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“Smurfs: The Lost Village” is more than a childish film

By Kelly Ye
Photo courtesy of : Sony Pictures Image Works

 

 

Smurfs: The Lost Village brings joy to all ages.

 

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As I walked into the auditorium of Century 21 in Daly City a few minutes late, I saw a theater full of families who had brought their children to watch the new film, “Smurfs: The Lost Village.” I jogged up the stairs to find a seat at the back of the theater. After I sat down, I couldn’t ignore the excitement of the kids around me; it was palpable.

 

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” is an American comedy film produced by Sony Pictures Animation and animated by Sony Pictures Imageworks, just like the 2011 and 2013 versions based on the beloved blue cartoon characters. It has standard and 3D versions to choose from, but I chose the standard one.

 

The movie begins with the introduction of the village of Smurfs and the main character: Smurfette, the only girl in the village created by the wizard Gargamel. She’s unique in this Smurf village–not only in gender but also in identity. Unlike her friends, whose names are inspired by notable attributes like Hefty, Brainy and Clumsy, she’s left asking herself, “What’s an ’ette?”

 

Upon discovering that the evil wizard enemy Gargamel is planning to attack a “lost village” of other Smurfs, Smurfette and her team–Brainy, Hefty, and Clumsy–try to stop him. They eventually find their way to the location, where they meet their leader, SmurfWillow, and make a surprising discovery.

 

As the story moves on, I began to see the characters develop in a way that makes this movie not limited to just children. It has a pretty sad moment in the climax that may require hand holding and comfort for the little kids, but all ends well with a happy ending.

 

My favorite scene is when Smurfette and her team arrive at the lost village and find all the girl Smurfs. Suddenly the atmosphere of the theater changed. Kids started to exclaim, “Wow! So beautiful.” The beautiful colors and the background music really caught my attention. Not only were there are some shots that make perfect use of the 3D, but the effect is also used in some fantastically subtle ways that made me think it would be cool in the 3D version.

 

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” gives people a movie that reminds me of “The Smurfs” that I grew up with, while also making it into something more exciting in the process. If one is looking for a movie to take the little ones to this weekend, your best bet is “Smurfs: The Lost Village”. But don't be surprised if you find yourself walking out of the theater finding that you enjoyed the film yourself.


I recommend this movie to those who love animation and timeless films. But beyond just a childish film, it gives a positive message about how everyone has a purpose in life. It also had loads of fun jokes in it had me and the kids in the theater laugh throughout the entire film. I think it's a great film for the entire family to enjoy!

“Mass Effect: Andromeda” is worth the wait and the money

By Arianna Hansen

Photo courtesy of : BioWare

 

“Mass Effect: Andromeda’s” main protagonist, pathfinder Ryder, is about to embrace a long and epic journey to find a future home for alien races to survive in.

 

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Spring break, the time of year where everyone is out and about out of the country relaxing on a beach or skydiving somewhere. But maybe you aren’t like that, maybe you simply enjoy staying at home, sleeping in and staying up. You might even be a gamer, and if so then you have definitely heard of “Mass Effect: Andromeda”.

 

The action-adventure game was released at the beginning of spring break on March 21st. I happen to be an avid fan of the “Mass Effect” franchise and had been waiting for this game to be released. This week of spring break also happened to be the week of my brother’s birthday, so I had purchased the PC version of the game. What I didn’t know was he had purchased the PS4 version and was playing the game on the console.

 

During the time that I purchased this game, there had already been memes released on the game, and people were very critical of it. People put up laughable videos of glitches in the game on the internet, which discredited “Andromeda” a lot.

 

Many people then backed out of purchasing it, thinking it couldn’t compare to the original “Mass Effect” trilogy of Commander Shepard. And they aren’t wrong; it shouldn’t be compared to the original Commander Shepard “Mass Effect”, it is its own game that carries past the “end of the world” and sole survivor soldier scenario that the previous games had brought out. Now, “Andromeda” is about moving on and looking towards rebuilding and finding a suitable future for humanity and other alien races.

 

In this exploration, choice-making, action-adventure game, there is so much to explore. Whole planets to conquer, items to collect, weapons and armor to craft, and relationships to develop. Unlike the original Mass Effect trilogy, in which there is the option to play either a man or woman named Commander Shepard who holds the burden of the whole galaxy on his/her shoulders, “Andromeda” lets you go at your own pace, losing hours in just exploring the huge landscapes and side quests.

 

Many have complained about the facial animations and are upset about the realism of the faces, however I think it is just the charm of the game. You can see the small details on the face, like sweat and freckles, maybe a scar or two. Speaking from experience, the overall controls are straightforward and easy to use, but some extra combat elements might require some time to get used to.


“Mass Effect: Andromeda” is not what people expected, it is not another Commander Shepard game. The choices between paragon and renegade is not black and white as the previous game “Mass Effect 3”, certain gameplay choices in “Andromeda” have consequences later on. n “Andromeda” the ethical concept of  right or wrong is nonexistent it is more about what to say and when. And “Andromeda” has enough variations and options to give the player the ability to do what they personally think is right in the given scenario.

“Ghost in the Shell” leads audiences into a visually spectacular world

By Sandra Chen

Photo courtesy of : Paramount Pictures

 

Major Motoko Kusanagi (Scarlett Johansson) thwarts a terrorist attack on a Hanka business meeting.

 

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Controversy has always brewed over classic anime and remake live-actions. Recently,  Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks remade a Japanese classical anime into a science fiction live action film known as“Ghost in the Shell,” directed by Rupert Sanders. The film also has been accused of whitewashing the main characters. Some people are questioning about why the filmmaker decided to choose a white American actor to portray a Japanese anime character. Even so the power of the action scenes, color, and imagination brings the anime into an absolutely visually stunning live-action.  

 

The film is set in a future Japan. Major Motoko Kusanagi is a cyborg who has a mechanical body but retains a human brain, from when she survived the cyberterrorist attack which killed her parents. She lost all of her memory, but she keeps living with the “shell”, a new body, that the experimenters have designed for her.

 

She is one of the cyber-enhanced people, chosen to be a perfect soldier to stop dangerous crime in the world.

 

However, she finds out unintentionally that her life was stolen by the the people who made her a cyborg. She starts to recover about her past and take revenge against the people who took away her life.

 

The film gave me a satisfying impression visually. My only regret is that I didn’t watch the 3D version of the film. However, the standard version was still very awesome, and it would be worth it to watch it again in 3D.

 

The city is full of tall buildings with colorful lights and huge, high-tech tridimensional advertisements which look very realistic and stunning. When the film combines the elements of high-tech buildings, cars, lights and roads with the old streets of the city, it makes me want to time travel to the future.

 

One of my favorite scenes is in the beginning of the movie. It’s the intense thrilling scene when Major jumps off from the top of the building and breaks the windows to get in the villain’s meeting room and starts a fight. The slow motion shows many small pieces of glass flying in the air.

 

“Ghost in the Shell” is a movie that is worth watching not only because of the amazing special-effects and the thrilling scenes, but also because of a lesson in identity. Even as Major needs to follow her commander's instruction, she never forgets about her family and tries to find out about her past. This connects to our lives because we know that sometimes we have many rules or principles to follow from others, but we need to always follow what our mind and heart say.   

“Zero Escape: The Nonary Games” depicts a whole new dimension

By Ben Sheh

Photo courtesy of : Aksys Games

 

Each tale in “The Nonary Games” involves 9 characters being kidnapped and trapped in a game of wits and cunning, where they are forced to put their life on the line.

 

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Imagine for a single moment that the brain is not what governs one’s thoughts. It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? It makes no sense as when a brain’s connections are cut, a human can no longer think. But take, for example, a computer and a monitor. If one severed a monitor’s inner wiring, it would certainly prevent any images from displaying. But do the computer processes cease to function? They don’t; what’s to say humans aren’t the same way? This is one of many theories discussed in “Zero Escape: The Nonary Games.”

 

This game is actually a bundled remake of two visual novels in the “Zero Escape” franchise. They were known as “9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors” and “Virtue’s Last Reward.” Visual novels are classified as games that are extremely story-heavy (usually told through text dialogue) and focused less on gameplay. They can be seen more as electronic books than games, in a way.

 

“The Nonary Games” has two main sections in each game: a portion where the player solves puzzles and a portion where the player experiences the plot. The puzzle-solving portion is much like old “Escape the Room” browser games: the player clicks on certain items, combine them, and perform feats of logic (or simply guesswork) to progress. The plot portion sees the player become a bystander instead, simply reading/listening to what the characters say as the plot unfolds.

 

The plots of both titles are similar in that nine people are kidnapped and forced to play in a life-or-death game known as the “Nonary Game.” By now, it’s likely evident that there is a heavy emphasis on the number [nine.] Even the word “nonary” comes from the Latin root “nona,” which means “nine.”

 

To put it in Zero’s words, “Nine is a very, very important number in this game. After all, nine is your goal. You see that door in front of you? That’s your door. If you can open the door with a nine on it… you can escape.”

 

Who is Zero? The characters, trapped in a sinking ocean liner and booby-trapped elevators ask the same question—they know Zero only as their gas-masked captor. There is far more to the story than meets the eye, however, as both games feature multiple endings that all play a significant role in the stories as a whole. Going any further in depth would divulge too much of the story, which is best enjoyed without any prior knowledge.

 

Overall, “The Nonary Games” is a decent remake of two very good visual novels. This game is for those that appreciate a good story and don’t mind witnessing the action instead of playing a first-hand role. Keep in mind that there are screens upon screens of text, and let yourself fall into the worlds of “9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors” and “Virtue’s Last Reward.”


“Now, it is time. Let our game begin.” -Zero

The Power Rangers are morphing into today's Media

 

By Ethan Angeles

Photo courtesy of : Lionsgate Films

 

The Rangers morph into their new suits for the first time.

 

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Old, new, funny and cliche? The new “Power Rangers” movie isn’t only for youthful children, it shows their insight on teens of today. Warning Spoilers underway!

 

As it is played out, the Power Rangers are teens in high school, that live out a fantasy life that every child wishes for, meanwhile becoming teenagers, and gaining responsibilities and freedom. Unlike the old Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, these teens are juvenile misfits that meet in detention. It reminds me of the Breakfast club, in a way that although these are juvenile delinquents that meet in detention, they eventually open up to each on deeper levels, and get to know each other.

 

The teens are under the mentorship of Zordon (Bryan Cranston), the past red ranger, and survivor of the prehistoric battle in where he called upon meteors that wiped out the dinosaurs. They are taught to defend the Earth against Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), and fabled late green Ranger, by kicking, punching, and body slamming Rita’s stone golems into the ground, and then ultimately coming together as a team to defeat Rita’s golden monster, Goldar, who was created to retrieve the ‘Zeo crystal’, or source of power that is used by the rangers and Zordon to activate their suits, zords, and in Zordon’s case him still being alive. The Zeo crystal also powers the Earth and all of its inhabitants. The fabled zeo crystal has five sub crystals, the ones the rangers use to access the Morphin grid.

 

The team consists of Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery), the newest Red ranger, a juvenile delinquent jock, the classic heir to a long line of athletes that abuses his power and the law; Kimberly Hart (Naomi Scott), the lovely Pink ranger, a depressive who got into detention by texting an embarrassing private photo of a classmate; Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), Blue ranger, the classic nerdy nice guy, but in this version he has a spectrum disorder, meaning he is autistic in a way; Becky G as the next Yellow ranger, who is basically the new girl that is finding it hard to connect with her peers; and finally the Black ranger, played by Ludy Lin, who is the basic trouble maker/Daredevil of the group that has a unique soft side, especially towards his sick and dying mother.

 

As the newfound team trains to protect the hidden Zeo crystal (later revealed to be uniquely hidden in a Krispy Kreme), and learn about the history of life forces and the planets, Rita goes on a rampage throughout the town stealing everything made of gold to create her ‘Goldar’. Zordon expresses on multiple occasions that the best way to save humanity is to kill Rita. To further emphasize this, the film repeats the phrase “kill Rita” so much to a point that it becomes a shared joke between audience and movie. Jason says, “Let’s go and do the one thing that’s been asked of us and kill Rita!” to get his team to cooperate with his objective to saving the world. Zordon even says,”I shall destroy Rita myself,” when the Rangers’ training isn’t going so well.

 

In this movie, Billy becomes the genuinely memorable character, thanks to Cyler’s amazing performance(which overshadows what the character’s actual condition is in the movie). The screenplay and acting allows to portray this kid as the heart and soul of the group, and is sometimes seen and shown as the comic relief character, without taking away all of his dignity. Zack does well too:he is widely expressed as the “wild child” or the “crazy” one, but privately shows his caring and loving side in scenes where he tenderly cares for his sickly mother.

 

Director Dean Isrealite and writer John Gatins carefully balance the characters’ emotions evenly even as they go throughout the ridiculousness of some crazy events. The ability to do this is especially important to manage, because it makes it easier for the audience to forgive any missteps in production by adding great action scenes. There are many clear examples of this, such as the elaborate opening chase scene in where Jason Scott is driving a stolen car, and gets into an accident, ultimately letting him receive a leg injury, detention, house arrest, and privileges to being on a sports team.

 

Even with these amazing scenes, there are those few simple clique scenes, such as the amazing superman landing scene after a jump, and the iconic pre-planned fight scenes in where the minions die easily. The main villain’s henchman, or basically one level higher than the minions, dies, and then gets bigger. The rangers fight the bigger assailant with combining their zords, and in the end, you guessed it, they win.

 

What really catches my eye in this film, is the oustanding supporting characters. Trini’s mom asks her about her day and many other things before she answers, her father says that the problem with her is that she asks her a million questions before she gets to answer the first one. Trinin finally answered truthfully, in telling her mom about the underground spaceship, meeting four other children, and becoming a spatial super hero, being trained to save the world. In which her mom tells her to pee into a cup, (checking if she is doing drugs or not). Alpha, aka Bill Hader(the robot tasked with teaching the Rangers all they need to know about being well Power Rangers), brings the five kids to the “Pit”, to be trained. The “Pit” is a large area near the spaceship underground that is full of rocks and dirt. The teens stand in bewilderment, and Alpha says,”It’s great isn’t it?” This film is full of comic relief so much to a point where a father would drive in a pickup truck into the middle of a super battle just to check out if his son was okay, and where another character screams “I love my mom” loud enough to echo throughout the whole of the canyons.

 

There are many complaints about this new Power Rangers movie. Specifically, the outsider status of the Main Characters, the crude humor, and the shear fact that “Krispy Kreme” was spoken just as much, if not more than “Kill Rita”, which is obvious advertisement for the doughnut heaven known as Krispy Kreme. Due to these three things many people felt that this movie lost a lot of artistic integrity. However, this was a film from Saban Entertainment,  so it never had much artistic integrity to lose. The mere fact that viewers had high offense to everything wrong with the movie, ensures the fact that they had high expectations in the first place. This movie was a big budget teen movie that captivated the lives of actual teens, while also having the clique moral code that brings in the younger audiences.

Van Diepen’s “Run the Risk” is more than just another romance novel

By Sina Leniu

Photo by Sina Leniu

 

Don’t judge a book by its cover; Allison Van Diepen’s “Run the Risk” is more than just another romance novel.

 

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Allison Van Diepen has done it again,with another amazing book that had me “On the Edge” of my seat. Allison Van Diepen’s “Run the Risk” hit shelves on April 11th 2017. I have been waiting for this book since she announced the release date back in the summer of 2016. I bought the novel on April 12th 2017 and finished it in under 24 hours, I just couldn't find it in myself to put it down. I was so eager to find out what would happen next.  “Run the Risk” had me on my toes throughout the whole book, every time I thought something was a done deal or solved, the book did a turn. That is why I love reading her books. I can never predict what's going to happen next.

 

By looking at the cover you would expect the novel to be another typical romance story. But, Van Diepen’s “Run the Risk”  is more than just that. The novel contains romance as well as action. It's a story of a girl named Grace trying to keep her brother, Alex, away fom a street gang. Grace doesn't want her brother to go down the path that her ex-boyfriend, Mateo has. Even though it's getting harder and harder to convince him. Later on, Mateo reappears in Grace’s life claiming the gang life is now his past and he is trying to get back on his feet. Grace sees this as a chance to use Mateo’s past experience and show Alex the consequences that he might encounter. Mateo helping out Grace means they would be spending a lot of time together which would complicate things for her.

 

I have been reading Van Diepen’s novels since the summer of 2015, when I first read her novel “Snitch”. Before reading “Snitch”, I hated reading books because they put me to sleep but  “Snitch” was an exception. The story really interested me and had me wanting to read more. The story had a major plot twist that literally came out of nowhere and left me speechless. After reading “Snitch” and falling in love, I researched the author online and found that she had more books. Once I found “On the Edge” at Barnes and Nobles, I bought it and ordered the rest online.

 

I have since bought six out of the 11 novels she has written, and read seven of them. “Raven”, “Takedown”, “Street Pharm”, “Snitch”, “On the Edge”, “Light of Day”, and “Run the Risk”. Van Diepen’s the reason I fell in love with urban fiction. According to Wikipedia “Urban fiction, also known as street lit or street fiction is a literary genre set in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the socio-economic realities and culture of its characters as the urban setting. The tone for urban fiction is usually dark, focusing on the underside of city living.” I read a lot of urban fiction because I could relate to to the characters more.

 

Even those “Run The Risk” isn't part of a series, I recommend that you read “Snitch”, “On the Edge”, “Light of Day” and then “Run the Risk” because it's in the same setting as those previous novels, and readers would recognize some characters.


I honestly can't wait for Van Diepen to drop her next book or at least drop some new details about her new books.