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Flash Movie Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

FIRST thing we would do is look for a thick stick or broken tree branch. If none could be found then we would head down the alley to see if there was anything lying around that had been discarded by the neighbors. Once something was found the next step was to look for a place to impale the object; a mound of dirt, a pile of leaves, or a large snowdrift would do. As soon as the stick or piece of wood was stuck into the ground it became our sword, a special one. If it was during winter we would break up into 2 teams and battle each other with snowballs as each of us tried to get to the sword and pull it out as the rightful owner who would be king. All of us were familiar with the story about King Arthur and his knights of the round table. Also I think each of us at some point had seen the movie, “The Sword in the Stone.” I saw it 3 times; hoping a bit of Merlin’s magic would rub off on me.     AFTER all these years there are certain story lines that remain embedded in my brain. I may not remember every detail but certainly have a good idea of what took place. I find it fascinating that fairy tales read or seen as a kid remain more vivid in my memory than where I parked my car in the parking lot on a recent trip to the grocery store. There is something about these childhood fantasies that always stay strong in us. I wonder if part of the reason is due to the morals of the story, especially in the animated versions. A kiss that wakes up one’s true love or the physical ramifications of lying to someone; until this very moment I never consciously realized these stories were teaching me a lesson. Maybe because of these memories I have about King Arthur caused me to now be confused by what I was seeing in this dramatic, action adventure film.     UNTIL King Vortigern, played by Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes franchise, The Talented Mr. Ripley), forced every male to make an attempt to pull the recently discovered sword from out of its stone; Arthur, played by Charlie Hunnam (The Lost City of Z, Crimson Peak), had no idea about his heritage when he became the only successful male to remove the special sword. Written and directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), this movie also starred Astrid Berges-Frisbey (The Sea Wall, I Origins) as the Mage, Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Gladiator) as Bedivere and Eric Bana (Troy, The Time Traveler’s Wife) as Uther. The story hardly represented the one I had known as a child. Normally that would be okay; however, the script was so loose and disconnected that I sat through most of this picture puzzled by what I was watching. There were some scenes that worked for me, where I enjoyed the CGI effects like the eagle and massive elephants. But then other scenes literally looked like video game clips which were lost on me because I did not care for the quick cut and paste editing. I also dislike modern language in a period piece. For the amount of money the studio spent, all I can say is Jude plays a good evil person and Charlie has a definite presence that lights up the movie screen. They should have kept the sword locked in the stone and forget this story; what a mess.

 

1 2/3 stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Dinner

THERE was something white and fluttering at my windshield as I walked back to my car. I was hoping it wasn’t an injured bird that had flown into the glass. As I came up from behind I saw it was a sheet of paper that someone had slipped underneath the windshield wiper. My first thought was it had to be some type of advertisement. Wow was I ever wrong when I removed the paper from the wiper and saw what was written on it. Someone had left me a note with their phone number, explaining how their car door flew open from the wind and nicked my car door. I took a look and there was a white mark on my car where the edge of their door chipped the paint. I could not get over someone was kind enough to let me know what happened, since I have never been notified before of all the mysterious nicks and dents my car has received in parking lots all these years. Reading the phone number, I called the person to thank them and refuse their offer of compensation; I kept a bottle of touchup paint for such occurrences.     SOME years ago I remember sitting in my car in a parking lot and hearing a loud bang. The parked car next to me had been nudged by a person pulling out of a space across the way. I got out of my car to examine the damage and saw that car’s fender was pushed in. The driver of the car that backed up was starting to drive away. Running up to the driver side window I waved at them to stop, which I was surprised they did to tell you the truth. The person rolled down their window and I told them they dented the fender of the parked car. When they tried to tell me they did not do it I explained I was sitting in the car right next to it and saw the whole thing. From that short delay of time, it was just enough for the driver of the dented car to come out of the grocery store. I explained what happened and gave them my phone number before driving off to leave the two of them to figure it out. It was the right thing to do.     ONCE the video of the horrific prank was downloaded to a social media site brothers Stan and Paul Lohman, played by Richard Gere (Norman, Days of Heaven) and Steve Coogan (Philomena, The Trip to Italy), met with their wives for dinner to discuss what they should do next. This film festival nominee had an important theme and message here. However, the script was such a mess I lost interest in this movie pretty quick. I am not a fan of jumping back and forth to pick up fragments of a story to create a complete piece and this dramatic mystery was doing it until nearly the end. Speaking of the end, it was not until this picture was nearly over that I started to care about the story. The acting was excellent, including Laura Linney (Sully, Mr. Holmes) as Claire and Rebecca Hall (The Gift, The Prestige) as Katelyn, for what they had to work with but it was not enough for me. I consider this review an act of kindness in warning you about this film.

 

1 2/3 stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Collide

IF there is something harder I do not know what it could be. To see a loved one not only suffering from a health issue but also totally aware of it is awful to witness. I have always said when a loved one dies suddenly it is harder for those who remain behind; when a loved one dies after a long illness it is harder for them. After seeing someone in pain and anguish for a long duration, for those who were witnessing it, there is a sense of relief at the time of the sufferer’s passing. This has been my experiences as well as the friends and family around me. I remember walking into the hospital room of a loved one and being stunned on how much their face had changed from their disease. The face looked like one of those death masks that one would see on display at a museum, except it was hollowed out at the cheeks and eye sockets; it was just awful. Standing there in the room I thought to myself there is no reason they need to stay alive and suffer so much. I understand there are some people who want to hang on to every extra minute they can get by keeping their dying loved ones alive longer. Please I do not want to upset anyone but I have seen people treat their pets better than their relatives and friends when it comes to ending the suffering.     WITH that being said I know I would do everything I could to help a loved one get whatever treatment they needed to extend their life as long as they were not suffering. If it meant learning how to administer pain medicines or get the ill person to therapy sessions, whatever it took I would attempt it. But here is the thing that gets me, what about people who do not have any health insurance or worse they are not able to handle the out of pocket expense? Can you imagine what it must feel like to know there is a treatment out there to help your loved one but the cost was too great? How brutal would that be and here is an example of it in this dramatic action thriller.     THE thought of losing his girlfriend Juliette, played by Felicity Jones, was too much to bear for Casey Stein, played by Nicholas Hoult (X-Men franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road). He was willing to do an illegal job to get the money he needed for his girlfriend’s operation. Unfortunately the job did not go as planned. This film had such a competent cast that also included Anthony Hopkins (The Elephant Man, Hitchcock) as Hagen Kahl and Ben Kingsley (Learning to Drive, Schindler’s List) as Geran. Why in the world did these actors sign up for such a mediocre film is beyond me? The story which we have heard before was okay, but the script was so poorly thought out that I sat in my seat and kept thinking how silly the scenes were becoming. At least the chase scenes were exciting, some across Germany’s autobahn, but even after a time I was getting tired seeing so many of them. This picture could have been better if they had written the parts in a more authentic way. In its present form I just wanted to get to a car crash to end everyone’s misery.

 

1 2/3 stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Assassin’s Creed

WHEN I was little all I wanted was to have a common, average full name; something like John Smith or Robert Jones. I was the only one in my elementary school to have my first name, though there were a couple of boys who had names similar to mine. Teachers never asked a Jeffrey or Deborah to repeat their names but with certain teachers I had to repeat mine a 2nd time so they were sure they heard correctly. Thinking back now I am not sure why it was important for me to want a different name unless it was to be less noticed. It was not like my name was hard to spell or even pronounce.   AS we graduated out of elementary school we were joined with students from other schools. There was one boy who had the same last name as a local food company and he was picked on because of it. I remember sitting and imagining if he was getting teased for a food product what would happen to a student who had the same last name of an infamous person from history; such as Churchill, Hemingway or Mussolini? Interestingly I knew a couple of people who were connected to famous individuals but no one knew because they did not have the same last name. There was one friend who was able to trace his family history back 6 centuries. He showed me a couple of artifacts that had been handed down generation to generation; it really blew my mind since my knowledge of my family’s history only goes back approximately a couple of hundred years. Tracing a family’s history can be eye opening, both for the relatives or bystanders. The reason I say this is because there is a famous family business headquartered in my city. The descendants have lived around here for years and a friend of mine is the accountant for a couple of them. Just from a couple of stories told to me, this family has some messed up genes in their gene pool. But they do not as far as I know have an ancestor like the one in this fantasy adventure.   CAL Lynch, played by Michael Fassbender (The Light Between Oceans, Steve Jobs), was surprised to discover he had an ancestor named Aguilar who was an assassin. Cal was more surprised when he met him. This action film based on a video game had a heavy hitting cast joining Michael. There was Marion Cotillard (Allied, Rust and Bone) as Sofia, Jeremy Irons (The Man in the Iron Mask, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as Rikkin and Brendan Gleeson (Suffragette, Troy) as Joseph Lynch. With such a good cast it was a shame the nonsensical script was so poor. It was a patchwork of fights, romance, history; it jumped from one to the other. I enjoyed the exterior shots and I did not mind the story, but this film was barely coherent. The actors tried their best I believe; however, I was bored through parts of the picture. Maybe the video game is fun to play but this was not a film one needs to pay full price to see. In my opinion this was a movie studio and family dysfunction.

 

1 2/3 stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Boo! A Madea Halloween

Plans were all set for you and your friends to meet up at the local amusement park. The weathercasters had predicted good weather and they were right, warm and sunny. You and your friends were excited about going to the park because there was a new attraction. Walking into the kitchen to get something to eat for breakfast you heard your mother talking on the phone. The conversation was just ending and after your mother hung up the phone she said your aunt, uncle and cousins were coming over in the afternoon. You explained your plans but your mother told you it would not be polite to leave when your cousins were looking forward to playing with you. If your cousins were coming over in the morning you were sure they would want to go with you to the amusement park; but coming later in the afternoon, you knew your friends would already be finishing up and going home. Not that you did not want to see your relatives but you were disappointed having to stay at home and miss out on the plans you made with your friends.    I have had my share of similar disappointments, plus I can recognize that same type of dejected look on kids’ faces when I walk past the nursery at the health clubs where I teach. The face is easy to spot. You will see a child in the nursery who is older than the other kids. Sitting on the small chairs that look like miniature toys under their weight, the older child usually has their head buried into some type of electronic device as they totally ignore all the little kids playing around them. They are there because their parent came to work out or take a class and they did not want to leave their kid, who they felt was not old enough to be home by themselves. Most parents know their child is too old to be stuck in a nursery. I felt like one of those kids as I sat through this comedy horror film.   MADEA, played by Tyler Perry (Alex Cross, Good Deeds) agreed to watch her nephew’s daughter Tiffany, played by Diamond White (Haunted Hathaways-TV, Sing It!-TV), during Halloween. Dealing with an uncooperative child was only a small issue compared to the zombies, poltergeists and creepy clowns Madea would encounter. For the amount of time Tyler has devoted to his Madea character, I would have thought every possible scenario of trouble Madea could find herself in would have been covered. I do not know about this story but I found it redundant. It was the same type of humor and stunts to the point I did not find much to laugh about. With Cassi Davis (House of Payne-TV, Madea’s Big Happy Family) as Aunt Bam and Patrice Lovely (Madea Gets a Job, Love Thy Neighbor-TV) as Hattie, the humor was lost on me. Part of the reason may have been the difficulty in understanding some of the dialog. It was not very clear to me. For those who are fans of Madea you might enjoy this picture. Sitting through this movie was like getting a rotten apple instead of candy for Halloween.

 

1 2/3 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Warcraft

Before I tell you my vivid memory about tasting chocolate for the first time, keep in mind I remember standing up in my crib and figuring out how I could climb out of it. That is as far back as some of my memories go. The chocolate was in the form of a baked cake in a 9X9 metal pan. From my very first bite I was hooked; with a spongy texture and no frosting on top, this first tasting started an avalanche of chocolate items coming into the house. Because I could not reach anything but the lowest shelf in the pantry, I could not reach any of the products like chocolate chip cookies or chocolate syrup that were kept on the higher shelves, without asking someone to get them for me. At the time I was around 1 ½ to 2 years old. Some may call it an obsession, I call it personal preference; but from that time whenever I am given the option I will always choose the one that has chocolate in it. I do not think I am unusual in this regards; don’t most of us gravitate towards things that give us pleasure or make us feel good? Example, one of my favorite musicals is Les Miserables. After seeing it for the first time, I had to own the soundtrack; then when the movie came out I had to own a copy of the DVD. Though different venues may not always work I enjoy when one of my favorite pastimes expands into another format; this is one of the reasons I want to travel to the Harry Potter theme park one day. So you see I can totally understand those who are into video games flocking to see this movie version of the popular game.   DESPERATE to leave their dying planet and find a new place to colonize, the Orc invade the peaceful realm of Azeroth. Losing the conflict meant one side’s total destruction or the other’s extinction. Starring Travis Fimmel (The Experiment, Vikings-TV) as Anduin Lothar, Paula Patton (Deja Vu, 2 Guns) as Garona, Ben Foster (Lone Survivor, 3:10 to Yuma) as Medivh and Toby Kebbell (Wrath of the Titans, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as Durotan/Antonidas; I cannot really say the acting was good or bad because the script presented all of them as 2 dimensional characters. This action adventure’s forte was the special effects. I think everything was CGI; my favorite look was the flying bird like creature. For a fantasy I thought the story was good; it made for perfect escapism. However, after the continuation of similar scenes I felt this film went on for far too long. From the trailer this movie looks like it would be fun and I guess on some level it was, but not enough to keep me thoroughly engaged with the story. And sadly it is obvious by the ending the movie studio is hoping to do a sequel. If that is the case may I suggest they bring in some drama, surprise and better dialog to bring in more than just gamers.

 

1 2/3 stars          

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Exposed

“Use it or lose it” is one of my favorite things to say to people. In my fitness classes the members have been listening to me say this for years. If we stop working on ourselves how will we continue to move and grow, both physically and mentally? From my experiences I know some individuals have an easier time training their body instead of their mind and visa versa. I actually find it is easier to train my body, which is why I work extra hard on using my mind. To me the mind is like any other muscle in the body and it needs to be stimulated so it can continue to thrive and expand. Without going into too much detail my mind was tested at a very young age; you could say trial by fire. Growing up and being overweight, I heard the “F” word a lot to describe my size. I do not remember when it actually started to work but there came a point where I stopped listening to the taunts. Yes, I still would hear it but my mind would not register it. This explains why today I am skilled in being able to shut out different noises and sounds. Where a co-worker may get distracted with an annoying repetitive sound coming out from the warehouse, my mind only hears white noise, if even that. This ability is not limited to just sounds; if the mind is strong enough it can shield a person from certain parts of reality. It has served me well. I see I am not the only one now that I have seen this dramatic movie.    WHEN his partner was found dead Detective Galban, played by Keanu Reeves (John Wick, The Matrix franchise), was determined to find the killer. With the trail of clues not adding up and no one claiming to have seen anything, Detective Galban was positive there had to be someone out in the city who could provide him with the answers. This film which also had Mira Sorvino (The Replacement Killers, Mimic) as Janine Cullen and Ana de Armas (Sex, Party and Lies; The Boarding School-TV) as Isabel de la Cruz had a film noir flavor to it at first. I thought Ana was a compelling actress and found her role the most interesting. In a short amount of time the story broke down and became a jumble of sub-stories. From its film noir look it started to become a surreal fantasy type of story before trying to be more like a true detective story. I kept waiting for something to happen as the script randomly offered these little pieces of information that were not tying up the scenes; I started to wonder what was the point the writers were trying  to convey to the viewers. Also, I have to say Keanu was more stiff than usual in this role. One could blame it all on the editing, the writing, the direction or all of the above; it does not matter. As I type the last word to my review I will forget about this discombobulated piece of work.

 

1 2/3 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Choice

I do not think the layout of a store is necessarily an engineering feat, more like a psychological one in my opinion. Think about the ease consumers have these days; no matter where one may be, they can walk into the same brand of store and immediately know which aisles they need to stop in. Sure some stores may have slight differences in decorations or signage, but I am sure there is a reason why the stores are laid out in a particular way. I assume you have heard the term “mindless eating?” It is when one is not giving any thought to what they are putting in their mouth; an example would be those huge buckets of popcorn one sits with in the movie theater. Being so engrossed into the film hopefully, one doesn’t pay attention to the amount of popcorn they have eaten. Well the same thing can be said for “mindless shopping.” The way the store gets laid out, the end of the aisles known as “end caps” has either visual significance or price leaders to entice shoppers to stop and pickup the product. Now throughout the store the owners place sale items like small oases to get the consumer to travel from one side of the building to the other. When I go to the grocery store I do not have to think about what I want; I always go with a shopping list and because I am so familiar with the layout, I can quickly make my way through without much thought. It really is a simple process that does not need much effort on my part. I can say it was the same way watching this latest Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, A Walk to Remember) movie.    TRAVIS, played by Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), tried all of his pickup lines on the new neighbor Gabby, played by Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies, I am Number Four), but she was having none of it. As far as she was concerned he was a jerk. I really do not think I have to say anything else because those of you who are at all familiar with a Nicholas Sparks movie will already know the outcome. This dramatic romance followed the same formula as his previous films. In fact, I felt this one was one of the worst. The story followed the same, shall we say, outline to each of his films: the main characters either dislike each other or have issues; there is a hospital scene or tragic event, understanding parents and a tearjerker scene. Regarding this film I felt there was no chemistry between Benjamin and Teresa. The only acting worth mentioning was by Tom Wilkinson (Belle, Michael Clayton) as Shep. If you have never read or seen a Nicholas Sparks story or want a good cry then you may be interested in this movie. The rest of you would be better off skipping this film and go do some mindless shopping.

 

1 2/3 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The 5th Wave

The discovery shocks your system and obliterates the minutia floating in your mind. You only have one focus and that is to find the thing you lost. It is such a horrible feeling when you lose something, I know. I stopped to pick up my paycheck at one health club that was on the way to my cycle class. Parking in their lot I locked the door of my car with the remote lock on my keychain then stuffed the keys in my coat pocket. I ran into the club, stopped at the front desk to say hello, got my check and went back outside. This was all in a matter of minutes. As I was walking towards my car I started to fish my car keys out from my pocket, but there was nothing there. This did not immediately register in my brain because I knew I had put my keys in my coat pocket. I took off my glove and tried again but the pocket was empty. Now my brain fired up with these thoughts: where were my car keys, I had to get to class, my workout clothes were locked in the car, and how I would get the car door open. I retraced every step with my head hung over as I continuously scanned the ground for my keys. Just before I had to turn into the front doors I saw an indentation in the snow. At first glance I thought someone did not pick up after their pet since it was dark against the white snow, enough said. Looking closer it was my keys; they must have fallen out as I was running into the club and I did not hear them drop in the snow. Because of the adrenaline rush by the time I walked into my class I was already exhausted. I do not know how the main character kept going in this science fiction action film.    WITH the earth experiencing 4 waves of alien induced calamities Cassie Sullivan, played by Chloe Grace Moretz (The Equalizer, Hugo), had only one thing to do and that was to find her brother Sam, played by Zackary Arthur (Transparent-TV). This adventure film was lucky to have Chloe star in it. Also, it was good to have Liev Schreiber (Spotlight, Pawn Sacrifice) play Colonel Vosch. That is all I can say about this dull movie. I sat through most of it trying to figure out which scenes reminded me of previous movies; this was a boring experience. The special effects were nothing special as was the story. Maybe the idea was good but the writers did nothing to distinguish themselves from the previous YA movies of the same genre. Even after reading this you still want to see this picture you better hurry because I believe it will be quickly lost in the mix and I personally would not be upset.

 

1 2/3 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

I always know what to expect whenever I stop at one of these places. The only time I go to one is when I am out of town on vacation. You see when I am exploring a new area I do not want to spend time sitting down at a restaurant, waiting for someone to take my order and then having to wait further for my food to come to my table. This is why I will quickly grab something at a fast food establishment. I save eating at a local restaurant for dinner time. The only time I partake in fast food is when I am traveling out of state. If I have planned my day full of activities and sightseeing, I do not want to spend a lot of time taking in food. To me food is just fuel to continue my pace for the afternoon. The reason I eat fast food is because no matter where I am the meal is reliable; there are no surprises, nor do I have to think about how my body is going to react to something foreign. However, based on recent news there are reasons to worry about certain foods we eat these days. The meal is quick and adequate; I do not have to devote any thought to it, just consume and get out of the place. I know actually what to expect whenever I venture into such restaurants. I see my logic can be applied to other areas of interest, such as movie franchises.    AFRAID Dave, played by Jason Lee (Chasing Amy, My Name is Earl-TV), was going to leave them once he proposed to Samantha, played by Kimberly Williams (Father of the Bride franchise, We are Marshall), Alvin and his brothers decided to follow Dave to Miami to stop the proposal. From the very beginning of this film I knew what to expect from the story. There was going to be the same type of humor, similar big song and dance numbers and an antagonist; in this case it was Tony Hale (Stranger Than Fiction, The Heat) as Agent Suggs. With the addition of Josh Green (Fair Haven, The Girl in the Book) as Miles, the story was set and off went the chipmunks. There was essentially nothing new to this latest installment of the franchise. Little children should still enjoy it though there were a couple of scenes that may not be appropriate for them. Except for one good dance number I was bored through a majority of this picture. I found it pretty predictable for the most part, besides the repetitive use of some sight gags. It seems to me this franchise is just following the same formula setup from the past films; there was nothing new or different. As long as the viewer knows what to expect once they get into the theater, I guess this movie serves some kind of a purpose.

 

1 2/3 stars

 

 

 

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