John Carter – Messy but Fun

By Gabrielle Bauman – 

Disney really messed this one up.

John Carter, which appeared in theaters March 9, is the story of a Civil War veteran who is transported to Mars and has general shenanigans with the natives peoples living there. The movie is adapted from A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, a slim novel almost 100 years old.

This movie has been in production, in some way, shape, or form, since the 1920s – E.R. Burroughs himself wanted to see it on the screen. There’s plenty to set it back. Some of the main characters are eleven feet tall, four armed green men. Up until recently, special effects technology hasn’t been up to snuff to give it visual justice. And now technology can.

John Carter has great visuals and every action scene is enjoyable.

John Carter premiered in theaters March 9. Image credit Disney.

The best part of this movie? One word: Woola.

Carter’s massive, bull-dog-meets-komodo-dragon pet. Any scene Woola is in makes this movie better, from the ridiculous speed in running to the adorable/terrifying grin on his face.

The Martian is adorable the same way E.T. is adorable. You aren’t sure why, but he just is.

Unfortunately, there is more than just action.

The dialogue is uninspired, and there are scenes when characters just sit around talking. That’s the best time to go for a bathroom break, because I would have rather gone without having viewed it.

The plot wasn’t particularly too hard to follow, but then again I’ve read the story John Carter was based off of. For the uninitiated, it shall appear to be just what it is: a big incomprehensible mess. And Taylor Kitsch as Carter is as wooden on the Daniel Radcliffe level.

That said: I liked it. I came in expecting to hate this movie, and left the theater wishing for a sequel. It had moments of greatness, but came just shy of the mark. As much as I boo when bad movies get sequels (I’m looking at you, Alvin and the Chipmunks), I would like to see a version of this movie with a good script. A sequel might just be out of reach, however – $30.1 million in the box office out of a $250 million budget will attest to that.

Carter feels like an old sci-fi pulp movie, it’s bizarre and confusing, but somehow it grows on you. I’m not quite sure what moment I decided to like it, most likely when the heroes traveled back and forth and back and forth between all the (pretty) Barsoomian (yeah, that’s what they call it on Mars. Barsoom) cities, looking very epic and sweaty in the process.

Like an old pulp movie, its a bit incomprehensible to fully explain. See, it’s about alien politics, the classic save the princess love story with a touch of Pocahontas, but it’s also about superheroes. That’s right, superheroes.

Even the poster says nothing about the movie. Image credit Disney.

Oh yeah, because of the gravity difference Carter can leap amazing heights, and is much stronger than a normal Barsoomian.

Let me repeat myself.  This series has been around for over a hundred years. It basically kick-started the superhero genre, and film makers have been cherry picking it for decades. James Cameron’s Avatar is a prime example of this.

It’s a shame that this movie came out when it did. It feels like someone is trying to capitalize on an already full genre, when really it’s the opposite.

I feel bad for this movie. I have never seen a worse marketing campaign for any movie than what Disney halfheartedly decided to spew out – one very bad Superbowl spot and no real television presence. Disney has put its weight behind bad movies before, in fact, lots of studios have. Look at that awful Green Lantern movie.

To Disney I ask where’s the limited edition soda? Where are the toys? The merchandise? The television mentions? Not only did Disney give up on the movie before it came out, it also didn’t believe in it from the start.

The title of the book is A Princess of Mars. Why isn’t the movie named that? Because the studio thought that no boys would see the movie. How about John Carter of Mars? The studio thought — and I’m not making this up — that no girls would see it. Hence John Carter.

Now no one will see it, and they ruined their own potential franchise.

A Princess of Mars, the first book in the Barsoom series.

So while I give the film itself 7/10 stars, I have a disclaimer.  If you are willing to stretch your suspension of disbelief, you will like it.

If you like Buck Rogers, Soylent Green, or even Pulp Fiction, you will probably like John Carter.

So please go see it, so I get a sequel.

More at 4c3ofsp4des


Penn Manor Students Watch “The Children’s Hour” Presented by Millersville University

By Cody Straub –

It has been called a classic and compared to the great play “The Crucible.”

Time will tell if the drama lives up to the classic by Arthur Miller but students from Penn Manor recently had a chance to find out.

Three Penn Manor English classes, along with students from the Twilight program, took a short walk through the rain to Millersvile University to watch the play “The Children’s Hours,” presented by the University Theatre. The play, which is directed by Tony Elliot, was shown at the Rafters Theatre on the Millersville campus in a special matinee performance just for Penn Manor students.

“It was good because I got to see a different form of art, I never get to go to live theater performance,” said senior Michael Andrusisin who attended the performance.

The play which premiered in 1934 on Broadway, and was revived in 1952 during the communist Red Scare in America, “is a classic American drama that deals with the fear of being different,” according to Elliot who was quoted on the Millersville University website.

Lillan Helman the playwright of “The Children’s Hour,” has written over ten other plays along with memoirs and novels. Her plays focus on “various forms in which evil appears and exhibited the tight structure and occasional overcontrivance of what is known as the well-made play,” according to Millerville’s playbill of “The Children’s Hour.”

“The Children’s Hour,” is a play about Karen Wright and Martha Dobie who run  the Wright-Dobie School For Girls. Wright and Dobie are accused of “unnatural” things by a estranged student named Mary Tilford, and her lies keep snowballing. The play has been compared to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” because both plays involve false accusations.

The "Children's Hour" presented by Millersville University Theatre. Photo from Millersville University website.

The cast is made up mostly of students at Millersville University along with some Millersville alumni. Karen Wright was played by Kathleen Verbo, Mariah Mamas played Marth Dobie, and Mary Tilford was played by Sarah Williams.

Students who took time out of their school day to watch the play  benefited greatly from watching the play, according to English teacher Brian Reinking who was one of the teachers who organized the field trip.

“They [students] will be able to write about the performance,” said Reinking.

Along with being able to write about what they saw, and seeing a different type of presentation of a story,  students were also able to learn about the great message the classic play has to offer.

“We re-stage and watch and discuss this play again and again, said Elliot in “The Children’s Hour” playbill,  “because we need to be reminded of the negative power of lies.”

He continued, “It’s not a perfect play… but I hope it makes you think.”

Penn Manor Puts On Successful Seussical

By Shadrock Kiprop –

It has the energy of a sporting event but it’s filled with laughter and wise words to learn from Dr. Seuss.

The hard work of Penn Manor students and faculty have been on display for two weekends in the production of the musical, The Seussical.

“The theater crew compiled days of hard work and dedication since the beginning of  the first week of December. Since then, they have had to rehearse the play four days a week, Monday til Thursday,  and an extra all day Saturday,” said Melissa Mintzer, an assistant director and house manager.

The Cat in the Hat, Jojo, and Horten make an appearance in the play.

It shows.  The high energy play is filled with color and music, based on Dr. Suess’s original books and short stories, many of which have already been made into full length, feature films. The child-friendly topic has triggered a huge turnout of many families, students and kids who have come and watch and also celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday which happened last weekend.

The Cat is the guide and narrator.

“Its great for kids (because) it’s fun, exciting, and very musical show,” said Sara Ricciardi, the pit director for the musical.

The Seussical was first written by Lynn Ahrens and Steven Flaherty, after their show, Ragtime, had a triumphant opening on Broadway. The musical successfully takes small parts of several previous Dr. Seuss works and weaves them into a one-hour-plus long play.

In the musical, the Cat in the Hat takes the audience on a journey through the jungle of Nool, with Horton the elephant, and all the way down to Whoville, with Jojo. On this jaunt, Horton faces guarding Mayzie’s egg and saving the Whos from the sour kangaroo and the rest of the jungle creatures, while Getrude is just trying to fit in and capture Horton’s heart.

Don’t ever give up, use your imagination, your journey can take you to unexpected places, and that rewards can indeed be great when you are ‘faithful’, are all reflections that Dr. Seuss wanted to be remembered by, and many of which are represented in the amazing odyssey of the Seussical.

Jared Bonawitz as the General.

The Penn Manor theater will be presenting The Seussical, in all of its fantastic and magical grandeur, for the last time this weekend. The musical will be shown this Friday and Saturday nights in the Penn Manor auditorium at 7:30.





Project X Getting Mixed Reviews

By David Mohimani –

The party you’ve only dreamed about.

That’s the slogan for Warner Bros new creation – Project X, but in reality it might be the party in your parent’s worst nightmare.

The trailer has a quote that says this movie is basically a mix between Superbad and the Hangover.

The movie follows a group of lovable losers led by main character Thomas Kulb. Thomas’ best friend Costa is a sex obsessed teen from Queens who convinces Thomas to throw a huge party for his seventeenth birthday.

A party that turns them from second class students to the most popular kids in the school.

Thomas reluctantly agrees and the greatest house party of all time is born.

The epic party includes(but is not limited too), booze, babes, a gnome filled with ecstasy, booze, a midget, a flame thrower, a taser,booze, a police horse,moon bounce oh and did I mention booze.

Insanity ensues and everyone appears to have the time of  their lives.

The film was released on March 2nd.

The movie cost a mere $12 million to make and was filmed over the course of five weeks.

The film ended up grossing more than 20 million dollars in it’s opening weekend.

The film's main 3 characters trying to gather themselves at the climax of the film. Photo of courtesy of Warner Bros

Also the name of the movie created some serious buzz. It was originally entitled Project X, but that was considered to be a working title.Then when the studio realized the title had gathered hype they decided to stick with it.

Also, all the main characters except for Thomas (played by Thomas Mann who was also in “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”) were acting in their first feature film.

While everyone knows it is a movie, some fear that it may give teenage kids the wrong impression.

“I think Project X is a stupid movie for glorifying partying,” said senior Janelle Musser.

Even worse it may have inspired some kids to throw a crazy party.

“It was insane.It would inspire to throw a ridiculous party,” said Penn Manor Senior Dylan Webber who went to see the film this past weekend.

“It was a good movie, but it didn’t ruin my future expectations for future high school parties,”said senior Mitch Domin.

At the party’s climax, Thomas says to Costa “Is this big enough to be cool?” He says this almost jokingly as he stands on his roof overlooking a sea of nearly 2000 kids.

Some have criticized the film saying the movie gives the impression that  all you have to do is be well liked is throw a huge party.

Screenwriter for the movie Michael Becall told The Hollywood reporter “I think we’d be disappointed if there wasn’t some kind of outraged response to Project X.”

Other respected publications have given it rave reviews.

Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone wrote, “Most teen flicks just fake being fueled by anarchy. But the gut-bustingly funny Project X is the real deal.”

Even with the mixed reviews Warner Bros has decided to move on with a sequel to Project X, but if they will use the same cast remains a mystery.
The sequel is sure to shock,enrage and amaze viewers everywhere.


Toys Becoming Digital for Technology Craved Kids to Enjoy

By Alicia Ygarza –

Barbie was more realistic 30 years ago than she is now, and Hot Wheels is more realistic now than 30 years ago.

Due to the number of children obsessed with technology nowadays, classic toys are becoming more digital and it is not always clear if the change is a benefit.

Monopoly money can now be counted by a tablet computer. Hot Wheels is the fastest it’s ever been on, now on the iPad. As for Barbie, she’s an innovated two in one collaboration. She’s become a play toy, and an actual camera.

The new camera Barbie has a lens on her back, and when you press a button on her belt, the image appears on the from of her T-shirt.

The new digital camera Barbie, photo courtesy of

An item that stores could not keep in stock this year was the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer.

“More than a third of children ages 8 and younger use mobile devices, such as iPads or smartphones. About a quarter of children ages 5 to 8 multitask with digital devices most or some of the time,” states a Common Sense Media study.

Elizabeth Sheerer, FCS and Child Development teacher at Penn Manor said her five year old son enjoys Legos, tech decks, and Hot Wheels and he also enjoys playing digital games and using technology.

“Charlie loves all electronics, starting with his Leap Frog, DS, our Wii and playstation 3. He has even figured out games on my iPhone, like Temple Run,” said Sheerer.

Sheerer said that her and her husband allowed their son to begin using technology when he turned four. She also said they limit his time using digital games so “it’s not life and death if he doesn’t play a video game.”

“‘Kids like to play with gadgets that they see their parents using, so I think it makes sense for toy makers to find a way to freshen up,”‘ stated the director of toys and games for Amazon, John Alteio, in the Lancaster New Era.

Samantha Smith, a senior at Penn Manor, believes games should remain how they were originally made.

A child using an iPad, courtesy of

“I don’t think I would have enjoyed games being more digital when I was younger because you get more enjoyment out of doing something with your hands, than the game being digital,” said Smith.

Smith also believes younger kids should be allowed to use digital devices to an extent.

“I think the younger generation will be too dependent on technology in the future,” said Smith. “My 10 year old brother has an iPod touch, and he’s constantly using it.”

However, Kate Destafano has a different view on children using technology.

“The world is changing with technology, my parents don’t know how to turn on a computer, so it’s good to start using technology when you’re younger,” said Destafano.

Either way, children are becoming more experienced with technology, and companies will continue to make digital toys.

“We don’t want a world where our kids are just staring at a screen for their play constantly,” said chief executive of Mind Candy, Michael Acton Smith.


Downton Abbey Unexpectedly Delights

By Gabrielle Bauman –

When I sat down to watch Downton Abbey with my mother last month, I fully expected to be bored. In fact, I was quite looking forward to ridiculing the show as trite and poorly acted, something geared toward middle aged women.

The Crawleys like many of the main aristocratic past times, such as hunting.

I was wrong.

Downton Abbey chronicles the stories of the Crawley family and their servants during the first decade of the twentieth century up until the 1920s, showing their struggles and the inevitable drama. It has everything a classic Romance novel usually has – heirs, scandals, and dashing young gentlemen. But more importantly it takes the genre beyond the Pride and Prejudice type roots, creating a cast of witty, engaging characters.

This show isn’t just about the servants and their masters, you see, there is also a complex political and socioeconomic background. The show opens with the sinking of the Titanic (and with it the two male heirs the family was counting on), two characters fought in the British Boer Wars, and World War One drastically changes the household.

Maggie Smith plays The Right Honourable Violet Crawley, Countess of Grantham — or the Earl of Grantham’s elderly mother. Harry Potter fans will recognize her as Professor McGonagall, but Smith is no wizard in this series. Instead, she is a conniving old woman bet on saving the Downton estate and Crawley fortune. Every scene she is in could arguably be considered the best scenes of each episode — from the moment she shies away from the new electric lamps distrustfully to the careful conversations shying around talk of *gasp* sex.
Smith’s character represents the vestiges from the Victorian mores, standing against the servants and the younger generation. It’s clever the way the producers do it, really, by focusing in on both the aristocracy and servant classes it becomes clear how the divides between them are evaporating as the modern era chugs along.

Matthew Crawley is the new heir to the Grantham title.

There are about a hundred story lines to keep track of, but it’s worth it. The intrigue has all the appeal of a soap opera, with all of the complexity of The Lord of the Rings. It’s smart and well written, plus – at the risk of alienating every teen from it – almost educational.
Each episode as originally broadcast was forty five minutes long, but when the episodes crossed the pond for some unknown reason PBS decided to make them into four ninety minute episodes. Because of that, the endings are slightly altered in the American version, but not to a great extent. The content, the story, the show itself is the same.
There are some drawbacks, of course. Occasionally the show will have moments where the characterization is a bit hard to believe, ranging a bit too far into the soap — but it more than makes up for itself when the next episode airs and you’re plunged once again into great pacing and plain old good writing.
The first season as it originally aired is available on Netflix, and Season Two started airing January 9th. Season Three will be broadcast sometime in September 2012 in the United Kingdom.
Downton Abbey has something for everyone — from dashing men to plotting servants, pouting heiresses to historical context. As the show gains steam in the United States, there is even more incentive to film more episodes. Hopefully Downton Abbey will end up just like fine wine: aging into perfection.
More at: 4c3ofsp4des


Comet Kid Gets Big Role

By Richard Schulz –

“Chicago Fire” will introduce a former Penn Manor student and local celeb when it premiers in the coming weeks.

Penn Manor alum, Taylor Kinney, will be featured in the NBC pilot called “Chicago Fire.”

The leading role.

The Lancaster Mennonite graduate who attended Manheim Township and Penn Manor is known recently for his close relationship with Lady Gaga.

And although he’s had other appearances in shows like “Fashion House,” “The Vampire Diaries,” and “Trauma,” this time the former Conestoga Township resident will be the star of this series.

Taylor Kinney, alum on NBC, stars in the new pilot “Chicago Fire” photo credit to Petrova Diaries.

The show will center around the men and woman of the Chicago Fire Department. Kinney will be portraying Squad Lieutenant Kelly Severide, described as an “adrenaline junkie” by Deadline, a Hollywood Entertainment News site.

The show seems to be getting mixed reviews. Some good. Mostly bad. The pilot is still being directed but the show’s survival may hinge on this first episode.

The 30-year-old  and his girlfriend, Lady Gaga, have been spotted on visits to local spots with his family in Manheim Township. Also a local star on the Lancaster Mennonite volleyball team, Kinney was Section Two Player of the Year in 2000, his senior year.

He never thought of doing acting in high school or when he went to West Virginia University.



Malachy, The Little Guy, Takes Best In Show

By: Alex James Cummins and Alex Sorce

While lovers were busy wooing their significant other this year, one little fur ball was winning the hearts of America.

This year’s annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which took place on Valentines Day, had an outcome that surprised  a lot of people across the country and at Penn Manor as well. Although not many students and teachers were watching the show due to Valentine Day activities, most people did get the chance to see which “dog” won.

There was one senior who had the chance to see and enjoy the dog show with his mother and sister.

“Yeah dude that’s an ugly-a&% dog. It looks more like a foot rest than a dog,” said Tyler Smith.

Malachy, an 11-pound, 4-year-old Pekingese, with his long hair flowing behind and nearly covering his tiny black triangle of a face,  the eventual winner strutted his stuff around the runway.

Here’s a link to a page about Malachy’s performance:

The majority of Penn Manor may not agree with the judge’s decision, but sure enough Malachy was awarded Best In Show of 2012.



How did THAT thing win?!

Malachy Winning the hearts of the judges. Photo Courtesy of ABC News

These were common remarks when students were shown a picture of the Westminster champion.

“I don’t know what that’s supposed to be, it looks like something from Dr. Seuss,” said junior Adam Hess. Hess also said that he doesn’t think Malachy is even a dog.

“Oh my gosh, no one likes ankle biters,” said Brian Osmolinski, a physics teacher at Penn Manor. “Not the dog I would plan to win.”

“That probably gets treated a lot better than me,” said phys-ed teacher Billie Jo Atkins, not even giving the champion the respect of a gender.

“That thing looks like a mini Chewbacca,” stated senior Bo Perez immediately after laughing over the picture of Malachy.

Actually, he almost died laughing.

A lot of Penn Manor students compared their own dogs to Malachy, the champion.

Along with making his opinion very clear that Malachy should not have won, Osmolinski thinks his black lab could throw the 2012 champion.

Hess said that his German short-haired pointer could have beat Malachy for the title.

“My English Bulldog, Boozer, could have easily beat that dog. My dog looks a lot better,” said Perez.

“I don’t pamper my dogs like that thing probably does,” said Atkins.

“My dog is way better than that creature,” said senior Bob Warfel.

“It’s Snooki in dog form,” said senior Mitch Domin

While the majority of Penn Manor thinks Malachy shouldn’t have won the “hearts” of the judges this Valentines Day, there are some people who don’t have a problem with this furry guy winning.

“I’m glad it won, it’s pretty cute but I think it could use a hair cut,” said senior Ashley Richards

“It’s doesn’t bother me that it won, little dogs can win too,” said Atkins.






Fashion Manipulation Influences Style Here

By Iris Santana –

“We look at Kim Kardashian and we see a banging body and what she wears and we want to mirror her (pauses and looks around) or at least get someone close to her,” Adrian Viruet, a junior at Penn Manor said recently.

Fashion is manipulated in many ways through movies, music videos, models and celebrities. A lot of students feel as though what they see on TV and in stores is what they need to be in real life.

“They wanna be what they see on TV,” said Dimitrius Dennison, a senior at Penn Manor.

“It makes young girls think that’s how they’re supposed to look,” Glady Clay, another senior at Penn Manor added.

Clay also added some advice for girls with insecurities about themselves.

“Be happy in your own skin and be proud of what you have.”

A huge influence right now is from the movie, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

The character of Lisbeth Salander is based on a real person, but not all of the characteristics are the same. The movie version is quiet and almost secretive, considering she works for Milton Security as a researcher and computer hacker. She also has a very deep, dark and troubled past, causing her to have hatred towards men that abuse women.

Stores like H&M have made their own line ‘imitating’ the Lisbeth Salander character.

Some customers didn’t approve of the line and were in fact offended by it.

“The collection is based on and inspired by the film and character of Lisbeth Salander and though we think Lisbeth Salander is a strong woman who stands up for her ideal, we are not trying to represent her specifically. Our goal is to rather offer a collection that we see in today’s trend picture that will appeal to many customers.” a H&M spokesperson stated to the Wall Street Journal, in regards to the disappointed customers.

H&M Versace Line

This may have been somewhat of an influence in Penn Manor.

“People wanna be rock stars, with the chains and the skinny jeans.” said a sophomore, who wished not to be named.

The edgy, ‘not normal’ look is in style.

“It’s a ‘dare to be different’ kind of thing.” said Bre Massey, a student at Penn Manor said.

Girls tend to be too sprung up about their looks nowadays.

“Basically, if they see it and others look like that… it’s all apart of fitting in.” Massey added.

The hardcore look isn’t the only style coming out.

Darker look that's in style

Adidas are starting to go after more teenage girls rather than teenage boys.

According to Erich Stamminger, the board member responsible for global brands, “Teenage girls are a target group we didn’t really reach so far, whereas boys are closer connected to Adidas via sports,”

“For girls, you need a bit more of fashion influence and that’s exactly what we are offering with NEO,” he stated in an interview with

Girls are influenced by everything around them. Whether it’s friends, movies, music or TV, and it’s not going to change anytime soon.

AMC’s Walking Dead makes Eventful Return

By Dayonte Dixon and Joey Jackson –

The wait is finally over.  AMC’s The Walking Dead season two returned last Sunday with a suspenseful and action-filled premiere episode. And even though accounting issues forced the season to be delayed a few months, the show picks back up seconds after where the last episode left off.

Previous Episodes Recap (SPOILER ALERT)

The World has been overrun during a zombie apocalypse. A small group fights to stay alive while searching for refuge. Obstacles continuing to rise. From dodging walkers (zombies), to finding transportation and not to mention the food and water shortages.

The crew holds strong to their faith as each of the places they travel to have failed to survive the apocalypse. At the end of the first half of season two, the crew is holding up on a farm that is currently a safe haven for a few other survivors. Both groups decide to combine their supplies and fire power, but the crew soon learns that this safe haven isn’t as safe as they thought.

The crew discovers that those who were at the farm before they arrived, were storing walkers in a barn with hopes that they would discover a cure. With safety in mind, the current walker situation begins to divide the group; those who think that they should keep the walkers in the barn, and those who believe it is to dangerous. This tension continued to build up to the point where one of the crew members break down and lets the walkers out of the barn. With the walkers storming out of the barn, the crew has no choice but to take fire. A decision that, to him, seemed a necessary precaution, but to others appeared as a massacre of their friends and family members.

Part of the show’s allure has developed from the constant cliff-hangers, which is common in most popular television shows.

“I don’t know what it is, the cliffhangers are so good,” senior AMC fanatic Aaron Sellers explains. “They remind me of LOST how good they are.”

But now-a-days a show with cliff hangers are a dime-a-dozen, what sets The Walking Dead apart is the character development and broad plots.

“The first half of the second season was pretty uneventful, all of that was character development,” Sellers continued. “Everybody can find someone they like and can relate to on the show.”

Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead. Photo Courtesy

The Walking Dead series spread through Penn Manor like a wild fire; with a considerable amount people in Penn Manor admitting that they watch the show, or have at least seen one episode.

Some Penn Manor teens are a part of an 11-member Facebook group dedicated to AMC original series, where they can discuss current episodes or other things like future air dates or marathons.

If you’ve missed out on the craze of The Walking Dead, the first season is now available on Netflix instant play, while other season two episodes are frequently reruning on AMC. Once you’ve caught up, the new episodes air on AMC, channel 36 in Millersville, at 9:00 Sunday nights.

Other things to keep your eye on this year on AMC is the fifth seasons of the award winning shows Breaking Bad and Mad Men. The final season of Breaking Bad is set to return in July while Mad Men comes back on March 25, both of this year.