Category Archives: Fantasy/Sci-Fi
OVER THE YEARS I HAVE LEARNED that each person handles death in their own way. I also know as one grows older the shock of death loses some of its harshness, in varying degrees. Without classifying them as friend, family or stranger; I knew a woman who couldn’t wait for her husband to die. At the first sign of sickness she immediately had him placed in a nursing facility; she did not want to have anything to do with him. He eventually did die in that facility. Going to a different extreme, I knew a daughter who could not accept the death of her mother. Every day she went to the cemetery to visit her mother, with a thermos of coffee and a sweet roll. She would take a folding chair with her and spend time talking to her mother while sipping her coffee, after pouring a cup for her mother that she perched on top of the gravestone. Next to that cup the daughter placed a piece of the sweet roll on a napkin. When she would leave, she would pour the coffee on the grave and leave the sweet roll. The next day when she returned she would find comfort in the absence of the sweet roll; imagining her mother must have taken it. In reality it probably was either a cemetery employee, bird or rodent. FOR MANY PEOPLE THEIR PETS ARE just as important as their family and friends. There was a man I knew who loved his pets so much that he would have them cremated. In his house he had a shelf devoted to the ashes of his pets; each pet’s ashes were placed in an urn that he would then line up across the shelf. Either resting in front of each one or hanging around the urn itself was that animal’s collar. If you think that is a bit extreme, what about those pet owners who have a taxidermist stuff their pets or freeze dry them for preservation? I have only seen such things on the news, where the dead pet could be curled up on a mantle or sitting up next to a potted plant. If I remember correctly didn’t the news report a few months ago about a celebrity who had her deceased dog cloned? The new puppy looked exactly like their previous pet. I am not one to judge; the way a person wants to handle their loss is up to them as long as it does not have a negative effect on those remaining. See what I mean in this horror thriller. MOVING FROM BUSTLING BOSTON TO PEACEFUL Maine was meant to slow down the hectic life of Dr. Louis Creed, played by Jason Clarke (First Man, Everest), and his family. That all changed when their neighbor Jud, played by John Lithgow (Leap Year, Daddy’s Home Two), showed Louis a part of their land that was supposed to be off limits. With Amy Seimetz (You’re Next, Upstream Color) as Rachel, Jete Laurence (The Snowman, Sneaky Pete-TV) as Ellie and relative newcomer Obssa Ahmed as Victor Pascow; this mystery movie had an interesting style to it. I found some of the filming exceptional that added to the tension of the story. For me, as soon as I see an unkept cat I immediately think something is wrong with it and the cat in this film was giving me the heebie-jeebies. The downfall to this movie was sadly the script. I got tired watching the same scenario done in different ways. Though the acting was okay I never felt connected to the characters. It came to a point where I was looking forward to this movie being over as the dialog got cheesier and predictable. Because this was a remake, I felt the movie studio should have left this story buried and not try to resurrect it.
1 ¾ stars
IF ONLY THE SUPERHERO INSIDE OF me had come out when I was much younger; I am sure I would have had an easier time of things. Instead of being relegated each time to left field when we played baseball in school, I bet I could have been the pitcher if I knew about my superhero. Those times when I was being abused and bullied, I did have several plans of attack and rescue playing out in my mind; however, I needed a superhero to boost my confidence and hopes. Because of this, part of my brain was constantly working on plans of revenge; ones that I would never carry out but made me feel a little better. I remember there was a time where a group of robbers were focusing on passengers who rode the subway train. They would pretend to be passengers and when the train came to a stop they would grab purses and jewelry, then jump off the train and run away. The poor victims would not have time to react before the doors closed and the train pulled away from the station. I am not saying these people were not aware of their superhero; but imagine if they had the ability to react quickly and prevent the robbers from snatching their purses. IT WAS NOT UNTIL SOME YEARS into my adulthood that I realized not only do I have a superhero inside of me, but most everyone else had one also. As a joke I tell people my superpower is being able to withstand high heat. All kidding aside, from my experiences I discovered my superhero has enabled me to be compassionate and kind. After what I went through years ago, it has taken me a long time to get to a place where I can be and act on these things. A superhero I believe gives one confidence in themselves. There is less fear being generated by the person. Speaking on experience, this is absolutely true; I cannot tell you how different the world feels when one is able to participate in it without being in a constant state of fear. One way I describe this feeling is by telling people to envisage their entire world having been black and white; then one day, everything turns into color. Just like what happened to Dorothy when she arrived in Oz as the film went from black and white to color. A person can get so much out of life when they are in synch with their superhero; see for yourself in this adventure film. THERE WAS SOMETHING INSIDE OF FOSTER kid Billy Batson, played by relative newcomer Asher Angel, that made him special; at least to an ancient wizard. With Zachary Levi (Thor franchise, Chuck-TV) as Shazam, Mark Strong (Kingsman franchise, Before I Go to Sleep) as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Michelle Borth (Teenage Cocktail, Hawaii Five-O-TV) as Super Hero Mary and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Wizard; this action fantasy film was a fun movie to watch. I thought the script was well written because it provided a sweet likability factor to the fantasy story. Zachary was made for this role, doing a wonderful job of portraying Shazam. There was solid humor, touching moments, a decent message and old-fashioned action scenes in this picture. Though I had hoped the studios would have given Mark Strong a character and script with more heft to it; I still enjoyed his action scenes and felt he made a convincing villain. This was one of the best films I have seen come out of the DC universe. It seems as if the people who worked on this picture were in touch with their superhero. There were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.
3 ½ stars
I FOUND SOMEONE I COULD RELATE to and it was an elephant. Don’t laugh; this little elephant was a character I not only could sympathize with but identify with because of what he was going through in his young life. It was on a Saturday and I remember we took the train down into the city. A theater there was doing a weekend showing of the animated movie Dumbo. As we walked around the corner and I saw the movie theater, I got upset because of all the people lined up trying to get into the theater. I thought for sure all the tickets would be sold before we got up to the box office. By downtown standards this theater was one of the smaller ones which was part of the reason for my fears. All I knew about this little elephant was its ability to fly and I desperately wanted to see it for myself. Flying was something I dreamt about and was hoping I could learn something from Dumbo. As you can see at a young age I was already heavy into fantasy, looking to create a different reality around me. I could not stop fidgeting as we slowly made our way up to the box office. WITH TICKETS IN HAND WE FOUND seats in the theater; I could not have been more excited. When Dumbo was being made fun of, I felt his pain. I was overweight and endured similar name calling. If I could I would have jumped into the screen to defend Dumbo and let him know he was not alone. I was visibly upset as I sat in my seat. And then suddenly, my sadness and pain disappeared in a puff of air, that I felt from Dumbo’s large ears when they flapped to give him flight for the first time. Seeing that little elephant rise up into the air was pure magic for me. I was told I had big ears, so I wondered if it was at all possible I could teach myself to use my ears along with my flapping arms to allow me to lift off the ground. There in that movie theater I had found someone like me; I wanted to do everything Dumbo could do. If I was ever afraid or uncomfortable I could simply fly away from the situation, soar above any of the pain or name calling I was experiencing. After all these years, I now have the opportunity to see my flying friend once again in this live action, fantasy film. WHEN CIRCUS OWNER MAX MEDICI, PLAYED by Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-TV), bought a pregnant elephant; he never imagined the birth of a baby elephant could change his life so drastically. This family movie also starred Colin Farrell (The Beguiled, The Lobster) as Holt Farrier, Michael Keaton (American Assassin, The Founder) as V.A. Vandevere, Eva Green (Based on a True Story, Penny Dreadful-TV) as Colette Marchant and Alan Arkin (Argo, Going in Style) as J. Griffin Remington. While watching this picture I had a visceral reaction to what was being shown on the movie screen. Except for the variety of fanciful visuals, I thought this movie was an abomination. How did the movie studio okay a story that was dark and so not kid friendly? I was completely shocked by the script and found absolutely nothing fun or joyful in this picture. There were little glimpses of a possible pleasurable scene but for the most part the script and over the top soundtrack drowned any hope of enjoyment. Days later I still was confused how this film got made of such a classic iconic character from animated history. Unless you want to punish your child or yourself, there is no reason to go see this poor version of the classic tale.
1 ½ stars
MY FIRST WARNING WAS WHEN HE did not ask me how I was doing. I have noticed over time when I engage with a person and they do not ask any questions back, they pretty much are only interested in talking about themselves. In this case we were sitting next to each other at a lecture. We had seen each other in other classes and workshops, acknowledging each other with a nod of the head or a “hello.” Before the lecture had started I asked how his experiences were so far at the convention. He started talking about the classes he had taken, making a point to tell me what he would have done differently if he was leading it. I was just trying to make small talk and was not looking for a detailed description of his classes. As I listened to him it soon became apparent that everything he was saying was negative; he kept telling me he would have done a better job as the instructor or lecturer. Not once did he ever ask me about my time at the convention. I could not wait for our lecture to start because he talked non-stop; but even when the class started, he made a point to interject his take on what the lecturer was discussing with us. I felt like I was being held captive. THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN BEING stuck with someone who is sucking the air out of the room. Whether it is a business or personal function, I cannot tell you how excruciating it can be to be the sole audience member to a person’s soliloquy of their life and experiences. There was a salesman who used to always come around and all the employees would scatter whenever they saw him drive up. Whoever he made eye contact with would then be forced to listen to all his family stories, mentioning relatives as if the stuck employee knew who he was talking about. What made matters worse was the slow way he would draw out his stories, pausing at points just to see the reaction from his audience. I used to tell him I had a meeting scheduled or I was needed on a conference call, just to get away from him. And like I said earlier, he would never ask how you were doing; because it was all about him. The reason I am talking about this is due to today’s science fiction thriller. I felt like I was being forced to sit and listen to everything going on whether it made or not any sense. DESPITE BEING UNDER ALIEN RULE FOR some years, there still was a resistance to the occupation of Earth. One of the problems was the humans who were doing the extraterrestrials’ bidding. With John Goodman (Atomic Blonde, 10 Cloverfield Lane) as William Mulligan, Ashton Sanders (Moonlight, The Equalizer 2) as Gabriel Drummond, Jonathan Majors (White Boy Rick, Hostiles) as Rafe Drummond, Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Conjuring franchise) as Jane Doe and Kevin Dunn (Warrior, Veep-TV) as Commissioner Eugene Igoe; this was a dark film that had bold ideas. Filmed in Chicago, the story started out intriguing. There was little information given for the backstory. I sat through most of this movie feeling perplexed and bored, besides wondering why the more seasoned actors agreed to take on such a dismal production. The CGI was nothing special which made the clunky script all the more drab. I did not find anything exciting despite the twists which I assumed were supposed to be thought provoking. If I was the type who ate in the theater I would have gone and gotten some popcorn or candy. Unless you want to be held captive yourself, I suggest you save your money on this one by avoiding it.
1 ½ stars
I DID NOT CONSIDER IT ARGUING but my teacher did not feel the same way. The assignment given to us was to create illustrations for a book we were putting together. Each student was handed a page with the outline of a scene printed on it. Our job was to color in the figures and landscapes. Once done the teacher was going to put the drawn pages in the appropriate places between the pages we had written for the story we created. I took my drawing assignments seriously though I did not consider myself a good “artist.” My page had both people and objects in it, so I was diligently working on it with my crayons. I went over the outlines with crayons that I thought would look good on the drawing. For a couple of the figures I gave them a shadow, pretending the scene was of a sunny day. There were times I went outside the lines to add a jacket or hat. When the teacher walked by she stopped at my desk and asked what I was doing. I explained my picture to her, but she kept telling me that was not the assignment she gave us. I disagreed and tried explaining to her what I was creating; however, she was not interested in my explanation. She took my sheet away and replaced it with another one, telling me to follow her instructions. I thought I was doing that. MY IMAGINATION IS STILL AS STRONG now as it was back then. I do not think that teacher was trying to stifle my imagination; she just wanted the drawings done a certain way. At the time though, I felt bad that I had to redo my picture without any of the extra things I was incorporating into it. To me, the picture as it was presented was boring and needed something extra to make it stand out in the reader’s mind. When I think of the students I used to play and eat with, I realize now each of them also had a strong imagination. We would get together after a snow storm and create all these different things with just snow. In someone’s backyard we would make things like tunnels, trenches, guards, hills and ramps; all to be incorporated into whatever scenario we were creating in our minds. I always had an easier time connecting with someone who had an active imagination; for it was that imagination, that would carry us to fanciful places where we would plant the seeds of our dreams. It is exactly what the young girl in this animated adventure comedy was doing. WHILE WALKING IN THE WOODS JUNE, voiced by newcomer Brianna Denski, discovered an old, discarded roller coaster car. When she stepped into the car, it jogged a memory of a place she imagined as a little girl. With Jennifer Garner (Peppermint, Draft Day) voicing the Mom, Ken Judson Campbell (Groundhog Day, Home Alone) voicing Boomer, Mila Kunis (The Spy Who Dumped Me, Bad Moms franchise) voicing Greta and Kenan Thompson (Snakes on a Plane, Saturday Night Live-TV) voicing Gus; this story started out beautifully. The animation was wonderful, and the idea of the story was sweet and charming. Once the story moved to a different time and location everything fell apart for me. I thought the script was dark and disconnected. The idea of the evil protagonists was awful. Some children may react negatively to these characters. Afterwards I discovered why there was no directing credits listed for this movie and it explains why I felt the story was clunky. The idea for the story resonated with me, but there was little imagination used to make this picture stand out for me.
1 ¾ stars
WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A quick and smooth trip to the movie theater, turned into a mini-obstacle course of delays for me. After checking for seat availability online, I discovered I needed to change my evening plans and go to an earlier time to see this superhero film. Racing out of work I drove to the first stoplight on my route where I saw a sea of cars across the intersection, all with their brake lights glowing steadily stretching down for almost two blocks. I could see in the distance the faint flashing of railroad crossing lights; so, I knew the gates had to be down for a freight train. My decision had to be quick; either wait in line and hope for the best or quickly come up with a different route to the theater before the stoplight changed. Just as I was about to switch on my turn signal I saw the faint glow of headlights coming towards me in the opposite lanes of traffic; the train must have passed, and the crossing gates were up. I decided to take my chances by getting in line with the rest of the cars and hope everyone would drive the speed limit…and get out of my way. THE PUBLISHED TIME FOR THE MOVIE had passed, but I knew the theater showed a lot of film trailers. I had gotten stuck behind a driver who was trying to turn left without their turn signal on. My anxiousness was bubbling up to the point I was about to get out of my car to stop traffic. I did not, but instead finally found enough space between passing cars for me to drive around the car in front of me. Once I made it to the theater I took the first parking space I could find and ran to the box office. There was only one couple in front of me when I walked into the lobby to purchase my ticket. This couple was peering at the computer screen in front of them deciding where to sit for the same movie I was going to see. If you have never picked seats for a movie when buying your tickets, it is not rocket science. Unless you are on a 1st date, it should be an easy process. These two people were having a discussion on which would be the best seats to watch the movie. I made my presence known by clearing my throat which stimulated the couple to choose seats. If there had not been 28 minutes of previews for this film I would have missed the beginning of the movie; one cannot afford to miss it. TROUBLED BY FLASHES OF HERSELF IN unfamiliar places from a different world, it was those images in Vers’, played by Brie Larson (Room, Free Fire), mind that were the links for her to finally understanding herself. With Samuel L. Jackson (Glass, The Hitman’s Bodyguard) as Nick Fury, Ben Mendelsohn (Robin Hood, Darkest Hour) as Keller, Jude Law (Black Sea, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Yon-Rogg and Lashana Lynch (Brotherhood, Fast Girls) as Maria Rambeau; this science fiction superhero film is the first time a female is playing the lead character. I am not familiar with the Captain Marvel comic books, but I felt the script was geared towards our present time with women empowerment. Brie was a great choice for the role; however, I felt that same script restricted her character. My favorite part of the movie was when Brie’s character was on Earth. With a great soundtrack, good humor and phenomenal CGI work on Samuel; these things made up for the scenes in outer space. Those scenes looked too much like a cartoon and did not have the dazzling display of CGI work I have seen in other outer space, action adventure pictures. With the multiple story lines, the scenes seemed to quickly jump across the screen at times. I felt with a little editing and polishing up of the script I would have been taken back to the Marvel universe I have enjoyed in the past. This was a good start for this origin story, just not great. I did not have to rush like a maniac to get to this showing. From the standard extra two scenes during the middle and end of the credits I technically had all the way until the opening date of the 2nd part of the Avengers film to see this movie.
HOW DOES ONE GIVE UP SOMETHING they love? I find it to be one of the hardest things to do. I have been told I have strong willpower; that I can be disciplined enough to forgo something for a short time, not so sure about long term. Talking with someone recently who is pregnant, she said the hardest thing for her during her pregnancy was not being able to eat pizza. It is her favorite food and now every time she tries to eat a slice she gets horribly sick. I mentioned it should only be a temporary situation and pass once her baby is born. Another example I can think of is when one goes shopping with a friend or relative and both fall in love with the same item that the store has only 1 left on their shelf. Think about a sweater or cooking item that you have been searching for that your relative or friend has been wanting also; how do you decide which one of you gets to purchase the item? Maybe only shop alone to avoid the problem in the future; but for the present, most people tend to offer the other person the item out of politeness. I KNOW TWO WOMEN WHO BOTH are passionate about collecting certain antique clothing items. They both have similar tastes which has become an issue for them. The items they seek can be found through auctions; the 2 friends wind up bidding against each other sometimes and not always knowing it. I thought they came up with an equitable plan. Before each auction they now discuss which items they are going to bid on. When they both want to bid on the same item, they take turns on who gets to bid on it. When there are multiple items up for bidding they alternate turns. Gratefully this has worked out for them; they avoid spending more money on items and more importantly, there are no hurt feelings. Now I understand the examples I have mentioned may seem trivial to some individuals. However, I believe whenever love is involved, whether it is love for an item or love for a person, there is a stronger connection that makes it harder for the person to separate themselves. Look at parenting; isn’t the idea of it to raise kids to become independent? Or, at the end of life; there are some people who cannot let go of their loved ones. Love is such a strong emotion; if you do not believe me then feel free to watch this animated, adventure sequel. AS THE NEW RULER HICCUP, VOICED by Jay Baruchel (Lovesick, She’s Out of my League), has created a safe haven for the dragons who look up to his dragon as their leader. Just when his dragon Toothless is needed during a crisis, Hiccup’s dragon is focused more on love. With America Ferrera (Cesar Chavez, Ugly Betty-TV) voicing Astrid, F. Murray Abrahams (Robin Hood, Finding Forrester) voicing Grimmel, Cate Blanchett (Ocean’s Eight, Thor: Ragnarok) voicing Valka and Gerard Butler (Hunter Killer, The Bounty Hunter) voicing Stoick; this action sequel brought everything together for the final chapter in this movie franchise. The animation was wonderful as the actors brought their characters to life. I thought the story made a perfect ending to these films and appreciated the well written script providing a blend of excitement, humor and emotional sensitivity. If you have not seen the previous movies I do not believe you will be lost with this picture; there were things I had forgotten, and it did not make a difference in my level of enjoyment for this film. Though I love the dragons from Game of Thrones, there were a few dragons in this movie that I could see myself loving as well.
3 ½ stars
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF ITEMS I have sealed in plastic bags, hoping they may become valuable someday. Neither of them was expensive; I think the most I spent was $6.00. One thing is a set of unusual stamps and the other is a coffee mug shaped like a character from a popular television show. When I bought them years ago I thought immediately they would attract attention; but honestly, I have no idea if they will ever be worth something. You see I do not have that gift for finding a treasure at a thrift store or auction. There is a television show devoted to people bringing in their old possessions, to see if they have something worth a lot of money. I am not that type of individual; most of the things in my house have more sentimental value than monetary. There are some people who have a knack for spotting a bargain; I think I fall more into this category. Part of the reason for this is because I have a knack for finding and using coupons to apply to the item. However, put me in an antique or thrift shop and all I see is used stuff. Sure, I may find something I want; but, it is based on an emotional level not a practical one. THERE IS SOMEONE I KNOW WHO is skilled when it comes to finding things of value. The things he has shown me have totally amazed me. When I look at, for example, a silver serving piece such as a large fork, I see a metal item that is fancy looking. The individual I mentioned can dig through an entire crate of metal serving pieces and pull out the only one of value. I am not kidding you; he even showed me the item. It was a large metal fork with an ornately carved handle and three tines which were wide at the bottom then narrowed down to fine points. He paid less than $5.00 for the fork. When he got home he looked up and discovered this was a special fork from a particular manufacturer. Double checking online he learned the fork was selling for approximately $120.00. Maybe the dollar amount isn’t a big deal to you, but you must admit the percentage between the price difference is huge. He did the same thing with an oil painting where he paid $11.00 and found out it was worth over $500.00. Another person gifted like him was the doctor in this science fiction, action adventure. FINDING A PORTION OF A DISCARDED OLD cyborg was a stroke of luck for Dr. Dyson Ido, played by Christoph Waltz (Carnage, Big Eyes). There was more than luck involved when he brought her to life. This romantic thriller also starred Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner franchise, CHIPS) as Alita, Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, House of Sand and Fog) as Chiren, Mahershala Ali (Green Book, Hidden Figures) as Vector and Ed Skrein (Deadpool, If Beale Street Could Talk) as Zapan. Visually, this film was a feast of technical marvels. The fight scenes were intense with great special effects. The acting was also well done, even when the actors were transformed by CGI effects. Where I had high hopes for this picture based on the trailer, the script let me down. I found having a female hero led to a more sensitive story line; but the script was predictable, and the dialog was hokey at times. This picture was based on a graphic novel series that was unfamiliar to me; so, for those who know it or are into this type of genre, they might enjoy this movie more than me. It was obvious the producers are hoping for a sequel based on the ending scenes. I would be interested in seeing it but only if they get a better script.
2 ½ stars
WHEN I WAS A MUCH YOUNGER BOY I thought there were many differences between men and women. Maybe it was the times, the environment or the teachings; but outside the physical characteristics both sexes were treated differently. I never understood why the color blue was designated as a masculine color and pink a feminine one. I was taught to open doors for women and to give up my seat on the bus or train for a woman who is standing. Rarely do I see either of these things being done these days. If a female drops something it was ok to pick it up for her; however, if a male dropped something it was okay to ignore it. To pick something up for another male was akin to telling them they were weak and puny. Seriously, this is what I was led to believe. And of course, there is that thing about showing emotions, especially sadness and tears. Heaven forbid you are watching a sad movie in your film class and tear up; your classmates will pounce on you for being a weak sissy. These are only a couple of the things that I encountered in my youth; I am glad I grew up. HERE ARE A FEW THINGS I see today: both women and men saying ignorant things, both sexes displaying prejudices, men and women competing on the same team and both capable of being poor drivers. In other words, in my small world I see very little difference between men and women. As such, I treat them the same. If either sex drops something I will pick it up for them. In my fitness classes I do not even see males and females; I see people working hard and doing their best. With the participants in my classes ranging in age from 16 to 80 years old, I see the younger generations have a different mindset about the opposite sex than the older members. It is encouraging to me because I believe everyone should be on equal footing and treated equally. In the locker room the only negative remarks I have heard about the opposite sex have come from older men. In my opinion there is a lack of respect on their part, based on their comments. I do not think they have a clue that their attitude is part of the problem. For all I know they may not even know what a woman needs and who knows, maybe the same thing goes on in the women’s locker room and they don’t know what men need. This was not the case for the woman in this dramatic, romantic fantasy. NO MATTER HOW HARD SHE WORKED Ali Davis, played by Taraji P. Henson (Proud Mary, No Good Deed), never felt like she was being treated fairly at her job. Could it be because she was the only female sports agent? This remake of the male version also starred Josh Brener (The Internship, The Belko Experiment) as Brandon Wallace, Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton) as Will, Max Greenfield (The Big Short, About Alex) as Kevin Myrtle and Brian Bosworth (The Longest Yard, Three Kings) as Nick Ivers. I do not know when this movie was completed but a part of me had to wonder while watching it if it was purposely written to appeal to our current events between the sexes. I felt the script had holes in it causing me to be bored. If it was not for Taraji’s valiant effort to get as much as possible out of the script, I would have been even more bored. Gratefully her acting kept this picture alive, along with the few scenes that I found humorous. I do not know how much you will gain from watching this film; I think you would learn more from one of my classes.
THERE WAS AN OLD SET OF blocks I found in my toy box. It must have been handed down because the color used on the wooden blocks was faded and worn out. Each block had a letter of the alphabet, but I never used the blocks to make words; instead, I used them to make more important things. Stacking the blocks one on top of another made a tall lookout post, with certain letters like “U” and “M” being hidden cannons and machine guns. I would use the blocks to build a wall that was used to surround a moat filled with alligators. One of my favorite things to build were these unusual shaped structures that I pretended were buildings used for outer space outposts. The letters carved into the blocks were windows or shades to protect the inhabitants from the effects of a sun. My imagination would be all over the place as it was being nurtured while playing with these old, wooden building blocks. Every time I would play with them I would discover new adventures and places to explore. IT WAS SOON AFTER I STARTED playing with other toys that would feed my imagination. I remember a box that contained these miniature logs with notches carved towards the ends, like ones used to make a log cabin. However, I used mine to build bridges that would carry visitors over churning rapids or deadly volcanoes. You are probably saying a bridge would never last over an active volcano; but in my world, the logs were made of a secret element that allowed them to withstand the heat from the lava churning inside the volcano, that was preparing to spew up and out. Most of my building type toys were of a smaller scale; in other words, I could create whatever I wanted but it would not be life-sized. That all changed when I received a gift of Styrofoam blocks from a friend of mine. These blocks were bigger than anything I had in my possession. They would interlock using the three pegs sticking up from the top into the three holes that were at the bottom of each piece. The key was not using all three pegs into another piece. All I had to do was use one of the pegs at the ends and I could form a curving wall to form an igloo or fort that was big enough for me to sit in. Add a towel or bedsheet at the top and it would become an awning. There was no limit to my imagination with any of my building toys. The same could be said for the writers of this animated action sequel. LIFE DRASTICALLY CHANGED THE PAST FEW years from everything being awesome to everything being destroyed. The only citizen who kept a positive attitude was Emmet Brickowski, voiced by Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, The Magnificent Seven), but that was about to change. With Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise, Pitch Perfect franchise) voicing Lucy, Will Arnett (Show Dogs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise) voicing Batman, Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Nobody’s Fool) voicing Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi and Stephanie Beatriz (Short Term 12, The Light of the Moon) voicing General Mayhem; the previous cast returned with a few new additions in this adventure film. The actors were all in tune with their characters, delivering the finely tuned humor in the script. As with building blocks, the writers had free rein to go anywhere they wanted with the story. For the most part, they did a good job; however, I think they defaulted to the safe side to avoid risking damage to this burgeoning franchise. The entire family will find something to enjoy in this picture. If there is going to be a third installment, I hope the writers see it as an opportunity to build something new and fresh for these building block pieces.