By Neshmeen Faatimah
When a movie is directed by Tim Burton, stars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter and is derived from an age old TV show, a lot is expected from it. Unfortunately, even though great visuals, whimsical witty comedy and superb acting and casting were certainly not the weak points of this movie, Burton lost his touch with this one.
Plot: Barnabas (Johnny Depp) is a rich, powerful and inveterate play boy. One day he makes the huge mistake of toying with maid Angelique Bouchard's (Eva Green) heart. The crazy witch maid, outraged and jealous, kills Barnabas's parents and his love Josette, turns Barnabas into an immortal vampire, rouses a mob to capture and bury Barnabas alive in a chained coffin in the woods and curses his family for eternity (Dayum son). After 212 years, he's set free accidentally and returns to his once great mansion to find it inhabited by his dysfunctional descendants. A host of characters enter at this point - Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer), her brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), her teenage daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz), Roger's young son David (Gulliver McGrath), Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) and finally Victoria Winters (Heathcote) - governess and reincarnation of Josette, Barnabas' old love (Barnabas therefore obviously has to fall in love with her). Barnabas, his identity hidden from his family and the town, sets about trying to revitalise the family business and is approached by Angelique, who has used her power to create a successful rival business. The soap-opera jumps to full swing at this point. There's murder, confessions, hypnotism, hunts for immortality, lots of jealousy and seduction, a werewolf, a ghost, a vampire-werewolf-ghost fight, some Twilight-ness and finally a crazy cliffhanger - basically mountain loads of drama.
Its flaws, essentially, were plot-holes, over-melodramatisation, and a too rushed plot-line. The characters were superficial and it seemed like bits and pieces of a long TV show were cut out and awkwardly stuck together. So even though it no doubt is fairly entertaining, it got lost in the medley of summer blockbusters and could not give off the true Burton feel fans would expect.
Fun fact #1: The initial idea for the movie came about during the filming of “Sweeney Todd” when Depp noted that there are no vampires who actually look like vampires anymore. The movie, according to Depp, was a kind of a rebellion against vampires that look like underwear models.
Fun fact# 2: The ghost scenes in the movie were shot in an underwater tank.
If you like this, you should try out Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and the original Dark Shadows TV show.
I bet you heard about 2 Broke Girls and I also bet you were curious to find out how it was. The show has managed to create a bit of buzz throughout the year and due to its name, had a few of us intrigued enough to check it out. So we did. After the disappointment by 'Don't Trust the B***h in apartment 23' and the relative success of Zooey Deschanel's 'New Girl' we did not exactly know what to expect from a female centric comedy show. It was not going to be 30 ROCK or Parks and Recreation; at least we were certain of that.
So how did 2 Broke Girls fare among its counterparts? For that we take a short look into the storyline, which is basic. Max (Kat Dennings) is a promising but cynical waitress working at a dingy New York diner, at the expense of pursuing her dream of a cupcake business. When she stumbles onto Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs), an ultra-rich socialite who lost everything on her father's fraud scheme, Caroline encourages Max to try and live her dream. They work every day at the diner with their short, work-obsessed Korean boss Han Lee, ex-addict cashier Earl and squeamishly friendly Ukrainian chef Oleg and run into crazy adventures.
What do we say about the series? For starters, it is beyond racist. The Asian jokes start off as okay, but then turn unnecessarily offensive. The jokes hit and miss often. Sometimes they are good enough to make you laugh out loud; sometimes you want to ignore what you just heard with awkward annoyance. We are not claiming its well-acted either, and even though the leads act well enough, sometimes it is frustrating to see them wait for the laugh track to join in. Maybe it could have been a good show, it had the pretences of that and maybe with better writers and higher production value it would have been. For now we settle for what it is: mediocre comedy with a rare hint of promise. And it continues its journey to second season while shows like Community struggle to stay on air.
Should you watch it? The answer should be yes only if you have a lot of time to kill and do not have to waste your own internet bandwidth on it.
ELP was a supergroup, formed by three musicians who were each brilliant at what they did individually. Keith Emerson, the keyboardist, Greg Lake who did the vocals, bass guitar and, when needed, took care of the guitar parts and Carl Palmer - a drummer who to match John Bonham's (Led Zeppelin) and Neil Pert's (Rush) skills in percussion. Yet after their rise to fame as the leading and the most awesome progressive rock band in the 70's and some eventual comebacks, they are still known only to a niche group of people.
Back when ELP was formed, there was speculation that a supergroup called HELP was being formed and who else to be associated to these three brilliant musicians other than Hendrix. Sadly HELP never formed, but the music this trio composed without the H is brilliant nevertheless.
Formed in 1970, the group gained praise from the very first. Their self-titled first album was somewhat a recording of jam sessions of really good instrument players. And each piece stood out on its own right, be it Emerson's prodigious keyboard and organ playing in tracks such as The Barbarian or Palmer's awesome drum solos in The Tank or Lake's brilliant bass lines and his enigmatic voice in Knife Edge. The group was largely influenced by classical composers and their technicality combined with these influences are what make this album to this day a classic in progressive rock.
Tarkus was their second album, and it defined the band. They pulled out all they had for this, so to say, and this concept album based on a theme of Reverse Evolution is a landmark in prog rock. With tracks such as Jeremy Bender and A Time and a Place, and their next album trilogy, ELP was tied with Zeppelin as the leading live band in the world. Yes, they were that good.
While ELP sold out eventually, churning out mediocre albums, their last good album was Brain Salad Surgery. And it was sad that a band with as much potential as ELP did this. Albums after this seem half baked and the band did confess some of these were produced just to fill the contractual obligations. In 1992, after a fourteen year hiatus, ELP came out with Black Moon, which, if not as awesome as their early works, was reminiscent of the band's talents. The tracks Paper Blood and their instrumental Romeo and Juliet based on Sergei Prokofiev's work of the same name are brilliant tracks on the album.
Several other supergroup offshoots of ELP did come into being in their long career, but none came close to what ELP was with their first three albums. Influencing bands such as Dream Theater, ELP with their technical skills and their detailed knowledge of music took progressive rock to a whole new level. To see this supergroup at their best, head over to YouTube and check out their live concerts from 1970. They have been called the most pretentious band ever, and described as the most exciting group from 70's that went wrong. Whatever they were, they could certainly play, and they played brilliantly.
Horror stories are full of clichés. Especially in anime. There will be some kind of a curse (or vampires); a lot of people who know about this curse but won't be willing to share it with the newly arrived naïve protagonist; those willing to share will be dying horrific deaths; and there will be blatant threats and obscure subliminal messages involving a black cat crossing a road. And the plot is nearly always away from the city. Higurashi, Umineko, Shiki follow that format and after a while all the 'jumpy' scenes, blood-curdling screams, gruesome deaths and forced suspense become quite repetitive. Still, people are strangely fond of horror shows.
Another follows the “cursed school with secretive students” archetype. The school is Yomiyama High School. The protagonist is a high school student from the city who transfers to the town. His classmates are not overly friendly and keep exchanging secretive glances and threatening looks. There are pretty girls who look like the perfect sacrifices to the cause of evil. The curse itself involves some dead girl, as always. But what makes it interesting is the story behind it. Years ago, a girl in ninth grade died. Her classmates, unable to come to terms with the grief, started acting as though she were alive. This caused some sort of ectoplasmic tension and things gradually escalated to a curse of some kind, with the class of Grade 9 taking some protective measures against it.
Where does the protagonist come into this? Well, he transfers to the class a long time later and is, somehow, the only one affected by the residue of the curse. He sees Misaki Mei, the mysterious girl who died 26 years ago, and he ends up letting loose the dogs of chaos. Sounds promising? Yes.
A good mystery story has the quality of keeping the reader on the edge all the time.
Every time they get close to the resolution, something unexpected should occur and you have to start all over again. But a good mystery should not be too complex. The story in Another is compact; it is not overloaded with too many plot points. It is paced nicely: all the information converging in for the final. The last few episodes were especially brilliant.
The art is one of the best things about this series. Of course, as a horror/mystery series it has to have a dark tone, but even then the attention to details was commendable. The musical score was spooky and maintained the atmosphere perfectly.
The early episodes were a bit of a drag but there is plenty of blood and gore to keep everyone happy. Once you get past them, this series does not feel like a waste of time.
The Verdict: 6/10
Fans of horror and mystery genre may consider Another as a good anime. It might not be the greatest, but keeping in mind the recent dip in the quality of anime produced, Another is one of the best anime of 2012 so far. Be prepared for some extreme blood and gore. But then again, what is horror without blood and gore? (Answer: a show where people get scared by roaches and run away)