The chills shoot up your spine as you hear the sound of the chains grinding on the blades. The little hairs stand up on your arms as goosebumps cover you from head to toe. That feeling of absolute terror is taking over you. You’re at the edge of your seat, waiting, waiting; and then, it’s over. Shrieks fill the theater. Texas Chainsaw is back, but this time, in 3D.
On January 4, one of America’s favorite horror stories came back into theaters and picked up right where it left off. An hour and thirty-two minutes is all it took for director, John Luessenhop, to scare my socks off.
In Texas Chainsaw 3D, a young woman named Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario), and her friends Nikki (Tania Raymonde), Carl (Scott Eastwood), and Ryan (Tremaine ‘Trey Songz’ Neverson) travel to Texas after hearing about Heather’s unknown grandmother’s death to collect her inheritance. Little does she know that a crazed chainsaw-wielding killer is lurking in the basement of her new mansion.
On its opening night, Texas Chainsaw 3D, earning approximately ten million dollars, took first place at the box office. For the entire weekend, the film ultimately took first place making over 25 million dollars. As of January 20, the film made 36 million dollars worldwide, proving the series still has horror fans chained to their seats.
Although this movie is all about blood and guts and suspense, a touch of humor was scattered throughout. It’s a great Friday night fright.
The Raven, one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous pieces of literature, is now also a movie about Poe’s last few days on Earth. Poe, played by John Cusack, is caught up into an ongoing investigation of a serial killer who’s using Poe’s works of fiction as inspiration for his murders. Being a huge fan of Cusack and of Poe, I was highly anticipating the release of this film.
Though I am definitely an admirer of Poe’s work, I was a little anxious on how the blood and gore would be translated onto the screen. Being someone who does not enjoy seeing a lot of on-screen violence, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the times I needed to cover my eyes were sparse. Though there were a few bloody scenes The Raven was definitely more of a psychological thriller. On one end it was the typical, “can we catch the killer” drama, but the director were able to make it a little more interesting than that. Since it was based on Poe’s works, the mystery was following the clues that could be interpreted through the stories he wrote.
Overall, I would definitely give The Raven four out of five stars. I thought the main positives about the movie were the creative plot, suspense, and the acting.
Suspense was the key piece to this film. Being a murder-mystery, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats isn’t always an easy task to accomplish. During The Raven I never knew what to expect, or what unexpected twist was coming next. Not only did the audience get to see a story depicting Poe’s last days, but the love story as a side-plot added a romantic element to the plot.
The originality of referencing Poe’s famous works, such as The Pit and Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, Murders at the Rue Morgue, and integrating them into the plot is one of the main reasons that I enjoyed and would highly recommend The Raven to Poe fans.
Not only was the plot creative, but the acting in The Raven was very well done. Edgar Allan Poe is a difficult persona to portray, but I believe that John Cusack did a fantastic job. Poe is known to have been not well liked while alive, and Cusack was able to completely take on that characterization. Cusack’s portrayal of Poe, along with the supporting roles, made The Raven even more believable.
If Poe’s work is the reason you set foot in the theater, then be prepared to see another side of him. Yes, Poe is seen as moody and volatile, but also seeing him go through despair over the murders and his passion for his lover brings a new side of Poe to the public. As a Poe fan, I enjoyed being able to see this fictional story from his perspective, giving me a slight moment of what it could have been like to think and see events through Poe’s eyes.
Considering the storyline, the acting, and the suspense I would highly recommend The Raven for anyone looking for an interesting film this spring.
“I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. ”
Wedding vows are the most tearful and meaningful expression of love. Some people look at vows as just a part of the ceremony, but for husband Leo Collins, they were a promise and a commitment that he never thought he would have to try so hard to keep.
The Vow, starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, is a movie based on the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter. The Vow tells the story of Paige and Leo Collins, a very much in love newlywed couple, who are involved in a serious car accident. Paige head injury results in a coma. Upon waking with severe memory loss, Paige does not remember Leo and thinks she is still engaged to a former boyfriend. Leo stays true to his vows and begins a journey of trying to win Paige’s heart and make her fall in love with him all over again.
The Vow opened in theaters on February 10 and took the number one spot in the box office its premiering weekend. The film took in a remarkable $41.7 million which exceeded expectations.
This film was very anticipated by love hungry teens around the country, but I found the movie very disappointing. After all, the film was based on a true story of a couple’s life, but the movie lacked detail, and the audience was left thirsting for more background information on the journey of how Paige and Leo’s love really came to be so intense.
The opening scene of the film did not pull hook my attention. It was very dry and almost pointless. The major conflict in the movie was the car accident which left Paige in a coma, but the accident came so abruptly, playing out in the first five minutes of the film. It was almost too soon and too much to handle. The ending of the film was just plain old disappointing.
“The ending was very frustrating,” says senior Elizabeth Burr. “I was expecting at least a half an hour more of the movie. I literally said to myself, ‘Is that really it?’ It didn’t live up to my high expectations.”
On a lighter note, the casting for the film was dead on. Rachel McAdams, who has also played in The Notebook, Mean Girls, and the Time Traveler’s Wife, did a fantastic job playing both sides of her character before and after the accident: the very loving side and the very rejecting side. What I found frustrating was that Paige, because of her memory loss, continues on with only the life she remembers, and treats the fact that she is married rather carelessly.
Channing Tatum, who starred in Dear John and Step Up, should win an Oscar for his performance in this film. This was Tatum’s most believable performance to date. Tatum cried many times throughout the film and it was so real, I almost felt that he really loved McAdams. Tatum’s incredible acting ability and loving gestures towards Paige (McAdams) undoubtedly warmed the hearts of every young woman who walked into the theater.
All in all the story line was dry and lacked detail, along with much needed and wanted background information. Although the film did not exceed this viewer’s expectation of a very mushy and tear-jerking experience, there is no doubt that the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter should leave an impact on our hearts, and cause us to take promises more seriously.
“I’m no hero,” says Carpenter. “I made a vow.”
Every once in awhile, a book series will evolve, turn into something bigger than just the books. The Harry Potter series and the Twilight saga became cult phenomenons, and now another book series is headed in the same direction – The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.
The first film of Collins’ popular three-book series, The Hunger Games, opens on March 23 on screens all over the world, to high expectations and anticipation from fans.
The series has garnered huge amounts of media attention since the first book was published in 2008, but even more so in the past two years due to Lionsgate Studio’s acquiring of the rights to the films. The title novel has been translated into 26 different languages and rights of production have been sold in 38 countries. The book was named one of Publishers Weekly’s “Best Books of the Year” in 2008 and a The New York Times “Notable Children’s Book of 2008”, among other accolades.
The Hunger Games introduces sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem where the countries of North America once existed. The Capitol, a highly advanced city, controls the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl, aged 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol, are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive.
Since the trilogy does contain a love triangle of sorts, many media outlets have been quick to compare the books to that of Twilight – which fans shot down within days, insisting that THG holds a greater meaning and is not a romance novel.
And those fans are passionate – the trilogy has been called a “cult phenomenon” and been predicted as “the next Harry Potter”. It is beginning to seem as though this is might not be an incorrect statement – “Tributes” (what the fans call themselves, much like Twihards or Potterheads) exist all over the world, run hundreds of fansites and blogs, and seem to be increasing by the day as the release date of March 23 nears.
In the action-thriller Battle: Los Angeles, Marine Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz comes out of retirement to lead a platoon and help defend Los Angeles from alien invaders. What the world thought was just a meteor strike evolved into a full-scale alien attempt of colonizing Earth. Los Angeles was the last city in an alien plot to overrun major cities across the planet. As a last chance of sustaining a major city, the military concentrated its power in Los Angeles in a hope to fight off the aliens. While story kept me involved, but it lacked in originality. The plot is the typical science-fiction alien invasion movie that has been done several times before.
Actor Aaron Eckhart plays Nantz, the main character, in Battle: LA. As Nantz faces conflict, he shows his ability to be a successful leader and persevere through countless hardships. In the beginning of the movie, Nantz goes into retirement, but that is short-lived when the military brings him back into action for the battle of Los Angeles. Nantz was assigned to look over Second Lieutenant William Martinez, but in an unfortunate turn of events, takes over the platoon when Martinez is murdered. Nantz leads his men through hell and back to eventually find the aliens’ weakness and takes back Los Angeles.
Though Eckhart’s acting was one of the highlights of the movie, the supporting cast was mediocre. The dialogue was hit or miss, and the storyline took me from being on the edge of my seat to losing interest in the movie.
Special effects throughout Battle: Los Angeles were stellar and showed indisputable devastation around L.A. in the entire movie. The intruding aliens look spectacular and authentic as they attempted to colonize the human race. On the other hand, the camera angles were exceedingly shaky and got really irritating.
Due to the sketchy acting and lack of originality, I give this movie three stars out of five. Yes, the special effects were amazing, but the plot and mediocre acting was not genuine enough to move me.
Staying in the spotlight is an absolute must-do for any artist or band in today’s society – a society that craves information and, especially in the music world, new releases, instantly. Yet one five-piece band hailing from Oxfordshire, England, has seemed to master the art of hiding the shadows of the music world then reappearing with a bang, along with critical acclaim.
But that’s just how Radiohead does things. At just over three years since their last release, In Rainbows, the alternative rockers faded out of that spotlight so many artists crave, and it looked like a wave of new bands were ready to burst onto the scene in the alternative world.
Montreal based Arcade Fire won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year with The Suburbs, and bands such as Interpol, The Black Keys, and Cage the Elephant have become increasingly popular the past couple of years.
This is where Radiohead reenters the stage. While many artists promote their albums months in advance, the “shy” band, as described by some, announced their eighth studio album, The King of Limbs, only five days before its scheduled release. Not only that, the band decided to release the album one day in advance, making it available as a digital download on their website on February 18.
In typical trail-blazing fashion, Radiohead also released what they called a “newspaper album,” which includes two 10-inch clear vinyl records in a purpose-built record sleeve, a CD, many large sheets of artwork, 625 small pieces of artwork, a full plastic cover, and the album download.
The release of the album, produced by Nigel Godrich, wasn’t the only thing that drew worldwide attention. Radiohead has always been a band that has been far more innovative than most bands, and listeners can identify a distinctive sound or pattern different from the rest of their albums. OK Computer, released in 1997, was composed of melodic rock songs, such as “Paranoid Android,” which is perhaps this generation’s closest thing to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The band followed that up with what many call their masterpiece, Kid A, in 2000, which featured less guitar and more electronic and diverse beats. Something unique and special has been featured in each of their seven prior albums, a quality that has led the band to critical acclaim.
That quality is what makes The King of Limbs so special. Even after building such a diverse discography, the band still can shock fans with what they’re able to come up with. The album is Radiohead’s shortest, coming in at 37 minutes and 24 seconds, and, as many critics have said, is perfectly tuned for listeners in the 21st century. It draws on many of the musical styles that were featured on prior Radiohead albums, which in its own right probably amazes listeners the most.
They managed to combine those styles into a compact and beautiful record, worthy of the positive reception it has already received.
The album’s opener, “Bloom,” a jazzy, piano driven song, gives listeners a taste of the amazing sounds found within the eight tracks. Shades of In Rainbows are heard in the first couple of songs, as singer Thom Yorke and drummer Phil Selway shine in “Morning Mr Magpie” and “Feral.”
“Feral,” one of the strongest songs on the album, features an electronic beat similar to the bands’ Kid A songs, such as “Idioteque.” The song is one of many on the record that draw on Radiohead’s prior electro experiences. The grooves heard throughout the album touch and expand upon songs such as Amnesiac’s “Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors” and Hail to the Thief’s “The Gloaming.”
The album’s lead single, “Lotus Flower,” has an accompanied music video which shows Yorke creatively dancing to his own beat. In some ways, the video reflects The King of Limbs. As Yorke’s dancing changes, it seems as if the album changes.
“Lotus Flower” moves away from the electro beats found in the first four songs and instead has a driving bass line heard immediately after the song begins. Yorke’s trademark falsetto takes center stage behind Selway’s drum beats, and Johnny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien’s work on the guitars.
As with any Radiohead album, “Codex” fulfills the piano ballad track. Name almost any of their records, and you can find a song comparable to it, making it classic Radiohead more than any other song on the album. Yorke’s lyrics, such as “Jump off the end/into a clear lake/noone around,” can bring familiar Radiohead listeners back to songs like “Videotape” from In Rainbows, “Motion Picture Soundtrack” from Kid A, and “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” from The Bends.
“Give Up the Ghost” and “Separator” close out the album. ”Give Up the Ghost” showcases Jonny Greenwood’s talents, as his acoustic guitar rhythm drives the song, giving it an eerie feeling found throughout the eight tracks. “Separator” is a fitting end to the album, as Colin Greenwood’s bass lines help create a sound that perhaps is a lead in to Radiohead’s next effort.
There is a reason the band receives so much credit as trail-blazers and innovators in the rock world. Almost two decades after they started their careers with Pablo Honey, Radiohead continues to exceed any and all standards: ones set by themselves and by the releases of other alternative bands.
Although The King of Limbs won’t end up as acclaimed as some of their other work, that’s what keeps Radiohead relevant after all these years. An album like this would be the crown jewel for most bands, yet it still may not compare to other releases by the band. That says a lot about this record and how far Radiohead has come.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle once theorized that “no great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness”. While this statement may or may not apply to every human being in the history of mankind that has been sanctified with the title of genius, it certainly applies to one Kanye Omari West, and nowhere has this amalgamation of genius and madness been more apparent than on his fifth album, the aptly-titled My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
At its core, Fantasy is the apex of West’s 33 years of life thus far, a culmination of the various dichotomy of musical styles he has explored on previous albums and his own personal experience. The beats are luxurious and infused with rich production, courtesy of West himself with assistance from fellow rap legends like Jay-Z, the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, and three-time Grammy award-winner L.A. Reid, among others. They are offset by the equally aggrandizing lyrics, bolstered by acrobatic rhymes and clever tongue-in-cheek verses that showcase West’s intelligence as well as his sometimes obnoxious personality. The entire album walks a fine line: between genius and madness, dark and light, self-deprecation and impudence, boldness and uncertainty, sanity and insanity. It walks a fine line, and it walks it well.
“I fantasized about this back in Chicago,” Kanye declares in the first line of the eponymous track, “Dark Fantasy” – and goes on to rhyme “Chicago” with such tongue-twisters as “me no hablo” and “bravado”, like it’s as easy as reciting the alphabet, but that’s beside the point. The point is that West has been dreaming about making a magnum opus since he first broke into the music business, and that ambition saturates every break, every couplet, so carefully composed during his self-imposed exile in Hawaii following a string of well-publicized controversies.
That characteristic overinflated ego that has become attached to West’s name over the last few years is still present, especially in songs like the indulgent guitar-driven “Gorgeous”, where he boasts that “this pimp is at the top of Mount Olympus” right before slyly threatening the writers of South Park for a (much deserved) lambasting portrayal of him in an earlier episode. But this braggadocio is thankfully suffused with a humble sensitivity that was unheard of in his older material, adding a whole new dimension to the lyrics while simultaneously taking West’s exhausting persona down a few notches.
Though the lyrics have become milder in spots, the instrumentation on Fantasy has been kicked into overdrive. On what is arguably the standout track of the album, “All of the Lights”, a grandiose brass fanfare precedes a barrage of punchy, frantic drums, and carries the rest of the song right through the rolling piano bridges, angry verses, and chorus, which contains guest vocals from such famous musicians as Rihanna, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Fergie, and Kid Cudi. For his part, Kanye contributes some exceptionally bitter and desperate lyrics, spitting lines like “Restraining order, can’t see my daughter / her mother, brother, grandmother hate me in that order,” with a matter-of-fact drawl that belies the insecurity contained therein. It’s frenetic, it’s empowering, but the production is good enough to tie in all these eclectic components and bring them together to form one coherent and amazing five-minute tune.
Eclecticism is the name of the game on Fantasy, as reflected in a few other tracks. “POWER” in particular, which was featured in trailers for The Social Network and, more recently, Limitless, contains a whole slew of elements that don’t look good on paper but fit together wondrously: handclapping, African chanting, off-kilter syncopated drums, and a sample of “21st Century Schizoid Man” by progressive rock legends King Crimson. “Devil in a New Dress”, placed snugly between the ominous “So Appalled” and the grimy, 9-minute long “Runaway”, is quite possibly the most elegant song on the entire album, with Rick Ross’s throaty growl juxtaposed interestingly over a clean-cut and cosmopolitan Smokey Robinson sample, plus a funky Prince-esque guitar solo thrown in towards the end. Other highlights include the distorted and guitar-powered “Hell of a Life”, featuring a chorus patterned after the conspicuous Black Sabbath hit “Iron Man” and some innuendo-laden storytelling lyrics, and “Lost in the World”, the epic closing track which crams the synthesized vocals of indie rocker Bon Iver, chill-inducing harmonies, and more African singing into its comparatively short yet bombastic 4:17 running time.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is almost manic depressive in its emotional tone. On one track, West can be detailing the decadence of his life over an equally opulent beat, and the next, he’ll lay out every single flaw and paranoia and hint at potential suicide while a distorted scream loops in the background. It is at turns both disturbing and brilliant. It’s dark. It’s twisted. It’s beautiful. But most of all, it’s fantastic, and it’s not only the best album that West has made – and probably ever will make – but is also one of the greatest and most cohesive albums of the last 20 years.
It’s not every day that you find a guy pretending to be married in order to pick up chicks at a local bar. And it’s even more unlikely to find that same guy get webbed into a spool of lies that keep spinning just so he could finally settle down with the girl who caught him red-handed.
Of course, this is the typical conundrum Adam Sandler’s character, Danny, portrays, giving the subtle homage to Seinfeld’s character George Costanza who once also used a wedding band to hit on unsuspecting women. Contrary to George, however, Danny seems to milk the cow for a little while longer.
“At the beginning of the movie, my character, Danny, was going to get married, but he gets his heart broken,” Adam Sandler told Sony Pictures. “The night of his heartbreak he happens to have the ring on and a young lady is nice to him, because she thinks he’s married and thinks he’s harmless and won’t do anything that other guys were trying to do. A light goes off in his head.”
In the romantic comedy, Just Go with It, Danny, a wealthy plastic surgeon, entangles his secretary Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) into playing the part of his soon to be ex-wife in the hopes of proving his availability to newfound girlfriend, Palmer. Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), a much younger woman, refuses to continue a relationship with a married man- but she only finds out about his marital status the morning after their rendezvous.
Danny, caught off guard by his blown cover, immediately retraces his footsteps by convincing Palmer that he’s about to be divorced for good. Palmer then hesitantly agrees to forge ahead with their affair, but with one condition: she must hear of his divorced status from his ex-wife.
Now knee-deep in a pool of lies, Danny brings Katherine into the picture, and Katherine’s humble, caring self agrees to “just go with it”. Soon a whirlwind of unexpected events lead Katherine and her two kids on a trip to Hawaii with Danny, Palmer, and Danny’s cousin (who pretends to be Katherine’s love interest) due to wishful family bonding and a bit of trickery.
While in Hawaii, to Katherine’s surprise, she runs into her former college frenemy, Devlin (Nicole Kidman), who has always held the spotlight. On top of having to play her role in Danny’s fake-family production, Katherine now finds herself in Danny’s shoes. As a struggling single mother, Katherine relies on Danny to be her husband, a momentary façade to wipe the smirk off Devlin’s face.
Sandler and Aniston are recognized as noteworthy comedians on-screen, and that continues for Just Go with It. Prior to the flick released on February 11, 2011, Aniston has had her fair share of roles in romantic comedies, like The Breakup (opposite Vince Vaughn) and The Bounty Hunter (opposite Gerard Butler), among several others. Sandler has appeared everywhere from The Wedding Singer to his latest, Grown Ups. Neither are amateurs to the romantic comedy field, and their performance in Just Go with It reflects that.
Just Go with It was a refreshing twist on a romantic comedy. While Sandler and Aniston aren’t quite the ideal match made in heaven, there’s a believable sense of fondness between them that advances to their off-screen relationship. And although scenes can be a bit stagnant at times, cute jokes that range from note cards to Katherine’s son calling his bowel movements a Devlin, tied in with the breathtaking Hawaiian scenery make the movie more stuff than fluff. This is not a movie you want to miss – so just go with it.
This movie is rated PG-13 for frequent crude and sexual comments, partial nudity, brief drug references and language.
If Natalie Portman herself didn’t intrigue you enough to see Black Swan, there are various other aspects to the psychological thriller that will convince you to buy a ticket.
Portman, who starred in the latest of the three Star War’s films, Garden State, V for Vendetta, and Darjeeling Limited, delivers a notably graceful, yet terrifying performance in this film. Portman spent up to eight hours a day, for nearly a year, to train for this production.
Portman told Entertainment Weekly that during shooting, “There were some nights that I thought I literally was going to die. It was the first time I understood how you could get so wrapped up in a role that it could sort of take you down.”
The movie itself is not about your generic prima ballerina. Portman’s character, Nina Sayers, is a dedicated ballerina at the New York City Ballet company, who is consumed by her attempt at perfection.
The company’s director, Leroy, played by Vincent Cassel, announces that the production for the new season will be Black Swan. He says this version will be more “raw and visceral” than any performance of this production in the past.
In Nina’s audition for the part of Swan Queen, a new student enters the studio, Lily, played by Mila Kunis from That 70’s Show, disrupting Nina’s audition piece. Nina, who is cast in the role, is instructed by Leroy that she must make a metamorphosis into the role, because he feels she only has the attributes to play the White Swan.
Nina, who has been suffering from a rash on her back, begins to hallucinate and have short and bitter outbreaks with her jealous, yet supportive, stage mother. On one occasion, Nina pulls back the skin completely on her finger.
Lily takes Nina out one evening and loosens her up with alcohol and even spikes a drink of hers. The next day, after a blurred night, Nina is late for rehearsal. After that she looks at Lily only as an enemy who is after her role.
Nina becomes more and more engulfed in the perfection of her role as Swan Queen, and Leroy is strict on the fact that she needs to encompass the seductive qualities of the Black Swan to completely fulfill the character.
The gripping psycho-dramatic-thriller has rather adult themes at times, hence the ‘R’ rating. However, the transformation of Nina Sayers into the Black Swan is mesmerizing. Portman’s performance balances perfectly and lustfully with those of Kunis and Cassel.
Portman just won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for this role, a signal that she may win the Oscar as well.