REVIEW: “Squid Games” tops the charts worldwide

By Salvador Barrera

“Squid Games,” a television series on Netflix, has become a worldwide phenomenon in the blink of an eye. The show poses the question: how much are you willing to sacrifice for a chance at salvation? “Squid Games” boiled down to its core, demonstrating how much humanity is willing to sacrifice for hope.  

Salvador Barrera poses with a card that is seen frequently in the show. (Bella Espinosa/Ethic News photo)

The series starts with Gi-Hun in poverty and needs money to regain custody of his daughter after. As the show progresses, he meets a man who offers him a chance to participate in Squid Games where he gambles his life for money. He competes in children’s games and as he continues in the games, he becomes desensitized to the death of others. By the end of the series, a man is willing to persevere and not succumb to the death that longs for him. 

This series is a masterpiece in its own way. However, it leaves much more to be desired as many plot holes need to be addressed in the new season, such as what happens to Gi-Hun’s daughter and how do the organizers of Squid Games get gamemasters to host the games. 

Although many questions arise, “Squid Games” gives a thorough explanation for the current events in the story, such as the backstories of each of the main characters and the shock that the old man has a dark realization that everything is not as it seems.

Yet, the show identifies the different plot points well. The show depicts how every contestant has a life outside of the games and their different motives for wanting to win the prize. The cash prize is the incentive for the contestants since they are all currently in poverty. Despite the different plot points, the show finds a way to connect this to the main idea that all the contestants have to play. 

It successfully brings attention to the hardships that many have to endure and how they see no other way out of their pain and struggle besides the games. 

Although the contestants are faced with the reality that they can quit the games, they decline and put their life on the line for a glimpse of hope. 

Many critics of “Squid Games” say that it is too gory and insensitive to audiences. However, the show uses an adequate amount of horror to hook the audience in and keep them on the edge of their seats. It is not made for children, it was made for people seeking the truth of humanity with evil and people should expect this as they watch it.

Review: ‘DBZ: Kakarot’ is a captivating experience not just for fans

By AZREL OLMEDO

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Released on January 17th, 2020 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game, as of now, only has a single player mode.

Note: This review is spoiler-free!

“Dragon Ball Z” had a prosperous run through its seven-year lifespan, filling the hearts of many with memorable characters, exhilarating battles and overall love for the series. “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” is an open-world role-playing game that not only revives the franchise for fans but for newcomers as well.

The game does a great job of taking the player step-by-step through the story while still providing the player with the freedom to roam around the world and explore side-quests, which are considered canon—or relevant—to the main story of “Dragon Ball.”

Players have the option to progress slowly or quickly into each chapter of the story which follows the order of Saiyan Saga, Frieza Saga, Cell Saga and the Buu Saga. In the beginning, players could play as Goku, the main protagonist of the story, as well as Gohan and Piccolo. Players can play as even more characters as they advance through the story.

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Bandai Namco Entertainment and CyberConnect2 have joined forces to create a engaging experience for fans of all kinds to enjoy. Although the language in this photo is Japanese, an English option is also available.

As mentioned before, “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” is newcomer-friendly and provides a beautiful experience for those willing to try it. The game includes small episode recaps as the story moves further so that every bit of information is retained and remembered for further clarification. Some info is inside-joke material, which in a sense rewards fans for taking the time to watch and enjoy the story of “Dragon Ball” all those years ago with memories and nostalgia.

The story is beautifully executed, and the graphics for the world and scenes from the anime are second-to-none. Most of the time, players have found themselves more involved in the world than the actual story.

The feel of the game itself is simply marvelous. There’s something satisfying in firing a Kamehameha at point-blank range when the opponent is stuck on the ground, the area around shattering into pieces, followed by a wave of energy that fills the screen. It’s also quite entertaining trying to collect as many of the different colored orbs that are scattered throughout. “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” proves that there is always something to do when you’re not saving the world.

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Players have the option to roam around the iconic areas and stages in the “Dragon Ball” world.

The game autosaves by itself, but might give you a small heart attack when when you’re first defeated. “Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot” reminds us to always to save your game when you think something important is going to happen, or you’re hit with the feeling of “Yikes, I’m gonna die!”

As a die-hard “Dragon Ball” fan, the game is a goldmine; I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it when it first released. I was immediately captivated by the game when the title screen first popped up, and I knew this was going to be a fun game to play. As of now, I’m currently halfway into the Frieza Saga, and my opinion of it has only grown stronger.

Interested in grabbing a copy for yourself? The price is of any traditional console game these days—about $60—but worth every penny. If you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to fighting planet-destroying villains, crying tears of joy at the nostalgia and becoming the next legendary Super Saiyan!

Review: ‘Little Women’ movie strays from gender norms

By ELLA FITZPATRICK

The classic American novel Little Women, was written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868 and has now been turned into a motion picture. The story follows the four March sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy as they experience the gender constraints of the time as well as poverty. They look up to their mother and her lessons that family and love come first, that one should always forgive no matter how hard it may be, and that one of the greatest joys is giving.

In this coming-of-age film, the four sisters navigate through the ups and downs of life’s uncharted map to become the truest, most authentic versions of themselves. They all must recognize their strengths and weaknesses and attempt to do better and learn from their mistakes. Their mother, Marmee, played by Laura Dern, plays a role model to look up to as well as someone to come to in a time of need. 

This movie adaptation also covers situations one may encounter in life such as disappointment, loss of trust, loss of a loved one, uncertainty, betrayal, and the judgement of others. Through all of this, they overcome adversity through love and kindness. 

Unlike most movies, there is no villain. Instead, the director, Greta Gerwig’s, adaptation of the film shows all of the characters inner struggles, whether it’s Jo’s loneliness, Laurie’s laziness and broken heart, Beth’s shyness, or Amy’s pressure to marry rich and support the rest of her family. The girls must also uphold the expectations of women in society to marry as an economic proposition and to take care of their children.

In addition, Greta Gerwig does an outstanding job of echoing the books characters whom were originally based off of the former Alcott sisters. Although the lives of the March girls were very different than the Alcotts, Jo March in the 2019 film, played by Saorise Ronan, reenacted a magnificent portrayal. Jo lived in New York as a writer and school teacher to pay the bills, similar to what Alcott did to support her family when writing Little Women. She was also a free spirit who redefined the trends of the time making her way in the world by not marrying and supporting herself while proving to others that “ Women…have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty” as Jo March had stated. It was palpable that she wanted to support herself and not depend on a man, to be a “free spinster” as Alcott had said in her journal.

In the end, the March girls were able to guide themselves with the life lessons they learned when following their hearts, whether it was to pursue their talents or to find love. The film exposes viewers to topics of the time including gender inequality and the American Civil War. This movie would be great a watch for viewers who enjoy quirky coming-of-age movies or even enjoyed Louisa May Alcott’s novel which is also followed by two others of the series. 

Featured Photo: The main characters of the novel stand together during a scene in a movie. (Photo Credit to Columbia Pictures)

Review: New Dolly Parton podcast brings hope to a divided nation

By AVALON SALVADORE

“Dolly Parton’s America” is a new 9-episode podcast about Dolly Parton’s life and influence on pop culture. It is created and hosted by Jad Abumrad, a US radio host and creator of the series Radiolab. (Christine De Carvalho / WYNC Studios)

When you think of country music, what do you envision? Perhaps a pickup truck, a man in his cups singing about heartbreak or big cowboy hats, over the years country music has changed dramatically as it transitioned from soulful, heart wrenching tunes and to the bostrious pop-inspired country of today. The constant, however, remains the reigning queen of country herself: Dolly Parton. Parton’s journey in professional music started at the age of 10 when she began to perform in her community and slowly worked her way up to a duet with Porter Wagner  in 1967, which launched the budding singer into stardom. 

Parton’s musical career is absolutely awe inspiring. Although she is a formidable fixture in the country music world, Parton’s music goes beyond the realm of country. In the new podcast “Dolly Parton’s America,” host Jad Abumrad extolls Parton’s impact on America throughout her entire career. The podcast spotlights the country star’s outlook on the world, the depth of her  music and her mission to heal the divide that afflicts America’s political climate. 

The podcast opens with Abumrad inviting the listener on a journey back to the 2016 presidential election when America was arguably its most divided in recent history. Despite the ideological rift, Parton toured across America and attracted audience members from all walks of life. Parton reaches the hearts of people all over America, reaching countless communities such our very own Redlands. With the 2020 election on the horizon, the extraordinary way that Parton can bring people together may just be what Redlands needs during this time of strife and division. “Dolly Parton’s America” is just a glimpse into just how beneficial Parton’s music can be for individuals of all walks of life.

Netflix’s latest release ‘Tall Girl’ receives backlash

By AALEYAH WINSLOW

Note: If you have not watched the movie, this article contains some spoilers.

“You think your life is hard, I’m a high school junior wearing size 13 nikes, mens size 13 nikes, beat that.” Jodi Kreyman , played by Ava Michelle, the main character from the movie “Tall Girl” on Netflix, could not tell you the half of it. This movie takes the viewer through the “complex” life of Jodi. She is a tall girl who receives questions such as “how’s the weather up there” on a daily basis by her peers.

Jodi is not like other girls, especially when it comes to having a love life. Most girls do not struggle to find a boyfriend due to height restrictions, a sentiment which Jodi can’t share due to her height. There is a potential suitor, Dunkleman, played by Griffin Gluck, but he is too short for a tall girl like Jodi, as in 5’7” short. A typical relationship will have the girl shorter than the boy, which can’t be said for Jodi.

Since Jodi is taller, she has essentially given up on the chance of a love life at all, until the gorgeous foreign exchange student from Sweden walks into Chemistry class. Stig, played by Luke Eisner, stands at 6’2”, compatible to Jodi’s height. 

Throughout the rest of the movie, Stig and Jodi appear to fall in love. Life is now better for Jodi, because she has a good looking boy who just so happens to be taller than her. Towards the end of the movie, at a party, Stig is recorded denying his feelings for Jodi, and making her out to be crazy. Dunklemen, seeing this, gives a speech defending Jodi’s honor, and proceeds to fight Stig. Jodi later sees the video and realizes who she should really be with, and in the end, she and Dunklemen make a great couple

After watching the movie, many viewers wasted no time sharing their thoughts. Videos made on the Tik Tok app(an iOS and Android social media video app for creating and sharing short lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos), quickly surfaced, in response.

 There was a Tik Tok made where the creator started off by sharing the scene from the movie where Jodi explains how she is 6’1” and wears mens size 13 nikes. Next the creator edited in a part of themselves and said “I have cancer.”Another was made where a different creator played the same scene from the movie then edited in a part of themselves saying “I have abusive parents.”

These responses are bold and hit deep. It makes viewers of the movie and Tik Toks realize that there are problems worse than being tall.  Along with these Tik Toks, there have been several news articles written regarding the movie. These articles discuss how this movie is just like every other romantic comedy but just with the protagonist being a tall girl. For example, similar to all other romantic comedies, there is a girl, a crush, a best friend, and a mean girl. Viewers were upset at how being tall was victimized in a romantic comedy, and consequently gave “Tall Girl” a negative review.

Review: Top Endgame moments for six infinity types

Official Avengers: Endgame marketing poster
Source: Marvel Studios

By AHLORA SMITH

Endgame: the name that has been in the spotlight of the world’s attention for months.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has built the most splendid and bustling movie franchise in history over the past decade, destroying box office records and blowing the minds of viewers of all ages. All this has led up to the internet destroyer that is Avengers: Endgame, which was released April 26, six days shy of the 11 year anniversary of the original MCU release: Iron Man.

Now, Endgame was a giant roller coaster of emotions, as expected, so here are the top moments from the film for six infinity types, in honor of the six infinity stones.

There will be spoilers, and you have been warned.


Humor

Scott Lang’s taco

Everyone’s favorite Ant-Man is simply sitting and enjoying his hard shell taco when Nebula and Rocket touch down in the Milano outside of the Avengers headquarters. Because of the wind from the ship’s turbines, all of Scott’s fillings flew from the taco, leaving him with a mere shell. Bruce then walks out and gives Scott two new tacos to compensate for his loss.

Professor Hulk takes a picture

This moment had audiences reeling, with a few of the Avengers sitting in a diner booth when the newly introduced Professor Hulk gets approached by a few young fans asking for a picture. After Scott takes it, he asks the kids if they would like a photo with him, since he is Ant-Man. The conversation then morphs into an entirely awkward but hilarious exchange when Bruce pushes the kids to take a picture with Scott while all three parties go in a circle of denials and encouragements. The exchange ends with the perfect button: “Hulk out!”


Surprise/ Shock

Thanos is killed in the beginning

Endgame was supposed to be the epic saga leading up to the return of the decimated and ending with the death of Thanos, right? Wrong. Within the first 15 minutes, the Avengers tracked down Thanos and chopped off the gauntlet. After this, he revealed that he had used the stones to destroy them. In disgust and opportunity, Thor decapitates him and falls into a deep depression.

5 years later

Generally, Marvel speculators theorized that there would be some sort of time jump from Infinity War to this film, but the shock in the air still remains when the black screen flashes “5 years later.” This means a completely different movie than it could have been had the time jump been shorter or completely nonexistent. It means that the characters have now lived in a world where the decimation has simply been a part of life, and they can move on, although this is not the case for our Avengers.


Sentimental

Scott reunites with Cassie

After returning from the quantum realm five years after he went in (thank you, Mr. Rat!), Scott rushes around the destroyed San Francisco after he finds out what happened while he was gone in hopes to find his daughter, Cassie. Of course, the five-year time jump means that Cassie is now a grown teenager, so the girl who opens the door to Scott is almost unrecognizable. Despite this, the pause that both actors take to completely give in to the moment is simply bliss for the audience, reminding them of their own dear relationships.

Tony’s last interaction with Howard

Over the past decade, audiences have seen flashbacks to the ever-complicated relationship between Howard and Tony Stark. We have seen a lot of emotional trauma and confusion in Tony’s life, but there is the everlasting love and attention that Tony wanted from his father that is so heart-wrenching. When he and Steve go back to the 1970s to retrieve the tesseract, Tony has a solid conversation with his father while his mother is pregnant with him. Funny, right? The conversation ends when Steve calls Tony over and Tony hugs his father, letting him know that it will be okay.


MCU Fan Easter Eggs

Cap in the elevator

This is a fun reference to Captain America: The Winter Soldier in which Steve was in an elevator with some Hydra agents. In the movie, Cap politely asks, “Before we get started, would anyone like to get out?” before absolutely destroying everyone in the elevator single handedly. In Endgame, Steve got into an elevator with the men, giving audiences the impression of an impending and epic battle. Instead, he whispered a “hail Hydra” in order to get ahold of Loki’s scepter, which had the mind stone in it.

Harley Keener

The average Endgame viewer most likely did not recognize the lone teenage boy standing towards the back at Tony’s final send-off; however, for the keen MCU fans, this young man is recognized immediately. He is Harley Keener, a young boy from Iron Man 3. He finds that Tony broke into his garage after losing battery in his small town, and he helps Tony fix his suit and return home. The last that we see of Harley in that movie is Tony giving him a plethora of parts and robotics tools. It can be assumed that because he is at Tony’s funeral, they did continuously keep in contact, which is just painful to the mind and soul.

Bucky and Steve’s goodbye

In Captain America: The First Avenger, pre-serum Steve must say goodbye to his lifetime friend, Bucky Barnes, as he is being sent to fight in the war. In their final exchange, Bucky warns Steve, “Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone,” followed by Steve’s “How can I? You’re taking all the stupid with you.” This exchange is reprised at the end of Endgame when Steve is about to go back in time, except the boys switch who say what. This makes the moment bittersweet for even people that wouldn’t understand the reference, but for MCU fans, it is the cherry on top of their epic companionship.


Devastation

Natasha’s sacrifice

In an adrenaline-rushing sequence, the audience sees Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff trying to exchange themselves for the soul stone while preventing the other from doing it. The push, pull and shock of the sequence already leaves audiences at least melancholy, since one of them is obviously going to die. In the end, Natasha slyly latches Clint to the top of the cliff while he desperately holds onto her arm, unwilling to let go. With a final “it’s okay,” Natasha uses the force of kicking off the side of the cliff to slip out of Clint’s hold, leaving Clint and the audience absolutely distraught as the camera pans down to her body.

Tony’s final moments

Now, this moment closed the book on Tony Stark’s epic character development, and it is completely devastating. Tony wields the stones and snaps his fingers in order to rid the universe of Thanos and his army before succumbing to the radiation of the power that rushes through his body. The audience sees the huge radiation gash on his face before he finally collapses with the help of Rhodey. During this, Peter is again a significant part of a death, and he again makes it completely heartbreaking with his “We won, Mr. Stark” and “I’m sorry, Tony.” Tony’s final words are “Hey, Pep” to his wife before she tells him that it’s okay and that he can go.


Satisfaction

Captain America wields Mjolnir

This is the moment that audiences have been waiting for since the infamous party scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron when everyone was attempting to lift Thor’s hammer, which can only be lifted by those worthy to rule Asgard. Steve is able to slightly lift it but gives up, leaving a worried Thor in the background of the scene. In Endgame, Thanos is holding Stormbreaker, Thor’s axe, to Thor’s chest, creating a parallel with the first movie when the roles were switched. There is then an angle to Mjolnir being lifted, which some audience members assume is Thor summoning it. On the contrary, the hammer is thrown at Thanos’ head and returns to none other than Steve Rogers. Audience reactions are fairly similar to Thor’s immediate “I knew it!”, leaving huge satisfaction for those that have followed the MCU over the years.

Tony and Peter’s reunion

In the middle of the epic battle, Tony is down for an exhaust break when Spider-Man hops into the frame to tell Tony his story. The very excitable teenager goes on a long and winded tangent of how the events were experienced from the perspective of the dusted as they returned to where the decimation occured. Tony cuts off Peter by throwing him off guard and giving him a warm hug, to which Peter remarks “Ah, this is nice.” Their relationship during the MCU has been funny and warm at the same time, starting with an awkward “hug” when Tony was opening a car door for Peter and ending with them clinging to each other as Peter is dusted away. This reunion and hug assures that Tony and Peter truly love each other, and it is beautiful.

The dance

Steve Rogers’ introduction to the MCU came in Captain America: The First Avenger also followed his relationship with the beautiful and strong Peggy Carter. During a conversation in the middle of this movie, pre-serum Steve and Peggy have a conversation that Steve has never danced before, and he tells her that he “just [hasn’t] found the right partner yet.” After this, there was no doubt that Steve wanted Peggy to be his dance partner. At the concluding moments of the movie, Steve and Peggy plan their dance date as he flies an enemy jet into the ice, where he would remain for 70 years. Over the course of the MCU, it is obvious that Steve never gets over his true love, and neither has she, as seen in The Winter Soldier when the 93 year old Peggy Carter cries upon Steve’s presence. Fans’ desire for them to have their dance is only amplified in the movies closer to Endgame, and it is finally given at the close of the movie. The flashback sequence of Steve and Peggy dancing to “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” is both a tear-jerker and quite possibly the most satisfying ending that the Russo brothers could have given to Marvel’s Infinity Saga.

Review: The House with a Clock in its Walls teaches a powerful message about being yourself.

By ETHAN SIBBETT

House with clock in its walls infographic
Opening weekend numbers for “The House With a Clock in its Walls” from www.boxofficemojo.com and www.rottentomatoes.com. (Benjamin Wear/ Ethic infographic)

A movie that embodies the message “don’t be afraid to be different” with its long title.

The movie is centered around the main character, Lewis, who moves to his uncle Jonathan’s house and is befriended by a popular kid named Tarby. Lewis learns that his house is haunted, and further exploration pushes his uncle to explain to him the art of magic, which he has an aptitude for. Unfortunately, Jonathan does not tell him about the evil magician, who once inhabited the house and his lack of success in finding the doomsday clock hidden in the walls.

Tarby turns against Lewis once he is elected school president, and, in a bid to win back his friendship, Lewis brings the evil wizard back to life. With the help of Jonathan and another helpful witch named Mrs. Zimmerman, Lewis is able to defeat him and save the world.

What is especially appealing about the movie is that it embodies the fun part of magic: versatile spells that are essentially just the manipulation of energy, unlike in many books and movies where knowledge of the ancient language, personal energy, or being human can limit access to magic. A good balance of horror and adventure that keeps the awe of being a child and sends a powerful message about being yourself, this movie is 5 out of 5.

Review: ‘Slender Man’ gives audiences a subpar plot and a scare

By ALISON BRADSHAW, ELLA FITZPATRICK

For those who have not watched Slender Man, be advised that this movie review may contain some spoilers.

Movie: Slender Man

Rated: PG-13

Run time: 93 minutes

Released in theatres: August 10, 2018

“The Slender Man” movie takes place in a small, rural town in Massachusetts. The movie begins when four best friends Wren (Joey King), Piper (Annalise Basso), Halle (Julia Goldani Telles), and Chloe (Jaz Sinclair) decide to summon the Slender Man (Javier Botet). The Slender Man is a tall, faceless, supernatural character, whose purpose is to prey on innocent children.

Soon, the kids learn that they have made a grave mistake. They watch a video that not only frightens them, but also turns their lives into a living nightmare where death, darkness, and a monster looming over them. Soon after watching the video, Piper is taken. At first, the friends do not think much of it, and believe that Piper has run away because of her drunken father; however, as the movie progresses, each friend experiences different visions, dreams, and illusions. Because of these events, Wren, Halle, and Chloe finally realize what truly happened to their friend. They then try their best to bring Piper back but soon learn there could be deadly consequences. There was no stopping the Slender Man.

Toward the end, the story line becomes choppy, leaving the ending of the movie abrupt and chaotic with underdeveloped information. This movie is not a typical horror movie where the heroes defeat the bad guy. The movie has a meaningless ending without any real victory. 

Despite the subpar plot, the movie presented outstanding special effects, giving the smallest things an extraordinary amount of detail.

All in all, this movie is not recommended. Although the special effects were of good quality, the acting was mediocre at best. The plot made it appear as if the writers did not know what to do with the story and rushed the ending instead.

“Slender Man” is a good pick for those who enjoy the thrill of horror movies, but is not an enjoyable movie overall.

Slender Man
Worldwide gross, budget, domestic gross rank, and genre rating information from www.boxofficemojo.com. Percentage of Rotten Tomato critics who give the movie positive reviews from http://www.rottentomatoes.com.  (Benjamin Wear/ Ethic infographic)

Review: Why ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ is a tribute to the forgotten

By ALEENA SIRITANAPIVAT

Growing up Asian in the United States of America can be, needless to say, overwhelming. Everywhere you look, models and actresses are glowing, gorgeous, and… American. With chiseled faces, large eyes, and different hair colors surrounding you, you start to feel alien. Your skin is “yellow” in complexion, your hair can only be long and black, your eyes are slanted and brown, and the only label you get is smart and quiet.  Asians in movies are depicted like that: long, black hair; slanted eyes; smart; and quiet. They are often pushed to the side because they aren’t “main-character worthy,” and that’s how you grow to see yourself as.

Imagine this: Lara Jean Covey, a teenage Korean-American girl, who prefers to read in her own little world and loves her family to pieces. She exemplifies all the stereotypical Asian traits; except, there’s something new. She is the main character in one of the latest romance movies adapted from a novel. Better yet, she is played by Vietnamese-American actress Lana Condor. “So what?” you may ask. The answer to that is simply whitewashing.

Whitewashing is a practice done in the film industry where a character that should be non-American is played by an American actor. This casting can change the movie in its entirety and ruin the concept the original author was going for. In an interview with People magazine, Jenny Han, writer of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” has said that she went to multiple studios who loved her story but rejected her mandate of an Asian protagonist (Gillete). Han refused to give up until she finally found a studio that accepted an Asian main character, and thus the hit Netflix film “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was born.

Besides starring an Asian actress for an Asian protagonist, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” gives insight into many other forgotten situations. For one, Lara Jean and her two sisters, Margot and Katherine “Kitty” Covey, live with a single paternal figure. With their mother having passed away, the movie depicts the life of a hard-working father who tries his best to raise his three daughters on his own. The gap left by the mother affects both Lara Jean and Margot as the eldest siblings because they have to set an example for Kitty and help their father. We see another side of this with male protagonist Peter Kavinsky and his mother after his dad leaves them to fend for themselves.

We are also able to look into the perspective of the antagonist Genevieve, also known as Gen. Normally, the mean girl archetype is just that: a mean girl. However, in the case of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” she isn’t just a mean girl. While she does fit the stereotype of a mean girl, she has her reasons for acting the way she does. When she and Lara Jean were best friends, what Lara Jean did in Gen’s eyes was a betrayal. She was hurt and reluctant to let go of their friendship because she loved the Covey family, but it wasn’t the same. While in the movie Gen pours out her feelings with the line “I’m not as tough as I pretend to be,” in the book she tries to come back. There are reasons behind her actions — hurtful though they may be, but all for protecting herself. Josh Sanderson, the best friend, and Lara Jean’s first real crush was cast away by both Margot and Lara Jean and had nowhere else to turn to. He is another victim in this story, but instead of turning immediately towards anger, he also confesses his emotions. That’s different; the action allows us to see vulnerability in a male character, which is something that should be more common. Boys should equally be permitted to show how they’re feeling instead of keeping it all bottled up by playing the tough guy. Albeit, the book does a better job of that than the movie, but you can decide that for yourself.

As an Asian-American, I could barely believe it myself. After “Crazy Rich Asians” with an all-Asian cast comes out, a teenage romance with an Asian star appears. I’ve never seen so much representation before. To be the main character in my own story like Lara Jean was something I never imagined for myself. It was always the same: play the side character. Now, I see myself in a brand new light. I see myself creating my own story, and I hope that other little Asian-American girls can see themselves doing that too. However, you’re not wrong to say that, just like “Crazy Rich Asians,” “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is another step towards Asian representation, but it involves so much more. It truly is a tribute to those forgotten and overlooked.

Review: ‘The Meg’ splashes summer audiences with originality

By MIA ARANDA

What makes “The Meg” stand out from other thrill-packed shark movies? “The Meg” focuses on not just any ordinary shark, but a prehistoric 75 foot Megalodon shark thought to have been extinct 2.6 million years ago. This is considerably larger than a Great White, like the one from “Jaws,” which usually measure no more than 21 feet. Bigger shark, scarier movie. The film is rated PG-13 for action and peril, some profanity, and bloody images, but practically all shark movies have action and almost always sanguinary scenes.

“The Meg” is actually based on the science fiction book “Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror” by Steve Alten. Directed by Jon Turteltaub, the film’s cast includes the exceptional action star, Jason Statham, known for his role in “The Transporter” trilogy and in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, as well as many other successful movies. The film also features Rainn Wilson, famed for his role of Dwight Schrute on The Office and Chinese star Li Bingbing well-known for her role in “Seventeen Years.”

Asides from focusing on the shark, the movie centers around a rescue diver named Jonas Taylor, played by Statham. Taylor had once been a professional rescue diver but after five years of inactivity he is called back when he hears about a group of scientists trapped at the bottom of the Mariana Trench after their mission goes wrong. For this reason, he travels down to the Mariana Trench to assist those trapped, but encounters the bloodthirsty Megalodon shark. Thereafter, the movie revolves around the objective to kill the Megalodon shark.

Statham did a noteworthy job as the lead despite his too-serious personality. He could have been more entertaining, which is why Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson should have starred in this action role instead, purposely to add more comedic relief. Johnson’s performances in “Jumanji:Welcome to the Jungle” and “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” clearly serve as an example of one of his qualities and goals when acting: to make people laugh in do-or-die situations. Johnson and Statham should have switched roles in their summer movies with Johnson as Jonas Taylor in “The Meg” and Statham as Will Sawyer in “Skyscraper.”

Like most summer movies, the film length, nearly two hours, is a reasonable time and the suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat. Like Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” there is a predictable connection between character development and death (this is not a spoiler alert as a shark film without any deaths would be more shocking than an attack).

On the other hand, this film is totally different due to the type of shark, which plays a huge role in the film’s originality. Although “Jaws” and “The Meg” both have the same plot, to kill the shark, the Megalodon is the largest shark ever recorded, and has an even more distinguished reputation as a predator.

Most shark movies debut in the summer to appeal to beach-goers. “The Meg,” which debuted in theaters on Aug. 10, received significantly higher ticket sales due to this factor. I highly recommend this film to those who haven’t seen it, as it is highly entertaining and is quite different from most shark films.