The best part of the forest for me is the darkest place. Passing the wooden sentries, I look for the area where leaves have formed a confetti sky above me. In the quiet stillness, when the sun is at the right angle, a single ray of light will infiltrate the darkness. I love to see that single bright strand illuminate a tiny patch of ground; noticing almost microscopic sized, feathery objects floating briefly through the light. It is wonderful to witness; seeing the forest teaming with life. In this animated adventure, the forest was home to a magical world of creatures. Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Carnage) was flawless voicing the evil leader Mandrake. With the fate of the forest dangling in the balance, Mandrake was determined to overcome the forest’s protector Queen Tara, played beautifully by Beyonce Knowles (Dreamgirls, Cadillac Records). The basic story was about good and evil. What set this one apart from others was its creativity. First there was the imaginative and colorful characters of the forest. Next was the use of actors with distinctive voices like Colin Farrell (Total Recall, Seven Psychopaths) as Ronin and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia, The Big Wedding) as Mary Katherine. I never thought in my lifetime I would hear Steven Tyler of Aerosmith voice a cartoon character as he did here, playing Nim Galuu. The movie was stunning to watch and had an engaging soundtrack, thanks to American composer Danny Elfman (Men in Black franchise, The Nightmare Before Christmas). While I was watching this film I was aware the children in the audience were sitting quietly, intently watching the screen. There was action, comedy, adventure and romance; something for everyone. The next time I walk through a forest, there will be no way I cannot think about the memorable creatures from this fantasy world.
My revenge was fueled by all the past years’ wrongs. From the older neighbor boy who threw a rock at me to the former boss who enjoyed being mean. The anger I had inside made up what I refer to as my dark side. Members in my class cannot believe I had a dark side. I point out to them that I am a credit manager during the day. Also, I tell them I never forget a customer who promised me a check then did not send it. This is preferable than telling them some of the things I did in the past when my dark side was dominant. Like the time the mean boss was calling for help from a bathroom stall as I walked into the restroom. I turned right around, shut the lights off and closed the door behind me as I walked out. So you see I am familiar with revenge and maybe that is why I enjoyed this movie thriller. From the director of the original The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movie; Niels Arden Oplev directed this, his first English speaking film. Colin Farrell (Seven Psychopaths, Total Recall) played Victor, a rising criminal who reluctantly agreed to help Beatrice, played by Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), get revenge on the man who disfigured her face. There was a problem; Victor was in the middle of enacting revenge on someone else already. He was doing this while being a member of a gang led by Alphonse, played by Terrence Howard (Red Tails, The Brave One). The story was nutty, a little too crazy for me. But you know I did not really care because I enjoyed Colin and Noomi in their roles. There was graphic violence with blood, explosions and careening plot twists. Then right in the middle of it all you got a budding romance. Go figure; maybe it is because I know revenge, but I do enjoy a story where the underdog gets a fair chance to win one. Also, I prefer watching a movie about revenge than being that person who used to act out with the dark side years ago. Scenes of blood and violence.
2 1/2 stars
One of my first bosses thought he inherited a kingdom instead of a business from his father. I had an inkling of this during my first week at the job. The owner came into the warehouse, took off his shoes, handed them and a shoe shining kit he was carrying to an employee and told the worker to go shine them. I was flabbergasted by the owner’s behavior. Later in the week another incident left me shocked and disgusted. My boss came into the warehouse, walked up to a different employee and handed him his hairbrush, telling the man to take it into the bathroom and clean it. I was prepared to quit if I was ever asked to clean something of his. As it turned out, because I was a good driver, the owner would give me the keys to his expensive luxury car to do errands for him and his mother. I was agreeable to this type of task. This was my introduction into the work world. Luckily I never experienced the bosses that were in this wild comedy. Jason Bateman (Identity Thief, Up in the Air), Jason Sudeikis (The Campaign, Hall Pass) and Charlie Day (Going the Distance, A Quiet Little Marriage) played best friends Nick Hendricks, Kurt Buckman and Dale Arbus. During a night of drinking and commiserating about their vile bosses, the trio plotted a way to do away with their evil superiors. Though the premise was over the top, the cast really made this film fun to watch. I was stunned by Jennifer Aniston’s (Wanderlust, The Bounty Hunter) performance as Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S.; not her usual type of role and she nailed it. Along with Kevin Spacey (Moon, The Usual Suspects) and Colin Farrell (Total Recall, Seven Psychopaths), these actors were wickedly contemptuous in their roles. A fast paced, joke laced, crazy caper movie; you may find it totally unbelievable. Before you judge this film because you cannot believe there can be such bosses in the real world, remind me to tell you about another boss I worked for who would steal our customer’s eye glasses. Some scenes with strong language.
2 3/4 stars — DVD
A pet is a part of the family. The unconditional love, their eyes filled with devotion looking up at you; there is nothing better. When I would come through the front door and see that dog tail whipping side to side I would say, “Who wants a doggie massage?” Immediately Baldwin would plop down at my feet, waiting for his rubdown. That is a fond memory I keep close to my heart. Presently the far western suburbs where I teach are being warned not to let their small pets outside alone due to coyote attacks. The idea sends chills through me. Now imagine my confusion when I heard what the story was in this comedy. Struggling screenwriter Marty, played by Colin Farrell (Alexander, Total Recall), had two crazy friends Hans and Billy, played by Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Hairspray) and Sam Rockwell (Moon, Everybody’s Fine), who were dog kidnappers. They would do it for the reward money. Like me, you have to wonder how this could be a funny movie. This was one twisted film filled with great one liners. Christopher Walken was at his crazy best and may get a nomination for his role. When Billy and Hans unknowingly took the Shih Tzau of LA criminal Charlie, played by Woody Harrelson (The Messenger, Zombieland), their lives would not only be put into jeopardy, but they would become fodder for Marty’s new script. As you can imagine this was no ordinary comedy. Think of this wild film more like a fine rich broth, spiced up with a touch of Tarantino and a smidgen of the Coen Brothers; the offbeat dialog was precisely delivered by the incredible actors for maximum affect. Seeing what someone will do to get their beloved pet back will surprise you and amuse you. Scenes with graphic violence and blood.
3 1/4 stars