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Solo movie finds its feet

Overall, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a great film if you know enough about the Star Wars universe and not so much if you’re not well acquainted with it, making it one of the less successful additions to the franchise, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story is the most enjoyable Star Wars prequels yet. The film starts in the time when Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) lived in Corellia with one of the Star Wars universe’s newest characters, Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke): she is introduced kissing Han in the first few minutes of the film. The film starts with some jokes that don’t land too well, but it quickly finds its feet in the first 10 minutes or so.

There has been some online skepticism about whether Ehrenreich could fill Harrison Ford’s Han Solo boots. He did an amazing job. The way Ehrenreich holds himself, the way he speaks, and his general character, is a perfect representation of how Solo should be: young, full of life, and hungry for justice. Solo explains how Han gets to become one of the best pilots in the universe, despite all the challenges he faces. 

It’s a great struggle story of a nobody from Corellia finding his way in the Star Wars universe. That being said, the movie has a lot more to it than just Han finding his way.

The tale begins when Han and Qi’Ra get separated, forcing him to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot alone. He is quickly led into the pits of battle, where he meets bandits and a 196-year-old (!) Wookie named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). He makes friends with the bandits and his new Wookie friend to become an intergalactic looter of a rare and expensive power source, coaxium. Along the way, Han needs help from Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).

Qi’Ra’s initial appearance in Solo asserts her as one of the strongest female leads since Princess Leia. Her strong screen presence leaves one hanging onto her every word, especially when she appears later in the film. In her time alone away from Han, she mentions she learned a bit of Teras Kasi, one of the strongest form of hand-to-hand combat in the Star Wars universe. 

The great thing about this moment is that Teras Kasi has never been mentioned in any Star Wars film and was only referenced a few times in the 1997 PlayStation 1 game, Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. This is one of the greatest, and most under-appreciated, Star Wars tie-in moments in the film.

Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) pushes the limits of defining relationships in the Star Wars universe by having a love interest in a robot, L3-37, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Solo’s writers have revealed (in a Huffington Post interview) that Lando’s character is pansexual, which can be noted from Lando flirting with anyone (and anything, if we’re not calling robots people) he meets. 

This is an extremely progressive move from the Star Wars writers, creatively expressing what is essentially a LGBT character in a science fiction universe. 

Overall, this Star Wars story is brilliant if you know enough about the Star Wars universe and less than brilliant if you’re not well acquainted with it. That being said, the box office force wasn’t exactly with Solo, which may be a sign of prequel fatigue. 

What should be next to save the Star Wars universe? Proper cool-off time before creating more Star Wars films, as we’ve seen one a year since 2015.

Arts and Entertainment

IFA: Samsung unveils 8K TV

During its press conference at IFA 2018 this week, Samsung Electronics announced its foray into 8K with the unveiling of the Q900FN QLED 8K TV in an 85” size. Samsung says it features all the benefits of Samsung’s flagship QLED line and several enhancements that bring 8K-quality images to life.

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“At Samsung, we’ve worked well over the years to move the industry forward when it comes to premium picture quality, and the introduction of the Q900FN with 8K AI Upscaling is an integral component as we look to the future of displays,” said Jongsuk Chu, Senior Vice President of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. “We’re thrilled to introduce the Q900FN to consumers and are confident that they will experience nothing short of brilliance in colour, clarity and sound from our new 8K-capable models.”

To achieve 8K-quality images, the Samsung Q900FN features Real 8K Resolution and is capable of 4,000 nit peak brightness, a standard employed by many Hollywood studios. This feature allows the Q900FN to produce four times more pixels than a 4K UHD TV and 16 times more pixels than a full HD TV. Q HDR 8K, powered by HDR10+ technology, optimises the TV’s brightness levels and delivers the visual experience intended by creators. The Q900FN has already received the official HDR10+ logo certification.

Samsung’s proprietary AI-powered 8K Upscaling technology enhances lower resolution content to 8K quality. Whether a viewer is watching content through a streaming service, set-top box, HDMI, USB or even mobile mirroring, the 8K Quantum Processor recognises and upscales the content to appear in 8K quality. In addition, the Q900FN features Direct Full Array Elite for enhanced contrast and precise backlighting control, and as with all of our QLED models, it delivers 100% colour Volume so viewers can experience billions of shades of colour for the purest colour accuracy available to date.

The Q900FN features a slate of new functions that enable consumers to get the most from their TV, while maintaining the highest quality in picture and sound. For example, the TV recognises and analyses a number of connected entertainment devices like audio devices connected via optical cable with the One Remote, then automatically switches the TV’s image source and audio output for an optimised viewing experience. Lifestyle features, such as Ambient Mode, have been enhanced to seamlessly blend the TV in the surrounding space and by showcasing beautiful images, weather, news and more on the screen. The One Invisible Connection, which comes standard at five meters and is also available in 15 meters, incorporates the optical cable and power into one thin cord, giving users more freedom to decide where and how they place the TV. Smart enhancements, such as SmartThings, further simplify the connected living experience, and the Universal Guide provides personalised recommendations to easily find live and OTT content on TV.

Samsung will showcase its latest television and audio announcements in its booth at IFA, located at the City Cube Berlin on Level 2.

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Arts and Entertainment

NAG LAN returns to rAge

The NAG LAN is back at rAge this October, and tickets are on sale both online and at Computicket outlets.

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As SA’s most popular LAN, tickets to the NAG LAN are expected to sell out mega fast, and this year – as promised – the organisers are delivering an even more awesome event and experience!

“For the first time ever, gamers will be able to pre-select their preferred experience in three dedicated LAN areas when purchasing their tickets.  Two of the areas will be fully carpeted, one area will have padded chairs, and two areas will be quieter and more secluded from the noisy expo show floor, ensuring that the NAG LAN experience is more tailored to everyone’s individual tastes and levels of comfort,” says Michael James, Owner and Project Manager at rAge.

In addition to this, gamers will now be able to take forty winks at, next to or underneath their tables and will not be disturbed by security.

More good news is that the changes to the NAG LAN also mean a bigger rAge show floor, making for a more interactive and spacious visitor experience, with more exhibitions and activities on offer this year.

The NAG LAN is Southern Africa’s largest BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer/Console) LAN event. Gamers from all over South Africa will travel to rAge with their gaming rigs, laptops and consoles, where they’ll then game for 52 solid hours!  2018 sees big name sponsors on board to ensure an impressive experience. Nutanix is sponsoring the servers, with Aruba supplying the switches and MWEB Fibre ensuring broadband connectivity.

“Not only is rAge a must-attend event in the calendar for gamers, but it also brings together a host of young talent who may well pursue a future in software development or IT. The sponsorship, and provision of the server architecture for the LAN, provides us with the perfect platform to showcase Nutanix as a next-generation platform for who we believe will be the future IT leaders of our digital economy,” states Paul Ruinaard, country manager Sub-Saharan Africa at Nutanix. “Furthermore, we have architected the NAG LAN platform to run virtualization for a high-volume traffic environment, a step away from the bare-metal architecture they have used in the past. We are looking forward to seeing the benefits this yields for the gamers in a live environment.”

This year’s NAG LAN will prove to be an unforgettable experience for any gamer wanting to spend a weekend filled with meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones, as well as non-stop gaming 24/7.

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