Stranger Things, S2 Ep6- The Spy; Steve’s Redemption, Nancy is just terrible…again


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Cold Open: E-Will is in agony, Hop is getting a rough shower, and Steve becomes a hero (that can totally do better than Nancy- seriously Mullet-Guy)!

Steve enters the storm cellar and finds …. nothing but Dart’s skin.  It’s big now!

The Government shows up at Joyce’s Casa De Crazy and takes a bunch of polaroids.

Nancy and Creeper are prepping tapes of Reiser incriminating himself and they end up having sex.  Yep, they do it with the prodding of a creepy alcoholic in a bunker…. really.

Reiser shows Hop that the upside down has grown.

If you feel like this review is frenetic, it really reflects the story.  It was really terrible this episode.  It bounced around like a cocaine addicted superball, but with a ton of corny heart to heart moments that made me seriously root for the Demagorgon and the Upside Down to win.

E-Will has difficulty recognizing people or acting.  It really seems like both to me.  In any case, he emotes that burning the vines hurt “It” and made the Shadowmonster angry.  No one thinks that means Will has been compromised because like every episode this season the characters took stupid pills off camera.

Steve and Dustin have a long heart to heart on railroad tracks with meat to lure Dart to his death.  It’s like “Stand By Me”, but boring.  I’m being a little cruel here, but they deserve it.  Steve is showing some pretty good acting these scenes and his character moves to pure hero, which is great, but the entire flow of the episode needs a page 1 re-write.

Hop gets outside and tries to talk to El, but his voice is to any empty prison- I mean cabin.

Steve and Dustin prepare to set a trap for the Demagorgon and Lucas and Max show up to help.  When the night comes, the Demagorgon approaches, but isn’t enticed by the ground chuck.  Therefore, Steve uses himself as bait.  He’s officially a hero! I really thought they might kill him off here because he’d been humanized for so long.  Just as Steve is about to do battle, there are now THREE demagorgons!!! THREE!!! One last season was suspenseful and awesome, but this one we have a shadowboxer, I mean monster, I mean whatever.  Steve and the gang is about to be eaten, but the creatures are called off, why?

E-Will convinced the government to go after the “heart” of the vines in the evil caves, but IT’S A TRAP!!! Just as they get close, the demagorgons close in and we here the motion sensor sounds from Aliens….It’s kinda awesome and all the soldiers die.

Will tells Joyce that he’s sorry for laying a trap and that they should leave.  There are three demagorgons about to attack the government facility.  FADE TO BLACK.

See Below for a Hero:

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Stranger Things S2 Ep5 “Dig Dug”; Alt Title: Bad Ideas


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Cold Open:  The Evil Vines cover up the entrance Hop dug and he is trapped.  He leaves a trail of cigarette butts for himself or someone.  Then, the evil caves puff out some knock gas and Hop is on his back.

Nancy and Creeper get a room together and it’s more boring than awkward.

Hop wakes up and makes a quasi-gas mask and goes spelunking- Bad Idea #1.

There’s a subplot where Louis gets advice from his dad about girls and he tries to explain to Max last years events.  It’s kinda boring.  For the completists, Louis contrives a meeting with Max to explain all last year’s jazz.

There is a moment where Mullet Guy kinda comes on to Steve in the shower (At least, that’s how it came across to me).  Who knows, maybe Steve and Mullet guy will find love?  Honestly, it would be the first unpredictable twist of the season.  I hope those crazy guys make it work!  Steve, I get that you’re really into Nancy, but she’s in a motel room with Creeper.  You could do worse than Mullet Guy.  He works out and is a work in progress with great hair!

Dylan lures the teenage Demimoorgorgan into the storm cellar with baloney and it’s actually kinda scary.

Nancy and Creeper arrive at The Crank’s home.  There are cameras outside and he opens the door in a t-shirt, robe, and I’m certain dirty underwear.  They go into his lair to talk- Bad Idea #2.  They enter for some reason and he even has a steel door creeper room.  REALLY?!  REALLY?!  They play the tape Nancy made of Reiser totally incriminating the lab and they come up with a mediocre plan to discredit the lab and create a scandal not mentioning the monsters.  That should work. 

Bob stops by Joyce’s home and she creates excuses to keep him from coming in, but decides – Why not let him see my crazy house? He’s gonna find out we’re all nuts anyway and he’s into puzzles.  He takes a couple of minutes to absorb in all the crazy- You did these drawings?  Why…. exactly? BEST LINES OF THE SERIES!!!!

Bob realizes: 1) the vines are a map of the town. 2) the vines are hydrophobic.  E-Will trips out and sees Hop is in trouble.  Yep, Hop is enveloped by the vines and it appears to be the end of our intrepid Sheriff.

El gets to her Aunt, meets her catatonic mom, and realizes just how much her mom has gone crazy.  There is no there there, or so it seems.  Her mom indicates that she is ready to communicate with some flickering lights.  El goes into the imbetween and her mother show’s El: her birth, her abduction, another psychic playmate, a botched rescue, her mother’s ECT treatment by Evil Modine, and tonight’s winning lotto numbers- guess the fake!!!!

Bob creates a map to scale to find Hop with coordinates divined from E-Will’s drawings.  Pretty cool, Hop was last season’s breakout- this year is All About Bob!!!

Evil Reiser learns that the Hawkins soil is ALIVE!!!!!!  That’s pretty much it for him this episode.

Bob figures out Hop’s rough location and is amazed they bring him along to help.  Awwwww.   E-Will, Mike, Joyce, and Bob are looking for Hop and E-Will goes into his head and says to make a right.  Joyce and Bob arrive at the cave entrance for Hop and Bob doesn’t seem phased that he’s going into another dimension.  Good for you, Bob! Thanks for taking this in stride.  They rescue Hop.  The vines are about to overtake our trio, but the government arrives with flamethrowers and start burning the vines, sending E-Will into a painful seizure.

Steve and Dylan are paired up to deal with the teenage Demimoorgorgan, but it’s escaped!!!! WHA?!!! It has broken out into the evil caves and is now loose in our world.  Dylan, this is 100% your fault! You are the biggest bad idea of them all! – Bad Idea #3.

This episode wasn’t too bad.  People acted kinda stupidly as is usual this season, but at least Bob acted as a counter-weight to all the dumbassery.  Cheers!!!

 

Stranger Things S2 Ep 4 “Will the Wise”; ALT Title: Everything that is WRONG with season 2


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Cold Open: Joyce is trying to find Will who is busy getting possessed by black smoke “Supernatural” style.  The Smoke Monster fully enters Will and he becomes…. YES—

E-Will. —You’re Welcome, America.

Analysis: The smoke monster is everything that is wrong with Season 2.  Season 1: the big bad was a predator- corporeal, eating, breathing, and reproducing.  This season: it’s a smoke monster- ethereal and spooky, essentially an evil spirit.  Evil spirits are fictional and it destroys the idea of the Upside Down.  The Upside Down is a PARALLEL universe: what is here is there, but different because it evolved without the sun.  There aren’t spirits here running about, so there shouldn’t be spirits there running about.  That’s why season 2 fails! The creators undermined their own mythology for the sake of creative expedience and it drains the scares right out of us.

Joyce tries to wake Will, but he can’t remember what happened because E-Will is being all E-Will.

Hop sees El and is justifiably pissed, but imprisoning a teenager is just not a workable solution.  Hop tries to ground El and it goes…about as well as can be expected with a teenager with terrible super powers.  She hits Hop with a book, throws furniture around, and blows the windows out.  They’re also a lot alike; they both react without thinking.

Hop, you’re not the best Dad.  You take crazy risks without the slightest concern whether or not you will come home to your ward.  Grow up!

Nancy easily lies to the now placeholder Cara Buono that she’s staying at Stacy’s…. and it works. UGHHH.  It’s actually a plot to catch the lab guys red handed and give the data to the Crank from episode 1.  She and Creeper are faux-waiting for Barb’s mom and then get “captured” by the government guys.  It’s legit 1980s creepy and one of the few good scenes of the episode.

Joyce is trying to nurse E-Will back to health.  His temperature is below normal and she tries to give him a bath.  Joyce you should really read- Chicken Soup for the Demonic Soul.

We get a very hamfisted clue as to how to defeat the smoke monster: E-Will is scared of the bath water.  Side note: there is a cool juxtaposition with Mr. Clarke describing fear responses in organisms.

Hop is with Joyce and Will and trying to get him to describe his E-Willness and he can’t unless he uses …..crayons?  Will, I get it- you’re the artsy one of this D&D tribe, but as Daniel Tiger tries to instruct my girls- Use your words…. Use your words.  There we go. Will uses drawing to craft what is revealed to be a network of vines.  Joyce uses the drawings as her latest Crazy Home Journal interior decorating and puts them up everywhere.

We return to El cleaning up the house and finding The Trapdoor of Contrivance.  We see a box labeled Vietnam.  So, Hop is a Vet, not a surprise.  El discovers the evil lab box and finds stuff on her mom.  El uses her mojo to go to the imbetween and make contact with her.  El’s quest begins to find her mom.

Hop reveals that he might be the worst Dad/Cop ever and realizes E-Will’s drawings are vines and he takes E-Will’s statement that they are killing to be literal and rushes off without consulting anyone about his plans or whereabouts or any backup whatsoever civilian or otherwise.  Hop, how did you get through Vietnam or even your teen years?! 

Dylan looks for his “pet”.  His poor mom is a fright looking for their cat.  Dylan finds Dart eating Mr. Snuggles or whatever he’s called.

Hop digs down into the pumpkin patch and enters a tunnel of Upside Down and for hamfistedness the camera rotates making him upside down on the screen.

NOTE: smoke from Supernatural and this show below….

 

Stranger Things S2 E3 -“The Pollywog”; ALT Title: I Used To Have a Role on Stranger Things


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Cold Open:  Dustin brings the Wee Kaiju into his home.  Really?! Really?! If you think it crosses anyone’s mind that the Wee Kaiju came from the Upside Down, you’d be wrong.  Even though it looks like a Wee Kaiju, Dustin battled the Upside Down, it’s scared of light, and …. I give up.

Hop spends a lot of the episode trying to make amends with El with waffles.  We learn that her captivity has been going on for almost a year and SHE IS BORED.  There are a series of flashbacks of Hop finding her, taking her into his Uncle’s abandoned cabin, and an amazingly sad house cleaning montage.  I love a good montage, but this one made my heart hurt a little.  Hop establishes three rules all that involve El being under house arrest.  So, she breaks out and goes forth into the village below.

Bob tries to coach Will on facing his fears, which would be good, but here in Monsterville, Indiana – it’s very very bad advice. Then, he goes to school.  That’s it.

Mr. Clarke is trying to teach and Dustin busts in bothering everyone and Mr. Clarke tries to roll with it.  Of course, he and Cara Buono are marginalized this season and it is awful.  Dustin shows all the boys and the Red Haired Girl the Wee Kaiju and no one connects it to the Upside Down for like a while.  The Wee Kaiju escapes, they play the gremlins song, and it’s almost watchable.  Will doesn’t want the Red Haired Girl to help and she totally crushes on him.  El watches on and goes all psycho ex-girlfriend and makes her fall off her skateboard.

Will, you should really consider moving far far away and try not to date another Secular Carrie.  

Dustin finds the Wee Kaiju and hides it to keep it safe from the villagers.  Dustin — SHAME!!!!

Hop has a mini-quest and tells Paul Reiser that the rot is emanating from the lab and I guess they should check on it.

Nancy spends a lot of the episode talking about herself.  Then, she decides to spill the beans to Barb’s parents on an unsecured line.  This would be fine except for this: her mom who was all up in her business last season wasn’t even phased that she took Creeper up into her bedroom, with electronic equipment, and during school hours.

Winona also starts to believe Will is seeing a monster.

 

Will goes into the Upside Down, faces the shadow monster, and gets possessed “Supernatural” style.

All in all this season is like a chewed-on jigsaw puzzle- contrived connections and a gushy mess.

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Stranger Things 2, S2 E2, Trick or Treat, Freak; ALT Title: Halfway Happy


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Happy Halloween!!! Stranger Things 2 is in full-swing, but with some new twists like  characters behaving stupidly out of character to move the plot forward.

The episode begins with El saying, “Goodbye Mike.” *sniff*  BUT, she didn’t die after killing the Demimooregorgan! Instead of dying, she went into the Upside Down, escaped, and became feral in the Indiana woods living off squirrels and mugging hunters for their coats.  Really.  So, Yay?

Present day, she’s living with Hop who protects her by raising her in isolation.  She wants to go Trick or Treating.  Hop refuses.  Instead he offers a compromise: he’ll get home early, they’ll eat candy, and watch a movie.  Hop calls this a compromise – Halfway Happy.  With the phrase Halfway Happy, Hop encapsulates the theme of his life, her life, and our experience as viewers: Halfway Happy.

Hop is halfway happy because he gets to be a dad again- Kinda.

El is halfway happy because she doesn’t have to live as a feral monster in the woods, but is isolated from any normal life.

Mike and the boys are halfway happy because they are safe – for now.

We are halfway happy because it’s season 2 and I’m reviewing again!

Here comes the stupid:

Joyce and Hop review Will’s spider beast drawing and are convinced that it’s all in head.  WHY?!  They’ve been to the upside down.  They’ve seen monsters! Why are they incredulous?!  WHY?!

We learn that Madmax’s brother is likely wanted and an asshole.  But, I gotta write- his mullet is EPIC! Points for that!

Hop investigates more rotting pumpkins and loses track of time and misses eating candy with El.  He doesn’t believe Will’s new big bad drawings, but show him some gooey trees and he’s all in baby! I wish there were more to that subplot, but there just wasn’t.

Young Judah Friedlander is really dumb this season.  Did he get a TBI?!  He doesn’t know what words mean like presumptuous and rescues an unidentified whatever (baby demimooregorgan from his trash).  WHY?! He is somewhat popular with Madmax- good on him for that.

We learn that El has honed her skills to go into the black room by using a blindfold and thinking really hard.  Good on her for that.

Will emotes with the same face again this episode as he is harassed and put into the upside down with a shadow monster.  Also, a disappointment because the last big bad was a tangible threat out to “Suck your blood”.

Nancy is going through some growth.  She’s feeling guilty about Barb.  I didn’t think that sociopaths could develop emotions.  But, here we are – Another character that is out of character.  She gets drunk, breaks up with Steve, and gets taken home by Creeper.  The parents never wake even a little, which is out of character for Cara Buono who was up in everyone’s business last season.

I’m starting to think that this season is a transition for the creators who never envisioned this story continuing.  The first season ended like a great Beowolf Epic.  El sacrifices herself and the hope of love for her quest.  Hop goes all into redeem himself as a fallen knight for redemption.  This season, in contrast, falls flat because it doesn’t know where to go.  The monster is dead and this new one lacks suspense because he’s not even corporeal.  The Duffer Brothers might be using this season as transition to figure out a new compelling narrative- at least to think so makes me Halfway Happy.

Happy Halloween!

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Stranger Things 2: S2 E1, Madmax, ALT Title: Something Mediocre This Way Comes


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The Hiatus is Over…. Yes, your Proto Millennial has returned to bring you all the incisiv…..Oh, you wanted to read about the next season of Stranger Things….Fine!

Stranger Things season 1 tapped into the essence of predatory thrills that exist in humankind deep within the recesses of our genes like when a lion roars at the zoo and modern people freeze in their tracks.  What could have been a better way to terrify a modern audience?  Nosferatu!!! Yes, read my previous reviews.  I’m right and other reviewers are wrong.

This season The Duffer Brothers try to hook us with the same sophomore slump method that JJ Abrams employed with The Force Awakens- Let’s just throw in another lady and make the monster….bigger.

Stranger Things wasn’t horribly boring, but we’re in for solid C quality.  Buckle up and prepare to be Mildly Entertained.

We open in Hawkins… NOPE…. Pittsburgh.  Sorry, Pittsburgh sucks on it’s best day.

We see a group of punk teens robbing an…apartment building?!  Fine.  Cops give chase one of the more stolid thieves uses her Mojo to make a cop think a bridge collapsed.  So her power is Being David Copperfield *bored clap*. She then gets bloody nose and we’re supposed to give a shit- we don’t.  She also, has a tatto of 008 in her arm; I’ll call her Crazy Eight because Eight Ball is too cool for this opening.

We return to the suburbs.  Mike and all the boys head to the arcade and lament that “Madmax” now has the Dig Dug highscore. This goes on for a while and we’re supposed to care that the Madmax is girl- We Don’t.  We see that now Will’s back. During the High Score concern, Will goes outside and sees the Upside Down, but this time there’s a storm and a big spider beast coming to the town that inspires mild interest.  Will’s performance is emblematic of the season itself- not bad, not great- just meh.

Bearded Crank is waiting for Hop at the police station.  Bearded Crank re-caps about El sorta and is a paranormal investigator or some such shit.  We learn later that he’s soaking Barb’s Parents to pay for him to search for their daughter.   Hop gets a call to investigate rotten pumpkins and boy are they rotten.  That’s about it.

Winona has found love again with a porky Sean Aston.  He’s boring and cute- that covers it.

Mike has to get rid of two boxes of his toys because he’s been rebelling.  Really?! What is he wearing a paisley sweater vest?! Hey Mike, a note from your very young Uncle.  The toys should probably go.  Also, try to date a girl who can’t disintegrate you when you cheat on her with her with the waaaaay hot Graduate School R.A. down the hall in college.  Trust me.

We learn that Will has been seeing Paul Reiser a quasi-nice therapist at the Castl… I mean Evil Government Building. Will expositions that the upside down has a really big bad coming to kill everyone.  *Shrugs* After he leaves, we return to the basement where they are pruning the upside down portal with a flame thrower- Better Government Facilities and Gardens.

The episode ends with Hop having dinner with El!!! Yay, El’s alive and Hop has a daughter again!

This episode wasn’t great, but I guess if you’re at the gym and have 47 minutes to kill… Watch “Longmire” – it’s really awesome! It’s got it all!

As always, Retweet! Repost! Tell Lisa Marie Bowman that I’m worth keeping around.

 

 

 

Death Race 2050 – ALT Title: Miffed Max: Budget Road, Reviewed like a boss!


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We’ve got a great big Death Race… runnin’ through the night.  [sung]

So, the OA was ok, but just not good enough to keep anyone’s interest for my reviews.  The result: my editor took pity on me and gave my brain a rest with…..

DEATH RACE 2050

I will say this for Death Race 2050 – Manu Bennet AKA Slade Wilson can act.  It kind of got to me that he’s in a Roger Corman flick.  The other actors belonged in Roger Corman films, including Malcolm McDowell, who I always thought was a hack, but Manu Bennet really needs a new agent.

The Death Race world is a desolate shit hole with 99% unemployment; yet, we are overpopulated…. somehow.   Also, because of the over-population we need to do some culling in a very inefficient way, hence the Death Race.  We all need to NOT think about why we need such an inefficient way to decrease the population because it will ruin your guilty pleasure.  The political statement doesn’t really make sense because America is supposed to be a Corporation, but nobody works or makes anything and all we do is watch people’s homemovies.  So, America is Youtube! HIYOOOO!!!

The Death Race is a coast to coast kill spree that awards points to drivers who kill pedestrians along the way.   The Chairman who is obviously Donald Trump is the inventor of the death race.  He sees it as a good distraction for the masses who use VR to experience the carnage.  The drivers are Frankenstein – the anti-hero and reigning champion, Minerva-the rapper, Tammy- interfaith evangelist (really), Perfectus- a genetically engineered heir apparent- who is closeted, and an artificially intelligent car.   To advance the plot, every driver is paired up with a co-pilot to provide openings for dialogue and comic relief.

The anti-hero of the story is Frankenstein (Manu “Why am I doing this?” Bennet).  He doesn’t care about the craphole that the world is because he likes to race.  Annie is his Co-Pilot, but she is actually with the Resistance … DUN DUN DUN!  The Resistance is a group of angry democrats who are trying to figure out how 1) we elected a fascist and 2)how we can get people to vote in 4 years…. Wait, that’s my reality.  The race begins with a lot people getting run over and points being awarded to drivers – this goes on for about a half hour.

Then, they reach the Heartland.  These people are slightly harder to kill because they shoot back.  During this time, we learn by a lot of telling that Annie is in the Resistance and needs to kill Frankenstein, but she is starting to love him.  Also, the Resistance leader is in cahoots and the paramour of the evil Chairman.

Annie tries to set up Frankenstein as per her orders and he gets attacked by Ninjas. Ok fine, ninjas it is! He kills the ninjas and quasi-forgives Annie. They end up at a well-stocked, but unattended hotel.  Perfectus over-acts, attacks Frankenstein, and tries to come to terms with his sexuality. It’s a very fast arc.  Just as Perfectus is about to kill Frankenstein, Annie knocks him out. Annie’s gonna knock you out….I’m gonna you out. [Sung as LL Cool J].  This allows Annie and Frankenstein to begin to fall in love.  AWWWW.

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The Chairman changes the rules to keep Frankenstein on one road that is a trap. Frankenstein wins, the other racers die, and Frankenstein decides to kill the Chairman. Yep, life comes at you pretty fast in Death Race 2050.  This is not at all like Death Race 2050 BC because chariots couldn’t go that fast.  BAM!

Frankenstein runs down the Chairman and then asks America to do their own race, causing the entire population to kill each other.  This begs the point: why not do that instead of a Death Race?

Death Race 2050 had a lot of schlock for the buck.  There was loud death metal, weird cars, bewbs, Donald Trump references, and Manu Bennet.  I would say Death Race 2050 is a fine way to spend 90 minutes of your day, if you are into these films.  I don’t know if this was Grindhouse, but it’s gotta be close to the genre.   Cheers!

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