Movie and Book Reviews

Children of Blood and Bone– Book Review

Started in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans, black history month is celebrated in February. It was in 1976 when the US president Gerald Ford officially declared February Black History Month.

One of the most celebrated young adult novels from 2018 was written by Nigerian- American Tomi Adeyemi. She wrote her book,  Children of Blood and Bone, with the vision of acknowledging police brutality against African-Americans. The author mentions victims whose stories stuck out to her. She shows her frustrations through her story, but Adeyemi’s book is full of culture, magic, and inspiration. The main character Zélie is discriminated against for her maji heritage. In the fantasy world of Orïsha, the maji were worshiped for their connections with gods of their time. The maji were recognized by their dark ebony complexion and white hair. Some started to abuse their powers which lead to the gods revoking their powers as punishment. The King, out of fear of losing his family again, murdered any maji who had ever harnessed the power of magic. King Saran murders countless majis, leaving the main character, Zélie, motherless, hopeless, and scared. With the maij being defenseless, the king does everything in his power to destroy their culture and traditions. The term “maggot” is the hateful title assigned to Zélie’s people. It is a term used to degrade and embarrass the once powerful community. Tomi Adeyemi’s story is captivating, inspiring, and hopeful. With a West-African main character, the novel captures a diverse audience by allowing them to view themselves as the heroes surviving in a harsh world.

Aquaman Review

By  Madison L.

December 21st, 2018, Aquaman hit the big screen! The film takes place after the events of Justice League in the DC Extended Universe timeline.

Before the initial release of the film, it was met with much criticism. Aquaman has always been somewhat of ‘a joke’ in the DC Universe, so many thought the film was doomed from the start. This criticism definitely didn’t improve when word got out Jason Momoa was playing Aquaman. Although his portrayal of  Chieftain Khal Drogo of the Dothraki in the hit HBO television show Game Of Thrones is one of the most cherished performances in the series, many simply could not see him playing Arthur Curry.Aquaman

I myself had many doubts for the film. The DC Extended Universe definitely has not had the same fortune and endearment the Marvel Cinematic Universe has received. Especially with box office bombs such as: Suicide SquadBatman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice and The Justice League, this film certainly didn’t give superhero fans much hope. But James Wan would light a spark for the DC Universe.

Aquaman follows the story of Arthur Curry, a man born from the lighthouse keeper, Thomas Curry and the Queen of Atlantis, Atlanna. A boy born of two different worlds brought together by chance and love.

Unfortunately Arthur’s mother, Atlanna, would not be able to stay with her family as the Mad King Orvax, the man who she was meant to wed, demands her return to Atlantis.

After the events of Justice League, Arthur continues to use his abilities to help the people of the surface and keep peace in his hometown, but this would quickly change.

Princess Mera arrives in the surface world to warn him of his half brother King Orm’s (played by Patrick Wilson) plan to declare war on the surface world. Although Arthur refuses at first, he realizes that his home is in terrible danger and only agrees so that he may protect the surface world.

Through the film, Arthur learns the meaning of being a hero and discovers the king that’s been inside of him all along.

The film received a 7.5/10 from IMDb. One reviewer, Neil Soans from Times of India,  says, “Jason Momoa, combined with some insane action setpieces, make for convincing reasons to dive into the world of ‘Aquaman.” Matt Zoller Seitz from RogerEbert states that “The most remarkable aspect, though, is the way “Aquaman” pushes against the idea that every problem can be solved by violence. There are plenty of bruising fights on land and sea, plus laser shootouts and aquatic infantry clashes, but some of the most important showdowns are resolved peacefully, through conversation, negotiation, and forgiveness. Men as well as women cry in this movie, and the sight is treated not as a shameful loss of dignity, but as the normal byproduct of pain or joy. For all its wild spectacle and cartoon cleverness, this is a quietly subversive movie, and an evolutionary step forward for the genre.”

Aquaman is definitely worthy of the title ‘Superhero Movie’ as Jason Momoa brings the character Arthur Curry to life and inspires children and adults around the world with what the true meaning of hero.

Bumblebee

By Madison L.

Bumblebee released in theatres around the world December 3rd, 2018. The film is a prequel to the Transformers series.

The film takes place in the 80s as the Autobot Bumblebee or ‘B-127’ is assigned to go to Earth to set a base for the Autobots by Optimus Prime as they continue their rebellion against the evil Decepticons.

Upon his arrival on Earth, he is attacked by Sector 7 agents (starring John Cena), of course, this attack only worsens when Blitzwing arrives on Earth and attempts to kill the squadron and Bumblebee. The fight scene gives the origins on how Bee lost his voice, as Bumblebee posterBlitzwing rips out his voice box. Although Bee defeats the Decepticon, he is severely injured and his memory core begins to fail just as he scans a Volkswagen Beetle before shutting down.

This would be how B-127 meets Charlie (played by Hailee Steinfeld), an eighteen year-old girl who recently lost her father and has disconnected from the world due to the tragedy.

The film is compared to the Academy winner for best picture of 2018 The Shape of Water, as the film hints and teases a romantic connection between the two. Although Charlie’s neighbor Memo has a romantic interest in her, the film obviously pushes Bee and Charlie together; the film even shows that it was Charlie who gave B-127 the name ‘Bumblebee,’ but if you’re expecting to see an autobot/human kiss, you will be as disappointed.

The film definitely measures up to the first Transformers movie and is undoubtedly a breath of fresh air after Age Of Extinction and The Last Knight.

The film received at 7.3 from IMDb, a 3/4 from the Washington Post, and even received a 92% from Rotten Tomatoes.

The film will indubitably please long Transformer fans. Bumblebee is also a movie not just fans will enjoy but children and families of all ages will adore. The movie will also get a soundtrack of the hottest 80s hits stuck in your head all day!

Ralph Breaks the Internet- Review

By Alyssa T.

Ralph Breaks the Internet is a newly released sequel of Wreck It Ralph. This family friendly PG film runs an hour and fifty-six minutes long and teaches about how a strong friendship can really last through “thick and thin”.  

Compared to the first movie, Wreck It Ralph, it contains appeal, for a sequel. Ralph Breaks the Internet does not have some of the main characters from the first movie such as Fix-It Felix, Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun. The new movie still manages to pull through and be a decent movie.

From beginning to end, the viewer is pulled into the story line. “Colorful, clever sequel tackles complexity of online world,” touts Common Sense Media. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the “tomatometer” rates it as 88% “fresh” while 68% of the audience actually like it. Rotten Tomatoes critics say, “Ralph Breaks the Internet levels up on its predecessor with a funny, heartwarming sequel that expands its colorful universe while focusing on core characters and relationships.”

 

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King Movie Review

By Madison L.Nutcracker and the four realms

With the release of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the newest adaptation of the  classic and timeless tale, told since 1816, presents itself to the the public.

The book has received a variety of  relatively recent video adaptations from The Nutcracker Prince (1990) to the Barbie in The Nutcracker (2001) finally now to The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

The film follows the story of a young girl named Clara (played by Mackenzie Foy) who receives a strange box as a gift from father, a hat originally belonging to her mother.

Clara soon discovers a hidden world where she meets a nutcracker named Phillip.

The duo must save the three realms: the Land of Snowflakes, the Land of Flowers and the Land of Sweets from the ominous fourth realm and its tyrant, Mother Ginger. They must find the key to unlock the mysterious box and finally bring order and harmony to the realms once more.

The Nutcracker has always been a beloved classic, but sadly, the film doesn’t live up to the same fame as the original tale, receiving only a 5.6/10 from IMDb, 32% from Rotten Tomatoes, and a 39% approval rating from Metacritic.

Austin Chronicle states, “The film is as bland as Melba toast served on a bed of parsley while snatching sips of water from a nearby puddle following a rainstorm (that actually, in retrospect, could have some flavor). It is the very antithesis of creative destruction.”

Katie Rife, from The A.V. Club, states, “Every aspect of of the movie feels as if it’s been determined by algorithm, workshopped, and test-marketed into a state of pleasant, fleeting dullness.”

Additionally,  The New York Times simply states that the film is “Fine and forgettable.”

Although the film had its noticeable flaws, many viewers and critics saw past the flaws and more into the artistic creativity in the re-telling.

“An uneven and festive offering brimming with glitter and gaudiness that excels when it embraces its strangeness and the brilliance of the production design,” as IGN states.

The film had a brilliant and profound idea but fell short in becoming a classic remake. However, even in all its “forgettableness,” it is an enjoyable film. The costumes are creative and ornate while the story has a firm ground and a fascinating twist to the original.

The film will definitely charm families, friends, and children of all ages once, even if it is not destined to become a classic.

 

Bohemian Rhapsody

By Madison L.

Bohemian Rhapsody

The movie is a biographical film about the British rock band Queen. The film follows the inspiration of lead singer, Freddie Mercury, played by Rami Malek. The film goes from the creation of the band to one of the most iconic songs Bohemian Rhapsody finally to their legendary performance at Live Aid.

The film overall had very mixed reviews. The film received an 8.4/10 from reviewers like IMDB and 49% from Metacritic. Many fans feel the movie follows the beginning life of Freddie Mercury and the formation of the band but lacks focus on the people themselves. One fan on IndieWire states, “Precious little of Bohemian Rhapsody is interested in human beings and how they work. More often than not, the film makes you feel like you’re watching a group of talented actors cos-play Queen’s Wikipedia page, all of them fudging the facts whenever they get too close to making these rock legends seem like real people. Or — worse — fudging the facts in order to make these rock legends seem like real people.”

The reviews for the film are shaky. Many fans feel the movie succeeded in the only way it could have while others felt as if more could have been done. One of the main feature fans felt lacking was the personal life of Freddie Mercury. Some felt this could’ve been explored or followed up with more, but Freddie’s personal life felt more as only a ‘sideshow’ to the film.

Overall though, the film is well worth a watch, as Rami Malek portrays the legendary Freddie Mercury in a way not many other actors could match. Even those who are not fans of Queen will still find the movie very enlightening as it skims the surface of the group’s formation and their hit song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” However, those looking for deeper personal life stories of the band members may not find this film satisfactory.

 

The House with a Clock in Its Walls Movie Review

By Leah T.

Jack Black delivers his signature style of comedy in the recent release, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, managing to stand out among the movie’s actors such as Cate Blanchett and Owen Vaccaro.

The film adaptation, based off John Bellairs’ novel of the same title, tells the story of young newly orphaned Lewis Barnevelt (Owen Vaccaro) as he starts off anew living with his uncle, Jonathan Barnevelt (Jack Black) and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett).

The tale takes a turn as Jonathan confesses to Lewis that he is a warlock and that Mrs. Zimmerman is a witch. Jonathan then agrees to help teach Lewis to become a warlock and assist him on learning about the world of magic. However, events unfortunately unfold when Lewis “accidentally” raises infamous magician, Isaac Izard, back from the grave; Jonathan’s choice leads audiences to learn more about the histories of the characters and magic on its own behalf.

The film’s making had suspicion surrounding it as the director, Eli Roth, has previously directed a multitude of darker, grotesque films: This raised the eyebrows of moviegoers as they discovered his rendition of a film mainly for children.

On the contrary, The House with a Clock in Its Walls gives watchers an entertaining story as Roth delves straight into the story and its contents. The film can be rendered as a “just for kids” classic that was produced in the 1980s and 1990s while it gives off its own special magical touch.

Given that the adaptation does indeed lack complete creativity and concrete textual details of the world, this film provides a light into the genre of children’s movies. It offers many laughs and jokes alongside the positivity and humanity of the characters. Additionally, it bestows upon onlookers a certain Autumn and Halloween vibe as the magic and narrative is performed.

The biggest question is this: was the film a big hit in the box office? Making only $26.8 million in the first three days of release, as ScreenRant calculated, the figure on its own doesn’t produce the most impressive results. However, the high-minded message strongly stands out against all other odds and confusions.

With a score of 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a “family-friendly blend of humor and horror with an infectious sense of fun.” (Critics Consensus)

Tomb Raider Movie Review

By Madison L.

On March 16, 2018, the Tomb Raider movie was released in theaters all around the world. Tomb Raider is a video game first released on October 25th in 1996. The main character, Lara Croft, is a young adventurous archaeologist following in her late father’s footsteps to discover the lost and forbidden secrets hidden in the world. Of course, this is not the first Tomb Raider movie, two other movies were made in the early 2000’s, but the 2018 version follows the reboot of the game released in 2013, although sadly, in many fans’ eyes, the reboot failed to capture the video game’s prestige. To many long time Tomb Raider fans, actress Alicia Vikander was the perfect choice for Lara Croft, and many fans still believe she is, even with the flaws of the movie. Some felt the movie focused too much on the beginning of Lara herself and less on her struggle to become the tomb raider. Her legendary quests, her family’s honor,  and her will to fight and survive at any cost, is what, to many fans, makes Lara such an interesting character.

Reviews by Rotten Tomatoes, Empire Online, Meta Critic and numerous other review sites believe the movie completely ignored the development and drive of Lara Croft as one reviewer on IMDB stated, “It’s a good movie, but it’s not quite Tomb Raider. They cut many essential characters to Lara’s journey and even changed somethings about Lara herself. I believe Alicia is an amazing actress and could even bring a generation of Tomb Raider films, but I felt the story just lacked the emotional investment it so desperately needed. I suggest going and seeing the movie, it’s definitely worth the time, but just as I said before: It’s not quite Tomb Raider.” Finally, of course the movie has it flaws and fans will definitely notice it, but truly overall, the movie is an opening to a much larger story. One reviewer  from Empire Online believes it to be “a seed to a much larger tree to grow in the future.”  The movie interweaves a tale of adventure, friendship, thrilling action, and jaw dropping moments that makes the movie worth the watch.