Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Just Another ‘Thing’

Courtest of Universal Pictures

By Nick Rosa

With its intensity and great special effects, John Carpenter’s 1984 The Thing is one of my favorite horror films.  The new The Thing has the intensity but lacks many of Carpenter’s horror visual, giving viewers an incomplete experience. Overall, The Thing is suspenseful but falls short of innovation.

This version is a prequel to Carpenter’s film, taking place right before the beginning of the original. The film begins with the initial finding of the alien space craft and that leads into finding The Thing frozen in the ice.  Kate, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Live Free or Die Hard, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), is a paleontologist called upon to study the creature. When removed for examining, the ice thaws at the research center and the Thing breaks loose, causing all hell to break loose.

Kate is chosen by Dr. Sander Halversen, portrayed by Ulrich Thomsen, and referred by  Adam Goodman, played by Eric Christian Olsen, a close friend and assistant to Dr. Halversen, to head up this find.  For those of you unaware of what The Thing is: it’s an alien species that imitates its prey by absorbing them.   The alien cells replicate human cells to take form of whoever it attacks.

This is what the film has going with plenty of “gotcha” scenes making you jump and your heart drop.  While paranoia sets in on the crew at the research station out in the middle of Antarctica with no help for miles, the dangerous puzzle game of knowing who is who begins to set in after the first victim.

The one thing that was disappointing was that it lacked character development compared to the original in 1984.  We had no one really to attach to compared to Macready, Childs, and Windows from the original.  You don’t see Goodman and Winstead’s characters relationship develop.  All you see is Goodman’s character hide behind Winstead and Thomsen’s characters. However, Thomsen is played very well as the crazy doctor who is resilient in keeping the mission to themselves and no one else, no matter the cost.

The original had an amazing soundtrack and great effects. And I mean great effects.  The CGI in this new prequel made the alien look like all other films these days.  The alien was a different and effective monster for the film but nowhere compares to being as terrifying as the original, with its gooey and gory effects.  In the 1984 version, we saw much less of the alien but that made it much more frightening than seeing the alien in CGI during every attack. Nonetheless, the score in this new one is just as good, even having some of the 1984 score within the film.  Both films also have intense flame thrower scenes where everything is doused in flames, burning everything to a crisp.

The supply of non-stop entertainment within the film will keep you on the edge of your seat– no doubt about it.  It’ll get you thinking about what is going to happen next and trying to predict who is actually infected.  Long dark corridors of the space craft, the dark storage rooms within the facility, could be hiding The Thing, ready to pop out at any moment.  Characters are consistently going off by themselves, giving us a harder way to judge, who is really “The Thing.”

The ending leads us into the original film, which I recommend seeing first before this new one.  It’s not the original but it’s still a movie that will keep you guessing, jumping, and on the edge of your seat.

20 Under 20: CT Whale Hockey

By Brittany Burke

Hartford hockey and the CT Whale are officially back for the 2011-2012 season, and they are only a mere 11 miles and roughly 18 minutes away from CCSU.

In its first full season as the CT Whale, formerly known as the Hartford Wolfpack, the New York Rangers farm team returns to the XL Center in Downtown Hartford for at least 38 fun filled hockey nights!

The Whale is an affordable taste of professional hockey, for as low as $7 you and your friends can enjoy 60 minutes of fast-paced and hard-hitting hockey. The upper level of the XL Center begins at $7, but ticket prices don’t exceed $25, which could get you right near the glass and up close and personal with the Whale athletes.

This season Whalers Sports and Entertainment has plans to bring back college I.D. discount nights. This means on selected nights throughout the season ticket prices are reduced to as low as $5 with a college I.D., it’s just one more use for the CCSU Blue Chip card.

Aside from professional level hockey, the new season also means a new slew of free giveaways, and what college student doesn’t love free stuff? Fans also have a chance to win sponsor prizes by participating in games done throughout the game, think Minute to Win it meets the AHL.

Walking distance from some of the best bars downtown, going to a CT Whale game is a fun and affordable weekend night out for any college student, you don’t even have to like hockey to enjoy yourself.

What To Watch On NBC Thursdays

The cast of Community

By Gunarso Nguyen

Kicking off a start to the season with a brazen mockery of Fox’s Glee, Community opened its third year on air with a bizarrely high production musical number that set the tone for the rest of the season.

Chevy Chase returns to his role as the incorrigibly racist Pierce Hawthorne, ostensibly reformed after he took the character to new heights of villainy last season, a return that was in question at the finale of second season.  Thick with in-jokes, the first two seasons of Community were a paean to nerds and movie buffs, rife with brazen references to a wide variety of media that is far too extensive to list.  The third season is no less full of in-jokes, almost unapologetically so, as the season opener makes two homages (that border on theft were it not for the obvious humor) to Stanley Kubrick in the form of a Space:2001 scene and another, subtler scene where Jeff Winger (played with sleep-deprived insanity by Joe McHale) attacks the community table with a fireaxe, a scene strongly reminiscent of the Kubrick’s The Shining.  For the proper nerd, the premiere also opens up Abed’s new favorite show, Inspector Spacetime, a blatant parody of the classic science-fiction show Doctor Who, which he instantly declares as the greatest show he’s ever seen, much to the delight of sci-fi fans.  The alacrity with which “Inspector Spacetime” has reached internet meme status is a testament to Dan Harmon’s (lead writer and creator of Community) ability to keep his finger on the pulse of popular geekery.

The season premiere has the old crew, reunited, facing off against their latest obstacle in the form Michael K. Williams as the ex-convict biology professor.  Once again, Community riffs on pop culture by giving Williams’ character a background as an ex-con as homage to his stint as Omar Little on The Wire.  Later episodes this season take jabs (occasionally more like roundhouses) at Fringe, Whitney, and others, to be certain.  Despite all the in-jokes, for the uninitiated, Community manages to be funny and engaging with complex characters who defy one-dimensional analysis, except when it’s funny to do otherwise. Community is on every Thursday at 8:00pm, EST, on NBC.

The case of Parks And Recreation

By Gunarso Nguyen

The strangely heartwarming shenanigans of Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler returned last month with a satire lifted from almost directly from Obama’s birther-conspiracy fiasco.  P&R steals directly from modern events the way Law and Order used to, only from political fiascoes instead of criminal ones, filing off the serial numbers for copyright purposes and slander shielding.  It does so in a way that is simultaneously both mind-numbingly mundane and starkly surreal, striking some sort of bizarre balancing act, like a drunk bear juggling on a unicycle on a tightrope.  P&R could easily fail, and fail hard, but stays afloat on the genius of the awkwardness of the main characters.  The brilliance of P&R lies in its ability to satirize government bureaucracy in a microcosm of small town escapades without resorting to caricatures or directly impugning either major political party, and at the same time be remarkably on point.

The fourth season premiere kicks off with the start of Leslie Knope’s announcement of a political campaign for a seat on the town council, followed by a series of awkward face-palming mishaps that threaten to endanger his career before it even gets started.  Amy Poehler, even when pushed to the background a bit as she was in the second episode of the season, Ron and Tammy’s, brings a delightfully bizarre absurdity to the table, manifested in small and subtle acting that hints at a deeper pathos.

It is the third episode of the season, however, that directly mocks the Obama-birther conspiracy fiasco, as it comes to light that Leslie Knope may not have been born in Pawnee, over a completely inconsequential detail that is blown entirely out of proportion.  If that doesn’t sound familiar to you, I suggest you pull your head out of your donkey and read a newspaper once before you die, and Parks and Recreation may not be for you. Parks and Recreation is on every Thursday night at 8:30, following Community.

James Spader joins the case of The Office

By Nicholas Proch

The most popular of the big shows on NBC Thursdays is starting to get lost. It’s lost in its own world of mediocrity. The shows previous strengths have now become weaknesses. The actors seem to lack devotion to their characters. This ship has sailed.

The Office used to play on inter-office relationships and conflicts better than any show of its kind. As a matter of fact, there wasn’t another show of its kind. It was unique, the characters were well-developed and they took every day occurrences and made them in to pure insanity. It was magic watching this show several years ago.

Then came something that the producers didn’t see coming; Steve Carrell didn’t want to be Michael Scott anymore. The show’s biggest source of conflict was suddenly about to walk (or fly) out of the story. How could they replace him? He’s a major player in this show.

The end of last season was spent deciding who would be the newest boss. It included hilarious appearances by Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Ray Romano and Warren Buffett. All of these characters helped to bring the story forward. They chose to employ James Spader, who plays Robert California, to be their new boss.

He’s a fantastic actor. So great, that the other characters don’t interact with him very well. It’s half intended this way and half by accident. The lovability about this show is now gone. The characters that once had a place as supporting cast are now expected to do too much. There’s too much Stanley, Kevin and Phyllis.

The supporting cast has now become the main cast and that’s unfortunate. This should have been Dwight and Jim’s show to run, but NBC hasn’t gotten that right to this point. Through only a few episodes in this season you can tell that this show has come off the tracks. Hopefully they can fix that and get back to the place they once were. Otherwise, we’re going to be watching a slow, public and painful death to a once-great show. The Office airs every Thursday at 9:00pm, EST, on NBC, following Parks and Recreation.

Jackman Shows He’s The Real Deal

By Nicholas Proch

Transformers meets Ali meets Toy Story. Robots, boxing and a tribute to Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. That’s what Real Steel could have been, but it was not. For that reason alone, this may be worth the price of admission.

Any time that a director can take such a ridiculous idea, such as fighting robots in the year 2020, and make it believable, it’s worth seeing. It’s a testament to both the directing and acting that this film wasn’t completely cheesy.

At times it may have been, but only in a good way. For the most part, it was believable. Set in a time where human boxing has been thrown to the wayside in lieu of robot boxing, where they can rip each other into pieces, it feels real.

This may be because Dreamworks took the time to hire the right cast. It may be because the idea was so original that it couldn’t be corny. Or it may be because of the fact that there was an overwhelming amount of money poured into this film that we’re all distracted by the seamless integration of real action and CGI. It may have been all of those things.

Hugh Jackman (The Prestige, X-Men) and Dakota Goyo (Thor) have the audience in their grasp for the majority of the 127 minutes that you are parked in your seat watching them. It’s not common for a 12-year old to have acting skills like this. At times he dominates Jackman, but only when he really needs to. The rest of the time Jackman is experimenting with his newly found heart that he hasn’t shown in many of his previous attempts.

Directed by Shawn Levy (Night At The Museum, Date Night), he’s starting to flex his box office muscles, and this should be no different. Levy shows that he can portray what his characters are thinking better than most. He hangs on facial expressions and slows dialogue in an uncommon way. This enhances the viewing experience.

There are some drawbacks to having great performances by your leads. The supporting cast doesn’t quite live up to what Jackman and Goyo are doing on screen. They seem fake and unimportant, which is the opposite of the co-stars.

Jackman plays Charlie Kenton. He’s a former professional boxer who has fallen on hard times and can only make a living by fighting his robots underground against other machines. You can picture this as an underground cock-fighting ring, but take away the roosters and drug use and add one-ton robots and whatever it is they take in 2020.

Dakota plays Kenton’s son, who he left at birth. Through a series of circumstances, which become a source of conflict and tension throughout the film, they are stuck together for a summer. During this time you can see their relationship grow and build. It’s more than just a boxing movie, but a reflection of tough times and fatherhood.

If you don’t go into this film with high expectations, you won’t be disappointed. As soon as you start to criticize every action that is done on the screen you will lose interest. If you can take this film for what it is worth and respect the fact that this team of producers has made something unique, you will walk away satisfied.

20 Under 20: Pinkberry

By Sarah Bogues

I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream. Just take out ‘ice cream’ and insert ‘frozen yogurt,’ and you have yourself a nice chant to Pinkberry’s delicious frozen yogurt.

This international frozen yogurt chain is located just less than 6 miles from CCSU, in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square across from the Cheesecake Factory. Having just opened last Thursday October 6, Pinkberry proves to be a hit  with its scrumptious flavors of frozen yogurt, over 30 different toppings, smoothies, fruit bowls, and fruit parfaits.

As a new face in town, the fro-yo joint has succeeded in having a welcoming atmosphere and friendly workers. The Pinkberry workers offer samples of the different flavors of frozen yogurt to allow customers decide what will be the best frozen yogurt treat. It’s not the pleasant atmosphere and service that Pinkberry has such a good reputation for, but the delectable, tangy fro-yo. That sentiment is echoed by the line of hungry and excited customers outside.

With the original flavor as vanilla, there are also several seasonal flavors along with flavors in the flavor vault, which take “vacations” and come and go as they please. The seasonal flavors consists of original, chocolate, coconut, watermelon, pomegranate, and mango while the flavor vault consists of blood orange, coffee, green tea, salted caramel, passion fruit, and pumpkin. All of these flavors have suggested pairings of toppings to make them more delicious and realistic as their name suggests.

For instance, the current seasonal flavor is “PB&J” which consists of peanut butter frozen yogurt with strawberry jam and toasted breadcrumbs, almost like the real thing Mom makes. Another delicious flavor that reaches out into the fall season is “pumpkin” flavor, which has pumpkin fro-yo, honey graham crackers, swirly whip, and cinnamon. This flavor will be introduced in a couple weeks around Halloween time. True, all of these flavors can be enjoyed as is with only frozen yogurt, but the many toppings put the treat over the edge.

The toppings consists of fresh fruit (pineapple, strawberries, and much more), dry toppings (cheesecake bites, brownies bites, cookies & cream, and more), luxe toppings (peanut butter crunch, milk chocolate crunch, and swirly whip), and liquid toppings (caramel, honey, and pomegranate juice.)

Even with other competitions in the area such as Robek’s Juice and Ben & Jerry’s, both in West Hartford Center, and Yogurt Madness located on the Berlin Turnpike, Pinkberry has promise for success. Pinkberry takes the original frozen yogurt to a whole new level with a delectable variety of flavors and toppings that appeases the hungry, fro-yo craving stomach.

In terms of prices, a mini frozen yogurt with toppings starts out at $3.45 with $5.45, $6.75, and $8.25 for a small, medium and large respectively, no matter the flavor or amount of toppings. A small and medium original frozen yogurts with toppings are $4.95 and $6.25, different to the respective prices stated above. Yet a mini frozen yogurt without toppings starts out at $2.95 with $4.15, $5.15, and $7.25 for a small, medium, and large respectively. As stated previously a small and medium original frozen yogurt without toppings are $3.65 and $4.65, different to the respective prices stated above.

If looking for prices for smoothies, fruit bowls, and fruit parfaits or just wanting to browse more in depth on flavors, one can visit Pinkberry’s website www.pinkberry.com.

So grab the new delectable fro-yo in town, and have a blast enjoying the scrumptious flavors and toppings the way Pinkberry can only offer.