Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

In the opening scene of the movie, Wakandan King T’Challa is about the die from an illness. Meanwhile, his sister Shuri is in the lab racing to find a cure before he dies. However, she is unsuccessful, and her mother soon comes to inform Shuri of her brother’s death. A year passes, and Shuri is still unable to accept this loss, as a new threat emerges: an underwater people led by Namor. Namor is the leader of the Atlanteans. While Wakanda’s advanced technology would enable them to defeat any other countries on Earth in a battle, the Atlanteans have many similar technologies to Wakanda. For this reason, the Atlanteans are possibly the only people outside of Wakanda which could actually fight against them. As Wakanda remains threatened, Shuri will be forced to face the grief from her brother’s recent death to ensure her country survives the battle with the Atlanteans. To do this, she must discover how to do what she couldn’t before to save T’Challa; Shuri must recreate the heart-shaped herb, which Killmonger burned down in the previous movie.

In this movie, while Shuri, Okoye, and Nakia are still main characters, Riri Williams, also known as Ironheart, is introduced. 

Originally, I didn’t think this movie would be that good due to Chadwick Boseman’s death in 2020, but after seeing it I think that this was actually a great movie. I liked the plot and there was a good backstory for the villains of the movie. Overall, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was a great movie and I would recommend it to Marvel fans or just those who enjoy action/adventure.

-Peri A.

My Favorite Christmas Movies

Watching Christmas movies bundled up in fuzzy blankets is one of my favorite winter break traditions. There are always a few Christmas movies that my family and I watch every year, and I thought it would be fun to share them. Here are my favorite family friendly Christmas movies:

The Muppet Christmas Carol. While this movie sounds silly and even childish, I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. The Muppet Christmas Carol portrays the characters of Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ in a fun way that I’ve never seen before.

Elf. I feel like every Christmas lover has already seen this movie, but if you haven’t, I would definitely recommend it. It’s such a fun movie with so much energy, and it satisfies my aggressive kid urges every time I see it. When I saw Buddy the Elf eat his spaghetti with maple syrup, let me tell you, it changed my life.

8-Bit Christmas. This movie actually came out relatively recently, but my family and I have seen it at least five times. It gets a laugh out of me every time, too! This movie is very reminiscent of the 1980’s movie, ‘A Christmas Story Christmas’, although in my opinion, better.

I hope you’ll like these movies, if you haven’t already seen them, and if you have any Christmas movies you want to share, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

The Muppet Christmas Carol and Elf are available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special: Review

My brother is the real Marvel fan of the family, but my mom and I watched the holiday special of Guardians of the Galaxy with him anyway. Although I’ve missed a good amount of Marvel films and the ones I have seen I forgot a bit about, the premise of this special was very clear and easy to understand. I had fun with it; it was mostly a comedy and mainly just a cheerful holiday film. 

Yondu, like the Grinch, ends up ruining Christmas for Peter Quill (not really). Set after Avengers endgame, Quill is sad without Gamora, Mantis makes up her mind to make Quill happy and to save his Christmas.  In order to do that, she and Drax make their way to Earth to get a Christmas gift; the one and only Kevin Bacon. Mantis and Drax take a fun trip to Earth while also successfully capturing Kevin Bacon. Quill is however not too pleased with the idea of human trafficking. Despite having not been too thrilled to have been kidnapped and taken to space, Bacon decides that he’s going to teach Peter and the rest of the people on Knowhere what Christmas is and what it’s all about. In the end, Peter didn’t really need to meet Kevin Bacon to be happy, but instead he and Mantis just needed to learn a little about who they are. 

I liked this special being only 44 minutes long; short and fun. It was mostly focused on Mantis and Drax, and I personally would have liked to see more of the other guardians but, Mantis and Drax are a great comedic duo and definitely had great moments. Despite being entertaining, some parts of the special were not what I expected and not my type of thing to watch. The middle of the film was pretty entertaining and the end was just as good. However, there were portions that were just not my kind of comedy and didn’t appeal to me, making me feel bored and awkward at some points. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out what audience they were trying to target, because some of the jokes and dialogue felt like they were for kids, but some scenes were more targeted towards teens. Even though there were some things I didn’t enjoy as much as others, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is really just a simple, feel-good film, something that should just be a quick watch along with other holiday shows and movies, and something to enjoy with your family. 

Overall, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special was fun to watch and had some good moments that got me to laugh, but it wasn’t my exact cup of tea when it comes to comedy. I still think it was enjoyable just not my type, but I would still encourage people to take a look at it and give it a try, because the acting is great, plot is nice and simple, and it is a good film to watch for the holiday season. 

-Nicole R.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Animated Movies

Many people know the hit book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, written by Jeff Kinney. It’s a cult classic among playgrounds and elementary schools alike. Chances are that you, yourself, have read at least one of these books.

Then, in 2010, the first live-action adaptation came out. Grossing over 76 million dollars, it became a hit, spawning two more movies soon afterwards. There was also The Long Haul of 2017, but we’re not going to speak of that. Instead, I would like to focus on our star, Greg Heffley’s, newest adventure. 

The animated movies.

It started on December 3rd, 2021. The movie had been teased for a while beforehand, but it was that simple day that the world saw its true colors. 

The movie follows the same general plot of the first book, as our protagonist, Greg, makes his way through his first year of middle school. Greg is a scrawny, “wimpy” kid (hence the name of the book series), looking to ascend the ranks of the school hierarchy. With his best friend Rowley by his side, plenty of wacky antics ensue. Sounds fine, right?

Until you actually watch it. 

For some, these movies were seen as cheap ways to make more money off of a well-known brand. Many find the animation to be a significant step-down from most content of Disney+, where the movies are available. With the first one standing just under an hour, and the second one just over, people have suggested that maybe it should have been a short film, or even a TV show. I personally am happy with any new addition to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid universe, but I can see where many people are coming from with their critiques. What do you think?

The Strangers

If this movie doesn’t scare you then I don’t know what will! I personally have a strong love for any sort of horror/thriller films. I love anything and everything Horror related! The strangers is the perfect movie if you’re looking for something scary but non-paranormal. What truly sends chills down my spine is how it’s based off a true story. There were no ghosts involved and no sprites. Just real people who’re capable of re-acting the same crimes that once took place in that very house. Its terrify to me how they’re are people out there who have evil mentions.

In this movie you’ll soon see what I mean by this. It all starts at night. The couple are having a date night. Once they arrive home they’re both extremely tired. The finance who proposed to the woman has to go out and run some errands real quick. The Woman got angry that the finance was leaving her alone. She wanted him to stay with her. She felt uneasy. The finance managed to calm her down. He left. The woman then got lonely. She was wandering around the place they were staying.

Light footsteps. The sound is so faint. She spins around yet nothing is to be found. The paranoia doesn’t stop there. I hate to spoil such an amazing film for you all, but I have to warn you to always watch your back. As the homeowner noticed someone got in. Who? Where? How and when?

Why are these people targeting this specific house? Or is there a sinister reason behind it all. People aren’t who they seem? The scariest part of it all is not fiction whatsoever. Its based off of on couple. Who had little to no clue what would go down that very night. I wish you the best luck when watching. Moral of the story: Never answer the door for those who’re unknown. It can easily lead you to nothing but trouble. Or a traumatic death.

Never let your guard down. You never know who may be lurking.

Top Gun: Maverick Movie Review

Top Gun: Maverick, the long awaited sequel to the legendary Top Gun movie, has finally debuted after 30 years. Top Gun: Maverick once again stars Tom Cruise as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, set 30 years after the first Top Gun movie. Top Gun: Maverick was extraordinary and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. I wasn’t exactly super attached to the first Top Gun movie, but  was encouraged by my family to see Top Gun: Maverick with them. I had watched it a day after the opening of the movie, not really knowing what to expect, but after watching the movie, it blew any expectations I had out of the water. The cast was full of great picks and the characters made an impact. The story had my attention immediately and never once lost me. I stayed attentive throughout the whole thing and couldn’t turn away easily. 

Top Gun: Maverick first introduces us to Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, who has now been flying and serving in the Navy for more than 30 years now, and is called back to United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, or better known as Top Gun. Maverick is asked to become an instructor for a group of Top Gun graduates to get them ready to go on a near impossible mission, which makes everyone wonder if anyone would even make it out alive. As the pilots train for the mission, Maverick rebuilds his relationships, and learns to accept the past by overcoming his fears. He does whatever is in his power to make sure that this mission and everyone’s life doesn’t blow up into smoke.

Top Gun: Maverick included something that I had never felt in a movie before. The suspense had my heart pounding in my chest, my mind unable to tell what would be coming next. Even the minor plot twists would either give me stress or relief. I felt incredibly attached to the characters and I felt as if I really knew them. Every second of the film is essential to the plot or to Maverick’s character, and it doesn’t ever feel as if there is a filler scene. Even if there had been a filler scene, it was filled with entertainment, leaving me in no way bored. There was tension and suspense, but there were also heartwarming times, heartbreaking times, and witty, humorous moments scattered throughout the film which developed the plot and developed the characters. 

Each character had their own special quality, whether it being timid, arrogant, confident, or funny, these are all qualities that can be found within each of the characters, old and new. Despite there being only two of the past characters, Maverick and Iceman (Yes, it’s really Val Kilmer!), they still hold their previous character’s charm and personality within them. The new characters are definitely not a let down, and are actually pretty interesting characters. I do, however, wish that we had more time to spend with each character and to learn about each of them a bit more. I would’ve liked a bit more insight with each character such as, who they are, relationships with each other and each of their backstories; just to fill in some plot points that I feel were missed.

I hadn’t been a huge Top Gun fan before this movie came out, but now you can definitely count me in when it comes to Top Gun. If I ever get to, I’d watch the original and sequel back to back just to get the full experience and to appreciate it even more. There are a couple of call backs from the first Top Gun movie so if you were thinking of seeing Top Gun: Maverick, I’d definitely recommend watching the first Top Gun movie to get the full experience. Top Gun: Maverick easily won a spot in my heart, making it an unforgettable movie for me, also placing the entire franchise in general on a higher pedestal than I had it on before. If you ever have the chance to see Top Gun: Maverick, I’d highly recommend that you do. It is an amazing movie, with amazing people in it, and I couldn’t be happier to have watched it. 

-Nicole R.

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.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Movie Review

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has been out for a long time, but I wasn’t too interested in checking it out. Don’t get me wrong, it looked like a great movie, I just wasn’t interested in watching movies at the time. One day, my parents put it on and I decided to sit down and watch it. When I sat down to watch, I didn’t know what I was expecting. Marvel movies always have a way of surprising me. I usually have no idea what I’m in for when I start a Marvel movie. This time, Marvel introduced a completely new character to me. I had never seen or heard the name of Shang-Chi (despite him being in the Marvel comics), and I had no idea what the ten rings were. Despite these factors, I had a good time watching the movie.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings follows the story of Shaun. Shaun is a seemingly normal individual; he works as a valet driver with his best friend, Katy. Stuck in their teenage delusions, they continue to live their life normally, until a group of shady individuals attack them both on their bus to work. Shaun figures out that these individuals are a part of his father’s group, the Ten Rings, and he makes it his mission to go find his sister. In hopes to find and help his sister, Shaun and Katy go to China, only to get himself and Katy into more trouble. Him, Katy, and his sister have to deal with larger problems than just Shaun’s father’s organization, and along the way, they uncover more secrets. 

In the end, Shang-Chi was a great movie. I had a lot of fun while watching it; the action scenes were wonderful and well done, and there were times where they gave me a good laugh. Like most marvel movies, the music completely enhanced the scenes and made the action so much better. I enjoyed how fast paced the movie felt, and even by the end, I wanted more. The movie felt short, despite it being over two hours long. The fight scenes had remarkable choreography and had a great sense of timing. It didn’t feel too fast that I couldn’t understand what was happening, but it wasn’t too slow that it felt boring. The slow downs within the fights were a nice touch and gave me a little more time to breathe. However, I did feel as if there was more action than dialogue. Most of the dialogue was needed for the story to continue, and somewhat impactful. The dialogue was mostly to show who the characters were and to move the story. Every now and then, there would be some quips, and some small jokes that I would chuckle at, but overall, I felt as if there was more action than dialogue. But considering it’s a superhero action movie, it would make sense.

Although not knowing anything going into the movie, I found Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to be a great movie and I am quite excited to see these characters in future Marvel movies. I can’t wait until they interact with more characters from the Marvel universe, and to see what other problems they encounter. This movie is definitely a fun one to watch and I would recommend it to people who enjoy action and to even just try it if you don’t.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

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.

Thor: Love and Thunder

In Thor: Ragnarok, Hela destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. During Avengers: Infinity War, Thor creates a new weapon: Stormbreaker. Eventually, Jane Foster, Thor’s ex-girlfriend, develops cancer. While attempting to create a cure for herself, she discovers she is worthy of wielding Mjolnir. Thor is off-planet helping the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight other villains across the galaxy. One of these, Gorr, is plotting to kill every god, as he believes they are all selfish and do not deserve to live. He decides to set a trap for Thor in New Asgard, hoping to lure Thor to his own death. Jane also shows up wielding a (mostly) repaired Mjolnir and fights against Gorr with Valkyrie and Thor. It is soon revealed that every time Jane uses Mjolnir, her cancer treatments are reversed. In other words, the more Jane uses Mjolnir, the more likely she is to die. Despite this, Jane hides it from Thor and joins him in his battles against Gorr. 

Meanwhile, Gorr is trying to get to Eternity at the very center of the universe. According to a legend, the first one to find Eternity will have one wish granted to them. Knowing what could happen if Gorr gets to Eternity first, Thor, Jane, and Valkyrie are in a race against Gorr to get to Eternity first and ensure Gorr does not.

Overall, there was a lot more humor in this movie compared to other Marvel movies. I felt that this made the movie more entertaining to watch, but also subtracted a little bit from the more serious scenes at some points during the movie.

– Peri A.