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December 13, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I

Monday
December 13, 2004
arts. michigandaily. com
artspage @michigandaily.com

LRTS rul

8A

. .......... . . . . . . ... .. . ....................... . .....

Street
racer
brings
adventure
By Zach Borden
Daily Arts Writer

A

Ever since the film "The Fast and
The Furious" was a surprise hit at
the box office in the summer of 2001,
car customization has become a cul-
tural phenomenon. Though the idea
of "tricking out" a vehicle is not a
new concept, what else could explain
the popularity of Xzibit's MTV show
"Pimp My Ride,"
and the sudden
splurge of street Need for
racing games? Speed
With the Underground 2
release of "Need P2, Xbox, PC
For Speed and GameCube
Underground
2," EA Games EA Games
seems dedicated
to having the premier franchise for
racing fans who love dubs on their
cars. Unfortunately, this sequel isn't
a completely smooth ride.
The game revolves around the
typical story mode, complete with a
cliche-ridden plot told through medi-
ocre cut scenes and comic book pan-
els that feature the usual stereotypes
- rival gangs, hot girls and fast cars.
The story mode is pretty nonlinear,
and even though there is a "Grand
Theft Auto" inspired map to instruct
players where to go, at times it's often
frustrating to find certain areas or
exact racing locations. Also disap-
pointing is that players don't have
access to souped-up cars and specific
customizable parts until they get into
the thick of the plot.
Those who stick out the story mode
will find the experience well worth
playing when it comes to gaining
parts, as customizing a car is argu-
ably the best part of the game. The
amount of work a player can put into
creating a car is truly astounding.
Other than technical aspects, it's easy
to lose hours putting on side windows,
finding the right vinyls, choosing the
perfect body paint or even selecting
the coolest hood.
For the more casual gamer, standard
racing modes are included. As for multi-
player, gamers can compete against their
friends or use the basic online options
(except with the GameCube version).
Racing online is certainly enjoyable, but
in comparison to other online racers and
what "Underground 2" offers offline, the
developers certainly could have done
more. For example, giving players the
ability to trade customized cars online
would have been a nice feature.
Graphically, "Need For Speed Under-
ground 2" looks particularly sharp and
colorful. The courses are filled with
tremendous detail and the frame rate is
smooth and consistent. The game also
gives off a strong sense of speed to boot.
However, there are rather obnoxious
crash sequences - played out in ter-
rible slow-motion - that get old really
fast. The game also features a fine, if
unmemorable, hip-hop soundtrack. The
sound effects certainly shine though,
especially when cars skid, rev up and
go way over the speed limit. As far as
control, the cars are easy to handle and
response is tight.
Ultimately, "Need For Speed
Underground 2" has several flaws
and it takes a while to really enjoy
what the story mode has to offer. But
those who like a good arcade racer
with an urban twist will probably get
the most out of the game. The little
things certainly go a long way here
- such as the amount of car cus-
tomization - but when it comes to
overall gameplay mechanics, EA still
has numerous potholes to overcome
before the company can truly estab-
lish themselves as king of the road.

I

Courtesy or Warner Bros.

The first rule of Fight Club is don't appear in whack sequels.

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

MEDIOCRE

SEQUEL MAKES AUDIENCES SEASICK

By Zach Borden
Daily Arts Writer

MOVIE REVIEW
In the past few years, it has been hard not
to notice just how obsessed Hollywood has
become with remakes. Steven Soderbergh's
update of the 1960 Rat Pack original "Ocean's
Eleven" stood out from the crowd. Soderbergh
and an all-star cast, crafted a heist film that
was clever and boister-
ous. Given the worldwide
success of that remake, Ocean's
a sequel seemed like an Twelve
inevitable prospect. At Showcase
Picking up three years and Quality 16
after the successful Bel- Warner Bros.
lagio heist, Danny Ocean
(George Clooney) and his
team of thieves are all enjoying the good life
in different parts of the world. But when Bel-
lagio owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia)
comes knocking on all their doors demanding
his money back - complete with interest -
within two weeks, the group reunites to pull
off three schemes in Europe. Adding to their
troubles is a Europol agent (Catherine Zeta-
Jones) who was once romantically involved

with Ocean's right-hand man Rusty (Brad
Pitt), and a smarmy, mysterious thief known
as The Night Fox (Vincent Cassel, "Brother-
hood Of The Wolf") who challenges Ocean to
a thieving contest.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that
"Ocean's Twelve" feels like a rush job. Shot
this summer using an existing script by
George Nolfi that was tailored for the produc-
tion, "Ocean's Twelve" comes across as yet
another pointless sequel, but with an extra
dose of smugness. A few moments entertain,
but as a whole the film is not markedly amus-
ing. When it comes to plot, the first movie
wisely made the central heist a filling main
course, but the smaller heists in this sequel
are easy-to-devour side dishes that do nothing
to fill up the appetite.
Unfortunately, Soderbergh disappoints
again. He crams in enough conflict and char-
acters for two movies and haphazardly loses
the film's focus. The film's final half-hour
becomes especially convoluted and over the
top. Soderbergh clearly intends to make the
movie a race against time, but much of the
thrill involving the countdown is undermined
because Benedict's presence is not really felt
in the story. Brief conversations about how
much time is left to raise the money they owe

is a cheap way of showing that there is trouble
at hand.
In the sequel, most of the 11 are reduced
to mere cameo roles and aren't really given
anything to do (the lack of Bernie Mac is cer-
tainly a serious mistake). Not that the char-
acters were three-dimensional to begin with,
but with the exception of giving Rusty a love
interest, nothing new is brought to the rest of
the players this time around. In fact, the first
film is required viewing for those who actu-
ally want to know more about the characters.
Barely any of their specific traits or quirky
personalities get a chance to shine through
in the sequel. Also flawed is an inside joke
involving Julia Roberts, which is cute at first
but becomes rather tiresome.
Early on in "Ocean's Twelve," actor Topher
Grace ("That 70s Show") - once again play-
ing an obnoxious facsimile of himself -
remarks to Rusty that he "totally phoned in"
a movie role. The piece of dialogue is rather
ironic, as Grace flawlessly sums up what
Soderbergh, Clooney and company have done
with this follow-up. Hopefully, the principles
of the production are triskaidekaphobic (fear
of the number 13) - making an "Ocean's
Thirteen" is certainly a job they wouldn't be
able to pull off.

Infantile raps, awful
beats mar Cam'Ron LP

Donkey Punch alumni
return to the Blind Pig

By Evan McGarvey
Daily Arts Writer

With raps that merely repeat the
same 20 monosyllabic words and with
a sense of word-
play dumb enough
to think up come- Cam'Ron
ons like, "put your Purple Haze
meat on my stick
like shish kabob," Roc-A-Fella
Cam'Ron might
be the one man most responsible for
trying to put some extra nails into the
coffin of major label hip-hop.
Cam'Ron first blipped onto the radar
screen in the summer of 2002 with two
sweetly disposable singles: "Hey Ma,"
and the admittedly catchy, Just Blaze-
produced, "Oh Boy." Backed by these

small successes he used his leverage
to start his own label, Diplomats, and
introduce the rap world to such pure
abominations as Juelz Santana.
Purple Haze, his newest release, is
bloated with skits, full of guest appear-
ances so sour they seem to fester with
each additional listen and coated with
a saccharine production sound akin to
being pummeled with large pieces of
rock candy.
But the final straw, the heinous
act that sinks lower than all the
other detritus on Purple Haze, is
Cam'Ron's trite, idiotic vocal style.
In no time, past or present, will, "I
leave you hole-y/ you'll say 'holy
moley' " constitute a threat or boast.
Cam'Ron is illiterate, nonthreatening
and deliriously outdated.
What's more, Cam believes his raps
have a real sense of ingenuity. Each

By Steve Cotner
Daily Arts Writer
CONCERT REVIEW
On a cold December night, when the
weather couldn't decide whether to rain
or snow, May or May Not warmed Ann
Arbor with the unequivocal sounds of
summer. The Chicago-based band con-

song is the same formula: oral sex,
rattling off endless labels of top class
liquor and finding new and complex
rhymes that involve words most of us
mastered in the second grade. This is
the kind of album that makes under-
ground hip-hop fans retreat deeper
into the earth; this is the foulness that
makes our generation's parents believe
all rap music is sub-human. In short,
Purple Haze might be the worst thing
to happen to the hip-hop world since
the VIBE awards.

sisting of three for-
mer members of
popular Ann Arbor
band Donkey Punch
and two other musi-
cians played to a
mix of former fans

May or
May Not
At the Blind Pig

and newcomers at the Blind Pig on Friday
night. By the end of their set, even icy 30-
somethings were yelling for more.
May or May Not are an unabash-
edly happy affair. Their pop sound has
matured from the Donkey Punch days

without losing its irreverent, wide-eyed
energy. At once youthful and nostalgic,
the band melds hypnotic and catchy key-
boards, Beach Boy harmonies, cut-to-
the-quick guitars; clowning handclaps
and bright, punchy drums into pure pop
bliss. Over all of it, the longhaired, plas-
tic-framed, cardiganed Eric Day sends
his sweet vocals and coy looks to an
enamored crowd.
The highlight of Friday night came
when Day announced, "These next four
songs are part of our space opera." True
to his word, the band launched into
its catchiest rocker, "Gotta Get Outta
Here," with its Cars-worthy guitar riffs,
stomping drums, "out of this atmo-
sphere" lyrics, and the most irrepress-
ible 6/8-time chorus on this planet. Next
came a delightfully over-the-top waltz
with shimmering guitar, vocoder key-
board and the winking verse, "In space,
there's lots of space to do whatever we
want, ever we want to do."
With four songwriters, May or May
Not can go in as many different direc-
tions, but on Friday they were consis-
tently upbeat and upfront, especially
when compared with opening act Otto
Vector, who could not decide if they
were Evanescence, No Doubt or a Euro-
house act. More than one May or May
Not member remarked on how that
band left them "so confused." In con-
trast, May or May Not seem surpris-
ingly decided about its sound. They
make straightforward pop that succeeds

4

i

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