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Flash Movie Review: The Vault

IT WAS A CHALLENGE I WAS determined to accomplish successfully, despite having no experience in creating such a dessert. Friends were coming over and since I planned to bake a dessert using a key ingredient that one friend loved, I felt it was only fair to bake another dessert that the other friend would enjoy. The recipe was for a pie that had layers in it, where I had to partially bake one layer before putting the next layer on top. In addition, during the baking process, I had to mix ingredients together for a topping that would go on last and had to be watched carefully to avoid burning during the last 10-15 minutes in the oven. I was nervous through the whole process of washing, cutting, stirring, folding, separating and measuring various items. By the time I got the pie in the oven my shirt looked like Jackson Pollock had used it for a canvas. The last 10 minutes I was constantly turning the oven light on and off, plus opening the oven door to peer at the bubbly batter inside the walnut infused crust. Since I had never made this recipe before I was not exactly sure what it was supposed to look like when it was done. Seeing the top jiggle slightly threw me off, making me think the pie was undercooked; however, I decided to trust the recipe and the oven that the pie was just right. It was and I could not have been happier making something so complicated for my skill set.      ACCOMPLISHING A CHALLENGE SUCCESSFULLY IS A strong aphrodisiac. When my friend took a second piece of pie, I knew I could finally be proud of it. I was telling my friends about it being a new recipe and how I wanted to challenge myself. One of my friends said they understood because they were doing a similar thing by taking on a major project; they were building a pool table. I was stunned with the news because I only knew my friend to dabble in woodworking, making simple pieces like chess boards and votive candle holders. To build a pool table, that was impressive. But after my achievement, I understood; it is such a good feeling to do the impossible as they say. Though I cannot understand why some people would do this, I guess that feeling has such power it can drive a person to become a rock climber or cliff diver. Pretty much anything that pushes a person to exceed their expectations is a wonderful learning experience. The question is if it will be a good thing or not; for example, what takes place in this action thriller.      ENGINEERING GENIUS THOM, PLAYED BY FREDDIE Highmore (Finding Neverland, The Art of Getting By), received an offer that would test his ability beyond anything he imagined. With Astrid Berges-Frisbey (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) as Lorraine, Sam Riley (On the Road, Maleficent franchise) as James, Liam Cunningham (Clash of the Titans, Game of Thrones-TV) as Walter, Jose Coronado (The Body, The Return of El Coyote) as Gustavo and Luis Tosar (Take My Eyes, Even the Rain) as Simon; this movie followed a typical template, but the execution of it was exciting. The idea of mixing the events taking place at the Bank of Spain with its history alongside the Football World Cup finals and the throngs of cheering people was a great idea. I enjoyed the acting, especially from Freddie and Liam. The directing kept the story going at a decent clip with a few fun turns thrown in to add more tense scenes. With the idea of the story being a solid one, I found myself more engaged with this picture and enjoyed it. And with the success of my baked pie, I could appreciate what motivated the players in this rousing film. 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: How I Became a Superhero

DESPITE THE DJ’S MUSIC TRYING TO drown him out, the wedding guest sitting at my table kept going on and on about himself. The gentleman was an imposing figure, easily over 6 feet tall and stocky, with massive hands that gave his arms a sledgehammer appearance. I was not sure what industry this man had worked in, but he had been some high up executive. At least that is what my friend sitting next to me had told me. This man was telling us about the changes he had made at his company. I was appalled by the number of negative comments he had about his co-workers. He even went so far as to essentially say he went to a better college than anyone else in his department. At one point, I glanced over at his wife to see how she was reacting to her husband dominating the table conversation. She just sat there with a smile plastered on her face; I could not tell if it was an automatic response, or she enjoyed hearing her husband bragging about himself. It was boring to me, sitting there like a captive as he went on and on about his so-called achievements. What I found telling was the fact several of his achievements involved the reduction of employees, as if laying off workers was an accomplishment.      PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO BRAG ABOUT themselves do not impress me. I understand there are times when one should toot their own horn, but I feel a person’s actions tell me more about them than anything they can say. I remember this student in one of my college classes. She was “down to earth,” displaying a gentleness and kindness towards her fellow classmates. We struck up a friendship, that allowed me the opportunity to see more into her intelligence. Despite carrying a full course load of classes, she was tutoring younger students in English. If that was not enough, she was working on an outline for a story she hoped to write and publish. I was struck by the way she talked about the things she was doing; there was no bravado involved, simply hoping she could make a difference in someone’s life. No one in class knew about any of this and in fact, she asked if I would not mention any of her extracurricular activities to the other students. It is people like her that confirm my belief that actions speak louder than words. I think that is one of the reasons I liked the way the writers spun the story in today’s film review.      A NEW DRUG HITS THE STREETS of Paris that gives the user superpowers. It appears those who use it aren’t thinking of doing something good. With Pio Marmai (I Kissed a Girl, The Trouble with You) as Moreau, Vimala Pons (The Wild Boys, Elle) as Schaltzmann, Benoit Poelvoorde (Coco Before Chanel, The Brand New Testament) as Monte Carlo, Leila Bekhti (A Prophet, The Third War) as Callista and Clovis Cornillac (A Very Long Engagement, Eden Log) as Gigaman; this action, adventure comedy took some time to let the story unfold; but I was intrigued with the premise. I enjoyed seeing a different perspective on the superhero genre. What helped was the filming of this picture; there was a dark grittiness to the scenes that added an extra layer of intrigue. Maybe it is my own personal feeling, but I do not associate grittiness with the city of Paris. The acting was convincing and authentic to me. I will say the special effects were not on the level of a Marvel film; however, what there were was not a distraction. This was an interesting viewing experience. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits and though I saw an English version, this film was originally done in French with English subtitles. 

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: The Water Man

AFTER I FINISHED WATCHING THIS MOVIE, I switched over to the news. The newsman was reporting about an issue a local hospital was having with one of its patients. The screen changed and the image of a woman popped on the TV screen. The shot was from the neck up; she had skin that was wrinkled into deep crevices by the sun. On top of her head, she wore a baseball type of cap that was bejeweled with colored stones to look like the American flag. There was no sound coming from her despite her mouth moving. The reporter was saying this woman did not believe in the COVID vaccines. She wound up being admitted into the hospital because she contracted COVID, and she wanted to be treated with a drug she read about on the internet that claims to cure the disease. It was a medicine that is given to horses. Because the drug is not approved by the FDA for humans, the hospital would not administer it to her. She was fighting them for it. I sat there in bewilderment. How did things get to the point where humans were perfectly fine ingesting medications formulated for animals? Death, I know, can be a huge motivator and I know I would want to learn as much as possible on how to combat whatever illness befalls me. However, I would want to hear from scientists and doctors, not the internet necessarily.      I KNEW A FAMILY THAT SUFFERED a major loss of one of their family members. When the person was diagnosed the family went into shock. The older family members understood the severity of the disease; the children only knew it was “bad.” I remember one of the kids delved into a fantasy life to cope with the changes that were taking place in the household. The child believed there were magic seeds that could cure her parent. Anytime she went outside, the young child would spend most of her time searching for these seeds in flower beds, around trees, in sidewalk cracks and even along the curbs of the streets. She was convinced if she could find these seeds and give them to her parent, it would make them feel better. The reason I mention this little girl is because to me, there is a similarity between her and the woman that was reported in the news who is demanding a horse pill to cure herself. Each of them is looking to fantasy for a cure; the difference being one is a child and the other is an adult. For those who may have forgotten what it is like to be a child, this dramatic family adventure can remind you.      WITH HIS MOTHER’S ILLNESS GETTING WORSE, a young boy sets out to find a cure for her. With Lonnie Chavis (This is Us-TV, Magic Camp) as Gunner Boone, David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, Don’t Let Go) as Amos Boone, Rosario Dawson (Eagle Eye, The Captive) as Mary Boone, Amiah Miller (Lights Out, War for the Planet of the Apes) as Jo Riley and Alfred Molina (Boogie Nights, The Devil has a Name) as Jim Bussey; this movie had a touching story that was easy to watch. I thought the cast was well suited to tell the story. The script was good though it was close to predictable and the reason I say that is because some of the scenes were done in a heavy-handed way. A lighter touch would have allowed the scene to mature and grow I believe. I also enjoyed the way the writers introduced the minor story line and kept it low key for the viewer to connect the pieces. There have been other similar stories told before; the difference for me was this one had a gentleness in the way the story was told that was much appreciated.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO GREW up without an intelligent personal assistant/navigator like SIRI, the first time you saw it in action had to be amazing. I remember the first time I tried it and how excited I was when SIRI created a reminder for me. To me, SIRI and the others of her kind are simply the great grandchildren of HAL 9000. I do not consider myself “worldly;” however, I enjoy trying to stay current. That does not mean I am jaded to experiencing new things either as a participant or observer. I will say though it takes a little something more these days to impress or amaze me. And the reason I say this, is because there is so much more information out there at our disposal. I remember the first time I saw this world-famous traveling, animal free, circus’ performance acts. The things these performers did surprised me to no end. After seeing them for several years, it is harder for me to experience the same level of wonder and amazement when I go to see them now. Yet, I still get a thrill watching the variety of acts. If someone were to ask me if I ever wanted to get to the point where nothing surprises me, I would have to say no; I always want to be able to experience the sensations of being surprised.      BESIDES THE ENJOYMENT, WONDER AND THRILLS I experience in life; I get just as much enjoyment in seeing other people experience these feelings. I remember one vacation I was taking, where I was able to ride the city’s new people mover that opened the week I arrived. Sitting in my seat and watching several riders being surprised and amazed with the automatic sliding doors and lowering steps brought me such pleasure. It was like seeing a little baby’s expression of laughter when playing peek-a-boo with them. The individuals could not stop giggling and whispering to each other when the steps lowered and raised at various stops. They reminded me of some of the contestants I have seen on those reality shows that left their small town for the first time, on their very first plane ride, to come perform on the show. I cannot imagine someone never leaving their surroundings to explore what is out in the world. One of my lab partners in college had never been outside of his state until he came to school. There were so many things I took for granted that just stunned him. Since I enjoy watching people’s reactions to experiencing new things, I had a good time watching this silly comedy.     AFTER 2 BEST FRIENDS WERE LAID off from their job, they decided to take their very first trip out of state. What were the chances they would chose a place that was about to experience a disaster? With Kristen Wiig (Wonder Woman 1984, The Skeleton Twins) as Sharon Gordon Fisherman, Annie Mumolo (This is 40, Bad Moms) as Barb, Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, A Private War) as Edgar Paget, Damon Wayans Jr (Let’s Be Cops, The Other Guys) as Darlie Bunkle and Ryn Dol (Kidding-TV, Drama Club-TV) as Yoyo; this movie was a fun experience. It felt like Kristen took a character she would have done on Saturday Night Live and placed her in a longer comedy sketch. Sure, there were preposterous scenarios and goofy antics; but I did not care. I appreciated the “small town” friends going out of their comfort zone into a new experience. It was just easy to sit back and not have to get confused trying to figure out what was going on in the story. There was nothing fancy or sophisticated here; one needs only to let go and let the cast surprise you. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: No Sudden Move

I TRIED MY HARDEST, BUT I could not figure out what the couple next to me was seeing. The man was telling the woman to look at the paint strokes in the painting and notice how they are pointing up to the god figure. I did not want them to know I was listening in to their conversation; but I honestly was trying to figure out what the guy was seeing because I could not find any type of god figure in the artwork. I had to wonder if the woman was able to make out what the man was talking about because most of the time, she simply nodded her head and said, “uh-huh” or “ah.” The painting was an abstract with bold sweeps of color all over the canvas. The man continued with his explanation of the painting, saying the artist was making some type of statement against the elitists. I had no idea what he was talking about and got bored with listening to him carry on about the art. I happened to be roaming through the art museum after seeing their new exhibit and stopped at this painting because I liked the way the colors blended into each other.     WHEN I AM LOOKING AT AN art piece, I am not trying to figure out what the artist was trying to do or say with it. I am simply enjoying the feelings that the piece evokes in me. It may be the landscape in a painting or a chiseled arm in a sculpture or the subject’s face in a photograph; I stop to look at the art piece that moves me in some way. Maybe it is due to my brain’s wiring, but I have never been one to try and figure out creative things. Mechanical things are a different story; I like to know how a device or machine works. But books and art are a whole different thing for me. They are more personal. I feel everyone can have a different reaction to a piece of art or a book. It goes along with what I have always said; no one has the right to tell another person how to feel. I may be fond of a particular symphony, but my friend may hate it and that is perfectly fine. The reason I like science fiction films is because they are pure escapism for me; yet, I have a friend who asks me (in his words) why I watch that crap. He doesn’t like it, I am okay with it; but, when I try to tell him why I like them, he cannot understand it. I felt like him after I watched this well received motion picture.      WHEN AN EASY JOB GOES WRONG, a group of criminals must figure out what happened and who caused the situation they were in. With Don Cheadle (Miles Ahead, Hotel Rwanda) as Curt Goynes, Benicio Del Toro (A Perfect Day, The Usual Suspects) as Ronald Russo, David Harbour (Black Widow, Hellboy) as Matt Wertz, Jon Hamm (Richard Jewel, Lucy in the Sky) as Joe Finney and Brendan Fraser (The Mummy franchise, Gimme Shelter) as Doug Jones; this dramatic crime mystery was great to look at. The sets and costumes were spot on while the cast did an amazing job with their roles. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven), the story was interesting, but I thought the script was poorly written. I became confused several times and by the last part of the movie, I felt like I was missing, or something was missing in the movie for me. An uneven feeling was what remained for me after watching this picture. There were times I enjoyed watching it, but other times I was sort of blah about it. I am just telling you how I felt about it; maybe there is something more in it for you.

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Fatherhood

MOTHERHOOD AND FATHERHOOD COME WITH EQUAL responsibilities, at least that is how I feel about it. The way I see it, both are equal partners in the raising of their children. Now some of you already know I feel adults should be required to get a license to have a child; it is much harder to raise a child than to drive a car which requires a license. I have seen good and bad examples of parenting. Actually, it would be more like outstanding and horrific examples. One person I know has done a beautiful job in raising their child. The way they explained things to their child provided them with ample information to let the child express their feelings in a healthy way. Let me also add the child’s vocabulary increased greatly to the point their reading level reached far beyond their grade level. Another parent I know has taken their life experiences and used them as examples of what not to do to their child. I could appreciate their method because a good part of their upbringing involved guilt and manipulation. They vowed they would never treat their child the way they were growing up. There are several parents I know who are not trying to be their child’s best friend; they are just being the parents.      SADLY, ON THE FLIP SIDE, I have seen too many examples of parenting from poor to horrible. A father who wanted to get revenge on his child’s mother decided to call family services and tell them his daughter is being abused by the mother’s new boyfriend. What transpired next is too much to talk about just in the space of this review; let me just say there were no winners in this struggle. Another parent I know did not recognize the emotional eating their child was doing to themselves. Not that I expect every adult to recognize emotional eating; but don’t you think anything done to an extreme would be a red flag? I also have a hard time with parents who instill their prejudices into their children. Back in elementary school, there was a boy in my class who was anti-Semitic. He not only would verbally abuse students in the class, he would pick on them either by throwing something like paper clips and rubber bands or he would sock them as he passed them in the hallway. I happened to see him at a store with his father, who displayed the same behavior. As I said before, I have seen a wide variety of parenting techniques which is why I could appreciate what the father was going through in this comedic drama.      WITH THE SUDDEN DEATH OF HIS wife after giving birth to their child, a father must figure out what would be the best option for raising his child. With Kevin Hart (The Upside, Jumanji franchise) as Matt Logelin, Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, Burning Sands) as Marion, Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Bad Trip) as Jordan, DeWanda Wise (The Weekend, She’s Gotta have It-TV) as Swan and Melody Hurd (Trick, Them-TV) as Maddy Logelin; this was a surprisingly different role for Kevin to take on and I liked him in it. Not the usual loud, fast talking character in the movie, he showed more dimension than I have seen before. The story is pretty much predictable and could have used more in-depth scenes and character development. With that being said, the script was created with the viewer in mind because it was obvious the writers wanted to pull on the viewers’ heartstrings. This picture may not have been high art, but I did appreciate the way they depicted the trials and tribulations of a single parent. Overall, I did not mind this film at all. Hopefully, Kevin will take on more similar roles that test his acting abilities.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Stowaway

THE DINING TABLE WAS SET PRIOR to all of us showing up. I always notice first what type of napkin the host is using for the dinner guests. Not that I am being judgmental, but I use and prefer cloth napkins. I feel they add a different touch aesthetically, besides being quite functional. The ones I use were on the store’s clearance rack and they work just fine. The table was set for half a dozen guests; it had been a long time since we all got together. After everyone arrived and we visited with appetizers and drinks, we all found places at the table. The host was bringing out a large glass bowl filled with salad when the doorbell rang. Since there were no empty spaces left at the table, one could only assume this was an unexpected event which immediately got confirmed when the host wondered out loud who it could be. I did not hear who the person was when the host went over and spoke into the intercom, but they got buzzed in and the host went to unlock the door. The person soon walked in as we all heard talking coming in from the hallway. I recognized him as a friend of the host, but I did not know him well. Saying hi and asking what was going on as he came into the dining room, the host simply said we were just sitting down to dinner and asked if he would like to join us. Seeing that there was no room left at the table, I would have declined the invitation because it would have been an imposition; it was not like people were just sitting about with boxes of delivered pizza or buckets of chicken.      ALL MY FRIENDS KNOW I DO not answer the door unless I am expecting someone. They have questioned me if this is the only option and I tell them yes. If someone wants to come over and visit me, all they need to do is call ahead of time. I remember once a friend had driven into the city and decided to stop and visit with me. Since they did not call, I did not hear them ringing the doorbell because I was jogging on the treadmill. I especially dislike when people show up during mealtimes, either at home or in a restaurant. This happened some time ago, but I still remember eating out with my family and a couple came over to talk to one of my relatives, who they knew. Well I am here to tell you, this couple kept talking and talking while all of us were giving our food orders to the waitress, continuing even when the food came to our table. Personally, I think it is rude to hover over people while they are trying to eat; so, I took it upon myself to say something to them, thanking them for stopping over but I wanted to talk to my family since I had not seen them for some time. They appeared to be startled by my comments but apologized profusely and excused themselves from our space. Ironically, my family was appreciative of my comments to the couple. I do not make apologies for how I feel about uninvited guests; I have no idea how I would have handled what happened to the astronauts in this dramatic, science fiction thriller.      WHILE STARTING OFF ON A MISSION to Mars, a crew is stunned when they discover an unauthorized person on their ship. With Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect franchise, A Simple Favor) as Zoe Levenson, Daniel Dae Kim (Hellboy, Lost-TV) as David Kim, Shamier Anderson (Awake, City of Lies) as Michael Adams and Toni Collette (Knives Out, Hereditary) as Marina Barnett; this cast did a wonderful job of acting. Visually, I enjoyed watching this movie with its special effects. On the downside, I am afraid the script was too drawn out for me; I felt there were several scenes that dragged. However, I did enjoy the moral question that was woven into the story line. For a science fiction film, this one had a slightly different vibe to it which was a plus. I only wished there had been more intensity involved with the story and a different ending.    

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Blue Miracle

DESPITE BEING ROCK HARD AND OVER done, I pretended the chocolate chip cookies were delicious. They are my favorite type of cookie and my relative knew it; so, how could I say the cookies she baked did not taste good? I had known for some time she was not a very good cook or baker and I was not alone in that sentiment. In the grand scheme of things, her poor cooking skills were no big deal to me because I knew she meant well. While growing up those words “meant well” were said often enough that I always associated them with her. She was such a kind and warm individual; when she asked you, “How are you?” she meant it because she really wanted to hear what you had to say. And it was funny to me how she did not make eye contact after she asked that question; instead, she would cock her slightly to the side and gaze down towards the floor. It looked like she was thinking deeply about every word you were saying. One of the things I remember about her was how quiet she was when she moved about. There were times people would become startled by her appearance next to them because they had not heard her walk up.     ONE OF THE THINGS I FOUND amusing about her was her demeanor. Most people never took the time to talk to her except for surface type conversations. I am not sure if most of you will understand this analogy, but on the outside, she closely resembled the character Aunt Clara from the old television show, Bewitched. Like the character, she came across as this bumbling confused individual, who had a slightly off perception of things compared to the people in her life. However, if one spent a little more time with her, they would discover she was intelligent and highly knowledgeable about many things. For example, what I took to be small, decorative ceramic pieces in her china cabinet turned out to be steeped in history. She spent the time to explain each piece, when she saw me standing in front of the cabinet’s glass doors. I found out some of the pieces were more than 100 years old which explained why she never allowed me to play with them. Those little pieces, by the way, were only one of many items she had in her home. Sometimes one would have to clear off a space to be able to sit down; but again, it did not bother anyone because everyone knew she always meant well. I have similar feelings about this biographical adventure drama; everyone meant well in bringing this story to the big screen.      DESPERATE TO FIND FUNDS TO SATISFY the bank loan on his orphanage, the owner enters some of his kids into a fishing contest who had never fished before. One caught fish could change the lives of everyone. With Dennis Quaid (A Dog’s Journey, The Intruder) as Wade, Jimmy Gonzales (Happy Death Day franchise, Godzilla: King of the Monsters) as Omar, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Tombstone, Nashville-TV) as Tricia Bisbee, Fernanda Urrejola (Imprisoned, Narcos: Mexico-TV) as Becca and Raymond Cruz (Training Day, Clear and Present Danger) as Hector; this movie based on a true story was simply a feel good movie. As I said earlier, I believe everyone associated with this film meant well. The script was predictable and there were almost no levels of depth to any of the characters. Also, there was a bit of manipulation to tug at the heartstrings of viewers. In spite of these negatives, I enjoyed watching this film. The scenery was pretty; there was nothing offensive or assaulting to the senses within the framework of this picture. I felt everyone tried their best; but It just did not make it over the finish line and yet I am glad I saw this movie.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: I Am All Girls

I WAS MEETING THEIR BEST FRIEND for the first time after hearing so much about her. They had known each other since high school and by the time they finished college, they decided to move in together. With that much history between them, I knew I was going to be judged since I was the new person entering their inner circle. For my first impressions, I found her sweet with a good sense of humor. Friends for a long time tend to have a shorthand to their conversations and these two were no exception. It was not like inside jokes; instead, I think it was the fact they had so many shared memories. As for myself, I think I gave her a good impression. We both had a love for animals; she had 2 cats, showing me several photos of them. Music was another common denominator; however, her knowledge of music trivia was off the charts. I paled in comparison. In fact, I discovered the two of them frequently went to several local food/drinking establishments to participate in their music trivia nights. The two of them evidently had a reputation in the area for being music geniuses. From our first meeting, I knew I would be seeing her quite often. It was not until we soon went out to dinner where I saw something that made me uncomfortable.      WE DECIDED TO GO OUT FOR Chinese food; they wanted to take me to one of their favorite restaurants. Throughout the course of the meal, I realized she had passive aggressive tendencies. She told us a story or to be more precise, she directed her comments to her friend, about one of her cat’s health issues. The doctor had given her a couple of options for treatment; one would cost less but take more time, the other would be more money with a quicker recovery time. She expressed concerns about how her current financial situation would barely cover the cheaper treatment. With her upcoming trip, she was afraid to leave her cat if he was not fully recovered. I sat there and listened to the things she said, I did not have any solutions. However, my friend offered to lend her the money needed for the quicker treatment. It dawned on me she was being manipulative. The more I was around her, the more I saw passive aggressive ways. She could not just come out and ask for a favor; she resorted to manipulating everyone. My opinion of her dropped significantly. As time went on, I tried to enlighten my friend, but they were not quite believing me. It is frustrating to know something is true, but a person is not convinced of it. That frustration is like the one the detective was experiencing in this dramatic, crime thriller.      WHAT LOOKED LIKE A STRING OF prominent killings turned out to be a set of clues to a horrific crime taking place. With Erica Wessels (Primeval, The Harvesters) as Jodie Snyman, Hlubi Mboya (Dora’s Peace, Hector and the Search for Happiness) as Ntombizonke Bapai, newcomer Leshego Molokwane as young Ntombi, Deon Lotz (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Beauty) as FJ Nolte and Mothusi Magano (Hotel Rwanda, The Lab-TV) as Captain George Mululeki; the story in this mystery was inspired by true events. The reality that such a thing still is taking place in the world, gave this movie added importance. I thought the acting was good, but the script was average. Though there were intense moments, I felt the story could have gone deeper into the characters. The jumping between time periods took away from the film’s flow; but at least they provided important, relevant information. Despite the flaws in this movie, the story was gripping enough to fully keep my attention. 

2 ½ stars         

Flash Movie Review: Those Who Wish Me Dead

I FELT AS IF I WERE driving through the site where a horrific battle had taken place. The landscape was painted in shades of white, gray and black; it was supposed to have been predominantly filled with greens, blues, yellows and a multitude of combined primary colors. The road I was driving on appeared to be dusty, as if it had not been dusted in months. I barely could make out the road markings; so, I was driving slower because of all the curves in the road. The black figurines thrusting out of the ground reminded me of a scene I saw in a movie, where the charred remains of the dead residents of Pompeii looked like ashen statues. These black structures looked like they were part of an abstract painting, frozen into freakish poses. Some looked like they had multiple arms while others appeared to have been the results of a mad scientist’s freakish experiments. I was convinced I was seeing whisps of smoke slowly twisting away from different parts of the terrain. The air even smelled smokey with traces of sulfur. When I planned my vacation, none of this was part of my itinerary; I was envisioning wild animals roaming the grounds. Instead, everywhere I looked I saw dull, barren land. It turned out I was one of the first to drive through this portion of the state after it had succumbed to a major forest fire.      TOWARDS THE END OF MY VACATION, I read the forest fire had burned through thousands and thousands of acres. The reporter mentioned the charred remains would help repopulate the landscape, but that it would take time. Those black figurines I saw on my road trip were the burnt remains of decades old trees. I wondered how the animals who survived the fires would be able to live on the land; there could not be any food for them, nearby. It was sad to see the devastation. I know life is a series of events connected in a circle, from birth to death; however, after seeing what I saw I had a difficult time trying to justify the reason for such destruction. From the news I heard and read, there was no word yet about the loss of human life. What did come out sometime later, was that the fire appeared to have been started by a visitor who was camping. I could not believe it. I wondered if the camper(s) even knew what they had done. The idea that these individuals could have been that careless angered me. If you wish to see some of the destruction that can take place in a forest fire, then feel free to watch this dramatic, action thriller.      IT WOULD TAKE EVERY OUNCE OF strength and wits for smoke jumper Hannah, played by Angelina Jolie (By the Sea, Maleficent franchise), to keep the lost boy she found alive in the middle of a forest fire and gunfire. With Finn Little (Angel of Mine, Storm Boy) as Connor, Jon Bernthal (Baby Driver, The Wolf of Wall Street) as Ethan, Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones-TV, The Maze Runner franchise) as Jack and Nicholas Hoult (Tolkien, Warm Bodies) as Patrick; it was fun to see Angelina back in an action figure role. And action is predominately what took place in this movie. With little or no depth to the characters, this was the type of story one only needs to feel; no need for a lot of thought about the story. There were some tense and exciting parts that drove the rest of the scenes that paled in comparison. For the most part there was nothing new in the script; it was simply because of the acting and the thrills that made this an easy picture to watch. However, I do hope those who have been careless when it comes to protecting the land from fires appreciate what smoke jumpers have to do to try and keep a place safe; let alone, see what kind of destruction can take place from a single careless moment.                         

2 ½ stars       

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