Film Review: Lion

I watched the move Lion with my family. It’s about a 5-year-old boy named Saroo who gets lost on the streets of India, put into an orphanage, and is eventually adopted by a family in Australia. As he becomes an adult, he starts to wonder what happened to his biological family and begins to search for his old home. After a long effort, he is eventually reunited with his family. However, this simple story seemed to us much more dramatic as it was based on a true story.

I don’t know how much fiction and storytelling effects were added to this story, but it is a very moving and emotional movie anyways. In the beginning of the movie when the boy Saroo got lost in the streets and was in grave danger of being kidnapped, I almost stopped watching the movie as it was quite terrifying and intense. It felt really realistic, and the terror and loneliness that Saroo experienced could be felt right through the screen.

Both Sunny Pawar (the actor who played young Saroo) and Dev Patel (who played older Saroo) successfully played their part. The emotion Dev Patel was able to portray in his performance really pushed the movie forward and was a wonderful addition. Similarly, the shockingness of Saroo being able to use Google Maps to pinpoint the location of his old home was another great aspect of this movie. The scene where he was flooded with memories of his past and is able to finally pinpoint and track down his old home was a great climax of the movie.

Lastly, the scene where Saroo is reunited with his family was so powerful and moving, and brought me to tears. The joy in the face of him and his mother–though they were actors–felt real and was a great ending to the movie. The revelation that his real name was Sheru was an interesting fact and its meaning that was revealed in the end credits wrapped up the finale of a great movie.

I highly recommend watching this movie. If you do, you will get to learn what the name “Sheru” means as well.

-Kobe L.

Lion is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

A Dog’s Purpose

Are you a dog lover who believes in destiny? If so, this should a fantastic book for you. Bailey was an ordinary pup that had so many lives that he(she) doesn’t even remember anymore.

But the most remarkable life that imprinted itself on Bailey’s heart was probably when he was a golden retriever that the color gold of his fur enlightened his owner Ethan. The profundity of their friendship is not there to be described by words. But when Bailey passed away after Ethan went to college, the subtle bond still remains unbreakable and the immortality of it freshens Ethan’s entire life from that on.

But Bailey’s reincarnation is never-ending, he continues to walk on his abysmal lives. There are horrible owners that exhibited their insanity throughout the story that you might want to screw them up. And there are also owners that their effusive magnanimity melted your heart in an instant. Though we all know that the final home that Bailey should belong is the genial room of Ethan. The answer whether Bailey will be hugged by Ethan again and play his favorite baseball is waiting for the readers to find out with tears in their limpid eyes maybe.

-April L.

A Dog’s Purpose by Bruce Cameron is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

An Appointment With My Brother by Yi Mun-Yol

This novella, An Appointment With His Brother, talks about the unseen interaction between North and South Korea. Basically what happens is, the protagonist’s father defected to North Korea, which is unusual because it would normally be the other way around. The protagonist finds out years later that his father had a new family. Since the father lives in North Korea, visiting each other is nearly impossible. However, one day he learns about the boundary line between North Korea and China. People would cross the border with the help of a broker and essentially escape. So the main character attempts to meet his father but ends up having An Appointment With My Brother instead. Once they meet each other, they talk to each other about their lives and compare them. They come to a realization about their lifestyles after talking–their lives weren’t as different as they thought.

There was a lot learned from this story, things that aren’t usually revealed in the news, and only something that those people know. Even though the book was difficult to understand, the underlying theme and message are important to one’s everyday life. Reading this book allowed me to put the prejudice views aside and really see the true events that occur instead.

-Phoebe L.

Film Review: Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji was a excellent film about thinking who you really are. Without a doubt the movie is hilariously funny. The movie had jokes coming at you left and right.

In Jumanji the game is no longer a board game. It has been adapted to a video game with the same world and rules as the board game but instead. The cool thing about the movie is that the four teenagers choose the characters that they are the exact opposite of in real life. This comes back to the theme of the movie which is thinking about who you really are.

The main character in the movie was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He played his role well as a Indiana Jones type character. He basically played the role he plays in most movies. The main two characters who stole the show were Kevin Hart and Jack Black. Kevin Hart was hilarious as Kevin Hart always is. I think this might have been one of his best performances. Jack Black played his character perfectly. He got the concept of a teenage girl trapped in a man’s body. I don’t think there could’ve been any one else to play his role better than Black did. Another character in the movie was played by Nick Jonas. This film may make him known to many filmmakers even though he was a last minute character. The movie was very good so directors might look at him a little closer. I definitely liked the movie. I thought it played out excellent. The movie was most definitely a action comedy. Almost every time Kevin Hart or Jack Black spoke it was a new joke.

The movie also starts out with the four teenagers against each other. In my head I saw it like two of them hated each other and the other two hated each other. I loved this because this was a pathway to character development. Each and every main character in this movie received character development. My honest opinion is that the movie was great. It had the perfect combination of action and adventure. The acting was amazing in the movie also.

-Max U.

Film Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a really great film, but as a classic Star Wars film it really didn’t strike me. That’s the problem with many fans. They are torn between whether they should like this movie or not, which is why I’m writing this review. After I saw the movie, I was a little confused. The whole point of the movie was about admitting your mistakes and finding yourself. They where the two big main ideas that made an impact on the story.

Other people were mad with the choices that director Rian Johnson made. Fans where stating that The Last Jedi didn’t live up to The Empire Strikes Back‘s name. Which they where right. It was a perfect film to have in the middle of a trilogy. Even more fans just wanted to see J J Abrams direct the movie. He was wonderful with The Force Awakens and I wouldn’t mind if he directed the next trilogy. If there are any J. J. fans out there don’t worry, he is directing the next movie.

Rian Johnson changed Luke’s character a little bit to be very funny on the big screen to balance his inner conflict. People were still having trouble understanding Luke’s character in the movie. Even Mark Hamill didn’t understand why Johnson put him in the position he made for the movie. Fans strongly disagreed with Luke in The Last Jedi. Ryan Johnson also made the planet that Luke was on with a lot of detail. For example in the background you could hear the Porgs do their little cry.

But hands down it was an excellent film. I just wonder what Rian will do with the next trilogy considering the events that close out the movie. This was the longest Star Wars movie we have gotten but if you’re patient and a huge fan of the franchise, then I recommend you see it.

-Max U.

Want by Cindy Pon

Vividly conjured from bestselling author Cindy Pon’s colorful imagination comes an alluringly dark society set in near-future Taipei, where sickness and pollution plague its inhabitants. A thriller spun into sci-fi, the book depicts a story about a group of teens who try their hand at changing their society for the better by toppling the empire of the rich minority.

With stunning prose dripping with imagery so powerful it induces incredibly lifelike images, Pon does a brilliant job highlighting the stark contrast between the privilege of the rich and the scraps the poor pick up behind them, illuminated by its futuristic setting. It’s a story about division, unity, and vigilante justice, highlighted with an ever-so-sweet touch of friendship and romance. The novel does a brilliant job of conveying a message that today in society we like to turn a blind eye to: the manipulating and unorthodox methods used in business to make money. Creating a problem to sell a solution. Eradicating those who try to stand in the way. It’s the harsh truth we always knew existed.

There are so many reasons this novel stands distinctly apart from others for me. For one, it hits close to home: the Taiwanese heritage runs in my veins as potently as it does in the novel, with its allusions to language and culture exposing the often overlooked traditions of the Taiwanese. And then, of course, the characters, so different from one another and yet sharing both a powerful bond and a common goal, become comrades on the way along the journey.

Finally, Zhou, the main character, has a voice that stays with you long after the turn of the last page. “I was going to become what I wanted to destroy,” he says bitterly, of trading his street-rat identity for esteemed upper-class socialite.

Ultimately, Want reflects, in its intrinsic essence, humanity’s inevitable tendency to divide itself, whether by wealth, race, gender, religion, sexuality, or pure hate. It’s a powerful message to recognize those who cannot speak for themselves because we do not listen.

Here’s to hoping that that message is amplified throughout the world, throughout time, and proclaimed as a lasting testament to human nature, so that we ourselves can be bettered.

-Esther H.

Want by Cindy Pon is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also free for download from Overdrive

Book vs Movie: A Christmas Carol

What better way to spend the holiday season than to sit down next to the fire with a cup of hot chocolate in hand, reading a holiday-spirited book? If that is the case, bear Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol in mind. If you’re more on the relaxing side, curl up on the couch and watch the movie. Both are great choices, but here’s some key differences between book vs movie.

Many Americans are familiar with the story of miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge, whose heart is cold and inhospitable. But after encountering three spirits of Christmas, Past, Present, and Future, Scrooge becomes a changed man, brimming with joy for Christmas season.

The movie, which was released in 2009, is more lighthearted than the actual book, as often happens. When Charles Dickens wrote the book there weren’t many jobs, and lots of people were homeless and dying of hunger. However, when the movie was made, the economy was much better and people were more joyous. Scrooge’s father is also considerably more generous in the movie, leaving Scrooge meager amounts of money, while in the book, the poor lad is sent straight to a new Master named Fezziwig. In the movie Scrooge seems much younger than he actually is; in the book, he is around 70, weaker and frail.

Each in turn, the three Spirits show Scrooge a memory or a future, and these images haunt Scrooge, who begins to feel guilty. He sees his nephew Fred making fun of him; he sees his clerk, Bob Cratchit’s son, Tiny Tim, die, the family mourning; and in the end, he sees himself on a deathbed, while others cherish the fact that he is gone….

Of course, movies tend to dramatize these events, making them more exciting. The scene where Scrooge is going to fall into his grave is very intense, and so is the music. But when Scrooge wakes up, his reaction in the book and the movie are very similar; he is giddy to be alive, and honors Christmas with a joyful heart.

Either way, both are full of action, love, and are sure to warm you up for this holiday season!

-Katharine L.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and its film adaptations are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library