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Flash Movie Review: Dark Waters

IF THE FRY PAN WAS ON the stove, I knew I was going to get a delicious meal. It was a large pan that not only covered the entire burner below it but expanded past into the next burner’s territory. With a long metal handle that had a rubber grip around the end, I loved watching the food cooking in it. One of my favorite things to cook in it was a grilled cheese sandwich. Watching the bread, the thicker the better, go from a whitish color to a golden brown made my mouth water. I always hoped the cheese would ooze out from underneath the top slice to coat the toasty crust. When it would happen, I would spend the first minute of the meal peeling the cheese off the edges with my teeth. Though I liked the soft melted cheese in the middle of the sandwich, I enjoyed the crisp cheesy edges just as much. What I have not told you yet is the best part when it came to making this sandwich; it was when my relative would grab the handle of the fry pan and with a flick of their wrist flip the sandwich into the air to cook the other slice of bread.      ANOTHER FAVORITE MEAL OF MINE THAT WAS made in this fry pan was scrambled or over hard eggs. I liked my scrambled eggs dry, where they would become firm enough to form soft yellow pillow shaped forms. For some reason this would remind me of a building block set I used to play with when I was younger. The part I liked about the over hard eggs was watching the eggs turn into a thin white disc with two yellow eyeballs. Sometimes I was given permission to lift the fry pan off the burner slightly to swirl the eggs around. It always amazed me how the eggs never stuck to the pan; they looked like they were skating across the pan’s surface. I remember hearing my relative telling someone how much they loved this pan because nothing would stick to it, making cleanup so much easier. Compared to the pans in my house, this pan looked different. Depending on what was being cooked in the pans at home, they would have to sit in the sink for a while to soak after use. This was done to make the stuck food particles come off easier from the pan’s metal surface. I did not understand why we did not have the same type of pan as my relatives. After seeing this biographical drama, I think I understand.      ONLY BECAUSE THE FARMER WAS A neighbor of his grandmother, did Robert Bilott, played by Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers franchise, The Kids are All Right) agree to help solve the mystery of the farmer’s dying cattle. It was a decision that would change Robert’s life. With Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight, Colossal) as Sarah Bilott, William Jackson Harper (Paterson, The Good Place-TV) as James Ross, Tim Robbins (Thanks for Sharing, Mystic River) as Tom Terp and Bill Pullman (The Equalizer franchise, Independence Day franchise) as Harry Dietzler; this story based on true events played like a mystery. The acting was excellent from everyone and the director did a wonderful job of layering the story from scene to scene. As for the story, it was horrifying to me; I had no idea there was more to it than what I had assumed. If what was shown was true, then I certainly had the right to be as outraged as I was while watching this film. I cannot imagine anyone sitting through this movie and not wondering if they got through unscathed. My first thought was wondering if those favorite meals I had eaten harmed me in any way.

 

3 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Honey Boy

RARELY DO YOU SEE THE NEWS report on what takes place after a child’s sporting event has ended. If you are like me, you probably have seen a kid’s baseball or soccer or football game at some point in your life. I attended a relative’s son’s game. My biggest concern was the weather because it was an especially cold day and the idea of sitting outside on uncomfortable, metal bleachers was not cutting it for me; however, I agreed to go see the game anyway. When I arrived at the playing field, I found my relative and we went to claim a spot on the bleachers. The game started soon after. There was nothing exciting about the plays, but I cheered during the appropriate times. I noticed by the sidelines several adults who were bundled up walking up and down the field based on where the teams were playing. It didn’t take me long to figure out these guys were fathers of some of the players. The reason I knew was due to their behavior; they had no qualms about voicing their opinions, yelling at the referees or screaming at their own kids. I could not believe what I was hearing. To me, they sounded like an angry mob; for heaven’s sake, it was just a kid’s football game. Their children, I thought, must have been horrified by the vocal outbursts. The referees tried curtailing the Dads’ behaviors, but it only had a short-term effect before the Dads would go back to yelling.      THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE WAS MAKING ME more uncomfortable than I was presently. After the game ended (it seemed like an eternity), we waited for my relative’s son. We stood off to the side of the bleachers on a path that led to the parking spots. Standing there, I was able to hear snippets of conversations from the passing people. One Dad was walking with his player son right by me. I could see the Dad was not happy based on the faces he was making as he was belittling his child. Calling his son names, telling him he was no good and a variety of other negative comments; I was disgusted by the man’s ignorance on what he really was doing to his son. The poor kid looked brokenhearted, his head hanging down, only able to stare at the ground. I wanted to shout at the father but refrained myself. What did the Dad hope to accomplish with all his yelling? I asked myself the same question as I was watching this powerful dramatic film.      EX-RODEO CLOWN AND FELON JAMES LORT, played by Shia LaBeouf (The Peanut Butter Falcon, Fury), would do anything to make his son a star; even if it might hurt him. With Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird, Boy Erased) as Otis (22), Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place, Wonder) as Otis (12), Byron Bowers (The Chi-TV, The Eric Andre Show-TV) as Percy and Laura San Giacomo (Pretty Woman, Just Shoot Me!) as Dr. Moreno; Shia wrote the screenplay, for this film, that was based on his life experiences. I felt this was one of Shia’s best performances and I believe it had an affect on Lucas and Noah; they were just as good. If even half of the scenes in this movie were true; Shia had one torturous childhood. Sitting through this picture was like being in therapy due to the roller coaster display of intense emotions. There were times I wondered how Otis even made it to adulthood, based on the amount of pressure that was being placed on him. For several years I lost interest in Shia due to his erratic behavior that was making the news. However, after seeing what he did with the script and acting in this movie, I have a whole new appreciation for him and his acting ability.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Queen & Slim

IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A LEISURE afternoon ride because it was going to be my first. Mark and I were work friends; we had known each other for a few years. Our social activity together up until this point was sitting together at company functions or going out for drinks after work. One day we were talking, and I mentioned I had never ridden a motorcycle. Without hesitation, he said he rode one and asked me when I would be free to take a ride. We decided he would come pick me up on Saturday. It never occurred to me I needed a motorcycle helmet; but thankfully, Mark brought an extra one with him. Once he went over the safety instructions and told me how to convey a message to him, he had me get up on the bike to get used to it. The motorcycle was heavier than I imagined it to be. He placed the helmet on my head and adjusted the chin strap. With my jacket zipped up to my neck and my leather gloves snug on my hands, I wondered if I looked like Steve McQueen when he was on that motorcycle in the film, “The Great Escape.”      WE STARTED OUT EASY WITH MARK sticking to the side streets around my neighborhood. Once I became comfortable, he headed out to the highway. I was not prepared for the bumps in the road which made me bounce off the seat; I kept squeezing my legs tightly around him. The roads he took from the highway were unfamiliar to me; but the scenery was beautiful through the forest we were in. At some point a strange sound came out of the motorcycle and it started slowing down. By the time Mark steered the bike off to the side of the road, the engine had died. He tried a couple of things to restart the motorcycle, but nothing worked. Reaching for his phone, he noticed he was not getting any cellular service for it; I tried mine but with the same results. I was starting to get concerned. Mark decided it would be best to push the bike further into the woods to conceal it, then we would start walking until we could call for help on our phones. While we walked, we started to talk more on a personal level, not the usual work conversation we did. The sun was setting and both of us were thirsty and tired. Luckily, we hit a spot where he could get a call out for help and a friend of his was coming to get us. I was grateful. After the weekend when I returned to work, there was a deeper bond that formed between us where we were no longer work friends; we were simply friends. The main characters in this dramatic movie took a different route.      AFTER BEING PULLED OVER BY THE POLICE things quickly escalated in a series of events for Slim and Queen, played by Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Widows) and Jodie Turner-Smith (The Last Ship-TV, Nightflyers-TV). With Bokeem Woodbine (Overlord, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Uncle Earl, Chloe Sevigny (Love & Friendship, Big Love-TV) as Mrs. Shepherd and Flea (Baby Driver, The Big Lebowski) as Mr. Shepherd; the story in this film had a familiar theme to it. However, the writers took the story and turned it into something else that totally grabbed me. The chemistry between Daniel and Jodie was thick and rich; I thought she was dazzling in the role. The script provided a clear path where one could connect to it and think about it further even after the picture ended. There were a couple of weaker scenes that did not work for me; but this would be only a minor complaint. My eyes were glued to the movie screen due to the incredible acting, directing and filming of this topical storied movie.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

HOW IRONIC, WE WERE HAVING THIS conversation over dinner. Friends for years, we had gotten together to catch up with each other; it had been some time since we had last seen each other. During our meal the conversation had turned to the topic of how busy everyone seemed, including us. I was talking about my schedule and how I was booking dates a couple of months ahead already, to get together with friends and family. My friend did not understand why I was having a challenging time in getting together with people. I explained I enjoyed getting together with people over a meal; but after a couple of times meeting in restaurants, I like to plan some type of activity we can both experience. It does not have to be anything elaborate like a boat cruise or indoor sky diving; it can be as simple as going bowling or to a movie. For me, doing something together adds fiber to the relationship. Let’s face it, how many of us will remember a meal we had from a year or so ago? Ok, well maybe I would; but food is not a reliable memory maker. Seeing a museum exhibit that moves both of you or a play that you thought was fantastic or even horrendous, would stay longer in your memory I believe.      THESE SHARED EXPERIENCES PROVIDE ME WITH A deeper emotional connection and understanding to my friends and family members. Being together and witnessing feelings in “real time” is better to me than having someone sitting and telling me about it. The exhilaration of being at a concert, sporting event or discovering a new place on a walking tour; are things that will stay with me. Another option is taking a trip together. They say you really get to know about a person when you take travel with them and I am telling you, it is absolutely true! Granted, this may not always be a positive thing; but you would certainly know more than you did if you hadn’t taken a trip together. One of the fun aspects of sharing an event together is hearing about it years later. Seeing your memory through someone else’s eyes is a fascinating learning experience. You might be surprised to find out something you did not know before. I am not only talking about the activity; it could also be about yourself. Either way, if you want to take a visual trip and see for yourself then watch this film festival winning, comedic drama adventure.      IT WAS NOT ENOUGH FOR ZAK, played by newcomer Zack Gottsagen, to only see his idol on television. He needed to escape the nursing home where he lived and go find his favorite wrestler, the Salt Water Redneck, played by Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Easy A). This movie was a treat. Playing out like a modern Mark Twain story, the filming of it was beautiful. Enough time was given to the scenes to allow the viewer to settle into them. With Shia LaBeouf (Fury, American Honey) as Tyler, Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, The Social Network) as Eleanor and John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, The Sessions) as Duncan; the acting was outstanding. Shia was such a force on the screen that I was surprised by it. Though I have not been a big fan of Dakota in the past, she was wonderful in this role. Thanks to the direction and script, watching this film was like reading a novel. I felt like I was experiencing things at my speed, allowing me to get the most I could out of the scenes. An original story with a lead actor representing a group that has less exposure on screen; I wish I would have taken someone with me when I went to see this exquisite film.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Wild Rose

IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME to realize dreams are not written in stone. They are more like clouds; they do not necessarily have definitive edges and they are never static. Part of living my life is having dreams hanging ahead of me. Think of it like a carrot hanging in front of a horse. I am always trying to make my way towards my dreams. Having lived in rental apartments for most of my life, my dream of home ownership was a large one that had a hold on me. Working two jobs for extra income was tolerable, because I knew there would be more money to devote to building a hefty down payment for a house. It took me some years to reach this dream, but I finally did it. Another dream of mine was to have a brand-new car. The only cars I had to drive were used ones. One of my earliest cars cost $500; it had over 90,000 miles and a houndstooth interior. So, after driving many hand me down autos, I was able to buy a new car. Seven weeks later while parked in front of the post office, a man backed into my car while trying to get out of his parking spot in front of mine. My front bumper was dented and my thrill of having reached my new car dream evaporated in front of me.      FROM MY SUCCESSES AND FAILURES IN achieving my dreams, I never judge someone else’s dreams. I may feel the person will have a tough challenge to get to their dreams, but I would not discourage them from trying at least. An acquaintance of mine contacted me about fitness. They wanted to change careers from finance to fitness. Partially based on their comments to my questions, I felt they were not completely aware of the work needed to become successful and earn a decent living. All of their questions I answered to the best of my ability without any judgement. I, also, did not gloss over anything; expressing the work it took to meet club members’ and clients’ needs. When I reached my dream of being a fitness instructor, I had no idea of the amount of preparation and planning it took to conduct a safe, fun class. The training and studying were nearly overwhelming for me. Learning about all the safety protocols alone was a monumental task. However, from a kid who flunked PE class twice to becoming a fitness instructor; I never let the naysayers discourage me and that is why I was rooting for the main character in this musical drama.      THOUGH SHE HAD A GOOD VOICE, the idea of Rose-Lynn, played by Jessie Buckley (Beast, The Tempest), moving from her home in Glasgow to Nashville to become a country singer sounded crazy to most; but, that wasn’t going to stop Rose-Lynn from fighting for her dream. With Julie Walters (Harry Potter franchise, Mama Mia!) as Marion, Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda, Martian Child) as Susannah, Jamie Sives (Let Him Talk to the Greek, Valhalla Rising) as Sam and Craig Parkinson (Four Lions, Control) as Alan; this film festival winner took me by surprise. Not spending much time listening to country music, I was moved by the songs and vocals, which were provided by Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves. The acting from Jessie and Julie came across with depth and emotion; I was brought into their world. I will say there were periods of time where I had a tough time understanding the dialog when the Scottish brogue got thick. Yet, it did not distract me enough to lose my connection with the story. There have been previous films about a nobody becoming a somebody; however, there was a freshness to this picture that made me smile and tap my toes to the beat.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Maiden

THE TELEVISION SHOWS WERE UNRELATED, BUT each displayed something extraordinary. I only say extraordinary because of the way the hosts were pointing out the actions of the contestants. As for me, I did not consider it special in the way the hosts were touting it; I simply admired the strength that was on display. The premise for one of the TV shows was to find the strongest individual who could complete an obstacle course that challenged the contestant’s physical capabilities. Though most contestants on this show were male, there have been several women. Whenever a female comes up to the start line, the hosts are extra effusive in their comments about her. At least they are not talking about what she is wearing or how she looks; the hosts point out how she is navigating the course as if she were something rare and unique. To me strength is strength, it does not matter if the person is male or female; but, I get it. Viewers may be sitting in front of their televisions in disbelief that a woman could be that strong or they may be more like me and admire her skills like any other contestant. Maybe it is because of my years of teaching in the fitness industry, but I do not look at women and men differently when it comes to their physicality.      THE OTHER SHOW I HAD WATCHED was a talent competition. There were a multitude of acts ranging from artistic to musical to death defying to magical. One act consisted of a man and woman doing acrobatics; things that involved balance and strength. One of the routines they performed was having the woman lift and balance the man on her bent legs. The host was making a huge deal out of this role reversal. I was surprised, but not by the woman’s strength; only the fact that it is rare to see, in these types of acts, a woman doing what has consistently been a male role. The judges were amazed at what they were seeing as well as the audience. Now I grant you, in years past these women may not have even gotten the chance to perform like they were presently doing on these shows. There might even be some individuals who feel women should not be doing such things. It has been going on for years where one’s sex defines what they can and cannot do. Where is it written that an activity, sport or job can only be done by one of these groups? What I saw in this exciting documentary will prove my point to you.      AFTER RUNNING AWAY FROM HOME TRACY Edwards found herself a job as a ship’s cook. Cooking was the last thing she wanted to do, but she had to start somewhere. What she wanted had never been done before. This film festival winner was directed by Alex Holmes who directed the films Dunkirk-TV movie and Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story. I thought the layout of this sports film was wonderful, going from archival footage to home movies to recent filming; the going back and forth in time was not at all a distraction for me. The story was incredible; mainly because I had never heard of the contest discussed in this picture. Secondly, what the contestants had to do for this contest was unreal to me. There is no way I could do such a thing. It is not often a documentary blends excitement, history, emotion and relevance at the same time; but this empowering story/event did it for me. If I had been in any of the cities where they had filmed at the time of this story, I would have certainly been in the crowd to cheer these contestants. Heck, that reality obstacle course show now seems like a rerun to me.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Toy Story 4

THOUGH I HAD NOT SEEN THEM for years, my memories of them were just as vivid today as they were back then. I was downsizing my living space and came upon a couple of shelves in the basement that were filled with toys. Some were in their original packaging while others were sealed in plastic bags or bins. They brought a smile to my face as I had to stop my packing and look at each one. There was a boxed game where the players had to pick 5 letters and 5 categories. Writing each one down on a mini-spreadsheet, letters going vertically down and categories across horizontally, the players would be timed as they had to fill in as many spaces as they could within the time frame. This was my favorite game outside of word games. There was a toy on the shelf that I remember getting at the same time as a cousin of mine. It was a moving track, like a miniature moving sidewalk, where I would have to steer a magnetic car through obstacles that would pop up on the revolving track. Each toy I took off the shelf provided me a fond memory; I was not sure if I could part with any of them.      IT IS FUNNY HOW FOR MANY of us a toy or stuffed animal can have an influence on our life’s path. I remember playing this word game with a relative, where there was a group of dice that had letters instead of numbers on them. They would be shaken around inside a plastic cube until they settled into spaces set out like a tick tack toe graph. We would turn the timer over to start, then come up with as many words as we could using the letters showing; but, having to only connect the letters down or up and side to side, nothing diagonal. It was this early game that started my love of reading and writing. There was also a babysitter of mine who each time she sat for me would bring me a stuffed animal. I am convinced that menagerie started my affection and first educational direction for animals. Let me say at one time I had almost 2 dozen stuffed animals sleeping with me; I could barely move in the bed. Now it has been many years since I played with toys and stuffed animals; but I must tell you, I was pleasantly surprised seeing the familiar characters again in this latest installment of the animated, adventure franchise.      WITH A COUPLE OF DISCARDED ITEMS and a little imagination Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp), created a new toy for herself. The problem was convincing this new addition that he belonged in her toy collection; something Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks (The Post, Sully), thought he could fix. With Tim Allen (3 Geezers!, Last Man Standing-TV) voicing Buzz Lightyear, Tony Hale (Stranger than Fiction, American Ultra ) voicing Forky and Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty in Pink) voicing Bo Peep; this film was one of the few sequels I have seen that maintained the high standards of its previous movies. The animation was outstanding, and the humor was appropriate and relevant for both children and adults. Also, the story was thoughtful and cleverly laid out to take adult type themes and present them in such a way that was easy for kids to digest. I experienced a variety of feelings from excitement to tension to love; each expertly fitted into the script without overpowering one another. The movie studio did a wonderful job in keeping the integrity intact for this beloved film franchise. I may never get rid of my toys now. There were 4 extra scenes during the 1sthalf of the credits.

 

3 ½ stars        

Flash Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

THROUGHOUT OUR HISTORY WE HAVE BEEN introduced to couples, both real and imaginary, who have a special relationship. Each couple had a bond that formed a unique and solid connection between the two. There was Bonnie and Clyde, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Thelma and Louise and Batman & Robin to name a few. I remember when I was first introduced to these, dare I say, iconic couples. There was something about them that intrigued me because I could relate in a way. I had a best friend; the two of us were nearly inseparable. Our backgrounds were different; for example, his parents were divorced, and he had not grown up in the neighborhood. Despite the differences, we first connected with our love of books. From there we discovered a variety of similarities that formed the bonding agent to our connection. What helped cement our relationship were those times where we were both discovering something new for the very first time. Having that shared experience, looking back now, really provided the stepping stones to our growth path. It came to a point where we could tell how the other was feeling just by looking at them. We spoke in a shorthand that others tended to find confusing. Our relationship provided each of us a new level of confidence in dealing with the world around us.      CONFIDENCE, IT IS SUCH AN ESSENTIAL element to one’s life. I know my journey becoming a confident adult would have taken longer if I did not have someone close with a like mind, my best friend. For the couples I mentioned above, it would have been a different world if they had not found their “soulmate.” Would Clyde have been so successful if he had not met Bonnie? Would Batman have solved all those crimes if he did not have Robin by his side? I do not know the answer. However, I know how it feels to have a special friend, soulmate or whatever name you want to call it; I believe it provides one with strength in every aspect of a person’s life. Having someone who is supportive, who watches your back allows one to take more chances on their ideas. I know what it feels like to think you are the only one in the world. When you discover someone, who understands you or just gets you, there is no greater feeling. If you want to see how well a couple works together when they have history, then see what happens with the couple in this action, crime thriller.      HAVING BROKEN THE RULES BY KILLING a fellow assassin on company property John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves (Replicas, Point Break), turned himself from being a hunter to becoming the hunted. The fact there was a $14 million price upon his head did not help matters. This 3rdinstallment started right up where the previous film ended. With Halle Berry (Die Another Day, Monster’s Ball) as Sofia, Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Deadwood-TV) as Winston, Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Contagion) as Bowery King and Asia Kate Dillon (Billons-TV) as the Adjudicator; this movie was all about the fight scenes. And let me tell you these scenes were insanely violent and bloody. But here is the thing, they were so expertly choregraphed and staged that I felt the fighting on a visceral level. There were times I was both cringing and laughing at what I was seeing on the big screen. I thought the fight scenes were one of the best I have seen all year. The story was absurd and over the top which is exactly what these movies provide the viewer. The creativity involved in creating this story and beingable to carry it out was excellent. I am not into violence and blood, but I could not turn away from watching this outrageous picture. If there was an election for picking this year’s iconic couple, I would vote for John Wick and Sofia. They were that good together.

 

3 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Shazam

IF ONLY THE SUPERHERO INSIDE OF me had come out when I was much younger; I am sure I would have had an easier time of things. Instead of being relegated each time to left field when we played baseball in school, I bet I could have been the pitcher if I knew about my superhero. Those times when I was being abused and bullied, I did have several plans of attack and rescue playing out in my mind; however, I needed a superhero to boost my confidence and hopes. Because of this, part of my brain was constantly working on plans of revenge; ones that I would never carry out but made me feel a little better. I remember there was a time where a group of robbers were focusing on passengers who rode the subway train. They would pretend to be passengers and when the train came to a stop they would grab purses and jewelry, then jump off the train and run away. The poor victims would not have time to react before the doors closed and the train pulled away from the station. I am not saying these people were not aware of their superhero; but imagine if they had the ability to react quickly and prevent the robbers from snatching their purses.      IT WAS NOT UNTIL SOME YEARS into my adulthood that I realized not only do I have a superhero inside of me, but most everyone else had one also. As a joke I tell people my superpower is being able to withstand high heat. All kidding aside, from my experiences I discovered my superhero has enabled me to be compassionate and kind. After what I went through years ago, it has taken me a long time to get to a place where I can be and act on these things. A superhero I believe gives one confidence in themselves. There is less fear being generated by the person. Speaking on experience, this is absolutely true; I cannot tell you how different the world feels when one is able to participate in it without being in a constant state of fear. One way I describe this feeling is by telling people to envisage their entire world having been black and white; then one day, everything turns into color. Just like what happened to Dorothy when she arrived in Oz as the film went from black and white to color. A person can get so much out of life when they are in synch with their superhero; see for yourself in this adventure film.      THERE WAS SOMETHING INSIDE OF FOSTER kid Billy Batson, played by relative newcomer Asher Angel, that made him special; at least to an ancient wizard. With Zachary Levi (Thor franchise, Chuck-TV) as Shazam, Mark Strong (Kingsman franchise, Before I Go to Sleep) as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Michelle Borth (Teenage Cocktail, Hawaii Five-O-TV) as Super Hero Mary and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Wizard; this action fantasy film was a fun movie to watch. I thought the script was well written because it provided a sweet likability factor to the fantasy story. Zachary was made for this role, doing a wonderful job of portraying Shazam. There was solid humor, touching moments, a decent message and old-fashioned action scenes in this picture. Though I had hoped the studios would have given Mark Strong a character and script with more heft to it; I still enjoyed his action scenes and felt he made a convincing villain. This was one of the best films I have seen come out of the DC universe. It seems as if the people who worked on this picture were in touch with their superhero. There were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.

 

3 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

HOW DOES ONE GIVE UP SOMETHING they love? I find it to be one of the hardest things to do. I have been told I have strong willpower; that I can be disciplined enough to forgo something for a short time, not so sure about long term. Talking with someone recently who is pregnant, she said the hardest thing for her during her pregnancy was not being able to eat pizza. It is her favorite food and now every time she tries to eat a slice she gets horribly sick. I mentioned it should only be a temporary situation and pass once her baby is born. Another example I can think of is when one goes shopping with a friend or relative and both fall in love with the same item that the store has only 1 left on their shelf. Think about a sweater or cooking item that you have been searching for that your relative or friend has been wanting also; how do you decide which one of you gets to purchase the item? Maybe only shop alone to avoid the problem in the future; but for the present, most people tend to offer the other person the item out of politeness.      I KNOW TWO WOMEN WHO BOTH are passionate about collecting certain antique clothing items. They both have similar tastes which has become an issue for them. The items they seek can be found through auctions; the 2 friends wind up bidding against each other sometimes and not always knowing it. I thought they came up with an equitable plan. Before each auction they now discuss which items they are going to bid on. When they both want to bid on the same item, they take turns on who gets to bid on it. When there are multiple items up for bidding they alternate turns. Gratefully this has worked out for them; they avoid spending more money on items and more importantly, there are no hurt feelings. Now I understand the examples I have mentioned may seem trivial to some individuals. However, I believe whenever love is involved, whether it is love for an item or love for a person, there is a stronger connection that makes it harder for the person to separate themselves. Look at parenting; isn’t the idea of it to raise kids to become independent? Or, at the end of life; there are some people who cannot let go of their loved ones. Love is such a strong emotion; if you do not believe me then feel free to watch this animated, adventure sequel.      AS THE NEW RULER HICCUP, VOICED by Jay Baruchel (Lovesick, She’s Out of my League), has created a safe haven for the dragons who look up to his dragon as their leader. Just when his dragon Toothless is needed during a crisis, Hiccup’s dragon is focused more on love. With America Ferrera (Cesar Chavez, Ugly Betty-TV) voicing Astrid, F. Murray Abrahams (Robin Hood, Finding Forrester) voicing Grimmel, Cate Blanchett (Ocean’s Eight, Thor: Ragnarok) voicing Valka and Gerard Butler (Hunter Killer, The Bounty Hunter) voicing Stoick; this action sequel brought everything together for the final chapter in this movie franchise. The animation was wonderful as the actors brought their characters to life. I thought the story made a perfect ending to these films and appreciated the well written script providing a blend of excitement, humor and emotional sensitivity. If you have not seen the previous movies I do not believe you will be lost with this picture; there were things I had forgotten, and it did not make a difference in my level of enjoyment for this film. Though I love the dragons from Game of Thrones, there were a few dragons in this movie that I could see myself loving as well.

 

3 ½ stars     

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