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By Gokhra

Featuring the voices of:
Memphis: Hugh Jackman
Mumble: Elijah Wood
Norma Jean: Nicole Kidman
Gloria: Brittany Murphy
Ramon/Lovelace/Cletus: Robin Williams
Rinaldo: Jeff Garcia

Happy Feet is all about penguins and at first glance may seem remarkably similar to last year's Oscar-winning documentary "March of the Penguins." Copy cats at work? More like a coincidence. As is always the case, the planning and execution of animated films takes years. In the case of "Happy Feet," the initial work began about four years ago. Happy Feet joins a long list of animated offerings in 2006 reinforce the popularity of quirky computer generated characters.

The head of a bee household is known as a queen bee. Similarly, the boss penguin is known as the Emperor Penguins (although Boss Penguin would have done just as well). Emperor penguins are supposed to have great "voices," making them unique among the seemingly cloned sea of black and white characters. Poor little aptly named Mumble (voice of Elijah Woo) just can't carry a tune to save his life. While he can't sing worth a lick, he's a crackerjack tap dancer -- not necessarily the best skill to possess in the penguin kingdom.

"It just ain't penguin," gripes Mumble's father Memphis (Hugh Jackman), though the little fellow's mom Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman) is far more forgiving, convinced her son's singular talent will be enough to overcome what he's lacking.

As if that conflict was not enough, Gloria (Brittany Murphy) acting as the romantic interest of Mumble, ends up having the most beautiful heartsong of all the emperor penguins. Now Mumble has to do something top prove his worth and tap dancing while she sings might not be the exact trick.

In the penguin world in this movie the uniformity of the penguins' appearance says that if you're different, you are truly excluded. The head penguin Noah (voiced with the same chilling effect by Hugo Weaving as he achieved playing Mr. Smith in "The Matrix" films).

When Mumble cannot develop anything close to an appropriate personal song Noah exiles the poor little guy from the community. This leads to a great discovery of self as well as many quirky adventures that penguins usually do not undertake. Mumble wanders far and wide coming into close scrapes and dangerous twists and turns, especially one with a very sharp-toothed seal. Yeah, seal may be cute but they eat cute little penguins. Naturally, along the way, Mumble learns that the world outside the emperor penguin community is very diverse.

The movie is not all about fun and games and other penguins who apparently speak Spanish. It also delivers a message about mankind's disastrous decisions that could -- and may -- destroy the pristine world of the penguins, seals, whales and other creatures that inhabit the southernmost continent on our planet.
Overall, it provides a quaint, funny and brilliantly directed CG flick.

By Le Chupacabra

The 'RPG' genre has a tendency to remain aloof of most 'deshi gamers with the odd exception of the suitably famous Final Fantasy series. However, there's a staggering variety of pureblood RPGs (most games contain RPG elements nowadays) that both lack the Final Fantasy moniker yet also happen to be rather excellent; it's just that us Muggles often fail to notice them.

Disgaea is one such gem.
If you enter this game expecting poignant (read: whiny) protagonists and epic storylines you'll be better off looking elsewhere. Disgaea places you in the curly-toed shoes of the egotistical Prince Laharl. Rudely awaken from a two-year nap, this heir to the Netherworld finds his father, the nigh-unpronounceable King Krichevskoy, murdered; meanwhile, various demons of noble (and otherwise) blood have been vying for the throne. There is only one way a self-respecting demon can achieve supreme glory kill off the competition.

The story is charming in its own way, mind you. There are a few predictable twists, but it's eventually the quirky humour that wins it all. Since it's set in a rather juvenile version of the Netherworld, sardonic attitudes, witty (read: corny) remarks and much Narcissism is the order of the day.

The graphics are unique to say the least; if you're looking for a visual tour de force… for the SNES… then you've found your game. Disgaea is comprised of 2D hand-drawn sprites superimposed on what appear to be '3D' arenas. Underneath these seemingly ancient graphics lie some incredible anime-style character designs and a lot of personality that is lacking in games with superior visuals. The sound effects are quaint while the music has this silly, carnival-like atmosphere to it. You'll be surprised at how the voices give a whole new level of personality and charm to the characters! Perfectly over-the-top and over-acted at the right situations, this is truly entertaining stuff.

The true star of the show, however, is the gameplay. Yes, this game is guilty of having a turn-based battle system set on a rigid grid (think Final Fantasy Tactics). However, (like Tactics) it's also guilty of endless customisation options, unfathomable depth and intriguing strategy.

In combat you have to position all your characters in suitable locations and then order them to do their actions be it attacking, defending, casting magic, et al. Once prepared, you choose to initiate your stratagems and tactics. After your turn is up, the enemy will begin… and the cycle goes on. This affords you a level of freedom and calculated planning that few RPGs can boast of.

You can also pick and throw people all across the map. In this way, it's possible set up special attacks or reach greater heights. If you throw enemies into each other they fuse into a more powerful character with a greater level. Then there are Team Attacks. If a character has allies adjacent to him/her/it while performing an attack there is a possibility that they will execute team attacks. Geo Stones and Panels are also distinctive additions. Each coloured Geo panel may or may not give some distinct advantage or disadvantage to you or your enemies. If the corresponding Geo Stones are strategically destroyed you can achieve long chain combos that may help obliterate your enemies in one fell swoop or do insane damage at the very least. Then there's the fact that each character class has dozens of specific attributes and aptitudes to take into account. A character is also able to have pupils (try not to think about it too much); these pupils benefit their master with unique skills as they level up. Then there's all the weapons and item customisation and how each and every article can have a domino effect on your characters. Basically this game offers a multitude of ways to earn Experience for and customise your characters. And you know what? These features are barely the tip of the proverbial iceberg!

A really cool aspect that deserves special mention is the Dark Assembly. These are senators of the underworld that have the power to allow or deny your requests (in the form of bills). Requests range from improved abilities to controlling prices at the Item Shop. This is determined by their status towards you which range from Love to a Leaning Yes to Loathe. But it doesn't stop there. Senators don't like you? Simply bribe them. They denied your bill? “Persuade” them by force. Remember that higher level senators have more influence than lower ones.

Despite all these complex features, this game is surprisingly easy to get into and once you've begun, you will be addicted. However, this is still geared towards RPG and strategy fans and it does require quite a bit of patience and perseverance for reaping the rewards.

If you've ever chastised the PS2 for the lack of an RTS, you may want to check the unique brand of RPG-strategy only console games can offer with Disgaea: Hour of Darkness.

E-mail, queries, flames and your credit card details can be sent to: chupaa.chups@yahoo.com

Why we like her?
Although she doesn't always say the brightest things, she still allowed MTV cameras to follow her around and record her daily life. She even renewed public interest in tuna.

Why is she famous?
After having accumulated a number of hits such as "I Think I'm In Love With You" and "Irresistible," she married 98 Degrees singer, Nick Lachey. Their marriage became fodder for a reality TV show thanks to the success of Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica and Jessica proved she could look great in "Daisy Dukes" in the 2005 film version of The Dukes of Hazzard.

In the late '90s, the music industry was keen on fabricating bubblegum pop stars to appeal to a teen audience. There was Britney, Christina, and the Spice Girls, which were a trend all their own. Coming from the Christian music scene, Jessica Simpson was catapulted into the midst of this battle.

She was marketed as a similar manufactured performer, but the fans who had been following her since she was 12 years old knew that she was unfairly represented. Simpson's music is an infusion of pop, R&B and soul, and it's far from being generic.

It's in Dallas, Texas, that Jessica Ann Simpson was born on July 10, 1980. Growing up in the small town of Richardson, her life was textbook happy. Her father Joe was a psychologist who also served as youth minister in the local Baptist church.

With this background, it was only normal for young Jessica to participate in church activities and so she sang in the choir. Such was her gift that at the age of 12, she auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club.

When she reached the finals, she froze, choking completely. Unfortunately, she didn't get the job; Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were luckier. Nevertheless, this experience served as an important life lesson for Jessica.

Before long, small label Proclaim Records noticed her voice and offered to record an album. She recorded a number of gospel songs but just as they were angling for a release date, the label went bankrupt.

Not about to give up in the face of adversity, Joe (now her manager) took his daughter on the road, where they worked the Christian Youth Concert circuit. Jessica sang and then sold her home-recorded album after performances.

Word spread about Simpson and her record sold like hotcakes. More importantly, it wasn't only Christian music fans who got into her music; pop lovers everywhere were being charmed by her voice.

Sure enough, news of Jessica's success reached important people in the industry. Tommy Mottola of Columbia Records/Sony Music was one of them and he was stunned by Simpson's voice and skills.

Mottola believed she had the talent to reach mainstream audiences. Still, Jessica made it clear that she would only be onboard if she could maintain her identity. Luckily, Mottola understood what she believed in and supported her decision.

After signing up with the music giant, her debut album Sweet Kisses was released in 1999, giving way to the singles "I Wanna Love You Forever" and "I Think I'm In Love With You."

She joined boy band 98 Degrees for the tour and it didn't take long for her to fall in love with one of its members, Nick Lachey. Their budding romance only helped the release of their duet, "Where You Are," off Sweet Kisses.

After a short breakup, Jessica and Nick finally got married in October 2002 (which meant that they could finally consummate their union...) and the celebrity marriage had rejoiced gossip columnists everywhere. As a result, MTV offered the couple a reality show based on their everyday life as a couple, much like The Osbournes.

The deal was struck and August 2003 marked the debut of Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica. Although the show overshadowed Simpson's new album, it became an incredible hit and it was picked up for second and third seasons.

In November 2005, Nick and Jessica made their plans to divorce public. No official reason has been disclosed, but we have no doubt that Jessica's career will only continue to bloom.


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