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batman

The Dark Knight Rises… into theaters: A Review

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It’s pretty safe to say that the release of The Dark Knight Rises was one of, if not the most, anticipated film this summer. Since 2005, Christopher Nolan has kept us on the edge of our seats with his wonderfully macabre telling of the Batman tale. On a personal level, I have always had a very strong fondness for the entire Batman world. The dark knight has always ranked at the very top of my list of superheroes, particularly because he’s the antihero.  When you think about recent films, shows, and projects, antiheroes have really stepped into the spotlight lately (consider works such as Dr. Horrible or Breaking Bad). I’m sure we could spend all day considering the psychology of this, but today we’re more focused on Batman, and suffice it to say, the recent Nolan Batman films fit right into this antihero craze. Add the long-standing fandom of the Batman world to the antihero love, and cap it off with the brilliant success of the highly acclaimed last installment, The Dark Knight, and you have a recipe for some high levels of excitement. I do believe, in a lot of ways, the ending to this trilogy lived up to the hype. However, some aspects left me looking for more. Let’s get to that now.

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From here on out, all you’ll see is SPOILERS. If you have not seen the movie, and don’t want it SPOILED, skip to the next article instead.

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One thing I greatly admire about Nolan’s take on the Batman story is his ability to reinvent characters. Nolan faced the challenge of demystifying the characters in the Batman realm, bringing them more to life by making them more human, while still remaining true to the comics. In some ways, this leaves us with a lot of questions about specific characters and their origins, while lending a new sense of intrigue to them. Take, for instance, Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight: we never got a solid origin story out of that, but the way he spoke about his potential origins, he gave us a deep look into the psychosis of this character. This relates to the newly introduced characters, too. Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, put simply, was brilliant. Throughout the film, Selina Kyle hints several times at a past filled with bad mistakes and regrets. We never get the details on what happened with her past, but we’re told why she wants it erased to badly, and certainly feel her sense of urgency to the point that we can feel her justification for all of her devious plots. Meanwhile, we get a glimpse at the remnants of Bruce Wayne’s internal torment. We see old, exalted photos of a half-forgotten life hindering his ability or desire to move on.  We also get to watch him come back to life and force himself to be the hero he is, not because he wants to, but because he has to.  This need to return to Batman is also hastened by Gotham City PD’s Officer Blake, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt. Blake was an orphan, himself, who depended on Wayne’s contributions to local charities growing up, and who was inspired by Batman’s moral influence and strong will to help the people of Gotham. So with that in mind, we enter into this film being immediately greeted by three strong characters in desperate situations.

Next, we have Bane. In many stories, Bane has pretty much been the equivalent of a pumped up hired gun. However, the original Dixon story that influenced Bane’s presence in The Dark Knight Rises, “Knightfall,” gives him a much stronger presence. Because of that story arc in the comics, Bane became known as “The Man Who Broke the Bat,” for having broken Batman’s back during a fight. This is also true of TDKR. The very first fight between Bane, played by Tom Hardy, and Batman is an extremely powerful scene. After teaming up with Catwoman, Batman is brought down to the sewers to find Bane and confront him head-on. Before they get all the way there, Batman is pulled away from Catwoman, and thrown onto a metal walkway, going across the sewers below, with Bane, and locked there. Instantly, the music drops, so all you hear are select sounds from the confrontation and fight. The entire time, we see Catwoman clinging on to the bars of the walkway, obviously distraught about double-crossing the dark knight, and very concerned for his life. The blows go back and forth rather evenly for a while before Bane takes a very commanding lead, tossing Batman around like a rag doll. Eventually, true to the story it was adapted from, the scene turns more serious when Bane lifts Batman over his head, then drops the Bat onto his knee, breaking his back. To add insult to injury, Bane peels half of the broken mask from the fallen hero’s face while he’s writhing in pain on the ground, and tosses it aside. Leaving the scene with the symbolic gesture of discarding something that was meant as a beacon of hope for the people of Gotham.

Above all, though, I’d have to say my own personal favorite character here was Miranda, played by a fantastic actress, Marion Cotillard. Miranda is Bruce’s business-associate-turned-love interest throughout the story, growing more and more prominent in his life. While Batman is recovering, Bane is taking over Gotham, with the promise of destroying it with a nuclear bomb, and the entire city is left to fight and scavenge. During this time, Miranda appears to be working with Bruce’s business associates, but of course we come to find out this is a ruse. After Batman seemingly defeats Bane, we get Miranda’s reveal. Throughout the entire film, we’ve been teased with what is presented to be Bane’s backstory. A small child in a prison made out of a giant hole in the ground, nicknamed “Hell.” The child is the only person to ever escape this prison by climbing the walls. This is the same prison Batman is exiled to while recovering from his broken spine. To get out of the prison, he has to climb the same wall the small child did. After several tries, he manages this feat while the rest of the prisoners are shouting “Rise! Rise!” in their own language. We hear the story of the child – the spawn of a mercenary and a noblewoman – in pieces, but we hear the ending from Miranda. This child turns out to be Miranda, who reveals that she is actually Talia al Ghul, there to fulfill the legacy of her father, Ra’s al Ghul. In the Batman universe, Talia is a character with a long history of being Batman’s love interest, Catwoman’s rival, and Bane’s accomplice. However, showing Talia as the little girl escaping “Hell,” supported by her childhood friend and protector, Bane, gives a whole new level of emotional depth to both of these characters. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Marion Cotillard presents this reveal scene with a certain stoicism that makes the entire twist seem that much more significant.

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The Love Space Gives Is as Deep as the Oceans

Tara McPherson’s Bunny In The Moon (NSFW)

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The Love Space Gives Is as Deep as the Oceans

Although not a huge follower of ‘pop art’ I’ve always felt a special draw towards the art of Tara McPherson. I own her last book, Lost Constellations, and have her prints on my wall. She has a very distinct style that manages to stand out among a sea of modern pop culture art, a delicate touch of feminine aesthetics mixed with vibrant colors and sharp lines. McPherson has worked on everything an artist can put a pen to including concert posters, circus flyers, art prints, toys, electronics and novelty items; one of my favorites is her coloring book. The bookmarks, sketch books and other fun accessories feel a bit like a grown up, slightly twisted and dark Lisa Frank, the line of super bright, sparkly sticker and coloring kits for tweens.

Safety of Water

Not to understate the gorgeous work that is the foundation of Tara McPherson’s art empire, Bunny in the Moon is yet another well developed collection of colorful, macabre scenes from somewhere deep in her imagination. As Morgan Spurlock says in his doting foreword, “From her first rock poster to her last solo show, Tara has been and remains an uncompromising artist, creating both a body of work and mainstream art-pop success that are unlike anything else in the art scene.”

The book opens with some of McPherson’s trademark beautiful females, surrounded by heavily detailed graphics that express each character in their own world. The artist has a skill for giving the impression of a story being told, one that you are as much the author of as she is, using just one main character, often blanketed by celestial entities, spirit animals or dripping in viscous fluids.

The Bunny in the Moon

She then invites readers to follow her through the creation process from rough sketches to polished, multi-layered oil paintings. I find this quite fun, especially in a world largely dominated by digital art; seeing the hand drawn lines as she creates them feels like a rare peek into McPherson’s personal sketch book.

I’m not a ‘hearts and flowers’ kind of girl, I don’t care for art that uses the female body strictly as a cheap tool of stimulation or shock value. One of the things I appreciate about Tara McPherson is that she manages to portray a definite feminine charm without too much fluff or overt sexualism. Her characters don’t adhere to puritanical boundaries (much of the work is NSFW) but they are entangled in scenes of power, manipulation and dark, sometimes morbid engagements. For long time fans of McPherson she revisits a few classic favorites like the ‘Wiggles’. The artist’s work maintains the same trademarks as it has from the beginning: a perfect blend of sweet girlishness, rock star edge, malicious intent and floaty, surreal fantasy environments.

Cirque Du Soleil - Zarkana

I recommend this book for any level of art lover, but especially those who feel less than satisfied with some of the ‘modern pop art’ available today. Bunny in the Moon is an art collection that will always spark conversation and interest among a variety of casual coffee table perusers.

Bunny in the Moon hits shelves March 14, and is available now for pre-order through Dark Horse Comics.

theartistpleasebesilent

The 2012 Academy Awards: Your Guide for Appearing Informed

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Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there. Well, since you’re here, I guess it’s that time of year again, when we go through last year’s best films, and then nominate two or three of them for Best Picture Oscars and six other acceptable movies for the rest.

In 2010 the possible number of nominees for the Best Picture category was raised to 10, which made seeing all the nominees twice as difficult and usually included at least one or two really mediocre movies where you were like, “Really? You think this is one of the ten best movies of last year?” This year, because they no longer HAD to nominate 10, and because they were having a really classy year in which they hired a homophobe to direct the Oscars who later quit after he made himself the asshole of Hollywood if he wasn’t already, the Academy decided to only nominate nine movies, because of course, there were only nine movies last year. (As far as I’m concerned, this is the only excuse.)

I’d just like to take a moment out to point out what bullshit it is that Bridesmaids didn’t get the 10th nomination, as I’m pretty sure the category’s expansion to 10 was just so movies like Bridesmaids COULD be nominated. Would I have expected it to win? No. Would it have been great to see a movie that clearly featured, at least according to the Academy, Oscar-caliber writing and acting score a Best Picture nom as well, since it was obviously operating within that sphere? Yes. Do I think it would have really helped the state of women in movies? Yes, actually I do. But the Academy, because it wants you to know that it doesn’t have to nominate 10 movies, only nominated nine.

Anyway, let’s sit and talk about those nine movies, several of which are good, some of which are okay, and one of which made me want to claw my own brain out and then eat it. Annoyingly for my post-writing purposes, a lot of the acting nominees aren’t from these movies, making it harder to discuss that, but don’t worry about it. At the end I’m gonna briefly summarize who is likely to win (not necessarily whom I, personally, wish would win), whether or not they’re from these nine movies. But in case you didn’t see them, and want to sound knowledgeable and like you did so you can argue with your friends using subjective analyses, please feel free. Also please feel free to argue with me, unless you want to argue about Tree of Life, in which case there’s no point.

For your convenience, here’s an easy way to jump from movie to movie, if you don’t want to read them all (since, even with only nine movies, this post is monstrous), and also for the most part they are free of spoilers that you wouldn’t find on the back of a DVD cover or something unless otherwise indicated.

 

The ArtistThe DescendantsExtremely Loud & Incredibly CloseThe HelpHugo
Midnight in ParisMoneyballThe Tree of LifeWar Horse
The Short Version 

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dexterandharrison

Dexter Season 6: Post-Mortem

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“What is this, Horseville? Because I’m surrounded by naysayers!” – Tracy Jordan

The blessing and the curse of a show like Dexter is its inevitable season 4. Every show worth anything has one: the game-changing season, the one that’s obviously the best and no one can ever top it. For the rest of the time the show’s on air people’ll be like, “Yeah, but it’s not as good as that one season,” longing for the good old days of that one season, like it’s Mom’s recipe for cookies and while other cookies may be acceptable and even delicious they’re just not like Mom’s, and therefore, they suck.

I read an article before season 5 of even began production suggesting season 4 was so goddamn good that it had jumped the shark. By being too good. Because you could never ever top it. At the time I thought it was a silly notion, but as more time passes, and more people grow critical of the show for reasons I can’t understand much of apart from “it’s not as pants-pissingly amazing as the last few episodes of season 4,” I’m starting to believe it.

As fans, we’re not always quite sure what we want. On the one hand, lots of Dexter fans love the show the way it used to be; on the other hand, they understand that you can never go back to the beginning or it’ll all have been futile. Shows have tried and failed at this before (Heroes). And now Dexter is in an awkward position of being damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. People are growing tired of the formula, tired of Dexter still confronting problems with himself that he had in season 1, but at the same time, when he evolves and grows and learns from his mistakes, people complain that he’s not like he used to be. How can he possibly be both things? And yet we want the opposite of whatever we get. The grass is always greener, etc. I think sometimes we long for a time machine, so we could go back to that time before we knew and were used to Dexter, and still be surprised and amazed that it even exists at all. I think a lot of the complaints people have with the show are based in some inherent desire we all have to be, I don’t know, younger again.

But when you have a mind-blowing life-altering experience, you’re not going to be the same person you were before. And when you live in the universe of Dexter Morgan, one in which literally every day is a harrowing battle of life and death and also bath time (in the best and worst ways), the stakes are always high, and sometimes things change. We’ve seen Dexter morph from a single serial killing bachelor to a serial killing widower and dad. He’s seen consequences for what he’s done. He’s seen love and loss. What kind of show would Dexter be if, after all these years, and after all these things that Dexter has done, and that have happened to him, he has never been punished, or never changed, or ever questioned himself? So stop asking for the old Dexter again. You cannot have him back. You can never go home. It will never be the same. Move on.

I won’t disagree that season 6 has had its share of problems. I practically shat myself on more than one occasion but I still didn’t feel the religious fervor for it that I felt in season 4. (And you know what? Season 4 had ITS share of problems, too, it’s just everyone forgot what they were in retrospect.) And when I did some soul searching and asked myself exactly why that was (for me this is heavy soul searching), the answer was exactly what I said above: it’s like reading Harry Potter for the 13th time (this applies to almost anything you’ve read or seen excessively). It could still be the most amazing book you’ve ever read, but no matter how hard you try, you can never go back to the first time you read it. And you want to. You remember the feeling of magic, the excitement of its newness, the disbelief that something so cool could exist. But now it’s a part of your life. If someone came up to you and said, “Hey, you should check this book out. It’s about a boy who goes to a wizard school,” you’d be like, “Yeah, and?”

So stick with me while I try to understand the negative reactions to season 6 when I don’t really feel that way, and then we’ll speculate a bit on the lasting repercussions. (Which, by the way, was one gripe I heard people going on about with this season. “It was pointless.” Only inasmuch as TV as a whole is pointless, but apart from that….)

If you wanna check the other two posts I’ve made about this season for Nerds in Babeland, check them right here for the most recent (surprisingly not wholly outdated) and here for the earlier one. And if you’re super curious and want to know the thoughts of several, check out the Dexter podcast I run, Let’s Talk About Dex. (Actually last week we interviewed Dexter‘s costume designer, which was amazingly illuminating and inspires and defines some of the points made in this post.)

There are spoilers up to and including 6×12 after the jump. (There are also links to individual sections so if you just got here by Googling, Eliot’ing, or Netrangling one thing, you can skip straight to that part, since I am well aware that this is the size of a novel. But get over it. Anyway I’m just not putting the links before the jump because they are spoilers in and of themselves. Except this one: Louis Greene.)

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A Calvin & Hobbes Christmas

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Sometimes we here at NiB get to be some of the first people to see something very awesome. Naturally, we like to take that something awesome and share it with the world. In this particular case, one of our friends over at Down in Front, Teague Chrystie, teamed up with Jim Frommeyer to create a fantastic homage to Calvin & Hobbes…. Christmas-style.  They were also nice enough to sit down and tell us more about the project.

Video and interview:

Did you guys read Calvin and Hobbes growing up? Tell us about your relationship with the comic.

Jim: Yes, I was a regular reader. Waiting on my parents to sort the Sunday paper and hand me the comics page was a source of constant frustration. They took forever. I never identified with Calvin as a kid, but as I’ve grown older, I certainly see some similarities. Or maybe the comic just informed me. It’s so ingrained in me that it’s hard to separate.
Teague: I’m a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes, are you nuts? I have the Essential book in my bathroom, it’s my go-to. I’ve been reading them childhood. I think everyone feels a little like Calvin at some point, but dude, I swear to god, I was Calvin. I even looked like him. My dad even looked like his dad. Total fan.

How did you do this? What were the challenges?

Jim: The biggest challenge was staying true to the source material. We had discussions early on as to whether we should sprinkle in our own snowman interpretations, but ruled it out. Speaking for myself, I couldn’t hold a candle to Watterson’s creativity anyway. So trying to both recreate the scenes while also justifying their existence in motion was the challenge.
So the trick was to find snowmen that had implied movement. Like the sharks. That was an easy visual punchline. And then the obvious task of physically creating them by hand. I haven’t played with clay in 15 years. So figuring out how to do that, while staying visually true… required patience.
Teague: There was a lot of wasted sugar. The work done in post was pretty straightforward, from a visual effects standpoint. There’s three layers of snow going off into the distance, the color correction brings in some contrast and chilly mid-level coldness. The color scheme of the sky was inspired by those polar bear Coke commercials from the ’90s. The tricky stuff was things like changing the colors of the snowmen’s arms, because if they were black against a black background, I wouldn’t be able to bring them back in over the newly blue background. Stuff like that. Jim worked with me throughout shooting to make sure I had what I needed, so there really wasn’t a struggle anywhere in the pipeline.

Where did the idea come from?

Jim: The idea is obviously Watterson’s. But I was listening to a Howard the Duck commentary Teague was hosting on DiF, and at some point those guys sidetracked to talk about C&H. That got me thinking. So when I suggested maybe trying something, Teague was all in. It was great, since he was on the same wavelength. I think the only real disagreement we had was over the music choice.
Teague: On the show, I had said “you know what would be a great way to piss off the internet? Make an extremely plausible trailer for a fake Calvin and Hobbes movie, but get Calvin and Hobbes totally wrong. Oooooooh, they’d be pissed.” And at some point later, after Jim had directed a really awesome video for the home page of downinfront.net, he said something about Calvin’s snowmen and I was like “I like those!” I was kidding about the troll-the-world idea, but a Calvin and Hobbes video ended up happening anyway. The secret, kids, is never show Calvin or Hobbes. That’s when you’ve officially gotten it wrong. You can’t do them right. Period.

What was the disagreement about music?

Teague: Oh man.
Jim: I wanted a really haunting version of Carol of the Bells. He wanted anything else. He was right. Even if he wasn’t, he was going to win. He wanted it more.
Teague: No, seriously, we went through like fifty songs. We were hoping to find some magical sweet spot between Christmassy, and sweet, and sentimental, and mischevious, and kind of goofy. A particularly Carol of the Bellsy Carol of the Bells was the one Jim liked, because he loves ostinatos in minor keys that make his black heart giggle with suffering. I said we could just as well use the Requiem for a Dream thing. What you need to know about Jim is he’s an awful person.
We seriously tried everything. Pat Boone was the thing we both liked the most equally, as opposed to one or the other of us loving a song while the other hated it. (For instance, my Carol of the Bells was a version of O Holy Night that was camptacular.) Compromise, kids!

 

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What is your favorite Calvin & Hobbes moment? Have you have created any snowman deaths yourself?

youngjustice

Wee Little Superheroes: Young Justice Vol. 2 Review and GIVEAWAY

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Our favorite superheros have been around the block a couple of times, and have this whole crime-fighting thing down to a science.  But what about the next generation of heroes? If you haven’t seen it yet, the still-new Cartoon Network series, Young Justice, follows some of your favorite DC characters’ successors as they develop into full-fledged superheroes. And you know what? They actually do a really great job with this.

Now, personally, I’ve never really been a huge fan of next-generation storylines (you know.. except for Star Trek, of course). However, from the very first episode of Young Justice, I was impressed. It’s simply not your typical teenage angst when you have Batman breathing down your neck to get things right. So I was very excited when we got the chance to take a first-hand look at this series. With an animation style reminiscent of Return of the Joker, you’re led through the evolution of Robin (Dick Grayson era), Aqualad, Superboy, Kid Flash, Artemis, M’gann, and Red Arrow, all while watching classic heroes such as Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, and Black Canary teach them how to take down giant robots and mad scientists that have the evil laugh perfected.

We took a look at Season One, Volume Two (courtesy of WB), and learned just how much crime-fighty goodness you can fit into four episodes. Beyond battling Amazo, these kids got to meet Klarion the Witch Boy face to face, try to stop Black Manta’s attack on Atlantis, and stare down the assassin Chesire. We also find out exactly how Aqualad got his start, how Superboy is dealing with being a clone (oh, yes.. that did carry over from the comics), and what ever happened to Speedy.  This segment left me wondering dying to know more about Artemis’ backstory, myself.

If you’re getting curious by now, don’t worry.. this volume was released October 25th, and you can now Own it on DVD.

But because we love you.. we’re going to give away two copies of this DVD to you guys, courtesy of WB. Yep, free. Want it? Okay.

Just to be sure you’re into it, though, we’re first going to show you the Origin of Aqualad. Take a look at the video, and to receive your own copy of the DVD, just post Aqualad’s real name below. Two winners will be chosen at random. Check it:

Post your comment below, winners will be chosen on Friday, Nov. 11th.

Review: Once Upon A Time Episode 2: The Thing You Love Most

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Review: Once Upon a Time Season 1 Episode 2

Still #2  Once Upon A Time: The Thing You Love Most

Jennifer Morrison, Once Upon A Time (Courtesy of abc.go.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warning: Mild Spoilers

The Thing You Love Most, gives us a little more character development, a little more plot development, and a whole mess of problems.

I’m going to put this up front: For a series with three very strong female leads, (Jennifer Morrison’s Emma Swan, Lana Parilla’s Evil Queen/Regina Mills, and Ginnifer Goodwin’s Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard) I’m pretty sure they have yet to pass the Bechdel Test. There’s at least a minimal reference to a male character in every scene between them.

It’s as disappointing as the weirdly-rendered CGI sets, and somewhat more problematic.

That said, Morrison and Parilla sink their teeth into their characters as the tension between Henry Mills’ (Jared Gilmore) biological and adoptive mothers is ratcheted up. This is especially evident in a pair of memorable scenes involving apples and chainsaws. This is a fun, if so far, not particularly original show.

Through the requisite flashbacks weaving together the present in Storybrooke, Maine and the past in the Enchanted Forest, we learn a few key points about the Evil Queen: she really is far more ruthless than we’re giving her credit for, she may not be the one pulling all the strings, and she’s madder than a march hare where Snow White is concerned.

Speaking of Snow White; Ginnifer Goodwin managed to give Snow some backbone in the pilot episode, but Mary Margaret Blanchard is about as milquetoast as it gets. This is not a character that’s interesting to watch. It feels like the only reason she exists is because she has to for the plot to play out.

At worst the narrative is beginning to feel like a transparent melding of the “Desperate Housewives style” soap with the “kitchen sink does it, doesn’t it mean anything” of Lost. If this is the formula co-creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz are relying on to hold an audience, they may find themselves disappointed. That’s a trick that only works once, unless further iterations are done extremely well. Once Upon a Time is going to have to stand on its own once the novelty of the fairytale backdrop wears off.

Still from Once Upon A Time: The Thing You Love Most

Giancarlo Esposito and Lana Parilla (Courtesy of abc.go.com)

At best there is an edge of the defiant anti-hero to both Emma and Snow White, and the possibility of seeing the Snow White/Evil Queen dynamics in a setting where it’s not about beauty or competition over a man. Thus far, we’ve got women competing over the love of/possession of a child and a yet-undisclosed wrong committed by Snow White.

There are a couple of outstanding things about the show: Jennifer Morrison, who brings a vulnerability and toughness to the good but not necessarily nice Emma Swan; and Lana Parilla, who seems fearless in making The Evil Queen/Regina the most thoroughly despicable female character I’ve seen on TV in a while. While the writing isn’t serving the characters well enough, the actors are filling the gaps. Parilla’s scenes with Morrison, but particularly with guest star Kristin Bauer van Straten as Maleficent, are chilling. If future episodes find a way to take advantage of the assembled talent, rather than forcing them to elevate the narrative, Once Upon a Time has the potential to be the next great chapter in genre television.

So far, what it is, is a very shiny apple indeed, but I’m not ready to sink my teeth into it. Yet.

Zelda – 25 Years of Music

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On October 21, I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Legend of Zelda: 25th Anniversary Symphony at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, CA. When Nintendo announced at E3 this year that they would be doing this concert, I knew that I would have to buy tickets. When I walked into the Pantages on that Friday night, it was made quite clear that these were my people. People who love and enjoy Zelda as much as I do. There were cosplayers and Zelda shirts everywhere (I wore one myself!). Just a bunch of video game lovers anxious to hear some of their favorite pieces performed live with an orchestra, instead of an 8-bit midi version.

The evening began with producer Eiji Aonuma addressing the audience, with the help of Nintendo’s translator, for he doesn’t speak very much English. He was very exuberant and excited that we were there to enjoy the evening, and that when they had had their first concert in Toyko, many people cried. So, he wished us to have a good time and hoped that we would cry as well; he wanted us all to have the same experience. He pointed to the screen behind him, mentioning how they’d be showing clips from the games, but there was ‘spoiler’ material in the clips, so if we hadn’t played the game, he was sorry. The audience had a hearty laugh at that. He said his farewell, and then left the stage.

When the conductor walked out onto the stage, I was ecstatic. It was a woman. Her name is Eimear Noone, and she’s amazing. It’s not very often that you see a woman conductor in front of an orchestra. Yes, there are women conductors in the choral field, but for every one woman conductor there are twenty men. Being the music geek that I am, this concert was already amazing, and the orchestra had yet to play a single note.

Outside the theater doors

Ms. Noone had quite the stage presence. She introduced each piece to us, telling us where we would be going on our journey for the evening. What I found very fascinating was that the orchestra members all wore headsets. They were filming the concert for Nintendo to use for a variety of reasons.

The concert began with Hyrule’s Castle Theme from A Link to the Past. A lot of people consider this game to be one of the best Zelda’s games, as was made clear by the audience whenever a montage from that game would come up on the screen. Next, the orchestra played a beautiful rendition of Princess Zelda’s Theme from A Link to the Past as well. The next movement was what I had be most looking forward to, as it is the first Zelda game I ever played through its entirety – the symphonic suite for Wind Waker. One of my favorite pieces of music is ‘The Great Sea‘, and to hear it live had me openly weeping. It was amazing watching Link sail across the sea, hearing the music performed live. This is why I had waned to attend this concert so badly; this moment is what made it special.

Next, Ms. Noone took us through the entire orchestra, showcasing each section off by playing snippets of music from Ocarina of Time. Did you know that there are 19 ocarina melodies, but each of them use only the five notes of ‘Re-Fa-La-Ti-Re’? I didn’t. But I do now, thanks to the show’s program. After introducing each section, they brought it all together by the entire orchestra playing ‘Saria’s Song’, another one of my absolute favorites. Heck, it used to be a ringtone on my phone. The arrangement of the piece was wonderful, and everyone in the audience was tapping their foot along to the beat.

The orchestra then played Boss Battle Medley, which took various boss battle music from four of the Zelda games, while each boss fight was shown on the screen. Everyone cheered when each boss made an appearance. They then played The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley to end the first half of the concert.

The second half began with everyone’s favorite villain – Ganondorf. The orchestra played Ganondorf’s Theme from Ocarina of Time. What was really cool about this particular piece is that they used an organ (albeit through a keyboard, but hey, what can you do?), which brought chills to my body. Seeing Ganondorf play the organ on the screen, remembering how it sounded through my TV as I played on the Nintendo 64, then to hear it live? A fangirl’s dream come true.

The next piece was simply titled The Legend of Zelda: Selected Shorts Suite, where they played as many songs as they could from all the games. The piece that followed was one that I was praying they would play. The two pieces I had wanted to hear live were The Great Sea and then Gerudo’s Valley from Ocarina of Time. The arrangement for ‘Gerudo’s Valley’ was, simply put, astounding. I love the 64-bit version, as well as the string version that was produced a few years ago. But this? This was icing on the cake. To hear the horns blast the melody, as the orchestra accompanied them brought tears to my eyes. Again. Mr. Aonuma would be proud.

Hyrule Field from Ocarina of Time followed. On the screen behind the orchestra they showed Link as he traveled across the fields of Hyrule upon Epona’s — Link’s horse— back. Hearing the trumpets shine was a ton of fun. Ms. Noone then introduced us to the two harpists that sat on either side of her, as they began to play the Great Fairy’s Fountain Theme from A Link to the Past. The two women that played made the music sing, hearing them go back and forth was very cool. And no, they didn’t show anything of the Great Fairy fountain.

Having not played the game since it was released; it was a real joy to watch scenes from Twilight Princess for the next piece – Twilight Princess Symphonic Movement. The music in the game was incredible, as was the game itself. It was like I was remembering all over what a wonderful game it was just by the music. It’s funny how we can associate music from certain things (video games, movies, etc). Ms. Noone actually talked about that in one of her segues between pieces. As I listened to the medley, I remembered my reactions to certain parts.

The evening’s scheduled program ended with The Legend of Zelda Main Theme Medley. The audience cheered and hollered, asking for more. No one wanted to say goodbye to the orchestra just yet. Our hollers were heard, and then, the biggest surprise of the evening happened.

Koji Kondo, the composer of the Zelda music, came out on the stage. Everyone screamed, applauding loudly. He sat down at the piano and played Grandma’s Theme from Wind Waker. Watching his hands travel across the keys, knowing that this man was responsible for some of my favorite music in the world (video game or otherwise), made me cry. Again. Lots of tears left my eyes that night. As the song concluded everyone in the audience jumped to their feet. He then thanked everyone, in English, for coming to the concert. He quietly exited the stage, and Mr. Aonuma came back out and said that he had wished he could speak English like Koji, again making the audience laugh. He then informed us that we would be hearing the main theme from Skyway Sword, the Zelda game that is set for release on the 20th of November.

The 25th Anniversary Logo

It was an amazing night. I am so thankful for being able to experience it. I know that when Skyway Sword is released, there will be a music cd to accompany it for the 25th anniversary. I’m hoping that this music cd will be what I got to hear live so all of you can listen to it. If you are a lover of video game music, it will be a must-have for your collection. This night will be something I will never forget.

famouscapsules

Minimalistic Art for the Geeky Eye

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These clever little capsules from Greg Guillemin will certainly keep us geek-folk amused for probably a little too long:

 

 

And while I’d probably make flash cards out of them, they seem to be available in some finely printed forms.

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NerdMelt Awesomeness This Week in Los Angeles, Sept 28-Oct 4

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Image Courtesy of meltcomics.com

September 28th at 8:30pm – The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail
This weekly standup show, hosted by Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani, welcomes Howard KremerTodd GlassAl Jackson and more!
$8

September 29th at 8pm – Carnyville with Gould and Koechner

After a long absence, Carnyville returns! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a carnival. Creepy dudes running creepy rides while creepy clowns smile creepily. David Koechner (Anchorman, The Naked Trucker & T-Bone) and Dana Gould(The Simpsons, Conan) join forces to recreate the golden era of life along the midway. With stand-up, special guests, music, and a creepy sense of creepitude. Join us, won’t you?
Featuring Chelsea PerettiPat HealyJim TurnerMark Fite, and The Poubelle Twins
$10

September 30th at 8pm – Telethon!

A telethon comedy satire set in 1989 featuring sketch groups as well as stand up from D.C. Pierson & Jim Hamilton. This months theme: Diet & Health. Produced and written by NerdMelt’s own crew!
$8 in , $10 day of show

Image Courtesy of Meltcomics.com

Sunday, October 2nd at 7pm- Matt Mira’s Day Off
Matt Mira of the Nerdist Podcast needs a Day Off, so we decided to give him Sundays at Nerdist Theater. Come watch Mira and Paul Cibis host this comedy free-for-all. You’ll see brand new comics, comics you know and love trying out new material (Chris Hardwick and Kumail Nanjiani have both dropped in), and the magic that is live comedy.
FREE

Sunday, October 3rd at 8pm – Cosplay Karaoke

DC writer Scott Lobdell presents Cosplay Karaoke, a free event where we invite cosplayers to come in costume as their favorite movie, television, graphic novel or comic book characters to do their best renditions of those characters singing karaoke.
FREE

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