“Bad Genius”: High risk, high reward

Foreign Film Series hits of spring semester with thrill and high action…about good grades

ROSEMARY SCHWEITZER

schwe035@rangers.uwp.edu

Listen up bitches courtesy of imdb
Lynn explains her final plan to Pat and Grace     COURTESY OF IMDB

Cheating. Most students have either thought of, or actually have cheated on some test at some point in their lives. Those slick enough to get away with it can live freely in anonymity, silently gloating at their success. However, those who are caught are not so lucky. Every few years some college board is under fire for recycling test answers, or having too lax of security measures in their testing rooms. Students who get caught up in these scandals have their test results nullified, are punished by their schools and branded with the moniker of “cheater”. Surprising as it may be, organized cheating rings in Asian countries taking advantage of recycled test forms is a constant issue. “Bad Genius” tackles the strange world of Asian cheating rings in an intense, two hour long, heist-style film.

The heist

Teen genius, Lynn (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying), aids her best friend Grace (Eisaya Hosuwan) in cheating on a test so her grades will be high enough to audition for the school play. Simple enough, and done with good intentions. A one time thing, right? Unfortunately, things get complicated when Grace brings in her boyfriend, who brings in five friends, who all bring in their friends. Suddenly, Lynn is not only one of the two smartest students in school, but she is revered as something of a crime boss, with dozens of students hanging onto her every word and handsomely paying her for her “tutoring” lessons. But what happens when Lynn takes on more “students”? What happens when the tests get harder, the security stricter, the stakes higher?

Not your typical action flick

Unlike many popular heist-style movies, Lynn is the singular mastermind behind the various plots in the film, making her seem unrealistically intelligent, but she is not the only one. Every single one of the people involved in the cheating ring eventually go to pretty extreme lengths to keep from getting caught, though that can partially be explained by how much is on the line for these students.

Also unlike other heist movies, the various characters of “Bad Genius” do not have the familial relationships that many American viewers are used to seeing in films like “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Mission Impossible” or “Fast and Furious 5”. Their relationship is less akin to friendship and is actually closer to a cut and dry business transaction. They remain loyal to each other under threat of getting caught and, not because they genuinely care for one another.

While many of the characters possess more adult attributes, they are still, at their core, relatable teenagers. The teens of “Bad Genius” are rash, self-centered, self-serving, and manipulative in ways that no teen would ever want to admit they are, and yet it is not hard to see oneself in them. There are students all over the world that would go to extreme lengths to get good grades, be accepted to a good school and prove to the adult world that they are no longer just a “kid”. However unlikely as the specific events of this movie may be, it speaks to something that lies deep within most every young adult: the bad genius we all want to be.

Pat and Grace celebrate passing their test courtesy of imdb
Pat and Grace celebrate passing the STIC      COURTESY OF IMDB

Critical acclaim

The film received much critical acclaim, winning seventeen of its twenty-seven award nominations at various national film festivals, and it is not hard to see why.  The film was largely awarded for the stellar acting of the main cast, as well as the direction and editing of the film. Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying (playing Lynn), is a fashion model making her debut to the big screen in “Bad Genius”, and by her performance it is difficult to believe that she is not a well seasoned actress. Likewise, the rest of the cast is relatively new to the feature film seen, but they all present such riveting performances that one wouldn’t notice at first glance.

“Bad Genius” is an adrenaline packed ride of bad decisions and over-complicated schemes from start to finish and a must-see for any lover of thrilling heists or despiser of standardized tests.

“#Sadtrap”: an emotional masterpiece

Local rapper releases tense, conceptual project

TYLER STRAKA

strak006@rangers.uwp.edu

Ever since the rise in popularity of hip-hop music, its mass appeal and influence have reached mainstream and local music scenes alike, and the Racine/Kenosha area is no exception. From the Cactus Club and the Hatrix Bar in Kenosha to Greg’s Catering in Racine, the various venues give room for plenty of artists to perform, and a big example of a local musician is Shaggy No Scoob. Shaggy’s been busy performing his newest records since 2017, and his latest album, “#SadTrap”, is one of the most emotional and impactful releases South-Eastern Wisconsin has witnessed in recent years.

Carefully Detailed Layout

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“#Sadtrap” album cover     COURTESY OF SPOTIFY

 

Drawing from various musical influences and personal experiences, Shaggy crafts a solid pallet that’s both dark and reflective, using melancholy and trap-styled beats to go with the more depressing themes of the project. The intro, sung by DoMo BankZ, is an excellent title track, beginning the introspective tone that the other songs continue. This track leads into the first single, “Losing Control”, featuring Ethan Anomaly and Miggy Bars. Gliding through with swelling synths and perfectly concocted drums, the tales they weave of mental tension and devastating events define themselves on the verses and chorus alike.

From this point onward, the record begins a transformation, bringing out different scenarios with which he explains his thoughts. The primary example here is “Red Light Interlude”, where our protagonist describes his thoughts of running the red light, but just as a means of personal reflection. Other main cuts in this style include “Love Games” and “A Million Years”, the latter featuring Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills. Swirling backdrops and rattling high hats paint the backdrops for these withdrawn and icy songs, and the sung hooks contrast beautifully from the dark, sharp verses.

The Necessities of the Record

When discussing major moments on the record, the outro is a staple, titled “X” after XXXTentacion. Shaggy closes out the record by dedicating his creation to the murdered artist, explains what XXX did for this album’s sound and content, and using the last words to wish him and those closest to him peace and well wishes.

Overall, I was personally really impressed by what Shaggy No Scoob brought to the table here, combining elements of trap rap, emo hip-hop and even slight jazz-rap tendencies for an intoxicating and relatable listen. The personal narratives, the diverse but dense flows and the pretty but enveloping production present a unique adventure to be cherished, both as a studio album and a live experience.

“Kingdom Hearts 3”: I didn’t hate it

Latest installment of beloved game offers more new questions than it answers (Spoiler warning)

HOLLACE VILLARREAL

Villa068@rangers.uwp.edu

The game

“Kingdom Hearts 3” is the ninth game in the Kingdom Hearts series, though it is the first real made-for-console game released since “Kingdom Hearts 2”. The game follows Sora, the protagonist of the series, as he looks for the Power of Waking throughout different Disney themed worlds.

In this game, Sora and his friends are trying to find the seven guardians of light. Ultimately, Sora’s goal is to defeat his enemy, Xehanort, and Xehanort’s “Organization XIII”.

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Sora, Donald, and Goofy face off against Organization XIII     COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS

The overall plotline

The Kingdom Hearts series has a notoriously complex plotline, so complex that “Kingdom Hearts 3” comes with over a half hour of recap videos available on the title screen before the game even starts. The backstory that stretched out over the last nine games is repeated many times over the course of the game’s cutscenes. I found this annoyingly repetitive. As someone familiar with the franchise, nothing in the first half of the game was new information.

The worlds

As Kingdom Hearts is a blend of Final Fantasy and Disney, there was a fair amount of Disney worlds. Personally, I was a fan. I felt like each of the worlds were fleshed out, had interesting storylines, and had fun new game mechanics to work with. While the musical cutscenes in Arendelle (the world based on the movie “Frozen”) were frankly awkward, and the plot and length of San Fransokyo (based on the movie “Big Hero 6”) left much to be desired, the worlds were overall pretty good.

I was disappointed that no Final Fantasy characters made an appearance in the entire game. Though they have not made big appearances since “Kingdom Hearts 2” and “Birth by Sleep”, the characters added a lot to the games. By removing them, the game seemed to be missing something.

Kairi: Princess of heart, guardian of light

In the original “Kingdom Hearts” game Kairi was a main character. She went missing early in the game and Sora and Riku were both separately trying to find her. In the game, she was shown to be a “Princess of Heart”, a vague term that referred to characters with exceptional “light”. Because of her status as a “Princess of Heart”, Kairi was able to return Sora’s heart to him, when he gave up his life to save her.

In “Kingdom Hearts 2” Kairi also played a key role, showing how the outside world had forgotten the events of the original game. Though she did not have a whole lot of personality in this sequel, she still had self-sufficient qualities and even fought off a kidnapper and escaped a cell.

In “Kingdom Hearts 3”, Kairi has been training to become a keyblade wielder. Her aptitude for the keyblade was hinted at in “Birth by Sleep” where Aqua bequeathed her a keyblade. The game also mentions how there are new “Princesses of Heart”, but that Kairi is still one of them, along with a guardian of light.

It’s unforgivable that, in her first fight–after all this training–she is immediately defeated. She’s kidnapped by the villain and he shatters her in front of Sora.

Before this fight, Kairi only talked to Sora twice, and both times were stilted and awkward. The writing was strange, and her previously lively character was flat and uninteresting. She offered Sora a paopu fruit–a symbol of intertwining their destinies–without any lead up, creating an awkward atmosphere. This romance subplot fell flat.

After she was shattered, Sora vowed to get her back, even if it destroyed him. The game ends with everyone back and safe on Destiny Islands, except Sora–who seemingly gave up his life for her.

The game wasn’t awful

Overall the game was a fun time, I enjoyed playing it. After so long, I expected a better plotline that actually made all of the aspects of the overly complex storyline fall together. I was disappointed with how the game handled previously strong female characters. They appeared watered down and less powerful than they were in their original games. Again, it was fun–but it could have been so much better.

Trans support around the globe

Gabrielle Tucker

tucke026@rangers.uwp.edu

LGBTQ community rises to take a stand for their rights and their voices to be heard.

To be heard and treated with respect

The transgender community takes a stand and speaks out about the ongoing hate and discrimination that the LGBTQ community is faced with. With the many judgmental people of society, it is hard for this community to be able to be themselves when there are so many dangers that they have to face. Trans people may face harassment, assault, and homophobic slurs just because of who they are. With it being 2019, everyone should be able to be who they are without having to look over their shoulder or be afraid to be the real version of themselves. That is why in order to fight against such prejudiced people, and address the struggles of human rights there will be trans marches to get people to become more aware of the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community.

Trans marches and protests

The Trans Marches were created to empower those who feel like they have no voice and give trans people a space to be themselves. There are also protests where the community fights for their equal rights and to be treated fairly. The vision that the  LGBTQ +community wants to achieve with these marches and protests is a more safe and stable environment, support of other communities, representation in social justice services, an end to abuse, and more. Last year’s Trans March was the fifteenth annual trans march in San Francisco, California which also has the distinction of being the largest trans pride event in the United States. Celebrities also take part in raising awareness for these marches and protests, like Laverne Cox from “ Orange is the New Black”. She is transgender and a LGBTQ+ activist that takes pride in encouraging people to be themselves.

Upcoming Trans March

The latest upcoming trans march will be called “National Trans Visibility Marchand was set to to be on Mar. 31, and Apr. 1 but the date was later changed due to the fact that April 1 is April Fools Day. The event is planned for Sept. in Washington D.C.

Stay Safe in the Midwest’s brutal cold

Krystal Dodge

thorn008@rangers.uwp.edu

Living the Midwest, you can experience some pretty horrendous weather. In the last couple weeks, we experienced a polar vortex. According the Weather Channel at least 17 deaths were linked to the polar vortex, as well as frostbite. These temperatures can be life threatening.  In Minnesota wind chill temperatures were as low as – 66 degrees. The United State Postal Service (USPS) was closed for several days, as well as schools and Universities. Staying safe in Wisconsin’s harsh winter weather is important especially for commuting students.

What is Frostbite?

In freezing temperatures frostbite can set in as little as five minutes. Just like water turns to ice when the temperature drops, your fingers, hands, toes, feet – even your nose and ears can freeze. When it’s cold out, exposed skin may get red or sore. This is called frostnip, and it’s an early warning sign of frostbite. If this happens, find warm shelter quickly. Early frostbite affects the top layers of the skin. More advanced cases can go all the way through to the muscles and bones.

There are three stages of frostbite. The first or early stage; Skin turns a pale yellow or white and It may itch, sting, burn, or feel like pins and needles. During the second or intermediate stage skin becomes hard and looks shiny or waxy. When the skin thaws,  blisters filled with fluid or blood form. The last stage skin is very hard and cold to the touch and darkens quickly. It may look blue and later turn black. Some people don’t know they have frostbite because as it gets worse, you can’t feel the area anymore. That’s why it’s important to watch for changes in skin color.

Safety Tips

It is important to dress appropriately for the weather. Limit time in the elements and make sure to cover all exposed skin. It is important to layer your clothes loosely, because it will allow your body heat to flow freely. A three-layer system works best.  The first should be of a material that helps keep you dry. The second goes over the first and should be made of an insulator like wool or fleece. The third should be worn on top and should be wind and waterproof.

There are warming stations throughout Kenosha. There are many emergency services available as well. If you find yourself in need of assistance you can call 211. They can help you find many types of resources to keep you safe in this weather. Most importantly keep yourself safe. If the weather is too severe stay home. Your life is more precious than errands, work, school.

Remember to stay safe out there. Wear warm clothes, and most importantly ask for help if you need it. In the famous words of George R.R. Martin, “nothing burns like the cold”.