Last updateWed, 04 Dec 2019 3pm


“Thor: The Dark World” Brings the Hammer Down

The Nordic god Thor is back again with the release of “Thor: The Dark World.” After the events that happened in New York in “The Avengers,” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to Asgard to face his father (Anthony Hopkins), Odin, and prove he is worthy of the throne.

The question on most people’s minds going into this movie is what will happen with Thor and Jane (Natalie Portman)? As you remember, Jane is the girl that Thor fell in love with before he had to return to Asgard to deal with Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Do not worry! This will be addressed in “Thor: The Dark World” and there will be more barriers in Thor’s way. Thor will have to deal with new conflicts and fight an old enemy.

Along with the ongoing problem with what to do with Loki, Thor states that he had learned to not trust him or give him any more chances. Unfortunately, a problem arises that is not Loki’s fault and Thor needs to fix this or Loki will be the least of his problems. In fact, Thor will need Loki’s help in order to deal with this new threat.

Thor’s adopted brother, Loki, is back because they just cannot seem to get rid of him. Loki has to be judged by Odin and punished for what he did in New York. Thor’s reluctance to completely stop trusting Loki may prove to be a problem for Thor in the end.

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Students Shine in “The Laramie Project”

It was a cold winter night when the Department of Music and Theatre Arts produced Moises Kaufman’s play, “The Laramie Project” on Thursday, Nov. 8. Rest assured, the audience’s mood in the Lauren K. Woods Theatre was quite the opposite.

This particular production follows Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project as they conducted hundreds of interviews with the people from Laramie, WY following the fatal beating of homosexual, University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard.

Many of the selected interviews range from eye-witness accounts to those affected personally by Matthew’s death. This analytical, yet touching perspective play examines the social and moral ramifications of the beating while delving into more widespread, controversial topics, which includes the obscene social stigma directed towards homosexuals. The cast, comprised of University students, carefully crafts the narrative through each individual’s interpretation of the interviewees.

To some, the subject matter that the production is based upon may make it seem a little dark and discomforting. That’s the beauty of the actor’s interpretation, the personalities in the play are portrayed as stereotypical and over-zealous to alleviate the seriousness. One particular character, named Doc O’Connor, played by junior Brandon Wiener, brings some humor to the stage as the elderly, east coast accented cab driver who babbles about the beauty of the mid-west while wearing his trademark flat cap. In regard to comedic content, his ability to work the audience is gold.

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PlayStation 4: More Than Just Video Games

For those of you keeping up with the video game industry, this year has surely been an exciting one. Next week marks the launch of the PlayStation 4 (PS4), Sony Computer Entertainment’s fourth home video game console in its PlayStation line of products.

Launching Nov. 15th, eager PlayStation fans will be lining up to storefronts the night (or day) before, hoping to secure their own console and games.

Sony has high expectations for their new console, with sales expected to exceed five million units by the end of the company’s fiscal year on March 31, 2014. This is the biggest system launch to come since the release of the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 in late 2006.

Pre-order numbers for PS4 are much greater than past consoles, with millions of people (including myself) ordering at either online or in-store locations; this is even more sweet due to the $400 price tag, an unexpected move from Sony. Many industry analysts anticipated the system to launch at $500, so the cheaper price point is much appreciated.

If you are interested in the system and did not secure your own pre-order, fear not! During an interview on “Fox Business,” Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Jack Tretton reassured fans “We’re holding back some inventory to make sure people have an opportunity to buy one, come launch day…. Production yields have been phenomenal.”

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Justin Timberlake Rocks IZOD Center

Justin Timberlake grooved his way to the hearts of thousands of fans at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ for the second date of his solo “20/20 Experience World Tour” on Saturday, Nov. 11. With his slicked-back hair, Christian Louboutin flats, Tom Ford designed suits, playful charm and impeccable musical ability, Timberlake embraced the essence of the ‘30s and swooned the crowd from 9 pm until midnight.

By not having to share the stage alongside rap-sensation Jay-Z with their “Legends of the Summer Tour,” Timberlake seized the opportunity to individually embody what it meant to be an entertainer.

The Weeknd opened for Timberlake on a smaller, front-facing stage with his “reign of seduction,” as fans like to say, starting at 8 pm. His intoxicating melodies and flawless vocal arrangements were displayed in songs including “Wicked Games,” “The Morning,” and “Remember You.” The Weeknd’s dark and damaged lyrics resonated with some of the deeper, post break-up songs that were scattered throughout Timberlake’s performance, including “What Goes Around… Comes Around.”

Timberlake’s flirty and suave performance opened up with “Pusher Love Girl,” a single off of The 20/20 Experience. His voice graced the crowd, free of any strain, while his dance moves upheld an equal rhythmic elegance.

Timberlake showcased his abilities by playing the keyboard and guitar while singing along simultaneously.

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Arcade Fire’s “Reflecktor” Explores Genres

Where does “indie rock” end and “freakin’ huge rock band” begin? For Arcade Fire, the biggest little band in the world right now, you could argue multiple points. Some might say it’s selling out Madison Square Garden (twice), and others would argue winning Album of the Year at the Grammy’s is the point of no return. Which one is it?

Well, neither. The real tipping point – the moment where Arcade Fire really embraced being larger than life – is “Reflektor,” the group’s flashiest, grandest, and most bloated album to date. And guess what? It’s awesome for it!

“Big” is nothing new for a group like Arcade Fire. The band’s penchant for diverse instrumentation and fitting as many band members as you can on one stage certainly doesn’t scream modest, and their albums, from their profound, genre-defining debut “Funeral” to their Grammy-winning achievement “The Suburbs,” exhibited emotional and musical maximalism at its most sincere.

Yet when Arcade Fire goes the distance on “Reflektor,” their genre-bending, meticulously produced new double-album,  it feels different than it did in the past.  Arcade Fire’s previous work had a sort of underdog-level grandness to them, like this “little” indie band was pushing itself as far as they can go and constantly beating the odds to achieve greatness.

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Students Tackle Real-Life Tragedy in Fall Play

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the tragedy against a member of the LGBT community, Matthew Sheppard, which took place in Laramie, Wyoming. In recognition of the anniversary, The Department of Music and Theatre Arts presents “The Laramie Project” as this year’s fall play.

“The Laramie Project” is a collection of interviews, gathered by members of the Tectonic Theatre Project, of family members, friends, neighbors, and more that were affected in some way by Matthew Sheppard’s death. The play was written by Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Company. The play is brought to Monmouth by director Dr. John Burke, professor of Theatre Arts.

When picking the play, Dr. Burke not only did it due to the anniversary date, but he had his actors’ benefit in mind. He said, “It’s a very different style of acting that [the students] haven’t experienced, and they should have a chance at it.”

Dr. Burke has also taken on the challenge of working with a very big cast. Fourteen students will perform the 60 roles in the play, and whether big or small, each are a totally different character that the students will have to portray as their own. Burke said, “Every one of these characters gives you another perspective on what happened, and some of them give you a real sense of tragedy…and some of them give you a sense of prejudice that is still in the town.”

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Daring Docu-series Deals With Death

“She’s like not breathing and she’s blue and like stiff and like f***ing dead,” Nicole, a 25 year old woman, said to the 911 operator asking why she thinks her mother is dead.

This is the abrupt opening of Showtime’s new documentary series, “Time of Death.” If you’re looking for a good cry, this mini-series will do the trick. The premiere alone was hard to watch (I had to stop multiple times), but it’s amazing. Each episode follows two terminally ill people.

Every week we see Maria, a middle aged woman with three children and stage IV breast cancer. Statistically, Maria is alive well after what science would predict. She mentioned, “Don’t believe everything you read” after citing that the American Cancer Society predicts that someone in her position has about 18 months to live. She has survived four years with her diagnosis. It almost makes a viewer feel hopeful until you remember that no one on this show is getting a happy ending.

Each episode also follows a secondary person whose storyline is contained to just one episode. The premiere follows Michael, 47, a war veteran diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer usually found in pediatric patients. While Maria doesn’t look sick to the unsuspecting stranger, Michael is pale and gaunt, restricted to a wheel chair and forced to have a nasal cannula (a tube under his nose) for oxygen.

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Blue Hawk Records Fundraises Online

While some were trick or treating on Oct. 31, Blue Hawk Records was launching an online campaign to raise funds to record a new album. Bake sales are fun, but Blue Hawk Records, the University’s very own record label, realized there might be a slightly cooler way to raise money. The young label has been campaigning on to raise $500 for a new album.

Crowd sourced fundraising websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been proven to be successful, especially for artists trying to fund creative projects. Artists make a video selling their product and then ask for donations. Donors receive perks established by the artist, which can be anything from a free download to a personal concert.

Browsing through Indiegogo is kind of like watching an explosion of creativity. It’s just a collective of creative people with numerous ideas, all of which need funding.

Some artists are famous, such as We the Kings, a band who used Indiegogo to raise almost $150,000 for their fourth studio album (and first independent release).

Plenty are far from famous and just raise money based on a cool idea: Robert Morrison is a New York businessman who managed to fund his idea for wireless, waterproof speakers called Rebel Speakers.

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Katy Perry Spreads Light Through “Prism”

Katy Kats all around the country were roaring with excitement last Tuesday, Oct. 22. Katy Perry released her third album, “Prism,” in hopes of showing her fans a more vulnerable and mature side.

Perry is shedding her bubblegum, cotton-candy image that she created for herself with her 2010 album, “Teenage Dream,” to show everyone she is growing up and to spread the light of positivity.

Some may be sad that she burned her blue wig, but this is the Katy we’ve all been waiting for. She’s finally living in the present and acting her age.

“Teenage Dream” debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, and it became the first album ever by a woman to have five number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Can she top it?

According to Billboard, “Katy Perry is on course for her second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as her latest release, ‘Prism,’ should easily top the tally next week with her best sales week ever.”

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Web Series Worth Watching

YouTube is a myriad of things to watch, from cats playing the piano to the philosophical argument of what sound a fox makes. However, scripted web series have been making a lot of waves in recent years. Figuring out what’s worth watching in the crazy smorgasbord of YouTube can be tough, though. So here the scripted series worth watching on YouTube.

1. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Guys, it won an Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. A YouTube web series without any famous names won one of the highest honors in television. Needless to say, this retelling of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” has caused a lot of waves all over the internet.

Lizzie Bennet is now a twenty-first century communications student who created a vlog as part of her thesis project. Through the vlog, she tells us about her life. Lizzie reenacts scenes from her life with her sisters and friends, telling viewers about her crazy mother and her obnoxious new neighbor, William Darcy. It’s smart, funny and heartwarming.

2. WIGS This is technically not an individual series but an entire channel of fantastic scripted web series, to the point where I can’t just pick out one. Sometimes you can tell when a channel has a lot of money. When a channel has names like Jennifer Garner, America Ferrera and Anna Paquin, you know someone is definitely funneling a lot of money into this. This leads to professional quality, though.

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An Evening with Jake Shimabukuro and Keller Williams

The stage was lit up by dim, blue lights, and held a few guitars, a rug, and a loop tool machine. This was the setup for Keller Williams, when he and Jake Shimabukuro co-headlined at Pollack Theatre on Friday, Oct. 25.

The theater was about half full, with an audience that ranged from freshman college students to middle age adults. A lot of the audience members wore Hawaiian shirts or puca-shell necklaces, which fit with the atmosphere due to the headliner being famous for playing the ukulele. When I heard that the main act was famous for strumming the playful Hawaiian instrument, I assumed that the concert would be very chill and possibly a bit boring. I was completely wrong.

Williams walked barefoot onto the stage while playing his acoustic guitar and went on to play two songs. At the end of the second song, he introduced us to the glue of his entire act: his loop machine. A loop machine is a device that can record multiple instruments at a time and play it back to create layers for the song. Williams did this for us live on stage. His ability to use the loop machine was extremely unique, as were his songs.

Williams showed that he has a great sense of humor when one of his songs started with a loud “Oh no! I just remembered I left a doobie in my pocket…” His songs also consisted of a wide vocal range, although the higher notes were a bit pitchy at points. He used the levels of his voice as sound effects in later songs by using the amazing machine.

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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