Movie Analysis: Us

From theories to simple little details being pointed out by other viewers of the film, I felt a giddiness at seeing my thoughts connected with others’ speculations while at the same time I slapped my forehead at something I hadn’t noticed before.

Being one to mentally break down a story to its molecular core and values, I found that my thoughts on Jordan Peele’s, Us, were so intertwining with much speculation that it needed to be put to words. From theories to simple little details being pointed out by other viewers of the film, I felt a giddiness at seeing my thoughts connected with others’ speculations while at the same time I slapped my forehead at something I hadn’t noticed before but did now after being told. Four years of Media Studies in college has prepare for this moment. 
I don’t have a real format or set outline for this analysis, this is, simply put, my thoughts being put into words, I have no idea which way I am going with this but I am hoping it will make sense in the end. 

Adelaide and Red

For the sake of my writing, I will refer to Adelaide as Adelaide despite knowing that she is not the real Adelaide. Red will also remain as Red throughout the piece.

The big question that popped into my mind after the film was if Adelaide had been aware of her being the underground copy or if she was somehow under the assumption that she was the true Adelaide the entire time? Adelaide remembered the maze of mirrors as a traumatic experience and as she and her family get closer to visiting the same beach in Santa Cruz, she has these nightmares in which she is in the maze of mirrors and sees another version of herself. She feels fear of this other person and somehow feels that she is getting closer to her, a fear come true when Jason informs her and Gabe that there is a family in their driveway. The fear is true for Adelaide, but there is still the question if she feared Red in response for forcing her to switch places with her, or if she is truly confused as to why there is another being with her face. I side with the theory of her being traumatize into forgetting or perhaps she was aware of the other girl and simply made herself believe she had been the original one in the first place. They did, after all, have a connection in which they experienced the same things; Red was at the fair physically, but Adelaide was in the underground experiencing it too. 
Red is introduced right after forcing her way into Adelaide’s living room where she begins to tell the story of the Shadow Girl living a life of terror while the girl on the surface experienced joy under a bright blue sky. She is the only one capable of speech, which we realize is due to her being the real Adelaide, but after Adelaide crushed Red’s neck in their first encounter, she is incapable of proper speech and thus sounds raspy and unpracticed in communication. During this encounter in the living room, Red forces Adelaide to cuff herself to the coffee table which reflects what Adelaide did to her when she forced her underground and handcuffed her to her bed before taking her place. There is a heavy awareness from Red and despite having lived in the underground for a long time, she lacks the animalistic instincts that the other Tethered possess and verbally notes that she remembers their first moment and desired revenge. 
Determined to survive and protect her family, Adelaide is quick to fight back and when it comes down to it, murders the Tethered of the Tylers. During these moments of aggression Adelaide releases a series of snarls and heavy breathing, seeming to lose herself for a few seconds before snapping back to reality. It is no coincidence that during the two major moments when Adelaide loses herself, her son Jason is the one to witness it, silently looking at her with a mix of uneasiness and concern. It makes you wonder if Adelaide is the innocent one in the situation. She expresses herself as a loving mother of two children, happily married to Gabe, and is living a better than average life that allows her to take trips with her family. But in order for her to be where she is, she first had to drag an innocent girl into the underground, subjecting her to the very things Adelaide wanted to leave behind in the first place. They were children, but one had been forced to live a scripted existence and when it came to it, she was filled with hate for the other girl with her face and didn’t hesitate to make the switch. There is deep battle over identity in the underground and when Adelaide takes down Red, the two engage in this form of communication through whistling, Red struggling to release the air past her pursed lips as blood comes from her mouth. Adelaide humors her as though she pitied Red in the end and is acknowledging her as being the original identity before stripping her away of it and returning to the surface with her son. 
Is Adelaide a good person? Well, is any human being a wholly good person? When society seems to so determined to create conflict whether it be by class, race, or education, we all have experienced moments that we considered ourselves as a bad person. I’d like to believe that Adelaide is the loving mother we see in the beginning but when she seems to remember her past wholly, she seems to almost smirk at recalling it, as though she remembered and now held this feeling of smugness for still having won in the end. 

Gabe and Abraham

Gabe is a man determined to be your typical cringe-worthy father figure that rakes in the dad-jokes and dabbing skills. He is clearly educated and well off financially as he is close friends with the Tyler family as well as able to take his family on trips, has a summer beach house, and even goes and purchases a boat that he eagerly shows to his family before mayhem ensues. 
His Tethered is named Abraham is a towering figure that despite seeming more animal in nature than man, presents himself as extremely curious of his surroundings and his surface dweller as he proceeds to snatch Gabe’s glasses and put them on his own face. It a show of curiosity but can also be seen as a deliberate action of stealing a key feature of Gabe’s identity and taking it for his own. Now I am not too familiar with all parts of the Bible, but I did take note in recalling that in the Bible Abraham is a character that is asked by God to leave his land. The name could be for a different reason, but after the 11:11 references in the film, I feel that this connection is likely. 
There is almost palpable sense of privilege from Gabe and the Tethered, especially when Gabe’s first instinct is to offer his captors his wallet and his newly purchased boat that Zora is quick to identify is a piece of crap. It’s also important to point out that when the Tethered appeared on their driveway, Gabe failed to ask to leave once and steps outside a second time with metal bat and seems to try and take on a different tone and try to intimidate these strangers. The attempt was obviously a failure but we see that Gabe not only seemed nervous, but more intimidated over the fact that he must now try to stay his ground despite Adelaide’s fair warning to not approach them. 
Out of all the Tethered in the film, Abraham is the most vague and is quick to be killed when he drags Gabe to the boat. It’s as if Abraham was simply there for the ride when Red led the others to the surface. He was obedient to Red, making me think back to my reference to the Abraham in the Bible, meaning that in this case, Red would be God informing him to abandon the tunnels. During Red’s fireplace story time, she explains that when Adelaide met her prince (Gabe), it meant she had to get busy with Abraham despite having no feelings for the guy, Abraham doesn’t seem too happy with their relationship either but seems obedient of Red nonetheless. 
Eventually realizing the situation (but not really), Gabe finally begins to listen to Adelaide’s warning. So now Gabe is following Adelaide, hmm, sound familiar? Gabe is now listening to Adelaide’s instructions on how to survive, making her the leader and in that moment, becoming Adelaide to Gabe as Red is to Abraham. 

Zora and Umbrae

Since I am interested in the significance of the names of the film, I’d like to point out that Zora means ‘dawn’ and that Umbrae is the latin term for ‘shadow’, meaning that Zora and Umbrae are literally identified as light and shadow. 
Zora is a track runner that doubts she will be able to make it to Olympics, though her mother is quick to inform her that anything can be done if you have enough belief in it. Which, now that I think about it, is foreshadowing the fact that she was able to switch places with Red because she wanted it enough. Zora is pretty much your typical teenage girl that gets annoyed by her little brother as immediately in distress when the wifi password isn’t presented to her fast enough. 
Now Umbrae is interesting in that she seems to be blood-thirsty from the very start and appears to enjoy hunting down Zora by giving her a head start run and then following after her at what begins as a casual walk. It is already known that Zora is a runner, but her father also informs her that she needs to run on different terrain if she wished to be a better runner; Umbrae has been running in the tunnels so she is able to catch up to Zora easily, though the wind shield wipers on the car Zora is driving seems to be new to her. Her hair is loose unlike Zora who keeps it up in a very neat bun, and her eyes have a dark shadow to them, making them seem sunken in. She is honestly the creepier one of the Tethered and even as she is dying, she is seen giggling and grinning. 

Jason and Pluto

Jason throughout the film is seen wearing a mask over his face either in moments of unease or when he simply needs to prevent any direct facial communication with others. I assume that Jason’s name and mask is a reference to the mask-wearing Jason from the classic Friday the 13th films. Jason is quiet and is considered strange, an example being when the Tyler twins straight up informed Zora that they thought Jason was weird. 
Pluto (honestly made me think of Mickey Mouse’s very own) is also seen wearing a mask though his is more of a rag stitched together and he wears it due to fire injuries covering the majority of his face. He, like the rest of the Tethered, communicate through snarls and growls, but Pluto also seems more animal than the others, acting more like Red’s pet. Red describes that when Adelaide gives birth to beautiful children, that she is forced the give birth to monsters, one needing to be cut out of her body by her own hands. 
Now a theory is that Jason and Pluto were actually switched before the contents of the film, but I feel that I can’t find any thread leading to that idea. I am however, still wondering about that scene in which Jason and Pluto mimic their actions, leading Pluto into a flaming death. Was there some significance to it? Was there something I missed since I did, after all, only see this film once so far? Most likely. But! I am going with one of my theories from my first viewing and say that Pluto is more of an animal that gets curious when it sees its own reflection in the mirror. You know the one, when your cat or dog takes a peek at their reflection, they spend long moments staring at it curiously. That scene with the burning car may just be Pluto feeling he has to do as his reflection does, ultimately backing up into a burning car. 
This still doesn’t answer the question as to why Adelaide seemed concerned when Pluto backed up into the fire, she even yelled at him to stop. The same when she watched Umbrae die, when she fully intended to kill her. It could have been her motherly instinct not wanting to watch these beings that look like her children die, or it may be that if Adelaide recalled her past, then she knows what life must have been like for Pluto and Umbrae in the underground. 
There is also the magic referenced throughout the film, from Jason’s shirt, his sparking magic trick, and the fact that the Tethered consume white rabbits in the underground, which is often associated with magic trick such as the pulling of the rabbit from the hat. 

Scattered Thoughts and Questions

These are just a random list of thoughts and questions from the film that I have to expand on.

-If the Tethered were clones that were created without possession of their own souls, does this mean that Zora and Jason are born with only half a soul? 

-Red is seen wearing a Thriller shirt in the beginning of the film, the red jumpsuit and one handed glove the Tethered wear can also be a referenced to the song as well as comparing the Tethered attack as a zombie outbreak. 

-The “We are Americans” line can mean a number of things, the first being a call out to privilege. 

-I am not too familiar Native history and culture, but I do know that there are tribes that are against whistling in the night as they believe it attracts evil spirits. Red is whistling in the maze of mirrors in the beginning of the film as she walks in the darkness and lo and behold, she encounters Adelaide. 

-Is every person in the U.S. cloned? Or is it possible only certain individuals were cloned, and if so, was there some factors to determine who would be cloned, such as class or race?

-Some moments that I now realize foreshadowed that Adelaide was actually the clone.
1. She told Zora you can achieve anything if dedicated enough
2. She killed one of the Tyler family clones and started snarling
3. She said that the family needed to go to Mexico, meaning she may.
have known that the tunnels were only under the U.S.
4. Her survival instinct kicked in faster than everyone else. Was it
because she knew what was coming and decided she’d rather die
fighting than be forced back into the tunnels?

-When driving the ambulence, Adelaide remembers when she first met Red in the mirrors. Did breaking Red’s neck trigger the memory of when she had crushed her throat during that first encounter? If so, that grin at the end was not simply joy to be alive. 

Us

Brought to us by the genius mind of Jordan Peele, Us is a film that cannot be brought to justice by any summary. This is a film that you must see for yourself because it is an experience that will have you leaving the theater with so many questions and a unwavering desire to break down this film to a molecular level of understanding. This film has so much, it falls into so many genres: comedy, thriller, horror, psychological, and mystery.

I strongly recommend watching this movie for yourself and avoiding any sort of summary, but for the sake of this review, I will give a basic summary while avoiding any important details because I want you all to experience the mind-blowing cinematography and plot.

Red and Adelaide meeting in the Wilson summer beach house.

Adelaide, Gabe, and their two children, Zora and Jason are taking a vacation and are spending time at their family beach house. We learn that as a child, Adelaide had a traumatic experience at that beach and is reluctant to see it again, but gives in to her family and agrees to go. That same night as they prepare for bed, Jason informed his parents that he spotted a family standing in their driveway, prompting Gabe to stand outside twice as he fails to intimidate them.
Cornering them, this mysterious family reveals themselves to be their doppleganger’s, Adelaide’s doppleganger telling her a story in which she describes herself as Adelaide’s shadow that goes by the name of Red. The family manages to escape their dopplegangers and rush to their friends, the Tylers’ home only to find that they have all been murdered by their own dopplegangers. The Wilsons watch the news to see that everyone in the area is being hunted by their dopplegangers and standing together to form a human chain. Red manages to kidnap Jason, prompting Adelaide to chase after her and enter through the maze of mirrors she had gotten lost in as a child.
Adelaide confronts Red and after a struggle, manages to kill Red, releasing strange animalistic noises as she does this. Jason reunites with her and they escape in an ambulance with the rest of the family. As Adelaide is driving it is revealed that Adelaide had met Red in the house of mirrors as a child and the real Adelaide was forced into the underground with the others while the doppleganger took her place on the surface. Jason seems to have realized this as well and looks strangely at his mother while she casts him a small smile.

Pluto, Abraham, Red, and Umbrae holding hands outside the Wilson peoperty

After watching Jordan Peele’s Get Out, I went in expecting to feel as shocked watching Us as I was with Get Out and was not disappointed. The film can’t beat Get Out, but it is definitely another masterpiece from Jordan Peele. Aside from the fact that these characters are running from themselves, these dopplegangers communicate through grunts and snarls and move in such quick inhumane ways that you can’t help but feel uneasy simply by looking at them. The group of them known as The Tethered, all dawn a red jumpsuit, a glove, and a pair of scissors that they use to kill their surface twins.

Joran Peele has a way of making you laugh in moments you wouldn’t normally have laughed in, and it works a way of deflating this tension before suddenly thrusting you back into this terrifying moment before you even have time to catch your breath. You are ultimately left with more questions than answers, but there is enough there to either piece together the events of past and present as well as create a guess as to what has occurred on and off the screen.

This movie is an absolute recommendation and if you are not a fan of horror/psychological films, I still recommend this film if you like unique and shocking plots.

Rating: 5/5

The Great Unknowable End

Giving up her dreams in order to care for her family after her brother abandons them, Stella must now face her realizations that she will likely never pursue her passion for engineering. Born into a commune in Kansas, Galliard lives what he believes to be the best place for humanity, moreso as a person with Tourette’s; a life-altering decision makes his world seem to crumble around him as his desires go unanswered and he finds himself doubting the leaders of his home.

I found this novel to be extremely well balanced, incorporating so many plot points that could have easily been a messy web had the writer not kept a tight grip on them. There is adventure, mystery, romance, and as this is all happening, natural disasters plague Kansas, addinng to the tension of these characters. Our two protagonists, Stella and Galliard, both begin in their separate lives that seem to have no link to one another, but when it is revealed that Stella’s brother is actually a friend of Galliard’s, things become shaky, especially when friendships are broken and secrets are brought out.

Stella has a dream to attend college and study engineering, but she is far too committed to her family to consider leaving them even to pursue her dreams. Galliard is a muscician that finds himself in a position that prevents him from pursuing his goals of sharing his music. The two are raised in different worlds but ultimately face the same the dilemma of incapable of pursuing their dreams for the sake of others or their futures. I initially began the novel more interested in the natural disasters, but almost immediately after became invested in the characters and didn’t even mind that there was no real explanation to the strange events that occurred in the end.

I do remain curious as to why the Ormsbee chose the plot to take place in the year 1977; I easily found myself forgetting that this wasn’t taking place in current time until moments such as Elvis’s death is mentioned near the end. It isn’t necessarily good or bad that I forgot the setting’s time, but did make me wonder if anything else could have made it much more solid. Throughout the novel there is also this exchange of letters between Stella and her brother Craig, but by the end of the novel, there had been so few letters that when they did appear, they did not seem as important or interesting to me. I believe the letters are essential to the plot but I would have liked to have seen a lot of these letters between the chapters.

If you are looking for a well-paced young adult novel, then this is a complete recommendation!

A copy was provided to me by NetGalley. All opinions and ratings mentioned are my own.

Haphaven

Raised to believe in all things superstition, Alex Zane Mills, is not looking forward to her thirteenth birthday, uneasy over the unlucky number. After being scolded by her mother that doesn’t understand the obsessive following of superstitions, Alex decides to take a moment to consider she is being silly to believe in Lady Luck shining down on her, resulting in her mother falling into a life or death situation. Now Alex must travel to a world where superstitions are law in order to save her mother and understand the history of her family’s luck.

Lion Forge once again brings another great read that was visually pleasing and presented the perfect balance of action and humor in less than 200 pages. Alex is dependent on the luck she is sure is given to her by her great grandfather Zane said to have gone off to marry Lady Luck herself, much to her mother’s irritation. When stepping on a crack literally breaks her mother’s back, Alex journeys to the end of the rainbow with a leprechaun with no hesitation. From throwing salt over the shoulder to knocking on wood before it knocks you back, the world of Haphaven functions solely on superstition, which Alex immediately eases into. She is determined to get a hold of a rabbit’s foot in order to save her mother, but finds that the foot is not only difficult to find, but is still attached to the rabbit.

Despite the graphic novel being very fast paced, it didn’t feel too rushed and even worked in the plot’s favor as Alex and the other characters are constantly on the move. Alex is a strong and intelligent young lady that isn’t afraid to leap into action even in the face of a danger that has her cornered. The art style uses soft colors beautifully that create especially emotional moments for the characters and features bright colors to place emphasis on certain objects in the panels. My only complaint is that Alex is seen always carrying around a bat that has lucky symbols carved into them that was given to her by her father, though she doesn’t use it as often as I thought she would. It becomes more of a symbol of her being unable to let go of this dependency on being given luck by her relative Zane and think this would have been more evident if she were to spend a few more moments looking down at the symbols on the bat rather than just swing them at some trees.

I absolutely recommend this graphic novel and if the cover does not peak your interest, then the first five pages surely will.

I was provided an Advanced Reader’s Copy by the teams at NetGalley and Lion Forge. Opinions expressed are my own.

Will Haunt You

A musician finds himself thrust into a living nightmare where he must now face his mistakes after reading a book that has now made him a part of the story. Will Haunt You is a horror novel that aims to thrust the readers into the clutches of this mysterious book alongside our main character, Jesse. It is a seemingly strange journey with more questions than answers and despite going full circle by the end, there is still much left to ponder over this created universe and the concept of the novel’s delivery.

Being an avid reader of horror, I found the plot following Jesse and this book he has read to be interesting. The novel mentions this mysterious name, Obsideo, multiple times, making it become this frightening and inexplainable thing that is manipulating Jesse’s reality and those important to him. The way he is being pushed into different environment with seemingly unconnected situations of previous experiments gives me a (although funny) Spooky’s House of Jump Scares vibe with the different rooms, left behind journals, and terrifying monsters or characters appearing before the protagonist.

Jesse isn’t an amazing character, he isn’t a person I felt was well-liked, and the novel did a great job of using the first-person perspective of Jesse to detail the fact that he was aware of his errors and didn’t deserve any sort of forgiveness. His awareness makes him human and there is this immense guilt he carries because of his fault at his son being disabled after an accident involving Jesse in a drunken stupor. There is definitely a lot of depth to him, but I honestly found myself much more interested in the environment than his history. There are several moments where Jesse listen to a scientific journal and read the journal of a previous victim and I wished there was much more of these documents tossed into the environment.

Brian Kirk

Brian Kirk actually has a post on his own blog in which he goes a bit further into the inspiration for this novel. Basically a neighboring couple in his neighborhood had a strange experience with a book titled Obsideo. There are screenshot of this couple documenting this experience and definitely leaves you with chills down your spine. You can check it out here, if you dare.

This novel didn’t exactly have me on the edge of my seat and did take me some time to get through, but I would like to see more of this story expanded on, whether it be through different characters or an anthology of documents from the mysterious book itself. The story clearly wanted the readers to be immersed through the fourth wall breaks, but it just didn’t pull it off and is the reason I was skeptical over my thoughts on the book. If you are a fan of creepy mysteries, then I suggest you take a look at this book once it is available for purchase, especially when this novel is sure to have many have their own theories and thoughts on the plot and setting(s).

This Advanced Reader’s Copy was provided to me by NetGalley and Flame Tree Press.

PTSD

A soldier returned from war without an eye and a heavy weight on her shoulders, Jun is a woman forced to struggled for survival while carrying the memories of a war that continuously plays in her mind. PTSD is a beautifully illustrated story of how a returned soldier never truly left the battle and is now living on the streets struggling to cope with the terrors of war through isolation and drug abuse.

Despite the setting not being identified by name, the art style and landscape of this city indicates that this is based off of Tokyo. It is a city with what seems to have a high population of homeless, many of whom are veterans, and they are all fast and easy consumers of drugs that help these veterans cope with anxiety, restlessness, and panic attacks that Jun experiences on multiple occasions from nightmares to the distant sound of a child’s bicycle tire popping. She relies on drugs to cope and when she doesn’t have any, she will do anything to obtain more even if it means getting on the bad side of the dealers.

The art style gives a manga vibe to it, and it so colorful that you wouldn’t even think that these bright colors would work in a scene displaying people getting shot at. I’d like to point out that although there is plenty of action, this story is a focus on the trauma coming from war, not the war itself, so do not expect every other page to be action filled. There is warmth and character development from Jun and others and beautifully demonstrates the power of a community that comes together during desperate times.

From the colors to the types of lines in the art, there are so many details that play with the story that I couldn’t help get excited over. One key element that makes Jun’s character interesting is that during her panic attacks or moments of stress, her eye goes from being a perfectly shaped oval, to an oval that appeared to almost have been drawn by something with shaking hands, giving this look of disarray and terror on her face. They are amazing little details, but to the plot they are extremely important in portraying the struggles and emotional strain Jun and these other veterans are going through. I completely recommend this graphic novel and think it is a unique and important read to incorporate in the much needed discussion about the subject.

An advanced reader’s copy of PTSD was provided to me by NetGalley and First Second Books. All opinions and ratings mentioned are my own. 

Life is Strange

An episodic adventure video game that functions as heavily story-oriented, Life is Strange follows the adventures of high school student Max Caulfield as she discovers she now has the power to manipulate time.

Set in fictional town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, this game places Max in the center of a natural disaster building after she has gotten used to her newly found powers. She is a passionate young woman aspiring to be a professional photographer, important to the game mechanics as there are key points in which you are either looking at or taking a photograph. Alongside her is Chloe Price, her best friend since childhood who she lost contact with after moving away from Arcadia Bay, but after returning, they soon re-spark their friendship and discover the secrets to Max’s powers.

Being a fan of the decision-making style of games such as famous Telltale Game titles, I absolutely loved the plot and pacing of this game that leaves you making decisions that affect your relationship with others and alters the plot for each episode. If you are a fan of fast paced games with a lot of combat, then this game is likely not for you, the combat in this game is mostly dialogue based but that doesn’t mean there is not a lot of action suspense in the plot.

The best thing about the game is the music, it is an amazing soundtrack and truly solidifies the setting as this small town where the days are mostly peaceful and everybody knows everybody. Square Enix has truly demonstrated that they are capable of taking the decision making episodic format and allowing to create your own storyline, especially considering how the ending features one of the biggest decisions that give two different endings. I admit I became emotionally committed to these characters and the major decisions of the game required long moments of debate.

For all you gamers that enjoy lots of dialogue and exploring to unlock new lines or world building like I do, I completely recommend this game to you. It is a title I never tire of playing over and over again and cannot wait for this universe to continue its expansion through character and setting.

Score: 5 out of 5

Manga Classics: Les Miserables

This classics has gone through a multitude of adaptation through different mediums, from stage performances to the film and this manga is no exception to being a beautiful adaptation.

If you are unfamiliar with the novel, it was published 1862 by French writer Victor Hugo and is considered one of the most brilliant written works of the 19th century. The novel is definitely a tricky read, meaning you may read it the first time having no idea what you just looked at, but once you take in the plot you will agree that the story is one filled with much emotional turmoil and affection for the characters. There are a handful of characters the plot focuses on, but the primary story follows an ex-convict named Jean Valjean who is on a journey of redemption in a world plagued with poverty and unkindness that seems determined to not let Jean escape his past.

This Manga Classics edition is perfect for those that enjoyed reading the novel but would still like to see an adaptation with a less intense format. Thanks to the team at NetGalley, I was able to take a look at a reader’s copy of the manga and was pleasantly surprised how much I was taken to the manga within just a few pages. As someone that read the original novel over five years ago, I still found myself feeling shock and anger at the event depicted on the pages. It was difficult to imagine a manga art style being able to capture this historical text, but I was disproven and found the art held up the original writing and even clarified points in the plot I could never quite get right in the reading.

This adaptation is especially useful to student and educators reading the original text and may be experiencing some difficulty processing or breaking down the reading. Jean Valjean goes through multiple names in the plot as he escapes his past, so seeing his journey visibly makes it easier to keep track.

This manga works well as an introduction to the Victor Hugo novel as it avoids the dense parts of the original to focus on the bigger plot points of the story. Because there is so much going on in the story to fit in this manga, the pacing is a bit fast as time is constantly being manipulated in order to speed the timeline of the plot’s entirety. You can notice at times that the manga is clearly trying to quickly get to the more tense moments of the plot, which unfortunately cuts time from the more slow and emotional scenes.

Overall, the manga was a great adaptation and I recommend it to those who enjoy the original novel or would like to know the plot but have no desire to read the original text.

Dear Jane

A young woman plagued with a past filled with memories of pain and loneliness, Kit Kat is once again thrust into a world where although she feels love and gratitude toward her new life, she lacks the support system she so desires and needs. Dear Jane is a beautiful coming-of-age story about the meaning of maternal bonds, a desire to hold onto an identity, and ultimately, the ability to forgive yourself and others.

Dear Jane is not a simple read and will leave you shaking your head in shock and anger. The novel touches on very heavy topics from emotional abuse to physical trauma and the voice of the young woman secretly sharing her experiences in a series of letters creates a bigger impact. From start to finish, I couldn’t find myself putting the book down and became emotionally committed to Kit Kat’s journey and emotional growth as she struggles to stand up for herself and ultimately save herself from those she sought love from. The novel is unafraid of details and warn readers that it goes into graphic details of abuse and self harm, and implore to take into mind that this novel is not a story of escape, but rather one of being incapable of escaping memories and trauma.

Special thanks to the teams at Black Rose Writing and NetGalley for providing me with a reviewer’s copy of the novel and I encourage you to check out this book for yourself.

Marina DelVecchio was a former English teachers now teaching at a North Carolina community college. She has an MS in English and Secondary Education from Queen College in New York. She has been a recipient of several awards and has had several works published including those from The Huffington Post, The New Agenda, and BlogHer.  

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Having only seen Peter Parker brought to the big screen, it was extremely exciting getting to see other spider characters brought into this film. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a beautifully animated film that I can only describe as a homage to comic books. I went in expecting to watch a good movie and came out having decided that this is my favorite film this year. 

Miles Morales and SpiderMan 

Miles Morales is a teenager from Brooklyn that finds himself joining a team of spider superheroes after he is bitten by a radioactive spider. Son to a nurse and a police officer, he is put under a lot of pressure and expectations as he struggles to find joy in his life while fulfilling his parents’ wishes at the same time. Attending a school that he describes as elitist, Miles feels the stress of being expected to do well at this school when he feels that he is not being accepted into the setting. He thinks highly of his uncle who he secretly visits when sneaking off the school campus, and is able to freely share his passion for art with his uncle who encourages his artistic talents. While placing his latest design in an abandoned part of the subway, Miles is bitten by a radioactive spider which begins his transition to a spider powered hero. 

Our heroes are brought together after villain Wilson Fisk’s underground experiments rips holes through dimensions, forcibly bringing different versions of SpiderMan into Miles’ dimension. What makes this movie unique is its way of treating its atmosphere. The film treats itself as though we were looking at a comic book and does something I would describe as remixing images through vibrancy in colors and shapes. From noises being written across the screen to the comic book style narrative boxes, you never forget that you are watching a comic book being brought to life. I initially thought the movie would be quick to be an eyesore, but I found I couldn’t have enough of this animation and enjoyed just how bright the colors were and how these changes in dimensions become these colorful shapes. 

Miles Morales’ parents are key elements to the film and his identity and I appreciated that there was a slow buildup of the plot before Miles was even bitten by the spider. His parents, Rio Morales and Jefferson Davis, are part of his struggles with confidence, though it is never indicated that his parents are anything other than caring about their son. Rio Morales is a Puerto Rican woman that is a nurse and seems indifferent about SpiderMan, and is married to African-American police officer Jefferson Davis who is vocal about his dislike for SpiderMan. Miles’ father’s dislike of the superhero prevent him from revealing his powers to him and ultimately leaves Miles with the stress of having an entire team of spider superheroes yet still feeling alone and incapable of living up to his new abilities’ responsibilities. 

Into the Spider-Verse can be taken as a game-changer for the superhero genre of film and leaves me excited to see what else can be done with the comic books that have yet to have their own film. It is a great watch for both comic and non-comic fans, but comic book fans can definitely appreciate the love and care that went into making sure this movie was true to the comic books. 

I completely recommend you watch this movie for yourself, appreciate its beauty and go watch it again! Also if you are not familiar with superhero films, make sure you stick around at the end of the movie for a hidden ending after the credits.