Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
'Fast & Furious 7' - Fitting tribute to Paul Walker

"Furious 7" is a high octane, over-the-top, adventure caper, that is frivolous in nature. It definitely caters to its fans' expectations

 

Film: "Fast & Furious 7"; Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Djimon Honsou and Lucas Black; Director: James Wan; Rating: **
 
The best part of the seventh edition of the "Fast & Furious" franchise is its last 10 minutes. Apart from the action, the film encapsulates the mood and sentiments of a team and pays a glowing tribute to Paul Walker, who was killed in a car accident, albeit unrelated to the film, in November 2013.
 
But to reach to this final 10 minutes of the film, one has to endure a barrage of outlandish ear-deafening action sequences, sprinkled with a few comical as well as emotional moments that take place across continents.
 
Nevertheless, "Furious 7" is a high octane, over-the-top, adventure caper, that is frivolous in nature. It definitely caters to its fans' expectations.
 
The story takes off from where it left in the previous edition and from the very onset stresses on "family ties and friends".
 
The narration begins with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the team. Haunted about their past, they are now trying to settle down to a sober lifestyle. But Deckard Shaw (Statham), who had lost his brother, is hell bent on avenging his brother's death.
 
After numerous attempts to curb Shaw, Dominic and his team approach FBI Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). He is unfortunately holed up in a hospital with a bandaged arm and his daughter to monitor him.
 
Hobbs advises Dominic to seek the help of a secret CIA operative (Kurt Russell), who introduces himself as "Mr. Nobody". The CIA agent agrees to oblige them, only if Dominic's team would secure a sharp tracking device for the US government.
 
On the other hand, a group of mercenaries led by Jakande (Djimon Honsou), are also attempting to lay their hands on the tracking device.
 
Director James Wan, who had earlier given us a few horror movies like the "Saw" and "The Conjuring" series, has very resolutely delivered this action-packed film, keeping in tune with its pedigree.
 
Unfortunately, what makes the narration tedious, is the talk-heavy exposition and continuous loud action scenes, from start to finish. They numb your senses forcing you to even snatch forty winks. But when you are wide awake, you can relish some preposterous action sequences shot at post-card locales along with unusual stunts which include fisticuffs and street-style fighting. Some of these are nail-bitingly edgy.
 
The dialogues are crisp and tempered with the characteristic one-liners that have been often seen in the series. These are especially evident, during moments of one-upmanship, when the cast keeps ribbing their opponents, "too slow". These serve as a reminder of what the film is about.
 
On the performance front, there is nothing exceptional to talk about. Emoting has never been a strong point of these action heroes. They deliver strong lines stoically and the ladies too are no better.
 
Visually too, alternating between shots of foot on the accelerator and the speedometer, the adrenaline rush of the speed thrills, is effectively created by the sound design and quick edits.
 
The songs with the lyrics, "Oh oh my, I couldn't believe in my eyea" and the one at the very end, "We have come a long way about you, my friends" as background score is touching.
 
Overall, this film will only appeal to fans of the series.

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Replace beef with chicken to save the climate

How large a space domesticated poultry has to move around in does not impact greenhouse gas emissions to any great extent -- rather, the issue pertains more to cost

 

Even though vegan diet is the most climate-friendly, we can continue eating animal protein and still make a major contribution to the climate if we replace beef with poultry and eggs, and cut down on our consumption of milk and cheese, says new research.
 
The study by David Bryngelsson from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden examined various future scenarios to determine how the climate would be impacted if humans were to change their diet.
 
"Cattle ranching is already responsible for 15 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions that humans cause," observed Bryngelsson, who recently presented his doctoral thesis on land use, food related greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change.
 
He noted that increased consumption of beef runs counter to the goal of limiting the temperature increase to two degrees Celsius.
 
There might be ethical objections to the current chicken industry, but Bryngelsson believes that climate gains will prevail even with more animal-friendly production methods.
 
Technical improvements in the production chain can to a certain extent also reduce the food industry's climate impact, but cattle are still the biggest problem, he noted.
 
It is difficult to change the fact that they need a lot of feed and that they release methane as they ruminate. Furthermore, forests are being encroached upon to make room for the increasing number of cattle, which also impacts the climate, the study pointed out.
 
"Since around 70 per cent of all agricultural land is currently used to raise cattle, converting to a more energy-efficient diet of poultry would free up land for cultivation of for example bioenergy," Bryngelsson explained.
 
"You could say that chicken is like an electrical car -- it is a better alternative, yet still very similar to what we are accustomed to," he said.
 
How large a space domesticated poultry has to move around in does not impact greenhouse gas emissions to any great extent -- rather, the issue pertains more to cost.
 
For example, if chickens are given a space that is five times larger, the space is still small in relation to the space required for feed production and will probably not noticeably affect the chickens' impact on the environment.
 
The difference between chicken and beef as regards area requirements and greenhouse gas emissions is so great that there is no doubt that the chicken leaves a smaller carbon footprint regardless of production method, the study noted.
 

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How 'free' mobile apps drain your resources

Since the ads themselves are content that has to be downloaded, apps with ads cause smartphones to use much more data -- up to 100 percent more, in some cases

 

There's no such thing as free -- especially when it comes to smartphone apps! A new study by a team, including an Indian-American engineer, reinforces this conventional wisdom.
 
"Ads in 'free' apps drain your phone's battery faster, cause it to run slower, and use more data," said William Halfond, co-corresponding author of the study.
 
The findings of the team will be presented at the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) in Italy in May. The researchers found that apps with ads use an average of 16 percent more energy. That lowers the battery life of a smartphone from 2.5 to 2.1 hours on average.
 
"A phone's Central Processing Unit (CPU) is like its brain. Ads eat up a lot of that brainpower, slowing it down.
 
"Apps with ads take up an average of 48 percent more CPU time -- 22 percent more memory use and 56 percent greater CPU utilisation," explained co-researcher Meiyappan Nagappan from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), New York.
 
The team compared 21 top apps from the past year and measured their effect on phones using analysis tools loaded onto a Samsung Galaxy SII smartphone.
 
Since the ads themselves are content that has to be downloaded, apps with ads cause smartphones to use much more data -- up to 100 percent more, in some cases.
 
On an average, these apps use around 79 percent more of the expensive network data, the study found. The researchers hoped app developers would take note of this study. "Right now, they're kind of clueless," Halfond said.

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