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Mecha / Action / Drama
4 OVAs
Bandai Visual
Ages 15+

Once friends, Isamu, Guld and Myung have long since parted ways as they transitioned from children to adults. As fate intervenes, this trio is once again reunited although not under ideal circumstances. Isamu and Guld are now both test pilots for two opposing companies vying to offer their replacement to the venerable transforming Valkyrie whereas Myung is the producer for the hottest music idol in the galaxy, Sharon Apple. However, an intense rivalry between the two guys is more than obvious and Myung's somewhat distant interactions with both of them allude to a suspect past.

Macross (or more loosely, Robotech) was the start of something fantastic all those years ago. A mecha anime that captured the imagination and hearts of viewers worldwide, it has seen many a successor in modern times. However it takes more than flashy visuals to live up to the emotional impact of the first.

Macross Plus is different. Not only does it offer a visual and aural meal worthy of the largest burp that you can muster but it warms the heart by retaining the core being and intensity of Macross.

Even more impressively, despite being trimmed down to a mere quartet of OVAs (Original Video Animations), Plus does more with its limited screentime than a large laundry list of anime and it throws in the washing power and fabric softener while at it. The end result smells absolutely divine. The Valkyries are in full force, balancing soaring aerial manoeuvres with brutally physical ground combat. The fight choreography is spirited and Macross fans missing the galactic battles of the past will be satisfied at this microcosmic iteration. This is also the point where I simply must extol the virtues of the soundtrack. One of the core themes of Macross has always been the power of music; the way the art and audio simply intertwine here into a gloriously iridescent experience is simply awe-inspiring. It's another masterful piece of work from my all-time favourite, Kanno Yoko, and once again, I've run out of words of commendation.

The other facet of Macross is in the character relationships and this empirical version offers an operatic experience with the trio of main characters. They may be a little hardset in their ways and perhaps a tad phlegmatic, but there's also a sense of grit and reality about them. There isn't much to the main narrative and thus, it's the character-driven threads that give this series definition and volume and in a good way, at that.

Let me get this bit clear. I don't like doing this part if I can't help, but I gotta be a little bit objective with this little juggling act. Onwards to the nasty bits! If there's something that feels a little off-putting is that we've seen this before. I mean sure, put on a new coat of paint, slap in some CGI and then politely ask your local orchestra to bust out the bass and pipes and you've got yourself something flashy. But sometimes you can still smell the veneer. It's a winning formula at work here but an established one nonetheless. If you're expecting a different direction with the world of Macross, this ain't the place. It sounds waaay harsher than I'm being, but hey, it's pretty true. But don't let that fool you for I think Macross Plus is made of pure win.

A visually and aurally arresting experience with a heart that still beats young, Macross Plus is a glorious student of the school of thought that made the original so endearing.

[Note: It's the 25th Anniversary of the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross. To commemorate that, they're airing the recently created Macross Frontier. Thought it would be a good time to talk about Macross Plus.]

Reviewed by Gokhra

A while back there was a movie called Rocketeer where a man in an iron mask and a jet pack manages to fly around saving the say without burning his bum. A fun movie and good story couldn't save it though. It flopped. Lack of star power maybe? Now you have a fully metal man (possibly to protect the bum from burning) and an all star cast. Does it save the movie though.

Well, the numbers speak for themselves.

The plot:

The Iron Man created in 1963 by Stan Lee and company had some interesting wrinkles: He was a hard-living hedonist (and years later, an alcoholic) who, as originally drawn, looked like a mustachioed Efrem Zimbalist Jr., or a variation on Clark Gable. Downey evokes a different sort of glamor, that of a famously self-destructive hipster fending off middle age as best he can. In the comic book original Stark fell afoul of a Ho Chi Minh-styled dictator, returning to safety with shrapnel dangerously near his heart and a cylindrical metal canister planted in his chest. (It's electromagnetic, or non-returnable, or something.) The Vietnam era Iron Man's mission was simple: destroy communism, one North Vietnamese at a time.

Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard's father, composer Ramin Djawadi and Stan Winston are among the film's crew who are fans of Iron Man. Downey himself is such a big fan of Iron Man he swears to make 15 films if possible about him.

Stan Lee, the creator of Iron Man, had originally based Tony Stark on Howard Hughes, whom he felt was "one of the most colourful men of our time: an inventor, an adventurer, a multimillionaire, a ladies man and finally a nutcase."

To prepare for his role as Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. spent five days a week weight training and practiced martial arts to get into shape.

The Iron Man Mark I armor weighed 90 pounds.

An animatronic puppet of the Iron Monger was built for the film by Stan Winston Studios. It stood 10 feet tall and weighed 800 pounds, and was built on a set of gimbals to simulate walking. It required five operators to run it.
Marvel Studios' first self-financed movie.

Robert Downey Jr plays the iconic albeit a little less exposed Ironman in this years comic adaptation of what else but, Iron Man. With that bit of wisecracking done with, let's move on to the movie itself.

Very few comic to movie adaptations have been good. While the first two Spidey flicks were great the thrid brought in a dancing Parker that didn't really 'jive'. Others like Elektra, Daredevil and Punisher were bad to say the least. So Iron Man was viewed with held breath and it proves marvelous.

Downey is the perfect cast for Tony Stark who is a heavy drinking billionaire weapons manufacturer and inventor (originally modeled on Howard Hughes). He goes out and about in a private jet complete with pole-dancing stewardesses. And you know that somewhere down the line he will get a wake-up call. The arrogant billionaire is on a US military caravan while making a deal in Taliban ruled Afghanistan when he is ambushed.

They hold him prisoner (in a cave, how contemporary) and ask him to build a missile. Of course, if the bad guys had read comics when they were children, they would know never to give tools to smart heroic types.

The parts for the missile come from his own company and that troubles Tony Stark. With the help of a doctor (Shaun Toub) who saved his life, Tony outwits his captors and instead constructs a crude suit that turns him into Iron Man version 1.0. That's an armored, flying supersuit that shoots napalm at enemies. That's paying homage to the original story based on the 1963 comic-book story set in Vietnam.

Tony comes back to America never to sell weapons again. That worries his business partner Obadiah Stone (Jeff Bridges with a shaved head). He exudes evil in a sneaky way that you can't help but admire.

The verdict:
The movie is a lot of fun and does away with constant action in favour of storytelling and man what a story. It sticks true to its origins while making way for certain changes to bring in the contemporary feel. Could be the fact that the comic book writers were used to dish out the script.

Robert Downey Jr. makes for one of the best heroes to come out so far. He plays the playboy with you believing he is just that. And then he becomes all philanthropic and you can't miss a beat.

Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays Stark's assistant Virginia "Pepper" Potts. Together they dish out chemical fizz by the bucket loads in every dialogue.

And then there's the villain by Jeff Bridges. He is only matched in evil-ness by Willem Dafoes Green Goblin and last Lex Luthor by Kevin Spacey.

Movies are loved and made immortal by the characters that tell the story. And Iron Man spends a lot of time telling the stories by people who can transfix with their style. While the climactic battle may have cost a lot, it is by far not the best scene of all. Watch the characters unfold with the heroes and villains at par with each other.

By Quazi Zulquarnain Islam

At the end of the day, life did turn out to be fair at least for the gadzillion Red Devil fans across the world. Deserved it was, and Manchester United finally sewed up a title that had had their name on it ever since Cristiano Ronaldo went mad with his goalscoring exploits.

41 goals in all competitions, 31 in the Premier League a tally matched by no midfielder in the world, not even the revered Michel Platini in his pomp. But that would be harsh on the French legend as Ronaldo fun ctioned more like an auxiliary forward Alex Ferguson's unique (yeah right, more like swiped from Roma) 4-6-0 formation.

But score he did and fittingly it was Ronaldo, who has been imperious this whole season, who scored what turned out to be the winner -- sidefooting a penalty into his non-favourite corner at the JJB to give Man Utd their 10th crown in 16 years.

With all due respect to Chelsea, whose stirring late challenge made for the most exciting league run-in since Arsenal-Liverpool in 1989 (which was later the subject of book and movie Fever Pitch). The Premiership hadn't seen it's like before.

But throughout the season, United played the 'Arsenal brand' of football with far greater efficiency than the Gunners. Their mesmerizing passes around the defence amounted to something via Ronaldo's goals mostly.

Michael Carrick proved an important cog, Owen Hargreaves added steel and a tricky free-kick when needed, Rooney sacrificed himself, Tevez got the important goals (think Blackburn), Rio Ferdinand and Vidic were rocks, Evra effervescent and the Portuguese, for all his antics, brilliant.

No other team deserved it more.
Chelsea might argue that point, showcasing their greater resilience, the time spent without many top players, the dogged chase, their superiority in the big games but at the end that challenge was doomed to failure.

Jose went, Avram came and credit the Israeli for managing to post such a glorious challenge. He owes due thanks to both Ballack and Drogba, two players who stepped up to the plate when necessary, to Ricky Carvalho for his rock solid presence and Joe Cole for his inventiveness.

In the end though, it would be fair to say that brilliance was the difference between the two sides a fact Chelsea might not vindicate preferring to point instead to Wigan's relaid pitch at the JJB, Steve Bruce and of course Alan Curbishley's friendship with Alex Ferguson.

But conspiracy theories are moot.
At the bottom, despite Reading's 4-0 humbling of Derby and Birmigham's 4-1 defeat of Blackburn, both winners went down due to Danny Murphy's headed goal which saw Fulham retain their top flight status and ensure Mohammad Al-Fayed will not have the luxury of lighter pockets next season.

The big question though as always remains that of competitiveness. Who will crack into the Big Four next season? Or for that matter, when will Liverpool crack the Big Two? What will become of Arsenal.

Despite the heroics of wonderboy Fernando Torres, who had a spectacular first season, the Kop will be disappointed to have been left empty handed in the league and dumped out of the league by gofer side Chelsea.

The wonders of Arsenal were few and far between. They were always going to run out of steam. Wenger's pig-headedness did nothing to help that situation and with a mass summer clear-out on the cards, the warning lights are on at the Emirates.

All in all though, its been a season that will forever be associated with a twinkle toed Portuguese, his astonishing free-kicks and prolific goalscoring. The man named after Ronald Reagan is truly the star of the Premiership.
Till next season!


(Disagree with the awards? Think someone else deserved a mention. Don't think United deserved to win? Write in tozulquarnain.islam@gmail.com)


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