Last updateFri, 19 Jun 2020 7pm


Sonic the Hedgehog Drops its Rings

Sonic HedgehogAdmittedly, I was never really good at Sonic the Hedgehog (Uncharted on the other hand, I let my three platinum trophies do the talking). In Sonic 2, I had a hard time zipping around the map and I’d always drop my rings everywhere. Sonic’s movie is like me behind the Genesis controller: it’s a little all over the place.

After playing a game of baseball by himself, Sonic causes an electrical power outage in the small town where he lurks. To find the source of the power outage, the government hires Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carey, who will stop at nothing to destroy Sonic. While on the run from Robotnik, Sonic befriends the town’s local cop, played by James Marsden, and the two set off for an adventure.

Before we zoomed here, Paramount released a trailer last April that stunned fans around the world. Their initial design of Sonic was terrifying, for the hedgehog had sharp teeth, disconnected eyes, and an ultra slim body. After a $5 million redesign and a pushback date, we now have a more friendly looking Sonic (who can probably sell a lot of plushies).

While Sonic looks good along with the other nice CGI in the film, that’s pretty much the only bright spot. I mean let’s face it; it’s a videogame movie about a character from the 90’s. How good do you expect this thing to be?

The plot is all over the place, as Sonic asks the “Donut Lord” cop to get him to the mushroom land where the mother owl who protected him as a child told him to go to when in danger (you read that right). There’s also an Olive Garden joke that comes full circle, an intense Jim Carrey dance sequence, guacamole quips, and plenty of Sonic flossing. Yes, it truly has the makings of a videogame film.

As for Carrey, he’s just what you’d expect. Carrey’s completely over-the-top and eccentric in his role, but it does look like he had fun.

If I was five-years-old, I would’ve eaten this up and that’s who it’s for, not so much the original Sonic fans who are probably in their thirties now. It’s a kids movie and I’m sure it’ll ignite a new love for the little hedgehog. I’ll just go back to Uncharted, because at least I’m good at that.

IMAGE TAKEN from Reddit

Justin Bieber Goes Through Changes

Justin BieberOntario-born pop icon Justin Bieber graced the world on Valentine’s Day with his newest record, Changes. The Canadian singer has come a long way from the days of sideswept hair and My World 2.0. Back in the days of songs like ‘Baby’ and ‘One Time,’ I was a simple middle schooler fiending on the likes of Green Day and Blink-182; so Bieber wasn’t my scene. To me, he was another teen icon pumping out generically catchy pop songs to a mainstream audience. That Justin is no longer the Justin we see on Changes. “People change. Circumstances change. But God always remains the same,” says the now 25-year-old singer in the closing measures of the new album’s title track.

Changes is the first new release from Bieber since he announced his musical hiatus last spring. In March 2019, Bieber announced through his Instagram account that he would be taking a break from music to fix “deep rooted issues” he has been dealing with, as well as a desire to work on his marriage with Hailey Baldwin. Changes is an explosion of emotional honesty and genuinity in which Bieber closes a proverbial door on the person he once was; the “rebellious playboy and pop maximalist,” according to Apple Music.

Stylistically, Changes also marks a departure from the pop stylings that put Bieber on the map, in favor of a more modern pop sound fit for the world of 2020. Bieber delivers a sublime hook against a blues-inspired guitar lick on ‘E.T.A.’ The opening track, ‘All Around Me,’ reverberates with dreamy guitars and synths under Bieber singing about how he never thought he could be “loyal to someone other than myself.”

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Gemini Coming to Woods Theatre

Gemini ManWith a towering, eroded brick apartment setting the stage, Monmouth’s Woods Theatre gets a slice of blue-collar South Philadelphia for the Department of Music and Theatre Arts production of Albert Innaurato’s 1976 dramedy, Gemini.

Directed by Jack Burke, Ph.D. Director of Theatre Arts, and Katherine Fernandez, Assistant Director the ’70s-set Gemini revolves around the 21st birthday of Harvard student Francis Geminiani (Anthony DeFilippo). On the eve of the big day, Geminiani is surprised by his two Ivy-league chums, privileged siblings Judith (London Jones) and Randy Hastings (Riley Anderson), who pitch a tent in Francis’ South Philly backyard.

Culture shock to them, the Hastings are thrown into the loud world of Francis’ father, laborer Fran Geminiani (Joe Marano), and Fran’s widowed girlfriend Lucille Pompi (Samantha Ventola & Dominique Lengyel). In the adjoining home resides the wild Bunny Weinberger (Emily Woods) and her asthmatic son, Herschel (Nick Sewell). Chaos and hilarity ensue for everyone, especially the birthday boy, who has serious self-reflection to do upon the Hastings’ arrival.

Tackling topics of cultural division, familial conflict, sexuality, and more, Gemini is packed with meaning. When the cast members rehearse, they channel excellent levels of energy and professionalism to execute each character with intention and style.

Burke selected the show because of its ability to challenge the cast in material and emotional depth.

On the impact of the show, Burke described universal goals for Gemini’s characters, “They’re all looking for a way to be happy, but they don’t know how to yet. They need to be true to themselves, but they still haven’t found that truth.”

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Aurora Robson: Inquire Within

Aurora Robson 1Canadian-American artist Aurora Robson gave a lecture on her experiences cultivating works for her exhibit Inquire Within at the Wilson Hall Auditorium last Friday night, Feb. 7. The exhibit is being hosted at DiMattio Gallery in Rechnitz Hall until March 13.

Robson creates sculptures, paintings, and collages focusing on themes relating to the environment and humanity’s impact on it. She uses junk mail, plastic bottles, and other single-use everyday items as a medium. Robson’s work calls attention to the vast amounts of plastic pollution that is taking place on our planet, but she does not necessarily view the climate denial movement as something that has influenced her to make a statement in her work: “I don’t know that it has [influenced me]. I think it’s like when people want to say negative or derogatory or inflammatory things; if you focus on that, it will derail you,” said Robson. “I don’t know if I’d call [climate denial] a movement. I feel like I would call it the opposite; it’s like a wrench in the gears.”

According to Robson, her work is a part of a “love-based” fight, which is a narrative she values having in her current Hudson Valley residence, where she feels most of her fellow community members, “do not really understand why I do what I do.” The goal of this “fight,” according to Robson, is to convince “people to do things that are kinder and better for themselves and each other.”

The Toronto-born artist grew up in Hawaii, where she struggled with a rough home life throughout her childhood. “It was this beautiful paradise, with a wonderful landscape that I got to exist in while my father was in and out of jail, and my personal home life was very frightening,” said Robson.

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CRJ Gets Sassy In 'Let's Be Friends'

CRJ Gets SassyAh, it’s that time of the year where love is in the air as lovers exchange roses, teddy bears, and chocolate covered strawberries (or raisins if you want to be a little extra romantic). Meanwhile, the Queen of Pop Carly Rae Jepsen is out here cancelling Valentine’s Day with her new single ‘Let’s Be Friends.’

The single’s title may send shivers up your spine, because you know the only time you hear those cringey words are when it’s time to break up. Sometimes being friends might be the most civil solution at the end of the day, but Jepsen smashes those words with a sledge hammer.

Throughout, the Queen points out the telling signs that the end is near, for it’s a, “Black dress occasion/Nobody’s dying/It’s a dinner not a date.” Then when it’s time to ask for the check, Jepsen launches into the chorus with, “Let’s be friends/And never speak again/It’s cool/We can just pretend we’re friends.”

It’s like every line is dripping with sarcasm and a little giggle behind it. Usually people cry or try to make it work when they hear those words, but Jepsen lays the sauce on thick and acknowledges that she ain’t gonna put in a lick of effort. She even adds spice into the backing vocals of the chorus with, “See you never.”

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Hayley Williams Releases Para(more) Solo Music

Hayley WilliamsMany artists in bands make the decision to embark on a solo career, and Hayley Williams is not ‘The Only Exception.’ Once again, she’s in the business of misery and taking it from the top—but this time, she’s doing it under a new brand.

On Jan. 22, Williams dropped her debut single called ‘Simmer.’ The gloomy instrumentals, eerie vocals, and emotional lyrics took a few listens to grow on me. I can’t help but drum along to the beat each listen, as they remind me of the drums in ‘Let the Flames Begin’ and ‘Part II’ right from Paramore’s discography. In fact, all of her songs are extremely drum and bass driven.

She has released four more songs since then—‘Cinnamon,’ ‘Leave it Alone,’ ‘Creepin,’ and ‘Sudden Desire.’ They all fall under the first half of her album called Petals for Armor Part I, with the rest of the album to be released on May 8. Each rage-filled song gnaws at her ex-husband, guitarist Chad Gilbert from the band New Found Glory. They also illustrate the very-real themes of guilt, grief, and vulnerability.

For the most part, I found Williams’ music to sound clumsily experimental, with her odd music videos following suit by resembling mini horror movies. Her music strays far from Paramore’s emo, alternative rock sound that pulled in their fans. Her new music can be described as “dark pop,” almost like Paramore meets Billie Eilish.

Hayley has promised fans in the past that she would never go solo, but she seems incredibly proud to slip out of the Paramore mold for a while and experiment with her own individual sound. And I give her props for that.

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Parasite Wins Best Picture: What it Means for World Cinema

Parasite WinsIn his acceptance speech for Parasite’s Best Foreign Langauge Film win at this year’s Golden Globes a month ago, director Bong Joon Ho told the Hollywood Foreign Press and Americans watching at home, “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

After Parasite’s shockingly historic Best Picture win at the Oscars along with others victories in directing, foreign film, and screenplay, it seems as though we have finally overcome that tiny barrier.

Since its inception 92 years ago, the Oscars has been known for mainly recognizing Hollywood’s most popular films or other domestic releases in their major categories. There have been times when international films squeezed their way into the Best Picture category (Amor in 2012 and last year’s Roma), but none had a shot going up against Hollywood’s most powerful films and people.

Plus, mainstream audiences typically shut out the entire international film genre. Many don’t want to “read a movie” with subtitles, nor do they care for anything without star power or a big production. Despite having all these qualities, Parasite managed to break the glass ceiling.

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Robbie Soars In Birds of Prey

Robbie SoarsWe can all agree that Suicide Squad may have been one of the worst superhero movies in recent memory. The choppy editing, lazy script, ugly cinematography, and Jared Leto’s Joker made for two hours we’re still trying to get back. But out of this mess, the character Harley Quinn was born and her own spinoff film, Birds of Prey.

In the film, Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, is dumped by the Joker. Without his protection, all the people who were wronged by Quinn are out for her head (similar to John Wick Chapter 2). When deranged mobster Black Mask, played by Ewan McGregor, captures Quinn, he will let her go if she can get him a diamond. However, that diamond has been swallowed by pickpocket Cassandra and there are many others after it too.

Usually comic book movies are filled with fake CGI action and cheesy lines, but Prey turns the genre upside down. For the first time ever, I finally saw real stunts and hand-to-hand combat in a superhero movie. Throughout, Robbie puts her body on the line for crazy fist fights and she really gives it to the bad guys. Normally I sleep through typical Marvel action, but in this case I was saying, “Oh! Ah! Ouch! Yikes!” People might be annoyed around me, yet it means the action is doing its job.

On top of the action, it’s loud, obnoxious, and a lot of fun. Director Cathy Yan’s style is bold, as colors pop off the screen and captions fly in and out of shots. Just by looking at Quinn, it’s clear that all the characters wear funky clothing like their outfits were too obnoxious to get into a disco. There are also moments where Quinn blows up a chemical plant with gorgeous rainbow fireworks and when she uses a paintball canon that’s loaded with confetti bullets. It’s like a Picasso painting threw up on the screen, but it’s strangely beautiful to look at.

Although there are many instances where you could shake your head, the film is just too fun. Usually I rip on comic book movies, but Birds of Prey managed to swoop my heart (and brain) away.

IMAGE TAKEN from Devian Art

Black Like Me: An Exploration of the Word N-

Black Like Me 1When I walked into Pollak Theatre, my generation’s hip-hop and rap songs were playing over the sound system. I sat down and was subtly grooving to the music and mouthing the lyrics, except the “N” word, which was said repeatedly and not censored out. I thought “Ooh this is gonna be good, they have a good playlist to start out with.” Little did I know that people like me, sitting there and singing along to the songs, were the reason the performers chose that playlist.

After the music stopped and the stage went black, a video slideshow of African Americans’ lynchings was presented to the audience. Everyone went silent. You could physically feel the switch in the mood and energy of the room.

Then, a video of Jade Soloman Curtis, a dancer and choreographer and the mind behind Black Like Me, came onto the screen. She was talking to a man who was explaining the pain inflicted on slaves.

He discussed how for their first offense they would be branded on one shoulder, and their ears would be cut. For their second offense, their other shoulder would be branded and their hamstrings would be cut. These dark images stuck with me throughout the rest of the night.

Following the video slideshow, the screen projected grass waving in the wind. Jade laid on a box center-stage, in a beautiful, yet distressed white dress. Oddly, trap music was playing overhead, but it painted the scene that she intended: slavery.

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Gretal & Hansel Is Lost in the Woods

redditdotcomFairy tales are usually filled with magic and happy endings. The Ugly Duckling turned into a beautiful swan, Snow White woke up from the Prince’s kiss, and Shrek married Fiona. While Hansel & Gretel was never really the most uplifting tale (ya know, with the witch burning in the oven at the end), director Oz Perkins’ adaptation makes the tale a little bit stranger, a lot more artsy, and adds a feminist angle.

In this version renamed Gretel & Hansel, Gretel, played by Sophia Lillis of It fame, is the big sister who looks over her little brother, Hansel, played by Sammy Leakey. When their single mother can no longer afford to feed her kids, she kicks them out to find a better life. After days of walking in the woods and tripping on some shrooms (like I said, it’s stranger), they eventually stumble upon a witch’s house filled with delicious food. You remember the rest from when you were five.

For something that clocks in at under 90 minutes, the film feels like its lost in the woods. Normally these movies are fast paced, but when it comes to stretching out a story that can be told in 12 minutes, you can take an axe to this movie and still chop off a half hour of wasted time.

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Four Year Strong Gives Us 'Brain Pain'

diffuserdotfmMassachusetts melodic hardcore punkers Four Year Strong have released two singles from their new album Brain Pain which is due out Feb. 28 via Pure Noise Records. The singles, ‘Talking Myself in Circles,’ and the title track ‘Brain Pain,’ are the first new songs to be released by the band since their 2015 self-titled release.

In the interim, the band released a 10 year anniversary edition of their iconic 2007 release, Rise or Die Trying, as well as 2017’s Some of You Will Like This, Some of You Won’t, which featured a selection of songs from the band’s catalogue rearranged acoustically.

‘Brain Pain’ starts with a downtuned guitar chugging along to a polyrhythmic beat, courtesy of drummer Jake Massucco. I’ve yet to hear polyrhythms in Four Year Strong’s style until now; I’m hoping the rest of the record will have moments similar to this. The song kicks into high-gear with a downbeat-laden verse, before guitarists and vocalists Alan Day and Dan O’Connor soar into the chorus with relatable lyrics about anxiety. With a title like ‘Brain Pain,’ I wouldn’t be surprised if mental health was a central theme within the lyrics of this record.

The fast-punk stylings give way to a quiet verse, with clean-toned reverberating guitars painting the track with a fantastical splash of noise. “I want to glow in the shadow; I want to shimmer enough to fade away,” sing Day and O’Connor as the swelling noise gives way to what Four Year Strong does best: low, slow riffage against scathing harmonies. ‘Brain Pain’ is a song that will be electrifying mosh pits during the band’s 2020 touring schedule.

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Contact Information

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

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

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151