<![CDATA[Nothing To Say Here - Dave\'s Movie Reviews]]>Sun, 10 Jan 2021 13:02:03 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Review of Alice in Borderland: Season One]]>Sun, 10 Jan 2021 16:06:41 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-alice-in-borderland-season-one
By Dave B.
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As a slacker and his two friends hide from the police in a Tokyo train station bathroom stall, an odd event occurs. They emerge from their hiding place and discover that everyone in the station, and the city, has disappeared. As the friends navigate an abandoned Tokyo, they stumble across a series of games that test their teamwork, intelligence, physical abilities, and loyalty. They quickly discover that the cost of losing is death and non-participation is not an option. As they struggle to escape and discover the purpose behind this new reality, their bonds of friendship are tested and they learn the truth of themselves that they hide from the world.
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Alice in Borderland isn’t going to win any awards. It’s moderately predictable, the performances range from mediocre to good, and there are more than a couple of times where the actions of characters don’t really make much sense. Plus, if you object to near-constant violence, this show is likely not your cup of tea. All that said, if you can make it through the first 15 minutes of the first episode, Alice in Borderland may become one of your favorite recent “guilty pleasures”. 
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​Unlike many shows that are highly bingeable, Alice in Borderland doesn’t rely on cliché cliffhangers at the end of every episode to keep viewers thirsting for more. Instead, it combines intensely emotional (and tragic) situations, compelling mysteries, and pervasive violence to keep viewers constantly on the edge of their seats and thirsting to know what will happen next. Alice in Borderland effectively plays upon the emotions of viewers to make them care about what happens to characters who are trapped in a situation that nearly defies comprehension. Plus, for those who may be turned off by extreme violence, it should be noted that while the carnage often seems random, it’s not excessively gory and is nearly always clearly in service of furthering the show’s plot.
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In short, Alice in Borderland is fun, engaging, and once you finish it, you’ll be wishing that the season was twice as long as it is. I HIGHLY recommend this show. It’s brutality is leavened with a deep-seated sense of humanity, compassion, and understanding of the human condition. This show may not be for everyone, but for those who make it through the first episode, you’re in for a hell of a ride which I’ll almost guarantee that you’ll love. A second season has already been confirmed and I for one can’t wait to fall further under Alice in Borderland’s spell when it’s released.
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 8 (dubbed)
Approx. Episode Length: 45 Minutes
Rating: 8.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Wonder Woman 1984]]>Fri, 25 Dec 2020 21:59:33 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-wonder-woman-1984
By Dave B.
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​Princess Diana has spent the decades that have passed since the WWI helping people as she can, but while doing so, she’s closed herself off from the world, emotionally. When a magical wish-granting stone is discovered, Diana must choose between saving the world from those who would abuse the stone’s power, or holding on to the only thing she’s ever truly wished for. 
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I intentionally passed on reviewing the first Wonder Woman movie, not because I didn’t like it, but because, despite liking it, I felt that it wasn’t as good as most people thought it was and I didn’t feel strongly enough about it to bother defending my opinion. With Wonder Woman 1984 (WW84), I may be in the minority opinion again, but in the other direction. That’s because WW84 is better than its predecessor in some important ways. 
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Most importantly, a smaller cast of significant characters makes WW84 more approachable in that it allows viewers to develop attachments to characters without overly spreading their emotional energy. I cared more about what happened to our heroes an hour into this movie than I did throughout the entirety of the first film. The performances in WW84 are also better. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are solid, as expected, and Pedro Pascal is good. But Kristen Wiig’s performance stands out. She makes Barbara Minerva even more of a relatable and sympathetic character than she was already written to be. WW84 also contains a sense of awe and joy that is infectious. Some of the most wonderous parts of the movie are watching Steve (Pine) walking around learning about a seemingly miraculous future. 
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That said, there are some flaws with WW84. For starters, it’s long. Specifically, it’s about 20 minutes too long. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to watch this movie at home, because if I had seen it in a theater, I would have started getting antsy at the two hour mark. That’s not because the movie is bad, but it’s occasionally unevenly paced and, more than occasionally, a bit absurd. For example, I’m pretty sure that flying an airplane through fireworks is such an obviously bad idea, that no one in their right mind would actually do it. I’m also not a fan of the 1980s. Seeing it glamorized always sets my teeth on edge considering how awful it was for a lot of people. Many who watch this movie will be too young to remember the 1980s, but I’m not, and outside of some of the music, the decade generally sucked in every conceivable manner. And perhaps most annoyingly of all, WW84 doesn’t feel complete, despite its lengthy runtime. There are loose threads, especially involving what happens to the “villains”, that make the film feel less than satisfying. There’s no cathartic payoff and that’s a problem considering the time investment required to watch this movie and the emotional investment that this movie seeks to garner. 
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All in all, WW84 is good. It’s better than the original. But it’s definitely not great. I wouldn’t have felt as if I had wasted my money if I had seen it in a theater, but I’m glad that I had the option not to do so. Is this movie worth spending a few hours of your day in front of a screen? Sure, why not. You’ll likely enjoy most of it. But you’re also unlikely to be blown away by any part of it.
Service: HBO Max
Runtime: 151 Minutes
Rating: 7/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Travelers: Seasons One through Three]]>Tue, 15 Dec 2020 19:57:26 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-travelers-seasons-one-through-three
By Dave B.
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Far in the future, with humanity on the brink of extinction, specially trained teams journey to the early twenty-first century to reshape the flow of history so that the cataclysms that led to such a wretched future never come to pass. These Travelers have their consciousnesses implanted into individuals moments before they were historically recorded as dying and receive orders from the future to carry out large and small tasks that are designed to help humanity’s development. But history is not necessarily easy to change. Will the Travelers succeed at forging a new path for humankind? Or will they discover that all of their efforts are in vain and that human destiny can’t (or shouldn’t) be changed?
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Normally, I would review each season of a multi-season show, individually. However, with Travelers (2016-2018), there’s not much fundamental difference in quality between the show’s three seasons. And in a lot of ways, that’s a good thing. Travelers feels very much like a “Netflix algorithm” show (such as the lackluster first season of “Another Life”). Don’t get me wrong, Travelers is far superior to “Another Life” in nearly every way: it has decent writing (especially for having a plot that revolves around time-travel), relatively strong performances, and some truly heartfelt moments that help to create an emotional connection with the show and its various characters. But there’s a cliffhanger-y quality to Travelers that, despite making the show wonderfully bingeable, also can make it feel as if the show uses cheap tricks to foster a sense of addiction. I can live with that, but it’s not exactly a desirable trait.
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There are two aspects of Travelers that are more problematic for me. For starters, despite being fairly well-written from a character development standpoint, from a time-travel consistency point of view, Travelers is often lacking. I still maintain that the only show or movie that I’ve seen do time-travel well on a consistent basis is “Future Man”. The issue is that for time-travel (and especially for changes to timelines) to make sense, they have to be extremely well thought out ahead of time. Travelers too often gives the impression that it is making up rules and consequences on the fly. That may not bother some people, but it annoys the hell out of me. 
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An even bigger issue is that the main team sent back from the future to make changes to the past is often completely unprofessional and incompetent. In reality, sending such unqualified people on missions of such import would insane. The fact that their fundamental incompetence is used to drive such large parts of the story is nearly infuriating and detracts from what is otherwise a pretty good show. If your plot movement relies primarily on the near-constant ineptitude of what is supposed to be a highly-trained team of professionals, that’s a problem.
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Overall, Travelers has more positive than negative aspects, but the things about it that bother me hit all of my particular sci-fi pet peeves. My enjoyment of the show basically required me to not think about the show while watching it. But since I did enjoy Travelers for the most part, I am going to recommend it. The characters and character development in the show are strong enough to offset my issues with the plot construction and evolution. If you’re looking for a time-travel focused sci-fi show to binge watch, you can do much worse than spending your time on this one. 
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 34
Approx. Episode Length: 45 Minutes
Rating: 6/10
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<![CDATA[Review of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion]]>Fri, 27 Nov 2020 17:18:47 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-the-fresh-prince-of-bel-air-reunion
By Dave B.
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​Ordinarily, a reunion show is not something I would have any interest in. I prefer looking forward to looking back. But, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of the few shows that isn’t science-fiction or fantasy, that I have any nostalgia for. Plus I was bored, so I decided to make an exception for this reunion and I’m glad that I did.
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Despite fond memories of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I had forgotten how funny and formative the show truly was. The reunion helped me to remember. More than once, I was literally gasping for air from laughing so hard after being reintroduced to some of the show’s funniest moments. The reunion also has more than a few poignant moments, as the cast recalls some of the social issues that the series tackled and that are still relevant today. The reunion does an excellent job of making the case that The Fresh Prince is one of those timeless shows that will continue to have social relevance in the future. Most moving is the cast’s remembrances of the late James Avery (Uncle Phil) who passed away in 2013. By all indications, he positively and significantly impacted the lives of his fellow castmates and their grief at his loss feels deeply genuine. 
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Surprisingly, my biggest problem with this reunion is Will Smith. While he’s charming and inoffensive, the power differential that’s an inevitable result of his superstardom, subtly permeates all of the interactions between him and the former cast. This is especially true during his private discussion with a “surprise” guest. I have no doubt that there is genuine love between the former cast members, but too often, the reunion feels like how I would imagine having family dinner with a billionaire sibling would feel: you’re glad to see them, but their success naturally would make things awkward and it would be difficult to hold them to account for anything for which they didn’t want to be held to account.
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​Overall, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion is an enjoyable walk down memory lane. Fans of the show won’t regret spending time on it, although it falls juuuuuust below something that is a “must see”. It also serves as more evidence that, as far as content is concerned, HBO Max is far and away the best streaming service (it’s user interface and general availability are other issues entirely, however). Have I changed my inclination to avoid reunion shows? Not really. But if more of them are crafted with as much care and respect for the fans as this one is, I might consider giving a few more of them a chance in the future. 
Service: HBO Max
Episodes: 1
Approx. Episode Length: 75 Minutes
Rating: 7/10
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<![CDATA[Review of The Queen’s Gambit]]>Sun, 08 Nov 2020 18:25:17 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-the-queens-gambit
By Dave B.
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When her mother is killed, young Beth Harmon is sent to an orphanage in Kentucky where she encounters the two things that will most impact her life: chess and tranquilizers. As Beth gains fame for her brilliant and bold chess game, she spirals deeper and deeper into a drug and alcohol fueled darkness that threatens to destroy her career and her life. 
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​At a minimum, a show about the world of chess needs to make audiences feel that the matches are intense and compelling. The Queen’s Gambit more than succeeds at this. In fact, one of the strengths of the show is that it makes chess seem fun, exciting, and high-stakes. I fully admit that I’ve been playing a lot more chess since watching this show. 
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​Another of the show’s strengths is the cinematography. The Queen’s Gambit is gorgeous to behold. Each shot is crafted with care and really helps viewers feel what Beth is feeling. That quality is further helped by the show’s greatest strength: the performances. Specifically, Isla Johnston who plays Beth as a child, and Anya Taylor-Joy who plays Beth when she is older, are both absolutely fantastic. Beth is an odd and deeply troubled person, but Johnston and Taylor-Joy make her feel completely relatable and sympathetic. The Queen’s Gambit would not be half as enjoyable as it is, without their stellar performances.
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That said, The Queen’s Gambit isn’t perfect. It’s pacing isn’t always great, which while slightly annoying, is not a deal-breaker for me. Also, it didn’t make sense to me that tranquilizers would improve a person’s performance at chess. At times, that makes that facet of Beth’s addiction feel a bit gimmicky. A bigger issue however, is that The Queen’s Gambit is extremely predictable. Very few surprises occur and the path of Beth’s life and career follow templates that have been done over and over in other rise-from-the-ashes stories. There’s never really any doubt about how things will turn out, which is what keeps The Queen’s Gambit from being truly great. 
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​Overall, The Queen’s Gambit is entertaining, compelling, interesting, and I highly recommend it. With breakout performances and the care with which the show is shot, any viewer (regardless of their opinion of chess) can find something to love about The Queen’s Gambit. It’s absolutely worth your time to check out this show and I hope that, if you’re on the fence about doing so, you give this surprisingly good show a chance. 
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 7
Approx. Episode Length: 55 Minutes
Rating: 7.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Dave: Season One]]>Mon, 02 Nov 2020 17:32:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-dave-season-one
By Dave B.
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Dave is the fictional account of real-life rapper Lil Dicky’s (Dave Burg) journey to prove he’s the best rapper alive. With his eccentric group of friends, Dave awkwardly navigates the rap world while coming to grips with his insecurities. But as Lil Dicky’s fame and success grow, he finds himself struggling to find a balance between his personal life and his dreams. 
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I was initially hesitant to watch Dave. The premise just didn’t seem particularly interesting to me. But a friend suggested it and I promised to give the show a chance. I ended up accidentally binge watching the entire season in a night. Dave isn’t perfect, but it has moments where it’s truly hilarious and it contains a surprising amount of depth when dealing with the various relationships of the characters or issues such as mental health. At times, Dave is genuinely moving. 
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That said, Dave can also be terribly unfocused and uneven. There are times when its humor is so juvenile and disgusting that the show can be uncomfortable to watch. Dave is strong when Lil Dicky is having genuine interactions with his friends in slightly absurd situations. But there are instances where the character Lil Dicky is excessively self-centered and fundamentally unlikeable due to a lack of self-awareness. Given that one of the bases of Lil Dicky’s actual career is based on self-awareness and self-deprecation, the times where he is an oblivious jerk feel as if they happen solely to advance the plot instead of feeling organic. This leads to the show being tonally discordant, at times. 
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But overall, Dave is one of the more pleasant surprises that I’ve had since I started doing reviews. It’s ribald humor certainly is not for everyone, so my recommendation is not wide-ranging. But I do recommend it, nonetheless. Many of those who give this show a chance will find themselves drawn into Lil Dicky’s quest to be the world’s greatest rapper. Despite my initial reluctance to give Dave a chance, I’m looking forward to Season 2.
Service: Hulu (FX)
Episodes: 10
Approx. Episode Length: 25 Minutes
Rating: 6.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of The Babysitter: Killer Queen]]>Wed, 07 Oct 2020 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-the-babysitter-killer-queen
By Dave B.
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The Babysitter: Killer Queen (sequel 2017’s “The Babysitter”) takes place two years after the original and finds the protagonist, Cole, as a high school junior who is ostracized by his peers and thought insane by his family. The reason? Despite his harrowing fight for survival against the blood cult, there’s no evidence supporting that anything untoward took place. When his family finally tires of Cole’s unwillingness to recant his account of events, they plan on having him institutionalized. Upon discovering this, Cole flees with his best friend to a boathouse where he hopes to clear his head and come up with a plan. But Cole’s past catches up to him when the cult, revived from the dead and assisted by new acolytes, again come hunting for his blood.
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In my review of the original “The Babysitter”, I noted that despite finding the movie distinctly unfunny, it’s redeemed somewhat by strong performances, good energy, and a moderately interesting concept. Killer Queen is almost the exact opposite: the humor largely works, but very little else does. Part of the problem with this sequel is that the charismatic energy between Samara Weaving (Bee, the babysitter) and Judah Lewis (Cole), is absent due to the two not sharing a scene for most of the movie. A bigger  problem is that, whereas the coming-of-age elements in the plot of “The Babysitter” showed some intelligence and heart, the writing in Killer Queen (which is more focused on Cole discovering his place in the world as he approaches “manhood”) is clearly lacking in both creativity and effort. 
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Despite being weaker in many ways than it’s predecessor, the saving graces for Killer Queen are that it it’s genuinely funny (at times), it never takes itself seriously, and it offers a satisfying conclusion to a story that I had initially thought ended just fine. A campier, sillier sequel is acceptable, so long as that’s the intent of the film, and in this case, it clearly is. 
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Overall, The Babysitter: Killer Queen succeeds where the original fails and fails where the original succeeds. For that reason, like its predecessor, this movie will not be receiving my recommendation. However, if you enjoyed the “The Babysitter”, I think there’s a decent chance that you will at least appreciate Killer Queen. So even reluctant fans of the original may find some value in turning off their brains for a bit and relaxing with some gory fun.  
Service: Netflix
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Rating: 5.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Doom Patrol: Season One]]>Sat, 08 Aug 2020 17:04:09 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-doom-patrol-season-one
By Dave B.
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​Isolated from the world around them, a group of enhanced metahumans bands together to rescue their leader from an evil that can rearrange the fabric of reality itself. But before they stand a chance of defeating the powerful Mr. Nobody, they must find a way to overcome their ingrained mistrust others while battling their own ever-present personal demons. 
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I had no idea what to expect when I decided to watch Doom Patrol. Mostly, I expected a slightly quirky, but fundamentally standard superhero story. I’ve never been more pleased to be completely wrong. It’s important to know that this show is not for children, at all. That said, Doom Patrol is unquestionably one of the best television shows of 2019. It’s weird, wild, and wonderful in every way. Doom Patrol does not consist of stereotypical heroes. Through various tragedies, a Hollywood starlet, a military test pilot, a girl with multiple personalities, and a race car driver find themselves with incredible (although often dangerous and/or disfiguring) superpowers. Saying that they were “normal” people before their transformations would be a stretch, but they were all relatable due to their flaws and their suffering. 
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The writing in Doom Patrol is filled with depth, humor, and most importantly, compassion for the main characters. That compassion is the show’s most powerful feature because in the hands of lesser writers, the main characters could have been intensely unlikeable because… well, because they are aren’t always the best people and they often behave in very selfish ways. But with each episode, viewers discover why these heroes are the way that they are and watch them struggle valiantly for personal growth and redemption. Action and humor are plentiful, but Doom Patrol’s primary focus and strength is creatively conveying character development.
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For 14 episodes, Doom Patrol was on pace to get a score of a perfect 10 from me, but it dropped the ball in the finale. While the last episode was certainly weird and wild, it was distinctly not wonderful. The narrator fully admits that it functions as red meat to fans of more traditional superhero fare. In my opinion, a television show can still theoretically receive a perfect 10 if it has a single episode that’s noticeably worse than all of the other episodes, because the score is not saying that something is flawless. It’s saying that the impression that the show left on me is ideal. But by relatively flubbing the last episode, Doom Patrol added a feeling of mild disappointment to what otherwise was an overwhelmingly positive, even joyous journey.
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Despite the disappointing ending, Doom Patrol: Season One is definitely a must-watch show and provides an excellent incentive to give HBO Max a try. It was one episode away from being the second best television show that I’ve ever reviewed (behind “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season Two”). For various reasons, lot of people won’t give Doom Patrol a chance, but if you do, I promise that you will not regret doing so.
Service: HBO Max
Episodes: 15
Approx. Episode Length: 55 Minutes
Rating: 9.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of The Umbrella Academy: Season Two]]>Sun, 02 Aug 2020 17:34:47 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-umbrella-academy-season-two
By Dave B.
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The second season of Umbrella Academy finds the siblings separated after their narrow escape from Season One’s apocalypse. They’ve each landed at different points in time in early 1960s Dallas, Texas. As they try to reunite, they soon discover that they haven’t avoided doomsday, at all. It’s followed them into the past. 
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Many of the elements that work in Season One are maintained and continue to work in Season Two: a great soundtrack, brisk pacing, and the eccentric personalities of the siblings are all welcome carryovers. Plus, a toning down of the occasionally ultra-frenetic energy of the first season is welcome; it helps to make a more coherent, cohesive plot. Solid special effects and beautiful scenery make both seasons of Umbrella Academy beautiful to behold. From a plot and production perspective, I daresay that the second season is superior to its earlier iteration. But…
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Look, I understand that different people deal with stressful and traumatic situations in a variety of ways, some of which are seemingly irrational. But the Umbrella Academy siblings may be the most self-centered, self-serving, self-defeating group of humans that have ever survived a crisis. That wasn’t such a bad quality in the first season. It made them interesting. But after everything that they’ve been through, having those same personality traits persist in the characters is often annoying. I get it. You had a rough childhood. You fell in love with someone. Yada, yada, yada. The fate of the world is at stake (again) and most of the main characters experience almost zero personality growth for most of this season. Some viewers won’t mind that, but I often found it grating. 
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In nearly every measurable way, Umbrella Academy: Season Two is better than Season One. But I don’t like it as much. Because most of the main characters experience little fundamental personality growth for most of the season, their actions and reactions are often depressingly predictable. That’s not to say that I don’t like Season Two, because I do. But I can’t say that it represents a vast improvement over the initial season. Here’s hoping that Season Three shakes things up a some more by having the siblings grow up a bit. 
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 10
Approx. Episode Length: 48 Minutes
Rating: 7.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Transformers: War for Cyberton, Chapter One: Siege]]>Fri, 31 Jul 2020 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-transformers-war-for-cyberton-chapter-one-siege
By Dave B.
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The Autobots and Decepticons are reaching the final stage of a war that has ravaged their homeworld. The Autobots are on their last legs. When they learn of a Decepticon plan to decisively end the war once and for all, they throw the last of their resources into a desperate gamble that may save their race, but destroy their species. 
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​I had high expectations for Siege when I found out it was being produced by Rooster Teeth, the studio behind the marvelous series, RWBY. Rooster Teeth has a reputation for interesting animation and fantastic storytelling. Siege largely lives up to my expectations. 
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While I wouldn’t necessarily call the animation quality great, it’s incredibly detailed and has lots of bright colors to break up the overwhelming gloom of war-torn Cybertron. The action sequences are also usually decent. Overall, from a visual perspective, I would say that Siege is solid with occasional moments of being somewhat impressive. Where Siege truly shines, however, is in it’s storytelling. Lots of people are relatively familiar with the general background of the Transformers universe: a civil war devastates the Transformers’ homeworld, and the Autobots flee to keep from being wiped out. What Siege excels at, is filling in the details about how and why the war came to be and how the Decepticons gained the advantage in it. Basically, the conflict started as a class/race war, where the Autobots, despite being the heroes, are not blameless for the conditions that led to the war, by any stretch of the imagination. In other words, the Decepticons are presented in a more sympathetic way than they ever have been in any other Transformers movie or television show. 
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​I don’t have any significant complaints about Siege, but at times it had trouble holding my full attention. Part of that is because I’m familiar with the outlines of the story so, despite the increased depth of storytelling, the plot was predictable. This isn’t a new take on Transformers; it’s a more in-depth telling of an existing story. Further, the pacing isn’t always great. There’s a bit too much unnecessary conflict among allies and foolish decision-making for my taste. While not egregiously common, the occasional overly convenient and fundamentally ludicrous decisions of some of the characters don’t seem plausible and evoke more of a mild eye-roll than a feeling of excitement and intrigue.  
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Overall, Transformers: War for Cybertron, Chapter One: Siege is a good, but not great addition to the Transformers universe. What that means is that it’s far superior to any of the live-action movies. What would push the remainder of the trilogy into the “great” status, is telling a story in the Transformers universe where we aren’t already aware of what the result will be. Chapter Two may indeed head in that direction. I look forward to it’s release so that we can find out!
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 6
Approx. Episode Length: 24 Minutes
Rating: 6.5/10
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