Category Archives: Reviews

Ladybird Produces New Reliability on the Big Screen

By Abby Chovan

Art by Victoria Roberts

Though a film without much buzz, Ladybird is a tale of the 21st century about a mother and daughter and how they thrive and flounder from the toils of life at the same time. It is a story that anyone could relate back to their own lives.

The actors who began the on-screen journey were Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. In the opening scene they both cry over an audio recording of their favorite book, one that holds many memories between the two. Though this sweet moment captures the room, an argument erupts that is recognizable to most family fights that many people face. As the movie progresses, it centers around these two women and their stubborn personalities that cause them to make life a little more dramatic than it has to be. Christine, known by her self given nickname Ladybird, is played by Ronan herself. The girl goes through teenage troubles of dating and wanting to go to her dream colleges in New York, but her lower-middle class society standing and home life has her in fear of forever living in her hometown of Sacramento.

One specific struggle Christine has is wanting to be seen as a popular girl, but seeing as she’s friends with the less popular crowd, it is hard to do so. She struggles with wanting to remain friends with her “oddball” group of theatre kids and wanting to experience living a wild life as a smoking, partying, and all around fashionable 2002 teen.

This movie strikes a cord with many teens today, dreaming of an opportunity to get away from their normal lives. There seems to be a character for every person to relate to in this movie, with its wide range of lovable and relatable people to choose from. It especially shines on mother-daughter relationships and how they aren’t all clean and perfect.

Media has often portrayed these family relationships, but never have they escalated to this level. It seems as if most movies try to hide the problems instead of address them, leaving them in the dark and instead creating a satirical escape for upset people around the world to turn to for a good laugh. However, the film Ladybird addresses the real ugly truth and left some audience members in tears, feeling so much meaning behind the screaming matches and contrasting gentle lectures that Christine and her mother share.

Among teens now is the debate over sexual relationships and when it is acceptable to begin one. The film address many different viewpoints on the subject, ranging from views on abstinence to a seemingly care-free opinion that one of Christine’s boyfriends had.

While this movie has many reasons to bare its R rating, it is one that teens and adults alike can appreciate and relate to. It’s a tale of first loves, chasing dreams, and utter ambition that we cannot find easily anywhere else. It left many of viewers in awe at the end, a few sitting in an almost comical thinking position. As a couple of sobbing and hugging mothers and daughters filtered out, a few sat with hands on their knees, pondering. As Christine had just finished a heartfelt apologetic call to her mother and the movie ended with a shaky inhale, viewers left in provoked thought that the beginning had brought, bringing everyone involved full circle.

The Punisher grips Marvel fans’ attention in release of first season

By Reagan O’Farrell

Art by Shelby Pennington

The Punisher started off with a bang- or more accurately, a hit-and-run murder, then a bang, then a strangulation in a men’s bathroom.

This TV show, which had its entire first season released by Netflix on Nov. 17, is not for the faint of heart. With graphic gore and an abundance of violence, not everyone can handle this story of an avenging anti-hero.

The Punisher circles around the story of Frank Castle, who is also known as “Punisher” and played by Jon Bernthal. After coming home from war and having his wife and two children murdered, he exacts revenge on those responsible before attempting to live out a quiet life. This quiet does not last long as he soon finds himself thrust into the vigilante lifestyle to uncover the conspiracies plaguing the nation.

The producers made an excellent choice in cast members for the show. Jon Bernthal, who was originally most notorious for his role as Shane early on in The Walking Dead, brings Punisher to life, making him into a relatable quasi-hero who also happens to live a life wrought with tragedy, death, and manipulation. His portrayal is a memorable one, and it is hard to imagine Bernthal in any other role given how fluidly he is portrayed in this one. Ebon Moss-Bachrach plays Micro, a former NSA computer analyst believed dead much like Punisher himself. His introduction is also the introduction to much of the humor in the show, even if that humor is scarce and often short-lived.

One of the most notable features of The Punisher is its soundtrack. The season-long introduction sequence alone offers music that parallels the show perfectly, intertwining with the dark images displayed in its mist. The action sequences are notable and undoubtedly memorable in the minds of viewers because of the hard, strong beats accompanying them that makes hearts beat faster in anticipation and excitement despite the gruesome behaviors it is exemplifying.

The Punisher is not slow, but it does take some time for the buildup before the main plot is fully introduced. There is a certain shadows and curtains aspect to the show, however, that keeps up the intrigue throughout, drawing in the more plot oriented minds as opposed to simply leading a character-driven story.

It delves deep into the importance of origins and the effects of social and government influence while also providing both subtle and direct criticisms of the inter-workings of the United States. These criticisms certainly raise questions and bring to light conspiracies that are sometimes swept under the rug by the public. While Punisher himself is no role model, he does act the door to both answers and the reality of human nature.

Overall, The Punisher is a good source of entertainment for both superhero fans and non-superhero fans alike. Those who primarily watch Marvel movies may be surprised at just how different this show is, but it still offers the much-desired action sequences that make those films noteworthy. While the brooding-man-who-lost-all-that-he-loved trope is strong in this one, it actually plays off well and with an air of rationality given Punisher’s overwhelmingly tragic backstory.

Netflix has been coming out with multiple memorable shows, and The Punisher will likely become an inevitable addition to that growing list.

‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ excites movie fans

Art by Shelby Pennington

By Reagan O’Farrell

A final group of people bustles into the already packed theater just as the lights go down, signaling the beginning of the film. People shift in their seats, turning off their phones as their focus now turns to the large screen before them.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle starts off with a bang, paralleling its predecessor of Kingsman: The Secret Service by instantly throwing moviegoers into the heat of the action. Taron Egerton returns as “Eggsy,” one of the two latest recruits to join the Kingsman, a spy organization created with the intention of upholding peace without the use of the government. Mark Strong, who plays “Merlin,” also returns, bringing with him a good portion of the comedy that makes the Kingsman movies so popular. The much-anticipated Colin Firth also returns as Harry Hart despite the seemingly fatal gunshot through the eye in the last movie.

This particular movie centers itself around a group known as The Golden Circle led by Julianne Moore as Poppy, who is the head of a major drug organization that plans on making its practices legalized by any means necessary.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle delves further into characters of whom little was really known about. Harry’s past, in particular, is subject to more scrutiny than previously, and more of Merlin’s personality is revealed through his excursions with Eggsy.

New characters are also introduced in the storyline, including Channing Tatum’s ‘Tequila,’ Halle Berry’s ‘Ginger,’ and Pedro Pascal’s ‘Whiskey.’ These players still did not quite overshadow the original characters, but Ginger and Tequila especially had fairly large roles throughout the movie. Channing Tatum did not appear in the movie nearly as often as one may have expected based on the trailers, but his presence as Tequila still impacted the actions of many characters whether or not he was on the screen.

Kingsman continues its trope of fantastical spy technology, even including a bionic arm that looks straight out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This comes as no surprise, though it did often lead to several easy wins that would never be possible without their presence. That being said, it did not hinder the movie: there are many battles that could not be solved by a nicely timed container of goop, and multiple resounding losses are faced.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle has been popular since its release on Sept. 22, possibly signaling the rise in popularity of movies that include a combination of action, adventure, and comedy. This movie blended all these genres together seamlessly, occasionally hardening back to The Secret Service in parody.

As with the first film, this movie was clever. Just like in The Secret Service where the “world ending” plot was radical though had its fair amount of reason and logic behind it, The Golden Circle has characters doing bad things for what they believe to be just reasons. While some aspects were more outlandish than others, with one of the main antagonists even bringing about some Hannibal-istic concepts, most of it was in no way entirely unheard of.

This movie does not appear to signal the end of the series: the tail end teases another sequel that may allow Kingsman to continue.

While this movie is certainly rated R for a reason, with its language, violence, and sensual content nobody can rightfully argue, it is certainly something worth seeing for the more mature audiences.

Avid readers anticipate release of Sarah J. Maas’s ‘Tower of Dawn’

Art by Ky Haney

By Reagan O’Farrell

A teenager tightly grips the hardbound pages of the book, opening up to the dog-eared spot from where she last left off. Flipping her hair from her face, she sinks her nose into the book, immediately becoming fully engrossed and incidentally ignoring the miffed stares of the people she nearly runs into.

Since the first installment of the Throne of Glass series was released in 2012, these books, written by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, have become a hit among young adults all across the nation. The sixth book, Tower of Dawn, was released on Sept.5.

This series is set around notorious assassin Caelena Sardothien as she finds herself exonerated from slavery by boy prince Dorian Havilliard, only to be trained by Captain of the Guard Chaol Westfall with the intention of becoming a personal operative for the ruthless king. As she battles against fellow thieves and killers, she must also discover the forces that have been brutally killing her competitors before it finally attacks her while simultaneously feigning as a mild-mannered lady at the glass castle. Despite her initial intentions, Caelena finds herself befriending Dorian and Chaol alongside the mysterious yet clever princess Nehemia Ytger.

Throne of Glass is deep within the epic fantasy genre with Sarah J. Maas having built a world entirely of its own making littered with the minute details that make readers feel as though they live there themselves. Stabs at romance can be found throughout the series, though more often in its latter half, and all of the books contain several action sequences written in enough detail to seem as though the fights are taking place on the physical earth.

While the writing is extraordinarily done, many critics have risen to the front in objection to the series’ applauded nature. Many of these criticisms are founded upon the characteristics of the protagonist, Caelena. She is a typical anti-hero: parallels can be drawn between her and other radical characters such as Deadpool. Some people develop bad tastes in their mouths when they hear too much of Caelena’s snarky attitude and are forced to understand what she has done to earn her title as a famous assassin. However, a number of these critics fail to note her development as one book evolves to the next. Her cynical nature becomes far less biting and sour and instead turns into an odd form of affection, and she addresses her own behaviors with a critical eye.

Others find more objection in the narrative style itself. They are none too fond of Maas’s thorough explicitness of both violent and sensual scenes, balking at the idea that children in the fifth grade could be found engrossed in the novels despite the fact that the intended audience is people in their later teens.

Throne of Glass is not without its faults, but Maas exhibits her natural talent in regards to wielding prose with her profound descriptions of both individuals and scenery. She also manages to leave seemingly irrelevant pieces of information throughout the books only to bring those details up later and express their weighty significance. Her characters are compelling, and despite the various number of them, they each receive adequate attention and development, all of whom connect back to Caelena herself.

The next book, Tower of Dawn, differs from the rest of the books in the series. Originally intended to simply be a novella, Maas became so invested in the book that it became a crucial component to the series. It is to be told from a perspective unlike the previous, with Caelena no longer being the forefront of the novel, instead being replaced by a male lead and female secondary character. This could bring an interesting change in the dynamic of the plot, but most readers have enough faith in Maas’s abilities to eagerly anticipate the installment.

For readers already invested in the series, Maas recommended in one of her newsletters to read her previous novella collection, The Assassin’s Blade, before proceeding to read Tower of Dawn.

Throne of Glass has been revving up in popularity these past few years, enough so for HBO to decide to create a television show based upon these books known as Queen of Shadows. While the characters may not find their way on screen for a little while, fans can look forward to reading the original ink and paper.

‘Wonder Woman’ smashes expectations

By Joey Bowling

Bullets fly across the screen, deflected by golden gauntlets. People are callously killed in some scenes, in others they are given a touching send off. No movie gives every character depth and expands upon their stories as wonderfully as Wonder Woman. The production is all at once heartwarming and action-packed.

Warner Bros. Pictures boasts an achievement that no other studios managed. Patty Jenkins is a female director of a superhero movie. This is a first in film history, considering no woman has ever directed a superhero movie before.

However, she also flips many common principles of female characters in media on their heads. Jenkins gives these Thymesciran Amazons back their bodies by giving them attire that is suitable for combat, rather than eye-candy. These women are a fierce race, dressing as if any moment they would step foot onto the battlefield.

Another norm she inverts is the scene in which Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is almost randomly naked, cupping his genitals after getting out of a bath. This goes against popular culture and shows viewers how awkward and unnecessary nude scenes are for developing a plot, something commonly used by male directors for female actors.

Speaking of nudity, parents should be aware that there is the scene above in the movie, as well as various innuendo throughout. One scene involves Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) and Trevor on a boat talking about procreation and “pleasures of the flesh.” There is little cursing in the movie, the harshest it gets is damn.

Another point of consideration for parents is the intense scenes. In one, a main character sacrifices himself to blow up a ship filled with poisonous gas. Before that, a scientist in Germany is experimenting on people and how to most effectively kill them.

Moving on to actual movie scenes, it entertains all sorts of attendees. The fight sequences will quell the more bloodthirsty viewers, while there is a tender romantic subplot for the bleeding hearts out there.

The fight scenes are intense between Prince and German soldiers. She also carries herself triumphantly against the main antagonist Ares in the climactic fight scene.

The movie also employs a diverse cast of characters, from the black and Asian Amazonians to the Israeli lead, Gadot. The movie has been lauded as a cornucopia of diversity by critics such as Hypable and PJ Media.

Another worthy mention of the movie is its memorable quotes. An exchange between Trevor and Prince, goes as such.

Trevor leads with “I can’t let you do this.”

Prince’s passionate reply is “What I do is not up to you.” A fan favorite quote from the movie resonates with many audiences, said by Prince near the end of the film. “It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love.”

Over all, Wonder Woman proves to be a home run for anyone who watches it. With quotes littered throughout like gems, and fight scenes helping to make sure the movie doesn’t stagnate, it is a titillating film for all ages.