Kanye’s new release, Yeezus, is packed full of profanity, self-bestowed superiority in the song I am a God, industrial beats, and messages of anti-consumerism, which makes him a bit of a walking contradiction, don’t you think?
In saying that, the album is quite captivating thanks to the electrifying mix of penetrating background beats paired with Kanye’s unrelenting rhythmic rapping. Two tracks stand out from the rest and latch onto your mind with claws dug in, and no intention of letting go: Black Skinhead and New Slaves.
Black Skinhead—co-produced by global electro sensation Daft Punk— is heavily laden with an extended metaphor to describe how the media alters reality, with references to Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds and the film 300. The lyrical meaning, and the gritty, drum-heavy backbeats make for an incredible three minutes.
New Slaves, the first release off the album, is the anti-consumerism anthem of 2013. Although Kanye probably isn’t the most easy-to-swallow advocate for such a thing—considering his penchant for luxury indulgences—his lyrics are spoken with conviction and make a fiery impact. The musical supports are simple, yet engaging; the message of the song doesn’t need over-produced instrumental bedlam.
Yeezus has some incredible potential to continue on an upward slope of adoration by the rap-loving public. I strongly recommend absorbing yourself in this album whether you’re a Kanye fan or not. Check it out first-hand; you might be pleasantly surprised.
By Emmylou Macdonald
World War Z
World War Z, the first real Hollywood blockbuster of the zombie variety, follows former UN worker Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) as he is forced back into work after a mysterious virus infects the majority of the earth’s population. Fearing for his family’s wellbeing, Gerry goes on a worldwide search for the origins of the virus, and in turn, a cure.
The film, directed by Mark Forster, is already notorious for its lengthy production and budgetary issues. Having to reshoot and rewrite the entire third act, many weren’t confident in what the final product might be. With these problems fresh in my mind, I went into World War Z with measured expectations. And surprisingly, the film isn’t a disaster. In fact, it is a moderately enjoyable, sometimes exhilarating zombie epic.
An adaptation of Max Brooks’ 2006 novel, the film seems to share only its name with the source material, working on a large, straight-forward scale in place of the novel’s intimate, episodic structure.
Brad Pitt delivers a typically charismatic performance as Gerry, having the common sense and steady head to survive in a progressively panicked zombie landscape. From the opening scenes, we’re thrust into the action, as the film moves along at a confident speed, lacing together a number of impressive set pieces. The zombies screech and move like rabid dogs, digesting the un-infected in tidal waves of increasing desperation. The CGI used for the zombies is effective, creating a genuine sense of terror and suspense.
Without frills or excess, the film induces a comfortable popcorn coma. And with source material as thoughtful as Brooks’, it is surprising that it finds a balance between the two. Overall, Forster’s film succeeds as a large-scale zombie epic, retaining a sense of intelligence that is uncommon in most studio blockbusters.
By Sebastian Moore
Man Of Steel (3D)
After 2006’s dud Superman Returns, it is time for the Superman franchise to receive a makeover like Batman. Given that Christopher Nolan is on board as a producer, expectations are high for the Zack Snyder (300, Sucker Punch) reboot.
Man of Steel starts off well with Kal-El’s (Henry Cavill) father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) sending his son to Earth. Krypton is ablaze in fiery turmoil thanks to evil-doer General Zod (Michael Shannon).
Once on earth, Snyder takes viewers through a journey based on flashbacks where Clark Kent’s childhood is contrasted to his present life as a man on the run.
It’s in this present life that Clark saves the life of smart and passionate reporter Lois Lane. Unfortunately, Lane is slightly miscast by the soft-hearted Amy Adams.
The humour in the script is too forced, like a series of dad jokes. The ‘funny’ parts are too obvious for the audience not too laugh, even though they aren’t all that amusing.
A variety of visual effects are used—although they could be enjoyed just as easily in 2D—but so too are actual locations.
So where do things go wrong? The ending action sequence is overblown, too loud and far too long, with the 143-minute film desperate for some tighter editing at the end. This is Snyder’s Kryptonite, weakening what starts off as an interesting take on the DC comic-book.
By Isabella Pittaway
The Great Gatsby
For those unfamiliar with the source material, The Great Gatsby follows would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he recounts a period in his life that took place in the 1920s. Having left the Midwest in search of greater opportunities, he moves to New York City where he lands himself next door to a mysterious, party-throwing millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), who lives across the bay from Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her deceitful husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton).
Luhrmann has attempted to radicalise Fitzgerald’s novel, injecting pop music and grand visuals to appeal to the senses. The in-your-face style is stimulating initially, but there’s no variation. It’s the same beat for two-and-a-half hours. And in the end, it dwarfs Fitzgerald’s material, reducing it to a story of a social climber who doesn’t get the girl.
The characters are given no time to develop, and are often pushed aside in Luhrmann’s masturbatory pursuit to recreate the razzle-dazzle of the period. The actors are merely pawns, posturing inside a heightened reality that sacrifices soul for spectacle. The 3D only acts to accentuate this feeling of emptiness.
For the most part, Lurhmann seems more interested in the costumes and visual artifice to give any sort of consideration to the subtleties of the novel.
On its own feet, the film passes as entertaining fluff, but as a revamp of Fitzgerald’s classic, it is a frustratingly soulless endeavor.
By Sebastian Moore