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.

Stuff From The E3 2018 Kickoff Weekend!

2018 E3’s Pre-shows started this weekend, and for the most part they were pretty good, with the exception of EA who pretty much just said they were sorry for being greedy jerks, Battlefield would also have Battle Royal, and Respawn was making a Star Wars game with Jedi in it.  This left the weekend to Microsoft and Bethesda.  They did not disappoint.

Microsoft kicked off the show with Halo: Infinity:

Then ended with Cyberpunk 2077!

What was between those two massive trailers was non-stop game announcements.  Most of them were not exclusive, but the message was clearly, “We have plenty of games to play!”  Other big things were that yes they are indeed working on a new Xbox despite rumors, as well as a streaming service, and that they bought four studios (Ninja Theory!!) and are creating a new one.  Also Forza Horizons 4 looks amazing!

After all of that hotness it was up to Bethesda, and while they had less games to show, they were all pretty amazing.

New standalone expansions for Prey and Wolfenstein, Doom 2 Eternal (AKA Hell on Earth), more Rage 2 with excellent digs at Walmart Canada, more info about the biggest Fallout ever 76 (AKA Fallout: The Division), and they ended it with a one two punch of STARFEILD!

And THE ELDER SCROLLS 6!!!

Of course they said Starfield is a next generation experience, and that The Elder Scrolls 6 doesn’t come out until after that, so who knows when they are coming out, but with Microsoft hinting about the Xbox Two being around the corner, we could see Starfield late next year and TES:6 in 2020.  However, it may be a safe bet to add an extra year to each of those games, so 2020 and then 2021 respectively.

I will be watching what goes down today, but Sunday was a good day for games, and I am expecting the usual fireworks from Sony, so today should be just as good if not better.

Shmee Ponders Getting An Upgrade!

Thanks to John Wick the old school late 80’s early 90’s action revenge genre is making a comeback, though it is getting a few tweaks along the way.  Upgrade stays truer to the formula than John Wick does, but it mixes in a cyberpunk setting and some horror elements for flavor.  While its story will not blow you away, its great fight choreography and gruesome practical effects might.

Upgrade’s plot is basic: happy man and wife get attacked, wife gets murdered, and then man goes out and takes his revenge.  The difference in Upgrade is that the man, Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), becomes a quadriplegic, so he undergoes an experimental surgery that implants a cybernetic computer, STEM (voice by  Simon Maiden), on to his spine to move his limbs for him.  Then when he allows STEM to have complete control over his body he turns in to a cyborg killing machine.

What is great about this movie is that it understands what the audience is in the theater for: cool fights, and they are a ton of fun.  Watching Grey watch what his body is doing without his control with a combined look of horror and amazement on face is quite funny, and Marshall-Green’s ability to make his movements look unhuman while making those facial emotes is uncanny.  Then because Upgrade is billed as a horror movie, the ending to those fights are shocking.  With really well done practical effects to sell what you are seeing on screen.

While no one is going to win any acting awards for this film, like I said before Marshall-Green really grounds this movie.  His ability to make not quite robotic movements and still give his character some emotional depth is worth recognition, and Upgrade needs that good central character because there is almost no other character of note in this movie.  Except for maybe STEM.  Everyone else is just a roadblock to justice.  Roadblocks that do some great stunt work.

Upgrade is barely over an hour and a half long including its ending credits, so it doesn’t outlast its welcome, and sophomore director Leigh Whannell does a fabulous job keeping it running at a fast clip.  You can tell he reveled in bringing his horror background to the action genre, he wrote and co-created the Saw and Insidious franchises.  While it won’t win any new fans to the action revenge genre, existing ones should find plenty to like in Upgrade.  It is quite literally a bloody good time.