Witchblade

Based on a comic book, TNT's two-hour "Witchblade" is a raucous concoction, filled with action, loud music and loads of visual effects. Paradoxically, it's also dull -- a gigantically overblown cliche that tries to substitute an ever-shaky camera and fast-paced editing in place of character and story. All premise and no payoff, "Witchblade" was clearly conceived as a series, but is unlikely to make it past the telefilm stage. After chasing a bad guy into a museum, homicide cop Sara Pezzini (Yancy Butler) finds herself in possession of a medieval bracelet that gives her special powers. She can see things, dream things, hear things -- and she can also miraculously deflect automatic gunfire when her accessory transforms into a knight's arm of steel.

Based on a comic book, TNT’s two-hour “Witchblade” is a raucous concoction, filled with action, loud music and loads of visual effects. Paradoxically, it’s also dull — a gigantically overblown cliche that tries to substitute an ever-shaky camera and fast-paced editing in place of character and story. All premise and no payoff, “Witchblade” was clearly conceived as a series, but is unlikely to make it past the telefilm stage.

After chasing a bad guy into a museum, homicide cop Sara Pezzini (Yancy Butler) finds herself in possession of a medieval bracelet that gives her special powers. She can see things, dream things, hear things — and she can also miraculously deflect automatic gunfire when her accessory transforms into a knight’s arm of steel.

Soon Sara begins to discover she’s not really an average, gorgeous, buff daughter of a murdered cop after all. She was — gulp! — adopted. She’s actually a warrior, the inheritor of the mysterious witchblade, which has an affinity for female owners and is notoriously difficult to control.

Typically, our emotionally vulnerable protagonist has a tough time dealing with her newfound superpowers, especially when her partner Danny (William Yun Lee) is killed by arch bad guy Gallo (Conrad Dunn).

Every supporting character here has a destiny determined by ethnicity or dialect. The sadistic Gallo is Italian, for example, and Asian Danny dies to make way for Jake McCartey, a white surfer dude with a smooth chest and high-concept hair. There’s also a billionaire named Kenneth Irons (Anthony Cistaro), who seems to want to help Sara at first but obviously can’t be trusted since he has an English accent. Irons’ henchman, Ian Nottingham (Eric Etebari) — British-like moniker but no accent — might prove to be Sara’s ally. That would be a relief, since Butler plays Sara with a constantly teary face, signaling a desperate need for an understanding friend.

J. D. Zeik’s teleplay overflows with wisecracks that are neither wise nor funny, and is overburdened with exposition. Director Ralph Hemecker keeps it all moving at a torrential pace that leaves the audience more confused than curious. While the “Matrix”-like digital effects are impressive, they come amid violent shoot-outs that overdose on adrenaline but are never compelling.

Witchblade

Telefilm; TNT; Sun. Aug. 27; 8 P.M.

Production

Filmed in Toronto by Halsted Pictures and Top Cow Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers, Dan Halsted, Marc Silvestri; co-executive producer, J. D. Zeik; producers, Perry Husman, Brad Foxhoven, David Wohl; Director, Ralph Hemecker; writer, Zeik, based on the comic books created by Top Cow Prods.

Crew

Camera, Anghel Decca; production design, Jasna Stefanovich; editor, Norman Buckley; music, Joel Goldsmith; digital visual effects, Look! Effects; casting, Irene Mariano, Tina Gerussi, Barbara Miller. 120 MIN.

Cast

Sara Pezzini - Yancy Butler Kenneth Irons - Anthony Cistaro Gallo - Conrad Dunn Jake McCartey - David Chokachi Joe Siri - Kenneth Welsh Danny Woo - William Yun Lee Ian Nottingham - Eric Etebari
With: Jodi Racicot, Hal Eisen, Jim Codrington, Tony Munch, Katherine Trowell, Whitney Westwood, Phil Hay, Tyson McAuley, Noah Danby, Lazar, Sven Van De Ven, Tig Fong, Sean Baek.
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