Tag Archives: Julie Benz

No Ordinary Family – Not The Incredibles So Much as The Fantastic Four!


In most of the promotional pieces for ABC’s No Ordinary Family [Tuesdays, 8/7C], the series has been called a live-action The Incredibles, but it far more closely resembles the earliest issues of The Fantastic Four – before the group started wearing costumes. No matter what might happen as a result of their new-found powers, they still have all the joys and trials of regular life to deal with. That’s what makes the show unique – and really, really good.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Punisher: War Zone: Even Stevenson Can’t Save The Punisher!

I’m a bit of a Marvel movie geek. I’ve seen all of them – including the Dolph Lundgren Punisher and George Lucas’ Howard the Duck, and the TV-movie of Doctor Strange [which I have on VHS]. I have most of them on DVD – and have re-watched most of them [including Howard the Duck] – and I really wanted Punisher: War Zone to be good. Sadly, it is the worst of the lot.


Why? Well, like another action movie I reviewed recently, Max Payne, PWZ is an exceptionally well crafted film, technically, but it’s simply awful as a story. The thread thin plot is simply an excuse to create mayhem, much of it so far over the top that it becomes [somewhat queasily] hilarious.

Director Lexi Alexander is a stuntwoman turned director, so she understands how to stage action set pieces of both the fistic and bullets & booms varieties. There’s a lot of imagination in those areas and they’re supported by solid and occasionally very good performances from the cast – Ray Stevenson, especially, embodies Frank Castle as well as he can be.

In the end, though, all the the technical expertise in the world can’t hide the fact that this is a Marvel movie that lacks what Marvel has always been good at – heart and soul. Punisher is literally “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” No wonder Thomas Jane wanted nothing to with it.

Final Grade: D

TELEVISION: Dexter – TV’s Peabody Award Winning Serial Killer Renewed For Two More Seasons!

Dexter, the eponymous Showtime series about a serial killer who only targets other serial killers, is going to avoid capture for at least two more seasons. Showtime announced today that the Peabody Award-winning series has been renewed for seasons four and five. The series is in the midst of broadcasting its third season. Season four will begin shooting next spring.


The series, which is Showtime’s highest rated drama series, is built around the character of Dexter Morgan [Michael C. Hall], a blood spatter expert for the Miami-Dade Police who moonlights as a serial killer who targets serial killers who have avoided capture, or been freed on technicalities.

Based on the first of a series of best-selling novels by Jeff Lindsay, Dexter has taken the novel’s characters into different – if equally intriguing – directions. Besides winning the Peabody Award, the series has also received two Emmy Awards and several other nominations [including Hall for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, this year], four Saturn Award nominations – with Hall winning for Best Actor in a Television Program; two TCA Awards nominations – with Hall taking the award for Individual Achievement in Drama – along with nominations for Alma Awards, Edgar Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Vision Awards. Dexter has also been twice named one of AFI’s top ten television programs.

TELEVISION: Dexter: Life Gets Interesting For Dexter!

A couple of interesting things happen over the first four episodes of the third season of Dexter [Showtime, Sundays, 9/8C]: Dexter [Michael C. Hall] commits a spontaneous act that calls into question Harry’s Code, and Dexter makes a friend in the person of an Assistant District Attorney named Miguel Prado [Jimmy Smits]. The spontaneous act is the murder of Prado’s brother, whom he thinks is a drug dealer named Freebo [Mike Erwin] – and the manner in which he has to cover up this act while dealing with the police investigation and Miguel.


Otherwise, Dex’s life is pretty good. He no longer has the FBI on his trail; he and Rita [Julie Benz] seem to be in a good place [and he dotes on her kids], and his sister, Debra [Jennifer Carpenter], seems to have sworn off men, drinking and smoking – if not cussing. The thing of it is he doesn’t refer to himself as a monster every so often, either. Somehow, while he would probably vehemently disagree, Dexter is becoming more human – maybe not much more, but enough that it is noticeable.

The Showtime series does continue to play with the idea of morality, though. Dex’s moment of spontaneity has him rethinking Harry’s code even further when he spies a creepy guy asking Rita’s daughter Christina Robinson] for directions in a supermarket. His fierce feeling of protectiveness for the kids is as human as anything he’s ever felt. Couple that with his growing friendship with Miguel, and there are moments that find him seeming practically normal.

Dexter continues to be one of the most compelling dramas on television. From its opening sequence that emphasizes the violence of the everyday, to the odd relationship between Dexter and Rita, to his day job as a blood spatter expert for the Miami-Dade Police, Dexter is an examination of all the kinds of violence that permeate our existence. It has some of the best dialogue anywhere and a cast that serves it up perfectly – and manages a perfect balance between drama, melodrama and gallows humor.

The exceptional ensemble also continues to warrant intriguing arcs as well. Angel [David Zayas] gets promoted to sergeant – and has to deal with the sometimes unhappy responsibilities that come with his new position. Vince [C.S. Lee] has an article printed in a prestigious forensics journal but can’t find a way to persuade anyone to help him celebrate his success. Debra finds her swearing off of men challenged by a most unlikely guy – and is harassed by Internal Affairs to spy on the new guy in the division, Quinn [Desmond Harrington]. The richness of the plotting and the depth of the characterization remain amongst the absolute best on TV. Even the jaunty theme music is oddly creepy and utterly appropriate.

Dexter may not be for everyone, but for those of us who are into it, it is a treasure.

Final Grade: A

John Rambo Is No Rocky Balboa!

Rambo Review EclipseMagazine.com Movies

Despite an opening montage that tells us Rambo is going to Say Stuff and Be About Something, it proceeds from that point to be a luridly messy action flick that has its roots in the exploitation flicks of the sixties. Sadly, writer/director/star Sylvester Stallone – who really got the final Rocky movie right – has nowhere near the same feel for his John J. Rambo character.

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