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A womaniser with a way with words, suave, sophisticated and handsome, bestselling author living the charmed life in New York. Ex-wife flitting to and fro, fifteen-year-old sagely daughter in tow, a mother decked out in pearls and a hair-sprayed coiffeur, and bored out of his mind. So Richard Castle does what any other man in his shoes would do he scouts out attractive, sassy NYPD detective Kate Beckett and decides to embroil himself in the strange world of New York homicides.

That beneath the surface is a thinly veiled truck-load of friction is apparent from the get-go. Castle is perpetually getting ahead of himself. Crime scene investigations thrill him. He enjoys hovering over Detective Beckett's shoulders and getting on her nerves. On more than one occasion she wishes she could put a bullet through his head. Which gives rise to internal conflict on Beckett's part, since she is secretly a fan of the charming mystery novelist she so publicly disdains. Of course she won't admit it. Rather, she takes aim at his aura of never-been-refused-a-thing-in-my-life and gives it something to think about. Their saucy banter provides much of the grit of each episode. That, and the way the street-smart Beckett and coolly smug Castle work through each case as it comes, feeding off of each other, the barely suppressed sparks flying all over the place.

It is yet another CSI-esque show, attractive people in the leads, with extraordinary luck on their sides. Bullets and explosions glance off their collective lives. Hostage situations always see them emerging shaken, but not stirred. They know how to peg down criminals from a line-up of sorority sisters and sniff out serial killers from rat-infested warehouse basements. On most occasions, they do that without their bullet-proof vests. There is a liberal dash of running around, toppling over banisters, chasing firearm-wielding men into alleys. And as is the case with most dysfunctional partnerships, one of the two (mostly Castle) lands himself in hot water more often than necessary while the other (mostly Beckett) taxes her brains trying to bail him out. And almost every other episode lands the two of them back at headquarters, luxuriating in their collective triumph either by themselves or with their motley crew of token medical examiners, tag-along detectives and chief of operations.

If you're looking for a television drama that will enthral you with its intellectual depth ('such dramas exist?' I hear you cry), don't strain yourself. The cases follow the usual pattern, nothing out of the ordinary, bodies found and suspects discovered and motives hidden in crushed coffee cups and sunflower petals left in the elevator. Stylistic filming and editing give it that glint reminiscent of CSI (and its many spin-offs) but the flashbacks and dizzying close-up shots are blissfully missing. What isn't missing, though, is a lot of saucy back-talk. Dysfunctional police duos might have been done to death but Castle and Beckett keep things amusing, acerbic comments bouncing off of each others' egos. And yet there is that undercurrent of attraction, moments where it is apparent for the world to see that sometime in the future these two will end up together. It's the wait that keeps the storyline taut.

With only one season out and another underway, it would be a shame if the success of 'Castle' falters in its sophomore year (Prison Break, anyone?). Here's to hoping that the writers swear off cheesy formulaic arcs and keep the banter sizzling. Don't let the obviously female viewer-oriented plotlines scare you away. You might even enjoy watching a suave, sophisticated man bumble his way through a woman's vinegar heart.

And if that sounds too Hollywood for you, our apologies.

Zuma's Revenge

By Emil

I do believe I've played no other game filled with so many innuendos right of the bat. That is to say, a game that isn't really intended to be filled with innuendos. Okay. It was just that ONE line, but that one line was one line too much.

PopCap games releases yet another masterpiece of a casual game. Nearly everyone has played Zuma. The ball-spitting frog, sun god and everything else.

Here's Zuma's Revenge, probably the least anticipated sequel ever. And possibly the best sequel ever, too. As far as the story goes, our friendly-neighbourhood frog has found himself cast away on raft with nothing but some underpants for sails. Drifting towards an Island, he finds himself in the hostile lands of Tiki Gods who begin to 'attack' him, or whatever constitutes as 'attacking' in the world of Zuma. That is to say, the Tiki Gods place the frog at a rotatable center while pushing balls towards a skull, which wants to eat the frog up. Weird. But, that's not the point.

The point is this: Zuma's Revenge has one of the best gameplays of all time. OF ALL TIME!

Gameplay: Little has changed from the predecessor, the balls still flow, and the frog still spits. There are however new power ups and improved level designs. Aside from the old power ups (Slow, Bomb, Reverse, Accuracy), there are three new ones. The first one is a laser that completely disintegrates a ball, usable three times at each pick-up. The next one is a 'Trip-shot'- this gives the frog cannon balls, usable once which shoots forth three steel balls like a shotgun obliterating everything in their path, and the other is the coolest of them all. A lightning shot which will remove all balls of one color from the screen. Popping.

Other new things to the games are Boss Battles and horizontal levels. There's atleast one horizontal level on each zone- the difference on these levels is that the Frog is settled on a platform which can move back and forth horizontally on the bottom of the scream (with the exception of one or two vertical levels). There are boss battles at the end of each zone. And these bosses have some of the corniest dialogues of all time. OF ALL TIME! These end zone levels are also horizontal, and the objective on these levels are of course to finish the bid bad baddie- following a different method for each boss. All fun and games, this one.

Graphics: Sharp is how I described it to myself the first time I ran the game, and sharp is what I'll maintain even now. Contrary to the first Zuma, Zuma's revenge has brilliant level designs in terms of artwork. In the first game, the same several styles of levels would be used, re-used and re-used over and over again. So, after a very little while it gets to be extremely repetitive. This is one of the places where Zuma's Revenge shines out.

Beautiful artwork distracts you away from actually noticing much of the track except where the line of balls are coming through. So, even if the track patterns are reused every zone, they're so craftfully blended in with the theme of the zone that it doesn't seem so. Specially Zone 5, the underwater stage, where shot balls leaves trails of water ripples. Very nice to look at.

Sound: Not much to speak of here. Cool music and great sound effects should just about sum it up.

Progressing through game unlocks challenges for you to complete, and finishing the game completely unlocks new difficulty modes. Challenges are always fun, and makes a game less redundant than otherwise. What's a casual game without good lifespan, right? Right. Zuma's got that.

Not the best game recently released, but definitely one of the funnest, which is more than can be said about most games out there. Zuma packs the punch. And the fun. Now then, as one of the Tiki Gods says, “Bring forth the balls.”

Swoon and Sigh

By The Anarchist Kitten

Read the synopsis for Let The Right One In, a Swedish vampire film, and you may think, "A romantic drama about the relationship between a young boy and girl, one of whom is a vampire? Was that not the plot of Twilight, Catherine Hardwicke's adaptation of the super selling novel by Stephenie Meyer?" Yes. It was. Very much so. But don't worry, don't stop reading this review, and don't make any assumptions about this film just yet-- this isn't a rehashed cash-in on Twilight's success. In fact, it's everything Twilight wanted to be but was simply unable to be-- beautiful, painfully romantic, emotionally involving and unexpectedly terrifying. A true gem of the genre.

Let The Right One In has been adapted by John Ajvide Lindqvist from his own novel of the same name. The name comes from a song by Morrissey (“Let the right one slip in / And when at last it does / I'd say you were within your rights to bite / The right one and say, / What kept you so long?”). This is befitting, for the former Smiths front man has long been a friend for these who feel lonely, tentative and in need.

Oskar is a maudlin 12-year-old boy who's bullied at school, has no friends and, while being ignored at home, cuts out and collects newspaper reports of heinous crimes. Despite his tender years, he's already one of those people we've all met who's destined to be either overlooked or trodden on his whole life. Yet when he meets a similarly lonely child called Eli in the playground outside his housing complex, he discovers the strength to stand up for himself. So far this might sound like a bittersweet coming-of-age indie flick, but the drama is, improbably, a vampire movie.

The fact that it doesn't feel like a vampire flick at all makes it one of the best of its kind. While the usual bloodsucker conventions are followed (the aversion to sunlight, immortality, an inability to enter a home unless invited etc.), the focus is on the two kids who don't fit in anywhere and their unlikely friendship. Some of Oskar and Eli's exchanges will break your heart-- “Will you be my girlfriend?” “Oskar, I'm not a girl.” The movie's many off-the-wall moments are instances that audiences will not only tell all their friends about but want to see again, but what's so wonderful about this film is the grace and sensitivity with which it emphasizes the love story at its center.

Let The Right One In does not feel remotely MTV-fied, from its telling close-ups that portray a rare elegance in every scene, to its superlative sound design. Sound effects you will find yourself falling in love with will include the dribble of blood down plastic funnels, Oskar breathing, the Morse Code taps he makes on a wall that divides his bedroom from Eli's and snow falling on winter trees.

A Hollywood remake of this is already under way; it will of course be terrible. Catch this before they ruin it. Let The Right One In will make you swoon with sadness and sigh with happiness.


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