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- 08/23/14--10:59: _MTV VMAs 2014 Previ...
- 08/23/14--11:13: _The Hunger Games ca...
- 08/23/14--11:21: _Deep breath, 'Docto...
- 08/23/14--11:48: _'The Brittany Murph...
- 08/23/14--11:59: _Kim Kardashian Is '...
- 08/23/14--12:21: _Taylor Swift Was ‘H...
- 08/23/14--12:22: _Celebrity Picture Post
- 08/23/14--12:22: _ONTD Original: When...
- 08/23/14--12:28: _Selfie pilot (starr...
- 08/23/14--12:38: _Floyd Mayweather Cl...
- 08/23/14--13:18: _REALLY!? Ian Somerh...
- 08/23/14--13:19: _Feminism In A Run-D...
- 08/23/14--13:19: _Joshua Jackson Says...
- 08/23/14--13:19: _Lil B- "Murder Rate...
- 08/23/14--13:19: _The Secret Tying Ma...
- 08/23/14--13:37: _Doctor Who: 8x02 "I...
- 08/23/14--13:49: _First 5 Minutes of ...
- 08/23/14--14:01: _Saturday roundup of...
- 08/23/14--15:07: _WTF!? Lil Wayne Nam...
- 08/23/14--15:35: _ Power Rangers Dino...
- 08/23/14--11:13: The Hunger Games cast/crew Ice Bucket Challenge round-up
- 08/23/14--11:48: 'The Brittany Murphy Story'- Trailer
- 08/23/14--11:59: Kim Kardashian Is 'Waist Training' With A Super-Tight Corset
- 08/23/14--12:21: Taylor Swift Was ‘Horrified’ To See John Mayer Again
- 08/23/14--12:22: Celebrity Picture Post
- 08/23/14--13:19: Feminism In A Run-Down Taffy Factory: The Women Of 'Bob's Burgers'
- 08/23/14--13:19: Lil B- "Murder Rate" Audio
- 08/23/14--13:37: Doctor Who: 8x02 "Into The Dalek" Promo + "Deep Breath" BTS
- 08/23/14--14:01: Saturday roundup of ALS Ice Bucket Challenges
- 08/23/14--15:07: WTF!? Lil Wayne Named Songwriter Of The Year
- 08/23/14--15:35: Power Rangers Dino Charge Cast Revealed at Power Morphicon
Before last year's MTV Video Music Awards, viewers had no idea what Miley Cyrus was about to unleash on the world, with her twerking and her flesh-colored latex bikini and her tongue wagging. But Dave Sirulnick did.
So heading into this year's VMAs, airing live Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on MTV, what does the veteran producer do to help create those show-stopping moments -- or to manage the ones that no one saw coming (we're looking at you, 2009 Kanye)?
"There are the planned surprises -- planned by us, but a surprise to the audience, which oftentimes is two people performing together who you didn't know until the show started, or something like that. And then, of course, there are the unplanned surprises, which are often very, very fun and we all remember them," Sirulnick told Billboard on Thursday during a press preview of the VMA stage at Inglewood, Calif.'s newly renovated Forum.
"As producers, I feel like what we try to do is work closely with the artists to give them the best platform to express themselves: who they are in that given moment, what they want to get across to their audience," he continued. "But at the same time, putting the right people in the room, all their peers, so the moments can happen. There's a comfort there -- so Beyonce choosing a few years ago to reveal to the world she's pregnant, there was a comfort there with her peers being there and welcoming the audience into that wonderful family moment.… And there's many, many times where we're sitting there watching it happen with the rest of the world, going, 'Oh, wow! OK!'"
One of those planned moments is Ariana Grande opening the show, playing her Zedd-assisted dance track "Break Free" as well as the super-diva anthem "Bang Bang" with Nicki Minaj and Jessie J. Grande teased that her "Break Free" performance won't stray too far from the song's Barbarella-channeling visual.
"It's gonna be within the realm of the video," she told Billboard on Tuesday. "It is space-themed, of course," noting that the vibe will be similar to the "space-glam" look of the mod astronaut helmet she wore for her recent Billboard cover.
Last year, Grande was playing the VMA pre-show, and now she's opening the whole thing. "I'm so excited to be included, but I'm just so nervous," she said. "I feel like I don't even want to process that I'm doing it until after, and then I'll be like, 'Oh, I did that! That's so crazy!'"
Maybe Charli XCX -- this year's pre-show performer -- can make the same leap next year. She told Billboard she's got big plans for her first moment in the VMA spotlight. "It's going to be lots of drumming," the "Boom Clap" singer promised. "Lots of drums, lots of leather, lots of feathers, lots of angels -- it's going to be amazing."
This is her first time going it alone at an awards show, after backing up Iggy Azalea on "Fancy" at the mtvU Woodie Awards, and she's feeling the pressure. "I'm quite nervous, to be honest, because the only awards show performance I did before was with Iggy, so it's a little different this time because it's my own song. But I'm very excited. I've put a lot of effort into it. I think it's going to be sick."
So who else is joining Grande, Minaj and Jessie J on the main stage? It's a mix of VMA vets -- including Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and Usher -- mixed with newcomers Sam Smith, Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora (performing their "Black Widow" duet), and 5 Seconds of Summer. Bey will be on hand not only to perform, but also to receive the Video Vanguard Award. Sirulnick said it's this dynamic of classic artists and rookies that makes the VMAs.
"A year ago at this time, a lot of people hadn't heard of Sam Smith. Some people had, but a lot of people hadn't heard of Iggy. A lot of people are just getting to know about Ariana Grande. And here they all are on this same stage with Beyonce, with Taylor Swift, with Usher," Sirulnick said. "And it's their chance to show everybody that they can bring it.
"There was a moment a few years ago when Taylor Swift was the new act. There was a moment when Beyonce was the new act. And obviously we've seen that some of their greatest moments have occurred at the VMAs, so now it's time for Sam Smith and for Ariana and for Iggy and see what they can do."
About that Beyonce performance: Sirulnick promises you're not going to want to miss a thing."Beyonce is a world-class talent, one of the great performers of our time, and she is going to be bringing something to this room, to this stage and to the viewers," the producer said. "She's going to be giving something to the viewers that no one's going to want to miss. You're not going to want to be the person the next day who's like, 'Oh no! I missed that.'"
Bey leads VMA nominations with eight nods this year, but we'll have to wait and see if she's Sunday's big winner. Check out the full list of nominees here. The VMA pre-show kicks off at 8 p.m. ET Sunday, followed by the main show at 9 on MTV.
When Steven Moffat titles an episode "Deep Breath," he isn't kidding.
For a program known for its harum-scarum pace and keep-up-or-shut-up iconography, the Season 8 Saturday premiere of BBC America's "Doctor Who" opens slowly — even with the T. rex — and radiates a newly modern self-consciousness, albeit dressed in Victorian garb. And for fans wondering how the series will accommodate the Doctor's regeneration from 31-year-old Matt Smith to 56-year-old Peter Capaldi, the answer is: Very Directly Indeed.
But first, that deep breath, which, after all the hoopla surrounding the iconic show's 50th anniversary last November, certainly seems in order. Especially since, along with a new Doctor, Moffat has ordered up a new look for the opening credits (more clockwork than fiery cloud swirl) and the interior of the TARDIS.
For those just joining the "Doctor Who" universe, TARDIS stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, comes shaped like the blue British police box and is the Doctor's main form of transportation.
That's me trying to fall in with the premiere's obvious embrace of post-anniversary newcomers. The episode opens with Strax (Dan Starkey), that adorably cranky Sontaran, narrating the Doctor's regenerative life span in the form of a video entry, with his own hilarious editorializing. Behind him, series notables Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh) and Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) attempt, once again, to avert Earth's destruction.
"By the goddess, are you blogging?" Madame Vastra asks Strax with sly incredulity, when she catches sight of the screen to which Strax directs his explanation of how there have been 12 doctors. Maybe 13, he adds, mimicking the actual blogosphere debate, "Well, technically 14."
Having averted disaster, the three answer a call from Victorian London where a T.rex is pacing the Thames, as so many things do in "Doctor Who." Before long, the TARDIS appears, along with the Doctor (Capaldi), dazed and confused, and Clara (Jenna Coleman), also dazed but more concerned than confused.
She doesn't understand why the "new" Doctor seems so much older.
And it isn't just the lines on his face or the silver in his hair. Capaldi's Time Lord is fretful where Smith's was impish, anxious where David Tennant's was manic. (He's also, like Capaldi, Scottish, which seems a wee bit unfair to Tennant, who famously longed to be the first kilted Doctor only to have his brogue tamed into "estuary English.")
As the crisis evolves — humans threatened, this time by murderous androids — the Doctor wanders ragged and mad, a spindly Lear trying to remember why everything seems at once so foreign yet so familiar. Whovians will be able to answer some of his questions, but the Doctor's concern with his new visage heralds a deeper understanding of who, exactly, the Doctor is, and who he isn't.
"You thought he was young?" Madame Vastra admonishes Clara when she seems unable to see past the lines and hair. "Your gentleman friend, your lover? He has seen stars fall to dust. You might as well flirt with a mountain range."
And there it is, right up front, what so many previous episodes have danced around. The Doctor is a Time Lord, more than 2,000 years old. He has saved humanity countless times but he has also killed and banished and damned. He has (or thought he had) destroyed his own planet for the good of the universe.
He has loved and lost and, more important, loved and left. Each and every one of his companions. Even his beloved Rose (Billie Piper) had to settle with a mortal imitation, while River Song (Alex Kingston), the Doctor's "wife," was reduced to a bit of computer memory that he didn't want to see anymore.
"I'm not your boyfriend," this new Doctor tells Clara, himself reducing to dust the starry-eyed daydreams of multitudes.
The original Doctor may have been an old man, just as the original "Doctor Who" was an educational children's show, but the modern incarnation has taken the romance of the last living Time Lord quite literally. Tennant's Doctor especially was a high IQ dream date, seducing companions and breaking their hearts.
To avoid complete repetition, Smith's Doctor took aboard a couple, Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) whose love story, often triangulated by the Doctor (whose heart clearly belonged to Amy), served as painful reminder of what an ageless being cannot have: a long-term relationship with mortal.
Not this time around, no, sir. Or, at least, so it would seem. For all the running and unflattering commentary about the new Doctor's face, Capaldi is an attractive man, if quite a change from Smith. Still, behind his furrowed brow and tendency to complain roil new and exciting storms, which may tilt the tale away from love and longing and back to adventure.
Either way, this Doctor is truly something else again.
are you excited? what are your hopes for the season?
This is how Kim Kardashian attains her hourglass shape.
Kim Kardashian has spoken a lot recently on wanting to lose weight and get in shape after giving birth to her daughter North West a year ago. On Thursday, the 33-year-old reality star revealed how she's working to get an hourglass figure.
Kim posted an Instagram photo of her wearing a corset device meant to define your waist by literally reshaping your body. She captioned the photo: "#hourglass #waisttraining #nophotoshopnecessary."
The corset, which can be purchased at Premadonna's website, is supposed to help achieve that highly coveted Jessica Rabbit look. Needless to say, both Kim and her sister Khloe Kardashian are promoting the product on their social media sites.
If the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star does manage to obtain the figure she's hoping for, just imagine how many selfies she's likely to take then? Does the internet even have room?
what's your workout routine, ONTD?
Taylor Swift and John Mayer were in the same place at the same time on August 20, but it was NO date. In fact, a source reveals to HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY that Tay was ‘horrified’ to see John again!
Fresh off the release of her catchier-than-catchy new single “Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift, 24, was spotted leaving dinner at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, Calif. on August 20 around the same time as her ex John Mayer, 36. Of course, the rumor mill immediately churning, claiming that the two were on a date; however, nothing could be further from the truth — a source close to Taylor reveals to HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY that she was absolutely “horrified” to see him there. Been there, girl.
“When Taylor saw John it was as if she saw a ghost,” our source reveals. “She was horrified and, for a moment, contemplated leaving. Cooler heads prevailed and she acted as if she didn’t see him but she totally knew he was there and was uncomfortable.”
As if that’s not enough to quell the rumors, our source goes on to confirm that the two are “in no way dating, and they didn’t share any conversation at all.”
Phew. That’s a whole lot of drama avoided. While Taylor may have been doing all she could to avoid John, we feel like he may have been steering fairly clear of her, in turn. The pair dated in early 2010, when Taylor was just 21 and John 32.
While neither party ever confirmed their relationship, Taylor penned the scathing “Dear John” in response to their breakup, and the lyrics were as unambiguous as the song title.
“Don’t you think I was too young/To be messed with?” she wrote. “And you’ll add my name to your long list of traitors who don’t understand/And I’ll look back in regret how I ignored when they said/’Run as fast as you can.'”
Burnt. We’re sure that John gave her a pretty wide berth — what would her next Mayer-centric song involve?! We can’t know, but we’re sure it’s the focus of his nightmares.
This post is dedicated to the fallen Taylor fan kiss-ayumi who was banned. RIP<3
Rosie Huntington Whiteley at LAX
Alessandra Ambrosio in LA
Cara Delevingne and Zoe Kravitz
Hilary Swank in LA
Venus Williams visits Fox and Friends
Rosie Huntington Whiteley and Kim Kardashian at the Artist in Residence Event
Joel and Benji Madden stopped by CBS Radio WJFK 106.7
Tulisa in Barbados
Rumer Willis in NYC
Sarah Jessica Parker at a SJP Collection event in Texas
Nicole Scherzinger in London
Ashlee Simpson and Evan Ross at JFK
Chloe Sevigny in NYC
The Rock and Irina Shayk promotes Hercules in Berlin
Dita Von Teese at LAX
Pamela Anderson at Chateau Marmont
Jena Malone at LAX
Kate Beckinsale in LA
Eva Longoria at the premiere of Frontera
Sienna Miller in London
Chery Cole- Call My Name live Stand Up To Cancer 2012
Cheryl was supposed to either completely mime or sing along to the backing track in this performance, which unfortunately however never came on leaving her to awkwardly dance and breathe into her mic for the first minute and a half before finally starting to sing live.
Britney Spears- Toxic live Jingle Bell Ball 2003
Britney's platform was temporarily not working leaving her to scream "Go Up!" several times to the stage crew #divaney
Rihanna- Where Have You Been live 777 Tour London 2012
Once again, the backing track was off from Rihanna's vocals and the band itself, leaving BadGalRiri to start it again in the middle.
Britney Spears- Boys live Onyx Hotel Tour Vegas 2004
In Britney's case the backing track never came on, leaving her to have to sing this high-energy number all by herself (shocker!)
Hilarry Duff- Come Clean Live MTV New Year's Eve Show 2004
The track starts skipping at about 2:40 and awkwardness ensues.
Beyonce- Ring the Alarm Live The Beyonce Experience 2006
Beyonce falls down several stairs but recovers like a pro and continues the song as if nothing happened! Despite her best efforts however the clip was soon posted online for everyone to see.
Katy Perry- Roar live 2013 NJR Awards
In a yet unexplained mess, Katy was either supposed to lipsync or someone turned the backing track way too loud for the first performance which then proceeded to slowly break down. Katy was given the chance to re-do it but arguably the result wasn't any better the second time around either.
Selena Gomez- Come and Get It live Jingle Bell Ball 2003
Selena was not only heard saying "what the fuck" before the performance begun, but when it did she was visibly pissed off while also doing a poor job at lipping the song.
Britney Spears- Slave 4 U live The Circus Staring Britney Spears Tour 2009
Don't be so quick to wear leotards y'all! Cause you might risk having your privates exposed to 15,000 people as Britney learnt on her Tampa Circus show
Beyonce- Diva live I Am World Tour 2010
When the light show didn't go on as planned, Sasha fierce continued the show, after proclaiming that someone would get fired! Added especially for appeasing
One Direction- live Scotland
Harry Styles had a powerful moment on stage when a flying show landed directly on his crotch, leaving him to dramatically drop down on the floor.
Resident Mexican Queen Juan Gabriel falling off stage
Our good sis Juan illustrating the dangers of going too hard whilst performing.
Madonna- Where's The Party live Blond Ambition Tour Barcelona 1990
M did not realize that her mic feed was still on after she left her stage, leaving her outbursts being heard by everyone in the stadium.
Britney Spears- House of Blues Tour 2007
Britney had an interesting couple of shows on her 2007 club tour. First, her outfit started falling apart during Slave leaving her to take it off and then run backstage. Then on another show, Britney's backing CD skipped leaving her to ad-lib some live vocals!
Mariah Carey- Collection of interesting on stage ad-libs on GMA 2008 and Today Show 2014
Mariah sure brings a lot of personality on stage! So much so that she likes to add a bit of flavor to her songs by either telling her back-up singers to stop singing her part baybeehh or informing her fans that she's forgetting the lyrics to her songs
Source: Youtube + my abundance of free time
The fall television season now starts earlier, thanks to networks posting their pilots early online to give audiences extra opportunities to decide if they want to devote their time to them. As this trend continues to build, a second fall 2014 pilot has appeared online already, ABC’s Selfie.
The sitcom pilot is loosely based on the Pygmalion/My Fair Lady story. Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) plays Eliza, a narcissistic online celebrity whose image crashes after a breakup. She enlists Henry, played by John Cho (Star Trek) to help her rehabilitate her image and reconnect with the human world.
As Entertainment Weekly points out, ABC has just posted the pilot episode on Hulu, over a month before it is slated to premiere on Sept. 30.
Selfie was written by Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory) and directed by Julie Anne Robinson. You can watch the pilot below to decide if George Bernard Shaw’s work really needed to be updated for the 21st century.
Not amazing but not bad. I think it's cute but unsure how it can sustain in the long run. What do you think ONTD?
Read this $72,276,000.00. God bless. pic.twitter.com/dpwE3X7eLR— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) August 23, 2014
The drama continues between frenemies 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather. After all the shade 50 tossed Floyd's way about being illiterate, Floyd finally hit back today.
We told you about 50's shade-filled challenge to Floyd recently over on Instagram. He switched up the rules of the ALS #IceBucketChallenge and said he would donate $750,000 if boxing champ Floyd could read a full page out of a Harry Potter book...without messing up. Damn shame. He went even further and said he could read a page out of Cat In the Hat instead...since those words may be too big in the Harry Potter books.
While Twitter and IG followers jumped on the bandwagon to troll Floyd even more, the folks over at The Breakfast Club released raw audio of Floyd taking an hour to read a 10-second drop.
These vamps are shacking up! Us Weekly has exclusively learned that Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed are already living together -- and they took the next step just three weeks after they began dating! An insider reveals to Us that the couple's new address is in none other than Atlanta, Ga., where Somerhalder is currently filming season 6 of The Vampire Diaries with his costar and (amicable!) ex-girlfriend Nina Dobrev.
"[Nikki] goes to set every day," the source says, adding that the lovebirds plan to also share an L.A. place, too.Sleeping under the same roof is the second big milestone in the pair's relationship. Two weeks after Us broke news that they were an item, Somerhalder revealed that he and the Twilight alum, 26, were the proud new owners of a horse named Eagle.
"What amazing creatures they are. Wow," Somerhalder, 35, wrote via Instagram on Aug. 5. "Thank you @iamnikkireed for snapping this special moment, with our big baby boy."
Somerhalder previously dated Dobrev for three years until their split in May 2013. Reed filed for divorce from husband Paul McDonald after two years of marriage in May 2014, and briefly dated Dancing With the Stars pro Derek Hough (also Dobrev's ex) before falling for the TVD hunk. Friends of the couple, however, don't seem shocked about how serious it's become between the two.
At last Sunday's Creative Arts Emmys, Bob's Burgers won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. Alexander McCall offers this appreciation of its approach to its strange and fascinating women. The Primetime Emmy ceremony airs Monday night, August 25.
The original proof-of-concept for the Fox animated sitcom Bob's Burgers was far from groundbreaking. Incompetent, emotionally aloof father? Check. Shrill mother? Check. A strange rag-tag bunch of kids? Sure enough.
Initially, it seemed the show would rely on these exhausted archetypes, like those in the universes of The Simpsons and Family Guy. The proof-of-concept that eventually became the show's pilot features Bob Belcher, who runs a failing boardwalk burger joint, and his eccentric family: his wife, Linda, his sons, Daniel and Gene, and his youngest daughter, Louise.
But when the show premiered in 2011, the pilot had been streamlined. The animation was better. The dialogue was longer, and most notably, Daniel, Bob's awkward teenage son, had been replaced with Tina, a female doppelgänger –– a pivotal choice.
Tina is weird. She's a nervous, idiosyncratic teenager, visibly experiencing the miseries of puberty. She likes horses and describes her relationship with zombies as "complicated." She sports thick-rimmed glasses and plain clothes. At first glance, Tina might not seem all that unusual. But Tina has a lot going on. When she isn't working in the restaurant or looking after her younger siblings, she might be pursuing the affection of Jimmy Pesto, Jr., penning another volume of her signature "Erotic Friend Fiction," or daydreaming about men's butts.
Most animated sitcoms have ugly histories when it comes to female characters. Women are frequently there to be mocked or to represent men's sexual desires. But instead of using Tina as an arbitrary tool for cheap laughs, the writers of Bob's Burgers –– several of whom are women –– have given audiences the opportunity to see adolescence through the lens of a central female character. The show, in fact, embraces Tina's own sexuality for all its uncomfortable awkwardness.
In the show's four seasons, Tina has become a fan favorite — and she's in good company, too. Bob's Burgers features a number of well-rounded female characters who are clever, strong and entertaining. And in that, the show is progressive without being straightforwardly political.
Tina Belcher's most obvious influence might seem to be Lisa Simpson, but the two are intrinsically and essentially different. Lisa Simpson is precocious and articulate. Tina is painfully gawky. She's terrified of being put on the spot, often staring blankly into space and groaning for prolonged periods of time. Those who surround Lisa Simpson are often dismissive of what she has to say, but Tina's family, while odd, is incredibly supportive and involved. In one instance, Tina asks her dad how to shave her legs –– a rite of passage you might expect to see treated as a bonding moment between mother and daughter.
The other noticeable difference between the two, however, is that Lisa self-identifies as a feminist. Tina's unassuming confidence, on the other hand, can fly under the radar, but she still experiences moments of extreme feminist clarity.
"I'm a smart, strong, sensual woman," she proclaims in the first episode of the show's second season, while trapped in a dilapidated taffy factory. In that episode, Tina decides she doesn't need to act vulnerable to attract male attention. And in "Two For Tina," she pursues her own desires without embarrassment, courting two different dates to the school dance, forcing them to compete for her, even if she ultimately ends up alone.
The roots of Tina's feminist spirit are evident in her mother. Linda is a pinnacle of girl power. She's busy with the family, but with other things, too, like helping Bob keep the restaurant afloat. She is unwaveringly optimistic and self-motivated –– to the point of occasionally shouting things like "All right, go girls!"–– and whether she's working part-time at a local grocery store or staging a dinner theater production, Linda isn't one to be discouraged. It's obvious that she tries to instill the same values in her children.
"I'm no hero," Tina declares in season three. "I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else." But for many, Tina does represent a new kind of hero. She weathers the anxieties of adolescence while gently testing the waters of her confidence. Tina might not be great at public speaking, but her message is clear: embrace your weirdness. Embrace your Tina.
What would Joshua Jackson do?
Or rather, what would you do if you picked up the phone and Morgan Freeman's distinctive deep voice greeted you on the other end of the line? In the Stand Up to Cancer promo above, the former Fringe star admits he might pass out.
Maybe you'd join him in losing consciousness?
Stand Up to Cancer is airing on all major networks, including E!, on Sept. 5. The star-studded telecast—which has raised $261 million to date—is entering its fourth fundraising year, and when Hollywood hits the phone banks during the show, it could be Freeman, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow and many more celebs giving you a swoon-worthy shout out, but first they'll need your number.
As we await the highly anticipated telethon, sign up at werecallingyou.org with your seven digits to receive your charitable call, describe your connection to cancer and tune in as Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Common and others entertain you for a great cause.
Phase I of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was, in retrospect, a densely plotted affair, with several story threads all tying together – and paying off to glorious effect – in The Avengers; everything from the Tesseract to Loki himself was properly introduced and fully integrated with the rest of the films’ burgeoning continuity, allowing the first phase’s climax to only worry about telling its particular story instead of pulling the narrative dead weight of exposition.
Phase II (which consists of last year’s Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World and this year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy), in contrast, has largely eschewed world-building in favor of smaller, more character-driven tales – Tony Stark’s post-traumatic stress disorder, say, or Thor’s world-weariness and simple desire for love over the needs of either his family or an interstellar monarchy. Even The Winter Soldier’s SHIELD upheaval was mostly played out in the context of Steve Rogers’s disillusionment with the modern world (where was Hawkeye through all of the Hydra fallout? The film’s answer: “Who cares? He’s not part of Cap’s story”).
This may give, on first blush, the impression that there is a lack of cohesion in this go-around of Marvel’s ever-expanding filmic empire, but the truth is that whatever the studio may have decided to step back on in terms of plot, it’s more than made up for in other narrative domains. Indeed, there is a strangely aligned unity in terms of character development – from Iron Man’s giving up his arc reactor to Thor’s giving up his throne to Captain America’s giving up his daily existence, there has been a consistent trend of our established protagonists foregoing the path that is expected of them in favor of more meaningful (and more personal) quests – but the true star of Phase II’s overarching mythology has been in the realm of theme.
And what has been these movies’ overriding thematic motif? Love – or, more specifically, what the various characters are willing to sacrifice for love, whether it be of the familial, fraternal, or, most especially, romantic variety.
The end of the recently-released Guardians of the Galaxy is the clincher in this regard and, therefore, should be considered first. The motley crew of criminals and would-be despots that forms over the course of the picture learns to set aside their greed or particular vendetta in defense of a planet that is filled with innocents but which nonetheless holds no personal interest for any of them. Each is willing to lay down his own life in this pursuit, and one – the walking, (loosely) talking tree known as Groot – even does so. That his literal act of self-sacrifice is simultaneously a symbolic gesture, rendering all of his newfound allies into a sort of extended existential family, makes it all the more emotionally and thematically resonant (though it is somewhat undercut by Groot’s essentially being reborn as a sapling just a few short scenes later). It’s the perfect endcap to Marvel’s handling of the theme.
Before that, however, there is The Winter Soldier. Cap’s self-sacrificial nature was already well established in the series’ first installment, but it is continued here in many shapes and forms: the lack of a romantic relationship is a runner throughout most of the film, starting with Black Widow’s ribbing, continuing with Peggy Carter’s somber deathbed scene, and ending with the (possible) foreshadowing of her daughter, Sharon, but it is Steve Rogers’s refusal to quiet his conscience any further in regards to SHIELD’s duplicitous, morally ambivalent ways that forms the crux of the story. By this time, it is his affection for Bucky Barnes, born in friendship but deepened by combat, that comes front and center, forcing him to leave his beginnings at a new life behind to figuratively save a literally fallen brother-in-arms – just as Sam “Falcon” Wilson’s adoration of Captain America (a form of love in its own right) causes him to join his mentor on the op with no questions asked.
(Here, too, we also see the main character’s willingness to sacrifice his own life in the movie’s climax, as the usually-indestructible Cap refuses to fight back against the Winter Soldier, the only man capable of besting him; Rogers’s desire to not hurt his only friend is the first manifestation of his love, but the ultimate one comes in the possibility of his death reawakening Bucky’s former self. A life for a life may be one of the oldest stories told in the Western tradition, but it’s still one of the most potent.)
The Dark World, meanwhile, holds as its center the exploration of the various loves in Thor’s life, and the extent to which he is willing to go for each of them. His rejection (or, simply, his unawareness) of Lady Sif’s advances, his forced-but-nonetheless-yearned-for reconnection with Loki, his refusal of his father’s wishes, and the ultimate reunion with Jane Foster – all form a type of emotional endurance test for the once and future ruler of the Nine Realms. That his mother is killed and his brother is also believed to be dead are just icing on the sacrificial cake (as is also, one could make the argument, the loss of his sword hand, even though that particular loss ends up being illusory).
And more so than arguably any other Phase II entry, the film’s other characters have their own fair share of variations on the theme, as well. Loki, whose almost pathological need for love from his adopted family has caused him to sacrifice his very soul in Phase I, definitely replaces and very possibly kills Odin, placing the sacrificial focus on others instead of himself. And Jane has shunned her love life (with the singular exception being her date with Richard in The Dark World’s opening moments), likely to the detriment of her own emotional well-being, making her something of a victim of Thor’s inability to be self-determinant.
Interestingly enough, it is actually Iron Man 3, the opening salvo of Phase II’s barrage, that is perhaps the most intrinsically intertwined with the concepts of love and sacrifice. Far from being the callow (and callous) man who subsists off of one-night affairs at the beginning of the first Iron Man, the Tony Stark who opens IM3 is so obsessed with protecting the one truly precious item in his life – the undeniably lovely Pepper Potts – he nearly ceases to function on a day-to-day basis, even, ironically enough, in the context of his relationship with her. His decision to first destroy his arsenal of Iron Man suits and then, more fundamentally, to remove the source of their power from within his own heart (it’s hard to get more blatant than this, Marvel) is, to date, the single biggest act of self-sacrifice that has yet to be depicted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And just as Thor has Jane, Captain America has Falcon, and the Guardians of the Galaxy have one another (yes, even Groot), Iron Man is rewarded with a renewed, more meaningful relationship with Pepper.
All of which, of course, begs the question: just what does this thematic modus operandi tell us about next summer’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and just what it might have in store for Marvel’s unfurling narrative? The answer is, obviously, wholly unknown at the present time, although certain educated guesses can certainly be made, using both the previous four installments and what press information has been revealed about Ultron’s story.
That the titular team of superheroes will be risking their lives to save the planet is a given. What is surprising, however, is the origin of the movie’s new villain: exhausted by the responsibility of being the world’s only protectors in the wake of SHIELD’s sudden absence – and, perhaps, exasperated at his continued existence as Iron Man – Tony Stark builds a sentient android to take the Avengers’ place. And while it may be a matter of plot necessity that Ultron quickly turns on its creator(s), it is also, consciously or not, a validation of Phase II’s theme, as the refutation of self-sacrifice results, unsurprisingly, in the exact opposite of the previous films’ resolutions; taking the easy way out, Marvel seems to be saying, necessarily results in defeat, both literally and figuratively, externally and internally, physically and emotionally.
Rather than self-sacrifice, one is left with self-destruction – and while both may result in loss to one degree or another, only one of them ends with nothingness.
Synopsis: A Dalek fleet surrounds a lone rebel ship, and only the Doctor can help them now… With the Doctor facing his greatest enemy, he needs Clara by his side. Confronted with a decision that could change the Daleks forever he is forced to examine his conscience. Will he find the answer to the question, “am I a good man?”
Written by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat. Directed by Ben Wheatley.
Check out the first 5 minutes of Lifetime's New Movie, The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story. Premieres Labor Day September 1 at 9/8c on Lifetime.
I'm gonna set my DVR for this trainwreck
Rapper Lil Wayne was honoured with the Songwriter of the Year prize at the Broadcast Music, Inc. R&B/Hip-Hop Awards on Friday (22Aug14). Lil Wayne won the trophy at the music industry event which celebrates the songwriters, producers and publishers of the most-performed R&B/hip-hop songs of the previous year.
Rap duo MACklemore & Ryan Lewis picked up an award for Song of the Year for their track Can't Hold Us and teen star Zendaya received the Social Star accolade for using social media to showcase her music. Her category was voted by fans via Twitter.com.
Ludacris was honoured with the coveted President's Award in recognition of his achievements in songwriting over the past 16 years of his career. He also performed at the ceremony, which was held at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles.
Saban Brands revealed the cast for the upcoming season of Power Rangers titled "Power Rangers Dino Charge" today at Power Morphicon. The show will be adapted from the 37th entry of the Super Sentai series Zyuden Sentai Kyoryguer
The actors from left to right are:
James Davies (Black Ranger), Yoshi Sudarso (Blue Ranger), Brennan Mejia (Red Ranger), Camille Hyde (Pink Ranger and first black pink ranger in the shows history), and Michael Taber (Green Ranger)
These five actors and actresses will be flying off to New Zealand to start production for the 2015/2016 Power Rangers seasons.
How does everyone feel about our first black pink ranger after 20+ years?