Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rango (2011)

Amid all the action & thrill this year, Nickelodeon Movies set the right chord with Rango. However this fun crammed ride is not just for young people alone; adults too will get their share of entertainment & should definitely be surcharged with rich color filled 2-D animation. Even with predictable plot & references from the western classic, Rango still upholds its true spirit with great triumph.

Meet Rango, a fantasizing pet chameleon living in a glass box enclosure. When his home falls off his owner’s car due to miscalculated driving, he gets stranded in Mojave Desert. After befriending an armadillo named Roadkill who was in search of a mystical spirit, Rango barely escapes from being eaten by a big hawk. Soon he makes his way towards ‘The Town Of Dirt’; a wild west settlement. He finds himself well matched among various talking animals. After being lucky in finishing off the same hawk which had also been terrorizing the town, the turtle mayor appoints Rango as the new sheriff. Trouble does not end here, it is soon realized that the town is suffering from an acute water shortage & without it, anarchy will set loose. It befalls upon Rango to find a way to end the predicament. There also seems to be a hidden agenda among some unknown sect who seemed desperately trying to drain the settlement dry. Will Rango be able to purge the crisis? I will leave the rest for you to enjoy.

Voice over by Johnny Depp as Rango proved that he was meant for this role, spicing with hilarious moments. Isla Fisher as Beans & Rango’s love interest helped to lighten the moments whenever things turned murky. With great animation & cinematography Rango proves to be an absolute visual feat. Take a break from your daily chores & make sure you take your family to watch this movie, I am sure everyone will enjoy it irrespective of age.

My Rating : 7.5/10

Monday, April 18, 2011

Battle : Los Angeles (2011)

Whether you like it or not Battle Los Angeles fairs better than the disastrous Skyline. Even though there lays an inherent appreciation for the action depicted within the movie, in general the story fails to engage. Looking forward to character development was way too far fetched; still it was required to break the momentum of continuous fire fights. Battle L.A. works well as a war movie but placing it among the science fiction genre is an insult to the fraternity. Being the first movie on alien invasion this year I was anticipating it to be better if not good. Regrettably, this movie narrows to dumb down experience. Enough explosions try to keep the surreal plot under control before everything falls apart.

Prologue starts with news footage detailing about a world wide meteor shower which seems to slow down once it enters the earth’s atmosphere. It doesn’t take time to realize from the newsreel that the world was under attack from an unknown alien race; their intension was to wipe out the indigenous population before they started colonization. When aliens start amassing off the coast of Santa Monica, divisions of marines get mobilized. We are introduced to Marine Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz who was about to retire gets reassigned to a new platoon. Once flown to the forward operating base they are instructed to help in evacuating trapped civilians at a nearby police station within the alien controlled territory. To make matter worse they get three hours before the Air Force started barrage on the infested zone. What follows from there is what this movie is all about.

Jonathan Liebesman doesn’t waste time with sub plots or character development. He takes us directly into action which would gratify hardcore action junkies. Aaron Eckhart as Staff Sergeant Nantz tries to deliver from overly stripped script; surprisingly the rest of the casts try to keep up with Eckhart’s performance. Nothing much is told about the extra terrestrial invaders & with shaky camera they too are kept silhouetted & distant. Couple of known faces likes Michael Pena & Bridget Moynahan serves right in their undemanding roles while the remaining casts blur altogether. Putting aside the explosive action there is nothing much for us to figure out. For those who are only interested in witnessing the visceral carnage this movie has to offer, Battle Los Angeles aptly suits; rest of you can skip it without remorse.

My Rating : 5/10

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Crysis ~ A Gaming Phenomena

Ever since the launch of Crysis in 2007, gaming industry witnessed the dawn of pioneering graphics engine which soon became a trend-setter. Of course by that time Crytek had established itself as a prominent player in the industry with its successful launch of Far Cry; one of the best FPS (First Person Shooter) game ever. Developed on CryEngine 2 Crysis was not just a visual feat but a gaming phenomenon. Its engaging story & pacing made it even more special. This is a kind of game which you would like to show your family & friends.

The story in Crysis begins in 2020 when a team of American archeologists send out a distress call from a fictional Lingshan Island, near the coast of East Philippines. The signal also indicates about a breakthrough of something bizarre which might bring radical change to the entire world. When North Korean forces take control of the island; U.S. Army Delta Force dispatches its Raptor Team to locate & evacuate the American hostages. In game you will assume the role of First Lieutenant Jake Dunn a.k.a Nomad; one of the operator of the five men Raptor Team under the leadership of Major Laurence Barnes codenamed Prophet. As your team starts exploring the island you will soon realize that other than the presence of Korean forces there is another foreign entity which is far more lethal & beyond comprehension.

The enticing part in this game is the Nano Suit; a futuristic military outfit capable of providing extra strength, armour, speed & cloak. However all these features are drawn from the suit’s energy & when it gets depleted the player gets more susceptible to attacks & damages. Real time customization of weapons within the game makes the experience even more challenging. Once you set foot within the game, take some time to appreciate the graphics. This is one of the best looking games I have played till date. Impressive visuals & great texture sets the bar even higher for all the future games. Change of environment from lush green vegetation to zero gravity alien structure keeps the momentum well balanced. The enemy A.I. has been substantially improved over its predecessor Far Cry.

Before you can enjoy the world of Crysis make sure that your rig is capable of running this game. The system requirements are quite high & any mid level system will just bleed dry.

After the grand de tour with Crysis, Crytek presented us with even more action. Released in 2008 Crysis Warhead serves as an expansion pack to its original story. The timeline in Warhead runs parallel to that of Nomad’s, our earlier protagonist in Crysis. The player assumes the role of Sergeant Michael Sykes codenamed Psycho, a former British SAS operative who became the member of the newly formed Raptor Team. Once again you will require the Nano Suit technology which will provide you super human abilities to survive the hostile environment of Lingshan Island. Warhead is more action oriented & the story is far more coherent than it’s original. Single player campaign is tight while open environment offers each player to take a different approach to finish the game.

After a long wait, Crysis 2 finally made it. Being the most anticipated game of 2011, everyone had been fervently waiting for its release in late March.
Crysis 2 follows the story three years after the events of the first game. The entire campaign takes place within the ruins of New York City. The game begins with news footage detailing a bio-disaster caused by an outbreak of ‘Manhattan’ virus which causes complete cellular breakdown. Biohazard resulted to total anarchy among the civil population. News about alien invasion brought the city admin to complete halt. Social disorder initiated the activation of Martial Law within greater New York under the umbrella of privately funded Military Corporation run by CryNet. Once the game starts, the player assumes the role of U.S. Recon Marine codenamed Alcatraz. When the player becomes the only survivor of a failed insertion in New York City by a submarine USS Nautilus, Major Laurence a.k.a Prophet (whom we have met earlier in Crysis) saves Alcatraz. Being infected with the virus himself, Prophet decides to sacrifice self in order to provide ownership of the Nano Suit to Alcatraz.

Since CryNet Corporation was trying to hunt down Prophet for being infected, as soon as you assume the role in the Nanosuit you become the new target. Other than fighting horde of alien race Ceph, you will still have to make a stand against the private army of CryNet.

As informed earlier by Crytek about the newly designed Nanosuit 2.0, it provides us more freedom for upgrade & simultaneous use whenever required. Enhanced time before power drain offers flexibility to switch in between multiple modes. Developed on heavily modified CryEngine 3, Crysis 2 is the best looking game in the market, today. System requirements have been substantially brought down so that it can be enjoyed by many gamers who have had trouble with its forerunners. The story might be a bit confusing for those who have not played its earlier titles, as the direct link to the original has been kept minimal.

Crysis 2 offers tough A.I., if you are playing at moderate difficulty you will need to strategize your move before getting into action with guns blazing. This is a beautiful game & will keep you engrossed for hours. Even if you are not an avid gamer you will still be awe stuck with whatever the world of Crysis has to offer.

Note : Crysis & Crysis WARHEAD are available in PC format only.

          Crysis 2 is available in following formats : PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Overall Rating : 9/10

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

What is it that makes us more human when compared with synthetic intelligence? Is it the essence of mere flesh & blood or is it the soul which really defines us. Perhaps it is way too multifaceted to talk about; if such idea can be turned to a vision in the light of movie making it becomes rather unique or too tricky to comprehend. Today, Steven Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence is one of the most underrated movies in the science fiction genre. Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey had a similar providence when it was first screened in 1968. Apart from rich visuals this movie deals with an idea which is not singular in today’s world; what makes it more inimitable & personal is the depth of rational approach seamlessly blended with science fiction.

“But in the beginning, didn’t God create Adam to love him?” ~ Prof. Allen Hobby

At the very beginning we are told that global warming has caused the melting of the polar ice caps. With most of the coastline cities under water, human population too has taken its toll. To substitute the retreating humanity; Cybertronics, a leading android manufacturer introduced ‘Mechas’ a new type of humanoid androids capable of emulating emotions. Meet David, a small robotic boy & the first android ever programmed to feel & love back. As an audition he was sent as a surrogate for the distraught couple Henry Swinton & his wife Monica who had their son Martin cryogenically frozen until a cure was found for his terminal illness. At first the thought of bringing a robot as a substitute for a son infuriated Monica however David’s innocence & unrestricted love finally lets her to open up & reciprocate. When Martin comes home after being cured a sibling jealousy gets ensued which leads to a tragedy leading Monica to abandon David in a forest instead of handing him to Cybertronics for destruction.

“They made us too smart, too quick & too many. We suffer for their mistakes because when the end comes…all that will be left is us!” ~ Gigolo Joe

From here the film portrays the journey made by David to find a place in a society ravaged by hate by some sect who considered ‘Mechas’ as an abomination & tried to eliminate them systematically at ‘Flesh Fair’. This movie ventures into the world of human psyche to recognize who are more humane us or the so called artificial intelligence. The foundation of any drama depends on the relation within the characters.
David’s desire to reunite with Monica till the very end takes this movie more towards spiritual than metaphysical heights.

As always the story alone cannot make or break a movie. Haley Joel Osment as David put forth another dazzling performance since The Sixth Sense. Jude Law as Gigolo Joe flared the second half, even-handed by William Hurt as Professor Allen Hobby & Frances O’Connor as Monica Swinton. With poignant soundtrack Artificial Intelligence is audacious, thought provoking & visually brilliant. No movie has ever explored the worlds of robots & humans so extensively.

My Rating : 9/10