I've been waiting for Serenity for a long time. I don't know if I would call myself a "Whedonite" reffering of course to Joss Whedon, the man responsible for Serenity as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His work on the tv show Firefly, which inspired the movie, hooked me instantly. Creating a world I'd describe as Star Wars meets Unforgiven. Due to many problems with the shows run it was cancelled after a mear fourteen episodes. Far to short for many fans. I was among the droves to lick their chops at the sight of this movie.
So how does it stack up?
Plot (some spoilers, so read at your own risk):
Serenity follows the exploits of the space ship with the same name. Picking up some time after Firefly we find the crew robbing a settlement with the help of their powerful psychic crew member River. Turns out River, being a psychic killing machine designed by the government, is pretty popular among the Alliance. Who act as our empire for this series. The Alliance wants River back..bad. So bad in fact that they send a British Blade look a like, or highly trained assasin whichever way you like to look at it, to get her back by any means necessary. This means cornering Captain Malcom Reynolds, our main character/bad ass, and then systematically destroying every settlement and person that ever helped him and his crew. Mal doesn't really take kindly to this and sets off to figure out what the hell to do about this problem. While also trying to keep River in check. Who has begun muttering things about a mysterious thing called "Miranda".
Turns out Rivers psychic powers enabled her to read the minds of some very important government officials. Who don't really like the thought of their secrects being subjected to public viewing. This leads the Serenity crew on a ride that involves some bank robbery, government conspiricy, and space cannibals. Yes, for those of you who watch the show, the reavers play a much bigger part this go around. You figure out the back story of the Reavers, as well as a little resolution as to who could win in a fight, River or an assload of Reavers?
Everyone from the show reprises their roles in the movie, although some feel more like cameo's. I like that Whedon at least gave everyone a little screen time. Although it seemed that he favored River and Mal in terms of story telling. Mal as a character seems a little colder than he does in the show, given the subject matter of the movie I can't say I can argue him being written like that. Kaylee (that ships mechanic) is extra perky given her short amount of screen time, and Simon (brother of River) kinda comes off as the bitchy whiner of the group. But as a whole they ship gives off the same vibe as the show. Which is always a good thing when translating something like this to film. What makes this movie, and the show, so good is the way the characters interact with eachother. Whedon does an excellent job of writing dialouge that is both smart and easy to get into. He seems to sit down and write the different parts based off the actors themselves, and as a result they all fit like gloves. I could complain that there isn't enough of the crew intereacting in the way they do on the show. But we're only dealing with two hours as opposed for fourteen, so I can forgive that.
This is one of my complaints of this movie. On the show Serenity always seemed like a home, with lots of browns and reds involved to make it seem warm. Here right away all you can notice about the ship is how cold it seems. The cargo area esspecially seems like something you wouldn't want to spend any time in, yet on the show the crew constanly play games there. A minor complaint I know, but it something that struck me as off. The rest of the sets look good enough for what they do. There's some episode I knock offs, particualarly on the planet where Mal meets the bounty hunter for the first time. But the space battle at the end of the movie looks good, and the CG is used well and adds to the story instead of taking away from it. No digital backrounds here (hear that Lucas!). Whedon used the same camera style for Serenity that was used in the show. So the documentary style is here, complete with twitchy camera and handheld shots. My only complaint with the camera work is in one shot were the camera circles the actors for about thirty seconds. It moves to fast and really gives that dizzy feeling I hate in theaters. Maybe it was because of the screen size, but that could have been left out.
Wrap Up (SPOILERS!):
Yeah, some of the crew dies in this movie. Saddest of all for me was Wash, the pilot, his death is so quick at the hand of a Reaver spear and it's so far in the third act of the film that there isn't any emotions for him. Instead they play it as "time to move" and the following scenes seem like they were shot on a different day. Esspecially with his wife, who is also resident ass kicking first mate on the ship, she doesn't seem to emote at all. I didn't even see a tear, which would have been acceptable even if you were about to fight off Reavers. The other cast member who dies at least gets a death speach, and some emotion from Mal is exibited. So at least I got closure there, with Wash it was like "boom, move on". Which is what I think Whedon was going for, so good job if that was the case.
People might dismiss Serenity as a Star Wars knock off. Focusing on the special effects instead of the characters. I'd watch Serenity instead of any of the first trilogy of Star Wars, and probably Jedi too, it's not just for fans of the tv show. A couple people I went with had never seen the show and still enjoyed it, but die hard fans will be giddy. Just like me.
Give it a shot, and then watch the tv show, then see the movie again. It needs to make money so they'll make more.
I give it an A.
Holy Fresh Start Batman!Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins is a fantastic start for the comic fan and movie fan alike. It's got everything a movie like this needs. Action, character, and a story that not only sets the ground work for future movies, but holds well on it's own too.
Unlike previous Batman movies Bruce Wayne is not simply a playboy looking to fight crime. The movie opens with him in a foreign prison being held because he was trying to figure out the criminal mind. This involves traveling around stealing, and infiltrating various crimial organizations. You find out that he is doing this because his parents were murdered (although unlike the first Batman they were not murdered by the Joker in some cheap revenge tie in) by a mugger waiting in the wings after an opera. From there the movie introduces Ducard, a man who takes Wayne under his wing and trains him to disappear, to fight, and to become more than a man. He is under the employment of Ras Al Gul, the leader of the League of Shadows, a group dedicated to fighting injustice by any means necessary. Ultimately finding out that their means of justice are a little bit to extreme Wayne leaves the League and heads back to Gotham city, determined to make a difference and bring Gotham back to the good people.
And that's just the first half.
We haven't even gotten to Batman at this point. Or the Scarecrow, a villain that is really underused in this movie. His fear toxin is something that could have been used much more, which was a same cause it added a much darker element to the movie, something that was a welcome change to the Batman franchise. The last half is Batmans birth, building a relationship with Sgt. Gordon (played very well by Gary Oldman), and providing Gotham city with a symbol to get behind. I would tell you the plot points of this part of the movie, but it's a lot better if you see it for yourself.
The majority of the movie is acted very well. Christian Bale does a good job in the cowl, and also succeeds as Bruce Wayne. Something that actually is more important in this film. It's also worth noting that Michael Caine does a fantastic job as Alfred. I really hope they get both these guys back if they are planning to do a sequel. They work very well together. All the supporting cast fills out their roles nicely. With the exception of Katy Holms. She might function as the "damsel in distress" but when she's going for the strong female role it becomes conflicted, and ultimately fails. While it doesn't look like that is going to be a problem since she probably isn't coming back story wise, that's probably a good thing.
Gotham is displayed excellently here. This is the first time we get to see the city as the sprawling metropolis that it is. Not only that but all the locations that Wayne trains in are elaborate and yet don't get to overblown. Gotta give it to Christopher Nolan for doing a good job in this area too.
I have to say my favorite things about this movie were
1) This movie sticks ridiculously close to the comic book. Everything in this movie was taken from some comic and unlike the first movie tells the story without sacrificing the Bruce Wayne aspect of the Batman character. While the villains weren't the best (I'm not a Ras Al Gul fan) the set up for the next one was fantastic and I've already got my hopes up.
2) Everything that Batman uses serves a purpose, and you find out why everything is there. Why did he pick Batman? How did he get his gear? Where did the Batmobile come from? You know everything. I can't stress enough how cool it is to see all that stuff explained on screen. And yes while the Batmobile is a tank it still serves it's purpose and doesn't sacrifice it for style. Something the other movies have missed the mark on. Batman isn't about style, Batman is about getting the job done and not carrying how he looks doing it. Unless you're talking about the costume, then disregard my previous comment.
Batman Begins is the best Batman movie ever, it does everything right for the most part (there are some quick cutting fight scenes that might be elaborated in the next one) and I really hope they continue the trend with more films. Good job to everyone involved, a great summer movie. See it. I give it a A.
Revenge of the Sith
Well, The day that Star Wars fans have been waiting for has finally arrived. May 19th, 2005 is the day that sparked the release of the final Star Wars movie. Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith swept across theaters nationwide and opened at midnight around the country. The lines were long but for Star Wars fans, the wait was well worth it.
Many fans have felt let down by the prequel trilogy. Lucas had done some things to Star Wars that made even yours truly cringe at the very sight and sound. The first two installments were not the greatest, but still held up on their own. The comic relief from Episodes I and II was, how would you say, horrible. Episode I had Jar Jar Binks, who in my opinion, is the worst character ever thought up in movie history. My word, how did Lucas possibly think up Jar Jar Binks, seriously. I guess it is sweet irony for the Star Wars Universe that Jar Jar was the one who gave the Chancellor emergency executive powers that ultimately was the downfall of the Republic. Secondly, in Episode II, Jar Jar was left out for most of the movie, however, Lucas decided to replace Jar Jar's stupidity with C-3PO. I had so much trouble sitting and listening to Threepio's stupid puns and one liners in Episode II. The comic relief had always been R2-D2, and that is the way it should have stayed. In Episode III, Artoo was the comic relief, and I enjoyed it very much, Episode III was the prequel that felt the most like the original trilogy.
The movie was great, and it had every aspect that made the original trilogy great. It had the heroes and the villains. The Jedi vs. The Sith. That is the way it has always been. Episode I had the great lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and Darth Maul, however, there was nothing that was built upon that. Episode II brought Count Dooku, who in my opinion was a horrible choice for a villain. I feel he was too old to play a Dark Lord of the Sith. With Episode III, we have Count Dooku, Darth Sidious or The Emperor, and the new Darth Vader. I was happy to see Count Dooku killed in the beginning of the movie, mostly because I did not ever like the character. And seeing Palpatine just transform himself into the essence of evil made my skin crawl. How he turned Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader was just incredible. Other reviews have bashed how Anakin is turned, but I totally bought it. His love, his want for power so he wouldn't lose Padme like he lost his mother, it was totally believable. I mean, Darth Vader always had good in him, but he was twisted by the Dark side of the force and that is what happened. He craved more power and by turning to the Dark side, he achieved it. He did not turn to the Dark side over just the totally desire to have absolute power, but to make sure that Padme lived. I bought his change even if others did not.
Ewan McGregor did a fantastic job as usual in this movie. This movie though let him shine as Obi-Wan. He had to deal with the falling of his friend, his brother, his former padawan, Anakin Skywalker. McGregor has done a superb job throughout the entire trilogy of showing the wisdom of Obi-Wan Kenobi. McGregor has always looked like a younger Sir Alec Guinness and I have always loved that. I saw so many similarities to those two especially in Episode III. You saw Obi-Wan's struggle with Anakin and the ultimate acceptance that he lost Anakin to the Dark side. You understand why Obi-Wan's opinion is that Anakin was killed by Darth Vader. You begin to understand this by the relationship those two had. When Anakin turned, Obi-Wan felt betrayed and he felt that he had lost his brother, as if his friend and former student was actually killed. McGregor shows us all of this with his acting, and I sat there just fully enjoying every minute that he was on screen.
I would have also say that Hayden Christiansen's acting improved in this movie. I actually enjoyed when he was on screen. With Episode II, all you had was Anakin whining all the time, and I just was so annoyed with that. In this movie, I just could not believe I was watching the same character. Maybe that was Lucas' plan all along, to have a character that you saw grow up and then turn to evil. It would make total sense to me. Again, some of the dialogue between Anakin and Padme was not the greatest, but it was nothing I could not handle. The dialogue between them was better though, not Anakin telling her how much he loves her and what not, but going deeper into his own goal of being able to keep her alive regardless of the costs. In this movie, we finally learn how Anakin came about, and I very pleased. Palpatine tells Anakin a story of a former Sith Lord that learned to manipulate the medichlorians to create life, and this Sith Lord passed it down to his apprentice. Palpatine does not come right out and say it, but you know the apprentice was him, and Anakin figures that out later. So Palpatine was the one who was the cause of Anakin's birth, and with that, he has been planning Anakin's change to the Dark side from the beginning. He was controlling everything. Palpatine created Anakin to be his ultimate apprentice, to have a Sith Lord that was stronger than any Jedi, that was stronger than anyone ever had been. He taunts Yoda even with this. He tells Yoda that Anakin, or Darth Vader as he is referred to now, is going to be more powerful than Himself and Yoda. I just loved how Christiansen did the job of showing Anakin's turmoil and fall into the Dark side. Critics have said that the fall was too fast, and wasn't believable, but I think differently. As I said before, it was all because he wanted the power to stop people from dying, and he had wanted that from even Episode II, when his mother died. So I give Lucas credit for that, being able to tie everything together. After his turn to the Dark side, Anakin has to battle Obi-Wan on the lava planet of Mustafar. Now this is a lightsaber duel that everyone has been hearing about for the last 28 years. It was what I expected it to be, very tense and very emotional. If people did not like this duel, it was because they were expecting a duel like from Episode I. See, each lightsaber duel should be taken differently. Each one is different so you cannot expect that one should be like another. So with this duel, having Obi-Wan and Darth Vader fight around lava, and having Obi-Wan cut off the legs and the good arm of Anakin, it was just amazing. I personally enjoyed the fight, as I enjoyed the whole movie.
This brings me to Darth Vader himself, after he is charred by Obi-Wan, and put into the Black Suit that everyone has come to know and fear. You understand why Vader is as tall as he is, and why he needs the suit. After he is in the suit and fully functional, he wonders about Padme and the Emperor tells him that he killed her. Now I had problems with Vader's reaction at first. His Frankenstein walk after he gets out of his restraints was totally believable because he was walking on artificial legs for the first time. He does scream "No" though which kind of got to me, but after thinking about it, he still loved her, and people will say that Vader is not like that, he would not scream "No" but if you think about it, he is still a person inside that suit. The critics will look at the original trilogy for Vader references, but what they do not realize is that Episode IV takes place 18 years after Episode III. That is 18 years after Padme's death and Darth Vader has just had that time to just let his anger build and build. With Padme gone, all there is for him is the Dark side and the Emperor. All he has is his hate and anger driving him in the original trilogy. So the "No" may not seem like Vader but it is if you look at it in a humanistic way. In that aspect I am pleased with it.
The Emperor was one of the best characters in this movie. Ian McDiarmid was stellar as Palpatine. I sat at the edge of my seat listening to him tell of the power of the Dark side. This was his movie in a lot of ways, as he forms the Empire, and has the Jedi eradicated. In this movie too, we finally see how powerful he actually is. I do wonder if he could have killed Mace Windu on his own but opted to have Anakin help him to finally push Anakin over the edge. The questions, but I can tell you this, the Emperor is by far one of the best characters in this movie.
I move to General Grievous, who everyone has talked about. His ability to wield four lightsabers is just amazing on screen. We do see Obi-Wan's master abilities though, when he quickly disposes of two of Grievous' hands and then force pushes him into the rafters. Grievous may have died too quickly for some, but for me, it was just right. I say this because Obi-Wan is a Jedi Master and he shows why. He kills him without the use of his lightsaber. Grievous dies fast because he cannot match a Jedi Master, and in my feeling that is why he was supposed to die as quickly as he did. His coughing, I did not mind it at all, because the Clone Wars cartoons on Cartoon Network explain why he coughs. So Grievous was everything he should have been.
Yoda again did a good job of proving why he is the most powerful Jedi. Mace Windu was supposed to be powerful, but was killed by the Emperor and Vader. Yoda though again does his unique saber fighting in this one, and does fight off the Emperor very well. We do understand why Yoda does not have a lightsaber in the original trilogy and we see why Yoda goes to Degobah. After he is almost killed from his battle with the Emperor that ends in a draw, he feels he has failed and decides to go into exile. He awaits the coming of age of Luke, who Obi-Wan takes to Tatoonie and tells Yoda he will watch over the boy. It brings everything full circle and leads greatly into the original trilogy.
I guess I cannot find really any flaws in this movie. People will always criticize the CG and everything, but this is Lucas' life work, the very thing he has spent more time than anything making it perfect. I have loved Star Wars my entire life and I will always love Star Wars, regardless of the little flaws. Greedo shooting first, Jar Jar Binks, and C-3PO's puns were basically my only really big problems with the whole saga. Oh yeah, and who cannot forget those Ewoks, which I mean, they were not a horrible idea, but not something that would totally bring down the Emperor's best troops. I guess I wish that the Stormtroopers would have been a little more militaristic in the original trilogy, but I have to look at the fact that they were made 20 some years ago. Technology has advanced and so the prequels looked more flashy. I also see the original trilogy as the dark ages of that galaxy far far away. With that, my review of Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith comes to an end. I told you a lot of what happens, and how I feel about what happens. Hope that you are able to form your own opinions on the movie, and hopefully you will enjoy it as I have. That is my take, Hope you enjoyed it.
Good Ol' Fashioned Family Fun
Well folks, as of May 1st, Family Guy is back on the Fox Network. It is about time that Fox finally put some useful programming on it's air waves. Ever since the DVDs for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd seasons came out, they have been selling like hot cakes. This prompted Fox to put Family Guy back on the air. Fox made a even better decision in finally giving Family Guy a decent time slot. It starts at 8:00 central time on Sundays on it's animation block.
Now I was always a fan of Family Guy, but never really watched it on TV when it was on. Mainly that was Fox's fault because they kept moving it around so no one really knew what time it was actually on. So when the DVDs came out, I snatched those up in a heart beat. As I watched the old episodes over and over, I longed for new ones. Then when Fox announced it would be showing new Family Guy episodes starting in May, I almost jumped for joy.....wait, I did jump for joy. I waited and waited until finally May 1st came and the new episode was shown.
The new episode of Family Guy, which kicked off it's fourth season, was a work of genius by Seth MacFarlene. It had everything that I loved about Family Guy. The pop culture references were just amazing and the jokes left me laughing the entire time. Brian and Stewie were always two of my favorite characters and in the episode they delivered their classic greatness. The Star Trek joke while Brian is changing Stewie just made me, and hopefully every other nerd just smile with glee.
I was kind of disappointed that Cleveland, Joe and Quagmire were not in the episode however. Jeff figured that the voices for Cleveland and Joe were off doing other projects, so that is why they did not appear. The episode does not lose anything with the absence of those characters. I am also hoping that they bring back good ol' Adam West as the often odd Mayor of Quahog.
I enjoyed the return of Family Guy extensively. I caught the follow up episode, which was good, but was not as good as the first episode of Season 4. I am very interested to see were MacFarlene takes this show now. It has already continued the greatness it had back from 1999-2002. I encourage everyone to watch MacFarlene's original masterpiece at 8:00 central time on Fox.
Roger and Ebert said "Finding Neverland is, finally, surprisingly moving".... "joyfully unexpected film" said the Times. Well unfortunately all those remarks are a huge understatement. In Marc Forster's Finding Neverland, Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Freddie Highmore and Kelly MacDonald give the most stunning performances that I have ever seen. This movie tells the tale of a man named Sir James Matthew Barrie (The author of Peter Pan) and how threw death and love finds a tale of unbelievable proportion. This movie not only has good acting, but also features a grade A crew. A shot in particular in a theater, was the of the best shots ever.Although this movie focuses on a guy who wrote for children, the movie can and will seem a tad bit to boring for even the most mature child.This movie has a good beginning, a good middle, and most important of all a good end.
Running Time: 106 min
Quote: JM Berrie: "Those boys should never be sent to bed... they always wake up a day older."
Some Good Old Hitchin'
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a movie that a lot of people have been looking forward to for a long time. the series of novels has been celebrated as fantastic works of fiction and caused a lot of hype to be put on the release of this film. so how does it stack up? does it live up to the books and will it stand the test of time as they have? eh, probably not.
The Plot (warning spoilers abound in this part):
Poor Arthur Dent, he's really not having that great of a day. he's got his mind on the girl that got away. his house is about to be destroyed to make way for a road, and his friend Ford Perfect decides to tell him that he's an alien. wait...wwwhhhaaaaaa? yeah all this happens before lunch too. before Arthur can say "hey i remember that time you wanted to have a probe party..." some demolition ships land and tell all of us Earth citizens that the planet is scheduled for demolition to make way for a hyperspace expressway. Arthur and Ford barely have time to hitchhike off the planet before Earth goes the way of...some planet that has been blown up before to make way for a hyperspace expressway......
what follows is a trek across the galaxy that involves a stolen ship, a rather crazy john malcovich, a manic depressive robot, and the search for the ultimate question in the universe. the plot never really seems to disappoint, although not reading the novels before hand i can't say that it sticks close. the plot does draw out my biggest criticism of the movie though. the love story. we're supposed to believe that arthur and his girl (named trillian, i was giggling at the thought that she was named after my messaging program too) fall in love after only about 20 minutes of interaction time on screen? while both martin freeman and zooey deschanel function fine on their own, pairing them together as perspective members of a relationships comes off as really wooden and unnecessary. you could have easily skipped that part of the movie and been completely happy. granted the love story isn't the biggest part of the movie, but it's the part i had the biggest problem with.
most of the acting is above average here. you've got martin freeman (the guy from the office tv show and love actually). who's got one of the best "what the f$#%" faces i've seen. he really brings across the fact that he has no idea what the hell is going on. and really fits well despite my comment about the love story. zooey deschanel (the blonde girl from elf) isn't so lucky. since the majority of her interactions with the characters almost completely revolve around the love story i wasn't really a fan of her in this movie. her dry humor works some of the time, but not enough to make her a good choice for the role. sam rockwell impresses as the president of the galaxy ZAPHOD BEEBLEBROX (he would have wanted it capitalized), constantly making the audience bounce between hating him for being such a jackass. and at the same time not minding it because he's just dumb enough to put the thought in your mind that maybe he doesn't know what he's doing. rounding out the main cast is mos def, who really suprised me in this movie. he did an excellent job of bringing ford perfect to life. having not seen his screen or stage work before i was a little skeptical being that he comes from that "rapper turned actor" crowd. man was i wrong. he brings on of the best performances of the film. it's worth mentioning too that both alan rickman (the voice of marvin the depressed robot) and stephen fry (the narrator and the voice of the guide itself) did really good jobs as well. they both bring their characters to life and in marvins case rickman keeps the character whinny but still likeable enough that he doesn't become annoying. plus marvins solution to the alien problem at the end worth seeing.
nothing in this film really stands out except for one thing. the improbability drive (what the stolen ship uses to jump the characters across space) turns who ever is in the ship into any random object for a short time after they come back into normal space. this produces some of the best visual gags in the movie, and the best on screen vomiting i've seen in a movie....ever. the CGI is well done and works with the film well. and the sets are all very good at complimenting the story. there really isn't any camera work or visiual effects in general that really push the movie in any way. this movie may not have set out to do that, but something about how bland a lot of the scenes were shot kind got to me. nothing in this area works against the film, but it made me walk out of the theater going "eh" instead of going "wow that was really cool". which is what a film like this is supposed to do.
i liked The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, just not a lot. there are enough memorable performances and on the ball humor to make it worth seeing. though i don't know if it's worth eight bucks and popcorn. rent it defiantly, but only really see it if star wars is sold out and you absolutely need to sit in a theater for an hour and a half. oh and if anyone knows where i can find myself a marvin robot that'd be really cool.....i give it a B-
There Is No Place Like Home For An Irishman
Well folks, I recently had the opportunity to view the Martin McDonagh play, "The Cripple of Inishmaan." It was put on right here at good ol' UW-Oshkosh. The cast was well chosen I must say. Merlaine Angwall, who directed the piece for UWO, did a fantastic job.
The play takes place in Ireland, on the Isle of Inishmaan, in 1934. The people who live in Inishmaan are very few, and they all know each other. Kate and Eileen run a small store out of their home. Johnnypateenmike, who's name is just as funny as the character, is the local gossip. He brings news to everyone, and mooches items from people, especially Kate Eileen for his news. The story, however, revolves around Billy, a physically challenged young man who is not given the time of day by anyone, including Helen, who Billy loves. Kate and Eileen are Billy's foster aunts, and because he is crippled, they treat him like a child. Billy learns from Johnnypateenmike about a film being filmed in Inishmore and Billy quickly begins to dream about life in America, living in Hollywood. Billy begins his journey and soon ends up right back in Inishmaan.
The journey that Billy takes is because he wants to make something better for himself. However, he does this for the wrong reasons. He feels his life at home is horrible, because he doesn't seem to get any respect from anyone. What he does not realize is that after he leaves, everyone feels lost without Billy. No one really makes a huge deal, except of course, Kate and Eileen. They even try and pass it off at first, but they cannot. Billy had so much at home for him, and learns while in America, that life without his family is not worth it, so he travels back to Inishmaan.
I loved this play, hands down, loved it. First and foremost, I love all Irish culture. I am Irish and very proud of it. To sit in the audience and watch this gripping tale, I was just in amazement. To see all the performers on stage, bringing 1934 Ireland to life was very moving. I have always wanted to go to Ireland, be around many Irish people, and to sit and watch a play, which was actually written by a true Irishman, was a dream come true for yours truly. The language was all correct, the accents the performers used were incredible. I have never heard so many Americans, from Wisconsin of all places, bring out a true Irish accent. They all did a very good job of bringing McDonagh's play to life on the stage of UWO's Fredric March Theatre.
The music that was chosen for in between scenes and for the intermission was well picked. There was the traditional Irish music. The fiddles, the flutes, everything. I am very keen on this kind of music, and for me, it helped set the feeling even more for the play. I personally got really involved. They also used some music that was made in America at the time. A lot of what they played was Bing Crosby. I think this was done to bring out the American culture, the culture Billy originally yearns for in the play.
As a critic of the films and plays that I view, I would have to say I do not have any criticism for this play. I mean, there is always the normal lines that get messed up from time to time, but in live production, that can be expected. I went on the second night of the show and it was stellar. I am sure it was even better on the weekend showings. I am giving this play 4 stars on a 4 star scale. It was just very impressive. I would recommend seeing this play if it ever available. I am also very curious about McDonagh's other works. Having the Irish pride that I do, I will probably love all of his plays. But for "The Cripple of Inishmaan," I loved it, no doubt about it, a spectacular play.
The Fateful Promise
The Fateful Promise is a relatively new band from Madison, Wisconsin. They have only been playing gigs since April 2nd and already have a nice following of fans. With a bunch of original songs, this self-professed emo/post punk band is well on it way to being the next big thing from Madtown.
I caught one of their live performances last Friday (April 22). It was in a coffee shop basement. There were about 30 to 40 people attending. The room was humid with sweat and smelled of body odor thanks to the craziness brought from the hardcore/screamo band that had just played. The Fateful Promise was headlining. The set was amazing. TFP puts on a great live performance. They have a dynamic stage presence and their music isn't compromised by their vivacity. In fact, TFP is a very tight group.
Rob Garekis is the front man. He plays guitar, sings lead vocals, and writes all of their songs. He is a friendly chum and loves to have a good time. Eric Pedersen is the bassist and does backup vocals. Travis Smith is the drummer. He is the one who turned me onto the band. I have been friends with him since before high school and we've kept up. The three attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Travis and Rob lived across the hall from each other last year and that is how the band got started.
"We had just gotten to school," Travis tells the story of the band's beginnings, "and the last band I was in, was Tripping Over Chairs. I saw a sign on rob's door that said 'punk drummer wanted'. I was the furthest thing from a punk drummer, but I thought I would go check it out anyway. He played his songs for me and I liked them enough to start practicing with him." It took Travis a while to get into the whole punk scene, but once in, he was hooked. Travis and Rob started looking for a bass player. They had two or three prospectives and a bunch of tryouts. But, after about ten months found Eric. They started practicing as a band in January and their first show was April 2nd.
I asked both Rob and Travis why they decided to be or wanted to be in a band. Both replied with relatively the same answer. They couldn't imagine not making music. "I decided to start a band because I have an intense desire to create and perform music...it's enjoyable, but it's more than that-it's almost a necessity for me." Rob shared with me "and I have come to realize that even if this band never played a show, I would want to practice and write and play and create just as much."
If The Fateful Promise took off and required more time than school, the band would be willing to put school on hold, but it wouldn't be an easy decision. "It would be hard on me, because I believe that school is really important and interesting, and my parents would flip," Rob Said.
Some of the band's influences are Gatsby's American Dream, Further Seems Forever, and Alkaline Trio. The Fateful Promise's name is from Rob's spirituality and his personal faith. Some of TFP's older music was written about relationships with girls and friends. But the newer music is about having a positive outlook on life and for people to just love each other. "...instead of me complaining and bashing people in lyrics, I want to inspire and lift up- or at least let them know that that's what I really want- that's reflected well in our new song-'Love is there'" Rob explains his lyrical decisions.
The Fateful Promise has many opportunities coming up for you to see them live. As travis puts it,"it's such a rewarding experience, to play well and to have other people enjoy it"
The Fateful Promise at Myspace