Monthly Archives: June 2018
Flash Movie Review: First Reformed
EVERY TIME I BUY A newspaper I believe I am doing my part in preventing the publisher from shutting down. I know it is a fallacy, but I have to believe it is true. The convenience store used to have their racks full of newspapers; now if I do not get there early enough the few papers they do get are already gone. It makes me sad because I prefer reading a newspaper instead of looking at an electronic screen. So, I want to believe my little contribution will help sustain newspapers through my lifetime. I have a similar belief when it comes to my personal banking. There is no way I want a debit card; it is that simple. Yet anytime I need to use a teller the first thing they ask me is to swipe my debit card. When I say I do not have one they give me this look as if I am a much older version of a Rip Van Winkle character. I want to believe that I am not alone, that there are others like me who prefer doing their banking the old-fashioned way and by that, I mean the banks still need to keep their branches open with tellers. WHEN IT COMES TO BELIEFS I believe I am not alone; each of us has a set of beliefs. The ones I just mentioned are not based on any facts which fits into the definition of belief. It is a state of mind where a person thinks something is true despite having evidence to prove it. For me my beliefs are based in feelings, not facts. An example would be the route I take to work. I believe it is the fastest way to get to my office; however, if someone shows me a different way that is faster, then I will no longer believe my route is the fastest. Remember there was a time where people believed the earth was flat; it took science to show them that was not the case. I consider beliefs to be multifaceted; some people refer to them as opinions, others define them as faith. It seems to me beliefs assist us in finding order in the world or put another way, they help explain the world around us. This does not mean I expect others to have the same beliefs; in fact, I would be offended if someone tried to foist their beliefs onto me. They are a personal matter as far as I am concerned. To see how beliefs can affect a person, feel free to watch this film festival winning, dramatic thriller. IN THE MIDDLE OF PREPARATIONS for his church’s celebration Reverend Ernst Toller, played by Ethan Hawke (Born to Be Alive, The Magnificent Seven), experiences a crisis of faith. With Amanda Seyfried (The Big Wedding, Dear John) as Mary, Cedric the Entertainer (Larry Crowne, Barbershop franchise) as Reverend Joel Jeffers and Victoria Hill (December Boys, Macbeth) as Esther; this thought provoking movie posed a variety of topical issues. Written and directed by Paul Schrader (Raging Bull, The Walker), I found the acting to be excellent. Not in a flowery or over the top type of way, but simply an adult driven script that infused the characters with realness. I felt the way the picture was filmed complimented the script, set in upstate New York, beautifully. My major complaint about this movie concerned the lead up to the ending. I did not like the element of fantasy that was introduced nor the way the story ended. It was a letdown for me because I believed the script was going to maintain a consistent flow to its conclusion. You might think differently because you have a different set of beliefs and that is okay.
Flash Movie Review: Hearts Beat Loud
IT WAS THE COOLEST ROOM in the house and I am not talking about temperature. As you walked in there was a closet on your left that was long and narrow. Past that was a perfectly square room with only one window near a corner. Around the entire space were vinyl albums; most of them were lined up vertically, filling up bookshelves that were on every wall. Any flat surfaces, such as the top of a dresser or bookcase, had record albums stacked on top of them. It was like walking into a treasure trove of musical history. There were different genres of music to satisfy almost anyone; from classical to Broadway musicals, opera to blues, Top 40 to Jazz. No matter what type of mood one was in, they could always find something among the shelves of records to satisfy themselves. The other thing that stood out in this room was the record player; yes, an actual record player. It was a rectangular box covered in cream colored vinyl that stood on a short pedestal. With a clasp on top, once it was opened it would allow two speakers to swing out on hinges like a double door revealing a turntable that one would need to pull down like a Murphy bed. OUTSIDE OF THIS ROOM THERE was another place I found that had even more vinyl records. It was a small store situated between a clothing store and a barbershop, on a commercial street in a residential neighborhood. More times than not there was at least one cat lounging in the front window. Walking inside the place was like entering a concert hall; there was always music playing from a set of speakers that were hanging in opposite sides of the space. The proprietor was a balding man with a thick beard. Everyone thought he was a genius. You could recite one line of a lyric and he would know what song it was from. If you told him which artist you liked, he would ask you if you heard about another artist that was similar and then go find their album to show you. He had arranged the store with rows of bins without any breaks; so, once you entered a row you could only exit it at the ends. On the walls he had hung posters, all were of musical artists and none of them were hung straight. I had almost forgotten about this store until I saw this film festival winning, musical drama. THEIR LOVE OF MUSIC MADE a special bond between Sam Fisher, played by Kiersey Clemons (Flatliners, Dope), and her Dad Frank, played by Nick Offerman (The Founder, Parks and Recreation-TV), just as his record shop was closing and college looming for her. With Ted Danson (Made in America, Body Heat) as Dave, Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense) as Leslie and Sasha Lane (American Honey, Shotgun) as Rose; I thought this was one of Nick’s better roles. This charming story had a script that was easy with little surprise. Maybe because I admire Toni, I wished the story had incorporated more of her character. Granted she was a secondary character, but I was left feeling there was unfinished business and that is all I will say about it. Kiersey was excellent; I especially enjoyed the songs her character sang. Part of my hesitation for giving this movie a full endorsement had to do with the continuous one level of emotional depth that came across the screen. Sure, there were some touching spots in the story but overall there was not enough drama for me. If nothing else though, I certainly got a kick out of seeing Frank’s record store and listening to some decent music.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: American Animals
AMONG THE VARIOUS GENRES OF books sitting on my bookshelves are some hidden treasures. Whether they are paperback or hardcover books, I consider them all part of my family; is it weird to think that way? It is hard for me to get rid of a book either by donating or giving it away. Once I am done reading it I put the book back on the shelf where it belongs, in alphabetical order. The only time I would consider donating a book is if I did not like anything about it. However, the chances of that happening are slim since I am careful on what I purchase in the first place. Rarely noticed by anyone who happens to be over to my place are several books that are especially valuable to me. I have older novels that are first editions; some from famous authors I have even studied in school. There are also books that were signed by their author. Maybe to someone else they would not care one way or the other; but for me, I tend to think of my books as my children. THE EXPERIENCE OF HOLDING a book in my hands is something I still value and enjoy. I know there are audio and E-books, but they do not provide the same experience for me as reading from an actual book. Sitting curled up in a chair or reclining on a sofa, I love being able to disappear into the book’s story and forget about my surroundings. Because I put such a high value on the experience of reading; whenever I meet someone new and discover they do not do any reading for pleasure, I judge them with a more critical eye. During my school years when I was tutoring, I was a big proponent of reading; always telling my students about books and the benefits reading provides. Now I know everyone does not think the same way as I do about books and I am okay with it. Granted when I see someone bending back a page to mark where they stopped reading, I cringe inside. Or when they use the inside covers or back pages for jotting down random notes, I feel my heart being stabbed; it used to be hard for me to watch someone even doing such a despicable (oops, I am being judgmental) act. So, I want to let you know it took some effort on my part to contain myself once I found out what the friends in this dramatic crime film wanted to do. ALL ONE NEEDED TO SEE the valuable book collection at the university’s library was to make an appointment. There was only one librarian in charge of the area and she appeared to be an easy target. This film festival winner starred Ann Dowd (Hereditary, Compliance) as Betty Jean Gooch, Evan Peters (X-Men franchise, American Horror Story-TV) as Warren Lipka, Blake Jenner (The Edge of Seventeen, Everybody Wants Some!!) as Chas Allen, Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, The Killing of a Sacred Deer) as Spencer Reinhard and Jared Abrahamson (Hello Destroyer, Travelers-TV) as Eric Borsuk. I had no idea this movie was based on a true story; I found it odd that they had the actual people being interviewed about what was taking place in the scenes. The story was off the wall; however, I found myself being drawn into the lunacy of the crime caper. For the time Ann was on screen I found her to be the most believable character; though I did feel the 4 actors portraying the friends gelled once the story got going. For this movie it took me a little time to get into it; but once I discovered the story involved valuable books, I wanted to see what was going to happen to them.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
THE BOAT SLID DOWN THE ramp and floated into the dark tunnel. Voices were echoing off the walls but I did recognize or actually remember what was being said. When we came out of the tunnel I saw a town being pillaged as flames were licking the air from various structures and objects. A couple of the citizens were being chased around in a circle while there were men strewn on the ground in obvious states of intoxication. My memories were being rekindled; I had been to this town before, many years ago. I was prepared for the cannon going off as my boat came upon a battle scene. There were people in other boats who yelled in surprise at the bomb’s explosion. We did not stay long as our boat had us moving away from the scene. Funny after all these years I still knew the last thing I was going to see was a man sitting on top of a bridge raising a bottle up in the air to give us a cheer. DURING THE ENTIRE DAY I came across so many other incidents where I was recalling how I felt the first time when I was on the same amusement park ride years ago. There is something about going back to an amusement park after being away from it for so many years. Many of the rides I rode that day were the same ones I did before except for a little updating and tweaking by the park’s owner. I still enjoyed myself though I discovered something new on the faster rides; I was now getting dizzy and queasy from them. What was up with that? Something else I noticed; this time around I was missing the element of surprise and wonder that I had the first time I rode the rides. Not that this ruined my time; I still enjoyed myself. Also, I was able this time to skip some rides because I remembered I did not care for them when I rode them last. What sustained my interest and sense of fun was my memories and the feelings of nostalgia. As I was riding an attraction I was reminiscing about my previous time. Thinking about the shock and surprise allowed me to see the rides through gentler eyes. I was less critical about how tight fitting some of the rides were and a bit corny at times. It is fun to revisit things from one’s past; but when doing so, it helps if you keep your expectations low. The same could be applied to this action, adventure science fiction film. WHEN THE ISLAND CONTAINING the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park was being destroyed by active volcanoes, there was little time for Claire Dearing and Owen Grady, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (Gold, Pete’s Dragon) and Chris Pratt (Passengers, Guardians of the Galaxy) to waste if they wanted to save the dinosaurs from extinction again. With Rafe Spall (The Big Short, Hot Fuzz) as Eli Mills, newcomer Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood and Justice Smith (Paper Towns, Every Day) as Franklin Webb; the dinosaurs were the main attraction in this picture. I did think Bryce and Chris worked together wonderfully; they certainly have chemistry. I found the special effects and the soundtrack made this picture more exciting than what the script was attempting to do. The story was a bit odd to me and the script had some holes in it. An example would be the disappearance of one of the characters and we never found out what happened. For a good popcorn movie that has some exciting action in it, this would be the film to see. If you have not seen any of the previous installments you might enjoy this more than someone who has seen the other ones.
2 1/2 star
Flash Movie Review: Gotti
HER GRIEF-STRICKEN FACE APPEARED on the television screen after the commercial break. Huddled next to her was her husband, his head slowly dropping down to a certain point before being jerked back up by consciousness. They were freezing and had barely eaten anything for the past couple of days. Their car was stuck in a snow bank when it skidded off the road in a remote area; they were on their way to his mother’s house out of state. The snowstorm unexpectedly hit their area much harder than the weatherman had predicted. If they would have known they would not have taken the risk, especially since she was pregnant. I only knew about all these details from the news reporter that was interviewing the couple. The scenes in the snow were actually reenactments with 2 actors portraying the real couple. From everything I was watching and hearing, I honestly was amazed the couple survived that ordeal. They were just an average couple; they did not have any special skills or superpowers, only their wits. Being sensitive to the cold I know I would not have survived one night, yet these two lasted days before they were discovered. AFTER WATCHING THAT TELEVISION SHOW, I was curious why the couple’s story was told via a newscast program instead of being turned into a movie for theatrical release. I have seen so many films based on true stories that have been unbelievable at times. Some were about famous people; but then there have been others who were nobody special, expect for the extraordinary occurrence that they were part of. For example, one of my recent reviews was for a movie about a couple who found themselves in the middle of a major storm while sailing across the ocean. Sure, the two had some sailing knowledge, but nothing could have prepared them for what they encountered. There was another film I just reviewed that was inspired by the true story of a group of friends who have been playing the same game of tag for decades. Both films were created to entertain an audience, so I am sure the writers took some liberties with the real story. The ones that get shown on TV are not in a movie format style; they usually have been a series of vignettes narrated by some type of reporter. Both productions have value, I understand it; however, today’s movie was not as clear for me. HAVING WON MULTIPLE LAWSUITS BROUGHT AGAINST him John Gotti Sr., played by John Travolta (Hairspray, Life on the Line), received the moniker “Teflon Don.” Leading one of the largest crime families, the name suited him well. Based on true events this dramatic crime film also starred Kelly Preston (Battlefield Earth, What a Girl Wants) as Victoria Gotti, Stacy Keach (Nebraska, Escape from L.A.) as Neil Dellacroce, Spencer Rocco Lofranco (Unbroken, At Middleton) as John Gotti Jr. and Pruitt Taylor Vince (Mississippi Burning, Constantine) as Angelo Ruggiero. John did a wonderful job of acting in this film; I found his presence on screen remained strong throughout. Kelly was also good; however, the issue I had with this movie was the script or lack of one. Most of the scenes felt like they were just copies of news segments. I was somewhat entertained simply because I was curious about John Gotti, but I did not see anything I had not already known. For listing this picture a biography, I would have preferred getting more history about the characters. Instead, there were family scenes; the only difference being the father was a major crime boss. With the addition of scenes that jumped back and forth in the story, I had a difficult time staying engaged. Maybe this picture would have been better served if it had been released on television.
1 ¾ stars
Flash Movie Review: Superfly
HAVING SPENT MANY A TIME listening to the fortunate folk who are able to retire soon, I thought I would have gained a wealth of information on how to plan for my own retirement. Pretty much all I gained was confusion. There was one person who lived modestly most of their life; this means they only spent money on things they needed instead of wanted. Traveling was limited to special occasions such as out of state weddings, births or funerals. Vacation days meant puttering around the house. By saving as much money as they could, they were able to retire early. Another individual set up a financial plan where their salary was divided into several categories, one of them being investments. Every 3 months the portion of their money designated for investments was used for that, investing in things that would yield a financial return; such as stocks, bonds and real estate trusts. They amassed a sizable nest egg that will carry them many years through their retirement years. One thing I have started to notice about people who retire without planning some types of activities is they die sooner. I know that sounds harsh but I am aware of a few people who retired and suddenly became predominantly sedentary; this is the only explanation I could come up with, outside of medical issues, on why the quality of their life took a rapid decline. MY FAVORITE LINE I HAVE heard a retired person say is, “Every day is Saturday.” Doesn’t that sound like fun? One of the things I am curious about retirement is if time will no longer be an issue for me. Presently I keep up with a hectic schedule between 2 jobs, watching and reviewing films, house upkeep, socializing and traveling. Many of my chores like grocery shopping and washing clothes are done only on the weekends, where it seems everyone else is on my schedule. I wonder what it would be like to go to a grocery store during the weekday? Having less people there would mean I could get my shopping done quicker. I assume the waiting list at many businesses is shorter during the weekdays; I am curious to experience this option as well. Now there are some people I know who do not think about retirement. They continue past their retirement age; either staying with the same employer or sometimes retiring from one place to begin a new job or career with another company. As I said earlier I have heard of many retirement plan options, but it never occurred to me that drug dealers need to plan also for their retirement until I saw this action, crime thriller. LOOKING TO MAKE ONE LAST big score before retiring drug dealer Youngblood Priest’s, played by Trevor Jackson (Burning Sands, A Beautiful Soul), plan meant he would have to bypass his supplier and go directly to the source. The question was would this plan cause him to be permanently retired—from living? With Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton, Detroit) as Eddie, Michael Kenneth Williams (12 Years a Slave, Assassin’s Creed) as Scatter, Lex Scott Davis (The First Purge, Tales-TV) as Georgia and Esai Morales (King of the Avenue, La Bamba) as Adalberto Gonzalez; this movie portrayed the glamorous side of drug money. With fancy cars, flashy jewelry and mansions; I was waiting to see where the script would take us. As far as I could tell the story had little variance from other drug dealer stories I have seen before. There was nothing that stood out for me. You see one drug dealer’s party in a movie and you pretty much have seen them all; they always show drugs, scantily clothed females, exotic bottles of alcohol and people either laughing or fighting. In this story there were a couple of surprises but they were not enough to get me high on this picture.
Flash Movie Review: Tag
ALL THAT WAS NEEDED WAS A bed sheet and 2 chairs. With these items one could create a fort and that is exactly what we would do. Whenever I would get together with a cousin of mine and we wanted to pretend to be in the military, we would start our fort with the 2 chairs separated but facing each other. Draping the sheet over them we now would have a secret tunnel we had to crawl through underneath the chair seat, right between its legs. Once safely under the cover of the sheet we would go over our just thought out battle plans. There were times where we needed a bigger fort so I would take out the extra folding chairs from the hall closet while he went in search for more sheets and blankets. From our strategically placed covered chairs, we created an intricate compound of tunnels and meeting rooms. If there were enough items we would even incorporate the living room’s coffee tables to expand our structure. We could play for hours besides requesting our meals be delivered to our pretend mess hall in the middle of our fort. FROM THAT EARLY TIME, I fell in love with a variety of real and make-believe games. One of my oldest memories is being taught to play the card game, War. Add in Crazy 8’s, Gin Rummy and Concentration; I was always asking friends and family if they wanted to play with me. Store bought games also became important to me. You might not believe it but I still have some of them to this day and they remain in good condition. There is nothing like sitting down with a friend and taking out the game pieces of a board game in anticipation of a rousing good time. Interestingly I am not competitive against anyone, only myself. So, I never cared if I won or not; I simply enjoyed playing the game. The only time where I do not have fun playing is when there is a group of people and one of them is super competitive; I mean yelling and making rude comments to the other players or even the ones on their own team. I avoid this type of situation, preferring to sit it out and just observe. As for those games that list the ideal age range one should be to play it, do not believe it. There should never me an age restriction on being able to have fun; just watch the childhood friends in this comedy inspired by a true story. FOR THE PAST DECADES CHILDHOOD friends put one month aside a year to continue their game of Tag. Neither wedding or funeral were off limits in getting tagged “you’re it.” With Ed Helms (Chappaquiddick, Vacation) as Hogan “Hoagie” Malloy, Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, The Carmichael Show-TV) as Reggie, Jon Hamm (Beirut, Baby Driver) as Bob Callahan, Jake Johnson (Let’s Be Cops, New Girl-TV) as Randy “Chilli” Cilliano and Jeremy Renner (Wind River, The Bourne Legacy) as Jerry Pierce; the story for this film was wild. The fact these friends have been doing this same game of Tag for all these years is a bit mind blowing. I thought the cast did as best as they could with the script, but I need to tell you I became bored by the repetitive schemes to tag Jeremy’s character. A couple of scenes were fun and okay, but some of the stunts were too goofy for me. Honestly, I think I would have rather seen a documentary about these childhood friends, so I could have gotten a better feel for what type of individuals they were to each other. What can I say when I tell you I thought one of the best parts of this film was the way they did the ending credits. Maybe you will have a better time with this film; I did not get it.
Flash Movie Review: Incredibles 2
MY SUPERPOWER IS THE ABILITY TO withstand high temperatures. While most people are wilting under an oppressive heat index, I am casually making my way around them without a drop of sweat. I feel everyone has a superpower; they may not necessarily know it though. Also, some may have a power that benefits no one and may even be a detriment to the planet. There was a guy I knew who always lied; in other words, he never told the truth. His tales were quite believable unless you had a history with him and even then, one could never keep up with his lies. This was his superpower. On the other hand, I know a woman who is an advocate for animals. Her whole life she has been involved with rescuing dogs. She is like a dog whisperer the way she connects with them. Every day she makes these dogs their meals; we are not talking about kibble out of a bag. She is mixing organic ingredients with vitamin supplements for each meal. I saw her make the morning meal once and I swear she looked like a pharmacist, the way she measured out powders and liquids to the protein source. Rescuing dogs was her superpower. IF YOU LOOK AT FAMOUS individuals, both alive and deceased, you will be able to figure out each one’s superpower. The obvious ones would be those people who are in the sports world; you know, like runners and figure skaters. Outside of sports it may not always be easy to decipher a person’s superpower. Without naming names, since I do not want to incur any type of lawsuits, there is someone who is the best when it comes to self-promoting. Another person is a great inventor, someone else is gifted in creating chaos and another has an amazing mind for business; therefore, I say everyone has a superpower. The ones who impress me the most are the people who do not let their superpower define them. They can blend in with society, going undetected for the gifts they can offer people. Maybe you have seen some individuals who have made a positive impact with their generosity, both material and financial. I think it is great they are motivated to do the things they do; however, have you ever noticed some are in every photo op? The thing is, being out in front of the cameras can be both a good and a bad thing; a lesson the family in this animated action, adventure film knew so well. LOOKING TO PAINT A POSITIVE image it was decided that Helen Parr/Elastigirl, voiced by Holly Hunt (The Big Sick, Won’t Back Down), would be the face of the Incredibles. This meant Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible, voiced by Craig T. Nelson (Book Club, The Family Stone), would be the one to stay home and take care of the kids. With Sarah Vowell (A.C.O.D., Six Degrees-TV) voicing Violet Parr, relative newcomer Huck Milner voicing Dashiell Parr/Dash and Samuel L. Jackson (Big Game, Kong: Skull Island) voicing Lucius Best/Frozone; I thought the adult cast members were all ideal actors for their characters. It has been such a long time since the first Incredibles movie came out that I have only a vague memory of it; however, it was not a problem for following this wonderful film. I enjoyed the mix of retro and futuristic vibes in the story. The fact we saw these superheroes as an average family made the story extra fun for me. It was the juxtaposition of daily life concerns with crime fighting feats that did it for me. The pacing was on point and I thought the humor was fitting for both children and adults. It took a long time to get this family back on the screen; I hope it doesn’t take over another decade to see them again.
3 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
THERE WAS SOMETHING SAFE, NURTURING and comfortable about growing up in an apartment building. I never felt like I was missing out on anything by not living in a single-family home. My earliest memories contain the assortment of wonderful neighbors who lived in our building. Before I could even walk I learned how to crawl down 2 flights of stairs to one neighbor who always welcomed me into their home and gave me cookies. I know, you must be thinking I was trained like Pavlov’s dog for those cookies; but honestly, I was not. When I grew older no one had to teach me to open doors for people carrying in groceries or packages; all of us in the building did it to help each other. We lived on the top floor so I got to use the landing of the wrap around staircase as my personal playroom. The same could be said for our back porch; I was always outside on it either playing or reading a book. In fact, I had a little table and chairs set out on the porch; so, you could say I had my own personal, outdoor deck. FROM ONE NEIGHBOR OF OURS I learned important history lessons about war and concentration camps. She was a survivor who shared her story with me whenever I would ask her a question. Her son was one of the musicians in the building. While he would practice playing his accordion, there was another neighbor who played the drums; add that to my piano lessons and we covered a variety of musical genres. I would love coming home and hear the music playing as I walked up the flights of stairs, accompanied by an assortment of cooking smells that wafted through the hallway at various times. There was never a need to worry about running out of something, like a food ingredient or toilet paper, because everyone in the building was willing to borrow from each other. Something that I feel that was truly valuable for me was learning at an early age how to conduct myself in public. Everyone was polite and friendly which was a wonderful example to show me how to interact with people. It was a time before texting so we each had face to face conversations and I learned how to listen. I cannot say that is an attribute that everyone has in them these days. Living in an apartment building was wonderful training on how to deal with people. Everyone worked at finding amicable solutions to any issues that would arise. We were our own special neighborhood inside of our apartment building. FROM OSCAR WINNING DIRECTOR Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, The Music of Strangers), this film festival winning documentary showed me a neighborhood that had similarities to my childhood home, but I did not know existed. Debuting on television in Pittsburgh 1967, it soon became a national broadcast. I have never seen the show so my enthusiasm about this film may be more than someone who was familiar with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. What struck me about Fred Rogers was his gentle kindness and progressive thinking. I was amazed at the quiet way he would make a relevant statement about an event taking place in the world. Learning about the history of the show along with the personal information about his actual and television family, it was quite apparent there was a genuine love and affection for each other. Here you have people from all walks of life who worked together in a civil and respectful way. I must tell you if Fred was alive and wanted to run for office, I would vote for him based on having seen this movie; what a wonderful picture about a beautiful human being.
Flash Movie Review: Hotel Artemis
OF ALL PLACES I WOULD NOT have thought an amusement park would have been the place where I felt I was now part of a group. Growing up I never was much associated with any one group. I was not into team sports nor did I belong to any type of organization. Some of my friends had been involved with the Boy Scouts or after school programs; I never felt comfortable to be a part of such things. My friends were an eclectic group I enjoyed being with; but I also liked having my alone time too. During the high school years is when I really shied away from being labeled part of any type of group. There were the jocks who always hung out together and as far as I could tell did most activities as one group. If one person was going to a party then they all would go to it; if one person picked on a student then the others would join in. Another group that did everything en masse were the cheerleaders. If one of them hated something then the rest of them immediately hated the same thing. I know these two examples are considered stereotypical, but this type of group mentality was prevalent throughout my school. SO HERE I FIND MYSELF at this massive amusement park and we have special passes that allow us to bypass the lines of people waiting to get on the rides. I am not sure if I can describe how I felt as we walked up to the park employees managing the lines, showed them our pass and then directed into a separate line that was right next to the general line. As I walked by I looked at the faces of the attendees who had been standing there for 30-65 minutes; they looked tired, dehydrated and a bit annoyed by the long wait. So here I am walking at my usual fast pace and come up to other guests who have passes. I think we only had a 10-minute wait before we could get on the ride. As I am getting strapped into the compartment assigned to me I get this realization that all of us were being treated in a special way. Granted the tickets cost more, but I suddenly felt like I had something in common with this group of strangers; it was like we were a part of a secret club. It was a new feeling for me and helped me understand the group camaraderie that took place in this action crime thriller. SITUATED IN PLAIN VIEW IN the heart of Los Angeles stood a hotel that was run by a nurse, played by Jodie Foster (The Accused, Elysium), who only allowed a certain type of individual in to be a guest—a criminal. There were rules that had to be followed if you wanted to stay. With Sterling K. Brown (Marshall, This is Us-TV) as Waikiki, Sofia Boutella (Atomic Blonde, Star Trek: Beyond) as Nice, Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Blade Runner 2049) as Everest and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park franchise, The Fly) as Niagara; the set-up to this story seemed promising, along with the capable cast. However once again the movie studio focused on the cast instead of the script. I enjoyed this cast of characters and the script’s campy vibe, but nothing stood out as exceptional for me. Everything I was watching seemed familiar despite the cool looking sets. It also seemed obvious the studio would not be opposed to doing a sequel. It would be a mistake if they chose to keep the same writers. I may not be part of the reviewers who enjoyed this picture and you know what? That would be okay because I am used to going my own way.
1 ¾ stars