Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eurovision 2008 Final - The Advance Look

This is it!

Going through tonight's Final country by country with critiques (some recycled) and semi-final screen captures. What are you voting for?

01 Romania
Nico & Vlad

Pe-o Margine De Lume

Sexy, intimate, powerful operatic ballad. They're both attractive and work well together, but it does get a bit too Disney channel half-way through for my liking.

02 United Kingdom
Andy Abraham

Even If

A kitsch multi-colour nightmare on stage. UK has stopped trying seriously years now. COME BACK HOME!

03 Albania
Olta Boka

Zemrën E Lamë Peng

Only 16 year olds, she was impressive for her age, a strong and powerful voice and a powerful expressive presence on the stage. Give her a few years and she'll own this contest.

04 Germany
No Angels


A power-diva collective with an interesting song, but nothing I'd really ever vote for.

05 Armenia

Qele, Qele

It's scary how easily this could have been a Greek hit in a trashy Athens live music club. The boob-bump, the hips-shake, the arm wave, the body-tilt, the choreographies, the beat. Even the dress ultimately worked. Not the ultimate fave, but I'd love to see it in the top 10.

06 Bosnia & Herzegovina

Oh, DIGGIN' this! It all clicks in the performance: the Bride parade, the unstable crazy-eye Johnny Depp and fruity Helena Bonham Carter, the childish dance patterns, the LOVE laundry line, and the general concept of 'Tim Burton meets Emil Kusturica'. The twisty surprising vocals and exuberant energy make this a definite top 5 favourite. TO THE VERY TOP!

07 Israel

The Fire In Your Eyes

Dana International (go on, you remember her) signs the music and lyrics, although I'm misty why she would send her toy boy to the competition in her place. He's pretty in silver, and kicks it off with an impressive vocal display, but does fall flat during most of the middle part. GO HOME

08 Finland
Teräsbetoni Missä
Miehet Ratsastaa

Just because Lordi won that once (probably rightfully so at the time), doesn't mean we're now abiding any random metal band on Eurovision stage... Take your business elsewhere, gentlemen, and put a shirt on, outside of a rock concert that just looks presumptuous. GO HOME (and put some masks on)

09 Croatia
Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents


75-cents? Is that 50-cent's rich great-uncle? Although Grampa was endearing, the music was a pleasant departure from the rest of the entries so far and the girl in her red-wine dress set the mood. A mesmerizing performance, and definitely a favourite. I was a bit disappointed when I read the lyrics translation, but I'll still back this song. TO THE TOP!

10 Poland
Isis Gee

For Life

BARBIE alert - with teeth! The plastic scary over-tanned lady with glow-in-the-dark teeth gnawing at our heads with a passe ballad. GO HOME (and keep in the shades)

11 Iceland

This Is My Life

It may be the greatest song of the bunch, but still if it doesn't have any razzle dazzle, or any touching performance, or any fantastic presence on stage, or even some inspired costumes to stand out... Well, Iceland doesn't have any of that (Boy and girl, clad in black singing to each other? that took a lot of brain-storming), but it's not even a mildly good song, so why are we still talking about it. Dear God SKIP to the next!

12 Turkey
Mor ve Ötesi


It's great to sing in your own language, but you gotta give the audience something to enjoy music-wise or stage-wise if we're gonna stand there for 3 minutes and gawk at a high school garage rock band sing in Turkish. GO HOME

13 Portugal
Vânia Fernandes

Senhora Do Mar (Negras Águas)

It's that rare exception where the looks and choreographies don't matter when you've got a beautiful song, and a booming melodic voice that send shrills up your spine. Close your eyes and imagine the waves hitting on the shores, a dark witch bellowing about lost loves at sea and captains who won't return. I'd love to see this song win the contest this year, and visit Portugal for the contest next year. TO THE VERY TOP

14 Latvia
Pirates Of The Sea

Wolves Of The Sea

It's the one song I was praying on my knees wouldn't make it through. It's the gay pirates. UGH. I'd rather walk the plank than listen to it ever again. We have a popular saying in Greece: 'Piracy kills music'. HOBBLE HOME you one-legged pirate freaks.

15 Sweden
Charlotte Perrelli

Hero? Pe(t)relli? LOL. Subtle... The song is catchy, but her expressionless bottox-filled face gave me a scare, I was hoping I wouldn't have to see her again. She was voted sexiest woman of the year? She's 33? *itch, please! You look like a vampire escapee from Buffy, GO HOME (and prowl some other country's dark alleys)

16 Denmark
Simon Mathew

All Night Long

That boy totally owns the stage, uplifting, confident and boastful like a peacock. Weird, as I don't see what he's got to be proud of, with a shit song and forgettable lyrics. He sells his crap for gold though and he's definitely star material. Just not with this tune.

17 Georgia
Diana Gurtskaya

Peace Will Come

One of the most memorable songs of the night. The lead singer is blind (something I didn't catch in the youtube previews and made an ass of myself) but has a beautiful, loud and strong voice to balance out her stage performance. The change from black to white with the passing of the sheet is the most striking and impressive stage trick of the night, and definitely shoots this entry straight TO THE TOP

18 Ukraine
Ani Lorak
Shady Lady

Wow. A sure win tonight. A drunk-off-her-ass Ukrainian SWF staggers on stage keeps bumping with her back onto a callboy shopping window display. When she realises they're all probably gay anyway, she climbs on the top and jumps off. Or at least that's what I got from it... Sexy lady, legs, shoulders n boobs shaking in the right direction, lots of sparkly stage tricks, vamp poses (with famous Greek choreographer Fokas Evangelinos doing his best work ourside his country)... I'm digging the one-sided mirror/light closet showcase. Have the Ukrainians been going through the same laundry-list of Eurovision musts as the Greeks? Pity about that -nod-nod- tick though, wehad a Prime Minister here with the same affliction. TO THE TOP

19 France
Sébastien Tellier


As much as I LOVED the quirky fun videoclip of this song, it just translates into a flat mess on stage. GO HOME

20 Azerbaijan
Elnur & Samir
Day After Day

Good vs Evil, Angels vs Demons, Day After Day, Gay & Even Gayer. Great visual candy, the best song to enjoy -- on MUTE! Just please stop screeching in my ear! Despite the christianic conversion subtext, most guys will want to head to the side of the wine-bathed she-devil with the demonic leg-stretch. GO HOME (but leave that *itch behind)

21 Greece

Secret Combination

KALOMOIRA!!(pronounced kah-lo-meerah) Trust me, it's not Greek pride when I say she's the best of the night. From the impressive opening on top of her entourage (ναι, το καβάλησε το καλάμι, σκάστε), the sexy dress, the very innovative stage bit with the giant pop-up book (following the lyrics cue ''an open book'', perfect - though the director missed the whole bit in the semi-finals!), the dress change (you gotta have a costume change to win these things) and the Shakira-eat-your-skirt shake-shake-shake apotheosis before the end. She's become quite the little diva. Greece number 1 ;) TO THE VERY TOP!

22 Spain
Rodolfo Chikilicuatre

Baila El Chiki Chiki

The ultimate crowd-pleaser of this year's competition, a camp fun-fest starring Geek Elvis, his Chiki Chiki and the Four Deadly Dance Moves (with the absolute breakout hit '#4 el Robocop'. TO THE VERY TOP!

23 Serbia
Jelena Tomašević feat. Bora Dugic


An enchanting folk/ethnic ballad from the host country. They're consistent surely.

24 Russia
Dima Bilan


It's Dima again?? --and he's doing an Anna Vissi wipe job on the dirty stage with his whiteroos. The opening performance is strong (he's good on his back, what can I say). The ice-skater (they have actual ice on stage? wacky!) doing circles around him and the violinist is brilliant. The rest of it, with the undressing, and the poseur-iffic movements and muscle flexes, until the final EEEEUCH of the finale... pity. He had a much stronger song and a breath-taking performance in Athens and still didn't go home with the prize; he really stands no chance this year with this drivel. (plus he's totally losing all the girlie votes with his stage gayness: stop touching your male dancers dude)

25 Norway

Hold On Be Strong

Oh, honey this is so wrong, wrong, wrong. A blue silk dress and an air fan don't a Eurovision performance make. I'm sure the trio of back-up singers looking exactly like the lead only taller slimmer and more beautiful) towering around her in the finale didn't help matters. GO HOME

As for my personal Top Ten?

1. Portugal (Senhora Do Mar)

2. Greece (My Secret Combination)

3. Bosnia & Herzegovina (Pokusaj)

4. Spain (Chiki Chiki)

5. Georgia (Peace Will Come)

6. Ukraine (Shady Lady)
7. Armenia (Quele Quele)
8. Croatia (Romanca)
9. Denmark (All Night Long)
10. Romania (Nico & Vlad)

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Marvel Capsule Reviews Week 18 2008

It's a week of solid endings all around the block.

Iron Fist, X-Men Legacy, Avengers Initiative all wrap up their most important storylines, while we bid a sad adieu to the Order and a 'heck yeah good riddance' to Kirkman's Ultimate X-Men.

More mean-spiritedness after the jump!


(Matt Fraction & Ed Brubaker / Tonci Zonjic, Clay Mann & Kano)

'The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven' conclusion. This storyline has proved to be far more entertaining, engaging and surprising than my humble expectations. I mean, it's Iron Fist, right?

This storyline started with an inter-dimensional tournament between the 7 Immortal Weapons, side-tracked into a treason plot (later escalating in a communist revolt), branched out into one-shot flashback stories involving the previous Iron Fist's adventures (while still feeding back into the main plot and following the protagonist in a linear fashion), and unexpectedly tied into a longer-running subplot involving Ran Corp's hostile takeover, a Heroes for Hire reunion and a corporate invasion into Heaven. It all culminates with Iron Fist punching a train and the 7 Immortal Weapons showing off some mad special move combos. Fraction & Brubaker have created a true epic story here and made Iron Fist the sleeper hit book of the year.

Am I the only one drooling for an Immortal Iron Fist arcade game a la Street Fighter right now?



(Brian Bendis / Jim Cheung)

It's clear by now that New/Mighty Avengers will effectively put their regular casts aside for the duration of Secret Invasion and instead provide us with flashback snippets revealing the key points from behind the scenes of the Invasion. Wouldn't a dedicated bi-weekly mini-series by the writer of the main event make more sense, and be a bigger seller?

This issue picks up directly after the Illuminati mini (which I haven't read -sigh-), revealing the events, battles, debates and science on the Skrull Homeworld that lead to the Skrull infiltration. The absence of the usual random-quipping brigade allows Bendis to focus on his story and dialogue and provide the most tight issue of his run, and my personal favourite. That staggering last page reveal is only icing on the cake.

Jim Cheung has truly become a star name, keeping the style that made him unique but mastering his craft since his humble (Force Works!!) beginnings over a decade ago.



Yeah, I'm still writing a capsule every month to reiterate I refuse to even read this anymore. Blah.



(Matt Fraction / Barry Kitson / Javier Saltares)

Final Issue. I loathe Marvel for killing this title off so early without giving it the proper push and opportunity to find its audience. Fraction manages to wrap up all his dangling storylines, and give the book a definite sense of closure-- even though the pacing has been beyond frantic to this end. Most of the cast does survive the end of the issue, and we've already had confirmation of their future appearance in both Avengers and Invincible Iron Man (the main villain of the latter being Stane Jr, the team's arch-nemesis introduced in this series). Once Fraction inevitably becomes the #1 popular writer in comics (seriously: inevitable, trust me), I hope he remembers this dysfunctional Hollywood team and returns for a reunion tour.



(Dan Slott & Christos Gage / Steve Uy)

Season finale. The Initiative's first year of trainees prepare for their graduation while daddy Iron Man attends a tribunal hearing to make sense of how crooked the system he set up has turned out to be. I take solace in the recent Pym/Skrull reveals which might account for how embarrassingly corrupt this facility has been. The tribunal scenes provide many hilarious moments, from the custom name tags (I.Man, W.Machine) to Gyrich's ludicrously smug political maneuvering out of Stark's questions.

With the main plots wrapped up, Slott shines through this quiet-after-the-storm issue, bringing out his a-game, both in terms of the comedy (Slapstick's off-kilter 'enemies with benefits' remarks to Justice) and drama (with the opening two page sequence literally raising my hair on edge).

The issue wraps up with the actual graduation and the revelation of the graduands' new costumes, identities and state/team allocations. UGH! It could be Steve Uy's completely spandex-inappropriate art style (seriously: this is the worst artistic fit for a superhero title since, well, ever), the recycling of the costumes and identities or my sheer dumbfoundedness at them switching Triathlon's name and costume (a George Perez redesign/tribute to 3D-Man) for the actual tacky original 3D-Man moniker and threads. Did I already mention: UGH! And was that a new Hyperion standing there unaccounted for?



(Robert Kirkman / Harvey Tolibao)

OMG! Teen Mutant Super-Hero Porn! (Watch the google search engines catch fire).

Kirkman (finally!) wraps up the most embarrassing run on Ultimate X-Men (yet). The painful 90s revivals, all the confusing time-travelling misdirects, the nonsensical Australian team line-up, the gratuitous Stryfe/Onslaught name-dropping, all building up to... well, nothing really. All this set-up and timeline manipulation by Cable and Bishop so we could end up with Phoenix-ex-Machina blowing Apocalypse away with a wave of her finger while the entire Ultimate Universe is watching helpless. Before she goes, she at least does us a favour by literally wiping away every single thing Kirkman has messed with during his run... healing all injuries, resurrecting every single fallen mutant, resetting the entire tableau. HUH? Before this, the Ultimate Universe was able to at least boast it took death seriously and had a more grounded approach to super-heroics. What a wrecking ball of a run from a normally beloved writer.

Oh, the porn reference in the first sentence? Just check out the guest-artist's (Sal Larroca didn't manage to complete his much-advertised 4-issue run before being yanked off to an actually meaningful title) renditions of the boob-tastic naked Phoenix (remember, she's 17... 17...) and a close-up of veiny Cyclops, actually representative of every single male and female teen in this issue.

Tolibao is actually a pretty talented artist with detailed and dynamic work, he just desperately needs an editorial edict banning skin-tight outfits on his characters.



(Mike Carey / Scott Eaton & Greg Land)

"Why did you kill us..."

Charles Xavier, this is the show of your entire life/contuinity, starring: Everyone you've ever taught and killed. Oh boy, do they easily fill 24 pages... In case you were lost for a legend/footnote, in order of appearance the Dearly Departed: Danger (Astonishing X-Men: Danger), Legion, the forgotten Krakoa X-Men (Deadly Genesis), Genosha (E is for Extinction), Enter the Sentinels, Phoenix (Dark Phoenix Saga), Illyanna's death, Colossus' suicide, Banshee (Deadly Genesis), Sophie Stepford (Riot At Xavier's), Thunderbird I, Doug Ramsey (New Mutants), the New X-Men Stryker victims...

It's a pastiche of the X-Men's greatest losses, all so important as to be instantly recogniseable, revisited during Xavier's fancy mind-butt with the resurfaced (and for once interesting) Exodus. This isn't a book for the new fan or even the casual reader. This is a consummate reward for the long-time fans who have endured this title through highs and lows and now get to experience and enjoy the entire spectrum of x-history as one cohesive whole.



(Fred Van Lente / Scott Koblish)

An average issue culminating in a moment of awesome greatness (TM)!

Iron-Man's tracking down his dad (isn't he dead or something in proper continuity?), who has seemingly graduated from the Desperate Housewives School of Insufferable Parental Guest-Stars. Before father and son can touch base (or, say, reveal secret identities) the villainous intangible Kiber and his phasing cronies abduct Daddy Stark (over a misunderstanding no less, yay convenient plot coincidence). I couldn't get enough of Stark Sr's put-downs against both his son and Iron-Man throughout the rescue scenario -- leading to the utterly random sequence of an upset powerless Iron-Man hitting his head on the wall in frustration, opening a hole revealing the power cables sending juice to the villain's Mean Machine -- you can figure the rest on your own. Fun. Let's hope Daddy Stark sticks around a while longer still.


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