Film Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

In this action-packed sequel, Tom Holland reprises his role as Peter Parker aka Spider-Man. This movie was as amazing and mind-blowing as the first movie and was a beautiful masterpiece created.

The story starts off in Ixtenco, Mexico, where an unnatural “elemental storm” is investigated by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), where they meet Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal). Back in New York, Peter Parker reunites with his classmates five years after the “Blip”/Snap. Peter’s school arranges a field trip to Europe where Peter plans to confess his feelings towards MJ (Zendaya). While in Venice for his class field trip, the Water Elemental wreaks havoc in the city. Quentin Beck jumps in and destroys the monster and claims that he’s from completely different earth (multiverse) and that the Elementals destroyed his family.

Peter, still distraught over Tony Stark’s death (we still are), begins to see Beck as a mentor and someone that he trusts and ultimately hands over E.D.I.T.H., an artificial intelligence glasses gifted by Tony, to Beck. Beck is revealed to be a former ex-Stark employee and uses projectors in order to portray the Elementals. Peter ultimately battles Beck and ends up killing him and takes back E.D.I.T.H. One of Beck’s assistants escapes and ends up revealing Spiderman’s true identity after portraying him as the one behind all the attacks.

The idea behind this movie, with the projectors and holograms manipulating the eye, was incredible and extremely well thought out and completely unexpected. It caught me completely off guard.

I absolutely 100% recommend this movie and strongly believe that everyone can enjoy this movie!

-Phoebe L.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

From this book, the biggest thing which I learned is that dogs are men’s best friends. It is hard to imagine how much our dogs love us because they cannot talk like we do, through our mouths. They talk from their eyes and hearts and actions to show us just how loyal they are to us. Like the main character in the book, Bailey, he reincarnated so many times just to be back with Ethan again. They’ve gone through so much and it’s really the hardest for either of them to forget this relationship. One scene that imprints itself in me was the part where after Ethan hurts his leg he decided to go to college in another state and Bailey chases the car to a very far distance. I’ll bet he knows what’s best for Ethan to do in this case, but it’s just that he wasn’t willing to let his best friend just leave him at that.

Actually, a lot of the movies these days are about the relationship between dogs and humans. We devote attention, love, patience, and money to dogs but they return it with their whole life. Ethan and Bailey are not just inseparable when they are happy, they take on hardships together and it’s either both of them get blamed or punished or they escape together. There was never a time when one abandons the other to danger. And I really think through these types of books and movies humans can adjust the attitude they take on to other people as well. If animals can treat people they love and love them with loyalty and dedication, why can’t we?

-Coreen C. 

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

How Fiction Can Give Us a View Into Reality

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” Tom Clancy’s analysis on the divergence between the realm of fantasy and the confines of the real world shows us that reality and fantasy are really not as different as they may seem. One example of this is Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, which centers around the trials and triumphs of a former U.S Marine lieutenant turned history teacher as he becomes entangled in the world of international espionage and warfare.

The series’ first book, Patriot Games, depicts Ryan’s chance encounter with Ulster Liberation Army terrorists in England and sets the tone for how this will alter the course of his career and family life in the books to follow. Although this book was written for entertainment purposes, it does give us a window into the international political climate at the time of the book’s release(July 1987). The Provisional Irish Republican Army was fighting to end British influence in Northern Ireland and reunite Ireland at the time of publication. This book was not based on a true story, but it does allude to the real-life political climate in the UK at the time, which helps readers gain a greater understanding of a time period that they may not have experienced.

Another author who drew inspiration from the world around him is John Steinbeck. Steinbeck’s famous Of Mice and Men is a book many read during high school English courses. It tells the story of two close friends, George and Lennie, as they attempt to seek work in California during the Great Depression. This story is categorized as fiction, though some of the characters and events Steinbeck described were people and things he met and experienced during his time working on a ranch in central California. Of Mice and Men’s setting helps readers understand the desperation that unemployed Americans faced in trying to find jobs during the Great Depression. Lennie’s character also shows the rejection, stigmatization, and ignorance of mental illness during this time period, which was a very real and prevalent issue in the real world. Many believe that books categorized as fiction are simply nothing more than stories created to entertain literary enthusiasts on a rainy day.

History, politics, and social structure are all topics that are traditionally reserved for textbooks or newspapers. However, Clancy’s series and Steinbeck’s works are some of the many examples of how fiction can give us a glimpse into the past or present reality. It is interesting to see just how much we can learn about a past time through our favorite novels and fantasy stories and may encourage those who stick to the world of non-fiction to branch out into other genres.

-Katie A.

Film Review: A Star is Born (2018)

So, I know I’m late to the A Star is Born party, but I do see what all the buzz was about. Before I get into the thick of this review, there are a couple warnings I need to distribute. First, this movie is R-Rated, and if you’re uncomfortable with that, then you should stop reading now. Additionally, if you are triggered by mentions as well as depictions of suicide, this review is not for you; people who are triggered or uncomfortable with detailed depictions of alcohol/drug abuse should also stop reading here.

A Star is Born (2018) is the third remake of a film released in 1937. The other remakes were released in 1954 and 1976. While they all have pretty similar storylines, there are slight differences and variances between all of them. The story itself is seemingly cliche: seasoned and successful musician/actor accidentally meets struggling young musician/actor, the seasoned artist helps young artist gain fame and success. The seasoned artist’s career dwindles due to drugs and alcohol, which he abused due to deeply rooted issues stemming from an alcoholic absentee father; meanwhile, the young artist’s career skyrockets, and she is ecstatic, until tragedy strikes.

The decline of his career becomes too much for the seasoned musician/actor, and he falls deeper and deeper into the pit of drug abuse. His young lover does her best to dig him out and help him, but it becomes a bigger and bigger problem, until he can’t take it anymore, and ends his own life. This begins a new chapter for the young star, who now has to navigate the cruel world of the elite on her own, all while heartless things are being said about her late lover.

Overall, this movie was an emotional roller-coaster, and I strongly recommend it if you want to vent some of your own emotions by crying and blame it on a movie. However, if you don’t really feel like being emotionally wrecked over a movie, I would not suggest watching A Star is Born (2018). But nonetheless, I loved it. Also, I love Lady Gaga. Her performance was absolutely stunning.

-Arushi S. 

A Star Is Born, starring Bradly Cooper and Lady Gaga, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

11/22/63 by Stephen King

This novel tells of Jake Epping, a recently divorced teacher at his local high school, teaching some GED classes for extra money. One of his GED students, the high school’s janitor, Harry Dunning, writes a tear-jerking essay for his final, about how his family was killed by his alcoholic father and how he was crippled for life. 

A few years later, when Jake visits his friend, Al, at Al’s Diner, Al shows Jake a time portal in the pantry of his diner; Al, seems to have aged years within a day, explains that he had used the portal to travel back in time, and had lived years in the past before he developed cancer and had to return. 

The few rules to the portal are as follows:

  • Each trip to the past is a complete reset to September 9, 1958. Whenever you enter the portal, you’re undoing whatever you did the last trip.
  • Each time coming back from the past through the portal, no matter how long you stay, you come back two minutes after you left.
  • The past can be changed, impacting the future, but the past is also obdurate; it tries it’s very hardest to stop from being changed.

After Al shows Jake the ropes, he sends Jake on the mission that he had been unable to complete last time. From what Al has observed, everything bad in the world can be traced back to John F. Kennedy’s assassination; if Jake could stop the assassination, the world would likely be a better place. And if it wasn’t, he could always go back and reset it. 

Jake agrees to the plan, but adds a few elements of his own; he would drop by the Dunning household, and stop Frank Dunning from murdering Harry’s family. Then, he would wait until 1963, watching and monitoring the world around him, and stop Kennedy’s assassination.

The title of this novel definitely was the eye-catcher on the library bookshelf for me, in addition to its impressive size. The reality of life that’s starkly shown in this novel, contrasting the preposterous situation Jake enters into, is why I enjoyed it so much. He constantly feels the danger of discovery, injecting an underlying urgency into the story, but I also felt a wrenching desire for him to settle down when he finds a wonderful woman in a content little town where he could live a happy life in the past. 

There’s a sense of heroism to the story as well; armed with the knowledge of the future, Jake strives to do his best for the greater good of the world. However, the past is “obdurate;” he runs into so many obstacles when he tries to change things, ultimately causing more harm than good. It’s an excellent example of how good intentions do not necessarily bring good results.

-Adelle W.

11/22/63 by Stephen King is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Carrie Meeber is from a small city who seeks to go to her sister in Chicago to have a better life. However, when she gets there she realizes the fact that her sister and her brother in law are in a very wretched condition together with their daughter. Unable to endure their apathy when she fails to secure herself a job, Carrie decided to leave. Before she even arrived in Chicago, she met Druet, a wealthy young man on the train who really likes her due to her beauty. So right after quitting her job at the factory, Carrie accidentally met Drouet around the street corners. He treats her a meal and often buys her beautiful clothing and jewelry which made her think in his favor. And thus, soon they were living together in a comfortable flat.

But it wasn’t soon when Drouet introduced Carrie to his manager friend Hurstwood. Lured by his gentleness and suave manner, Carrie fell in love with him and he with her. However, since Hurstwood was not in a relationship with his wife and his children, he lied to Carrie and said that he was unmarried. One day, Hurstwood under the influence of alcohol accidentally took ten thousand dollars from the cashier’s unlocked box and decided to flee to New York. He wheedled Carrie into escaping with him as well and so the two left for New York. However, life was not as easy there because everything was more expensive. After several unsuccessful attempts at finding a satisfactory job, Hurstwood depended on Carrie to earn and they again fell into the state of poverty.

Just then, due to her looks, passion, and aptitude for singing and acting, Carrie made a career in the theatre. She was well-liked by a lot of rich people and thus deserted Hurstwood. Although she regularly supported him somewhat, she severed the relationship at last when Hurstwood, due to his pride, stopped asking money from Carrie and suicided at last.

-Coreen C.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of my favorite books ever written. It was published in 2006, by John Boyne, and is set during World War II, at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland. It is narrated by Bruno, the 9-year-old son of a Nazi Commandant. Bruno’s innocent perspective makes the novel absolutely gut-wrenching, as he has no idea what exactly is happening beyond the fence surrounding Auschwitz.

Bruno’s father has a high station in the Nazi hierarchy, and he is on very close terms with Fuhrer Hitler. In fact, Hitler has Bruno’s father move out of Berlin and to Poland so he can oversee tings at Auschwitz, much to Bruno’s dismay. The new house at Auschwitz is old and gloomy, not at all like his previous home in Berlin. With nothing to do except explore, Bruno makes a number of startling discoveries that, in turn, lead to a massive turn of events.

Overall, this book is a roller-coaster of emotions. Readers will laugh at Bruno’s adorable perceptions of things that we understand with ease, cry at the mistakes he makes because he doesn’t know any better. John Boyne expertly wraps the reader up in the plot, writing complex, dynamic characters that the reader can sympathize with. This book is just an amazing read, and if you’re looking for a novel that will enrich and educate as well as entertain you, your search has met its end.

-Arushi S. 

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive