Blitz

Reviews

Latest, greatest & what's on

Blitz is the cream cheese for your bagel, the best friend's advice on what to text back, the compendium of everything you need to know about student life at UNSW. 

Blitz is home to lit content from student producers at UNSW whose major aim is to keep you in the know. We're here for everything from 'What's On' to serious contemplations of what to do with your life and career (especially your growing Stranger Things meme-bank). We exist online on the Blitz website, in video and on the airwaves on your phone/ laptop/ on the bus and all over campus. 

Movie Reviews

Book Reviews

TV Reviews

Music Reviews

Justice League

BY Jaida Walker

Boy, oh boy. Where to begin.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Sydney premiere of DC’s latest film Justice League. Of course if you know anything about the Justice League you’ll know what the film is about, but for those of you who live under the rock; here’s a quick recap.

The film is set after the death of Superman and follows Batman (Ben Affleck) and his quest to round up a group of people with special powers to save the world. The said group of people within the film includes everyone’s favourite, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).

I’m gonna be straight up and admit that I’m not a big fan of DC. I’m a Marvel gal through and through. And while I loved the recent Wonder Woman film, Justice League was not enough to convince me to swap sides.

It was decent at best. Good, but not great.

The film featured good dialogue, usually from The Flash, for whom Ezra Miller was the perfect pick. And occasionally Batman himself had a few good one liners. But that was pretty much it.

The fight scenes were decent. The character development also decent. And the film overall, yep you guessed it – decent.

There was a particular plot line within the film that did quite annoy me but for the sake of being spoiler free, I won’t go into too much detail. If you’ve seen the film, the plot line I’m talking about is the last person who is added into the league. Someone who was forced into it by a wake up call, if you catch my drift.

Another part of the film that really ground my gears was the severe under development of Cyborg as a character. In a film where two of the main characters (Batman and Wonder Woman) have already been well established within the DC universe, you would think that would give plenty of screen time for The Flash and Cyborg to really settle in. For audiences to get to to know them a bit more, if you will. And while I believe that was executed successfully for The Flash, I cannot say the same for Cyborg. His whole backstory and plot lines seemed severely under represented which was a shame because he has a lot of potential.

All in all, I felt a little bit let down by Justice League. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad film, not at all. But it had so much drive, so much hype, so much potential. And I can’t help but feel that it just went nowhere and resulted in an hour and a half of backstory, with a quick half hour fight scene to end. After seeing the Wonder Woman film I really got excited for DC – I thought that maybe this was DC regaining what it seems to have lost. But alas, maybe that was just wishful thinking.

Drake Boy Meets World Tour

BY Jaida Walker

Buying tickets to see Drake was a very last minute decision. 

Not because I didn’t want to see the amazingly talented (and good looking) Canadian live, but because I was poor and general admission tickets were over $200.

But alas, after being pressured by my friends, tickets were ours within one minute of them being released.

I’m not gonna lie I was starting to doubt my decision when Drake was about half an hour late. I’m a grandma and I like to be in bed by 10pm, so when Drake wasn’t on the stage at 9pm as scheduled I realised that it was going to be a late night and I could already feel my old bones start to ache.

And then it happened. The lights went out. Smoke covered the stage. And we waited. And waited. It felt like forever before Drake emerged from the stage and graced us with his presences. And that’s when I knew buying tickets to see this show was one of the best decisions I’ve made all year.

The night began with a fast paced medley of some of Drake’s greatest hits. The energy that man carried, running from one end of he stage to the other, was insane. Now that doesn’t sound like any mean feat, but this stage was enormous. And for him to run from one end to the other, without losing breath and still being able to sing well, was honestly impressive.

Aesthetically, this show was one of the greatest I’ve ever been to. The production of the whole thing was amazing. Within the first five minutes of the show, audiences were given not only a smoke machine and Drake emerging from the stage floor, but also a light show and pyrotechnics. Within five minutes! Five! Usually artists leave the pyrotechnics until the encore, going out with a last hurrah. But not Drake. He was ready to give people what they wanted, and he delivered.

I’m gonna be honest and admit that I don’t remember the full set list. So, if you’re reading this to find out if your favourite song was played, I’m sorry to disappoint. With a good mix of old stuff and new stuff, I was mildly disappointed that Marvin’s Room wasn’t played. Let’s be honest, that song is a goddamn tune.

I’ve been to a few gigs in my time but I’ve never seen an artist, or band, love their crowd as much as Drake did. Taking a fifteen minute break from singing, Drake took the time to personally point out people in the crowd and thank them for being at his concert. They weren’t famous people either, or influencers, or anyone particularly special. He took the time to talk to us normal plebeians and thank us. As if we had done what he had been doing for the past hour or so.

If I got anything from the night, it was a realisation of how much respect I have for Drake. He is nothing short of humble and as I”m sure I don’t need to convince you, he has an amazing voice. 10/10 definitely one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.

If you’re looking for a straightforward, sterile, bubble-gum pop album masquerading as indie, you’ve come to the wrong place.

It doesn’t take a genius to hear the depth in Wild Honey’s signature sound. While the Australian local-music scene has offered up some convincingly retro, yet nevertheless diluted, attempts at replicating bygone eras in pop history, this band have risen above the stale mimicry of their peers. In Your Head is a refreshingly genuine fusion of 1960’s surf- and folk-rock genres, with moody, synth-driven, 1970’s space-rock swirls that would make Jeff Lynne proud.

The album’s opener, ‘Break Away’, is a driving call-to-arms – where distorted guitar solos and a driving bass line meet soothing, beautifully harmonised vocal melodies. ‘Messed Up’ follows on, fusing undeniable country-twang with soaring space-rock synths. These two tracks alone offer a taste of the fluid, genre-bending wave of the laid-back, sun-drenched indie-rock that constitutes the rest of the album. If by track three you’re beginning to tire of the unrelenting, creamy synth swells and multilayered vocals, ‘Guardian’ (track four) is a sparser, brilliantly structured campfire-worthy track. While Wild Honey’s rhythm section triumphs as a constant, driving unit, this track demonstrates the power of the bass guitar alone as a subtle, yet unifying layer.

In Your Head is an album that celebrates the band’s skillful fusion of classic-rock genres, in a way that makes them almost impossible to label accurately. However, some would argue that they often dwell too heavily on replicating and reinventing their influences, without integrating their own unique, nuanced sound. The result of this is occasional patches of homogeneity – an unfortunate let-down in such a remarkably creative album. This is, however, relieved in later tracks, such as the album closers ‘What You Get’, and ‘Supermarket’, that re-establish the band’s sparkling, indie-rock edge. Overall, it is a wonderfully nostalgic throwback to an era where music demonstrated actual complexity. Wild Honey should be praised for their unique interpolation of classic space- and surf-rock genres with a more modern sound, even if that fusion requires greater development at times.

Wild Honey’s album, In Your Head, is out now.

Mental illness is an area some entertainers shy away from.

This is not the case with Crackers, the latest production by the Bite Production Theatre collective. This black comedy takes an unflinching look at Bipolar disorder, written by Georgina Adamson, a theatre-maker who was recently diagnosed.

Five acquaintances are trapped in a room for sixty minutes. In those sixty minutes, secrets are revealed and politeness turns to outright aggression as bubbling tensions are brought to the surface. This common dramatic structure, where strangers are forced to bond in a painfully intimate environment, is a common trope in popular culture. 12 Angry Men, The Breakfast Club, and The Hateful Eight are just a few examples.

In this play, the five strangers (Madelaine Osborn, Jessica Murphy, Reuben Thompson, Jesse Alston and Tom Matthews) are members of a support group for young people with Bipolar disorder, and must attend one final meeting to ‘celebrate’ graduating the course.

There’s Snake, an artist who likes impromptu poetry readings and lamenting how alone he is. Next is Jessica, a feisty Uni student who takes out her emotional trauma on those around her. Then there’s the newly diagnosed Mackenzie, who’s struggling to cope, and her maybe-boyfriend who recently attempted suicide. The characters are all distinctly drawn, however some verge on caricatures to amp up the comedy. This is particularly evident in the Jesus-loving support group leader, who provides much of the show’s laughs through his attempts to cure mental illness with inspirational flyers.

The show is an unflinching look at mental illness and its many impacts on individuals’ social, work and academic life. Adamson’s script keeps you engaged through flashbacks which recreate moments where Bipolar disorder negatively impacted these character’s lives. These moments- like a failed job interview and public humiliation when buying medication- make us understand and empathise with the characters.

The Sydney Fringe Festival is full of fantastic theatre performances and this is one of them. At only $20 a ticket, get down to the Old 505 Theatre in Newtown and support local Australian theatre

My Cousin Rachel

BY Annie Zhai

Are you a fan of the Regency period? Do you believe somebody is out to kill you and take all of your money?

If you answered yes, My Cousin Rachel is the film for you.

The film is set in the 1800’s, on the cusp of women’s rising independence. The story begins when Phillip Ashley (Sam Claflin) receives word that his cousin Ambrose has died of a ‘brain tumour’ and that his wife Rachel (Rachel Weisz) is coming to town. Phillip suspects that Rachel has played a role in Ambrose’s death and decides to find out the truth.

The cinematography of the film is beautiful and Weisz’s performance is alluring. Her portrayal of the character brings an air of mystery to the film, in spite of the simplistic plot.

Before watching, the trailer, the title and the presence of Iain Glen in the movie had me worried. The title gave me the impression that Rachel and Phillip’s relationship was going to be incestuous. However fear not, this isn’t Game of Thrones. Although Phillip refers to Rachel as his cousin, Rachel is actually the widow of Phillip’s cousin and not a blood relative.

Phillip’s level of saltiness when he meets Rachel is hilarious. However, the romance that transpires between them is a little odd. It progresses very fast considering that Phillip suspects Rachel of having killed his cousin. His naivety and ability to fall for Rachel so quickly will leave you shaking your head at the screen.

The pace of the film feels a little slow at times. The formal exchanges, the imposed norms of social conduct and subjugation of women in a patriarchal society reminded me of Pride and Prejudice. It was interesting to see how women were seeking emancipation in that era. However, it created an imbalance with the mystery at hand which made the film seem longer than it actually was.

Overall, the plot seemed rushed and the pace could have been faster, but the cinematography and intriguing acting provided good distractions.

If you are interested in checking out My Cousin Rachel, it is still in cinemas so you better hurry up.

Valerian

BY Gwen Buckland-Watts

The Fifth Element is one of my favorite films of all time.

So, it’s no surprise that I was excited to see Valerian, not only because of the cool visuals shown in the trailer but also because of the creativity of the concept of a city made up of a thousand planets.

However, these two elements were basically the only two things that I enjoyed about the film. Yes, it was very pretty – Wes Anderson on steroids is a phrase that seems fitting. Yes, there were some cool interesting concepts here and there – like the online market in the middle of a desert. Yes, Rihanna playing a shape-shifting prostitute was very entertaining. But sometimes a film needs more than pretty colours, people and sci fi concepts. For example – an acting class or two would not have gone awry for either of the leads.

The plot of the film was jarring and off-putting – whenever the two leads weren’t shooting at animated villains, they seemed to communicate entirely in cliches. For example, within the first five minutes of the film, viewers will witness the lovely “My heart will belong to you and no-one else.” to which Laureline responds “You’re scared of commitment.”

The film itself seems scared of commitment – jumping from scene to scene without allowing the viewer enough time to understand the plot, get to know the characters or attempt to invest at all in their Lifeline-like attempt at romance.

The Other Side of the World

BY Stephanie Qiu

When I first saw the cover of this novel by Stephanie Bishop, I immediately thought of fairy floss. 

Look at those floating clouds surrounded by shades of pink and blue, and the upside-down silhouette of two running kids that resemble innocence and sweetness. It was hard not to relate the cover to an imaginary heartwarming plot with animated characters.

The story unfolds as our protagonist, Charlotte, fumbles her way home from the hospital, only to discover that she is three months pregnant with her and Henry’s second child. She starts to have difficulties dealing with life as a mother and wife. Henry, having hated the English weather, decides it is best for them to emigrate to the other side of the world. Charlotte is totally against the idea but during a weak moment, gives in. As they arrive in Perth, the imaginary warmth of Australian summer turns out to be sand, heat and interminable travel queues.

Bishop’s writing is truly distinct something that her use of good old-fashioned character names contributes to. Several journals and publishers describe it as ‘poetic’, ‘thoughtful’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘atmospheric’. Between each line, you can feel the words breathe in and out:

“The land flat at first, all horizon, while the wind buffets, pushing them into the day, then the light breaking as they reach the top of the hill. She is closest to the sky then, the blue-grey air cascading down either side of the slope.”

Nonetheless, the story cannot get away with its non-fairy-floss-like blandness. It almost entirely talks about Charlotte’s failure to adapt to the new lifestyle and attempt to keep herself sane. I was hoping to see some character development, but it seems like Charlotte is stagnate in homesickness and depression. She thinks, thinks and thinks, giving Bishop every opportunity to talk about her emotions rather than describe physical action to push the plot further:

“Charlotte doesn’t reply. The pot is broken. It can be fixed. What more is there to say?”

“She remembers living amid this mud and grass and feeling that all the world was held at bay, fields away from her.”

Okay, maybe it’s not too bad yet to understand our character deeply. But the lack of conversation in this book really kills me. You start a page with bulky descriptive paragraphs, and they can go on for ten pages.

All I can say is if you’re a passionate reader, this book is not the best option for you. It is way too tender and tranquil. Before reading I expected to get a sip of tropical juice, but all I got was water. Plain, calm, missing a savoury taste, and perhaps only enjoyed by those who identify with Charlotte with water-like nostalgia.

Boo Seeka

BY Simon Penny

Last week “hip-hop-psych-soul” duo Boo Seeka made their big album debut with the in equal parts soothing and energetic record, Never Too Soon. With various national tours and appearances at premiere festivals such as SXSW, Splendour In The Grass and Groovin’ The Moo under their belt, it was only a matter of time before the demand for more music from the two beat-makers would culminate in a full-length album.

Never Too Soon is in many ways a very safe venture. The Sydney natives have stuck with the same sound that landed them in the nation’s electronic music charts back in 2015 with the release of their first single, ‘Kingdom Leader.’ This is in one sense, gratifying as it’s very much the Boo Seeka we all know and love. However, the album disappointingly takes too few risks. Tracks such as ‘Calling Out’ and ‘You and Me’ depart from the traditional sound and add a little diversity to the record but ultimately there is too few tracks that deliver on this. Regardless, fans of prior work will be right at home here with soothing vocals taking centre stage supported by smooth instrumentals. The opening track, ‘Does This Last,’ is a phenomenal build up that sets the tone for what is to come for the following 10 tracks. ‘Turn Up Your Light’ is also a definite standout with its mellow, relaxing sound. The album very much meshes together forming a seemingly individual 38-minute piece rather than a compilation or amalgamation of musical ideas. Many of the songs are incredibly similar and ultimately makes it difficult to highlight standouts of the release.

Overall, Never Too Soon is a consistent body of work and does the job of cementing the sound that typifies that of prior releases. The uniformity of sound definitely provides some continuity of theme and tone which is rarely a bad thing. This is a definite recommendation to almost anyone as what is here is definitely hard not to like. Although, those looking for a demonstration of Boo Seeka’s versatility and production prowess will not find it on this record.

Rating: 7/10

The Last 5 Years

BY Grace Miner

‘The Last 5 Years’ is a story about two people in love, but it is so much more than just a love story. 

As director of the UNSW Musical Theatre Society (MTS) show Kate Cameron explained, “it is a rollercoaster of emotions.” From the moment you enter the room you feel like a part of the show; you go through the highs and lows and relate to the situation perhaps more than you might like.

Upon entering the theatre you are met with a very intimate space. It is dimly lit yet has a warmth to it that hints at romance and excitement. The band tucked away to the side of the stage blends in with their black backdrop, but once they begin to play there is no hiding their presence. They fill the room; creating the illusion you are sitting in a concert hall and take you on a journey of emotions.

Featuring just two characters and told in a non-traditional way, this show is unique. But all of its quirks make it that much more powerful. The show follows Jaime (Jack Dawson) and Cathy (Lily Stokes) who’s relationship is struggling to survive as each person grows and changes over the years, and as they struggle to deal with each others successes and failures. It is the brutal reality of being young and in love that is not always spoken about.