Category: Arts & Entertainment

Mercy Black, more like mercy whack

Breihan Dryden, A&E Writer

Thousands of years ago into the future, the year was 2014 and two pre-teens thought it was a cool idea to lure their friend into the woods and stab her to appease a fictional creepypasta known as “Slenderman” (or as I like to call him, SlenDaddy Long Arms). Why do I bring this up? Well, my dear reader, this is basically the plot of the 2019 horror film Mercy Black. Obviously, this might come across as being in poor taste to some people. I find it a bit odd that this movie could be considered far more offensive to the OG victim’s family, yet the actual Slenderman movie (that shares surprisingly little to do with actual crime) was subject to a crap ton of controversy when it was finally crapped out by Sony, but I digress. My point? “Is this in poor taste” isn’t something I generally consider when reviewing a film. No, “Mercy Black” isn’t a bad movie because of what it’s based on, it’s bad because it just kind of sucks.

Seriously, I was actually interested in this movie when it popped up on Netflix outta nowhere a couple of weeks ago. It looked like the Slenderman movie that I always wanted. Sure it wasn’t *actually Slenderman, but the title character of the film, the aforementioned Mercy Black, looked cool and it didn’t look like your average “is the monster real or is the crazy person jUsT cRaZy?” horror movie. It’s kind of disappointing to watch it and find out that, yeah, it’s just a bland, milk toast, and cliché-ridden direct to video (VOD, actually) horror movie, complete with creepy kids, lame jump scares, exposition dumps, and every adult acting like an actual, literal baby. Now excuse me while I re-use the same review format from my Us review, because I’m tired and I wanna go to bed.

So what did you like?” Well, something I thoroughly dig is the look and use of color in this movie. Reds and blues permeate throughout and the whole film has a really solid look. Lots of cool shots are scattered about the film and there was only one CGI shot that I could see. Yes, that means that “Mercy Black” is chock full of some pretty decent practical effects. Mercy herself is a real, physical presence in the film….kind of. More on that in a second. Some other things that are decent: the editing….uh, the soundtrack? Maybe? It’s a pretty decent soundtrack.

Sooooo what didn’t you like?” Pretty much everything else. The acting is dodgy, the story makes no sense, the film doesn’t follow its own rules, and what is perhaps the most egregious problem this movie has, it’s just sooooooooooooooo boorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring. Forreals though, homie. The pacing of this film constantly chugs back and forth between breezing through what seem to be important moments, just to spend fifteen minutes with people we don’t care about, doing things we don’t care about, in places that don’t matter. Plot convenience? This movie has loads of that, too. Since when does the creepy son of the sister of the crazy lady have a fat best friend? From the earlier scenes of him at school, it implies that if he isn’t bullied, he at least stays away from other kids. So why is he hanging out with someone now? Oh yeahhhhh, it’s because we need fatty to be in this (admittedly cool torture scene). Also, don’t get mad because I’m calling him fatty; a good number of people in this movie (including lard lad and Dwight from The Walking Dead) are straight up Dicks, like my good friend Richard.

Is Mercy Black a good movie? Oh god no. Didn’t you read the last paragraph? No, Mercy Black is a couple of steps above bottom of the barrel Netflix trash like American Poltergeist II, 13/14 Cameras, The Hatred, or Cam. At least it has those few steps, though. Besides, it’s still leagues better than the actual Slenderman movie. Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to turn Slenderman into a f——- tree??!

Mercy Black gets 4 Golden Taylors out of 10

Umbrella Academy is a ride worth taking

Taylor Mitchell, A&E Editor

The Umbrella Academy is a comic book series written by former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, originally beginning publishing of its first limited series in 2007. It has since done two more limited series with the first issue of the third being released in October of 2018. With the series meeting critical and fan acclaim it was only a matter before the series got picked up for a Tv show or movie. This brings us to the Netflix Television adaptation The Umbrella Academy

The show starts with the miraculous event of  43 children being born the same moment all across the world, despite none of their mothers being pregnant until they went into labor. Sir Reginald Hargreeves, an eccentric and reclusive billionaire, then decides to adopt as many of these children as he can, which predictably is only seven, in order to train them as a superhero team. 20 years later the children, which have long gone their separate ways, reunite for their adoptive father’s funeral. Sadly, things start to fall apart as they learn of a looming threat and that things about their childhood may not be what they seem.

I am going pretty light on plot this time because the story and writing are by far the greatest aspects of the show. The dialogue is top notch and the story feels pretty satisfying. The one issue I will give is that near the end of the season the pacing just kicks into overdrive, which can be pretty jarring. This only really comes into effect on the last couple of episodes though, so it doesn’t drag down the whole thing to much. It’s because of this I would say that the show is stronger at the beginning than the end, which drags it down from the great heights it climbs to.

The greatest achievement of the show is its characters. They are all written and performed incredibly well. In particular I want to give massive credit to Aidan Gallagher and Robert Sheehan who play Number 5 and Number 4/ Claus. Gallagher’s only main acting credit up to this point has been a Nickelodeon show (though granted an Emmy award winning one), yet he is by far the most fun and engaging actor in Umbrella Academy. The fun thing about 5 is that he is an old man in a 15 year old body, and somehow Gallagher sells that with a level of authenticity that is astounding. Sheehan also played a part that would be hard to balance out for most actors incredibly well. Claus often rides the line between annoying fool and tragic addict, ad Sheehan brings a lot of delicacy to towing that line that helps keep the character believable and not cartoonish.

If there is one big acting problem I would say it comes from Ellen Page, who plays Number 7/Vanya. I won’t go into why buy for most of the season Vanya is on medications that specifically bring her down and even her out, which Page does a wonderfully job of portraying. The catch comes later when Vanya becomes more emotional, and Page doesn’t sell that emotion at all. Admittedly, this is a generally issue I have with her acting in most things, she just never seems to emote in quite the right way. It’s always too much or too little, usually too little. I will say this on crops up at the end though, and all the other performances stay stellar throughout, so it may not be a huge issue.

All in all The Umbrella Academy is a really good show and everybody should give it a shot. It does have a few minor issues, but rest assured they are minor.

The Umbrella Academy gets 8.5 golden Breihans out of 10

Episode III: the strongest prequel

James King, A&E Writer

This is the Star Wars movie I’ve been wanting to see since beginning this look at Star Wars movies. It’s not the strongest movie in the Star Wars canon, but after the wasteland of boredom that was the first two movies in the prequel trilogy, it’s definitely the strongest of the three. The movie does have a few big flaws, but its enjoyable enough that I wasn’t as bored by it as I was with the other two prequels. The movie basically is one big action flick, but it was a welcome turn after the first two movies focused on the politics of the characters. This was honestly the only prequel movie I would recommend actually watching, because other than character introductions and set up, it’s the only prequel that really gives any of the characters something to do.

The story in this movie has problems with pacing. Some parts of the movie feel like they skipped over way too fast; like Anakin’s ultimate turn to the dark side or the deaths of the villains. These parts should have held a lot of emotion, but are not set up enough for the audience to really care. The movie also doesn’t give you much time to breathe in between scenes of war and scenes of dialogue. The fast pace does help strengthen the movie, though as it keeps the movie from dragging which has been a major problem in the last couple of movies.

This movie was also one of the better-looking Star Wars, it’s a CGI fest, but it never is as distracting as it was in the Phantom Menace and it has aged pretty well. The beginning war scene is a visual feast with tons of robots flying through space and giant space ships exploding. The dialogue isn’t as strong as it has been in some of the previous Star Wars films. I have problems remembering anything the characters said beyond a few lines from Obi-Wan towards the end of the movie. It’s not enough to drag the movie down, but worth mentioning since the dialogue has been the best part of Star Wars.

It’s not one of the strongest movies, I feel like that honor goes to The Empire Strikes Back. Revenge of the Sith does have some of the strongest acting of the prequels. I wasn’t begging the actors to emote like I was with the first movie or just bored with the acting like in the second. I actually was actually much more engaged with the story this time. It makes me really looking forward to watching the modern Star Wars movies to see how they stack up to the other movies.

I am still not quite caught up with all the movies I still need to watch The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens for that, but it has been fun catching up on the various trilogies. These movies mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Much like the way they describe the force in these movies, they connect people and brings them together.

JSU showcases senior art projects

Sydney Spencer, A&E Reporter

This Thursday, Jacksonville State University will be hosting their annual Senior Art Showcase for students who will be graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Arts (BA), and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA).

The students who will be receiving their BFA are Christian Everhart, Alec Cornutt, Austin Whitt, Bekah Britton, Harley Stickney, Kara Clay, Kaylee Woodall, Kelsey Blangin, Meghan Lee, Shelby Holman, and Toby Satterfield. Students who will be receiving their BA are Sydney Sorrells, Madelynn Barker, and Paige Christ. Last but not least, the student receiving their MFA is Stefanie Cobb.

All of these students have put in numerous hours of preparation leading up to this night. Majority of them have been working towards this showcase since the beginning of their collegiate careers. There are many different fields of artwork going to be on display like photography, paintings, drawings, and graphic designs. These students are also looking forward to the opportunities that could come about from being able to display their craftmanship during this showcase.

Sydney Sorrells, who is receiving her BA in Photography at the end of the semester feels students have put a lot of work has gone into the show

“It takes a lot of preparation because you have to come up with at least three ideas, present your ideas, and then decide on your topic. After that you have to prepare everything to do the entire semester,” she explains.

She adds how each year is different and every student brings their own style to the showcase so there is diversity in the artwork and culture being displayed.

“I’m excited to see what the graphic designers came up with because every year it gets more phenomenal and we have a really good graphic design program,” says Sorrells

Sorrells photography that will be on display is about the struggles of an upcoming artist and that artist finally making it. The Senior Art Showcases over the past couple of years have had renowned artwork and many students and faculty look forward to this event each year. All artists would like to have support and participation from the whole Jacksonville State community by just asking for people to come out and take a look at the showcase.

There has been a change in date for the Opening Reception and it will now be held Thursday, April 25th. This Thursday, April 18th, the senior’s artwork will still be displayed from 5:00PM to 7:00PM in Hammond Hall, the Roundhouse, and Student Galleries.

The Fruciante era kicks into high gear

Jack Vermuth, Special to the Chanticleer

After the hotly debated One Hot Minute would come one of RHCP’s biggest and best albums Californication. This album would include some of my favorite RHCP songs such as “Around the World, “Scar Tissue,” and “Otherside” Whereas Blood Sugar Sex Magik would serve as a preamble to the “Frusciante Era” of RHCP, Califonication would mark the rise to power of this funk rock train that has never had and never will have any brakes, and the true beginning of the “Frusciante Era.” With Frusciante rejoining after completing drug rehabilitation on top of Navarro being fired from the band after the “BSSM” tour due to creative differences. Californication marks a point when RHCP begins to mesh and become a truly creative powerhouse with driving guitars, moving and pumping bass lines, groovy drums, and powerful vocals and lyrics that sold over 15 million copies worldwide.

Following Californication, and a two year long international tour RHCP would together to form the album that is By the Way. This album includes excellent tracks such as “By the Way,” “The Zephyr Song,” and of course “Can’t Stop.” The album would go on to reach number two on the billboard charts, and selling 8 million copies worldwide. By the Way marks a departure from the funk and punk styles of previous RHCP albums, and a shift towards a more melodic, deliberate, and stylistic approach. Kiedis has gone on record several times crediting Frusciante with writing a majority of the parts on the album including drum parts, vocal melodies, and bass lines. This shift would mark a major change in the styling of RHCP that remains in apparent in the albums following.

Fresh off the tour for By the Way and riding the coattails of Californication, no one thought that RHCP could get any bigger or do anything better. Then Stadium Arcadium (Stadium) happened. There are too many perfect tracks on Stadium to list, but if I must, the best are “Dani California,” “Snow (Hey Oh),” “Hard to Concentrate,” “Charlie,” “Slow Cheetah,” the list goes on and on and on. Stadium would be RHCP’s first album to debut at number one, and not only did it remain at number one for 14 weeks, it was also nominated for SEVEN Grammy’s. It would win five of the seven. This  38 track, RHCP opus would forever go on to touch hearts and minds, and is still considered their best album. However, after the lifecycle and tour of Stadium RHCP would take a three year hiatus during which John Frusciante would leave the band for the second and final time in 2009.