Film Review: The Grinch (2018)

Recently, I saw the new remake of The Grinch, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Now, I have to admit that Cumberbatch was one of the main reasons I decided to see the movie since I have been a big fan of his for some time, but I was also curious to see what the movie industry has managed to come up with since the iconic Jim Carrey version. I was not in the least bit let down.

This remake was, I daresay, a cinematic masterpiece. Not to be dramatic, but every aspect of it went beyond my expectations. It was funny, emotional, and the Grinch himself was ridiculously relatable. I’m going to do my best to keep this review devoid of spoilers, but I can’t make any promises. I’m not usually a fan of themed stories, but Dr. Suess’ works lit up my childhood, and The Grinch has always been one of my favorites.

First of all, I adored the advertising for this movie. The producers’ slogans were aimed directly at millennials and Generation Z. Now, I am part of the infamous “Gen Z,” so I found all the publicity absolutely hilarious, and have been drawn to the movie because of it.

Furthermore, the movie itself enraptured me. Some of my favorite bits were (SPOILER ALERT!!) Cindy Lou Who loyal group of friends, Frank the reindeer’s adorable family, and the Grinch’s Christmas gift for his dog, Max. Also, I really appreciated how there was a narration throughout the movie, and that it was made up of lines from the original book by Dr. Suess, How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Overall, this remake of The Grinch was, in my opinion, absolutely fantastic, from the advertising to the little details within the movie itself.

-Arushi S. 

Avengers 4: Endgame Trailer

Recently, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were hit by two trailers for upcoming films within the same month. Disney’s Marvel released the trailers for their upcoming films Captain Marvel (2019) and Avengers 4: Endgame (2019). Endgame, being the final addition to the multi-million dollar project that is Marvel’s The Avengers, is the slightly more anticipated film.

The first trailer for Avengers: Endgame was released on December 7, 2018, and as of today (December 25, 2018) has acquired 75,832,393 views on YouTube alone. The first frame is the iconic helmet donned by Iron Man, which would have a happy and excited connotation if it were not for the condition of the helmet. As Tony Stark reaches out to the disembodied helmet of his prized Mark 50, the viewer notices that both the piece of technology and Stark himself appear battered and bruised.

Stark begins recording a message for his girlfriend, Pepper Potts, who also runs Stark Industries. He asks tells her not to feel guilty about his impending death: Tony is stuck in the Benetar, the ship used by the Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War. Stark explains that he ran out of food and water four days ago and that oxygen will run out in a day. He gives a heartfelt message to his love back on Earth, telling Pepper that he will dream of her as he drifts off. As he ends the recording, the frame transitions into the classic logo for Marvel Studios, but with a gut-wrenching twist: it fades into dust, imitating the results of Thanos’ snap.

The scene transitions to the suit worn by Thanos in Infinity War. Thanos appears in the frame, but only partially: the viewer can observe his right hand, with the gauntlet melted to it due to the raw power released by his snap, brushing against the plant life on Titan 2, which is where Thanos retired to after the battle. The frame cuts to the Avengers headquarters in upstate New York, inside of which are Natasha Romanov and Steve Rogers, the latter with tears running down his face. As Natasha does a voice-over explaining that Thanos achieved his goal of wiping out half the universe, the viewer can see Bruce Banner scrolling through pictures of the heroes who are missing, including Scott Lang, Princess Shuri of Wakanda, and Peter Parker.

The frame cuts to another shot of the Avengers compound, then to broken-looking Thor. As Steve Rogers does a voice-over explaining what everyone has lost due to Thanos’ malevolent mission, the video exhibits Nebula running a comforting hand over Tony Stark’s shoulder. The trailer cuts to Clint Barton; however, he’s in Japan, wearing a leather suit, with a katana, which shocks Natasha as she watches him pull off his mask.

The trailer cuts swiftly to Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanov once more, but this time they’re in an airplane; Steve is back in his old suit, and his rugged beard is gone as he opens his old compass with a picture of Peggy Carter inside. Natasha assures Steve that their mysterious plan will work, and he agrees. The frame cuts to the iconic Avengers logo in purple hues, with the word “Endgame” under it. The logo is made up of the metaphorical rubble left behind by Infinity War.

All of a sudden, the screen goes black, and Scott Lang’s voice can be heard, asking is anyone is home. The footage that matches it appears, and Scott Lang seems to be asking someone to let him in as Steve Rogers comes into the frame and asks if the footage is recent. Natasha Romanov appears beside him, saying quietly that this footage appears to be from the front door of the compound. The image of the Black Widow’s face fades out as the screen goes black except for one word: April, which is when the highly anticipated movie will be released.

-Arushi S. 

Film Review: Aquaman

This past week, my family and I went to go see the new movie Aquaman. For me, I personally enjoy Marvel movies better than DC movies (in my own opinion, not everyone has to agree). However, this movie was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Jason Momoa, the person who plays Aquaman played the part perfectly.

The movie starts off with Arthur Curry/Aquaman’s parents and how they met. His father, Thomas Curry, was human while his mother, Atlanna, is Atlantean making Arthur half-Atlantean. Because he is only half, the people of Atlantis reject him and call him the “bastards son”. From a young age, Arthur is trained by Nuidis Vulko, Atlanna’s loyal advisor so that one day, he might have a chance at ruling Atlantis.

Throughout the movie, Arthur’s skills are continuously tested as he faces things from spiteful half-brothers to revenge-filled humans to creepy creatures under the sea. However, he is not alone. Alongside him is Mera, daughter of King Nereus of Xebel, played by Amber Heard.

I am not going to spoil the movie so you’ll have to watch the movie to find out what happens next.

The plot of the movie is great, however it lacks comedic relief in my opinion. Despite this, everyone portrays their characters well and there is not any awkward or unnatural acting anywhere which is a plus!

I recommend this movie and is great to watch as a family.

-Phoebe L.

Film Review: Gladiator — When Rome Comes Back to Light

“There was a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile.” ― Marcus Aurelius

What was Rome like? Based on all the historical texts and books we read, and the movies and videos that we watched — extravagant and grandiose couldn’t be more pertinent here. In the magnificent villas surrounded by luxurious furnishings, rich men and women in crimson, indigo, and saffron yellow silk tunics were served with cornucopia and exotic dishes. Servants and singers chanted carmens and played tibias along with Roman poetry written by Virgil, Horace, and Ovid. A Roman bath at the end of the day and away from partying lives would be more than one could ask for…

Maximus Decimus Meridus made Rome’s march to victory against the barbarians possible.  He brought prosperity and glory to Rome and the Empire. Yet, the greatest General of the Roman Empire had not even set foot in this Xanadu once in his life. He was out on the battlefields when Commodus, the son of the Emperor, hid in the carriage. It was not because of Maximus’ bravery and excellence in war that earned him the trust of the man in purple, but it was his heart for the people that ‘persuaded” the emperor to give him Rome.

He declined. All he ever wanted was to return to his family. He turned his back from this beautiful city, the fruit of his accomplishment.

But…it was too late…

Fate seemed to detest a hero who did not follow the conventional path. No one would have thought Maximus would eventually enter the gates of Rome invited by vengeance. Sold as a slave who is “a father to a murdered son and a husband to a murdered wife, Maximus became a gladiator. Driven by intense grief and the desire for revenge, he fought his way to most grandeur fighting pit in all of history only to discover the truth about himself and Rome.

The reality was antithetical. Under the facade and the rule of a tyrant, daily lives of the people were casted over with a shadow of suffering and fear.  It is till then that Maximus understood why Marcus Aurelius trusted him instead of his very own son. The emperor’s words of responsibility, “To give power back to the people of Rome and end the corruption that has crippled it. ”

The story of Maximus’ return of power to Rome is intertwined with trust and betrayal, hope and despair, as well as love and camaraderie. Rome is the light of the world, but it can be dimmed if misruled. Is Maximus truly the one to bring back and turn on this light?

The ending is very sentimental (not going to spoil anything, just my personal feeling). But Maximus Decimus Meridus will be forever known by time as the general who became a slave, the slave who became a gladiator, and the gladiator who defied an emperor.

There was a dream that was Rome. It was light.

-Kate L.

The film Gladiator is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Event Review: The Phantom of the Opera

This past month, my band class played The Phantom of the Opera at our Fall concert and must I say, was it a big hit! In order to prepare for the music piece, we also watch the live musical that was performed at the Royal Albert Hall. The “opera” itself is absolutely amazing. The vocals, the dancing, the acting, the string music, and the costumes–everything about the musical was breathtaking.

The musical was based on the 1910 French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux. It is basically about an opera house in Paris that is essentially “haunted”. As they are rehearsing for an upcoming play, the backdrop wall falls down frightening everyone. What does not help is that the owner of the opera house suddenly retires… Hmm, that seems a bit suspicious does it not?

The main soprano and star of the play Carlotta storms off the stage in fury as the directors do not seem to do anything about it. Carlotta is soon replaced by Christine Daaé, a chorus girl who is taught by her “Angel of Music” who is actually the Phantom of the opera house who lives under the opera house (creepy isn’t it).

Then everything from that point on goes hay-wire. The opera house continues to have suspicious occurrences because of the Phantom which scares everyone off. Eventually, the Phantom gives up terrorizing the opera house, and everyone continues on with their lives and everyone lives happily ever after.. or so they think so.

The musical is absolutely amazing even though it is slightly creepy. If you enjoy fantastic  singers singing to amazing music, I recommend the musical

-Phoebe L.

School of Rock Movie vs. Musical

Both the movie and play School of Rock is about a guitarist Dewey Finn who has been living off of his friend Ned who is a substitute teacher. Ned’s girlfriend gets annoyed that Dewey keeps living off of them and tells him that he has to pay rent or get kicked out. So he poses as Ned to become a substitute teacher at Horace Green, an expensive well known school. Instead of teaching his class normal things, he teaches them about rock and roll, turning them into a rock band to preform at the battle of the bands which Dewey hopes will earn him some money and be his breakthrough.

Both the movie and the musical were very good and where very similar. The movie, which was the original had a couple classic rock songs in it, which I really enjoyed. I actually enjoyed the movie even though I normally don’t like children’s movies. It was different then everything else I had recently seen. It was really nice seeing something that was different then every generic movie that has been coming out. So, even though it is 15 years old it is still a great family friendly movie.

I saw the musical first and when I saw the movie pretty much the same story line, which I liked. Because, it meant that the musical adaption of the movie didn’t take to many liberties and didn’t completely change the meaning of the story. Though, the musical did have some differences, it was obvious that it was purely just to make it work as a musical adaption. They had also added some modern day jokes and themes into the musical which kept it interesting. It was also nice that they had kept some of the original songs from the movie as well as adding some originals. They also had all the kids playing their instruments live which was cool to see.

Overall, I really enjoyed both the movie and the musical. Though the entire story is a bit childish and dumb. It was different and I liked that. I would totally suggest seeing the movie and the musical if you have a chance. I found it as something that was just kind of fun to see.

-Ava G.

Film Review: Sierra Burgess is a Loser

This teen rom-com movie was released on Friday, September 7, 2018. This movie can literally make you die from laughter one minute and cry in another. A basic rundown is that there is this girl named Sierra Burgess, played by Shannon Purser. She is an insecure yet empowering young women. One day she gets a text from a random number which she soon finds out that it’s from the most popular guy of her rival school, Jamey (played by the one and only Noah Centineo).

Sierra ends up catfishing Jamey and doesn’t tell him who she really is. This leads her down a long path of having to tutor the most popular girl in her school Veronica who also low-key bullies her in the beginning, lying to Jamey, her best friend Dan, but most importantly, herself.

The next part is sort of a spoiler so don’t read this next part: Jamey ends up finding out that Sierra was the one who was catfishing him and is so shocked that he demands that both Sierra AND Veronica stay away from him. In this process, Sierra also loses her best friend Dan (who is one of THE best characters in the movie.)

Sierra ends up making a song for Veronica called “Sunflower” which is basically an apology to Veronica for embarrassing Veronica in front of the whole school.

Overall this movie is super entertaining and has great messages behind it. I totally recommend this movie. It’s out now on Netflix.

-Phoebe L.