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Last updateMon, 29 Apr 2019 1pm

Entertainment

Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)

Exploring “The Evil Within ”

theevilwithinThe video game community has been clamoring for a return to good old-fashioned survival horror, and they were promised just that when "Resident Evil" creator Shinji Mikami was announced as the game director for "The Evil Within," developed by Tango Gameworks and published by Bethesda Softworks. This highly anticipated title was promoted with phrases like "ammo scarcity" and "nightmare inducing," with the trailers showing the protagonist, Sebastian Castellanos, sneaking through dark, trap-laden corridors stalked by hulking monstrosities. Above all, the world was promised that this would not be a "Resident Evil" game.

However, Mikami seems to have spent a little too much time on that franchise, because "The Evil Within" is chock-full of the same old badness that "Resident Evil" fans are used to. In fact, if you played "Resident Evil 4," you came pretty close to playing this game. The player must dodge trip wires and bear traps while avoiding human beings that have been mutated by some powerful, previously untapped source that only the antagonist—in this case, a scientist named Ruvik—can control. Some similar enemies make a comeback too, including a giant chainsaw-wielding monster that decapitates Castellanos exactly like the Ganado did in "RE4."

Some of these moments are obvious nods to the aforementioned franchise. For instance, the first enemy you come across is hunkered down over a corpse, eating some random organs, and looks back at the player while lightning flashes. This little Easter Egg will be familiar to those who played the original "Resident Evil." It can be difficult to tell where homage ends and replication begins, but there are many similarities, only a few of which I'll go into.

Overall, this was a well-done game. The graphics are fairly nice, offering an impressive range of detailing, but this is limited to the characters. While the player can count the hairs of Castellanos's five o'clock shadow, flowers and shadows appear bulky, even pixilated, at times. The sound effects are more effective, offering an array of clangs, groans, and scuttles that left me swiveling the camera around, desperately trying to figure out if what I was hearing was a broken pipe or the hiss of something that might force me to empty my already low amount of ammo.

This can be a problem, because the camera hovers so close to the character that he takes up nearly half the screen, resulting in a lot of confusion, spinning, and sometimes, eye strain, motion sensitivity, and seizures.

The other interesting part was the difficulty. This game will kill you in dozens of ways, ranging from the mundane, such as a mutant stabbing you to death, to the occasionally hysterical, like if a bomb you're trying to disarm detonates and sends your arms to the other end of the level.

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“Gone Girl” Isn’t Going Anywhere

gone-girlIt is so typical to see Hollywood create movies where romances have happy endings, but what happens when a love story is nowhere near predictable? In the newest craze "Gone Girl," Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) shows audiences what the real meaning of "on the edge of your seat" feels like.

Before even entering the theatre, you think you know the story. Even with no knowledge of the book, you get a sense that this is just the usual husband kills wife plot—or at least that's what I thought.

The movie opens up with Nick going to a bar to meet his sister (Carrie Coon). Immediately, you think that he must have a drinking problem because the scene is set early in the morning. After getting a call at the bar from a neighbor about the cat being let out, Nick rushes home. While entering his kitchen, he notices that a table has been flipped upside down and smashed. He calls for his wife, but there is no answer.

The rest of the movie is twist after twist after twist, and there is no telling what will happen next (unless you read the book!). As the investigation progresses, "Gone Girl" gives a completely new meaning to the word 'gone.'

The way Nick tries to convince the crowd he had nothing to do with the disappearance of his wife is chilling. On one hand, you want to believe everything he is saying. But at the same time, all signs point to him. As Nick's character develops throughout the movie, you can tell that the harsh words of the media take a beating on him, as if he knows he did not kill his wife but the media's interrogation makes him question himself.

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Nintendo Releases Smashing New Game

super-smash-bros-3ds-release-dateOn Oct. 3, Nintendo released the fourth entry in its successful, "Super Smash Bros." series for Nintendo 3DS. For anyone unfamiliar with this name, "Smash" is a fighting game starring characters from Nintendo's iconic franchises duking it out in frantic four player action until only one is left standing. Players select one of these characters, and using a variety of attacks and special moves, attempt to rack up enough damage to send their opponents flying out of the ring. Characters in this version include famous Nintendo icons such as Mario and Link, non-Nintendo characters such as Mega Man, Pac-Man, and Sonic the Hedgehog and even lesser known Nintendo personas such as Mr. Game & Watch and the Duck Hunt Dog.

This new version offers several first time features aside from new characters. Smash Run allows players to run through environments, defeating enemies and collecting power-ups for their selected character while competing against three other opponents. After five minutes, all fighters are brought together for a final challenge ranging from a timed battle to see who gets the most KO's, to climbing a tower, to running a race, or anything in between.

Another new mode that takes advantage of the 3DS's Street Pass function is Street Smash. In this mode, players select a token based on a character they have unlocked and do battle with others in a borderless arena. Each token is moved around the field and rammed into other tokens, attempting to knock them out of the arena until only one remains. Winning grants coins and equipment that can be used in the third new game mode, character customization.

Character customization is by far the strongest addition to the series. By collecting equipment in Smash Run, Classic, or Trophy Rush, the player can apply them to any character and gain benefits to one of three stats, Attack, Defense, or Speed. Typically, equipping something to boost one stat gives a decrease in another stat in a rock-paper-scissors type of relationship. Attacking raising items reduce defense, defense increasing items reduce speed, and speed enhancing items reduce attack. One can even customize the special moves of each fighter based on different versions they've collected. Now anyone can take a fighter they like and truly make it their own.

You can even build your own fighter from the ground up in the form of a Mii Fighter. By using digital avatars saved on your 3DS system, you can create a fighter from three distinct archetypes (a hand-to-hand fighter, a swordfighter, or a gunner) and select special moves in the same way as you would a customized fighter. You can even select different outfits to customize your fighter's appearance and put yourself in the game, literally!

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“Once Upon a Time” is Frozen Over

The small New England town of Storybrooke was 'frozen' over when Season 4 of ABC's hit series, "Once Upon A Time," premiered on Sunday, Sept. 28.

The show's storyline revolves around classic fairytale characters that lose their memories and are transported to our world after a curse created by the Evil Queen, Regina (Lana Parrilla). Even though the curse was broken at the end of Season 1, each episode is still packed with drama. Now that Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) has restored everyone's memories, we are torn between who is good, who is evil, whom we should root for, and whom we root against.

Characters like Snow White, Prince Charming, Rumpelstiltskin, Belle, Robin Hood, Captain Hook, and many more, are still peacefully living in the small town of Storybrooke — but those who watch the show know that trouble is about to start.

In the Season 3 finale, Emma and Hook returned home after being taken back in time to Storybook Land, the original residence of the fairytale characters. While there, Emma freed Maid Marian (Christie Laing), from the Evil Queen's fortress. Emma felt that if she left Maid Marian there to die, she would never be able to live with herself — but by doing so, she complicates the future timeline: Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) is shocked by the reemergence of his previously-deceased love interest. With Maid Marian's return, what will happen to viewers' new favorite couple, Robin Hood and Regina?

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The Pros and Cons of “Destiny”

Erde-Die-Stadt-und-der-ReisendeThere are few video games more popular than "Halo," and few game developers more well-established than Bungie. When Bungie sold "Halo" to create "Destiny," they promised gamers the stars, literally. Now, "Destiny" has been out for a month, and the question is: did Bungie deliver?

My answer is that it depends on what you want from "Destiny." If you loved everything about "Halo" and you're a fan of multiplayer first-person shooters (FPS), then "Destiny" may very well be game-of-the-year. However, if you're here for the story, or the supposedly MMO-inspired character progression, then there's a very good chance you'll be disappointed. For what it is (a multiplayer FPS with roleplaying elements) "Destiny" is outstanding; the problem is that Bungie presented it as more than that.

What "Destiny" does best, above all else, is the player-versus-player (PVP) combat (which should come as no surprise to fans of "Halo"). The controls are prefect and the selection of weapons and abilities allow for widely varied playing styles. Vehicles and turrets are well executed, and I've never played a game with a better sense of verticality. Jetpacks and other similar movement abilities allow for complex maneuvering during combat and some devastating kills. Using a jetpack to boost yourself for a melee kill is tons of fun. The ability to summon a vehicle into combat allows you to get to enemies more quickly, and offers more versatility in combat. My fondest memory of this system was using a motorcycle-like vehicle to get me to a turret. The turret had been picking off my team, so I dropped a grenade on its occupant.

My only criticism for multiplayer is that, like with the rest of "Destiny," loot drops are completely random. This means that someone who died ten times and got two kills could get a legendary drop, and the person who carried the team might get nothing. Sure everyone gets equal treatment, but what's the point of trying if you're barely rewarded for it?

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ABC’s “Selfie” Has Potential

selfieThe new ABC sitcom "Selfie," created by Emily Kapnek and starring Karen Gillan and John Cho, is interesting, to say the least. The show, based on the "My Fair Lady" take of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion," follows Eliza Dooley (Gillan), a social media obsessed young woman who suffers from an embarrassing viral video that destroys her reputation among her so-called "friends," followers, and co-workers. Hoping to rebuild her image, she enlists the help of marketing expert and co-worker Henry Higgs (Cho), who will hopefully turn her into a respectable and self-aware member of society.

The beginning of the pilot episode does not cast the brightest light on "Selfie." The set up for the premise is done too quickly, and the introduction of lead character Eliza is particularly off-putting. While we are not supposed to really relate to Eliza at all, she is still too annoying and self-absorbed to like or develop interest in. Even the embarrassing situation that leads her to seek help from Henry does not really evoke any sympathy until later.

Taking on an interpretation of an already known work could also be its detriment. With a familiar premise, it is hard to really set the show apart in its pilot. I would not blame anyone who turned off "Selfie" after the first commercial. It does not start off very funny, the use of various social media lingo is cringe-worthy, and it takes a while to really get started.

As the pilot continues, though, the series does show some potential, as it gives us more information about our lead characters and plays with some clever comedy. Through voiceover, we learn more about Eliza, and her explanation of her desires, insecurities, and fears shows that she is not as vapid as she seems. Henry, who is first shown as intelligent yet holier-than-thou, is slowly revealed to have his own flaws.

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MTV Gets “AWKWARD.”

awkward2The "AWKWARD." fall season premiere aired on MTV this past Tuesday, Sept. 23. After last season's finale left a million questions, fans were anxiously waiting to see what Jenna (Ashley Rickards), Matty (Beau Mirchoff), and Eva (Elizabeth Whitson) were going to do next.

The episode starts off during finals week. The pressure of getting into college is affecting everyone, but the stresses of Jenna's past relationships are upsetting her even more. With Luke (Evan Williams) and Matty both on her mind, she decides to give her relationship with Luke one last shot and go visit him at college. When she gets there, he's with another girl, and later tells her that he does not want to be in a relationship.

Now with Luke out of the picture, all Jenna is thinking about is Matty, Eva and their baby. The premiere showed Jenna continuously harassing Matty about how to live his life, which gave clues that this season will focus on their relationship just like all the others. Jenna and Matty forever!

While I am one of the biggest supporters of the Jenna and Matty relationship, it seems like we've been through this a million times. She loves him, he loves her, he changes his mind, then loves her again. Why can't they just be together?

When Matty and Eva went to go pick out engagement rings, I was one of the many viewers who was cringing in their seats. Getting married just because she said a month ago she was pregnant? The best part of the whole episode came in this scene, when Matty finally called out Eva (or should we say Amber?) about lying. He gave her the proposition to either transfer out of the school, or he would ruin her reputation.

Later in the episode, things got awkward when perfect Christian girl Alyssa hooked up with her adopted brother, Tyler. This just seems wrong. She is hiding it from everyone, and she begins to create a distraction by saying she is back in love with Jake. Poor Jake; he has no clue that he is just a distraction, and he seems to genuinely like Alyssa again after having dated her back in Season One.

The end of the first episode gives viewers a little bit of hope when Matty shows up at Jenna's bedroom balcony to announce that he broke up with Eva. With Eva faking her pregnancy, it seemed like Matty had finally been coming to his senses that Jenna always knows best. Though this appealed to fans, it showed that last season's plot was just a big waste of a storyline.

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Dakaboom Comedy Duo Visits Monmouth

20140926_200756_LLSSilly antics and comedic original songs entertained a decent crowd on Friday, Sept. 26. As one of Monmouth University's SHADOW program events, many freshman students attended to acquire an "O" for this week. Consisting of Paul Peglar and Ben McLain, Dakaboom utilizes their voices, a synthesizer, and a keyboard to create intricate beatboxes or comical mashups of actual songs.

The show, sponsored by the Student Activities Board (SAB), was full of fantastic vocal work as well as hilarious skits and banter between the two comedians. Peglar and McLain's chemistry is an obvious reason for the show's great success. The two mentioned being roommates for about seven years while being best friends for much longer. Although they live in two very different cities and states, the duo is still able to write new material and perform together.

In addition to Peglar's beautiful vocal range, his talent stretches into piano playing. Peglar was the original piano player in the first season of the musical TV show "Glee." Once this was mentioned to the crowd, many "Glee" fanatics cheered and shouted, "I knew I recognized him from somewhere!" Several songs performed by the duo utilized Peglar's fantastic pianist capabilities, proving that his role in "Glee" was well-deserved.

McLain has made appearances on "General Hospital," but he mostly spends his time with his electronic band located in Los Angeles. McLain's acting ability was showcased during the performance throughout the skits onstage. The comedian's reactions and involvement with the crowd created a believable and enjoyable experience for all.

Darius Jenkins, a sophomore member of SAB, mentioned, "Dakaboom is one of the events we brought from NACA last year, so this is their first time here at Monmouth University." Dakaboom has offered their talent throughout many colleges around the nation, entertaining students when they need it the most.

The duo's introductory piece took jabs at the other's interesting characteristics while demonstrating their perfect chemistry in the most upbeat way. Peglar proved his astonishing falsetto vocals while covering the works of Jackson 5, a-ha, and several others. McLain impressed the crowd with his beatbox original while comically claiming, "I'm a bat!"

A following song included a silly collection of questions that the duo has received after shows in the past: "Who are your influences?" "Where do you normally work?" "Are you single?" All of which garnered humorous half-responses.

Another song boasted a hilarious chant about friendship and all the qualities that made them great friends, which effortlessly cued laughter from the audience. A perfect play on words made the next piece a crowd favorite. Peglar's solo performance twisted girls' names into seemingly romantic phrases. "You're the girl I'd like to pick: Rose!" Peglar's clever wordplay continued into another composition that he called "Cheesy Love Song." This song switched out certain words with similar sounding cheese names. Yet again, the crowd gave positive feedback of the adorable lyrics.

The duo engaged the crowd numerous times, asking for answers throughout skits, and even singling out a girl in the crowd by creating an uncomfortable yet hilarious song purely about her name.

With many more songs sprinkled between the aforementioned ones, Dakaboom ended their hour-long performance with "50 Theme Songs Under 5 Minutes." The original mashup consisted of exactly what the title stated: 50 popular theme songs to TV shows including "Saved By The Bell," "Smurfs," "The Flintstones," "Animaniacs," "Happy Days," "Friends," "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," and many, many more.

At the end of the performance, Dakaboom received overwhelming applause and feedback. Many students stayed after the show to mingle more with the duo, as well as ask any questions that Dakaboom themselves didn't answer. The duo was more than happy to communicate with the starry-eyed students.

Emerald Umstead, a freshman, commented, "It was definitely a cute performance and they were very fun to watch. I'm glad I came."

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“South Park” Makes Triumphant Return to Comedy Central

south-park"Boner balls," blabbered off Cartman as he welcomed viewers to the 18th season of "South Park."

Creators of "South Park" Trey Parker and Matt Stone didn't hesitate to jump (scratch that, dive) right into things. And boy was it beautifully and hilariously executed.

The season premiere, "Go Fund Yourself," opened with the boys scheming a way to get rich without really having to exert much energy, as usual. After some (absurd) deliberation, an Internet Kickstarter company was named the ideal mean of achieving this goal.

Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny, and Butters assumed that all a company needs is a great name to emerge into a money-making machine.

Minutes after rattling off only the filthiest, raunchiest names for the Kickstarter company, Cartman finally had an epiphany – he decided to call their company the "Washington Redskins," since the whole "court thingy" just recently made the name available.

Capitalizing on the name "Washington Redskins," their company exploded into a giant success overnight. But not everybody was in favor of the new Kickstarter company, especially Dan Snyder, owner of the NFL Washington Redskins.

Snyder felt Cartman was mocking the "Washington Redskins," and was deeply offended – it was almost as if Cartman was poking fun at the team's heritage or something. I mean really, how dare he be so cruel and dehumanizing!

Cartman assured Snyder that the company name is only meant to show their deep appreciation of Snyder's "people." The satire is nothing less than greatness, with "South Park" executing this at its finest.

Besides, Cartman has an incredibly legitimate excuse to continue to keep the "Washington Redskins" name: "We can't change the name of the company, because it's like super-hard."

Kyle, being the most ethical and conscientious one of the group, decided to start his own company called "Furry Balls Plopped Menacingly on the Table, INC." It's a name that only "South Park" could devise because of its utter ridiculousness. Stan joined him in his endeavors, but then left after deciding he didn't like the name, insisting that the title was entirely too long.

Refusing to accept Cartman's reasoning for keeping the company name, Snyder visited Commissioner Goodell, who happened to be a robot. Unsatisfied and hungry for a solution, Snyder then turned to other NFL team owners for advice. His colleagues insisted Snyder force Cartman to change the Kickstarter company logo.

Cartman complied – but definitely not to Snyder's standards. The increasingly vulgar and overtly sexual logos were probably (no, definitely) the highlights of this episode. I'm sorry Redskins fans, but I couldn't help but chuckle each and every single time Cartman unveiled a new rendition to the company logo during one of his Ted Talks. Pure comedic gold, Parker and Stone. I applaud you both.

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James Franco and Jonah Hill Tell a "True Story"

A unique look at a movie-book combination, the film True Story analyzes how the real-life crime drama about convicted murderer Christian Longo was made into a book written by former New York Times journalist Mike Finkel. 

The film opens with a teddy bear being dropped into a suitcase containing the dead body of a very young girl. The suitcase is then closed and dropped into a body of water off the Pacific Ocean. The scene changes and we then see reporter Mike Finkel, played by the versatile Jonah Hill, in an African city interviewing some teenage boys who claimed to have been abused by the owners of the cocoa plantation where they were allegedly enslaved. This scene is extremely important to the story in that it sets up for Finkel’s subsequent dismissal from The New York Times for fabricating parts of this story.

However, the scene quickly moves again, this time to Cancun, Mexico, where another man who claims to be a New York Times reporter Mike Finkel meets a young woman in a church, but is quickly arrested and extradited to the United States after the rendezvous with this woman. We then find out that this man is Christian Longo, played splendidly by James Franco, who is accused of murdering his entire family including his wife and his three young children. Longo subsequently fled to Mexico and stole Finkel’s identity to avoid prosecution, but we pick up his story upon his arrest.

After Finkel is made aware that Longo had been pretending to be him, Finkel reaches out to Longo in jail and they forge an unusual relationship. After Finkel loses his job at the Times, he is looking for redemption through Longo’s story. Longo, on the other hand, is looking to Finkel to find a way to his own absolution. While both men manipulate the relationship in ways to benefit themselves, Finkel invests his entire reputation on Longo and an interesting dialogue and drama ensues.

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University Hosts Conference Featuring Tony Award Winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson

SantiagohudsonOn Friday, April 17, Dr. Aaron X. Smith and Tony Award-winning actor, director and playwright, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, hosted a race conference on “Using Popular Culture and Media for Accessing the Criminal System.”

Elaborating on his peace mission, Santiago-Hudson begins by speaking about African Americans living on the periphery, cultural intelligence, societal conformity, racial misrepresentation and police brutality. It is undeniably true that when we ask questions about the history of this nation, educators and representatives often leave out the contributions that African Americans, and minorities as a whole, have made towards this country’s structure and work ethic. One part of Santiago-Hudson’s presentation was especially significant. He said, “When people profess history, they’re often the stars of that history.” So the question is: how do we include society in this peace mission? How do we spread awareness? 

Smith spoke mostly about media and hip-hop’s contribution to the pursuit of equal humanity. Well known music artists from the 90’s like Tupac and Biggie Smalls rapped about African American legacy and the pursuit of justice, but hip-hop is not always viewed with respect because people cannot think outside of the destructive paradigm of today’s society. Hip-hop is the only one telling the story, and it is the same system of paradigm that highlights only the negative. With police brutality—a subject that is especially familiar to us with the current injustices performed by our law enforcement—we now take a look at how blacks are misrepresented. We hear it all the time on the news: Ferguson, Mike Brown, the recent shooting of Eric Harris. It is the negative images that society places on people of color that allows authority to brutalize them. 

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Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu