Selasa, 29 April 2014

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

'Atlantis' is a bit on the 'meh' side but watchable nonetheless

Posted: 29 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Review: New TV series Atlantis resurfaces with a modern twist to ancient characters.

A couple of months ago, Diva Universal ran a series of promotional ads depicting various women gushing over "Jason". According to these women, Jason is ridiculously good-looking, has perfect hair, and a British accent. 

To add a little sense of anticipation, these promos didn't show you what Jason looks like – which annoyed me.

Then, Atlantis premiered early this month and viewers finally got to see the mystery man (he's nothing like how he was described).

Played by Jack Donnelly, Jason is a modern-day lad who ends up in the city of Atlantis. Confused and bewildered by the knowledge that Atlantis is a fictional island that has sunk to the bottom of the ocean, Jason has a little bit of adjusting to do. 

Thankfully, newfound friends Pythagoras (Robert Emms) and Hercules (Mark Addy) are there to get him sorted out.

Jason then meets the Oracle (Juliet Stevenson) and finds out that it was destiny that brought him to Atlantis. However, the Oracle can't possibly tell Jason everything she knows.

Later when Jason leaves the Oracle, viewers learn that the former withheld information in order to protect Jason's life.

While viewers may not get to know so much about Jason yet, what we do know is the young lad is indeed a noble man.

A tradition in Atlantis requires seven commoners to be sacrificed to the Minotaur to appease the god Poseidon; Jason volunteers to be one. On his way to the Minotaur's lair, Pythagoras tells him that he doesn't have to do it. Then, Jason delivers one of the best reasons to tune in to the show, a hilarious one-liner.

"Pythagoras, your theory about the triangle is going to make millions of children bored ... that is your destiny and this is mine."

Just like that, he boldly walks away and Pythagoras looks on in confusion.

The sarcastic Jason also takes a jibe at Hercules. In one episode, Hercules chases a panic-stricken woman through the woods with the intention of helping her. He explains to his friends that the woman just kept on running and screaming.

"She was clearly terrified," says Hercules.

A nonchalant Jason says: "Not surprised if you were the one chasing her through the woods".

You see, Hercules in this series is not as mighty or brave as Greek mythology depicts him to be. When he actually does something noble, he complains about the consequences and vows to never do it again. Hercules describes himself best: "I'm not fat, I'm big-boned!".

Inspired by Greek mythology, Atlantis introduces us to more famous characters we have read in books. In the second episode, Jason rescues a woman from being taken by a fanatical cult.

Later, she (Jemima Rooper) introduced herself as Medusa and Jason wonders why that name sounds familiar. Viewers with Greek mythology knowledge will know Medusa as the monster with venomous snakes for hair. Medusa is still in her human form, but that might change in later episodes.

Some aspects in the show could use a little bit of improvement, though. For example, the special effects. The Minotaur looks comical next to a chubby Hercules. Scenes depicting Jason jumping over a raging bull looked like it was filmed in the 1970s. 

I'm now worried about Medusa's transformation.

Even with all those flaws, Atlantis is watchable; there are moments of danger and intrigue, but its characters help to lighten up the mood.

> Catch Atlantis every Sunday at 7pm on Diva Universal (Astro Ch 702). E-mail your comments to

Bearded Austrian drag queen determined to shine on Eurovision

Posted: 27 Apr 2014 08:50 PM PDT

Strutting her stuff in heels on stage, the singer shrugs off criticism from countries like Russia, Belarus and Armenia.

Drag queen Conchita Wurst will take to the European stage as Austria's contender for Eurovision Song Contest, the song contest that pits nation versus nation and launched the global careers of ABBA and Celine Dion, Wurst's idol.

Sporting high heels, butterfly eyelashes and a full beard, Wurst – real name Tom Neuwirth – is an unlikely contestant for conservative Austria, which has triumphed just once before, in 1966, with Udo Juergens' gentle chanson Merci, Cherie.

The annual Eurovision Song Contest, which has a huge gay following, could be the perfect platform for the singer to launch an international career. Israeli transgender singer Dana International won the contest in 1998 with Diva.

But her entry has highlighted Europe's geographical divide on attitudes to homosexuality. Unlikely to raise much controversy in the West, her appearance has prompted criticism by some in the East where anti-gay rhetoric remains more common.

Conchita Wurst will be representing Austria with the original song Rise Like A Phoenix at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest in May. -- EPA/Sander Koning 

Online petitions have been started in Belarus, Armenia and Russia – whose government passed a law last year banning "gay propaganda" among minors – to have Wurst removed or edited out of broadcasts in their countries.

Armenian Eurovision contender Aram MP3, a 30-year-old man whose real name is Aram Sargsyan, said Wurst's way of life was "not natural" and she should decide to be a woman or a man.

Wurst shot back: "I told him I don't want to be a woman. I am just a working queen and a very lazy boy at home." Aram MP3 has since apologised, saying his comments were intended as a joke.

Wurst's song entry Rise Like A Phoenix, which bookmakers say is in the top 10 favourites to win, is a power ballad that the singer sees as a defiant metaphor for her journey from a rural boyhood to her budding career as a bearded drag queen.

"The beard is a statement to say that you can achieve anything, no matter who you are or how you look," she told Reuters in an interview.

Wurst says the Austrian mountains were a perfect childhood environment for a boy, but things became more difficult. "Being a teenager, a gay teenager, in such a small village is not that much fun. I am part of the gay community and most gays have a similar story to mine," said Wurst, now 25.

Neuwirth moved to Graz at the age of 14 to study fashion design and created the persona of Conchita Wurst at an Austrian talent competition in 2011.

Eurovision, one of the world's longest-running television programmes, was started in the 1950s to help foster a spirit of unity after World War II. It has expanded from an original seven countries to 37 this year, many from outside Europe.

Despite its peaceful intentions, voting is often political and points are now awarded half by professional judges and half by the public via phone and SMS. — Reuters


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