Triassic Invasion – Chapter 1, Period 6 (Period-a-Day)

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Period 6

“I’m going to be late!” Kyane screamed from atop her bike. She peddled down the street to the closest pawn shop she could think of. She checked the time on one of the futuristic blue-faced watches. It was 8:15. She had everything planned out perfectly. However, just before she was going to open the window her mother came in and apologized for how her father had been acting. She gave Kyane a hug, then left. It was a very warm hug, but her mind was made up. Yet, being behind schedule made her miss the final bus. She then had to bike into the city.

Biking into the city was nothing new for Kyane. She had done it many times. There were many available paths because it is such a popular, and healthy activity for the people who lived in the suburbs to do. It just was not a very fast mode of transportation. She could have called a taxi but charging the expense to her emergency credit card would have alerted her parents to the fact she snuck out, and she would be in enough trouble already by selling whatever piece of hardware she had on. 

Kyane squeezed the break bars on her bike. She skidded to a halt in front of the small pawnshop. She got off the bike and walked it to the nearby alleyway. Her eyes tract the neon sign telling everyone it was a pawn shop, but with metal bars on the windows and doors to show that they knew what part of down they did business in. Kyane kicked the break-stand up and laid the bike against the brick wall. She dabbed the sweat off her head and walked up to the door. 

Kyane felt a buzz in her pocket. She took out her phone. She got a message from Desmond asking if she was on her way. Kyane locked her phone, placed it back in her pocket, reached for the door handle to the pawnshop, grabbed it, turned the knob, and then heard the click and felt no give to open the door. “What the hell!” She tried the door again, and again, and again. It wouldn’t budge. She banged on the metal bars. She banged on them again, and again. A dog began to bark. She looked up and saw a light turn on in the apartment above.

Kyane waited for a few moments. The door behind the bars flung open. A large man with a beer gut, and shotgun stood at the door. He was in a cut-off shirt, and plaid pajama bottoms. “What don’t you understand about closed? Closed means closed! Like not open! Leave!”

“Jesus,” Kyane said. “I didn’t think a pawn shop would be closed.” She checked the watch again. She got it in the light of the neon to show it off to the clerk. “I mean its 8. Isn’t it almost prime junkie’s selling stuff they stole to buy drugs hour? That’s like prime business.”

“What did you just say to me?” the clerk asked. He finally actually examined the girl over. “Hey, ain’t it passed your bedtime little girl?”

“Not little,” Kyane said. 

“Don’t matter. You don’t look 18 enough to try and sell to me.” He looked at the watches on her wrists. “Where’d you steal those from anywho?” 

Kyane hid her hands in her pockets. “Nunya,” she said.

“Ah huh, sure.” The clerk gave her a side-eye. “Get your ass outta here and into bed, or I’m calling the cops.” The clerk slammed the door and locked it.

“Dammit!” Kyane said. She kicked the metal bars.  She slumped away from the door and back to her bike. She leaned in front of her bike. She took out her phone and messaged that she would be there soon, but something unexpected came up. Not technically a lie she said to herself. She turned and placed her forehead and hand on the brickwork, then sighed. 

There was a clicking noise, then a strange smell wafted under her nose. A stench of iron? No. Not just iron. A rank of slime, and sewer water mixed with the iron. If she had nose hairs, they would have shriveled up and died like a cartoon. Kyane looked down the alley. She saw a dark figure with amber yellow eyes staring at her. 

“Thank you for making such noise,” the amber-eyed figure said.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) Review

An improvement on this first film, but shoots itself in the foot in the first fifteen minutes. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is what the studio called a soft reboot sequel of the 2009 film. I remember there being some kind of controversy or something with the trailers that were released and the movie itself, but since I didn’t really enjoy the first film way back when, I just never cared to watch the trailers or the movie and just ignored everything about it. This is the first time I have seen it and I went in as blind as could be knowing only that The Rock was in it and he is what they call a franchise saver. Without getting into any details yet, I did have to look up some articles about the one part that I think was the biggest mistake they made, so I will of course address that. Anyways, with all of that, let’s get into the actual review of this sequel/reboot/whatever you call it.

I’m just going to go head first into this and address the elephant of the room being the decision they made to kill Duke (Channing Tatum) in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. In further reading, I understood that they wanted to kill him to give the franchise a fresh start with The Rock as the lead. Fair enough, but anyone in their right mind who saw those first fifteen minutes and watched those two interact would have realized how dumb of a decision it really was.

There excuse was that they wanted a fresh start, their overlook was that Tatum would grow into a better actor and find success in the year before this movie was released and would turn into an actor that people enjoyed watching. They even tried to expand his role a slight bit with reshoots, but ultimately it ended up being the worst decision they could have made. The chemistry that Tatum and the Rock have in their scenes is so genuine and perfect that it’s almost a crime to have not just rewritten the script to have Duke in the whole film.

I don’t understand what their decision was to kill him off anyways. I know they wanted a fresh start, but if you’re going to have him in it then you might as well just leave him in it until maybe the end. There were very few actors that carried over into this sequel, but it’s a crime that Tatum wasn’t in this whole movie and playing of The Rock. I am so upset about that not happening and to make matters worse, Bruce Willis is also underutilized.

Okay, with the elephant in the room addressed, I will go into the rest of the film that is actually not bad at all. The movie is much more grounded than the first film was and feels more like a Mission Impossible movie. It still has its cartoony kind of characters like Cobra Commander and his silly helmet, but it’s a much more grounded film with action that actually feels exciting and bombastic rather than fake and mostly CGI. The action itself looks like what you see in a Fast and Furious movie, so I guess you could say this is a mix between Fast and Furious and Mission Impossible.

Choosing The Rock to lead this franchise and take over the reins from Tatum was also a smart move because he of course is always fun and exciting to watch. It would have only been better if Tatum was still involved to play off of each other, but unfortunately we got Flint instead. Flint I guess Is supposed to play the second lead along with Jaye, but neither one really stands out that much or comes even close to having the same great chemistry Tatum and The Rock had in the beginning. It’s just unfortunate that things turned out the way they did because you could see the potential this movie had early on, but it just never reached that level for the rest of the movie.

The story isn’t too bad and is actually much better than the first movie while also being not that great. It picks up right where the first one left off, but with new actors playing the villains so again it’s a sequel but a reboot which I understand to a point, but I just don’t understand why change everything when the story is still going to be a continuation. I also wonder if this is the first time we’ve ever seen all of the countries in the world launch all of their nukes at each other. I’m sure there’s probably another movie that has done that, but I can’t think of one.

The movie slows down a bit in the middle leading up to the last act with the one highlight being them finding the original “Joe” played by Bruce Willis. He’s on the poster, so I actually assumed that he was going to have a fairly large role, but it’s a bit of a trick since he’s really only in the movie for about ten minutes. Again, it’s unfortunate because he was actually really good and an interesting character that we just don’t get enough of.

This movie expands on what it set up in the first film and elevated it to a more realistic level making it more enjoyable to watch without thinking it to be too cartoony. Overall it is just a better movie that only fails because of bad choices, some that could have been prevented and others were just circumstances of an unpredictable situation. The Rock is a great character to have in this franchise, but would have only continued to make Tatum better if they had took a chance with him one more time. I actually would have liked to see where the next story would have gone despite the issues I had with it.

I can’t say that it’s a great movie or that you should watch it, but it is more enjoyable than the first film. It may be worth a shot just to see how much better this one is, but at the same time I don’t want to get your hopes up. Me asking someone to watch this movie is like asking someone to watch a good Marvel movie, but also tell them that you’re just not going to get a sequel even if you like it. Watch it if you’re interested I guess.

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Triassic Invasion – Chapter 1, Period 5 (Period-a-Day)

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Period 5

Jamie arrived at the crime scene at 7:35. He had left his apartment at 7:15 and knew it was only a fifteen to twenty-minute walk, but he was worried that something would come up that would make him late. He rolled a red, green, yellow, and blue juggling ball around in his hands. It was a calming motion for him. The ball was worn from years of use in juggling acts before he ever got his hands on it. During his father’s college years he worked at the theme park, and during slow times he would take out the balls and practice. Jamie’s hand-eye coordination could never quite get it, but he tried. The rolling motion was the most he could ever do. 

Jamie stared down the alleyway. Highlighter yellow police tape on the buildings between the alleyway created and X, blocking his path. The sun had already set, and the moon was high in the sky. The streetlamps kicked on giving him the best time to look before he needed to turn on his flashlight app on his phone.

 He leaned down and saw the chalk outline of the man, along with cuts into the brickwork, and concrete. Near the entrance to the wall there was a hole with a bloodstain. He moved closer and raised his clear-rimmed glasses to look. A car honked its horn at an immobile car parked at the stoplight. Jamie jumped, looked around behind him. No one was watching him. He walked into the coffee house the bloodstained wall was attached to and took a seat at the outward-facing window bar. 

Jamie dug in his pocket and took out his phone. He went online and began surfing the web to see how sharp something had to be to pierce both concrete, and brick. From his cursory searches he found out that most cuts into those objects required at minimum a piercing tool, and a hammer or something to put more force than what a normal human could do into it. A machine would make it easy. 

What did not make it easy was the fact that the marks on the ground were marks that appeared to be scratches. Getting a hole in a brick with a single machine is easy. Getting cut marks in concrete with a similar machine is not. Most blades were not strong enough, majorly expensive, or completely fictional. There was a tap on the glass. Jamie jumped and looked up to see Desmond in a TCHS letter jacket. He waved his hand for Jamie to meet him outside. He then raised a finger up to stop him. Desmond cocked an eyebrow in the air. Waved his hand to tell Jamie to disregard his previous statement, then entered the café. “How’s it hanging J-man?” he said. He took the seat next to Jamie. 

“Good I ah… I ahh guess,” Jamie said. “I looked at the crime scene before you got here and have been doing some research as to what could have caused the ah… the ahh strange holes and cuts.” Jamie held up his phone. 

Desmond took the phone and started scrolling through the websites Jamie had up. “Cool, cool. Have you heard from K-girl?”

“Who?” Jamie asked. 

“Kai-Annie? Kay-Anna? Kay-on-ey?”

“Kyane. No not yet,” Jamie said. “It’s getting close to the meetup time.” He took out the juggling ball and began to roll it between his palms. “I’m ahh, I’m kind of surprised you were here on time. You have friends and stuff.”

Desmond shrugged. “Eh, it’s all cool. Besides Harry most of those guys on the team aren’t even like that cool, and practice is kinda boring now anyway. Doing this is actually, like, exciting and stuff.”

Jamie looked at Desmond but didn’t seem to hear him. His mind drifted off. “I mean if she’s late that means she was kidnapped and attacked like that couple. Then we would get in trouble. I would get in trouble. I don’t handle trouble well. What would happen?”

“Chill dude,” Desmond said. He held the phone out. “Kyane is always late to class. She must have every clock in her house set ten minutes behind or something.” Jamie moved the ball to his left hand and accepted the phone back. “Just chill out.” Desmond held his hand up. “Do you want me to get you a coffee or something?” Desmond pointed his thumb to the front register. “I’ve been majorly craving one of those frozen drink things.”

“Frappuccino,” Jamie said.

“Yeah that. I’ll get you one too.” Desmond jumped down from the stool. “I’ll get Kyane one too-too. Haha, tutu. I’m sure she’ll need it.”

“It could melt if she’s late.”

Desmond walked toward the female barista with brunette hair in a bun. “She won’t be late.”

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge is The Game (a Review)

Mortal Kombat as a series to adapt should be the easiest thing in the world. Take outlandish characters, put them in a tournament, make them fight, add gallons of red corn syrup, and a character to follow. Yet, there have only been a handful of adaptions of questionable quality to hold up as an example. This film, looking to capitalize on series like Castlevania looks to correct that.

After Hartori Hanzo’s village and family is killed by the icy Sub-Zero he is brought back as Scorpion to fight for the devious Netherworld in hopes of getting his family back. To do so he must compete in Mortal Kombat, a death game for the right to rule earth and the netherworld. Scorpion is joined by karate master, Liu Kang, army brat, Sonya Blade, and pompous ex-action star Johnny Cage to fight for their lives or die trying.

If you like Mortal Kombat the games, you’ll like the movie. It is really as simple as that. It has all the blood, violence, swearing, and action a fan of the games would want.

The fights are all suitably kinetic, and frenetic. The production crew went all the way with trying to adapt the video game finishers to screen in all their x-ray vision, bone snapping glory. Not all the gore effects look great, but get the job done.

The voice acting is also on point. Getting perfect casting like Joel McHale as Johnny Cage, and Jennifer Carpenter as Sonya Blade is almost too perfect. Add Steve Blum as Sub-Zero, and Patrick Seitz as the titular Scorpion they all perfectly reflect those characters and should be the main voice actors if they’re not already.

Unfortunately it is not all perfect. The main issue the film has is pacing and focus. For a movie about Scorpion it spends lots of time of Liu Kang and his group. That’s used to help progress the story of course and flesh out the tournament, but also makes Scorpion feel lost in his own movie. The reveal of what is really going on with Scorpion is also obvious. They make up for that by having a great final fight, and tease for more possible stories to come.

The inherent problem fighting game movies end up having is the inability to escape giving fans certain characters they want to see. The Street Fighter II anime movie is great, but suffers the same problem as this movie. There are so many fan favorite characters that juggling them is difficult. This does the best so far by giving them a journey to parallel Scorpion’s own, but still puts the movie in some chains.

However, none of that matters. It’s got the action, blood, and snapping bones. That’s all you need to finish it!

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G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) Review

A little too fantastical for my taste, but full of potential. Watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies led me to watching the first of the two G.I. Joe movies. The first one, this one, is the only one I have ever seen and it was released in 2009. That was the first and last time I ever watched it until now. The only thing I remembered about it now was that Channing Tatum was the lead and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the villain that I actually didn’t know until several years later. I was much younger at the time that I first watched it and I think I enjoyed it back then but I really can’t remember. You could almost say that I was going in completely blind since it had been so long. I can’t say that I had any big expectations, but from what I’ve heard over the years, the bar was set pretty low.

First things first. This was back when Channing Tatum hadn’t quite found his footing yet for being the kind of actor we know him as now. I actually really like him and several of his films that he’s been in and he has shown that he is a very capable and skilled actor. However, this movie was at a time when he was just not great and it shows. He does alright with the little bit of script that he has available, but he isn’t quite ready for his own franchise yet. I wonder if their intention was to give him a franchise with G.I. Joe, but he also wasn’t established yet so I’m not sure.

As I said, the only other actor I really knew about other than Tatum is Gordon-Levitt who plays the main villain. It sucks that we don’t actually get to see his face except for two or three scenes because he’s a very good actor. The problem with him in this movie is that he is just your typical mustache twirling villain that seems more robotic than anything else. His motivations also don’t make much sense, but that really brings me to the fact that a lot of things don’t make sense in this movie.

All of the side characters are okay at best with nobody actually standing out except maybe Marlon Wayans who seems to be the only person that is the least qualified to actually be on the team. It’s never really explained why he’s on the team other than being Duke’s buddy, so I guess as long as you know someone you’re good. I mean I guess things like this are just nitpicks, but they all added up by the time I got to the end so I suppose they stuck out more by the end than I actually expected them to.

I know that this movie is based off of the action figures by the same name so there really isn’t much source material to go off of, but they seemed to be a bit lazy with their writing, most notably with some of the names. We have Stormshadow and SnakeEyes for example who are just named that because reasons. We never get any kind of explanation and it seems like everyone calls them by their names with a hint of sarcasm. It could have just been how I interpreted it. Even the villain names came out of nowhere with no real purpose or explanation except that you would know it if you know the action figures I guess? I’m not really sure, I just didn’t understand the references.

The action wasn’t terrible with a lot of the boots on the ground stuff being quite appealing and still holds up today. The highlights would be anytime Snake Eyes is fighting or during the Paris scene when Duke and Ripcord have those Exo suits on. Despite the complete lack of care for civilians, the scene was actually a lot of fun and enjoyable. Snake Eyes in all of his scenes gives us just that fun hand to hand action, especially in his last fight against Stormshadow. All of the bigger scenes that involved more jets or submarines or just the whole big underwater end battle seemed a bit dated and didn’t look quite as good as I was hoping.

Surprisingly though Stormshadow and Snake Eyes’ backstory was more interesting than anything else in this movie. That brings me to the actual story going on in this movie. The villain plan with the nanomites being stolen and then retrieved by the guy that sold them is all bland and typical, but I look past that to see what we actually get with character development. There is development but this movie just lacks any kind of real depth. I know that the focus may be towards a younger audience, but at times it feels way too childish for the skin it has on.

The motivations and plot points for everything going on are so simple and basic that they really don’t hold up at all. It’s a problem that really holds this movie back because they have potential with the source material. I say source material, but I mean more with what they had setup rather than what they actually executed on. It was all still enjoyable on a surface level, but it was more basic than your typical kind of basic action movie. It’s just incredibly forgettable and didn’t age very well because of their bland story choices and occasional shoddy CGI.

This movie doesn’t hold up, but it has so much potential with everything they set up. This could have been a mega hit with Channing Tatum except that they were a few years too early with him. They needed to focus more on making it a somewhat more grounded kind of movie rather than one that seems like it’s more fantastical. It actually feels more like someone made a movie of them playing with the toys in their room. I know it might work for some things, but this movie really would have served better being a more grounded action war movie, but it chooses to be more childish and cartoony. It just doesn’t work with the kind of movie it is.

I guess if you like G.I.Joe then you should go ahead and give this movie a shot, but at the same time I don’t think anyone will really want to waste their time watching it. I’ve heard better things about the sequel, especially since it’s considered a soft reboot, so maybe that would be a better movie to watch, but we’ll see when I review it. See this movie if you’re interested, otherwise just skip it entirely.

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Triassic Invasion – Chapter 1, Period 4 (Period-a-Day)

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Period 4 

    Kyane returned home at 4:35 every day. Most days when she came home were quiet. She would come home, go to her room, maybe do homework, but would probably procrastinate in every way to avoid doing it. Her parents would get home around 6. She would begrudgingly go down to eat whatever “authentic” meal her mother would make, then go to bed. The only change to this was Friday nights. On Friday she would sit downstairs with her parents and watch whatever movie they picked out from the millions scrolled by on Netflix, and eat a large pepperoni, and half ham pizza. The half ham was for her dad. He needed his pork to complete the meal. Kyane only really enjoyed this meal because she enjoyed pizza. The greasy meat, gooey cheese, and warm aroma filled her memories with happier times that she could not place anywhere in her memory. But those times were there.

    Today was different. Kyane screeched to a halt when she saw a large black van parked in her driveway. It had government-issued plates, with a logo of SkyRise Industries, the lab her parents work, in large blue letters on both sides. The back of the van was open. Her dad carried out a large black briefcase with the initials D13 in silver on the top. “Damn,” Kyane said under her breath. 

    Her dad turned to see her. “Good, your home.” He motioned to the back of the van. She saw stacks of cardboard boxes. Some of the boxes had electronics, rolls of blueprints sticking out. “Help unload this. Make sure it goes into the living room.” Her dad walked up the driveway. 

    “Does this mean you forgot about this morning,” she said to herself. 

    “Nope. You still have stuff to answer for. You’re also majorly grounded.”

    Kyane’s eyes widened, shocked her dad even heard her. She leaned forward, placing her forearms on the handlebars, and sighed. She sat up and peddled her bike into the garage. She heaved two cardboard boxes onto a hand-truck and rolled them into the living room, unpacking them with the rest of the boxes. She wiped sweat from her forehead and aired out her shirt. “Kyane, come in here,” her mom said. 

    Kyane entered the kitchen. Damon and Hinotomi sat on opposite sides of the table with a single chair in between them, and the rock. That damn rock from this morning was on a paper towel in front of the middle chair. “Take a seat,” Damon said. He pointed to the empty chair. 

    Kyane pulled the chair out and sat down. She leaned back. “So, what is with all the boxes?” She stretched her arms out. “They really gave me a workout.”

    “Do you know where this rock came from?” Damon asked. He tapped the rock. 

    “A yard I guess,” Kyane said. “But what does this have to do with the fact you’re basically unloading a whole off-site lab into our house?”

    “Stop deflecting, Kyane!” Damon said.

    Kyane sighed. “Okay. So, why is there a rock from a yard on the table?”

    “Kyane, please stop,” Hinotomi said. Her voice was even-toned “We are trying to help you. But you must be honest with us.”

    “I don’t need help,” Kyane said in her best faux-confused voice she could create. 

    “You sure?” Damon asked. He pushed himself up. The chair tumbled to the ground. He marched over to Kyane and grabbed the rock. “Why was this rock thrown into our neighbor’s house?”

    Kyane examined the rock, looked up at her father, then back down at the rock. She tried to hide her fear, glee, and sadness behind a cold glare. It didn’t work. “They’re old sticks in the behinds! They think a squirrel gave them mail one time.”

    “So, you’re lying to me. Fine.” Damon placed the rock back onto the napkin. “You’re not going anywhere out of this house, except school. You’ll also lose every bit of fun around this house.”

    Kyane felt her blood rush to her feet, and the room began to spin. “What? Why? Plus, I have to go out tonight. Mr. Ayer is giving me extra credit for an assignment to boost my grade up. I have to do that.”

    “No,” Damon said. He walked back over to the chair, reset it, and sat down. 

    Kyane jerked toward her mother. “Mom, please, come on. I need this.”

    Hinotomi placed her thumb and index finger to chin and closed her eyes. “Fine. You can go as long as you come up with the $1,500 to fix what you broke of theirs.”

    “What!?” Kyane said. She jumped up. “That’s total bull-“

    “Language!” Damon yelled. “That is more than fair. You can sell some of the stuff you have in your room you don’t use. I think those pony toys you used to play with are really hot right now.”

    “I’m not selling my ponies!” Kyane yelled. Her face boiled. She whipped around. “Screw it, I’m going to my room.” She marched away from the table. 

    Damon laid his face into his hands and let out a long sigh. Hinotomi stood up and walked over to her husband. Damon sat up. “I… I just…” He trailed off.

    Hinotomi wrapped her arms around him in a hug. “It will be okay. Every child goes through this.”

    “I just didn’t think this would be so bad.” Damon closed his eyes and saw his little girl dressed as a pink Power Ranger during Halloween. She screamed and cried when a puppet skeleton jumped up from its plastic headstone when they passed by to trick-or-treat. 

    “She’ll get back there. We must just give her time and guidance.”

Kyane passed by the towers of cardboard boxes in the living room on the way to her room.  An idea crossed her mind when she looked over and saw the boxes full of unused lab equipment, and outdated computer parts. Her parents wanted her to sell her stuff, even though she did nothing wrong. It was her parents’ fault they moved next to such stuck-up old douchebags. They should pay for the damage they really caused. Her heart raced. She looked at the kitchen, checking to see if her mom or dad was coming. 

She began opening the boxes. She knew it was outdated computers, and unused lab equipment by the dust, and yellow wear. She had to fan her face to get rid of the dust. She felt a tickle in her nose. A sneeze would give her up faster than anything else. She buried her face in her elbow and let out an ah choo! She flipped her head up and moved her hair out of her face. The hair passed by her peripheral vision and she saw it. She saw the black briefcase with shiny silver letters on top. The sleek, modern, and clean box looked much newer than anything else in the room, maybe even their house. Whatever was in it had to be worth some money. 

She walked over to the briefcase. It sat alone on the couch seat. She grabbed the handle and picked it up. Her arm felt like it was about to give out from the weight. It was easily forty, forty-five pounds. She placed it back onto the couch. She flicked the locks open. The lid opened with a mechanical lift. She looked inside. There were two pieces of technology snug into black foam inside. The main piece in the center was a black, metal belt with a blue circle in the middle. Above the belt sat two matching watches. They were made of the same black metal, and both had blue watch-faces. The metal alone could be smelted for major cash. 

Kyane closed the lid. She attempted to pick it up again. She walked two steps. Her arms began to wobble. She couldn’t do it. There was no way she could carry the case into the city. She placed the briefcase back onto the couch. She heard steps and chatter coming from the kitchen. Kyane came up with a quick plan. She opened the lid again. She quickly snatched the belt and two watches. The black foam lifted to reveal an unnaturally tan book. A tan that came from decades of work. She saw the name, Alphonse. She snapped the watches onto her wrists, a watch per wrist. She heard her parents’ voices coming closer. She buckled the belt across the waistband of her leggings. She stuffed the foam back into the briefcase, then sprinted up the steps and into her room. She could feel her heart beating in her throat. 

Kyane sat on her bed, laid back, and tried to calm herself. She had to wait until 7 before she could sneak out. Dinner was before that, so she had to hide the watches and belt. She sat up and examined her room. The clothing, and dirty sheets were strewn around the room gave her ample area to hide the stuff. She undid the watches and hid them in two stacks of clothing. She then undid the belt and hung it among the curtain of belts she owned. She looked out of her window and saw the large tree she used for multiple earlier escapes. Her dad never got around to cutting the tree down, but constantly threatened too. She sat back on her bed, reached for her laptop and began surfing the web, and began blaring Icon for Hire from her small laptop speakers. 

Damon knocked on the door at 5:45. “Kyane, I’m coming in.” He opened the door. 

Kyane tapped the spacebar on her laptop, pausing her music. “What do you want?” 

Damon walked over to her bed and sat down next to her. “I’m sorry for blowing up at you downstairs. But lying isn’t helping your case.” Kyane’s face did not change. “Come downstairs. Eat, and we can continue to talk about it.” 

“Do I have to sell my ponies?” Kyane asked. She looked at her overflowing closet. Beneath the dresses, shoes, pants, and shirts sat a pink box full of her toys she played with when she was younger. 

He laughed. “Only if you lie to me?” Damon said. 

“Lying about what?” Kyane asked back. “I did nothing wrong.” 

The red came back to Damon’s face. “Hell, yes you are!” He grabbed the laptop, closed it, and stood up. “Get your ass down to dinner. We’ll see if you get this back!” He waved the laptop in her face. “Keep lying and see if that helps!” He stomped out of the room. 

Kyane sat silent during dinner. She ate her food and stared into an imaginary hole in the wall. Her eyes never moved from that location. After dinner her parents made her wash the dishes as a punishment. Afterward, she told her parents she would go fix her bike’s pedal chain. She said something about it clicking every time she peddled. She just set her bike outside of the garage, behind some shrubbery. She dusted herself off, trying to remove any spare leaves so her parents couldn’t put together her plan. Once she finished, she marched up to her room and prepared for her escape.

Pet Sematary is WEIRD

This might seem odd, but Pet Sematary is a weird book to adapt.

Now, that might not seem too obvious a concept since it has so throughly penetrated the public consciousness as a horror classic, but upon reading the classic novel it is not like that at all.

The original novel written in 1983/84, is, to be generous, deliberately paced. It is a novel shy of 400 pages that spends very little of its time on any actual horror. The novel spends most of the time with the Creed family, and the patriarch/protagonist Louis Creed himself. The novel also acts more like a meditation on death than a scary zombie book. To have that make sense the plot in most basic terms is: Creed family moves in and learns about the cemetery. They visit the cemetery, then one of Louis’s patients die and he learns about the barrier created by dead fall. Months later, when Louis’s family is away, the cat is killed so they resurrect it. The family thinks he’s a little off, but then months pass and then the son dies. Louis decides to bring him back and 50 pages later the book is over.

The novel spends lots of time on the details of the world. Backstories are given either through chapter long monologues, or as just information through the text with plenty of real world details to make the story feel plausible and character driven. The only problem is that it does lend itself real well to horrors abound. It is more tense, but even then that’s a stretch. If anything the novel is more of a Twilight Zone episodes made into a novel.

The 1989 movie adaption on the other hand is a faithful yet schlocky version of the story. Written by Stephen King himself, and directed by Mary Lambert the first movie adaption is basically the book with minor adaptational changes. It has the same general plot and story structure, but condensed, making it paradoxically better and worse than the novel.

Some of the condensing means cutting characters like the other nurses and doctors Louis works with at the college clinic. They did not add anything to the narrative other than realism and provide an extra viewpoint at the end of the novel. Connected to that is cuts Jud’s wife, whose only roll was to die and gave it to a character only mentioned by name, but never introduced to, Missy Dandridge. It also cuts a lot of the exposition that takes pages and pages of a chapter down to a couple lines and puts it on screen.

It overall just cleans some of the story up.

However some of that condensing does lead to problems. Major one being pacing. An example to best illustrate is the death of Steve Pascow. In the book it comes at the end of introducing the clinic characters as a big jumpstart. The movie does something similar by just cutting to Pascow dying. Only it has now weight to it. He’s brought in, fives exposition, then dies. Though the plot points are the same the rushed nature of it gives the event no significance. This holds true for Gage’s funeral. The book spends chapters on getting it organized and the tension between Louis and Rachel’s father while here it just jumps to the funeral and Louis being accosted by Mr Goldman. This continues to Gage eventually being dug up. It takes a chapter or two to break into the cemetery, dig him up, and leave, while it’s just a simple fence hop. Those moments take out the grit, determination, and effort that makes those moments impactful.

Even though it is faithful, there are still some really strange changes that are made to make the story more cinematic, but also less interesting. The biggest of these is that when animals come back, they are more dumb than angry. This goes for the only person brought back before the film. In the book he too was dumb, and could reveal deep, mean secrets to people. A horror that goes deeper than being a zombie. The movie makes the first revived human just a zombie, and Gage be a cliche creepy kid over a demonic entity inside him.

To repeat, those changes do not harm the film at all. They work just fine to get across how dangerous using the cemetery is, but raises questions. The biggest of which is a conflicting topic. The animals coming back dumb makes Jud and Louis feel more comfortable to use it, but takes away the scare factor; while in the movie has it make less sense since they can see how dangerous the things brought back to life are. The book sort of has an explanation, but either way there is some combination that would make it work out that’s not nailed down.

With all that said it is hard, again, not to mention just how B-horror the film is. The acting from everyone is not great. I mean when you can make Stephen King feel like he fits in with the cast normally there is a problem, and it goes for very creepy but silly looks. A ghost with just half his skull open, and being sassy is ridiculous, and, the fact they kept the killer toddler in as the main threat at the end is admirable, even as it ends up looking like Chucky. This schlock does harm the ending by making it far more explicit than the unsettling “Oh Henry” of the novel.

The 2019 remake by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, and written by Jeff Buhler with story by Matt Greenberg is a full on adaptation. The movie makes massive (I mean the story isn’t big so all changes are kind of small, but in context) changes to the structure and plot events of the story. Maybe it’s because of, or perhaps in spite of it also makes it the best version of this story (until the end). It is also the one with clearly the most scenes removed. There are flashbacks that are clearly scenes we were supposed to have seen but never got until the flashback, on top of that Norma, Jud’s wife, is referenced once, and then brought back at the end with an accusation that feels like something we should have learned and did not (there is no accusation in the book, she just dies of a heart attack).

Out of the numerous changes made the two most substantial (again, aside from the end) all focus around Rachel, Louis’s wife. Rachel, in the books, has no real character to her outside of hating death, nagging, and having sex with Louis. This movie positions her as a second protagonist that works with Louis to help solve the problems and totally shake up the climax of the movie. This works (until the climax) of making Louis and Rachel feel like an actual parental unit, and makes Louis far more likable a guy than in the book where he was just kind of a jerk, yet no one seemed to notice. Either way it is a strong improvement.

The other side of that improvement is that aside from now being more apart of the main plot with burying Church she needs her own plot so they push the grief of her dead sister far harder than in the book or other film. This gives the story more of a haunted house feel since Rachel is now seeing things that aren’t there. That kind of defeats the purpose of possessed animals. Basically it’s doing too much, but in the end it works.

There are many other changes, but they seem crafted around making Pet Sematary fit the current popular horror model of doing research, and jump scares, and being very self serious. Normally these are problems, but that makes the movie feel more like what I imagine the tone for the book was supposed to be, instead of the far more accurate 1989 version.

All of this, however, has been dancing around the biggest departure this film makes. Instead of Gage, the baby, dying from a truck it is instead older sister Ellie (it’s odd that every version makes Ellie short for a different name) who is killed. The accident is utterly ridiculous, but did jolt me awake. From there Louis bringing her back does occur, but instead the movie keeps going after that. From their Ellie seems far more motivated by something other than pure evil. It makes her killing Jud and her own mother far more interesting. Unfortunately she wants a family and so the movie ends with Ellie and Rachel killing Louis and turning him as well before finally turning on the secure Gage.

This ending feels like it totally missed the point of the story. Pet Sematary is a cautionary tale. This movie is kind of that, but had the same issues the 1989 one had when it comes to reasoning out why someone would use the cemetery if it makes whatever comes back angry. Furthermore it now compounds and adds questions since if a human comes back they seem fairly normal, just far more murder-y. It gives the resurrected a drive that breaks the story since that was not what was being thematically built up to. It does get away with it a little since Jud doesn’t say if anyone was brought back before, but it’s still odd.

Something else that’s odd is how even 30 years later they can’t make small children attacking adults look scary. The 89 version looks like a Chucky doll while the 2019 version looks like Ellie is playing around on someone’s back over killing them. It does not make them threatening either, just silly. It did make me laugh audibly when Zombie Ellie tried to through a temper tantrum while being restrained. just ridiculous.

In the end it does not feel like any of the versions, book or movies, feel exactly right. The book is slow and filled with exposition. The 89 movie is faster paced but a tonal mess, and the 2019 version botches the ending by trying and twist it like it did everything else. It is all just weird. So very, very weird (but I can’t believe the 2019 version actually mentioned the Wendigo. I thought I would get to bring that up as some big twist only the books had. I imagine Stephen King left it out the screenplay to keep that a treat for the just the book readers).

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Pet Sematary (2019) Review

I guess if you already did then you might as well go for it with something new. The 2019 Pet Sematary remake was a movie I wasn’t looking forward too much after not enjoying the first film all that much, but I had my fingers crossed it would be a little better. I remember there being a bit of hype leading up to the movie, but I don’t remember to what extent. I know that we were coming off the heels of IT which seemed to revitalize Stephen King properties and their potential, but it could have also been the casting of Jason Clarke in the lead and John Lithgow as Judd. I don’t think I ever watched the trailers because at the time I had no real interest in it, so going into this movie I only had the first one as a sort of base of what to expect. As I said in that first review, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Let’s see if that was the same this time around.

Jason Clarke as Louis and John Lithgow as Judd immediately elevates the remake from the first one since one of my big issues with the original was that the acting just wasn’t great. Keep in mind though, this isn’t a movie that is going to highlight the acting abilities of either of these actors, but it does help to have two guys that are capable of doing a lot with a little. Jason Clarke is also a lot more emotional throughout the film and we can really connect with his loss more than the actor that played the role in the first film.

The biggest thing though that struck me about this movie was the subversion of expectations. From the opening shot we actually see the end of the film but with no characters and I for one immediately said, “well I know how we get to this point”. The funny thing is that I was way off base and wasn’t expecting the movie to deviate from the original as much as it did. I say that like it’s a different story which it’s not entirely, but it is very much different in the last third than the first one and I assume the book.

That brings me to my statement of, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This is a statement I say regarding these movies, but is also a statement that is striking to a character like Louis who should be told this before reviving anyone. In the first film it was more of a “just because you can make an adaptation, doesn’t mean you actually should because does it actually work as a movie?” Well the original when I think back on it, I may have given a little less credit than it actually deserves, but it could also be that the writing and directing in this one is just better so it highlights moments in the original that I didn’t think much of.

One of the important problems I had with the first film was the lack of explanation for some of the paranormal stuff going on. I understand that some things don’t need answers, but this movie still does the same thing of not quite explaining what’s going on. I didn’t have as much of a problem with the dead guy showing up so that Gage can see him and influence some of the characters, but again I just wish it was understood more of what exactly was happening.

The other event that really irked me was how Louis kept going to the basement and was practically teleporting somewhere, but I guess he wasn’t because he was actually asleep, but I guess he was because his feet were dirty. I just never understood the point in it or what message they were trying to get across with it. This remake did however highlight and elevate Rachel and her sister. That was something that just seemed to be placed there in the first film for the sake of something creepy and it feels somewhat the same in this movie except it’s more involved I suppose. I just think it worked a lot better in this one so I had a better experience with it in the story.

I guess the best thing about this movie is that it takes the story and twists it to give you a different result than what you had in the original. I’m not entirely a huge fan of the story, but that goes for both movies. The motivations of Louis in both movies seems to not be explained that well other than the fact that he just wants to bring someone or something back. Anyone in their right mind would decide against trying to bring something back, especially a person. Now in the book it may make more sense than it does in the movie, but it’s just an issue I have because the motivations just aren’t there to work for me.

Ultimately, this movie is an improvement on the original, but more for the fact that it’s a few decades newer so the effects are better and they got a better cast and crew to work on it. The change up for where the story eventually goes was a nice switch from what we got in the original, but it’s not enough to save this movie. In an era where we are getting quality horror films every year and more of them rather than your typical kind of throwaway horror film, this movie felt like it could stand out from the rest. Unfortunately it just doesn’t and falls more in the category of being made just to get the Stephen King fans that jumped on board with “IT”.

I think the studio would have been better off leaving this one behind and understanding that the story while interesting, just doesn’t warrant a sequel when there’s not enough depth to either of the films for us to really need another one. I will say that this is for sure the better of the two, but by no means is it a standout movie. Unless you have some urge to seek out this movie and watch it, I would just skip it and forget about it. The original has the advantage of being a classic kind of horror film from an era where it might work better, but for the new one, it’s just not worth the time.

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Triassic Invasion – Chapter 1, Period 3 (Period-a-Day)

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Period 3

The rest of Kyane’s school day consisted of Mrs. Janet Barr’s Geometry class, Mrs. Karen Davis’s World History, and ended the day Mr. Max Mindel’s English II. She was near the door in every class, and mostly stayed to herself. She had lunch between World History and English. During lunch she met up with Desmond and Jamie. They exchanged phone numbers and scheduled when they would meet in the alley.

    “Don’t you think we should get parent permission before we go on this school-sponsored field trip?” Jamie asked. 

    “Are you 10?” Kyane responded. She drummed her knuckles on the cafeteria table. 

    “No,” Jamie said in a trailing voice. He spun his phone in his hand. 

    Desmond glared at Kyane. “You don’t have to be such a jerk,” he said. 

    “You’re right,” Kyane said. She leaned forward, rested her hand on Jamie’s and said, “I’m sorry you’re not ten.” She wanted to say he looked,but held her tongue. “But you’ll be safe with the tank here.” She looked at Desmond. “I’ll also be there. You don’t have anything to worry about.”

    Desmond smiled. He pointed to Kyane. “Yeah, what she said!” He said. “Nobody’s gonna mess with me… or you.” He wrapped his arm around Jamie. A group of baseball players headed toward the exit of the cafeteria. They called out to Desmond. “I gotta go!” he said. “I’ll see y’all tonight!” He jumped out of his plastic stool and ran toward the door. 

    Jamie and Kyane sat in an uncomfortable silence save for Kyane’s beats on the table. Kyane examined his face. His mouth was twitching, trying to say something. The words were at the seams of his mouth trying to break free but couldn’t. The bell rang. Kyane grabbed her messenger bag, slung it over her shoulder, then stood up. “I’ll talk to you later Jamie,” she said. 

“Okay,” he said in a voice that made it clear he was trying to say something, just not that.

Hot 100 Review: THE SCOTTS by Travis Scott & Kid Cutti

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Travis Scott and Kid Cudi are two fairly popular rappers. Travis Scott does not feel nearly as tied down to formula and convention as Cudi does. Also both of their names are Scott. Hence the song/their new band name.

It is fairly common for musicians to name albums after their own name, but songs not so much. But THE SCOTTS is a different breed. The song THE SCOTTS is less an actual song and more just a tech demo for what these two artists with the same name can do tougher. To that end it is at least an interesting experiment.

THE SCOTTS as a song has a great atmosphere, beat, and hook. The whole tone feels like a techno whirlpool. It gives a strong impression with no way to really mistake these beats for anything else.

The lyrics on the other hand… well, Genius says that Travis Scott pioneered psychedelic rap, and that really is what it feels like. There are two verses. One by Scott and the other by Scott (lol, Kid Cudi) that don’t really have any substance other than just to hype them up, make them sound cool, and show off their possible flow and chemistry as a duo. In that respect it works.

Neither verse really works as a whole, or played off each other really. There is some overlap and setup/pay off, but the lyrical stand out are individual lines. Some are legitimately good. Others make no sense, but sound like they match, and many sound like filler.

Even with that though the lyrics don’t really seem to matter. As a bias of myself I hyper focus on lyrics to make sense of the song, only, this song is not that. The lyrics are all generic gangster/brag rap that are fine. Their main purpose however is to give off an impression or vibe. With that in mind they work. It gives off a very strong impression of being cool and together without getting into specifics with what that means.

The video was part of a Fortnite event and has a man flying through space as strange astrological events occur. Like giant versions of the singer appear on the battle ground, or a giant planet that explodes. It all just supports the idea of this song being a tech demo and give impression. The music matches the visuals well, and gives off that uncomfortable, stranded in space vibe, but does not have a lot of substance other than that.

It’s hard to say if the song is actually good. As an experiment it is a success. I would be open to more music by THE SCOTTS. That impression it gives off is strong, but could actually use lyrics to help better make that impression cohesive.

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