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December 01, 2004 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-01

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - 9

'Buffy' laid to rest in final season DVD

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Editor

THE HOTTEST PICKS IN ENTERTAINMENT
FROM A DAILY ARTS WRITER

After seven seasons of vampire
slaying, "Buffy" came to a bittersweet
ending in 2003. Though the series still
maintained its creative edge, signs
of decay were beginning to show.
The critically lauded and fanatically

S

"Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss - Whether proper Eng-
lish is your friend or foe, British journalist-novelist Lynne Truss's hys-
terical meditation on punctuation is loads of fun. What's not to love
about a book that refers to a poorly punctuated advertisement as a
"satanic sprinkling of redundant apostrophes?"

beloved cult series'
on DVD, enabling
fans to relive
the slayer's final
apocalypse-avert-
ing battle.
Those not in the
cult often have dif-

last season arrives
Buffy:
Season 7
20th Century Fox

ficulty understanding how a seemingly
inane concept could correlate to such
brilliant television. "Season 7" dem-
onstrates the series' unique abilities of
combining genres, creating suspense
and most of all, providing compelling,
three-dimensional characters. Fans of
the series are provided with a season-
long story arc that wraps up lingering
plot threads, reunites old favorites
- including Angel (David Boreanaz)
- and provides plenty of action and
drama. Season six was heralded by
many as disturbingly dark for Buffy
and her friends. From murder and
rape to fear and loneliness, season six
tackled the more morose topics of life.
In response, the last season attempts
to bring back a lot of the levity that
was lost, yet it still maintains plenty
of melancholy throughout.
The big bad, the archnemesis for
season seven, also appears to be a
response to the poorly received nerd
trio of season six. The First Evil looms
over Sunnydale, threatening the end of
the world. To best preserve the con-
tinued existence of humanity, Buffy
enlists the help of the potential slayers,
young girls who may or may not be
the next chosen one when Buffy dies.
While the arrival of a number of new
characters helps breathe some life into
Potter DVD
kex-eps magic
alive despite
poor extras
By Nick Kochmanski
Daily Arts Writer
DV D EE
His name alone sends a chill down the
spine. His fans are some of the most rabid
this world has ever seen. His green eyes
are piercing and his black hair is unruly.
He's Harry Potter and, like Voldemort in
the wizarding world, he's invading homes
across America.
With the release of "Harry Potter
and the Prisoner of Azkaban" on DVD,
America's favorite
little magician has
proven he's not so Harry Potter
little anymore. Not and the
only have the actors Prisoner of
grown, but so has Azkaban
the overall product.
The third movie Warner Bros.
iteration of the
extremely popular book series displays a
daring disregard for the sometimes-sti-
fling reliance on J.K. Rowling's text that
was present in the previous two outings.
The sweeping camera and slightly darker
tone, along with vastly improved acting
from Daniel Radcliffe (Potter) and Rupert
Grint (Ron Weasley), lends a level of
sophistication to the film not yet seen in
the series.
The DVD also ups the ante, presenting
the viewer with a variety of fun distractions
that add to the overall quality of the film.
Surprisingly, the navigational menu for the
special features is one of the best parts of
the set, as it is done up like the Marauder's

Nine Inch Nails' "Downward Spiral"
- Feeling down lately? What better way to
complement your depression than these two
newly released deluxe editions (featuring a
DVD, B-sides, remixes and more) that
commemorate the album's 10 year
anniversary?
Gael Garcia Bernal - With superb
turns as Latino revolutionary Ch6
Guevara in "The Motorcycle Diaries,"
a drag queen in Pedro Almod6var's "Bad
Education" this fall and an upcoming role
in Michel Gondry's "The Silence of Sleep,
it seems as if nothing can hold the eclectic
Mexican actor down.

f

Why did I get thrown out of the Mystery Machine?

the status quo, they more often than
not are mundane and whiny, detracting
from the core group of characters that
the audience holds dear. Not all of the
new editions to the cast are drab hold-
overs from season six. Andrew (Tom
Lenk), one of the villainous nerds,
adds some much-needed comic relief
to the mix, especially since Xander
(Nicholas Brendan) and Anya (Emma
Caulfield) take secondary roles in the
final episodes.
Season seven is not "Buffy's" best,
but it's far from its worst. Continu-
ing its strong cinematic aesthetic and
keeping abreast with the pop culture
laden dialogue, the series shows lit-

tle signs of decline. The final battle
is appropriately epic and there are
even a few unexpected casualties
along the way.
As far as the DVD goes, the picture
and sound remain as solid as the pre-
vious releases. Though filmed in wide-
screen, creator Joss Whedon prefers
to air the fullscreen versions of the
episodes. The picture doesn't suffer
and receives a beautiful transfer. The
sound is similarly clear and sharp.
The "Buffy" discs feel like a well-
oiled machine. Fans will already be
well aware that there is one commen-
tary track per disc as well as assorted
featurettes on the season and actors.

It would have been nice for 20th Cen-
tury Fox to add something extra for
the final set, but it is still a sufficient
amount for a TV on DVD release.
"Buffy: Season 7" is a fitting con-
clusion to a seminal series. While the
final stake may have been plunged into
the heart of the series, there is still the
hope that the Buffyverse will go on.
Few series dared to create a world as
vivid and deep as "Buffy," and the
final season ties together most of the
loose ends.
Show: ****
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: ***

2"

"24" and "Alias" on DVD - While every-
one's favorite, sometimes-rogue, government
agents, Jack Bauer and Sydney Bristow, will
not be back with new episodes until January,
the addictive first three seasons are available
in feature-packed DVD box sets. Reader advi-
sory: Buy them and you will be up all night
watching. Seriously.

I

Oscar season - The actual cer-
emony may be three months away,
but Oscar season is in full swing
and with it comes the year's most
anticipated films. The race is
still wide open, so here's hop-
ing "Closer," "The Aviator,"
"Hotel Rwanda" and others
live up to the hype.

Courtesy of ABC

Latest effort by Dirty Vegas is 'One' big mess

Paul Harris (DJ/producer), Ben
Harris (DJ/Musician) and Steve Smith
(singer) came together in 2001 intend-
ing to redefine the European dance
scene. Their first single, "Days Go
By," a barn-busting dance-electronica
implosion, found relative success, top-
ping the charts in England. As luck
would have it, Mitsubishi imported the
song to America for use in its Eclipse
commercial, allowing Vegas to pawn
off roughly 700,000 copies of their
self-titled debut and earning them an
invitation to play at Kid Rock and
Pamela Anderson's wedding. With all
of this success, the boys apparently
decided that they ought to try and be
real musicians. Donning some guitars
and tackling the hard-hitting issues
like walking home and talking to a
girlfriend, Vegas gave birth to One.
The album is a true amalgamation of
awful, trying to be a bit of everything
and ending up as nothing. The dance-

tired. Awkward synth-rock ("Human
Love") and the painful acoustic croon-
ing of Steve Smith ("Closer") sound
like Fountains of Wayne with less
range and a self-serious attitude.
It is through this voice that the one
steadfast element of the album, the
God-awful lyrics, is delivered. Sound-
ing as if they were made up on the
spot, Smith delivers such profound
thoughts as: "So here we are, we've
come this far, it's never been so good
/ Nothing ever lasts forever so maybe
now we should / Try and hold on to
what we've got / 'Cause the only thing
worth living for is love."
There really isn't anything else to
say about One. The boys really should
have stuck to that lovable dance-lite
that they're renowned for. Nam-
ing the release One might be a little
misleading, as Dirty Vegas gives the
audience so many definitive reasons
to envy the deaf.

Map - a magical map of the Hogwarts
grounds that reveals the location of every
person in the area. Hours could easily be
wasted watching the parchment fold and
open on-screen as new areas and levels of
the special features disc are discovered.
If there's one gripe that could be lev-
eled at the set, it is the seemingly paltry
selection of deleted scenes. Fans may
be slightly disappointed to learn that the
"exclusive never-before-seen footage"
simply amounts to a couple of lengthened
already-seen-in-theaters scenes and one
or two minutes of legitimate exclusives.
What's there is fun to watch, but it would
have been nice to see a whole variety of
extra footage, maybe even a couple extra
minutes of Quiditch - which was sorely
underrepresented in the other-wise amaz-
ing film.
All in all, however, "Harry Potter and
the Prisoner of Azkaban" makes for a
tasty holiday treat. It's a great gift for the
kids, the parents, or the weird roommate
with the vibrating Harry Potter broom-
stick hidden under his bed.

board. The "sound-bite" kid mind-
numbingly arguing politics through
things he's heard from P. Diddy and
an assortment of local news stations.
Dirty Vegas's newest release on EMI
Records, One, is all of these things
and more ... or less.

pop elements fail with weak hooks and
mislayered beats. The bland electron-
ica overtures even pale in comparison
to the meager work on their previous
album. Production seems to have been
the least of Vegas's concern, the inter-
play between beats and instrumenta-
tion seems off-balance while sound
levels leave the listener disoriented and

Weak formats hinder latest installment of 'Dragon Ball Z'

By Brian Stephens
Daily Arts Writer

"Dragonball Z: Budokai 3" is actually two games.
The first one involves fluid, fast-paced fighting that
is infinitely better than its predecessors. The other
half of "Budokai 3" is a badly designed role-playing
game that should be beaten with iron clubs.
Fortunately, "Budokai 3" succeeds admirably
in mirroring the fighting style present in the Car-
toon Network anime series of the same name; in
fact, whether gamers are be dodging an attack by
teleportation or free flying, it seems as though the
developers have shifted the "Budokai" series from
a children's title to a respectable game on par with
other fighters on the market.

Unlike the previous "Budokai" games, the con-
trols have been streamlined so that performing
special attacks doesn't hinge on stringing random
combinations together. The special attacks are visu-
ally impressive and range from
destroying half of the planet to
switching bodies in the middle Dragon
of battle. Ball Z:
Players start out with eight Budokai 3
playable characters and one or PS2
two attacks; in order to unlock
the other 32 characters and Atari
additional moves, gamers must
take part in the Dragon Universe. This involves
players choosing a character and completing the
entire "Dragonball Z" storyline while progressing
through the levels and exploring in a standard, RPG
format. When finished with one character, garners

can choose another and do the same thing all over
again. Players will spend hours upon hours com-
pleting the Dragon Universe, and, unfortunately,
some story arcs don't even reward gamers with new
characters.
The wretchedness of the Dragon Universe would
be digestible if it were optional; however, to get
the advertised features and special attacks, gamers
must take part in this lackluster RPG component.
As it stands, the new.and improved fighting features
in "Budokai 3" are spoiled by the all-encompassing
blunder of the Dragon Universe. How fun is a fight-
ing game with eight characters and two attacks?
Even the original "Street Fighter 1I" had more vari-
ety, and that was released more than a decade ago.
Hopefully, next time Atari sets out to make a fight-
ing game, they'll do so without recklessly veering
into other genres.

Film: ****I
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: **

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