Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, November 15, 2012




Movies for kids
that grown ups can watch too

By Orin

Life is fun when your biggest worry is getting the homework done on time so you can go to your friend's place next door to play and come back home in time for Captain Planet. Or life was fun, because these days the worries are more than just getting your homework done, the friend's place is one hour drive away and TV is full of Doraemon and serial killers.

Childhood is underrated we say, even with all the romanticism that goes around with it. You don't appreciate the beauty of being a kid until you have to sit for an exam at 8 with an empty stomach after pulling an all-nighter. Being a kid was awesome, made even more awesome by the movies we used to watch thanks to VHS tapes.

Not only did the movies make it to the list of favourites, but they also defined a generation. If you are a kid who grew up in Bangladesh in 90s, you must have seen two movies: Home Alone and Baby's Day out. The little kid in Baby's Day Out dodges kidnappers, crawling around New York and somehow manages to get out of a construction site unscratched. With fires and gorillas, this is THE most hilarious baby movie ever.

In Home Alone, Kevin finds himself alone in the house during Christmas as two people try to rob it. There were sequels of the Home Alone series: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Home Alone 3, which kinda got boring, because how many times can the kid get lost? Even then, Home Alone is the pure fun of being a kid and outwitting the bad guys all alone, and the closest thing to a superhero a kid can get.

Then in 1996 came Matilda, based on the Ronald Dahl book but modified to fit an American perspective, finding escape from her parents only to find herself in the hands of Mrs Trunchbull, the school bully who happens to be the principal as well. The critics might not have selected this as their favourite, but kids all over the world adored every single minute of it. Mary Poppins was a treat to watch as well; we spent hours of amazement watching the super-nanny, songs like 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' and 'A spoonful of sugar' stuck around, and it didn't matter that it was released in 1964 - we loved it indiscriminately.

Speaking of Disney, The Lion King is an all-time favourite and few people can leave with dry eyes after watching it. We are tempted to believe this is Disney's triumphant work; despite brilliant movies like Toy Story that changed our childhoods forever The Lion King remains a true classic. 101 Dalmatians was adapted into numerous versions, and maybe a villain named Cruella De Vil would seem a bit obvious today; as kids it didn't matter, everything was welcome.

The Parent Trap is another funny, heart-warming movie that shot Lindsay Lohan to success, and she was brilliant playing twins who hated each other.

Then there was Mrs.Doubtfire, Robin Williams disguising as a nanny for his kids so he can spend more time with them and Big, where Tom Hanks found himself all grown up after wishing on a magic machine. There are few movies more parodied than The Goonies and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Both favourites, both written by Spielberg, both told stories of friendship and adventure and both taught us more than five years of primary schooling ever did.

The Bangladeshi movies did not disappoint either, and there was a time when directors thought of kids as an audience too. Movies like 'Emiler Goenda Bahini' and 'Dipu Number 2' are still thoroughly enjoyable, but unfortunately remain the only mentionable names in children film category. Along with the old Satyajit Roy classics like 'Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen', 'Hirok Rajar Deshe' and 'Gupi Bagha Phire Elo', they made a good list of movies to enjoy.

We are not claiming that kid's movies today are worse off now than they were when we were kids, because they are not. Pixar is producing some memorable works and there are Harry Potter movies (however disappointing they might have turned out to be), The Chronicle of Narnia and Percy Jackson series, but it's impossible to outgrow the charm of the movies that made our childhood. Grab a DVD and make your younger brothers and sisters watch them with you, even if they don't want to. They may not realise it yet, but childhood is short and maturity is forever.



By Mahir

There is a silent law in the gaming world which states that the third game of any franchise has to be a masterpiece and Ubisoft, following this law, has created a game good enough to compete in sequel-pwnage with the likes of God of War 3 and Devil May Cry 3. Assassin's Creed was supposed to be a relief and detour for the Ubisoft crew from the Prince of Persia series, but has grown up to be Ubisoft's biggest and most profitable franchise and with a new protagonist, a new timescale and new weapons mingled with signature Assassin's Creed gameplay and graphics, this is one game you must play.

Thanks to the three years of preparation, Ubisoft Montreal transferred the game from the European and Middle Eastern scenario to the western side of the Atlantic right in the middle of the American Revolution. Initially the game does its best to describe the reasons why our half native, half British assassin Connor Kenway aka Ratonhnhaké:ton chooses a life of killing and later on builds himself to be the most efficient Templar slayer in North America.

As expected Connor comes with some deadly arsenal. Besides the trademark hidden blade, he has a long ranged bow which gives him a definite advantage in hunting and assassinating Templar Captains too coward to come out and fight. The agile tomahawk acts as an improved version of Revelation's hook-blade and Connor's rope dart constantly reminded me of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat (GET OVER HERE!). These armaments make Connor an efficient hunter as well as a ruthless assassin and he uses these along with his knowledge of the familiar terrains in the frontier to his utmost advantage. And yeah, he can climb trees.

However, Connor doesn't just prowl the wild throughout the game. The two cities, New York and Boston, have been created with agonisingly accurate details for Connor's exploitation where he can find numerous side missions and can build his own brotherhood. If you get tired of all the sneaking and killing, you can always captain the mighty war galley Aquila, brave the high tides and howling winds of the Caribbean Sea and survive the volley of cannonballs from enemy ships. A throwback to the glory days of Monteriggioni is your homestead, which you can build up to improve economy and buy better, well, everything. The single player mode is good enough to make you play the game for hours but AC III comes with an extraordinary multiplayer mode with several stages and strategies which will keep you hooked to the game for months.

AC III is a great game but lacks polish in some aspects. There have been complaints of some bugs during side missions. The free run sometimes may land you right in the middle of your pursuers and being constantly overcrowded with enemies is a big problem when you have little health left. Also, whenever you are engrossed in playing as Connor, the game will pull you back to play Desmond Miles which is nothing but an unwelcome setback from the thriving views of the past.

Overall, Ubisoft has taken the best aspects of other games and mixed those with its own trademark to take Assassin's Creed to a new level. The fluid combat resembles that of Batman: Arkham City while the frontier will give you similar experience of Red Dead Redemption. The graphics is as good as Naught Dog's Uncharted and the naval engagement looks like a scene from the Pirates of the Caribbean (and Connor as the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow). Although many fans expected this to be the last game of the series, however, Ubisoft isn't yet ready to slay their golden-egg-laying goose and within this month or the next, you can expect an announcement of the following game. So if you have a console, you can get on with game right now and if not, wait till November 20 for the PC version to come out.


Ubisoft for the first time brought out an Assassin's Creed game for PS Vita which introduces a female assassin Aveline who will cross paths with Connor during the gameplay. So if you are a proud owner of a PS Vita, be sure to buy Assassin's Creed: Liberation.

Story: 8/10 Gameplay: 9/10 Assassination: 10/10 Graphics: 9/10 Overall: 9/10



By Ibrahim

It's been over 15 years since Mark Knopfler quietly disbanded Dire Straits, one of the defining bands of late 1980s. From then on, the band's leading man embarked on a solo career that he knew would be quite underwhelming compared to his days of rocking out to Sultans of Swing. But he has soldiered on, with very little hype, working flawlessly on his guitar and producing moments of absolute magic. His new solo venture (his 7th to date) is another example of why this guy's musical genius is second to none.

Looking at the album's discography for the first time, I felt rather overwhelmed. The album had 20 songs in two discs and a further 8 in two bonus ones. Knopfler isn't the kind to go for quantity over quality so I was looking forward to hours of quality music. Straight out of the blocks, the first few songs are absolute gold. And I mean heart-warming, euphoria-inducing music. He starts off with a heavy Celtic folk theme in Redbud Tree and Haul Away and he is at his fingerpicking best in the album's namesake Privateering. No one will blame you if you don't go past these few songs for a few days. I certainly didn't.

From there, Mark takes us on a spectacular ride across the realms of music. Armed with his guitar, he delivers the blues, country and rock and roll all with the same nonchalance. Songs like Corned Beef City and Hot Or What get you tapping and smiling along with the music while there are the more melancholy driven ones like Miss You Blues and Radio City Serenade.

The only real drawback is that there's too much going on in the album and the songs in the second part aren't up to the high benchmark set in the first part.

The songs draw inspiration from a lot of the best musicians around. From Dylan's blues to a Tom Waits-esque piano ballad, there's tributes to many a great in the album. The lyrics themselves are a pleasure to hear, almost like poetry and his singing is definitely reminiscent of Leonard Cohen's style. From a musical standpoint, his work is flawless here and it would be foolish to suggest otherwise. In his own words, Knopfler describes Privateering as an invitation to join him as he tours around the world, enthralling people with his music. He sticks true to his theme and we suggest that you do as he asks and let the music carry you away.

For seasoned Knopfler fans, this will be an absolute treat. It's his best compilation yet, certainly his most memorable. It looks like he might finally cast off the Dire Straits shadow. For those who haven't yet listened to him, check this album out. It has the perfect songs for you to fall in love with his music.


By Shaer Reaz

Not many people are buying webcams these days, but it's still an important accessory to have, especially if you don't have a laptop or a tablet with which to communicate with friends and family abroad. While our internet speeds aren't exactly fast (at all), at least we can see the pixelated and torn frames of our loved ones on Skype. So if you're looking for a new webcam, we're here to save the day. By providing you with webcam prices. Ok, I don't really know how it saves the day, but bear with me.

Logitech is the brand to go for if you want HD quality and unparalleled auto focusing and resolution. Their hardware is usually incredibly resilient, even webcams, so most of the shops that sell Logitech webcams are confident enough to provide anything from a 1 to 3 year warranty. The cheapest of the lot is the C110 at 1500 taka, which does not offer any HD but still has a 1.3MP sensor resolution, so the choice between this one and the cheaper A4-Tech alternatives (more on that later) is up to you. If you want to splurge your cash on more Logitech, there's the C270H (3MP, High Definition video) and the C525HD (8 MP, HD video), costing 3,000 and 5,000 taka respectively. Top end stuff, high prices. Blowing the bank is the C910 and C920, top of the line, uber-cool looking, high spec webcams that cost 10,000 taka apiece. You get 3 year warranties on the top end ones.

If your budget isn't too accommodating, Genius is a great brand that almost competes with Logitech, other than a shoddier build quality and less inspired software designs. Like their gamepads and gaming accessories, Genius webcams get the job done without a fuss and too much strain on your wallet. Genius Facecam 300 starts off at 700 taka, so cheap that you'd be surprised by the design and function. Eye-312 Mega has 1.3 MP screen resolution and costs only 800 taka. The reason for the cheap prices in both cases is the USB 1.0 function, which makes things a bit slow. Rivaling the Logitech C110 is the Genius iSlim 1320 Web, priced at 1500 and offering mid-level specs at a reasonable price. The most you'll have to splurge on a Genius webcam is 2,700 taka for the Genius Facecam 3000, HD quality and a super cool carbon effect layered on it.

Slightly more expensive, but still within reach are the A4-Tech webcams, prices ranging from 1,100 for a mid-range one to 1,900 for the A4 Tech PK-770K Web, their most expensive model. If you find anything cheaper, they're probably not that uh… functional.

“A good webcam is a very useful thing if you have a fast-ish internet connection like Link 3 or BTCL, and you have people abroad you need to stay in touch with. Sometimes it's not very convenient to sit at the desktop and chat, but the fast speeds you get with a broadband line is a definite plus,” Says Rubaiyat.

Sushmita, on the other hand, foregoes webcams all together, instead preferring to use Skype on her smartphone, making it easy on the move than carrying a laptop or tablet. “Webcams are going obsolete.”

I'm forced to agree. Cellphones, tablets, laptops, the world has moved on to portable devices for communication, and we are, too. Webcams may be the next floppy disk drive. Available only on desktop PCs, and not of much use, external webcams don't seem like they'll be surviving the onset of smart devices. But for now, here's to “can you hear me, hey, can you hear me.”


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