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The Island

Review By Gokhra

“The Island" is a double feature. It runs the full gamut of 136 minutes which isn't so bad when actually. The first half is a spare, creepy science fiction parable, and then it shifts into a high-tech action picture.

The first half takes place in a sterile futuristic environment where the inhabitants are of two type. There are the ones wearing identical white suits who are the citizens and then there are the black suited supervisors. Hmm, something about the black suits spell evil. The citizens believe that the supervisors are keeping them in this sealed world to protect them from pollution that has poisoned the Earth. Movies have a grand time putting the earth into all kinds of unrecoverable disasters. But what the heck, we are headed that way anyway. So let's enjoy a few good movies along the way.

So back to our plot. The controlled environment that they live in is equipped with big-screen TVs that spew out slogans all day as well as numerous instructions. In this polluted earth there is one remaining "pathogen-free zone" where everybody can still enjoy the sun and run on beaches drinking weird cola and never having to get fat. Sounds like Utopia. So how do they get there? Remember the big TVs? About twice a day everybody gathers before these big TVs for The Lottery. Those who win get to leave the protective environment and head for the last bit of paradise.

But those who leave never come back. Of course, who would ever want to come back? But doesn't it all seem a bit too sinister? It would make you or I or any Bangladeshi to think of what's the catch. But these citizens aren't like us cynical Bangladeshis. These people in white suits don't think very deeply cause they're educated to the level of 15-year-olds. Some would say that's pretty smart but these teen brained adults read from silly children's books. It seems in the future world education has continued to degrade.

The true nature of this sealed world is not terrifically hard to guess. The inhabitants are mostly childlike and blissful, all except for a few troublesome characters like Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor), who wants bacon for breakfast but is given oatmeal. This inspires him to develop what all closed systems fear, a curiosity. "Why is Tuesday night always tofu night?" he asks his supervisor. "What is tofu? Why can't I have bacon? Why is everything white?" Then one day he sees a flying bug, where no bug should be, or fly.

That's what kids do when they start asking questions and suddenly figure out how to get the car started and take it out for a spin only to crash into the nearest tree. Yep, curiosity can kill the car.

In a similar vein Lincoln Six Echo and the equally naive but superbly hot Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) escape from the sealed world. What ensues is a exhausting chase by train, plane, automobile, helicopter and hover-cycle in a series of special effects sequences that develop a breathless urgency. It's a wonder that despite the fact that they were thought to be such slow witted people they actually managed to figure out the sinister plan while constantly on the move. As Yogi bear would say, they are smarter than the average black suited villains.

So what's the big sinister plan? Well, you should really watch the movie to find that out but it does become a bit obvious after a while. The makers tried to make it a suspense thriller but in the end it's more of a long, long chase with a bit of a high tech twist to the goings-on.

"The Island" has brilliant special effects most of which will end up losing the effect when translated to small screen through pirated video. The real thing is still not available. But the effects are spectacular. There's little ladybug-like robots that crawl up your face and into your eye sockets, and transmit information from your brain before working their way through your plumbing and being expelled like kidney stones. A bit creepy but heck it's cool. I wish I had something like that to use on my teachers in school so that I always knew what questions they came up with.

McGregor and Johansson do a good job of playing characters raised to be docile, obedient and not very bright. The way they have knowledge gradually thrust upon them is carefully modulated so that we can see them losing their illusions. Michael Clarke Duncan has only three or four scenes, but they're of central importance, and he brings true horror to them. Sean Bean has the Sean Bean role, as a smug corporate monster.

McCord (Steve Buscemi) is an engineer, or maybe a janitor, and lives in what must be the boiler room. You see in all movies there has to be someone in the base level who knows everything or has all the keys. While the surface has super squeaky clean floors there is always a basement full of rusty machinery, oily rags and a guy who knows how everything really works. The Buscemi character turns out to be surprisingly well-informed and helpful. Thank goodness for him because if it was left up to characters educated only to the level of 15-year-olds.

It's a smooth and slickly edited action flick with touches of humour and a bit of mystery that evaporates pretty soon. Sounds like a commercial formula which in this case works very well indeed. It's a definite fun movie.


STRINGS

By Shamma M. Raghib

FAISAL KAPADIA
Born in a family of businessmen, I always used music as a tool to escape the Monotony of numbers. When I was younger, music never came naturally to me but I forever dreamed of being in a band. I knew what I wanted and I was determined to make it happen. I met Bilal and Strings was formed... I gave up everything for my music...thank god I made the right decision. Today with every song we make - I
get one step closer to making my dream a reality. It's so important to know what you want from life.
BILAL MAQSOOD
I never thought I'd take up music as my sole profession... With the rebirth of Strings, music takes up most of my time.
My wife hates me for it - but I love her for her patience - it's definitely not easy to play guitar with three kids on your back! But given a choice, I wouldn't have it any other way.

If you have visited Indian Cinemas playing "THE SPIDERMAN" in Hindi, you are bound to hear the opening sound track of the movie by Strings. Sony Pictures used their latest song, 'Najanay Kyun' from their album 'Dhaani'. The film's soundtrack was released worldwide July 7, 2004. Their 13-year journey in the music world boasts of several milestones. Hit singles like "Sar Ki Yeh Pahaar" and "Duur" not only created commercial history but also set standards for the pop/rock industry in general. Their latest album Dhani, was released in India, and the fan following turned out to be huge. Thanks to the satellite Television, they have a good number of Bengali fan followings as well.

Strings originally started off as a four-member band. They now consist of vocalist Faisal Kapadia and guitarist Bilal Masqood.

When Strings released 'Sar kiye yeh pahaar' in 1992, they got a tremendous response in the whole of Asia, including India. After three years of finishing up with studies, they thought of compiling another album.

Strings say, "Durr in the title track of our album, which Bilal composed and I provided the vocals. In our eight-year sabbatical, we were doing music, but not professionally. In fact, Durr originated during our telephonic discussions. It became our reference point."

When asked whether they could create the same impact like other Pakistani singers, they replied, "We are lucky that we are now in the league of great Pakistani singers like Nusrat Saab, Nazia Hassan, Ali Haider and Adnan Sami. We are determined to keep the tradition of music alive. All we can say is that we have confidence in our product and the overall packaging to appeal to appeal to audiences worldwide."

Apart from South Asia, Kapadia and Bilal have also earned a name in Britain, North America and the Middle East.

"Dhaani' is our title song, for the latest album," says Kapadia. "It means light green colour, which symbolises freshness as we believe the album has a very fresh sound," Bilal added.

Sony Music managing director Shridhar Subramaniam said: "We are very proud and pleased to release the latest Strings offering -- 'Dhaani'. I personally am a great fan of the band and their music. Their sound is refreshing and unique. The band has a very strong and loyal fan base and we are committed to expand that by aggressively promoting them in India."

One aspect that sets the album Dhani apart from the band's earlier four is being described as a journey that takes one from ethnic Indian sounds to the world of funk, jazz and rock -- the eclectic blend being another Strings signature.

After Junoon and Jal, strings is definitely worth mentioning as someone who not only attracted a large base of fans at home, but also captured the attention of the whole of South Asia by their foot-tapping music. You can check out their songs at www.stringsonline.net. Till then, adios!


A Ps2 Game Review

Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner

By Le Chupacabra

Loved mecha anime but was saddened by the fact that god-knows-how-many-feet-tall-robots-of-mass-destruction don't exist? Don't worry. Help is only a phone call and a strait-jacket away. However, if you insist on wanting to control a mech armed with all manner of energy swords, searing laser beams and giant phallic missiles, then say hello to Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner.

A sequel to the technically brilliant yet flawed Z.O.E. (let's just call it that for short, eh…typing out the full thing is a pain), The 2nd Runner is everything the first game should have been…and more!

You play as Dingo Egret, an ice miner on the moon of Callisto. A routine cleaning operation goes awry as the militaristic BAHRAM faction attack the peaceful community of Callisto and in a twist of fate, you find yourself in control of Jehuty an Orbital Frame of great power. Soon, Earth and all its space colonies are under threat of annihilation as the BAHRAM leader, Nohman, puts aside any and all political pretense and declares open war. So it's up to you stop him (isn't it always?).

The wonderfully paced story is greatly complemented by a mixture of hand-drawn anime cutscenes and in-game cinematics. This isn't your average hero-saves-the-world-and-beds-damsel story either! It's full of unexpected twists and surprising revelations and awesome characters that will have you completely engrossed. As anime, Z.O.E. 2 is simply brilliant in its own right! The voice acting is so good that this is one of the few times you won't miss the Japanese dubs at all! The banter between Dingo and the female runner Ken Marinaris presents some equally funny and serious moments and are some of the many highlights of this game.

The music is just purely and simply incredible. The main theme song 'Beyond the Bounds' is such a great track that's it worth downloading and making it a mainstay in your mp3 playlist. From the majestic intro theme of Nohman's Orbital Frame, Anubis to the techno beats of the airship battle; the soundtrack perfectly integrates itself into the whole playing experience and really makes the game superbly enjoyable.

Z.O.E. 2 manages to look even better than it sounds and man, does it look awesome! It's worth buying this for the graphics alone! At any given instant your screen will be filled with a plethora of special effects ranging from searing hot lasers to plumes of black smoke to hundreds of flashing lights to awe-inspiring explosions and more! Jehuty seamlessly switches from energy-sword combos to its multi-laser attacks in a way that can only be described as pure poetry in motion. The mechs are luxuriously detailed and there's a certain sleekness to them that sets the style of Z.O.E apart from other games and anime. Some of the levels look so amazing that you may get caught up in just staring at the awesome design and munificent details. The Orbital Frames have these energy lines that flow throughout the body and those really give them a remarkably distinct look. The colour of these energy lines even indicates the health level of the Frame! There are a lot of little touches like this that really make the world of Z.O.E. come alive.

Z.O.E. 2 is one of the few games that manage full 3D freedom with aplomb. You can dash about in any direction with Jehuty as you deliver death by laser to your foes. Your energy sword combos can be mixed with dash attacks, downward slams, rising slashes and burst attacks. When dashing, you can aim for multiple enemies and then let loose with a barrage of homing lasers. The combination of these moves and Jehuty's super fast motion results in your screen exploding with adrenaline-pumped scenes of utter destruction. Each battle gives you this genuine rush that'll have you yearning for more. You can even use Sub-Weapons that have various effects and really spice up your fighting style. The Grab move is extremely useful as you will soon find out! Geyser lets you immobilize an enemy while the insanely powerful Vector Cannon can eradicate anything. The fourteen sub-weapons you get throughout the game also allow the judicious use of strategy, and trust me, you'll need to at times! The boss fights are pretty darn incredible. Each one is completely unique and really presents challenges that you'll thoroughly relish. The game kept throwing these bosses in my direction with relentless regularity and I loved that.

Z.O.E 2: The 2nd Runner is one of the most superbly thrilling action titles to come along in quite a while. If you like anime and videogames, then this game is truly a gift from Heaven! Even if you don't, it's still bloody enjoyable!

Comments, suggestions, flames and hate mail can all be directed to: baka.ero.sennin@gmail.com

 

 
 

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