WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY, there were people in my life who I thought were heroes. They just were not superheroes like the ones I read about in the comic books. There was this man in the neighborhood who I thought was the strongest human. He used his backyard as a workshop, so I would see him lifting and carrying these large and heavy planks of wood. The fastest runner in the neighborhood I thought was a boy who had the grace of an animal when he ran. It was not until I was older before I encountered individuals who I would classify as superheroes. I met a retired nurse who had helped in the delivery of every baby born in the town she lived in. That also included the pregnancies that had complications. If that was not enough, she found the time to walk at least two miles a day, despite having two cracked vertebrae in her spine. Coincidently, I encountered an individual who spent a part of each day crocheting baby blankets, which she would donate to various establishments in low-income areas, like day care centers and clinics. These individuals I have described are more of a superhero than those who brag about their accomplishments. AT A COMPANY I USED TO work at, there was a senior executive who made a point of always mentioning his latest donations to charities. I did not fault him for sending funds to a charitable organization; but honestly, based on his personality I was not sure if he was telling the truth. He was a big braggart who liked to dress in a flashy style. The twisted part about all of this is the fact he was fired for stealing. I never knew if he was stealing from the company to make his donations; but based on my impressions of him, I would not have put it past him. Another employee at the company was someone who I highly respected. They were a survivor from both mental and physical abuse. Their journey led them to the job they had so they could save money to go back to school and become a counselor for people who had suffered a comparable situation to what she had experienced. To me, she was a superhero. We became friendly because we had something in common. It is people like her, who on the outside look unassuming, but inside they make or plan to make a difference in other people’s lives. Though, it seems like it is harder to find superheroes amongst us these days, you might see one in this dramatic, action fantasy. THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT HIS NEIGHBOR that made Sam Clearly, played by Javon “Wanna” Walton (Euphoria-TV, Utopia-TV), think this man was a deceased superhero. There was only one way to find out. With Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables franchise, Daylight) as Joe, Pilou Asbaek (Ghost in the Shell, Game of Thrones-TV) as Cyrus, Dascha Polanco (In the Heights, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Tiffany Clearly and Sophia Tatum (F9: The Fast Sage, Riverdale-TV) as Sil; the fundamentals of this film were good, but they did not get freshened up to provide a better entertainment experience. I thought Sly did a particularly respectable job of acting. The script starts out trying to draw in the viewer; what gets me immediately is when a person is being picked on. However, the script rolled out in a predictable, generic way. Except for one plot twist, there was nothing else that was done in a new fresh way that could have surprised me. Despite these flaws, I was still able to pay attention for the most part due to the steady pace. If you have a couple of hours to kill and want something light to watch, then this movie can fit the bill. There were several violent, bloody scenes.
2 ½ stars
BECAUSE I DID NOT WANT HIM for my partner was the reason, I was sure, I wound up assigned to him by the professor. Maybe the teacher was able to pick up the negative vibes I had toward this student, who I found to be loud and obnoxious. During lectures, this student would make snide or rude comments in a voice only loud enough for the students who were around him. Inevitability, there would be a student who would have to stifle their laughter from the comment, making it hard for the rest of us to hear the teacher. It was not like I was so strait-laced and proper, but this was an ongoing thing that got annoying to me after the first few times. When the professor paired us together for the assignment, I detected a bit of hesitancy on this classmate’s part. We never had any type of interaction; he was just as perplexed about me being selected as his partner. I gathered my belongings and changed seats with the person sitting next to him. The subject of this class was sociology; so, I assumed the professor was making these moves to prove some type of point about society. I only hoped this was going to be a one-time event because I was already missing the comfort of my former seat. AFTER THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINED THE ASSIGNMENT, the two of us spoke for the first time. I offered my take on what we needed to get to the next step. As I spoke, I noticed on the inside cover of his notebook was the logo for one of my favorite music bands. I asked him if he had drawn it and he said yes. It turned out he was a fan of the band as well. When I mentioned I thought the drawing of the logo was perfect, he smiled then flipped through some more pages to reveal other band logos he had drawn. Each of them was so precise and accurate that I could not help myself from telling him about going to a couple of those bands’ concerts. I could tell by his facial expression, he was surprised to hear how much I was into music; funny, I was thinking the same thing about him. We wound up in this detailed discussion of the various bands’ song choices, momentarily forgetting about the actual task at hand. I would have never guessed we would have bonded over music. For the rest of the semester, whenever there was an opportunity, we would sit together. The cliché, “Never judge a book by its cover” can be applied here as well as in this animated, action comedy. FORCED BY AN EVIL LORD TO defend a town from a brutal villain, a hound quickly discovers the citizens hate him simply because he is a dog. The townsfolk are all cats. With Michael Cera (Molly’s Game, Gloria Bell) voicing Hank, Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Big Game) voicing Jimbo, Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying, Ghost Town) voicing Ika Chu, relative newcomer Kylie Kuloka voicing Emiko and Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs) voicing The Shogun; this movie was an odd mix. The humor went from the level of young kids to adults; the idea of the story was fun, but it came across like a Kung Fu Panda wannabe with Blazing Saddles by Mel Brooks. The animation was well done and there were pieces of dialog I enjoyed. Underlying all of this was the message behind the story, which I thought was admirable. There also was an easy predictability to the script that kept a steady pace of action and banter going all the time. If I had not connected to the message, I do not think I would have stayed engaged with this picture. There was a short extra scene after the ending credits.
2 ¼ stars
BY THE WAY THEY RESPONDED TO my question, I could tell there was something more they were not telling me. I was at a lunchtime event, where I met this couple. We were talking about the trips we have taken outside of our state, when they mentioned they recently had visited Washington, D.C. When I asked what sights they got to see, they said very few because they were there to visit their son. Being curious, I asked why their son was in DC; they replied he worked for the government. Since I knew several government workers out there, and being an inquisitive type of guy, I asked which agency. They told me he worked somewhere in the operations department. As far as I knew, there was no such department. Granted, most departments, I am sure, had staff that were responsible for the internal procedures of the department; but there was not a specific government department devoted to operations. I could see the husband was fidgeting with his napkin, while his wife avoided making direct eye contact with me. Though I was more curious now, I knew better than to pushback against two people that I had just met for the first time. LATER IN THE DAY, WHEN MY mind circled back to the exchange I had with that couple, it dawned on me that I encountered the same type of scenario a couple of times before; however, it was the parent who had a mysterious job. I had one friend whose dad was rarely seen in the neighborhood. When he was spotted, he was always dressed in a suit, hat and carrying a black briefcase. It did not matter if it was a weekday or weekend; he was always wearing the same type of clothing. My friend told me his dad said he worked in international trading, but my friend did not believe it. The reason being his dad sometimes left in the middle of the night with his briefcase and hat in tow, along with other times when he had to “go to the office” on a Saturday or Sunday. The two of us wished we knew how to drive so we could follow and see where his dad was going. One time we snuck upstairs to the dad’s office to see what we could find out; but the desk was locked as well as the briefcase that sat on top of it. We never found out, or at least I never found out about the father’s profession. I wondered how my friend would have been if he had known what his dad did for work; would it have scared or excited him. While watching the daughter in this action, comedy fantasy; I wondered about the same thing. NOT PULLING IN ENOUGH MONEY FROM his pool cleaning business, a divorced dad supplemented his income with a second, more lucrative profession. The only problem was that it could kill him. With Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy, Horrible Bosses franchises) as Bud Jablonski, Dave Franco (The Disaster Artist, 6 Underground) as Seth, Natasha Liu Bordizzo (Crazy About You, Hotel Mumbai) as Heather, Meagan Good (Think Like a Man, Brick) as Jocelyn Jablonski and Karla Souza (We are the Nobles, How to Get Away with Murder-TV) as Audrey San Fernando; this story set in the San Fernando Valley had several fun moments provided predominantly by Dave and Jamie. I thought they worked well together; however, the script took the bite out of the story. It was predictable all the way through and never went over the top with emotions, humor, or fun. However, it did exceed with blood and violence. Through most of this film, I felt as if it was created more from a paint by number point of view; in other words, where the writers looked at what they perceived to make a successful film and randomly pulled it into their story, whether it made sense or not. Overall, this movie was a light distraction.
THROUGHOUT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, I ONLY SAW my best friend’s father twice. I never knew what he did for a living, I just remembered he was wearing a tie and hat the two times I saw him. I do not know why I remember that fact; maybe because I do not recall seeing any other father wearing a hat, not including the hats one only wore in winter. Though come to think of it, I did not see that many fathers of schoolmates; the majority were the ones that lived on our block. There was one father that said he was a college professor, but my friends and I never believed him. He was quite different; his reactions to things like his son hitting a baseball or his daughter performing ballet were odd in my opinion. I did not know the word back then; but thinking about him now, I can say he always had this pensive look on his face, as he studied his children’s playing. It was as if he were studying every movement his child did, looking for a flaw or a better way they could have done something. He had these thick round glasses that made him look like some type of inspector; at least that is what some of us thought. AS FOR MY FRIEND, HE DID not seem to mind his father’s absence from the various school functions where parents were invited to participate. It was not uncommon for a student to have only one parent show up to school events. I always found it curious that the school would plan events during the school day, asking for our parents to attend when I knew many of them were working. It seemed odd to me, like the school was just being polite in inviting parents, knowing full well they would not be able to attend because of their job. The parents that intrigued me the most were the ones who had to travel for business. This was a foreign concept in my awareness. Where were these parents flying and why couldn’t they just make contact by phone, were a couple of things I wondered. There was one dad whose daughter could not tell us what he did for a living. He happened to be built like an athlete with defined muscles across his tall frame. I used to imagine him being in the CIA or FBI; he just had the look of an agent with his dark sunglasses. If I had seen this movie back when I was a kid, I could see me wondering about that father. AFTER SCHOOL, A GROUP OF FRIENDS met up with their friend, who was at his dad’s house. While hanging out, they discover a hidden location underneath the house, just before a group of villains arrive. With Owen Wilson (Marry Me, No Escape) as Jack, Michael Pena (Fantasy Island, 12 Strong) as Argon, Walker Scobell (The Adam Project) as Charlie, Jesse Williams (The Cabin in the Woods, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Irons and Keith L. Williams (Good Boys, The Last Man on Earth-TV) as Berger; this action, adventure comedy had the cast to elevate the story. However, the script was too generic and pedestrian. I think part of the issue was the writers did not know what group to market for, kids or tweens. The humor was lacking to the point I was able to see what the punchline would be before it happened. Too bad because I thought Walker did an admirable job in his role. Now I have said this before, but if there is going to be a villain, they really need to be a “bad” person. The villain in this movie was too much like a cartoon character. I have a feeling this film will have many absent viewers. There was an extra scene early in the ending credits.
1 ¾ stars
I DID NOT THINK IT WAS an extraordinary feat; one of the fastest runners in our class was a girl. Her speed was impressive but the fact she was a girl was not a big deal to me. Maybe because I grew up with strong females, I did not put much stock in comparing the differences between boys and girls. The way I looked at it was this: someone is going to be the smartest, fastest, friendliest, most creative, and best musician in class; none of these attributes are aligned with one sex over the other. I just remember I never wanted to play tag with that speedy girl because she could quickly tag out most of us. It is funny, it was not until I started delving into science and physiology classes where I learned between the sexes, men tend to have more upper body strength, and women usually have more lower body strength. There was a girl in one of my classes who was one of the toughest students in our class; she had no trouble with her upper body strength. In fact, I do not recall any boys getting in a fight with her because they were all afraid, they could lose their status if the student body witnessed them being beaten up by a girl. THE REASON I AM MENTIONING THIS is because it seems to me every announcement I read or hear about these days tends to include, “she is the first woman” or “he is the first ethnic man” and so on. Do not get me wrong, I understand many positions/companies did not have progressive policies in place to promote various minorities into the bigger roles. It is a great statement to make; but one of my concerns is the chance companies are just using it as a marketing ploy. They put someone in an authoritarian position, who has been disadvantaged, and tout them to the world as if they are saying, “Look who we promote.” But then there are no others to follow in that person’s footsteps; the company policy or can I say prejudices, never change. I wish we lived in a world where we did not need to announce such things because it is not an unusual circumstance. Employees get promoted based on their abilities, end of story. Their skin color, religion, ethnic background has no bearing on them getting a better job. I really wish we could get to such a point, but I understand the world still needs some work to do. This is not a new phenomenon, but I was thrilled to see what took place in this action prequel. HER INSTINCTS SERVED HER WELL AND she was convinced there was something hunting her tribe. The only way she could prove it was to get evidence and show the villagers. With Amber Midthunder (Hell or High Water, Legion-TV) as Naru, newcomer Dakota Deavers as Taabe, Dane DiLiegro (American Horror Stories-TV, Sweet Home-TV) as Predator, relative newcomer Stormee Kipp as Wasape and Michelle Thrush (Pathfinder, Blackstone-TV) as Aruka; this dramatic adventure film took me off guard and surprised me. I thought the writers did a wonderful job of weaving the story within the Native American narrative. The scenery was beautiful, and I thought Amber was outstanding. Despite the several scenes with blood and violence, I loved this movie. For it being a prequel, it certainly can stand alone where I do not think the previous films need to be seen. Yes, they could be a reference for the viewer, but this film was so beautifully written and acted that I do not think it would be an issue. This picture had a solid story, great acting and in its own way showed what can get accomplished when one has the perfect individual for the task.
3 ½ stars
IT IS AN UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATION FOR me whenever I am attending a dinner party, where I am not familiar to the host. It occurs when I am going as someone’s guest or attending a family function, where different people are contributing to the meal. I admit I am a fussy eater; add to that, I also am a visual and texture eater. If something does not look appealing to me then I am not interested in tasting it. I know these are my quirks; I do not pretend to hide or be embarrassed by them. However, I do not expect anyone to conform to my eating habits. This is why I get uncomfortable when going to dinner at someone’s house who is not familiar with me. My friends are thoughtful and usually will tell the host I do not eat onions or red meat; and I am appreciative of their actions. Many a times, the host will adjust their menu to accommodate me; but this is the part that makes me uncomfortable. I do not want them to change what they planned; I can eat around anything placed on a dinner table. There have been get togethers where the host has made two of the same dishes, one with onions and the other without. I do not want them to do such a thing; I can pick out the onions or just not put any of it on my dish, no big deal. MY NOT WISHING TO CHANGE SOMEONE to fit my needs is a belief that I had to grow into; it was not something that came organically. I used to be one of those individuals who readily told people what they should do. I would see or listen to a person dealing with a problem and I would immediately tell them what they needed to do, whether they asked for my advice or not, it did not matter. Through a time of self-discovery and awareness, I realized it was part of my control issues. If someone asked me for my advice, it was okay to offer it; but not to swoop in and take on their issues. My eyes were opened to the point I could recognize when others were trying to “take charge” or convince someone to do something differently. I know this is my opinion, but I find those individuals who preach and try to convert people are no different than me trying to change a friend’s mind to do something I like to do. Just because, let us say, I like to skydive does not mean you have to do it now. However, in this action, comedy thriller it was amusing to see how the main character tried convincing people to his way of thinking. HOPING THE JOB WOULD BE EASY and peaceful, an assassin has a tough time staying calm when he is stuck on a high-speed passenger train in Japan with other assassins. With Brad Pitt (The Lost City, By the Sea) as Ladybug, Joey King (The Conjuring, The In Between) as Prince, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals, Kick-Ass franchise) as Tangerine, Brian Tyree Henry (Widows, Hotel Artemis) as Lemon and Andrew Koji (Snake Eyes, Warrior-TV) as Kimura; I felt the movie was made more for the cast than the viewer. It was obvious the cast was having fun with their characters. Joey stood out for me with her acting ability. There was a lot of violence and blood throughout the film; but at least the fight scenes were well done, and I enjoyed the witty dialog. The script was uneven, eventually losing steam as it headed towards the end, which was a jumble. There was no character development; and, in this case, I was okay with it. I felt the whole story was put together like a board game and the characters were just game pieces. Pretty much, this type of story has been done before and done better; however, it was still fun to watch the craziness that all took place on a bullet train.
2 ½ stars
THOUGH I HAD MISGIVINGS, I AGREED to join my friend for dinner at a recently new, popular restaurant in the city. I wanted to visit with him but was hoping we could just hang out at a local place that I knew had good food. He considered himself a “foodie” who enjoys trying the newest trendy restaurants; I on the other hand think of myself as a low rent eater who enjoys eating at diners and independent, family-owned places. There is a place near my home where the same family has owned and ran this restaurant since the 1960s. They serve simple entrees like turkey club sandwiches, tuna melts and burgers, each served with great French fries. And what I like about this place is the fact they serve generous portions, and the food is fresh and good. I am quite certain my friend would turn his nose up at the place just by its looks. The name of the place is written in red block letters on a square, plastic sign that hangs above the front door. Because decades have passed, the décor now is considered “kitschy” or retro. Realizing I could not dress in my usual relaxed weekend outfit, I asked if we could meet for an early dinner. I was hoping we could beat the crowds and if I were still hungry after eating, I could stop for something on the way home. AS I WALKED IN THE RESTAURANT, I was met by an employee dressed in black slacks and a white, long-sleeved shirt. Asked for the name of the reservations, I gave my friend’s name. The employee confirmed the name on her tablet then directed me to my friend who was already seated. The place was done in calm, subdued colors of blues and greens with a hint of gold. On the table was a small plate that had 2 square dinner rolls with a ribbon of oil circling them. A small pile of grated cheese was directly in the center; it looked like the white ashes from a funeral pyre. Throughout the evening while we conversed, several plates of varying sizes were brought and taken from our table. The salad took all of 4-5 bites to complete with some special dressing that had a lemon undertone to it. I missed having a good-sized salad. The main course for me was a boneless chicken breast; I had to ask them to omit the bacon, the sauce, the onions, and the peppercorn. Everything was ala carte, so I ordered crispy fingerling potatoes. I had never seen such a small chicken breast. When the bill came, I was stunned. We agreed to split the bill; it cost us $100.00 each. All this money which I would normally never spend at a restaurant, and I was still hungry. I felt the same way about this film; all the money the studio must have spent, and I was still wanting more by the end. A SKILLED CIA OPERATIVE UNCOVERS DAMAGING information on a job which sets in motion a manhunt to apprehend him, no matter the price. With Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2046, The Nice Guys) as Six, Chris Evans (Gifted, Avengers franchise) as Lloyd Hansen, Ana de Armas (Knives Out, No Time to Die) as Dani Miranda, Billy Bob Thornton (A Million Little Pieces, Bad Santa franchise) as Fitzroy and Jessica Henwick (Love and Monsters, Underwater) as Suzanne Brewer; this action thriller overflowed with fight and action scenes. It turns out they were necessary to cover up the poorly written script. With such a capable cast, this movie could have been terrific; but it never reached that level. I will say it was mindless fun, if one is in the mood for people being beaten up and things blowing apart. The fight scenes were well orchestrated, and I liked the various settings. By the end of the picture, I felt I had seen a compilation of scenes from previously, better done, spy action films. It just goes to show you spending a lot of money does not mean you will get a great, satisfying product.
2 ½ stars
IT IS OKAY TO ACT SILLY sometimes, but there is a time and place for it. I remember the silly stuff I used to do with my friends when we were kids, like making funny noises in inappropriate surroundings. Just recently a friend and I were walking down the sidewalk in a vacation spot. A family of four was sitting on a bench ahead of us. As we neared, their 8–10-year-old girl ran up to my friend, pointed to the ground and said, “Sir, you dropped your pocket.” I immediately caught on that it was a joke, but my friend did not and asked her what dropped as he looked to the ground. Her family sat there and laughed as I told my friend to keep walking, it was a joke. Now if it had just been this girl and her friends, I could understand the appeal of playing a joke on a stranger; however, with her parents sitting there I had to wonder what they were thinking? Did they think it was a good thing to teach their kid to go up to strangers, to play a joke on them? In this day and age? If I had tried that at her age with my family around me, it would have been the last time I ever did it. WHERE ONE MAY EXPECT KIDS TO be silly, when an adult does it, it can be a surprise—hopefully in a fun way, but not always. I had a couple of older relatives who were always doing silly things to amuse the nieces and nephews. There was a family friend who was a doctor who tried to be funny in the same way; however, their version of humor did not match up as well. Though, they never stopped trying. When someone would ask them for medical advice, they would always make light of the situation. For example, if someone asked them about one of their limbs, they would examine the leg or arm carefully then tell them it would have to be amputated. Or they might be flippant with their advice to the point of disregarding the person’s concerns. Their silliness was always at the forefront to the point of frustration for those around them. I could understand their frustration since I had a friend who would never give a straight answer to any question posed to them. It would get to the point where I stopped caring what they had to say, which I know sounds bad; however, a constant barrage of silly jokes gets old quickly. Sadly, I was feeling the same way about this action, adventure comedy. WHEN AN EVIL PRESCENCE BEGINS TO seek out and kill every god, it would force Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth (12 Strong, Men in Black: International), to team up with someone from his past. With Natalie Portman (Lucy in the Sky, Jane Got a Gun) as Jane Foster, Christian Bale (The Big Short, Ford v Ferrari) as Gorr, Tessa Thompson (Passing, Creed franchise) as King Valkyrie and Russell Crowe (The Nice Guys, Winter’s Tale) as Zeus; this latest installment of the film franchise was the weakest. The humor in most Marvel films has a certain layer of sophistication that is fun for all age levels. There also is room for emotional growth in between the humor. With this film, there was too much silliness that chipped away at the heroics. It was not until close to the end where things started to gel for me. The acting would have been better if they had a better script; example being Russell Crowe’s character. I thought his scenes were ridiculous. And where I think Christian is an excellent actor, in this picture I thought he was a poor version of Lord Voldemort. I prefer not sitting and watching a movie while each joke feels as if it is being beaten into my head. At least the special effects and soundtrack were good. There were two extra scenes during the middle and end of the credits.
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.
I COULD NOT IMAGINE WHAT THE COMPANY did to him that would make him seek revenge. Most of my interactions with him were pleasant and non-confrontational; he was a salesperson after all. If I were to base my opinion on material things, I would say he was making a good living selling the company’s products. He was always fashionably dressed; I cannot recall him ever wearing anything that appeared old or worn. Both his and his wife’s cars were always new and sporty; I think he traded in his cars every other year. Also, I remember him showing me vacation pictures from time to time. So yes, I believed he was successful at his job. There was no indication of his scheming to get back at the company. I did not learn of his misdeeds until after he was fired. If there were any other actions brought against him, I was not aware. It turns out he was either running a clever ruse or the company’s protocols left much to be desired. It turns out he was having the company set up what they believed were new accounts. However, most of them were friends/acquaintances of his or post office boxes he was setting up himself. His “customer” orders were turned in after he changed the prices on the products, getting the items below cost. Once the product shipped, he would arrange to receive them at these various locations. Since all his orders were marked prepaid, he would turn in cash for them. UNBEKNOWNST TO THE COMPANY, HE WAS renting storage space at various locations. The way I heard how the story went was a fellow employee found a posting on a social media site that showed one of our products. After investigating further, this employee discovered our products were being sold for a cheaper price than what we could sell them for. Essentially, he was stealing from the company by lowering the cost of all the products he was buying from us under an alias, then putting them up for sale on several internet sites. Every sale had a huge markup which he pocketed for himself. I also heard he tried stealing a customer master list from us, but he was caught with it and tried making excuses on why he wanted to take it home. As I mentioned earlier, if the company pressed charges against him, I was not told. All I knew is he had damaged the company’s name by stealing from them. Oh, and I heard once he sold the product, he was never available to offer any type of customer service to his buyers. Too bad I could not find out his reasons as clearly as the ones that were laid out in this action, adventure film. A VIKING PRINCE SPENDS YEARS PREPARING to avenge his father’s death that he witnessed as a young boy. His rage is what kept him warm. With Alexander Skarsgard (The Kill Team, The Hummingbird Project) as Amleth, Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos, The Prom) as Queen Gudrun, Claes Bang (The Square, The Last Vermeer) as Fjolnir the Brotherless, Ethan Hawke (Tesla, The Kid) as King Aurvandil War-Raven and Anya Taylor-Joy (The New Mutants, The Queen’s Gambit-TV) as Olga of the Birch Forest; this drama was beautiful to watch despite all the blood and violence. I thought the cast was excellent and well suited to their roles; however, I could not figure out what this film wanted to be. It was part fantasy, part Game of Thrones and part folklore; it was distracting. The story was not that unusual. If it were not for the cast and filming, I would have been bored and uncomfortable having to sit through all the cringe-worthy scenes. In my opinion, the script needed to be more refined in its ability to tell an exciting, dramatic story. Using this film as a reference point, the couple of times where I was revengeful were nothing compared to the intensity displayed in this picture.
2 ½ stars