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April 13, 2004 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-13

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 9

Not only the good guys lose in this 'Alamo'

By John Hartman
For the Daily
Just in case you had forgotten, America is awe-
And in case you need further proof, "The
Alamo" is here. Unfortunately, "The Alamo," the
story of an extremely deadly battle, is not all that
awe-inspiring. Instead, it's rather boring, and
despite the fact that it is both authentic-looking
and sounding, it feels utterly artificial.
The trouble starts where
there should not be any trouble The Alamo
- the beginning. Here, we
have gratuitous shots of dead t Quality 16,
Showcase and
bodies from the battle, and a Madstone
shot of the stern Gen. Sam Touchstone
Houston (Dennis Quaid) star-
ing at a candle. This is as deep
as it gets. From there, the film flashes backwards
one year to the beginning of the Texas revolution
(1835-1836) and meets an odd assortment of
cliche characters.
There is Jim Bowie (Jason Patric), who fought a
bear and the legendary Davy Crockett (Billy Bob
Thornton), who can leap the Mississippi River.
One keeps hoping that these characters will live up
to their legendary status, but they just do not ful-
fill. Even the great Thornton has very little to do
except set himself up for one-liners, which aren't
all that good anyway. The characters turn into cari-
catures too quickly for anyone to care about them.
The biggest caricature of all is the villainous
leader of the Mexican Army, Antonio Lopez de
Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria). He is a textbook
example of a "villain," trying so hard to be evil
that he ends up just looking silly.
One half expects him to whirl around in an arm-
chair while stroking a cat.
Regardless of the characters, the pacing is all

CuUrtesy of Midway
The basketball won't come off, man!
Midway's Ballers'
rules the streets

Curtesy of uchstoneU!I

I already told you, I can't stand it when you guys start humming the "William Tell Overture."

wrong. The movie drags on for what seems like
hours, tugging at the audience's patience. The act-
ing is fairly wooden, but the real problem is with
the script. While watching this movie, every line
and every speech a character gives feels strikingly
familiar, as if the editors cut and pasted from
other movie scripts. A nice touch during some of
the lengthier speeches given would have been to
add tumbleweeds blowing by. And yet, the actors
on screen look surprisingly riveted by the events
playing out.

The battle scenes themselves are not especially
exciting either, although they are big, booming
and patriotic. That goes for the whole movie too.
Undoubtedly, the creators of this film have good
intentions, but the result is a melodramatic mess,
not even reaching the popcorn entertainment stan-
dards of mediocre historical fare like "Pearl Har-
bor." In the end, "The Alamo" is like that history
teacher you had in high school who, despite all his
mincing around in front of the class, could not
make history fun.

By Charles Paradis
Daily Arts Writer

Move over "NBA Street," there is
a new king of the cage, and it goes
by the name of "NBA Ballers." Mid-
way's latest release features jaw-
dropping, ankle-breaking fake-outs
that would make any bailer proud, all
spectacularly animated within rich
What matters most in "Ballers" is
style. Games are typically played to
11, and you have to win two out of
three matches to advance. Players
can win without _...........
pulling many NBA Ballers
tricks, but the
character's over- PS2 and Xbox
all ranking will Midway
suffer. The more
tricks pulled, the more credits will
be earned, which the player can use
to buy special skills or items to out-
fit his crib.
"Ballers" brings the NBA fantasy
to the consoles. Gainers start as
lowly street ballers and play through
the ranks of the NBA's finest, rang-
ing from T-Mac to KG and even
Darko. Along the way, all of the
accouterments that go with stardom
are acquired, including a posse, rides
and even a mansion.
Perhaps more amazing than the
engrossing gameplay is the character
models for the more than 80 current
NBA players and legendary greats.
The familiar faces of NBA favorites
explode on the screen with lifelike
accuracy. Combine these realistic

Destroyer's Blues a masterful work of emotion

By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Writer
Who knew that a member of the
ultra-poppy, sweet and sassy, Canadi-
an supergroup The New Pornogra-
phers could make an album that's as
musically sophisticated as it is
intensely emotional? Dan Bejar, song-
smith extraordinaire and mastermind
behind Destroyer

models with the mind-blowing ani-
mations, and "Ballers" is one of the
best-looking sports games available.
Not only are the visuals superb,
but a lot of thought was put into the
sound of the game as well. The in-
game effects are humorous, and the
announcing by M.C. Supernatural
adds a little flavor to the game, as do
the jeers from the sidelines.
As good as the announcing is, if
there is one complaint to level
against the game it is that Midway
shamelessly references its other
games in the process. After a foul,
commentary such as "That's a move
that belongs in Mortal Kombat" or
"We're not playing Blitz" is likely to
be heard.
Overlooking the annoying cross
promotion, "NBA Ballers" is a must
have for any sports games fan.

and one of the D
primary New
Pornos songwrit- YO
ers, holds listen-
ers rapt with his
latest release Your Blues.

our Blues

utterly arresting.
"An Actor's Revenge" provides
momentum to the album with driv-
ing percussion and soaring back-
ground vocals, as well as one great
lyrical hook: "Boys demanding sat-
isfaction from girls - oh, you'd hate
to be a girl!" Your Blues winds down
with the song-like "What Roads"
and "Certain Things You Ought to
Know." But one of the album's most
dramatic tracks is its opener.
Bejar begins the one-man emotion-
al extravaganza that -is Your Blues
with "Notorious Lightning," an alter-
nately sensitive and bombastic explo-
sion of different moods and musical
timbres. He delivers lyrics with inten-
sity and hope: "Oh, notorious light-
ning! Yes, I had to ride you and trash
the crystal jets they kept in storage
inside you!" Low strings and synthe-
sizer swirl and jerk underneath poetry
that's part confession and part accusa-
tion and accented perfectly with tim-
pani hits. The song culminates with
Bejar, in his best David Bowie
impression, repeatedly calling out
"And someone's got to fall before
someone goes free!" Destroyer has
taken us on one hell of a journey -
and that's only the first track.

Bejar delivers his sometimes
dreamy, sometimes matter-of-fact
lyrics with the precision and flexibil-
ity of a true storyteller. Something
about the particular combination of
his words and his voice makes his
ideas all the more believable. With
lines like "Tomorrow's another day /
But it's also another mess" and
"Warm yourself by the fiery stage /
Fiery cause I lit it," Bejar is both
highly personal and universal,
appealing to listeners as individuals

Courtesy ofMerge

It's taupe.

and as members of a group.
Synthesizers abound on Your
Blues, both as beams of unreal key-
board sound and as close imitations
of brass instruments. Bejar's skillful
orchestration shows as he blends and
accents vocal lines with instrumen-
tals. The flute solo in "It's Gonna
Take an Airplane" lilts sadly against
a background of acoustic strumming

while Bejar almost whispers, "It's
gonna take an airplane to get me off
the ground / I don't blame anyone
who isn't sticking around." It's as
though he's found the perfect figure
to accompany his poetry. Bejar
expresses the same emotional idea
simultaneously with words and
music. When he creates moments
like this one, the combination is

Rap duo doesn't quite
make the grade with latest

Namco's latest for Xbox a pedestrian shooter

By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer

On paper, it all seems like it
should work. Scribble Jam winner
MC Eyedea and DMC champion DJ
Abilities are underground superstars

and have all the
trophies to prove
it. Firmly
entrenched in


between a coherent double time
flow and a casual delivery is at least
extremely impressive. Abilities's
scratching and production show
moments of skill, but are consistent-
ly underwhelming.
Throughout the album, Abilities
attempts to splice in related movie
dialogue samples that match the
song topic. Sometimes it works, but
mostly it comes off as annoying and
distracting. A song about relation-
ships uses a sample from Kevin
Smith's "Chasing Amy." Yawn.
Eyedea moves away from the
cerebral focus that wins a Scribble
Jam competition, and shifts direc-
tions toward a more bombastic
focus that is as unattractive as when
Jay-Z begs for accolades in the
mainstream. The tracks that don't
strain to pat themselves on the back

the computer
game that some
would consider
the original first-
person shooter -
an indisputably

By Forest Casey
Daily Arts Writer
Namco's latest release, "Break-
down," most resembles not "Halo,"
not "Half-Life" and not even "Golden-
eye 007," but rather "Wolfenstein 3D,"


- inexcusable in a modern shooter)
and, unfortunately, the same bland,
identical corridors. Fortunately, the
sense of elation and surprise that
"Wolfenstein 3D" so famously pre-
sented is here as well.
The highly touted feature of "Break-
down" is its mandatory use of unarmed
combat. While it is refreshing to see a
sorely underdeveloped feature of gam-
ing finally stepping to the forefront, the
presentation of the entire game in what
Namco calls "Total Immersion," is the
truly revolutionary feature of "Break-
down." The idea of seeing the main
character rummage through a guard's
dead body to find ammo, vomit into a
toilet and pay money for a soda to
replenish health is intriguing. The fact
that the game never breaks away from
the first-person perspective for cut
scenes - which makes the jarring rev-
elations in the story all the more per-
sonal -is entirely unique.
Unfortunately, revolutions are not

always perfect, and the "Total
Immersion" system shows that the
realism so frequently sought after by
game companies is frequently mun-
dane and flawed. The time taken to
buy the can of soda is frustrating
when it is repeated throughout the
entire game. The fact that a game so
bent on realism doesn't have a dual
pistols feature is just silly, and the
sci-fi story that Namco was so secre-
tive about - the discovery of a
secret alien weapon underground -
is pedestrian enough not to evoke
wonder. Financially successful video
games like "Halo" are not popular
because of realism; this goal of total
immersion is like the answer to a
question that nobody asked.
At brief and sporadic intervals in
"Breakdown," gamers can sense the
same type of creative breakthrough
that made "Wolfenstein 3D" so
exciting. That is, if you can ignore
the vomiting of the pedestrian.


role, they
the right-

move into the mundane regions of
stoner/slacker anthems that detail
how jobs stifle creativity and are
evil. If only we could all quit work
and become full-time rappers.
Like Sage Francis or Aesop Rock,
Eyedea and Abilities would do
themselves a favor to embrace their
natural leaning toward the intellec-
tual. On E & A they dumb down
their potential with B-boy rantings
and lacking production.

ground ethos that would be expected
from a pair so decorated on their
latest, E & A.
Eyedea is undeniably a talented
writer/lyricist and his ability (no
pun intended) to instantly switch

revolutionary game despite its numer-
ous flaws.
Many of the aesthetic aspects of
"Breakdown" are eerily similar to the
10-year-old "Wolfenstein 3D." It
shares the same method of eating
pieces of food to restore health, the
same deep sense of claustrophobia,
the same blocky, pixelated graphics,
the same number of weapons (four

5/ie 9erafo[ J.6ori <Sc oofofu2f c Joficy
a! o/fe Wniersity of i-(cAian ,resenls I/fe
2004 Citigroup Lecturer
The Honorable Dennis W Archer
"Why Public Service Matters"
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
n o 4:00 p.m.R
Pendleton Room, Michigan Union

Craig Barrett
Chief Executive Officer, Intel Corporation


World of Digital

Wednesday, April 14, 2004, 4 p.m.
Dorothy L. and Harry E. Chesebrough Auditorium
Chrysler Center
North Campus, University of Michigan

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