Archive for the ‘ Reviews ’ Category

A Review of: Mockingjay Part 2

By Abbegail Harris

The long anticipated end of the Hunger Games series is here. The last movie, Mockingjay Part 1, had people on the edge of their seats and its cliffhanging conclusion left viewers hungry for more. On November 20th Mockingjay Part 2 was released and ravenous viewers have rushed to see it. I decided to go check it out, and see if it lived up to the hype.

The movie was one highly anticipated and rightly so. This movie was dramatic, humorous, action packed and quite emotional, bringing many a teary eye. Mockingjay Part 2 did not disappoint. Stunning performances by Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Katniss Everdeen, and Josh Hudson, who stars as Peeta Mellark, were both riveting and even heart-warming. These young actors have definitely brought these characters somewhere new and exciting. Donald Southerland returns as the villainous, albeit well mustached, President Snow. His portrayal of President Snow is one that sends shivers down your spine. He was a compelling and powerful actor, and his character is a beast in its own right. His manipulative and controlling character makes the climax of Mockingjay Part 2 a stunning one, and a must see. The powerful characters, excellent setwork and beautiful dystopian world make it a crowning jewel to the series. Mockingjay Part 2 is playing in theaters now, and its worth checking out.


Fallout 4: What Makes You S.P.E.C.I.A.L

A Review of Bethesda Studio’s Fallout 4

By Aiden Montgomery

It’s been almost two weeks since Fallout 4 released and yet I feel like I haven’t even made a small dent into the stunning post-apocalyptic, open world game. Fallout 4 is a massive RPG experience that can engulf you in its many quests, caves, and side missions. You could be just heading to a town and get caught up doing two or three quests on the way. The sheer amount of content packed into each inch of the game is insane. If you like following a straight storyline however you are in for a treat. Fallout 4’s story delivers both dramatically and humorously. One of my favorite dialogue options is “sarcastic” causing your character to come up with a random, yet wonderfully humorous phrase. Fallout 4 implements a new dialogue system, which is great except for some minor details. Everything the character says is prerecorded unlike in Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. The dialogue system moves smooth and fast so it never feels like you’re out of the story for a second. However, the choices in dialogue are abbreviated, and thus you can choose an option, and say something totally different.


Fallout 4 also adds a new workshop feature that allows players to build their own houses and settlements. This feature is amazing, adding depth to the already expansive game. Building a settlement is not only fun and filled with Easter eggs, but gives you an advantage in playing the game. When you build a settlement you can get settlers to come and work for your settlement, helping you produce goods. When you are producing goods however this can cause raiders to come in and attack your settlement. You can set up defenses to help protect yourself and your settlers. The mechanics are fairly simple, if not at times brutal, but the overall concept is well executed and enjoyable.


In addition to customizing your settlement you can also customize your armor and weapons. Mods (modifications) allow you to improve your weapons and make them better and more efficient. Almost everything you find can be used and scraped to make more weapon pieces and materials. The nuclear wasteland provides many opportunities for scavenging, but you begin to anticipate and hope for rare parts. Running around in a suit of technologically advanced power armor – the signature aspect of the Fallout series – you find yourself looking for the most mundane things and the most exotic. Screws are in high demand, but there seems to be no shortage of coffee mugs in a vastly irradiated visage of Boston. Power armor itself has had a reboot, it’s now built more around the scavenging and modding system, requiring you to find parts, fix it up, and improve it.


If you have ever played a Bethesda game than you know that there are a lot of glitches. Fallout 4 isn’t different. It’s kind of funny when you see your dog walking up to you with a book sticking out through their head. Though not many of the glitches are game breaking there is a lot of small glitches. I’m not saying the glitches are bad however. A lot of them actually are funny and make you laugh out loud. There are some duplication glitches, wherein your items will create identical copies of themselves in weird scenarios, but it’s a not unwelcome bug, and not one that will ruin your day.


In all, Fallout 4 is an amazing and expansive game. The many added features make for hours upon hours of fun gameplay. There are some minor problems, but nothing that makes the game unplayable or lackluster. I would rate Fallout 4 a solid 9.5/10. It’s an amazing game, hindered only by its glitches. Take note that Fallout 4 is an M rated game and for good reason, as it is quite brutal at times. All in all, I highly encourage you to go out and get yourself a copy of Fallout 4. Welcome Home!

Get your Hamlet Fix: A Review of the National Theatre Live Play

By Natalie Krafft

On Thursday, November 5, the National Theatre Live broadcasted its showing of Hamlet all across the world, entertaining thousands of Shakespeare lovers. Yavapai College offered a showing.

Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragic plays. It is centered around the title character Hamlet, whose father, the King of Denmark, has died by the start of the play. Hamlet’s mother marries his uncle in less than two months after the king’s death. Later on, a couple of guards come to Hamlet reporting a ghost that looks like it’s the dead king; when Hamlet goes to investigate, he finds out that it really is the spirit of his father and that the king had been murdered by Hamlet’s uncle. Hamlet sets off to avenge his father’s death while going slowly mad.

This Hamlet, directed by Lyndsey Turner, was given a new retro feel. At one point, young Hamlet wears a David Bowie t-shirt and another character uses a film camera. Benedict Cumberbatch, known for his roles as Sherlock in BBC’s Sherlock and as Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness, plays the main character, Hamlet. Cierán Hinds, who played Fin MvGovern in The Road to Perdition, plays the murderous uncle, King Claudius. Leo Bill plays Horatio, the character who ultimately kills Hamlet. Antastasia Hille portrays Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, and Sian Brooke takes the role of Ophelia. Many other brilliant actors and actresses help to make this 400 year old play come to life. Continue reading

The DUFF: A Review

By Miranda Todd


The DUFF, 2015’s newest teen comedy, doesn’t seem new at all. It is an amalgamation of a variety of big-name teen movies, a Frankenstein’s monster with parts from Easy A, She’s All That and even Mean Girls. The DUFF was adapted from a book written by a teenage girl (already prolific young author Kody Keplinger). It’s wholly unsurprising that some of the millennium’s main movies, targeted for someone her age, influenced her work. And it’s wholly impressive the way that Keplinger, being so young, handled this derivative premise: her efforts in reworking it to fit into our modern age are to be admired. While Easy A was not an old movie, it didn’t display as heavily the impact of social media on all our lives. That is definitely something this movie did right.


The DUFF incorporates social media almost immediately, adorning the main characters with hashtags befitting of their (somewhat archetypal) personalities. A best friend of the leading character, for example, is #TheNiceOne. Main character and high school senior Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) herself is given the hashtag that labels her The DUFF.     For those of you who don’t know, DUFF stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend.

For those of you who do know what Mae Whitman looks like, it isn’t necessarily literal, but can be a mentality. You know, that ‘approachable’ one in the group of friends. The one who is at least slightly less conventionally attractive, slightly less hot.


Two characters (excluding Bianca’s hot best friends) who are also shown in the beginning that you should really pay attention to are typical dumb jock Wesley (Robbie Amell) and typical mean girl ex-girlfriend Madison (Bella Thorne). Wesley is the one that explains the social hierarchy of the high school and, in turn, where Bianca falls. He gets a drink thrown in his face, but quickly tries to redeem himself by coaching Bianca in how to improve her looks and her perception. Bianca, in turn, tutors him in Chemistry.


Madison sees the two hanging out together, immediately assumes that they are now a ‘thing’, and makes every effort to bury Bianca in the ground.


Bianca helps speed up the process by ditching her two best friends (and only friends), the only ones who get the real Bianca and would defend her to the end. I mean, don’t be mistaken; the two aren’t really characters. It is no great loss. But we’re supposed to think it is. Bear with me.


From that point on, The DUFF takes flight but never soars. It hits predictable beats with humor and occasional wit, with archetypal characters that entertain but never exceed. The movie never moves out of its conventions. Every character, as enjoyable as they may be, is one you have seen before.


However, the plotline concerning Bianca’s article about Homecoming (something she was disinclined to attend) was a somewhat fresh way to wrap things up. I won’t spoil the whole ending for you, but many DUFFS throughout the school come to terms with who they are, embrace it, and love it.


All in all, the movie was a success. It may not have the spark that skyrocketed Mean Girls to the top of the teen movie list, but it does have spirit. It’s cute, it’s funny, and it serves its purpose: making angst-ridden teenagers everywhere realize that it isn’t bad to be different. In fact, it can be a positive thing. And in an increasingly media-saturated world, it is nice to have a piece of media that helps instead of hinders self-image. Although the movie contains some scenes that parents may not approve of, it is (with a bit of research) a movie worth watching with teens.

Sounds of Spring

By Juliette Puplava

It’s spring time, so it is time to try something new and restart, including your music playlist for spring. Here are some new music choices you might enjoy on that four hour plane ride or that eight hour drive with your younger sibling to Disneyland… I mean that lovely car ride with family bonding.

  1. Viktoria Modesta

Viktoria Modesta was born in Latvia and moved to the United Kingdom when she was just twelve. During her growing up years, she was in and out of hospitals due to a medical complication with her leg that she had since birth . At age twenty, she had a voluntary below- the-knee amputation. She was already a musician, holding the title of Best Unsigned Artist, and by 2009, she did a collaborative piece with Nick Hodges. On December 12, 2014, she did another collaboration with Channel 4 for the Born Risky Campaign. The song is called Prototype, and it concentrates on the aspect of how beauty is portrayed in this society and how she first Amputee Popstar.


  1.  Paul Van Haver – Stromae

If you are a fan of hip-hop or electronic music genres, you might like this Belgian Singer-Songwriter by the name of Stromae. He recently partnered with Lorde in the making of Mockingjay: Part 1. His music is very risky with topics of gender equality, growing up fatherless, and parents’ standards of growing up. Just a warning, but his music is in Belgian and French. However, he does offer subtitles on videos, and websites do have translations.


  1. Pentatonix

Grammy holding Acappella group Pentatonix is quickly gaining fame. They have five albums and countless singles. The group in made up of five members: Scott Hoying, MItch Grassi, Kirsti Maldonado, Avi Kaplan, Kevin Olusola. Their music can vary from covers to original ideas, and they are currently on tour.



  1. Superfruit

Superfruit is a sub-group from Pentatonix that occasionally does covers and mashups on their Youtube Channel. The two-boy group of Scott Hoying and Mitch Grassi adds a personal spin to their music.


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