All posts by gamesavepoint

Sputnik, Boys State, and everything else you can now watch at home

As movie theaters prepare to reopen, the big news of the week is AMC’s plan to mimic the 1920s. As locations begin to reopen on Aug. 20, the chain will offer moviegoers 15-cent tickets as an incentive for moviegoers to come in, and showing movies such as Black Panther, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Grease, and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. The special will only be offered on the 20th.

Meanwhile in Japan, a Godzilla theme park has opened. Currently, only the Godzilla Museum is open, but the second phase of opening will include a Shin Godzilla attraction that will allow visitors to zipline directly into Godzilla’s mouth.

In less uplifting news, Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have departed the upcoming Netflix live-action adaptation of their work. “We ultimately came to the belief that we would not be able to meaningfully guide the direction of the series,” Konietzko wrote in a statement. DiMartino added, “Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good. It might turn out to be a show many of you end up enjoying. But what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.”

While we wait to see how the live-action series ends up, here are the new movies available to watch at home this weekend.

Boys State

Where to watch it: Streaming on Apple TV Plus

Two of the subjects from Boys State get excited over the latest news on their phones. Photo: Apple TV Plus

The documentary Boys State follows a thousand teenage boys as they participate in a leadership even in which they are charged with creating a state government from the ground up. We were blown away back at Sundance, where the film premiered. From our review:

One of the many things that makes Boys State entertaining as well as relevant is the way Moss and McBaine capture these kids’ different facets, and track how their combined ambition and naïveté play into the big picture. On the one hand, the participants clown around with the process, proposing legislation to address “the looming threat of alien invasion” and the difficulty of pronouncing the letter W. (The wag who introduces that bill demands that Boys State officially change the letter to “dubya.”) A favorite leadership tactic involves getting them to chant, howl, or hoot like apes in order to focus their attention. There’s a lot of young male energy in these proceedings.

Sputnik

Where to watch it: Rent on digital, $5.99 on Amazon, $6.99 on Apple and Google Play

two men in front of a red light in sputnik Photo: Sony Pictures

At the height of the Cold War, a Soviet spacecraft crashes on Earth after a failed mission. The only survivor of the crash is the the mission’s commander, who has no memory of what happened. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the lone survivor isn’t entirely alone: He may have brought back an alien parasite, too.

Spree

Where to watch it: Rent on digital, $6.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

joe keery in a car in spree Image: RLJE Films

Stranger Things’ Joe Keery stars in this thriller as Kurt, a young man who dreams of becoming famous on social media. His latest gambit is rigging out his car, which he uses to work for an Uber-esque ride-sharing company, to stage a nonstop stream. This catches the eye of another social-media-famous wannabe, stand-up comedian Jessie (Sasheer Zamata), who sets out to stop him. This is another Sundance find that surprised us. From our review:

Considering how heavy that sounds, there’s not too much under the surface of Kurt’s violent ride. [Director Eugene] Kotlyarenko keeps Spree from becoming a present-set Black Mirror by opting for jokes over profound moments of psychological dissection. The result is a movie gushing with gags and a few moments that get too real for its own good. Killing a clichéd Los Angeles club-goer with a motorized drill is wacky! Brutal gun violence baked into an emoji-filled livestream gets a bit uncomfortable. Luckily, the tonal whiplash is rare for Spree, which zips from vignette to vignette on the back of an all-in performance.

New on Netflix this weekend

And here’s what dropped last Friday:

The Secret: Dare to Dream

Where to watch it: Rent on digital, $19.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

Katie Holmes and Jerry O’Connell in The Secret: Dare to Dream. Photo: Roadside Attractions

The popular self-help book The Secret gets a movie adaptation in the form of The Secret: Dare to Dream, which stars Katie Holmes as a widow doing her best to raise her three children. Josh Lucas co-stars as a mysterious handyman who brings the power of positive thinking into the family’s life.

Host

Where to watch it: Streaming on Shudder

a video chat window in ho=st Image: Shudder

Filmmaker Rob Savage shot a horror movie entirely in quarantine. The result is Host, which focuses on a group of friends’ weekly video call. The most recent activity they’ve decided on is holding a séance, and though it’s originally just a prank, the séance actually allows a demonic presence to cross over and wreak havoc on their lives — all seen via video chat.

The Fight

Where to watch it: Buy on digital, $12.99 on Google Play, $14.99 on Apple, $19.99 on Amazon

a look inside the aclu offices in the fight Photo: Magnolia Pictures

The documentary The Fight follows five lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union as they fight four cases, including that of a migrant mother being separated from her child, and of a transgender soldier at risk of losing his career. As the ACLU becomes an increasingly pivotal force in the fight for justice, this documentary provides a concrete look at what the organization does, and how hard the people involved work to protect our freedom.

Summerland

Where to watch it: Rent on digital, $3.99 on Amazon, $6.99 on Apple

Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Gemma Arterton in Summerland. Photo: Lionsgate

Gemma Arterton stars as Alice Lamb, a writer who, due to her reclusive nature, is thought of by the local children as a witch. Things begin to change when, as a part of the war effort during World War II, she is made the caretaker of a young boy. As she reluctantly takes on her new responsibility, she also recalls a past relationship with another writer, Vera (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), with whom she’d once been in love.

Yes, God, Yes

Where to watch it: Rent on digital, $6.99 on Amazon, Apple, and Google Play

natalia dyer in yes, god, yes Photo: Vertical Entertainment

Stranger Things’ Natalia Dyer stars in this coming-of-age comedy as a Catholic teenager coming to terms with her sexuality. Her guilt over masturbation sends her to a religious retreat, but her urges only become harder to suppress when one of the other campers starts flirting with her. But maybe being good and devout is more than just being chaste.

Source: Polygon.com

Respawn shows off Apex Legends’ season 6 map changes

Respawn keeps doling out the previews for Apex Legends season 6 at a slow and steady pace. On Friday morning, it was the gameplay trailer, and now Respawn is giving players a preview of some of the World’s Edge map changes that the trailer teased.

In a new post on the Apex Legends website, Respawn offers players an in-depth look at some of the locations that are getting updated on the World’s Edge map for season 6. Some of the biggest changes are coming to the lava section of the map, which is getting a few new points of interest, like Launch Site, a new area west of The Dome — which adds some new and much-needed cover, and should make it a slightly more interesting area to play in.

Even better, Respawn is cleaning up some of the paths around that map, which should make rotating from the lava area a little easier if you get an unlucky circle. Another area new to this version of the map is Countdown. As Hammond Industries moves into the World’s Edge map and reshapes it for its own mysterious purposes, the old Drill Site area on the map has been replaced by Countdown.

Countdown, Launch Site, and Staging — another new area added for season 6 — have new retractable walls, which players can raise if they’re in need of some extra defenses. But don’t rely on them too much; there’s always a path below or around these walls.

The post also includes a few more tweaks and changes located all around the map, complete with image sliders to show players side-by-side comparisons of the new and old versions of each area. Of course, Respawn probably isn’t showing off all the changes, either, so there will probably be a few more surprises when the season actually goes live.

Speaking of going live, Respawn also announced a new detail on the season 6 release. Apex Legends season 6 was set to go live on Aug. 18, and while that is still technically true, it’s actually going to be released a little earlier (depending on where you live). To help ease the bandwidth requirement of too many people trying to download the season patch at once, it will be released at 1 a.m. EDT that day — which is 10 p.m. PDT on Aug. 17.

Source: Polygon.com

Netflix’s superhero story Project Power has a potent premise that fizzles fast

The idea behind the new Netflix movie Project Power is incredibly potent. In the world of the movie, superpowers aren’t something you’re born with, or gain via a bite from a radioactive spider. They come from pills that activate the user’s hidden power for five minutes. What’s more, nobody knows what superpower they’ll have until they take the pill — at which point, a few unlucky users just explode into a mess of blood and guts.

The high of taking the drug — called Power — is represented by Requiem for a Dream-esque splashes of color and cells that last for split seconds, an effect that’s a handy metaphor for Project Power itself. Directed by Catfish’s Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman from a script by The Batman’s Mattson Tomlin, Project Power’s burst of color comes from its central conceit and Joost and Schulman’s sense of style. It’s bright and attractive, but it fizzles out quickly. Tomlin’s idea is innovative, but the story he tells with it is tired.

Project Power protagonist Robin (Dominique Fishback) is a collection of clichés: She’s a high schooler and would-be rapper who deals drugs in order to care for her ailing mother. She works with Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a cop, to help him keep an eye on who’s buying what, as well as to supply him with Power. While the police are cracking down on Power use and distribution in the city, Frank sees the drug as leveling the playing field against criminals, since it makes him bulletproof. And Art (Jamie Foxx), a mysterious former soldier, crashes into both of their lives when he kidnaps Robin in an attempt to get to Power’s source.

a young woman cautiously opens a door
Dominique Fishback in Project Power.
Photo: Skip Bolen/Netflix

Their race to stop Power from being widely distributed and wreaking havoc is fairly formulaic. So is the revelation that Art is looking for his kidnapped daughter, which instantly bonds him with the fatherless Robin. Meanwhile, Frank is forced to reckon with the fact that the police department might, in fact, be corrupt.

A few scenes and details stand out: one character’s power turns him into a version of the Human Torch, which makes him a deadly foe, but also leaves him with severe burns. On top of that, the superpowers are given an intriguing source: all of the powers are based in nature, mimicking an armadillo’s shell or a lizard’s capability for regeneration. But the standout moments are rare. Tomlin’s script ends up almost ignoring Power’s Limitless factor — the five-minute ticking clock and the idea of being able to attain extraordinary abilities through pharmaceuticals — as the story juggles social commentary with superhero antics.

Project Power takes place in New Orleans, and there are a few veiled references to Hurricane Katrina and the government’s poor emergency response, as well as the opioid crisis and the systemic disadvantages faced by Black women. But they’re only references — attempts at depth belied by Robin’s facile characterization. They’re never never expanded upon past the shallow introduction of the initial concepts. (It’s worth noting that the film’s directors, producers, and writer are all white.)

Jamie Foxx wearing sunglasses and carrying a shotgun in Project Power Photo: Skip Bolen/Netflix

Joost and Schulman are lucky, as such, that Project Power is high on star power, as Fishback (easily the standout of HBO’s The Deuce), Foxx, and (to a lesser extent) Gordon-Levitt make the caricatures they’re playing compelling through sheer charisma. Fishback’s confidence gives her character a liveliness that extends past her stereotypical background, and Foxx’s charm turns him into a more endearing version of Liam Neeson’s schticky Taken character.

A few inventively staged scenes help move things along — one fight is seen entirely through a pane of slowly freezing glass — and the jittery camerawork makes Project Power feel grittier than its more mainstream counterparts. But the most interesting aspect of Power — the period of time when the drug was first released, when people with superpowers were running around willy-nilly — is relegated to a “six weeks later” time skip. Power is supposed to be uncontrollable, but the story takes place in a world which mostly seems to have figured it out. Almost everyone already seems to know what their power is, and how to effectively use the pill. Only a select few nameless peons deal with the risk of exploding.

The end of Project Power sets up a sequel, but this is the rare case where a prequel would be more worthwhile. The unpredictability of the movie’s superpowers is what makes them new and interesting, but Project Power launches into a part of the timeline that renders them partially moot. In a movie where the concept should be the thing, the stars end up saving the show, smoothing over the script’s clumsy attempts at addressing race, and bringing enough star power to the screen to at least briefly obscure the film’s hollow center.

Project Power is streaming on Netflix now.

Source: Polygon.com

Can Epic Games actually take on Apple and Google? Experts weigh in

Fortnite developer Epic Games seems to have a way with breaking the rules. In the face of Fortnite’s success, companies have ended up changing long-standing policies — like Sony, which abandoned its fight against cross-platform play in 2018 after Epic Games forced the issue, eventually leading to cross-play in other games, too.

Fortnite’s size and popularity gave Epic Games the power to bend Sony and Nintendo’s rules, but will the tactic work with the monoliths of Apple and Google? Well, the North Carolina-based company is trying. On Thursday morning, Epic Games updated Fortnite with a new option for payment processing, providing a discounted price for players who choose to process payments through Epic, not Apple or Google. Epic thus circumvented the Apple storefront’s 30% cut on purchases by giving players a 20% discount on V-Bucks, Fortnite’s in-game currency. In response, both Apple and Google removed Fortnite from the App Store and the Google Play Store, respectively, citing policy violations.

As it turns out, this is what Epic Games was expecting. And it had a plan. Moments after the game was removed from Apple’s storefront, Epic Games began its #FreeFortnite campaign, complete with a hashtag, in-game propaganda video, and a pair of lawsuits. In those lawsuits, Epic Games argues that Google’s and Apple’s policies are anti-competitive and a violation of antitrust laws. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said on Twitter that his company is not looking for special treatment; it wants Apple and Google to change its rules and create truly “open platforms” to benefit “all developers,” not just Epic. “It’ll be a hell of a fight!” Sweeney said.

Epic Games has gone up against large tech companies in the past, but its antitrust litigation will be different. It’s looking to change the policies of companies that solidified themselves as market leaders in the industry, and neither Apple nor Google will want to let go of that. This litigation has a much larger scope than any of the other challenges that Epic Games has faced, like the Sony faceoff. Likewise, Epic Games is the “underdog,” if you can call it that. Although it’s valued at more than $17 billion, that’s significantly overshadowed by the trillion-dollar market capitalization of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Apple.

“Epic is going at the heart of the App Store monopoly, as well as Google’s comparable monopoly over the sale of Android apps,” Sandeep Vaheesan, legal director at anti-monopoly research and advocacy group Open Markets Institute, told Polygon. “It’s challenging the practices by which [Apple and Google] acquired this dominant position and tried to leverage this dominant position into new markets. This is a major lawsuit.”

Vaheesan said Epic Games’ lawyers presented “detailed factual allegations” that rely on “strong legal theories,” which bodes well for the company. Epic isn’t asking the court to rewrite antitrust law as it stands — instead, it’s asking a judge to just enforce the law as it exists. It’s different, in that way, from the antitrust hearing in Congress last month, where government officials discussed potential changes to market power rules. (Epic’s lawsuit, however, is still important in that if Epic wins, it’ll make it clear that Apple’s and Google’s practices are illegal, and then those companies will be forced to change their practices.)

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law held a major hearing on July 29, in which lawmakers grilled tech executives including Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The high-profile hearing put the four CEOs before Congress, asking them to answer questions about the power their companies wield.

The hearing, like Epic’s lawsuits against Apple and Google, brought antitrust and monopoly issues to the public forefront. And that’s important, regardless of whether things turn in Epic’s favor in the court of law.

“It’ll be a test of whether the law that’s nominally on the books is actually effective in constraining the power and practices of these big tech companies,” Vaheesan said.

The problem isn’t simply that Apple and Google are monolithic companies, but that they have large monopolies over certain markets. Valarie Williams, an antitrust lawyer and partner at Alston & Bird, told Polygon that Epic Games’ basic allegation comes down to whether or not Apple (and, subsequently, Google) has a monopoly through its App Store. For Epic to succeed in its lawsuits, it has to prove the market exists — and that the companies have monopolies over them.

She pointed to another restriction, the “tying” arrangement, that Epic Games said is violating antitrust laws. “[Apple] is saying that if you’re going to use the App Store, then you have to use our payment processing service; you can’t use your own,” Williams said. If you don’t want to do that, then you can’t use the App Store — and that’s why Fortnite was removed.

“It’s not a problem to be a monopoly,” Williams said. “It’s not a problem under the law to have market power. It’s when you use that to restrain competition.” And Epic Games has alleged that that’s exactly what the restrictions do, at least in the case of Apple — you can’t just move to a different app store on iOS, because Apple doesn’t permit them to exist.

Epic Games, in its cases, will be building on the “public and political momentum generated by last month’s hearing,” Vaheesan added. He said that antitrust issues aren’t typically “front-page news,” but that’s changing, of course — with the congressional hearings and now, Epic Games’ #FreeFortnite campaign, which seems specifically designed to harness gamer anger.

Fortnite’s removal from the app stores doesn’t necessarily impact gamers too much — at least, not gamers on Android. Google’s platform is more open than Apple’s, and the game wasn’t even available on the Play Store until April. Instead, people had to download it directly from Epic Games, and they can still do that, including its updates. On iOS, it’s not that simple. You can’t just go straight to Epic Games to download Fortnite and its updates. New users won’t be able to download the game at all, and current users won’t be able to play the next update should Apple not return it to the store. Presumably, keeping Fortnite off the app stores means Google and Apple are losing something — the 30% commission they take from in-app purchases, which is what Epic Games wants to stop, anyway.

At this point, it doesn’t necessarily even make sense to talk about whether Epic Games and Fortnite could or will win against Apple and Google in court. The legal process for antitrust cases is devastatingly slow.

“We’re not likely to get resolution soon,” Vaheesan said. He pointed to a class-action lawsuit against Apple’s App Store practices that has been in the courts for a decade. (The Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling in the case, Apple v. Pepper, allowed for lawsuits to continue in lower courts.)

John Bergmayer, legal director for consumer rights organization Public Knowledge, told Polygon that Epic Games’ approach with regard to public opinion puts the gaming company in a good position — regardless of the potential outcome of the court cases.

If Epic Games eventually wins over Apple and Google, that’s great. It’ll benefit Epic Games, but more importantly, the industry will be forced to change its practices, at least with regard to tying app purchase exclusivity. If the case ends in a settlement, that still means something is going in Epic Games’ favor, though it may not have as broad an application to the industry as a whole. (Epic, however, said that it’s not looking to get a special exemption from either Google or Apple.)

But even if Epic loses, it won’t be the end of this particular fight. “It sucks, it’s bad to lose, but it at least highlights the need for some sort of action from Congress to change the law,” Bergmayer said.

Congress, at least, seems interested in investigating the nature of these companies’ antitrust violations, per the House judiciary antitrust subcommittee hearing. Apple is also reportedly under a Department of Justice investigation for its App Store policies, similar in nature to the Epic Games lawsuit. However, it’s hard to say what will come of any of this, or how long it would take to make adjustments to existing antitrust laws. That’s on top of the ongoing Apple v. Pepper case and the European Union’s investigations into the company.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chairman of the antitrust subcommittee, has spoken publicly (and strongly) against these practices — particularly Apple’s.

“Apple’s tax is highway robbery,” Cicilline said in a statement emailed to Polygon. “These high fees would not exist in a competitive marketplace. It’s also outrageous that a company worth nearly $2 trillion with record-breaking profits is holding smaller companies hostage during an economic crisis. All just because it can. This is a real problem. It doesn’t just undermine innovation — it threatens the jobs and economic livelihood of the people who work at these companies.”

Source: Polygon.com

Pokémon Go Unova Week 2020 event guide

The last Pokémon Go Ultra Unlock bonus week, Unova Week, will take place from Aug. 14 at 4 p.m. ET until Aug. 21 at 4 p.m. ET.

This week spotlights Pokémon from the Unova region. Sewaddle, Cottonee, Emolga, and Bouffalant will all be making their Pokémon Go debut, and be added to the game.

Unova region Pokémon will be hatching out of seven kilometer eggs, as well as appearing in the wild. Bouffalant will also be appearing in the wild and hatching from five kilometer eggs in New York City and “the surrounding areas.” What areas directly get Bouffalant have not been specified.

Roggenrola will also appear in raids and has a chance to appear Shiny. Genesect will be the focus of five-star raids during the event period.

Shiny Roggenrola, Boldore, and Gigalith with their normal forms. Shiny Roggenrola is red and orange. Shiny Boldore and Gigalith have blue crystals instead of orange. Graphic: Julia Lee/Polygon | Image sources: Niantic/The Pokémon Company

To make the most of the event, we recommend popping an Incense to try to find any of the new Unova-region Pokémon. Should you find a Sewaddle or Cottonee, consider using a Pinap Berry to get more candy so you can evolve them. While these presumably won’t be particularly rare spawns once the event ends, it’s better to collect their candy now than to try to hunt them down once the spawn pool widens.

Source: Polygon.com

Pokémon Go Genesect raid guide: best counters and movesets

Genesect has started to appear in Pokémon Go’s tier five raids.

From Aug. 14 at 4 p.m. ET until Aug. 21 at 4 p.m. ET, Genesect will be in raids for Unova Week. It also has a chance to appear Shiny.

Shiny Genesect standing next to its normal form. Shiny Genesect is red instead of purple. Graphic: Julia Lee/Polygon | Image sources: Niantic/The Pokémon Company

The Mythical Pokémon is bug- and steel-type, which means it’s only weak to one thing: fire. Fortunately, it’s very weak to fire and it takes quadrupled damage from it. To take on Genesect with ease, we recommend the following:

  • Reshiram with Fire Fang and Overheat
  • Chandelure with Fire Spin and Overheat
  • Moltres with Fire Spin and Overhear
  • Blaziken with Fire Spin and Blast Burn

Any fire-type starter Pokémon from Community Days that know Blast Burn will help put heavy dents into Genesect. If you don’t have any of the above, just keep whacking away at it using fire-type moves.

Genesect is a pretty good bug-type attacker if you set it up with Fury Cutter and X-Scissor. It doesn’t fare very well in PvP, but if you really want to give it a shot, you can set it up with Fury Cutter, X-Scissor, and Magnet Bomb.

Source: Polygon.com

Netflix’s gamer-centric Incredibles clone Fearless doesn’t live up to The Incredibles

Remember Jack-Jack, the troublemaking, superpowered scamp from the Incredibles movies? So do the makers of Netflix’s new animated feature Fearless. The film’s premise is basically, “What if an ordinary teenage gamer had to babysit Jack-Jack, but instead of one uncontrollable superpowered baby, it was three?” Add on a few lessons about spending less time in front of a console and more time planning the future and enjoying the outside world — while still affirming gamer culture as the path to real-world heroism — and that’s pretty much the film. It isn’t particularly sophisticated either about its messages or the action it wraps them in. But it does feel carefully calculated about sandwiching a scoldier messages between praise and affirmation for a gamer mentality.

Reid (Miles Robbins) is a high school senior who hasn’t spent much time focusing on school or his offline social life. But he has spent a ton of time playing Planet Master, a video game so legendarily difficult that he’s the first person to ever reach the final level. In the game, a superhero named Captain Lightspeed (Jadakiss) fights the evil would-be space overlord Dr. Arcannis (R&B singer Miguel) and his squishy, slug-like flunky Fleech (SpongeBob SquarePants himself, Tom Kenny). Captain Lightspeed has a wide array of powers, and his infant children seem to have inherited them; Kira hasn’t manifested her abilities, but Xander can create any physical item he can imagine, Green Lantern-style, and Titus has super-strength and can channel it into concussive fields. None of them are very powerful — they can’t even walk or speak yet — but they’re more than enough to challenge an average human babysitter. Fortunately, Captain Lightspeed lives in a world where alien super-sitters are available.

Superhero baby Titus lifts a couch while Melanie and Reid discuss options in Fearless. Image: Netflix

At least, until Planet Master sends the kids through a wormhole to Reid’s world for some unarticulated reason. Fantasy stories where fiction bleeds into reality are common enough, and the crossover is usually driven by some form of magic, technology, prophecy, or fate. Fearless doesn’t bother with even the vaguest of explanations about who built universe-rupturing capabilities into Planet Master and why, or how the video-game world, where Captain Lightspeed fights his battles, interacts with Reid and his controller. Films like Tron and Wreck-It Ralph posit complicated dependent relationships between onscreen avatars and users, but Fearless covers the same interaction without once considering any of the engaging fantasy elements involved in game worlds being physical places full of strong-willed people. It amounts to this: The Planet Master world is real. Reid’s world is also real. And then out of nowhere, he’s dealing with super-babies, and so is his brainy science-project partner Melanie (black-ish’s Yara Shahidi).

It feels like a boon to the story that Reid and Melanie don’t waste more than a few seconds on pondering how Planet Master breached the barrier from the game world to their own, and they accept the “super-babies from another dimension” development pretty readily, without the endless “But this can’t be happening!” circling that keeps this kind of story from getting to the action. Similarly, when Dr. Arcannis also finds his way to Earth, the tough Army general (Gabrielle Union) in charge of response treats the whole thing like a crisis requiring many important-looking files, barked orders, and clipboards, but not particularly like a surprise or an opportunity. (Union telling a soldier, “I want a clipboard handed to me every two minutes!” is almost certainly the funniest gag in the entire movie.)

But director and co-writer Cory Edwards (Hoodwinked!) doesn’t seem to have given the movie’s science-fiction and fantasy elements any more thought than the characters do, and the approach takes a lot of the potential thrills and intrigue out of the story. Maybe the characters aren’t excited about alternate dimensions, alien invasions, and fictional overlords threatening Earth, but in theory, the creators and audience should be. Instead, after a certain point, the narrative just consists of Melanie and Reid logging time with the super-babies until Captain Lightspeed can come help Earth fight off Dr. Arcannis.

Alien slug-creature Fleech freaks out as Captain Lightspeed’s super-children crawl toward the screen in Fearless. Image; Netflix

And part of that time-logging is spent on a rapid-fire, halfhearted deconstruction of gaming obsessions. Inevitably, Melanie is an uptight grind who needs a little loosening up, but she’s also a driven super-student who lectures Reid about his life, leading to an epiphany where he triumphantly proclaims that it’s time to stop hiding behind his gamertag, [email protected] “You know what? I’ve been living my whole life through a screen,” he tells Melanie. “What good is it being Fearless in a fake world? It’s time to start being Fearless out here, where it counts.” “Wow, somebody just got off the couch,” Melanie says, admiringly. Then they go use his video game knowledge to help save the day.

It’s one of many halfhearted story beats that don’t get much setup or thematic weight, but are presented as if they’re life-changing emotional payoffs worthy of Pixar’s best stories. Fearless overall feels like a post-Pixar project, an attempt to fuse big action and humor with a voyage of personal self-discovery, as a gamer learns to get off the couch. And it does one-up Pixar in one regard: where Pixar has struggled to get characters of color onscreen in meaningful roles, all the significant characters in Fearless are Black except Reid and Arcannis. The racial diversity doesn’t make any significant difference to the story — apart from some music cues from Black artists (and a minor recurring DJ character voiced by Fat Joe), nothing in this film meaningfully touches on Black culture or character specifics. Melanie, the general, and even Captain Lightspeed himself are as thinly drawn as any generic heroes in past low-budget cartoons.

That competent-but-unexceptional tack is typical for Fearless’ studio, Canada’s Vanguard Films. Vanguard, the home of middling-to-awful animated movies like Space Chimps, Valiant, and Happily N’Ever After, is known for keeping its budgets low and its turnarounds quick, which shows in the easy shallowness of films like Fearless. It also shows in the animation, which is simplistic enough to look like a Pixar first pass. Some smaller studios compensate for lack of funding by stylizing the animation to create deliberately flat but distinctive looks. Fearless just fills the screen with copy-pasted trees and generic buildings. It’s a detail-light world to go with a detail-light story.

Even as a low-key Netflix time-waster, Fearless isn’t that much fun, except for people who really, really like the idea of super-babies. The babies are cute, and it’s mildly entertaining to watch them wreak havoc on teenagers and soldiers who aren’t prepared to deal with them. But the Incredibles short “Jack-Jack Attack” managed the same thing in less than five minutes, without self-important speeches and with a better sense of humor. Fearless isn’t terrible, but no one involved seems to have put in a level of effort that feels like they got up off that imaginary couch.

Source: Polygon.com

Riding with Red Dead Online’s most notorious gang, and more from Speedrun

Despite being the label for one of video games’ formative genres, the phrase “role-playing game” has lost much of its meaning over the last decade. We’ve assigned it to shooters, fighting games, and open-world romps alike — anything with a modicum of progression systems or character building, really. It’s less a genre now than it is a feature.

But actual role-playing still continues elsewhere. Not just in tabletop-inspired adventures like Disco Elysium or Divinity: Original Sin 2, but in the sandboxes of Rockstar Games as well. This week on Speedrun, we devoted most of our focus to the latter.

On Monday, we revisited Grand Theft Auto Online with comedians Anthony Atamanuik and John Gemberling. The episode was a crash course in the cooperative art of improv, showcasing the duo’s skills as they fleshed out an unlikely pair of characters in their delusional version of Los Santos. The journey was as chaotic as it was precise. You can get a glimpse of it below.

On Wednesday, Speedrun took a decidedly more serious turn when we met up with the Reaper Lords, the most notorious posse in Red Dead Online. Known for their impressive horse-riding shows and dramatic reenactments, the Lords — who began as a motorcycle club in GTA Online — have developed a reputation for exclusivity and secrecy among their ranks. According to the gang, only one percent of applicants actually make the cut. In this episode, we got a rare glimpse of that rigorous tryout process, before delving into the more endearing side of the gang’s tight knit community.

And finally, to wrap our week on role-playing, we brought on WWE superstar Xavier Woods to start his new game plus in Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Not only is Woods a member of one of the most prolific tag teams in wrestling history — a feat that requires no small amount of role-playing — he also happens to be working toward a PhD in psychology. So, the conversation was both showy and cerebral, as he touched on everything from his history with Final Fantasy to the joys of developing a character, both in the ring and out.

When we began our scripting for the week, we expected obstacles in our search for role-playing purists. But what we found was quite the opposite. Role-playing is flourishing, if you know where to look. The act of creating, inhabiting, and evolving a character is just as appealing as ever, with Twitch streams and YouTube channels alike devoted to that specific sort of escape. It can be challenging and nourishing in equal parts. Our subjects this week were a testament to that.

On Monday, we’re taking a few left turns with Speedrun. To start, we’re bringing on none other than action/comedy star Terry Crews (and his son Isaiah) to play Mortal Kombat 11 and wax poetic about his history with violent entertainment. As for the rest, well — I’ll get you caught up next week. See you then.

Source: Polygon.com

Fortnite vs. Apple: Fortnite players react to lawsuit, App Store removal

After a wild day of unexpected updates, discounted V-Bucks, app store removals, parody video shorts, and legal action, the dust has settled — and Fortnite remains missing from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

While takes are still flying in now, and aren’t likely to stop, since the game appears to be gone for the foreseeable future, we took a look back at some of the community and pro reactions that were happening in real time.

Before the ban

The first community reactions came shortly after the patch on Thursday morning, as fans were already trying to predict what the consequences of Epic’s new discount would be. While there were a few posters that had a good idea, one Reddit user really hit the nail on the head, correctly guessing that Epic intended to take on Apple.

The app store bans

By the time the game was actually removed from the App Store — something most people were anticipating from the beginning — it seemed that many players jumped on board for the memes. When it was delisted from the Play Store a few hours later, even fewer people were surprised.

The in-game short

The No. 1 response to the in-game video “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” appeared to be players either wondering what it was based on, or players — completely unprompted — explaining that it was based on an Apple Super Bowl commercial from 1984.

On the other hand, more than a few players were just hyped for a fight:

Other Redditors were … more creative with their response:

Pro players and content creators

While some Fortnite pros are supporting Epic, others aren’t thrilled with the disruption for mobile players. One poster on the Fortnite Competitive subreddit summed it up by saying, “Feel like people are missing the point when an entire device can’t be used to play the game when season 4 launches.”

Meanwhile, other pro players are frustrated that Epic opted to use a promotional hashtag for its own legal purposes, but often doesn’t respond to community hashtags about the game, such as #removethemech from several seasons ago.

Perma-banned former pro FaZe Jarvis took to Twitter for a little trolling:

Other Epic allies

One proponent of Epic’s actions wasn’t exactly a fan at all: It was Spotify. The streaming music giant released a statement in support of Epic taking on Apple:

Apple’s policy of taking 30% of in-app purchases affects Spotify as well, which is why Spotify makes users sign up outside of the iOS app; the same is true of Netflix. Spotify accused Apple of anti-competitive practices in the EU just last year, and Epic publicly supported the company when the European Commission launched an investigation earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Tinder parent company Match Group has voiced its support of Epic as well. While these are the two largest companies to get behind Epic’s drastic action for now, it’s possible that more could join in the future.

Source: Polygon.com

COD 2020 teaser site opens new door in Farmland in Warzone

The code discovered on the new teaser site for Call of Duty 2020 has opened a door in Call of Duty: Warzone’s Verdansk map.

The code said H6 location, which is Farmland. Now, a door has opened in the Farmland with new intel.

Here’s a video from PrestigeisKey:

Here’s closer images of what’s new in this bunker, which are all related to Call of Duty 2020:

And, here’s some high res images of what’s inside from CODTracker:

Stay tuned.

The post COD 2020 teaser site opens new door in Farmland in Warzone appeared first on Charlie INTEL.

Source: CharlieIntel.com