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Streaming Documentary Review | Mudbloods: UCLS’s Quidditch Team

This is a documentary explaining the game of real life Quidditch and how there is a world of it that isn’t as commonly known as other sports. The Quidditch world is much deeper than I had anticipated. Having tournaments every year and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is huge in the National College Level, and even growing internationally. This documentary explains how to navigate the Quidditch world in our day, how to play, how big it is, and how loyal its fan base is. It is very interesting.

I gave this documentary 4/5 stars because it really is entertaining to watch. Although at first I was skeptical, after watching this documentary, Quidditch became something exciting to me. The tournament they had was intense, and this sport really is growing. They even have a club here at BYU. I don’t think I would ever try and play this sport because it just looks too hard to me, but it is entertaining to watch and intense. There is some language in this documentary that viewers should be aware of going into it, but aside from that, it is totally clean.

Written by: Jeshua Osorio

TV Show Review | Avatar, the Last Airbender: Season 1

This third part of the first book in the Avatar series is a continuation of the journey our favorite characters are taking to the Northern Water Kingdom. The bond between Aang, Katara, and Sokka continues to strengthen as they face incredible threats and make the world a better place. Each episode is a wonderful addition to the series and offers a fun story that helps watchers grow to love each character even more.

This part of the Avatar series is a wonderful example of why this television series is so widely known and enjoyed. The characters are so loveable and the character development is so well done. This final part of the first book in the series is packed with fun adventures that watchers get deeply pulled into. The ever-present lesson of the joy that comes from doing what is right is a wonderful basis for many of the episodes. I think that everyone should watch this show.

Written by: Jeff Stolk

Movie Review | The Swan Princess

The Swan Princess (PN 1995.9 .A53 S93 2005 pt. 1) is a classic princess fairy tale about a young prince and princess who have been arranged to be married since childhood. Although resilient at first, they fall desperately in love. Princess Odette is then taken captive at an enchanted lake and put under a spell that turns her into a swan. With the help of a few animal friends she makes at the enchanted lake, they devise a plan to not only return her to her normal princess self, but to also save the kingdom from the evil sorcerer who put her under the spell.

I really enjoyed this movie. Having seen this film as a child, the nostalgic memories came flooding back as I watched this film anew. The classic fairy tale story line is shared with its own twists and thrills that keep the viewer entertained. The fun-loving, wittiness of the characters keeps you glued to the TV, wanting to know what comes next. This is truly a timeless piece that should and will be watched for generations to come. I would recommend this film to anyone and everyone looking for a good, wholesome, entertaining film for the whole family.

Written by: Kevin Hamilton

Movie Review | Knights of Sidonia

100 years ago, the solar system was destroyed by aliens and humans were forced to make refuge on Sidonia. Suddenly, the threat arises again when aliens are spotted alarmingly close and ready to attack. After Sidonia’s top strategies have fallen through, an outside underdweller appears to be the only hope of defending what is left of humanity.

Knights of Sidonia had a good concept and lots of potential. However, the series aimed to go for something that seemed both lighthearted and dark, but ultimately didn’t pan out and leaves viewers with some weird moments. Still, there were some weird bits that I found entertaining. I especially liked the portrayal of how humans could have evolved 100 years from now. I would recommend this series to anyone who is a big fan of anime shows.

Written by: Michelle Greenwood

Movie Review | Luther

The setting is 16th century Germany and a new Pope has been chosen- one seeking to build up the Catholic church through the selling of indulgences. Luther (PN 1995.9 .C49 L88 2004) retells the epic story of the man who shook the foundations of the Catholic church. As a young, aspiring preacher, Martin Luther undertakes a trip to Rome that forever changes his view of certain practices being endorsed by the Pope himself. After his return, he publishes his new opinions and divides not only his home country of Germany, but the entire western world for centuries to come.

This film takes an accurate description of one of the most influential changes in history. The acting was well done, though the character of Martin Luther is one constant emotional roller coaster that grows dull rather quickly. The story remains captivating, although much time is skipped in between scenes as the film attempts to cover the entire story in the period of two hours. I find this film worthy of four stars out of five.

Written by: Spencer Bradford

Movie Review | The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is a compelling movie based on real events. A genius with no social skills is tasked with cracking a machine known as the “Enigma”, a German code generator that is supposedly impossible to crack. The key to winning this war is cracking the codes of Enigma with Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) as the head of his team. The team goes through a lot together, as Turing has a hard time socializing with others, so I would say his first code to crack in this situation has to do with how to manage his team.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars because it really taps into your emotions. You feel a deep connection with the characters in this movie, and you really learn to love all of them. You find joy in their successes and share their sadness in their times of loss. This movie really makes you think deeply as well, and it does a great job of portraying what the environment would be like during WWII. Again, a very interesting movie that I would highly recommend to others.

Written by: Jeshua Osorio

Movie Review | Man of Steel

Man of Steel is a story of epic proportions. One of the world’s most iconic superhero’s, Superman, is tasked with the trial of saving the human race. Superman was born on the planet Krypton, where the atmosphere and mass of the planet is different. In coming to earth, he realizes that because of his extra-terrestrial upbringing, he is like a god to the human race. General Zod and his team are tasked with saving the people of Krypton, even at the cost of the human race. They find the planet earth, and Superman is the only defense the human race has from General Zod and his team.

If you’re looking for action, this is the movie for you. For 2 and a half hours, this movie is all about the strength of gods among men, but that’s really all it is. If you are looking for a movie with deep emotion and substance, this may not be the one for you. I thought it was very entertaining, and I enjoyed it, but there isn’t much of anything else other than action. I do recommend this to someone who does want to be visually pleased, and the acting is really good.

Written by: Jeshua Osorio

Documentary Review | The Times of Harvey Milk

As is often the case with many documentaries, important and significant subjects can be misunderstood or misrepresented due to poor filmmaking capabilities.  Whether it is the ways in which the images are presented or simply an overly one-sided approach, some documentaries miss the mark. However, sometimes the story is interesting and monumental enough that the film is not required to be a technical achievement in order to fairly and honestly represent its subjects.  Such is the film, The Times of Harvey Milk, a documentary about the first openly gay politician ever elected in California.  This film gives the account of his meteoric rise to prominence, policies enacted while he was in office, and his tragic murder at the hands of a fellow city representative.  While not necessarily the best made documentary in technical achievement, The Times of Harvey Milk, still has complete control over its tragic yet ultimately inspiring story and proves to be quite moving in the end, and also generates a discussion about many different aspects of belief and conviction.  

For whatever reason, the filmmaker behind The Times of Harvey Milk, chose to present his story by means of Ken Burns style documentary making using a narrator and slow zooms.  While this is not an inherently poor means to make a film, there were times I felt it failed to let Harvey speak for himself (as narrator Harvey (Feirstein) seemed to do it for him).  However, this criticism is ultimately not super important as the film still expertly presented the rise and fall of the gay rights activist. Additionally I think it also important to state that this film is particularly good at presenting a community that is likely foreign to the general population of our campus and presents ideas and discussion that would be quite spiritually beneficial.  This film is stylistically similar to On the Lord’s Errand: the Thomas S. Monson Story, and thus would generate further discussion for those of our faith. Overall, I was glad to watch The Times of Harvey Milk, for its interesting and inspirational story and its ability in presenting the real life figure, a hero to many, even if it did not break any technical barriers.

Written by: Parker Gehring

Documentary Review | The Staircase Pt. 1

The first part of the thrilling documentary The Staircase is an introduction into the case of the death of Kathleen Peterson. Michael Peterson, the husband of the deceased, is the prime suspect and his trial is the focus of this documentary series. The first part of this two-part series serves as an introduction to the complicated, heated trial. The evidence is shown, family and friends are interviewed, and we get to meet all of the main players in the trial.

The case of Kathleen Peterson is a great subject for a deep, sometimes disturbing documentary about the death of this woman. The documentary makers do a good job at showing how cases are not always black-and-white. I found myself on both sides throughout each chapter, siding with the defense and the prosecution at times. The emotions of everyone involved in something such as this are represented well and watchers itch to learn what really happened. I only gave this first part three stars because there are some parts which seemed slow to me. I failed to gain most of my interest until the third and fourth chapters. I wish I was more hooked earlier on so that I better followed everything that happened in each chapter. I am looking forward to watching the second part of this documentary series to see what really happens. This is an interesting documentary that is worth watching, but is understandably geared toward a mature audience—which is not surprising given the nature of the story.

Written by: Jeff Stolk

Documentary Review | Gasland

Gasland tells how fracturing for natural gas has affected a lot of people, and our environment. There are a lot of nasty chemicals used in the process and some of these chemicals are not taken care of very responsibly and sometime end up in our water supply. Lots of people are interviewed and we see how their water has been contaminated to the point that it is flammable, and at this point the water poses serious health hazards and can no longer be used. Of course there will always be bias in a film like this, but we see how the drilling companies pretend there is not really a problem and how they treat very poorly those that are affected.

Overall I thought this was a great documentary. It was not only interesting, but the intent of the documentary is to do a lot of good in the world. I thought it was well made and that the producer Josh Fox did a good job of raising awareness about the irresponsible production of natural gas and its consequences for those who live near the fracking. It was definitely eye opening to see all the injustices caused by our search for this energy source, and it is a little ironic that the lives of some are damaged in order to provide energy for others.

Written by: Aaron Conrad

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