Category Archives: entertainment

“Crysis 3” – Long on style, short on substance

The Prophet has returned, but he’s not offering a religious experience. In Crysis 3, the latest installment in the EA games first-person-shooter series, the main character, Prophet, and his high-powered suit of armor are back and kicking CELL’s (CryNet Enforcement and Local Logistics) backside yet again. However, CELL is not the only enemy; the alien race Ceph still lurks in the shadows of New York City in the year 2047.
Crysis 3’s weak storyline prevents this series from being great. The plot is vague at critical points, especially regarding the powers of Prophet’s nanosuit. This one suit has the power to destroy an entire alien race, but how?
The game begins 20 years after Crysis 2, during which Prophet has been busy hunting down the Alpha Ceph. As the game begins, Prophet has been captured by the villainous group CELL. (How did that happen when he has a suit that makes him virtually invincible?) Never mind, because Prophet is freed to join the fight by rebels who are combating CELL and their dastardly plot to rule the world through the monopolization of energy. However, as the game progresses, the Ceph alien menace returns, and Prophet is once again caught in a firefight between CELL and the Ceph.
Although the storyline of this game is less than refined, the campaign playthrough is. The maps of 2047 New York are large, but very manageable. The difficulty system is not very challenging, but for people playing this game for the first time, it should be helpful. Also, the newest weapon in the series, the Predator Bow, is the coolest thing, like, ever. The bow, combined with the invisibility feature of the nanosuit, make for one of the most deadly combos in videogame history.
Crysis 3 gets an A-plus in one specific category – graphics. This is the most beautiful game on the market. Crysis 3 boasts the most realistic storms, jungles, wastelands, and half-destroyed New York City that anyone has seen in a console videogame. Character animation is also near perfection. Not only do the enemies look flawless, but the simple motions of Prophet, such as when pulling back the Predator Bow, are crisp.
The multiplayer feature of Crysis 3 is still not refined on console. A high-powered computer is much more serviceable for this game. That being said, the multiplayer is still fun and challenging. For those new to the series, it takes some getting used to playing with the armor and invisibility modes of the nanosuit. Overall, the multiplayer feature is just as pretty as the rest of the game, but not top-of-the-line.
This game will not please everyone, but it is worth a try. This will be more of a bargain-shopper game. Wait a few months for the price to drop $20 and then buy. Crysis 3 is the best-looking game I have ever played. Although the campaign can be uninteresting and confusing at times, the sheer fun of being an unstoppable force of nature (with a bow) is over the top.

~Josh Henry, design editor

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“21 and Over” – Bro-love comedy romps through cliches

Going into a movie like 21 And Over, remember that you get what you expect. Bawdy, booze-filled comedies like this one shouldn’t be compared to Oscar-winning pictures, so the standard has to be how well it pulls off being bawdy and booze-filled. 21 And Over delivers, and still manages to be a pretty good movie outside of all the cheap laughs.
21 And Over centers around two college-age best friends, Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) who decide to surprise their high school buddy Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) on his 21st birthday. Chang’s stereotypically disapproving Asian father forbids his son from going out drinking, since he has an important interview at a medical practice in the morning. Thus Miller, playing the typical frat-boy character who’s more focused on beers and babes than common sense, makes it his mission to get the hesitant Chang and the rational-minded, overly-mature Casey to go out and party. And of course, since a movie about a quiet night in would be boring, he succeeds.
After a bar-hopping sequence filled with lethal amounts of alcohol consumption and a meeting between the inevitable “golden girl” Nicole (Sarah Wright) and Casey, the two best friends realize that Chang is so drunk he’s barely conscious. This is where the movie differs from most in its genre – instead of leaving their friend to handle his own mess to go off on adventures, Miller and Casey spend the rest of the movie attempting to get their friend home.
Admittedly, the basic storyline of the movie is predictable. The three best friends all go through the basic hero’s journey in one night, discovering everything they want in life. One hero even gets the girl (who, is a terrible cast choice, as she’s quite annoying throughout the whole film). There are a couple genuine plot twists along the way, however, and the story is enjoyable.
Ninety-nine percent of the movie’s charm comes from the three main actors. Miles Teller, notable for his minor but hilarious role in last year’s Project X, is the funniest part of the movie, and somehow plays up the lazy frat-boy into a likable character. Astin and Chon, too, take some very clichéd roles and transform them into funny, endearing people.
Their drunken adventure becomes not so much a cheesy Girls Gone Wild meets Animal House, but more of a comedy of errors. There’s no gratuitous objectification of women, no glorification of underage or completely irresponsible drinking, and when the guys in the movie want to show some bro love, there’s no one yelling out that it’s gay.
Without those cliches, 21 And Over still manages some serious comedy, and even made my mother laugh out loud. If that’s not a testament to a bawdy, booze-filled comedy well done, then I don’t know what is. I’d give this movie three out of four stars.

~Fiona McCarthy, staff reporter

“Oz: The Great and Powerful” – Few twists, fine fun

You probably heard the witches tell their side of the tale in Wicked, but did you ever wonder how the wizard ended up in Oz? Director Sam Raimi’s return to L. Frank Baum’s magical land shows just how the man behind the curtain became Oz the Great and Powerful.
Similar to the 1939 classic, the story begins in early 20th century Kansas, and is shot in black and white. However, the exposition centers not on Dorothy Gale, but on travelling circus magician, Oscar “Oz” Diggs (James Franco). Diggs makes his living as a self-absorbed and selfish conman, short changing his admirably loyal assistant, Frank (Zach Braff).
Soon after Oscar is introduced, he is whisked away in a hot air balloon to the mysterious land of Oz, and the picture shifts to lively color. There, Oscar meets the strikingly stunning witch, Theodora (Mila Kunis), who takes him to the beautiful Emerald City and tells him the prophecy of a wizard who would vanquish a wicked witch. To the people of Oz, Oscar is that wizard.
With a timeless and beloved film such as The Wizard of Oz, a prequel story approach can’t be easy. Leave it to Sam Raimi, the director of Spider-Man to do Oz justice.
Raimi delivers characters that the audience can relate to. The cast is well-chosen, and their characters are enjoyable. In place of the Scarecrow and the Tin Man are Finley, a winged talking monkey, and a talking China doll. Surprisingly, neither of these side characters are as annoying as they first appear. I was sure that Finley would be Oz’s equivalent of Jar Jar Binks. Both serve as reminders of people from Oscar’s life in Kansas; Zach Braff voices Finley, a symbol of how Oscar treats Frank like a trained monkey. The fragile China doll is voiced by Joey King, who appears early in the film as a handicapped young girl, fooled by the illusionist and heartbroken when he is unable to make her walk.
This serves the theme of the film, which is how Oz mirrors Oscar’s own life in Kansas. The wicked witch he’s tasked with defeating serves as an obstacle in his quest to become a great man. The people of Oz, and their remarkable faith in him, reflect his own determination.
James Franco is rarely cast in this of character type, and he does an impressive job. Franco stretched his sinister muscles in the Spider-Man trilogy, but he has never portrayed a character particularly egocentric until now. Robert Downey, Jr. was originally considered for the role, but if I could recast it with anyone, it would be Johnny Depp. Having already acted a similar role in 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, Depp would fit right in Oz’s shoes. Mila Kunis proved in Black Swan that she has outgrown her teenage role on That ‘70s Show, and she has done it again here. The plot twist surrounding her character is entirely unpredictable, and, though it could have been executed better, Kunis positively surprised me. And who could forget Michelle Williams, bringing irresistible charm to the part of Glinda the Good Witch?
In the end, the special effects are dazzling, the cast is superb, and the story draws on the power of the original classic while still holding its own. The Wizard of Oz has become one of the most cherished films around the world, and since its 1939 release, spin-offs have tried to recapture its heart. For being the first to do it right, Oz the Great and Powerful gets a solid three stars.

~Ryan Perry, staff reporter

‘Believe’ is more bad Bieber

The last time I listened to Justin Bieber, he was the newly discovered 15-year-old YouTube phenomenon, well on his way to making both millions of dollars and millions of 12-year-old hearts melt with his bouncy pop dance tune, “One Time.” The adoration of his pre-teen fan base, self-dubbed “Beliebers,” has caused near-riots in public places and vicious cyber attacks toward any girl who dares come near, let alone date, the Biebs.
Now, after releasing three studio albums, Bieber-swooners have Believe Acoustic to add to their collection. With eight unplugged reissues of songs from his 2012 album, Believe, and three new songs, Bieber continues to be one of those artists that you either love or hate. For me, listening to this album was like driving past a bad car pileup: you don’t want to witness the horror, but you can’t help but slow down to look.
The opening track, “Boyfriend” is perhaps just as sultry as the original studio version, and with lyrics that suggest an evening of eating fondue by the fireplace, listening to this song would pair well with watching a Nicholas Sparks film or reading a Harlequin novel. The next song, “As Long as You Love Me,” sets the tone for the rest of the album. Each song incorporates the same pick-up line lyrics, cheesy love themes, and monotonous guitar strum patterns. “Beauty and the Beat” was an impressive track – compared up to the original version, that is. While the original song featured overwhelming synths and an electronic solo that feels all wrong, the acoustic version isn’t all that bad.
Although Bieber is pictured on the album cover holding a guitar, most of the guitar work is done by studio professionals, further diminishing his credibility as a serious musician. The guitar tracks don’t vary much, and the only relief from the monotony comes from moments of piano in “Be Alright” and “Nothing like Us.” His vocals, however, tinted with R&B and hints of Justin Timberlake post N-sync, are impressive, despite his use of auto-tune and heavy production. Believe Acoustic is successful in reminding fans why he was originally scouted on YouTube in the first place – his raw vocal ability.
Overall, Believe Acoustic is uninventive and layered with heavy production and auto-tune, and features invariably bland lyrics. It feels more a like a calculated move geared toward all the teenage “shawtys” than a genuine artistic release. Beliebers will no doubt enjoy the all-new renderings of his signature teen-love ballads, and this album’s emotional characteristic and turned-down quality might be enough to make it to some hardcore fans’ favorites lists. However, for anyone else, Believe Acoustic is exactly what you’d expect it to be – a collection of forgettable pop songs.

~Michelle Daniek, staff reporter

Vexavoid: Portal’s brutal CD vexes fans

Australian metal outfit Portal’s latest otherworldly bone-crusher, Vexovoid, is the perfect record for any metal-junkie looking to have their ear drums plunged. Despite its flaws, Vexovoid is without a doubt the tastiest piece of bloody, blast-beat meat released so far this year, sure to please anybody willing to sink their teeth into it.
Portal avoids the comical image that plagues so many metals bands by utilizing an artsy interpretation of blackened death metal, fusing the thickest, muddiest, and most alligator-infested swamps of death metal with the deepest, darkest, and most despairing pits of black metal. The result is a noisy, relentlessly brutal onslaught of drop-tuned distortion, pummeling blast-beats, impenetrable bass, and vocals that sound like a mix between an uncharacteristically deep-voiced banshee, a peculiarly aggressive warthog, and a generator. No description could be more complimentary to a truly crushing metal band, and Portal is, above all else, crushing.
Throughout Vexovoid, Portal takes strategically brainy steps to avoid falling into the ditch so many of their peers fail to leap. The ironically off-kilter polyrhythms on the opening track, “Kilter,” keep things interesting while complimenting the guitar lines flawlessly. “Curtain” is a stand-out track, delivering straight-forward, aggressive blackened death as tastefully as it comes. As the album progresses, ambient textures start to show up towards the ends of the heaviest tracks on the record. After raging through three minutes of devastatingly earth-shattering pulverization, “Plasm” drifts into a two and a half minute break of eerie, atmospheric feed-back reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. “Awryeon” follows a similar path, finishing with a fluctuating, hair-raising melody.
Vexovoid’s true vice is its lack of effectively potent diversity. After 30 minutes of sonic punishment, the fancy time signatures and tremolo-picked guitars start to meld into giant chunk of nastiness. Perhaps if Portal put a little more effort into song-writing, instead of focusing all of their energy on texture and attitude, this pitfall could be avoided. Alas, one can only ask for so much
Regardless, Vexovoid is exactly what it should be – a lusciously brutal slab of metal mayhem heavy enough to satisfy even the most skeptical of long-haired, denim-wielding, metal-heads, and smart enough to please even the most pretentious metal intellectuals.

~Patrick Duggan, news director

Zero Dark Thirty: A thrilling yet chilling ride

I walked into the theatre expecting Zero Dark Thirty to live up to the hype, but it exceeded all praise. The movie grabbed my attention from the very beginning and kept me at the edge of my seat until the moment it ended.
Zero Dark Thirty takes viewers back to the horrific events of September 11, 2001, and explores the aftermath that was concealed from the public. The film opens with several torture scenes which are, admittedly, difficult to watch and immediately made me understand the controversy that circled the film. Zero Dark Thirty centers around Maya (Jessica Chastain), an agent who ends up devoting her life over the course of several years to capturing Bin Laden.
Jessica Chastain, who gives a stellar performance as Maya, was rightly nominated for best actress. She makes the movie the gem that it is. I cringed, I cried, I laughed, I gasped, and I feared, all because of her performance…well, her and the excessive number of explosions. I couldn’t help but feel her characters passion and intensity. It brought me into the movie and gave me a sense of the gravity of the events. After the tragedy of 9/11, most Americans were able to pick up their lives and move on, but for a select military group, finding Bin Laden became their life and purpose. This movie and Chastain reminds us of the struggle and sacrifices of those individuals.
However, the draw of this movie doesn’t come from the superb acting or the excellent cinematography but rather the controversy and debate that surrounds it, including the use of water-boarding to obtain information. Some critics argue that the film wrongly justifies torture. The screen writer, Mark Boal, has said that he wrote the scene to “show the brutality and inhumanity of the situation.” Others say that the torture was necessary in order to obtain the information during the manhunt. But, as this was a top secret mission to hunt down a foreign threat, the exact events and potential justifications of the search for Bin Laden probably won’t be revealed in our lifetime.
Controversy aside, this is a great film that everyone needs to see. We all need to be aware of just how much our military does to protect our country.

~Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director

Movie 43: Not even 43% of a movie

Going into the comedy, Movie 43, I had the same mindset that I had during my initial viewing of Ted: the movie will have a good cast, but will also have a thin plot filled with objectionable content. The difference here is that you can take everything objectionable out of Ted, and the story would still be intact. The structural integrity of Movie 43 is, sadly, solely built on these sexually offensive attempts at humor.
The story shakily follows a rough-looking Dennis Quaid as he attempts to pitch the plot for an unwatchable comedy movie. The object of this movie is a series of short tales, whose only common traits are a surprisingly overqualified cast and a considerable degree of shameless crudeness.
Most of these stories are too offensive to describe in detail, so I’ll discuss the aforementioned cast. Contributing to what is probably the best thing about this movie, Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Emma Stone, Elizabeth Banks, and many others, grace this otherwise unbearable movie experience. In the first sketch, Winslet captures some empathy with the audience as she becomes entrapped in an awkward scenario, caused by a sexually suggestive-looking physical deformity in Jackman’s character, noticed only by Winslet. And then the film really goes downhill.
This sort of overwhelming crudity plays throughout each of the shorts, and the sympathy one feels is only for the actors that endure them, not for their characters. Thank goodness that most of these performers have been in enough good films in the past for their careers not to be destroyed by this debacle.
In comparison to most R-rated comedies, 43 is built entirely on the embrace of repulsive content. If you pull out the instances of brazen and unapologetic raunchiness, what’s left is just a compilation of unrelated stories chronicling inelegant characters whose actions make them just too difficult to care about.
I try to be objective; the low humor might score laughs among the Will Ferrell crowd, but the only positive that I can take from this movie is its troupe of miscast talent, who shouldn’t be in it in the first place. In the end, Movie 43 is like a procrastinator doing a big project; it starts off with big energy and the potential to be something good, but loses all purpose halfway through. The result is very shoddy. Movie 43 barely gets by with one star.

~Ryan Perry, staff reporter