4/25/2017
By: Brittany Coffman

On Fennbirn Island, in every generation, a set of triplets is born. One elemental. One poisoner. One naturalist. Three queens, each raised from birth to devour the others. Mirabella is the powerful elemental, able to summon lightning, storms, and the brightest of flames. Katharine is the poisoner, capable of consuming the most fatal of poisons without becoming remotely ill. Arsinoe is a naturalist, said to bloom the most beautiful of flowers and able to control the wildest of animals.

 

However, becoming Queen isn’t simply a matter of royal birth. Each girl has to fight for the crown, a fight that two of them will die for. It all starts on the girl's’ sixteenth birthday, and the best sister will win.

 

To start off, bravo to the cover. A novel’s cover is quite important; it’s an introduction or a curtain to the story that lies behind, a first impression if you will. Most of us, whether we like to admit it or not, sometimes choose books to read based on the cover. “Three Dark Crowns” has a very intriguing one, with a solid black background and three crowns representing each of the queen’s races. The crowns themselves draw your attention, what with their individuality and the way they shine under the light, as though they were real and begging to be read about.

 

The story itself starts off a little slow at first, which is to be expected due to the establishment of the characters and such. As you divulge deeper into it, the plot picks up and continues with a relatively steady pace. The ending is what gets you, steals the breath from your lungs as you scramble to read the next page and find that it is a cliffhanger: writers most wicked device.

 

Speaking of writers, the author, Kendare Blake, has a pretty eloquent writing style. She’s straight and to-the-point, while also maintaining descriptiveness. This story that she has crafted is a masterful concept, dark and shrewd. There is a certain preciseness to it that makes it unique, as well as its premise of violence.

 

As for the some of the characters, mainly Mirabella, Katharine, Arsinoe, I felt that they could have been better developed. Yes there was some depth, but there could have been a lot more to them. This could, however, be Blake’s plan: to develop further in the sequel so readers can get the full extent of who these queens are. But we won’t know until said sequel is released. With Jules, Natalia, Joseph, Madrigal, and a few other characters, they were given greater depth and a certain humanity that allows you to relate to any one of them. Which is a significant quality in any novel.

 

Overall, “Three Dark Crowns” is a good read. The writing is good, the characters are admirable, and the story is very unique. I’m giving this book a 6.5/10.

  

 


 

4/5/2017
By: Brittany Coffman

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in full swing for 2017 and beyond. The most recent installment in the successful franchise is “Logan,” the last Hugh Jackman-as-Wolverine film. Fans of the clawed hero have been mourning, but this is a message that goes out to all Marvel fans: perk up and get ready for a major binge watching session. Set to be released this year is the new Netflix series, “The Defenders.”


“The Defenders” chronicles the merging paths of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Iron Fist. These four solitary heroes, each with their own abilities and Netflix series, join forc

es to protect New York City, realizing that they just may be stronger as a whole than if they were alone.

Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage each have shows currently available on Netflix, with Iron Fist available to watch on March 17. “The Defenders” itself does not have a set date for release, although fans reckon that it will be soon. There has been some concern over releasing the last Defender so close to when the combining show is supposed to hit screens, but right now it is all speculation.

Currently, the Comic-Con teaser trailer for “The Defenders” is available to watch just about anywhere, and there is a link below.

 

 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4230076/videoplayer/vi3944134425?ref_=tt_ov_vi    


 

4/5/2017
By: Brittany Coffman

Enchanting. Dazzling. Spellbinding. A real beauty. These phrases have all been used to describe the number one movie in the world, “Beauty and the Beast.” The tale as old as time has come to screens yet again, 26 years after the animated inspiration was born and completely reimagined with a brand new live-action cast. Clocks and candelabras, teapots and wardrobes, visually remastered and voiced with splendor.

Our bookish heroine is played by the incredible Emma Watson, best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films and Sam in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” But some may say that this could be her most exemplifying role yet. Watson brings so much more strength and ingenuity to our beloved bookworm, giving Belle more depth than ever before. It was Watson herself who suggested refashioning the character into something more, a role model for a whole new generation of girls. “We tried to make Belle more proactive and a bit more in charge of her own destiny,” says Watson. This was achieved to the highest mark, Belle is still the character we all know, but she’s stronger, practical, and very inventive. Director Bill Condon says in an interview with Disney magazine, “I think we all know Belle is such an iconic character because she really broke the mold of Disney Princesses. She wasn’t someone who only cares about becoming a princess or getting married. She’s the one person who see’s the Beast - and it’s an awful sight - but she goes toe to toe with him.”  

Dan Stevens, best known for his role as Matthew Crawley in “Downton Abbey,” plays the iconic role of the Beast. During the film, Stevens gives Beast an aura of beautiful melancholy and hidden pain that you immediately notice and appreciate. But he isn’t always this way, as we all know. Before Beast was transformed, before falling in love with Belle, he is spoiled and in this cinematic version, quite pompous. Steven’s performance as such is amazing, his anger and arrogance rivals that of the original Beast. It is once the Beast begins to open up, after Belle stands up to him and they become friends, where Stevens truly shines. He shows us that newfound gentleness and regains Beast some of his humanity, as was seen in the original Disney classic. Like Watson did for Belle, Stevens brings so much more dimension and depth to the Beast, while sticking with the attributes that Belle and us all fell in love with. As Steven’s says, “One of the interesting things for us was to make the Beast a human trapped inside this creature.”

We mustn’t forget our favorite talking furniture. Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Ian McKellen), Mrs. Potts and Chip (Emma Thompson and Nathan Mack), Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald), and newcomer Cadenza (Stanley Tucci). All of them did a superb job bringing these characters to life, renewing their respected personalities and breathing new heart into some. But I’d like to shine the light on Emma Thompson and Audra McDonald for a moment, and their performance as Mrs. Potts and Garderobe. For Thompson, living up to the legacy of playing such an iconic role, and an Angela Lansbury role no doubt, must have been nerve-racking. But it doesn’t show. Especially during the classic ballroom song, “Beauty and the Beast.” Thompson never falters and her voice mirrors that of the original teapot’s. I think Lansbury should be proud. With McDonald, everything about her portrayal is grandiose, from her ample ball gowns to her enchanted wardrobe form, to her character’s love for her husband Cadenza, to her passion for opera singing. “Let’s put it this way: this is not a subtle character,” McDonald says.

Homage must also be paid to the dynamic duo themselves, Gaston and LeFou. The narcissistic villain is portrayed by Luke Evans, best known for his role as Bard in the last two Hobbit movies. LeFou, the devoted sidekick, is played by Josh Gad, best recognized as the voice of Olaf in “Frozen.” Evans is great as Gaston and he looks the part, even though he may not be as perpetually brawny as the animated version. His voice is fantastic in the musical numbers that he participates, especially in the antagonist’s signature song “Gaston.” He’s everything you could expect of the villain: self-obsessed, vicious and cruel at times, and dead-set on marrying Belle because of her looks. But in addition to those familiar qualities, there is more than just a black and white, 2D Gaston. In the beginning we see a fairly harmless yet arrogant man, but as the film goes on we see a dangerous, utter transformation. Now he is out for blood, the blood of the Beast. It is this transformation that gives Gaston his depth, makes him into more of a person, a person who was scorned and is looking for revenge. And it’s as Evans points out, “I’d say there’s a little more humanity to the character now. He’s not as brash as you remember in the film. But, you know, he’s Gaston!”  

Gad is a wonderful LeFou, he has the charisma and the vibe of the character, which is insanely important. Now there has been mixed opinions over the reveal that LeFou is gay, but in my opinion it does nothing to spoil or ruin the movie. As a matter of fact, I think that it is a good thing of Disney to push back boundaries with this film. One of those boundaries when it comes to LeFou is the fact of giving him a conscious. He is devoted to Gaston, but he also finds himself questioning whether or not the guy is worth it, whether he is doing the right thing. This is quite refreshing, a new take for an iconic, timeless character.

Last, but certainly not least, I have to talk about these songs. “Belle,” “Gaston,” “Be Our Guest,” “Something There,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “The Mob Song,” are all of the original award-winning numbers, brilliantly sung and revoiced. But it is the newcomers that I want to illuminate. First up is the song “Days in the Sun.” This is where the castle’s inhabitants reminisce about their “days in the sun,” when they were all human. I love how this song highlights everyone’s voices, and everyone’s desire to be human and alive again. Next is “How Does a Moment Last Forever.” This is Belle looking back on her Paris childhood. There’s a lot of emotion and love behind this one, not to mention Watson’s singing voice is absolutely stunning. Finally, we have “Evermore,” a solo sung by Stevens as the Beast. “Evermore” is definitely my favorite song of them all, with its beautiful timbre and chorus. It takes place after the Beast lets Belle go, and when he realizes that he loves her. I adore how haunting it is, how there is that beautiful and sad sense of longing that the Beast sings of. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if any of these (especially “Evermore”) win an Oscar for best original song.   

Overall, Disney deserves a standing ovation. They’ve taken something that everyone knows and loves, and transformed it into magic that will endure for future decades to come. Bravo to the cast, to the costumes, to the songs, to the sets. I give “Beauty and the Beast” an 11/10.         

 

      

 


 

4/5/2017
By: Student Webmaster
on April 13 - 15 at 7pm next week.  Tickets are $5 and can be purchased online at warrenpac.org or at the door.  In October of 1998, a student at the University of Wyoming name Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence and severely beaten.  He died of his injuries six days later.  In November of 1998, Moises Kaufmann and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project went to Wyoming to find out why. 
 

Director’s Note

The events of this play took place almost two decades ago. In fact, a sequel to The Laramie Project is already being performed: The Laramie Project 10 Years Later. Matthew's death and the events surrounding it brought to light how the we think and feel about homosexuality, education, class, violence, privileges and rights, and the difference between tolerance and acceptance. While people may feel as though we have come to a time and a place where the kind of hate seen in this production does not exist, people in our community can tell you otherwise. Indianapolis is 1,152 miles away from Laramie, Wyoming, but this city is not far removed from hate and violence.The Laramie Project offers everybody a chance to discuss the issues surrounding the murder of Matthew Shepard. I have been honored to take part in rich conversations with my cast and crew and have witnessed these young men and women question, contemplate, and analyze complex ideas and values. I am grateful to them and to this show for giving me this opportunity. I would also like to express my gratitude for The Matthew Shepard Foundation for their support with this show.

The actors and technical crew have worked tremendously hard over the past month to create a documentary drama. Not only have they worked on acting skills that can extend to any play, but they have also researched the many characters that they will portray. For these characters are actually not that - they are real people, and these are the actual words that they spoke. The script offers raw material from those who experienced the aftermath of Matthew's murder, and the actors will give you a raw performance without any curtains to hide behind.  This is a courageous group of young men and women who are about to take the stage, and I'm proud of them for doing so. In addition, our technical and design crew has done a wonderful job creating a living breathing abstract world for these characters. I think you will be very impressed with how incredible all of these students are.

This show contains messages of tolerance and understanding.  There is hate and bigotry represented in this play, but there is also hope, acceptance, and love. I hope this performance encourages contemplation and conversation. Please enjoy the show. Please be advised that there is explicit content, strong language, and adult situations.  There is no wish to turn anyone away, but parents may wish to consider whether children under the age of 13 should seek alternative forms of entertainment.  Parental discretion is advised.  


 

3/16/2017
By: Brittany Coffman

Princess Cassia Rose never imagined that fleeing her home world because of an arranged marriage would trigger a war. Now, after hiding as a ship hand aboard the Banshee for two years, she’s finally returning to her beloved Eturia. However, it is not the homecoming she would have preferred. Shackled and beaten by Daeva bounty hunters, Cassia is dragged back home to face her crimes, and her vile fiancé. Her only comfort is that the rest of the Banshee crew is still out there, including her best friend (with benefits), Kane Arric.

While Cassia is forced to reconcile with the past, Kane and the crew scramble to rescue her. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn’t exactly in need of the bravado. She’s claimed her birthright as Queen, but has also inherited a war-ridden country sparking with rebellion. Cassia now must make decisions not only for herself, but for the good of her people who would rather see the monarchy crumble. Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn’t exactly an alliance that will win her any points. Kane knows this, but he also knows that there will never be a replacement for Cassia - and is certain that she returns his feelings. Yet how can he and Cassia possibly be together? Especially since the entire galaxy seems to be against them, and the fact that they both may not make it out of this fight alive.

 

In “Starflight,” the first book, we were reading from the point of view of Solara and Doran, a mechanical genius and a blue-blood who come aboard the Banshee under interesting circumstances. In “Starfall,” we are experiencing the galaxy through the eyes of Kane and Cassia, a star-crossed seducer and a displaced princess-turned queen. The transition of the points of view across two novels was a unique concept that I quite enjoyed. It allows you to experience two characters that you didn’t discover a ton about in book one, while still keeping the others in the mix.

 

The writing, as Melissa Lander’s writing always is, very well-voiced. Her style is unique and really shines through in all of her novels, not just the Starflight duology. Landscapes are descriptive, fights are epic, and characters develop further and further while still managing to surprise us now and again. Overall the skill and technique is a ten out of ten.  

 

The only bad thing that I have to say about the novel is the timeline transitions. One minute Cassia is being held captive by her fiancé, then escapes and the chapter ends. Then immediately in the next chapter, she’s Queen and struggling to put her country back together. This sort of thing happens a few times in the majority of the book, but I understand the familiar concept: make a sudden plot introduction, then develop the backstory of it later. Nevertheless, I thought that it made the novel just the slightest bit choppy and a little confusing at times.     

 

In the long run, I give “Starfall” a 6.5/10. We explore Cassia and Kane’s points of view, and also get to learn a lot more about our beloved kleptomaniac Renny, which I thought was a well-deserved. Although some of the timeline seemed askew, the excellent writing skill and talent made up for it in this wonderful continuation of the Starflight series.

 


 

2/27/2017
By: Brittany Coffman

It’s red carpet time again, and The Owl staff has cast the winners from the 2017 Oscar lineup. 

And the Best Picture is...

“Hidden Figures”

This film documents the true story of three African-American women who serve a key role in the early days of NASA and the race against Soviet Union to put a man in space. It stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson. 

We picked “Hidden Figures” as the best picture because of how inspiring the film is. The story is told with incredible honesty and heart, with dashes of humor to lighten the mood now and then. The struggle of these three intelligent women and all the others trying to get where they deserved to be, is especially moving. The antagonists, those who kept changing the finish line, are played with terrible candor and gave the movie the bittersweetness that it needed. It has no contest, it deserves to win.

And the Best Leading Actor is...

Denzel Washington 

Denzel is a clear winner for best actor in leading role. In “Fences,” an award-winning play to film that Washington directed himself, he plays the part of Troy Maxson, a working-class man trying to raise his family, while also trying to come to terms with his life. Washington is astounding. In every role that he plays, including this one, he steps fully into the shoes of who he was picked to portray. His skills have definitely not gone unnoticed, due to the amount of respect and awards he has received in the acting community. Washington does what every truly gifted actor does, he becomes his character.

And the Best Leading Actress is...

Taraji P. Henson 

Henson is an amazing actress and definitely is our winner for best actress in leading role. She is best known for her part as Cookie Lyon in the popular television series “Empire,” but has recently come to the big screen as the main character from “Hidden Figures.” She plays Katherine Johnson, an African American woman working at NASA trying to send a man into space even if some of her coworkers and the times are against her. Taraji’s performance is great - she’s strong and smart and determined to reach her goals, no matter what is in her way. Henson really embraced this character and in our opinion she did the true-story the justice that it deserved.

And the Best Animated Film is...

“Zootopia”  

In this film, anthropomorphic animals live in a city where an optimistic bunny cop named Judy and a pessimistic con-artist fox named Nick have to work together to solve a mysterious plot. 

“Zootopia” was picked as best animated feature because of the message and inspiration that it expels. It speaks to those kids out there who want to be something but are torn down and told that they have to be something else. The film also relates with a little girl power, Judy is looked down upon by the other officers because she is smaller than them and if applied to real life circumstances, it was also probably because she was a girl. The movie speaks with a powerful message: it doesn’t matter who you are or if you’re a boy or girl, be what you want.

And the Best Visual Effects are... 

“Doctor Strange”

In this latest Marvel triumph, intelligent but arrogant neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange gets some new perspectives on life when a terrible accident leaves him broken and an ancient sorceress takes him under her wing to fight the mystical forces of evil. 

There is no possible competition for best visual effects, especially if you’ve seen this movie in an IMAX theater. The film has a lot to do with reality and how the sorcerers effect it, so you see a lot of mindblowing visuals that are almost illusion-like. Buildings twist and fold in on themselves, the world turns inside-out with different dimensions, the sorcerers draw on the energy of these dimensions to make their weapons, everything is visually masterful.

And the Best Book to Screen is...

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

From the book to the screen, this film tells the tale of Jacob Portman, an ordinary kid from Florida. When his grandfather suddenly dies, the stories he told Jacob as a child, stories of an island and an orphanage full of special children, come to the surface along with many unanswered questions. Jacob heads to the island to find some answers, but gets a lot more than he bargained for when he discovers that the children and headmistress are in terrible danger. 

This was our pick for best book to screen because of how it is portrayed. Director Tim Burton does a great job sticking with some of the more eerie aspects that made the novel so popular, but also didn’t overwhelm the audience with it. The mood is lightened in the right places, and darkened in the corresponding scenes where it needed to be. Portrayal of the characters, from Eva Green as Miss Peregrine to Finlay MacMillan as Enoch, is well thought out. Eva Green is clever and quick in her role, and even the Odwell brothers did their part to bring the beloved twins to life, even if they had no actual speaking roles. This film stuck to the book a lot, which makes it our win for best book to movie.

And the Worst Movie is...

“The 5th Wave”

Four waves of lethal alien attacks have destroyed most of the Earth and its inhabitants. Cassie Sullivan, an ordinary teenager until now, is on the run, frantically searching for her younger brother Sam in a world where you can no longer tell the difference between friend or foe. As the inevitable fifth wave approaches, Cassie meets a young man who may be her only hope, but can she actually trust him? 

“The 5th Wave” was chosen as worst movie for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is the acting. Most of the character roles, Chloë Grace Moretz being a prime example, seem too put-on. The level of acting is just not set at a high enough standard. Another reason it fails is that the whole thing simply comes off as though it’s thrown together, with the visual effects attempting to gloss over some parts of the film. All of it factored into the results, which, we’re sorry to say, end up rather cringe-worthy.