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Flash Movie Review: Cinderella

CLASSIC STORIES ARE SOMETHING I CAN revisit again and again. During my school years, I wound up reading Moby Dick three times. I am not sure I can even define what constitutes being a classic, but at least I know a classic story has the ability to emotionally move a person. Love plays a prominent role in many classics. For example, My Fair Lady was based on the George Bernard Shaw play, Pygmalion and The King and I was based on Margaret Landon’s novel, Anna and the King of Siam, which was based on the memoirs of the governess to the children of the King of Siam. One of my favorite stories is Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. I do not remember if I read the story or not in school; however, my most vivid memory was seeing the movie directed by Franco Zeffirelli. It was a special showing that was being done in only one theater in the city. A friend joined me as we had to take the train down to go see the movie. To this day, I remember the theater because it was a big classic theater that had these art deco lamps hanging down from the lobby ceiling. To get to the balcony, there was a red carpeted staircase with gold-colored bannisters that curved up to the 2nd level. Because I loved the story of Romeo and Juliet, I knew I was going to equally love the movie West Side Story which was based on Shakespeare’s story.      AS YOU CAN SEE, I DO not have an issue with new movies coming out that were based on previous movies/stories. It can be fun to see a story told through a different set of eyes. In some cases, the movie gets remade because there is technology available to enhance the story that was not available when the story first came out in film. For me, some of the successful remakes have been A Star is Born, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Departed. However, as most of us know, there are also remade films that were disastrous. Off the top of my head, I can think of The Stepford Wives, House of Wax and Guess Who. I know when the original movie is idolized, it is hard to try and remake or update the story. It would be best if the movie studio doesn’t refer to the original movie at all; let their new creation come out with any false expectations. With today’s film it did not take me long to decide which category this remake falls in.      IN THIS RETELLING OF THE CLASSIC fairy tale, Cinderella has a dream to become a dressmaker. Marriage is not something she was focusing on. With musical artist Camila Cabello as Cinderella, Billy Porter (Like a Boss, Pose-TV) as Fabulous Godmother, Nicholas Galitzine (High Strung, The Changeover) as Prince Robert, Idina Menzel (Uncut Gems, Glee-TV) as Vivian and Pierce Brosnan (False Positive, Mamma Mia! franchise) as King Rowan; this comedic family fantasy took the original story of Cinderella and added a layer of female empowerment to it. I would not have an issue with this update; however, the script was a big misfire that dulled the delivery of the story. Though the musical numbers by themselves were fun to watch, they seemed so out of place to me because of the modern songs. Here was the perfect case not to associate this picture with the classic Cinderella. There were cringeworthy scenes that were painful to watch. The other thing that I felt diminished the telling of this story was the lack of chemistry between the characters. The whole appearance of the cast seemed flat to me. With the music and special effects, this movie might appeal to a narrow range of viewers.

1 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Reminiscence

I MISS DIALING A PHONE NUMBER and speaking to an actual person. The amount of time it takes these days to get a hold of someone seems as if it is getting longer and longer. Going through the different prompts feels like I am being tested to see how long it will take before my patience wears out. Not that I am totally old-fashioned; but I get frustrated when I must contact companies and offices for something, I think will have an easy answer then jump through automated verbal hoops. On the other hand, it is a breeze to check on my bank balance with the bank’s automated system without having to speak to a bank employee. I have similar feelings about the self-service checkout lanes at the grocery store. If I do not have coupons, I will use the self-service lanes. However, if I am using a coupon then I use the regular checkout lanes. The reason being at the self-service I have to wait for an employee to come over and approve my coupons then override the computer screen to allow me to scan the coupons. By the time I get through this process my ice cream usually has softened.      THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE I KNOW who are emotionally locked to their past, when it comes to their love relationships. I had a friend who was living with the love of their life for several years, before their love took ill and died. My friend never got over it, mourning them for years. After what seemed a long, long time they agreed to go on a blind date; however, it went no further after the initial meeting. There were several dates to follow with various suitable individuals; but like that first blind date, all of them went no further than the one and only date. My friend kept saying none of the people they were meeting could compare to their deceased partner. I tried offering that it probably was difficult to make a comparison from only having one date. My musings fell on deaf ears. They preferred to live in the past and I say that because after a time I would have thought my friend would have started to dispose of their love’s clothes and personal items. They did no such thing; instead, they left everything the way it was when they were alive. A hairbrush remained in the medicine cabinet; their toothbrush stayed in the toothbrush holder. I felt sad for them, similar to how I felt initially about the private investigator in this romantic mystery.      WHEN HE FIRST MET HER WHEN she walked into his place, private investigator Nick Bannister, played by Hugh Jackman (Bad Education, The Front Runner), had no idea that finding her lost keys would lead him to a crime. With Rebecca Ferguson (Doctor Sleep, The Kid Who Would Be King) as Mae, Thandiwe Newton (The Pursuit of Happyness, Vanishing on 7thStreet) as Emily “Watts” Sanders, Cliff Curtis (Risen, The Dark Horse) as Cyrus Boothe and Marina de Tavira (Roma, Secondary Effects) as Tamara Sylvan; this futuristic film noir production was enticing to watch. I thought the sets stood out as well as the outside Miami area. The first half of the story drew me in as the mystery was building. The pacing fit the story as the actors, who were stiff with their acting, tried to bring their characters to life. Sadly, the script did not help them. Unfortunately, the last half of the story got bogged down with twists and turns, past and present; to the point I lost interest. It bothered me because I enjoyed the visuals and the mystery portion of this picture. The other thing that absolutely annoyed me had to do with seeing a person’s memories that were being shown from an outside perspective. I can look back at a memory but if it is being pulled from my mind to relive, how could there be a different perspective that I did not see back then? This was not the way I remembered the past.                      

1 3/4 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Awake

I DID NOT BELIEVE IT WHEN I was younger, but it is true; time does go by faster as we get older. There never seems to be enough days in the week, nor minutes in the day, for me to get everything I want done. At one time, I was able to easily stay awake to 4-5:00 in the morning. Now, if I am home and the 10pm news comes on I can feel my body settle into a state of slumber. What happened?!?! In my defense I will say though I might not get home until early in the morning after being out all night; as soon as I walked through the door, I had to go straight to bed. In college, I had friends who could stay up all night studying for a test, drink something with caffeine, go straight to the classroom to take the test, then come home at some point by lunch time to crash into bed. I was never one of those students. Once I went past midnight, my eyes would slowly stop focusing on the words and numbers in a book and my mind started to turn into a helium filled balloon tied outdoors, that was about to slip free from its knot and blow away in the wind. I wanted to stay up, but my body would not let me.      SOME YEARS AFTER GRADUATING, I WOUND up working with someone who was able to survive on only 4 to 5 hours of sleep; I had no idea how they ever did it. Once in awhile they would have to “make-up” for what I considered to be the sleep loss, by sleeping 12 hours straight on a Saturday or Sunday. Still, I never knew how they could function in their job with what I considered to be so little sleep. My average sleep time has always been 7 hours; the larger the gap between my early wake up time and average, the foggier I become. Considering all the things I do; I wish I could handle from time to time less sleep, but my body is not wired for it. I am also a person who cannot easily take a nap during the day. The rare times it has happened, I usually feel groggy the rest of the day. And of course, I have a couple of friends who can settle into any piece of furniture, close their eyes and immediately go into a deep sleep. I thought of them in particular as I watched this dramatic, science fiction adventure.     AFTER A CATASTROPHIC EVENT WIPED OUT all electronic usage, people began to notice they could not fall asleep. That is except for Jill’s, played by Gina Rodriguez (Deepwater Horizon, Jane the Virgin-TV), daughter who could sleep and dream. With Ariana Greenblatt (Love and Monsters) as Matilda, Lucius Hoyos (What If, Heroes Reborn-TV) as Noah, Shamier Anderson (Race, City of Lies) as Dodge and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Good Time, Kill Your Darlings) as Dr. Murphy; this action movie had an interesting premise to build on. I thought Gina gave it a good shot with her acting; but the script never lived up to the story. Things were predictable and where I thought scenes were going to become thrilling and tense, they just petered out. There was a heaviness to the directing along with several scenes just being clunky. This could have been such a better movie if more time had been devoted to fleshing out the characters and bringing in some thrills. Overall, there was an amateur feel to the whole production that left me disengaged from time to time. One scene would be exciting, then another would be blah. Maybe the people behind this story and film’s production suffered the same loss as the people in this movie—a lack of sleep that affected their judgment.

1 ¾ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Ice Road

WHEN THE TEMPERATURE IS JUST RIGHT and the packed snow begins to melt, I am left with a wading pool of water in my backyard. It is especially annoying because the melted snow pools mostly on the sidewalk because it is now lower than the grass. When it is frozen the ice can support my weight when I walk across it. However, when the temperature starts to rise, I feel like I am gambling each time I step on the ice. Sometimes I may be walking on it and all that happens is a few cracks form where I have stepped. But every now and then I may get halfway across the ice before my foot breaks through and cold melted snow fills the inside of my shoes. Ironically, I play that movie line in my head by asking myself how lucky I feel before I get on the ice. If I have the time I will use a shovel to toss some of the water back onto the lawn; however, by the time I get home afterwards the water has come back, waiting to capture and douse my shoes once again. If you are wondering why I don’t just walk on the lawn, I usually cannot because the grass is so wet that I am nearly stepping into a muddy mixture; or, there still plenty of snow that has not melted yet.      DUE TO THIS WINTER WATER TORTURE I have dealt with, I cannot believe the people who tempt fate by walking onto frozen bodies of water. I am not talking about the ice one forms in their backyard with a water hose or frozen puddles in the street; I am referring to things like ponds, lakes and rivers. Living near a large lake, when we have experienced below freezing temperatures the lake portion that is closer to the shore can freeze over. I understand the fascination with being able to “walk on water” so to speak; but unless one is certain the ice will withstand their weight, I do not understand why they venture onto it. Even if I knew the depth of the water at the edges was minute, I have no desire to go walking on top of a frozen lake. Then again, I do not even like being outside in the cold. It always surprises me to see how many people want to experience walking on ice. I have seen them standing there taking selfies of themselves and all I can wonder is what they would do if they fell through the ice. The same can be said for the main characters in this action adventure drama; I cannot believe they willingly do what they do over frozen water.      WITH MINERS TRAPPED IN A REMOTE CANADIAN mine, the only way to bring lifesaving equipment to them was by truck over a frozen body of water, just as the weather was getting warmer. With Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Run All Night) as Mike, Marcus Thomas (Kill the Irishman, Drowning Mona) as Gurty, Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Contagion) as Goldenrod, Amber Midthunder (Hell or High Water, Legion-TV) as Tantoo and Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as Varnay; this movie had to be made with Liam in mind. It was another typical Liam as the hero movie. Now that is fine; however, after seeing him in these same types of roles, it becomes easier to figure out how the story will play out. I will say I was surprised there were parts of this film that were thrilling to me. It overall was quite predictable and at one point it seemed to me it was getting too silly and I do not mean that in a funny way. If one is looking to find something where much thought is not needed, then this picture would be one to watch. I would say on a cold, snowy day when you do not want to leave your home. 

1 ¾ stars     

Flash Movie Review: Earwig and the Witch

THE WOMAN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS old looking, but I did not know she was ancient. I was working on creating a wall of family photos and the photograph of her was sent to me. When I first got it, I had no idea who she was or the younger woman who was standing next to her in the photo. When I found out, I was absolutely blown away; she was my great, great, great grandmother. The woman standing next to her was my great, great aunt. I kept staring at the photograph because I could not believe I was looking at someone who was connected to me from such a long time ago. And when I say a long time ago, when doing the math, I mean she was alive when Napoleon invaded Russia, hence the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. This small and frail looking woman was seated in a chair or stool with her arms folded in her lap. Her clothing looked like it could swallow her up; the skirt hung down to the floor and her jacket or sweater was dark and long as well. She had a scarf tied around her head as if she were about to go outside, though the sepia colored photo showed her to be inside. I could only imagine what kind of life she must have lived, but because of her I was here.      DESPITE NOT KNOWING SOME OF THE relatives in the photographs I have in my possession, I feel a connection to all the people. It is a weird feeling that I do not know if I can explain but looking at all the relatives in the photos had the effect of centering or grounding me. I felt like I had tapped into my roots; I was not some transient who floats from one thing to the next without having a “home base” to return to. Maybe another way I can explain it is by saying my life story, though it is unique to me, shared common ground with the stories from all of these relatives, whether they are deceased of alive. This reminds me of another photograph I got that has 5 relatives in it. I found out that this particular photograph used to be quite famous in the family because it was the first and maybe only one that depicts 5 generations of the family in one photograph. Each one of them has played a part in laying the groundwork for me and my generation of relatives; I just find that so amazing. I know I am lucky that I can have a history with individuals who share the same bloodline as me. It is one of the reasons why I understood what the main character was going through in this animated fantasy film.      GROWING UP IN AN ORPHANAGE AND seeing her friends being adopted, only made Earwig, voiced by relative newcomer Taylor Henderson, wish for a family of her own. There was a chance her wish could be fulfilled when an odd couple came calling on the orphanage one day. With JB Blanc (Breaking Bad-TV, Bleach-TV) voicing Mr. Jenkins, Thomas Bromhead (I Got a Rocket-TV, Forest of Piano-TV) voicing the cook, Richard E. Grant (Hudson Hawk, Gosford Park) voicing the Mandrake and Vanessa Marshall (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy-TV, Young Justice-TV) voicing Bella Yaga; this film festival winner was Studio Ghibli’s first foray into using CGI in their animation. In some instances, it worked but other times I was underwhelmed by the animation. I could say the same thing for the script. For an animated film, I found this one to be dull and uninspired. The way the story ended was awful and there was nothing fun or enchanting about the story. I do not know if even small children would care for this picture. If I were Earwig, I think I would have spent more time wishing for a way to get out of this movie.

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Silencing

I HAD NOTHING TO OFFER FOR advice except to tell her she would have to let go. It was easy to say but I knew it was a hard thing to do because I had been in the same situation as her. My friend was upset because a close friend of hers had suddenly stopped talking to her. I asked her if they had gotten into an argument or disagreement, but she said not at all as far as she knew. One day they were talking on the phone like they normally have done and then one day her friend stopped returning those phone calls. My friend texted her and when that did not produce any results, she emailed her to ask if she had done something to hurt her feelings. Her requests were met with dead silence. Now she knew her friend had not died because her work phone was still accepting voice messages and her recorded greeting was being updated every day with the new date. My friend said she would rather have been told off or called names or given any type of acknowledgment, that it would have been better than not giving a reason for the silent treatment. I agreed with her; I had experienced it with someone I had been seeing.     WE HAD BEEN DATING FOR 3-4 months. I remember our last date was when I was invited to meet them at their place of business. They took me around to introduce me to their co-workers. A week later my calls and texts were going unanswered. I replayed in my mind the visit to their workplace, to see if there was something I said or did that triggered one of the co-workers to say something negative about me. Nothing came to mind, I thought I was cordial and pleasant. It was frustrating not to get a reason why our relationship was ending. In the past whenever I was breaking up with someone, I always made it a point to tell them face to face, or at least tell them on the telephone. To not give a reason and simply ignore the person is something I consider rude and, in some instances, cowardly. I have always told my friends I would rather have someone call me names to my face or tell me they can’t stand something I do than simply say nothing and walk away. Dealing with the unknown is harder than dealing with the reality of a situation. And I know everyone handles such a thing differently. The main character in this action, crime thriller had his own way of dealing with the unknown.      WITH HIS PROPERTY UNDER CAMERA SURVEILLANCE, a hunter spots a trespasser. Going out to check it would begin a dangerous game of cat and mouse. With Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Gods of Egypt, Game of Thrones-TV) as Rayburn, Caleb Ellsworth-Clark (The Handmaid’s Tale-TV, Wynonna Earp-TV) as taller brother, Josh Cruddas (Anything for Jackson, Business Ethics) as shorter brother, Annabelle Wallis (Tag, Annabelle franchise) as Gustafson and Zahn McClarnon (Doctor Sleep, Strike One) as Blackhawk; this movie’s story started with a good idea, albeit not quite original. There were elements to this film that I liked; however, there really was nothing new presented within it. The cast was okay though Nikolaj was the only one who stood out for me. My overall impression of this picture was that it was done on the cheap. I honestly cannot imagine it ever opening at a movie theater; it came across as something I would have found on TV while channel surfing late at night. The characters were never properly developed and the intensity was not strong enough in my opinion. Chances are some viewers may get a slight thrill out of a couple of scenes; but overall, this movie will quickly fade from your thoughts afterwards.

1 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Woman in the Window

OUTSIDE OF MY BEDROOM WINDOW, I was able to see buildings from four blocks away. We lived on a high third floor of an apartment building. The reason I say “high” was due to the first-floor entrance and lobby was not considered a separate floor. You would have to walk up a full flight of stairs from the lobby to reach what was considered the first floor of apartments. We were the only apartment building on our side of the block; there were however 2 others that were on the opposite side of our square city block. I had an unobstructed view, starting with a row of residential houses and their backyards. During the warmer months, I considered myself the silent guest who watched birthday parties and barbeques that took place in the neighbors’ backyards. As a little boy, I made a mental note on the different games party guests played at birthday parties. Part of the reason was me trying to figure out what were the popular games and how to play them, then figure out what were the best ways to try and win at them. During the winter months, only when the backyards were empty; I would see how far I could throw snowballs from out back porch.      AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OR SO A developer bought up the row of houses from their owners and built a large four storied apartment building. I was crushed as I watched the building being built, even though I was fascinated by the workmen mixing cement and laying brick. My view was going to be obstructed by a big white rectangular building. After construction was done and landscaping put in, the apartments were quickly rented out. With rows of new windows facing our apartment, I quickly got over my sadness for my lost view. Suddenly, I had multiple people living next door to me, living their daily lives. I felt I was getting a glimpse into a person’s life when I saw one apartment dweller exercising in their living room. Another neighbor cooked volumes of food everyday for her family. I could not get over the amount of pots and pans she used in her meal preparations. Before you get to thinking that I was getting obsessed with watching my neighbors, I have to explain there was little chance to avoid them because the apartments were in clear view whenever I was sitting at the dining room table or when I was watching television. Our TV set had a bank of windows behind it; so, while watching TV, I would see movement taking place in my field of vision. Yes, it was a distraction. I am just grateful I never saw the things the main character saw in this dramatic, crime mystery.      HAVING NUMBED HERSELF THE PAST SEVERAL months with pills and alcohol; the reclusive homeowner Anna Fox, played by Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy, Nocturnal Animals), saw something outside of her window that forced her to take some kind of action. With Fred Hechinger (Eighth Grade, News of the World) as Ethan Russell, Gary Oldman (Mank, Darkest Hour) as Alistar Russell, Julianne Moore (After the Wedding, Still Alice) as Jane Russell and Wyatt Russell (Overlord, 22 Jump Street) as David; this movie was a poor tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s film, Rear Window; if indeed that is what it was trying to do. I thought the acting was admirable, but the script and direction turned this picture into a messy pile of scenes. There were times I thought the film was going to be a psychological drama, only for it to change direction and become a scary thriller. The injection of the same repetitive snowy scene over and over was a complete distraction for me. I am sure the novel this movie was based on is much better. The only thing I can say about this misfire it that I am glad I am not a neighbor of these people. There were scenes with blood and violence.                    

1 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse

WHETHER IT WAS RIGHT OR WRONG, I felt a sense of betrayal. Having worked at the company for many years, there was a sense of family amongst the employees. I had worked my way up through a few departments before I settled into a management position. We came from different backgrounds and places, but we all shared a common goal; we wanted our company to be the best. The company had another location out of state that was headed by a relative of the owner. I knew most of their employees by name but had only seen a couple of them when they flew in for business meetings. We had 3 competitors who had their corporate headquarters in the same city as us; so, it was especially “sweet” when we would get a large order that all of us had bid on. I do not know if it was true or not, but I heard the outside salespeople from each company, including ours, were ruthless to each other. Not to their faces, but they would do things like throw away the sample books from a competing company or hide them while placing their books in a prominent location. I knew each of us bought our inventory from the same manufacturers and what sealed the sale was price and customer service.      I SAW MYSELF RETIRING FROM THIS company. That is why it was so hard for me to be told the company was filing for bankruptcy. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I could not understand for what reason was the company closing its doors. As far as I could see we were doing everything we were supposed to do. Many of the employees were there longer than me; some only had a few years left until retirement and now they did not know what was going to happen to them for their remaining years. Unemployment can only take one so far, then what? I put my trust in the company; showing up to work on time each day, getting our customers’ issues resolved and yet all of sudden my life was going into freefall. This is why I felt betrayed. I worked hard and appreciated the rewards I received in the process. I had put my trust in this company and for whatever reason, I was being terminated. The dreams and hopes I had based on my employment had to be put on hold. Not that my job defined who I was; however, it was something I took pride in. My feelings of broken trust and betrayal, though on a different scale, is what I connected to with the main character in this action, adventure thriller.      WHEN HIS LAST MISSION TURNED OUT different from what he expected, a growing suspicion made John Kelly, played by Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther, Just Mercy), question the orders he was receiving. It would take death to get him to find the answers. With Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen & Slim, The Last Ship-TV) as Karen Greer, Jamie Bell (Rocketman, Fantastic Four) as Robert Ritter, Guy Pearce (The Last Vermeer, The Rover) as Secretary Clay and Lauren London (Baggage Claim, This Christmas) as Pam Kelly; this movie was a reboot for the franchise. The action scenes were for the most part exciting and I especially enjoyed the performances from Michael and Jodie. However, the script was confusing and sloppy to me. The characters in general were a bit boring at times and I felt the excitement level needed to be amped up. Another negative to this picture was how it was filmed; there were multiple scenes that were so dark I could not make out much detail. I think with a better script Michael could do justice to the franchise. In the meantime, there was an extra scene placed in the middle of the ending credits.

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Ava

I DO NOT REMEMBER HOW OLD I was at the time; but I do remember I ate the whole thing. It was the first time I had been to one of those ice cream shops where you serve yourself. They had my favorite type of ice cream, soft serve that comes out of a machine in a long tubular shape. As soon as I saw the machine, I grabbed one of the larger sized cups. Even in my thrilled state I did have the sense to realize that the cup I was holding was much larger than the average “large” cup; I stopped filling it up just past the halfway mark. From there I walked down to the toppings station. As I scanned the assortment of treats, I felt I was at a dessert sweet table at a wedding reception because there were so many choices. I think because I had control over the amount of toppings, I could put on my ice cream, my brain went a little haywire; please do not judge me. If memory serves me, I spooned on chocolate sprinkles, crushed cookies, chocolate and peanut butter chips, candy coated chocolate candies and for extra crunch, some granola. By the time I was done my cup was completely full. I walked up to the checkout counter where the employee took my cup and weighed it! This was new to me; I had never had my ice cream order weighed before. My creation costed me $21.36.      MY SUGAR HIGH LASTED WELL INTO the night from my ice cream creation, or should I say massacre? When I finally crashed, I came down hard, feeling tired and lethargic. First of all, I had never spent that much on ice cream before and that included the gallon size containers from the grocery store. Everything was fresh and tasted good; however, when they were all mixed into the ice cream their individual flavors got lost. I was essentially eating crunchy chocolate with a hint of peanut butter. The sprinkles that remind me of my youth were lost within the meteor shower of sugary chunks. I learned a valuable lesson: less is more. If I would have focused on one or two toppings, I could have savored their individuality, for example chocolate sprinkles and peanut butter chips. It is true what they say, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Sure, I chose all my favorite toppings, but I could have been smarter about it. And I certainly know it would have been cheaper for me! This lesson is something the writers needed to learn before creating this action, crime drama film.      COOL AND EFFICIENT IS HOW ONE would describe trained assassin Ava, played by Jessica Chasten (Miss Sloane, Molly’s Game). After one job went wrong, she got a new description, Wanted. Her survival would depend on her skills. With John Malkovich (Bird Box, RED franchise) as Duke, Common (Suicide Squad, The Hate U Give) as Michael, Geena Davis (Marjorie Prime, Thelma & Louise) as Bobbi and Jess Weixler (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby franchise, The Good Wife-TV) as Judy; this story had the good fortune to have such a talented cast. However, the cast could not help with the piecemeal story lines which there were too many of. I felt pieces of other action films were put into the script and they did not play well together. The action scenes in this picture were decent but that only went so far before the heavy script slowed things down. There was nothing new or exciting in this story; as I was watching this movie, there were multiple scenes that reminded me of different films I had seen before. In its entirety, this was not a well thought out movie; there was way too much involved and not enough long-lasting excitement.

1 ¾ stars      

Flash Movie Review: The Bravest

I WATCHED HIM DILIGENTLY AND DELIBERATELY outline each space that had the number 1 inside of it. My relative was using paint from a small container that was labeled with the same number 1. He first traced the outline of a space with the paint before filling it in. Once he completed all the number 1 spaces, he went on to doing the same thing to all the number 2 areas. It was my first time seeing someone paint by number. He had only gotten the paint kit as a birthday gift a couple of days ago; but to me, he looked like he was an expert painter. I sat and watched as the canvas in front of him took on more colors. To me it looked like the colored spaces were jigsaw pieces that were getting closer to completing the puzzle. Surprisingly, I started to recognize what he was drawing; it was a scene of Buckingham Palace with the Queen’s Guard out in front. There was a part of me that wished I had a paint by number kit because I would have liked to try a different way of painting. Most of my paintings were abstract or landscape scenes because I had a hard time drawing people; I wanted them to look real like a photograph. I was even a perfectionist back then.      I WOULD NOT SEE THE COMPLETED painting until my next visit to my relative’s house. My relative had done a great job of painting because there wasn’t a place where he drew over the line; everything looked exact and precise. If I had not known my relative used a paint by number kit to create the painting, I would have thought they had drawn it on a blank canvas. Don’t get me wrong, my relative did an amazing job; however, for me the painting did not look as realistic as I had expected. I guess I was hoping it would have appeared just as clear as a postcard or photograph, especially since there was no freeform sketching involved. Having gotten a camera for a birthday gift, I was very much into taking photos. Whether it was of people, landscapes or objects; I enjoyed setting up the framing for a photograph. I had thoughts of asking for a paint by number kit for my birthday; but, after seeing the final results I decided I did not really need it. Drawing from imagination and photography were better suited for me. When I saw this film festival winner, I had a similar reaction of disappointment.      A GROUP OF FIREMEN HAD THE battle of their lives on hand when a fire broke out at an oil refinery; a refinery that was situated too close to a major population center. With Xiaoming Huang (The Message, Ip Man 2) as Jiang Liwei, Jiang Du (Last Letter, Operation Red Sea) as Ma Weiguo, Zhuo Tan (Gone with the Light, Dying to Survive) as Li Fang, Zi Yang (Bodies at Rest, Ode to Joy-TV) as Wang Lu and Hao Ou (The Captain, The Left Ear) as Xu Xiaobin; this dramatic, action thriller had a typical storyline for this genre. There were many scenes with big pyrotechnic productions and blasts; however, I do not know if it was the dubbed English or not that made the acting come across cartoonish. The script was easy to figure out, though there were a few touching scenes that added a touch of newness to the oft used storyline. While I was viewing this film, I kept thinking the writers and producers were trying to get a Hollywood disaster picture wannabe. If you are one who can find entertainment in just seeing special effects and things blowing up, then you might be fine watching this picture. After I finished seeing this film, I wished I had found my old copy of The Towering Inferno. Mandarin was spoken with English subtitles/dubbing.

1 ¾ stars      

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