The Suggestion Box #90: Hitmen, and Dragons, and Necromorphs, Oh My!

Wondering what to do with your upcoming free time? Good thing we have some suggestions for what you should be watching, playing, reading, listening to, etc.

Ben’s Movie Pick: Shoot ‘Em Up Few action flicks are as thoroughly entertaining – or utterly bonkers – as Michael David’s insanely underappreciated feature, Shoot ‘Em Up. Clive Owen plays “Smith,” a man with a knack for stylishly taking out gun-toting thugs and a newfound responsibility of protecting a baby from a hitman (Paul Giamatti – my favorite of the great leading trio) and his army of goons. Smith quickly enlists the help of a prostitute (Monica Bellucci) to help keep the newborn safe, and all kinds of creative carnage ensues. Shoot ‘Em Up‘s story isn’t what makes the film great though; it’s the aforementioned action and dark humor that make it a genre gem in my book. Each gunfight is more ludicrous than the last, with each being expertly choreographed, shot, and backed by an awesome soundtrack. At times it almost feels like an R-rated Looney Tunes, and not just because of Smith’s fondness of carrots. All in all, you probably won’t enjoy Shoot ‘Em Up if you like your action flicks on the more grounded side, but if you enjoy films with over-the-top, self-aware craziness, then put it on your watchlist A.S.A.P.

Lauren’s TV Pick: The Legend of Vox Machina Season 2 – With the quest for vengeance aimed at the super sexy necromancer + vampire power couple that was the Briarwoods behind them and the shadow of a variety pack of four ancient dragons on the horizon, the threat to Exandria has definitely escalated far past the members of Vox Machina in this second season. To staunch the decimation of the cities of Tal’dorei at the claws of this overpowered Chroma Conclave, the party must put the adventuring back in the name and embark on a journey across the map to not only level up their gear with godly weapons and armor, but add a +1 to their emotional and psychological fortitude as their shortcomings, storied sore spots, and insecurities are laid at their feet each step of the way. Nothing says experience points like confronting the myriad of ways the members of this team fear themselves to be inadequate, am I right? With an arc that likely spans 150 hours of D&D at the Critical Role table, the makers of The Legend of Vox Machina continue to impress with how well they parse down the gameplay that inspires these animated episodes, somehow managing to continue to maintain the heart of the stories even as so much more than Sam’s sponsored ad reads, struggles with math, and bargaining with the DM during combat – we saw that jab at Marisha’s overwhelmed spell juggling, Scanlan – must be trimmed to form these 26-30 minute segments. Nothing truly feels lost; if anything, all our favorite moments, dynamics, and bits of character growth just keep getting better and better.

Ben’s Video Game Pick: Dead Space (2023) – The Dead Space remake takes the scariest video game I’ve ever played, one that I’ve experienced in its entirety more than any other, and makes it even more incredible. Though Motive Studios only made changes to refine and elevate what already worked in the outstanding original, they somehow managed to create something that was able to frighten and surprise me all over again, with the new AI director’s randomized encounters and jumpscares keeping me on my toes when backtracking through the bloody halls of the USG Ishimura to find previously inaccessible resources. The addition of unobtrusive side-missions flesh out the characters, story, and lore of the Dead Space universe while encouraging exploration, if you’re brave enough to volunteer for bonus opportunities to witness the “peeling” system, a visual health bar of sorts to enemy limbs that helps players know where their limited ammunition would be most effective to use. Lastly, Motive reframes and retools a few key moments from the original game, often giving them even more of an impact than before. As someone who’s seen the last big story moment from Dead Space nearly twenty times, the fact that it was able to catch me somewhat off guard all over again is astounding, and just another piece of brilliance that helped me fall in love with Dead Space all over again.

So what do you think about these picks? What content did we miss over the past two weeks while we were spending time with these? Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know about everything (both current and simply new to you) you’ve been consuming lately!

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