Pierce Pioneer

School in Pittsburgh hosts Anti-Gay Day

The Day of Silence is an annual day of action to spread awareness about the effects about bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and their supporters. It is a known fact that harassment upon LGBT individuals increases their chances of inflicting self-harm and committing suicide.

However, a group of students at McGuffey High School in Claysville, Pennsylvania had different ideas and formed an “Anti-Gay Day,” which they held on 16 April, the day after the LGBTQ advocacy held the annual Day of Silence the day before. Students that participated in the “Anti-Gay Day” wore flannels, wrote “Anti-Gay” on their bodies and posted Bible verses on student’s lockers that identified as either gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

DThere were also reports that there were physical encounters between certain students that either participated or did not. There were even reports of a “lynch list” that went around the school. Due to the events surrounding the school, they came under media scrutiny with students and parents speaking out about the incident.

16-year-old McGuffey High School student Zoe Johnson who identifies as bisexual talked to “BuzzFeed’s” David Mack saying, “We came into school on Thursday and found a lot of people wearing flannel and we could not figure out why.” She added, “People started getting pushed and notes were left on people’s lockers. I got called a dyke, faggot. They were calling us every horrible name you can think of.”

While there have not been any comments from school officials, the Superintendent of the school released a statement to local station WPXI-TV reassuring students and parents that they were looking into the claims saying, “We resolve to ensure that all children can grow and learn in a safe, supportive environment free from discrimination.”

There were also reports that the American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon, who has been known for his outspoken opposition to LGBT causes, was critical of the Day of Silence, calling it a “hijacking of the classroom for political purposes.”

To hear of this incident happening is infuriating and heart breaking especially for something like to happen on a day meant for support and peaceful protests. Hopefully, the day will come when we can stop judging others for their beliefs or sexual orientation and can live together even if that scenario seems to be out of reach at times like these.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 moves into iPhone territory

With the newest edition of the S6 comes cheers and some distress

The Samsung Galaxy S6 moves into iPhone territory

The newest Galaxy phone was released earlier this month in the form of the S6 and S6 Edge. When it was announced that the newest version of the Galaxy S phone was coming out, many cheered at the fact that it was moving away from the cheap feeling plastic case. The biggest problems are that the S6 will not have the capability to remove the battery, have a slot for expandable memory in the form of an SD card (memory card), and will no longer be waterproof.

A way to combat the doubters in the storage war is the internal storage which is available in 32, 64, and 128 gigabytes. The phone also comes with 100 gigs of cloud storage service and 100 gigs of DropBox for free.

If a consumer can look past those three “downfalls” per se, then they will see a phone much sleeker than the S5.

The plastic casing the previous versions of the phone used is now replaced with Corning Gorilla Glass 4. There are worries due to the iPhone 4 having shatter issues with this type oc class. A proper case will assist easing the impact in any drops that may happen that could break the Gorilla Glass.

The camera comes from the Note 4. It is a 16-megapixel camera that has a sensor array which includes the LED flash and heart-rate monitor. The images are crisp and clear in good light situations and outperforms the s5’s camera in low light situations. The front facing camera is an upgrade, going from a 2 megapixel to a 5 megapixel.

The screen has a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560 pixels and uses Super AMOLED technology. AMOLED display technology integrates a capacitive touchscreen layer directly into the display instead of overlaying it on top of the display. In basic terms, you will be able to view your phone better outside.

While you cannot remove the battery, Samsung has made it where you can charge the phone wirelessly. You can buy a charging pad that allows you to place your phone down on top of it and it will charge. It even works through most cell phone cases. This may save you over time with the amount of power cords you have to buy due to loose connections.

The phone comes in two variations; the S6 and the S6 Edge. The S6 weighs just 6 grams more than the S6 Edge. Users are able to attach apps to the Edge for easier use for those with smaller hands. There is no mini version slated for the S6 yet.
Overall the phone is a great upgrade from the S5. Pricing begins at $200 for the 32GB in contract with Verizon, $20 a month with a 24 month lease with Sprint, and T-Mobile will be $28 a month for 24 month. Prices go up from the base price.

Don’t bother with Assassin’s Creed: Unity

A disappointing release that left players wanting more

Right off the bat, the sound of an ‘Assassin’s Creed’ game making the jump to next-gen sounds promising. When you hear the game is set during the French Revolution in Paris, it sounds even more solid. However, when the player picks up his/her copy and starts to play it, the game turns into a disappointing mess that, it leaves a sour taste in the mouths of those that reach the conclusion.

It is easy to talk about what ‘Unity’ gets right, but it is just as easy as to talk about what it gets wrong. The story centers on Arno Dorian. Arno is the son of an assassin who is suddenly murdered right at the start of the game. Arno is then adopted by a Templar and he falls for his adopted sister, Elise. After a certain amount of time has passed, Arno’s adopted father is murdered, and he is framed for the crime. After being recruited by the Assassin Brotherhood, he attempts to solve the mystery of his adopted father’s murder in order to redeem himself.

Anyone who has followed the ‘AC’ series can immediately identify the similarities in the story as it is very similar to ‘Assassin’s Creed II,’ only told in a more predictable fashion. The story is a massive bowl of potential that is wasted and poorly executed. There were very few characters that players can get attached to as certain characters pop up here and there and don’t have the chance to develop any sense of personality or really stick around long enough for players to even care.

The only interesting character in the game is Arno himself. Throughout the entire game, players get to know Arno and see him develop as a person. In all honesty, Arno is the first truly likeable assassin that matches the charm, wit, and emotional complexity of Exio from ‘AC II.’ One of the main selling points in the game is the romance between Arno and Elise; however, the on-and-off relationship is not as solid and convincing as it should be. The only times when the romance between the two seem realistic is when the player reads letters that she wrote to Arno. It is these letters that demonstrate the love that they feel for one another, but is never truly represented within the game except for a few key moments in the story.

However, there are certain elements in the game that work such as the way this game is able to switch between different genres such as drama, romance, and mystery. Most of these elements, especially the mystery aspect of the game, work well. There are also present day segments within the game that feel like they are added in just for the sake of an ‘AC’ game needing a present day storyline.

When talking about the graphics for the game, this is where ‘Unity’ shines. The French Revolution in Paris serves as a beautifully crafted backdrop for an ‘AC’ game as players can walk amongst the 10,000 NPCs (Non-Player Characters) and feel as if they are walking in a living city. The different areas of the city also stand out as there are certain areas where the streets are littered with filth and corpses, while in nicer areas of Paris, the streets are clean and there is brightness in the upper class part of the city.

There is also the addition of multiple interiors to buildings and no loading screen when entering any of these buildings. The interior of buildings are crafted with amazing detail that it is hard not to admire any of the work that was put into creating this world.

The music is another highlight as it reflects the classical sound of the era and at times, the music stands out amongst the gameplay. The sound design is also top notch and listening to the citizens of Paris crying out for revolution never gets old. The light design is another positive to the game as it helps sell a level of realism and allows deeper immersion into the world.

The gameplay this time around has received a makeover from previous installments. Most notably, the ability to control Arno’s descent from atop buildings is easier than it has ever been in the franchise as players can simply hold down two buttons and watch fluid motions of Arno moving downward in the player’s chosen direction. Combat has also received some remodeling as it is a little more difficult this time around.

Enemies flank Arno’s position, counter his attacks, think on their feet, and often match or are of higher skill than Arno. Combat is not suggested as players will have to think about how they choose to fight their enemies as there is a major focus on stealth. However, watching Arno deliver killing blows by piercing enemies’ throat or stomach with his blade is always fun to see.

There is a new stealth system in the game that allows players to sneak around, crouch, and take cover in order to be undetected. The emphasis is clearly a return to ‘AC’s’ roots and it works for most of the game.

During the game, the player can also come across rifts that transport players to different times in history that range from a late medieval war zone to a WW II setting and allows the players to wield a powerful MG take out incoming Nazi fighter planes. These sections of the game provide unexpected fun-that hopefully alludes to ideas of future installments-and are fun activities to do among the many other events that players can get involved in.

Players can find themselves quite busy in the recreation of the French Revolution as players can stop crimes, solve murder mysteries, find collectibles, unlock more areas of the environment by climbing to synchronization points, and renovate different cafes to earn money and receive new missions. Players can easily get distracted with all the numerous amounts of activities that are presented as well create clubs within the game and compete against other teams and earn points and prizes.

There is also customization available for players to stylize and upgrade Arno as they see fit. There are different outfits-some serve as nods to previous ‘AC’ games-clothing pieces that offer different bonuses such as increased health and stealth, different weapons that could be bought and upgraded, and skills that players can upgrade. There are skill trees for players to upgrade that include melee, stealth, range, and health. While some of these customization options do not always hit the mark, it is fun to create an assassin that suits how the player plays.

The game also features co-op replacing ‘AC’s’ standard multiplayer. The co-op missions are fun and interesting, but do not always hit their marks. There are some missions that require teamwork and there other assignments that see players simply trying to assassinate whoever the target is first without any sort of cooperation. Aside from assassinations, there are also heist missions that require more stealth tactics in order to receive larger scores than simply running and stabbing whoever gets in the way.

As good as ‘Unity’ gets, it ends up short handing itself too with all the glitches and bugs that players can expect to come across. Whether it is lame enemy A.I., texture pop-ins, straight up frame issues that drop from the game’s low 30 frames per second to making it seem like the game is running at five frames per second. There can even be instances when players will have to restart from their last checkpoints during story missions and even quit co-op games as the game can bug out at any moment, rendering the missions unplayable.

The amount of glitches in the game is ridiculous and begs the question as to whether anyone of the developers checked this game out before releasing it in time for the holidays. It is sad to mention to that ‘Assassin’s Creed: Rogue’ appears to be the more polished game of the two and ‘Rogue’ is only available for last-gen systems.

Issues from previous ‘AC’ games bleed into this installment as well. The camera is still troublesome as it often focuses too close on players are fighting enemies inside small buildings, and often works against the player outdoors during conflicts. A lot of deaths can be a result of the camera not focusing where the player wants it too. There is often a battle between the player, the enemy A.I., and the camera.

The controls may still feel “sticky” for players. The controls also feel frustrating as it may appear a struggle to get Arno into open windows as he simply just jumps over them and forces the player to spend unnecessary trying to get inside a building.

The game also features a micro transaction process where players can buy ‘Helix’ points which can be used to ‘hack’ items in the game in order to not spend any in-game money or points. The micro transactions can go as high as 100 dollars for some ‘helix’ points and present the idea of major “cash-cowing.”

Overall, this is an ‘Assassin’s Creed’ installment that should have been better. The story is sadly predictable, the romance is not convincing except for a few unexpected moments, the characters are not all that emotionally complex or intriguing as past ‘AC’ characters go, and there are simply too many bugs and glitches in this game.

An ‘AC’ fan may feel disappointed after they reach the conclusion to perhaps the shortest story mode in the whole franchise as it can be completed between 12-15 hours. This is not the worst ‘AC’ game to ever come out, nor is it the worst game to have ever been released, but this is clearly an example of a “triple A” game that did not meet expectations and failed to deliver. For all the fun that can be had in this game, there are also forces that hold that hold this game back from being a great cinematic experience. ‘Unity’ provides a good direction to be taken for the franchise to go, but it is not the next-gen experience that players are still waiting for.

Interstellar delivers Christopher Nolan experience

Nolan takes audiences to the final frontier in his latest sci-fi epic.


Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Photo

Matthew McConaughey delivered stunning and realistic acting.

From one of the greatest cinematic minds in Hollywood, director Christopher Nolan, who directed the “Dark Knight Trilogy” and “Inception”, has come out with his boldest picture yet, “Interstellar.”

“Interstellar” follows former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a widowed father of two children, who is recruited by NASA again to embark on missions into outer space to save what remains of the human population by finding planets outside of our solar system that can sustain human life.

The fact that this is an epic science-fiction film coming from Nolan should be the only thing necessary to entice anyone to go and see this film.The film is just as thought provoking as one would expect from Nolan and offers some of the best acting to hit theaters this year.

With that being said, it should be noted that everyone single actor in this movie, regardless of their screen time, simply kills it. McConaughey, fresh from his late ‘Oscar’ winning performance in “Dallas Buyers Club”, gives a great and emotional portrayal of Cooper who is not just trying to save the remaining families on Earth, but is trying to save his own family as well.

Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, and Jessica Chastain, among others, all give worthy performances, but perhaps the best acting does not come from Hathaway, Cain, or even McConaughey, but from Mackenzie Foy. Foy plays the young Murphy “Murph” Cooper. She absolutely knocks the role out of the park and alongside McConaughey sells the most realistic father-daughter relationship brought to the screen in years. There are also a few surprise actors that make their way into the picture that would simply be a crime for spoiling, but the surprise guests also make great performances.

The direction of this movie is great and the fact that Nolan went out of his way to create such authenticity to this film by consulting with real life theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who is also an executive producer for the film, adds a high level of realism to a film that would seem far-fetched else wise. The film also provides great special effects that seem realistic to the point where it is hard to tell what is fake and what is not.

The cinematography for the film is amazing and should be noted as award worthy. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema who did work on 2010s “The Fighter,” last year’s “Her,” and is currently working with director Sam Mendes on the next “James Bond” film. A lot of the film was shot in IMAX and Hoytema did impeccable work on filming practical landscape shots as well as interior shots.

The music by award winning composer Hans Zimmer is simply phenomenal and evokes such a great sense of awe and wonder that matches the scope of the film. It is hard not to mention how immersive the music is. Whether it comes in with the perilous action the characters have to face in the film or if it is for dramatic effect and in this case, the music succeeds in all areas and even makes the soundtrack worth checking out.

The writing for the film, which is credited primarily to Nolan’s brother Jonathan, was at the level to be expected. The script provides all the philosophical aspects that you would expect in a Nolan film, but also adds charm and real heavyweight emotion to the story which is portrayed excellently in the film.

The story, perhaps the biggest undertaking yet for Christopher Nolan, comes with many pleasantries and cinematic value, but it doesn’t have that sense of epic fun that matches the film’s scope. The story is not hard to follow, although bringing your brain to the movie is required, it is somewhat lackluster in its execution. Some moviegoers may complain about Nolan’s choice of heavy foreshadowing in the beginning of the film as unnecessary.

Some other issues with the film are lack of character development, and questionable motives and representation in the film. Cooper’s son Tom is sadly underutilized as a supporting character. All things considered, the film could have done without Tom and if it just focused on the relationship between Murphy and Cooper. Other characters in the film do not really connect and results in a lack of any emotional attachment with the viewer.

Certain motives are questionable as well, such as Tom’s, who is portrayed one way by Nolan and then develops a whole different type of motive that does not make sense later on.

Another aspect of the story that did not really work was the ending. No spoilers here, but it seemed like Nolan was not sure how to end the movie as it went through at least three different endings instead of concluding where it seemed like it would the first time and probably would have been a much a better movie for it.

The pace of the movie certainly is not an issue-despite its 169 minute running time. The only time audiences may feel like the film is dragging may be in the beginning as they wait for the space exploration to begin.

In the end, ‘Interstellar’ is a great movie. It may not end up winning Christopher Nolan that ‘Academy Award’ or ‘Oscar’ for best director which he should have gotten by now, but it does prove why Nolan is one of the best directors of our time. Even with some of its faults, which can be easily forgiven, the film manages to keep the audience entertained and offers some fun that may remind moviegoers of previous sci-fi classics like “Star Wars” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

A new number to call

There’s alway ghosts to bust, but now the Ghostbusters are all women

It has been  25 years since the last ‘Ghostbusters’ film, and tons of rumors have come and gone with ideas on a reboot or direct sequel to the commercially successful ‘Ghostbusters II.’ However, a plan has come to fruition with director Paul Feig, who directed the comedic 2011 film, ‘Bridesmaids’ and the 2013 action comedy, ‘The Heat.’

Feig is set to direct an all-female cast of ‘Ghostbusters’ as he tweeted, “It’s official. I’m making a new Ghostbusters & writing it with @katiedippold & yes, it will star hilarious women. That’s who I’m gonna call.”

Actor Bill Murray, who was one of the original ‘Ghostbusters,’ has been dealing with a lot of questions from the press while promoting his new film, ‘St. Vincent’ on how he feels about the idea of a female ‘Ghostbusters.’ Murray told Access Hollywood’s Scott Mantz, “It sounds great to me…it sounds as good an idea as any other. There are a lot of women that could scare off any kind of vapor.” When asked about who should don the proton packs, Murray gave some ideas of his own.

He suggested Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Emma Stone, and Linda Cardellini.

Stone was asked by ‘Vulture’ how she felt about Murray suggesting her as one of the leading ‘Ghostbusters,’ she said, “That’s very nice” and added, “I want to see Bill Murray in a female ‘Ghostbusters.’

Even Mindy Kaling, who joked about the idea back in 2011 and came up with a team of her own, has been asked if she would take the opportunity and she told ‘Vulture,’ “It’s such an amazing movie, that the whole area of speculating on it is…I think it’s out of my pay grade.” Other actresses, including Melissa McCarthy, are being looked into.

Golden Globe winning actress Gillian Anderson, most famous for her role on the highly popular 1993 supernatural television series ‘X-Files,’ is practically begging for the role after she learned of the opportunity during a ‘Reddit Ask Me Anything’ session. Anderson wrote “OH MY GOD, I just looked it up online” and added, “Paul Feig, cast me now! Start a Twitter petition! I’m free, I’m free, and I’m funny goddamnit!” A fellow ‘Reddit’ user even offered to start an online campaign for her to be cast. Anderson answered with, “MAKE IT HAPPEN!!”

With all the buzz about a new entry in the popular franchise, it will be interesting to see who will be open to a female driven ‘Ghostbusters’ in the modern age. Especially considering that many actresses are taking the helm of some of Hollywood’s major blockbusters, such as the ever popular ‘Hunger Games’ franchise.


The Walking Dead: An intense and violent return

TWD’s season 5 premiere has gory action, but an emotional conclusion


With 17.3 million viewers tuning in to catch the season five premiere of ‘The Walking Dead,’ there were some pretty high expectations in place. Especially considering where season four put everyone’s beloved roughneck survivors.

Fear not, for those expectations were met and then some. Season five was kicked off to a violent start with suspense and intensity that lasted throughout the entire episode. Everyone clearly has their part nailed down, especially Andrew Lincoln, who stars as the bad-ass and evolving leader, Rick Grimes.

Along with Norman Reedus, who plays one of the most popular televised modern-day rednecks, Daryl, with such ease, intensity, and suave, it’s hard not to cheer for every stabbed “walker” these two put down.

The episode quickly picked up where the season four finale left off, with Rick and company having reached Terminus and having been imprisoned, once they realized the horrors behind the “sanctuary.” Carol and Tyreese are also looking for Terminus, with Rick’s infant daughter, Judith, who is believed to be dead by Rick and his son Carl after the prison massacre.

Packed with gory action and gut wrenching emotion, this was a great way to start off the highly anticipated season. Ending with what may be the happiest ending to an episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ ever, and adding the return of a certain fan favorite, there is nothing in this premiere that disappoints.

With an episode that started off with a bang and ended with a powerfully emotional conclusion, the future looks bright for fans of ‘The Walking Dead,’ and maybe for the characters as well. Only time will tell as to who will live and who will join the undead. Luckily, fans have been guaranteed sixth season.

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Joseph Kelley, A&E Editor

My name is Joseph Kelley and I'm and Opinions Editor at the Pioneer News. I write opinions, editorials, and movie reviews for A&E.

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