Book Review: Dread Nation

Dread NationChelsea Mancilla, Guest Writer

 

“Dread Nation” by Justina Ireland is a work of historical fiction that includes numerous elements of fantasy. Set after the Civil War, the dead have risen after the grisly Battle of Gettysburg, and a single bite can infect anyone. Ireland’s story reimagines the Reconstruction era with the perils of the undead roaming across the east coast, or as the book calls them, “Shamblers.”

Although slaves have been freed, many children are forcibly enrolled in schools to train as attendants (soldiers) to protect the wealthy families and cities. Jane McKeene is a student at one of these schools. Despite the fact that her mother is the wife of a plantation owner, McKeene is also the daughter of an unknown slave. Jane often relives fond memories from her home with her mother and Aunt Aggie. From the moment she was born, her aunt always protected her. 

At first, Jane was hidden from the recruiters that drafted students into combat schools. She was raised on a plantation in Haller County, Ky. Eventually she is caught and sent to Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore. Jane excels in combat, but often disobeys the rules at school. She leaves the grounds to lay down in the meadow and watch the sky, and goes out on the road to kill off Shamblers. 

Ireland successfully integrates characters of different backgrounds into her tale. Katherine Deveraux is Jane’s rival at Miss Preston’s School. Deveraux is extremely fair, and is able to pass as white. In the beginning, Katherine and Jane are at odds with each other, but when they are both taken out of Baltimore, they must rely on each other to survive. While Jane and Katherine feel like genuine people, any side characters disappear, and seem like props on a stage.

In “Dread Nation,” the descendants of Africans are blamed for the rising dead, and it is even believed that African Americans are immune to a Shambler’s bite. Even if a person testifies they saw a black person being bitten, that person can be sold like livestock again. Even though the story is set in a very different historical context, there are similarities between this rampant disease that turns people into zombies, and the COVID-19 outbreak that plagues the world today. 

Other than the mere fact that they are both world altering diseases, the social effects of COVID-19 on the Asian American community can be compared to the way in which the African American community suffered in the book. Increased racism against those who logically have no culpability for the virus has been experienced by Asian Americans since COVID-19 emerged, and rumors spread about how they all carry the virus, despite the factual inaccuracy of such a statement. The theme of racial oppression is apparent in the story, and one of the ways that it manifests is how Jane must mask her ability and intelligence in order to avoid punishment.

Jane is a well-educated girl, but cannot read in public because it is illegal for African-Americans to read. There are relevant topics in this book regarding equality and race that readers should examine closely.

This book is an intriguing tale, which allows the reader to visit a distant past – albeit with some historical changes. Jane McKeene is a best friend anyone would want by their side when fighting zombies. “Dread Nation” is part of a duology. The second book, titled “Deathless Divide,” will surely serve as a compelling conclusion to the series, as “Dread Nation” will leave readers hungering for more. 

Best shows to stream during quarantine

Tiger KingEmmanuel Son, Staff Writer

 

Due to quarantine and states being placed under lockdown, many are left looking to our favorite streaming services for entertainment. It might take some time before life gets back to normal, but thanks to technology, we can stream shows to keep us occupied. Here are some of the most popular trending series since quarantine started. 

One show is the obvious pick of the “Mandalorian,” a spin-off series of the Star Wars franchise. This Disney Plus original follows a bounty hunter making his way through the galaxy as the fall of the Galactic Empire causes anarchy. According to the LA Times, you do not have to be a fan 

of Star Wars in order to understand or enjoy the series. 

Disney Plus also features a wide range of family friendly series. Think about where you might travel once lockdown ends with National Geographic’s series “America’s National Parks.” Take a journey right at home exploring nature with “Earth Live” hosted by Jane Lynch, Phil Keogen, and wildlife expert Chris Packham.

It is not the easiest thing to be forced to stay home for the next month or so, despite most of us having a bed, a couch, air conditioner or heater, television, and most importantly – internet. But can you think of what it must be like to have to be stuck on an island where you must build your shelter and gather or hunt for food with just the people you are thrown together with for the last 39 days? Welcome to the world of “Survivor” hosted by Jeff Probst, where contestants must go through all that while also having to compete in challenges to win rewards or increase their odds of winning $1,000,000. Available on CBS, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Fubo, and YouTube – watch seasons of some of the greatest survivors to ever play before watching season 40, the current season. 

Anime fans have many options as well, and being in quarantine might give you a chance to become a fan if you are not already. Among Hulu picks is “Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba,” based on  the Taisho Period in Japan. The series follows Tanjiro, a warmhearted boy who sells charcoal for a living who decides to become a demon slayer after his friends and family are murdered by the demon and his sister is turned into one herself. This series is also available on YouTube TV and Crunchyroll. 

Another Anime series that just came out this year is “Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun.” Yashiro Nene is in her freshman year of high school at Kamome Academy. While investigating a rumor, she comes across the host of Hanako-Kun. Can students and the supernatural remain civil? This series is also available on the Google Play Store, as well as YouTube and Amazon Prime Video. 

In the category of foreign entertainment, South Korean dramas (K-dramas) have been a popular choice of entertainment. “Crash Landing on You” is a highly rated series available on Netflix. When a tornado strikes Seoul, it knocks out an heiress walking in the city. The wind then blows her into the DMZ, where South Koreans are banned, and she is helped by a male North Korean special forces captain. Although not permitted, he creates a plan to secretly take her back to her home on the southern side. Also on Netflix is “The King: Eternal Monarch,” a story that follows a Korean emperor as he tries to close doors to a different world which was opened by demons releasing a deity into the human world. 

In light of today’s pandemic, the doc-series “Pandemic” follows what the world was like during the influenza outbreak. Most of us cannot see the world right now as a lot of us are at home. This series, however, gives its audience a look into the eyes of front liners and their heroic efforts to stop the spread of the virus. 

What might be the most obvious and most talked about on everybody’s minds is “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.” This series was already gaining much attention before people were quarantined. The eight-part docu-series follows notorious zoo operator Joseph Allen-Maldonado-Passage, known as Joe Exotic, with his controversial practices regarding animals, mainly focusing on Tigers. Learn about the famous feud between Exotic and Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, a Florida based non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing exotic cats. Follow the drama in the world when it comes to cat breeding. This series is exclusively on Netflix. 

 

“The Guinevere Deception” an intriguing read

DeceptionsChelsea Mancilla, Guest Writer

 

“The Guinevere Deception” by Kiersten White, published in November 2019, captures my imagination in this revision of Arthurian legend. Guinevere is barely a woman, but in medieval times, she is old enough to be wed at 16 years old. However, Guinevere is not who she appears to be. She tells the story in the third person, and recounts how she has replaced the real Guinevere, after the princess unexpectedly dies; having been sent by Merlin. In the story Merlin has been banished from Camelot, and all magic is banned from the kingdom.

White breathes new life into the legend of Guinevere and Arthur. Guinevere is a realistic figure as she struggles to find purpose and balance her personal needs. She has given up her own identity to become Guinevere, a princess from a southern kingdom. On their wedding night, Guinevere refuses to tell Arthur her true name, believing that she must immerse herself in her new identity as Queen Guinevere. She misses her home in the forest with Merlin, but finds friendship in Camelot with her lady-in-waiting and Arthur. As the Queen of Camelot, Guinevere has many responsibilities, which interrupt her duties as Arthur’s protector. In addition, magic has been banned from Camelot and any witches and sorcerers banished from the city. 

White produces captivating prose that energizes the imagination. 

Phrasing, such as, “She longed to cling to his certainty, but his confidence flowed swiftly past her and out of her reach,” offers vibrant descriptions of Guinevere’s feelings and experiences.

White balances Guinevere’s naivety, with a strong sense of duty and faith, while also weaving in an air of mystery, produced by the dark forces seeking to destroy Arthur and Camelot. 

When Guinevere is attacked by a boar, she assumes it is a witch that was recently banished from Camelot, but the reader has insight that Guinevere has not accessed yet. This style of writing holds the reader in suspense, asking questions like, “Who or what is the evil that wants to get rid of Guinevere?” 

Another interesting factor in White’s novel is her pacing. The plot is an intricate mystery, which will have the reader asking questions along the way and making discoveries along with Guinevere. The Queen of Camelot believes that her enemy is a witch from Camelot and an enigmatic knight, only known as the Patchwork Knight, due to his unusual armor. While I will try not to give too much away, Guinevere must find clues while evading her dutiful lady-in-waiting and the people of Camelot. If her powers were ever discovered, she would not only be putting herself at risk of banishment, but ruin Arthur’s reputation, as well. The stakes are incredibly high, as the well-being of the king and kingdom are Guinevere’s responsibility. 

“The Guinevere Deception” will provide an intriguing read, and I hope you will all add it to your “to be read list.” I personally recommend the audio version, narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden, which offers an extra bit of immersion for readers. Knowelden has a soothing voice and the amazing ability to change it to fit the character. I should also note that this is the first book in White’s series, “The Camelot Rising Trilogy.” Fans of this novel can look forward to more of  the series, and perhaps other books by the same author.

 

“To all the boys I’ve loved before” gets sequel

To all the boysCheyenne Yap, Staff Writer

 

Heartbreak, happiness, pain and love – just a few of the many emotions that are felt while watching “P.S. I Still Love You,” the long-awaited sequel of “To All The Boys I Loved Before.”  The young-adult romance movies are based on the book series written by Jenny Han of the same name.

In the first movie, Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) writes a series of love letters to the crushes that she had during middle school. Without Lara Jean’s knowledge, the letters get sent out with Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) being one of the recipients. Over the course of the film, Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky fake a relationship to make Peter’s ex-girlfriend jealous. But at the end of the movie, the tables turn, and Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky fall in love with each other, eventually becoming a couple.

At the start of the sequel, “P.S I Still Love You,” Lara Jean is completely head over heels for Peter. They are officially a couple who go on cute dates at fancy restaurants and walks in the park. Later in the movie, Lara gets a letter from one of her middle school crushes- John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher). 

John Ambrose and Lara Jean unexpectedly work together as volunteers at an assisted living home called “Bellview.” While working together, they bond and get to know each other on a deeper level. This concerns Peter because this means Lara Jean and John Ambrose are going to be together more than expected. Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship dynamic weakens and causes them to break up in this movie, but he eventually fights to get her back. At the end, Lara Jean has the decision to pick between John Ambrose and Peter to be with, and picks Peter.

In the first movie, viewers got to know Peter and Lara Jean on a deeper level. Peter was portrayed as a sweet guy that would do anything to make Lara Jean happy. This all changed in the second movie. Their relationship is portrayed as imperfect and unhappy.

“For every first I was having with him, he already had his with her,” Lara Jean said. 

Throughout the whole movie, it is very obvious that Lara Jean is insecure about Peter’s past relationship with his ex-girlfriend. Peter is the first boyfriend she has ever had, and because of this, she was not exposed to all the hardships that every relationship goes through. Lara Jean had imagined her relationship to be a perfect fairy tale. In the movie, they make a promise to each other that they will never fight again. So, when problems in their relationship started to arise, she would rethink their relationship. She convinces herself that she is in love with Peter but cannot stop thinking about John Ambrose. 

There is a burning conflict that is between Peter and John Ambrose throughout the whole movie. Eventually, Lara Jean comes to terms with herself and chooses Peter. This controversial decision raises many burning questions on why she made that certain decision. Many fans after the movie were divided between Team John Ambrose and Team Peter.

The end of the film brings many loose ends together to form the fairy tale ending that Lara Jean always wanted. Though she might not have ended up with the man fans wish she had, the film is a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening.

 

Inspiration through music: Saint Martin’s annual Hope Concert

Hope Concert

Myki Dee Kim, Staff Writer

 

On March 4, 2020, the Marcus Pavilion was transformed from a sporting arena to a stage for the arts. The celebration of music featured Saint Martin’s very own chorale, directed by Darrell Born and accompanied by Nickolas Carlson, and Jazz band, directed by Brad Schrandt. The night featured music groups, soloists, duets, and bands. The songs that had been chosen were meant to bring hope in today’s world. All performances were emotional, light, and inspirational for all in attendance.

The chorale, made up of about 50 students and faculty, split into four major voice parts that joined together harmoniously into cohesive pieces, which brought awe. For the first time ever, Saint Martin’s very own Jazz band performed in the annual Hope Concert. The group featured seven students and one faculty member performing in the middle of the concert, and had everyone in the room moving to the jazzy beat of their tunes. 

Throughout the night, student soloists, duets, and bands were featured. Prior to the concert, students auditioned and worked closely with Born and Carlson to ensure that each performance went smoothly. Their hard work showed as they all sounded fantastic. The performance pieces included traditional folk songs, personal compositions, musical theater/show tune favorites, classic rock, and metal. Students not only sang, but also accompanied each other on drums, bass, and guitar, forming exceptional ensembles . 

The Hope Concert is traditionally a free concert with donations being greatly appreciated. Every year, the Fine Arts department chooses a hopeful cause to donate voluntary proceeds to. This year, the proceeds went directly towards Saint Martin’s students participating in alternative spring break trips in Flint, Michigan and McAllen, Texas. Student representatives spoke at the concert to give their personal service experiences and what they hope to gain on their respective trips. 

Those in attendance were faculty, staff, students, families, and friends. Gabrielle Bond, a Saint Martin’s student, noted that this year’s concert was the first performance she had attended during her time at the university. Bond noted that the concert brought a sense of peace. Every song gave  her a feeling of warmth, and once the concert was over, she felt uplifted. As the concert fell in the middle of midterms, Bond stated that although she had a stressful week, the concert was a wonderful gift and she was extremely thankful for performers for giving of their time and talents to showcase that evening. She also stated, “I have friends who perform and I’m so proud and I want to hug the people I don’t know because they are just so talented.” 

Another student, Christopher Gizinski, had a similar experience to Bond, as it was also his first time attending a Saint Martin’s concert. He said that the concert brought him a sense of relief and a nice break from schoolwork. Bond and Gizinski both said that it was a wonderful experience and they are extremely impressed with the amount of work that was put into the evening. They  are both looking forward to more concerts and performances held by the school in the future.  

The concert concluded with a chorale tradition of Revelation 19 – a staple song for the Choir where all those who have previously participated in the chorale are invited up to the front to sing in unison with the group. 

Preservation of the arts is so important and Saint Martin’s Fine Arts department does wonders with all they do on campus and in the greater community. Make sure to keep an eye out for any other Chorale, Jazz Band, and Wind Ensemble performances, because you will not want to miss it. To all those who participated in the concert, congratulations on another exceptional performance, Bravi Tutti.

Sonic the Hedgehog speeds into theaters 

Victoria Hall, Staff Writer 

 

For his first feature film, director Jeff Fowler was faced with no easy task. A plot involving an intergalactic, portal-jumping hedgehog can go in many directions – but he made sure to deliver exactly what “Sonic the Hedgehog” fans showed up to see: speed. 

The movie opens with a flash-forward to a high-speed chase, and that same momentum continues throughout the duration of the film. There is no shortage of rapid, action-fueled, crescendo-filled scenes, cushioned by slow-motion shots of a vivid blue hedgehog bursting with personality. 

Like the main character, the story moves quickly. The film immediately deepens into a plot of childhood tragedy for the protagonist, creating a new level of sentiment for an already beloved and nostalgic character. After defining the core features and motivations of the protagonists, the movie alternates between visually pleasing action scenes, character-building asides, and emotionally packed deliveries of plot-points. It is one-part pop culture one-liners, one-part improbable buddy-cop escapades, and wholly steeped in all the visual wonder that modern computer-generated imagery (CGI) has to offer. 

In spite of the emphasis on speed, Fowler takes an impressively well-paced approach. The easy and obvious path would have been to present Sonic as the embodiment of “fast,” and the film as his racetrack. However, Fowler has no taste for low hanging fruit. Instead he works the idea elegantly, flowing with an otherwise complex character and plot. The movie narrative, like the main character, is not afraid of getting derailed, taking its time, and stopping to smell the roses. This is the quality most events in the movie take on – nothing seems important until it suddenly is, at which point is resolved quickly and the pace returns to a leisurely stride.

Ben Schwartz, the voice of Sonic, delivered dialogue with all the energy of an excited and inattentive child. Whether making glib, self-aware observations, excited realizations, or pop culture references, Schwartz keeps things vibrant. He can change the atmosphere of a scene as quickly as he changes subjects and is ultimately responsible for catalyzing the adventures he shares with his fellow cast. Voiced by a 38-year-old actor, Sonic’s age is understandably ambiguous. However, he does a remarkable job representing the timeless charm of the spiky blue hero.

Matching Schwartz’s energy is Sonic’s on-screen nemesis, Dr. Robotnik. The diabolical villain is played by Jim Carrey, who is as quick with his wit as Sonic is with his feet. Carrey injects the experience with a different kind of tension. As expected, he has a magnificent screen presence and his performance is more immersive than the CGI that surrounds him. He effortlessly glides between caricature and sophistication, embodying villainy infuriating enough to make you hate him, before reminding you why you can’t help but love him. Every movie he stars in becomes a “Jim Carrey” movie, and “Sonic the Hedgehog” is no exception.

In the other corner, James Marsden portrays Tom Wachowski, and creates a slower, calmer angle. In a movie coursing with fast-paced action, Marsden brings a sense of grounding to a series of fantastic events. He keeps cool even while forced to digest the improbable, impossible, and at times, downright traumatizing. He does so while weaving in themes of camaraderie. His friendly face, hometown vibe, and easy smile are what make this film an emotional investment. Without him, there would be no underlying message behind the story – that it is sometimes worth it to slow down and hold onto the things you want to last. 

Marsden’s on screen wife, Maddie Wachowski, is an awkwardly tossed-in side character. Actress Tika Sumpter has perhaps the most difficult job of the movie: tying Maddie into the plot in a relevant manner. She misses most of the story before scrambling to find a relationship that makes sense with the two main protagonists. Lacking other substance, it seems as though her character is the “supportive wife.” Unfortunately, her seamless acclimation to outrageousness unfolding around her (such as spaceships and alien hedgehogs), threatens the viewer’s immersion with how inappropriately calm she is. Though not as relevant as other characters, she manages to produce an element of relatability that gives the audience something to hold on to when everything else is orbiting the unusual.

Overall, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is quick and wholesome. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in quirky charm. While it isn’t quite in the ballpark of family movie classics like “Frozen,” or “The Princess Bride,” it is absolutely good enough to sit on the shelf beside “Wreck it Ralph” and similar fare. This film is a well-executed reference to a franchise that still seems to be going fast after many years.

Book Review: “Follow Me to Ground”

Chelsea Mancilla, Guest Writer

 

The short novel titled, “Follow Me to Ground” by Sue Rainsford, was originally published in Dublin. In January 2020, it was published in the United States. This book reminds me of Flannery O’Connor because of the eerie ambience from the text. The author introduces Ada and her strong distaste for slugs. The tone of the book is akin to a classic fairytale and a modern horror story. The text itself can be graphic in a medical sense. Rainsford creates a mysterious world and demonstrates how our innermost urges can take a dark turn.

Main characters, Ada and her father, are not human; the locals accept them as necessary oddities. For generations, Ada’s father has healed the townspeople. Ada was her father’s apprentice for as long as she can remember, as she is unique for many reasons, one of which is her abnormal creation. 

Ada was not born normally. Her father had to make her from what they call, “the Ground.” Ada discovers that there were many failed attempts before she was made, but she could not help wondering if her father was still disappointed with the result. 

In addition, Ada has had the same appearance for most of her life. Although she may have the body of a young girl, she continues to mentally mature. She is determined to become an independent individual, and begins a relationship with a human called Samson. 

Samson’s widowed sister and Ada’s father greatly disapprove of the arrangement. Despite her father’s warnings that Samson is filled with a “sickness,” Ada believes that she has the power to heal him and that she must protect him from his sister, Olivia.

The townspeople know little else about Ada and her father. Throughout the novel there are short chapters from the townspeople’s points of view. 

One of these perspectives shares, “We’d be talking easily enough and then all of a sudden I’d remember he knew my pop and all my uncles from the day they were born till the day they died. I suppose it was easy to forget because they made it easy. They had to, to get by.” 

Although there are myths that surround Ada and her father, the townspeople often go to them for healing services. 

I wonder if Rainsford was influenced by religion, just as O’Connor would have been. Many other book reviews praised Rainsford’s work, including The Guardian’s deputy literary editor, Justine Jordan, who wrote, “This seethingly assured Irish debut infuses magic realism with critical and feminist theory, but the generous dose of horror movie imagery brings a left-field project firmly into the literary mainstream.”

While this book may be above my critical thinking skill, I know a good book from a bad one. If you enjoy novels with a coming-of-age theme with intriguing and fantastical twists and turns, then this is the book for you. This book will challenge you as a reader to think critically, but it is a short story that you can finish in a day. This should be the next book on your reading list. Happy reading!

Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn)

Kaitlin Cunningham, Staff Writer 

 

For any DC Comics fans, the long-awaited “Birds of Prey” is out now. The much-anticipated female-empowered blockbuster was released on Feb. 7, and the buzz around the film has been endless. 

This riot of a movie is a sequel to the not-so-well-received “Suicide Squad,” which left DC fans and critics with a bad taste in their mouths, according to 269 of 368 reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes website, which gave the movie an overall score of 27 percent. 

The plot of “Birds of Prey” unfolds after the main character, Harley Quinn, and The Joker ‘go splitsville,’ allowing Harley to make her own name known by pairing up with several characters well known to comic lovers. Black Canary and Huntress, both female villains from various DC comic series make their appearance as comrades of the protagonist as the fun-loving and chaotic crew attempt to take down a local crime lord and gain notoriety at the same time. 

With quirky quotes, off-the-wall anecdotes, and a large amount of violence and profanity, it may not seem like it, but this movie is about feminism and the importance of having one’s own identity. 

The entire premise of the film comes about because Harley realizes how extremely codependent and toxic her relationship with The Joker was. The film portrays Harley’s extremely violent behavior as a sort of rage therapy; helping her to cope with the newly found stress of being single, and realization that the relationship she believed was making her happy was also the cause of much of her misery.  

 

Harley’s mission to strike out on her own accord, brings to mind questions such as: how does one go about regaining their identity after a toxic relationship, and what is a toxic relationship? 

For students, these types of questions are often very relevant, and can serve as excellent springboards for those who might already be in a toxic relationship, yet not even realize it.

According to Psychology Today, some signs of unhealthy relationships are forced social isolation — when a partner wants to be the sole focus of a person’s time and does not allow for the free development of a person’s own social life, or feeling the need to hide one’s true self from a partner; a potential indicator of severe power differences in a relationship.

Though taking over a city is an effective coping mechanism for Harley Quinn, such a feat is not an option for most people. For more information about moving on from toxic relationships or understanding healthy coping mechanisms, the Saint Martin’s University Counseling and Wellness Center located on the north end of campus on the first floor of the Lynch Center. 

The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the staff would love to help students better understand what it means to cope with problems in a healthy manner. 

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs the World

1024px-Scott_Pilgrim_vs_the_World_Wordmark

Grace Crocker, Staff Writer

 

Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Movie, was released in 2010 and directed by Edgar Wright. The film is based on a comic series written by Bryan Lee O’Malley, which also inspired its own video game. The film follows the journey of fictional character Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), and his efforts to attain the affections of the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). 

To do so, Pilgrim must first fight Flowers’ seven evil exes. Jim Beaver of the International Movie Database (IMDB) put it best when he wrote, “Scott Pilgrim plays in a band which aspires to success. He dates Knives Chau, a high-school girl five years younger, and he hasn’t recovered from being dumped by his former girlfriend, now a success with her own band. When Scott falls for Ramona Flowers, he has trouble breaking up with Knives and tries to romance Ramona. As if juggling two women wasn’t enough, Ramona comes with baggage: seven ex-lovers, with each of whom Scott must do battle to the death, in order to win Ramona.”

The combat in question refers to a Battle of the Bands that Pilgrim and his group must win in order to get a record deal. All seems to be going well until Pilgrim encounters Flowers, the literal girl of his dreams. From there our main hero gets himself in trouble with not only Flowers’ exes, but the rest of his band and current girlfriend, Knives. Will Pilgrim defeat Flowers’ exes? Will his band win the battle for fame? Will he eventually mend his relationship with Knives?

The film is a romantic comedy; however, it leans heavily on the comedy aspect, with hints of romance scattered throughout. Other accurate categories would be action, and even fantasy because of its odd features such as superpowers and exaggerated fight scenes.

The movie is hilarious, and its quick-witted comedy catches viewers by surprise, garnering laughs throughout the film. It has several references to video games and contains comic-like effects including thick black borders, colorful backgrounds, and visual sound effects, which are tributes to the original Scott Pilgrim vs the World comic series. 

Scott Pilgrim vs the World features several well-known actors, many of whom are now known for playing Marvel and DC Comics superheroes. Chris Evans (Captain America), Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), and Brandon Routh (Superman) all have major roles in the film. Kieran Culkin, who plays Wallace Wells, is the brother of Macaulay Culkin, who is best known for his role as Kevin in Home Alone.

This movie is available on Netflix, as well as for purchase from YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Vudu, all for less than $5.

The movie ends in a similar fashion to the comics, but does not carry the story as far. Even more exciting is the possibility of a Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Movie, sequel, which Mary Elizabeth Winstead seems to be on board with. But until such a time as there is any information about a second installment, this film is entertaining enough to watch more than once.

Movie review: Like a Boss

Chelsea Mancilla, Guest Writer

 

“Like a Boss” is about the enduring friendship between Mia Carter (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel Paige (Rose Byrne), two entrepreneurs who have entered the cosmetic business on their own. According to The Daily Telegraph, “Like A Boss positively blitzes the Bechdel test, which requires a film to feature at least two women talking to each other about something other than a man (approximately 50 percent of films fail).” 

Their unique business, Mel & Mia’s is named after themselves,. Unfortunately, they are at risk of losing the business due to being over $500,000 in debt. 

Mia and Mel have done everything together since primary school. As adults they share everything, a house, which was left to them by Mia’s mother, and even a bathroom, where it becomes known that Mel squeezes toothpaste on Mia’s toothbrush every morning. They are inseparable and would not have it any other way. Mia and Mel have a common goal — run a successful business and create a cosmetic line that focuses on beauty; inside and out. Perhaps it is a catch-22, because  how can one run a successful cosmetic business while telling people they are already beautiful? Well, I liked the message, because I thought it was empowering to hear that we should enhance our natural beauty instead of projecting a mask to hide our flaws.

Although Mia and Mel run a business together, Mia ignores the business’ finances. Mia runs the creative side of the business, and can be extremely brash; or sweet like a raspberry scone. Mel is the practical and quiet protector of their business, as well as Mia’s keeper, even if Mia willnot always admit how much she needs her. Perhaps it seems bizarre that these two would be friends. The plot provides very little information on Mia’s background. Apparently Mia had a loving and caring mother that took in Mel, while Mel’s mother was a drug addict that did not take care of her. 

When the eccentric cosmetic titan, Claire Luna (Salma Hayek), requests an interview with them, Mel believes they have found the greatest opportunity. However, Mia refuses to let anyone else take control of their business, until Mel reveals their financial burden and the inevitable truth that they could lose everything in less than a year. After Mia drops  her objections the two friends partner up with Claire Luna, and the partnership begins to go downhill. As Claire Luna’s nefarious intentions become obvious to the audience, Mel and Mia struggle to maintain their relationship as they attempt to meet Claire Luna’s expectations.

Although this film did not meet a professional critic’s standard, as a member of the general audience, I enjoyed a plot that focused on female friendship. I think we need more examples of two women enjoying each other’s company who share secrets and protect each other’s hearts. Not every movie needs to focus on romantic tragedy and accomplishment. Not being a professional critic , I would give this movie a 3.5 out of 5 star rating.