Score Review: Transformers Age of Extinction

It's true that since I first heard about the fourth film in the Transformers series, I've not been interested in the film in the slightest. I've watched one trailer, but I haven't followed the progress in any other way.

And yet, over the past few weeks, I've begun to feel this overwhelming urge to go see it.

My favourite aspect of the series so far has - quite predictably to anyone who is a regular reader - been the soundtrack. Steve Jablonsky's score, teamed with the roaring soundtrack with Linkin Park at the helm, have been dramatically brilliant. So, it was a little disappointing to discover that Linkin Park had not provided the film with it's title track.

Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Imagine Dragons and I love their music, I do really like "Battle Cry" as well, but I don't know, it's just not Linkin Park, and it's definitely not "What I've Done". There is something lacking from the track, and I think that - for me, at least - it's because the sound of the track just doesn't suit the style that I know from Imagine Dragons. It feels like they're trying to replicate what Linkin Park have done with their previous three songs, but not really lived up to the expectations.

Steve Jablonsky has kept the score for Age of Extinction very much in the same vein as the previous three films: it's big, it's boomy and it drives headlong with a great sense of drama that replicates what Michael Bay is best known for (they don't call him Big Bang Bay for no reason, afterall!).

The addition of vocals from "Battle Cry" into several of the song feels a little strained at times. The song features most prominently - to me - in the theme "Tessa". It seems quite cliche that the song should feature in the main girls theme, y'know since Imagine Dragons are probably a band that are most popular amongst girls.

It was good to hear the familiar tones of our favourite "Arrival to Earth" from the first Transformers with the track "Autobots Reunite", even if it didn't quite have the same flare as the first film. Nevertheless, it is still an awesome track.

"Lockdown" starts with quite an eerie vibe, and builds up into yet another epic track, before changing direction at just over three minutes, when it gets even creepier. It's actually quite an intimidating piece of music.

Overall, the score - from what I have heard so far - is exactly what I would expect from both Jablonsky and the Transformers film. I do miss the addition of Linkin Park providing the lead song, however.

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Vintage Film: Little Miss Sunshine

Back in the summer of 2006, this delightfully quirky film from writer Michael Arndt (Catching Fire) was a huge indie success, winning two Oscars, two BAFTAs and a multitude of other awards.

Eight years later, I finally get around to watching it - yeah, I'm always the one to know!

For anyone else who managed to miss this film, Little Miss Sunshine is the story of a dysfunctional family, made up of dirty magazine-loving Grandpa (Alan Arkin) who got himself kicked out of his Care Home; obsessively positive-thinking Dad Richard (Greg Kinnear); trying to keep everyone Mum Sheryl (Toni Colette), number one in the field of Proust Uncle Frank (Steve Carell), the depressed, silent son Dwayne (Paul Dano) and the innocently sweet daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin), who is going to win the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant....if the family can get there on time!

I'm not going to lie, if you throw a quirky family into a road trip film, then the chances are that I am going to love it. But what I really love about this type of family film, is that they relay the idea that no family is perfect, that we're all dysfunctional and it helps to make our own families feel more "normal". Dysfunctional is definitely quite endearing.

The fact that all of the little girls who feature in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant (other than Breslin) are actual, genuine contestants is a little bit disturbing, especially considering how repulsed they were at Breslin's "sexy" routine - seriously, compared to the real contestants, Olive's routine seemed fairly fame...at least she wasn't pushing out her chest, pouting and wearing more make up than most women own!

Little Miss Sunshine is a sweet and quirky film, with plenty of heart some partly unlikable characters (which kind of made me like them more).



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Top Six: Most Interesting TV Guest Appearances

Famous people. They like to crop up everywhere don't they? If they're not promoting their next project in magazine and TV interviews, they're advertising perfumes, shaving products etc. But over the years, there's been a rise in the number of star guest starring in TV shows, so it's something that most of us have become accustomed to seeing. However, sometimes these stars crop up in the most bizarre and intriguing places. Here, we celebrate six (okay, seven) of them:

Six. Norman Mailer as "Himself"

Popular mother-daughter drama "The Gilmore Girls" was never that well-known for it's guest appearances - sure, many of it's main cast were already famous and/or have gone into do some pretty big things, however, the guest stars weren't really a big deal. So, when Norman Mailer become the thorn in Sookie (Melissa McCarthy)'s side, in the episode "Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant", as a guest at the Dragonfly Inn who wouldn't order any food only iced tea, it seemed a little weird, that's for sure.

Even to this day, I'm still completely flummoxed as to why the famous writer appear in the show, and the whole storyline that he featured in, was a little bit strange too, but there you go!

Five. Brad Pitt as "Will Colbert"

Back in 2001, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were one of Hollywood's most loved couples, and Aniston's TV series "Friends" was at the height of its fame and popularity. So, it wasn't completely crazy that Pitt would agree to take a guest spot in his other half's show.

What was a little "whoa", however, was the character that Pitt played; Will Colbert turned up as the hot school friend of Ross (David Schwimmer) and Monica (Courtney Cos) who had once been fat. Despite also going to school with him, Rachel cannot remember him, which is probably a good thing, as Will was the co-founder (alongside Ross and a foreign exchange student) of the "I Hate Rachel" club.

The character was critically panned, however I loved how out-of-character Pitt was in the role, and I actually thought that the idea of him hating the character played by his then wife, was hilarious (I was 17, at the time okay!?). Allegedly, Pitt only took the role to promote "Spy Games", but I don't care - I still love him as Will!

Four. Katy Perry as "Honey"

Katy Perry was - it's fair to say - absolutely delightful as the cousin of Ted's arch-nemesis and eventual girlfriend Zoe, whose name Ted couldn't remember, but nicknamed "Honey" due to her naive nature. Perry played the ditzy character so well, that you couldn't help but fall in love with her, even if her actions did leave you wanting to say "Oh...honey!"

Honey is most definitely one of my all-time favourite guest characters on "How I Met Your Mother", because she was just so endearing.


Three. Madonna as "Liz"

Other than her role as Evita Peron (which doesn't really count, because it was more singing than actual acting!), Madonna isn't really renowned for her acting ability, in fact, she's better known for being a little bit rubbish when it comes to acting.

Yet, when she guest-starred in the "Will and Grace" episode Dolls and Dolls, as Karen (Megan Mulally)'s roommate Liz, Madonna proved more than a match for the feisty character, and proved critics that she could act - sort of. Okay, so her acting wasn't absolutely amazing, but there is no denying that the connection between Madonna and Mulally was genius and led for a lot of laughs as the roommates inevitably clashed and fell out.

It is alleged by various magazines, that Will and Grace proved to be Madonna's favourite acting role, which is good to know, because it's the only one she has - so far - excelled at!

Two. Britney Spears as "Abby"

Pop starlet Britney Spears is another songstress who has never really been known for her great acting abilities, and yet when she appeared as "Abby", the receptionist of Stella in several episodes of "How I Met Your Mother", for me, she absolutely proved that she is capable of proving us wrong.

Abby was completely cuckoo, but Spears managed to make her actually quite lovable and you felt sorry for her, even if she wasn't really the brightest of people (Ted and Barney seem to attract that kind of woman, don't they?).

One. Sir Ian McKellen as "Mel Hutchwright"


The legend that is Ian McKellen appearing in Coronation Street has got to be the most "WTF" guest appearance in the history of television. It's not very often that Hollywood-level actors appear in soaps after they have become famous, as soaps are traditionally an intitial stepping stone.

But, the thing that made Ian McKellen such a unique guest role was that it wasn't just a small bitty part, like a member of royalty visiting a local pub, or an opera singer visiting a village fair, McKellen had an actual storyline, and to be fair, it was a pretty good one.

McKellen appeared in the soap in 2005, as "author" Mel Hutchwright/Lionel Hipkiss, who conned several members of the older residents, and irritated Ken Barlow (which probably isn't that difficult).

Who have been your favourite TV guest appearances?

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Score Review: The Great Gatsby


When I think of Baz Luhrmann films, there are generally two things that spring to mind: 

1. Stunning visuals that are bright, often garish but dazzle all the same;
2. A sweeping rollercoaster score from composer Craig Armstrong.

And the score for The Great Gatsby really does not disappoint, dipping between solemn, thoughtful pieces such as "Overture and Sanitarium", to the carefree nonchalance of "Buchanan Mansion and Daisy Suite", to the beautifully emotional "Hotel Sayre", featuring Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful", which acts as the perfect centre piece for this film.

Armstrong's score captures the raw emotion of the story, which is - ultimately - a sad, love story and whilst I'm often a little sceptical of composers incorporating tracks by other artists into their scores, I think it works incredibly well with both the works of Lana Del Rey and band The xx.

It's just a shame that the film soundtrack doesn't - in my opinion - quite fit with the film, as beautifully as the score does. I get what Baz Luhrmann and Jay-Z were trying to achieve, and I know that Luhrmann is notorious for using modern music in period settings, however, it didn't feel right in the same way as it did for Moulin Rouge.

Overall


I am totally besotted with the gorgeous and delectable score from Craig Armstrong. However, the modern soundtrack is completely wrong and ill-advised for this 1920's-set classic. I think I would have preferred modern artists taking more of a role in updating older pieces of music, rather than trying to force covers of modern classics to fit.

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Album Review: Linkin Park - The Hunting Party

It's true that I don't review music very often, and I've never reviewed a none soundtrack album on Entertained. There are a few reasons why I generally choose not to, with the main one being that I never feel that I know enough about music and instruments to give a good enough opinion, but I felt that I wanted to share - not really a review, but more my thoughts on the latest album from Linkin Park.

Linkin Park and Me


I first heard of Linkin Park when I was in College, and my friends older brother was a fan. At the time, I have to admit that I found their sound "scary" and could probably be quoted as saying something along the lines of "I could never listen to that kind of music!".

Then I reached my angsty Uni years, and discovered them a bit better through videos that fans had created using some of the bands tracks from Hybrid Theory and added them to FMV videos from various Final Fantasy games, which I was - of course - a huge fan of at the time.



For the rest of my Uni years, I will admit that Linkin Park were my go-to band when I was pissed off and needed to vent. However, over the years, they have become the band that I always go to - not when I'm angry or pissed off - but when I need a pick-me-up.

They are, literally, the only band that I can go back to and always want to listen to, because generally I tend to get bored by albums, especially if I have listened to them a lot. But, with Linkin Park, I never seem to get bored of them, I feel like I can always go back to them.

I've had the fortune to see them live twice (first in Sheffield, in January 2008 and then again in the summer of 2008 when they put on their Projekt Revolution, alongside Jay-Z at Milton Keynes Bowl), and I really wish that they would tour the UK more often!!

The Hunting Party


The Hunting Party feels like such an unexpectedly refreshing change from what I've been listening to for the past five or so years.

Mike Shinoda is quoted as saying [of this album]:
"We wanted to make an album with the visceral and chaotic spirit that we feel is missing in rock music right now." 
And it's true, the industry has been missing this kind of rock music. It is so nice to hear actual instruments; the strum of a guitar and the roll of drums, that aren't masked behind synthesisers. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with synth, but my gosh, hearing those instruments was just amazing, because I hadn't even noticed how missing being able to hear raw instruments, have been - not only from Linkin Park music, but
for the industry as a whole, especially commercially - I haven't even noticed how devoid the industry has been of really good rock music. And I don't mean the candy-pop / yacht-rock music that is performed by little boys who don't have a clue, as they've walked straight out of Music School into a Music Contract, and think that the world owes them a favour, as they "sing" about things that don't matter.

I do think that there are way too many artists and bands around at the minute, who have been trained to create the ideal music industry fodder, and there are not enough raw talents who can pick up a guitar and write their own music and lyrics without the help of a so-called "expert" - sure, collaborate, but too many covers are over-saturating the industry.

I'm not saying that I necessarily think that everyone should think of Linkin Park as the band that every artist should aspire to be like. What I'm trying to say is that they have made me take a look at what I listen to, and what the industry has been offering us over the past few years. As a result, I really think that there needs to be a change in the way the music industry signs new artists, and I think less focus needs to be put on Music Schools and Reality Shows.



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Book Review: The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

Everyone knows the name "Carrie Bradshaw" - the iconic New Yorker with a passion for fashion, shoes and big curly blonde hair. Notoriously played by Sarah Jessica Parker during my late teenage years, I have to confess that whilst I watched the popular TV series on Channel 4 in the early 2000's, I was never a big fan.

Nevertheless, since I heard at The Carrie Diaries TV series, there has been a bit of intrigue which inevitably drew me towards the books, since it seems unlikely that I will ever get to watch the show. And so, I picked up the book on my Kindle and I have to say that I loved it.

Carrie is without doubt an interesting character, especially as a writer. In fact, despite obvious differences (she's blonde, pretty and good with fashion - of which I am none!), I found it easy to relate to a young Carrie Bradshaw. Okay, so quite often I really wanted to slap her for being so stupid - especially when it came to the ridiculously irritating Sebastian Kydd - but then, it's easy to slip back into that mentality of being that age, when you'd do anything to hold onto that belief that someone loved you, even when they so obviously don't.

The supporting cast was nicely realistic - although some were a little cliche (of course Walt was going to be gay, of course Sebastian was going to be a two-timing jerk and of course we have the smart girl best friend who gets the perfect boyfriend and is unquestionably Asian!) - and I liked that despite her future in Sex and the City, Carrie's Senior Year at High School was not all about sex and losing her virginity, because it was more the inner workings of her head that led us through this book, as she analysed events and evidently used them to mature as a writer.

I know that a few people have not been huge fans of this book, because they missed Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, but whilst I'm looking forward to hopefully meeting those well-known characters in the next book, I actually thought it was quite nice to see what kind of people she was friends with in High School - I just find it sad that we'll probably never really find out what happened to them after Graduation.

Personally, I think that my love for this book was probably a little down to the fact that I'm not an enormous fan of the TV series, so I don't feel particularly attached to the characters who aren't in this one. But, as my first book from Candace Bushnell, she has certainly impressed me as a writer. During the book, Carrie's friend from Brown; George, tells her to write about what she knows, and you can tell that Bushnell is doing just that. It's so easy to imagine that she was a lot like Carrie when she was younger - and even if she wasn't exactly like that, Bushnell has done an incredible job at convincing me that it was - that's a hard task for any writer to achieve.


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Quick Review: The Book Thief

Starring Sophie Nelisse and Geoffrey Rush, The Book Thief was a film that I had major doubts about seeing. The problem is - as you might guess - that I have read the novel, and subsequently it has become one of my favourite books of recent years. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, films that have been adapted from books are rarely as good as the books they are based on, although The Hunger Games is a rare exception!

For me, the film lacked a little of the depth that the book has, and Death as Narrator didn't work in quite the same way, which was the biggest letdown.

That being said, I really enjoyed The Book Thief. I found Sophie Nelisse's portrayal of Liesel to be just as endearing as I could have hoped (my gosh, with those big eyes, how could anyone not find her endearing!?). The way that the make up and hair artists managed to age her was just incredible, because it really was as if Nelisse had aged along with her character, even though we know that it wasn't filmed over that long a period.

I've seen people accusing the film of being too "fluffy" and "cliche", but let's face it - this is Hollywood, it is always going to be that way, whether we like it or not. But, isn't Hollywood one big cliche anyway? In other words - who cares? Films are meant to entertain, and fluffy entertains. It's also important to remember that the film is based on a children's book, so it was never going to get overly political (although, I have to say that the book did "feel" a lot more political than the film did, but that's something else!).

All-in-all, the film wasn't perfect. Yes, it was fluffy and yes, I do think that it could have been more. But on the other hand, I enjoyed it and it did pass "The Coke Test".

Rating: 7 out of 10.


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