Film Review: Suits

Taking place in New York, the TV show covers the life stories of Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), two people working as lawyers under the changing firm first known as Pearson Hardman. Harvey Specter is a lawyer and a junior partner at the firm at the start of the story, looking for an associate to work with as part of the firm policy. On the other hand, Mike Ross is a Harvard student interested in learning law with an eidetic memory and a great chance of success, but becomes expelled from Harvard after his friend Trevor (Tom Lipinski) accidentally sends a college test to the daughter of the head of the college, which becomes public and creates controversy. Destroyed by the news, Mike finds himself bouncing from jobs until he finds his way into a meeting with Harvey, which changes his life forever.

When Harvey first meets Mike, he develops doubt over illegally allowing Mike to take a job as a lawyer, a job that he had no legal qualifications for. However, Mike ends up impressing Harvey at the meeting with his knowledge of the Barbary legal handbook and also beats Harvey in finding loopholes in a law. Harvey questions Mike on why he isn’t a lawyer, and Mike tells Harvey the story about Trevor, as well as his dreams to be a lawyer getting ripped away. Not wanting to spend more time interviewing prospective associates, Harvey gives Mike the job and has Mike take a tour of Harvard to learn everything there is to being a lawyer.

On the first day of work, Mike receives a tour from a paralegal known as Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) and meets the head of the associates, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman). Mike quickly learns of all the expectations he has in his job, and Harvey gives him a case to work on for him despite his promise to Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), the managing partner of the firm, to work on it by himself. Both Mike and Harvey experience struggles, with Mike nearly bailing on the job altogether and Jessica showing her disappointment in Harvey for breaking his word, however they both end up working together well and win the case. Even though the two had a rocky start, they grow their bond and become great friends throughout the show. Plenty happens with the two over the span of 9 seasons, but all I can really say without giving too much spoilers is that the dynamic of the two makes this show interesting.

I first found out about the show from my family, and even though I initially had no interest in the series, I gave it a try and it turned out to be a very interesting show for me – and I have recommended it to several friends who have enjoyed it in the past. Even though it mainly revolves around legal drama, the show was amazing while it lasted for 9 seasons. I would recommend anyone – whether they turn out to enjoy the show or not – to watch the show and give it a chance, just like how I ended up doing.

Suits is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Keeper of the Lost Cities: Nightfall by Shannon Messenger

Nightfall is the sixth book in the Keeper of the Lost Cites series (which is currently 8.5 books long), and the events come as a definite surprise to anyone who has read the other five books before it.

In this book, the main character of the series, a powerful young elf named Sophie Foster, has to rescue her human parents from a Neverseen hideout called Nightfall. (The Neverseen are a deadly rebel group that formed in the Lost Cities, and they always seem to be out to get Sophie and her friends.) But Sophie knows that the Neverseen might be using her parents as a diversion to distract her from the larger issues at hand, so, no matter how painful it is, Sophie is forced to look at the bigger picture and accept that the threat looming over her human parents might not be the problem she needs to focus on. She helps her friend, Keefe Sencen, with the issues he has with his mother, Lady Gisela, (who also happens to be a leader of the Neverseen) and attempts to figure out the identity of the prisoner who escaped from the Lumenaria dungeon in the previous installment of the series. But all of these issues seem to come together in the end of the book, when Sophie and her friends (Tam and Linh Song, Biana and Fitz Vacker, Keefe Sencen, and Dex Dizznee) and her foster father, Grady Ruewen, enter Nightfall. There, they encounter some members of the Neverseen and discover who their new ally is–the former prisoner of Lumenaria.

While all of this was going on, they also had to deal with another enemy, one whose alliance with the Neverseen hit extremely close to home. Alvar Vacker, the older brother of Fitz and Biana, was found abandoned by the Neverseen in one of their old hideouts, bleeding to death. They had discovered that Alvar was a member of the Neverseen in the earlier books, but they’d never have guessed that the group would leave him for dead. He doesn’t give any information in his interrogations except for one, crucial detail, which readers will find out in the beginning of Flashback.

The reason why I love this novel is because of all the plot twists and the fact that the characters have realistic personalities. Their problems kept me rooting for them the whole time the book was in my hands, and the storyline stuck with me for a long while after I’d finished. This book (and the series it belongs to) is a magical read, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves the fantasy genre.

Nighfall by Shannon Messenger is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Better Call Saul Series Review

Better Call Saul, created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, is the spin-off and prequel to the critically acclaimed series Breaking Bad. However, the audience also gets glimpses of the events that take place after Breaking Bad throughout the show. Therefore, this show serves as a spin-off, prequel, and sequel to Breaking Bad. This can seem overwhelming, but the writers do an incredible job at making it easy for viewers to follow along. The show follows Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), a struggling lawyer who works in elder law. However, Jimmy starts to engage more with criminals and the drug cartel, transforming into a criminal lawyer (emphasis on criminal). This transition brings forth the iconic character, Saul Goodman. Furthermore, the show does a fantastic job at developing other Breaking Bad characters such as Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). 

Although Better Call Saul is a spin-off and prequel to Breaking Bad, it establishes itself as a solid television series that develops a strong focus on other characters as well. We are introduced to the fantastic lawyer and friend of Jimmy McGill, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). Kim is essential to the story, playing a significant role in the development of Odenkirk’s character, and has become a fan favorite among audiences. Additionally, we are introduced to Jimmy’s brother, Chuck McGill (Michael McKean). 

Better Call Saul takes the comedic character, Saul Goodman, and gives him an engaging backstory. Jimmy/Saul’s descent into the criminal lifestyle can resemble events in Breaking Bad, but it never feels repetitive. In fact, it can be argued that there is a deeper backstory in this series. Overall, many characters that may not have been showcased much in Breaking Bad are given enriching backstories, and new characters are also given proper development. Also, like its predecessor, Better Call Saul has a fantastic ending and arguably gets better each season. 

In the end, if you’re a fan of Breaking Bad and wish to see more, Better Call Saul is a fantastic follow-up. It offers many new perspectives while keeping elements that made people fall in love with Breaking Bad in the first place. The show recently aired its final episode, ending its phenomenal sixth season. 

-Kern M.

Better Call Saul is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Stranger Things, Is it Worth the Hype?

If you have opened any social media platform in the past month, various Stranger Things 4 content has probably crossed your explorer page. First airing in 2016, Stranger Things is a science fiction horror television series. Starring child stars like Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp, the show revolves around 4 middle school boys who meet a girl who is a government science experiment. One of the boys gets kidnapped by a sub-dimension monster, afterward, all the seasons follow the aftermath of this event.

Stranger Things Season 1 Promo

Without spoiling the actual series, I would recommend this show. But, I would be curious if you get scared easily. For young children, Stranger Things may get too creepy to handle. At first, I found the series slightly scary. But, each season progressively gets darker. The main reasoning for this pattern is so that the show matures alongside the child actors. Even though I found the show slightly disturbing, the plot is so intriguing it almost forces you to continue watching to find out what happens. The kids also bring a level of comedy creating a great atmosphere. Here, the kids are the ones that are always swearing and going against the adults. 

Another cool aspect of this show is that it takes place in the 1980s. The music, clothing, and horror thrill style all emulate the trends of the 80s. So, it makes the show a great piece of media to watch as a family. The parents love all of the 80s references and the children love relating to the children in the show.

On that note, the music soundtrack for Stranger Things is excellent. Many 80s classics have been brought back to the billboards of this show. Songs like “Running up That Hills” and “Should I Stay or Should I go Now” have increased in popularity after their use in the show. I have found the soundtrack makes the show seem less dark and more fun. 

Overall, after watching all of the seasons I would highly recommend this series. There is a nice mix of horror and comedy while also revolving around a very detailed plot.

Film Review: The Punisher (2017)

This show follows up from the second season of Daredevil (2015) on Netflix and tells the story of the events of Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), commonly referred to as his nickname, The Punisher. Castle deals with the trauma over his loss of his wife Maria and his daughter Lisa throughout the film, connecting to modern mental health issues. However, it also connects later to his role in the military, as Castle reveals that due to his role in many corrupt murders in Afghanistan and his later requested transfer out of the army, his commanding officer William Rawlins (Paul Schulze), known as Agent Orange, ordered his death, with Castle’s best friend at the time, Billy Russo (Ben Barnes), contributing to the order. However, Castle survives and seeks vengeance for his family, with violence surrounding most of the show series.

One thing I found interesting about the series is Frank’s methods towards achieving his goals. Although it is often perceived that “good guys do not kill” in many superhero movies/TV series, Castle crosses that line completely. He is perceived as a vigilante and uses brute force and murder to remove anyone who tries to threaten the safety of others, such as robbers, criminals, and gang members, just to name a few. His methods often come to the disapproval of cops, such as Brett Mahoney (Royce Johnson) and Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah), who strongly believe in finding ways to justice without resorting to physical violence and harm. However, both end up acknowledging that Frank’s methods are what they are and that they must let Castle be who he is since every effort to change him has failed miserably. His methods, while questionable, bring more complexity towards the question of morals and good against evil towards the story and to the characters.

Another thing I also found interesting about the series is Frank’s connection with his allies. Although Russo and Castle later fight due to Russo’s involvement in the death of Frank’s family, they used to be close friends prior to the murders and had a close bond with which many people, from school teens to adults, can relate to these days. Russo’s later betrayal deeply affects Castle, as Castle saw Russo as family and this brought the two to separate sides. Castle also ends up siding with David Libermann, also known as Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) to bring Rawlins and Russo to justice, and bond over experiences in life and their partnership. While Castle can be seen as the brawns of the group, Micro makes up the brains of their dynamic, using his computer to hack into systems and gain information that can be used to further influence the success of their missions. Another character that connects with Castle is Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), who also gives information to Castle and shares a deep connection with Castle from the previous series Daredevil to the current show. Although Page is not featured as heavily as Russo or Micro, her friendship with Frank is clear throughout their scenes together.

Overall, this show is an interesting watch and I’d highly recommend anyone to watch it. This show used to be on Netflix, but moved to Disney+ along with more Marvel series, and even though it was discontinued in 2019, I hope that this new transfer gives way to more season of this show.

The Summer I turned Pretty- TV Series-

The Summer I Turned Pretty (TV Series 2022– ) - IMDb

Warning Major Spoiler Alert!!!

The Summer I turned Pretty series came out just last month and it has been a big hit. Though the summer I turned pretty started out as a book by Jenny Han, who wrote To All the Boys I’ve loved Before which is on Netflix, and now her next book which is the Summer I turned pretty is also now a series on Amazon Prime. And without a doubt became the most talked tv show during this Summer. Even before Season 1 of the Summer I Turned Pretty became a show on Amazon prime, they renewed the show for it’s second season because they know that this series is gonna be a best one and they predicted right!

This film stars were mostly new actors and the main actor is Lola Tung who plays Belly in the series and book. Another one is the Fisher brothers Conrad and Jeremiah played by Chris Brinley and Gavin Casalegno. Belly’s brother Steven played by Sean Kaufmen. Lastly, the parents (mothers) who are best friends Laurel Fisher and Susannah, who is played by Rachel Blanchard and Jackie Chung.

The Summer I Turned pretty is a story about Belly and her family ever since they were young have spent the summer at the Fishers’ house at Cousin’s Beach. Ever since then Belly has a crush on the oldest Fisher Conrad. Then when she turned 15 she finally got a glow up. Then the time comes when they were going to the beach house. From here Conrad changed from being sweet to Belly to not caring about her. So now Belly’s feelings gets all mixed up when she figured out that Jeremiah (Conrad’s younger brother) likes her. At the debutante ball instead of Conrad asking Belly to be his escort Jeremiah did and they continued with their relationship. But then during the dance Jeremiah is no where to be found so Conrad steps in and became Belly’s dance partner. As the dance was going on, Jeremiah is actually at the beach and found out that her mother is dying. The story ends with Conrad and Belly at the beach talking and they kissed.

I really like the series because they added details that weren’t in the book, like the deb ball. It was really cheesy at the end but then it was amazingly filmed and the added details made the film better. And also the story line at the book and the series was on point and was really good. This series is definitely a 10/10 for me and I am also excited for the next one. I don’t know if it’s just me but, I like to read the book and then I also, like to watch the movie or series because I want to see it visually and to compare it. If it’s the same thing with few added minor details or if they totally changed it. But overall I would recommend this for the other people to watch. Especially if you love to watch Summer romance.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Breaking Bad Series Review

Breaking Bad, created by Vince Gilligan, follows Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a financially distressed chemistry teacher recently diagnosed with lung cancer. His wife, Skyler White (Anna Gunn), is pregnant and their teenage son has cerebral palsy. In fear that he will not be able to support his family, Walter partners with his former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in order to cook and sell methamphetamine in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. To keep his identity and family safe, Walter adopts the name, Heisenberg when engaging in criminal activities. Additionally, Walter’s brother-in-law, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), is a DEA agent committed to finding and arresting Heisenberg.

The western crime drama spans over 5 incredible seasons. Originally starting as a dark comedy, Breaking Bad quickly becomes a serious, depressing series as each of the characters descend further into a criminal lifestyle. Many of the characters have a ton of depth, and Walter, himself, is one of, if not the most complex characters in television history. While parts of the show can seem a bit slow, it is still very engaging as the tension is amplified throughout. Furthermore, the show isn’t prolonged, giving the audience an amazing ending.

While Walter and Jesse often have the same goal, their characters are very different, giving the audience multiple perspectives on the events going on. Although many of the duo’s actions aren’t justifiable, it is hard not to follow their journey. The show also introduces some other famous characters like Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), and the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). In fact, the lawyer, Saul Goodman, has his own television series called Better Call Saul which is currently ongoing. The themes of family, sin, and power are all expressed beautifully as we follow the flawed character of Walter White.

While this show may not be for everyone, I highly recommend it. Breaking Bad has had a major influence on television and has created other amazing spin-offs such as Better Call Saul and El Camino. It has won a plethora of awards and all five seasons are available on Netflix.

-Kern M.

Breaking Bad is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

TV Review: Daredevil (2015)

I first saw the show last summer on Netflix before it moved to Disney+ this year. It has very good storylines and introduces audiences to the Marvel comic book character Daredevil and many of his allies and rivals. Played by Charlie Cox, Matt Murdock plays the superhero in a thrilling yet extremely violent TV series. Murdock is revealed to have a day job as a lawyer, working alongside his work partners Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) in the firm Nelson and Murdock. Murdock is also revealed to be blind after an incident occurred where chemicals flew into his eyes as a child, blinding him for life.

The firm only consists of the three members, however they take cases in exchange for payments in food and financial earnings in court. This ends up coming into conflict for Murdock, as he is forced to balance his life as a lawyer and a street vigilante similar to Batman who works outside of the law to protect civilians from robbers and consequences of corruption. His biggest threat is revealed to be a man named Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), a large and imposing man who aims to climb the ranks of New York and gain power and control for his own personal gain. Fisk’s aims often come at the expense of others, leaving people vulnerable and forced against their will to assist and take part in Fisk’s plans.

What I found most interesting about the film is the contrast yet similarity between Daredevil and Fisk. Both want to enhance New York in their own way and both use methods that conflict with the law to reach that end goal. Their quest often raises many questions towards morality. Also, both characters deal with mental trauma. Fisk ends up killing his father to protect his mother and even though his mother accepts him, he still deals with the trauma throughout the story. Similarly, Matt faced child abandonment as a child, with his mother leaving early in his life and his father getting murdered after refusing to throw a boxing fight for the purpose of making Matt proud. Even though both Daredevil and Fisk are different in the eyes of the audience, the similarities between the two are apparent with analysis.

However, what separates the two is their end goals. Although Fisk wants to improve New York, he aims to do so by destroying the city and “rebuilding”, which puts lives at risk and comes at a high price for many. Fisk reveals that he only cares about his power and role in the city, which contradicts his deception to the rest of the citizens of his good will through paid press and newspapers. On the other hand, Daredevil utilizes brutal methods, but refuses to take a life due to his devotion to Catholicism and only does so to help others at risk, such as hostages or other defenseless people.

Overall, this show was a very interesting watch and I believe that it challenges the true association of good and evil. Even though many believe that the two are about as separate as night and day, this show goes above and beyond to challenge that belief through Murdock, Fisk, and even later characters such as Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) aka The Punisher, and Benjamin Poindexter (Wilson Bethel). I strongly recommend anyone with Disney+ to give this show a watch.

Heartstopper

Heartstopper

by Alice Oseman

This heartwarming collection of comics follows Nick and Charlie as they discover their growing attraction to one another that bloomed from friendship. Both attending the same private boy’s school, Nick and Charlie become fast friends after being placed next to each other in the class seating chart. While Charlie announced his sexuality last school year, Nick struggles to find himself as he discovers his feelings for Charlie are more than friendship. Heartstopper Volume 1 shows their friendship growing as they slowly gather the courage to approach the other about their feelings. Their relationship continues to grow throughout the other volumes as they near the end of their high school experience (there are a total of 4 so far).

Volume 1 of Heartstopper, while short, is the most genuine and wholesome romance comic I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This comic never fails to bring a smile to my face as I follow these two goofballs through their high school experience and watch as their romantic relationship grows. If you are looking for tension and drama, Heartstopper is not the comic for you. This book only contains healthy communication, friendship, bonding, and growing into oneself. It highlights the struggles each character faces and how they overcome them with the help of their friends and families. Each character offers a new perspective and challenges to overcome. The entire Heartstopper series toke me a day and a half to devour and as I eagerly await new volumes to be published, I remember the sweet and touching moments of this story.

This series has even become a Netflix series! Make sure to check that out. The entire Heartstopper series is also available for free on Webtoon and Tapas.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Something Dark and Holy Trilogy: Character Analysis

Amazon.com: Wicked Saints: A Novel (Something Dark and Holy, 1):  9781250195661: Duncan, Emily A.: Books

Overview:

The book series, Something Dark and Holy (shortened to SD+H), is a dark fantasy trilogy written by Emily A. Duncan. The whole series revolves around a cleric by the name Nadya Lapteva. Her character is particularly interesting in the way she grows over the course of the series. Here’s some quick background information first. The series takes place in medieval Eastern Europe and follows Slavic mythology. Her country, Kalyazi, has been at war with Tranavia for centuries. The main difference between the two is that Kalyazi has clerics, individuals who can communicate directly with gods, while the Tranavians do not follow the gods and use blood magic. Nadya finds herself as the last remaining Cleric and last remaining hope to end the war. Fair warning, this will contain spoilers.

Wicked Saints:

Amazon.com: Ruthless Gods: A Novel (Something Dark and Holy, 2):  9781250195692: Duncan, Emily A.: Books

In the beginning of the first book Nadya is a very timid girl. As the last cleric, she has been constantly protected and on the move. This, of course, leads to problems. In the first half of the book, she is separated from her countrymen and meets Malachiasz. He is a Tranavian who claims he was exiled from his country. Nadya sees him as a lost boy, pities him, and eventually agrees to travel with him. Malachiasz uses this story in order to gain her trust and lead her into the capital of Tranavia. Throughout this part of the novel, Nadya’s gods try to communicate with her and warn her. However, she ignores them. 

Around the middle of the novel, Malachiasz begins to show his true colors. However, Nadya is still too naïve and blindly in love with him. Nadya’s character continues down this path until the final chapter of the novel. In the last half of the book, Malachiasz admits he was never exiled. He only brought Nadya to Tranavia because she contained the power to turn him into a god. Nadya is absolutely torn and heartbroken with this betrayal. She not only lost the only boy she ever loved, but now her gods won’t even speak to her.

Ruthless Gods and Blessed Monsters

Amazon.com: Blessed Monsters: A Novel (Something Dark and Holy, 3):  9781250195722: Duncan, Emily A.: Books

In the beginning of the second novel, it is revealed that Nadya has fallen into a deep depression. She was in solitude for nearly a year before she decided to try and track down Malachiasz; he now has the power of a god and was terrorizing her home country. Her depression disappears when she finally finds him and tries to work out problems. This is where Nadya’s character truly emerges. She gains strength, bravery and grows in power. She becomes her own character as she makes the discovery that her magic doesn’t come from her gods, but rather herself. By the end of the series her character is nearly unrecognizable from the first novel.

I highly recommend this series if you like a strong female protagonist and lots of character development. 

-Michelle L.