Review by Shampad Mutakabbir Rahmatullah
IN 1997, one of the largest Japanese game developers and publishers in the world, Square-Enix [then simply SquareSoft Inc], released on the Playstation [and later PC] a highly anticipated sequel to their longest running and most loved game series: Final Fantasy. It was the 7th installment to the series and was aptly named FINAL FANTASY VII [from here on to be referred to as FF7].
ADVENT CHILDREN: A BRIEF HISTORY
It seems that after the commercial and critical failure of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within [the FF movie we all love to hate], Square-Enix decided to develop a new CGI movie based on its highly loved FF7 world. Of course, it soon seemed as if we might never really see the movie in the first place; it started out as a 20 minute drama [to be released in early 2004], then due to the sudden yet strangely expected buzz caused by the media and fans alike. It grew to a 60 minute movie [to be released Fall 2004]. But now, after waiting longer than expected, on 14th September 2005, Square-Enix released the 1 and half hour [101 minutes to be exact] sequel to Final Fantasy VII, called- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
REASONS NOT TO WATCH
First of all, let's get the bad stuff out of the way. It really is not a sequel to the game per se. Trust me, as much as I hate to say this, it has to be said. It is not a sequel. I mean, if you were indeed expecting one…you were either blinded by fanboy-ism, you have not played FF7 or any other FF, or you should have changed the dosage on your medication. Think about it, you can't condense a 60+ hour game into a 1.5 hour movie. You can't even do that if it was a 3 hour movie.
The story itself is satisfactory; it feels like the end of FF7 according to Cloud [as Dirge of Cerberus, the action game based on FF7 has Vincent as the main character and is soon to be released] and it sports an almost perfect blend of melancholy and happiness which FF7 so rightly deserves. I won't say anything about the story except this: blink once and its over. That is, the story moves at such a breakneck pace that some might even have to re-watch the whole movie in order to fully take it in. Also, it is not an epic storyline.
THE EYE CANDY
Now on to the good stuff. The most blaringly obvious thing to mention first is of course, the most eye-catching; the visuals. Square-Enix has always been on the forefront of the CGI department and this movie does once again with it's visuals what the first FF movie did for us about 4 years ago; amaze, perplex and just downright floor us with its beauty and sophistication. Although the hair-styles and facial details are intentionally kept cartoon-like, the facial expressions and animations themselves are nothing short of subtle greatness.
Remember when you watched the Matrix movies and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and the numerous other action flicks like Spiderman, and thought to yourself that action just couldn't get any better? Well, I promise you, after you watch this movie; the action in those movies will seem like Barney dancing with the Teletubbies. The action is fast-paced, beautifully detailed and the greatest piece of heart-pumping action you will see in the next 5 years…or until the next FF movie, whichever comes with Square-Enix as developer.
I do not know how a schoolgirl giggles when on LSD, I can only imagine it was similar to the way I was laughing. The pure adrenaline rush of the whole movie simply grabbed my throat and did not let go until it wanted to let go, that is, until the credits were long gone and darkness stared into my very soul. And that, my friends, is why we watch movies in the first place.
As any FF fan knows, the music of an FF game is one of the greatest pieces of sound they will ever hear anywhere…much less a video game. So it is no wonder that Nobuo Uematsu has delivered once again some of his all time greatest compositions.
The voices too were top-notch. Although the first time most of us are hearing the characters from FF7, the voices seem to fit each of them like a latex glove. Granted I did watch a subbed version of the original Japanese version [what other way is there?], the voices seemed natural and expertly delivered.
[OR- ENOUGH DETAILS, JUST TELL ME, YAY OR NAY?]
In the context of the above headline, my answer would have to be a loud, adrenaline-pumped, sword-swinging and overall resounding 'YAY'. Very few movies have ever moved me so emotionally and completely in the way that Advent Children has, and so it gets my highest rating. Admittedly, my sentiments could be marred due to the fact that I am one of Final Fantasy's, not to even mention Final Fantasy VII's biggest fans, but I believe that a movie experience like this has not been experienced by me in many years, if ever.
The Watson Brothers Visited
By Shamma M Raghib
THe Watson Brothers have given a new dimension to Underground Music in Bangladesh. Their unique tune, combined with the creative band members, have presented us with great numbers like 'Jhor' and 'Rong' in their debut album
'OHOM'. Formed in 1999, the band took its new look recently with the addition of Jon (of Black)! We at the RS got a chance to have a tête-à-tête with the band members recently. Do not be fooled by the band's seriousness (!) Here's the whole excerpt:
RS: The Watson Brothers have a pretty neat website http:///www.thewatsonbrothers.com, where their history of formation is pretty much detailed out. But for those who are still unfamiliar, would you please give us a brief history of the band?
TWB: Well, first it basically started out as a joke in 1999. Before that, we had a band called The Attempted Band. Around 2000, we formed The Watson Brothers… umm…then in 2001, Arafat left for studies abroad. At that time, Imran and Farhan were the songwriters. On 2002, we recorded our major album 'Ohom'. The vocal addition by Shakib was completed on 2003, after which we released the album. Hmm…around 2005 we played in quite a few concerts. That is pretty much it!
RS: Whoa! That's literally history in numbers! You played in quite a few concerts before July 21 this year, why is the band keeping a low profile now?
TWB: No time! (Hehe)…well, basically, we all are busy with our occupation. But if any organizers give us a knock we would be happy to get on stage!
RS: How did you guys 'gel' together?
Arafat: Gel!? Haha! Basically we all had a huge crush on Farhan!
Farhan: Hehee…yeah, that, as well as Imran and me were studying in IUB. Tokhon Watson Brothers mathae chilo nah. We decided to jam together just for fun, then we just clicked totally! Arafat got with us again and we later requested Shakib bhai to rejoin the band. Finally the band was totally reformed at the end of 2001.
RS: Can we expect any new album from you guys soon? What about any English albums?
Imran: Err… basically we are working on an album now, but it won't come out before next year and no, we are not planning on any English albums soon.
RS: Okay some quick facts: Who are your musical influences? Which venue do you love performing the most?
Shakib- Iron Maiden & U2, Judas Priest
Arafat- The Police, Primus, Queen, Black Sabbath, Buddy Rich and The Beatles
Imran- R.E.M, The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Simon & Garfunkel, and Pink Floyd.
Farhan- Tool, The Police, Pink Floyd, Sound Garden and other bands of the Grunge Era (Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and more)
Jon- Creed and Radiohead
TWB: About the venue, STM hall was by far the best!
RS: So tell me how your musical influences changed since the band was first formed in 1999? You guys have quite a diverse musical influence. Didn't it affect the band's music in any way? Did it create any problems?
TWB: Musical influence generally improved, we guess. Yes, we do have a very different musical taste, but somehow it made the band's unique sound that you now hear. We all got along well…and the band member's diverse influences basically enriched our music!
RS: Be honest…who is the most reluctant/lazy/laid-back (you get the picture) band member?
TWB: Lazykins? (The whole band looks and points towards Arafat!)
Arafat: Hey come on!
RS: What about Mr. Serious?
Arafat: Guess that is Farhan and Imran.
Farhan, Imran, Jon (smirking): Everyone except for Arafat's serious! (Hah!)
RS: Farhan is also a member of Cryptic Fate, what about the other members, are they involved in any other projects other than TWB?
Arafat: I have a side project with Sumon bhai and Shishir called Side Project.
RS: Do you think The Watson Brothers are getting the response they deserve?
TWB (sigh): No pun intended but do you see a Grammy ashey pashey (with teeth wide open)?
RS :(To Arafat and Imran): You guys were abroad right? Did the foreign listeners get a chance to hear The Watson Brothers songs? What were their reactions? Are there any foreign shows you guys are going to perform in the near future?
Arafat: Well the songs were very well received. We aired the songs on Boston University radio quite a few times and the response was awesome! However, the Bangla lyrics were criticised at some points (mostly because nobody knows Bangla there). We still get fan mails almost each week, saying how much they like our songs. Once we got this huge mail from the drummer of Lakkhicchara, a popular band in Kolkata, he really appreciated our efforts! And we loved his band too! Vinny Appice, Dio and Black Sabbath's old drummer, actually wrote to us. So yes, that was a boost.
Imran: Black and we are probably going to perform in Kathmandu in the near future.
RS: So are you guys back for good or going to fly away to 'bidesh' again?
Arafat and Imran: Nope we are not going to 'bidesh'! We are here for at least two and half more years. Then we all have to go and finish our Masters.
RS: How do u guys see The Watson Brothers five years from now?
TWB: Five years from now…the band would probably be dissolved! We would get married; have Watson kids (!), Watson sister-in-laws, Watson nati-putis and Watson in-laws. There would be Watson Platinum and Gold CDs (remakes of our own albums) and we would be old and haggard.
RS: What was the band's biggest achievement so far?
TWB: (In chorus) OHOM!
RS: Finally, do you guys have any message for your fans and our readers?
TWB: Buy our album!!! Hehe! Okay seriously, enjoy what you listen to. Keep an open mind about music. Do not just say, 'Ami omuk band shuni boley amar aar kichu shuna lagbey nah'! And of course …please, please, please buy our album!
Dear readers, for those of you who would like to spend your valuable time online, waste it on the hilarious history of Watson Brothers written online by TWB's very own Arafat!
Tim Burton's Corpes Bride
"TIm Burton's Corpse Bride" sounds like a gruesomely horror story but it turns out quite the contrary. Also its brilliantly made considering its stop motion animation. For the uninitiated that means its made of puppets being painstakingly moved for ech shot to create a smooth flowing scene. It looks great here.
The story is about the clash of the two worlds of the living and the dead. The world of the living is a drab and overcast place with hardly any colour. Almost everything is comprised of a spectrum of grey with the greens and violets adding the somber mood. The world of the dead, on the other hand, is a nightclub combined with tropical beach warmth. Oddly curious isn't it?
The story deals with Victor who is voiced by Johnny Depp and as current trends go, also looks like Depp. Victor's family is newly rich and he is about to be married to Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson) whose parents are so rich in heritage that all their actual richness has disappeared. Yes, they are poor aristocrats. It's a swell stroke providing Victoria's family with money and Victors with class. Victor and Victoria have never met but when they're finally introduced, they're surprised to find that, despite everything, they love each other.
So far everything sounds rosy despite the lack of colour. Here's where things take a turn for the worse, dead worse. Victor is so shy he cannot utter his vows so he heads off to the overgrown graveyard outside the church to practice. Repeating the words to memorize them, he places the wedding ring on a twig that is not a twig but the desiccated finger of Emily, the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter), whose arm is reaching up from the grave.
She was murdered on her wedding day. This marriage, according to the rules of the netherworld, is a legitimate one. Soon Victor is at a wedding celebration where jolly skeletons sing and dance. He even meets his dog Scraps who died when he was a child. Of course, the dog is appropriately 'scraps' now as it is all bones. That solves the problem of shedding fur.
The movie makes Emily a figure of sympathy, not horror. She lost her own chance at happiness when she was murdered and now wants another chance at happiness. She's also rather sexy despite the few places where her bone is showing.
In the living world poor Victoria is about to be married off by her heartless parents to a Victorian villain Barkis Bittern (Richard E. Grant). She deserves better. It's not her fault that Victor got married to a corpse and neither is it Victors or Emily's for that matter. Unfortunately three young people are unhappy when two of them should be together.
It's a weird love triangle that plays out marvelously. Indeed, in the magnificently creepy "Corpse Bride" death teems with life, humor and bone-rattling musical numbers.
The movie is brilliantly shot with the colours popping on screen every now and then as often as Emily's eye pops out of its socket. What's amazing is that Burton has been able to give so much life and expression into inanimate objects. In the end it's a hilarious creation.
I'm starting new sections in Sites Unseen. In one of them, I'll feature some of the (good) requests you send me. And in the other one, I'll let you choose which game I'll review/feature next. The reason? I just think it would be cool. Skip to the bottom if you're interested.
Maddox hates Idaho
Maddox hates the US state of Idaho and wants to have it given back to Britain. Certainly not one of Maddox's “awesome kick ass storeys”, but like all of Maddox's articles it's still a good read.
Google Never Lies
This one doesn't have a link. It's just a fun little thing to check out. Go to Google.com, type “miserable failure” in the search box and click on the “I'm feeling lucky” button. Look where it takes you! Also try “incompetent” and “failure”.
We aren't as good as we think we are!
No, it's not about us RS folks finally realising the shocking truth. It's about the whole humanity in general. Check it out, it's an interesting read. Thanks to Rajiv for pointing me to this link.
Le Chupacabra's Blog
Eminent RS writer, game reviewer and anime critic Le Chupacabra has now graced the web with his new blog titled “The Lunacies of Le Chupacabra.” Okay now, jokes aside, Le Chupacabra is really a great writer and I'd say he's a much better writer than me (although that's not much of a praise, me being merely mediocre). Anyway, Chupacabra's blog is actually a blog, plus a place for putting up all his articles and his own commentary on them. It's a nice read and if you like his writing, you should check it out.
Check out the world in several hundred different ways.
In Ringmania, the object of the game is to clear the play field of all rings by connecting three or more rings of the same colour to make them "explode." The game includes an impressive physics implementation, as the rings have a simulated magnetized state that causes them to stick to other rings and objects. Use the left and right arrow keys to rotate the wheel, press space to temporarily increase the speed at which the rings fall. The centre of the wheel previews the next two rings that will fall. Look for the small arrow along the edge of the rim to know from where the next ring will fall. The game is over when any of the rings touches the outer rim, which closes-in gradually as time passes within each level. Click.
A very cool illusion
Ok, this is really an illusion, and a cool one at that. I promise nothing will jump out and attempt to scare you. Not even an iguana.
Funny REAL letters sent to God by little boys and girls. All of them in one big 288 kb jpg file.
New: Requests section
What is this, you say? A section? Probably you didn't even notice it properly. For those who did, and wondering what this is, it's going to be a section in Sites Unseen where I'll answer to the requests you readers send to me. So continue sending in your requests, and as long they aren't stupid and rn't typed liek dis, it'll have a strong chance of being featured here. Also, don't ask for pirated stuff either. That's illegal.
What game should I review next?
Now that I'm thinking of reviewing games again, I thought it would be cool to let you readers decide what games you get read reviews about. Well, unless you prefer to just go Gamespot or IGN and read the reviews from there. Anyway, choose from these and let me know.
1. Age of Empires 3
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
3. Civilization 4
4. GTA: Liberty City Stories (This one is for the PSP and as I don't have one I won't be able to review it. It'd be more like a feature, focusing on what's in the game and what the gamers around the world think about the game. Basically, it'll be: “Look. Here's what we're missing.”
That's it for this week. All the links are available at niloywrites. Blogspot.com so that you can easily visit the sites just by clicking the links. You can also log on to my site BDcomics.blogspot.com if you're into comics, or check out my photography at flickr.com/photos/niloy/. You can contact me for whatever reasons at email@example.com