Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Ringer:" Hip Thriller or Mediocre Mystery?

Does "Ringer" Have What it Takes?

You could easily say that Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to prime-time television is the most highly-anticipated of the season.  Although her film career has been lukewarm at best, her seven-season run as Buffy Summers in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” earned her a huge cult following. 

In “Ringer,” Gellar plays twins Bridget and Siobhan.  The sisters reunite when Bridget flees to New York to stay with Siobhan after witnessing a deadly crime.  Just when it seems like their relationship is back on track, Siobhan disappears, leaving Bridget the chance to hide her identity and pose as her Manhattan socialite doppelgänger.

The second episode of “Ringer” aired last night and it gave more clues, not only into the storyline of Siobhan and Bridget, but the staying power of the show.

Let’s break it down:

Bridget is the “black sheep” twin, unmarried, has worked as a stripper and struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.  Despite this, she seems more grounded and genuine than her sister.

Siobhan appears to have the ideal life: a beautiful apartment with her rich British husband, an even bigger loft that they just purchased and a baby on the way.  But things are never what they seem.  Her history might just be darker than her twin’s.

Andrew, played by Ioan Gruffudd (you may recognize him from the “Fantastic Four” movies), is Siobhan’s cold, detached husband.  Unaware that Siobhan even has a sister, he is intrigued by this kinder, more down-to-earth side his wife has suddenly revealed.  

Gellar is smothered in a high-fashion gleam when she plays Siobhan and (stay with me) plays Bridget playing Siobhan (pronounced “Sha-vahn”).   At times it’s fashion overkill: enormous oval sunglasses, shiny leather coats and a red evening dress accented with a huge bow.  There is a way to look like an upper-east side socialite wife without being over-the-top.  Or perhaps that’s the point? 

The character of Bridget looks washed out and five years younger than her twin when they are (eerily) standing side by side.  Her “Bridget” wardrobe consists of plaid button-down shirts and bomber jackets.

The crew and costume department are also trying to hide Gellar’s very pregnant frame. While her outfits and the camera shot angles attempt to divert attention from her middle, something about her silhouette just isn't right.  Frames are mostly shot from chest level and above.  The clothing she wears consists mostly of bulky coats and dresses with tons of extra material, giving her waist no definition and drowning Gellar’s tiny frame.

The New York City background is unoriginal, but it fits seamlessly in with the storyline and takes just that, a soundly background role.  This is not a show about New York City, but a show about two sisters and the secrets they are concealing.

Spooky.  Mysterious.  Just enough is left unexplained to leave you wanting more.

With endearing characters, a provocative plot and new twists revealed in each episode, “Ringer” seems to have the right ingredients to pull through the season.

Are you planning on giving "Ringer" a shot?
What did YOU think of the first two episodes? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Contagion" Review ****


The best horror films don’t need a ton of gore or a knife-wielding psychopath to invoke bone-chilling terror.  Case in point: “Contagion,” which was number one at the box office this weekend.  “Contagion” is unique in that, like the box-office juggernaut “Jaws,” it taps into our deepest fears in a subtle but highly effective way.   The plot is plausible, the storyline absolutely compelling and the actors are Academy Award winners and nominees.  It doesn’t get much better than that.