Friday, December 30, 2011

The Hangover Part II - DVD

I'm glad I didn't pay to see this in the theater. I definitely do not consider myself a film snob. I am very generous when it comes to giving films a chance that others may hate. Having said that, I think Hangover II sucks. Yep, rarely do I give a scathing review as I try to pull the good out of most films I watch. But man, I was disappointed with this one. Considering that I thought the first Hangover was one of the best comedies I've seen in a while, part II would be its evil twin brother. Most of the jokes seemed forced, and the pace was too damn slow. It did have funny scenes and even topped the first one as far as shock value. But just because you have shock value doesn't always mean it'll be funny. When they push the shock value without any REAL comedy behind it, it winds up being FLAT. What made the first one so great is that it had lots of shock value AND equal amounts of great comedy to go with it. Thumbs down for Hangover II. They should've just stopped where they ended in Vegas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Batman: NOEL

Ho Ho Ho, here to get you into the Christmas spirit is... Batman??

Yep, in one of the biggest surprises in the world of graphic novels this season, Batman: Noel swings into our world and drops a new take on that old familiar Christmas Story by Dickens. Written by Lee Bermejo, Batman: NOEL puts a twist on the Dickens' tale and brings it into the heart of Gotham city. If I can say three words about this is, "Get this book". For anyone that loves the Batman franchise as much as I do, you'll be sure to enjoy this. I never really read a Batman story that struck an emotional chord in me, but this one did. The phenomenal story and artwork in this book makes it one of the years best for me. So go and check it out!

David Crowder*Band - Oh For Joy

It was sad news earlier this year when the David Crowder*Band would be breaking up after this year. So naturally, all of us that are familiar with the band expect a farewell album that we can remember for years. Well, DCB has stated that they are working on a final album. But the most recent "Oh For Joy" is not it. This is a little gift dropped by the band for fans to enjoy this holiday season, as well as other seasons to come. So while we wait for them to finish their last album, we get to hear their unique versions of Christmas favorites such as Joy To The World, Angels We Have Heard On High, and Silent Night on this album that includes a total of 8 tracks. Do yourself a favor and add some holiday cheer to your festivies this year courtesy of DCB!

Friday, December 16, 2011

TobyMac - Christmas in DiverseCity

I am proud to post this review by Amica Paige of TobyMac's "Christmas in DiverseCity"... Check it out!

I wouldn't call myself a Christian; I'd rather wait for Truth in the end to reveal what's beyond this fragile life, which is nevertheless sprinkled with beauty, peace, and joyful things, if we only cared enough to see that the glass is indeed half-full and not always view it from the top as half-empty and lacking. I consider myself a hopeful skeptic, an occasional atheist, a nature worshipper, and a lover of art, music, and words. In other words, I'm a doubting Thomas and a crumb-licking dog searching for home. I'm both spiritual and worldly, if there is such a separation. I regard myself earthy, since I, like you, am grounded by gravity no matter how different our spiritual takes are, and recognize that our only exit is exactly the only exit from this life—to dust.

Why the long intro just to review a musical piece? Well, my theatrics lead to this: my general fondness for music. I keep my ears open—yes, even to those labeled as "Christian" music, which are sometimes disregarded, mocked, just plain hated, or unnecessarily worshipped even more so than the God in their message. I believe that music, in all its forms, opens the mind, touches the spirit, and pierces the soul, if it bears any substance at all. Having said all that, here is my experience with TobyMac's Christmas in DiverseCity, a collaborative album.

Words that came to mind upon the first listen:
Breezy, Jingly, Snappy, Dancy.
Melodic. A soulful variety.
Tender...yet hard enough to rock to or, as I prefer, dance to.

And after the 2nd and umpteenth plays, here's what I think:
Christmas This Year rings in beautifully with a smooth blend of Toby's arresting ease and Leigh Nash's angelic vocals—there she goes again!—complemented by the entrancing background piano.

The First Noel is a strong follow with a rhythmically captivating arrangement, while Mary's Boy Child is definitely one of my favorite songs in the album, as even a bitter soul may render this soothing tune as ear candy—a delicious mix of intoxicating calm and head sway.

I seriously would dance or jog to O Come, All Ye Faithful—alright, I actually did dance to it and would have also done the latter if I didn't have a problem with sweaty earbuds slipping from my ears. However, singing along to this euphonic tune can make one feel like a real phony, especially if you like to question the Being being sung about. I couldn't help it though. When a song is brilliantly executed with just the right amount of funk, a listener can get carried away.

Little Drummer Boy is rich in beats, yet manages to hold its footing quite well, not losing grip of its context in all the fun, whereas This Christmas (Father of the Fatherless) is a tuneful chant of its title in parenthesis.

Carol of The Kings is a finely crafted symphonic song, making it a real treat on that point alone. As an aside and not to discount the artist's own merit, the rapper sounds like Kanye West, whose rapping style, per se, I like.

Birth of Love exudes energy. I'd play this as a backdrop for a Holiday fashion show if I move in that arena.

What Child is This? penetrates the way a song should...even if you didn't bother with Christ. Its musical strength can mesmerize.

It Snowed is rock, pure and simple. If guitar riffs could jolt you into head bobbing, you'd dig this. But I dance to the beat of brit pop and funky or entrancing songs and relish the slightly tamer side of some alternative and indie tunes.

Angels We Have Heard On High presents yet another angelic voice, wrapped in heavenly harmony and goosebumps-inducing chorus, warmly tied with an instrumental ribbon. There is a bit of narrated biblical message later in the song, as a sidenote to those who just can't be bothered with it or those whose ears are simply numb to it.

Santa's Coming Back Around is a jazzy R&B, a style that doesn't quite stir my spirit, like rock music, and the outburst in the intro can be quite grating. Still, it's just my queer taste and certainly not a pompous and foolish attempt to disregard the artist(s). Ditto for Christmas Time which is another flavorful R&B, at least for those who jive to those beats.

To end, if music is chocolate, this is definitely a box worth grabbing this season. The only difference is, it would never run out on you. If likened to coffee, DiverseCity is a nicely brewed Holiday album, infused with such melodic ease, funk, and musical depth, elements that arguably prevent an album from turning into just another overprocessed junk in a music industry often stricken with a toxic tick that saps the sublime out of its pop music, leaving them as substanceless as soda pop, regardless of its spiritual angle, or lack of. I give this Christmas album a 9 3/4s out of ten stars, only because I'm still stuck at King's Cross and could never quite get to perfection such as that of closure...wishing that the Great Hall had never closed its doors... Perhaps, I should give DiverseCity a few more hundred listen to give it a perfect ten.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Being the huge Harry Potter fan that I am, I was ecstatic upon receiving my copy of Deathly Hallows Part II. Seeing this on Blu-ray was a great experience since the only other time I saw it was in the theater. Just being able to stop and rewind key scenes to take it all in again was a lot of fun. The movie has its flaws, but overall it was a very satisfying end to the franchise that has done what no other movie series has ever done before. Sure, it's sad that we have no more HP films to look forward to each year. But having the films on Blu-ray and experiencing them at home will do just fine for now and in the future. Of course the Blu-ray is loaded with bonus features that cannot be missed. One key feature is a sit down conversation between Dan Radcliffe and JK Rowling. I can't recommend this Blu-ray set enough. Go out and see it now!