DVD Reviews Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Boy Who Stole The Sun: DevLog #8

Update Time! Some key features have finally been implemented and settled. It almost feels like the main features are stable. In gamedev, stability is often a fleeting feeling. Anyway, in this video update, I show off graphical and gameplay interactions with snow and water. Flurries have different responses to environmental zones than the player has.

The player has three death states now, being frozen, knocked out (regular death from health loss), and the total-ice-cube-frozen which happens instantly when the player touches the ocean. Since we've got all these working now, there's also a debug key to revive the player.

Special thanks goes to Vincent for his diligent debugging and keeping the list of broken stuff to a minimum. Thanks Vincent!

[Vincent's website: https://studiohitc.wixsite.com/home]

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Girls Trip (2017)

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Be it chlamydia or divorce - the Flossy Posse stood strong.  The years have weakened the connection between Ryan, Sasha, Lisa, and Dina, but a holiday weekend with just the girls holds hope that the love they held for each other will see them through the rough times and back to each other's support.  Malcolm D. Lee directs Girls Trip, with the screenplay written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, and stars Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Queen Latifah.

God bless the holy fools that keep the rest of us from spiraling into despair.  Girls Trip scores its best scenes on the work of one, Dina, played by Tiffany Haddish in a performance so brilliant I was having trouble keeping up with her nuances through the laughter.  Dina showers her loved ones in decadence, sparing a side grin for the old man who flashes her for having the gumption to lay it all out, and lord does she know exactly how far to push her stories.  Haddish gauges the temperature of the room perfectly, going broad then playing dumb before whispering punchlines that give director Malcolm D. Lee perfect notes to end her scenes on.

Her performance also glimpses at the heart behind Girls Trip.  When Haddish invites her friends to pray along with her, she strikes a wonderful tone between playfulness and sincerity without sacrificing comedic momentum or emotional joy.  She makes Dina the unlikeliest of saints, managing to be weary, uplifting, and hilarious all at once in low moments with lines like, "I know you keep me around for laughs, but I love you heifers."  The ribbing is all part of her generous spirit with Haddish making Dina someone whose life overflows with joy and confidence so why not get her friends a taste in the meantime.


Detroit (2017)

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The summer is long, the heat of the day bleeds into the night, and the citizens of Detroit grow restless. After suffering one too many injustices from the police, a riot begins.  In the center of the chaos a small group of police officers hold several men and women hostage, demanding answers for a crime that doesn't exist.  Kathryn Bigelow directs Detroit, with the screenplay written by Mark Boal, and stars John Boyega, Will Poulter, and Algee Smith.

Detroit is a film without sympathy.  Director Kathryn Bigelow displays just enough knowledge of the economic backdrop of the Detroit riots to bring up the question why she did not present those implications visually.  Detroit is a film without empathy.  Time and again, Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal settle for thin stereotypes of characters while finding ways of demeaning or presenting "both sides" as childish adults given too much power with not enough sense to use it without getting people killed.

Detroit is a moral failure so complete that I felt pity for the faces paraded about to be beaten, stripped, cursed at, and treated without mercy for over two hours of oblivious commentary.  This film is beyond shame, it should be taught as an example of white creative authorities stepping far outside their comfort zone without asking if what they were making was of any value.  It reinforces the worst stereotypes of liberal thinking - that a few childish officers are to blame for widespread violence against black Americans while going the extra grotesque step of blaming black Americans for their condition.  There is no systemic analysis, no characters that exist without degradation, no grasp that the conditions of the Detroit riots were brought about in-part by ignorant and hateful white people.

Bigelow steps wrong with the first frame and continues spiraling down.  The economic conditions of Detroit get a cartoon explanation, which suggests Bigelow sees the very real White flight as a fantasy, and never follows up by showing poverty in action.  Boal writes employed characters, on the cusp of breaking out into musical stardom, or otherwise able to provide for families in a way that runs counter to history.  The phrase, "knowing enough to be dangerous," raced to the front of my mind so many times - how could Bigelow and Boal be aware of history without putting it to work creatively?


Atomic Blonde (2017)

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The Berlin Wall is about to come down, but not before the spies who've staked their claim make one last gasp for global supremacy.  Lorraine Broughton, stoic and strong MI6 field agent, enters the fray hoping to secure a list that threatens to expose every spy in Berlin.  David Leitch directs Atomic Blonde, with the screenplay written by Kurt Johnstad, and stars Charlize Theron.

New rule, which I hope is broken some day, James McAvoy and Eddie Marsan appearing in the same film is a sure sign what I'm watching will not rise above mediocrity.  They were in the awful "edgy" Filth together and both have supporting roles in Atomic Blonde, another film so insufferably up its tailpipe in slick self-aware cool that I briefly wanted to switch it off.  I've come to appreciate aspects of McAvoy performances and frequently love Marsan, so here's hoping they find a way to never cross paths again.

For Atomic Blonde itself, by god is the first hour a slog.  Director David Leitch worked with Chad Stahelski on the first John Wick film, and it's hard to shake off the sensation that Leitch is looking to prove he is the powerhouse creative talent.  Between spraying graffiti on interstitial text details setting the stage for spy game shenanigans of Lorraine (Charlize Theron), and lens flare dominating so many scenes I'm surprised J.J. Abrams doesn't have a cinematography credit, Atomic Blonde demands attention.  It reeks of desperation to please, an idea not easily shaken by totally unnecessary lesbian sex scene and the death of James Gasciogne, played by Sam Hargrave.  Hargrave's resemblance to both Keanu Reeves and Roger Moore combined with his early death is yet another loud, "This isn't John Wick and/or James Bond!"


Mafia 3 (2016)

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If this is your first time reading Pixels in Praxis or are averse to spoilers, check out our FAQ before proceeding.

Start with his name, "Lincoln Clay."  First name borrowed from the President known for freeing slaves via legislature and the Emancipation Proclamation, last a tip of the hat to Cassius Clay - better known as Muhammad Ali - the greatest sportsman in history with a rich legacy of fighting for Civil Rights.  Neither had it easy, and on name alone the player character of Mafia 3 has mighty expectations to bear on his shoulders.  Whether developers Hangar 13 bothered to think this far with his name or not is irrelevant, this is his name and this is what it invokes.

Had Hangar 13 bothered with nuance in respect to Mafia 3's player character it might have had something interesting on its hands.  Instead, Mafia 3 goes about treating Lincoln and his surroundings with the vaguest understanding of what life was like in the 1960s for black Americans.  Hangar 13 gets the vernacular down just fine with plenty of moments where Lincoln is referred to or calls others the n-word.  But this is like a suburban white kid rapping along with Public Enemy, the energy comes from saying the word instead of understanding the political, social, and economic conditions that make it such a violent slur.