2022 set to be bumper year for blockbuster movies

2022 set to be bumper year for blockbuster movies
‘Scream’ (2022). Supplied
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Updated 06 January 2022

2022 set to be bumper year for blockbuster movies

2022 set to be bumper year for blockbuster movies
  • With COVID-delayed productions joining big-name franchise releases, 2022 should be a big year at the box office, as long as cinemas can stay open

DUBAI: As has been the case for the past decade or more, the blockbuster-movie roster for 2022 is dominated by superheroes. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has three films from its fourth phase slated for release as its multiverse becomes ever-more expansive. The most interesting of the three seems to be the one slated to drop first (in May): “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as the titular magical mystic, whose casting of a forbidden spell opened the door to the whole multiverse thing, and allowed an alternate version of himself to turn up in “our” universe — presumably meaning he’ll have to do battle with himself at some point. Sam Raimi, who helmed the Noughties “Spider-Man” trilogy, directs. July will see the return of the Chris Hemsworth as the lead in “Thor: Love and Thunder” — the fourth solo outing for the Norse god. Taika Waititi is back in charge after directing 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” and has assembled a stellar cast including former Batman Christian Bale as supervillain Gorr, Jeff Goldblum as and Oscar-winner Natalie Portman returning as Jane Foster having skipped “Ragnarok.” The “Guardians of the Galaxy” cast (including Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff and Karen Gillan) also feature. Rounding out the MCU 2022 offerings is “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The studio chose not to recast the late Chadwick Boseman’s role of T’Challa (wisely, considering how hard it would be for any actor to step into those shoes) and little has so far been revealed of the plot for this November release — although we know that most of the cast of the original “Black Panther” reprise their roles and that British actress, writer and director Michaela Cole (“I May Destroy You”) is an intriguing addition. 




“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (2022). Supplied

On the other side of the DC/Marvel divide, the DC Extended Universe has four releases set for this year: “Black Adam,” “The Flash,” “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” and “Batgirl.” We’re most excited about the first of those four, which will introduce the great antihero — and nemesis of Shazam (aka Captain Marvel, confusingly) — played by Dwayne Johnson. “The Flash,” due out in November, also seems interesting, with title character Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) traveling back in time to prevent the murder of his mother — and encountering Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton as different versions of Batman on the way (both actors having played the Caped Crusader on screen before). And speaking of Batman, possibly the biggest film of 2022 will be “The Batman” (confusingly not part of the DCEU), due out in March. Directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, promo material so far suggests it may be an even darker take on the Gotham vigilante’s tale than Christopher Nolan’s excellent trilogy starring Christian Bale. The film is set early in Batman’s crime-fighting career and will see him pursuing the serial killer Riddler (played by Paul Dano). Zoe Kravitz plays Selena Kyle/Catwoman, Andy Serkis plays Wayne’s butler and confidante Alfred, and Colin Farrell plays the Penguin, who is not yet the successful criminal he will ultimately become. 




“Avatar 2” (2022). Supplied

Hopes are also high for October’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One),” the first of a two-part sequel to 2018’s brilliant, computer-animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Shameik Moore will once again voice Miles Morales, the teenager from New York who is tasked with becoming the new Spider-Man.

There are some other high-profile animated movies due out this year, including “Minions: The Rise of Gru” — which will reportedly tell the titular wannabe-supervillain’s origin story; and a double-whammy from the legendary Pixar, “Turning Red,” due out in March — in which a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl called Mei changes into a red panda whenever she gets stressed (which — as you’d expect for a young adolescent — is often) — and “Lightyear.” The latter is the a blatant attempt to milk the “Toy Story” cash cow without actually releasing a “Toy Story” movie — it will apparently tell Buzz Lightyear’s fictional origin story (presumably the back story that originally caused Buzz to believe he was a genuine astronaut crime-fighter, rather than a toy) — but it’s Pixar, so we’ll forgive them. 




“Lightyear” (2022). Supplied

As you’d expect, there’s a lot of cash-cow milking going on in Hollywood. 2022 should finally see the release of the COVID-delayed Tom Cruise (now 59, but probably still the planet’s premier action star) vehicles “Mission: Impossible 7” and “Top Gun: Maverick.” The latter, in which Cruise reprises his role as Maverick, still one of the US Navy’s top pilots, but now an instructor at the Top Gun academy) is one of a slew of films that will bring old characters from popular films together with new ones in updated versions (see “The Flash” earlier). These include “Jurassic World Dominion,” in which Sam Neill and Laura Dern play the same characters we last saw back in 2001’s “Jurassic Park III” and will join up with the cast of the “Jurassic World” trilogy; “Halloween Ends” — which will once again see Jamie Lee Curtis, as Laurie, face off against the killer she first faced in 1978, Michael Myers; and “Scream” — the fifth installment in the popular slasher franchise (though billed as a relaunch), which will see Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell and others reprising their characters (after an 11-year gap), alongside a group of new youngsters.




“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” (2022). Supplied

Other franchise extensions that should be worth seeing include “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” which takes place in the 1930s, in the lead up to World War II, and continues the adventures (set in the “Harry Potter” Wizarding World, before Harry’s time) of Eddie Redmayne’s ‘magizoologist’ Newt Scamander, as he assists the young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) in his battle against the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen replacing Johnny Depp), and the small matter of the sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time, when James Cameron’s “Avatar 2” comes out in December. Cameron has an impressive ensemble lined up for the follow up to his epic 2009 sci-fi film, with heavy hitters such as Kate Winslet, Edie Falco, Michelle Yeoh and Oona Chaplin joining original cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana et al (and Sigourney Weaver, playing a different character) to continue the story of the blue-skinned Na’vi on their planet of Pandora.

Regionally, the most-anticipated release (arguably) is also a remake — one that’s already been done 18 times, but not previously in Arabic: “Perfect Strangers.” In his feature debut, Wissam Smayra directs an excellent cast including Mona Zaki, Nadine Labaki, Eyad Nassar and Adel Karam in a bang-up-to-date version set over one night during the Lebanese uprising and the COVID-19 pandemic. It is set to stream on Netflix this month.


Meet the Saudi architect designing the metaverse

Digital artist and architect Sattom Alasad expresses and explores her Saudi heritage through her work. (AN Photo)
Digital artist and architect Sattom Alasad expresses and explores her Saudi heritage through her work. (AN Photo)
Updated 22 January 2022

Meet the Saudi architect designing the metaverse

Digital artist and architect Sattom Alasad expresses and explores her Saudi heritage through her work. (AN Photo)
  • Sattom Alasad wanted to use online spaces dominating people's lives to provide a tranquil, otherworldly escape
  • These digital spaces are also a way for Alasad to express and explore her Saudi heritage

LOS ANGELES: Saudi architect Sattom Alasad has expanded from designing physical buildings to virtual ones.

Collectively known as a metaverse, digital spaces like Alasad’s allow users online to immersively interact with the environment and each other, and the technology world is looking at them as the next big thing.

“A lot of big companies are investing millions of dollars to own digital land so it’s only natural that the digital real estate is also going to go up in value and is going to be in demand,” digital artist and architect Alasad said. “So as an architect, I am trying to actively participate in developing and designing that digital world for us.”

Metaverse development has been pushed forward due in part to the increased number of people working and interacting remotely during the pandemic.

Alasad wanted to use the online spaces dominating people's lives to provide a tranquil, otherworldly escape.

“A lot of what was going on in the world around us was weighing down on us, so I wanted to take that as an opportunity to start developing my dream world,” she told Arab News.

“I’m currently working on translating my designs to be sold as NFTs where the owner can choose to host the spaces in the metaverse or the digital world where they can be experienced fully and immersively through virtual reality.” 

These digital spaces are also a way for Alasad to express and explore her Saudi heritage, incorporating familiar design elements from her home.

Of all her projects, the one closest to her heart was a collaboration with the charitable collective of MENA region creators, Ya Habibi Market.

“Creating and sharing art is an incredible way to meet and connect with other creatives who live in LA whether they’re from Saudi or other parts of the Arab world.

“So in some ways I found it I would say more empowering to try to connect and understand my culture while being away from it.”


US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 

US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 
Updated 22 January 2022

US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 

US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 

DUBAI: US YouTuber Brittany Xavier has been spotted wearing a pair of sunglasses from Lebanese influencer Karen Wazen’s eponymous accessories line By Karen Wazen.

The social media star, who has over 1.7 million Instagram followers and more than 4.6 million TikTok supporters, opted for the Ellis shades, a pair of rectangular-frame sunglasses in black. 

The 34-year-old blogger, famous for her fashion, beauty and digital marketing-related blogs, wore a full leather suit, which she paired with a hot purple bag by Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe, as she strolled down the streets of Los Angeles.  

On her YouTube channel, which has around 443,000 subscribers, the full-time content creator documents her life with her husband, Anthony Xavier, and her two daughters, Jadyn and Poppy Xavier. 

She started her career in 2013. “I started my blog as a hobby in hopes of turning this into my full-time career,” she said in one of her YouTube videos. 

The mother recently welcomed her second child, Poppy, whom she gave birth to 14 years after her first girl. 

Meanwhile, Dubai-based entrepreneur and influencer Wazen launched her debut collection of eyewear in December 2018. The first line came in acetate and stainless steel and in an array of colors, from neon to tortoiseshell.

Less than a year after the official launch of her brand, her designs were picked up by major e-tailer Farfetch, which became the first online platform to offer her eyewear collection.

Now with a large collection of stylish shades, the label has gained the nod of approval from international celebrities including British-Albanian singer Dua Lipa, reality television star Kourtney Kardashian, French model Cindy Bruna, and American singer Becky G, along with a number of regional influencers and trendsetters such as Lebanese blogger Nathalie Fanj, Lebanese-Canadian actress Cynthia Samuel, and Iraqi influencer Deema Al-Asadi.

Among her loyal customers is US music sensation Demi Lovato, who championed the designer’s pieces multiple times. 

The two-time Grammy nominee owns Wazen’s Glamorous shades, a pair of cat-eye-shaped sunglasses in green lenses and a clear frame, and a pair of Kennys, which are rectangular-shaped with brown lenses and a transparent frame.


‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74

‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74
Updated 21 January 2022

‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74

‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74
  • The beefy Texas-born singer distinguished himself in the late 1970s with his soaring vocal range and lavish stage productions
  • After a career rut, Meat Loaf enjoyed a revival with his biggest success in 1993: the single "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"

WASHINGTON: US singer Meat Loaf, famous for his “Bat Out of Hell” rock anthem, has died aged 74, after a career in which he sold more than 100 million albums and appeared in scores of movies.
“Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side,” read a statement on his Facebook page early on Friday.
“Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.” No cause of death was given.
The beefy Texas-born singer distinguished himself in the late 1970s with his soaring vocal range and lavish stage productions.
His 1977 “Bat out of Hell” album, which reportedly sold some 43 million copies, is one of the highest-selling ever.
After a career rut, Meat Loaf enjoyed a revival with his biggest success in 1993: the single “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” topped the charts in 28 countries and won him a Grammy Award.
“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man,” it said.
“From his heart to your souls... don’t ever stop rocking!“
Tributes poured in, including from former US president Donald Trump, and stars such as Cher, who tweeting she was “Very Sorry For His Family, Friends, & Fans.”
“R.I.P Meatloaf. Love and prayers to all his family and close friends,” tweeted singer Boy George.
Adam Lambert, the lead singer for Queen since 2011, described Meat Loaf as “a gentle hearted powerhouse rockstar forever and ever.”
“You were so kind. Your music will always be iconic,” Lambert said on Twitter.
Born Marvin Lee Aday on September 27, 1947, Meat Loaf’s early years in Texas were rough.
“I’ve forgiven my father for trying to kill me with a butcher’s knife,” he once told The Telegraph.
But the bullying at school over his weight — the nickname Meat Loaf came early — was followed by the devastating loss of his mother to cancer while he was still a teenager.
Not long after, he was on his way to New York, looking for ways to channel the angst and histrionics into performance.
There, he teamed up with musician and playwright Jim Steinman, who provided the wild, theatrical backing music to accompany Meat Loaf’s bellowing voice.
Meat Loaf’s other hit singles include “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” (1977) and “I’m Gonna Love Her for Both of Us” (1981).
Meat Loaf had started off seeking acting work — winning parts in “Hair” and the original cast of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and its film adaptation.
Throughout his career, he also had several small parts in TV shows and films, including “Wayne’s World” (1992).
His role in the 1999 cult classic “Fight Club” highlighted his acting prowess in one of the decade’s most critically acclaimed films.
In 2016, he released a new album — his first since 2011 — and returned to a busy schedule after a two-year gap in touring, a string of health scares and speculation he would retire.
The singer had collapsed onstage at least three times since 2003, including once in Canada in 2016 after suffering from dehydration while singing “I’d Do Anything For Love.”
He was one of the few major US musicians outside of the country genre to support the Republican Party actively.
In the lead-up to the 2012 election that Barack Obama ended up winning, Meat Loaf campaigned for his challenger Mitt Romney.
Meat Loaf also became friends with Donald Trump after appearing on the latter’s reality television show “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Trump described the singer as “smart, talented, open, and warm” in a statement Friday.


Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London
Updated 21 January 2022

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

DUBAI: The Syrian Arts and Culture Festival, a new multidisciplinary event showcasing the country’s creative talents, has opened in London.

The inaugural event, running until Feb. 4, brings together established and emerging artists, filmmakers, performers, and musicians to offer audiences alternative narratives and perspectives on Syria, its people, and its culture.

The SACF is a project by Zamakan, a non-profit platform that aims to create opportunities for artists, cultural workers, and creatives from West Asia and North Africa, and Marsm, a London-based events company.

Upcoming events feature a performance by Syrian musician Ibrahim Keivo. (Syrian Arts and Culture Festival)

SACF is a transliteration of the Arabic word saqf, meaning roof or ceiling, a word which is also used to represent the limit of something. According to the website, the festival, “aspires to be a creative platform where limits can be pushed and boundaries are broken.”

For the opening night, the festival presented two solo performances by the acclaimed Syrian classical guitarist Ayman Jarjour and and Palestinian ney (a type of flute) virtuoso Faris Ishaq.

Upcoming events feature screenings of Syrian filmmaker Omar Amiralay’s movies, a traditional food workshop, and a performance by Syrian musician Ibrahim Keivo.


Meet Saudi beauty guru Hessa Alajaji: The face behind Han Makeup

Meet Saudi beauty guru Hessa Alajaji: The face behind Han Makeup
Updated 21 January 2022

Meet Saudi beauty guru Hessa Alajaji: The face behind Han Makeup

Meet Saudi beauty guru Hessa Alajaji: The face behind Han Makeup

DUBAI: Saudi makeup artist Hessa Alajaji’s beauty brand Han Makeup, which she has been working on since 2017, is finally here much to the delight of makeup aficionados. 

“Our goal is to have a brand that covers all the products that anyone would need when doing their makeup,” said the content creator who co-founded the brand in an interview with Arab News. “We have started with makeup brushes as we have noticed a lack of sets that give you the requirements that you need.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HESSA ALAJAJI (@han.alajaji)

Alajaji first gained popularity on social media, where beauty lovers flocked to her Instagram account for creative shots of colorful, otherworldly makeup looks and sneak peaks of the artist’s life. With more than 35,000 followers on Instagram, it was time for the creative talent to translate her know-how into a business.  

The pandemic slowed down the artist’s production plan, but she said it allowed her to test the brushes with several leading makeup artists and users who “all praised the quality” of her set. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HAN (@han.makeup)

Priced at 450 SAR, the set features 10 brushes that will help makeup lovers create knife-sharp eyeliner looks, natural looking eyebrows, and softly blended eyeshadows.

The set, which is made out of natural and synthetic hair, also has larger tools that can be used to contour, highlight, conceal or to apply foundation.   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HESSA ALAJAJI (@han.alajaji)

The feedback on her release “exceeded” her expectations. “Clients loved the brush set and we have been receiving amazing feedback. We love that our brushes were a part of the most memorable moments of our clients like their wedding day, engagement party, New Year’s Eve, etc.,” she said.

The Riyadh-based entrepreneur, who has collaborated with international brands like Sephora, is currently working on developing three new products. “We want to venture into cosmetics in 2022 and launch a few products,” she teased. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HESSA ALAJAJI (@han.alajaji)

As of now, her products are not manufactured in Saudi Arabia, but the beauty guru said she hopes to produce her brand in her home country one day. 

“We secure different samples from factories across the world like Italy, Korea, China, etc., and we proceed with the best quality we get. Quality is the determining factor not location nor the “made in” label,” she added. 

Alajaji said she has always had a passion for arts. “That passion grew with me as I got older and I started discovering makeup when I was in high school. I fell in love with it from the beginning as it allowed me to express my creativity and art,” she said.