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Flash Movie Review: Lightyear

MY JOB WAS NAVIGATION ON THE ship; rarely did I ever take on the role of captain. We were traveling in uncharted space; so, we were under a yellow alert, which meant everyone had to be at their assigned places, ready to go into action. I wound up steering the ship because my commanders were impressed with my instincts and ability to outmaneuver alien spacecraft. Our ship looked like an arrow; it was built streamlined for maximum speed. The front half was a triangular shiny silver shape, and the back half was an oversized cylinder that housed our massive engines. The bridge was at the base of the triangle, slightly elevated above the front half. At the forefront, just under the tip of the front part of the triangle, were a series of weapons that were incorporated into the design of the ship. We as a crew always strived to come in peace; however, if we were threatened, we could quickly become assertive to protect ourselves. On one trip, we encountered an alien ship that was shaped like half a circular dome with two long engines jutting out on one side. The dome had a honeycomb pattern to it. Without warning they started shooting at us, but luckily are protective shields withstood the blasts. I quickly steered the ship to dive underneath the enemy and blast them with our aft laser cannons to disable their craft. It worked.      I NOTICED IT WAS GETTING LATE, so I quickly got up from the floor and put my rocket ship back in the kitchen drawer that held serving utensils. My rocket ship was a pie server. The enemy spaceship was a strainer that I hung back up on its hook in the pantry. There was so much cookware that I was never at a loss for finding something that I could pretend was a rocket ship or alien headquarters. There was a hand mixer that was one of my favorite kitchen items to turn into a rocket ship because by turning the handle, the two beaters would spin and become the engines that would propel the converted ship forward in the air or submerge and propel it underwater. Our kitchen was a treasure trove of objects and things that would stimulate my imagination to create a multitude of outer space adventures. Even ballpoint pens would become rocket ships to help Flash Gordon defeat Ming the Merciless and any other character I had seen or created. The feelings I have attached to these memories were stirred up while watching this animated, action, adventure film.      DESPITE BEING STRANDED ON A FOREIGN planet, the mission still needed to be completed according to Buzz Lightyear, voiced by Chris Evans (Gifted, Captain America franchise), no matter what was taking place around him. With Keke Palmer (Hustlers, Joyful Noise) voicing Izzy Hawthorne, Peter Sohn (Luca, It Starts with Murder!) voicing SOX, Taika Waititi (The Suicide Squad, Free Guy) voicing Mo Morrison and Dale Soules (Aardvark, Orange is the New Black-TV) voicing Darby Steel; this science fiction movie was enjoyable. The animation was outstanding, with several incredible looking scenes. I thought the cast did an excellent job with their characters and was surprised by the emotional depth that was instilled in several of them. My concern with this picture comes down to the story line. The opening scene appeared to steer the story one way, but then there was no other reference to it the rest of the time. With the multiple story lines, I found they were distracting at times and lowered the connection between viewer and character. Granted, the story was not unusual or that exciting; however, the messages being conveyed were touching and the execution of events with its own unique humor made the time go pleasantly by. Though this Pixar movie might not reach the super status level of their previous works, I still found it stimulating and imaginative. There were two extra scenes during and at the end of the credits.                                

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS ABOUT teaching fitness/yoga classes is filling in for an absent instructor. Though I never refused unless logistically I could not make the class, there always was apprehension on what I would encounter from the participants. Like going to doctors or hair stylists, people find an instructor they like and stick with them. Walking into a class to find out a substitute is filling in for your favorite instructor usually leads to some level of disappointment. I remember filling in for a fellow yoga instructor and as I was introducing myself, three participants rolled up their mats and walked out. Ten minutes later as we were doing our warmup poses, a member asked me why I was not turning the lights off; evidently the assigned instructor teaches in subdued light. When I told the member I needed light to observe how each person was doing the poses; she made a sour face, uttered what sounded like a “harumph” before gathering her things and stormed out of the room. I totally get how individuals have expectations before they walk into the fitness room; but I must ask what options do they think are available? Either the substitute instructor teaches class, or the class would have to be cancelled; under these circumstances, wouldn’t it be better to deal with a different instructor’s style of yoga instead of no yoga at all?      WHEN IT COMES TO INSTRUCTORS OR really anyone who is in a visible position, people are funny about those they like. Where I experienced more of the negative aspects when filling in for another instructor, I have heard from those instructors who have subbed for me. They have experienced the same negative reactions to their presence in my classes. I understand disappointment; when I go to a live theater event and the leading star’s character has a stand-in, I am disappointed, but I am not going to deny myself the experience of seeing the production. Just like those stories one hears about a rabid fan doing things to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity, people want what they want as they say. I have read about millionaires who pay exorbitant prices to get a singer to perform at one of their parties. Or what about the individuals who do an outrageous act in the hopes of getting their celebrity crush to notice. I had a member who turned into a stalker, who would pop up at the oddest times to talk and ask me out until I had to file a complaint. As I sat down to watch this action crime comedy, I wondered which way would one of the main characters act, upon meeting their celebrity crush.      DOWN ON HIS LUCK AND NEEDING the money was enough incentive for Nick Cage, played by Nicolas Cage (Pig, Between Worlds), to accept the offer to show up at a wealthy man’s estate. If nothing else, it would be a new role for him. With Pedro Pascal (Wonder Woman 1984, The Mandalorian-TV) as Javi Gutierrez, Tiffany Haddish (Like a Boss, Bad Trip) as Vivian, Sharon Horgan (Game Night, Dating Amber) as Olivia and Neil Patrick Harris (The Matrix Resurrections, Gone Girl) as Richard Fink; this movie was a lighthearted, fun experience. What made it so was the pairing of Nicolas with Pedro; they were great together as they played off each other. The idea for the story was novel, where I could appreciate the tongue in cheek flavor of the script. The writers were creative in setting things up for Nic to spoof Nicolas’ old films. Honestly, there is not anything that is a surprise here per se; however, it was just fun to see Nicholas doing such an excellent job parodying himself. As the film ended, I wondered if the movie studio would do another film with the two main leads; I think it would be a hoot. 

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Our Father

THROUGHOUT MY ELEMENTARY AND HIGH SCHOOL years, I only met two individuals who had been adopted. They happened to be half-sisters, who shared the same mother; a married couple agreed to adopt them both. When I was told about their adoption, I became curious about them. They had the same color hair and eyes; one was taller than the other. That was pretty much all they had in common as far as I could see. The taller one was studious and quiet, while her younger sister did poorly in school and was considered a wild party person. They were not part of my circle of friends for the most part; however, there were times we would be eating at the same lunch table. While eating, I would keep an eye on the two of them to see if they ate the same type of food items. I do not know why I focused on this; I guess I was simply intrigued about their story of being birthed by one woman and raised by a different one. As I said earlier, I had never met anyone who had been adopted. From my observations, I chalked up their differences were due to having different fathers. I have not thought about them for some time, but I wonder with the easy availability of DNA testing if they ever were curious to learn more about their genetic history.      THE REASON I MENTIONED DNA TESTING, is because I had recently heard about a woman who, out of curiosity, decided to get tested because she was curious to find out what countries her ancestors originated from. When she received the results, she learned something more that she was not expecting; her DNA did not match with her dad. This news did not settle in immediately; but after studying her results again, it sunk in that the man she knew her entire life was not her father. Sadly, she could not ask either of her parents because they were both deceased. As far as she was concerned, her mother must have had an affair with another man; either her father knew and her parents decided to never say anything about it, or her mother kept it a secret her entire life. The woman was devastated by these results. I know it bothered her because she became angry that she could not confront her mother to find out the truth. Since this person is only an acquaintance, who I have had no contact with for some time, I now wonder if she delved deeper into her DNA results to see if she might have had any half siblings she could reach out to for any answers. It would be a shock if she experienced anything close to what happened in this startling documentary.      AWARE SHE WAS ADOPTED, JACOBA BALLARD was curious to know if she might have any unknown relatives. A DNA test could help, and it did, but not the way she was expecting. Directed by first time director Lucie Jourdan, this film played out like a suspenseful crime story. The story is so incredible that I was in synch with what was unfolding for Jacoba. The use and mix of actual recordings with reenactments went seamlessly and made for a more powerful statement in my opinion. As the story progressed, I found myself going deeper into shock from what was happening. I will also add that I became angry while watching the outcome of an issue that was being worked on. To think before we had the ability to test our DNA, there could be many people living under a delusion/fantasy. Be prepared when watching this documentary; it might have a bigger effect on you than you expect.

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Downton Abbey: A New Era

EVERYDAY ON MY ROUTE TO AND from the office, I pass a house that is up for sale. It has been nearly seven months now that the FOR-SALE sign has been out by the street curb. I do not know how big an acre of land is, but there is enough land around the structure where two more houses could easily be built on it. The land slopes up from the curb to the white painted house, giving off the look of a southern plantation home. With green painted shutters and a thick white pillar on either side of the front door with its brass door knocker, I do not understand why the house has not found a buyer; from my view, it looks like something used on a movie set. When I found the listing for it online, I went through all the photos of the interior, and I was stunned. The rooms were extremely small with just as small doorways. I could not imagine how furniture would fit through any of the doors. The kitchen was nasty looking, with ancient appliances, broken cabinet doors and old fixtures. Upstairs there were four bedrooms and each one was oddly shaped due to the pitch of the roof and the support beams. To look out the window of one of the rooms, one would have to stoop over to avoid hitting their head on the ceiling. This house was in desperate need of a big remodeling.      THIS ONE HOUSE HAS CHANGED MY perception of large, fancy homes; or as what I refer to them as, McMansions. The most beautiful homes with perfectly manicured lawns and the best curbside appeal may only be a façade. I am always looking at the homes listed in the real estate section of the newspapers and now wonder what might lie behind their walls. Firstly, I do not understand why someone needs a huge house unless they have a lot of family members living with them. Homes that are over 10,000 square feet with a multitude of bathrooms make no sense to me. Why would the occupants need so many rooms? Then there are the “super” mansions that are massive beyond anything that I would consider being practical. I sit and imagine what rooms get used in a day, week, or month; trying to list in my head every conceivable function that would require its own separate room. Even coming up with obscure hobbies or uses, I can see a maximum of needing maybe twelve rooms and that is including four bedrooms and a den. Keeping up maintenance would be a nightmare; I saw proof of it in this romantic drama.      ALLOWING A MOVIE STUDIO TO SET up in their home was more of a necessity for the Grantham family because they needed the funds for repairs. Also, the timing was perfect since they discovered the inheritance of a French villa. With Hugh Bonneville (Paddington franchise, Notting Hill) as Robert Grantham, Jim Carter (The Good Liar, Shakespeare in Love) as Mr. Carson, Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop, The Gentleman) as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern (The Chaperone, The Wife) as Cora Grantham and Allen Leech (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Imitation Game) as Tom Branson; one need not see the first film to enjoy this sequel. I am not familiar with the television series, so the first thirty minutes were a struggle for me; however, I soon settled in to experience a time gone by with the members of this household. The idea for the story was a stretch; I would have been more curious if the writers had gone down the other path, they introduced into the story line regarding Hugh’s character. Either way, fans of the series will not be disappointed with this film. As for me, I wound up enjoying spending the time with the Grantham family, though I wondered what else in the house needed repair.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

HEAVEN ON EARTH FOR ME IS anyplace that sells soft-serve, custard ice cream. There is such a feeling of comfort and joy that comes over me when eating the stuff. So, I decided recently to treat myself and go to a shop that sells it. After the choosing and paying for my chocolate ice cream, I sat down at one of the tables in the place. A family of four walked in and they each grabbed a cup to fill up with their choice of ice cream. This shop is set up where the customer fills the container with product and gets charged for it by the weight. Next to the cash registers was a long counter that was covered with containers filled with different toppings for one’s ice cream. I watched as the two children with their full containers ran up to this counter to pick their toppings. Unbelievably, my first thought was why were not the parents supervising them on the toppings; but they eventually came over to pay for their containers, while watching their kids go from one end to the other putting topping after topping on their ice cream. I counted nine toppings; yes, I said nine toppings! You could see part of them on top above the edge of their containers. How did the parents allow so much stuff added to the ice cream, and I wondered how much each of their children’s containers would cost? Also, could they even taste each item when there were so many different ones piled together?      I HAVE NEVER SHIED AWAY FROM combined multiple tastes, like chocolate cake with chocolate chips and chocolate ice cream. Or I can do hot fudge, nuts, and sprinkles on top of my ice cream. However, I cannot exceed more tastes into one thing. An example would be that dessert bar that people usually call seven-layer bars or conglomerates. They are not bad, and I have certainly eaten my share of them; however, they are not my favorite. I would be perfectly content with a chocolate chip cookie. When there are too many items pushed together, I never feel I am getting the full taste of each item. It is funny, I am the same way with my meals. I like my salad before the meal and everything on my plate should be separated so they are not mixing. Chicken in one spot, asparagus in another and potatoes by themselves. Of course, Chinese entrees or several Mexican dishes are fine because they are supposed to be put together. The reason I am telling you this is because you will understand better why I was having a challenging time watching this action, adventure fantasy.      SEEING A MULTI-TENTACLE CREATURE DESTROYING property was not the biggest shock for Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog, The Electrical Life of Louis Wan); it was seeing a young girl in the middle of the chaos, who he had seen in his dreams. With Elizabeth Olsen (Wind River, In Secret) as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Chiwetel Ejiofer (Locked Down, The Old Guard) as Baron Mordo, Benedict Wong (The Martian, Annihilation) as Wong and Rachel McAdams (Game Night, Spotlight) as Dr. Christine Palmer; this new installment of the film franchise had a darker side to it than the average Marvel Studios’ film. Benedict’s acting, which was superior, was equally matched and more so by Elizabeth Olsen and that is what kept me grounded to this picture. The abundance of special effects was so over the top for me; that I felt the CGI department let loose with everything they could think of because of being cooped up due to COVID the past couple of years. It was too much for me and I had to pay close attention to the different universes and storylines that were being thrust upon the screen. It was the thoughtful, emotional scenes that got me through the monotony of so many action, fantasy scenes. Though I will say the special effects were amazing; I love Doctor Strange’s cloak. How I like my toppings on ice cream is how I wish this sequel had been written, more backstory and less frenetic action scenes. There were two extra scenes: one in the middle and the other at the end of the credits.

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: I Want You Back

IF A COUPLE IS GOING TO end their relationship, the ideal situation in my opinion is when they both agree to it. I know personally it is much easier when both parties come to the same realization that the relationship is not working/healthy. A couple I knew were together for approximately a year before they discovered they could no longer grow in the relationship because each of them could not see spending the rest of their life with their significant other. Kudos to them for coming to that realization. They continued their friendship and were able to do so because they no longer had any boyfriend/girlfriend expectations placed on each other. I have come close to such a situation; but there always had to be an extended time of separation before I could relate to the person on a different level. Many of my friends never understood how I could be friends with someone who started out as a love interest. I would always answer them by saying just because the love aspect has dissolved, does not negate all the other positive attributes that attracted them to me in the first place. A different kind of love takes over from the romantic one.      THOUGH I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE TO have had loving relationships that evolved into solid friendships, I have had some horrific breakups. One of the worst kinds is when your love cannot tell you why they are breaking up with you. All they can muster up is the fact they do not want to be in a relationship. It always feels like I cannot get closure with what we shared; honestly, they could say whatever they want as an excuse, and I would be fine with it if they can give me a reason. Outside of that, the absolute worst kind of breakup is when your partner has already started a relationship with your replacement. This has happened to me twice as far as I know and when it has, my first thought is how can a person immediately pivot from one relationship right into another one without some kind of reflection or personal growth help to discover why they were in the relationship and now out of it. I know myself well enough to know I need time off to contemplate all that took place and get myself to a space of self-care and acceptance before moving on. I certainly have not gone the route that two of the main characters in this romantic comedy did, which I am proud to say.      DISCOVERING THEY BOTH HAVE SOMETHING IN common when it comes to a relationship, two office workers come up with a plan to get their true love once again. With Charlie Day (Fist Fight, Horrible Bosses franchise) as Peter, Jenny Slate (Gifted, Obvious Child) as Emma, Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Noah, Gina Rodriguez (Miss Bala, Deepwater Horizon) as Anne and Manny Jacinto (Even Lambs Have Teeth, The Good Place) as Logan; the reason this movie succeeds is due to the cast. I found Charlie’s and Jenny’s characters so authentic because of the chemistry between these two. Though the story is easy to figure out, the writers provided enough little twists and turns to make it all seem fresh and new. I usually do not react to extremes in comedy scenes; but I have to say, I did not mind them here because of the added emotional depth the writers instilled in the characters. And speaking of comedy, I did not find anything that caused me to laugh aloud. However, I did have a smile on my face while watching this entertaining movie about love and relationships.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Sing 2

I KEPT ENCOURAGING HER TO CONTINUE delving into designing jewelry. She really had an eye for creating unique earrings and necklaces. The problem was she did not have the confidence or the belief that she could actually do it and possibly do it for a living. The only person she designed for was herself, except for the occasional friend or relative celebrating a birthday. I made a point of commenting on the jewelry she was wearing anytime we got together; not because I felt I had to, but because her pieces were striking. She created interesting patterns using tiny colored beads and crystals. There was one pair of earrings where she had a series of hoops from small to large hanging together that had rows of beads on each one. When the beads were perfectly aligned, they would create an image; it could be of an animal, a human’s face or some object. The idea was when the person was moving their head the beads would separate a little, distorting the image; but when the person was still and the beads settled down, an image would appear. They were the coolest things, and I really thought my friend could do something with them. I suggested she could sign up for a couple of art fairs or see if there were any boutiques who would take her creations on consignment, but she was too afraid.      BEING AFRAID WAS SOMETHING I WAS familiar with, so I understood where she was coming from with her fear of failure. I get it that no one wants to set themselves up for failure; but I also feel no one wants to look back at their life and wonder “What if…” My journey into the fitness world was not easy for me, since I had flunked PE twice in high school and tried avoiding all physical classes through the rest of my schooling. It wasn’t until I was with a friend at a small local aerobic class years after I graduated, where I got my first taste of how exercise could be fun. The class was held in a temple’s meeting room on a hard linoleum floor. The instructor/owner was this bubbly, friendly woman who encouraged each of us to simply do our best, not what we think our classmate thinks is best. She was a big influence on me because she was the first “teacher” I encountered in a fitness class who genuinely wanted to see me be happy with myself. It was an extraordinary experience for me. I think because of my experience with her, I enjoyed this sequel as much as I did the first one.      HAVING ACHIEVED SOME LEVEL OF SUCCESS on the local level, theater owner Buster Moon, voiced by Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe, The Beach Bum), has his sights set on the big city. But he soon finds out the only way he can put on a show is to get a musical icon who has not been seen in years. Buster may be putting more on the line than he thinks with this new show. With Reese Witherspoon (Wild, Water for Elephants) voicing Rosita, Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story, Black Widow) voicing Ash, Taron Egerton (Rocketman, Eddie the Eagle) voicing Johnny and relative newcomer Tori Kelly voicing Meena; I got swept into this film with all its musical numbers and fun animation. Though the script was not clearly defined in parts, I found the story to be both joyous and touching. Granted if you have seen the first film then there will be no surprises in this one, but it still was a charming, sweet picture. And for no other reason, the musical numbers were spot on. Conveying a wonderful message wrapped inside a colorful exciting palette, there is no need to be fearful in seeing this well-done sequel.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Oslo

HOW I WISHED I COULD HAVE been a fly on the wall during their conversation. We had plans in place a few months ago, for all of us to get together at a relative’s house. The matriarch had agreed that we should test for COVID before coming over. I was a guest, so I was going with the flow believing it was a good idea. All was set; we tested and were on our way when we got a call from a relative. It turns out the person’s house we were going to refused to test and started a fight with the guests who arrived first. Even if I had not been forewarned, I would have known something was up because the tension in the room was as thick as foam insulation. Plus, several guests had red eyes which told me there had been tears flowing. Not to bore you with all the details, the most startling aspect of this entire event was how the matriarch sided with the person who refused to test. The thing that annoyed me was how the matriarch, when asked, said she never said she thought testing was a good idea. In fact, she was simply parroting whatever the non-tester was saying to us. There is one thing that I feel is extremely precious for each human being and that is their word. How this elderly woman could go back on what she said was something I found appalling. As I said earlier, I wished I could have been a fly on the wall to see how this relative convinced the matriarch to change her mind about testing.      ON A SCALE OF THINGS, I wish I could have been privy to, this incident is far down the list. There are so many places I wish I could have seen or heard that I do not even know where to begin. For example, I would have been fascinated to have heard what was said at the meeting between Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill at their 1943 meeting in Tehran. I think it would have been beyond fascinating to see these three world leaders talking amongst themselves. Another place that I wish I could have seen and heard is the courtrooms where the woman’s right to vote was argued. Imagine what it must have been like to listen to the individuals who argued against the passing of the law; currently they would be ripped apart in the media. Or just recently the Olympic Games where the Russian female skater tested positive for a banned substance; I would have been so interested to hear the arguments on whether to let her skate or not. Hearing the backstory to famous events always piques my curiosity and this film based on a true story hit a bullseye with me.      BELIEVING THEY COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE, a Norwegian couple go outside government boundaries to get two adversaries to talk to each other. Their idea could create a big change for the world. With Ruth Wilson (Saving Mr. Banks, Dark River) as Mona Juul, Andrew Scott (Pride, Victor Frankenstein) as Terje Rod-Larsen, Karel Dobry (A Knight’s Tale, Child 44) as Johan Jorgen Hoist, Tobias Zilliacus (The Hypnotist, Hospital-Daughter’s Mother) as Jan Egeland and Itzik Cohen (A Matter of Size, Fauda-TV) as Yossi Beilin; this movie based on a true story was a combination of being dramatic, thrilling and historical. I was fortunate to see the play this film was based on and loved it. This movie does a good job of sticking to the same storyline, but I felt there were a few scenes less engaging. However, the sets and dialog kept me zoned into the story. It is an incredible story that very few knew about back in the 1990s regarding the Palestinians and Israelis. There is little action in the traditional sense; so, if one is not a fan of history, they may not get as much enjoyment as I did watching this picture about an incredible event, made more incredible with the added layers of the story that have come to light.                                 

3 stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Adam Project

IT IS SO MUCH EASIER TO look back and know what you could have done instead of what you did do in that moment. Though I try to live my life without regrets, I have a history of events that I wish I could have erased or at least acted differently in. There was the odd-looking woman with the shopping cart who my friends and I would call a witch when we were little kids. In elementary school, I found a pencil sharpener shaped like an airplane on the floor. Instead of turning it into the teacher, I kept it because I had never seen one like it. During winter I cannot tell you how many times a group of us boys would be walking down the street as the local bus was making its stops. We never passed up the chance to throw snowballs at it as it drove by. I remember, though, talking a friend of mine out of wrapping snow around a rock before throwing it at the bus. The last time I participated in this activity was when the bus driver stopped the bus and got out to chase us. I never threw another snowball at a bus after that time. It is funny how some things never change because when I drive through the neighborhood in the winter months, inevitably I will spot a couple of little kids throwing a snowball at a bus or car before taking off and running away.      THEY SAY WITH AGE COMES WISDOM and I hope I continue to gain a little bit of wisdom every day. From time to time I think back to an event or a relationship and wonder what would have happened if…ahh, that word “if” can really trip a person up. In my classes I would coax members to at least try a new move because it was always easier than sitting and wondering about it for days on end. Imagine what we could accomplish if we were able to go back in time to do something differently than what we did back then. I carry a regret about a past relationship that ended in a brutally horrible way, to the point I said some awful things that I now wish I could have taken back. We learn from our mistakes, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply return to that specific time and redo our actions? I know I would be busy if I had the opportunity. Watching the main character in this action-adventure comedy, I could not help but admire his desire to try and make a change in his life.      AFTER CRASH LANDING, A TIME TRAVELING pilot finds his childhood home with his younger self living in it. With Ryan Reynolds (Red Notice, Free Guy) as Adam, newcomer Walker Scobell as young Adam, Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers franchise, Dark Waters) as Louis Reed, Jennifer Garner (Draft Day, 13 Going on 30) as Ellie Reed and Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Blood Ties) as Laura; this was a fun science fiction film. Here was another role molded to Ryan, though I will say I thought Walker was almost as good as Ryan. There really was no new territory mined in the story; but the mix of childhood angst with family dynamics, rolled into a love story made this movie feel fresh. I enjoyed the whole cast as they all easily blended as a group through the script. As for the special effects they were nothing earthshattering, but they were fine for the several times they were in use. What was a surprise to me were the scenes that I found touching and sweet; they were a nice counterpoint to the other side of the story line. Overall, this was simply an easy, enjoyable movie watching experience and if you have a history of liking Ryan’s films, then you will be glad you saw this one as well.

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

IT WAS NOT UNUSUAL TO HAVE knocking on my front door, but it was strange to have a stranger standing there when I opened the door. I was living off campus in a 6 storied, student housing building. There was a property manager who lived on the ground floor, but all the apartments were for students; married students would live in the corner units of the building because they were 2-bedroom apartments. I was living in a studio apartment, or I should say one room with a bathroom, like most the students on the floor. Each floor had a common kitchen that the residents on the floor would share. It was nothing to knock on a door and ask a fellow student for something; however, on this day there was a middle-aged woman standing at my door. She was dressed in a long skirt and a light jacket over a white blouse that had a bow up around her neck. Her arm was hugging a pile of pamphlets close to her chest. She had a warm smile despite seeing the shocked look on my face when I opened my door. My first thought was thinking she was doing a survey for the university because I did not understand how she got through the security door in the building’s lobby.      I SAID, “HELLO, HOW CAN I help you?” As she introduced herself, she handed me one of her pamphlets. The front of it was illustrated in such a way to make me think it was an advertisement for a children’s book. She asked if she could tell me about her god. I declined the offer, saying I practice a different religion. Without losing her smile, she said her god would save me. Right then my attitude changed because I found her statement offensive. I believed ever person’s religion should be respected and that one was not better than another. I explained to her I was not interested, but it was nice to meet her as I closed my door. It has always puzzled me how people think their religion is the best or the “right” one. If memory serves me correctly, I think there are only three religions that do not actively seek out people to convert them over to their religion. It is one thing to be open and expressive about one own’s religion, but the idea of seeking out people to say they will not go to heaven or be with their god because of their religion is wrong in my book. I feel more strongly about it after seeing this Oscar nominated, biographical drama.      UPON MEETING THE MAN SHE WOULD later marry, young Tammy Faye, played by Jessica Chastain (The 355, Molly’s Game) would wind up experiencing more than she ever imagined one could while being a good Christian. With Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge; tick, tick…BOOM!) as Jim Bakker, Cherry Jones (Ocean’s Twelve, The Perfect Storm) as Rachel Grover, Vincent D’Onofrio (The Unforgivable, The Judge) as Jerry Falwell and Mark Wystrach (Road to Red, Scavengers) as Gary Paxton; this film based on a true story excelled due to Jessica, Cherry and Andrew. They saved the script that I found to be a bit too sanitized, considering what was going on during the times when Jim and Tammy Faye were growing their business. At times, I felt Jessica was on the verge of being a caricature but then she would reel it in during the next scene. I will say the script does not put the religious conservatives in a good light; if what was shown was true, I was taken aback with the backroom antics of the religious leaders in this story. Not only was this an entertaining picture for the most part, but it also reaffirmed my feelings about those who preach their way is the right way.

3 stars  

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