Apes and dragons and Wahlberg oh my! What a week in pop entertainment it was for me, and some of you as well.
With the release of “War for the Planet of the Apes”, the beginning of the 7th season of “Game of Thrones” and a summer concert by NKOTB and Paula Abdul I had quite the festive week. My pop week began in Charlotte, NC at the Spectrum Center with entertainment provided by NKOTB (New Kids on the Block for the clueless), Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men. The show opened with a rousing performance by Boyz II Men who sang all their hits including “End of the Road” and “Motownphilly”. The group also covered a Lenny Kravitz song and did an awesome job. Former “American Idol” judge and 80’s star Abdul next took the stage and wowed the crowd with many of her hits including “Cold Hearted” and “Opposites Attract”. While she had dancers on stage with her, she still moved all over the stage like a 25 year-old instead of a 55 year-old. Her set was fun and crowd pleasing. The former L.A. Laker cheerleader was the consummate professional. After Paula, the main attraction, NKOTB hit the stage running and were prepared to give the audience their moneys worth. It’s hard to believe their first album was released in 1986 (!). Regardless if you love them or detest them, this group knows how to put on a show. Their performance must have been nearly two hours (I lost track), and they performed hits both old and new. They even had a special segment featuring a medley of their very early hits. The boys really work the crowd, both from stage and IN the crowd, and they always have the fun with their “quick change cam” that shows them backstage. If you ever have the chance to see NKOTB, do so, as Donnie Wahlberg and her crew are still “Hangin’ Tough.”
From the concert, I moved on to the premier of “War for the Planet of the Apes”, to see the sequel to the 2011 and 2014 “Apes” films. The film is directed by Matt Reeves, who will be directing the next Batman film, so I was really playing close attention to see how the director may handle the Caped Crusader. As fans know, the series was rebooted (Hollywood’s favorite pastime) in 2011 after a 2001 Tim Burton directed effort, with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Said film introduced us to Caesar, a chimp who inherited his mother’s intelligence after she had been given a viral-based drug in an effort to find a cure for Alzheimers. After a test ape infects a human, a virus is spread among humans and nearly decimates humanity, leading to a battle between man and ape for domination of the Earth. The new film features the ultimate battle between man and ape, and Caesar proves to be quite the hero in the story. In the new film, while one might feel bad for humanity, you will tend to side with the apes, and their “adopted” human girl Nova (Amiah Miller). The film is filled with action and excitement, and in my opinion is the best of the trilogy. If you don’t get a bit misty eyed at the conclusion of the film, I would be shocked. After his two ventures with the Apes series, I can’t wait to see what director Reeves does with Batman.
The fun week concluded with the return of “Game of Thrones” now entering its 7th, and next to last season on HBO. The series has featured several “houses” battling to take the Iron Throne and rule in the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos. Over the previous seasons fans have witnessed shocking deaths, betrayals, resurrection, plenty of wolves, crows and dragons, along with battles galore. Fan favorites include the popular character Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilla Clarke), the mother of dragons. The latest season sure kicked off with a bang, and left fans longing for a showdown between Daenerys and the current occupant of the Iron Throne Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). The battle between the two determined women will no doubt be one of the shows best ever moments. While the new season is only 7 episodes long, some of them will have the longest running time the show has ever produced. Oh, and the dragons have grown to the size of 747’s. I for one, am waiting for the first ever meeting between the aforementioned characters Jon and Daenerys. When the show is playing, keep the kids away. I must say my week of pop entertainment was very exciting, with NKOTB, “War for the Planet of the Apes”, and “Game of Thrones” all deserving an “A” rating. Until next week, get out there, or stay in, and enjoy some summer pop entertainment, I know I will.