The Last Three Weeks of The Walking Dead Were Terrible


 

The Walking Dead title card

I have a love hate relationship with The Walking Dead, so much so that I’ve banked on this joke three times now. At its best the show effortlessly creates incredibly suspenseful horror with the perfect blend of human emotion and moral ambiguity to pull at your heartstrings, but at its worst it’s a logically frustrating show that loses focus from time to time. Normally the show would find ways to keep drawing me back in, either through high-energy finales or hanging story arcs waiting to be resolved. However these last three episodes of season four may have finally pushed me over the edge, so much so that it’s stirred me out of my two month writing hiatus to try and explain to myself what went wrong. I’ve found nothing but high praise for these last three episodes of Walking Dead and I’ve begun to question my own critical compass. So consider this not a review, but a public plea for help to understand why these last three weeks of The Walking Dead were terrible.

Fair warning the following paragraphs are going to be discussing The Walking Dead in detail with spoilers. If you aren’t caught up with the most recent episode of The Walking Dead then I suggest you skip this until you have watched through the mid-season finale.

The problems with the last three episodes of The Walking Dead can be traced back to last season. Season three had its moments but it was often weighted down with the task of introducing a new cast of characters in Woodbury, specifically the main villain, the Governor. It also didn’t help that the show ambitiously decided that this new cast was strong enough to hold up entire episodes on its own, which didn’t turn out to be the case. Despite the talents of David Morrissey, I never felt the show ever developed the Governor as much as they think they did. I always felt that we were told more about his evilness more than we were shown (save for his treacherous interaction with Maggie) and I only felt like the Governor was ever a big deal because he was a big deal in the comics (which could also be said about Tyreese). Sure, decapitated walker heads in a fish tank isn’t exactly a sign of wholesome goodness, but it’s not exactly evil either. Sure, keeping zombiefied love ones is also weird but isn’t that what Herschel did with like twenty of his family members back in the barn?

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Maybe my memory is failing me but I’m having a hard time coming up with memorable scenes where the Governor acted with pure malice instead of just his own sense of retaliation and justice.* In ways there were few differences between Rick and the Governor and I never felt convinced for this evil reputation the show promised but never delivered. However, I looked past it and decided to buy what they were selling, mainly because the show was still entertaining when it wanted to be. A season of back and forth blows between Rick’s prison group and the Governor’s Woodbury group was seemingly leading to an all out war to end the confrontation between the two. However, the finale was nothing short of unsatisfying, wasting a lot of built up energy that fizzled out with nothing much changed. In the end the Governor was left alive, albeit alone and on the run.

* I’m currently in the process of rewatching all of The Walking Dead and I’m specifically going to track the progress of the Governor with a more critical eye in regards to the show’s ability to create a convincing villain.

This loose Governor plot line hung over the series’ fourth season like a dark cloud. I had many conversations with friend stating that I would be entirely okay with the Governor staying away from the show as long as possible. The Governor’s only real strength was his golden voice and the fact that he had already amassed a following willing to do his bidding. Now that he was alone and exposed for the untrustworthy person he was he had nothing to fight back with. The only way he could serve as a potential threat to the prison group is if he somehow found a new group of mindless followers, or became a super villain capable of taking on the prison who clearly out numbers him. The former option would feel too much like a reset of last season and the latter ultimately ridiculous even for a show about the walking dead.

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However the fourth season seemed to be headed in the right direction. Focusing on the aftermath of the supposed ‘war’ with Woodbury we saw a new prison group working hard to restore a sense of society. A much more calmer Rick turned farmer grappled with his demons and shied away from the gunslinger he once was. The season opener posed the question how far is too far-gone and do we get to come back from the bad things we’ve done? This narrative theme held together an impressive string of five episodes that dealt with an entirely new type of threat that the group hadn’t faced before. A fast moving flu virus outbreak began to plague the prison and set off a chain of events that introduced us to a lot of great stories. New characters were introduced, old favorites were tested, and we ultimately received one of the best episodes of The Walking Dead has seen with Internment. There were a lot of plot lines setting up for interesting conflict among the group. Daryl and Bob were at ends after the incident involving the alcohol, Tyreese was on a war path looking for Karen’s murderer, the prison was left in shambles from flu, and of course the awaited reaction from Daryl after Rick’s decision to let Carol go was on the horizon. The half season could have ended here and I would have been entirely happy with these five episodes instead of what was still to come, but unfortunately the show’s dark cloud couldn’t stay away forever, coincidentally answering its own question posed in the opener.

Coming to a complete halt, season four shifted its entire focus from the prison to the Governor in the sixth episode. My initial reaction was indifferent but after some mulling over I began to warm up to it. Despite the series once again banking on its overconfidence in the strength of a new cast to anchor a whole hour, the episode was able to inject a little more humanity into the Governor than we ever saw last season, even if it did beat you over the head with its symbolism. I actually liked this version of the Governor more than the one we got last year and I actually cared more about his exploits. Realizing his mistakes we saw the Governor try to turn a new leaf, start a new life, and become a better person. It was an interesting way to handle this character and it mirrored the story line we were watching unfold with Rick. I wasn’t fond of the vacation slideshow like progression of the characters, especially the forced love angle between the Governor and Lilly, but even still I was prepared to eat crow for my doubt in the return of his character. That is until the show decided that it wanted to go back on the work Live Bait had started and give us back the super villain like Governor in Dead Weight.

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So it turns out the Governor can’t change who he is and returns to the psychotic killing machine we knew before in Dead Weight. Not that big of a deal but it meant we were entering the first scenario of the Governor’s return that I feared. He brings Lilly, her daughter Meghan, and Tara to a new group run by his former partner Martinez. When Martinez unexpectedly dies (at the Governor’s hands), the next in line to step up is Pete. Then after Pete unexpectedly dies (also at the Governor’s hands) the Governor steps up to take charge of the group. I find it hard to believe that in roughly 48 hours two deaths go unquestioned and the group willfully allows this mysterious newcomer to take charge of the camp. Especially if we take into consideration that Pete’s hot headed brother Mitch knows the Governor killed Pete. Yes the Governor’s power is his golden pipes of persuasion but getting this peek at how he amassed such a following like he did the first time around is like finding out that the force is dictated by a person’s midichlorian count. There are some things better left unexplained. The biggest crime of all is the fact that Dead Weight leaves the previous episode Live Bait ultimately feeling pretty useless. Why spend the time making an argument for a changed Governor just to do away with it the very next episode? It’s a frustrating way to lay foundation for this big Governor return and it only gets worse.

Too Far Gone takes the cake as far as The Walking Dead blunders go. After two weeks of being singularly focused on the Governor we finally make a visit back to the prison and try to pick up right where we left off, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a little too late. The episode tries to rekindle the energy left hanging on the line by shoe horning in moments that didn’t feel nearly as impactful without the proper build up. Rick’s confrontation with Daryl lost the impact it once had after this two-week hiatus. Bob and Daryl didn’t get the time it needed to hack out their differences and Tyreese’s outrage is lazily paired with the almost forgotten rat plotline that doesn’t seem to matter anymore. These little plot lines feel rushed in favor of the Governor vs. the Prison round two in a last ditch effort to make up for last year. However, Too Far Gone is filled with so much annoying frustration and logic that it boils down to nothing more than hollow action. It had its exciting moments but in the end this finale is even more frustrating than the season before it.

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Rallying at the prison fences the Governor calls out to Rick with a small militia and tank at his side. He’s captured Herschel and Michonne and is giving them until sundown to vacate the prison. Despite holding all the cards, Rick pleads with the Governor and his people to take the civil way and share the prison. Although he makes a convincing argument, delivered wonderfully by Andrew Lincoln, the Governor calls Rick a liar and slashes through Herschel’s neck with Michonne’s katana instigating the war.

The Walking Dead is no stranger to dealing deaths to characters that are fan favorites but for a character I loved so much, a character that delivered a powerful performance in Internment, a character brought to life by that amazing talents of Scott Wilson, I felt nothing for the death of Herschel. Instead I was only annoyed by the show’s mishandling of all the emotional build up wasted from the first five episodes in an attempt to bring back a Governor who had long out stayed his welcome. Herschel deserved better than that and the show made a huge mistake not capitalizing on the energy built up from Internment. On top of that, the death of the Governor isn’t even that satisfying. Michonne delivers a heavy blow by stabbing the Governor in the back while he was busy strangling Rick, but instead of finishing the deed Michonne walks off leaving the Governor to lie on the ground.

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It’s not the group we cared about getting to deal the final blow on the Governor, but Lilly who hadn’t even been a factor until these last two episodes. I get that it was suppose to be a big moment for Lilly since apparently she and the Governor were in love, but when the show only took an episode to establish this love it seems like the wrong person got revenge especially when the characters the Governor impacted way more suddenly didn’t care to finish the Governor off for good. Oddly it seems fitting that the writers were so unsure who got to finish the Governor that he gets passed around like the confusing character he was so that everybody gets a piece of him. In the end the Governor left the show much like he reentered it, meaningless and trying too hard to be symbolic.

I’ll concede that the virus storyline may not have been the flashiest string of episodes that The Walking Dead has ever done but it at least made sense narratively and worked well together. Slamming on the brakes to insert the return of the Governor disrupted so much of the season that it questions what exactly the show was trying to accomplish. Was keeping the Governor alive and well last season worth bringing him back for just three more episodes? One of which didn’t matter, and the remaining two that felt like nonsense. The only way the Governor even convinced his camp to take on the prison was by lying to them and telling them that the prison group were murders that could not be reasoned with. It was them who deserved the protection of the prison walls and it was theirs for the taking. However, even after Rick pleads with them to take the civil way and live together, basically offering entrance to anyone of them who wanted to go in, the group still blindly follows the Governors orders to kill them all. They damage the fences, they blow up the concrete walls, and they attract more walkers to the place that they’re supposedly trying to take over for their own protection.

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Where was the logic in that? Why did no one besides Tara decide to listen to reason and realize that the Governor was insane and power hungry? As a whole they were basically faceless characters whose only purpose were to serve as a weapon for the Governor to wield against the prison in this season three reset. It was a huge mistake calling on them to hold up entire episodes on their own, especially when the show isn’t exactly known for it’s great character development. If they were so dead set on this Governor story than why not weave it in and out with the first five episodes to fill out the season? It would have at least been more effective paralleling Rick’s character. Both Rick and the Governor were two sides of the same coin and it’s interesting to see the different paths they took. At least in this way we still get the emotional build up from the virus arc all while knowing that the Governor is slowly stirring against the prison. The inevitable wrath of the Governor paired with the almost insurmountable threat of the virus would have created so much drama and suspense for our beloved group at the prison that it would have been more satisfying. Herschel’s death wouldn’t have felt all for naught and the powerful performance’s that the actor’s gave would have been complimented nicely with good story telling. Despite Too Far Gone being the finale we deserved last season, there was nowhere near the same amount of energy leading up to the conflict like there was last year even without its payoff. It’s such a shame that the show seemed so focus on correcting last season’s wrongs that it hurt this season even more. Instead The Walking Dead should have listen to the advice Rick gave to Carl. Don’t look back. Just keep walking.

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The simplest answer to why these last three episodes of The Walking Dead were terrible is that different people have different opinions and ultimately it’s just a TV show, but the discussion is what makes it fun. So what’s your take on season four so far? Are you happy with the way things have turned out or are you close to calling it quits as well? The only thing keeping me coming back for the second half of season four is the fact that the Governor is finally gone and the hope that Scott M. Gimple and the rest of The Walking Dead crew can pick up the pieces from here. This constant cycle of starting strong and finishing weak is getting old and it won’t be long before The Walking Dead is too far-gone.

The Walking Dead’s second half of season four returns to AMC on February 9th, 2014!

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @TreyRSolis
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

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World War Z


Summary:

World War Z is tense suspenseful, and ultimately thrilling.  The biggest factor going into this movie is the viewer’s ability to separate the novel from film, especially given that the similarities between the stories only exist in name. World War Z definitely doesn’t break new ground, but it gets enough right to be really satisfying for those who still appreciate the genre. The look and behavior of the zombies can be a little humorous, and the limits of the PG-13 rating really makes the film lose some of its bite. Brad Pitt provides a wonderful depiction of a family man caught in this chaotic turmoil and is supported by a wonderful cast of characters. The film’s third act may leave an abrupt and hollow end but if you can look past it World War Z delivers on solid summer action.

Being familiar with the source material, I was pretty apprehensive about the initial trailers for World War Z. It became increasingly clear that the only thing that movie and novel had in common was the name and nothing more. The movie seemed singularly focused on one man where as the book was a recollection of many stories from many different people all over the world during the zombie war. Setting aside my feelings for the book though, the movie still looked like it was shaping up to be a solid flick, and with any luck, hopefully the start of successful franchise that would be able to deliver on more of the stories that made World War Z as popular as it is. Regardless of the future of the World War Z franchise, the movie pleasantly caught me off guard and proved to be a rather enjoyable film.

World War Z

World War Z tells the story of a retired United Nations employee, Gerry Lane. While caught in traffic with his wife and kids, the family finds themselves trapped amidst the chaos of a random outbreak in Philadelphia. Barely escaping the city thanks to the aide of Gerry’s former UN colleague, Thierry Umutoni, Gerry is forcibly recruited to investigate the emergence of this mysterious disease and travel from country to country in hopes for the creation of a cure that will turn the tide of the zombie war.

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Tense, suspenseful, and ultimately thrilling, the movie wastes no time getting straight to the action and rarely lets up. The first and second acts of the movie are incredibly strong and kept me glued to the screen. World War Z reminded me a lot of the movie Contagion, only with a bigger emphasis on the action. The rapid pacing of the World War Z doesn’t give it quite the same level of intrigue that I enjoyed with Contagion, but what it lacks in details it compensates wonderfully with great summer action. Brad Pitt’s focus as the family man is enjoyable and gave emotional weight to his character. The supporting cast is solid as well, if not a little underused. The biggest problems with the film are its chaotic pacing, unintentional humor, and finally a lack luster third act.

The third act isn’t necessarily bad, especially given the incredibly thrilling laboratory scenes, but it does have story problems. There seems to be a narrative switch in the third act of the movie that completely forgets about the first two. This abrupt change is not noticeably jarring, however it became more evident as I mulled the movie over. I wouldn’t necessarily call it movie breaking, but it did leave me questioning if that was it, and a general overall feeling of hollow resolution story wise. It’s hard to continue without getting into some minor spoilers so readers beware of the following paragraph.

General Spoilers regarding the genre, as well as a minor location Spoiler

My biggest problem with the third act is that it falls victim to the archetypes found in most pandemic movies where a revolutionary cure is discovered by the main character in a deus ex machina fashion. Having the main character as merely an investigator on the search for the origin of the outbreak was much more interesting than focusing on one man saving the world, and I couldn’t help but noticed the switch after mulling over the movie.  From the beginning of the third act the search for ground zero takes a backseat and is quickly forgotten for the remainder of the movie. It’s easy to forgive though especially when some of the most incredibly tense parts come from this section of the film. Without getting too detailed it’s set in a W.H.O. research facility where Gerry and a few others navigate a maze of laboratories that have been infested with the infected.

End Spoilers

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When it comes to zombies there’s always the old debate between fast running zombies and slow shuffling zombies. The book focused on the slow shuffling zombies and really played up the psychological fear of an enemy who never tires, and never stops, where as the film focused more on the super strong, super fast set zombies who are more capable of bluntly overpowering. Even though I prefer the psychological fear of the slow moving zombies, I still didn’t have much problem with the depiction of fast moving zombies in this film and for the most part it works. Although it’s hard to not roll my eyes at the mass of zombie coming together to create a tidal wave of bodies or a human ladder capable of climbing over huge walls, I still enjoyed the zombies for what they were.

Based on the trailers I feared that the movie would feature nothing but CGI zombies but thankfully the film does contain more intimate horror scenes where the zombie are depicted by actors in costume and make up. However, it is unfortunate that the look and behavior of the zombies produces a fair amount of unintentional laughs and the constant clicking of their jaw is more humorous than intimating. Finally, given the film’s PG-13 rating it’s ultimately limited on what it can do regarding the deaths of the people and zombies. A lot of death is handled just off screen and is rather tame. I’m surprised that The Walking Dead TV series gets away with a lot more gore and blood than World War Z, which can be a little disappointing given the nature of the genre.  Ultimately the movie feels like it loses a little bit of its bite thanks to the limit of its rating.

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World War Z definitely doesn’t break new ground, but it gets enough right to be really satisfying for those who still appreciate the genre. As far as the book goes it, I feel like it’s easy to consider the movie a sort of spiritual prequel to the book with minor details changed at least that’s how I’ve reconciled my feelings between the two mediums. Admittedly my expectations were low but I walked away from this one really happy with the way things turned out. If the movie turns out to be successful enough to warrant sequels I welcome them with open arms and look forward to more stories told in this war against zombies.

World War Z is tense suspenseful, and ultimately thrilling.  The biggest factor going into this movie is the viewer’s ability to separate the novel from film, especially given that the similarities between the stories only exist in name. World War Z definitely doesn’t break new ground, but it gets enough right to be really satisfying for those who still appreciate the genre. The look and behavior of the zombies can be a little humorous, and the limits of the PG-13 rating really makes the film lose some of its bite. Brad Pitt provides a wonderful depiction of a family man caught in this chaotic turmoil and is supported by a wonderful cast of characters. The film’s third act may leave an abrupt and hollow end but if you can look past it World War Z delivers on solid summer action.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

Snitch


Snitch is a straightforward movie that works hard on its character development. The movie is more of a slow burner than an action packed film, which creates a lot more impactful action and gives a great sense of urgency for the main characters. The cast is solid, save for a few scenes of awkward line delivery. Dwayne Johnson’s relatable performance is enjoyable and worth rooting for. Co-star Jon Bernthal is easily the standout from the crowd and provides emotional depth to the film. Overall, Snitch is entertaining, thoughtful, and moving. There’s an overall loose feel to the movie that prevents the movie from being highly praised, but it does enough to still be a good movie.

For the most part I’ve always been a sucker for father son stories. This aspect is why the movie, Snitch, was appealing for me. I’ve never paid too much attention to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movies but this one looked great and I was interested to see how everything would play out.

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Snitch tells the story of a father, John Matthews, who is forced to go into the drug business after his son is mistakenly charged with distribution of illegal drugs. If John Matthews can inform on local drug dealers than he can significantly reduce his son’s jail time.

Despite it’s advertising, Snitch is more of a slow burner family drama than an action packed film. The movie takes its time setting up its characters and story while letting the audience breathe. The pacing can feel a bit odd at times but I was able to look past it given the movie’s great characters. The downside is given the amount of time the movie takes you’d expect a little more impact and closure than the movie provides when all is said and done. Just when the climax starts to heat up things seemed to take an abrupt end and I felt like the ending came off as rushed. The father son aspect of the story felt a little under played and I feel as though the movie functioned more as a glimpse into the drug world as well as its consequences than an examination of the relationship between the father and son.

The action is very subdued in this movie and relies more on tension build up than explosive firefights and car chases. The movie’s calm pacing helps create such a great contrast that when the action scenes do heat up things feel so much more exciting, and since we’ve spent enough time getting to know the characters the action has more meaning. I really enjoyed the way the pacing played out in this movie and the balance between drama and action works great.

Snitch’s strongest aspect is easily its characters. Dwayne Johnson portrays a family man with a lucrative construction business who is faced with a difficult task of getting into the drug world to save his son. Johnson’s performance is relatable, and shows a great deal pain and frustration. It’s a different change of pace not seeing Johnson as the in control action star that we’ve grown accustom to given his repertoire, but it does work.  Some of his line delivery can be a bit awkward but overall I really felt for his character and was entertained by the acting.

Although Johnson gives a solid performance, co-star Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) ended up stealing the show for me. Bernthal portrays Daniel James, an ex-con who is trying to turn his life around for his family after being twice convicted with distribution. Bernthal provides a lot of the emotional depth in this film and I found myself so much more invested in his character and family. Bernthal gives an extremely strong performance and my only complaint is that there wasn’t enough closure with his story. He does a great job of portraying his reluctance and showing genuine willingness to turn his life around. His actions felt so much more powerful given the wonderful acting on his part.

Snitch features a wonderful cast who give solid performances. There are a few actors who I felt took me out of the movie from time to time, but it’s nothing drastic. Michael K. Williams and Barry Pepper were also a few other great notable mentions that helped make the film as entertaining as it was. I really liked the relationship between John Matthews and Daniel James and it is interesting to watch things unfold on screen as their different intentions begin to clash.

The film was an overall pleasant surprise that delivers as an entertaining family drama with a hint of action. There are a few instances where I found my suspension of disbelief tested. For instance, when John Matthews enters a drug dealers operation they never once searched him for weapons or a wire. These little details like this in the movie that could have been fixed had things been tighter  but luckily these mistakes aren’t enough to break the movie. There’s an overall loose feel to the movie which prevents the movie from being highly praised.

Snitch is a straightforward movie that works hard on its character development. The movie is more of a slow burner than an action packed film, which creates a lot more impactful action and gives a great sense of urgency for the main characters. The cast is solid, save for a few scenes of awkward line delivery. Dwayne Johnson’s relatable performance is enjoyable and worth rooting for. Co-star Jon Bernthal is easily the standout from the crowd and provides emotional depth to the film. Overall, Snitch is subtle, thoughtful, and moving. There’s an overall loose feel to the movie that prevents the movie from being highly praised, but it does enough to still be a good and entertaining movie.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

Movie Monday Update Week of November 26th


Hello and Happy Monday TC readers! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday! We got a big batch of movies being released this week to retail as well as a couple new movies at the theater but first let’s take a look at some of the cool new trailers last week!

In case you missed it:


A trailer for The Host was released last week. The Host is based off a book of the same name that was written by Stephanie Meyer, who of course is well known for The Twilight Saga! The Host opens up March 29, 2013!


A trailer for the movie Snitch also released last week, which features Dwayne Johnson, Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead), Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire), and Susan Sarandon. Snitch is shooting for a February 22, 2013 release!


Finally we have another trailer for Jack the Giant Slayer, which stars Ewan McGregor, Nicholas Hoult and Stanley Tucci. Jack the Giant Slayer is set to release on March 1, 2013!

That does it for movie trailers this week, let’s take a look at what’s coming to retail stores.

Coming to Blu-ray/DVD we have:

November 27th

November 30th

Coming to Theaters this week we have:

November 30th

See anything that’s missing? Comment and let us know!

That does it for this week! Be sure to keep coming back every Monday and Saturday for new Thinking Cinematic content!

As always, I want to end with this. Thinking Cinematic is looking for more writers. Feel like sending in a guest post? Want to be apart of the Thinking Cinematic team? Send your emails to: Rrsolis@me.com

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic