Category Archives: Fantasy/Sci-Fi
THERE WAS A TEACHER AT MY SCHOOL who had a wooden arm. Every student knew it even if they did not have her as their teacher. She wore long sleeves year-round and she kept the hand portion of her fake arm covered with a glove. There was a rumor I had heard about a student in one of her classes. Upon being told to close the classroom window they had opened without permission; the student asked the teacher why, was she afraid of woodpeckers flying into the room? The student was expelled from school for 2 weeks. I am guessing most of you are shocked after reading about this teacher’s arm. It surprised me as well, since I live in a city that has a renowned rehabilitation center. Through the years the local news has reported on this institution’s latest cutting-edge, technological achievements. Patients from all over the world have come here to receive help and guidance from this rehabilitation center. I did not know the teacher’s circumstances on why she either chose or was given a wooden arm instead of some type of bendable prosthetic. Back in school there was a part of me that had always hoped I would get her for a teacher; so, I could see for myself how she navigated through the daily class routines. What can I say; I was curious. SINCE I MENTIONED THE REHABILITATION CENTER, there was one success story that never made it to the news. I was fortunate to watch one patient’s progress on one of my social media sites. I must tell you; it was an incredible journey to watch because this patient came to the center after an accident caused their inability to walk. Periodically, they would post a photo/video of themselves relearning how to walk with mechanical assistance. I never knew what type of injury they had; however, I remember their earliest videos would show them buckled into a nearly full body suit that was suspended from the ceiling and had electrodes attached all over it. There was one video where the patient was wearing the suit and had 2 people on either side moving their limbs to simulate a walking motion. Weeks and weeks went by before the patient was able to move one leg an inch with no assistance; the smile on their face was immense. At some point the suspended suit was replaced with one that was remotely controlled. The patient had to hold onto two parallel bars, as their legs would slowly shuffle one at a time forward. What a feat to witness; I originally thought I would be seeing a similar feat in this science fiction, action drama. NEW TECHNOLOGY WAS ABLE TO BRING Ray Garrison, played by Vin Diesel (The Last Witch Hunter, The Fast and Furious franchise), back from his untimely death. However, his memories were a different story. With Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw) as Katie/KT, Sam Heughan (Outlander-TV, The Spy Who Dumped Me) as Jimmy Dalton, Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four, The Hurricane Heist) as Martin Axe and Guy Pearce (Spinning Man, The Rover) as Dr. Emil Harting; this film based on a popular comic book was a typical Vin Diesel picture. It also included a typical Vin performance; even when the action was done in slow motion. The idea behind the story intrigued me; in fact, I enjoyed the enhancements made to Vin’s character. Yet, the writers did nothing new with the story line. There were big fight scenes and special effects; but they were all wrapped into a blah script that did not provide me with anything new. All I can say is this film was not horrible; it was just bland and mindless. You would think with all the technological advances that have been achieved in the world, the movie studio could have presented a better film.
1 ¾ stars
MY LOVE OF STORIES BEGAN AT AN early age because of the stories that were told around family meals. I heard about so many different relatives’ lives that I would wish they were sitting at the dining room table to tell their story directly to us. I had a relative who was a violin virtuoso. He was self-taught and only played for family and friends, is what I heard. The only memory I have associated to this person was seeing an old black and white photograph of him, dressed in a suit and holding his violin at his side. He died before I was born, so I never got to hear him play. Another story I heard around the dining room table was about a relative who had saved several other relatives by sneaking them out of their country during a war. With the details of each relative’s escape not known, I would make-up my own stories about their perilous travels and act them out whenever I was playing with my toy soldiers. I would cover the living room of our home with piles of towels to represent the mountains and rulers as bridges which my relatives/soldiers would have to traverse on their way to freedom. THERE WERE OTHER STORIES TOLD AT the dining room table; I remember being surprised by how many people were related to me. I used to wonder how much truth were in the stories that were being told; but, without having much physical proof, I had to rely on the storyteller to be accurate with the details. I cannot say it bothered me, but I was envious of the friends of mine who had physical remnants of their deceased relatives. One friend had a sword that was mounted on a plaque that hung in the hallway of their home; I think it belonged to a great, great, great uncle. Another friend of mine had their grandfather’s gold pocket watch. It was the first time I had ever seen a pocket watch and I was fascinated with the face cover that sprung open at the press of a button. At the time I did not realize the stories I was listening to would help me in my history classes in school. When the teacher was covering a world conflict or was focusing on a specific country, I would get a mental picture of my relative. Sometimes a city would be mentioned, and I could imagine my relative being there while doing something. I did not realize this ability would help me remember city names on our tests. How I wished I could talk to these deceased relatives; if only I had the opportunity the brothers had in this animated, adventure comedy. UPON RECEIVING THEIR DECEASED FATHER’S MAGICAL staff; brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, voiced by Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, The Impossible) and Chris Pratt (The Kid, Passengers), set out on an adventure to try and bring back the magic of their Dad. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Downhill, Enough Said) voicing Laurel Lightfoot, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water) voicing the Manticore and Mel Rodriguez (Little Miss Sunshine, Panic Room) voicing Colt Bronco; this Pixar movie had the usual high standard of animation we are used to from this studio. Though the cast of actors brought life to these fantasy characters, the script did not have any magic for me. Out of the many films I have seen from this studio, this one was the most obvious with following the studio’s story formula. I did not find anything funny to chuckle at and I must say the father character was odd to me. The script was simple and predictable. If I had my choice, I would rather have been reminiscing about my deceased relatives’ stories than sitting in the theater to watch what these two brothers went through to connect to their past.
I ONLY HAD TO GO THERE ONCE and vowed I would never go back. Before I share my experience, I want you to know this is just my reaction to the place; I know there will be others who think this place is a wonderful establishment and I would agree with them. It serves a purpose and obviously a need. For me, it was too weird and geared for the consumer to spend lots of money; or else, be considered less of a parent for not buying their child the things they were asking for. I had agreed to meet up with a few relatives for some shopping therapy and lunch. We wandered into this store that was filled with shoppers and their children. The store specialized in realistic toy dolls, though I do not know if the management would consider their dolls as toys. The aisles of accessories were astounding; anything you could imagine was ready for sale there, from head scarves to sunglasses to designer purses. What was more incredible to me was the in-house beauty salon and hospital for their dolls. If a child’s doll got broken, they could bring the doll into the store to get admitted into the hospital. Or, if a child wanted their doll to have a new hair style, they could make an appointment at the beauty salon to bring the doll in for a new hairdo. I checked the pricing for these things, and they were not cheap. THOUGH I DID NOT SEE IT FOR myself, I understood there was a restaurant somewhere inside the store where a child and their doll could share a meal together. Being somewhat of a cynic, I had to wonder if the doll’s meal would cost the same price as the child’s food. This was all so strange to me; to have children and their families spend such money on what essentially was a toy, baffled me. When I mentioned the in-house hospital earlier, I forgot to mention I saw a few dolls with bandages and casts on their limbs. What was going on in this place? Would the child have to buy crutches for their broken doll I wondered. The whole setup for this retail store was foreign to me. These dolls, though they were made to closely resemble actual human beings, were still a toy; a toy that could wind up discarded on a shelf after the child grew up and stopped playing with dolls. On the bright side, it was a good thing the dolls sold in this store were not like the doll in this horror, mystery thriller. AFTER A TRAUMATIC EVENT A FAMILY moves out of the city to an uninhabited country estate. They should have investigated who lived there before. With Katie Holmes (Batman Begins, Dawson’s Creek-TV) as Liza, Owain Yeoman (American Sniper, The Belko Experiment) as Sean, Christopher Convery (The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Gotham-TV) as Jude, Ralph Ineson (The Witch, Harry Potter franchise) as Joseph and Anjali Jay (The Age of Adaline, Power Rangers) as Dr. Lawrence; if no one had told me this was a sequel I would have never known. I have no memory of the original movie The Boy. And let me tell you, if the original was anything like this sequel I do not know if I would have gone in to see it. The directing was plain tired, and the script was awful. With the setting and details of the story, if the writers would have used their imaginations and pushed the limits of the story, they could have gotten an exciting and scary script here. Instead, this movie was a generic attempt at being a horror thriller. Clocking in less than an hour and half, it still felt as if I had been sitting for a long time due to the boredom I was experiencing. Sadly, I would have rather been back at the retail store that sold dolls instead of sitting through this blank stare of a film.
1 ½ stars
THE MUSIC WAS PLAYING ON THE radio as we sang along to it. We had met for lunch so we could catch up with each other’s life; it had been a few months since we last got together. Driving on the way back to her apartment, my friend wanted to show me the house she was thinking of buying. I was fine with checking out the place, so my friend decided to take surface streets to the house to show me what type of neighborhood she would be living in. On one picturesque street, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the houses were being maintained. My friend slowed and came to a stop near the end of the block; I thought we had arrived at the house she was interested in. Suddenly, she started backing up; I asked her what she was doing. Before she could answer me, she came to a stop and rolled down her window to talk to a man who was standing in front of a car that had its hood up. Before I knew it, she popped her hood and the man was attaching jumper cables to her battery. I sat there in disbelief; I did not even see this guy as we were driving down the street. Within a couple of minutes, the man’s car was running, and we continued on our way. IT WAS SOME TIME LATER AFTER I had left my friend and was home, that I replayed that whole helpful scene in my head. I was struck with the fact that my friend was willing to help a stranger with no hesitation. When I had asked her why she stopped, she said she figured something was wrong by the way the man was looking at his car’s engine. Was I so fearful and mistrustful that I would have continued driving by without stopping I wondered? The next question I had was why was I mistrustful and fearful? In my past, I had been taken advantage of by strangers. Things like being asked for spare change or sign up for a promotion that later turned out to be fake; after several bogus incidents, I stopped offering any help. I guess you could say I became hardened towards those asking for help. Yet, I have always been willing to help friends and family. But as I am writing this, I am recalling times where I did help strangers; the shopper who could not reach the top shelf or the train passenger who was lost would be my examples. Seeing the help the main character offered in this action, adventure film has made me reassess my feelings about helping a stranger. DESPITE HAVING NEVER SEEN SUCH A being did not stop Tom Wachowski, played by James Marsden (Hairspray, Enchanted), from agreeing to help the being called Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz (This is Where I Leave You, Parks and Recreation-TV) get to San Francisco. Their trip was the last thing Dr. Ivo Robitnik, played by Jim Carrey (The Truman Show, Mr. Popper’s Penguins), wanted to see succeed. With Tika Sumpter (Ride Along franchise, The Old Man & the Gun) as Maddie Wachowski and Natasha Rothwell (A Year and Change, Insecure-TV) as Rachel; this family fantasy based on the video game was a fun movie watching experience. The message was sweet about friendship and friends in need; the humor was cute and pleasant. There was nothing extreme or harsh in any of the scenes. And the big surprise was seeing Jim excelling at the physical comedy; I felt I was watching a much younger Jim Carrey because he was so into his role. This picture was easy to watch and if nothing else I appreciated the way it made me look at my feelings about helping strangers. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits.
2 ½ stars
WHENEVER ANY OF US WOULD SPOT the old woman, we would purposely cross the street to avoid getting close to her. I do not know what led us to do this; I only knew she meant to do us harm. The stories I had heard about her on the school’s playground dealt with her kidnapping elementary school kids, selling kids for money, performing experiments on us and other such horrific actions. Whether it was true or not I cannot tell you; however, all the school kids I knew were afraid of her. She lived in the neighborhood but none of us knew where. We always saw her walking down the street with her shopping cart trailing behind her. One story going around said she used the cart to haul off children after she knocked them out with hypnosis or some type of poison. I do not judge people based on their looks; however, back when I was a little kid in grade school, certain facial features would have a negative impact on me. This woman had a large nose that sloped sharply at the end with a large dark brown mole nestled on the outside of her nostril. Her hair was a sea of grey and white waves; sometimes covered with a gauze like headscarf that made it look like fog. Some boys had the courage to get close enough to her to call her names. I kept my distance. WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE OLD neighborhood where I grew up, I can still remember those individuals that were singled out as “scary.” It is weird how these people wound up in such a position. I can only attribute it to us little kids reacting to the looks of the individual or the places they lived in. There was an eerie looking house in the neighborhood that was scary to my friends and me. Besides needing a new coat of paint and some repairs, it was considered a “bad” place because the couple who lived there had no children. I cannot tell you why that made us more afraid of the house; it just did back then. Every Halloween I would skip that house because I was scared something bad would happen to me. What stood out for me was the fence around the house. Though it was made of brick, the top of it had these metal, decorative spikes sticking out that I was sure was used to impale innocent children on who ventured past the gate. These memories of mine, how did they come to be? I think it started when I read the story of Hansel and Gretel when I was little. LOST AND HUNGRY IN THE WOODS, the sight of a house was a welcome relief for brother and sister Gretel and Hansel, played by Sophia Lillis (It franchise, Sharp Objects-TV mini-series) and newcomer Samuel Leakey. When they peered into a window, what they saw made them want to stay. With Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact, Silent Hill) as Holda, Jessica De Gouw (Dracula-TV, Underground-TV) as young Holda and Charles Babalola (The Legend of Tarzan, Black Mirror-TV) as the hunter; this fantasy, horror thriller was nothing more than a fantasy. The sets and filming of the story were intriguing to me; but the script was a waste of words. I could not believe how the story dragged to the point I was checking my watch several times. Every scene seemed slow as if they were supposed to build up suspense, but nothing ever materialized. There were a couple of scenes that were meant to be disgusting I believe; but outside of that, I thought most of the major decisions made to create this film were a poor choice. To tell you the truth, I was more scared retelling my childhood fears above instead of sitting through this poor excuse for a filmed fairy tale.
1 ½ stars
IF THAT KID KICKED THE BACK of my seat one more time, I was going to discipline him myself. Though I was playing out in my head what I would say to him, I knew better than to yell at him. You see, I was on a recent flight where this little boy was sitting behind me. All the seats were full; so, I knew there was no chance of me moving to a different seat. We were in the first hour of our 3 ½ hour flight when the boy started to kick the back of my seat. At first, I thought it was an accident; but it turned out not to be the case. After a half a dozen times I turned back to see if the child was flying with his parents. Sure enough, there they were sitting in their seats; oblivious to the boy’s kicking while they were intently peering at their electronic devices. I thought my making eye contact with the boy would have been enough to make him stop; but it was not the case. Maybe a few minutes had gone by before the boy started up with his kicking again. I turned around again; but this time, I rose out of my seat to look more imposing or serious, I guess. In a voice I knew that would carry back a couple of rows, I told the boy his kicking of my seat was annoying and to please stop. And with a final glare at the now startled parents, I sat back down to experience a more peaceful time for the rest of the flight. A MAJORITY OF THE TIMES I do not blame the child as much as I blame their parents. That boy’s parents on the flight should have addressed their son’s kicking before I had to do it. When I see a child inappropriately acting out, more times than not, I blame the parents for allowing such behavior. Sure, there are some kids who get disciplined but choose to act out nonetheless. However, there have been so many times where I have seen parents letting their children have the run of a place, it boggles my mind. How do they not see the people around are getting upset with their children’s antics? Just last week a mother was letting her two young kids push an empty shopping cart down the aisles, knocking items off the shelves and bumping into other shoppers. If I was the store manager, I would have had them removed. I felt the same way about the children in this dramatic, horror mystery movie. MAKING A CHANGE IN HER CAREER Kate Mandell, played by Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Blade Runner 2049), took a job as a governess to a brother and sister who lost their parents. Kate did not know about the previous governess who ran away. With Finn Wolfhard (It Franchise, Stranger Things-TV) as Miles Fairchild, Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project, Monsters at Large) as Flora Fairchild, Barbara Marten (The Bill-TV, The Mill-TV) as Mrs. Grose and Joely Richardson (Event Horizon, Red Sparrow) as Darla Mandell; the story for this film was based on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.” I knew there were previous films done based on this story which only made me more confused on why a movie studio decided to do it again and only produce a half-baked production. I thought each actor made a great visible statement; but there was nothing they could pull out to act upon from the poorly done script. There were no scenes that provided any moment of being scared or concerned. I was bored throughout most of this film, though I enjoyed the visual aspects both indoors and out. Essentially, nothing was working right in this picture. If I were you, I would just read the book and stay away from this imposter.
1 ½ stars
THE BUSHES IN FRONT OF THE apartment building offered me ideal cover. I was leading the group on a treasure hunt. Our course was going to take us through hostile territories; I was prepared for the known hazards, but not for the unknown ones. Sneaking out of the bushes, we made our way south by staying off the main thoroughfares. The path I took was uneven, filled with potholes and covered with a mix of unkempt grass and gravel. As we came up to a large building, I had everyone cling to the side of the road where at least there was sporadic cover in case we were walking into a trap. It was the right call because 3 trap doors in the building sprung open and a series of time bombs were being hurled at us. My monkey who was 2ndin command leaped to a nearby tree and scurried up into the branches for cover. From my vantage point I could see him navigating the branches as he made his way to the one branch that was leaning over to the structure. I saw him take a few sticks of dynamite and tape them together. He then lit them and tossed it onto the roof of the building. I only had to wait a few seconds before there was a big explosion that caused the roof to cave in and bury our enemies. WHAT YOU JUST READ WAS ONE of many escapades I had with my entourage of imaginary animals. Besides my trusted monkey, I had a tiger, hawk, panther, wolf and chipmunk as part of my group. All these characters came to the forefront of my imagination after I started reading the books about Doctor Doolittle. The stories about the good doctor were some of my favorite ones when I was growing up. I identified with him because I felt I too could talk to animals; though, I was a novice at understanding them. But that did not stop me from talking to my pet parakeet and the animals several of my relatives had as pets. My conversations were not just exclusive to live animals, it also incorporated the stuffed animals I had gotten through my infant years as gifts. Animals were so easy to talk to and they provided me with hours of comfort. Due to this history when I saw the trailer for this film, I immediately knew I had to see it. Seeing one of my favorite book characters come to life was going to be a big thrill for me. THOUGH DOCTOR DOOLITTLE, PLAYED BY ROBERT Downey Jr. (Avengers franchise, The Judge), had not ventured outside of his home for several years, when the Queen of England summoned him to the palace he could not refuse. His visit would be the start of an incredible adventure. With Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, Pain and Glory) as King Rassouli, Michael Sheen (The Twilight Sage franchise, The Queen) as Dr. Blair Mudfly, Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Gangs of New York) as Lord Thomas Badgley and Harry Collett (Dunkirk, Casualty-TV) as Tommy Stubbins; this adventure, family comedy belonged in a litter box. I know I may have been more invested in this film than others; however, nothing was right about this picture except the animals. I had a hard time understanding Robert’s character due to his quiet mumbling of the words with an odd accent. The script had nothing fun or exciting in it. I felt the writers just threw a bunch of animals into the script to add some slapstick to the dull story. Maybe young viewers will enjoy this movie; but for the young of heart, there would be better enjoyment found if one read the books instead. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
1 ½ stars
HE MAY HAVE THOUGHT WE WERE friends but that was not really the case. I felt I had to for my own self-preservation. We hung around the same group of people. If I remember correctly, he was a friend of a friend who started including him in our get togethers. He had a loud and boisterous personality that was quick with sarcasm; that was the part of him that was fun to be around. However, he also had a quick temper that was the first thing to flare up in any kind of confrontational circumstances. His “go-to” comment was “Do you want to take this outside?” This is the reason why I stayed on good terms with him; I did not want to get pulled into his negative drama. Whenever we would all go out to a club, the chances were better than 50% he would get into some type of altercation with one of the patrons of the place. I found it maddening and ridiculous because before you knew it, he would be asking the person to join him outside. Now granted he made an imposing figure; but still, there was no reason he needed the theatrics. The way I used to deal with him was simply to agree to his extreme pontifications on life and living, by nodding my head or grunting a sound that he could interpret as an affirmative answer. THOUGH IT HAS BEEN YEARS SINCE I have seen him, he is the first person I think of whenever I hear someone saying, “Do you want to take this outside?” Even if I hear it in a movie, he comes to mind. I was never the type of person who willingly confronted someone. Growing up people fell into two categories, aggressive or passive. I was in the passive group during my childhood years. It was not until I was in college before I found my voice. After what I went through during high school, I worked on myself to get to a point where no one would take advantage of me. It was not an easy process by any means; but I acquired the tools necessary to have an argument without including negative or demeaning comments. What I learned that was valuable to me was to remove the emotions from the equation and talk about my feelings instead. There are some people who think if they talk loudly enough, they will win the fight; as you know that does not work in the real world. As I was watching this animated, action adventure I identified more with one of the characters than the other; you probably could guess which one. AFTER INGESTING AN EXPERIMENTAL CONCOCTION WITHOUT it being tested, the only thing super spy Lance, voiced by Will Smith (I Am Legend, Men in Black franchise) had to rely on was his wits and new-found avian abilities to bring down an evil genius bent on destroying the agency. With Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, In the Heart of the Sea) voicing Walter, Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Robin Hood) voicing Killian, Reba McEntire (The Little Rascals, One Night at McCool’s) voicing Joyless and Rachel Brosnahan (The Finest Hours, Patriots Day) voicing Wendy; this film festival nominee had wonderful animation work. Including the cast of actors; overall, this was a pleasant, family friendly film to watch. There was nothing extreme about it; I felt it fell in the middle of other animated films. There was more of a focus on fun instead of a series of humorous jokes and pranks. The message however was what grabbed me the most. I connected more with the last half of the film, finding it to be a touching statement. If you choose to see this film, you would easily see why I felt a strong affinity to one of the characters.
2 ½ stars
IT STARTED, I BELIEVE, WITH HER friend not pledging money towards her charity walk. The walk was going to be 5 miles and the idea was for each participant to ask people to pledge a certain amount of money for every mile they walked. You may be familiar with this type of charity event; people would pledge anywhere from one penny to upwards of twenty+ dollars for every mile their friend or relative would walk. My friend who was participating did not say anything outright to me; however, ever since that charity event I could tell she had an attitude towards her friend. There would be subtle negative comments made about the person and my friend started spending less time with her. As months passed there were times where we would all wind up together at a party or event; there was now a layer of tension in the air. It was obvious to me my friend was holding a grudge against her friend for not contributing to her charity walk. I tried reasoning with her; suggesting the possibility her friend did not support that particular charity or simply did not have extra funds. My friend was not buying any of it; she felt because she had given her money for a charitable organization when she was asked to, her friend should have reciprocated and done the same. There was no way convincing her otherwise. MY FRIEND WAS AN EXPERT WHEN IT came to holding a grudge. I thought I was good at it, but she was my equal, if not better. When I was younger if I felt someone slighted me in any way, I would immediately have nothing to do with them. I never looked at the possibilities or reasons why that person acted in such a way; I immediately took it personally and cut myself off from them. However, I never let that stop me from not going to an event they were attending. In fact, I used to relish the chance to show the person I was angry at them, by ignoring them at the event or keeping my part of the conversation to one-word answers. Yeah, it was childish of me; I now realize it. But at the time, I was angry at them. As I am getting older the ease of holding a grudge became harder for me to do. Whether it was because it took more effort or I just started losing interest in it, I do not know for sure. All I do know regarding this horror mystery is I might hold a grudge against the movie studio for wasting my time. AFTER VISITING A HOUSE THAT WAS the scene to a gruesome murder; Detective Muldoon, played by Andrea Riseborough (Mandy, The Kindness of Strangers), started having horrific visions. With Demian Bichir (A Better Life, The Nun) as Goodman, Tara Westwood (The Big Take, Detours) as Fiona Landers, Joel Marsh Garland (The Bounty Hunter, Lady in the Water) as Detective Greco and John Cho (Searching, Star Trek franchise) as Peter Spencer; the script for this picture was dreadful. What made this viewing experience even more upsetting was the fact I appreciated the cinematography and the use of music. There was potential for this remake to deliver something fresh; but instead, there was nothing shown that would make anyone gasp or shudder. I was surprised at how bad this movie came across; there was no reaction coming from any of the viewers who were in the theater with me. The leads had the ability to provide us with decent scares, but the script never provided them with the needed ammo. Time would have been better spent if I instead rented the original Japanese version or the American remake.
1 ½ stars
WE BECAME INSTANT FRIENDS BACK IN elementary school. I do not recall a day going by where we did not see each other during the school day. At some point we fell into a routine of either getting together after school or talking on the phone before dinnertime. I remember when a fast food restaurant was built in our neighborhood; the two of us felt like such adults when we met there to try it out on our own. Granted, the money came from my allowance; but it was my first time going to a restaurant without my family, only my best friend. I still remember ordering the chocolate shake for dessert and savoring every single drop of it. My best friend had the vanilla one so we could taste each other’s and decide which one we liked the best. There were so many firsts in my life that he was a part of through the years. We both were cast in a school play, we sat together on the school bus for our first field trip and we both experienced taking public transportation for the first time to an amusement park; these are just a few of the many things we did together. It was not until college when we first experienced doing things on our own; it was a hard transition for me. AFTER BEING TOGETHER FOR SO LONG, I found myself experiencing a sense of loss. We still communicated with each other but as college courses began demanding more of our attention, we sometimes let a day or two go by without talking to one another. As our college years advanced our interests diverged into separate areas; new friendships and activities filled the void. Whenever I came home from school, we would find time to get together. It was like time had not passed by because we would immediately pick up where we left off, as if we had just seen each other the day before. However, during these get togethers I was aware I was talking about people he had never met; it seemed weird for some reason. After spending so many years together, I knew we were headed to different places in our lives. We shared so many good and bad times together, I to this day think about him from time to time and wonder what type of life he is living. Similarly, having been part of my life so long, I wondered what it will be like for me not to see these Star Wars’ characters once I finish watching this last installment of the movie franchise. A THREATENING MESSAGE HAS THE RESISTANCE scrambling to confront an enemy they thought was no longer a part of the First Order. With Adam Driver (Logan Lucky, BlacKkKlansman) as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley (Murder on the Orient Express, Scrawl) as Rey, John Boyega (The Circle, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Finn, Oscar Isaac (Life Itself, A Most Violent Year) as Poe Dameron and Richard E. Grant (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as General Payde; the story in this film had its work cut out for it. Because the writers had 42 years of Star Wars history at their disposal, they were placed at a disadvantage from the start I believe. Let me first start with the positive things about this picture. The special effects were their usual eyepopping brilliance; the creativity was good, and the acting skills of Adam and Daisy drove this movie to its conclusion. Unfortunately, this film was good not great. I thought some scenes and characters were thrown in just to market new toys. There were a few scenes that felt like the writers were rehashing the past to make a connection with older viewers and one especially reminded me of a different film entirely. The thing is, I can understand not taking a risk with the last film; however, I felt things were a bit stale. On the other hand, there is such an emotional attachment to these characters that for any fan it would be hard not to care about them. I know I will miss the Star Wars universe; but I still will be able to look back fondly at the memories it gave me.
3 stars – Star Wars fans 2 2/3 – non-fans