Category: DVDs

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 132 minutes

GENRE: Action/Adventure, Superhero

TEASER: See where it all began.

SUMMARY: The story begins with a look at Charles and Erik’s childhood. Erik is a a prisoner at a German concentration camp in occupied Poland. He is being kept there and experimented on so that they can exploit his powers. Charles Xavier catches a young shape-shifting mutant, Raven, stealing food one night and decides to adopt her as his sister. We move ahead to the year 1962. Erik has been tracking down the doctor how experimented on him and killed his mother, Sebastian Shaw. He seeks to get his revenge any way necessary. Charles is now a professor of genetic mutations. Meanwhile, a CIA agent Moira MacTaggert is seeking Charles help in identifying the mutants she saw on an investigation. She gets the help of Charles and Ranen to help stop these mutant terrorists. While investigating them, they run into Erik who has just failed to kill Shaw. Charles convinces him to join them and help stop Shaw and Emma Frost from killing all of humanity. Now they must seek out new mutants and train them to fight their own kind in order to protect the human race.

CRITIQUE: There is very little negatives that I can say about this film. The movie was well cast and well written. The problem with some of these films is that they are taking characters that have been developing and changing for years. They are very complicated and the subtle nuances are difficult to pull off. The writers did an excellent job at exploring the complex relationship between Charles Xavier and Magneto. I also appreciated the attention paid to Mystique’s character, another complex character within the Marvel universe. The score to the movie was also fitting and added atmosphere to the scenes. The only think lacking were the special effects. Normally this can make or break a movie but the writing and character development was so well done that I hardly cared about the badly done CGI.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: Matthew Vaughn is an English film director and producer. He actually studied anthropology and ancient history at University College London. However, it was short-lived. He soon dropped out and moved to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. He has also directed Kick-Ass, Stardust, and Layer Cake. He is married to supermodel Claudia Schiffer. They have three children together.


CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some people might be opposed to the sexual situations, violence, and terrorism that are in this movie.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.


BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Discuss the topic of genetic evolution. Do you think that the mutants will someday outnumber the humans? Will humans eventually disappear?

WHY INCLUDED: Comic book movies are becoming immensely popular. I felt that this was the best one this year.


Easy A

Easy A Directed by Will Gluck
Written by Bert V. Royal
Released: 2010
Runtime: 92 minutes
Rated; PG-13

GENRE: Teen Comedy

TEASER: Olive lies about losing her virginity and suddenly she’s the school harlot. What does she do? Brands herself with a scarlet A and plays it up.

Summary: It all starts when Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) lies to her best friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) to get out of a camping trip. He tells her she is dating a college boy. When Rhannon keeps pressuring her for information, she ends up lying about losing her virginity. Marianne (Amanda Bynes), a popular girl in charge of a religious abstinence group, overhears and her lie is suddenly going around the entire school. Suddenly she has social outcasts coming to her asking if she will lie about having sex with them. So she sews scarlet letters on all of her clothes to make a social statement and plays up the rumor. But eventually Olive wonders if anyone is ever going to treat her with respect. She’s losing friend, making enemies, and guys are treating her like garbage. It’s time for Olive to tell the truth.

CRITIQUE: The writing is witty and funny. The main character is quirky and comfortable with who she is. The main theme of the movie is female sexuality and the labels that are placed on girls who are sexually active. Olive acts out against this stereotype by perpetuating the image. If people are going to call her a slut, she’s going to take it and run with it. She’s not afraid of what people are saying about her at first. However, when all of the guys and some of her teachers start treating her badly Olive wonders if any of this was ever worth it.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: Will Gluck is a film and television director, screenwriter, and producer. Other movies he has worked on are Fired Up and Friends with Benefits. The television series he has worked on are The John Larroquette Show, Grosse Pointe, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Luis, and The Loop. He says his favorite film is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Before Bert V. Royal wrote Easy A, he working in casting for Chappelle’s Show and Third Watch. He claims to have written the entire screenplay, except for the last ten pages, for Easy A in five days.


CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some might object the to sexual situations in this film.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.

CURRICULUM TIES: It could be shown in conjunction with reading The Scarlet Letter.

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: What would you do if everyone at school treated you like you were promiscuous because of something someone else said?

WHY INCLUDED: This is one of my favorite teen films because the main character is sassy and confident with herself.

Ouran High School Host Club Complete Boxed Set
Japanese Titles: 桜蘭高校ホスト部 Ōran Kōkō Hosuto Kurabu
Produced by Funimation
Released: March, 2010
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 625 minutes
Episodes: 26

GENRE: Anime Comedy

TEASER: “The Ouran host Club is where the school’s handsomest boys with too much time on their hands entertain young ladies who also have way too much time on their hands.” (quote from first episode)

SUMMARY: Haruhi Fujioka has just gotten a scholarship to the prestigious Ouran Academy. On her first day, she is trying to find a quiet place to study and ends up in the music room. Instead of a solitude, she finds the Ouran Academy Host Club, an odd group of six male students. She accidentally breaks a very expensive vase and is indebted to them. Tomaki, mistaking Haruhi for a boy insists that she become a host like them. After they realize that Haruhi is a girl, they decide to let her stay on as a host to pay off her debt.

CRITIQUE: This anime is filled with crazy characters that you are sure to fall in love with. Haruhi is a calm and thoughtful contrast to the wacky gang of host club members. She is often the one to talk reason into them. They quickly grow to lover her simplicity and sweet nature. The American voice actors are well matched to the characters. The style if very closely tied to the manga. It is a very light-hearted anime with tons of hilarious dialogue. The characters are all unique and are looked at throughout the series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This anime is based off of a manga series by Bisco Hatori, or Hatori Bisuko. Hatori is a female mangaka (manga artist). She was born in Saitama, Japan. She has also worked for LaLa magazine, a monthly shōjo magazine.

Her other works are A Romance of One Moment and Millennium Snow. Millennium Snow was on hiatus since 2002 while she was working on Ouran High School Host Club. Ouran High School Host Club was finished in 2010.





BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Most people would care if they were mistaken for the opposite sex. Why do you think it doesn’t bother Haruhi?

WHY INCLUDED: This is one of my favorite anime series. It is filled with fun stories and crazy characters that are addictive to watch.

Japanese Titles: トライガン Toraigan
Written and Illustrated by Yasuhiro Nightow
Produced by Funimation
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 650 minutes
Episodes: 26

GENRE: Anime, Wester, Post Apocalypse, Science Fiction

TEASER: Vash the Stampede, the 60 billion double dollar man finds trouble wherever he goes. With two meddlesome but lovable insurance girls and a gunslinging priest, this is sure to be the adventure of a lifetime.

SUMMARY: Vash the Stampede, the infamous outlaw with a 60 billion double dollar bounty on his head is known for turning entire towns into rubble. Milly and Meryl and representatives from the Bernardelli Insurance Society sent to find Vash the Stampede and stop the destruction he is known to cause. Along the way, they meet Nicholas D. Wolfwood, a gunslinging priest with a lot of secrets. Vash can hardly keep the bounty hunters off his back and he has a feeling they are being lead to him by his evil twin, Knives.

CRITIQUE: This series is extremely well written. The dialogue is witty and fun. The characters are loveable, even some of the villans. Most of the episodes are self contained. However, there is an overarching theme throughout the series of the morality of taking a life. Vash is unyielding in his stance that you should never take a life no matter what. His twin brother Knives feels the exact opposite. Where Vash is the moral absolute, Knives is the immoral absolute. he doesn’t care who he hurts because he hates humans so much.

I’m not going to lie. I am a little obsessed with this series. I can’t count how many time I’ve watched it. Like many other fans, I first saw Trigun on the Cartoon Network. I’ve been a fan ever since. This is the type of series that will create a lifelong fan.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yasuhiro Nightow is a mangaka (manga artist) and game creator. He has been a manga artist for approximately eleven years. Before that he studied social sciences and media studies. He is also responsible for creating the characters and story for Gungrave, a shooter video game.





BOOKTALKING IDEAS: What do you think happens after Vassh defeats Knives? Where do they go next? how can they possibly resolve their different stances on the morality of taking a life?

WHY INCLUDED: Trigun is one of my top favorite anime series. It’s a classic that will appeal to boys and girls.

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club directed by John Hughes
ASIN: 078322687X
Released: 1985
Runtime: 97 minutes
Rating: R

GENRE: Teen Drama

TEASER: This is one Saturday detention that will change their lives forever.

SUMMARY: The movie takes place inside a school library during a Saturday detention. There are five teenagers who are all in for different thing and who don’t know each other. They all come from very different cliques. There is the Andrew (Emilio Estevez) is the ‘athlete’. Claire (Molly Ringwald) is the rich, popular girl or the ‘princess’. Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) is the socially awkward ‘brain’. John (Judd Nelson) is the ‘criminal’ of the group. And then there’s Allison (Ally Sheedy), the ‘basketcase’. Throughout the day they realize that they are all not that different.

CRITIQUE: Some might say that this movie is too drenched in stereotypes. I feel like the stereotypes work well for the overall message of the film. I feel like it was better to stereotype the characters so severely. This way, when they realize that they aren’t so different, it has more meaning. It helped to emphasize the overall message that no matter what social class or clique we come from, we are not that different. This film is a classic that can be appreciated by people of that generation and teenagers today.

Even though the characters are stereotyped, they are not one-dimensional. They all have fears, hope, and needs. Each of them wants acceptance from someone. They all have people in their lives that don’t understand them or appreciate them. For all of them, their parents are a large part of the problem. Andrews father puts too much pressure on him to belong and Claire feels used by her parents failing marriage. Allison feels that her parents don’t notice her at all. John’s father is drunk and abusive. Brian’s father expects him to keep up good grades. All of them feel misunderstood by their peers and their parents. But through sharing their feelings with one another, they might be able to understand each other.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: John Wilden Hughes, Jr. was a film director, producer, and screenwriter. He directed some of the most successful films of the 80s and 90s. Hughes started his career selling jokes to comedians.

Hughes has directed and produced some of the most memorable teen movies that transcend the generation gap. Some of the teen movies he has directed are: Some Kind of Wonderful, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Weird Science.

Hughes died of a heart attack in August of 2009 at the age of 59. At the 2010 Academy Award, they included a tribute to his life’s work.


CHALLENGE ISSUES: People might object to the profanity or talk of sexual situations and drug use.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.


BOOKTALKING IDEAS How do you feel the stereotypes in this film fit in with teen movies today? Have they changed?

WHY INCLUDED I feel like this is the quintessential teen drama. When I think of a teen flick, I think of the brat pack.