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Gokhra's Pick

Snakes of the celluloid world have been taken everywhere. There's the typical jungle as in Anaconda and the rest of the movies it spawned. Heck snakes moved into the city so many times in so many forgettable movies that I have lost count. But they have never been taken off the ground before and this time they go on a plane ride.

The name sounds so like a B grade movie that you keep wondering if it is worth watching at all. But then again you have an A grade actor like Samuel L. Jackson leading the show. And then there is the hype. This is a one movie that has been receiving much press coverage both online and in what passes for the real world. You wonder what the outcome will be. Either it is bad or it is terrible. Pessimism!

The plot: There is a plane. And then there are lots of snakes on the plane. Oh right, that was kind of obvious. A surfer named Sean (Nathan Phillips, acting as bad as he can) witnesses a mob rubout by Hawaiian crime lord Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson). He's taken into protective custody by FBI agent Neville Flynn (Jackson) and loaded onto plane to Los Angeles, where he's meant to testify.

And then you have some very melodramatic bad guys who do not want Sean to testify. Melodramatic because they could have simply put a bullet in him or even nabbed him and thrown him into a vat of burning green bubbling acid. See? The melodrama is quite contagious. The point is there could have been many simpler ways to off this dude who would bring the cops down on the bad guys. But that would not be half as much fun as putting snakes on a plane. Can't stop that line.

Basically the bad guys stuff the cargo hold with dozens of venomous snakes: Big ones, small ones, cobras, asps, adders as well as a massive boa constrictor. Of course how you get so many snakes past the security is a puzzle. Possibly you put them on a non iron diet so that they do not set off the metal detectors as they slither unnoticed. Well, that's movie logic for you.

The snakes are not only well, bad, but they have been dope with into a proper frenzy pheromones. Now you have snakes that are not only high in the air but also quite 'high'.

So that's quite an interesting start. Now you have three main phobias: that of flying, fear of enclosed places and fear of slithering snakes. All three are exploited ruthlessly because that's how you make such a thin plot line work so well.

The passengers aboard South Pacific Flight 121 are a colourful bunch. There's a germ phobic rap star and videogame-addict bodyguard. A lust filed couple longingly staring at the bathroom, a mom with a baby, a jerk and even a tiny dog hidden in a purse who just might get eaten. Then there are nuns and others s well as turbulence and lightning storms. You get the picture. It's one heck of a scary ride.

The verdict:
The snake attacks, when they finally come, are brutal indeed. They keep coming out of every orifice and crawl space a jumbo jet has to offer which incidentally is a lot. Even going o the toilet and unzipping without checking the bowl could be a hazardous manhood threatening experience.

As for all the critters they are expertly computer-generated critters but not enough to look so realistic as to induce genuine terror in anyone but the characters. Sharp editing and a relentless pace keep the viewers from laughing at the movie rather than with it. Yes, it is funny in a horrible way.

The dialogue is a lot of fun filled with witty one-liners. The movie won't win an Oscar for great script but it sure is entertaining. Just one tip: don't watch this movie by yourself. Big theatre would be great if anyone manages to bring it here but gathering a bunch of friends around helps. Half the fun is in the audience. It's the sheer ridiculousness of the plot that makes sit so enjoyable.

And what can I say? In every respect, Jackson is The Man delivering the performance he is best known for. Witty, direct and hugely likeable.

There are snakes, and more snakes and some more. It's not the best or even close but it definitely works.

Review Gokhra

By Avik and Mahran

There is a war that has been raging on for generations. This is the war of the machines and I am not talking about the Terminator, it's the war of the gaming machines. The next gen. is upon us and the likes of X-box 360's CPU with three cores running at 3.2GHz each with 1Mb L2 cache.

Random CPU performance measure: 9 billion dot operations per second (now that's complicated and we don't even know what that means.) will make a current gen. console look like a useless piece of junk connected with the TV. We expect great graphics and game play from the next gen. but lets not forget the great games the current gen. machine has offered us for all these years. If those games didn't exist, then nobody would even know what a controller is.

The PS2 have gifted us with great games such as Devil May Cry3 and recently of the more good-looking games such as Black. These games are great but do not have any proper storyline (that's an under-statement). But then came one of the most plotted, coolest and greatest games that came into existence. Do we really need to say it? We are talking about the one the only Metal Gear Solid-3: Snake Eater. With its stunning visuals, amazing sound, music and its mind-bending story, Snake Eater is without question one of the best titles on the PS2 and so far the best among the MGS saga and that's saying something. Snake Eater is the prequel of the entire MGS saga; anyone who has seen all the Star Wars episodes knows what we are talking about, for those who haven't seen Star Wars, what we mean is that MGS-3: Snake Eater is the story of what happened to cause the sequels. This means that Snake Eater is based in the past, during the cold war, a time when America and Russia where the bitterest of enemies. A Russian revolutionary group has kidnapped a Soviet scientist and so the U.S.A sends some help to show their good intentions (and also because if they didn't help then they would be screwed). The help sent to Russia was none other then Snake, the original Snake not Solid Snake or any of the other clones that will wreak so much havoc in the future. This is the guy you will be hearing about for generations to come, literally, this Snake is the guy who will become to be know as the legendary Big Boss.

As you play the game you will begin to see the plot spin almost out of control until the past and future finally connect and make sense. This MGS is based in the jungles of Russia. Here Snake must use for the first time, camouflage this means that the player must choose a camouflage pattern that suits the environment, Snake can also operate on himself when he gets injured. This gives you a Predator kind of feeling. Another new feature to the MGS series is that in Snake Eater you can and must no matter how disgusting, eat snakes to survive! Along with other animals like tree frogs and scorpions and many other delicious living creatures, but this is all necessary because if you do not eat then Snakes stamina will decrease which will affect his aiming, speed, recovering and strength. So, enough with the food, lets see how the action is.

Firstly this is a stealth-action game so there is a lot of stealth involved, so if you do end up in a fight you better run cause if the catch you, your dead. Secondly this is a stealth-action game so there is a lot of action, especially during the boss fights, they are just awesome. The music sets your heart racing and the action keeps the adrenalin flowing, and you will never get tired of it because all the bosses are different. With different fighting techniques different music scores and different locations. By the time you finish this great game you will see the very first metal gear, how Big Boss got his title, how the power-hungry patriots came to power and some very sweet glimpses of the future MGS games. This is a must buy for anyone with a PS2. Expect confusing storyline, strange bosses and even stranger metal gears from the next MGS4: Guns of the Patriots on the PS3.

Microsoft's X-box did not mange to make a great influence in the current gen. but has provided the gamers with some excellent graphics. An original PC title Halo was a very sharp looking game and became even sharper when the sequel was released on the X-box. Halo is without any doubt popular for its amazing graphics and the hardcore action it provides. The game has brilliantly designed set pieces and uniquely designed maps. Halo's endings so far are depressing, but that just makes you want to play even more. We are all hopping to see more of the Master Chief (Halo's main character) in Halo3 for the 360. Halo has also offered great multiplayer action and earned a place in top X-box games. Expect it to be released 07. Among other 360 titles be sure to look out for other titles such as Gears of Wars and The lost World.

The most enjoyable console available has to be Nintendo. The GBA is a very successful portable gaming machine for its simplicity and for its portability. When most gamers will spend their money for buying a PS3 or 360(mostly for showing off), remember that there is another cheaper alternative. The new Nintendo console the Nintendo revolution (now everyone calls it “Wii”) could be the next gen.'s most selling console. Well at least hope so, Nintendo's console did not spend much of their money modifying their machine with high graphics cards instead they came up with something new. The motion controller (which looks more like a TV remote control) will enable gamers to actually use a sword by moving the controller instead of an analog stick and hope to attract adult gamers to as it promises enjoyable titles (golf, tennis etc.). Nintendo may remind you of the mushroom jumping guy Mario but for more serious gamers there is Resident Evil4. You play as Leon Kennedy, one of the survivors of the Raccoon City incident. Your mission is to rescue the Presidents daughter who has been kidnapped and is some where in Europe. Ok enough plot. Come on this is Resident Evil, a game made by Capcom. All you need to know is there will be some things that need to be shot burned, stabbed, crushed and blown into the afterlife, okay that's the wrong word for this game. The game itself is huge and its new camera gives it more intense bloody action. The AI zombies are brainless (literally) but fun to shoot at and Leon's laser aiming system makes it much easier and the 20 feet tall bosses are also very challenging. Although it's supposed to be a survival action game, you will find the word horror is not the right word to use here. If you are a RE4 fan, be sure to catch the up coming RE5.

The consoles may be popular these days but let us not forget about our friendly PC. The PC has given us the finest multiplayer games of the current gen. For those of you who don't have a good graphics card, an expensive AGP and a really (Ok, really, really, really) high memory probably know them but don't have them. The current gen. PC titles like F.E.A.R., Prey and Quake4 have enough detail, graphics and jaw dropping engine to make an Xbox title look bad. Two of PC's most popular titles are Counter Strike and War Craft. These two are also the official games of WCG and is played almost at every part of the globe. These two are really fast paced games and requires true skill or a bad opponent to emerge victorious. Most gamers nowadays may be spending there money on the consoles but those of us who have had the chance to play classic old games like Mafia, Freedom Fighter (one of the best), Half life and many other knows how the PC has served us for years when we did not know what was a Play Station or a Nintendo and will continue to do so.

The war will continue. Many other great games will be born during this time but for now all we know is the guys with the deepest pocket will be able experience the next gen., PS3 will have a mighty price tag; Xbox360 games will look good but no better than leading edge PC titles. Nintendo will continue to entertain us and may be the “Wii” will one day truly spark of a revolution. Maybe the PC games and their admirers will continue to expect a steady evolution of art. The up coming PC tiles like UT2007, Rise of Legends, Spore, and Company of Heroes on the way will have enough blood, fireworks and innovation for all. We never get words as assuring as these things in a console war, but for now let's enjoy watching the war while playing the best looking games the current generation has to offer.

His vibrant image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, released by NASA August 31, 2006, shows the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy. Earthlike planets covered with deep oceans that could harbor life may be found in as many as a third of solar systems discovered outside of our own, U.S. researchers said on Thursday. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Meixner (STScI) & the SAGE Legacy Team/Handout

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Earthlike planets covered with deep oceans that could harbor life may be found in as many as a third of solar systems discovered outside of our own, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

These solar systems feature gas giants known as "Hot Jupiters," which orbit extremely close to their parent stars -- even closer than Mercury to our sun, University of Colorado researcher Sean Raymond said.

The close-orbiting gassy planets may help encourage the formations of smaller, rocky, Earthlike planets, they reported in the journal Science.

"We now think there is a new class of ocean-covered, and possibly habitable, planets in solar systems unlike our own," Raymond said in a statement.

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The team from Colorado, Penn State University and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Maryland ran computer simulations of various types of solar systems forming.

The gas giants may help rocky planets form close to the suns, and may help pull in icy bodies that deliver water to the young planets, they found.

"These gas giants cause quite a ruckus," Raymond said.

Water is key to life as humans define it.

"I think there are definitely habitable planets out there," Raymond said. "But any life on these planets could be very different from ours. There are a lot of evolutionary steps in between the formation of such planets in other systems and the presence of life forms looking back at us."

As many as 40 percent of the 200 or so known planets around other stars are Hot Jupiters, the researchers said.

Ants on Stilts

Desert ants travel long distances to find food, using celestial cues to orient themselves and find their way. Scientists knew the ants must also have a method for determining exactly how far they have marched, but until now they were uncertain of the mechanism. A new experiment has revealed that the ants measure distance with some sort of internal pedometer, based on stride length. Researchers altered the legs of a group of ants, giving some "stilts," like the Cataglyphis ant shown above with red leg extensions. Other ants received "stumps," their legs shortened by amputation. The ants on stilts had a lengthened stride and marched past their goal, whereas the stump-legged ants stopped short of their goal, suggesting that stride length indeed serves as an ant pedometer. The research is detailed in the current issue of Science.



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