Tag: review

Rachel Platten sparks a wildfire in 2016

Building on the success of 2015, singer-songwriter Rachel Platten sparks a wildfire in 2016 with the release of her first major label on New Year’s Day. 

2015 was a big year for Platten

Maybe even her biggest yet. Thanks in large part to the reception of her hit single, “Fight Song,” it’s not difficult to understand why Platten made her mark on the music industry. The positive message and catchy melody made it an anthem for many and even appeared on Pretty Little Liars and The Biggest Loser in 2014.

Similarly, her first album is ablaze with tracks that are just as upbeat and enduring, sparking a ‘Wildfire’ in the hearts of fans everywhere.

Falling in love with PLatten’s WIldfire

Lyrically, Platten provides a vivid image of the story being told and brings her songs to life vocally through raw emotion and absolute vulnerability.

With the great mix of upbeat dance songs and beautiful ballads, this record entices you to play on repeat all day, everyday. Her duet with Andy Grammer, “Hey Hey Hallelujah,” is perfect to jam out to when doing chores around the house or when you need that great afternoon pick me up.

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Honestly, though it is difficult to select a favorite from the plethora of spirited songs featured, musically, “Superman” captures my attention and speaks to me the most for the stripped down style which beautifully spotlights the lyrics and Platten’s voice.

Though the central message of the song may resonate within each of us, I encourage listening to each selection on the album all the way through before declaring your own personal ballad for 2016.

Basically, Platten’s ‘Wildfire’ is white hot and I highly recommend it. Particularly if you’re already fans of Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and Hailee Steinfield, the themes of self-empowerment and overall ass-kicking will strike a chord.

‘Wildfire’ reminds us as “Fight Song” did — you don’t have to do everything on your own, you have people in your life who are willing to help even when life gets tough, and that if you are able to remain true to yourself, your spirit too will soar and spark a wildfire in 2016.

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Destiny Review: Does Bungie Deliver?

Destiny is one of the most highly-anticipated and ambitious games of the year. The latest sci-fi epic from Bungie comes with plenty of hype as the creators of the Halo franchise promised something unlike we have ever seen before with a huge, solar system-spanning story and unprecedented social interaction.

Destiny is set in a future where humanity is struggling for its very existence against an evil known as The Darkness. Eons before, an alien object known as The Traveler was discovered on Mars, ushering in the Golden Age of humanity, where mankind spread throughout the solar system until The Darkness arrived and triggered a collapse of human civilization. The survivors gathered in The City, the last remaining human enclave and one that is protected by the now dormant Traveler that hovers overhead.

Players take on the role of Guardians, resurrected humans infused with light from the Traveler that gives them special abilities to help them push back against the forces of The Darkness. Guardians, aided by floating robot-like entities venture out beyond the city walls and throughout the solar system to carry out a variety of missions.

The game itself is a mix of first-person shooters and multiplayer online role-playing games. A more apt description might be a scaled-down version of Mass Effect combined with the questing and social features of World of Warcraft. Players can choose from one of three different classes and level up their character and his or her abilities. Enemies drop loot that can be collected to upgrade armor and weapons.

Destiny can be played solo or cooperatively in three-man fireteams, and you will run into other players during your travels.

So does Destiny live up to the hype?

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Monsters University Review: Back to School for the First Time

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Pixar films have earned a reputation for strong characters and passionate story-telling. Cars 2 and Brave both turned profits, but didn’t have the response of Toy Story 3. Monster’s University returns to Pixar’s entertaining, heartfelt movies, with a great message.

Monster’s Inc. (2001) introduced Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman), two workers collecting screams from children to power their city of Monstropolis. Pixar’s first prequel, Monsters University, takes us back to the duo’s college days, before they were professional “scarers”.

Monsters University is the origin story of Mike and Sulley as a duo, a tribute to other college films and an important lesson about expectations.

Young Mike gets inspired to work at Monsters Inc. after taking a tour of the facility. Years later, he optimistically enrolls in Monsters University and begins his freshman year in a fraternity of rejected students, Oozma Kappa. After a fight gets them kicked out of the Scare Program, Mike and new acquaintance Sulley must lead their group to victory (and reinstatement), by winning the annual “Scare Games”.

Monsters University takes cues from other great collegiate comedies with a G-rated twist. Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) is as stern as Animal House’s Dean Wormer. The Oozma Kappa outcasts are a nice nod to Revenge of the Nerds’ Tri-Lambs and the Scare Games contest had a montage as hilarious as the one in Old School.

The campus of MU is presented in great detail. There are other clubs and greeks on campus, a hall of notable alum, frat parties and cliques from goths to jocks. College rituals are honored, as students touch a statue on the way into a building, similar to teams on game day.

Randy Newman (Toy Story Trilogy) composes the music, boasting proud anthems and even a chorus performing the Monsters University school song.

As a prequel, Monsters University smartly works its way to showing how Mike and Sully become a team. Both characters face problems that can only be solved by helping each other, forming their friendship in the process. Other Monsters Inc. characters are also introduced, including Randall “Randy” Boggs (Steve Buscemi) and Roz (Bob Peterson).

Monsters’ University entertains while teaching a very important lesson. The students’ journey is a bumpy road and reminds that expectations aren’t always what they seem. The characters face real obstacles that parents can appreciate and kids can learn from.

I have to give major kudos to the marketing team for this movie. Monsters University has a fully interactive website, and a recruitment video that holds up against any real-life schools’, further immersing fans in this world.

Pixar returns to the heart of their films, with relatable characters and a touching, entertaining story. The 3D didn’t make a real difference, so save the extra money. Pixar takes us to school in Monsters University, with a valuable lesson wrapped in a tribute to college life. This campus is full of school spirit and worth a visit.

 

Rating 8.5/10

 

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This Is The End Review

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Disaster movies have threatened the world in every way from alien invasion to zombie attacks. In all versions of the apocalypse, we’ve seen everything except friends bringing humor to their demise. This Is The End makes the apocalypse a laughing matter and a visually unforgettable one.

Written by actor Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Superbad) and longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg (Pineapple Express, Superbad), This Is The End throws a group of friends together for a party. The apocalypse begins, without warning, forcing them to face it and each other.

The only thing about this group is they’re all famous actors, playing versions of themselves. That instantly makes this movie more appealing than the same group playing characters or a cast of unknowns on screen.

Seth Rogen and his famous friends Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street), Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder), Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down), and Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Time Machine) partying in James Franco’s (Spider-Man trilogy) house is enough to get any comedy fan to watch. Nothing is off limits as jokes are made about these guys’ real lives.

Seth Rogen is teased about The Green Hornet movie while Jonah Hill’s (Money Ball) Oscar nomination is brought up. Craig Robinson carries a towel because he sweats so much (something he really talked about on Conan O’Brien), and James Franco is painted as a weird guy with too much man love for Seth.

Everyone from Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Emma Watson and Channing Tatum are on screen long enough to do something insanely funny. Michael Cera steals the show, deciding to go far away from his usual awkward persona to a coked up sex addict. He hits on everyone at the party, slaps Rihanna’s ass and loses his mind.

This Is The End is still an armageddon movie and does a terrific job at it. The film budget of $25,000,000 is a lot for a comedy but must have all gone to special effects. The various creatures and demons that chase these guys around are straight up terrifying.

The movie takes on a Ghostbusters vibe with funny moments during legitimate scares. It’s a better scary movie than the entire franchise that goes by that name, and a lot funnier.

The horror scenes actually get pretty disturbing and could have been a bit shorter. For a movie filled with dick jokes, the creepy stuff just lingers too long.

Danny McBride also became unlikable and wasted by the end of the movie. For a guy known for playing lovable jerk, Kenny Powers, he just came off as a mean weirdo. You almost want him to die before it’s over.

The actors seem to enjoy making this and a lot of the best dialogue feels ad-libbed. The soundtrack is great, including Craig Robinson singing a song about panties and the return of a 90s pop act that you could never guess. This Is The End proves that as long as you’re having fun, even facing the apocalypse, there’s always something to laugh at.

Rating 8.0/10

 

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Is Man of Steel the New Movie Powerhouse for DC Comics?

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Directors Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight Trilogy) both made large contributions to the success of comic book films. Now, tasked with a reboot of Superman, the potential for a Justice League film and a last chance for this character hang on their shoulders. Man of Steel boldly sets itself apart from previous Superman adaptations while paving a way for future DC Comics’ films.

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