Sunday, September 18, 2022

Broadway in Tucson Review: "The Lion King"


Roaring with a majesty worthy of a jungle cat's roar, "The Lion King" is a dazzling experience that touches hearts and ignites imaginations.

Bursting at the scenes with remarkable stagecraft, puppetry and costumes, the show is a mesmerizing display.

To watch "The Lion King" is to be whisked away into the timeless Tanzanian junglescape, with antelopes prancing, giraffes and elephants looming large, birds soaring above and hyenas scurrying about. The stage production ignites the mind's eye in a way the animated and live-action movies can't come close to approaching.

Massive stage set pieces, such as Pride Rock and the Elephant graveyard are used with aplomb, and rhythmic, functional choreography captures the ebb and flow of nature. The classic tunes by Elton John and Tim Rice serves as the unceasing soundtrack, paced with bongo drums and lush orchestrations.

No matter how stunning the visuals may be, the show would falter if it weren't bolstered by astoundingly energetic and empathetic performances. The immensely talented touring production cast breathes vivid life into the impressive shell.

Spencer Plachy and Jordan Pendleton turn in remarkable star-making turns as Young Simba and Young Nala, with Aaron Nelson and Kayla Cyphers ably taking the batons in act two as their grown counterparts.

Standouts include Spencer Plachy chews up scenery as the conniving Scar, Gugwana Diamini cast a spell as the majestic Rafiki and Gerlad Ramsey looms large as Mufasa.

Whisking by at a breakneck pace, "The Lion King" weaves its timeless tale to behold. It's an honor to kneel at its throne.

"The Lion King" plays at Centennial Hall through Sept. 25. Buy tickets here.

Book Report: "Absalom, Absalom!"

Absalom, Absalom!Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The storytelling and writing style carry this book.

William Faulkner details the steadily crushed hopes of Thomas Sutpen as he attempts to make his claim on wealth and prosperity in the Antebellum South.

Ahead of its time socially, the book uses coarse language to describe harrowing subject manner. This is often a tough read.

The experience is well worth it to capture the particular setting and frame of mind of the period, but could be a struggle for those who aren't ready for the subject matter.

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Saturday, September 17, 2022

Phil on Film: "Clerks III"


 For my full review, click here.

Google Pixel 6a Review

Those who are looking for the power and performance of the  Google Pixel 6 Pro but can do without the 6.7-inch screen, the slimmer, sleeker 6.1-inch Google Pixel 6a.

Svelte and slick, the device slides in and out of your pocket or bag with much more ease than the bulkier, braunier 6 Pro. The light weight makes it less taxing on your hands and wrists when held aloft for long sessions.

The amount of power the little device packs is impressive, truly managing to make its bones as a pint-sized edition of Google's top-tier device. And that's at a $450 price point.

Most impressive is the camera system, which shoots video and snaps Magic Erasers-boosted shots with ease and grace. 

A visual dynamo just like its big brother, the camera system shows a remarkable affinity for capturing images, even when movement and dim light attempt to wreak havoc on your artistic vision.

The stereo speakers also punt out some remarkable depth and boom. While listening to music, podcasts or audio books, you won't even need to hook it up to Bluetooth or an auxiliary cable in order to hear some full-throated sound.

Much like the T-Mobile REVVL Pro 5G, the 6A takes full advantage of T-Mobile's blisteringly fast 5G network.

On the downside, the battery life suffers, possibly because of the OS's insistence on multitasking as gamely as the 6 Pro. A dimmer display does what it can to keep your juice level high, but the downside is that some videos are tough to see when you're outdoors in full sunlight.

The lack of wireless charging is also a drawback for some. But taken as a whole, the advantages far outweigh the minor drawbacks, making the Pixel 6a a steal, especially for those who see its tiny yet mighty size as an advantage. 

T-Mobile sent product for review.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

PHIL ON FILM: "Uncoupled"


For my full story, click here.

 

Book Report: "Fire & Blood"

Fire & Blood (A Targaryen History, #1)Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Martin's history book-narrative hybrid occasionally touches on his past greatness, but overall feels like a brain dump of ideas half-formed.

There are gems here, and nothing is dull, but there is an uncharacteristic laziness and reliance on cliches that don't pop up in the mainline "GOT" books.

"Fire & Blood" reads like an outline that Martin would, in a perfect world of unlimited time and ambition, write "A Storm of Ice and Fire"-style saga.

Still, I appreciated the depth and breadth of Martin's vision. There are tons of historical parallels to explore. His political mind is astute, and his romantic mind is wild and borderline perverted. The combination is what ignites his brand.

Those looking for something comparable to his mainline series will be mildly disappointed. But some Martin is better than none. At least he's still writing.

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