Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick

This sequel of the 1980s film Top Gun was definitely an interesting experience. It followed the life of the famous pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise), aka Pete Mitchell, and his perspective of events following the first film. Maverick, following his success in the first film, finds himself back at the institution after he takes a plane for one last test run and crashes the plane due to his cockiness motivating him to go beyond Mach 10, which the plane could not handle. Although Maverick faces possible dishonorable discharge for his behavior, his old rival-turned-friend in the previous film, Iceman (Val Kilmer), ends up saving him from this and gets him relocated to Top Gun to lead a secret mission. However, there ends up being one catch: Maverick cannot participate in the actual mission.

Although Maverick struggles with this news due to his passion for fighting fighter planes, he faces bigger problems when he finds out one of his fellow teammates, call sign Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of his deceased friend and wingman Goose (Anthony Edwards). As Maverick felt responsible for the death of his friend, he felt unsure about the mission, but proceeds to lead with motivation from Iceman. However, events start to challenge his mindset: Iceman falls to disease, Rooster distrusts Maverick due to Maverick intentionally holding Rooster back early in his career due to complicated circumstances, and the leaders of Top Gun nearly pull Maverick from the mission entirely due to doubt over his plan. Despite all this, Maverick again boldly proves his plan is feasible by successfully demonstrating it using a stolen fighter pilot, which thankfully doesn’t crash – unlike the last time he disobeyed orders. Instead of punishing Maverick, the leaders decide to keep Maverick and allow him into the mission, but now with an active duty as a fighter pilot.

The mission proves to be a success, but Maverick ends up taking a hit for Rooster due to his guilt over Goose and his desire to break the pattern with Rooster. Despite doubts over Maverick’s status and the impending doom faced by opposition, Rooster realizes the importance of Maverick’s motivation and care for him throughout the film and heads back to the site, where he finds Maverick alive and saves his life. The two end up making it back to their home base despite near-death experiences from enemy fighter pilots, and the two embrace, end the tension, and create a strong mentorship bond, which honestly left me feeling satisfied and inspired by the movie.

Even though there were numerous lessons and moments taken from the movie, the one that most stood to me was Maverick’s line: “Trust your instincts. Don’t think. Just do”. Although plane fighting and events in real life have their differences, I believe that this lesson can be connected and implemented in real life. For example, in sports, many athletes – myself included – tend to overthink their game plan and their stress hinders a possibly amazing performance due to their mental imbalance. With Maverick’s advice, however, many athletes focus on playing the game, accepting different conditions, and adapting rather than stress over a plan facing difficulties, and this connects very well with the importance of mental health affecting performance in real life.

Overall, this was a great movie and I really hope more people come and see it. The movie is still on theaters and definitely worth a watch – and I believe many can agree with me when I say that you will be getting your money’s worth.

Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott

Jo’s Boys: the final book of Louisa May Alcott’s precious series, beginning with the famous Little Women. 

Jo’s Boys is a fast-forward of ten years after the events that take place in Little Men, and is, once again, just as lovely as its previous two installments. It features all of the characters that were at the forefront of Little Men and takes the reader through what everyone’s life looks like ten years later. Jo is now a successful children’s writer, and the children are now all grown up. 

Just like the other books, Jo’s Boys never fails in showing the beautiful relationship between the parents of the story and their children, and showing the differences in wisdom and in youth, and the lessons and beauty that can be derived from each.  I enjoyed Jo’s character in this book more than ever, as she is such a wonderful mother and incredibly loving, wise, and warm as a character. 

Her advice that she gives throughout the book to these young individuals is always one that is heart-warming and insightful as she helps the young men and women of Plumfield navigate the beginning of a new chapter of life. And with the beginning of this new chapter, this gentle entrance into adulthood, the book closes the chapter on childhood and instead focuses on growing up, navigating through life’s difficulties, and staying true to your morals and beliefs. 

Unfortunately, despite this being such a wonderful book and the last of the trilogy, I did not find myself enjoying the last few pages as much as I thought I would have, but, nevertheless, this series now owns a new spot on my list of favorites, due to the beauty in this simplistic series. The wonderfully life-like characters, the writing style, the moral lessons, the descriptions of different aspects of life, and the passing of time all make up this book as well as the other two, and it is for these reasons that I have enjoyed them so much.

One thing I enjoyed quite a bit was how this book made certain references, often in conversation, to events that happened in the first book. This made the books feel like a continuous stream of life, like an inside look at the March family, rather than just a fictional set of stories. I also enjoyed seeing how each of the Plumfield pupils turned out later in life, both in terms of career path and character. All in all, I would recommend Jo’s Boys, and the entire series, for that matter, to anyone from any season of life.

-Aisha E.

Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Anticipating the Next “Fantastic Beasts” Film

Mid-November, an article was released on Pottermore titled “Everything we know about Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald so far.” The article revealed a lot about what we could expect from the next film.

Firstly, the film takes place in 1927, just a few months after the events that occurred in the first movie. It follows the story of Newt Scamander to Europe (specifically Paris and London), so we are traveling closer to Dumbledore’s home in Goodric’s Hollow and Hogwarts. Based on the title (The Crimes of Grindelwald), it may be assumed that this film will follow Grindelwald (played by Johnny Depp) and elaborate on his story. We know from the books that Grindelwald and Dumbledore have a history, and it appears as if it will be expanded upon in this movie. Based on the first Fantastic Beasts movie, it seems as if Dumbledore also had some sort of relationship with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), as we know he argued against his expulsion from Hogwarts.

It is inevitable that Grindelwald will escape from MACUSA (the U.S.’s version of the Ministry of Magic). Looking back at the books, we know that Grindelwald’s rise was not unlike that of Voldemort. It was a dark time for muggles and wizards alike. Grindelwald’s intention was also aligned with Voldemort’s: they both believed that pure-bloods were superior, and that anyone who did not fit into this category did not deserve the right to use magic. We also know that Grindelwald is in possession of the Elder Wand (because of a picture of the cast that was released along with the article), which Dumbledore later acquires as he has it throughout the Harry Potter films. The picture also depicts the mysterious Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) mentioned in the previous film sitting with Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner) — Newt’s brother. Another important note — Credence (Ezra Miller) is alive! At the end of the first movie, it seemed as if he was killed after transforming into his Obscurus form. However, he appeared in the picture with everyone else, so he must’ve survived… right?

Although we already know quite a bit about the movie, there are still bound to be surprises and plot twists. I’m extremely excited to see this movie, and am glad that the characters from the first movie will be returning, along with many new faces. J. K. Rowling herself has written the screenplay, and David Yates is directing the film. It will be released in the U.S. on November 16th, 2018.

I loved the first movie and I know I’ll love this one too! It’s really intriguing to hear everyone’s backstories and how it shaped them into who they are in the Harry Potter books and movies. I can’t wait for this movie!!!

-Elina T.