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November 05, 2004 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-05

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November 5, 2004



Courtesy of
Oh no,
let Michael


Courtesy of Activision
Shuffle up and deal.
Latest 'X-Men' game
almost legendary

By Zach Borden
Daily Arts Writer
Known for single-handedly creating the genre
of computer-animated mov-
ies with the groundbreaking
"Toy Story" nine years ago, The
Pixar has had a considerable Incredibles
rise since Buzz and Woody I I
took the world by storm. Now At Quality 16
a recognizable brand name and Showcase
associated with spectacular Disney
family films, it would seem
nearly impossible for the stu-
dio to craft a worthy follow-up to its beloved, Oscar-
winning smash "Finding Nemo." Somehow Pixar
outdid itself again. The studio's latest offering, "The
Incredibles," is a consistently entertaining effort that
not only ranks as one of the studio's best, but as one
of 2004's top movies.
Mr. Incredible, whose secret identity is Bob
Parr (Craig T. Nelson, TV's "Coach"), used to be
one of the most popular "supers" (superheroes)
around. With a fervor for fighting crime and help-
ing the innocent, Mr. Incredible's life - as well as
the lives of his powered peers - came to an abrupt
halt after a series of lawsuits from the public. Forced
into a witness protection program by the govern-
ment, these once admired heroes had no choice but
to become regular, ordinary citizens. Fifteen years
after hanging up his supersuit for good, Bob leads a
boring life in the suburbs with his family and works
as an insurance claims adjuster. Despite the support
from his wife Helen (Holly Hunter) and their three
children, Bob can't help but feel disappointed that
the glory days are gone. However, Bob soon begins
to receive secret messages that give him the chance
to fight crime again.
Written and directed under the sharp eye of Brad
Bird ("The Iron Giant"), "The Incredibles" gets it

right by refusing to stray from Pixar's well-tested
formula. The movie's most important elements are
its unique, well-developed characters and an intri-
cate, original storyline. Bird ensures that the film
flows smoothly, as each scene means something
in relation to the characters' lives or the plot as a
whole. From the brilliant prologue to the incred-
ibly engrossing finale, Bird hones a consistent tone
throughout that is filled with humor, excitement and
a pure heart.
Surprisingly, "The Incredibles" represents an
evolution of Pixar's conventions and the animation
genre in the best possible sense. This is clearly Pix-
ar's most mature film to date. Other than the jaw-
dropping, brilliantly staged action sequences that
rival live-action blockbusters, "The Incredibles"
doesn't shy away from more adult material that will
fly right over the heads of kids. Other than the sub-
tle sexual innuendo, the more human problems the
Parrs face probably won't register with younger audi-
ences. Thankfully though, the story offers universal
themes such as the importance of family without
being preachy or overbearing. Moreover, the laughs
are clever and fit organically into the film's story. It's
very refreshing to have an animated movie where
the humor isn't just pop culture references.
One of Pixar's trademarks is casting distinct voice
talent with actors are able to disappear into their
roles, instead of having well-known voices that are
recognizable and distracting. Nelson fits the bill per-
fectly as Bob. Embodying the character's strength
and confidence when he becomes Mr. Incredible,
Nelson also makes the protagonist melancholy and
vulnerable when he's just a regular guy. Holly Hunt-
er's warm, distinct voice works remarkably well as
Helen; and Jason Lee is an inspired choice to play
Syndrome, nailing the villain's voice with much
passion and enthusiasm.
At nearly two hours, "The Incredibles" is Pixar's
longest film yet. Unfortunately, the time goes by way
too fast - it's impossible not to get sucked in by
what the film has to offer. What makes "The Incred-

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Editor
Marvel's beloved "X-Men" finally
get the videogame treatment they
deserve in Activision's "X-Men Leg-
ends." While pre-
vious attempts
to electroni- X-Men
cally capture the Legends
mutants have met PS2, Xbox and
with varying suc- Gamecube
cess, no title has Activision
ever captured the
feel of the comic
book. By combining hack-and-slash
action with role-playing elements,
"X-Men Legends" encapsulates the
teamwork and storylines that make
the comics so memorable.
Rabid fans will be pleased to know
that 15 of their favorite superheroes
are selectable for play. From Iceman
to Gambit, almost everyone is there.
The player controls a team of up to
four mutants into battle, primarily
controlling one hero while executing
commands over the rest. Each X-Man
features his trademark mutant abili-
ties and specialized skills - Wol-
verine heals and is stronger in melee
fighting, whereas Cyclops shoots
optic blasts and has superior leader-
ship skills.
The framework of the game cen-
ters around a new mutant named
Magma. Players take her through the
X-Mansion, where she encounters
the various team members, takes les-
sons in the Danger Room and meets
in the war room to go on missions
that propel the game's storyline.
The story itself, written by for-
mer "X-Men" writers Joe Kelly and
Steven Seagel, features an unfolding
mystery that involves almost all of

the principal villains and locations.
Ever wanted to brawl through the
Morlock tunnels? Fight against Sen-
tinels in the streets of Manhattan?
It's all in there.
The most satisfying missions for
longtime fans occur during conver-
sations with teammates in the man-
sion. One character will begin to tell
young Magma about an old battle,
but instead of simply listening to the
story, the gamer gets to relive the
fight. To enhance the authenticity of
the classic tales, the X-Men team in
the flashback wears its old uniforms.
Unfortunately, the design of the
X-Men in "Legends" is borrowed
from the "Ultimate X-Men" line of
comics - a stripped down version of
the team that bears a striking resem-
blance to the design of the films. So
instead of the classic uniforms, the
X-Men wear nondescript, leather
Furthermore, though the combat
and puzzle-solving can be fun, it
grows tedious if played for too long.
The RPG aspects - leveling up, col-
lecting gear - increase the replay
value, but some characters become
so powerful, it becomes unnecessary
to rotate team members. The worst
offender is Wolverine, whose heal-
ing factor makes him almost unstop-
Activision's take on the "X-Men"
mythos incorporates the best aspects
of the source material. Fans take to
the heroes not only because of the
action, but also because of the story.
"Legends' " emphasis on plot and
character creates a three-dimen-
sional version of the world so often
depicted in the comics. Technology
has finally caught up with the X-Men,
and the inevitable sequel should be
able to work out the final kinks.

ibles" so satisfyin is that it really has something for
everybody, anchored by a meaningful narrative that
is always exciting and never drags. While the holi-
day season is a competitive time for family movies,
it is hard to imagine that there will bea more engag-
ing, fun and creative film for all ages this year.

Court rulings explored in 'Black'

By Jo Sasota
For the Daily

"A Black and White Case" presents
a relatively complete account of the
lawsuits challenging the University's
use of race-con-
scious admissions, A Black and
and how they led White CaseBy
to two landmark Greg Stohr
U.S. Supreme Bloomberg
Court decisions.
The book focuses
on the events and people involved, the
cases themselves and the effects the
rulings had on the admissions policy
of other educational institutions.
Greg Stohr wisely splits the book
into four temporally divided parts. In
this way, he provides a chronologi-
cal account of events leading to the
landmark cases. The first three parts
of "A Black and White Case" feature
former University President Lee Bol-
linger, the rejected applicants who
sued the University and their lawyers,
the judges of the lower courts and
the Supreme Court justices. The final
section explains the court's rulings
on Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v.

Bollinger, which upheld affirmative
action while striking down the LSA
admissions system.
Despite its length, the book is a fast
read. Stohr's is an interesting account
even for those who already know
the story. Stohr presents the narra-
tive plainly and exactly. With experi-
ence as a judicial clerk and Supreme
Court reporter, Stohr deftly maneu-
vers through court documents and
interviews, integrating these with his
own prose to give a direct, abridged
account of the court cases. His sharp
writing reflects his background
Stohr does not use this book as
springboard to express his own
opinions about the events or future
repercussions implementing the use
of affirmative action. He should be
praised for his evenhandedness in
dealing with the facts. But, while cre-
ating a captivating reconstruction, he
could have added more.
As anyone would ask advice for
buying a car from a mechanic, a sepa-
rate section about his beliefs would
have added valuable commentary. The
only glaring flaw is his presentation of
some lawyers and justices in an overly
positive light. His partiality toward
some of the people involved is at times

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