Movies, popcorn, and winter chill: Review of The Greatest Showman
Jan26

Movies, popcorn, and winter chill: Review of The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman is enamoring audiences at the box office with its flashy costumes, catchy soundtrack, and star-studded cast. Hugh Jackman traded in his wolverine claws for a ring master’s costume and an impressive singing voice to portray the historical figure, Phineas Taylor Barnum, who is best known for founding the Barnum and Bailey Circus with James Anthony Bailey in 1881. The beginning of the film resembles the opening of Queen’s hit, “We Will Rock You,” as Barnum, dressed in his glitzy ringmaster’s costume, sings about “The Greatest Show” as the audience stomps their feet and claps. Then, the film flashes back to the 1820s when Barnum (Ellis Robin) is a kid who travels with his tailor father to rich people’s houses. It’s on one of these trips where he meets Charity Halletts (Skylar Dunn). The two children begin spending time together, unbeknownst by her father (Frederic Lehne). This prompts the duet, “A Million Dreams,” where the audiences watch the young children grow up into adults. This song also establishes their love for each other. Barnum wins Charity’s (Michelle Williams) hand, but her father warns her that she’ll come back once she’s tired of living in poverty. Barnum scrapes together a living for his wife and two daughters by working at a shipping office until the company goes bankrupt. He then gets a loan from the bank to buy a wax museum. After the wax museum fails, he decides to get together oddities from all over the city. He recruits the dwarf Tom Thumb (Sam Humphrey), the Bearded Lady Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle), plus others to be a part of his circus. Barnum then hires the rich playboy Phillip Caryle (Zac Efron) to help him establish credibility among the rich, established families. Meanwhile, Caryle quickly falls in love with the African American trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya). The rest of the film follows Barnum as he struggles to make his circus prosperous, then once it does, how the wealth and power begins to consume him and affect his marriage. Jackman has just the right charm and charisma to play P.T. Barnum, plus he can sing and dance. Efron and Zendaya have instant chemistry, which is clearly seen in their duet “Rewrite the Stars.” Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are the masterminds behind the songs in Showman. It’s no wonder the soundtrack has been No. 1 for two weeks in a row. They’re inspiring. The film anthem, “This is Me,” sung by Tony award winner Settle, won Best Original Song at the Golden Globes. “This is Me” becomes the circus performers’ anthem as they long for acceptance. Some critics are...

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Confessions of X: the captivating new romance novel
Jan26

Confessions of X: the captivating new romance novel

The UMHB bookstore started selling Suzanne Wolfe’s novel the Confessions of X at the beginning of the spring semester and it was chosen as the book for discussion in the English Honor Societies book club, so I decided I would join in on the fun. The Confessions of X is a mix of historical fiction, Christian fiction and romance, and is an imaginative correspondent to Saint Augustine’s Confessions. The book follows the life of X, the daughter of a tile-layer and mysterious lover of Saint Augustine of Hippo. The novel paints a perfect picture of the ancient culture and is well researched despite it being historical fiction. Though we know X existed, we only know of who she was through Augustine’s Confessions and I think that Wolfe did a wonderful job keeping X vague enough to give her anonymity while still being personal enough for readers to relate with. The novel is described as “a reflection of what it means to love and lose… while deftly exploring one woman’s search for identity and happiness within very limited circumstances.” The book starts with X in her old age and we learn a lot about her life without giving too much away, but enough to leave you wanting more. In the second chapter, we start with the very beginning of her life and obtain background information, family, and beliefs before we go into the main storyline with Augustine. Readers watch X grow into a young woman, meet Augustine and start a family with him as his lover. Because of the difference in social classes, they can never marry, but knowing this, they both decide to love each other anyway. Now typically, I’m not a romantic, but I found myself rooting for a relationship I knew was bound to end but because of the way it was written, I couldn’t help myself. It was sweet to watch them fall in love and the adorable notions they made after they decided to be together. This book portrays a rare TRUE LOVE not often seen during this time period. The whole book is worded elegantly and the first few chapters need to be read slowly for the reader to fully comprehend the meaning behind the words, but after you start reading, you become more used to the style and it flows more freely off the tongue. I had a limited amount of knowledge concerning Augustine and his confessions, but I was still able to understand everything about him, their life, and the story. I enjoyed this book and would give it a 6 out of 10 at first glance, simply because I knew I...

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Cru Love: 1987 waterballoon prank turns life-long romance
Jan24

Cru Love: 1987 waterballoon prank turns life-long romance

“May it be noted: in this exact spot where I am standing, my parents saw each other for the very first time. #MyUMHB” That is what incoming fall 2018 freshman, Payton Mayes, tweeted during Preview Weekend in November of 2017. Standing outside of Getty’s Hall, Payton reminisced on the very place where her parents first saw each other. Michael and Holly Mayes’ story is as unique as their love: playful, filled with joy, and intertwined with the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. While playing basketball and pursuing a degree, Michael Mayes never thought he’d meet someone that would one day be his wife and future mother of his children at UMHB. Sitting in front of Getty’s during the spring semester of 1987 with a friend, he noticed two girls approaching. He didn’t think much of the pair, until suddenly they were drenched by a bucket of water, thrown from the balcony. “All of a sudden this huge amount of water comes pouring off the balcony and totally drenches these two girls. I looked up and there are these two clowns up there laughing, and I just thought it was about the funniest thing I’d ever seen.” Looking back, he remembered the event with a laugh. “I guess she heard me laugh, and boy she turned and looked at me, and I thought ‘Oh that girl’s pretty, and pretty mad too.’” At the time, local Belton High Schooler, Holly, had gone with her friend, Grace, to visit Grace’s boyfriend, now Dr. Steve Theodore, Vice President of the university. As they approached his dorm building, they had been chatting and didn’t notice Steve at the balcony, awaiting the right moment to dunk water on them. Years later, her friend Grace would marry that same boy who dunked water on her, and Holly would marry the boy who laughed at them. In the summer of 1990, the couple finally formally met when they both worked for Summer Fun in Belton. That summer, as Michael attended summer classes and Holly enjoyed being home for the warm months from Baylor University, the pair began dating and unknowingly began their future. Now with their youngest daughter excitedly anticipating her freshman year come fall, the couple looked back fondly at how the university was intertwined with their lives. “We were the third house on 10th, just across the street from the university,” Michael said. “I used to bring Payton and her sister over here all the time and they would skate around the quad. She’s been coming over here for as long as she can remember. It’s always been here, it’s always been what we’ve been about.”...

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Thankful for Thor:  a review of the new film
Nov16

Thankful for Thor: a review of the new film

Marvel has been producing quality movies since Iron Man debuted in 2008, and Thor Ragnarok falls in line with Marvel’s other superhero films. Thor Ragnarok’s opening debut was Nov. 3 and has been received with mostly positive responses. On IMDb, it has an 8.2/10 rating, and according to Vulture, the third installation to the Thor movie series earned the highest rating of any Marvel movie on Rotten Tomatoes. The film begins with Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, chained up by a fiery monster named Surtur. Escaping to Asgard, Thor meets up with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and they’re transported to earth to find their father. After discovering that they have an evil sister named Hela (Cate Blanchett) who decides to take over Asgard, the duo find themselves on a mysterious planet called Sakaar run by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). As the power struggle ensues in Asgard, Thor is trapped on Sakaar, forced to battle gladiator-style against none other than Hulk. The rest of the movie is about Thor and his focus on getting back to Sakaar to confront Hela. This was by far my favorite Thor film, as Thor: The Dark World, that was released in 2013, was a disappointment. It was boring compared to Thor Ragnarok, which was filled with many comedic moments as well as plenty of action. There are some characters in the movie that make a stunning debut, such as Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a fierce and brave warrior who quarrels with Thor constantly. There’s also Korg, another warrior trapped on Sakaar who wants a rebellion against the system on Sakaar. And of course there’s the Grandmaster, who rules over the planet with great eccentricity. Also, the Incredible Hulk makes a return after his last appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Perhaps my favorite part about this movie is the incredible graphics. Everything appears so lifelike, and, no spoilers, but the last fight scene is one of the most epic ones I’ve ever seen. Would I recommend this movie? Absolutely. Whether you’ve always been a Marvel fan or know little to nothing about the franchise, this film incorporates all kinds of genres that are sure to please just about anyone. In an industry that seems to be rehashing the same ideas over and over again, this film is refreshing in its originality. Thor Ragnarok breaks the typical barrier of an action film, combining humor, adventure, and drama in one package. Also, make sure to stay after the movie for two after-credit...

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Stunt Night Preview: Classes prepare for this year’s Stunt Night featuring Crutoons
Oct13

Stunt Night Preview: Classes prepare for this year’s Stunt Night featuring Crutoons

Stunt Night is a tradition that has been a part of the university for 107 years. Every year, directors lead each class in performing a skit in front of a live audience, where two winners are selected – the audience’s pick and the judge’s. This year’s theme is CruToons where underclassmen and upperclassmen will take the stage and perform skits based on classic cartoons. The freshmen will be doing their play based on the square-shaped cartoon SpongeBob, sophomores will create a skit featuring the characters from The Fairly Odd Parents, juniors will pretend to be The Flintstones, and seniors will act base their performance on Scooby-Doo. These classic characters will come to life Oct. 19 and 20 in Walton Chapel at 7:00 pm. This is freshman business major Eunice Michaelson’s first year as director for her class. “Just to sum up our plot a little bit, this is where we dive deep into the world of Bikini Bottom,” Michaelson said. “SpongeBob and his friends are there and we see Sandy on the scene and she is devastated because she misses her home – the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.The plotline is SpongeBob’s trying really hard to cheer Sandy up because she’s having a really bad day. In the end, we’ll see if his efforts work or not.” Michaelson has high hopes for the freshman class, as the whole group is determined to win. Every freshman is bringing their unique talents to the table. “Every person that I’ve met here is so awesome,” Michaelson said. “And seeing them come together and working towards a common goal brings each other closer because there’s competition involved too. We want to win.” Junior multimedia and information technologies major Chase Mariott has enjoyed his time as a director for the junior class. “My favorite part about being the director for the junior class is just getting to hang out with our cast and my co-director,” The junior said that “Every practice is tons of fun and full of laughter.” “Our theme for the juniors is the Flintstones. So, we are all there, but the main focus is on the kids, Pebbles and Bam-Bam, and their transition from home to UMHB. There’s also some hidden chemistry between Bam-Bam and Pebbles,” Mariott said. This year’s classes are hoping to entertain a wide variety of audiences as nostalgia comes to the stage during Stunt...

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All Saints inspires audiences everywhere
Sep14

All Saints inspires audiences everywhere

The movie All Saints is a PG Christian film that was released on Aug. 25. The movie wasn’t heavily advertised before its release. Despite this, Rotten Tomatoes rated this movie as 93 percent fresh, and my personal rating would be a 7.5 out of 10 stars. The film runs for an hour and 48 minutes and includes footage of the congregation that the story is based on in the credits. The film centers around Michael Spurlock, who decides to trade in his corporate sales career to become a pastor. Unfortunately, his first assignment in his sales career is to close a country church and sell the prime piece of land where it sits. He soon has a change of heart when the church starts to welcome refugees from Burma. Spurlock now finds himself working with the refugees to turn the land into a working farm to pay the church’s bills. The movie is based in Smyrna, Tennessee and the movie was filmed in the same church. This movie is based on the true story of this Episcopal Church. History versus Hollywood even did a comparison of the two stories and concluded that there were only minor tweaks. While the movie isn’t a fast-paced action adventure or a slow and steady romantic comedy, it still has plenty of potential. The movie goes at a well-paced speed and has a straight forward plot. The movie gives each character enough screen time for the audience to know their role in the church and a little about their past. We know enough about everyone to understand their lives without needing a long backstory. It was the perfect amount of information to know these characters and feel empathy for them. I thought the actors did a splendid job. John Corbett played Michael Spurlock, and I believe he did a good job showing the emotional and physical struggles the real pastor went through trying to keep this tiny church afloat. Watching Nelson Lee portray Ye Win, the main refugee who seeks the church’s help, was inspiring. These actors helped make these characters feel as if this struggle was happening to the audience as well, and I believe it made the movie more enjoyable to watch. One thing I thought was cool was how the movie brought back the refugees and put them in the movie. They played themselves. Those are not extras. Those are the people this story happened to. In the movie, Atticus Spurlock (played by Myles Moore) becomes friends with one of the children refugees named Po (played by John Wise Win). However, the real Po is somewhere in the background and the...

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