Archive for June, 2008

Xbox 360 getting another price cut?

Posted in Games with tags , , , , on June 30, 2008 by icebreakz

What we heard: Last August, Microsoft’s plans to drop the price of the Xbox 360 in all of its configurations were leaked four separate times. The Hollywood Reporter ran the news first citing retail sources, then Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, and Circuit City all had weekly newspaper ads that prematurely found their way into the public domain. Needless to say, by the time Microsoft finally confirmed the cuts, few considered the news to be especially shocking.

History may be repeating itself, given that the supposed K-Mart flyer clearly shows a 20GB Xbox 360 system with a “new low price” of $299.99. Currently the 20GB model sells for a suggested retail price of $349.99. The scanned image shows only part of the Xbox 360 listing, and nothing from the rest of the ad save for box art of Civilization Revolution and 2K Sports’ Prizefighter. Such pictures can be faked, but if this one was, the creator at least paid enough attention to duplicate the K-Mart circular’s font as well as details like the twin-color blowout box announcing the price drop.

The person who posted the images says that the price cut should go into effect around July 6, a Sunday, likely meaning that the ad is intended to run in that edition of the newspaper. It’s fairly common for newspaper ads such as this to be printed a week or more in advance of the publication date, and with Civilization Revolution set for release on July 8, the timing of this leak fits well. That’s also the week before the big E3 Media and Business Summit in Los Angeles, a time when console makers traditionally try to generate momentum for their systems with big announcements.

Although it hasn’t quite been a year since the last round of Xbox 360 price cuts, those were a bit mild ($20 on the Core and $30 on the Elite), and the intervening time frame has seen the Xbox 360 hardware lose considerable momentum to the PlayStation 3. According to figures from the industry-tracking NPD Group, the Xbox 360 beat the PS3 in US hardware sales every single month through the end of 2007. However, for the first five months of 2008, the PS3 has outsold the Xbox 360 three times, and was only a thin margin behind the Microsoft console for the other two.

Microsoft needs to spark system sales to fend off Sony’s advancing PS3. A price cut is one of the simplest, most direct ways to encourage gamers on the fence to take the plunge. Right now customers are likely looking at a Blu-ray drive and built-in wireless support as features well worth the $50 difference between a 20GB Xbox 360 and a 40GB PS3. Widening that gap to a nice round $100 would no doubt make Microsoft’s system a much more enticing value proposition for many gamers.

The official story: Microsoft hadn’t returned requests for comment as of press time.

Bogus or not bogus?: Probably not bogus.

The Dark Knight (film)

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , on June 22, 2008 by icebreakz

The Dark Knight is a 2008 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character Batman. The film is a sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins, which rebooted the Batman film series after an eight-year hiatus. Christopher Nolan returns as the director, and Christian Bale reprises the lead role. Batman’s primary conflicts in the film include his fight against the Joker (Heath Ledger) and his strained friendship with district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).

For his conception of the film, Nolan was inspired by the Joker’s first two appearances in the comics and Batman: The Long Halloween. The Dark Knight was filmed primarily in Chicago (as was Batman Begins), as well as in several other locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. The director used an IMAX camera to film six major action sequences, including the Joker’s first appearance in the film. The Batsuit was redesigned, with a cowl allowing Bale to move his head. The film also introduces a recreation of the Batcycle, known as the Batpod.

Warner Bros. created an aggressive viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screenshots of Heath Ledger as the Joker. After Ledger’s untimely death in January 2008, however, the studio refocused its promotional campaign. The film will be released on July 17, 2008 in Australia,[4] on July 18, 2008 in North America,and on July 25, 2008 in the United Kingdom.

Plot

The Dark Knight opens with Batman, Lieutenant James Gordon, and new district attorney Harvey Dent beginning to succeed in rounding up the criminals that plague Gotham City. They are unexpectedly challenged when a mysterious criminal mastermind known as the Joker, appears in Gotham. Batman’s struggle against the Joker becomes deeply personal, forcing him to “confront everything he believes” and to improve his technology to stop the madman’s campaign of destruction. During the course of the film, a love triangle develops between Bruce Wayne, Dent and Rachel Dawes.

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Hancock (film)

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , on June 22, 2008 by icebreakz

Hancock is an upcoming comedy superhero film directed by Peter Berg and starring Will Smith, Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron. The story was originally written by Vincent Ngo in 1996 and had languished in Hollywood for some time. The project has had various directors attached, including Tony Scott, Michael Mann, Jonathan Mostow, and Gabriele Muccino. Hancock was originally intended to be filmed before I Am Legend, also starring Will Smith. Hancock was filmed in Los Angeles. In the United States, the film was rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America after cuts were made at the organization’s behest to avoid a “restricted” (R) rating, which it had received twice previously. The film is scheduled for release on July 2, 2008.

Production

Screenwriter Vincent Ngo wrote the spec script Tonight, He Comes in 1996. The draft, about a troubled 12-year-old and a fallen superhero, was initially picked up by director Tony Scott as a potential project. Producer Akiva Goldsman came across the script, which he had considered a favorite, and encouraged Richard Saperstein, then president of development and production at Artisan Entertainment, to acquire it in 2002. Director Michael Mann was initially attached to direct Tonight, He Comes, but he instead opted to direct Miami Vice (2006).Eventually, Artisan placed the project in turnaround, and it was acquired by Goldsman.

Screenwriters Vince Gilligan and John August performed rewrites of Ngo’s script, and Jonathan Mostow was attached to direct the film. Under Mostow’s supervision, a 10-page treatment was written to be pitched to actor Will Smith to portray the lead role in the film, since both had worked together on Hitch (2005). Both Mostow and Smith were not yet committed to make the project an active priority at the time. Several studios pursued the opportunity to finance the film, and Columbia Pictures succeeded in acquiring the prospect in February 2005. A second draft was scripted by Gilligan following the finalization of the deal with Columbia. The film was initially slated for a holiday 2006 release.

In November 2005, Mostow and Smith committed to Tonight, He Comes, with production slated to begin in Los Angeles in summer 2006. Smith had set up a pay or play contract to film I Am Legend (2007) under Warner Bros. after completion of Tonight, He Comes. Mostow eventually departed from the project due to creative differences. Italian director Gabriele Muccino filled Mostow’s vacancy in May 2006. Since Muccino was busy editing The Pursuit of Happyness starring Smith, which Muccino had directed, Smith switched projects to film I Am Legend first for its December 2007 release, and then film Tonight, He Comes afterward. Later in the month, Muccino left the project because of an incompatibility with filming the story. Since Muccino was preparing The Pursuit of Happyness, the studio had delayed the production start for Tonight, He Comes to summer 2007, enabling Warner Bros. to begin production of I Am Legend with Smith.

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The Happening (2008 film)

Posted in Film with tags , , , on June 13, 2008 by icebreakz

The Happening is an 2008 American apocalyptic film written, co-produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It stars Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel. Production began in August 2007 in Philadelphia. The Happening will be released on Friday, June 13, 2008, deliberately planned to fall on Friday the 13th. In France and the French speaking part of Belgium it was released under the name Phénomènes (Phenomena) on Wednesday, June 11, 2008.

Plot

A pandemic of unknown cause is spreading across the northeast of the US, mysteriously within well-defined borders, with victims experiencing loss of speech and physical disorientation, followed by suicide: people jump from buildings, shoot or hang themselves, one feeds himself to lions in the zoo, some cut themselves with barbed wire or glass, etc. The protagonist, a science teacher named Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), flees together with his estranged wife, Alma Moore (Zooey Deschanel) and the 8-year-old daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez) of Elliot’s best friend, Julian (John Leguizamo), while Julian tries to reach his wife. The rest of the film follows them on their journey.

Cast

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Posted in Film with tags , , , on June 12, 2008 by icebreakz

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a 2008 adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, from a story co-written by executive producer George Lucas. Set in 1957, the fourth film in the Indiana Jones film series pits an older Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) against agents of the Soviet Union, led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), in the search for a crystal skull. Indy is aided by his former lover Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), the greaser “Mutt” Williams (Shia LaBeouf), and fellow adventurer Mac (Ray Winstone). John Hurt and Jim Broadbent also play fellow academics.

The film was in development since the 1989 release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, because Spielberg and Ford disagreed over Lucas’ original concept. Screenwriters Jeb Stuart, Jeffrey Boam, Frank Darabont and Jeff Nathanson wrote drafts, before David Koepp‘s script satisfied all three men. Shooting finally began on June 18, 2007, and took place in New Mexico; New Haven, Connecticut; Hawaii; Fresno, California; and soundstages in Los Angeles. In order to keep aesthetic continuity with the previous films, the crew relied on traditional stuntwork instead of computer-generated stunt doubles, and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński studied Douglas Slocombe‘s style from the previous films.

Marketing relied heavily on the public’s nostalgia for the series, with products taking inspiration from all four films. Anticipation for the film was heightened by secrecy, which resulted in a legal dispute over an extra violating his non-disclosure agreement, and the arrest of another man for stealing a computer containing various documents related to the production. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released worldwide on May 22, 2008.

Plot

In 1957, Colonel-Doctor Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) and a convoy of Soviet agents posing as U.S. soldiers infiltrate a military base in the Nevada desert. They force Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) to lead them to a crate in “Hangar 51“, which holds the remains of an extraterrestrial creature that crashed ten years before in Roswell, New Mexico. Jones attempts to escape during an alien autopsy, but is foiled by his partner Mac (Ray Winstone), who reveals that he is working with the Soviets. After a fight and an elaborate vehicle chase through the warehouse, Jones escapes on a rocket sled into the desert, where he stumbles upon a nuclear test town and survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a lead-lined refrigerator. While being debriefed, Jones discovers he is under FBI investigation because of Mac’s Soviet ties. Jones returns to Marshall College, where he is offered a leave of absence to avoid being fired because of the investigation. While leaving, Jones is stopped by Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) and told that his old colleague, Harold Oxley (John Hurt), disappeared after discovering a crystal skull near the Nazca lines in Peru.

In Peru, Jones and Mutt discover that Oxley was locked in a church-operated psychiatric hospital until Soviet soldiers kidnapped him. In Oxley’s former cell, Jones discovers clues to the grave of Francisco de Orellana, a Conquistador who went missing in the 1500s while seeking Akator (also known as El Dorado). Jones finds the crystal skull that Oxley hid in Orellana’s grave. The skull is elongated in the shape that indigenous peoples formed their own skulls into; the Soviets believe the skull is from an extraterrestrial life-form, holding great psychic power. The Soviets capture Indy and Mutt and take them to the camp where they are holding Oxley and Mutt’s mother, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), who reveals that Mutt is Jones’s son. The four escape from the camp, leading to a lengthy vehicle chase involving sword fights and several Soviet soldiers being killed by siafu ants. Mutt, Marion, Mac, Oxley, and Jones ride an amphibious vehicle over a cliff and down three waterfalls, eventually finding the Temple of Akator, a Maya-style pyramid in the Amazon rainforest. Claiming that he is a double agent working against the Soviets, Mac enters the temple with Jones and the group while leaving a trail for the Soviets to follow.

The group enters the temple and Jones uses the skull to open the door to a chamber tomb. Inside, thirteen crystal skeletons, one with a missing skull, are seated on thrones. When the Soviets arrive, Mac reveals that he lied about being a double agent. Spalko places the skull onto the skeleton, and it begins communicating to the group through Oxley using an ancient Mayan dialect. Jones translates this to mean that the aliens want to give them a great gift. Spalko demands to know everything, and the skulls begin firing knowledge into her eyes, causing her to shake. As a portal to another dimension appears over the room, Oxley regains his sanity and explains that the aliens are inter-dimensional beings who taught the Maya their advanced technology. Jones, Mutt, Marion, and Oxley escape from the temple, but Mac is sucked into the portal. The skeletons form into a single alien which continues to feed Spalko with knowledge; however, the knowledge overwhelms Spalko, causing her to ignite and disintegrate. The temple crumbles, and a flying saucer rises from the debris and disappears. Back home, Jones is made an associate dean and marries Marion.

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Wanted (2008 film)

Posted in Film with tags , , on June 11, 2008 by icebreakz

Wanted is a 2008 film loosely based on the comic book miniseries Wanted by Mark Millar. The film is directed by Timur Bekmambetov and stars James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Thomas Kretschmann, Konstantin Khabensky and Angelina Jolie. Production began in April 2007. Wanted has a target release date of June 27, 2008. Wanted is rated R in the United States for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and some sexuality.

Premise

Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is offered the opportunity to seek revenge in the murder of his father, who was an assassin. Gibson is invited by his father’s partner, Sloan (Morgan Freeman), to follow in his father’s footsteps. Sloan’s second-in-command, Fox (Angelina Jolie), mentors Gibson, who follows death orders issued by The Fates, weavers who read individuals’ destinies in fabrics produced by mystical looms.

Cast

  • James McAvoy as Wesley Gibson: A meek 25-year-old who works in a cubicle. Gibson has a disloyal girlfriend and a boss who bullies him.[4] McAvoy was cast in the lead role in October 2006. McAvoy, who had screen-tested for the role early in 2006, was initially rejected due to the studio seeking an actor that had conventional Hollywood leading-man looks and physique. The actor was later recalled, being considered the “runt of the litter” of those who tested. According to McAvoy, “They [ultimately] wanted someone geeky.” The Scottish actor, who portrays an American in the film, trained for the film’s action scenes.
  • Morgan Freeman as Sloan: The assassin partner of Wesley Gibson’s deceased father.
  • Angelina Jolie as Fox: Sloan’s second-in-command. Jolie was cast in March 2007 after screenwriter Dean Georgaris rewrote the screenplay to tailor the role for her.
  • Common as The Gunsmith: A professional gunman who trains others to use weapons.
  • Konstantin Khabensky as The Exterminator. Khabensky, who starred in Bekmambetov’s Night Watch (2004), was cast so the director would have a familiar face around Wanted.
  • Terence Stamp as Pekwar
  • David O’Hara as Mr. X
  • Chris Pratt as Barry
  • Kristen Hager as Cathy
  • Thomas Kretschmann as Cross
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Wii Fit: Yoga

Posted in Games with tags , , on June 11, 2008 by icebreakz

The Wii Fit Yoga exercises will ask you to perform and hold common yoga poses such as the Tree, Cobra, and the always popular Downward-Facing Dog. The exercises don’t focus on any of the meditative aspects associated with yoga, but they do ask you to pay close attention to breathing. The exercises have a light blue circle that expands when you’re supposed to exhale and contracts when you’re supposed to inhale.

Most of the yoga activities will monitor your balance to determine your final score. Your center of balance will be represented onscreen by a red dot on a yellow background. If you’re unsteady or exhibit a lot of movement, the game will often give you a few words of encouragement or advise you to steady yourself against an object.

You have access to only four yoga poses when you first start the game: Deep Breathing, Half-Moon, Warrior, and Tree. Other poses are unlocked as you accumulate more minutes in your Fit Bank. Many of the final yoga poses are the last activities that you unlock in the entire game.

  • Unlockable Yoga Poses
  • Sun Salutation: 15 minutes
  • Standing Knee: 45 minutes
  • Palm Tree: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Chair: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Triangle: 2 hours, 50 minutes
  • Downward-Facing Dog: 3 hours, 10 minutes
  • Dance: 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • Cobra: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Bridge: 3 hours, 40 minutes
  • Spinal Twist: 4 hours
  • Shoulder Stand: 4 hours, 10 minutes