Queen rocker and animal rights activist Brian May has condemned officials at a Danish zoo over the controversial killing of a giraffe and called for a boycott. The healthy young animal, named Marius, was deemed unfit for breeding, so officials at Copenhagen Zoo decided to put him down.
The giraffe was killed with a bolt gun and dissected in front of onlookers before being fed to the zoo's lions, prompting an outcry from animal lovers across the world.
May has condemned zoo officials for carrying out the shocking act in the name of science and called for a boycott of the institution.
In a post on his official blog, May writes, "An appalling, senseless act of cruelty. Along with most of the rest of the world, we're disgusted to see that this zoo ignored the many offers to re-home this poor animal, and mercilessly, as if they were proud of it, for all to see, ended its life... I believe the only way decent people can make their feelings known on this is to absolutely boycott the Copenhagen Zoo. I believe that by this stupid act, the guardians of this zoo have hastened its demise as an institution. For me, it would be a worthy and just outcome of this tragedy."
Jan Persson/Getty ImagesFollowing the 1991 tragic death of Freddie Mercury, undoubtedly one of the greatest showman of all time, it seemed unthinkable that the remaining members of Queen would even consider trying to find someone capable of filling his massive platform boots. And yet from one-off performances with Elton John and George Michael to a string of dates with American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert to a world tour and album with Paul Rodgers, Brian May and Roger Taylor have continued to showcase the band's iconic back catalogue with various different replacements. With fun.'s Nate Ruess the latest frontman to appear alongside the rock legends at last weekend's iHeartRadio Festival, here’s a look at five other potential candidates who embody the spirit of The Great Pretender.
Robbie WilliamsSay what you like about the former Take That star but he sure knows how to work a crowd. Williams has already been in the studio with Queen having recorded a cover of "We Are The Champions" for A Knight’s Tale and reportedly came close to fronting their 2005 reunion tour. But he's yet to make that giant leap and join them on stage.
MikaMika even referenced Mercury directly in his 2007 breakthrough hit, "Grace Kelly." And although his star has diminished considerably since, his natural flamboyance and piercing falsetto still makes him a credible contender.
Justin HawkinsAnother name who was touted in the press before Queen settled on Rodgers, Justin Hawkins channelled the bluster and pomp of the band's '70s era perfectly with The Darkness' debut album, Permission To Land. A virtuoso guitarist, the catsuit-clad rocker could also offer some neat interplay with May.
Russell BrandA leftfield choice which would no doubt enrage Queen's loyal fan base, the former Mr. Katy Perry may be best-known for his witty dictionary-swallowing way with words. But his roles in Get Me To The Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, not to mention his London Olympics Closing Ceremony performance, proved he's got what it takes to be a rock star.
Marc MartelThe least known but possibly most obvious choice to do their classic hits justice, Marc Martel was personally chosen by Taylor to front the officially-sanctioned covers band for the recent Queen Extravaganza Tour following a YouTube-uploaded audition which displayed a highly impressive uncanny vocal resemblance to his idol.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Disney takes another whack at “Witch Mountain” having found success more than three decades ago with Escape to Witch Mountain and its sequel. Now the story has been contemporized and Bourne-ified to create what is essentially a nonstop breathless race across long winding roads and two worlds competing for superiority. As in the original two children with extraordinary powers seek to save Earth and their own planet from evil forces. They waste no time jumping into a hapless Las Vegas taxi driver’s cab ordering him to put the pedal to the metal. It soon becomes clear the secret to their quest lies somewhere in Witch Mountain a place where top-secret government activity has been going on for years. With their own alien military leaders in favor of a violent takeover and the U.S. leaders ready for confrontation these two teens Sara and Seth plus their cabbie Jack Bruno race against time to find a better solution for both of their worlds.
WHO’S IN IT?
Fast becoming Disney’s go-to guy Dwayne Johnson (formerly known as The Rock) follows up his hit football comedy The Game Plan with another family-oriented tale in which he again gets upstaged by kids. His Jack Bruno proves the perfect foil this time as he gets to be funny cynical commanding and heroic all in the course of about 97 minutes. As events careen out of his control Johnson grows increasingly exasperated and that’s part of the fun. As Sara a smart extraterrestrial teen Anna-Sophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia) is ideally cast bringing a nice believability to the role without falling into stereotypes. Seth is well played but with one-note earnestness by Alexander Ludwig who still comes off a little too robotic at times. As an astrophysicist who gets caught up in the trio’s predicament Carla Gugino is a delight. Lead among the antagonists is Irish actor Ciaran Hinds who is properly mean and heartless when it comes to aliens of any stripe. Director Garry Marshall has an amusing cameo as a self-styled UFO expert and there are brief but welcome appearances by the all-grown-up Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann who played the ‘70s incarnation of the alien kids in the earlier films. Richards’ face-to-face meeting with Robb is especially sweet.
The filmmakers wisely keep the retro tone of the book and earlier films while using state-of-the-art visual effects and movie magic. A lot of sci-fi movies have come along since Escape to Witch Mountain premiered in 1975 – see Star Wars Close Encounters and E.T. And while Witch Mountain circa 2009 won’t do anything to make us forget those classics it’s good fun -- like welcoming back an old friend.
There’s no complexity in sight and the story isn’t given a lot of time to breathe. We barely get to know Jack Bruno before the kids have hijacked his cab and the whirlwind begins. A little more exposition and plot development would have been welcomed for those with an attention span beyond two minutes.
There are lots of first-rate action set pieces including a collision with a train and a chase through a Vegas casino but the climactic spaceship battle can’t be topped. Kids are going to eat this sequence up.
After showing Jack her alien prowess for the first time by making various items in his cab float in mid-air Sara says “you humans don’t move objects because you don’t develop your full brain capacity”. Bruno replies “No I don’t do it because it’s kind of creepy.”
Of course 21 isn’t just about blackjack. It’s more about Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) a shy but brilliant M.I.T. student who--needing to pay Harvard medical school tuition--finds the answers in the cards so to speak. After dazzling his unorthodox math professor and stats genius Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) with some mathematical prowess Ben is quickly indoctrinated into Rosa’s group of “gifted” students who head to Las Vegas every weekend with the know-how to count cards and beat the casino at the blackjack tables. And win big they do. Ben is soon seduced by the allure of this luxurious lifestyle including his sexy teammate Jill (Kate Bosworth) but begins rebelling against the well-oiled machine Rosa has built. Apparently you don’t want to cross this particular math professor--nor the old-school casino security consultant (Laurence Fishburne) who has set his sights on Ben as a master card counter. It’s not illegal to do that but the casinos don’t much like it when they catch you doing it. Hey what happens in Vegas…oh you know the rest. The most well-rounded performance comes from the British Sturgess best known for singing Beatles’ songs in Across the Universe. His Ben starts out as a naive math whiz/nerd whose biggest thrill is designing the perfect science project for an M.I.T. contest but then becomes the smooth Vegas dude with the nice clothes and hot girlfriend and finally turns into the guy who eventually loses it all. It’s not hard to see just how much Ben is going to change once he gets involved in the moneymaking scheme but Sturgess handles the transition with aplomb. The stiff Bosworth isn’t nearly as effective as his love interest but she has her moments. Also good for comic relief is Aaron Yoo (Disturbia) as one of the blackjack players who oddly enough is also a kleptomaniac. The performance drawbacks in 21 come from the more veteran players. Spacey and Fishburne seem to be going through the motions utilizing techniques they’ve used many times before. Spacey can whither whoever it is with that look of his while Fishburne postures as he always does. It’s too bad they couldn’t have put in more effort. As with any movie in which the action is inherently stagnant (i.e. sitting at a blackjack table) the question is how to keep things visually stimulating. That’s where director Robert Luketic--who up to this point has only done broad comedies such as Legally Blonde and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton--comes in. Luketic does a fine job maneuvering the camera around the tables creating slo-mo close-ups of the cards and incorporating a cool soundtrack. A good montage or four usually can also work well in a situation like this and Luketic fully utilizes that technique--from the kids winning to them spending their money in gloriously obscene ways. Based on the book Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions 21 has the extra advantage of being a somewhat true story as well. But the script from Peter Steinfeld and Allan Loeb basically copies from other sources and never really distinguishes itself.