Film Review: Suits

Taking place in New York, the TV show covers the life stories of Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), two people working as lawyers under the changing firm first known as Pearson Hardman. Harvey Specter is a lawyer and a junior partner at the firm at the start of the story, looking for an associate to work with as part of the firm policy. On the other hand, Mike Ross is a Harvard student interested in learning law with an eidetic memory and a great chance of success, but becomes expelled from Harvard after his friend Trevor (Tom Lipinski) accidentally sends a college test to the daughter of the head of the college, which becomes public and creates controversy. Destroyed by the news, Mike finds himself bouncing from jobs until he finds his way into a meeting with Harvey, which changes his life forever.

When Harvey first meets Mike, he develops doubt over illegally allowing Mike to take a job as a lawyer, a job that he had no legal qualifications for. However, Mike ends up impressing Harvey at the meeting with his knowledge of the Barbary legal handbook and also beats Harvey in finding loopholes in a law. Harvey questions Mike on why he isn’t a lawyer, and Mike tells Harvey the story about Trevor, as well as his dreams to be a lawyer getting ripped away. Not wanting to spend more time interviewing prospective associates, Harvey gives Mike the job and has Mike take a tour of Harvard to learn everything there is to being a lawyer.

On the first day of work, Mike receives a tour from a paralegal known as Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) and meets the head of the associates, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman). Mike quickly learns of all the expectations he has in his job, and Harvey gives him a case to work on for him despite his promise to Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), the managing partner of the firm, to work on it by himself. Both Mike and Harvey experience struggles, with Mike nearly bailing on the job altogether and Jessica showing her disappointment in Harvey for breaking his word, however they both end up working together well and win the case. Even though the two had a rocky start, they grow their bond and become great friends throughout the show. Plenty happens with the two over the span of 9 seasons, but all I can really say without giving too much spoilers is that the dynamic of the two makes this show interesting.

I first found out about the show from my family, and even though I initially had no interest in the series, I gave it a try and it turned out to be a very interesting show for me – and I have recommended it to several friends who have enjoyed it in the past. Even though it mainly revolves around legal drama, the show was amazing while it lasted for 9 seasons. I would recommend anyone – whether they turn out to enjoy the show or not – to watch the show and give it a chance, just like how I ended up doing.

Suits is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Authors We Love: Dr. Seuss

Going into my first years of school, I was always skeptical of reading. I mainly enjoyed playing with video games or even toys when I was a young child, but I never really found books interesting. I would often find myself wanting to do something else, which distracted me from developing an interesting in reading or even learning how to read. However, my parents introduced me to Dr. Seuss, and his books ended up creating that interest that I greatly needed growing up.

Known for his books such as The Cat in the Hat and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Dr. Seuss mainly wrote children’s books with illustrations meant to grab the young reader’s attention. Since many people in their younger ages – including me – found plain text in books boring to look at and read for as long as a given book could last for. The fact that Dr. Seuss made reading interesting with the illustrations created interest and motivation to read that was not found prior to that. Without Dr. Seuss, many would probably have no interest in reading books and would struggle in finishing many school assignments that involves heavy reading and analysis of the text.

With Dr. Seuss, I found reading to be fun and looked forward to every story that he had to tell about some of the characters. Even though I have not read Dr. Seuss in a while, I vividly remember the joy I found in hearing my parents read the stories to me before I went to bed. The joy he brought with his books made me interested in reading and even though many of us feel like we are too old to read it anymore – I know I certainly feel that way at times -, I also feel that sometimes it is important to look back and remember some things that made up our childhood and how it made us who we are today.

Several titles by Dr. Seuss are available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They are also available to download for free from Libby.

Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick

This sequel of the 1980s film Top Gun was definitely an interesting experience. It followed the life of the famous pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise), aka Pete Mitchell, and his perspective of events following the first film. Maverick, following his success in the first film, finds himself back at the institution after he takes a plane for one last test run and crashes the plane due to his cockiness motivating him to go beyond Mach 10, which the plane could not handle. Although Maverick faces possible dishonorable discharge for his behavior, his old rival-turned-friend in the previous film, Iceman (Val Kilmer), ends up saving him from this and gets him relocated to Top Gun to lead a secret mission. However, there ends up being one catch: Maverick cannot participate in the actual mission.

Although Maverick struggles with this news due to his passion for fighting fighter planes, he faces bigger problems when he finds out one of his fellow teammates, call sign Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of his deceased friend and wingman Goose (Anthony Edwards). As Maverick felt responsible for the death of his friend, he felt unsure about the mission, but proceeds to lead with motivation from Iceman. However, events start to challenge his mindset: Iceman falls to disease, Rooster distrusts Maverick due to Maverick intentionally holding Rooster back early in his career due to complicated circumstances, and the leaders of Top Gun nearly pull Maverick from the mission entirely due to doubt over his plan. Despite all this, Maverick again boldly proves his plan is feasible by successfully demonstrating it using a stolen fighter pilot, which thankfully doesn’t crash – unlike the last time he disobeyed orders. Instead of punishing Maverick, the leaders decide to keep Maverick and allow him into the mission, but now with an active duty as a fighter pilot.

The mission proves to be a success, but Maverick ends up taking a hit for Rooster due to his guilt over Goose and his desire to break the pattern with Rooster. Despite doubts over Maverick’s status and the impending doom faced by opposition, Rooster realizes the importance of Maverick’s motivation and care for him throughout the film and heads back to the site, where he finds Maverick alive and saves his life. The two end up making it back to their home base despite near-death experiences from enemy fighter pilots, and the two embrace, end the tension, and create a strong mentorship bond, which honestly left me feeling satisfied and inspired by the movie.

Even though there were numerous lessons and moments taken from the movie, the one that most stood to me was Maverick’s line: “Trust your instincts. Don’t think. Just do”. Although plane fighting and events in real life have their differences, I believe that this lesson can be connected and implemented in real life. For example, in sports, many athletes – myself included – tend to overthink their game plan and their stress hinders a possibly amazing performance due to their mental imbalance. With Maverick’s advice, however, many athletes focus on playing the game, accepting different conditions, and adapting rather than stress over a plan facing difficulties, and this connects very well with the importance of mental health affecting performance in real life.

Overall, this was a great movie and I really hope more people come and see it. The movie is still on theaters and definitely worth a watch – and I believe many can agree with me when I say that you will be getting your money’s worth.

Friendships in School

From my personal experiences, friendships often come and go quicker than we realize. Sometimes our friendships end in a bad way, whether it be via arguments or other problems in life. Sometimes friendships end for the better, when two friends admit that the friendship they share is unhealthy and mutually decide to end it, solidifying the respect that they have for each other, and wish each other well. Sometimes it doesn’t end, and lasts forever since the day that both friends meet. Even though it doesn’t always work out, there are always new moments and memories that can be created from the people you meet and talk with everyday.

In my experience, I have had my own fair share of friendships. Like I said before, some have ended in a bad way, some have ended in a good way, and some still last to this day. As I have gotten older, I have learned to appreciate all the friends who are still in my life to this day and move forward from the friends with whom our friendships didn’t work out in the end. Throughout the years, I’ve learned plenty from my experiences with the people around me at school, and had interesting experiences overall.

This past junior year was definitely an interesting year for me overall. Despite some struggles, I ended up meeting new people, whether it was from my sports team or people in my class, and created some great memories and friendships along the way. Every time spent was either catching up on what happened over the weekend, our own sports or school experiences, or interests that any one of us have. Surprisingly, I have actually learned about new songs and developed new interests from some of my friends this year, some of which I was never sure I would ever be interested in.

Even though I have created plenty of memories with many friends over the years, what stood out most to me was one of my friends being there for me during AP Tests/Prom week this past junior year. During that week, I was dealing with numerous amounts of stress and I was in a bad shape mentally, as I dealt with 4 AP Tests – 3 of which were on that week – as well as some personal hardships in my life. All of this nearly made me skip my junior prom, however one of my friends with whom I have gotten close with this year helped me get through the week and convinced me to at least get my ticket and experience it for the first time ever. Even though I was skeptical at first, I decided to get it last minute and the dance turned out to be one of the best nights of my life. Knowing I would have missed out on it if I skipped on prom like I planned, I thanked my friend that night and enjoyed every moment we spent, knowing that he was a really good friend overall.

Even though friendships coming and going is hard at many points in life, I advise everyone to give people they meet an open mind. You never know who you will meet in life, but what truly matters is the type of person you are and the change you could make in someone’s life.

Soundtrack for Summer: Hold My Hand by Lady Gaga

Oddly enough, I never really paid much attention to Lady Gaga until the recent Top Gun sequel came out. I did hear her songs on the radio in the past and knew that she had some popular songs in the past, but from a few years up to now I never really liked many of her songs or had any interest in them. However, when I heard this song to close Top Gun: Maverick, I just had to know who made this masterpiece. I was shocked to find that it was actually made by Lady Gaga.

This song really hit me deep, as it actively emphasizes a person’s duty to be there for the people they care about, whether they accept it or try to refuse any help. It can be applied to many situations in real life, but I saw the connection between the movie and the track and I really had no choice but to give this song – as well as Lady Gaga – the credit they deserve for this track. Throughout the movie, the main character, Maverick, struggles with life and the pressure of making people close to him proud – Iceman, Rooster, Penny, his dead friend Goose – and the fact that all of his struggles resulted in a stable relationship and a close bond with Rooster made this song perfect for the movie. Even though I mainly interest myself in the plot of many TV shows and movies, I also find the soundtracks interesting, and the discovery and hearing of this song made me happy that I took the time to watch this new movie.

Adding onto my point about connections to the song, I believe that this song also connects to many people in their lives. For example, this song is perfect for someone trying to be there for a loved one in time of grief or sorrow caused by a death in the family or threats of losing everything in their life. Often times people under grief try to reject help and tell themselves that everything is okay, but end up worsening their mental state and the pressure in their minds grow. With this song, it actively emphasizes the love and care that the people we care about – close friends, family, loved ones – and a masterpiece for many to listen to.

Personally, after hearing the song, it really made me think of all the people in my life who had been there for me in times of hardship. I thought of my family first, and how they have been patient and tried to be there for me despite struggles over work and personal lives and wanted the best for me at all times. I also thought of all the friends I had over the years – how some faded and some still last to this day – and made me remember and appreciate all the memories and great times from the day I was born to today. Even though life does move fast and time seems like it moves faster than we want it to, what we can learn from this song and from our own experiences is that we need to appreciate and be there for the people we care about while they are still here.

Overall, this was a really great song and I’m glad to have added it to my summer playlist. I believe anyone who either has or hasn’t seen Top Gun: Maverick have one thing in common: they will enjoy this song.

Film Review: The Punisher (2017)

This show follows up from the second season of Daredevil (2015) on Netflix and tells the story of the events of Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), commonly referred to as his nickname, The Punisher. Castle deals with the trauma over his loss of his wife Maria and his daughter Lisa throughout the film, connecting to modern mental health issues. However, it also connects later to his role in the military, as Castle reveals that due to his role in many corrupt murders in Afghanistan and his later requested transfer out of the army, his commanding officer William Rawlins (Paul Schulze), known as Agent Orange, ordered his death, with Castle’s best friend at the time, Billy Russo (Ben Barnes), contributing to the order. However, Castle survives and seeks vengeance for his family, with violence surrounding most of the show series.

One thing I found interesting about the series is Frank’s methods towards achieving his goals. Although it is often perceived that “good guys do not kill” in many superhero movies/TV series, Castle crosses that line completely. He is perceived as a vigilante and uses brute force and murder to remove anyone who tries to threaten the safety of others, such as robbers, criminals, and gang members, just to name a few. His methods often come to the disapproval of cops, such as Brett Mahoney (Royce Johnson) and Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah), who strongly believe in finding ways to justice without resorting to physical violence and harm. However, both end up acknowledging that Frank’s methods are what they are and that they must let Castle be who he is since every effort to change him has failed miserably. His methods, while questionable, bring more complexity towards the question of morals and good against evil towards the story and to the characters.

Another thing I also found interesting about the series is Frank’s connection with his allies. Although Russo and Castle later fight due to Russo’s involvement in the death of Frank’s family, they used to be close friends prior to the murders and had a close bond with which many people, from school teens to adults, can relate to these days. Russo’s later betrayal deeply affects Castle, as Castle saw Russo as family and this brought the two to separate sides. Castle also ends up siding with David Libermann, also known as Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) to bring Rawlins and Russo to justice, and bond over experiences in life and their partnership. While Castle can be seen as the brawns of the group, Micro makes up the brains of their dynamic, using his computer to hack into systems and gain information that can be used to further influence the success of their missions. Another character that connects with Castle is Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), who also gives information to Castle and shares a deep connection with Castle from the previous series Daredevil to the current show. Although Page is not featured as heavily as Russo or Micro, her friendship with Frank is clear throughout their scenes together.

Overall, this show is an interesting watch and I’d highly recommend anyone to watch it. This show used to be on Netflix, but moved to Disney+ along with more Marvel series, and even though it was discontinued in 2019, I hope that this new transfer gives way to more season of this show.

High School Sports

As a senior going into high school, I have taken many opportunities to reflect upon prior high school years, from freshman year, to sophomore year, to the most recent junior year. Even though I have admittedly faced plenty with school, such as homework, tests, and balance with my personal life, I will admit that sports has had a massive impact on my high school experience. Going into freshman year, I had my own club sport and highly debated on whether or not I should do a sport or deal with another round of PE during high school. As a last minute decision due to a recommendation from a friend, I decided to try out for the cross country team and made it on thanks to a decision from one of my coaches.

Although the first semester of my freshman year did not end well due to an early injury that year affecting my first cross country season and feelings of disconnection from a friend group, I grew dedicated to the sport after my recovery and the following Track season that year, despite being cut short due to the coronavirus, had some kind of payoff for me after my injury. However, the lockdown ended up with a disconnection between me and the rest of my team. Although sophomore year did face some setbacks due to the ongoing pandemic, I did end up racing during Track season that year, notably going sub 5 minutes in the 1600m and sub 11 minutes in the 3200m, as well as making more friends on the team. After that year, I had goals to Varsity letter next year in both XC and Track.

During my junior year, I was under plenty of pressure on myself, as well as mental stress balancing heavy schoolwork, personal life, and sports. My XC season was definitely my most successful season yet, as I went 16:16 in the 3 mile race during Sea View League Finals and had the best race of my life that race alongside two of my best friends and teammates, creating a great memory. Following League Finals, my team qualified for CIF, and I had my second favorite race at CIF Finals at the hilly Mt. Sac course with a time of 17:12. Although my Track season did not top my XC season, I did have some good races, such as going under 4:50 in the 1600m and improving by 30 seconds in the 3200m with a time of 10:20.

Even though I had plenty of success throughout my sports career, the truth is that I could not have done a single part of it without my teammates. I ran with them everyday, talked with them, and shared plenty of moments and memories with them to the point where I can honestly say that they are a significant part of my life. Even though we have had struggles and arguments like a team normally does, we have come together and found success last year and look to continue our success to even greater lengths this upcoming year. High school sports has made a huge impact on my life and I’d highly recommend anyone to take high school sports and gain that experience.

TV Review: Daredevil (2015)

I first saw the show last summer on Netflix before it moved to Disney+ this year. It has very good storylines and introduces audiences to the Marvel comic book character Daredevil and many of his allies and rivals. Played by Charlie Cox, Matt Murdock plays the superhero in a thrilling yet extremely violent TV series. Murdock is revealed to have a day job as a lawyer, working alongside his work partners Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) in the firm Nelson and Murdock. Murdock is also revealed to be blind after an incident occurred where chemicals flew into his eyes as a child, blinding him for life.

The firm only consists of the three members, however they take cases in exchange for payments in food and financial earnings in court. This ends up coming into conflict for Murdock, as he is forced to balance his life as a lawyer and a street vigilante similar to Batman who works outside of the law to protect civilians from robbers and consequences of corruption. His biggest threat is revealed to be a man named Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), a large and imposing man who aims to climb the ranks of New York and gain power and control for his own personal gain. Fisk’s aims often come at the expense of others, leaving people vulnerable and forced against their will to assist and take part in Fisk’s plans.

What I found most interesting about the film is the contrast yet similarity between Daredevil and Fisk. Both want to enhance New York in their own way and both use methods that conflict with the law to reach that end goal. Their quest often raises many questions towards morality. Also, both characters deal with mental trauma. Fisk ends up killing his father to protect his mother and even though his mother accepts him, he still deals with the trauma throughout the story. Similarly, Matt faced child abandonment as a child, with his mother leaving early in his life and his father getting murdered after refusing to throw a boxing fight for the purpose of making Matt proud. Even though both Daredevil and Fisk are different in the eyes of the audience, the similarities between the two are apparent with analysis.

However, what separates the two is their end goals. Although Fisk wants to improve New York, he aims to do so by destroying the city and “rebuilding”, which puts lives at risk and comes at a high price for many. Fisk reveals that he only cares about his power and role in the city, which contradicts his deception to the rest of the citizens of his good will through paid press and newspapers. On the other hand, Daredevil utilizes brutal methods, but refuses to take a life due to his devotion to Catholicism and only does so to help others at risk, such as hostages or other defenseless people.

Overall, this show was a very interesting watch and I believe that it challenges the true association of good and evil. Even though many believe that the two are about as separate as night and day, this show goes above and beyond to challenge that belief through Murdock, Fisk, and even later characters such as Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) aka The Punisher, and Benjamin Poindexter (Wilson Bethel). I strongly recommend anyone with Disney+ to give this show a watch.

Soundtrack for Summer: I Ain’t Worried by OneRepublic

Introduced by the movie Top Gun: Maverick, this song really got me excited for summer. The song in the movie featured Maverick using a beach football scene as a team-building exercise, which was an amazing scene overall and contributed well to the movie. The scene itself is a callback to the classic volleyball scene in the original Top Gun, but the song adds to the overall feel of the scene. It gave a feeling of joy and friendship, two values promoted over summer when people enjoy time off from school/work and spend time with friends and family.

To me, I felt this joy when first hearing the song, and decided to give it some more listens. After about 2-3 listens, I decided to add it to my personal summer playlist and I definitely have more of a feel/excitement for summer every time it plays. Even though all parts of the song were great for the movie and for summer, I found the idea from OneRepublic to incorporate whistling into the song as a genius move since it contributed to the feel of relaxation and creation of memories during the summer. I believe that plenty of people would enjoy this song, especially during the summer. It also promoted releasing stress that many could feel in life from work, school, or other parts of one’s life in a peaceful manner and simply living in the present and seeing the good over the bad while summer lasts.

However, even though I am a fan of OneRepublic, I have not paid much attention to their recent activity prior to this song. I listen to their past songs of Good Life and All the Right Moves frequently since I heard them on the radio almost every day when I was younger and in 1st-5th grade and it brings back memories from that time. Even though time and life move fast at times, it helps to listen to these kinds of songs to remember the good times and to enjoy life and the people around you while you still can. But this song proved that even though some past songs are amazing and at times better than the current songs of a band, there can still be some amazing present songs that can make up part of memories a few years from now.

Overall, the song was amazing and I believe that it has the potential to be a classic hit this year. OneRepublic has made plenty of songs that I enjoy, from songs such as Good Life, Secrets, All the Right Moves, and Love Runs Out. Even though I have admittedly listened to most of OneRepublic’s past songs before, it brought my attention towards OneRepublic and their recent activity and as a fan of the band, it was a pleasure to revisit something as good as this band. It really brought back some nostalgic memories from this summer and past summers, and I believe that anyone can enjoy this song and get hooked to this enjoyable summer tune.

TV Review: Cobra Kai

This show really brought back some good childhood memories, as it is the sequel of the famous Karate Kid trilogy, famously known for the bond between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and their rivalry between John Kreese (Martin Kove) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) of the Cobra Kai Karate Dojo. Although Zabka was only casted in the first movie and appeared briefly in the second, the show follows the full trilogy. Zabka and Macchio reprised their roles as we get to see how their lives unfold after the trilogy events.

The show starts off with Daniel enjoying the life he has always dreamed of, owning a fancy dealership, happy family, and seemingly free of problems. On the other hand, Johnny is in a world of anguish, as he has nobody in his life, losing his mother at a young age, his sensei forcefully abandoning him after the tournament, and failing his relationship with his divorced wife and his son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan). However, Johnny’s life changes when he meets his neighbor, Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña), who is struggling to fit into this new city. Johnny later saves Miguel after a group of bullies led by Kyler (Joe Seo) pick on Miguel, leading to Johnny interfering and using karate to defend Miguel. After some convincing by Miguel and a run-in with Daniel at the LaRusso dealership, Johnny decides to reopen the Cobra Kai dojo under his name. Although Johnny is cold at first, he decides to take his relationship with Miguel more seriously and treats Miguel like his son, leading Miguel to be his star pupil and helping Johnny become a better person. However, Daniel later sees Johnny’s dojo open and, out of fear due to past trauma experienced in the trilogy, opens his own dojo, Miyagi Do Karate, and even taking in Robby, Johnny’s son, as his first student. The show follows with classic high school drama and similar patterns in the rivalry between Johnny and Daniel, with characters such as John Kreese coming back later on in the show.

Personally, I believe that the most interesting aspect of the show is how each side believes that they are fighting for a good cause, however each side has their flaws. For example, Johnny wants to teach the kids to defend themselves against their bullies and conquer their fears, however his disconnection with the modern world blinds him to how corrupting Kreese’s style of Cobra Kai is until Miguel wins the All-Valley tournament against Robby dishonorably. After witnessing Miguel’s actions, however, Johnny tries to implement principles of honor into his class, but fails due to Kreese later influencing the kids. On the other hand, Daniel tries to teach his class how to find balance in their lives, fight honorably, and defending others with good intentions, however he often becomes too obsessed with his rivalry with Johnny and goes against his own advice. Finally, Kreese also wants to help the kids in defending themselves, but he has been traumatized by his time in the army and life events to implement restraints in real life situations, causing the kids to become more violent.

Also, another interesting aspect of the show is the personal growth relationships of the show. In the beginning of the series, Johnny only takes Miguel in because he needs a line of work after being fired from his previous job and a stable source of money. However, after failing to repair his relationship with Robby, Johnny later realizes that Miguel still has faith in him and he cannot give up on Miguel like he did with Robby, and begins teaching Miguel seriously while treating Miguel like a son. Alternatively, Daniel only teaches Robby to create a star pupil to combat Cobra Kai, but after realizing Robby is Johnny’s son and making a rash decision to separate himself from Robby, Daniel later comes back to Robby and tries to mentor Robby to a similar path given by his former sensei, Mr. Miyagi. However, Robby seems to get the worst of the relationships, as he feels betrayed by both sides and is sent down the wrong path, finding a new sensei in the corrupting influence, John Kreese.

Overall, this series is worth watching, whether you’re a fan of the Karate Kid trilogy or someone looking for a good show to watch. The numerous references to past movies, growth in relationships, and exploration of each side and going deeper into their motivations and past makes the show an interesting watch. Even the high school rivalries between the students of each dojo allows teenagers currently in high school to relate to the show in a personal way. At the time of writing this review, there are currently only 3 seasons to watch, however there are only 4 days until the premiere of Season 4, which only looks to improve on its previous seasons.

-Lawrence B.