Category Archives: Nicholas Runyon

Justice League Receives Poor Reviews

by Nicholas Runyon – Artist

“Justice League” continues where “Batman V. Superman” left off in 2016. Superman is dead, the Earth no longer has an alien protector, and Batman (Ben Affleck) is worried about a new threat. With the database taken from Lex Luthor, Bruce and Diana/ Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) attempt to recruit exceptional individuals to the cause. He meets Barry Allen/ Flash (Ezra Miller), in a scene that feels a lot like when Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) recruits Peter Parker/ Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in Captain America: Civil War (2016). Bruce also tracks down Arthur Curry/ Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Diana tries to convince Victor Stone/ Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to join them. All of the would-be Justice Leaguers have their own reasons for initially refusing to join, except Barry, who was excited to join. The nature of that apocalypse will make a lot more sense to fans of the comics who are more familiar with the Darkseid lore than it will to casual viewers. The main villain of the film is “Steppenwolf”, who threatens to achieve total dominion over everything, once he has gathered three ancient boxes of pulsating energy known as Mother Boxes. The film is a clash of multiple different visions and multiple corporate ones: original director Zack Snyder stepped down from the film after a loss in the family, and Joss Whedon stepped in to complete the movie, stitching together Snyder’s footage via months of extra reshoots to add character-building and comedy. And Warner certainly had to be aware that Snyder’s grand scheme for the DC Extended Universe. DC’s rushed attempt to catch up with Marvel’s nearly decade-old movie franchise has not been very popular with critics and fans. Wonder Woman however was amazing, director Patty Jenkins was able to create a film that matched the color scheme of Snyder’s films, but also had a lighter tone.

Basically, what happened was; After the Dark Knight trilogy, WB wanted Christopher Nolan to do “Man of Steel”, but Nolan refused and instead pushed for Snyder (a family friend). During “Man of Steel” and “Batman vs Superman”, Warner Brothers execs didn’t even read Snyder’s notes on the films, because they “trusted him”. The President and The CEO of WB hated BvS so much that they wanted to fire Snyder from JL, but it was set to begin filming the following week so they kept him. Warner Brothers hated the direction JL was going and kept trying to get Snyder to change things, which he would but it was difficult and stressful for him. Snyder was about to quit or get fired when the tragedy happened with his family. Huge pressure from WB execs at this point who were understanding of what Snyder was facing in real life, but they were very against the movie. They called it a Frankenstein movie and said it was incoherent and made no sense and way too dark. Snyder quits to attend to his family.

Instead of delaying the movie until 2018, WB CEO and President decide to bring in another director and throw in $100m studio money for reshoots for a quick turnaround (This includes things like Henry Cavill’s awful CGI removed mustache, because they didn’t have the time/ resources) and to keep the release date because if the movie was released in 2017 they would be able to apply it to their bonus checks for the year and get way more money, but they were both sure they wouldn’t have a job in 2018 so if the movie released then, they wouldn’t get the bonus.

WB execs made a conscious decision to release a poor product which they acknowledged would be bad- simply because it would mean more money for them. They used a director they knew was going to put out a lower quality product, and then wouldn’t let that director even make the movie like he wanted. They then chose instead of fixing it properly, to rush it out and force it simply to get paid.

Some of the main problems with “Justice League” was the bad CGI, many people described it as “watching a videogame”. Another thing was the forgettable villain, although that seems to be a common problem with superhero movies according to critics. Unfortunately, another disappointment was Danny Elfman’s Soundtrack. Besides his use of the original John Williams’s 1978 Superman theme, His Batman theme from the Tim Burton Batman films, and Wonder Woman’s Hans Zimmer theme, the soundtrack was not only very forgettable, but also had parts taken almost directly from his “Hulk” (2003) soundtrack, Spider-Man (2002, 2004, 2007) soundtrack, and the “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) theme.

Baby Driver Uses Music to Enhance Film

by Nicholas Runyon – Cartoonist

Baby, played by Ansel Elgort is a young man in his twenties, working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey) in Atlanta as a getaway driver. As a kid, baby was in a horrible car accident which killed both of his parents, and left him with tinnitus, which is a constant ringing in his ears. Baby is listening to music at all times to help drown out the ringing.

“Baby Driver” is one of the rare times that the film itself that almost seems like it is an accompaniment to its soundtrack instead of it being the other way around. The pacing and timing of the movie matches the Soundtrack’s pacing and timing perfect, especially with the songs “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s, “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob & Earl, “Brighton Rock” by Queen, etc. Everything around him moves to the music on one of his many iPods, and he has different iPods for different moods. Sometimes the world seems to respond to his choice, sometimes his choice seems to influence the world around him—either way, music is essential to the success of “Baby Driver”.

The director Edgar Wright came up with the idea for “Baby Driver” in 1994, and adapted the beginning of the movie into the music video for Mint Royale’s “Blue Song” that he directed in 2003, which starred Noel Fielding as a music-loving getaway driver for a group of bank robbers. A short clip of the music video is shown while Baby is changing channels.

With a budget of $34 million, “Baby Driver” made $220.7 million worldwide. The performances of the actors, plot twists, etc. all work, and if you see this movie and don’t leave wanting to watch it again, you watched it wrong.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” Brings to Life Classic Comic Book

spider-man_homecoming_reboot_box_office

by Nicholas Runyon – Artist

“One of the coolest things about the movie is that we’ve seen the god (Thor), we’ve seen the soldier (Captain America), we’ve seen the billionaire (Tony Stark). Now it’s time to see the kid, and what he can do.” Says Tom Holland (Peter Parker/ Spider-Man).

Jon Watts the director, does a great job of combining elements a John Hughes coming of age film with a modern day Superhero movie, With 80’s vibes with the music, breakfast club/ Ferris Bueller’s day off references etc.

One of the main reasons people love Spider-Man is the fact that nearly everyone relates to him. He is a kid in school, has money problems, doesn’t have the “stereotypical family”, has trouble talking to girls, etc. The great part about “Homecoming” is that it shows Peter Parker’s human side.one of the things lacking in the previous two Spider-Man movie series was Peter in high school. That is such a big part of this character’s history that they never really went over before, and it’s really cool to see that finally shown. Peter’s high school struggles feel more intense than his crime-fighting, and that’s exactly the way it should be.

Tom Holland is the perfect Peter and Spidey. Andrew Garfield was a great spider-man, and Tobey Maguire was a great peter, but Tom manages to nail both versions. It is really cool to see parts of Peter bleed through while he is Spider-Man and vice versa. The supporting cast is very diverse, (this is a high school in Queens, NY after all) but the filmmakers received a lot of backlash and death threats from fans, because of several race changes. Most notably Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson. In the comics, Flash Thompson was a blond, blue eyed  Football jock who bullied Peter, however in modern day, bullies aren’t like that anymore, so in Homecoming Flash is portrayed as the kind of bully who is rich, and will make fun of the fact that pater is poor, etc. and while it is drastically different from the comics, it fits and is well done

Spider-Man: Homecoming is not an origin story like previous movies. Peter has had his powers for at least six months by the time Tony recruits him in “Captain America Civil War”. There is no spider bite, or the death of Uncle Ben, because we’ve seen it twice on screen before. Everyone knows Spider-Man’s origin by heart.

Michael Keaton provides Marvel with one of their best villains; Adrian Toomes/ The Vulture. Toomes is a blue-collar guy sick of being pushed around by the powers that be, determined to provide for his family, however he can. If a normal kid can become a super hero, why can’t a normal guy who is upset with the world around him become a supervillain? He is perhaps the most relatable of all Marvel Cinematic Universe villains, trying to stay under the radar and engaging in an illegal trade only to provide for his family. The movie starts right after the battle in NY from the first Avengers movie. Viewers see the aftermath from that battle and Damage Control who are underpaid, overworked people whose job is to clean up the mess made by superhero battles. This is their big break with over 1500 tons of exotic alien materials, until Stark Industries takes over and they all lose their jobs. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) decides that instead of returning the alien tech, they should keep it. The movie jumps ahead several years to current day and we see The Vulture aka Adrian has been stealing Chitauri technology, to start a scavenging operation in the form of a black-market weapons ring.

The way Adrian/ The Vulture was portrayed in the movie was interesting, unlike in the comics where he is basically an old guy in green pajamas and wings committing crimes. He was like an actual vulture but instead of scavenging for carcasses of dead animals, he is scavenging for alien technology.

 

In the third act of the movie, Tony takes the Spider-Suit back from Peter, which parallels Spider-Man 2 when Tobey Maguire’s Peter gives up being Spider-Man for a while and returns, to a normal life. Peter spent a few days like a normal kid again, and finally goes to the Homecoming dance with crush Liz Allen (Laura Harrier). As it turns out, Liz’s father is Adrian Toomes. Toomes threatens Peter not to interfere with his work or he will kill everyone peter cares about. Peter leaves the dance and changes into his old homemade costume from before Tony makes him the tech suit. He tracks down the vulture hoping to stop him before he hijacks a stark jet with Avengers’ tech and weapons inside. Peter ends up being crushed and trapped by the roof of the warehouse that they were in. With Peter trapped under the rubble. Hearing him scream and cry for help shows that even though he is Spider-Man he’s still a kid he’s still able to get hurt just like the rest of us. Peter finally lifts the rubble an homage to the famous “Amazing Spider-Man #33.”

Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack is beautiful, especially with an orchestral version of the classic 60’s Spider-Man cartoon theme. the score fits the tone of the movie perfectly, and so do the other songs included like “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones. Hardcore fans were excited when a Ramones song was finally use in a Spidey movie, because both Peter Parker, and the Ramones are from the neighborhood of Forest Hills in Queens NY, so it was a cool Easter egg. “Oh Yeah” by Yello (the iconic song from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) was used during a scene which almost recreated a scene from “Ferris Bueller’s day off”.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is definitely the best Spidey film in years, almost equal to with Spider-Man 2 (2004). And when you realize you have to wait until 2019 for the sequel, the only logical response is to quote Aunt May; “What the FU–!”

Cherry Blossom Festival

CBF Taiko Drumming - Nick R. IMG_1578 (1)

by Nicholas Runyon – Staff Reporter

The Kent School District’s 20th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival is a KSD tradition celebrating our connection with Japan, and Japanese culture. This year it’s being held at Kentlake, and 20 years ago when we started the exchange program, the Cherry Blossom Festival was held at Kentlake for the first few years before the district decided to rotate which High School it is held at. The festival includes things like booths, Martial Arts, Demonstrators, Children’s Activities, Talent Show, and Japanese Food for Sale.
The opening ceremony introduced all of the exchange students from all of the KSD’s Sister schools in japan, and talked about the history of the Cherry blossom Festival, and our history with japan the past 20 years. All of the people that were involved (teachers, students, parents, volunteers, etc.) were thanked for their help, and all four of the Japanese Teachers in the district were thanked.
After the opening ceremony was the Talent Show. The Talent Show Had either groups, or single people preforming a Japanese/ Asian related song or dance in the PAC. Students from three of the sister schools also preformed their own songs or dances.
Some specific activities the festival included were Karaoke sponsored by Kentridge, SASUKE (Ninja Warrior) obstacle course, Smash Bros Tournament, and a tea ceremony from Kentlake. Grass Lake elementary had a booth coloring Koinobori (fish-shaped wind socks). from Kentwood; Kendama games, and PuriKura Photo booth. Lastly was a Kentlake, and Kent-Meridian Sponsored a Manga Workshop, teaching people to draw Manga and learn about the manga industry in japan. In the commons, the activities were Calligraphy, Origami, Pottery Demonstrations, and goldfish fishing.
The four exchange students visiting from Kentlake’s sister school Abuno High School in Osaka Japan are all girls, Arisa Aso, Juri Omura, Karen Miyazono, Yuri Yoshida, and their teacher chaperone is Ms. Yasuko Yoshimichi. They will be staying from Thursday March 23 – Thursday March 30.
At the very end of the festival there was a Seattle Matsuri Drum Demonstration. Taiko is Japanese drumming. The group rehearses at the temple, attends area workshops, and performs at the summer Bon Odori festival and at selected events throughout the year. Afterwards, they let anyone come up on stage and try drumming

“Attack on Titan” Returns for the Long Awaited Second Season

by Nicholas Runyon – Staff Reporter

The wildly popular “Attack on Titan” (Shingeki no Kyojin) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by the Mangaka (Manga-Artist) Hajime Isayama. The monthly series debuted in Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine on Sept. 9 2009, and as of December 2016 the series has had 21 volumes.
The series is set in a world where humanity lives in cities surrounded by enormous walls as a defense against the Titans. These Titans are giant humanoid creatures ranging between 3–15 meters tall that eat humans seemingly without reason. The story initially centers on Eren Yeager, his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and their childhood friend Armin Arlert, who join the military to fight the Titans after their hometown is invaded and a Titan eats Eren’s mother.
Season one of the “Attack on Titan” anime encompassed volumes 1-8 of the manga. After the Titans attacked the first city, killing Eren and Mikasa’s mom, Eren decided to join the military with Mikasa and Armin. “After five years, Eren, Mikasa and Armin graduated; and they were all assigned in Trost District. When the Titans attacked the district, Eren was eaten during the battle, and his friend Armin witnessed it. Surprisingly, another set of Titans appeared, fighting off the first batch and not harming humans. Soon, the military found out that it Eren has an ability to transform into a Titan, making him a threat to human race. After Eren undergone a trial, he was taken under the care of Capt. Levi. During the Scouts’ expedition to Shinganshina, a female Titan appeared and attempted to capture Eren. The Scouts captured the female, but it soon devastated the squad of Levi. Armin thought that the female Titan was one of the soldiers, as during the time, she attacked the squad, but the monster didn’t hurt him. Later on, Armin’s theory proved to be true. The squad found out that the female Titan was none other than Annie Leonhart.” Said Sarah Tejares
After nearly four and a half years, and multiple delays later the highly anticipated second season will finally air on April first. The new season will pick up right where the first season left off. This season will also introduce a new Titan, the Beast Titan, and will serve as one of the major focuses of season two. Readers of the Attack on Titan manga know the Beast Titan is a human with Titan-shifting powers similar to Eren, but intelligent, covered in hair, and possessing the ability to speak. It is important to note that season two will probabally not be sticking to the plot of the manga, since when the animating started the animators ran out of source material to work with, and added a filler story, although some characterizations and events should remain the same between both versions of the story. Either way, Attack on Titan season two seems like it’ll be just as action-packed as season one.

Rogue One Lives Up to Prior Series Reputation

Rogue one

by Nicholas Runyon – Staff Reporter

“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy….” this is the “opening crawl” from “Star Wars Episode IV a new Hope” a perfect summary of “Rouge One: A Star Wars Story”.
“Rouge One” is a standalone Star Wars movie taking place almost exactly before episode IV a new hope. (the last scene of Rouge One is inside the rebel ship with the rebels preparing for Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers to board, “A New Hope” opens with a Rebel ship being boarded by Darth Vader, and Stormtroopers).
Felicity Jones plays the lead role of Jyn Erso, a thief who is broken out of a prison camp by the Rebel Alliance and led to believe that she is being sent to rescue her father (Mads Mikkelsen), one of the architects of the Empire’s secret Death Star. She then meets Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who travels as Jyn’s handler and pilot, with a reprogrammed enemy droid: K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), who provides some comic relief. Eventually, they are joined by the Imperial defector Bodhi (Riz Ahmed), the blind monk Chirrut (Donnie Yen), his heavily armed and armored buddy Baze (Jiang Wen), and, later, by a squad of Rebel soldiers to retrieve the plans to the Death Star.
Many people complained that this movie didn’t have the iconic “opening Crawl” like all of the other Star Wars Movies Before it. The reason is because Rouge One is not a “Star Wars Movie” its not Episode III.5 it is named “Rouge One: A Star Wars STORY”, meaning it doesn’t fall into the I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII continuous story it is a spin-off taking place in the same universe but not actually a part of the ongoing series.
The actual title of this movie should have been; The Real Suicide Squad, because every one of the main characters were sent on this suicide mission to get the plans to the Death Star. During the course of the movie, every named character original to the film dies, which explains why we never saw any of them in episodes IV, V, and VI. killed by blaster fire, blown away by explosives, buried in debris, vaporized by the Death Star. The ending is one of the strongest points of the film; with the heroes dead, we see nameless Rebel soldiers scramble to complete the mission, cut down one by one by Darth Vader’s lightsaber.
The movie also cleared up one of the biggest plot holes from the original movies. Mads Mikkelsen’s character Galen Erso knows that the Empire will build a super-weapon with or without his help, so he surrenders the last 15 years of his life to work for the people he hates most, but he secretly creates a tiny weak spot in the Death Star: the tiny exhaust port that Luke Skywalker will hit with proton torpedoes in “Episode IV A New Hope.”
The movie ends with Princess Leia Organa Obtaining the plans to the Death Star, leading into “A New Hope” where she hides the plans in R2-D2 when Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers attack

Spider-Man: Homecoming Creates New Hope for Marvel Fans

by Nicholas Runyon – Staff Reporter

On May 3rd 2002, “Spider-Man” directed by Sam Raimi, owned and produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Columbia Pictures, Staring Tobey Maguire Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, and James Franco. Swung to the big screen. Many superhero movies were made before this including “X-men” in 2000 but it wasn’t until one of the largest blockbusters of all time was released with Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” that there was a new superhero movie almost every year starting this trend of superhero movies.
Spider-Man was Rebooted in 2012 titled “The Amazing Spider-Man” Directed by Marc Webb, starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, and Denis Leary. In 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Was released and Didn’t do as well as Sony Had expected. At a Meeting Andrew Garfield decided not to go because he was mad at Sony for many things concerning the TASM movies including false advertising etc. Sony then fired Him which also cancelled any future TASM movies.
“Following the November 2014 hacking of Sony’s computers, emails between Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal and president Doug Belgrad were released stating that Sony wanted Marvel Studios to produce a new trilogy of Spider-Man films while Sony retained “creative control, marketing and distribution”. Discussions between Sony and Marvel broke down, and Sony planned to proceed with its own slate of Spider-Man films. However, in February 2015, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios announced that they would release a new Spider-Man film with Kevin Feige and Pascal producing. The character would first appear in an earlier Marvel Cinematic Universe film, reported to be Captain America: Civil War.
Marvel Studios would explore opportunities to integrate MCU characters into future Spider-Man films, which Sony Pictures would continue to finance, distribute, and have final creative control over. Lone Star Funds also co-financed the film with Sony, via its LSC Film Corporation deal.” Even though at the time they more than likely would not have the rights to the character in the near future, “Feige stated that Marvel had been working to add Spider-Man to the MCU since at least October 2014”.
On June 23, Marvel and Sony officially confirmed that Tom Holland would star as Spider-Man in Captain America Civil War first and then his own solo movie titled “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in 2017 and that Jon Watts would direct the film. The Homecoming in the title is not just a reference to the High school Dance, but also a reference to the fact that after 15 years Spider-Man is coming Home to the MCU.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” Co-produced by Sony Pictures, and Marvel Entertainment stars Tom Holland, Zendaya, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., and Marisa Tomei. Finally released its first trailer during Jimmy Kimmel Live on Dec 8, 2016, and two versions were released, the one that debuted on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and an international version, with some different shots and dialogue. Feige thought there was enough of a difference between the two that “it would be fun for people to see both.” after the overly successful release of the first Homecoming trailer, Sony slated a sequel to the film for July 5, 2019 immediately. The release date for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is July 7, 2017

To anyone who has read the comics over the years, seeing that opening scene in the trailer with the bank robbers was an absolute perfect representation of Spidey, which hasn’t been fully been used in previous Spider-Man movies. His Humor, Personality, fighting style, everything was perfect. With such an interesting “Rogues gallery” to choose from, the main villain in this is Adrian Toomes/ the Vulture played by Michael Keaton. The Vulture was Spider-Man’s First Supervillain, first appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man #2 (May 1963). The Vulture was originally supposed to make his live action debut in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 4” that was slated to release on May 5, 2011 but was canceled and Rebooted into “The Amazing Spider-Man” for 2012.
One of the main reasons people love Spider-Man is the fact that nearly everyone relates to him, he is a kid in school, has money problems, doesn’t have the “stereotypical family”, has trouble talking to girls, etc. The great part about this trailer is that it really gives a John Hughes Vibe with kids in high school and peter is nerdy and he is trying to find himself but by the way, he is a superhero! One of the main things lacking in the previous two Spider-Man Movie Series was Peter in high school. That is such a big part of this character’s history that they never really went over before, and that’s one of the reasons everyone loves Peter Parker So much.
When they announced that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) would appear in the film, people were worried he would overshadow the fact that this was a Spider-Man movie. fortunately based on the trailer it seems like Tony will be a sort of “mentor” and will supply Peter with Upgrades throughout the movie including the iconic “Web-Wings” which until now have never made a live action appearance but is just as recognizable as the rest of the suit.