Lucy – Movie Review
Rating: C (Average)[youtube id=”MOtgZBxfbyc” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Even in science-fiction, there needs to be an internal logic that makes sense within the world’s universe. The way elements are established in the X-Men films, for example, it becomes easy to buy into the super powers the various characters have. Lucy, on the other hand, gets sillier and sillier as it goes along and it all becomes rather unbelievable and eye-rolling. The whole project seems like an excuse to present some impressive special effects and give Scarlett Johansson an action vehicle. There is not taking something seriously and then there’s throwing all common sense out of the window.
From the onset, director/writer Luc Besson makes some strange filmmaking decisions. In the first twenty minutes, the editing will randomly cut to nature documentary footage just to make the animal-like symbolism obvious to the audience. Just as bizarrely will be scenes of Morgan Freeman’s scientist giving a university lecture just to establish the main plot point that drives the story. Straight-forward storytelling is sometimes all you need, especially with a film as simple as this one. However, once Lucy begins gaining her super powers, Besson calms down on this technique. When her brain is at 20%, Lucy is quite interesting with the way she utilises her newfound intelligence without going too far into the realm of silly (though how she is able to walk freely through a hospital while holding a gun is questionable). There is also one of the few scenes of genuine character when she really starts to realise her newfound abilities, even as she kills people left and right. The script even incorporates humour well that fits Lucy’s current situation. Impressively, the movie takes advantage of its international locales by having a good 65% of the dialogue be subtitled. Chinese characters mostly speak Chinese and French characters mainly talk in their native tongue, rather than the movie feeling the need to translate everything into English, especially unnecessary with the rate the international film market is growing.
The more powers Lucy accumulates from the brain drug, the more silly this filmÂ becomes. Hyper-fast reading and quick typing is easy to believe, even hearing from far-off distances. Changing one’s hair colour with your mind? Creating invisible walls? Tapping into somebody’s memory with your hands? Maybe those kinds of abilities are believable on Star Trek or in the Harry Potter series, but when this is portrayed in our world and only using one’s brain, it’s very far-fetched. At one point, Freeman’s character scoffs at these ideas as complete science-fiction and yet even in this genre entry, our reaction is not too dissimilar to his. There’s no rhyme or logic to Lucy’s brain functions. Of course, the biggest problem is that scientists have already proven that humans do use a large percentage of their brains, not the mere 10% Dr. Freeman keeps lecturing about. The science of this film is already a load of balderdash and Besson just takes that to preposterous levels.
Scarlett Johansson does fine in the title role, though the script does not require much from her. She mainly acts stoic and unemotional throughout the movie with the special effects doing the rest. While they are ridiculous, the effects team has a lot of fun with the powers and the there is even a surprising amount of wire work involved. Even the car chases, while haphazardly edited, obviously took a lot of planning and construction. Any other character in Lucy is just there for plot convenience. The French policeman Lucy befriends is not entirely necessary after one scene, which he himself points out. The villains are generic mobsters, whose only directions seem to be to point and shoot. Morgan Freeman is asked to do his usual acting work, even narrating over stock footage at one point. Otherwise, anybody could have been asked to play what is a fairly minor role. However, to be entirely honest, nobody is going to see this film for the performances.
Watching Lucy, one cannot help but think this material would be better served as a Japanese anime. Mamoru Oshii, the director of Ghost in the Shell, would have done wonders with this concept and the crazy imagery would have been well-served by a medium that thrives on it. In its current live-action incarnation, Lucy is extremely implausible and while playing around with science has resulted in some fun and thought-provoking sci-fi over the years, this really pushes the limits of suspension of disbelief. Take away the strong visual effects and there is nothing under the surface and when even the ridiculous theories it presents have already been debunked, there is not much else to latch onto. This film is mindless in more ways than one.
Review By: Stefan Ellison
Yes, Scenesters. As of this Friday your intrepid comedy editor Dean Young (aka ME) will be trekking across the fjords, fields and lava flows of Iceland. The Elf Kingdom!Â
This weekend smells like chaos as I wrap up what could be described as a mad dog Hell hound week in Toronto radio. I’m ready to jet off and fill my lungs and head with crisp, cool refreshing Arctic air. I must soak my wire-frayed nerves in the mineral rich waters of Iceland’s infamous hot pots (natural hot springs, for those of you who HAVEN’T been religiously reading a dog-eared copy of Lonely Planet‘s Iceland guidebook on the subway for the last few weeks)
Let us taste this cool Arctic wind! O yes, there will be rotting shark meat.
The moment I land, its off to Reykjavik to make the rounds on local radio. Then, a live episode of FOREVER YOUNG recorded over local brews at the iconic KEX HostelÂ (Home of Iceland Airwaves, a hallmark on the local music scene. I can thank my friends at KEXP Seattle for the tip off!)Â
Then, its off to the local ‘BAR 11’ to headline a Saturday night on the Iceland Comedy Festival. Bet you didn’t know Iceland had a comedy festival? Me neither, and yet here we are.
All of this comedy + radio malarkey, and my 10 day Viking saga will be recorded on audiotape Gonzo style for the new TALKHOLE. podcast network launching this fall. Yes, I am launching a Canadian podcast network. Hence the vacay!Â
I know what you’re thinking… but Dean, will KITCH Komedy be on hiatus while you’re gone? And when will I find love?
Nope! And maybe? That’s a lot of pressure, kid.
While I’m trekking across the Isle of Bjork, Mr. ALI HASSAN (George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight) Â a great friend of the show will be taking the reigns for me, with a real HUMMMMDINGER of a lineup!
But that is then, and this is now. So here’s THIS!
Our THURSDAY JULY 24 LINEUP!
CLEVE JONES! MIKE TAKACS! TODD VAN ALLEN! KIM SCHNEIDER! CRISTINA MARKHAM! AARON WEINGOTT! DANIEL BORDMAN +MORE!
It all happens at KITCH. In the heart of garage band nation! Every Thursday night at 9.
Home of the famous $5 menu. Home of Bloordale’s BEST Goddamn nachos. Home of one of Toronto’s cult favorite comedy rooms. Home of the Forever Young LIVE podcast. Oh, and home of the new death metal guys who have been making the show weird and fun from the front row every week all summer!Â
(Sponsored Video) – RED is not dead – street artist Jeaze Oner takes it to the next level
Bavaria 8.6 Red is the redesigned cousin of the 8.6 Bavaria Original.Â Â Â French street artist Jeaze Oner and DJ Rolex teamed up with director Fabien Perez to create this unique video that uses all original art work and no after effects.
The street art video aims to inspire artists with symbols of protest and strength such as the raised fist and sickle.Â Â Â If you watch closely there is also an apple of original sin and some other subtle hints of protest and individualism.Â All of the illustrations are coherent with 8.6 Red’s positioning in this new marketing initiative.Â Â We feel that this new approach is strong, like the beer, and will sit well with the seriousÂ connoisseur of fine brews.
The new packaging from this well known strong pale Dutch lager is totally red.Â Â The beer clocks in at 7.9 percent and has been getting rave reviews from online critics.
Bavaria 8.6 Red is a new spin on the Bavaria 8.6 Original but has a completely different flavor and look.Â Â This naturally red beer has hints of spices and notes of caramel and is brewed using only the finest ingredients with no unnatural flavors or colors added.
Based on the new design, rave reviews, creative marketing and just simply the fact that it’s RED, we predict to see this beer explode on the scene.
For more information on Bavaria 8.6 RED, other Bavaria products and where you can find them, please visit their official website Bavaria Official.
This post has been sponsored by Bavaria 8.6 RED, but all thoughts are our own
Half Past Four – Penny’s – Toronto Live Review
Who: Half Past Four
From: Toronto, ON
When: Friday, July 11th, 2014
Total Score: 9/10
Style: Prog Rock
Half Past Four, one of Toronto’s prominent progressive rock bands, played a show at Penny’s last Friday. It was an unusual show even for the band who is known to do unusual (but good) things, and probably unusual for the venue as well.
It was originally set to be a par-for-the-course performance with all five members of the band, however the drummer, Marcello Ciurleo,Â had to cancel last minute due to an emergency. Rather than cancelling the show, the talented band decided to soldier on without their regular man behind the kit, and instead managed via last minute arrangement to bring in one of their first drummers, Michael Tolstikov,Â who last played with the group 8 years earlier. He was not playing the band’s drum kit but instead was set up in front of a pair of bongos propped on top of a chair. As such, the concert had turned into an impromptu half-acoustic rendition of the band’s material.
Half Past Four’s music is quirky, fun, unpredictable, and adventurous. With two albums under their belt, the band has a generous selection of songs to offer their listeners in their live performances. The setup of the venue didn’t entice the audience to crowd in front of the stage so much, but those who were sitting, watching and listening to the band, were doing so intently.
The material sounded very solid given the circumstances of the gig. Particularly fascinating about TolstikovÂ stepping in was that, not only did he not play with the band for almost a decade, he also had no prior knowledge of the material on their most recent album entitled Good Things, and last but certainly not least – there was no rehearsal with him whatsoever given the short notice nature of the lineup arrangement.
The band powered through their songs from both the aforementioned Good Things and their debut Rabbit in the Vestibule, showing little to no desire of ‘watering down’ their sound to accommodate either the bongo drums or the small venue more commonly suitable for a folk set. “Landmines” and “Wolf” stood out the most, with tight yet groove-heavy bass provided by Dmitry ‘Les’ Lesov, note-perfect guitar parts (rhythm as well as lead) by Constantin Necrasov, and melodic intriguing keyboard parts provided by Igor Kurtzman. The vocals, by Kyree Vibrant, were serving the songs as well as they always do, though they did sound a bit quieter in the mix. It seemed that, perhaps consciously, the singing was more subtle so as to blend with the minimalistic drum setup. Although fans of the band who know the material would have picked up on a several hiccups in the drumming, to the casual listener the drumming sounded very blended in with the other instruments. The groove of each section was almost always closely and accurately followed, making the songs work spectacularly well, and serving as a testament to the musicians’ ability to adapt.
Half Past Four closed their set with “Cool Water”, and it is for good reason that they save this one for last. It contains many all elements that a progressive rock song should strive to have – tight songwriting, introspective and thought-provoking lyrics, dissonant yet compelling guitar in the verses, a strong melodic chorus, an extended guitar solo providing a sort of climax for the song, and an out-of-left-field keyboard-driven bridge to bring the song back to the last chorus.
After they had finished and looked about ready to leave, the enthusiastic audience kept cheering and strongly requesting another song. Half Past Four played a popular cover and did not disappoint with the choice and execution – Queen’s incredibly well known “Bicycle Race” was played flawlessly, down to the bicycle bells in the middle section, played by the singer.
Half Past Four continue to excel head and shoulders above many other live bands. As with many modern progressive rock groups, their appeal is not so widespread among the general public, but their music is highly appreciated by lifelong enthusiasts of the prog genre. Though the acoustic approach of the gig was completely unplanned, it does make one wonder what a prepared ‘unplugged’ Half Past Four set would be like.
Written by: Serge Taliansky
Photos by: Victor Vassiliev (vav.photo)
Ottawa Bluesfest Day Nine – Childish Gambino
Written by Shauna Vert
Who: Childish Gambino
From: Georgia, USA
Where: Claridge Stage, RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa
When: Day Nine, July 12th 2014
Total Score: 9/10
When Childish Gambino first flew into the rap scene in 2010, reciting his rhymes was more of a party trick than a musical experience. Clearly, that has changed. A lot. Sure, the viral hit “Freaks and Geeks” is still on the lips of many people (read: that one drunk guy at parties who proudly “knows all the words”), but it’s obvious that Gambino has moved into deeper territory since then.
Standing in the sun on Saturday, I wondered which Gambino was going to show up on the Bluesfest Stage. Would he be his understated “Freaks and Geeks” self? Or the playfully dark artist from “Camp”? Or would the endearingly weird “Because the Internet” Gambino jump on stage (accompanied by a life-sized teddy bear, probably)?
I had no idea. But I was right to assume that it was going to be a good show. The Gambino that stepped out on stage was simple and pure performer–unbuttoned shirt, low hanging pants, and a wicked backup band. That was it, and that was more than enough.
Style: While his songs are still marked with clever puns and innuendos (what else would you expect from a standup comedian?), the release of Childish Gambino’s catchy yet almost-too-artsy album “Because the Internet” has secured his position as an unpredictable force in the hip hop scene. On-stage, the rapper’s delivery was playful, even theatrical. Gambino’s eyes and body language went into full storytelling mode as he spit out lyrics with incredible clarity.
Fans 6/10: There was no doubt that people were having fun, and that Childish Gambino delivered to the screaming fans. I just wish the “fun” reminded me a little less of a non-chaperoned grade 8 school dance. I mean, sure, the crowd was high energy which was awesome, but the borderline pre-pubescent demographic came with a unique set of challenges: new smokers flinging around cigarettes awkwardly (and dangerously), young boys with backpacks starting a mosh pit in the middle of the already jam-packed crowd, and, yes, a lot of stupid hats (though frankly, I would have put up with all the stupid hats in the world to avoid the crowd of 14 year old boys fighting each other for no apparent reason).
Musical Ability 9/10: Childish Gambino’s music is very focused on the words and, while the beats and hooks are catchy, it doesn’t take much to nail them (which, of course, the backup band did). Still, I was surprised by his genuinely on-key vocal capability as he sang through melodic bits, and was even more surprised by his ability to freestyle, a skill he showed off when the crowd cheered him back on stage for five more minutes of entertainment.
Sex Appeal 10/10: Umm…can we talk about those abs for a second, please? Childish Gambino clearly had no problem showing off his super-sculpted torso, even ditching his already unbuttoned shirt for the impromptu encore. I was swooning. Like a teenager. It was awkward.
Memorable Moment: The live performance of “Freaks and Geeks” was exactly as epic as I had envisioned. Childish Gambino gave the crowd ample opportunity to chant the familiar rhymes along with him, pointing the mic to the crowd for some of the more popular lines. Crowds always go crazy when someone plays a big hit, but it was REALLY cool to see that happening with such a fast-paced lyrical frenzy.
Overall: Despite the fact that the entire Ottawa population of 13-year-old boys with stupid hats showed up to the show (seriously, so many stupid hats), Gambino’s performance was incredibly engaging. The man is a true entertainer, and well worth experiencing live.
Pictures by Mark Horton/RBC Bluefest media