Entertainment Blog
5/4/2018
By:

        Cinema buffs and common movie-goers have dubbed Steven Spielberg as many things. A pioneer, genius and visionary, to name a few. His latest triumph, “Ready Player One,” is a masterpiece of color, classic references, an incredible cast and an amazing plot. Spielberg and Ernest Cline, the author of the “Ready Player One” novel, have truly outdone themselves. 

        The plot is set in the year of 2045, where the now-dystopian world is seen through the worldwide virtual reality game known as the Oasis. The game’s creator, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), hid a virtual Easter Egg in the game before he died, only found by winning three keys to three different gates. The winner receives an immense fortune and total control of the Oasis itself. 

        Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), aka Parzival, is a devoted egg hunter and Halliday expert. He, along with the rest of the world, has been searching for the keys for years, with no success. But when he suddenly discovers a hidden clue to the first key, his future changes drastically. Wade must enlist the help of his friends and fellow Gunters: Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Aech (Lena Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao) and Daito (Win Morisaki) to find the Egg, before the devious IOI sixers and the evil Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) get there first. 

       Wade Watts is a brilliant protagonist. He’s the kind of relatable hero that teenagers can connect with on a personal level. In the real world, he’s just your typical teenage boy, a superhero’s alter ego. In the Oasis, he’s a blue and silver-skinned alien with a flying Delorean. But each part of him represents something important. In the Oasis, in any virtual reality game, people see what others want them to. A person can be anything they want, their best, ideal self. Wade, although not a first, discovers that he and Parzival are truly the same person and that he really can be a hero. This discovery speaks wonders for his character development and his fight for those he cares about. Sheridan portrays that specific trait extremely well, an ideal fit for his role. 

       Art3mis, Aech, Sho and Daito are the heart and humor of this movie. Each of them manage to capture the hearts of viewers in the span of two thrilling hours, with their witty banter and distinct individuality. The best part is meeting them in the Oasis and then discovering who they truly are in the real world. Every actor creates a real sense of seperation, bringing out their character’s traits even while acting without their own faces. 

       The brain behind the Oasis, Halliday, is one of those shadow characters, the kind that drives the others into action and inspiration without intending to. He’s a typical nerdy, socially-awkward guy, with his own past and regrets. Rylance does a wonderful job bringing this certain realness to Halliday, a raw truth and authenticity. 

       The detail of “Ready Player One” is phenomenal, there are so many Easter Eggs in a single frame it would take hours to find them all. Spielberg handles the numerous, classic 80s references, including his own, with great care and appreciation, making the audience weep with joy. And it is not only the 80’s that are referenced, there are countless other pop- culture cameos too. Everyone who watches it can find something they love and recognize. 

        Overall, “Ready Player One” is a sensational adventure that is pure detail and cinematic mastery. Ernest Cline and Steven Spielberg have embraced what pop culture really means to people, creating an outstanding oasis for all viewers to enjoy. 

5/4/2018
By:

         

“Stalking Jack the Ripper” 

        All her life in historical 1800s London, seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth had a life of wealth and polite society stretched out before her feet, whether she liked it or not. But in the shadow of that life, she leads a forbidden one. 

         Ignoring her father’s wishes and society’s expectations for women, Audrey spends most of her time in her uncle’s laboratory, studying the gruesome and frowned-upon practice of forensic medicine. But a series of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, making it harder to hide. Her search for answers brings her closer to her own world than she would have ever guessed, with a shocking discovery. 

        This book is absolutely gorgeous, with charismatic characters and handsome writing. 

        Audrey Rose, the heroine, is very unique. Not only for her Indian heritage, which includes a diverse perspective, but in the way she stands out against other heroines of the teen genre. Audrey is up against society as a whole and the way that it suppresses women, yet she chooses her intellect and skill over it all. And she is brilliant, the way she connects pieces of evidence with her love of science. She trusts herself and remains confident, something that her most of her male peers constantly frown upon. But another great thing about Audrey’s character is that even though she keeps a “gruesome” profession, she also keeps her “feminine” side, with her love of clothes and fabrics. 

        Her partner-in-crime, Thomas Cresswell, is that annoying, charismatic, Sherlock-ish guy that gets under your skin and in your heart at the same time. He’s handsome and full of himself, always a talented combination. Nevertheless, his loyalty to his work, and later to Audrey, is something to be greatly admired and appreciated. His character development is well balanced, adding more depth to his personality as the plot goes along. 

       “Stalking Jack the Ripper” stands out against other series of the vast teen genre because of its strong identity and originality. The writing is splendid, Maniscalco’s style is a darkly beautiful blend of the gothic and occult. 

“Hunting Prince Dracula” 

        After unmasking Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its painful, haunting memories. She and her handsome, but arrogant companion, Thomas Cresswell, travel to the dark heart of Romania, birthplace of one of the best forensic academies in Europe. However, their travels introduce them to another diabolical killer, the infamous Vlad Dracula, also known as the Impaler. His thirst for blood became legend, but he died centuries ago. Or did he? 

        Audrey’s dream soon becomes soaked with the blood of her classmates, some of them drained of it completely. Other dark discoveries within the academy’s stone walls further complicate the mystery, one that Audrey Rose is determined to solve, even if her peers deem her as incapable of such matters. With Cresswell at her side, Wadsworth comes closer to her nightmares than she ever wished to, both romantic and scientific. 

       “Hunting Prince Dracula” is a fantastic sequel to this series. It picks up exactly where the first one left off and doesn’t slow down. It leaps right into the bloody action with a shocking jolt, snaring readers within the first few pages. 

         Audrey Rose struggles with the impact of solving the Ripper case, experiencing a crisis of faith that severely damages her trust in science. This does interesting things to her character development and personality as the story goes along, forcing her to confront things that she is try so hard to forget. It is always fascinating to see a character shaken up, questioning their beliefs at the expense of their skills. Audrey still has to work twice as hard to prove herself to her male companions, who constantly doubt her presence in the forensic field. These two aspects of Audrey go head to head as she fights for her place in the world, trying not to let her past haunt her forever.The writing and mystery of this second novel is as magnificent as the first, growing darker and more perplexing as the deaths intensify. 

“Escaping from Houdini” 

      After solving the bloody crimes in Romania, Audrey Rose and her partner-in-crime, Thomas Cresswell, board the RMS Etruria, en-route to America and another murder. While on board, passengers are enchanted by a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic escape artist, entertaining the first-class passengers. 

      However, privileged young women begin to vanish and a series of brutal slayings terrify the entire ship. The mysterious influence of the Moonlight Carnival spreads across the decks as the murders become more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the sea. Audrey Rose and Thomas must piece together the gruesome investigation before reaching their destination. 

      But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale? 

      This third book in the bestselling “Stalking Jack the Ripper” series is coming soon, its release date set for September 18, 2018. A fourth and final installment from Maniscalco is in the works, the title and plot currently a mystery. 

5/3/2018
By:

       Video Games, much like literature, follow traditional story arcs and stereotypes. However, developers have begun to use creative spins to surprise players. Some games have stopped using twists in the plot and instead have focused on the characters in order to make the story stand out. 

      “Night in the Woods” is a story driven adventure game about a college dropout named Mae Borowski. After leaving college to return to her small town Possum Springs, Mae spends her days rebuilding a connection with her high school bandmates: Greg, Bea and Angus. While walking home alone on Halloween night, Mae witnesses a kidnapping. The authorities refuse to listen to Mae’s story, and no one trusts her enough to believe her. Mae relies on her friends to help her investigate the kidnapping and unveils a hidden cult that has been using sacri ces to ensure a prosperous future for Possum Springs. Mae manages to take down the cult with the help of her friends but puts the future of her town in jeopardy. 

        Mae is a strong character that suffers from major depression. She does things impulsively but always puts others needs before herself. While she does stand out, Mae is never the chosen one. She was not picked to have a mental illness, or to see the kidnapping or to run into the cult. A common stereotype is the main character being the chosen one, but Mae was not chosen for anything. She just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and, with her friends, was able to help Possum Springs. 

        In “Oxenfree,” a supernatural mystery game, the main character Alex, along with her friend Ren and her new step-brother Jonas, arrive on Edward’s island to attend what Ren has called the party of the year. The group is shocked to discover that the party is made up of only two people: Alex’s late brother’s ex-girlfriend Clarisa and Ren’s crush Nona. As the teens break away to explore the island, Alex and Jonas discover portals that can be opened using Alex’s radio. Through the portals, spirits from another reality warn Alex and her friends that they will possess their bodies if they do not make it off the island by morning. Near the end of the game, it is all up to Alex to save her friends from the evil spirits, but she is too shrouded in guilt about her brother’s death to free anyone. 

       Alex’s character arch breaks the cliche of the tragic heroines cycle. She fails to overcome personal con icts to save the day. After Alex witnessed her brother drown and was unable to save him, she could not forgive herself. When the time came for her to cast her worries aside and save the day, Alex could not bring herself to let go of the past. Even with the elements of her supportive friends and their fates resting on their shoulders, Alex cannot apply herself to reach self discovery and complete her tragic heroines cycle. 

        “The Last of Us” is a survival game that takes place twenty years after the zombie apocalypse. Joel, a survivor of the initial outbreak, is known for smuggling items across the wall that keeps the humans separated from the infected. He is given the task of smuggling 14-year-old Ellie, the only person known to man that is immune to the zombie’s bite. Joel and Ellie become inseparable as they grow closer to the drop off point, but things go awry when Joel realises that the operation that will save all of humanity will kill Ellie. Joel ghts against everyone who stands in between Ellie and himself. Joel manages to save Ellie from the operation and take her to a safe haven where he can take care of her, but the zombies and the infection will always haunt their lives. 

        Joel is the stoic hero that is common in video games. He is strong, quick witted and cares only for himself. That is until he meets Ellie and she turns his life around. Ellie reminds Joel of his daughter that he lost the day of the outbreak and he begins to resent her for it. But spending time protecting her reminds Joel that he is a human, and he can’t lose his humanity. Joel breaks the hero stereotype because he takes moments throughout his journey to show himself as vulnerable and able to change. 

        “Outlast” is a first person horror game about an investigative journalist, Miles Upshur, who wants to reveal the mistreatment of patients in Mount Massive Asylum. Miles is surprised to find the patients have taken over the asylum and are worshipping a ghost-like vision called the Walrider. Miles undergoes horrific trials and trauma as he navigates his way through the asylum. 

         In the end, Miles submits to the insanity as he unravels the truth behind Mount Massive and the Walrider. Miles is an interesting character because at several points in the game he is given the option to leave, but each time he refuses so that he can delve further into Mount Massive. 

         While most characters strive for their happily ever after, Miles knew that the only way he could be happy was if he was able to free the patients by telling their story. Miles Upshur breaks the stereotype that everyone wants a happy ending, because Miles values the truth over his life. 

5/3/2018
By:

      Ten years ago, a small town in Tennessee was subject to a horrid series of events that lead to the disappearance of over a hundred men, women and children. No one knows what occurred that night the citizens of Limetown went missing. 

       Investigative journalist Lia Haddock has lived her whole life wondering what happened in Limetown, especially since her uncle disappeared with the other citizens. Lia takes it upon herself to investigate the stories of former Limetown residents that have come out of hiding. The further she explores the mystery, Lia realizes that no one actually disappeared all, they were kidnapped. 

     “Limetown,” created by Two-Up productions, is a fantastic action podcast that utilizes the podcast platform to tell an interesting story. By telling the story through a series of eye witness interviews through Lia Haddock, voiced by Annie- Sage Whitehurst, Two-Up productions have created a realistic story while also keeping the sci-fi themes. Two-Up understands the importance of characters and plot detail. The intricate plot is carefully woven through the course of six episodes and leaves no room for plot holes or questions. 

     The story also features a strong female lead. Lia Haddock is headstrong and will stop at nothing to solve the mystery of Limetown. She is a good example of a female lead, because we get to see how she will stop at nothing to gure out what happened to the missing people. She does not need assistance to accomplish her goal, she solves it by herself. 

     However, Lia Haddock is not the only strong and well developed character we get to see. Deirdre Wells, the wife of Limetown’s cofounder, is a complex character who relays the story of what happened the night everyone went missing, the night she calls ‘The Panic.’ Deirdre is torn between her feelings of what she did in Limetown and the need for justice, but also between forgetting Limetown and living a life without ever remembering it again. 

     Max Finlayson is another well developed character that makes the reader contemplate what they would have done in Limetown and how they would have survived ‘The Panic.’ Max has no regrets about what he did in Limetown and to its citizens. Max, unlike his wife, is uncaring and lighthearted. 

     The interviews with these characters only add to the intense atmosphere the story holds. The characters are well voiced and Whitehurst brings the serious tone that the story needs. However, her strict tone sometimes interferes with the emotional parts of the story. The heavy narrative can be ruined when she fails to deliver her lines with the emotional tone the story calls for. In addition, the story is split into six episodes with ve minute clips in between episodes that have important plot inside of them. It would be easier for both the creators and the listeners if the clips were thrown in with the episode so that no one has to wait for the clip to buffer. It would also be easier because the mini episodes do not seem important at first glance and some will miss out on important plot points.All in all, “Limetown” is an interesting podcast that has great potential. Not only from its plot, but from the characters as well. It has something for everyone from its female leads down to the voice actors themselves. “Limetown” completely free to listen on Apple Podcasts and the Limetown website. It is a good listen for those who love mystery, science action and intense dramas. 

4/20/2018
By:

          This is it. The moment that Marvel fans have been waiting for ever since 2008’s “Iron Man.” Phases One and Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are complete, and with Phase Three coming to an end, it brings us to “Avengers: Infinity War.” 

         “Avengers: Infinity War,” is probably the most anticipated movie of the year, its making long in the works. Everything that the MCU has done has led to this film and everything hangs in the balance with its arrival. Nothing like this has ever been done before, bringing together so many different characters into one movie to end all movies. 

          The film will officially introduce the evil titan Thanos, who, up until now, has only appeared in some Marvel end-credit scenes. He is on a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, planning to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. He is joined on his terrible quest by the Black Order, which includes the Black Dwarf, Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw and Proxima Midnight. The Avengers must join forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Wakanda, Spiderman and Doctor Strange to defeat this terrible foe. The fate of existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything is threatened. 

           Rumors are that someone will die in “Avengers: Infinity Wars.” A vast majority are banking on Captain America being the one, since Chris Evans’ initial six-film contract is pretty much expired. However, Evans is holding onto the role until the untitled Avengers four, which means the odds of Captain America dying in this one are slim. Others are putting their money on Vision being the one, as he is attached to an actual infinity stone and Thanos is so intent on getting them all. In the most recent trailer, Doctor Strange and Spiderman are seen being brutally attacked, but they both have sequels in the works so they are pretty much out of the equation. The best bet is most likely Iron Man. The MCU started with him, so it seems fitting that it should end with him too. Factoring in rumors that Robert Downey Jr. is getting too old to play the part anymore and the fact that there are some scenes in the trailers that hint something will happen to him specifically, his death is a definite possibility.

4/6/2018
By:

            At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she had always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen and finally know love.
            Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, on her father’s orders. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. But when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina, her stepmother starts to look at Lynet with something like hatred. 

            Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.  

           There are countless renderings of the classic tale of Snow White, but not one quite like this. “Girls Made of Snow and Glass” offers up a clear feminist perspective, making it stand out among its competitors. It traces the relationship of two women doomed to be enemies, a relationship where only one can win all - unless they can find a way to rewrite their story. 

          Mina is the strength behind this novel, facing so much hatred from others and herself. While she plays the role of the “Evil Queen” and finds herself incapable of love, Mina is somehow able to capture the reader’s support. It’s interesting and heartbreaking to see her struggle internally, the weight hanging from her shoulders. She’s so strong a character, regal and resilient. Even though her heart is made of glass, she discovers that love is strong enough to break anything.  

          Lynet is the heart of this book, fighting to figure out her place in the world and who she is. Is she her mother, the woman who wore her face? Or can she be something else entirely? Lynet grapples with these questions throughout the novel, as well as her feelings for Nadia, the castle surgeon. Her relationship with her step-mother Mina is a fascinating one, as the ties between them are stretched. Despite having no biological mother except the snow that blankets Whitespring, Lynet braves her fate with love and courage. 

          Bashardoust’s writing style is beautifully descriptive, telling a classic tale with grace and singularity. While her plot is a simple one, with only a handful of twists, it loses none of its charm. Every character, drawing inspiration from the classic Snow White actors, both embodies its roots and grows into something much deeper.