Monthly Archives: August 2019

Flash Movie Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

HOW IRONIC, WE WERE HAVING THIS conversation over dinner. Friends for years, we had gotten together to catch up with each other; it had been some time since we had last seen each other. During our meal the conversation had turned to the topic of how busy everyone seemed, including us. I was talking about my schedule and how I was booking dates a couple of months ahead already, to get together with friends and family. My friend did not understand why I was having a challenging time in getting together with people. I explained I enjoyed getting together with people over a meal; but after a couple of times meeting in restaurants, I like to plan some type of activity we can both experience. It does not have to be anything elaborate like a boat cruise or indoor sky diving; it can be as simple as going bowling or to a movie. For me, doing something together adds fiber to the relationship. Let’s face it, how many of us will remember a meal we had from a year or so ago? Ok, well maybe I would; but food is not a reliable memory maker. Seeing a museum exhibit that moves both of you or a play that you thought was fantastic or even horrendous, would stay longer in your memory I believe.      THESE SHARED EXPERIENCES PROVIDE ME WITH A deeper emotional connection and understanding to my friends and family members. Being together and witnessing feelings in “real time” is better to me than having someone sitting and telling me about it. The exhilaration of being at a concert, sporting event or discovering a new place on a walking tour; are things that will stay with me. Another option is taking a trip together. They say you really get to know about a person when you take travel with them and I am telling you, it is absolutely true! Granted, this may not always be a positive thing; but you would certainly know more than you did if you hadn’t taken a trip together. One of the fun aspects of sharing an event together is hearing about it years later. Seeing your memory through someone else’s eyes is a fascinating learning experience. You might be surprised to find out something you did not know before. I am not only talking about the activity; it could also be about yourself. Either way, if you want to take a visual trip and see for yourself then watch this film festival winning, comedic drama adventure.      IT WAS NOT ENOUGH FOR ZAK, played by newcomer Zack Gottsagen, to only see his idol on television. He needed to escape the nursing home where he lived and go find his favorite wrestler, the Salt Water Redneck, played by Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Easy A). This movie was a treat. Playing out like a modern Mark Twain story, the filming of it was beautiful. Enough time was given to the scenes to allow the viewer to settle into them. With Shia LaBeouf (Fury, American Honey) as Tyler, Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, The Social Network) as Eleanor and John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, The Sessions) as Duncan; the acting was outstanding. Shia was such a force on the screen that I was surprised by it. Though I have not been a big fan of Dakota in the past, she was wonderful in this role. Thanks to the direction and script, watching this film was like reading a novel. I felt like I was experiencing things at my speed, allowing me to get the most I could out of the scenes. An original story with a lead actor representing a group that has less exposure on screen; I wish I would have taken someone with me when I went to see this exquisite film.

 

3 ½ stars

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Flash Movie Review: Blinded by the Light

INSTEAD OF REHASHING MY STORY ABOUT the school teacher who told me I would amount to nothing if I decided to become a writer, let me tell you about a friend’s son. When the boy was little, he loved playing with all kinds of building block type toys. He could sit and play by himself for hours with these toys. As he got older the simple building blocks were replaced with more complicated toys; toys that gave him more options in the way he could connect pieces together. He would build these elaborate structures. Some were recognizable as being a castle or a bridge; but others were more freeform and creative. During the latter part of elementary school and beginning of high school, the father began hoping his son would join the family business. Though the son had never shown an inclination to be involved in the business, the father persisted in steering his son into following in his father’s footsteps. This created a wedge between the father and son. From the first set of building blocks the son had received when he was young, all he wanted to do was to build things. He was inclined to go into the field of architecture or construction. The father could not understand why his son wanted to venture into such work when a successful career was right there waiting for him at the family business.      WHAT THE FATHER DID NOT UNDERSTAND was the fact that his son had zero passion for the type of work his father did. And I believe that is the key when it comes to deciding what a person wants to do in life. Without passion a person becomes more like a robot, lifeless and unemotional. They just go through the motions at their job, but really do not care about it. I have worked with several individuals who had mentally checked out from the job. They were at the company simply to collect a paycheck; they had no concern for the health of the company as long as it did not affect their paycheck. Those individuals lacked passion in my opinion. As I watched my friend and his son play this tug of war game about coming into the family business, I knew the son would never abide by his father’s wishes. The reason being, I saw how passionate the son was when it came to building things. Those early building blocks when he was a baby planted the seed that let his passion flourish through the years. A similar situation can be found in this musical, comedic drama.     NOT FEELING CONNECTED TO HIS SURROUNDINGS British teenager Javed, played by Viveik Kalra (Beecham House-TV, Next of Kin-TV Mini-Series), found someone who understood how he felt; it was the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen. Inspired by a true story, this film festival winner also starred Kulvinder Ghir (Bend it Like Beckham, Still Open All Hours-TV) as Malik, Meera Ganatra (Three Dots and a Dash, PREmature-TV Mini-Series) as Noor, Raron Phagura (Doctor Who-TV, Him-TV Mini-Series) as Roops and Dean-Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones-TV, The Commuter) as Matt. Set in the 1980s, the story was familiar to me, having seen it done in other films. The movie started out slow, but I soon was drawn into this picture due to the charms of the cast. There was a sweetness to the script that felt right to me. I also appreciated the underlying story involving the dynamics of Javed’s family within the surrounding area. And of course, there was Springsteen’s music. Though I am familiar with Bruce’s music, I do not own any of his albums. However, I was surprised how well his songs worked within the story. The combination made for an enjoyable viewing experience. To take a familiar story and tweak it enough to make it feel fresh takes true passion. I could totally relate.

 

3 stars      

Flash Movie Review: Ready or Not

HE WAS A MEAN, NASTY, RUDE MAN and I worked for him. Being more wide than tall, I think he compensated for it by yelling at people. The company had less than 100 employees; some of them were related to him. I was extra cautious around them, not sure if they loved or hated their relative. Working for him always meant one had to be ready for his phone call or command. He would think nothing of it to call an employee on the telephone late at night. Half the time the calls had nothing to do with work. He would want someone to go pickup something for him, like a pizza or Chinese food. An employee once told me he got woken up early in the morning by the owner, who told him to go to the airport to pick up one of his relatives who was flying in for a visit. Granted he was successful, driving expensive cars and taking lavish trips; but he yielded his wealth like a battering ram, to make people submissive to him. Refusing him meant there was a good chance you would not get a raise in your salary. I was so grateful I did not have much contact with him while I worked there.      IT TURNS OUT THAT OWNER WAS one of many individuals I encountered who used their wealth as a weapon. There was the relative who consistently told friends and family what they “should” do with their lives. Since this relative felt they were successful and wealthy, they had the right to tell other people what they did wrong, both in life and career. From my dealings with people of wealth, I realized being wealthy does not necessarily mean one has brains and/or good taste. Sure, a rich person could spend a small fortune on decorating their home, but that does not mean it would be considered a beautiful and comfortable place. I had a friend who would only buy designer clothing. By that, I mean clothes where the designer’s name is prominently displayed on the clothing. They thought they looked great in outfits; but I am here to tell you, some of the stuff they wore was impractical and unattractive. The way I see it, people who showoff their wealth or yield it to get their way are ugly inside. Not that I am stereotyping here; for there are many wealthy people who do not advertise their financial status and do good things. But if you are looking for them you will not find them in this mystery horror thriller.     ON HER WEDDING DAY GRACE, PLAYED by Samara Weaving (Home and Away-TV; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) was not only marrying the love of her life, she was getting his entire family. It turns out that would not be a good thing. With Adam Brody (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, CHIPS) as Daniel Le Domas, Mark O’Brien (Arrival, The Front Runner) as Alex Le Domas, Henry Czerny (The Other Half, Clear and Present Danger) as Tony Le Domas and Andie MacDowell (Hudson Hawk, Four Weddings and a Funeral) as Becky Le Domas; this biting satire was bloody wild. And I do mean bloody. I not only thought Samara was great in this role, I thought the entire cast did a spot-on job with their characters. The script was filled with humor and horror; but written in such a smart way that it felt like I was on a carnival ride while watching this picture. Even if I did not have my history with unpleasant wealthy people, I would still appreciate the social commentary being done in the script. Despite my uncomfortableness with bloody scenes, watching this film was like finding something special on a scavenger hunt. It really stood out from the usual films in this genre. There were several scenes with blood and violence.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Angel Has Fallen

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY SOME people are so hellbent on proving someone wrong. They seem as if they get immense pleasure out of them being right and you being wrong. I will never forget this one individual who was such a stickler on details, that he would interrupt a person from talking just to correct them. The conversation was about a new restaurant and the individual was telling us the place was in the middle of the block. This person who likes being right had to interject himself into the conversation to let the teller know the restaurant was three doors down from the end of the block. Can you believe it? I think anyone who planned on going to try the restaurant would be able to find it from “being in the middle of the block.” But this individual needed, for some reason, to show everyone they were right. I am sure others in the group were thinking the same thing that I was: What is up with this person? There are several reasons I could come up with to explain this person’s behavior, from lack of confidence to possibly OCD tendencies; but to delve into it, would take up the space for today’s movie review.      BESIDES HAVING EXPERIENCED SITUATIONS LIKE THE one I mentioned above, I have been the one who believed was right about an issue. I was listening to my friend talk about a friend of hers who needed help in cleaning up a room in her house. There were heavy pieces of furniture and a lot of clutter that prevented her from moving through the room in her condition. My friend agreed and set a date to come over to the house. When she got there, she discovered there was more to the story. To get to the room, she would need to clean the hallway of its stuff consisting of boxes and piles of papers. I told my friend she better be careful because this friend of hers was going to dump more work onto her. My reasoning was based on her not mentioning the hallway; as if the furniture in the room could levitate over all the stuff strewn down the hallway. We discussed this at some length; she was way more forgiving then me. I told her because her friend did not mention the extent of the work involved, her friend would not stop asking for more and more help. And sure enough, a couple of weeks later the friend asked for help in cleaning the closets; the excuse being, once the closets were cleared up then there would be room for my friend to move stuff from the floor into the closet. I warned her, but she did not listen. It was frustrating to convince my friend of the truth; just as it was for the main character in this action movie.      HAVING SAVED THE PRESIDENT FROM AN assassination attempt; secret service agent Mike Banning, played by Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves, Machine Gun Preacher), had to find a way to convince everyone he was not part of the plot, despite what the evidence showed. With Danny Huston (Wonder Woman, The Professor) as Wade Jennings, Morgan Freeman (Going in Style, Last Knights) as President Trumbull, Frederick Schmidt (Brimstone, Patient Zero) as Travis Cole and Piper Perabo (The Prestige, Imagine Me & You) as Leah Banning; this 3rdin the film franchise was unimaginative with its script. The story was basic, and I was able to quickly figure out the bad guys. The main driver to this picture was the action. It was good but not exceptionally good. Being a basic good guys/bad guys battle, the scenes were mostly filled with explosions and fights; nothing new or real exciting here. Not that I have to be the right one, but you don’t need to rush to see this picture. And certainly not for a full priced admission.

 

2 stars      

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

WHILE EMPLOYEES WERE COMPLIMENTING THE soon to be retired fellow employee, I kept my distance. Don’t get me wrong, there was no bad blood between us or anything like that; there just was something odd about him that kept me reserved but cordial around him. He had worked at the company for decades. Though he had built up getting 5 weeks of vacation a year, he only used 1 or 2 weeks; he evidently loved being at work. I hope I am not coming across as judgmental; but I am and have been always cautious around anyone I perceive as being extreme. Whether they are into a sport, an art or a belief; in my experiences, people who solely focus on one thing tend to lack skills in other areas of their life. Take this employee who retired; he was a bit deficient in social skills. He did not have much awareness of the world around him. From what I had heard, he had little or no outside interests. I assumed he was happy, but I really did not know. He lived to work. The funny thing is he reminded me of this couple I know. I once asked them what they do for fun and they could not provide me with an answer. Let me ask you, can one live a complete life without ever having some fun in it?      I APPRECIATE THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE focused on a goal; for example, athletes who train hard to get picked for the Olympic games. The amount of money, time and dedication they put into their craft is admirable and incredible. From the things I have seen and read about Olympic athletes, there are some who take it to an extreme by sacrificing all other aspects of their life simply to try and become a gold medal winner. However, there are many others who still pursue outside interests. There have been many athletes who have gone to college while training for the Olympics. Whether they win a medal or not, they have taken steps to have a successful career after the games. I can think of a few ice skaters who became doctors once they retired from their sport. When you think about it, it all comes down to how deep does a person want to dive into their obsession. I am a perfect example; when I started this site, I was doing a movie review every single day of the week. Declining all social engagements, my life was out of balance because I had to always go to the movie theater and write a review. I still struggle with finding balance between writing reviews and living life. Being aware of this made it easier for me to see what was going on with the main character in this comedic drama mystery.      RENOWNED ARCHITECT BERNADETTE FOX, PLAYED BY Cate Blanchett (The House with a Clock in its Walls, Carol), took a step away from her craft to focus on building a family. Surprisingly no one noticed the cracks in the family’s foundation. With Billy Crudup (After the Wedding, 20thCentury Women) as Elgie, Judy Greer (27 Dresses, Ant-Man franchise) as Dr. Kurtz, Kristen Wiig (The Skeleton Twins, Ghostbusters) as Audrey and newcomer Emma Nelson as Bee; this movie was written and directed by Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Last Flag Flying). I thought the acting was wonderful in this film. Cate and Kristen were utterly eye catching in each of their scenes. The story was interesting, but I found the movie dragged in the beginning. It was not until late in the picture where I realized I was more engaged with the story, even if some things seemed farfetched. However, I did feel as if the script was rushed to quickly and neatly tie everything up. The idea behind this story may have been intriguing; but I was disappointed I gave up a lunch date to go see this film.

 

2 ¼ stars                

                

                

Flash Movie Review: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

THE NEWS REPORTER SHOWED NO REACTION to the mother’s comments. I sat in front of my television in total shock. Did I hear correctly, was she joking; I could not believe she said such a thing. More shocking to me was the fact that she would even think it. The reason the mother and her daughters were being interviewed was because one daughter had survived a shark attack. What had stunned me was when the mother said she did not tell her daughters that the city they were vacationing in was known as the shark attack capitol of the world; she did not want to scare her girls. She even chuckled when she said this to the news reporter. I simply could not fathom why a person would choose to vacation at a beach known for shark attacks and then not tell family members to be careful if they go in the water. This made no sense to me; and get this, the little girl had to show the reporter where the shark bit her on the leg. The cameraman panned down to show the bite that went nearly around the whole calf of her leg. There were large, bloody welts forming an oval shape across the skin. When asked, the little girl said she cannot wait to get back into the water.      CAN ANYONE EXPLAIN TO ME THIS desire people have to court danger? Having seen that news report made me further question the sanity of some people. I remember when I was younger, I did stuff that I am sure others would think was dangerous. Playing in a condemned building or riding down a snow-covered hill on the cover of a trash can are a couple of things that come to mind. So, does danger all come down to one’s perception? During winter I change my driving style to accommodate for snow and icy conditions; but I see other drivers continuing to drive the same way they do on a dry road. And the result is some pass me by while others slide off the road. I notice now how I have changed regarding seeing ice on the ground. When I was young, I did not give the ice much thought as I walked on it. Now, I walk like a penguin on icy sidewalks because I have a fear of falling and breaking a limb. Is it an age thing then? I wonder; but I can tell you this, I would not have done in my younger days what the main characters did in this dramatic, horror adventure film.      THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE A NEWLY discovered underwater cave was enticing enough to make four high school students disregard any kind of safety concerns. It could be a decision that kills them. With Sophie Nelisse (The Book Thief, Pawn Sacrifice) as Mia, newcomer Corrine Fox as Sasha, Brianne Tju (Make it or Break it-TV, Scream: The TV Series) as Alexa, newcomer Sistine Rose Stallone as Nicole and John Corbett (The Messengers, My Big Fat Greek Wedding franchise) as Grant; this movie’s story had a strictly paint by number formula. It was your typical man vs beast scenario, except this one was cheesy and generic. There was no real acting from the four women; though, the script gave them nothing to sink their teeth into, so to speak. Since most of the picture was filmed underwater, it was difficult at times to see what was going on. This type of story inherently comes with a level of dread and fear; it was a shame the writers could not have written a better script to play on those emotions. It did cross my mind if the dads of Corrine and Sistine provided anything to get this movie up on the big screen. As far as I am concerned, I wish I would have stayed out of the water and think you should do the same.

 

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Good Boys

THE SCHOOL I ATTENDED COVERED ALL the grades from kindergarten to eighth. Despite all classes being in the same building, there was a definite division between grades. I started in kindergarten and remained a student at the school until I graduated from eighth grade. The school building never went through any type of remodeling while I was a student, except for the playground. This will be hard to believe; but when I started at the school, the playground was divided into 2 spaces, side by side. One space was smooth, looking like a paved road; the other consisted of gravel. The younger grades were assigned the smooth surfaced playground, while the older students had to take the graveled playground. During my sixth year, when I would have to switch to the gravel side, the school removed the gravel and paved the ground. Though both spaces looked the same the younger kids knew not to go over to the newly paved space; it was still meant for older students. Now it may not seem like a big deal, but what this school policy did was to teach the younger kids that there was a reward waiting for them when they got older.      IT WOULD START IN FIFTH GRADE, students trying to befriend older ones. Those who already had an older sibling in a higher grade had an easier time fitting into the older crowds. I had a neighbor who was a couple of grades ahead of me. Anytime I caught a glimpse of him on the newer playground space I would try to come up with an excuse to go talk to him. Looking back at it now, it seems silly; all of us wanted to be treated like we were older, more adult-like students who did not want to be referred to as kids anymore. Girls would consider it a major achievement if they could call a student from a higher grade their boyfriend. It was almost like an obsession; for every grade one advanced, their previous grade was added to the disdain they had for anyone younger. And if anyone had a friendship with a younger student, it was kept a secret. I firmly believe all of this was the catalyst in the formation of cliques. At my school, there was no greater moniker to have than being labelled the “cool” kid. Cool would encompass a variety of traits; but it did not matter, if other students considered one cool then life at school would be good for them. An example of this can be found in this adventure comedy.      BEING INVITED TO A PARTY WAS the first step in attaining cool status for Max, played by Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) and his two friends. However, if they did not want to embarrass themselves, they would need to take a crash course on what cool kids do at a party. With Keith L. Williams (The Last Man on Earth-TV, Teachers-TV) as Lucas, Brady Noon (Boardwalk Empire-TV) as Thor, Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Life of the Party) as Hannah and Midori Francis (Ocean’s Eight, Younger-TV) as Lily; this film had a lot of profanity being spoken in it. At first because it was being said by elementary school kids, it was funny; however, as the story progressed it lost its shock value and seemed to be the only comedy focal point in several scenes. The three boys were excellent together and did provide a few laugh out moments in the story. I appreciated the way the writers tackled the topics of first love and evolving friendships; they were written with authenticity. For the most part I was entertained by this movie; however, I did wonder if kids today have more pressure placed on them to fit in and be considered cool.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

THEY WERE SUCH SWEET GERMAN SHEPARD dogs, yet the two of them were so different. If you pretended to throw a ball across the room, one of the dogs would immediately search the whole room looking for that ball. The other dog would remain seated in front of you, staring into your face as if saying, “Who do you think you’re fooling?” It was obvious this dog was the smarter of the two. Though the other dog may not have been as intelligent, she was more demonstrative with her feelings. Yes, that is right; she was an emotional dog. Whenever her owner would sneeze, no matter where she was at, she would take off and run as fast as she could to get to him. If he was seated, she would jump into his lap; if he was standing when he sneezed, she would stand on her hind legs and try to wrap her front legs around him, as if she were hugging him. It was a sight to see. The most reaction coming from the other dog would be a turn of ears in the direction of the sneeze, nothing more. I did not care if one was smarter and the other more affectionate; I loved each of them equally.      I HAVE A HARD TIME ACCEPTING those who say their pet is only a pet. To me, they are not; they are family. Those 2 dogs I mentioned were family members in that household. Having a pet is like having children; both need to be potty trained, must be disciplined at times and both will go through their terrible two’s phase. The only thing different is your pets never move out of the house. I have learned so much from pets. They practice unconditional love every single day. There is nothing like coming home from a long day at work, opening the front door and your dog is there, absolutely excited to see you. Those times when you are feeling down and your pet quietly comes up to sit on your lap or lie next to you, makes the sadness easier to handle. I had a pet dog who would listen to me while looking into my eyes, barely blinking. I was sure he could tell how I was feeling about something. So, I do have a hard time believing a person can stay emotionally detached from their pet. In fact, I would be curious to see what they have to say about the dog in this comedic drama.      WHILE HIS OWNER DENNY SWIFT, PLAYED by Milo Ventimiglia (Killing Season, This is Us-TV), was trying to win car races; Enzo was learning lessons about life that would help him when he would be needed most. Based on the bestselling book, this movie starred Amanda Seyfried (Dear John, Mama Mia! franchise) as Eve, Gary Cole (One Hour Photo, Under the Eiffel Tower) as Don Kitch, Ryan Kiera Armstrong (Anne with an E-TV, It Chapter Two) as Zoe and Kathy Baker (Return to Zero, Cold Mountain) as Trish. If you are dog lover, you will love this film. I thought the dog Enzo was wonderful. Milo on the other hand was no different with his acting than what he does on This is Us. He seemed to be the same character to me. I am positive the book must be an incredible read; but I have a feeling the story did not transfer well to the big screen. I have not read the book, yet I knew everything that was going to happen as the story unfolded. The script was riddled with clichés, besides being quite manipulative with the viewer’s emotions. In fact, with Enzo being as smart as he was; I am surprised he did not bolt out of this picture.

 

2 stars             

Flash Movie Review: The Kitchen

NOT TO BE MORBID; BUT IF I should suddenly die, I want someone to be able to step in for me and know exactly what needs to be done. I have this mindset at work and have shared my thoughts with my co-workers. To the employees in my department, I have told them if I should get hit by a bus and don’t make it, they will have no problem taking over the things I handle. As far as I am concerned this is just common sense. It does not make sense to me to keep things hidden from co-workers or loved ones, as a matter of fact. I worked at a company where a long-term employee died, and no one knew how to do this person’s job. He was a supervisor/buyer who had established vendor contacts; however, none of their names were written down anywhere. He just knew their names and how to reach them, without ever looking them up. Well, after he was gone his co-workers had no idea which vendor to call for which product nor what discounts were available for each of them. The company went through a rough patch with its customers because there were times it did not have the right product in stock, or they were completely out of something for a customer. I thought if I ever get into a managerial position, I would never want something like this to happen with me.      SADLY, THE BUSINESS WORLD IS NOT the only place where I have seen such a predicament take place. I cannot tell you how many couples I know where one handles all the money matters and the other has no idea or interest in it. Personally, I could never be in such a situation not knowing what bills come in and what needs to be paid. This one couple I know both work; one handles all the bills and the other has their paycheck deposited directly into their mutual checking account. After the billpayer determines how much is needed to pay the weekly bills, they give their spouse the remaining cash not used back from their deposited check. I don’t know about you; but I could not handle such an arrangement and it has nothing to do with trust. With a career in credit, I have always been particular about my bills being paid on time. I would need to know how much money was available and how it was being distributed. It would be scary for me to wake up one day and have everything suddenly fall into my lap without me having any prior knowledge of it; just like what happened to the women in this action, crime drama.      WITH THEIR HUSBANDS HAVING BEEN CONVICTED and sent to jail, the gangsters’ wives were left trying to figure out how to pay the household bills. They would have to work together and come up with some type of plan to bring in money; though, it would not be easy considering their husbands’ line of work. Starring Melissa McCarthy (Life of the Party, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as Kathy Brennan, Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School) as Ruby O’Carroll, Elizabeth Moss (The One I Love, The Handmaid’s Tale) as Claire Walsh, Domhnall Gleeson (About Time, Unbroken) as Gabriel O’Malley and Bill Camp (Midnight Special, 12 Years a Slave) as Alfonso Coretti; each actor could have made this a worthwhile film. Unfortunately, the script and direction were off target here. There was no character development; which in turn, made the lack of acting stand out even more. I only connected to Elizabeth Moss’s acting skills; Melissa and Tiffany paled in comparison. Part of the blame must fall on the directions they were getting; it appeared as if they were going thru the motions without the emotions. Of course, not having any history attached to each of their characters did not help the situation. In turn, I did not believe what was taking place in several scenes. In a way it looked like the writers did not know what the director wanted and visa versa. Better communication between them, I’m thinking, would have turned this film into a powerful statement on female empowerment.

 

1 ¾ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Dora and the Lost City of Gold

WE WERE CONVINCED WE HAD STUMBLED onto a secret diamond mine. My friend had spotted something sparkling in the rubble. Pushing the broken concrete and gravel away with his foot, he discovered a rock that had hard, shiny pieces embedded into it. He pulled it away from the bed of earth it was nestled in and we both inspected it. He placed the rock in my hand to show me how heavy it was for its size. I turned it in the palm of my hand; it felt cold and smoother than I expected. We were a few blocks from home, on a construction site that until recently had 4 residential houses. They had been demolished to make room for a new apartment building. We thought there must have been some type of cave or space underneath the houses that contained rocks like the one we discovered. I found a wooden piece of board to use like a shovel, to help dig for these diamond rocks. We were explorers as we pushed debris aside in our search of fortune. Anything that looked unusual, like a piece of metal or glass, we would stop to inspect. If we felt it had value, we would keep it; if not, we would take turns to see how far we could throw it across the empty lots.      EVEN WITH SO MANY YEARS HAVING passed since then, I still get tremendous pleasure out of exploring new places. I have done my fair share of exploring across the states. On one trip I headed up to a northern city; where upon arriving, I spent the next 8 hours exploring its different neighborhoods all on foot. In the downtown area, there were a series of overhead pedways that reminded me of a pet hamster’s obstacle run. Walking through them felt like being in a different city because I was encapsulated away from any outside elements or people walking underneath me. When I take a trip to a new city, I always try to take their public transportation. This provides me the opportunity to cover more ground and hear directly from the city’s inhabitants. There have been times where from a struck-up conversation with a passenger has pointed me to something wonderful off the beaten path and only known by the locals. There are always new things to discover and learn and exploring is one of the best methods for attaining this knowledge. If you do not believe me then feel free to see how it is done in this family friendly, adventure film.      HAVING BEEN RAISED AND HOME SCHOOLED in the jungle would not necessarily work in Dora’s, played by Isabela Moner (Instant Family, Transformers: The Last Knight), favor when it came time to attend high school in the city; but as far as Dora was concerned, high school would simply be a new place to explore and observe its population. She had no idea she would be getting the adventure of a lifetime. With Jeff Wahlberg (Don’t Come Back From the Moon, Counterpart-TV) as Diego, Eva Longoria (Lowriders, Harsh Times) as Elena, Michael Pena (A Wrinkle in Time, End of Watch) as Cole and Eugenio Derbez (Instructions not Included, Overboard) as Alejandro; this fun film had the trappings of a cartoon. Actions and reactions were over dramatic at times and the pacing was kept at a good clip for most of the story. I was surprised by how entertaining this picture was for me, especially since I felt the writers were using references from the animated series. For example, there was a short surprise at the end of the credits that was lost on me. Something else I appreciated was the way the script incorporated high school teenage issues into the story. Isabela was the perfect choice to play Dora with these scenes; she had her innocence while displaying her enthusiasm. This movie kept my interest and as a bonus, sparked my desire to go exploring. I may need to book a trip soon.

 

3 stars  

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