Archive for March 23, 2020
Mahershala Ali's role in The Hunger Games franchise proved he was a movie star in the making. The Hunger Games is a series of YA books by Suzanne Collins and is set in a grim future where a totalitarian government rules over Panem. This country is divided into different Districts and each year a televised death sport called the Hunger Games selects candidates from each District to take part. The books follow heroine Katniss, who takes the place of her sister in the game, becoming a champion and later a symbol of hope and rebellion.
The Hunger Games movies were a huge success and later spawned a whole slew of YA adaptations. Early successes included The Maze Runner and Divergent but after a glut of mediocre offerings this craze soon burned itself out. Not even The Hunger Games was immune from this dip, with final outing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 becoming the lowest-grossing of the series, though it was still a comfortable hit. Collins is currently working on prequel novel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is also set to become a movie. The story focuses on young President Snow and Katniss is very unlikely to make an appearance.
The Hunger Games movies assembled a stellar supporting cast around lead Jennifer Lawrence, including Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Jena Malone, and Donald Sutherland. Mahershala Ali joined that ensemble in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay as Boggs, a loyal follower of President Coin who is assigned to project Katniss as she films propaganda for the Second Rebellion. Boggs is unwavering in his commitment to keeping Katniss safe, and the two soon become good friends, despite her distrust of Coin. Boggs saves her life on numerous occasions and is shown to have his own doubts about Coin's motives.
Boggs is later killed during a raid on the Capitol in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 after stepping on a landmine boobytrap. Mahershala Ali had previously appeared in the likes of Predators and House Of Cards, but it was The Hunger Games that brought him to audiences' attention. Boggs is very much a supporting character in the series, but Ali made a big impression with the character regardless. Soon after he appeared in Netflix's Luke Cage and won acclaim for Moonlight, which provided him with his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
From there, Mahershala Ali's career has been on a roll, including Green Book - which gave him his second Oscar - and voicing The Prowler in the acclaimed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He also did career-best work in True Detective season 3 and is set to inherit Blade from Wesley Snipes. His role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay duology showed his movie star potential, and he soon went on to prove it in a big way.
Teresa Giudice of The Real Housewives of New Jersey fame revealed that she has considered freezing her eggs to have a baby boy. The housewife has four daughters and is thinking of possibly trying for a son.
She and Joe Giudice were married for 20 years after dating as childhood sweethearts. After Joe got in trouble with the United States government by avoiding taxes and spent some time behind bars. When he was released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement back on October 11th, he was then immediately flown back to his home country, Italy. Towards the end of the year, Joe and his wife, Teresa, sat down with a tell-all interview where they opened up about the state of their marriage to Andy Cohen. Finally announcing that they had decided to go their separate ways.
During a very candid tell-all special for season 10, Teresa finally opened up regarding the inner workings of her marriage to Joe. She explained how if she knew he was cheating, she would have left the relationship long ago. Melissa Gorga pointed out that her brother-in-law never treated Teresa kindly and often spoke with her harshly. The mother of four then joked that she was looking for her next husband to be Jewish as she has heard they make great husbands. Andy Cohen then asked if she would be willing to have more children if she ever did decide to remarry, to which the 47-year-old reality star said she would.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey star explained that if she were to become involved with a new man in a good relationship, she would try to have a baby boy. She even told cameras that she would like to freeze her eggs to assure that she could. Teresa shared that while she was married to Joe, the couple had tried in vitro fertilization right before she gave birth to her youngest daughter, Audriana. Not to get fans hopes up, she continued to say while seated on the reunion couch that she had not started the process of freezing her eggs. She even joked with Cohen saying that a new baby would be impossible right now as she had not had sex yet since leaving Joe.
Fans of Teresa and her fellow housewives know that she has not yet jumped back into the dating world. She was rumored to have been dating her pool boy, who she also went to school with, but she maintained that they were just friends. She did tell viewers that she wants the next man she is with to make her laugh as she could not remember a time Joe did that for her. Fans are positive that once Teresa gets back out in the dating world, she will find a good man to be her partner.
Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for Supergirl, Season 5, Episode 16, "Alex In Wonderland."
Supergirl season 5, episode 16, "Alex in Wonderland" offered up several references to the Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. These nods to the classic films came during a virtual reality segment in which Alex Danvers stepped into the shoes of her super-powered sibling, Kara. "Alex In Wonderland" found the former DEO director in a serious funk. Alex was feeling lost and trying to find a new place for herself in the wake of her leaving the DEO after Lex Luthor took over the organization. She was thrown further off-balance by the death of her father, Jeremiah Danvers, who had gone into hiding after betraying the sinister anti-alien organization Project Cadmus.
Seeking an escape, Alex turned to Obsidian Platinum, a new virtual reality platform that claimed to be the most advanced system of its kind. Alex was broadly familiar with the system, having used it to track a kidnapper through a simulation of Las Vegas at the request of her girlfriend, Kelly Olsen, who was on the software's development team. Faced with a number of options for her virtual life, Alex elected to become Supergirl and soon found herself flying around a virtual National City, fighting dragons and answering calls to action from a DEO where J'onn J'onzz was still the director.
It was shortly after reporting in at the DEO that Alex's senses were assaulted by a high-pitched transmission. This signal was revealed to be the work of Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg-Superman, who proclaimed that there was "...only one thing alive that can hear this frequency... and that's you," before detailing that he had stolen a missile, kidnapped Kara and that would reveal Alex's secret identity to the world if she failed to deliver him a nuclear warhead to go with the missile. Lex Luthor used the same trick to get Superman's attention and made the same proclamation in Superman: The Movie.
Another nod to the classic Superman movies came later in the episode, as Alex's memories of her real life began to become overridden by her desire to stay in the virtual world. After running into another Obsidian Platinum player who was playing as Supergirl in a virtual bar, Alex was left confused and asked her virtual J'onn and Brainiac-5 companions how there could be two Supergirls. Brainiac-5 suggested that it "might be the result (of) Kryptonite poisoning" in an apparent nod to the story of Superman III, where Superman was split into a good Clark Kent and an evil Superman after being exposed to a synthetic, tar-laced form of Kryptonite.
This isn't the first time that Supergirl has referenced the classic Superman movies or Christopher Reeve himself, and the Arrowverse is known for paying homage to the DC shows and movies and that came before, but these specific references were great for fans of the Reeve films, in that they bolstered what was happening in this virtual reality world.
Barriers to entry are high for Half-Life: Alyx, as Valve's long-awaited return to the series requires quite the robust VR setup. Only certain VR headsets are compatible with Half-Life: Alyx, and the game also comes with some demanding minimum PC system requirements.
Valve surprised the gaming world with the announcement that its long-awaited return to Half-Life would be via the VR-only Alyx. Valve's full development force behind a VR title could propel the medium forward, but it also seemed like a big risk, as VR's high cost meant the game would have a limited install base. At least from a gameplay standpoint, Half-Life: Alyx reviews report the decision may have been worth the risk.
Valve's innovation and polish means Half-Life: Alyx requires a lot of advanced tech to run well. That limits it to a few VR headsets and high-perfomance PCs. Here's everything players need to play Half-Life: Alyx.
Valve only lists Half-Life: Alyx's minimum system requirements on Steam, not giving any particular hardware recommendations, but that's probably because the minimum specs are so high already. To prepare for Half-Life: Alyx, series fans will need to upgrade their PCs beyond the minimum recommendations of the Valve Index. The company's own VR machine headset, the Index requires at least 8 GB or RAM, a dual-core CPU, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD RX480. But Half-Life: Alyx demands more. The full system requirements are listed below.
- OS: Windows 1o
- Processor: Core i5-7500 / Ryzen 5 1600
- Memory: 12 GB RAM
- Graphics: GTX 1060 / RX 580 - 6GB VRAM
Below is a breakdown of each VR headset that supports Half-Life: Alyx, via The Verge. Keep in mind that these headsets will only support the game if the PCs they're paired with meet the aforementioned minimum system requirements.
The Index is Valve's 2019 answer to the long-running battle of third-party VR headsets. On its own, it costs $499, with controllers sold separately for $279. A bundle can be purchased with the controllers and two headset-tracking "base stations" for $999, and those who purchase any Index bundle receive Half-Life: Alyx for free. At the time of writing, new Index orders won't ship for another eight weeks. The Index headset's sales doubled after the game was announced, so it appears Valve is still struggling to meet demand.
HTC offers varying levels of performance with its three Vive series. The Pro headsets are higher-end, ranging from $599 to $1,199, depending on which compatible components from other VR systems (base stations, controllers, etc.) a buyer might already have. The Cosmos, which comes with a headset and controllers for $699, does not require base stations for tracking. The Cosmos Elite - which also comes with Half-Life: Alyx - has packed-in base stations for tracking and includes higher-quality controllers, totaling $899.
The Oculus Quest VR headset has the advantage of being wire-free ("untethered") for many games, allowing for unhindered movement during play. Unfortunately, as the PC specs above imply, Quest owners will need to connect the headset to a capable PC with a compatible USB-C cable (sold separately) in order to play Half-Life: Alyx. The Quest itself (with two controllers) sells for $399 or $499, depending on its storage space. The Rift S costs $399, as well. It's a lower-quality headset than the rest in some ways, but it has a built-in cable that negates some of what Quest owners will need to pay in order to play Half-Life: Alyx.
Microsoft once endorsed a variety of cheaper, "mixed reality" headsets, but now only hosts one on its website: The Samsung HMD Odyssey Plus. Unfortunately, this $279 headset (with no controllers) is currently out of stock on Microsoft's website.
Half-Life: Alyx released for PC on March 23, 2020.