Welcome back (again) to Entertainmentopia, my name is Erich Becker, and I founded this thing nearly 25 years ago. What you'll find here is  one man's opinions and sometimes coherent posts on a number of different topics on a blog that just wants to be a small island, in a big ocean and put words on the screen as a creative outlet. Welcome and enjoy!


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The Clash’s Joe Strummer made it no secret that he was fascinated by the Rasta lifestyle. As such, he incorporated its traditional reggae sounds into The Clash’s legendary third album, the epic double-LP London Calling. In what has now been critically dubbed as the best punk album of all-time, as well as appearing on several greatest albums lists, The Clash burst at the seams with an explosion of experimental power. Known better as punk stand-outs, as famous for their loud guitar grit as their political stances, they pull out all of the stops in delivering a lush, diverse mixture of anthem rock, punk, “white” reggae, and pop listen-ability.

Not only is London Calling‘s catchy writing and meaningful lyrics outstanding, but it creates a fertile environment for instrumental exploration. Thus, on many key tracks, horns, a variety of drums, and piano were added for depth. This experimentation makes the album twice as great, and all the tracks are meticulously pieced together for full effect (or at least they sound that way). London Calling combines the raw energy of The Clash’s previous effects (particularly their debut) with a new layer of pop sense and experimentation. The results are glorious.

It begins with the apocalyptic title track, in which Strummer gasps in his trademark slur, “All that phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust.” And with that, a new era of musical derivatives is welcomed. Punk is reborn, with a twist. The haunting bass of Paul Simonon sounds as if it came from the depths below. Mick Jones’ guitar blaring a droning chord. This is The Clash revisiting their roots, and it doesn’t disappoint. “Brand New Cadillac” is quite the opposite, charging with its warped surfer machismo, like the Beach Boys in an alternate universe. Although not written by The Clash, Strummer and company make it their own. “Jimmy Jazz” follows with a lazy, slurred beat about so-called Jimmy Jazz running from the police. It’s a treat of experimentalism with an open melody. It features whistling, horns, a banjo, and many unique instruments. The easy-rolling trip is a delight full of brass interludes, riveting lyrics (“What a relief! I feel like a soldier, look like a thief,” Strummer shouts), and ends with a little jazz scat. This experimentalism carries over to “Hateful,” a clap-along with a great mixture of punk and chant pop. The next song, Jones’ “Rudie Can’t Fail,” is perhaps the best entry on the entire album. Its punk sensibility would surely be imitated for decades to come (most notably by U2, Green Day, and Sublime), but its success is marked by its excellent use of Jamaican influence and horns (once again). The rotating vocals between Jones, Strummer, and Simonon are wonderful, as are the sound-off lyrics. Simply a punk classic.

The latter half of the first side sees the simmering Clash flesh out the Spanish Civil War in “Spanish Bombs.” On “The Right Profile,” they attack with militant fervor not heard since their debut album. It hearkens back to Big Band with driven brass (and a great performance on baritone sax), and the raw, perhaps drunken, sound of Strummer’s voice is unparalleled on the rest of the album. Jones writes an introspective Clash-lite winner in “Lost in the supermarket” but is overshadowed by the rigid old-age punk sound of “Working for the Clampdown.” Bassist Paul Simonon debuts as a songwriter with “Guns of Brixton” and sings with a pseudo-reggae accent. As such, it does feature a great bass line, and a strong ska guitar. Its lyrics are inspired, but are far too pointed: “When they kick at your front door, how you gonna come? With your hands on your head, or the trigger on your thumb?” “Wrong ‘Em Boyo” was not penned by The Clash, but they once again turn out an amazing display of ingenuity that very well may include the most identifiable ska arrangement ever. The troubled story of Stag-O-Lee and Billy unfolds first with a horns-blazing intro and then transforms into a piano/synth matching beats with offbeat horns. Everything about it is genius, and turns this into a definite ska staple.

Leaving no room to slow, Strummer wails on “Death or Glory” about the cracked ideal of integrity “these days” with lyrics like: “Death or glory becomes just another story.” It’s a well-written gem with a direct point. “Koka Kola” revisits the punk standard, and Strummer paints a tale of sorrow and regret with the piano power of “The Card Cheat” that reminds us of our own mortality. “Lover’s Rock” follows, but its a stuttering example of The Clash at their most limited. Mick Jones wraps up the album nicely with the optimistic march of “I’m Not Down.” The Clash then makes a wondrous reggae beat with “Revolution Rock” that would have brought a smile to Bob Marley’s face. Its no-stress sentiment is backed with a flowing Strummer, a reggae bass, bongos, and smooth lyrics: “Tell ya momma, tell ya pop! Everythin’s gonna be alright-a!” The single-released hidden song “Train in Vain” sounds more an ’80s soul trademark than a punk riot anthem.

London Calling is the first of The Clash’s experimental efforts, and is a pioneer of musical derivatives. Its white-reggae, ska, and punk culmination makes this album a legendary masterpiece. Although punk and ska fans will probably already own this given that it has influenced every punk album after its release, I consider this essential to ALL music fans. If you love music, you need this album! As the personal favorite album of this reviewer, it is the best effort from the greatest punk band ever. The Clash were once proclaimed as “the only band that matters,” and London Calling is the proof to back that statement.

Warning this review may contain material some readers might find objectionable.

With the recent surge in both comic book movies and films that pair up two franchises against each other (a la Freddy vs. Jason) it seems only right that someone would finally realize that there was one untapped “vs.” match-up that is also a comic book/video game franchise. With all that going for it, it would be impossible to screw up, right?

Unfortunately, for the viewer, watching Alien vs. Predator is like being bent over a chair by director Paul W.S. Anderson and being violated with nothing more than the Alien-creature’s searing, acid blood as lubrication. The film is such a mess one must wonder if FOX knew what was going on during the movie’s production and if they actually knew that two of their greatest franchises, with so much established canon, and potential, would be going down the virtual crapper faster than you can say “dollar signs.”

The fact that the movie wasn’t screened for critics during the week of its release was the first indication that something was wrong. Usually, for those who are unfamiliar with the premise, a film is screened for “professional” critics a few days in advance of its release in order to build up buzz for the film. When a movie isn’t screened the studio usually knows something is wrong and declines to hold a screening hoping to stem the negative buzz before it hits the streets.

Alien vs. Predator, as a film catering to fans of both franchises, doesn’t need critical approval for the movie to be accepted and viewed. Maybe that is the most troubling actuality for me. The fact that people will be endlessly viewing the film hoping that they are finally going to get the ultimate showdown between two of the coolest characters in sci-fi history. Half-way through the film it won’t be uncommon to check to make sure the director isn’t behind you, waiting for you to get up. Even if Paul W.S. Anderson isn’t back there, perhaps the FOX studio execs are, waiting for their opportunity to shovel this crap down the throats of unsuspecting movie-goers.

Those looking to see a film that capitalizes on the strengths of both franchises are due to be very disappointed. Coming in with the cop-out, and crippling, PG-13 rating, AVP lacks the violence of its predecessors and aside from a few in-jokes here and there, you never get the feeling that this film is anything more than a marketing measure gone horribly wrong than an actual film in either series. Granted, the premise of the film isn’t too bad, although a great majority of the comic’s fans, including myself, was hoping for the film to be set in the future allowing for the two alien creations to go up-against the lovable space marines from James Cameron’s excellent Aliens. The prequel aspect took out the enduring quality of the Alien series, Ripley, a hero identified as one of the top 50 ever, and left us with a tough rock-climbing chick (Sanaa Lathan).

Instead of Ripley to tie the movies together, we get the equally cool Bishop in the form of the founder of the once-nameless Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen). Weyland who finds a temple constructed under Antarctica. Striving forward, in the capitalist definition of the word, the corporate headpiece brings together a rag-tag group of drillers, explorers, and archaeological experts to travel to the temple, and see what lies within.

It just so happens that a clan of Predators use that temple to train their youngsters and allow them to become full-fledge hunters in a coming-of-age hunt that rewards them with their shoulder-blasters. Imagine how surprised the humans are when they stumble upon the sacrificial chamber used to impregnate host with alien embryos. This is where things take a turn for the worse. As we saw in Alien, the gestation period for the embryo is hours, if not a better part of a day, but in AVP, it takes all but five minutes for the alien to “bust-out” onto the scene and begin to cause havoc. This is just one of the glaring inconsistencies with the series including established canon that goes back to the very first film in the series. The movie seems to rely on the Alien back-story more than the Predator one. Why do I say this? The fact that no one seems to remember anything that happen in the previous two Predator films (acres of jungle being blown to kingdom-come and a giant explosion under a major US city), even though they would have happened in the past if this film takes place in 2004. Even the Predator series’ most revered joke (“You’re one ugly mother…”) is misplaced in this film, when they utter it towards the wrong species!

There were times during the movie when I wished for a blunt instrument to jam into my eye and see if I was more entertained. The stylistic camera motions used by Anderson exhibit his need for a Steadicam more than a sense of style. The head to head battles, between the two title characters, are very hard to follow when the camera seems to jump all over the place, making it hard to understand what is going on. Towards the end, things become even more ludicrous as a sort-of-Charlie’sAngels-like motif sets in including the prerequisite slow-motion run in front a wall of fire and Jurassic Park-rip-off ending sequence. Even the “ha-we-got-you” ending is rendered futile if you examine the previous films in the series and realize that it could never happen.

Alien vs. Predator is yet another failed sequel and a huge disappointment for the people who support those sequels, the core fans of the series. Instead of a fight to the death or even FOX’s marketing ploy of “whoever wins…we lose” we get a tame version of a film that had so much success in other mediums it should have been a no-brainer to bring it to big screen in style. In the long run, maybe it is better this movie has been made so in 30 years, when Hollywood completely runs out of ideas again, they can remake it and know what not to do. Here’s hoping things look better in 2034 and the grocery store isn’t out of ointment.

I didn’t see last winter’s The Last Samurai because I thought it was a bold award-fishing move on Tom Cruise. Many people called me crazy for thinking that, and many other people said it was a good movie, but it just didn’t jive with me. Truth be told, Tom Cruise movies call into one of two categories for me, either A) holy crap this looks cool or B) what the hell? Lucky for you and me, Collateral falls into the former category and brings Mr. Cruise into a villainous role with great ease.

Much press was given to the film because of the headlining actor’s aforementioned trip into the role of a bad guy complete with grey hair and a personality that was both friendly and ominous. Cruise portrays Vincent, a hired hit man gunning down witnesses around LA the night before a big trial. Vincent is picked up by Max (Jamie Foxx), a cab driver aspiring to be the owner of a limo company. Max is the prerequisite nice guy who gets caught up in Vincent’s dealings after he picks him up as a fair and has an unexpected run in with one of the bad guy’s targets (in the aerial form). The cabbie is then forced to drive Vincent around town, doing errand after errand for the man who will most likely kill him when the night is through.

The film, directed by Michael Mann, is highly stylized, which I believe is one of the things that drew me to it in the first place. I’m a sucker for unconventional camera angles and different ways of shooting movies, seeing Collateral filmed in what looks like handheld DV was icing on the cake for an enjoyable film. The film is a fun ride with dialog that would make Quentin Tarantino happy and a storyline breaking away from the usual summer norm of bigger and bigger explosions with less and less plot. In fact, Collateral is a film that makes you think, at times, but provides enough explanation for its plot points to be fleshed out while not giving too much away. The movie’s twist towards the end is fore-shadowed at the beginning of the film, but can still be a surprise, as it was to me.

While a lot has been said about Tom Cruise and the role he played in the film, I feel not enough credit has been given to Jamie Foxx in a straight dramatic role. If he isn’t nominated for Best Supporting Actor I will lose the little bit of faith I have left in the Oscar process. That faith was only resorted after Return of the King swept the awards earlier this year. Foxx provides the film’s comic foil, something every film should have, no matter how serious, but still pulls off the required role with grace. I’ve read other reviews online that said it, but now I believe it, this was a real career move for Foxx and I wish him the best of luck.

Mann doesn’t shy away from the brutality of Vincent’s work, which plays well for the film. Rather than sanitize the life of a hitman and showing most of the deaths off-screen, the director opted for the brutality not seen since The Punisher, earlier this year.

The only problem I have with the film is the Hollywood ending. I know it is almost impossible to avoid it, but I felt that things were wrapped up in too neat of a package. Without spoiling the closing moments of the film, let me just say you may be disappointed with how it turns out. This isn’t to state the movie, as a whole, isn’t fulfilling, which it is, it is just saying that in a film such as this, where unconventional seems to be the word of the day, I was disappointed.

Even with the rather cliché ending, Collateral is still a worthy film of your summer’s dwindling time. The truly breakout performance from Jamie Foxx and the first time Tom Cruise has portrayed a villain are more than enough to justify seeing the film, but the exciting story and unconventional film style are even more reasons to plop down the $6.50 for a ticket and enjoy the final weeks of summer.

M. Night Shyamalan has brought us some incredible movies in the past, movies that have peaked out interest in the unknown, movies that have given us hope that a hero exists in the most unlikely of places, and even that there are no coincidences in life. Now, in his fourth movie, Shyamalan shows us that peace can come at a great price, and sacrifices must be made to preserve this peace.

Set the Wayback Machine to the colonial 1890’s in Covington, Pennsylvania. A beautiful valley with  a peaceful people, living the simple life. Everyone knows everyone else, and everybody is peaceful and happy. However, a few rules exist. Nobody is to keep secrets, the color red is never to be seen, worn, or used, and “those we don’t speak about” should never be mentioned, unless warning of their intrusion. A truce has lasted as long as the town has; simply, the “people we don’t speak about” do not enter the valley and the town, and the townsfolk do not enter the forest. The creatures seem to be attracted to the color red, as they wear it when they are seen; therefore red is not to exist in town.

Love, however, seems to be abundant in this little township. For Lucius Hunt (Signs‘ Joaquin Phoenix), love seems to be sparse. As a simple blacksmith, he does not speak his mind as the others do, and is frowned upon for not doing so. However, there is one who appears to have love for this lone tradesman. Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard), the blind younger daughter of the lead town elder (Lost In Space’s William Hurt), has feelings for Lucius. Lucius finally returns Ivy’s love, and they are to be wed. However, Noah Percy (Adrien Brody) is a good friend of Ivy’s, and is a bit mentally deranged. Unknowing of what he does, he severely injures Lucius who now needs medical supplies from the towns beyond the forest, but no person has ever been permitted to enter the forest. It becomes the burden of Ivy, driven by love, to enter the forest and obtain the supplies necessary to keep her lover alive.

Shyamalan seems to have an excellent way of chilling us to the bone. In The Sixth Sense, he chilled us when we find that Bruce Willis was actually a ghost. In Unbreakable we find that Samuel L. Jackson’s character killed all those people just to find a real-life “superhero”, we all were astounded. Everyone had their eyes glued to the screen to catch the first glimpses of the aliens in Signs, and this movie is certainly no exception. The twists and turns in this film will keep you in disbelief for the entire running time.  The biggest plot twist at the end will leave you in utter shock, with an ending nobody saw coming. Just like in his other three hits, Shyamalan does give himself a small role in the movie. This time around, he plays a smaller part, with a very interesting camera trick used to finally show his face in the shot.

Overall, Shyamalan delivers another chilling hit with this tale about alliances and truces, and why you should never stand in the forest on the other side of the yellow flags with your back to the darkness.

When The Bourne Identity was released two years ago many where surprised by the success of the film mainly based on the fact that no one believed Matt Damon could be an action hero. Yet, Damon’s portrayal of Jason Bourne wasn’t one of one man looking to take down an opposing army with a barrage of bullets and super-human strength, it was an amnesiac looking for answers about his past and coming up with some troubling facts. I doubted Damon as much as the next critic, but after viewing the film, and seeing how well he fit into the character, I was instantly proved wrong. Not only did Damon’s acting build the critical acclaim of the film the smart script, excellent fight scenes, and oh-my-god-how-is-he-going-to-get-out-of-this moments paid for the ticket ten times over

Now, fast forward to present day where Jason Bourne is once again back in the spotlight of a CIA investigation and it is time for the second book in Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series to take flight on the big screen and come up big as one of the best films of a lackluster summer. The Bourne Supremacy finds Jason Bourne hiding “off-the-grid” in India and trying to make a life for himself and Marie (Franka Potente), but, when assassins once again set their sights on him, he targets the organization that he once worked for to get answers once and for all.

Truth be told, the film is filled with plot holes and inconsistencies, but where it lacks believability at some parts, it makes up for them in others. The movie, like its predecessor, is a smartly crafted spy tale about one fallen agent looking for a door way into his past while also looking into the future. Damon’s Bourne is a man who is troubled with his past actions, shown beautifully and emotionally near the end of the film, but his training makes him and wanted man and in order to survive his pursuers must face the consequences. The underlying story of the film is the assassination of a Russian diplomat nearly a decade before the events of the film, but new information turns up and a mission to retrieve this intelligence is cut short when two men are shot dead. All evidence points to Bourne, but in a movie filled with turncoat CIA agents, could there be a deeper conspiracy.

Like The Bourne Identity and The Sum of all Fears, Supremacy is an intriguing picture to watch. The lure of the intelligence agencies and the “in-the-shadows” atmosphere brings in moviegoers by the hundreds merely to get a glimpse into something we are never meant to see in real life. Maybe that is part of the appeal of the film. The fact that we know stuff like this must go on all the time, throughout the world, but the common man will never ever see it.

With that being said, you do have to suspend disbelief at times as situations always seem to work out a bit too perfectly for Bourne, but don’t they always for the good guy? British director Paul Greengrass’ penance for using a handheld shaky camera during most of the film’s fight scenes, similar to the foot-chase seen in Narc, and leaves the audience with a disoriented feeling as it is hard to grasp what exactly is going on. Luckily the sound effects are more than adequate to equate the situation for moviegoers. As I stated before, the good more than outweighs the bad, and after the audience is treated to another killer car chase sequence at the climax of the film, you will completely forget about its faults.

The supporting players have a very important role in the film as they add layers to an already deep narrative. Ward Abbott (Brian Cox), a senior member of the CIA, provides an intriguing antagonist to both Bourne and Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), who is vying for his desk and looking to make up for the botched operation. The folds to the story that each one adds tie into the original film and fleshes out the back-story to the series itself. Kirill (Karl Urban) is more or less a hired assassin sent to kill Bourne, and while the character is not as deep as the others, he also provides a worthy nemesis to the crafty Bourne.

After everything is said and done Universal managed to make up for the bomb that was Van Helsing and deliver a truly intelligent, yet fun, summer movie that will have James Bond and Matt Damon fans both clamoring for more from the series. With a generally modest budget and a bank-filling opening weekend, we can only hope the third film is already in the cards.

Will Smith seems to have the Owen Wilson syndrome when it comes to acting. No matter what part he plays, he’s always playing himself in the role. However, much like Owen Wilson, his character seems to work in most applications (except for Wild Wild West). However, it did work well in I, Robot, even though it was Will Smith playing Will Smith in another movie. Smith still managed to play a believable and somewhat humorous performance in one of the darker sci-fi movies in recent memory.

In I, Robot, Will Smith plays the role of detective Del Spooner, part of the Chicago police department in the not so distant 2035. Spooner has a serious problem with the growing robot population, and the introduction of the new series NS-5 robot has him completely techno-phobic. He is called to a crime scene by a holographic projection of the pioneer of robotics, Dr. Alfred Lanning. Dr. Lanning, who was a top scientist at US Robotics, seems to have committed suicide, and Detective Spooner finds an NS-5 robot as the prime suspect. However, he is alone in his quest as everyone else in the free world believes that robots are incapable of committing a crime as it violates the basic 3 law system that all robots are built to abide by. The robot suspect, Sonny, seems different, somehow, and not like the others. It is up to Spooner to get to the bottom of the situation without being labeled crazy.

The aspect of this movie that really shines is the effect department. The transition from real scenery to CG is nearly seamless, and the completely CG robots seem to interact with the actors with lifelike quality. The robots in this movie were purposely made with small abdomens and thinner limbs, to make them more realistic, but required that stand in actors not be used. Instead, they were able to green screen a pole with a tennis ball for a head, so the actors knew where to look and interact, and required less editing to fit. The parts where facial expressions of the robot Sonny were used, a true actor was employed, wearing a green leotard (voice and face acting done by Alan Tudyk). He was then edited out, except for the face, where motion capture was used to emulate the prosthetic face of Sonny. The technique seems more costly both in time and money, but provided quite a realistic and amazing robot onscreen.

The only thing that made me want to stay home from this movie was the pre-release buzz that this film was not originally based on the book of the same name, but was actually a completely different script called Hardwired. When Fox picked up the rights to Asimov’s stories, Hardwired was rewritten as I, Robot, and, apparently, only has a very loose affiliation to the actual book, but I can’t be the judge of that until I actually read the book.

A few substandard acting jobs and reused camera tricks were the movie’s only faults. A scene featuring a showdown between the people of Chicago and robots seemed to have the exact same camera pan set as a similar scene in Lord of the Rings, which took away from the uniqueness of the scene. At least it wasn’t a stolen technique, as WETA Digital, who did the effects for LoTR, had their hand in this movie as well. I’m somewhat surprised that Lucas and ILM had nothing to do with this movie.

Bridget Monynahan played a somewhat campy role as Susan Calvin, robotics expert and psychiatrist. Not quite a normal choice of majors in college, but who knows what those crazy kids will be learning in 2035. Her acting just didn’t click with me. She tried really hard to cry when she was supposed to be crying, and it showed. But she seemed to nail the bitchy attitude when that was necessary, maybe that’s what they were going for, bitchy-brainiac-who-tried-too-hard-to-cry. At least she had a PG-13 shower scene, but, so did Will Smith, if you are into that sort of thing.

All in all, the film wasn’t too bad. Definitely one of the top 5 films of the summer, but that’s not saying as much as I wish it was. As Tom put it, “I came to this movie expecting crap, but I got better than crap.” So we’ll leave it at, “better than crap.”

Trent Reznor was barely in his 20s when Pretty Hate Machine surfaced, a result of his previous new wave band’s failure. Instead of carrying on with new wave, he ditched it for a constantly progressing derivative called “industrial”. At the time, industrial was limited mostly to German innovators and sparse North American interest hubs (such as Vancouver). Despite his age, he managed to do something none of his predecessors could: bring industrial music to a wider audience. Taking most of his influence from glam alternative such as David Bowie, new wavers Kraftwerk and Gary Numan, and mixing it with industrial legends like Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails’ unique and overwhelming synthesizers compose the majority of their melodies.

Reznor did it all; songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, singer, and incredible arranger. At times, Pretty Hate Machine shows its amateur creator’s technical faults, sounding as if it were just Reznor and his synth keyboard in his basement. Other times, it shows signs of what Nine Inch Nails would become: full of aggressive and violent anthems of teenage angst. While it may not be nearly as polished and ambient as their later efforts, Pretty Hate Machine is still a treat to listen to, even at its most empty and flawed. That may even be part of its charm.

Head Like a Hole” is, to this day, one of Nine Inch Nails’ biggest hits, and for good reason. It begins with the very Skinny Puppy-esque opening measures and turns into what will become a series of eerie and rich synth riffs, each one completely different and effective as the next. “Head Like a Hole” focuses on religion and money as society’s focal points–already touchy subjects–but is only a precursor to their following messages of anarchy, depression, and loss. “Terrible Lie,” about being left alone, has simply the best synth work on the whole album, emphasized by the quiet lyrics and a frank chorus repeating the title. The bridge after verses is particularly chilling, when Reznor cries: “Don’t tear away from me, I want you to hold onto.” This sense of reality has become his trademark; he does a wonderful job of bringing his listeners into his edgy moods.

Nine Inch Nails’ first and only rap is displayed on “Down In It,” a commercial single released first because of its accessible sound (at the time). Very reminiscent of Falco, its mixing (complete with the inclusion of various sound effects) is actually done quite well. However, the lyrics are redundant and is reduced to a catchy single when it ends with the children’s rhyme lyrics: “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” “Sanctified” features Danny Lohner turning out one of the best Nine Inch Nails bass lines ever, with great percussion as well. The vocals are well done, and the guitar (done here by Richard Patrick, pre-Filter) blends nicely, even during a time when Nine Inch Nails rarely emphasized guitar-work. Reznor then slows down the pace of the album with the beautifully serene “Something I Can Never Have,” his shot at a straight ballad. The piano’s lulling rhythm suits the mood perfectly as Reznor grieves longingly of an impossible relationship. This is an excellent, extended lullaby (clocking in at nearly 6 minutes).

The latter half of Pretty Hate Machine revisits the more industrial sounds of “Head Like a Hole.” “Kinda I Want To” is a fast-pumping experimental that runs the gamut using numerous synth tracks. The next song, “Sin,” is well-known by Nine Inch Nails fans because it was released as its own single (or “Halo” as NIN releases are referred to), and remixed quite a few times. It is a superb industrial tune with a chant-along chorus of sorts. “Sin” sounds edgier, and closer to the ideal industrial standard thanks to the less-complimentary chord structure. “That’s What I Get” is another self-deprecating swoon song with minimal instrumental backup, but a particularly strong vocal performance by Reznor. “The Only Time” is quite possibly its antithesis. The groove and funk ode to sex dries the tears and makes you want to work it. While it can be a bit jarring at first, and–admit it, humorous as well–it still gets the job done. Reznor shows a remarkable power to completely lighten the mood and write a flamboyant masterpiece of psychedelic funk with a hint of new wave. The ambient “Ringfinger” closes out the album with style. Containing deep verses of devotion, Reznor walks the line of controversy and thoughtfulness, making reference to Christ to his own shortcomings. With a defiant tone, he sings, “if I was twice the man I could be, I’d still be half of what you need“. As per usual, the synth interlude is fantastic and Reznor’s stirring lyrics make “Ringfinger” a fitting ending.

Pretty Hate Machine is a perfect blend of early industrial synths and style (right down to the stage attire), with Reznor’s sharp approach at accessible writing. Musically, it is fresh and features inspired melodies as well as notable experimental work, such as “Kinda I Want To” and “Sin.” European (mostly German) and Canadian influences are prominent, but it is the pop appeal of the new wave boom that fuels the album’s success. In my opinion, it still stands as Nine Inch Nails best work. Before the heavy angst of Broken, and the conceptualization of their following albums, there was just the songwriting, a synth, and a voice full of pain. Pretty Hate Machine may be less attractive given the complex music industry of today, but in this case, less is more.

Regardless of when this review is posted it won’t matter too much, you will already have seen the best movie of the summer. No denying it, no refuting it, Spider-Man 2 is the best movie of the season. We can already look forward to being disappointed come Oscar time when the film won’t even be nominated for Best Picture, best Actor, or, most importantly, Best Director. However, we can stand around the water cooler, join up on message boards, and verbally speak out how seeing the next chapter in the Spidey saga brought hope to an otherwise abysmal summer season. Take my hand, its okay.

I had trouble finding the words after seeing Spider-Man 2. Really, how do you explain emotions you haven’t felt in such a long time towards a movie? When a movie brings everything, every genre together into a tight, clean, awesome package, how do you really explain to someone that they should drop what they are doing, get a ticket, and see such an amazing picture?

Spider-Man 2 picks up nearly two years after the first film’s end. The Green Goblin/Norman Osborne (Willem Dafoe) has been killed by Spider-Man, Harry Osborne (James Franco) despises the hero, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) has finally made it as an actress, and Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) must now find a way to balance his life as an average, ordinary persona with that of Spider-Man. With the Green Goblin dead, a new villain must step up to the plate and provide a worthy antagonist. This new villain goes by the name Otto Octavius (aka Doc Ock) and is wonderfully acted and presented by Alfred Molina.

Spider-Man is one of those superhero movies where you aren’t cringing at the bad dialog or the horrible acting. Watching Halle Berry as Storm in X2 was one of the most excruciatingly painful things I’ve ever had to do, but every single member of the cast is strongly represented and wonderfully portrayed. Harry Osborne is the brooding, word-obsessed follower of his father, Peter Parker is the sometimes-reluctant hero who struggles to keep his non-Spidey life together after the woes of the city begins to weight down on him, and Doc Ock is the scientist under the duress control of his mechanical arms. Each of these parts is believably acted and each actor knows what they are doing. Even the supporting cast brings everything they have to the table with a notable standout being J.K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson who nearly doubles his screen time and ups the ante on the laughs.

It’s nice to see a film that has something for everyone. The humor is well placed and well scripted, but just as fast as a joke is delivered the film can switch gears into a serious tone with no problem, and nothing lost on the audience. The action sequences, especially the fights between Spidey and Doc Ock, are amazing. The computer effects, drastically improved from the first film, really portray the look and feel of a comic book with highly stylized camera angles and sets. Never before in a comic book movie have the pages of the graphic novel come to life as accurately as in Spider-Man.

For fans of Spider-Man the script includes many shout-outs to the series and opens the door to sequels to come. In order to keep this review spoiler free I won’t dive into them, but familiar names do make an appearance, and if you are a die hard fan of the comic, you will fine plenty to sink your teeth into. Not to be outdone, fans of director Sam Raimi will find a whole sequence harking back to the days of Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness complete with fast zoom shots onto a chainsaw, a camera moving across the ground just as in Evil Dead and even an appearance by the “King” himself, Bruce Campbell. Like I said before, the pleasure that this film brings to any moviegoer will certainly rival anything else produced this year.

If it seems I strayed away from talking about the actual film in this review, you are correct. Like I said in the opening paragraph, nothing I say here will change your mind about seeing the film, and I wouldn’t want it to. Spider-Man 2 is every bit as good as you have heard, and I honestly can’t find anything I didn’t like about it. Comic book fan or not, Sam Raimi fan or not, Spider-Man fan or not, everyone needs to see this film and have the best time at the movies this year. I don’t think there will be many who disagree with me on this one, see it, no matter what.

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