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Flash Movie Review: Ad Astra

THE WORDS THAT NEVER GET SPOKEN to a loved one will remain inside of you always. They become part of your inner dialog, emerging periodically to your consciousness like buried treasure, whenever you think of that person who is no longer in your life. A friend of mine experienced such a thing when his brother one night took off, never to be heard from again. My friend told me there was a big fight between his brother and their parents; he never told me what the argument was about, nor did I ask. In the heat of the fight, the brother said at some point he did not want to be around his parents anymore. I remember my friend telling me he was shocked by that comment. A few days later the brother packed up his clothing and left in the middle of the night. My friend was devastated when he woke up the following morning. There was no note left behind; the brother did not send a message or word to his brother to let him know he was okay. I could see the pain across my friend’s face. I tried to comfort him, suggesting the brother might reach out to him once he arrived at his destination and settled down. He never called.      BESIDES THIS FRIEND I ONLY KNEW a couple of other households that experienced a family loss. With each one, the family member I knew suffered a long grieving period due to not saying goodbye. Because I was at a young age, I could not grasp the scope of such pain. The only way I could relate to it took place several years later when I had experienced breakups from a couple of long-term relationships. Physical death was not a factor, but I still felt the pain of loss. In one relationship I was left without closure; they simply said they could “not do this anymore” and decided to leave. My loss was accentuated by the sudden stoppage of our blended routines. I never realized how prickly routines could be when you try doing them yourself. They are a constant reminder of how your life used to be. Now, I can see if you were the one to end the relationship then those past routines would be the fuel that pushes you to your new life; it makes sense to me. However, not getting the opportunity to have a say in the demise of a relationship can have a profound effect upon one’s psyche. The main character in this dramatic, science fiction mystery can show you.      WITH EARTH EXPERIENCING UNEXPLAINED POWER SURGES, the little evidence that could be found led to a past space mission that ceased communications. The astronaut chosen to investigate the mystery was the son of the captain from the lost mission. With Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, By the Sea) as Roy McBride, Tommy Lee Jones (The Homesman, Shock and Awe) as H. Clifford McBride, Ruth Negga (Loving, World War Z) as Helen Lantos, Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games franchise, The Leisure Seeker) as Thomas Pruitt and Kimberly Elisa (Death Wish, The Manchurian Candidate) as Lorraine Deavers; watching this film felt like I was privy to a psychological study. The script and the directing kept a deliberate, methodical slow pace. Because I was involved with psychology in college, I found this movie interesting. However, I am not sure many other viewers would feel the same. Visually the picture was beautiful, and Brad’s performance was outstanding. Overall, I enjoyed learning the story in the movie but there were times I felt it dragged along. I may still be thinking about this film, but I feel complete in having told you what I thought about this outer space, adventure movie.

 

2 ¾ stars

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Flash Movie Review: Downton Abbey

SOME FAMILIES LIVED IN APARTMENT BUILDINGS like mine did, while others lived in houses; but it did not mean anything to any of us. Everyone was treated the same. I never thought a family had to be rich to live in a house; though, I remember some of my friends thought this one kid was snobby because his family owned a local food company. I remember seeing one of their products at the grocery store and thinking how weird it must have been for that kid to see his last name on all the containers stacked across one of the grocery store’s shelves. Outside of that, I do not recall anyone using their family wealth to make people think they were better than anyone else. It was in school where I learned about socio-economic classes; that people were categorized as being upper, middle or lower class. The concept was odd to me because I could not understand why the amount of money a person had was important. I never considered someone being better because they were wealthier. They could have a lot of money but still be a horrible person; there would be no way I would ever think they were better than someone who barely could cover their rent, as an example.      IT WAS NOT UNTIL AFTER MY school years where I saw how people treat other people, they deem poorer. I was at a wedding where I saw the bride’s mother treating the staff poorly. She was talking down to them as she grilled them on what they “needed” to do for her. Up until that point I had not seen this side of the mother who had always appeared pleasant and giving. Now, I was seeing this aggressive woman telling the staff if they wanted to get paid, they needed to make such and such happened immediately; it was an ugly scene. Another time I was teaching at a health club where the cliental came from all types of backgrounds. There were working class folks, retirees, business owners; you get the picture. I am not one to stereotype a person; but out of these different backgrounds, I could tell which person considered themselves to be above other people. They always dressed up for exercise class, wearing the latest fashion trends in clothing, tons of jewelry along with wearing make-up and perfume. You would think they were going out for the night to a social event. I found the whole concept perplexing. However, in this comedic drama I understood it better because the times were different back then… or were they really?      EXCITEMENT FLOODED THROUGH DOWNTON ABBEY WHEN a letter was received, announcing the King and Queen would be coming for a visit. The family and staff would discover things they never knew before. With Michelle Dockery (Anna Karenina, Non-Stop) as Lady Mary Talbot, Matthew Goode (Stoker, Official Secrets) as Henry Talbot, Tuppence Middleton (The Imitation Game, Sense8-TV) as Lucy Smith, Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van, Quartet) as Violet Crawley and Elizabeth McGovern (Once Upon a Time in America, The Chaperone) as Cora Crawley; I first have to tell you I have not seen the television show that this film was based on. The movie was beautifully filmed and scored, with wonderful set designs and costumes. This made for a perfect period piece film. Now the fact I am not familiar with the characters, I felt I was at a disadvantage; I did not know the history of each character, so did not feel as connected as most of the audience did in the theater. Story wise the plot was easy and fun to follow. For me, it seemed as if there were such a variety of story lines that nothing felt fully developed to the point where I could make a connection. There definitely was a soap opera quality to this picture, where I could see why it made for a popular television series. I am glad I saw this movie but did feel I was more of a bystander than a guest at the party.

 

2 ¾ stars                                                        3 ½ stars – fans of the TV series

Flash Movie Review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

IT WAS EVIDENT EVERY HOUSE ON the block had life inside of it, except for the house on the corner. Where each owner kept up the maintenance of their home, thie one on the corner looked abandoned. It was the only house that was painted in a dark brown color, from the wood siding to the shutters to the gutters. No other house had such a dark color scheme; instead, mostly white and light-colored paints were used for them. This dark house had tall bushes that nearly covered up the fencing that outlined the property. There were a couple of old trees in the front yard that towered over the house, letting their tired branches droop down to obscure the view of the place for any passerby. From my time living on the block I had never seen anyone walking in or out of that house. I don’t recall any child even stopping there for Halloween; I never did. With a tall, wrought iron gate guarding the sidewalk leading up to the front steps; I always assumed that gate was placed there to keep people out. However, from the rumors I had heard in the neighborhood; the gate may have been placed there to keep one or more of the residents from escaping. By the time I moved away I never found out what was the truth.     AS A KID THERE WERE A VARIETY of rumors that would get passed throughout the school. Because I did not know better, I had no idea which rumors were based on a kernel of truth and which ones were total fabrications. There was one student, a bully, who used to pick on other kids. As far as I knew, no one would stand up to him because we had heard his Dad was either the chief of police or someone just as important on the police force. There was another student who everyone knew was mean to animals. If he was not focusing a magnifying glass in the sunlight onto an insect to burn it alive, he was tying up the hind legs of someone’s pet just to see the animal struggle. The rumor I had heard was his parents were extremely strict with him, to the point they would beat him with a belt or electrical cord. Back then all I could do was assume the rumors were true; now, I would have done something to try and help those poor animals. There is always a reason why rumors get started by someone, I feel. This horror thriller will show you what can happen when there is a rumor going around the neighborhood.      CHECKING OUT A HOUSE THAT PEOPLE said was haunted may not have been the best place for a group of teenagers to show an out-of-towner. When you are already fearful what more could scare you? This mystery story starred Zoe Margaret Colletti (Annie, Wildlife) as Stella Nicholis, Michael Garza (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1; Wayward Pines-TV) as Ramon Morales, Gabriel Rush (Moonrise Kingdom, No Letting Go) as Auggie Hilderbrandt, Dean Norris (Total Recall, Breaking Bad-TV) as Roy Nicholis and Gil Bellows (3 Days in Havana, The Shawshank Redemption) as Chief Turner. I was not aware this film was based on a book series for teenagers; however, I thought some of the imagery in this film was well done. There were moments of dread and creepiness. The teenage characters were stereotypes that the actors handled admirably. For those of you who are squeamish; the scary parts had more imagination than other horror films that depend on blood and violence. The horror in this picture was more creative without the use of blood. After watching this movie, I think I am going to start to pay closer attention to rumors.

 

2 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Rocketman

SEEKING APPROVAL FROM THOSE YOU LOVE is one of the strongest motivators one has at their disposal. Feeling good about your accomplishment is fine; however, having that “seal of approval” from someone else forms a stronger bond that can last for years. I remember to this day how I felt the first time I had to construct a diorama for a school project. The assignment was to recreate a scene from a book we were reading for class. My choice was an outdoor scene of mountains surrounding a secluded lake that the characters from the book would periodically visit. I had used a combination of materials, including rolled up pieces of plastic wrap for the lake. With a large assortment of colored markers and paints. I colored the pieces of cardboard I had cut out from a packing box, creating a mountain range with snow caps. For trees I used pipe cleaners that I would twist together to form the foliage over brown and black painted toilet paper cores. As I said before, I used a variety of things for this project. Once completed I was proud of what I had done. Family members praised my work which was both wonderful and expected; but, I really was hoping my teacher would shower her praise over my creation. She was a fantastic artist which made me value her opinion more than other people; gratefully she did not disappoint me.      WHY I WAS REMINDED OF THIS memory was due to this musical movie. I have seen Elton John in concert a couple of times; once during his earlier years and the other recently. From the variety of acts I have seen live in concert, Elton was not a typical rock star. Many of them played off a certain sex appeal they were portraying. Male guitarists made it look like they were making love to their guitars; female singers would move in seductive ways. Elton was different; instead of trying to use sex appeal he went the spectacle route. The more flamboyant and outrageous he was the more his fans would scream for him. This is only my opinion; but because I was dealing with a poor self-image, I assumed Elton was also. Only when I could “dress up” in my workout clothes or suit did I feel better about myself. Seeing Elton dressed up in so many costumes led me to believe he was feeling the same way. Behind the façade there was a boy who wanted to be loved; I understood. If you wish to see what was going on behind the scenes, then feel free to watch this dramatic film about a music icon.      FROM AN EARLY AGE ELTON JOHN displayed a gift for playing the piano. However, he was looking for something more. With Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Robin Hood) as Elton John, Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) as Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden (Cinderella, The Take) as John Reid, Bryce Dallas Howard (Pete’s Dragon, Jurassic World franchise) as Sheila and Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones’s Diary franchise) as Ivy; the cast was well chosen. Standing above all of them though was Taron; he was incredible in his role, including his own singing. The acting and story drew me into this picture. I could not believe what I was seeing behind the scenes of so many memorable moments in Elton’s career. Granted I do not know how much truth was shown in this film, but nonetheless I enjoyed watching this movie for the most part. The one thing that did not connect with me was the use of fantasy scenes. A couple would have been fine, but I felt these scenes drained the emotional impact away from the story. It was amazing to see how so many of Elton’s songs’ lyrics lent themselves to the scenes. I would have preferred spending more time in the moment instead of turning the emotion into a fantasy scene. Whether one is a fan or not; one would be hard pressed not to be impressed with what Elton has accomplished in his life.

 

2 ¾ stars      

Flash Movie Review: Missing Link

HEARING OR SEEING THE WORD “HOME” immediately brings a comforting feeling, usually. Home is not necessarily just a structure that you lived in; home can be the place of your origin, where your earliest memories were born. I have the good fortune of still living within driving distance to the place where I grew up. Driving down the old neighborhood streets unlocks my memory vault, letting past images flash inside of my brain. The main commercial avenue where we did most of our shopping looks so different now. However, I still see in my mind the hamburger shop where I used to get my burger and French fries to take home to eat. The old grocery store which was tiny by today’s standards is now one of those discount stores where everything is under $5.00. Yet I can still see me and my friends running to the variety store where we would buy our penny candies. Every summer we would also buy kites to take down to the beach. We would run through the sand with our kites lifted behind us, waiting for a gust of air to lift them into the air. My kite would always have a long tail that I made with different colored ribbons.      HOME CAN ALSO BE A PLACE that you found where you feel the most comfortable. A place where people of like minds become fast friends; a patch of land that speaks to your heart, hidden in the woods perhaps. I became acutely aware of this phenomenon when I went away to school. As soon as I walked down the hallway to my dorm room I noticed a difference between me and the other students on the floor. Many of them had blonde hair and blue eyes; both my hair and eyes were dark. Later I discovered many students came from farmlands, whereas I grew up in a large city. There always seemed to be a disconnect between me and my fellow students. Whether it was our humor or morals or some other aspect of our lives; it always seemed as if we were on different pages. I longed to return to a place where I did not have to explain my thoughts and feelings, where we could share similar life experiences. From a place where I felt alone, all I longed for was to find a place where there were others like me. It was the same for the main character in this animated, adventure comedy.      TIRED OF BEING ALONE FOR SO long Mr. Link, voiced by Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover franchise, The Campaign), convinces explorer Sir Lionel Frost, voiced by Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner, X-Men franchise), to help him find that special place he could call home. Their journey would involve more discoveries than they had planned. With Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Star Trek franchise) voicing Adelina Fortnight, David Walliams (Stardust, Dinner for Schmucks) voicing Mr. Lemuel Lint and Timothy Olyphant (A Perfect Getaway, Mother’s Day) voicing Willard Stenk; this movie studio created another beautiful film. The visuals were wonderful to watch as the studio’s use of Claymation brought a whole different feeling to the story. The script was sweet with a charming message; however, compared to their previous movies I felt this one was a bit mild. Don’t get me wrong; it was fun and family appropriate. It just came across as almost too sweet; as if it was trying to appeal to the masses, instead of delving deeper into the story and visuals. There were a couple of times where my mind started to wander, which usually doesn’t happen with this studio’s pictures. Nonetheless, most viewers will enjoy this movie and its message. And make sure you stay during the credits to see how one of the scenes was created.

 

2 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Operation Finale

THERE WAS A PERIOD OF TIME long ago, when I was heavy into reading detective/crime novels, where I thought I might want to become a detective. I am certain the seed was planted in me by the Hardy Boys. There was a detective’s handbook I had gotten my hands on that I think I had read at least twice. One chapter of the book was devoted to the skills needed to be able to follow someone undetected. The following chapter talked about what steps a person should do to avoid capture. I still remember the first rule to avoid capture was to never take the same route on consecutive days. Whether by foot, public transportation or car; one should mix up their travel plans daily. After I had nearly memorized the handbook I spent one summer trailing different people in the neighborhood. It sounds silly now, but back then I thought if I could follow people and go unnoticed then it was a sign that I should pursue studies in criminology. What I discovered during that summer was people were certainly creatures of habit. The people I tailed followed the same course on a weekly basis. An elderly woman who rolled a shopping cart behind her always went to the butcher on Thursdays and the laundromat on Tuesdays.      WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT DON’T most people fall into some type of routine in their daily lives? Speaking for myself, I find comfort when I follow a routine. No joke, people at the office can set their watches based on where I am and what I am doing. It takes a certain mindset because I know some individuals who would go crazy if they had to follow a set routine. I used to work with a salesperson who could not stand coming into the office to take care of paperwork. What they enjoyed about sales was the fact that each day would be at a different location, have a different set of circumstances and be among a different group of individuals. Anytime they were in the office they would start to get antsy within a couple of hours. I am not judging but there is no way I could handle such a schedule. The closest I came to it was when I headed a crew of furniture movers; but even there, I was the one who would plan out the week’s deliveries, having a little control over my schedule. In the case of the main characters in this historical drama, routine was necessary if the mission was going to be successful.      AFTER WORLD WAR II THERE was one man that was credited with being the architect of the Holocaust and his name was Adolph Eichmann. Though there was no proof he survived the war, secret agents were determined to hunt down any clue. With Oscar Isaac (Star Wars franchise, The Promise) as Peter Malkin, Ben Kingsley (An Ordinary Man, Security) as Adolph Eichmann, Melanie Laurent (Beginners, My Son) as Hanna Elian, Nick Kroll (Uncle Drew, Adult Beginners) as Rafi Eitan and Lior Raz (The Kindergarten Teacher, Fauda-TV) as Isser Harel; this biographical thriller’s cast was excellent. They made the story come alive, though it took some work because the script started out way too slow and needed more depth to it. I enjoyed the last half of the movie more than the first; though I was fascinated with the agents’ plot which kept me engaged all the way through the picture. Granted I do not know how much of the story in this film was factual; but with a little more intensity and drama this script would have come up to join the cast’s high level of acting and make for a thrilling movie.

 

2 ¾ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Teen Titans Go! to the Movies

I FELT TRAPPED IN THE MIDDLE of a group of strangers, with no way to get out. It was the weekend and I was a guest at a party where everyone knew each other except for me. The introductions had all been been made as I found myself an empty seat among a small group of guests, who were sitting outside at the back of the house. No one was being mean to me; they just did not engage me into any of their conversations. Well actually there really weren’t multiple conversations going on amongst this group; there was one individual who was orchestrating the conversation. Everyone else was just listening to him and occasionally making a comment or agreeing with this fellow’s statements. As I quietly sat there I heard this person talk on a variety of subjects. He went from camping stories to traveling ones to skiing escapades to stories about his son’s achievements. Since I had never met him before I did not want to make a snap judgement based on a few of his stories. But do you want to know something? As the other guests nodded their approval or chuckle at this guy’s escapades, I could not help but feel that this man’s conversations were simply a way for him to brag about himself.      THERE WAS ONLY SO MUCH I COULD endure before I excused myself to find a place to sit somewhere far from this braggart. Later in the evening I discovered an interesting fact concerning that man. It turned out he was the husband of a woman there who had a prominent position with the same company as several of the guests at the party. You may be asking why this was an interesting fact; I will tell you why. There was a reason why this husband spent a majority of the evening talking about himself. With his wife in an important position, it appeared to me he was feeling threatened by it. Sitting with his wife’s co-workers, this man wanted to show everyone that he was just as important or dominant or successful as his wife. Not speaking for the other guests, but now that I knew about this extra piece to the puzzle I felt sad for the guy. Instead of working on his confidence to be a supportive partner in the relationship he had to sit and regale the guests with stories about his so called incredible achievements. I could not imagine anyone at the party thinking any less of him. This animated action comedy has a similar situation with its main character, go ahead and check it out.      TIRED OF NOT BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY as a superhero Robin, voiced by Scott Menville (RoboCop, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), decided the way to step out from the shadows of the popular superheroes was to get a movie made about him and the rest of the Teen Titans. All they needed was a villain to vanquish and a top director. With Kristen Bell (Bad Moms franchise, The Boss) voicing Jade Wilson, Will Arnett (When in Rome, Jonah Hex) voicing Slade, Greg Cipes (Fast & Furious, Club Dread) voicing Beast Boy and Khary Payton (The Walking Dead-TV, General Hospital-TV) voicing Cyborg; I was pleasantly surprised at how fun this movie was to watch. The humor was sophisticated enough to please the adults in the audience as the script took swipes at the whole superhero genre. Where I had difficulty was the direction of the story; it stayed at a non-stop clip through the entire picture. I enjoyed the old school animation and it fit right in with the sarcastic script. Too bad I didn’t go see this film in lieu of sitting and listening to someone trying to make himself feel important.

 

2 ¾ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Adrift

I FEEL BETTER WHEN I CAN always still see land, even if it is far in the distance. Maybe because of all the movies I have seen, from Jules Verne stories to historical events, I am anxious whenever I am on a boat or plane. Nothing that needs medication, but the idea of being on the water with no land in sight is not comforting to me. Even with my recent vacation last week, there were warning signs and fences posted along the shoreline preventing the hotel guests from swimming in the lake. You just never know what is lurking below the surface and I for one am not interested in finding out. I have only been on a cruise once and appreciated most of our travel time was done at night from port to port. It was easier for me to go to sleep and wake up in a different city without being exposed to open waters. The only thing I really had to deal with is getting used to the movement of the ship; it took me one full day to get myself steady where I was not feeling nauseous from the ship’s movements.      FROM MY ONE AND ONLY cruise I saw an abundance of wildlife. Seated by a window in the dining hall I happened to see a school of whales breaking through the water’s surface. I recall thinking about Moby Dick, wondering if a whale could do damage to our vessel. My biggest fear took place up until we set sail; I was concerned we would get caught in a storm while out to sea. I have seen enough action films like The Perfect Storm and The Poseidon Adventure to know the storm always wins or if not, does severe damage. If these concerns were not enough, recently there have been several instances where passengers became ill while traveling by boat. If one has an imagination they can really scare themselves with all the possibilities of different disasters coming close to them. So, you see why I am less anxious if I can see land while out on the water? The same thing goes for being in an airplane. The few times I have flown overseas was either done at nighttime, where I could not see anything or during the day, where I purposely had an aisle seat. I do not understand how people can be so calm when they are so far away from land. The 2 travelers in this action, adventure drama is a perfect example.      THEIR COMMOM LOVE OF THE water made Tami Oldham’s and Richard Sharp’s, played by Shailene Woodley (Divergent franchise, The Fault in Our Stars) and Sam Claflin (Me Before You, Journey’s End), decision easy to set sail together across the ocean. Their trip would not go as planned due to Mother Nature. Based on a true story this movie also starred Grace Palmer (Shortland Street-TV, Home and Away-TV) as Deb, Jeffrey Thomas (Slow West, The Light Between Oceans) as Peter and Elizabeth Hawthorne (30 Days of Night, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) as Christine. What made this film engaging was Shailene’s and Sam’s acting ability. They were so good together they came across like a real couple. The script jumped back and forth between two distinct time periods. At first, I found it kept my interest up; however, as time went on I felt this writing device was diminishing the emotional level of the scenes. For the circumstances taking place, I expected more details to be shown in the story. Nonetheless, the story was beyond amazing and this picture did a decent job of telling it. And as far as I am concerned if I had any interest in taking a ride on a sailboat, this movie pretty much ended it for me.

 

2 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

IT WAS AT LEAST FOR 8 weeks I kept hearing about this recipe I was told I had to use for an upcoming dinner party. This all started in a conversation I was having with a friend. I mentioned I was having a couple of people over for dinner and she told me I needed to try a recipe she had made many times. All I told her was I would let her know once I figured out the details for the dinner. By the time I got home later that day she had already emailed me the recipe, repeating all the compliments she had told me she had gotten from making this chicken dish. I printed out the recipe and placed it with the other ones I was considering. Would you believe the next day I received a follow up email from her, asking what I thought about her recipe? I could only imagine what she felt when I replied I hadn’t looked it over yet; it was weeks away still before I had to make a decision on what I wanted to serve. You would have thought that would have been enough for her to let go of this for a while, but it did not.      UP UNTIL THE DAY I NAILED down the things I wanted to make for the dinner party, I kept hearing about all the wonderful compliments my friend had gotten on this easy dish. When I finally looked over the list of ingredients, I had to admit the chicken dish sounded good. How could it be bad with items like honey and barbeque sauce in the recipe? When I told my friend, I was going to make her dish, you should have heard the glee in her voice; you would have thought I had just signed a multi-million deal with her. It was pretty funny. From all the things she had said and my own expectations, the day of the dinner party I was excited to cook and serve her chicken dish. As she stated it was not hard to make and the assortment of spices mixed together formed a wonderful aroma throughout the house. As the guests began to arrive they too noticed the wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen. When we were all seated and everyone was served I tasted the chicken dish. I was disappointed with it. There was something about the texture that was unappealing to me, as if all the ingredients did not thoroughly combine. My disappointment in this dish was similar to my disappointment in this action, adventure fantasy story.      DELVING INTO THE CRIMINAL WORLD IS where a young Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures, Rules Don’t Apply), discovered his true talents, besides making new friends. This offshoot adventure story to the Star Wars franchise also starred Woody Harrelson (Shock and Awe, War for the Planet of the Apes) as Beckett, Emilia Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Game of Thrones-TV) as Qi’ra and Donald Glover (The Martian, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Lando Cairissian. Everything was in place here to create a thrilling, exciting story. However, none of it reached the epic proportions it needed to carry off this story. There was little chemistry between Alden and Emilia, which I believe failed due to Alden. Because most people are familiar with the older Han, one needed to have an actor who could display the emerging traits Harrison Ford brought into the character. Also with bringing in Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, In the Heart of the Sea) after dismissing the first director, I felt he was not the best choice to give this movie the spunk it needed to engage all viewers. Yes, I am a big fan of Star Wars; but I thought this picture was a misfire. My memories of the previous films allowed me to enjoy this movie; but I just did not go wild over it.

 

2 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Ready Player One

THE MAJORITY OF US AGREED that in principle social media sites offer people a positive benefit. All around the world individuals have the opportunity to experience and learn about pretty much anything. We were sitting around at dinnertime talking about the recent controversy with a particular social media site; it involved people’s personal information being mined by a consulting firm. It may say in the terms and conditions when one signs up online that our information can be shared, but how many of us actually read all the terms: I know I do not. If I understand correctly the depth of information that was shared by the internet site was startling. Someone at the table was saying the company can keep track of our mobile phone numbers being used since most people are posting comments and photos via their phones. When you think about it, it really does sound invasive. I still cannot get over how I can look at an item at a retail store’s website and the next time I go on my social media account there is an advertisement for the same item. Talk about living in an Orwellian time of Big Brother.     AS WE CONTINUED OUR CONVERSATION someone brought up how every good thing that gets created always has a downside due to dishonest people. I had to think about this for only a short time before I agreed. A lot of these internet sites were set up with good intentions but they all are being based on people being honest. I remember receiving a message from a stranger that wanted to connect; everything looked legitimate so I responded back to them. As soon as I did they sent a stream of shocking photos that I had to quickly delete then block the person. On the other hand I am sure there are a multitude of individuals online who believe they are alone, different or feel there is something better for them; who discover like minded individuals. This can have a powerful affect on a person. The reason I say this is because I believe that discovery is the catalyst for one’s imagination to open up and flourish. It all starts with a dream that can lead one to their new reality; just see how this works in this action adventure, science fiction film.     IN THE FUTURE EVERYONE TAPS into a virtual world where they can be whatever they want to be. However there were some individuals who saw an opportunity where they could take control of it all for their own gain. Directed by Steven Spielberg (The Color Purple, Catch Me if You Can) this movie starred Tye Sheridan (Mud, X-Men: Apocalypse) as Parzival/Wade Watts, Olivia Cooke (Thoroughbreds, The Quiet Ones) as Art3mis/Samantha, Ben Mendelsohn (Darkest Hour, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Sorrento and Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, Dunkirk) as Anorak/James Halliday. Right at the start this film grabbed me on its visuals. Both its real and virtual world had an assortment of treats; I especially enjoyed the way Spielberg inserted throwback references. The other thing that excited me was the action scenes; they were all well orchestrated with excellent special effects. Now for the bad news; I was somewhat underwhelmed with the story. I found the real world scenes more interesting. The virtual world after awhile seemed like I was watching a video game that I could not participate in it. There was an obvious message that the writers and director wanted to get across to the viewers; it seemed a bit preachy to me. By the end of the film I was not sure if I had just seen what our future could be and if it was going to be a good or bad thing.

 

2 ¾ stars

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