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Wednesday, 26 August 2020 09:16

‘High Score’ puts in its initials

While there may still be those out there who happily dismiss video games as kid stuff or somehow niche, the truth is that anyone in this country born in the last half-century likely has some connection to them.

Obviously, gaming is big business in 2020, a multibillion-dollar industry that economically outperforms the music industry and the movie industry – combined. But it was definitely a rollercoaster ride of booms and busts along the way.

“High Score,” the new six-episode docuseries from Netflix, is an exploration of that ride, a look back to the early days of the industry evolved from the domain of a few into a world occupied by billions. Along the way, we hear the stories of assorted successes (and a few failures) as told by the people responsible.

By necessity, the filmmakers must pick and choose the people and places on which to focus. With just a half-dozen episodes – most coming in at around 45 minutes, give or take – it’s all about snapshots; there just isn’t time for a deep dive into video game history. But these glimpses are what makes the series work, looks at with the people involved, whether as designers and developers or simply players. Seeing their passion for the medium is what really makes “High Score” soar.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 19 February 2020 13:51

‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ runs amok

It’s a bit of a Hollywood truism – video game movies are bad.

Unlike a lot of things that “everybody knows,” this is actually more or less true. That isn’t to say that they don’t make money – some do all right at the box office even when they’re terrible – but in terms of quality, they never measure up.

So it was with some obvious apprehension that I sat down to watch “Sonic the Hedgehog.” Considering the long and arduous road to release the film had – including extensive redesigns following the internet’s collective horror at the initial trailers – and the fact that I myself was always a Nintendo guy instead of Sega, it’s fair to say that my expectations were low.

Imagine my surprise when “Sonic” exceeded them.

Not by much, mind you – we’re not talking greatness here, to be sure – but still. This movie is … OK. It’s fine. And the reality is that “OK” and “fine” are words that have only rarely been associated with video game adaptions.

Sure, it’s all a bunch of dumb jokes and already-dated pop culture references, but the truth is that the target audience loves those things. Kids will dig it and adults will be able to tolerate it, which is no small thing. And there are occasional moments (all of which feature Jim Carrey cranking the weird to 11 and snapping off the knob) that are even better than that. For a movie that threatened to be an unhealthy dose of nightmare fuel, that’s a win.

Published in Movies

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