TV Review: The Defenders (2017)

After I watched the show Daredevil on Netflix, I found this show suggested to me by Netflix, and decided to give it a try. However, it not only featured the famous Daredevil/Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) but also the heroes Luke Cage (Mike Colter), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), and Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones). After I finished each of the following shows and had an idea of who each of these heroes were and the plot leading up, I watched the series. Although it told the story from multiple viewpoints and seemed a little fast at times, I really enjoyed the show and believed that it deserved a second season before its untimely cancellation by its owner at the time, Netflix.

The story takes place in New York, as each of these heroes face a common enemy in The Hand, a villainous organization that fought Daredevil and Iron Fist prior to the series and desired one thing above all — immortality. The stable consisted of the leader Alexandria Reid (Sigourney Weaver), Bakuto (Ramon Rodriguez), Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho), Murakami, Sowande, and Elektra (Elodie Yung) as they stormed New York, which held the key to their goal. As their plan involved the destruction of New York, these four heroes united to protect the city that they lived in and swore to protect.

Each hero faces their own conflict in the series caused by the Hand. Elektra turned out to be Daredevil’s lover who died fighting the Hand alongside him and became resurrected and manipulated by Alexandria to join and fight for the Hand, which burdened Matt and motivated him to try to bring back the Elektra that he knew. Danny faced a plane crash that killed his parents and nearly killed him before he became rescued and trained by a group of monks to earn the Iron Fist, a weapon earned by killing a dragon – before he learned of the Hand’s role in the crash. Luke Cage witnessed as Sowande forced Harlem boys to partake in illegal activities for the Hand and even killed off any potential threats to the organization. Jessica Jones failed to help one of her clients, who was worried about her husband as he helped the Hand in their business and died at the hands of Elektra, unbeknownst to his wife.

Despite the Hand threatening everyone whom the four heroes loved, the Defenders manage to overcome the Hand and save New York from mass destruction — at the price of a tear-jerking sacrifice and a heartbreaking end sequence. As the final episode came to an end, each of the heroes’ upcoming season storylines became teased and introduced before the end credits rolled.

Although the organization of the seasons to watch was very confusing at first, I still enjoyed watching the show very much and definitely recommend this show to anyone, especially Marvel fans. This show, along with the shows of the four heroes, are streaming on Disney Plus after being transferred by Netflix. It can be watched at any point, however, to get the best experience, the recommended order of the show is to start with Daredevil Season 1, then Jessica Jones Season 1, then Daredevil Season 2, then Luke Cage Season 1, then Iron Fist Season 1, and then finally getting to The Defenders.

TV Show Review: Running Man (Korea)

Running Man Korea is a reality-variety show from South Korea that started airing in July 2010. The show airs every Sunday evening in Korea, and currently has 645 episodes (as of March 12, 2023). This is the longest running Korean variety show as it has been going on for more than 10 years. The current members are Yoo Jae-suk, Jee Seok-jin, Kim Jong-kook, Ha Dong-hoon, Song Ji-hyo, Jeon So-min (joined on episode 346), and Yang Se-chan (joined on episode 346).

In some episodes of this variety show, there are no guests so there will only be the members who will complete certain missions and games in order to win the race. Then some episodes have guests that came from different work backgrounds, some are actors, comedians, pop idols, sport players, etc. Those who win the race will receive prices, while those who lose will receive penalties.

The first time I got to watch an episode of this show was when my sister introduced it to me in 2016. I clearly remember that I got super hooked on watching past episodes (with English subtitles) of the show online during the summer of 2017, and I still remember how I couldn’t stop laughing because of their jokes and how they complete the missions. There are even episodes wherein there is a “spy,” so they need to find out who it is. I stopped watching the show when school started that year, but continued to watch the newer episodes in summer 2021. After summer 2021, I stopped watching again when school started, but currently, ever since January of this year, I spend some of my break/free time watching the newer episodes.

I could say that from the moment I first watched the show until now, the thing that didn’t change was the fact that the members (as well as the guests) and the show overall never failed to make me laugh out loud. The show is evidently not scripted, so you will get to see genuine reactions and interactions of the individuals within each episode, especially whenever they carry out games. I have recommended this show to different people, and they all replied that the show never disappoints! Moreover, it has personally helped me brighten up my day, most especially when I suddenly feel down. For all the people who are fond of watching reality or variety shows, I highly recommend watching it!

Alex Rider TV Show Review

Alex Rider is a 2 season show that features a typical teen, Alex, in London who lives with his uncle Ian and a housekeeper. Alex spends a lot of his time with his best friend, Tom. They sneak out to parties, have movie marathons, and go to school together. Tom aside, his uncle has taken him on excursions throughout the world and has taught him a random assortment of skills. However, Alex insists that Ian is the most boring person ever because he is a banker.

When Ian is killed in a car accident, Alex begins to question everything. He follows his gut instincts that are telling him that his banker uncle followed the rules way too often to ever being involved in a car accident. In the midst of his denial, he pieces together that his uncle is a member of the Department of Special Operations. He then has a scary encounter with the head of these operations and is recruited into the agency. It’s not that he wants to be part of it, but he ends up having to by force. The agency wants him because they need a bright, young teen to enter and scope out a mysterious school, Point Blanc. Located in the far-flung French Alps, Point Blanc educates the troublesome kids of rich elites to become respectable citizens. But not everything is as it seems; Point Blanc is hiding some sinister secrets, and although entering the school may be easy, leaving requires a different topic of discussion. This show then follows the infiltration of Point Blanc. 

The true plot doesn’t begin until the fifth episode, but this doesn’t mean that the first few episodes aren’t boring. Just when you think you have the plot figured out, new complications are constantly introduced. It gives the audience a background and builds up to the infiltration. Then, the seventh and eighth episodes are when the show starts to become thrilling and adventurous.

The eerie Point Blanc Institute adds a strong sense of depth and a sci-fi vibe to the show. I personally loved the show and especially the finale. I would understand why it can be hard to stay interested in the first couple episodes because you want to cut to the chase, but since the show is only 2 seasons it should be a quick show to binge. Personally, I love shows that I could never predict. In the beginning the show had that typical spy show feel, but as it went on and the audience got to know Alex, it felt new and kept me on the edge of my seat. I was always being surprised and trying to figure how new plot twists would change the ending. However, these plot twists aren’t overwhelming. It doesn’t feel like you are being bombarded with random curveballs because the producers cannot come up with anything. The plot twists are seamlessly implemented. Overall, I would rate this show an 8/10. It is definitely worth watching, especially for the ending. I would recommend this to anyone who loves sci-fi and mystery.

-Kaitlyn Y.

The Alex Rider book series by Anthony Horowitz, on which this show is based, is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Treasure Planet Movie Review

Disney’s Treasure Planet isn’t the newest movie but it definitely is still super enjoyable. Over holiday break, I decided I wanted to watch Treasure Planet again; besides, I had basically forgotten what it was about. It was a great decision; the characters, the animation, the dialogue, everything I just loved. It truly is an underrated masterpiece.

Treasure Planet, inspired by Treasure Island, came out in 2002. The story is set in space on the planet Montressor, and follows Jim Hawkins, a clever teenage delinquent, eager for an adventure and to be seen by the world. One night, an old pirate gives him a mysterious map that reveals the path to Treasure Planet; the very planet that Jim has read about since he was young. It is said to contain all of Captain Flint’s spoils. With the help of Dr. Doppler, a family friend, Jim sets sail with Captain Amelia and her crew, working in the galley with John Silver, the crew’s cook. Jim not only hopes to go on this adventure but he also hopes to bring money back to help his mom. 

There is a lot to say about this movie, all of which are good things. To start: the characters. Jim had an amazing character arc. He started as naïve, stubborn and a troublemaker, without ever meaning to. He was an adventurous person throughout the whole movie, but he changed himself to make that adventure into something good and not something that could hurt himself and others. Once Jim finally went on his first adventure, it finally broadened his horizons to see what he could look forward to in the future, changing from stubborn to open minded. Going on this adventure helped him face the realities he didn’t see before and disciplined him into a true leader with a new personality. Watching the movie and seeing him change like that was really amazing. Another character I found had a pretty cool character arc was John Silver. Despite him being the cook, he had some other plans which I won’t get super into for spoiler’s sake. But despite having ulterior motives, he grows a bond with Jim like he has never had, softening them both up. Seeing their relationship grow made me think of ‘Found Family’. Silver acted like he could be one of Jim’s parental figures, and he is even compared to Jim’s dad in the film. It was really wholesome to see that relationship and how it played an important part later in the film.  

Some other things I wanted to talk about were the dialogue, animation and plot in general. The plot was great, of course it was based off of one of the greatest adventure stories, Treasure Island. Despite never having read or seen it, this movie makes me want to take a look. The animation was very good. The action scenes were very well done and entrancing. It had tension and was pretty intense at times. The dialogue was very fun, with jokes, lots of emotion, and overall really good. 

One final mention is the music. The music and entire soundtrack for Treasure Planet was spectacular. Whether it was the backing music in particular scenes or Jim’s theme, “I’m Still Here” by John Rzeznik, the music was a pleasure to listen to. 

Treasure Planet was a fantastic movie and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for something fun to watch or needing to pass the time, or really any scenario. It is super underrated and more people should at least check it out. One place you should be able to find it is Disney+, so if you get the chance, have the time, Treasure Planet is a great film to watch.

-Nicole R.

Treasure Planet  is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Movie Review – Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish

Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish was directed by Joel Crawford and Januel Mercado and released on December 21, 2022 by DreamWorks Animation. Rated PG, the movie is a sequel to the original Puss in Boots movie that was released 11 years ago, in 2011.

The star of the show is Puss in Boots, a spry and adventurous cat, originally from the “Shrek” movie world. Played by Antonio Banderas, Puss in Boots realizes that a bounty hunter Big Bad Wolf, played by Wagner Moura, is out to get him and that he’s on the last of his 9 lives. Puss makes a new and unexpected friend in a chihuahua hiding in a cat rescue and again finds his former rival and now girl-cat love interest Kitty SoftPaws, played by Salma Hayek. The 3 set off together to find the Wishing Star, thought to have the ability to restore Puss’ 9 lives. What ensues is a tale of adventure and overcoming obstacles as the trio make their way through fairytale lands in sometimes hilarious and sometimes frightening scenarios.

In my opinion, this 1 hour and 40 minutes is time well spent, especially if you liked the original Puss in Boots. While it is rated PG, there does seem to be some uproar from parents of young children not expecting the Big Bad Wolf to be, well, quite so big and bad and frightening. But overall, it was everything you expect from a tale of Puss in Boots in a fairytale world full of adventure and excitement. The outstanding graphics animation from DreamWorks never disappoints. It was even nominated for an Oscar at the 2023 Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film, so go see it before March 12, 2023, so you can decide for yourself if it was money well spent on a Saturday afternoon.

Avatar: The Way of Water

This is the long-awaited sequel to the first Avatar movie. Set about 15 years after the original movie, it follows Jake Sully, Neytiri, and their kids. Their eldest son, Neteyam, who often tries to protect his younger siblings, and their adopted daughter, Kiri, born from Grace’s Avatar. She is able to feel the presence of Aywa during her daily life, and attracts many of the different creatures on Pandora. Jake and Neytiri’s second son, Lo’ak, who wants to prove himself, and their youngest daughter and child, Tuktirey. There is also Spider, the human son of Colonel Quaritch who was born on Pandora. From a young age, Spider was constantly running away from the human base on Pandora to be with the Na’vi.

In this movie, humans return to the world of Pandora for another attempt at winning the habitable moon. Among these is the newly-created Avatar re-creation of Colonel Miles Quaritch, the main antagonist who died in the original movie. Using his stored memories and DNA, scientists were able to re-create Colonel Quaritch to lead their efforts once again. With the same memories and uncaring, merciless personality as the original antagonist, Colonel Quaritch’s re-created Avatar is truly a threatening presence on Pandora.

I really liked this movie because of the storyline and the realistic rendering of the world of Pandora. However, I did not really like the ending because certain parts of it could have been better. Overall, it was a great sequel to the original Avatar movie and I am excited for the next Avatar movie.

-Peri A.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Movie Review

For my brother’s birthday, he decided he wanted to watch the new movie Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. I went straight into this, having no idea what was going to happen, only knowing that it was a dedication to the actor, Chadwick Boseman. The movie had its fun parts but overall, it was extremely emotional. 

Right off the bat, we see Shuri and her mother, Queen Ramonda who are mourning the loss of the brother and son, T’Challa, the Black Panther. In mourning, they both take a mother and daughter trip as a new character is introduced, Namor. He is a merman that can fly and is the leader of a Meso-American tribe. They possess a great deal of vibranium which the rest of the world wants. Namor hopes to get help from Wakanda to protect his people and to go to war with the rest of the world. If they refuse, he won’t hesitate to also take down both the world and Wakanda.

This movie was a rollercoaster. At times, there would be some really nice, fun moments. However, more than half of the movie was very sad and grim. Shuri has a hard time grieving and accepting the loss of her brother. She shows great character development as she learns to live with the loss of family members while also deciding on her morals. The cause of her growth is Namor. While being Shuri’s villain, he has good intentions. Marvel has always been good at making great villains. I found Namor to be a good person and good leader, but the execution of his plans made it difficult to side with him. While I empathize with Shuri, I could also do the same with Namor. The personality of these characters and who they are really presented well. 

The plot of the movie overall was very well paced and pretty easy to understand. Everything is pretty clear and is explained. The visuals were very impressive and pleasing to look at. As per usual, Marvel is amazing with their aesthetics and storyline. Something I did find interesting though, was how fast it went by, at least for me. There were some portions I wish I got to see a bit more of and some characters I wish had more screen time. I wanted to see a bit more growth in character relationships whether it was with another character or places a character was at. It would have been cool to see a bit more of how Namor’s underwater kingdom works and I really wanted to see more of Shuri and a new character work together while creating a deeper relationship. 

While I long for some more details and more time with certain characters, the story was still great and had me even tear up. I can’t help but wonder what will come next for Shuri and I especially can’t wait for whatever Marvel has in store. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was a really good, sad movie that I would definitely recommend.

-Nicole R.

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.