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Last updateWed, 14 Oct 2020 1pm

Entertainment

Breaking Dawn’s Fantastic Finale

Fans all over have been waiting for the premiere of the epic conclusion to The Twilight Saga’s Breaking Dawn: Part Two. The first part of the fourth movie left fans with the long-awaited turning of Bella into a vampire, complete with the opening of her eyes to reveal their blood-red color.

Part two picks up where the last one left off. Bella is now awake and is looking at her surroundings with her super-enhanced vampiric sight, until her focus rests on Edward. The couple has a tender reunion, only to turn humorous as Bella crushes Edward in a hug with her newborn vampire strength. She is then reunited with the rest of the Cullen family in addition to Jacob Black and Renesmee, her daughter. The rest of the movie follows Bella and the crew as they adjust to their new lives and worry over the fate of the rapidly-growing Renesmee. There is then the threat of the powerful vampire government, the Volturi, who believe that Bella’s daughter could pose a danger to all vampires.

 Fans of both the books and the movies alike will be delighted with this final installment of the saga. The action of the film followed the novel almost perfectly, and paced the action in a way that held the audience’s interest. As in the other movies, the setting was beautifully done, and the cinematography captures the essence of the area in which these characters live. The actors put on a solid performance, making you see past the hype around Stewart and Pattinson’s personal lives and focus entirely on their characters. Not only were the main cast members phenomenal in their performance but so were the supporting cast members, including Mackenzie Foy, the little girl chosen to portray Renesmee.

The young girl did a surprisingly good job at remaining serious in her role, acting wiser beyond her years and fulfilling an image readers all over the world have had in their heads. Expectations like that can be tough on anyone, let alone an eleven year old, but Foy shines in her role.

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Green Day’s Second Strike

entertainment-dosTime sure flies, doesn’t it? It seems like it was less than two months ago that I was reviewing the last album from Green Day. Oh wait, it was less than two months ago.

Back in September, we saw the release of “¡Uno!”, an alleged “return to form” for Green Day that really just amounted to a mostly watered-down, sterilized attempt for the band to reclaim their glory years, with only a few worthwhile moments to be found. Ultimately, Green Day couldn’t live up to the hype.

Now we find ourselves in November, and with the release of “¡Dos!”, the second installment of their “epic” trilogy, we can finally look past the hype and judge the album for what it really is: an almost completely watered down, sterilized attempt for the band to reclaim their glory years, with even less worthwhile moments to be found.

I honestly can’t say that I was surprised by this outcome in the slightest, as “¡Dos!”, along with the soon-to-come “¡Tre!”, were produced during the same sessions that spawned “¡Uno!”, a marathon of sorts by Green Day to write as many sub-par power-pop songs as they possibly can. Unfortunately, this means that “¡Dos!” suffers from nearly all of the same problems found on “¡Uno!”, only now, after just going through this ordeal less than two months ago, it feels like insult to injury, like getting slapped on your already sunburned back.

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Student Spotlight: Mike Burke and Suburban Cliché

The Outlook recently had the opportunity to interview Michael Burke, sophomore music industry major, about his experience as a musician. He plays the guitar in the rock band Suburban Cliché alongside Cole Gallagher (vocals, guitar), Frank Toledano (vocals, bass), and Tom Bell (drums).

The Outlook: How did you first get started in music?

Michael Burke: I remember first getting started in music around 6th grade. Like in a lot of elementary schools, everyone got to play their little recorders and learn jingle bells during Christmas, but nothing really more than that. It was a small school and we didn’t have a ton of funding for the art programs. I remember wanting to do a little more than play a few notes on a squeaky plastic toy, so I took private saxophone lessons through a program after school. I couldn’t stand the saxophone; I only stuck with it long enough to play one school concert and quit after that. A little while passed, and I remember my dad casually telling me to mess around on a guitar, just to pick it up and get a feel even if I didn’t know how to play. I remember sitting in my den strumming the guitar, open string and awful sounding, just getting the beat to some Bruce songs. From there on, it just progressed a little more each time until I was actually playing some notes and chords.

The Outlook: What instrument do you play?

MB: Guitar is my most comfortable instrument. I’ve been playing it for about 6 years now. I also play bass, drums, and piano.

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Taylor Swift Shows Many Colors on “Red”

Taylor Swift is perplexingly amazing. Her lyrics aren’t phenomenal, her melodies are predictable and her voice is only average. Yet, somehow, she still always manages to churn out an album that I will listen to on repeat for weeks. She continues this trend with her latest effort, “Red.”

The Pennsylvania native’s fourth studio album is titled “Red” because the moments in her life that she writes about are all moments that she sees in the color.  In her album booklet, Swift has a prologue where she explains the moments that inspired the album: “These are moments of newfound hope, extreme joy, intense passion, wishful thinking, and in some cases, the unthinkable letdown. And in my mind, every one of these memories looks the same to me. I see all of these moments in bright, burning, red.”

The country singer hasn’t just been influenced by pop music; she has started writing with some of the best names in pop. Swedish producers Max Martin and Shellback co-wrote three songs with Swift: “I Knew You Were Trouble.”, “22”, and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Martin and Shellback have collaborated with Pink, Adam Lambert and Britney Spears.

Taylor Swift, while she sells to the same demographic, isn’t really the same type of pop star. She has typically strayed away from synthesizer driven, overproduced tracks. Those three tracks are all very heavy on the electronic elements, and they don’t sound like typical Taylor Swift songs.

The Max Martin songs are irritatingly high pitched and repetitive. Yet, they have helped her sell records. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was the first and only single released before the album dropped and Swift sold 1.2 million records in her first sales week alone. It was the largest sales week for an individual album in a decade, according to Billboard.

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A 17th Century Play with Timeless Value

No matter when you were born, whether you like or don’t like theater, you probably know the name ‘William Shakespeare’. He is arguably the greatest playwright of all time, and his works are very well known, but are his works are still relevant?

The University’s honor school recently sponsored a trip to see Shakespeare’s Henry V at the Two River Theater Company. Honor students, especially those in the first year clusters, were allowed to attend free of charge.

Kevin Dooley, Dean of the Honors School, felt this was a very important experience for the students, especially in today’s political climate. “Political dramas always have the same themes of intrigue, revenge and justice, whether we’re talking about Henry V or Julius Caesar,” Dooley said. “Good literature has many layers. Shakespeare wrote for the comman man and expressed very human themes.”

The play is about King Henry the Fifth’s fight to become the rightful heir of France. Though he is already the King of England, he can lay claim to the French throne since some of his ancestors had been French nobles. He’s also coerced to go to war by the Catholic Church, who would make a large financial contribution to support the war if Henry pursues the French throne, but that is only because they want to distract him from passing a new law that requires the church to give up much of its money and land to the crown.

Jeffrey Jackson, assistant professor of English, particularly enjoys the timelessness of this play. “With Henry V, you also have a play about the role war plays in our overall perception of a leader, an issue that remains timely and controversial. During World War II, the play was celebrated for its patriotism in the face of Nazism’s threat. We’re a little more ambivalent about war now, especially when it’s seen as bolstering a ruler’s power or popularity, so the play continues to hit a nerve. Henry V is the story of the young, wastrel son who is forced to grow up when he inherits the throne and does so through war: I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere down the road we get an adaptation set in the Bush-Cheney White House!” said Jackson.

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Strong Characters Dominate Red Dawn

Movies with as many explosions as Red Dawn are not supposed to make me want to cry. Yet that’s what happened with this movie. This is an action flick with a lot of heart and it exceeded my expectations.

The film depicts a small town in Washington that has just been invaded by North Korea. A group of young adults escape capture and form a retaliation team known as the Wolverines. The Wolverines don’t blow everything up simply for fun (though they have a lot of awesome explosions). These teenagers are fighting for their lives and their country.

They follow Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth), a marine on leave from Iraq. Jed teaches his brother Matt (Josh Peck) and his friends how to be soldiers. Hemsworth is fantastic as a jaded marine. He immediately goes into soldier mode when their town is attacked, and he keeps his emotional brother Matt in check. Matt thinks more with his heart than his head, and, as high school quarterback, he isn’t used to having someone else call the shots.

As Matt, Peck has a lot of dramatic material to work with. It’s easy to have doubts about casting him in a dramatic role, since he’s most known for his roles in Nickelodeon comedies such as “Drake and Josh”. As it turns out, Peck can bring on the tears just as well as the laughter. He is really the character that has the more emotional role in this film. While Jed puts up a cold, stoic front due to his training, Matt reacts with sorrow and anger to the ones he loves being killed or captured, much like anyone would.

However, Peck is kind of shoved in the corner of the movie poster. He really carries the movie just as much as Hemsworth, but it seems like advertisers thought that the newfound fame and success of Thor’s Chris Hemsworth and The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson would bring in more viewers. It’ll be very disappointing for any teenage girls on Team Peeta who discover that Hutcherson’s part as Robert is rather minor.

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Award Winning Writer Inspires Hawks

entertainment-meena-alexanderMeena Alexander, internationally renowned poet and scholar, spoke at the University on Tuesday, October 16 as part of the Visiting Writers series. A huge crowd filled the Wilson Auditorium with students, faculty and members of the surrounding community.

Alexander, who was raised in India and Sudan, currently lives and works in New York City, though she taught at several universities in India prior to that.

She earned her PhD in romantic literature from Nottingham University at the age of 22. She is currently a distinguished professor involved with the Masters of Fine Arts degree in creative writing program at Hunter College and the English PhD program at the City University of New York graduate center. 

According to her website, “She is the author of six volumes of poetry including Illiterate Heart (winner of the PEN Open Book Award), Raw Silk and Quickly Changing River. She is the editor of The Everyman Library’s Indian Love Poems. She has written the acclaimed autobiography Fault Lines (picked by Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of the year) as well as two novels, one of which is Nampally Road (A VLS Editor’s choice).”

She has also been given the 2009 Distinguished Achievement Award in Literature from the South Asian Literary Association.

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American Horror Story: Asylum Delivers Tricks & Treats

entertainment-american-horror-storyIf you’re in need of a good scare, blood or kinky sex, you’ll be happy to know that American Horror Story returned to FX last week. The thriller has adapted an anthology format, meaning each season will be one self-contained story. A different season means different characters, places and stories (but expect some of the same actors). This season, aptly subtitled Asylum, focuses on Briarcliff Manor, a mental institution in the 1960s.

The show opens with present day newlyweds Leo (Adam Levine) and Teresa (Jenna Dewan Tatum) entering the abandoned asylum on the last stop of their honeymoon. The trip included visiting the 12 most haunted places in America and having sex in each.

After they realize that Briarcliff is legitimately haunted, the show flashes back to 1964. Kit Walker (Evan Peters) is committed after supposedly killing and skinning numerous people, including his wife. However, he can’t remember murdering anyone; he only remembers aliens probing him.

AsAmerican Horror Storydid with their first season, they have tons of subplots that are incredibly interesting but hard to track. The subplot involving a reporter investigating the asylum but quickly getting herself committed was predictable.

However, other plotlines are much more mysterious. What lives in the woods and needs to be fed every night? What is Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) doing to patients without family that causes them to die suddenly? Every character has a storyline, each one more enigmatic than the last.

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Heavenly Howls Heard at The Saint

entertainment-sea-wolfMonmouth County is full of legendary venues; few of those places, though, have the charm and renown of The Saint. This bar is considered the center of the local music scene. Nationally recognized bands, from Lifehouse and Red Wanting Blue to Sick Puppies, Creed and Incubus, come to perform here as well, often for a price that you just can’t beat.

Upon entering The Saint, I was immediately struck by the classic rock-venue décor. It’s a throwback to the era where the music scene was all that people talked about. The walls are lined with posters of the artists that have played there. It’s spacious enough to give everyone room to breathe, but it has a feeling of closeness- of people being brought together by the singular love of great live music.

That’s not to mention their state-of-the-art equipment. A full soundboard, stage and professional lighting bring the quality of a venue that should cost upwards of 100 dollars- but the tickets are typically no more than 15.

As part of their recent tour, Sea Wolf, along with Hey Marseilles performed at The Saint on Tuesday, November 16 alongside a local band called Underwater Country Club, 

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On Screen, In Person: Runaway

entertainment-on-screen-in-personThis last session of On Screen, In Person was the film Runaway directed by Amit Ashraf. This popular event took place in Wilson Auditorium on October 15. It was a great film that gave this reviewer and the audience multiple viewpoints.

Student Tara Cooney said the film was “enjoyable” while student Kevin Kaisian thought the film was “better than expected,” and the ending was a “crazy twist.”

“Enjoyable” might not be the word; “disturbing” was more appropriate, a word that even Professor Demirjian, the host of the presentation, used to describe the ending. Ashraf sought to show that evil can get away and he got his point across. 

Right away the audience is thrown into the film without any exposition about what is going on and who we are supposed to be paying attention to. It’s jarring, but so is the film, and it’s all the better for it.

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Batman Producer Michael Uslan Honored at Founder's Day

batman_headline_imageThe University recently had the honor of awarding the world’s first doctorate in fine arts with a special concentration in comic book literature to Michael Uslan, executive producer of every major Batman movie since 1989. Uslan delivered the convocation address at the University’s 79th founders day ceremony.

He also took time to speak with students beforehand, and autographed copies of his autobiography, “The Boy Who Loved Batman”, after the ceremony.

David Knotts, business management major, thought Uslan was a great inspiration. “It’s interesting to see how somebody who wasn’t involved with filmmaking got there by a different path,” said Knotts.

Uslan is a native New Jersey resident who grew up in Ocean Township, in Monmouth County. He got his start reading comic books, but really broke out into the industry when he began teaching comic book folklore, while pursuing his undergraduate degree at the University of Indiana. It was the first course to seriously discuss comic books in contemporary society.

His course, “The Comic Book in America,” dealt with the mythology, anthropology, psychology, and thought processes behind how a comic book is made and how it be became popular. This course brought him significant fame-eventually leading to him being contacted by Stan Lee.

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