Shmee Inspects Hearts Of Stone In The Witcher 3!

Apparently some time ago I purchased The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone.  I don’t remember doing this.  I do remember getting Blood and Wine so that I could tool around the Duchy of Toussaint (still need to finish it), but at some point Hearts of Stone must have been cheap as well.  Which is good, because while there is not a ton of content in Hearts of Stone, it is one of The Witcher 3’s better stories, and that is saying something.

The expansion starts how most Witcher quests do, with a job: To take down a ‘frog prince’ that is eating foolish women in the sewer system of Oxenfurt.  The man who gives Geralt this missive is Olgierd von Everec, who is a terrible human being, but soon after dealing with this ‘frog’ you are roped in to granting Olgierd three wishes by the mysterious Mirror Master.  Every wish is more difficult to grant than the last.

It is a fun ten-ish hour quest, and you will meet some of Garalt’s old friends, as well as make some new ones, but by far the best part is figuring out what is going on with Olgierd and Mirror Master.  It is strange to say the least.  Is Mirror Master some sort of djinn?  Just some powerful jerk?  And why is Olgierd, the willfully evil curmudgeon that he is.  Depending on your choices you will figure all this out.

The bosses they have added for Hearts of Stone are some of the best too.  The ‘frog prince’ really changes up how most fights work, and there is a wraith towards the end that really threw me for a loop for a while.  Garalt will also get a ton of cool new gear, and depending on your last choice of the expansion, two of the best swords in the game.

All in all Hearts of Stone is a great addition to The Witcher 3, and well worth the ten plus hours you are going to put in to it, but it isn’t a transformative experience, so if you didn’t like The Witcher 3, you will not like this.  It is just more of what made the game great, and that is all I wanted.

Voltron Just Keeps Getting Better And Better!

If you had told me back when the new Voltron started that I would be crying over an episode, I would thought you were crazy.  I mean we all know that the Voltron of old was terrible, very cool, but garbage.  However, after six seasons the show just keeps getting better, and even after answering a ton of fan questions in season six, it seems like there is still more for this show to give.

Of course the last few seasons have been super short, so calling them seasons is kind of a misnomer.  More like half seasons, but still that doesn’t mean that they aren’t excellent, and that you shouldn’t be watching.  I am not sure why Netflix gave Voltron a chance, but I am very glad they did.  Now the long wait for season seven!

13 Reasons Why Doesn’t Have A Reason To Exist In Season 2!

If the first season of 13 Reasons Why was a slow burn, then season two is just slow.  The first season gave us a gritty and sad take on modern high school life that marched towards a devastating conclusion.  Season two just stumbles around, sometimes hitting on something interesting, but its pacing and padding ruin any intrigue those good ideas my have fostered.  I think you may have gathered that I did not enjoy the second season of 13 Reasons Why.

Season two starts off not long after season one, and Hannah’s Mom and Dad are suing the school for not protecting their daughter.  In each episode a different character, or two, tells their story in court.  This is supposed to allow the kids to give their side of Hannah’s tapes, but in the end we are just covering old ground and confusing the narrative.  Meanwhile Clay is slowly (very slowly) trying to find more evidence to try and get back at Bryce, but mostly he is just angry and talks to ghost-in-his-head-Hannah at lot.

There are reasons not to go beyond the source material, and 13 Reasons Why suffers from all of them: not enough new material, character motivations get muddy, logical flow of the narrative changes, and it retcons what we learned in the first season.  In theory hearing the kids’ rebuttal to Hannah’s tapes is a good idea.  People only understand things from their side of the story, so to get both sides should have added extra context, but because they are all lying to cover their own hides in court that is not what happens.  The producers must have known this, so most of their testimonies are just played over the top of angry Clay meandering around.  Which is the opposite of riveting.

Whether or not you agreed with the material covered in season one at least it was gripping television.  Season two is not.  Hannah got to tell her 13 Reasons.  They did not need further analysis, or another “mystery” for Clay to solve.  My wife pointed out that by the end of the season it had devolved in to a bad clone of 90210.  Netflix greenlit season three, but they had better figure out something interesting to make the show about because season two gave us more than 13 Reasons Why to stop watching.

Shmee Checks In To The Hotel Artemis!

Hotel Artemis is the second movie in a row I have seen to place itself in a near cyberpunk setting, and I am all for it!  Of course besides its setting, Hotel Artemis shares very little in common with Upgrade.  Upgrade is an over the top action revenge movie, and Hotel Artemis, despite its advertising, is a quirky character flick that if it were a little more stylized could have easily been directed by Wes Anderson.  Which is to say, I liked it.

Hotel Artemis is a hospital in the near future where criminals can get patched up in safety away from the prying of authorities.  The type of place John Wick would totally know about and have a membership to.  The movie takes place on a busy night where the hotel is full up with crazy characters.  It is up to the head nurse, Jodie Foster, and her orderly, Dave Bautista, to keep everyone from killing each other.

I think the trailers for Hotel Artemis do the film a disservice.  They bill it has a full tilt action movie, but besides a quick shootout in the intro to setup the movie, a couple of crooks get shot and need a place to get patched up, and the third act where the pot boils over so to speak, this movie is just about the cast bouncing off of each other.  Not in an outright funny way, but like I said before, in quirky way that will make you smile, so if you were expecting one cool action sequence after another, you might be disappointed.  I, on the other hand, was pleasantly surprised.

Obviously character movies don’t work without good characters.  That is why Wes Anderson uses the same cast over and over.  In Hotel Artemis’s case it is hard to beat: Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sterling K. Brown, Charlie Day, Sofia Boutella, Zachary Quinto, and Jeff freaking Goldblum.  They all make their characters quite a delight to watch, so Drew Pearce’s casting director knew their business.

Hotel Artemis is smart enough not to outlast its welcome.  Its ninety-five minute running time (okay now it has two similarities with Upgrade) was a perfect fit.  A quick setup, the characters get to chew on each other for forty five minutes, and then the whole thing descends in to chaos.  It was very enjoyable ride.  It is not for everyone, but I had a lot of fun, and if you like funny (not ha-ha funny) little crime movies, you probably will too.

Ummm I Guess The Rest Of E3 2018 Was On Cruise Control…

I watched most of E3’s press conferences yesterday, and I was not overly impressed.  Square-Enix should have just skipped it, their 30 minute presentation pretty much only announced a new Dragon’s Quest game, and Ubisoft hit cut and paste from last year.  Which left Sony, and while Sony’s show was at least interesting, and it had this awesome trailer:

The rest of it was stuff we expected or that we had seen before, but with Sony’s amazing production values that at least made the show worth watching.

I am not sure what happened yesterday, last years pressers were so good, but this year, barring Microsoft and Bethesda on Sunday, the shows could have just been boiled down to a couple of new trailers.  It would have saved us all a bunch of time that is for sure.  Oh well, at least there are a ton of good games on the horizon, and I can’t wait to play them.