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December 14, 2004 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-14

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 11

'GTA' box set compiles
eclectic tribute to '90s

By Forest Casey
Daily Arts Writer

After the breakout success of "Grand
Theft Auto III," Rockstar Games finally
had enough clout to create the type of
soundtrack befitting of such a cinematic
game. No longer would Rockstar have

to rely upon deeply
brilliant) electronic
music: They could
license songs that
fit in perfectly with
the game.
All of the music
in the "Grand
Theft Auto" series
is arranged into
different radio sta-
tions that the player
accesses every time

underground (albeit
Auto: San
Andreas Original
Box Set
he gets behind the

ing the battle between old and new-school
gangster rap, the mysterious boy band
phenomenon known as New Jack Swing
and the birth of alternative rock. San
Andreas misses none of these opportuni-
ties, presenting the old and new schools of
hip-hop and rock, a station devoted to dub
and reggae and a country and western sta-
tion - eight discs in all.
Unfortunately, all of the brilliant com-
mentary presented in the game by guest
DJs like Axl Rose and Andy Dick aren't
included (though each station does fea-
ture two of the game's numerous wry
commercials). This commentary would
admittedly mar the purity of each indi-
vidual song. Also absent are both talk
radio stations and the electronic channel,
SF-UR. Interestingly, Rockstar didn't
include any songs by Nirvana, poster
child of the grunge generation.
This is a trend in Rockstar's releases
- choosing to include a more eclectic
and less obvious variety of songs on its
soundtracks. The channels are as free-
form as a college radio station, which
keeps the box set fresh and less like an
overblown collection of old Now: That's
What I Call Music CDs.
The "GTA" soundtracks have always
been more about music education than

music regurgitation, and thankfully,
San Andreas is no exception. Gainers
who would normally dismiss any form
of country music could very well find
themselves humming Conway Twitty
and Loretta Lynn's "Louisiana Woman,
Mississippi Man" on their way through
the backcountry. Mastersounds 98.3,
a disc entirely devoted to the songs
sampled by the "jive turkeys" on the
rap station, inspires this same feeling
of musical enlightenment.
All in all, the San Andreas boxed set
is an astonishingly diverse collection
from the makers of some of the great-
est mix tapes of the era - the masters
of controversial game culture - Rock-
star Games.

It's the Clone Wars all over again.

I, Robot' DVD extras disappoint

wheel of a car, making the soundtrack
especially important.
The soundtrack is now available from
the latest incarnation of the series, "Grand
Theft Auto: San Andreas," in which
Rockstar tackled the early '90s West
Coast gangster scene. The early part of the
decade is ripe for musical mining, featur-

Oates 's 'The Falls' twists and turns

By Nichoie Gerard
For the Daily
Joyce Carol Oates has a long resume
stacked with novels, several plays and
many other shorter works. Her latest
novel, "The Falls," which begins in the
1950s and goes through the '70s, serving

as another addition
to her list of accom-
The novel
focuses first on
Ariah Littrell,
the daughter of
a Presbyterian

The Falls
By Joyce Carol
Harper Collins

Her character works within the context
of the story, but her negative qualities
may repel readers. Oates may have
realized this, since Ariah is not as
central in the second half of the novel.
Instead, Oates tells the story from the
point of view of Ariah's children: intel-
ligent Chandler, popular Royall and
fragile Juliet. By allowing the reader to
get into the minds of all of the char-
acters, she establishes a real grasp on
what they are thinking.
The novel's main fault is that it's a
little overdramatic at times. The twists
and turns of the plot make "The Falls"
like a soap opera at a few points. How-
ever, with Ariah's histrionics, this
seems somewhat unavoidable, espe-
cially in a novel so lengthy.
Oates has a lifetime of writing expe-
rience, and it shows; it's impossible
not to be drawn into the well-written
story. Even though the novel is nearly
500 pages long, it's not burdensome to
finish because the story is so captivat-
ing. Anyone who likes dramatic stories
will probably enjoy this book, but fans
of Oates's other works particularly
will appreciate this novel. "The Falls"
draws the reader in from the first page
and maintains interest until the end.

By Punit Mattoo
Daily Arts Writer
This past summer, two big-budget movie staples were
brought together: Will Smith and futuristic robots. The
resulting film, "I, Robot," was a financial disappointment
for Fox, a studio that now hopes to recoup its losses with
a newly released DVD.
Loosely based upon Isaac Asimov's short stories, "I,
Robot" brought viewers to a futuristic Chicago where
robots are integrated into society,
doing the menial tasks humans hate to
do. As a result, all are happy - except I, Robot
for Del Spooner (Smith), a cop wary 20th Century Fox
of the ubiquitous robots. His suspi-
cions are confirmed when a robot is
accused of murdering Dr. Lanning (James Cromwell), the
head scientist at U.S. Robotics. Since murder is defined as
one human killing another human, the robot (created by
Alan Tudyk) is released, but Spooner doesn't give up his
search for the truth.
The 2035 version of Chicago presented in the film is
not far removed from the present. Much of the landscape
has naturally evolved - with some over-the-top excep-
tions - and is used simply to impress viewers. Although
many of these technological advances look good, the
crisp DVD picture makes the futuristic landscape seem
overly computer generated at points. Otherwise, the

action scenes, including an exciting car chase featuring
legions of robots, are impressive - considering the abun-
dance of CGI.
The special features, however, are extremely disap-
pointing, as it seems Fox devoted more time to creating
an attractive cover and flashy menus than filling the disc
with any intriguing content. A "Making Of" featurette
focuses on how the filmmakers translated human move-
ments onto the robot's character. This is only exciting for
the few people who didn't see the process used to cre-
ate Gollum for "The Lord of the Rings." In addition, too
much time is devoted to plot summary, especially con-
sidering viewers generally watch special features after
finishing the movie.
The commentary provided by the director and screen-
writer of "I, Robot" does provide some insight into the
making of the film, but it is otherwise dull. The most
egregious error on the disc is the inclusion of the standard
special feature cop-out:, the still photo gallery. Featuring
pictures of Will Smith in a harness and shooting guns,
this "feature" essentially adds nothing to the DVD.
The "I, Robot" DVD seems to have been hastily
thrown together to capitalize on the Christmas shopping
season. Fortunately for those on the receiving end of an
"I, Robot" gift, the film proves to be fairly entertaining
with impressive special effects.
Movie: ***
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: *

minister from a middle-class suburb.
Pushing 30, anxious Ariah has finally
been proposed to by clergyman Gil-
bert Erskine. But, he commits suicide
on the first night of their honeymoon,
jumping off of a bridge into Horseshoe
Falls - the first of a number of tragic
events in Ariah's seemingly cursed
life. While the police search for her
newlywed husband's body in nearby
rivers, she meets a young man named
Dirk Burnaby. Much to the dismay
of her family, she ends up marrying

him a few weeks later. The rest of the
novel explores Ariah's new life with
hot-shot Dirk and her self-destructive
Unlike many of the other charac-
ters, especially Dirk, Ariah is quite
disagreeable. She is moody and often
takes her feelings out on her family.



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