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<p>Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney are two of the young leads in the new JJ&nbsp;Abrams film 'Super 8'</p>

Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney are two of the young leads in the new JJ Abrams film 'Super 8'

Credit: Paramount

Review: 'Super 8' offers up charming character piece with soft alien story

As a mystery, it fizzles, but as a piece about young friendship, it flies

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the trailers for the new JJ Abrams film "Super 8" that there is a heavy sense of nostalgia at the heart of the movie, but that's not all there is to it.  While I may not be on the "loves it unreservedly" end of things, I think "Super 8" has much to recommend it, and it is a lovely next step for Abrams as a filmmaker.

"Super 8" tells the story of a group of young friends who are making a zombie film together in the late '70s when they accidentally capture a terrifying train accident on film.  During the accident, something escapes from the train and begins to wreak havoc on their small town, and the kids find themselves at ground zero for an incident that changes their perception of the world around them.  That's the plot, and it's fairly straightforward.  There's no big giant twist that is being protected by the ad campaign, but that's not the sort of film it is.  I think people get wound up by how close Abrams plays his cards, and they build a film like this or "Cloverfield" up to be something it's not before they ever see it.

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<p>Curtis Grimes and Emily Valentine of 'The Voice'</p>
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Curtis Grimes and Emily Valentine of 'The Voice'

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' - The Battles, Part 4

Christina, Cee-Lo, Blake and Adam stage their final Battles

Welcome to the first episode of "The Voice" airing outside of the 2010-2011 TV Season and, thus, the first episode of "The Voice" airing without heaps of direct competition from ABC and CBS. NBC is so confident in the talent show's long-term viability that the network announced earlier today that "The Voice" will get the coveted slot after the Super Bowl next spring.

But for tonight, the only business at hand is ending the rather prolonged process of cutting the field from 32 down to 16 competitors. Only four more Battles to go, so let's get down to business... 

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<p>Leonardo DiCaprio, seen here at January's Santa Barbara Film&nbsp;Festival, could be in line for a major villain role in Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'... or maybe not.</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio, seen here at January's Santa Barbara Film Festival, could be in line for a major villain role in Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'... or maybe not.

Credit: AP Photo/Phil Klein

Rumors about 'Django Unchained' casting include Idris Elba and Leonardo DiCaprio

Is Twitter becoming a prime source of casting rumors?

This is how things work on the Internet these days.

Rumor travels at light speed, and assumption becomes fact before anyone stops to consider what they're printing.  I've certainly made my share of mistakes, but I've only really done so when I took a short-cut or when I took someone else's word for something without doing my own legwork.  I don't count moments where I've reported on a story in progress only to see things change later, because that's one of the things you have to accept doing this job.  I'm talking about moments where I printed a rumor that simply wasn't founded in fact, and I think I've gotten much, much better about that over time.

The more anticipation there is for a film, the faster a rumor will travel, and by that standard, people must really be looking forward to Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," because two distinct rumors, both fueled by Twitter, have lit up the Internet over the last few days.  In both cases, I find the suggestions provocative and exciting, but anyone reporting either of these as fact right now is reaching.

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<p>Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' album cover</p>
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Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' album cover

Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' handily surpasses the million mark

Amazon promotion pushes the set to 1.1 million in first week

She did it with room to spare.  The official Nielsen SoundScan numbers are in and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” moved 1,108,000 copies in its first week, according to Billboard.

The tally makes it the best opening frame for an album since 50 Cent’s 2005 set “The Massacre,” sold 1.14 million in its first week.  Only 17 albums have accomplished the feat in the 20 years that SoundScan has been keeping count; the last to do so was Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now,” which squeaked by last fall with 1,006,000 copies.

As we’ve previously reported, Lady Gaga got a lot of help from Amazon, which offered a download of the entire album for 99 cents last Monday and Thursday. In fact, the Amazon sales are what moved the needle past into seven figures, as Billboard estimates that the online retailers shifted 440,000 copies of the album (at a loss of $3.2 million since it’s believed that Amazon paid $8 wholesale per album). Total digital sales were 662,000, which sets a record for the highest number in one week.

It seems impossible, but “Born This Way” is Lady Gaga’s first No. 1. “The Fame” topped out at No. 2, “The Fame Monster” at No. 5 and “The Remix” album at No. 6.

It goes without (but we’ll do it anyway) saying that when the Billboard 200 chart is released on Wednesday, Lady Gaga will push Adele’s “21” out of the top spot. "21" is slated to fall to No. 3 behind "Born This Way" and Brad Paisley's "This Is Country Music."

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<p>Eddie Vedder's &quot;Ukulele Songs&quot; </p>

Eddie Vedder's "Ukulele Songs"

Album Review: Eddie Vedder's 'Ukulele Songs'

Pearl Jam leader takes a solo turn with a ukulele by his side

Eddie Vedder recently joked to a New York Times reporter that his mission on “Ukulele Songs”  was “Can I make this happy little instrument as depressed as I am?”

The answer is no. No matter how hard he strums or picks on his new solo album, he can’t take the inherent joy out of the four-stringed instrument.

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<p>&quot;Crisis on Infinite Earths&quot; gave DC&nbsp;a chance to start its stories from scratch, but the company didn't take full advantage of it.</p>

"Crisis on Infinite Earths" gave DC a chance to start its stories from scratch, but the company didn't take full advantage of it.

Credit: DC Comics

Is the DC Comics reboot for real or another half-measure?

More than 25 years after the Crisis, will the DC Universe really get to start over?

I know that 99% of what I write about is TV-related, but every now and then other elements of my nerditry have to take over the blog for a bit. Today's announcement that DC Comics is going to reboot its entire line of superhero titles to #1 issues, with younger versions of the characters and many revamped costumes designed by Jim Lee, is one of those times.

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<p>Tyler Posey of 'Teen Wolf'</p>
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Tyler Posey of 'Teen Wolf'

Credit: MTV

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 76

Dan and Alan talk 'Teen Wolf,' 'Game of Thrones,' 'The Killing' and make an announcement

The

 
Happy Tuesday, Boys and Girls. After taking Memorial Day off, it's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
On this week's podcast, we've got reviews for TNT's "Franklin & Bash" and MTV's "Teen Wolf." We also check in on "Men of a Certain Age," "The Killing" and "Game of Thrones." We also answered some Listener Mail and, at the very end of the podcast, we reveal the show that's going to be this summer's Firewall & Iceberg podcast re-view. Whee!
 
Here's the breakdown:
"Teen Wolf" -- 01:50 - 14:15
"Franklin & Bash" -- 14:20 - 21:30
"Men of a Certain Age" -- 21:30 - 28:05
Listener Mail: Network Branding -- 28:20 - 34:45
Listener Mail: Shows with many finales -- 34:50 - 41:00
Listener Mail: Same actors playing multiple roles on shows -- 41:00 - 44:45
"Game of Thrones" -- 45:20 - 55:10
"The Killing" -- 55:20 - 01:05:25
The Grand Summer-Rewatch Announcement -- 01:05:30 - 01:09:00

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.]

 
And here's the podcast...

 

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 76: 'Franklin & Bash,' 'Teen Wolf' and more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 76: 'Franklin & Bash,' 'Teen Wolf' and more

Alan and Dan also announce their summer DVD rewind and check in on 'Game of Thrones,' 'The Killing' and 'Men of a Certain Age'

The

Time for the first Firewall & Iceberg Podcast of the summer season of 2011, which means Dan and I review a few new shows, a returning one, and announce which show will be following "Undeclared" as this year's summer DVD/Netflix rewind on the podcast. The run-down:

"Teen Wolf" -- 01:50 - 14:15
"Franklin & Bash" -- 14:20 - 21:30
"Men of a Certain Age" -- 21:30 - 28:05
Listener Mail: Network Branding -- 28:20 - 34:45
Listener Mail: Shows with many finales -- 34:50 - 41:00
Listener Mail: Same actors playing multiple roles on shows -- 41:00 - 44:45
"Game of Thrones" -- 45:20 - 55:10
"The Killing" -- 55:20 - 01:05:25
The Grand Summer-Rewatch Announcement -- 01:05:30 - 01:09:00
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at sepinwall@hitfix.com and/or dan@hitfix.com if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
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<p>Michael Fassbender does exceptional work as Erik, aka Magneto, in 'X-Men:&nbsp;First Class'</p>

Michael Fassbender does exceptional work as Erik, aka Magneto, in 'X-Men: First Class'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: 'X-Men: First Class' redefines the most important superhero franchise with style

A strong emphasis on character and content marks a new beginning

Because I've already offered up my first impressions of "X-Men: First Class," the only way to write a proper review of it is to actually dig into the text of the film.  That could mean spoilers.  If you want the short version of my thoughts on the film, you can read that here, and you can walk into the movie fairly fresh.  If you're reading this review, you want a real discussion about this smart and stylish redefinition of the franchise that kicked off the modern superhero movie.

Happy to oblige.

"X-Men" in 2000 was a very important moment for the genre.  It introduced some characters and imagery that were stranger and more outrageous than anything in "Superman" or "Batman" or any earlier comic-to-movie transition.  Cyclops.  Storm.  Wolverine.  Jean Grey.  Cerebro.  Magneto.  Mystique.  And while the film gets some things right and some things wrong, it's got a great energy to it.  And Bryan Singer in '99 was just the right choice.  A strange choice at first.  But he made an authentic movie about being an outsider, told through a genre prism.  It felt like, underneath all the swagger and special effects, something real was happening.  Something that mattered.  "X-Men" worked just well enough.  They short-changed that first film out of fear.  The studio really struggled with the producers on that first film, the sort of tension on a movie that, in this case, paid off with something that did not feel cookie-cutter, something that didn't feel like a safe bet.  They got outrageously lucky with the casting of Hugh Jackman, and vice-versa.  He made the character click with audiences, and once they loved Wolverine, they were onboard for the rest of the ride.

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<p>Cee Lo Green during his now infamous performance at the 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.</p>

Cee Lo Green during his now infamous performance at the 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Credit: AP Photo

Breaking News: Coachella expands to two weekends

Double the fun at the Indio, Calif. music festival starting in 2012

Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, the multi-artist rock event that kicks off the yearly festival season, will expand to two weekends, according to Paul Tollett, head of Goldenvoice, the AEG-own promoter that produces the April fest.

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Coldplay reveals new song, 'Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,' on Friday

Coldplay reveals new song, 'Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,' on Friday

When will the Brian Eno-produced album follow?

It’s been a long wait and we’ve gotten a few teasers, but now Coldplay is finally ready to give us our first real taste of the British band’s long overdue fifth studio album. By the time we wake up on Friday morning,  first single,“Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” will be available for streaming on www.coldplay.com.

Photobucket

Coldplay drummer Will Champion sent out this email missive to fans today.

“Dear friends,

We're about to play a bunch of summer festivals so it's as good a time as any to put out a new song.

'Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall' will be available digitally on Friday 3rd June at 12pm (BST), except in the UK where it'll come out on the stroke of midnight between Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June.

We'll also stream it on Coldplay.com on Friday and give it a run out at Rock Im Park.

Love, Will”


The band will spend the summer exclusively headlining festivals around the world starting with Nuremberg’s Rock im Park in Germany on June 3.   The only U.S. date is Chicago’s Lollapalooza, which runs Aug. 5-7.

Still no word on when the Brian Eno-produced album, Coldplay’s follow-up to 2008’s “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends” will surface, but odds are on this fall.

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<p>Death Cab For Cutie</p>

Death Cab For Cutie

Death Cab, My Morning Jacket, DMB, Eddie Vedder lead new May 31 releases

Kate Bush and NKOTB's Jordan Knight also return

It’s a rock bonanza this week with new releases from Death Cab for Cutie, My Morning Jacket, Flogging Molly, Eddie Vedder and Dave Matthews Band on May 31. Then, of course, New Kids on the Block’s Jordan Knight is sure to make all the ladies scream. Are any of the titles likely to dislodge Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” from the No. 1 spot? No, but they should log some strong numbers.

Kate Bush, “Director’s Cut” (Fish People/EMI): British singing icon revamps 11 songs from 1989’s  “The Sensual World” and 1993’s “The Red Shoes" on this new effort.

Death Cab for Cutie, “Codes and Keys” (Atlantic): Fronted by alterna-hit “You Are A Tourist,” “Codes and Keys” is the Bellingham, Wash.- quartet’s seventh studio album and is filled with gentle, low-key, melodic rock.


Flogging Molly, “Speed of Darkness” (SideOne Dummy): College faves and Celtic punk rockers recorded their latest in a church near Asheville, N.C. with producer Ryan Hewillt, best known for his work with Avett Bros. and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Jordan Knight, “Unfinished” (JK Music/Mass Appeal): Two weeks after New Kids on the Block release their album with bandmates Backstreet Boys, NKOTB’s Knight goes it alone with his first solo album since 2006’s “Love Songs.” Could someone explain to me how he can still be a new kid when he’s 41?

Dave Matthews Band, “Live At Wrigley Field” (Bama Rags/RCA): Hardcore fans will have, of course, taped the show, but for the rest of us, here’s a chance to grab our own copy of the group’s 2010 Chi-Town show.

My Morning Jacket, “Circuital” (ATO):
Louisville alt-rockers latest was recorded in their hometown and Nashville with lead singer Jim James and Tucker Martine (R.E.M., the Decemberists) at the help. From the quietly building title track to the retro, funky “Holdin’ On to Black Metal,” MMJ mixes it up on its first release since 2008’s “Evil Urges.”  Fans won’t want to miss the live YouTube stream of the band’s 5/31 concert directed by Todd Haynes.

The Vaccines, “What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?” (Columbia): British rockers attempt to dominate on this side of the Atlantic following the album’s No. 4 debut in the U.K. Catch them on tour with the Arctic Monkeys this summer.

Eddie Vedder, “Ukulele Songs” (Monkey Wrench): Pearl Jam frontman’s solo album salutes the ukulele with this album of originals and covers. Also out on May 31, “Water on the Road: Eddie Vedder Live,” from Aug. 16-17, 2008 solo shows at Warner Theater, Washington, D.C. 

 

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