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“Outbreak” Review

Photofest / Courtesy Photo
Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo in 1995’s ‘Outbreak’.

A look back at 1995’s “Outbreak”, amidst the COVID-19 quarantine.

During these quiet, yet rather suspenseful times, many people may be finding that they’re running out of things to do while sitting at home. While it is more than likely that most have had more than their fair share of TV and Netflix, one classic movie stands out in light of its relevancy to today’s events. 1995’s “Outbreak”, available to stream on Netflix, wonders, “What would happen if a deadly virus took the world by storm?” 

This virus in particular is named ‘Motaba’, where the recipients of which break out into nasty open sores. The makeup in the movie is quite realistic, as expected of a feature film; but nevertheless, if blood makes one squeamish, this may not be the film for them. 

As far as factual accuracy is concerned, Outbreak, being set mainly in the United States, uses correct medical and governmental terminology. The main protagonists associate with real organizations such as the World Health Organization and the CDC. 

The movie has a very well planned and moderate pace, rarely being too slow, yet not skimming over any important details or scenes for the sake of time. 

For those looking for comic relief in this rather dark story, there are several light jokes throughout between leading roles which helps viewers connect to the characters, making the movie all the better. Not to worry for those who find that humor ruins a good plot however, as there is still plenty of solemnness and blood to go around. 

This being said, the semi-intense graphics of the disease are not the only reason this movie is rated R. While there is no questionable or sexual content throughout the movie, the main characters swear frequently enough that one may want to reconsider before watching this movie with children. 

Overall, Outbreak is a well-orchestrated film that will capture the attention of a viewer throughout, with the perfect mix of both suspenseful and heartwarming moments. Especially considering the events that have been happening around the world recently, this movie is certainly worth a watch for anyone with a Netflix subscription.

Kickin it with Q – Bloodshot movie review

Quintin gives a review of Bloodshot.

Editor: Quintin Mattson-Hayward

Logo: Jesus Contreras

“Dark Phoenix” ends “X-Men” series on mediocre note

Twentieth Century Fox / Courtesy Photo
Sophie Turner — the immortal Sansa Stark from ‘Game of Thrones’ — showing enormous potential as Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix.’

“X-men” is no stranger to moviegoers and comic book fanatics. Ever since the first movie in 2000, the franchise has acquired a loyal fanbase and spawned some great films. The notable ones are “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Logan” and “Deadpool.” Along with that, it has also produced some stinkers. With this, the supposed last installment to the series with the old gang “Dark Phoenix” has a lot of weight on its shoulders as it concludes the story.

“Dark Phoenix” follows the story of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) a mutant whose power is becoming harder to control as she turns into the infamous “Dark Phoenix.” In order to save her and the world from such aggressive power, the “X-Men” now have to fight with one of their own, while tensions arise within the group.

After the Game of Thrones finale, Sophie Turner returns in “Dark Phoenix” with a good performance. Her American accent is believable, and she portrays the pain that the character experiences with skill and finesse. A dialogue of her with Magneto (Michael Fasbender) shows her range in acting with believable artistry and panache.

James McAvoy is amazing as ever as he again portrays Charles Xavior or Professor X. Though definitely not a villain, he is somewhat responsible for the current combative situation. The movie tells the viewers the reason why he did something in the past that might be responsible for Jean’s anger towards the group.

Twentieth Century Fox / Courtesy Photo
Jennifer Lawrence plays Raven/Mystique in the movie “Dark Phoenix.” 

The CGI (computer generated imagery) is decent but definitely could be better. In a shot that involves floating guns, viewers can tell that the weapons look a little “plasticky.” Also, the way the character Hank (Nicholas Hoult) transform into his Beast form has a cheap effect. However, the make-up artistry for him as well as the characters, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is done masterfully.

The movie is not as action heavy as fans might want it to be. There are some fight scenes but they are infrequent, leaving room for the story. Even still, the battles are not as hard-hitting as the other Marvel action scenes. The altercation on a train at the end is easily the best one in the movie, boasting some great choreography and illustrating how the powers come in handy for these mutants.

The group of aliens who are led by Smith (Jessica Chastain) feels almost unnecessary; they are not as intimidating as the villain Apocalypse in the last “X-Men” movie. Chastain is great, but the writing for her character is dull. When the movie cuts to the aliens, audiences may be bored and yearn to be back with the mutants.

“X-Men” is a series that involves a lot of time travel. Therefore, people might think that they need to “catch up” with the lore before watching the movie. With “Dark Phoenix,” it is not the case. The movie provides the audience with enough substantial information to familiarize new viewers to the “X-Men” universe.

While “Avengers: Endgame” ended a series with a bang, “Dark Phoenix” has trouble closing the chronicle. Long-time frequenters can pick out a handful of better films in the franchise. It is still an entertaining movie, but certainly does not conclude the X-Men series in the best way.

“Ma” is entertaining yet lacks substance

Anna Kooris / Universal Pictures
From Left: Maggie (Diana Silvers), Erica (Juliette Lewis, back to camera) and Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) in ‘Ma.’

Marge Simpson, Peggy Hill, Kitty Forman… are some of the most known on-screen mothers of our time. But, as amazing as being a mother is, filmmakers are always looking for ways to put a new spin on it. The new thriller “Ma” which recently arrived at theaters mixes the loving mother figure with a disturbing tale. Octavia Spencer (The Help, Hidden Figures,…) is an actress who is usually cast for roles with brighter and more innocent personalities. With “Ma,” Spencer sheds the usual wholesome personalities that she always plays and explores a darker side.

The film centers around a group of high school rebels. In an attempt to get alcohol, they meet Sue Ann (Spencer) a seemingly sweet woman, who after some hesitation, buys them liquor. She then invites them to a party at her house, and they gladly accept. In a short time, her basement becomes the best party place in town. However, as the group gets to know her, they start to uncover a more sinister side. Now, she thirsts for revenge to right the wrongs from her past.

Actress Octavia Spencer puts on a disturbing performance in “Ma.” People who are usually acquainted with her more “innocent” roles may be shock as she progressively becomes creepier in every scene. Every time she is on screen, audiences can sense that something is “off” with her. Her subtle facial expressions and ominous delivery adds to the foreboding ambiance of the film. The actress carries the entire movie with her disarming presence.

Anna Kooris / Universal Pictures
McKaley Miller as Haley (Left) and Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann (Right).

Though “Ma” is more of a thriller than a full fledged horror movie, it features gore that might make some moviegoers cringe. The whole film is creepy in nature, and the blood is the “cherry on top.” The filmmakers put in a handful of tension building moments, and the movie does not shy away from getting “suggestive.” One scene in particular has the potential to make people uncomfortable with what it shows. Though one could argue that it was done for “shock value,” it is still quite effective.

The dynamics between the teenagers are also well-established. Despite not being on par with the main star, the young actors put on a good show. They are believable as a group of high school students as they try to find fun in the more “naughty” activities such as drinking. What they do and what they say are realistic for the most part. This gives audience members a break from the more tense scenes.

With that being said, the group is quite generic in terms of character tropes. There is the “sexy blonde chick,” the “wide-eyed innocent” and everything else in the book. As good as these people are, it still feels wooden in the use of slang and sometimes sounds forced.

The movie explores the character of Sue Ann’s past with the use of flashbacks. This provides audiences with information about her early days. Even though her childhood is made clear by the end of the film, it is still vague on how she could have started her ominous revenge plan. Besides that, the ending is also bland and somewhat predictable.

Overall, “Ma” is certainly no bad movie, but it is not a “must-see.” The intrigue of Octavio Spencer as a psychopath may make viewers enjoy the film. However, they might look back and think that “Ma” is rather basic. With such a skillful actress, the movie should have been better and more satisfying.


“Rocketman” launches with energy

CreditDavid Appleby / Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Photo
Jamie Bell, left, and Taron Egerton as Taupin and John in “Rocketman.”

Biographical renditions (biopics) are ways for filmmakers to tell stories about significant figures throughout history with film. This year with “Bohemian Rhapsody” being awarded Best Actor with Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, it seems like musical biopics are becoming more mainstream. Studios appear like they are interested in films involving musicians. After exploring the story behind the group Queen, audiences now get to see the life of Elton John. The singer and composer is a household name that was responsible for some of the most popular tunes of all time. People around the world have fallen in love with his tracks such as “Tiny Dancer” or “Circle of Life” and the affinity for them has no end in sight. Therefore, it makes sense for a movie like “Rocketman” to be made.

“Rocketman” is the life story of Elton John (Taron Edgerton) from his early days of a musical prodigy to then selling out arenas. The film shines a light on the aspects of John’s career that fans did not get to see, including some of his highest and lowest points. In the process, it tells one of the most fascinating rise-to-fame stories of our time.

Taron Edgerton has tremendous pressure on him portraying the legendary musician, especially after Rami Malek’s incredible performance in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Despite all of that, he puts on possibly his best show of his burgeoning career. This casting choice might seem “out of nowhere” at first, but the movie shows that he is the perfect candidate for the role. His mannerisms, and the way he performs the songs, charmingly resembles John.

It is worth noting is that Edgerton does most of the singing in the movie, according to Bustle.com. His vocals are impressive, especially for people who are only familiar to him as Eggsy in the “Kingsman” series. The songs do not sound exactly like the Elton John versions, which helps the movie avoid sounding like a music video playlist.

Paramount Pictures / Entertainment Pictures / Alamy / Courtesy Photo
Taron Egerton as Elton John in a scene from from “Rocketman,” directed by Dexter Fletcher.

It is important to know that this movie closely resembles a musical in a lot of ways, which may annoy some people. “Rocketman” is dream-like, and this is established from the get-go. For example, time slows down or freezes, and Elton John is put in a trance. Characters often break out into songs and numbers. This makes the film surprisingly refreshing. It also dials up the energy level up a notch with montages of Elton John’s career, which are also done like a stage musical.

In the film, Elton John’s music is used as a way to show various points in his career. His fans can easily figure out which phase he was in just by the songs. The filmmakers also recreate some of his most iconic costumes. Whether it’s the sparkly baseball jersey or the colorful headdresses, the visual representations display the different landmarks of his life.

There is always a sense of liveliness in every scene, even in the more somber ones. Although the movie is 2 hours in length, the passion and fire of the film easily entrances the audience. Despite that, when “Rocketman” wants to make people feel empathy for the musician, it does the job really well.

As much as there are many great details about this movie, it suffers from some flaws. Though it is engaging, it has almost the same beats as “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Even a montage which involves newspaper headlines look extremely similar to the one in the Queen biopic.

“Rocketman” is a tribute to Elton John, and it is perfect for his fans to enjoy. However, it can also entertain people who are simply looking for a great movie. It is a story that sings and returns people to a timeless era of music.


“Brightburn” gruesomely twists comic book genre

Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon Breyer

People can argue that the movie industry is in the era of superheroes. Plenty of “origin” stories, reboots, spin-offs and sequels have brought what was once a niche market to a more mainstream audience. While these movies are fun, they can be formulaic. As a result, filmmakers have tried numerous approaches to make superheroes more interesting. They went from making it dark and gritty, like “The Dark Knight” to turning it into a comedy joyride, like “Deadpool” or “Thor: Ragnarok.” Now, it seems as if they have discovered a new way to play with this genre, and that is with horror, which comes in the form of “Brightburn.”

The movie is straightforward with its storyline. A couple (played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) encountered a boy (Jackson A. Dunn,) after his spacecraft crashed on their farm. Desperate for a child, they decide to name him Brandon Breyer and lovingly raise him as their own. However, it is a colossal mistake when the Brandon discovers his powers and decides to terrify the town.

The concept of the movie lies in a simple question: What if a Superman-like being has no moral compass? With that idea, it delivers a bloody and gruesome answer. On paper, it sounds like a superhero or supervillain origin story, but in the execution, it is a full fleshed horror-drama flick.

A lot of the film is devoted to the story of the family, who are being torn apart as Brandon grows hungry for blood. In order for this work, it requires amazing chemistry from the cast. Elizabeth Banks and David Denman are believable in the movie. The love that is on screen is heartwarming which results in quite an impact when the relationship crumbles as they figure out how to deal with their son. Jackson A. Dunn did a stunning job portraying the evil Brandon Breyer, to the point where people might even feel a hatred towards his character. Overall, the performances in the movie across the board are great.

Screen Gems
Elizabeth Banks as the loving and increasingly alarmed mother in “Brightburn.”

This is not the first time that filmmakers have tried to put a “thriller” spin on the superhero genre. Director M. Night Shyamalan blew audiences away with “Split” as his directorial comeback in 2016, which was a chilling story of a supervillain. A delayed project named “The New Mutants” also resembles the same tone as this movie, judging by the trailers.

“Brightburn” is different. The concept alone may interest many, while the movie has a lot of fun with the idea. It shows audiences what most superhero movies do not dare to show. It has blood, violence and is definitely not for the squeamish. Additionally, “Brightburn” is also surprisingly suspenseful, such as when the moments Brandon toys with his victims before the kills. They can make audiences hold their breath as they wait for him to strike.

Fans of comic book movies can recognize several nods to Superman in the movie. Brandon Breyer has quite a few of the same powers as the beloved American superhuman. The way he designed his symbol, flies, and even the location of Kansas are all tributes to the Man of Steel himself.

With all the positives, “Brightburn” comes with a few negatives. The story feels incredibly rushed, especially when Brandon finds out that he is special and goes from a sweetheart to a nightmare. However, the reason for his evilness is ambiguous, and the transition is extremely abrupt. The movie feels like it should be way longer than it actually is.

But with a fair amount of heroic superhuman stories, it does not hurt to have a few sinister ones. With “Brightburn,” audience can experience a combination of genres that has the potential to sprout a series of other copycat films in the future.

“Aladdin” (2019) falls short of greatness

Will Smith as the genie.

When it comes to movies, there are the staples, the movies that most people regard as great, memorable movies such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Mulan” or “The Little Mermaid.” These movies, while not technically the most perfect movies, have something else that keeps viewers coming back to them. Some would argue that Walt Disney’s 1992 “Aladdin” is one of those movies. In the past decade, old Disney movies getting a live-action remake is becoming more common. Even great ones like “The Jungle Book” are not unheard of… Now, the studio is back with its latest live-action remake for “Aladdin,” which has sparked many discussions ever since it was announced.

The animationation“Aladdin” is a popular one. This new rendition follows most of the beats of the original animated classic. It tells the story of a young thief named Aladdin (played by Mena Massou) who falls in love with Jasmine (Naomi Scott,) The Princess of Agrabah. In an attempt to get a better life, Aladdin discovers a magic lamp which contains a powerful genie (Will Smith). Aladdin now uses it pursue to Jasmine as well as keeps it from Jafar (Marwan Kenzari,) an evil sorcerer who wants to be the King of Agrabah.

In the original animation, the Genie is what makes movie. With the voice of Robin Williams, the Genie has become one of the most recognized Disney characters. Will Smith, as a result, has some big shoes to fill. However, with as much controversy as there was about this casting choice, he did a wonderful job. Smith is a charismatic actor, and though not as great as Robin Williams, he is easily the best part of the movie.

The CGI (Computer-generated imagery) for the Genie character can look “plasticky” at times, but overall was well-done. The character is brought to life in the same spirit as the Robin Williams version, illustrated by his movements, humor and the way he carries himself. While the “Genie form” is seen quite often in the movie, the character often adapts the “human form,” which is essentially Will Smith. Even then, he still brings a level of quips and comedy that makes the movie shine.

Daniel Smith/Walt Disney Pictures
Mena Massoud and Will Smith in Disney’s new live-action ‘Aladdin,’ directed by Guy Ritchie.

It is difficult to know what from the original should be included in the new rendition of the film. With the Genie character, there are jokes that the Robin Williams’ Genie says which are “redone” here. While they work, they are still repeated moment that were previously accomplished with more style. Still, quite a few details were brought back. For example, Aladdin sharing his food with the less fortunate is an iconic moment that is both in the original and the remake version.

The rest of the cast is over-the-top. With the Genie, the larger-than-life persona is required to show his personality. With other characters… not so much… The actors sometimes overact, making it feel more like a stage musical than a film. The stars of the movie are “all over the place.” The character of Jafar appears miscast, and Marwan Kenzari often overdoes the way he deliver lines. Mena Massou, although has his moments as Aladdin, can come off as one note. Naomi Scott, on the other hand, did a good job performing Princess Jasmine, but even she still cannot escape the occasional overacting.

“Aladdin” is a colorful, vibrant movie. The costumes, props and set are designed to be flashy as a palette for musical numbers and choreography. The city of Agrabah is impressive; however, it does not look authentic. Even in some scenes, a movie junkie can tell that a backdrop is not real. The parts where Jasmine is on her balcony best exemplifies the obvious “green screening.”

The musical numbers are great, and most of them are from the original movie. With other parts of the film as a “new coat of paint” outside of the 1992 version, the musical aspect needed the same treatment as well. The songs were given a facelift to give them a modern sound while retaining some of the key elements from the old film. However, people who loved the original might view this as unnecessary.

In the end, if a person is not a fan of the original “Aladdin” from 1992, this is not a movie that will convert them. People have an affinity for the old movie can have a fun time watching the realistic rendering of the animation, but at the end, it is still recycled material. However, the film is a good choice for families in the landscape of saturated remakes that does not look like it will go away anytime soon.

Dracula Reborn

This remake of a classic story is worth adding to your guilty pleasure list


via IMDB.com

Vlad Tepes must become a monster feared by his own kingdom in order to protect it.

“Dracula Untold”, a reimagining of the famous blood sucker by Bram Stoker, is a new film that mixes history, albeit some inaccurate history, with classic vampire mythology. The film creates an all new origin story for the character, as it portrays the story of Vlad the Impaler, who Dracula was based on after Stoker heard of the historical figure while creating the titular character.

The film follows Vlad “Dracula” Tepes, played by Luke Evans, as he attempts to protect his family and kingdom from a Turkish army led by his former childhood rival Sultan Mehmed (Dominic Cooper). The Sultan demands one thousand Transylvanian children to be offered so they can be turned into Turkish soldiers, including Vlad’s son. Knowing that he doesn’t have a force strong enough to fight back, he consults with the century’s old Master Vampire (Charles Dance) who offers him the powers to fight against the Turks. The only catch is that Vlad cannot drink human blood for three days, or else he will be a demon of the night for the rest of eternity.

After reading the plot, anybody can figure out what happens to Vlad in the end. That is the sad part because this movie is pretty good for what it was and after the release of I, Frankenstein, no one was really asking ‘Universal Studios,’ who released the original 1931 vampire classic, Dracula that starred renowned actor Bela Lugosi to release another monster movie. However, this film pleasantly surprises with some good acting-mainly from the lead, Luke Evans-and there is some good fun to be had here.

Luke Evans (Immortals, Fast & Furious 6, and The Hobbit) does a great job portraying Vlad as a man who was simply trying to protect his family and the people of his kingdom. After seeing him as Dracula, it is hard to imagine anyone else playing the role. Dominic Cooper, who plays the role of the antagonist, offers nothing really special and makes an uninteresting villain. Sarah Gadon, who plays Vlad’s wife Mirena, does an okay job but again, offers nothing really special. This movie solely relied on Evans to carry it through and despite some flaws, he does just that.

At first, there were some issues with some of the tones this movie was taking on. It started out as an interesting horror film that quickly turned into a dramatic romance, a war film, and then it nestled into a dark action horror flick. It was only when the film remembered that it was a dark fantasy horror action film that it regained its footing. The romantic drama sections of the film were mainly hit and miss with a few exceptions as the movie progressed, but these parts of the film slowed the pace down until the action picked up.

The cinematography is great as it shows a huge scope that may have been too big for this film to handle, but the eerie night shots and seeing Vlad scale a cliff with a flowing red cape, while it may be cheesy, it is interesting to see. The music composed by Ramin Djawadi, who has composed for films like Iron Man and Clash of the Titans, and was originally supposed to compose the music for Edge of Tomorrow. He brings his great talent to this film and composes music that is dark, intense, and immersive.

The action is great after Vlad gains his vampire powers, and dazzles in some great CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) moments whether he’s morphing into a swarm of bats while he runs off a cliff or commanding the flying creatures to create a huge hurricane like form and slam into the ground, knocking the Turkish army off their feet. However, the first huge action sequence which demonstrates Vlad’s superiority over his enemies-which he does by wiping out an entire army sent by the Sultan by himself-is over edited and contains too much “shaky cam.”

What was really disappointing about this film was how hard it tried to make Vlad look like a sympathetic hero that was struggling with his inner demons and trying to resist the dark temptations of his vampire powers. The film tried to pull a Maleficent on Vlad that could have happened without them trying so hard. The idea of Vlad trying to battle against the present evil of the Sultan as well as the enemy inside himself was a golden opportunity wasted, as Vlad was depicted as a very religious individual and to see him bear all these burdens would have been really interesting to see. The predictability of the plot drives a stake further into the movie’s heart as there appears to be no originality in a film about vampires.

        However, the film is surprisingly emotional with some expected clichés here and there, but for those whole are looking for a good vampire movie-after the Twilight franchise left its sparkling mark upon the genre-and some cool action will get what they came for. This is not a movie that should be skipped by any means.

About the Writer
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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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‘Days of Future Past’ wipes the slate clean


The X-Men series gets a new start while remembering the places it’s been

Sean Hobbs Staff Writer

courtesy photo


In the trailer for ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’, Professor X tells his younger self that in order to save the future, he has to hope again. Finally, for the first time since the original X-Men film, that’s exactly what audiences can do.

In 2000, the first X-Men film showed the cinema world that superhero films could not only succeed, but could be some of the highest grossing films in cinematic history.

Eleven years later, ‘X-Men: First Class’ reinvigorated the X-Men series after a number of shaky sequels. It was able to seamlessly mix action and emotion, in a way that few superhero films had done before. Simultaneously, it introduced a method to replace actors in future sequels that doesn’t come at the cost of viewer confusion.

Continuing the trend, ‘Days’ focuses first on characters and plot, and second on various and exciting mutant abilities, without getting too caught up in its own morality.

The film gets it’s confusing set up out of the way quickly: Giant robots called sentinels are killing or imprisoning all mutants; the last surviving few are going to use Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) mutant ability to send Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) consciousness back in time to prevent the sentinels from ever being launched.

To accomplish this, Wolverine must track down Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) in 1973 and stop her from killing the sentinel’s inventor, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) whose death proves to the world that mutants are dangerous.

In an intelligent move, the writer’s don’t reveal how this is supposed to work, or how the X-Men survived for this long. ‘Days’ establishes the plan and puts it into action right away. Unlike its predecessors, this movie forgoes needless exposition and simply entertains.

Wolverine wakes up in 1973 on a waterbed next to a lava lamp, driving home the fact that he’s in the 70s. His first action is to go to the now overgrown and dingy mansion shared by Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy).

After Wolverine sort-of convinces him to help, the team goes to the Pentagon to get Magneto (Michael Fassbender) out of prison, who has been implicated in killing JFK. The film ignores this clear alteration of history, which is likely for the best.

The prison breakout introduces the most interesting and worst-dressed mutant in the movie, Quicksilver (Evan Peters). Quicksilver can move at impossibly fast speeds, using his ability to steal and create impressive action scenes. He embodies childhood superhero fantasies, which makes his brief appearance one of the best moments in the film.

A tense plane ride later, the mutants catch up to Mystique and stop her from killing Trask. Inevitably, however, complications arise. The rest of the film is a race against time to stop Magneto and Mystique from killing Trask and the entire presidential cabinet. What follows is a series of scenes with novel mutant powers and heartfelt emotional pleas.

One of the most surprising aspects of the film is how little it relies on Wolverine’s star power, and how good it is because of it. Although Jackman is perfect for the role, Wolverine’s track record is spotty at best and ‘X-Men Origins’ at worst. ‘Days’ uses him wisely: a catalyst instead of a main character. The film relies much more on the rest of its star-studded cast.

All in all, ‘Days’ is a continuation of the quality that ‘First Class’ brought to the franchise. The film is less clichéd, less simplistic, and more colorful than previous entries, creating real anticipation for the newly announced ‘X-Men Apocalypse’.


Divergent Review


divergent courtesy photo

Kaitlyn Turner Staff Writer

“Divergent,” the first novel written by Veronica Roth, eclipses nearly all other teen fiction novels currently on the shelves.

Roth provides a fast-paced read revolving around a strong female character set in a dystopian society—much like the author of the critically acclaimed series “The Hunger Games.”

Beatrice Prior, the main character, lives in a futuristic Chicago. At the age of 16, the people of this future take an aptitude test and choose a faction to live in for the rest of their lives based on what trait suits them a best.

There are five factions, each of which occupy a different part of the city. These are: the Erudite, who value knowledge; the Amity, who value peacefulness; the Candor, who value honesty; the Abnegation, who value selflessness; and the Dauntless, who value bravery. The factions were created to ‘keep the peace,’ which is a key if not contradictory factor in the events to come.

When Beatrice, from Abnegation, was tested to find out what faction she’d be best in, it was discovered that she was an anomaly—instead of having an aptitude for one faction, she had tested suitable for three. This anomaly is what earns Beatrice the undesirable label of divergent. Her lack of a definitive answer allows her to switch factions to Dauntless, prompting her name change to “Tris”.

Due to her Divergence, Tris has to hide from the formerly unknown evils of her society. The city that Tris thought was peaceful and perfectly functioning is filled with corrupt leaders and “accidental” deaths of other Divergents, simply because they can’t be controlled with the serums the government uses against the population.

Tris could be able to end the brewing conflicts that threaten to destroy her old life and everyone in it.

The book is filled with insane action and heart-breaking accidents, all of which make it difficult to put down. Not one chapter lacks excitement.  I give it 5 stars.

Other books in the “Divergent” series, “Insurgent” and “Allegiant,” are just as great, if not better, than “Divergent.” Readers can see these reviews in the future at piercepioneernews.org.

Sherlock Holmes meets his match in ‘A Game of Shadows’

The dynamic case-solving duo of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson have returned to the silver screens across the world, in the second installment of director Guy Ritchie’s adaptations of the famous book series, dually titled Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Though the film was released with a myriad of other films on the weekend of December 16, it is still remains to be a successful film. All previous cast members have returned, and many brilliant actors have graced the film with their talents for new roles as well as Guy Ritchie and his faithful production team who brought us the first installment back in December of 2009.

Holmes seems to have met his match in this film through the maniacal and ingenious mind of Professor James Moriarty, who is portrayed with cunning wit and rigor by actor Jared Harris.

Fans of the series will recognize Moriarty as Holmes’ greatest villain in the entire series. Harris’ calm and diabolic performance is a brilliant match against actor Robert Downey Jr.s’ humorous and incredibly witty depiction of Holmes.

It is truly a treat to watch these two actors duke it out in the film, being armed with their undeniable talent and strong intelligence.

Jude Law reprises his role as Holmes’ rational and staunch sidekick, Doctor John Watson. The impending doom of Watson’s marriage to governess Mary Morstan, portrayed by actress Kelly Riley, has finally come about.

Holmes must come to terms with the loss of his case-solving partner, placing Watson and Holmes in various humorous and endearing scenes through out the movie; only highlighting the incredible chemistry that Law and Downey share on screen.

As fate would have it, however, this team cannot be separated yet as Moriarty’s scheming involves the doctor and his new wife, thrusting Watson back into his role with Holmes.

The film also includes the outstanding humor and talent of Stephen Fry, as Holmes’ elder brother Mycroft. Fry does not disappoint, providing excellent comic relief and a superb example of genius in the most eccentric way in the film.

Actress Noomi Rapace plays the quick, knife-wielding gypsy and freedom fighter, Madame Simza, who is aiding Holmes’ in attempting to find her brother, a main key used in Moriarty’s game.

Rapace’s soft-spoken dialogue aids her in adding depth to her character, along with her brilliantly choreographed fight scenes.

The mental gymnastics of Holmes’ analytical mind return in this film, along with some popcorn throwing action. Though the use of slow motion cameras is slightly over done in this film, it does prove to add more excitement in to the film.

Ringing true is a scene where Holmes’ and co. are forced to run for their lives through a German forest, while Moriarty has his men fire all their explosives at them. The use of the slow motion cameras in this scene provided a new perspective and leaves the viewer feeling in awe.

Composer Hanz Zimmer returned for the score and it is as quirky and unusual as the previous score, yet it fits perfectly with Holmes’ quirky and unusual mind and methods.

The film is a bit on the lengthy side, yet every scene and moment is key in getting to the incredible twist ending that will leave the viewer with an overwhelming amount of questions that are sure to be answered in a third installment.

The cinematography and detail put in to the film is well done and each performance given by the actors and actresses is captivating. Ritchie has done it again, giving us a bundle of laughs and an incredible dose of suspense and action in this film.









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