Monthly Archives: February 2019
Flash Movie Review: Fighting with My Family
I GRANT YOU, THEY DID LOOK somewhat odd to me. They had moved into the neighborhood during my 4th year of elementary school. The house the family had purchased was a 2-story wood frame with a large wrap around front porch. I remember when they painted that porch because some of the neighbors were put off by it; the family painted it a pine green color. I never really understood why some people were upset. The only thing I could think of was maybe it was because all the other porches on the street were either unpainted or painted in 1 of 2 colors, either white or brown. There were 7 family members: 2 parents and 5 children. All the kids looked alike and looked like their mother. They each had the same color hair; the girls had the same style of haircut just as the boys shared the same. Each child wore the same style of glasses, perched the same way on their noses. Their teeth were oversized to the point where it looked like they could not close their mouth all the way. Some of the kids in the neighborhood referred to them as Bugs Bunny. To finish up their identical look, they all wore the same style and color of clothing. PERSONALLY, THEM NOT BEING ENROLLED IN the neighborhood school added to their perceived strangeness. But despite that, the siblings never came out to play with any of the other kids in the neighborhood. I would see them in their backyard at times when I would cut through the alley to a friend’s house. They would be huddled around some object; I could not tell if it was a toy or some type of device. Other times I would see them spread apart, each doing their own thing like reading or exercising and when I say exercising I mean jumping jacks or sit-ups, some type of calisthenic activity. Keeping to themselves and all looking the same just made people feel uncomfortable. Without getting to know them, rumors started to pop-up in the neighborhood, such as they were a medical experiment, or they were doing something illegal. And of course, the kids in the neighborhood started whispering different remarks about them being inbred and mentally challenged. It was not until I was in college that I discovered via the local newspaper that the parents were scientists and each child was excelling in their schooling, from being PhD candidates to mathematical whizzes. I was shocked; on the surface they may have been odd, but they certainly had already achieved more than many of the families in the neighborhood. The family in this biographical, comedic drama might seem odd to you but wait until you see what they do. PASSIONATE ABOUT WRESTLING RICKY AND JULIA Knight, played by Nick Frost (The World’s End, Paul) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones-TV, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), taught their children everything they knew. However, when a once in a lifetime chance became available would their hard work pay off? This movie’s story followed a typical theme; but, the script provided some fresh takes on it. With Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth, The Commuter) as Saraya Knight, Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots, Dunkirk) as Zak Knight and Vince Vaughn (Couples Retreat, The Break-Up) as Hutch; I thought the acting really sold the story, especially Florence’s and Jack’s. For me, Vince was the only one that I did not connect with since he was doing his same type of character that I have seen before. There were fun moments in this picture that kept the story from sputtering out. What added to my enjoyment was seeing clips of the actual Knights at the end of the film. One may think they are an odd bunch, but I salute them for finding something they can be passionate about and holding out for their dream.
Flash Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
HOW DOES ONE GIVE UP SOMETHING they love? I find it to be one of the hardest things to do. I have been told I have strong willpower; that I can be disciplined enough to forgo something for a short time, not so sure about long term. Talking with someone recently who is pregnant, she said the hardest thing for her during her pregnancy was not being able to eat pizza. It is her favorite food and now every time she tries to eat a slice she gets horribly sick. I mentioned it should only be a temporary situation and pass once her baby is born. Another example I can think of is when one goes shopping with a friend or relative and both fall in love with the same item that the store has only 1 left on their shelf. Think about a sweater or cooking item that you have been searching for that your relative or friend has been wanting also; how do you decide which one of you gets to purchase the item? Maybe only shop alone to avoid the problem in the future; but for the present, most people tend to offer the other person the item out of politeness. I KNOW TWO WOMEN WHO BOTH are passionate about collecting certain antique clothing items. They both have similar tastes which has become an issue for them. The items they seek can be found through auctions; the 2 friends wind up bidding against each other sometimes and not always knowing it. I thought they came up with an equitable plan. Before each auction they now discuss which items they are going to bid on. When they both want to bid on the same item, they take turns on who gets to bid on it. When there are multiple items up for bidding they alternate turns. Gratefully this has worked out for them; they avoid spending more money on items and more importantly, there are no hurt feelings. Now I understand the examples I have mentioned may seem trivial to some individuals. However, I believe whenever love is involved, whether it is love for an item or love for a person, there is a stronger connection that makes it harder for the person to separate themselves. Look at parenting; isn’t the idea of it to raise kids to become independent? Or, at the end of life; there are some people who cannot let go of their loved ones. Love is such a strong emotion; if you do not believe me then feel free to watch this animated, adventure sequel. AS THE NEW RULER HICCUP, VOICED by Jay Baruchel (Lovesick, She’s Out of my League), has created a safe haven for the dragons who look up to his dragon as their leader. Just when his dragon Toothless is needed during a crisis, Hiccup’s dragon is focused more on love. With America Ferrera (Cesar Chavez, Ugly Betty-TV) voicing Astrid, F. Murray Abrahams (Robin Hood, Finding Forrester) voicing Grimmel, Cate Blanchett (Ocean’s Eight, Thor: Ragnarok) voicing Valka and Gerard Butler (Hunter Killer, The Bounty Hunter) voicing Stoick; this action sequel brought everything together for the final chapter in this movie franchise. The animation was wonderful as the actors brought their characters to life. I thought the story made a perfect ending to these films and appreciated the well written script providing a blend of excitement, humor and emotional sensitivity. If you have not seen the previous movies I do not believe you will be lost with this picture; there were things I had forgotten, and it did not make a difference in my level of enjoyment for this film. Though I love the dragons from Game of Thrones, there were a few dragons in this movie that I could see myself loving as well.
3 ½ stars
Oscar Awards Show
THE DAY OF THE OSCARS TELECAST is supposed to be a day with no stress, conflicts or upsetting news. It is a day of comfort, excitement, being with friends and family or not; a time to sit back and reflect on the past year’s movies. So, when I woke up to an alert on my phone that read “due to inclement weather…” I could rebook my flight home for a different time at no charge my stress level became elevated. Due to scheduling I already was cutting the times close to get home and settled before the awards show. Now with wintery weather, I could get caught in “flight delayed” hell. I did not want to rebook my flight; so, I decided to take my chances with getting on that 1st flight out of town. Even if it meant I had to get up awfully early with only enough time to shove all my clothes tightly into my suitcase, I would get home in time to see the show. Gratefully, the Hollywood powers that be and the alignment of the celebrities’ stars took pity on me and let my flight take off on time to get back home. WALKING INTO MY HOUSE 10 MINUTES before the awards show started was not planned. I had to leave my suitcase and bags in the hallway, race into the kitchen to only eat whatever I could grab right out of the refrigerator (like a bear scavenging thru an empty house) and sit down in front of the television to see the momentous occasion of the show going without a host. And you know what? I did not miss having a host at all. The hosting job, in my opinion, can only be handled by a certain type of individual. They would need to be quick thinking, funny and be able to have a strong command of the audience. I can only bring a few to mind who could fit that bill. Starting out the show with Queen and Adam Lambert performing was a smart move by the academy. After their missteps of having and not having a most popular film category to moving some awards to commercial time, they needed an attention-grabbing start to the show and they got that with Queen. Following it up with Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler coming out for the first presenter spot was a brilliant move. The academy needed to warm up the audience and get them into the mood and these 3 women knew exactly what it took to make that happen. I felt the rest of the presenters were all safe choices with only a couple of surprises, Melissa McCarthy dressed up in costume and Barbra Streisand. It was great to see Julia Roberts; however, based on her reaction it looked like they sprung the news on her to end the show. It appeared and felt awkward. Instead, they should have had a “surprise guest” come out and say goodbye. BASED ON MY PREVIOUS POST THAT listed my choices, I was overall okay with the chosen winners. A couple of surprises based on the audience’s reaction, but for the nominations that were given, the academy got most of the choices right. Now for what I felt was the highlight of the show and that was the performance from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. If ever you wanted to see a master class of acting, then this was the couple to see. Going from nominated actors in the audience to walking up on stage and immediately into “character” for their performance of the song, “Shallow,” was an amazing feat. I understand Bradley was extremely nervous to sing on stage, but I could not see it. They were perfection in their singing and chemistry; nothing more need be said about it. The last thing I wish to mention was the shorter duration of the telecast. It was enough time and I appreciated it immensely. So, with that being said I want to thank all of you for another good year of movie watching and reviews. May your journeys take you to uncharted territories of wonder, surprise, thrills and love as we look for those films that can take us away from our reality and place us into the middle of the movie’s story. Thank you for following and sharing your comments with me; it is deeply appreciated.
Oscar Predictions 2019
THE PAST YEAR HAS BEEN ONE of extremes and that includes the film industry. It seemed to me as if the movies I saw were either exceptionally good or horribly bad. There seemed to be less in the middle. The films that I felt were excellent were an absolute joy to experience; however, the ones that were at the other end of the spectrum were torturous at times. But, I want you to know I never left the movie early and for those times I felt I was about to fall asleep, I would shake my legs or pop mints into my mouth to stay awake. Nothing stopped me in my quest to see and review the latest films. Even during a blizzard, I drove to the theater, parked my car in the attached parking deck and went inside the theater to watch 3 pictures one right after another; I guess you can say I am dedicated or crazy. It was all worth it as we put a close on the past year with a final hooray as the Oscar awards are to be handed out this weekend. There are some close races that I had trouble deciding, but I am going to get through and share my thoughts with you. So with that being said, below are my choices for what I feel should get an award and what the academy will pick.
MY CHOICES ACADEMY PICKS
GREEN BOOK ROMA
CHRISTIAN BALE RAMI MALEK
OLIVIA COLMAN GLENN CLOSE
MAHERSHALA ALI MAHERSHALA ALI
REGINA KING REGINA KING
SPIKE LEE ALFONSO CUARON
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIEDER-VERSE INCREDIBLES 2
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK BLACKkKLANSMAN
THE FAVOURITE ROMA
So, there you have it. If I do not win the pick pool I am okay with it. For me, it is all about the entertainment value. If a film can take me away from my reality and place me into its, then it has won in my books. Have a happy and joyous Oscar time to you and yours.
Flash Movie Review: Isn’t it Romantic
IT WASN’T UNTIL ONE OF MY first paying jobs where I finally felt I had a sense of hope. Up to then I was sure I was being judged more on my looks. At this job an older employee befriended me, helping me get accustomed to the work environment. One day towards the end of the work day he came over to my work area to fill out his paperwork. I have no idea how the subject came up but at some point, he was telling me the differences between two female employees, who I happened to be friends with each one. I thought maybe he was fishing for information, but I had nothing to offer him. He explained to me why he would not date one of the two women. I still had no idea why he was telling me this; but the thing that intrigued me was the fact he was talking about the female that many of the male employees felt was the more attractive one. This employee came to work everyday with her makeup just right and her hair always styled as if she was prepped for a photo shoot. She was skinny and wore what appeared to be very expensive clothing. This guy’s comments were so counter to anything I had heard before; by the way, most of the other male employees made sexist and rude remarks about this “prettier” employee. THE OTHER FEMALE EMPLOYEE WAS THE opposite. I would refer to her as being low maintenance. Her clothing was more comfortable looking than fashionable. She usually wore her hair in a ponytail and rarely wore makeup. You may be wondering what I found so fascinating about that male employee’s comments about not being interested in dating a woman like the other female employee. What surprised me was him saying he would prefer being with someone like the non-makeup employee because she was funny and witty, had a hearty laugh and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. I wasn’t sure how to process some of his comments; however, the fact he was not focusing on superficial things is what gave me hope in the dating world. Not looking like any of the men in advertisements, besides not being athletic; that someone would be more interested in a person’s qualities was something I had not seen among my peers. Most people I have listened to tend to comment about a person’s looks before they will mention anything with more substance. The main character in this comedic fantasy would certainly understand me. WAKING UP FROM A HEAD INJURY cynical Natalie, played by Rebel Wilson (How to be Single, Pitch Perfect franchise), found herself in a hellish position; she was in the middle of what appeared to be a romantic comedy. None of it was part of her real life. With Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games franchise, Love and Honor) as Blake, Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect franchise, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) as Josh, Priyanka Chopra (Baywatch, A Kid Like Jake) as Isabella and Betty Gilpin (True Story, Glow-TV) as Whitney; this romantic comedy started with a solid idea for a story. The cast was fun to watch, especially Rebel flourishing in her element. There was nothing that warranted out loud laughing, but there were scenes that made me chuckle. This is a fantasy so one needs to let go with part of their reality to get something out of this picture. The message was right on and I enjoyed the satirical touches that were sprinkled into the script. Could this have been a better written film and allow Rebel to do more? Sure, but for a light stroll through an alternative reality, this movie was okay. Notice nothing was mentioned about the looks of this film.
2 ¼ stars
Flash Movie Review: Alita: Battle Angel
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF ITEMS I have sealed in plastic bags, hoping they may become valuable someday. Neither of them was expensive; I think the most I spent was $6.00. One thing is a set of unusual stamps and the other is a coffee mug shaped like a character from a popular television show. When I bought them years ago I thought immediately they would attract attention; but honestly, I have no idea if they will ever be worth something. You see I do not have that gift for finding a treasure at a thrift store or auction. There is a television show devoted to people bringing in their old possessions, to see if they have something worth a lot of money. I am not that type of individual; most of the things in my house have more sentimental value than monetary. There are some people who have a knack for spotting a bargain; I think I fall more into this category. Part of the reason for this is because I have a knack for finding and using coupons to apply to the item. However, put me in an antique or thrift shop and all I see is used stuff. Sure, I may find something I want; but, it is based on an emotional level not a practical one. THERE IS SOMEONE I KNOW WHO is skilled when it comes to finding things of value. The things he has shown me have totally amazed me. When I look at, for example, a silver serving piece such as a large fork, I see a metal item that is fancy looking. The individual I mentioned can dig through an entire crate of metal serving pieces and pull out the only one of value. I am not kidding you; he even showed me the item. It was a large metal fork with an ornately carved handle and three tines which were wide at the bottom then narrowed down to fine points. He paid less than $5.00 for the fork. When he got home he looked up and discovered this was a special fork from a particular manufacturer. Double checking online he learned the fork was selling for approximately $120.00. Maybe the dollar amount isn’t a big deal to you, but you must admit the percentage between the price difference is huge. He did the same thing with an oil painting where he paid $11.00 and found out it was worth over $500.00. Another person gifted like him was the doctor in this science fiction, action adventure. FINDING A PORTION OF A DISCARDED OLD cyborg was a stroke of luck for Dr. Dyson Ido, played by Christoph Waltz (Carnage, Big Eyes). There was more than luck involved when he brought her to life. This romantic thriller also starred Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner franchise, CHIPS) as Alita, Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, House of Sand and Fog) as Chiren, Mahershala Ali (Green Book, Hidden Figures) as Vector and Ed Skrein (Deadpool, If Beale Street Could Talk) as Zapan. Visually, this film was a feast of technical marvels. The fight scenes were intense with great special effects. The acting was also well done, even when the actors were transformed by CGI effects. Where I had high hopes for this picture based on the trailer, the script let me down. I found having a female hero led to a more sensitive story line; but the script was predictable, and the dialog was hokey at times. This picture was based on a graphic novel series that was unfamiliar to me; so, for those who know it or are into this type of genre, they might enjoy this movie more than me. It was obvious the producers are hoping for a sequel based on the ending scenes. I would be interested in seeing it but only if they get a better script.
2 ½ stars
Flash Movie Review: The Child Prodigy
GATHERED IN THE HOUSE WAS A mix of adults and children for the celebration. Everyone was getting along and enjoying the food. The children were being kids with their usual interruptions of “She said” and “He did” complaints. There were a couple of incidents where a child was crying, but the adults quickly intervened to calm the child down. At some point a four-year-old came up to me and asked if I could read a story to him; in his hand, he already had a large hardbound book. I told him I would be happy to read to him. He led me over to the couch and told me where to sit. After the boy handed me the book he climbed up and sat next to me. I started reading out loud to him, pointing at the illustrations when they were being described in the story. He seemed to be enjoying the story and even asked me a couple of times to explain something further. At one point, I do not recall specifically what topic I was reading at the time, the little boy pressed his finger to a word on the page then turned and slapped me in the face. He giggled which angered me more. I closed the book, putting it down on the couch. Next, I turned to him as I started to stand up and lifted him at arms’ length away from me. We went right to his parents where I explained why I was not going to finish reading the book to him. WHERE DOES A CHILD LEARN THAT it is okay to strike someone? It is a question I have always wondered about. Some of the reasons I have come up with include the child may have seen family members fighting or the child had been a victim of abuse and/or bulling or maybe the child’s parents had poor parenting skills; I honestly do not know. There is another option I have thought about based on my experiences when I was a small boy. There are just some kids who are bad. Now you may say there is no such thing as a bad child, but I would have to disagree. Maybe it has to do with a child’s environment; however, I feel children at some point understand the difference between right and wrong. If nothing else among their peers, they would be judged on their actions and realize what is and is not appropriate behavior. In school wouldn’t the child get an explanation on why they were given a detention or sent to the principal’s office? I think some children thrive on bad behavior. If you don’t believe me then see what the young boy does in this dramatic horror thriller. HUSBAND AND WIFE JOHN AND SARAH, played by Peter Mooney (We Were Wolves, Rookie Blue-TV) and Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One, Orange is the New Black-TV), quickly realized there was something special about their son Miles, played by Jackson Robert Scott (It, Locke & Key-TV). That specialness however had a good and bad side. I was somewhat surprised by this movie and I think it is because I enjoyed the acting from Taylor and Jackson. The script was a close copy of previous child horror film scripts; there were few new elements in this story. In addition, most of the scenes meant to scare the audience were telegraphed well in advance. I did appreciate at least that the writers and director kept the blood level to a minimum. There was an opportunity here to make something different and scary, but I have to chalk it up to “bad” decisions being made that turned this film into a bland movie watching experience.
Flash Movie Review: Cold Pursuit
IT IS MY MAIN GROCERY STORE that I have been going to for over 10 years. Though the store is one of the grocery chain’s larger format stores, I can quickly navigate through the aisles with efficiency. After so many years I pretty much know where everything is located, and I must tell you that is the reason I do not mind shopping for groceries. I am such a routine person that I find calmness when I can go on automatic and not have to think about what I am doing; I am talking about the more mundane chores we do as adults. Pushing my shopping cart to the exact products I need to buy is a wonderful thing. I do not have the patience to wander aimlessly up and down the aisles, as I try to find something. It is such a waste of time. Another thing I try to do is go food shopping late at night when there are less people in the store. During these times I can be in and out of the store with several bags of groceries in under 15 minutes. When I walk in I know what to expect. THE DATE WAS OCTOBER 10TH, A date I will never forget because that is when everything changed for me. My grocery store was closed for a short time after they spent months remodeling. The closure was to fully restock all the shelves and have their “Grand Reopening” celebration. I walked in and immediately felt like I had walked into a strange place. All the aisles had been redone; I did not know where anything was as I struggled looking for some semblance of normalcy. My bread was no longer in Aisle 2 as well as my cereal was now hiding somewhere else. I was distraught. Ok, maybe I am being a little too dramatic here; but I was not comfortable having to go up and down aisles, trying to find the stuff on my grocery list. In time I knew I would learn all the changes and go back to putting myself on automatic, to quickly make my way thru the store. I do not think I am the only person who does this, but don’t others like to know what to expect when going into a situation? Whether it is the grocery store, sporting event or instructional session; there are times where a person wants to know what they are getting into before committing to it. That is usually the case with this actor’s movies; you know what to expect from him. BEING TOLD HIS SON DIED OF A drug overdose was not something Nels Coxman, played by Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Widows), believed; he knew his son was not a “druggie.” Nels was determined to find out how his son died, and he was not going to let anyone stop him. This dramatic action thriller also starred Laura Dern (Wild, Wild at Heart) as Grace Coxman, Emmy Rossum (The Phantom of the Opera, The Day After Tomorrow) as Kim Dash, Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express, Snatched) as Trevor “Viking” Calcote and Domenick Combardozzi (Miami Vice, The Family) as Mustang. These days you know exactly what you are going to get when you see Liam Neeson in a film. He played the same type of character here as he has done before; an uber masculine, macho man who doesn’t appear to have the lethal skill set needed for the character but does. The only difference with this script compared to the others Liam has recently been in is this one had an element of dark humor. It wasn’t bad; but I thought there needed to be more of it, to tell you the truth. I was confused by Liam’s character; how did he get to be such a menace in this film, there was no back story. Still the story was not so different that it would stand out. I expected as much when I bought my movie ticket.
2 ¼ stars
Flash Movie Review: What Men Want
WHEN I WAS A MUCH YOUNGER BOY I thought there were many differences between men and women. Maybe it was the times, the environment or the teachings; but outside the physical characteristics both sexes were treated differently. I never understood why the color blue was designated as a masculine color and pink a feminine one. I was taught to open doors for women and to give up my seat on the bus or train for a woman who is standing. Rarely do I see either of these things being done these days. If a female drops something it was ok to pick it up for her; however, if a male dropped something it was okay to ignore it. To pick something up for another male was akin to telling them they were weak and puny. Seriously, this is what I was led to believe. And of course, there is that thing about showing emotions, especially sadness and tears. Heaven forbid you are watching a sad movie in your film class and tear up; your classmates will pounce on you for being a weak sissy. These are only a couple of the things that I encountered in my youth; I am glad I grew up. HERE ARE A FEW THINGS I see today: both women and men saying ignorant things, both sexes displaying prejudices, men and women competing on the same team and both capable of being poor drivers. In other words, in my small world I see very little difference between men and women. As such, I treat them the same. If either sex drops something I will pick it up for them. In my fitness classes I do not even see males and females; I see people working hard and doing their best. With the participants in my classes ranging in age from 16 to 80 years old, I see the younger generations have a different mindset about the opposite sex than the older members. It is encouraging to me because I believe everyone should be on equal footing and treated equally. In the locker room the only negative remarks I have heard about the opposite sex have come from older men. In my opinion there is a lack of respect on their part, based on their comments. I do not think they have a clue that their attitude is part of the problem. For all I know they may not even know what a woman needs and who knows, maybe the same thing goes on in the women’s locker room and they don’t know what men need. This was not the case for the woman in this dramatic, romantic fantasy. NO MATTER HOW HARD SHE WORKED Ali Davis, played by Taraji P. Henson (Proud Mary, No Good Deed), never felt like she was being treated fairly at her job. Could it be because she was the only female sports agent? This remake of the male version also starred Josh Brener (The Internship, The Belko Experiment) as Brandon Wallace, Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton) as Will, Max Greenfield (The Big Short, About Alex) as Kevin Myrtle and Brian Bosworth (The Longest Yard, Three Kings) as Nick Ivers. I do not know when this movie was completed but a part of me had to wonder while watching it if it was purposely written to appeal to our current events between the sexes. I felt the script had holes in it causing me to be bored. If it was not for Taraji’s valiant effort to get as much as possible out of the script, I would have been even more bored. Gratefully her acting kept this picture alive, along with the few scenes that I found humorous. I do not know how much you will gain from watching this film; I think you would learn more from one of my classes.
Flash Movie Review: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
THERE WAS AN OLD SET OF blocks I found in my toy box. It must have been handed down because the color used on the wooden blocks was faded and worn out. Each block had a letter of the alphabet, but I never used the blocks to make words; instead, I used them to make more important things. Stacking the blocks one on top of another made a tall lookout post, with certain letters like “U” and “M” being hidden cannons and machine guns. I would use the blocks to build a wall that was used to surround a moat filled with alligators. One of my favorite things to build were these unusual shaped structures that I pretended were buildings used for outer space outposts. The letters carved into the blocks were windows or shades to protect the inhabitants from the effects of a sun. My imagination would be all over the place as it was being nurtured while playing with these old, wooden building blocks. Every time I would play with them I would discover new adventures and places to explore. IT WAS SOON AFTER I STARTED playing with other toys that would feed my imagination. I remember a box that contained these miniature logs with notches carved towards the ends, like ones used to make a log cabin. However, I used mine to build bridges that would carry visitors over churning rapids or deadly volcanoes. You are probably saying a bridge would never last over an active volcano; but in my world, the logs were made of a secret element that allowed them to withstand the heat from the lava churning inside the volcano, that was preparing to spew up and out. Most of my building type toys were of a smaller scale; in other words, I could create whatever I wanted but it would not be life-sized. That all changed when I received a gift of Styrofoam blocks from a friend of mine. These blocks were bigger than anything I had in my possession. They would interlock using the three pegs sticking up from the top into the three holes that were at the bottom of each piece. The key was not using all three pegs into another piece. All I had to do was use one of the pegs at the ends and I could form a curving wall to form an igloo or fort that was big enough for me to sit in. Add a towel or bedsheet at the top and it would become an awning. There was no limit to my imagination with any of my building toys. The same could be said for the writers of this animated action sequel. LIFE DRASTICALLY CHANGED THE PAST FEW years from everything being awesome to everything being destroyed. The only citizen who kept a positive attitude was Emmet Brickowski, voiced by Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, The Magnificent Seven), but that was about to change. With Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise, Pitch Perfect franchise) voicing Lucy, Will Arnett (Show Dogs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise) voicing Batman, Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Nobody’s Fool) voicing Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi and Stephanie Beatriz (Short Term 12, The Light of the Moon) voicing General Mayhem; the previous cast returned with a few new additions in this adventure film. The actors were all in tune with their characters, delivering the finely tuned humor in the script. As with building blocks, the writers had free rein to go anywhere they wanted with the story. For the most part, they did a good job; however, I think they defaulted to the safe side to avoid risking damage to this burgeoning franchise. The entire family will find something to enjoy in this picture. If there is going to be a third installment, I hope the writers see it as an opportunity to build something new and fresh for these building block pieces.