Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Movie Review: Haywire

[Another Sani Day]
We got this to kickstart our year in film - and no one should complain. During this time when all we get are residuals of sappy Oscar films, we get this new Soderbergh film. People have tremendous concern about its assassin plot - but who cares about the plot? Plot is never relevant anyway. The filmmaking in this film is what stands out. It means serious business. This is how you film your action scenes - static, raw, without those prerequisite shitty epic scoring. I found myself little distracted at times by some of the jazzy scoring but that's nothing but a minor issue. That, and Gina Carano tends to be awkward at times, but she's got some serious thighs so who'd notice that. Soderbergh's last film, Contagion, pretty and beautifully shot. But this new one is really really REALLY well-shot and made great use of digital photography. 2012 off to a good start 7.5/10

[Krazy Koaxe]
Acting: Star of the films acting seems very forced. Story: The way the story unfolds is where the film begins to unravel itself. 2/3 of the film is being told like a story to one of the characters, which I never have a problem with. I do have a problem when the character that is being told the story has NOTHING to do with the rest of the film. Choreography: A lot of the fighting scenes were extremely fake. Score: Amazing, the best thing about this movie. In all, Haywire is just ok. 4.5/10

[The DAM Nation]
Sure, Haywire had that usual story of betrayal and revenge, but it somehow didn't matter as this one had some serious spunk. It's brutal. It's mean. It's a no nonsense, kick the crap out of everyone who gets in your way action film. Plus, there's Gina Carano who played the lead role with great authenticity. I mean, when I saw her throw some punches and kicks, I really felt bad for that poor sap on the receiving end. She may lack a certain degree of emotional depth in some of her scenes, but for her first featured film, this was quite impressive. Oh, and the lack of scoring especially during the fight scenes were incredibly refreshing. If I have one gripe about the film, it would have to be the uneven pacing as some parts became a little dragging and dull for my liking. Nonetheless, this was NOT a bad film. 7/10


*2012 DAM NATION movie reviews will be a consolidation of capsule reviews from people who signed up before the year started. Ratings will change once the reviews start to come in.

Movie Review: The Darkest Hour

Take a slightly interesting premise, add competent actors, and some decent special effects and you get The Darkest Hour. I admit, the first half was quite intriguing, but as the movie progressed, everything just became silly - even dumb. No character development. Amateur script. Annoying conclusion. The only good thing I got about it was the fact that there were a couple of character fatality twists that's quite unexpected - though all of them were seriously disposable. Oh, and I appreciated the fact that they had Moscow as the setting instead of the trite New York City or Los Angeles. 5/10

Intriguing and engrossing plot that continues to deliver twists and turns, whether you are at the beginning, middle and end. Some characters lack a quality in the acting normal,y required for these sort of movies and with this affects the pacing of the movie. Overall a movie worth seeing. But ditch the 3D if you can. 7/10

Completely lacks of story telling and character building. I don't even care who's gonna die next and the relationship is not well-built. The alien form is cool by the way, but only until they reveal their true true form, not terrifying at all. But I do like the scenery, it is refreshing to see another part of the world getting invaded. 2.5/10


*2012 DAM NATION movie reviews will be a consolidation of capsule reviews from people who signed up before the year started. Ratings will change once the reviews start to come in.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Glee Season 3: Smooth Criminal Sneak Peek

You want another and more epic performance teaser? Look at this sensational cover of Smooth Criminal by Santana and Sebastian!! Everything was AMAZING from the arrangement to the incredibly palpable chemistry between these two characters and even the cello players. Dare I say, one of Glee's finest!

Glee Season 3: Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' Sneak Peek

Here's a sneak peek of Glee's Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' performance, which is part of their Michael episode to air this week, January 31, 2012.

I'm not a big fan of tribute episodes - Madonna and Britney episodes were a bit of a mess - but I'm strangely excited for this one. This performance is actually good. The music, the hallway strut, plus the library needs a serious shake up since Can't Touch This and this is just the ticket. Haha. Oh, and the choreography at the beginning and later on stage was pretty entertaining to watch. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Glee Music 3: Michael

Next week, Glee will tackle the song of Michael Jackson and I should say that they have a pretty solid week musically. I'm just not sure how they will fit in these 10 songs in one episode. Haha. Let's see. Enjoy!

Yes, there's too much going on with the song, but that layering actually gives the song enough spunk to stand out. Plus, I think Santana, Artie, Sebastian and Blaine killed the vocals. 8/10

Hmm. NEVER liked this song and I don't think the show did anything to appreciate it, but their version sounds decent if a little dull. Oh, and Finn sounds weird on this one. I don't know. 5/10

Black Or White
Fun song. Great voices. Possibly one of the best New Directions numbers we've gotten this season - of course, based from this recording alone. I like that there are little bits for most of the performers. I'm looking forward to see how it fits into the show. 9/10

Human Nature
Again, another solid duet from Mercedes and Sam. I love the slow bongo type of beat in the song, and the overall arrangement is quite nice. It's much "sweeter" compared to Michael Jackson's original and this well sung. It's pretty impressive if you ask me. 8/10

I Just Can't Stop Loving You
Cheese-tastic!! Say what you want, but I'm really digging the cheese in this song. Not my favorite Michael Jackson song, but both Rachel and Finn sold this song to me. Also, Finn is obviously not the best singer in the bunch, but I like what he did with this. 8/10

I Want You Back
First few seconds of the song and I'm hooked. I wouldn't say that Sebastian is a strong vocalist, but he pulls this song off quite nicely. I like the arrangement and there's a fun spirit to it. 8/10

Never Can Say Goodbye
Finally! A Quinn solo! Nice vocal for a nice song. Sure, there's nothing groundbreaking about this cover, but it's soothing and quite pleasant. I think this is another one that might come off better with the context of the show. 7/10

It's full of energy and doesn't sound bland like so many Glee covers, but I'm just not that big of a fan of the song. I don't know. 7/10

Smooth Criminal
Can I say EPIC? Seriously. The cellos. Santana. Sebastian. Wow. My favorite Glee songs are when they twist the original version and make it sound fresh and with the addition of cellos in this rendition makes it a cut above the rest of their Michael covers! The arrangement is sensational, the vocals are flawless and there's character in both voices. LOVE IT! 10/10

Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
Hmm. Part of me likes it and then part of me doesn't. It feels like there's something missing but can't really put my finger on it. I must say though that Blaine sounds fantastic and Glee's cover is somewhat more punchy than the original one. 8/10

American Idol 11: Galveston Auditions

Everything about this episode was pure sameness - if there's even a word. Haha. Rehashes of the same old joke auditions, rehashes of the same old sob stories, rehashes of the same old types of contestants. Can we fast forward to Hollywood Week already? Good thing, there were a couple of contenders in this episode's crop of singers. And that's the only thing I'm holding on right now.

If one thing can come out of this disaster of an audition season, though, is that maybe they'll do some enormous revamp of how they'll handle auditions episode next year. Cutting back on the boring and bad ones is a start, but maybe they should just cut back on the number of audition episodes, period. We'll see..

Here's my review on the people who got featured on today's episode:

DISCLAIMER: Just an opinion based on the auditions. It may change as the season progresses so haters back off. Haha.

Skylar Laine
Not a fan of this girl, but I must admit that there's something striking about her voice. She even sounded like Miranda Lambert - just not as good yet. But yeah, she could lock up a lot of the Lauren Alaina fans with that country sound. 7.5/10

Baylie Brown
.. and she's back! I remember her audition back in Season 6 (Jordin Sparks) and I was really expecting her to go far, but alas, she got eliminated during Hollywood Week group rounds where she was paired up with the infamous Antonella Barba. Haha. Yes, nothing really makes her stand out versus all the other pop country blondes the show has seen, but she has a strong vocal pipes with incredible charisma and spunk. Plus, she just killed her Season 6 audition. 8.5/10

Kristine Osorio
Her audition sounded a little shouty, especially when she powered through those high notes, but I love her soulful tone and there's character to her voice. I'd like to see more from her. 7.5/10

Linda Williams
Seriously? Those girls Jennifer liked prior to Linda were good! Linda, on the other hand, either overdid it or was really just terrible. What was Steven and Randy smoking? 4/10

Cortez Shaw
Personally, I didn't like his take on Adele's Someone Like You just because the tempo change was a little strange for my liking, but he can sing if not a little generic. That is all. 7/10

Ramiro Garcia
Aside from his backstory, there's nothing remotely remarkable about this guy. He has a decent voice and could actually be a great church singer, but I don't see anything beyond that. Sue me. 7/10

American Idol 11: Aspen Auditions

Wow. Just when I thought San Diego was boring, this one was even worse! I mean, I'm all for a kindler and gentler Idol, but give me some really good voices - not just marginal singers! Love the beautiful sights n the audition shows, but this just didn't excite me.

They need to hurry up and get to Hollywood week, and hopefully that will bring some awe inspiring performances, and interesting people who can also sing. Of course, I'm still watching, but I'm hoping things will get better with the live shows, when we assume the cream will rise to the top.

Episode Summary: Judges overpraise people who won't make it very far in Hollywood.  HAHA.

Here's my review on the people who got featured on today's episode:

DISCLAIMER: Just an opinion based on the auditions. It may change as the season progresses so haters back off. Haha.

Jenni Schick
I wasn't really sure if I liked her audition. Her vocals were fine, but it somehow was too loud for my taste with no finesse whatsoever. Plus, her personality kind of grates. Haha. 6/10

Curtis Gray
Average singer at best. Sorry. 5/10

Richie Law
A less charming and attractive Scotty McCreery? Umm, no thanks! 5/10

Devan Jones
Impressive vocal control. Nice tone. Good voice. I want to hear more!! 7.5/10

Mathenee Trego
Gawd! You need to calm down! Haha. His voice is undeniably strong if a bit affected and verging on annoying. 7/10

Haley Smith
Wow. Very interesting audition. I enjoyed the rawness of her vocals, her unique tone and kind of offbeat - in a good way - phrasing. She sang that Chaka Khan ditty like I've never heard before. 7.5/10

Shelby Tweten
She's probably the best one in Aspen, but that's not saying much. Although I must admit that she actually reminded me of Lauren Alaina in terms of tone and phrasing - and yes, that's not something to sneeze at. Shelby's a little folksier though, which is quite interesting. 8/10

Jairon Jackson
Eh. He was decent and his original song wasn't bad at all, but that vibrato annoyed me! If he'd be able to dial it down a notch, talk to me again. Haha. 7/10

Angie Zeiderman
Oddly fascinating! Haha. Her first song was completely odd but entertaining. It was too over the top that I was trying to figure out if she was a joke contestant or not. But when she sang Blue Bayou, she was actually pretty good. I didn't think she'd hit those high notes, but her voice was surprisingly solid. 7.5/10

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

American Idol Season 11: San Diego Auditions

Was this episode a total waste of time? Not sure. I must say though that the vibe of this episode was so good, I was actually laughing at the atmosphere and not at the joke contestants, which was a pleasant change. Heck, some of Steven Tyler's remarks were golden! "I can't wait to see people sing the same Adele song for 6 f*kin' hours" Haha.

That's it, I guess.

Here's my review on the people who got featured on today's episode:

DISCLAIMER: Just an opinion based on the auditions. It may change as the season progresses so haters back off. Haha.

Ashley Robles
Technically, she's a pretty strong vocalist, but I somehow found her way too robotic as every note seemed too calculated. Plus, she did do too much with the melody. Of course, that's something she could "unlearn" - if there's such thing - but at least she has the talent and her audition was really good. Let's see if she'd be less stiff during the Hollywood week. 8.5/10

Jayrah Gibson
Seriously? Not sure what the judges were thinking, but I honestly didn't like the audition. He ran through the whole song so fast that I couldn't even figure out if he could actually sing. I mean, he just didn't let a note hang for more than a half a second. What was up with that? 4/10

Aubree Dieckmeyer
Look! The judges actually gave some good constructive criticisms! It's about time no? Haha. Aubree, to me, was refreshingly real and upfront. I wasn't sure if the edit she got before her actual audition would hurt her chances, but I found it to be quite endearing. Her voice, while not the strongest, is really nice if a little thin when she goes up into her upper register. Other than that, I actually like her. 7.5/10

Ali Shields
.. and with that, we remember why Ellen DeGeneres is no longer a judge on this show. Haha. Sorry. Ali has a great - or grating? - personality, but I don't think she's a good enough singer to be on American Idol. Her talents, in order: Dancing > Rapping > Singing. 6/10

Kyle Crews
Eh. This guy was so delusional of his suave-ness. I don't know. I usually like these type of vocalists, but with the overpraise and all, I just didn't think he was anything special. His vibrato was annoying and the runs were a little overwrought. Yes, I did think some of the liberties he took with the melody worked, but not all. 7.5/10

Jane Carrey
Hmm. Not to be mean or anything, but people wouldn't care about her voice if she wasn't related to Jim Carrey. I admit, she has a pretty voice, but there's nothing incredibly spectacular about it. Maybe if Randy didn't cut her singing after 10 seconds, I would've appreciated more of her talent. To me, she's just there to make for a moderately interesting audition show. 7/10

Jason Hamlin
Not for me. I'll pass. Next! Oh, he's the last? Until next episode then. Haha. 6/10

*photos to follow

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Movie Review: Underworld: Awakening

[The DAM Nation] 
I've never been a fan of this franchise, but I must admit that this film was way better than I thought it would be. Sure, the storyline was a bit lacking, but it somehow made up for it with some incredibly swift action sequences and great visual effects. I would even say that this one had a stunning stylistic flair. It was solid and punchy at every second and the action was intense. Plus, Kate Beckinsale!! Just saying. 7.5/10


*2012 DAM NATION movie reviews will be a consolidation of capsule reviews from people who signed up before the year started. Ratings will change once the reviews start to come in.

Movie Review: We Bought A Zoo

[Roll with the punches]
You all should see this. Maybe it's that kind of film you want to skip at the theaters but I'm positively sure you'd have a good time watching it. Matt Damon does it again, Scarlet Johansson's amazing too. The story is based on real life events, which made it more interesting for me as a viewer because how could something so grand as buying a zoo & having all kinds of problems be real? I think this film is moving, beautiful & may I say thrilling because of the animals. 9.5/10


*2012 DAM NATION movie reviews will be a consolidation of capsule reviews from people who signed up before the year started. Ratings will change once the reviews start to come in.

Glee Season 3: Yes/No Episode Review

Season 3, Episode 10

This episode was absolutely fun, deep, a little insane, and very satisfying. I had a roller coaster of emotions the whole time! The story, though a tad unfocused, flowed really well and the performances were top notch - I actually enjoyed the variety from run to sentimental. Emotional. Joyful. Heartfelt. Humorous. Glee at its best. Not my absolute favorite episode EVER, but it's definitely up there. The hiatus, as annoying as it was, was worth it for this episode.


- Let me just say that the writing in this episode was fantastic. The scenes were perfect and there was just the right combination of love, drama and comedy. I like Glee much better when it isn't trying to focus on 10 different characters in a single episode.

- The whole Sam and Mercedes subplot was actually kind of cute, which I never thought possible. Haha. I was seriously surprised how natural the chemistry was between the two of them.

- I really liked Helen Mirren’s voice over - perfect in its incongruity. At first it was funny, and then it was poignant. Becky can be the Queen of England in her mind despite the fact that she knows she’s fighting some difficult social battles that will probably dog her for the rest of her life.

- All the scenes with Becky were perfect, and the voice over was the needed comedy in between all the love and drama. Without it the episode would have been too much, but the Becky bits helped the flow.

- All characters were in an honest place about their situation. Mercedes, Finn, Emma, Becky, Kurt. It was just all letting out their insecurities and their deepest doubts and trying to come to terms with it. It was like getting real with the characters again.

- The scene with Finn and his mother was just heartbreaking. It's really nice to see reality - as such - setting in for the kids about the future. I was also happy that Finn got to finally get a decent storyline after the assassination of his character last year. Plus, his acting was superb and I'm not even a fan of his character.

- The way they handled Artie in this episode was great! He knew he had to reject a "relationship" with Becky carefully, and the scenes with the two were fairly realistic - except for her sending him those photos. Seriously?

- Sue Sylvester! Well, this is the Sue I like; snarky at times, but not totally reprehensible. That scene with her and Becky just melt my heart.  

- Sue and Beiste wearing those blue dresses and Princess Beatrice's weird hats from the royal wedding was incredibly hilarious. Can't. Even.

- I was so moved - that's even an understatement - by Emma's speech to Will. When she said "Can I promise you that I'm going to get better? NO, this is what you get! This incomplete person and with so much love for you." I totally lost it! I'm such a girl. HAHA.


- Despite the fact that one spends more time suspending disbelief than anything else in this show, the continued boundary problems between Will and his students- starting with framing Finn for the pot to asking everyone as an assignment for his personal matters - continue to make me ill, for the sole reason that this character is presented as a role model. Inappropriate!

- I know. I know. Rachel's answer to Finn's proposal was open ended, but I will seriously cut a b*tch if the answer is YES. I mean, "Marry me because everything else in my life sucks" is a bad basis of marriage. He proposed for the wrong reasons and I just hate the idea of Rachel giving up all of her dreams just to watch Finn rotate tires in a small town in Ohio.

- Sam and Mercedes flashback made zero sense to me. If that was supposed to be the first time they met, they wouldn't have been looking at each other like that since Sam only showed interest in Quinn. Just saying.


SUMMER NIGHTS was really cute. I loved how they recreated the scene from the original movie and it really fit Sam and Mercedes' storyline perfectly. Pretty nice homage, I must say.

WEDDING BELL BLUES was probably the best song Emma has done. I was laughing so hard at Sue and Beiste in the background! Cute. Funny. Dorky. It was all cheese and I loved it! Haha.

MOVES LIKE JAGGER/JUMPIN' JACK FLASH. Awful proposal idea, but as a performance, this was solid. Artie was so into it that I was expecting him to just stand and dance any second during the number. Haha. I was slightly disturbed, however, that I heard the boys singing, but all I saw was Will Schuester doing slow motion twirls in a black tank top. Did he forget his place again?

THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE was hauntingly beautiful - so simple and stripped down. The little montage was sweet and the vocals of the four ladies were phenomenal. I liked that Rachel was very restrained on the song and she knew it was important to let the other girls each have their moments. Very nice.

WITHOUT YOU was possibly my favorite Rachel solo EVER. I honestly didn't care for the context, but her version of this song was too strong to be ignored. Her voice sounded pristine and she actually sang a ballad that sounded different from all her other ballads - if that makes sense. Haha. Amazing.

WE FOUND LOVE was strangely entertaining. I thought the choreography was fun and the idea was interesting. Oh, and I'm commending the cast for learning how to do underwater choreography when some of them can't do dry land choreography. Here's looking at you, Damian. HAHA. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

American Idol Season 11: Pittsburgh Auditions

Wow. It looks like Nigel Lythgoe's been listening to the fans - an episode with NO actual joke acts! Is this a first? Haha.

Yes, I've been one of those people who complained when there was so little footage from people that actually made it through and too much of the annoying singers. I'm not in anyway missing the ridiculing of delusional contestants, but there's something really "off" with this episode.

Too many "Good, nothing special" singers are being put through to Hollywood. Somehow, they need to show a good balance of good, middle of the road, and bad singers. I mean, that comparison will make the just good singers look better than they really are. Just saying.

Here's my review on the people who got featured on today's episode:

DISCLAIMER: Just an opinion based on the auditions. It may change as the season progresses so haters back off. Haha.

Heejun Han
Wow. This audition was actually much better than I expected. Who knew? I admit, he seemed a little nervous and scared at first and he needs to work on his diction, but his tone is gorgeous. Plus, he's pretty hysterical and very likable. 8.5/10

Reed Grimm
Family Matters Theme as an audition piece? Haha. Interesting song choice. I don't find his voice particularly stellar, but it's solid. I was hoping that I saw a little more of what he can actually do. To me, he's a cross between Casey Abrams and Taylor Hicks. 8/10

Aaron Marcellus
Isn't he Aaron Sanders of last season? Haha. I think he's a good singer, I just don't think he's a viable recording artist. Sorry. 7.5/10

Chase Likens
Eh. Not a fan. Next! 5/10

Samantha Novacek
Why was her sister ON THE FLOOR? HAHA. Well, stupid planking gimmick notwithstanding, this audition was actually pretty impressive. Nice tone, strong vocals and I appreciated the fact that she didn't oversing. 7.5/10

Creighton Fraker
There's something about his voice that's incredibly annoying. I don't know. He can sing - no question about that - but his tone is unpleasant, the high notes verge on irritating and he needs to lay off with those runs. TOO. MUCH. 6.5/10

Eben Franckewitz
Justin Bieber? Nah. The kid has potential but he's too raw for this competition. Heck, his voice even sounded like it hasn't matured yet. Remember Jaycee Badeaux from last season? Eben would get destroyed in the competition if he goes through. Just saying. 7/10

Travis Orlando
I seriously felt uncomfortable with how desperate Travis was to make it through and wish that his real life didn't seem so hopeless. I hate to be harsh about these sob stories, but come on!! Now, admittedly, he still has that nice tone, but his singing sounds affected and I didn't really like how he phrased the song.  6.5/10

Erika Van Pelt
Aside from Heejun, this girl made the most of an impression. I mean, I'm intrigued by he blue eyed soul vibe and somehow she gives me an Adele-esque quality with her interesting alto. Heck, even her runs were nicely placed. Looking forward to her. 8.5/10

Hallie Day
While I do think that she has a strong voice and good enough phrasing, I didn't like her song choice - I despise it, actually - her tone was strangely off and there's something so bland about her. That said, there's no denying that she has the chops and it looks like the judges love he. We'll see. 7.5/10
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