Saturday, 28 April 2012

Ringer- Season 1 (TV Series)

The CW network aired it’s last episode in the first (and possibly last) season of the so-called Sarah Michelle Gellar comeback 'Ringer' on the 17th of April, closing many chapters within the season long story, while setting up a few new ones, for a possible 2nd season return in September.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Bridget Kelly/Siobhan Martin
The premise of the show is as follows: Gellar plays a set of twin sisters, Bridget and Siobhan. Bridget, an ex-drug addict and stripper goes on the run when she is seen witnessing a crime at the hands of series antagonist Bodaway Macawi (Zahn McClarnon), who subsequently wants her dead whether or not she testifies against him. Bridget flees to her estranged ice cold twin sister in New York, to try and clear her head. However when Siobhan goes missing on a boat trip and is presumed dead, Bridget seizes the opportunity to pose as her sister from then on, fooling her husband, Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd) and best friend Gemma (Tara Summers) among others, as she is the only person who knows (or better yet, thinks) Siobhan is dead.

Complicated isn’t it? That’s the simplified version of the original idea of the show, which only gets more twisted and intricate as time goes on. This, remained one of the biggest problems I have with ‘Ringer’, which was a consistently difficult TV show to follow. The season did have its strong moments, as the audience is constantly on edge during the first few episodes as Bridget could possibly be discovered at any given point, but the show buckles and stumbles on its ridiculously soap-y plot points. 'Ringer' ranges from being a dark thriller-type drama, to a more mature 'Gossip Girl' in a matter of minutes, and whether that’s a good or bad thing, depends entirely on your opinion of whether "thriller" and 'Gossip Girl' are two things that can exist in perfect harmony.

Those who have worked on the show have said that although there are things that they wish they could take back or redo, they are mostly happy with the way things turned out with 'Ringer'. I however, remain on the fence with this show, although with the cliffhanger in the final episode, this will make for an interesting second season, if The CW gives the show a green light.

However soapy, or “Gossip Girl-y” ‘Ringer’ has been, I will say this: it’s been damn good to see SMG on TV again.


Key episodes:  “It’s Gonna Kill Me But I’ll Do It” “That’s What You Get For Trying To Kill Me” “I’m The Good Twin”

Friday, 27 April 2012

The Avengers (film)

My second film review in a row and second piece by Joss Whedon is Super-Superhero flick The Avengers, or Avengers Assembled (depending on your terrority to avoid confusion with the Spy fiction series-turned lacklustre movie of the same name). The film sees previous Marvel Studios headliners Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) Thor (Chris Hemsworth) Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) joined by Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who appear in Iron Man 2 and Thor respectively, to take on mad man and Thor antagonist, Loki (Tom Hiddlesworth) from, you guessed it- taking over the world.

The Avengers, which has been in the pipeline for Marvel for some years now, since the first Iron Man film in 2008, lived up to my expectations as a stellar two hour story/action piece, as every wonderfully over the top fight scene is met with a gut-wrenching drama or plan of action scene. At first meeting the group wastes no time butting heads with one another, letting their egos get the better of them in a “my power and abilities are better than yours” cockfight-esque manner, but ultimately find themselves united as New York finds itself on the brink of complete and utter destruction.

It should be said, probably most importantly that even though Downey Jr., Renner, Hemsworth and Johansson and therefore Stark, Barton, Thor and Romanov give great performances action as well as dialogue-wise, the ultimate pleasant surprise is in the hands of Captain America, who remained mostly unutilised in his own mediocre movie Captain America: The First Avenger. However, it must be noted that the smashing Hulk himself manages to yank the limelight off of his teammates and place it solely on himself as an incredible character, which has been overshadowed by two lukewarmly received films and a messy communicational breakdown between Edward Norton and Marvel Studios.

Ultimately, The Avengers is the incredible Superhero epic we’ve all been waiting for.

Oh, and of course, stay for the bonus scene during the credits.


Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Cabin in the Woods

Let me just say, from genius Joss Whedon, creator of shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel” and “Firefly and Drew Goddard, the man that brought us the terrifying and nauseating Cloverfield, I expected better. Critics and audiences alike are raving about The Cabin In The Woods, but for me, the film failed to live up to its hype.

Cabin starts off as any other teen horror movie would: a group of teenagers including Curt (a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth), not-soVirgin Dana (Kristen Connolly), new guy Holden (Jessie Williams), sexy yet bookish Jules (Anna Hutchinson) and Marty (soon-to-be Whedon regular Fran Kranz) heading off to a remote location where various strange occurrences forebode a series of gruesome hunting’s and killings from a mysterious sometimes human and often other worldly being set out to kill the protagonists for no real reason other than as a plot point for a gruesome and gory slasher flick.
From Left: Kristen Connolly (Dana Polk), Jessie Williams (Holden McCrea),
 and Chris Hemsworth (Curt Vaughn)

But, only this time, the strange occurrences and other worldly beings are being controlled by an elite member of scientists who have been enforced to set the plan in motion for a greater cause. 

Cabin is occasionally witty and very clever, but the film lacks on character development as a whole.Those looking for Whedon's usual inclusion of girl-power will find it within in the film, mostly from an unexpected source who shall remain unnamed for those who haven't seen it just yet. The first 50 minutes or so chop and change from being generic horror genre drivel, to smart and engaging, and then to eye-rollingly irritating, although it must be said that the final act that follows is both extremely watchable and entertaining.

Cabin isn’t as “scary” as it is “jumpy”, and unlike other films in its genre it is intentionally hilarious. It should be said that however you feel about The Cabin in the Woods, you cannot deny that the film is extremely original, although the film loses is ground in places so to speak it will be unlike anything else you have, and will, see this year.


Monday, 9 April 2012

Happy Endings- Season 2 (TV Series)

The US TV season is beginning to wind down, and breakout post-Friends sitcom Happy Endings has been one of the most enjoyable shows of the season. It started out as the “Year of Penny” and appeared to be that way throughout most of the season, with attention shifting from Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Alex’s (Elisha Cuthbert) non-wedding in the pilot to Penny’s (Casey Wilson) hilarious romantic desperation and “abbreeves”.

Although there is no official word as of yet whether Happy Endings will be renewed for a third season but hopefully the ABC network will make an announcement soon, as although the sitcom may not have the viewership of other ABC juggernauts Modern Family and Revenge or even the long-running Desperate Housewives which is set to finish for good next month, it deserves a place among the schedule as it is a hilarious and well put together series.

From Left: Brad Williams (Damon Wayans Jr.), Jane Williams (Eliza Coupe), Max Blum (Adam Pally),
Alex Kerkovich (Elisha Cuthbert), Penny Hartz (Casey Wilson) and Dave Rose (Zachary Knighton)
Happy Endings seems to have found its footing since its inception, as any show that features a group of six friends is bound to bare similarity to…well Friends; and although it may have finished in 2004, the image of the close knit clan stays ingrained in our minds and will do for years to come. And yes, even though we have the successful yet borderline snooze-some How I Met Your Mother, every other amazing sitcom seems to be relegated to cable channels, almost saying that you can’t be funny without being down right dirty. Happy Endings proves this wrong, by having a more diverse and interesting group of protagonists than many of their contemporary counterparts, the bloated, sluggish, gay Max (Adam Pally) and Yuppie-ish interracial couple Jane (Eliza Coupe) and Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.).

The season ended the same way the last did- with a wedding, only this time the wedding saw recurring character and super drama queen Derek, and his partner Eric tie the knot, as well as setting up a dreaded love triangle between Alex, Dave and Penny. But will the potential triangle make the show grow old fast? I hope not. I’m pre-ordering the box set as SOON as that hits amazon.


Key Episodes: “Yesandwitch”, “Spooky Endings” “Four Weddings and a Funeral (Minus Three Weddings and One Funeral)” 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Nicki Minaj- 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded' (album)

Like any artist following a super successful debut album, expectations are undoubtedly high for Miss Minaj’s second LP. Nicki has returned to us, without actually going anywhere for a Jekyll and Hyde-ish sophomore album of tracks for both hip-hop and dance-pop lovers. Nicki Minaj pushed the album back from its original release date of 14th of Feb this year to allow her more time to perfect the album. But to be honest, the end result is almost a complete mess, as I find the album to be incredibly lacklustre, not living up to the hype at all.

Although a string of mediocre songs leaked ahead of time before the album tracklist was finalised, I still had hopes that this album would be incredibly strong, but the fact of the matter is, that Minaj’s rap half of the album isn’t nearly as lyrically on-point as Pink Friday, or her mixtapes that preceded the album, while the dance songs are mostly redundant and end up sounding like every other artist out at the moment only worse, failing to offer anything exciting or new. Album opener “Roman Holiday” would be an incredible song if it wasn’t for the cringe-worthy chorus, and “Whip It” ends up borrowing a verse out of the previously unreleased Nicki Minaj and Cassie track “Fuck U Silly”. But it’s not all bad, as the infectious “Va Va Voom”, “Pound The Alarm” and gritty “Champion” featuring Young Jeezy, Nas, and non-husband Drake end up saving the album from sophomore-slump hell. 

What’s puzzling is that Nicki omits the buzz track “Roman in Moscow” calling the song “wack” when in reality, it’s better than half of the songs on the album. It might be a strong statement to say that Nicki has bought into her own hype for her second effort, but I still have hopes that a third album will be able to marry Minaj’s commercial and “bad-bitch” sides equally, without having to divide fans with a schizophrenic album full of filler.

As much as I like Nicki Minaj, this is extremely disappointing.

Key tracks: Champion, I Am Your Leader

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

It's On Like Aubrey-Kong: Aubrey O'Day vs. Arsenio Hall in 'The Celebrity Apprentice'

Normally I only do reviews for music and films but I wanted to take the time to write about something I feel quite passionate about, and I think I will continue to do this every time I get the inspiration to.

For anyone who watched the latest episode of The Celebrity Apprentice from across the pond was sure to have seen some incredible fireworks in its 3 hour drama piece. After the first elimination the teams were switched up, leaving the female team ‘Forte’ forced to interact with the male team ‘Unanimous’.

Now let’s cut to the chase: a bitter argument erupted between contestants Aubrey O’Day and Arsenio Hall, after Hall stated that O’Day tried to take credit for something in the task she didn’t do. It resulted in Hall, as well as other team members labelling Aubrey as “not a team player”, and agreeing that if the team lose the challenge, Aubrey should be fired.  By some miracle Hall’s team, to which he was the project manager for, actually won the task. But as the winning group went back to the lounge to watch the rest of the show unfold, visibly emotional Aubrey decided not to follow her team, opting to take the lift out of Trump Towers, seemingly eliminating herself from the show in the process.

Arsenio Hall
I have a number of problems with both contestants, although I must say, Aubrey is- or was my favourite out of the remaining cast members. Hall has had it out for O’Day for a while, as he previously described her as “so self-righteous” and that it was no surprise that Diddy ended up firing her from her former girl group Danity Kane. But what’s funny is that a number of things O’Day was called out on during this episode were very reminiscent of her final days within Danity Kane itself. There are two main reasons as to why she got the boot. One: because of her “raunchy” image, and two: the seemingly disrespectful way in which she spoke to Diddy. Furthermore, Diddy’s last words before she was ousted from the quintet were “I didn’t work these amount of years to have you disrespect me” to which you can faintly hear Aubrey say “I’m not meaning to disrespect you”, which may show that Aubrey herself, hasn’t found the tactful way of being the opinionated woman she proclaims to be, without causing offense or disrespect to others.

Meanwhile on The Celebrity Apprentice, it should be noted that a number of contestants have had their personal feelings get in the way of what should be about business. Aubrey herself has been named a bully by some, in reference to treatment of her team mate and former Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza, whose accent she frequently imitates, while also referring to the car the group has to ride around in the “cool van”. Although O’Day later cleared up her "cool van" comments, as well as the way she sees Dayana, some are sceptical about whether she should be representing the charity she does, which is GLSEN- The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which is hoping to eradicate bullying others solely on their sexual orientation. However, Hall is also guilty of making personal comments to his now team member O’Day, by hinting that she shouldn’t even be on the show, as he "googled her and a naked picture of her with a gut popped up", while allegedly referring to her as a w**** and a c*** to other cast members.
Aubrey O'Day

I’ve come to realise that a large part as to why Aubrey is treated the way she is, (as well as every person in the limelight to an extent), comes down to the fact that people define her by her image. If she didn't possess such a buxom figure and a heavily-made up face she would not receive the treatment she does, and people would actually take notice of the fact that she is a talented singer, songwriter and dancer. What I’m trying to say is that it is difficult for a lot of people to take O’Day seriously as an intelligent, creative and opinionated woman when she looks the way that she does. It is a fact that Aubrey, along with former team members comedian Lisa Lampanelli and 80s singer Debbie Gibson were often the three members of the team who did the heavy lifting so to speak, as far as creating and developing various tasks, to which everyone can vouch for.

Although The Celebrity Apprentice is a reality show, which by nature must include a certain amount of entertainment and drama, it is also a place were great celebrity minds are supposed to come together as a team to raise money for charity. Trump must have seen something in all 18 original members of the current 12th season good enough to represent themselves articulately and professionally, as well as representing their respective charities.

Maybe it is just clever editing but who knows? The reality of reality television is that scenarios are chopped, changed, and edited to make things look one way or another. Close former team member Lampanelli called out the NBC network for its clever editing of the scenario, stating that “the stuff they cut out of the boardroom was disgusting,” and that it will “all come out.”

As for anyone that thinks that I am taking sides, I am not. Both Hall and O’Day neither 100% in the right or wrong for their actions, but IF Aubrey does decide to come back, there is no reason why she can’t be humble along with being the opinionated, creative, and intelligent woman she is.