Category: Entertainment

Strange case of child abuse leads to murder in ‘The Act’

When a mother’s love becames toxic and suffocating, a daughter makes a desperate decision to commit an “act of kindness” to escape.

“The Act” is the Hulu adaptation of the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard. The series, directed by Nick Antosca and Michelle Dean, is divided in eight intense episodes that are slowly  being released on the platform every Wednesday. It shows how the murder takes place and the  motivation of the two killers.

rs_1024x759-190212145004-1024.the-act-gypsy-rose-blanchard.ct.021219-2The series is based on life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, played by Joey King, a young girl who supposedly suffers from every possible disorder, such as leukemia, asthma, muscular dystrophy, and several other chronic conditions. It is said that she had the mental capacity of a 7-year-old due to brain damage. Dee Dee Blanchard, played by Patricia Arquette, is the devoted mother who is obsessed with her daughter’s life and chronic conditions.

There are many flashbacks between seven years before the incident and during the investigations on June 14, 2015, when Dee Dee is found dead and her sickly daughter Gypsy is nowhere be found.

From an outside view, the life of Gypsy and Dee Dee was inspirational and hopeful to so many families. They even received a new house as a charitable act in the small town of Greene County in Missouri. But nobody would expect, that in reality, their lives was a gigantic Pandora’s box of secrets.

The first episode begins with Lacey, played by AnnaSophia Robb, and her mom Mel, 03-the-act.w1200.h1200played by Chloë Sevigny, calling 911 to report that something is wrong with her neighbor after she sees a very strange post on Facebook.

Following through the timeline of after the Blanchards move to the new house, the series starts showing how Dee Dee and Gypsy live with doors closed and the process of Gypsy discovering her mother’s lies.

In the second episode, the dead body of Dee Dee is introduced, and the disappearance of Gypsy is alarming. Also in the flashback presented in this episode is when a doctor doubts Gypsy’s sickness, since she appears physically strong, expect for the bad self-maintenance of her teeth.

Dr. Lakshmi Chandra, played by Poorna Jagannathan, notices that something is off. Doing her own investigation, she feels that Gypsy is in danger, but manipulative Dee Dee is convinced that everything is fine.

In later episodes, a friendship with her neighbor Lacey influences and introduces Gypsy to the teenager world. She spends most of her life locked in this little kid fantasy, and this friendship starts to reveal her wish to be the teenager that she is and rebel against her mother.

One changing moment is when Gypsy meets Nick Godejohn, played by Calum Worthy, online, and this relationship takes them to a very dark version of themselves. This later will become a main key in the show.

It does not take long to realize that Dee Dee’s stories do not seem quite accurate. Dee Dee has been abusing her daughter by drugging her, faking illness, and in other ways that are revealed later. All this was to receive sympathy and free money from neighbors and the government. For Gypsy, this process was slow and painful.

The show does a very good job of showing this bipolar side of Dee Dee as she wants to always protect her daughter, along with the fighting and rebellion of Gypsy.

Directors Antosca and Dean really focus on Gypsy’s emotions of being a teenager and a prisoner in a child life. They want viewers to be uncomfortable and feel trapped.

Even though this murder case was very famous in the media and the ending is well known, the series still engages viewers very well to the point that you want to see more. What many may have heard about the case, is seen in a closer visualization and the intensity of the facts involved in the story.

I give “The Act” an 8.5 out of 10.

Doppelgängers torment unsuspecting family in ‘Us’

There are a number of different ways to interpret the new horror movie, “Us.” Every image seems to be a clue for what is about to happen.

At the start of the movie, titles inform the audience that there are thousands of miles of tunnels under the United States, stating that many “have no known purpose at all.”

Screen-Shot-2018-12-26-at-9.30.05-AM-1024x542After the opening titles, “Us” begins with a flash to 1986 with young Adelaide Wilson, played by Madison Curry, and her parents wandering through the Santa Cruz boardwalk at night. She separates from them to walk out on the empty beach, watching thunderclouds roll in. She finds an attraction just off the main pier, and walks into what looks like an abandoned hall of mirrors. While lost in the hall of mirrors, she discovers something terrifying, her doppelgänger.

The movie then shifts to present day, as the Wilson family is heading toward their vacation home. The little girl has now grown up to be a woman. Adelaide, now played by Lupita Nyong’, is nervous about returning to that spot on the Santa Cruz beach.

Her husband, Gabe, played by Winston Duke, thinks she’s overreacting about not wanting to go to the Santa Cruz beach again. He tries to convince her that it’s safe, so they can take their kids, Zora, played by Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Jason, played by Evan Alex, to the beach and meet up with old friends.

While on the beach, Jason runs off and Adelaide freaks out, worried that maybe his downloaddoppelgänger had taken him. Once the family returns home for a quiet night, they are faced with trespassers in their driveway in the darkness, who turn out to be their doppelgänger family.

“Us,” written and directed by Jordan Peele, is filled with hidden messages and foreshadowing of what is going to happen to the Wilson family. These images and messages leave a lot for the audience to try to decipher and interpret. In the movie, the Jeremiah 11:11 Bible verse appears twice before pivotal moments. The verse says, “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them,’” which alludes to the catastrophe that is to come.

I was slightly disappointed because I expected “Us” to be scarier, rather than a psychological thriller. I was more nervous through the movie than I was scared, with a heart-racing, and adrenaline-pumping feeling.

Peele, who also wrote and directed the critically acclaimed “Get Out,” not only knows how to tell his story, he assembled an incredible cast to play two roles. The Wilsons are a picture of an all-American family, a family of four that looks to be middle class, with college-educated parents. Their doppelgängers may look like them and be tied to them in some way, but their lives are inverses of each other. Their existence has been one of limits and misery. For the actors, it’s a chance to play two extremes, one of intense normality and the other of wretched evil.

Not only was it casted extremely well, visually, the movie was great. “It Follows” cinematographer Mike Gioulakis creates unsettling images in mundane spaces, like how a strange family standing in a driveway isn’t necessarily scary, except when it’s eerily dark outside, and they’re backlit so that their faces go unseen.

A suspenseful story, marvelous cast and a great crew make the movie enjoyable and thought provoking. I give “Us” a nine out of 10.

‘Generation Zero’ offers great concert, poor execution

Upon returning home from a short island vacation, you quickly realize that things are not the way they were. Without a soul in sight, and with every car, house, and street seemingly abandoned, the only thing to do is push forward.

“Generation Zero” is an open world, post-apocalyptic shooter where lethal machines have eradicated human life. The setting for the video game is an ‘80’s Swedish countryside setting with a retro vibe and small details that take the player back through time.

Generation-Zero-Screenshot-Tank-02-900x506Between the retro synth-wave music and neon-colored floppy disks lying around, the attention to detail in “Generation Zero” is impressive. The game is not without its issues and oversights, however.

“Generation Zero” falls into the survival genre of video games, but without as much depth as games that require the player to stay hydrated and well fed. The survival tools used are first-aid kits, boom boxes, fireworks and adrenaline shots, all of which are used to outsmart the machines or keep the player alive.

The idea of the game is very appealing, as the setting, the multiplayer options, and the combat against the machines all make for a top-tier game. Unfortunately, the game falls short in many areas. The first issue I noticed is clunky, outdated menus. The menus are next to impossible to navigate quickly and take up the entire screen. The inventory should be more of an overlay that only takes up half of the screen, with a special hotkey to pull it up quickly.

One complaint I’ve seen online is the way missions are handled. The player receives all instructions through old letters, notes, and answering machine recordings, with very little detail or direction regarding where to go and what to do. I enjoy the vagueness of the missions, because it encourages the player to explore and think about what they need to do.Instead of having a point on the map, or an arrow pointing to the objective, the “go here, do this” missions turn into adventures instead of errands.

The Swedish countryside is beautiful throughout all of the weather changes, sunrises and sunsets. The abandoned homes are packed with detail. However, there is not much variation in the homes you find throughout the game’s world. In a short, two-hour session, I visited the same residence five times at different regional locations. The only runnerdifference is where the loot spawns (if any) in the house.

The machines in this game HURT. It is what they were made to do, after all. The combat design and tools provided encourage outsmarting and ambushing machines by using guerilla tactics. But the machines can detect the player much sooner than the player can detect the machines, and set up a proper ambush or trap. This design ruins any actual depth and thought in initiating combat, forcing players to skirmish with the machines by throwing as many bullets and grenades at them as fast as they can.

“Generation Zero” is conceptually an excellent game. However, these issues cloud any good experience that comes with it. The combat is clunky, while the setting is beautiful yet repetitive. The game is much more fun with a team of friends, but playing in multiplayer crashes the game more frequently. It needs some work. Until it receives the polishing and attention it deserves, I rate “Generation Zero” a 4/10.

‘Shazam!’ shines comedic light on gloomy DC Universe

DC comics has needed comic relief for quite some time, and that’s exactly what “Shazam” brings, a lighthearted feel to the dark DC universe.

Shazam was originally named Captain Marvel, but the rights to the name were lost in a lawsuit by Marvel Comics in the 1940’s.  With the legal battles behind, DC reintroduces a fantastic character that rivals Superman in strength and ability, with humor that can only be matched by the Flash.

2way3The movie takes place in modern time as Billy Batson is a foster child who has run away from more than 14 different sets of parents who took him in. In the opening scene, we find Billy is tricking cops to get into the car to look for information on his mother. He is portrayed as a good-hearted, trouble-making kid.

The movie is slow building, and Billy gets his powers after helping his new foster brother escape being beaten up by two bullies. He escapes the two bullies on the subway. On the train, Billy is transported to meet Shazam, who has been on a multi-decade search for a champion to replace him.

After Billy accepts Shazam’s powers, he is able to transform himself whenever needed by just saying “Shazam.” Billy struggles to let people get close to him. His foster brother Freddy is the only one who knows who he is. Billy and Freddy end up having a falling out.

The villain (Dr. Sivana) finds out Billy is part of a large foster family. Dr. Sivana is a failedshazam-logo-logo-shazam-movie-dc-4n4rkyx-on-deviantart-template champion of Shazam. He gets his powers from the seven deadly sins. Dr. Sivana spends the movie getting even with his family for not  believing  him when he was a kid that he was asked to be a champion of a wizard.  After settling matters with his family, Dr. Sivana spends the rest of the film trying to take the powers of Shazam from Billy. 

The movie was very entertaining once we got Billy established as Shazam. I found myself laughing out loud multiple times with some of the dialogue and how easy it would be to see yourself as Billy trying to figure out how his powers work.

I would highly recommend going to see this movie for the comedy alone. I think it adds some lightheartedness to a very dark, gritty universe, much the same way that the Guardians of the Galaxy add humor to the MCU. With references to Batman, Superman and Aquaman, “Shazam” has the potential to tie into the main universe.

I give “Shazam” a 7 out of 10. DC is still just trying to play catch-up with Marvel’s cinematic universes. This movie is one of the better ones that they have produced. The movie runs for 2 hours and 12 minutes. I highly recommend staying for the cut-seen at the end of the movie.

‘Captain Marvel’ boasts stunning female lead with strong morale

An ultimate soldier is not defined by their ability, but rather their compassion and morality.

The latest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), “Captain Marvel,” directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, is the first film in the MCU with a female superhero as the center of the movie.

captainmarvelbrielarson.0“Captain Marvel” follows Carol Danvers, also known as Vers, as she is in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. The movie doesn’t take much time explaining the two alien races, so you have to figure out things as you go.

Vers, played by Brie Larson, is training as a warrior on the Kree planet of Hala. Her mentor, Yon-Rogg, played by Jude Law, is constantly telling her to not let her emotions get the best of her.

But when she goes on her first mission, Vers is captured and interrogated by the enemy race known as Skrulls. When she is being interrogated, she sees glimpses of her past life on Earth as test pilot Carol Danvers.

Once she escapes from the Skrull ship, she lands on a different planet Earth. On Earth, Vers begins to piece together her past life as an Air Force test pilot. As she discovers memories she didn’t know she had, she also finds more bravery and strength in herself.

Annette Bening plays Carol’s mysterious mentor in the Air Force, Dr. Wendy Lawson. Maria Rambeau, played by Lashana Lynch, helps Carol reclaim her personality as her best friend. Maria is a fellow pilot who never got the shot she deserved because she was a woman and a young mother.

Carol’s most important relationship, however, is with young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Fury follows Carol through her journey to discover herself and protect the planet from the Skrull she believes is a threat.

Carol discovers that what she thought was true about the war she’s apart of is a lie. She becomes “Captain Marvel,” turn against the Kree. This tests her strength in a way she has never experienced before, and she gathers the strength from all of her past experiences to get up again.

“Captain Marvel” presents a strong feminist message, showing that it’s OK if you fall, as captain-marvel-2019-movie-still-1long as you always get back up. The final fight scene offers a powerful metaphor for what can be accomplished if you stop waiting to be told that you are enough and stop believing the people who tell you you’re too emotional or too weak.

This movie is important for the MCU storyline. Marvel is leading up to “Avengers: Endgame,” which is coming out next month, and they’re introducing a new character that could be vital to the next movie.  It fills in the blanks in some aspects of the MCU, such as the Kree race and where one of the infinity stones comes from. It’s a good build up for the next movie that has been highly anticipated.

The movie was also very nostalgic. Set in the ‘90’s, “Captain Marvel” features both music and locations from the ‘90’s, such as a Blockbuster Video Store. The way it was shot also provided a nostalgic feeling. It was simply done like it would have been if it was filmed in the ‘90’s.

Overall, it was a good story line and a good cast to back it up. I really enjoyed it, not just because it has a female character in the lead but because of the strength the character has.

Although “Captain Marvel” has been recently introduced, she is definitely one of my favorite characters. I give “Captain Marvel” a nine out of 10.

Final ‘Madea’ movie emphasizes families sticking together through tragedy

After receiving awful news about a family member passing away, Madea and her family gather around as she announces that she will be planning the funeral. This family meeting will be the starting point of the journey that Madea will take.

“A Madea Family Funeral,” released into theaters on March 1, was directed by Tyler Perry. This hilarious movie is a must-watch.

The dynamics of this film has a plot twist you won’t see coming. “A Madea Family Funeral” is the 13th and closing chapter of the Madea movie series that has been directed and produced by Perry.

Perry created the character Madea, also known as Mable Simmons, an elderly African American woman who is tough and will do anything to keep her family together, even through the toughest times. She is very blunt and is not ashamed of how she acts. Her character is very genuine and fun to laugh at while watching “A Madea Family Funeral.”

With her family’s support, she will put together her family and a funeral, no matter how hard she has to try or how loud she has to yell.
tyler-perrys-a-madea-family-funeral-133906This amazing film is about what families go through. The movie is set in a small town in Georgia. The family comes together for an anniversary party, but then the event turns into a mixture of different family situations.
This comedy film is aimed toward family with its PH-13 rating. Even though this is a movie centers around a funeral, there are moments filled with joy, along with moments that can bring tears to your eyes.

I enjoy movies that I can relate to because I have experienced a family funeral myself. This movie hits the jackpot with how crazy it can get. Family funerals are very hard, and it can get dramatic.

Throughout this film, there are family secrets and twists that are interesting, and Madea will do everything to keep her family from tearing apart. Madea always seems to know what to do and what to say to her family to keep them from breaking apart.

This movie reveals how, even in the saddest times, families can come together, no matter what. The comedy is a perfect balance for this type of film. Madea will bring you to tears by laughing so hard.

Her unique way of getting things done is what makes this film so hilarious. Her character is very funny, and she will show her family just how important it is to be there for each other. Even though Madea is crazy and loud, her wisdom and sense of family is what always makes the Madea films so enjoyable to watch. Her character will definitely make you laugh.
I rate this movie an 8 out of 10, because it wasn’t my favorite Madea movie. It was just a different film with some new characters. The audience was introduced to a new side of the family, and I just wasn’t used to that side of the family. But this movie is still very funny. My family and I could not stop laughing.

‘Greta’ offers suspense through dark tale of stalking

A simple act of kindness can go a long way. But for some, it can end in a life-altering disaster.

Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Neil Jordan, “Greta” stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Isabelle Huppert.

A very naive young woman named Frances, played by Moretz, is on the subway one day and notices a purse that is left behind. Trying to be a good person, she returns the purse to the owner, Greta, at her home.

la-1551307675-snl3k2tk8l-snap-imageGreta is an eccentric French piano teacher who loves tea and good music. The two strike up a harmless friendship, but Greta’s behavior eventually becomes increasingly erratic and Frances does whatever it takes to end the relationship.

Watching the trailer before going to see the film made me intrigued, because I do like thrillers and I also like who was casted in the film. However, I did read some reviews, and a few said to lower my expectations for this movie. So I really didn’t know what to think going into this film.

Moretz does a good job of playing her part, and she has a lot to do with her character because she has to go through a lot of different emotions at a rapid pace throughout scenes.

There are also parts that were physically demanding. I think Moretz handled them very well and was able to pull it off by delivering a sympathetic performance. She was believable and was able to play as a naive person who is not used to living in the city, which is important for the storyline to work.

She makes choices so anyone who has ever lived in a big city before is going to look at her and wonder why she is making the decisions that she is making, even after seeing all of the red flags Greta’s character gives off throughout the film.

This film would not even be close to as good as it is without Moretz and Huppert as the two lead actresses. Without a doubt, the star of this film is the title character, Greta, played by Huppert, who essentially plays three different characters.

At the beginning of the film, she plays a gentle, welcoming woman who seems to want to know more about Frances once her purse is returned to her. Then she quickly becomes an obsessive person who is stalking Frances on social media and watching her at work. Lastly, it becomes a toxic, psychotic relationship when Greta reveals who she is.

Huppert does a great job of portraying each one of these characters. Her performance greta_03stands out in each part of the film.

Although she doesn’t have a very demanding role, Maika Monroe plays the streetwise friend, Erica, and roommate who tries to keep Frances out of trouble. Her character was sort of like the audience’s voice throughout the film, and she shared some of the same frustration the audience may have felt.

The script is filled with many clichés and so many familiar scenes, I could see where it was going, to some extent. It reminded me of the kind of films that were made in the ‘90s. There were tons of movies where there was a crazy person who followed people everywhere, or a character started out fine but eventually turned out to be crazy. It’s the kind of film we’ve seen before.

Greta displays so many warning signs early on  that just about anybody can realize it was a situation they needed to get out of. I felt like I was constantly waiting for the protagonist to see these obvious signs. When she doesn’t, it becomes a little frustrating.

Yes, her character is naive, and that is established early in the film. So I felt I could give it a pass after seeing she was a trusting person. But there eventually comes points in the movie when some physicality would have been a good thing to see, and I didn’t see that from Moretz’s character at all.

Still, there are some high points to the film. There is a great build up of suspense. There are parts when tension brews for awhile, and it is a well-directed film with good acting. But it builds to a finale that asks the audience to take the end of the film at face value, while I think there are so many different ways that this character could have gotten out of the situation she ends up in.

I would give “Greta” an 8 out of 10.

Exciting gameplay overshadows forgettable story in ‘The Division 2’

Most humans have been wiped out by a fatal biological super-bug, but somehow this bug is weaponized.

Secret groups of government agents, or “Division Agents” are considered to be the last line of defense in rebuilding and defending the nation.

In “The Division 2” players get to create and play their own Division Agent and scour post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., looking for supplies, weapons, and, most importantly, reclaiming the enemy-occupied landmarks and neighborhoods by force.

The-Division-2-Review“The Division” franchise has some history as a pretty bland third-person-shooter with loads of potential. The genre of “shoot-and-loot” games maintains a meager standard in the massive multiplayer online role-playing game (or MMORPG) world.

The first “Division” game was fairly bland. The beginning was strong, the story was decent, but the “endgame” was severely lacking at launch. Ubisoft’s developers were very receptive throughout all of “The Division’s” lifespan. They listened to their players and offered fixes and content to respond to the suggestions of their fans.

“The Division 2” is almost similar to the first game, but with all of the balance fixes, loot, and content that it had lacked from the beginning. It is a much better game that raises the bar in the MMO shoot-and-loot genre.

The story is reasonably engaging, though a little boring for my taste. I find myself not paying attention during the more significant events, but that is because my taste in shooters does not include semi-realistic, hyper-tactical super soldiers. I don’t like working or playing for “The Man.” I am more of a sci-fi fan. However, this does not take away from my experience, because the gameplay is excellent.

The beginning is not very challenging, but the endgame is. “The Division 2” truly starts after 20 to 30 hours of gameplay, when you start unlocking “World Tiers,” which are the_division_2_gold_art_1.jpgessentially harder versions of the world the player is already roaming. The open world also becomes much more dynamic after level 30. The world is always moving, changing, and being occupied or invaded by different enemy factions.

After reaching the level cap of 30, the gear-score grind begins, along with openings for different “specializations” that unlock more ways to play the game.

There are three specializations, and each gives a new tree of “perks” that help refine your preferred play style. “The Division 2” does not emphasize, but merely includes, the “Tank, healer, DPS” style of MMO, albeit with a more complicated execution. The specializations have something for (almost) everybody, whether a player wants to focus on explosives, sharpshooting, survivability, or pure gun damage-per-second.

  “The Division 2” would not be complete without “Dark Zones.” or DZ. Dark Zones are contaminated, quarantined areas that are unlocked later in the game. The DZ is where players go for some of the best loot, and player vs. player conflict. The DZ was arguably the best part of the first “Division” game.

In “The Division 2,” the Dark Zone is split into three smaller areas instead of one large one. The three DZs “normalize” each player’s gear score, which balances everybody’s armor and damage output. This way, nobody has the edge over another player by having better gear, so players are rewarded for higher skills.

Each DZ has a unique landscape which forces players to move and react in certain ways. One DZ is compact and busy, while another is very open and spacious. The third is a bit of a balancing act between the other two. Additionally, Dark Zones can gain an “Occupied” status if the “big bad” faction, the “Dark Tusk,” takes over the zone. That changes the mechanics to be much more unforgiving. In Occupied Dark Zones, normalization is turned off, gear score matters, and the NPC enemies are harder and smarter.

Dark Zones also have the option for a player to go “Rogue,” which toggles PVP activity for somebody who would rather hunt other players instead of the PVE content. The Occupied Dark Zone removes the rogue option entirely so that players can shoot other players on sight.

“The Division 2” is a step in the right direction regarding the genre and triple-A games in the first place. “The Division 2” is the first game released in 2019 that does not feel like a $60 beta test. Yes, there are bugs, as annoying as they are, but they are few and far between.

Props to Ubisoft for their successful releases during the last few years. “The Division 2” is a breath of fresh air. The gaming industry is in a very greedy state, bringing a world full of battle royals, and unfinished, cash-grabbing piles of hot garbage as far as multiplayer games go. –cough- “ANTHEM” –cough- (Good job, staying true to your reputation, EA). The rest of the gaming industry should consider letting their developers make the games, not their shareholders.

“The Division 2” is far from perfect, and I fear the redundancy of the first game might leak into the second a little bit. But I also have a little faith that Ubisoft will keep listening to their players, and consider fan’s suggestions when creating future content. I give “The Division 2” an 8/10.

John 5 and the Creatures electrify Lubbock with ‘Invasion’ tour

Smoke pours from a fog machine, obscuring almost the entire stage. An ambient tune is playing, and the audience falls silent.

A strange swamp-like creature appears and prances around the stage for a few seconds, causing the crowd to scream at the first sight of John 5 and the Creatures. A few seconds later, John 5 appears on the stage in full makeup, lights in his mouth, and of course, his guitar in hand.

John 5 is the guitarist for Rob Zombie and has played for other legends in the music industry such as Marilyn Manson and David Lee Roth. Since 2004, John 5 has recorded eight solo albums, which he seems to trickle out song by song via YouTube or live shows.

He is currently on his “Invasion” tour, which included a stop at Jake’s Backroom in Lubbock on March 1.

The show was opened by “Jared James Nichols” and “Dead Girls Academy” who put on a good, but cramped performance for a fan base that did not have the same appreciation for them that they had for John 5. The stage was very small for the opening bands, which forced them to tone down any stage presence that they might have wanted.

After intermission, the crowd refilled their drinks and waited impatiently for the guitar god to reveal himself and bestow upon them his generous gift of instrumental guitar. Meanwhile, the stagehands set up Halloween yard ornaments around the stage.

  John 5 and the Creatures bring energy to the stage that I have not seen before. Some people might think an instrumental guitar concert might be a bit dull. But John 5 had the entire venue erupting, jumping, screaming, and begging for more. He lets his guitar do the talking and singing for him.

Only a few sentences were spoken in between songs, a few of note were, “I love Lubbock” and “Who says metal-heads can’t enjoy country?”

  John 5 and the Creatures’ setlist was mostly composed of songs off of their album “Season of the Witch” and a few recently-released songs from his “Invasion” album, including “ZOINKS!” and “Here’s to the Crazy Ones.” Every song was beautifully executed. Watching John 5 display his creativity and technical skills with machine-like precision was

One of the best parts of the concert was that, even for instrumental guitar, all of his songs stand out to be genuinely unique. I was able to recognize and name every song from the very beginning.

John 5 had an arsenal of different stringed instruments that he quickly rotated throughout the show, including a banjo, a few different guitars, and a smaller lute-looking thing that I could not quite identify. The effects of rotating his instrumentation made the show dynamic and exciting.

It was a pleasure watching John 5 and the Creatures perform, especially after getting to know him a bit more during a telephone interview just a few weeks before the show. John 5 has nothing short of fantastic guitar skills, and I cannot wait to see what he does next.

Former SPC professor achieves bluegrass dreams

by DEBRA MONTANDON

Alan Munde was a traveling musician and 40 years old. He traveled a lot, but he had a wife and daughter and was ready to settle down a little.

He was in a group called “Country Gazette” and had performed at South Plains College a couple of times. In 1986, he got the opportunity teach and settle down in Levelland.

“I sure do miss it.” Munde said of the Creative Arts Department at SPC. “Buildings used to be just opened for the day. But here, people didn’t want to go home, so the building was open all night. It is a good place here, for sure.”

Munde performed with the Pickin on the Plains band, Steve Williams, Ed Marsh and Flatlands Bluegrass on March 1 in the Tom T Hall Recording and Production Study in the Commercial Music Building in Levelland.

Munde was a professor at SPC until 2006. He now resides in Wimberly, Texas.

IMG_6302“I’m retired from teaching” Munde said. “But I am still trying to be a banjo picking star. Put your thumb and index figure almost together, and that is how close I am to achieving that.”

Munde was about 14 when he started playing the banjo. He played the guitar first, and about a year later he started picking the banjo. His brother and sister played the accordion. He enjoyed his playing so much that he did not keep track of how many hours he practiced.

“Ask my mother,” Munde said jokingly. “She is the one who kept track of the hours. She probably notched it in the door frame with a knife.”

Munde said he would never put the banjo down unless he had to go somewhere. He would play for a while, set it down, then go back and play more.

“It was about getting your fingers to these magic places,” Munde explained. “It’s like a pilgrimage. You walk where others have been. Your fingers are where other famous people have played. People can tell you to play this cord, but it isn’t the same as when your fingers make the sounds.”

Munde counts bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs among his role models.

“To this day, I can still listen to his music and be thrilled by it,” said Munde, who also lists Doug Dillard from the “Darlins” band of the “Andy Griffith Show” and Eddy Shelton from Dallas as his influences.

He said his favorite form of music is, “any music that is creative,” adding,” I like pickers, what ever it is. Country, jazz, classical guitar players. If rock and roll has a guitar base, then I like that.”

When asked how many CDs he has made, he paused, then said, “24 sounds good, but before that was LPs.”

As for advice for aspiring musicians, Munde offers, “Get as good as you can on your instrument.” The good musicians I knew not only had their music good, but their life was in order, where their lifestyle didn’t demand more than their music brought in.”

“Play your music all the time, and be around musicians where music is made,” he added. “Just make music your lifestyle. It’s not the money. You get to know some of the best people in the world. You meet people who want to know you, be around you, and play music with you. That’s really good. It is the best you can do. Work really hard at your craft.”

When Munde arrived at SPC, the bluegrass program was already going, but he influenced it and helped it grow into what it became. The program started in 1975 with IMG_6305John Hartin. When Munde arrived, the program was called “Country and Bluegrass Music.”

“With Munde being at South Plains College, he drew people from all over the world to come here,” says Steve Williams. “He is world known and highly respected.”

Once a year, Munde comes back to Camp Bluegrass at SPC in the summer. Joe and Paula Carr helped manage the camp with him. The camp has been in session more than 34 years.

Some of the famous musicians Munde has played with include Johnny Bush and Fiddlin Frenchie Burke. He played in the band County Fair with Burke, who Munde says “had a hot band.”

“They could really play,” Munde said. “They just burned it.”

Steve Williams first taught at SPC in 1989, then left for 10 years to go on the road to play music. He came back in 1999 and has been teaching for 20 years.

The associate professor of commercial music plays the guitar, dobro, steel guitar, lap steel, bass and harmonica. He was 12 when he started taking lessons and playing music. He grew up loving blues, soul, and country. Williams enjoys playing old country music and blues, though he can also be heard playing ‘60s music and more modern pop.

Back in the 1990s, Munde, Williams and Marsh put together the Steve Alan Trio and would jam on any given Friday night.

“He is one of the heroes,” Williams said of playing with Munde.

Like Munde, Williams’ words of wisdom for a rising artist is to “take it seriously, work hard, practice and keep your head on straight. Don’t get into drinking and all that bad stuff. It is hard, and people are always encouraging and tempting.”

Also performing on March 1 along with Alan Munde was the “Pickin’ on the Plains” ensemble and the Flatland Bluegrass band.

Levi Humphreys played the mandolin and shared vocals in the “Pickin on the Plains” band. Jason Sain played the guitar and shared vocals. Sain described playing with Munde as “Incredible.”

Leah Bynum played violin and vocals. Her twin sister Megan Bynum performed on bass, violin and also vocals. The sisters said playing with Munde was “Once in a lifetime, iconic and surreal.”

‘The Informant!’ puts vivacious spin on corporate espionage

It’s an ordinary day at ADM when the FBI comes knocking on the door of Mark Whitacre’s office door.

He was given a script by his bosses about what to say to the FBI, but what will he decide to do? Will he speak his mind, or stick to the script given by his corporate managers? A life-changing decision that will affect Mark’s life forever is waiting to be made.

informant“The Informant” portrays a shocking story that reveals damaging information regarding corporate crime.

Matt Damon plays Mark Whitacre, who works for Archer Daniels Midland, also known as ADM. Mark, who has been working for the agriculture corporation, decides to make a drastic decision on his own behalf to bring down ADM. He is unaware of what the actual circumstances are when working with the FBI.

This movie will take you on Mark Whitacre’s adventure as he becomes a mole for the FBI during intense investigation that will happen over a during a two-year span.

This movie is based on a true story that is quite serious regarding a corporate crime conspiracy that happened in the late 1990s case against multinational corporation, Archer Daniels Midland. This movie brought the case to life with comedy and real-life situations that make it very interesting.

Mark Whitacre was the main character of this film who took on the role of assisting the FBI in bringing down the company that he loved. One of the interesting aspects of the film is that the audience is able to hear Mark’s thoughts. He is a very knowledgeable man about the company he worked at, and he would list many facts and interesting statements about the company.

Mark was put in a very difficult position. In fact, I looked at the movie as if he were an FBI agent. He just didn’t have any training or the background an FBI agent would have. He was just an ordinary man who worked at ADM to provide for his family.

During the investigation, his wife was very concerned about her husband’s career protection. The movie presented a great all-around aspect of Mark’s life. He wasn’t superhuman, just an intelligent man who had the courage to speak up when he knew informant-watching-recommendation-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600something wasn’t right.

Mark makes it known that he loves the company he works for, and he even dreams of running ADM. He just wants to run the corporation properly without crime.

ADM knew they were being investigated and would not go down with a fight. Who will protect the one individual who gave his time and job safety up? Will the FBI protect Mark, or will he get swallowed up by the savage company?

I feel that this movie is actually very informational about all the ways crime can happen in the business world. This film gave a great insider look at a case that happened in real life.

I enjoyed watching this film on Netflix. Damon played his role very well. I enjoyed watching him play Mark Whitacre as he transformed into an FBI agent while working at ADM. I liked how humble the character was. He was an honest guy who seemed like he just wanted people to know the truth about the hidden corporate crime that was happening at ADM.

I rate this film a 7/10.

Romantic comedy surprises with positive outcome

If you are not a fan of romantic comedies, you might want to watch “Isn’t it Romantic,” because it has a different storyline.

The movie starts out In New York City with Natalie as a pre-teen girl  (played by Alex Kis). Natalie, who is watching a romantic movie, is told by her mother, played by Jennifer Saunders, that romance can not happen unless you look like a Hollywood actress. Natalie grows up to believe this and is left being stuck in her own miserable, romantic-less world.

Rebel-Wilson-Movie-Set-Isnt-t-Romantic-Tom-LOrenzo-Site-5Twenty five years later, Natalie, played by Rebel Wilson, is being used by her coworkers and is only seen as the coffee girl. Feeling completely invisible because of how her boss, coworkers, and others treat her, she complains for three hours about how romantic movies are lies to a coworker, Whitney, played by Betty Gilpin. Whitney ends up telling her that if she would be more open, people might not pass her by as much.

On her way home, Natalie gets robbed once she steps off the subway trains. After chasing her robber and getting her purse back, she turns around to run away, only to run straight into a metal beam and is knocked unconscious.

When she wakes up, Natalie is greeted by a very handsome doctor. Being completely freaked out when the doctor tells her how beautiful she is, she flees from the hospital, only to get hit by a limo as she’s trying to cross the street. The business man, Blake, played by Liam Hemsworth, who is inside the limo, gets out to check on her and apologizes for his driver. Being in complete awe of her, he gives her his phone number and tells her to call him if she ever needs anything.

Natalie ends up getting arrested, and not having anyone’s number memorized, uses her one phone call to call Blake, since she still had his number in her pocket. After he bails her out, he takes her to her home, where he sets up a date for later that night.

Realizing that she’s stuck in a “romantic movie” life, her goal becomes to get someone to fall in love with her.

Toward the end of the movie, Natalie’s best friend and coworker, Josh, played by Adam Devine, is about to get married. She then realizes that the person she loves, and who she thinks she needs to get  to love her back so she can go back to her “normal” life, is Josh.

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On the day that Josh is getting married, she decides to try to break up the wedding. Flying through the doors of the church, she starts to tell Josh that he’s about to make a big mistake and that he should be with her. But mid-way through, she realizes that the person she needs to love is herself. After stealing a car and driving away from the church, she’s finally happy with her life because she realizes the only person she has ever needed is herself.

Natalie then gets into a car accident and wakes up in a realistic hospital. Finally, back in her “normal” life, she goes to work and becomes the boss who has always been in her by stepping up and not letting her coworkers walk all over her.

Although this movie is not one of the best romantic comedies I have seen, it has a very good message. It is one that I personally needed to hear: The person you need to love is yourself.

This was the first movie in a theater that I went to watch alone, and because of the message, it should be one that others see alone as well.

The movie does a good job at the end of showing that it is not OK to let people walk all over you, and that you should believe in yourself more and take credit for what you have done.

But most importantly, the movie shows that you need to be happy with what you have, where you live, and who is around you.

“Isn’t it Romantic” really surprised me. The trailers of this movie made me think it was going to be negative and hate on romance, when, in reality, it was very funny and uplifting. I rate this movie a 7 out of 10.

‘The Umbrella Academy’ series unmasks different breed of heroes

On first day of October in 1989, suddenly 43 women give birth to gifted children. But none were pregnant when the day begin.

Once again, Netflix surprises with a new movie based on a comic book, “The Umbrella Academy.” The adaptation of a comic novel, “The Umbrella Academy” by Gerard Way, the vocalist and co-founder of the rock band ‘My Chemical Romance,’ and Gabriel Bá, is a classic story of superheroes trying to save humanity from an apocalypse with a little bit of family drama.

the-umbrella-academy-netflix-1550864234The series starts with the reunion of the superhero family after the father Sir Reginald Hargreeves (played by Colm Feore) is announced to be dead.

Sir Reginald Hargreeves is a philanthropist and a very wealthy inventor who adopted seven of  thoses 43 children and raises them to basically save the world.

The story shows how Hargreeves was more focused on the children’s powers and only caring about the results that they could bring, instead of caring for them as children. His inability to get involved in the kids’ lives is evident when he does not even take time to name them. That leads the kids to grow up to be dysfunctional and psychologically damaged heroes.

The characters have a pretty strong presence of the heartless father in they lives, but they also had two nurturing figures to count on in Mom, played by Jordan Claire Robbins, and Pogo, voiced by Adam Godley, a super intelligent talking chimpanzee and loyal server to Sir Hargreeves.

umbrella-academy-sir-reginald-1550238393The characters have unique powers and life experiences that are shown in the development of the episodes. Number 1 is Luther, played by Tom Hooper, who has superhuman strength. Number 2 is Diego, played by David Castañeda, who has the ability for super-precise knife combat and also can breath underwater. Number 3 is Allison, played by Emmy Raver-Lampman, who can manipulate a rumor to become reality by speaking. Number 4 is Klaus, played by Robert Sheehan, who has the power of telekinesis and can levitate. He also can posses and talk with the dead. Number 5, played by Aidan Gallagher, is the only son who was not given a name. The reason that he got stuck in a different period of time during time traveling, and when he finally came back, he is stuck in his 13-year-old body.

Number 6 is Ben, played by Justin H Min, whose power is to have many layers of skin. He died at a young age but is present in the series through interaction with his brother Klaus.

Number 7 is Vanya, played by Ellen Page, who is the mysterious piece of the Umbrella Academy. She is the ordinary child of her superhero family.

Other characters who add a lot of action to the show are the time traveler hitman, Cha Cha, played by Mary J. Blige, and Hazel, played by Cameron Britton. They bring extra mystery to the show that is developed and explained during a few episodes, which make it more interesting. As the show progresses, you start to see the reason the characters are present.

A lot of the series happens afters years of the separation of the family. During the reunion, there are flashbacks to childhood experiences. Also, the siblings attempt to reconnect as a family after the father’s death. It show how their personalities end up creating conflicts while trying to prevent a global apocalypse.

One of the aspects that makes the series very engaging and entertaining is not only is it about superheros, you can find a lot aspects of crime, science fiction, romance, and mystery in many of the episodes.

At first, the series did not look extremely exciting, since the first episode starts a bit slow. But before the episode ended, they definitely got my attention and made me ready to see what else was to come.

I give “The Umbrella Academy” a 8.5 out 10.

‘Abducted in Plain Sight’ tells harrowing story of kidnapping

Manipulators are careful and meticulous planners.

Netflix’s new documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight” tells the story of a family that falls prey to the manipulative charms of a neighbor, who then abducts the family’s daughter.

06-abducted-in-plain-sight.w700.h700Robert Berchtold also know as “B,” was a master manipulator who tormented a Washington family with brainwashing, arson, death threats, and aliens.

Berchtold gained the trust of the Broberg family by being a member of the same church and posing as a family man who loved kids. He was also the new guy in town making friends.

“B” was able to kidnap one of the Broberg children twice. The first time he kidnapped a daughter, he was taking the child horseback riding and gave her an allergy pill that was later found out to be sleeping medications so that his victim would be unconscious.

While hiding out in Mexico in a mobile home, “B” would play the recordings of aliens saying that the child needed to breed with a male friend to complete the mission, and  told her that he and the child were both aliens.  If she did not complete this task, terrible things would happen to her family. Her dad would disappear forever and her sister would go blind if she did not have a child with her captor by age16.

B’s wife was a key manipulator, as she begged the Brobergs not to report the kidnapping. The family kept quiet for a few days before finally getting the FBI involved. They were able to eventually get them to return home from Mexico after the family agreed not to press charges. The FBI begged them to stand firm, but the family was afraid of Berchtoldblackmailing both the mom and dad. Berchtold had had sexual relations with both the mother and the father. The family was afraid of being judged, and so they wrote out an affadavit allowing the kidnapping to be legal.

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The second time the child was kidnapped was when the parents sent her to Utah to work for “B” and he ended up hiding her at a Catholic school in California under a false name. This was during the time of the Lebanon crisis, so he posed as a CIA agent, which was why nobody questioned what was going on in California at this time.

16th birthday, when she realized that nothing occurred to her family when she expressed interest in a different boy and attending drama camp at Brigham Young University.

Berchtold was never convicted of any crimes against the family. The mother and daughter of the Broberg family went on to write a book exposing him, and he started to harass the family again. That’s when they filed a restraining order. Berchtold was convicted in another case of pedophilia years later. Rather than facing the jail sentence, he went home, took all of his heart medication, drank a bottle of Kahlua and ended up killing himself.

This documentary shows how easily a family can be manipulated and lead to easily trust people. The reenactment through the ‘70s gritty film of home movies ads an extra layer of creepiness to the story. I found the story hard to watch at times, not because film was bad, but because of how parents could be so trusting and so manipulated. If you’re a true crime junkie and looking for an interesting film to watch, I highly recommend watching “Abducted in Plain Sight.” I would rate this 6 out of 10

‘Alita’ accentuates brutal cyberpunk universe

Every city on Earth has been all but destroyed, with the exceptions of Iron City and the floating city of Zalem directly above.

“Alita: Battle Angel” brings a post-apocalyptic cyber-punk universe to life with stunning visuals, heart-breaking scenes, and intense battles.

It is the year 2563, and a cataclysmic war between the people of Earth and the “United Republic of Mars,” coined “The Fall” or “The Great War,” has left Earth in ruins.

dimsCybernetics and robotics are part of daily life in a place called Iron City. It has a giant scrapyard in the center, which is supplied Zalem. Zalem is the last floating city on Earth, where only the elite can live. Zalem dumps all of its junk, including damaged cyborgs, down on to Iron City. Iron City inhabitants live a mostly subservient life to those on Zalem, with a large factory that produces and ships parts and goods for the floating city.

Alita is a cyborg that was found in the scrapyard by Dr. Daisuke Ido, who is the best engineer in Iron City. Ido is originally from Zalem, and he was sent down to Iron City after his daughter, who was also named Alita, was diagnosed with a rare disease.

Ido repairs the amnesiac Alita by giving her the body he created for his daughter. Later, through her muscle memory of a lost fighting technique, she experiences flashbacks of her past and starts hunting answers.

The Factory is operated by a sort of criminal conglomerate, led by a man named Vector. Vector makes the factory and himself money through a game called “Motorball” and other criminal activities. Motorball is a gladiatorial racing game. The only rule seems to be “get the ball in the hole” at the end of a large, concrete track. Motorball players are typically cyborgs or humans in an exo-suit, equipped with special racing gear and weapons to fight off opponents. There are no teams.

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Many people in Iron City have cybernetic enhancements. It is not uncommon to see a normal-looking human with two robotic arms that are specifically engineered for an occupation. Many humans exchange their own body parts for robotic upgrades in an attempt to live better lives. People with interchangeable body parts face certain risks, however.

The criminal conglomerate that runs and oversees “Motorball” and the factory hires young criminals to poach valuable body parts from the citizens of Iron City. Vector hires a young man, Hugo, as one of his poachers with the promise of sending him to Zalem after he pays Vector 1 million credits.

Additionally, the big, bad, “Nova,” who lives in Zalem, collects body parts of the people he admires. The world Alita lives in is truly a dog-eat-dog world, where the strong prey on the weak.

“Alita: Battle Angel” brings a beautiful, rugged landscape to a post-apocalyptic Earth. Even the “Badlands,” which is the area outside of Iron City, is a beautiful natural scene with a handful of the terrible reminders of war that had once torn the land.

Most of the movie was filmed in Austin, Texas. A gorgeous scene of The Badlands features some of Texas’ beautiful landscape.

“Alita: Battle Angel” was a very good adaptation of the manga and anime versions. I hope to see a sequel hit the big screen in the future. I give “Alita: Battle Angel” an 8/10.

‘Atomic Heart’ preview offers futuristic solo adventure

A myriad of hostile robots and ravenous zombies lurk in a sprawling underground complex defending a mystery shrouded in death in “Atomic Heart.”

A new developer with only one unfinished game under its belt, Mundfish, has released a breathtaking gameplay trailer for an original first-person action roleplaying game for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

“Atomic Heart” takes place in an alternate reality in which the Soviet Union never collapsed and scientific progress there seems void of ethics or limits. Evoking the same curiosity and uneasiness in gamers as “Bioshock,” the setting alone tells a story of catastrophe shrouded in a mystery that will keep gamers pressing forward through adversity.

Players take the role of a KGB officer sent to investigate what has gone wrong at Soviet research facility 3826. Facility 3826 features an above-ground area with houses and lush wilderness, while it grips its darkest secrets underground. Gameplay suggests that the facility conducted biological and neurological experiments while also being heavily involved in robotics. A huge variety of robots in all shapes and sizes paired with zombies seen in the underground areas of the facility indicate a need to adapt to different situations.

The gameplay of “Atomic Heart” differs from Mundfish’s previous title in many ways, though details and awareness for their new title are scarce. “Soviet Lunapark VR,” their unfinished project, is comprised of portions of the same setting and seems to be a precursor to “Atomic Heart.” Both games have impressive visuals provided by the Unreal Engine 4 game engine they are made with.

The virtual reality element of the previous game suggests Mundfish may offer virtual reality as an optional way to experience “Atomic Heart.” Even if virtual reality is supported, “Atomic Heart” is guaranteed to still feel different from “Soviet Lunapark VR,” due to pacing and gameplay mechanics. The previous game’s constant barrage of enemies and mass amounts of ammo differ from “Atomic Heart,” as survival is a much more strategic affair. Unfortunately for gamers planning on buying, or who have already bought “Soviet Lunapark VR,” updates and sales have been cancelled, as Mundfish is focusing its whole team on “Atomic Heart.”

Instead of an arcade shooter where conflict is always welcome, the first thing the player does in the gameplay footage is avoid four patrolling robots. Observant gamers will notice the player only has 12 rounds in their pistol, with none in reserve. The player doesn’t often find more ammunition and soon finds a melee weapon, suggesting that avoiding enemies whenever possible and using melee weapons at short distances is essential. The damage output of enemies is very punishing, and robots are durable, but the player is seen to be able to block with a melee weapon, dodge attacks with a side-step, or backpedal while an enemy prepares to attack.

No items the player picks up have been shown to restore health. However, cigarettes and condensed milk are consumable items that likely serve this purpose. Two pistols, a shotgun, and five melee weapons have been confirmed, while “Soviet Lunapark VR” weapons are liable to make an appearance as well.

Weapon customization and upgrading have also been confirmed, but armor and clothing options have not. “Atomic Heart” is much more focused on single-player rather than cooperative play than its predecessor, but Mundfish’s website does mention player-versus-player combat.

The gameplay does not feature the player picking up any documents or finding any human characters that can flesh out the story with dialogue. The player character, based on an insignia on his gloves, is believed to be named P3, and is shown to make remarks during combat and when looking at enemies through binoculars. P3, if that’s his name, speaks in Russian, and with the in-game text being in English, it isn’t yet clear if dialogue plays enough of a role in the game to justify translating his lines, even in the final product.

“Atomic Heart” is currently in full production, and the gameplay is so polished a release date is expected to be announced within the year. Gamers have responded well to release dates close to release date announcements, and it’s likely gamers will have “Atomic Heart” downloaded onto their hard drives early next year.

Those excited for “Atomic Heart” can follow Mundfish on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or periodically check their website.

‘Miss Bala’ touts empowering story with strong lead actress

A night out on the town turns into a deadly shootout for Gloria that will change her life forever. As bullets fly across the nightclub, Gloria ducks for protection. Her eyes search the room for her friend. She must decide how far she will go to protect her life and her loved ones.

How far would you go to protect your loved ones ?…Think about it

“Miss Bala,” an action-packed drama film starring Gina Rodriguez as the amazing character, Gloria, takes the audience on a roller coaster adventure. This 104-minute film will have you biting your nails wondering what is going to happen next.

The movie features an amazing cast that is able to create suspense.

5c5330b37acc0.imageThis film is empowering for women, especially women who look like Rodriguez. Her strong role in this film is amazing and will have you wondering how far Gloria will go to protect the people she cares for and loves.

Gloria is a make-up artist who lives in San Diego, California near the Mexico border town of Tijuana. She visits her very close friend, Suzu, whom she has known since childhood. Gloria plans to help Suzu win the Miss California Baja Pageant. Gloria and Suzu seem to have a very close bond and care about each other as sisters would.
Gloria seems trapped in her life. She looks as if she is stuck where she doesn’t want to be and wants more out of life. In one instance, she creates makeup drafts to show a manger her ideas. Instead of being open to her ideas, he just told her to do her job! Period. She was shut down and her idea wasn’t even given a chance in her work place. Perhaps Gloria is in the wrong work field but doesn’t know it yet.

The weekend starts off with Gloria packing and driving to Tijuana, Mexico. The setting is shown realistically. The audience watches the screen as Gloria anxiously goes through customs with her passport to enter into Mexico to see her close friend Suzu.

Gloria’s smile and mood are becoming extremely visible as she gets closer and closer to arriving at her friend’s house. The greeting between the two women is very heartwarming and welcoming. They are overwhelmed with happiness, and they both scream and embrace each other. The women are very ecstatic about the upcoming weekend, which is off to a great start.

The next day, the women attend pageant meetings while enjoying each other’s company. After a series of unfortunate events, Gloria finds herself in a very difficult situation. She is faced with many challenges that will bring out strength she never knew she had. Gloria’s life, and the lives of the ones she loves, are put into a gang leader’s hands after being handed over by a corrupt cop.

Ismael Cruz Cordova stars as Lino, a gang leader. To avoid any instances with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Lino makes a deal with Gloria, who will have to make a decision of a lifetime about how far she will go to protect those she loves. Will Gloria gamble her life and the ones she loves? Watch this film to find out what Gloria’s next move is.

I loved every second of the movie, but I do believe it could have been more scandalous. I expected a little more romance or some form of deception along with romance. That could have been the cherry on top for this film.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie, and I hope to see more action thriller films with female leads. I enjoyed the role Rodriguez played as she did an excellent job of representing a strong women who is not afraid of taking on obstacles in her life. I give “Miss Bala” 8 out of 10.

‘Super Broly’ canonizes popular character with epic saga

The action from the Dragon Ball comics is back in theaters, bringing Broly uncontrollable power and the new appearance of Gogeta.

“Dragon Ball Super: Broly” is the latest release in the “Dragon Ball” universe after the grand comeback this movie series made in 2015 with “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’.”

The movie, directed by Tatsuya Nagamine, brings a lot of surprises about one of the fan favorites of the “Dragon Ball” world.

The newest “Dragon Ball” movie offers a closer look into one powerful Legendary Super Saiyan. “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” presents a very interesting way to visualize the story of Broly, a big character in the Dragon Ball Z comics, appearing in “Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan,” “Broly: Second Coming,” and “Bio Broly,” but was never actually presented in the show.

maxresdefaultThe movie starts with King Cold, voiced by Jason Douglas, announcing his retirement and leaving his son Frieza, voiced by Christopher Ayres, in charge of his empire. Broly’s story begins on the Planet Vegeta. Broly, voiced by Vic Mignogna, is the son of Paragus, voiced by Katsuhisa Hōki. During his young life, Broly showed signs that he would be a powerful soldier, since his power level exceeded 10,000. King Vegeta, voiced by Christopher Sabat, worries about the legend of the Super Saiyan. Concerned for the safety of the planet, decides to send Broly to the remote planet of Vampa. Hoping to save his son from a certain death, Paragus steals a ship and follows his son.

More about the past of Goku, voiced by Sean Schemmel, and Vegeta, voiced by Christopher Sabat, brings a throwback to what happens with them during the destruction of Planet Vegeta. It leads to a long and epic fight between three legendary super saiyans. The saiyans reach levels not shown before, along with the full level of power of Broly. During the fight, a lot of surprise elements are being introduced, making for a very engaging scene. With the incomparable fusion of Vegeta and Goku.

Different than the other “Dragon Ball” movies that feel inconsequential and unimportant, “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” makes the story of Broly canonical, with a bonus of small parts of the Goku and Vegeta stories. This addition of the background makes

The story more interesting. It also makes it easier for the audience to understand where Broly comes from and the reason for his isolation.

Something very different that can be found in this movie is a deeper exploration of the past of the Planet Vegeta, which has not been explored much in previous movies.

The narrative of the movie brings together a part of the “Dragon Ball” series not previously shown. How the director, Nagamine, develops Broly’s character in the movie and the fight scenes.

Make the audience sympathize with Broly as the main villain.

An assumption is made that the audience knows all about the history of the saiyan. The movie is more enjoyable for those who already know about the “Dragon Ball” history. But for those without any previous contact with the story, the movie is probably very confusing.

Overall, I give “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” a 9 out 10.

‘Breath of the Wild’ expands Zelda anthology

In the final battle between the evil king Calamity Ganon and the champions of Hyrule, Link, the legendary Hyrulian hero, is struck down.

Princess Zelda, who is the reincarnation of the Goddess Hylia, protector of Hyrule and the Triforce, was able to protect link from Ganon’s fatal blow by shielding him and carrying him to the Shrine of Resurrection. A hundred years have passed and all of Hyrule has been cast into darkness, awaiting the hero, Link, to cast out Calamity Ganon by finding the fabled, “Master Sword”, the sword that seals the darkness.

“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is the latest continuation of the classic mythology of the “Legend of Zelda” video games. “Breath of the Wild (BOTW)” differs greatly from previous titles, but does not stray away from the true storytelling of Hyrule’s mythology that (almost) every other “Legend of Zelda” game possesses.

BOTW easily sports the most content than any other “Legend of Zelda” title. Most other titles have an open world that can be explored freely, coupled with a linear story line. BOTW is essentially a full “sandbox” game, meaning the player can skip or play any content they choose. It is possible for a player to defeat Ganon within 25 minutes of the beginning of the game, when Link is first resurrected. Doing so is not without its challenges, however.

BOTW has a fulfilling story that can only be uncovered by paying attention to clues, listening to the story, and exploring the wilderness that is now Dark Hyrule. A hundred years ago, Link was accompanied by four other champions, each hailing from the sea, mountain, desert, and sky. Each champion was tasked with piloting a Divine Beast, giant mechanical machines that the ancient order of Shieka had built to defeat Calamity Ganon long ago.

Each champion piloting the Divine Beasts has fallen to Calamity Ganon, with their spirits trapped in the machines. Ganon was also able to corrupt the Divine Beasts, making them cause havoc during the past 100 years throughout Hyrule.

After 100 years in the Shrine of Resurrection, Link has lost his memories of his companions. BOTW gives an optional side quest to uncover these memories, not only of his friends, the four champions, but also of his connection with Princess Zelda. Link is tasked with releasing the four Divine Beasts from Calamity Ganon’s grasp. Meanwhile, Princess Zelda has been using her powers gifted from Goddess Hylia to seal Ganon in Hyrule Castle for the past 100 years.

In freeing the Divine Beasts, Link is reunited with the spirits of the four champion pilots, and their ancestors who have become the new champions since the original four’s passing. The stories behind the Divine Beasts are all fairly fulfilling and profound. Only one of the Divine Beast quests felt rushed, with almost no motivation other than the outlying problem of Calamity Ganon to actually free it. Link just shows up, people complain, he fixes the problem, and then he moves on.

Otherwise, the game has a much richer story that can be uncovered by exploring. Every region has stories to tell, from uncovering ancient mythology about civilizations of old, to simply helping people in need. There are also 120 “Shrines” to be found, most of which are hidden away. Each shrine is a puzzle that unlocks items, and a currency called “Spirit Orbs,” which can be used to upgrade Link’s health and stamina bars.

BOTW will be considered another classic, next to “Ocarina of Time,” (OoT). Since OoT has been out for 21 years, it has had much more time to be scrutinized and dissected for the story and subtext that it delivers. BOTW will be subject to the same scrutiny as OoT by fans, and I think that more secrets will be uncovered as time goes on.       It is these properties of the game that make it a masterful presentation of works from the game’s developers and artists. Small details are always hidden, waiting to be uncovered in “Legend of Zelda” games, with each detail revealing more of the mythology of Hyrule and her legends.

I give “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” a 9/10.

‘Ted Bundy Tapes’ revisit infamous murder spree

Most people keep trophies to remind themselves of their success and accomplishments. Ted Bundy kept different kinds of trophies human heads.

Theodore (Ted) Bundy is one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, with 36 confirmed victims. He has been suspected of upwards of 100. “ The Ted Bundy Tapes” is a documentary currently airing on Netflix that gives   insight into his past while telling a story leading up to death row.

dumb4Stephen Michaud was able to gain access to Ted Bundy on death row because he told him he was writing a book about him. In the beginning of the recordings, Bundy talks about having a very normal childhood.  He was in the Cub Scouts, played football, and was above average in academics in high school. He just didn’t date much in high school.

Bundy refused to talk about any murders or any of his crimes until they got him to speak in the third person. That is how he confessed how he would have done some of his horrific crimes.

The way they tell the story with audio clips of interviews and some news real footage of Bundy bring the story to life. I found the story to be slow building, and portrayed him as a monster and as a charismatic person throughout the entire series.

Director Joe Berlinger really personalized Bundy as a charismatic and charming person that none of his prior girlfriends, close friends or family even suspected him of doing the things he did.

Bundy was able to avoid the police for such a long time because of the their inability to share information. He would often approach his victims with a fake injury, such as a broken arm, and ask for help to put up his stuff, such as a surfboard or towels that he brought to the beach. Another reason for Bundy’s success was he was able to use his psychology degree to his advantage of understanding people and patterns. He also was a law student and new the law very well.

Bundy broke out of jail twice, both times in Colorado. The first time he jumped from the second story of the courthouse in Aspen, Colorado and fled into the mountains, only to return a few days later because of the unbearable cold and starvation. The second time he escaped from the Colorado jail, he starved himself down to 140 pounds and then escaped through the ceiling. This was the last time he evaded the cops until he was caught in Florida.

A highway patrol man who only stopped him because he was driving recklessly finally captured Bundy in Florida. Unfortunately, this occurred after one of his most horrendous crimes at the Chi Omega house in Tallahassee, Florida, where Florida State University is located.

Bundy terrorized the United States from 1973 through 1978, admitting to murders in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Florida.

The Bundy trial was one of the first to gain national attention. They had media from all over the United States and several foreign countries. It was the first time a trial was given national media attention with the new technology being able to broadcast nationwide.

The thing that struck me the most during this whole series is the fact that Bundy went on to have a wife and child while on death row. He met his wife during his trial, which had to be moved from Tallahassee, Florida to Miami, Florida to try to find a non-biased jury.

I found this documentary to be very insightful and very interesting. If you have some free time and you are looking for some quality television, I highly recommend the “Ted Bundy Tapes.”