The 4400 succeeds where shows like Heroes, No Ordinary Family, and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have failed. It puts a human face to super powers. This innovative series has such a mind-blowing take on what would happen if people developed superhuman abilities. It also uses other science-fiction conventions, plot twists and great actors to create a binge-worthy series.
Over the course of 50 years, 4400 people are abducted. On one day, they all return seemingly unchanged, but different. A government task force is created to manage their assimilation back into society. An FBI agent, Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch), and a CDC agent, Diana Skouris (Jacqueline McKenzie), head up this task force to deal with their developing abilities and discover the reason they’ve returned. What follows is a shocking reveal that they were not abducted by aliens but by humans from the future. They have been given abilities to help save humanity’s future.
The series doesn’t rely too much on super powers and flashy special effects. Instead, it creates an X-Files style procedural with rich characters and an engrossing plot. Each episode, Tom and Diana must help one of the 4400 with their abilities and discover their benefit to society’s future. Meanwhile, various members of the 4400 must adjust to how life has changed since their disappearance. Baldwin’s nephew Shawn Farrell (Patrick Flueger) comes back with the power to heal and his family having adjusted to life without him. Conchita Campbell plays Maya Rutledge, an 8 year old abducted in 1938, and brought back with the ability to see the future. The characters are sympathetic and this adds heart to the series.
The 4400 has some pretty great acting talent. Billy Campbell (The Killing, Enough) plays Jordan Collier, a successful businessman who creates a Scientology-style religion around The 4400. The series also features appearances by Summer Glau (Serenity), Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks) and Garret Dillahunt (Raising Hope).
Fans of superheroes and science fiction will love The 4400. It also adds enough plot twists and dynamic relationships that non-geeks will love it too. All four seasons of the series are available on Netflix.
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.