Reviewed by Gokhra
Featuring the voices of:
Leonardo: James Arnold Taylor
Michelangelo: Mikey Kelley
Donatello: Mitchell Whitfield
Raphael: Nolan North
Master Splinter: Mako
April O'Neil: Sarah Michelle Gellar
Casey Jones: Chris Evans
The latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick is a very gritty and serious piece of work. That's no small matter considering it's all about crime-fighting, mutated turtles who live in the sewers of New York and are all named after master Renaissance artists.
Three centuries ago, a general opened a portal that granted him immortality, but unleashed 13 monsters on the earth. He plans to reopen the portal. Unfortunately it just might bring about the apocalypse.
The Turtles of course are in no shape to stop such menace. Splinter, their ratty sensei, has sent the turtle group leader Leonardo (blue mask and ninja swords) to Central America for self-reflection.
You know how together people are united and divided they fall? Well, the same apparently applies to turtles as well. The other three don't fare too well without their beloved leader though they desperately try.
Donatello (purple mask and stick) is the brains of the outfit. Here though he is not using much of his brains working on a tech helpline. Michelangelo (orange mask and crazy nunchaku) works as a birthday party performer called Cowabunga Carl in a frog costume. Lastly we have Raphael (red mask and sais) just acts the lone ranger patrolling the streets at night on a motorcycle, metal body suit and helmet to hide his identity from the cops. Why all the different odd jobs? Sensei banned them from fighting without Leo. Oh and did I forget April O'Neil played by the perky cynical Sarah Michelle Gellar.
That's a long introduction by review standards but there is a point. Like I said the intro was a bit long making you edgily wait for the moment when the big bro comes back to town and they do some boudacious fighting.
First and foremost it is a beautiful-looking computer animated film. Period. Whereas the live action and cartoon turtles were all beefy and brawny, these are more athletic and limbre like proper ninja turtles should be. That is if you ever met a proper ninja turtle. Some say they are scrawny but heck, they sure kick arse.
The Hong Kong-based animation studio's animated fight scenes, including a rooftop battle in the midst of a rainstorm, are both beautiful and realistic. You forget you're watching a computer-animated feature. In a film about ninja turtles, you couldn't really ask for anything more.
Storywise it is more grittier and darker than previously seen in the first three live-action entries. Also it is closely in sync with the original source material of the comic books where it was more of a spoof of other sci-fi comics.
Also, the pace at which the movie moves is grippng although the intro monologue could definitely have been shorter. The story is developed very well although two of the turtles are slightly ignored.
There are some problems with the movie such as the habit of jumps too fast form one scene to another. There are times when the fights feel disconnected from the rest of the movie. But then again, this is a movie for kids and men who want to relive the wildeyed excitement of their childhood.
So when do they start on the sequel?
By Hitoishi Chakma
Platform - PS2/ Xbox
Developer - Criterion Games
Publisher - Electronic Arts
With the launch of the Halo series on the Xbox the lack of a decent First Person Shooter (FPS) on the PS2 platform got more visible. Sony's (actually Guerilla) reply in the form of Killzone was good. But there was still some space left for gripes. What the gamers craved for was a decent shooter that would not 'occur sometime in the near future.' I mean, hearing the swishing noises of laser guns firing, or just a futuristic look alike of the M16 rifle was getting a bit boring. To satiate that hunger Criterion brought us 'Black'.
It is considered as one of the best FPS games on the PlayStation 2 platform though the game's storyline is mediocre to the 'e'. Storyline aside the sweet thing about it is its detailed graphics that can be placed among the ranks of MGS: Snake Eater. Expect more crisp and clear images from Black. It makes the Medal Of Honor or Call Of Duty series look primitive. But unlike snake eater it does not take some more time to load after you reach each check point. Also as it is set in the present time most of the present equipments of warfare are featured in this game. M16 to RPGs, you name it, it is there.
The people at Criterion would never get a job at writing in Hollywood for sure as Black's background story turned out to be awesomely, tremendously, horrendously boring! The game takes you to some covert CIA: Black Ops mission as Sgt J. Keller who is active with his team somewhere in Europe to nab (or take out) the top leaders of an arms smuggling terrorist group (duh) named Seventh Wave. The story progresses with cut scenes showing J. Keller in chains being interviewed by some government personnel where Keller produces the details of his mission that had taken place four days earlier. Once you start playing you would find yourself not caring about the story anymore faster than you could say 'Black' so enough of the plot mumbo jumbos! Here is a look at the pros and cons of the game.
The game features a sufficient number of guns. After seeing some Hollywood action hero take on some bad guys with some good looking 'machinery' (!) you could just turn on the PS2 and have a go with that same 'machinery' you saw in the movie. The weapons are nicely detailed and the sounds are believably good. Well the most real gunshot I have ever heard was from those 'action movies' and the sounds in Black are totally up to par with those. Most of the environments are destructible but the sweet eye popping CG explosions are the star of the game. Seeing a land mine or a fuel filled truck explode is totally satisfying. Another piece of good thing that sticks out is that during the heat of battle you will find the reload speed if your weapon sufficiently increased. When not in a hurry the reloading of magazines takes a bit more time.
Well, they tried to make it a bit too realistic. There is no jumping no running and funnily enough for a game that put so much importance in guns, it has no blood! You can carry just two weapons at a time no matter if both weighs a ton or just a kilogram. Also there is no mini map there to guide you through the terrains so the probability is that the first time you start playing your head will spin for a bit, especially during the second mission. Black has no replay ability. After finishing it for the first time you probably will not find yourself playing it again as except some new weapons there will not be anything else to look at! I personally went for the Black Ops difficulty again just to have a blast with the new weapon I unlocked (M16A2). The difference in difficulty settings is in how many objectives you have to complete and the amount of health-packs that can be found in the game. Long after completing the whole game I was surprised to figure out that there were no active tanks in the game. Though it made life a lot easier but there is a WAR going on there! And the game gets finished rather too quickly. It has just eight missions. Also it has no multiplayer or online gaming option. Not that sitting in BD using a 4 Kbps connection I would have been able to use the online option anyway.
That packs it up. Criticisms aside Black is actually one of those games that spelled it out that 'high end graphics is possible on PS2' and if you love shooting and shooting and … Oh yes shooting you would be more than happy to spend five or six hours on this game.
By Ahmed Ashiful Haque Niloy
Shorpy: The 100-Year-Old Photo Blog
Think photoblogs are boring stuff? Check this out to see how wrong you are. This fascinating site shows just how different life was just one century ago. The differences between the past and present are obvious in these wide array of photos from a hundred year back. If you're into photography or history, you'll find this very interesting.
The PixelPress believes the Web should be used "to tell stories differently, to help us understand the world more deeply, to reach more people who may be desensitized by contemporary mass media." With that approach in mind, the site offers a lot to see photography exhibits, books, columns, and other works under-represented in mainstream media all find an alternative outlet here. I like this page from the site paying homage to the 9-11: http://tinyurl.com/2h2xbc
TVgasm has episode synopsis of all your favorite TV shows, each SO detailed, it'll take longer to read the episode synopsis than it would've taken to actually watch the episode. And the site has a good enough coverage of our favorite TV shows, so that we no longer need to worry if we've missed an episode.
We Feel Fine
We Feel Fine harvest human feelings from a large number of blogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Then the site puts on a cool interface that looks like thousands of bouncing balls, with each one representing a thought or sentiment from the blogosphere. Click on the balls to read what people are thinking, feeling, or expressing.
You have to love a site that attempts to answer one of man's eternal mysteries: the contents of a woman's purse. This site blows the cover off women's handbags, exposing the contents of over 40 purses in a unique look into the essential items women clutch closely. What else DO they carry besides the usual wallets and sunglasses? Find out! It also has a section on men: showing what they carry in their backpacks and messenger bags.
How Much Information?
Just how much information do we really produce every year? A team of researchers at U.C. Berkeley's School of Information Management has published a study that attempts to measure exactly that. The analysts examined a variety of media including print, film, optical, broadcast, and Net, and summarized their findings at different levels of detail. The site is strictly NOT suitable for most of you: it's all written in a very complicated way.
But for a quick summary: "The world's total yearly production of ... content would require roughly 1.5 billion gigabytes of storage. This is the equivalent of 250 megabytes... for each man, woman, and child on earth." And that's from 2003, four years back. Imagine what's it's gonna be like in a few more years.