Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Voice 10: The Knockouts Part 1

I'm back! The Battle Round is finally done - as you should know by now, I don't review them for the most part - and The Knockout Round is here. To be honest, I'm still not particularly fond of this stage of the competition as I feel like some of the pairings are a little unfair since they usually throw in favorites with some cannon fodders, but I digress.

As for the performances, I thought it was mostly good given how deep the talent pool is this season. I'm surprisingly very excited for the Live Show. I kid you not.

On with the show!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Movie Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Where to even begin? Quite frankly, I didn't expect much from the film given how it was universally panned by critics, but Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wasn't entirely awful. Far from it, actually. The visual effects, as expected, were absolutely impressive, the action sequences weren't too heavy-handed and mind-numbing enough to put Michael Bay to shame like Man of Steel, and that final act was riveting. The performances were also uniformly good. Henry Cavill was still pretty charismatic and while I had reservations with Ben Affleck as the new Batman, I thought he pulled it off quite nicely. It was Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman though that had me squealing like a fangirl. Haha. All that being said, the film certainly had its fair share of problems. The plot, for one, was too cluttered that it felt like it didn't know if it wanted to be a political action thriller or a Justice League setup. The pacing was terrible - the first half was hard to pass by and it grew tiring long before the climax kicked in because it was just too much of everything - the editing felt choppy, and Lex Luthor was perplexing to say the least. Clearly, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was heavily flawed, lacking laser sharp focus and was too ambitious to a fault, but still a solid piece of entertainment. 7

Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 3

Not going to lie, I expected Kung Fu Panda 3 to be a half-witted sequel playing on the same jokes over and over again - how many of this can you make given the premise? - but I was extremely surprised at how well this film turned out. Yes, the story was nothing new and basically a derivative of some of the film we've seen before, but I don't think it mattered. The animation was very vibrant and energetic, the comedy was bigger and broader than before, and the voice performances were spot on. Simply put, Kung Fu Panda 3 was a great sequel. Nothing was lost in terms of appeal, luster and charm, and while it was  clearly in the same vein as the original and a plot line that was all too familiar, this animated film built on it as any good follow-up should do and altered just enough to make it feel fresh. 8

Friday, March 25, 2016

American Idol 15: Top 4

We have our Top 4!

This is why I love American Idol. I was almost resigned to the idea that La'Porsha Renae will win the title with absolutely no competition. I genuinely thought she had this in the bag, but after tonight, I'm not so sure. Trent Harmon is coming in strong - like a storm hitting another storm - and I'm not mad. The fact that I'm now entertaining the fact that the remaining guys could take this thing is testament to them trying to steal away with the title. Yes, even with MacKenzie Bourg and Dalton Rapattoni. Heck, I'm even scared that La'Porsha might end up in 4th place the same way Chris Daughtry, LaToya London, and Tamyra Gray ended their journey on the show. 

This is what a race looks like people, and thank you to Steven Van Zandt and the dementedly delightful Sia for pushing these kids to their full potential. 

On with the show!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

DAM NATION: March 2016 Playlist

Again, I apologize for the late post of the playlist, but here you go! I made sure that the playlist this month is as good as last month. So there's that. Here's a list of 15 songs that I (personally) fancy, that are already doing good on it's own and maybe some new singles from different artists that will probably - or maybe not - be hits in the next coming weeks in whatever format.


1 Work From Home Fifth Harmony (ft. Ty Dolla $ign)
2 Something New Zendaya (ft. Chris Brown)
3 Stone Cold Demi Lovato
4 Team Iggy Azalea
5 I Took A Pill In Ibiza Mike Posner
6 Something In The Way You Move Ellie Goulding
7 New Romantics Taylor Swift
8 Get You Home Nick Fradiani
9 7 Years Lukas Graham
10 Welcome To The Show Adam Lambert (ft. Laleh)
11 iT's YoU ZAYN
12 Never Forget You Zara Larsson (ft. MNEK)
13 NO Meghan Trainor
14 Piece By Piece (Idol Version) Kelly Clarkson
15 Dangerous Woman Ariana Grande

Password: DAM NATION's movie grade for Always Be My Maybe

Saturday, March 19, 2016

American Idol 15: Top 5

This was an odd show. The first part seemed like an appetizer before the main course.. and that main course was glorious! Not sure if it was the fact that the remaining five (5) didn't need to worry since someone got eliminated in the middle of the show or that they were just really fighting to be the next and final American Idol. I'm not complaining though as it made for some fantastic performances.

Also, can we talk about how emotional that last part of the show was? Other than their video packages showcasing their "life struggles", the performances were also pretty intense. No, the episode has some mediocre performances, but the rest made me feel sad that the show is ending.

I don't know. It was just too raw and real - and some of it was because Jennifer Lopez had me bawling with her "I'm going to miss American Idol" speech. Look, I may not agree with most of her comments and sometimes I feel like she's more of a cheerleader than a judge, but I really felt like she made some genuine connection with the show and I love her for that. Thank you, JLo.

On with the show!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

American Idol 15: Top 6

I. AM. SCARED. Somehow, I can't get into the competition this season especially with how fast everything's happening. Seriously. In less than a month, we're crowning the final American Idol and this beloved - or maybe not? - show is done and yes, I still can't wrap my head around that idea. We're down to six and I can't seem to put my finger as to who will win the season. It's exciting, but stressful, nonetheless.

Enough of that though. This week, the theme was "Most Overdone". Haha. No kidding. Everyone tackled songs that were covered over and over again in the last fourteen (14) seasons for their solos. Just for fun reference - before I go on with my usual rating - let me enumerate the most covered songs on American Idol History! Are you ready?

  • I Don't Want To Miss A Thing and I Have Nothing both covered 9 times
  • When A Man Loves A Woman covered 8 times
  • Against All Odds, Come Together, Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, I'll Be, Piece of My Heart, and Superstition were all covered 7 times
Interesting that three (3) songs were actually covered this week alone and another one was picked as Trent's song last week. Just fantastic! Haha. Do you want me to post a "Who sang it better?" blog soon?
    On with the show!

    Movie Review: Allegiant

    Allegiant was the final book of The Divergent Series - unnecessarily cut into two movies - that I did not feel for, root for, relate to, or enjoy from start to finish. Why? Because I have already watched this type of movie before, just far, far better than this series crapped out. The story was strikingly convoluted that I was more confused here than I was with both Interstellar and Inception. The action sequences were mediocre at best, the suspense were half baked, and the acting performances were mostly uninspired. True, it was visually stunning for the most part, but even that did not add enough value to the film. Not that I expecting anything extraordinary from Allegiant - believe me, my expectations were really low - but it seriously felt like torture sitting through the entire film. Pfft. 3

    The Voice 10: Blind Auditions Part 4

    The verdict is in: The Voice Season 10 has the best set of blind auditions EVER. Sorry. I just can't help but say it over and over and over again. Is it because American Idol is ending that I'm coping by convincing myself that The Voice is the next best thing? I'm not so sure, but the level of talent this season has been off the roof. I tell you, if these people continue to deliver great performances, we're in for a good cycle.

    Oh, and Christina Aguilera has an insanely strong group. It's going to be a bloodbath on her team in the next coming rounds.

    On with the show!

    The Voice 10: Blind Auditions Part 3

    I said this before and I will say it again, The Voice Season 10 is starting to look like a fantastic season. We're only three (3) blind audition episodes in and I can already see a number of people who could win the show and I have NEVER felt anything like that since Season 8. One theory: Spring Cycle has mostly been a better season than the Fall Cycle. Anyway, I should stop babbling.

    On with the show!

    Tuesday, March 8, 2016

    The Voice 10: Blind Auditions Part 2

    I must say, Season 10 is actually turning out to be a good season. I don't know. The talent this year, though nothing groundbreaking, offers a lot more in this cycle and Christina's team is turning out to be the one to beat. Can she actually win this show? You know, since it's all about the coaches! Haha.

    On with the show!

    Movie Review: London Has Fallen

    Yikes. Every year, there's always a parade of seemingly unnecessary sequels, and yes, London Has Fallen was one of them. This seriously felt inconsequential compared to the first one and seemed like a hollow attempt at outdoing what worked so well with it's predecessor. The plot made absolutely no sense, the whole thing came off bloated with too many underdeveloped characters, and it just tried way too hard. None of the action sequences felt exciting, the actors looked bored, and the gratuitous violence added noting to the film. Even the visual effects were godawful - possibly one of the worst effects I've seen in recently memory. One might argue that London Has Fallen was, at the very least, entertaining, but it still left me underwhelmed that I began to wonder why did I even bother watching it. 3

    Movie Review: Gods of Egypt

    Gods of Egypt sparked high expectations with a trailer that provided some glimpse of visual panache, but then failed to deliver. On a visual standpoint, the film was on point. The visual effects were terrific, the location design and background looked majestic, and a few of the action scenes were executed well. But besides that, there's very little to like. The story was bland, the acting was insanely cheesy, and some of the lazily crafted sequences were predictable and tired. Not going to lie, Gods of Egypt wasn't as rubbish as I expected - given how critics tore this film to pieces - but it was still a dreadfully mediocre film riddled with cliches. Skip this one. There's not enough positive elements to it to justify the price of admission. 4.5

    Movie Review: Always Be My Maybe

    In a sea of sloppily sentimental and terribly formulaic romantic comedy films, Always Be My Maybe was wonderfully simple. True, it still fell a bit in that familiar narrative arc that's usually present in most films under this genre, but for the most part, this effort was a breath of fresh air. The absence of any plot twist intricacies or major conflict with overbearing dramatics to conclude the story was refreshingly different, the storyline was clean and straightforward, and the writing was real and deliciously cheesy. The lead actors were also pretty fantastic. Gerald Anderson had an understated, but charming screen presence that's quite compelling and Arci Munoz was a hoot to watch. She was just downright hysterical and appealingly relaxed. Always Be My Maybe was simply a delightful film. It not only met every expectation, but exceeded it. 8.5

    Sunday, March 6, 2016

    American Idol 15: Top 8

    The one exciting part of this farewell season has been the unpredictability of each and every week. I mean, they just sent Oliva Rox home - probably one of the most marketable finalists this season, but apparently has NEVER gained enough fanbase to support her as soon as the producers allowed America to vote for her. What was the point of giving her a fast pass to the Top 10 by the judges and then gets eliminated the next week also by the judges' decision?

    At this point, no one is a frontrunner. No, seriously, absolutely no one. Maybe La'Porsha, but I'm not quite sold yet. It's a very odd season to watch.

    On with the show!

    Thursday, March 3, 2016

    The Voice 10: Blind Auditions Part 1

    We're already at the show's 10th season and yet, there's no breakout artist to come out of The Voice. Why? Because the last winner was not yet done experiencing the perks of winning the show and yet we're already looking for another one. Not going to lie, I love myself some good singing reality shows, but reviewing The Voice US is a tad exhausting with two cycles a year. Ugh.

    That being said, the premiere episode was surprisingly good and I found a couple of good ones that I can root for in the next coming rounds. Oh, and I enjoyed Christina Aguilera in this episode. As for Blake and Adam, they need a break.

    On with the show!
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