The Impossible

A vacation is suppose to be a time for fun and relaxation. Leave your stress and worries at home and just forget about them for a brief moment. For the tourists in Thailand in December of 2004, they got a little more than they bargained for.

If that December isn’t ringing a bell for you, December 26, 2004 was the day of the devastating Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. With a magnitude of 9.0, the monstrous quake and tsunami had a death toll of 227,898 and made the top ten worst earthquakes ever recorded.

How is this relevant to a movie review? The movie The Impossible (also known as Lo Imposible) is based on the true events and follows the story of the Bennett family and their harrowing tale of survival after the tsunami in Thailand. Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry Bennett (Ewan McGregor) are on vacation with their three sons Lucas (Tom Holland) , Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) in Thai resort in Khao Lok. The family is poolside enjoying a beautiful day when Maria loses a page of a notebook she keeps. She chases after it to a class window (at least that’s what it looks like) next to the pool when she notices it shaking. Before she can react, the tsunami hits and the family is separated.

After the wave hits, viewers can only sit and watch helplessly as people, cars, hotels and homes are washed away. Even though the scene you’re watching was made on a set, it’s hard to forget the videos that were all over the internet of people who were caught in the wave’s path filming it’s unforgiving wrath.

A glimmer of hope happens when Maria spots Lucas being swept away in the same direction as her. After a violent struggle with the strong currents, which leaves Maria’s leg badly injured, they finally find each other and hold on until they find dry land.  It is here that the family really gets a grasp of what happened. Destruction everywhere, and they even find a missing child under a pile of what looks like scraps from a building. After the three get to safety in a tall tree, locals find them and try to assist them, but Maria is badly hurt and in desperate need of medical attention…

Meanwhile, its not looking any better for Henry and the other two boys. Henry searches tirelessly for his wife and son while Thomas and Simon stay with a group of survivors in what’s left of a hotel. When a van comes to take the survivors to higher ground and to safety, Henry stays behind in order to continue his search.

The Bennett family is completely separated from each other in a foreign country and unaware if the others are alive or not. The Impossible is a tense, heart wrenching and even empowering tale of destruction, natural disasters and survival. I held my anxiously breath almost half the movie because of the intensity of it. Will the Bennetts survive this horrifying event and reunite?  If you’re looking for a film with some depth that will keep you on the edge of your seat (or in my case, anxiously holding your breath) this is the perfect movie for you.

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

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Wreck-It Ralph

When I was younger, I was obsessed with Disney movies and the characters. The princesses, the witches/villains, all of them. Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I root for the bad guy in a movie instead of the hero. What? You think that’s twisted? In my opinion, the villain is a much more interesting character with a more developed back-story. You care more about the character, even if you’d care to see them fail.  In the case of the Disney movie Wreck-It Ralph, the bad guy turns out to be the “villain” and the hero.

How does a character play the good and the bad card? Quite easily when that guy is video game “bad” guy Ralph (John C. Reilly). Ralph is the villain in a game called “Fix-It Felix Jr.” and his sole purpose of the game is to destroy a building and watch it get fixed by the good guy, Felix (Jack McBrayer ), who will end up wining a medal if he defeats Ralph. Everyone loves Felix and he is always getting medals. The problem with this situation for Ralph is nobody loves the bad guy.

Ralph tries to get over these hang ups at meetings called “Bad-anon,” which is run by a ghost from the “Pac-Man” game and functions as aa support group where all bad guys can just be themselves. Ralph confesses to his fellow villains that he’s sick of being bad. As you could imagine, this didn’t go over very well, but it did produce one of the best lines of the movie “…you are bad guy, but this does not mean you are *bad* guy.”

Ralph, not being satisfied with his meeting, goes back home to his game where he discovers the rest of the characters having a party for the game’s 30th anniversary. Understandably, he feels left out and decides to try to get in.  Bad move, Ralph. Once he gets in, he’s not welcomed very warmly. In fact, they drive him out saying he’ll always be a bad guy and he could never be good or earn a medal like Felix.

If Ralph were Barney Stinson, his next words would be “challenge accepted” because after that party, he goes off in search of a new video game for him to earn a medal in and prove everyone in “Fix-It Felix Jr.” wrong.

Wreck-It Ralph is another Disney movie that is not just for kids. Adults will appreciate the nostalgia that the arcade full of old games will bring (and even some of the bad guys in “bad-anon”) even if the kids do not have a clue of what the games are. It’s also got a silly humor that both adults and kids will enjoy (come on, who doesn’t enjoy a good doodie joke at any age?!). The movie is also full of stars like Ed O’Neil, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman and Mindy Kaling.  Wreck-It Ralph is the perfect movie for the whole family to enjoy and it’s out on DVD and BluRay now.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience

      I have no shame in admitting that I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Justin Timberlake’s newest album since I first heard he was doing an album. The teeny bopper in me squealed with joy at the idea of another album by the Timberlake but the adult in me wondered how he was going to outdo his last album “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” a very sexy and mature album from the former boy-bander.

I finally got my hands on “The 20/20 Experience”  today and couldn’t wait another second to listen to it. His first single “Suit and Tie” is a cheeky and playful song featuring Jay-Z.  With big horns and a booming soul vibe, this was a great choice for a comeback single (not that he ever really left).  My only problem with this old school diddy is that it is EVERYWHERE. Target commericial, Bud Light commercials, radio, television, everywhere! The song is about 2 months old and I’m already just about sick of it.  I’m not going to lie, I almost didn’t make it through the song while listening to this album because I’ve probably already  heard it 10 times today.

I just heard the second single “Mirrors” today when I got the album. Somehow, I manage to miss this little gem on the radio. It reminds me a lot of Timberlake’s single “Cry me a River” due to the beat and the beat boxing in the background. This song is a classic Timberlake slow jam; seductive, smooth and full of heartfelt emotion. I love his upbeat songs but Justin Timberlake always seems to execute ballads perfectly.

My favorite track on the album (so far) is “Don’t Hold the Wall”. The song’s intro sounds a lot like a Motown group harmonizing then leads into a weird but funky dance beat. It’s hard to really describe the sound of this song and why I like it so much.  The song has very primal feel, mixing in dance grooves with what sounds like African chants. The track also features a booming bass and regular collaborator Timberland throughout the whole song. Sounds like the weirdest mix ever but actually comes together to make something that sounds so right.

The whole album consists of tracks that are five minutes or longer.  If you thought long songs were only for classic rock you thought wrong. In fact, there are only three songs out of twelve that are shorter than five minutes.  There is a downside to this though; while the tracks on the album are fantastic it seems like after a while, the rest of the song is filler to make the songs longer. End a song where it feels right to end it, don’t feel like you have to drag it out JT!  There’s no need to make an epic “Bohemian Rhapsody”-esque  track out of something that doesn’t make sense after 3 minutes.

All in all, the wait was well worth it. The album is sensual, funky, with a soul/R&B vibe. It seems that Timberlake hasn’t lost his touch and has not gone back to the immature boy band music that created him.  To top off this night, I just heard that we can expect another album by Justin Timberlake in November. And the anticipation begins again…

There’s Something About Mary

While flipping through the channels yesterday, I saw a young Cameron Diaz on TV, but I couldn’t figure out what movie it was right away. Before I could click the info button on my remote BOOM! There’s Ben Stiller and my day was made. There’s Something About Mary happens to be one the very few movies featuring Cameron Diaz or Ben Stiller that I actually enjoy.

In case you missed this movie in 1998, it was a quirky comedy directed by The Farrelly Brothers about former high school geek Ted (Ben Stiller) and his object of affection, Mary (Cameron Diaz).  Back in high school, the geek got the girl to go to prom with him but an unfortunate (and hilarious) series of events keeps the two from actually getting to go and before you know it, Mary’s family moves away and Ted is left with regret for the one that got away.

Years later, a grown up Ted is looking to reunite with his lost love and hires sketchball detective Pat Healy ( Matt Dillon) at the suggestion of friend Dom (Chris Elliot). Healy does his research and finds Mary in Florida and he also finds himself completely smitten with Mary. Instead of doing the job he was hired for, he decides to pursue Mary himself.  When he returns to tell Ted all about his trip, he gives him misleading information about Mary. According to Healy, she’s a “deuce, deuce and a half,” wheelchair bound and a mother of four from three different fathers. After getting Ted out of his way, he moves down to Florida to put his plan in action to woo Mary.

A short time later, Ted is still obsessing over Mary and how he’s lost his chance forever to his friend from high school, Bob (Willie Garson) and how much she’s changed. Bob is quick to correct him that she’s still “a fox”, she’s an orthopedic surgeon and he just saw her a couple weeks ago at a convention. Having a renewed sense of hope, Ted goes to find Dom to tell him the good news and Dom convinces him to take action into his own hands and go to Mary, what’s he got to lose?

His trip down to Florida proves to be quite eventful, which includes a run in with the law. I won’t ruin it for you but as some advice for all you making pit stops for bathroom breaks when you’re on the road, it’s probably best to wait for an actual rest stop. The rest of the movie consists of Healy trying to foil Ted’s chance at love, but Healy isn’t the only man Ted has to fight to win the affections of Mary.

Full of toilet humor, uncomfortable nudity, romance, a Brett Farve cameo, and of course, the infamous “hair gel” scene (if you haven’t seen this, I won’t spoil it for you), this movie has it all.  In my opinion, Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller give their best performances in this movie, and it is sure to go down in history as a classic in the comedy genre. If you can catch it, it’s playing on the E! Network now as part of their “Movies We Love” program.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

Reanimation

Last week, I wrote about Linkin Park’s debut album Hybrid Theory. Now admittedly, I am not a huge fan of the band, but as I’ve said before I can appreciate what they do as musicians for their genre. To follow up that review, I was told there was a remix album to Hybrid Theory called Reanimation. I’m not a huge fan of remix albums, mostly because I feel like it’s just a cop out. Why not just write new material? What I discovered on this album was that you can teach an old dog to do new tricks, or that you can make a totally new song out of an old one.

To start this off, I’ll make an embarrassing admission. I couldn’t read the titles of the tracks at first and I was throughway confused. Once I started staring at them (way longer than someone actually should) I could finally decipher what the names of the songs were.

In my last review, I forgot to mention the one song I actually liked on Hybrid Theory. “Papercut.” The difference between the two songs on each album is almost like night and day. To begin with, the name of the track on Reanimation is “PPR:Kut”. Even though the titles really threw my off, I like that they tried to find a new way to “name” the song. Secondly, there is a lot more rapping in “PPR:Kut” and a lot more bass which makes the tone sound a lot deeper.  Between the two versions of the song, for once, I actually think I like a remix better than the original.

“1Stp Klosr” (one step closer) is dramatically different from the original, from the structure of the song to the feeling of the song.  The original has an overall feeling of anger and tension, but with the Reanimation version of the song, it feels really sinister. If I could put this song in the movie, it would definitely be the theme song to the villain.  Another difference between the two songs is the addition of Korn singer Jonathan Davis to the Reanimation version. I have always been a fan of Jon Davis’ voice so hearing him on the track was a plus for me.  What I also noticed about the song was the lack of chorus. If you recall the chorus of the song, it goes “Everything you say to me (cause I’m one step closer to the edge and I’m about to break” and so on. In the remix, it’s still there, just not as often. A very simple song structure is verse-chorus-verse and in this remix, that structure was thrown out the window but it actually kind of worked for them.

The song I was most curious about the remix was “In The End” or on the Reanimation album “Enth E Nd.”  The remix had new lyrics and a new tone. The original is a very somber and slow song about failure and the remix is more up-tempo with a heavy hip-hop vibe. The opening of the song sounds like a CD skipping and had a lot of vinyl scratching throughout the track. I thought I had a bad version of the song at first but then realized it was just how it was mixed.  The track also featured KutMasta Kurt and Motion Man. I wasn’t a huge fan of this version. I liked the lyrics but wasn’t feeling the hip-hop vibe to it.

In the end (no pun intended) it’s pretty bold to take a successful album and redo it. Some people (like myself) might call you lazy and to be more original, but what I discovered is that you can successfully take old material and turn it into something completely new and have it at the same caliber as the original. I’m still not a huge Linkin Park fan, but I enjoyed this album, and maybe even a little more than original.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

How to Create Your Own Cartoons with Latest Technology

Some iconic, exciting and unusual cartoons have been created over the years. Can you think of your favourite? There is Scooby Doo – who can forget about the big, brown and lovable dog? And what about Jake from Adventure Time – an unusual yellow looking dog? Moving away from animals there is Dee Dee from Dexter’s Laboratory – pretty much the cartoon equivalent of a Barbie Doll. There is Dexter himself cutting a striking figure with his ginger hair, big glasses and lab outfit. What about Johnny Bravo – who can forget his big blonde quiff and hunky muscles?

How would you or your children like to create your own cartoons? You may be surprised to learn that there are lots of innovative games available nowadays that give you the opportunity to create cartoon characters. Can you come up with someone better than The Powerpuff Girls? What about Tom and Jerry – do you think you could create a better duo? The possibilities are endless, and the following cartoons give you the chance to tune into your creative side.

Gallery of Imagination

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends is a popular American cartoon. It features a monumental number of oddly designed cartoon characters. There is a blue domed cylinder called ‘Bloo’. There is a hugely tall and red coloured character called ‘Wilt’. And that is without mentioning the character that is a cross between a palm tree, a bird, and an airplane. The Gallery of Imagination allows you to create your own imaginary friends who can form part of the ‘Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends’ clang. Bearing in mind the crazy characters featured in the cartoon itself, you can imagine the potential associated with this game.

Ben 10 Alien Maker

Ben 10 is a cartoon character who is taking over the world – quite literally. There are a huge number of animated series, films, and video games based on Ben 10. But, the Alien Maker game has to be one of the best. If you or yourchild has watched Ben 10 then you will be aware of all the intriguing, unusual, and devastating aliens featured in the cartoon. But, do you think you could design a better alien? Now is your chance. The Ben 10 Alien Maker game gives you the opportunity to design a deadly and dramatic alien.

Gumball Character Creator

The Amazing World of Gumball is a show about a blue cat called Gumball Watterson. The characters in the show are unusual, vibrant and exciting. Aside from Gumball, there is a goldfish, a light pink rabbit, and many more. This game allows people to create a character that is fitting for the show. Do you want to add a dog to the world of Gumball? What about a bird? Or perhaps you would like to add another cat to rival Gumball? The choice is entirely yours!

The three games mentioned in this article are a mere three of the best that allow you to create your own cartoon character. There are actually a lot of other games available that give you this opportunity too. All you need to do is search online and try all of the free games available. You will be able tocreate a character suited to Adventure Time, another suited to Scooby Doo, another character who would fit in with the Powerpuff Girls, and so on and so forth. Time to let your creative side shine!

Author bio – 

Donna Baxter is a freelance journalist. She watched cartoons, such as Adventure Time, as a research tool for this article.

Hybrid Theory

The year is 2000 and the “nu metal” genre has taken over the music charts. The bands within the genre were not looking to just blend in and cruise under the radar; they were looking to be noticed. Experimenting with DJS, other genres and other methods, bands like Linkin Park broke out of the stereotype and made a name for themselves. While this band isn’t the first (and they won’t be the last) to mix rap with rock and roll, they changed up the nu metal game and began an ascent to the top.

Their debut album Hybrid Theory came out in October of 2000 and their genre bending album would sky rocket them to be one of the biggest bands in the business. While I may not be a huge fan of the band, I can appreciate the impact they’ve made in music.

Two vocalists with two very different vocal styles front the band. Chester Bennington is the main voice you hear and he also does the screaming on the tracks. Mike Shinoda is the deeper voice, who also raps and plays guitar. Throughout the majority of their songs, they share the spotlight.
Their first single “One Step Closer” is a perfect example. This is what I’d consider to be a typical song by an artist in the genre. It is very heavy, angry, and of course, loud. The song begins with heavy guitars leading into the rest of the band joining in, including a synthesizer, which gives the song a bit of a techno feel. It also kind of reminded me of Limp Bizkit so much so that I can hear Fred Durst’s voice singing the song in my head. It’s obnoxious.

“Crawling” is another song that thinks outside the genre box. This song is heavier on the synth and sounds sharp and tense. I guess when you’re singing about struggling with a drug addiction there’s bound to be some tension. This track is also notable because it is one of the few songs that Shinoda does not really have a part in. He has a few lines in the pre-chorus and that’s it. To me, that was the right choice, because singing about such a personal struggle would lose its meaning if someone else is singing it instead of the embattled person.

“In the End” is then most mainstream single of the album. Unlike “Crawling,” this song showcases Shinoda’s vocals. Instead of singing the heartfelt song about feeling defeated, Shinoda chooses to rap. It’s an odd scenario, but somehow works out for the best. The contrast of Bennington’s scratchy, soft and almost whiny vocals compliment the deep monotone rap of Shinoda. I was actually surprised by the emotional reaction I had to the song.

What made the band special was their ability to combine genres, vocal styles and get more personal in their songs by singing about issues like abuse, drug addiction and defeat. Their genre mixing style would later spawn a mash up album with rap superstar Jay-Z. This band opened themselves up to their fans and to success and it all started with Hybrid Theory.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti