“The Lego Movie”
It seems like “The Lego Movie” was swept aside in light of much bigger and supposedly more important movies surrounding its release. If you missed this gem, go see it, even if you never liked Legos. While the movie is basically a giant Lego commercial, the combination of a great storyline, pristine animation, quirky characters and a beautiful message created a movie about plastic toys on par with the “Toy Story” series. It is nearly impossible to finish the movie without having the peppy tune of “Everything is Awesome” bouncing around in your head. Put down the cliche superhero movie or pointless comedy and take a chance with “The Lego Movie.” You won’t regret it.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five months, you’ve heard of the Disney hit “Frozen.” If you’re part of the majority of people on this campus, you’ve seen the movie multiple times, own the soundtrack and have an appropriate Olaf quote for every situation.
The movie was off to a good start when they chose Broadway actors for the voices of their five main characters. Idina Menzel (of “Wicked” fame) and Kristen Bell as sisters Elsa and Anna, Santino Fontana as Prince Hans, Jonathan Groff as ice salesman Kristoff and Josh Gad as snowman Olaf combined their extensive musical experience to make a stellar movie soundtrack. Bell and Fontana’s duet “Love is an Open Door” is a humorous parody of the typical movie theme “love at first sight,” while Gad’s “In Summer” has the listener laughing at the naive snowman’s desire to experience “what frozen things do in summer.” Menzel’s vocal prowess is evident as she belts “Let It God” during one of the movie’s most aesthetically breathtaking scenes.
What makes this movie unique is the characters’ views on love. Kristoff expresses his disbelief that Anna would become engaged to someone she just met, a conventional plot line for most movies. When a final plot twist reveals that the “shining knight” is actually an underhanded power-hungry cad, the solution is not found in another romantic relationship but in the love sisters Anna and Elsa have for each other.
“City Harbor” by City Harbor
City Harbor released its self-titled debut album in February. Its members, the Christian duo Molly Reed and Robby Earle, sing songs different from those catchy sound-good-but-don’t-make-sense worship songs we often find ourselves critiquing in theological discussions or singing in the shower when we’re half asleep. The truth of a faithful God revealing himself in our messy lives is the essence of City Harbor’s lyrics. And the truth of our unfaithfulness but our desire to be healed, free and loved is also something the duo sings about.
“Lift it Up,” my favorite song in the album, is a prayer of a broken and confused person who’s surrendering everything to God. “I Will Rest,” another favorite, speaks of the comfort we find in God simply being God. And “Like I Am” shares the beautiful realization of someone understanding that we are defined by God’s love, not by our mistakes: “You see the good, You see the bad, and You love me like I am.”
Listening to City Harbor’s album will leave you grateful and in awe of who God is, what he’s done and what he’s doing in your life: “You’ve got a plan God. You’re timing’s perfect. Even in the darkness, I know You’re working.”
Mike Mains & the Branches
From the amazing range of the lead vocalist, Mike Mains, to the passionate, heartbreaking lyrics, Mike Mains & the Branches has it all. Comprised of three wonderful members, MMATB sings about life, love and Jesus in a gritty, soulful manner.
Their sound is a mixture of Mumford & Sons and Brand New, and their lyrics have strange and wonderful metaphors similar to Twenty One Pilots. From the death of a child to the understanding of a need for rest, every song will awaken you to the amazing talent God has given these musicians. The lyrics, while catchy, make you think about life, love and Jesus.
And to top it all off, they have one of the best stage presences I’ve ever seen. They love what they do, and it shows with every head bang and shoulder shake. Check them out on Spotify now!
“Tiger Lily” by Jodi Lynn Anderson
“Peter Pan” is arguably one of the best stories ever told, and this unique retelling is absolutely fantastic from start to finish. A story about Neverland and Tinkerbell may sound happy and childish, but “Tiger Lily” is neither. It tells the classic tale in a more realistic manner. Peter Pan doesn’t fly. There is no pixie dust or a tick-tocking crocodile trying to devour a crazed Captain Hook. And Tiger Lily is the central character – daunting and hardened, but somehow vulnerable when she develops a friendship with the infamous Peter Pan. This novel is raw and painful. It’s a beautifully written and heartbreaking look at the untold side of Neverland, the vices that consume us and the harm that can come from trying to be something other than what we are. “Tiger Lily” will fascinate, enthrall and ultimately wreck you as only the best books can.
“Schindler’s List” by Thomas Keneally
“Schindler’s List” is an international bestseller that tells the story of prison camp director Oskar Schindler and his attempts to save the lives of Polish Jews from German gas chambers during World War II. As a fan of World War II history and a sucker for “based on a true story” books and movies, this classic was right up my alley.
Schindler was a wealthy young businessman at the beginning of World War II. He easily could have turned a blind eye to the ethnic cleansing and genocide carefully planned by the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Instead, he focused on making his factories integral to the Nazi war efforts, ensuring that any Jews he employed would be safe from exile to a death camp.
Keneally traveled the world to interview over fifty World War II survivors who owe their survival to Schindler’s actions. He also visited the sites of Polish concentration camps and Schindler’s factories. His research enabled Keneally to depict Schindler as he was, without sentiment or exaggeration. Schindler was not without his flaws. He had affairs with several women and did not hesitate to bribe officials whose influence he wished to sway in his favor. Yet, this man singlehandedly saved more Jews from extermination than any other person during World War II. If you are a history buff or simply enjoy spending some of that extensive free time you have as a college student reading, this book is for you.
“The Merciful Scar” by Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue
I’m not one to audibly react when I’m momentarily lost in the fictional world of the latest novel I’m reading. But I laughed and sighed so many times while reading “The Merciful Scar” that my roommate thought I had gone crazy (well, crazier than my present state). I joined Kirsten on her healing journey from her addiction to cutting herself – one that took us both to a sheep ranch run by a retired nun. The setting is hilarious, but the subject matter not so much. Rebecca St. James’ first fiction book is intended for teens, but I’d argue even an older audience could significantly relate to James’ and Rue’s characters. A touch of romance, family quarrels, mysterious relatives and a college student carrying a load of shame. “The Merciful Scar” is the first novel I’ve read in a long time that has stirred me deep inside to look inward, examining my own life and the guilt I may have packaged up nicely and left there.
Place to De-Stress:
Fetch, otherwise known as the puppy store in the Fairfield Commons Mall
Basically, puppies eat stress. And when classes and/or life in general are starting to overwhelm you, the best way to de-stress is to play with some puppies. Despite the sudden influx of puppies with K-9’s at the Ville now at Cedarville, there are definitely not enough puppies to go around. That is where Fetch comes in. Fetch sells puppies and kittens, but the puppies are the ones that eat stress. The kittens are cute, but you can’t play with them. Plus they turn into cats, and cats are just cats. There are little play areas available for people to play with the puppies, though. Remember to bring some form of ID with you because sometimes the workers check to make sure you are 18 or older. If you have no ID, you may not be able to play. Also, the earlier you show up in the day the better. The popular breeds like huskies, labs, golden retrievers and the other dogs that don’t look like rats are usually all played out in the evenings and may be asleep.
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to list all the kings and queens of England but couldn’t? Do you need a refresher on history?
If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then “Horrible Histories” is for you.
“Horrible Histories” is a children’s show on the BBC, which ran for five seasons, with the final season coming out just last year. Based off the series of books of the same name, “Horrible Histories” is a Monty Python-esque show, teaching history through sketches and song parodies.
What better way is there to learn about the Incan priests than a parody of “Stayin’ Alive” (in “Horrible Histories,” it’s “Ain’t Stayin’ Alive”)? Or maybe you have trouble keeping straight Henry VIII’s six wives? Well, there’s a song for that (complete with hand motions!) – “The Wives of Henry VIII: Divorced, Beheaded & Died.”
And who doesn’t love a good “High School Musical” parody, especially when it’s about vicious Spartans (“Spartan School Musical”)? Of course, there’s also always a time when you need to know who the four most evil Roman emperors were. But where could you find that and learn it in a catchy song? Oh, that’s right – “Horrible Histories” in “The Evil Emperor’s Song.”
“Enlisted” might be the best new show you’ve never heard of. As the name implies, “Enlisted” is a workplace comedy about life in the military. The show centers around the Hill brothers, Pete, Derrick and Randy. Pete, the eldest, is a war hero sent home on disciplinary leave. He finds himself stationed in Florida with his two younger brothers as part of a rear detachment (soldiers who stay behind when a unit is deployed). Rear D is home to an eclectic group of soldiers, and Pete must put his war days aside to lead this band of misfits.
Unlike some other envelope-pushing sitcoms, “Enlisted” doesn’t need to be vile in order to be funny. Instead of the usual sex jokes typically found on Friday night TV shows, the humor of “Enlisted” comes from its witty dialogue and unique characters. Not only is the show well-written, but it also features top-notch acting (a rare combo for television these days). Nowhere is this more noticeable than in the dynamic between the drastically different Hill brothers.
Though the future of this budding comedy looks grim (FOX recently pulled it from their scheduled programming), you can still watch episodes online at Fox.com and Hulu.
“Hannibal” is one of the shows that can only be described as art. Created by Bryan Fuller (“Pushing Daisies,” “Dead Like Me”), every episode of this groundbreaking show is a wonderful masterpiece. Fuller is known for being highly eccentric and somewhat of a mad man; however, his flamboyant personality comes to life in the astonishing colors and sounds that dance across the screen.
The show is a prologue to “Red Dragon” and walks through the life of Will Graham, an FBI consultant. The chilling story shows the relationship between Graham and Hannibal Lector before he was given the infamous title of Hannibal the Cannibal. Each episode presents an artistically crafted murder and keeps you on your toes, desperate for the characters to learn what you already know.
While not for the faint of heart, “Hannibal” truly is one of the most beautiful shows to ever be shown on television. If you desire to be entranced by a majestic, heart-stopping work of art, then you should become a Fannibal.
“Cabin Pressure” was written by John Finnemore and relates the struggles of a small charter airline trying to stay afloat. However, MJN Air’s owner Carolyn Knapp-Shappey (Stephanie Cole) will undoubtedly assure you that she does not run an airline, she runs an airdot. (In order to have an airline, you must have more than one plane. You cannot put one plane in a line. Since she only owns one plane, she has an airdot.)
Carolyn has a small crew with such clashing personalities that you wonder how they possibly get along. But somehow it all works.
The characters (Captain Martin Crieff as voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, First Officer Douglas Richardson as voiced by Richard Allam and steward Arthur Shappey as voiced by show creator John Finnemore) are so well-written that the audience gets drawn into the story and truly cares about what happens.
Will MJN survive all their ups and downs? Will the four crew members be able to eat 400 quiches? How will they get a piano to Ottery St. Mary from Fitton when everything comes crashing down around them? How long can a cat survive in an unheated cargo hold at 34,000 feet?
Finnemore’s comedic genius comes through his scripts and his performance as Arthur. This show highlights many different tones of humor – the sarcastic, the dry, the ignorant and the truly hilarious, just to name a few.
Finnemore’s brilliance and style have never wavered throughout the existing 25 episodes, and the series finale will be as strong as the others. So far, the show has titled its episodes from “Abu Dhabi” to “Yverdon-les-Bains,” with the final episode titled “Zurich.” Yes, Finnemore created a 26-episode long sitcom with titles running in (mostly) alphabetical order.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The final episode of “Cabin Pressure” was recorded on Feb. 23 to be aired sometime this year (and it can’t come soon enough for me!).