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Cinderella Man

Review by Gokhra

Early in the movie you see Russell Crowe in the boxing ring, filled with cocky self-confidence. It kinda tells you that the whole movie will deal with Rocky style rise and fall but you could not have been more mistaken. Well, it is a lot like it but at the same time very, very different.

It's based on the life of Jim Braddock also known as "The Bulldog of Bergen". Who you say? Well those into sports may know about him and his riches-to-rags-to-riches career. But you don't' really need to know anything about the boxer. As usual Crowe's performance is astonishing.

Crowe brilliantly plays men who are inward and complex, as in "The Insider" and "A Beautiful Mind" and "Master and Commander."

As the film opens, Braddock is riding high with a series of victories that buy a comfortable, but not opulent, lifestyle for his wife Mae (Renee Zellweger) and their children Jay, Rosemarie and Howard. Also doing OK is Braddock's loyal manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti). Then Braddock breaks his right hand, loses some matches so badly his license is taken away. This is followed by the his family's descent to grim poverty in the early days of the Depression.

Remarkably Braddock remains level-headed throughout being sweet-tempered and concerned about his family above all. Mae is just the wife he deserves, filled with love and loyalty, and so terrified he will be hurt that she refuses to attend his fights and won't even listen on the radio.

Their poverty takes them from a nice family house to a cramped little apartment where there is no heat and hardly anything to eat. Their gas and electricity gets turned off in the dead of winter. A single, eloquent shot of a sleeping child's steaming breath is all the movie needs to convey parental panic.

Braddock gets a job on the docks in Hoboken, slinging sacks of grain and coal, using his left arm because of his injured right hand. Although that job is a low point, it helps him to develop a strong left hook from slinging those sacks that will eventually get him named "Cinderella Man".

There's an awful scene in which the boxer goes to the old Madison Square Garden begging for a handout. Then his old manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) appears with a one-time offer: A boxer has dropped out of a match with an up-and-coming heavyweight, $250, win or lose. ''For $250, I'd fight your wife," Braddock responds.

Up to this point everything is pretty dreary. Without much time to train, he takes on a leading contender, and to everyone's amazement, wins the fight. One victory leads to another, and finally Gould, his manager, is able to broker a title fight with the heavyweight champion Max Baer (Craig Bierko), who has killed two of his opponents and seems likely to kill the outweighed and outclassed Braddock.

The movie teams Crowe once again with director Ron Howard. They made "A Beautiful Mind" together. They find human ways to mirror the descent into despair; the Braddock family's poverty, for example, seems to weigh most heavily on the oldest son, Jay (Connor Price), who fears above all being sent away to live with "rich" relatives -- rich here meaning those with something to eat. He steals a sausage from a butcher shop and is caught. But his father doesn't punish him typical to Braddock's gentle wisdom. There is an earnest talk because his father instinctively knows why his son stole the sausage and that the kid's daring was almost noble.

The verdict:
What happens in the fight you will have to see in the movie. And the director does a brilliant job of creating a atmosphere where you enter the ring without really knowing who will win because people die in this movie in a very real manner. And its' that uncertainty that makes it so believable. The tiny boxing ring is filled with countless brilliant movie fights, most memorably those in "Raging Bull," "Million Dollar Baby" and the "Rocky" movies. What the makers of this movie do or rather don't is that they don't try to outfight those movies, but to outmanoeuvre them emotionally. The raw edginess of the scenes is more profound because the fighters deepest motivation is the fear of poverty. At a press conference, Braddock says he fights in order to be able to buy milk for his family.

The movie manages to immerse a viewer in the terrible, grinding poverty of the Great Depression. It's a comeback saga so unbelievable that it had to have happened more or less like this.

"Cinderella Man" is a terrific boxing picture, but boxing isn't what it is really all about. It's more about drawing the full-length portrait of a good man. Here is a movie where a good man prevails in a world where every day is an invitation to despair. It's a place where doing the right thing can almost be tiresome.
It's a bloody brilliant movie.

Publisher: MS Game Studios ,Developer: Gas Powered Games
Genre: Role-Playing , Release Date: 08/16/2005
Requirements: 256 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, 4 GB disk space

Dungeon Siege came out in early 2002 wowing the gamers with amazing graphics and a fast-paced, accessible combat system. However, for a role-playing game it was a bit shallow in terms of character development and story. Things have changed since then with Developer Gas Powered Games fine-tuning the gameplay as well as making it a bit more challenging and involved for experienced players. The result is Dungeon Siege II, a solid effort that manages to improve on the first game to deliver a lengthy, combat-heavy dungeon hack that will certainly please fans of the genre.

Dungeon Siege II plays pretty much like your average action RPG, except instead of controlling a single character, you control a party of up to six characters. Don't get too excited though, as it takes a lot of work to get six characters in your party. On your first run through the game, you can have a maximum of four characters in battle at a time. There are only a handful of characters in the game that you can recruit to join your party, but you can also purchase pets in any of the three major towns. The pets can be fed items to increase their maturity and to make them stronger. There are more than half a dozen different kinds of pets, including pack mules, lap dragons, and elementals. They aren't as immediately effective as human characters, but pets can be useful as a kind of living garbage disposal, since they'll gladly eat any extra items you might have.

Once you have your party assembled, you're ready for combat. You only directly control one character at a time, but you can give your party orders with a quick press of a button. You can also set magic spells to auto-cast, which can be handy. It's easy to set up the artificial intelligence-controlled characters to be self-sufficient enough that you don't have to do anything but tell them where to go. In fact, if you have healing spells set to auto-cast, your mages can easily heal your party faster than enemies can inflict damage.

The characters in your party develop by letting you allocate skill points to make your characters more specialized. There are four classes in the game: ranger, fighter, combat mage, and nature mage. You choose your class by simply using the character in a certain way. A character that uses primarily physical attacks will level up in melee skill and will effectively become a fighter. Any character can learn the skills of any class, but if you try to make a jack-of-all-trades-type of character, it'll end up being fairly weak and useless.

In addition to skills, you can now learn special powers based on how you decide to develop your characters. A fighter can learn the brutal attack power, which, when activated will make his or her next strike about 20 times more powerful than a regular attack. These special powers are set to the 1 through 4 keys, so it's easy to activate any of your characters' powers in the midst of combat..

Combat in Dungeon Siege II is about as simple as they come, but it can be pretty satisfying for awhile. You simply right-click on an enemy you want to attack, and if you hold the button you'll keep attacking the enemy until it dies. If you take too much damage, you'll get knocked unconscious, but as long as one of your characters is still coherent you can continue fighting. Eventually an unconscious character will wake up and be ready to fight again. However, if a character takes too much damage while unconscious, he or she will die.

As you fight, enemies will drop all kinds of loot for you to pick up--too much loot in fact. You'll find so much gold, armor, weapons, and spells that the notion of collecting items becomes almost trivial. Luckily there are teleporters located throughout the world so you can simply teleport back to town, sell off everything you don't want, and teleport back to continue your quest.

For those who enjoy simple, automated combat, there's plenty of it here. There are often dozens of enemies onscreen at a time. Actually, sometimes there's too much going on and it gets difficult to tell which characters are allies and which ones are enemies. Unfortunately, cutting down evildoers gets stale after a while, since enemies don't really become more challenging as you progress through the story; they just have more hit points so they take a bit longer to kill. There are a few cool boss fights in the game, but even those can get dull at times. There's one particular battle with a dark mage who has about 90,000 hit points but can barely inflict any damage on your party. Essentially, you just end up hacking away for a few minutes while the mage stands there casting useless spells.

To make things slightly more interesting, you can play through the story cooperatively with a friend via LAN or online play.

Dungeon Siege II does a good job with its setting and maintaining the fantasy atmosphere. The environments are detailed, and although some of the textures look a bit blurry and faded, the assorted areas are varied enough to be interesting while still feeling like they belong in a cohesive fantasy universe. The character animations are a bit awkward, but the characters themselves are high quality, and all the equipment is represented cosmetically.

Dungeon Siege II is a solid game with plenty to keep you busy for hours. The biggest problem is that the game is just too easy, and even though there are increased difficulty settings, you have to put in a good 40 hours just to unlock the veteran setting, and another 40 hours to reach elite.

The links are available at [niloywrites.blogspot.com] for your convenience. The picture with this Sites Unseen is one of my photography.

Drivey - More Than A Sim, Not Yet A Game
Drivey is a game that isn't really a game yet. The developer is posting his demo versions as the software progresses, and although there are no game elements like scoring or racing, there is something that captures your interest about this driving simulator. It has an ambiance, a real feel to it, and it's fun in a sort of trance-like way to watch the car continue around the looping track and make it speed up, slow down and veer around. It's a tiny Windows download, and runs directly from the executable.

Ten Most Kickass FPS Weapons Ever
Games.Net has a whole list of top ten feature stories. Some of the more interesting include Ten Hugely Over-Rated Games, The Coolest Modern Video-Game Characters and Games to Play When You're Stoned. I really liked the Most Kickass FPS Guns Ever list. The thing most impressive about this particular list is its inclusion of such a wide variety of games. Top ten weapons include the Voodoo Doll form Blood and Blood 2, the Shrink-Ray from Duke Nukem 3D and the Pistol from Halo (I'm playing this right now game, but it really doesn't feel that special).

How did they leave off the arsenal from Unreal Tournament, and you can't talk FPS weapons without at least mentioning the Deagle (Desert Eagle). Boom, headshot! [From Kotaku.com]

Second Person Shooter
Some people just have too much time on their hands. Julian Oliver, not content with the normalcy of first-person shooters, has decided to create a second-person shooter. The way his current idea works is that you see things through the eyes of your enemy and vice-versa. To play, and kill one another, you and your victim have to remain in eye and gunshot of one another.

Master Chief Reveals his Identity
This is just wrong. No wonder he wears a mask. [Also from Kotaku.com]

Comic Strip Generator
The whole comic strip generator thing isn't new, but this one features a very slick Flash interface, stylish heavy black vector style line art, and plenty of options. It produces some pretty impressive output, and there is a gallery. So far, "Traffic Jam" by Vidra is my favourite.

Wallpapers by VladStudio
Some days you really just want to change things up. If you want to have a desktop background that will have people asking you where it came from, give the collection of desktop wallpapers from VladStudio a try. Beautiful "Low quality" (1024 x 768) images are available for free.

Space Worms game
This is simple game in which little dots chase you. These dots do a lot of calculations chasing you, so although that makes the game fun, it also becomes quite difficult. And after each level, they add another dot to increase the difficulty. I got stuff in level 4.

Those crazy kids over at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are taking a really odd idea and putting it into action. They are developing a Jerk-o-Meter to determine how engaged a person is in a phone call. The program analyzes variable such as speech patterns and voice tones and rates the person on a percentage scale. To be honest determining if someone is engaged in a conversation is pretty easy. Rather than develop this project, why not just ask the person on the other end of the phone if they are listening. If they say yes, then they are listening. If they say no followed by curses of some sort, then they generally aren't. MIT should hire me.

Great CG Ads
These great CG ads with dinasours, cave men and, well, milk cans. Not really historically accurate, but nice to watch. The downloadable ads are 10-20 mb quicktime videos.

Movie trailers are fun to watch. But downloading them is a bit tricky. Apple's official site has a huge library of trailers at [apple.com/trailers], but searching through that site and finding the direct download link for the trailers would be tricky for inexperienced users. [Quicktrailers.tk], a site by Amer Habib, comes handy here. This is a site in which you can get a lot of download links to movie trailers, all in one page. Neat!

Create your own Bush speech...
It's a George W Bush Sound-Board, a pretty good one, featuring the most "intellectually challenging" of George Bush's quips. Notable quotes are "of of of of", "I think I I I", "rally the threat of terror" and "9/11 was so unbelievably good!”




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