Us Tops Box Office With Second-Best Opening Weekend of 2019

Jordan Peele’s horror film Us opened in first place at the domestic box office, becoming the second-best opening weekend of 2019 after Captain Marvel, which dropped to second place at the box office this weekend.

The over $70 million opening makes Peele’s new film the third-best horror opening of all time, and the best opening for an original horror film, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The only horror films with bigger openings are It ($123.4 million) and the 2018 Halloween sequel ($76.2 million).

Continue reading…

New My Hero Academia Movie Coming This Winter

A new My Hero Academia film is in the works.

According to Crunchyroll, the new film will hit theaters this winter in Japan and series creator, Kohei Horikoshi, will oversee production. The film will feature an original story, and no western release date has been announced.

Toho announced the upcoming film at the 2019 Plus Ultra Stage at AnimeJapan. This marks the second full-length My Hero Academia feature film to be produced.

Baba is You Review – Game-Changer

Much as we ride roller coasters because we like to be frightened, we solve puzzles because we like to be challenged–and the more complex the puzzle, the more satisfied we can expect to be when it’s finally solved. Baba is You has a prodigious capacity for frustration. This deceptively simple-looking indie puzzle game, by Finnish developer Arvi Teikari, swiftly approaches the heights of difficulty scaled by such vexing modern classics as Stephen’s Sausage Roll and The Witness, and shares with those games an uncompromising attitude that isn’t afraid to alienate newcomers intimidated by a challenge. It’s a puzzle game fan’s puzzle game in other words, as grueling as they come. It’s a sharper mind than mine that can make it through its later puzzles without misery. Whatever Baba is You’s shortcomings are, ease isn’t one of them.

Baba is You has an appealing conceit. The basic gameplay resembles an ’80s top-down puzzle title like Sokoban or Adventures of Lolo: you control a kind of sheep or rabbit character called Baba, who moves around a fixed environment, pushes objects, and pursues a goal. But many of the rules that govern the game–including what can be traversed, what can be moved, what’s hazardous, what’s the objective, and even what’s under your command–are represented on screen as blocks of text arranged into phrases that work as commands. These blocks can be manipulated and the phrases rearranged, empowering you to eliminate restrictions, neutralize threats, and redefine the conditions of victory. In this way, the solutions for the puzzles in Baba is You are found through rewriting the terms of each problem.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Most words refer either to things (such as “wall”, “lava”, or “flag”) or to properties of things (such as “stop”, “push”, or “win”). When a thing is connected to a property with the verb “is,” that thing adopts that property, and can be modified with various conjunctions, prepositions, verbs, and adjectives, all of which follow the logic of a programming language. For example, suppose on a stage “Baba is you,” “flag is win,” and Baba and the flag are on opposite sides of a lake of lava. If “lava is hot” and “Baba is melt,” then Baba can’t pass the lava to reach the flag. But if “lava is push,” you can push the lava out of the way to reach the goal. Better yet, if “lava is you,” you can reach the flag as the lava, leaving Baba behind entirely.

Baba is You is never better than in these moments of sudden realization–when it dawns on you that you can rewrite the rules and change, get rid of, or become the obstacle in your path, allowing you to figure out what can be done to solve a challenging puzzle. Most of these moments occur early on, as you familiarize yourself with the game’s mechanics and start to understand the way that it wants you to approach its puzzles. Baba is You encourages lateral thinking by the nature of its design, and after 15 or 20 stages, you begin to get a feel for its peculiar problems and the oblique strategies they require. The game’s surprises are genuinely delightful, but they are primarily front loaded.

The aesthetic is lo-fi in the extreme, though not without its charms. Its crude lines and simple blocks of color look like a child’s rendition of a NES game in crayon, every letter of the words that make up the commands scrawled in a shaky hand. In later, more complex puzzles, when instructions are crowding the screen and different objects are teeming all around you, scrutinizing this primitive style for clues can feel a bit like looking for codes in an abstract expressionist painting.

Less successful is the music, which is bland, simplistic, and incredibly repetitive. Modeled after retro game soundtracks, it sounds like a poor approximation. It had such an adverse effect on my concentration that it wasn’t long before I muted it and listened to my own music.

As the game progresses, and especially as the language involved gets more complex, words are ushered in whose meaning seems vague and whose purpose remains hazy, and that can make certain puzzles infuriatingly obscure.

Baba is You is lean, stark, and conspicuously light on instruction. New words and conditions are introduced without commentary; what things mean is never explained, and how things function is yours to learn in practice. Such hard-lined rigor makes you feel your intelligence is being respected. It also has the tendency to leave you completely bewildered and confused. The genre’s best games aspire to teach you how to solve their puzzles as they are presented to you, parceling out crucial information elegantly, and subtly, as you proceed from one challenge to the next. The ideal is a kind of unspoken guidance, acquainting you with rules and parameters in a way that feels totally intuitive and clear.

Baba is You doesn’t always do this so well. The earliest levels of its overworld map–including a preliminary stage that offers control prompts for how to navigate, undo actions, and reset–show a few simple approaches to the game’s unique brand of problem-solving. But as the game progresses, and especially as the language involved gets more complex, words are ushered in whose meaning seems vague and whose purpose remains hazy, and that can make certain puzzles infuriatingly obscure. It’s one thing to be confounded by a puzzle, and quite another to be uncertain how the puzzle works or what the puzzle wants. Often, I thought I knew what an ambiguous word did only to find that it didn’t actually do what I thought. More than once I solved a puzzle without understanding why.

No Caption ProvidedGallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6

For instance, every level has a “you.” Usually it’s Baba, but it can also be a wall, flag, or a little red avatar called Keke. It’s clear almost immediately that you can assume control of any number of different objects by replacing the noun in the sentence that ends “is you,” and that, what’s more, something has to be defined as you in order to continue playing at all. Less clear to me was that “you” is always a property rather than a thing. This means that, while “Baba is win” can be a condition of victory, “win is you” and “you is win” are not. So much of the vernacular of the game I picked up only in fits and starts. For example, I only know from happening upon it that “crab and Baba is you” will allow you to control both a crab and Baba despite being grammatically incorrect, while something like “Baba is you is win” doesn’t work as expected.

This matters because you need some sense of why something does or doesn’t work in a puzzle game in order to truly own your accomplishments. In one later puzzle, I managed to walk over a body of water unharmed by pushing a pillar into the water and stringing together the phrase “pillar on water is sink.” The property “sink” usually seems to make anything that touches the sinkable object disappear. I have no clue what happened here. Of course, I am sure this does “work out” in the technical sense, and that there is an explanation I’m simply not getting. But I shouldn’t have to stumble through a fog of incomprehension in order to find the solution to a logic-based problem. Why does “box has box” clear a path through a lake of water? I couldn’t say, but I gathered it was what I had to do eventually. This feels fundamentally different than merely being stumped, and it doesn’t satisfy in remotely the same way.

A-ha moments are precious things. Their relief can feel miraculous–but only so long as you understand what you’ve done and feel you’ve earned the victory. For the most part, Baba is You’s most brutal stages do offer this balance of challenge and reward. By puzzle 50–there are 200 in all–levels are flipping upside down, rules are compounded elaborately, and sentences are sprawling out to command things like “wall and hedge and key and flag is word,” to take one real late example. It can be torture, but of course in a puzzle game such torture is fun. Baba is You is among the most seriously arduous games of its kind I’ve played, and when its rules are clear and its instructions legible, it’s gratifying in a way only hardcore suffering can be.

Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn Review

Made in Abyss made its premiere as a TV series back in 2017, jolting the anime community with its breathtaking vision on nature and survival. Based off a webcomic, the series became wildly popular, with the comic being licensed into English volumes, and the anime streaming on Hidive and released in the west by Sentai. Now, nearly two years later, the first half of the TV show has been adapted into a film called Journey’s Dawn. For new viewers and fans, it’s worth the wait: this movie is an absolute thrill to watch on the big screen.

To its residents, it is part myth, part cursed: the Abyss, rich in unknown treasures from ancient civilizations, home to strange and alienish creatures that could easily devour you, and the inevitable journey for any true traveler. Riko is a young girl and resident of the town that lives near the Abyss. While she spends most of her life on the shallow ends of the Abyss, looking for treasure to help her orphanage, it’s only when her mother, a famous Abyss-traveler, disappears, and she stumbles upon a strange robot boy named Reg, that she decides to do what no person has done before: travel to the Abyss’ fathomless depths and find out what lies below. It’s easier said than done though: she’ll need wits, great amounts of courage, and luck on her side to not just survive the Abyss’ terrifying monsters, but also the strange curses that afflict dwellers as they continue to descend deeper and deeper.

Continue reading…

11 Game of Thrones Reunions We Want to See in Season 8

We’re less than a month out from Game of Thrones’ epic eighth season, premiering April 14 on HBO. And while we’ve kept ourselves busy tracking down every clue we can find, digging into possible theories of what’s to come, let’s not forget that these final six episodes are also going to stab us right in the soul. Yes, the epic battles will also come with epic feels – some in the form of long-awaited reunions.

Here’s a brief rundown of all the characters we want to meet up, hook up, and sync up during Game of Thrones’ final bow. Sure, a lot of the list features Jon Snow finally seeing a bunch of folks he hasn’t set eyes on since the freakin’ first few episodes, before his adventures took him far away from the Starks and Lannisters, but it’s not all Jon.

Continue reading…

First Dora The Explorer Movie Trailer Delivers Wild Jungle Action (And Boots The Monkey)

The first trailer for the upcoming movie Dora and the Lost City of Gold is here. The live-action film is based on the hugely popular animated Nickelodeon show Dora the Explorer, and stars Transformers: The Last Knight’s Isabela Moner as the intrepid teenage adventurer.

The trailer reveals that it is a jungle-set adventure that takes its influence from properties such as Tomb Raider, Jumanji, and the Indiana Jones series. Dora is a girl from a small village who is sent to a city high school by her adventurer parents. Of course, she soon finds herself on a dangerous expedition to find the mysterious City of Gold, alongside familiar characters such as her cousin Diego and faithful monkey pal Boots. Check it out below.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold also stars Michael Peña (Ant-Man and the Wasp) and Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) as Dora’s mom and dad, and Jeff Wahlberg as Diego. Danny Trejo (Machete, From Dusk Till Dawn) provides the voice of Boots, while Moner’s Sicario 2 co-star Benicio Del Toro voices the evil fox Swiper. We’re yet to see Swiper, so expect him to appear in a subsequent trailer. We yet don’t know if Dora’s map and backpack can also talk, as they do in the TV show.

The movie is directed by James Bobin, who is best known for movies such as The Muppets and Alice Through The Looking Glass, plus the musical TV comedy Flight of the Conchords. It releases on August 2. You can also check out the first poster, which was released earlier this week.

Dora the Explorer ran on Nickelodeon from 2000 to 2014 for 14 seasons and 172 episodes, and spawned the spin-off shows Dora and Friends: Into the City and Go, Diego, Go.