Smurfs 2

Everyone’s favourite small blue people were back this year in another feature length sequel again bringing back Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria as the human friends of the friendly Smurfs. The original remake of the Smurfs a few years ago was enjoyable with some comedic moments, so was this sequel going to recreate the magic?

Unfortunately, like the fate of many sequels, this film only has half the appealing charm the first one had. It’s got the same caper qualities complete with a good feel message about belonging to a family and how those that love you are your family and it’s not necessarily your biological one. However the jokes are just not as funny as the previous and it all gets tiresome quickly.

Even Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and the addition of Brendan Gleeson can’t rescue this film. The main comedic point from the last film was Gargamel and Azrael the cat and whilst they do provide a bit, most of the jokes fall flat. This is a film that kids will probably appreciate and quite enjoy but the adults will wish they were anywhere but watching this film.

Papa Smurf: It doesn’t matter where you came from. What matters is who you choose to be.

Thor 2: The Dark World

The next installment in Marvel’s Phase Two plan was released back in November and stormed its way to the top of the box office. Chris Hemsworth was back as the God of Thunder in Thor 2: The Dark World and it didn’t disappoint.

Alan Taylor takes over directors duties from Kenneth Branagh as Thor and the Asgardians try and make peace across the 9 realms. Thor (Hemsworth) is leading the charge but all the while pining for Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who is also missing the God, but finding her own mission after discovering an anomaly in central London. Hoping it could lead her to Thor she investigates but absorbs an unknown energy. Thor returns to Earth when Heimdall (Idris Elba) notices Jane disappearing when she is investigating the anomaly. When Thor brings Jane back to Asgard, they discover the unknown energy is in fact the Aether, a mystical weapon that basically spells trouble for all worlds. It can only be used every 5,000 years and it just so happens, that it’s that time of year. A race that was believed to be extinct called the Dark Elves, led by their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) is now searching for Aether, in a bid to turn the universe to darkness.

From the point of Jane coming to Asgard, the action really picks up as Thor must hatch a plan to keep the Aether away from Malekith and to keep Jane safe. Asgard is attacked and in the panic, Thor’s mother Frigga is killed, causing Thor to take drastic action and to seek an alliance with the one person he wishes he could trust – his estranged brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki really has turned into one of Marvel’s greatest weapons –through the three movies he’s appeared in, and even though he’s very much established as a villain, he’s become a firm fan favourite (which has been helped along by Hiddleston’s bundles of real-life charisma). Even though Thor 2 is still very much Chris Hemsworth’s movie. Hiddleston manages to steal every scene he’s in as Loki, getting the funniest moments but also some of the more vulnerable moments. He gives the character so many layers, and the audience never really knows what Loki’s true motives are; each sneer and smirk are calculated moves, yet the charisma also jumps off-screen, leaving also just a hint of regret and guilt that Loki feels. The best moments in the film are when Thor and Loki are together, the brotherly quabbles are quick-witted and well acted by Hemsworth and Hiddleston.

The movie as a whole flows really well, moving from Earth to Asgard, and introducing and re-introducing the characters. It also visually looks fantastic, and sets a much different tone to the first movie:  the funeral for Thor’s mother is particularly beautiful and moving. The rest of the cast also work well, with Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth re-creating their chemistry from the first movie. While a lot of comedic moments are given to Loki, Jane’s companions of Darcy (Kat Dennins) and Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) offer some more funny moments.

There are some downsides, quite a few missed opportunities: Jane finding it easy to readjust to Asgard, and an inference that Sif (Jamie Alexander) has feelings for Thor. However the film as a whole is a fantastic action ride from start to finish and continues Marvel’s steam train of success. And the ending leaves us with some tantalising questions (and that’s even before those post-credit scenes.)

Volstagg: If you even think of betraying him…
Loki: You’ll kill me?! Evidently they’ll be a line. (Thor 2: The Dark World)

Glee 5.3 ‘The Quarterback’

Earlier in this season’s run of Glee the Cory Monteith/Finn tribute episode aired and from the first few bars of ‘Seasons of Love’ a beautiful song choice from the musical Rent, I had goosebumps. The episode features so many cast members who wished to be a part of this episode and it’s a bittersweet moment to see so many come together.

The thing with Glee is that it doesn’t lose its uniqueness even when its mourning the death of one of their own – there’s still a few gags littered in the episode and it does cram a little too much into the episode – a lot of ideas and a lot of plates juggling at once that at times it almost feels not quite right. However, I suppose this episode was never about that: this was about saying goodbye to Finn Hudson – not just on-screen but off as well. You can feel the raw emotion of the cast as they sing and act their way through this and I easily got lost in the moment, until I found myself in floods.

During the scene where Carol, Burt and Kurt are sorting through Finn’s clothing is when I first properly broke down. Romy Rosemont who plays Finn’s Mom Carol broke my heart in this scene with the sheer grief and loss emanating from her character; you couldn’t imagine what it must be like for a parent to lose their child, but she gives such a moving performance, like she’s broken. The three of them really are amazing in this scene, and that final image of the three of them on the floor crying and holding one another is heartbreaking.

Naya Rivera’s Santana goes through many stages of grief in this episode; she’s numb with grief, she becomes extremely angry and honest with Sue, a scene which dazzles with passion and becomes so overcome that she can’t finish her song and runs hysterically from the room – something the audience is certainly not used to.

Matt Morrison’s Will I found one of the most heartbreaking; Emma points out to him early on in the episode that she is yet to see him cry about Finn’s death. Will believes he needs to be strong for the kids even though he admits he’s heartbroken. There’s a strand through the episode regarding Finn’s letterman jacket – it disappears and most people believe Puck to have stolen it. When it reaches the end of the episode, we learn that it was in fact Mr Schue who stole it. He completely breaks down clutching the jacket and being held by a crying Emma – this completely shatters my heart and is the final image we’re left with. To end on that note left me with tears streaming – it was a fitting and emotional tribute to the character and to the person – Cory Monteith.

Understandably, Lea Michele didn’t appear until about 10 minutes before the end of the episode, but it’s fair to say when she did appear, I truly started crying more then. The actress has lost far more than her cast member and friend, she also lost her boyfriend and she shows great courage here; her rendition of ‘Make You Feel My Love’ is beautiful, sombre and so wonderful. The raw emotion from it is easy to hear.

Off the back of this tribute episode, it was announced that after season 6 which Fox had already commissioned before Cory’s death, it would be the last season of Glee. While I can’t say I’m not surprised it’s bittersweet. It was also sad to hear that Murphy had a plan for the end of Glee and it included a reunion for Finn and Rachel. We’ll obviously never see that, but the talent and the generosity of Cory which he gave to his character Finn in the show can live on. I think this tribute episode was a beautiful way to celebrate his legacy.

RIP Cory Monteith

 

Carol:  I always thought…how do parents go on when they lost a child? When I saw that stuff on the news, I shut it off because it was just too horrible but I would always think how do they wake up every day?…How do they breathe honey? (voice cracks) But you do wake up…and for just a second, you forget. And then…oh you remember…and it’s like getting that call again and again every time. You don’t get to stop waking up. You have to keep on being a parent even though you don’t get to have a child anymore (cries) (Glee, 5.3 ‘The Quarterback’)

Agents of SHIELD 1.6 ‘F.Z.Z.T.’

I’ve been keeping up to date with Agents of SHIELD and have been willing the series to be amazing; in truth, the first few episodes were up and down – there were some flashes of brilliance, some great character development, particularly with Coulson’s story and just why he’s still alive. But there was also something missing, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but something just wasn’t clicking. However when I watched episode 6, I felt the series really came into its own.

Revolving around Agent Simmons, the team are investigating the after effects of when a group of people come into contact with a Chitauri helmet. Unfortunately during their investigation, Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) becomes infected with the same virus and it’s a race against time to find a cure for her. Now the show is finding its stride, its focusing on developing all of its characters (not just Skye); before this episode, I really enjoyed the double act of Fitz and Simmons, the science geeks that Coulson recruited. The moment where Coulson realises Simmons is infected is a bittersweet moment; Clark Gregg does a great job at showing the disappointment and hurt in his facial expressions and the way he delivers the ‘I’m so sorry Jemma’.

What this episode does so well is finally bringing the team together, and making the audience care for the characters. When watching this episode it finally clicked that that was what I was missing; apart from Coulson these characters, as a group, were lacking chemistry but now we saw them coming together to try and help one of their own with each character getting a moment to shine. The dynamic between Fitz and Simmons is lovely to see –they have a sibling bond, bickering constantly but knowing what the other is thinking, willing to do anything for each other. Skye is integrating into the group and forming a real bond with Simmons, and even Ward is developing and becoming less grumpy.

We also get some really interesting character development for Coulson, helped along by Melinda May. He refers a few times to some medical tests his doctor’s have ordered for him, and he particularly connects to a fire-fighter in his last moments before his death due to the virus from the Chitauri helmet. We find out at the end of the episode that in fact Coulson ordered the tests himself; he feels something is wrong and he confesses that he feels different. The show has brought a different kind of Coulson than we’re used to in the Marvel cinematic universe, and it’s great to see Gregg be able to flesh out the character. It’s interesting that Coulson can feel he is different and in upcoming episodes, I’m sure that angle will be even further established.

With the show now firmly hitting its stride after a few bum notes, and a full 22 episode series on the horizon, I hope that the show continues to develop even more.

 

Melinda May: Whether it was 8 seconds or 40, you died. There’s no way you can go through a trauma like that and not come out of it changed. You know how long it’s taken me to…

Phil Coulson: I know.

Melinda May: The point of these things is to remind us that… There is no going back, there’s only moving forward. You feel different because you *are* different. (Agents of SHIELD, F.Z.Z.T)

Thor

When the time came for Thor 2’s release, I’d realised I’d yet to watch the origin film, so I settled down to watch it on the eve of my trip to the second. My first glimpse of Thor as a character was in Avengers so I was surprised at the arrogant, hot-headed and frankly a danger to others version that was in this film.

Starring Chris Hemsworth as the Asgardian God of Thunder, it lays the foundation story of Thor, devoting the first 30 minutes to his back story, the relationship between Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and his two sons Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and also Thor’s status as a protector for Asgard. As I said above, Thor at the beginning of the film is arrogant, boisterous, tearing around creating havoc, usually because his temper got in the way. Thor almost causes a war to break out with another world and this is where the story really starts. His father banishes him to Earth to teach him a lesson; he meets scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) along with fellow scientist Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Darcy (Kat Dennings).

Once this foursome comes together, it makes for hilarious viewing and this is where Hemsworth comes into his own; he’s comedic and like a fish out of water as he tries to adjust to life on Earth. He delivers the lines with a certain sarky quality and charisma, but still remaining incredibly arrogant about who he is. At times you can see how much he feels defeated about his situation, but the progression of his character to a wise, brave and humble God is brilliant.

As well as the narrative on Earth, back in Asgard, Loki attempts to become King, a position he views as rightfully his. He’s deceptive, slimy but enigmatic and Tom Hiddleston plays him perfectly. He has a gravitas about him and even though there shouldn’t be any likeable qualities to Loki due to his constant betrayals, Hiddleston manages to create a firm fan favourite.

I do enjoy this movie; it’s a great start to Thor’s overall story in the Marvel universe and it has some great elements to it, particularly the role that S.H.I.E.L.D play; Clark Greg gets some much valued screen time with some brilliant gags and we even get a small appearance from Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. The promise of the return to Asgard for Thor 2 is a welcoming one and I for one can’t wait to see how all the characters progress.

Jane: I’ve never met him before
Darcy Until she hit him with a car
Jane: I grazed him with my car and she tasered him
Darcy: Yes I did

Glee Top 50 -Part 2

Before I carry on with Part 2 of my Glee Top 50 post, I’d just like to announce that this is One Blonde and One Brunette’s 150th post! Myself and Kat have achieved this in just under a year and a half and to end our first full year of blogging on a great milestone is lovely. Thanks to everyone who comments, likes and also follows our blog, we hope you continue to like the stuff we write about.

So, carrying on with the top 50 starting with Number 26 (Please note I decided not to include any songs from Season 5)

26. I feel pretty/unpretty

Lea Michele and Dianna Agron hardly ever sing lead vocals together, but this duet is a gorgeous mash-up of these two voices. This episode is filled with some great covers and is also responsible for No. 27…

27. Born This Way

Lady Gaga’s huge hit quickly became a huge anthem for the New Directions as well – the performance is complete with the kids wearing white t-shirts with what their most insecure about – everything from ‘Trouty Mouth’ to ‘Lucy Caboose’.

28. Go Your Own Way

From the tribute episode for Fleetwood Mac, this classic song is sung passionately by Rachel, aimed squarely at Finn, still hurt by Finn and Quinn’s new found relationship. The song really suits Michele’s voice and it’s great to hear her belt out this classic.

29. Rolling in the Deep

Quite possible one of my all time favourite Glee songs. I loved the original version by Adele and when I heard Glee were covering this I was a little sceptical at first – but then I heard it…and then I watched the episode and I fell in love with this cover. Sang as a duet by Lea Michele and guest star Jonathan Groff, it’s gorgeous and packs a punch.

30. Jar of Hearts

Rachel sings this at the Prom, whilst watching Finn and Quinn dance in the distance – she again directs this across to Finn, and you can sense the furtive glances he’s given her when Quinn isn’t watching. It’s heartbreaking and another brilliant solo number from Lea Michele.

31. I’m not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance with you

Another solo performance from Darren Criss – also sang at the Prom; this is a preppy number, a style of song that Criss does extremely well and it works brilliantly with him on lead, along with some help from a few New Directioners.

32, I Love New York, New York

From the Season finale, the New Directions head to New York to try their luck at Nationals glory – beforehand though they have a chance to explore New York, and whilst in the performance they have some great location shoots, it’s also a great cast number that showcases quite a few of their singing talents.

Season 3

33. Rumour has it/Somebody like you

New season, and a slightly new format for the first half as New Directions split when Mercedes, quickly followed by Santana start to feel left out. Newly formed Trouble Tones quickly become a force to be reckoned with, particularly with this mash-up, easily my favourite mash-up. Again two Adele songs feature centre stage and again it’s brilliantly covered.

34. I’m a survivor/Survivor

Another Trouble Tones mash up, this time of the Gloria Gaynor cheesy club classic and Destiny’s Child’s huge number. Even though this didn’t manage to win them Sectionals, I thought it was a fantastic number.

35. We Are Young

At the end of Sectionals, Quinn extends a olive branch to Santana, Mercedes and Brittany to re-join the New Directions and this song plays out at the end where they take the offer and the group is unified once again. The song by Fun is made its own by the group and it does bring a tear to my eye when I watch the performance.

36. Bad

The first song from the Michael Jackson tribute episode – lead vocals by Blaine and the boys of New Directions as they battle the Warblers. It’s full of punch and a great cover of  a classic.

37. Smooth Criminal

This is probably my favourite song from the Michael Jackson tribute episode – how they re-imagined this song as a duet with the violins added is just brilliant. It’s a real battle and Naya Rivera and Grant Gustin sing it wonderfully.

38. Stereo Hearts

Poppy and catchy, this song from the Valentine’s episode of Glee is brilliant – with lead vocals from Glee Project winner Samuel Larsen –it’s a winner.

39. Love Shack

The end of the episode features this song, brilliantly sung by Darren Criss’ Blaine who was mostly absent from the show in order for the actor to appear in a short Broadway run of How to Succeed in Business without really Trying. He returns to end the episode with this classic pop song and its brilliantly done.

40. Cough Syrup

In an emotionally charged Regional’s episode, this song sung by Blaine is played as the backdrop for a shocking moment in Glee. A strand had been developing with Dave Karofsky and his hidden homosexuality and it blew up at the beginning of the episode as kids at his school found out. He tries to commit suicide as this is sung; it’s a beautiful song and haunting with what’s played out.

41. Hungry like the wolf/ Rio

The first of two duets from Blaine and his brother Cooper aka Darren Criss and guest star Matt Bomer. This Duran Duran mash up is brilliant, Bomer and Criss have an excellent chemistry and the singing is fantastic.

42. Somebody that I used to Know

The second duet between the Anderson brothers and this is also one of my favourite songs from the Glee Cast. Singing the years massive hit by Gotye, they manage to take the song and adapt it to fit their brotherly discord. Again wonderfully sung, and by the end of it I wished that Matt Bomer was staying for every single episode.

43. How will I Know

With the sudden death of legendary singer Whitney Houston, Glee scrambled to make a tribute episode and this song opened that episode. Rachel, Mercedes, Kurt and Santana all take equal vocals in this and it’s a brilliant way to open the tribute.

44. Mean

This was originally sung by Taylor Swift but I love this version sung by Puck and Coach Beiste – each battling their own demons, but bonding by trying to get through them together.

45. Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Meatloaf’s rock ballad is the crowning glory of the New Directions Nationals victory – it’s a group effort and its sung wonderfully.

Season 4

46. Americano/Dance Again

We enter Season 4, and in the first episode we’re introduced to a brand new fantastic guest star – Kate Hudson. She plays Rachel Berry’s dance teacher at NYADA and she’s a bit of a bitch. But this mash-up as an introduction is sizzling and leaves you wanting more of Cassandra July.

47. The Scientist

I love this rendition of Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ – combining 4 different coupling’s of Glee who each had a tough time during the episode entitled ‘The Break-Up’ it’s easily one of my favourite songs from the show.

48. 3

From the second Britney tribute episode, this probably is not top of most people’s minds when thinking of the best Glee songs, but I like the stripped back version the cast did for this and the vocals really blend together nicely.

49. Anything Could Happen

A brilliant group number as the New Directions take on this Ellie Goulding song.

50. We Will Rock You

My final pick is a great one – it’s a group effort with this number and the beat that is made by the bins and other drum based stuff is brilliant and completely makes the song.

 

Sue: William, I have in my spanks at all times a list of THE worst songs ever performed by the Glee club. And I would appreciate it if you would no reprise any of the following numbers: Number 1 – ‘Run Joey Run’ – you should literally apologise to America for that one. Number 2 the ingenious mash-up of ‘Crazy in Love’ and ‘Hair’. Now I know you must have been pretty tired when you put that baby together.” (Glee 2.20, Prom Queen)

Gravity

First of all, I’d like to apologise for the lack of posts – they’ve built up quite a bit and life’s been a bit hectic the last couple of weeks, mostly with work. Whilst I hold down the Blonde & Brunette fort, Kat is busy training to be a teacher, and does apologise for her absence. Hopefully we’ll both be back up to full speed soon – for now though…

Earlier this month I went to watch the movie Gravity directed by acclaimed visual director Alfonso Cuarón. I saw this movie previewed at Comic-Con and since then I’ve wanted to see it; starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, it’s 90 minutes of them and space. To some it may appear boring, but to me it was tense, powerful and breath-taking to watch.

Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) enters space on a mission after six month intense NASA training, and after the first 10 minutes it all goes horribly wrong when debris from a crash crashes into their shuttle and sends Stone and her space lead astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) battle for survival, drifting through space. Whilst the film is pretty much devoted to these two actors, Bullock is in about 95% of the film, carrying it beautifully and this film is really about her character.

First of all, Bullock and Clooney work wonderfully together; there’s a lovely chemistry between these two characters, and the two actors have been friends for years. Even though we don’t find out much about Clooney’s character, we warm to him instantly, due to his charisma, charm and his stories, gaining a number of laughs from the audience. You imagine his character to be potentially what Clooney is like in real life, but with more ego-faced humour such as when he states “I know it’s difficult to stop looking at me”.

Sandra Bullock however steals the show and gives a beautiful performance Ryan Stone; her character is drifting through life affected by the sudden death of her daughter. She comes to space to escape the life she now had – her description of her daily life sounds as if she’s merely existing, rather than living. Whilst Stone starts off as someone existing, by the end she’s fighting for her life to survive. It’s a powerful metaphor of the rebirth of someone’s life.

Cuarón also creates a film that visually, is beautifully stunning – you could sense the loneliness leap off-screen but also the utter peace and tranquillity it could bring. The visuals of space are so realistic and the intensity of the situation that the two characters are in – drifting, lost in space with no one to hear them but themselves – is a striking situation to be in.

The film has award season contender written all over it, particularly for Bullock who gives a breathtaking performance as Ryan Stone. You leave the cinema feeling inspired and exhausted after the intense visual experience.

Matt: Is there someone down there, looking up thinking about you?
Ryan: I had a daughter. (Gravity)