Syfy’s Primeval Spinoff A Truly Underrated,Undervalued Sci-fi Series

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and zombies are all the rage right now across the entertainment spectrum. True Blood, Being Human, The Walking Dead, and so many others are a big draw across the television spectrum.  And even now another vampire based movie has hit theaters called Vampire Academy.  With all of the emphasis on such content, it should come as no surprise that Syfy’s spinoff to the hit British sci-fi series Primeval lasted no more than a single season.  That is not a swipe at Primeval or its spinoff, Primeval: New World.  Rather, it is an observation on why exactly this show didn’t last.  Primeval: New World is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  And those that actually sit down and give this series a chance will see just why it deserved more of a chance than it received.  First and foremost, it deserves more chance than it got in its original broadcast in that its writers were doing something that no other show was doing.  It was proposing the question of what would happen if by some odd circumstance, a means appeared for dinosaurs to enter the modern human world.  The end result of that is quite the adventure across the three discs that make up the set. The writing for each episode of this short-lived series is one part of what makes it worth a watch.  The special effects and on-location sets also help to make the series’ episodes enjoyable.  And let us also not forget about bonus material included in the recently released sets.  They play their own part in the success of the overall presentation. Together with the special effects and the writing, they complete the set, proving even more than ever why this set is worth the watch by any sci-fi purist.

Primeval: New World only lasted one season in its original run on Syfy and on Canadian television.  Many people (critics and audiences alike) have speculated as to why exactly this series ran only one season.  The real reason that most people would much rather not admit for whatever reason is because of the ratings being pulled in by all of the paranormal-centered shows and movies that currently permeate the entertainment spectrum.  Werewolves, ghosts, zombies, and vampires are all the rage right now on TV and in theaters.  So sadly, this show just didn’t stand a snowball’s chance.  But now with its release on DVD and Blu-ray, more audiences will see on what they missed out on in the show’s original run. The show’s writers crafted in Primeval: New World a show that is science fiction at its most pure. The whole concept of a time/space rift opening and allowing creatures from another time to invade the twenty-first century is as sci-fi as it gets. Add in a bunch of high tech gadgets to subdue the creatures in question, and audiences get a full dose of pure science fiction.  And considering that Syfy has seemingly strayed so far from its science fiction roots in recent years, having a show with so much science fiction was a welcome return to form for the network.

The writing behind each of the series’ stories is certain to keep any audience that gives the series a chance fully engaged.  Also to the show’s credits are those charged with bringing to life those fearsome creatures that Evan Cross (Nial Matter—Eureka) and his team hunt, as well as the show’s other special effects.  That along with the on-site shooting in Canada helped to make the show even more enjoyable.  It would have been so easy for those behind the cameras and computer screens to just make some really bad computer generated dinosaurs and other effects.  Believe it or not, there are some film and TV studios that to this day don’t care about quality effects.  This show’s crew wasn’t one of them.  It’s just part of the behind-the-lens work that makes the show stand out even more among the crowd.  One would be remiss to ignore the work by the cast and crew with the on-site shooting.  That plays a role, too.  That the cast and crew would be so willing to work with all of the weather changes throughout each episode’s shooting adds to the ability of viewers to suspend their disbelief.  As audiences will see in the recently released box set’s bonus features, it seemed to rain a lot during the series shooting. Yet the cast and crew worked with the weather regardless.  It actually heightened the action and emotion of some scenes, interestingly enough.

The bonus material included in this set has already been briefly mentioned.  Audiences get to see the impact of the weather on the series’ shooting throughout the bonus behind-the-scenes featurette.  What is most interesting about these featurettes is that they are actually episode specific. Rather than getting one large bundle package of sorts, each episode comes with its own introduction and discussion that can be watched before or after the episode in question.  They are somewhat brief.  But that’s actually a good thing.  It means that audiences don’t have to invest a whole block of time to each one.  Each bonus synopsis gives just enough information to set the stage for its companion episode. Each one also gives a little bit of insight into the work that went into bringing each episode to life.  So that enhances each episode even more.  For those reasons, the bonus material included in this box set becomes the set’s finishing touch and brings everything full circle.  It is that last piece that helps show why a show such as Primeval: New World is still so underrated today.  It solidifies just what makes this series stand out from the glut of paranormal based shows that clog the airwaves and theaters to this day.  Primeval: New World is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Primeval-New-World-Complete-Blu-ray/dp/B00ECXJC1O/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1390796896&sr=1-2&keywords=primeval+new+world+complete+series.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Inescapable A Nice Escape For Action Movie Fans

Courtesy:  IFC Films/mpi media group

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi media group

There is nothing more powerful in the world than the love of a parent for his or her child.  This common theme has been used time and again throughout the history of motion pictures.  A quick glance through the annals of movie history will show no fewer than at least a dozen films whose plots are based on this theme.  One of the most recent films to use this theme comes from mpi media group.  The movie in question is the action/thriller Inescapable.  While it isn’t the first movie of its kind, it does have quite a bit going for it.  The story itself offers viewers a different take on the classic theme that sets it aside from the likes of Liam Neeson’s Taken franchise.  It also has going for it an all-star cast led by Alexander Siddig (Da Vinci’s Demons, Primeval, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).  Most people are more apt to know the names of Marisa Tomei and Joshua Jackson.  And most of all, it has some very interesting commentary courtesy of writer/director Ruba Nadda and cinematographer Luc Montpellier.  These three factors offer so much more than can even be discussed within these confines; so much so that one would be best served to watch the movie by one’s self or with friends to really take in everything that the movie has to offer.  Regardless of alone or with friends, it is a work that is worth at least one watch.

 
Inescapable offers viewers first and foremost a take unlike that of other movies within this vein.  Something interesting to learn (as viewers will learn in watching this movie with additional commentary) is that writer/director Ruba Nadda in fact wrote this movie in 2005, three years before Taken premiered.  This makes the comparisons to that franchise in question understandable.  Sadly, this type of thing happens far more often than audiences realize both within the confines of the movie industry and the music industry.  Understanding that this movie came years before the Taken franchise took off, it makes it easier to take in its differences from the franchise in question.  This story does have its share of action.  But the character development (again as noted in the commentary) of Siddig’s Adib is a big part of what makes the story progress.  The story becomes just as much about learning about Adib’s past as it is about his journey to find his daughter.
 
Adib’s quest to find his daughter is the most obvious comparison that critics and audiences have made in discussing the story of Inescapable.  His search for his daughter is entirely unlike that of Taken.  The latter of the two films centered on human traffickers kidnapping a man’s daughter. Inescapable, on the other hand, centers on a group of figures that kidnapped a man’s daughter to use her as a political pawn of sorts.  Why they kidnap her is typical movie fare.  But the revelation of why they kidnapped her is revealed.  And it is just enough of a twist to leave viewers guessing and cheering for Adib especially in the eventual happy ending.  Yes, it does have a happy ending.  That much will be revealed.  Though, that is the extent of what will be revealed. 
The script behind Inescapable should visibly unlike that of either of the movies in the Taken franchise by now.  So from here, it would serve viewers best to move on and focus on the movie’s cast.  Veteran actress Maris Tomei (Parental Guidance, Crazy Stupid Love, The Wrestler) and actor Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek, Fringe) are billed as major stars of the story.  But the reality of the story is that much as in the case of Johnny Depp in Chocolat for example, Jackson and Tomei are really just lures to get viewers’ eyes.  They are in fact just supporting cast.  Alexander Siddig is the real star of this movie.  And considering his personal background, he could not have been a better choice.  For those that don’t know, Siddig was born in the Sudan in North Africa.  Keeping that in mind, and adding in his professional resume, his was a natural choice.  He looks and sounds every part the role of a Middle Eastern man.  His experience with some of the U.K.’s most well-known acting schools and on the large and small screen made him even more the natural choice for the movie’s lead role.  He had a real ability to take his character and bring such depth out of him.  It makes Adid that much more of a believable character for viewers.  That, along with the understanding of the story helps to make the movie even more worth the watch.
 
Audiences should see by now that despite early preconceptions about it, Inescapable has far more to offer viewers than they might have thought without seeing the movie.  If what has been noted already is not enough, then perhaps the additional commentary by writer/director Ruba Nadda and cinematographer Luc Montpellier will change viewers’ minds.  Their discussions range from politics of the Middle East and their effect on shooting, to shooting on location in Damascus, to so many other topics.  It adds so much more depth to the story in a second watch.  That second watch will hopefully prove to viewers that have yet to see this action/thriller just how underrated it is.  Hopefully it will serve as one more example of the fact that indie flicks can be just as enjoyable and interesting as the big screen pieces to which they are so quickly and close-mindedly compared far too often.  Inescapable is available now on DVD and Blu-ray from mpi media group and IFC Films. 
 
Indie flick audiences and fans can keep up with all of the latest from IFC Films and mpi media group online at http://www.facebook.com/IFCFilmsOfficial, http://www.IFCFilms.com and http://www.mpimedia.com. 
 
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.