Entertainment

God of War, Lost in Space, This is America: Now Playing

This is what we’re up to when we’re not creating tech features and reviews!

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Everyone’s watching, playing, or listening to something at any given moment. That includes us here at GadgetMatch, so we thought we would pull everyone together to share what we’re now playing.

Games to play

God of War
Rodneil: This is the game that all gamers are talking about. Yes, even those who don’t own a PlayStation 4 console are intrigued by this PS4-exclusive. The moment the embargo lifted on the reviews, the game was getting praises left and right. The story is compelling, gameplay is challenging, and boy, it looks hella good.

Wordscapes
Rodneil: Wordscapes isn’t new but between work and playing on my PS4, this is what gets me through down times when I need something casual to play with on my phone. I haven’t really bought into the more demanding iterations of mobile gaming and to be honest, I might never. So for those of you who like to keep it casual, this game does just that.

Movies to see

Love, Simon
MJ: I don’t know why I hesitated watching a movie I’ve been wanting to see for months. Rodneil and Chay had to convince me to watch Love, Simon on a late Friday night and god, I’m so happy I decided to go. Love, Simon is not just an ordinary coming-out film; it’s a masterpiece that will make your heart cry. It will resonate with experiences back in your teenage years, and remind you of the lessons you’ve learned. It’s a story of accepting yourself and the people around you.

Deadpool 2
Marvin: Deadpool 2 is both bloody and funny — it’s bloody funny! While it’s a lot like the first film in terms of crude humor and non-stop gore, the characters are more memorable this time, the plot’s much richer (and sometimes more emotional), and there are loads more silly meta references thrown at you. This sequel is a nice change of pace after the tear fest that was Avengers: Infinity War. Tip: You must stay for the post-credit scenes. Those alone make the price of admission worth it!

TV shows to binge watch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjRnbOgoAUQ

Santa Clarita Diet
Chay: I gave Santa Clarita Diet a chance after seeing countless ads and tweets about how underrated it is. I honestly wasn’t hooked until probably episode seven, but I found myself finishing two seasons in one week. Each episode is only 30 minutes long, and there are only 10 episodes per season, so it’s one of the easiest shows to binge watch. And in case it’s not obvious in the posters and trailers: No, it’s not a show about dieting and food, although there is a lot of eating involved.

Terrace House: Opening New Doors
Chay: For the uninitiated, Terrace House is a Japanese reality show about six strangers who live inside the same house. It’s like Big Brother without the scheming and games. So really it’s a show about nothing. It’s like watching Japanese people be themselves. For us unfortunate souls who don’t live in Japan, waiting for the new season can be excruciating, but I was lucky enough to watch all of Season 2 of Opening New Doors while I was in Osaka, and all I can say is you need to watch it and I need more episodes! It’s set in the woods of Karuizawa, Nagano, around two hours from Tokyo. The house is more beautiful than ever, and the housemates are so pure and genuine, sometimes to a fault.

Lost in Space
Dan: If you’re into sci-fi stories, you should check out Lost in Space on Netflix. It’s set 30 years in the future and chosen humans are on their journey to an Earth-like planet, but things go astray, hence the title. The story mainly revolves around the Robinson family and the peculiar robot. The first episode is a bit lacking, so you shouldn’t quickly judge the series by its pilot. The production value alone is enough to attract sci-fi adventure fans, and it’s one of the few sci-fi series that you can watch with your family.

My Hero Academia
Rodneil: Titled Boku No Hero Academia in Japanese, I will argue that this is probably the best ongoing shonen anime at the moment. Shonen is a genre primarily aimed at teenage boys that revolves around fighting in squads and camaraderie. My Hero Academia is about a boy born into a world where super powers or, as the show calls it, quirks, is a norm to a point that people actually go to school to get a job as a hero. Protagonist Izuku Midoriya has all the qualities of a zero, except he was born without a quirk, but this does not stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming the world’s best hero.

Happy!
Kevin: An alcoholic ex-detective turned hitman, Nick Sax is on a Christmas quest to save his daughter from a kidnapper junkie dressed as Santa Claus. Accompanying him on this mission is his daughter’s imaginary friend, an animated unicorn named Happy. This dark comedy goes for a different approach in storytelling. It also shows the unique relationship between a man who’s almost out of his mind and an imaginary friend who only cares for the kid. Don’t let the animated unicorn fool you, though, as the show gets really graphic. Better to watch it when the kids are asleep!

Music to listen to

Childish Gambino: This is America
Kevin: We’re pretty sure you’ve heard of this song. Childish Gambino’s new single that became an instant success overnight is chock full of hidden messages that reflect the current state of their country. From the lyrics to the music video, it might shock you as it did us and you’ll surely hit that replay button right after watching it.

Arctic Monkeys: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Kevin: A recent release from the English rock band, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is far from the previous 2013 album AM. I feel like the band went back closer to their older albums in terms of sound and sprinkled a vibe of David Bowie into the mix. The result is soulful, almost laid-back — the kind that grows more and more in you after a few times of listening to the songs. And yes, there’s the staple Alex Turner appeal with the way he drops each word.

John Mayer: New Light
Alven: When it comes to our favorite artists, sometimes we want them to just stick to what they do best. When it comes to John Mayer, for a lot of people that means John sitting on a stool, acoustic guitar in hand, serenading you with a ballad. “New Light” is a great departure from that vibe, and I gotta say that I ain’t complaining. An upbeat tune with a funky beat and a bit of an 80s feel to it. this song will indeed make you see John in a new light.

Cities to visit

Krakow, Poland
Josh: Krakow isn’t usually top of mind when one thinks about cities to visit in Europe, but I found myself enthralled by the Polish city’s old world charm during a last minute trip this week. Follow the Royal Road route through its historic gates and medieval walls to reach Main Market Square, a sprawling space with cobblestone streets, renaissance architecture, and rows of cafes and shops. Continue further up a hill to the Royal Castle and Wawel Cathedral where the late Pope Saint John Paul II celebrated his first mass as a priest in 1946, then end the day with a scenic cruise along the Vistula River for breathtaking views of the city.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Chay: If you ask me what my favorite Southeast Asian destination is, my answer always changes depending on which city I last visited. So this month, it’s Vietnam’s biggest city: Ho Chi Minh. What’s not to like? Food is cheap, delicious, and healthy; internet is fast; coffee is great, and everything is just a scooter ride away.

Osaka, Japan
Chay: Tokyo is my favorite city in Japan but Osaka is still a good idea, and not just because of the food. Kyoto is only a 30-minute train ride away, if you want to explore old Japanese architecture and Shinto shrines. And if Japanese video games are your thing, especially those from the 90s (Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong!), you will go gaga in Osaka.

Apps to download

Unfold
Mj: There’s a new craze in the Instagram space, and it involves Unfold. I downloaded the app, and I’ve been using it on Instagram Stories a lot lately. It has a simple approach like creating a postcard of moments you cherish, but with lots of templates and fonts to choose from. I can finally make my snaps memorable and beautiful!

Plant Nanny
Mj: Plant Nanny is a fun way to remind yourself to drink some water. In the app, you take care of plants as if they’re yourself. Once you drink your glass of water, you log that activity in the app by pouring water on your plant, or else it dies if left unattended.

Did you like any of our picks or have suggestions of your own? Feel free to let us know in the comments section!


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

Entertainment

What to expect from Apple Music, TV+ and Arcade this Christmas

Enjoy A Charlie Brown

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As Christmas season approaches and families and friends continue to prepare for their gatherings, parties, and week-long celebrations, here’s what to expect from Apple’s services to make sure the holidays are best enjoyed.

Apple Music: Carols Covered 2022

Carols Covered is back with a new lineup of Apple Music-exclusive holiday songs reimagined by today’s contemporary music artists,

The selection of artists includes Amelia Moore, Brett Eldredge, charlieonafriday, Elio, Ellie Goulding, glaive, Jvck James, Katie Gregson-MacLeod, Muni Long, RAYE, Shygirl, SiR, and Yahritza Y Su Esencia.

A new Classical Carols Covered playlist, highlighting beautiful new versions of carols and festive songs performed by top classical artists, will also be available. Both playlists are available in immersive Spatial Audio.

Apple TV+: new originals, Charlie Brown

Meanwhile, Apple TV+ is ready to help families and kids spread the holiday love with a joyous lineup of new episodes of Apple Original series, as well as the streaming debut of holiday Peanuts specials.

As one’s holiday entertainment experience isn’t complete without the iconic A Charlie Brown Christmas, Apple TV+ is offering a free stream of the holiday special from December 22 to 25.

Here are other shows to enjoy throughout the season:

  • Spirited
  • Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock
  • Interrupting Chicken (December 2)
  • Pretzel and the Puppies (December 2)
  • The Snoopy Show (December 2)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (Stream for free from December 22 to 25)
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse (December 25)

Apple Arcade

Lastly, to make the holiday bonding even more special and fun with friends and family, here are a few games from Apple Arcade to check and enjoy:

  • Amazing Bomberman
  • SongPop Party
  • Hanx101 Trivia
  • Nickleodeon Extreme Tennis
  • Gear.Club Stradale
  • Hidden Folks+
  • Gibbon: Beyond the Trees
  • Jetpack Joyride 2
  • Cooking Mama: Cuisine!
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2022 FIFA World Cup: Apps, games, podcasts to check

The World Cup fever is on

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FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup is arguably the greatest sporting spectacle in the world. In just a few days, the 2022 edition will kick off in Qatar.

But if you can’t contain the excitement as early as now, here are some apps, games, and podcasts from the App Store to keep yourself immersed in football World Cup content.

Football at your fingertips

For those who want to keep their focus on the sport itself, there’s FIFA+, the official World Cup app that has updates such as match highlights, insights, and live blogs.

In Singapore, there is meWATCH, an all-in-one entertainment hub which allows fans to cheer on their favorite teams when they go head-to-head live.

Other apps for more in-depth stuff like news and statistics, there’s Goal, Eurosport, and Sofascore.

Listen to the game

After matches, tune in to a free and new limited podcast series from Apple News which follows the tournament: After the Whistle.

The podcast is presented by actor Brendan Hunt and NBC Sports host Rebecca Lowe, who will provide entertaining and informative takes on all of the action throughout the World Cup tournament.

Play the beautiful game

Lastly, if you can’t get enough of football, might as well get your hands on FIFA Mobile for an authentic playing experience that features all 32 teams.

There is also eFootball 2023 from KONAMI, which immerses you to a realistic football feel at the comfort of your own device.

If that still doesn’t cut it, put on your manager’s hat on in Football Manager 2023 Touch, which lets you manage squads and create your own legacy.

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Entertainment

Now Playing: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

In case you didn’t notice, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in theaters. It’s the much-anticipated sequel to the groundbreaking MCU film Black Panther in 2018.

People were looking forward to this movie for many reasons. Chief among them, how will it handle the passing of lead star Chadwick Boseman. Boseman is played T’Challa/Black Panther but passed away in 2020 after silently battling cancer. The film also has the unenviable task of closing the chapter on Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) which many feel has been underwhelming.

Here, two of our team members discuss the film with some spoilers so this is your OFFICIAL SPOILER WARNING. If you haven’t seen the film, we suggest you just bookmark this for now and come back after watching it.

Initial thoughts on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Wakanda Forever

Levi: Disappointment might have filled Marvel fans throughout Phase 4, with one underwhelming film after the other. It was only fitting that the MCU capped this phase with a masterpiece. One that sets up everyone for Phases 5 and 6 while reigniting their excitement for what’s about to unfold.

Rodneil: Hmm… not quite sure I share the “disappointment” but I do recognize. I honestly feel like the MCU has become what Iron Man is to that universe. Harking back to what Happy told Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home, “Not even Tony could live up to, Tony.”

I acknowledge that not every show or movie has been strong, but I am personally not as disappointed as the general sentiment is. And Black Panther: Wakanda Forever closes Phase 4 in the most appropriate way which is bittersweet. 

Thoughts on Namor?

Wakanda Forever

Levi: It had all the elements of a cinematic marvel (pun intended), from how Ryan Coogler chose to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman by having the Wakandans offer a ceremonial burial to his titular role. At the same time, the ending also struck as what traditional critics call as an “unending” type. Again, quite fitting as there is just more to come from the MCU in the immediate future. 

I am just relieved that Namor and his people are here to stay for what is possibly a mega-collaboration with Wakanda. It was alarming considering MCU’s sometimes penchant for expendable villains (See: Kilmonger). That kind of threw me back to the events of Avengers: Infinity War in terms of how vital the role Wakanda played, so it is intriguing what this partnership will have for the eventual Secret Wars phase, as teased towards the end of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. 

Rodneil: Agreed. There was a moment in the film when I genuinely thought he was gonna be a one-off character. But I knew in the back of my head that they weren’t gonna get rid of him just like that. 

But hold on, aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves? What did you think of Namor as the primary antagonist? 

A nuanced character

Levi: I was about to get there! I think Namor adds another layer to the movie as he acts more of an anti-hero, where he is neither the protagonist nor antagonist. Obviously, one can only speculate based on comics as to what he will really be, but as we all know, the MCU is a different animal. That’s a treatment we will definitely wait for, given how this film has set up the existing timeline.

Rodneil: I think he was very much the antagonist of the film. In the comics, he flips-flops between hero and villain. But his motivations have always been clear. He does everything he does for the sake of protecting his people. And that much is true for this film. He fights alongside whoever his motivations align with the most. Namor is refreshing because he is a very nuanced character, and that’s something we need to see more of in mainstream films, especially the MCU. 

The backstory that the film gives him, as well as that sequence in the middle of the film he spent with Shuri perfectly solidified what kind of character he is. Now that we’ve spoken about the antagonist. Let’s switch to the other side, what did you think of Shuri?

Shuri and her character’s journey

Wakanda Forever

Levi: Before I get to Shuri, yes, that is one great way of putting it. He operates on his own terms, which will again be crucial once we get to the latter stages of the MCU and the gigantic war that is brewing. In the first place, this movie also refreshingly brought us back to the surface – which we are just scratching – after spending time in multiverses the second Doctor Strange film as well as Spider-Man: No Way Home and across different dimensions – to align things looking ahead.

Anyway, Shuri was tremendous in leading Wakanda in the aftermath of T’Challa’s death. It was all worthy successor vibes for me. Obviously, if you have been following Marvel closely, it was only a matter of time before she finally dawned that Black Panther suit. But then again, it’s like she channeled her smarts in the lab to being representative of the entire Wakandan race through combat, doing so in such an emotional yet powerful manner which was just as energizing for all of us as she led everyone in the next chapter of her nation.

War and its consequences

Wakanda Forever

Rodneil: Funny how you said it “brought us back to the surface.” Because, indeed, we have been dealing with the multiverse, magic, and cosmic things that tackling the very real feud between nations feels a lot more grounded despite the stakes still being really high. That’s actually one theme that I liked – how war isn’t romanticized. It’s portrayed as this horrifying thing where no one actually wins. And we need more of that idea being spread in as many media as possible. 

Shuri was solid in this film. I loved her character arc. It all felt very real, especially all that rage. She was dealing with loss, pain, grief, and anger all at the same time and it dictated a lot of her actions. It was very compelling and was presented expertly all the way from when Namor finally attacked Wakanda up to the third act battle. 

Levi: Speaking of wars, part of me initially thought there would be three players to the party with America threatening to wage war with Wakanda after their Vibranium detector got destroyed. I’m glad the overall direction of the movie focused on Namor and his Atlanteans, pinned against Black Panther and Wakanda.

What’s next for the MCU?

Wakanda Forever

Levi: As mentioned earlier, it was terrific that they were able to introduce a new character who is not one and done, and an entire race to go along with it. And its aftermath with the two sides basically calling a truce to focus on an even more important matter in the future is kind of how you expected the MCU to close this chapter. We can’t get ahead of ourselves that much, but depending on how the first few movies in Phase 5 fair, we are probably getting a promising build up for Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars.

Rodneil: Oh that whole America thing and Valentina being there is most certainly a set-up for the announced and upcoming film Thunderbolts. But I’ll save that discussion for another time. 

Speaking of build-up, while Phase 4 does feel clunky and disconnected at first, I still very much think everything is leading up to somewhere. It just wasn’t as apparent as Thanos and the Infinity stones. There were just more characters, more universes, and more elements to introduce. As someone who’s familiar with how convoluted the comic books can get, we’re still getting only a mild dose. 

On that note, this is getting a bit long, so let’s jump right into your final overarching thoughts on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. 

Final thoughts on Wakanda Forever

Levi: You are definitely the more immersed Marvel guy between us two, but perhaps from a casual’s perspective, it was Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s ability to connect them back to the overall scheme of things MCU-wise that made it such a refresher, again, owing to the perceived “disconnect” from some of the other films in Phase 4 that perhaps at one point made them go “What is going on?”. That said, again, what a way to punctuate this phase and set us all up for the next two. Excited is an understatement. Also, we have Disney+ in the Philippines now to get us reacquainted with the storylines, so there’s that.

Rodneil: We’re just pretty much echoing each other at this point, but I agree, this is the best way to close a phase. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a brilliant story. As a film, it had such a big responsibility. It had to deal with the passing of Chadwick Boseman all while moving the plot forward for the MCU. At the same time, it still felt like a self-contained movie instead of just another forgettable chapter. 

There are so many themes and emotions tackled here. There’s pain, loss, the cost of war, the consequence of revenge, and many more. All of it was handled and presented expertly. It’s easily the best film Phase 4 and gives us hope of better things to come for the MCU. 

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