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Flash Movie Review: The Tender Bar

DURING MY SCHOOL YEARS, MOST OF the best advice I got was from people I hardly knew at the start. There was a time during the day where I was removed from a study period because of a couple of bullies in the study hall. Since I played piano, I was assigned to take my study time in the school band’s office. I remember the first time I walked into the office, carrying my acceptance note. There were various string and horn instruments either sitting on stands or hanging on racks, with an upright piano in the far corner. The students in the room were individuals I recognized from walking the hallways but had never seen in my classes. Also, they were older than me; the majority were seniors. Once I was signed in, one of the students asked me what instrument did I play? When I said piano, he asked me to take a seat at the piano and play something for them. My first instinct was that I was being set up for some kind of prank, but I walked over and sat down on a piano bench I wasn’t sure could support my weight. I wondered for a moment on whether to play a classical piece of music; but thought for sure I would be teased for it. Instead, I played a Beatles’ song. Once I was done playing the several students in the room came over to congratulate me on being their new mascot.      AS THE WEEKS PASSED BY, I became friendly with one of the seniors who had helped me a few times with my homework. He was a trumpet player who planned on going to an Ivy League school to become a doctor. Many times, we would just sit in the band office and talk about what was the latest going on in the world. However, he greatly helped me on how to navigate the time I would have at our school. Because of him, I found a safe place I could hide when my gym class was being held outside. This was valuable information to me because of the bullies in class who loved picking on a group of us outside when the gym teacher was not in sight. This senior also explained to me how I should apply to colleges when the time came for me to do so. The one thing I always wanted to know was whether he put in a good word for me because my music teacher became protective of me through the year. Either way I was grateful for their advice and help which I felt the young man in this dramatic movie was feeling as well on the advice given to him.      FORCED TO LIVE AT HIS GRANDPARENTS’ house, a young boy finds a father figure at the local bar, to fill in for the father he has never seen. With Ben Affleck (The Way Back, The Accountant) as Uncle Charlie, Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One, Mud) as JR, Lily Rabe (No Reservations, Miss Stevens) as Mom, Christopher Lloyd ( Back to the Future franchise, Call of the Wild) as Grandpa and Rhenzy Feliz (All Together Now, Runaways-TV) as Wesley; this drama set in Long Island, NY was based on the memoir and I have to say, it was a beautiful story. However, it is a story we have seen before; but the difference is the incredible performances within the cast. Ben, Lily and Christopher were outstanding with their acting. The story is touching, providing a good deal of emotions. However, I would have appreciated if the writers had gone deeper into the characters; so, I could have felt more of a connection to them. With the sets and George Clooney’s direction, I enjoyed watching this even, slow paced film. The title of this movie pretty much says it all; this was overall a tender story.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Red Notice

IN MY EXTENDED CIRCLE OF FRIENDS and family, there are two people who when together make everyone laugh. When a group of us get together for a meal or a social evening, it doesn’t take these two individuals long to start feeding off each other’s energy. Their humor spans from satire to bawdy to intellectual to silly; I have only seen one person who is faster at a comeback than these two people, Robin Williams. A word of caution is in order; you never want to have food in your mouth when these two go at it, because there is a good chance you might start choking while you are laughing and guffawing. When I am around them, I enjoy listening to the bantering and dialog because in the middle of the comedy aspect there are kernels of truth in their sly remarks. You may have experience in this regard, where you have a friend or relative who says the one thing that others are afraid to say. And that is what I appreciate about these two individuals; using a cliché here, they are not afraid to address the “elephant in the room.” I will say they are masterful in how they can bring up uncomfortable topics in a way that is palatable for those who would not appreciate facing the topic head on.      DURING THE LAUGHTER AND COMMENTS, I may in my mind think of a comment to add to the dialog whizzing around the room. It is all about timing, however; more times than not, I keep the comment to myself because it is too hard to overpower the high-volume level that these two people maintain. What I tend to do is turn off my brain and go along for the ride. It is like a train ride; all I need to do is sit back and enjoy the scenery, in this case the conversations, as it passes by. The thing that impresses me the most is the way the conversations may be repeating items that the group has heard before, but these two individuals are able to present a repeated topic in a new and fresh light with their choice of words. For example, I have heard about this one relative’s long deceased dog for years; yet each time one of these skilled talkers brings up this dog, there is always something added to the story to make it sound like it is the first time I am hearing about this dog. I felt the exact same way about the banter taking place in this action, comedy thriller.      THE WORLD’S GREATEST ART THIEF IS forced to work with a top profiler of the FBI to catch the person who wants to take his title away from him. With Dwayne Johnson (Jungle Cruise, Skyscraper) as John Hartley, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise, Woman in Gold) as Nolan Booth, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman franchise, Keeping Up with the Joneses) as The Bishop, Ritu Arya (Last Christmas, Doctor-TV) as Inspector Urvashi Das and Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges, About a Boy-TV) as Sotto Voce; the story for this movie does not provide anything new from what we have seen in other films. However, the chemistry between the three main stars and the dialog the writers gave them, made this an enjoyable film experience for me. I did not have to think much, just sit back and watch some mindless entertainment. Ryan and Dwayne were doing typical roles suited for themselves; so, it was not a stretch for their acting capabilities. The key to watching this picture is to not have any expectations. Also, if you are fond of witty quips and satire for humor, then this would be a movie for you. 

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Army of the Dead

ZOMBIES WALK AMONG US; I HAVE seen them. No really, I have encountered them, and I will show you how to spot them. Like me, I assume when you hear the word “zombie” you immediately think about a decaying corpse like body that is alive and roaming about, usually with some difficulty. This is the image that usually comes to mind for me. I ask you, what is the one thing on a zombie’s “mind?” Or put another way, what is a zombie’s main drive that keeps them searching and searching everywhere they go? I will tell you; they are constantly hungry for human flesh. All they want essentially is to eat human beings. They are not interested in striking up a conversation; they do not care if you are dressed in your finest or your grubbiest clothing; they simply want to take a bite out of you. Think about it; have you ever met someone who only has one thing on their mind? I know I have and that is why I refer to such individuals as zombies. Another label that might help, but is not as effective in my opinion, is the term “energy vampire.” This was a term that was used to describe a person who sucks out all the energy in a room whenever they are in it. In other words, they keep any and everyone’s focus directed on them to the point where one just feels exhausted being in the same room as the “energy vampire.”      I HAD AN ACQUAINTANCE WHO I considered to be a zombie. This person’s entire being was devoted to acquiring and keeping money. Do not laugh, I am being serious here. Anytime a group of us would go out to dinner, this person would always order the most expensive item on the menu. The reason being, we always would just split the bill among us. They used to order alcoholic drinks with their meal but stopped after I told the waitress to put the alcohol on a separate bill. No matter what the venue or retail place, this person would spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to figure out how to get something free or cheaper than anyone else. To me, they were a money zombie. I used to work with a person who had no scruples; they would do anything to get ahead at the company. From bad mouthing fellow employees, to stealing customers by purposely discarding items and emails meant for other employees, to make them look like they were not doing their job; this horrible employee was appalling. This person was a work zombie and hateful; all they thought about was how they could advance in their position. I could have really used one of the main stars in this action, crime horror film by my side when I used to work at that company.      THE OFFER WAS TOO GOOD TO believe from the billionaire casino owner, except for the part about infiltrating a city filled with zombies. With Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, My Spy) as Scott Ward, Ella Purnell (Never Let Me Go, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) as Kate Ward, Ana de la Reguera (Collisions, The Popcorn Chronicles) as Maria Cruz, Omari Hardwick (American Skin, Sorry to Bother You) as Vanderohe and Theo Rossi (Ghosts of War, Luke Cage-TV) as Burt Cummings; I admired the concept for the zombies in this film, along with the idea behind the story. The action scenes were big and graphic which played well in the locale that was the setting for this story. The characters were your typical type in a zombie film, but I enjoyed them, nonetheless. There were a couple of predicaments that were predictable, to the point where I wondered why the other characters could not see it as well. The other issue I had was the length of the film; it was too long. With some editing, I think this picture would have been more exciting and quicker to play out. For a zombie movie, this one had some good points and some not so good ones.                         

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Don’t Look Up

WHEN I CHOSE THE MOVIE I AM reviewing today, I did not realize a connection could be formed between the events surrounding today’s date and the film’s story. I honestly did not plan it that way; however, since I am writing about the movie on this day, there is no way I cannot point out they compliment each other. Now before I go into review mode, I want to stress a point; just like my fitness and yoga classes, I do not discuss politics or religion on this site. The reason is simple; every religion is valid to those who identify with that religion and politics, in recent times, is something where everyone has their own opinions and beliefs. I make it a point not to discuss either topic with a room full of people. I remember one cycle class I was teaching, where a participant made a snarky comment about a political figure. Before anyone could shout out a rebuttal, I looked at the member and told them I do not allow any political comments; they can be said outside of the classroom, because in class we all want to get a break from the real world and simply have some fun while exercising. That was the last time that member said anything political in my class.      WITH THAT BEING SAID, I AM going to share my observations and feelings about what I saw today, one year ago. I saw a level of anger that reminded me of my encounter with protesters years ago when I participated in a peaceful march. I saw government property being destroyed. I felt I might be witnessing a revolution. As I sat in disbelief in front of the television, I wondered what was going to be the end game for the people attacking the capital. How would the world change if a politician was captured or even worse, murdered? From that day, listening and watching all the speeches and condemnations, I will tell you what I find appalling; people who denounced the actions of the protesters a year ago, now saying something completely opposite. To say a year later that the protesters were peaceful, or part of a far-left group planted at the capital, is something I find sad and dishonest. This is my opinion and I again stress, what would have happened if the vice president was captured? Or the speaker of the house? I heard as clear as day protesters calling out their names as they were looking for the politicians inside the capital building. To disbelieve what took place a year ago, is the horrible alternate reality that has risen in prominence the past few years. This movie satire turns a spotlight onto this alternate reality that is around us.      SPOTTING THEN CALCULATING A DISTANT METEOR’S trajectory was on a direct collision course with Earth, was not the hardest part for two scientists. It was trying to convince an uninterested public. With Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood) as Dr. Randall Mindy, Jennifer Lawrence (Red Sparrow, American Hustle) as Kate Dibiasky, Meryl Streep (Little Women, The Post) as President Orlean, Cate Blanchett (Nightmare Alley, Thor: Ragnarok) as Brie Evantee and Rob Morgan (Mudbound, Stranger Things-TV) as Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe; this comedic drama had a stellar cast. The standouts for me were Cate and Jennifer. The script was sharp and biting (at least to me) but there was too much stuffed into it. There was one story line that was not believable to me; others were done in such a heavy-handed way that the scenes fell flat for me. The level of satire was outrageous. While watching this film, I did wonder if those who prefer living in an alternative reality would enjoy this film and to tell you the truth, I am not sure.  Basing this strictly on entertainment value, I enjoyed watching it but was also a bit scared by some of the similarities to present life. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.

 

 2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Jungle Cruise

I DO NOT KNOW WHY, BUT adventure thrills are always better when they get shared with someone. Isn’t it true? There is something about experiencing a new thrill that resonates stronger when you have someone come along for the ride. I remember when a group of us went to a new amusement park that had a water ride mimicking white water rafting. We all piled into this circular, inflated yellow raft with a type of steering apparatus in the center. When the park attendant pushed us out of the holding dock, we started out on calm waters. However, it changed rather quickly when we went down an embankment and into this pool of churning water that swept us quickly down the course a/k/a churning river. All of us held onto the steering wheel as we hooted and hollered with all the jostling and bumping the raft was enduring. Sprays of water doused us periodically, keeping us cool in the hot summer sun. As we neared the end of the ride there was a steeper “waterfall” we had to endure. It was a bit tense at first as the water under the raft picked up speed then dropped us into the waterfall, which was an adrenalin rush for me. At the bottom of the falls, the raft quietly floated over to a receiving dock area where park attendants were helping people get out of their rafts. It was one of the best water rides I experienced, and I was glad I did it with my friends.      DESPITE HAVING TAKEN MANY LONG WEEKEND trips alone, when I go with friends and family members, there always seems to be an adventure we wind up sharing. Recently in San Diego a couple of us rented a pedal boat to take out into San Diego Bay. We were fine while in the marina because it was smooth and calm as we leisurely pedaled up and down rows of piers and docks. However, when we got out into the bay the water turned choppy with a stronger current underneath. We had to pedal faster as the boat bobbed up and down. Our time out there did not last long as we looked at each other at the same time and said we made it out and now it is time to go back where things are calmer. Once out of the bay we laughed about it since we had these grand plans to go down the coast to see the sights. It still was a great experience that I was glad to be sharing with someone close. I felt the main characters in this fantasy film were experiencing a similar situation to mine, which I enjoyed watching.      HER FATHER BELIEVED IT WAS TRUE; so, Dr. Lily Houghton, played by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place franchise, Mary Poppins Returns), was determined to find this special plant reported only to be found deep in the Amazon jungle. With Dwayne Johnson (Red Notice, Skyscraper) as Frank Wolff, Edgar Ramirez (Deliver Us from Evil, Point Break) as Aguirre, Jack Whitehall (Mother’s Day, Clifford the Big Red Dog) as MacGregor Houghton and Jessie Plemons (The Irishman, The Power of the Dog) as Prince Joachim; this action, adventure comedy was saved by the performances of Dwayne and Emily. I would not put them in the same category as Abbott & Costello or Burns and Allen, but they certainly were a fun couple to watch on the big screen. The script was rather generic as it pulled in ideas from a variety of movie stories such as The Mummy, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pirates of the Caribbean among others. This was simply a fluffy fantasy film that was easy to view without a lot of thought to it. I am sure if the movie studio made money on this picture, they will then try to do a sequel. If they do, I just hope they get a better story line and script, besides having Emily and Dwayne starring in it.

1/2 stars

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Matrix Resurrections

I SAT THERE STARING AT THIS small electronic box in the middle of the table. Photos of the restaurant’s food options appeared and disappeared across the display screen along with the various advertisements. Besides the box in the middle of the table, there was a crystal cube sitting alongside it. Encased in the cube was a QR code that I had to point my cell phone camera at to download a copy of their menu onto my phone. Once I decided what to order, I waited for someone to come take it. While waiting I noticed across the way a bank of dispensing machines. A couple of them dealt with soft drinks that a customer could concoct various flavors into their soft drink. I tried reading the options on the lit screen, but it was too far away for me to see. I sat there, while waiting for my friend to show up, as my mind drifted to memories of other restaurants, I visited that relied solely on wait staff to hand out menus, describe the specials of the day, and bring drinks and food orders to the table. It seemed to me as if the human experience associated with dining out was being replaced by machines.      MY FRIEND FINALLY SHOWED UP, SETTLING herself across from me in the booth. I had not seen her for a long time, yet she looked the same as far as I could tell. She had no issue navigating the electronic devices as she quickly decided what she wanted for lunch. We spent all the time before our food arrived, talking about our shared history such as the company where we both first met, updating on our family members we had heard so much about when we were working together and present jobs. The food finally arrived via a non-descript waiter. It was good to catch up with her; however, I noticed as we were eating that there was not much else to talk about except for things in the past. Her interests and mine were very different; so, me talking about movies would have fallen on deaf ears. Yet, I still enjoyed spending some time with her because of all the memories it stirred up. We had a fun time together when we worked together because we had a similar humor and reaction to the antics that used to take place around us. Still, by the time it came to pay the bill, I was glad we were done because I was “pulling at straws” to find something to talk about with her. I felt sort of the same regarding this action, science fiction sequel.      NEARLY TWENTY LATER NEO, PLAYED BY Keanu Reeves (John Wick franchise, Destination Wedding), is a top video game creator. One game in particular resembles a part of his past life, hmmm. With Carrie-Anne Moss (Memento, Jessica Jones-TV) as Trinity, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, Candyman) as Morpheus, Jonathan Groff (Hamilton, Glee-TV) as Smith and Jessica Henwick (Love and Monsters, Game of Thrones-TV) as Bugs; this film’s saving grace was its humor, believe it or not. The abundance of references and video clips to the past films got to be a bit much, but at least they were entertaining at times. I found the story as murky as the visuals at time; I early on decided not to try and figure anything out, just go with the action. There were some good action scenes and visuals, but nothing that stood out to make this movie elevate itself over the previous ones. The draw for me here was the nostalgia factor and the writers certainly knew that would work. I recalled the feelings I had when I saw the first film; it was a revelation of new surprises. With this one, it was more of a “oh yeah, I remember that” type of experience. If one has not seen any of the other movies, they will probably be confused watching this one. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.                                      

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Madame X

I KNEW GOING IN THERE WOULD be a good chance my ears would be ringing by the end of the night. It was part of the event. We would be sitting with anticipation in a cavernous stadium with 20,000 people who all came for the same reason. Sometimes there would be a wall of speakers on both sides of the stage; other times, they would be hidden behind some type of fabric or paper scenery. I knew if there were added speakers suspended from the ceiling then the sound would be massive. Either way we knew we were going to hear music; we just did not know if it would be clear based on the acoustics of the arena. I loved going to concerts so much, that at one point, I was going nearly every weekend during the summer months. The places would be either enclosed or outdoor spots, though I preferred indoor so I would not have to worry about any precipitation. Those times when we could use public transportation to get to the concert, were extra memorable because the train cars were usually full of other concertgoers. There was such a festive atmosphere on the train; some people singing, others dressed up like one of the members of the band. Going to a concert was truly an event.      WHAT DRIVES ME TO ATTEND A music concert is the theatrics of it. I expect to experience more than just the artist singing their songs. I once went to a concert where the singer either sat on a stool or stood up to the microphone stand and sang a list of their music hits, with little talking between the songs. It was like listening to their album, which I could have done at home. Though they had an abundance of top ten hits, I never went to see them again because their concert was boring. After attending concerts where I witnessed a laser light drawn eagle take flight above my head and where King Kong appeared with the singer draped over the gorilla’s hand like Fay Wray, I want to be totally entertained. For that reason, I have seen a few of Madonna’s concerts. Putting her singing abilities to the side; she is nothing but one of the best at marketing her brand. Full dance numbers, costume changes and acrobats are just a few reasons her concerts tend to be spectacular. Going to one of her concerts one never knows what to expect, except for a full theatrical production. And for that reason, I was excited to see this musical documentary.      MADAME X, PLAYED BY MADONNA (EVITA, A League of Their Own), is a secret agent who travels the world fighting for freedom. Directed by Ricardo Gomes (Union Bay, Urban Sea) and newcomer SKNX, this concert filmed in Portugal was filled with a variety of singers and dancers who joined Madonna on stage. Both the video clips and stage productions were tight and well performed; however, I found the filming of the concert annoying. It was choppy due to the quick shots jumping from front to back and side to side. The music predominately consisted of Madonna’s more current music which was not as appealing to me as her earlier stuff. In her earlier days her political statements were fresh and heartfelt; at this stage they came off a bit to theatrical and seemed as if they were on a long list that she was checking off as the show went on. I never considered her a great singer, more a great performer; but in this concert tour, I never felt the sense of excitement like I experienced in her other ones. Maybe if the editing had been less frenetic and she had included a few of her older songs, I would have enjoyed watching this film. Standing on its own, I know I would have been upset if I had paid for a ticket to go see this show in person. 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Respect

WE WERE WAITING FOR OVER AN hour past the designated time, before she walked out on stage. No announcement, no greetings; she barely even looked out at us. I was excited to see her perform live since I had been listening to her songs for some years. When she stepped out onto the stage all of us got up out of our seats and cheered for her, immediately forgetting the long delay. She was dressed in a long, peach colored dress that sparkled under the spotlights. Musicians flooded out from both sides of the stage, quickly making their way to their spots. A grand piano sat just off center of the stage that a man walked up to and sat down. He began to fiddle with a stack of sheet music he had carried with, pulling out several sheets that he placed on top of the piano. She stood next to the microphone stand, watching him with a look on her face like a mother irritated for reminding her child it was bedtime. With everyone settled into their spot, the man at the piano struck a key with his finger while the other hand moved up and down as he snapped his fingers. The band started and the singer turned her back to us as she began to sing one of her songs. Throughout the entire concert I only saw her face a couple of times.      AFTER THAT SHOW, I VOWED I would never spend money to go see her in concert. She was the first musical artist I ever saw live in concert who did not say one word between singing her songs. I was not the only one who felt this way. During her song “Respect,” someone sitting near me yelled out, “Why don’t you give us some respect?” I remember sitting there at one point and wondering if she had forgotten how a song gets to be #1 on the music charts. It gets there based on sales and downloads. In other words, it is the fans who buy and listen to the song that determine its rank. I understand everyone has a “bad” day; I know I do. However, I do not let my issues interfere with my job. It makes no sense for me to unload my frustrations onto someone else, especially since they have not been part of the problem. Despite my feelings about the musical artist Aretha Franklin, I went to see this movie with an open mind and as usual avoided hearing and reading any reviews about it beforehand.      AT AN EARLY AGE THERE WAS something special about the little girl’s singing. At times, it would be the only thing that saves her. With Jennifer Hudson (Cats, Black Nativity) as Aretha Franklin, Forest Whitaker (Black Panther, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey) as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans (A Haunted House franchise, On the Rocks) as Ted White, Tituss Burgess (Then Came You, Are you Joking?) as James Cleveland and Audra McDonald (Hello Again, The Good Fight-TV) as Barbara; this biographical musical drama survived because of Jennifer and Forest. She was incredible in the role and I can see why Aretha hand picked her to play the role. The musical numbers were the highlight for me; as for the other scenes, they felt sanitized. It was as if every scene was done with the idea of scratching only the surface of the event to keep things clean and tidy. I felt the script, based on true events, was scrubbed of any scenes that would place Aretha in a “bad light.” It was as if scenes with strong emotions on display were being dialed down. Again, the performances were terrific as was the musical scenes; but by the end of the film, I was a bit numb about the whole thing—except the ending scene during the start of the credits.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: F9 The Fast Saga

A FOND CHILDHOOD MEMORY OF MINE was the many times I went to the auto show. Having built and painted a fleet of model racing cars, I loved seeing all the new cars inside the convention center. The faster a car could go, the more I was attracted to it. I would impatiently wait by a sports car, wishing the attendees sitting inside would get out, so I could sit behind the wheel and pretend I was speeding down a long highway. There was not one compartment, switch or knob that I left untouched. At some of the displays there were hired people, dressed in fancy clothes, who would walk around the car and talk about it to any passing person. To emphasize the point, they would eagerly open a car door to invite the individual to come and take a seat in the “latest,” most “advanced” automobile that is out on the street today. I took all of this in, fantasizing that one day I could get hired to talk about all the cars on display. Adding to my excitement, would be all the pamphlets and paraphernalia that the different auto manufacturers would pass out. By the end of the day, I usually had two full bags of stuff that I collected throughout the exhibit.      I HAD ANOTHER SPECIAL MEMORY FROM my times at the auto show. In the cafeteria where we would stop for lunch, they sold one of my favorite cookies but in a smaller size. I loved the idea of my favorite cookie being in a bite-size form because they were so easy to pop in my mouth. And they would not leave any crumbs. I always made sure I finished the bag before we would continue our way through the convention center. Even to this day, I remember those little sized cookies. Now, when I go to the grocery store, there are so many options to my favorite cookie that it becomes overwhelming. I remember when they changed the packaging and proudly proclaimed “New & Improved” across the top. They tasted the same to me. However, with their latest version, I must tell you I did not think they tasted as good as I remembered. After so many years, I hope I am not just getting bored with them; they did not excite me like I know they did in the past. I feel the same about this latest installment in the film franchise despite my love of fast cars.      AFTER HAVING SETTLED INTO A QUIET, idyllic life in the country, a crisis forces Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel (Bloodshot, The Last Witch Hunter), and the crew to deal with a terrorist that can match their fight and driving skills. With Michelle Rodriguez (The Assignment, Battle Los Angeles) as Letty, Jordana Brewster (American Heist, Home Sweet Hell) as Mia, Tyrese Gibson (Black and Blue, Transformers franchise) as Roman and John Cena (Vacation Friends, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Jakob; this action, crime adventure took the stunt driving to a new level. I enjoyed watching the over-the-top car scenes; however, there were so many of them that it got repetitive for me. There was no place for logic nor was there any time to focus on the characters. It was humor, race, pause for words of wisdom and repeat. The script could have gotten some help if it had incorporated more of Charlize Theron’s character because one of the “evil” characters was not very evil in my opinion. The cast appears quite comfortable with each other and I imagine they are enjoying themselves during the filming process. I am afraid compared to the prior installments in this film franchise, this latest one was more of a basic model instead of being top of the line. There was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Venom: Let There Be Carnage

I KNEW MY FRIEND WAS NOT prone to hyperbole, but the gentleman sitting with us at the dinner table was as friendly and jovial as could be. The picture that my friend painted of this man, prior to the dinner engagement, made me hesitant to attend the evet. I was told he was a tyrant who would belittle everyone around him; he was an uber alpha male, though physically not the stereotype. He was quite tall, easily 6’5” in length with an equally large girth. My friend said this man used his height to intimidate his peers and business associates; he loved to lean slightly forward while bending his head to exaggerate the look of peering down at his prey. One story I remember my friend telling me was about a time when this man was trying to return an item to a store and the clerk couldn’t accept it because it had been opened. The amount of anger he displayed to the clerk made her cry and call the manager, who eventually took the item back to stop the man from making a bigger scene in front of the other customers. Throughout the dinner I found this gentleman to be friendly and engaging to the other wedding guests sitting at our table. I did not know what to say when afterwards my friend said the man who was sitting with us was not the man he knew, he must have been an imposter.      THE ONLY THING I COULD COME up with, regarding the drastic contrast, between perceptions and reality was to assume the gentleman was either put on medication or doing therapy or possibly found a new way of life. Keeping in mind that I believe each of us is born with both good and evil, the experience at the wedding was not a total surprise; I have encountered many individuals who you could say acted as if they had dual personalities. There was a member in one of my yoga classes who could walk into the room as light and cheery as you could imagine; other times, she looked as if it took all her strength just to put one foot in front of the other and would keep a sad, dour look on her face. When she was “down” I knew there was no coaxing I could do to get her involved with the class. Some say it might be a chemical imbalance in the brain, others could think the drastic contrasts in behavior were drug related. Then there is this picture that offers the possibility it could be due to an alien manifestation.      GETTING THE OPPORTUNITY TO INTERVIEW AN inmate on death row could provide a needed boost to Eddie Brock’s, played by Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, The Revenant), career. However, a small incident causes a major shift in the balance of power at the prison. With Woody Harrelson (The Highwaymen, Zombieland franchise) as Cletus Kasady, Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn, All the Money in the World) as Anne Weying, Naomie Harris (Collateral Beauty Rampage) as Frances Barrison and Reid Scott (Black and Blue, Late Night) as Dr. Dan Lewis; this action, adventure sequel amped up the humor in a major way. I thought Tom did a wonderful job in both his acting and stunts. The issue I had with this movie was once again the script. With the abundance of humor and mayhem stuffing the story, it just started to get repetitious for me after a while. I think if more time had been given to develop the characters deeper, it would have been a better viewing experience. In a way, I had this opposite thing going where there were parts I enjoyed watching then other sections were blah. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits.

2 ½ stars  

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