WHEN THE TEMPERATURE IS JUST RIGHT and the packed snow begins to melt, I am left with a wading pool of water in my backyard. It is especially annoying because the melted snow pools mostly on the sidewalk because it is now lower than the grass. When it is frozen the ice can support my weight when I walk across it. However, when the temperature starts to rise, I feel like I am gambling each time I step on the ice. Sometimes I may be walking on it and all that happens is a few cracks form where I have stepped. But every now and then I may get halfway across the ice before my foot breaks through and cold melted snow fills the inside of my shoes. Ironically, I play that movie line in my head by asking myself how lucky I feel before I get on the ice. If I have the time I will use a shovel to toss some of the water back onto the lawn; however, by the time I get home afterwards the water has come back, waiting to capture and douse my shoes once again. If you are wondering why I don’t just walk on the lawn, I usually cannot because the grass is so wet that I am nearly stepping into a muddy mixture; or, there still plenty of snow that has not melted yet. DUE TO THIS WINTER WATER TORTURE I have dealt with, I cannot believe the people who tempt fate by walking onto frozen bodies of water. I am not talking about the ice one forms in their backyard with a water hose or frozen puddles in the street; I am referring to things like ponds, lakes and rivers. Living near a large lake, when we have experienced below freezing temperatures the lake portion that is closer to the shore can freeze over. I understand the fascination with being able to “walk on water” so to speak; but unless one is certain the ice will withstand their weight, I do not understand why they venture onto it. Even if I knew the depth of the water at the edges was minute, I have no desire to go walking on top of a frozen lake. Then again, I do not even like being outside in the cold. It always surprises me to see how many people want to experience walking on ice. I have seen them standing there taking selfies of themselves and all I can wonder is what they would do if they fell through the ice. The same can be said for the main characters in this action adventure drama; I cannot believe they willingly do what they do over frozen water. WITH MINERS TRAPPED IN A REMOTE CANADIAN mine, the only way to bring lifesaving equipment to them was by truck over a frozen body of water, just as the weather was getting warmer. With Liam Neeson (The Commuter, Run All Night) as Mike, Marcus Thomas (Kill the Irishman, Drowning Mona) as Gurty, Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix franchise, Contagion) as Goldenrod, Amber Midthunder (Hell or High Water, Legion-TV) as Tantoo and Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as Varnay; this movie had to be made with Liam in mind. It was another typical Liam as the hero movie. Now that is fine; however, after seeing him in these same types of roles, it becomes easier to figure out how the story will play out. I will say I was surprised there were parts of this film that were thrilling to me. It overall was quite predictable and at one point it seemed to me it was getting too silly and I do not mean that in a funny way. If one is looking to find something where much thought is not needed, then this picture would be one to watch. I would say on a cold, snowy day when you do not want to leave your home.
1 ¾ stars
I do not think the layout of a store is necessarily an engineering feat, more like a psychological one in my opinion. Think about the ease consumers have these days; no matter where one may be, they can walk into the same brand of store and immediately know which aisles they need to stop in. Sure some stores may have slight differences in decorations or signage, but I am sure there is a reason why the stores are laid out in a particular way. I assume you have heard the term “mindless eating?” It is when one is not giving any thought to what they are putting in their mouth; an example would be those huge buckets of popcorn one sits with in the movie theater. Being so engrossed into the film hopefully, one doesn’t pay attention to the amount of popcorn they have eaten. Well the same thing can be said for “mindless shopping.” The way the store gets laid out, the end of the aisles known as “end caps” has either visual significance or price leaders to entice shoppers to stop and pickup the product. Now throughout the store the owners place sale items like small oases to get the consumer to travel from one side of the building to the other. When I go to the grocery store I do not have to think about what I want; I always go with a shopping list and because I am so familiar with the layout, I can quickly make my way through without much thought. It really is a simple process that does not need much effort on my part. I can say it was the same way watching this latest Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, A Walk to Remember) movie. TRAVIS, played by Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), tried all of his pickup lines on the new neighbor Gabby, played by Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies, I am Number Four), but she was having none of it. As far as she was concerned he was a jerk. I really do not think I have to say anything else because those of you who are at all familiar with a Nicholas Sparks movie will already know the outcome. This dramatic romance followed the same formula as his previous films. In fact, I felt this one was one of the worst. The story followed the same, shall we say, outline to each of his films: the main characters either dislike each other or have issues; there is a hospital scene or tragic event, understanding parents and a tearjerker scene. Regarding this film I felt there was no chemistry between Benjamin and Teresa. The only acting worth mentioning was by Tom Wilkinson (Belle, Michael Clayton) as Shep. If you have never read or seen a Nicholas Sparks story or want a good cry then you may be interested in this movie. The rest of you would be better off skipping this film and go do some mindless shopping.
1 2/3 stars
One single seed over time can create a bodacious garden. All it takes is nourishment, encouragement and tenderness. The same holds true for writing a story. A kernel of a memory, truth or experience is all that is needed for the writer. My first published story was about me and my friends’ experiences selling door to door a variety of kitchen and houseware products for a charity. It started out with an incident one of my friend’s had, where he spent the rest of the day walking with me on my route. I took that event and created several companion pieces to accompany it in a series of sales stories told from different perspectives. Just recently a friend called me up after reading one of my reviews, asking me who I was writing about since they could not place me in my opening commentary. I had to remind them of the incident that caused me such anguish. Now I am sure there have been times where you read a story and were curious to know if there was any truth to it; I know I do it all the time. When I am writing each character I have a voice for them I hear in my head. Some of the voices are actual people I have heard while others were made up. I would love to know how authors come up with their stories. To hear the truth behind some of the classics or best sellers would be amazing. Having read the novel Moby Dick 3 times, I had no idea it was based on a true story; in turn, I was excited to see this movie. Herman Melville, played by Ben Whishaw (Spectre, Suffragette), was desperate to talk to Tom Nickerson, played by Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter franchise, Gangs of New York), the last survivor of the New England whaling ship, the Essex. Tom’s unbelievable story about the destruction of the Essex would be the catalyst for Herman to write the story Moby Dick. This action adventure had huge special effects to match the size of the story. There were times I was trying to figure out how the scene was even done; they looked spectacular. With Chris Hemsworth (Rush, Thor franchise) as Owen Chase and Benjamin Walker (The War Boys, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) as George Pollard, there were two things happening in this biographical film. There was Herman listening to Tom for one story line and then there was Owen and George hunting for whales in the 1820s. I preferred watching Herman and Tom. Their acting and story was more memorable to me. Owen’s tale was too choppy; I felt it dragged in places, in others it just seemed ridiculous. It lacked emotion in my opinion. Honestly, I could see this script being a Broadway musical and working better than it did on film. Nonetheless I was fascinated with the story that was the impetus for the classic novel Moby Dick.
2 1/4 stars
Many of Abraham Lincoln’s accomplishments have been well documented. How did historians miss this tasty tidbit about President Lincoln’s skill as a vampire hunter? If it wasn’t for Mr. Lincoln’s special talent, the civil war would have had a different ending. Having not read the popular book this movie was based on, I only had a partial idea on what to expect based on the movie trailers. The story was totally outrageous and laid out to mirror the actual timeline of Abraham Lincoln’s progress from young boy to lawyer to president. This movie was an absolute fun experience. All you need to do is put common sense aside and just go for the thrilling ride as the action was constant and the special effects were great. The movie’s look was immaculate in its presentation and detail to the period of time. Playing Abraham Lincoln, I thought Benjamin Walker (Flags of Our Fathers, Kinsey) was wonderful as the lean, stoic, ax wielding man. His mentor Henry Sturgess, played by Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double, The Duchess), was also terrific in his complicated role. This is the type of movie you see when you need some escapism; a fun fantasy lined up along historical markers. Just imagine, if we did not have Abraham Lincoln to save us from being taken over by vampires, humans would have become the new red meat. There were multiple scenes of blood.
3 1/4 stars