The Polar Express
One of the greatest “WOW” experience for us in this
world of films
Ahmed Ashiful Haque
Polar Express" pulls into movie theatres just in time for the
festive holiday season… and for a lift to the human spirit. The film
is a complete treat; with stunning animation that flawlessly echoes
gorgeous drawings, five distinct performances from Academy Award-winning
Tom Hanks, and imaginative direction by Robert Zemeckis, the experience
is not only topical in multiple ways (some of them buried deep within
its theming)… it's also an absolute delight.
The Polar Express,
an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children's book by When
a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North
Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that
the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.
on Chris Van Allsburg's best-selling 29-page novel about a boy's waning
faith in Santa Claus and his inspirational journey to the North Pole,
"Polar Express" is the first computer-generated film based
on the performances of humans. But the film is not sheer wizardry;
it also has heart. The story a popular one of a Hero Boy, who is roused
one Christmas Eve to board a train that will take him to the North
Pole on a journey of self-discovery. While seeing is believing, Hero
Boy learns that the things that are most real in the world are those
we cannot see.
In most cases,
there is nothing at all magical about the process of filmmaking. But
there is certain magic in "The Polar Express." It was rendered
by computers that emulated human performances through a unique process
wherein Hanks and other cast members were "captured" as
they enacted the story in studio…but it may be the first film where
organic creativity was largely unhampered by the limitations of the
technology. The animation is almost spooky in its realism; at times
you will completely forget the movie is imagined, not filmed.
train contains a diverse mix of traveling kids. Most enchanting are
the confident and tender Hero Girl and the Know-It-All Boy, that thick-headed
brain we all remember from our school days. One-man acting band Hanks
is wonderfully skillful as both the doubting Hero Boy as well as a
comic hoot as the punctilious train conductor. Hanks also does solid
turns as the Boy's Father, the Hobo and Santa. "Polar Express"
is a runaway thrill when the train cascades, roller coaster-like through
cavernous peaks and whips the line across icy lakes.
Beloved by children,
The Polar Express holds a special appeal for adults as well, who see
themselves in the character of the young boy and remember their own
childhood excitement and anticipation on that one most important night
of the year. Perhaps they also remember the moment when the first
shadowy doubts crept into their own young hearts and they realized
that growing up might mean losing something precious and intangible
forever, something they couldn't quite define but they could certainly
in the story of "The Polar Express", beneath the adventures
in the ice and snow, you'll find adventures of the heart. They're
the adventures of snowmen turned to flesh and reindeer disliked because
their noses glow. And before you refer their tales to a forgotten
time or to a person you were long ago you might want to give yourself
one more ride on the train.
of Honour: Pacific Assult
the title suggests you're now in the Pacific Theatre, fighting the
formidable Japanese. If only they hadn't attacked Pearl Harbour now
you have to go with your fellow Marines on a long and tiresome session.
The path isn't easy and only the strong-willed will survive the perilous
journey that spans across several large-scale Pacific Island environments
The action is
a bit more intense than previous instalments of the franchise. The
overall feeling is a bit different as the surrounding environments
are typically composed of lush jungle-like landscapes that can both
make enemies harder to spot and allow you to hide almost as easily.
The game moves
in a very linear fashion with regards to the way the levels are unveiled,
leaving no real player decisions that fully affect varying outcomes.
This is typical of MOH games by now and not really a bad thing, but
I was hoping to have a greater "out-of-the-box" feeling
within the game. Advancing is rather linear as well for example, if
you leave your squad you'll die very quickly so, in a way, the game
forces the player to stick with their squad.
though there are some squad commands you can toggle, the overall feeling
of fighting alone is rather persistent as I found the AI while not
entirely scripted to be pretty easy to take down. Many times throughout
the game I found myself just running right up to the bad-guys and
doing melee attacks as I grew tired of waiting on the rest of the
squad to take the initiative.
On more difficult
modes, the game is definitely harder but we still didn't witness the
strong AI we were hoping for. We never saw them really tag-team the
squad there were scripted flanks from time to time but the overall
feeling was that the enemy had primarily predictable responses.
missions are tied together through cut-scenes which are largely comprised
of old WWII video footage with nice voice-overs. Level design is rather
solid and helps to add to the "you are there" feeling we
experience throughout much of the game. Our chief complaint with it,
however, is that it doesn't vary enough as most of the time you'll
find yourself just running with the squad. Where it does mix things
up a bit is when you get the chance to fly a plane, shoot tanks with
a huge canon and mount some of the high-powered guns on the boats.
entire Medal of Honour franchise has built a reputation for having
theatrical emotion to them, and the music in this game underscores
that emotion. In fact, we haven't heard more moving music in a game
before. EA hired a real orchestra to play the songs and the results
are very well done and help fit the sombre mood most of the missions
you go on.
Enemy AI was actually
fairly good. They're good at finding cover, taking advantage of the
terrain to flank you, and generally making your life a misery. Once
they've come to the end of their tolerance of you, they'll actually
throw a little kamikaze run at you. In some cases though the AI is
too good. They have the uncanny knack to shoot you through thick brush
when there's no way you can see them, leading you to believe that
they can't see you. It's aggravating. I found myself wondering where
I was getting shot from on more than one occasion. Your squad mates
will shout out hugely helpful remarks like "He's up there!"
and "They're above us!" and "Muzzle fire!" while
you sit there sweating and cursing in your head wondering where they're
talking about and what muzzle fire they're looking at. Most of the
time, I only see the bullets after they're lodged in my pulpy body.
jungle-covered islands of the South Pacific, where much of the game
takes place, are depicted reasonably well. These sequences have a
closed-in feel -- you're usually constrained to a narrow path with
a little jungle on each side, then an impenetrable wall. The game
is linear enough without restricting movement too tightly, contributing
to the "on-rails" feel.
That's not to
say that it's all jungle fighting -- Pacific Assault's best moments
are on the move. Whether it's shooting from the back of a speeding
jeep or taking out Zeroes with a Bofors gun at a friendly airfield,
the game is filled with memorable set pieces.
half-documentary, half-entertainment approach is solid, and the game's
a thrilling, if slightly by-the-numbers WW2 shooter. Thanks to its
great set-pieces, robust presentation, and historical interest, Pacific
Assault will make another fine addition to any action-oriented wargamer's
are going to try everything. There are the movies with animation,
those that are completely animated and then there are those that have
entire scenes rendered around actual people. Somewhere down the line
there was a series called the Thunderbirds that was done entirely
with marionettes or puppets. They were showing it on Star World a
few months back in the morning hours. "Team America: World Police"
is exactly like that. The whole movie is made with puppets with uncannily
human facial expressions.
Puppet shows are
generally not considered very cool but has its highlights. Everything
here is one-third actual size with very cool looking props and special
effects. Team America: World Police Parker is an action spoof that
doesn't have a plan for who they want to offend, only an intention
to be as offensive as possible.
The plot: Team
America has all the hero type arsenal of rockets, jets and helicopters
inside Mount Rushmore, which is hollow. They set off to fight terrorism
wherever it is suspected (proof isn't necessary). In the beginning
of the movie, we see turban-wearing terrorists trying to sell a blinking
briefcase in Paris. These terrorists are principally Arab and speak
The clueless crime-fighting
Team America comes in to stop the sale of this weapon of mass destruction
(the briefcase). In the process, they shoot at a lot of villainous
villains but mostly miss and destroy important landmarks. When a terrorist
thinks the Louver is a sacred place to hide, he, the Mona Lisa and
the museum are blown to smithereens. One agent misses another shot
and hits the Eiffel Tower sending it crashing onto the Arc de Triomphe.
Does he feel bad about what happened? Sure he does. He laments that
he missed the terrorist.
When the bewildered
French people chatter bewilderedly in the midst of the rubble of their
city, they are told, "Everything is bon, we stopped the terrorists!"
The next they
find out that terrorists are known to be planning to meet at "a
bar in Cairo." For the purpose the teams leader Spottswoode recruits
a Broadway actor named Gary to go undercover for them. The other four
soldiers -- a pair of cute women and two men, have mixed feelings
plan is that The Team America helicopter will land in Cairo and four
uniformed team members will escort Gary to the bar where he will go
inside and ask "whazzup!" This leads to a lot of action
and miscalculated shots leaving Pyramids and the Sphinx in rubbles.
Of course they learn following al the mayhem that the real threat
comes from North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Il who plans to unleash
"9/11 times 2,356." Hans Blix, the actual U.N. chief weapons
inspector, also turns up in puppet form to check for weapons of mass
destruction. He talks with the Korean dictator and as we all know
about WMDs these cannot be found.
America is the Film Actors' Guild with puppets representing Alec Baldwin,
Tim Robbins, Matt Damon, Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. They are there
just to be ridiculed.
Verdict: The concept
of a movie with puppets may sound odd but watch it to believe. It
is quite neat and funny in its own right. It fires off ridicule to
equally to those who wage it and those who oppose it. At times, it
is just plain silliness.
Love the guys at Google. They are ultra cool. They got an awesome
mission "to make ALL the information in the world searchable".
That's a HUGE task (all info includes printed pages, books, audio,
video and whatever we through in front of them). And, "all the
information" in the world includes stuff in your PC. So that's
what their latest innovation is about: making it easier than ever
to find stuff in your harddisks.
Desktop Search, searches all your drives for any text, MS word, Excel
or PowerPoint document. It also searches all the html pages and all
outlook emails. It even searches the content inside those documents
and files and results are given out instantly. It only works in Windows
also from the great Google. This cool piece of software makes ALL
the pictures in your computer searchable. That's very useful if you
have gigabytes after gigabytes of pictures and wallpapers. It can
also be used to edit the pictures and view slideshows. But mostly,
it's a great searching tool for pictures. www.picasa.com
James Bond's Gadgets...
The gadgets have been an integral part of every James Bond film, amazing
the audience with technology beyond its time. Find pictures and information
on your favourite gadgets in this site. The man behind it all - Quartermaster,
or better known as 'Q', head of Q Branch has provided James Bond with
gadgets and jokes in every almost James Bond film. One of the most
loved characters throughout the James Bond series, Q will never be
Average IQ of
each state and who they voted for...
Very revealing and very intriguing. It shows that states with peoples
with higher IQ levels voted for Kerry. A hoax? I have no idea. But
they say the IQ levels were calculated via the results of different
national exams. And the IQ levels were once featured in the Economist.
Not far from Arizona's Kitt Peak Observatory, on a remote high plateau
in northwestern New Mexico, the desert wind whistles through the shallow
10-mile canyon that was once home to a mysterious people. From approximately
850 to 1150 A.D., the Chacoans built a vast and well-organized stone
city, where they studied the movements of sun and stars. And then
they disappeared. Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves
the heritage of this vanished desert community and the lonesome, glowing
spirit of place that remains. Listen to G. B. Cornucopia, a veteran
park interpreter, talk about history and astronomy at Chaco; listen
to Andrew Garcia talk about dancing in the footsteps of his Pueblo
ancestors. Discover and explore petroglyphs, kivas, great houses,
solar maps, and more.
This is the official site of one of my favourite comics, Bizzaro.
There's lots to do in this site. Check out the latest comics, do the
puzzles or just find out more about the famous comics and its creator.
Scott Haefner has created a mind-blowing photography portfolio by
hanging a few thousand dollars' worth of camera equipment from a kite
line. This is a serious operation -- a remote-controlled camera housing
lets Haefner pan, zoom, and do everything put peer through the viewfinder.
The shots speak for themselves -- taken several hundred feet off the
ground, they fit somewhere between aerial and landscape photography.
Don't miss the 360 degree panoramas, which are positively vertigo-inducing.
Your talented host is also happy to share various tricks of the trade,
just in case your photographic muse urges you to defy gravity.
all for this week. If you need to contact me for anything, mail me