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April 19, 2004 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-19

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 19, 2004

ARTS

el

I

That's the
last time
they get
away with
making fun
of my
black suit.

Near. Far. Wherevver you are. You are safe in my heart and my heart will go on.
Stereolab moves on
after singer's death

CurJItesy o01ArisandI

CAPITAL PUNISHMEN
GRITTY COMIC FAVORITE FLOPS ON THE SILVER SCREEN

By-FreCaey
Daily Arts Writer
The comeback tour has always held
a place of high honor in the live con-
cert canon. There is something almost
heroic about a band uniting after
some catastrophe to play a coura-
geous, if standard, show.

By Zach Mabee
Daily Film Editor

At the end of Jonathan Hensleigh's adaptation
of "The Punisher," Frank Castle utters that only
the scum of society - murderers, rapists and
sadists - will remember him. He's probably
right. Only such twisted fiends would care to

remember this shoddy
retelling of the classic
revenge tale that offers little
more than sparse, satisfying
doses of comic violence.
Frank Castle (Thomas
Jane, "Dreamcatcher") is a
retired special ops soldier
working as one of the FBI's

The
Punisher
At Quality 16,
Showcase and
Madstone
Artisan

Castle's unit. Saint sends his squadron of goons
to the Castle family reunion in Puerto Rico.
They indiscriminately gun down the Castle clan,
leaving all, including Frank, for dead.
A local medicine man fortuitously rescues
Castle and nurses the soldier back to health.
Frank returns to the United States, compiles a
frighteningly large weapons cache, establishes a
base of operations in a derelict, urban apartment
and proceeds to punish the scum who massacred
his family.
It's not clear, until perhaps the concluding
scenes, what the intended mood of "The Punish-
er" is. At times, it seems to be an attempted
neo-noir, with overwhelmingly dark scenes and
and melodramatic sounds. It also comes across,
though, as a playful action trip, looking in jest
at Castle's various confrontations with villain-
ous henchmen. The serious, rough dialogue is
punctuated with hackneyed, unoriginal one-lin-
ers, contributing even more to this general dis-
continuity.
Thomas Jane is, moreover, an annoying, ulti-
mately frustrating action hero. He's got the phys-
ical features and grizzled look to make the part
work, but his personality - and his excessively

rough voice, too - cripple the role. Jane comes
across as manufactured. He has the necessary
parts to play the role well, that is, but he's
unable to bring them together in a remotely con-
vincing way.
John Travolta, as should be expected, brings
little to the table as Howard Saint. It's as though
the villain is two different, irreconcilable peo-
ple: Most of the time, he's a mischievous banker
who casually launders money and protects his
wife more than he should; occasionally, howev-
er, he's an impulsive maniac who kills thought-
lessly. It's rather hard to believe that these
personalities could emerge so suddenly from the
same man.
The scenes of action are, indeed, the film's
sole redeeming quality. Castle brandishes a slew
of lethal weapons - including military-grade
machine guns and explosives - and employs
them in surprisingly creative ways. He takes out
one crony with an innovative, projectile switch-
blade and splits the skull of another with the dull
edge of an office-grade paper cutter. It's a shame
that Hensleigh and Jane couldn't supplement the
action with a story and lead character worthy of
its company.

The catastrophe
British prog-rock
band Stereolab was
the death of co-
vocalist Mary
Hansen in 2002.
While riding her

in question for
Stereolab
Saturday, April 10
At the Majestic

their set list long and enjoyable.
The style of many songs involves
an abrupt shift from Laetitia Sadier's
soft and poignant vocals to an inter-
esting electro-fueled mess of instru-
mentals. This style gave Sadier a
chance to play catchy trombone
scales, a pleasing break from the
cacophony. It also gave the crowd an
opportunity to reflect on the flashy
visuals playing behind the band. It
seemed outwardly ironic that the
seven instrumentalists on stage creat-,
ing all of the music were so cohesive.
All of the solos in the middle of this
mess did not seem out of place,
regardless of whether they were
played on a French horn or a Rhodes

a

premier undercover operatives; his career,
though, is coming to a close. After completing
his final assignment for the FBI, he plans to set-
tle down with his wife and child.
Castle's plans are foiled, however, when fraud-
ulent financier Howard Saint seeks vengeance
for his dead son - who died at the hands of

bicycle, Hansen was hit by a truck, keyboard. Added up, the band pro-
leaving the dynamic dual vocals of duced music to push the limits of
Stereolab permanently sliced in half. electro-pop.
Even if it has been done before, the The crowd, in return, seemed to be
comeback of a band missing a singer very respectful of the band, cheering
is rarely handled perfectly. It is a when Stereolab did play their "hits,"
genre-spanning aphorism that bands "Lo Boob Oscillator" and "Cybele's-
cannot survive the loss of a lead Reverie." The audience danced
singer and remain the same band. euphorically to the prolonged instru-
Stereolab's loss was a significant blow mentation and didn't laugh when
and their current world tour is a cru- Sadier tried to do "the robot." All of
cial point for the young group. the commotion around Hansen's death
In sensitivity to their recent loss; -and the resulting limit in Sterebls
Stereolab's April 10 show at the set list made it all the more cathartic
Majestic Theater in Detroit centered to hear those classic songs, even if
on their latestTeease;. Margerine pitheyi shfitly bittersweSeuar i
Eclipse. While it was disappointing Stereolab showed their strength by
not to hear more from Stereolab's cre- playing an incredibly sober, immense-
ative earlier years, it was obvious that ly enjoyable show after the death of
the band put forth the effort to make such an important member.

Latest Recon' mission a poorly constructed mess

By Jason Roberts
Daily Arts Editor
VIDEOGAMErE W
If the latest installment in Tom
Clancy's never-ending chronicle of
military-influenced videogames,
"Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm," is any

indication of the
plans on taking
the franchise, it
seems that it's
about time to
head back to the
drawing board.
Unfortunately, a
series with so
much initial

direction Ubisoft
Ghost
Recon:
Jungle
Storm
PS2
Ubisoft

vary from simple assaults to more
difficult reconnaissance and rescue
operations.
The gameplay is where "Jungle
Storm" truly succeeds. With mis-
sions that are less realistic but more
direct and boasting simplified con-
trols, "Jungle Storm" is easier to get
into than those games that share a
similar theme, such as Sony's
"Socom II: U.S. Navy Seals."
Novices to the genre can be complet-
ing missions almost immediately
while advanced gamers can fully
exploit the control system to their
own advantage, setting up diverse
strategies of engagement and attack.
"Jungle Storm" is also a game that
prides itself on using stealth over
blistering action. Gainers who blaze
out into open territory are more like-
ly to miss easy shots and will get
gunned down a lot faster than those
who plot their moves carefully and
slink through the underbrush. It's
here where the game shows the bene-
fits of being reworked and refined
over time.
Where "Jungle Storm" falters,
however, is when it comes to its actu-
al presentation. Though the gameplay
has been ironed out throughout the
transitions, the graphics have
remained pretty much untouched.
Generally, the visuals are blocky and

potential and drive has failed to
evolve.
Recollections of the original PC
version of "Ghost Recon" back in
2002 reveal a taut, stealthy adven-
ture of cat-and-mouse. The game
played similarly to another Clancy
namesake, "Rainbow Six," and, in
that respect, "Jungle Storm" is still a
pleasant distraction. Gamers are put
into the shoes of a team of up to six
military specialists called the
Ghosts. With each character
assigned a different task - snipers,
riflemen, support and demolition -
the Ghosts are given missions that

PIECES OF APRIL
MGM
The witty, yet dark "Pieces of
April" proves that there is life after
TV drama for actress Katie
Holmes. The ex-"Dawson's Creek"
star takes on a more mature role as
an urban 21-year-old named April,
on a mission to host Thanksgiving
dinner for her family. While April
frantically tries to find an oven to
cook the turkey, her family makes
their way from Pennsylvania to the
lower east side of New York City.
The narrative is touching and
funny but also taps into deeper sto-
ries surrounding a mother's (Patri-
cia Clarkson, Oscar-nominated for
her performance) battle with
breast cancer and years of family
dysfunction.
"Pieces of April" is brief at 80
minutes and is presented on DVD
in both widescreen and full frame
format. Shot with digital video, the
picture quality is well suited for

SHORT

TAKES

the story it displays and the 5.1
digital surround sound allows for a
crisp portrayal of the real life
sounds of Thanksgiving.
Though the DVD offers only
two extra features, they provide
insight into all aspects of the film.
The audio commentary from soft-
spoken writer-director Peter
Hedges explains interesting details
about casting, shooting the film in
16 days and his personal incentives
for many scenes. A 15-minute fea-
turette entitled "All Pieces Togeth-
er" retells much of the story but
also allows actors to express their
views on the film and provides
some on-set footage. The music
and graphics of this feature are
especially attractive.
- Katie Marie Gates

Courtesy of Ubisoft

All you have to do Is duck and cover.
poorly rendered with textures
appearing smeared and pixilated.
Strangely, load times are surprising
long for levels with surprisingly sim-
ple geometries. Character animations
and artificial intelligence are terrible,
resulting in stuttering movement and
predictable enemies that have trouble
navigating levels without walking
into obstructions. A game that prides
itself on stealth and realism should

ask more from the capabilities of its
engine and seek a much more engag-
ing realm in which to play.
It would be nice to see the "Ghost
Recon" moniker retired with this
title. It's had a fine run, but Ubisoft
either needs to rework the game to
bring it up to speed with the other
games of its genre or they need to be
looking to a new Tom Clancy adven-
ture for inspiration.

Movie: ****
Picture/Sound: ***
Features: **

Phish frontman flounders with Seis

I believe in Mr. Grieves

By Jared Newman
Daily Arts Writer
MUSIC REVIEW *1
Phish frontman Trey Anastasio's
latest solo effort, Seis De Mayo, is a
mish-mash of African rhythmic
tunes, string quartet compositions
and fully orchestrated pieces that
combine to form a measly seven-
track album. But here's the kicker:
five of those tracks are reworked

blessing and a curse. On the one
hand, there is the string quartet
arrangement of Phish's "All Things
Reconsidered." The shrill and awk-
wardly timed strings add new
insight to the song, beginning with
blissful harmony and slowly transi-
tioning to brutal cacophony. But
then there are songs like "The Inlaw
Josie Wales," which sounds nearly
identical to Phish's version with the
exception of some added strings.
This conjures little emotion except
for a yearning to hear the original.
Contrasted with orchestral works
like these, the two beat-heavy (and

versions of Phish
songs. That's
quite a lure for

Trey

,I

,

f 1 .t xT t7___ l_

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