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Flash Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

ONCE again I was dressed up as a clown. I actually had no complaints about the costume; it was custom made using satin fabric. The buttons down the front were these big colored pom-pom looking things. Though the outfit was not made for me, it had been handed down; only a few adjustments were needed for me to safely walk in it. There was a cone shaped hat with another of those pom-poms attached on top that completed the outfit. I could only wear the hat for a short time before the strap holding it down on my head started to irritate under my chin. The first time the costume was worn by the original owner, they won a costume contest at a local theater. By the time I got the outfit, it was still in good shape. Why wouldn’t it be? It was handmade with strong stitching and detailing. You could not compare it to one of those store bought costumes for the fabric was thicker and it must have had better elastic because the cuffs of the legs still were able to hug my ankles, helping the balloon effect of the pants.     AFTER wearing the clown costume every Halloween for a few years I finally was able to pick out my very own outfit. The reason was due to me outgrowing the pants, both in length and width. I remember spending the longest time at the toy store deciding what I wanted to be. I looked at the popular outfits like a soldier and pirate, but it seemed like all my friends were picking those outfits to wear. Finally I decided to become an astronaut; I thought the white spacesuit was cool with its fake badges and big pockets. And of course the big feature was the helmet though I had wished the visor would have been real. You would have thought I would have been thrilled to walk the neighborhood in my new outfit but I did not experience that feeling. After wearing the same costume for a few years I was just getting to the age where I really did not care to go trick or treating anymore. It is a similar feeling to what I experienced watching this action adventure fantasy.     WITH the rumors possibly being true about Poseidon’s trident, opposing forces were in a mad dash to gain the powerful device. Starring Johnny Depp (Black Mass, The Lone Ranger) as Captain Jack Sparrow, Javier Bardem (The Gunman, No Country for Old Men) as Captain Salazar and Geoffrey Rush (The Book Thief, The Best Offer) as Captain Hector Barbossa; the best acting came from Javier and Geoffrey. In fact I could watch Javier if there was a spinoff to this film franchise. The reason being the story here was a hodgepodge. It did not help that I thought Johnny brought nothing new to the role; besides the script felt a bit tired with the same type of things seen in the previous films. Having said that, I will say I enjoyed the special effects in this picture and there were a lot of them. The majority of the scenes were action based, almost to the point of one after another after another. One other issue I had was the length of this movie; I felt it needed another round of editing. If you want light familiar fare to make the time go by then this newest installment might satisfy you; however, don’t be surprised if it leaves you wanting more. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.

 

2 stars

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: Gods of Egypt

There is not a day or two that goes by where I do not hear or see in print the term “OMG.” Usually it comes from younger people, but I have heard folks older than myself uttering it. I am willing to bet some of the individuals who use this term are only using it as an expression of surprise or disbelief, not making a statement about their faith. There is another term, “God’s gift,” that I do not hear as much these days; it always had negative connotations associated with it as far as I could tell. When you heard someone say, “That person thinks they are God’s gift,” what was implied was that person thought they were better than other people. Have you ever encountered such a person? Unfortunately I have met more than my share of such people; I refer to them as demigods. This may be a broad use of the term for it could refer to that person who thinks they know more than you, always telling you what you “should” do; or it could be used for an individual who looks down at you, believing they are better or the things they have are superior to yours. I find it sad, especially when that demigod assumes they have more power because they think they are better. Sadly in my life’s experiences I have seen more corrupt people in positions of power than kinder ones. It bears repeating because I find it so true: absolute power corrupts absolutely.    DECIDING it was his turn to rule Set, played by Gerard Butler (Chasing Mavericks, Olympus Has Fallen), defeated his nephew Horus, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Mama, Game of Thrones-TV), who was the rightful heir. The city’s citizens would be subjected to a new period of oppressive dark times. It has been reported this action fantasy had a budget of $140 million dollars which I found absolutely startling. For that much money I expected to be wowed by the special effects that played heavily in this story. What I saw instead was cheap looking effects covering a poorly written script. With Brenton Thwaites (The Giver, Maleficent) as Bek and Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, The Book Thief) as Ra, I found the characters bordering on buffoonery. Geoffrey’s character and the place he resides in was ridiculous enough to make me wonder who would write such a character in that way. Now the fact this adventure film was not released early for reviewers, I did not have high hopes when I walked into the movie theater. However, I would have settled for a light fun fantasy picture with decent CGI effects; this film was boring in parts and in fact, it almost seemed as if it was pieced together in random order. If it is true what I read recently that the movie studio was hoping this film would kickoff a new movie franchise, then I am sad to say this fantasy really is a fantasy of the studio.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Giver

They go hand in hand; for every high point in one’s life there will be a low point. It is just the natural order of things or the way I refer to it, the pluses and minuses of life. There is nothing like riding a high wave of elation; where positive feelings flood the body, coating all the senses with heightened awarenesses. Who would not want to have this type of experience; I know I would prefer it. However, life does not give one the option to pick and choose fully their experiences. I know I did not choose to trip off that street curb and scrape my knee on the ground. In my brain having both positive and negative experiences is necessary. You see, if a person only experiences one or the other what do they have to compare with what they are feeling? I know our emotions play a part in all of this. Though I wish I did not have to deal with the downs in life, I know they only make me appreciate the up times more. Without having the two polar opposites life would be pretty bland.    ELIMINATION of the emotions was what the society in this dramatic science fiction film achieved for all of its citizens. There was no war, jealousy, hatred, bigotry or sexism; everyone lived in steady harmony. All negative experiences were a thing of the past; only the memories associated with them were stored in one individual known as the Giver, played by Jeff Bridges (True Grit, The Men Who Stare at Goats). When the time came to share those memories with his apprentice, the Giver needed to make sure the events of the past would not repeat themselves in the present. Based on the Newberry Award winning novel by Lois Lowry, this was one of my favorite books. Meryl Streep (Hope Springs, The Iron Lady) played Chief Elder who made sure all the rules were enforced to prevent history from repeating itself. The cast also included Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent, Oculus) as Jonas and Odeya Rush (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, We are What We Are) as Fiona. Sadly I have to say this film version sucked the life out of an incredible, thought provoking story. I was looking forward to seeing this picture and though Jeff and Meryl were excellent, they could not save the dullness of the script. For those not familiar with the book I believe they would mildly stay interested in this film. There was a cool look about the movie where some scenes worked well. Unfortunately with so much taken out of the original story, I could easily see where things could be confusing to viewers. It truly was a shame that a movie about an emotionless society was just as emotionless.

 

1 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Signal

It is good to have a healthy curiosity about the world around us. For a society it is a component to conscious advancement. Without curiosity imagine what life would be like for us, even just our life expectancy. I remember in school how students were encouraged to be inquisitive and guided to figure out how things worked, instead of tapping a smartphone screen for the answers. A small example just happened to me at the grocery store this weekend when my total bill was $10.89. I gave the cashier $21.00. She stared at it for a moment then looked up at me and told me the total again. I had to explain to her that I wanted $10.00 back instead of singles. I used to be curious enough to try a new food item but now I have to read the label to see what things went into making the product. There was a time when something was not working I could at least open it up to see what was wrong with it. Now if I do that I void the warranty. It used to be if you saw someone standing next to a broken down car by the side of the road, you could stop and offer them help. These days people have to be careful because you never know if what you see is really true. It is so drummed into my head at work not to click on any attachments in emails from unknown sources that I tend to delete emails coming from anyone unfamiliar to me. One has to be careful these days as the 3 friends in this science fiction thriller found it. While on a road trip friends Nic, Haley and Jonah; played by Brenton Thwaites (Oculus, Maleficent), Olivia Cooke (The Quiet Ones, Bates Motel-TV) and Beau Knapp (Super 8, No One Lives); go off course to track down a computer hacker who had broken into their operating system. The beginning of the story started out good in this film; I liked the idea. Adding in the well done direction to the pacing and building tension, I thought this movie would be exciting. To top it off, the studio cast Laurence Fishburne (Man of Steel, Event Horizon) who did an excellent job with his character Damon. Everything seemed to be in place to make a great picture except for one important element: the script was a mess. There were times I was bored and I still am not sure what went on. I felt the script could have benefited if it had been re-written to tighten up the scenes and add some depth to the situations. Thinking about it now I could have waited for this to come out on DVD, if only I had not been so curious.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Oculus

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul but a mirror reflects what is in the mind. When one looks at themselves in a mirror they may not be seeing an accurate image. One person can only see all the derogatory names they were called when they were younger. Another individual may see the most beautiful person they have ever seen. I have had a love/hate relationship with mirrors that has mostly been hate. I have arranged my classes where the participants can see themselves in the mirrors. It makes sense that people should see what they are doing in class. The added benefit is I do not have to see myself because I know the person in that mirror has a warped perception of themself. There was a summer during my college years where I was greeted in the mirror by someone who had the confidence of Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever. It did not last long before the image was replaced with a man, who used to carry 85 extra pounds on their body splattered with bruises. I know when I look into a mirror these days I rarely see any feel good attributes. There are days where the mirror tries to be kind and others where it is gloomy; however, I am grateful I have never seen anything sinister like I saw in the mirror in this horror film. Karen Gillan (We’ll Take Manhattan-TV movie, Not Another Happy Ending) played Kaylie Russell who wanted to prove what happened to her and her brother Tim, played by Brenton Thwaites (Home and Away, Charge Over You), had to be something supernatural. I feel I always have to preface my review of horror movies by saying I am not a big fan of them. If this film is any indication I may no longer need to state it. Without gratuitous bloodshed or gross mutilations, I found this movie to be tensely exciting. There was a continuous thread of dread throughout as the story reeled between the adult and childhood versions of the brother and sister. Katee Sackhoff (Riddick, Battlestar Galactica-TV) and Rory Cochrane (Argo, Dazed and Confused) were wonderful as the siblings’ parents Marie and Alan Russell. At one point I felt I was witnessing a psychotic episode, the next a hallucinatory one; all of it made for a mind bending experience where I was fidgeting in my seat with anticipation. I will tell you there were several scenes that made me squeamish and there was blood shown; but on the strength of the script, I know if I had seen myself in a mirror afterwards I would have seen a satisfied moviegoer.

 

3 stars

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