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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 Northman

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 

Flash Movie Review: Jurassic World Dominion

THERE NEVER WAS A TIME WHEN the shop’s floor was clean of chicken feathers. A relative worked at a butcher’s shop not too far from our home. I was young enough where I needed adult supervision still, not old enough to go by myself. The feathers were mostly whitish in color, covering most of the floor; it looked like it was snow melting after a couple of days of warmer weather. I would walk around, shuffling my feet, to stir up the feathers so they would float in the air for a moment like dust on a windy day, before gliding back onto the floor. The sound of clucking chickens was constant, coming beyond the swinging doors behind the counter. I was too young to understand these live chickens would soon be killed to become someone’s meal. At that age, I must have thought they were being kept as pets. There were several men all dressed in long, white aprons that stood behind the glass counters to take customers’ food orders. Besides the chicken feathers, my other strong memory is the different pieces of equipment these men would use to fill orders. Blocks of meat would be pushed through one hole and come out like thick strings in an opposite opening. It was the oddest thing for me to watch, yet I would be mesmerized by the different shapes and sizes of things being wrapped in some type of waxy, white paper that came off big rolls at each carving table.      AS I WAS GROWING UP, IT did not take long for me to realize that every item in that shop came from a live animal. When I was a small child, I did not make the connection that animals were a food source; in my mind they were pets. But after this new realization, I stopped going to that butcher shop. I did not want to see the process from live to grocery bag. To this day I do not eat red meat; the idea of it has never sat right with me. With that being said, I can appreciate the fact that the items in the butcher shop were as fresh as one could get compared to most people’s way of shopping today. When I see a package that mentions GMO (genetically modified organism), I get scared. The idea of eating something that has been genetically altered frightens me. Maybe it is my ignorance on the subject, but I wonder how the human body will manage something that was tweaked, for whatever reason, to produce a stronger or disease resistant product. What then does the body do with that when it is consumed? Before you answer that, maybe you should see what takes place in this action, adventure sequel.      WITH DINOSAURS NOW LIVING OUT IN the open among humans, the standard list of animals on the food chain is in a bad need of an update. With Chris Pratt (The Tomorrow War, The Kid) as Owen Grady, Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help, Rocketman) as Claire Dearing, Laura Dern (Marriage Story, Little Women) as Ellie Sattler, Sam Neill (Ride Like a Girl, Blackbird) as Alan Grant and Jeff Goldblum (The Mountain, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Ian Malcom; this science fiction film had excellent special effects and chase scenes. It was enjoyable to see the blending of the original cast with the rebooted one; however, past that, this movie lacked the exhilarating fun found in the first picture of this franchise. The script was a mixture of story lines, none that really did a decent job of telling a good story. Some of the humor and references made to the earlier films were amusing, but I only wished the writers could have written a better, evil character in a thrilling setting. Instead of going out with a big bang, this movie was tired and bored. The dinosaurs would have been better off to have stayed extinct.

                                                           

2 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

THE SENTIMENT WAS TOUCHING; BUT unless there was follow-through, I knew the relationship would not be sustainable. We worked at the same company for several years and formed a bond early on because we were similar in so many ways, both personally and in work ethic. She had a childhood that mimicked mine and I think that is what cemented our relationship the most; we reacted the same to the situations that came up in the office. When she told me she was leaving the company I was both sad and glad. I would miss her, but I was happy she found a job that paid her better. On her last day she came into my office to say goodbye and let me know we will still be friends, that our work time did not define our friendship. We agreed we would stay connected and get together. She left on a Friday and when I came back to the office on Monday, it did not take long for me to miss her. With our time together, we came to a point in our work relationship where we did not have to explain what we were doing; we already knew how the other would manage the situation as it revealed itself.      FOR SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER SHE LEFT the company, we stayed in touch via text and phone calls. I would keep her abreast with any unusual activities that arose among the employees she knew. We agreed to meet for lunch a couple of times and had an enjoyable time sitting and talking to each other. However, as time went on our times in getting together were growing further and further apart. We texted more than called each other and even the texts started to get fewer. I knew if we did not incorporate some type of activities into our relationship besides just sitting and eating, there would be fewer and fewer things to talk about. I mean how much does it really matter to hear about an employee’s exploits at the office after being away for so long? Mostly these days our friendship is limited to sending and receiving birthday and holiday cards. It is an odd situation but not an unfamiliar one to me. You grow together while at the same company, but once one leaves the relationship does not stay the same. It is funny; I feel the same about this prequel franchise to the Harry Potter films. I have a stronger connection to the Hogwarts series than the movies I have seen so far for this current franchise.      WITH AN ELECTION COMING UP PROFESSOR Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law (The Nest, Black Sea), is aware one wizard is trying to stack the deck in their favor. However, the professor cannot act against him directly due to a magical pact created a long time ago. With Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl, The Theory of Everything) as Newt Scamander, Ezra Miller (Madame Bovary, Justice League) as Credence Barebone, Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury, In Like Flynn) as Jacob Kowalski and Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round, Doctor Strange) as Gellert Grindlewald; this action, adventure fantasy left me with a bland feeling. I felt the drama was usurped by the action. Now there were parts of this movie that were exciting and magical, however, the script felt more one note than incorporating some highs and lows into the story. I normally enjoy Mads’ performances but, in this film, I did not think he was utilized fully for his character. A base comment for this picture would be to say it was lackluster; without the sparkle of wonderment, the magic and creativity did not pop like they did in the Harry Potter films. It almost felt as if the writers and studio were following a set game plan to produce this film. As I mentioned earlier, unless there is interest on both sides, this franchise is destined not to succeed.                                                                

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Black Crab

IT WAS A TERRIBLE STORM WITH high winds and snow piling up quickly. I remember I stayed home because there was no way I wanted to venture out into the cold, let alone with a blizzard taking place. A friend of mine who I had talked with earlier in the day was driving out to visit his son who was in college, out of state. I mentioned how the weather was not going to let up according to the latest news reports, but he insisted he had to see his son who was performing in the school’s play. Asking if there were multiple performances, my friend said this was the only performance and he had to be there for it. I asked him why; what would be the harm if he missed this one performance; his son would surely understand based on the horrible weather, I added. My friend said he had never missed one of his son’s performances and he was not going to let that happen now, especially since his son was getting close to graduating. He told me how important it was to him, to be there and support his son who was working on attaining his dream. I could not fault him on being such a loving and supportive parent; that he was willing to take such a risk in this awful storm just to be there for his child. It was quite admirable.      A SHORT TIME LATER, AN ACQUAITANCE of mine was telling me what she was planning for her son’s high school graduation. Because the school wanted to maintain their safety precautions, it decided it would hold the big celebratory senior dance at the school. According to her, many of the students were disappointed they were not going to a “fancy” location. The mother felt sad for her son so decided to get herself on the decorations committee. I was stunned when she told me about her ideas for the dance; she was going to decorate/build a setting that would look like the courtyard of a Spanish or Mexican house. She wanted some type of fountain in the center, even if it turned out to be the punchbowl, with Spanish moss and twinkling lights hanging from the ceiling and walls. Using large picture frames, she thought about inserting class photos or scenic ones depicting exotic locations. Listening to her descriptions, I could see it in my head. When I asked her if she had enough free time, she said because of her job she would have to do the bulk of the work at night and weekends. I found it touching that she was willing to sacrifice most of her free time to provide a special setting for her son and his graduating class. Here are two parents who would do anything for their child and now I find the mother in this action, adventure drama doing everything she can for her child.      HOPING TO SEE HER MISSING DAUGHTER, a soldier agreed to participate in a life-threatening mission. All she would need to do is skate across a frozen lake. With Noomi Rapace (The Secrets We Keep, Angel of Mine) as Caroline Edh, Jakob Oftebro (Kon-Tiki, Agent Hamilton-TV) as Nylund, Dar Salim (The Devil’s Double, Game of Thrones-TV) as Malik and Aliette Opheim (The Deposit, Alone in Space) as Forsberg; I found the story curiously intriguing. Noomi was excellent and I think that was a large part why I stayed engaged with this movie. The idea behind the story was new and different, which grabbed me quickly. On the other hand, the execution of it was typical. There was a bit unevenness in the directing, along with some predictability; however, I stayed interested in the story because of the acting and variety of tense scenes. If nothing else, this movie is watchable just to see what a mother would do for her child.

2 ¼ 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: The Bad Guys

IT WAS A STORY I HAD seen done in the movies over and over, but now I was witnessing it firsthand. I must tell you it is a classic story and despite being so familiar with how it plays out, I still enjoyed watching the journey of discovery my friend experienced. It all started when she went to a club with a few of her friends. While at the club one of her friends bumped into a friend of theirs, who came to the club with a couple of their friends. Introductions were made and the two separate sets hung out together by the bar. The way she described it to me, her friends and the other friends were breaking off into separate conversations, with her in the middle. When she participated in the conversation with the group to her left, she missed what was taking place to her right; that is, until someone from that group got her attention to ask her opinion. At some point a guy from the other set of friends had gone to the restroom and when he returned, he wound up standing next to her. The two of them found themselves having their own conversation, discovering they both worked in the same industry. The evening ended, but not without invites for a party that was taking place the following weekend.      AS MY FRIEND TELLS IT, SHE was not attracted to the guy she wound up talking to for part of the evening. As she described it, “he was too crazy for her,” whatever that meant. However, with coaxing from her friends she went to the party. This guy was there and her first impression of him stuck; he seemed like a party animal who was going from one room to another, acting out with his celebrity impressions and silly antics. She did not care for him at all. My friend did not stay long and went home early. The following week, the guy called her at work on the premise of it being work related. He needed a credit reference on their mutual customer and for the weeks following their calls at work became more frequent and longer, always starting out with a business question. She learned a lot about him, finding a side of him that he kept hidden out in public. After covering all the initial topics that two recently introduced people discuss, their conversations were being held on a deeper level. Her first impression of him was melting away as the guy’s real personality was emerging. They decided to go on a date. Their first date led to a second and a third and before you knew it, they became a couple. I enjoyed watching their story unfold, just like I enjoyed watching this animated movie that dealt with first impressions.      TO AVOID JAIL, A BAND OF criminals must go through a rehabilitation program to prove to the city they can be model citizens despite how they look. Believing they could fool everyone; the group discovers something they were not expecting. With Sam Rockwell (Richard Jewell, Mr. Right) voicing Wolf, Marc Maron (Respect, Glow-TV) voicing Snake, Awkwafina (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, The Farewell) voicing Tarantula, Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Machine franchise, Pineapple Express) voicing Shark and Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, In the Heights) voicing Piranha; this adventure comedy conveyed a wonderful message. I thought the script was excellent with its smattering of humor, poignancy, and excitement. The animation was wonderful, and I enjoyed the way the actors melded themselves into their characters. With the different elements, the director still created a solid, even paced film that devoted the right amount of time to each scene. I was surprised how good this picture was put together and as I said, I loved the message it laid out for the viewers. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits.                  

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, I was flattered and getting a bit smitten from all the attention. We had met at a bakery café. We both ordered the same thing, a double chocolate dessert. After the initial introductions, the conversation settled into an easy flow of comments, thoughts, and opinions. I was impressed by the fact they had no issue disagreeing with a couple of my opinions; it showed me they had strength in their convictions. In a previous relationship, whatever opinion I had about a topic the person quickly would form the same opinion. It was rare for them to disagree with me, and it used to drive me crazy. I wondered how someone could change their opinion so easily without even letting me express the reasons for having my opinion. Meeting someone who was not afraid to express their opinions and feelings was refreshing to me. After we finished our desserts, neither one of us made a move to end the date. We just continued to sit and talk about a variety of subjects. Finally, I had to be the one to say my goodbyes due to my schedule. It was decided we would get together for a full meal next time. I felt good about our meeting and decided to reach out in a day or two to set up another date.      OUR SECOND DATE WAS EVEN BETTER than the first; it was dinner and a movie. A few days after it, I was leaving for work and found a box sitting on my front porch. They had signed their name on it with a message that said, “Thought you would like these fresh out of the oven.” I brought the box inside and opened it. Inside sat a bakery box of chocolate chip cookies, my favorite. I was both surprised and touched they went out of their way to drop off a box of cookies on the way to their office. I was getting bowled over with the attention and we soon fell into a dating relationship. At some point, I was asked to attend a family event. Though feeling a little apprehensive, I agreed to accompany them. During the event, I was introduced to a man who was their former boyfriend. Without knowing their history together, I was unsure of how to act; however, I remained cool about it. On the drive to drop them off at their home, we talked about it briefly and I felt relieved. It was short-lived because the very next day I received a call from them to tell me they decided they were going back to their old boyfriend to give it one more try. I had to wonder if my sole purpose was to be brought to the family event, to be used as a catalyst to restart their relationship. It did not feel good which will explain why I felt sympathy for one of the main characters in this animated action adventure.      BEING LEFT ALONE AT HOME FOR the first time showed Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz (Night School, The Afterparty-TV), he could be trustworthy. Unfortunately, it was short-lived when the evil Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey (Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Dumb and Dumber franchise), made a house call. With James Marsden (Shock and Awe, Accidental Love) as Tom Wachowski, Tika Sumpter (The Old Man and the Gun, Ride Along franchise) as Maddie Wachowski and Idris Elba (Concrete Cowboy, The Harder They Fall) voicing Kunckles; this sequel provided the same level of entertainment as the first film had done. Having never played the videogame this film franchise was based on, I might have missed a few inside references. However, I do not think it mattered. The action scenes were fun, and I thought Jim Carrey was exceptional good with his character. His performance almost appeared as if it was adlibbed, it was so zany. Also, I thought Idris Elba did some of the best voice work I had ever heard on film. On the downside, there were several scenes that did not move me much, having found them to be bland. This could have been due to the similarities between both movies. Nonetheless, I did not feel used, that the movie studio did try to elevate the story so that the franchise could continue to survive. Proof being, there was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.

2 ½ 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: Everything Everywhere All at Once

I HAD NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE it; a father lifting a car. It was a news clip being shown on TV that I had seen decades ago; but it has always stayed with me. I was in elementary school when I saw this man racing over to the car that accidently ran over his son. He got up to the rear bumper on the passenger side, squatted down, grabbed the underside with both hands and strained as he tried to lift the car high enough to free his son’s leg. A woman, maybe the boy’s mother, came into view and grabbed the boy from underneath his arms. I swear I saw it with my own eyes; the car’s wheel barely rose, but it provided enough wiggle room for the woman to pull the young boy away. The whole scene amazed me as I focused on the man, to see if I could figure out his secret power on how he was able to lift an automobile off the ground. What did the man tap into that gave him superstrength, was he a weightlifter, did he have some special power; these were the things I was thinking about, hoping I could learn and gain such a superpower.      THAT EPISODE WAS A HUGE CATALYST for my imagination to take off so I could reimagine myself in different roles. I would watch sporting events in a new light. Seeing the ice-skating competitions, I reimagined myself as a premier ice skater who could do a series of jumps, one after another after another without ever falling on the ice. Or I would now watch television game shows and see myself as a contestant who was getting all the right answers or moves. And the most important aspect of my new way of thinking was the ability to cope a little better with the bullying I started experiencing. After an episode of abuse, I would replay the event in my mind but with me being a superhero who could grab the perpetrator, spin him over my head then release him at high speed, so I could watch him sail over the trees, far away from me. Playing out this type of scenario had the ability to calm me down faster than any other method. If an incident took place during gym period, I would imagine different ways to attack the bully with the various sports equipment in the gymnasium or swimming pool. I know this may sound dark, but it was the only defense I had to help me get through these times; being able to tap into a different version of myself, just like some of the characters in this action, adventure comedy.      HER LIVELIHOOD TEETERING ON BANKRUPTCY, HER husband unhappy and a demanding father was more than what Evelyn Wang, played by Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), thought she could handle. That was until she began to have visions of a different Evelyn. With Stephanie Hsu (The Path-TV, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel-TV) as Joy Wang, Ke Huy Quan (The Goonies, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) as Waymond Wang, James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China, R.I.P.D.) as Gong Gong and Jamie Lee Curtis (Knives Out, Halloween franchise) as Deirdre Beaubeirdra; for me, the saving grace of this film was Michelle and Jamie. If it wasn’t for them, I would have lost interest in the story that I did not find particularly funny or exciting. Michelle was terrific as she went through a variety of emotional versions of herself. I liked the idea of the story, but after a while it felt like the script was just repeating itself. Jamie was the funny one for me; she used a specific physical comedy I could not recall having seen before. If the script was trying to convey a satire or message, I did not receive it. 

2 ½ stars   

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