A few quick words on “24: Legacy” (2017)

I hate to say it, but “24: Legacy” (2017) was mostly average stuff; I’d give the 12-episode arc a 7 out of 10 for being a mildly engaging thriller, but nothing more than that.

I was one of the few people back in the day who opined that “24” could continue even without Kiefer Sutherland.  As priceless as he was in his role as anti-hero Jack Bauer, he wasn’t the only star of the show — the show’s gritty universe and its unique format could carry on without him.  I even thought, during the early years, that Fox was grooming Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) to be a viable lead if Sutherland departed.

I still think the show could manage without Sutherland.  The real culprit behind “Legacy’s” failure to stand out was its somewhat average writing.  It wasn’t bad, exactly … it was just average.  (Alright — for a little while, it was bad.  We see a key subplot/cliffhanger repeated three times, consecutively, in the same season. I’m surprised that major redundancy made it past the editing process.)  But mostly, it was average — we see thin staples of characters, and a plot that seemed largely reminiscent of … well, every other season of “24.”  (Admittedly, it must be tough after nine years to think up an original story for a serialized contemporary terror thriller in real-time format.)

The sad part is this — during the show’s final two or three episodes, it started showing more promise, with truly original plotting and unexpected conflicts.

The show got disappointing ratings.  We won’t know until at least May, but I think most viewers are guessing it won’t be renewed for another season.

 

A short review of the premiere of “24: Legacy” (2017)

Jack may not be back, but the premiere of “24: Legacy” suggests the magic of FOX’s flagship serial thriller can survive without him.  The first one-hour episode was damn good — I’d give it a 9 out of 10.

Maybe it’s too early to gauge how well the show will follow in its predecessor’s footsteps.  It indeed feels different with its new hero (Corey Hawkins as former U.S. Army Ranger Eric Carter).  Kiefer Sutherland is a superb actor who masterfully portrayed a disturbed-yet-noble antihero, the now iconic Jack Bauer.  Hawkins doesn’t shine much in this initial outing, but there will be time for the actor to grow along with the character.  (In the long ago series premiere of “24,” Sutherland’s debut as Bauer wasn’t terribly interesting yet either.)

But the creators of “24: Legacy” have carefully assembled nearly all of the components of “24’s” greatness: the real-time urgency and the frantic pace; the surprising violence; the twists and betrayals; the cool technology; and the converging plotlines as various actors affect key outcomes in the story.  A more critical viewer might complain that that these feel like common tropes after nine years of the original show.  (And “24’s” unique mode of storytelling kind of defines it as its own sub-genre.)  But these signature elements of the show, however predictable, are exactly what will keep fans coming back.

The only thing missing is an interesting villain.  The bad guys here are suitably nasty, and drive the plot from the story’s opening minutes.  But, so far, they’re fairly generic terrorists.  Like the Hawkins’ character, it remains to be seen whether the script can develop them further.

I had a blast with this.  If you’re a fan of the original “24,” then you ought to check this out.

 

The Lazarus Effect on the Flatliners’ Jaunt. With Dark Phoenix.

[THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS FOR “THE LAZARUS EFFECT.”]  “The Lazarus Effect” (2015) is a good horror – science fiction movie, just not a great one.  I’d give it a 7 out of 10.

It’s well put together.  There are some scary parts, and the characters are likable, if thinly drawn.  One part of this movie expertly recalls Stephen King’s amazing short story, “The Jaunt,” which I believe is the scariest story I’ve ever read.  The closing moments of the movie are damn creepy.   (Watch carefully until the end.)

If you think you recognize Eva, that’s the talented young Sarah Bolger, who was troubled by a vampire prep-school classmate in “The Moth Diaries” (2011).  The smart-mouthed lab assistant?  That’s none other than Quicksilver from “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (the likable Evan Peters).

But here’s it’s problem — this film’s story device was already employed a hundred times better 25 years ago by the far superior “Flatliners.”  That 1990 classic exceeds it on every level — even visually, despite today’s CGI.  I just can’t recommend paying to see “The Lazarus Effect” if the star-studded, funny, genuinely frightening “Flatliners” is available at home.

Even “The Lazarus Effect’s” modern special effects are nothing new.  When Zoe (Olivia Wilde) completes her horrifying transformation, I swear she looked exactly like Jean Grey after her transformation into Dark Phoenix in “X-Men 3: The Last Stand” (2006).

We’re also left with a lot of questions.  (Again, I’m trying to keep this generally spoiler free.)

1)  Are we seeing the real Zoe?  A possessed Zoe?  A traumatized Zoe?  An angry version of Zoe?  All four?  I’m still not sure.

2)  Why does Zoe’s transformation appear to happen gradually?  Why not immediately?

3)  Why is one character made to face consequences for a childhood mistake, no matter how serious it may have been?

4)  What exactly is the significance of the side effects we are told about (increased brain activity and aggression)?

5)  Given what we know about what’s happening to Zoe, does it really make sense that the dog should have a comparable experience?

6)  Can the process we see have a happier outcome for a different subject?

7)  Why does Zoe object to the lab assistant using e-cigarettes in the laboratory?  “Vaping” produces no smoke or odor, and contains no tobacco — it’s just a water mist.

Anyway … do any other horror-sci-fi fans remember “Flatliners” the way I do?  I never hear it mentioned.  Its contemporary, “The Lost Boys,” (justifiably) still gets praise and brings tons of nostalgia to 80’s horror movie fans.  Why not “Flatliners?”  EVERYBODY talked about “Flatliners” back in the day.  It was even better “The Lost Boys,” and it’s served up with both Kief AND Bacon.

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I am under Jack Attack! NOBODY SAVE ME.

I was perfectly happy with the return of “24” to television  — I’d give the Season 9 premiere, “24: Live Another Day,” a 9 out of 10.  It delivered.  We’re a long way from the problematic Season 6, here  — everything that once made the show so great is back in evidence.  There’s fast pacing, intertwining personal, political and techno-thriller plotlines, and cool, compelling characters despite a large cast.

We’ve got immediate tension and a nice mystery served right up front, and having our heroes cast as antagonists is a great game changer that keeps things fresh.

Kiefer Sutherland and William Devane are as perfect as always, even if Devane’s face will always remind me of his role in “Marathon Man” (1976).  His acting is perfect, and the interplay among him, Audrey and Mark was unexpectedly touching.

Dear Lord.  Look at the expression on Bauer’s face when Chick-Jack (Kate Morgan) pulls her gun on him.  He’s the closest thing to the goddam Batman outside of the DC Comics universe.  I’m pretty sure that he alone could take on all of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  But I don’t want to start a nerd turf war, because I remember that time I criticized Doctor Who, and those Whovians threatened to come to my house.  (Turns out his fanbase is a lot tougher than he is.)

Speaking of Kate Morgan, the character here actually has nothing to do with Kate Warner from Season 2 — the confusion connected with the similar names is compounded by the fact that the actresses have a close resemblance.

And, of course, there was a hilarious bit of fan service with a “dammit” at a perfectly opportune time.

LIVE ANOTHER DAY.

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