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Flash Movie Review: Aladdin

I HAD NOT THOUGHT OF HER for some years. She was a friend of a friend of mine; so, we would occasionally see each other at gatherings. Her appearance was always kept to a high fashion level, from shoes to jackets; she did not come out and say where she shopped, but many of her clothes would tell you by the logo or label that was prominently displayed. My conversations with her were kept to light pleasantries. I never knew until later that she had been conducting research on me. In fact, I found out she would always investigate any new men who came into this circle of friends. And by research, I mean she would find out the men’s occupation, marital status, living situation and several other key factors that would determine if they were worthy of her dating them. The thing that I found the most appalling was her use of her employer’s resources to investigate the credit worthiness of these men. She would pull reports that would show a history of the guy’s finances and FICO scores. I could not believe it when I heard about it; she was not looking for love, she was looking for a large bank account as far as I could tell.      SHE WAS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF a greedy person. All she was looking for was someone who could fund her whims and purchases, in my opinion. The reason I thought of her after all this time was due to seeing this movie. The story it is based on is a classic one, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. When I first heard this story, the phrase “open sesame,” became part of my vocabulary. What little boy did not want to have the power to open things just by uttering those two words? However, it was this story where I learned about greed. From reading the story, I later noticed there were several movies that had the same message. The Thief of Bagdad, Arabian Nights and Aladdin’s Magic Lamp to name a few, besides television shows such as Scooby-Doo! In Arabian Nights or the opera Ali Baba; over many decades the public has been exposed to this classic story. Now comes along this live version of the animated film from 1992 and again I get the chance to see what greed can do to people; however, I do not think what I saw was what the movie studio intended to show us.      FROM A CHANCE MEETING OUT ON the streets, a poor street urchin gets the chance to make his wishes come true. However, he is not the only one. This adventure comedy presented an updated version of the tale. Starring Will Smith (I Am Legend, Wild Wild West) as Genie, Mena Massed (Run This Town, Let’s Rap) as Aladdin, Naomi Scott (The 33, Power Rangers) as Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari (Ben-Hur, Murder on the Orient Express) as Jafar and Navid Negahban (12 Strong, Charlie Wilson’s War) as Sultan; this now is my 3rd time seeing this version of the story, having seen the original animated film and the live theater production. If you have never seen any of these then you might enjoy this family film more than I did. I knew Will would have a hard time doing a performance that would be as memorable as Robin Williams’ take on the Genie, and sure enough it was just okay overall. Aladdin’s singing voice was not that good to me and I did not find any chemistry between him and Jasmine. The special effects were nothing special; to be perfectly honest, I was underwhelmed by this picture. All I could think of was the movie studio’s greed allowed this film to come to fruition.

 

2 ¼ stars    

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Flash Movie Review: Isn’t it Romantic

IT WASN’T UNTIL ONE OF MY first paying jobs where I finally felt I had a sense of hope. Up to then I was sure I was being judged more on my looks. At this job an older employee befriended me, helping me get accustomed to the work environment. One day towards the end of the work day he came over to my work area to fill out his paperwork. I have no idea how the subject came up but at some point, he was telling me the differences between two female employees, who I happened to be friends with each one. I thought maybe he was fishing for information, but I had nothing to offer him. He explained to me why he would not date one of the two women. I still had no idea why he was telling me this; but the thing that intrigued me was the fact he was talking about the female that many of the male employees felt was the more attractive one. This employee came to work everyday with her makeup just right and her hair always styled as if she was prepped for a photo shoot. She was skinny and wore what appeared to be very expensive clothing. This guy’s comments were so counter to anything I had heard before; by the way, most of the other male employees made sexist and rude remarks about this “prettier” employee.      THE OTHER FEMALE EMPLOYEE WAS THE opposite. I would refer to her as being low maintenance. Her clothing was more comfortable looking than fashionable. She usually wore her hair in a ponytail and rarely wore makeup. You may be wondering what I found so fascinating about that male employee’s comments about not being interested in dating a woman like the other female employee. What surprised me was him saying he would prefer being with someone like the non-makeup employee because she was funny and witty, had a hearty laugh and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. I wasn’t sure how to process some of his comments; however, the fact he was not focusing on superficial things is what gave me hope in the dating world. Not looking like any of the men in advertisements, besides not being athletic; that someone would be more interested in a person’s qualities was something I had not seen among my peers. Most people I have listened to tend to comment about a person’s looks before they will mention anything with more substance. The main character in this comedic fantasy would certainly understand me.      WAKING UP FROM A HEAD INJURY cynical Natalie, played by Rebel Wilson (How to be Single, Pitch Perfect franchise), found herself in a hellish position; she was in the middle of what appeared to be a romantic comedy. None of it was part of her real life. With Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games franchise, Love and Honor) as Blake, Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect franchise, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) as Josh, Priyanka Chopra (Baywatch, A Kid Like Jake) as Isabella and Betty Gilpin (True Story, Glow-TV) as Whitney; this romantic comedy started with a solid idea for a story. The cast was fun to watch, especially Rebel flourishing in her element. There was nothing that warranted out loud laughing, but there were scenes that made me chuckle. This is a fantasy so one needs to let go with part of their reality to get something out of this picture. The message was right on and I enjoyed the satirical touches that were sprinkled into the script. Could this have been a better written film and allow Rebel to do more? Sure, but for a light stroll through an alternative reality, this movie was okay. Notice nothing was mentioned about the looks of this film.

 

2 ¼ stars             

Flash Movie Review: Cold Pursuit

IT IS MY MAIN GROCERY STORE that I have been going to for over 10 years. Though the store is one of the grocery chain’s larger format stores, I can quickly navigate through the aisles with efficiency. After so many years I pretty much know where everything is located, and I must tell you that is the reason I do not mind shopping for groceries. I am such a routine person that I find calmness when I can go on automatic and not have to think about what I am doing; I am talking about the more mundane chores we do as adults. Pushing my shopping cart to the exact products I need to buy is a wonderful thing. I do not have the patience to wander aimlessly up and down the aisles, as I try to find something. It is such a waste of time. Another thing I try to do is go food shopping late at night when there are less people in the store. During these times I can be in and out of the store with several bags of groceries in under 15 minutes. When I walk in I know what to expect.      THE DATE WAS OCTOBER 10TH, A date I will never forget because that is when everything changed for me. My grocery store was closed for a short time after they spent months remodeling. The closure was to fully restock all the shelves and have their “Grand Reopening” celebration. I walked in and immediately felt like I had walked into a strange place. All the aisles had been redone; I did not know where anything was as I struggled looking for some semblance of normalcy. My bread was no longer in Aisle 2 as well as my cereal was now hiding somewhere else. I was distraught. Ok, maybe I am being a little too dramatic here; but I was not comfortable having to go up and down aisles, trying to find the stuff on my grocery list. In time I knew I would learn all the changes and go back to putting myself on automatic, to quickly make my way thru the store. I do not think I am the only person who does this, but don’t others like to know what to expect when going into a situation? Whether it is the grocery store, sporting event or instructional session; there are times where a person wants to know what they are getting into before committing to it. That is usually the case with this actor’s movies; you know what to expect from him.      BEING TOLD HIS SON DIED OF A drug overdose was not something Nels Coxman, played by Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Widows), believed; he knew his son was not a “druggie.” Nels was determined to find out how his son died, and he was not going to let anyone stop him. This dramatic action thriller also starred Laura Dern (Wild, Wild at Heart) as Grace Coxman, Emmy Rossum (The Phantom of the Opera, The Day After Tomorrow) as Kim Dash, Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express, Snatched) as Trevor “Viking” Calcote and Domenick Combardozzi (Miami Vice, The Family) as Mustang. These days you know exactly what you are going to get when you see Liam Neeson in a film. He played the same type of character here as he has done before; an uber masculine, macho man who doesn’t appear to have the lethal skill set needed for the character but does. The only difference with this script compared to the others Liam has recently been in is this one had an element of dark humor. It wasn’t bad; but I thought there needed to be more of it, to tell you the truth. I was confused by Liam’s character; how did he get to be such a menace in this film, there was no back story. Still the story was not so different that it would stand out. I expected as much when I bought my movie ticket.

 

2 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: Generation Wealth

DOES THE FLAME FROM AN EXPENSIVE stove cook your food better than a flame from a cheap one? I have been wondering this since I had the opportunity to cook on a high-tech cooktop range. The knob lights up red when you turn a burner on, after emitting 3-4 clicks; I know it is a safety type of feature, but I am not sure what is clicking. This range and double ovens are something I have seen in real estate listings of high-end properties. I don’t know how, but I get a weekly email of places up for sale in the metropolitan area. Most of them are super luxurious; properties I have only seen in a movie or on the news. As I look through the photo gallery of rooms I am always struck by the amount of money it must have cost to furnish each room. Floors made of exotic woods, countertops of a vibrant mineral, light fixtures that dazzle the eyes; the places look like modern palaces. Some homes have so many rooms, I swear a person could easily get lost in them. And do you know what my biggest question is about these properties? Why does a person need so much?      PERSONAL WEALTH HAS BECOME SUCH A status symbol for society. When a person is rich, most people consider that individual successful. I do not feel that way. Just because a person makes a large amount of money doesn’t mean they are rich with kindness, compassion or love for example. Being a people watcher, I am always surprised when I see how children and adults treat their personal items. Kids abusing expensive electronic devices by throwing them on the floor or spilling stuff on them; I would not give them to a child until they were responsible enough to use it. There seems to be this obsession of acquiring the latest and greatest things, besides making ourselves look younger and more beautiful. I look at people who have had plastic surgery to make themselves appear younger and all I see is a face vacuum sealed onto a skull; they can barely move their lips and forget about being able to show emotion on their faces. Why does someone think lips plumped out to look like two pieces of sushi on their face is desirable? I think part of it is due to what is being marketed and advertised these days. This documentary delves into this obsession with wealth that seems prevalent throughout society.      WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY LAUREN GREENFIELD (The Queen of Versailles, Thin), this film festival nominee had an ambitious goal of showing us a multitude of examples regarding the theme of this movie. I have enjoyed Lauren’s previous works. She shows things to viewers; allowing them to make up their own minds, without being preachy. There were some startling scenes throughout this film that kept me engaged with the story line, but I found the message did not resonate as much. Using her own life as part of the story bogged down the flow of ideas; yet, I felt the topic was totally spot on as Lauren tackled wealth, status and fame. These three led into categories of plastic surgery and porn. Maybe if she would have cut back a bit to focus more on one of them, this picture would have been more direct. Though I never lost interest in this documentary, there was a part of me that felt nonplussed. Maybe because I am not monetarily wealthy or care about status and fame made me feel this way; but I will say, there was enough in this picture worth viewing.

 

2 ¼ stars — DVD 

Flash Movie Review: The Grinch

MY FRIEND HAD A NAME FOR those types of individuals; she called them, “Happiness Vampires.” It was the perfect name I thought. A “Happiness Vampire” is a person who cannot celebrate and be a part of someone else’s happiness; they instead try to suck the happiness out of that person. I would even go a step further by saying these “Happiness Vampires” only feel good about themselves when someone else is feeling bad. That is so twisted I think. I believe all of us have encountered these dour people sometime in our lives, even if they were not at the time acting out on their negativity. My friend who came up with this term figured it out after dating this person for almost one year. I guess because she was in the throes of falling in love, she did realize what he was doing to her. His method was like a sneak attack because he would appear to be happy and congratulatory for her, but then would express these negative scenarios or possible repercussions that could happen to her. Pretty soon her good mood would dim and turn sour, leaving her depressed while her “boyfriend” would build himself up as her shining knight who would save her. I was so happy when she finally dumped him.      RECENTLY I ATTENDED A DINNER PARTY where I encountered a guest who turned out to be a “Happiness Vampire.” It was an elegant affair with some prominent people in attendance. When I was introduced to this one individual I suddenly was hit with a bad feeling. It was as if the air was being sucked out around me with a vacuum cleaner. He was short and squat in stature; if you would place him at a fast food restaurant’s salad bar he would fit in perfectly. The person who introduced me to this individual was a successful financial man in his own right; however, this sour man quickly took an opportunity to build himself up by tossing a negative comment (some say back-handed compliment) about this prominent person. The reason he did such a thing was to talk about something he felt was a big success in his career. I caught it right away and just stood there listening to this man go on about his so-called accomplishments. The real successful individual also stood there with a smile on their face that looked like it was painted on with Botox; it did not budge the entire time the other man carried on about himself. He tried to take away our good feelings like the Grinch in this animated, family comedy but we did not let him succeed.      BASED ON DR. SEUSS’ BELOVED BOOK, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas;” this movie had Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Doctor Strange) voicing The Grinch, Cameron Seely (The Greatest Showman, The Jim Gaffigan Show-TV) voicing Cindy-Lou Who, Rashida Jones (The Social Network, Parks and Recreation-TV) voicing Donna Who and musical artist Pharrell Williams as the Narrator. This story has been done many times before in different mediums; so, there was nothing new that came as a surprise except of all things Benedict’s performance. I did not care for his vocal acting; I thought he was not sinister enough for the character. Visually the movie was fun to watch (even the ending credits) and I enjoyed some of the Grinch’s exploits; but I felt this version of the Grinch was more of a lightweight compared to those Grinch’s of Christmas past. This film is well suited for younger children, but adults may get a bit tired of it. Of course, if you have never seen a movie version of Dr. Seuss’ book before then you might want to check this picture out; it almost seems as if it is a holiday tradition.

 

2 ¼ stars        

Flash Movie Review: Bad Times at the El Royale

IS THERE ANYONE WHO DOES NOT wonder where those stains and marks come from in a hotel room? I for one cannot ignore them when I see them. This is why I am never 100% comfortable when I am staying at a hotel. On a trip to the southwest I stayed at a hotel that was one of the tallest buildings in the city. When I walked into my room everything looked fine. Just like most hotels I have stayed in; this one had a bed, 2 nightstands, an armoire, a desk, an easy chair and a floor lamp. When I walked into the bathroom I was immediately horrified because there appeared to be a blood-stained streak on the shower curtain. My mind was flooded with scenarios that could have caused blood to get splattered in the bathroom. I was not going to attempt to clean it, nor could I simply ignore it. If that was not enough, I decided to relieve my bladder before going downstairs to request a room change. When I went to flush the toilet, the water gurgled inside the bowl but never flushed down; it looked as if the water was simmering close to a boil. I wasn’t about to wonder what was causing the toilet not to flush. The room and in turn the hotel creeped me out.      ON ANOTHER TRIP I BOOKED A ROOM in this huge, old majestic hotel. I do not remember the year the building was constructed, but it was originally built as an apartment building. With terra cotta appointments on the façade and a lobby that looked like it came out of 1920’s detective story, I thought the hotel was cool looking. The elevators with jet black doors and silver trim creaked as they traveled up the floors, slightly unsteady like an elderly patient. When I walked into the room I was met by a wall that had worn-out flocked wallpaper. As soon as one entered the room they had to make an immediate right turn to go into the living space. It appeared the original apartments must have been carved up to form the hotel rooms; the room had odd shaped corners and the bathroom door nearly grazed the toilet bowl when it was being closed. There was something about the hotel that made me think about the original residences who must have resided here earlier. During my stay little things happened such as the lightbulb burning out and the water faucet groaning whenever it was turned on. I stayed there despite the odd sounds and my concerns for my safety and hygiene. But I will tell you this; I would rather stay in either of the hotels I mentioned than the one in this mystery thriller.      A GROUP OF STRANGERS CHECKED INTO the El Royale but not all of them would check out. This dramatic crime film starred Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) as Father Daniel Flynn, Cynthia Erivo (Widows, Mr. Selfridge-TV) as Darlene Sweet, Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, A Bigger Splash) as Emily Summerspring, Jon Hamm (Baby Driver, Million Dollar Arm) as Laramie Seymour Sullivan and Chris Hemsworth (Thor franchise, 12 Strong) as Billy Lee. I enjoyed the cast and the diversity of the characters they portrayed. This picture had a great look to it with a smoldering script, which allowed every actor a chance in the spotlight. I also liked the way the pieces of the story fit together; however halfway through I started to get bored. It seemed as if scenes were written with less detail and emotion. Sometimes it appeared shocking twists were put in for the sake of shocking the viewer. For me this was not as much of a thriller as a slow burn and I had no desire to book a room at this hotel.

 

2 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: The Little Stranger

THESE ARE JUST MY OBSERVATIONS BASED on the people I have encountered; I am not judging any of them, only fascinated with their perceptions of life. This is what I have seen: people who are born into wealth have a different outlook of the real world. One of the first things I noticed was everything is disposable to them. Where I will try to repair something that is broken, they will throw it away and buy another one. If I had this type of mentality, a quarter of the things in my house would be tossed out into the garbage. I do not know if I have the right to say these individuals lack a sense of appreciation for everything they have, but I have seen several occasions where perfectly good things that could be easily repaired, even by me, get trashed as if they were used tissue being tossed into the garbage. Another aspect I find interesting is their choice of cars. It seems to me they buy their cars based on name brand instead of comfort; though I guess the more expensive a car the more it is geared for comfort. I knew someone who never test drove the car before purchasing it; they would only sit in it for a minute while in the showroom then make a decision.      IT SEEMS TO ME AS IF wealthy individuals lack the understanding of what the average person deals with on a daily basis. Maybe this example will explain it and keep in mind this was before car sharing was available. When I was explaining to a person that I take public transportation to the airport to avoid paying the parking garage rates to leave my car, they asked why I didn’t just take a limo instead. I had to explain to them that would defeat the purpose of saving money by not taking my car. They thought it was too much of an inconvenience to go through all of that when one could easily order a limousine. Does this help explain what I am trying to say? There was another individual who chided me for my choice of restaurants when I need a quick meal. They could not believe I would “waste” my money by eating at a fast-casual place; to them, they compared it to me being fed dog food. Can you believe it? So, therefore I feel people born into wealth have a different set of tools in dealing with everyday life. See for yourself in this dramatic, mystery horror film.      DR. FARADAY, PLAYED BY DOMHNALL Gleeson (Peter Rabbit, About Time) had not been in the mansion since he was a little boy; but upon his arrival strange things began to happen. With Ruth Wilson (Saving Mr. Banks, Dark River) as Caroline Ayres, Charlotte Rampling (45 Years, Never Let Me Go) as Mrs. Ayres, Will Poulter (Detroit, We’re the Millers) as Roderick Ayers and Josh Dylan (Allied, Mama Mia! Here We Go Again) as Bland; this movie was all about the atmosphere of the settings. The camera angles, the sets, the acting; all were done to create this spooky environment. The acting from everyone was wonderful; but once again, the script was the weak spot. I thought the story dragged through the first half and because the film is being labeled a horror movie, I thought it would have some level of scariness; it did not. Instead there was some suspense, but the writers and director could have really made this picture one intense suspenseful piece of work. There was an old decaying mansion, a troubled family and a small-town doctor; this was a perfect set-up, especially with the fine actors. Instead, I found an odd mix of events that was not engaging me.

 

2 ¼ stars       

Flash Movie Review: Book Club

THERE WAS NOTHING UNUSUAL ABOUT the couple standing in the middle of the crowd. They each had their arm wrapped around the back of the other; one had their head resting on the other’s shoulder. The music the band was playing up on stage had everyone moving to the beats. The couple was right in synch with the rhythm, moving their hips in unison. The two of them looked good together; one had a dark complexion while the other had a fair complexion with a twinge of redness. Similar in height they appeared to fit well together. Directly in front of them stood a young Millennial; she had been there for only a short time. At some point between songs she started to look around at the other fans. When she spotted the couple behind her she stopped and a smile began to grow on her face. When the couple made eye contact with her the Millennial gushed, “You two make the cutest couple. How long have you 2 been together?” The couple looked at each other with warm smiles and a chuckle. Looking back at the young girl they told her they have only been a couple for a little over one year. The Millennial was shocked and told them she could not believe it; she thought they had been a couple for at least 20 years.      HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW THE younger generations treat the older ones? If that couple was in their 20’s, I doubt anyone would gush over them and call them cute. But because they were elderly and showing signs of affection for each other, they now are just too cute. I have experienced this phenomenon at weddings where an elderly couple go out onto the dance floor. Suddenly they grab all the attention as people start to watch that old couple moving to the music; saying things like, “Look at them move” and “Can you believe them?” Seriously, it is not like they are one step away from a fall; they happen to be active and enjoy dancing to music. Just because they are old suddenly people assume the couple cannot do the same activities of someone years younger. With me teaching fitness I have experienced people becoming shocked that I am an instructor. I cannot say I am insulted, but I find it curious that there are some who have these pre-conceived notions of what an instructor should be. Just because a person looks older doesn’t mean they stop living and having fun; in fact, there are examples of what I have been saying right here in this comedy film.      FOUR LONG-TERM FRIENDS’ LIVES were sent reeling when a racy, bestselling book was introduced into their book club. The women did not even know where to begin. The main reason to see this film was the cast; without them this movie would have fallen into the discount bin. With Diane Keaton (The Family Stone, Something’s Gotta Give) as Diane, Jane Fonda (Monster-in-Law, Klute) as Vivian, Candice Bergen (Bride Wars, Murphy Brown-TV) as Sharon, Mary Steenburgen (Last Vegas, Time After Time) as Carol and Andy Garcia (City Island, The Lost City) as Mitchell; it was enjoyable to watch actors take on the life of their characters. The script was nothing special; honestly, I felt it could have thrown much more at the cast to make this a truly funny story. Instead there were more chuckles and close to syrupy cuteness coming from the scenes. It was pretty easy for me to figure out the conclusions to each story line; like I said, the director and writers played it too safe in my opinion. Despite these issues it was good to see these long careered (you thought I was going to say old, didn’t you?) actors do what they do best, who I believe feel the same way I do: age is just a number.

 

2 ¼ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Early Man

IT ALL STARTED WITH SEA GLASS. Seeing children bent over picking at the ground like hungry chickens, they were searching the beach for bits of glass that had been polished for years by the ocean. I sat on a park bench above shifting my gaze from them to the calming water slipping quietly up onto the shore. As I listened to the kids periodically shouting out they found a piece of sea glass, I wondered where the glass originated. Could it have been a broken bottle, plate or piece of ceramic that was on a boat that had sunk a century ago, who knows? I wondered what the circumstances might have been; maybe the glass had traveled halfway around the world, tumbling over and over in the currents, until it landed right here up on our shore. Each and every piece of sea glass the children collected had all been part of something else from a different time. The thought fascinated me as I imagined a variety of scenarios based on a historical past. Maybe there was a bottle with a note in it that a child from a war torn country threw into the ocean, hoping someone would find it and come save them.     AS I WAS THINKING OF the past I remembered my recent trip to the history museum. Seeing artifacts that were centuries old such as mummies and dinosaur bones created pictures in my mind of what life must have been like for these animals and individuals. Honestly I cannot stand camping so how could I have possibly survived back then? With that being said I do wish there was a way I could look into the past and see for example what circumstances led up to the first person who discovered fire. Another thing, I would like to know what caused someone to make a wheel; was it a boulder rolling down a hill or maybe someone tripped and began falling head over heels that made them think about the possibilities of having a round object as a tool. I could go on and on coming up with different scenarios and circumstances. Through my schooling it was always taught to us to look back on history as a guide to where we are now. Now we just enter something into an internet search engine and read about it; I prefer hearing someone’s story about a time gone past. Granted it would only go up to several decades past, but lucky for us this animated adventure comedy delved far back in time to show us what was really going on.     THREATENED HAVING THEIR LAND taken over Dug, voiced by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl) agrees to a wager. The wager was based on a game that was called soccer. With Tom Hiddleston (Thor franchise, I Saw the Light) as Lord Nooth, Maisie Williams (Mary Shelley, Game of Thrones-TV) as Goona and Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner, Secrets & Lies) as Chief Bobnar; the movie studio that created this film is known for their claymation technique. I love the look of their films and the quirky humor they put into their scripts. Compared to their previous films I have to tell you this one was not one of my favorites. The story was odd with having a soccer game taking place during prehistoric times. As for the script there were some jokes and puns that were not as clever as I have seen them do in the past. Where I could not stop watching their fun previous pictures, this one bored me a little. If I think about it maybe prehistoric men and women did not have the luxury to be funny.

 

2 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: 12 Strong

THERE WERE THESE BLACK AND yellow booklets/study guides I remember you could buy at a bookstore, which some folk a/k/a students used in lieu of reading an entire book. For example if a student was assigned the novel Moby Dick or Great Expectations, they could buy the study guide of the book. I have to say these booklets were an interesting idea because they did help in one’s ability to understand what they had read in the actual book. This would be beneficial if one had to write a book report or do an oral presentation of a novel. However to only read the bumblebee colored study guide would not give you the full richness of the story. Taking Moby Dick as an example, the description of the story in the booklet would be something like, “A fisherman is determined to catch a big fish.” The study guide would not give one the depth of each character with all the nuances and mannerisms of them. I believe they were only supposed to enhance the reading experience, not be a substitute for the novel.     NOW PERSONALLY I HAD SEVERAL of these study guides and not to sound like a “goody two shoes,” but I needed them to help me comprehend some of the passages I had read in several assigned books. Being a slow reader there were times I barely could finish a book before my book report was due. When I read a novel the imagery the author is creating appears right before my eyes. I feel as if I am right there with the characters. For me this is what I feel the reading experience should provide the reader. If an image cannot form I have a hard time connecting to the story; something every author wants to avoid. Another way of describing these study guides is to say they are the same meal as the original novel less the spices and condiments. As I was watching this action drama film based on a true story, I felt like I was missing some of the ingredients.     SOON AFTER THE ATTACK ON the World Trade Center an elite group of soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan for a secret operation. All of their military training did not prepare them for riding into a battle on horseback. Starring Chris Hemsworth (In the Heart of the Sea, Rush) as Captain Mitch Nelson, Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water, Take Shelter) as Hal Spencer, Michael Pena (End of Watch, American Hustle) as Sam Diller, Navid Negahban (Charlie Wilson’s War, Homeland-TV) as General Dostum and Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, Lady Luck) as Ben Milo; the actors needed a better script. The story itself was pretty unbelievable I have to say; from that aspect I was in step with this film. The fight scenes were intense and honestly the outcomes were somewhat shocking to me. However the script went from one battle to another to the point I felt I was just watching several videos of the soldiers’ battles. I never really knew the men’s motivations let alone their connections to each other. There were only a couple of scenes where I felt an emotional connection. In a way this picture reminded me of another war film that was shown in the past year or so, that was mostly tension with little story. Now I do not want to downplay the historical aspect of this story, but the script could not lift it to the level it needed to be in urgent importance. Based on this movie I would have rather seen a documentary about the unbelievable feat these soldiers endured.

 

2 ¼ stars

 

 

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