ON A WALL IN MY HOUSE, I have it covered with framed photographs of my relatives, both deceased and alive. I consider it a pictorial history of my life. Besides my baby picture, portrait of me with Zippy the chimpanzee and my college graduation; there are photographs of relatives when they were children and others with family members I have never met. In fact, I have a photograph of my great, great, great grandmother who was alive when Napoleon invaded Russia. Seeing her dressed in long heavy clothing with a scarf around her head, while sitting on a small wooden chair, I look at her face to see if I share any resemblance to her. Standing next to her is her granddaughter who I believe would be my great aunt. In her face, I can see features that I have seen on several current relatives of mine. Every time I walk by what I refer to as the photo wall, I look at least a couple of photos each time. There are so many memories of the relatives I have known since my childhood. The thing that surprises me is the fact those memories are crystal clear in my mind, yet something I did a week ago is already fading away. My recollections are so vivid that even if I did not have my photo wall, I would still have a clear focus of the events each photograph was documenting. IF I HAD THE ABILITY TO go back in time, I would absolutely want to visit my relatives who came before me. Imagine talking to that great, great, great grandmother and learning about the life she was living. I would ask her why she did not leave with her relatives who were moving to the country where I was born, the United States. Because of the times back then, I would assume she worked at home, taking care of the household. There is another relative I wish I could have met who I thought had 7 children; however, I recently found out this relative in actuality had 14 children. There are a multitude of family members living around the world that I have no knowledge about who are descendants from this one relative. Personally, I cannot envision someone having 14 children. My first thought is, “How could they afford it?” Granted, back then if you had any land, the more children you had the more help you would have in taking care of the land and crops. There are so many things I would like to learn if I could go back in time. The main character in this action, adventure fantasy wishes he could go back in time; see what he tries to do. WITH THE WORLD DISCOVERING HIS IDENTITY, there was only one thing Spiderman, played by Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z, Edge of Winter), thought could help him. However, he would need the help of Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog, The Courier). With Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Malcolm & Marie) as MJ, Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, North Woods) as Ned Leeds and Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy, Horrible Bosses franchise) as Max Dillon; this film was a stellar example of what is needed to make a great superhero movie. I was surprised by the range of emotions on display, thanks to an interesting script. I say interesting because there were so many convoluted twists that I stopped trying to keep track of what the results were for each change in the direction of the story. The imagination of the writers is what caught and kept me engaged. The acting all around was a good way above average which added to the wit and humor that was already infused into the script. In the Marvel universe of films, this one certainly deserves to be in the top ten. There were 2 extra scenes during the ending credits.
3 ½ stars
I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A CURIOUSITY with how things are created and started. When I was a young kid, I used to break apart my toys to see how they worked. One of my favorite toys that I had for an extended time finally met its demise, when I smashed the plastic globe that held these small hard plastic, colored balls that were smaller than golf balls. Attached to this globe that was on wheels was a long handle. As I rolled the toy that got the name “Popcorn Maker,” due to something in the middle popping the balls up against the inside top of the globe, the balls would be bouncing around accompanied by a popping sound. I loved this toy; but eventually my curiosity got the better of me, leading me to destroy it to see what was making the balls pop up whenever I rolled the toy around the house. It looked like a tiny, tiny bicycle wheel without the rim, just the spokes sticking out. As the wheels rolled, this device in the middle of the axel would as well. As the spokes rolled towards the top of their enclosure, they got bent back. When they got to the very top where the hole was the spoke would spring up and snap at any ball that landed in the hole. It was such a simple device, but I enjoyed playing with it nonstop. IN MY LINE OF WORK, I have had the opportunity to discover the origin of hundreds of companies and businesses. A well-known ice cream company got its start over 100 years ago when 2 brothers contracted with a farmer, the use of his 15 cows. They would turn the cows’ milk into ice cream and sell it from the back of their truck. As popularity grew, they bought a distributor to sell their product beyond their small town. I get a kick when I see their product stocked at the grocery store, knowing its humble beginnings. When I was visiting Savannah, Georgia I learned how the Girl Scouts came into being because of a woman’s idea that she wanted to encourage young girls to focus on their strengths; so, they could create opportunities for themselves. Keep in mind this was a time before woman were given the right to vote. Another time where my curiosity was piqued was when I was visiting the Iolani Palace in Hawaii. I wanted to know how it became one of the first places in the United states to be entirely wired for electricity, even before the White House. It came about when the King of Hawaii met Thomas Edison while on a world tour. So, you see, being inquisitive comes naturally to me and that is why I was interested in seeing today’s prequel film. FROM AN IDEA, A FEW INDIVIDUALS formed a group to tackle world problems. They, however, did not know the scope of the problems they would be tackling. With Ralph Fiennes (The Dig, A Bigger Splash) as Orlando Oxford, Gemma Arterton (Their Finest, The Girl with all the Gifts) as Polly, Rhys Ifans (Last Call, The Amazing Spider-Man franchise) as Grigori Rasputin, Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) as Conrad Oxford and Djimon Hounsou (Captain Marvel, Blood Diamond) as Shola; this action, adventure comedy had a broad canvas to tell its story. I am afraid the canvas was way too big, because I felt there was to much stuffed into the script that the flow of the story was scattered all over the place. I enjoyed the acting and the action scenes; however, there was such a mix of emotions that were on display that I would lose interest periodically. The historical aspect was a fine idea and one I was interested in since I enjoyed the previous films, but the script needed a major rewrite. By the time I left the theater, I had lost my interest in how the Kingsman got its start. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
ONE OF THE THINGS I MISSED most this past holiday season was spending time at the movie theater. In the past, I would spend one of my days off from work at the theater, watching as many films as I could in one day. Due to the current times with COVID and the variants, I have not been comfortable sitting in a crowded theater. In the good old days, I could sometimes catch 5 movies in one day. Maybe some of you might think that is too intense to do, but for me it was like therapy; I loved getting lost in story after story, while taking off enough time just to catch something to eat before I went back into the next showing on my list. What made this work of course was the fact the film studios always release their blockbusters around this time; so, the Academy of Motion Pictures would have the studio’s film fresh in their minds for the beginning of the voting period for an Academy Award nomination. Truth be told, even if the picture was not high on my list, if it fit into my time schedule to make the day’s viewing work, I would go see it. Surprisingly, I have only a couple of friends who could handle watching multiple movies in one day. Usually, a friend might only meet me for one or two films before they had to bow out and take a break. SINCE I CHOSE TO STAY HOME this holiday season, I wanted to experience that blockbuster type of movie experience. Luckily, I was able to rent the film I am reviewing today. It still is playing at the theater and the fact it is two hours and 43 minutes long, I could hit pause at anytime so I would not miss any scene. There is something about a James Bond movie that always has a special mystique when it premieres. In my family, a new 007 picture always meant a family outing to go see it. Even if we were on a vacation out of state, if the movie was coming out, we would find time to go see it no matter where we were at. I always experience a bit of nostalgia whenever a new Bond picture comes out because of all the memories I have of the previous pictures; especially of the ones that starred Sean Connery and Daniel Craig. With their longevity in the role, there is for me something extra special about the film when they starred in it. While I began watching this newest film in the franchise, I was feeling nostalgic and sad as the scenes unfolded. HAVING FOUND A SENSE OF PEACE in retirement, it did not last long when an old friend came calling on James Bond, played by Daniel Craig (Knives Out, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), asking him for one last favor. With Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Knives Out) as Paloma, Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Need for Speed) as Lyutsifer Safin, Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color, The Lobster) as Madeleine and Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, Powder Room) as Nomi; this action, adventure thriller came packed with its trademark big action/fight scenes. Craig’s Bond is more of a brawler, grittier 007 compared to the others. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of heart on display in this story. There were some poignant moments I felt. My big complaint was with the script and the villain. Though Rami was decent, I found the character was not menacing at all. His character was a bit bland, and the script did not help as it tried to pack too much into the story, to honor Daniel’s portrayal of Bond, hence the too long running time. Despite my misgivings, I am glad I was able to see this movie and if you are especially a fan of this franchise, you would not want to miss this one. And even if you are not a fan, based on the star rating below, you might want to see it as well.
I DO NOT KNOW WHY, BUT adventure thrills are always better when they get shared with someone. Isn’t it true? There is something about experiencing a new thrill that resonates stronger when you have someone come along for the ride. I remember when a group of us went to a new amusement park that had a water ride mimicking white water rafting. We all piled into this circular, inflated yellow raft with a type of steering apparatus in the center. When the park attendant pushed us out of the holding dock, we started out on calm waters. However, it changed rather quickly when we went down an embankment and into this pool of churning water that swept us quickly down the course a/k/a churning river. All of us held onto the steering wheel as we hooted and hollered with all the jostling and bumping the raft was enduring. Sprays of water doused us periodically, keeping us cool in the hot summer sun. As we neared the end of the ride there was a steeper “waterfall” we had to endure. It was a bit tense at first as the water under the raft picked up speed then dropped us into the waterfall, which was an adrenalin rush for me. At the bottom of the falls, the raft quietly floated over to a receiving dock area where park attendants were helping people get out of their rafts. It was one of the best water rides I experienced, and I was glad I did it with my friends. DESPITE HAVING TAKEN MANY LONG WEEKEND trips alone, when I go with friends and family members, there always seems to be an adventure we wind up sharing. Recently in San Diego a couple of us rented a pedal boat to take out into San Diego Bay. We were fine while in the marina because it was smooth and calm as we leisurely pedaled up and down rows of piers and docks. However, when we got out into the bay the water turned choppy with a stronger current underneath. We had to pedal faster as the boat bobbed up and down. Our time out there did not last long as we looked at each other at the same time and said we made it out and now it is time to go back where things are calmer. Once out of the bay we laughed about it since we had these grand plans to go down the coast to see the sights. It still was a great experience that I was glad to be sharing with someone close. I felt the main characters in this fantasy film were experiencing a similar situation to mine, which I enjoyed watching. HER FATHER BELIEVED IT WAS TRUE; so, Dr. Lily Houghton, played by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place franchise, Mary Poppins Returns), was determined to find this special plant reported only to be found deep in the Amazon jungle. With Dwayne Johnson (Red Notice, Skyscraper) as Frank Wolff, Edgar Ramirez (Deliver Us from Evil, Point Break) as Aguirre, Jack Whitehall (Mother’s Day, Clifford the Big Red Dog) as MacGregor Houghton and Jessie Plemons (The Irishman, The Power of the Dog) as Prince Joachim; this action, adventure comedy was saved by the performances of Dwayne and Emily. I would not put them in the same category as Abbott & Costello or Burns and Allen, but they certainly were a fun couple to watch on the big screen. The script was rather generic as it pulled in ideas from a variety of movie stories such as The Mummy, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pirates of the Caribbean among others. This was simply a fluffy fantasy film that was easy to view without a lot of thought to it. I am sure if the movie studio made money on this picture, they will then try to do a sequel. If they do, I just hope they get a better story line and script, besides having Emily and Dwayne starring in it.
2 ½ stars
IT STARTED WHEN I MENTIONED I had not gotten many holiday cards this year. My friend thought for a moment before she told me she believed it was the same for her. It was not like I sat and counted each card received, but since I normally display them by standing each card up on a coffee table, this year only a quarter of the table had cards. One thing my friend thought could be the reason was the fewer card shops we had around these days. I could see that being one of the reasons because I know fewer pieces of mail get handled currently. Another reason I thought of was the possibility people are simply tired, frustrated or scared of the current situation with COVID and all the ramifications associated with it. Some people I know are cancelling their plans to be with friends and family for the holidays; others have either lost their job or have had their health compromised, so they can no longer do their job. I know an individual who became ill due to COVID and was in the hospital for 75 days, near death at times. It has been nearly a full year and they are still in no position to go back to their job. Another person I know was put out of work because their profession was totally upended by the pandemic and it had to be shut down. I feel these are perfect reasons why people are not feeling festive. THERE ALSO IS SOMETHING ELSE THAT is weighing on the minds of people. The issue with the overtaxed supply chain is part of it, but I also believe the higher prices and fewer choices together can be the deciding factor for someone who decides they cannot afford to spend the extra money presently. When I mentioned this to my friend, she told me I was right because of a discussion she recently had with a family member. This relative was complaining about the amount of money they spend on people for the holiday, but they feel they never get that much in return. The look on my face must have conveyed my shock to her because she told me she was just as shocked. Even with the fact the holiday is not something I ever celebrated, I commented on how sad it was that the focus for her relative was the amount of money she spent compared to what she received; that the gifts have nothing to do with the meaning and spirit of the holiday. Next, I told my friend I wish I could meet her relative just so I could tell them they need to see this beautiful, family adventure drama to learn the real meaning of the holiday. A SON TRIED TO WAIT FOR his father to return from a long trek, in search of a magical place; but decided to take off on his own to find his father and bring him back home. With Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, The Lady in the Van) as Aunt Ruth, relative newcomer Henry Lawfull as Nikolas, Michiel Huisman (The Age of Adaline, Game of Thrones-TV) as Joel, Kristen Wiig (Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar, Ghostbusters) as Aunt Carlotta and Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Eternal Beauty) as Mother Vodol; this film based on the popular book was a wonderful movie watching experience for me. The cast was first rate; each actor was wonderful in their role. Despite the story being somewhat predictable, I found the mix of fantasy, thrills, magic, drama and fun to be a perfect mix—especially during this holiday season. The message in the story is something that I feel everyone could learn from. As I mentioned, Christmas was not part of the holidays I celebrated; but I must tell you, I enjoyed and appreciated this treat of a picture.
I JUST DO NOT GET THESE extreme sports/activities that people willingly do. There is High Lining which is crossing from one cliff to another by balancing and walking on a single rope. Free solo climbing is another activity that makes no sense to me, as well as a 6-day marathon that crosses 154 miles through Morocco, I believe. Why would anyone want to do something so dangerous? There was a documentary I reviewed some time back about a man who does free solo climbing. Seeing him climb without any safety apparatus seemed crazy to me. Granted, the extent of my climbing achievements was climbing trees when I was a kid. The highest I ever went was to the level of a 2nd floor of an apartment building. I understand a person who wants to be the fastest runner in the world or hit the most home runs in baseball; but doing something just for the sake of saying you did it, is not a good enough excuse for me to risk my life. I hope this is not coming across like I am judging, because it is not my intentions. I just do not understand the appeal of such an activity and to tell you the truth I am sure those who participate in such activities do not understand why I like to sit and watch movies. ON THE OTHER HAND, I APPRECIATE individuals who do remarkable things. For example, I enjoy more individual sports than team ones. Someone who can lift more weight or run the fastest or hold their breath underwater the longest are things that I admire because it is humans doing nearly unhuman things. Since I have been active in the fitness field for decades, I appreciate such activities because I am looking at the upper limits of what a human body can do. Seeing the body do unhuman things fascinates me; I think that is the main reason why I like that traveling circus with the different acts from around the world. The acts seem to be always pushing the limits of their bodies. I can remember a student from elementary school who was double jointed. They could bend their arms and legs in all these weird positions that no one else in class could do. So, you might be wondering why, knowing what you know about me, would I sit and watch this documentary. It was not on my radar; however, someone told me about it, and I was curious to see the scenery. And let me tell you, climbing a mountain would be the last thing I would want to do, unless they had a designated easy trail and gift shop/restaurant along the way. But I must tell you I was mesmerized by what I was watching in this thrilling adventure film. WITH SOME OF THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN peaks in their country’s backyard, a man from Nepal feels the world does not fully recognize what role his country has played in the activity of mountain climbing. He wants to change the perception by doing the unexpected. Directed by Gabriel Clarke (Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans, Finding Jack Charlton) and Torquil Jones (Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager, The American Fall), this award nominee was a thrilling and awe-inspiring movie. Nirmal “Nimsdal” Purja, the mountaineer from Nepal, was something to see with his infectious personality. The filming was exquisite to the point I felt I was experiencing the location without leaving my couch. I admit the idea for this audacious project was borderline insane; but I appreciated the message Nirmal was trying to convey. And a shoutout to his wife, who at least in the film supported his plan. I know it is hard to compare any one feat from another person; but I have to say, this movie will show you something that you have never seen before and I am guessing will be glad you got to see it. Several scenes had Nepali spoken with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
I THOUGHT WE WERE MORE THAN coworkers, that we were friends. We worked in separate departments but needed to communicate with each other to do our jobs. At company events we would hang out together; we had a similar sense of humor and viewpoints. Sometimes we would meet after work to grab a bite to eat, especially if one of us had a frustrating day. When time permitted, we would get together on a weekend to catch a movie or meet at the shopping mall to do some retail therapy. As time passed our friendship went deeper where we were comfortable to confide in each other. Some of the topics we talked about would be of a more personal nature. I remember one of the things I mentioned was a surprise for them. We laughed about it and afterwards I asked to please keep the information to themselves. Work kept us busy and the two of us were maintaining the status quo. I think it was 2 or 3 months later when a friend in my department said they had to tell me something. I said sure; I was all ears. What they told me made my stomach drop. My fellow coworker was in the lunchroom and two employees were sitting at another table talking about me. What they were discussing was the personal thing I told my “work friend.” I was stunned, shocked and hurt. ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTES I feel a human should have is trustworthiness. Trust is something I value greatly. I never give my trust out without a person earning it. This co-worker who betrayed me broke my trust which wounded me deeply. Once I feel my trust has been broken/abused, it is hard for a person to ever get it back. In the past I could hold a grudge against a person for years and for all I know I can still do it. I find the act of breaking a person’s trust to be such a hateful act. After hearing the news about myself, the question I had was what to do about my friend in the other department. I did not know whether to run over and confront them or simply ignore them. What I did know was I did not want to let these hurt feelings stay and fester inside of me. The one thing I knew about myself was not to confront them immediately because my anger was at a high level and I would have been on attack mode. Not to go into more revealing details, all I will say is it took me a couple of months before I brought up the subject. Trust is such a vital part of being human in my opinion, that I totally sympathized with the feelings on display in this action, adventure fantasy. HAVING SAVED THE LIFE OF THE heir to an ancient clan, the loner was taken in to become part of the family. From the things he encountered within the family, he would soon have to face the feelings he had about his past. With Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, Last Christmas) as Snake Eyes, Andrew Koji (Warrior-TV, Casualty-TV) as Tommy, Haruka Abe (Cruella, She’s Just a Shadow) as Takehiro Hira, Peter Mensah (300 franchise, Spartacus-TV) as Blind Master and Takehiro Hira (Lost Girls and Love Hotels, Killing for the Prosecution) as Kenta; this G.I. Joe spinoff had a great look to it and exciting fight scenes. The cast was very good but not good enough to raise the average script. I felt the story was a conglomerate of previous films in this genre. There was a predictability to the scenes’ actions which cut into the excitement/tension level. I am afraid this movie was just an average viewing experience; nothing major or minor in it. There was an extra scene early into the ending credits.
AFTER A COUPLE OF DATES, THEY wanted me to meet their pets. I was agreeable to it since I loved animals. When I arrived at their front door, I expected to hear a dog barking or them holding a cat. Once inside, I saw 2 large fish tanks in opposite corners of the living room. There was greenery inside each but there was no water. I was led to one of the tanks to be introduced to Charlie. As I approached closer, I saw a hint of movement among the greens. They lifted the lid off from the tank so they could extend both arms inside, where they gently lifted a large snake. I tried hiding the shock on my face but might not have done a good job because they said it was okay, the snake was not poisonous. Oh, what a relief! The snake began to slither up one arm, across the back of the shoulders, then down the other arm until its head was resting in my date’s hand. My mind was reeling with all the possible scenarios where the snake would be a comfort to its owner. Would it snuggle up to them on the sofa? Would it follow them around the house? Would it play with any toys? I could not find one scenario that would work for me; but I understood, if they found comfort in what I would consider an unusual choice for a pet then who was I to judge? WHATEVER ANIMAL BRINGS A PERSON COMFORT is the animal they need. For me, I was fortunate to experience comfort from a bird, a dog, a horse and a cat. I remember a particularly “bad” week in school. The bullies were extra active, and I had multiple tests taking place through the week. Friday night we were going to visit a relative who had a dog I absolutely loved. When we got to her house, I immediately sought out the dog. We settled into a cushy sofa in the den; me nestled into the corner of the couch and her curled into my lap. I would alternate between petting and scratching her. If I stopped for a moment, she would turn her face towards me and kneed my upper thigh with her paws. A sense of peaceful comfort settled over me and the trials and tribulations of the week faded away. It felt so good that I did not want to leave my spot when dinner was ready. That dog taught me one of my earliest lessons about what it means to give unconditional love. From my experience, I found myself totally in synch with the main character in this adventure, family comedy. AGAINST HER UNCLE’S BETTER JUDGEMENT, A young girl gets to keep a little red puppy that will show her it is okay to be different. With Darby Camp (The Christmas Chronicles franchise, Big Little Lies-TV) as Emily, Jack Whitehall (Jungle Cruise, Mother’s Day) as Casey, Izaac Wang (Good Boys, Think Like a Dog) as Owen, John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda, The Meaning of Life) as Bridwell and Tony Hale (American Ultra, Veep-TV) as Tieran; this movie was based on the popular children’s book series. I have not read them, but I can only assume the message is true to what the books portrayed. Little kids will love this film and I must tell you I enjoyed it as well for a multitude of reasons. The message was wonderful, the humor was light and clean, plus the dog was cute. I felt this way despite the fact the script was filled with predictability and was formulaic. There was a cartoonish feel to several scenes and yet, I simply enjoyed the simplicity of the whole story. And despite Clifford’s size he certainly was a lovable dog.
2 2/3 stars
I CANNOT SAY I TOTALLY BELIEVE or disbelieve; I simply believe anything is possible and that is why I am fascinated to hear people’s experiences with unexplainable events. A friend was telling me about a recent encounter her daughter experienced. While driving to a family function, the daughter looked in her rearview mirror and saw her grandparents, who were deceased, sitting in the back seat. They just sat there and smiled at her for the entire trip. When they arrived and she turned off the car, the daughter turned around in her seat, but the grandparents had disappeared. She went into the house to join other family members but during her time there she felt the presence of her grandparents for most of the night. The daughter was not surprised since her grandparents had visited her multiple times before. Her mother started believing her daughter ever since her first encounter because at that occurrence the grandparents said something in their native language which the daughter would not have known. When the daughter repeated what she heard to her mother, my friend knew something unexplainable had taken place around her daughter. I enjoyed listening about the event and asked my friend if her daughter ever had an encounter that scared her. She said as far as she knew, no. IN MY EXPERIENCES, THINGS HAVE TRANSPIRED that I could not easily explain. I used to workout at home on a cable exercise machine for several years. One day while working on it I felt like my eyes were mildly hurting me. When I clenched my eyes shut the pain subsided. I had no idea what was going on and even inspected them in the mirror to make sure I had not broken a blood vessel or something. For a week every time I did this one particular exercise on the machine, I would just close my eyes through it. However, after a week I started turning my face to the side while keeping my eyes shut. I knew this did not make any sense, but I kept doing it. After a few days when I went to exercise, the cable snapped as I grabbed the pull-down bar before sitting down on the bench. I was shocked but immediately realized that if the cable had held up a few seconds longer until I was seated and pulling up the weights attached to the cable, it would have snapped right into my eyes. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I felt there had to be something else that I could not explain that made me start to clench my eyes and turn my face away from the cable. Once I replaced the cable my eyes stopped hurting. It is things like this which have kept my mind open to any possibility and that is the way I went when I decided to go see this movie. AFTER MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN to take possession of a rundown house she inherited from her father, a single mom and her two children were unaware there was something special about the house and land around it. With Carrie Coon (The Post, Gone Girl) as Callie, Paul Rudd (Ant-Man franchise, Our Idiot Brother) as Grooberson, Finn Wolfhard (It franchise, Stranger Things-TV) as Trevor, McKenna Grace (Gifted, Annabelle Comes Home) as Phoebe and newcomer Logan Kim as Podcast; this long-awaited adventure, comedy fantasy in the franchise did not fully materialize for me. The acting was good; I especially admired the performances of McKenna and Finn. However, I thought the script was weak. There could have been more excitement, humor and suspense; everything seemed like a light version of what it was intended to be. Of course, there also was the nostalgic aspect which made things more bearable, especially the last part of the movie. I went into this film with no expectations and came out with just an okay feeling that I saw it, but no wow factor. There were a couple of extra scenes during the ending credits.
2 ¼ stars
A FRIEND OF MINE CREATED AN informal group that consisted of friends and acquaintances, who wanted to help take care of our neighborhood. The only requirement to be part of the group was to have pride for the neighborhood. Since I was born and raised in it, I signed up to become a member of the group. I have to say my friend was a sensitive individual, who started the group to combat the negativity he was experiencing both in his workplace and personal surroundings. His hope was to spread a little positivity around the neighborhood through acts of kindness. The first event he scheduled was to meet at the beach, ready to clean up any litter. When I arrived, he handed me a trash bag; I already was wearing a pair of gloves, so did not need the ones he was providing. There was a total of 9 or 10 people who participated and the time my friend set for the event was two hours. We each were assigned an area of the beach and went at our own pace because some of us weren’t as young and nimble as the others. I was grateful that in my section I did not come across anything truly disgusting. Instead, most of the items I found were cigarette butts, plastic cups, empty bottles, cans and tattered sheets of paper. Why people could not take the time to walk over to the trash and recycling bins, I would never know. ONE OF THE REASONS MY FRIEND asked me to join his group was because he knew how attentive I was in recycling everything I could at home. Granted I was lucky that the town I lived in had a very active recycling program that was easy to follow. Each resident was given two large bins, one for trash and the other for recyclables. They also gave out small orange crates as backup in case our bins got full before trash day. Since I kept my bins in the garage, I made doubly sure to rinse any containers out before leaving them sitting outside for days. I did not want to attract any wildlife with food encrusted items. Besides the usual newspapers and magazines, I recycled most of my junk mail, along with any container that showed the recycling number on it. I also would recycle those plastic rings that held together a six pack of soda, but only after I cut open each ring to prevent any wildlife from getting their head stuck in one. For me, I felt I was doing my part in protecting this world just like the main characters felt in this action, adventure fantasy. DUE TO AN UNEXPECTED EVENT, ANCIENT aliens who lived among us had to come out of their peaceful lives to combat an old enemy. With Gemma Chan (Captain Marvel, Crazy Rich Asians) as Sersi, Richard Madden (The Take, A Promise) as Ikaris, Angelina Jolie (Maleficent franchise, Those Who Wish Me Dead) as Thena, Salma Hayek (The Hummingbird Project, Like a Boss) as Ajak and Kit Harington (Pompeii, Game of Thrones-TV) as Dane Whitman; this latest release from the Marvel Universe was a big disappointment. I felt the script lacked the typical humor one expects from Marvel films. Scenes dragged for me and I did not care for the flip flopping that took place in the latter part of the movie. Surprisingly, I thought the special effects were not up to par; there seemed to be an almost cartoonish aspect to the characters, and I do not mean that in a good way. The pacing and the action scenes just seemed off to me which added to my boredom. Except for the 2 extra scenes during the ending credits, I would not have immediately thought this was a Marvel film. It felt like I had spent an eternity watching this picture by the time it was over.