Dismembering the Dead: an Examination of Dexter Season 8

An end of a reviewing era, and a look at what many people call one of the worst final seasons in TV history, Dexter Season 8.

This will be giving away everything too early, but it’s not the worst final season of TV history. It is far more boring than anything else this show has had up to this point. But bad, not so much. Season 6 was far more immediately terrible and missed key character elements. It’s villains were also way more generic, kind of.

To explain: Season 8 has Dexter going after The Brain Surgeon, a serial killer who removes pieces of a victims brain, specifically the cortex that allows empathy. To help combat this threat Miami Metro brings in Dr Evelyn Vogel, a psychopath whisperer, who just so happens to have secretly helped Dexter’s dad create the code and mold Dexter the way he is (I did say this was not immediately worse, right?). Meanwhile Debra is still extremely fractured over killing LaGuerta over and has pushed herself to new extremes to get away. Oh, and Joey is dating Dexter’s nanny/Angel’s sister, Jamie. And, Masuka finds out he has a daughter he got when he donated sperm.

The main issue that drags the whole show down, outside of a secret contributor to Dexter’s past… again, is the blandness of the main villain. This has been a problem since season six. Since season six the villain have not been compelling. Season six kind of got away with it by having Tom Hanks’ son, Collin, and Edward James Olmos, but they are no Ice Truck Killer, defiantly no Trinity, and not even the girlfriend from season two. The Brain Surgeon is boring while also trying to have a version of the twist season one had, just with an actor who was not hired for his talent it seems.

The twist here in season eight, that the Brain Surgeon is somehow related to another character works for the kind of thematic arc this season is going for. To break that down, if each season is about Dexter being pushed to confront who he can really be with, and we went from a blood relative who wants him for twisted reasons, to a possible girlfriend for him with Hannah, then it only makes sense that in the final season you would make it be all about Dexter finally creating his own family unit his way, and not marry into one.

This thrust to make and the break the family unit kind of makes sense with the rest of the seasons choices… kind of. Many arcs like Joey and Jamie, or Masuka and his daughter feel very pointless by the end. Masuka’s might be going for what Barney received at the end of How I Met Your Mother. He goes after women, but the true women he needed was a daughter. The problem is that, in the end, it’s just kind of left there in no new status quo. Joey’s on the other hand…

The biggest mistake this series makes is on its send off to Deb. Deb was arguably the best character in the show, with the most consistently growing character arc. She starts are a Vice cop who wants into homicide and eventually becomes head of the agency only to learn a crippling truth she must grow back from. It is very strong. There are of course some big mistakes thrown in. All her boyfriends for one. But overall it was strong. It’s a shame they ruin it to force Dexter to reach the end of his arc.

Before getting into the end of the series I think it’s pertinent to mention that I do not think Breaking Bad ends well. I am not someone who thinks Walter White was a good person, but the idea of some dumb, bland biker gang getting the best of him seems cheap. He bested all the smartest minds in the Arizona (or is it New Mexico) drug game only to be brought down by discount Hell’s Angels. Not the way I thought he should be brought down.

I say all that to mention how, at least, Dexter is not trapped into a flimsy mind game with the Brain Surgeon. The events that finally bring Dexter down are partially of his own making, partially things he had no control over. Still doesn’t make it good, but it’s better than Breaking Bad.

With that out of the way… Dexter, the show, has always been about reinforcing how Dexter cannot have attachments. Literally from season one that is what the show has been about. That makes the ending almost kind of perfect… now, the way it gets there ultimately is cheap feeling, and the changes to Dexter’s character does not feel all earned, but the idea that Dexter leaves everything behind to go somewhere else makes sense. It’s a shame that to do so he ships his son off with his love interest, his step kids never come back, and his sister, well… dies.

Yeah, Deb, the eternal compass of the team is killed off in a very contrived way. Then Dexter is able to somehow sneak her off to sea and send her away makes no sense on how he could possibly have done that. That may not sound bad on text, but maybe saying that a character who went through so many psychological breaks as Deb, only to grow and come out the other side a stronger woman, to then be killed by a bullet (it’s more complicated, but that’s where it starts) all so Dexter realizes he’s can’t have a family is cheap, and totally fridges her.

On the plus side, the fact Dexter’s last kill is the one Miami PD knows about, is on camera, is in self defense, and with a pen of all things is very fun. That, on top of how his last kill makes him human, finally, is quite an interesting idea.

In the end though, I still like the show. Even as it gets very bland it still has this atmosphere, and has such compelling characters like Deb, and Dexter, and Angel that it all works even when it definitely makes no sense, and is kind of ridiculously dumb at points.

Oh, and I can confirm that Dexter truly is Bad Superman.

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Triassic Invasion – Chapter 2, Period 5 (Period-a-Day)

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Period 5

    “So now what?” Hinotomi asked. Both her and Damon called out of work today. They said they still had to move the old technology to the storage facility and clean out said storage facility.

    They opened the case on the dining room table and placed the three parts of Dieous back into their foam packaging. They looked like they were never even touched before, let alone see any battle. Hinotomi stirred her cup of tea. Damon entered with his cup of coffee in his hand. “We run diagnostics on him and find out why he would respond to the neural input of our daughter and not highly trained soldiers.”

    “That is one plan,” Hinotomi said. “But we have bigger problems now.” She took a sip and felt it warm her body on the way down. “If she did harm or even kill one of those dinosaurs they could come back here for revenge. If they bring a big enough attack force, we might not be prepared for what will come. Dieous won’t be ready for what will come.”

    Damon placed his mug down and picked up the belt. It alone weighed twenty-five pounds before you add the five or six-pound weight of the watches. It was cold to the touch. A hum ran through the machine. It vibrated in his hands. He just imagined what his baby girl looked like or felt like while trying to do anything in the full body armor. He had this image of her activating the armor, standing triumphant for a second, only to fall on her back, and not get up, like a turtle in medieval armor. He almost let out a chuckle. 

    “Well?” Hinotomi asked. 

    Damon shook his head. “No, you’re right on both counts,” he said. He walked into the living room, teetered around the boxes of old lap tech and grabbed the laptop. He went back to the table and hooked it up to the Dieous belt with a USB port. Hinotomi took the watches, detached the clasps, and placed them on top of the belt buckle. They stuck together like a magnet. The data in the blue circles can be passed through contact like sharing pictures on certain smartphones between them in order to quickly consolidate data, or separate it in case a problem arose, and information needed to be kept out of the hands of someone. Damon clicked on the keyboard and brought up the diagnostics. Hinotomi pulled up a seat and examined the data. 

    A black screen came up, with the D13OUS in the background, and four applications on the homepage. They were “VIDEO LOG”, “BIOMETRIC SCAN”, “SEARCH HISTORY”, and “ACTIVATION LOG.” Damon clicked on the video log first. There they watched as their daughter powered on Dieous, punched the raptor creature, chased after said creature, saved two classmates, then came home. Under the video was a graph of the amount of energy Dieous used to move around in real-time to match the video being played. There was a large spike when moving across the bridge. The graph spiked into the red and almost plateaued. 

    “I don’t believe it,” Damon said. 

    “These readings,” Hinotomi said, “the armor should have completely shut down after over-exerting itself for so long.”

“Let me see something.” He exited the video and went to the biometric scans. A cartoon outline of a boy with the name “KYANE YORITIS” at the top. He typed a few more times and brought up a timeline to match with the activity in the video and moved the timeline to when the armor over-extended itself. Kyane’s outline emanated a blue glow while armored the whole time. This glow was not normal. When the timeline reached where Dieous over-extended its power the blue glow exploded and spiked. Her pulse rate matched. There was no explanation of what the blue glow was. A key in the corner just had a “T/S” block with blue next to it. They looked at each other instinctively and knew what those two letters meant. They then sunk into their seats.

The Ultimate AMV

AMVs (Anime Music Videos) have gotten me into more bands and anime than any review, analysis, editorial, or recommendation. Just the idea of action, drama, or comedy edited in a way to match a song just works. It is easy to write off many of them, (I mean DBZ and Linkin Park is a cliche for a reason…) but many are so earnest and visually interesting that it’s easy to overlook that.

This is just talking around the bush to say I found these videos by rock/country/pop (I mean modern country is just rock/pop with a southern accent so it is kind of pointless to have that descriptor, but I digress my) artist Sturgill Simpson from his recent album SOUND & FURY. Only, further research found that they came from a CGI anime film on Netflix called Sturgill Simpson Presents: SOUND & FURY.

Videos: https://youtu.be/8qX02AW48bM https://youtu.be/SpSMoBp8awM

Bands coming together to make animated movies based on their albums is not new. Yellow Submarine by the Beatles and Insterstella 5555 based on the Daft Punk’s discovery (Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger and One More Time are both from that album) both come to mind. Interstella 5555 was also literally an anime by Toei in conjunction with Daft Punk and supervised by the legendary Leiji Matsumoto of Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 fame.

SOUND & FURY, similarly, comes from Junpei Mizusaki of Batman: Ninja and producer of the Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure anime.

The film is an anthology of stories set in a dystopian world brought into ruin from outside invaders. Each segment of the film is paired with one of the songs from Sturgill Simpson’s album, the titular SOUND & FURY, and are constructed to relay more of a feeling and vibe through the visuals, as well as tell a complete story (mostly).

The section that seems most popular (it is the one the two YouTube videos are centered around) follows female-samurai-Mad Max as she gets revenge for her father, who was killed in his own quest for revenge to save her. The biggest moment of this is a large fight where the samurai uses motorcycle robots to fight guys who travel in giant walking tanks and surrounded by a harem of women. Other sections includes a POV of a homeless man dying in the attack by the outsiders, an interment or slave camp of sorts that is being run by men in skeleton armor and focuses on the slaves escape plan, and two mixed media, but mostly live action segments of life in the world. One is of a collector in a full containment suit picking up objects they find in the street. The penultimate is a trippy world where threads envelope people and give them wings… maybe… it’s all very abstract.

In fact most of the film is abstract by design. It focuses more on feeling and ambiance than a strict plot. The samurai plot is the most straight forward, but even that has questions attached. Either way, the film wants to be a Fantasia like experience. The animation, editing, and story match the energy and atmosphere of the song.

But, if it is like Fantasia then is it really an AMV?

Or, better question, is Fantasia an AMV?

That answer does not really matter. SOUND & FURY is the ultimate AMV because of how consistent and well executed each segment is in relation to the song. It helps that the animation is set to a single, overall consistent album by a single creator who helped produce the film, but that doesn’t take away from how impressive it is in end.

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Capone aka “Fonzo” (2020) Review

A movie that seems to be only a part of a longer story that we should have gotten. Josh Trank makes his comeback from the disaster that was Fantastic 4 with this movie about none other than the notorious gangster Al Capone. Well the part of him that was older and lacking of a stable mental state. Capone is a movie that I have been looking forward to for a long time, not just because the casting of Tom Hardy as Al Capone is perfect, but also because I’m a big fan of Trank. I loved his work on Chronicle and I loved the first half of Fantastic 4, a movie that I feel he got done dirty with. Capone wasn’t exactly what I was expecting from him as his next film, but it seems to be a bit of a passion project being that he wrote, edited, and directed the film. Either way, I was very excited to see this so you could say my expectations were a bit high going into it.

It’s hard to actually describe the plot of this film since there really isn’t a whole lot going on, but at the same time there is but not in a deep plot sort of way. This movie is about how Al Capone is dealing with his deteriorating mind and how he’s struggling with grasping reality while having visions of things that may or may not be happening. The only real plot point that is recurring is that apparently Capone has ten million dollars hidden somewhere and everyone is trying to figure out where the money is, but of course his mind is so messed up at this point that he can’t remember where it is.

The problem with this movie is that it feels as if it was just a moment of something that we should have gotten much more of. This movie could have been shortened down to forty minutes and been a third of a whole movie about Al Capone from his prime to his fall and death. It’s unfortunate because Tom Hardy as Capone is really good, but we never get to see him give it his all as the gangster in what could have been an amazing epic with an impressive character progression.

Hardy of course is the real highlight of the film as the title character, but it’s hard to say whether his acting is actually good or if it’s just fortunate that he doesn’t have to do much. I’m not sure if I’m impressed by his performance or just blinded by the fact that it’s Hardy in the role. What I mean is that this might be the more mumbling role that he’s ever had even more so than Mad Max. He mumbles his way through the movie with mostly grunts and a few one word answers with some Italian sprinkled over.

This brings me to thinking about how it is impressive to see what he can do with his crazy look that he has or just in general his movements and facial expressions. I give him props for that, but dislike the fact that we don’t get much from him and actual dialogue. This all of course comes full circle back to how I feel about this movie as a whole. It feels as if it is but a mere moment in Capone’s life which of course is the point of this movie, but in the end it just doesn’t work as well as it probably sounds on paper.

If Trank had pitched me this idea on paper than I would have been on board because it sounds like a fascinating exploration of who Capone was in his final year, but the execution exploits the problem with the concept. I don’t think this falls on Trank and his directing because I think overall he did very well with what he had, and it isn’t even the writing which he also did. The problem is just that this concept sounds interesting, but looks like it would only work as being a portion of a much longer movie that explores the complete life of the gangster.

Last year we had The Irishman, and while I did enjoy the film, it wasn’t everything that I wanted it to be. Trank hit a wall with this movie where he seemed to push hard at what he wrote and the story he was trying to tell, but couldn’t go much further than that because the story just wasn’t there. This movie is more disappointing than anything else and not because it’s a bad movie. I don’t think this is a bad movie at all and I think Trank is definitely back on track of getting back on that directing horse, but it seems that because I could see the potential Trank had with his directing and Hardy as the lead, it left me overall disappointed because it could have been so much more.

This is going to go down as being an average film that I likely will only remember because of how much I like Trank as a director, but most of all it’s going to go down in my book as a movie that could have been something really special, but it wasn’t. I wish I could talk to Trank and actually ask him whether it was ever a possibility to make this a longer film that explores Capone’s whole life story. It could also have been that he was aiming to bring his name back to the industry with a movie that would make a statement and get him back in the light for studios which I think he successfully does. I can’t knock him for what he did given his circumstances and likely the constraints of what he could actually do, but I just really wanted more.

Overall this is a movie that I think everyone should give a chance just to see how you feel about it and to see if maybe I’m just crazy and this movie is just bad. It’s a movie that I would love to talk about whether it be the actual movie or the potential of what it could have been, but at the same time it’s not a movie that I will say is any better than average. If you don’t like gangster movies then you probably won’t like this, I guess, maybe you will if you like dramas? I’m not entirely sure.

If you have seen Fonzo, sorry Capone, then comment below or email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia also, I just want to say that this movie should have kept the title “Fonzo” I just like it more…

Triassic Invasion – Chapter 2, Period 4 (Period-a-Day)

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Period 4

    “What happened to you yesterday?” Jamie asked Kyane in first period Biology. Both he and Desmond sat huddled around Kyane’s desk. She rested her head on the cold faux-wood desktop. “We thought you were attacked by the rap-“ Desmond winked his eyes to stop him, “the rapist, or whoever attacked the couple.” Desmond nodded. They had to speak low, the class could get rowdy, but if anyone overheard their special extra credit, they knew it would mean some annoying arguments.

    “No,” Kyane said. “I’m just grounded for life for like no reason,” she said. “That’s the only reason I’m here so early, or on time or whatever.” She massaged her palm. She felt her nails dig into the skin. “I guess I’m gonna have to retake this class.” On the drive to school her parents told her she had to debrief both boys she saved to see how much they remembered, and if she could make them think it was a strange dream or something. 

    “And you won’t get Mr. Ayer, you’ll be stuck with Mrs. Granger or Ms. Carter, both are older than the earth itself,” Jamie said. 

    “Not helping dude,” Desmond said. He extended his hand and rubbed Kyane’s back. “Look, I’m apart of a lot of teams. And I think we are a team now, right? We’ll just tell Mr. Ayer we want to write our one page together, and give him what we found then, so you’re in the clear. I mean, it’s not your fault you were grounded. Right?”

    “Right,” Kyane said. “Can you stop that, I’m about to fall asleep.” 

    “Sorry,” Desmond jerked his hand away. Kyane sat up as the bell rang and Mr. Ayer entered the classroom. He turned to see Jamie and Desmond in the wrong seats. “We can talk after baseball practice later,” Desmond said. 

    “Okay,” Kyane whispered. 

    Kyane heard Jamie whisper: “I’m part of a team.” A small smile etched its way onto his face. 

    The three went up to Mr. Ayer after class. He was checking off the class attendance on the computer. Kyane saw the red cross symbol on Jamie’s name. Kyane looked back at him and figured that would be why he needed the extra credit. But she couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t in the AP or Honors class. “Mr. Ayer,” Kyane said. 

    He turned in his chair to look at them. “What’s up, guys?” 

    “Look, I’ll be straight up,” Kyane said. Mr. Ayer nodded. “We need an extra day.”

    “Okay,” Mr. Ayer said. “Why? What happened?”

    “Kyane said-,” Jamie began.

    “I said that what we found was so strange and weird that we need more time to figure it all out and write our paper for you.” She placed his hand on Mr. Ayer’s shoulder. His shirt was soft. “I’m sure you want the best possible paper from us to give us that extra credit. Am I right?”

    Mr. Ayer looked at Desmond. Desmond’s eyes were planted on Kyane. He was trying not to hide his shock at her needless lie. “Okay,” Mr. Ayer said. “Sounds reasonable. Tomorrow at the latest it is then!”

    “Thanks, Mr. Ayer, you da best,” Kyane said. 

    “Yeah, yeah, thanks, now go get to class,” He waved his hand at the door. 

The three strode out of the room. Kyane saw the burning questions the two had for why she lied for no reason.  She turned to the corner and stopped at the lockers. “What?” she asked the two. “Why do you have those faces?”

“No reason,” Desmond said to end the conversation and just go. 

“That’s a lie.” Kyane grabbed his arm. She couldn’t get her fingers around his bicep. 

“You… you… you lied,” Jamie said. “For n…”

“No reason.” Desmond jumped to it. “You lied for no reason.”

“No,” Kyane said. “I lied because I don’t think if I said I was grounded he would have let us write it together like we wanted. So, we need to do this right.”

“Extra time you need,” Desmond said. “We both were there. We both…” he trailed off. The late bell rang. “We’re still meeting to go over this. Meet at the practice field in the back.” He looked at Kyane. “You can see how good I am.” Desmond ran off.

Scoob! Doo into the Hanna-Barberaverse (a Review)

Scooby-Doo as a concept is one of the malleable ideas for telling a different range of stories. They can range from comedic farces, to interesting mysteries, to outright satire and everything in between. This film, however, positions Scooby-Doo the character and series as the flashbulb moment to its own animated cinematic universe.

To that end the movie is set after the original series where Mystery Inc is looking at making their hobby a full time business. But after Simon Cowell refuses to back them as long as Scooby and Shaggy are around the team splits up just in time for Scooby to become the central McGuffin of Dick Dastardly. Now Scooby and Shaggy must team up with in universe super hero Blue Falcon’s son Brian, Dynomutt, and Dee Dee to track down the three skulls to summon a gate to the underworld. All the while Freddy, Daphne, and Velma solve what Dick Dastardly’s true scheme is along the way.

The film is gorgeous. It has this really solid aesthetic that feels like a great blend of the classic series with modern CG. The characters are really able to pop in their own distinct ways while also feeling totally cohesive. Similarly, the use of CG allows for creative and beautiful vistas and transformation effects that are stunning. It looks great.

The writing isn’t bad either. The team really seem to enjoy the Scooby-Doo series and try to put a lot into that. Many of the lines and zingers are fairly strong. Where the writing does fail is in a push for more modern references, and structure. The references are not overbearing, but they stick out. The structure meanwhile is fairly standard, and the way the gang solve the problem at the end feels kind of easy… but it’s a solid gag.

The voice work is overall solid. This is by no means the best Scooby-Doo voice cast. Will Forte is good, but no Matthew Lillard. Outside of him Zac Efron plays a good Fred, Gina Rodriguez is a solid enough Velma, and Amanda Seyfried is a really good Daphne. I am always surprised to see her in things, but she is great. The standouts are Mark Wahlberg as the cowardly screwup Blue Falcon, who is played perfectly against Ken Jeong who is really grounded even though he is a robot dog. They are great.

The strangest elements in the movie though is the push to expand Scooby-Doo as a series to include all of its knock-off series. Blue Falcon and Dynomutt are standard enough super hero parodies, but adding Captain Caveman in an extended fight scene and cameo,basically, is odd. Tracy Morgan has fun with it, but feels added for no reason.

Even with that, and some stale jokes, and basic storytelling the movie is still a bunch of fun. It has good jokes, strong chemistry, a compelling Mystery Inc team, and just a solid sense of what modern Scooby-Doo has become.

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Triassic Invasion – Chapter 2, Period 3 (Period-a-Day)

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Period 3

    “What the hell does that mean!?” Damon yelled. His voice stung Kyane’s ears in her small bedroom. The mountain of clothes, dirty and clean alike, and wall of belts could not deafen his voice. 

    “I’m sayin I tried to take Dieous, sell him for some money so I could go out and boost my grade, but I got mugged and he activated,” Kyane explained to him again.

    “You’re so grounded,” Damon said. He pointed his finger inches from her face

    “Shush! That can wait,” Hinotomi yelled. “Our daughter was the only person to control Dieous this extensively! She has incredibly valuable information to give us, so shut up for ten seconds about BS material problems and listen to your daughter for god’s sake.” She transitioned in her native language for more cursing Kyane assumed. “Okay, I’m done.” She took a breath and blew it out steadily. She looked to her daughter. “Thank you for that information about Dieous. It is very helpful to know.”

    “So,” Kyane began. She kicked some trash by her bed. “Why did you make this thing anyway?” She motioned to the watches and belt. “Is it the Russians again, or heighten the war on terror?”

    There were minutes of silence. Kyane watched as her parents exchanged looks, she only saw during their worst moments. When she was younger, she would laugh because she thought they were given each other funny faces. When she got older, she noticed that they were trying to talk without talking. It was their own language. She picked up some of the subtle signs. When her mom’s lip twitched on the left side, she knew she was about to yell. Same with her dad. When he got mad, he continually squeezed, then released his fist. 

    Finally, the silence broke. 

    “There are things the government doesn’t always tell you,” Hinotomi began. 

    “Yeah…” Kyane said. “I’ve seen movies.”

    “Just stop Kyane,” Damon said. “The adults are talking to you. This is not a conversation! Go on honey pop,” Damon’s voice pepped up. 

    “Thank you dear,” she turned her attention back to Kyane. “I get it. It’s late, we’re all tired. I will give it to you straight. There are creatures we have not talked about. No, ahh, look aliens can come from many places, not just space. No that doesn’t… look honey there are dinosaur people that eat humans. They are incredibly dangerous to our place as the best animals on this planet, so Dieous was made to combat them.” Hinotomi waited for her daughter’s face to change. She saw her try to fake surprise, but it did not work. “You know…” Hinotomi backed away from her daughter. 

    “What?” Damon leaned in. “You know about them?”

    Kyane played with the back of her hair. “Ahh, well,” she said. “That was the guy who mugged me,” she said. “And trashed my bike!” she with an added lean forward and finger wag. 

    “God. Damnit, Kyane!” Damon wiped his face with his hand. “Anything else you want to tell us?” He knelt by his daughter and cupped her hand. He could see the fear deep in her pupils. “ I promise you won’t get in trouble.”

    “I then kinda used Dieous to go mug him back, and saved some classmates from getting killed,” Kyane said. Damon nodded his head and sucked his teeth in. Kyane looked at her mom and dad, then down at the watches around her wrists. “Look,” she began, “I did something really stupid, but I did something good. And mom said that I did something like no one ever has done before by using Dieous. Let me use him to keep fighting these dinosaur creature alien monsters. I can do that.”

    Damon and Hinotomi looked at each other from the corners of their eyes. Kyane could feel her dad’s hand tremble even as he tried to stand firm. His hand moved to Kyane’s wrist and unclamped the watch, then drew it off. Kyane lurched forward, but Hinotomi grabbed her and hugged her. Damon quickly removed the second watch and pocketed them both. His pants dropped a few inches. “You’re our daughter. We love you no matter the yelling. We will not let you get hurt. We can’t let you.”

    “But I’m the only person that can do it! You said that!” Kyane tried to stand, but her mother’s grip held her in place.

    “Stop!” Damon yelled. “It’s our job to protect you. So, we will.” He waved his hand. “Now give me the belt, please.” 

    Kyane took it off without any fighting. She handed it to her father.

“Thank you,” he said. “Now get some sleep. You still have school in the morning.” He and Hinotomi kissed their daughter’s forehead. They walked out of the room and turned the light off with only the moon giving Kyane illumination as she changed into her pajamas and laid down on her pillow.

Triassic Invasion – Chapter 2, Period 2

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Period 2

    The raptor stumbled away from the scene of the crime and back home. He stuck to side streets, alleyways, and rooftops whenever possible to avoid being seen by humans. He knew his labored breathing did not help his situation at all, but he moved forward anyway. He reached the harbor where an abandoned warehouse sat. He usually hated how the salty air stung his nose, but he didn’t care at this moment. He crouched down then leaped upward to the tin roof. The moon cast a blinding light off the tin. This light made it hard for others to see his kind enter through a hatch near the middle of the complex. 

    The raptor creature landed hard onto the warehouse floor. He felt his ankle snap on contact. He tried to swear but could not get the words out. He limped to a large swirling portal at the far side of the warehouse. Each step, and click of his claws, he wanted to yell and scream in agony, but could not do so. The portal in front of him was the size of an 18-wheeler transport truck and smelled like the cab of one. He approached it, then stepped through. In what felt like an eternity he passed through the world he was into the world he came from. It only took a few seconds. He felt his body tear away and come back with every tick to the other side. The world did not want to let him go. It was a film he had to tear away to get through. He felt a pop of chilled cave air, and the chatter of his own kind on the other side. 

    “He should have come back by now. It is past his time,” said another raptor creature with a scar across his chest, and a grumble in his belly.

    “You can just hold up a bite,” said the raptor creature with a torn tail. “You know he likes to take his time with the hunt. Gets to, ahhhhh!” The other raptor saw him and screamed. The other raptors’ voices reached an unnaturally high octave for their kind. The destroyed raptor creature crumpled to the ground and refused to move. “Quickly, get the lieutenant.” He turned to their injured comrade. “Who did this to you? Quick, speak now before it is too late.”

    The raptor lifted its mangled face. “A huuuumannn teeeenager, Dieous,” he wheezed out. “Thrreee.” He laid his head on the cave floor, resting it on a chunk of stalagmite. Before the raptor with the broken tail or scar could speak a slightly higher-pitched voice chimed in. 

    “What is wrong?” it said. The two raptors turned to see their lieutenant march down the cave hallway, and into the portal room. The lieutenant looked like them in build, only with more definition, and tone to his muscles. He had a similar tan and green body color, but a mismatched green and blue head with three spikes going from the bridge of his nose to the middle of his forehead. Their lieutenant was an evolved eoraptor. 

    The two raptor soldiers clicked to attention. “Lieutenant Eoraspt, he just came out of the portal like this. We were just about to get you,” said the broken tailed raptor.

    “He said it was three teenage humans named Dieous,” said the scared raptor. 

    “I see,” Eoraspt said. He moved passed his soldiers and to the body before the soldiers could finish a single blink. They turned to see Eorapst crouched over the body examining it. “Very interesting.” He pointed to the bruises. “These are clearly combat wounds. But from what Dracex’s informant told us humans were not strong enough to do this much physical damage without mechanical assistance.” He pivoted his head from side to side to examine the body. 

    “What should we do with the body, sir? Should we send it to General Dracorex?”

    Eorapst darted passed them back to the doorway. He held the raptor soldiers’ body in one hand. “This is no need to bother him. Some humans must have just gotten lucky.” He raised the body and looked at the mangled monster in the eyes. “If he was strong enough, he would not have gotten hurt.” He blinked his lime eyes. “But they should learn their place.” 

Eorapst exited the cave onto a campsite. The sun hung high in the sky, beating down. Large troops of raptor soldiers marched around and went in and out of animal skin tents set up around a massive fire pit. Eorpast paid them no attention and went to the largest tent with the sign “Colonel Herreas” hanging above the entrance. He entered without any verbal warning. Inside an animal bedding lay at the far end. In the corner sat 12 large eggs. The twelve eggs were bathed in a pit of bubbling toxins that often splash out and burn the ground. Eorapst looked in and saw some spare human flesh floating on a piece of metal. He tossed the dead soldier in. The bits of meat were quickly eaten away and dissolved to mush. The eggs absorb the meaty chowder into their shells. “I’ll deal with this before it gets out of hand myself,” he said. He tapped a pattern of clicks out to get a platoon ready to invade.

Triassic Invasion – Chapter 2, Period 1 (Period-a-Day)

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Class 2 – Olenekian Objection

Period 1

Kyane followed Dieous’s path across the rooftops. It was a strange sensation, moving around at high speeds on a winter night without getting any slashing breeze or freezing air. During the move she had Dieous explain why she could just talk to just him sometimes, and when she can broadcast her voice through the armor. Dieous explained the microchip embedded in the base of the skull on the armor’s helmet. It allowed for instant contact by cutting out the need for verbal language, and instead focus on the thoughts. Dieous brought up pictures of psychics, simplifying it down to telepathy. But when Kyane wished she could just talk aloud, which would be broadcasted out. She stopped moving when she reached a building across the street from the bridge out of the city. “We’re out of the roof, what now Die?”

    Dieous brought up the minimized map he originally produced. Dieous rescanned the body armor. “Hm. This is very strange.”

    “What is?”

    “It appears this was created using all my finished features my program was supposed to have. However, since I am not fully completed, I cannot execute this plan.”

    “Is this the weapons thing over again?”

    “Yes.” Dieous brought up blueprint schematics for flight capabilities with extended thrust jets, and an extendable movement control fin. “I am supposed to be able to fly but am not able. Therefore, we cannot cross.” 

    “Great,” Kyane said. “Great, great, great.” She looked at the time. It was 9:58. She was way past curfew and would have enough to answer for after losing her bike. She looked down at the water below. “Can you swim?”

    “Negative. My weight would cause us to sink.”

    “Of course.” She sat on the ledge of the roof and kicked her feet back and forth and drummed a beat with her palms. “Before you ask, I am thinking.”

    “I know,” Dieous said. “As I previously mentioned-“

    “Hush!” Kyane said. She looked to see a dusty sunflower mini-van drive onto the exit ramp of the bridge. Kyane squinted her eyes. The HUD brought up a box, and zoomed in on the van, and displayed real-time video of two children playing, and one looking out the window. She rose with a plan in mind. She crouched and placed her hands and feet like she was about to sprint off the block at a track event. The boosters began absorbing the air around her. “When I was young my parents would take me on long car trips for breaks and holidays. My favorite would be seeing the snow mounds when we drove up to my Poppy’s and Grandma Janey’s house on Christmas break. But during the drive, I would get bored and look out the window. I would imagine a shadow man jumping and running beside the car while we moved. He would jump from light post-to-light post, or treetops. I wanted to wish he was real.” The image of the boy looking out the window as she crossed the bridge came to her mind again. 

    Kyane pushed off. The engine screamed blue flames. The push dented the roofing. She jumped from the roof. Her stomach jumped to her chest, then started to fall just as quickly. Dieous projected their path. It showed them making an impact in front of a green sports car. The engine sucked in more air, then fired another burst of propulsive flames from the engines. Kyane felt a spring back up. She didn’t move forward. She instead waited for the car to pass, then slammed down behind it. She saw the pavement crack to pieces around her. The engines sucked in the air again, and she sprung up past the green sports car and onto the light posts. It took two, or three jumps for her to reach the van. She looked inside and saw the boy look back at her. His eyes grew two sizes. He started tapping the glass and telling everyone to look. Kyane put her index finger to where she thought the mouth on the helmet would be. She then accelerated her jumps past the car and off the bridge, and onto a suburban house as quickly as possible. 

    “Kyane you must slow down,” Dieous instructed. 

    Kyane landed her jump a block away from her house. “What’s the problem, Die?” she asked. 

    Dieous brought up a diagnostic of the engines. They were at a red stoplight, with emoji-style flames coming off the sides. “The boost engines have severely overheated from their extended use to get on and off the bridge.”

    “Yay, another problem!” Kyane said. She looked at the time. The display read 10:13. “For a high-tech machine, weapon thing you have a ton of problems.” 

    “I was not made to be used for such extreme cases as what you put me through, Kyane.” 

    “Ah huh. Can we at least make it home?” she pointed to her house. 

    “Yes,” Dieous said. “The reinforced muscular power the armor provides will allow you to get home at an above reasonable speed. Just do not use the engines at all.”

    “Okay, got it.” Kyane looked at the tree next to her window. It stood as her beacon of hope. She felt joy radiant at the idea of a warm bed to snuggle into after everything. She made it in a handful of leaps. She danced to the lawn in front of the tree, jumped up to a branch, flipped up to the branch by her window and slipped into the black room. “Phew, no problem.”

    A bar ran across the HUD. “Kyane there is a problem.” Before Dieous could say any more the lights in the room snapped on, blinding the sensors. “It appears that two humans are in the room.”

    “I can see that, Die.” 

    “What the hell is wrong with you!” yelled a familiar, paternal voice. “What the hell gave you the bright idea to steal high-tech, classified, battle armor!?” The light died down and Kyane saw her father march over toward her. “I would whip your behind if I could right now. Take the damn suit off!” He ran his finger along the outline of the armor. 

    “Ahh, I really wish I knew how,” Kyane said through the voice modifier. “But there isn’t a de-active Iron Man armor button in here.” 

    Dieous brought up a small tutorial video of a cartoon figure re-aligning the three pieces of tech again, and the armor retracting back into the faces of the objects. “Just do this, Kyane.”

    “Okay,” she said.  Kyane raised her arms up but stopped for a moment. “Hey, Die?”

    “Yes, Kyane?”

    “If I don’t talk to you again, thanks for helping me and my friends out.”

    “No problem Kyane. It is all in my programming.”

    Kyane nodded. She realigned the pieces of technology. Another blue light connected the three blue circles on her waist and wrists. Three portals opened, and the armor pieces began to break apart and suck into the watches, and belt like a black hole sucking a spaceship in a sci-fi show. It was a painless process, Kyane just felt the air around her smack her in the face when the armor left her head. She felt her hair drop in a single motion. She turned and saw her father standing with his arms crossed. He waited patiently for the full suit to return where they came from. Kyane turned the other way and saw her mother sitting silently on the bed watching. When all the armor was gone Hinotomi patted the bed for Kyane to sit beside her. Kyane did. 

    “We need to have a talk,” Hinotomi said in her soft voice.

    “Yeah… we do,” Kyane said with a shake in her voice. “But, before that, my bike kinda got destroyed.”

“Of course!” Damon said.

The Invisible Man is like the Song, Not the Book (a Review)

It feels so long ago when Universal tried to push their own Shared Universe, dubbed “The Dark Universe” with The Mummy staring Tom Cruise. It seemed all those plans were totally and utterly scrapped. It seems that have instead been adjusted.

The Invisible Man, produced by the newest and biggest horror company Blumhouse, stars Elizabeth Moss as Cecilia. After she runs away from her abuse boyfriend she finds out he killed himself, only she still feels his presence. When the impossible starts to happen around her, she begins to suspect he was able to find a way to turn himself invisible in order to completely stalk her and take control of her life in new ways.

Elizabeth Moss is amazing. The whole movie is very, very good. The acting across the board is great, but she is amazing. In the first minutes alone she is able to convey so many emotions on her face that build and build. Her decline into insanity is incredible. She is able to act against nothing so well that it makes it believable her ex-boyfriend is in the room. Her own fear and terror gives the gravity of his presence with only a still shot of an empty door.

In fact the direction as a whole is stellar. The films deliberate and tense pace pervades the movie so deeply that it pulls off making static or slow moving shots of nothing feel weighty. It is not just still moments. There is some action with guards against the invisible man that shows the director Leigh Whannell’s skill in doing a mix of wide panning shots and kinetic movement. The movie also conveys a great sense of subtly when it wants to. The opening alone gives so much information with so little. It is all impressive.

Only, the most impressive element in the whole movie is the use of sound. Sound is often a good way to spook the audience in tense moments, but this movie does it better than many have in a long time. Even the slight click of a light on and off, or the ring of a phone, or creaking of a floorboard can rip the tension up so quickly with so little it’s amazing.

Now, there has been a lot made of the movie’s themes of stalking, feeling trapped, alone, and utterly helpless, and the trauma abuse survivors endure even after the relationship is over. It is a great take for the film to have because of its focus on Cecilia growing and taking control back in her life. I just can’t stop thinking of the other piece of media with the title “Invisible Man.” That being the song released by the band Theory of a Deadman.

Theory of a Deadman is a Canadian rock band, a la Nickleback but both somehow better and worse. There is a song on their first album (maybe the first song on the album too) called the Invisible Man about how he is stalking a woman and he cannot be seen just like the movie.

The big difference is POV. The song clearly is from the stalker’s perspective while the movie is squarely from Cecilia. This switch gives the movie something the three minute song does not, a likable lead (this whole section was just to show my knowledge of early 2000s butt-rock, thanks for noticing. Oh, and the fact it’s not the closing credits song does disappoint me).

The movie is not perfect. There are a lot of nitpicky questions about the titular invisible man’s motives in a scene that don’t work, and the ability to get into places he really should not be able to, or the fact a camera should see him but does not is frustrating, but so minor and made up for with Elizabeth Moss’s acting, and tense direction that is works.

This feels like it could be this year’s Get Out. The perfect sci-fi/horror twist on a basic concept to turn a light on social problems is exactly what makes it work. It is a great piece of horror filmmaking that is tense, moody, and utterly creepy that it makes any space you’re in feel corrupted by something that should not be there.

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