All posts by The Cynic

First Look: Halle Berry’s “Storm” in X-Men: Days of Future Past!

Source: SuperHeroHype / Bryan Singer’s Twitter

Well, I guess my initial thoughts that Halle Berry wouldn’t be returning to reprise her role as Storm can finally be proven wrong. The X-Men Alum himself has just posted a photo of the actress in what appears to be her coolest outfit yet, as well as a new hairstyle. I can’t say I really dig the hair, but that uniform of hers has got ‘awesome’ written all over it. If this is the theme that their uniforms will have, I can’t wait to see the rest of the cast.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is directed by Bryan Singer, and houses an all-star cast in the form of Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore & Peter Dinklage. The film hits theaters next summer, on July 18, 2014.

First Look: Final Man of Steel Trailer

I admit that ever since first news of Man of Steel broke, I was skeptical that it’d end up being any good. Especially after being force-fed Bryan Singer’s love letter to Richard Donner. But then news came that Zack Snyder would be attached to direct, and better still, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer would be attached to write the story. After the huge success of Nolan’s Batman Series, my hope for a half-decent Superman film didn’t seem too far-fetched anymore. And now my fears can be put to rest, thanks to the latest Man of Steel trailer. I could go on and on, but I’ll let you enjoy the visual awe for yourself.

Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

The Cynic here, with my first truly ‘negative nancy’ review of the year. Not because this film was the first one thus far to rub me the wrong way, but because it was the first one to actually upset me enough to want to bitch about it. So here goes, read it or not, it’s your choice.

Critique: Before I begin, allow me to explain that I am a huge Fanger. I love vampire novels, stories, movies, TV shows, and I love them to death. So when I find one that just completely fucks up the original lore and makes the myth itself into a joke, I challenge it to no end. This was the case (dare I say, ‘war’) with the Twilight franchise. It turned the vampire lore into a big pathetic gay joke that even George Takei himself cringed at the sight of. Oddly enough, that was NOT the case here. Other than the vampires walking around in direct sunlight with no explanation to that effect whatsoever, I didn’t really find all that much to complain about regarding the lore/mythos of Vampire.

No, what I did find to complain about here was pretty much every single thing else in this film, from the history, the story, the pacing, the special effects and more importantly, the visual effects. Honestly, was this film shot on camcorders? The visuals were God awful. It was like I fell asleep and dreamt this movie, it was that bad. So where to begin? Where to start, and what to discuss? I guess I’ll save the best for last, so let’s go with the first thing on my list; The Story. It was horribly written, period. It was just not well planned out, which isn’t asking much seeing as were it got its source material from, but still. It should have been handled better. I didn’t feel the presence of Lincoln and who he was until well after he became President, which was damn near half way through the movie.

And the story between Mary Todd and Abraham was just horribly put together. They were the most important people in each other’s lives, and they turned her into a side character only allowed to show up just to acknowledge that she was still alive Hell, Mary Elizabeth Winsted was the only breath of fresh air in this film (and that’s not just because I think she’s totally beautiful). The backstory on the vampires were poorly written, and though it wasn’t a complete foul up on the lore itself, I feel like they just gave the quick history lessons that it did to get past it and move on to the rest of the movie, which was a total failure right there, because when you watch a vampire movie it’s not about the action, but about the history of said vampires. You don’t gage the kind of characters they are by the people they present themselves to be in the story NOW; you gage the kind of characters they are by the history in which they’ve lived from their first kill to their introduction in the story. That was completely absent here, and it was clearly noticed by a Fanger like me.

And fast forwarding through the whole of the Civil War just to show off Gettysburg? That was just a horrible choice by whoever wrote this and made me feel like they thought me an idiot that wouldn’t recognize any other Civil War skirmishes other than the main ones. Anyway, let’s move on to the next thing on my list that plagued me; the Special Effects. There isn’t much to say here other than; it sucked. It totally and completely sucked. And when that vampire threw a fraking horse at Lincoln, I swear that every single person in the theater must have heard me laugh my ass off. It was just, that whole scene was horribly, horribly done. I honestly do not understand how movies are made these days. How can certain movies with little budget end up with amazing special effects, while other films with huge budgets give birth to such garbage? Seriously, I don’t get it.

Next up… demanding to know exactly why they chose to make this film using footage that made it look like it was all shot on 1980s camcorders. Yes, next up is the Visual Effects, people. Suffice to say; it fucking sucked, and unless I kept my eyes completely open as wide as possible and continuously drank from my drink, I would have thought myself asleep having a nightmare that I was watching ALVH instead of Brave, playing right next door. Unfortunately, every time I slapped myself I realized that nope, I was still awake and still here watching. Did they do it to get that classic 1800s feel? Maybe try and take us into their little twisted world where one of our greatest Presidents was in fact, a man who only became the Commander in Chief to slay a few hundred southern vampires? No? Whatever the case, it was a piss-poor choice and I did not like it.

Alright, I need to close because I’m only finding more disgust here. So with that, I give you the last straw, the main complaint, the one thing that just made me cringe with shame; the History of Abraham Lincoln. First the book, now a movie, soon to be common knowledge by young folk who will grow up to write essays in high school that’ll be read by teachers who will crap themselves then quit their jobs out of a loss of respect for mankind and their fellow Americans. To think that this – a movie – could have that kind of impact, downright terrifies me to no end. I’d spew some line about Abraham Lincoln rolling over in his grave, but someone might end up commenting back that he might not be in there, because he could be a vampire. Yeah, go fuck yourselves.

My Final Say (that will never, fucking, change): 4/10

What’s on the Tube: Smash, S1, EP2 – “The Callback”

Episode 02: “The Callback” – We open to Karen (McPhee) in a (character-filled) pub in what appears to be a laid back tryout session at first. All of the brass is there, overseeing and apparently enjoying her cover performance of “Call Me” before we are whisked back into reality with Karen at her job. I found her performance fresh, but at the same time, a little on the amateurish side. Her vocal range is great, but not perfect and it can easily be noticed when up against someone like Ivy Lynn (Hilty), who excels at the vocal aspect of the show. There is a plus though, as I can relate to her still being “fresh” and not “seasoned” like Ivy is. So in this aspect, I can forgive Karen’s lack of range.

One thing I did enjoy even more so than I did in the Pilot episode was the presence of Julia (Messing), who’s story is really starting to take shape, while her struggle to adopt an immigrant baby is beginning to tear into her relationship with her husband Frank (James), who is torn between wanting to adopt a baby and going back to work. That on top of Julia going to work full-time on the Marilyn project should really make for some interesting story progression in the near future. Also interesting to see is how Eileen’s (Huston) appending divorce from Jerry (Cristofer) will factor into the play’s budget.

One thing I found myself NOT enjoying was the poor move on Ivy’s part when she decided to personally ‘interact’ with Derek (Davenport). I found that to actually lessen her character’s entire persona by making it seem as though she only got the part in the end because she ‘performed’ better in places that Karen could not. I understand that Derek is supposed to be pretty much the a-hole of the series, but to turn Ivy into an easy sellout so early on in the show’s run just, to me, seemed a little too predictable. I saw her win coming a mile away after that particular scene. Bad move writers, bad move.

In closing, I find myself being able to relate to Karen’s struggle to become a star in a world of seasoned performers and producers. I am really enjoying Julia’s storyline and finding her to be one of the main reasons why I like the show. Her partnership with Tom is perfect because they go together so well, although I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of problems could and may arise from Tom’s new assistant. I want to see how someone like Eileen will fund the show with Jerry so close on her tail, searching for answers, and finally… Ivy needs to redeem herself for the bad choice she made here.

Again, stay tuned each week for my official “What’s on the Tube” segment featuring NBC’s SMASH, and feel free to chime in with your viewer thoughts and opinions in our comments section. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the show, should you decide to become a regular viewer.

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What’s on the Tube: Following NBC’s SMASH!!!

The entertainment world is a vast multi-genre platform of visual, audio and pictorial art. It can excite us, inspire us, teach us and even make us question the world around us. It is the one form of expression that makes us unique as human beings. That is why I always find it amazing when I am able to come across a particular outlet of entertainment that pleases all of my curious senses. Case in point; the object of my newfound intrigue comes to us in the form of a television show entitled; SMASH. It’s a fresh new show straight from the minds of some of Broadway’s most recognizable producers, including executive producer Steven Spielberg.

Because I am a lifelong fan of Broadway, and an extremely dedicated musicals fan, I have decided to choose this show to both follow and review for both entertainment purposes and reader satisfaction. Each week, I will watch, review and discuss new episodes with readers and fans alike that choose to follow the show with me. Together we will watch the show’s progression, character development and writing pros & cons. So without further adieu, I give you my thoughts and opinions on NBC’s promising new show; SMASH!

Plot: The show takes us head first into the fast paced cut-throat world of Broadway. Before the curtains rise, before the stars take their positions and even before the story comes together, therein lies the planning stages. The hectic rush to put together a story, find that right idea that will spark life into the stage and draw in the masses, and more importantly, find that special someone who will take center stage and become the star of the whole show.

Episode 01 – We open with Karen Cartwright, a lowly café waitress with the ultimate dream of becoming a famous Broadway star. She’s got the looks and a stunning voice to boot, but she just isn’t making heads turn. Nonetheless, she continues her journey to find someone who will take notice and see the quality she has to show. We then cut to Julia Houston and Tom Levitt, two aspiring writers looking for that (out of left field) idea that will bring in the crowds. After a short conversation with Tom’s new assistant, Ellis, the two come up with an idea that would soon become the main storyboard for our entire show. Throw in a hard-hitting director in the form of Derek Wills and you’ve got something!

Critique: Where to start, geez? Let’s start with the ‘Story’ first; which in my opinion outdoes the writing aspect of ‘Glee’ within the first episode alone. The story is solid, it’s very well written and it speaks volumes. It isn’t just about some small-town girl who wants to sing and make it in the big city, or some writer who wants to put on a good show to become famous. It’s more than that. It takes you straight into the heart of the world that exists behind the curtain, the world that we never see before a play comes together. And for me, I think that’s an amazing change in formula from the usual “make it big and become famous” scenarios that we’re usually accustomed to in these types of television shows.

Next up is the cast, which in my opinion is remarkable to say the least. From veteran actors like the always amazing Anjelica Huston and Debra Messing, to breakthrough performances by the likes of Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty, everyone from the episode’s opening scene to its amazing closing musical number, comes together perfectly. I was pretty impressed with the introduction of Katherine McPhee, because I was never really a fan of hers to begin with. I originally put her in that group of American Idol alumni that just faded into the background with their mediocre voices and little or no talent to support a stable career. Call me cynical but it’s what I thought of her.

But after seeing McPhee bring her A-Game to the role of Karen Cartwright, I have to say, I’m glad to have been wrong about her. Now don’t get me wrong, the jury is still out on whether or not she can handle herself throughout the length of an entire season, but so far it looks promising for her. Unfortunately, I do NOT see her becoming Marilyn Monroe any time soon; no matter how much you dye her hair and make her change her voice. I see that role being owned, and I mean OWNED by one person alone and that’s Megan Hilty in her portrayal of Ivy Lynn. I can see her becoming Karen’s minor villain as they struggle to get the part of Marilyn, but ultimately, I see more of Marilyn in Ivy than Karen.

Jack Davenport always knows how to be an asshole, and he does it again as Derek Wills, the ever brilliant (yet womanizing) Broadway director who is clearly willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants, even if that means putting potential stars like Karen in compromising positions. I found myself really interested to see what kind of person he turns out to be, especially after his late night ‘casting session’ with Karen. Actually, that would also play on Karen’s character development too and gage just what kind of person is she willing to become just to achieve stardom. All in all, the show needs to be able to grow and the characters need to be allowed to develop, A LOT!!!

It’s fresh, it’s new and with the original concept and more importantly, original songs, I can foresee this show giving ‘Glee’ a run for its money. The story is fresh and with proper care, I could see myself believing in Karen Cartwright in her reach for the stars. Katherine McPhee has promise, but true greatness still remains to be seen, while Ivy Lynn was able to captivate me within the first several scenes, with Megan Hilty really making me hope she gets the role as Marilyn. And don’t even get me started on Anjelica Huston, that woman is always amazing. So with that, I end my thoughts & opinions segment on this premiere episode of NBC’s promising new show, SMASH!

Stay tuned each week for an all-new (and much shorter, I promise) “Thoughts & Opinions” article on all-new episodes of SMASH, in which I will give a short rundown on the pros and cons of storyboard and character developments. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the show, should you decide to become a regular viewer.

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NBC’s “Awake” Gets Premiere Date!

While it’s a considerably slow day for entertainment news, I am happy to report that after months of unconfirmed hearsay and rumors, one of NBC’s most promising new shows is finally getting a release date! The NBC show “Awake” is now set for a March 1st premiere which has successfully bumped another new NBC show “The Firm” from its Thursday night timeslot. I am personally happy to hear this news because not only am I a fan of Jason Isaacs, but a solid fan of sci-fi as well. March 1st cannot get here soon enough.

Awake is a Sci-fi/Drama starring “Harry Potter” alum Jason Isaacs as a detective who survives a horrific car crash that causes his life to split into two separate “realities” in which his wife was killed in one and his son in the other. Which of the two is real is beyond him, and will he be able to make the ultimate choice to choose which is real? The premise alone is very intriguing for me, and I’m sure if done right, the show could be a success. Only time will tell whether or not NBC can pull off another sci-fi hit in these trying times.

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Review: West Side Story (1961)

Review: West Side Story (1961)

Reviewed By: The Cynic

Directors/Writers: Directed by; Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise. Written by; Earnest Lehman & Arthur Laurents. Original play conceived by Jerome Robbins.

Starring: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, Simon Oakland, Ned Glass, William Bramley, Tucker Smith, Tony Mordente, David Winters, Eliot Feld, Bert Michaels, David Bean, Robert Banas, Anthony Teague, Harvey Evens, Tommy Abbott, Susan Oakes, etc… (Look, I could name them all, but you should know by now, they’re amazing.)

Plot: An award winning adaptation of a classic romantic tragedy, about two warring New York City gangs – the white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. When the leader’s best friend (and former Jet) Tony, and the leader of the Sharks’ younger sister Maria, meet at a dance, no one can do anything to stop their love. Maria and Tony begin meeting in secret, planning to run away. But when a war begins to gain control of the streets, Maria sends Tony to stop it, hoping it can end the violence. Truly remarkable and memorable story ensues.

Critique: Music! It carries the tune of life in every keystroke, every drumbeat, and every pull of a string. It carries a tune throughout the universe and tells the heavens that life is beautiful and the universe is alive! Growing up, I discovered this fact at a very early age. For as long as I could remember, I found myself more of a fan of the musical genre than any other genre out there. Over time that changed as I became a solid sci-fi/fantasy fan. But still, the love I had for musicals would never dissipate or fade. And how could it, musicals are all around us, waiting to be seen on Broadway, waiting to be recognized on the silver-screen, and waiting to be remembered now and always by its true fans.

That brings me to my current title of wonder; West Side Story. Based off a wonderful play, the live-action adaptation is, well… remarkable to say the least. And that IS saying the least. I cannot find the right words to describe just how floored I was by this film. From its terrific opening score, to its amazing one-shot dance number by the Jets, I truly loved the passion for acting and art that Riff and the boys brought to their opening number. It just comes together so perfectly, especially once they start head to head with Bernardo and the Sharks. I love the feel of the classic turf-war-feud meets dramatic-dance-off moments between them. It doesn’t hurt that these guys not only act well, dance well but also sing well for that matter too.

I love the introduction of Tony. Richard Beymer is a very talented actor and singer. It conducts himself perfectly in West Side Story. His most memorable moments will no doubt have me humming his songs for years to come. The meeting between he and Maria is very classy and I love the whole segregated dance number between the Whites and the Puerto Ricans. It was racist, yet extremely entertaining, lol. Anita on the rooftop with the girls performing America was very well done. I actually back stepped to see that particular scene twice. Well, to be honest, I did the same thing for most of the musical numbers, so I can’t really point one out in particular, sorry. What can I say, it’s great music!

Aside from the amazing musical numbers, there is the story, the visual effects and most importantly, the charisma between Tony and Maria. They just go together so well, regardless of their background differences. You’ll find yourself hoping for a happy ending for them from the moment they first meet, which isn’t usually the case for me in most romantic dramas. It usually takes me a while to see how the character “A” and character “B” should fit together and why. But here, I’m almost instantly sold on their connection to one and other. I think that has to do mostly with the fact that next to Richard Beymer, Natalie Wood was also an amazing actress and brought a great deal of chemistry to the role of Maria.

There is just so much positive elements to be discovered in this film, and I am speechless for having had the opportunity to see such a wonderful film and witness these elements for the very first time… yes, please don’t judge me, this is my first time. I think I just felt comfortable in my little bubble of favorite musicals that I feared ever venturing outside of that and discovering new forms of wonderful masterpieces. But no more; I am awakened by the sound of the universe in the form of West Side Story, and I feel alive, more so now than ever, for seeing it. Stunning, in every conceivable way, this is a film to be shared among friends, family and most of all, that special someone in your life. I highly recommend adding this film to your collection of favorites!

Final Say: One of the best musicals I have ever had the pleasure seeing, I just feel ashamed to say that it took me this damn long in my life to actually come across it. I knew about it, I wanted to see the play, but in the end, I never got around to seeing it until now. I shouldn’t be so quick to call myself an addicted musical fan anymore… At least, not until I prove myself worthy.

End result: ****/****