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Flash Movie Review: The Starling

FOR BEING SUCH A SMALL WORD “loss” packs a massive amount of emotion inside of itself. Some time ago, I lost a pair of sunglasses and was both sad and annoyed from it. I also have lost a loved one and was so upset I did not leave the house for several days; the loss felt like I had a massive boulder perched on my back that was trying to keep me pinned to the ground. When I was heavily dieting and lost several pounds, I was beyond elated and felt like I was floating on air. This is why I say “loss” has such a wide amount of emotions attached to it. I also know every single person reacts differently when they experience loss. I knew a woman who lost their husband to a disease and I swear, you would never know she was a grieving widow. She acted the same as she did when he was alive, cheery and upbeat. I did notice however she always kept herself busy. Either meeting relatives and friends for lunch or going shopping or working on puzzles at home, she never allowed herself time to relax because she was afraid her mind would dwell on her significant loss. There is no right or wrong way to handle the sense of loss; everyone is different.      ONE OF MY EARLIEST ENCOUNTERS WITH loss was when I lost my first wristwatch. I received it as a birthday gift when I was in elementary school. It had a superhero on the face of it and the plastic band looked like metal; I thought it was the coolest thing. After spending a day with friends, coming home for dinner, I realized it was no longer on my wrist. I wanted to go out at night and retrace my steps with the hope of finding it. My parents would not let me; so, in the morning I tried finding it to no avail. At the time it was one of the most traumatic things that happened to me. It was many years later when I experienced one of the heaviest losses of my life. It was one of the hardest times of my life; one moment I was with the love of my life and the next minute they were gone. It was awful; hard to comprehend and process to the point where I felt like I was not functioning anymore in the real world. Friends and family tried to help but I was not at a place where I could accept their kindness. It was that time of my life where I fully understood how loss can deplete a person of all their dreams and hopes. Because of it, I became better equipped to be empathetic towards others who suffered a loss. I wish I could have helped the couple in this comedic drama.      SUFFERING WITH GRIEF A MARRIED COUPLE take different paths on how to deal with it. One of them wants to kill a bird. With Melissa McCarthy (Thunder Force, The Kitchen) as Lilly Maynard, Chris O’Dowd (Molly’s Game, The Program) as Jack Maynard, Kevin Kline (Ricki and the Flash, No Strings Attached) as Dr. Larry Fine, Timothy Olyphant (Snowden, A Perfect Getaway) as Travis Delp and Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, Wonder) as Ben; this film was carried by Melissa, Chris and Kevin for the most part. Besides having incredible comedic timing, Melissa has the ability to be convincing when she is in a serious role. The script was poorly done in my opinion because the characters did not feel like they were fully developed, along with several scenes feeling forced to try and tug at our heartstrings. Nonetheless, I was engaged throughout the story; even when it would drag at times. Due to the acting, after I was done watching I did not feel like I lost time that I would never be able to get back.

2 ¼ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Irresistible

AS WE WERE SEATED, EATING DINNER, the candidate was walking around to each table introducing herself. Though I could appreciate the face-to-face introduction, I was told her behavior was highly inappropriate because the dinner was supposed to be a bipartisan casual event free of political campaigning. I saw the other candidate sitting at a table with a glass of wine, laughing and talking with the other guests at their table. There was very little I knew about each candidate, only what state they represented and their previous profession. Outside of playing a mayor in a school play and seeing political candidates at various fundraisers or parades, this was the closest in proximity I have been to a candidate. I much prefer a candidate that does things that brings them in contact with the voters, such as knocking on doors, hanging out at train stop or town hall meetings. Getting a pre-recorded message on the phone, which I feel is out of control based on the amount I got the past year; or those pesky flyers in the mail does not sway my opinion of a person running for office. If anything, I might think they are wasting money based on the deluge of junk mail I have received and the automated phone calls.      THERE WAS A TIME WHEN AN average citizen could run for office. These days many of the candidates, from what I know, are millionaires. And with being a millionaire, the amount of money that they pour into their campaigns is obscene. The money they spend could easily feed every person in a large city or two or three. I do not understand what changed to make it so expensive to run for office. Instead of pouring money into the various advertisements, I would make each candidate canvas on foot different neighborhoods. If a candidate spends most of their time bad mouthing their opponent instead of explaining what they wish to do in office, I quickly discount their ability in becoming a leader. One of the news sources I read does fact checking on candidates’ statements/claims. It stuns me how often than not what the candidate is saying is false. When did it become acceptable to flat out lie or start false rumors? Denying facts and science is simply a shameful act in my opinion. To me elections are important enough that I feel election day should be a national holiday; everybody has the day off so they can participate in an important event. Maybe I am being naïve; I do not know. However, if even a part of the scenes in this comedic drama are based on truth; then the election process needs an upgrade.      TRYING TO RECOVER FROM A HEAVY LOSS, a political strategist agrees to handle the campaign of a small-town private citizen. Whether a big national campaign or small town, winning comes at any cost. With Steve Carell (The Big Short, Welcome to Marwen) as Gary Zimmer, Rose Byrne (Peter Rabbit franchise, Instant Family) as Faith Brewster, Chris Cooper (Live by Night, August: Osage County) as Jack Hastings, Brent Sexton (Flightplan, The Belko Experiment) as Mayor Braun and Will Sasso (The Three Stooges, Happy Gilmore) as Big Mike; the cast was well chosen for their roles, though Steve and Rose stood out for me. I thought they worked well together. The idea behind the script was absolutely spot on; but I felt its execution was a hit and miss. There were scenes that were dynamite, both wicked and funny and then other scenes came out flat. Without much character development, the characters started to look like typical stereotypes instead of full-fledged human beings. Overall, this was a valiant try at satire, comedy and drama; yet it still scares me a little that things in here might be possible. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.                        

2 ¼ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Cry Macho

I DO NOT KNOW IF THE term “broken home” is still used to describe a child’s home, who has divorced parents. To me, the term was an odd choice of words because the word broken has a negative connotation to it; at least that is how I define it. Who is to say the family is broken? Maybe home life will be better for the child now that the parents are no longer together. I believe it is up to the parents to have as their number one focus their children. If I were to use the term “broken home” regarding a divorced mom and dad, I would only use it if the parents are using their child as a weapon against each other. In that case, I would say it is not a broken home; it is a broken parent. There was a family I knew where this happened when the parents decided to divorce. The mother would say negative things about the father in front of the child, working to twist the impressionable mind of the child to favor her over her ex-husband. I found it appalling. The parent worked at twisting her child’s mind by feeding her lies about what holidays would be like if they spent them with their father. It did not take long for the child to refuse to go to the father’s house for a holiday. It was such an ugly situation.      WHERE THAT HOUSEHOLD HAD “BROKEN” PARENTS, I have seen where a child thrived and grew after their parents were divorced. Prior to the couple breaking up, the child witnessed arguments and tension between their mother and father. Through counseling the couple concluded they were better off not being married. Once divorced the 2 were able to devote more time in the rearing of their child. There was no more negative energy within the house, no more fights and the child was able to settle into a new level of comfort with both parents in their separate homes. As a result, the couple became better friends towards each other to the point where, after they found their new significant others, they would socialize together as two couples. The child experienced double the amount of attention and affection. I saw it as a win-win situation for everyone. There was no way I would ever refer to that child’s home as being broken; it was in fact an improvement in my opinion. Sadly, I could not say the same thing for the child in this dramatic, western thriller.      OWING HIS BOSS A BIG FAVOR, a former rodeo rider agrees to travel to Mexico to find his boss’ son. What he found was more than he had expected. With Clint Eastwood (Trouble with the Curve, The Mule) as Mike Milo, Dwight Yoakam (Crank franchise, Wedding Crashers) as Howard Polk, relative newcomer Ivan Hernandez as Lucas, Natalia Traven (Collateral Damage, Trade) as Marta and Fernanda Urrejola (Blue Miracle, Narcos: Mexico) as Leta; this movie had its touching moments. I felt the script was geared more to tugging at the viewer’s heart than digging deeper into the characters. The story was familiar, but I have to say the rooster made a big difference in the telling of it. I am not one to think about a person’s age, but for some reason I found Clint playing Mike a distraction. It was obvious when a double was being used and normally, I would not pay attention; however, with several scenes there was such a contrast between the 2 it stood out for me. The pacing of the story was slow and steady, but it was also predictable. There were not enough triggers here to consider a low rating for this picture, but there also was not much to warrant a higher rating. 

2 ¼ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Vacation Friends

KNOW WHO YOU ARE VACATIONING WITH before you commit to it; that is my advice. I have gotten quite particular with who I want to be with on a trip. Some years ago, I took a trip with a friend that turned into a disaster. Because I am more of a visual person, I favor experiencing things that need little written explanation. I usually will research a place before I agree to visit it; so, most of my reading and learning is done before I get to my destination. In other words, I am a planner. He, it turned out, was exactly opposite. Where I would just stand and admire a structure or building, he wanted to know what type of materials were used and why the creator chose them. We did not make it to lunchtime before I had to tell him we would need to figure out the different sights we want to see and maybe go to some of them alone. Just to give you an example of what I experienced; we were marveling a recently completed building that had won several distinctions. I was standing there just taking in the look of the building when my friend peppered me with questions like, “Where do you suppose the brick came from?”, “Why did the artist choose that color?” and “How will they keep the glass clean?” Notice all the questions were asking about things I or any other tourist would not know.      I HAVE BEEN ASKED TO JOIN a group for vacation and though I enjoy their company, I have had to decline because they are what I refer to as “beach people.” Traveling to a location just to spend much of the day relaxing at the beach would be torture for me. I am not the type to sit by a swimming pool or lay out at the beach to sun myself. My friends refer to me as a vampire because rarely have they seen me with a tan. When I take a trip, I feel like I am an explorer on a mission to discover new land. I never know if I will ever be able to see a new place more than once; so, I want to take in as much as possible each day I am there. It is not unusual for me to be out of the hotel by 9-10:00 am and not return to the hotel way past dinner time. This would be a successful vacation for me. I do not think I have to tell you that I would fail miserably if I were in the shoes of the couple in this adventure comedy, who encountered a partying couple who were already guests of their hotel.      THE PURPOSE OF THEIR TRIP TO Mexico was for them to relax. That hope was quickly thrown out the window once Marcus and Emily, played by Lil Rel Howery (Bad Trip, Get Out) and Yvonne Orji (Night School, Insecure-TV), arrived at their hotel. With John Cena (The Suicide Squad, Playing with Fire) as Ron, Meredith Hagner (Palm Springs, Royal Pains-TV) as Kyla and Robert Wisdom (Beast of Burden, The Loft) as Harold; this movie had its moments. The cast was good, though I felt John and Lil Rel were repeating previous roles. The script started out fun but got repetitive after a while with the same type of scenarios taking place. There were a few times I chuckled because of the outrageousness of the scene and I especially enjoyed the way Meredith delivered her lines. Despite the negatives about the script, I did enjoy what I took as the underlying message the writers were trying to convey. There may not be much surprise found in this picture; but if you enjoy humor based on the differences between people, then you may be okay with watching this film. 

2 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: Gunpowder Milkshake

THE TRAUMATIC EVENT CHANGED THE COURSE of his life. Up until that point he bounced around from one job to another. The thing that focused him on his work was a broken heart. I knew the minute my friend fell in love and it occurred when he told me he had gone over to his “friend’s” house to transplant some bushes; he had not yet defined her to me as his girlfriend. As long as I knew him, he only worked on his yard and one of his ancient relatives. When he told me about moving her bushes, I did not let on that I knew she had to be special to him; I figured he would tell me when he was good and ready. A few months went by before he expressed to me his feelings about her. He said he felt comfortable with her. That was major for him to say, because in the past he always had something negative to say about the people he dated. It was not until a few months afterwards when he finally told me he loved her and could see himself living with her. I was happy for my friend because; I knew it had been such a long time since he was able to be comfortable around a love interest. I really thought he had finally found the right person.      THEY BECAME AND REMAINED A COUPLE for 3 more years before the relationship disintegrated. I did not know all the details, but she was the one who had broken it off. As an outsider, it was tragic to see him in so much pain and sadness. He became super depressed and lethargic. When he skipped cutting his lawn for the first time, I knew things were awful for him. He was not motivated, did not leave the house for long periods of time. I tried my best to help him through this period of loss and grief; I was quite familiar with it myself, so I had an idea how much pain he was in. Weeks went by before he agreed to just meet me at a restaurant for lunch. When we did, I heard for the first time about his job. This was something new because he rarely was interested in talking about his work. As he worked through his sadness, I got to hear more about what he was doing at his job and how his superiors were appreciative of the time he was putting into his work. From his sadness, essentially, he was becoming the hardest worker at the company. It was as if he took all that pain and drove it into his performance at work. I thought the same thing was taking place for the main character in this action, adventure thriller.      KNOWN FOR HANDLING THE TOUGHEST ASSIGNMENTS, an assassin makes a quick decision that changes the course of her life. With Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Not Another Happy Ending) as Sam, Lena Headey (The Flood, Game of Thrones-TV) as Scarlet, Carla Gugino (San Andreas, American Gangster) as Madeleine, Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians, Last Christmas) as Florence and Joanna Bobin (Alice Through the Looking Glass, Bridgerton-TV) as Rose; the story to this film seemed like a cross between the John Wick films and Hotel Artemis. I enjoyed the female focused story and loved the cast. For the most part this picture is adrenalin driven; there is no depth or character development. It simply is a “shoot ‘em up” and beat them up thrill ride. There does not need to put much thought into the plot and story, just sit back for the outrageous and crazy fight scenes. My suggestion is not to go out of your way to see this movie; but if you have a couple of hours to kill and do not mind blood and violence, then you might experience some entertaining moments.

2 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Tomorrow War

IT TOOK ME A MOMENT TO comprehend what had just happened in front of me. I looked at the receptacle to see if there were any markings on it that would justify what my friend had done. Since there weren’t, I had to ask my friend if his building recycles. He told me they did not; I was shocked. Maybe I was naïve, but I thought all apartment and condominium buildings collected the inhabitants’ recyclables. I told him my thoughts and he said there was a proposal presented to the condo association a couple of years ago, to set up a recycling program; but it was turned down in the voting process. Turned down in the voting?!? I could not believe it. The act of recycling seems like such a no brainer to me; why wouldn’t someone want to do it to help the planet. It is not like I am an extreme recycler who goes around cleaning up highways and beaches; however, if I can recycle plastic items that will go through a process to be repurposed as a park bench or deck, what is the problem? We can save some trees. I could not resist, so I asked my friend if there were any nearby recycling stations, he could bring his stuff. Sadly, there was nothing close by. All I could think about was what type of people lived in his condo building, who voted not to recycle.      I HAVE LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO notice the changes that have taken place in our world. When I was a small boy, I used to constantly go swimming in a nearby lake. Now, I would not even wade into it. In elementary school back then I think there was only one student who had asthma; today I know many students and young adults who have it. Could it be something is in the air now that was not years ago? I look at the younger generation and wonder what challenges they will face due to what we as a society have or have not been doing to the planet. Especially because of the heatwave that has been scorching the western states, I wonder if the next generation will still see icebergs or the polar cap. Years from now, I cannot help wondering what the food chain will be. Will there still be corn or wheat? For those who eat red meat, will it all be artificial, pumped with gene altering hormones? I think people, especially those with children, would want to do their part to keep the planet alive and well. Here in this action, adventure drama is an example of what one father was willing to do to save the planet.     WHEN THE MILITARY CAME, SCIENCE TEACHER Dan Forester, played by Chris Pratt (The Kid, Guardians of the Galaxy franchise), had no choice but to join the fight to save Earth, despite what his wife and daughter wanted him to do. With Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale-TV, All I See is You) as Colonel Muri Forester, J.K. Simmons (Palm Springs, 21 Bridges) as James Forester, Betty Gilpin (Isn’t it Romantic, The Hunt) as Emmy Forester and Sam Richardson (We’re the Millers, Veep-TV) as Charlie, this science fiction film had potential to become a big attention grabber. However, I think it needed help from a big theater screen. The story was interesting but as I was watching this picture, I felt I had seen some of the story before. At least the action scenes were good; however, I found the pacing uneven and there were times where the script was not believable. In fact, I found a couple of scenes were just ridiculous. Too bad, because I was intrigued with the family connection story line. As I mentioned earlier, maybe this movie would have benefitted by being shown in the theater because as it stands now, I was left with wanting to experience something more.

2 ¼ stars       

Flash Movie Review: The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity

I TOLD HIM I THOUGHT IT was a wonderful wish, but it would never fly in his crazy family. My friend was telling me about his recently deceased grandfather’s final wish; he wanted his children to stop fighting and remain friends with each other. I knew my friend’s family well for many years and they were certainly an argumentative bunch. They also were a fun group of people to be around. The best way to describe them would be to say they were unfiltered; whatever came to their minds was immediately spoken out loud. I asked my friend how the family reacted to their patriarch’s last wish and he said they were all on their best behavior, for the moment. He really did not think the current peacefulness would last long, since all he remembers from growing up is how the family could be laughing together at one moment and then arguing with each other in the next. I remembered my friend’s grandparents; they were short and quiet. They loved being around their children and grandchildren; however, if an argument started to take place between a couple of their kids, they would ask for silence and want to hear what the two siblings were fighting about. Usually this was enough to get the children to calm down or at least to stop arguing and walk away from one another.      LATER ON, WHEN I WAS ALONE, I sat and wondered about the grandfather’s wish. As far as I knew, there was no one in my family who had a final wish request. Though, I guess if someone states how they want their death to be handled, that could be considered a final wish. I know amongst my close friends and family members I joke about not wanting to suffer with sadness over their deaths; so, I would need to go first. However, I then tell them I hope to live a long life, so they need to take care of themselves and be around until my time is close to being done here. The other thing I thought about is what would happen if the person who is listening to someone’s final wish just flat out says they cannot fulfill it. I am so used to seeing people in movies agreeing to someone’s final wish that I just assumed everyone would be agreeable. But what if they have no plans to agree to someone’s final wish, but simply nod in agreement knowing full well once the person is dead, they will not do whatever was asked of them. I honestly do not know what I would do in such a situation. I cannot say the same thing for the main character in this action drama fantasy.      TAKING HIS MASTER’S LAST WISH TO heart Qing Ming, played by Mark Chao (Caught in the Web, Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe), makes his way to the city where he will find himself in a game of cat and mouse that will determine the fate of the world. With Allen Deng (Great Escape-TV, Ashes of Love-TV) as Bo Ya, Ziwen Wang (Enter the Forbidden City, Ode to Joy-TV) as the Princess, Jessie Li (Port of Call, Our Time Will Come) as Long Ye and Duo Wang (Bloody Romance-TV, Inference Notes) as Zhong Xing/He Shouyue; this film festival nominee was a weird mix of genres for me. It was part folklore, part X-Men, part video game and part martial arts film. I enjoyed the special effects even if they were a bit cheesy at times. The fight scenes were well choreographed and to tell you the truth, I enjoyed the imagination that went into them. The way the story played out, I do not know if this film was based on a book, comic book or video game. Of course, there was a moral message placed in the story; however, I found this movie to be one of those that will be easily forgotten. Chinese was spoken with English subtitles.

2 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Time

TIME IS SUCH A CONSTANT PRESENCE in our lives. We will at times have either too much of it or not enough; I do not know if a day goes by without it being thought of at some point, even when on vacation. Speaking for myself, I am always wishing I had more time. It seems to me I never have enough time to do all the things I want to do. So, what I wind up doing is spending a little time on one activity, then moving to something else for a while, followed by another thing and so on. Two things that make me forget time are movies and books. Lost in a good book or swallowed into a great movie, I will have no sense of time. You may notice in my reviews, I reveal very little about the film. This is because I myself do not want to know a thing about it when I see a movie; I prefer patiently biding my time as the story unfolds. It is funny, I have a friend who cannot stand not knowing what will take place in a movie. They will constantly ask me what I think will happen next, which drives me crazy. Sometimes it gets so bad I threaten to move my seat away from them.      I HAVE ANOTHER FRIEND WHO READS the last chapter of a book first, before starting it. They say they cannot wait to find out what happens in the story. What these two individuals have in common is a lack of patience. I have a mercurial relationship with patience. Prior to the pandemic, when a new movie would come out, I wanted to see it right away. Yet, I can spend months and months going thru photographs to see which ones I would want to enlarge and hang on a wall. Where certain things trigger impatience in me, I know some people that are always impatient. I am friends with the head of a company who wants an answer by the time they finish asking the question. They get antsy if they must wait for an employee to research the question before giving back an answer. The saying, “patience is a virtue,” comes to mind. And what is that other saying that is similar, “all good things come to those who wait?” Where I thought I knew people from all parts of the spectrum when it came to patience and impatience, none of them compare to the remarkable family in this Oscar nominated documentary.      HANDED DOWN A 60 YEAR PRISON sentence, a young wife will not give up on helping her husband, Rob Rich, get out of jail. Directed by Garrett Bradley (Below Dreams, Cover Me), this film festival winning biography’s story was incredible. The wife, Fox Rich, was fascinating to watch as a good portion of this movie had her own handheld footage. Besides the personal journey being depicted, I was also interested in the way the American Justice System was presented in this film. Now I do not want to take away from the family’s journey; but from an entertainment standpoint, I felt something was missing from the story. It seemed as if I was watching scenes replayed, which did not always keep me engaged. I will not go into the ethics of this picture, but I noticed my mind drifting at times. Granted I cannot imagine how the family in this documentary survived the years and maybe that is part of my issue. It seemed as if the family members were acting in ways that came across as unreal, based on the circumstances. If the film had been any longer, I might have gotten impatient waiting until I got to the ending.

2 ¼ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Wonder Woman 1984

I WOULD HAVE TO PACE MYSELF for the day if I wanted to keep my holiday tradition alive. The first item on my list was to walk/jog the parking garage before breakfast. Since it was too cold for me to go outside, I discovered I could get a decent workout by walking/jogging the 2-floor parking garage. In an hour, I can cover nearly 5 miles and that is including the parking ramps which provide me the experience of going up and down a hill. Once my workout was completed, I showered then ate breakfast. With dinner being a big meal, I went light on my breakfast cereal. Once I was done eating, I had to set up my laptop computer on a snack tray in the living room. Later after lunch I was going to be on a video present opening for Christmas. If anywhere in my schedule there could be a delay, it would be during this activity. There were going to be 10 people on the video call, each taking turns with opening their gifts. Now don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to the event; however, there was my holiday tradition I was focused on that I scheduled to take place after dinner was done.      AS I FEARED THE VIDEO PRESENT opening went on for nearly three hours. I was besides myself because my dinner was now delayed, which meant the one thing I wanted to happen was going to have to start later in the evening. With movie theaters closed in my area; it has been months since I was last in a theater. In fact, the last time for me was back in March just as the COVID-19 pandemic was rolling out across the country. After all this time, one of the film studios decided to offer first run movies on their streaming service the same day the film opens at the theaters. I cannot tell you how filled I was with excited anticipation to see a new, blockbuster film. Not to take anything away from the different streaming services’ original films, but there is something about a big budgeted picture that is to be released on the big screen. Due to the virus, I was getting the 2ndbest thing by watching the film at home on a large screened television. Since I loved the first Wonder Woman movie, I was expecting everything to be bigger and better with this sequel. Little did I know that my fear of watching this film later in the evening, where I could easily fall asleep, would be a valid issue for me.      LIVING A QUIET COMFORTABLE LIFE UNDETECTED was fine for Diana Prince, played by Gal Gadot (Keeping Up with the Joneses, Triple 9), except for the one person she was missing in her life. Years of wishing he was with her was about to change when a mysterious artifact was delivered to her place of work. With Chris Pine (Star Trek franchise, The Finest Hours) as Steve Trevor, Kristen Wiig (Downsizing, The Skeleton Twins) as Barbara Minerva, Pedro Pascal (The Great Wall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) as Maxwell Lord and Robin Wright (Blade Runner 2049, Moneyball) as Antiope; this action, adventure fantasy was a major disappointment for me. How the script received approval is beyond me because there were so many poor choices made in its story line. In a superhero movie, the villain needs to be as dynamic and powerful as the superhero character; this was not the case in this picture. The villain was downright boring and uninteresting to me. And I have little patience for a script that tries to force feed a message to the viewer and this film nearly choked me on its syrupy monologue. The only highlight for me was the opening scene, Kristen Wiig with her character and the extra scene in the middle of the ending credits. My experience with this movie was like one of the gifts I received on my video presents event; a fancy gift-wrapped box that had an ugly sweater in a wrong size.      

2 1/4 stars     

Flash Movie Review: The Frozen Ground

WHAT I WOULD HAVE GIVEN FOR a flashlight; it was dumb of me not to think of one. I was visiting a friend out of state, who thought it would be a cool idea to climb a mountain. It was nothing like the Rockies, but it was high enough. We were able to drive up part of it, park, then follow on foot a trail to get to higher ground. Up until that point everything was going fine. The vegetation was thick all around us which made our surroundings cooler in temperature and darker. I was okay since the day had been hot and sunny. Because we were making our way in subdued light, we kept assuming it was still bright outside, and this was our first mistake. As we were ducking under branches and constantly checking the ground for solid footing, we did not realize our ascent was going slower than anticipated. Neither of us thought about the challenges we would face by trying to crawl down in the darkness of night.      I THINK IT WAS ME WHO was getting cold first and hungry. We had reached a substantial height where we could see the city glowing in the distance. All we had with us was water; I had wished I had brought a piece of fruit or a granola bar. We decided to turn back by retracing our steps to get back to a trail and then to our car. It did not take long for me to realize we were in trouble. It was nighttime and neither of us could see the ground clearly enough. There were multiple times where one of us thought we had solid footing but then the ground/rock gave away and we would stumble or fall. I fell and scraped the palms of my hands. With no sense of direction, only knowing we had to go down, we were lost. The area was not known for wildlife; however, that did not stop my brain from imagining a multitude of scary creature encounters. The longer we remained stuck on the mountain, the more we were freaking out. After multiple tries and retreats, we finally found a trail. By the time we returned to the car, we had logged nearly 10 hours in total crawling on the mountain. Ever since then, I have always felt an uneasiness whenever I find myself in a remote area. Whether it is in rugged terrain or wide-open spaces, my imagination kicks into high gear on what things could happen to me. This will explain my anxiousness as I watched this dramatic, crime thriller.      WITH YOUNG WOMEN GOING MISSING in an area of Alaska, the only lead Jack Holcombe, played by Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, Face/Off), had was a junkie named Cindy Paulson, played by Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Dog Days) and she did not want to be involved with any part of his investigation. With John Cusack (High Fidelity, Love & Mercy) as Robert Hansen, Dean Norris (Total Recall, The Book of Henry) as Sgt. Lyle Haugsven and Gia Mantegna (The Prince, Criminal Minds-TV) as Debbie Peters; this film festival nominee’s story was based on actual events. For that reason, I found this movie creepier than usual. The main leads were quite convincing in the story; in fact, I was impressed with Vanessa’s work in particular. The filming of this picture made the feelings of isolation and despair more prominent throughout the scenes. It almost felt like it was hanging in the air. The story basically was a good guy vs bad guy set-up; I only wished the writers had delved deeper into the characters. It would have made for a more intense viewing, in my opinion. I was already uneasy about remote areas and this movie has now solidified my feelings about them. 

2 ¼ stars       

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