Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, March 15, 2007




Whether scanning a homicide scene for evidence or blasting up a motorcycle ramp at 120 miles per hour as one of the world's greatest daredevils, it seems there's little that square-jawed CSI star George Eads can't accomplish on the small screen. However, the future wasn't always so sunny for the decidedly down-to-earth star; Eads has most certainly earned his rank among television's best, thanks to a solid work ethic and the kind of steadfast determination that's been known to move mountains. Born in Fort Worth, TX, and raised in nearby Belton, it didn't take the Texas Tech graduate long to realize his calling -- and despite the fact that chiseled Texans with big-time aspirations are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, Eads was determined to stand apart from the crowd. Of course, nothing comes easy in Hollywood, and after making the rounds to various auditions during the daytime, the eager up-and-comer would earn his keep as a weight adjuster at the local Gold's Gym in the off hours. Persistence eventually paid off in the form of a supporting role on the little-seen nighttime soap opera Savannah, and though the show barely lasted one season, it did provide an ideal training ground for the relatively inexperienced Eads. In the years that followed, Eads continued to hone his craft with a recurring role on the hit series ER as well as numerous supporting performances in such blink-and-you-miss-them made-for-television pictures as The Ultimate Lie and Crowned and Dangerous.

Eads' persistence eventually paid off, and he was hired for the key role of forensic analyst Nick Stokes in the breakout television hit CSI. Cast as a former college baseball star with a hero complex, Eads charmed audiences by creating a character that was as believable as he was personable. The show proved an enormous success, but the young star nearly lost the role forever by making the simple mistake of oversleeping on the day of his salary negotiations (CBS at first thought Eads was attempting to strong-arm them for more money, but the situation soon blew over when Eads apologized for his actions). Now seated comfortably at the top of the television food chain, Eads continued to make a name for himself with roles in numerous made-for-television features including Just a Walk in the Park and Monte Walsh, though it was a role as his childhood hero Evel Knievel in a small-screen biography that truly brought Eads' career full circle. When he's not investigating some of the most grisly crimes ever witnessed on the small screen in CSI, Eads fulfills his duties as part owner of Hollywood's popular Cinespace restaurant -- a perfect place to take in dinner and a movie.

George Eads was born - said to be on March the 1st and raised in Waco, Texas. The son of a lawyer and a mother who's a school principal, he was brought up in Texas.

At Belton High School, he was an avid athlete who excelled in football and basketball. He acted in a few plays, but football was his life. Subsequently, he graduated from Belton High School in Belton, TX in 1985 and finished a marketing degree in Texas Tech University in 1990. It was during his college years at Texas Tech that he began to think about pursuing an acting career. "I mentioned it to my mother one day while I was in college, and she said she thought it was a pretty good idea," he says. "I was close to finishing school, so she wanted me to complete that so I would have something to fall back on."

George Eads' immense fondness for playing "make-believe" while growing up should have been a good indication that he would not end up with a career in sales, as was his initial intention.

When an opportunity to teach drama presented itself at a local middle school, Eads jumped at it. He supposedly studied in an Acting School called KD Studio! Honing his acting skills and studies, first in Texas, Eads eventually made the move to Los Angeles with the money he saved doing commercial work.

Right now, at 33, his career is finally starting to take off with the success of CSI. Eads' television movie credits include The Spring, Broken Crown, and The Ultimate Lie. He has appeared as a guest star in Strange Luck, as well as multiple episodes of ER and starred in the drama Savannah.

Danny Archer -- Leonardo DiCaprio
Maddy Bowen -- Jennifer Connelly
Solomon Vandy -- Djimon Hounsou
Simmons -- Michael Sheen
Captain Poison -- David Harewood
The Colonel -- Arnold Vosloo

The plot
"Blood Diamond" is set in civil war-torn Sierra Leone in the 1990s. The story revolves around a fisherman (Hounsou as Solomon Vandy) whose life is uprooted one fine day by the so-called freedom-fighting rebel forces led by a murderous Captain Poison. These bloodthirsty sociopaths storm into village after village, executing the women and the weaker and smaller men. They capture the stronger men and force them to work slave camps. Solomon's wife and children are similarly taken away from him. Solomon, turned into a slave trolling for gems in the river, finds a rare and priceless huge pink diamond and buries it nearby, but not before being spotted by the amiably vicious Poison.

And that's about it for the premise of the story. The rest of the film consists of a furious quest to locate that diamond Solomon's help. The mission is accompanied by ex-Zimbabwean soldier of fortune and jewel trader Danny Archer (DiCaprio), who's doing it for money. Then there is the apparent love interest and hot journalist Maddy Bowen (Connelly), who's doing it out of a desire of exposing big diamond companies for being the big bad wolves.

The movie more than makes do with an excellent A-list cast. DiCaprio is no longer the pretty boy poster pinup for fawning adolescent girls. He actually has skills to show off. If you had seen his first films you would be hard pressed to think that this wimpy boy could ever look like a hard man who has killed a lot. He looked quite buff and tough for Blood Diamond with an added and unexpected sensitive streak.

DiCaprio portrays a classic if not stereotypical wartime anti-hero soldier of fortune. Phew that's a mouthful. He does not take sides and couldn't care less. He is too busy making money smuggling so-called conflict diamonds or more accurately, "blood diamonds" from Sierra Leone into Liberia. So that's why the movie is called what it is called.

Jennifer Connelly is impossibly ravishing even in the battle scarred, blood stained sets of the movie. She brilliantly portrays a thrill-seeking journalist who still has a conscience. She makes for one good, sexy, edgy heroine. Of course, the show is mostly stolen by the deep character portrayal of Hounsou who is only matched by Harewood as Captain Poison. A big, jolly killer, Poison is the archetypical baddest bad guy.

The first hour of "The Blood Diamond" is one pounding gunfight and chase scene after another with a touch of romance somewhere in between.

"Blood Diamond" is a work of amazing movie on chaos and destruction proving to be an intensely entertaining film. It's also a bit of a popcorn movie with plenty of bone-jarring explosions and brutal gunplay rivaling most notorious Holly\wood gunfight flicks. Sounds like fun.

It also looks great filmed in a gritty, documentary style oozing with apparent authenticity. The best thing is that it has an immersive storyline taken on a bullet-train-paced ride. It's a thriller with something deeper on its mind as well.

One of the biggest buzzwords in the gaming industry is 'innovation'. The moment that this particular combination of letters manifests in any article, the denizens of the Internet are driven into a mad frenzy of debate, comparison and inevitably… cult worship…

Okami is one such game that has been practically hounded by the media for being avant-garde. As a result, it's been winning achievement awards left and right, competing with the likes of blockbuster titles such as Gears of War (Xbox 360) and Oblivion (PS3, PC, Xbox 360). With so much limelight, the true nature of this game slowly dissipates and people buy it without a second thought since it's 'popular'. Sickening.

Why the Zeitgeist rant on the state of interactive media? I'll tell you why. Take away the publicity, the honours and the hype and unlike most games you're left with something that's utterly and genuinely heartfelt… and that's the sole reason why this game is unlike no other.

Okami is a world born of artistic sensibility founded upon Japanese lore. Ancient Japan is under threat from a devious creature of old - the serpentine, eight-headed beast known as Orochi whose aim is to drain the colour out of life itself.

Now behind this rather metaphorical premise lies a compelling, breathtaking journey that will truly ensnare the senses. The deity of the Sun, Amatarasu, has taken up the corporeal guise of a lupine hero of old and embarks upon an epic adventure to defeat the beast once and for all. As Amatarasu, you must traverse once pastoral lands in order to purge the lecherous evil that is sapping the country of its vitality. While the overall objective is rather straightforward, the true splendor of the game stems from the experience you have along the way to the final goal.

At the heart of this awe-inspiring escapade is the world itself. There's a palpable sense of atmosphere and being that is taken to an artistic level through the use of Japanese calligraphy as the template. The gameplay is intrinsically bound to this realm of imagination - and more naturally and deeply than most. The sense of wonder and awe that you will experience is akin to that in the sublime Shadow of the Colossus. There are puzzles to solve and therein lies the creative gameplay mechanics based upon the use of calligraphy itself. Simple examples see you use your godly powers to inventive use. In Kamikura Village there is a matriarch who has lost the washing line to hang wet clothes from. What to do now? Initially, I started searching for a wooden pole but came short; there were none and there was a good reason why.

Now most puzzles here are solved by depressing the R1 button which subsequently transforms the current world into an imprint upon parchment paper. Using the heavenly instrument, the Celestial Brush, you literally draw changes to the world around you. The power of true creation is literally placed at your fingertips and this organic method is intuitive and awe-inspiring beyond belief. All it took was a simple stroke across the screen with the Brush, and a wooden pole manifest across the placeholders. The old woman hung the clothes while my lupine avatar sat patiently, wagging her tail. Once done, the woman had yet another conundrum - the Sun was not close enough to dry the clothes fast enough. You are the goddess of the Sun after all. Quickly switching to the Brush mode, I briskly drew a circle as close to the area as possible. In a dazzling flash of orange, Sol appeared, casting its warming rays everywhere. Its moments like these when you're just completely drawn into the world itself. This level of captivation permeates into every stroke of the game's being. You can draw gusts of wind to blow through the valley, you can cause flora and fauna to spring forth from the ground and you can create geysers from the waters themselves. Take away your powers and you are merely a white wolf - and this yet another aspect that is beautifully realised. Like the horse Agro in the aforementioned Shadow of the Colossus, you can run around levels looking remarkably realistic as you do so. You can bark to scare other dogs, you can nip at small animals and bask in the Sun that you yourself drew. All sorts of mischief is possible, and these little actions are compelling enough to enthrall you for hours. The bizarre personalities in the game are equally loveable. Whether it's the annoying but perspicacious artist Issun or the eccentric martial arts master Onigiri-sensei, these characters add a lot of life to an otherwise solitary adventure.

However, all is not creation here - on your way to the epic battle against Orochi, you must combat his tainted denizens. In combat mode, you can perform a variety of attacks with the glowing disc upon your back. However, you can also augment your physical prowess with your heavenly powers. You can slash across enemies to cut them in half, create bombs, spring forth a wall of trees to defend yourself, et al. The more you progress, the more interesting and varied your repertoire of Brush techniques become.

What really sets this game apart are the lush, breathtaking visuals. The world is literally a canvas and all life has been beautifully drawn in to create the sense of being in a Japanese calligraphy art-book. Each page you flip only fills you with more awe. The animation and artistic design are similarly magnificent. Amatarasu moves with a grace and fluidity that perfectly captures the majesty of the wolf. As you pick up pace, you leave blossoms and flowers in your wake as a testament to your restorative powers. The enemy designs are extremely creative and there's a certain singularity to each one that makes them visual marvels. It indeed evokes and occasionally surpasses the imagination in DragonQuest VIII. The music is composed of tranquil, natural ministrations that complement the visual experience beautifully.

Okami is a subtle, pastoral adventure that will enrapture the senses and gratify you with a level of creativity and freshness that is unique. Like Shadow of the Colossus, this is one of those games that transcend art form and becomes something quite special.


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

© 2007 The Daily Star