The 2014 CMT Music Awards kicked off with a star-studded video intro on Wednesday night (04Jun14), with host Kristen Bell in search of a co-host for the ceremony. She "interviewed" comedian Tom Arnold, Sean Hayes, and her real-life husband Dax Shepard for the job, but with the help of pals Malin Akerman and Cheryl Hines, decided to go solo. The clip also featured a parody of Jay Z's recent elevator brawl with sister-in-law Solange Knowles, as Luke Bryan was forced to break up the duelling members of Florida Georgia Line, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard in a lift.
Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan were crowned the kings of the 2014 CMT Music Awards after they each took home two trophies at the TV network's annual prizegiving on Wednesday (05Jun14). Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard earned prizes for Duo Video of the Year as well as Collaborative Video of the Year for This is How We Roll featuring Bryan.
The Drunk On You hitmaker landed a second award, CMT Performance of the Year, for a separate duet with Lionel Richie thanks to their Oh No/All Night Long set from the 2012 CMT Artists of the Year TV special.
The trio dominated the show at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee from the start of the ceremony, when they were joined by ZZ Top and R&B star Jason Derulo to sing and dance to a mash-up of his song Talk Dirty and Florida Georgia Line's This is How We Roll to kick off the programme.
It was also a big night for Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, and Miranda Lambert, who won the Video of the Year, Male Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year, respectively. This is the second year in a row in which the trio has taken the top honours.
The ceremony, which was hosted by three-time emcee Kristen Bell, also included sets from Keith Urban, Hunter Hayes, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town.
John Legend sang a special version of his hit All of Me arranged by Hunter Hayes, while Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles joined in with vocals, and Lee Ann Womack and Kacey Musgraves took on Alan Jackson's Livin on Love just before Underwood presented him with the first-ever CMT Impact Award.
The top winners are:
Video of the Year - See You Again by Carrie Underwood
Female Video of the Year - Automatic by Miranda Lambert
Male Video of the Year - Doin' What She Likes by Blake Shelton
Group Video of the Year - Done by The Band Perry
Duo Video of the Year - Round Here by Florida Georgia Line
Breakthrough Video of the Year - Wasting All These Tears by Cassadee Pope
Collaborative Video of the Year - This is How We Roll by Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan
CMT Performance of the Year - Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie for Oh No/All Night Long from 2012 CMT Artists of the Year
CMT Impact Award - Alan Jackson
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
With only a week and change having passed since the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we no doubt feel the question living fresh in our minds: can we ever judge a remake without considering its predecessors? The conversation about the stark contrast in critical favor between Marc Webb's release and Sam Raimi's trilogy (the second installment of his franchise in particular) buzzed loudly, and we imagine the volume will keep in regards to Gareth Edwards' Godzilla. But it'll be a different sound altogether.
The original Godzilla, a Japanese film released in 1954, reinvented the identity of the monster movie, launched a 30-film legacy, and spoke legions about the political climate of its era. The most recent of these films — Roland Emmerich's 1998 American production — is universally bemoaned as a bigger disaster than anything to befall Tokyo at the hands of the giant reptile. With these two entries likely standing out as the most prominent in the minds of contemporary audiences, Edwards' Godzilla has some long shadows cast before it. And in approaching the new movie, one might not be able to avoid comparisons to either. It's fair — by taking on an existing property, a filmmaker knowingly takes on the connotations of that property. But the 2014 installment's great success is that it isn't much like any Godzilla movie we've seen before. In a great, great way.
This isn't 1954's Godzilla, a dire and occasionally dreary allegory that uses the supernatural to tell an important story about nuclear holocaust. A complete reversal, in fact, first and foremost Edwards' Godzilla is about its monsters. Any grand themes strewn throughout — the perseverence of nature, the follies of mankind, fatherhood, madness, faith — are all in service to the very simple mission to give us some cool, weighty, articulate sci-fi disaster. Elements of gravity are plotted all over the film's surface, with scientists, military men (kudos to Edwards for not going the typical "scientists = good/smart, military = bad/dumb" route in this film — everybody here is at least open to suggestion), doctors, police officers, and a compassionate bus driver all wrestling with options in the face of behemoth danger. The humanity is everpresent, but never especially intrusive. To reiterate, this isn't a film about any of these people, or what they do.
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
The closest thing to a helping of thematic (or human) significance comes with Ken Watanabe's Dr. Serizawa, who spouts awe-stricken maxims about cryptozoology, the Earth, and the inevitable powerlessness of man. He might not be supplying anything more substantial than our central heroes (soft-hearted soldier Aaron Taylor-Johnson, dutiful medic and mom Elizabeth Olsen, right-all-along conspiracy theorist Bryan Cranston), but Watanabe's bonkers performance as the harried scientist is so bizarrely good that you might actually believe, for a scene or two, that it all does mean something.
Ultimately, the beauty of our latest taste of Godzilla lies not in the commitment to a message that made the original so important nor in the commitment to levity that made Emmerich's so pointless, but in its commitment to imagination. Edwards' creature design is dazzling, his deus ex machina are riveting, and the ultimate payoff to which he treats his audience is the sort of gangbusters crowd-pleaser that your average contemporary monster movie is too afraid to consider.
In fairness, this year's Godzilla might not be considered an adequate remake, not quite reciprocating the ideals, tone, or importance of the original. Sure, anyone looking for a 2014 answer to 1954's game-changing paragon will find sincere philosophy traded for pulsing adventure... but they'd have a hard time ignoring the emphatic charm of this new lens for the 60-year-old lizard, both a highly original composition and a tribute in its way to the very history of monster movies (a history that owes so much to the creature in question). So does Godzilla '14 successfully fill the shoes of Godzilla '54? No — it rips them apart and dons a totally new pair... though it still has a lot of nice things to say about the first kicks.
Oh, and the '98 Godzilla? Yeah, it's better than that.
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Miranda Lambert has extended her reign as the new queen of country after leading the nominations for the 2014 CMT Music Awards. The Mama's Broken Heart singer is up for six trophies at this year's event - two as a solo act, two for her We Were Us duet with Keith Urban and two with her band the Pistol Annies.
Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan have landed five nods each, while Urban and Taylor Swift have four each to take to the CMT Music Awards on 4 June at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena in Tennessee.
The night's big prize for Video of the Year will be a battle between Blake Shelton and Pistol Annies (Boys 'Round Here), Carrie Underwood (See You Again), Eric Church (Give Me Back My Hometown), Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan (This Is How We Roll), Hunter Hayes (I Want Crazy), Kacey Musgraves (Follow Your Arrow), Keith Urban with Miranda Lambert (We Were Us), Luke Bryan (That's My Kind of Night), Miranda Lambert (Automatic), Taylor Swift (Red), Thomas Rhett (It Goes Like This) and Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban (Highway Don't Care).
Meanwhile, Dierks Bentley and OneRepublic (Counting Stars), Jake Owen (Days Of Gold), Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks (Rhiannon), Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie (Oh No/All Night Long), The Band Perry and Fall Out Boy (My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark) and Willie Nelson and Neil Young (Long May You Run) - all from CMT TV specials - are up for the CMT Performance of the Year prize.
Singers Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert battled through technical problems and strong winds on Friday (25Apr14) as they headlined the 2014 Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, California. The opening day of the annual event was a blustery affair, and Gilbert, who bounced back from recent hernia troubles to perform, had to contend with sound issues too as he belted out hits like Bottoms Up, Kick It in the Sticks, You Don't Know Her Like I Do and Dirt Road Anthem.
The technical problems had been resolved by the time Church kicked off his set, but the brewing dust storm caused some fans to leave early and even prompted the country star to curse the winds after having to wipe off a layer of dirt and sweat from his face, saying, "This wind is p**sing me off!"
However, he refused to let the chill rush him offstage and treated his diehard fans to renditions of tracks including Drink in My Hand, These Boots, Give Me Back My Hometown and Jack Daniels.
He even defied his producers' advice to cut his encore due to the weather conditions, revealing, "They said it was too windy, but they can kiss my a**!" before launching into Creepin' and his smash hit Springsteen.
Despite the winds, an estimated 50,000 people, including celebrity couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, turned out for Friday's events. The weekend line-up also included performances from Jason Aldean, Hunter Hayes and Jennifer Nettles, while Lee Brice, Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan closed out Sunday's (27Apr14) festivities.
Breaking Bad will go up against House Of Cards in the fight for the best international TV show prize at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) TV Awards. The drama shows will compete against French supernatural show The Returned and Danish political drama Borgen at the television awards ceremony in London on 18 May (14).
Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, is also up for the Radio Times Audience Award, which will be voted for by the British public. It will compete against U.K. shows including detective drama Broadchurch, Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor and reality shows Gogglebox, The Great British Bake Off and Educating Yorkshire.
Fifty Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan has been nominated in the Leading Actor category for his portrayal of a serial killer in The Fall, along with Dominic West for in his role as Richard Taylor in Burton and Taylor, Sean Harris for Southcliffe and Luke Newberry for In The Flesh.
West's co-star Helena Bonham Carter is up for Leading Actress for her portrayal of Dame Elizabeth Taylor. She will compete against Kerrie Hayes (The Mill), Maxine Peake (The Village) and Olivia Colman (Broadchurch).
Broadchurch is also nominated in the Drama Series category alongside The Village, detective thriller Top of the Lake and comedy My Mad Fat Diary, while Dornan's The Fall will compete in the Mini-Series group against Southcliffe, In The Flesh and The Great Train Robbery.
Other stars to have landed key nominations include Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, who is nominated for best Male Performance in a Comedy Programme for The IT Crowd, going head-to-head with his co-star Richard Ayoade. The sitcom is also nominated in the Situation Comedy category.
Singers George Strait, Garth Brooks and Miranda Lambert are lining up to salute music legend Merle Haggard at the upcoming Academy of Country Music Awards. The veteran will be honoured with the Crystal Milestone Award to mark his 50th anniversary in the industry, and Strait and Lambert have signed up to pay tribute with a medley of his hits, including Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down and I'm a Lonesome Fugitive.
Brooks will present the prize to Haggard himself at the ceremony, which will take place in Las Vegas on 6 April (14).
The Band Perry will open the prizegiving, while other performers slated to hit the stage include Hunter Hayes, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks, as well as the awards show's hosts, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan.
I know, that headline is trouble. You're always treading dangerous ground when you insist on defining what makes a good this or the right kind of that, as if there is no room for change or improvement when it comes to classic properties. Of course there is — Jason Segel's 2011 Muppet film approached the concept from an entirely different direction. It didn't hit all of its marks, but it prevailed overall in its conceit: make a movie not about Muppets, but about Muppet fandom. But Muppets Most Wanted, in absence of a clear mission statement and fueled largely by the monetary glimmers of the sequel game (the film's opening number admits this outright), has fewer marks readily available to hit. Landing in the ambiguity between the classic Muppet adventure formula and Segel's post-modern Henson appreciation party, Most Wanted feels like a failure on both counts. It doesn't know which kind of movie it wants to, or should, be. So it doesn't really be anything.
On the one hand, there's the half-cocked "get-the-band-back-together" through line, mimicking but not quite accomplishing the spirit of the 2011 picture. None of the Muppets are particularly likable or charming in this turn, and even fewer of them actually given anything to do. Kermit loses his s**t in the first act after a spat with Piggy and a barrage of insubordination from his troupe (provoked by the nefarious Dominic Badguy, Ricky Gervais), storms off in a huff, and gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity when his criminal doppelganger Constantine pulls the old switcheroo, landing Kermit in a Russian gulag. You'd think this would be a good opportunity for the second tier of Muppet favorites — Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, et al — to go on a search and rescue... but save for a very brief sequence at the tail end of this achingly long film, none of the other Muppets are giving anything to do. They just hem and haw and perform the occasional "Indoor Running of the Bulls" while Dominic and Constantine scheme, rob banks, and bicker.
Meanwhile, Kermit has some fun in prison — a far more endearing plot that sees him befriending the merry convicts, organizing a penitentiary revue, and even winning the heart of the vicious warden Nadia (Tina Fey). If only we could spend more time with real Kermit and less time with fake Kermit and his second banana Gervais, an effectively boring pair.
On the other hand, though, there's the Muppet shtick that fans of The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island — and yes, The Muppet Show itself — will deem the movie's best material: CIA Agent Sam Eagle and Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) hot on the trail of Constantine and Dominic. Here, we get a different type of Muppet movie entirely from what Segel and the A-plot in Most Wanted are opting: the old fashioned vaudeville act, with Sam standing as an independent entity from his googly-eyed brethren, on a goofy, musical prowl with Burrell that fuels the film with its best and most consistent chuckles. Their "Interrogation Song" number is outstanding, exemplifying the many talents of Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, who wrote all the music for this and the previous film.
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Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted isn't sure that it wants to be The Great Muppet Caper, beheld so stubbornly to its Segelian roots. There's a palpable compulsion to stick with this agonizingly self-aware, nostalgia-crazy, brimming-beacons-of-the-past-in-a-callous-today theme that doesn't work a fraction as well as it did in the 2011 film. Without a legitimate celebration of any of our favorite characters, how could it? With so much going on in this movie, and such a lengthy runtime at just under two hours, it's a sure sign of failure that we walk away feeling like we spent barely any time with the Muppets.
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For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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