Week #6 of Summer 2018: July 10 – 16

The Panel Got the Inside Scoop on New Incredibles Movie

Thanks to the Boston Globe and Allied Media, two Panel staff members attended a special press pre-screening of Incredibles 2. On June 7, they convened at the AMC Loews Theater in Boston to watch the film, a sequel to The Incredibles, which debuted in 2004. Incredibles 2 opened in theaters across America on Friday, June 15. Read their review of the long-awaited Pixar sequel below:

“It took almost 14 years for Disney’s Pixar studios to reintroduce audiences to the Parr family. When movie fans first met this incredible group in November 2004, The Incredibles grossed upwards of $70 million its first weekend, then the highest for any Pixar film and the second highest for any animated movie. Writer and director Brad Bird guided the movie to two academy awards (for best-animated feature and best sound editing), and high expectations underscored his work in creating the sequel.

With Incredibles 2, Bird has met the bar, repurposing the best of his original for this new decade. At first glance, not much has changed. The film begins where its predecessor left off. One scene bridges 163 months, and the Parrs don their iconic red suits in an attempt to stop The Undertaker. Even Tony, with whom Violet is supposed to see a movie later in the week, sports the same turtleneck. Their effort is public, messy, and collaborative; the Parrs riff off each other’s talents, juggling baby Jack-Jack in the process, and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) appears to assist the family.

The feature also appears to remain true to the time period of its forerunner, which was released two years before Apple’s iPhone. Despite the superhuman nature of the movie’s stars and vehicles, no one uses smartphones. Architecture dates to the 60s and 70s, and several buildings appear Brutalist and Modern. Allusions to the present, however, are one notable exception. Like police forces around the country responding to issues of widely publicized brutality, organizers of a budding underground superhero network equip Bob and Helen with body cameras to increase transparency into their work’s motives and methods, part of an effort to convince the general public of their worthy purpose. In general, characters express pessimism in the actions and biases of politicians—who previously outlawed the work and existence of superheroes—and the role of government in general. Pew Research Center data backs up this connection to modern-day distrust in government. Whereas 39% of Americans trusted Washington to do what is right ‘just about always’ or ‘most of the time’ when Pixar released The Incredibles in 2004, that figure dropped to 18% in December 2017.

Though members of the Parr family maintain their age, stature, and appearance, improved graphics confer them an enhanced dimension. New animation technology sharpens the film’s action; the Incredibles’ initial fight with The Undertaker, as well as later action scenes, feel real and thrilling as if extracted from a James Bond movie, Black Panther, or a different Marvel creation. Color is clear, piercing, and even painful, such as when Elastigirl battles with Screenslaver, the sequel’s new villain.

The enhanced animation is only part of the fresh layer Bird and modernity add to Incredibles 2. Incorporating a female protagonist (much like Warner Brothers’ 2017 hit Wonder Woman), Incredibles 2 sees Elastigirl/Helen Parr assume much of the spotlight while her husband and children (mostly) remain at home. The movie’s eventual antagonist, Evelyn, is also female, and Domee Shi became the first woman to direct a Pixar short, Bao, which premiered as the movie’s opener.

Brad Bird and the Pixar team reverse gender roles in Incredibles 2, adding a twist to the traditional constructs that originally inspired the Parr family. In a 2005 interview following the original movie’s success, Brad Bird explained, ‘The dad is always expected in the family to be strong, so I made him strong. The moms are always pulled in a million different directions, so I made her stretch like taffy. Teenagers, particularly teenage girls, are insecure and defensive, so I made her turn invisible and turn on shields. And ten-year-old boys are hyperactive energy balls. Babies are unrealized potential.’ Mr. Incredible, previously the leader of the family’s superhero activity, takes over parenting duties while Elastigirl advances to the forefront. He struggles with Dash’s math homework, Violet’s boy problems, and the general chaos of the Parr family routine, even as he’s surprised by Jack-Jack’s newfound powers.

In ironically detailing Mr. Incredible’s struggle with parenting, the movie expands its definition of heroism; indeed, designer extraordinaire ‘Auntie’ Edna Mode notes, ‘done properly, parenting is a heroic act.’ With heroic acts, relationships, and the existence of all superheroes on the line, this movie is not one to miss.”


Rising Senior Colin Braun ‘19 Describes His Rough Day in the Dog Days of Summer

“I quit my job at Walgreens today. I used to stock shelves and it sucked. On my way home, a car didn’t stop when I was crossing the sidewalk on my bike and never have I been so close to getting decked. Some old lady in a black Camry. I will start working at a Volkswagen dealership on Monday. I’ve been home alone for the past week and haven’t thrown a party because I’m a loser. I got a 4 on AP Chem, which is quite possibly the most anticlimactic score you can receive, because it doesn’t help your college process, but it also doesn’t hurt (depending on the college). I started watching The Office this week. Additionally, I considered starting summer reading this week, but decided against it.”


Belmont Hill Soccer Stars Help Lead Their Club Team to International Tournament Win

Sunday marked the conclusion of the month-long World Cup with France’s 4-2 defeat of Croatia, a game watched by over one million people worldwide. One day before, on a pitch just North of Barcelona, Spain, five members of the Belmont Hill community celebrated their own international tournament win. Three current students, Matthew Gonçalves ‘20, Mateen Nickpour-Reyes ‘21, and Charles Penzone ‘21, and two incoming students, Matthew Britt-Webb and Alex Atalla, won the U16 division of the Ibercup (one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the world, per its website) with their club soccer team, Newton-based Valeo FC. Facing off against teams from Puerto Rico, Portugal, and Kenya, Valeo went 8-0 in the tournament, including a 3-1 victory over FC Iniesta of Portugal in the finals to secure the trophy. The Belmont Hill boys contributed heavily, with Nickpour-Reyes supplying four goals over the eight games, Gonçalves netting two, and Britt-Webb adding another. With a major tournament victory under their belts, the boys figure to play important roles in the varsity soccer team, giving Belmont Hill hope of securing the ISL title that has eluded the program since 2008.


Artemy Ivanov ‘20 Watched World Cup Matches in Russia

Last week’s Summer Snapshot covered Chetan Shukla’s trip to England during the World Cup. His classmate, rising Junior Artemy Ivanov ‘20, took it a step closer by traveling to the host country of Russia for the early stages of the tournament. Artemy stayed with his grandparents in St. Petersburg and watched six games in total. “The atmosphere was unreal,” said Artemy. “Walking down the street was like walking through Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and little snippets of Europe all put together. It was like a 31-day party.” Artemy first went to three games in St. Petersburg (Russia vs Egypt, Brazil vs Costa Rica, and Argentina vs Nigeria) before taking the train to Moscow to watch Belgium beat Tunisia, 5-2.  Says Artemy, his experience in the Russian capital was hard to put into words: “Moscow was the heart of the whole World Cup, so describing it would only provide it 10% of what it actually was.” Artemy then caught a train to Nizhny Novgorod to watch England face off against Panama and spent time sightseeing in various cities before the knockout stage. A few days later, Artemy witnessed the biggest upset of the World Cup, watching Russia’s shocking victory, in penalties, over Spain. “Being in the capital of the country who pulled [the upset] off, I was in the midst of a quite literal riot,” described Artemy. After the game, feeling as though he “had received [his] fair share of soccer for the next six months,” Artemy relaxed with his family in St. Petersburg, “soaking up the atmosphere while [he] could.”


Luca Pontone ‘19 Claims Fargo All-American Status

Every year, the nation’s best young wrestlers come together for the world’s largest wrestling competition, the U.S Marine Corps Junior and Cadet Nationals, colloquially known as Fargo, at the Fargodome on the campus of North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D. This year marks the 48th anniversary of the Junior Nationals event, which was first held in 1971 in Iowa City, Iowa. Among the attendees of this year’s elite tournament, which began on July 14 and will conclude on July 20, was rising Belmont Hill Senior, soon-to-be two-season wrestling captain, and Prep National All-American Luca Pontone ‘19. Competing in the 170-pound weight class of the Junior Freestyle division, which alone included nearly 128 competitors, Luca wrestled five matches over two days, winning four and losing one. Unfortunately, a minor quad injury would prevent him from participating in his final two matches; however, his exceptional performance up to that point would still secure him a top-eight finish and thus All-American status. This outstanding feat was further compounded by the fact that the seven other All-American finishers in Luca’s division and weight class were nationally ranked by FloWrestling, a distinction which Luca has yet to receive but may be able to look forward to. Overall, Luca’s achievements at Fargo bode well for his college recruitment process and for the Belmont Hill Varsity Wrestling Team, which strives to defend their New England title during the upcoming season. Congrats, Luca! You have earned it.

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