Category Archives: Entertainment

No, you’re not a misogynist if you don’t like the new Ghostbusters trailer.

It’s been four days since the new Ghostbusters trailer dropped and reactions couldn’t be more divided and vehement. This reboot comes to us 32 years after the first time we were asked ,’Who ya gonna call?’.

The new production features an all-female quartet of Kristen Wiig, Melissa Mcarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as the titular team of scientists dedicated to cleansing the big apple of paranormal activity. Take a look at the trailer if you haven’t already caught it.

The day after the trailer dropped, the internet was ablaze with comments.

While some will point to sexism as the reason behind some of the criticism, and others will say the film is pandering to the social awareness of the millennial generation. But before you make your judgement on the movie, I implore you to watch everything that made the original trailer so much fun to watch.

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New Sounds: Linkin Park

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Artist: Linkin Park
Label: Warner Bros.
3/5 Stars
By William Johnson
Six piece rock group, Linkin Park, released their fourth studio album entitled A Thousand Suns, on Tuesday.
Following in the steps of Minutes to Midnight (2008), A Thousand Suns is an experimental audio book that mixes styles found in previous albums with the bands newer sound. The result is something similar to when Ford revamped the body of the 2010 mustang: a more developed and streamlined version of a good idea.
The record is a concept album, the concept being nuclear war. The title is a reference to a Hindu proverb, Bhagvad Gita, that is used an allusion to a cataclysmic explosion. The first few songs are slow and short, with increasing action. Towards the middle of the album, the songs  begin to climax in volume and mood. The intensity slows down dramatically towards the end for a power ballad.
The first half of the album showcases the newer style of Linkin Park, evident in the electronic artsy rock that last for the first seven tracks. Even guitarist/rapper Mike Shinoda’s lyrical flow feels out of place in the tribal themed track, “When They Come For Me”.  The second half of the album picks up with is sure to be a single, “Waiting For The End”.  The way Shinoda and lead singer Chester Bennington perform is reminiscent of previous albums on this track.
A new element to this album is the inclusion of completely acoustic track, entitled The Messenger. In it Bennington wails about the enabling power of love. In the chorus, his voice can heard cracking on the lyrics, “When life leaves us blind, love keeps us kind.” This amount of vulnerability is new for the harsh growling singer.
Another new dynamic in this album is a singing duet between Shinoda and Bennington entitled “Iridescent”.  What starts off as Shinoda leading the ballad over a piano accompaniment, turns into an arena rock ballad and then back into the fading piano chords playing background to Bennington’s crooning.
This album is a bag of mixed nuts, best served on shuffle. While it exceeds Minutes to Midnight, this record is still reaching for it’s own sound, something that was clearly established in older records.

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You Mustn’t Be Afraid To Dream A Little Bigger, Darling!

In a season normally reserved for big budget action movies with plenty of explosions and little content, Screenwriter and Director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) delivers something just short of a modern masterpiece.

Summer movies are expected by many to entertain audiences without involving them. Your standard summer action movie is full of the same cyclical process that results in the girl being saved and room left open for a sequel, given enough people see the original. Summer movie goers may be in for a surprise with Inception.

This film is set in an alternate reality where it is possible to navigate through the human subconscious while people sleep. In other words, It is possible to invade a person’s dreams. Few people know how to do this, and of those few, there is an even fewer number who navigate through the minds of others in search of profitable information. These individuals are called Extractors. Enter Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), an Extractor who is working outside of the U.S., on the run for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. With his team of specialized dream navigators, He takes one last job that may finally bring him home in exchange for doing the impossible: Inception.

Nolan grasps his audiences attention from the beginning, and holds on to it until the very last scene ( Which in my theater, caused plenty of cheers and gasps). The idea of Inception is fed the audience slowly. Nolan requires that viewers think accordingly and sometimes takes their intelligence for granted. For those who have trouble keeping up, the central theme of the movie is repeated several times throughout.

This is a visually stunning mash up of every type of movie people have come to like. It’s cyberpunk-heist thriller that’s beautiful to look at. With scenes that defy laws of physics with eloquence, It’s hard to not forget ignore the casts performance, at first.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives a convincing performance as a man stuck between the lines of reality, who just wants to go home. Anyone with the slightest powers of empathy can feel for his character in this techincally and emotionally complex film.

Joseph Gordon-Levvitt (500 Days of Summer) gives a cold, distinguished performance as Cobb’s main partner, Arthur. His character is often criticized for not having enough imagination throughout the film, but Gordon-Levvitt fills the role with a quiet intensity. English actor Tom Hardy also portays his role as Eames, The Forger, with a likable flair. He and Levvitt share a few moments of on screen banter over a sour past relationship.

Every heist needs an inexperienced newcomer, and Ellen Page ( Juno) fills that role. Her character, Ariane, is the person who must design the dream worlds in which people are brought into. Though without a particularly dazzling performance, her presence is felt in key moments that help define Leo’s character. The rest of the cast gave solid performances, including Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai), who plays a mysterious investor.

Without a doubt, Inception is the best movie of the summer, so far. It does what so many other summer movies fail to do and invites the audience to think along with it until the final scene. This movie may not be for all, however. Some may deem the concept as too far fetched and others have complained of it being too much like The Matrix meets Oceans Eleven. I however, stand unmoved.

I recommend this movie to anyone who will allow their imagination to be open to the possibilities of Inception.

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Introducing Donald Glover

If you’ve seen an episode of 30 Rock, Community, or watched anything by comedic group, Derrick Comedy, you’ve heard the material of Donald Glover before. However, up until the past year, you may not have known it.

As the face of Troy in NBC’s 30 Community, Donald plays a washed up high school jock, still clinging on to his letterman jacket. The 26 year old began writing for NBC’s 30 Rock , right after graduating from NYU’s Dramatic Writing program. It was at NYU that he started to play around with music and founded the comedic group, Derrick Comedy. While at NBC, he began writing stand up material and subsequently left the show after it’s third season to pursue a career on the stage. Shortly after leaving 30 Rock, however, Donald auditioned and received the role of Troy.

Derrick Comedy is a sketch comedy group that produces a series of Youtube videos, many of which Donald helped write. The group formed at NYU while performing in the comedy group, The Wicked Wicked Hammerkatz. The group released a slew of videos and is now premiering it’s first feature length movie in select cities nationwide.

Now, the entertainer is releasing albums, performing on Comedy Central, and wrapping up his first season on Community – all in the past 6 months.

Donald was recently the subject of a social media campaign to portray the first African-American incarnation of Spider-Man. Fans tweeted constantly for the chance to have Donald Portay the popular webslinger. Although newcomer Andrew Garfield received the role, Donald hasn’t slowed down. On the 16th of July, He flew to Montreal to receive the Rising Star comedy award at the annual Just for Laughs festival. With a year as successful as his, it doesn’t come as a surprise. In The midst of the Community season in March, Donald’s first stand-up special premiered on Comedy Central. This is where I first encountered his standup ability and had to looked him up.

Earlier this month, Donald also dropped his third album, CULDESAC, under the moniker of Childish Gambino. He has repeatedly stated in interviews that he uses the pseudonym to disassociate fans from his comedic efforts. In March, he told New York Magazine the name came from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator he and a few buddies in college were playing around with, and has stuck with the entertainer since. The album is an indie-rap production similar to artists like Kid Cudi or Drake, with wordplay a step below Lil Wayne. Donald infuses indie beats and hip-hop bragging in this unique collection. For those on the fence about it, or are definitely interested, Donald provides all of his music free on his site. There you can find everything from his first mixtape, “ I Am Just a Rapper” to his current efforts.

And as for Community, it’s been renewed for a second season to premiere September 23rd. Glover is set to reprise his role as Troy on Thursdays at 8 CST.

For Donald‘s latest album, go to http://www.culdesac-album.com/

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First Impressions of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

By William Johnson

M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) attempts to translate the entire first season of a popular animated series in his newest film, The Last Airbender.

In a world where the four elements ( Air, Water, Earth, Fire) can be controlled by special beings known as benders, there is one person who can wield them all. The Avatar is a bender who reincarnates in a cycle among the nations through each generation. For example, if he or she were born in the earth nation one century, they would reappear in the fire nation the next century. This person serves as a medium to the spirit world to who keeps the balance of power between the nations. Siblings Katara and Sokka find the avatar in a dormant state and race around the world with him to help him learn all of the elements so he may overthrow the tyrannical fire nation and it’s leader, The Fire Lord.

Fans of the series will make sure notice of the differences between the film and the series immediately. While no film is ever just like the creative entity it’s based on, M. Night Shyamalan makes sure to remove any comedic value from this film. This was something the series relied heavily upon in the character of Sokka, who is represented by Jackson Hale (Twilight). Instead, he opts for a more serious version of the character whose bland love story isn’t presented with the slightest bit of interest.

It doesn’t, however, take a fan of the series to notice the evident flaws in this film. The credit for this underperforming movie doesn’t all belong to Mr. Shyamalan. This film is anchored down by a weak script, unbelievably bad child acting, and poor cinematic presentation. At times, the movie felt unfinished and rough. The acting from newcomer Noah Ringer, as Avatar Aang, felt as pretentious and cheesy as the rest of the film. The movie didn’t involve anyone of the audience who hadn’t seen the original series, thusly alienating anyone who had the misfortune of trying out what they expected to be a coherent movie.

Of all the things this film does wrong, it still has the gimmick of bending the elements. Even in this, the production value felt low like a made for TV film or straight to DVD release. When the movie crawls within the last ten minutes, and the climax is happening, the cinematic quality shoots up as if to reward the audience for having to sit through the first hour and a half.

The one thing done right in this movie are the fight scenes. Choreographed sequences in the film show where all of the effort from the crew was placed, by both the actors and the post production team. The final battle scenes are intense and flashy. They do not, however, eliminate the rest of the movie from my memory.

The Last Airbender proved to be a movie that I could hardly sit through, and much less recommend to anyone besides the most diehard of fans.

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I love It When a Plan Comes Together.

By William Johnson

The 2010 film remake of the 1980’s action adventure  television series features an ensemble of stars direct by Joe Carnahan (Smoking Aces).

The film is about four Iraq War veterans and Special Forces servicemen who are attempting to prove their innocence after being framed for a crime they didn’t commit. After escaping from military prison, the men must chase down the real culprits in order to clear their names.

This film feels like Carnhan’s last movie, Smoking Ace, an adrenaline injected thrill ride with little attention to detail. This isn’t the type of film that will leave you pondering over cliffhangers or unexplained plot twists. The A Team is pretty frank in it’s delivery, as if offers no illusions of grandeur of deeper meaning. That being said, this is a classic summer action movie.

Liam Neeson (Taken) and Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) both offer their usual on screen personas. Cooper is, of course, cast as a smooth talking ladies man with a sense of humor, while Neeson retreats to his usual wise, father figure role. The two characters, John “Hannibal” Smith and Templeton “Face” Peck, are portrayed believably by the Neeson and Cooper.

The role of Mr. T’s character, B.A., was filled by UFC mixed martial artist Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (The Ultimate Fighter). Rampage took some time out of the ring to prepare and film this movie. He made headlines by losing his first fight after the movie to rival Rashad Evans. Jackson provides what seems to be a caricature of the original B.A. His actions sequences are well choreographed, and he provides the comic relief needed in such an action oriented movie. Where he seems to fall short on the screen is in dialogue. His lines felt rushed and jumbled at times when his character was actually required to speak.

South African Sharlto Copley (District 9) delivers an unremarkable performance as the team’s aviation specialist H.M. Murdock. His character normally serves as the get away driver and saving grace of the team with little involvement with action of the plan.

This film uses all of the original catchphrases from Hannibal’s “I love it when a plan comes together”, to Mr. T’s, “ I ain’t getting on no plane” and “You’re crazy fool!”.  B.A.’s fear of flying is used prominently, along with a nod to the classic GMC van he used to drive.

Those going to see this film should expect a montage of gunshots and things blowing up, along with a few laughs. The main problem isn’t with the movie, which achieved what it set out for. The vehicle on which the movie is based, the original series, is shallow. For those who are fans of the original series and are feeling a bit of nostalgia or just want an action oriented movie experience, I recommend the movie. However, in what feels like a two hour long episode of the classic, some viewers may get annoyed with seeing the team in the same type of predicaments, only to be saved in the same formulaic fashion.

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Apple’s iPhone 4 feels incomplete.

By William Johnson

On Monday June 7, Apple announced the arrival of the most anticipated device in the past year. While many speculated the name of the new device to be the iPhone 4G, Apple dropped the G and released the iPhone 4. Although it may not alarm most consumers, the lack of that one letter from Apple’s latest project is disturbing news for some tech enthusiasts.

Technically speaking, this phone is the leader in the smartphone pack. Well Almost. The HTC Evo 4G is the only phone close enough in specs to match Apple’s latest marvel. Both phones can brag about thier equally mind blowing features.  The Evo has a 4.3 inch screen as compared the the iPhone’s 3.5 inch display. HTC also loaded it’s creation with a ridiculously amazing 8 megapixel camera as compared to Apple’s 5 megapixel. The iPhone 4 boasts the highest resolution screen for a mobile phone with breathtaking 960 x 640 display, virtually eliminating  those rough pixels from the users eye. The new “retina display” achieves a quality above what the human eye can detect. The human eye can only see up to 320 pixel per inch, while Apple has included 326 per inch in it’s new phone. The new iPhone also advertises a long battery life (7 hours of 3G talk, 6 hours of 3G browsing, 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours of video playback, 300 hours of standby), something that has been a constant complaint of Evo users. Both support video calling and HD video recording, although Apple includes it’s patented media editing software in the phone, allowing for quick video and photo edits.

The defining difference between the two phones is the lack of 4G in the iPhone 4. While the use of 4G kills the battery life of the Evo, it’s HTC’s one major advantage over the Apple. Apple is in an exclusivity deal with AT&T until 2012. So, until the nations largest wireless provider can upgrade it’s coverage to 4G, Apple is limited to 3G.

Speculations as to when the phone will become 4G capable are flying around the net, but nobody can be sure until AT&T’s 4G LTE network is operational sometime in 2011, which has been confirmed.

Without 4G, this phone is severely hindered in it’s capabilities. For those of you who don’t know, AT&T is advertising that it’s LTE will be able to reach speeds of 140 Mega bits per second, 10 times the speed of the current HSDPA (3G) network. Imagine your iPhone ten times faster, atleast. 4G is necessary for this product to rech it’s full potential.

While I fully believe in the awesomeness of the iPhone, this incarnation isn’t for me. Although it is a great phone, Apple can and will do better. It seems like an attempt by Apple to keep the customers it had from leaving before they can achieve 4G. Like any tech savvy person, I’ll be waiting for Apple to add a G onto it’s latest product before I blow another $199.

For a comparison chart of the two phones, click here, compliments of Techtorial.

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