Category: Arts & Entertainment

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series – Are They Remaking HSM?

By: Sydney Phillips

Co-A&E Editor

When Disney unveiled that they were creating a streaming service, people had mixed opinions. Some believed that it was just a cynical attempt by  Disney to make more money, since they already own a lot in the entertainment industry. Others, like myself, however, were excited to see what new Originals Disney+ was claiming to make. One of these originals was long debated even before its release, and that was High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

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Photo Courtesy of D23

Many people expressed their frustration with Disney trying to make money off of an older franchise, and others constantly said that it would “never be as good as the original.” Once watching the show, I realized that was not the point of making this show; they aren’t trying to “remake” High School Musical, this is its own thing. Junior Skylar Shaffer agrees with this, saying, “I don’t really see it as an addition [to the franchise]. It has nothing to do with the characters Troy and Gabriella themselves.” This is where the story begins.

This series follows high schoolers who attend East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is the school where they filmed High School Musical. In the first episode, the theatre teacher, Miss Jenn, announces that the school will be putting on a production of High School Musical. This allows us to be introduced to our main characters, Ricky, played by Joshua Bassett, and Nini, played by Olivia Rodrigo. Other important characters that we follow throughout the show include Gina, EJ, Carlos, Big Red, Ashlyn, and Kourtney. 

In the beginning, we find out that Ricky and Nini used to date, however they broke it off over the summer. During summer, Nini went to theatre camp and met EJ, and eventually, they began dating. Now, the characters are back at school, where Ricky sees EJ and Nini together, and gets jealous. Now, Ricky was never a theatre kid, however seeing them together made him want to impress Nini so he could get her back. And what better way to do this than to audition for the school’s production of High School Musical. 

The first episode mainly introduces the characters to the viewers, and shows us the most important part: auditions for the musical. It is obvious that Ricky was trying out for Troy to win Nini back, however EJ was also trying out for Troy. Nini chose to tryout for Gabriella because her experience at the theatre camp somewhat helped her confidence, but Gina, the new multi-talented student, was also auditioning for Gabriella. Once auditions are over, the cast list was immediately posted, and Ricky and Nini were cast as Troy and Gabriella, while EJ and Gina were casted as Troy and Gabriella’s understudies. 

The entire first season follows their process leading up to the performances. In this show, we see all of the obstacles that the characters have to face, some of which teenagers can relate to. “I like how they include real world problems that high school students go through daily,” said senior Sharnay Omesh. 

Once viewing the show, anyone can see that they are not trying to remake High School Musical. This is in no way connected to the High School Musical plot, and although there have been several guest stars from the actual movies, I can safely say that this show is its own thing. There are original songs, one of which is called ‘All I want’ written and sung by Olivia Rodrigo, and this debuted on the Billboard Hot 100s charts in both the USA and Canada. 

Overall, this is a wonderful show that many students, especially those in the performing arts, can relate to or take from in a positive way. I recommend watching this show, and giving it a chance, instead of saying no because of the title. 

These Shining Lives: A Glowing Tribute

By: Chinaza Ezeh

Co-online Editor

Radium: an intensely radioactive metallic chemical element that occurs in combination in minute quantities in minerals (such as pitchblende or carnotite), emits alpha particles and gamma rays to form radon, and is used chiefly in the treatment of cancer and in radiographic devices.

Radium: used in the 1920s and 1930s by the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, Illinois to paint watch faces.

Radium: consumed through the mouth using the “lip, dip, paint” method by the Radium Girls, workers at the Radium Dial Company. Main focus: Catherine, Charlotte, Frances and Pearl.

Radium: made them shine.

Radium: tore them apart.

Hammond High School put on an incredibly thought provoking and heart wrenching production of These Shining Lives on November 9, 2019. The show is an incredible examination of the corruption and evil capable of manifesting in big business. In addition to that, the show is a testament to the resilience of human will, and more specifically, female will, at a time when it seemed the entire world stood against them.

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Photo Credit: Hammond Theatre

One performance that deserves recognition is that of Ali Khalid, playing the role of Tom Donahue, Catherine’s husband. It was very easy to forget that the person on-stage was a sixteen year old boy, and not a married man with two kids and a full-time job in construction. Khalid did a wonderful job of catching the humanness of Tom. The character was absolutely multi-faceted, just as people generally are. Perhaps this is a nod to the scriptwriting, but even if Tom was written this way, he could’ve easily been played in more of a one-toned manner. Instead, Khalid captured Tom’s childlike humor, honest man’s grit, flawed ill-temper, and incredible tenderness, especially when Catherine needed it the most. One of the most touching moments in the show is when Tom reassures Catherine as she lay awake, terrified: “No one on earth can hold a candle to you; no one in heaven will come close.”

A supporting character that also deserves recognition is that of Frances, played by Katie Marshall. Frances is the most conservative one among her friends, and quite lovable all the same. Marshall captures her innocence in a way that makes the audience smile, while also warming their hearts. Of course, having such a pure character makes it all the more difficult to watch them slowly fall apart. Great credit goes to Marshall for being able to make a character so endearing, it just hurts. The moment Frances learns of her diagnosis, the complete sadness that overtakes her face is overwhelmingly real, and it’s as if the only people in the room is Frances.

The element that anchored this show was the acting. It is so easy to take a serious play and do it absolutely wrong, especially in a high school setting. Yet, each actor took their role one hundred percent seriously, and it showed. It means a lot when certain lines are remembered in shows. In this one, the three that resonate the most are: “No one on earth can hold a candle to you; no one in heaven will come close”; “Every day I wonder, if today is the day I kill Rufus Reed”; and “I’d better get the damn cherry.” Each line conveys a different emotion: comfort and pain; anger; attitude (respectively). Yet, each was remembered (for me) despite their differences.

The two most notable technical elements were the lighting and the radium. The lighting was very important for determining location, as each setting was always on-stage. Yet, the move from location to location was always seamless, and it never felt like a character was simply travelling from one side of the stage to another. Lighting was also used to show the radium at two points during the show. One was in the middle, when Catherine first discovers that her hands are permanently glowing. All the lights on the stage are turned off, so the glow emitting from Catherine’s hands is stark against the black background. The other moment is at the end of the show, when all of the radium dial workers, now deceased, step forward and show their hands, a way of symbolising that even in death, even below the ground, they remain shining.

These Shining Lives is an incredible story that simultaneously wrenches your heart, makes you laugh, and educates you about American history that is often not taught in schools. Hopefully, all of the brave radium women that now rest in their graves would be honored by such a production created in their memory and honor.

Journey Through Netflix: Comments & Opinions on Legacies Season One

Far Cuai

Staff Writer

Legacies

Photo Credit: gstatic.com

Legacies is a CW television show that is part of The Vampire Diaries universe. TVD had a spinoff of its season two and three villains, The Originals, who are a family of the first ever vampires. After five years on air, The Originals followed TVDs footsteps and had a spinoff of its own: Legacies

The show revolves around the main character Hope Mikealson, who is a tribrid– a combination of werewolves, vampires, and witches– and the daughter of Niklause Mikelason and Hayley Marshall from The Originals.

Hope goes to The Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted, which is really a school for the supernatural, during the years 2029-2030. The season starts off with two foster brothers who are taken into the school. Rafael Waithe is a werewolf, while Landon Kirby is human. 

Since the opening scene,  Hope and Landon had some kind of connection, while Rafael is seen to be in the beginning of a love triangle with the Headmaster’s fraternal twin witches, Lizzie and Josie Saltzman. 

After Landon leaves the school, he takes a magical knife from the school with him, awakening and causing monsters to come after it. We eventually find out the monsters are planning to take the knife to a pit that swallows people and erases them from the conscious mind. The pit, Malivore, is a monster itself, but can’t awaken unless it has three magical artifacts. 

 

Best Of: 

The idea of a new villain every episode gives off a lot of Supernatural vibes, but also works for the plot of the show. The monsters are sent by Malivore himself and come to retrive the artifacts so that they can finally have peace. The idea of Malivoire is also very clever because throughout supernatural history there are many stories and interpretations of different mythical creatures and this gives a good explanation for why only vampires, witches, and werewolves survived. 

The diversity of the cast is definitely something to be loved about the show. The other two shows from the universe are all known to have an all-white cast and one black person. But with Legacies a majority of the men in the show are of different races. The girls, however, are majority white, but really only because they’re the daughters of past The Originals or The Vampire Diaries characters.

The characters, while seeming very one dimension at first, are all very complex and have some issues that regular teens go through. Lizzie has bipolar disorder, Rafael and Landon both have some history with physical abuse they’ve went through from their time in foster care, Hope has PTSD from almost all her family members who died within a month of each other, and MG is neglected by his family. We kind of see how the TV show handles these touchy subjects pretty well and have their fair share of heartfelt moments. 

 

Worst Of:

The acting for a few characters is about Disney Channel level, and is pretty corny in the first few episodes. They get better throughout the season along with you just getting used to the way they talk, but it becomes bearable and eventually not as noticeable. 

It’s also more of a teen drama and seems a but more childish compared to TVD or The Originals. TVD and TO where a lot more bloody and care less about human life while Legacies is all about saving humans and keeping everyone safe. However, it makes sense why it would be more light hearted because of the Headmaster, Alric Saltzman, wanting the students to be a better version of their species and how they could get expelled for killing people. 

 

Rating:

I would give the series a 8/10, it has good humor and while the actress that plays Lizzie Saltzmine isn’t the best at acting, her lines and nicknames for characters are pretty funny. They portray mental disorders as accurate as they can get and show their characters going on the road to being mentally stable and healthy. They also show different sexualities and normalize people being attracted to different genders which is definitely needed in 2019.

Episode 0847: Sesame Street’s Most Controversial Episode

By Chris Parris

Staff Writer

Episode 0847

Photo Credit: Lost Media Archive

Sesame Street turned 50 years old on November 10th. The show that has impressively managed to stay relevant for half a century has a diverse history of shorts, skits, and segments. With so much having been made for the show, some of its content has slipped through the cracks of time and have not been seen for decades. One episode of Sesame Street, Episode 0847, has remained unseen because it is banned.

On February 10, 1976, Sesame Street aired Episode 0847 for its first and only time. The episode features Margaret Hamilton reprising her role as the Wicked Witch of the West. The plot has the Wicked Witch losing her broomstick while flying over Sesame Street and having to interact with the residents in order to get it back. The residents are concerned about the Wicked Witch’s  intentions and are hesitant to give the broomstick back to her. This results in the Wicked Witch causing trouble, such as making it rain inside Mr. Hooper’s store and threatening to turn Big Bird into a feather duster. Eventually, she uses a disguise as a trick to get her broomstick back and then leaves Sesame Street.  

On paper, the plot seems okay. However, that was not the case. Apparently, the episode traumatized children to the point where some of them did not want to watch Sesame Street ever again. Archives from the Sesame Workshop (formerly the Children’s Television Workshop) holds multiple letters that angry parents mailed them regarding the episode. Phrases such as “screams and tears” and “the threat of the witch’s power remains in the children’s eyes” were used.

Shortly after Episode 0847’s initial airing, test screenings were held. The tests showed that children were intrigued by the Wicked Witch and were fascinated by her green face. The issue of fear was difficult to judge, however, due to the fact that the children had their parents or guardians present when viewing the episode. But based off the initial backlash, Episode 0847 was declared unsuitable and has not been aired since. 

For years it was unknown if any copies of Episode 0847 existed. Some thought it got destroyed while others thought it was lost. In 2017, Craig Shemin, president of the Jim Henson Legacy, confirmed that the Sesame Workshop has a copy of Episode 0847 in their archives. And in 2019, a screenshot from the episode that featured Oscar and the Wicked Witch was posted on the Muppet Wiki.

Call of Duty: Mobile Game Review

Chris Parris 

Staff Writer

On October 1, 2019, Mario Kart Tour lost its #1 spot on the Top Chart for action games on the App Store. Stealing their spot was Call of Duty: Mobile, a game designed exclusively for mobile devices. This is the first time the Call of Duty franchise has released a free multiplayer game for mobile devices. 

According to data from Sensor Tower, Call of Duty: Mobile is the #1 free app in 33 countries, three million people have installed the game, and it ranks #59 in revenue for the United States. It should also be noted that Call of Duty: Mobile recieved 52,000+ reviews on the App Store within its first 24 hours and has a solid 4.7 stars on Google Play.

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Photo Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Mobile is not a pay-to-win game. Whenever you advance a level, weapons, XP upgrade passes, perks, weapon skills, and scorestreaks are unlocked. By Level 20, a player will have seven primary weapons. These weapons include assault rifles, sniper rifles, submachine guns, and light machine guns. Weapon attatchments such as scopes, grips, supressors, extended magazines, and laser sights gradually become available, too.

There are five different multiplayer game modes that players can choose from. In Frontline, players find themsleves on two teams. They spawn at their bases and the first team to reach 40 kills wins. In Team Deathmatch, two teams fight each other and the first team to reach 40 kills wins. In Domination, two teams fight to capture and hold objectives. In Search & Destroy, a team works together to destroy a single objective or stop their opponents from doing the same. One thing that distingushes Search & Destroy from the other multiplayer game modes is that there are no respawns. And, lastly, in Practice vs. Al, players can hone their skills against Al bots. XP is earned at a 90% reduction, however.

There are two control modes for Call of Duty: Mobile. The Simple Mode is auto-fire. Instead of having a firing button, a player’s weapon goes off when it is pointed at a target. The advantage to this mode is the ability to move and look around at a much faster pace without having to worry about tapping the screen to get a weapon firing. The disadvantage to this mode is the decrease in accurary.  The Advanced Mode has an actual fire button. This offers a lot more control over the weapon when a player is firing it.

Overall, Call of Duty: Mobile is a multiplayer masterpiece and a milestone for the Call of Duty franchise.

Is Disney Making Too Many Remakes?

By: Chris Parris

Staff Writer

The year 2019 has been a major year for the Walt Disney Company. Among their releases are Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Also among Disney’s releases for this year are four remakes of their classic animated movies: Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Lady and the Tramp. Aladdin and The Lion King, in particular, have grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. As of July 2019, Disney has released ten live-action remakes of their classic animated movies, with twelve more slated to be released in the 2020’s. Disney has been making billions of dollars. However, is Disney making too many remakes?

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Image Source: E! News

In March of 2010, Disney released a live-action remake of Alice in Wonderland. Made on a budget of $200 million, the movie grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. Nine years later, we find ourselves surrounded by remakes that Disney has made and released, with many more to come in the next decade. Remaking their classic animated movies is a financial move due to the fact that it is less risky since audiences are familiar with the storylines and characters. Disney knows which movies were successful in the past and that they would be successful again as a remake. They also have a loyal, sentimental fan base of adults, parents, and teenagers who remember the classics fondly. There are also children who are ready to experience these stories for the first time in their lives.

The individual who has been leading the crusade to remake Disney’s classic animated movies is Sean Bailey, the president of the company’s motion picture productions. Bailey was appointed to the position in 2010 by Disney CEO Bob Iger. Also leading the crusade is Alan Horn, Disney’s chief creative officer and co-chairman. Bailey and Horn dig through Diseny’s animated archives for stories that are nostalgic and can resonate with modern-day audiences. In 2017, Bailey mentioned in an interview with Deadline that Disney is trying to mimic the success of Marvel. “Marvel has Iron Man, Captain America and Thor; we have Cinderella, Snow White and Belle. Pairing those characters with great live-action talent and technology, something that Walt [Disney] always aspired to do, just seemed a smart way to go.”  

Something else that is worth a mention is how Sean and Disney’s creative team look at the concept art and deleted scenes from the classic animated movies. They look for anything that could be added to the original story; in order to get new ideas. Another thing that Sean mentioned in his interview was asking questions about the original stories. For example: “What was Maleficent evil?”. Disney used that question alone to make a movie where Maleficent is the protagonist. 

One of the things that Disney takes advantage of with their remakes is nostalgia. They are very well aware that the children who grew up with these classics are adults now; adults with money.  Now that is not to say that Disney is not trying to aim for families. Families are their main demographic as a matter of fact. But if Disney could make and release remakes that appeal to the nostalgia of these now grown-up children, they could make some serious money.          

Now, is it a good thing or a bad thing that Disney is releasing so many remakes? From a financial standpoint, it is a good thing. Making live-action remakes is less of a risk even though they typically have a lower critical rating than the classics. But in regards to lacking original ideas, it is a bad thing. However, statistically, Disney films that are based on original ideas tend to bomb at the box office. Mars Needs Moms, Tomorrowland, A Wrinkle in Time, The Lone Ranger, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and John Carter either underperformed or made losses at the box office.  

In the next decade, several of Disney’s classic animated movies will get the live-action remake treatment. Remakes of Mulan, The Little Mermaid, The Sword in the Stone, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lilo & Stitch, Pinnochio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Robin Hood, and Peter Pan are either in post-production, pre-production, or in development. Disney will continue to be the king at the box office as long as they release live-action remakes.

 

                                                                                                                                                    

Swinging into Tragedy? Reports and Reaction to Spider-Man’s Sticky Departure from the MCU

By: Sydney Phillips and Marissa Yelenik

Staff Writers

This year, there have been many surprises involving Marvel. With the announcement of Phase 4, many questions regarding Spider-Man and his future involvement in Marvel movies have surfaced. On August 20th, 2019, Sony announced that the character Spider-Man would be leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), causing an Internet uproar. 

In 1999, Marvel licensed the rights of Spider-Man to Sony Pictures Entertainment. Under Sony, three Spider-Man movies were made with actor Tobey McGuire, and two were made with actor Andrew Garfield. On May 6th, 2016, the Marvel movie Civil War was released, introducing Tom Holland to the world, playing the role of Spider-Man. This was Holland’s introduction to the MCU and its storyline. 

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Photo Credit Courtesy of The Wrap

The MCU is a deeply intertwined narrative. Its storylines all fit together in such a way that fans are able to watch and speculate for years, well into adulthood. People become extremely attached to each character, and become intensely argumentative when anything is said against their favorites. Ever since the news of Spider-Man leaving the MCU was released, this became especially apparent. Tons of people were shocked to find out that their favorite character would be leaving the MCU storyline, especially junior Kendal George who shared “I’m very sad. When I first figured out about it I was like, really shocked, because I just started following the MCU, and he started becoming my favorite character.” 

There have been many rumors regarding the deal between Marvel and Sony. In the beginning, it was reported that Disney asked for a 50/50 split in profits from Spider-Man. There were different responses to this news; some people believed that Disney was being unfair and that this new development was unnecessary, especially with all of the different networks that they own, and the fact that they receive the merchandise profits from the character. Others felt like Sony was not being fair with the negotiations, and thought that it was ridiculous for them to pull Spider-Man out of the MCU, like junior Katie Mason who said that “no matter what, Sony is going to keep making the same amount of money, and they would make more money together if Spider-Man is still in the MCU.”

Recently, however, it was announced that Disney did not ask for 50/50 in the negotiations, they had asked for 25/75, which is what freshman Ethan Feldsher suggested. “I think it would be worth it for Marvel to negotiate a 25/75 split, or something like that.” There is supposedly a new deal that is being discussed where Marvel will get 30 percent from movies, and Venom will also be introduced into the MCU, but as of right now, it is only a rumor.  

Many people are upset with the news of Spider-Man’s departure from the MCU mainly because of how it might affect his story. Before the announcement of Spider-Man’s departure, it was rumored that Marvel had plans to make him the face of the MCU, after the introduction of the Multiverse, and what its role would be playing in the upcoming movies. Fans feel that Sony will not do Spider-Man justice, especially since The Amazing Spider-Man movies with Andrew Garfield did not do too well in the box office, the first one earning $757 million, compared to Spider-Man: Homecoming’s $880.2 million. With the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home this summer, many things have been revealed for Holland’s character that may be difficult for Sony to reciprocate and continue the story. Junior Kendal George agreed that “it kind of messes up the timeline, especially with the last movie.” 

In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker struggles with how his life changed after the ‘blip’. From dealing with the loss of his father figure Tony Stark, to navigating his high school and superhero life, everyone was wondering who the next Iron Man would be. Conflict arises when Mysterio, who was someone Peter thought he could trust, is actually against him, and at the end, Peter’s identity is revealed as Spider-Man. This was a big revelation that shocked many fans, and now they are wondering if that story will continue with Sony’s Spider-Man movies. 

As of September 18th, 2019, the Spider-Man deal is reportedly on hold after a lot of back and forth, due to the rumor that the companies Apple and Amazon are interested in buying out Sony. The reason why the companies are interested in purchasing Sony is because of the streaming sites that they have been/are working on, and they do not have their own distribution model or theatrical production. It has been mentioned that if a company buys out Sony, then the rights to Spider-Man will go back to Marvel. For now, fans are awaiting an update on the deal, but all they are doing now is hoping that he will be placed back in the MCU.