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A Dim Start to The Dark Universe

The onslaught of reviews towards Universal’s newest monster flick The Mummy are as malicious as they are creative. “The Mummy should have stayed buried” and “It’s a movie best kept under wraps” are some of the insults in a series of horrendous comments that have given Alex Kurtzman’s picture a 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is quite clear why the film was critically panned. With the release of Wonder Woman the week prior and audience fatigue for shared cinematic universes, The Mummy’s by-the-book execution of its characters and obvious attempts to world-build, instead of telling a cohesive stand-alone story, represented everything wrong with the “traditional” summer blockbuster. And, the best action sequences were revealed in the trailers.

COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES

Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Success or Failure?

You may be asking yourself, what is Pirates of the Caribbean, a film series based off a theme park ride, doing with a fifth installment? I can tell you in one word. Money! But, what about quality? Is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and the rest of the Pirates franchise for that matter, a success or failure?

COURTESY OF DC ENTERTAINMENT

A Wonder to Behold

“If you choose to leave, you may never return.”

“Who will I be if I stay?”

 

This exchange occurs between Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and Diana Prince /Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in one of the major turning points of the film. Diana is eager to leave her home, the island of Themyscira, and venture back into man’s world in an effort to end World War I, while Hippolyta advises against it, encouraging her daughter to remain safe on the island. Although the heavenly comforts of her home are enticing, Diana forgoes security and comfort for a cause that’s greater than herself. By the film’s end, she is far from the naive and innocent girl that viewers first saw; instead she is a battle-hardened and mature woman, shaped by her experiences. As viewers stare at her with awe at her transformation, they realize the answer to Diana’s question: she would not have grown had she not left what was comfortable and routine.

COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS ANIMATION

Captain Underpants Successfully Flies to Film

I remember back in elementary school, my friends would all read Captain Underpants, a silly comic book series by Dav Pilkey about a superhero who donned nothing but tighty-whities and a red cape. I never actually read the series myself, excepting one time in the school library where I ended up taking a quick peek for myself. This past Friday, DreamWorks Animation brought the comics to life with Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. Directed by David Soren and written by Nicholas Stoller, Captain Underpants manages to tell a competent story with good characters and a surprising variety of laughs. The movie focuses on two schoolboys, George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch), who build their friendship on their sense of humor.

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Alien Covenant: A Requiem to Prequels

Crafting a good prequel film can be tricky. While it is exciting to see backstories of fan-favorite characters or the genesis of a cinematic world, the audience usually knows the outcome of the film. No matter how ambitious, creative, or innovative directors attempt to be, prequels are doomed from the start and are always a slave to canon. As a result, most prequels (X-Men: First Class, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Rogue One aside) are merely “creative ways” to reach an assured end and can often feel only marginally connected to the original film that inspired it. This debacle is largely what plagues director Ridley Scott’s latest sci-fi horror film, Alien: Covenant.

Sun Sessions with SadoSan

Sun Sessions with SadoSan

SadoSan attempts to do something with his music that more than a handful of artists have aimed at, but which not all that many can claim to have actually accomplished: build something big and brilliant and smart and meaningful off of foundations that couldn’t be much humbler… awkward parties (“Should’ve Known Me”), dusty samples (Ikpeazu), cringeworthy interactions (this very video), and the like. What Sado gives us here in his Sun Session is just a sliver of that ethos: “‘Know Know’ is about dating in NYC,” he says, “and more specifically how it can be when you end up in an intense situation with someone whom you don’t know very well. Sometimes it can be hard to express to someone — especially right to their face — that you just want them to leave.” That’s it.

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TEST SPIN: Logic — Everybody

Concept albums are often a substantial sacrifice to commercial success. If an artist’s impulse to explore a certain idea outweighs their desire to make simpler songs with less context, that are a better fit for their brand, the album may not grab the popularity that a less complex album could have. For some people, the idea and passion that ties a project together may be enough to excuse a lesser quality of music. For others, having an exceptional concept isn’t enough to uphold an otherwise lackluster album. Logic’s Everybody, his third studio album and his seventh musical project released in the past seven years, should be enough to satisfy, if not please, both sides.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Twice The Fun but Half The Heart

Considering the wide variety of obscure Marvel characters, from Squirrel Girl to Spider-Ham, then the likes of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Racoon and Groot are not too out of left field. The only question was whether audiences would be receptive to an Odyssean epic set against the backdrop of 70s and 80s tunes, where a human space pirate, emerald assassin, vindictive warrior and an anthropomorphic raccoon, along with his tree sidekick, joined forces to save the universe. Yet, with due faith in the Marvel brand and an innovative script from James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, Guardians of the Galaxy ended up being one of the best breakout hits of 2014, praised for its touching characters, visual splendor, humor and unpredictability. Just as the superhero genre was becoming stale due to a bevy of uninspired films like Iron Man, Thor and the X-Men sequels, Guardians gave new life to the genre. The film helped propel other eccentric and outlandish properties, such as Ant-Man (2015), into the mainstream zeitgeist.

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What Should Happen in Pirates of the Caribbean 5?

Everyone has their guilty pleasures. I have to admit, Pirates of the Caribbean is one of mine. How can you not love the soundtrack from At World’s End? Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is just around the corner, and I’m wondering what they’re going to do with it. After internet pirates ironically “pirated” the movie, which is about pirates, I wondered what would possess them to do that.

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Sun Sessions with West End China Shop

West End China Shop is a shabby rock outfit comprised of four self described “basement dads.” They play garage rock tunes with plenty of keyboard, for the kids and no one else. Drums: Jonny Collazo, Arts and Sciences, Comparative Literature, Class of 2018
Bass: Stephen Meisel, Arts and Sciences, Comparative Literature, Class of 2018
Keys: Franklin Ellis, CALS, Development Sociology/ IARD, Class of 2019
Vox/ Guitar: J. Benjamin Montaño, Arts and Sciences, Gov’t /Comparative Literature, Class of 2019

Set List
“Courtyard”

Instagram: @westendchinashop
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/WestEndChinaShop/

Credits
Videographers: LeeAnn Marcello
Video Editor: LeeAnn Marcello
Audio Engineer: TJ Hurd
In collaboration with Electric Buffalo Records and Fanclub Collective