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Saturday, August 29, 2015

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Entertainment Blog

When movies become events

By AJ Moser          Last updated: 11/17/14 9:44am         

Our expectations almost always prove to be insurmountable.

When it comes to movies, audience are often told by several outside parties exactly what to expect before they pay their $15 and sit in their seat. Ads fly at us from all avenues spouting review quotations that have been cherry-picked to appeal to the masses and tease us with drama, romance, or marvelous explosions on a grand scale.

One of the most recent notable cases of this is Christopher Nolan’s newest sci-fi film "Interstellar." 

The marketing for this film was fairly intelligent in teasing key plot elements without blowing all the twists and key beats in the first trailer. While most movie trailers these days are prone to give away all the ‘money shots’ in a desperate attempt to draw in crowds, Interstellar offered trailers with intriguing dialogue and brief flashes of space and foreign planets teasing a grand adventure.

However, where the movie’s marketing failed was the unrelenting attitude to be the greatest film ever made. The director himself, Christopher Nolan (famous for "The Dark Knight" trilogy and "Inception") declared "Interstellar" to be one the biggest films ever made. And for some reason, all movie-related media outlets hopped on the hype train earlier this year and started stirring the stew that was declared "Interstellar" as the savior of cinema.

Before anyone had seen the final cut of the film, any attentive audience member was expecting nothing less than perfection. By the time the first teaser footage hit, we were told that "Interstellar" was a groundbreaking masterpiece straight from Nolan’s hands. And when the reviews started rolling in and people finally saw Interstellar, the general consensus was “pretty good,” which seemed like the worst possible reaction to most Nolan fans.

The Rotten Tomatoes score from critics sits at 71% and the CinemaScore from audiences is a solid B+. The film can barely stand on objective merits because most people going to watch it are expecting a transformative revelation. Would the movie have been more well-received if it wasn’t so overhyped? We will have to wait several years to see if the attitude towards the film changes with more reflection.

However, most movie companies should try and learn from this and allow the quality of their films to stand on their own and rely on audiences to spread the word on a truly great film. It is rare in 2014 for a movie to be sold as it is instead of a big budget event.

Don't get excited for the new DC movies

By AJ Moser          Last updated: 10/20/14 11:41am         

Superhero movies are still the biggest box-office draw in Hollywood.

MSU students in particular are surely on board for DC’s next film "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" in 2016 due to the recent filming that took place on campus. But outside of that somewhat selfish reason for excitement, fans should be cautious of Warner Bros. and DC botching their plans to create a cinematic superhero universe.

If you missed it, last week DC and Warner Bros revealed the schedule for their upcoming movies based on popular comic book heroes:

  • “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” directed by Zack Snyder (2016)
  • “Suicide Squad” directed by David Ayer (2016)
  • “Wonder Woman” starring Gal Gadot (2017)
  • “Justice League Part One,” directed by Zack Snyder (2017)
  • “The Flash” starring Ezra Miller (2018)
  • “Aquaman” starring Jason Momoa (2018)
  • “Shazam” (2019)
  • “Justice League Part Two” directed by Zack Snyder (2019)
  • “Cyborg” starring Ray Fisher (2020)
  • “Green Lantern” (2020)

Are you already excited to buy a ticket and sit down to watch the "Green Lantern" reboot in six years? You probably shouldn’t be. Big movie announcements so far in advance, especially for a trend as fickle as superhero movies, are a terrible business decision.

Contracts expire, actors and directors will drop out, and worst of all, fans may lose interest in these properties by the time "The Flash" is expected to zoom into theatres in 2018.

"Batman v Superman" is obviously going to be a real movie, as production is well underway. The Justice League films are likely to begin shooting soon after the principal photography for BvS wraps, and "Wonder Woman" is also a safe bet. 

As for DC’s other plans, there are not enough concrete plans to be excited about. This cinematic universe will more than likely fall apart, and half of these planned pictures will never see the light of day.

Possibilities for what the Broad Art Museum will be used for in the shooting of 'Batman V Superman'

By AJ Moser          Last updated: 10/13/14 5:34pm         

When The State News confirmed last week that 2016’s superhero epic "Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” will be shooting at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, students immediately began speculating about what exactly the scenes would entail.

For those unfamiliar, The Broad Art Museum is the jagged chrome building on the north end of campus. The museum’s interior is closed this week (10/13-10/20) and all the exhibits are closed. The signs and labels on the doors are also being temporarily removed. Crewmen were spotted near the museum Monday morning, unloading equipment from trucks and carrying cameras.

There is currently no word on which stars, if any, will be present to shoot scenes on campus, but there are a few distinct possibilities as to why the museum was chosen.

Kryptonian Artifacts

The museum is already known around campus for its futuristic design, and some students have given it the nickname ‘the spaceship.' Director Zack Snyder may have also had similar thoughts when he toured campus in January, and decided that the building resembled his vision of the architecture of Superman’s home planet. 2013’s ‘Man of Steel’ saw Kal-El exploring some abandoned ships from Krypton, so he may discover more in the sequel. The building could also be used for exterior shots as Superman’s legendary Fortress of Solitude.

Bruce Wayne

Because the interior exhibits are shut down and all signs are being removed, it is safe to assume that at least some scenes will shoot inside the museum. The building has a very lofty design, like a place you would meet a billionaire such as Bruce Wayne. Played by Ben Affleck in this movie, Wayne could be making a home in the museum. The building could actually be used as an art gallery in the film, perhaps where the two titular heroes first meet, undercover.

Lex Luthor

The lavish design of the museum may be interpreted another way, as a lair for the villainous genius Lex Luthor. Jesse Eisenberg will play Superman’s arch enemy in "Batman v Superman," indicating that the character will be younger than his previous comic incarnations. The museum could operate as motherbase for all of the young villain’s dastardly deeds.

Of course, this is all speculation at this point, but interested students should keep their eyes peeled around north campus all week. 

The art of the surprise album

By AJ Moser          Last updated: 10/06/14 11:31am         

With Childish Gambino, one of the more popular hip-hop artists among college students, releasing a surprise mixtape last week, I thought it would be appropriate to analyze one of the more interesting recent trends in the music industry.

Although there are no specific means of planning attached to the process, many artists are now releasing either previously unannounced or heavily hyped projects out of the blue, plopping them on fans through the various channels of the internet.

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke recently put out solo material through the controversial means of BitTorrent, and most iPhone users should be familiar with U2’s bold move to instantly download their newest effort “Songs of Innocence” onto all Apple devices. The response was of course, exceedingly negative. Whether it was due to customer’s feelings of privacy invasion or just the appalling mediocrity of Bono’s lazy lyrics, Apple was forced to offer an application to remove the album specifically from users’ digital catalogs.

The manner of how the art is released clearly influences the reception in some cases, and in the best situation can affect the listener's perception of the material on the album.

Take Kanye West’s latest album “Yeezus,” for example. The album was leaked onto the internet before the official release date was announced, and this apparent mistake may have just been a huge marketing scheme to play into the music’s sarcastic deconstruction of West’s career. Many of the lyrics suggest Kanye’s apparent frustration with record labels and the stark, bare album art even further suggests the ‘leak’ was a planned stunt to further the point of the ironic step-backs the music of “Yeezus” takes.

Another popular artist who gained praise for releasing a sucker-punch surprise of an album was Beyonce, with her recent self-titled LP. However, this album illustrates a case where the means of release contrast the subject matter to a puzzling degree. The album and accompanying music videos represented a bold look into the objectification of pop stars and boasted feminine pride in the face of commercialization. However, these statements were only available to fans who coughed up $9.99, and exclusively on iTunes.

When planning to shock fans with a surprise project, artists should take into account that the sheer subversion of expectations will in fact, influence listener’s first impressions of the music. Asking fans to pay for an album that takes a stance against big-shot music executives seems to miss the point entirely.

One group in particular who mastered this process was enigmatic, underground experimental hip-hop group Death Grips. After troubles with their label, the group continued to only release music out of the blue, on unannounced dates that sometimes led fans on a wild goose chase through the darkest corners of the Internet’s torrenting sites. And when they downloaded the new album, the unforgiving subversion of hip-hop expectations and blatant attempts to create a volatile listening experience were heightened by the questionable manner in which the project was presented.

Because the days of record stores are dwindling and the mass of listeners are going digital with their libraries, the formal release date may become an indicator of an artist stuck in the past. I expect more and more artists to begin dropping surprise albums out of nowhere in order to stir up media attention and create an experience where dedicated fans truly do not know what to expect.

Celebrities and public figures need to watch what they tweet

By Meagan Beck          Last updated: 07/30/14 4:09pm         

Iggy Azalea’s music is catchy, and her songs are fun to sing and dance to. I like her music but after seeing some of her tweets, I would not call myself a fan of her as a person. Public figures need to represent themselves positively.

I've seen people on Facebook, Buzzfeed and other websites calling Azalea out for being racist and I never understood why until I was shown some of her offensive tweets.

She has made racist remarks towards different cultural groups for her 1.9 million Twitter followers to see.

I’m sure followers of those groups felt a lot more uncomfortable than I after seeing a celebrity make fun of their race.

Azalea may have been trying to joke but a tweet claiming “Asian women abuse false eyelashes” is not necessary or funny at all.

Social media is a place to express yourself but a lot of people abuse the power on Twitter, sharing more information than necessary or appropriate.

Often times it seems Twitter causes a lot of problems and drama for celebrities. I have seen feuds between celebrities and other mean-spirited tweets by stars.

Famous and influential people need to realize their tweets are going out to millions of people see.

People look up to celebrities. Whether they like it or not, they are a role model to someone and sharing cruel remarks on social media makes them look bad.

Iggy Azalea should keep her racist comments to herself and continue to make fun dance tracks.

Family of convicted murderer of MSU student Andrew Singler to appear on "Dr. Phil"

By Sheena Marvin          Last updated: 07/14/14 3:09pm         

The family of Connon McCowan, the Okemos resident convicted in the second-degree murder of MSU student Andrew Singler, will appear on the daytime television program "Dr. Phil" at 4 p.m. today on WLNS Channel 6.

According to the transcript, the family believes the verdict of the case was unjust, insisting not all the evidence for the case was shared with the jury. They insist McCowan acted in self-defense.

McCowan was sentenced in November 2013 to between 20 and 60 years in prison for the stabbing death of MSU senior Andrew Singler. The murder happened early in the morning of Feb. 23, 2013 after a string of threatening text messages were exchanged.

In the featured promotional clip, Dr. Phil questioned the family on the reasons why McCowan would bring an open knife to Singler’s apartment if he didn’t intend to use it. The family denied McCowan had the knife open, although McCowan himself admitted he did. 

Eminem's daughter to attend MSU

By Simon Schuster          Last updated: 06/28/14 1:27pm         

Hailie Scott, the daughter of prominent rap star Eminem, will be attending MSU, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Graduating with a 3.9 grade-point average, the Free Press reported she will be attending MSU to study either psychology or entrepreneurship.

The news was released shortly after media outlets learned pop star Madonna's daughter, Lourdes Leone, would be attending U-M. 

Do we sense the beginnings of a cross-genre music rivalry?

Previewing the fall television season

By Casey Holland          Last updated: 04/21/14 7:17pm         

The fall television lineup will be bringing a variety of new shows to the TV guide, and Entertainment Weekly announced a complete list of the new fall 2014 shows on April 21.

Here are some of the speculated pilots for the fall 2014 television season.


Battle Creek, Michigan will be the setting for a new crime drama. "Battle Creek" will tell the story of two detectives who share conflicting world beliefs. The two will need to work through their differences to help defend the streets of Battle Creek.

Josh Duhamel, Dean Winters and Kal Penn are the current credited cast.

"How I Met Your Dad" will fill in the gap for anyone still upset over the "How I Met Your Mother" finale. A whole new cast of characters will be introduced, but the basic plot will be the same, only this time from a woman's point of view through her misadventures in love.


David Schwimmer will be returning to the television world with "Irreversible," a new ABC comedy. The show follows a vain, self-absorbed couple through different trials they manage to bring upon themselves. Iris Bahr and Jessica Knappett will also star in the series.

"Dangerous Liaisons" is a new drama that will be airing on ABC. The series is centered around the love-hate relationship between two powerful socialites. Their game of seduction will lead to the manipulation of those around them, even those they consider close friends.


NBC will be bringing a new romantic comedy into its ranks. "A to Z" is set within an online dating company, whose mission is to detail the a to z's of relationships, from the first meeting to the break-up.

A DC Comics favorite will be making its debut on the television screen with "Constantine." the new drama will follow Constantine through his struggles with faith as he defends humanity from the dark forces surrounding his city.


A new comedy similar to TeenNick's "Zoey 101" premiere with "Cabot College." The plot is set in an all-female university when it open its doors to four young men for the first time, and shenanigans are set to ensue.

Fox will also be bringing a comic book world to life with "Gotham." The series is the origin story of Commissioner James Gordon, one of the Gotham City Police Department's detectives, and his battles with the city's villains.


The CW will tackle the story of the Flash with a television series by the same name. A freak accident gives scientist Barry Allen the power super speed, and he must use those powers to defend the city.

"iZombie" is also set to air in the fall and features a similar plot to the novel and movie, "Warm Bodies." A med student is turned into a zombie and finds work in a coroner's office, giving her easy access to the brains she needs to consume to stay alive. However, every brain she consumes also comes with the person's memories. 

Breaking down the MTV Movie Awards

By Ben Stram          Last updated: 04/15/14 4:18pm         

From Blake Griffin to Taylor Swift, the celebrities were in full force attending the MTV Movie Awards Monday night. Heck, even Internet celebrity Grumpy Cat was there as well!

Between Eminem & Rihanna, Twenty One Pilots and Conan O’Brien & Adam DeVine the performers gave the crowd entertainment all night long.

While it was a big night for celebrities and performers, it was even a bigger night for both “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” at the MTV Movie Awards.

Both movies, along with “American Hustle,” received eight nominations for awards. However, “American Hustle” did not win a single award. “We’re the Millers” also received six nominations.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” took home the most awards with three; the “Movie of the Year,” “Best Male Performance” and “Best Female Performance." 

The popular series won “Movie of the Year” over “12 Years a Slave,” “American Hustler,” “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

The film received “Best Male Performance” by Josh Hutcherson. He was able to edge out Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle,” Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave,” Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

The final award “The Hunger Games” brought in was “Best Female Performance” by Jennifer Lawrence. She received four total nominations as well, leading the way for females.

She beat out Amy Adams in “American Hustle,” Jennifer Aniston in “We’re the Millers,” Sandra Bullock in “Gravity” and Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave” to win the award.

Three other movies were awarded two awards a piece; “We're the Millers,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “This Is the End.”

Leonardo DiCaprio also received five nominations altogether while winning the “#WTF Moment” award.

Other films that received multiple nominations were “12 Years a Slave,” “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “This is the End” all received four.

“Identity Thief,” “Iron Man 3,” “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,” “Ride Along,” “The Spectator Now” and “Thor: The Dark World” each received two.

Breaking down Academy of Country Music Awards winners

By Casey Holland          Last updated: 04/07/14 11:08pm         

Sunday night was dedicated to the country music industry at the 2014 Academy of Country Music Awards. The event was hosted by country music stars Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan and featured performances from both co-hosts.

Lee Brice, George Strait, The Band Perry and Miranda Lambert also took the stage, along with a special guest performance from Shakira when she performed with her co-star on "The Voice," Blake Shelton.

Here are the winners of the 2014 Academy of Country Music Awards.

George Strait beat Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift and Blake Shelton for "Entertainer of the Year."

"Album of the Year" was awarded to "Same Trailer Different Park" from Kacey Musgraves. The performer is well-known for her song, "Merry Go Round."

The Band Perry earned "Vocal Group of the Year," beating Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town and Zac Brown Band.

Miranda Lambert earned herself a win with "Female Vocalist of the Year." Her sassy single, "Mama's Broken Heart," also took home "Single Record of the Year."

Jason Aldean later earned "Male Vocalist of the Year."

Lee Brice's emotional "I Drive Your Truck," a song about the narrator grieving over the loss of his brother, took home "Song of the Year."

Justin Moore earned "New Artist of the Year," beating Brett Eldredge and Kip Moore for the title.

Florida Georgia Line, the duo behind the upbeat song "Cruise," earned "Vocal Duo of the Year."

The music video for Tim McGraw's song "Highway Don't Care" won "Video of the Year." The song also features Keith Urban and Taylor Swift.

Miranda Lambert took home one more award with the help of Keith Urban. Their duet, "We Were Us," earned "Vocal Event of the Year" as an off-camera award.