5 entertainment releases for March 2023

From Keanu Reeves kicking butt and taking names to legendary video games becoming even more legendary, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pull one’s eyes away from the screen.

Here are five big entertainment releases for March 2023.

The Mandalorian” Season 3

The adventures of Din Djarin and Grogu continue as they search for redemption for traditions broken. Sorry for being vague with the plot synopsis, but “The Mandalorian” has always been full of twists and turns that need to be seen to be truly appreciated.

“The Mandalorian” was a premiere show for Disney+ when the streaming service launched in late 2019 and essentially revitalized Star Wars as a storytelling medium.

Even with a multitude of new Star Wars TV shows releasing this year, “The Mandalorian” continues to show why the galaxy far, far away has so much more to offer.

New episodes of “The Mandalorian” premiere every Wednesday on Disney+ until April 19.

“Scream VI”

Do you like scary movies? Then you may have already seen this new entry into this beloved horror franchise that pokes fun at other horror franchises.

“Scream VI” sees the return of the main cast of “Scream” (2022) with a surprising lack of legacy characters in favor of putting the focus on the new blood of the previous film.

Ghost Face is back for the sixth time with a more intense approach as it seems this iconic killer is taking things up a notch in terms of brutality. That brutality seems to have worked with critics and audiences as the film is garnering positive reviews and lots of love from fans of the franchise.

“Scream VI” is now in theaters with an expected digital release April 25.

“Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves”

While “Dungeons & Dragons” is no stranger to the big screen, many fans of the iconic roleplaying game have been waiting for a new attempt at a proper D&D film to wash their mouths of the previous attempt.

This new film stars Chris Pine as the leading bard of the film with a focus on snarky storytelling akin to what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been doing lately. This is not a bad thing as critics are enjoying “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.”

The film appears to balance said snarky overtone with an emotional story about correcting one’s mistakes. Hopefully this is but one of many high rolls for D&D as a film franchise.

“Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” will be released in theaters March 31.

Resident Evil 4 (2023)

Resident Evil is often cited as the true beginning for the survival horror genre in video games. The same can be said about Resident Evil 4 when it released on Nintendo GameCube in 2005. It revolutionized the over-the-shoulder camera that is popular in many releases to this day, and it also revitalized the genre it’s cited for creating in the first place.

So when a remake of Resident Evil 4 was announced in 2022, many fans were skeptical as they felt the original didn’t need the remake treatment. Fast forward to today with Resident Evil 4 (2023) releasing to extreme acclaim and fanfare from fans.

Resident Evil 4 (2023) was never meant to replace the original. It’s meant to be a celebration of why the original was so important in the first place while expanding on certain elements.

Resident Evil 4 (2023) is now available for PlayStation 5 and 4, Xbox Series X, Series S and PC.

“John Wick: Chapter 4”

It’s not often a film franchise can still stand strong after four films, yet John Wick proves it’s still possible to do so with style.

Keanu Reeves returns as the titular assassin with even more high-octane stunt work and storytelling for audiences to enjoy.

The John Wick franchise continues to escalate the stakes and consequences with each release and it’s clear both audiences and critics can’t get enough of Wick.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is now available to see in theaters.

March has been a dangerous time to have a full wallet. All that hard-earned cash could be whisked away in an effort to experience the many entertainment releases scattered throughout the month. Time will tell if the rest of 2023 will continue to impress.

OPINION | Lights, camera, animation: why animation deserves more recognition at the Oscars

When I was a kid, I only watched the Academy Awards to see who would win Best Animated Feature.

Now that I’m older, I find myself wondering why the representatives of the academy refuse to give animation the respect it deserves.

Animation requires far more love and attention in order for the medium to truly flourish as a respected facet of film whether it’s through integrating animation into more established categories or creating more dedicated categories based around animation, allowing more representation for animation can only lead to a more diverse lineup of nominees for the Academy Awards.

After “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Guillermo Del Toro accepted the Oscar and said something I’ve been waiting to hear for years: “Animation is cinema. Animation is not a genre.”

For far too long, animation has only been the category for kids in the eyes of the representatives of the academy. Not only is this blatantly outdated and disrespectful to the medium, but it’s also incorrect.

Del Toro’s win for his adaptation of Pinocchio proved just that. Del Toro’s film is too dark to be just a kid’s movie. It’s filled with depressing themes, Nazis and death.

The goal of animation isn’t to keep kids entertained. It’s to create something out of nothing for anyone who is willing to give it a chance.

Even if it was just for kids, the Academy Awards is supposed to celebrate the best of film in the past year. So, why does animation only get to participate in one category despite some of the best films of 2022 being animated?

The Academy Awards either needs to allow more animated movies to be nominated for different categories, or they need to make new categories specifically made for animation.

For example, a best voice actor category would be a welcome addition. Not every voicework roll is just a celebrity trying to make a quick buck. Dedicated voice actors poor their heart and soul into these characters, and they must be commended for such love and hard work.

A best advancement in animation award would also be appreciated by the many hard working animators who give their all to the art. Del Toro said during his acceptance speech that animation was ready to take the next step. Whether that be through technology or recognition, this award would help in those endeavors.

A best animation team award would be a solid incentive for producers to push the limits of what can be done through the medium of animation. Even if the animated movie doesn’t have the best script, it can still look incredible and win the award.

For example, “Suicide Squad” from 2016 is mediocre in its script and overall execution, but it still managed to win the award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the 2017 Academy Awards.

Animated feature films were some of the biggest highlights of 2022. One film I was not expecting to be well received was “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish”; however, the script writing was sharp and witty, the animation was incredibly beautiful, and it made me want to see more from a character who was essentially dead in the water.

This film didn’t win Best Animated Feature Film, but it should have been nominated for other categories as well. Best Adapted Screenplay would be a fitting category due the films sharp writing and interesting themes.

More than anything, if animation is taken more seriously by the representatives of the academy, then we can all enjoy animation to its full potential. Producers will see animation as a more lucrative art form, therefore allowing more daring ideas to flourish.

The first thing that needs to happen in order for more animation representation to occur is to have more integration into the other categories. Films like the previously mentioned “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish” making it into Best Adapted Screenplay or having “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio” nominated for Best Picture would allow animation to stand on equal footing with the rest of films represented at the Academy Awards.

Don’t judge an animated film by its movie poster. Otherwise you may miss out on some of the best cinema on the big screen. In order for the representatives of the academy to take animation seriously, they need to see the audience take it seriously with their wallets.

Animation is the strongest and most relatable facet to visual media. It can captivate anyone of any age, race, gender and societal upbringing. Some of the most incredible worlds the human mind can imagine are only possible through animation. Del Toro believes animation will reach even greater heights if the support is there. I only hope I’m there to see it for myself.

‘The Mandalorian,’ a return to form for Star Wars

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” A fan-base surrounding the most popular sci-fi franchise ever made was divided; however, a man cladded in silver armor accompanied by an adorable, green sidekick unified the fans of Star Wars for the better.

“The Mandalorian” was released during a strange time for the Star Wars universe. Disney bought the creative studio behind Star Wars, Lucasfilm, and various different directors were knee deep in creating a new set of films for Star Wars.

The problem that presented itself was the new trilogy not living up to the celestially high standards the fans had for such an undertaking. Certain story beats felt too similar to previous films, but whenever more original story elements were introduced, fans couldn’t help but pick it apart like a professor grading a test.

This led to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” receiving one of the most polarizing critic to audience ratio on Rotten Tomatoes with a 91% from critics and a 42% from audiences.

Enter Jon Favreau, a man who had already cemented himself with Disney thanks to his work on “Iron Man”—“The Jungle Book (2016)” and “The Lion King (2019).”

Favreau had quite the task laid before him. To create the first-ever, live-action Star Wars TV show.

Instead of trying to replicate the nostalgia of previous films, Favreau decided to tap into a culture seldom mentioned outside of animated spin-offs of Star Wars, the Mandalorians.

Popular characters such as Boba Fett and his father Jango Fett were Mandalorians, but this show would not focus on these pre-established characters. The protagonist of “The Mandalorian” was known as just that, a Mandalorian. It wasn’t until the end of season one when viewers actually got to put a name to the face, Din Djarin.

While this was quite enticing to many fans from the beginning, it wasn’t until the end of the first episode that made viewers want to keep watching. The pointy-eared gremlin known as The Child was enough to melt the hearts of even the most hardened of Star Wars fans.

Here is where the main motivation of the show comes into view. “The Mandalorian” is a personable story about a battle-ridden man watching over this innocent child as they both travel across the galaxy in search of new bounties while also growing closer in the process.  

Such a simple premise was only a mask hiding the love and care that was put into this series.

“The Mandalorian” became the thing Star Wars fans were waiting for: something new and somewhat risky in nature.

A lot of dreams were fulfilled thanks to “The Mandalorian” such as the return of Boba Fett, the first live-action portrayal of fan-favorite character Ahsoka, and even Luke Skywalker dropped in for the finale of season two thanks to AI technology.

Three years after the premiere of its first season, “The Mandalorian” is still the most popular original series on Disney+ and is now airing its third season with new episodes airing every subsequent Wednesday.

It seems that the future of Star Wars is not in movie theaters but on TV. Since “The Mandalorian” showed such success, Disney+ has become home to several new Star Wars shows built for the platform. Despite all that excitement, fans tend to ask the same question whenever they see Favreau, “When’s the next season of The Mandalorian?”

OPINION | The Marvel Cinematic Universe needs to take a break

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which was once an incredible spectacle of storytelling and fan-favorite characters debuting on the big screen, has now become something far less lucrative.

I remember seeing the trailer for “Iron Man” in 2008. I had never been so excited for a superhero movie in my life. When I saw the film in theaters with my dad and brother, I felt like I was flying at Mach speed along with everyone in the theater.

Robert Downey Jr., as Tony Stark, sold this universe to me at the ripe age of 11 years old, and I was determined to see every bit of the MCU.

Fast forward to the one of the most thrilling midnight premieres I’ve ever been to: “Avengers: Endgame.”

Over 10 years of plot and character building led to one of the best finales to any film saga I’ve ever seen. Even after such an incredible send-off, I couldn’t help but want more. I clearly wasn’t the only one as the film is the second highest-grossing film of all time at the time of writing.

The MCU continued to entice me for a while thanks to the likes of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” However, something seemed to be missing, and I couldn’t quite figure it out.

That is until I talked to Nate Snow, an assistant professor of communication. Snow specializes in pop-culture, so I decided to ask for his opinion about the state of the MCU.

Snow said: “It comes down to what I call homework. People have been putting in homework into the MCU since 2008, and that homework has just built and built, and the universe is getting bigger and bigger. It’s gotten to the point where after Avengers and Thanos, I think audiences needed a reset. They needed a break, but instead, it just feels the universe just continues to grow.”

Along with a multitude of films, the MCU now has a surplus of TV shows on Disney+ that often doesn’t contribute to the larger story as a whole. Snow said in order to truly keep up with the MCU’s developments, you have to watch hours upon hours of content.

This has led to what I would like to call content overdose.

The producers at Disney thought more content is better content, and quantity over quality is what we got. Fans liked the quips of the main characters; they made every character comedic relief. Fans like big CGI spectacles, and visual effects artists struggle to make quality effects on a strict deadline.

The MCU genuinely needs time to breathe. If we just had a 3-year break after “Avengers: Endgame,” then the current reception to films like “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” would have been received better by fans and critics.

Another possible solution would be to build more personable stories in the MCU instead of trying to match the scale of previous films. “The Batman” is a perfect example of this method of storytelling in superhero films. No tease of some overarching plot line; just great storytelling that focuses on making the characters feel genuinely unique to watch.

I have not seen any of the MCU movies since “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” It’s not like I haven’t had the desire to see “Thor: Love and Thunder” or “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” but that desire has diminished greatly since I’ve noticed the degradation of quality in these Marvel films.

The ironic thing is “She Hulk: Attorney at Law” actually made a joke about the problems of formulaic plots and the struggle to produce quality visual effects in Marvel films, but then they continue to make the same mistakes instead of correcting them.

The MCU is proof that too much of one good thing can turn sour. It’s like finding a new favorite ice cream flavor; it’s good in small doses but can often sour for the worse when one eats it all of the time. Here’s hoping the MCU can find a new flavor to bring me back to the movie theater.

‘The Drowsy Chaperone’: A critical look at the return of musicals at Utah Tech

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a step in the right direction for Utah Tech University’s theater department, and while it’s by no means perfect, those who have not seen this hilarious show will have a good time.

Sydney Johnson | Sun News Daily

First, a bit of a PSA: this is the first time Utah Tech’s theater department has put on a musical since the steampunk version of “The Wizard of Oz” in 2018. If the public wishes to see more musicals from the theater department, they need to support their endeavor into somewhat unfamiliar territory. I am not involved in any way, shape or form with this production, but I’m an absolute sucker for good musical theater.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is one of my favorite musicals. It’s filled with meta-commentary about the golden age of musicals and the need to escape from the troubles presented by modern day life. It achieves this through the pseudo-narrator of the show who doesn’t have a name, but is often called “The Man In The Chair.”

The audience is then transported to a Great Depression era musical called “The Drowsy Chaperone” within the confines of the man’s apartment filled with musical theater memorabilia.

Sydney Johnson | Sun News Daily

The show that unfolds is incredibly campy and cheesy with “The Man In The Chair” commenting and interacting with the material like he was a heckler at a comedy show.

What has just been described is usually how it’s supposed to go, but here is where Utah Tech’s theater department decided to take a risk.

The narrator in this version of the show is known as “The Person In The Chair.” They are played by an actor who prefers they/them pronouns, and their costume includes a skirt and classic curlers in their hair.

Sydney Johnson | Sun News Daily

When I first heard about this change, I began to sweat a bit. I have no problem with the choice of actor and subject matter, but what I was worried about was the idea of the theater department prioritizing political matters over a quality show.

Luckily, my worries were unfounded. The spirit of “The Person In The Chair” was infectious in their comedy and stage presence, and I was more than happy to be guided through this show by this variation of the character.

That’s not to say they did a perfect job, but there were unlikely character choices that had me looking at this character in a new light. Some lines I expected to give me a chuckle like usual ended up making me feel sympathy for “The Person In The Chair.”

However, I would’ve liked to see a little more patience in the comedy from them. Comedy is like a loop on a roller coaster. You tread up an incline before starting the approach to the loop, this is the setup of the joke. Then you have a sense of floating while you experience the apex of the loop, this is the comedic pause before the punchline. Lastly, the final bit of adrenaline in the drop of the loop along with the straightway of speed, this is the punchline and reaction.

Long story short, I wish “The Person In The Chair” would have relished in the joy of the comedic pause.

Sydney Johnson | Sun News Daily

Meanwhile, the other characters of the show seemed to be severely toned down in the campiness and cheesiness that I’m used to when it comes to “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Case in point, Aldolpho, one of my favorite characters in the show, was missing a bit of the crazy edge he usually has. He is usually a comedically bad stereotype of Europeans while also being over-the-top in the best way possible.

The Utah Tech version is still wacky, but it felt like the actor wasn’t allowed to take that extra step into campy town that I was hoping for.

Same goes for the character of The Drowsy Chaperone. What is usually an almost incomprehensible mess of hilarious drunken quandaries has turned into someone I could realistically see at a bar.

There lies the problem I have with the theater department’s version of this show. I’ve seen what these characters can be since I’ve seen the show many times through many performing companies.

Sydney Johnson | Sun News Daily

The only one who is supposed to be somewhat stable in character is “The Man In The Chair.” Once the musical begins to unfold in the man’s living room, every character needs to be a time capsule of over-the-top nonsense that encapsulates everything crazy about the golden age of musical theater.

So, would I recommend seeing “The Drowsy Chaperone” at Utah Tech?

I would if you’ve never seen the show before. While I wasn’t as impressed with the more grounded versions of the characters, the co-workers who were with me had never seen the show before and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Sydney Johnson | Sun News Daily

If you’ve seen “The Drowsy Chaperone,” you are going to be disappointed with what’s presented. This is due to different choices that may not be to everyone’s taste. This also includes the omission of the best gags that happens during the “intermission.” If you’ve seen the show before, you know what I’m talking about.

Overall, students need to show their support for this show. I say this because while I wasn’t blown away with the quality of the production, this is a step in the right direction for the theater department. Musical theater is such a big facet of the arts, and it’s an absolute shame they don’t indulge in spontaneous song and dance more often.

Here’s hoping this isn’t a one time showing for musicals at Utah Tech.

5 big entertainment releases for February 2023

February is not just about valentines and presidents. It can also be quite the month for entertainment, and it seems like this month is set to deliver this year.

Here are five big releases for February 2023 to keep your eye on.

Hogwarts Legacy

The Wizarding World and its titular school of witchcraft and wizardry are back in this new video game from Portkey Games and Avalanche Software.

The player takes on the role of a new fifth year student at Hogwarts, but academics are just a small part of the overall experience in Hogwarts Legacy. Learning new spells, brewing potions and fighting off a goblin uprising are only some of the antics one will find.

Hogwarts Legacy, despite facing some controversy, has managed to receive both critical and financial acclaim. Before the game officially released, Steam had a concurrent count of 500,000 players on average.

While the Wizarding World has been trying new things since the end of the Harry Potter films, this particular endeavor seems to have bore the fruit that the producers of WB Games, the publisher of the title, were been hoping for.

Hogwarts Legacy is available now on PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S, and will be available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One April 4. A Nintendo Switch version is also in development and is expected to release in July.

“Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania”

This film marks the beginning of phase five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While phase four did not receive much critical success after the climactic end of “Avengers: Endgame,” the third installment of Ant-Man’s adventures will introduce the next major villain for the entire MCU.

Kang The Conqueror is the main antagonist in this film and will also be the main antagonist for the overarching plotline of the MCU for the next couple of years. Jonathan Majors, who is portraying the big villain, made his debut in a less evil capacity in the Disney+ series “Loki,” but this version of Kang will be the dictator that fans of the comics know so well.

Early impressions of “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” vary depending on the publication, but one common thread found in each of the reviews is a surplus of praise for Jonathan Majors and his portrayal of Kang The Conqueror.

The film will release exclusively in theaters Feb. 17. You can expect to see a Disney+ release in April.

PlayStation VR2

The follow up to the 2016 Playstation VR headset has been met with a bit of disdain due to the pricing of the device. PlayStation VR2 is $550, which is expensive by itself, but you also need to own a PlayStation 5 in order to use the headset. PlayStation 5 models range from $400 to $500 depending on if you want a disc drive. Do the math and you’ve got to have at least $1000 in your bank account in order to experience it.

With all that being said, the crazy thing is that early adopters of the new headset say it’s worth it. While this has been toted by Sony as the best virtual reality experience on console, this may just become the best virtual reality experience on the market in general.

If you can get past the financial hurdle that comes with owning this piece of tech, keep an eye out when PlayStation VR2 releases Feb. 22.

“Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey”

When a character like Winnie the Pooh becomes public domain, one can’t help but imagine what kind of new takes on the character we will see. For instance, Pooh and Piglet deciding to eat all their friends in the 100-Acre Wood.

Hence, we now have “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” and its quest to bring a new take on a beloved character that you would never see from Disney.

“Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey,” which is in fact a slasher horror film, will release in theaters starting Feb. 15.

Metroid Prime Remastered

Something like Metroid Prime Remastered can be described as a dream come true. Not only did that dream come to fruition, it was also announced and released on the same day.

Metroid Prime Remastered is an enhanced version of the original Metroid Prime released on Nintendo GameCube in 2002. The player takes on the role of Samus Aran—a bounty hunter who doesn’t let anyone or anything get in her way of accomplishing her goals.

The player accomplishes said goals by exploring a planet rife with dangerous flora and fauna while collecting new weapons and upgrades for Samus’ power suit.

Needless to say, Metroid Prime is one of the best gaming experiences when it came out in 2002 and has only aged better with time.

Metroid Prime Remastered is available for Nintendo Switch through the Nintendo eShop and will be available physically starting Feb. 22.

2023 is already filled with variety through multiple mediums of entertainment, and it seems the excitement is far from over.

OPINION | Hogwarts Legacy is proof the Wizarding World doesn’t need J.K. Rowling.

The Wizarding World has conjured a new enchantment in the form of Hogwarts Legacy, a video game mimicking student life at Hogwarts, and to many fans of the Harry Potter universe, it’s proof this beloved property doesn’t need J.K. Rowling to thrive.

Rowling, the creator of the Wizarding World, has been under ridicule due to her views on transgender rights. This lead to sites like the Gaming Forum focused Resetera to blacklist Hogwarts Legacy, meaning that they will not support anything regarding the game.

However, it’s important to note Rowling had no creative involvement with the upcoming game, but due to the nature of her role with the intellectual property, she will most likely receive royalties from the success of Hogwarts Legacy.

This has not stopped Avalanche and Portkey Games, the developers behind Hogwarts Legacy, from showing support for the transgender community.

The player’s student life in Hogwarts Legacy will take them to Hogsmeade; a bustling village that’s a short stroll away from Hogwarts. It’s there where they’ll meet Sirona Ryan; the barkeep of The Three Broomsticks. Sirona is a transgender woman.

In an interview with IGN, Avalanche said this was intended from the beginning, as they wanted Hogwarts Legacy to represent the variety of fans that enjoy the Wizarding World.

Rowling’s views do not represent the Wizarding World as a whole.

While this is definitely a win for those worried about representation in Hogwarts Legacy, the looming idea that Rowling will still benefit from the success of the game still leaves a bad taste for many of the fans.

Now that the facts have been laid out, allow me to give my take on the situation.

Avalanche Software, Portkey Games and all the various outside help for the game encompass hundreds of people who have been toiling away at this project for some five years and possibly more.

To blacklist a product for the actions of one individual person seems pretty short-sighted to me, especially since there was no creative involvement from Rowling in the first place.

I do agree Rowling has been rather inconsiderate in the way she’s conveyed her opinion on transgender rights, but she is only one, albeit prominent voice that doesn’t know the true value that comes with a productive fanbase.

This shines true in my experience with Hogwarts Legacy so far. While I have not explored every corner of Hogwarts’ famous halls, I can say I haven’t had this much fun with the Wizarding World since the last Harry Potter film released in 2011.

The moment I was allowed to freely explore Hogwarts, I immediately felt the same sense of wonder I felt when I first watched “Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone.” The big difference between the movie and the game is the player being a key part of the story.

Creating my own student, learning new spells, attending classes and getting lost in the famed wizarding school has been an absolute joy as someone who enjoys everything Harry Potter.

Well, mostly everything anyway.

Rowling’s efforts with “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and it’s various sequels have been solid at best and abysmal at worst. This shows in the overall reception for the films—with the third film being especially noticeable—as it showed up on many worst films of 2022 lists. I honestly wasn’t sure if the Wizarding World could ever live up to the Harry Potter books and films but then along came Hogwarts Legacy.

The future of the Wizarding World is in good hands if more creative entities, like Avalanche Software, are able to create interesting content through a variety of mediums. The care for the source material, and what made Harry Potter so intriguing, has been carefully preserved through the care given to Hogwarts Legacy.

If such an effort goes to waste all because of difference in opinion, then that would be a bigger disappointment than anything Rowling has written since the original books were finished.

Star Wars and Marvel Comics have been able to move on without their original creators, and the Wizarding World can survive without input from Rowling without a doubt.

When controversial opinion drifts into massive multi-media franchises like this one, it can cause a ripple effect that will echo far into the future. I only hope Hogwarts Legacy will be a special case that pushes through controversy by showing unbridled quality.

According to Steam, one of the leading PC gaming marketplaces, the average concurrent players who are experiencing Hogwarts Legacy numbers at the time of writing is about 500,000 people. Judging by this number, I would say it’s entirely possible for video games to be the new norm for the Wizarding World and no Rowling required.

The joyous return of Brendan Fraser

It’s not often you get to see an actor crawl their way out of the blacklist hole of Hollywood, but Brendan Fraser managed to do just that, and it’s amazing to watch him do it.

Thanks to his starring role in “The Whale,” a film about a recluse man nearing ever closer to death due to struggles with obesity, Fraser has been nominated for best actor at The Academy Awards for February 2023.

He’s already won best actor at the 2023 Critic’s Choice Awards. The absolute joy and surprise can be seen on Fraser’s face when his name was called.

During his acceptance speech, Fraser said, “If you, like a guy like Charlie who I played in this movie, in anyway struggle with obesity or you just feel like you’re in a dark sea. I want you to know that if you too can have the strength to just get to your feet and go to the light- good things will happen.”

While this moment of his speech is inspirational, it’s also indicative of Fraser’s journey up to this point.

Fraser was what one might call an action movie heartthrob back in the late ‘90s to early 2000s. Films like “The Mummy (1999),” “Journey to The Center of The Earth” and “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” showcased his popcorn action movie charisma in full display.

However, Fraser felt his career was at an end after he made sexual assault allegations against a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Even though he received an apology from the HFPA higher-up, Fraser thought he was blacklisted from the HFPA and even The Golden Globes.

Fraser was also nominated for best actor at the 2023 Golden Globes for his performance in “The Whale,” and while he didn’t win the award that night, he was no where to be seen at the event.

In an interview with Ian Hanomansing, Fraser said: “It would be too triggering for me to go honestly. I’m not trying to uphold myself as any paragon or spokesperson. I can only live the experience of my life and respect that my mother didn’t raise a hypocrite. I don’t know if I could have in good conscience received an award from them under the circumstances that have less to do with me making a statement, and more to do with remaining true to myself. It’s my fight, no one else’s.”

Fraser’s comment about sexual assault came at a time when such allegations weren’t taken as seriously. The “Me Too” movement hadn’t begun working its way into social media yet.

Seeing Fraser in the public eye once again is something special. You can see that he’s still a little wary about what he says, but the internet can’t get enough of him being back on camera for the world to see.

Some great stories have come to light thanks to his recent press tour of “The Whale.”

For instance, the fact that Fraser received not one, but two seperate six-minute standing ovations while “The Whale” was premiering at film festivals in Europe.

He also got to exchange comedic quips with Graham Norton regarding his disdain for monkeys due to his role in 1997’s “George of the Jungle.”

In the same episode of the “The Graham Norton Show,” he also talked about the fact that he never stopped acting in the first place. He worked on smaller films with smaller budgets. “The Whale” is just an example of what Fraser is truly capable of when the right script and director are in his corner.

Folks on social media have christened this era of his career as the “Brenaissance.”

A title he doesn’t care much for, saying in a humorous manner, “You can call me whatever you want just as long as you’re calling me.”

In YouTube videos featuring Fraser on his press tour, you can take one look at the comments and see how much he’s been missed.

To a lot of adults working today, Fraser was a take no nonsense action star of their childhood. Punching Mummies, wearing loincloths and punching Daffy Duck in the face for good measure.

Having him return to such critical claim is something that can only be described as satisfying and wholesome to the 10th degree.

It’s moments like these that brings hope to actors who are treated with disregard by Hollywood executives. It’s no small feat to be able to come back into the public eye to a standing ovation.

One can only hope this isn’t just a one-time comeback for Fraser, and that we will be living in the “Brenaissance” for quite some time.

5 big entertainment releases for January 2023

January: The month where entertainment goes to die. There are a several reasons for this, but to the surprise of many, including myself, January 2023 is turning into a solid start for the new year.

Here are five pieces of entertainment you should keep your eye on for the rest of January 2023.


What seemed like a new age “Child’s Play” at first glance, this horror-sci-fi film has turned into a surprise for critics and audience members alike. Sitting pretty at a 94% from critics and 79% from patrons on Rotten Tomatoes, Director Gerard Johnstone and Screenwriter Akela Cooper managed to make a compelling tale about an overprotective artificial intelligence seem fresh again.

The 2019 version of “Child’s Play” tried to do the same thing but failed to capture it in a multitude of ways, so it’s great to see the concept come to fruition with “M3GAN.”

You can find still find “M3GAN” in theaters, but as of Jan. 25, you can rent or purchase the film through digital storefronts like Amazon Prime and VUDU.

“Dead Space (2023)”

Due to the closure of Visceral Games, it was unclear as to whether or not the survival-horror franchise would ever rear it’s loveably, ugly head once again. Thanks to Motive Studio and Electronic Arts, this terrifying staple of the genre is back in the form of a remake of the original game from 2008.

Motive Studio has been wonderfully transparent with its development cycle along with regular feedback from the community through occasional beta sessions and play tests.

Should you decide to endure the horror’s of “Dead Space (2023)”-beware- as even the technical director of the project is terrified of what lurks in the void. It will be available for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Series S and PC starting Jan. 27.

“Poker Face”

It’s only been a month since the commercial release of “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” but Rian Johnson is already back in the creative chair along with Natasha Lyonne with this Peacock original series. Just like Johnson’s previous film, this series is a murder mystery comedy.

“Poker Face” is a tribute to classic mystery TV like “Columbo.” What makes the series stand out from its inspiration is the sharp direction from Johnson and the charismatic performance from Lyonne.

The show is a bit rare for streaming platforms that often focus on over-arching storytelling. “Poker Face” follows a classic episodic formula emulating shows like “Murder She Wrote” and the aforementioned “Columbo.” This is not a detrimental factor of the show as it manages to avoid monotonous tropes and cliches that often follow such formulas through witty writing and captivating performances from its cast members.

“Poker Face” will begin streaming its first four episodes on Peacock starting Jan. 26 with new episodes premiering every following Thursday until March 9.

“The Last of Us”

Despite what you may believe, the video game adaptation curse hasn’t been a thing for quite some time. HBO’s take on the PlayStation exclusive of the same name is proof of just that. With a heart wrenching first episode that faithfully recreated the games intro with fascinating world building as well as incredible performances from Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. It’s no wonder that this series is already breaking records for viewership on HBO Max. “The Last of Us” has been able to bring interest back into the post-apocalyptic genre that has been oversaturated for the past decade thanks to “The Walking Dead” and its various spin-offs. It does so, not through terror or fear, but through strong characters and high stakes for the situations presented through the screen.

If you feel like you need to play the source material in order to enjoy it, eject that notion from your head. The show has been able to live up to its namesake by actually adapting and respecting the video game it’s based on. Meaning, whether you’re a fan of the games or just wanting to find the next big show, this drama’s got you covered.

“The Last of Us” premieres new episodes every Sunday on HBO and it’s streaming service HBO Max until the season finale on March 12.

“Goldeneye 007”

Now, if you wanted to get technical, this game originally released over 25 years ago but here’s why it’s here for January 2023.

For the first time ever since its original release, this revolutionary title will be re-released to the public on Jan. 27, and it’s an absolute miracle.

“Goldeneye 007” was a first-person shooter released for the Nintendo 64 in 1997. What was originally a movie tie-in game of the classic James Bond film, it revolutionized the medium of video games as a whole.

It did so thanks to the inclusion of four player split-screen multiplayer, a practice that has been adopted by countless first-person shooters since then. If you’ve ever heard the term “screen cheating” before, you now know where it originated.

This 25-year-old game has been subjected to many legal disputes due to the nature of the character that adorns the cover. The fact that it’s finally being brought back for a modern generation after so long is a testament to how beloved it really is.

“Goldeneye 007” will release on Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack and Xbox Game Pass on Jan. 27.

It’s not often we get such a wealth of media so early in the new year, let alone in January. Film especially tends to be lackluster before the award season. One can only hope this is a good omen for entertainment throughout the rest of 2023.

Jadon Webster: From community beginnings to world-class actor

Sometimes, all it takes is a spark to lead to greatness. Such a spark is what allowed Jadon Webster to pursue something new and become the leading man for an international tour of “West Side Story.”

Webster’s family members were primarily focused on athletics when it came to hobbies, and Webster was no exception. At least that’s how it would have been had he not gone to see his brother’s high school production of “Into the Woods.”

“I was sitting on the front row,” Webster said. “I still have vivid images and memories of watching him and other people in that show that I knew, and you know, I think that was when the seed was first planted.”

Much like a seed, Webster would need to begin to explore his talents as a performer before he could bud and bloom. For him, it started with small things like singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at his two sisters’ volleyball game. This wasn’t just a surprise to his family, but also a surprise to himself.

“I don’t how I got roped into it, but I somehow got signed up to sing the national anthem,” Webster said. “My parents had no idea that I could sing or that I could even carry a tune. So, they show up, and I just casually mention ‘Oh yeah, by the way, I’m singing the national anthem.’ Then they were just floored.”

Webster continued to grow his talents by taking risks like auditioning for his high school’s musical with his best friend. Little by little, Webster would become well known in the musical theater community of St. George as he continued to expand his skillset and knowledge as a fledgling actor.

It wasn’t long after he was fully committed to the theater lifestyle that he began to land role after role at the many community theaters in southern Utah. Some of his credits in St. George include Marius in “Les Misérables,” Monty Navarro in “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” and the role of Joseph in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Webster even dabbled as the villain on occasion. Such was the case when he performed as Captain Black Stache in Dixie State University’s production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.”

“Some of the most memorable roles I’ve played, Black Stache is definitely one of them,” Webster said. “That was a unique role for me because I hadn’t gotten the chance to play that more villain type yet.”

Eventually however, Webster wanted to gain experience outside of his stomping grounds. Webster took another risk in 2018 by moving to New York City. Unlike St. George, it was more difficult to gain recognition on Broadway.

Many actors tend to struggle when it comes to audition season in New York City. Webster did manage to land a couple of call-backs at his time in the big apple, which is more than most actors can manage most of the time, but the sense of rejection and not belonging is a feeling that’s all too common in musical theater.

“I moved to the city in 2018, and I tried to go into that experience with the mindset of knowing that I probably wasn’t going to book anything, that I was just going to get my feet wet,” Webster said. “Even after all that, you still have to go through so much rejection, you know? You go into so many auditions, and you feel like you aren’t being seen. That wears on you, and there is always a bit of wear and tear.”

Webster had to look at the bigger picture when he wondered if he was good enough.

Despite the doubt, Webster said, “I can’t see myself doing anything else, so I’m just gonna keep going.”

That determination is what led him to an audition of the international tour of “West Side Story.” To the surprise of him, his friends and family in St. George, Webster landed the leading role of Tony.

Webster’s mom, Denise Webster, remembers working in the garage of their family home when Webster found out that he landed the role. After hugging and jumping around their home in excitement for 15 minutes, a more internal joy began to swell within her heart as a mother.

Denise said: “It just makes me cry, you know? It’s really kind of surreal because he’s still my little boy, but you’re just watching them on this big stage and it’s so incredible. I think it’s just really emotional because you just know it’s been their dream and they’re dreaming big. It doesn’t happen to everyone. Sometimes the odds aren’t stacked in your favor, but to see him stick it out and get this opportunity? It’s just been amazing, and very emotional.”

New York City was about to look small by comparison, as this tour would take Webster to locales like Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Dubai.

He would get to perform in venues that were once trod upon by legends such as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones while expressing his art. It was big, but all big productions begin with a simple group reading of the script.

Webster said: “The first day, our first read through of the show was pretty profound to me. I don’t know what it was about that day; I think it was the spirit and energy in the room and all the excitement and everyone wanted to be there. The result was just magical, and I was really emotional through it.”

As he made his way through the first previews of the tour in Germany, the same parents that were surprised to find that Webster could sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” flew to see Webster perform as the leading man in a world-class production.

“It’s pretty special,” Webster said. “I think my mom is even more excited and grateful than I am, which is saying a lot because I’ve been pretty beside myself this whole time and she takes it to the next level. So having her and also my dad and my grandma come to Germany was really special, and I’ll never forget that.”

Webster is living proof that the biggest achievements come from the smallest of beginnings. It’s not often that dreams this big come true, but that’s just a testament to the dedication that is seen in this world-class actor.