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The Village

Review By Gokhra

M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village" opens with the funeral of a small child and a large meal for all its inhabitants. There is no electricity, magazines called Rising Stars, cable TV (or even TV for that matter) or cars. You will be forgiven for thinking this community is Amish. The truth is it is set in a Pennsylvania community named Covington in 1897.

The Plot:
From time to time a big, twisting groan will escape from the trees, giving the gentle people of this community a reason to look nervously up from their plates. It turns out there are creatures that reside in the woods and who are referred to, in a typical phrase, as "those we don't speak of." There's a border that neither the Covingtonians nor the creatures are supposed to cross. Solemn violin dirges permeate the sound track. It is autumn, overcast and chilly. Girls find a red flower and bury it. Everyone speaks in the passive voice. The vitality has been drained from the characters from fear.

Watchtowers guard the periphery of the village, and flares burn through the night. But so far there has been a truce between the village people and the creatures. They stay in the forest and the villagers stay in the village.

Lately, however, the young people in the town have been slipping into the woods. There is a deft love triangle going on in the movie with the besotted going into the forbidden woods. The chief culprit is Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix). He wants to take a closer look into the forest to see what is going on and sends a petition to the elders. The adults know this will incite the creatures to kill. But death will keep visiting Covington if no one fetches a vaccine, and the creatures already seem vexed. There've been a number of animals left dead and peltless around town, and one night ominous slashes in red, known as "the bad color," are left on everyone's front doors.

Why is it that young people always want the forbidden? Anyways, Kitty Walker (Judy Greer) is in love with Lucius, who silently loves Kitty's blind sister Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard). Ivy is of course best friends with the smitten village idiot who has a thing for her. This last character is played with spectacular derangement by Adrien Brody as Noah Percy. So it's not really a triangle but more of a square.

In this isolated village, surrounded by a menacing dark woods filled with unnamed and menacing creatures a crisis suddenly develops. Lucius, Ivy and Noah venture into the woods and one of them is nearly killed.

Lucius goes to the town elders with a request to go through the forest to reach "the towns" for medicines. This leaves the elders, headed by dolorous Edward Walker (Hurt), grim August Nicholson (Gleeson) and Lucius' sturdy mother Alice (Sigourney Weaver), the painful problem of deciding whether to go for much-needed medical help in the distant city when the creatures are still on their rampage.

Edward Walker decides reluctantly to send someone to "the towns" to bring back medicine for whoever was injured. So off goes his daughter Ivy, a blind girl in a yellow riding hood walking through the forest inhabited by strange creatures. Sounds a bit like a fairy tales now, doesn't it? Worse still, why send a blind girl through a menacing forest? This all sounds sinister enough and you start wondering how little sense it makes. But you are not given much time to wonder because things keep happening one after the other leaving you in a trance.

Such mysterious going ons keep you on the edge wondering what is going to happen. Its a brilliantly made film in the sense that you are drawn into the gloom that Shyamalan is trying to create. Its all an expertly crafted illusion to keep you from thinking about the subtle nuances that would normally make you think in very unsubtle terms, DUH? Problem is that the climax of this romantic horror film comes up with a surprise-shocking ending that isn't especially shocking or surprising. Its good but then in common human nature we end up comparing with past Shyamalan greats like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.

Game Review

The Hobbit
This is the tale of Bilbo Baggins...

By Shuvom

Sierra Entertainment's The Hobbit is the first major computer game based on the 1937 JRR Tolkien classic with the same title of "The Hobbit". The book, of course, is the prelude to The Lord of the Rings and the game is about its most important character Bilbo Baggins, "a Hobbit from the Shire with no idea of the adventures about to befall him"! Although the game doesn't have something revolutionary to boast about, just the fact that you can now be the hobbit taking part in crazy adventures throughout Tolkien's world is something glorious enough.

The game sets off pretty much as the book does. Gandalf the Wizard shows up out of nowhere with thirteen Dwarves, including the rightful king Thorin, and asks Bilbo to be the burglar of the company in their quest to the Lonely Mountain where the great Dragon Smaug has kept hold of the treasures that belong to the Dwarves; and Bilbo agrees to go to his own surprise. Well, you begin in the Shire all right but now you must make your way through the most perilous lands of Middle-earth. Oh yes, be it the Misty Mountains or Mirkwood, you've got to get through it, mate! And before the end you will have crossed 11 different levels.

Throughout the game you will have the feeling of being the underdog and, really, about three feet of hobbit isn't exactly 'hero material'. And here is that awesome thing about this unlikely hero trying to justify his inclusion in the company and to gain the respect of his more powerful companions. But hobbits are tougher than they look and you'll find out exactly that as Bilbo tries to battle his way out against the deadliest of foes ranging from wolves and goblins to gigantic spiders! Of course, he will be getting the help of the famous elven-sword called Sting and of the magical Ring (guess which) that makes its wearer invisible! (And you thought the cloak was cool. Yeah, if 'The Hobbit' was stolen from a refrigerator, maybe!) Anyway, the sword will give you light in the darkest of places to help you find the way and you will have to pick up skills as you pass levels to help you wield it better causing more damage. You can slip in the Ring to sneak past enemies that you'd rather avoid. It kind of gives you the feeling of a spy-game. But you'll have enough adventures before you can acquire these, and until that you'll have to stick to the good old hobbit-ways like stone throwing. But mostly you'll have to use your brain and find the right strategy to beat the sometimes overwhelming amount of enemies and to solve the tricky puzzles. The game sticks to the original story but with a few additions and reductions. What you can do in the game is, as the makers put it: Explore Middle-earth (Battle and adventure through Tolkien's breathtaking world), Engage in hair-raising combat (Combine attacks using weapons like the legendary sword, Sting), Wield the power of the Ring (Use the Ring to become invisible and sneak past enemies), Encounter legendary characters (Meet legendary characters, including Gandalf and Smaug) etc. The game goes deep enough into the Middle-earth culture to even let the knowledge on 'runes' help you.

The graphics of the game aren't exactly the best in the market, but it's pretty good. I mean, it's no easy job trying to recreate a landscape so diverse and so big. They've done a good job with the hobbit-country. Details go as far as falling leaves and fishes in the water. I'm not being poetic, dudes: that's how it is. The Lake-town left me staring. I actually went running around simply looking at it, forgetting the objectives! The character details have a nice cartoonic edge about them, which is quite appropriate. Much attention has been given to the little but important facts, like elven-blades glowing with a dim light. In-game movies are pretty motivating and polished. The audio is good enough, although the background music can be repetitive. But you have no idea how glad I was to see that there isn't one single character with an American accent. Big relief! Voice talents are, well, character-perfect, especially that of Bilbo and Gandalf.

I never thought I'd be a critic doing a review, but I have no problem in doing this one, being something of a Ringwraith (honestly, I used to be 'Isilhir')! So I'll go as far as star-rating it. Forget any other ratings, this how I, Shuvom, rate it: Four stars solid! Well you can't expect me to give it five! I didn't make it! And anyway, I think gamers might find some of the quests frustratingly difficult and confusing, even boring sometimes. There could have been much more for strategy-lovers, as well. The camera moves to weird positions at times and it might make you wish that the keyboard didn't hurt you when you hit it. Having said that, the game overall is pretty complete and has almost everything, even though it is of action/adventure genre. You can actually have the feeling of playing GTA or Mafia being a hit-hobbit (!). It's pretty funny, really.

Anyone who has read the book and liked it will find the game to be quite enjoyable. Probably more so than the ones that haven't read it. But you can't expect a better storyline and gamers will feel like playing out a movie. So pick up your keyboard and embark on a journey that is to change the fate of Middle-earth forever!


By Niloy

aThe election-war in the US is becoming tenser. And Bush is dramatically catching up with Kerry. Americans are wholly ignoring the plight Bush brought them and are focusing on whether Kerry will be "up to the task". Almost the whole world is against Bush now, but still Americans are thinking that he is the "tough" man for the job. Oh yeah, he is a tough man. Not everyone can invade a country without even some lame excuses.

A man with below-average level of intelligence… whatever… you've heard enough of these already.

I just never thought that I would live to see the smouldering ruins of the earth.

On the brighter side, the best game developed by the human species was released on October 26 (the day before yesterday). Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has been released at last! Although we PC gamers in Bangladesh won't be able to play it until May 2005, for the lucky PS2 owners, it's total paradise. I personally don't own a PS2, but by the time you will be reading this, I will be playing the great game and will be working on the review. Mind you, it won't be a full review… because it's simply impossible to fully review something so awesomely huge… There are fourteen cities in it for God's sake!

Rockstar Games also released Grand Theft Auto Advance for the Gameboy Advance on October 25. Although GTA Advance isn't as grand as the GTA: SA, it's still a superb game. In the GBA, this game has 2D top-down graphics like GTA 2, and mind you, GTA 2 wasn't a bad game. The city is thrice as large as Liberty City and has everything and more from GTA 3. This game can be considered as something of a consolation for the PC gamers, because although we'll be missing the good stuff, the GBA Advance is good enough to keep us busy until we can play the big thing itself! I'll review it after right after I review San Andreas.

And as for the Anime fans, I'm sorry, but you failed to prove that Anime aren't cartoons. Yes, Anime is different, catered mainly towards adults, usually has complex plots, and the art style is way Japanese! But that doesn't mean that they aren't cartoons. Nevertheless, thanks for your mails.

The price of deception
By August, one thousand Americans have died in the Iraq War. And they didn't die for a justifiable reason. This flash animation is a tribute to them. 2.5 MB

I hear there're rumours on the... the internets.
The word "internet" is a single noun. George W. Bush, the most powerful man on earth, needs to know that.

The Dream of Flight
From biblical tales of Elijah's fiery chariot in the sky to the Greek legend of Daedalus and Icarus, plus countless winged angels and flying carpets, humans have imagined themselves soaring through the air like birds. The timeline of flight starts with kites, invented by the Chinese around 1,000 B.C.E., and takes off past Leonardo da Vinci's flying machines in the Renaissance. But it wasn't until the Wrights that the dream really got off the ground.

Put your tray tables up, return your seat backs to their upright and locked position, and prepare for a celebration of the anniversary of human flight.

The Vampire Cult Magazine
A site for the vampire fans, phobics and maniacs. The site also doubles as a magazine.

Nice snowboarding game
Skate downhill and go past stunt-gates while avoiding the obstacles.

WHOA! Drive yourself nuts!
Screen full of tiny little people running like mad! Pretty useless, unless you want drive yourself crazy.
Lot's of things were discussed in this issue. If you need to contact me for anything, email me at niloy.me@gmail.com


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