Category Archives: Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Flash Movie Review: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

SHE WAS PROUD OF HER GRANDCHILDREN; I heard her talk about them enough times to know. They were respectful and polite which made me like them right from the start. According to their grandmother, the boy was a star player on his school’s football team and his sister was the school’s photographer. When I met and spoke with the 2 siblings, I learned the grandmother’s description of their school activities was exaggerated a bit. The girl enjoyed photography and had submitted one of her photos to the school’s newspaper; it was one of several to be chosen to accompany an article about the plant life around the school building. The boy was on the football team as the grandmother had mentioned; however, he was one of the 2nd string players on the team. Most of his time was spent sitting on the bench. So, the grandmother expanded the truth, I get it. She was not the first grandmother I met who used hyperboles when it came to her grandchildren. It did appear to me; however, she spoke a lot about these kids. It is one thing to mention one’s children or grandchildren if it comes up in a conversation; but, without solicitation or prodding one talks excessively about them then I start to wonder what could be fueling it.      YOU THINK YOU KNOW A PERSON, but then something happens that forces you to re-evaluate everything you thought regarding this individual. This is what happened to me and explained why the grandmother talked a lot about her 2 grandchildren. Her and I were part of a small group of people who had met for lunch one day. During the meal many topics were discussed. However, it was during the subject of racial tensions when the grandmother said something that led me to believe the reason behind her excessive talking about her grandchildren. She had said a derogatory remark about another race. I was shocked because up until that time I never considered her to be a prejudicial person. As I sat there processing this new information the conversation drifted off to something else. No one questioned her about her comment, but I had to because what she said did not make any sense to me. I asked her how she could make a derogatory remark about a person’s skin color when her grandchildren had the same color of skin. She said it was not the same. Her grandchildren were born from a mixed-race couple; evidently, she was not comfortable about it which explained the constant talk about her grandkids. All of this because someone looks different? She has something in common with one of the characters in this adventure fantasy.      AGREEING TO MARRY PRINCE PHILIP, PLAYED BY Harry Dickinson (Beach Rats, The Darkest Minds), would be the easiest part compared to having each of their families sitting down together for a dinner. Aurora, played by Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon, Super 8), would have to convince her Godmother Maleficent (Changeling, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), to meet the humans she so distrusted, for good reason. With Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray, What Lies Beneath) as Queen Ingrith and Sam Riley (On the Road, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Diaval; this family film was beyond colorful. The opening scenes may take one’s breath away because they were so filled with colors and creativity. Along with my amazement of the visual aspects to this picture, I thought the cast was wonderful. Angelina, Michelle and Elle were so good together that I could see them doing another film together. My only complaint had to do with the story and script; it was uneven and convoluted at times, besides sharing similarities to another story made famous as a Broadway musical. Despite this, I found the movie entertaining. It had great special effects, was visually stunning and had a killer performance by Angelina, Michelle and Elle.

 

3 stars                         

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Flash Movie Review: Gemini Man

IF I ONLY KNEW BACK THEN what I know now, I could have avoided so many troubling things. Oscar Wilde had a famous quote, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” This is so true. I am reminded of a friend who would repeat the same pattern when it came to the men she dated. Each relationship ended the same way with the man breaking it off and her heart getting broken. Whatever my 2 cents of advice is worth, she never allowed her relationships to develop; she went from having a few initial dates to acting like they were in a full-blown relationship, as if they were a long time couple. It was odd and uncomfortable to see her place herself repeatedly in these situations; yet, she would do the same thing over and over with each person she started dating. Of course, it is easier for me to give advice to other people than it is for me to take my own advice. I was in several relationships that, I see now, were not healthy. If I had my current level of confidence and knowledge back then, I could have saved myself a whole lot of pain. Yet, I always want to believe we gain something from each person we encounter.     I DO NOT KNOW IF I am wiser, but I certainly am aware how differently I react to certain situations these days. In the past, my younger self would always view any type of criticism as a threat, where I would immediately go on the attack. Most of my verbal confrontations with individuals was me yelling “You” statements at them. These are sentences that start with the word “You” followed by a descriptive adjective or action, like “You never said” or “You didn’t care.” My older self can see the difference between saying “you never said” and “I did not hear you” or “You didn’t care” and “I felt you were not interested.” It changes the whole flavor of the situation when one starts out saying I instead of You. When I look back at my younger years, I can honestly say I have few regrets. However, what I can tell you is my life would have been less stressful if my younger self had my current self-awareness. From time to time in fact, I will recall an experience from my past and replay it in my mind to see how things could have been different, if I acted more like my adult self. For me doing this is more of a mental exercise; for the main character in this dramatic, action science fiction film his past was more physical.      REACHING A POINT IN HIS LIFE where he could finally retire; elite assassin Henry Brogan, played by Will Smith (Aladdin, Suicide Squad), did not understand why he suddenly became the target of an assassin who was able to anticipate his every move. With Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) as Danny Zakarweski, Clive Owen (Closer, Inside Man) as Clay Verris, Benedict Wong (The Martian, Doctor Strange) as Baron and Douglas Hodge (Red Sparrow, The Report) as Jack Willis; I was anticipating this film to be an exciting and visual piece of work because of the director, Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain). Visually there was a lot to look at; however, the action went to fast for me. I found Will was doing the same type of acting he has done before; so, I was not connecting at all with his character. The real shame here was the script; it was not only generic but gave the viewers clues to what was going to happen further in the story. Overall, there was nothing exciting or fresh about this picture. I hate to say it, but I believe this movie is an example of Oscar Wilde’s quote.

 

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Abominable

JUST BECAUSE IT IS THE PAST does not mean it ever goes away. Recently, I attended back to back family events. The first one was held at a relative’s house with a variety of family members in attendance. During the evening a photo album (does anyone remember one of these?) was brought out for relatives to peruse at their leisure. The cover of the book was made of a deep reddish colored leather or fake leather. I knew it had to be old because the clear vinyl pages that were supposed to cover and hold the photos in place had lost their adhesiveness. Some of the edges of the vinyl were yellowed from age. Making sure the table spot in front of me was clean, I carefully placed the book down to look through it. Thankfully my relative had labelled the photographs because there were many people in the photos I did not know, even though they had a familiar look to them. There were some photos that had been shot in that particular relative’s country of origin; they were printed on thick cardboard with foreign printing on the back. I have to say they looked classy, elegant and ancient. I was seeing for the first-time relatives who were from generations past. The other startling thing I experienced was the realization, while looking at these deceased relatives, many of my current relatives looked like them.     THE SECOND FAMILY EVENT I ATTENDED was held at a restaurant. All of us were to meet there for dinner. When I walked in, I saw some of my relatives off to the side. Approaching them, one relative saw me and announced me to the group around her. Out of the faces I could see, there was one there I knew but had not seen in a long time. She was a distant relative from a branch of the family that, for whatever reason, we had not had much interaction with while we were growing up. Walking up and greeting her, we exchanged excited comments of surprise about bumping into each other since her group was not part of the group of relatives I was coming to see. Once we calmed down from the surprise, she told me her brother was there; I had no memory of him in my memory banks. Pointing to someone standing behind me I turned around and was stunned at what I saw; it was the face of one of my deceased parents. Though this relative was connected to me distantly, our shared gene pool dealt him a hand where he turned out looking like he was part of my immediate family. Not that I have forgotten my parent; but it struck me how each relative, whether living or deceased, plays a part in creating a place where we belong and a sense of home. This animated film had a similar story.      YI’S, VOICED BY CHLOE BENNET (AGENTS of S.H.I.E.L.D-TV, Nashville-TV), dream of traveling the world took on a new wrinkle when she discovered a magical Yeti hiding on the roof of her apartment building. With Albert Tsai (Dr. Ken-TV, Trophy Wife-TV) voicing Peng, Tenzing Norgay Trainor (Liv and Maddie-TV) voicing Jin, Eddie Izzard (Across the Universe, Ocean’s Thirteen) voicing Burnish and Sarah Paulson (The Goldfinch, The Post) voicing Dr. Zara; I found the animation both beautiful and colorful. The idea behind the story was sweet and touching, despite the script being somewhat generic. However, I so enjoyed the message and the scenes that I did not mind the familiar story lines. Though this film is classified as humorous, it is not a laugh out loud type; more like a knowing chuckle. Appropriate for all family members, one cannot deny the sweetness of the message for it does make one think of their own family. Plus, the still photographs used during the ending credits were a nice touch to cement those feelings of family and home.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Freaks

I DON’T THINK I WOULD HAVE been as upset if the packaging had been different; but the fact that the bag looked identical to the name brand product, annoyed me to no end. During my weekly grocery shopping excursion, I picked up a bag of chopped lettuce and threw it into my shopping cart. I buy bagged lettuce every week; it is a staple in my household. When it came time to open the bag to make a salad, I noticed the pieces of lettuce were smaller than usual and several pieces were wilted already. Looking for the best by date on the bag, I realized the brand was different from the one I always bought; it was the grocery store’s private brand. I had no idea because as I said the packaging was so like my brand. Now I am not bad-mouthing store branded products, but it bugs me that they make their products look just like the name brand ones. I perceive it as an act of deception instead of a sign of flattery. In my pantry there are several store branded products, so I don’t have a problem using them. To be honest, some of them taste the same as the national brands; but some just do not have the same quality.      I DO UNDERSTAND THE MARKETING THAT goes behind these products. They are usually cheaper priced versions where the store can increase their profit margins by the sale of their own items. In my mind the reason a product is made to look like another product is to trick the shopper into thinking they have the original brand, just like what happened to me. All it takes is for a consumer to try the private brand and then hope they realize the thing they bought is fine, which will turn them into a devoted shopper of the store’s brand. If the package looked nothing like the original brand, a consumer could easily skip over it to reach for the one they have always used in their household; I truly understand the thinking behind this, but I still do not like it. I remember trying a store branded roll of paper towels and I took an immediate dislike to them. They were not as soft or absorbent as my chosen brand. They were a good price on sale, so I was willing to take a chance. This is the type of marketing I prefer where I do not feel I am being manipulated and I am getting something in return for trying the item, a sale price. Now I only wish I would have gotten a discount on my theater ticket for this dramatic, science fiction thriller.      HAVING BEEN TOLD HER WHOLE LIFE by her father that it was too dangerous to go outside, 7-year-old Chloe, played by Lexy Kolker (Shooter-TV, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.-TV) never left the house. However, when an ice cream truck came and parked outside her door, she did not understand what could be so dangerous about getting an ice cream cone. This film festival winner starred Emile Hirsch (Milk, Speed Racer) as Dad, Bruce Dern (The Peanut Butter Falcon, Remember Me) as Mr. Snowcone, Grace Park (Hawaii Five-O-TV, The Border-TV) as Agent Ray and Amanda Crew (The Age of Adaline, The Haunting of Connecticut) as Mary. The story started out slow and lasted a long time; it was not until the last third of the film where things picked up for me. I enjoyed the acting, particularly Lexy’s performance. I thought it was a smart move to have the audience see the story through her character’s eyes. The script was fine for the most part, but the entire story felt like a light version of the X-men franchise. Also, I think there must have been a small budget allotted to this project because the special effects looked cheap. When the film was over, I truly felt I had seen a generic X-men picture, interesting characters but nothing memorable.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Ad Astra

THE WORDS THAT NEVER GET SPOKEN to a loved one will remain inside of you always. They become part of your inner dialog, emerging periodically to your consciousness like buried treasure, whenever you think of that person who is no longer in your life. A friend of mine experienced such a thing when his brother one night took off, never to be heard from again. My friend told me there was a big fight between his brother and their parents; he never told me what the argument was about, nor did I ask. In the heat of the fight, the brother said at some point he did not want to be around his parents anymore. I remember my friend telling me he was shocked by that comment. A few days later the brother packed up his clothing and left in the middle of the night. My friend was devastated when he woke up the following morning. There was no note left behind; the brother did not send a message or word to his brother to let him know he was okay. I could see the pain across my friend’s face. I tried to comfort him, suggesting the brother might reach out to him once he arrived at his destination and settled down. He never called.      BESIDES THIS FRIEND I ONLY KNEW a couple of other households that experienced a family loss. With each one, the family member I knew suffered a long grieving period due to not saying goodbye. Because I was at a young age, I could not grasp the scope of such pain. The only way I could relate to it took place several years later when I had experienced breakups from a couple of long-term relationships. Physical death was not a factor, but I still felt the pain of loss. In one relationship I was left without closure; they simply said they could “not do this anymore” and decided to leave. My loss was accentuated by the sudden stoppage of our blended routines. I never realized how prickly routines could be when you try doing them yourself. They are a constant reminder of how your life used to be. Now, I can see if you were the one to end the relationship then those past routines would be the fuel that pushes you to your new life; it makes sense to me. However, not getting the opportunity to have a say in the demise of a relationship can have a profound effect upon one’s psyche. The main character in this dramatic, science fiction mystery can show you.      WITH EARTH EXPERIENCING UNEXPLAINED POWER SURGES, the little evidence that could be found led to a past space mission that ceased communications. The astronaut chosen to investigate the mystery was the son of the captain from the lost mission. With Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, By the Sea) as Roy McBride, Tommy Lee Jones (The Homesman, Shock and Awe) as H. Clifford McBride, Ruth Negga (Loving, World War Z) as Helen Lantos, Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games franchise, The Leisure Seeker) as Thomas Pruitt and Kimberly Elisa (Death Wish, The Manchurian Candidate) as Lorraine Deavers; watching this film felt like I was privy to a psychological study. The script and the directing kept a deliberate, methodical slow pace. Because I was involved with psychology in college, I found this movie interesting. However, I am not sure many other viewers would feel the same. Visually the picture was beautiful, and Brad’s performance was outstanding. Overall, I enjoyed learning the story in the movie but there were times I felt it dragged along. I may still be thinking about this film, but I feel complete in having told you what I thought about this outer space, adventure movie.

 

2 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Trailer: It Chapter Two

I KNEW THERE WOULD BE A CHANCE I would either have to ride in the ambulance with the paramedics or drive and meet them at the hospital, when I dialed 911. This was not what I expected when I drove over to check on a friend. I arrived at his house to find him acting confused and lethargic. Offering to make soup or some toast, he could not make up his mind. Instead, he told me he needed to pay some bills. I looked at him carefully, hoping to see some telltale sign to explain what was going on with him. With my imagination I was already checking off in my mind the list of possibilities that could explain my friend’s symptoms. Though I hoped things would calm down and return to some semblance of order, it was not to be the case. When he leaned into me and went limp, I had to support him as I led him down to the floor. Whatever fears I had about ambulances and hospitals was put on the side as I called for help. It seemed like only a minute before the paramedics arrived at the house. The lead man asked me what was going on with my friend; I went over the series of events that led up to me calling them for help. It was decided that my friend be taken to the hospital and that I should meet him there.      AS I DROVE TO THE HOSPITAL I glanced at the time on the dashboard and realized I was already past my bedtime. There was nothing I could do about it, so I made the conscious decision not to look at the time anymore. I kept telling myself I at least had my car with me instead of having to ride in the ambulance. The idea of seeing medics working on my friend gave me the chills. I do not think anyone likes being in a hospital and I am no exception. With the germs and sicknesses, besides all the medical procedures, I strongly dislike having to be in a hospital and now I was willingly driving myself to one. All my fears had to be contained or at least not interfere with what I needed to do for my friend. My anxiety increased as I entered the emergency room. I did not have time to think about what was going on because I was led to my friend’s room, where the doctor informed me it was a good thing I called for help. It just goes to show you there are times when one must put everything aside to do the right thing. The friends in this horror film certainly understood this concept.      IT HAD BEEN 27 YEARS SINCE the town of Derry experienced such an evil being. The group of old schoolfriends who encountered him back then vowed they would return to their hometown if he ever showed up again. Now that he did, they would have to overcome their fears if they were going to have any chance of succeeding in ridding the town of him. With Jessica Chastain (Dark Phoenix, Molly’s Game) as Beverly Marsh, James McAvoy (Atomic Blonde, The Last Station) as Bill Denbrough, Bill Hader (The To Do List, The Skeleton Twins) as Richie Tozier, Isaiah Mustafa (Horrible Bosses, Shadowhunters-TV) as Mike Hanlon and Jay Ryan (Go Girls-TV, Beauty and the Beast-TV) as Ben Hanscom; the casting for this movie could not have been better. Each adult actor was perfect as the grownup school child. Bill Hader was the big standout for me. What surprised me about this sequel was the fact it was more story driven than a series of horrific episodes. There still was blood and violence in several scenes but I thought the adult kids’ story lines were interesting. Clocking in at 2 hours and 49 minutes, the script needed some editing because this film was too long. Granted I was engaged most of the time, but there were a few slow sections in the script that could have been deleted. My fear of sitting through a series of gory horror scenes subsided as the story unfolded on the big screen.

 

2 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: The Angry Birds Movie 2

EVERY QUESTION WAS MET WITH A question or a story; I found it annoying. Like me, he was an employee of the company; though, in my opinion he was not an asset. He was a salesman who handled a large account for the company, which meant he was getting a good salary. At least, he wasn’t one of those braggards who liked to flash their wealth. However, he did have “airs” about him. In other words, his paperwork and follow through on his orders was never completed because he felt such things were beneath him. This was the area where I had to interact with him, and I did not like it at all. Whenever I asked him a question about his paperwork, he would usually tell me to talk to his assistant, that she had the details. And when I would, half the time she could not give me an answer because he had not turned in all of his paperwork into her. I would have to start the whole process over again with him. Maybe he was a nice person away from work; but as far as I was concerned all he cared about was making a sale and getting his commission on it. He never showed an interest in making sure we were invoicing the customer correctly, so we would get paid and for that reason I did not like him.      LUCKILY, HE WAS ONE OUT OF a larger group of salespeople. If I had my way, I would have told him off and held up his commissions until the company received payment from the customer on his orders. Unfortunately, I did not own the company which meant I had to deal with him no matter what I thought of him. It was not an ideal situation; but honestly, it was not something I could not handle. The bottom line for me was I enjoyed my job and I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize it. Having to deal with a challenging employee was something I discovered a long time ago. It is a rare experience to work at a company where everyone gets along well. My philosophy about it is this; you do not have to like a person, you simply need to respect them. The bottom line when working at a company is for everyone to make a contribution that will assist the company/organization in being successful. This seems like a simple premise, but not everyone can do it easily. An example can be found in this animated, adventure comedy.      NOTHING COULD STOP THE CONSTANT SNEAK prank attacks between the pigs and birds until mysterious ice projectiles started raining down on each one’s island. If the birds and pigs wanted to survive, they would have to find a way to work together. With Jason Sudeikis (Booksmart, Horrible Bosses 2) voicing Red, Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast, Marshall) voicing Chuck, Leslie Jones (Ghostbusters, Masterminds) voicing Zeta, Bill Hader (Trainwreck, Maggie’s Plan) voicing Leonard and Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Most Likely to Murder) voicing Silver; this sequel was a bit slow taking off for me. Most of what I was watching seemed like a rehash of the previous film. However, as the story moved along, I started to take more notice of it. The animation was just as good as the previous film and there were several scenes that were fun to watch. What really stood out for me were the voices; I thought the actors were perfect with their characters, especially Jason and Leslie. Overall, this was an easy film that did not need much thought on the viewers’ part. In my book that is a plus since I did not have to struggle to stay engaged in the story.

 

2 ½ 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  

Flash Movie Review: The Lion King

UP UNTIL I SAW THE MOVIE Bambi, the only characters that would perish in an animated picture were the evil ones. The evil queen, the wicked witch; none of the “bad” characters in those animated films went unpunished for their awful actions. Even Cruella DeVil got her comeuppance for what she did to those innocent puppies. When I watched Bambi, I was traumatized by what happened to the mother. I understood death, but I had not been exposed to it on a personal level. Suddenly it was thrust upon me in an unexpected way, an animated movie where an innocent relative does not survive; it was an awful experience for me. I wanted to take in Bambi, so he would not be alone. In fact, I remember feeling angry towards the movie studio for allowing such a thing to happen. In my mind, innocent people were not supposed to get hurt or die; I believed it was a written rule. Little did I know that my introduction to the film Bambi would only be a prelude to what happens everyday in the real world. I guess that is why I am more attracted to fantasy and movies.      SPOILER ALERT: YEARS LATER ANOTHER ANIMATED FILM COMES along where a tragedy befalls the parent of a main character. I at least was better equipped to handle this when I saw the original film of, The Lion King. In the context of the story, there were similarities between it and Bambi. What softened the blow in my opinion were the various musical numbers and the endearing, emotional depth given to the characters. I think a person would be hard pressed not to react to the characters in the movie. From that movie a new industry was created or at least it was new to me. Sitting in a theater, the lights go down and the orchestra begins the familiar notes from the soundtrack; I was immediately brought into their world when part of the cast of the staged version of The Lion King walk down the aisle towards the stage. With the imaginative and colorful costumes, myself and the audience were in awe. The staged show began on Broadway in 1997 and I believe it is still running today. Suffice it to say, it would be a challenge for any movie studio to do something that would top the memories and experiences viewers and theater goers would already have towards this story. However, do not let that stop you if you are curious to see the latest version of a much beloved story.      WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF HIS PARENTS Simba, voiced by Donald Glover (The Martian, Solo: A Star Wars Story), must learn for himself what it means to become a king. With Beyonce (Dreamgirls, Obsessed) voicing Nala, Seth Rogen (Long Shot, The Disaster Artist) voicing Pumbaa, Billy Eichner (Most Likely to Murder, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) voicing Timon and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things, 12 Years a Slave) voicing Scar; this animated, adventure drama was visually startling to me. I kept questioning myself on whether some of the animals were real or not. The CGI was utterly amazing to the point I felt I was on an African Safari. Now for the substance behind those visuals, the writers stayed close to the original story with only a few minor tweaks. However, what they forgot to do was keep the endearing emotional quality to the characters. Based on the way the characters acted there was not much variance to their emotional output. The script paled in comparison to the technical quality of this picture. I also was distracted by the musical soundtrack; not the individual songs, but the background music was too over dramatic. One of the bright spots was listening to Seth and Billy with their verbal exchanges. If the script would have been better written I think this would have been a stellar production; instead, I felt I had gone to the zoo during the nap times for some of my favorite animals.

 

2 ½ stars         

Flash Movie Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

COMPARED TO MY FRIENDS, I FELT lucky I did not have to experience it until I was 12 years old. For that was the year I experienced my first funeral. It was at that point where I felt like an adult for the first time. Up until then I was living my life in a carefree way, with no responsibilities or serious life events to experience. There was attending school, piano lessons, taking family trips and playing alone or with friends; my schedule was filled with these activities. After that first funeral things started to change for me. I became aware of sicknesses and diseases that were life threatening, besides my own mortality. If I am being perfectly honest, a part of me resented having to think of these things. I was content being a kid and had no desire to deal with adult situations. Not that I was living an idyllic life as Peter Pan, but I just wanted to stay a kid. And this was despite having friends who had lost loved ones at a much earlier age than myself. It turned out there was going to be something else coming down the road towards me that would cement my status into the young adult world.      A FEW WEEKS AFTER MY SIXTEENTH birthday I got my first job. Opening my 1st pay envelope and seeing a check made out to me was thrilling. In this case I was okay being treated and feeling like an adult. I had a weekly schedule that consisted of at least 2 days of work after school and a full day Saturday and/or Sunday. The schedule would fluctuate depending on which employees were available to work a shift. It seemed so adult to me. I would get a kick out of telling my friends I could not join them because I had to go to work, so I could get a paycheck. My experiences were not that unusual from most other people. All of us at some point make that change from being a kid to becoming an adult. For some, it might get triggered by a friend or family member; for others, it may take place during a trip to a foreign land or a hospital. I am not saying the transition will be easy. If you want to see for yourself, watch what happens to the main character in this science fiction, action adventure film.      THE OPPORTUNITY OF A SCHOOL TRIP to Europe was perfect for Peter Parker/Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland (The Impossible, The Lost City of Z). He would finally get the chance to spend time with his classmate MJ, played by Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Shake it Up-TV), and tell her how he felt about her. However, he did not take into consideration a phone call from Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Glass). This story for this movie picks up a short time after the Avengers: End Game film. With Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger, Prisoners) as Quentin Beck/Mysterio and Marisa Tomei (The Big Short, The First Purge) as Mary Parker, this picture was a good transition point for future Marvel movies. The script was light and fun, along with a good amount of humor. Tom and Zendaya were an ideal pairing and I could see them growing into these roles in upcoming installments. When I compare this film to other superhero ones, this one comes up a little short with the “wow” factor. Though I smiled, chuckled and teared up a bit; I was not totally transported into the story. The script could have used a rewrite to firm up the plot because I felt the villain and the story surrounding them needed to be more intense and scarier, for one thing. Also, the whole idea for the villain was weak compared to past Marvel stories. This still was absolute fun to watch and you want to certainly see the 2 extra scenes during and at the end of the credits. Oh, and typical to these films there was a Stan Lee sighting.

 

3 1/4 stars   

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