Monday, April 28, 2014

TV Review: SALEM

With the popularity of current paranormal primetime TV dramas on the rise like the CW's ongoing series Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, the unlikely channel WGN America begins airing new original programming beginning with SALEM. Salem is in fact a Supernatural hour-long TV drama focusing on witches and witchcraft and drawing its inspiration from the historical events occurring in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. However, the show is not without it's own dramatic license in perpetrating the widely-held belief that there were in fact witches in Salem and as it does so through the very graphic depiction of witch-like activities, not to mention it's overuse of nudity, sexuality and violence on level with Game of Thrones to increase their ratings. The show stars Shane West as John Alden Jr., having returned to Salem long after being thought killed during the French and Indian Wars having learned that Salem is suffering a witch hysteria led by the Reverend Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel) and his once beloved Mary (Janet Montgomery) is now married to the wealthy landowner George Sibley (Michael Mulheren). With her servant/confidant Tituba (Ashley Madekwe) they have concealed the fact from John that she was pregnant and in a bizarre ritual aided by Tituba, "got rid of" the baby. As conspiracy, panic and fear spread through the town John tries to find out the dark truth behind these witch hunts! While the shows' premise holds some fascination within the genre of horror/supernatural/witchcraft, the flagrant historical inaccuracies of the characters and events only further add to the false history and myth of one of early America's darkest and most mysterious periods in history and is a mockery to those 20 real people who died because of it. I have always held a great fascination with Salem and the Witch Trials and have even visited the site myself and while the story still resonates within popular culture from the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller which is also a fictionalization of those events holds more truths than this new TV show from the writers of Terra Nova and the director of Girls.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Music Review - Black Label Society: Catacombs of the Black Vatican

Black Label Society: Catacombs of the Black Vatican is the 10th album from Zakk Wylde's heavy, yet more bluesy hard-rock band. Since their recent lineup changes and return to their blues-rock roots with last years' acoustic experiment Unblackened Live, BLS have a slightly different sound than their earlier work. BLS has always been Wylde's baby, constantly changing and evolving, it's sound reflects both the virtuosity and unique talent of Wylde and his ever growing following. With the first track "Fields of Unforgiveness" the album has a slow but steady start with a heavy blues-vibe featuring Wylde's signature soloing style. "My Dying Time", the first single (and video) from this album, hearkens back to "The Blessed Hellride" (2003) era with a song very similar in style to his hit "Stillborn". Some of the slower, more melodic songs include "Angel of Mercy", "Scars" and "Shades of Gray" featuring Wylde's acoustic guitar talent, which (especially "Shades of Gray") can even bring you to tears. To compliment the slower songs, some of the heavier songs include "Heart of Darkness", "Beyond the Down" and "Damn the Flood". One of the most impressive and interesting songs structurally is "Empty Promises", which include strange moaning feedback sounds. Deluxe versions of the album include two bonus tracks: "Dark Side of the Sun" and The Nomad". The artwork for this album features striking images from The Sedlec Ossuary, (a.k.a. The Bone Church) a church in the Czech Republic that is decorated with thousands of bones and skeletons.

: Black Label, Zakk

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

With Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe already underway, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the next chapter in the story of "The Star-Spangled Man". In this politically-charged comic book/superhero movie from the studio that brought The Avengers (2012) together in THE Ultimate comic book movie team-up, Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) must fight for his country like never before as he questions his purpose and the meaning of freedom. Meanwhile, Cap continues to deal with being a man out of time in an ever-changing world. Now working directly with S.H.I.E.L.D. under Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Cap is sent on assignment with Agent Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), to rescue hostages taken by foreign pirates at sea. What begins as a simple hostage situation, literally "blows up" into a world-wide crisis with S.H.I.E.L.D. as the target of the mysterious "Winter Soldier" and Captain America is branded a fugitive. Cap and Black Widow now must fight this new threat and avoid capture, along with a new sidekick Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon (Anthony Mackie). A surprising added character in this film is Senator Alexander Pierce played by Hollywood veteran Robert Redford, who adds an interesting yet dull addition to the story and a weird twist to the plot. This sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) is a fast-paced and much more violent movie with an added darker tone combined with the military/political intrigue of a Tom Clancy story along with James Bond-like action. It's a much more exciting and intense film than the first movie, which was plagued by a slow-moving plot and slightly over-the-top comic book-style storytelling from director Joe Johnston. As a fan of both Marvel Comics and Marvel movies I always feel there have been some hits and misses since Marvel started this cinematic franchise with Iron Man (2008), while almost all of them have been huge box-office success it often leaves fans wanting particularly within the sequels (i.e. Iron Man 2 (2010). The Winter Soldier however, does not disappoint, with a much needed realism and tension within the story and also growing chemistry between the characters, namely Cap and Widow. This movie also brings audiences just one-step closer to Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, as we are treated to an end-credits stinger (No Spoilers!) which reveals two new major characters! The Winter Soldier is a great experience, not only as a Marvel movie, but also as a stand-alone action movie itself and a must see for fans and action-lovers alike!
"...It's more about his [Captain America] discourse with the way society is and current political climate...given the technological advancements we have today, it brings up the question of how far are we willing to sacrifice our civil liberties and our privacy in the name of security."
- Chris Evans from a D23 interview


Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'm Sorry...'s been a crazy year so far and I wanted to say to all my followers and readers: "I'M SORRY!" I have not been keeping up with my blog and I wanted to apologize and announce that from now on I will be blogging again on a regular basis. Hopefully by this weekend I will have a Movie Review up for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So, until then, again...I'm sorry, stay tuned...Thanks!