Tag: Taylor Mitchell

Umbrella Academy is a ride worth taking

Taylor Mitchell, A&E Editor

The Umbrella Academy is a comic book series written by former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, originally beginning publishing of its first limited series in 2007. It has since done two more limited series with the first issue of the third being released in October of 2018. With the series meeting critical and fan acclaim it was only a matter before the series got picked up for a Tv show or movie. This brings us to the Netflix Television adaptation The Umbrella Academy

The show starts with the miraculous event of  43 children being born the same moment all across the world, despite none of their mothers being pregnant until they went into labor. Sir Reginald Hargreeves, an eccentric and reclusive billionaire, then decides to adopt as many of these children as he can, which predictably is only seven, in order to train them as a superhero team. 20 years later the children, which have long gone their separate ways, reunite for their adoptive father’s funeral. Sadly, things start to fall apart as they learn of a looming threat and that things about their childhood may not be what they seem.

I am going pretty light on plot this time because the story and writing are by far the greatest aspects of the show. The dialogue is top notch and the story feels pretty satisfying. The one issue I will give is that near the end of the season the pacing just kicks into overdrive, which can be pretty jarring. This only really comes into effect on the last couple of episodes though, so it doesn’t drag down the whole thing to much. It’s because of this I would say that the show is stronger at the beginning than the end, which drags it down from the great heights it climbs to.

The greatest achievement of the show is its characters. They are all written and performed incredibly well. In particular I want to give massive credit to Aidan Gallagher and Robert Sheehan who play Number 5 and Number 4/ Claus. Gallagher’s only main acting credit up to this point has been a Nickelodeon show (though granted an Emmy award winning one), yet he is by far the most fun and engaging actor in Umbrella Academy. The fun thing about 5 is that he is an old man in a 15 year old body, and somehow Gallagher sells that with a level of authenticity that is astounding. Sheehan also played a part that would be hard to balance out for most actors incredibly well. Claus often rides the line between annoying fool and tragic addict, ad Sheehan brings a lot of delicacy to towing that line that helps keep the character believable and not cartoonish.

If there is one big acting problem I would say it comes from Ellen Page, who plays Number 7/Vanya. I won’t go into why buy for most of the season Vanya is on medications that specifically bring her down and even her out, which Page does a wonderfully job of portraying. The catch comes later when Vanya becomes more emotional, and Page doesn’t sell that emotion at all. Admittedly, this is a generally issue I have with her acting in most things, she just never seems to emote in quite the right way. It’s always too much or too little, usually too little. I will say this on crops up at the end though, and all the other performances stay stellar throughout, so it may not be a huge issue.

All in all The Umbrella Academy is a really good show and everybody should give it a shot. It does have a few minor issues, but rest assured they are minor.

The Umbrella Academy gets 8.5 golden Breihans out of 10

Growing Up Autistic: I’m not crazy, just different

Taylor Mitchell, A&E Editor

Every year, I write an editorial for Autism Awareness month to attempt to help people understand Autism and Autistics just that little bit better. I am a high functioning autistic myself and try to use that as a way to help with what I can. Fair warning: this is a rough one and I am still not entirely sure I should be writing it. This article will include a discussion of my experiences as an autistic child, and admittedly there is a  bit of trauma and pain wrapped up in that. Yet I feel I should write it.03072019 Career Fair Headshots 11-Edit.jpg

First, let’s start with something that illustrates how growing up can be a little bit different. On March 31, 2016 the British National Autistic Society released a video titled “Can you make it to the end?” on its YouTube channel. The video simulates what a trip to a shopping mall can be like for a child with autism. The young boy in the video quickly begins to experience sensory overload from the many different sights and sounds in the mall, and despite his mother’s attempts to calm him, he begins to have a fit due to the flood of information. The last bit of the video features derisive looks from many onlookers before cutting to the child explaining that he is not naughty but just autistic. It’s a wonderful video in that it gives viewers a very good idea of what that kind of overload is truly like through the growing flashes of visuals and intense sound. It’s a horrible experience and its very hard to describe. The child’s functioning level is left unclear during most of the video, but the sensory overload he experiences can be experienced by several different parts of the spectrum. I have experienced them and I have seen others experience it. By allowing people to actually see what that is like is incredibly useful for people.

Something I also liked about the video is the phrase: “I am not naughty, I am autistic”. It’s a very true statement for me. Growing up, I experienced many episodes like the one shown in the video. Sometimes things would just become too much. It wasn’t always just sights and sounds, many times it was simply feelings I couldn’t control. My mind wasn’t ready for the rush of information and it lashed out when it couldn’t handle it. I would begin to fall apart, to lose control because in that moment there was nothing else I could do. It wasn’t a conscious choice, it was in fact in that moment a theft of choice. So how could it be called “naughty?”

The truth is, it’s not. It wasn’t willful bad behavior but rather an uncontrollable reaction. That being said, it is rarely perceived that way. I want to say now that I have had very helpful, understanding, and supportive teachers, therapist, case workers, and family members; but not everyone is this way. The video I have been discussing shows derisive looks from several mall patrons, several judgements made in moments of not understanding. I have experienced those looks and admittedly a bit worse.

More than once I had a fit like in the video during school. The lack of understanding from my peers caused me to be labeled as either a bad kid, crazy, or just a joke. This wasn’t just kids either, many teachers just looked on me as a bad kid who threw a fit for attention. That’s the difference, however, I was never doing it on purpose. It was something that was happening to me… Something scary that was hard to stop. I was laughed at, I was left alone. It got to the point some people told me I should be institutionalized, that the only place for me was a mental hospital.

Even at home, sometimes it was hard on my family to deal with me when I lost control. It was hard on them and hard on me. I have been talking to several people in the lead up of writing this, just to get my thoughts together, and when people ask me about this part of my life I can never get away from the fact that I felt ashamed of it all.

The thing is, I naturally want control, and it is difficult to forgive not having it. I think that for any readers on the spectrum that is what I am writing to tell you: sometimes there are things even about your own body and mind you can’t control. Learn to cope with it, catch your breath and find your center, but never, and I mean never, hate yourself for it. You aren’t crazy and you aren’t naughty, you are just autistic. You are different, but you have never been less.

For any readers not on the spectrum, I want to challenge you to remember that. Never assume a child is a bad kid just because they sometimes lose control when overwhelmed. Never be those people who look disapprovingly or just watch and laugh. I had many people who supported me through the years; honestly if it wasn’t for my grandmother, professor, and editors being very supportive I am not sure I could be writing this. Be like those people. The worst thing a child can feel, autistic or not, is alone.

Captain Marvel ‘marvels’ viewers

Taylor Mitchell, A&E Editor

Captain Marvel has had an interesting history recently. Carol Danvers has had a surge of popularity in comics since taking the mantle of Captain Marvel in 2012, even going as far as being one of the big players in Marvel’s Civil War 2 storyline. She is by far one of Marvel’s most popular female characters going back as far as before she took the  mantle of Captain Marvel. It was only a matter of time before Marvel decided to bring such a character their cinematic universe and boy did they.

Captain Marvel is a 2019 entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, the eponymous Captain Marvel. The story of the film follow Danvers, believing herself to be a Kree warrior named Vers, as she is thrown into conflict with the shape shifting Skrulls and her own memories on planet Earth. Along the way, she meets up with a young Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, and begins to unravel how she ended up working with the Kree. The story actually takes a wonderfully unexpected turn about half way through, so I will not go into anymore on that, but it will be sure to keep you guessing for a bit.

One of the movies biggest strengths is the performance of the actors. Brie Larson is an absolute treat. She is not only incredibly funny but incredibly believable in her role. Larson’s performance keeps Captain Marvel grounded, which is a feat considering there is a point in the movie where she basically proves invincible. A cocky rebel with very little consequences, can easily come off as unlikable but she is able to keep you firmly on her side which really speaks to writing and acting. Another standout performance comes from Ben Mendelsohn, who plays the Skrull commander Talos. Talos is a long time fighter against the Kree, and this brings him into conflict with Danvers over the course of the film. Mendelsohn gives him a wonderfully affable air that just makes every moment he is on screen a lot of fun. Other performances from Samuel Jackson and Jude Law are also great. Jackson really sells a younger, less intense and experienced Nick Fury just as well as he does the older version of the character. Jude Law also really sells Yon-Rogg, showing the kind of soldiers an incredibly strict society would be full of.

One thing that also really needs praising in this film is the effects. I was originally very worried about the de-aging effects that had to be used on Samuel L. Jackson for the film, but that was for the most part unfounded. He looks completely natural for most of the film with very few noticeable hiccups. The effects in the movies are in general just great but getting that younger Nick Fury look right really impressed me even if it only works due to Jackson’s very graceful aging.

The only major problem with the film is that it doesn’t feel as big as Avengers: Infinity War did, but it’s also not supposed to. It’s a complaint I have seen since Ant-Man and The Wasp came out and it really has no feet under it. With cinematic universes it is still important to keep each film as a single product. So while it won’t give you the same kind of ride as Infinity War, I still highly recommend Captain Marvel. Don’t believe the haters my dear readers, because this new Avenger packs a punch.

Captain Marvel gets 8.5 Golden Breihans out of 10

Kingdom Hearts 3: its heart is its power

riku and mikey
Square Enix

Taylor Mitchell, A&E Editor

Connections are important. The bonds we develop with people define us and help us grow. In a way our friends and family are what gives us strength. This is the message of Kingdom Hearts, and it’s a message a lot of people hold dear. For me, it told me that maybe being alone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. That is not even mentioning the fact that Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days is literally the story of a teenager learning to emote and develop friendships. This is something that, to me playing my first game of the series, hooked me in. It was a game that was about something I was going through in a very real way. The thing about this series is that over its 17 year history, a lot of people have stories like this one. It’s a series that resonates with people. I remember not long before the game released Kotaku and a few other publications made statements that the game wasn’t reviewable, at least not unless it was done by a fan. Now in the name of criticism, I wholeheartedly disagree with this assertion. Everything can be reviewed because every piece of media has an objective value, but I understand their sentiment. This game is so wrapped up in its fanbase that it has become, to its fans, as a game outside of the mass market. To these fans it is a product made for them alone. I don’t think this follows the intent of the developers, or even the reality of mass media. I can, however, understand the idea. Yet, this is enough philosophizing let us get on with the review.

First off, is the gameplay. This game is all about options. The main form this takes is situation commands, which are a hybrid of Kingdom Hearts 2’s reaction commands and Birth By Sleep’s command styles. They have a multitude of different effects and unlock requirements and can do several different things. You can summon theme park rides, transform your keyblades, trigger combination attacks. They are optional, but offer a good variance of abilities that make them interesting to use. I specifically like that, for the most part, they don’t feel as mandatory as reaction commands could be in Kingdom Hearts 2. They can be helpful in tough spots, but you don’t really need them which just feels nice. Athletic flow is also a welcome addition to the base formula. Having Sora run on walls and dart from pillars is super fun.

Another part of gameplay are the gummi ship sections. These space shooter sections feel better than they did in 2, due to their greater focus on exploration. The space between worlds feels like an actual world to itself which is something it had previously lacked. Controls can be a bit weird at times, especially when trying to make the ship dive, but you eventually get used to them. While I enjoyed my time with it, I feel like some people may not like the huge gameplay change of these sections. With that in mind, its will likely be up to each player to decide how much they want to engage with it, and some may enjoy it more than others. I will add that the customization options for the gummi ship is the most robust and easy to use it has ever been. So even if you don’t like the flying you sure to like the building.

Second, we have the story to look at. I over all thought it really holds up with other games in the series. There are some interesting twists and turns to it. I want to say that I sometimes felt like the trailers showed to much before release, but that ended up not being the case. The game also has some really epic moments, especially when you get close to the end. It still has the problem of not being great for newcomers, but by the end it does give a decent enough explanation for most things. I also want to say some of the Disney stories aren’t the best. Specifically when they are trying to tell the story of the film, like in the Frozen and Tangled worlds. Since they stick so close to the films they don’t really have that much for Sora and the boys to do until the end. The boss fights for these worlds are two of the more creative and epic in the game, but that is their highest point. I am also annoyed that they randomly include songs in the Frozen world but not in the Tangled one, but that comes down to preference. With that in mind I do want to say the Pirates of the Caribbean world doesn’t really have this same problem despite telling the story of the franchise’s third film. This is generally because it instead chooses not to really focus on that story and instead make it more about the overall plot. The original stories in the other three worlds work much better, they fit into their film stories after they happen and give the gang more to do.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is the game I think most fans wanted. It’s a good game that respects its history while trying to welcome new people in. Is it perfect? Not a chance but I don’t think it has to be. All it has to be is significant to the people who have been waiting on it for so long. I think it does that very well. I also think that with a bit of a recap, new people can easily come in and enjoy it. It’s a game for fans that tries its best to be for first timers.

Longtime fans are sure to enjoy: A first look at Kingdom Hearts 3

Square Enix

Taylor Mitchell , A&E Editor

So it is finally here my dear friends, Kingdom Hearts 3 is finally here. We have been waiting a very long 6 years for this one, but it finally made it. Since I was lucky enough to pre-order it (first pre-order ever), I thought i might take some time to give you my first impressions. Not a review mind you, that will take time, but a nice little discussion on how it is so far.

First off, we must answer the question: How does it play? The answer is as complicated as you want to make it, just like the gameplay. This game seems to make it its mission to give you as many options as possible. Thanks to athletic flow, you have movement tech in spades. Sora can jump around like a mad man, run up walls, and you get dodge roll and air slide at level 1. I have been telling folks I can’t wait to see this game at a Games Done Quick event just because I want to see how they use all of these options. In combat it’s the same kind of buffet. You can summon theme park rides, transform your keyblades, or just stick to your old faithful strategy of magic and whacking things. It’s all up to the player. Personally, I have found that a good miss works best. All the options come together to make it feel like combat is on your own terms. The player gets to decide how they approach it and that freedom feels pretty good.

Second, we have the story to look at. I won’t spoil anything here, but I do want to say that i am enjoying it so far. The main issue with it is that it expects you to have a basic understanding of things from ALL of the previous games. It helps that Sora himself generally has no clue about it either so you normally get some explanation, but don’t expect it to stop and catch you up. There is the memory archive that tell you basically what has happened and introduces core concept, but it’s far from comprehensive. I do want to say that I don’t see this as an inherently bad thing. If the game stopped and told me the whole story every time something came up, it would drag down the pace and feel bad. So just remember to not be surprised if you feel the need to get a refresher.

I think I will leave you with that for now. I do want to say expect a review in a few weeks though. There are several things like gummi ships, and mini-games that I want to leave for that. This is a game I want to take my time with and really get a feel for before I say anything definitive. Yet, for now this is looking like a game that, at the very least, longtime fans are sure to enjoy.

Square Enix