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Pop Quiz: What Are The Supreme Bops Of Auto-Tune?

The TRL Pop Quiz works like this: our editors are posed a music-related question and have only 15 minutes and just 100 words to research, choose and explain their answers. This week’s question: which songs use Auto-Tune in the best way?

How could we talk about the best Auto-Tuned tracks without referencing T-Pain, best known for popularizing the vocal effect? His 2007 track “Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” featuring Yung Joc solidified his status as the King of Auto-Tune, so much so that he created an iPhone app called “I Am T-Pain” that allowed people to Auto-Tune their voices just like him. People questioned his vocal abilities, but T-Pain has since retired his Auto-Tune ways and proved he really can SANG without it. Kristen Maldonado

“Believe” by Cher is the best use of Auto-Tune on a single song. It’s widely considered to be the first prominent use of Auto-Tune in popular music, later popularized by artists like T-Pain, a master of the form. For me, though, there’s just something about “Believe.” In this song, the Auto-Tune is very audible, and the song would not be the same without it. It’s repetitive, triumphant, and tailor-made for the club. BIG honorable mentions to every song on 808s and Heartbreak, an album that couldn’t exist without Auto-Tune, and I love it for it. – Leah Williams

You’re welcome to call me a sap for this selection, and you wouldn’t be wrong. “Beth/Rest,” the closer to Bon Iver’s eponymous album, finds frontman Justin Vernon at his most earnest, robotically wailing on a soft bed of synths and cheesy guitar noodling. The lyrics—difficult to parse to this day—shuffle between meaningful and meaningless, seeming to happen upon moments of clarity by mere chance. And none of it would work without Auto-Tune, the tool that lends a sort of inhuman magic to everything he says, and gives his nonsense an unearthly weight. – Gus Turner

There’s something about waking up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy that had Kesha in Auto-Tune overdrive on “TiK ToK. Kesha’s repeated use of Auto-Tune lifts the vocal effect’s perception to a stylistic choice rather than a tool to fix people’s off-pitch voices. Fitting squarely into the Auto-Tune craze of the late 2000s and early 2010s, “TiK ToK” certainly isn’t Kesha’s only song with Auto-Tune, but its uses in this track show how the effect can turn an above-average bop into a total party anthem. – Matt Gehring

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s DLC Lineup Is Locked

Even though Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t out yet, it’s already on the receiving end of requests for DLC characters and guest spots for certain fan-favorites. The requests managed to reach creative director Sora Sakurai, who decided to respond to the fan feedback by explaining that requests don’t matter at this point because the DLC line-up is already locked into place.

The news comes courtesy of a tweet that Sakurai sent out on his official Twitter account on November 6th, 2018. He stated…

So, just to break this down and give gamers some context as to what he’s talking about, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate‘s DLC line-up is already ironed out and complete. This doesn’t mean that the characters and content is complete, simply that Nintendo outlined specifically what it wanted in the upcoming fighting game for the Nintendo Switch.

Sakurai had no say-so in the selection process of DLC characters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The higher-ups at Nintendo were the ones making the decisions, and if the decisions fit with his design philosophy, then he would work with the Nintendo execs in coming up with a plan to get the content out in a timely manner.

I have no idea how this is going to turn out because the most likely result is that Nintendo has struck some deals with other companies in order to include DLC characters based on marketing appeal, much like how the company had Cloud from Final Fantasy VII included in the last Smash Bros. outing for the Wii U, or Ryu making an appearance from Street Fighter.

Some gamers are already making some pretty wild suggestions in Sakurai’s Twitter feed, even though he’s not the one in charge of putting together the DLC list of characters.

At the top of the tweet chain is one of the most highly requested characters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate…. Goku from Dragon Ball Z.

Goku has been a highly requested character ever since Arc System Works and Bandai Namco’s Dragon Ball FighterZ came out at the beginning of the year.

Others were adamant about getting Sakurai’s attention by posting images of Banjo Kazooie, but since it’s owned by Rare and Rare is owned by Microsoft, Nintendo would have to go to Microsoft’s doorstep to get permission, and I doubt that would happen.

A few people were hoping for characters like Rayman to make an appearance, while several others began asking for more Nintendo-centric characters, such as the crew from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which came out just last year for the Nintendo Switch.

Right now, Nintendo is being tight-lipped about who is going to appear as DLC, but the starting line-up of characters is already super massive in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It’s a wild guess as to who will make the cut next, and from which franchise.

Why A Shrek Reboot Is A Great Idea

‘Reboot’ has become such a divisive word in Hollywood, especially when it comes to classic franchises. Given this, it was probably of little surprise to anyone that when news broke about Shrek getting rebooted, many were quick to judge and may have “ogre”-reacted to the news. However, some may have missed the onion that this situation is, and when one pulls back the many layers that led to this decision, it becomes clear that this reboot is actually a good idea since it sounds like it wouldn’t fully wipe the slate clean.

It’s important to note that the current plan for Shrek doesn’t seem to be a full-scale reboot. Chris Meledandri has stated he’d like to keep Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and other members of the original cast all on board. That’s a big plus for those unwilling to accept another Shrek than Myers, even though he wasn’t the first option for the role to begin with.

The overall goal of this reboot, according to Meledandri, is to find a way to introduce this franchise to a new audience. That audience, of course, is not the folks who saw the first film in theaters back in 2001, but a new generation of children. To do this effectively, Chris Meledandri believes he needs to find a meaningful story to bring these characters into children’s lives and not just something that feels like, as he put it, “another sequel.”

Of course, some may think another sequel would be fine, especially considering Meledandri appears to want to retain the movies’s original cast. That makes sense until one takes into account 2010’s Shrek Forever After, and it’s possible the children of today (and even some Shrek fans) may not have seen the team go toe to toe with Rumpelstiltskin. It would probably even confuse adults who have seen it, as it’s not like it was the crown jewel of the franchise.

While this certainly isn’t the case for everybody, Rotten Tomatoes approval rating shows audiences, by and large, enjoy the Shrek franchise less and less as the franchise went on. Shrek and even Shrek 2 received solid praise from critics, but things took a sharp turn downward with Shrek The Third. Reception for Shrek Forever After was slightly better, but still nowhere close to the acclaim the first two films received.

Dreamworks seemed to know the franchise was done and promoted Shrek Forever After asThe Final Chapter.” Given that tagline, it doesn’t seem like the best decision to try and build off of a film series that was meant to end. Are audiences really that invested in what comes next in Shrek’s time as a father? Universal doesn’t seem to think so, which is probably why we heard last year Shrek 5 was going to be “way different.”

It may sound crazy, but Shrek could probably get its groove back using the same method Danny McBride and David Gordon Green used for Halloween. Start things back up after Shrek or Shrek 2, and pretend the rest didn’t happen. It would allow for a story that’s more an introduction to the main cast, without having to service the wilder characters the franchise brought in down the stretch.

Hell, even a straight-up retelling of the original story wouldn’t be so bad, and might even look better with modern CGI. Imagine the castle sequence with the dragon using today’s technology, or even that wrestling scene. Shrek still looks great for the time it was created, but with it having been so long since a new movie was made, it would be neat to see how the character could change with new tech.

Of course, none of these arguments do much of anything for those who don’t think Shrek should be rebooted, period. Some on Twitter have feared Chris Meledandri’s revision will turn the franchise into a twisted version similar to Despicable Me, or even Minions. Both of those films have their fans of course, but there’s a community who would rather not see a classic film from their childhood redone by the same people who created the irritating Minions.

It’s understandable, although on the same token, it’s possibly these internet fans and their bizarre love that may be what convinced Hollywood rebooting the character was the best option. Shrek has transformed into this weird thing on the internet over the years, with fans making memes with the character that have spread like wildfire. Those unaware of this trend may want to read up on “Shrek is love, Shrek is life”… or not if they don’t want to be scarred.

Beyond possibly erasing erotic fan-fiction, a Shrek reboot could finally give the band Smash Mouth peace. The rock group has also fallen victim to the Shrek fandom, and have been taunted on social media by those who believe their only fame came from their songs contributed to the film. Of course, the evidence against that is pretty easy to disprove, but that hasn’t stopped folks from hounding the group with jeers about how they peaked with Shrek.

Put simply, there’s a lot about the current state of Shrek that the internet may move on from once a reboot gets rolling. It could also have the reverse effect and create memes that are weirder than ever, which would be a win for those who enjoy internet drama. We’re hoping not, and that as plans continue to move forward, folks may see the light and realize that reboots, especially in this case, may not always be a bad thing.

Really, the most logical thing to do in this situation, as with most situations, is to wait and see what happens. The Shrek reboot may end up better than some may expect, or just as bad or worse than anyone could’ve imagined. We’re, of course, choosing to remain optimistic, and think there’s a lot of potential in a fresh set of eyes taking on the character, but we can only wait to see if that will be the case.

The Shrek reboot is currently in the works, and Puss In Boots is looking to get a reboot as well. Those bummed out about the news can, of course, still find physical copies of the film wherever they may be sold.

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12 Song Anniversaries To Celebrate This November

Temperatures are dropping, the sun is setting earlier and all your favorite songs keep getting older. Fight that urge to start listening to Christmas music, though, because so many of your favorite throwbacks of Novembers past can keep you occupied all month long.

“Since U Been Gone,” Kelly Clarkson: 14 years old

Two years after being crowned the winner of the first season of American Idol, Kelly scored a timeless hit with “Since U Been Gone,” which released on November 16, 2004.

“Night Changes,” One Direction: 4 years old

One Direction solidified themselves as the kings of November, dropping each of their five albums during the month. Their last single with Zayn Malik, “Night Changes,” has a November 14 birthday.

“BedRock,” Young Money: 9 years old

Till the end of time, November 14 will be the day we celebrate the anniversary of Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Tyga, Gudda Gudda, Jae Millz and Lloyd coming together for “BedRock.”

“I Know What You Did Last Summer,” Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes: 3 years old

This Camila and Shawn collaboration gave the world the first taste of Camila’s solo material on November 18, 2015, before her solo career took off two years later.

“Unwritten,” Natasha Bedingfield: 14 years old

It’s hard to believe that “the rest is still unwritten” for Natasha, but I wouldn’t be against tweeting her and asking her on this song’s November 29 anniversary.

“Kiss Me Thru the Phone,” Soulja Boy featuring Sammie: 10 years old

Reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100 after its November 27, 2008 release, “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” was number nineteen on the publication’s year-end chart in 2009.

“7/11,” Beyoncé: 4 years old

The iconic “7/11” music video, which dropped on November 21, 2014, showed a far more playful side of Beyoncé, looking like a homemade video any of her fans could make.

“Whataya Want From Me,” Adam Lambert: 9 years old

When you honor Adam’s rockstar voice on this song’s November 24 anniversary, just think of it as his audition tape to join Queen on tour as lead vocalist five years later.

“Love Yourself,” Justin Bieber: 3 years old

We all know what word Justin really wanted to say when he sang “you should go and love yourself.” So much so, in fact, that Halsey covered “Love Yourself” (released November 8, 2015) and made it fully explicit.

“Piece of Me,” Britney Spears: 11 years old

Everyone wanted a piece of Britney Spears in 2017, enough to give her a platinum-certified track with her November 27 single, “Piece of Me.”

“The Heart Wants What It Wants,” Selena Gomez: 4 years old

Though there’s no confirmation that this single with a November 6 birthday is about Justin Bieber, Selena’s performance of the track at the 2014 AMAs included a true Justin lookalike.

“Let Me Love You,” Mario: 14 years old

Wanna know how Mario’s quintessential love song has staying power? Despite its pre-streaming release on November 16, 2004, it’s got over 250 million streams on Spotify.

Outlander’s Sam Heughan Missed Wearing A Kilt For Season 4

Outlander was once practically overflowing with Scottish Highlanders running around in kilts, but that hasn’t been the case since the Battle of Culloden saw the Highlanders massacred. Jamie hasn’t had the chance to wear his kilt much since the aftermath of Culloden, and the Season 4 premiere saw him spend the entire episode in pants. Pants rather than a kilt is going to be a theme for Jamie in Season 4.

While Sam Heughan admits that there’s a positive to wearing pants, he recently revealed to CinemaBlend and other outlets at an Outlander press junket that he missed the kilt. Here’s what Heughan had to say when asked if he missed the garment:

The upside of wearing pants for filming Outlander Season 4 is that Sam Heughan was able to stay warm with woolen undergarments, which likely wasn’t always possible with a kilt and bare legs. That’s not to say Jamie never strips down while out in the wilderness, as both he and Claire shed clothes to hook up in the woods of North Carolina. As one does. Still, the kilt is an important part of Jamie’s identity, and Heughan missed it for Jamie’s sake.

It’s not difficult to see where he’s coming from. Jamie was a proud Scotsman at the beginning of the series, and he was bound and determined to wear just the right kilt for his wedding to Claire. He didn’t hesitate to race into battle at Culloden despite knowing he’d likely die and his cause was doomed. The British did everything they could to strip the surviving Scots of their proud Scottish identities, and that included removing their right to wear their plaids.

Going to by Sam Heughan’s comments, we shouldn’t count on Jamie using his greater freedom in the American colonies to fold himself back into the kilt. He’ll be wearing pants for the foreseeable future. They may be more practical for the tasks ahead of him (and for any dealings with the Brits), but Jamie may not be the same without the kilt. Interestingly, Sam Heughan once shared the worst thing about wearing a kilt, although Caitriona Balfe made a good point about why the kilts are actually great for Outlander.

All of this said, viewers don’t have to expect kilts to be entirely absent from Outlander in Season 4. Sam Heughan went on to tease the presence of kilts and what Jamie someday wearing a kilt again could mean:

Fans who have kept up with the trailers released for Season 4 have known for a while that kilts will actually be very present in the 1960s storyline, as Roger can be seen dancing in one. Do Sam Heughan’s comments point toward other Scotsman in the American colonies wearing their kilts on a regular basis? We’ll have to wait and see.

Sam Heughan’s mention of saving the kilt for “a big occasion” is certainly interesting, although it sounds like that occasion may not come in Season 4. Book readers who are familiar with the plots of Drums of Autumn may be able to guess what Heughan is referring to, but only time will tell. The good news is that Outlander isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

For new episodes of Outlander Season 4, tune in to Starz on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET. The stakes are as high as they’ve ever been thanks to the introduction of Stephen Bonnet, and the action is only going to get more complicated as the season progresses.

Ranking The Hollywood Chrises Based On 2018

Unlike Ryan Reynolds, some of us are perfectly comfortable ranking the four main Hollywood Chrises. Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine and Chris Pratt are all beloved superhero stars, but they have not had equally strong years. We all have our personal favorites — and for me it’s Pine all day, every day. But this particular ranking looks at which Chris is having the best 2018.

When it comes to film and TV projects, after Chris Pine’s Outlaw King hits Netflix this Friday, it looks like the Chrises are done giving us major content for the year. (Except for the Avengers 4 trailer, of course.) So it’s a fair time to rank the lads based on box office, critic/audience reactions, and also less concrete factors like social media use (or lack thereof).

1. Chris Hemsworth

Pluses: So many movies, great Super Bowl ad, biggest payday
Minuses: Not all films successful, Star Trek pay dispute

Yes, sweet rabbit, your new BFF is No. 1! Arguably the most naturally charming Chris, Australian Chris Hemsworth has been everywhere this year. Not all of his projects have been successful, but he gets points for stretching in so many directions.

Chris Hemsworth got on the big screen bright and early in January as lead Captain Mitch Nelson in 12 Strong. The war drama got mediocre reviews and didn’t exactly light the box office on fire, but at least it performed better commercially than Bad Times at the El Royale, which just came out in October. That one pretty much flopped, but got a better critical reception. But, of course, between those two films, Hemsworth had a huge role in the biggest movie of the year — Avengers: Infinity War. His role was larger than Chris Evans’ Captain America and more appreciated than Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord. Thor was both funny with his new pals “Rabbit” and “Tree,” and moving in his heartfelt speeches. Out of everyone, he might’ve had the best overall showcase.

Speaking of Thor, Thor: Ragnarok came out on DVD/Blu-ray in March, and Chris Hemsworth had some fun promoting that on social media, showing his kids watching the film. He always seems to be filming, so it’s not clear how he even makes time for his wife actress Elsa Pataky and their three children. But Hemsworth tends to show off everything on social media, and also keeps fans up-to-date when he’s filming other projects. Hemsworth and his Ragnarok co-star Tessa Thompson filmed the Men in Black spinoff MIB together, showing off photos along the way. Depending on your position, you might see MIB as a minus, but I’m going with a plus. Now he’s filming Dhaka from a screenplay by Avengers co-director Joe Russo, sharing more behind-the-scenes goodies.

Chris Hemsworth somehow even made time to film a mock movie trailer with Danny McBride, leaving us wishing Dundee: The Son of A Legend Returns Home wasn’t just an Australian tourism ad that played during the 2018 Super Bowl. Hemsworth also made the most money of the Chrises in the past year. Despite Chris Pratt being in the top movies of 2018 (see below), Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans are the only two to make Forbes’ list of the top 10 highest paid actors in the world for June 2017 to June 2018. Hemsworth landed at No. 4 with $64.5 million, with Chris Evans just making the list at $34 million.

On the downside, Chris Hemsworth appears to be in a contract dispute alongside another Chris — Chris Pine. That’s reportedly keeping Star Trek 4 from moving forward, with both Chrises meant to reprise their roles as father and son. Neither Chris wants to take a pay cut, which is understandable. If one of the Chrises has to go, I’m thinking it should be Hemsworth. Still, his popularity has exploded since first playing George Kirk, so you can’t blame him too much for playing hardball.

2. Chris Pratt

Pluses: Best box office, Star-Lord reaction, James Gunn reaction, Chris quiz
Minuses: Star-Lord blame, Fallen Kingdom reaction, loss of two big movies

Li’l Sebastian would be so proud of the superhero Chris Pratt has become. When it comes to 2018 box office, he leaves the other Hollywood Chrises in the dust. Three of the four Chrises starred in Avengers: Infinity War, which has earned more than $2 billion at the worldwide box office. But Pratt also had Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which earned more than $1.3 billion. Infinity War and Fallen Kingdom are currently the No. 1 and No. 3 top-grossing movies of the year, respectively. No one — Chris or Other Name — can top that so far this year.

On the downside, many fans left Avengers: Infinity War ticked off at Star-Lord, blaming him for what happened. That’s not Chris Pratt’s fault, he has to play the cards he’s dealt as an actor. But he gets bonus points for handling that hate [chef’s kiss] perfectly. He acknowledged the fan anger on Instagram, showing a Star-Lord figurine getting, um, intimate with another Star-Lord figurine to reveal Pratt planned to go fuck himself. Classic. Pratt gets more social media points for taking Disney’s “Which Chris Are You?” quiz, getting Chris Evans instead of himself, and tweeting the results with a self-deprecating note.

However, in another downside, despite its financial success, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom wasn’t exactly universally loved. It got some pretty meh reactions and only a 51% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Again, that’s not entirely Pratt’s fault, but it takes away some of the shine. Right now, Pratt should be getting ready to start filming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in early 2019, but that film famously lost director James Gunn when he was fired for past tweets. Pratt joined the other cast members in a statement of support for Gunn, and struck a very careful tone in interviews to show his support, while not condoning the content of Gunn’s old tweets. He handled it pretty well, as well as anyone could.

Unfortunately, in addition to losing Guardians 3 filming — at least for now — Chris Pratt also saw his Cowboy Ninja Viking movie pulled from the release schedule right before production was supposed to begin. That’s a bummer. But he seemed to fill that slot with an upcoming project with writer-director Taylor Sheridan. That partnership sounds like a perfect fit for Pratt.

On a personal note, after finalizing his divorce from Anna Faris, Chris Pratt now seems to be happy in a new relationship with Katherine Schwarzenegger, daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver. So he’s this close to be a Kennedy and Ahhhhnold’s son-in-law. All told, things seem to be going pretty well for Chris Pratt.

3. Chris Evans

Pluses: Bearded Captain America, final Cap filming, Robert Downey Jr. bromance, social media, his dog
Minuses: Only one movie this year, potentially polarizing political posts

If there’s a 2019 version of this list, I fully expect Chris Evans to be on top. But Evans was only in one movie this year, a little indie called Avengers: Infinity War. So, yeah, if you’re only going to be in one film, it may as well be the No. 1 movie of the year, playing one of its most popular characters. Evans had audiences cheering for his entrance as Steve Rogers/Captain America, looking particularly fine with that new facial hair. Unlike Chris Pratt, no one walked away mad at bearded Cap. Plus, Cap survived the snap, so that’s a bonus.

We know Chris Evans will have a huge role in Avengers 4, which is very possibly his last time suiting up as Captain America. He tweeted a nostalgic note after filming what might’ve been his last scene, then had to clarify that he wasn’t trying to spoil anything in terms of Cap’s fate. But it’s too late, and some fans were left in tears, anticipating The End for Evans as Captain America. It looks like next year Evans should be releasing The Red Sea Diving Resort, Avengers 4, and Knives Out, his crime mystery with Daniel Craig, directed by Rian Johnson. We’re expecting to see Evans everywhere next year. But since he wasn’t everywhere this year, we can’t put him in the top two.

Even missing from the big screen for most of the year, Chris Evans had a strong presence online and on the small screen. He was on an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage over the summer, showing off the custom 1967 Camaro RS that Robert Downey Jr. had made for him. Yes, Iron Man made him a Camaro. He gets huge points for that. The Cap/Iron Man bromance is a beautiful thing to behold, and the actors kept it going several times throughout the year on social media.

Chris Evans often uses his Twitter for political posts, which would mark a downside for everyone not sharing his views. But when he’s not posting political stuff, he often posts fun things with his fellow Avengers, or posts photos of his adorable dog Dodger, which gets him extra points.

On a personal level, he dated actress Jenny Slate for a while, but they broke up again earlier this year. But Chris Evans being single may be an upside to anyone hoping the Boston boy will look their way next. If he’s not attached, fans can still dream.

4. Chris Pine

Pluses: The most unique Chris, dares to question Marvel, bold Outlaw King full frontal
Minuse: Box office and critical disappointments, Star Trek dispute stalls next movie

This is painful. On any other year, I’d never put Chris Pine last. He is, in my humble opinion, the most fascinating Chris. He has a bold fashion sense, refuses to use social media and still rocks a flip phone. The only non-MCU Chris has a refreshing IDAF attitude about modern mores and celebrity self-promotion. His personal life is also largely a mystery, which adds to the intrigue factor. This Chris was even bold enough to take a little shot at Marvel last year, nonchalantly questioning Infinity War as a title with “We need more war for all time?”

Chris Pine has shown some solid range in the past, from an Oscar-worthy (but not nominated) role in Hell or High Water to his scene-stealing role as Eric in Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer. He also gets bonus points for singing in various films, including in Into the Woods, as well as major props for singing about the Hollywood Chrises while hosting Saturday Night Live last year. Yes, that was last year, so it doesn’t technically count here, but the man actually sang about the Chrises. It was glorious.

But there’s no question this particular year hasn’t been his best — not at the box office, and not creatively. Chris Pine has only been in two movies this year — A Wrinkle in Time and Outlaw King. The former was not a big success with critics or audiences, and only picked up $132 million worldwide off a budget reported to be over $100 million. Pine didn’t have the lead role in Wrinkle, but he is Robert the Bruce in Outlaw King, which is heading straight to Netflix this Friday, November 9. Outlaw King is giving Chris Pine some pluses and minuses. It debuted to less-than-stellar reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival, except for the scene where Pine shows full-frontal nudity. Not every major franchise actor is willing to be so exposed on screen, so Chris Pine gets points for boldly going where the other Chrises have not gone before. (Chris Hemsworth used a fake penis for Vacation.)

Another minus for Chris Pine this year is the news that he may not return as James T. Kirk for Star Trek 4. Both he and Chris Hemsworth don’t want to take pay cuts. Some fans think the new film doesn’t need Pine’s Kirk at all, others think they shouldn’t make the film without him. Either way, he is the face of the rebooted franchise, and the most recent film in that franchise, Star Trek Beyond, wasn’t as successful as they had hoped. Hence, the pay cuts.

Chris Pine is currently filming Wonder Woman 1984 for its release in 2020. It was certainly a plus to learn we’d see more of Steve Trevor, although director Patty Jenkins still has some ‘splainin’ to do on how that will work.

Now it’s your turn to rank the Chrises for 2018!

Which Of These Four Chrises Has Had The Best 2018, In Your Opinion?

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‘Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again’ Review: Pop Art’s Tragic Prince

Andy Warhol’s ‘Before and After [4]’ (1962)
Andy Warhol’s ‘Before and After [4]’ (1962) Photo: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

New York

In 1960, two prominent art dealers, a museum curator and a documentary filmmaker called on Andy Warhol in the Lexington Avenue townhouse he’d come to own from the proceeds of his wunderkind success as an advertising artist. Warhol wanted their opinion on which of two paintings of Coke bottles was better—the more fine-artsy one that included some Abstract Expressionist drips or the one that was a cold reproduction. Unanimously, the group agreed it was the latter. “This moment,” says Whitney Museum curator Donna de Salvo in the big, heavy, gold catalogue for the museum’s big, heavy, gold-plated Warhol retrospective, “Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again” (on view Nov. 12-March 31, 2019), “is generally viewed as pivotal in Warhol’s favoring of a commercial aesthetic over the mark of ‘art.’”

Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again

Whitney Museum of American Art
Nov. 12-March 31, 2019

The visit and verdict set Warhol (1928-1987) on the path to becoming the single most important artist of the 20th and, so far, the 21st century. While Monet emphasized brushstrokes and light, Picasso twisted form into Einsteinian relativity, and Pollock let his subconscious flow in skeins of paint directly onto vast canvases, Warhol changed not merely the form but the entire attitude of modern art—from combative heterosexual avant-gardism to passive-aggressive, gay irony. As the perhaps necessary surfeit of explanatory wall texts points out, his method both “extolled” and “skewered” American culture.

Andy Warhol’s ‘Green Coca-Cola Bottles’ (1962)
Andy Warhol’s ‘Green Coca-Cola Bottles’ (1962) Photo: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the visual Arts, Inc./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), N.Y.

The initial shock of Pop Art, which Warhol both aesthetically and personally embodied, came not from the art itself, but rather its crashing the gates of “high art” in galleries and museums. Although multiple generations of post-’60s artists live and work unconsciously in Andy’s world, many of them are oblivious to that frisson. Many are too young to have seen its last historical summing up in the U.S.—the Museum of Modern Art’s 1989 retrospective.

Now we have the Whitney giving us a direct acquaintance, if not the original disobedient thrill, with an exhibition of more than 350 works (it seems like a thousand). They range from an early painting of a nose-job ad to huge, embellished silkscreen pictures of hot-colored electric chairs and a brushed-over Mao, Brillo-box sculptures, deliberately enervating “screen test” films of practically comatose “superstars,” and later experiments with UV light, camouflage and urine. (The show will travel to San Francisco and Chicago.)

Andy Warhol’s ‘Mao’ (1972)
Andy Warhol’s ‘Mao’ (1972) Photo: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

Andy Warhol was, to quote the catalog, “the ambitious, gay, Byzantine Rite Catholic son of Czechoslovak immigrants born on Pittsburgh’s working-class North Side.” His father was a construction worker who died when Andy was 13, and left him with an ethnic-sounding surname, Warhola, that he hated and later altered. Warhol’s mother cleaned houses, made decorative tchotchkes from tin cans and colored paper, and contributed much of the lettering to Andy’s lucrative early shoe-ad drawings.

A few years before he got the fateful career tip concerning his Coke-bottle paintings, Warhol—who was becoming desperate to enter what he saw as the real art world—took some homoerotic ink drawings to the scruffy Tanager Gallery, a redoubt of gnarly Abstract Expressionists, and was, figuratively, laughed out of the room. Even after he got a foothold in the New York art world in the early ’60s, he wondered why Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns—both gay and at least proto-Pop artists, but buttoned-down about their homosexuality—got more meaningful attention than he did. “Oh, when will I be famous,” Warhol said he went around moaining, “when will it happen?”

Andy Warhol’s ‘Self-Portrait’ (1964)
Andy Warhol’s ‘Self-Portrait’ (1964) Photo: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

As the art world underwent a seismic shift away from impoverished but obligatory macho bombast and drifted toward being more inclusive and businesslike, Andy won his cultural bet big. Indeed, Warhol wrote, “Business art is the step that comes after art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist.”

He was also extraordinarily talented. It wasn’t for nothing that Warhol the 1950s illustrator boasted a client list that included CBS, Upjohn pharmaceuticals, Martini & Rossi and the Container Corporation of America; he was the sole artist for I. Miller & Sons’ famous shoe campaign, and received the Art Directors Club Medal in 1957. As a gallery-and-museum artist, he had an unerring eye for the kinds of images that would push the “is this art or a joke?” boundaries of taste yet, as one art professor I know puts it, were as publicly “accessible as an image of the Madonna was to a person living in the Rhineland in the middle of the 11th century.”

Andy Warhol’s ‘Rorschach’ (1984)
Andy Warhol’s ‘Rorschach’ (1984) Photo: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

What gives Warhol an unexpected grandeur is his perhaps religious sense of tragedy. He’s the only Pop artist who isn’t essentially comic. His “long preoccupation with death” (Ms. De Salvo again, in the catalog), his fervent and troubled Catholicism (in the 1966 Warhol film, “The Pope Ondine Story,” the star shoots up amphetamine), and his clearly schizoid attitude toward cheapness and glitz remove him from visual happy talk about comic strips, gigantic badminton shuttlecocks and Standard Oil gas stations by, respectively, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Ed Ruscha. In Shakespearian terms, all those other Pop artists are “The Merry Wives of Windsor” while Warhol—being both the product of the “form and pressure” of his times, as well as the cause of them for artists who’ve come after—is pretty close to “Hamlet.”

That Warhol’s celebration of our society’s leaden vulgarity and materialism seems worthy again and again of museological examination isn’t, however, the problem. That it’s still so socially current, so persistently now, so apt a visual description of our thoughtless consumption is, alas, an enormous one. It’s time to move on.

Did Ariana Grande Hide A Tracklist In Her Bustling New ‘Breathin’ Video?

Ariana Grande sure is keeping her fans fed this week! After surprise-releasing “Thank, U Next” over the weekend, and smashing a few streaming records in the process, she visited Ellen for the single’s debut live performance. What’s more, the new song is on track to debut at the top of the Hot 100, which, unbelievably, would mark her first No. 1 on the Billboard chart. Not a bad way to head into her fifth album era.

But on Wednesday (November 7), Grande kept the Sweetener spirit alive with the release of the atmospheric “Breathin” video (and no, Piggy Smallz is nowhere in sight for this one). The vid is inspired by Ari’s struggles with anxiety, and finds her wandering a bustling train station where strangers dart by in fast-motion. Director Hannah Lux Davis weaves in shots of Grande singing on a pile of suitcases (a metaphor for emotional baggage?) and strolling through a foggy space in an oversized jacket. Eventually, she escapes to a different reality in the sky, where she calmly swings through the clouds.

Among those eye-catching shots is one of a departures board, which shows mostly jumbled-up words that appear to include several song titles. One is “Needy,” which we’ve already heard a snippet of, and others include “NASA,” “Imagine,” and “Remember.” Tellingly, all four of those titles appeared on a supposedly leaked, unverified tracklist that surfaced on Twitter last month. Perhaps the rest of the words just need to be unscrambled?!

For what it’s worth, this wouldn’t be the first time Grande’s snuck some album clues into a music video — she hid a portion of the Sweetener tracklist in the video for “No Tears Left to Cry.”

The 25-year-old has said she’s dropping her fifth album sometime in the near future — she teased a nine-song tracklist on Instagram in October, has shared several clips of her in the studio, and even revealed that “Thank U, Next” is the project’s title track. Now all we’re waiting for is an official release date, which, just FYI, probably does not have anything to do with the Adam Sandler movie Waterboy.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Review

The 1966 TV special of How the Grinch Stole Christmas has become a timeless holiday classic enjoyed by generations as much as the children’s book that inspired it. The 2000 movie version of the same title which stars Jim Carrey in the title role… has not. Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the new animated feature film from the studio behind the Despicable Me films won’t become the definitive version of the story, but it certainly comes closer than the previous big screen outing.

With the Dr. Seuss book dating back to 1957, it seems unlikely you’re not familiar with the basic plot, but in short, the Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) lives outside of the fantastical town of Whoville. In every way that the Whos are happy, smiling and pleasant people, the Grinch is angry, vicious and just plain mean. His disposition means he hates Christmas more than any other time of year, especially because the Whos love it so much. When Whoville tries to outdo themselves in Christmas spectacle, the Grinch decides he has to become the anti-Santa Claus and steal everything the represents Christmas in order to ruin it for the town.

That’s the main plot and story of the book, which can be read to a child in barely more than a few minutes. To pad out the runtime of a feature film, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch contains a B-plot that sees Cindy Lou Who (the only other named character in the book, voiced by Cameron Seely) work out a plot to trap Santa Claus on Christmas Eve night. Her motives are entirely pure. Cindy Lou’s mother Donna Lou (Rashida Jones) is an overworked, but unfaltering single mother, and Cindy Lou wants to be sure she has a Merry Christmas, which will require a face-to-face with Santa himself.

Beyond the additional material, the movie basically plays fairly close to both the book and the TV special that everybody loves. Pharrell Williams acts as the narrator. The voiceover is a combination of Seuss’ poetry and original material created for the film. The new stuff fits well with the classic lines, though if you have the book essentially memorized, then the lines that get changed to fit the new plot will likely hit your ear slightly off. (Reindeer, as it turns out, aren’t that scarce in Whoville after all. Capturing one becomes a key element of this version.) Williams’ performance is much more laid back and he’s no Boris Karloff, but then again, who is?

In addition to the narration, The Grinch takes its musical cues from the TV special. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” makes an early appearance, and while I wasn’t a particular fan of this cover, your mileage may vary. Danny Elfman handles the score, which also contains some melodies you’ll remember if you grew up with the Grinch on TV.

So much of The Grinch wants to remind you of the most popular version of the story and it succeeds. Unfortunately, in doing so it only ends up reminding you that what you’re seeing has been done better before in a much shorter runtime. The closer the movie stays to the book, the more you just sort of wish you were reading it.

What ends up elevating Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch then is, somewhat surprisingly, the new material. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Grinch isn’t quite the same character as the one from the book. He’s got a backstory that gives some indication of how he became the curmudgeon that he is, which changes the character significantly. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance makes you truly empathize with the Grinch, which makes the payoff at the end hit you square in the feels, regardless of the fact that we all saw it coming. Cindy Lou’s quest to make her mom happy is so ridiculously sweet, you might want to check for cavities after the film, but this is a Christmas movie and they get to get away with such emotional manipulation.

The other major highlight of The Grinch is the visuals. The animation is bright, colorful and full of life. Whoville is a wonder to behold. The various gadgets the Grinch uses to clean out the houses of all things Christmas are creative and fun, with a somewhat modern twist being put on the sort of wild inventions we might expect Dr. Seuss himself to draw.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch may not be the best version of this story ever told, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a warm and fun story that has enough warmth and charm to be exactly what many families will be looking for during the holiday season.

Rating:
movie reviewed rating
3.5/5

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Viktor Drago Is Terrifying In New Creed II Video

Creed II will find Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed seeking to avenge his father by defeating the son of the man who killed him in the ring. In Viktor Drago, Adonis faces an opponent who may be even more deadly than the man who killed his father, the Siberian Express, Ivan Drago. A new video for Creed II hammers this point home, showing Florian Munteanu‘s positively terrifying boxer who, like his father before him, looks unbeatable. Take a look.

Yeah, Adonis has his work cut out for him, although just getting in the ring with that dude is a moral victory if you believe in those. Like the actor playing him, Viktor Drago is a tall 6’4″ and a massive 245 lbs and he completely dwarfs Michael B. Jordan‘s character, similar to how Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa looked like he wasn’t even close to being in the same weight class as Dolph Lundgren’s Russian.

That size alone is a lot for Adonis to overcome, not to mention Drago’s lengthy 79″ reach. More than just being a shredded giant, this video from MGM shows Viktor Drago to have an insane level of athleticism and some seriously scary power. He looks like he could starch a rhinoceros with one punch.

At the end of the video, we can see the look of pure bewilderment on Adonis’ face after taking a mean left hook from the Russian. He has clearly never taken a shot like that and he will have to dig deep and absorb punishment like he’s never experienced if he hopes to stand a chance against such a terrifying force.

The other thing that comes across in this video and in the trailers for Creed II is that while Viktor Drago possesses the same intimidating size and skill that gave Rocky such problems, he did not inherit his father’s stoicism. Ivan was like a cold, unfeeling machine, designed for victory and to break people as a matter of routine, with no emotion attached to the act.

Viktor is something else entirely. In the trailer, Rocky tells Adonis that Viktor was raised in hate. We know that life was very hard for Ivan Drago after his loss to Rocky. Those struggles lead to anger, and as a wise master once said, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering. We see what that hate has created and it looks as if it will bef Adonis who will be suffering.

Viktor seems full of rage with a ferocity and intensity that would probably defeat most opponents mentally before they ever set foot in the ring with him. I’m not sure that this grudge match will end with the same unifying message about change that Rocky once espoused, thus ending the Cold War.

Round 1 begins when Creed II hits theaters on November 21st. Check out our holiday movie guide to get the rundown on all of the sequels, blockbusters and awards contenders headed to theaters and for all the latest in reminders to get back to the gym, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.