Features / Analysis

FIFA 2010 brings back EA's series

FIFA Soccer 10 brings back EA's soccer series FIFA Soccer 10 brings back EA's soccer series for another year with updated rosters, improved graphics, and other enhancements. Nam et eros ligula. Aliquam quis ligula non quam adipiscing facilisis vitae id lectus. Suspendisse id ligula sem, et molestie risus. Ut auctor vulputate vestibulum. Morbi orci tortor, aliquet nec iaculis at, dictum id nisi. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Duis magna tortor, mattis id venenatis ut, vehicula vel arcu. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Maecenas quis laoreet ipsum. Praesent sed risus libero. Fusce convallis ligula sed enim vehicula sodales quis ut velit.

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The Twilight Sage: New Moon

The Twilight Sage: New MoonWhen Bella (Kristen Stewart) wakes for the first time in The Twilight Saga: New Moon the first of many times—she’s horrified by the nightmare she’s just had. That is, as she looks out on a flowery field, she sees her future, as Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) beloved and as an old woman. It’s a little creepy that the latter part of the fantasy has her looking at, looking like, and then somehow also being her grandmother, but aside from this tic, the horror is that she is aging. After all, she remembers as she jolts awake, it’s her 18th birthday already.

This tragedy is compounded when her dad Charlie (Billy Burke) arrives in her bedroom with gifts camera and photo album so she can keep memories, you know, like aging people do. Worse, he jokes that he’s spotted a gray hair amid her glorious thick brown tresses. Well, it’s just too much. Ever prone to take herself too seriously, she rushes to the mirror to assure herself she’s not, in fact, old.

It’s no surprise that she turns this bit of angst into her recurring desire, that Edward turn her, i.e., have vampirish sex with her. Neither is it surprising that when Bella broaches the topic with him that he refuses (he’s all about the abstinence, about keeping his human girl virginal and ignorant of the unending agony of carnal knowledge, or, in his words, in possession of her immortal soul) or even that he reminds her that her worry is technically silly: he is, after all, 109 years old, a very old, knowledgeable, and disturbing predator, in literal and metaphorical senses. All the gold-glittery and slow-motiony apotheosizing in the world won’t erase that fundamental imbalance in their relationship. (See also: The Time-Traveler’s Wife.)

Not that it matters. As everyone knows by now, Bella and Edward are all about delaying gratification. They pant and touch foreheads and sometimes kiss. But the extension of the relationship beyond a single film means they need a few more problems. Just so, Edward comes to an apparently sudden realization that Bella “just doesn’t belong in my world.” He and his family (who make a cursory group appearance, as if to ensure everyone still gets paid) are leaving her, he says. He doesn’t want her, and in addition, he asserts while she loses her breath at the mere thought of his absence, “You’re not good for me.” Given that their dire mutual love defines them, his declaration is plainly nonsense. But she believes it, he leaves, and the movie spirals into its very, very long second act.

Edward is not precisely “gone,” of course. Instead, he appears, rather frequently, in fact, as a ghosty image warning Bella not to be “reckless,” which she is anyway, again and again, hoping just to glimpse that ghosty admonisher. After long months of moping (marked by a seasonal change glimpsed through Bella’s bedroom window), Bella finally decides to visit with Jacob (Taylor Lautner). When he removes his shirt, Bella—like everyone else in the audience—gasps. He’s been working out since the last movie. He’s been working out a lot. “You’re sort of beautiful!” she gulps. Maybe that wifty bloodsucker isn’t Bella’s only option.

There’s a complication, of course. Even as Bella presses up against Jake’s adamantine abs, he reveals that he’s a werewolf.  More precisely, he’s a Quileute tribe werewolf, which means he hangs out with other hardbodies who throw each other off cliffs and maul each other’s wolf-forms for fun (sadly, said forms are rendered in distractingly unconvincing digital imagery). Like Edward’s family, Jake’s lupine brotherhood is judgmental and exclusive. Unlike the pasty, well-heeled vampires, though, the werewolf boys are explicitly working class, brown-skinned, and homosocial, with a cultish devotion to group activities and corporeal excellence. (As if to underline the raced dimension of the werewolf-bloodsucker difference, the token black vampire, Laurent [Edi Gathegi], hangs with wicked Victoria [Rachelle Lefevre], and makes it his business to threaten Bella.)

As she ponders her future, Bella is less aware than you are that she has very similar effects on the monster boy rivals for her affection (glowing eyes, rising tempers, pronounced teeth, ungodly strength, usually demonstrated on others of their ilk or furniture). The crucial similarity between the wolves and the vampires—the one that apparently makes them so attractive to Bella—is their capacity to hurt the human girls they love. Edward’s capacity is what drives him away, or so he says. Jacob’s is made visible when Bella sees the brutally scarred face of one werewolf’s girlfriend (“Sam lost it for a second, Emily was too close, he’ll never be able to take that back”). True to form, Bella is less worried about this than Jacob, insisting that she trusts him to behave. After all, she’s been considering being damned to hell—as Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) has explained vampirism—as an acceptable cost of romance.

2012 We Were Warned

We were warned. The end is here.People who view screenwriting as an art and don't particularly care about audience reaction to their films bristle at the thought of screenplay classes, in which Plot Element A and Plot Element B can be put together in such a way that-- voila!-- a hit is born. But Roland Emmerich has taken that very kind of formula writing and made a veritable empire out of it, returning every few years to destroy some corner of the earth and invent a handful of earnest heroes, wisecracking sidekicks and solemn old men to survive his newest take on the apocalypse.

With 2012, as you probably could have guessed from the poster art of tidal waves crashing over the Himalayas, Emmerich is letting go of whatever restraint he might have had before. Clocking in at nearly three hours, boasting about a dozen major characters and at least half a dozen emotional death scenes, 2012 operates on the assumption that, if we liked seeing New York destroyed in The Day After Tomorrow and Washington D.C. zapped in Independence Day, we'll really love witnessing the wholesale destruction of the globe.

I hate to say it, but Emmerich is pretty much right. Far from conveying the horrors that might befall us should anything remotely so destructive happen, 2012 feels more like a soothing bath of Hollywood tropes and cliches, allowing us to witness Los Angeles slide into the ocean like Atlantis, but then warming us with a Woody Harrelson wisecrack and a rousing speech from Chiwetel Ejiofor. It's numbing, sure, especially when the first half is nothing but CGI explosion after another, but on some level it's exactly what we expect out of Hollywood-- shallow spectacle and a bevy of stars, an adventure and a few moral lessons, a giant budget spent guaranteeing we won't feel a bit different than we did when walking into the theater.

If there's any surprise at all in 2012, it's that Chiwetel Ejiofor, not John Cusack, is in fact the star of the film. We meet him in what amount to the film's prologue, a White House-employed geologist trying to prove to a cynical chief of staff (Oliver Platt, wonderfully hammy and villainous) that, in fact, the end is nigh. The cause is less important than the results-- giant fissures open up in the earth's surface, mountains turns to volcanos and skyscrapers turn to ash, and eventually tidal waves cover the entire earth's surface.

Billions of people die in the ensuing melee, but there are only a few we're instructed to care about. Chief among them is Cusack and his family, who start driving out of Los Angeles seconds before the destruction begins thanks to a tip from Woody Harrelson, who plays a Yellowstone-residing conspiracy theorist who saw the whole thing coming and made a YouTube video about it (Emmerich's nods toward modern concerns, like casting Danny Glover as the President and having characters constantly complain about cell service, head toward parody when Harrelson demands that Cusack "download my blog.") Plot mechanics too silly to describe require Cusack, his ex-wife (Amanda Peet), her new boyfriend (Tom McCarthy) and their cutesy kids (Liam James and Morgan Lily) to fly a series of planes on their way to China, where they intend to save their own skins in a manner that's best left discovered in the theater.

Somewhere along the way George Segal perishes on a cruise ship, Danny Glover does the heroic Presidential thing, a Russian oligarch and his bratty kids team up with Cusack and company, and the main players in Washington-- plus the President's comely daughter (Thandie Newton)-- all make their way to a souped-up version of Dick Cheney's undisclosed location. The final quarter of the film, while utterly unnecessary to the disaster elements, is also the best section, finally abandoning generic and plasticine CGI for situations that feel real and dangerous. There's no villain here, unless you count the merely loathsome Platt character, so it takes a lot of effort to keep putting the characters in danger, and by the end of the movie, Emmerich has most certainly run out ideas. But there's something about the scale of it all, or maybe the way seemingly random characters tie into the main plot, that keeps the train chugging along. When Ejiofor gets to make his hero speech, and certain bad characters make good at the eleventh hour, it's not quite a "This is our Independence Day!" moment, but it does come closer than any of Emmerich's films since then. Somehow he's got a real heart beating inside his movie, and no amount of groaner one-liners or thunderous explosions can take that away.

Emmerich claims that 2012 is his final disaster movie, unless Independence Day 2 ever gets off the ground, and the movie is nothing if not an indulgent curtain call for the man who figured out how much we like watching cinematic portrayals of our own demise. It's all the reasons we've ever loved or hated his movies, but also a reminder of why it's high time to move on. When he ends the movie, no lie, on a bathroom, joke, it's not exactly going out on top, but those of us who love Emmerich despite him wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

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Listen to child soldiers, woun

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We left the observation post t

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Street Battles As Army Tackles

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Thousands of Troops Are Deploy

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