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.

Movie Review: The Batman

Where to begin? There is so much to talk about with this movie! Batman is one of DC’s most well-known heroes, and one of the darkest. His storylines are filled with crime, mysteries, and murder, with amazing plots and great illustrations. But let’s talk about the topic of the day: the movie.

At first, I have to admit, I was skeptical. Robert Pattinson, the actor who plays Batman/Bruce Wayne, is a great actor, no doubt about it, but it was hard to see the man who played Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as the Dark Knight. However, I was blown away. The movie was incredible, and I think he did an amazing job at playing Batman. Director Matt Reeves wrote a great story, and it fits together pretty well for a 3-hour movie. Though a bit confusing at times because of all the past references to Gotham’s past, the movie is filled with intense fighting, suspenseful scenes, and overall phenomenal acting by Robert Pattinson and Paul Dano (Riddler).

At the start of the movie, we see the mayor of Gotham watching the election on his tv, and talking on the phone. The Riddler, a darker and more sadistic version of the green-clad puzzle maker you may have seen in the comics, is revealed to have been there the entire time and murders the mayor. Leaving behind a set of clues for Batman to follow, the Riddler goes on to kill members of the police force and other high-ranking officials who are “corrupt” and don’t stay loyal to the citizens of Gotham. Teaming up with Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz) and Commissioner Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), Batman solves the puzzle and uncovers an underground operation that could spell the end for the entire city.

As I said before, I really enjoyed the movie and it kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire thing. I think the directing, acting, and storyline are great, and can’t wait to see the movie again. I would definitely recommend this movie to any DC fan, or just anyone who knows a little bit about Batman. Thanks for reading!

-Brandt D.

Film Review: The Batman

*Spoiler Warning Up Ahead For The Batman Movie*

The Batman. Probably one of DC’s most known character. When someone says DC I immediately think of Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Superman. Batman was always my favorite because it goes to show that powers don’t make you a superhero.

Fear is a tool. And when that light hits the sky… it’s not just a call. It’s a warning.

The Batman Movie (2022)

The Bat Signal is what the city uses to signal Batman that crime is afoot in the city and that he needs to try to stop it. The movie starts in the apartment of the ex-mayor, who is having a phone call with someone about the upcoming election. Then after the phone call ends The Riddler, who was there the entire time, murders the mayor. This sets of a lot more events in the movie such as the terrifying murders of more elite members of their society.

He then runs into Catwoman who he teams up with to take down The Riddler. She works at this lounge where the Penguin is stationed at to hide from the cops. She later teams up with him when he goes on a mission to find the Riddler who is killing people around the city.

At the end of the movie Catwoman leaves and Batman goes back to his life, but in the Arkham Jail the Riddler has a conversation with the Joker. I hope this means that there will be a part 2.

Frankenstein (1931) Movie Review

Movie Title: Frankenstein (1931)

Genre: Science Fiction Horror

My Rating: 2 stars

Summary: Henry Frankenstein, a scientist, creates a creature made out of dead body parts. The creature comes back to haunt Henry and kills and terrorizes people in Henry’s life.

Did I like the movie?: I honestly did not like the movie because it was not very exciting. The film did not make me want to keep watching it because you can predict what is going to happen next, even if you have not read Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein novel. If there was more action and suspense in the movie, it would be better. At least half of the film is Henry creating the creature. This meant that there wasn’t a lot of action or screen time for the creature which is the most exciting part! Even when the creature did kill someone, it happened very quickly. I feel the directors of the movie should have brought suspense and gotten viewers wondering what would happen next.

Would I recommend this movie?: I would not recommend this movie to people who have read Mary Shelley’s original novel, Frankenstein. The movie is nothing like the novel. I read the novel first, and then watched the film, and it was a big disappointment. However, if you have not read Mary Shelley’s original novel, Frankenstein, you could watch the movie and think it is really good! However, in my opinion, I think even if you haven’t read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the movie would still be somewhat of a disappointment because the action and suspense were not very exciting.

-Abby V.

Film Review: Marvel Studios’ Eternals

This review may contain spoilers.

Eternals reveals more about the structure of the MCU itself. This movie spans many years, and constantly has flashbacks to reveal more about the immortal Eternals. These beings have lived on Earth for thousands of years and have been present in so many different points in history. They have even seen ancient Rome! After an earthquake, Deviants start emerging again and attacking the Eternals. Ikaris joins Sersi and Sprite as they go to find their leader, Ajak. However, they arrive at her isolated home to find her killed by a Deviant. Sersi is made the leader by Ajak’s final wish. They soon begin to gather the rest of the Eternals so as to be able to fight the Deviants (only to find they have evolved over thousands of years). 

I felt that this movie offers a new perspective on some of the larger events of the MCU. Some viewpoints I hadn’t considered before and facts I hadn’t known were presented in this movie. In addition, I liked the diversity of characters, all of which had very different personalities and powers. There were numerous unexpected plot twists which I felt helped reveal or imply things before the truth came out. Although I generally enjoyed the movie, I felt like it was a little inconsistent with the way it randomly changed time periods. 

I do think that this movie is very important to our understanding of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it reveals a lot of insight about the origins of the MCU and other details of the MCU which had earlier remained mostly unseen. 

-Peri A.

My Favorite Rock Song-Mighty K.C.

I’ve always loved rock music, particularly grunge. The loud, lazy, purposefully incorrect, flannel-ridden music has a special place in my heart. Yet my favorite rock song was released a year after Kurt Cobain died, often called the day grunge died. Yet it serves as an ode to grunge music, and as a reassurance of the future. 

The song is Mighty K.C. by For Squirrels. It was their breakout song, and tragically their only major song as their lead singer, bassist, and manager died in a tour bus accident. In many ways, the song reflects this tragedy and the lives taken before they could reach greatness. 

He lies in an empty room

With his hair burnt to the back

It sure sounds funny

When you say his name like that

Within the first 10 lines of the song, we reach the subject of Kurt Cobain’s death. His suicide is portrayed in these lines, a man alone, with hair burnt to his back. They find it ironic to refer to him in this way when his name meant so much more. To them, he was and will always be Mighty K.C. 

Ship me off to the morgue

I’m ready to be buried

Away down in my bed, bed

And I’m alone without the sun

Please just take one

Here they describe how the grunge movement felt, both in general and after his death. They are suffering, some want to die or copy him, others feel dead and alone suffering from depression in their bed. They don’t have their light anymore, they are without hope.

And by the grace of God go I

Into the great unknown

Things are gonna change in our favor

And if we gather, if we fall

Over the great unknown

Things are gonna change in our favor

Yet despite their struggles, despite the all-encompassing depression, For Squirrels have faith in their future. The world is lost, grunge is lost, but they can escape this unknown. It’s a very optimistic outlook on an otherwise depressing topic. The song becomes a sort of happy grunge, which seems like an oxymoron

100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600

Oh they are found dead, dead

And I am numb from watching TV

100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600

Oh they are just there, there

And I am numb from watching TV

Please don’t break me

This references many events of the time, and many argue what exactly it means. To me, he is referencing how it feels to hear about the many artists and legends who have died. Or the many fans who copied Cobain and committed suicide themselves. It could also simply reference the negativity of television, how it can break our spirits. Yet again it could be referencing the Rwandan genocide that occurred around this time. How hundreds had to watch but could do nothing to stop it, they were just there. Despite all of this they still sing.

And by the grace of God go I

Into the great unknown

Things are gonna change in our favor

And if we gather, if we fall

Over the great unknown

Things are gonna change in our favor

I’ll always wonder what would have happened if God had allowed them to go past the great unknown. Things were already changing in For Squirrels favor, but now they’re just another number, another life cut short on the road to greatness. But their words will always resonate with me. This is why Mighty K.C. is my favorite rock song. 

-Parker K.

Dune and its Iterations

Dune: 10 Biggest Differences Between The 2021 and 1984 Versions
Dune 2021 and Dune 1984

I love Dune or at least two versions of it. My love of it has led me to constantly talk about it, which has caused my friends to ask me what it’s about. It’s a bit hard to answer, I could say “Published in 1965, Dune is a space epic by Frank Herbet that went on to change the face of science fiction.” Or I could say “It’s like Game of Thrones, Lord of The Rings, and Star Wars had a baby, but with a lot more sand.” But if this fails, I use my last resort “The movie has Zendaya and Timothee Chalamet in it” which usually works. 

This is a good thing because I think the 2021 movie is by far the best way to introduce someone to Dune. The movie tackles the first half of the book and introduces you to the world, you learn about the Bene Gesserit witches, the secretive Fremen, the all-powerful Emperor, the powers of Paul Atreides, and most importantly you get to see the planet of Arrakis or Dune. It does all of this while showing you amazing visuals. Through both practical and CGI effects the planet of Arrakis is stunning, a wasteland beaming with possibilities, with hostile giant sandworms that attack anything that moves. The director, Denis Villeneuve does a masterful job staying true to the book whilst using incredible cinematography.

The book itself is a masterpiece of science fiction and world-building. It’s a massive book that’s absolutely jam-packed with details and interesting concepts. At some points, you feel like you’re reading a science textbook when learning about how “spice” is created, or how the Fremen stillsuits retain your body’s moisture. However, it keeps itself interesting by guiding you through the planet through the eyes of various characters. Whether it’s the main character Paul, his mother Jessica, or even the evil Baron Harkonnen, you are constantly interested in how the story is unfolding and what motives are shaping each character’s actions. 

Despite all this praise I have to discuss the awful monstrosity that is Dune (1984). Directed by David Lynch, Dune (1984) was the first attempt at transferring the behemoth book onto the big screen. It fails miserably, the intriguing characters become flat, the massive world seems small, and the science turns silly. All while the directing remains boring with the same transitions being used over and over. Granted it has some awful CGI that keeps it somewhat entertaining. Some scenes from the book remain but most of the movie seems to ignore the book entirely. To Lynch’s credit, the movie was plagued with issues and was supposed to be 2 parts instead of the 1 movie. But in my opinion, this still doesn’t make up for the absolutely awful translation of the book. 

If you want to learn more about Dune I’d recommend starting with the 2021 movie. If you love it like I did you’ll love the book. Be warned that both the book and the movie are long, they have to be in order to explain the world. Chances are the time will fly by while you read/watch it. But whatever you do, stay away from the 1984 version.

-Parker K

Marvel Marvel Marvel, Is it as Good as they say?

Spiderman! Spiderman! Spiderman! Ever since the release of Spiderman: No Way Home, the Marvel fan base has been reignited. The Covid-19 pandemic has put a hold on most production of movies for the last year and a half, nevertheless, this new marvel movie has earned over $1 billion of profit since its release on December 17, 2021. In honor of the new interest in the Marvel Universe, here are my absolute favorites movies.

Along with most of the fanbase, one of my personal top movies is Avengers: Endgame. This movie brought together almost every Marvel character to fight a common enemy. Additionally, the sound and visual effects are immaculate. The images of space are breathtaking and make you feel as if you are alongside the Avengers. Most importantly, it finally tied up a respectable ending to some of the original Marvel Characters including Iron Man and Captain America. Both beloved characters that have been portrayed on screen for over a decade received proper endings.

Another personal favorite is the 2017 film Thor: Ragnarok. If you are a lover of both comedy and action, this is the perfect movie for you. This movie has many lines that will guarantee a laugh from you. Additionally, the movie showcases both strong female and male leads that fight alongside one another. The story follows Thor attempting to prevent the Goddess of Death, Hela, who happens to be his sister, from taking over Asgard. Along the way he gathers the Hulk, Loki and a Valkyrie to aid him. For any Loki fans out there, his more caring side is broadcasted during this movie.

Now back to the big movie going around, Spiderman. Spiderman No Way Home was an amazing movie to experience. For any people who have not seen it, there may be tiny spoilers ahead, read with caution. The new Spiderman movie and end of the trilogy was a masterpiece. It follows up on the revealing of Peter Parker’s identity and the audience witnesses the effects on Peter’s life. Doctor Strange aids Peter during this difficult time along with his best friend Ned, and girlfriend MJ. Just like any other teenager, the stress of college admission is showcased which causes Peter to make many rash decisions that cause major consequences. For any fans of the original Spiderman trilogy or The Amazing Spider Man movies, this movie is a must see. 

If any of you reading are now convinced to watch some Marvel Movies, I advise you to be ready for an addiction that may come!

-Lilly G.

Film Review: Fellowship of the Ring

Want some action? Adventure? Fantasy? This movie has all of those elements! The Fellowship of the Ring is the first of 3 movies that tell the tale of the full Lord of the Rings stories. This movie was inspired by the book The Fellowship of the Ring which is one of the Lord of the Rings novels. This series is the sequel to The Hobbit, so I would suggest you read that book and/or watch the movie before you watch the “Lord of the Rings”. 

The movie starts with Gandalf traveling to the Shire to visit Bilbo for his  111th birthday. Yes, 111th!! To celebrate this special event, the hobbits of the Shire organize a party. Bilbo, who has missed the mountains a lot, decides to leave the Shire with a prank where he becomes invisible using the ring. Gandalf urges Bilbo to leave the Ring for Frodo, but the ring never leaves a good impact on anyone and Bilbo struggles to part with it. 

As Sauron gains power over time, it is up to Frodo to destroy the ring in the place it was created: Mount Doom in Mordor. Frodo and his friends Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took, and Meriadoc Brandybuck all travel together as they escape Black Riders and Ringwraiths. Also, they have to be careful about a former friend who has turned into a foe. Who? Saruman the White, who once was one of Gandalf’s sorcerer and wizard friends. Gandalf the Grey barely escapes his death as Saruman builds an army of Orcs in Isengard.  A small group with Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, Gandalf the Grey, Frodo the Hobbit, Samwise Gamgee the Hobbit, Merry and Pippin the Hobbits, and Aragorn and Boromir the men form the Fellowship of the Ring. They battle orcs everywhere they go, but their connection and fierce combat skills help them through their battles. 

One of my favorite quotes in this movie is from Samwise Gamgee. He repeatedly states, “ I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. ‘Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee.’ And I don’t mean to.” This quote shows what loyalty and friendship are all about. When Frodo is all alone heading to Mordor, Sam decides to stick with Frodo even though he knows that death is most likely behind this journey.

In this movie, sacrifices and teamwork are crucial for Frodo and the Fellowship to reach their goal: To destroy the ring. Even though they have to depart at times, their friendship always shines daylight even through the darkest hours. 

This movie is one of my favorite movies so far because it has action and adventure which I always seek in a movie. The teamwork and friendship that are constantly shown throughout this movie are incredible and inspiring. I rate this movie a 10 out of 10 and I would recommend it to everyone who likes adventure and fantasy movies. 

Also, you can watch and read the other Lord of the Rings movies called The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Enjoy!

Fellowship of the Ring is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Spider-Man No Way Home: Movie Review

Hi! This review may contain minor spoilers for the movie Spider-Man No Way Home, but I will try and contain them from just inside the trailers so if you haven’t seen those you should definitely check them out before reading this. Thanks!

Spider-Man movies have been around for a long time, starting back in the 2000s with Tobey Maguire and in 2012, Andrew Garfield. Now, with his debut in Captain America: Civil War, everyone has been dying to see Tom Holland play everyone’s friendly neighborhood superhero. With two amazing movies already available to stream, No Way Home has a lot of fans on the edge of their seats, waiting for the release date on December 17, 2021. Two trailers have already come out, with the first reaching a world record of 355.5 million views in just 24 hours. The trailers included lots of things for fans to talk about, like the new black and gold suit, Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Jamie Foxx’s Electro, and Rhys Ifans’ Lizard returning on the big screen as Spiderman’s villains in the movie.

In the trailer, we see Peter Parker’s life after Mysterio reveals to the world that he is Spider-Man. His life is turned inside out, and everyone seems to hate him. Because of this, he decides to go to Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum to find help, and Dr. Strange offers to erase everyone’s memory of who Spider-Man really is. Turns out this would mean his friends and family, so Peter tries to stop it, but in doing so ruins the spell and brings villains from different universes into his world. He finds out they all died fighting a different form of Spider-Man. Now he is faced with a choice: Send the villains back to die, or save them but destroy the multiverse in doing so.

I myself have already seen the movie, and I definitely recommend it. The movie is full of funny moments and hilarious dialogue between the characters, and it has a great plotline. The villains are great, especially with the original actors coming back to play their roles in the movie. Along with being funny at parts, it is a serious movie and has some very sad parts that I didn’t see coming. It is funny and emotional, and I can’t wait to see what Sony has planned for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, Zendaya’s MJ, and Jacob Batalon’s Ned. The CGI is amazing and Jon Watts did a great job of directing this film. If you have the chance to see this movie and are a Spider-Man fan, don’t miss it even if you aren’t a fan.

Overall, it is a great movie and I can’t wait to see what else Sony and Marvel include for Spider-Man-related movies in the future. Spider-Man No Way Home is definitely one of my top 5 favorite movies, so anyone reading out there should definitely see it. As of now, it is only in theatres so remember to stay safe! Thank you for reading!

-Brandt D.