Friday, April 05, 2019

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

A Star is Born:
This is a predictable downer of a musical biopic that never paints outside of the lines and is barely worth watching for the good acting performances. There's a point early in the movie where I hoped it would diverge from the expected path and become a road trip movie featuring a bunch of drag queens cracking jokes on a tour bus, but it was not to be. They need people like me working on screenplays in Hollywood, because my version would definitely have won Best Picture.

Final Grade: C-

Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms by Hannah Fry:
Although written by a mathematician, this book offers a friendly introduction to machine learning and algorithms using common language and a compelling writing style that relies on interesting real-world anecdotes. Instead of focusing on the math and logic within any particular algorithm, it describes the impacts various algorithms have had on our lives. It gives a balanced assessment of the pros and cons of machine learning, and what potential lies on the horizon. The general theme is that the "magic" of algorithms can lead us to bestowing them with unwarranted trust and authority -- human oversight and transparency is critical to avoid a Black Mirror dystopian society.

Final Grade: B+

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze:
Another transplant from the abortive Wii U to the Switch, this is a polished, difficult platformer. I died many times in the first few worlds, probably because I'm no longer as good at console games as I was in my teen years. The game suffers a bit from controls that feel slow and imprecise and there are way too many collectibles drawing out the play time. Not a bad game, just not my favourite.

Final Grade: B-

Arrested Development, Season Five Part Two:
Skip it. The final 8 episodes are not very funny, have an over-reliance on old catchphrases, and stretch already thin plotlines to infinity. It also doesn't help that the show is still relying on some of the awful plots from Season Four when it would have been better to move on and forget them. Performances are generally obligatory or low energy, and every scene with Tobias' "new family" is awful. If you can't stand not knowing how everything turns out, just watch the final 45 minute episode which wraps everything up. This one episode could have been shown in lieu of the previous 15 Season Five episodes without any loss of plot continuity. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: D+

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