lately all my materials look bland and i cannot figure out whats up
i dont know what has been changed to cause this, perhaps it happened when i updated AE or something
please see below an example. this image below of a dog, should have black shiny surface, but as you can see there is no light or reflectivity visible.
Without any system info and in particular your graphics hardware and driver version nobody can tell you much. There could be any number of reasons why the shaders don't work.
Another thought - have you posted the same question at Video Copilot? Since that's the company that created the plug in, they'd be in a much better position to help you.