Shocked doesn’t begin to describe what I felt while watching the first episode of “The Promised Neverland.” Better than any thriller movie I’ve ever seen, this anime series gave me chills the second it started playing. The first episode of “The Promised Neverland” features a group of 38 kids who live in an orphanage with their “mom.” At first glance, nothing looks out of the ordinary, but in the back of my mind, there’s this feeling that made my skin crawl.
The anime is about an orphanage of children who aren’t allowed to go beyond the gate and high walls surrounding their home. One night, Emma, a joyful and bright 11-year-old, follows after her younger sister, Conny, who got adopted and left her favorite toy bunny behind. On her way to return the bunny to Conny, with her best friend, Norman, they witness a horrifying scene. Gray and lifeless, they see their little sister’s dead body sprawled in the back of a truck, impaled with a rose. As they hide, they witness terrifying demon creatures holding back their urge to get a taste of her body. The “food” is not for demon creatures, but for their higher-ups. Collecting nutrients, the long-fingered demons expose the reality of the orphanage: a farm that raises and harvests children for their “delicious” flavor. Stunned with fear, the children realize they must come up with a plan to escape their deaths before they turn 12, the perfect age for harvest. 
Right off the bat, the anime starts with an ominous scene featuring the three main characters, Emma, Norman and Ray, peering into the other side of the gate that connects to the outside. This scene, although chilling, gives an inside look of what’s to come, referencing how they aren’t allowed to go outside, and showing the dangers that lie beyond the gate. Not only that, but they never shake off the feeling of suspense, even when there are kids playing tag, laughing and having fun. 
Although the first episode shows innocent scenes, the anime does an amazing job with foreshadowing. For example, they show Conny’s name on a calendar, find the gate while playing tag, and one of the children notices that they don’t receive letters from the adopted children. The anime leaves you in the dark, alongside the children, experiencing and realizing everything along the way. 
Just like the foreshadowing, the narration and animation of suspenseful scenes leaves me amazed. The director shows one second clips during certain parts, in order to give the overall scene more depth. An example of this would be when the kids gather near the gate during a game of tag, hoping for a future outside of the house. One of the other children, Gilda, realizes that they haven’t heard back from the kids who have been “adopted.” The directors use one-second scenes, highlighting the phrases “you know what?” and “letters?”. With these small cuts, the scene feels innocent, but gives a sense of fear.
Along with directing, the anime has an amazing soundtrack and sound effects, giving the episode a more profound feel. The use of dripping, shallow water and creeping footsteps gives you a suspenseful, horror movie feel. What I love most about their usage of music is when a hopeful song plays, and then, suddenly, there’s this screeching violin sound after Isabella, the children’s “mom”, finds Conny’s bunny misplaced. Her eyes wide, wearing a creepy murderous look gave me a thrilling chill. 
Overall, this anime was unsettling. In one episode, this show really went from 0 to 100 and was surprising without being random. Right to the point, but not rushed, the first episode gave an inside look of what’s to come in the season. It leaves me at the edge of my seat. Who is on their side? What lies beyond the walls? What does the impaled flower mean? Intense, suspense, foreshadowing and tone, all five stars from me.
Crunchyroll is $6.95 a month, https://www.crunchyroll.com/the-promised-neverland
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On the second floor of a small brick building tucked away on a side street right around the corner from Dudley Square, is Y.O.U. Boston: a nonprofit organization that helps youth ages 16-24 who are court-involved or gang-affiliated by providing them with a space to invest in their futures. The people they serve are either reentering their community after being incarcerated or seeking a safe space away from violence and poverty. On their website, they showcase their mission to “empower and motivate young people to gain the educational, employment, and career advancement necessary to be successful in the workforce, in the community, and in their lives.” 
Though their office seems typical, simplistic and plain with its gray cubicles and a couple of computer labs, it contains people who truly care and are actually excited to meet you. 
One of these wonderful people is Carlos Barbosa. He is a case manager who grew up in Dorchester and attended Boston Public Schools. With his caring and thoughtful demeanor, he expresses so much love for his work and helping youth. His cubicle was gray and small but showcased his pride in his job through photos of him and youth he works with. Even though his cubicle looked small, his desk was filled with papers that were in a chaotic but organized placement, which he seemed to know like the back of his hand because he could find everything he was looking for with ease. Growing up in the city, Barbosa knows his way around the neighborhoods of Boston, so don’t be surprised if you randomly see him going down one of your neighborhood's streets. He likes to be active in the community and check up on those he cares for. 
“I grew up in Dorchester, so I grew up on Adam Street,” he said. “I lived there my whole life and recently just moved to Milton. But I'm moving back to Dorchester again...I kind of do miss being in the city” 
His journey to Y.O.U. Boston was atypical because he wasn’t necessarily looking for this type of job. It was nothing like he had done before, as he had only previously worked at City Sports in downtown Boston and small construction jobs on the side.
“With the construction background…I applied to Y.O.U.,” he said. “They were looking for a supervisor for that time in the project that they had was right there in Marine Industrial Park and it was like a demolition project so they were looking for someone to take down the fence and things like that.”
Barbosa explained that his day-to-day “depends on the caseload.” Sometimes he is only at the office trying to find youth resources and reaching out to them, and other days he is in the community with youth advocating for them. 
When I asked him if he had any challenges when working for Y.O.U. Boston, he said, “I wouldn't say a challenge really, I think it's just kind of figuring out each youth and how to best help them.” He went on to explain that even though this wasn’t the job he thought he would be doing when he was young, he truly loves helping youth work towards their futures. He expressed that he wants to create strong relationships with the youth he works with and get them to trust him with their feelings and future goals, all the while believing that he will do whatever he can to help them as long as they put in the same effort and time.
“I remember one time when with a youth, he was applying to Job Corps…and the only one that they had was in Vermont,” he said. “So I grabbed one of the vans [and] we took a trip out there just me and him…No, I didn't feel like I was going out my way, you know, going to Vermont that I was just doing my job with them.”                            
When we ended our interview, it seemed like a weight had been lifted off of his chest. He was 100% authentic when answering my questions. He told me before we started that he had been preparing all morning and even gathered examples of case files before I could ask how they organize files. He was thorough in his explanations and made sure I understood.
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Unlike on weekdays, Robert Lewis Jr. was wearing casual clothes. He was coaching baseball boys by cheering them on, telling them to look at the ball and even after the three outs, he hugged the boys, patted their heads and told them to keep working hard because more innings were coming up. 
Lewis Jr. was born in 1960. He is one of six kids and grew up in public housing and public schools. While his mother had to raise him as a single mother, he still feels like he had everything because she raised her children with love and affection and taught them how to be responsible.
“My whole life from youth to now is hopefully about being responsible, accountable, appreciating life and the people around me,” Lewis Jr. said.
When he was a 16-year-old, racial tensions were high, and his house was firebombed. Lewis Jr. and his whole family were evicted from their home and left with nothing. He then decided that he wanted to do something positive and something right in his life. His passion for young folks came through sports. He has found that sports are a great way of teaching you life skills, values, and many other things. 
Lewis Jr. founded THE BASE as a youth-development organization that works with students through sports. Right now it offers baseball, softball, and basketball, but the organization hopes to add other sports as it continues to grow nationally and internationally as well.
I was most interested to ask him about how he named the organization THE BASE. He told me that the name represents the base that you can stand on, as an individual, and the base of your roots. 
“What I wanted to do is to use sports to shift the trajectory for young black and Latino folks and we were coming up and trying to figure out a name,” he explained. “We started thinking about a foundation, we needed something that's the base, the base of where you stand, the base of your roots, and all of a sudden, it became The BASE.” 
Lewis Jr.’s goal was to show black and Latino youth how to be creative and resilient in this world. “People think that we are living in a risky community,” he said. “We are not, you give us an opportunity and all we have to do is succeed and be as great as we can.” 
After reflecting on my time with Lewis Jr., I can honestly say that his love for sports, and for young folks to succeed and take advantage of new opportunities is clear. The way that he expresses his emotions when he talks with people around him is so natural and respectful, and the way he treats young people, as family, as part of him, is incredible. “It’s been 41 years coaching, I started when I was 18-years-old and I never left,” he said. “It was one of the greatest choices.”
Now he coaches one baseball team, the Astros, but back in the day, he was coaching more than one. For him, coaching is not a hard thing because he’s doing what he loves to do.
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I was never planning on seeing this movie. Seriously. I could not have been less interested in watching Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth fight aliens and high-five between firing their futuristic weapons. Still, on my school’s college road trip, I signed up to see the only school approved movie, “Men in Black: International,” just to have something to do during our free time in Portland, Maine.
After nearly a decade since the third MiB, the unsolicited reboot released in mid-June stars “Thor: Ragnorak” co-stars Thompson and Hemsworth. Agent M (Thompson) tracked down the MiB after they erased her parents’ minds and was welcomed with open arms. She is joined by Agent H (Hemsworth), a once well-respected member of the organization, who is no longer taken seriously due to his inability to be mature. This unlikely pair joins forces to fight against the alien race: The Hive. 
While these two performed well alongside each other in Marvel movies, their charisma faltered due to a script with the density of a saltine cracker and a predictable story that lacked pizazz, making even the most magnetic actors difficult to care for.
Agent M leads as our protagonist. Other than being played by Thompson, there is nothing about her that strikes any interest as she suffers from being one-dimensional. M’s journey as a person is uneventful — her character in the beginning of the movie is the same at the end — which only works in your favor when your lead is as charming as Will Smith. But without Smith’s level of appeal, the only way this character could be tolerable is if she at least gets better. Instead, she remains boring. 
Agent H, does not make up for M’s blandness. In fact, he is nearly as dry. He plays your typical uninteresting sleaze-ball, whose main personality traits are “hot” and “makes quips at inappropriate times.” While it was nice to see a “Thor: Ragnorak” reunion, contrary to many fangirls’ beliefs, this pair could not save this film.
For a comedy movie, it was difficult to find anything chuckle-worthy for the entire two hours. My theater laughed the hardest when the small old man sitting in the back row of the theater would occasionally shout blunt commentary with his nasal voice, or when a classmate cooed an “And I oop—” when one of the characters took a heavy blow. The funniest jokes in the film only provoked air shooting quickly out of your nose at most, which were usually caused by the one-liners of Pawny (Kumail Nanjiani) the alien who swore allegiance to Agent M and pronounced her his queen.
The film also features a "whodunnit" storyline as our lead duo suspect that a mole is in their midst. This had the potential to add some spice to an overall stale movie, but was screwed up by the fact that there were only two other characters besides our protagonists that pass as suspects, with one acting slightly more suspicious than the other, helped by the mysterious close-ups of the culprit’s “up-to-no-good” expression, as if the writers had no faith in the viewer’s intelligence. Needless to say, I didn’t gasp when the mystery was revealed. Predictability worked in the 90s, but decades later we should not be afraid to improve.
The most devastating disservice was the lackluster ending battle. The final throwdown is always anticipated to be the most intense and exciting part of the movie. And yet, some of the fight scenes in the middle of the movie were more interesting than the final one, and that isn’t saying much since none of the action stood out to me, besides maybe the fight in the street with the twin aliens.
The special effects weren’t the best I’ve ever seen, but there were some aspects of the movie that looked decent. The two alien baddies are played by Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois, twin breakdancers. Although it’s obvious they are dancers and not actors, they were entertaining to watch, especially in the club scene where they get the chance to bust a move and show off their skills as “aliens trying to fit in at a bar.”
I left the theater scratching my head at how such a highly-advertised movie could be so lifeless like it was missing an ingredient. It almost felt as though nothing happened. This two-hour movie feels eerily brief, and not because time flies when you’re having fun, but because it seemed to lack so much substance that it was somehow able to feel like a half-hour pilot to a canceled sitcom rather than the resurrection of what was once a popular franchise in America. Once I’m done typing, I’m sure I will have already forgotten about it, right about...now. 
You can see “Men in Black: International” at any theater near you.
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Futuristic and suspenseful, "I Am Mother" is a Netflix original movie that was released June 7, 2019. Directed by Grant Sputore, the thrilling sci-fi film takes place in the distant future where humanity has become extinct. A human girl named 'Daughter' is raised by a robot called Mother. Daughter grows up only knowing the bunker and not the outside world due to the fact that Mother has convinced her that it is lethal. Mother designed Daughter to repopulate the earth following the extinction of mankind but when an uninvited guest named 'Woman' shows up at their 'home,' it changes everything Daughter thought she knew.
The technology and special effects in the film are advanced and create cool scenes such as the beginning of the movie where machines are putting Mother together so she can function. There’s enough futuristic technology to make it clear that its setting is far in the future. When Mother begins to function, the movie introduces the amount of human life in the bunker and the number of years since humankind’s extinction.  
Rose Byrne’s voices Mother, Clara Rugaard plays Daughter, and Hilary Swank is Woman. Rose Byrne’s monotone Siri-like voice as the robot caregiver makes you suspicious of her in addition to the fact that a robot is raising a human which makes you wonder how that is even possible. The three characters, Daughter, Mother, and Woman have their own reasons as to why they act and think the way they do.
The story begins when an injured stranger, Woman, pounds on the door of Daughter and Mother’s bunker. Daughter opens the entrance door surprised to see another human from the outside. Daughter instructs Woman to put on the hazmat suit, telling her it’s the only way she would be able to enter the bunker. To fast forward, Mother finds out about Woman, and Woman gets mad at the fact that Daughter’s in the same facility as a droid, saying that she is injured because of one. 
At the end, Daughter and Woman leave the bunker, and Daughter gets mad at Woman because she took her as a hostage and threatened Mother that she would kill her if she didn’t let them leave.  Escaping from Woman, Daughter returns to a protected bunker that has many droids ready to kill her, thinking she is a threat. They let her pass and Daughter sees Mother holding a child, her brother, that she chose from the collection of embryos that were in the bunker. Finally, Daughter kills Mother’s system.
Initially, I thought the movie was weird. At times I found it boring. I guess there was a profound message, but it wasn’t clear and I did not pay attention to it. I rate it low because of my disinterest and the storyline’s conclusion. But it is an original concept that isn’t typically seen in films nowadays, so I took that into consideration. The setting and Mother looked really realistic, along with the frozen embryos and converting them into a newborn baby. The ending leaves you with so many questions. Daughter is looking straight into the lens. What happens to her brother? Will she raise him in the bunker? Will she go back to Woman? These questions leave you wondering about Daughter’s future, survival, and the responsibility she now has.
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