Mercedes Tablets for Everyone!

Today’s rant/blog regards Mercedes’ screen situation. Not the infotainment screens in the centre, but rather the instrument cluster screens behind the steering wheel. BMW, Audi and many other automakers are going the digital route for their instrument cluster as it is more convenient and can show a larger amount of data in a less restrictive manner. That’s fine. I have no problem with that. The issue I have is with the way Mercedes is doing it.

Look at the new Audis. Their ‘Digital Cockpit’ is brilliantly done. It still looks like an instrument cluster, but is modernised for the current era. BMW’s is more traditional with the half-digital, half-traditional setup. Mercedes’ take on the other hand, is awful.

When the current E-Class was launched (W213), I thought it was a really nice-looking car – and it is from the outside. However, I cannot stand the tacked-on instrument cluster screen – you know, the one that looks like a glued-in picture of tablet. It looks like a cost-cutting excuse, like Renault would do on its cheaper cars. Not only does it look stupid, it’s bloody ugly. And now that thought has trickled down to other Mercedes models like the A-Class, the new C-Class, the G-Class, the new S-Class and everything in-between.

Speaking of the new S-Class, I despise the interior, but only because of the ugly tablet-looking afterthought. The rest of the interior looks cool and futuristic, but it’s an S-Class! It should be luxurious and opulent and slightly vulgar, like a cheaper RR Phantom. The outgoing S-Class interior is beautiful with the four air-vents taking centre-stage, the swooping lines running the length of the dashboard and the inlaid wood veneer wherever you look. It’s awesome! The new S’ interior looks like an upscale version of the Tesla Model 3’s, which is – quite frankly – an insult, (The Tesla Model 3 has the most boring interior of any new car currently on sale.) I must say, I really like the new S’ steering wheel. It looks futuristic, yet uber-luxurious at the same time.

Yes, the new S has all sorts of clever tech as is its tradition, but the interior doesn’t match that of the exterior (which contrary to popular opinion I actually quite like.) I cannot wait for the AMG version.

So whilst I’m sure the new Mercs are brilliant in almost every way, I cannot get past that ugly, flat, tacked-on afterthought of an instrument screen. And worst of all, IT’S THE THING YOU WILL LOOK AT MOST IN THE WHOLE CAR! Given the choice, I would rather save the almost R2.2 million cost of the E63S and buy a second-hand C63 Black.

Plus I’d have a lot left for the inevitable fuel bill…

©2020 Michael De Kock

Michael de Kock is a recently graduated job-seeking petrolhead nerd, fascinated with avocados and generally quite tall.

Star Wars™ or Star Bores?

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For the last couple of days during this unending lockdown, I have been thinking of Star Wars. The feeds on various social media platforms such as Google, YouTube and Instagram are pretty much just cars and science fiction, with random bits of friends and family stuff in-between. Anything from lightsabers on sale to how the USS Discovery’s Mycelium spore-drive works and how fast spaceships in The Expanse actually travel. (Feel free to notify me, I still don’t have a definite answer.)

I then thought about what I think of the Star Wars movies since everyone is criticising the absolute crap out of the sequel trilogy. So without going into too much detail, I will now give my honest opinions about each one – in chronological order (by era, not release):

The Prequels

The Phantom Menace – Meh

Attack of the Clones – Good

Revenge of the Sith – Better

 

The Fillers

The Clone Wars Series – Excellent! Brilliant! Magnificent!

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Okay

Rebels Series – Meh

Rogue One – Bloody Brilliant!

 

The Original Trilogy

A New Hope – Very Good

The Empire Strikes Back – Really Very Good

Return of the Jedi – Good

 

The Sequels

The Force Awakens – *cough* Knock-off *cough*

The Last Jedi – Uhmmm… What’s with all the comedy?

The Rise of Skywalker – WTF was that?

 

(I have not included The Mandolorian in this for the sole reason that I have not seen it. Sorry. I hear it’s very good though.)

So that’s my short honest opinion. The Sequels really disappointed me – like it did many other people. The Force Awakens was just A New Hope remake to introduce the new characters and get rid of some old ones. The Last Jedi was a complete farce. It was the first Star Wars that I saw in the cinema and I really looked forward to it. Oh boy, was I in for a shock. Why is there so much humour in it? The cinema was laughing more than anything else. It’s Star Wars, not Spaceballs! And why the heck did Cantonica (the casino planet) get so much screen-time?

The only two remotely cool things about the whole movie was the fight scene where Kylo and Rey were fighting together in the throne room on-board the Supremacy (Mega-Star Destroyer for the non- Starwarsians who read here) and the bit where Kylo ordered all the guns to shoot at Luke and he brushed it off like dust (because, of course, he was a projection).

And finally, we get to The Rise of Skywalker. What a fustercluck. The marketing was “the end of an era” and “40 years in the making”, which got me really excited. When I heard Palpatine’s laugh at the end of the trailer, I got really, really excited. So I went into the cinema all pumped up with excitement. But oh, was it crushed fast. I stood outside the cinema afterwards and thought WTF WAS THAT?.

During the run-up to the movie, leaks were happening and fans were going rampant with their theories. I read some of them and I can honestly say that most of them were better than the final product. I like JJ Abrams. I think he’s a great director. He’s the reason I like Star Trek. (Don’t worry, the 80s and 90s ‘Trek are still the best.)

Many of these theories regarded who Rey’s parents were. Many believed that they were nobodies, which would have been cool as it would have made Rey an ordinary galactic citizen who rose up and defeated the most powerful Star Wars baddie. But no, instead she is the granddaughter of said most powerful baddie. Not a Kenobi, not a Skywalker, not a random scavenger, but a freaking Palpatine! This was the single stupidest decision made by Disney and the feminist Kathleen Kennedy should spend some time in the Sarlacc Pit for this and everything else she has done!

Instead of showing people that a nobody from a wrong-side-of-the-tracks place can become great and inspirational, it showed that in order to become truly great and successful, you need to have a favourable background (like many famous people). It’s stupid and uninspiring and very un-Disney. Walt would have a hissy-fit.

This movie also resolved some of the plot holes of the previous movie. I’m not going to bother thinking of examples as I really don’t care, but instead of answering the pressing questions everyone had, they simply added more. For instance, one of the things I was most excited about was the news that Richard E. Grant would be joining the cast as an Imperial General. This was an excellent addition, but it was still ruined. The scene in question was how the movie got rid of General Hux. General Pryde (Grant’s character) just shot him. PEW!, and he was out of the movie. No ceremonious end to the leader of the Imperial Navy, like the one Cutler Beckett got in Pirates of the Caribbean. He didn’t deserve the end he got. More ‘going down with his ship’ would have been so much better instead of ‘getting unceremoniously shot as an afterthought’.

I have this thing when I watch a movie – I want my mind to randomly wander to a bit of the movie that I found cool or inspiring, hours, days or even weeks after watching a movie. I find this to be an indication that the movie was good and that I really enjoyed it. Good examples of this feeling are the murderer being shown less than halfway into the movie in Knifes Out, the beautiful twist at the end of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and the sheer beauty that is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty . The movie must want me to dissect parts of it in order to make sense of the rest. I had one heck of a time with Inception, figuring out which were dreams and which were reality, weeks after watching the movie.

With The Rise of Skywalker, I forgot about the events of the movie as soon as I got home and never really thought about it again – until now when I realised how bloody angry I was and decided to write this sort-of blog, sort-of rant about it.

So, the question is, will I watch it again? The answer; only if I have to – which coincidentally is the same answer I gave with Marvel’s Black Panther. I will however, buy it as it is the only Star Wars movie I need to finish my collection.

But only if it’s on sale.

 

©2020 MICHAEL DE KOCK

 

Michael de Kock is a recently graduated job-seeking nerd, petrolhead, fascinated with avocados and generally quite tall.