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

Sony Dual Shock 3 Hands-On

Posted in Games with tags , , , on June 7, 2008 by icebreakz

It was easy to overlook the loss of vibration feedback when Sony first introduced the PlayStation 3. The console offered a ton of great new features–HD graphics, Blu-ray, multimedia support, wireless controllers, the PlayStation Network–that, at least conceptually, more than made up for the missing rumble support. The console’s new Sixaxis controller also had tilt controls that let you control games by tilting or moving the gamepad in the desired direction. Unfortunately, it took most of us only a few minutes with Lair to figure out that we had been hoodwinked out of rumble like a general manager on the wrong side of a Billy Beane trade.

Sony tried to downplay the importance of rumble, referring to it as a “last generation” feature on several occasions before and after the release of the PS3, but Sony’s legal skirmishes with haptics company Immersion may have also contributed to the feature’s disappearance. Sony finally relented last year at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show when Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai announced the Dual Shock 3 controller, just months after working out a deal with Immersion.

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XBOX 360 Reviews

Posted in Games with tags , , , on May 18, 2008 by icebreakz

The good: Excellent selection of games, including many 360-only exclusives; all games are in native high-definition; user-friendly Dashboard interface; supports wireless controllers and accessories; Xbox Live service offers online multiplayer (with matchmaking and voice chat) and content downloads for most games; backward compatible with many–but not all–original Xbox titles; doubles as a superior digital media hub and Windows Media extender; online Marketplace allows easy purchases of minigames, add-on gaming content, high-def movies, and TV shows.

The bad: The Elite fails to correct most of the annoyances of the original 360 version: the noisy DVD drive and cooling fan; a gigantic, oversize power supply; no built-in wireless networking; only three USB ports; a substandard DVD player; support for next-gen HD DVD movies requires a bulky external accessory; online gaming requires a paid subscription to Xbox Live; proprietary wireless format limits third-party accessories.

The bottom line: While it’s neither a must-have upgrade for existing 360 owners nor as feature-packed as the PS3, the Xbox 360 Elite’s combination of top-notch gaming and digital media features make it the current game console of choice.

The Xbox 360 was the first of the “next-gen” videogame consoles to hit the market in the fall of 2005. By the time the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii hit stores–a full year later–the 360 had not only established itself as a top-tier game console, it was well on its way to becoming a full-service digital entertainment media hub for the living room, with built-in support for high-def TV and movie downloads as well as Vista-friendly media streaming. While Sony and Nintendo struggled with their respective launch issues–just as Microsoft had toiled 12 months earlier–the Xbox 360 has cruised to the No. 1 spot on the home console charts, with more than 10 million units sold worldwide.

So what does Microsoft do for an encore? Release a slightly upgraded Xbox 360, of course. The $480 Xbox 360 Elite is black instead of white, includes a 120GB hard drive (six times as capacious as the previous 360’s, twice as big as the PS3’s), and sports an HDMI output for easier hookups to HDTVs.

The question for current and prospective gamers: Is the Elite worth the extra $80? For anyone who owns the existing Xbox 360, the answer is probably no–the HDMI connector is more a convenience than a necessity, and the larger snap-on hard drive will be available to existing 360 users as a standalone $180 accessory. Moreover, there’s certainly a tinge of disappointment that the Elite’s higher price tag doesn’t deliver a few more bundled features in the box–the Wi-Fi adapter and the HD DVD drive still need to be purchased separately, for instance. In other words, the Xbox 360 Elite is just a warmed-over version of the previous model that doesn’t deliver any groundbreaking, PS3-killing features.

That said, the Xbox 360 currently has a larger and more impressive library of games, and until the PS3 can offer some compelling alternatives–and I have no doubt that eventually, it will–the Xbox 360 remains the better option. And if you’re going with the 360 for the first time, you might as well spend that extra $80 and get the Elite.

The hardware

Except for its black finish and HDMI port, the Xbox 360 Elite is cosmetically identical to the Xbox 360 Premium. When laid horizontally, the 8.8-pound console is 12.15 inches wide, 3.27 inches high, and 10.15 inches deep. Like the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii, the Xbox 360 can also be propped up in a vertical position and can be customized with interchangeable faceplates that cost as much as $20. The 360 is neither as slick as the glossy PS3 nor as cute as the diminutive Wii, but the Elite’s matte-black finish is certainly a big step up from the “iPod white” color scheme of the earlier Xbox 360s. While the Elite blends in with the other black components in your A/V rack, however, it may not match all your accessories–you may need to mix and match some white 360 accessories, as not all accoutrements will immediately be available in black.

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XBOX 360 vs Playstation 3 Graphics

Posted in Games with tags , , , , on May 18, 2008 by icebreakz

We expected the PlayStation 3 to ship with several games that first appeared on the Xbox 360, similar to how the Xbox 360 had a lot of Xbox ports at launch. And the PS3 did indeed arrive with a good number of games that originally shipped for the Xbox 360. This gave us the perfect opportunity to compare the graphics on both systems with several cross-platform games. You’d think that the PS3 versions would be exactly the same or slightly superior to the Xbox 360 versions, since many of these games appeared on the 360 months ago, but it seems like developers didn’t use the extra time to polish up the graphics for the PS3. We found that the Xbox 360 actually had better graphics in the majority of the games we compared.

Need for Speed Carbon

Both systems have fairly similar graphics in Need for Speed Carbon, but the Xbox 360 has better lighting while the PS3 has sharper textures. The 360 has better high dynamic range lighting in the Camaro image. We’re not sure if the PS3 version blurs the background tree leaves on purpose, but it’s another noticeable difference. The lighting in the street shot appears more realistic on the 360, but the building textures are sharper on the PS3. We also seem to be missing some lighting and a few landmarks in the rearview mirror of the PS3 version.

Call of Duty 3

Call of Duty 3 has made its way onto just about every major console, but it definitely looks best on the Xbox 360. The PlayStation 3 comes in a close second, but the 360 is the clear winner. The textures have less detail on the PS3, and the game looks a little washed out. Between the overly bright visuals and muddy textures, the PlayStation 3 can’t match the 360 version’s gritty look.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance

You’ll have to make your Marvel Ultimate Alliance decision based on Xbox 360 rumble support versus PS3 Sixaxis control since the graphics seem to be identical on both systems. We tested all games at 720p using component cables to keep the comparison as even as possible.


God Of War 3 Coming Soon

Posted in Games with tags , , , on May 17, 2008 by icebreakz

God of War III is a forthcoming installment in the God of War video game franchise, to be exclusively released on the PlayStation 3 in 2009. It is the fifth chapter in the series chronologically, after God of War: Chains of Olympus, God of War, God of War: Betrayal and God of War II.

Although little is known about the game at this point, it was confirmed to be in development by Cory Barlog at a God of War II launch event. He revealed that the game would run at full 1080p HD resolution, and the game would support SIXAXIS tilt and vibration functions. This was stated before the DualShock 3 controller was announced; therefore causing confusion as the SIXAXIS controller did not support rumble. Barlog also expressed an interest in adding a cooperative mode “if we can do something unique with it”.

God of War director David Jaffe has said that, “God of War explains, or ultimately will explain, why there are no more Greek myths.” Though Jaffe and Barlog left Sony for other opportunities, they are still credited for the series and will possibly be involved in this installment. Jaffe, who co-founded his own development studio, Eat Sleep Play has recently expressed interest to be involved in development for God of War III.

An advertisement for God of War III has appeared on the back of instruction manuals of the retail version of God of War: Chains of Olympus, stating below that the game is ‘coming soon’.