By DAVID JOSEPH DEL GRANDE
“Critical Music Presents: Underground Sonics” is a compilation that keeps my soul on tempo with Afrika Bambaataa while looking for the perfect beat.
The Drum & Bass album contains 18 tracks featuring a collection of artists including Emperor, The Upbeats, Phace and the recently formed trio Ivy Lab, to name a few.
Every tune on “Underground Sonics” contains a uniform, but simultaneously distinct sound. And, Critical Music set an extraordinary high water mark which has affected me like few other beautiful opuses.
Every track is blissfully haunting, uniquely flawless and brilliantly complex. But currently two tracks are fueling my heart, coloring the view of my days and enchanting my dreams.
Mefjus & InsideInfo’s “Repentance” is the exorcism of frighteningly monstrous spiritual demons. This techy-rolling hymnal has washed these frequency-fornicators of all transgressions. The track possesses rich rhythmic layers, an absolving warm bass-line and drum-kicks that thunder a relentless path to redemption.
However, the masterpiece of “Underground Sonics” is Dub Phizix’s “The Clock Ticks.”
Every time my ear catches a hint of this track I am forced to pause, just breathe and enjoy a beautiful shiver up my spine.
This tune is simple, but gorgeously hypnotic and flavored with a patient swell that breaks suddenly into a warm, sauntering groove. “The Clock Ticks” insists I recall the early years of Drum & Bass when tracks deliberately took their time to seduce your ears.
“The Clock Ticks” is the type of track that never completely leaves you, like a lover you have yet to forget or the hometown you walked away from but still dream about. The mesmerizing wave of sound strolls with a tempo that mimics your mind, attempting to calculate when to reach for a life-changing first kiss.
I implore you to schedule a listen of “Underground Sonics.” The world needs to enjoy the musical gifts that slow our irreplaceable and most valuable asset called time.
All of the free Critical Music Podcasts can be found here.
By JAMIE VERWYS
Tucson community radio station KXCI has been a pillar of the local music scene for 30 years.
Since its debut broadcast in December 1983, the station has connected the community with countless musicians, non-profit organizations and events.
For 25 of those years, KXCI has called the downtown Armory Park neighborhood its headquarters. The building where staff and volunteers hang their headphones is a large home built sometime between 1904 and 1906.
The historic quirks of the space complement KXCI’s eclectic identity, but the time has come to upgrade. And with its current fundraising campaign, the station’s longtime dreams of improvement are well on their way.
Amplify KXCI launched with the intent to raise $750,000. The initiative focuses on four major tasks: signal expansion, building rehabilitation, technology upgrades and an endowment plan.
The primary goal was to expand the station’s limited coverage throughout the city with a new auxiliary transmitter.
“We are over halfway there at $382,000,” KXCI General Manager Randy Peterson said. “The first goal of the campaign was to get an antenna to increase our reception. We will be placing those orders in February for delivery and installation in early summer.”
KXCI currently broadcasts its signal from Mount Bigelow, reaching only downtown and central Tucson. The new transmitter will significantly improve signal for current listeners and expand it to the Catalina Foothills and Northwest Tucson.
The station also plans to expand its recording studio, Studio 2A. The studio has been a part of KXCI for 12 years and has hosted hundreds of live performances by local and national talent.
“We never finished making it look better or really had professional-grade acoustics,” Peterson said. “We’re also being held back by not having as many trained folks as we would like.”
With the funds allotted to building improvements, the station hopes to make 2A a relevant space for quality audio and video recordings.
KXCI staff want to purchase two stationary video cameras, improve acoustics and modernize current equipment.
The projected funds would also allow staff to train volunteers in recording and engineering skills to help accommodate more performances.
Since it is a nonprofit organization, KXCI places high value on volunteer services.
“As a volunteer, it’s fun to work on a project that you really believe in,” KXCI Community Engagement Director Amanda Shauger said. “It’s fun to be a part of things.”
Shauger began volunteering as a substitute disc jockey in August 1998 before becoming a full-time staff member in April 2010.
“It’s fun to be able to reach out to people from all parts of the community to find how their unique talents and gifts will help out the station,” she said.
Currently, the station has about 75-80 on-air volunteers.
The studio teaches a free DJ/Programmer training class for potential volunteers about three times a year. Demand for the course is high, so most applicants will be put on a waiting list.
Upon completing the four-week course, students have many options to aid the station. Volunteers participate in events and membership drives, and have the potential to DJ on-air.
The newest outlets for unpaid DJs are podcasts and “mini programs” available online.
The highest need for volunteers is in the music department. The studio receives about 100 CDs each week along with digital downloads. Volunteer help is necessary to review, label and file each album that arrives.
Contributions to the Amplify Campaign can be made at kxci.org/amplify-kxci.
For more information on KXCI, visit kxci.org. For volunteer inquiries, email Amanda Shauger at Amanda@kxci.org.
By KATIE STEWART
Every new year brings many annual events, from football playoffs to the start of a new semester. For stars of the big screen, the new year means award season.
From the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild honors to the prestigious Academy Awards, it’s the playoffs for film stars and movie creators.
Actors and directors have their hard work recognized as films from the previous year earn nominations and accolades from different groups around the world.
Movies from the past like “Gone with the Wind,” which earned eight Academy Awards in 1939, and the legendary “Titanic,” which earned 11 Oscars in 1997, continue to set the standard for filmmakers and audiences alike.
Motion pictures will live on, but so too will the many actors, screenwriters, directors, producers and composers who breathe life into these masterpieces.
Actors who’ve won multiple awards throughout the years, such as Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day Lewis, Katherine Hepburn and Meryl Streep, have taken movie making to its truest art form.
The same is true for directors like Steven Spielberg, who won best director for films like “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan,” and John Ford, who won four Academy Awards for movies like “The Grapes of Wrath.”
The annual award season can also make or break an actor’s career.
Jennifer Lawrence lost the Best Actress category in 2011 for her role in “Winter’s Bone” but went on to star in the franchise “The Hunger Games” as Katniss Everdeen. She won an Oscar in 2013 for “Silver Linings Playbook” as Tiffany Maxwell for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Lawrence is now a global sensation, most recently earning a Best Actress in a Supporting Role nomination for the film “American Hustle.”
However, winning an Oscar doesn’t guarantee overnight success or household recognition.
The actor Jean Dujardin starred in the film “The Artist” and won in the Best Actor category in 2012. Dujardin hasn’t really been heard from since.
The award season also alerts audiences to see the films that have been nominated. Unknown writers, directors and actors can utilize the award season buzz and get their name out to the public.
David O. Russell, who is both a director and writer, is finally getting feedback and praise for his character-driven films like “Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Fighter” and “American Hustle.”
His latest film, “American Hustle,” is about survival of the fittest in a sense, with some betrayal. It is filled with raw dialogue that leaves viewers quoting each scene.
Some of those consumers wouldn’t be in theaters if there weren’t awards to promote the films, actors and movie makers every year.
Gitesh Pandya of boxofficeguru.com made that point about “American Hustle,” writing, “With its incredible star power and awards buzz, ‘American Hustle’ led all the newly minted Best Picture Oscar nominees with an estimated $10.6 million for a hearty 28 percent jump.”
Who will win the 2014 Academy Awards?
It’s a tie for Best Actor in a Leading Role, judging by early awards. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey have each earned Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards.
The Best Actress in a Leading Role will obviously go to Cate Blanchett for her role in “Blue Jasmine,” directed by Woody Allen.
Jared Leto will win the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club.” He has already won his first Golden Globe, Critics Choice award and Screen Actors Guild award.
Lawrence is tied with newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, who gained buzz for her role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave.” Lawrence won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and Nyong’o won the Screen Actors Guild award.
I predict Nyong’o will win for her stunning performance.
The magic of award season brings excitement for aspects ranging from screenwriting to acting. Many little things add up to one major artistic creation: the motion picture.
Academy Award nominations for 2014
The live Oscar presentation will take place March 2 on ABC. Nominations include:
- “12 Years a Slave”
- “American Hustle”
- “Captain Phillips”
- “Dallas Buyers Club”
- “The Wolf of Wall Street”
- Alfonso Cuarón – “Gravity”
- Steve McQueen – “12 Years a Slave”
- Alexander Payne – “Nebraska”
- David O. Russell – “American Hustle”
- Martin Scorsese – “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Best Actor in a Leading Role:
- Christian Bale – “American Hustle” as Irving Rosenfeld
- Bruce Dern – “Nebraska” as Woody Grant
- Leonardo DiCaprio – “The Wolf of Wall Street” as Jordan Belfort
- Chiwetel Ejiofor – “12 Years a Slave” as Solomon Northup
- Matthew McConaughey – “Dallas Buyers Club” as Ron Woodroof
Best Actress in a Leading Role:
- Amy Adams – “American Hustle” as Sydney Prosser
- Cate Blanchett – “Blue Jasmine” as Jeanette “Jasmine” Francis
- Sandra Bullock – “Gravity” as Dr. Ryan Stone
- Judi Dench – “Philomena” as Philomena Lee
- Meryl Streep – “August: Osage County” as Violet Weston
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
- Barkhad Abdi – “Captain Phillips” as Abduwali Muse
- Bradley Cooper – “American Hustle” as Richard “Richie” DiMaso
- Michael Fassbender – “12 Years a Slave” as Edwin Epps
- Jonah Hill – “The Wolf of Wall Street” as Donnie Azoff
- Jared Leto – “Dallas Buyers Club” as Rayon
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
- Sally Hawkins – “Blue Jasmine” as Ginger
- Jennifer Lawrence – “American Hustle” as Rosalyn Rosenfeld
- Lupita Nyong’o – “12 Years a Slave” as Patsey
- Julia Roberts – “August: Osage County” as Barbara Weston-Fordham
- June Squibb – “Nebraska” as Kate Grant
Best Writing – Original Screenplay:
- “American Hustle” – Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
- “Blue Jasmine” – Woody Allen
- “Dallas Buyers Club” – Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
- “Her” – Spike Jonze
- “Nebraska” – Bob Nelson
Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay:
- “Before Midnight” – Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke
- “Captain Phillips” – Billy Ray
- “Philomena” – Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
- “12 Years a Slave” – John Ridley
- “The Wolf of Wall Street” – Terence Winter
BY RACHEL WHITE
SandScript, Pima Community College’s literary magazine, has again won first place in regional competition.
For the second in a row, SandScript brought home first-place honors in the Southwest division of the Annual Literary Magazine Competition hosted by the Community College Humanities Association.
The CCHA, founded in 1979, is a national organization dedicated to preserving and strengthening humanities in two-year colleges.
Each year, CCHA selects regional winners from Central, Eastern, Pacific Western, Southern and Southwestern divisions. It then names one national winner from the five finalists.
Faculty adviser Joshua Cochran said SandScript continues to improve each year, and hopes are high for the 2014 edition. The staff’s goal is to win the CCHA national award.
SandScript, which displays an artistic array of poetry, prose and visual art, is published annually during the spring semester.
Students enroll in a West Campus class, WRT 164 – Literary Magazine Workshop. They spend the semester evaluating and compiling works submitted by PCC students and employees.
Submissions are accepted during fall and spring time periods. Fall entries can be submitted through Dec. 1. The entry period will reopen in the spring, with submissions accepted through March 1.
PCC students who enrolled for at least two credits during Summer/Fall 2013 or who enroll during Spring 2014 are eligible to submit.
Cochran urged submitters to read the genre-specific guidelines very carefully. Failing to follow the guidelines may result in submissions being declared ineligible.
Options to obtain SandScript guidelines and submission forms include:
- Email email@example.com
- Visit online at aztecpressonline.com/sandscript
- Visit the Facebook fan page at facebook.com/sandscriptmag
By ANDREW PAXTON
Steven Spielberg’s iconic movie featuring killer dinosaurs running amok is back in theaters, this time containing eye-popping 3D effects that will immerse you on an island teeming with hungry man-eating beasts.
Hang on to your butts.
“Jurassic Park 3D” grabs audiences from the fear-inducing opening scene until the ending credits as viewers follow Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) through their harrowing tale of prehistoric mayhem.
Not long after John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) invites the three to inspect his theme park featuring cloned T-rexes and Velociraptors, things start to go wrong, thanks in part to the mischievous computer-programmer-turned-corporate-spy Dennis Nerdy (Wayne Knight).
Not even the legendary Samuel L. Jackson, in his role as head programmer Ray Arnold, can prevent people from being hunted and mutilated by the ravenous reptiles.
Although the release of “Jurassic Park 3D” commemorates 20 years since the original film hit theaters, many of the points featured in the movie are just as poignant today.
A reoccurring theme in the film revolves around mankind’s loss of respect for nature, and humans believing they can control everything.
“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should,” Malcolm warns.
In our modern world where cloning continues to develop and genetically modified organisms are showing up on grocery store shelves, the message hits close to home.
Cyber espionage and reliance on automation are also explored in Spielberg’s romp through a prehistoric theme-park, juxtaposing the past, present and future into a kaleidoscope of chaos and carnage.
As government officials warn us daily of digital attacks, the images of Nerdy taking down the groundwork of Jurassic Park with a few keystrokes should make everyone think twice about the systems that maintain our own electricity, water and other vital infrastructure.
“Jurassic Park” won Academy Awards for Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual effects when it was first released. Now, those award-winning effects have been upgraded with 3D graphics that makes viewers cringe and squeal with every snap of dinosaur jaws.
The graphics and musical score “are top of the line. Spared no expense,” as Jurassic Park’s creator Hammond would say.
Whether making a return visit or your first trip, the journey to Jurassic Park is well worth the price of admission. Just make sure to hang on tight.
Loft to screen cult ‘Evil Dead’ trilogy
The films of the “Evil Dead” trilogy will play at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., on April 13 starting at 9 p.m. The films featured will be “The Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead 2” and “Army of Darkness.”
Directed by Sam Raimi (“Oz the Great and Powerful”), the Evil Dead trilogy stands as one of the cult cornerstones of 1980s cinema. As a whole these films are a perfect medley of gore and giggles that chronicles the one-boomstick war between Ash (Bruce Campbell) and the Deadites.
Deadites are people possessed by the supernatural Book of the Dead, an ancient text bound in human flesh and inked in blood. When read from, the book unleashes ancient demons whose bloodlust will put any possession movie of the last 20 years to the chainsaw.
“The Evil Dead” (1981) and “Evil Dead 2” (1987) are classic “cabin in the woods” trope, pitting Ash against his demonized friends and eventual self in the setting of a remote mountain hideaway.
“Army of Darkness” (1992) raises the stakes and slapstick several notches. Ash and the Deadites clash in a final, epic battle in medieval Europe.
“The Evil Dead” will show at 9 p.m., “Evil Dead 2” at 10:30 p.m. and “Army of Darkness” at midnight. Single film admission is $9 general and $5 for Loft members. All three films are $20 general and $13 for members.
For information, including tickets, visit loftcinema.com/film/dead-by-dawn-the-evil-dead-trilogy-triple-feature.
No loopholes in ‘Looper’
2012 yielded a film trove of geeky goodness. We rejoiced at a sequel to “The Dark Knight,” were wowed by “The Avengers” and celebrated in unison with the long overdue death of “The Twilight Saga.”
“Looper,” one of the smaller gems from last year, is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Its quality is surprising, given its ambition. “Looper” is easily one of the best science-fiction films in recent memory. Director Rian Johnson (“Brick”) threads genre into a masterful tapestry of time travel and all of the mindfuckery it entails.
Meet Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an assassin hired by mobsters to kill targets sent from the future. A looper’s contract is closed when his older self is sent back to be killed, effectively “closing the loop” and covering the mob’s tracks.
One day Joe meets old Joe (Bruce Willis), who has a score to settle with the elusive “Rainmaker,” a criminal warlord prematurely closing loops, among other atrocities, in the future. A literal race against time ensues that will challenge young Joe to the core of his very humanity.
“Looper” is a simultaneous wonder of action and thought, provoking your adrenaline and heartstrings. A self-aware screenplay deftly juggles the film’s myriad plot points while injecting believability into its characters and world.
This aspect is further enhanced by the performances, particularly Emily Blunt as Sara, a single mother with an explosive secret. Savvy sci-fi viewers will notice “Looper” influences, namely “The Terminator” and the works of manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo.
For information, visit sonypictures.com/homevideo/looper.
By BRUCE HARDT
Catch Lariats show March 16
Local emo/punk band Lariats will play an all-ages show on March 16 at 6 p.m. at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St, for $5. The show will commemorate the release of the band’s new EP, “Our Native Tongue is Bad News.”
Lariats consists of members from other local talents such as The Bled, Youinseries, Versus the Mirror and American Black Lung. The concert will also feature Arizona hardcore punk bands American Standards and Territory, and psychedelic rock outfit Hollow Hills.
Following the positive reception to their 2012 debut, “If Mediocrity Was a Body of Water, We Would Have All Drowned by Now,” Lariats has won fans far and wide with their energetic, honest sound and lineup of seasoned musicians.
For information, visit hotelcongress.com/music/lariats-our-native-tongue-is-bad-news-album-release-party, facebook.com/lariats or on Twitter at @lariatsrock.
Children of God sets fire to the sky, review
Every once in a while a band will come along whose talent is evident from their demo moving forward. Orange County’s Children of God is such a band.
Starting out as a noisy hardcore punk band on their demo and “Coup de Grace” EP, Children of God began to incorporate elements of sludge metal and black metal starting with their split with peers, Seven Sisters of Sleep.
The result is a more contemplative sound that is no less vicious.
“We Set Fire to the Sky,” the band’s first full-length effort, is a culmination of the band’s previous work, and sets the bar to dizzying heights.
A package of torrential blasts and bleak landscapes, this record is mesmerizing, ambitious and loyal to the fiercely honest aesthetics of its genre.
A self-released piece, “We Set Fire to the Sky” has much to say about the state of society. Eight songs wreak havoc and impose peace, each a testament to Children of God’s unique brand and a dedication to combating personal and theological ills.
“We Set Fire to the Sky” can be purchased in vinyl from hellfishfamily.com or cvltnation.com/store-front and listened to and downloaded at cogofficial.stereokiller.com.
By MIKI JENNINGS
Serving fine Asian food and classy cocktails, Umi Star offers a nice lunch spot or a fine choice for dinner and drinks.
The restaurant, located at Grant Road and Campbell Avenue, took over the former Cartel Coffee Lab location in September.
Umi Star’s modern, metal furnishings are sleek and stylish. The music’s great and the staff is eager to help. Pair that with a good drink and tasty food, and you’ve got an upscale nightlife alternative to the typical bar scene.
Appetizer options include salty, tart or spicy edamame, edamame hummus with taro fries, and pork or veggie dumplings. You could also try sushi bruschetta with ginger sesame-marinated tuna for $9 or Japanese ceviche for $6.
If you’re the salad type, the menu has four to choose from: cucumber sunomono, chukka, squid and sashimi. Each salad costs $6-$7, except the sashimi, which costs $12. Salads are made with fresh veggies and other lively ingredients.
For something more substantial, check out the Asian street tacos. They come in beef or chicken, and cost $5 for two.
Or, try the sushi and specialty rolls. The cucumber and avocado roll is served with spicy aioli and chili plum soy sauce.
The rolls come beautifully plated by the chefs, and are incredibly full of interesting and exciting flavors.
Happy hour drink specials feature $6 cocktails, all with a unique combination of alcohols and other ingredients.
The Dublin Donkey Punch is a refreshing mix of high-quality whiskey, ginger beer, lime juice and mint.
The Lo Pan is another great cocktail, made with coconut and green tea-infused rum, lime juice, demerara and absinthe.
Umi Star’s 3 Storms has a base of grapefruit-infused shochu and champagne, with lime and honey.
There are also specially priced Asahi for $12 and Session beers for $12.
Varied sake options include Gekkeikan’s Haiku, Hakutsuru and Kubota Senju.
They range in price from $15-$30 per 300-375 ml bottle, which is the perfect size for sharing with a group.
Address: 2502 N. Campbell Ave.
Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-midnight
Friday-Sunday: 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
By MIKI JENNINGS
On University Boulevard, the Fix is serving up a new take on an old standby: mac and cheese.
Colorful, splashy and full of macaroni-inspired slogans, the cafe gives college students a friendly place to get a hearty meal away from home.
The Fix’s bowls of macaroni and cheese feature unique additions, including veggies, jalapeños, bacon and even lobster.
For a $3 difference, you can choose between a “minor” or “major” mac. The smaller serving was plenty for me, and I can’t imagine finishing the larger size in one sitting. Bowls range from $5.99 to $11.49.
The Fix offers a large selection of ingredients for “build-your-own” bowls.
Customers can choose between cream cheese, cheddar, parmesan, alfredo and Swiss cheese. You can add avocado, spinach, tortilla strips, green chilies and broccoli. Meats include turkey, bacon, ham, chicken, hamburger, bratwurst and lobster.
The menu also includes a variety of grilled cheese and other sandwiches that cost between $5.59 and $8.49. Portions are huge, almost ensuring leftovers.
Grilled cheeses come with chips and a cookie. All other sandwiches come with chips.
For a healthier fix, you can buy a Caesar, club, garden or taco salad. The costs range from $6.49 to $7.49. Given the price and the tastier, unhealthier options, it almost seems a waste to choose a salad.
If you like to stick around for dessert, you can buy an order of cookies. The cafe sells individual cookies, and half- and full-dozens.
The Fix offers soda, coffee and an assortment of beer and wine. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 3 – 6 p.m.
Specials include $2 beer or wine, and $5 for a grilled cheese or mini-bowl of mac and cheese with a Budweiser or soda.
For more information, visit facebook.com/thefixarizona.
Address: 943 E. University Blvd.
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-6 p.m.
By MIKI JENNINGS
Juggling work, school and a social life can be difficult enough. Taking the time to plan balanced lunches from home can prove quite the challenge. All too often, college students resort to fast food or unhealthy snacks because it’s easier than planning ahead.
Healthier snacks are getting more and more common in the market. Here are some healthy alternative snacks to supplement your lunch while you’re on the go.
Halfpops are a partially popped popcorn snack from Seattle, Wash. They recently came to Tucson’s AJ’s Fine Foods and are $3.69 for a 7-ounce bag. They are small, crunchy bites with a toastier popcorn taste.
Their website boasts “less fluff, more flavor” and all natural ingredients that are free of gluten, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, preservatives or artificial flavors.
They come in two flavors: butter and salt, and aged cheddar. These flavors are great, but they really need a sweet addition, like kettle corn or caramel. Until that happens though, the salty flavors provide a great snack.
AJ’s Fine Foods is located in La Encantada, 2805 E. Skyline Drive.
UNREAL CANDY, UNJUNKED
It may be candy, but the great thing about Unreal’s Unjunked candy is just that — no junk. The candy has no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavoring, and no preservatives.
So while the sugar rush might not be great for you, it’s probably better for you than all the extra ingredients in regular candy. They make “unjunked” versions of many candy classics: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, plain and peanut M&M’s, and Milky Way candy bars.
The thing about Unreal candy is that if you expect it to be exactly like its highly-processed counterpart, you will be disappointed. The “unjunked” peanut M&Ms are duller in color and misshapen, but packed with a more natural nutty, chocolate taste.
In Tucson, Unreal products can be purchased at CVS for about $1.19 a bag. Check out getunreal.com/find-unreal-candy for more stores.
By THOMAS F. JOHNSON
The series “Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles” was based on the Paul Verhoeven science-fiction film in 1997.
It was kept from getting an audience because new episodes were shown in the wee hours of the morning, run out of order or constantly rerun.
But it is a hidden gem, and well worth a watch for anyone who has the time to sit down and take it in.
The first thing I must say about the series is that the animation hasn’t aged all that poorly for 1999 computer-generated imagery, even though a lot of the human characters do run face first into the uncanny valley when they’re not in their suits and there are several times where the CGI shows its flaws.
I can honestly say the show would’ve looked a lot better had they done it in 2D. They actually were going to do that until they changed to CGI at the last minute, and they would suffer the consequences dearly for it.
But the excellent animator Fil Barlow did produce the art design, which is especially evident given the wonderfully creative designs of the bugs.
The series is about a group of soldiers called Razack’s Roughnecks during a war between humanity and a species of cruel, arthropodal aliens called the Bugs and their allies. (Well, it’s more complicated than that, but saying more would spoil it.)
It shows the progression of the war as we learn more and more about both the bugs and the characters.
This was one of the first in the wave of ‘90s action shows written to be light enough for kids and smart enough for adults, and it really does show.
The series hews closer to the original Robert A. Heinlein novel in tone, being a straight military science-fiction piece rather than the tongue-in-cheek satire of fascism in Verhoeven’s movie.
Though the writing can get a bit formulaic at times (Seriously, how many rescue missions can they do?), the story remains compelling throughout.
As one learns more and more about the bugs, one gets more and more fascinated. The characterization is consistent and good, helped by excellent voice acting, as we get to know characters like hotshot Johnny Rico, the impulsive and brash Dizzy, and the sensitive psychic Jenkins.
And the action itself is exciting fun, especially due to Barlow’s excellent designs for the bugs.
Unfortunately, in what will likely become a running theme for this column, the huge battle of the last four episodes that the series was building toward never happened due to production problems, instead replacing them with crummy clip shows.
Barlow said it was due to them budgeting for 2D animation instead of CGI and Sony not wanting to take a chance on the show.
But if you want a smart, adult, military sci-fi cartoon, check it out at http://www.hulu.com/roughnecks-starship-troopers-chronicles.
And if you want a bit more behind the scenes info, check out Barlow’s Deviantart at http://filbarlow.deviantart.com/.
By APRIL GEORGE
With six years gone by since the release of “Opheliac,” fans of Emilie Autumn were beginning to wonder if they would ever see new material.
Autumn announced “Fight Like A Girl” in 2010, shortly after the release of her autobiographical fantasy novel, “The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls.” Fans waited eagerly but heard nothing more until early this year, when Autumn began debuting songs from the album on her tour.
The concept album for Autumn’s planned stage musical based on her book was finally released on June 24. Fans crashed her website in their hurry to get the album, which has since received mixed reviews from the fanbase.
“Fight Like A Girl” is a far different experience than her first album, “Enchant,” though not nearly as dark as “Opheliac.”
Dark tunes include the title track, which is about revenge, plus “Take the Pill,” about forced medication, “Time for Tea,” a violent song about rising against oppressors (in the case of the story, doctors in an asylum) and “Scavenger,” which is about both vultures and grave robbers, depending on how listeners perceive it.
Other songs range from humorous (“Girls! Girls! Girls!”) to thought-provoking (“Gaslight,” “One Foot in Front of the Other,” “Goodnight Sweet Ladies.”) Autumn also included “If I Burn,” a song cut from “Opheliac” about the witch burnings of Europe, and several instrumental tracks.
The best part of the album is that a listener doesn’t need to have read the book to understand it, as Autumn tells the story through song.
Unfortunately, the album uses less violin than her previous ones, a letdown given that Autumn is a talented violinist. Other critiques have panned some of the songs as “rushed” and not up to the standards of her first two albums.
One song in particular, “The Key,” has been poorly received by most fans. Though it has excellent instrumentals, the lyrics are poorly rendered and spend too much time simply summarizing the climax of the book.
Favorite tracks include “Fight Like a Girl,” “Girls! Girls! Girls!,” “Take the Pill,” “If I Burn,” “Hell is Empty,” and “Goodnight Sweet Ladies.” Least favorite track: “The Key.”
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” delivers a strong message of perseverance and teamwork.
The movie opens in London in 1837. The sentiment of disgust for pirates is made clear by Queen Victoria Regina. Happiness, it seems, will not be hers until all pirates are extinct.
The audience is introduced to the pirate crew as they debate the best part of being a pirate. The Pirate Captain, voiced by Hugh Grant, settles the argument by declaring the best part about being a pirate is “Ham Nite.”
The Pirate Captain begins to discuss the upcoming and illustrious Pirate of the Year award. In previous years, he has lost the competition but is certain that will change this year.
The pirates are evaluated for the award based mainly off the amount of booty they have pillaged, but other aspects are taken into consideration, including their beards, their ability to roar and the bounty on them set by the Queen.
The Pirate Captain is determined to win despite the condescending attitudes of competing pirates and a lack of ships to plunder.
After numerous failed plundering attempts, the Pirate Captain is about to give up on piracy. After a motivational speech given to him by his first mate, he attempts to pillage one more ship. However, instead of finding treasure he meets Charles Darwin.
The Pirate Captain nearly forces Darwin to walk the plank, but he saves himself at the last minute by commenting on the ship’s beloved parrot Polly. He notices something special about her and promises untold riches if they enter her into the Scientist of the Year contest in London.
Through their encounters with Darwin and Queen Victoria, the pirates learn that nothing is as it seems and that through teamwork and loyalty, dreams can be accomplished.
Although this movie is geared toward children, there are certain elements that may cause parents of younger children some concern. For example, a pirate competing for the Pirate of the Year award named Cutlass Liz, voiced by Salma Hayek, was portrayed in a very sexual manner, including a tight, low-cut shirt that showed off more of her body than it covered. As she entered the bar, a group of pirates call her a trollop. Not the best thoughts to be putting in the minds of children.
However, most college students would not mind the brief sexuality and the humor would be appreciated. Viewers of all ages will find it hard to not cheer for the Pirate Captain and his crew throughout their adventures.
Overall, the theme of the movie was positive and fun despite a few scenes that may be inappropriate for younger children. It is rated PG and was released into theaters April 27.
By ERIC KLUMP
“21 Jump Street” helped to established Fox as a powerhouse network in 1987.
A young Johnny Depp headed the cast and its episodes dealt with real issues in teenage lives. A remake of the show is now showing at your local cinema, and is definitely worth watching.
In terms of a remake of the old hit, how does the film stack up? Terribly, but this is a good thing. Instead of trying to copy the old show, this movie is the best buddy-cop comedy in years.
It follows two former schoolmates-turned-partners on the police force, played by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. The two, undercover, are sent back to high school to bust a drug ring.
The film takes no prisoners with its humor, making fun of everything from high-speed action pursuits to changing ideals of “cool” to the movie itself, with a series of jokes about the fact that the movie is “another remake.”
Tatum plays officer Greg Jenko, a stereotypical dumb jock in high school, who is turned into a social outcast by the vastly different social landscape of modern high school.
Hill plays Morton Schmidt, who was a nerdy loner in high school but who quickly becomes one of his new school’s most popular students while on assignment.
Others include Rob Riggle, who steals the show as the coach Mr. Walters, and Ice Cube as the officer heading the Jump Street program.
Additionally, Johnny Depp makes a brief but memorable cameo that in and of itself is worth noting.
If you want an average comedy, go see something else. If you want to leave the theater wiping tears of laughter off your cheeks, go see “21 Jump Street.”
“21 Jump Street” opened in theaters March 16.