Category Archives: Eleni Pappas

Avengers: Endgame takes fans on emotional ride

Story by Eleni Pappas

It is finally here. The end of the road on a long journey spanning over a decade. In the aftermath of Infinity War, the surviving Avengers are left devastated with no hope. Now, the remaining heroes engage in a last-ditch effort to avenge the fallen, entering the final fight for the fate of the universe.

It has been 11 years since the first Iron Man (2008) came out, starting this incredible adventure for Marvel fans all over. Now, finally, Avengers: Endgame has arrived to finish what the cast and creators of Iron Man started all those years ago. Everything until now has been building up to this movie. Released April 25, the theaters flooded with fans, and has the biggest opening weekend ever.

The movie opens up with Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) just before Thanos’ snap, enjoying a day outside with his family. One moment, he is teaching his daughter archery while his wife and sons make hot dogs, and the next everyone but Barton is gone. Turned to dust. At this point, the audience is silent and the mood is somber. Then the scene shifts to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), aboard a spaceship and stranded in space with only Nebula (Karen Gillan) for company. When they run out of resources and all hope seems lost, the one and only Captain Marvel comes to their rescue. Five years later Stark has moved on from the Avengers and everyone has lost all hope of bringing back the fallen. That is until Ant-Man/Scott Lang miraculously returns from the Quantum Realm with an insanely improbable plan that might just work.

For the audience, Endgame is a rollercoaster of emotions, having way more funny moments than anyone could have predicted. Many assumed the film would be dark and tragic, but it is amazing how seamlessly certain scenes went from laugh-inducing to tear-jerking and vice-versa in a matter of minutes. Every Avenger had their share of hilarious and dramatic moments, but overall the film retained a serious tone fitting for what fans are calling the end of an era. By the end of the movie, no one in the audience left the same as they first entered. There was hardly a dry eye in the theater. While the film still left some unanswered questions and audiences are split on whether the ending left them satisfied, altogether many can agree it was as epic a film as expected.

Directed by the Russo Brothers, Joe and Anthony, Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally complete with Endgame. For the audience, endings are always sad, but many look forward to the future of Phase 4. Endgame currently in theaters now.

 

Fans rain praise on The Umbrella Academy

Art By Sam Haney

Story By Eleni Pappas

A day beginning like every other ends with the world forever changed when something strange occurs to women all over the globe.

Dozens of mostly-single women conceive, carry, and give birth within a matter of minutes on the same day, at the exact same time. The children of these women are special in more ways than the circumstances of their instant birth and conception. Not only do they grow up to display miraculous abilities, but these children are destined to save the world.

It was a day beginning like every other — that is, until Netflix premiered “The Umbrella Academy” on Feb. 15. Based on the comic written by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, who also serve as executive producers for the show, the series centers on the seven adopted super children of eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves. The show stars more than a few notable names, including Robert Sheehan (Misfits), Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), and Ellen Page (Juno).

The story opens up in the year 1989, with an anonymous narrator describing the inexplicable births of 43 children all over the world. Sir Hargreeves make it his mission to adopt as many of these children as possible and manages to find and adopt seven of them. He raises them in the Academy to train as heroes rather than live as kids, and only when he builds them a robotic mother are they given real names.

Number One is Luther (Tom Hopper), Two is Diego (David Castañeda), Three is Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Four is Klaus (Sheehan), and Seven is Vanya (Page). In the present the unnamed Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), has been missing for many years after he used his time travel ability to disappear into the future. Number Six, Ben (Justin H. Min), is stated to be deceased, presumably murdered on a childhood mission.

In the present, all the siblings are now 30, estranged from each other and the team long disbanded. Each of them are messed up in their own unique ways due to the strange nature of their upbringing. The sudden death of Sir Hargreeves brings them back together for the funeral, but things remain highly tense between the siblings. However, they are reunited in a common purpose when Number Five returns from the future, still a boy, and informs the team that the world ends in eight days. At first they think he might be crazy, but it soon becomes clear the fate of the world lies in their less-than capable hands.

“The Umbrella Academy” is a smash hit, complete with deep and complex characters, dark humor, tear jerking moments, great acting, and an incredible soundtrack. The shows continuing plot mixes those from the first few volumes, but still honors the source material while standing on its own. Gallagher, who is only 15, has been picked out as one of the most impressive actors on the series. Sheehan is another fan favorite, with arguably the most compelling character exploration as the show draws on. Sheehan as Klaus made fans both laugh and cry, being a source of much comedy in the show while also playing an addict who uses to numb his ability to speak with the dead.

On the negative side, some fans are disgusted with the perceived incest within the show. Throughout the show it becomes obvious two of the Hargreeves children have romantic feelings towards each other, which have made certain viewers uncomfortable. Other fans have defended this by saying they are not real siblings, as they are adopted, and were not raised as such. Instead, fans say they were raised simply to fight alongside each other, but not as regular siblings. Either way, for some, the romance felt unnecessary and did not fit with the rest of the show.

Do they end up saving the world and stopping the apocalypse? To find out watch all ten episodes of “The Umbrella Academy” on Netflix.

 

‘A Simple Favor’ mystifies audiences

By Eleni Pappas

Most people have had someone in their life who will always be a mystery, a person who is never easy to understand despite however long they have known another. Certain people may say it is always good to maintain a level of mystery in any relationship, but others may respond that secrets are dangerous.

Imagine if one’s close friend suddenly went missing, and in trying to find them safe, these deadly secrets begin to creep out of the dark.

“A Simple Favor” is directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters 2016, The Heat) and came out Sept. 14. The film stars a few current celebrities such as Blake Lively (Gossip Girl), Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect franchise), and Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians). The movie is rated R for mature language and content.

Near the beginning of the film we are introduced to our main character, Stephanie (Kendrick), through her filming one of her “mommy vlogs.” Through this vlog we are also introduced to one of the main conflicts of the film, that Stephanie’s best friend Emily (Lively) is missing.

Flash backwards in time, we see that she is a chippy single mother who meets Emily when they are both picking up their sons at school. Emily comes off to Stephanie and the rest of the audience as very mysterious and sophisticated in style, wearing fashionable and slimming pantsuits. When she opens her mouth, however, she has a crude sense of humor and an Alpha attitude. This surprises and impresses our naive mommy vlogger, and the two share drinks at Emily’s house when their sons insist on a playdate.

Soon Stephanie considers Emily her best friend, and when Emily calls in for “a simple favor” to pick up her son, she is happy to oblige. Hearing those titular words the audience leans in for what is to happen next. That is when Emily goes missing and Stephanie takes it upon herself to uncover the truth about her disappearance. What she realizes, though, is she does not really know her best friend at all.

All in all, the movie is all it is promised from the trailers and more. It is a story of dark mystery with a whodunnit vibe, but it is also filled with plenty of hilarious moments and one liners. Throughout the film, the audience is unsure of whom or what to trust. Even Stephanie has a few secrets of her own. Until the end there are many twists and turns, which may heighten the tension one moment then ease it with hilarity in the next. And while Stephanie is not the heroine most are used to, she surprises everyone and helps delivers a satisfying end to the movie.

‘Christopher Robin’ brings back childhood memories

By Eleni Pappas

Imagine being a kid again, collecting toys and playing pretend like many children do.

In a child’s head, toys are given names and consciousness, and worlds are created where all is fair and just. Kids make some of their most cherished friends within their own minds. For some, many grow up and leave behind such memories for more adult pursuits. For others, as one grows up to become an adult, upon looking back, it is easy to miss those early years of playing, creativity, and innocence. Try to picture what that would be like if it all returned, and that world created by imagination came back, and all of it was real.

Childhood comes alive in Christopher Robin, where the film’s titular character from the Winnie the Pooh stories is now an adult. The movie came out Aug. 3, directed by Marc Forster, director of Finding Neverland, as a family-friendly drama/fantasy. The film features an intriguing cast, including Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge, Star Wars prequels), Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), and Peter Capaldi (Dr.Who). Jim Cummings will also be returning to voice act the beloved Winnie the Pooh. The plot, of course, centers around the much older Christopher Robin, far from the boy many once knew, who is now a workaholic with a wife and child. His life soon gets much more complicated when he is reunited with old friends thought to have been imaginary.

The story opens up with a young Christopher Robin saying goodbye to his friends at the Hundred Acre Wood. Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, and Owl have all gathered for a festive send-off as the boy is going off to boarding school. The audience then gets to watch as he is sent to school, grows up, meets his wife, goes to war, has a daughter, and reaches full adulthood with an overworking job at a briefcase company. The older Christopher Robin (McGregor) has since forgotten his pals of the Wood, and when Pooh finally shows again out of the blue, he thinks he has lost his mind. Soon enough, he is pulled into an adventure helping Pooh find his lost friends.

One of the best parts of the film was that it made one feel like a kid again. There were plenty of hilarious moments due to Pooh and his gang’s antics, but also heartfelt, teaching moments about the importance of family. Pooh’s classic clumsiness and Eeyore’s somber commentary are some favorite moments. There is also an interesting parallel between Robin and his daughter, Madeline. She works tirelessly to impress her father, as she was raised similarly to how he was, with an emphasis on education over fun and creativity. When he literally reconnects with his inner child, and learns there is more to life than work, it gives him perspective on his daughter. The parallel comes full circle when Madeline meets Pooh and friends, and goes on a wild adventure just like her father.

Christopher Robin is overall a heartwarming family film, full of life lessons, hilarity, and nostalgia for a simpler time. It is about a man who was once a kid like everyone else was, and who grew up, like everyone will. This movie is a favorite because it stresses the value of keeping a relationship with not only one’s inner child, but loved ones as well. It is a story many can relate to because sometimes it can be difficult to keep in mind what is most important.

Whatever the ages of the viewership may be, Christopher Robin is a film anyone can enjoy, however young or old.

Writers present differences between theatre and Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

By Madison Fuson and Eleni Pappas

Art by Eleni Pappas

The musical opens with mysterious, hooded figures standing on wooden platforms. The stage is still dark, and as the show begins, the choir sits, narrating actors joining and revealing themselves to recollect the story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a classic story known for its dark or surreal elements and vivid imagery. The story is both a musical and a Disney movie production based off the novel published in 1831 by Victor Hugo.

The story centers around a bell ringer named Quasimodo, who is locked away in the bell towers from the outside world for his deformation—being “too different” and “ugly” to the normal folks. Quasimodo leaves the bell tower, despite his master Monseigneur Claude Frollo’s, warnings. Once out, he meets the enchanting gypsy Esmeralda who, alongside the other gypsies, are considered to be subservient by Frollo.  

Disney’s film adaptation of the book was released on June 21, 1996 and became the fifth highest grossing film of that year. From finding one’s place in society to dealing with sin to extreme topics like infanticide, because of this, the movie is considered one of Disney’s darker themed films and much had to be altered from the novel in order for it to get the PG rating. With directing by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (Beauty and The Beast, Atlantis: The Lost Empire) and famous actors voice acting such as Demi Moore (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, G.I. Jane) the film was set up to be a huge success.

Disney’s version first starts in 1482, in Paris with the gypsy Clopin Trouillefou, voiced by Paul Kandel, who opens the story with a puppet show for curious children. The story begins with Monseigneur Claude Frollo, the film’s villain, on a horse pursuing gypsies attempting to flee from him. Frollo chases one of the gypsies, a mother, to the church and causes her death upon the stairs of the cathedral, Notre Dame. Frollo sees the deformed child and goes to drop him in the well when he is stopped by the archdeacon. He is then made to take in the disfigured child in order to atone for his sins he committed in the eyes of the holy church. This child is named Quasimodo, meaning half-formed, and due to his differences, he is kept away in a tower, with only stone gargoyles as friends.

When the Festival of Fools arrives, Quasimodo sneaks out against Frollo’s wishes. At the festival, he meets Esmeralda, who believes his face to be a mask. She pulls Quasimodo on stage for “The King of Fools,” a contest which searches for the ugliest face in Paris. When the crowd goes wild by Quasimodo’s blemishes, the gypsy girl stops the crowd, earning Frollo’s anger. Quasimodo must work to save the girl from Frollo’s subsequent wrath.

The musical put on by the FC Theatre Department on Feb. 9, 11, 16, 17, and 18, was based on the original novel by Victor Hugo, called Notre-Dame de Paris. The main cast includes Junior Noah Hankins as Dom Claude Frollo, Senior Mitchell Lewis as Quasimodo, Senior Logan McNeeley as Clopin Trouillefou, Junior Jesse Johnson as Phoebus de Martin, and Junior Elizabeth Hallal as Esmeralda.

The show starts to narrators recalling of how the Hunchback, Quasimodo, came to dwell in the tower. It starts out with brothers Jehan and Claude Frollo, Jehan being wild and Claude Frollo, his opposite, being devoted to Notre Dame. Jehan brings a gypsy to the church but is caught and banished by the bishop. With his brother gone, Claude Frollo rises to the rank of archdeacon. News of Jehan on the verge of death reaches Claude, and Claude goes to his side in attempt to persuade Jehan to come back with him to heal him from his illness and sins. However, before Jehan’s final breath, he asks of his brother to show mercy to the deformed child, Quasimodo, he and the gypsy had before her own death. Frollo does take the child in, but his distortion keeps him locked in the tower, away from civilization.

Although both of them are based off Victor Hugo’s novel, they are not exactly the same. Disney, a company targeting a family audience, does have to be cautious as to what it publishes as a mass media company. Disney had to change their script and work around the family rating, leaving out much of the mature and shocking themes to make it appropriate for all ages. Apart from the more graphic depictions of the musical, the conclusion stayed true to the novel’s ending, while Disney altered it for a happy ending. The characters of the Disney production were adapted for the villain-hero outcome while the musical enriched its characters. The characters have their own flaws and advantages, whether that be lust, demanding respect or physical appearance.

However, as much as the backstories differ, most of the main characters remained the same, with Quasimodo, Frollo, Esmeralda and Phoebus. In both, the men fell in love with Esmeralda for her beauty, compassion or acceptance. For both, the main theme still remains about coming to terms with your flaws.

Both representations may show different things, one more canon to the novel, but their theme still stands. Despite the format of the story, The Hunchback of Notre Dame will remain a staple of world history.