadron of flying/swimming airplanes to aid Sky and Polly in breaking through to the evil Totenkopf’s hideout.

After many obstacles the two finally reach the evil Doctor’s lair, and upon their arrival is the discovery of the strange existence of the man and the machines that do his bidding. They also realize he has put a plan in motion to imminently destroy the planet, and they must act to prevent this.

In keeping with the retrospective look, Conran even cast the Sir Laurence Olivier as the villain. However, Laurence has been dead for years by the time of the film’s release. So since Olivier had been deceased for nearly 15 years at the time of filming, he was shown in the film via computer manipulation of video and audio. The footage they used was of the young actor, and it worked. It was great seeing the renowned actor in one last film, especially one that was fun.

Conran draws most of his inspiration from growing up watching 30’s and 40’s films and reading comic book. It shows. First time director Conran does a sensational job in which he absorbs you entirely into this world of Tomorrow. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow should have received more attention, but if you haven’t seen it yet and are curious, look for it.


Movie Review: SIGNS (2002)

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Movie Reviews

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin, Cherry Jones, Patricia Kalember
Review by Jarred Thomas


After former Reverend, Graham Hess discovers a crop circle at his farm; publicity begins to buzz, as crop circles are discovered around the world. With mixed thoughts on who is responsible, the family are about to encounter the unexpected and learn how to survive as a family.


One of the best films of 2002 M. Night Shyamalan delivers an exceptional and gripping film with an insightful look into the idea of faith versus coincidence. Signs is a testament to what great filmmaking can be when put into the right hands with a stellar cast led by the talented Mel Gibson who gives one of his best performances in years. While Shyamalan’s later films are considered failures, Signs is a reminder that despite his recent failures there is still a talented filmmaker and one who knows how to tell a heartfelt story with an abundance of suspense.

Signs tells the story of a normal family placed in to extreme situations, a signature set up that was usually seen in the original master of suspense filmmaker Hitchcock. Here M. Night uses techniques that are similar to the past great director but presents his own unique take on thrillers blending science fiction elements.

Rod Serling was known for creating the Twilight Zone, a series about average people placed in extraordinary circumstances that can test their moral resolve, all of which to provide a message that Serling either subtly or blatantly addressed. In Signs M. Night follows up on Serlings method and while the film is not necessarily intended to rouse social change or insight, it does present a compelling argument on the notion whether or not there is such a thing as a coincidence or is there an outside force at work.

Gibson plays an ex priest who lost his faith after the death of his wife. He now lives with his two kids and younger brother, who sleeps in the barn trying his best to help support his brother, although his slacker ways sometimes interferes with his intentions. The concept of faith plays an integral role in the film, and while there may be those who view Signs as trying to get its audience to believe in something, in the context of the film it’s crucial that the characters do.

It is their faith that guides through the toughest obstacles they face. Gibson does a wonderful job struggling to accept the faith he once had. But his inner anger continues to consume him, eventually culminating in a quiet tirade in which he pleads for his sons’ life. The scene where he has his son laying on top of him trying to get him to breathe along with him is certainly the most captivating. You find yourself trying to breathe along with them as if you’re helping.

The supporting cast is superb. Rory Culkin is excellent and Abigail Breslin is sweet and innocent delivering enough cute moments with overdoing it. The scenes with Culkin and Breslin are well handled as the two young actors not only give some lighter moments in the film but also deliver sobering thoughts about the events taking place. While they sound like children, their perspective on what’s happening is sharp.

Signs is the last great film M. Night. His later films are disappointing, and that’s being generous. But his earlier films such as The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, are truly well done movies with engaging stories and complex characters. Signs is an instant classic with plenty of thought provoking ideas, thrilling scares and entertaining moments.

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Movie Review: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) Directed by Steven Spielberg

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Movie Reviews

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Bob Balaban, Lance Henriksen
Review by Steven Loeb


Cableman Roy Neary is one of several people who experience a close encounter of the first kind, witnessing UFOs flying through the night sky. He is subsequently haunted by a mountainlike image in his head and becomes obsessed with discovering what it represents, putting severe strain on his marriage. Meanwhile, government agents around the world have a close encounter of the second kind, discovering physical evidence of otherworldly visitors in the form of military vehicles that went missing decades ago suddenly appearing in the middle of nowhere. Roy and the agents both follow the clues they have been given to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind: contact.


In the early days of science fiction movies, beings from other planets were often used as a symbol of fear and destruction. During the Red Scare of the 1950s, aliens were often used as a representation for the invasion of Communism. They came, they saw and they destroyed everything in their path. By the late 1970s, though the Cold War was still going strong, the Red Scare was long over, and the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) had improved relations between the United States and Russia, leading to a reduction in the number of missiles that each country would be allowed to keep in their arsenals. It seemed that the two super-powers might be coming toward some kind of resolution to their decades-long war; of course this would not actually happen until more than ten years later. Nevertheless, if there is one film that shows a prevailing optimism in the direction that the Cold War, and the world in general, was taking at the time, it was Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), the third film directed by Steven Spielberg.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the story of a small town electrician named Roy, played by Richard Dreyfuss, who experiences a seemingly random encounter with a UFO. After the experience, Roy becomes obsessed with aliens and UFOs. His behavior becomes extremely strange and erratic, including drawing the same mountain over and over. When he is unable to explain his behavior to his wife, she leaves him, and only then does he realize that he is drawing Devils Tower in Wyoming, the site where the UFOs are about to make contact with humans. As he races to get there, the government, having made a list of people who will be allowed to visit the aliens, apprehends him. After being questioned, Roy is added to the list, the aliens return the numerous people who had been abducted over the years, Roy and the others on the list enter the spaceship and are taken away to make contact with the friendly aliens.

Close Encounters was a film that Steven Spielberg had been working on for almost a decade by the time it was finally released. After shopping the film around, Spielberg was finally able to sell the script, and get creative control of the project, following the massive success of Jaws (1975). Based on a story he had written as a teenager, it is one of the few scripts for which Spielberg gets full writing credit, even though the script went through numerous changes and numerous other writers worked on different drafts of the story. Despite the contributions of other writers, in many ways, this is the first real Spielberg film, as this is where he began to incorporate themes that he would use in many of his later films, some of which reflect his own life and would come to define him as a director. This is the first of Spielberg’s films to depict an unhappy marriage; Spielberg’s own parents had divorced when he was a child and he often incorporates broken families, or single parent homes, in his films. Roy and his wife have a tempestuous relationship to begin with, and they see their marriage become even more strained as a result of Roy’s obsessions, ultimately leading to the collapse of their relationship. Spielberg would use this theme most famously in E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982), a film about a lonely boy who finds friendship with a lost alien. Spielberg’s films also often incorporate the themes of wonder and child-like innocence, seen here as Roy enters the spaceship at the end of the film. Though he is unsure of what is going to happen, he is excited and awed instead of afraid. This motif was used again in the Indiana Jones movies and, perhaps most successfully, in Jurassic Park (1993).

Close Encounters was the second collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Richard Dreyfuss, the first being Jaws two years earlier. Dreyfuss, who had first gained fame for his role in American Graffiti (1973), became a major movie star after Jaws. In 1978, he became the youngest actor ever to win the Best Actor Oscar for his role in The Goodbye Girl (1977), though this honor has since been surpassed by Adrian Brody.

Unfortunately for Dreyfuss, at the peak of his success, he developed a serious drug habit and, after crashing his car and being arrested for cocaine possession in 1982, he was forced to enter rehab. He was eventually able to resuscitate his career, going on to receive a nomination for Best Actor for Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995). After Close Encounters, Dreyfuss and Spielberg would work together one more time in Always (1989), a film that is widely considered to be one of Spielberg’s worst movies.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a huge success, both critically and at the box office. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including a Supporting Actress nomination for Melina Dillion, playing the mother of an abducted child, and Spielberg’s first for Best Director; the film would walk away with two Oscars, for cinematography and sound editing.

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