Thursday, 20 September 2012

Dredd 3D

I couldn’t help but cry out in metaphorical anguish when I first heard the news of yet another remake/reboot coming this year, this time in the form of 2000 AD comic-turned-film character Judge Dredd. I also couldn’t help but role my eyes when I watched the trailer. In fact, my expectations were so low that I never even thought I’d waste my money bothering to see the film. Ultimately it would've been an absolutely foolish decision as Dredd 3D turned out to    be the most positive surprise of the year so far.

Dredd 3D, stars Karl Urban as the titular character, a law enforcer in a dystopian future where such are given the right to not only arrest and throw the guilty in prison, but also the right to sentence and even execute the guilty as they see fit. Dredd takes on new recruit Cassandra Anderson, (Juno’s bff Olivia Thirlby) an orphan and potent psychic on his latest mission to stop the terrifying and criminally insane “Ma-Ma”, (Lena Headey) a powerful drug dealer and former prostitute who has forced ownership over one of the most dominating and prominent apartment complex’s in the district.

Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby)
The film achieves everything it needs to within its 95 minute run time. Although there is little to no explanation as to who Dredd actually is, the charismatic figure commands the attention of the audience, as well as the characters on screen with his domineering nature. Stylistically the film bares a number of similarities to Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner- a bleak future in which the world is dark, dank and in complete and utter turmoil.

The pairing of juggernaut Dredd, who is as unforgiving as he is brutal and pixie sized Anderson, who looks like a living Final Fantasy character is perfect. In fact, whole cast and action scenes come together brilliantly throughout. But what comes as the biggest surprise overall is the fact that it is only one of two 3D films I have witnessed in existence with actually great 3D scenes. 

I can't wait to see this again.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

P!nk- The Truth About Love

P!nk, one of the highest selling female artists in the world is also usually one of the most underrated and sometimes forgotten. In a world of Nicki Minaj’s, Rihanna’s and Katy Perry’s, P!nk (real name Alicia Moore) has proven herself to be substance over style, time and time again. Most recently with her latest album 'The Truth About Love'.

Influenced by the birth of her first daughter Willow, as well as the split and reconciliation of husband Carey Hart, over 13 tracks (17 if you have the deluxe edition) P!nk details, well…the truth about love, enlisting frequent production collaborators Billy Mann and Max Martin, along with newer ones, such as Eminem, Lily Rose Cooper (formally Allen) and Nate Ruess of band ‘fun.’.

The sound of the album is the P!nk we are all already so accustomed to: loud, guitar driven, fist pumping pop that’s upbeat in sound, with a little bit of ‘f*ck you’ thrown in for good measure. Sadly, it doesn’t always work, as a number of the songs turn out to be filler for what should be a great album. Take out some of the harsher lyrics and ‘Walk of Shame’, ‘My Signature Move’ and ‘Here Comes The Weekend’ could easily be cuts from any Glee compilation album. Not really too fitting for someone people often refer to as one of the leading bad girls in pop music.

However, there are some beautiful highlights on 'The Truth About Love'. The instrumental on opening track “All We Are” wouldn’t sound out of place on Kanye West‘s 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy', and second single ‘Try’ is a wonderfully written un-cringeworthy ballad. Another one of the albums strongest points happen towards the end, as Moore “basks in the afterglow” of an old lover on ‘Where Did The Beat Go’, as she ponders what’s happened to the love she and her companion used to share.

Altogether, The Truth About Love starts off strong and begins to falter, ultimately finding its strength towards it's climax. The ultimate strength in this case being P!nk’s voice: one that most popular artists today can't exactly claim as their best asset themselves.


Key tracks: All We Are, Where Did The Beat Go?, The Great Escape

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

List: The 8 Great Returning Shows

Yes, 8 is an odd number to count down...well, anything - but with the new US TV season starting this week, I've profiled the 8 returning shows, that have me in a current frenzy anticipating their return. So here goes:

8. American Horror Story (Season 2)
FX- 17.10.12
Officially titled American Horror Story: Asylum, creator Ryan Murphy opted for the second season scare-fest to be a completely separate affair to what was offered last year. This time, the setting is, of course, a mental asylum, detailing the various goings-on with both the patients and the staff within its 1950s setting. Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Zachary Quinto who all had roles in the first series will return as completely new characters, with details only revealing that they will play the “opposite” of who they portrayed last year. They will be joined by newcomers Chloe Sevigny, Jenna Dewan and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, along with a host of others.

7. Modern Family (Season 4)
ABC- 26.9.12
Ratings and critical killer Modern Family returns to ABC at the end of September, with big changes about to emerge. With the heart-breaking scene at the end of season 3 in which Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) had finally had enough of the stress of trying to have another baby with partner Cam (Eric Stonestreet), Gloria (Sofia Vergara) announced that she was pregnant with her second child. Being a huge comedic success I’m anxious to know how it’ll play out…as it’s been announced that the entire first episode will revolve around Gloria breaking the news to the extended family. There are sure to be fireworks, both of the good, and the awful kind.

6. 30 Rock Season 7
NBC- 4.10.12
Liz and co. will be talking their final bow in December, after the show finishes its short and sweet 7th and last season. 30 Rock can easily be called by many (including me) one of the best contemporary American sitcoms of the last 10 years, loosely based on creator and star Tina Fey’s early experience’s as an ex-head writer for the now ironically unfunny Saturday Night Live. The show returned mid-season in early 2012 and the signs that the show was standing on its last legs were imminent, due to the fact that it had lost so much of the spark and wit it carried in it's earlier seasons. Nevertheless, it’ll be sad to see Lemon and Donaghy part ways for good.
Until a film adaptation is announced.

5. Parks and Recreation Season 5
NBC- 20.9.12
Golden Leslie Knope returns for a full length fifth season on Thursday the 20th with a changing setting taking place for the cast. As Ben (Adam Scott) heads for Washington and Andy (Chris Pratt) hints at joining the police force, Knope will be taking her newly elected position in City Council when the show returns. Parks & Recreation has struggled to obtain a large viewership since its inception, but with its small yet devoted fanbase, NBC has given one of the funniest shows on television chance after chance as it rightfully deserves. Both Lucy Lawless and comedian Jon Glaser have been tapped for guest roles this season, with the latter playing Leslie’s new nemesis within her role in Office.

4. Revenge Season 2
ABC- 30.9.12
Although I named Revenge “the show Gossip Girl wishes it was” may have seemed harsh, it is also incredibly true. The surprise hit of last year, moves into the coveted Sunday night slot once occupied by Desperate Housewives. Styled as an appropriation of The Count of Monte Cristo, the series follows Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) and her subtle and extremely personal quest for vengeance. Many questions were left unanswered at the end of the first season, ready to be unfolded bit by bit over 22 episodes starting on the 30th of September. While it has been revealed that Emily’s mother is very much alive, the role that she’ll play this season remains completely unknown. It would even be completely unsurprising if she had her own manipulative plans for Miss Thorne herself.

3. Scandal
ABC- 27.9.12
You know what (rhetorical) question I’m gonna ask...yet I'm gonna say it anyway: “Who Is Quinn Perkins?” Scandal, fronted by Kerry Washington and created by Grey’s Anatomy and TV juggernaut Shonda Rhimes left us all wondering last season who the hell the woman Olivia had invited to work alongside of truly is. Washington’s character, Olivia Pope, serves as the head of a crisis management firm, dealing with minimising political scandals in and out of the White House. 7 episodes were shown on ABC earlier this Summer, completely proving that less is more; as each episode flowed smoothly and concisely, without any waffle or unnecessary plot turns. More TV shows need to learn from this.

2. Happy Endings Season 3
ABC- 26.10.12
The most underrated sitcom returns towards the end of October for its third outing. At the beginning of the last season, the show was dubbed “The Year of Penny”, as an ode to the hilarious show standout Penny Hartz. As the dreaded and inevitable “love triangle” started to rear its head earlier this year, one can only hope that Happy Endings writers can tackle the cliché sitcom go-to the only way Happy Endings should…by making overt and unsubtle references to ‘Friends’.
Although it is one of my favourites, the fact that it’ll air the same time as the universally adored New Girl worries me. This better not be the last season already.

1. X Factor Season 2
Fox- 12.9.12
Judge me. Judge me all you want, but I’m not even gonna lie and say I’m not looking forward to seeing you-know-who on the judging panel this week. Did I watch it last year? No. But this is soon to change. A third of people I speak to about the upcoming season say they’ll watch it because they love Ms. Spears, the second say she’s a mess which is exactly why they’ll watch, and the third don’t care…but are gonna watch it anyway. Having been on reality TV overload last year, I completely neglected the first season of the show. But with the addition of Britney and Demi on the judging panel, it’s sure to be must-see-TV. 

Thursday, 6 September 2012

NBC Thinks It's 2002

Christina Aguilera at the 'Blind Auditions' for The Voice Season 3
and Britney Spears at the first open auditions for The X Factor Season 2
Two of the most eagerly anticipated reality television shows will be making their return when the US TV season kicks off next week, and dirty tricks are being played before either show has even aired.

News has recently arrived that those at NBC have decided to air its sleeper success 'The Voice', with judges Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Cee-Lo Green and Christina Aguilera directly against the second season of Fox’s 'The X Factor', with judges Simon Cowell and L.A Reid along with new additions Demi Lovato and Britney Spears. Originally, the former was to reappear on Monday the 10th over two nights, but a third has now been added, airing on Wednesday 12th at 8pm. The same as The X Factor. Although it still remains unknown whether or not further episodes will air against each other, I think it's safe to say this won't be the last time either.

Those that are pretending that NBC did so because of the similarity between the two shows can drop it, as it’s a move that has obviously been calculated because of who is sitting in the judges seats this year. It also ties into age old conflicts of women being pitted against each other unnecessarily within the music industry...and the media industry in general. NBC is embarrassingly trying to reignite an old tabloid rivalry between Aguilera and Spears; one that hasn’t existed for years and one that neither star pays attention to. Both 'The X Factor' and 'The Voice' could easily have co-existed together on separate nights which would have meant that both networks, as well as the fans would win. 

l-r: Reid, Spears, Lovato & Cowell at the
Fox Upfronts in May 2012
'The X Factor' debuted last September with just over 12 million viewers, falling drastically short of Simon Cowell’s original statement that anything under 20 million would be “disappointing”. Meanwhile, 'The Voice' which is entering its 3rd season has continued to grow since its inception, with its Season 2 Super Bowl lead-in watched by 37 million viewers, and subsequent auditions averaging at around 15 million viewers an episode. Cowell has spoken out against the move, reportedly stating that "this is a cynical, cold-hearted, unprofessional way of doing business", calling out NBC as being unfair towards judges on both sides, as well as its viewers.

While I remain doubtful that this kind of sudden move would’ve occurred between two male judges that have had a long history, the final thing I will point out is that NBC could’ve potentially shot themselves in the foot with this. The buzz of Britney Spears joining the panel for The X Factor seems unprecedented, as interviews and fluid promotional material from the artist has been few and far between since 2007, and to see the star on unscripted (and later) live television is a huge deal for many people. Only time will tell which show this season has fared better. But I know what I’ll be watching more of.