Film Review: Avengers: Endgame

As all of you probably know, Marvel Studios just released the record-shattering finale to the ‘Avengers’ movie series. It is the only film in history to make over $1 billion in its debut, breaking the record previously held by its prequel, Avengers: Infinity War. Furthermore, it broke the record, which was also previously held by ‘Infinity War,’ for most money made opening weekend in the United States. It managed to score a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an A+ on CinemaScore. Needless to say, this movie was groundbreaking and has definitely scored a place in the cinematic hall of fame.

I don’t even know where to start with this movie, but I can warn you that there will be spoilers in this review. I think I’ll begin with the groundbreaking female empowerment exhibited in the film. It’s been well known that women will play a strong role in the next movement of Marvel’s plotlines after the release of movies like ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Captain Marvel.’ But ‘Endgame’ really went above and beyond in this area- there was a moment during the final battle which I loved. Spider-Man questions Captain Marvel, and all of our favorite female superheroes, such as Shuri, Okoye, Gamora, Nebula, Pepper Potts, The Wasp, Scarlet Witch, and Valykrie, rally behind her. The movie also touches on core female character from the past, such as Frigga and Peggy Carter. Additionally, Marvel gives Natasha Romanov a beautiful heroic send-off, with Clint Barton and Wanda Maximoff paying respects to her sacrifice.

To add to the wonder of the movie, the story-line was perfect. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed and cried at the same time. One of my favorite pieces of the movie was Tony Stark’s new family. He married Pepper and had a beautiful daughter. I have wanted to see Tony flourish as the perfect father he never had for what seems like forever. Even though Tony ends up dying after using the infinity stones to defeat Thanos’ army, I cherished the scenes featuring the Stark family. Additionally, I loved the character development for Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner, and Thor. Steve finally opened up and let loose, starting a post-snap therapy group and letting loose a little bad language here and there. Bruce Banner finally came to terms with his other half, introducing Professor Hulk to the MCU and becoming an instant sensation with the Avenger fanbase in New York. Thor’s development, on the other hand, was not exactly positive. The viewer sees him spiral after the immense losses he has suffered- the deaths of his brother, mother, father, and half his people. He has become a drunkard, pot-bellied and lazy. The viewer finally sees the hidden side of Thor, the one he always covers up with his relentless positive attitude.

Overall, I thought this movie was perfect and served its purpose (to transition from Phase 3 to Phase 4) excellently. I would really recommend seeing this movie to Marvel fans, since you do need some background to understand what is happening. However, if you have not seen the movies, I would suggest that you do, just so that you can understand this one. This movie was absolutely amazing, it satisfied me and made me feel all sorts of wonderful feelings.

-Arushi S.

Movie Review: Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel actually exceeded my expectations. I went into the movie thinking that it would be extremely hyper-feminized in a way where it would actually take away from the movie especially, because of all the controversy surrounded the main actor Brie Larson. However, this movie did represent feminism in a way that was not annoyed and seemingly forced unlike many other movies that have been coming out recently. Which was nice. It showed the empowerment of women but did not push the idea so much that it took away from the movie.

The movie was by no means amazing or anything revolutionary or new. But, it was a pretty good average superhero origin story. It had some good actions scenes mixed in with an okay story line. Though nothing was truly that originally or different from any other super hero movie that has come out. There was a pretty cool plot twist which, I am not going to ruin which did make it a little bit more interesting. But, many of the main concepts where just like any other movie, the main character gets in a battle, looses, so then she goes back and finds her roots and all of a sudden she is a lot stronger. It is nothing new.

Overall though, the movie was entertaining and it was nice to see a woman taking a lead role in a superhero movie and showing the empowerment of woman and what they can do. It was cool to see that women where being represented in action movies and not just romance movies. The actions scenes where also very well done and the music chosen for the movie was amazing.

This movie is a great one to see to just pass some time and have some fun with friends or family. It is enjoyable to watch and is relatively engaging. I would suggest this movie to anyone who just wants have to have a movie night with others.

-Ava G.

Film Review: Aquaman

I recently went and saw Aquaman, and walked into the theater with the mindset that it would be just like all the other Marvel movies, super dark, a lot of action, a little storyline and some comic relief. And, this movie finally broke that formula though, it wasn’t necessarily anything that seemed that original. But, it was more of a fluff movie than some of the other recent and extremely dark Marvel movies that had been coming out like Avengers. So, it was nice to have something different that was slightly less dark with a little more storyline.

In essence, the movie seemed pretty typical. A forbidden love between two worlds with a child that has to bring the two together. And, of course, the child at first does not want to but, in the end, decides to try to save the day. So, the storyline is pretty much predictable. Though, the actions scenes where cool and the special effects throughout the entire movie were extremely well done.

This movie is the perfect movie to go and watch and turn your brain off. It is entertaining without much substance. But it provides a nice break to just stop thinking. I would suggest as a movie to go out and see with your friends and family to just have some fun. Since it is more of a light fluffy movie than a typical dark Marvel movie, you can finish the movie and not have that air of darkness and instead, it leaves you with a happy humorous mood. So it is great to just have some fun.

-Ava G.

Theater Review: Dear Evan Hansen

The Tony-winning Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen is currently on tour around the US, and I was lucky enough to snag tickets for a show in Costa Mesa. I had already listened to the soundtrack more times than I could count, but I was ridiculously excited anyway. Dear Evan Hansen is one of my favorite musicals of all time, and it is the second musical ever that I have seen live. And, let me tell you, it was a treat.

This musical addresses one of today’s biggest issues: teen suicide and anxiety. The main character, Evan Hansen, has extreme social anxiety, and his therapist tells him to write positive letters to himself. However, when he prints a failed version one of these letters (it was very pessimistic) out in his school’s computer lab, Connor Murphy, a fellow student, snatches it from him and shoves him. Later, the characters find that Connor has committed suicide, and they find Evan’s letter in his pocket. They think that the letter is Connor’s suicide note, addressed to Evan, and them Evan and his family friend, Jared, get dragged into a huge mess of lies and deception. Evan and Jared write fake emails to Connor to “prove” that they are friends, and they start a huge project to spread awareness for Connor’s death. Evan even gets together with his long-time crush, Zoe Murphy, who also happens to be Connor’s sister.

However, nothing this perfect can last, especially if it is based on a lie. Evan’s mom finds out about the Connor project and how he has been spending almost every night at the Murphys’ home. The whole charade falls apart, Evan eaves the Connor Project, and he and Zoe break up. Although he and Zoe do make peace at the end of the musical, I was still in tears throughout the entirety of Act 2.

Although the soundtrack was very differet from the actual live musical, both are thoroughly enjoyable. Dear Evan Hansen is one of my favorite musicals of all time for its storyline and beautifully written characters, and seeing it live is not something that I will ever forget. This musical is truly fantastic, and I would definitely encourage seeing it if possible.

-Arushi S.

Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment

Titanfall was a great game, winning over 60 rewards at its 2013 reveal, but Titanfall 2 was definitely was a step up. Titanfall 2 was nominated  for multiple year-end accolades including Game of the Year and Best Shooter awards, by several gaming publications. Just talking about Respawn’s success with Titanfall makes it sound like a good game! Trust me, it gets better.

Titanfall 2’s high success was due to its captivating campaign mode and its various online multiplayer modes. Titanfall 2’s many online modes put it above its first game. You can play Free for all, capture the flag, and attrition just to name a few. You play as a pilot, being a pilot gives you a massive variety of guns and abilities. You have sniper rifles, shotguns, and automatic guns. You can also grapple buildings, run on walls, and turn invisible!

Running and jumping around as a pilot is only half of the game, the other half you play in a titan. Titans are giant mecha-style exoskeletions that will crush the battlefield.  If you played the original Titanfall, you would know that there was only one titan you could play as. In Titanfall 2, you have seven different titans to chose from! But I’ll say no more, so I don’t spoil the game for you.

One final thing that separated Titanfall 2 from Titanfall was its single player campaign mode. In campaign, you play as rifleman Jack Cooper. He hopes to one day become a pilot of a titan. And he becomes a pilot of titan BT-7274, but in a way he did not expect. Together you switch between Jack Cooper and BT-7274 as you try to stop the IMC. I enjoyed the campaign adventure a lot. It has great a great back round and has great storytelling. Plus you get to do things that you would never be able to do in multiplayer.(E.g. traveling in time!) But I’ll let you play the game to find out on your own. This is definitely an FPS you should consider getting. Five star game.

-Brandon D.

Audiobooks for Shakespeare

My AP Literature class just started reading Hamlet by Shakespeare and I have come to realize how audio books can help. Like all Shakespeare plays, Hamlet’s language is difficult to read at best and sometimes people cannot understand what is going on in the story. My class read the first scene in school and my teacher played the audiobook while we read. This made it much easier to understand.

Not only are you able to grasp the tone of the situation as performed by the readers on the audio book, but voice inflection and use of the complex, old words allows for an enjoyable read. I went home and downloaded the audio book off of Amazon so that I could listen and read at the same time for homework, and it truly makes a difference.

The audio book downloads right to your phone as well so you can take it with you wherever you go. I use the Archangel audio book if anyone would like to know. I have never used an audiobook before, however I can say for sure that I understand Hamlet, and actually enjoy it as well now.

-Kyle H.

Want Shakespeare on audio? Downloadable titles are available on Overdrive and Hoopla.

Film Review: Mary Poppins Returns

I was utterly ecstatic when I heard in 2017 that there was going to be a Mary Poppins sequel. My excitement tripled when I heard that it would star not only Emily Blunt, but also Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton, In the Heights, and 21 Chump Street, three of my all-time favorite musicals. So one could say that I had a lot of anticipation for this movie.

However, I was not without my doubts. I was afraid that this new sequel might not fully capture the magic that was definitely present in the first film. Perhaps, I thought, they might use modern special effects to create real-looking penguins for Mary Poppins to dance with. Now, while some would not mind this type of movie, it would ruin the film for me, as the animations in the original Mary Poppins are part of what makes it so special to me.

Yet the movie was perfect. The producers kept the animations of old, and, while there were a brand new cast and an entirely new collection of voices, the spirit of the soundtrack remained the same. They even managed to get a hold of Dick Van Dyke and Meryl Streep for a special appearance. I cried, I laughed, and I related to many of the characters. The plot was fantastic, and while I will try not to spoil, the resolution that Mary Poppins and Jack came up with was the cherry-on-top of the film for me.

Overall, this movie couldn’t have been better, and I strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t already seen it to go do so right now. The beautiful London scenery, the enticing plot, and the cheerful characters are guaranteed to give Mary Poppins Returns a special place in your heart.

-Arushi S.