Return To Hawkins For Stranger Things 2!

After the insanely popular first season of Stranger Things, people were wondering how and if the Duffer Brothers would be able to live up to their audiences’ lofty expectations for season two.  It turns out that they followed the mold of Alien versus Aliens.  Go bigger and keep the gas peddle down.  It mostly works.  It slows down in the middle, but it recovers, and sews seeds for the future.

Stranger Things 2 (what they called their second season) also deals with how children and self medicating alcoholic sheriffs handle trauma.  The question kind of answers itself, but in general they don’t handle it well.  However, watching the cast deal with what happened last season and overcome it to deal with season two’s new threats is excellent.

Stranger things still has one of the best casts out there, and they added Sean Astin to it, so in other words it got even better.  Though not all the new additions are great.  Not to give anything away, but there are some punks you will meet halfway through the season that are little more than 80’s stereotypes.  Whether it was they way there were written or the acting, it is hard to say, but they don’t come off well.

Still one bad episode compared to eight goods ones is kind of being picky.  Most shows wish they had that kind of ratio.  The question now becomes where Stranger Things goes after season two.  Season one’s ending gave us several questions that needed to be answered.  Season two’s remaining threads aren’t near as interesting, so the Duffer Brothers will have their work cut out for them, but after two great seasons you know I will be back for season three, and based on what I am seeing on Facebook and Twitter so will you.  I can’t wait to get back to Hawkins Indiana to hang out with everyone’s favorite middle-schoolers!

Shmee Visits Skull Island And Sees Kong!

It seems like every decade or so someone gets the bright idea to make another King Kong movie, but this time they decided that it would make sense to put Kong in the same universe as Godzilla.  While the King of the Apes doesn’t go head to head with the King of the Monsters in Kong: Skull Island it definitely plants the seeds for that epic mashup which happens May 2020 after the next Godzilla movie next year.  With all that crossover business behind us, the question becomes is Kong: Skull Island good by itself? Yup, it is a fine popcorn movie, but I doubt it will become your favorite movie.

Kong: Skull Island begins at the end of the Vietnam War when John Goodman convinces a Senator to let him take a helicopter squadron and a bunch of scientists to an uncharted island.  He hopes there will be monsters there.  Guess what? He is right, and they find Kong who isn’t happy to see them.

The story is fine, but it is pretty much an excuse to have a cool scene with a lot of helicopters fighting King Kong while blaring awesome 70’s music.  Which is something I can get behind!  It is a pretty epic fight, and then after that a bunch of monsters slowly reduce the survivors to a fraction of their original number.  I know it sounds like I am giving away spoilers, but this is what Legendary and Warner Brothers promised us with their marketing, and they delivered.

There are a ton of people in this movie, but for the most part just the pretty ones, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, and John C. Reilly matter.  On top of that only John C. Reilly seems to know he is in a cheesy monster movie.  Everyone else must have been told they were making the Kong version Apocalypse Now.  Reilly makes this flick better every time he is on the screen.  Other people mostly provide excitement when they get eaten or smashed.

Even if you haven’t seen the new Godzilla or care about yet other shared universe, Kong: Skull Island is a decent movie on its own.  If you do care about those things, it is fun to see all the Easter Eggs for future films littered around.  Kong: Skull Island should be hitting streaming services soon, and there are worse films to spend a couple of hours with.  I enjoyed myself.  Just make sure to forward your way through the credits for one final King Kong vs Godzilla teaser.

Life With Hulu With Live TV!

Since Comcast has continued to raise rates and give me nothing extra for my money, the wife and I have decided to give Hulu with Live TV a try, and it has been working pretty well, with some caveats.

First off what the service gets right.  You get a good selection live channels as well as Hulu’s already excellent selection of on demand shows.  You also get a feature called ‘Cloud DVR’ which allows you to record shows, but obviously as its name suggests it stores them on the internet.  Then the big seller for us, Hulu with Live TV has most of the local Seattle stations included as well.  Most of the other streaming cable services do not.  We have to be able to watch those Seahawks!  Then you get to take this all with you.  Visiting a friends house for the weekend and your show is on, but they don’t have cable TV?  Just take your Roku Stick with you, and you and your friends can watch it (provided your friend has internet), or you can find a corner and watch it on your phone.

All this is not without its flaws.  The new Hulu interface is not intuitive.  Little icons on the top row indicate were you are, and then massive pictures and bold print tell you the names of shows it wants you to watch, but it is hard to find something other than what they are promoting.  You get used to it, but there is a steep learning curve.  Also, it seems that right now the service is having a slight issue keeping up with demand.  While for the most part everything looks great, it isn’t uncommon for the picture to get a little blurry while the stream catches up.  This doesn’t appear to be due to my internet, since Netflix and Amazon don’t also have this issue.  Lastly, and maybe most importantly for a lot of people, Hulu with Live TV isn’t that much cheaper than cable.  Though you do save some extra green because there are no random fees or cable boxes.

If you are like me, and you just got sick of all the standard cable options and want to give something else a try, Hulu with Live TV is a good choice.  They need to work on their interface, and maybe add a few more live channels to the mix to justify their price, but I gain the flexibility of taking my TV anywhere I want, and more importantly, on whatever internet provider I want.  With the added bonus of sticking it to Comcast.  So far it has been worth it.  Who knows, I may go back to Comcast, but at least then I will be a ‘new’ subscriber again and get all the good rates.

Shmee Played D&D With His Friends And Has This Video As Proof!

Well we went and did it: The Paladin, Plumpy Thimble, Shaun and I played D&D on the internet.  It was a fun experience, and we learned a lot for next time, if there is a next time, like check if your mic is working right off the bat instead of waiting to hear from your little brother that there is no sound.  Mr. Thimble has hosted the video for us on his YouTube channel, along with a brief explanation of what happened during the first 45 minutes.

We got this setup working with a great free software package for streaming OBS Studio (OBS = Open Broadcaster Software).  It is a little finicky, like the fact if you open and close it you need to re-add your mics, but the price is right, and it is very easy to use, so if you want to start streaming it is a great way to test the waters without spending your hard earned cash.  It works to just record your video, or stream it to YouTube, Twitch, or Mixer.  We could only get three cameras working, but that was because of my Surface Book’s hardware limitations, not OBS.

Anyway, if you want, you should check out our little adventure above.  Though I won’t be hurt if you don’t.  The other guys might take it personally though.

The Nut Job Is A Con Job!

Every now and then you make a mistake, and you let your daughter pick a movie because she thinks a purple squirrel is cute.  She tells you it will be silly.  With The Nut Job your daughter was wrong on all counts.  Well maybe the squirrel is cute, but it definitely isn’t silly.  In fact is, it isn’t anything.  It is just a collection of scenes with the run time of a feature film.  It is a waste of everyone’s time.

We live in an age now where most kids movies a parent can watch and still be at least mildly entertained, but that is not the case with The Nut Job.  It is an hour and twenty-six minutes of torture, and to cap it off, my daughter didn’t even like it that much.  It is a low budget cash in.  A job for everyone involved, but a disaster for anyone that was actually forced to watch it.

I would normally give a plot synopsis, or talk about the actors involved, but if they didn’t care about their movie, why should I?  Okay fine, but only for the sake of a complete review!  Animals in a park are hungry, so they try and steal nuts from bank robbers, and people of various fame levels voice the animals with varying degrees of blandness.

Somehow this movie got a sequel, which my daughter will not talk me in to watching.  Though to her  credit, I doubt she will be asking to watch The Nut Job again.  If you happen to flipping through Amazon Prime and your kids squeal when they see a purple squirrel, just keep flipping and pretend you didn’t hear them.  It will be better for everyone.  We need to keep our families safe from terrible movies.  Especially ones with Psy performing Gangnam Style.