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January 26, 2009 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-26

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8A - Monday, January 26, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

The bigger they are,
the worse their movie

NOTORIOUS
From Page 5A
"Notorious" does its part to
acknowledge that, for better or
worse, the life story of Biggie
Smalls will forever be entwined
with the story of Tupac Shakur
and the East Coast/West Coast
hip hop rivalry of the '90s. Big-
gie, from New York, and Tupac
(Anthony Mackie, "Eagle Eye"),
from Los Angeles, begin their
careers as good friends, and
their paths meet at key points in
the movie. After Tupac was shot
by unidentified assailants in Big-
gie's recording studio, their two
companies grew divided and
tensions escalated to the point
where both icons were shot to
death within months of each
other.
Sadly, the film's script doesn't
volunteer any of the conspiracy
theories that often surround the
three shooting incidents, which
could have at least lent "Noto-
rious" a "JFK" vibe and given
audiencessomethingto debate. It

also could have been worthwhile
to further explore the rivalry
between these two rap artists
and what implications it had on
the genre as a whole. Without
pursuing any of these details, the
movie's story becomes too insu-
lar to care about.
Yes, Biggie was a well-loved
guy. It's obvious in the touch-
ing closing scene that re-creates
his funeral procession through
Brooklyn and shows his moth-
er (Angela Bassett, "Meet the
Browns") crying as she looks
upon the throngs of fans chant-
ing his name. But before this
culmination, she vehemently
disproved of his rapping and
lifestyle, which doesn't make her
final reaction seem well-earned.
Additionally, the epitaph dis-
played on the screen before the
credits intends to sum up Big-
gie's life in one laughably generic
statement ("He proved no dream
is too big"), but it sounds like it
was hastily scribbled by Diddy
on the last day of post-produc-
tion. If the skytruly was the limit
for Biggie, then "Notorious" does
iniustice to the sky.

From the courtroom to the kidnapping, Jack Bauer is kind of a dick.
A non-negotiable comeback

After a lackluster
sixth season, Jack
Bauer is back
with an attitude
By CAROLYN KLARECKI
DailyArts Writer
When a show's plot becomes
contrived and
its viewer-*
ship declines,
sometimes all it 24
needs to recover
is a year-and- SaSon Seven
a-half break. Mondays
At least that's at 9 p.m.
what worked a9X
for "24." After a
noticeable dive
in quality during its sixth season,
FOX's "24" began the redemption
process in its two-night, four-hour
season seven premiere. Each hour
was filled with nonstop action and
thrilling twists that revived the
show's knack for compelling, multi-
dimensional stories.
Set almost two years after the end
of the sixth season, the show first
revisits Jack Bauer, still brilliantly
portrayed by Kiefer Sutherland
("Phone Booth"), as he is being inter-

rogated at a U.S. Senate hearing. In
the hearing, senators question Bauer
about the violent interrogation tech-
niques he used while working for the
now-dismantled Counter Terrorist
Unit. Of course, just a short time into
the questioning, a threat to national
security erupts and Bauer is thrust
back into action and enlisted by the
FBI tohelp followalead.As hebegins
to connect the dots in that way only
he can, he uncovers a multi-layered
conspiracy to hold hostage the gov-
ernment's crucial computer system.
Through all this commotion he is
constantly forced to choose between
following procedure or breaking the
rules to get results. The addition of
the Senate hearing to start the sea-
son gives this struggle a stronger
sense of significance.
Season seven, also introduces
an almost entirely new cast whose
complexities add fresh suspense and
intrigue to the show. New charac-
ter FBI Agent Renee Walker (Annie
Wersching, "General Hospital") has
been hesitant to break with FBI pro-
cedure, but the stress of the escalat-
ing terrorist plot makes her quickly
question her values. The new and
optimistic President Allison Taylor
(Cherry Jones, "The Village"), who
ran on a platform of non-negotiation
with terrorists, may also act contrary
to her previous notions to protect

American lives this season. Refocus-
ing on these multifaceted struggles
is sure to help this season propel
"24" to its former glory.
The fact that "24" contains so
much action while taking place in
real time has always been impres-
sive. But the producers did away
with the iconic clock in the bottom
corner of the screen this season,
using a clock only for transitions
to-and-frotm commoercial hreaks.
This season, the show doesn't cling
to the real-time gimmick as fer-
vently as it once did, and that's a
good thing; it cuts the show some
much-deserved slack.
Not only is "24" well-developed,
its creative team has a high social
awareness which transcends that of
most other popular programming.
More than ever before, this season
focuses on the morality of torture
as an effective method in obtaining
information. Jack's inner battle over
what constitutes right and wrong
combined with the drama of the Sen-
ate hearingembodythis debate. Sim-
ilarly, the genocide occurring in the
fictional African country of Sengala
is an echo of similar crises in Sudan,
Congo and Rwanda. These themes
are debated under the leadership of a
new, female President who promised
to usher in a new age and bring hope
to the. American people. Why does

that all sound so familiar?
Jack Bauer isn't the quintessen-
tial hero. He often does undeniably
terrible things to serve the greater
good, but the real world isn't black
and white, and the two sides of
Jack make his character believable.
Viewers root for President Taylor
to establish her position as a world
leader because her stance on the
civil war in Sengala and overall ide-
alisma is something we would like
to see in our own executive. Even
though "24" avoids mentioning
dates, the use of familiar scenarios
and current events will help view-
ers relate to the show.
TV shows with intricate plots
and well-developed characters are
relatively rare. And even more rare
are those that succeed over a long
period of time. "24" is unique in its
ability to produce both consistently
thrilling action and an intriguing
story, placing it among the essen-
tial TV shows to watch this winter.
Yes, Jack Bauer will still be doing
what he does best - bringing down
terrorists in record time - but "24"
is truly new this season, and it's
bound to be more thought-provok-
ing than it has ever been before. As
long as the writers have learned
not to let the plot get out of control,
"24" will finally return to its must-
see TV status.

Product placement on
its biggest stage ever

BLART
From Page 5A
into that Chrysler. And when
Blart gets harassing phone calls
on his makeshift cell from an
Indian teen, the viewer's mind
wanders off, struggling to find
the humor in the situation.
But the film's fascination comes
in the politics of representation for
mall-going America. And no, this
isn't reading too much into the
film. If you actually see this (for
whatever reason), you'll notice
"Mall Cop" is full of flagranthbrand
gallivanting and mall culture.
Seeing Sony products (Colum-
bia's parent company) strewed
everywhere while the hypogly-
cemic Blart brandishes Pixy Stix

to save his life, one can't help but
wish these items were integrated
with the story in a way that's not
just an infomercial. James Bond at
least made plot devices out of his
cars and alcohol. And remember
Tina Fey and her General Electric
baiting on "30 Rock?" That's how
it's done.
Failure as a comedy and lead
actor showcase aside, "Mall Cop"
is an interesting but depressing
study in what happens when the
studio calls all the shots. Not only
is the climax of the film set in a
Rainforest Cafe, but it features
plenty ofnice close-ups to letpeo-
ple know how kooky and pleasant
dining there really is. Yes, you too
can go to-your local mall and have
an exoticrainforest feast.
Sorry. Almost forgot this was
a movie.

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