Film Review: Gattaca

What if people had the ability of selecting the genes that their child would inherit? Of choosing only the best for their child, the genes that would produce the highest IQ or the longest lifespan? How would you feel if you, someone whose genes are random, were surrounded by people who are…”perfect”?

Vincent’s family didn’t program or alter his genes in any way. After testing his blood when he was first born, they knew that he would die early and had a very high risk of heart disease. Nevertheless, he pursued a career of studying space and the planets, despite his parent’s protests. He realized though, that he’d never be able to get a job with his own DNA. This is why he pretended to be Jerome: the perfect man, by “purchasing” Jerome’s DNA to use as his own.

Jerome’s parents did select his genes. He was “created” so that he’d have an exceptionally long lifespan, and so that he’d be very intelligent. But just because you choose the perfect genes for your child, it doesn’t mean they will be successful in life- it just means they have a better chance at success. In the movie, he said he’d walked in front of a car while he was sober. He must have done that purposefully- he was probably fed up with everyone and how they expected so much of him and chose, with a clear mind, to become crippled.

In the society of this movie, your success is based on your genetics- your DNA. If you don’t have what is considered the “ideal” DNA, you won’t even be considered as someone who is capable of working. On the other hand, if you possess what is considered “perfect” DNA, you wouldn’t even have to interview for a job, they’d hire you on the spot.

In my opinion, I think that this is very unjust. People should be viewed and assessed based on their talent and drive, not their DNA. DNA isn’t really something you can change- it’s what you’re born with. But people’s motivation and drive are things that they themselves control.

I’m also very skeptical on the idea of parents choosing their children’s genes. I think that however the child turns out, that’s how they were meant to be. Part of what makes us human is our mistakes, and by choosing only the most appealing genes for your child, the chance that they’ll make any mistakes will become nearly obsolete. Additionally, I think that if more and more people were to start hand-picking the genes that their children receive, people would become more and more similar. If people were to choose the genes for their children, they’d all probably choose the best possible ones, and if everyone did that, all children would be near perfect. There would be no more variety, and I think that our individuality is definitely something we should try to preserve.

Despite my uncertainty relating to some of the ethics that this movie brings up, I think that it’s very fascinating and thought-provoking, and definitely worth watching.

-Elina T.

Gattaca is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

TV Review: BBC’s Sherlock

Maybe we’re not all nearly as intelligent as Sherlock, but we can, at the very least, tune in and try to decipher and understand his thought process (even though we’ll most likely never succeed in this – his thought process is very complicated).

Sherlock Holmes has been acting as a consulting detective for the Scotland Yard Police Department in London for some time now, and has been very helpful in successfully solving many of their cases. He does, however, seem to lack the sort of emotion that most people have. In fact, he himself identifies as a sociopath. But this does not, in any way, inhibit his incredible ability of making amazingly accurate deductions and thinking far faster than even his own brain can follow. 

Because of his keen intellect and blunt demeanor, he comes off as a rude know-it-all to nearly everyone he meets. That is why it’s not surprising that Dr. John Watson, a veteran, is taken a bit off guard when he first encounters Sherlock and is asked if wants to share a flat despite the fact that he had only just met him. 

After getting over the initial shock of someone knowing so much about him by merely looking at him, John moves in with Sherlock at 221B Baker Street and promptly begins solving crimes with him. John turns out to be a very valuable asset in his contributions to investigations, but more importantly, Sherlock grows to care about him, which is most uncharacteristic of a sociopath. 

I think this is an excellent show, especially for people who like crime/mystery. It gives a unique, contemporary take by placing these original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in modern London, making it easier for people today to understand and relate to the familiar culture. It’s also got some really funny parts. The mysteries are always really well thought out, and I love how well and thoroughly they’re solved by Sherlock, John and Scotland Yard. I also like how there’s such a wide variety in the types of mysteries that they solve. No two of them are alike- they’re always very different so it never gets repetitive. 

This is an amazing, humorous, yet sophisticated show with great characters, intriguing crimes, and a suspenseful and thrilling story line that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s easily one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. 

-Elina T.

Season One of Sherlock is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

TV Review: Riverdale

This is one of those shows I probably never would have watched had everyone not been raving about it. Well, maybe not everyone was raving. 

Riverdale is based off of the Archie comics, which I had never heard of before, so unfortunately can’t really tell you whether the show holds true to the source material. 

Anyway, the show takes place in a town called Riverdale (hence the name) which was a perfectly normal place. But a boy’s body, Jason Blossom, has been discovered by the rivers’ edge. As the city’s police begin investigating the case, Riverdale’s less flattering qualities start to surface. The town isn’t as perfect as it had once appeared to be. 

The show follows a group of students: Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Jughead Jones, and some of their other friends. As the shows progresses, the students begin uncovering secrets that bring them closer to discovering who killed Jason Blossom. 

Thus far, there is only one season – the entirety of which I watched in two days, which is pretty impressive because I don’t typically binge watch shows like that. So I actually really liked it even though I didn’t think I would. I love Jughead of course, and the other characters are pretty cool as well. Riverdale is one of those shows where you have to watch the next episode, and the episode after that, and so on, because you always have to know what happens next. That’s how it was for me at least. 

I actually heard mixed reviews about the show before I watched it, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I really liked it and can’t wait for the next season! 

The one thing I didn’t really like about it though (and it’s really not that important, it’s like this for practically any show/movie that takes place in high school) was that the actors are all in their twenties and they’re supposed to be sophomores in high school. Like I said, most people probably wouldn’t even be bothered by this, but I just thought I’d mention it. 

All in all, I thought I it was a great show. I really enjoyed it, and if you’re thinking about watching it, I’d definitely say give it a go!

-Elina T.

Webtoon Review: Dr. Frost by Lee Jong Beom

Psychology. What is it?

Psychology is the study of behavior and mind, according to the dictionary.

To Dr. Frost, it is a study which will hopefully help him understand the what, where and why of feelings like love and sorrow. With snow white hair and a icy personality, it is no wonder he was given that name. At the same time, those traits were not of his doing. In his childhood, Dr. Frost sustained a frontal lobe injury, which resulted in him receiving genius intellect and the lost of the ability of empathy. Yoon Sung-ah is a college student working in her school counseling center as an assistant. Cheerful, outgoing and rather emotional, compared to Dr. Frost, she is the complete opposite of Dr. Frost. These two met as counselor and assistant and begin their story. Sung-ah strives to help Dr. Frost understand emotions again as they assist clients who come to them for help.

This is one of the more unusual stories I have read. Firstly, this webtoon does include real facts and methods used by psychologist. Of course, there are several things that are not really true for dramatic purposes. Please keep this in mind while reading. The webtoon has a fantastic blend of comedy and serious moments. There are extra chapters between the main story arc that feature the character in short comedic strips. Art wise, Dr. Frost is not fancy and does not have mixed between styles but the simple style helps when there is complicated explanations concerning the physiological part of the webtoon.

I would recommend this for an older audience as it does deal with the darkness of the human mind and what can happen to it.

This webtoon is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J.,11th Grade

Death Of A Salesman

deathsalesman_arthurmillerDeath of a Salesman is a play written by Arthur Miller in 1949. This play is about a man named Willy and his sons Biff and Happy struggling to find work. Willy recently was fired from his traveling salesman job and tried many ways to kill himself, such as crashing his car multiple times and clogging the tailpipe.

Biff is trapped in his father’s work. Ever since he failed math in school, he couldn’t play football and receive a scholarship. He was the quarterback of the football team, but his grades in school messed him up, and now he lives like a slump. While trying to figure out a way to make money in his current state, his brother Happy wants Biff to join him on an adventure and become successful, but that takes huge risks. They want to travel the world and become successful businessmen. Will this happen? If you like this so far, I would advise you to pick up this play and read it, because it will entertain you.

I would rate this play a 10/10 because it never ceases to amaze me how well it was written. It leaves you speechless and so much to think about. I would recommend everyone to read this play. It’s one of a kind!

-Kayla H. 11th Grader

Death of a Salesman, and critical analysis of the play, care available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

bestofme_nicholassparksI recently watched the movie The Best of Me, which is based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. After watching the movie, I just had to read the book and found it to be surprisingly similar to how the plot was represented in the film. The setting of the story starts off in the spring of 1984 at the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole are two teenagers that fall deeply in love until unspeakable events cause them to drift apart and move in different directions.

Dawson Cole comes from a bad background; he was always abused by his father and treated even worse by his father’s friends. One day, Dawson was accepted by an elderly man named Tuck Hostetler who lost his wife years ago. Tuck provided Dawson with everything he needed, and was extremely kind towards him for being a teenager that showed up at his doorstep with some bruises and cuts. During the day of the senior prom, Dawson and his best friend leave for the dance, while back at home Tuck is attacked by Dawson’s horrible father and friends. Dawson forgets something and turns the car around, only to find Tuck sprawled on the floor, hurt on his head. Dawson grabs his shotgun and drives recklessly to his father’s place to enact revenge. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes at home resulting in Dawson being sent to jail.

Amanda visits Dawson at the jail every day for a year and weekly for many years, but Dawson refuses to see her since he believes that she is better off without him. Eventually, Amanda gets married, and Dawson and her reunite due to the unfortunate circumstances of Tuck’s funeral twenty-five years later. They spend time together, and realize how good it felt for them to be with each other again, even though Amanda does have two kids with her current husband. When Amanda is back home from the weekend spent for Tuck, her son gets into an accident and is in need of a heart transplant. Dawson is still at Tuck’s place, since he does not have any family or anybody to go back to. Amanda and Dawson’s lives are once again changed as a result of an unfortunate turn of events.

I fell in love with this story as soon as I finished reading because of its key message: even when your soulmate drifts away, their love always remains with you.

-Nirmeet B.

The Best of Me is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library. It can also be downloaded onto tablets and mobile devices from Overdrive.

Burn for Burn Trilogy by Jenny Han

burnforburn_jennyhanBurn for Burn, Fire with Fire, and Ashes to Ashes, is a trilogy by Jenny Han. This series is about a fascinating turn of events that leave the readers feeling haunted inside.

In Burn for Burn there are three main characters: Kat, Lillia, and Mary. Kat and Lillia had a history of friendship with Rennie until one fine day, Rennie backstabbed (not literally!) Kat, causing their friendship to fall apart. Lillia is the “it” girl, best friends with Rennie, on the cheerleading team, and right in the middle of the popular group at their high school. Mary is traumatized from an event that occurred years ago in her childhood, for the very reason she has come back to Jar Island is for revenge. All three of the girls meet each other at the right place at the right time, and cook up a pot full for homecoming night, an event that shakes all and changes the lives of few.

In Fire with Fire, the girls serve time for their actions, causing them to regret the decisions they made months ago. Homecoming night hurt a lot of people, but it also critically damaged one of them–coincidentally it was Reeve, who tragically haunted Mary years ago. The girls just wanted to show the rest of the school Reeve’s bad side, but things happened that night that weren’t planned. They’ve gotten away with it for now… but Mary needs to control her anger and it seems like she just can’t.

In the last novel of this trilogy, Ashes to Ashes, Lillia, Kat, and Mary lit a fire without even thinking. Their goal was to get even, but now the fire is spreading. In this last book, a huge plot twist comes our way, and I am talking amazingly enormous. Out of all of the books I have read throughout my life, the plot twist that the readers come to find out in the last book of this trilogy is the best most surprising twist I have ever read.

I would definitely recommend this series to any girl because it starts out as a normal high school novel, but really turns into something you never expected, and its just really interesting to see how the characters progress throughout the couple of years. Absolutely on the top of my list for my best reads.

-Nirmeet B.

Jenny Han’s trilogy and her other works are available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library, Overdrive, and Axis360