Pet Sematary (1989) Review

Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. Pet Semetary is a movie that I grew up hearing my parents talk about how scary it was when it came out. It was always a lot like Poltergeist in their eyes and while I do remember watching Poltergeist as a kid, I can’t recall watching Pet Semetary. The one thing I did know growing up was that Stephen King was a bit of a twisted individual but very much a gifted writer. This story is a somewhat simple and predictable tale, but one that I know could be executed in a way that makes it a really great movie. That’s what I thought going into it, but after watching it I soon realized something, just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.

It could just be this adaptation of the book since I haven’t yet watched the new remake, but this movie seems to show the flaws that King does have when writing. I understand he write the screenplay as well, so there’s no blaming the writing on another person. I can’t say that this isn’t a good story in a book format because I actually think this story is good if I were reading it, but I think it tends to not work as well in movie format. I will go ahead and explain what I mean by that.

So the movie is pretty simple as I said before and incredibly predictable which is fine as long as it can pull off the execution. We have a family moving into a new house which leads to the discovery of the Pet Semetary which leads to their cat being killed only to be revived by Louis and then eventually his son being killed and of course he revives him. Sorry for the spoilers on this movie from a few decades ago, but it seems pretty easy to put two and two together to come up with this even if you just read the premise.

So the plot is all well and good, but that’s the extent of where this movie goes. The only backbone it has to support it as being watchable is the last thirty minutes when everything starts to come together and the real horror begins. That’s the problem though, it takes too long to set up everything without any kind of midway threats or exciting moments to get the blood going before we get to the main event.

King is a horror writer and this movie is considered to be in the horror genre, but that only really becomes true in the final act of the film. I guess it could be me being desensitized by not being scared by much anymore, but all of the ghostly appearances or paranormal like scenes are good I guess, but it doesn’t do its job. Those scenes specifically are made to add to the level of terror and the impending doom that we finally reach at the end, but they really are just there for the sake of being there. Is the family being haunted because of Louis’ connection to the Semetary? I mean that’s fine except that it really isn’t explained all that well unless I just missed it.

On top of that, there are some visuals that don’t make much sense like when Louis goes into the house at the very end and it looks like the house is all rotted and covered in moss. These are connected to like paranormal visions of some kind, but why is he seeing that and why can their daughter have dreams of everything that’s about to happen? There are just too many questions that are left unanswered that could have been explored more to give us more depth to the story and characters.

All of this comes to a peak though when you’re struggling to make the best out of this movie, but even the actors can’t help you. I don’t know if this movie was just considered a risky project so they didn’t want to spend that much money on getting some acting talent, but these performances are just not good. Our main character Louis should at least be someone that can hold his own, but he seemed silly and unbelievable anytime he opened his mouth. And to bounce this back to the writing and I would say the directing, how would you be so oblivious to your surroundings to allow your young child to get that close to the road?

Okay, maybe I’m starting to think too realistic about this and not giving it a little bit of leeway for being a movie, but still, this movie has a lot of problems. On the flipside though, the last thirty minutes is actually really good considering it was made a few decades ago. Of course the practical effects can look a little wonky and laughable at times, but it’s the real horror that kicks in at this point and gives me what I was hoping for the whole film. We see that Louis has descended into complete madness of course by bringing back his son, only to elevate his madness when he tries to bring back his wife.

His character is most interesting in these last thirty minutes because of this descent. The only downside to the ending though is that while we do get some interesting shot of this young boy murdering two people that makes me think of Chucky. It does seem that they could have shown a bit more for us to actually enjoy the gore and horror. I was impressed by the young boy though who had to play a sadistic killer in the vein of chucky except that he was actually a real boy so props to him.

In the end, I’m left with a simple question that I started this review with. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, right? This story might be loved in book format, but just because it is a King novel, does it really warrant an adaptation. Let alone a remake? I haven’t watched the remake so maybe it does a better job and I’ll have more to say when I review it, but as of right now I just feel like this is a movie that just let me down and shows the unevenness that King can sometimes have in his writing. I just wish it was more of a horror film rather than just thirty minutes of horror. I would say for now just go ahead and skip this movie unless you are like my parents who think it’s scary even though they probably haven’t watched it since it first came out. Wait for my review of the remake to see whether either of these is worth watching.

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

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Period 2

Kyane exited her house and saw her usual view of Tower City from across the road and river. It was a city on an island. It had a single bridge used for entering and leaving. Construction began for a second set of bridges, but problems with the contractors, and tax cuts forced the project to go on hiatus.  Outside the city were high-end suburbs for families. That’s where she lived. The bulk of them were built in the 1980s during the gang, and drug crises in the United States. The few wealthy people who stayed crafted high-end apartments. However, the fallout from those events lead to the creation and beautification of downtown Tower. This rebirth was when Tower City High School was built. When the mayor of Tower City had the school built, he then annexed the outlying suburbs in order to have the wealthy children go to Tower City High and increase the wealth of the area. 

The period rebirth was also when Kyane’s parents, Damon Yoritis and fiancée Hinotomi Shaotoro moved. They both got jobs as lab technicians for SkyRise, a government-owned science company that researched solutions to future problems. They stayed as lab techs for five years. After five years they got married. When they returned from their honeymoon Hinotomi was offered a development position. She accepted it as long as her husband could work with her as a co-lead. Four years later Hinotomi became pregnant with Kyane. This sparked the Yoritis’s wanting to move out of the city, more so their one-bedroom studio apartment, and buy a home. They were finally able to when Kyane turned three years old. 

Kyane rode her bike from her house to the bus stop. She waited fifteen minutes at the bus stop to ride into the city to Tower City High School. It was a long trek, but mostly calming for her. When she got to the bus stop, she opened her backpack and pulled out her earbuds, connected them to her phone and skimmed through Spotify for her jam. She put on Satellites by Rise Against. The assertive drumbeats pumped her up. She began to bob her head. 

A white sports car convertible with three familiar faces drove up to her. “Hey, Kai-Annie, want a ride?” 

Kyane acknowledged the car and looked down. Three people sat in the car. Danny West, the all-star football player for TCHS. He had spiked hair, strong chin, and a bigger smirk. Next to him was Harry Kurtbol, and in the back seat was Desmond Dice. Harry was generically white and handsome. Someone you could replace with every other model. Desmond less so, he had short black hair, large muscles, and a square face. They were the Three Musketeers of sports at TCHS. Kyane pulled her earbuds out. Her head arched up slightly to look down on them. “What?” she asked

“I said ‘Hey, Kai-Annie, want a ride?’ So, do you?” Danny asked. 

“That’s not my name,” Kyane said before processing the rest of his question. “It’s pronounced Kai-on-ay.” She nodded her head to the side. “Now driving along.”  She placed the earbuds back in.

“Fine, I was just trying to help,” Danny said. 

Kyane pulled her earbud out again. “I don’t wanna catch your douche.” Kyane examined Danny’s face. “Are those frosted tips or highlights?” Danny’s face got red. “Also, I know what Chelsea had, I am not getting close to you.”

“I didn’t know douche was a disease,” Desmond said. Kyane hid her laughter. Desmond smirked. He saw the light reflect off her shining black hair. It cast everything away but the laugh and her smile. His heart let out a bolt of electricity. He could feel the beating in the tips of his fingers. 

“I didn’t think you could catch it with just close contact,” Harry said, adding to the joke. Desmond snapped back and looked at Harry. He chuckled. 

Danny rolled his eyes and ignored them. “Chelsea and I didn’t do anything,” Danny said. 

“You say that now. Not last week when you were basically megaphoning you got to home base. Meaning you were probably even worse at sports than I thought even though you talked a big game when we were in Dobbles’s Health Science class.”

Danny shook his head. “You’re such a bitch.”

Desmond leaned forward. “Look Ky, did you read the story that’s been going around?” Kyane’s face kept its hard demeanor. Harry saw he was just going to have to explain it. “A couple was like attacked by some knife-wielding maniac hobo or something like that last night, and the woman was kidnapped.”

“Okay?” Kyane said. She spun the free earbud in her fingers. “That happened last night.” She looked at the rising sun on the horizon. “It’s like morning and stuff. So. thanks but no thanks.” The car began to drive off. A question jammed in her head louder than her punk-rock. “Hey, wait,” the car squeaked on the breaks. “What happened to the guy!?” she called out. She could see Danny’s eyes roll through his skull. 

“He is being held at Tower Center General,” Desmond yelled.  

They took off. “I see what you’re doing Desmond, ma man. Get her scared so you can get her. Very cool,” Danny said. 

“That’s not it,” Desmond said. He looked at her through the side-view mirror. The sun reflected off her hair and across her face. He smiled. 

“Yeah, Dessi here doesn’t need all those tricks,” Harry leaned forward and said. “He’s got major skills already.”

“Yeah…” Desmond droned out. His eyes remained locked onto the ever disappearing speck that was Kyane, but he felt his body pulling him toward her. Even at that distance he could still see her hidden smile. He could feel something in himself that he couldn’t put into words. 

Kyane placed the earbud back and would not take it out until the bell rang when she entered Mr. Ayer’s first-period science class. 

Tower City High School, home of the Tower City Hawks, was made to hold 1,500 students, but currently held 2,500. The school consisted of five separate wings to house each subject. The main office and courtyard in the center. Behind the school sat the Football/Soccer/track field. The field was surrounded by two sides of bleachers made in the 1980s with an equally antiquated scoreboard, and concession stand. Next to the west wing Social Studies wing sat a baseball, and tennis field. They also had hockey, and swim teams, only those teams met at recreation centers in the city. 

The inside of the building was stale. The walls were a mix of bleached and worn yellow, white, and blues showing the schools age. Anything up-to-date pokes out of the scenery like a hippie in a Hot Topic. The vending machines were stocked with the healthiest junk food from low calorie, and fat-free chips, popcorn, crackers, and soda pop.

The only other noted additions to the school was its large number of trophies, school-approved clubs and activities, and fliers for future events like the track and field fundraiser, the baseball awards night, and upcoming marching band performances.  

A police resource officer roamed the halls during classes. His name is Officer Gerald Morris, a balding man in his 40s with a body that made it clear he was athletic in high school, and college, but lost his abs due to the erosion time to exercise. He had a faded wedding band with a tan line from decades of a happy marriage. He was most beloved by the students who he confronted the most often. 

Kyane entered the science class. The science classrooms were a larger departure then any of the other subjects. The other subjects had rows of desks facing the touch-screen SMARTboard. The science room had those desks at the front, with raised cross-shaped lab stations in the back. She always took the desk closest to the door for a quick escape. Even with her earbuds in she could see her students gossiping about the attack. Their phone screens, and badly hushed conversations filled her in. She saw Desmond already in class when she arrived. He sat on the opposite side of the room. The bell rang a second time, and Mr. Ayer entered the room. 

Kyane’s first-period class was biology with Mr. Ayer. He wore a similar combination of khaki pants, and a button-down shirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows with a loose, single color tie. He tapped the SMARTboard to change the slide to their warmup. “Okay class,” he read the question on the board. “You guys have five minutes to answer this.” He checked his gold faced watch with a well-worn black strap. 

The speculative chatter of who attacked the couple continued. Kyane answered the question in her notebook, then tuned them out. She didn’t get why this attack was so interesting. They live in the city. There is a robbery every other week, a shooting every other month, and a bigger murder occasionally, or maybe those are just the ones she chose to pay attention too. She tapped her mechanical pencil on the small desk. She drummed out the beat to Satellites and stared at the diagram of an animal cell, and plant cell, not absorbing any of the information. It was just the most entertaining thing to look at. 

“Hey,” whispered a voice next to her. 

Kyane blinked a few times. The voice said hey again. She turned to see a skinny boy in a hoody two sizes too big with a mess of curls on his head. He had a small laptop sitting on his desk. “What?” Kyane asked.

“What did I miss yesterday?” the boy asked. 

“I don’t know,” Kyane shrugged. The boy had a defeated look in his eyes. Like she was his last hope for graduating high school, or like he just stirred up the courage to ask her on a date and she blew up his aspirations. “You can see my notes I guess.” She handed the notebook over. 

“Thank you,” the boy said. His pale hand accepted the reluctant gift. He flipped three pages back and began typing the notes into his laptop. He finished typing before Ayer continued with his lesson. He handed the book back, Kyane snatched it back. “My name is Jamie,” the boy said. “Sorry I asked for your notebook, I am sick kind of…” he trailed off.

“Hey Jamie,” she said. “Actually, don’t worry about it. You can just pay me back when I am sick. Sounds good?” She was sure his notes would be better than any of the other airheads in class. 

“Ah, yeah sure.” Jamie’s response took him longer than it should have. Kyane tried to show some restraint in her annoyance. She didn’t know if it worked or not. Mr. Ayer asked the question on the board a second time. Jamie’s hand shot into the air and answered it before Kyane processed what he said. Kyane nodded, impressed.

Mr. Ayer started his lesson. He quickly broke any talk of the assault by asking the students questions about the parts of a cell. A question that should have been easy regardless of if the students were listening because of the poster on the wall. Most students didn’t. Mr. Ayer would then comment on the poster, the student would blush, and the other students would laugh a little. Mr. Ayer finished handing out the homework just seconds before the bell rang.

Kyane stuffed her homework into her bag, popped up and headed for the door with the rest of the class behind her. “Mr. Dice, Mr. Bett, and Ms. Yoritis, could you three come here?” Mr. Ayer called out. She slammed on her breaks, walked to the side to let the other students filter out, and tapped her forehead on a locker, and sighed. “Kyane, you better come back in.” Mr. Ayer said. 

Kyane walked in and saw Desmond and Jamie already standing around Mr. Ayer’s desk. “What’s up Ayer?” Kyane asked. She pointed behind her. “I really have to get to Bars math class. I can’t be late for that.” 

“I’ll write you a pass if you think you need it that badly,” Mr. Ayer said. Kyane trudged over to the desk and stood between Jamie and Desmond, acting as a medium between the tall and fit Desmond, and short, gaunt Jamie. Mr. Ayer rolled his worn watch. The ticks from the second hand felt like they lasted minutes while he thought of his wording. “You three are all smart,” he said.

“Thank you, sir,” Jamie said.

“Sure,” Kyane huffed. 

“Oh yeah!” Desmond said. 

Mr. Ayer nodded. “You all are. Whether you believe it or not.” He leaned forward and placed his hands on a stack of unmarked classwork. Kyane clicked her tongue. “Yet, your grades are all well below where they should be for one reason or another.” He looked at Jamie. “Whether it’s an illness,” he looked at Desmond, “misplaced energy and focus,” he then looked at Kyane, “or, just plain stubbornness to do what you need to.” Kyane’s eyes scanned Ayer’s desk. “I also like all of you a great deal, therefore I am giving you some major extra credit.”

“Sweet!” Desmond said. He pumped his fist. He looked at Kyane. She seemed less than impressed and lowered his fist.

“Cool, I guess,” Kyane pocketed her hands. 

“What is it?” Jamie asked. 

Mr. Ayer nodded, smiled, then leaned back in his leather rolling chair. “I’m sure you’ve heard of the assault, and missing person’s case that occurred last night.”

“Maybe in passing,” Kyane said sarcastically.  

“Well, I have a friend in the crime lap at TCPD, he said that if I wanted to, I could send a few students to look and do some CSI work. You know like the TV show. Anyway, I think all three of you could have the makings of a CSI worker, so I would like you to go.”

“What do we have to do?” Kyane asked. 

“Collect some ‘samples’ for me to give to the lab, then write up a one-page paper on the experience. How does that sound?”

“Really cool,” Desmond said. 

“You’re a real go-getter, aren’t you?” Kyane asked. Desmond shot her glance. “Anyway, I’m in.”

“Me too,” Jamie said.

“What time do we have to go? I got baseball practice after school, then tutoring, then something else that I can’t remember,” Desmond said. 

“Well that is up to you three,” Mr. Ayer said. “But like those TV shows say, after 48 hours most of the evidence is gone, so I would try and get there sooner rather than later.” The warning bell rang. Mr. Ayer’s eyes widened for a second. “Passes!” he rummaged around in his desk and pulled out a sticky note pad and wrote three passes for the students, then sent them on their way.

Mrs. Miniver (1942) Review

An essential watch for any film fan and a great companion for several World War II films. This week for our Oscar Bait series of reviews where we watch a past Best Picture winning film randomly selected each week, we had to watch the 1942 film, Mrs. Miniver. Coming off of The Greatest Show On Earth, I was hoping this next classic film would pack a little more punch with its story. I knew nothing about this movie going in and had never even heard of it despite my several film classes. I guess that just goes to show that I must not have done enough research of past winners as I maybe should have. I can’t say I was entirely excited since watching these older films tend to have drawbacks such as being black and white or dated special effects, but of course I went in open minded and ready for whatever it was about to give me.

This movie is a little slow to start as it sets up our main character Mrs. Miniver who lives a life of extravagant spending and returns home to her husband and children. They take time to develop this family and how they are well off with a nice home and maids or butlers. While it really was slow to start because I wasn’t sure where the story was actually going, there is a point about thirty minutes in where you actually get to the heart of the film.

It’s about this family as they deal with the events of World War II, and not just living through its existing in the world, but rather having a son that is in the Royal Air Force and having some of the battle actually taking place in their town. It’s an interesting change in tone as we go from this upbeat kind of well off feeling with this family that changes into a more serious drama about the important things in life.

All of the characters are excellent with Vincent, the son, and Mrs. Miniver being the real standouts. Vincent was of course in the Royal Air Force and served as our possible fodder to the war at hand. For the longest time I was expecting this movie to go into a direction of maybe killing him off that it never takes. Rather this movie shows itself to be one of the earliest films I’ve seen so far to actually trick me with a twist that I didn’t see coming. SPOILER ALERT*** In case you don’t want this 80 year old movie spoiled for you, Vincent’s new wife Carol actually ends up being killed during the air raids above their small town.

It’s a twist that is unexpected and heartbreaking and very clever all that same time. It’s a moment like that where I feel at the time it came out, that it was probably a very bold decision to make, but narratively is such a smart choice that I applaud the director for being willing to take it. It’s a subversion of expectations that I believe strengthens this film to being very much worthy of its Best Picture win. It’s not just that twist that cements this movie as being a surprise hit for me though. It’s also the incredible directing, cinematography, and writing on top of all of the actors.

The writing, dialogue specifically is so sharp and quick that even though the movie feels like it’s moving slow, you are still invested in every word their saying because they don’t give you a second to think about the slower pace towards the beginning. On top of that though, the writing is clever and witty and just makes the movie that much more fun as I feel the actors truly embrace the characters the more they actually get into the quick pace of talking and snappy dialogue. It makes them easier to connect with and feel for.

One of the true highlights of The Greatest Show on Earth was the train wreck scene that happened towards the end of the film. I could very much tell that it was a model, but it still held up as being impressive to watch. This movie is older, but has a scene in which we a see a huge group of ships joining together as they head towards the battle of Dunkirk to rescue the soldiers on the beach. It’s a shot that is visually impressive and I really can’t tell if they are models or if it was done with real ships. Either way it doesn’t matter because it’s one of the best shots of the whole movie.

Also on a side note, I mentioned the battle of Dunkirk which this movie talks about and if you haven’t watched the Christopher Nolan film “Dunkirk” then I definitely recommend watching it before giving this a watch. It’s not necessary to enjoy this movie, but adds another layer because I know what the battle of Dunkirk is like and what was actually happening since we don’t actually see it in Mrs. Miniver. As I said in the beginning of this review, this is a great movie to watch along with several other World War II films because this will add some understanding to the more civilian element of what the war was like.

Finally, it’s clear that none of this would have been successful if it weren’t for the director who managed to pull all of this together and make a movie that is truly impressive and is great to watch. The only issue I did have other than the beginning being a little slow is that the rose competition sucks since I can’t actually see the difference in the roses. I know that they are different shades of grey, but I just wish I could see this movie in its full color just to have a better understanding of that competition. I would definitely watch it again in a heartbeat if there happened to be a color version, but really though this movie is great.

Look, I know that there aren’t too many people out there, especially in my generation or younger, that would be willing to seek out this movie and watch it, but hear me out. If you love movies and the history of film and like to go out of your way to better understand where your favorite directors learned from then you need to go back to the past and watch these movies. Not all of them are going to be easy to watch or enjoyable, but you have to venture out and give them a shot. Mrs. Miniver is a must watch for any film buff or film history fan and I really think it should be watched for anyone who wants to branch out and broaden their spectrum of movies they’ve seen.

If you have seen this movie or haven’t and have your own comments or questions then be sure to comment below or send us an email at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

Dismembering the Dead: an Examination of Dexter Season 7

In retrospect Season 6 feels like an attempt to go back to basics. It was a simple crime, for serial killer fiction, and not a whole lot of outside drama. It is an interesting approach that makes the reveal of Deb finding Dexter’s secret all the more interesting from a structural stand point to introduce at the last second. It also gives a ton of intrigue as to how it would move on.

However, that is not the most intriguing thing. The most intriguing thing is how everyone suddenly switched from flip phones to iPhones and smartphones in the course of a couple hours since this season starts just minutes after the last ended with Deb seeing her brother stab the last of the religious killers.

Coming out of that Deb must come to terms with what her brother does, and find ways to try and save him, lest she becomes just like him. During that Dexter gets embroiled in the Ukrainian underworld when he kills one of their enforces, and ends up dating the ex-girlfriend of a criminal who went on a cross country murder spree, and has not stopped killing, herself. Outside of Dexter’s life Angel retires to run a restaurant, Quinn gets involved with a stripper at the club owned by the mob people Dexter is dealing with, and LaGuerta finds a blood slide that says the Bay Harbor Butcher is alive and well.

This season feels more like an attempt to do Season 2 again. For one it does not have a main villain that needs stabbing, but separate cases that build while Dexter is dealing with a love interest who sees his dark side and likes it, and someone who sees the true him and wants to bring him to justice. It’s not a terrible way to go with it, but does feel lame in places.

Dexter pairing with another love interest, but this time it is someone who just sees who he is and doesn’t need it or want to use it, or fix it, is a good idea in theory. Dexter and love interest Hannah do have good chemistry and feel like a good couple, but there is nothing really to them other than knowing each other’s dark secrets and still seeing the good. Where it puts Dexter at the end, knowing he can’t really trust her makes it feel heartbreaking in a way that is kind of shocking. Mostly cause the acting is great.

However Hannah is not the only person Dexter is paired with. He is also both paired against and with Issac, the Ukrainian crime boss. Their dynamic should be stale. Just two guys who want to kill each other but know how to act civil, but again the acting, and where Isaac’s character goes makes them a good match. They both look for a place in the world they belong, and now Isaac no longer has it while Dexter thinks he does. Not a normal way to take that, and his death too is tragic.

Debra, meanwhile, is a champ. Her acting throughout the season is out of the park as she keeps coming up with ways to try and help Dexter, while ultimately seeing why his ideas can be necessary sometimes. Her rivalry with Hannah is not played well. Debra wants to take down Hannah because she is a killer, and because she loves Dexter, but until the final piece of evidence is revealed her only suspicion she’s a killer is when she admitted doing so when she was with her ex-boyfriend, and a teenager in extenuating circumstances. It might just be her being jealous, which is lame since there is no shrink for her to talk to, but that’s not brought out enough.

What else isn’t brought out enough is why LaGuerta eventually lands on Dexter as the Bay Harbor Butcher. She still feels Doakes is innocent, but it feels like a stubborn leap. Now, part of that is probably purposeful. She needs to seem crazy to everyone else, but her explanations don’t track to the audience outside of her, which makes us lose her. How he’s dealt with in the end is interesting, and opens many possibilities.

The side characters don’t get much to do. Quinn and his stripper love interest do, but only so Quinn can be a plot device to move the story along. The ending is obvious, and feels like it’s all played for time, and just so certain events, like evidence to go missing, or crooked police work to occur. I still can’t believe he’s part of this show.

So, despite it not being terrible so much of this season feels lame. That lameness comes from the plotting. The season, but show overall, wants to push the envelop in terms of what happens. Dexter has a baby, an intern with thin skin who tries to pull one over on Dexter, balance work life and serial killer life. These ideas are good, but they often seem to be written off so easily. Dexter has a baby but they can’t figure out how to really make him be a single father so they give him a nanny to help rush him away in case there is any problems. Same with Rita’s kids, just rush them away. Or, same with the intern gone rouge. They take the least interesting option to get out of it, or don’t see consequences through to their logical conclusion. It just makes the show lame.

Only, I still really like it. The series has the vibe and atmosphere that makes me just love being in that world and being with those characters. It makes it sad that season 8 is the end.

Next time is the infamous final season.

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

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Class 1 – Induan Introduction

Period 1

Kyane heard a bang rattle her door. “Kyane, get your tail outta bed,” her dad, Damon, yelled. “We have something to talk about, so unless you’re literally dying, I’m coming in!”

“Give me a second, Godda-”

“Language!” Damon pounded on the door. 

“I’ll be out in a second! Hold up!” Kyane pulled up her leggings, slipped into her ankle boots, tossed her tan jacket over her blouse, and rustled her shoulder-length black hair in the mirror. Her unique genetics of a Greek father, and Japanese mother gave her thin, jet black hair she made sure was just messy enough. There was a third bang on the door. She kicked the purposefully empty hamper onto a pair of jeans with the belt still in the loops. The rest of her room was decidedly equally as messy. She swiped her belt curtain hanging on the backside of the door to get to the handle and pulled the door open. “Yes?” she said. She blew hair out of her face. 

Her dad, a tall man in a red golf shirt tucked into khakis, thin-rimmed glasses on his face, and a fist-sized rock in his hand. “What is this?” he asked. 

Kyane looked at the rock. She tried to hide the gleam of recognition in her eyes. She darted them around to find an escape route. “It’s a rock. Look, I’m going to be late for school if I don’t leave in like a minute. We can talk about rocks when I get home even though I’m not even taking geology.” She saw a small opening between her dad and the door frame. She tried to weasel through. 

Damon sidestepped, blocking her escape. He extended the rock into her face again. “That hasn’t stopped you yet. So, what is this?”

“I. Don’t. Know,” she said again. “I’m not the scientist in the family. You and mom are. So, unless you want another stern phone call from Mr. Ayer about me getting there late, I better get going.” She pushed him out of the way, through the hallway, and down the steps. 

“It’s a weapon!” he yelled. He threw the rock down the hallway, and onto the carpet. “Urragghh!” the rock’s thud emphasizing his yell. The bedroom door opened. He jumped. “Jeeze, you scared me,” Damon said. He turned and saw his wife, Hinotomi, exit the master bedroom in a long red dress, flats, and her black hair in a bun.

“Yelling at her isn’t going to solve a thing,” Hinotomi said. She closed the door. The two walked downstairs. “We’re going to need to find another solution.”

Damon removed his glasses and massaged his temples. “You’re right.” He placed his glasses on his face. They walked into the kitchen. Damon went over to the Keurig, turned it on, and placed his Green Bay Packer Tervis on it. Hinotomi went to their white fridge and removed her green tea. “I am not sure what to do. I was never this bad.”

“We’ll figure it out,” she said. She poured her tea into her Spider-Man travel mug. “We just have to,” she paused to think of the words. “We just have to be who we are.”

“Parents?”

“No, scientists. Test different methods until something sticks.” She placed the lid on her cup, walked to her husband, and gave him a hug. 

“Military school will stick.”

“Extracurriculars will stick first.” 

Damon placed his K-cup into the machine, lowered the lid. The popping sound of the lid breaking sent a shiver down his spine. He thought they needed to make them out of the bubble wrap material so the pop was more satisfying. He applied to Keurig to work on that but didn’t get accepted. Hinotomi rubbed his arms. “Hello?” Damon blinked, realizing he lost himself in that flashback. 

“I’m here. We better get going ourselves.”

“Yes, we have a lot of moving to do today.”

Zoey’s Extraordinary Hype Episode 12 (a Review)

Last episode fell flat. I think it felt like that was illustrated when I watched Upload recently (read the review here). That show felt like a show plotted for streaming, as does this show. The constant plot lines and cuts. The setting up hard for future episodes all feels geared toward a show made for streaming. However, even with that this episodes does not falter or fall in the same way.

Zoey wakes up to find herself singing an omen of doom for the day. Only, it seems anything but. Simon returns no worse for ware. Zoey’s boss gets promoted to running the company due to legal issues with the owner, Max gets his job back, and he and Zoey hook up. Only, the bad moon rises and the worst thing happens. From there it is a long, protracted time with Zoey and her family as the inevitable comes.

Of all the places to start, the fact Max leaves a scene for Simon to drive in literally seconds later is very funny in a way it should not be. That’s not a problem and you have no context for what I am referring to, but starting light is fun.

The acting, singing, direction, everything is really on point. All the songs from “Jealous” to “All of Me” are really well done. They provide a good metric of normal before the hard stuff hits. Unfortunately, the plot line with Mo and his boyfriend is very weak during this and might be setting up more later, if that comes, but as it is now is not a whole lot.

I only bring that up because once the bad news hits the show is on. It is poignant in all the best ways. Uses its premise for a great send off, and really utilizes an actor that hasn’t gotten to do much. The final scene is also just jaw dropping. A oner through a wake while every cast member gets to sing part of American Pie no 1 is absolutely masterful. Not just the ability to do it, but the staging and blocking was impeccable, along with the vocal mixing, and transitions. It is a great final scene to end on.

The show really does have a heart too it, and the final scene, along with the rest of the season shows how something that is very, very strange can also be a great thing. Just wish character didn’t spell that out so literally mod-way through the episode.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) Review

Surprisingly better than the first with less issues, but some of the same problems. I remember seeing trailers for this movie, but I can’t for the life of me remember if I have actually seen this movie prior to this watch. I mean I know the gist of it and who the new villains are and everything, but I just can’t put together if what I know about it is from watching it or just watching the trailers. It was a mystery to me as I started watching it, but one thing is for sure, I was expecting improvement on the first film since there were some issues I had with it. I was surprised the even greenlit a sequel, but hey, someone thought it was a good idea and not me, so let’s see what I thought of it.

First off, I want to say that it was very interesting that this movie decided to showcase the Knicks in the beginning of the movie. I know that it takes place in New York, but they are a terrible team and I think were still terrible in 2016 if I remember right. It was kind of cool though to see Deandre Jordan and Carmelo Anthony in the movie. I’m a basketball fan, so it appeals more to me than most of you I’m sure.

This movie picks up where we left off at the end of the first film. Shredder is in jail and the turtles are still doing their secret thing of saving people but doing it in the shadows. Which makes perfect sense of naming this movie “Out of the Shadows”. It makes sense throughout the film as the turtles have chances to become “normal” but struggle with that choice over accepting themselves as who they are. In the end they come out of the shadows after being accepted by others for who they are, while also keeping secret for the most part.

Surprisingly this movie like the first one is a lot deeper sometimes with its themes and messages that it’s trying to get across. Sure the movie is incredibly cartoony, but it still is also teaching a lesson of acceptance for who you are. This is a message that makes sense for the turtles but also plays into our own lives with ourselves or people we know. I applaud this movie because it is also targeted towards kids, so it’s a message that is important for them to understand and I appreciate their focus being on more than just telling a silly story.

One thing we did get in this movie though were new characters like Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady. They are all the main antagonists for the turtles for this film, but we also got Casey Jones as a new hero character. I may be a little biased in liking Casey Jones as much as I do since he’s played by Stephen Amell who I really like from his work on Arrow, but I still think he’s pretty good in this movie. It’s not a role that he has a lot of depth or character to work with and his hockey schtick fits more in an animated world than in a live action movie, but I tended to look past it.

Bebop and Rocksteady also feel as if they were pulled right out of the comics or animated universe, and I will admit that the CGI also looks very cartoony, but for some reason it just worked for me. I’m not sure why, but the full embrace of the cartoony elements was what made me really enjoy this movie. They were ridiculous and had very silly dialogue, but they were also a formidable foe. The only downside was that they didn’t face off against the turtles in the end. Rather Casey managed to take care of them by himself which seemed like a bit of a stretch.

That leaves me with Shredder and Krang as the two main villains of this movie. Krang is introduced very early on in the film when Shredder is teleported by Tyler Perry and ends up in a different dimension where he meets Krang. I do want to say that following the cartoony feel, Tyler Perry is super cartoony but so funny at the same time and I was loving his character as the scientist. Back to Shredder though, he is great for the whole movie, especially with him getting back to having a much more subtle costume than what he had in the first film. The downside though is as soon as Krang shows up at the end, Shredder is sidelined to not being even relevant in the final battle.

Krang though is surprisingly hilarious as a character, both in his demeanor and in his actual look. He’s a character that on paper when you look at him from the comics or the animated shows just doesn’t feel like something realistic enough to work but somehow he does. Now he isn’t quite as involved as I’d hoped he would be and really isn’t that threatening, but he was a joy to watch on screen and I would love to have seen him come back in a sequel that is probably not ever going to happen.

This brings me to the turtles who as I said in my review of the first film are full of heart and are fun to watch. In the first film we had more focus on Raph as he was coming to terms with Leo as the leader. In this film though we have a much deeper philosophical decision that the turtles have to make that divides them. It’s not just coming to terms with who they are and the unfortunate decision of whether to try to be human or keep things the same, but also coming together as brothers and as a team.

Throughout the film we go through an arc of them working well together and being as close as ever, but then new developments lead to a discovery that could change their lives for good. Leo takes advantage of being the leader and makes the decision on his own without consulting with the others. This creates a rift between all of them that ends up leading to their disaster of a plan to recover the dimension item thing in South America. It’s only after that and that they come to terms with who they are and what they need to be and come back together as brothers and a team. Again, it’s a story with a lot of heart and some great character growth that I wasn’t expecting out of this movie.

I said that this movie has problems which of course it does just like the other film, but it actually ended up being an improvement on the first film. It’s one of those movies that you just have to accept it for what it’s trying to be, just like the turtles accepting who they are. I knew that this movie was going to be goofy and not have the best CGI or acting and whatnot, but I was looking for the heart of the first film and the fun time which it excelled at. I can’t say that I should be recommending this movie to anyone because I may be one of the few people that actually liked it, but I think if you sort of liked the first one then you should give this one a chance for sure. This might be on my list of guilty pleasures because I really enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

If you have seen this movie or haven’t and have comments or questions then be sure to comment below or email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

Triassic Invader – Prologue (Period-a-Day)

(If any of our fans would like to draw a better logo we would be happy to accept fan art or pay!

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Dieous the Extinction Guardian: Triassic Invaders

Prologue

It took one night for the world to start changing. The only notes of the change were only ever written in the pages of the local paper.

    That night that changed everything began with a nondescript couple ending their dinner date. The man thought his chicken parmesan was undercooked, or maybe the sauce was bad. Either way it tasted sour, and he couldn’t determine the reason. The woman guffawed at his distress. The man felt a jump in his gut. The chicken was coming up. He ducked near a trashcan and hurled inside. The woman stopped laughing and realized it was food poisoning and would have to take care of him the next morning. She rubbed his back while he finished, then gained the energy to stand. The woman said there was a shortcut through an alley two blocks up. She heard a ticking behind them but ignored it. 

    The nondescript couple hurried up the two blocks and ducked into the alley. The man pressed his hand against the cold brick and hurled a second time. He wiped his nose and mouth. The woman championed him to get the energy to move. They were only a few blocks from their apartment. There was a second ticking noise. The woman looked toward the noise. A black rat dug its claws into the brick and piping and scurried up the building. The woman yelped at the rodent. The man asked what the noise was, but the woman calmed herself and said nothing. The man wrapped his arm around her neck, then hoisted himself up. The woman rubbed his back again and reassured him it was going to be fine. Scratching and scraping soon followed the ticks. The woman checked the corner of her eye and saw another rat run behind her. 

    The scratching continued. It grew louder. It became a scraping of nails on concrete. An auditory assault. The man asked what the noise was. They turned around to see yellow orbs surrounded by a lanky, hunched figure. Another rat began its ascension up the pipe, assumable away from the figure, the figure extended its hand with nails the size of a fruit knife. The figure stabbed the rat. The rat’s blood blotted a red circle on the wall. 

    The couple would have noticed the figure by stench alone if the man’s barf didn’t burn both their noses. 

They would have noticed sooner if they didn’t take the alleyway between a comfort food, and craft coffee restaurants. But the remains of the brewed beans, milk, and mocha syrup in the trash can on their right, and the fresh fried chicken, mac and cheese, and spiced green beans wafting out of the kitchen on the left blocked the figures stench regardless of if the man got sick or not. 

The figure unstuck his nail from the wall, rat still impaled, lifted the rat to his mouth, and in a moment, was gone. A gulping sound followed. The figure stepped forward and lifted its hand. The woman could see drops of blood and intestines on his long fingernails. Fingernails that were unnatural. Fingernails that looked like claws from a monster. 

The woman tried to back up. If she was alone, she would have made it home already. If the man was in good health, he could have fought the figure off. Unfortunately, the couple was not that lucky. The woman decided to uphold their date night plans even though she wanted to go for a run instead. The man should have gotten his first choice of mushroom gnocchi in an alfredo sauce, but he was in the mood for chicken since last night when they were supposed to get subs, but they had to cancel because of an emergency meeting he had at the office. 

It was an unfortunately perfect storm for this couple. 

The figure revealed his second hand with nails just as sharp. The woman swore she could hear a hissing noise come from the figure’s mouth. The woman took another couple of steps back. She tripped over her boyfriend’s leg and she fell, taking the man with her. The woman sat up and crawled backward, passed the man, stood up, then lifted her boyfriend’s arms and attempted to drag him away. The figure stopped, and watched, head cocked to the side. The woman swore she heard it hiss again but couldn’t be sure. 

Sweat tracked down the woman’s forehead, to her armpits. She realized she could not escape from whoever this figure is. She dug in her purse and removed a covered stick of lip gloss and held it up. She thought the rat killing hobo would not be able to see it as lip gloss, believed her when she said it was pepper spray. The figure did not move. She dug her phone out and called 911. The man looked up and asked why she was holding her lip gloss. The woman cursed her boyfriend. The figure shot its head straight. 

The figure leaped forward, its nails bearing the main force of its assault. There was scratching on the concrete floor. The figure opened its mouth and the woman saw fanged teeth, carnivorous teeth. The teeth of a predator. 

The woman screamed and shrieked.

The cooks in the comfort food restaurant heard muffled noises. One of the other cooks, a newbie, asked what was going on to one of the veterans. The veteran cook said that some weird couples would come to this alley and scream like that all the time. The newbie looked behind him at the alley door but got distracted by the ding of the window bell. When his shift ended at 1 AM he exited through the alley door and entered a police crime scene, with a chalk outline near the craft coffee garbage can, claw marks on the cement floor, and no woman in sight. The newbie felt like static. His vision went blurry and felt pale. He saw a crime photographer kick the garbage can. There was a bang.

Upload is a Let Down (a Review)

Greg Daniels is an undisputed comedy TV genius. He’s created masterful sitcoms like King of the Hill, The Office, and Parks and Rec. Each of those rightfully received tons of awards and accolades for their well written character, great jokes, and strong stories. This time he is taking that talent directly to streaming with the satirical take on the tech world, modern day consumer culture, and the afterlife with Upload.

The series, set in the not too distant future, follows Nathan, someone who dies, but instead of just dying his conscience is uploaded to a virtual heaven called Lake View on request from his girlfriend. While there he comes to term with life after death, makes friends with the deceased, and guardian angel, Nora. Only, more is going on than anyone expected with conspiracies and drama abound, death had never been such a hassle (Except for the Good Place).

Season One’s main focus is on the world and it’s very blatant satire of the gig economy, constant drive to get 5-Star ratings, in-app purchases, and every other single thing a tech startup has ever suggested. All of that is absolutely spot on, and totally believable. The show feels like it has its finger on the pulse of what the future of our world could be like.

The same cannot be said for the characters. Greg Daniels has created many, many very well formed, driven, and hysterical characters that redefined archetypes and tropes. None of those characters are in the show. Everyone, though they do feel fleshed out, and everyone feels like a person, there doesn’t not seem to be a spark that really sets them apart or make them stand out. The acting feels very safe, samey, and bland. There just is not anything too them since it has to constantly juggle different plots.

On top of that, not all of the effects used look all that great. It might come from using so much and trying to put all the money on screen, but it doesn’t fully work.

In fact most of the show does not fully work. It has great satire and themes, but with no characters to really latch onto, and plot that is too all over the place and not fully explored. It is also not a full fledged comedy. It is a satire, but played really straight. It has some fun with visuals and some good lines, but is mostly a drama that does not have anything to carry it.

This show will most likely get compared to the Good Place. I did so myself. Whether that is fair or not is aside from the point. What is the point, is that what makes the Good Place fresh was not just the concept, and how far they pushed that with the plot. No, those characters are just so alive and compelling. They are characters you want to see grow and change, and that starts in season one. This show, for many good ideas, does not feel like a heaven at all, but the Bad Place.

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Sully (2016) Review

A tightly paced and quick look into one of the greatest feats in recent memory. Like everyone else I’m sure we all remember where we were during the events of 9/11 or even the Miracle on the Hudson. I for sure remember where I was during 9/11, but this event seemed to have slipped my memory of where I was exactly. I knew about it, I knew that it happened and I know who the pilot is and everything to know about this event, but for the life of me I just can’t remember where I was when it happened. Come to think of it, before watching this movie, I really couldn’t remember all that much in the details other than the plane was landed on the river. For some reason this extraordinary event slipped my mind in the last several years, so I finally got around to watching this movie for the first time.

Clint Eastwood has a knack lately for directing real life stories about important events like this, Richard Jewell, American Sniper, or The Mule. There are some others that he has done also, but those were just to name a few. The thing about Clint Eastwood is that he’s a great director and tells great stories and doesn’t seem to ever make a bad film. My only issue with his directing style is that visually they all look the same. They all feel bland with the color palette and lighting.

It’s an issue that isn’t a negative towards the film, but is more a negative towards his directing style because the movie just feels bland. I understand that this is a real life moment and maybe it works for some people because it gives off the more real life color feel, but I just don’t like how bland it feels and how similar all of his movies are visually. Outside of that though, Eastwood directs this movie like he does any of his others.

When I started watching, I first noticed that the film was only about an hour and a half long which seemed a little odd since typically a drama like this would be a bit longer. I didn’t think too much on that though since I knew that it was a well-received movie and that there must have been a reason for it. This brings me to the pacing of the film along with the actual story. The pacing is quick and doesn’t give you much time to think about this movie being long or short and doesn’t drag in any places. I love how the story was revealed from all of the different perspectives in flashbacks sparked by Sully’s recovery and remembering of the event.

The problem I did have with Sully though is outside of the actual event, we never really got to understand who he was before the event and who he was after. I know that the film does a well enough job to show us that he is a caring guy who will put everyone before himself, but I wanted to get to know who he was more. There were a few instances where we got flashbacks from when he was much younger. Two specific scenes with the most interesting being when he was flying what I figured was some model of fighter jet.

These two moments showed us how skilled he was with aviation and flight and only strengthened our understanding of how good of a pilot he really is. Something that we really didn’t need assurance of. We could all tell from Tom Hanks’ performance of Sully that he was as good as he said he was, but there was really no need to show us those moments unless you were going to dive deeper into his history. I think that’s what this movie needed more than anything else, just more depth. It’s not often that I say a movie should be longer, but this movie really needed an extra thirty minutes to round itself out to two hours.

I think that the story they told was more just a focus on the actual event which is fine, but it also tries to lie the focus on Sully at the same time while not giving us more time with him. I feel like I’m ragging on this movie, but I’m not. It’s a very good movie that just has a few issues that I think would have made it even better. Visually the movie was outstanding with its different perspectives of the plane landing on the river as well as the different scenarios that were running through Sully’s head throughout the film after the event. The beginning is a very good example of a misdirection that visually was good and also took me off guard.

All of this is only heightened by the incredible performance of Tom Hanks as Sully. I say incredible, but that may be giving him just a bit too much credit. Everything Tom Hanks does is incredible, but he has such an ability to get lost in his character even though he’s as well-known as he is. He really did get lost in the person we know as Sully and I was impressed with how much he embraced that man and became him for the role. It’s not by any means Hanks’ best performance, but it helps the movie become better than maybe it would have been otherwise. All of the other actors outside of Aaron Eckhart were pretty much throwaway, but since the focus is supposed to be on Sully, I’ll give it a pass.  

Bringing everything together though, I think this movie should have been called “Miracle on the Hudson” rather than being called “Sully”. At times it feels like it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It tries to focus on the event and the controversy with it while also trying to make Sully the main character and focus. I think that if it was a matter of balancing both of those elements then they should have wrote in more history of Sully leading up to the events rather than focus solely on the event from several different perspectives.

This is a very good movie for what it is with a quick pace that doesn’t waste any time trying to tell you the story. You get great visuals as well as an excellent performance, but you also get a story that feels cut short. This is a movie that for once could have been quite a bit longer for the sake of telling an even better story. I will go ahead and recommend this to anyone because I think the majority of people will enjoy it. I think it’s a movie that is definitely worth watching, so if you haven’t seen it then definitely go out and give it a shot.

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