October 15, 2004
arts. michigandaily. com
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Courtesy of EA Sports
I'm gonna make Gretzky bleed from his head ...
EA's 'NHL 2005' fills
void for hockey fans
By Zach Borden
Daily Arts Writer
PUPPET SATIRE TEAM AMERICA' ATTACKS BOTH LEFT AND RIGHT
With a locked-out season haunting
the minds of hockey fans, the closest
rabid hockey fans will come to the ice
is the latest installment in EA's excep-
By Ian Dickinson
Daily Arts Writer
Within 10 minutes, "Team America: World
Police," the puppet-show satire from "South Park"
creators Trey Parker and Matt
about everyone with its mixture
of wry wit and hilariously gra-
tuitous xenophobia. Parker and
Stone skewer both American
jingoism and bleeding-heart
liberalism without remorse for
anyone, least of all the French.
Confronted by a new axis led
by the diminutive Kim Jong Il
(voiced by Parker), Team Amer-
Stone, offends just
and Quality 16
leaves no target unscathed. Though some may argue
that the film is unnecessarily harsh on the "Holly-
wood left," the focus is consistently on the haphazard
actions of the dimwitted Team America, which man-
ages to destroy every important French landmark in a
Paris operation during the film's opening sequence.
"Team America's" genius lies in its expressed
political apathy. Parker and Stone have no agenda
beyond their own clever brand of gross-out humor,
and while Michael Moore is portrayed as a suicide
bomber, Team America is little more than a collec-
tion of vodka-swilling soap opera stars whose battles
against terrorists are accompanied by obnoxiously
patriotic country music.
"Team America" is also aided by Parker and
Stone's dedication to frivolity. While many com-
edies seek to attain artistic credibility in spite of
their adherence to crude humor, Parker and Stone
unabashedly embrace their trademark brand of toilet
humor. In a parody of the musical "Rent," Gary sings
irreverently about AIDS. For some reason, the viewer
can't help but laugh at its absurdity. Parker and Stone
simply don't care, and they remind the audience, via
a regular barrage of political incorrectness, that their
film shouldn't be taken any more seriously than an
episode of "South Park."
Unfortunately, because "Team America" is such
an accurate, if cheeky, portrayal of the world today
(Kim Jong I1 must be a foul-mouthed Bond villain,
after all), the never-ending series of gags frustrates
the viewer. At times, the film veers away from satire
and merely seeks to offend without purpose. After
all, how many jokes about the way Asians speak
English does a film really need?
Parker and Stone embrace the film's medium,
quite well, however, and the use of puppets is a
testament to the creators's originality and creativ-
ity. The puppets aren't blatant or trite symbols for
something more meaningful, but rather conduits
for additional humor. Parker and Stone aren't hin-
dered by the marionettes, as they are made mobile
enough to kill and maim each other, as well as
engage in sexual intercourse - essential to any
"Team America" amounts to little more than a
puerile explanation of international politics, which
makes it so wonderful. While long-winded political
documentaries pollute theaters across the nation,
"Team America" represents a refreshing, if crude,
short in a few crucial areas.
For what's supposed to be a realistic
sports simulation, "NHL 2005" fea-
tures moments of fantasy that a player
would expect to find in a more arcade-
like game. The in-game artificial intel-
ligence can be incredibly aggressive
to play against, as it constantly tries to
knock down anyone on the opposing
team. Passing is also a bit awkward at
times, as the puck isn't always shuffled
to the correct player and ends up places
on the ice where it shouldn't.
Yet once one gets used to the pass-
ing system and the occasional camera
problem, there is a lot to appreciate
- even with the overzealous computer
intelligence. The game's speed is blaz-
ing, which allows a player to really get
caught up in the action. The overall play
mechanics and controls are tight, too.
"NHL" also has its fair share of
tional line of sports
2005," offers some
enjoyable new fea-
tures and great
but it comes up
GameCube and PC
modes, including slightly laggy online
play (though Gamecube users have no
online options) and allows plenty of
customization. However, there is noth-
ing too innovative.
One of the game's highlights is a
loaded dynasty mode, where a player
assumes the role of a team general
manager and keeps track of different
team aspects. There is also an Elite
Leagues option, with European teams
complete with international rules,
while The World Cup Of Hockey por-
tion lets teams from all over the world
face off in the prestigious tournament.
The Free4All mini-game allows four
players to participate, shooting as
many goals as they can into the net.
Graphically, the game looks out-
standing with well-rendered player
models. The game's music mainly
consists of pop-punk bands, but the
sound effects are realistically superb
as they range from intense slapshots
to cheering crowds. The repetitive
and basic commentary, however, is
quite annoying, so gamers may be
tempted to turn it off.
As a whole, "NHL 2005" is quite
playable but its flaws hold it back
from being a truly great sports game.
EA has certainly made steps in the
right direction, but it still has its work
cut out for them. Hopefully it will
make some additional tweaks for next
year's edition, but for now, "NHL"
should satiate the appetites of video
ica (a hybrid of the CIA and the "Thunderbirds" tele-
vision series) hires a Broadway actor, Gary (Parker),
to infiltrate a cabal consisting of Muslim jihadists,
the North Korean government and Alec Baldwin to
put a stop to the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction under Kim's control.
As is typical in excellent satire, "Team America"
'Rainbow' adaptation brought to A2
By Stephanie Rosen
Daily Arts Writer
Blackbug Productions - a group of local actors,
writers and directors - is producing thought-provok-
ing art and gaining national attention in a small theater
above a preschool on Pauline Boulevard. The resident
Felicity Porter (Keri Russell) is just
an average college student ... or, at least,
that's what the WB wants its audience to
believe. In its heyday, the show offered
a semi-interesting spin on the "90210"
meets a tamer "Sex and the City" rela-
tionship drama. In its third season,
"Felicity: Junior Year" continues this
company kicked off its second
season October 7th with Artis-
tic Director Barton Bund's new
adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's
Bund, who is also the director,
has paired the 1915 epic down to
its pure essence. He has created
a script that is aware of the orig-
inal's form as a novel. Characters
speak Lawrence's third-person
8 p.m., Sunday at
2 p.m. and Oct.
21.23 at 8 p.m.
At the Blackbird Theater
heroine. As she comes of age, Sutton's radiant smile
communicates at times her girlish fascination, and,
at times, the love she has for the male lead, Ahmed
Muslimani (the Boy). Muslimani is most powerful as
the lover of a woman looking beyond love but also per-
forms nimbly as a schoolboy.
Russ Hedberg and Reynaldo Arceno also occupy
multiple roles. Hedberg confidently transitions from a
jaded father to an innocent farmer to a debauched coal
miner who takes pleasure in the pit that is metaphori-
cally consuming him.
The four supporting females form a living set for
much of the performance on the otherwise bare stage
(a runway that parts the theater, putting the actors
within a few feet of all seats at all times). They break
from their recitation of Lawrence, chanting and inter-
pretive dance to play some memorable roles. Court-
ney Myers provides the only humor in the show as the
Girl's sister and Rebecca Staffend seduces the audi-
ence as the older woman who gives the Girl her first
tastes of pleasure. Katie Brennan and Cobi Sacerdoti
also give solid performances when they step into spe-
"The Rainbow," which runs for two more weekends,
is a show that will make the audience members use
both their minds and their ears. Almost all the language
is Lawrence's, and much of it is rather dense. Bund's
reprise of Lawrence's text will leave the audience
tradition, but loses
some of its appeal
when it tries too
hard to up the ante.
makes it pain-
fully obvious that
the producers wanted to maintain their
cutting-edge feel. However, their plans
backfired, as this season suffers from an
overabundance of hokey drama. All the
stereotypical after-school-special fea-
tures are there: Characters dealing with
cancer, drug abuse, alcoholism, gun
fights and infidelity all occurs within the
span of about five episodes. Here, college
becomes more of an implied setting than a
basis for the series. Worse yet, the show's
writers vary from episode to episode, so
seemingly important plots, such as one's
sudden marriage or abusive relationship,
are easily forgotten and virtually unheard
of again during the season.
Unfortunately, this season's DVD sports
quite possibly the least inventive special
features package in the series' history. The
"Mad TV" parody features three of the
sketch comedy weakest and most annoy-
ing personalities working with an equally
uninspiring premise. Documentaries and
special commentaries attempt to redeem
an otherwise lagging extra disc, but even
they don't seem to warrant the extra atten-
tion this time around.
Despite its flaws, though, "Junior Year"
reels in its audience just as much as the
previous seasons. Although plotlines are,
at times, extremely cheesy, the actors skill-
fully convey emotional tension and entice
the audience to connect with their situa-
tions. Even Felicity bypasses her extreme
lack of emotional expression through her
interaction with the cast.
"Felicity" was on to a good thing back
in the late '90s, creating a niche for itself
as a show specifically designed for the
college crowd. Though fans anticipated its
release to DVD, this edition doesn't quite
seem to do the series justice.
narrative about themselves, expressing physically the
truth of their words as they do.
Also remaining is the theme of transcendence. The
main character is a girl unsatisfied with domestic-
ity, pleasure, work and love but who sees beyond the
fabric of her experience a vibrant beauty that forever
holds her imagination and heart.
Dana Sutton (the Girl) carries the show as that
Courtesy ofBlackbug Productions
Blackbug Productions adapts "The Rainbow," a
1915 novel by D.H. Lawrence.
considering its optimistic message long after the final
curtain. The pleasure and the message of the play are
greater because of the added attention they require.
Arbor District Library
Special Features: *
What's Real About Reality TV?
Monday, October 18
Malletts Creek Branch
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