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Tag Archive: The Returned


The movie-going world first met Anna Paquin when she co-starred in Jane Campion’s The Piano, which earned her the Academy Award for her supporting role at age 11–the second youngest Oscar winner in history.  As the New Zealand actress gained experience in her craft she went on to star in True Blood, which earned her a Golden Globe Award.  These days she’s best known as Rogue in the X-Men series, appearing in four X-Men movies so far.  This past fall she starred as a murder victim in Netflix’s 19th century historical drama series Alias Grace, and this month U.S. audiences were introduced to her performance as a cop in one of the better episodes of season one of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.  This week she returns to television in a starring role again as a cop in the new series Bellevue on WGN America.

Paquin continues to show her Oscar and Golden Globe wins were deserved.  The actor has a command of the stage, and consistently her presence in a scene brings authority to her characters.  In Bellevue we meet a down-to-Earth side of Paquin as she plays Detective Annie Ryder, a local institution in her small town, whose brash personality and working class roots put her at odds with other officers in her department and every other faction in the town of Bellevue.  Her new case is locating a missing young man, a local hockey player and celebrity of sorts who we learn had a transgendered lifestyle and possibly was being counseled by a priest at a local church.  Paquin’s Ryder has her own odd sense of humor as she makes the best of handling a daughter, a sad sack ex-husband, and the residents of a mining town with a newly closed mine and a newly opened brewery.  The first episode really kicks in as we watch Ryder find a connection between the recent crime and strange messages left to her after her father’s suicide when she was a child.

You can see bits and pieces of a myriad of dark-murder-mystery genre TV and film in Bellevue, everything from the dark creepy vibe of Haven, Grimm, Twin Peaks, The Returned, The X-Files, and Wayward Pines–minus the supernatural elements–along with the serious crime material of Broadchurch, Fargo, and Thirteen.  As for its pacing, this Canada production for WGN America is presented like many British mystery series–there seems to be more time spent in study of each scene, as found in better mysteries like Shetland or Hinterlands.  One episode in and it already is more compelling than The Killing.  For current audiences Bellevue may feel more like Riverdale–the series pilot even has Ryder’s daughter recounting a past murder in the small town as Jughead often narrates in Riverdale.

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jodie-comer-thirteen

Review by C.J. Bunce

Thirteen–a moody and creepy new suspense mystery series is now airing on BBC America. It’s become a strangely familiar, recurring trope among the modern mystery tale–especially among British television: The lost girl, and more to the point, the lost girl found. Think The Revenants (and the English version The Returned) but without the supernatural. But flip the gender of the victim and it’s another take on the Starz Brit import The Missing, BBC’s less than stellar Broadchurch, or BBC’s brilliant Marchlands.

Like Elizabeth Smart, Johnny Gosch (and all of those missing milk carton kids of the 1980s), Ivy Moxam (played hauntingly by Jodie Comer) was snatched from her neighborhood at age 13.  She now finds herself walking out of the house she has been held hostage in, 13 years later at age 26.  In her own neighborhood all these years.  And the detective story begins as we meet Ivy and sympathize with her struggle to return to a world outside the walls of her captivity, an enormous gap of time lost.  In episode one she tries–and fails–to take up life where she left off, calling her old boyfriend (now married thirteen years later) and doing anything to avoid what has happened to her.  The series, which already aired in the UK, is only five episodes, so we learn the kidnapper midway through episode one and a manhunt begins.

13-series-bbc

Because of the serious nature of the subject matter these series are usually gut-wrenching. The closer you get to the truth, the closer the stories seem to mirror real-life crime horrors.

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CJ Bunce Stawamus Chief Squamish BC 1998

Of all the beauty to be found in British Columbia, from the unreal blue waters along Highway 99, to the European feel of Victoria on San Juan Island, to the gondola ride to the top of Whistler, to the Emerald City of Vancouver, you will hardly find anything as mesmerizing as the mountain that resides next to the lovely town of Squamish called Stawamus Chief. 

At the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, you can enjoy a great picnic with your family and find yourself transfixed at the incredibly polished striations down the mountain’s face, the result of millions of years of erosion.  Driving the Sea to Sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler you will find your eyes drawn to this monstrous entity as you twist along the highway–almost like Mt. Rainier towering over Seattle as you inch closer–until you find yourself in its shadow.  Under the code name “Euclid” you could find the crew of the next Star Trek adventure, Star Trek Beyond, filming their next adventure there this past week.

Whistler gondola CJ Bunce 1998

Just like Vancouver is one of the most popular shooting locations in North America, it’s no wonder the topography draws studios back to this spot time and time again.  While you’re waiting for Star Trek Beyond, try to spot the mighty Chief in any number of Canadian productions as you watch TV and movies every day.  Once you’ve visited Squamish a few times, you’ll experience another level of enjoyment spotting the town and its landmarks in dozens of movies and TV series.

Here are some shows to check out:

The Returned A&E logo

  • The star-studded and nicely creepy A&E series The Returned is filmed in and around Squamish, and every episode features prominent buildings and easily recognizable natural landmarks.  Catch The Returned season one OnDemand.

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Absolute Green Arrow cover art

Review by C.J. Bunce

Oliver Queen was dead, to begin with.

The average superhero fan today probably wouldn’t know Oliver Queen today but for three events: (1) the modernization of the character by writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams in the 1970s, (2) his update to urban longbow hunter by writer/artist Mike Grell in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and (3) the literal resurrection of Oliver Queen in the early 2000s by the partnership of writer Kevin Smith, penciller Phil Hester and inker Ande Parks.  No TV series would have arrived without the survival of the character thanks to these stories–reprinted and available in a deluxe hardcover for the O’Neil/Adams stories here, and in paperback reprinted only recently for Mike Grell’s stories here, here, and here.  In light of Green Arrow/Arrow’s popularity today being greater than ever before in his 73 year history, it’s only fitting that DC Comics is releasing the third great chapter in the character’s history with Absolute Green Arrow this month.

Absolute Green Arrow, available here from Amazon.com, reprints Issues #1-15 of Green Arrow, Volume 3, in a matte black with gloss hardcover with slipcase  in a sharp, over-sized, 9.6 inch X 15 inch format.  It includes all of Matt Wagner’s stylish painted covers, previously released introduction by Smith and afterword by Hester, and original artwork in an appendix by Hester.  If you ever wonder how much work the inker must conquer, just take a look at Hester’s pencil work and you’ll have a great appreciation for Parks’ inks.

Green Arrow Hester Smith Parks original Batman art

Hester and Parks did shading and shadows like nobody else. Original art seen in full color as published in Absolute Green Arrow.

The first ten chapters form the “Quiver” story arc, and the last five the “Sounds of Violence” arc.  This is the entire run of Kevin Smith’s stories for Green Arrow.  Phil Hester took over writing and artistic duties for the next several issues with even better stories than found in these early chapters.  But these Smith stories present a Green Arrow in a way a bit like Frank Miller played with Batman’s mythology in The Dark Knight Returns.  Smith’s Green Arrow is not as innovative as the seminal Miller work, but it’s plenty fun, and each new chapter feels like Smith saw this opportunity to play with DC Universe characters like a kid in a toy store.  You’ll encounter the Justice League, memorable encounters with Aquaman and Hawkman, and even a quirky adventure featuring Stanley and his Monster.  Former sidekicks Roy Harper and Connor Hawke are here, too, but most importantly Oliver Queen rebuilds his relationship with long-time love interest Dinah Lance aka Black Canary.  Difficult to come back from after being presumed dead.

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The Returned A&E India Ennenga

Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of Twin Peaks, American remakes of European series, fans of Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s Revival, the short-lived Under the Dome, Malcolm McDowell and David Warner’s Time After Time, and anyone after the next great, creepy mystery series take note: A&E’s The Returned has so much going for it you’ll want to watch it twice.  What would you do if someone close to you that died prematurely suddenly walked back into your life, alive and well, just as you remembered them?  Would you scream, cheer, cry, laugh, be afraid?  You’ll ask that question over and over as you watch the residents of a small Pacific Northwest town as they react to the formerly dead as they re-enter their lives.  It’s compelling stuff.

The Returned is an American remake of the French series Les Revenants (French for The Returned and the double meaning of a ghost returning from the dead), which itself is entering its second season on the Sundance Channel (with English subtitles) and was based on a 2004 French film of the same name.  Fans of any one of the many well-known character actors will have an easy excuse to give the American show a try.  The Returned features a top-notch cast, including Michelle Forbes (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Battlestar Galactica, Orphan Black, Homicide), Jeremy Sisto (Law & Order, Clueless, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits), Carl Lumbly (Chuck, Battlestar Galactica, The X-Files), Mark Pellegrino (The Closer, Chuck, Castle, The X-Files, Lost, Supernatural), Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica, iZombie), and Kevin Alejandro, who we most recently saw as Sebastian Blood on CW’s Arrow.  But the best on the series may be the perpetually young-looking Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Sky High, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Thing, Live Free or Die Hard, Tru Calling) as the troubled former fiancée of one of the Returned, newcomer India Ennenga as Camille, the most interesting of the Returned, Tandi Wright (Jack the Giant Slayer) as her mother, and Sophie Lowe as her “older” twin sister.  But we’ve seen many a series with great actors but backed by a less than desired story.  Not so here.

Winstead in The Returned

Comparing the original to the remake can be a bit of a fun game to play in itself.  When the American actress mother encounters her dead daughter for the first time, she inspires a humorous viewer reaction, but with the French actress, the response is full of fear and shock.  Both series are billed as supernatural dramas, but Les Revenants’ photography and music appear as more on the horror end of the spectrum.  On paper these are zombie series, but from the first two episodes they seem far from other entries in that genre.  You’ll get the Twin Peaks vibe instantly, but without David Lynch’s trademark quirkiness.  The return of a serial killer from the past may have you recalling Jack the Ripper’s return in Time After Time, or the recent BBC America series Intruders.  But you won’t find any ghoulish shambling goons here.

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