Pew-Pew: What Do Lasers Actually Sound Like?

Image: Gif from video by Cameron Geddes
SoundmodoIn this Gizmodo series, we find out what things sound, sounded, and would sound like.  

If you’ve ever watched a science-fiction movie, you might think you know what lasers sound like: some variation of a noise you could write as “pew.” But, you’ve used a laser pointer, right? Did it go “pew”?

Powerful lasers do make sounds—but they’re not “pew” and they don’t come from the light itself. Instead, the noise comes from the equipment that generates the laser light or the interaction between a laser beam and an object.

First, let’s discuss what a laser really is. Matter is made of many atoms, around which there are electrons. Electrons can only exist in certain locations around those atoms, called energy levels. If you excite an electron with energy, it will jump to a higher energy level. Some time later, it might spontaneously jump to a lower energy level, causing the atom to emit a particle of light, called a photon. But rather than wait, you can also stimulate the emission yourself by hitting the laser with more properly tuned photons. The result is a tight beam of photons with synced-up electromagnetic fields. Lasers are devices that produce light based on this principle.

Modern lasers typically consist of some electrical source providing energy to a crystal placed between a mirror and another mirror that allows some light through. Light bounces back and forth between the mirrors and through the crystal, stimulating the emission of the crystal’s photons, which exit through the partial mirror. Other optics, power sources, and more crystals further tune the shape, duration, and power of the laser pulse.

But sound is produced by vibrations through air, not by light. A beam of laser light itself does not make any noise.

Producing laser beams can still be a noisy operation, though. The high-voltage power supply to laser pulses can make clicking noises, as shown in this video of scientists producing pulses using the powerful BELLA laser in Berkeley, California. The European XFEL laser, the brightest source of x-rays in the world, is extremely loud—but visitors are actually hearing the whirring of machinery and the flow of water through the setup, which cools the equipment.

Additionally, European XFEL is driven by a particle accelerator, which is further cooled by liquid helium. That requires compressors in order to reach cold temperatures, generating a loud machine sound.

The beam interacting with various mediums can also create noises. In the first half of the video above from the BELLA laser team, you can hear a static clicking sound. In this case, a laser is traveling left-to-right across the screen and is focused into a 20-micrometer-wide beam, generating an electric field strong enough that it forces electrons off of atoms in the intervening space. This generates a plasma that expands with a faster velocity than the speed of sound in air, creating a shockwave and the accompanying sound. It also changes the optical properties of the air, creating the colored ring and flashes projected onto the far wall.

A high-energy laser pulse striking material can also produce a loud noise. At the Biomedical Laser and Optics Group of the University of Basel in Switzerland, researcher Ferda Canbaz shines a powerful laser against bone, generating vibrational energy and noise as it chips away material. And in the video of the BELLA laser from Wim Leemans, you hear a loud boom—this is a shockwave produced by blasting energy into an unexposed black polaroid.

So, no, today’s lasers typically don’t make “pew” sounds. But perhaps the deafening shock wave is a more realistic way to represent today’s lasers’ incredible power.

Source: Kotaku.com

Jack Reynor is Midsommar’s awful boyfriend, but your new favorite film critic

With Midsommar, Jack Reynor (Sing Street, Transformers: Age of Extinction) has become the frontrunner for the worst boyfriend ever committed to film, but his life online paints an entirely different picture. He’s set up a ramshackle “Movie Club,” posting spurts of film criticism to an Instagram account that’s solely devoted to movies ranging from Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing to Ken Russell’s The Devils.

Reynor’s side gig is so captivating because it seems to be motivated purely by love of the medium. There is no #ad content pumping through the veins of “Jack Reynor’s Cinemania,” no tie-ins to his own work, no discernible theme to the movies that are picked for discussion beyond simply enjoying those particular films. And far from remaining remote from the people who choose to tune in, Reynor seems intent on engaging. One of the earlier posts (the account was started in February of this year) features Reynor lying in a pile of DVDs and Blu-rays. The caption invites feedback, including how to make, of all things, the page more interactive.

“I set up the Instagram because I love talking about cinema and I watch so many films,” Reynor explained in an interview with Polygon leading up to Midsommar’s release. “That’s all I do, really, when I’m at home, I’m sitting there and I’m watching world cinema or movies from whenever,” he said, noting that it was sometimes difficult to find people with similar tastes and interests to engage with in real life. “I wanted to set this up for people who are interested in a broader culture of cinema than just franchise movies and Netflix, and to just start some conversations with people.”

The curated nature of the account makes it tenable for the actor, who quit Twitter in 2017 and even now calls the platform “totally fucking toxic.”

“[Twitter] is gross, and it would make me very, very anxious, especially towards the end of my time on it,” he said, adding that he’s mindful to keep anything on Cinemania strictly related to movies, and that he finds running the account rewarding as a result.

Reynor admits he started Cinemania for practical reasons “It gives me something to do when I’m not working,” he said. “If I was to come off of [Midsommar] and have nothing to do, it would be really bad for me. Doing write-ups on my Instagram, it gives me something to do during the week and I really enjoy it, and I have deadlines to meet with the Movie Club on there.”

The Movie Club — which has Reynor running Instagram Live sessions every so often to discuss movies in realtime — is also expanding into a podcast, of which Reynor has already recorded two episodes. They’ll be hour-long episodes, each featuring a filmmaker or actor, and Reynor plans on releasing them once he’s built up a backlog. Until then, we’ll have to make do with the occasional live video.

Check out Jack Reynor’s thoughts on the more spoilery parts of Midsommar later this week.

Source: Polygon.com

Rainbow Six Siege Adds New Showdown Mode And Map For Free

Ubisoft has revealed a brand-new limited-time mode for Rainbow Six Siege. The mode, named Showdown, is out now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Showdown is a new 3v3 game type that takes place on a new map designed specifically for the mode. The map, Fort Truth, is a “small size, outdoor map” that has a distinct wild west theme.

The mode only allows the BOSG 12.2 shotgun and the Magnum LFP586 revolver. You can also choose from a smaller selection of Operators than traditional Siege modes: it’s three of Maverick, Ash, Twitch, Capitao, and Glaz up against a trio from Alibi, Kaid, Caveira, Maestro, and Rook.

To tie in with the mode, a new selection of Alpha Packs are available, named Showdown Packs. Each one costs 300 R6 credits and will grant you a number of 31 new exclusive customization items.

Showdown is live now and runs until July 16. For more on the Tom Clancy game, check out everything we know about the new Rainbow Six Siege Operators, Nokk and Warden.

Source: GameSpot.com

The 23 Marvel movies of the MCU Infinity Saga, ranked

If Avengers: Endgame is the conclusion to an unprecedented, in-continuity run from Marvel Studios, this month’s Spider-Man: Far From Home is the coda. Over the course of the “Infinity Saga,” story arcs kicked off, wrapped up, and were tabled for use down the road. Characters were born in comic-book-origin-story fashion, then killed off in all their glory. There were jokes that only had punchlines six sequels down the line and callbacks to moments no one could have predicted. Far From Home grapples with everything that’s been and everything that will be in Phase 4, a true aftermath story that’s as breezy as the best summer movies.

But while Marvel movies run the gamut of genre and flavor, which ones rank the best in the end?

There was an idea. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, the Polygon staff, to see if it could produce … a list. See if it could work together when the Marvel-loving audience needed them, to fight the battles of ranking each individual “Marvel Cinematic Universe” movie. So we did that.

Below, you’ll find the 23 MCU canon films ranked from worst to best. Go forth, and at the end, consider grabbing shawarma.

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for every Marvel movie, including Spider-Man: Far From Home]

iron man 2 donut shop scene Marvel Studios

23. Iron Man 2 (2010)

The first MCU sequel became notorious for rolling through production without a finished script. Even after the heavily improvised Iron Man left Jeff Bridges fuming, director Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., and writer Justin Theroux (yes, the star of The Leftovers) mapped out most of Iron Man 2 on the fly. Unfortunately, whatever happened the first time didn’t happen again: Tony Stark’s second outing is a glue-and-popsicle-sticks creation with inert action and flirtatious relationship with the Demon in a Bottle arc. It’s almost shocking how one-note the movie is, when compared to the precision storytelling that’s defined the MCU over the years.

Let’s just say a lot has changed in the nine years since Iron Man 2 maxed out Tony Stark’s worst quirks. His hyper-smooth dialogue and womanizing ways are cringey, and Favreau’s direction fails Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff when stacked up to her continued work in the franchise. Though Mickey Rourke grunts and whips his way through a fun scene at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, the set pieces mostly stop there. There’s no scene-setting for Rhodey and Tony’s drunken fight in the Stark compound. The MCU world-building with Nick Fury is forced and endless. The finale with War Machine is a blur. Iron Man 2 is like watching some goofballs steal your action figures for two hours and throw them in the mud. For better or worse, Kevin Feige never let this type of ragtag blockbuster style happen on his watch ever again. —Matt Patches

the incredible hulk mcu Universal Pictures/Marvel Studios

22. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

So, OK, Louis Leterrier’s parkour-laden Hulk movie isn’t a total slam dunk, but it’s the kind of movie where, the more I think about it, the more I’m like, “Well, maybe it was good?” Here’s what it’s got going for it: Ed Norton makes a pretty good Hulk, Tim Blake Nelson is terrific as a proto-Leader, the Hulk sequences are kinda scary, and Tim Roth’s whole bit as a villain is basically “I’m afraid of growing old.” The finale devolves into CGI soup and the movie is less than the sum of its parts, but those parts are commendable. And it’s still embraced as part of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe, unlike Eric Bana’s Hulk, which serves as a foundation for this not-quite-a-sequel. —Karen Han

thor (2011) Marvel Studios

21. Thor (2011)

The first Thor movie isn’t quite Masters of the Universe-level committed to trapping fantasy characters on Earth for budgetary reasons, but hesitation is there. The origin story quickly kicks Thor to Earth to deal with SHIELD politics, become enchanted by Jane Foster, and protect the people of New Mexico from the Destroyer. Director Kenneth Branagh was an obvious choice to give the Asgardian tale some Shakespearean heft, but instead of challenging the material, his canted angles and epic sensibilities flatten it out. The movie has saviors: Chris Hemsworth (hilarious, even here, throwing coffee mugs on the ground), Natalie Portman (every bit as alive and romantic as Margot Kidder in Superman), and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki (just menacing). The trifecta wouldn’t last, but their chemistry here is worthy. —MP

thanos in avengers: infinity war Marvel Studios

20. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

With the grand finale of the Infinity Saga, the MCU followed a Hollywood trend. Just like Harry Potter, Twilight, the Hunger Games, and The Hobbit, which squeezed three movies out of a 300-page children’s book, Infinity War opted to be part one of two. Those films all suffer from pacing issues, drawing out scenes that don’t move the plot forward, inserting unnecessary set pieces, and/or leaving entire plotlines unresolved, and as much new ground as Thanos’ story demanded, Infinity War still suffers from those issues.

None of the heroes in Infinity War complete any sort of character arc, and the big snap moment — a gut punch — dissipates in the memory. Infinity War is flashy and fun because Marvel movies are flashy and fun, but it exists to conjure splash pages and set up Avengers: Endgame. As time passes, the film plays like a three-hour inciting incident that cross cuts between characters we want to spend an entire movie with. We respect Infinity War more than we enjoy it. —Emily Heller

thor the dark world Marvel Studios

19. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

The thing to understand is that Thor has always been good. He’s always been a big sweetie with a good sense of humor, it’s just that it’s been a little hard to see past the faux-Shakespearean quality of Asgard. I’ve read the arguments against Thor: The Dark World, I’ve carefully reconsidered my stance, and all I have to say is that the annals of history will vindicate me when I say that, even while a lesser MCU movie that chases Game of Thrones hype, The Dark World is not boring or bad. The science is zany, the high fantasy is goofy, the family dynamics are genuinely touching, and Chris Hemsworth is making early plays at his rightful title as The Best Chris. —KH

doctor strange 2016 ending Marvel Studios

18. Doctor Strange (2016)

The Sorcerer Supreme’s debut is the epitome of middle-of-the-road-at-worst quality that Marvel Studios has consistently been able to produce. But despite some truly unique visual design and a few strong performances, the creative forces behind this origin story fail their most fundamental test: Making Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange likable or interesting. We know it’s possible — just look at his extended cameo in Thor: Ragnarok — but ultimately the MCU’s Doctor Strange is like his comic book counterpart in one too many respects, for now. He’s historically been much better in guest appearances than his solo ones. —Susana Polo

avengers: age of ultron ending Marvel Studios

17. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

After basking in the glow of the Avengers first combined fight, Joss Whedon delivered the grungiest of the team-up movies. The opening splash shot is aggressive and jarring, a Saving Private Ryan D-Day sequence for superpowered combos. The adventure whisks the heroes around the map to fight terrorism, robotic clones of the Hal 9000-esque Ultron, and in the case of a brainwashed Hulk, themselves. The only breath of air is also one of the finest moments in the series: the Avengers lounging at Stark’s pad, drinking, palling around, and trying to pick up Thor’s hammer. Bliss.

Whedon pushes every visual and narrative idea to a breaking point, then soaks the remains in a brownish hue that, after the Phase 3 run, looks like the anti-Marvel. Everything wrong that gets smashed together in Age of Ultron — down to the corny-yet-sinister timbre of James Spader’s robot voice — is also why the movie’s better-than-expected in retrospect. Age of Ultron would have made a great mini-series. —MP

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ending Marvel Studios

16. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is bigger and messier than its predecessor, but that’s not an entirely bad thing. The entire MCU is built on the idea of found family even more than it is everyday heroism, and the Guardians movies are the most explicit — and most effective — in this regard. Vol. 2 reveals Peter Quill’s lineage as the son of Ego, a Celestial played by none other than Kurt Russell. But it’s Yondu, the blue buccaneer who actually raised him, and who truly cares for him, while the motley crew of so-called guardians are his real family. It’s a sweet movie, and cameos from Michelle Yeoh and Sylvester Stallone as space pirates don’t hurt. —KH

Ant-Man 1 (2015) Marvel Studios

15. Ant-Man (2015)

After a creative squabble between Edgar Wright, announced in 2008 as the director of this movie, and Marvel, Peyton Reed (Bring It On) took the reins and wound up delivering the quirkiest standalone in the franchise. There are some prickly issues people have with this movie — why anyone would sideline Wasp, one of the original Avengers, when you have Evangeline Lilly, built to tear through bad guys, is beyond comprehension — but as a high-flying heist movie with a sense of humor, Ant-Man more than carries its weight. Paul Rudd is perfect casting: he’s a schmuck with a heart, and the right scream to make shrinking down and almost being hit by a Thomas the Tank Engine model sound like true life or death. A breezy time, sure, but a plucky score (one of the few memorable soundtracks in the MCU) and character actors galore makes this installment the full package. —MP

captain america: civil war Marvel Studios

14. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

The movie, perhaps accurately described as Avengers: Disassembled, is a necessary step in the larger Infinity Saga and, in retrospect, mostly serves to lay the groundwork for the big pieces delivered in Infinity War. Civil War gives us the first look at both Black Panther and Spider-Man, and one of the best — certainly the most fan-service-y — action sequences to date. The airport battle stages brilliant choreography, giving every character a moment to shine, be fierce, and show off personality. But in retrospect, the movie feels more like moving chess pieces to set up something bigger. Zemo, the villain, is clever in that his defining characteristic is having no special powers whatsoever, but his master plan is helped by some surprisingly accelerated tears in the Stark-Rogers relationship (with credit to Age of Ultron for laying that track). Civil War had the Sisyphean task of breaking up a mostly cohesive team within a two-and-a-half-hour runtime. It was a rocky journey, but at least it was great eye candy. —Ross Miller

ant-man and the wasp - half-size in middle school scene Marvel Studios

13. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

In a feat of shrinking and enlarging, Ant-Man and the Wasp did more of everything that was good about its predecessor and less of everything that was bad. The movie is more tonally consistent than Ant-Man, more inventive, and even makes you more interested in its characters, heroes and villains.

Perhaps the least “superheroic” of the MCU, the movie bounces from mundane locations (offices, a house in the woods, a marina), has a subplot about running a small business, and no one is asked to save the world, much less the local metro area. Still, all the Quantum Realm talk is sci-fi catnip and the heist-style action creates a whirlwind; director Peyton Reed’s bigger-small-bigger car chase through the streets of San Francisco matches laughs and thrills. If we were ranking the MCU movies on how funny they are, it’d be in the top three. —SP

captain marvel - brie larson and samuel l jackson Marvel Studios

12. Captain Marvel (2019)

The MCU formally introduced Carol Danvers on the heels of half a dozen origin stories about the central (male) cast of the Avengers. Captain Marvel doesn’t do much to disrupt the typical superhero formula, but instead shows that yes, this formula works for the most power person in the galaxy, a woman, too. Aside from a few nods to the Tesseract, this one stands on its own without much prior MCU knowledge, a beaming portrait of trauma, recovery, and understanding wound around an intergalactic conflict. The exploration goes down easy with Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson in the cockpit, their easy banter throwing back to buddy cop movies of a bygone era. Captain Marvel also subverts the typical arc of a female hero by having Carol find her strength through ugly, unladylike emotions of rage, anger, and pettiness. —Petrana Radulovic

iron man 3 - gwyneth paltrow Marvel Studios

11. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Following up 2012’s The Avengers was going to be tough for any film but Downey Jr. and writer-director Shane Black — who previously worked together Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — leaned into the challenge by both pulling back on the cosmic and leaning into the emotional aftermath. The Tony Stark in Iron Man 3 is a textbook example of someone with post traumatic stress disorder. It is the movie with the most Iron Man suits in one action scene, and yet Stark spends the least amount of time in the suit. Nor can he rely on his then-iconic lab, showing how resourceful he can be using a standard-stock home garage in rural Tennessee (and also showing, pre-Peter Parker, his fatherly instincts with Ty Simpkins’ Harley). While the Extremis-enhanced finale is explosive, the most memorable scene has to be the entire mansion action sequence, from beginning to end. —RM

the avengers 2012 money shot Marvel Studios

10. The Avengers (2012)

Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor all worked separately, but smashing them together for one well-balanced mission still seemed out of reach for Earth’s mightiest heroes. But Joss Whedon delivered a masterclass in action geography, power levels, and character payoff, using the friction of the first half of the movie (which, admittedly, is wobbly pace-wise) to ignite the Battle of New York in the end.

The Avengers mainstreamed an unprecedented level of geekery. We got quippy one-liners, epic character introductions (THOR SMASHLANDS ON A PLANE!!!!), and the tight, tense, action-packed finale found room for all the heroes — even Hawkeye and his bow-and-arrow — a chance to shine. For comic fans, watching the core Avengers team up for the first time was a dream come true. For many others, it was the first moment they fell in love with and invested in the crew. —PR, MP

iron man 1 2008 Marvel Studios

9. Iron Man (2008)

TONY STARK WAS ABLE TO BUILD THIS IN A CAVE WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!

Obadiah Stane’s iconic outburst aside, the movie that started it all remains one of the most solid entries in the canon. As an introduction to the character of Iron Man, and a tease of the expanded universe to come, it’s unsurprisingly a terrific standalone of man’s violent awakening. Tony Stark’s is a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, but in his early days, he was an arms manufacturer. The explosive revelations that cause him to completely alter the direction of his family company — let alone take up the mantle of a superhero — are surprisingly heavy stuff, particularly as it turns out his surrogate father figure is the one angling to betray him. —KH

captain america: the winter soldier Marvel Studios

8. Captain America The Winter Soldier (2014)

In The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers’ story shifts from World War II pulp adventure to gritty ’00s spy thriller action. The MCU debut of fraternal director duo Anthony and Joe Russo is slickly written, beautifully filmed, and engagingly (fight) choreographed. It’s even funny! “On your left,” anyone?

Though the positioning of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War on this list attests to the fact that the Russos’ post-Winter Soldier record has not been spotless, you can see exactly why the film was enough for Marvel to promote them into Joss Whedon’s vacated Avengers role. A critical darling (or relatively so, for an action flick) it was also one of the earliest indications that Marvel could make more than just popcorn movies.

That said, it’s not quite as cerebral as its biggest fans would have it — no matter how you slice it, the idea of Hydra lying hidden in SHIELD for seven whole decades is Comic Book Logic — but still a solid movie with a huge impact on the MCU. For example, it put the Stucky ship on the map, a bucket-load of subtext that the MCU has been trying to walk back ever since. —SP

Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaal in Spider-Man: Far From Home Jay Maidment/Sony Pictures

7. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

After Spider-Man: Homecoming (and, on a slight tangent, the mind-blowing Into the Spider-Verse), the Spider-Man movies still reign supreme. Spider-Man: Far From Home is just as delightful as you’d hope, sending Peter Parker on summer vacation to challenge his desire to be a normal teen against his responsibility to help save the world. That struggle applies to the audience, too — Peter’s crush on classmate MJ (Zendaya) is perfect romcom fodder, and the rest of his classmates are so uniformly fun (particularly Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend, Ned, who pursues his own summer romance) that you almost want the superhero stuff to take care of itself. Director Jon Watts’ reality-bending set-pieces are the case for the whole package.

With a wild performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, who dons the mantle of Mysterio, and a few cameos that will make you scream, Far From Home finds the quirkiest, most human avenue to deal with the aftermath of Endgame. It’s a perfect blend of earnest, teen drama (and comedy) and thrilling blockbuster action. And though it’s tied to the larger cinematic universe, it is also strong enough as a movie to stand on its own. —KH

guardians of the galaxy 1 Marvel Studios

6. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Many of the best, recent Marvel movies were removed from the events of the larger MCU. Guardians of the Galaxy could not be further from the action, telling a story that doesn’t have to be overly concerned with tying into a larger arc, and seizing the freedom (while still finding room for an Infinity Stones explainer). Yes, the movie revolves around the Power Stone, but it’s mostly a MacGuffin; the important thing is that a bunch of misfits learn to get along and work together to save the world — and each other. Plus, the soundtrack rules. The final cue, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” on a tape Quill’s mother made for him before she died, never fails to make me cry. —KH

Loki, Valkyrie, Thor, and the Hulk (Hela in background) in Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok. Marvel Studios

5. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

With few exceptions — notably, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies, whose then-disconnection with the rest of the MCU had mostly allowed his weirdness to shine — Marvel’s films have been defined by their narrative and stylistic cohesion, allowing just a few hints of a director’s personal style to come through. Then Taika Waititi happened. The What We Do in the Shadows director took one of the MCU’s most staid franchises and managed to make it the most adventurous, the most colorful, and certainly the weirdest. He also showed that Chris Hemsworth (and every actor involved, for that matter) could blend action star aesthetic with hilarious character work. Thor: Ragnarok is earnestly funny, immensely quotable (especially anything Korg), and looking back, expanded the definition of what an MCU film can be. —RM

Avengers: Endgame Marvel Studios

4. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

For all the action, the callbacks, and the conclusions, Endgame soars because there are reasons to love and care about the characters of the MCU once again. Endgame rewards fans for sticking with the franchise for 10 years, even while reinventing them with new dramatic pulse. In the final scenes, longtime saga screenwriters Chris Markus and Stephen McFeely satisfyingly wrapping up its core characters’ arcs and make room for the next chapter. The MCU in a nutshell.

Despite the fervor over spoilers, nothing happens in Endgame that fans didn’t predict, but the movie still earns those big, dramatic moments with an expertly crafted story and meaty character work. Defeating Thanos is almost an afterthought; I was legitimately surprised when he was killed in the first act. Instead, Endgame makes up for Infinity War’s lack of emotional weight by giving the heroes room to breathe, mourn, and piece their lives back together after the snap.

Avengers: Endgame has flaws: The MCU has always underutilized Black Widow and her death didn’t feel earned. The “empowerment” moments feel forced. We could have done without the fat jokes. But at its best it seamlessly blends bombastic comic book storytelling, self-aware humor, and earnest character moments, a formula that Marvel has never quite gotten right. We don’t tear up over Tony Stark’s death because we’re told to — we feel it. —EH

spider-man: homecoming Marvel Studios

3. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man: Homecoming stars the most iconic superhero in the Marvel Universe, and treats him like the runt of the litter. The MCU’s Spidey is younger and clumsier than previous iterations, not particularly great at saving the day without causing some trouble in the process.

Sure, we know that Peter Parker’s pals with Iron Man, but Homecoming doesn’t show him respect simply because of his flashy connections. Director Jon Watts frames him as an also-ran. Wider — sometimes very wide — shots make Spider-man appear itty bitty, a bug in a big city. He gets punched and crunched, his attacks miss and his acrobats sometimes land with a splat. And because the camera pulls back, we actually get to see all of this. Neither the action nor the humor get lost in close-ups and rapid fire edits.

When filmmakers shot the classic MGM musicals they’d film dance numbers from a distance, understanding clarity trumped fancy framing. They trusted the performance could do the heavy lifting. Watts and his Spider-Man: Homecoming collaborators do something similar. They use the camera to show us being a superhero is super hard, that it’s more fun to watch Spider-Man try (and often fail) to carve out his place in the universe. —Chris Plante

black panther Marvel Studios

2. Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther is the only MCU movie to win an Oscar — three of them, to be exact. Why Ryan Coogler’s movie deserved them is the reason we’ll be talking about the movie long after the dust settles on Endgame.

Serving as an anthem to Afrofuturism for a global audience, the film is one of the most fiercely and eloquently political movies in the MCU canon, featuring career highlight performances from actors like Michael B. Jordan, Letitia Wright, Sterling K. Brown, Winston Duke, and Danai Gurira. It’s the first Marvel movie to have a truly great villain since Loki in Avengers. It’s funny in its familial dynamic, a visual feast, and the perfect introduction to an ensemble cast of characters ripe with potential for future installments. And the soundtrack, if you’ll pardon my french, totally slaps.

It may not have been voted to the top spot in our list, but the Black Panther isn’t an elected position. He is our king. —SP

captain america: the first avenger transform scene Marvel Studios

1. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

In tallying the votes, the Polygon staff found itself in near-universal agreement that Steve Rogers transformative moment was an early pinnacle for the MCU. The events of Endgame serve as a perfect reminder: Steve, whether he’s a lanky kid watching the world go to war or a bulked-up super-soldier blocking laser blasts with a vibranium shield, will do the right thing, establishment be damned.

The First Avenger buck(y)s the trend of a traditional hero’s journey; Cap dreams of joining the fight, and when the moment comes, he enlists with little hesitation (no one can resist Stanley Tucci). Instead, the MCU becomes Steve’s Twilight Zone, rattling him out of his government-endorsed, “Star-Spangled Man” disillusionment to become something greater than he could have ever imagined. Captain America: The First Avenger is romantic, but rebellious, even as director Joe Johnston imbues the action and drama with 1940 serial-adventure flair.

Period films have an advantage of being familiar, but not. The First Avenger is up there with the Indiana Jones movies in how wrings the throwback opportunity. The WWII setting opens the floodgates for design. There will never be an MCU duo as dreamy as Steve and Peggy. There will never be a villain scooped up from as far down in hell as Red Skull. Then there’s Chris Evans, whose compassion and physical force convinces us to love the most earnest human on the planet. Endgame wraps up his arc in a profound way, but every second of The First Avenger pushes him in that momentous direction. —MP

Source: Polygon.com

Ronald McDonald’s Name Is Slightly Different In Japan

One of the world’s most famous corporate mascots has a slightly different name in Japan, where Ronald McDonald is known as Donald McDonald.

In Japanese, the character’s name is written as ドナルド・マクドナルド (Donarudo Makudonarudo). Similarly, the McDonald’s backed charity is locally known as the Donald McDonald House.

The burger chain first came to Japan in 1971, so generations have grown up with McDonald’s and its smiling clown Donarudo. Japanese people are often surprised to learn that outside the country the character is known as “Ronald McDonald.” No wonder the character’s non-Japanese name is even a trivia question!

But why the discrepancy? Website Gaku-sha asked McDonald’s Japan, and in short, the name was changed because saying “Ronald McDonald” is difficult in Japanese. Online, I’ve seen people say this is because it’s hard for Japanese speakers to pronounce the letter “r.” That’s an oversimplification. When the character’s name is written in Japanese, people are not confronted with English “r” sounds or “l” sounds, but native Japanese sounds and how those sounds flow together or clash.

When written in Japanese, Ronald McDonald is ロナルド・マクドナルド (Ronarudo Makudonarudo), and having a “ro” (ロ) sound so close to a “ru” (ル) makes “Ronarudo” difficult to say in Japanese. That’s probably why soccer stars like Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom have done commercials in Japan, write “Ronaldo” as ロナウド (Ronaudo) with ウ (u) and not ロナルド (Ronarudo) with “ru” (ル).

But, while Ronaudo Makudonarudo would be easier for Japanese to say, visually, ロナウド・マクドナルド (Ronaudo Makudonarudo) doesn’t look as good as ドナルド・マクドナルド (Donarudo Makudonarudo), nor does it roll off the tongue in the same way. In Japan, McDonald’s is Makudonarudo (マクドナルド), so Donarudo Makudonarudo has a pleasant ring to it, just like Ronald McDonald sounds nice in English. Plus, “Donarudo” (ドナルド) is a famous character name in Japan thanks to Donald Duck, making the name familiar and easy to say.

Interestingly, most of the other McDonald’s characters have similar monikers to their American counterparts. For example, Grimace is Gurimasu (グリマス), the Hamburglar is Hanbaaguraa (ハンバーグラー), and Big Mac Police is Biggu Makku Porisu (ビッグマックポリス). Mayor McCheese, however, has been changed for Japan, where the character is Meiyaa Cheezu Makku (メイヤーチーズマック).

This article was originally published on April 13, 2018.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Curse Of The Yakuza Games

The Yakuza games and their spin-offs have long starred some of Japan’s biggest celebrities. Now that some of those celebs have ended up in trouble, there are rumblings of a Yakuza curse. Dun dun dun.

Earlier this year, actor and musician Pierre Taki, who appeared in the Yakuza spin-off Judgment, was picked up on drug charges. The arrest resulted in Sega removing him from the game and Sony Music terminating his band’s contract. Taki isn’t the only celebrity in a Yakuza game (or its spin-offs) ending up in trouble. He isn’t even the only one this year! Perhaps there is a reason why it’s now being said that the Yakuza games are cursed.

According to website Re:Geinou, there are rumblings of a Ryu ga Gotoku no noroi (龍が如くの呪い) or “Yakuza curse”, with Ryu Ga Gotoku being the Japanese name for the Yakuza games.

Last year, actor Hiroki Narimiya was replaced in the Yakuza 4 remaster. In late 2016, he was photographed allegedly using cocaine, causing the actor to announce he was leaving the entertainment industry. But the most recent celebrity to fall victim to the Yakuza’s nefarious power is comedian Hiroyuki Miyasako, who lent his voice fo Tsuyoshi Kanda in Yakuza 3 and played Tsuyoshi Nagumo in Yakuza 6 (above).

Miyasako came under fire for appearing at a party held by a rather unsavory group of people. In Japanese, this sort of group is known as a hanshakaiteki seiryoku (反社会的勢力), which is typically translated as an “anti-social organization.” These groups are fraudsters, attempting to swindle folks out of money. They can be members of organized crime groups known as bouryokudan (暴力団), literally meaning “violent group” but colloquially referred to as yakuza. They can also be connected to those criminal organizations or be their own independent group. In short, they’re the kind of thing you’d see in Sega’s popular crime games.

Miyasako was one of over ten comedians who appeared at an event hosted by an anti-social organization. Also included in those comedians wrapped up in the scandal is Yoshinari Fukushima, who was Mr. Moneybags in Yakuza 0.

At first, Miyasako said he didn’t know that such a group was hosting the event and that he was not paid for attending. However, it was later revealed that he had been paid. The fee he received would, thus, be considered dirty money. His talent agency, the powerful Yoshimoto Kogyo, has temporarily banned Miyasako from appearing on any TV shows. The future of Ame Talk, the long-running variety show he co-hosts, seems uncertain as sponsors no doubt have concerns about Miyasako’s accepting payment from a criminal enterprise.

Considering how many celebrities are in the Yakuza games and considering the historical connection between the entertainment business and illegal activities, Yakuza’s track record isn’t too bad. As with Madden, I don’t really believe there is a curse. However, I will not be surprised when more of its stars run into trouble. You shouldn’t be, either.

Source: Kotaku.com

Next Gran Turismo Is A “Complete Form Of Gran Turismo,” Dev Says

The next Gran Turismo game is in development. It hasn’t been announced yet, but the CEO of series developer Polyphony Digital has now offered some high-level comments about it. Kazunori Yamauchi told GT Planet that traveling the world and seeing the various World Tour events has given him some insight into what should go into the next Gran Turismo title.

“Having done all these World Tours, it gave me the opportunity to feel the history of Gran Turismo,” he said. “It gives me pointers and hints of the things we should make sure that we do in the future of the series.”

Yamauchi plainly stated that a new Gran Turismo game is coming, confirming that “obviously we’re working on the next Gran Turismo already.” However, he wouldn’t confirm if it will be a new Gran Turismo Sport title or a sequel to Gran Turismo 6. Whatever the game is, Yamauchi said it aims to be a the “complete form of Gran Turismo.”

“I think the next title that we’re going to create will be a combination of the past, present and future–a complete form of Gran Turismo,” he said.

With the PlayStation 5 coming, and rumored to release in Holiday 2020, it’s thought that a new Gran Turismo game would release for the new, more powerful hardware. Yamauchi didn’t confirm anything, but he said that more power will help provide better virtual reality experiences.

“I don’t think that there’s anything else that requires that much processing power,” he said. “I really like VR; I’m one to believe in the possibilities of it, and it’s very suited for a driving game.”

The latest Gran Turismo title is Gran Turismo Sport, which was released in 2017 for PlayStation 4. Before that, Gran Turismo 6 was released on PlayStation 3 in 2013.

Source: GameSpot.com

A New Evil Dead Game Is Coming To Console And PC–But Not VR

A new Evil Dead game is on the way, actor Bruce Campbell has confirmed. Writing on Twitter, Campbell–who plays Ash Williams in the series–clarified that the game is being developed for console and PC, not virtual reality as some reports might have suggested.

That’s all the information there is to go on at this stage, so we don’t know what kind of game it will be, when it will release, who is developing it, and other key particulars.

Whatever the case, it’ll be the first new Evil Dead game in a long time. Three Evil Dead games were released in the 2000s, including Evil Dead: Hail to the King (2000), Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick (2003), and Evil Dead: Regeneration (2005). Each title was developed by a different studio, though they were all published by the now-defunct THQ.

While THQ went under, the THQ name was acquired by Nordic Games which later re-branded itself as THQ Nordic. The company is now bringing back a number of THQ properties, including SpongeBob: Battle for Bikini Bottom, but it’s not clear if THQ Nordic owns the rights for Evil Dead.

In August 2018, Campbell confirmed to Bloody-Disgusting that the new Evil Dead game is a “whole immersive kind of dealio.” He also confirmed that he’ll be voicing Ash in the game because he “wouldn’t want someone else’s voice hamming it up.”

Would you be interested in a new Evil Dead game? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: GameSpot.com

They Are Billions Review – Everyone’s Invited

Part tower defense, part city builder, They Are Billions is a real-time strategy game whose flow swings between cautious turtling as you hunker down to fend off the zombie hordes and well-considered dashes to expand your territory and exploit vital new resources. Introduced into Steam Early Access last year with a survival mode that challenged you to endure a certain number of days on a randomly-generated map, the game now features a hand-crafted campaign mode as part of its Version 1.0 release. The result is a hybrid RTS that shines when it plays to its strengths even if several of its new additions feel like unnecessary distractions.

When you first start a new map and see your isolated base surrounded by zombies, the game’s title will feel accurate, if an understandable exaggeration. Stray zombies take refuge in the fog of war, milling around in small groups until you alert them and occasionally shambling towards your settlement. There aren’t really billions, but it looks like there could be. Fifteen days later, the klaxon blares to signal the arrival of the horde and soon, as a seemingly relentless river of undead lay siege to your defenses, you start to suspect billions may well be an understatement.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

The survival mode and the majority of maps in the campaign offer a similar experience. First, you establish a perimeter with patrol routes to pick off encroaching zombies, scout the immediate area to identify chokepoints and nearby resource deposits, build structures around your base to grow the economy, and secure it all with enough troops and fortifications to fend off the first wave of attack. Survive that, and the second step is an expeditious land-grab to claim whole swathes of fertile new ground, clearing away the errant undead and managing your production to generate all the resources required to populate and work your expanded colony.

The ebb and flow at play here is lovely. The arrival of each new wave of zombies is clearly signposted, so you always know precisely how many days you have to prepare for the attack. How you use that time is where the interesting strategic choices arise. Weighing up whether it’s wise to expand northward towards the iron that will let you build soldiers or eastward, where there’s a large forest that provides natural cover and wood required to repair fencing and guard towers; such choices arrive with every wave and your prospects for surviving the next one hinge on the decisions you make.

It’s incredibly tense, too. Outside of the horde attacks, a single zombie that manages to elude your patrols and wander into your settlement can mean game over. If just one manages to attack a dwelling, everyone inside will become infected and proceed to join the assault, multiplying the danger to unmanageable levels in an instant. Death is swift. I lost entire colonies thanks to my failure to spot a gap in my defensive setup. Next thing I know, death is spreading across the camp and weeks of desperate survival count for nothing.

No Caption Provided

Survival mode is based around permadeath, as you’d expect. But the campaign, too, incorporates various degrees of permadeath and iron-man elements in an effort to force you to accept the consequences of your choices. If you get overrun and fail a campaign mission, for example, you have to restart that mission from the beginning rather than reload a save from mid-mission before it all started to go wrong. There’s even a penalty applied to the mission reward for each time you fail. Somewhat ironically, an option to back up your campaign save has been added since its 1.0 launch, and the developer has indicated it may continue to adjust its approach in this area in future updates, which makes these decisions feel unconfident.

The campaign falters with the inclusion of survival elements, which don’t mesh well with the flow of exploration. The campaign maps are hand-crafted–they’re the same every time you play them. They are, essentially, puzzles in which the solution is discovered through increasingly efficient resource management. Most of the maps here deliver satisfying challenges, and the permadeath aspect punishes you for experimentation within these maps. When you know you messed up between 60 and 65 days, having to restart from day zero can be tough to swallow.

The campaign fares better as a more gentle introduction to They Are Billions. The tech tree locks away many of the game’s structures, units, and bonuses behind research points accumulated by completing missions. This means the early missions let new players learn the ropes by only having to worry about a handful of buildings and a couple of units, rather than potentially overwhelming them with too many concepts to understand at once. As a new player myself, I also appreciated the adjustable difficulty settings which let you advance more slowly through the research tree while at the same time serving up missions that let you progress with the lesser tech at your disposal. Then, once I was comfortable, I was able to bump up the difficulty to match my improved skills.

Adding variety to the campaign are a couple of non-traditional mission types. There are Hero missions in which you control just one unit infiltrating a small base and Swarm Attack missions that are pretty barebones tower defense skirmishes. The elimination of much of the base-building and economic management–or indeed all of it in the case of the Hero missions–exposes the remaining combat as shallow. Worse, stripping out the core mechanics simply misses the whole point. As a result, neither of these mission types are particularly enjoyable, and quickly become irritations you have to wade through to get to the proper missions. Adding variety for variety’s sake, in this case, only serves to diminish rather than enhance.

At its best, though, in both the original survival mode, across the bulk of the campaign and in the one-off challenge of the week maps, They Are Billions remains a tight and compelling strategy game. The knowledge that you’re always just one misstep away from disaster creates a gripping, tense atmosphere that’s unusual for the genre. And the cycle from defense to offense and back again as you progress from one wave to the next offers both well-paced urgency and the ability to set clear short-term goals. It’s a smartly designed game at its core, despite the distractions. Just like a lone zombie can bring about your demise, sometimes one strong idea is enough.

Source: GameSpot.com

They Are Billions Review

Part tower defense, part city builder, They Are Billions is a real-time strategy game whose flow swings between cautious turtling as you hunker down to fend off the zombie hordes and well-considered dashes to expand your territory and exploit vital new resources. Introduced into Steam Early Access last year with a survival mode that challenged you to endure a certain number of days on a randomly-generated map, the game now features a hand-crafted campaign mode as part of its Version 1.0 release. The result is a hybrid RTS that shines when it plays to its strengths even if several of its new additions feel like unnecessary distractions.

When you first start a new map and see your isolated base surrounded by zombies, the game’s title will feel accurate, if an understandable exaggeration. Stray zombies take refuge in the fog of war, milling around in small groups until you alert them and occasionally shambling towards your settlement. There aren’t really billions, but it looks like there could be. Fifteen days later, the klaxon blares to signal the arrival of the horde and soon, as a seemingly relentless river of undead lay siege to your defenses, you start to suspect billions may well be an understatement.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

The survival mode and the majority of maps in the campaign offer a similar experience. First, you establish a perimeter with patrol routes to pick off encroaching zombies, scout the immediate area to identify chokepoints and nearby resource deposits, build structures around your base to grow the economy, and secure it all with enough troops and fortifications to fend off the first wave of attack. Survive that, and the second step is an expeditious land-grab to claim whole swathes of fertile new ground, clearing away the errant undead and managing your production to generate all the resources required to populate and work your expanded colony.

The ebb and flow at play here is lovely. The arrival of each new wave of zombies is clearly signposted, so you always know precisely how many days you have to prepare for the attack. How you use that time is where the interesting strategic choices arise. Weighing up whether it’s wise to expand northward towards the iron that will let you build soldiers or eastward, where there’s a large forest that provides natural cover and wood required to repair fencing and guard towers; such choices arrive with every wave and your prospects for surviving the next one hinge on the decisions you make.

It’s incredibly tense, too. Outside of the horde attacks, a single zombie that manages to elude your patrols and wander into your settlement can mean game over. If just one manages to attack a dwelling, everyone inside will become infected and proceed to join the assault, multiplying the danger to unmanageable levels in an instant. Death is swift. I lost entire colonies thanks to my failure to spot a gap in my defensive setup. Next thing I know, death is spreading across the camp and weeks of desperate survival count for nothing.

No Caption Provided

Survival mode is based around permadeath, as you’d expect. But the campaign, too, incorporates various degrees of permadeath and iron-man elements in an effort to force you to accept the consequences of your choices. If you get overrun and fail a campaign mission, for example, you have to restart that mission from the beginning rather than reload a save from mid-mission before it all started to go wrong. There’s even a penalty applied to the mission reward for each time you fail. Somewhat ironically, an option to back up your campaign save has been added since its 1.0 launch, and the developer has indicated it may continue to adjust its approach in this area in future updates, which makes these decisions feel unconfident.

The campaign falters with the inclusion of survival elements, which don’t mesh well with the flow of exploration. The campaign maps are hand-crafted–they’re the same every time you play them. They are, essentially, puzzles in which the solution is discovered through increasingly efficient resource management. Most of the maps here deliver satisfying challenges, and the permadeath aspect punishes you for experimentation within these maps. When you know you messed up between 60 and 65 days, having to restart from day zero can be tough to swallow.

The campaign fares better as a more gentle introduction to They Are Billions. The tech tree locks away many of the game’s structures, units, and bonuses behind research points accumulated by completing missions. This means the early missions let new players learn the ropes by only having to worry about a handful of buildings and a couple of units, rather than potentially overwhelming them with too many concepts to understand at once. As a new player myself, I also appreciated the adjustable difficulty settings which let you advance more slowly through the research tree while at the same time serving up missions that let you progress with the lesser tech at your disposal. Then, once I was comfortable, I was able to bump up the difficulty to match my improved skills.

Adding variety to the campaign are a couple of non-traditional mission types. There are Hero missions in which you control just one unit infiltrating a small base and Swarm Attack missions that are pretty barebones tower defense skirmishes. The elimination of much of the base-building and economic management–or indeed all of it in the case of the Hero missions–exposes the remaining combat as shallow. Worse, stripping out the core mechanics simply misses the whole point. As a result, neither of these mission types are particularly enjoyable, and quickly become irritations you have to wade through to get to the proper missions. Adding variety for variety’s sake, in this case, only serves to diminish rather than enhance.

At its best, though, in both the original survival mode, across the bulk of the campaign and in the one-off challenge of the week maps, They Are Billions remains a tight and compelling strategy game. The knowledge that you’re always just one misstep away from disaster creates a gripping, tense atmosphere that’s unusual for the genre. And the cycle from defense to offense and back again as you progress from one wave to the next offers both well-paced urgency and the ability to set clear short-term goals. It’s a smartly designed game at its core, despite the distractions. Just like a lone zombie can bring about your demise, sometimes one strong idea is enough.

Source: GameSpot.com