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The student news site of Inglemoor High School

Nordic News

The student news site of Inglemoor High School

Nordic News

Musicals, magic and morale: New movie reviews

Musicals%2C+magic+and+morale%3A+New+movie+reviews

The Boy and the Heron

In a fictional retelling of the Pacific War, young Mahito Maki’s mother dies in a fire at a Tokyo hospital. A year later, his father marries his late mother’s sister, and moves Mahito with him to the countryside to live with her in the house his mother and aunt grew up in. Haunted by the memories of the night his mother died, Mahito distances himself from his family, barely talking and escaping to explore the property. 

While walking around the land by the house, he has multiple encounters with a Gray Heron that leads him to an abandoned tower on his family’s property. Soon, the Heron starts to talk to him and eventually tells him that his mother is alive. After following the heron into the tower to search for his mother, Mahito discovers a new world and learns his mother wasn’t all that he was looking for.

Unlike the other movies Hayao Miyazaki has made with Studio Ghibli, “The Boy and the Heron” is intense right from the beginning and features a less playful storyline. The movie explores themes of loss, grief and familial love as Mahito encounters strange territories and people. Although it’s somber, there is still plenty of fantasy and magic throughout the film.

Both the English-dubbed version and the original Japanese audio have incredible voice actors that perfectly capture the spirit of their characters. This movie is Robert Pattinson’s voice acting debut, and it is shockingly impressive, because the high and guttural voice of the Gray Heron sounds nothing like him and is nearly indistinguishable from Masaki Suda’s, the voice actor for the same role in the Japanese version.

This movie is the first hand-drawn animation to win a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, and rightfully so. Every frame on the screen felt so delicately drawn, packed with detail and color, and the gorgeous soundtrack composed by Joe Hisaishi made it even better. As a whole, the movie came together beautifully and each scene captivated the audience; towards the end, there were even some tears in the theater we attended. If you’re looking for a movie that leaves you thinking long after leaving the theater, “The Boy and the Heron” must be your next watch.

 

Wonka

Welcome to a world of pure imagination, where a chocolate mafia controls the police, a confessional leads to an underground chocolate pool and giraffe milk makes creamy macaroons. 

Released in theaters on Dec. 15 and on streaming platforms in February, Wonka creatively depicts the origin story of the eclectic chocolatier, Willie Wonka, played by Timothee Chalamet. Filmed in England, Wonka arrives in a whimsical city to start a chocolate store. 

Right away, Wonka faces financial troubles and is trapped washing laundry to pay off his debts to a boarding house. There, Wonka befriends a young orphan named Noodle, played by Calah Lane. Together they embark on a journey to escape the laundromat, find Noodle’s family and open a chocolate store like no other. 

The stunning cinematography and design creates a fantastical world that complements both the characters and the plot. The combination of graphics and film is well done, and the symmetry and costumes create a Wes Anderson feel. 

The supporting cast is another highlight. An easily manipulated police officer, played by Keegan-Michael Key, struggles with an intense chocolate addiction. The sleazy innkeepers are also hilarious characters that add romance and dimension to the story. 

 Although there is only one Oompa Loompa in this movie, played by Hugh Grant, the references to past Willie Wonka movies are subtle and fresh. Noodle is a similar character to Charlie in the original. Chalamet’s portrayal of Willie Wonka is a lot more innocent than the previously creepy versions of Willie Wonka. 

Although Chalamet’s singing is average, the songs are catchy, and the choreography is entertaining and lighthearted. Although most of the jokes are cheesy and meant for a younger audience, some are genuinely funny, making it hard to leave the theater without a smile. Anyone who enjoys musical theater or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” should see the new Wonka movie.

 

The Boys in the Boat

Joe Rantz isn’t just poor, he’s on the verge of being kicked out of university due to unpaid tuition. He’s also running out of options — no one is hiring, and if they are, they won’t choose him. But then his friend Roger Morris informs him of an opportunity: if he tries out for the crew team, he will win not only a spot on the rowing team, but also a salary and a home. 

Based on the 2013 novel of the same name, “The Boys in the Boat” tells the true tale of a University of Washington rowing team. It follows their journey to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, when the Great Depression was prominent across the country and tensions were building towards World War II. 

Unfortunately, the only thing that stands out about the movie is how ordinary it is. It’s clear that the directors made it easy to digest in order to avoid giving the audience any reason to criticize it. The movie was comfortable, but not emotional; it didn’t stray far from fast-paced racing scenes — probably to ensure the audience was still interested. 

There are so many chances to insert more tension and drama. Despite coming from various financial backgrounds in real life, there was no drama related to money or social status. The directors could have used this as an opportunity to insert some team-bonding tension as the boys struggle to row together. The movie also failed to convey the significance of the crew winning gold for both the University of Washington and the United States. 

Even with popular actors Callum Turner and Joel Edgerton, the movie falls short. The true story is phenomenal, but the cinematic depiction is disappointing, with some parts of the story simplified or just skipped over. For those who don’t know the story of the team, “The Boys in the Boat” will be a palatable, albeit predictable, watch. 

 

Mean Girls 

The 2024 Mean Girls movie is a mix between the original 2004 film and the Broadway musical. The movie is crazy, unrealistic and a bit overdone. The story is essentially the same: naive Cady Heron moves from Kenya to the US and navigates high school cliques, crushes, relationships and popularity. But the wit, aesthetic and message of the original movie are lost in this new rendition.

The movie begins with Cady’s unpopular artsy friends, Janice and Damien, playing music and dancing in their garage. The scene is framed through a phone as if you are watching them make a video. Phones and social media are rarely portrayed well in films, and Mean Girls is no exception. TikTok appears in a trashy and overwhelming way. The timelessness of the original movie is lost as the characters attempt to depict Gen-Zers in high school. 

Additionally, the songs did not compare to the Broadway musical. In theaters, the audience sighs every time a new song starts. The songs in the movie dragged on, and although the actor’s voices are good, the instrumentals are an awkward combination of hip-hop and lofi. 

Despite sub-par performances from the main characters, the Matheletes are a highlight of the movie. Their jokes land, and they are by far the most relatable. Tina Fey, who plays Mrs. Norbury, the calculus teacher who pushes Cady to move beyond boys and popularity, has an incredible performance. 

Overall, the new Mean Girls doesn’t do the original justice. The messages of feminism, friendship and honesty are overshadowed by flashy cameos, dull references to social media and unpleasant songs. The 2024 Mean Girls is far from fetch. 

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About the Contributors
Cate Bouvet (she/her), Co-Editor-in-Chief
Cate Bouvet is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Nordic News this year and is excited to lead Nordic’s staff in publishing relevant and engaging articles. In her third year on staff, she hopes to mentor new reporters and strive for objectivity. Outside of Nordic, Cate is also captain of Inglemoor’s cross-country team and volunteers at Seattle Aquarium. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, skiing, and spending time with family and friends. 
Camille Pierce (she/her), Co-Copy Editor
Junior Camille Pierce is one of the copy editors for the 2023-24 school year. During her second year on staff, she hopes to further develop her writing and photography skills and write unique stories that represent the Inglemoor community. Outside of Nordic, she is part of various clubs (join SARA!) and Inglemoor’s swim and dive team. In her slowly-disappearing free time, she likes to make very long to-do lists, go on picnics with her friends and gush about her two (very cute) cats.

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