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Chicken Little

Review by Gokhra

"CHicken Little” is Disney's latest offering putting a new spin on an old fable. Chicken Little is the poultry equivalent of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. It's also the first one without without Pixar, the studio behind "Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo."

The plot:
"Chicken Little," the new animated cartoon from Disney, wisely takes this approach, and even provides an explanation: Earth is being attacked from outer space. When Chicken Little claims he was hit on the head by a chunk of blue sky, and the townspeople think it was only an acorn, the chicken is telling the truth.

The movie takes place in an all-purpose town named Oakley Oaks, where chameleons change color while functioning as traffic signals. In a salute to the original British children's story, the film has a Turkey Lurkey (he's the mayor), a Foxy Loxy (she's foxy, all right, but not very nice) and even a Goosey Loosey (Mark Walton, who will be cautious in adding this credit to his resume). Everyone seems othave a rhyming name except Chicken Little (Zach Braff). His father is Buck Cluck (Garry Marshall) and there we go again with the rhyming names.

When Chicken Little is hit on the head by an octagonal "piece of the sky," no one believes him, including his dad. His bell-ringing warning sends the town into a panicked frenzy and he's made a laughingstock. He is ambushed and hounded by the press; shamed and humiliated. His friends loyally stand by him; they would be the goths, nerds, geeks and outsiders in a human town: Abby (the Ugly Duckling) Mallard, voiced by Joan Cusack; Fish Out of Water, who wears a diver's helmet filled not with air but water and is not voiced because he doesn't talk and you couldn't hear him, anyway; and Runt of the Litter (Steve Zahn), who is so fat he can hardly see his stomach, let alone his feet.

There is one way for Chicken Little to redeem himself, and that would be for the sky to actually fall. But then the actual plot of the story arrives in the form of space aliens who want to invade earth. Ultimately the question is does Chicken Little save the day?

The verdict:
The whole flick is rather cool with plenty of visual wizardry. There are all manners of camera acrobatics as well as some 360-degree "bullet time" scenes as Chicken Little scrambles through town after missing the school bus.

For all the whiz-bang visuals, however, "Little" could use a little consistency in tone. The comic-relief character--an obese, whiny piglet obsessed with Barbra Streisand--just isn't that funny. The one who really steals the show is one without dialogue. Fish does a marvelous King Kong pantomime, complete with a paper reproduction of the Empire State Building.

The movie's pacing is on par with lightning quick editing typically associated with children's cartoons.

Of course there are a bit too many musical cues at one point there's even two of them back to back. It is as if to fill up dead air which it actually is.

With "Chicken Little," Disney proves that it can compete and merchandise the heck out of its properties. But quality wise in terms of graphics it is still a bit far from Pixar. Good movie, nice graphics, cute characters.

Game Review

Age Of Empire 3

by Niloy

Age of Empires 3 was one of the most anticipated games of this year. It has been released more for a few months now, and it still is the number one selling PC game worldwide. Does the game give the gamers what they've been waiting for? Pretty much, yeah. Read on for more.

Straight to the point: The game is more realistic this time around, but thankfully, not much has been sacrificed in the “fun” department to make it so. The game feels great: most of the times. Only, if you have played Age of Empires 2 a lot say more than 200 hours could you feel a bit disappointed with the game. But that's not because the game's bad… It's because it's different and lot of your tried-and-true tactics and gameplay styles won't work anymore. After all, it's a new game and not just an expansion pack! Still, I know some gamers who say that in terms of gameplay, AOE 2 was better. The margin isn't much noticeable, unless you happen to be a veteran. Lots of refreshing (or are they limiting?) new features have been added to the game and the re-learning process might be a bit unappealing to some.

That said, it's the little details and subtle improvements to the game that makes it truly shine. For example, when you train recruits, you can train them in groups of 5. It's just a little tweak, but it makes a big difference in the heat of the battle as you can train big armies very quickly. Or the fact that villagers (they are caller “settlers” now) don't need any drop-off points for the resource they collect it's directly added to your stockpile. That lets you take off your time from micromanaging and focus on the battles more. And remember how the farms used get “exhausted” every two minutes? Say goodbye to that not only farms never exhaust, and up to 10 settlers can work in it. They are more expensive, yes, but once you've got one running, you'll have to worry a lot less about your food supply. Then there are the in-battle improvements, especially the visual ones. It feels great to watch how your cannons just blow away the enemy. Or watching 10 mortars taking down the enemy town centre in just one single blow. Gunpowder reigns in this game and rightfully so. If you can carefully use them, you're pretty much unstoppable.

And yes, the gameplay style has been changed. You're not safe inside your heavily fortified base with its towers and forts anymore. Anything can be taken down nice and easy if you have the right artillery. And a moderate garrison won't be able to withstand the canons. What do you do? You take down their artillery with your fast-moving cavalry, of course! Then you use your canons and your infantry (consisting of some melee warriors and lots of archers/gunmen) to deal with the remaining attackers. Piece of cake.

After that, you might feel like rebuilding all the walls the enemy destroyed, make some repairs, replace your fallen soldiers and wait for the next wave. Or if you think you're strong enough, go attack the enemy base. (And of course, you'll have much better tactics than mine… and will defeat the enemies a lot easily and won't let them touch your nice walls. It's just that I don't play games for beating the game in the best possible way, or challenging myself or getting the highest score. I do it for the fun. And AOE 3 serves that purpose very efficiently.)

As you see the battles are the main focus of this game. As the bases are not secure enough anymore, you'll have to rely on your army and canons for most of the time. All the units have strengths and weaknesses pikemen, for example, can tear apart cavalry but are easy target for rifles and canons. Canons are slow but are devastating against groups of enemies. But if the enemy got some determined cavalry, the canons won't last long. Each of the units is efficient against some and weak against others... and you'll figure that out yourself. Otherwise, you're in trouble.

But all these don't mean defensive structures have become useless, although you can't build a lot of them anymore. They can be easily taken down, yes, but by acting as a temporary barricade, they give you a very useful advantage.

As your enemy is kept busy with the walls or, in case of an open battle, melee infantry, your archers, riflemen and especially canons tear apart their numbers. And the result is very satisfying, especially the heartfelt cheer your army will give after a successful skirmish.

In the campaigns, your heroes (who never die and just faints when their HP is too low) have a nice warcraft-like special ability some can do a lot of damage with their swords against an enemy group, others can take down one enemy soldier preferably the strongest one in one shot. That comes very handy in the battles as you can take out the grenadiers or a few cavalry.

Home cities are a new addition to the series. All the different civilizations have different home cities from which they can ask for shipments - resources, soldiers or some technology in exchange for some Experience (a new resource in the game. You get experience from everything you do training soldiers, collecting resources or taking down enemies). These shipments are very important for the gameplay as having the right suppliers can turn the courses of a battle. You'll find out more as you play.

You would sometimes face the classic “Here, you get these two settlers and this horseman. Go destroy that mighty fort guarded by the biggest armies ever.” syndrome. There are three longer-than-AOE2 campaigns, and although they are fun, I got tired after the middle of the second campaign and used some cheats to skip the missions and check how the story develops. It can be termed “interesting”… but how interesting can a story about a “fountain of youth” whose waters will make anyone immortal be? In the story, you play the protagonists, generations after generations as they try to keep the fountain away from a certain group called “the circle of Ossus.” And those guys are damn persistent. You'll painfully find that out throughout the campaign.

The graphics is absolutely stunning, if you have a good gaming rig. Still, it looked beautiful in my aged P3 933 MHz machine with a 128 MB ATI Radeon 9200 SE graphics card.

The game was smooth and playable in 800X600 resolution. Of course, it didn't look nearly as good as the screenshots available online, but beautiful nevertheless. (Just so you know, the game doesn't support NVIDIA GeForce 2, TnT2, ATI Radeon 7000 and 7500 series, and you ought to have a minimum of 256 MB RAM.) The sound was great… exactly what you expect from a game for which people had been waiting so long.

I have skipped a lot of details in this review, I know. There is only so much you can say in a thousand words. But this should give you an idea of what the game is like. Do I recommend it? Absolutely! Get this game. You'll like it.

Best car for a sinking Bangladesh

By Gokhra and Mood Dude

Some people just love to blast each other for no good reason other than it's a fun thing to do

Presenting the Hydra Spyder. It's fast, its' topless, it's unsinkable an in these press shots it's yellow.

Gokhra (G): What's so great about a floating car? As far as I know these have been around since the sixties.

Mood Dude (DM): Yeah sure but back in the sixties a weird guy took a typical family car and outfitted it with waterproofing and an outboard motor. Then somehow it all died down cause these cars were first of all very, umm, leak prone. They liked to drink in more ways than one.

There was a company that built amphibious cars that looked like the oh-so-sexy Lamborghini Countach.

(G): Yeah, they showed it on Top Gear where the funny but opinionated presenter complained how bad it was to control. Basically, you had to aim and hope not to get caught in cross currents. Also, it sometimes, um, leaked. Not to mention that a boat looking like a Lamborghini should also move like one in the water. Well, it didn't.

So what's' so great about this one?

(DM): For one thing this has a souped up engine pushing it very, very fast on land. This unit has a 502 Cubic Inch fuel injected engine from a Corvette. That's 6000cc With around 400 bhp on tap. This car will smoke the tires and almost anything else that competes with it. But the weird thing is that it is front wheel drive. So that means with so much power this thing is going to be a monster to control. All that power pushing the front wheel while you also need to turn them could be a problem.

(G): And what happens when it's in water?

(DM): That's when it uses the Berkley Marine Jet engine that has plenty of juice on its own. It can push the car on water at a pretty heady speed and there is also adjustable steering that makes turning in water as nimble as with a powerboat.

(G): But it looks a bit weird. It's got a bit of a Ford Mustang look to it. In fact, the mirrors, windshield and the entire interior trim come from a Mustang. That makes sense though because American cars have such cheap plastic interiors that these will not be spoiled no matter how many times these get soaked in water. But considering the cheap materials the price is monstrous.

(DM): Yep, built by a modestly named company called Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International priced at $155,000. It outranks Porsche 911 territory. Heck, you can buy a Mustang and a Corvette and still have tons of money left over. But it is sure damn good for Bangladesh since we have a possibility of going under water any day. I think I will set up a dealership here.

(G): What makes it truly unique and special is that it is made from flotation foam. This makes the Hydra Spyder an unsinkable amphibious vehicle no matter what you do with it. To keep it light it has an aluminum lower hull with fiberglass upper structure

Also, there is a computerized Air Ride retractable 4-point front and rear suspension system. This gets your wheels out of the way so you can effortlessly moves across the water.

(DM): It's the ultimate sport utility vehicle.

An Anime Review


By Le Chupacabra

Gainax Entertainment
6 OVAs/Episodes
Age Rating 13+

Naota is your average adolescent with his fair share of the odd trials and tribulations that are juxtaposed with the experience of growing up. Of course things don't truly get wacky till the day a crazy woman on a scooter crashes into him and then to complete the deal, wallops him on the head with her guitar. Then something strange begins to grow out from poor Naota's cranium…

“What. The. <Expletive>?” was the first thing that came out of my mouth after I finished the 6 OVAs that constitute FLCL (aka Furi Kuri). Watching FLCL was like having gone into a non-stop head-banging seizure at a heavy metal concert, having your face slapped silly, gasping for breath while drowning and also taking a trip through the minds of Dali, Picasso and other avant-garde artists. Not in that order mind you. But that's what FLCL is… avant-garde in every sense of the world. It's a pure assault on all of your senses; FLCL is craziness incarnate.

But is it any good? And what is it really about?
To be honest it's nigh on impossible answering both those questions. FLCL is definitely entertaining it certainly takes that word to unimaginable limits. An eclectic concoction of brilliantly performed rock music (by The Pillows… no, I've never heard of them either) and some truly memorable artwork, FLCL leaves your head reeling for hours. Images flash by at light speed and often need you to rewind and take in what you missed. But you should definitely not pass up any part of it. Rife with sight gags and subtle (and not-so subtle) cultural references, FLCL is what can be called true art.

Now the striking thing about the story of FLCL is that there seems to be nothing solid about it. It's infinitely subliminal it's full of messages seemingly about everything. The beauty of it all is that each viewer will find his or her own interpretation of it. Adults will look at it from their perspective while kids will look at it from theirs. I'd like to believe that each one's impressions will be unique. FLCL is symbolic, it's insanely incoherent and you know what, you'll probably never even make any sense of it even after hundreds of viewings. That is what FLCL is about, I think.

If it's anything, FLCL is truly a work of genius and unbounded creativity that's as profound as it is mystifying. It will shatter the limits of your imagination and perspective. And it's definitely guaranteed to bring about some temporary insanity as well. You've been warned!



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