Film Review: The Shining

The Shining is a horror movie about a man named Jack Torrance and his wife and son. Jack and his family stay at an isolated, massive hotel called the Overlook Hotel. Jack plans to spend his time at the hotel writing, attempting to cure his writer’s block. The Shining is based on a book written by Stephen King. The story slowly evolves as Stephen King’s character becomes an abusive and manipulative man towards his family. The audience realizes that Jack is mentally ill and his family is not safe with him staying at the hotel. Originally, it is perceived by the audience that Jack had been at the hotel before and he was not mentally ill. Jack’s son played an extremely important role in this movie because he was connected to the hotel through a concept called “shining.” He becomes apart of an alternate universe and communicates with a voice inside of his head. Originally, it was inferred that the son was the one that was mentally ill; however, the voice inside of his head was really trying to protect him and his mom from his father. The hotel was portrayed as a haunted building with no way out. Small clues such as the massive pantry and freezers with locks foreshadowed the scene when the mother locks Jack inside the pantry.

Throughout the movie, Jack plays mind games with his clearly oblivious wife and manipulates her into leaving him alone while he writes. One scene was particularly disturbing in which the wife finds Jack’s book that he had been writing while they were at the hotel. It is revealed that Jack was not actually writing a book and the papers were filled with the same sentence over and over again, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The movie the Shining transformed from a story about a family staying at a hotel by themselves to an alarming and captivating film about Jack Torrance’s disturbing mind and past at the hotel. His wife and son no longer felt safe at the hotel anymore and ran from him and hid from him until they got away. This movie displayed the disturbing effect of mental illness and how you never know who a person really is. The way Jack chased his family around the hotel and kept drifting in and out of the alternate universe kept the audience attentive.

-Sasha B.

The Shining is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.

Film Review: Wonder

Recently, I watched the film Wonder which is told through four points of view: Auggie for most of the movie, his older sister Olivia, or “Via”, her friend Miranda, and Jack Will, a boy that will be revealed later on. The story is about Auggie who has a facial deformity. Because of this, he was homeschooled his whole life. However, his mother thinks that since he’s going into the fifth grade, which is the start of middle school, he should attend a public school. Before school starts, he meets Julian, Charlotte, and Jack Will. Finally, the first day of school rolls around. However, it doesn’t go too well for Auggie since all the kids avoid him like the plague. Soon, he becomes friends with Jack Will.

Auggie’s favorite holiday is Halloween. It’s his favorite holiday because he can wear a costume where no one can see his face. The day before Halloween, Auggie tells Jack that he’s going to dress up as Boba Fett. But, his dog Daisy threw up on his costume, causing him to reuse an old Ghost Face costume. However, a secret ends up being revealed causing Auggie to freak out at school and having to come home. He’s so upset that he even doesn’t want to go trick or treating. His sister ends up convincing him to go by giving him some of her candy. Throughout the movie, Auggie is tormented mainly from Julian and his “gang”. Some of the things were seriously messed up like photoshopping Auggie out of the class photo!

As the movie progresses on, we see the different obstacles everyone faces, like a loved one passin and someone’s first main role in a play.

This film has some great laughs, friendship, some romance, and some tears. This movie changed the way I see the world and how I see others a little. If you’re looking for a great movie to watch, I recommend the movie, Wonder. On second thought, read the book first, because the books are always better than the movies (sometimes).

-Phoebe L.

Book vs. Movie: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

He’s battled dragons, fended off numerous Dementors, and even faced He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named multiple times in the flesh. Harry’s been through quite a lot for a sixteen year old boy, and now he is entering his sixth year, nearing the end of his time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

This year is different though. As it is now known publicly that an infamous dark wizard is at large once again, the quest to defeat him once and for all has become ever more imminent. Dumbledore begins showing Harry what he knows about Tom Riddle’s past in the hopes that it will help him understand how this dark wizard must be defeated. However, much of it is speculation and guesswork based on the memories that Dumbledore has procured over the years relating to Tom. Unfortunately, a vital piece of information is still missing, and Dumbledore assigns Harry to retrieve it.

As if this were not enough for Harry to worry about, he still has to fulfill his role as captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and all the stress that comes with recruiting new members, cope with the increasing amounts of work they’re being assigned for classes, deal with Ron and Hermione’s intermittent bickering, and pursue his hunch about what Draco Malfoy might be up to.

As with all the other books in this series, I really love how J. K. Rowling so seamlessly intertwines so much humor and thought into such a complex story line. Though the danger of an extremely skilled and dangerous wizard is constantly looming about, Ron is still there eating and making snarky remarks, while dealing with his own problems having to do with girls. Hermione, too, is always there to keep Harry and Ron on top of their school work, and even often correcting their papers.

I think this book is amazing, as all the others are, and I’m always laughing out loud at what the characters do and think. I always have to tell myself before I watch a movie that has been adapted from a book that they can’t keep every single detail from the book and put it in the movie. It’s just not possible, especially with this book which is about 600 pages long. Keeping this in mind, I have to say that I really enjoyed the movie. I think that the director did a great job at choosing what to put in the movie and what might not have been as relevant (of course, being a huge fan of the book, I’m inclined to think that everything is relevant, but again, it would be impossible to keep every single detail). I think that the movie definitely sticks to the main story line and includes all the necessary information needed to understand the plot.

But the wish is always in the back of mind of being able to watch a Harry Potter movie in which every single detail from the books is preserved. Even if it were five hours long (or longer), I would still watch it – over and over again probably.

-Elina T.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Film Review: A Dog’s Purpose

When I heard out that this book had been made into a movie, I knew I had to read it. So there I was, checking the book out of the library and I was completely hooked the second I started. I have always loved dogs and the way the author, W. Bruce Cameron, wrote this story is just fabulous. I have no idea how he could write this heart-warming tale from a dog’s point of view so well and accurately! It amazes me, and sometimes I wonder that maybe he is part dog!

“All dogs go to heaven, unless they have unfinished business here on Earth.”

The main character is a dog that has been reincarnated four times! The dog comes back each time because he is trying to fulfill his purpose. Basically, he is seeking “a dog’s purpose in life” in his different reincarnations.

In the dog’s first life, he is born as a stray mutt named Toby. His mother has warned him to beware strangers, that man is not to be trusted. However, after getting severely bitten by a malicious dog, Toby lives a tragically short life. But the story doesn’t end there. In his second reincarnation, he is a Golden Retriever named Bailey, a purebred retriever. He is sold, and finds a loving home with a boy named Ethan and his parents. Bailey loves his boy Ethan, and they spend almost every moment together, their bond inseparable. They also love to play the game Rescue Me, where Bailey jumps into the lake to save Ethan.

In his third life…he’s a girl. He’s a German Shepherd named Ellie, ready to save and to Find people and rescue them. She realizes that this is similar to rescuing Ethan, and does her job and saves many lives until her own ebbs away. And in his final life, he’s a male again, this time a black Lab named Buddy. Ethan is now an old man, and Buddy is determined to be with his boy once more. He treks a long way, and he finally finds Ethan in the town that he once knew, and he realizes nothing changed much. Buddy also finds an emptiness inside of Ethan, and decides to bring him his old girlfriend, Hannah, hoping that will fill up the void of emptiness. The two get married, and Buddy realizes that he has truly fulfilled a dog’s purpose.