Take That star Gary Barlow has teamed up with legendary hip-hop producer Rick Rubin to create music for a Broadway version of Johnny Depp's 2004 Peter Pan film Finding Neverland. The musical is set to debut at a Nederlander Organisation theatre in March (15) and Barlow has revealed and Rubin have been collaborating on a "guest artist album" at the producer's California studio over the summer.
In a message on Twitter.com, the pop star writes, "The Legend Rick Rubin is Producing a Finding Neverland Guest Artist Album. I've spent the summer at his amazing studio in Malibu."
In addition to Barlow, pop star Jessie J has been tapped to contribute a song called Stronger, dedicated to the Boston marathon bombing victims, to the upcoming concept album.
Other singers rumoured to have tracks on the record are Alicia Keys, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson, who performed the song Never Neverland at the Tony Awards in June (14).
WENNThe BRIT Awards may no longer be the must-see event it was in the 90s, but it's still by far the British music industry's biggest night. Here's a look at the list of this year's nominees and the acts who should perhaps start preparing their acceptance speeches ready for February 19. British Male Solo ArtistDavid Bowie, Jake Bugg, James Blake, John Newman, Tom OdellConsidering the BRITs' reputation for awarding sales over talent, it's surprising but pleasing to see that both Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams have been snubbed here. The panel may want to justify giving New Boring singer-songwriter Tom Odell the Critics Choice award last year, but there would surely be an outcry if David Bowie didn't get the sentimental vote and pick up his first BRIT in nearly 30 years.Who Will Win: David BowieWho Should Win: David BowieBritish Female Solo ArtistBirdy, Ellie Goulding, Jessie J, Laura Marling, Laura MvulaLaura Marling surprised everyone by pipping Ellie Goulding to this award in 2011 but considering the latter's triumphant twelve months, it's difficult to see her doing the same this year. Just as long as the caterwauling Jessie J doesn’t get her hands on it.Who Will Win: Ellie GouldingWho Should Win: Laura MvulaBritish GroupArctic Monkeys, Bastille, Disclosure, One Direction, RudimentalIt’s encouraging to see the BRITs recognise two of the year's best commercial dance acts in this category, but British Group almost always goes to a guitar band so Arctic Monkeys are almost certain to add to their tally of five.Who Will Win: Arctic MonkeysWho Should Win: DisclosureBritish Breakthrough ActBastille, Disclosure, Laura Mvula, London Grammar, Tom OdellLondon Grammar produced one of the most beautiful albums of last year with If You Wait but as this award is voted for by listeners of Radio 1, it will inevitably go to the act with the biggest fan base. Step forward the unfathomably successful Bastille.Who Will Win: Bastille Who Should Win: London GrammarBritish SingleBastille ("Pompeii"), Calvin Harris ("I Need Your Love"), Disclosure ("White Noise"), Ellie Goulding ("Burn"), John Newman ("Love Me Again"), Naughty Boy ("La La La"), One Direction ("One Way Or Another/Teenage Kicks"), Passenger ("Let Her Go"), Rudimental ("Waiting All Night")Bar Passenger's contrived snoozefest, this isn't a bad list of the best-selling singles of the last year. Again voted for by the public, One Direction will inevitably walk away with the award. But it's a shame that it'll be for their karaoke mash-up of Blondie's "One Way Or Another"/The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" rather than the far superior "Story Of My Life."Who Will Win: One DirectionWho Should Win: Naughty BoyBritish Album of the YearArctic Monkeys (AM), Bastille (Bad Blood), David Bowie (The Next Day), Disclosure (Settle), Rudimental (Home)A welcome departure from the bombastic EDM favoured by the likes of Guetta et al, Disclosure's Settle was the album that 2013 needed. But following the return-to-form of AM, BRITs favorites Arctic Monkeys will probably pick up the second and arguably the most coveted award of the night.Who Will Win: Arctic MonkeysWho Should Win: DisclosureInternational Male Solo ArtistBruno Mars, Drake, Eminem, John Grant, Justin TimberlakePossibly the biggest snub of the awards is the lack of Kanye West, who like his former touring partner Jay-Z, has been entirely ignored in favour of Justin Timberlake's two bloated and self-indulgent comeback albums and Eminem's regressive Marshall Mathers sequel. More encouraging is this year's most leftfield nominee John Grant, but with Bruno Mars set to perform on the night, this category will only go one way.Who Will Win: Bruno MarsWho Should Win: John GrantInternational Female Solo ArtistJanelle Monae, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Lorde, PinkSuggesting the BRITs panel aren't too keen on the whole twerking phenomenon, Miley Cyrus is another major omission here. Lorde might be worth an outside bet but currently the most bankable pop star on the planet, Katy Perry will probably reign supreme.Who Will Win: Katy PerryWho Should Win: Janelle MonaeInternational GroupArcade Fire, Daft Punk, Haim, Kings Of Leon, Macklemore & Ryan LewisIf there was an award for Best International Single, Daft Punk would run away with it. But despite the mixed reaction to their last album, the BRITs are more likely to favour Kings of Leon than any of the more adventurous names on the list.Who Will Win: Kings Of LeonWho Should Win: Haim
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.