Entertainment

Now Playing: Our Planet, Kill This Love, Shazam!

Watch, laugh, and dance!

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Spring officially began and cherry blossoms are starting to bloom in Japan. April proves to be a busy month for travelers and tech enthusiasts alike, as OPPO unveiled their latest flagship, and Samsung concluded the Galaxy A launch with BLACKPINK. Marvel fans are ready for a treat with Avengers: Endgame coming to theaters two weeks from now. (Who’s excited?)

We need to take a break so we can serve the latest updates in the tech realm. For now, sit back and enjoy what’s Now Playing:

Movies to see

Shazam!
Rodneil: Shazam! is an indication that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is ready to leave its dark and brooding past *coughs* Batman V Superman *coughs* behind. It’s a nice coming of age film that families can enjoy together. My main man Zachary Levi killed it as the titular character. It seems as if he was born to play Shazam much like Ryan Reynolds is to Deadpool.

Pet Sematary
Dan: Here’s another remake of a classic horror film adapted from Stephen King’s creations. Pet Sematary was also one of the popular Stephen King movie adaptations in the 80s, but it’s not as good as fans like it to be. Fast forward to 2019, and it’s still not a great film. It can pass as your next horror movie to watch in the cinema with good scares and horrific images, although it’s just not memorable enough.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Kevin: It’s not the latest movie to come out, having been released towards the end of last year. But The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, to me, is an underrated but genius piece of cinema. In case you still haven’t seen it, the movie is about six different stories of life back in the Old West. It shows how people lived and how they settled their problems — presented with a good dose of drama and dark humor from the Coen brothers. It’s an enjoyable movie that might take you on a roller coaster of emotions.

TV shows to binge watch

Ultraman
Rodneil: This isn’t the Ultraman I expected but for the most part, it didn’t disappoint. The story picks up 40 years after the events of the Ultraman most people are familiar with. This version puts the spotlight on the original Ultraman’s son as he finds his way through a role he inherited but didn’t exactly ask for.

Our Planet
MJ: In early celebration of Earth Day, Our Planet is a must-watch documentary on Netflix about nature, addressing issues about conservation and the future of life on Earth. More importantly, you’ll appreciate the show better if you’re watching on a 4K TV, as this show is filmed in Ultra HD.

Your Lie in April
MJ: It’s been years since Your Lie in April (also known as Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso) was released but animé lovers never forget how this show struck a chord in their heart. It’s the most emotional anime I’ve ever seen, and fans re-watch this show every April to commemorate this masterpiece. Your Lie in April is full of valuable lessons in life that will definitely inspire you to let go of the past, take chances, live in the moment, and have faith in what the future will bring.

Santa Clarita Diet (Season 3)
Dan: The small suburb of Santa Clarita has more undead people! Zombie and comedy go well together in this latest season of Santa Clarita Diet. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons, I strongly suggest them for your next binge-watching sesh. The latest season continues where the previous season left off, and it finally brings a bit of action plus more dark humor. Don’t think of Santa Clarita Diet as just another zombie flick. I also think season three is the best so far.

Games to play

Honkai Impact 3
Marvin: Honkai Impact 3 has been available on the App Store and Google Play for over a year already, but it’s only now that I’ve gotten around to playing it. (Thanks, Rodneil!) It shares a lot of traits with action games Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, but with anime girls and JRPG-style dialogue. It’s free to play and gets updated with new events constantly!

Far Cry New Dawn
Kevin: If you’re into first-person shooter games, trusty animals fighting by your side, and making things explode, the latest installment of Far Cry will be an enjoyable addition to your library. It was released early this year and is a narrative sequel to last year’s Far Cry 5. This is the first time Ubisoft did this continuation for the series and Far Cry New Dawn takes place years after Far Cry 5 happened. Although receiving mixed reviews, it basically has the same exhilarating gameplay that made players love the previous installations.

So get your armor on, pick up that sawed-off shotgun, and take on the new bad guys of Hope County!

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Kill This Love by BLACKPINK
Vincenz: I had mixed emotions when I first listened to this song but the odd music arrangement got addictive when I listened to it on repeat. The rapping and vocals are lit, plus most of the lyrics are in English which makes the song singable enough. They even low-key promoted the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Buds in the music video!

Apps to download

Facebook for Android
Marvin: April Fools’! This app sucks. Facebook changes its Android app as often as my Viber groups send corny memes. Each update makes it worse, to the point that I can’t even comment or react to posts on my feed at times. Trust me, I’ve tried on different phones already and I only get consistent results on desktop. Use this dumb social network on the Chrome app instead.

Money Pro for iOS
Vincenz: This app is helpful for those who keep listing expenses in a day. Once you input how much you’ve spent for transportation, food, and whatnot, it sums up everything. Getting the free version is handy but the paid version conveniently syncs data on your other Apple devices (Macs and iPads). There’s also a Plus version that syncs data even on Android and Windows devices. The Gold version can do online banking.

Trends to try

KFC Double Down
Vincenz: As someone who loves eating chicken, Double Down makes it better with two fried chickens squishing the bacon, cheese, and right amount of mayonnaise in the middle. Unlike burgers, it cannot totally fill the void in your stomach — but it’s still worth trying out.

Jollibee Amazing Aloha Burger
Dan: It’s a beef burger with a slice of pineapple and bacon inside. That might sound weird, but the Amazing Aloha from Jollibee is one of the best summer-themed fast food burgers. If you love bacon and pineapple, this is for you. It used to be a staple item on the menu, but it’s now available for a limited time only. I love pairing this with a peach-mango pie to truly feel the tropical vibe of the Philippines — in fast food form.

Books to read

Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Isa: I watched the Phantom of the Opera’s second run in Manila and yet again, I’m captivated by the haunted story of the Opera Ghost and Christine Daaé. Left wanting more, I ended up rereading the original French thriller novel — the same book Andrew Lloyd Webber based the award winning musical on.

The story follows a more detailed narration of the Phantom’s obsession for his young student and budding opera star Christine to almost catastrophic results. If you thought the play was thrilling, this morbid story of love and lust may just be a must read. So many details from the book escaped the play and it’s a definite eye opener to what supposedly went on in the Palais Garnier.


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

Arcane Act III: Gobsmacking finale

I am lost for words

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Arcane

Act I: A treat for every League of Legends player

Act II: Whirlwind of emotions, understanding

Act III: Gobsmacking finale


This article contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I wasn’t prepared for Arcane to end. And for the emotions that astounded me throughout the series’ third act.

I was delaying the inevitable; that this series will come to an end. I delayed watching the final act on purpose, just like I would with any other show I’ve fallen in love with.

But I’ve faced the end and I was utterly speechless. With every episode ending, I found myself dumbfounded with all the revelations, twists, and cliffhangers.

I thought Arcane would be predictable, especially when you base it on the game’s lore, but it wasn’t. And that made me love Arcane even more.

Art that gets better

Just when you thought the animation was already marvelous, it got even more magnificent. The introduction of more characters, sceneries, and changes in the plot often require brilliant storytelling.

Arcane slew it with its visuals, majorly between Ekko and Jinx — childhood friends turned enemies. The two brandished the contrasting ideologies in the city of Zaun.

The fight scenes also got sprightlier, thanks to the advent of HexTech through the weapons. I was ecstatic when Jayce whirled his hammer and he transformed it into a cannon, much like in the game.

Honestly, I wondered why I didn’t have a crush on Jayce when I was playing League of Legends, but I find him bewitching in Arcane.

On another note, Vi’s gauntlets punch through walls and bones with ease. Her clash with Sevika is one of the reasons why I was reminded of my love for martial arts. I can only dream of doing those stunts.

Riot certainly outdid themselves in the visual presentation of Arcane. It was carefully planned and executed. There’s no wonder the series got people hooked — even if they aren’t fans of League of Legends.

Taking a wild turn

Arcane is so damn unpredictable. Knowing the game’s lore could be the endgame, and indisputably the future of these characters. But let’s forget that for a moment.

What Arcane showed is the prosaic, everyday passing through the lives of the champions who lived in and crossed Piltover and Zaun. We even got a glimpse of what Noxus feels like — another empire in the land of Runeterra — through Mrs. Medarda.

Yes, the scheming councilor that our beloved Jayce is knocking boots with, has a parent come over to the City of Progress.

The third act expanded the story and its characters. How their lives are intertwined and divided by the circumstances surrounding them. And how it’s setting up for a war that might take place in the near future.

Unbeknownst to these characters, their lives are connected in ways they’re unaware of.

The collab we never knew we needed

Arcane exhibited different pairings we never expected. Caitlyn, Vi, and Ekko — teaming up to go back to Piltover and clashing with Jinx.

Heimerdinger discovers Ekko’s ingenuity and the two work together. (Bye, Jayce!)

Vi and Jayce shut down Silco’s manufacturing plants.

And even a peace agreement between Jayce and Silco to prevent war.

The series gave a platform to various dynamics; clashing personalities and upbringing brought together for one common goal.

Anticlimactic ending

I would’ve thought they’d cross each other in one grand finale, but the ending wasn’t what I expected. But somehow, it’s a serendipitous way to end the first season.

So open-ended, it presented possibilities on what’s next. Fans delighting in coming up with theories on how the story will pan out, especially for Season 2 — which Riot and Netflix have already promised to deliver in the future.

Though a bit anticlimactic, personally, I’m elated that I watched Arcane these past few weeks and it ended the way it was. I didn’t have the good ending I hoped for, but it gave me the opportunity to yearn for more.

Having a second season might give me the answers I’m searching, and the excitement I’ve been looking for. Riot hasn’t disappointed so far, and I’m certain they’ll make a grade with a masterpiece when the next season arrives.

Arcane is streaming now on Netflix.

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Netflix Cowboy Bebop: Odd remix to the original’s jazz

Might give fans of the anime the real folk blues

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Cowboy Bebop
Cr. GEOFFREY SHORT/NETFLIX © 2021

The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called… COWBOY BEBOP.” 

The line above is an excerpt taken from the text we see flying around in the opening sequence of the original animé. It’s a sort of manifesto to the intentions of the show — a new genre itself. The animé, which first aired in Japan in 1998, more than lived up to this. Netflix’s live adaptation certainly tries its best, but what it ultimately achieves is an okay cover of a masterpiece.

Before we proceed, we think it’s only right to put a big fat SPOILER WARNING here. While we won’t go into specific details, some parts of this review/reaction to the series might contain mild spoilers. You have been warned.

Cowboy Funk

If you’ve been keeping an eye on Netflix Cowboy Bebop, you’ve likely seen the teasers and trailers they’ve put up thus far. These sample tastes don’t veer too far from the overall feel of the entire series. It’s colorful, campy, and full of energy.

For the most part, the production got a few things right. We can’t really comment much on the editing since we were told some final touches were still being applied. Essentially, the screeners we got aren’t the final cut. But it was supposedly good enough to be shared with reviewers.

There was plenty of care and attention to detail put in the overall set and costume design. It does, somewhat, capture the world of Cowboy Bebop… just in a different lens.

Some of the fight choreography felt clunky but we’re gonna chalk that up to this not being the final cut. Most other physically demanding scenes looked great. There were just a few that we felt needed more polish.

Overall, the show feels zany but not in the same way that the Cowboy Bebop animé was. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s different, but somehow the live action just lacks the grit of the original. Instead, it feels like a mashup of the 1960s Batman starring Adam West and Saban’s many Super Sentai adaptations, only a tad bloodier.

Jupiter Jazz

COWBOY BEPOP (L to R) JOHN CHO as SPIKE SPIEGEL in COWBOY BEPOP Cr. GEOFFREY SHORT/NETFLIX © 2021

What’s holding this together is the brilliant performance of John Cho as Spike Spiegel. He nails down the character to a T and is what pretty much carries a bulk of the show. He is nonchalant and carefree on most days, but is worked up every time his past hovers around him. Exactly the Spike we know and love.

Other than that, it’s his banter with Jet Black (Mustafa Shakur) and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) that give the live action adaptation any semblance of the animé. The scenes featuring these characters together are easily the best parts of the show.

COWBOY BEPOP (L to R) DANIELLA PINEDA as FAYE VALENTINE, JOHN CHO as SPIKE SPIEGEL and MUSTAFA SHAKIR as JET BLACK on the set of COWBOY BEPOP Cr. NICOLA DOVE/NETFLIX © 2021

They did make changes to the characters. Changes are generally okay, if they work. However, we can’t say that’s true here. For Jet, the key change was okay. But how it will affect his character and the show was telegraphed at best and predictable at worst.

My Funny Valentine

COWBOY BEBOP (L to R) DANIELLA PINEDA as FAYE VALENTINE in COWBOY BEBOP Cr. GEOFFREY SHORT/NETFLIX © 2021

Meanwhile for Faye… it’s hard to nail it down. To get it out of the way, I thought the costume change was fine and practical. No issues there. But part of what makes Faye Valentine a femme fatale felt lacking.

Daniella Pineda perfectly captures the character’s rough edges. It’s the silkier side that was missing, and this isn’t because she’s not built like the Faye in the animé. Faye, despite learning to be rugged, still maintained a certain air of sex appeal that was simply missing in the live action adaption.

Of course, yours truly writes this being fully aware that he is a straight man commenting on how a female character should appear sexy. Faye is, for better or worse, a heavily sexualized character in the animé and perhaps they wanted to tone it down. However, maybe there could have been a way to execute it without completely shying away from the matter.

On the flip side, this version of Faye could be empowering to women. This writer is personally still unlearning the many trappings of the patriarchal society we live in and is excited to listen to conversations about the character.

Brain Scratch

To mixed effects, we see more of Vicious (Alex Hassell) and Julia (Elena Satine) here than in the animé. For one, it does a generally good job of providing a bit of backstory to the two key figures in Spike’s past. However in doing so, they start to feel less like the characters in the animé.

Instead of simply fleshing them out, what came across on screen seemed like alternate universe versions of the characters. For Vicious, this is especially true in the early to middle part of the series. Where animé Vicious felt ruthless and menacing, the live action Vicious felt a lot more whiny and unhinged.

Julia will be polarizing. The arc her character goes through is fascinating in that she goes from a simple love interest — a damsel in distress if you will — to a woman acting out of her own agency. But the choices she makes towards the end of the series felt unnatural for her character.

The Real Folk Blues

COWBOY BEPOP (L to R) JOHN CHO as SPIKE SPIEGEL on the set of COWBOY BEPOP Cr. NICOLA DOVE/NETFLIX © 2021

In a media availability, the main cast talked about how much those who worked on the show revered the original. That’s certainly evident in the production design, dialogue, and selected episodes of the live action adaptation. There’s plenty of near one-to-one recreation of scenes in the animé that will make any fan gasp with excitement.

However, in their desire to expand, the showrunners miss some story beats, subtle moments, and character nuances that make the original animé great. Instead of the smooth soulful Jazz feel of the original, what we get instead is an odd remix that may be a little off key.

Cowboy Bebop streams on Netflix on November 19.

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Arcane Act II: Whirlwind of emotions, understanding

It’s like an emotional check-up!

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Arcane Act II

Arcane

Act I: A treat for every League of Legends player

Act II: Whirlwind of emotions, understanding

Act III: Gobsmacking finale


This article contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

URGH. That’s the last screech I let out in front of my Samsung The Serif TV when I was hooked watching Arcane’s Act II. It was the sound of frustration from someone who wanted more.

The second act progresses the series with world-building scenes, side stories, and the foundation for that one big finale. Instead of scattered introduction from the first act, Arcane gets to expand the lore for every champion and significant character in the story.

We got glimpses of the characters’ lives and what they’ve become after the time jump. But I’m not going to spoil you with the fun that you can discover while watching Arcane. Instead, let me share with you all the emotions felt.

Arcane Act II

Processing deaths and loss

The element of grief is prevalent in the story’s major characters. They say time heals everything, but not with grief — or at least for those who didn’t process them well.

For Powder, Marcus, Vi, and even Caitlyn — losing people can take a toll on your mental health. Similar to our waking reality.

The pandemic has taken the lives of some of my friends. Even parents and families of colleagues and loved ones. And I would admit: I haven’t even processed my emotions fully. I barely gave myself time to cry and surrender to the void I’ve felt.

Arcane Act II

Arcane presented the reality of grief and mourning. Even though you seem fine on the outside, and even if you look like you’ve already moved forward, the void is still there until you ought to address it properly.

Marcus and Caitlyn remembered Grayson, the enforcer killed in Act I. While Marcus sees Grayson as a good woman, he continued her path but became severely corrupted in the process.

Arcane Act II

Caitlyn, on the other hand, remembers fond memories with Grayson and how the enforcer helped her believe in herself and her skills as an excellent marksman even at a young age.

For Powder and Violet, the circumstances are different. Powder became a madwoman in the streets of Zaun, working for Silco as Jinx. But she’s a harrowing account of trauma and broken inner child.

Everywhere she looks, she gets haunted by her memories: Accidentally killing her friends, hurting her family, blaming herself for being abandoned.

She became unstable caused by her guilt. And she badly needs a therapist. But I’m sure she’s going to shoot and bomb anyone who’ll try to get her treated.

Vi spent years in a locked cell, treated like a dangerous criminal that needs to be isolated. After being released and traveling back to Zaun, her memories started haunting her. However, Vi is embattled with repressed emotions, and sometimes, it gets the best of her.

Arcane presented how loss and grief manifest differently in those who were left in the living.

Relationships are tricky

Arcane magnified relationships — business, platonic, romantic, and sexual connections — throughout the second act. Jayce, who’s stepping up to be the next shiny thing in Piltover due to the progress he’s making in the city, realizes he has to be careful.

Being in the public eye and the brain behind the innovation, everyone can be his enemy or an ally.

This is true even in waking life, where we need to play our cards right. When gaining status and power, depending on how you deliver and present yourself, you can choose your friends and foes.

With the help of Councilor Mel Medarda, Jayce got investors to back his Hextech research and even gain the favor of other Councilors. This helped him establish dominance in the Council and got support when he pushed for Heimerdinger’s retirement.

Concurrently, Jayce and Mel Medarda are knocking boots. After a vulnerable moment was shared, the two ended up kissing and having sex — sharing a passionate night while Viktor collapsed due to his illness while working on the Hextech.

Though Jayce slightly felt torn between his friend and his girl, Mel Medarda asked Jayce to spend time with Viktor and to put him first. The lady knows the code: bros before hoes.

Not all reunions are worth celebrating

Vi and Powder got a tearjerker reunion. Though I got real emotional, the reunion was cut short when they were attacked by the Firelighters — a gang that Jinx ambushed earlier in the second act.

Arcane Act II

If Taylor Swift could sing in Arcane right now, it would’ve been “All Too Well”. Especially that line “you called me up again just to break me like a promise” because that’s how Powder probably felt. Once more, Vi is leaving her again.

On another note, Vi saw how much Powder has changed. Years of being in survival mode had turned Powder into Jinx the madwoman. Or in the game’s data, “The Loose Cannon.”

Arcane Act II

There were no exchanges shared regarding how much they’ve changed, but their eyes and facial expression have shown the disconnect between the two sisters. Separated by fate, ripped by strife, torn by the events that changed their life.

Arcane Act III will premiere on November 20, 2021.

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