Dolittle Review: Robert Downey Jr Stars in an Incredibly Boring Affair

This is a spoiler-free review of Dolittle…
Last year saw the release of Cats — a complete and utter trainwreck and a meme spawning machine. Here’s the funny thing about that sh*t show: It’s made by a man with a vision. There is passion dripping out of every frame. It has the swagger and bravado of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Everybody on set, behind and in front of the camera, were convinced they were making a 21st-century musical masterpiece. It’s one of those epic cinematic ballcancers, like The Room and Batman & Robin, that force movie critics to stretch their literary wings and write something funny worthy of its legendary status.
Dolittle is not that movie.
It feels like it’s made by a large committee of people in suits and ties slicing and dicing away as they please. It feels like that because that’s literally what happened. The film was originally co-written and directed by Stephen Gaghan who won a Screenplay Oscar for Traffic and was nominated for his writing in Syriana. But apparently, test audiences didn’t like his version of Dolittle, so one of the writers of The Lego Batman movie was brought in for significant re-writes and the director of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was hired to handle reshoots. I’m curious to know what Gaghan’s original vision for this thing was. It could’ve been bad, but I’m almost certain it wouldn’t have been as lifeless and rhythmless as what I actually saw on the big screen yesterday. Dolittle is 160 minutes of an ECG machine connected to a dead person — a flatline.

The film opens in stylistically animated form introducing Dr. John Dolittle, the veterinary who has the unique gift of being able to converse with animals. He travelled the world helping animals and on one of his adventures, met the love of his life, Lily. One day, as Lily was sailing across the ocean, her ship was engulfed by large waves, ending her life. As the movie chugged along, I couldn’t help by wonder why that animated prologue, that tragic romance wasn’t the actual movie. It’s infinitely more engrossing than what we actually had to sit through.
After losing Lily, Dr. Dolittle is now a recluse. One day he’s summoned by the Queen of England, who’s on her deathbed. She’s been poisoned. So Dolittle has to traverse across the narrow sea to find a magical antidote that can cure her. The premise is fine, but the film doesn’t feel like the adventure of a lifetime. There are no clues, no interesting and thrilling obstacles to overcome, no memorable set pieces nor an epic musical score. It’s as bland as watching wet paint dry.
It’s just baffling the sheer amount of talent involved in this project but nobody is able to come up with anything remotely stimulating. (I know I shouldn’t be baffled by this since my opening paragraph was about effing Cats but just roll with my punches, ok?) How is it that you enlist Danny Elfman (Beetlejuice, Batman 1989) as the composer and aren’t able to extract even a fraction of a beat that’s noteworthy?

I don’t believe Robert Downey Jr when he said this is his passion project. Fantasy films are filled with wacky characters. Lord Voldermort, Luna Lovegood and the wackiest of all, Captain Jack Sparrow come to mind. But these characters feel alive. They’re flesh and blood. They have hearts that thump according to the pulse of the films. They fit seamlessly with the tone of their respective worlds. Here RDJ in his first non-Marvel role since 2014, is so over-the-top and excessive, you wince almost every time he’s on-screen. Seeing as how he’s on-screen almost every second of the movie, by the end of it, your face will be permanently disfigured from all the wincing. His accent is godawful and his body language always extra. You know how some dads try to mimic funny characters to try and make their newborns laugh but end up making them cry instead? Ya, that’s RDJ as Dr. Dolittle.
The rest of the characters suck as well. Sure, the CGI animals LOOK fine, but they lack even an iota of personality, unless you count little ticks like “anxiety” personality. They’re all voiced by supremely talented people (Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer) but not one of them say anything remotely funny. Of course, it’s not their fault. What can you do if you’re handed pieces of paper with scribbles on them where they should’ve been lines of humorous dialogue. Even the villainous characters played by Antonia Banderas and Michael Sheen look like they’re part of a skit on an SNL stage. Nobody comes alive, not even for a second.

The thing is, this movie isn’t BAD in the sense that there are convoluted and contrived plot points, poor character motivation and the likes. It’s not the kind of film that makes my head explode at the utter stupidity that I’m witnessing. It’s just as lifeless as my mom’s potted plants when she goes out of town and leaves watering duties to me. After a while, I just closed my notebook (yes, I take notes at the movies like a loser nerd) and resigned myself to this aggressively below average affair, trying very hard not to fall asleep.
After the film, a number of people asked me if I’m being too harsh on a family/kids movie. But here’s my response. When I was seven, wide-eyed and clueless, my dad brought me to see a little movie called Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone. That too is a movie aimed at families and kids. It changed my life forever. When I was 10, I watched Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and was blown away by the swashbuckling adventure, the glorious set pieces and Hans Zimmer’s iconic score. But if your idea of a kids movie is watching Iron Man stick his hand up a dragon’s butt to pull out bagpipes and the dragon lets out a huge fart, then by all means. I’m just not going to be taking my kids to see Dolittle, mostly because I’m not married and don’t have kids, but also because I never want to see a dragon fart ever again.
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Alleged Xbox Series X Live Photos Leaked Online

Microsoft first revealed its brand new home console, the Xbox Series X, during The Game Awards 2019 back in December. Its world premiere trailer didn’t reveal much of the console’s details aside from its minimalist design, but a recent leak may help us remedy that problem.
Twitter user Doug_Dragox has uploaded two alleged live photos of an Xbox Series X prototype unit, showcasing the console’s front and rear design. Thurrot.com’s Brad Sams claims that these images are authentic, based on information he gathered from industry insiders.

In front, we can see that the console sports a vertical disc slot with what appears to be an eject button above it, a single USB-A port with an unspecified black button on top, and the Xbox logo on the top left. It’s uncertain if the black button or the Xbox logo would function as the console’s power switch.
The second photo showcases the console’s back which depicts its dual rear vents, and a variety of ports consisting of two USB-A, a single HDMI-out, an optical audio port, an Ethernet port, and a power-in slot. Sams explained that the large rectangular port is used for diagnostics and will not be included in the commercial release.

Besides that, the unit also features a label with “Xbox Product Name Placeholder” and “Prototype – Not For Sale” displayed on it. Sams also points out that the prototype console’s barcode and serial number are identifiable in the leaked images, which could actually spell trouble for the person who was assigned this unit.
In anycase, these photos could probably be our best look at the upcoming Microsoft console – albeit a prototype version. The Xbox Series X is expected to release sometime at the end of 2020.
(Source: Doug_Dragox via Twitter / Thurrot.com.)
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Vodafone Becomes Latest Member To Leave Facebook Libra Association

Vodafone, the UK-based telecommunications brand, has become the latest company to exit the Libra Association. The telco’s withdrawal from the Facebook-created regulatory group was confirmed recently by CoinDesk.
Along with its withdrawal, Vodafone says it will also be pulling out resources initially intended for Libra and shifting it towards M-Pesa, the telco’s own digital payment service, which has seen success with mobile users. Primarily within Africa.
It’s not wrong to say Facebook’s Libra has undergone many hardships since its launch back in June 2019. With the backing of several brands that included Visa, Mastercard, Uber, and eBay, to name a few.

Since then, several companies have since withdrawn their support for the currency, including the aforementioned companies. Specifically, nine companies – including Vodafone – no longer associate themselves with the Libra Association.
It also doesn’t help its case that US lawmakers had expressed concern about the cryptocurrency and the impact it may have on national security and data privacy. If that wasn’t enough fuel to the fire, both France and Germany vowed that they would block the cryptocurrency from their financial systems altogether.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Libra Association, though. As it so happens, the regulatory group is reportedly getting ready to accept more members into the group and that it has a waiting list of more than 1500 companies lining up for it.
(Source: CoinDesk via Engadget)
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Intel Pulls PCIe 4.0 Support For Comet Lake Motherboards

While AMD continues lay claim to the desktop PC market with its 7nm Ryzen CPUs, Intel has clearly been having difficulty making the jump from 14nm to 10nm. Now, to make matters worse, it seems that the semiconductor maker is rescinding PCIe 4.0 support on next-generation Socket 1200.
According to Tom’s Hardware, Intel’s Socket 1200 motherboards were all ready to support the new connective interface first introduced by AMD. However, due to some issues surrounding the Comet Lake chipset, the company had no choice but to backtrack on its original plan and revert back to using PCIe 3.0 instead.
For context, the PCIe 4.0 interface has double the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0. At current, AMD’s X570 chipset and Radeon RX 5000 series graphics cards are the only components capable of making full use of the interface.
(Image source: Tom’s Hardware)
On a slightly brighter note, Intel’s issues with integrating PCIe 4.0 into Socket 1200 is seemingly isolated to just the chipset, with the Comet Lake CPUs themselves having no issue.
That said, Intel’s move is both unexpected and, undoubtedly, an unwelcomed one at most; aside from being unable to move forward from the ageing 14nm process node, not having a PCIe 4.0 compatible motherboard means that Intel will once again be lagging behind AMD. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Rocket Lake will be the chipset to get the interface.
(Source: Tom’s Hardware)
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Samsung Galaxy S20 Price Rumours Appear Online; Comparable To Current Flagships At Launch

Earlier, Max Weinbach of XDA shared live shots of of the Samsung Galaxy S20, seemingly confirming the upcoming flagship line’s name. More recently, it looks like he’s caught word of the prices of the devices as well. Interestingly, they look quite similar to those of the 2019 flagships.
As shared on Twitter, Weinbach says the base Galaxy S20 model may cost between EUR900 (~RM4059) and EUR1000 (~RM4510). The Galaxy S20 Plus, on the other hand, will be priced between EUR 1050 (~RM4736) and EUR1100 (~RM4961). As for the Galaxy S20 Ultra, this one is said to come with a EUR1300 (~RM5864) price tag. In a separate tweet, he also said that 4G versions of the phones will be priced about EUR100 (~RM451) lower across the board.

So just heard S20 prices. Expect these to be lower than listed but at the moment we are expecting:
S20 5G: €900-1000S20+ 5G: €1050-1100S20 Ultra 5G: €1300
Galaxy Z Flip is supposed to be about €1400 but I expect that to change before launch.
— Max Weinbach (@MaxWinebach) January 20, 2020

He did caution that the actual price of the Samsung Galaxy S20 devices may be lower than what he shared. And it’s likely to be true either way when the phones make it to the Malaysian market. The Galaxy S10, for instance, launched with a price tag of EUR899, but was priced at RM3299 when it first landed on our shores.

The 4G will be about €100 less than the 5G.
As for talking USD, it’s probably going to be less. My guess is $850, $950, $1200. These seem a bit high but these phones do seem like spec beasts. Could justify the price tbh.
— Max Weinbach (@MaxWinebach) January 20, 2020

The Galaxy Z Flip was also mentioned, with its price at EUR1400 (~RM6313). It’s not as eye-watering as the Galaxy Fold, but it’s still a steep price, to say the least.
At any rate, the upcoming Unpacked event is not too far away. It won’t be long before we know for sure what the prices of the Samsung Galaxy S20 devices, as well as that of the Galaxy Z Flip, are.
(Source: Max Weinbach / Twitter)
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Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution To Premiere On Netflix On 27 February

Fans of the Pokemon franchise will know that Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution, the CGI remake of the first movie, is on its way. Netflix and The Pokemon Company International have announced that the movie will premiere on the former, on 27 February 2020.
The movie itself is the 22nd movie of the Pokemon franchise. Being a remake, it will have the same general plot as the first one, revolving around the eponymous Mewtwo. The movie was a success when it premiered in Japan last year, no doubt with nostalgia playing a major role.

The trailer, embedded above, gives a glimpse into the film’s CGI. It’s definitely a different flavour compared to the original, but it’s also not quite what you’d expect if you’ve watched Detective Pikachu. Mewtwo itself looks great, and the other Pokemon are fine. But Pikachu looks a little off, especially the bit at the end with a view of its back.
As mentioned earlier, Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution premieres outside of Japan and Korea on Netflix on 27 February 2020. The day also happens to be Pokemon Day, the day when the very first Pokemon games, Red and Green, were released in Japan.
(Source: Netflix / YouTube)
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Apple iPhone SE2 Reportedly Entering Mass Production In February

Apple is reportedly commencing the production of a new low-cost iPhone in February and is expected to be unveiled as early as March 2020. Interestingly, leaked renders of the alleged successor to 2016’s budget-friendly iPhone SE had surfaced online, courtesy of well-known industry insider Onleaks.
News of the phone’s production was shared to Bloomberg by people familiar with Apple’s plan and road map. The individuals mention that the assembly work for the low-cost iPhone model will be split among three Taiwanese companies; Hon Hai Precision Industry (better known as Foxconn), Pegatron Corp. and Wistron Corp.

As previously reported, the phone in question is speculated to sport a similar design to 2017’s Apple iPhone 8 and features a traditional 4.7-inch screen. The phone is said to be equipped with Touch ID on its physical home button rather than relying on the company’s Face ID biometric authentication, which are found in current iPhone models. OnLeaks mentions that it will also feature a next-gen A13 Bionic processor, an improved battery and an “advanced single-lens camera.”

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment regarding the new low-cost iPhone and its production when approached by Bloomberg. It’s also uncertain if the phone will be called the “iPhone SE2” and other rumours have suggested that it might be named “iPhone 9” instead.
(Source: Bloomberg | Images: OnLeaks.)
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Previous Half-Life Games Are Free Until The Launch Of Alyx

Valve’s upcoming VR title, Half-Life: Alyx, launches in March this year. The company made the announcement back in November, which led to the Index VR headset selling out a week later. Now, the company announced that older Half-Life games are free to play until Alyx launches.
So what exactly do you get for free? Listed on the Steam announcement page are Half-Life and Half-Life 2, as well as the latter’s Episode 1 and Episode 2. Two expansions for the first Half-Life, Opposing Force and Blue Shift also appear to be free to play for two months, even if not listed as part of the announcement.
There’s an important caveat here that must be mentioned. While you have two months with these games, it looks like you will have to buy them to play them again once the new VR title is out. That said, you’ll still have slightly over a month to go through them at the very least.

You may be wondering why Valve is being so generous, even if only for a limited amount of time. According to the announcement post, the dev team behind Half-Life: Alyx believes that the best way to experience the VR game is to have experienced all other entries in the series before it. Fair enough, but still a little strange, considering the Alyx’s timeline sits in between the two main titles.
At any rate, if by some miracle you’ve not experienced any of these, now’s your chance to do so. If you already have Steam installed, then all you need to do is to click on their respective links. You can find the Steam announcement page, as well as the entire Half-Life series, in the links below.
(Source: Steam [1], [2])
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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU Pops Up For Gaming Notebooks

Gaming notebooks with NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX GPUs have been around for some time, with the top-of-the-line variant on the market being the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q. That may change this year, seeing how information regarding a GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q has made its way online.
The information was posted by leakster, Apisak (@TUM_APISAK), who in turn found the alleged notebook GPU listed on Geekbench Browser. The RTX 2080 Super Max-Q seems to have been paired with an Intel Core i9-10980HK; a processor that also hasn’t been formally launched by its parent company. Further, we can see that the GPU in question is running at a maximum clockspeed of 1.23GHz, although it’s unlikely that this is the actual – or final – number of the GPU.
One important takeaway from this pairing though is that whatever gaming notebook this is, it’s clear that the machine is poised to be a powerhouse of sorts. Much like its desktop counterpart, it’s likely that the RTX 2080 Super Max-Q will be packing the same 3072 CUDA cores and 8GB GDDR6 graphics memory. As well as the same 48 RT Cores.

Of course, this is still a Max-Q variant we’re looking wat, so it would be a fool’s hope to expect it to perform on the same level as the desktop version of the card. Unsurprisingly, there are no further details about the GPU, but seeing how this bit of news is now out in the open, it’s only a matter of time until we start seeing more leaks about other RTX Super GPUs for notebooks.
(Source: Geekbench via Twitter, Tom’s Hardware)
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JJ Abrams Developing Justice League Dark Movies and TV Shows

The DCEU (or DC movies in general) is in an exciting phase right now. There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut plan in the same vein as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but every individual project that has come out in the post-Snyder era has been really good. Films like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam and Joker have not only received various degrees of critical acclaim but have also done really well at the box office. Now, it looks like things are going to get a lot more interesting.
According to Deadline, JJ Abrams’ production banner Bad Robot will be developing a bunch of films and TV series based on DC Comics’ Justice League Dark. Per Deadline:
This deal is all very nascent and at this point in time there aren’t any specific projects or characters that are being specifically developed out of the franchise. I understand that Bad Robot’s Head of Motion Pictures Hannah Minghella and Head of Television Ben Stephenson will soon be taking meetings with talent reps and their writing clients on which characters will get their own projects.
There is still no word yet if JJ Abrams (director of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Super 8) himself would be directing any of these films, though one can certainly hope.

Justice League Dark is a pretty new addition to the DC comic verse, having first made itself known in 2011’s Justice League Dark #1 by writer Peter Milligan and artist Mikel Janin. The team comprises of darker, more unorthodox characters in the DC universe such as John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Madame Xanadu, a ghost named Deadman, a vampire called Andrew Bennett, Zatanna who’s a magician and Frankenstein’s monster. The crew is usually deployed to deal with bad guys considered too supernatural for Superman and gang to handle.
As excited as I am for this news, I think it’s best we don’t count the chicks before they hatch. They’ve been talks for many years now about doing a live-action Justice League Dark film (s). Even Guillermo del Toro was attached to the project at one point. However, none of it has come to fruition thus far.
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