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Flash Movie Review: See How They Run

I WAS NEVER VERY GOOD AT playing mystery games like Clue. Of all the times I played it, I only won the game once. The same holds true for those immersive, staged mystery house events. Though they are exciting and fun, I do not focus on seeking out who is the killer; I am having such a fun time with the experience, along with the visuals and acting, that I get lost into it. In other words, I immerse myself, hence an immersive production. LOL There is something about seeing, what I would consider, average/innocuous events that later turn out to be vital clues to the identity of the murderer. This also applies to mystery books and movies; the way they can pull one into their story and take them on this wild trail of events has always impressed me. As I have been working on this review it has occurred to me, I was a guest at a dinner party where all the guests had to assume the identity of a famous individual. Throughout the meal there were six of us seated around the dining room table; some were talking with an accent and others were conversing with a different sounding voice. I was a well-known television star, so I periodically dropped clues about the type of shirt I was wearing and the landscape of the area I lived in on the TV series. It was not until we were eating dessert before someone correctly guessed my character.      WITH MY LOVE OF MYSTERIES, THE one and only time I was in London, England I wanted to see the play The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie. I remember how excited I was to see it, both because it was a murder mystery, and it was being staged in London’s famous West End district. The production checked off all my expectations. And the “piece de resistance” occurred at the end of the show when a cast member came out on stage to ask everyone in the audience to keep secret who was the killer. I thought this was so cool because I felt like I was suddenly part of the production, and my job was not to reveal the murderer. I want you to know I never did reveal the identity of the killer. I find it fascinating that after all these years I am now reviewing a dramatic comedy murder that incorporates The Mousetrap into its story.      PLANS WERE IN PLACE TO BRING the play The Mousetrap to the big screen. However, when a cast member was found dead, things had to be placed on hold as an investigation was to take place. The inspector would soon discover it was not easy dealing with theater people. With Adrien Brody (The French Dispatch, American Heist) as Leo Kopernick, David Oyelowo (The Water Man, A United Kingdom) as Mervyn Cocker-Norris, Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots, Little Women) as Constable Stalker, Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Best of Enemies) as Inspector Stoppard and Harris Dickinson (The King’s Man, Beach Rats) as Richard Attenborough; this story based in the 1950s London had all the markings of being a classic “whodunit” type of thriller. The cast filled with well rounded, capable actors were well matched with their characters. I thought the sets and costumes were spot on, giving a perfect retro feel to the story. Sadly, it did not take much detective work to discover the script was a big letdown as was the directing. Things seemed to drag for the first half of the film. Where I normally admire Sam Rockwell’s acting skills, here he seemed to have gotten lost. There was no emotional variance to the scenes which I found boring. Weirdly, I thought Wes Anderson was directing because it certainly was his type of style; but it was not the case. I almost feel like I need to do some detective work to discover who allowed this production to go forward because it really is a mystery to me.     

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Samaritan

WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY, there were people in my life who I thought were heroes. They just were not superheroes like the ones I read about in the comic books. There was this man in the neighborhood who I thought was the strongest human. He used his backyard as a workshop, so I would see him lifting and carrying these large and heavy planks of wood. The fastest runner in the neighborhood I thought was a boy who had the grace of an animal when he ran. It was not until I was older before I encountered individuals who I would classify as superheroes. I met a retired nurse who had helped in the delivery of every baby born in the town she lived in. That also included the pregnancies that had complications. If that was not enough, she found the time to walk at least two miles a day, despite having two cracked vertebrae in her spine. Coincidently, I encountered an individual who spent a part of each day crocheting baby blankets, which she would donate to various establishments in low-income areas, like day care centers and clinics. These individuals I have described are more of a superhero than those who brag about their accomplishments.      AT A COMPANY I USED TO work at, there was a senior executive who made a point of always mentioning his latest donations to charities. I did not fault him for sending funds to a charitable organization; but honestly, based on his personality I was not sure if he was telling the truth. He was a big braggart who liked to dress in a flashy style. The twisted part about all of this is the fact he was fired for stealing. I never knew if he was stealing from the company to make his donations; but based on my impressions of him, I would not have put it past him. Another employee at the company was someone who I highly respected. They were a survivor from both mental and physical abuse. Their journey led them to the job they had so they could save money to go back to school and become a counselor for people who had suffered a comparable situation to what she had experienced. To me, she was a superhero. We became friendly because we had something in common. It is people like her, who on the outside look unassuming, but inside they make or plan to make a difference in other people’s lives. Though, it seems like it is harder to find superheroes amongst us these days, you might see one in this dramatic, action fantasy.      THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT HIS NEIGHBOR that made Sam Clearly, played by Javon “Wanna” Walton (Euphoria-TV, Utopia-TV), think this man was a deceased superhero. There was only one way to find out. With Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables franchise, Daylight) as Joe, Pilou Asbaek (Ghost in the Shell, Game of Thrones-TV) as Cyrus, Dascha Polanco (In the Heights, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Tiffany Clearly and Sophia Tatum (F9: The Fast Sage, Riverdale-TV) as Sil; the fundamentals of this film were good, but they did not get freshened up to provide a better entertainment experience. I thought Sly did a particularly respectable job of acting. The script starts out trying to draw in the viewer; what gets me immediately is when a person is being picked on. However, the script rolled out in a predictable, generic way. Except for one plot twist, there was nothing else that was done in a new fresh way that could have surprised me. Despite these flaws, I was still able to pay attention for the most part due to the steady pace. If you have a couple of hours to kill and want something light to watch, then this movie can fit the bill. There were several violent, bloody scenes.

 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Beast

IT WAS DIFFICULT NOT TO SEE the news reports concerning a youth and the police. Like most others, I saw the video clips of the police officers subduing the young man. He was running away from them after the vehicle he was in was stopped by the officers. I am not familiar with the tactics police personnel use to restrain/apprehend an individual. One officer was punching the outer thigh of the young man who was on the ground, another kneeled on his chest, and a third one was trying to restrain the fists that were trying to land on anyone of them. I am going to do my best not to get into a discussion on whether it was right or wrong; I was not there and am not familiar with all the circumstances. As can be expected the family was outraged and the mother was interviewed multiple times by various news sources. She wanted the officers fired for the “abuse” they inflicted on her boy. Now let me give you one more detail about this story; the boy was 17 years old, riding with a friend at 2 in the morning (on a weeknight) and in his knapsack, after the police restrained him, they found a loaded handgun. My question to the outraged and distraught parents is, why was their underage son out past curfew, carrying a gun?      THROUGHOUT THE COVERAGE OF THIS INCIDENT, where protesters joined the parents in demanding justice for their son, the news people always mentioned the loaded gun and the police officers’ concerns. I do not deny the scenario is troubling all the way around, but I am troubled about an underage person having a gun. Does blame fall on the parents? It reminded me of the parents who took their children to the zoo. One of the parents climbed over the barrier to a gorilla’s pen for a photo opportunity. Who would think of such a thing and what are they teaching their children? As you would imagine, the gorilla attacked the parent and had to be darted with a tranquilizing drug. When it comes to parenting, I am nowhere near an expert; but I do know there is no handbook that prepares a parent for what will be in store for them with the birth of a child. However, I have said this for years: We need a license to drive a car; I feel a person should be licensed to have a baby. It is such a crucial factor in life, and I have seen many events of extraordinary parenting as well as poor. In this dramatic, horror adventure film, I am not yet sure how I feel about the main character’s parenting skills.      HOPING THE EXPERIENCE WILL BE POSITIVE and memorable, a father takes his daughters on a trip to visit their deceased mother’s childhood village in Africa. It would be memorable but not for the reasons the father was hoping for. With Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation, No Good Deed) as Dr. Nate Samuels, Martin Munro (Moffie, Warrior-TV) as Kees, Leah Jeffries (Empire-TV, Rel-TV) as Norah Samuels, Iyana Halley (Licorice Pizza, This is Us-TV) as Meredith Samuels and Thapelo Sebogodi (The River-TV, Our Girl-TV) as Camo; this thriller was lucky to have Idris Elba lead the cast. He was good, but the script did not provide anyone with a decent story to tell. The script was not believable; there were scenes that I found to be ridiculous in their phoniness. There were times I was sitting in my seat staring in disbelief due to the characters’ actions. The other issue I had was the fact that I was able to easily figure out how the story was playing out. It was not like there was an original thought used to create this story in the first place. Besides Elba, I also enjoyed the special effects used to create his wild adversary. There were several scenes with blood and violence. 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Bullet Train

IT IS AN UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATION FOR me whenever I am attending a dinner party, where I am not familiar to the host. It occurs when I am going as someone’s guest or attending a family function, where different people are contributing to the meal. I admit I am a fussy eater; add to that, I also am a visual and texture eater. If something does not look appealing to me then I am not interested in tasting it. I know these are my quirks; I do not pretend to hide or be embarrassed by them. However, I do not expect anyone to conform to my eating habits. This is why I get uncomfortable when going to dinner at someone’s house who is not familiar with me. My friends are thoughtful and usually will tell the host I do not eat onions or red meat; and I am appreciative of their actions. Many a times, the host will adjust their menu to accommodate me; but this is the part that makes me uncomfortable. I do not want them to change what they planned; I can eat around anything placed on a dinner table. There have been get togethers where the host has made two of the same dishes, one with onions and the other without. I do not want them to do such a thing; I can pick out the onions or just not put any of it on my dish, no big deal.      MY NOT WISHING TO CHANGE SOMEONE to fit my needs is a belief that I had to grow into; it was not something that came organically. I used to be one of those individuals who readily told people what they should do. I would see or listen to a person dealing with a problem and I would immediately tell them what they needed to do, whether they asked for my advice or not, it did not matter. Through a time of self-discovery and awareness, I realized it was part of my control issues. If someone asked me for my advice, it was okay to offer it; but not to swoop in and take on their issues. My eyes were opened to the point I could recognize when others were trying to “take charge” or convince someone to do something differently. I know this is my opinion, but I find those individuals who preach and try to convert people are no different than me trying to change a friend’s mind to do something I like to do. Just because, let us say, I like to skydive does not mean you have to do it now. However, in this action, comedy thriller it was amusing to see how the main character tried convincing people to his way of thinking.      HOPING THE JOB WOULD BE EASY and peaceful, an assassin has a tough time staying calm when he is stuck on a high-speed passenger train in Japan with other assassins. With Brad Pitt (The Lost City, By the Sea) as Ladybug, Joey King (The Conjuring, The In Between) as Prince, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals, Kick-Ass franchise) as Tangerine, Brian Tyree Henry (Widows, Hotel Artemis) as Lemon and Andrew Koji (Snake Eyes, Warrior-TV) as Kimura; I felt the movie was made more for the cast than the viewer. It was obvious the cast was having fun with their characters. Joey stood out for me with her acting ability. There was a lot of violence and blood throughout the film; but at least the fight scenes were well done, and I enjoyed the witty dialog. The script was uneven, eventually losing steam as it headed towards the end, which was a jumble. There was no character development; and, in this case, I was okay with it. I felt the whole story was put together like a board game and the characters were just game pieces. Pretty much, this type of story has been done before and done better; however, it was still fun to watch the craziness that all took place on a bullet train.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Bob’s Burgers Movie

I WAS SHOCKED BY HER ANSWER, but I was not entirely surprised either. We were guests at a party that was recently held at a Chinese restaurant. She was sitting across from me at a long, dining room table. When the waitstaff came out and placed appetizers on the table, she looked at them and asked what were they? I was the first to answer, naming each item. I could tell by the confused look on her face that she probably did not know the difference between an egg and a spring roll, so I asked her if she had ever eaten Chinese food. She said she had never eaten it. I was so surprised to hear an adult say they never had Chinese food, that I had to pause for a moment and let that digest (no pun intended). Going down a mental list of everyone I knew, there was not one person I could think of who had not at least tried Chinese food. My curiosity came to the forefront; I asked her what were her favorite “go to” foods for a meal. Her answer surprised me; but I could relate to it. She said hamburger was her favorite. Of all the possible choices, I was not expecting to hear that for an answer.      I THINK MY SHOCK WAS HEARING this from an adult. Sure, I knew many people who love a good burger; but it usually was not their “go to” meal. Now it is funny, when I was much younger, I loved hamburgers; I mean, I really loved burgers. Anytime I was given a choice of what to eat, I would always have a hamburger. In fact, on a cross country trip, I ate a hamburger for lunch and dinner every single day of the entire trip. Ironically, even at a Chinese restaurant I ate a burger. Besides the taste, there was something so complete about them. With ketchup, lettuce, pickles, on a sesame bun; it did not require any utensils and you tasted everything with each bite. In fact, I can remember to this day the first time I had a hamburger from a major fast food chain restaurant. Watching the employees at their stations, as part of this assembly line type of set-up; I was amazed with the efficient and quick way food was being assembled and wrapped. I went 20 years eating ground beef until I had three burgers in a row that had cartilage in them. It so turned me off that I stopped eating burgers and all other red meat. I do not miss it at all after all these past decades; however, I can understand and relate to the attraction, which is what drew me to this animated, adventure comedy.      UNDER HEAVY DEBT BOB’S BURGERS NEEDED to sell every burger they could make during the popular season. Having a sinkhole open in front of their shop complicated things; more so when a discovery was made in the hole. With H. Jon Benjamin (Temptation, Next Stop Wonderland) voicing Bob Belcher, Kristen Schaal (The Muppets, Sleepwalk with Me) voicing Louise Belcher, Dan Mintz (Veep-TV, The Goldbergs-TV) voicing Tina Belcher, John Roberts (Fire Island, Gravity Falls-TV) voicing Linda Belcher and Eugene Mirman (Archer-TV, Aqua Teen Hunger Force-TV) voicing Gene Belcher; this was my first exposure to the Belcher family. The first thing that struck me about this picture was the dialog in the script. With the well-versed cast, I felt the main characters had more of an authentic voice. The humorous lines and jokes were quick, plentiful and had a satirical undertone to them. The animation was fine, nothing elaborate or fancy. Where I found this movie enjoyable, I think fans of the show will love seeing it on the big screen. And if the movie theater serves a decent burger, all the better.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Gray Man

THOUGH I HAD MISGIVINGS, I AGREED to join my friend for dinner at a recently new, popular restaurant in the city. I wanted to visit with him but was hoping we could just hang out at a local place that I knew had good food. He considered himself a “foodie” who enjoys trying the newest trendy restaurants; I on the other hand think of myself as a low rent eater who enjoys eating at diners and independent, family-owned places. There is a place near my home where the same family has owned and ran this restaurant since the 1960s. They serve simple entrees like turkey club sandwiches, tuna melts and burgers, each served with great French fries. And what I like about this place is the fact they serve generous portions, and the food is fresh and good. I am quite certain my friend would turn his nose up at the place just by its looks. The name of the place is written in red block letters on a square, plastic sign that hangs above the front door. Because decades have passed, the décor now is considered “kitschy” or retro. Realizing I could not dress in my usual relaxed weekend outfit, I asked if we could meet for an early dinner. I was hoping we could beat the crowds and if I were still hungry after eating, I could stop for something on the way home.      AS I WALKED IN THE RESTAURANT, I was met by an employee dressed in black slacks and a white, long-sleeved shirt. Asked for the name of the reservations, I gave my friend’s name. The employee confirmed the name on her tablet then directed me to my friend who was already seated. The place was done in calm, subdued colors of blues and greens with a hint of gold. On the table was a small plate that had 2 square dinner rolls with a ribbon of oil circling them. A small pile of grated cheese was directly in the center; it looked like the white ashes from a funeral pyre. Throughout the evening while we conversed, several plates of varying sizes were brought and taken from our table. The salad took all of 4-5 bites to complete with some special dressing that had a lemon undertone to it. I missed having a good-sized salad. The main course for me was a boneless chicken breast; I had to ask them to omit the bacon, the sauce, the onions, and the peppercorn. Everything was ala carte, so I ordered crispy fingerling potatoes. I had never seen such a small chicken breast. When the bill came, I was stunned. We agreed to split the bill; it cost us $100.00 each. All this money which I would normally never spend at a restaurant, and I was still hungry. I felt the same way about this film; all the money the studio must have spent, and I was still wanting more by the end.      A SKILLED CIA OPERATIVE UNCOVERS DAMAGING information on a job which sets in motion a manhunt to apprehend him, no matter the price. With Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2046, The Nice Guys) as Six, Chris Evans (Gifted, Avengers franchise) as Lloyd Hansen, Ana de Armas (Knives Out, No Time to Die) as Dani Miranda, Billy Bob Thornton (A Million Little Pieces, Bad Santa franchise) as Fitzroy and Jessica Henwick (Love and Monsters, Underwater) as Suzanne Brewer; this action thriller overflowed with fight and action scenes. It turns out they were necessary to cover up the poorly written script. With such a capable cast, this movie could have been terrific; but it never reached that level. I will say it was mindless fun, if one is in the mood for people being beaten up and things blowing apart. The fight scenes were well orchestrated, and I liked the various settings. By the end of the picture, I felt I had seen a compilation of scenes from previously, better done, spy action films. It just goes to show you spending a lot of money does not mean you will get a great, satisfying product.  

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Elvis

THE COUPLE SITTING NEXT TO ME were being rude. We were sitting inside the city’s stadium for a music concert and the opening act was performing. This couple did not pay any attention to the act as they continued with their conversation. I had no idea who the artist was; but I still wanted to listen to them perform. Even if I did not care for their style of music, I would have been considerate of the people sitting around me and not carried on a conversation. From a long time ago, I learned to pay attention to the opening acts because you never knew if they would become a success one day. My favorite example is Tina Turner. I had tickets to a concert where she was listed as the opening act for the star attraction. Her work with Ike was well known but that had happened a long time ago. None of us knew what she would be doing by herself. Well, you can see what she did based on how quickly she returned to being the headliner. As a warm-up act, she was utterly amazing. By the end of her set, I felt I had already gotten my money’s worth; she was as they say, a superstar. Because of that concert, I always pay attention to the opening acts at concerts. There was a singer songwriter I got to see early in their career as the opening act; they went on to have a #1 song on the charts.      EXPERIENCING A MUSICAL ARTIST AT THE beginning of their career journey and following them to the top of the charts is an awesome feeling. I remember seeing this one musical artist who came out on stage with her hair bound up in a scarf, dressed in old fashioned clothes, with a couple of backup singers and a small band; yet it was an incredible show due to the singer. Her personality and voice were both amazing. From that first time seeing her, I have followed her career as it ventured into movies and Broadway stages, not once being disappointed by her performances. She had something different I had never seen and with her talent, I was sure she was going to be a star. I even have photos of her in the early days of her career because in the initial stages of a musical artist’s career, I believe, they can be the most exciting times. If you do not believe me, feel free to take a look at this dramatic biography to see what it is like.      SOME MUSICAL ARTISTS CAN REACH THE top of the charts, but only a few can usher in a whole new movement. One of those artists is the subject of this musical movie. With Tom Hanks (News of the World, The Post) as Colonel Tom Parker, Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, The Dead Don’t Die) as Elvis, Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, The Sisterhood of Night) as Priscilla, Helen Thomson (A Man’s Gotta Do, Getting’ Square) as Gladys and Richard Roxburgh (Van Helsing, Moulin Rouge) as Vernon; this film was very lucky to have Austin as Elvis. If he had not been in the starring role, the first 1 ½ hours would have been more painful than they already were for me. I thought the quick cutting from scene to scene and the over-the-top dramatics took away from the performances. It almost appeared cartoonish. The last hour was the part that engaged and kept my interest. I say that because we finally got to see a more vulnerable Elvis as the scenes were given emotional depth. Up until this point I found Tom’s performance erratic; at times, his acting was excellent, other times it was off the mark. If for nothing else, it was worth it to me to see Austin’s singing performances. I felt like I was at a concert seeing someone who would be going far in their career.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Northman

I COULD NOT IMAGINE WHAT THE COMPANY did to him that would make him seek revenge. Most of my interactions with him were pleasant and non-confrontational; he was a salesperson after all. If I were to base my opinion on material things, I would say he was making a good living selling the company’s products. He was always fashionably dressed; I cannot recall him ever wearing anything that appeared old or worn. Both his and his wife’s cars were always new and sporty; I think he traded in his cars every other year. Also, I remember him showing me vacation pictures from time to time. So yes, I believed he was successful at his job. There was no indication of his scheming to get back at the company. I did not learn of his misdeeds until after he was fired. If there were any other actions brought against him, I was not aware. It turns out he was either running a clever ruse or the company’s protocols left much to be desired. It turns out he was having the company set up what they believed were new accounts. However, most of them were friends/acquaintances of his or post office boxes he was setting up himself. His “customer” orders were turned in after he changed the prices on the products, getting the items below cost. Once the product shipped, he would arrange to receive them at these various locations. Since all his orders were marked prepaid, he would turn in cash for them.      UNBEKNOWNST TO THE COMPANY, HE WAS renting storage space at various locations. The way I heard how the story went was a fellow employee found a posting on a social media site that showed one of our products. After investigating further, this employee discovered our products were being sold for a cheaper price than what we could sell them for. Essentially, he was stealing from the company by lowering the cost of all the products he was buying from us under an alias, then putting them up for sale on several internet sites. Every sale had a huge markup which he pocketed for himself. I also heard he tried stealing a customer master list from us, but he was caught with it and tried making excuses on why he wanted to take it home. As I mentioned earlier, if the company pressed charges against him, I was not told. All I knew is he had damaged the company’s name by stealing from them. Oh, and I heard once he sold the product, he was never available to offer any type of customer service to his buyers. Too bad I could not find out his reasons as clearly as the ones that were laid out in this action, adventure film.      A VIKING PRINCE SPENDS YEARS PREPARING to avenge his father’s death that he witnessed as a young boy. His rage is what kept him warm. With Alexander Skarsgard (The Kill Team, The Hummingbird Project) as Amleth, Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos, The Prom) as Queen Gudrun, Claes Bang (The Square, The Last Vermeer) as Fjolnir the Brotherless, Ethan Hawke (Tesla, The Kid) as King Aurvandil War-Raven and Anya Taylor-Joy (The New Mutants, The Queen’s Gambit-TV) as Olga of the Birch Forest; this drama was beautiful to watch despite all the blood and violence. I thought the cast was excellent and well suited to their roles; however, I could not figure out what this film wanted to be. It was part fantasy, part Game of Thrones and part folklore; it was distracting. The story was not that unusual. If it were not for the cast and filming, I would have been bored and uncomfortable having to sit through all the cringe-worthy scenes. In my opinion, the script needed to be more refined in its ability to tell an exciting, dramatic story. Using this film as a reference point, the couple of times where I was revengeful were nothing compared to the intensity displayed in this picture.                                                         

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, I was flattered and getting a bit smitten from all the attention. We had met at a bakery café. We both ordered the same thing, a double chocolate dessert. After the initial introductions, the conversation settled into an easy flow of comments, thoughts, and opinions. I was impressed by the fact they had no issue disagreeing with a couple of my opinions; it showed me they had strength in their convictions. In a previous relationship, whatever opinion I had about a topic the person quickly would form the same opinion. It was rare for them to disagree with me, and it used to drive me crazy. I wondered how someone could change their opinion so easily without even letting me express the reasons for having my opinion. Meeting someone who was not afraid to express their opinions and feelings was refreshing to me. After we finished our desserts, neither one of us made a move to end the date. We just continued to sit and talk about a variety of subjects. Finally, I had to be the one to say my goodbyes due to my schedule. It was decided we would get together for a full meal next time. I felt good about our meeting and decided to reach out in a day or two to set up another date.      OUR SECOND DATE WAS EVEN BETTER than the first; it was dinner and a movie. A few days after it, I was leaving for work and found a box sitting on my front porch. They had signed their name on it with a message that said, “Thought you would like these fresh out of the oven.” I brought the box inside and opened it. Inside sat a bakery box of chocolate chip cookies, my favorite. I was both surprised and touched they went out of their way to drop off a box of cookies on the way to their office. I was getting bowled over with the attention and we soon fell into a dating relationship. At some point, I was asked to attend a family event. Though feeling a little apprehensive, I agreed to accompany them. During the event, I was introduced to a man who was their former boyfriend. Without knowing their history together, I was unsure of how to act; however, I remained cool about it. On the drive to drop them off at their home, we talked about it briefly and I felt relieved. It was short-lived because the very next day I received a call from them to tell me they decided they were going back to their old boyfriend to give it one more try. I had to wonder if my sole purpose was to be brought to the family event, to be used as a catalyst to restart their relationship. It did not feel good which will explain why I felt sympathy for one of the main characters in this animated action adventure.      BEING LEFT ALONE AT HOME FOR the first time showed Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz (Night School, The Afterparty-TV), he could be trustworthy. Unfortunately, it was short-lived when the evil Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey (Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Dumb and Dumber franchise), made a house call. With James Marsden (Shock and Awe, Accidental Love) as Tom Wachowski, Tika Sumpter (The Old Man and the Gun, Ride Along franchise) as Maddie Wachowski and Idris Elba (Concrete Cowboy, The Harder They Fall) voicing Kunckles; this sequel provided the same level of entertainment as the first film had done. Having never played the videogame this film franchise was based on, I might have missed a few inside references. However, I do not think it mattered. The action scenes were fun, and I thought Jim Carrey was exceptional good with his character. His performance almost appeared as if it was adlibbed, it was so zany. Also, I thought Idris Elba did some of the best voice work I had ever heard on film. On the downside, there were several scenes that did not move me much, having found them to be bland. This could have been due to the similarities between both movies. Nonetheless, I did not feel used, that the movie studio did try to elevate the story so that the franchise could continue to survive. Proof being, there was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Joe Bell

WHEN I WOULD LISTEN TO HER talk about her children, it was always apparent that she favored one child over the other. I could only imagine how many other people noticed the same thing. According to her, her son was a genius; she would tell everyone that he was going to be a medical researcher or doctor. There was a period when he received less than stellar grades, so she floated the idea he could become a lawyer. I thought one needed good grades to get into a good law school; but that fact did not faze her as she continued to brag about her son. Throughout this time, one might have wondered what was going on with her other children and that would have been a good question, because she rarely mentioned any of them. Her son, it appeared, was the only thing that mattered to her. I knew her daughter; but I must tell you, there were so few things her mother ever said about her. It was as if she were some kind of an embarrassment, though I could not figure out why. Granted, I thought she was a bit unfocused when it came to figuring out what career she wanted to go into, but it did not seem anything that unusual that any other high schooler was experiencing. WHAT I FOUND DISCONCERTING WAS THE fact she did not treat her children equally. It was obvious she favored her son over her daughter, in what I felt was a blatant way.  The sad thing about it was the fact I had experienced other parents doing the same thing, where it was easy to tell which child the parent favored the most. In my dealings with siblings of the same family, I always made it a point to treat each one equally. Gifts for each were of equal value, game times were always split equally between the siblings if we were not all playing the same game and taking one to a cultural event meant finding another event that would interest the other siblings. Why couldn’t a parent do the same thing? I remember this one couple who had 2 daughters and because they favored the eldest, the other one would act out just to annoy her parents. The awful thing about it was the younger child had a harder time finding her place in life, ending up with eating and trust issues. I found it incredibly sad. No matter the intentions, I feel a parent cannot forget the other children in the family. An example of this can be seen in this dramatic film based on a true story.      A FATHER WANTING TO DO SOMETHING for his son, who was a victim of bullying, decides to walk across America. This meant leaving the rest of his family behind. With Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Uncharted) as Joe Bell, Reid Miller (A Girl Named Jo-TV, Play by Play-TV) as Jadin Bell, Connie Britton (American Ultra, Bombshell) as Lola Lathrop, Maxwell Jenkins (Lost in Space-TV, A Definitely Maybe) as Joseph Bell and Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13) as Sheriff Westin; I give Mark credit for trying a different role than his usual ones. He was okay but I felt his narrow band of acting abilities did not give that extra oomph the story needed. Though the script was mostly predictable, this film was still worth watching because of the performances from Reid and Connie. The actual story is an incredible one; in my opinion, I felt the writers could have gone deeper into the abusive events. Also, there were times in the script that I wondered if things happened that way or got twisted to provide the viewers with a couple of pulls on their heartstrings. The point the writers were making was valid which made this movie a decent viewing experience.

2 ½ stars 

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