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Can't Stop the Movies

Yooka-Laylee (2017)

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

I'm not immune to nostalgia.

That's the most painful lesson I learned playing Yooka-Laylee.  It was one of the few projects I backed on Kickstarter and one I was excited for.  Colorful levels built on stone monuments with gameplay built from the core of old Rare employees who made their mark during the Nintendo 64 era.  They were responsible for some games ahead of their time like the complex and awkward-to-control shooter Jet Force Gemini, brilliant bits of destructive ingenuity in Blast Corps, and set the standard for console competitive multiplayer shooters with GoldenEye 007.

A solid pedigree, but you may notice I didn't include their platformers like Banjo-Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64 in that list.  Those were, at best, clunky if charming with far too much reliance on collecting things instead of tight platforming.  They still had their moments with Donkey Kong 64's "Donkey Kong Rap" setting an impossibly high bar of cheer while going through what each member of the crew can do.  So I let those positive memories numb my usual resistance to nostalgia, backed Yooka-Laylee based on its pedigree and colorful screenshots, and waited - waited - waited - and waited some more - for the game to be released.


Trespass Against Us (2017)

Chad looks at his life of crime and wonders if he's leading his kids down a path of getaway driving.  After pushing his luck too far by burglarizing the home of a powerful political official, Chad and his family become targets of the police.  Adam Smith directs Trespass Against Us, with the screenplay written by Alastair Siddons, and stars Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson.

"Hell hath no fury like a locked-up supergoat."

So says Colby in a moment that has Brendan Gleeson trying to convey smarts as the head of a family of criminals screwing with the local police and a man who might be blubbering out a legit belief.  Considering the way Trespass Against Us slips from one tone to the next with all the grace of a drunk elephant both readings are possible.  It's also entirely possible Gleeson came up with the odd rambling leading to high-point "supergoat" exchange as a way of mentally escaping from this dreadful flick.

This isn't the first time Gleeson's played a conflicted man of God.  However, the last time was in the grossly overlooked Calvary, and now stands a man doused in blue paint up in a makeshift church holding a painting of Jesus while ranting about how the cops persecute people like Colby (Gleeson) and are thus like Jesus.  I'll go with this to a point, and I'm all for people stealing bread if their community isn't interested in having a system that keeps families fed, but after Colby's son Chad (Michael Fassbender) breaks the neck of their dog I have to question Colby's read of the scripture.  Neither of them have it as rough as poor Lyndsey Marshal, who's gone from playing Cleopatra to the role of worried wife in Trespass Against Us.


Final Fantasy XV (2016)

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

I treasured my earliest moments with Final Fantasy XV (FFXV moving on).  Noctis has to get out of his car, which ran out of gas, and help his three friends push the now-useless hunk of metal to the closest gas station.  The friends gently rib on each other as the soundtrack swells to a charming cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" performed by Florence + The Machine.  "This is how it should be," I thought as warmth overtook my heart, "a silly road trip with the occasional monster clash is just what these anxiety-filled times need."

It was barely a couple of hours later until cracks formed in the charming facade, and it was over something as simple as getting into the car.  Driving around with your buddies was one of the focal points of the advertising and is the player's primary mode of getting around the world.  After parking my car for gas while getting some quests I returned to the car and pressed X to enter.  Noctis had his own ideas, and jumped instead of entering the car.  I waited for the prompt to enter and hit X again.  Noctis, once more, displayed some fine cardio instead of doing the thing I wanted him to do - get in the car.  I walked back a bit, slowly approached the car, and pressed X for a third time.  This time a cutscene started for a quest that was sharing the same space as the car I wanted to enter.


Me Before You (2016)

Louisa Clark, newly unemployed, answers an ad requesting companionship for Will Traynor.  Will is bitter about life after an accident paralyzed most of his body from the chest down.  Through Lou's optimism, Will may find a new lease on life, or is set to leave on his own terms.  Thea Sharrock directs Me Before You, with the screenplay written by Jojo Moyes, and stars Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin.

Me Before You has one thing going for it over the similarly awful The Theory of Everything.  Both share wheelchair-bound protagonists dealing with their differently-abled bodies in a white land of splendor and luxury.  At least Me Before You has the storytelling sense to make the romance between Lou (Emilia Clarke) and Will (Sam Claflin) a total fantasy complete with pristine photography.  Heck, Me Before You even has many scenes within a literal castle to really hammer home the fairytale vibe.

Aesthetics aside, Me Before You is reprehensible in its ethical stance that it's better to die as you wish than live in luxury with a wheelchair.  That's "the twist" and if any of you readers are upset at that then, well, you're reading the wrong reviewer.  There is no way to write about Me Before You without taking into consideration Will's suicide at the end, which puts the fairytale that comes before in a cruel light.  All the glitz, glamour, orchestral swelling, pop-laden, and clearly shot soft romance means little to the manipulative ass that is Will.


The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

John Clayton III, once known as Tarzan, does not want to aid his countrymen in securing Congo land for diamond mining.  But his adventurous wife Jane, bolstered by rumors that slavery may be alive and well in the Congo, stir the part of John who will forever be Tarzan and cannot ignore those sins.  David Yates directs The Legend of Tarzan, with the screenplay written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, and stars Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie.

There are few directors who manage to generate apathy and anger toward their products.  David Yates is one of those directors who managed to secure the keys to the Harry Potter franchise after a unremarkable career mostly spent in television.  Starting with The Order of the Phoenix, he drained the Harry Potter world of the charm and identity the cast and previous directors infused in the stories.  With respect to former Can't Stop the Movies reviewer Ryan, who has enjoyed some of Yates' work, the best thing I can say about The Deathly Hallows Part II is that Yates' drab style didn't prevent the performers from giving the climax an appropriate level of emotional panache.

The Legend of Tarzan, released in what was the year of our lord 2016, already had several things working against it.  Tarzan as a character is one of the prototypes for the white man's burden turned into action hero as Tarzan controlled and navigated the wilds in a manner his darker skinned contemporaries could not.  For the character to work at all it would require Tarzan be given some degree of historical context or ignore the problems entirely to embrace the white savior fantasy for what it is.  Yates, in what may be the most stunning cop outs in modern cinema, relates the slave-related struggle of diamond mining in the Congo to a few open credit title cards.  Then it got worse.