Category: Arts & Entertainment

The Shawshank Redemption: From the Bleakest Circumstances, Beauty is Born

By Chinaza Ezeh

Co-Online Editor

“Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” And that is exactly what The Shawshank Redemption is all about. An adaptation of Stephen King’s classic 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, the 1994 prison drama written and directed by Frank Darabont stars Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, William Sadler and James Whitmore, to name a few.

RedAndyCheckers HollywoodReporterL to R: Andy and Red, played by Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, respectively. Source: Hollywood Reporter

In the year 1947, banker Andy Dufresne (Robbins) is found guilty (although he denies it) of the murders of his wife and her lover, and is henceforth sentenced to two life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary. Upon arrival, he meets fellow inmate Red (Freeman) who is serving a life sentence of his own. The two take a liking to each other, and Andy is soon assimilated into Red’s friend group. Over the next nineteen years, Andy faces a multitude of trials and tribulations within those walls, including rape, corruption, and exploitation. The corruption and exploitation starts right at the top, from prison warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton), a man who swears by the Bible, yet ironically has no issue in the guards, particularly Captain Hadley (Clancy Brown), employing exceedingly brutal and violent force among the prisoners, nor in using Andy’s banking experience as a way to launder money and handle financials for the prison staff, guards from other prisons, and himself. Despite the bleakness of prison life, Andy is able to find joys in his new normal, particularly when he gains the privilege of working in the prison library, and takes it upon himself to completely revamp it and bring it to life. But perhaps more importantly than that, he makes true connections with Red and his friends, and from each other they experience the meaning of true friendship.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review

By Sarah Meklir 

Co-In-Depth Editor

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, released December 20, 2019, marked the end of a Star Wars saga spanning roughly 40 years. To celebrate May 4 and Star Wars Day, the film was released early on Disney+. With that addition, the entire saga is now available on Disney’s streaming platform, giving viewers their first opportunity to experience all of these adventures in one place. With turbulence and uncertainty ruling the airwaves around the world today, Star Wars offers a welcome escape to a universe full of nostalgia and heroes for all generations to enjoy. The Rise of Skywalker follows Finn and Poe in their quest to lead the Resistance under General Organa, as Rey trains and prepares for her final faceoff with Kylo Ren. In the midst of this chaos, a familiar adversary reemerges. J.J. Abrams returned as director, which granted a certain closure to the trilogy, as he also directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. 

As the culmination of the series, the most recent movie had a lot to live up to, and fans had strong opinions about contingencies in plotlines and tying up loose ends. Hammond students and teachers alike had bittersweet feelings about the ending to the Star Wars saga. WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!

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Onward: A Must-Watch for Those with Disney+

By Isabel Berry

Co-A&E Editor

SPOILERS AHEAD

            Pixar’s most recent flick, Onward, starring Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer will make you laugh and cry at the same time. 

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Photo Courtesy of Disney Movies

            Onward was dropped on to Disney+ after theaters were shut down due to COVID-19. This was controversial because this would mean that Disney was going to make much less money than they anticipated from this movie. 

When questioned on how he felt about movies being dropped directly onto Disney+, Freshman Gabe Porter stated, “People who have streaming services have a wide variety of movies and tv shows. While streaming services have been proven to be a success, I like how theaters were able to give everyone the chance to experience movie magic.”

The story follows two teenage brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, as they go on a quest to get one day with their late father. Now, this may seem like just another Disney movie where the characters go on a daring adventure, but I promise that it is so much more than that. Onward is similar to Zootopia in the respect that it showcases fantasy creatures that live in modern times. But unlike Zootopia, the characters in Onward struggle with the pull towards technology over magic. Ian, Barley, and their mom, Laurel, are elves, but this movie also has sprites, trolls, centaurs, a manticore, and unicorns (which turn out to be the fantasy creature equivalent to a raccoon). 

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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. 

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.