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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

By Emil

This casual gamer is steadily failing to keep up with times. I hadn't touched Wolverine since it was released, until, like, a few days ago. And all those rumours I heard of it being such a fun game proved very true.

I can't really comment on its relation or significance with the movie. I haven't seen it, yet. Doesn't matter, though. The game is only loosely based on the movie, and neither is necessary to experience the other.

The driving factor of the game isn't the story. In fact, it can nearly be called unintelligible, unless you can follow it really closely, and having seen the movie helps. Jumping between this memory and that of Logan's can be a tad bit confusing, but the gist of it is Wolverine's Origins, as per the title. The game chronicles his heroics, or anti-heroics, long before he joined the X-Men, his services to the military, time with Col. Stryker and his Weapon X program and the subsequent eventual disbandment.

But, no. This is not the driving factor of the game. If you intend to immerse yourself in the storyline, you'll fail. Miserably. You'll be so hooked on the combat that nothing else would matter. So, what's so awesome about the combat?

Nothing in particular. Just the fact that for some strange forsaken reason, you just LOVE to hack and slash and claw and maul and brutalize your enemies into itty bitty pieces. There's something vile satisfaction in clicking your way through thousands and thousands of foot soldiers- there's something in mixing and mashing together simple strings combos, to which you don't really know the combinations to anyway- there's something there, and for anyone in the mood for some blood curling mindless action, violence and gore, Wolverine: Origins delivers. With a meaty snikt.

You have a primary attack, fast claw strikes, and a secondary attack- heavier more powerful claw strikes, and the grab. Combining these three buttons in different sequences and ways gives you a certain amount of combat variety. There's a rage bar with which you can use special powers, for example, the all-devastating Claw Spin- have no doubt if you're surrounded by baddies from all sides and you don't want to click too many times, activating this attack will clear a field wide as your grand father's barn house.

Of course, it may sound like this will get boring after a while, but for some reason, it doesn't. It's probably the mindless violence and the amazing amount of gore. It always gets us. The Boss fights though, can be a tad bit disappointing- they can be quite lengthy, and often times not fun to live through.

The cutscenes are a piece of work, though- pre-rendered FMVs that tickles the thriller bones. The graphics are for the most part pretty amazing, based on the Unreal 3 engine. The scenarios may get boring and a tad bit repetitive but that doesn't stop them from being really nice. Of course, one of the finer points of the visuals about the game is Wolverine himself. As you take damage, your avatar's body will begin to tear away skin, flesh and all sometimes leaving nothing but the adamantium skeleton. Even better works of visual awesomeness is the flesh, skin and all gradually healing and growing back on Wolverine's body. A treat, to be sure.

Throwing enemies over the edge, lunging at creeps from a distance, scratchy jump mechanism, not to mention riding crashing Sentinels down to Earth can be a painfully addictive experience. 'tis a fun game, to be sure, and definitely worth a play regardless of whether you're a fan of the character/comics or not.

Like I said, blood, flesh, bones, chopping to pieces and all that mindless violence gets to us. All the time. Abstinence or no.

PS: There's a few puzzles here and there... But, not really.

By Emil

Post-rock is a relatively unknown genre everywhere around. I didn't know it existed until a few months back. But, then I'm not really much of a music fan as other people are, so that's okay.

What exactly is Post-rock? According to Reverend Wiki:
Post-rock is a genre of alternative rock characterized by the use of musical instruments commonly associated with rock music, but using rhythms, harmonies, melodies, timbre, and chord progressions that are not usually found in rock tradition. It is the use of 'rock instrumentation' for non-rock purposes. Practitioners of the genre's style typically produce instrumental music.

I have no idea what that means. Except for the last sentence.

And that's what sleepmakeswaves does, too. Instrumental music, and some of the best damned instrumental music, at that. Forming around the year 2006, sleepmakeswaves have established themselves as a promising post-rock band, with good reasons.

These guys are one of the more emotive bands that I've heard. Beautiful would one of the words I'd use to describe their music. And their first full-release album called "In Today Already Walks Tomorrow" is exactly that; beautiful, emotive and simply put, awesome.

In terms of post-rock, there's an opinion that they are pretty formulaic following in the dotted footsteps of Explosions in the Sky and the impact they had on the post-rock scene. However, they still make music that sounds excellent, and for most casual listeners like myself, that's all that really matters.

In Today Already Walks Tomorrow will definitely go to my Top Albums list, if I had one. Just like their band name 'sleepmakeswaves' and their album name is a bit out there, a bit psychedelic, a bit abstract, so the song titles are too, and very interesting, as well.

The album has six songs amounting to a total of 37:14 minutes playtime of amazing instrumentals. The first song is titled "I will write peace on your wings and you will fly over the world". One word. Awesome. And I mean both the title and the song itself.

I've found my personal favourite to be the third of the track (which was also available in their demo release) called "One day you'll teach you to let go of my fears". If the song titles are putting you off, don't let it. This is a song absolutely worth listening to. Epic would be one of the words I'd use to describe it. It'll make you think of many things depending on your frame of mind. From cold winters and silent rainy nights to long forsaken journeys through a barren wasteland of emptiness with nothing on you except the guns of your father (Dark Tower or Fallout, anyone?). It makes you think of letting go of everything and moving on to a better something.

Of course, to some it might be yet another instrumental music by a post-rock band.

Regardless of whether you've ever heard of post-rock before or not, whether you prefer heavy metal over soft rock, sleepmakeswaves, yes with a small s instead of a capital, is one band you should definitely give a try. Even more so since their music is free from download.

"In Today Already Walks Tomorrow" was an album released under the Creatives Commons license under the net label Lost Children. All their free and legal music can be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/details/lost_children.

And you can download "In Today Already Walks Tomorrow" at http://www.archive.org/ details/LostChildren059.

sleepmakeswaves is an awesome band, and has some of the best instrumental pieces around. An absolute must for a try.

By The Anarchist Kitten

Before Lars and the Real Girl, the biggest role a blow up doll had had in Hollywood was possibly in the hit comedy movie Old School. And if someone had told me then that years later, a man and his blow up doll in a movie would make me cry, I would not have believed that person. Yet that's what Lars and the Real Girl is about- a man and his blow up doll.

Entertainment is exploitation. What you get as an excuse for an hour and a half long movie is a marketable exploitation, and it would appear from common ratings that the only thing that sells is human misery. The painter Mondrian spoke of the possible disappearance of art. Reality would, he believed; increasingly displace the work of art, which was essentially a substitute for an equilibrium that lacked at present. Will art disappear as life gains more equilibrium? Art as a substitute, as a means of putting man in a state of equilibrium with the surrounding world- this idea contains a partial recognition of the necessity of art, and its nature. Partial, since a perpetual equilibrium between man and the surrounding world cannot be expected to exist even in the most developed society. The idea suggests that art was not only necessary in the past but will always remain so- so long as this imbalance exists.

What makes good art? I humbly propose, art is merely expression. But to the well-organized mind, good art is art that seeks to restore the equilibrium between man and his surroundings. Good art seeks to fill the void, creating a bridge, and sating its necessity. Returning to our former topic of discussion, human misery, I conclude that we as a people love to revel in the misery of others. We award best the film that depicts the rape and ruin of our civilization, because we call it truthful and honest. But here's a movie that won't ring very true. A movie that believes in simple human kindness. Take it with a grain of salt, if you will, for the time being.

If you're going to pick apart all the ways in which Lars and the Real Girl is not a realistic movie then maybe you won't enjoy it. But we've all noticed at one point or the other the severe lack in our cinema, and in our television screens; a distinct scarcity of truly good, kind and warm people, making them too unrealistic to stomach, while the only movies that ring true to us are ones about human depravity (the past few years have seen Academy Awards for Best Picture given to No Country For Old Men, The Departed, Crash etc.) With no unkind word intended towards the mentioned films, Lars and the Real Girl is so different and irresistible because it shows us what we're not used to- goodness. Ryan Gosling is one of the best contemporary actors, having proved his mettle already with Half Nelson, and cementing it with Lars and the Real Girl. The success of the film depends almost entirely on Gosling's ability to sell this character to the audience, and he does so flawlessly. Lars is a sweet teddy bear of a man who happens to be intensely lonely, living with his married elder brother, but for whatever that's worth, living by himself anyway. Living in a shell, a term aptly redefined by Lars, he is wounded by the pain of losing his parents many years ago; literally frightened by human touch, Gosling exudes the humanity of an injured child in the body of an adult man.

Lars's brother Gus and his wife Karin are expecting a child soon, with Karin trying hard to socialize Lars continuously. However, Gus thinks Lars is happy, choosing his loneliness. This basic life is shaken up, however, when Lars brings home a new girlfriend. Her name is Bianca, and, according to Lars, an orphan and a missionary; and she is a blow up doll. But Lars doesn't realize this, or if he does, he doesn't acknowledge it. She is, to him, real. One can gradually begin to understand Lars's choice in Bianca's history, and its similarity with his own.

A psychiatrist (a marvellous Patricia Clarkson) tells the family that the best thing they can do for Lars is encourage his delusion until he works through whatever is causing it; they relay that to the townspeople, who take it to heart. As a result, Lars's girlfriend Bianca is completely accepted by the entire town. Ultimately Lars and the Real Girl isn't very realistic. But isn't it nice to think it could be? That a group of people could be this warm, kind and accepting, simply because they happen to like somebody and want to see him get better?

The movie picks pace once we start to realize that Lars is making real progress through his blow up doll girlfriend. He's mixing with the towns people instead of staying holed up in his room; he's going to parties with his "girlfriend"; he's going to church with her; and everywhere they are accepted because of the town's people's unity in helping Lars. The movie has an incredibly powerful and positive message about the ability of a community to heal and nurture a troubled soul by treating it with acceptance and compassion, tenets that are at the heart of every major religion and every major morality. This movie isn't your typical Hollywood fare though. Whether you see it for the humour, or see it for the humanity, you will not regret it. And back to the topic of the role of blow up dolls in Hollywood movies, there is nothing sexual or gross about this movie. The blow up doll merely becomes a physical embodiment of one man's terrible loneliness in a world where he was heartlessly abandoned. It should be required viewing for anyone who feels alone in the world. Because you really are not.


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