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Akhil covers the world of entertainment, video games, and technology

Film

Big screen fare

Avatar: The Way of Water

“[James] Cameron has decided to present Avatar: The Way of Water in variable frame rates: standard 24fps, and high-frame-rate 48fps. Most of the dialogue scenes make use of the former, while the action is all rendered in the latter. At times though, the Avatar sequel switches between the two on the fly, in the same scene, in what is both unnecessary and jarring. […] Cameron believes this solves HFR’s pain point, but I’m not convinced.”

Darlings

“[More] a comedy of errors than a dark comedy honestly. At times, it’s more like a Hrishikesh Mukherjee movie, say Gol Maal, than a proper black comedy revenge thriller in its vein, à la Promising Young Woman. Leading up to release, the cast and crew of Darlings attempted to ‘educate’ audiences on what the phrase dark comedy means. But as the Netflix film shows, they themselves do not understand it either.”

Thor: Love and Thunder

“[Suffers] from narrative gaps, wild tonal imbalances, and weightlessness. More importantly, it under-utilises nearly every actor and character at its disposal. At once a romantic comedy, a tale of a grieving father, a god devoid of purpose, a scientist trying to conquer death, a bored king looking for adventure, and a goofball trip through the cosmos, Thor: Love and Thunder tries to be about so many things that—many a time—it’s about nothing. Just vibes and zingers.”

TV

The fruits of all that binge-watching

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

“[Nothing] says you’re trying to cash in on the success of the Lord of the Rings films than The Rings of Power‘s ultimate villain […] Sauron. After a brief tease at the start, just as with the movie trilogy, he mysteriously disappears. […] That hollowness is intentional, for [it] hangs itself around the suspense of Sauron’s true identity. Take a trip around the Internet, and you will notice that a majority of the discussion about the first season during its six-week run revolved around ‘Who is Sauron?’”

Andor

“There’s a degree of murkiness in every corner of Andor—and that makes sense. After all, there are no Jedi here chasing a purity of mind or heart, no do-gooders who believe in the Force, and no heroes with a hurrah can-do spirit willing to put everything on the line. This is the gritty end of the line, following the non-lightsaber folks who must get by with ingenuity, negotiation, and hardiness. It’s about those sketching out an existence on the fringes of the Empire.”

The Fame Game

“[Despite] being made by some of the biggest insiders in town—Karan Johar is a producer—The Fame Game has very little of concrete to say about the underbelly of being famous. If anything, it comes across as fan fiction at times, like outsiders projecting what they hear in the news. It ought to offer a deeper reflection—but too often, it ends up treading in clichés and surface-level observations.”

Gaming

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God of War Ragnarök

“What I love about combat in God of War Ragnarök is that it’s a lesson in how you can do more with less. There are just two weapons here—the axe and the blades—but still such a variety of play. You can charge your weapons with frost or fire, hold down buttons to trigger special combos, and of course, line up attacks in a coordinated fashion to maximise damage dealt. What I don’t love is how the game limits what you can see.”

FIFA 23

“Cross-play could have the best thing in ages to happen to the 11v11 Pro Clubs … but sadly, we’re stuck with a game and a developer that refuses to pour resources where they are needed. Instead, everything is funnelled into [FIFA Ultimate Team]. […] But the thing is, EA doesn’t have to care because there’s no competition. […] In a monopoly, you are the default choice. That’s great for FIFA 23, but football fans are paying the price.”

Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5’s Mexico is a joy to drive through, be it when I’m speeding on the super highways at speeds in excess of 350 kmph in the ultra-quiet all-electric Porsche Taycan Turbo S, swinging through the curvy inner streets on the prowl for bonus boards in the hungry and powerful Lamborghini Centenario, or cutting through forests and jumping off rolling hills in the mood for some skill points and collateral damage in a heavy-duty big-tyred pick-up truck.”

Tech

Guide, think-pieces, and the sort

Fitbit Charge 2

“When you’re trying to improve upon your most popular product, you’d better have some good ideas. With the Charge 2, Fitbit has brought its A game – giving it a much-needed upgrade in the screen real estate department along with a couple of new features. For most people then, [this] is the best fitness tracker available.”

Best keyboard app

“Picking the best keyboard is a challenge – so much depends on your personal preferences, for one thing. For us, out of all the available options, there isn’t a single, obvious winner. Rather, it’s a tie between two.”

Google and AI

“Over the long run, it would help Google establish itself as the best place to work with machine learning. In turn, Pichai said, the results would be used to improve all its services, with a focus on its most important products: Search and Assistant. That will pave the way for a shift in how people interact with technology, along with a corresponding shift in how it interacts with us.”