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Da 5 Bloods Review: Spike Lee’s Netflix Jungle Thriller Is A Powerful History Lesson

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Spike Lee has been one of America’s most important and prolific filmmakers for over 30 years, but like all directors with long and diverse careers, he has experienced various levels of critical and commercial success. Prior to 2018, his last major box office success was 2006’s heist thriller Inside Man, but the success of Blackkklansman was a very welcome reminder of Lee’s immense gift as both a fiery social commentator and consummate cinematic craftsman. For his next movie, Lee has teamed up with Netflix to deliver the sprawling and powerful drama Da 5 Bloods.

Lee has often used real-life documentary footage to give his movies a social and historical context, and Da 5 Bloods is no different. It begins with a clip of Mohammand Ali in 1978, explaining to reporters why he refused to fight in the Vietnam War, followed by newsreel footage taking us through the timeline of the war, with focus on the disproportionate numbers of African American soldiers who were sent to fight in South East Asia. The film then cuts to the present day and introduces its four main characters–Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.). The quartet served together in Vietnam, along with the “fifth blood,” Norm (Chadwick Boseman), who never made it home. During a tour in 1971 they discovered a case of gold bars in a crashed helicopter that was intended to pay the Vietnamese who stood up against the Viet Cong. Knowing that there was no way to take the gold out during the war, the quintet buried it, intending to return after the conflict to claim it. 40 years later, the old friends reconvene in Ho Chi Minh City and head back into the jungle to honor their fallen colleague and find the gold.

Da 5 Bloods started life as a more conventional action adventure by Rocketeer screenwriters Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, before Lee and his Blackkklansman collaborator Kevin Willmott reworked it from an African-American perspective. The result is a long movie–155 minutes–and despite the simplicity of the plot, there’s a lot to it in terms of both the narrative and the themes it addresses. On the most obvious level it’s a heist thriller that takes influence from John Huston’s classic western The Treasure of Sierra Madre. It’s also a war movie, with flashbacks throughout to the Bloods’ time in ‘Nam. It’s a moving but often funny character study, about four old friends reconnecting with each other and forced to confront some dark truths about their time in Vietnam. And, being a Spike Lee Joint, it’s a searing political film that addresses America’s involvement in foreign conflicts and the price the black community paid for a war that many felt they should not have been involved in–not to mention some very topical references to Donald Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s a whole lot of movie.

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In less experienced hands, this could have easily become a confused, tonally inconsistent experience. But Lee is a master at making engrossing, accessible films that also deal with weighty themes, and one of the most impressive things about Da 5 Bloods is the way that no one element undercuts any other.

Lee is helped immeasurably by his cast. All four leads are tremendous, their ease and familiarity with each other immediately convincing us that they have known each other most of their lives. Lindo, who also appeared in Lee movies such as Clockers and Crooklyn, is the standout. The de facto leader of the group, Paul, is tormented by memories of his time in ‘Nam and the arrival of his estranged son David (Jonathan Majors) to join the group on their mission only adds to his unravelling mental state. One of Lee’s cinematic trademarks is to give his actors direct-to-camera monologues, and towards the end he uses this technique to provide Lindo with some incredibly powerful scenes.

While Boseman’s screentime is more limited, he’s perfectly cast as the almost-mythical Norm, whose charisma, intelligence, and fearlessness inspired his comrades back in the early ’70s, and whose death affects them to this day. Lee makes a fascinating and ultimately successful decision about how to portray the characters during the flashback sequences too. Instead of recasting the roles with younger actors–or even using the CGI de-aging techniques that Scorsese did in The Irishman–the director simply puts the older actors in these scenes, with no attempt to make them look younger. It’s strange and slightly comical at first, but the more we get to know these men, the more it makes sense in terms of character continuity to see the same actors throughout. Ultimately it’s far less distracting than the uncanny valley of the elderly de-aged stars of The Irishman.

There are numerous other subplots and characters along the way, including Otis reuniting with a Vietnamese woman he knew years ago, a trio of young activists defusing landmines in the jungle, and an enjoyably villainous performance from veteran French star Jean Reno, who plays a shady businessman that the Bloods must use to get the gold out of Vietnam. Despite the movie’s length, some of these secondary characters seem underdeveloped, and the thriller plot follows many of the conventions of the genre, as mistrust spreads throughout the group. The film is also very melodramatic, with Terrence Blanchard’s sweeping score and the classic protest songs of Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield leaving little room for ambiguity about what emotions we should be feeling.

Lee has never been a filmmaker known for his subtlety–even his best movies can be accused of being occasionally too long, too obvious, and too melodramatic. But this is also what can make him such a compelling and crowd-pleasing director. Da 5 Bloods is a big film in every sense–the length, the performances, the drama, the thrills, the action, and the message. The final montage features moments that feel incredibly relevant for what is happening in America–and around the world–right now. But this is true of many of the movies in Lee’s filmography, and anyone who saw this month’s devastating short film 3 Brothers will know how sadly prescient his earlier work can be. Da 5 Bloods works superbly as a thrilling action adventure, but it’s the way it also confronts uncomfortable truths about America’s past (and present) that makes it one of the director’s best films.

Source: https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/da-5-bloods-review-spike-lees-netflix-jungle-thril/1900-6417485/?ftag=CAD-01-10abi2f

AR/VR

League of Legends World Championship to feature immersive Mixed Reality experience through Rokid Vision glasses

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In Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality News

October 22, 2020 – Rokid, a provider of augmented and mixed reality (AR/MR) glasses, has today announced that its technology will be available for fans to use at this year’s League of Legends (LoL) World Championship tournaments and opening ceremony for the event finals held in Shanghai, China.

Fans of the popular MMORPG game will be able to use a pair of Rokid Vision AR glasses to experience LoL live at the event and to witness an immersive experience featuring a dragon from the game hovering over the Shanghai Oriental Pearl Tower and flying up to them in their seats, transforming the spectators experience and transporting fans to the Summoner’s Rift, an in-game location from LoL.

Furthermore, whilst wearing Rokid Vision, fans will be able to witness the space surrounding them change to include personalized features such as highlights of the game, close-ups of a favorite player, team names, logos, and other information.

Rokid first introduced its Vision mixed reality glasses at AWE USA 2019. Through a combination of Rokid’s binocular optics, AR and AI capabilities, the glasses extend existing user interfaces with augmented and mixed reality (via a USB-C connection) for devices including phones, laptops, gaming consoles, helping to enhance productivity, entertainment, and gaming. The glasses are also 6 Degrees of Freedom (6DoF) enabled, allowing users to experience more natural interactions with the 3D virtual content that is projected within their visual field.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, there are limited seats at the 2020 League of Legends Global Finals, and many fans cannot attend in person to watch. This is therefore the first time that League of Legends fans will be able to use AR glasses to watch the finals, thanks to Rokid.

This is not the company’s first time employing the use of its AR and MR solutions to offer event fans new experiences though. In 2018, Rokid, in partnership with Teslasuit, created an immersive experience for Formula 1 fans. The experience utilized data and camera footage collected from Formula 1 vehicles, and using the Rokid Vision glasses and Teslasuit’s somatosensory haptic suit, reproduced tactile feedback that enabled users to experience the visual impact and physical experience of driving a Formula 1 car.

For more information on Rokid and its augmented and mixed reality offering, please visit the company’s website.

Image credit: Rokid

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he covers news articles on both the AR and VR industries. He also has an interest in human augmentation technology as a whole, and does not just limit his learning specifically to the visual experience side of things.

Source: https://www.auganix.org/league-of-legends-world-championship-to-feature-immersive-mixed-reality-experience-through-rokid-vision-glasses/

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‘Pokémon Go’ gets AR Mapping tasks to enable more realistic effects

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Pokémon Go players may see a new tag marking some PokéStops next time they check the app. Niantic has officially launched AR Mapping tasks for level 20 Trainers and up, almost five months after the company announced that it’s launching the feature. When they spin a PokéStop marked with the “AR Mapping” tag, they’ll get a Field Research task that will require them to open the AR scanning screen and to explore the area.

Niantic first announced that it’s working on a PokéStop Scan feature back in May in an effort to improve Pokémon Go’s augmented reality effects. By getting players to scan locations, the developer will get what it needs to be able to create 3D maps of PokéStops. They can then use that data to make critters interact with real—world objects, so they can hide behind a tree trunk instead of just float in front of it. Niantic started testing the better AR effects feature called “Reality Blending” back in May, as well, though it’s limited to users with certain newer Android phones.

The developer says good scans last 20 to 30 seconds and keep the PokéStop in the center of the frame. It’s also encouraging users to walk a full 360 degrees around the location. Niantic Kids accounts won’t have access to the feature yet, even for level 20 Trainers — that’s most likely a good thing, since there’s still a pandemic happening — but parents will get the option to toggle it on in the future.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/pokemon-go-ar-mapping-tasks-050321411.html

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AOC aims to get out the vote by streaming Among Us with pokimane and HasanAbi

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We are about seven months into a pandemic and just two weeks from a presidential election. At this point, surprises are a dime a dozen. So it should feel very 2020 that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is about to stream Among Us, the hit game of 2020, on Twitch alongside mega-streamer pokimane and political analyst HasanAbi.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted yesterday that she was looking for people to play the popular game with in an effort to get out the vote, noting that she’s never played before but that it looks fun.

Streamer pokimane, who has 6 million followers on Twitch and whose YouTube videos regularly see more than 1 million views each, responded to the tweet with a figurative raised hand.

HasanAbi, a very popular political commentator on Twitch, who has more than 380,000 Twitter followers, also chimed in to the conversation saying that they’re already making a lobby. It wasn’t long before Rep. Ilhan Omar raised her hand, too.

A good game of Among Us (imagine that someone mixed a fairly basic multiplayer video game with a murder mystery party) usually requires 10 players, so the other six players are still TBD. But the Verge reports that a handful of other streamers (such as DrLupo, Felicia Day, Greg Miller, James Charles, and Neekolul) also lined up to play with AOC.

According to Ocasio-Cortez, the stream is all about getting out the vote. And this isn’t the first time that she’s used video games to connect with her followers. AOC opened up her DMs to all 6.8 million of her followers back in May to let them send her an invite to their island, and she visited them.

Millennial voters (and Gen Z) skew toward backing the Biden / Harris ticket, and AOC is coming to them by getting on Twitch and streaming one of the rocket ship games of this year.

The stream starts at 9pm ET/6pm PT and can be found here.

And you can check if you’re registered to vote here.

Update 9:01pm ET: AOC hasn’t even started playing the game yet and has nearly 250,000 concurrent viewers. 

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/10/20/aoc-aims-to-get-out-the-vote-by-streaming-among-us-with-pokimane-and-hasanabi/

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