The widely anticipated “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” opens in theaters on Dec. 20. Disney and Lucasfilm have said this is the end of the “Skywalker Saga.”
The “Skywalker Saga” is all of the episodic Star Wars films produced up until this point.
Beginning with the adventures of Luke, Han and Leia, then the prequel trilogy focusing on Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme, the sequel trilogy finally wraps up starring Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn and Poe.
With such a monumental nerd chapter coming to a close, here are my full Star Wars movie rankings—including the anthology films—and a quick predictions section for “The Rise of Skywalker.”
10. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Bogged down by a force-fed love story between Anakin and Padme, “Attack of the Clones” is filled with poor acting and head-scratching story decisions. Obi-Wan’s arc is easily the best part.
9. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Remove Jar Jar Binks and this would still probably rank ninth on my list. In one movie, George Lucas ruined everything we thought we knew about the Force and turned Darth Vader into a whiny little kid. We do, however, get one of the best lightsaber fights ever between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gonn Ginn and Darth Maul (shoutout to the music “Duel of the Fates” playing).
8. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Finally, we get to see Anakin become Darth Vader. Oh wait, maybe we didn’t want to see little Ani mercilessly kill younglings. In all honesty, this is probably the only prequel that I enjoy watching out of the three, mainly because there is real emotion when they execute Order 66. Also, the final fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan does pull at a few of my heartstrings.
7. Solo: A Star Wars Story
This may seem like I am ranking this movie low, but I actually enjoy “Solo.” The story, characters and action sequences are all enjoyable but it doesn’t provide any unforgettable moments in my opinion. While Alden Ehrenreich does the best he can playing Han Solo, my biggest problem with this movie is that he’s not Harrison Ford. Obviously, it would be impossible for Ford to play this aged character now but that just makes me question if we really needed this movie at all.
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
This is exactly what a “Star Wars story” should be: a well-crafted story around likable characters that we grow to quickly love throughout the film. We only see one lightsaber (the one and only Darth Vader’s) and it is one of the best scenes in Star Wars history. Not only does this movie perfectly lead into “A New Hope,” but it provides us with the “wow” factor we all crave when journeying to a galaxy far, far away.
5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
This was nearly placed at number six on my list, but despite all the movie does wrong, the super sweaty, gasping-for-air moments in this movie give it the nod over “Rogue One.” Kylo Ren, also known as Ben Solo, is my favorite character of the new trilogy and I love everything he does in this movie. All of the moments between him and Rey are great (#TeamReylo), and their brief team-up against Snoke’s guards is pure Star Wars bliss.
4. Star Wars: A New Hope
Back where it all began. The teaching between Obi-Wan and Luke learning what the Force is, our first appearance of Han and Chewbacca, Darth Vader force-choking his subordinates and the beginnings of an iconic friendship between Luke, Han and Leia. The original Star Wars film will always hold a special place in our little nerd hearts.
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Some take points off for being very similar to “A New Hope” but I absolutely love “The Force Awakens,” even with the blatant copying. Star Killer Base was a misfire. However, seeing a Storm Trooper—Finn—go rogue, being introduced to the best pilot in the resistance—Poe—and meeting our midi-chlorian-filled scavenger Rey are all great character moments and sets the foundation for the next three movies. Also, Han (rest in peace), Chewy and Leia are heavily featured and it feels like a dream come true.
2. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
I do not mind the Ewoks. Inject the throne scene between the Emperor, Vader and Luke directly into my veins. Next.
1. Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
If this isn’t your favorite Star Wars movie are you really even a Star Wars fan? Some of the best elements are the battle of Hoth, Luke training with Yoda and Lando Calrissian and Cloud City. This movie also has some of the best moments of dialogue, including the moment between Han and Leia where she proclaims her love for him and he simply responds, “I know.”
There’s also this iconic exchange between Luke and Vader:
Luke: I’ll never join you!
Vader: If only you knew the power of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
Luke: He told me enough! He told me you killed him!
Vader: No, I am your father.
The Rise of Skywalker questions/predictions:
- How and why is the Emperor back?
- Who was Snoke?
- How do they handle Leia?
- Kylo and Rey team up in the end to fight the Emperor.
- Kylo dies in the end.
- Rey, Finn and Poe all survive.
- We see Hayden Christensen reprise his role as Anakin Skywalker in the form of a Force ghost.
Evans Library embraced the Gothic style of Edgar Allen Poe on Nov. 1 for the most recent Reel Reads event, “Poe’s Spooktacular Tales: From Page to Scream.”
Reel Reads is a literature and film series hosted by Florida Tech’s School of Arts and Communication.
Poe established himself as a notable writer and editor in the mid-19th century, according to the Academy of American Poets.
“It’s a great tie-in to do it around Halloween,” said Debbie Lelekis, an English professor at Florida Tech. “Edgar Allen Poe was a natural selection for that.”
He was also prolific in the Gothic horror genre. Lelekis, along with fellow English professors Melissa Crofton and Angela Tenga, presented an analysis of Poe’s works and their modern adaptations.
During the analysis, Crofton explained that Poe’s works often resonates with her students.
The professors then opened the floor for audience members to speak about their personal interest in Poe’s work or how they discovered him.
“He exposes us for what humans fear,” Lelekis said regarding the value of Poe’s works. “We can make connections to our own lives.”
Poe’s presence in modern pop culture was a focus of the panel.
Clips were shown of Netflix’s “Altered Carbon,” a series that features an artificially intelligent character modeled after Poe.
A trailer for “The Raven,” a 2012 film where Poe is portrayed by John Cusack, was also shown.
In the film, Poe must work to prevent a serial killer from recreating the deaths from his literary works.
“The Cask of Amontillado” is one of those works, a story of one man taking fatal revenge on a friend he believes has wronged him.
Cheryl Davis, Evans Library’s distance learning librarian, took to the podium twice to read excerpts from “The Cask of Amontillado.”
Victoria Smith, Evans’ resource sharing specialist, gave a reading of “The Raven.”
“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,” she began the poetry reading in a resonant tone.
In pop culture, many of the details of Poe’s personal life are disputed, leaving many aspects of his biography unclear.
“I think most of his stories intrigue people partly because of [that] mystery surrounding Poe himself,” Lelekis said.
She said that his works help people to examine human nature.
“It helps us understand ourselves better, which is something everyone needs to do no matter what your major is or what your career path is,” Lelekis said.
The Walt Disney Company is coming for us all.
Swiftly after Disney bought out 21st Century Fox for a cool $71.3 billion— feel free to meditate on that number a bit—they are now launching their own streaming service.
This is a continuation of the recent trend towards streaming subscription services like Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime and many more.
Disney+ has a lot of factors working in its favor, specifically price, audience and future.
Disney+ costs $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year— $5.83 per month.
In August, Disney announced that if you sign up for the D23 Official Disney Fan Club, you could sign up for a three-year commitment for just $140.97.
That’s $46.99 per year or $3.92 per month. Demand for the offer reportedly caused so much traffic that the D23 website temporarily crashed.
The chart below shows how Disney+ stacks up against competing streaming services.
The lack of variety in packages, I believe, is a benefit for Disney+.
Alternatively, Disney is offering a package of Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu with ads for just $12.99.
In May, Disney acquired Comcast’s one-third stake in Hulu and took full control of the streaming service.
This three-service package by Disney is a power move and clearly is targeted at competing with Netflix’s $12.99 standard price.
So why would anyone choose Disney+ exclusively over Netflix?
The fundamental flaw with Disney+ is that they will only offer Disney’s own properties.
Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with that, but it may not be for everyone.
On the other hand, with the acquisition of Fox, their library of content now contains properties like “The Simpsons,” “Home Alone” and the original Star Wars trilogy, to name a few.
Speaking of Star Wars, if you’re a fan of the franchise Disney+ is a must.
“The Mandalorian,” a brand new Star Wars show, is available on Disney+ from launch.
As a huge Star Wars fan, I cannot wait for this show to begin; it will be the first thing I watch on Disney+.
If you’re like me and love Star Wars, you may also enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Again, if you’re an MCU fan, Disney+ is crucial to have. Not only will their movies be slowly rolling out onto the service, but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has announced eight Disney+ exclusive shows.
Feige has made it clear that these new shows hold equal weight to the movies.
As a Marvel superfan, it would be virtually impossible to not subscribe. So what about those who aren’t sweating over every word that Feige utters?
Anyone watch the Disney Channel growing up?
Not only are classics like “High School Musical,” “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody” and “That’s So Raven” going to be available on the new service, but a continuation of “Lizzie McGuire” exclusively on Disney+ is in the works.
The 6-year-old me that truly believed he was going to marry Hillary Duff is very excited about this new series.
Honestly, the array of Disney Channel Original movies and shows that were going to be available from day one may have been worth the price for me solely based on nostalgia.
Speaking of nostalgia, Disney classic animated movies such as “The Lion King,” “Mulan,” “Beauty and the Beast” and more will be unvaulted and neatly stored in Disney+.
For anyone with kids or if you are a kid trapped in an adult’s body like me, the $6.99 a month will probably be well worth it.
If you’re into more PG-13 and above rated material, Disney+ may not be the service for you.
This is Disney after all, so if you want to watch horror movies or raunchy comedies, just keep mooching off your ex’s Netflix account.
This category may be Disney+’s greatest strength.
The streaming service is going to be very reliant on old shows and movies upon release, but over the next few years, it will become overflowing with original and exclusive content.
Disney properties up until this point have lived on places like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
The launch of Disney+ doesn’t just add new competition with new content, it weakens its direct competitors.
I would be surprised if Netflix doesn’t lower its price sometime in the near future, as they are going to have to rely more and more on original content to stay afloat.
Disney+ is going to have an immediate impact on the streaming service world, especially due to the prices and ranges of people that may be interested.
It appears Disney’s strategy is to get as many people as possible signed up from the beginning; then in probably two to three years bump the price up just like we’ve seen with Netflix and Hulu.
So, my advice is to enjoy Disney+ now while it’s price feels more like an add-on payment, rather than having to cut ties with another service.
The present and future of home entertainment lie within streaming services and Disney+ may soon change the entire industry.
Adolescence is well-documented in music as the time in our lives that we are stuck in Whatever-town, USA, feeling invincible.
The one thing that’s harder to write music about is what comes next: our early 20s.
Nine Inch Nails’ “Pretty Hate Machine” details this phase of life with vulnerable lyrical content laid over a foundation of alternative rock and—perhaps more unexpectedly—80s dance music.
The album just turned 30 this October, and it’s as powerful as ever.
By the time we hit our 20s, we are much more free to choose where we are and what we do, yet we can still get lost in the search for our identities.
We may not know what it is we want to do, and we may struggle to understand why the people or forces in our lives do what they do.
While “Pretty Hate Machine” doesn’t answer these questions, it certainly details that confusion, and the personal growth that comes with it, with refreshing poignancy.
For the sake of cathartic listening, that might be more important than answers. “Really, ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ was born from tinkering around in the studio at night,” frontman Trent Reznor told Kory Grow of Rolling Stone in 2019.
Reznor was the sole official member of the band until the addition of English musician and composer Atticus Ross in 2016.
The pair are longtime collaborators, with much of their work consisting of film scoring.
They won the Oscar for “Best Original Score” in 2010 for “The Social Network.”
“I was up above it/now I’m down in it.”
The “it” in “Pretty Hate Machine’s” debut single, “Down In It,” is never specified, but there are plenty of high places in life that one can come crashing down from.
The so-very-80s dance beat contrasts with the themes of loss of identity and change, which come to a head in the concluding lyric: “And what I used to think was me, is just a fading memory/I looked him right in the eye and said goodbye.”
A debut album is a special thing. It exists without any expectations based on previous albums or a band’s public persona; there’s a unique honesty to a first album.
Reznor touched on this honesty in the same Rolling Stone interview: “Once I got over the hump of, ‘I could never say that out loud to other people,’ there was an authenticity and truthfulness that I think resonated.”
It must have resonated, as nine full-length albums later, the band is 13-time Grammy nominated, and is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee for the third time.
The album itself was remastered and repackaged in 2010.
Those following albums from Nine Inch Nails show no hesitation on personal or controversial subjects.
This initial pursuit of authenticity on “Pretty Hate Machine” opened the door for more aggressive albums like its 1994 successor, “The Downward Spiral,” and its themes of identity and one’s relationship with the world are prominent in 2004’s “With Teeth.”
And just as the album must have come, in part, out of the sounds of bands like Depeche Mode, its influence can be heard today—in some surprising places.
In 2019, the Netflix series “Black Mirror” featured a pop remix of opening track “Head Like a Hole” performed by Miley Cyrus.
Rapper Ghostemane’s 2018 album “N/O/I/S/E” echoes “Pretty Hate Machine” in synth selections and lyrical content. “Pretty Hate Machine” endures as the first glimpse into the influential industrial project Nine Inch Nails would become.
This album came out before Nine Inch Nails found their fame, and before Reznor and Ross became awardwinning film composers.
It is the work of a 20-something guy working as a janitor at a recording studio, figuring out who he was as a songwriter.
As 20-somethings figuring out who we are in our own lives, “Pretty Hate Machine” is a powerful work of music.
During a recent interview with Empire, beloved Director Martin Scorsese called comic book movies, specifically Marvel, “not cinema.”
He went on to say the best comparison for them is theme parks.
Instead of writing a thousand words on how these comments are ridiculous and Scorsese is just a grumpy old man (trust me, I almost went there), I have been able to take a step back and have come to a conclusion. Who cares?
I’m not backing down as a Marvel superfan, nor am I trying to discredit Scorsese’s opinion.
Cinema can be defined simply as movies or motion pictures, but a secondary definition according to Meriam-Webster Dictionary is, “the art or technique of making motion pictures.”
This seems to be the definition Scorsese meant when critiquing comic book movies.
Later during his interview with Empire, he explained his stance, saying, “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
Now while I do not agree, I understand.
Scorsese is basically trying to say Marvel movies rely too much on the big explosions, computer graphics and lighthearted comedy to be considered real cinema.
Scorsese also admitted to not watching Marvel movies despite trying.
While this is clearly an outsider’s point of view looking in, the nine-time Academy Award nominee’s opinions still hold great weight—enough so that the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr. and Natalie Portman defended Marvel movies as cinema.
Unfortunately, fellow iconic director Francis Ford Coppola went one step too far when adding onto Scorsese’s comments.
In an interview with Yahoo! Coppola said that Scorsese “was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”
Grumpy old man alert! He explained why he agreed that Marvel movies aren’t cinema.
“We expect to learn something from cinema,” Coppola said. “We expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration.”
Nerd alert incoming! Inspiration?
These movies inspire, especially children, to use their gifts for the greater good.
For example, Peter Parker (oh no, here he goes again) was just a nerdy teen trying to work his way through school.
He didn’t seek his great power, but once he had it, he took on the great responsibility.
He used his gifts to help and protect his community.
The point wasn’t that he could lift a car or climb walls—it was that he was given amazing abilities and how he used them was all that mattered.
We may not be able to swing through New York City or stop a speeding train, but we all have our own gifts and they only matter if we use them to the best of our abilities.
To be frank, Mr. Coppola, I was a pretty freaking inspired six-year-old watching Spider-Man 2 on repeat.
So the question is, why the sudden bashing of the incredibly successful Marvel movies that have recently been released?
Well, I think that is exactly it: Marvel movies are insanely successful. Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” is the highest-grossing film of all time, bringing in just under $2.8 billion.
They have also had an effect on the rest of the industry, especially genre films.
For example, Marvel Studios began adding post credit scenes to their films to get fans excited for the next film and keeping the excitement levels always to the max.
In August’s action film “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” there were four post-credit scenes teasing the next installment.
Even Scorsese’s much anticipated film, “The Irishman,” coming out in November of this year has been affected.
The movie is in partnership with Netflix and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly Scorsese said that the $159 million project “was very difficult to get made the past 10 years, and for many different reasons.”
Scorsese is even using de-aging technology in his new film. This part-incredible, part scary computer graphics effect has been previously used in Marvel Studios’ “Captain Marvel” and “Captain America: Civil War.”
Times are certainly changing in the film industry and I think generational directors like Scorsese and Coppola, who have been creating major motion pictures for nearly 60 years, may feel threatened.
It was clearly not a cakewalk for Scorsese to get his latest project funded and Coppola still hasn’t begun official production of “Megalopolis.”
Deadline reported that Coppola described “Megalopolis” as “usual” and said, “It will be a production on a grand scale with a large cast.”
Interesting, grand scale and large cast … where have I seen that before?
Nevertheless, the film industry has changed rapidly over the past 10 Avengers filled years and there’s no sign of it stopping.
The great Robert Downey Jr. put it in the best way possible while on The Howard Stern Show.
“When you come in like a stomping beast and you eliminate the competition in such a demonstrative way, it’s phenomenal,” Downey said.
So who cares if Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola think that Marvel movies aren’t cinema?
They are more entitled to their own opinions than practically anyone else in the film industry, but actions speak louder than words and money speaks even louder than that.
This never needed to become a viral story, because it is what it is and none of this means that we as Marvel fans should enjoy The Avengers any less.
We also shouldn’t have to feel like traitors for watching “Shutter Island” or “The Godfather.”
At the end of the day, the movie industry is changing and evolving, just as it has over the past 100 years, and there’s nothing you, me or Martin Scorsese can do about it.
This year’s carnival offered free beer, food and entertainment to the Florida Tech community.
Food trucks gathered in front of Crawford Green on Oct. 26., offering SMAC and El Cubanito, frozen chocolate bananas, and Meg O Malleys, a new addition to this year’s carnival.
Cat Nanney, director of student involvement, said she was pleased with the turnout of the event.
“It was the best year of homecoming we’ve ever had, even with the new beer garden for parents to join in on the fun,” said Nanney. “We decided this year to put more money toward merchandise that students can walk away with but still wanted to bring those fun carnival games.”
A homecoming shirt and a cloth bag were given out to students for free, as well as food tickets for the food trucks on the field.
Other than typical carnival games run by Residence Life, a new addition was a laser tag tent across from the beer garden.
“A lot of people showed up at this event this year,” Nanney said. “There were over 700 students that checked in, and we had to stop for a while due to the overflow of people.”
Families and parents were invited to the carnival due to Florida Tech family weekend occurring.
Alexandra Abova-Volkova, homecoming chair, said she had a good experience organizing the event, as well as the other events that occurred during the week.
“This is a larger turnout than it has been in the past years and the addition of a beer garden might have contributed to it,” said Volkova. “Although the activities at the football game were rained out, all the other events went smooth, even the talent show.”
The homecoming royalty winners were announced near the end of the carnival, as well as winners of a raffle.
Campus Activities Board and Phi Sigma Sigma won the royalty in first place, Alpha Phi and Baseball Club won second place and Delta Tau Delta and Residence Life came in third place.
Students such as Ivan Hernandez, a sophomore in computer science, won a Nintendo Switch for winning in the raffle.
“I didn’t even know how to react about it because I never win anything like that,” Hernandez said. “I had a really fun time hanging out with my fellow drumline members, and by far the best moment last night was the picture booth since we got to keep those memories.”
Even with the variety of food stations, some students like Erisa Hasanl, a Florida Tech alum, said they wanted more activities to take part in.
“It was much better last year,” said Hasanl. “There were more bouncy houses and games, but now there’s a lot of food for a lot of people. It felt like an actual carnival before.”
Hasanl also mentioned that the grass on the fields were very wet and difficult to walk across due to the rain earlier in the day.
Despite the mixed reaction, Volkova said it was a great experience for her to help run the homecoming events this year.
“Even though I’m graduating next semester and won’t be able to stay on the committee, I’m excited to see what Sam will do for next year,” Volkova said.
After being pushed back a day due to heavy rain, Halloween came early at Florida Tech and for the whole community with Treat or Treat.
With a large turnout in the hundreds, Florida Tech’s ResLife hosted the annual event on Sunday, Oct.20 with attractions ranging from haunted houses based on popular movies, bounce houses, a pumpkin patch and a costume contest.
With the previous day having a downpour of rain during the event’s time from 2:00–6:00, the last-minute decision to send out an email detailing the delay on Friday, Oct. 18 proved to be the right call.
Compared to the dour and dreary Saturday, the event itself benefitted with a sunny day and nice breeze as attendees stood in lines for the haunted houses.
Five haunted houses were set-up in the residential quads with the following themes: Enchanted Forest, Blue Genie, Men in Black Suits, Jurassic Land, and Scary Clown.
While the houses went by other names, they followed themes of popular movies such as “Aladin,” “Men in Black,” “Jurassic Park,” and Stephen King’s “It.”
“We’ve actually been working on all of this for the last two months,” said Alex Smith, a student volunteer. “With the logistics phase, designing, planning and getting the volunteers all together, it took about two months.”
Smith said that all of the RAs on campus volunteered during the event, helping out with every component of Treat or Treat.
“We were looking out for the safety of the people in the community,” Smith said when asked about the delay. “We wanted to make sure that it was nice, safe and fun for everyone by pushing it back a day.”
All of the houses were set up over the course of the week prior while the day of the event drew closer and closer.
“When it comes down to that last week of setting up, it’s all hands on deck with everyone running around,” said McKenzie Stack, residence life coordinator.
Stack said that with how much work it takes to get the event up and running, there were many last-minute trips to Walmart and decisions made to ensure the event’s success.
She also said that this was the first time Treat or Treat utilized the SUB area for the event and included food trucks, both of which worked out great in her opinion.
“It was a whole lot better than I thought it would be,” said Yajing Liu, a graduate student. “The settings were incredibly amazing. I can see the efforts and the students trying their best to present a good show.”
Liu said his favorite haunted house was the one in Evans Hall, called “Scary Clown.”
This house was based on “It” and was Liu’s favorite mainly for its scares.
The “Scary Clown” house was also the favorite for Kendall Willwerth, a freshman studying genomics and molecular genetics.
“There was actually a person standing in a yellow coat that I thought was a mannequin and when I walked by, they started following me and I was really scared,” Willwerth said. “The clowns were also very creepy.”
She said it was a lot of fun and she had a great time attending.
Despite the setback due to weather, many attended Treat or Treat and inspired Liu to celebrate in the future.
“Maybe next time I’ll try to put a costume on for the very first time and celebrate Halloween,” Liu said.
Florida Tech’s Street Dance Club was spotted not once, but twice on this year’s homecoming talent show podium stage.
Taking home gold in overall performance was the Street Dance Club’s individual performance, but they also came in second place for lip-sync through their partnership with Lambda Chi.
Beating SDC and Lambda Chi in the lip sync competition was Campus Activity Board and Phi Sigma with their satirical piece to songs from Moana, Aladdin and Lizzy McGuire.
They highlighted changes that have occurred since the founding of the university, such as the rebranding.
They also poked fun at landmarks such as the atomic toilet and the Crawford Tower.
On Oct. 24, 11 groups of students and organizations put on a show for their peers, showcasing their talents, performing lip-sync or both.
“I don’t usually come to events like this, but I very much enjoyed it,” said Samir Kazi, a senior. “Everybody is just having fun, and it really brings the homecoming spirit out of us.”
A wide variety of talents were seen throughout the show, such as the exotic performance by the Belly Dance Club, acapella take on The Pina Colada Song from the Players in Harmony and jazzy swing dance brought by the Swing Dance Club.
“It’s really interesting to see people you know performing on stage,” said George Rodney, a senior. “You really don’t know what tricks they have hidden up their sleeves when in school, and I’m glad that they can have opportunities like this to express themselves and have fun at the same time.”
Other group performances also stood out as many greek life organizations paired with other clubs or athletic teams to best address the theme of “Bringin’ It Home.”
Some pieces featured “International Love” by Pitbull performed by the women’s swim team and Chi Phi, as well as “Promiscuous Girl” performed by Pi Kappa Alpha and women’s volleyball.
Furthermore, Alpha Tau Omega and the cheerleading team had a mixed musical, ballet and cheerleading along with their lip-syncing performance to hype up the crowd.
Anthony Roberts, a sophomore, said, “I wish that the show was a little longer and more people would participate. It’s really entertaining to watch and I almost can’t get enough of it.”
While the talent show was the sixth event of homecoming week, it allowed students to come out and support each other as well as provide comic relief for some and showcase the talent of others.
“Joker” by Todd Phillips is a work of art and deserves tremendous respect and praise.
With that being said, film is subjective and this film, in particular, has been under fire for its representation of mental illness and violence.
Today, I want to discuss this wave of controversy, share my thoughts on the matter and why I believe “Joker” does a lot more good than bad.
Brief History Lesson
In 2012, during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora Colorado, James Holmes set off tear gas grenades and fired his gun at the audience. Twelve people died and 70 were injured.
The Joker wasn’t featured in that film, but it was coming off the heels of 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” where Heath Ledger plays the Joker.
Ledger died due to a drug overdose before “The Dark Knight” was released in theaters.
His performance was so impactful that he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2009.
It is still devastating to think that Ledger never got to see how loved and adored his portrayal of Batman’s most famous antagonist was and still is to this day.
Fast forward to 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” where Jared Leto took his turn as The Clown Prince of Crime.
I personally didn’t hate his performance as much as many people and even found myself wishing he was in the movie more.
With that being said, Leto’s Joker isn’t even near the same league as Ledger’s and now Phoenix’s.
The Real Dark Phoenix
Now before I open that can of worms, no, I am not going to debate whether Ledger or Phoenix had the better Joker (maybe another time).
But the fact that Phoenix has a real case for having a better performance than Ledger’s now-iconic portrayal is significant in its own right.
There were moments while watching “Joker” where I thought to myself, “This is the best acting I’ve ever seen” by the great Joaquin Phoenix.
Now upon further reflection and seeing the movie again, I can confidently say Phoenix should be nominated for Best Lead Actor at the Academy Awards.
I don’t want to say he should win without seeing the other performances that will be nominated, but I honestly doubt anyone will be as good this year.
Phoenix put his mind, soul and body into this performance and it’s so apparent on screen.
Firstly and most obviously, he lost 52 pounds for the role and in a recent interview on The Jimmy Kimmel show Phoenix said, “It is difficult at times, but then there is something very empowering about it as well.”
This, in a sense, perfectly describes his acting in this film.
Phoenix is able to get into the bruised and battered head of his character Arthur Fleck with what feels like such ease.
Alright, enough beating around the bush—full “Joker” spoilers time.
Leave now and come back after you’ve seen the film or stay and enjoy the sweat.
Phoenix reportedly studied people who suffered from pseudobulbar affect, or PBA.
PBA causes those that suffer from it to have sudden outbursts of uncontrollable laughing, crying or both.
While doing research for this article, I watched a few videos of real-life people who suffer from PBA and it is stunning how well Phoenix was able to mimic this condition.
Whereas when someone normally laughs it comes from a place of joy, this is the exact opposite; it is normally triggered by an uncomfortable situation and can lead to embarrassment, social isolation, distress and depression.
Those are all emotions and conditions Arthur is depicted as suffering from in “Joker.”
It is never explicitly said what exact conditions Arthur has in the movie, but we do learn that he uses seven different medications and suffered significant head trauma as a child.
Arthur even has a card he carries with him that says, “It’s a medical condition causing sudden, frequent, uncontrollable laughter that doesn’t match how you feel. It can happen in people with a brain injury or certain neurological conditions.”
Abuse, isolation, neglect and early loss of a parent are all linked to real-world cases of mental illness and Arthur suffers through all of these in this film.
Phillips does a great job of using laughter as a tool, not just a character flaw.
We see Arthur painfully laugh at the worst moments; a few scenes particularly stuck out for me.
In one of these scenes, Arthur is trying to make a young boy laugh by making funny faces and playing peekaboo.
The boy’s mother tells Arthur to stop bothering her kid, and after the rude interruption of Arthur’s innocent act, he breaks into laughter.
A loud, pained, uncontrollable laugh leads to our first look at his aforementioned card that explains his condition.
This is our first time as the audience seeing the laugh in public at full strength, and it is terribly uncomfortable but makes us feel great sympathy for Arthur.
The next pivotal laughing scene is the turning point of the movie.
After being fired from his job, Arthur is on the subway heading home and three seemingly drunk men are bothering a woman on the subway.
Arthur takes notice of this and between the mixture of his despair from his job and the awkwardness of the situation, he busts out in his troubled laugh.
The three guys now direct their attention to Arthur, get uncomfortably close and then begin to fight.
Arthur is overpowered and is repeatedly kicked while laying on the ground (a callback to one of the first scenes in the movie).
This time Arthur fights back, pulls out his gun and proceeds to shoot and kill all three men that night.
We see Arthur’s first real Joker moment, a sudden lethal outburst that he embraces.
Nearing the end of the film, Arthur gives the chilling line, “I used to think my life was a tragedy, but now I realize it’s a comedy.”
From that point on you see him embrace the laugh and finally have a little bit of control over it for the first time.
You even see Arthur become more comfortable in his own skin as he falls further into darkness.
The most comfortable you ever see Arthur is when he’s on the Murray Franklin Show with full Joker makeup on and in a very familiar purple suit.
Laughing is no longer his enemy.
Is Joker a Hero?
The murder of three Wayne Enterprise employees by “a guy in a clown mask” is what triggers the street dwellers of Gotham to fight the wealthy and also raises an interesting question I wanted to discuss.
On one of the newspapers that wrote about the shooting, they question if the masked killer was a vigilante.
As a nerd, this was a cool Easter egg as Batman is often times marked a vigilante by the police and media.
In one of Arthur’s fake memories (more on these later) of a date with Sophie (Zazie Beetz), she says that she thinks the person who killed those guys is a hero.
I interpret this as Arthur solidifying to himself that his actions had good ramifications.
This is one of the examples that show the audience how unreliable Arthur is as a narrator.
The other key example is when Arthur imagines himself on the Murray Franklin show while watching with his mother.
Nevertheless, no matter Arthur’s unreliability, he performs terrible acts throughout this film.
So the short answer is no, he’s not a hero, even though we sympathize with him.
Arthur is a tortured character who even says he’s never had a truly happy moment in his life.
Despite repeatedly being thrown in the trash and gut-punched (literally and figuratively) by society, there is no excuse for Arthur’s actions.
We see him kill six people in the movie and Sophie’s fate wasn’t confirmed, so the kill count could be even higher.
Despite his condition and set of circumstances, there is no excuse for his actions and because of this, of course, he’s not a hero.
The Big Controversy
Now the big talk heading into the film’s release date was that it glorifies both mental illness and violence, with the fear being that this movie may inspire violent acts, much like Arthur/Joker does by the end.
In a time where mass shootings have become a regularity, I understand why people may feel like there’s no place for this movie right now.
I personally have a different opinion on its message.
I think if anything, this movie shows us how we need to treat mental illness and how serious it really is.
Any mental illness should not be ignored, laughed at or overlooked. “Joker” shows us an extreme case that leads to mass violence, but I think it is trying to tell us this is a feasible thing that could happen, and maybe already is happening. One of the best parts of this movie is just how real it feels.
We only ever seen Gotham from a street-level view.
Every punch, kick, gunshot, death, laughing attack all feel completely real; no “movie magic” here.
I could understand someone having a different opinion than me on the subject, but I think that’s another part of this movie that’s so great: It is extremely fun to talk about and it’s impossible to not have an opinion after watching it.
This movie is not a horror film—it is a horrific film.
Its intent is not to scare you, it just wants to show what could happen to someone with severe mental illness when society rejects them despite their best efforts.
I can’t imagine anyone in this role instead of Phoenix, and if he’s not at least nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards, I will write a 3000- word Nerd News column on how the system is completely corrupt.
While I want to say the same for whether “Joker” is nominated for Best Picture, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is snubbed because of how divisive it is amongst critics and fans.
Despite the mixed reactions, I believe Phillips completely shook off the idea that he can only direct comedy after directing “The Hangover” trilogy.
He creates the most grounded Gotham City in the history of cinema and tells a great character driven story that makes the audience sympathize with one of the most famous comic book villains of all time.
I almost feel guilty about how much I enjoyed this movie. It is two hours of seat shifting, shock, heartbreak and one of the most chilling scores to a movie I have ever heard.
I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to see it a third and fourth time in theaters.
So did you make it all the way through? Be honest, I know you skipped some of my over analysis of his laugh, but c’mon, the laugh is one of the driving forces behind the movie! A freaking laugh!