<![CDATA[Nothing To Say Here - Dave\'s Movie Reviews]]>Sat, 12 Sep 2020 08:29:45 -0400Weebly<![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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<![CDATA[Review of The Last Days of American Crime]]>Mon, 20 Jul 2020 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-the-last-days-of-american-crime
By Dave B.
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​Following terrorist attacks and rampant crime, the United States government unveils a new technology that incapacitates anyone who knowingly commits a crime. As the implementation of the technology draws near, a group of criminals plan a massive heist.
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I’m not going to waste a lot of words on The Last Days of American Crime. It’s bad. It’s horrible. Outside of “Bokeh” it may be the worst movie that I’ve ever sat all of the way through. The sole thing that this movie has going for it is a mildly interesting premise. But I assure you, that premise is a trap to lure unwary viewers into over two hours of mind-numbing drudgery. 
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​The plot is absurd. Even worse, it’s boring. Nothing that happens in the movie elicits even the slightest bit of emotional resonance. Random things happen. Random characters briefly get outsized roles without being introduced and then they are unceremoniously removed from the film. The dialogue is terrible. As in, you’ll spend the movie wishing everyone on screen would just shut the hell up. The performances are ridiculously bad, but there is no way that they could have been better considering the utterly inane script that the cast had to work with. Most annoyingly of all, the action scenes in the movie are uninteresting and unengaging. If you’re going to make a shoot-em-up heist movie, a bit of excitement would probably a good thing to have. Clearly, the makers of this film disagree.
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In short, The Last Days of American Crime is a complete disaster in every way, with absolutely no redeeming qualities. I can’t believe that Netflix actually paid money for a movie that is lacking in every possible way. They owe the world an apology for letting this movie see the light of day. Don’t spend one iota of your time watching this travesty. 
Service: Netflix
Runtime: 189 Minutes
Rating: 1.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of The Old Guard]]>Mon, 13 Jul 2020 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-the-old-guard
By Dave B.
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​Throughout the centuries, there has been a group of immortal warriors fighting on the front lines to preserve what they believe to be right and good. In the modern world, they fight from the shadows, helping where they can against an ever-increasing tide of chaos. But when a biotechnology company discovers their secret, the immortal warriors battle to protect each other from an eternity of abuse and exploitation while trying to hold on to meaning in a life that never ends. 
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Before seeing The Old Guard I assumed that it would succeed or fail based primary upon its backstory and its action. Well, the backstory was decent (if more sparse than I would have preferred) and the action was good, but not particularly unique. So in some respects, The Old Guard could have been somewhat disappointing.
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But it wasn’t. In fact, The Old Guard is legitimately good (despite being a bit overly long) because it contains a surprising amount of emotional and philosophical depth. There’s an introspective quality that permeates the film. Pain, regret, unending suffering, unendurable loneliness, and eternal love are the film’s recurrent themes. While The Old Guard is fairly bloody, the violence at times feels like an intentional afterthought, or more precisely, the action isn’t always about being as adrenaline-inducing as possible.  It often serves other purposes, such as to further the film’s main themes. For example, one of the consequences of being an immortal soldier is that you’re likely to develop a certain amount of callousness about the lives of mortals after centuries of unceasing warfare, but can still retain your empathy.
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Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that The Old Guard is some sort of genre-breaking masterpiece. As far as the quality of action is concerned, it’s no “John Wick”. It’s not even an “Extraction” or a “Villainess”. I consider The Old Guard to be more solid than spectacular. But I definitely recommend it because, as a fan of action movies, it’s good to see one that can be thought about instead of just experienced. 
Service: Netflix
Runtime: 125 Minutes
Rating: 7/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Hanna: Season Two]]>Mon, 06 Jul 2020 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-hanna-season-two
By Dave B.
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​Things have come full circle for Hanna as she’s hiding out in the Romanian wilderness again, but this time she‘s with her friend Clara who she liberated from the Utrax facility. When Clara is captured by Utrax, Hanna will stop at nothing to save her. But Utrax’s offer to it’s young assassins has become more compelling and Hanna and Clara find themselves torn between true freedom and a seductive illusion of it. 
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After the first season of Hanna, it was clear that the series would need to take a different direction. A coming-of-age story isn’t something that is suitable for multiple seasons in this genre. And the cinematography in Season One was inconsistent, at best. Season Two makes some clear improvements. For starters, the mood-setting in this season is phenomenal, helped by a very well-crafted soundtrack.  Hanna as a character has come into her own and her confidence and independence are refreshing. 
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However…this season of Hanna has some MAJOR problems. The pacing, at times, is terrible. This is the unfortunate result of decisions that were made when trying to correct the above mentioned problems from the Season One. For example, instead of just improving the fight/action cinematography, the decision was made to not have many fights or action sequences. When they happen, they’re decently entertaining. But they are so few and far between that the show becomes a slog at times. And while this season is no longer a coming-of-age story for Hanna, it kind of is for the rest of the girls in the Utrax program. That means lots of dialogue, with little forward momentum in and between episodes except at the very beginning and very end of the season. And frankly, the plot this season doesn’t work for me. The stakes never feel important and while poor decision-making isn’t rife, it’s used too often as an easy way to further the plot.
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In some ways, Hanna: Season Two is definitely superior to the preceding season. And the skill with which mood and tone are set make the show bingeable. But the pure entertainment value of this season is way down and for that reason, I can’t recommend it. I’ll still watch a third season if there is one because I still see the potential in the show, but ultimately, I question what the point of Hanna is. A low-stakes, non-entertaining, quasi-spy thriller isn’t a genre that is high on my personal list of things to watch. 
Service: Amazon Prime
Episodes: 8
Approx. Episode Length: 50 Minutes
Rating: 5.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of The Fare]]>Mon, 29 Jun 2020 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-the-fare
By Dave B.
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In The Fare (2019) a cab driver on a desolate desert road picks up a lone woman. After a few minutes of conversation, she inexplicably vanishes. Then time seemingly resets and the cab driver repeats the same sequence of events, with no memory of what has previously occurred. Eventually the cabbie, Harris, begins to remember earlier versions of the time loop. As he works with his passenger, Penny, on finding a way out of the loop, they begin to form a close bond. But all is not as it seems. Penny has a secret that lies at the root of Harris’ predicament.
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I have mixed feelings about The Fare. Some aspects of it are quite good. The central mystery at the heart of the movie is definitely engaging. It’s interesting enough to keep viewers watching, but not so absorbing as to cause us to overlook the developing relationship between Harris and Penny. Because most of the movie takes place in a taxi cab, it’s necessary that the film be strong in both plot and character development and The Fare generally succeeds at both of these. Science-Fiction/Mystery/Romance is not a genre mashup that I usually watch, but when I do, I often get bored because those movies often have an overreliance on predictable tropes and two-dimensional characters. The Fare does not have these problems. 
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But…the romance and tragedy at the root of The Fare are soooo romantic and soooo tragic, that they failed to connect with me. To my mind, there’s a limit on how “star-crossed” star-crossed lovers can be without the romance feeling either farcical, overly-sappy, or both. The Fare surpasses that limit. Good performances, decent dialogue, an engaging mystery…none of those things made up for the fact instead of the movie making me feel like my heartstrings were being pulled, it instead made me feel as if I were being emotionally manipulated. 
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Ultimately, the question boils down to whether or not I recommend The Fare. And the answer is “yes”, although it’s more of a tepid recommendation than a resounding one. I really enjoyed the first 90% of the film. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I didn’t overly mind the final 10% of it either. But there’s a lack of subtlety and nuance near the end of the film that is off-putting. As a brief diversion, The Fare is fine. But it stumbles across the finish line instead of crossing it triumphantly, which is more disappointing than it would have been if the film had been a failure throughout. 
Service: Currently on Amazon Prime
Runtime: 82 Minutes
Rating: 6/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045]]>Mon, 08 Jun 2020 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-ghost-in-the-shell-sac_2045
By Dave B.
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Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 (Netflix), finds most of Major Kusanagi’s team working in the United States as mercenaries. When they are absconded by a secretive branch of the American government, they discover the emergence of the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced. At the behest of their American allies, Japan reconstitutes Section 9 the team is all that stands between the world and utter ruin. 
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I was a big fan of the original Ghost in the Shell series “Stand Alone Complex”. It combined unique tech-philosophies with solid animation and slick action. As a sequel, SAC_2045 utterly fails to match it’s predecessor in any way. The overriding problem with SAC_2045 is the character animation. Frankly, it’s awful. Just awful. It’s so bad that I nearly refused to watch any further than the first episode. The background animation is solid, but that’s little comfort when most of the characters’ faces have the emotional range of mannequins. 
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The plot is also problematic. What made “Stand Alone Complex” so compelling is it’s intellectual and philosophical depth. That’s largely missing in SAC_2045, at least through the first half of the season. Once the existential threat is introduced, the plot’s pace picks up and there’s a greater examination of the societal impact of the world’s pervasive (and invasive) technology. But frankly, the story takes much too long to develop. 
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On the positive side, most of the action sequences are good. The English dub voice cast from “Stand Alone Complex” is back and remains top-notch. And once the threat is finally revealed, it’s powerful enough, and interesting enough, to have been worth the wait for the reveal (almost). Those without any prior exposure the Ghost in the Shell universe may have some initial trouble understanding who is who and what is going on, but for the most part, the show is written well enough that new viewers should catch on to the broad strokes pretty quickly.
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Overall, SAC_2045 is a huge disappointment, but it’s rarely actively bad. The animation style is not something I will ever like, but I can tolerate it when a show is good enough and SAC_2045 is (just barely and due to a strong second half). There will certainly be a second season of this show (with that kind of cliffhanger ending, there damn well better be!), and I’ll give it a chance. This season of SAC_2045 doesn’t stand alone well, but it’s clear that the show is trending in the right direction and season two could be closer to standards of high-quality storytelling and engaging philosophy that fans of the Ghost in the Shell are accustomed to. 
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 12
Approx. Episode Length: 24 Minutes
Rating: 5.5/10
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<![CDATA[Premieres 2020: May 29 - June 4]]>Thu, 28 May 2020 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/premieres-2020-may-29-june-4
By Dave B.
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"Premieres" will feature official trailers and synopses from what I feel looks like the most interesting (or the only, in some cases) original programming coming out in the subsequent week on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and elsewhere. In no way to these previews represent recommendations or reviews. My intent is to post this segment each Thursday or Friday, but we'll see. Enjoy!
Space Force - Netflix, May 29
Synopsis:
"​A decorated pilot with dreams of running the Air Force, four-star general Mark R. Naird (Steve Carell) is thrown for a loop when he finds himself tapped to lead the newly formed sixth branch of the US Armed Forces: Space Force. Skeptical but dedicated, Mark uproots his family and moves to a remote base in Colorado where he and a colorful team of scientists and 'Spacemen' are tasked by the White House with getting American boots on the moon (again) in a hurry and achieving total space dominance."
Ramy: Season Two - Hulu, May 29
Synopsis:
​"​The series follows first-generation, Egyptian-American Ramy Hassan (Youssef) who is on a spiritual journey in his politically-divided New Jersey neighborhood. RAMY brings a new perspective to the screen as it explores the challenges of what it’s like to be caught between a religious community who believes life is a moral test, and a millennial generation that doubts an afterlife even exists. In the second season, Ramy delves further into his spiritual journey, finding a new Muslim community and embracing a deeper commitment to his faith."
The Vast of Night - Amazon Prime, May 29
Synopsis:
​"​In the twilight of the 1950s, on one fateful night in New Mexico, a young, winsome switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and charismatic radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever. Dropped phone calls, AM radio signals, secret reels of tape forgotten in a library, switchboards, crossed patchlines and an anonymous phone call lead Fay and Everett on a scavenger hunt toward the unknown."
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<![CDATA[Premieres 2020: May 22 - May 28]]>Thu, 21 May 2020 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/premieres-2020-may-22-may-28
By Dave B.
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"Premieres" will feature official trailers and synopses from what I feel looks like the most interesting (or the only, in some cases) original programming coming out in the subsequent week on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and elsewhere. In no way to these previews represent recommendations or reviews. My intent is to post this segment each Thursday or Friday, but we'll see. Enjoy!
The Lovebirds - Netflix, May 22
Synopsis:
"A couple experiences a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery. As their journey to clear their names takes them from one extreme — and hilarious — circumstance to the next, they must figure out how they, and their relationship, can survive the night."
Homecoming: Season Two - Amazon Prime, May 22
Synopsis:
"The critically-acclaimed series Homecoming returns for its second season with a fresh new mystery and an exciting new star, Janelle Monáe.  Her character wakes in a rowboat adrift a lake, with no memory of how she got there — or even who she is. Her ensuing search for identity will lead her into the heart of the Geist Group, the unconventional wellness company behind the Homecoming Initiative.
The second season finds Stephan James reprising his role as Walter Cruz, who is trying to build a new life following the traumas of war and the Homecoming Initiative, when he begins to realize that there’s an even more insidious version of the program underway – if only he can remember. Hong Chau returns as Audrey Temple, an anonymous underling at Geist who finds herself thrust into unexpected positions at the top of the corporate ladder. Joining the cast for season Two are Oscar-winner Chris Cooper as Leonard Geist, the company’s eccentric founder; and Emmy-winner Joan Cusack as Francine Bunda, an equally eccentric military woman."
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