Review: A portal into Melanie Martinez’s new album


Melanie Martinez has been creating music since her initial appearance on the American televised competitive singing program, The Voice, in 2012. Although she didn’t win the third season, Martinez began her musical career. In this, Melanie’s signature split-dye hairstyle was born. Many of her fans associate Martinez with her colorful hair as a vital part of their appearance and creativity intertwined in her songs and visuals of their music videos.

Soon after becoming signed to Atlantic Records in 2014, her fame arose with the release of her songs, “Dollhouse” and “Carousel.” The young artist’s music can be classified into multiple genres such as Alternative pop, Electropop, and Indie pop. 

Martinez’s first studio album debuted in 2015. Among its release, Crybaby, Melanie Martinez’s fanbase began referring to themselves as, “Crybabies.” 

K-12, released in 2019, serves as Melanie Martinez’s second studio album. The artist’s vision for this album was to create a cinematic experience by developing a plot throughout each music video and constructing them all together to create a film of a little over an hour and a half.  The artist has referred to her albums as a trilogy, with her recent one fulfilling it. According to Spotify’s statistics, Martinez receives an influx of 20.1 million listeners monthly on the streaming platform alone. 

The newest addition to her discography is Portals. The 13 songs on the tracklist in order are:


totaling up to fifty-one minutes and 43 seconds. 

Portals was released on March 31, 2023, with “Death” debuting first on March 17 and its music video released on YouTube on March 24. On March 29, Void followed and released just days before the entire tracklist. 

On April 5, the deluxe version of Portals was announced to the public including the tracks:




By deleting her past Instagram posts and teasing with the statement, “RIP Cry Baby,” carved into a mushroom from the DEATH music video, the creative artist ushers in a new era of change by experimenting with her sound and appearance. In the same music video, Crybaby is seen being buried in her grave which is symbolic of the change they are experiencing as an artist and as an individual. As her persona of Crybaby apparently passed away, a new character emerged. This character carries the features of a four-eyed, fairy-like mythical creature with pink skin and green hair and leaves fans wondering what this new age will bring. This recent album carries with it a majestic and heavily spiritual theme with notes of cheeriness as well as dark and grim elements.

The 27-year-old artist did a deep dive on her Instagram account that further elaborates on the meaning, inspiration, and writing process behind each song. Martinez relates many heartfelt experiences in her lyrics as shown throughout her songs, however, she continues by bringing in elements inspired by her recent relationship with Oliver Tree, and personal growth as a person in the public eye.

Online, Martinez has expressed that the album’s name originates from a room in her old home in which she felt spiritual connections that inspired her to write six of the 13 total songs. In this, she elaborates further on her spirituality and practices.

Originally, the purpose of Portals was to emphasize the importance of accepting life after death through the mortality of Crybaby. Martinez wants to lessen the stigma surrounding heavy topics such as death and provide a sense of hopefulness in the afterlife which frightens many people.

Pearl Solis, a REV junior, shares her thoughts, “I have been a fan of Melanie for many years so I was very excited when she announced her release of Portals. I think this may be my favorite album of theirs, it is such a different and new sound and style to her previous albums. I love that we can see her transformation through the death of Crybaby and the “rebirth” of her as an artist. I think my favorite tracks so far are either Evil, Light Shower, or Spider Web, specifically Light Shower because it is so abnormal for Melanie to sing about relationships without pain and hurt. She paints this track in such a beautiful and positive light, although I genuinely love every single song. Again, I think it’s so special that we can see Melanie’s growth as an artist and person and the ways her outlook and perspective on life and relationships have changed.” 

“I really like this album because, like her other albums, it speaks a lot about social and personal issues. I like that they’re exploring a new theme and aesthetic with their music,” said REVjJunior Emma McMillan.

Down the center column in the second row, Melanie Martinez’s merchandise with her signature split-dyed hair can be seen. Directly under that is the new, Portals, official album cover, taken on April 17, 2023, in a Hot Topic in Redlands, California.
(ALEX VERDUZCO/ Ethic News Photo)

“The Super Mario Bros Movie” breaks box office records


Note: This article contains spoilers for “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” 

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” broke box office records by receiving $377 million on its opening weekend. Frozen 2 was the previous record holder by receiving $127 million on its opening weekend. It is the third Mario movie to exist and there have been several animated tv shows, with well over a hundred video games in the franchise. The newest movie was released on April 5 and continues to rise in revenue and popularity. 

Box office records are shattered by the new Mario movie (Trusted Reviews). 

The movie featured several famous actors and actresses as the starring characters. Jack Black voiced the villain, Bowser, Seth Rogan voiced Donkey Kong, Charlie Day voiced Luigi, Chris Pratt as Mario, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach. Many fans on social media were especially impressed by Jack Black’s performance due to his enthusiasm regarding the role. 

 Black in particular was excited to take the role of Bowser, as he expressed in nearly all of his interviews regarding the film. In the movie itself, Bowser sings a song about his love for Princess Peach called “Peaches.” Black went above and beyond to sing the full song dressed in a Bowser costume, in a music video directed by Cole Bennett that was released on Youtube. Due to his enthusiasm and the fact that he did more work than what was asked of him, many fans believe that is why Jack Black is perfect for voicing Bowser. 

Chris Pratt, who voiced Mario in the newest movie, had an extremely different response compared to Jack Black. Possibly the movie’s greatest criticism over social media is the casting of Pratt as Mario. Many fans felt the actor didn’t fit or fully encapsulate the character Mario, and several clips when Pratt delivered a famous Mario catchphrase were cut out of the final film. 

Several of his lines were cut early into the movie when Mario finds Toad and stumbles upon the mushroom kingdom. Pratt is supposed to say, “Mushroom kingdom here we come”, but the line was cut out of the film. Another line, possibly his most criticized line, was cut out of the final film as well. In the trailer, Pratt says, “Let’s go”, as a reference to Mario’s most famous catchline but it didn’t make it to the theaters. Many fans think this is in response to the criticism about Chris Pratt’s Mario voice itself. 

Throughout the franchise, the Mario franchise repeats the theme of saving a damsel in distress character, which has usually been Pauline, Rosalina, or Princess Peach. However, the movie completely ditched this theme by making Princess Peach a very capable character. 

In the newest movie when Peach meets Mario, she asks him to prove himself by completing an obstacle course that is meant to serve as a reference to the Mario games. Peach easily completes the obstacle course while Mario struggles. Another example of her strength is how she alongside Donkey Kong, Mario, and Toad leads an army against Bowser’s army while wielding a battle ax. Throughout the movie, she is portrayed as a leader who doesn’t need to be rescued by Mario. Many fans online expressed how this was a breath of fresh air compared to having Peach as a damsel in distress character. 

The obstacle course that Peach shows Mario has many references to the Super Mario Bros. games. The course has piranha plants, lucky blocks, bullet bills, the iconic Mario finish line, and more. The movie has many other subtle references to the game, such as when Mario and Donkey Kong found themselves in an underwater cave which references the underwater Mario game levels. There is also a sequence in which Mario and the gang are driving around in karts on a rainbow road which references the Mario Kart franchise. Donkey Kong appearing as a character when Mario visits Donkey Kong Island itself is a reference as well. 

Fans online have expressed thoughts that the movie hinted at the possibility of there being a part two to the movie. Their biggest piece of evidence is the final after-credit scene that briefly shows a Yoshi egg cracking. Several other popular aspects of Mario were not referenced in the movie. Several times throughout the movie Princess Peach mentions how there is an “entire galaxy worth exploring.” Many fans took this as evidence that because the newest movie did not reference Super Mario Galaxy or Yoshi’s Island, there will be a part two. Fans also consider that the record-breaking revenues of the newest movie will lead to a second movie being released. 

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has had extreme success with the first movie earning $377 million on its opening weekend. It has several themes that could be a positive influence on children, such as Princess Peach being displayed as a strong leader. The movie created excitement and rumors about the possibility of part two. It has averaged a 4.7-star rating on Google reviews and the revenue for the movie continues to climb. The movie provides many references that longtime Mario fans will understand. But for new fans, the movie provides a way for people to get into the franchise should they choose to see the movie.

Review: Overwatch 2 season, Lunar New Year, Year of the Rabbit


Overwatch has come back for a newest game sequel, Overwatch 2 in October of 2022.

This time it’s free on Switch, PlayStation, XBox and PC in a first person shooter game that has exploded in popularity since Overwatch’s downfall in the years before. Thad had game lost its popularity but they are back and better than ever.

Their newest characters are Junker Queen. A seven foot tall woman with the power of an army and a tank. She is the queen of junker town in the Australian outback. She earned her title as queen after winning the reckoning against two other junkers and the junker king of 14 years ago. They had kicked her family out to the wastelands where she was a wastelander until she was 17.

She wields a powerful shotgun that can kill omnics in one shot. The junkers being omnic dislikers is a big part of junkers but she also has a jagged blade she throws at enemies to pull them closer for the final blow. Next is her axe named carnage that can deal a lot of damage if hit properly and can damage enemies even after the hit and last but not least her ultimate, commanding shout. She yells “Time for the reckoning” and if it’s in her new Zeus skin from battle of Olympus she would say, “Time for a thunderstorm”.

Next is Kirko, a Japanese girl from Japan who follows the way of the fox spirit of her family called the Kitsune. She was childhood friends with the Shimada brothers, Genji Shimada and Hanzo Shimada, and sword trained with them when she was younger. But her role is a support, she heals with her suzu and ofuda to keep her team alive. She can do a swift step to her teammates who are losing health fast.

Next is Sojourn who is a Canadian whose body is almost all prosthetics because she has a body mutation where her body couldn’t keep up with her so she replaced her body with mesh to keep her going. She uses a rail gun and it’s pretty powerful and with a laser to one shot enemies and even rocket legs to help her slide across the ground and super jump.

And last is Ramattra, an omnic from the omnic war robots that was used in the old omnic war. He had seen his brothers die and be beaten by the humans so he turned on the humans to start another war against the humans and he is now a war machine. He is pretty powerful in game. He is a tank and is from Nepal and used to be a monk. He uses his weapon called void accelerator, he has a void barrier and his nemesis form called pummel where he grows a pair of big arms and can beat enemies to pieces.

Now for the lunar new years event that is going on now includes a skin, which is echos kkachi skin, the year of the rabbit icon and banner and spray, a hongbao souvenir and a lucky pouch as a weapon charm as the cosmetics for the event. There are game modes for this event as well, bounty hunter where it’s a deathmatch and whoever gets the most points and kills wins and gets the bounty which people will target you to get that bounty.

Next is capture the flag, where there are two teams of five and both have to capture the other team’s flag four times to win the game. Rules are no running with the flag or you will drop it. To capture the flag competitively you have to get the flag six times to win which is a little harder. There are the old lunar new year skins in the shop like dvas, pharahs, cassidys and mercys all for 1900 credits. Also meis new lunar new year skin which is her normal skin with a now hat added with bunny ears and some charms for the year of the rabbit.

In all the Year of the Rabbit for Lunar New Year event, Overwatch 2 is a great event and the challenges for the cosmetics are fun and a great way to get your skills up. This event was a fun one and hopefully the next is just as fun and with new skins and more cosmetics and tons of new stuff for new and old Overwatch fans and players. 

Review: Consider free games a viable alternative, just keep the task manager open


Sometimes, the best things in life are free, and games are usually no exception. 

While paid games dominate the market for good reason – after all, most people make games to make a profit – there’s a whole world of demos, free games, and all sorts of interesting things out there. 

After playing quite a number of free games, some good and some bad, I feel that free games are better than some may expect, and in fact are often goldmines for new perspectives, small ideas, and inspiration. While they have their drawbacks, free games are generally one of the most interesting parts of the genre  and are great for beginners to video games overall. 

Free games have many advantages over paid ones, and should be considered a viable alternative.

Before proceeding, a word on vocabulary: “free” here doesn’t mean “free to play,” as in games that are free, but have optional or occasionally “optional,” in-game purchases. Some of these can be extremely fun or interesting to talk about, and will be here hopefully, but these aren’t the subject of the article. So, for sake of clarity, “free” means anything that doesn’t expect any payment from you: “free” games are free, be they demos, full games, or just little side-projects pushed onto Steam.

While scouring Steam at night for free games to play (I had, and still have, little money to buy games) I saw this obscure little game about something that sounded silly, a game called Dark Egg. After seeing it was a text adventure game “with a map,” the author thought to put it in a list with all the other free games and demos they found interesting, and thought not much of it. A few games later, I decided to give it a go. The moment the in-game character – which had not even been given a name, face or description outside a few lines of text – stepped into a rain-soaked town, it was obvious it was something special. 

A few hours later, over the course of a night and morning, I had found a game that not only mastered surrealist writing, but gave an entirely new perspective, a new well of ideas and moods to draw from and create. It only used text and a clear map of where to go, along with a barely present combat system, to immerse oneself in a world permanently wreathed by fog and snow, of monolithic ruins, and of genuine humanity in places least expected. 

Is it perfect? No, hardly. Some puzzles take forever to solve, the combat is little utilized and some of the characters feel repetitive (through the course of the game, there are TWO old men who miss their families, with much the same reaction if you discover said families’ ultimate fate), and just generally obtuse logic at times. However, it made me realize the value of free games.

Of course, not all free games or demos are Dark Egg – most are as one would expect. Some are like Kach. It’s easy to see Kach’s heavily stylized, extremely pixelated 3D environments, and get intrigued. An hour or so later, everything was extremely confused: what had just happened? The plot, as it could be understood, is that there is an older brother to a younger sister, who has a habit of hiding in haunted houses. After plodding along one, and finding out something about “morphosis,” the apparent method of transforming things into other things to heal them, at the cost of making them extremely aggressive, the player stumbled into a room to discover sister was dead, except she wasn’t, and the thing ended on a cliffhanger. Inspiring? Not exactly, even if there’s always appreciation of the work that this takes.  

However, be them great or bad, like the examples before, the point to be made here is that both of them are worth talking about. Even a bad game has something to say, something to repeat to friends, even if its just because of how stupid that something was. They’re both free, too. All it takes is storage space.

So what do good free games have to offer over paid games? Well, free games tend to offer an unique experience over a short period of time. These are typically used to explore smaller, more experimental stories, novel gameplay ideas, or generally new things. Some may explore the creator(s)’ life story, some may be developed over a day as a challenge (a practice known as “game jams”), some may be just to test a concept and some may be demos, but all of them offer something interesting.

Along with that, some of them are electrifying. Free games can be a major source of inspiration and new ideas, beyond what playing a paid game might have. Being able to play a lot of them over the course of a single afternoon due to their short playtime means one can blend together ideas and get a wide range of concepts. Often, the best approach to creation is to draw from a wide, wide variety of sources: free games can provide just that. 

However, there are some noticeable shortcomings. Free games rarely provide week-long epics that leave one stunned and overcome with emotion, or constantly rewarding multiplayer experiences. Their free nature means that they’re more amateurish, so optimization of space and performance is no guarantee: many of these games are perfectly fine to play, but some may be surprisingly taxing on the system. Always have the task manager open, just in case. 

FEATURE IMAGE: Keyboard and controller (NADIA CENICEROS/ Ethic News photo)

Review: Is Netflix’s new show ‘Wednesday’ worth the watch?


Note: This review contains some spoilers.

Tim Burton’s newest show “Wednesday” was released on Netflix on Nov. 23 and longtime fans are eager to see whether it is worth the watch. Tim Burton has not directed anything since the live-action remake of Dumbo in 2019. Not only has he come to direct Wednesday” but he has brought his long-time partner Danny Elfman to help him produce the music for the show.

Together Burton and Elfman have done 17 films in 37 years. Some of their greatest hits include “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Alice in Wonderland, Beetlejuice,” “Planet of the Apes,” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” The two talented artists have had bumps in the road regarding their relationship, with their disagreements affecting their projects in the past. However as they create more films together the more they strengthen their relationships and skills in filmmaking.

“Wednesday” gives a unique spin on the classic character Wednesday Addams from the original show “The Addams Family” created in 1964. Wednesday was expelled from her previous school and transferred to Nevermore Academy after assaulting a student who bullied her brother Pugsley. While she is at Nevermore, Wednesday struggles with making friends at her new school due to her detached personality and trust issues. She also struggles with the relationship she has with her family members, her mother Morticia Addams in particular.

When Wednesday first moves in she is welcomed by her new roommate Enid who is a werewolf without full control of her powers. The two have a striking contrast in their personalities, with Enid’s side of the room being bright and whimsical while Wednesday’s is dark and creepy. Originally, the two do not get along but they begin to bond during a school tournament where they must team up against a school bully. This jumpstarts a heavily one-sided friendship between the two, in which Wednesday cares for Enid but won’t admit it. Together they navigate through hardships and difficulties in their relationship and at Nevermore.

Unfortunately, Wednesday must navigate through much more than relationships and school bullies during her time at Nevermore. Wednesday is in her mother’s shadow as she struggles to meet up to Morticia’s legacy of excellence she left behind at the academy. Wednesday soon discovers that Morticia left behind a darker shadow with even darker secrets than Wednesday imagined. Secrets about her parent’s time at the academy and the dark history of the small town that she lives in. As she investigates these dark secrets she learns which of her friends she should trust, and which she should not.

“Wednesday” has queer representation and metaphors sprinkled throughout the show. Enid comes from a family of werewolves however she has yet to transform or “wolf out.” Her mother comes up with the plan to send her to conversion therapy for werewolves, which Enid heavily detested. Many fans saw this as a strong metaphor for repressed sexuality especially since the students at Nevermore are referred to as outcasts.

One of the characters named Eugene is overall a side character and the school’s beekeeper, however, he has more relevance later on in the show. Eugene has two moms who are mentioned and shown a couple of times throughout the series. They do not have much plot relevance but provide queer representation to the show overall.

Wednesday on Netflix credited with having an extremely diverse cast for the production of the show. (Just Jared Jr.)

Aside from queer representation “Wednesday” also provides representation for minorities. The show offers a very diverse cast with many of the main characters being minorities. The Addams themselves are a Hispanic family as depicted in the original 1964 series. The show does a great job of subtly showing Wednesday’s culture through her character. In the series, the Addams speak Spanish in short phrases to each other. They also bring up aspects of their culture such as how they celebrate Día de Los Muertos.

There are also metaphors for discrimination and the struggles of immigration sprinkled throughout “Wednesday.” Wednesday’s parents Morticia and Gomez Addams suffer discrimination at the hands of the town’s police chief and mayor often. The students at Nevermore all have some kind of power or are mythical creatures. The rest of the town looks down upon them and they are referred to as “outcasts.” It is a popular fan analysis that this is not just a metaphor for the repression of sexuality but a metaphor for discrimination that minorities face.

Wednesday honors the original Addams Family show through easter eggs and callbacks. (screenshot from PickPik)

During the entire duration of the first season of “Wednesday” , the series has many callbacks to the original Addams Family show and the movies. Possibly their biggest reference is the code to get into the secret society at Nevermore is to snap twice. Wednesday also hates pilgrims in the show and does not hide her feelings during a school field trip to the town’s history museum. This is a reference to the movie “Addams Family Values.” In this movie, there is a scene where Wednesday crashes her camp play with the true story of Thanksgiving dressed as Pocahontas in an act of defiance.

Many classic Addams family characters appear as a callback to the original, such as Thing, Lurch, and Fester Addams, who has been the most anticipated character to appear on “Wednesday.”  These are just a few examples of the many clever callbacks Tim Burton and his team have devised to make sure the fans never forget the original Addams Family.

Netflix hosts Wednesday Addams-themed drag show and faces accusations of queer baiting its viewers. (photo of Netflix screen)

“Wednesday” is a well-thought-out show that has hundreds of hands continuing to work on it. But as many tv shows do, Tim Burton’s newest project is currently facing some criticism and accusations. The biggest accusation that Wednesday is facing is that the show queerbaits its viewers into watching the show.

 This accusation stems from the fact that in many ways Wednesday is advertised to be a very queer show. In the show there are metaphors of sexuality regarding feeling outcast and forced to change yourself, Eugene has two moms, and Enid and Wednesday become exceptionally close.

Many fans anticipated Wednesday to be a queer character, especially a character with conflicted feelings concerning attraction. Jenna Ortega, the actress of Wednesday, insinuates in interviews and tweets that Enid and Wednesday are a fitting pair. But then Wednesday does not get together with Enid but ends up in a triangle between two boys.

Regardless of whether or not Wednesday is queer many fans thought that her being in a love triangle is very out of character and does not do the original Wednesday justice. Jenna Ortega stated that Wednesday is not a “boy crazy” character and that she didn’t want her to be in a love triangle.

Netflix hides replies to their tweets that suggest that Wednesday Addams is queer. (screenshot from Pop Crave)

Netflix especially is facing criticism for hosting a Wednesday-themed drag show in celebration of the show’s release when the only queer characters in the show are Eugene’s moms. Netflix also hid replies to their tweets when fans suggested that Wednesday may be queer. Many fans feel silenced by Netflix for having their replies hidden and that the show gives the illusion of being queer to get viewers and then silences fans when they say it’s not.

Another big criticism of the “Wednesday” show is the computed generated imagery, especially with the monsters that appear in the show. Many fans felt that the CGI was far from perfect, especially for a show that Tim Burton directed. The CGI is said to have been so poor that it makes it hard to be scared when watching the show. A big element of Wednesday” is the horror so many fans were left heavily disappointed in this aspect of the show.

Tim Burton’s newest series “Wednesday” has been a heavily anticipated series since he and Danny Elfman have come back to create a show after three years of absence. “Wednesday” features many classic Addams Family characters and has many callbacks to the original series. It does a great job of representing minorities and other communities however there is debate on how well it represents the queer community.

 “Wednesday” is meant to encapsulate the original Wednesday Addams and in many ways, the show succeeds without a second doubt. But the debates on the romantic aspect of her character and whether it does her character justice have been left unsolved. With the fanbase being divided over whether or not the show does Wednesday Addams justice, fans of the classic should watch it so they can decide the truth for themselves.

Featured image: Netflix releases the new show Wednesday which tells the story of the classic character Wednesday Addams(screenshot from Trusted Reviews)

Review: Mitski, behind the lyrics


Mitsuki Laycock is a 32-year-old indie alternative artist. All of Mitskis’s songs have stories of the beautiful but tragic realities of life described in such a poetic way. 

She is Japanese and white and due to her father’s job, she moved around quite a bit. She grew up in Japan, Malaysia, China, Turkey, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mitski was originally going to study film at Hunter College but decided to transfer to The State University of New York Purchase College’s Conservatory of Music, where she studied studio composition. This is also when she made two of her albums Lush (2012) and Retired from Sad, New Career in Business (2013). 

All of Mitski’s songs have deep meanings. A personal favorite is “A Burning Hill” from the Puberty 2 album. This song describes realizing how she is finally taking responsibility for her self-destruction. She uses a forest fire as an analogy, “I am a forest fire, And I am the fire and I am the forest and I am the witness watching it, I stand in the village watching it.” Where the song is placed places a significant role, it is the last song in the album. 

Core themes in this album are emptiness, filling the void, and bringing yourself back up. Being full of the emptiness and not knowing where it is precisely from, but that that you are being consumed by it. To fill the emptiness, abusing substances or seeking validation from other people fills the void but makes you angry and even more empty because you find your happiness depending on your partner or the substance. It shows stepping back and seeing the damage that has been done, how you were the one hurting yourself all along. You finally realize that you are the only one that brings yourself back up, and the only way to do that is to be with yourself.

Another favorite in Puberty 2 is, “I bet on losing dogs.” The title itself has a big meaning on its own. Envision you are watching a dog fight, and your dog or the one that you are betting on is losing miserably. As you are seeing it slowly lose its life people ask if you are still betting on it. You and everyone around you know that the dog is going to lose but you will continue to bet on it.

One of the first lyrics in the song “ I know they’re losing and I pay for my place by the ring, where I’ll be looking in their eyes when they’re down, I’ll be there by their side, I’m losing by their side.” This makes the point of you trying to hold on to but you are slowly but surely losing grip. This message is repeated throughout the song in different words.

Review: Stand-out manga author Tatsuki Fujimoto never misses


Tatsuki Fujimoto is a manga author with a great rise in recent years. He started his career making one-shots and has a series ongoing currently. His works stand out so much, as he takes things with simple concepts and plots, to then twist and turn, subverting the expectations of readers both new and experienced within the medium. 

After recently reading a majority of his works, being his many one-shots and two manga series, he never misses. Easily the most versatile author out there. I completely believe he can make any kind of story in any genre and come out with a masterpiece, or at the very least be something incredibly enjoyable.

I find the plots in each of his manga to be not only interesting, but also carry some themes I can jive with. “Just Listen to The Song,” has the premise of a teenage boy confessing his feelings to a girl through a song he uploaded on the internet, but catching some unwanted attention. As an indirect summary, I’d relate it to the phrase, “It’s not that deep.” Or another one of his one-shots, “Sasaki Catches the Bullet,” dedicated to hyperbolically telling you the power of belief.  

It doesn’t stop within his storytelling, the art he creates is phenomenal. In his series, “Fire Punch,” the action sequences feel daunting, crisp, clear, and delightfully fun. Some are also extremely creative as well. I also feel that the premise of why his art is so amazing isn’t about having precise and clean linework, or putting meticulous details within each page, it’s the innate ability to have an idea formed and executing it beautifully. 

When it comes to his most popular series, both in terms of the manga and anime community, “Chainsawman.” A dark shounen that really catches your attention. Due to the series having been done by weekly release, the rougher edges of the art adds a gritty aesthetic, and in a way enhances your immersion, not being your typical everyday manga. 

More in regards to “Fire Punch,” I feel that this manga has waved itself over the threshold, between normality and complete pedal to the metal absurdity. It truly is nothing like anything I’ve ever read before. Interesting environment and story forming this conglomerate that calls itself a manga. 

What you also see a lot out of Fujimoto’s works is how he writes his characters. They’re defined within their stories, and despite their comical nature, do feel very human. Examples being his one-shots like “Look Back” depicting a story of two artists, “Love is Blind,” a man that won’t let even God stop him from confessing his love, and his most recent, “Goodbye, Eri,” a truly captivating experience, a manga I resonate with deeply. 

“Goodbye, Eri”  captures the premise of a boy using his phone to record his mother’s remain time before she inevitably passes from her illness, and after her death meets a girl on a rooftop for which he was going to commit suicide on. Being one of the many people confused on their first read of the story, it was a little jarring, but after many re-reads, it has become my favorite of Fujimoto’s works. How he is able to flesh out his characters so well in such a short amount of time truly astonishes me. 

Tatsuki Fujimoto is a staple within the manga community, not ever really knowing what he’d do next. The praises and compliments about his unmatched creativity you hear about is not something you should overlook. And within the recent years of massive popularity, I wouldn’t blame him if he ever showed massive amounts of hubris. 

Retro Review: Amy Winehouse revolutionized jazz with ‘Back to Black’ album


When an album is inspired by heartbreak and battling an addiction, what is the outcome? Amy Winehouse’s album”Back to Black” sold an estimated 50 million records and is one of the best selling records in music history. 

Winehouse had her listeners in a chokehold when she released her #1 album, “Back to Black” on Oct. 27, 2006. Amy Winehouse is a jazz singer that combines her bluesy voice with an upbeat pop R&B sound. 

This album sheds light on the challenging struggles Winehouse faced early on in her career. Unfortunately, this album would later act as a foreshadow for her tragic fate.

The album starts with her #1 hit, Rehab and songs about heartbreak and perseverance follow after.

Winehouse released the most revolutionary and creative piece of art during her time. Winehouse speaks on all things that make us human, happiness, appreciation, empathy, anger and sorrow. All the emotions embedded into our lives as they go on are represented in these 11 songs. 

This album was much more modern than Winehouse’s previous releases. When Winehouse released her first album, “Frank” (an album named after her ex boyfriend) it was much jazzier and had more of a coffee house sound. “Frank” was an amazing album, but not as diverse as “Back to Black.”

This album collected a 4.9 star rating, according to google reviews. The Guardian even wrote an article calling the album the best of the 21st century.  There were lots of words in reviews used to describe the album including “incredible,” “amazing,” and “perfect.” 

Who could deny that Amy is a one of a kind artist? “Back to Black” collected 18.9 million streams and held the highest position on the charts for a whopping seven weeks. Winehouse went on to win five awards for this album.  We can all appreciate the genius it took to create such a masterpiece.

There was not much negative said about this album. Although the review done by was rather back handed, it wasn’t very critical on the quality of the album. This review was much more about how Winehouse chose to live her private life.

The review stated, ”She’ll be scheduled to perform, but there’s no guarantee what she’ll do, or even if she’ll make it through the show. And she’ll sing about her problems…” but not care what you think about them.

This really shows that their opinions were much more personal and less about the music.


Rehab touches on the struggle and unwillingness to get professional help. When Winehouse had written this song she was battling with her label, arguing that she didn’t need professional help for her alcoholism and drug addiction. This song is really a cry for help. Being in denial didn’t shield Winehouse from the consequences of her actions. 

“They tried to make me go to Rehab But I said no, no, no

Yes I’ve been black, but when I come back

You’ll know, know, know l ain’t got the time

And if my daddy thinks I’m fine

They tried to make me go to Rehab But I won’t go, go, go

I don’t ever want to drink again I just, ooh, I just need a friend I’m not gonna spend ten weeks And have everyone think I’m on the mend

And it’s not just my pride

It’s just ’til these tears have dried”

You Know I’m No Good

Self depreciation and how critical Winehouse is of her own actions is clear as day in this song, almost giving reasons as to why her boyfriend should just stay away. She is her own worst enemy and this is her warning label. She makes it clear that self sabotage is one of many escapes. 

“There’ll be none of him no more”

I cried for you on the kitchen floor

I cheated myself

Like I knew I would

I told you I was trouble

You know that I’m no good”-

“Who truly stuck the knife in first

I cheated myself

Like I knew I would

Itold you I was trouble

You know that I’m no good

I cheated myself

Like I knew I would

I told you I was troubled

Yeah, you know that I’m no good”

Me & Mr. Jones

Winehouse has an almost intoxicating voice in this song. Slurred and strong, she effortlessly sings this anthem without holding back. This song is about the bond between her and the rapper Nas. They were both cheating on their partners at the time and the lyrics and beat add a sleazy jazz sound onto the justification of their infidelity. Winehouse spins the the song ‘Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul, an oldies classic which is just produced beautifully.  Winehouse’s genius really peaks in this song, taking a jazz classic and making it a modern day classic. Using real instruments and not artificial saxophones, pianos, and other jazz instruments isolated her from all of the newer artists and allowed her to create her own genre.

“Nobody stands in between me and my man

It’s me and Mr. Jones (me and Mr.

Jones)What kind of fuckery is this?”-

“You made me miss the Slick Rick gig (oh, Slick Rick)

And thought that I didn’t love you when I did (when I did)

Can’t believe you played me out like that

No, you ain’t worth guest list

Plus one of all them girls you kiss (all them girls)

You can’t keep lying to yourself like this (to yourself)”-

 “I still wonder ’bout the things you do

Mr Destiny, nine and 14

Nobody stands in between me and my man

‘Cause it’s me and Mr. Jones

Mr. Jones (me and Mr. Jones)

Me and oh”

Just Friends

As complicated as Winehouse’s life was, adding relationships to the mix was a way of coping for her. This upbeat and doowop sound is followed by feelings of confliction. She doesn’t want or need a relationship at the moment but she wants companionship. She can feel the distraction of this person wearing off. She mentions how bad her addiction is getting and their schedules keeping them apart as a reason to just keep it friendly rather than hurting themselves. She is emotionally detached and her feelings for this person are purely passionate. We can only assume that the person she is talking about is in a relationship because as she states, “And no, I’m not ashamed, but the guilt will kill you If she don’t first, I’ll never love you like her.”

When will we get the time to be just friends?

It’s never safe for us, not even in the evening

‘Cause I’ve been drinking

Not in the morning where your shit works

It’s always dangerous when everybody’s sleeping

And I’ve been thinking

Can we be alone?

Can we be alone?

When will we get the time to be just friends?

When will we get the time to be just friends?

And no, I’m not ashamed, but the guilt will kill you If she don’t first

I’ll never love you like her

Though we need to find the time To just do this shit together

Back To Black

Seperating from Blake Fielder Civil was one of Amy’s most agonizing eras. Publicly recognizing her husband’s infidelity and how devoted she was to him was not only brave but incredibly raw. In the Back to Black music video Amy is burying someone representing that Blake is in fact dead to her. After all of the devastation and gut wrenching pain she felt he had moved onto someone else and she was angry. This is a revenge song, shouting from the rooftops that he is dead to her.

”We only said goodbye with words, I died a hundred times,

You go back to her And I go back to I go back to us”

“Me and my head high ,

And my tears dry, 

Get on without my guy,

You went back to what you knew, 

So far removed, 

From all that we went through And I tread a troubled track, 

My odds are stacked,

I’ll go back to black.”

Love is Losing Game

This song highlights the rise and fall of Amy’s romance to Blake Fielder Civil. The melancholy song is a roller coaster of emotions represented throughout the whole album. Amy shows us her admiration and feelings of betrayal for her ex husband. The feelings of confusion and devastation are not discovered but pronounced in this song. 

“For you, I was a flame Love is a losing game,

 Five story fire as you came

 Love is a losing game 

One I wished I never played 

Oh, what a mess we made 

And now, the final frame

 Love is a losing game” 

“Played out by the band, 

Love is a losing hand, 

More than I could stand, 

Love is a losing hand, 

Self-professed, profound

‘Til the chips were down, 

Know you’re a gambling man, Love is a losing hand, 

Though I battle blind, Love is a fate resigned, 

Memories mar my mind, 

Love is a fate resigned, 

Over futile odds, 

And laughed at by the gods 

And now, the final frame Love is a losing game”

Tears Dry On Their Own

This song creates a sense of triumph, regret and reflection. Amy goes over how she went wrong trusting and getting attached to someone so unstable and abusive. Standing up on her own with a sense of relief when she discovers she doesn’t need him says a lot about her character. Her creativity shines throughout the album  when she goes back and forth with herself throughout these songs.. Deciding she doesn’t need him and realizing her worth back to reliving the past and craving what she once had with her husband. 

“My tears dry on their own,

 I don’t understand ,Why do I stress the man?

When there’s so many bigger things at hand, 

We coulda never had it all, 

We had to hit a wall, 

So this is inevitable withdrawal,

 Even if I stop wanting you, 

A perspective pushes through, 

 I’ll be some next man’s other woman Soon, 

I cannot play myself again, I should just be my own best friend.”- 

 “All l can ever be to you, 

Is a darkness that we know, 

And this regret I got accustomed to, 

Once it was so right, When we were at our high”

Wake Up Alone

The emotional dependency Amy has with her husband is no secret, especially in this song. She only feels okay during the day when she’s distracted, almost like the night brings about all of the emotions she’s been avoiding throughout the day and hits her like a wave being held back. He even haunts her while she’s sleeping and she expresses the sorrow she feels after waking up to reality and discovering his absence day after day. 

“It’s okay in the day, I’m staying busy 

Tied up enough so I don’t have to wonder where is he”- 

“Just disappears soon as the sun sets,

 This face in my dreams seizes my guts, 

He floods me with dread, Soaked in soul,

 he swims in my eyes by the bed”

Some Unholy War- This song goes on about the loyalty Amy feels towards her husband. She goes on to say that she refuses to let him go and she will be by his side through war. This says a lot about where her priorities lie and who she’s willing to put first, herself or her husband?

“If my man was fighting some unholy, War, 

I would be behind him, 

Straight, shook up beside him With strength he didn’t know, 

 It’s you I’m fighting for, He can’t lose with me in tow”

He Can Only Hold Her- Lingering feelings are no secret in this song. Amy touches on the never ending feelings she has for her ex, Blake. In a way she is defending the emotional infidelity she is commiting by being in love with her ex while being in an entirely new relationship. She still loves her ex no matter who she pursues.

“Even if she’s content in his warmth

She is played with urgency

Searching kisses, the man she misses

The man that he longs to be Now how can he have her heart

When it got stole?

So he tries to pacify her

‘Cause what’s inside her never dies

So he tries to pacify her

For what’s inside her, it never dies”

Addicted- Amy makes it very clear that she doesn’t see pettiness as a taboo topic . When something needs to be said she has no issue saying it. This song is about Amy’s best friend’s boyfriend pinching her supply. Taking what isn’t his and irritating Amy along the way. This song acts as a lighthearted joke to end a very depressing and emotional string of songs. 

“Once is enough, To make me attack, 

So bring me a bag and your man can come back. 

I’ll check him at the door make sure he got green, 

I’m tighter than airport security teams”

Review: Splatoon 3 improves greatly from Splatoon 2


A&E: Splatoon 3 Improves Greatly from Splatoon 2

Nintendo released its third game in the Splatoon series on Sept. 9, 2022. (Wikimedia Commons)

Splatoon is a Nintendo third-person shooter video game trilogy and the third game in the trilogy, released on Sept. 9, 2022. The goal in all three games is to cover the gameplay map with as much ink as possible. The side with the most paint covering the turf after three minutes wins.

Nintendo Direct announces a variety of post-launch updates to keep players occupied. (Trusted Reviews)

Splatoon 3 is very consistent with its updates, as Nintendo has promised at least two years of consistent post-launch support. With that comes a set schedule of updating its fashion catalog and adding new weapons every three months. This is a stark contrast to Nintendo’s handling of Splatoon 2, where they updated inconsistently and hardly announced their updates ahead of time. 

Splatoon has always had more game modes than regular Turf War, such as Salmon Run and ranked, which Splatoon 3 renamed “Anarchy Mode.”Alongside the aforementioned game mode, they have also added “Recon Mode” which is meant for entering maps on your own to get a feel of the layout. Nintendo will add both X battles and League battles with the promise of working on large-scale single-player downloadable content (DLC). 

Aside from the large-scale addition of full game modes, Nintendo has added a never before seen mini-game known as “Table Turf Battles.” It’s a tabletop card game in which players place cards that represent ink being placed on the battlefield. As the name goes, it’s similar to Turf Battles since the aim of the game is to cover the turf with the most ink before the timer runs out. 

Splatoon 3 ditches the gender-specific character creation of the two previous Splatoon games. (Flickr)

Upon starting the game, players create their characters, without any restrictions from having to pick an assigned gender. In the two previous Splatoon games, you had to pick either a male or female character and had a set selection of choices based on this character’s gender. For example if you chose male, most longer hair types would be locked. Splatoon has always had diverse character customizations for players, but now they have improved upon gender equality in their games as well.

Two other forms of customization have been added to Splatoon 3. Lockers have been created and placed in your lobby to show off your equipment including weapons, clothing, stickers, accessories, etc. Splashtags have also been created to display player usernames with a banner and a customizable title. 

Splatoon 3 adds two new squid form mechanics: the Squid Surge and Squid Roll. (Flickr)

One of the biggest complaints about Splatoon 3 is that players feel that there is a lack of change in the actual gameplay. However, besides weapons, specials, maps, and game modes, Nintendo has added the Squid Surge and the Squid Roll. Both actions are self-explanatory, when swimming in one direction if a player flicks their analog stick in the opposite direction your kid will quickly dash in the other direction to perform a Squid Roll. When players hold the B button while on a wall in squid mode they will quickly dash up the wall and perform a Squid Surge.

Splatoon 3 collaborates with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet in their latest Splatfest. (Trusted Reviews)

The most significant and most exciting change in gameplay however is the addition of Three Way Splatfests. An extremely popular part of the Splatoon series is the highest community-based Splatfests, where players from all over the world compete against each other; sometimes the winner determines changes to the story. 

Splatfests base their teams on specific fun questions, such as “Cats or Dogs?” or “Mayo or Ketchup?” Players will then choose the answer they think is correct and fight to defend their opinion in Splatfests. The previous Splatfest was made to celebrate and test the launch of Splatoon 3, where players had a choice between teams “Rock”, “Paper”, or “Scissors.” Team rock won which could potentially change the course of the rest of the story.

The Splatfest World Premiere launched three months ago and Nintendo already finished their second Splatfest for Splatoon 3 this Veteran’s Day weekend. The theme was Pokémon and players chose between teams “Grass”, “Fire”, or “Water.” Team water took the overall victory with team grass taking second and team fire taking third. The Pokemon collaboration was extremely well received as fans anticipate further updates to come.

Splatoon 2 was very popular and expanded off of the original Splatoon and the third game continues to expand on the franchise. Splatoon 3 expands on the fighting mechanics tremendously with the release of new maps, game modes, weapons, mechanics, and more. For visual appearance, they have created new forms of customization that other players can interact with. Splatoon 3 has also fixed some of its greatest complaints such as the lack of consistent updates.

For long-time fans, features unique to Splatoon 3 give a different experience than the two previous games. As for new fans, Splatoon 3 provides easy ways to learn the ropes of the game, especially through story mode. The newest Splatoon is accessible to all players and anyone can get into the franchise.

Review: Joji’s ‘Smithereens’ album takes listeners on emotional ride


 Joji, known for his songs “Slow dancing in the dark” and “Sanctuary” released his third studio album “Smithereens” on Nov. 4.

The album is part of the label 88Rising, two years after his last album “Nectar.” His new album consists of nine songs with two previously being released before the album. 

Joji brings you a ride of emotions on each one of his albums. “Smithereens” puts the listener on an adventure through Joji’s mind and emotions.

Glimpse of Us

Originally released on June 10, “Glimpse of Us” was Joji’s first song to release since his album “Nectar” which was released back in the year 2020. 

This song takes the listener on a flow of emotions.

The opening line, “She’d take the world off my shoulders if it was ever hard to move,” suggests that Joji is talking about a girl that means a lot to him. 

In another line part of the opening verse, “Why then if she’s so perfect, do I still wish that it was you?” A follow-up from the previous line, Joji is talking about his ex and wishing she was his current girlfriend. 

In the chorus, Joji explains why he feels the way he does, “‘Cause sometimes I look in her eyes And that’s where I find a glimpse of us.” 

This is where he shows why he misses her and feels that his current relationship will never be as good as his ex.

Over this past summer on TikTok, “Glimpse of Us” blew up and currently has over 1 million videos that have been made to it on top with millions of views. On Spotify, the song has over 669 million streams being the most streamed on the album.

Feeling Like The End

The first new song on the album, “Feeling Like The End” lyrics express the heartbreak of false promises of a broken relationship.

From a personal view, “Feeling Like The End” has a type of staring at your ceiling at 2 am vibe. 

The heartbreaking song starts off with the chorus, “Too many, too many things we did together You used to promise me it would be forever. Feeling like the end, don’t think it will get better, baby.”

In this Joji speaks about  false promises from his ex and things they did together. 

“Feeling Like The End” currently has over 21 million streams on Spotify.

Die For You

Debuting with the album “Die For You” has hits deep in your emotions and in my opinion is better than The Weekend’s song “Die For You.”

Joji is still thinking about an ex from the past, the first two lines in the pre-chorus, Burning photos Had to learn to let go Joji is trying to get over his ex. 

In the chorus, Joji then expresses that even though its hard for him to let go of what they had he would still die for her, I heard that you’re happy without me And I hope it’s true It kills me a little, that’s okay ‘cause I’d die for you.

Like “Glimpse of Us,” “Die For You” has gathered a trend on TikTok with there being over 58 thousand videos made to the song and millions of views on those videos. Currently, “Die For You” has 75 million streams on Spotify.

Before The Day Is Over

The new song by Joji “Before The Day Is Over” starts off with background vocals and a slow-paced piano. 

The chorus, I know it won’t be long I know you’re almost gone Hold on, let me in before the day is over Just let me in before the day is over,” expresses that Joji is having a hard time getting over his ex and doesn’t want to lose her. 

My view on “Before The Day Is Over” is that it has a reverse feel to one of his previous songs “Run”.

“Before The Day Is Over” is currently sitting on over 16 million streams on Spotify.


“Dissolve” gives us a breakdown into Joji wanting to leave his body and leave everything behind.

Joji slowly breaks down giving the name for the song “Dissolve.” 

Joji depicts this in his lines, “It’s so hard just being me sometimes I wish I could escape out my mind.”

Currently on Spotify “Dissolve” is over 13 million streams.


“NIGHT RIDER” starts to show us the mentality of Joji and falling victim to his mind.

Joji goes in dept with being lost in his mind with the lines “Burning forever and ever, fully blazing I don’t remember no better days You know I’m waiting, just whenever.”

“NIGHT RIDER” is currently over 15 million streams on Spotify.


Joji slowly spirals into his mind and it perfectly shows this as the beats go into a slower pace towards the end of “BLAHBLAHBLAH DEMO”.

The song starts over with the chorus, but the beat changes tempo when Joji says the first line of the chorus a second time, “I can make you feel it closer, baby, one more time.”

“BLAHBLAHBLAH DEMO” currently has over 12 million streams and is the least streamed on the album.


Originally released on August 26th, “YUKON (INTERLUDE)” created anticipation and hype for the SMITHEREENS album.

YUKON expresses Joji’s wild mind and a little bit of the reckless lifestyle he used to have before fame. 

With lyrics like, Speeding up on that all-black Demon Going west, I don’t got no reasons I was throwing stones at Hercules Throwing them so perfectly Circles at the Chevron I can’t be forever youn,” Joji jumps into his former self a little bit and can’t accept he won’t be young forever.

“YUKON (INTERLUDE)” has currently over 45 million streams on Spotify.


Joji reminisces about the past on “1AM FREESTYLE”.

Joji’s lyrics show us he’s afraid of being alone in this life. 

The chorus “You know you can make it But you can’t make it alone.” 

On the verse “I’ve been playing memories in my mind Wishing you were there like all the time” shows Joji misses his past and what he had then.

“1AM FREESTYLE” currently has over 16 million streams on Spotify.

Feature image: Album collage created by JUSTEN NGUYEN

Album review: Taylor Swift begins a new chapter with the release of ‘Midnights’


Taylor Swift released her latest album, Midnights, on Oct. 21 at 12 midnight. The idea for the album was for it to be released exactly at midnight, however, due to the different time zones, Midnights was released at 9 PM pst, 10 PM mst, and 11 PM cst. 

The album has 13 songs in total with one song, “Snow on the Beach,” which features Lana Del Ray. 

According to, “Midnights has also broken several streaming records, including being the most streamed album in 24 hours (184.6 million streams) and the most streamed act on Spotify in 24 hours (228 million streams).” 

Swift fans thought that Midnights had a different vibe than her previous albums, as she has a tendency to make her albums about past failed relationships, so the change is something fans thoroughly enjoyed. 

You’re On Your Own, Kid

You’re On Your Own, Kid was the fifth track on the “Midnights” album. The song is about Swift’s own personal journey navigating gaining fame, love, and the people she has lost and gained throughout her journey through fame.

Though the song lyrics seem to be more closely related to Swift’s romantic side and wanting a boy’s attention. Throughout the song she continues gaining fame but yet still feeling alone even around so many people who love her.

She also seems to briefly address her past eating disorder in the song with the lyrics “I hosted parties and starved my body.”

The song strongly suggested that this song is about growing up and learning to release negative things from your past. Learn to keep the positives about life instead of the negatives.

Lavender Haze

Many fans speculated that “Lavender Haze” was Swift coming out as bisexual due to the color association. 

Christobal Hastings CNN article “How lavender became a symbol of LGBTQ resistance” states,  “In 1969, the color came to symbolize empowerment. Lavender sashes and armbands were distributed to a crowd of hundreds in a ‘gay power’ march from Washington Square Park to Stonewall Inn in New York, to commemorate the Stonewall riots that had just taken place a month before.” 

However, the song is actually about Swift’s relationship with her partner of six years, Joe Alwyn. People speculated that Swift and Alwyn were allegedly engaged which was neither confirmed nor denied. 

The lyric “All they keep asking me is if I’m gonna be your bride” makes it seem like Swift is tired of people asking whether Alwyn and Swift are going to get married.

Swift has spoken on social media about her relationship before as well as talking about the song. 

On an instagram post, she talked about the meaning of the song stating, “My relationship for six years, we’ve had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff, and we just ignore it. This song is sort of about ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff.” 

Swift also mentions in the instagram post how she decided on the name of the song, Swift looked up the meaning of the term “Lavender Haze” which was a common phrase used in the 50’s that meant being in love. 


Maroon was the second track on the Midnights album and is suspected to have a lot to do with past flings with lovers. Maroon is assumed by fans to be her backtrack to Swift’s “Red” album ex Jake Gyllenhal and her romance with Harry Styles. 

In the album Swift uses many colors to describe her emotions throughout the songs, one example would be the color maroon. With the song fans get to see deep into Swift’s thoughts and what keeps her up at night. 

In the song she talks about a lover she once had and remembers the first night they spent together.  Swift recalls the days and nights she spent with the lover which she felt she could really be herself around them.

The color maroon resembles what it used to be which was a bright red but it slowly burned out and turned to maroon, the color suggests it was similar to how the relationship between this lover went. Swift and her lover didn’t understand how to fix the drift and silence that came between them and all she has left are the memories that keep her up at night.


Within the Midnights album, Anti-hero was the third song. This song was very relatable for some of  fans and for Swift, as the song is about Swift’s insecurities and her anxiety in both her public and private life. 

On one of Swift’s Instagram posts she states that the song is one of her favorites on the album, “This song really is a real guided tour throughout all the things I tend to hate about myself,  We all hate things about ourselves” Swift says. 

In addition she says “So yeah, I like ‘Anti-Hero’ a lot because I think it’s really honest.” There are many deep lyrics in the song which can be interpreted in different ways. 

Some of the lyrics such as, “I should not be left alone to my own devices” and “I end up in crisis” can be seen as relatable to her fan as some people believe they shouldn’t be alone because they’re afraid of what could happen. 

In her music video she shows thoughts on her weight and appearance which caused controversy against some of her plus-sized fans. During the music video, Swift stands on a scale and it read “Fat” which is what Swift felt because of her eating disorder. 


Mastermind was actually the last song of her “Midnights” album.  This song was revealed by Swift to be about Joe Alwyn and her relationship origin story.

This is not the first time Swift has referenced Alwyn in her music but this song recaps the beginning of their love. Swift and Alwyn were considered to fall in love at first sight at the 2016 Met Gala. In the song it constantly describes how she felt meeting Alwyn and how she immediately felt something special about him.

The chorus shares her dedication and stubbornness to making things work out between herself and Alwyn naming herself the “Mastermind” behind their relationship. The song shows a lot of dedication between their relationship and has a nice twist from her music about all her past relationships that didn’t work out well.

Snow On the Beach (feat.Lana Del Ray)

Snow On the Beach is the fourth song on the Midnights album. Swift’s idea for Snow on the beach is the wonderful feeling of someone falling in love with a person as they’re falling for you too. 

It’s almost the feeling of a dream and realization of love. Like other songs on the album, this song is also assumed to be about her relationship with Alwyn. Lyrics that support this claim are “You wanting me tonight, feels impossible.” 

Midnight Rain

“Midnight Rain” was the sixth track on Midnights. The song’s meaning isn’t exactly known, however, guesses can be made by paying attention to the lyrics being sung. 

The possible meaning towards the song could be that Swift did not want to be the small-town girl she wanted to be well-known but her partner at the time could not have wanted that for Swift and wanted to lead a “normal” life. 

The lyrics “He wanted a bride, I was making my own name.” could have represented this idea.


“Question…?” was the seventh track in the Midnights album. The true meaning of the song is unknown but queer fans of Swift believe the song might have something to do with Swifts former best friend and rumored kissing partner, Karlie Kloss. 

Queer fans believe this to true because the context in the song. The song uses mainly she/her pronouns. 

In the lyrics “Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room?” could be linked to Swift’s song “dress” in her album with the lyrics, “Our secret moments in a crowded room” and “I don’t want you like a best friend, I only bought so you could take it off.” 

Vigilante S— 

The eighth track in Midnights is Vigilante S—. Vigilante S— is said to be about a wife finding out about her cheating ex-husband who has also done some white-collared crimes. 

This song is also Swift’s second song to ruin a man’s reputation to avenge one of her friends. Swift helps the ex-wife take revenge on the ex-husband, while they are said to look hot doing it. 

The song allegedly references Scott “Scooter” Braun, who Big Machine sold six of Swift’s songs to. As well as the feud between Kim Kardasian and Kanye West with the rumored album “Karma” that was then reworked into “Reputation.” Swift’s fan base is excited for the alleged official music video to drop. 

Taylor Swift’s ’Midnights’ album CD in the target music section which includes the 13 songs as well as three bonus tracks. (MARSHALL SCOTT/Ethic News photo)


The song Bejeweled was the seventh track on Swift’s new album. This song is a feel good song and reminds the listener to not settle for less and to those who feel or have felt taken advantage of. 

The song discusses dating someone who doesn’t treat Taylor how she wants to be treated, she starts to feel under appreciated and loses her shine. As the song progresses Swift realizes she is better without him and with or without him she can still “make the whole place shimmer.” 

One thing about the song that really caught people’s attention when one of the lyrics described Swift dancing with another man while talking to her lover about this new man. People suspect this may be a reference to Tom Hiddlestone they met at the 2016 Met Gala  and famously danced with him while she was still dating Calvin Harris. The dance quickly hit headlines in May 2016 and in early June 2016.


Labyrinth was number ten in the Midnights album. The song Labyrinth is another song about her current long-term boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. The song represents how Swift was afraid to fall in love with Alwyn because of her failed past relationship. 

The lyrics “Oh no, I’m falling in love again” shows how Swift really panicked when she found herself falling for Alwyn. 

Another lyric, “I thought the plane was falling down how’d you turn it right around” shows how she originally thought that the relationship could’ve turned out badly because of past experiences but in fact, it’s going the complete opposite. 


Karma was placed 11th in the tracking list.The song is based off an album that was not released, also called “Karma.” 

When the song title was announced fans believed the song would be a diss track to rapper, Kanye West, only for fans to find out that was not the case. 

The meaning behind the song is “a perspective of feeling really happy, really proud of the way your life is.” 

Swift says, “Feeling like this must be a reward for doing stuff right, and it’s a song I really love because I think we all need some of those moments. We can’t just be beating ourselves up all the time.” 

The song also represents Swift’s long-term determination to have a life-long career, the lyrics “Ask me what I learned from all those years, ask me what I learned from all those tears.” show that determination Swift has.

Sweet Nothings

Sweet Nothings was Swift’s 12th  track on her album. In Midnights Swift did not shy away from getting personal in her lyrics about her life and love life. This song discusses her highs and lows that come with being in the public eye and figuring out her peace and comfort with her partner of six years, Alwyn. The song discusses herself seeking comfort and shelter from the outside world with Alwyn. Going in deeper she feels safe with her partner and is comfortable enough with Alwyn to show her deepest thoughts and insecurities without feeling judgment. Swift feels safe with him and doesn’t have to ask him for compliments to receive them.

Midnights was the first album to be released after her two year hiatus, this album quickly began to be a fan favorite for the relatable topics in many of her songs on the album. 

The album talks a lot about her struggles in life and also her feelings and love towards her six-year long relationship with Joe Alwyn. 

Additionally, to the Midnights Album, Swift also made an extended version with seven more songs giving Midnights 3AM 20 songs. 

These albums can be found on Spotify, Apple music as well as Youtube music.

Correction: The original publishing of this article did not include analysis of the songs Anti-hero or Mastermind. It was corrected on Dec. 2 at 2:55 pm.

Review: ‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’ shows the limitlessness of media


Netflix released a show titled “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” on Sept. 21 and there are differing opinions on this show and how the cases of Dahmer and his victims were depicted. 


One glaring issue people have with this show is the inaccuracy throughout the show. 

For example, Glenda Cleveland, played by Niecy Nash, lived in a different apartment building than Dahmer’s and wasn’t his next-door neighbor as depicted in the show. To some, this may not seem like something significant, let alone something to think is wrong. 

Still, when depicting real-life instances like the Jefferey Dahmer case, details must be accurate, out of respect to the people that were involved in that case, especially those who lost family members and friends to that man; they deserve to have stories shared truthfully. 

The police on the case were already making the case even harder to solve due to their own inaccuracies about Dahmer.  Even the most minor details that may seem minuscule and irrelevant need to be depicted properly because this isn’t just an instance of disturbing fiction. 

This isn’t something that can be rewritten or have a spin-off, and that’s what some viewers of the show forgot.


This leads to another concern regarding the show, the directors, Ryan Murphy and Dan Brennan, did not get permission from the victim’s family to make this show and include their deceased loved ones. 

Eric Perry, the cousin of victim Errol Lindsey, shared on Twitter on Sept.  22, “No, they don’t notify the victims’ families when they do this. It’s all public record, so they don’t have to notify (or pay!)”

It was disrespectful and unnecessary for the directors not to do the bare minimum by seeking out the victims’ families and asking them how they feel about the show idea before they go along with any final decisions for the show. 

No matter which way you look at the dilemma of asking for permission and risk not being able to go along with the main plan for the show or  getting permission from the victims’ loved ones and possibly having to alter the whole show itself,  the most reasonable option seems clear. 

There’s a possibility that co-directors couldn’t find any link of family or friends to some of the victims, or maybe their loved ones simply shut the idea down right away; either way, straightforward communication is necessary when handling such cases.


Another complaint is the casting choice, especially for one person in particular. 

It was a poor casting choice in the long run to cast Evan Peters, a notoriously known and loved horror actor,  to play Jeffrey Dahmer, a genuinely vile human being. 

While Peters has played immoral roles in the past (i.e. Kai Anderson from “American Horror Story,” a raging sexist, alt-right, Trump supporter), the issue is, Jeffery Dahmer isn’t just some creepy spooky slasher from a horror movie like Jason Vorhees or Micheal Myers. He was a real person, who impacted other very real people, but some viewers from the show have made some kind of disconnect between this show and the real events that the show is based upon. 

It just seems as if some fans of his long life work, the viewers that will watch whatever piece of media he’s a part of as long as he’s in it, forget the fact that this isn’t just a typical casting role for Peters to play, it’s based on real life, real stories, real people that had the misfortune of coming across that man.

A question to those (specifically non-black cisgender heterosexual people) that have watched the ¨Monster¨ series and make jokes about what the victims had to live through before passing away for shock factor, or to the people who decided to dress up as Dahmer after getting inspiration from the show:

 How does fiction affect perceived reality; how do  real-life events affect fiction? 

And truly, is someone able  to decipher the fact that just because something is on television  it does not mean it can’t, doesn’t, or hasn’t already been carried out into reality.

In this case, unfortunately, it already has.

So there truly is no excuse.

Featured image photo collage designed by JUSTEN NGUYEN

Review: Chon discography evolves and grows on you


One of the most influential math rock bands, “Chon,” is a four-person group consisting of both Mario Camarena and Erick Hansel as the lead guitarists, Nathan Camarena as the drummer, and Esiah Camarena as the bassist (although there have been different bassists throughout the years of their tours). The band started small. As younger adolescents, Mario and Erick were already extremely talented guitarists with bright futures ahead of them. This was shown beautifully with their small demo EP in 2008. They decided they wanted to do live shows, so Mario had Esiah (his brother) on board, and also taught 11-year-old Nathan (little brother) how to play drums. With everything all together, the band is official. 

2008 Demo EP: 

-Across The Spectrum

-Mountains of Creation

-Temporarily Destabilized 

-Elliptical Illuminations 

This short EP shed light on Mario and Erick’s song-composing skills at a young age. Each song displays absurd and complex riffage. One could also hear how much another math rock band, “The Fall of Troy,” influenced the band’s sound in terms of guitar tone and riff ideas. As much as I enjoy each song from this sort of EP, a particular piece stands out between the four songs. Temporarily Destabilized has incredibly catchy rhythms and jazzy solos that will stay in your head for weeks. It’s also more significant in length and progresses more than any other song within the band’s whole discography. Overall an album that stands out and gets better every listen.  

Releases created before or after the 2008 EP:

-Newborn Sun



-The Perfect Pillow 

These releases were used regularly during the band’s live sets between 2009-2013. Newborn Sun would come to have a re-recording in their 2013 album, “Newborn Sun,” and The Perfect Pillow getting a re-recording in their 2015 album, “Grow.” I thought this era of Chon was their accumulation of all of their influences, mixed with finger breaking arpeggios and interesting solos. Although these songs have no right being as good as they are, this mesh isn’t quite what I’d define for the band as a whole, since I’d regard their first 8 songs as “refreshers for those that are tired of listening to metal.”

2013 Newborn Sun: 





-Bubble Dream 


-Newborn Sun 

With this next EP, Chon still keeps their metal influence but makes a more significant push for melodies and atmosphere with short and sweet songs for “Potion” and “Frosting.” It is also home to their most iconic piece, “Bubble Dream,” which put them on the map and a staple for the math and prog community as a whole.. Also, “Dew” has a beautiful ethereal solo, and I think everyone should listen to this song. It shows how fast Mario and Erick have improved over the past few years. 

2014 Woohoo! EP: 

-Super Potion






With each new release, Chon continues evolving their music and is not afraid to take risks. When I first listened to this EP, I wouldn’t say I was much of a fan then. But over the years, I became a little upset that I never listened to this small album as much as their other works. This EP is home to an interesting batch of songs, with only pure acoustic guitar on Super Potion written by Erick and Dust by Mario. Not only this, “Ecco” would be the band’s first song to have vocals sung by their bassist at the time, Drew Palisek. All and all, this EP has exciting ideas, especially with how “Knot” and “Sketch” have such groovy ending riffs and the beautiful melodies within “Suda.” 

2015 Grow(Band’s first official album):




-Book (Feat. Matt Garstka)

-Can’t wait





-Perfect Pillow

-Echo (re-recording of Ecco)

-But (Feat. Matt Garstka)

After years of growing popularity, Chon was able to sign with a record label, Sumerian Records, and debut their first official album, fully licensed. At the time of the release, there were mixed opinions regarding the album, as almost half of it was re-recorded songs. But after time, it was much more appreciated; since this was the band’s first full album, they needed to showcase some of their best stuff to reach out to people newer to the band and the genre itself. But even with the convoluted reasonings, I believe this is the band’s holy grail album. “Story” and “Splash” structure the vibe you feel while listening to this masterpiece. “Can’t Wait” would be the crowd pleaser among the community, and “Fall” is, in my opinion, a perfect song from beginning to end. This album also features guest artist, well-renowned drummer, “Matt Garstka,” from the prog-metal band, “Animals as leaders.” The two songs featuring him really do mesh well with Mario and Erick’s writing. I forgot to mention that the band’s drummer, Nathan, doesn’t yet write any of their drum tracks, as his drum mentor, Brian Evans, is the one pulling the strings. 

2017 Homey Album:

-Sleepy Tea


-Berry Streets (Feat. GoYama)

-No Signal


-Nayhoo (Feat. Lophiile, Masego)

-Here and There

-The Space

-Feel This Way (Feat. Giraffage)


-Glitch (Feat. ROM)

-Wave Bounce

For Chon’s second album, they’ve decided to take even bigger risks and experiment with not only their sound but do collaboration pieces with other artists. They’re using more post-processing, different balances and effects within their songs while still incorporating their roots as a math-rock band. I am a little on the fence with this album as a whole. I didn’t really enjoy the featured artists’ songs, as I don’t think the songs are nearly as catchy or memorable as their other tracks. This also goes for the ones they did create as only the band, with the exception of “Waterslide,” and “Sleepy Tea,” as they are the face of the album. I will say I’m never not impressed by how the band can make such complex and virtuosic riffs that flow so well within each of their songs. 

2019 CHON Self-Titled Album:






-Pitch Dark




-Dead End



With the third and, as of currently, the band’s final album, we hit a close. In retrospect, I’m happy that this album wasn’t my introduction to Chon. As a listener since “Grow,” you feel the total weight of each song, seeing how far the band’s come. “Ghost” was probably the best choice to use for the first track. It was a hopeful introduction into the rest of the album, with Mario and Erick completely shredding on their guitars. Despite the more simplistic melodies, Chon can really incorporate intense riffs and drum fills together without breaking the song’s initial flow. With regards to “Spike,” this song was definitely written as a callback to their earlier works, literally being able to hear the main theme of “Bubble Dream” at the end of the track. And the album’s final song, “Peace” completely subverts your expectations. Every track from this album has such distinctness, being able to tell one from the other. In conclusion, Chon has never made a bad song, but I just didn’t personally enjoy this album as much as I did with their other works; it all seemed just a little surreal that this would possibly be their last album they’d make.

Review: From shakes to singing, Austin Butler best portrays Elvis in the new movie


There have been many interpretations of Elvis Presley’s life. These interpretations have caused Elvis to gain a lot of hate because of false facts. Although, with Austin Butler and the director, Baz Luhrmann, showed  Elvis’ name and reputation justice.

Austin Butler had two  years to prepare playing Elvis and during that time, he hired a professional swim coach that had also worked with the cast of “Bohemian Rhapsody”  to really get the shakes and wiggles down just like Elvis himself. 

After watching even just a few of his interviews, Butler expresses the type of pressure he felt having to portray Elvis in an acceptable and satisfactory way. He has stated, “What made me nervous was Elvis was so loved and so iconic, you feel responsibility playing any human that has actually lived, but with him it’s like, it’s a weight like I never felt before,” he said. 

Butler added, “And there’s a responsibility to his family and also putting his story into context. That’s the thing.”

He papered his walls with photos of the musician, and spent his days studying and mimicking Elvis’s movements in addition to his voice. Pouring himself into the role came with a cost for Butler. He put so much energy into resurrecting Elvis that his body revolted less than 24 hours after they finished filming.

Butler perfected the voice of Elvis since he had been working on it for 2 years with no end, so it has stuck with him. Fans and interviewers have wondered why Butler still has the voice of Elvis lingering in his own.

Butler said, “That was the voice I spoke in for two years. It was so habitual…You get done and you kinda don’t remember what your natural voice is.”

Butler singing all the songs in the Elvis movie has surprised many. 

Even personally, I believed he was just lip syncing until I got home and did my own research on it.I suggest watching the movie and interviews on your own, the effort put into the movie, not just by Austin Butler but the whole team did an outstanding job.

Review: “Heartstopper” puts LGBT representation into a more accurate light


Originally starting as a graphic novel by Alice Oseman, “Heartstoper” has gained traction as a Netflix Original Series that was released on Apr. 22, 2022. The show follows a boy by the name of Charlie Spring and the trials and tribulations of being a gay teen in the Truham Grammar School for Boys.

Consisting of only eight episodes, the story has many forms of LGBTQ+ representation, including same sex couples, closeted LBGT students, and a transgender student. Although they are the main characters, their sexuality does not take over the entirety of their personalities like some other shows trying to show LGBT representation. Each character has a complex relationship with themself and who they are, along with the friendships between them and their classmates. 

One notable character is Elle Argent, a transgender student who recently transfered to the all girls school, Harvey Greene Grammar School for Girls, also know as Higgs. The show depicts her not being accepted and continuously called by her deadname and incorrect pronouns at school, which is a sad reality for many trangender people. 

The show takes place in England and begins with Charlie being in a toxic relationship with a boy named Ben. He had been using Charlie while he was still in the closet, causing a lot of pressure on Charlie making him feel more like an object to Ben than a boyfriend.  

Nick Nelson is then introduced as the tablemate of Charlie in his new form (or homeroom). Nick fits the straight rugby player stereotype and so Charlie is told to abandon his feelings for Nick after confiding in his friends, Elle, Isaac Henderson, and Tao Xu. His relationship with Nick continues and they eventually become close friends as Nick had asked Charlie to join the rugby team for his speed. 

This angers many of the characters including Nick’s friends on the rugby team and leads to many homophobic remarks to be made. This bullying is another sad reality for being an out member of the LGBT community and is more accurately representing than having the token gay kid as a side character trope. 

In the meantime, Elle is at Higgs and she finds a small group of friends, Tara Jones and Darcy Olsson. It is later learned they are a lesbian couple and furthers the representation past just the boys relationship. 

The rugby team, unaware of Tara’s relationship, tries repeatedly to get Nick to go on a date with her, as they kissed when they were younger. But Nick was too preoccupied with questioning his sexuality and developing feelings for Charlie. After taking many “am i gay?” quizzes and researching online, he comes to terms with being bisexual because he developed a crush on Charlie. 

This leads to another common situation where Nick isn’t ready to come out and face the harsh reality of his classmates’ views but still wants to be with Charlie. They are unofficially together  in secret with only telling their close friends who fully accept and respect them. 

Nick begins to bring Charlie around his friends and they then go to see a movie, with the promise that Ben and Harry(the leader of the group that often bullies Charlie) will not be there. Consequently, Henry is there and continues to give Charlie a hard time for being gay which leads to Nick standing up for him and getting in a fight with Harry which ends with Harry being suspended. 

After these events, Nick is ready to come out and officially be Charlie’s boyfriend . There is a very heartwarming scene where Nick’s mother accepts her son and his confession and his relationship with Charlie. 

Although the show has a bit of a happy ending, this is not the end of the story. The graphic novel already goes beyond the show with Nick and Charlie’s relationship and Netflix has announced the show will have 2 more seasons to follow more on their lives.

Retro Review: Mobb Deep proves they are the most “infamous”


New York’s legendary Queensbridge duo “Mobb Deep,” consisting of members Prodigy and Havoc, deliver their monstrous second album “The Infamous” released on April 25, 1995, through Loud Records. The album “The Infamous” consists of 16 tracks with a total length of 1 hour and 6 minutes, primarily produced by Havoc, with outside producer and rapper Q-Tip, from the Queens hip hop group “A Tribe Called Quest” contributing as a producer and mixing engineer.

The album has guest appearances ranging from Nas, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Q-Tip, Big Noyd and Crystal Johnson. The album is accessible on all streaming platforms and has been labeled with the Parental Advisory sticker by the Recording Industry Association of America because of the explicit content throughout the album.

The album consists of the tracks and preludes:

1. The Start of Your Ending (41st Side)

2. (Infamous Prelude)

3. Survival of The Fittest

4. Eye for a Eye (Your Beef Is Mines) (Feat. Nas & Raekwon)

5. (Just Step Prelude)

6. Give Up The Goods (Just Step) (Feat. Big Noyd)

7. Temperature’s Rising (Feat. Crystal Johnson)

8. Up North Trip

9. Trife Life

10. Q.U. – Hectic

11. Right Back At You (Feat. Ghostface Killah, Raekwon & Big Noyd)

12. (The Grave Prelude)

13. Cradle To The Grave

14. Drink Away The Pain (Situations) (Feat. Q-Tip)

15. Shook Ones Pt. II

16. Party Over (Feat. Big Noyd)

The album’s lead single “Shook Ones Pt. II” was released on February 3, 1995 and an official music video was released on YouTube on Oct. 20, 2013. On “Shook Ones Pt. II,” both rapper’s Prodigy and Havoc define somebody who’s shook or fearful when confronted with a dangerous situation. Following the album’s lead single, “Survival Of The Fittest” was released on May 29, 1995, “Temperature’s Rising” was released Sept. 18, 1995 and “Give Up The Goods (Just Step)” was released on Jan. 22, 1996. The consecutive singles have an official music video released onto YouTube.

Havoc was interviewed by HipHopDX on April 25, 2020, for the 25th anniversary of The

Infamous, reflecting on how impactful the album was on their lives, the influence the album had on hip-hop culture and their life experiences shaping and molding the creative process during the creation of the album.

Havoc says, “Yeah, I have to say that. I don’t know if that sounds cliche as to whatever it is, but if it wasn’t for that album, I wouldn’t be talking 25 years later about it. So I would have to say that that is definitely my favorite album for more reasons than one.”  

“Go Ask Alice” remedies reading rush


“Based on a true story” is often used to describe events to add dramatic effect to a story or moral.  However, the term itself is not always genuine, as the definition of the term can be very loose and leading. 

The story of the book “Go Ask Alice ” uses this term for its advantages.  The story entirely takes place through journal entries of an unnamed female character, and her descent into the world of drug use and abuse.  The story has dark themes of drug use, sexual assault and death.

This story starts with an unnamed teenage woman who receives a diary as a gift, which she uses regularly to write about how she feels about herself and the world around her.  One day, when she decides to go to a party the woman was invited to, the people of the party decide to give the young woman psychedelic drugs without her knowing.  This was a major turning point for the woman, as she turned to a life of drugs and the effects they bring to a person’s life.  

Beatrice Sparks published “Go Ask Alice” in 1971 and has since been frequently challenged as a banned book. (CYRUS ENGELSMAN/ Ethic News photo)

The remainder of this article will contain spoilers for the book. 

The book itself has had a lot of controversy because of readers questioning the legitimacy of the story and how it is portrayed.  In the middle of the book, the woman loses her diary, and gives journal entries with any paper material she could find, napkins, paper bags, and other items of that regard.  

This itself has raised many questions, who recovered the notes? When did the notes take place?  These questions have made readers question how real the book itself is. 

Another reason readers question the legitimacy of the book is because the book’s genre is considered a Young Adult Fiction, despite the book claiming being “A Real Diary.”  

Despite the rumors and theories of the legitimacy of the story, the moral and themes of substance abuse and sexual assault are still relevant to this day for many despite the book being over 50 years old.

At the end of the book, immediately after another journal entry, the reader is left to discover that the young woman has died, presumably, from a drug overdose.  Though the cause of death is not explicitly said, this death is sudden and emotional.  

After hearing the young women’s struggles with abuse, sexual assaut, and the life of an adolescent away from home, all stemming from an addiction to drugs, it sets a fear into the readers mind. A fear that is still real and many have to this day.

This book is a hard read from start to finish, but has an important message about drugs and their effect on someone’s life.  The reason the book is hard to read is because it felt very real, like a real person one could know and understand.  This book is recommended if the reader can handle uncomfortable topics.  Despite the difficult topics and themes, the story has an important message on the world and the people on it.  

As the main character of the story would say, “Why is life so difficult? Why can’t we be just ourselves and have everyone accept us the way we are?”  

‘The Batman’ raises the bar of comic book movies


Warning: This review has spoilers.

When it comes to comic book movies, no character has had a better track record than Bruce Wayne, better known as Batman. From Tim Burton’s 1989 adaptation simply titled Batman, a film that shot the defender of Gotham into worldwide popularity, to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, which revolutionized the comic book genre and gave one of if not the greatest comic book film of all time in The Dark Knight.

Matt Reeves’s The Batman can be added to the caped crusader’s repertoire of great comic book films, giving a gritty detective film featuring the world’s greatest detective that is beautifully shot, well acted, and genuinely refreshing in a genre that is slowly being filled by more and more mediocre films.

Like any great comic book films, The Batman took influence from many great Batman comics and it shows. The film prominently took from Batman: Year One, a four issue series detailing the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s escapades as the dark night, and Batman: The Long Halloween, which takes place in Batman’s second year of crime fighting, like the film, and follows him trying to hunt down the allusive Holiday Killer.

Year One’s influence in The Batman is noticeable from the start, as the film depicts Bruce early on as Batman showing how he’s still learning the ropes when it comes to being Batman and how he’s not quite as competent as Bale or Keaton’s rendition just yet. This take on Batman is incredibly interesting as it shows him making mistakes, like how he crashed into a bridge while fleeing the cops. Mistakes like that give Batman a sense of relatability and are a good way to show that Batman is still human and still makes mistakes.

The Long Halloween’s influence on the film is far more prevalent to the point where the first issue of the book was handed out in some theaters across the country. Both the book and the film dive into the relationship Bruce Wayne’s parents had with the mob boss Carmine Falcone, called “The Roman” in the book. This dynamic proposes the idea that the Wayne family weren’t always good people and explores how Bruce would react to that which is handled very well in both the film and the book. There are also some scenes from this film that are one-to-one recreations of comic panels like Catwoman and Batman’s first meeting, where in both the film and book Batman discovers Catwoman stealing information about Falcone. The Long Halloween is one of Batman’s greatest books and if you have any interest in the comics, it is a must read.

Outside of the previously mentioned comics, the love for the world of Batman and him as a character is seen very clearly in Matt Reeve’s direction. His impressive attention to detail can be seen in his interpretation of Gotham, depicting it as a cesspool of crime and corruption where it feels like Batman is the only solution to this problem. The love for the Batman mythos is also clearly on display in the screenplay, written by Peter Craig and Matt Reeves, due to how well each character is fleshed out and written. The Penguin is a good example of this, as he is generally seen as the comic relief character but still works very well in the world and doesn’t stick out too much.

Speaking of the characters, every single performance in the film was steller and perfectly encapsulated each of the character’s comic counterparts. The lead role in the film is of course Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Pattinson’s portrayal of Batman is fantastic, delivering a genuinely terrifying and intimidating version of the character using mostly subtle facial expressions, mainly with his eyes. His Bruce Wayne is also very interesting, because of how broody and simply edgy he is as opposed to the cocky, playboy persona that is put on in most interpretations.

Another standout performance in the film is Paul Dano as the Riddler, which is pretty surprising because the character is usually portrayed as a pretty goofy character in most media. This is completely changed with Reeve’s writing and Dano’s acting, giving an incredibly terrifying and very unique take on the character. Dano’s riddler is a perfect villain for this film, a shut-in orphan who believes he is helping Gotham by being its “vengeance” by brutally and publicly executing corrupt officials and causing overall mass terror becuase he looks up to Batman. This pushes Batman to realize he must not only be the city’s sword, but also its shield. Dano is usually a standout actor in any film he’s in and that is no different here, where he perfectly plays this psychopathic character with his eerie and creepy performance making him feel like a genuinely good horror villain as opposed to a standard, basic supervillain.

The only issue with the movie for some are its pacing which is very similar to Blade Runner 2049, meaning that movements by the character’s are made intentionally slow to build suspense. While this kind of pacing does put some members of the audience on the edge of their seats, some could be taken out of the movie due to the runtime.

Overall, The Batman is an amazing comic book film and one of the best adaptations of Batman to date, giving an excellent early years story for the dark knight with amazing writing, cinematography, and performances to boot. Hopefully The Batman will push comic book films to create enthralling stories like this in the future.

Rewind review: Top 21 flicks for teens to stream from 2021


With the 2022 Oscars that went live March 27, some teenagers are rewatching some films from 2021.

 “My favorite movie from last year was Spiderman because it was a marvel action movie,” stated by Ryan Bhatti, freshman from Redlands East Valley High School. 

“Encanto is my favorite movie of 2021 because of its good quality, the music, and the culture,” said REV junior, Abigail Key. 

Below is a list of the best movies for the teenage demographic to rewatch.

Numbers shown for each movie indicate worldwide gross amount according to Box Office Mojo.  

#1 Spiderman: No Way Home 

Box office: $1.776 billion

Peter Parker faces new threats with his identity as spiderman now out in the public. Going to Doctor Strange for help creates a bigger problem when the multiverse breaks and villains from different universes start affecting his life. 

Where to watch: Currently still in many movie theaters; will be available on Starz in upcoming months 

#2 No Time to Die 

Box office: $774.2 million

The newest James Bond film is a continuation of the specter movie in 2015. James bond comes back to 007 to find a bio weapon that is threatening to create a mass genocide.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu

#3 Venom: Let There be Carnage 

Box office: $502.1 million

When Eddie Brock interviews a death row inmate, a piece of venom gets attached to the insane criminal which creates carnage. Carnage creates chaos while seeking revenge for a past lover. 

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu

#4 Godzilla v. Kong

Box office: $468.2 million – In this film, two of the most iconic monsters in cinema history face off for the first time on screen. The film takes place on a fictional island called Farou Island where King Kong has been living since his last bout with civilization in New York City. When Godzilla emerges from hibernation, he heads straight for King Kong’s home on Faroe Island to fight him again.

Where to watch: Hulu, YouTube, Vudu

#5 Dune 

Box office: $399 million – “Dune is a science fiction movie based on the book series “Dune,” were a young man with a gift must travel to different planets in order to save his family and people. And while trying to survive with his mother, he realizes that his dreams are his future reality.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu

#6  Shang-Chi 

Box office: $360 million – Shang-Chi is a Marvel superhero, who first appeared in Special Marvel Edition #15 (1974). This film, released on September 3, 2021, follows Shang-Chi as he trains with his father to take revenge on the man who killed his mother and father. Shang-Chi is a martial artist who has superhuman abilities like super strength, speed, agility and reflexes.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu, Disney+

#7 Black Widow 

Box office: $379.6 million

Natasha Romanoff or Blck Widow fights alongside her family to take down the leader of the black widow program which brain washes women into killing machines. 

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu, Disney+

#8 Eternals 

Box office: $300 million – The film follows the story of a group of people who are born with special abilities and are known as “The Eternals”. When there is a threat to humanity, they must work together to save their race.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu, Disney+

#9 Free Guy 

Box office: $331.5 million – Normal bank teller realizes that his normal life was actually a video game. When he realizes that no one’s going to save the day, he steps up into the role. Decides to be the hero in his own story.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu and will be available on Disney+ this month

#10 Sing 2 

Box office: $293.1 million – Sing 2 is a sequel to the 2016 film Sing. It follows the adventures of Buster Moon (a koala), Rosita (a pig) and Johnny (a mouse) as they try to save their theater from being bought by an evil corporation. They sing and work together to save the theater.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu

#11 Encanto 

Box office: $233.9 million – A family that was given a gift when they were going through their worst. Every member has their own special ability that’s connected to the magical house,  except Mirabel. When their house begins to die, she’s the one to break it and rebuild it into something better.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu, Disney+

#12 Cruella 

Box office: $233.2 million – The film stars Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil and explains how fashion can cause blood to spill. A revengous woman, working for the woman who killed her mother, takes on the task of outshining her boss while under cover.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu, Disney+

#13 Jungle Cruise 

Box office: $220.9 million – In the film, a group of scientists is on a mission to find the source of a new and deadly virus. They are looking for answers in an area where there have been no human settlements for decades. The only thing that they know about this area is from satellite images and old maps. The film has all the elements of a classic adventure movie with twists and turns around every corner.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu, Disney+

#14 Ghostbuster: Afterlife 

Box office: $196.7 million – Ghostbusters: Afterlife 2021 is a sequel to Ghostbusters 2020. The film follows the members of the original Ghostbusters squad as they work to stop a new team of ghosts from destroying New York City in 2025. In Ghostbusters: Afterlife 2021, there’s a new generation of ghosts who are out for revenge and want to destroy New York City. The film follows the original Ghostbusters squad as they work to stop this new team of ghosts from destroying New York City in 2025.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu


The Matrix Resurrection 

Box office: $153 millionIn this sequel to The Matrix (1999), Neo (Keanu Reeves) discovers that his role as The One implies greater responsibility than he ever imagined in a computer-generated virtual reality known as “the Matrix.” In order to save Zion–the last human city–Neo must defeat a powerful artificial intelligence program called Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff). Neo wakes up, but he doesn’t remember anything about his life or who he really is.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, Apple TV, Amazon prime video, Vudu

#16 Space Jam 

Box office: $162.8 million – Professional basketball player, Lebron James, and his son get stuck in a digital world. In order to get home safely, he must team up with the Looney Tunes to defeat the rogue AI in a basketball game.

Where to watch:  Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu, Youtube tv, HBO max, Google play movies and tv

#17 Halloween kills

Box office: $131.6 million – Halloween Kills 2021 is a horror film that was released in 2020. The movie is about a group of friends who are all invited to a Halloween party by their friend, but when they get there, they find out that the night has been planned by the murderer who killed their friend.

Where to watch: Youtube, appleTV, Amazon Prime video, and Vudu

#18 Old 

Box office: $90.1 million – A tropical family trip turns into a thriller that has them running out of time. They find out that the beach that they’re staying at is causing them to age drastically. The entire family only has one day to live.

Where to watch:Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu

#19 Luca $49.8 million – A little boy that’s bound to the sea, meets a boy that has no fear and helps him go on land. With the two of them ending up in a competition with a creative girl teammate, staying away from water to keep their secret gets difficult.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Amazon prime video, YouTube, Google play movie and TV, Vudu, Disney plus

#20 Don’t Look Up $784,681

Don’t Look Up is a sci-fi thriller, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film follows the story of an engineer who has created a device that can predict the future. The story is set in 2021 and focuses on the dangers of predictive analytics and how it can be used to manipulate people’s lives.

Where to watch: Netflix

#21 Red Notice $178,143

The world’s second best jewelry thief clashes against an FBI agent and the world’s number one thief to try and find egypts lost Cleopatra’s eggs. Facing many obstacles they must work together and trust each other to get the treasure.

Where to watch: Netflix  

Daniel craig in 2021’s newest bond film, came out in october 8th 2021

Staring Timothee chalamet, Dune came out on october 22, 2021

The new Venom movie starring Tom Hardy, came out on October 1, 2021

What’s up with Marvel? Moon Knight enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe


An image of advertising for Moon Knight. Moon Knight premieres March 30 only on Disney+ (Credit to Disney+ and Marvel)

Marvel Studios published the first trailer for the show “Moon Knight,” the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Jan. 17. The show will follow Steven Grant, played by Oscar Issac, as he battles with dissociative identity disorder, also known as DID, and eventually becomes the fist of Khonshu, Moon Knight.

Moon Knight first appeared in issue #32 of Doug Moench’s “Werewolf by Night” in 1975 and it wouldn’t be until 1980 where he would get his first solo series, which laid out the groundwork for his character in the comics. Moon Knight started as the mercenary Marc Spector who was fatally wounded by his employer, Raul Bushman, and then revived by the spirit of the egyptian moon god Khonshu. 

After he was resurrected and beat down Bushman, Spector developed DID which led to the development of his three alter egos—the taxi driver Jake Lockley, the billionaire Steven Grant and the vigilante Moon Knight. 

Steven’s DID is a major point of contention for fans, considering the fact that its portrayal could make or break a story. With the show reportedly taking inspiration from Jeff Lemire’s 2016 run on Moon Knight, which had explored Marc’s mental state and made the reader question what was real or not. 

The exact details about the characters alter egos in the show is unknown but it is known that Steven Grant will not be a billionaire in the adaptation. Instead, he will be a mild-mannered gift shop employee who wants nothing of what’s happening to him. It’s unknown if his origin from the comics will be adapted into the show, but it’s an extremely safe assumption that the show will follow a similar story, at least with Khonshu.

For the antagonists of the show, Marvel had decided to dig for some rather obscure villains from their comic book history, starting with the main antagonist Arthur Harrow played by Ethan Hawke.

In the comics, Arthur Harrow was a Nobel Prize candidate due to his work in medicine and was set to win the prize if he wasn’t caught with secret Auschwitz-Birkenau documents that he stole to cure his trigeminal neuralgia, which paralyzed the whole left side of his face. He then decided to kidnap subjects to experiment on and someday cure his paralysis before he was eventually stopped by Moon Knight.

The strangest thing about Marvel’s choice to pick Harrow is the fact that the character appeared in only one issue from volume #2 of “Moon Knight” and was never seen again. Judging by the trailer, the character seems extremely different from his comic counterpart where he seems to be a leader of a cult-like group, not a Nobel Prize winning scientist.

The other known antagonist for the series is the Midnight Man played by the late Gaspard Ulliel. Midnight Man, or Anton Mogart, first appeared in “Moon Knight #3” is Moon Knight’s direct counterpart, a thief who’s shtick is that they only appear at midnight. The character’s role in the show is currently unknown so there is no telling how much about the character will be lifted from the comics.

Moon Knight premieres March 30 on Disney+. It is described to be one of the more brutal entries to the MCU and is “the first legitimate Marvel character-study since ‘Iron Man’” according to Oscar Issac.

Review: Disney’s ‘Encanto’ showcases Colombian culture through music and appearances


Disney’s “Encanto” is a fantasy film taking place in Colombia that was released on Nov. 21, 2021. “Encanto” tells the story of the Madrigals, an extraordinary family with magical gifts, and one Madrigal who wasn’t given a gift. The movie revolves around Mirabel, and what happens when she notices that the miracle, the reason that the family has gifts, is slowly beginning to die.

The showcase of Colombian culture was extremely successful through matters of appearances of not only the characters but their Encanto, their refuge, as well. Colombian culture is also showcased through other things such as the movie’s cast, music and colors. 

The family’s Casita, their home, is set in an “Encanto” as the family called it, located in the Colombian mountains. Their home’s location ensures that the family will never be faced with the danger of an invasion that sent Abuela Alma and Abuelo Pedro fleeing from their home 50 years earlier. This invasion caused Pedro’s death and the birth of the family’s miracle.

Disney’s “Encanto,” meaning enchantment, presents the Madrigals, an extraordinary family of 12 with magical powers. (Credit to Walt Disney Pictures)

Present-day, the family has grown with six children between Alma and Pedro’s triplets Julieta, Pepa and Bruno. The family was introduced during the first song of the movie, “The Family Madrigal” sung by Abuela’s fifth grandchild, Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz).

In the song, she maps out their family of 12 and their powers. She explains the triplets Pepa (Carolina Guitan) whose moods affect the weather, Bruno (John Leguizamo) who can tell the future but who also disappeared and Julieta (Angie Cepeda) who can heal with food. 

Pepa is married to Felix (Mauro Castillo) and has three children, Dolores (Adassa) who has super hearing, Camilo (Rhenzy Feliz) who can shapeshift, and Antonio (Ravi Cabot-Conyers) who is yet to get a gift later that night. 

Julieta is married to Agustin (Wilmer Valderrma) and also have three children, Isabella (Diane Guerrero) who can grow flowers, Luisa (Jessica Darow) who has super-strength and Mirabel who is the only Madrigal child without a gift. 

Much color and structure are showcased in the four-minute song. The colorful embroidery on the family’s clothing and within their hometown embodies the color used in cultural clothing in Colombia. Not only this, but the structural aspect of the town replicates actual towns within Colombian cities, big and small. Strong and bold colors that are used in the movie’s town are used within real Colombian cities such as Bogota.

The characters’ appearances are the most important aspect to the movie’s cultural background. The character’s skin tones, eye colors and hair textures vary. They show how different Colombians can look and prove that the idea of Hispanic alike is not only brown skin and brown eyes. Pepa is light-skinned and has green eyes, Julieta has brown-skin and dark brown eyes, and Bruno has darker skin and light brown eyes showing the varying looks, genetically, of Colombians and other Hispanics.  

Along with the character appearances, the entire cast of the movie is one of the most diverse casts in a Disney movie. The casting was specific to each character, following a different cultural background than a typical Disney movie. Typically, Disney movies have characters of European descent, rather than those of Hispanic, black or native descent.

During Antonio’s gift ceremony, the whole town celebrates with the Madrigals and is not limited to just the relatives. The ceremony is an important aspect of Colombian culture. In every region of Colombia, any and all achievements are celebrated with big parties where it’s common for the family, big or small, to invite the entire village to celebrate with them. 

After some time spent within the family’s Casita and at Antonio’s gift ceremony, the next song of the movie, “Waiting on a Miracle,” is presented by Mirabel. Though the song does not have any cultural aspect, it shows Mirabel in a vulnerable state which is important to the plot. She tells herself to not “feel regret or [sadness] at all” and explains that she is still “a part of the family Madrigal.” The song evokes pity among the audience for Mirabel, knowing now how she truly feels about not being “special” like the rest of her family.  

The rest of the movie goes into more depth of the miracle and Bruno, but never gives a reason why Mirabel never received a gift. Fans of the movie have their theories, such as the thought that Mirabel would be the next candle holder after Abuela’s passing. Perhaps the answer will be given in future projects featuring the Madrigals.

The songs from the movie, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, were huge successes on their part. Songs such as “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” ”Surface Pressure,” and “The Family Madrigal” had hit and stayed on the Billboard Top 100 for almost a month, with “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” being number one for three weeks. Other songs in the movie included, “Dos Orugitas,” “What Else Can I Do?,” “All Of You,” and “Colombia, Mi Encanto.” 

According to, the movie‒running at one hour and 39 minutes, has received a rotten tomato score of 91% and an audience score of 93%. It has made over 95.4 million dollars at the box office. 

Overall, the movie succeeds in every cultural aspect that can fit into a 100-minute movie. If there are any future “Encanto” projects, fans are hoping to see an exploration of Colombian culture as well as other members of the family.

Part 3 of 3: Marvel takes first step into multiverse with “Spider-Man: No Way Home”


Warning: The following article contains spoilers.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 first

Out of the many Spider-man: No Way Home movie posters circulating, this appeared to be one of the more popular ones based on fan feedback and sharing on social media sites. (Credit to Marvel Studios)

Distraught from May’s death, Peter flees from the building without contacting any of his friends, who are obviously worried after the fight. In a desperate wish to see his friend, Ned accidentally uses Strange’s sling ring to open a portal to Parker.

But the portal they open is not to the Peter they expected, but to Peter Parker of “The Amazing Spider-Man” films played by Andrew Garfield. 

During Garfield’s interviews for the 2021 movie “Tick..Tick.. Boom,” he was constantly asked if he was in the movie, but denied it until the release.

“I wasn’t expecting to ever have a conversation again about potentially playing Peter Parker. I felt very excited just to be a fan again. But I got this call from Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige and Jon Watts with this idea. It was immediately undeniable. It sounded incredibly fun, incredibly spiritual — trippy and thematically interesting. On a base level, as a Spider-Man fan, just the idea of seeing three Spider-Men in the same frame was enough,” Garfield told Variety.

Mj and Ned are shocked that he had opened a portal that took Strange weeks to first open. Not only that, but now a Peter from a different universe was in the dining room. Confused and untrusting, MJ throws bread at Peter until he agrees to prove he is truly Spider-man by hanging and crawling on the ceiling, which he does. 

The two are still confused, but figure they will try again to reach the correct Peter. In an attempt to do so, Ned opens a portal to Peter Parker from Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films played by Tobey Maguire.

In the Deadline interview with the three Spider-Man actors, Maguire had stated, “I was intrigued immediately, like, in that conversation, the kind of love and celebration of these movies and what it meant, I think, to Amy [Pascal] and Kevin [Feige] was apparent. And to me, when artists or, you know, people who are steering the creative process have a kind of authentic, genuine intent of celebration and love, it just was so apparent in both of them, that, I don’t know, I just wanted to join that.” 

When they first meet, the two Peter’s are slightly confused with Raimi-Verse Parker saying “wait that’s not your friend” when referring to Webb-Verse Parker. The two Parkers then start a very brief fight where Webb-Verse Parker realizes that Raimi-Verse Parker is Spider-Man as well. The two then decide they need to find the MCU Peter Parker, and ask Ned and MJ if there would be any place he would go to “get away from everything.” MJ knew where to find their Peter from this comment and, with Ned, found their Peter on the roof of Midtown High. 

After embracing their friend and giving their condolences, MJ tells Peter that “there’s some people here” to see him, introducing the other Peters to their Peter. At first, MCU Peter was frightened by seeing the two Peters, and was angered when they first spoke to him saying that they ‘understood’ what Parker was going through when he thought they didn’t. Parker said they did not understand “what [he’s] going through” before Raimi-Verse Peter responded with the death of Uncle Ben and Webb-Verse Peter responded with the death of Gwen Stacy. 

After they share their understanding of “with great power comes great responsibility,” they decide to get to work on cures for the villains. The following scene develops the chemistry between the Spider-Men with a shocking reveal of Raimi-Verse’s webbing or even the Spider-Men pointing at each other with the script saying, “All three point at each other: Him? Memes!” 

After developing the cures and Ned’s reassurement that he will not turn into a villian and kill MCU Peter, the Spider-Men set up at the Statue of Liberty and MCU Peter uses J. Jonah. Jameson and the Daily Bugle to broadcast his location to the villains. Before the final battle, the Spider-Men indulge in small talk, like how exactly the Raimi-Verse Peter’s webs work or the most dangerous villains the Spider-Men have ever fought.

Their dialogue is interrupted by their spider-senses going off followed by the strike of Electro’s lighting and the reappearance of Sandman and the Lizard. MCU Peter quickly throws the Machina de Kadavus to MJ and Ned who are still at Midtown High. 

In the pursuing battle, the Peters attempt to take the villains on together but quickly find out that they are really bad at working as a team. The Spider-Men meet in the scaffolding of the Statue of Liberty and discuss how to properly work as a team. It’s at this moment where MCU Peter brags about being on the Avengers in which the other Peters respond with a confusion on who the Avengers are.

Ready to take their threat head on, the Spider-Men leap back into action and start taking out the villains one by one, starting with Sandman. The plan was to lure Sandman into the head of the statue and activate the collider to cure him.

The next target was Electro and to cure him by sapping the energy from his body to get rid of his electricity. The plan goes awry when Electro gets ahold of Webb-Verse and Raimi-Verse Peter, but luckily they are saved by the recently cured Otto Octavious. And he is then able to cure Electro and take away his powers. 

While Electro was being cured, MCU Peter was dealing with the Lizard who had tried to attack Ned and MJ due to Ned’s inability to close the portal. After chasing him out of Midtown High, MJ throws the Lizard’s cure to Peter and he manages to bring Curt Conners back to his human form.

With the villains cured, Ned and MJ try hiding the Machina de Kadavus but end up opening a portal to Doctor Strange who had been “dangling over the Grand Canyon for twelve hours” and is about to send the villains back to their universes until he sees that MCU Peter’s plan is working.

With Octavius now at the scene, he is finally reunited with Raimi-Verse Peter who share a very heartwarming few minutes that reference the first scene the two had together in the 2004 film. Meanwhile, Electro, now powerless, has a conversation with Webb-Verse Peter and praising him for everything he does and mentioning that he thought Peter would be black, to which he apologizes for.

Electro’s hope is referencing Miles Morales of the 2018 film “Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse.”

The peace was broken by the return of the Green Goblin, who implanted a pumpkin bomb inside the Machina de Kadavus. Green Goblin’s return to the scene had ensured one of them would be hurt or almost killed, this being MJ. 

Goblin’s pumpkin bomb had blown MJ off the structure into harm’s way and MCU’s Peter immediately jumps after her but is unsuccessful in catching her as Goblin’s glider pushes him away before he could reach her. Webb-verse Peter watches as all these events occur, then jumps and catches MJ without a second thought. 

Fans went crazy in theaters realizing he completed the task he once failed with his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) who tragically died by his hand in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”

Peter begins to cry after landing and making sure MJ was okay, remembering the same incident that caused Stacy’s death in the 2014 film. 

“We were shooting for two weeks, Tobey and I, but I think we managed to achieve something that is not just showing up and going, ‘Hi! Bye!’ My Spider-Man got to save his younger brother’s romantic relationship, potentially,” Garfield told Variety. “And to heal the most traumatic moment of his own life through doing it for his younger brother. Making sure that he didn’t have the same fate, there’s something cosmically beautiful about that. It meant getting a second chance at saving Gwen.”

Gobin is now the last villain that needs to be cured. When MCU Peter is able to confront him and tells him he’s going to kill him himself, he throws constant punches while Goblin laughs through every hit.

 As soon as Peter gets Goblin down for the final time, he grabs the same glider that killed May, in hope of killing him with it. Before he gets the chance, Raimi’s Peter steps in as a way of telling Peter not to. Right at that moment, Goblin unexpectedly stabs Raimi’s Peter. Webb’s Peter then throws Goblin’s cure to MCU’s Peter who immediately gets the satisfaction of doing the same thing to Osborn.

Fans who were afraid for Raimi’s Peter were relieved when he said he’s “been stabbed before.”

While the villains had all been cured, there was still the issue of the multiverse collapsing onto the MCU, which was caused by the Goblin’s previous pumpkin bomb. The cracks in the multiverse are seemingly irreversible until MCU Peter offers a solution, making everyone forget Spider-Man and Peter Parker are one and the same. Strange hesitates but eventually agrees and tells Peter it would be best to tell his friends goodbye for the last time. 

Peter first stops by the other Spider-Men and together have the biggest brotherly hug between any superheroes. He then stops to finally say goodbye to Ned, his best friend since his first movie, and MJ his girlfriend for the remainder of their time in the MCU. With one last promise to MJ telling her that he will find her after they forget him, the spell is cast and the multiverse is saved.


With everyone now forgetting who Peter Parker is, Parker heads to the coffee shop MJ works at with a speech to hopefully refresh her memory. When actually meeting MJ, Peter opts out of telling her and decides to keep her out of his life as Spider-Man. 

It is still possible that MJ has a slight recollection of Peter with the script saying, “HOLD ON MJ, watching Peter go with a lingering sense of… recognition”.

With his former life behind him, Peter moves into his new apartment after graduating from high school via a GED. He then suits up in a brand new blue and red Spider-Man costume that is “new for him, but reminiscent of suits he’s seen before” according to the script. He then flies over the RockefellerRockefeller Christmas tree with the last line in the script saying “Peter Parker is no more, but Spider-Man lives on…”

Part 2 of 3: Marvel takes first step into multiverse with “Spider-Man: No Way Home”


Warning: The following article contains spoilers.

Be sure to read Part 1 first:

A second marketing poster before the movie was released. (Credit to Marvel Studios)

A second  marketing poster before the movie was released. (Credit to marvel studios)

This is not the first time MCU fans have seen the multiverse. In earlier projects, the multiverse was hinted at in films such as “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “Doctor Strange” but only proved to be real when the short series “Loki” and “What If…” were released in mid 2021.

Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios, said, “The Ancient One mentions it in Doctor Strange, when she’s taking Stephen Strange through that sort of mind warping journey. It was always one of the most powerful storytelling tools in the comics. One you have to wield carefully, because it can get overwhelming. One that now with, obviously the 60 to 80 year history of the comics, now we have a 20 plus history of the movies and there are enough characters that we can start playing with it that way.”

Having 20+ films in the MCU provided enough material for the multiverse to finally come alive in “Spider-man: No Way Home” and future MCU projects, such as “Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness” which is said to feature the Scarlet Witch, Spider-man, and many other characters.

Parker leaves without knowing the multiverse has been opened. Now feeling completely hopeless, he attempts to make things better for his friends, who have endured the same amount of trouble Parker has, by meeting with someone from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). But during that time, Parker has an unexpected visit from none other than Otto Octavius, better known as Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) from the original Spider-Man films from 2002. Molina’s return as Doc Ock had been leaked long before the confirmation in the trailer that was released Aug. 30, 2021, but it was constantly denied. 

“When we were shooting it, we were all under orders not to talk about it, because it was supposed to be some great big secret,” Molina told Variety. “But, you know, it’s all over the internet. I actually described myself as the worst kept secret in Hollywood!”

“It was wonderful,” Molina stated. “It was very interesting going back after 17 years to play the same role, given that in the intervening years, I now have two chins, a wattle, crow’s feet and a slightly dodgy lower back.” 

Because of these concerns, CGI was used to disguise him to look the same as he did 17 years ago. This was all it took for Doc Ock to come alive once again, even though Molina had other concerns regarding fight scenes, but remembered the robotic arms did all the fighting and all he had to do was have “a kind of mean look on [his] face.”

Parker is confronted by Octavius. Minutes pass and the two are fighting because of a big misunderstanding. Octavius is not aware he is in a new universe, and believes he is fighting a different Peter Parker. When he finally realizes that Holland’s Peter isn’t the one he knows, Parker takes control of Octavius’s mechanical arms.

After Parker takes control of Octavious and safely saves MIT’s Vice Assistant Chancellor, he and his friends are accepted into the school with the Assistant Chancellor’s blessing. The short moment of peace is interrupted by the Green Goblin’s (Willem Dafoe) pumpkin bombs. As Parker is ready to head back into battle, he and Octavious are transported back to the crypt of Doctor Strange.

Dafoe’s reprisal of Norman Osborn was welcomed with open arms by fans and was received as well as his first time as the Goblin nearly 20 years ago in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. 

Dafoe was very willing to return as the Goblin for the film on one condition, he wanted to do his own stunts. 

“To do this physical stuff was important to me,” the 66-year-old actor Dafoe stated. “In fact, one of the first things I said to Jon [Watts] and Amy [Pascal], basically, when they pitched it to me before there was even a script, was, ‘Listen. I don’t want to just pop in there as a cameo, or just fill in in closeups. I want to do the action because that’s fun for me. And also, because it’s really impossible to add any integrity or any fun to the character if you don’t participate in these things.”

Now, in captivity along with Octavius and Lizard (Curt Connors), Strange explains to Parker what is happening and that he needs to capture the last two villians and where to find them.

Parker heads to a forest in an all black suit, which seemed vaguely familiar, reminding fans of the black suit used in San Rami’s “Spider-Man 3” in 2007. Coming to a clearing in the forest, Parker finds Electro (Jamie Foxx) using the energy from power lines running through the forest. 

Foxx stated, “You know what I was excited, knowing Amy [Pascal] for years man, and knowing what she’s done with this franchise, and she was explaining to me it was gonna be hot you know.” 

Foxx also explained that “[he] didn’t have to be blue” which was a major point of contention for him and his character.

Dillons initial, and obvious, first move is to attack Spider-Man, and has the upper hand until Sand-Man, or Flint Marko from Sami Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 (Thomas Haden Church) is also revealed to be in the forest and saves Spidey. After the duo take down Electro and the newly introduced villains stop seeing Parker as a threat, Parker explains their situation. The two are then teleported to the same crypt the other three villains are being held in by Parker.

Now back at the crypt, Strange continues to explain to the three (and the villains in captivity) the concept of the multiverse and the fate of those being held, which was to be killed by Spider-Man, in their own universes. Now upset by this, Parker takes the ancient artifact from earlier in the movie and traps Strange in the mirror dimension seen in Doctor Strange. Now Parker believes it’s his duty to ‘save’ these villains so that their fate isn’t to die at the hand of Spider-Man.

Parker then takes all five villains and Aunt May to Hogan’s apartment where he uses the missing Stark tech that Hogan has possession of to accommodate each villain, with MJ, the artifact and Kaecilius’ Sling Ring safely at Ned’s home. Starting with Octavius, Parker (with the help of Norman Osborn, given he is also a skilled scientist) replicates the chip that keeps the robotic arms from controlling Ock and attaches it where it was before being destroyed. Immediately, Ock is met with relief. Every voice Ock has claimed to hear from the past is gone and he is able to control the arms on his own. Parker and Osborn are ecstatic knowing it worked.

The happiness doesn’t last long, as a moment after, Osborn’s second personality (Green Goblin) has made itself clear and begins to attack Parker because they “do not need [him] to save [them] and do not need to be fixed”. It isn’t long before all remaining villains begin to rebel and leave the building to avoid being ‘fixed’ and sent back to their universes.

Osborn and Parker fight in Hogan’s apartment for a while before smashing through multiple stories within the building. Before watchers know it, Parker and Osborn are in the main lobby of the apartment complex where the final moments of the fight take place. May, who followed Parker downstairs with the cures to the final three villains, Osborn, Lizard, and Sand-Man, tries to help Parker by injecting Osborn’s cure into him. To their surprise, it does not work, and now angered by this attempt, Osborn attacks May and Parker with the glider that killed him over 20 years ago. 

With no time to recover, Parker is caught more off guard as Osborn hops on the glider and leaves with a single pumpkin bomb left to finish the job. These attacks did not kill Parker as Osborn had wanted, but rather ended with the death of May with her uttering the famous words, ‘With great power, must also come great responsibility’ in one of her last breaths.

Read Part 3 here:

Part 1 of 3: Marvel takes first step into multiverse with “Spider-Man: No Way Home”


Warning: The following article contains spoilers.

One of the six official marketing posters for Spider-man: No Way Home that was released after the movie’s debut. (Credit to Marvel Studios)

The highly anticipated “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was released on Dec. 18, 2021, exceeding fan expectations by a landslide with all hopes, speculations and theories coming true. As of Jan. 21, 2022, “No Way Home” has made $707 million, just a little over a month of being in theaters.

The movie begins where “Spider-Man: Far From Home” left off with Spider-Man’s identity being revealed by J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) of the Daily Bugle and the chaos that followed. Spectators see what happens with the now known Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and the trouble Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) left after his passing. Not only is Parker’s identity on every news outlet in the city, but all the chaos interfered with his personal life and education as a high school student, with reporters on the outskirts of his home and school, and the students and staff watching his every move.

With the world now knowing Parker’s identity, legal trouble had found its way to Parker, his aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and friend Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Daredevil’s Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) had a surprise appearance as Parker’s attorney, leaving fans speechless as well as cheerful and excited for Murdock’s newfound role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  

Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige, confirms Cox will be returning as Daredevil in future MCU projects.

 “If you were to see Daredevil in upcoming things, Charlie Cox, yes, would be the actor playing Daredevil. Where we see that, how we see that, when we see that, remains to be seen,” Feige stated.

With Murdock’s appearance, the famous line fans adored so much came. As Parker was speaking to Murdock, a protester outside of Parker’s apartment had thrown a brick into the window which Murdock caught with his left hand having senses similar to Parker’s. With Murdock having caught the brick, Parker asked how he was able to catch it, to which Murdock replied with, “I’m a really good lawyer.” Fans absolutely adored this line and have created many jokes and memes associated with it.

Initially, Parker had trouble with his identity being revealed from paparazzi at his school to people vandalizing his suit but was ready to accept the consequences until his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) were prevented from getting into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology because of his actions. Parker immediately attempts to fix everything for his friends. This entire segment of the movie, and the movie as a whole, accurately depicts Peter Parker’s selflessness by showing how he would do anything for anyone he cares about other than himself.

After his revelation, Parker goes to Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in hope of Strange’s help to have all citizens of New York forget the identity of Spider-man. Strange, having lost his title of “Sorcerer Supreme” due to the 2018 blip shown in “Avengers: Infinity War,” refuses Parker at first, thinking there wasn’t anything he could do to help without his title, and knowing that Wong (Benedict Wong) would not help him.

Before Parker is able to leave, Strange then remembers another way he can help without the title of ‘Sorcerer Supreme.’ He then leads Parker into a basement, later revealed to be Strange’s crypt, where Strange begins a spell involving an ancient mystical device known as the Machina de Kadavus. The relic would be able to perform a memory wiping spell, so that everyone, including Parker’s loved ones, would forget who Peter Parker is. This does not sit well with Parker and asks Strange to have it so that certain people could remember who he was. Strange does, rewriting the spell time after time as Peter lists all the people he would like to remember him as Spider-Man. The spell was rewritten a total of six times before backfiring and unknowingly opening the multiverse.

Read Part 2 and Part 3 here

The Ghost brings the Havoc on “Wreckage Manner”


Content warning: Explicit language in song title 

New York’s legendary hip-hop icons, Havoc, from the Queensbridge Rap duo Mobb Deep, and Styles P, from the Yonkers Rap group “The LOX”, team up as a super group to deliver their self titled collaborative album “Wreckage Manner” on Dec. 3, 2021.  The album Wreckage Manner consists of 10 tracks with a length of 31 minutes, entirely produced by Havoc. The collaborative album is accessible on all streaming platforms and has been labeled with the Parental Advisory sticker by the Recording Industry Association of America because of the explicit content on the album. 

The collaborative album consists of the tracks: 

  1.  F— Around 
  2.  Move How We Wanna 
  3.  Fiend For 
  4.  Pay Me In Cash 
  5.  21 Gun Salute 
  6.  YO 2 QB 
  7.  Havoc and The Ghost 
  8.  Good As Gold
  9.  Hymn to Him 
  10.  Nightmares 2 Dreams  

The album’s lead single “Nightmares 2 Dreams” was released Nov. 18, 2021 and an official music video was released on YouTube on the same date as the album. Both rapper’s Havoc and Styles P reminisce about their journey from transitioning from street life into the music industry over snare, a hypnotic piano loop and patterned drums. 

On Jan. 22, Clockwork Music and Addictive Affairs present a one night only concert at Revolution Live featuring Havoc of Mobb Deep with Big Noyd and DJ L.E.S., Styles P of “The LOX”, Kool G Rap and special guest performance from Termanology. This is Havoc and Styles P’s first performance of their collaboration album “Wreckage Manner.” 

Havoc and Styles P have been interviewed as a collective with Breakfast Club Power 105.1 FM on Jan. 24 and the podcast Drink Champs under Revolt on Feb. 5, speaking about their life experiences, their careers in their respectable groups and their collaborative project. 

Havoc says, “One day I just woke up, I wanted to do a project with one of my favorite artists, Styles P was at the top of that list, you know what I’m sayin’, so I text him up, I hit him up, he was with it, sent him some music and we just did the thing.” 

Styles P says, “Wreckage synonym for havoc and manner is synonym for styles and we felt you know, we was bringing what we was bringing, but we was bringing it in a different way and respect to our respective groups LOX and Mobb Deep. He’s a member of the Mobb and I’m a member of the LOX. We’re gonna to give you that, but it was in a manner we was gonna do it and we felt like it was gonna be real accurate hip-hop that gives you a wreckage feeling, but with grace and style.” 

What’s up with Marvel: What can fans expect out of Marvel’s ‘Hawkeye?’


Warning: This article may contain some spoilers.

 Image created using Adobe Spark, a photo editing software made by Adobe Systems. (EMMITT MURPHY/ Ethic News image)

“Hawkeye,” the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), premiered on Disney+ on Nov. 24. The mini series follows Clint Barton, played by Jeremy Renner, as he confronts the enemies he made during the five year gap between “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” as Ronin. The show will also be the debut of the second Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, played by Hailee Steinfeld.

The show takes inspiration from the 2013 comic book “Hawkeye” written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by David Aja. The book follows the Hawkeyes as they go through their day to day lives, whether that be taking down an underground Russian mob, hijacking a high society auction to steal back a stolen S.H.I.E.L.D tape, or just helping a dog who got hit by a car.

Many elements from the book are transferred from the comics such as the tracksuit mafia, the aforementioned Russian mob that are the main antagonists of the comic. The tracksuit mafia are hellbent throughout the story to eliminate Clint Barton after he constantly caused them a problem, like when he forced them to sell him a building after they threatened to harm their tenants or how he saved one of the mafia’s runaway wife trying to escape.

In the show, the tracksuit mafia are connected to Clint through his Ronin persona, where it is revealed that they were one of the criminal organizations that Clint attacked during his time as Ronin. The most prominent deviation from the comic is that the tracksuit  mafia is led by the deaf assassin, Echo. 

Echo was first introduced in “Daredevil #9” (Dec. 1999) where she was shown to be raised by Wilson Fisk after her father was murdered by him. She was originally set to take out Daredevil until she found out he was Matt Murdock, who she was in love with. After Matt told her the truth about Fisk, she confronted Fisk and fatally wounded him.

Her backstory in the show is similar to the comics. The main deviation is that her father in the show was the leader of the tracksuit mafia before being wiped out by Ronin. It is still up in the air on whether Fisk is involved in Echo’s origin, but his appearance has been hinted at with the unnamed Uncle character who was referenced by Kazi who is speculated to be Wilson Fisk.

Speaking of Kazi, he has so far only been a sign language interpreter for Echo, but in the comics Kazi is the mercenary who deafens Clint Barton. Originally from a Russian circus family, Kazi moved to America as a boy when his family was tragically murdered in an armed conflict. As a mercenary he worked for countless crime syndicates before making a deal with the tracksuit mafia to hunt down Clint Barton. 

There are also a select number of characters being taken from the comics alongside Echo, the most prominent being the second Hawkeye: Kate Bishop. Kate Bishop first appeared in “Young Avengers #1” (April. 2005) and took up the title of Hawkeye in issue #12. In the comics, Kate is the understudy of Clint Barton but seems just, if not more, capable than him, displaying superior confidence and archery.

In the show, Kate Bishop is portrayed as a more hotshot archer who is in over her head in most situations and needs Barton as a mentor. Kate’s addition to the universe also grows the ever expanding roster of underage heroes in the MCU, possibly building up to the Young Avengers in later installments into the universe.

Of course, not every storyline and plot point from the comics will be adapted into the show, but it is likely that the ones listed above will be adapted into the series, and with the rumors of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk returning, the series may add to the universe in a greater way than expected. 

Sifting the sands of the Dune universe: Looking beyond the surface of the newest Dune film adaptation


Warning: Mild spoilers for the 2021 film ‘Dune’ (PG-13) ahead.

The latest —and highly anticipated — adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science-fiction epic Dune (1965) is an extraordinary film. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, a French-Canadian director and writer best known for his work in “Blade Runner 2049” and “Interstellar,” excels in capturing a new perspective of the novel on screen while not altering the plot enough to change the story.

The storyline

The story centers around Paul Atredies, the son of a noble family, taking a precarious and emotionally charged journey from his home planet, Cardan, to the unforgiving desert planet of Arrakis in the year 10,191.

To ensure the safety and security of his people, Duke Leto, Paul’s father, is tasked with cultivating the planet’s well-known resource: spice. Also known as melange, spice is a hallucinogenic drug that promises long life, heightened awareness and other medicinal properties, making it one of the most desired commodities in the galaxy.

However, others such as the Harkonnens, a rival noble family, want this wealth. During the Harkonnens siege against the Attredies house, Paul and his mother Jessica, find themselves stranded in the formidable desert where they must evade the beasts that swim beneath the sand as well as buried secrets about their pasts that will determine their futures.

The artwork depicts a scene from the movie ‘Dune’ where the main protagonist, Paul Atredies, and his mother, Lady Jessica, are escaping a sandworm while stranded in the hot deserts of Arrakis.  (Artwork by Alicia Gullon)

Previous movie adaptations

There have been many attempts to adapt Herbert’s novel, but they came with little success. In 1971, producer Arthur P. Jacobs bought the rights to produce the movie, who then asked Alejandro Jodorowsky to direct the film. Ultimately the movie was never made due to the lack of funding when the project billowed out to a whopping 10-14 hour film.

David Lynch, an American filmmaker and musician, then took the role of directing the first official adaptation of the novel, released in 1984. However, Lynch’s film failed to convey the original story Herbert wrote and upset a large proportion of the intended audience. According to IndieWire, the movie was so hated that Lynch publicly disowned his work as not to let it define his career.

The influence of history on “Dune”

“Dune” is the first novel in a 15 book series, six of which Herbert wrote before he died in 1986,  and the authorship went to his son Brian Herbert. Written in the 1960s, Herbert drew on real-life history to develop his story including the Cold War, Middle Eastern oil politics, Russian Imperialism and environmental movements in the United States.

The conflict between the House Atreides and Harkonnens mirrors the clashes between Imperialist Russia and Middle Eastern territories during the 1900s.

 According to Thomas Chi, in his book “Petroleum Oil on Dune by Frank Herbert,” the character Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is written to be similar to Vladimir Ilch Lenin, a politician who, after the fall of the Romanov Dynasty, became a founder of the Russian Communist Party in 1917.

Their names further link the similarity that they both sought to gain large control of industries. The Baron sought to regain control of  the spice production on Arrakis, so he invaded the Atreides house. And Lenin wanted territory, power, and influence against his English rivals, so his attempts to gain said things involved invading the Middle East to gain a resource that the world depends on — oil.

Significance of culture and religion

Herbert also incorporated Islamic and other Middle Eastern cultures into the “Dune” universe through the religion of the Fremen: a group of Arrakis natives who follow the fictional religion Zensunni—a portmanteau of Zen Buddhism and Sunni Islam.

Middle Eastern influence is also seen in the languages Herbert created when he refers to Paul using  words with Arabic undertones including  “Usul,”  “Muad’Dib,” “Lisan al-Gaib”  and “Kwisatz Haderach.”

The Catholic Church is also referenced in the religion of the Bene Gesserit: a religion composed of women who interfere in intergalactic politics to further their own agenda by using genetic experimentation to help direct humanity on a path to enlightenment. The Bene Gesserit have elder leaders known as Reverend Mothers,  which, like in Catholicism, are Mother Superiors among the group of women.  

The ecology in “Dune”

The parallels of real world history within “Dune” are undeniable, especially in Villeneuve’s movie. As a novel heavily influenced by the role humans have over ecology, Villeneuve’s choice to film in Abu Dhabi and Jordan — Middle Eastern territories — gives the audience a true landscape of Arrakis than any green screen could. It also allows for more interpretation of a main point in Herbert’s novel: should humans hold the power to manipulate entire ecosystems for their benefit?

For an inhabitant of Arrakis to survive, they would need a stillsuit — a full body suit worn in the open desert and designed to preserve and reuse the body’s moisture for the wearer to drink. On a planet with no known water resources — excluding dew — water is seen as a form of wealth among the population.

To help monitor these harsh conditions, Dr. Liet Kynes, a planetary ecologist was sent by the Padishah Emperor—the highest governmental power within the Imperium. While Kyne’s initial role was to serve the Imperium as liaison, her allegiance alternated to the Fremen who worked with her to solve the water and environmental crises that they faced. Even after she died, Paul sought to carry on her legacy of altering the ecosystem to benefit the Fremen, a controversial action in the book and in real life.

Representation in cast

Kyne’s character serves as a representation of gender and ethnic roles within the movie. In the book, Kynes was originally a white man and was even portrayed this way by Karel Dobrý  in the 1984 movie. However, in Villeneuve’s “Dune,” Kynes is played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster, a Black British actress.

The rest of the cast consists of extraordinary and well-renowned actresses and actors including Zendaya as Chani Kynes, Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atredies, Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Oscar Issac as Leto Atreides, Stellan Skarsgård as Baron Harkonnen, Javier Bardem as Stilgard, David Bautista as Glossu, Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck, David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries and Stephen McKinley Henderson as Thufir Hawat.

The cast of ‘Dune’ features representation of genders and ethnicities, but lacks the Middle Eastern representation seen in Herbert’s novel. This potentially feeds the idea that “Dune” is a white savior narrative with cultural appropriation. Considering where the movie took place, it is hard to imagine that Villeneuve was unable to incorporate this. However, these are not the only holes that Villeneuve failed to incorporate. Yet, he will have the opportunity to fill these minor story gaps in “Dune: Part Two,” set to release in 2023.

The film’s immersive score

It is not just the filming locations that bring the audience closer to the story of Dune. Hans Zimmer, a German film score composer best known for his work “No Time to Die,” “Interstellar” and “Inception,” brings a landscape of immersive music to the film. Untraditional sound techniques such as throat singing, non repetitive drum rhythms, war horns, scraping metal, bagpipes, electric instruments and haunting female vocals — which, according to Variety, are to represent the Bene Gesserit order — all play a role in conjuring the disorienting sounds of “Dune.”  

With the unorthodox use of unnatural instruments to create music and sounds, Zimmer’s music transports viewers into an otherworldly experience. It connects the audience with the hallucinogenic effects of spice and other unsettling psychological aspects of the film.

While there have been failed attempts, Villeneuve’s “Dune” is a cinematic masterpiece. By incorporating the ecological, spiritual, political and psychological aspects of the late novel, Villeneuve almost accurately creates the world that readers of “Dune” have envisioned and waited 56 years for.

Review: After six years of silence, Adele’s ‘30’ album tops charts


Adele’s last album, “25”, was released in 2015 and she later went on a 6 year hiatus until now. On Oct. 14,  2021, Adele released “Easy On Me,” along with a music video. She later stated she is releasing a new album, “30”, on Nov. 19, 2021. The album has 12 songs, lasting 58 minutes.  The album can be streamed on all music platforms.

The songs in the album include:

  1. Strangers by Nature
  2. My Little Love
  3. Oh My God
  4. Can I Get It
  5. I Drink Wine
  6. All Night Parking (with Erroll Garner) Interlude
  7. Women Like Me
  8. Hold On
  9. To Be Loved
  10. Love Is a Game

Adele had a ‘One Night Only Concert’ on Nov. 14 where she performed 10 songs at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. She performed six songs that were from her past albums, along with four songs from her new album including ‘Easy on Me’. 

The concert audience included celebrities like Lizzo and Melissa Mcathy and people who managed to get tickets. This was her first concert since 2017. 

She had damaged her vocal cords causing her to cancel her last two shows, according to USA Today. This caused a huge break in the singer’s career. 

Adele has also announced that she will be doing a Las Vegas concert residency. It is set to start on Jan. 21 and end on April 16 2022, where she will perform two shows a weekend.

Taken on Nov. 18 2021, a day before the release on Nov.19 2021 at a local Target, Adele Vinyls and cassettes being sold and purchased. (NADIA CENICEROS/ Ethic News photo)

Before the album was released, Target had released the vinyl and cassette player the day before release date. Fans were able to purchase them before the album was supposed to be released. 

Only three days after the album was released, the album has become the best selling album in the US in 2021. The album stayed the top of the Billboard Music Charts for several weeks, selling over 1 million copies.

The album is about her divorce with Simon Konecki. “The estranged couple originally separated in April 2019, before Adele officially filed for divorce in Sept. 2019,” according to Vanity Fair. The songs relate to how the divore happened and how she felt during it. The songs also involve her son Angelo Adkins. Angelo was six at the time of the divorce. 

REVIEW: “Squid Game” tops the charts worldwide

By Salvador Barrera

“Squid Game,” 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 Game” 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 Game” 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 Game” 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


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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


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


“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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


House with clock in its walls infographic
Opening weekend numbers for “The House With a Clock in its Walls” from and (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


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 Percentage of Rotten Tomato critics who give the movie positive reviews from  (Benjamin Wear/ Ethic infographic)

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


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


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.