subscribe: Posts | Comments

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Movie Review


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

[youtube id=”OPVWy1tFXuc” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Peter Jackson’s journey in bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s massive Middle Earth saga to the screen is incredibly admirable and with every film, he showcases his skills at both filmmaking and adapting this epic source material. While the decision to make a 300-page book into three very long motion pictures seems like an odd idea, it is proof of Jackson’s passion for this world and its characters. While The Hobbit is a smaller-in-scale story than The Lord of the Rings, Jackson continually ups the ante and that also creates some fascinating and well-developed personalities worth following. I have an immense respect for writers who create entire worlds with full mythologies from scratch and Tolkien’s Middle Earth is definitely one of the most imaginative and well-thought out ideas to hit the page. Peter Jackson has certainly done a marvelous job of transferring it to film with these delightful movies.

Despite its large ensemble of characters, Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit remains at the centre of it and his growth through the story is one of the elements that drives a lot of the excitement. At the start of An Unexpected Journey, it’s obvious that Bilbo has little aspiration for going on dangerous trips. The Desolation of Smaug does a wonderful job at showing his evolution into a more brave individual, certainly affected by his little skirmish with Gollum. In an early scene, Gandalf asks Bilbo what he found in the goblin caves and Bilbo replies with “My courage.” From a story standpoint, it’s to cover up him finding a curious, little ring. However, that is not a lie as all of his scenes in this second chapter are an excellent showcase of his abilities and personal triumph against the potentially deadly obstacles that await him. All of the best scenes in The Desolation of Smaug feature Bilbo at the forefront, as we root for him in this quest. Jackson manages the impressive task of actually making more intimidating spiders than the one Frodo faced in The Return of the King. The way they creep and crawl over Bilbo’s head, it actually provides a very scary moment, thus creating a more exiting battle when he launches into attack mode. Martin Freeman pulls off Bilbo’s multiple emotions brilliantly as well as his slow possession under the One Ring’s power.

The much-anticipated meeting between Bilbo and Smaug is as exciting as one would expect. The design team at WETA have done a fantastic job of putting that ferocious dragon on-screen in all of his terrifying and imposing glory. With his smarmy smile and knowing glare, Jackson’s version of Smaug is sure to scare any children that might wonder into the screening and that’s a compliment of the highest order. Benedict Cumberbatch adds a lot to the dragon’s power, presenting his perfectly low-pitched vocal chords and he obviously had a lot of fun providing the motion capture performance. The scale between our little hobbit hero and this gold-loving creature is very impressive and the back-and-forth between the two is delightful, showing that smartly written dialogue can still be found in special effects-filled fantasy adventures. Like the spider scene, the climax with Smaug is yet another major example of Bilbo’s character development throughout this series. It would have been unbelievable for him to step into the Lonely Mountain by himself at the beginning of this story, but that’s not the case anymore after all he has ventured into.

Peter Jackson’s impressive ability at directing strong action continues in The Desolation of Smaug with a knock-out sequence of the dwarves riding in barrels. Andrew Lesnie’s cinematography gives it the feel of a theme park ride that has hopefully been put into development at Disneyland. In addition to Bilbo, each of the dwarves are given something special to do and the scene seamlessly alternates between tense and humourous moments. The planning and choreography that obviously went into this scene is quite magnificent and what’s also pleasing is it’s not merely meant to be a fun, little sequence. It actually develops a number of characters and nicely sets up the growing conflict happening in Middle Earth between the races. While smaller in scale than the action sequences in The Lord of the Rings, the barrel ride deserves to be ranked alongside the Battle at Helms Deep as a stand-out moment in the series.

When following up such an exciting scene, the film does slow down in the middle act. Lake-town is quite a sharp contrast from the sunny landscape of the Shire, thus creating an interesting locale that one certainly wouldn’t want to spend more than five seconds in. However, with the knowledge that Smaug is right around the corner, it does drag in spots, not helped by the semi-heroic Bard being a bit of a dull personality. Despite his pained past, Bard is barely given much dimension and Jackson tends to focus more attention towards the dwarves. Considering the dwarf leader Thorin and new character Tauriel the She-Elf are more attention-grabbing and well-developed, Bard tends to fall into the background most of the time. Thorin, in particular, is fascinating to watch as he becomes even more obsessed with getting one specific piece of treasure from Smaug’s collection. Tauriel, who is entirely from the imagination of Peter Jackson, is a welcome addition to a male-heavy franchise and Evangeline Lilly makes her a likeable presence with some great archery skills to boot. Tauriel and Kili the Dwarf also have a nice chemistry together, even when it threatens to enter into cheesy romance territory.

The magnitude of these movies is no easy feat for Peter Jackson and he continues to impress with his directing and handling of all of the characters and scenarios. Every single piece of production is done with the most careful attention to detail and while one may gripe about length, Middle Earth is a world certainly worth revisiting and staying in. Jackson’s passion appear on screen in all of its glory and The Hobbit does not merely serve as a companion to The Lord of the Rings. It is its own, spectacular journey where seeing the earlier films is not necessarily a requirement for enjoying the story (though that trilogy certainly is highly recommended, as they are magnificent films). Through all of the troubles that had to be surpassed to get this project off the ground, it’s great to see The Hobbit come alive and the ending certainly gets one excited for the final chapter.

Review By: Stefan Ellison




Beer O'Clock Christmas



According to the works of the great Anthropologist David Plummersbutte {who is now divorced and lives in a modest sublet in Fresno, California with his pug Ashley (pictured)} it is casually assumed that the first modern day “Christmas” took place in 1497 somewhere, during the great battle between France and one of the Native American tribes of one of the states in the middle of America. The war either had no name, or I didn’t have any luck nailing that down in my one quick Google search between songs on that new Childish Gambino shit (which is fuckin’ awesome by the way)

Originally coined ‘the night of 10,000 bashful smiles’, this special holiday of gift & ales first occurred when the great French lieutenant L’Bron J’Ames, dangerously ill from accidental zinc poisoning, took a brief prelude from his colonial blood-lust, and wandered out stark naked into the crisp Autumn night. *Oh yeah, the first one happened in the fall time btw. Anyways, leaving the safety and warmth of his sparsely decorated war tent tent, monsiuer L’Bron J’Ames spent the evening placing odd “gifts” and bizarre curiosities fashioned out of personal sanitary items and leftover foodstuffs throughout the field, with flowery declarations of friendship inscribed on the bark of birch trees (*ie, what would later become greeting cards!)

The sentiment behind his act of generosity, though puzzling and abstract, was never forgotten! And today, we call it Christmas

(We should also note, it was also not received with good humor – Lt. L’Bron J’Ames was found the next morning in the field, dick up to the sun, still very much naked, with a hatchet all up in his grills. It was not a proud way to go out. It was like, Elvis bad #awkward)


This Friday December 20th at 8pm we continue the tradition of that night!

Join Diana Bailey (and, emotionally connected to us all, by way of Texas – her gentleman producer Brian Armstrong)

With a festive lineup of jokesmiths and punchline artisans, curated to deliver hard Christmas delights to your ears and eyes!

Cut open the yule log, this spicy nutmeg is dripping with merry pleasures. Oh, on the hooves of St Dashel its a cosy one!

Featuring the mouth-words and stunning techniques OF

Todd “King Wenceslas” Graham
Jordan “Krampus” Foisy
Matt “The Tree” Collins
Bethany “Christmas Shoes”Daniels
Joel “Mer” West

All of these comediennes have been on shows, and TV shows, and the radio – and some of them have done more than one of those. So, you know, we checked it its gold!

But truly, best of all – in the REAL spirit of the season, and in the name of helping out our fellow Torontonians when it’s needed most, your well spent $5 donation to the door will support the Grace Kim Fund

(Which you can learn more about, hear the story, and help donate to right here)





PUP – Pathetic Use of Potential in Ottawa


Toronto punk rockers, PUP crashed into Ottawa on Friday December 13th to tear up a late-night show at Gabba Hey.


Total Score: 9/10

[starreviewmulti id=3 tpl=20]


PUP stands for Pathetic Use of Potential.

“It comes from the idea that we all had real jobs and we quit comfortable careers to play music. Essentially we were totally broke, we had no money, no real life it seemed, but it was the best time and fun. Our families kept saying it was a pathetic use of our education. In the end, it ended up making us really happy,” guitarist and vocalist, Stefan Babcock says. Their youth and wanderlust are also driving factors behind the need for the road.


PUP definitely has some cool experiences in store for them. Recently, they were signed to the LA label SideOneDummy. Babcock talked about being a teenager and loving the all-original SideOneDummy bands. He says it got him and his friends into punk rock.

Since the mid ‘90s, SideOneDummy has been signing mainly punk bands, but in recent years they have expanded their roster to include a more full spectrum of genres. From punk icons Anti-Flag to Comedian Erik Griffin, Gaslight Anthem to Title Fight, the label even helped Irish folk sensation, Flogging Molly, to where they are today.

“If you’re a strictly punk label it’s hard to build and sustain careers and companies. So they diversified. As times have changed so have their musical tastes. The label is great. They have singer/songwriters, pop-punk, punk. It was a natural progression as indie rock began. They’re exploring different genres which is cool,” Babcock says.


PUP has had their share of experiences in Ottawa thus far. Babcock says they have played some crazy shows in the capital city, including one of their drunkest nights ever at House of Targ. Not to mention Oktober Fest…


“It was weird because there were families and old people in this field and the band before us was a Blues Brothers Tribute band which is the opposite of what we do. It was still fun, though. There were thousands of people and everyone hated us except the punk kids who came,” Babcock says.

Friday’s show wholly perpetuated their drunken shenanigan ridden persona, with one of the members yelling, “I am so drunk” and a beer can flying through the air above the stage at one point.

Regardless of intoxication, PUP brought their best and played a harsh and on-point performance. The drummer, Zack Mykula, made himself significantly known with his hard-hitting, vigorous beats that seemed to lead the tone. Making use of two guitars, Steve Sladkowski was able to launch riffs that kept up with the uncompromisingly blunt drum rhythms. These two instruments fused together in a staggering, badass form that was cause for the entire performance’s raw punk sound. In the meantime, Babcock experimented with innovative riffs, giving PUP an original feel. Nestor Chumak’s underlying bass lines added dark tones to the performance. To tie it all together, the vocals were a perfect amount of undisguised passion and screaming.

The four guys also brought incredibly forceful stage presence. Early on in the show, the lights were dimmed and the most prominent figure was Babcock standing on a platform with his fist raised in the air. Before the band launched into another one of their powerful tracks, energy not once faltering, Babcock jumped around and encouraged the crowd to do the same. At one point telling us to “kick the shit out of the small girls at the front” because they looked tough and could take it. The crowd heeded his words and began a thrashing mosh pit at the front, where Babcock crowd surfed- not wanting to make Ottawa the first show he hasn’t crowd surfed at.


When asked what he would do if he could play a show with limitless boundaries and no consequences, Babcock laughed, “I would play a show with all of us set on fire. That would be the most badass thing ever. Oh! And maybe also start the show by parachuting in on fire!”

PUP will be on their way to Europe in the next few months to begin their first tour overseas.

“It’ll be exciting to get on a plane and go to a totally different place that we’ve never been and do what we’re doing here. It’ll be a crazy experience.”

Interviewed, reviewed and written by Brianna Harris

Photos by Ming Wu and MW Photography


Brendan Murphy of COUNTERPARTS talks member changes, record labels and the scene


Hamilton melodic hardcore band COUNTERPARTS have been through a lot in the past few weeks. After playing their last show with guitarist Alex Re, the other members have had to buck up and move on. Brendan Murphy still owns the microphone, with Jesse Doreen on guitar, Eric Bazinet on bass and Kelly Bilan keeping beat on drums. Filling a hole in a band of this stature is never easy, but Adrian Lee has been given the task of doing so and time will tell if the repair will hold. Since 2007, the five-piece melodic hardcore group has truly dominated a genre that is taking over the music scene, playing a key role in the start of a new wave movement for heavy music. The Scene Magazine got to talk to Brendan Murphy near what seemed to be a broken elevator shaft in the basement of The Montgomery Legion in Ottawa. In town for the 2013 UNITE & IGNITE FEST, The Scene Mag’s own Jono Del Pozo talked to Brendan about the recent member changes, the Hamilton music scene, melodic hardcore, labels, touring and more.



When you first started out with Counterparts did you think you would end up where you are now? Where’s the coolest place you’ve got to tour?

Well it’ll be seven years this January and going to Australia was really cool, it was definitely the farthest we’ve ever been from home.  We’re also going to Japan in January, I’m hoping that’s gonna be pretty cool but my favourite place to play would have to be the West Coast United States.  Like California and places like that, even the northwest places like Seattle, Portland or Vancouver are all great.  I mean Australia was definitely the nicest place, the most expensive but the nicest place.  As far as where we’d end up, I mean like that fact that we got to play a couple shows outside of Hamilton, that’s more than we’d ever thought would happen.  The fact that we went and played in Australia, and Europe, and the UK that just like extra.

When discussing the Hamilton hardcore music scene, Counterparts is a name that comes up more often than not. What bands would you say are really influencing the scene now and making it what it is today?

Well I guess we’re the name that comes up if you’re talking about Hamilton hardcore right now. Honestly I don’t know of too many bands coming out of Hamilton right now.  I’ve been friends with Prophets for a while now and those guys are doing really well.  Other than them I mean we played with a band called Coldfront at the show last night, and they were cool. Jeff from Haymaker and that new Pick Your Side thing that’s going on, that’s pretty cool. Burning Love is still doing things, putting the name of Hamilton out there; I mean that if they’re even saying they’re from Hamilton anymore, maybe Toronto now.


Now that Counterparts has parted ways with guitarist Alex Re, how do you think it will affect the dynamic of the band?

It’s going to suck not having him around but at the same time, you gotta push forward, kind of pick up where you left off. Alex has an awesome life at home, a job, a girlfriend. Then when we have to go on tour for him it’s like, “well I have to leave the things that I like to go and grind it out on the road for however many days.” So I can’t really blame him for not being thrilled about touring but we got a friend filling in for him for now. He’ll probably just end up being in the band. It’s not permanent yet but we’ll see where it goes. Our friend Adrian [Lee] had been playing with us for a while and he’s like the complete opposite, he doesn’t want to be at home he wants to go tour. We’d be getting tour offers and Alex would be like “fuck, I have to leave my job, my girlfriend and all the stuff that I have going on for me at home to go on tour,” whereas we have the opposite now cause Adrian’s like “I have nothing going on at home I want to go out and tour.” That definitely helps the band so we can actually go out and play shows for a while and not have to worry about people being let down.

After losing Alex how do you think it will affect your music and songwriting going forward?

I don’t think it’s going to affect us too much. Yeah I’m sure there will be parts Alex is known for that won’t be there anymore, but Jesse has been the major songwriter of the band for the music anyway so having him on board we should be good to go. I don’t think it’s going to make that much of an impact on sound, like yeah if Alex wasn’t around we wouldn’t have songs like “Slave and Soil” and stuff like that. We’re definitely going to miss having him around and in song writing but at the same time I think we’ll be fine. It will suck losing a friend on the road too, and not hanging out. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess.

counterparts82How do you feel about kids at shows asking to hear songs off your first album Prophets, does that ever get to you guys? Does it bother you that fans don’t grow with your music?

Yeah it gets to us. Every time it happens we get pissed off about it. I do understand it though. The thing is we’re all guilty of it, going to shows and an older band is playing and they have all this extensive material and you want to hear the first record, I do get that. But like being in a band and having to deal with kids coming up to you and being like “yeah I don’t’ listen to the new record I only like Prophets.” It’s just like “well fuck I’m really glad I just put all this time and effort into it.” A month of recording the thing, for you just to dismiss it cause it’s not the first record. Now because of that it makes me appreciate going to see other bands. Like shit, maybe I haven’t checked out their newer shit, like fuck yeah I’m going to do that now cause I don’t want to be that kid, you know?  I don’t want to be that kid in the back saying “yeah hey I only know eleven songs by you.” The thing is that’s pretty much just in Canada which makes sense cause Prophets never had a firm release anywhere else. When we play Ontario, kids want to hear Prophets, but when we go to America kids are like “oh yeah The Current Will Carry Us play stuff of that!” The new album is getting received pretty well, better than I thought it would. As long as we have that sound, that Counterparts sound, so people don’t need to wonder what they’re listening too.  There are how many bands right now out there that are doing the melodic hardcore thing? It’s what makes us different from Being As An Ocean or It Prevails, or all these other bands. You have to find that one thing that sets the bar and run with that.  So when people hear that deedle deedle guitar they’re not like “okay well is this Counterparts, Hundredth, Being As An Ocean, or Climates being like whose this?”

The lyrical content to “Witness” is quite profound yet dark and almost depressing. What was going through your head when you wrote that song? What influenced those lyrics?

That song is about being, I guess, a miserable sort of person. Waking up in the morning and feeling like shit and not wanting to continue on. The thing is you do that, and you continue on like that looking for any sort of thing to be like “oh okay why do I feel like crap?” Like this sucks and you obviously want to find out what’s wrong and what’s causing it so you can fix it, and a lot of the time you go and you look for that one thing that’s making you feel like shit and you can’t find it. So then you’re left with “oh, it must be me” and nobody likes to hear that you’re the problem. It sucks. That song for me is dealing with “okay well, I don’t know what’s wrong with me and all my life I’ve been trying to figure it out and I can’t so maybe its me,” you know what I mean?  Maybe it’s something that’s beyond my control and it’s very much a hard pill to swallow for a lot of people. I feel like a lot of people can relate to that, like you wake up and you think “oh ya like my girlfriend broke up with me and everything sucked but I’m still miserable and I haven’t been with her for so long so it’s okay, some underlying thing is there,” and you can’t figure out what it is.  So like you think, “maybe I’m just a fucked up person?” and that’s hard to come to terms with.

How do you feel about bands being independent and doing the IndieGoGo or Kickstarter thing?

Off the bat, I don’t really support IndieGoGo or Kickstarter.  When I first heard of that website it was for somebody trying to raise money for a documentary they were trying to film, I feel like it’s a little more reasonable to ask for money for that; if somebody has a product or an idea that people want to support beforehand, and it can be related to music in the exact same way.  People are buying a record for a band that they support, and I get that, but you see it so often where bands are like “yeah we need $30,000” and then turn around and raise way more than that. I wouldn’t blame anybody for getting more than they ask for, that’s humanity: if it’s there you’re going to take it. It’s just like “okay, where was this when we were growing up” and we were 18-years-old and we were like “okay well we have to work jobs so we can go buy a van to play shows.” It’s ass backwards now. With bands being like “oh well if you want us to tour you should be putting us in a van.” I think you should work for what you have, but that’s just my view on it.


How has getting signed to Victory Records impacted your band?  What’s your view on being signed to a label?

I feel like every label is fucked up. There’s shitty parts about every label, you’re never going to find a label that’s completely perfect, that everybody’s thrilled about and that everybody’s stoked on. You just kind of have to get what’s best for your band, what makes the most sense. Victory is good though, they treat us well. There’s always going to be things that they want us to do or things that we want them to do that we’re not going to agree on. That’s just how it works though, our view of the band coming from what we want to do might not work out for them financially with them being like “well how the hell are we going to pay for that?” I try not to worry about it. Maybe I don’t loop our label into it as much as I should but for the most part I’m going to worry about playing shows and writing lyrics and doing the band thing. They can worry about marketing and album shit and that’s the way it should be. That’s why they’re there, we’ll do our job and they’ll do theirs.

What can we expect from Counterparts moving forward in the near future?

Honestly not really too much right now.  We’re going to announce a tour in mid March and April and that’ll be pretty sweet. It’s in America though, that’s the only thing, that’s going to be awesome, but I mean other than that we don’t really have much coming up.  We’ll do another video, I don’t know for which song; we’ll figure that out for sure.  We’ll get it sorted and we’ll see what happens.  2014 could be a big year, we just gotta make the best of it.


Interview and words by Jonathan (Jono) Del Pozo

Photos by Joey Fitzmaurice


COUNTERPARTS at UNITE & IGNITE FEST ’13 – Ottawa Live Review


Who: Counterparts

From: Hamilton, ON

Where: Unite & Ignite Fest 2013 at the Montgomery Legion, Ottawa

When: Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Total Score: 9.5/10

[starreviewmulti id=3 tpl=20]

Style:  Hardcore that leaves you two-stepping for more. With melodic riffs, explosive drumbeats and raw vocals, Counterparts are a force to be reckoned with in the heavy music scene.  Because of profound, relevant lyrics, their following is staggering; relatable hardships that let listeners channel anger through the music.  In a genre that is being done by a myriad of bands, Counterparts has a sound that stands out among the others. Complex song writing, riffs and transitions flow into a masterpiece of the melodic hardcore sound.

Crowd:  With a diverse crowd on hand for the variety of bands on day two of UNITE & IGNITE, anticipation fostered until the time had come for headliners Counterparts to jam.  Even while the band was setting up fans were trying to get as close to the stage as possible to get a spot in the middle of the chaos that was sure to ensue, also trying to peek at the prominent band’s gear and setup.  As the band got ready to play vocalist Brendan Murphy grabbed the microphone and did his sound check. A murmur from the crowd rippled throughout the venue, the tension of the building excitement was about to reach its tipping point.  Murphy addressed the crowd then announced that the band would be playing the single of their new album The Difference Between Hell and Home titled “Witness”.  The hard-hitting tune starts off with Murphy screaming the lyric, “Expose me for all that I am,” and as soon as those words left his mouth pandemonium broke out in the crowd.  Arms and legs flailing everywhere, kids bouncing off the walls going side to side, circle pits, hardcore dancing, pushing and moving bodies shook the basement room of the Montgomery Legion.  The energy was contagious and the band used it to fuel the intimate performance as they are used to playing much bigger venues. The energy was upheld throughout the entire set with a multitude of hits that Counterparts has to offer keeping the crowd rowdy and emotional until the end of the night.

Technicalities: The five-piece band from Hamilton, Ontario had been through an emotional rollercoaster over the past few nights. The remaining members had heavy hearts because of the recent departure of guitarist Alex Re. The Friday before Re had played his last show with the band in their hometown. Moving forward, Adrian Lee is temporarily filling in for Re. Unknown if he is to be the permanent replacement; Lee was a perfect fit, as he did not miss a beat and kept up with the high energy the band brings to the stage. Other guitarist Jesse Doreen and bassist Eric Bazinet accompanied Lee to shred the unique heavy melodic tone into the welcoming ears of the crowd. Kelly Bilan kept up the high pace and energy of the set with his impressive impulsive drumbeats and super loud snare, while Murphy did his thing: owning the stage and interacting with the crowd as the audience screamed his lyrics right back in his face. Counterparts are a tight technical band that brings a new element to melodic hardcore.

Image/Sex Appeal:  Laid back, hockey loving, music playing, funny individuals who are sure to show you a good time. Counterparts portray an image that fits right into the hardcore scene, tattoos and band merchandise a-plenty. The band’s stand out factor is their approachability. Interacting with the many fans that showed up to the venue, it was easy to see how appreciative Counterparts are of their fan base, as well as avoiding the pitfalls a rock star personality. With the vibe that they were no better then the people that watch them play, Counterparts humbly make their presence known in the music scene.

Memorable Moment:  During “Only Anchors” there was a special guest vocalist that definitely caught the crowd by surprise. Due to the nature of the show being more intimate than Counterparts are used to playing, they decided to have a little fun with their set. Their big burly merch guy motioned to Murphy for the microphone and to his surprised grin he received what was asked for. He belted a few lines of the song to the crowd before returning the microphone back to Murphy to continue the set.  A gimmick that brought a little humor and light heartedness to their performance was well received by the band and the crowd alike.

Overall:  Counterparts definitely live up to the hype that follows their name.  In a genre that is currently dominating the music scene, Counterparts has a sound that separates them from getting grouped together as “just another melodic hardcore band.” With a fan friendly attitude, this band is very relatable with their music and lyrics but also through personal experiences.  Their live set is absolutely phenomenal with crowds following them wherever they choose to play a show.  If Counterparts are coming through your town soon don’t sleep on grabbing a ticket, you will not be disappointed.  With three full length albums under their belt, as well as a split EP, an ever loyal fan base and a talent and love for the music they play, it seems evident that Counterparts has no where to go but up.

Reviewed and written by Jonathan (Jono) Del Pozo

Photos by Matthew Clark


Page 4 of 15« First...23456...10...Last »