- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2008

Each week, the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

Online Vantage

The attempted assassination of the president affects the lives of eight strangers in Sony Pictures’ new action thriller “Vantage Point,” starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver and Forest Whitaker. The film’s impact on the Web (www.vantage point-movie.com) is of an interactive variety as developers mix a hands-on design with enough activities to keep visitors investigating.

Before entering the main site, casual gamers should look at the Vantage Point Can You Solve the Puzzle? Sweepstakes (www.sonypictures.com/movies/vantagepoint/sweepstakes/). Through March 3, folks can simply fill out a form to enter — or eagle-eyed brainteaser lovers can go a more difficult route.

Puzzle solvers first must watch an included television spot, frame by frame, to find six numerical sequences. The numbers actually are X and Y coordinates tied to the photo mosaic of the poster found on the page. Entering the coordinates into a menu will reveal a word concealed on the poster. The poster also can be examined carefully for clues or just to appreciate the cool visual effect of thousands of little pictures forming a larger image.

Once the words are found, they must be entered in the proper order to uncover a hidden phrase, which serves as an entry point to the sweepstakes. Eight randomly selected entrants receive a high-definition camcorder, and another eight get a TiVo HD DVR with a year’s worth of service.

Entrance to the main site begins by using a rectangular surveillance reticule that can be dragged around a chaotic scene in the streets of Salamanca, Spain, where the president was shot. As the visitor moves through the crowd, characters from the film will pop up along with a multiple-choice question about the characters’ motivations.

In the bottom corner of the lead page is the Games section, which opens to a trio of challenges.

First, Instant Recall taps into a Secret Service agent’s highly honed attention to detail. Junior agents have an unlimited amount of time to memorize a police sketch and then must re-create it by clicking on and combining eight facial features.

Next, Neutralize the Threat requires a player to listen to garbled communications from agents and scour a crowd photograph to quickly identify the suspect being described. Points are awarded for speed and, of course, accuracy in the multilevel game.

Finally, Split Second is a classic target-shooting game set in a first-person perspective. Agents have 20 bullets to take out as many silhouetted bad guys as possible who pop up on apartment balconies. To progress to the next round, the player must eliminate at least 10 bad guys without hitting any innocent bystanders.

Black on Web

Comedian Jack Black lends his bizarre brand of reality to a movie about a video-store clerk who accidentally erases all of the tapes in his store and becomes an unlikely celebrity in New Line Cinema’s “Be Kind Rewind.” The lovable schlub then works with a pal to remake the movies that were erased.

The Web site (www.bekind movie.com) mimics the film’s action with a surprising loading screen. It appears the Internet itself was magnetized and erased by Mr. Black, so he has rebuilt it for visitors who can enjoy his own low-tech version.

The silliest parts of the faux Web site offer a piece of bent wire to control the mouse pointer and a Google logo made of clay. The highlight of the site is the activity Swede Yourself. “Sweding” is a new term applied to remaking something from scratch with whatever items are immediately available.

This activity requires that visitors upload a head shot of themselves and use it as part of poster art for six styles of movies. For example, pick adventure and become part of a “Lord of the Rings” poster with your head melded over Aragorn, or pick horror and become Freddie Krueger on the poster from “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Have a cool site for the online multimedia masses? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail to jszadkowski@washington times.com).

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