Monthly Archives: June 2021
LOVE CAN MAKE A PERSON DO things they never thought of doing before. I know because not only have I seen it in action, I have been a participant. Back in my college days, I used public transportation to get to school, 1 bus and 2 trains to be exact. Taking it every day to and from school, I noticed most people stand in the same spot each time they are waiting for the train to pull up to the platform. With this knowledge in hand, I used to run through the station to get to my 2ndtrain; so I could get to the same train car where I knew a passenger was who I had been having a casual conversation with for a few weeks. I made it look like I just happened to enter the same train car, making sure to take a couple of deep breaths to slow my racing heart down before getting on to look for them. My intention was to ask them out for a drink at some point, depending on how things progressed. Some of you may think these antics, in the name of attraction/love, are a bit crazy; while others may think what I was doing was no big deal. I at least knew my actions, compared to some of the stuff I have seen people do, were more on the mild side. RECENTLY THE NEWS REPORTED ON A man who lost thousands of dollars (we are talking in the mid five figure range) to a woman he had never seen in person. This is an example of something way extreme for me. The man had met the woman online and the two struck up a “friendship” according to the man. They would exchange photos that depicted family members, home and town. As time went on the man was getting emotionally attached to this woman who had started to share stories of a more personal nature; things about her mother’s ailments, her kids’ schooling, the difficulty she was having paying some of her bills ever since her husband had been killed. I am sure you can see where this is going; the man offered to loan her some money. She protested she could not accept his money, but the man was persistent. They finally agreed that it would be okay for him to send her a “little” money and to consider it an early birthday gift for herself. For the next few months, the woman would share a variety of hardships she was facing, including trying to save up money for an airline ticket to come visit him. By that point the man had handed over most of his savings; the airline ticket was the last thing he sent her money for because once she received it, she deleted her accounts and disappeared. Such a crazy and sad story; but I know this happens when love is in the equation. Simply look at what the man did for love in this Oscar nominated film. ESCAPING THE OPPRESSION OF HIS COUNTRY’S government, a Syrian refugee agrees to become an art piece so he can travel to Europe to be with the woman he loves. However, it was not as easy as that, he soon found out. With relative newcomer Yahya Mahayni as Sam Ali, newcomer Dea Liane as Abeer, Koen De Bouw (The Prime Minister, Professor T.-TV) as Jeffrey Godefroi, Monica Bellucci (The Matrix franchise, Malena) as Soraya Waldy and Darina Al Joundi (Sisters in Arms, The Tower) as Sam’s mother. This film festival winning drama presented an original, fascinating story line that I found refreshing. The acting was excellent as was the filming of this picture. I felt there were a variety of ways a person could interpret what the writers were intending, that I am not sure if I comprehended some of the ideas coming from different angles. Whether one perceives the story as a political, a marketing, a love or satirical one; I think there is something to gain by watching this thought-provoking film. There were several scenes where Arabic and French were spoken with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
MOTHERHOOD AND FATHERHOOD COME WITH EQUAL responsibilities, at least that is how I feel about it. The way I see it, both are equal partners in the raising of their children. Now some of you already know I feel adults should be required to get a license to have a child; it is much harder to raise a child than to drive a car which requires a license. I have seen good and bad examples of parenting. Actually, it would be more like outstanding and horrific examples. One person I know has done a beautiful job in raising their child. The way they explained things to their child provided them with ample information to let the child express their feelings in a healthy way. Let me also add the child’s vocabulary increased greatly to the point their reading level reached far beyond their grade level. Another parent I know has taken their life experiences and used them as examples of what not to do to their child. I could appreciate their method because a good part of their upbringing involved guilt and manipulation. They vowed they would never treat their child the way they were growing up. There are several parents I know who are not trying to be their child’s best friend; they are just being the parents. SADLY, ON THE FLIP SIDE, I have seen too many examples of parenting from poor to horrible. A father who wanted to get revenge on his child’s mother decided to call family services and tell them his daughter is being abused by the mother’s new boyfriend. What transpired next is too much to talk about just in the space of this review; let me just say there were no winners in this struggle. Another parent I know did not recognize the emotional eating their child was doing to themselves. Not that I expect every adult to recognize emotional eating; but don’t you think anything done to an extreme would be a red flag? I also have a hard time with parents who instill their prejudices into their children. Back in elementary school, there was a boy in my class who was anti-Semitic. He not only would verbally abuse students in the class, he would pick on them either by throwing something like paper clips and rubber bands or he would sock them as he passed them in the hallway. I happened to see him at a store with his father, who displayed the same behavior. As I said before, I have seen a wide variety of parenting techniques which is why I could appreciate what the father was going through in this comedic drama. WITH THE SUDDEN DEATH OF HIS wife after giving birth to their child, a father must figure out what would be the best option for raising his child. With Kevin Hart (The Upside, Jumanji franchise) as Matt Logelin, Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, Burning Sands) as Marion, Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Bad Trip) as Jordan, DeWanda Wise (The Weekend, She’s Gotta have It-TV) as Swan and Melody Hurd (Trick, Them-TV) as Maddy Logelin; this was a surprisingly different role for Kevin to take on and I liked him in it. Not the usual loud, fast talking character in the movie, he showed more dimension than I have seen before. The story is pretty much predictable and could have used more in-depth scenes and character development. With that being said, the script was created with the viewer in mind because it was obvious the writers wanted to pull on the viewers’ heartstrings. This picture may not have been high art, but I did appreciate the way they depicted the trials and tribulations of a single parent. Overall, I did not mind this film at all. Hopefully, Kevin will take on more similar roles that test his acting abilities.
2 ½ stars
THE DINING TABLE WAS SET PRIOR to all of us showing up. I always notice first what type of napkin the host is using for the dinner guests. Not that I am being judgmental, but I use and prefer cloth napkins. I feel they add a different touch aesthetically, besides being quite functional. The ones I use were on the store’s clearance rack and they work just fine. The table was set for half a dozen guests; it had been a long time since we all got together. After everyone arrived and we visited with appetizers and drinks, we all found places at the table. The host was bringing out a large glass bowl filled with salad when the doorbell rang. Since there were no empty spaces left at the table, one could only assume this was an unexpected event which immediately got confirmed when the host wondered out loud who it could be. I did not hear who the person was when the host went over and spoke into the intercom, but they got buzzed in and the host went to unlock the door. The person soon walked in as we all heard talking coming in from the hallway. I recognized him as a friend of the host, but I did not know him well. Saying hi and asking what was going on as he came into the dining room, the host simply said we were just sitting down to dinner and asked if he would like to join us. Seeing that there was no room left at the table, I would have declined the invitation because it would have been an imposition; it was not like people were just sitting about with boxes of delivered pizza or buckets of chicken. ALL MY FRIENDS KNOW I DO not answer the door unless I am expecting someone. They have questioned me if this is the only option and I tell them yes. If someone wants to come over and visit me, all they need to do is call ahead of time. I remember once a friend had driven into the city and decided to stop and visit with me. Since they did not call, I did not hear them ringing the doorbell because I was jogging on the treadmill. I especially dislike when people show up during mealtimes, either at home or in a restaurant. This happened some time ago, but I still remember eating out with my family and a couple came over to talk to one of my relatives, who they knew. Well I am here to tell you, this couple kept talking and talking while all of us were giving our food orders to the waitress, continuing even when the food came to our table. Personally, I think it is rude to hover over people while they are trying to eat; so, I took it upon myself to say something to them, thanking them for stopping over but I wanted to talk to my family since I had not seen them for some time. They appeared to be startled by my comments but apologized profusely and excused themselves from our space. Ironically, my family was appreciative of my comments to the couple. I do not make apologies for how I feel about uninvited guests; I have no idea how I would have handled what happened to the astronauts in this dramatic, science fiction thriller. WHILE STARTING OFF ON A MISSION to Mars, a crew is stunned when they discover an unauthorized person on their ship. With Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect franchise, A Simple Favor) as Zoe Levenson, Daniel Dae Kim (Hellboy, Lost-TV) as David Kim, Shamier Anderson (Awake, City of Lies) as Michael Adams and Toni Collette (Knives Out, Hereditary) as Marina Barnett; this cast did a wonderful job of acting. Visually, I enjoyed watching this movie with its special effects. On the downside, I am afraid the script was too drawn out for me; I felt there were several scenes that dragged. However, I did enjoy the moral question that was woven into the story line. For a science fiction film, this one had a slightly different vibe to it which was a plus. I only wished there had been more intensity involved with the story and a different ending.
2 ½ stars
DESPITE BEING ROCK HARD AND OVER done, I pretended the chocolate chip cookies were delicious. They are my favorite type of cookie and my relative knew it; so, how could I say the cookies she baked did not taste good? I had known for some time she was not a very good cook or baker and I was not alone in that sentiment. In the grand scheme of things, her poor cooking skills were no big deal to me because I knew she meant well. While growing up those words “meant well” were said often enough that I always associated them with her. She was such a kind and warm individual; when she asked you, “How are you?” she meant it because she really wanted to hear what you had to say. And it was funny to me how she did not make eye contact after she asked that question; instead, she would cock her slightly to the side and gaze down towards the floor. It looked like she was thinking deeply about every word you were saying. One of the things I remember about her was how quiet she was when she moved about. There were times people would become startled by her appearance next to them because they had not heard her walk up. ONE OF THE THINGS I FOUND amusing about her was her demeanor. Most people never took the time to talk to her except for surface type conversations. I am not sure if most of you will understand this analogy, but on the outside, she closely resembled the character Aunt Clara from the old television show, Bewitched. Like the character, she came across as this bumbling confused individual, who had a slightly off perception of things compared to the people in her life. However, if one spent a little more time with her, they would discover she was intelligent and highly knowledgeable about many things. For example, what I took to be small, decorative ceramic pieces in her china cabinet turned out to be steeped in history. She spent the time to explain each piece, when she saw me standing in front of the cabinet’s glass doors. I found out some of the pieces were more than 100 years old which explained why she never allowed me to play with them. Those little pieces, by the way, were only one of many items she had in her home. Sometimes one would have to clear off a space to be able to sit down; but again, it did not bother anyone because everyone knew she always meant well. I have similar feelings about this biographical adventure drama; everyone meant well in bringing this story to the big screen. DESPERATE TO FIND FUNDS TO SATISFY the bank loan on his orphanage, the owner enters some of his kids into a fishing contest who had never fished before. One caught fish could change the lives of everyone. With Dennis Quaid (A Dog’s Journey, The Intruder) as Wade, Jimmy Gonzales (Happy Death Day franchise, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) as Omar, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Tombstone, Nashville-TV) as Tricia Bisbee, Fernanda Urrejola (Imprisoned, Narcos: Mexico-TV) as Becca and Raymond Cruz (Training Day, Clear and Present Danger) as Hector; this movie based on a true story was simply a feel good movie. As I said earlier, I believe everyone associated with this film meant well. The script was predictable and there were almost no levels of depth to any of the characters. Also, there was a bit of manipulation to tug at the heartstrings of viewers. In spite of these negatives, I enjoyed watching this film. The scenery was pretty; there was nothing offensive or assaulting to the senses within the framework of this picture. I felt everyone tried their best; but It just did not make it over the finish line and yet I am glad I saw this movie.
2 ½ stars
THE WOMAN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS old looking, but I did not know she was ancient. I was working on creating a wall of family photos and the photograph of her was sent to me. When I first got it, I had no idea who she was or the younger woman who was standing next to her in the photo. When I found out, I was absolutely blown away; she was my great, great, great grandmother. The woman standing next to her was my great, great aunt. I kept staring at the photograph because I could not believe I was looking at someone who was connected to me from such a long time ago. And when I say a long time ago, when doing the math, I mean she was alive when Napoleon invaded Russia, hence the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. This small and frail looking woman was seated in a chair or stool with her arms folded in her lap. Her clothing looked like it could swallow her up; the skirt hung down to the floor and her jacket or sweater was dark and long as well. She had a scarf tied around her head as if she were about to go outside, though the sepia colored photo showed her to be inside. I could only imagine what kind of life she must have lived, but because of her I was here. DESPITE NOT KNOWING SOME OF THE relatives in the photographs I have in my possession, I feel a connection to all the people. It is a weird feeling that I do not know if I can explain but looking at all the relatives in the photos had the effect of centering or grounding me. I felt like I had tapped into my roots; I was not some transient who floats from one thing to the next without having a “home base” to return to. Maybe another way I can explain it is by saying my life story, though it is unique to me, shared common ground with the stories from all of these relatives, whether they are deceased of alive. This reminds me of another photograph I got that has 5 relatives in it. I found out that this particular photograph used to be quite famous in the family because it was the first and maybe only one that depicts 5 generations of the family in one photograph. Each one of them has played a part in laying the groundwork for me and my generation of relatives; I just find that so amazing. I know I am lucky that I can have a history with individuals who share the same bloodline as me. It is one of the reasons why I understood what the main character was going through in this animated fantasy film. GROWING UP IN AN ORPHANAGE AND seeing her friends being adopted, only made Earwig, voiced by relative newcomer Taylor Henderson, wish for a family of her own. There was a chance her wish could be fulfilled when an odd couple came calling on the orphanage one day. With JB Blanc (Breaking Bad-TV, Bleach-TV) voicing Mr. Jenkins, Thomas Bromhead (I Got a Rocket-TV, Forest of Piano-TV) voicing the cook, Richard E. Grant (Hudson Hawk, Gosford Park) voicing the Mandrake and Vanessa Marshall (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy-TV, Young Justice-TV) voicing Bella Yaga; this film festival winner was Studio Ghibli’s first foray into using CGI in their animation. In some instances, it worked but other times I was underwhelmed by the animation. I could say the same thing for the script. For an animated film, I found this one to be dull and uninspired. The way the story ended was awful and there was nothing fun or enchanting about the story. I do not know if even small children would care for this picture. If I were Earwig, I think I would have spent more time wishing for a way to get out of this movie.
1 ¾ stars
CONSIDERING I FIRST SAW HER WHILE sitting inside a shopping cart, it is rather amazing the memory of her is as strong today as it was decades ago. It was the only grocery store I knew as a little boy; she worked behind one of the cash registers and her name was Henrietta. With wire-rimmed eyeglasses and her shiny, light brown hair pulled tightly back into a large bun that was stuffed into a black hairnet; I always perked up when she was the checker for our checkout line. She knew my name which even for my young age, made me feel important and special. Not all the time, but often enough she would give me a lollipop or a small candy bar. Always with a smile on her face, to me she was the kindest and sweetest person I knew. When I got old enough to go to the grocery store myself, I always chose the check out aisle she was working. Though I had outgrown the desire to eat every bit of candy given or bought for me, Henrietta would give me some kind of small trinket or object. One time I received a pencil sharpener that was shaped like a rocket ship; another time I received a bottle of bubbles. She was such a strong fixture at the neighborhood grocery store; I could not think of the store without thinking about her. NEXT TO THE GROCERY STORE WAS a laundromat and next to it was a hot dog place. Once my friends and I were old enough, we would go to the hot dog restaurant for lunch instead of the school cafeteria. The restaurant was a fast-food joint that served hot dogs and hamburgers in these red plastic baskets that were lined with a red and white checkerboard sheet of waxy paper. The cook knew we students had to be back to school on time, so he made sure to get our orders out to us quickly. Sometimes after school, I would stop at the restaurant to get a soft drink before walking a couple of blocks to the local drugstore. The store had the look of an old-fashioned apothecary with its wooded shelves going high up the sides of the walls. Light fixtures hung down by black piping and the ceiling was made of stamped tin. The pharmacists knew me and would let me take family members’ prescriptions home without a signature. Each store in my neighborhood was a familiar and welcome place; many of the store owners knew me. Nearly all the residents in the neighborhood knew each other. The apartment I grew up in never seemed small to me because my home was my entire neighborhood, just as it was for the residents in this musical drama. ONE WAS NEVER ALONE WHEN THEY lived in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, both in good times and bad. With Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, Honest Thief) as Usnavi, Melissa Barrera (Vida-TV, Dos Veces Tu) as Vanessa, newcomer Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, Kong: Skull Island) as Benny and Jimmy Smits (Star War franchise, NYPD Blue-TV) as Kevin Rosario; this film based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s (Hamilton, Mary Poppins Returns) Broadway musical brimmed over with singing and dancing. The music was infectious, accompanied by electrifying choreographed dancing. I thought the directing was crisp, providing a few opportunities to create powerful scenes. There were a few scenes that did not resonate with me; either they were offshoots to what I thought was the main story line or the scenario presented was predictable to me. If one is not a fan of musicals, I do not feel they will enjoy watching this movie as much as those familiar with Lin-Manuel’s style of song writing. The sense of belonging within a community, done in a vibrant and bold style, was a nice change of pace from the typical pictures that have come out this year. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
3 ¼ stars
I WAS MEETING THEIR BEST FRIEND for the first time after hearing so much about her. They had known each other since high school and by the time they finished college, they decided to move in together. With that much history between them, I knew I was going to be judged since I was the new person entering their inner circle. For my first impressions, I found her sweet with a good sense of humor. Friends for a long time tend to have a shorthand to their conversations and these two were no exception. It was not like inside jokes; instead, I think it was the fact they had so many shared memories. As for myself, I think I gave her a good impression. We both had a love for animals; she had 2 cats, showing me several photos of them. Music was another common denominator; however, her knowledge of music trivia was off the charts. I paled in comparison. In fact, I discovered the two of them frequently went to several local food/drinking establishments to participate in their music trivia nights. The two of them evidently had a reputation in the area for being music geniuses. From our first meeting, I knew I would be seeing her quite often. It was not until we soon went out to dinner where I saw something that made me uncomfortable. WE DECIDED TO GO OUT FOR Chinese food; they wanted to take me to one of their favorite restaurants. Throughout the course of the meal, I realized she had passive aggressive tendencies. She told us a story or to be more precise, she directed her comments to her friend, about one of her cat’s health issues. The doctor had given her a couple of options for treatment; one would cost less but take more time, the other would be more money with a quicker recovery time. She expressed concerns about how her current financial situation would barely cover the cheaper treatment. With her upcoming trip, she was afraid to leave her cat if he was not fully recovered. I sat there and listened to the things she said, I did not have any solutions. However, my friend offered to lend her the money needed for the quicker treatment. It dawned on me she was being manipulative. The more I was around her, the more I saw passive aggressive ways. She could not just come out and ask for a favor; she resorted to manipulating everyone. My opinion of her dropped significantly. As time went on, I tried to enlighten my friend, but they were not quite believing me. It is frustrating to know something is true, but a person is not convinced of it. That frustration is like the one the detective was experiencing in this dramatic, crime thriller. WHAT LOOKED LIKE A STRING OF prominent killings turned out to be a set of clues to a horrific crime taking place. With Erica Wessels (Primeval, The Harvesters) as Jodie Snyman, Hlubi Mboya (Dora’s Peace, Hector and the Search for Happiness) as Ntombizonke Bapai, newcomer Leshego Molokwane as young Ntombi, Deon Lotz (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Beauty) as FJ Nolte and Mothusi Magano (Hotel Rwanda, The Lab-TV) as Captain George Mululeki; the story in this mystery was inspired by true events. The reality that such a thing still is taking place in the world, gave this movie added importance. I thought the acting was good, but the script was average. Though there were intense moments, I felt the story could have gone deeper into the characters. The jumping between time periods took away from the film’s flow; but at least they provided important, relevant information. Despite the flaws in this movie, the story was gripping enough to fully keep my attention.
2 ½ stars
THE ELEVATOR DOORS OPENED AND I immediately knew who was walking in. I was a big fan of hers, having seen her for many years on various television programs and specials. Now, I was seeing her in person. It was funny; if one did not know who she was they would have thought she was just a regular guest at the hotel. She was dressed in dark colored slacks, blouse and a cardigan sweater. Around her neck she wore several thin gold chains and her pierced ears had diamond stud earrings. Standing in the elevator with her and the two men who had accompanied her, I did not know whether I should say hello or not. I didn’t want to come off as a typical fan who asked for a photo or autograph, even though that is exactly what I wanted to do. Instead, I stood there listening to their conversation. With the elevator not stopping on any other floor, I only had less than a minute to hear what they were talking about. Surprisingly, their conversation was an easy exchange about what each were going to do for the upcoming holidays. It sounded like the 2 men were part of her staff; yet, what impressed me the most was the fact the comedienne did not put on any “airs.” She sounded genuinely interested in what each of the men were saying. When the elevator came to a stop, she turned to nod at me before exiting the elevator. I became an even bigger fan of hers right there. WHEN IT COMES TO CELEBRITIES, I can appreciate what they do; however, I understand just because they are gifted in one area does not mean they are an expert in another. I may think some actor does incredible work; but if they choose to stand on a soapbox and spew ignorant things, then there is no reason I should spend my time and money on them. There are a couple of long-time actors that I stopped seeing their movies years ago because of their personal beliefs. One is highly prejudiced, and the other has uttered nonsense during his interviews. This would explain why you never see me reviewing any of their films on this site. I am offended when a celebrity gets on stage to except an award, then lets their true nature come out, babbling about some cause they believe, in hopes of convincing their captive audience. Just because they have money does not give them the right to tell people how to act, in my opinion. For these reasons, I found an even higher level of admiration for the musical artist in this wonderful documentary. THE VIEWER IS GIVEN AN INSIDE view on the delicate balancing act between business, family and performing as the musical celebrity Pink begins her world tour that will lead her up to performing at London’s Wembley Stadium for the first time. Directed by Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman, Naruto), I enjoyed how the cameras followed Pink (Alecia Moore) and her family from the stage to their off-stage lives. From what I saw, I believe Pink is no different between the two environments. Her work ethic is beyond impressive. I have only seen her perform on TV shows, never in concert and I have to say, she is 100% dedicated to putting on a great show. Now granted, the writers never delved deep into her life and I get that because she would want to be cast in a favorable light; otherwise, why would she agree to such a project. If one is not a fan of Pink’s work, then I am not sure they would care to sit through this picture. I enjoy her music and after seeing the work involved and her concert performances in this film, I would love to see her one day live in concert.
EVERY TIME I WALKED INTO THEIR house; I was always hit with a mix of different smells. One time it could be cedar, vanilla and dust; well at least I thought it smelled like dust. Another time I would smell a combination of wet grass, sawdust and sandalwood. I always wanted to know where these scents were coming from, but it was impossible to narrow it down to a specific spot in their house. You see, there was so much stuff packed into their house, it was hard to decipher which one item or more were emitting the aroma. Not that their house was messy, it was not. Everything had a place; it was just their house had more places than any other house I had visited. I liked visiting this couple because there was always something new to find whenever I would be allowed to play in one of their children’s rooms, when I was a small boy. One time, when I was playing in their basement, I found a stack of old newspapers that were brittle and yellow. Looking at the dates, I realized they had been keeping these papers for over 30 years. I asked them why and they said that it was proof of the historical events that happened in our lifetime. It did not make too much sense to me, since the newspapers were disintegrating from age. AS THE COUPLE GOT OLDER, MORE types of different smells floated through the house. For some reason the inside of the house did not look as bright as it did when I was younger. Maybe the paint had dulled over the years or the lights and lamps were dimmed with age. Or maybe, the house was darker because there was more stuff in it; I really wasn’t sure. Not that it stopped me from visiting the two; I still enjoyed my visits with them. Though I have to say their cooking skills diminished greatly. Whenever we were having a meal with them, there was always some food dish that was either not cooked long enough or burnt. I remember one time there was a plate of my favorite, chocolate chip cookies. The bottoms were nearly black from overcooking and when I tried to bite into one, my teeth could barely break the cookie apart. All I could taste was the overcooked parts; they were so bitter and strong that I could not taste any chocolate. Now despite these, let us say, inconveniences; I still enjoyed spending time with them and listening to their stories. They had such interesting things to talk about and I was always a willing participant to hear what they had to say. I felt the same way about the married couple in this horror, mystery thriller. FOR THE MANY YEARS LORRAINE AND Ed Warren, played by Vera Farming (The Departed, Bates Motel-TV) and Patrick Wilson (Young Adult, The Phantom of the Opera) had experienced demonic forces, the possession of a young man would unleash a force they had never seen before. With Ruairi O’Connor (Teen Spirit, Handsome Devil) as Arne Cheyenne Johnson, Sarah Catherine Hook (Monsterland-TV, The Valley-TV) as Debbie Glatzel and John Noble (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Running Scared) as Kastner; this latest installment of the franchise started out with an interesting story line. I thought Vera and Patrick really sold this film because the script was too blurred in its message. At times I found myself being confused with what timeline I was watching, and the scary thrills were just not there for me. Then suddenly a scene would start that grabbed my attention because it was frightfully intense. If Patrick and Vera were not in this movie, it would have received a lower rating; it already had a tired feeling to it. Hopefully the next installment will go back to its roots where it made a name for itself.
WHEN I SAW THE FIRE BREAK out in the skyscraper, it changed me. Anytime afterwards when I entered a high-rise building, the first thing I looked for were the exits and fire extinguishers. I know this might sound extreme; but the idea of being stuck on one of the upper floors of a tall building with a fire raging below was something I hoped I would never have to experience in my lifetime. I saw how people were racing up the stairs to get away from the fire, aware that the smoke was getting thicker which caused them to cough more. Maybe my avoidance of touching doorknobs and handrails started when I saw one of the citizens burn their hand on a heated metal doorknob. With fire raging through the floors, going up air shafts, smoke billowing out of shattered windows, wires short circuiting and electricity sparking; there was so much going on that I did not know where to look first on the big screen. With the addition of a multitude of film celebrities, this was the best disaster movie I had ever seen to date. Because of Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Jennifer Jones along with many others in the film, The Towering Inferno was a film that remained with me for years. AROUND THE SAME TIME WHEN THE Towering Inferno debuted, a slew of disaster films came out for several years. There was The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake and Airport among others. I try not to be that person who compares one tragedy to another; but, during this period of time where movie special effects were improving and studios were churning out these films, I can see where this type of film can transport the viewer away from their worries. There is something about seeing a big production story come to life on the big screen, especially when it is filled with thrills and harrowing predicaments. I remember seeing some of these movies at a theater, where I would be pulled into the story to the point where I found myself worrying about the character’s plight. It was around two hours of pure entertainment that had a similar effect on me like a roller coaster ride. There would be periods of time where I was holding my breath out of tense nervousness, like when I saw Shelley Winters swimming underwater in The Poseidon Adventure. Or, seeing one of the celebrities don a fireproof suit to walk through fire. What keeps me and I assume many other viewers watching these types of pictures is the sense of hope we have that things will turn out alright in the end. In a way it gives one strength to deal with their own challenges. These feelings I got from those old disaster films returned when I watched this dramatic action film. DESPITE THE MARITAL DIFFICULTIES THEY WERE experiencing, John and Allison Garrity, played by Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves, The Vanishing) and Morena Ballerina (Deadpool franchise, Ode to Joy), needed to work together to protect themselves and their son when a catastrophic meteor shower was due to hit Earth. With Roger Dale Floyd (Doctor Sleep, Kronos) as Nathan Garrity, Scott Glenn (Backdraft, Sucker Punch) as Dale and Scott Poythress (Synchronicity, I Trained the Devil) as Kenny; this thrilling movie was a throwback to those old disaster films I described earlier. The difference however was the personal storyline the writers followed in the middle of all the action. I enjoyed watching this picture and thought Gerard was right back into his pseudo action hero role. There was some predictability with the script; but, with the well-orchestrated action sequences, I did not mind it. And with the way the director beautifully kept things moving along in the story, I was getting an almost visceral reaction from watching the scenes. Whether one is familiar with the old action films or not, this one is well suited to give one a thrill ride.
2 ¾ stars