Rise of Gru Movie

Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, and Despicable Me 3 all follow similar storylines where the main character Gru and his minions fight other super-villains, whether it’s for the safety of the world or for selfish reasons. However, in the newly released movie Minions: The Rise of Gru, there’s a different plot where 11-year-old Gru is trying to prove that he can be a successful supervillain. After being rejected by the Vicious Six villain group, Gru steals their most valuable treasure and becomes their target. When an independent supervillain, Wild Knuckles, finds out about Gru and his robbery, he kidnaps him with the hope that Gru’s minions will pay him the ransom of the special jewel, which is also the treasure Gru stole. 

This movie was, and probably will be for a very long time, the funniest movie I have ever seen. Having the minions in the movie already guarantees some high-level comedy, but the way the movie was planned to include silliness every few minutes constantly kept me laughing! 

Not only was this movie hilarious, but it was also a great movie in general. There were numerous plot twists, but also some sad moments, which were followed by humorous ones. In this movie, Gru, despite being a youngster, showed his potential to be an incredible super-villain (which he eventually achieved in Despicable Me). Also, after partnering with Wild Knuckles, Gru learns how to be a true villain and discovers his aspirations for his career. 

I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who enjoyed the Despicable Me series. However, you don’t need to have watched the previous Minions movies to enjoy this movie. If you like to laugh, I suggest you give this movie a try! You won’t be disappointed!

Breaking Bad Series Review

Breaking Bad, created by Vince Gilligan, follows Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a financially distressed chemistry teacher recently diagnosed with lung cancer. His wife, Skyler White (Anna Gunn), is pregnant and their teenage son has cerebral palsy. In fear that he will not be able to support his family, Walter partners with his former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in order to cook and sell methamphetamine in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. To keep his identity and family safe, Walter adopts the name, Heisenberg when engaging in criminal activities. Additionally, Walter’s brother-in-law, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), is a DEA agent committed to finding and arresting Heisenberg.

The western crime drama spans over 5 incredible seasons. Originally starting as a dark comedy, Breaking Bad quickly becomes a serious, depressing series as each of the characters descend further into a criminal lifestyle. Many of the characters have a ton of depth, and Walter, himself, is one of, if not the most complex characters in television history. While parts of the show can seem a bit slow, it is still very engaging as the tension is amplified throughout. Furthermore, the show isn’t prolonged, giving the audience an amazing ending.

While Walter and Jesse often have the same goal, their characters are very different, giving the audience multiple perspectives on the events going on. Although many of the duo’s actions aren’t justifiable, it is hard not to follow their journey. The show also introduces some other famous characters like Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), and the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). In fact, the lawyer, Saul Goodman, has his own television series called Better Call Saul which is currently ongoing. The themes of family, sin, and power are all expressed beautifully as we follow the flawed character of Walter White.

While this show may not be for everyone, I highly recommend it. Breaking Bad has had a major influence on television and has created other amazing spin-offs such as Better Call Saul and El Camino. It has won a plethora of awards and all five seasons are available on Netflix.

-Kern M.

Breaking Bad is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Capybara Video Evaluation

Capybaras are rodents that come from South America and thrive in tropical weather. They are considered to be the world’s largest rodent, and can weigh as much as an adult male. Do not be deceived by their size however, as they are very friendly! They love interacting with humans and even other animals; they have been known to interact and be social with dogs, birds, ducks, and other animals. Capybaras are very social creatures, and they thrive in packs of between ten and forty capybaras. The best part about capybaras is that they are very cute, and like all cute animals, there are a lot of online videos about them. Every single capybara video out there is amazing, but there are a couple that stand out to just be the best.

Back in September of 2014, YouTube user Crazy Cody’s Creatures uploaded a video titled “Capybara eating an Ice Pop“. As the title suggests, it is a 1 minute video of a capybara consuming a red popsicle. This video is great because the feeding process of someone’s pet capybara is documented, and a great angle of the feeding is shown. Not only is this video educational, but it is also very entertaining! The capybara eating the popsicle is very entertaining on its own, but half of the popsicle breaking and falling to the ground 24 seconds in just makes it so much more enjoyable. However, a main criticism of this video is that the video ends before the capybara finishes eating the popsicle. Because of this minor setback, I would rate this video a 9/10, would watch again.

Two years later, in December 2016, the same YouTube user uploaded a video titled “Capybara eating half a watermelon Full Video“. The video starts out with a minute-long time lapse of the entire feeding, followed by the feeding in real time. For nearly half an hour, the viewer gets to enjoy the sight and sounds of a capybara consuming a massive watermelon. That watermelon looks delicious!!! However, looks can be deceiving. Assuming that the video was uploaded shortly after it was recorded, it can be inferred that the Capybara ate the watermelon in a winter month. The problem is that watermelon is a summer fruit, and tastes best in the summer. Because of this, we know that the watermelon that the capybara ate in the video does not taste very good, which personally bugs me a lot and makes me sad. Consequently, I would rate this video a 3/10 because it violates ethical considerations through giving a happy capybara a sad meal 😦

The last video I will analyze today is a video titled “Capybara with mandarin orange on head みかんを頭にのせるカピバラ 伊豆シャボテン動物公園元祖カピバラ露天風呂 MAESTRO ZEN” from November 2018. It is a video of a group of capybaras swimming with oranges. This video is awesome because they decided to have the capybaras swim with a fruit that was buoyant, meaning that the oranges would not sink. If the oranges sank, then the capybaras would feel lonely and sad, since the fruit would likely drown. But since the oranges float, the capybaras are happy and content, which can be seen in their energetic swimming. Some would argue that they are swimming with a pretty poor tasting fruit. Although I personally would disagree, as oranges taste very good, it is evident that not a single orange is actually consumed by a capybara, so the orange-haters have no valid argument. Ending off on a high note, this video is a 10/10, and it is necessary for people to see this video some time in their life.

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.

Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick

When I watched the first Top Gun a few years ago, it was really good, especially because of the sadness and excitement that came with it. However, I was blown away after I saw Top Gun: Maverick. This review may have some slight spoilers, so read at your own risk. Enjoy!

Top Gun: Maverick is the sequel to the movie Top Gun, which came out in 1986, and starred Tom Cruise as young pilot Pete Mitchell, aka Maverick, and Anthony Edwards as his friend Goose. Maverick takes place a while after the events of Top Gun and explains where Maverick currently is in his life, and how he is dealing with the death of Goose.

Maverick (Tom Cruise), having stayed a Naval Captain while his friends from the pilot program Top Gun rose in ranks, is introduced as a test pilot for a new scramjet plane project. He gets a call telling him to return to Top Gun as a trainer for a new batch of pilots enrolled in the program. One of these pilots, Rooster (Miles Teller), is his late friend Goose’s son. Maverick sees Rooster and it only reminds him of his best friend and everything they did together. Goose, however, isn’t best friends with Maverick and holds a grudge towards him as Maverick had pulled Rooster out of the program before to protect him. As Maverick starts teaching the class and preparing them for their new mission, a dangerous and risky test of skill that only a crazy pilot would be able to fly, tension between Rooster and Maverick grows, and stakes rise even higher.

I absolutely loved this movie. It was mind-blowing how they pulled off a sequel to a movie almost 30 years later, and a good sequel at that. The original Top Gun movie didn’t need a sequel, at least not in my opinion, but now that I’ve seen it, I am so happy they made it. It was filled with thrilling action scenes, amazing cockpit views of the flights, and it was just a roller coaster of action and emotion. Not to mention the actor choices. Miles Teller was a great choice for Rooster, and with Tom Cruise returning as Maverick, things only got better from there. The movie also introduced some new faces like Hangman (Glen Powell), Phoenix (Monica Barbaro), Bob (Lewis Pullman), Payback (Jay Ellis), and many more. Also, the pure skill of the piloting was amazing! Some of the flying scenes inside the F-18 cockpits were real and seeing how Tom Cruise has a piloting license, it amazes me how skilled these actors really are.

Overall, this movie was great, and I would highly recommend watching it, but only if you’ve seen the first Top Gun. So, next time you’re looking for a good movie to watch, try watching Top Gun: Maverick. You won’t regret it. Thanks for reading!

-Brandt D.

The Galactic Starcruiser Hotel

I recently got back from a family vacation, where we visited the Disney parks in Orlando, Florida. As a grand finale for our trip, we stayed at the Galactic Starcruiser.

For those who don’t know, the Galactic Starcruiser is a Star Wars themed hotel where you can role play as either a rebel, a scoundrel, a First Order supporter, or a Jedi Knight. The more you interact with the characters in the hotel, the more plot is revealed to you. The main plot that everyone knows is that you are all on a space vacation ship called the Halcyon. Everything seems normal onboard, but a First Order lieutenant is commanded to join the passenger on the Halcyon to monitor it for rebel activity.

From there you can either choose to join the side of the Resistance or the side of the First Order. You can also play both sides and be a double agent, leaking information to the other side. In addition to your initial choice, you can train with the Saja to become a Jedi, join Raithe Cole’s gang of scoundrels, join Sandro’s musical group, or help two mystery characters make a love connection.

While I loved this experience very much, there are a few things that I would change about it.

First of all, the plot is too centered around the Rebellion. What I mean by this is that most of the activities onboard are for the rebels; like secret meetings, a heist, and defending the ship from the First Order. There are also two surprise rebel guests that come about, who you won’t want to miss.

Secondly, it’s too hard to join the First Order. There are only three First Order characters you can interact with; Lieutenant Croy and two Stormtroopers. Only Lieutenant Croy is able to give you missions, and he is incredibly hard to contact. Over the course of a full day where I was actively looking for him, I only saw him roaming the hotel about three or four times.

Finally, I think that there should be less big plot lines and more small ones. By this, I mean that there should be more side quests to fill time. On the Starcruiser, there was one main plot that moved very quickly and was really hard to keep up with, so I think it would be better if there were small chunks of plot that intersected towards the end.

Though I would have changed a little bit about the Starcruiser, it was definitely an unforgettable experience. The characters were all great and friendly, the decorations were amazing, the food was very creative, and it had really impressive modern technology. If I have the chance, I’ll definitely go back again to try another path, but in the meantime I’d highly recommend it for you all!

A Critique of Eternals (2021)

Cover image for ETERNALS / produced by Kevin Feige, Nate Moore, Juan Cano Nono, Andreas Wentz ; screenplay by Chloae Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, Kaz Firpo ; directed by Chloae Zhao.

Since the dawn of time, an eternal war has been waged across the universe: the Eternals, immortal aliens gifted with abilities to stop the Deviants, monstrous creatures who seek only death and destruction. Earth has been one such battleground for these two groups, and for millennia the Eternals have protected the seeds of humanity and allowed them to flourish into a thriving modern civilization. However, with the return of the Deviants, the Eternals are forced to come out of hiding and into the light to protect the Earth one last time.

This is the premise of Eternals, a 2021 film that is arguably the first film to really be a part of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), since it seeks to connect the past with the present, providing a new structure for the MCU as well as teases for future storylines. Unfortunately, it is this emphasis on the future that weakens the present film itself, leaving viewers looking forward to the new additions to the MCU rather than enjoying the film.

This is partly due to the sheer number of characters introduced in the span of a two and a half hour film. There are ten main Eternals in the movie, and it is difficult for the casual viewer to commit to memory each name, face, and power, especially since some of the characters have incredibly similar and trite powers, like lasers or super strength. This endeavor is quickly rendered futile, though, since half of the major characters are killed off within the first hour of the film.

The audience’s inability to connect with the characters on the screen diminishes every aspect of the film. The surprising plot twist would have worked better if it wasn’t shown primarily off-screen. The romantic aspects of the plot were awkward and at some points distasteful to watch. The Deviants, supposedly the big bad villains of the movie, were almost completely written off by the end of it.

All of this is to say that, in my opinion, Eternals was one of more flawed movies of the MCU, rivaling Thor: The Dark World, however strong of a comparison that may be. In the end, the weak plot was spread far too thin, leaving viewers unsatisfied with the entirety of the film. As a dedicated Marvel movie-goer, I hope that future MCU films do not make the same mistakes as Eternals did.

– Mahak M.

Eternals is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog is without a doubt one of the most popular and well known video game characters. He is a fast, funny, and blue hedgehog. What’s not to love about him? Sonic made his big screen debut originally in September 2020. Two years later, Sonic found himself on the big screen again in the sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which hit theater screens in the United States on April 8, 2022.

The film stars Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Tails, a fox who has two tails and aspires to be as cool as Sonic. Together, they take on Jim Carrey as Dr. Eggman and Knuckles the Echidna played by Idris Elba, who are trying to take control of the Master Emerald. With the power of the Master Emerald the person who controls the emerald has the ability to turn thoughts into reality. The movie revolves around Sonic and Tails trying to track down the Master Emerald before Dr. Eggman and Knuckles get to it.

I really enjoyed this movie. I loved the interactions between Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and the humans. I liked the story for the most part, but there were some loose ends and pointless scenes revolving around the humans that took up about 40 minutes of the already long 2 hour movie that wasn’t even part of the main storyline. I think this part really could have been tightened up a bit. I did, however, really enjoy the CGI battles between Sonic and Knuckles, and the way they showed Sonic’s speed compared to the other characters.

Overall, I would give this movie a thumbs up and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who just wants to see a fun, lighthearted movie with friends or family.

-Brandon G.

Book vs. Movie: Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Castle Book 1) - Kindle edition by Jones,  Diana Wynne. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three daughters, which is deemed as “most unlucky”. Over the years, she’s accepted that she won’t have a fun, lavish future like her younger sisters, so she becomes content with being holed up in her family’s hat shop, trimming lace and styling bonnets.

However, everything changes when the Witch of the Waste visits the shop and curses her to become an old lady. Desperate for a solution, she hikes her way to the infamous “moving castle”-belonging to no other than the soul-eating wizard Howl. Here, she strikes a deal with Calcifier- an evil fire demon- hoping he can lift her curse.

Along the way, Sophie discovers that the wizard is not all he’s said to be and that maybe there’s more to herself than she thought.

I discovered the book Howl’s Moving Castle shortly after I watched the movie adaptation by Studio Ghibli, and neither disappoint. They both capture the essence of a world that’s both modern and magical in their own ways.

The main difference between the two is that the Studio Ghibli movie follows a slightly different plot, as do most movie adaptations. The concept of Sophie being the eldest-and therefore, prone to failure-is almost completely eradicated, focusing more on how her looks are subpar and modest compared to her sister. Although, this ends up tying in well with the movie’s altered story, as it is a story of self-acceptance, I was sad that this major plot point didn’t get included.

Howl's Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki, Chieko Baisho,  Emily Mortimer, Christian Bale | DVD | Barnes & Noble®

There were also characters that didn’t make it into the movie, such as Sophie’s sister Martha and Howl’s family that resides in the mortal realm. While I was disappointed to find this out, Studio Ghibli makes their adaptation work in it’s own way, using their staple “ghibli-magic” to create a version of the story that’s lovable and great to watch, preferably on a rainy day. And of course, as always, the animation is stunning.

Despite their differences and minor plot changes-and the watering down of Howl’s oddly lovable snootiness- the movie adaptation does an excellent job of capturing the story that Wynne-Jones wrote so magnificently.

-Luxy B

Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne Jones is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive. The Miyazaki animated film can also be checked out from the library.