MOST CHILDREN ONLY WANT it to rain in the middle of the night, while they are sleeping. For some hopefully, thunder and lightning will not wake them up; though they would not mind if there were puddles to jump in during the morning hours. I remember hoping every time it was snowing outside the schools would close for the day, so I could play in the snow with my friends all day. Back then the weather was only thought about when it would alter the planned day of events. A rainy day meant I could not go to the beach or the local amusement park. Depending on how much snow fell would determine if we would go out to the suburbs to visit relatives. Weather back then was simply a part of life; dramatic events were at a minimum. Thunderstorms I recall lasted a couple of hours with very little damage to property. THOUGH IT WAS STARTED in the late 1940s, I think it was not until the 1960s or 70s when cloud seeding was mentioned in the mainstream. The idea of humans changing weather patterns fascinated me. Then again I always enjoyed the character Storm, who could manipulate the weather, in the X-Men series. Now I do not know about you but I have noticed the weather has taken on a more sinister veneer these days. Storms and weather events have become more violent, from intense tornados to major flooding. To my way of thinking, something had to happen that affected the weather patterns. If I remember correctly didn’t the host country China seed clouds before the Olympics started, so it would rain before the opening ceremony? One has to wonder if there were any ramifications from doing such a thing. Something has changed in my opinion that is causing the weather to turn on us. Long stretches of drought, major flooding, multiple tornadoes and hurricanes; whether one believes or not the theories that are being used to explain the weather, wouldn’t it make sense to at least explore the possibilities to see what is taking place around us? This action, science fiction thriller might be a prelude to what could happen to us. AFTER A PERIOD OF peaceful coexistence with the weather, a network of satellites that were controlling the climate begins to malfunction. The cause needed to be found before the earth would become the victim to a massive, destructive world storm. Starring Gerald Butler (A Family Man, Playing for Keeps) as Jake Lawson, Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, The Best Offer) as Max Lawson, Abbie Cornish (Bright Star, Limitless) as Sarah Wilson, Alexandra Marie Lora (Rush, Control) as Ute Fassbinder and Daniel Wu (New Police Story, One Nite in Mongkok) as Cheng Long; the script quickly sunk this film. There was nothing new in this story that has not played in numerous disaster movies from before. Even the special effects were only okay; something about them did not make them pop out like I have seen done in other pictures. I am afraid outside of a couple of scenes I was bored a good portion of the time. Scenes that lent themselves to intense drama were lacking it and one pretty much could figure out what was going on in the story. Though I saw this film on a sunny day, it put a cloudy damper over me.
1 ¾ stars
The racetrack had to have elaborate turns, at least one bridge, hills and a long stretch of flat road. These were my requirements when I would set up my slot car racing track when I was a kid. Back then it was all about the speed; how fast could I navigate the course without the car spinning off the track. My interest in fast driving continued into adulthood; as long as I was behind the wheel I would get a thrill from driving. However, if I was in the passenger seat or a spectator I lost all interest. Because of that I have no desire to watch auto racing competitions; they leave me bored with their cars repeating the same track over and over into a monotonous blur of metal and sound. This is why it was all the more amazing to me how director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13) got me totally interested in this action film based on a true story. The film followed the rivalry between 1970’s Formula 1 racing car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Red Dawn) and Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds, Good Bye Lenin!). I do not know how accurate the depiction of hard partying British playboy James and no nonsense Austrian Niki were to the real men, but for this drama it worked in propelling the story forward. With Chris and Daniel playing the central figures the rest of the cast was left in the background. Olivia Wilde (Drinking Buddies, In Time) as James’ 1st wife Suzy Miller was forgettable for the most part; but Niki’s wife Marlene Lauda, played by Alexandra Maria Lara (Downfall, Youth Without Youth), had more staying power. If I had not known this was a Ron Howard film I would have never guessed he was the director; the film had a fast pace with quick editing shots that made me dizzy at times. Action and speed were the main drivers (get it?) for this story which did not allow much time for character development. The CGI effects were seamless to the point I was not even aware of them. I appreciated the different angles the director used in filming the racing scenes, from driver perspectives to overhead long shots. With the use of voice-overs, I felt the story was well rounded enough for the viewer to get a good sense of these championship drivers. I especially enjoyed the way the movie ended. Please do not tell the state police, but after the movie I made it home in record time. A few scenes had blood in them.
Imagine what it must feel like, to be picked out of the secretarial pool by your new boss, Adolph Hitler…during the final days of the war. This movie not only used the memoir of that secretary, Traudi Junge, played by Alexandra Maria Lara (Control, Youth Without Youth), as a basis for the story; but also, Albert Speer’s memoir and several other historical books. What we are presented with is a direct portrayal of the Third Reich without the “monster” connotations or political slant; simply human beings. In a tour de force performance as Adolph Hitler, Bruno Ganz (Unknown, Bread and Tulips) is outstanding, as he displays extreme emotions during the final days of Hitler’s life. It is one, if not the best, depictions I have ever seen of Adolph Hitler. As the Russian forces are nearing Berlin from the east and the Allied forces from the west, life inside Hitler’s bunker begins to crumble. This movie, with scenes of deep tensions, fury and despair; was one of the best dramatic portrayals of World War II’s history, I have ever seen. German with English subtitles.
3 1/2 stars — DVD