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Flash Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 3

I was told there are beings who walk the planet robbing people of their energy; they are referred to as “Energy Vampires.” This is what I heard at a convention I attended some time ago. At first I did not quite understand what the presenter was talking about; but after a few examples were given and I later experienced it for myself, it made perfect sense. Let me see if I can explain it to you. Have you ever been at a party where one person dominates the conversations? They may be humorous, crack jokes or do some physical antics to provoke a response from people; however, the underlying current to all of their manipulations is to be the center of attention. This explained why I had such an uncomfortable time being around my friend’s boyfriend. Anytime we would get together he would dominate the conversations; no matter the topic he would bring it back to talk about himself. You may have experienced something similar, where the person throws out a question to you but they really are not interested in your answer. They just want to use the query to talk about themselves. If we played cards or a board game he was merciless; he had to always win. It was exhausting, I always felt tired after being around him. I did not realize it at the time but this guy was sucking the energy out of me and frankly out of the entire room. It came to the point where I had to limit my time around my friend and curtail the times we would play games. Luckily I had the option available to not be around them; but sometimes there is not an option and one has to face up to the challenge.    WHEN the evil Kai, voiced by J.K. Simmons (Whiplash, Juno), began eliminating the kung fu masters from across the land Po, voiced by Jack Black (Goosebumps, Bernie), could not walk away. He would have to confront the evil force and need help to do it. This animated action film had wonderful sharp animation. Visually I was impressed with the look of this adventure picture. With Bryan Cranston (Argo, Trumbo) as Li, Angelina Jolie (Malefiecent, Salt) as Tigress and Dustin Hoffman (Meet the Fockers franchise, Wag the Dog) as Shifu; the story was well thought out and made this sequel quite enjoyable to view. The humor was age appropriate and the writers took care not to make the subject matter too dark for younger viewers. Though I have seen the previous 2 films I do not think it is necessary to see them before seeing this movie. As a matter of fact I liked this one the best out of the three. The audience from what I could tell was into this film, both adults and children. This film was a good reminder that one cannot always run away.

 

3 stars 

 

 

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: Unbroken

Appearing not so dissimilar from the uniqueness of an individual’s fingerprints is a person’s pain threshold. I am curious to know what determines someone’s tolerance to pain. Is it genetic, environmental or mind over matter; I have seen people’s reactions go from one extreme to the other. One friend of mine is hypersensitive to any type of discomfort; a pinprick will cause them to let out a loud wail. Another friend could be in pain but one would never know by looking at them. If anything they may not walk as fast as they normally do; but if you did not know, they would appear to be having an average day. Though I am not comfortable comparing one person’s reactions to pain to another, I can appreciate those individuals who overcome intense suffering. One of the places where I have witnessed a person’s courage on display has been at the health and fitness centers where I have classes. Seeing people battle back from serious health issues, some involving major surgery and/or artificial limb replacement, has been humbling. I have watched with awe as I have watched them struggling to walk a single lap around the indoor track or try to lift a 2 pound weight to their chest. Every single one of them is a hero to me.    INCREDIBLE and heroic would not have been terms used to describe Louis Zamperini, played by Jack O’Connell (Starred Up, 300: Rise of an Empire), if he had not transformed himself from a wild hooligan into an Olympic athlete and U.S. Air Force bombardier. However, it was because of those earlier experiences that enabled him to survive not only the sea but a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. This film festival winning biographical drama was directed by Angelina Jolie (Maleficent, Salt). Based on Louis’ life, his story was bigger than this movie. I felt Angelina had a good eye for blocking scenes and I understood she worked at getting a PG-13 rating for this film. However, I believe she was too reserved in bringing Louis’ story to life. For what he endured I thought there would have been more emotional intensity to the scenes. There were times where I felt things were dragged out longer than necessary; I was starting to get bored. This may have been part of the reason I did not connect with Jack or newcomer Takamasa Ishihara who played Watanabe a/k/a The Bird; they could have been pushed harder to deliver a stronger performance. I recently saw a television special about Louis and from it I knew his story would have been challenging for any director to do it justice. Angelina gave it a good try but I felt this movie needed more of everything.

 

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Maleficent

With one aggressive act can a deep buried anger breakout from its vault inside the body. Flowing like white hot lava, it courses through and scorches the veins within a matter of seconds. The whole body becomes a pulsating furnace, emitting a constant heat fueled by the bellowing breath of hatred. If one does not have the tools to dismantle and disperse this generator of hatred, one will always see life through the smoke of anger. I remember acting this out when I had a toy that was not working properly; beating it against the floor or with any nearby heavy object to teach it a lesson. A majority of my earlier life was spent living with a burning anger. As a result I was able to quickly see it in others. My friends and I were riding in a car driven by the brother of one of the friends. A car driving in the opposite direction sideswiped us, knocking off the side view mirror. My friend’s brother spewed out a stream of obscenities as he violently turned the steering wheel, driving the car into the oncoming traffic. I was stunned by his hot blind anger heating the air around us, incinerating any and all of his common sense. That day I learned anger can be an all consuming emotion that manipulates every intention if left unchecked. The proof can be seen in this action adventure fantasy. Angelina Jolie (Salt, Changeling) was made to play this role, the evil Maleficent character from Walt Disney’s classic movie Sleeping Beauty. Though the story began when Maleficent was an innocent youth, it would show the events that led her to become a spiteful, hatred-filled adult. Despite Angelina’s strong presence, she had to share the screen with the amazing special effects. One of the reasons I liked Sam Riley (On the Road, Control) as Diaval was because he took the brunt of fanciful visuals. Elle Fanning (Super 8, Ginger & Rosa) was lovely as Princess Aurora and blended perfectly with Angelina. My major complaint about this film was the inadequate script. With the ability to take the character of Maleficent to great heights, the script failed Angelina. The lack of dialog created very little drama for her, along with the other actors. At one point the film went from embellishing the Sleeping Beauty story to a poor version of the musical Wicked. In addition the story veered into a dry disconnect that made very little sense. I was disappointed by this movie. Maybe it was because I have seen some truly angry and evil people in my life; the only difference was there was nothing magical about them.

 

2 1/2 stars

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