A campaign to make rocker Ozzy Osbourne a knight is gathering pace after his daughter Kelly threw her weight behind it. Public support for Australian super-fan Helen Maidiotis' campaign has mounted since Kelly backed it online, writing on Twitter.com, "I think this really needs to happen!" alongside a link to the project's Facebook.com page.
The petition had received 13,880 signatures on Tuesday (10Jun14), around 6,000 short of its 20,000 target.
In a note to Britain's Honours and Appointments Secretariat David Spooner, posted on Causes.com, Maidiotis writes, "I am petitioning for Ozzy Osbourne, frontman for Black Sabbath to receive a Knighthood after over 40 years of service to the music industry. Birmingham born John Michael Osbourne, has been entertaining and inspiring a great many throughout his life, he has been a huge success world wide with many successful albums with both Black Sabbath as well as in his solo career.
"Now in his mid 60's (sic), I believe the time has come for him to receive a Knighthood. Please consider Mr Osbourne for this honour as it is well deserved and long over due."
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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Sci-fi movies, TV and books usually resemble previous futuristic works, because we already recognize the common elements. Robots, neon lights, high-tech gadgets, sterile environments: these are just some of the traits that make the sci-fi genre. Almost Human has displayed all of those traits, but some stand out more than others.
Almost Human borrows from some of the best sci-fi films to form an enjoyable, cohesive TV series that is just getting started.
Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) must retire replicants, which are basically robots who look like and behave like humans. In Almost Human, Michael Ealy plays Dorian, a unique android brought out of retirement to work with Karl Urban's Det. John Kennex. Dorian isn't like the standard robots in Almost Human. He has emotions similar to a human and can think unlike the typical cyborg. Dorian would be the type of specimen Deckard would hunt in Blade Runner. Also, the dark slums littered with neon signs everywhere in the first episode of Almost Human resemble an environment in Blade Runner.
Although Det. Kennex isn't a souped-up man-machine, the beginning of Almost Human basically copies the beginning of Robocop. Kennex is ambushed by bad guys just like Alex Murphy (Peter Weller). Kennex is out of it for a while and then teams up Dorian. Together, they form an interesting duo the same way Robocop and Anne Lewis do. Lewis is kind of useless, no? Then again, Robocop is slow as hell, so someone has to do the ground work. Neither Dorian nor Kennex possess mega powers, but their combination forms a much more potent force than any other cops on Almost Human.
It wouldn't be a sci-fi universe without some robotic add-on to a human. In this case, Kennex has a prosthetic leg, to replace the one he lost when a grenade literally blows it off in the first scene of the series. In I, Robot, Will Smith plays Del Spooner, a Chicago cop who has a fake arm. The fake arm has its advantages. It easily punches opposing robots in the face. And it saves the day when Spooner slides down a gigantic computer core by sticking his arm into the core itself; a human arm could do no such thing. Will Kennex's leg save him? Spooner, much like Kennex, seems to be the only one doing some gritty police work. Yes, they are the main characters, however, out in the field, it would be nice to have some backup. Kennex has Dorian, Spooner was usually on his own.
A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.
It's the late 18th century and the African slave trade is thriving in the British Empire bringing profits to both homegrown shipping centers like Liverpool and far-flung sugar and tobacco plantations in the Americas. All those pounds and pence encourage many bewigged House of Lords members to turn a blind eye to slavery's terrible human cost--until William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) forces them to pay attention. A rich young idealist inspired by John Newton (Albert Finney)--the former slave ship captain who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace"--Wilberforce struggles for more than 15 years to pass a law to end slavery risking his health and career in the process. He almost gives up until a fortuitous meeting with beautiful Barbara Spooner (Romola Garai) re-ignites his passion for the cause. One of the best things Amazing Grace has going for it is Gruffudd's enthusiastic heartfelt performance. Probably best known to American audiences as Horatio Hornblower the Welsh actor is no stranger to period drama and his ease in knickers and puffy shirts helps ground the film and make Wilberforce an accessible down-to-earth hero rather than a crusading zealot. Meanwhile with her arch looks and knowing smiles Garai gives her relatively thankless role--basically Barbara is an excuse for exposition-driven flashbacks--a spark of fun. Finney does a little (mostly justified) scenery chewing as Newton while fellow veteran Michael Gambon has some delightfully devilish moments as Wilberforce's unexpected political ally Lord Charles Fox. And Rufus Sewell who often ends up playing smooth baddies is both witty and wily as fervent abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. Considering that director Michael Apted is the man behind the series of groundbreaking British documentaries that began with Seven Up! Amazing Grace is almost quaintly straightforward and sincere. There's no question that William Wilberforce fought for a good cause or that he was a decent man who used his influence to make the world a better place. But at least in the movie that world doesn't have too many shades of gray in it which--while it helps keep the story on track--isn't exactly realistic. Some of the movie's most intriguing scenes follow Wilberforce and his gang of fellow activists as they desperately lobby for votes--proof that the political process hasn't really changed that much in the last 200 years. Had the movie delved more deeply into the complicated back story of Wilberforce's long struggle it might have delivered a message that modern audiences aren't already sold on.