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the twilight saga: new moon

By Musarrat Rahman

The Twilight Saga: New Moon opens with a shot of a full moon and ends with Bella taking a breath - and, in between, there's zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

It was released on November 20th and broke the box office record as the biggest midnight screening with US$26.3 million and the biggest single day domestic gross with US$72.7 million.

The movie takes place after the events of 'Twilight', the abomination that started the pop culture and created the zombie-like twi-hard's that eat, sleep and breathe the exploits of a ditzy harlot and her indecisive love life with mythical creatures.

It is Bella's 18th birthday and of course, as always, little miss drama queen must play it down refusing presents from her beloved and ordering everyone not to make a fuss of it. How else will she get attention? Making a big deal about your own 18th birthday is just sooo cliché!

So at her party, that the Cullen's insist on throwing, she slices her hand open on some paper and Jasper, the crazy-eyed Cullen brother, tries to have her for dinner. Edward over reacts, as always, and uproots his whole family to protect Bella from the danger the Cullen's pose to her. A big dramatic break-up scene in the woods, and Bella is left catatonic, curled up on the cold hard forest grounds. Meanwhile Charlie, Bella's dad, is all worried and has the whole town searching for his little girl. Enter the incredibly buff, incredibly smokin' Sam, a Quilete boy, and alphawolf, who finds her and carries her home to safety.

The next few scenes are of a still catatonic Bella sitting by the window and letting the months pass her by because she has no self respect and judges her worth by a boy.

And then Jacob Black reappears brandishing a sexy new haircut and the ability to morph into a mythical creature while not wearing a shirt (yumm!)

Then somewhere along the movie she discovers her newfound adrenaline junkie-ness, because it gives her visions of her beloved Edward, and does crazy stuff like riding motorcycles and jumping off cliffs. Ofcourse, Edward finds out about this and thinks Bella is dead and decides to kill himself as he cannot live without her (oh please!). So then, Bella and Alice go to Italy where the Volturi (Vampire Royalty) are to stop him from sparkling.

You gotta watch it to find out the rest!

The movie stayed true to the book, as director Chris Weitz (American Pie, The Golden Compass) had promised to do. But was it good?

In this writer's opinion, it was boring with a capital B.
K. Stew and Robbie P.'s mumbling and staring moodily into the camera got really old really fast. Granted it had its share of eye candy running around the screen, but is that really enough?

Maybe the casting crew might actually think about hiring, GASP, actors next time?
The werewolves, however, delivered. Taylor Lautner was actually able to bring his character to life and had more than just the one expression of pain that his fellow cast members seemed to be sporting.

Team Jacob 1, Team Edward 0.
Kudos to script-writer Melissa Rosenberg and director Chris Weitz though. They manage to make the film better than the original 'Twilight', this one being visually far better than the last one. Rosenberg does her best to rationalize Stephanie Meyer's tangled novel, and anyone who has read the author's work knows that THAT is a mission that would drive a writer of weaker spirit into voluntary commitment at the nearest mental institution. She also nicely maneuvers around the fact that Edward is absent from the majority of the story by having him appear periodically as a dreamy apparition. Smart move Mel! You can't have a twilight movie without your vampire poster boy/breadwinner! How would tickets ever sell?

The movie wasn't all bad! It did have its share of Pros. Ok no, three pros. It had a great soundtrack with red hot indie bands like OK GO, Muse, The Killers, Death Cab For Cutie etc. It also had, as stated earlier, ripped half-naked Quilete werewolves running around. Robbert Pattinson didn't hurt either. And for the menfolk, there was Ashley Greene and red-eyed, killer-vampire Dakota Fanning.

Even K.Stew looked pretty hot in some parts of the movie! Last of all there was the supporting cast of the dude who played Carlisle, the Volturi Vampires and the Quilete elders.

The twi-hards are gonna lap it up though. They just can't seem to get enough of lipstick wearing vampires and a mopey, depressed, skanky Bella who is, one minute all over Jacob and the next lusting over a hundred year old Vampire.

It's easy to call 'New Moon' an improvement over 'Twilight', since the preceding film was pretty awful. Maybe in six months, when 'Eclipse' is released with a new director, the series will finally realize its potential?

Here's hoping that David Slade does a better job.


Music Review

Owl City

By Sabrina F Ahmad

With "Fireflies" hitting the #1 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, Owl City's come a long way from one young boy (pun unintended) and his attempts to cure insomnia by tinkering with music in his parents' basement. Pretty much consisting of vocalist Adam Young and his back-up band, this American synthpop musical project hit the limelight with "Ocean Eyes", their major-label debut album, picking up as many critics as fans along the way.

Fans call this MySpace favourite "ear candy", and that's certainly an apt description. Whether we're talking 'Strawberry Avalanche" (a 2009 one-off single) or "Vanilla Twilight" (another single from Ocean Eyes), the music is funky, trippy, and utterly sweet. With influences from disco, European electronic music, J-pop and New Wave, the resultant sound has all the effect of Froot Loops eaten without the milk. And just like sugar-rich snacks, the best way to enjoy this band is in small doses, or you'll end up in sugar shock. The distinctive electronic sounds both work for and against the music; heard separately as random singles on a playlist full of other genres, they're an instant pick-me-up. The whole album at one go, however, might feel a little repetitive, a complaint put forward by many of the band's naysayers. Another point of contention that Owl City's critics have is their apparent similarity to The Postal Service. Isaiah Smallman even goes so far to say "Young's and Gibbard's (lead vocalist of The Postal Service) voices, the drum beats and the melodies all sound extremely similar. It sounds like it could be Ben Gibbard trying to get through some writer's block." Adam Young himself has listed Imogen Heap (evidence of this can be found in the lyrics), Reliant K, and Armin Van Buuren as sources of musical inspiration, and in response to the Postal Service references, says "Since no one has done anything quite like it [Postal Service], it's almost like everyone is naturally saying this is the next step maybe that's me, maybe that's this record [Ocean Eyes]." Yours truly feels that perhaps bands like Daft Punk and HelloGoodbye are closer to the fun feel of the music.

Going hand in hand with the cutesy music are the lyrics which are wacky and zany, full of sunny metaphors for whatever the chief emotion of the song may be. Consider "Super Honeymoon" from their earlier, unsigned album "Maybe I'm dreaming", where Young belts out "We played golf on the moon, and tennis on the sun" to talk about the euphoria of spring love, or a more mellow, nostalgic "Vanilla Twilight" where 'The silence isn't so bad, till I look at my hands and feel sad/ 'cause the spaces between my fingers are right where yours fit perfectly". Aww.

With three fairly successful albums, "Of June" (2007), "Maybe I'm Dreaming" (2008), and of course, the hugely popular "Ocean Eyes" (2009) under their belt, Owl City has carved its own niche in the synthpop scene. If you're looking for some easy listening and feel good music, don't forget to give them a try.

Anime Review

Rurouni Kenshin: The Motion Picture
(Requiem for the Patriots)

By Kokoro-chan

Studio Gallop/Sony pictures Ent.
Rating: 13+

“I thought I was fighting a war that would be the end of all wars…The only things that have changed are the battlefields. The sorrow I feel is still the same. I'm tired of carrying it” -Himura Kenshin, the legendary Hitokiri battousai

In stressful times of chaos and unrest, wounded pride and lost beliefs tear away at the hearts of the most valiant of men. Some changes, although crucial, are not necessarily welcomed by all. And as the ghosts of the past continue to haunt the present, history repeats itself with its ever-winding tales of love and betrayal. Life or death- the choice for 'the path of atonement' is indeed an intriguing one.

This reviewer's first encounter with RK: The Motion Picture was a few years back when they were airing the movie on AXN. Ah, AXN used to be so good back in those days. But day-drooling aside, anybody who has ever seen a single RK episode knows that the series is easily a top-ranking all-time-favourite in the regular animaniac's list of really good anime.

For the uninformed, RK is the tale of Himura Kenshin, a notorious assassin during the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, who vowed to atone for his sins by protecting the innocent. The motion picture picks itself from this main storyline and unravels into yet another tragic episode of the wandering samurai's life.

The movie, unlike the first OVA Tsuiokuhen (previously reviewed by Lancer-san in RS), is more of a sequel that is bound to induce mixed feelings into the viewer. While Tsuiokuhen was worth falling in love with, considering both plot and artwork, Requiem follows the original animation style of the TV series (Samurai X: still airing Thursdays 2.30 pm on BTV). It is a 90 minute-long ride into the world of shrewd political chess, deep-set characters, subtle romance and of course, some really insane aerodynamic display aka sword-fights. Although some critics found the usage of out-of-date action scenes and repetitive impacts a little irritating, it's still fun to watch. What's actually irksome is probably the role of women in this movie: sideliners who do nothing but tremble and cry. The men are awesome, of course: from the cool and serious Takimi Shigure to the maniacal villain Baron Tamono. But what's new about that? (wink)

Rifles Square is rumoured to have a DVD collection that includes Tsuiokuhen, Requiem and Animatrix, but the English dubs may get on your nerves. Nevertheless, Requiem is still worth checking out, as far as quality entertainment is concerned.

(Comments are welcome at tomokaal@gmail.com)


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