directed by: Jonathan Liebesman 

3 Stars

2014’s live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, follows April O’Neil’s father, who was a scientist, and among other pertinent experiments in his lab were a rat and 4 baby turtles into which he injected a powerful mutagen. On the night of the fire that killed him, young April managed to save the tiny test subjects, releasing them into the night. Awaiting the inevitable attack of the Shredder and his Foot Clan, Splinter and the turtles make a home in the underground, the sewers of New York city—mutating and preparing. April, now an unestablished news reporter eager to have the deets about the Foot Clan’s rising presence in the city, finds herself on a unique path to learning the truth about her father’s death and prior experiments. Meanwhile, she is trying to save the city alongside four 6-foot talking teenage turtles with thorough knowledge of Jujitsu, the names of early Renaissance painters, contrasting personalities, and overwhelming love of pizza. 

The movie tells of brotherhood and teamwork. As for that central team, there’s Leonardo, the leader, Raphael, the muscle, nerd Donatello, and Michelangelo, the jester. The duly movie keeps their traits true to being young, inexperienced, and sometimes rebellious teenagers. On the other hand, as the main character, April was a bit bland in terms of personality. Otherwise, there’s never a dull moment between defining juvenile humour and compelling action. With these, it pairs an effective score, heroic and riveting, that also features a hype Atlantic Records track, “Shell Shock”, to denote the teenage turtle aspect. 

Of course, at first glance, the concept is a bit extravagant—it was adapted from a kids’ comic books series. The bottom line is it couldn’t have managed a better ratio of real and kiddish entertainment. I recommend the movie to ages 12+. 

Chaya J.

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directed by: Andrew Niccol

4 Stars

  In 2011’s In Time, directed by Andrew Niccol, humans stop ageing at 25 and have an initial one year alive. Time is the currency, and one’s funds are the clock on their forearm, a line of steadily decreasing green digits; and “0000•00•0•00•00•00” means instantaneous death. Although much changed when “the clock” started, the disparity between the rich and poor—or rather the poor and the practically immortal—remains. Will Salas’s working-class lifestyle is relatively benign until Henry Hamilton, a stranger of means who’d had enough of life and a genocidal economy, gifts him his remaining century. Then ensues a mission to dismantle the system built on the wealthy’s notion that “for few to be immortal, many must die.” Having the skills of his deceased father, a notorious “time-fighter,” stolen the daughter of a man worth eons, and the “minutemen” and “timekeeper” pursuing them only adds to the challenge. 

The movie is a decent length and plays on the real-world ideology that “time is money,” which makes for a script laced with entertaining double entendres. It does a fair job with the characters. Sylvia, for one, is given a realistic starter personality, allowing for decent character development. This plays a part in executing a slight enemies-to-lovers trope which develops into an even more captivating Bonnie and Clyde dynamic. That being said, Justin Timberlake’s lead called for more charisma and intimidation at certain points. The central relationship needed more authentication, perhaps in the form of little accidental intimacies that distinguish the initial trope and the fate of a certain antagonist. This feels like neglect of an impactful actor and a potentially epiphany-like character development. 

Ultimately, the way In Time cleverly merges two fundamentals and is otherwise compelling—the action, romance, and sprinkle of humour—makes it completely worth experiencing. For ages 14+, I definitely recommend it. 

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Death Prefers Blondes

by Caleb Roehrig

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig

Margo Manning is a socalite by day, but something very different by night. When the sun goes down, her and her heist team of drag queens race against the clock to pull off high stakes heists. They think they have their strategies down pat, until one job sends them over the edge and creates a whirl wind they have trouble escaping.

All of the sudden, all their lives are turned upside down, and they must work together to figure out how to end the threat once and for all. Behind the action, Margo is experiencing devastating grief, an absent mother and a family friend who is up to no good.

An exhilarating, genuine and action packed novel, Caleb has written a book both endearing and dangerous.

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Veronica Roth

Allegiant is the final instalment in Veronica Roth’s captivating Divergent Trilogy. After the fall of vicious Jeanine Matthews and the release of the Edith Prior video, a new sense of panic has reined over the city. Evelyn and her band of Factionless are taking over and destroying the faction system. Through all these events the video of her ancestor is haunting Tris, and to uncover the truth she will have to venture far beyond the walls of their city. As Tris, Tobias, and their friends escape outside the walls of their city, they are faced with uncharted dangers. The new world outside isn’t any better and what they find out once they got there was better left unfound. Tris’s connection to her mother is stronger than ever while her search for answers leads her to find some shocking truths. Tobias’s world shits as he meets others in the new world. They all struggle to find out the truths the outside world is hiding in order to save a future that might already have no hope. Tris must define sacrifice in her own terms and figure out what love truly means to her.

This novel is the perfect finale for this dystopian series. It will shock you with a new twist around every corner and exciting action in every chapter. You will instantly be submerged in this exhilarating trilogy and make Tris’s journey your own. With true to life emotions filling this book, you will feel for the characters and support them all the way through until the end. Veronica Roth captivates the readers as she invites them to enter the world of the Divergent. -Anaya M.

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Veronica Roth

Insurgent is the second book the action-packed Divergent series by Veronica Roth. After the events of the Divergent, Tris is struggling to cope with all that she has lost. As the aftermath of the war is cooling down, Tris is on the run from Erudite extremists, and she must hide for her life while still trying to uncover the war’s purpose. A fight this grand doesn’t happen without purpose, and Tris and Tobias are determined to find out what is hidden from the eyes of the public. They both frantically search all they can to discover what lies behind the walls which cage their city. But that won’t be easy because whatever it is, Erudite is willing to kill to protect it. In this never-ending chase, Tris must resist the urge to join her parents, and truly learn the meaning of sacrifice and how much she means, which is not easy when you have the guilt of your past mistakes haunting over you. Will Tris be able to complete her mission or will the torment of the past envelop her soul?

Veronica Roth does a fantastic job presenting this story to the reader, and she has you engaged by page one. Tris’s story is captivating and still relatable at the same time. When we see Tris faced with guilt and loneliness, it is easy to relate and cheer her on. The Divergent series is a must read, especially if you enjoy dystopian novels and strong female protagonists. While hunting for answers, you’ll discover her messed up world may be more than what there were looking for and Roth will keep you on the edge of your seat while reading this extraordinary tale. – Ananya M.

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Veronica Roth

Beatrice Prior, a 16-year-old girl, is no different from other teenagers in her city, except that she is hiding a terrible secret. In her world, all who turn 16 must undergo the choosing ceremony to settle on one of five factions. Bravery, selflessness, honesty, kindness, and knowledge are what each value and whatever you chose you must defend before your blood and family. Beatrice’s deadly secret that she is divergent could destroy her and her family, she doesn’t fit in one faction, but multiple! Her choices are what is keeping her alive, and she must adjust to the new life she chooses. But this can be difficult when evil is being planned right behind your back. Everything has changed in this new life of hers, even her name. Tris, her new set of friends, and a mysterious instructor named Four must join together before all they know and love is lost.

When you start reading you will be swept away into this new world. Veronica Roth has done a great job captivating her readers and truly enveloping them into the text. This extraordinary YA novel has it all, from an intriguing dystopian plot, thrilling action, intense suspense, and touching love. You’ll have no trouble forming a connection with Tris as she battles for the truth of her divergence and unlocks the secrets that have caged them all. Unravel the true meaning of family, sacrifice, bravery, and love through this phenomenal dystopian novel and the mysterious world created by Veronica Roth. – Ananya M.

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The Falls

Eric Walters

Fifteen-year-old Jay Hunter has but one goal in life: to get out of the Falls. Life in the blue-collar tourist town doesn’t hold much promise for a teenage boy. But all that begins to change when his mother reveals a remarkable family history: Jay’s great-grandfather was one of the most famous river men who ever lived, saving people who’d jumped into the Falls, even going over the Falls himself numerous times. Suddenly, life in Niagara Falls holds new meaning for Jay—and a new challenge.

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