Movies

Published Date – 2022-01-26 20:30:00

With dozens of PlayStation 3 exclusives forever locked onto the platform thanks to its complex processor architecture, it’s a godsend that Sony isn’t making the same mistake with many of its best-selling PS4 games. Taking into account that the PlayStation 5 and its predecessor are running on hardware that isn’t all too different from modern PCs, it should come as no surprise that Sony isn’t shying away from sprucing up a few last-gen genre greats to look just a bit shinier and run a bit better on their new console.

The latest franchise to receive the honor of a technical makeover? Naughty Dog’s venerable Uncharted series, which, admittedly, has fallen out of the spotlight after laying dormant for nearly five years. Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves bundles together Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End — the thrilling conclusion to the globe-trotting escapades of treasure hunter Nathan Drake — and Uncharted: Lost Legacy, a standalone expansion that follows side-character-turned-protagonist Chloe Frazer as she explores the mountain ranges of her native India.

With Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us offering up a more grounded and gritty approach to third-person shooting, Uncharted proudly wears its blockbuster and fantasy inspirations on its sleeve. Nathan Drake’s devil-may-care attitude and constant wisecracks borrow the best from Harrison Ford and Johnny Knoxville, and considering how tiring the last two years have been on everyone, it’s admittedly quite fun to kick back and spend some time swinging, shooting, and narrowly escaping death with a few old friends.

Sure, at its core Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves is just another third-person shooter. But the near-endless barrage of high-speed chases, shootouts, and death-defying stunts separate it from the rest of the pack. Breaking up the action are plenty of “on-rails” platforming sections. Admittedly, this downtime is almost always welcome, as they usually double as moments for character development and exposition dumps, even if the platforming itself is incredibly linear in design.

With the series having nailed its gameplay loop with its second outing, it’s not entirely shocking that Uncharted 4 sticks with the tried and true — tight gunplay, some stealth sections, and some melee combat thrown in for good measure. The one big addition comes in the form of the grappling hook, which not only lets Nathan cross large gaps and heights but also provides a great way to quickly zip around combat encounters, which now make use of verticality with their level designs.

While Lost Legacy changes tack by focusing on Chloe Frazer — who, up until this point, has been relegated to the role of sidekick with minimal character development — the core gameplay is largely the same as Uncharted 4‘s. However, in a big departure for the franchise, approximately one-third of the game unfolds over a large section of the Indian mountainside, which can be explored as you see fit. This non-linear section is rather brief, but it perhaps marks the best innovation the franchise has seen to date, and this type of level design made a return in the Downtown Seattle section of The Last of Us: Part Two.

While both Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy looked great on last-gen hardware, they’re finally given a chance to really shine on PlayStation 5. There are a handful of graphics modes, including one that runs the game at a full fat 4K, albeit capped to a middling 30 frames per second. Most will probably opt for the performance mode, which doubles the framerate to 60 while keeping the 1440p resolution of the PS4 versions. Lastly, those with higher-end TVs and monitors might want to check out the 120 fps mode, which runs buttery smooth, albeit at a lower resolution of 1080p. Admittedly, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed playing both games at 120 frames per second, though the image can look a tad soft at times. There are a handful of other additions — faster loading times, adaptive trigger support, 3D audio — but let’s be honest, you came here for a higher resolution and better framerate.

On paper, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves seems like a home-run, though it’s not so straightforward in practice. Unfortunately, Uncharted 4‘s multiplayer has been cut from the final package, which is a crying shame, as it was one of the better multiplayer modes on the PS4 — until microtransactions sullied it, that is. As for the upgrade path, anyone who owns a copy of Uncharted 4 or Lost Legacy can upgrade to Legacy of Thieves for a mere $10 — as long as you aren’t trying to upgrade a copy that you snagged for free on PlayStation Plus. For those who don’t have a copy of any of the games, or for those who have disc versions but are stuck with a PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, you’ll have to shell out $50, which, depending on who you ask, might be a bit steep for a pair of last-gen games.

Upgrade and pricing quibbles aside, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves is a solid collection that impresses on most fronts, even if it’s a bit of a straightforward re-release. It’s tough to say if the series as a whole will see a revitalization down the road, but for now, this package is a no-brainer for anyone who’s keen on giving these games a go on beefier hardware. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of mindless fun now and then.

This review is based on the PlayStation 5 version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Sony Interactive Entertainment.



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Published Date – 2022-01-26 16:38:10

This article contains spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett episode 5

This week’s The Book of Boba Fett was effectively an episode of The Mandalorian. Din Djarin’s return delivered the goods, giving us a great idea of what to expect in the next season of his own show, dropping in some fun references to the wider Star Wars universe, and some stylish action from Disney Plus directorial stalwart Bryce Dallas Howard.

Much of the second part of the episode saw Din Djarin and mechanic Peli Motto working on a replacement for the Razor Crest. Din’s ship got completely destroyed by Moff Gideon in season two of The Mandalorian, and he spent the rest of the run hitching a ride with Boba Fett. After the dispiriting sight of him flying commercial, he headed to Motto’s place to purchase his new ride.

This turns out to be an N-1 starfighter – aka the Naboo starfighter from The Phantom Menace. This sleek and stylish craft was developed by the Theed Palace Space Vessel Engineering Corps, and used by the Royal Naboo Security Forces for protecting Queen Amidala and planetary defense. But, in the 60 years since The Phantom Menace, this particular craft has clearly seen better days.

On seeing the dusty half-assembled ship, Din understandably dismissed it as a piece of junk, asking for his credits back. However, after spending the time fixing it up and adding some aftermarket mods, it proved to be a jaw-droppingly fast and responsive ride.

Along the way, we also got some neat insight into this rare craft. Peli Motto explained that it differs from the typical Star Wars craft, in that it was handcrafted rather than being built by droids, which is a neat way to explain the shift in design aesthetic between prequel and original trilogies.

We also learned that these ships are so old they don’t have ID tags, the same quality that allowed the Razor Crest to “stay off the grid”. As a bonus, the craft can also “jump into hyperspace with no docking ring”, though I believe X-Wings also have this function.

For a moment, I thought this might even be the specific Naboo starfighter Anakin used in The Phantom Menace. It’s possible to distinguish between them by the markings next to the cockpit, so I fired up Episode I and checked, but this is indeed a different ship.

The as-yet-unnamed starfighter is certain to play a big role in The Mandalorian‘s third season, and I note with excitement that the astromech droid slot has been replaced with a Grogu-friendly mini-cockpit. Let’s hope the little guy ends up in there soon.



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Published Date – 2022-01-26 04:42:25

Photo via Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival is usually hosted in Utah, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the 2022 event online. The good news is that movie lovers outside the Utah area can get in on the fun virtually.

So if you want to enjoy some new and experimental films, here is everything you need to know about Sundance 2022.

What Is The Sundance Film Festival? 

Starting in 1978 as the Utah/US Film Festival, the event attempted to bring more filmmakers to Utah. The event proved popular, and it led to the formation of the Sundance Institute non-profit, with the festival changing its name to match the organization in 1984. 

The festival has become famous for premiering some now-classic movies including, Deliverance, Paris Is Burning, and 500 Days of Summer. 

How To Get Access To Sundance Film Festival 2022

This year, Sundance TV will be bringing the festival into homes all across America via streaming. If you want to participate, you’ll need to buy tickets on the Sundance website.

Several ticket packages are available, each giving you access to a different number of movies and perks. 

The cheapest option is the Single Film Pass at $20. This allows you to select one film showing of your choice. This is perfect if there is one specific film you are interested in. 

Next is the Explorer Pass, which retails for $50. Designed for people who want to push their boundaries. The Explorer Pass offers access to the New Frontier and Indie Episodic parts of the festival. This includes a raft of fantastic short and experimental films. This is also the only package open to viewers outside of the USA.

The $100 Day Package gives you everything from the Explorer Pass as well as four tickets for a single day’s showings, which is perfect for those who are looking for a binge-watch movie day. 

The Awards Only Package retails for $300, and like the Day Package, it gives you all of the Explorer Pass perks. However, it also lets you watch the eight award-winner showings, which will show the films that have won the festival’s most prestigious accolades. Due to the festival’s reputation for high-quality cinema, these showings are sure to have several movies that will have you looking at the medium in a whole new light.

The top package is the $750 Festival Package. This package gives you access to ten tickets for films of your choice, access to the award-winner screenings, and everything in the Explorer Pass, making it perfect for those who want to see as much of the festival as possible.

How To Watch Sundance Film Festival 2022

When you purchase your package, you’ll be able to see the screening schedule, allowing you to pick which films you want to watch. 

Then you’ll be able to log into your showing via your web browser or via the Online Festival Screenings App, which you can get on AppleTV, FireTV, Android, Roku, and iOS. 



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Published Date – 2022-01-25 16:48:50

The 94th annual Academy Awards are being held at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater on March 27. They come at a turning point for awards shows: viewing figures are down, COVID-19 has rubbed off some of the glitz, and watching rich people congratulate other rich people with gold statues while actors preach from the podium is increasingly grating.

That may be why the Oscars team has taken so long to confirm a host, but one person who might have done a good job has conclusively ruled himself out: Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Speaking with People Magazine, Miranda was asked if he’d take the job and revealed he’s already turned them down:

“I have said no in the past. I really don’t think that that’s my skillset. It’s not something I’m comfortable doing, hosting, mainly because I’ve been lucky enough to work with incredible hosts. I’ve written for Neil Patrick Harris, I’ve written his opening numbers and closing numbers for the Tonys. That is a whole other thing. He is genius at that, he and Hugh Jackman. I’m happy to write for the host, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable hosting.”

Hamilton

So who could be up for the big job? Variety recently ran down the candidates, ruling out Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jimmy Kimmel, and Tiffany Haddish. On the maybes list is trio Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph, though Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez are reportedly the Academy’s ideal team.

Perhaps the most fun names being bandied about are Tom Holland and Zendaya, hosting as a duo. Holland said when asked “Of course, I would host the f***ing Oscars!” and said he’d like Zendaya at his side: By myself would be great, and with someone I love would be even better. I think a shared experience is always better than a solo experience.”

But perhaps Holland and Zendaya might be a teeny bit too unpredictable and chaotic for the Academy. But hey, if it was a disaster, at least it’d be an entertaining one.

Let’s hope we hear some confirmation soon, though anyone accepting the job should be aware it can easily turn into a poisoned chalice.



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Published Date – 2022-01-25 03:13:32

I’m going to be honest, my eyes glazed over mere moments into the opening cutscene of this one. As a connoisseur of mid-co-op PvE shooters, I’ve seen it all — the horrifying, unforgiving atmosphere of GTFO, the whacky and diverse excursions of Deep Rock Galactic, or the bland re-hashing of the legendary Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood. I really enjoy Rainbow Six Siege’s slow-paced and thoughtful gameplay loop, so I was excited to see how it could be utilized in such an environment. But when I saw the Statue of Liberty’s head get popped off by some kind of black goo I rolled my eyes. I immediately knew this was going to be another gutless, apolitical, vapid exercise in monotony. I was right.

Rainbow Six Extraction is… hollow. The main loop breaks down like so: enter a map with three distinct sectors alone or with two others, complete a randomly assigned objective in each, and either leave or continue on to the next. There’s a sort of appealing risk-reward dynamic in whether to keep trucking on or back out early between objectives, but the choice was usually relatively easy to make. Never did I feel like we just may be able to get by — after a few sessions it was clear whether we were going to get creamed or not should my squad continue on. 

The threat of Extraction is the Parasite. Yep, just “the Parasite.” Incredible. “Something something our nation is under threat, we need to send in our most bestest boys, yadda yadda yadda. Something about a VR environment for training” – look, I just could not be bothered to parse the lore after they named the enemy the Parasite. The phoned-in quality of Rainbow Six Extraction is evident by the title screen, and I was just ready to jump in and shoot my gun at things. 

Fortunately, the shooting is pretty good because — surprise — it’s just Rainbow Six Siege. It would be like if Overwatch or Team Fortress 2 took those kinda fun seasonal PvE game modes, repackaged them with a few new horribly boring maps and random objectives, and sold them for $40. It’s actually kind of mind-boggling.

I think the real lack of depth comes from just how simplistic levels can be. Whether it’s killing a few targets, finding some little fleshy tumor things and shooting them, or defending a point, it just never feels nearly as dynamic as it should. Enemies will sort of lumber around, but they go down pretty quickly. Some of them shoot, some of them explode, and they all look almost exactly the same. About the only interesting enemy mechanic is “nests,” which spawn more frequently unless destroyed and are found literally everywhere. Stealth, at least on more moderate difficulties, is a non-concern as long as your team knows how to aim. So it all sits somewhere between the butt-clenching stealth tactics of GTFO and the robust dynamism and fun of Deep Rock Galactic. And it’s boring.

Gameplay is lifted straight from Rainbow Six Siege which left me begging the question — how was the development time spent? Maps are largely bland (and ugly), enemies are boring to fight and very rarely provide the thrills of normal human-controlled Operators, and the progression system is laughably stilted. If the guns, gameplay, and characters (and even most of the content, since a large portion is recycled from Siege’s Containment event) were already here, what took four years? Extraction honestly could’ve, and should’ve, been a free update to Siege

The biggest issue here, and it’s one that’s kind of nebulous and will certainly vary from person to person, is the feeling of listlessness the game leaves me with. When I drop into a map, I simply have no drive to keep going. Unlike similar games, where secrets could be hiding around any corner, or a surprising combination of enemies can really give you a run for your money, Extraction just feels trite. I can’t put into words why Left 4 Dead is still appealing after all these years, but it sure as hell doesn’t have anything to do with its story or what kind of phone charms you can hang on your gun.

On that note, the progression system is like a battle pass of cosmetics and meaningful gameplay upgrades rolled into a single bewildering package. Complete challenges and you’ll level up, earning cosmetics, new levels, and gadgets. There’s not much rhyme or reason to what you’ll be unlocking — it’s like a spreadsheet-driven drip-feed of goodies and gizmos that just fall into your lap as you play. And in case you were wondering, yes, there are microtransactions. 

Operators level separately to this challenge-based progression, and if they’re wounded in a mission it takes time for them to heal back up. If they’re downed completely, they’ll get coated in a hearty helping of AB foam and you’ll need to retrieve them on your next run-through of the map. This forced me to play Operators I wasn’t entirely comfortable with, and it reminded me a bit of Darkest Dungeon’s stress management mechanics. It’s also a good way to ensure players are leveling multiple Operators, rather than just mainlining their favorite. Yeah, this mechanic is pretty good. 

This all probably sounds overly negative and honestly, maybe it should be. I truly believe Rainbow Six Extraction has no legs, even with the “free” inclusion in Xbox Game Pass. If what’s on offer is the effort of the developers after a lengthy development time, I don’t foresee any meaningful content drops or changes coming any time soon. This particular market is (thankfully) becoming saturated with better games. If you want my advice, pick one of the many I mentioned anywhere in this review and play that instead. 

This review is based on the PC version of the game. A copy was provided for review by Ubisoft.



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Published Date – 2022-01-24 15:08:38

TOKYO, JAPAN – SEPTEMBER 10: Keanu Reeves attends the Japan premiere of ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ at Roppongi Hills on September 10, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images)

Keanu Reeves is unquestionably one of the most universally-beloved actors in the business, a reputation he fully deserves thanks to decades of being the nicest and kindest guy in almost every room he walks into, but even the actor’s global popularity couldn’t prevent The Matrix Resurrections from bombing in China.

Even though the fourth installment in the sci-fi action franchise topped the local box office in its first weekend, the numbers were still poor enough to hammer another nail into the coffin of the movie’s profitability.

As it turns out, local audiences may have been actively boycotting Resurrections, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. Reeves was recently announced for the Tibet House U.S Benefit Concert on March 3, which has reportedly led to Chinese nationalists snubbing the latest chapter in The Matrix saga in protest.

The annual event raises money to help protect and ensure the survival of Tibetan culture, with the People’s Republic of China going to great lengths to ensure that the thorny political issues surrounding Tibet’s provincial status don’t drum up any unwanted publicity. In fact, no feature films can be released in Chinese theaters if they reference Tibet, its people, or its culture, such is the desire to prevent the situation making international headlines.

Keanu Reeves potentially causing his own blockbuster to bomb by agreeing to make an appearance at a virtual fundraiser isn’t something we expected to hear, but we live in a world that’s maybe crazier than ever, so it’s not much of a surprise, either.



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Published Date – 2022-01-24 03:40:27

Photo via HBO

In his first outing in the DCEU, John Cena’s Peacemaker — the world’s most violent pacifist — came up against a kaiju-sized alien starfish. For his first solo vehicle, however, Christopher Smith is facing a threat that’s much more grounded and commonplace in its evil. As revealed over the episodes released so far, Smith’s father Auggie (played by Terminator 2 star Robert Patrick) is really the former white supremacist supervillain, White Dragon.

This stark departure from the normal types of antagonists who feature in superhero content caused a bit of a challenge for writer/director James Gunn as he had to balance the tonal demands of the genre with the seriousness that depicting a real-world evil like Auggie’s requires. In conversation with Syfy, Gunn outlined the “delicate” balance he had to achieve with Auggie’s character and his arc across the series.

“And it was very hard to write Auggie, because Auggie is such a piece of s–t racist,” Gunn said. “I didn’t want to pull back on who he was as a racist and to make him this McDonald’s-lite version of what a racist is, which is what you would normally see in television shows. But I didn’t want to serve his bulls–t, either. That to me was the most delicate stuff in the show that I really was careful about and tried to do the best that I could to be sensitive and also be authentic at the same time.”

Patrick is no stranger to playing villains, like the merciless T-1000 in the aforementioned classic action movie, but Auggie has to be his most hateable role to date due to the character’s vicious racism. Ironically, though, while Gunn found him challenging to write, Patrick told Syfy that he found Auggie very “easy” to portray due to his totally unrepentant nature and lack of inner conflict. “He’s a horrible guy, which is really easy to play… which is odd,” Patrick admitted.

While Auggie is an original character for the screen, he’s inspired by the two different versions of White Dragon from the comics who were also neo-Nazi vigilantes — namely, William Heller and David Ducannon. Last week’s episode four revealed our first look at White Dragon’s pretty comics-accurate (and also very Power Rangers-y) costume. But will Auggie actually don the suit again himself and force his son to battle him?

Chris Smith’s fight against his evil father continues as Peacemaker premieres new episodes Thursdays on HBO Max.



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Published Date – 2022-01-23 14:47:18

HBO/DCEU

James Gunn recently admitted that he had no interest whatsoever in assuming control of the DCEU after receiving plenty of fan support to take the reins on the shared superhero universe, but he’s definitely proven his credentials should he ever change his mind.

The Suicide Squad briefly usurped Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman last summer to become the saga’s top-rated project on Rotten Tomatoes, before ultimately dropping down to a still-impressive 90%, level with Shazam! but trailing just behind the 93% accumulated by Gal Gadot’s solo debut.

However, Peacemaker has now emerged at the very head of the pack, with the HBO Max spinoff series currently boasting a 94% score, giving Gunn two of the three best-reviewed efforts in DCEU history. It’s an achievement worthy of praise, albeit one that heaps more pressure on the mystery TV show he’s cooking up behind the scenes.

The DCEU has struggled for critical and commercial consistency since its very inception, but hopes are high that an upcoming slate including Black Adam, The Flash, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Batgirl, and more will continue the property’s recent hot streak of success.

As it turns out, Gunn has been the one leading the charge towards sustained acclaim, so let’s hope he keeps it up for at least a little while longer.



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Published Date – 2022-01-23 03:51:28

There have been a lot of beloved duos on the screen that worked together but didn’t enjoy it one bit. Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in ABC’s 1985-1989 breakout hit series Moonlighting comes to mind. There were rumored high tensions between the stars of 2009-2016’s Castle, Nathan Fillion and Kate Beckett, that some say caused her to leave the show entirely. But one iconic friendship on-screen stands out as one of the most memorable and beloved, Batman and Robin, on the 60’s comedy-action hit show Batman. The Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder stuck together through thick and thin for the three years the show was on the air and a theatrical feature film. You’ll be glad to know that the stars behind the masks, Adam West and Burt Ward, were equally close in real life.

Ward recently spoke with Closer Weekly and questions about his most iconic role arose in the interview. His very first audition was for Batman while he was still studying acting at UCLA and helping his father with his real estate business. A chance meeting with a producer and a lot of initiative from 19-year-old Ward led to him getting cast as Robin in the show. Right off the bat (snicker) upon meeting West, they got along.

“Within five minutes of meeting, the two of us were laughing so hard they had to tell us to quiet down. We just clicked. He was the funniest person I have ever met in my entire life.”

This friendship continued throughout the rest of their lives even during the downtime from filming the show when they would go out on weekends to play tennis. After the ending of the show and the death of West’s mother, the two became even closer and reunited with each other many times publicly at conventions, tv reunion specials, several animated series in which they reprised their roles, on episodes of The Simpsons, Spongebob SquarePants, and Futurama, and in a 2003 biographical action-comedy film Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt.

In the interview, Ward also discussed his relationship with his wife since 1980 Tracy Posner, their activities with animal rights groups together, the dangers of doing his own stunts on Batman, and that if it wasn’t for ABC insisting that he only play Robin, almost getting the lead role in The Graduate. Ward always comes across as charming and certainly has a lot of stories to tell, many of which he relates in his 1995 autobiography Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights. More than anything, we’re always pleased to hear that Bruce Wayne and his ward were as thick as the thieves they thwarted on tv.



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Published Date – 2022-01-22 15:42:48

Image via Netflix

Executive producer and showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich has promised that Season 3 of The Witcher will pull out the big guns to adapt Time of Contempt, the fourth book in the saga.

While the White Wolf had a relatively successful debut on Netflix back in late 2019, the production crew managed to smooth out quite a few rough edges with the recent release of Season 2, implying that the streaming giant is growing more ambitious with every chapter of Geralt of Rivia’s story.

The team’s next undertaking, will definitely challenge them beyond what they’ve had to face up to now, because as Witcher fans will probably tell you, Time of Contempt is essentially the most action-packed and plot-heavy book in the whole pentalogy.

As the lead creative, Hissrich must already realize the colossal scale of what they’re going to have to accomplish, so she’s taking the time to assure fans on social media that they’re going “huge” with the upcoming third run.

When asked if Season 3 will have a bigger budget, here’s what the EP had to say in response:

In terms of how author Andrzej Sapkowski sets up the narrative of The Witcher, you can divide the books into two timelines: One before the events of Thanedd, and one that chronicles what comes next. As such, it’s safe to say that things won’t be the same for Geralt and his companions after the events of Season 3.

Considering the fact that the writers have already taken liberties with the storyline before, though, book fans might be in for a few surprises when we arrive at the events of the so-called “Thanedd coup.”



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