Hella’s tight musical chops impressive but monotonous

"Chops" refers to a level of playing that reflects hours of practice. The etymology of the term is anatomical, stemming from the shape of an experienced wind instrument player's mouth, when the musculature inside the face and jowls is toned and refined by prodigious levels of practice to become supernaturally efficient at performing the peculiar task of blowing into a horn.

‘Rouge Galaxy’

Proving that PlayStation 2 is still alive and well, "Rouge Galaxy" is a role-playing game that lets players travel to several different planets (one added for the North American version) as an accidental space pirate, looking for a planet said to contain incredible treasures.

‘Hotel Dusk: Room 215’

The point-and-click adventure has long been a dead genre in the gaming world. On the PC, it saw a healthy life with titles such as "Myst," captivating players' inner puzzle solvers. But as consoles gained more ground and PC gaming was delegated to the extreme first-person shooter and real time strategy gamer - and those with $5,000 to drop on an Alienware computer - the strong narratives and clever puzzles of the point-and-click adventure seemed to be all but gone forever.

‘WarioWare: Smooth Moves’

Since its initial release on the Game Boy Advance, the "WarioWare" series has provided Nintendo with a much-needed outlet for fart jokes and toilet humor. Wario's foray onto the Wii continues this grand tradition with an all-new set of over 200 "microgames" utilizing the system's innovative controller.

Cynical ‘Back to Black’ tells the raw dark truth about love

This album doesn't need a review; it needs a warning. Here goes: Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" is not for delicate ears. On "Back to Black," Winehouse takes the bitter conversations a young 20-something would really have and puts them on a record. She comes off so raw that Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah put her song "You Know I'm No Good" on his latest album.

Poor storytelling in ‘Ghost Rider’ vanquished by hot visual effects

After a five-month delay, Ghost Rider has finally gotten his boney butt into theaters. Pushed back from its initial August opening, Ol' Flamehead has been tantalizing his anxious fans for over a year and a half. Now that this most badass of comic book characters has arrived, fans will flock to theaters in droves, but anyone not already enamored with "Ghost Rider" will have difficulty enjoying the film.

‘Norbit’ exploits tired fat stereotypes in failed film

With a pending Oscar nomination for a serious role in "Dreamgirls," Eddie Murphy proves in "Norbit" that he can still make a bomb. Mild-mannered Norbit (Eddie Murphy, "The Haunted Mansion," "Daddy Day Care") is compelled into a relationship with Rasputia (also Eddie Murphy).

BARR’s cubist pop in ‘Summary’ blows the mind

On the first album he recorded with his band, The Modern Lovers, Jonathan Richman droned 31 years ago, "I called this number three (insert interminable, sweaty pause here) times already." "I'm Straight" was his talk-singing declaration of drug-free romance, which cut through the snarky, Teflon-ironic fa?ade of late-seventies punk music with its startlingly unguarded, conversational delivery.

Cursive crafts dynamic new sound in ‘Happy Hollow’

Cursive, an indie rock band with tours spanning three continents, struck a chord with critics with its 2004 album, "The Ugly Organ," and received a crescendo of applause from alternative music magazines like Spin, Blender and Alternative Press for its 2006 album "Happy Hollow" .

Mother doesn’t know best in ‘Because I Said So’

"Because I Said So" can't decide if it's a warm-hearted romance or a slapstick comedy, and it suffers in both genres. A meddlesome mother, Daphne (Diane Keaton, "Something's Gotta Give," "The Family Stone"), spends a majority of her time worrying about her youngest daughter, Milly (Mandy Moore, "American Dreamz," "Saved!"), because Milly doesn't have a successful relationship in her life.

Rza’s ‘Afro Samurai’ soundtrack stumbles

A great soundtrack can make a mediocre movie good, as Zach Braff and Eminem can attest. And a soundtrack can't be critiqued without taking its film into consideration. The Wu-Tang Clan's Rza was hired to score the anime miniseries "Afro Samurai," so there's no question as to the level of excellence that the soundtrack achieves.

‘Rainbow Six: Vegas,’ ‘Elite Beat Agents,’ ‘Gears of War’

'Rainbow Six: Vegas' 4.5/5 Stars "Rainbow Six: Vegas" puts the player in control of a Jack Bauer-esque covert ops agent and a pair of armored cronies. The mission: Take out the typical bad guys in a new environment. The "Rainbow Six" series has long been a solid source for tactical shooters.

{Features Briefs}

Crime scene expert and innovator discusses forensics in Alaska Some recognize George Taft as a bronze bust at the Anchorage Trooper Museum. Taft presented a...

{Music Review}

Since 2002, Xiu Xiu has released one album and countless singles and split EPs every year. This prolific output matched their ascent into critical...

{Movie Review}

As kung-fu movie fans sadly await Jet Li's announced final film ("Fearless"), along comes muay thai expert Tony Jaa to swipe for the mantle...

{A Second Look}

In this series, The Northern Light investigates the meaning and history of public artworks around campus. "Transaction," 1999 Bright Bimpong She sits, not in a chair, but...

{Music Reviews}

Shame on those who aren't familiar with The Roots. They are one of the few groups that has yet to release a bad album....

Alaska-grown band gains momentum internationally

Note: This version is longer than the print version Metalcore band 36 Crazyfists got their start in Anchorage in 1994 as teenagers playing the now-defunct...

‘Silent Hill’ scary, but excess exposition kills pace

~.~.? Silent Hill TriStar Pictures, 2006 Starring Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Alice Krige Directed by Christophe Gans Written by Christophe Gans and Roger Avary Rated R, 127 min. Horror The...

‘Ice-Age: The Meltdown’ proves a lukewarm kids’ flick

~.~. Ice Age: The Meltdown Blue Sky Studios, 2006 Starring Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary Directed by Carlos Saldanha Written by Russel Gewirtz Rated PG, 90 min. Family/comedy Kids...

Alaskans respect live music

I had an experience in Seattle last weekend that made me realize how great Alaska is. I went to the Taste of Chaos tour,...

‘Inside Man’ bamboozles audience with empty promises

~.~. Inside Man Universal, 2006 Starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster Directed by Spike Lee Written by Russel Gewirtz Rated R, 129 min. Thriller/crime "Inside Man" looks like it should be...

Wood, plastic and clay dominate student art show

Student artwork selected as the best 3-D pieces of 2006 are currently being displayed at the 3-Dimensional Student Invitational Show in the Student Union...

‘The Hills Have Eyes’ remake scary, but not fun

~.~.~.~. The Hills Have Eyes Craven-Maddalena Films, 2006 Starring Aaron Stanford, Kathleen Quinlan, Vinessa Shaw Directed by Alexandre Aja Written by Wes Craven and Alexandre Aja Rated R, 107 min. Horror/drama "The...

Yet another music genre emerges

Do you ever think that there are too many music genres to remember? It used to be simpler. In the '90s, music tended to...

Actors shouldn’t make music

I'd like to ask everyone for his or her help. I want you all to go home tonight and ask whatever god it is...

Alaska’s leading ladies cameo in stage adaptation of ‘Adam’s Rib’

"Adam's Rib," a stage adaptation of the classic movie, opened to a standing ovation Feb. 17 at Cyrano's. The play, newly adapted to the...

‘Tis the season for out-of-state tunes

If you live in or near Anchorage and complain about never seeing any shows, then now is the time to do something about it....

Alaska bands earn new respect

Alaska music is slowly making a respectable name for itself in the U.S., as well as the globe. However, our state had a rough start....

‘Stranger’ remake takes original’s first act, stretches it too thin

With older movies being remade by Hollywood at a record rate, one might wonder: Was it really necessary to remake? What changes have been...