I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A CURIOUSITY with how things are created and started. When I was a young kid, I used to break apart my toys to see how they worked. One of my favorite toys that I had for an extended time finally met its demise, when I smashed the plastic globe that held these small hard plastic, colored balls that were smaller than golf balls. Attached to this globe that was on wheels was a long handle. As I rolled the toy that got the name “Popcorn Maker,” due to something in the middle popping the balls up against the inside top of the globe, the balls would be bouncing around accompanied by a popping sound. I loved this toy; but eventually my curiosity got the better of me, leading me to destroy it to see what was making the balls pop up whenever I rolled the toy around the house. It looked like a tiny, tiny bicycle wheel without the rim, just the spokes sticking out. As the wheels rolled, this device in the middle of the axel would as well. As the spokes rolled towards the top of their enclosure, they got bent back. When they got to the very top where the hole was the spoke would spring up and snap at any ball that landed in the hole. It was such a simple device, but I enjoyed playing with it nonstop. IN MY LINE OF WORK, I have had the opportunity to discover the origin of hundreds of companies and businesses. A well-known ice cream company got its start over 100 years ago when 2 brothers contracted with a farmer, the use of his 15 cows. They would turn the cows’ milk into ice cream and sell it from the back of their truck. As popularity grew, they bought a distributor to sell their product beyond their small town. I get a kick when I see their product stocked at the grocery store, knowing its humble beginnings. When I was visiting Savannah, Georgia I learned how the Girl Scouts came into being because of a woman’s idea that she wanted to encourage young girls to focus on their strengths; so, they could create opportunities for themselves. Keep in mind this was a time before woman were given the right to vote. Another time where my curiosity was piqued was when I was visiting the Iolani Palace in Hawaii. I wanted to know how it became one of the first places in the United states to be entirely wired for electricity, even before the White House. It came about when the King of Hawaii met Thomas Edison while on a world tour. So, you see, being inquisitive comes naturally to me and that is why I was interested in seeing today’s prequel film. FROM AN IDEA, A FEW INDIVIDUALS formed a group to tackle world problems. They, however, did not know the scope of the problems they would be tackling. With Ralph Fiennes (The Dig, A Bigger Splash) as Orlando Oxford, Gemma Arterton (Their Finest, The Girl with all the Gifts) as Polly, Rhys Ifans (Last Call, The Amazing Spider-Man franchise) as Grigori Rasputin, Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) as Conrad Oxford and Djimon Hounsou (Captain Marvel, Blood Diamond) as Shola; this action, adventure comedy had a broad canvas to tell its story. I am afraid the canvas was way too big, because I felt there was to much stuffed into the script that the flow of the story was scattered all over the place. I enjoyed the acting and the action scenes; however, there was such a mix of emotions that were on display that I would lose interest periodically. The historical aspect was a fine idea and one I was interested in since I enjoyed the previous films, but the script needed a major rewrite. By the time I left the theater, I had lost my interest in how the Kingsman got its start. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
IF ONLY THE SUPERHERO INSIDE OF me had come out when I was much younger; I am sure I would have had an easier time of things. Instead of being relegated each time to left field when we played baseball in school, I bet I could have been the pitcher if I knew about my superhero. Those times when I was being abused and bullied, I did have several plans of attack and rescue playing out in my mind; however, I needed a superhero to boost my confidence and hopes. Because of this, part of my brain was constantly working on plans of revenge; ones that I would never carry out but made me feel a little better. I remember there was a time where a group of robbers were focusing on passengers who rode the subway train. They would pretend to be passengers and when the train came to a stop they would grab purses and jewelry, then jump off the train and run away. The poor victims would not have time to react before the doors closed and the train pulled away from the station. I am not saying these people were not aware of their superhero; but imagine if they had the ability to react quickly and prevent the robbers from snatching their purses. IT WAS NOT UNTIL SOME YEARS into my adulthood that I realized not only do I have a superhero inside of me, but most everyone else had one also. As a joke I tell people my superpower is being able to withstand high heat. All kidding aside, from my experiences I discovered my superhero has enabled me to be compassionate and kind. After what I went through years ago, it has taken me a long time to get to a place where I can be and act on these things. A superhero I believe gives one confidence in themselves. There is less fear being generated by the person. Speaking on experience, this is absolutely true; I cannot tell you how different the world feels when one is able to participate in it without being in a constant state of fear. One way I describe this feeling is by telling people to envisage their entire world having been black and white; then one day, everything turns into color. Just like what happened to Dorothy when she arrived in Oz as the film went from black and white to color. A person can get so much out of life when they are in synch with their superhero; see for yourself in this adventure film. THERE WAS SOMETHING INSIDE OF FOSTER kid Billy Batson, played by relative newcomer Asher Angel, that made him special; at least to an ancient wizard. With Zachary Levi (Thor franchise, Chuck-TV) as Shazam, Mark Strong (Kingsman franchise, Before I Go to Sleep) as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Michelle Borth (Teenage Cocktail, Hawaii Five-O-TV) as Super Hero Mary and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Wizard; this action fantasy film was a fun movie to watch. I thought the script was well written because it provided a sweet likability factor to the fantasy story. Zachary was made for this role, doing a wonderful job of portraying Shazam. There was solid humor, touching moments, a decent message and old-fashioned action scenes in this picture. Though I had hoped the studios would have given Mark Strong a character and script with more heft to it; I still enjoyed his action scenes and felt he made a convincing villain. This was one of the best films I have seen come out of the DC universe. It seems as if the people who worked on this picture were in touch with their superhero. There were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.
3 ½ stars
IT WAS AN OUTDOOR SHOPPING CENTER made to look like a town square. I was not interested in how it looked, only needed to go to one store located somewhere inside. Within the first minute of turning into the mall I was already annoyed by the parking lot; it was set like an English garden maze, except the green hedges were replaced with concrete curbs. From the posted signs I knew I had to be somewhere in the right area, so I decided to park and make my way on foot. Luckily the store was easy to find and once inside I quickly found what I was looking for before I headed back to my car in record time. Next on my to do list was going to the bank. I asked the virtual voice assistant on my phone for the nearest location to a branch of my bank. Directions were offered which I followed out of the parking lot. I made my way down the street for a short time, just past the shopping mall. Being told to turn down a side street I would up winding my way south, having to stop at each intersection because of stop signs. Finally coming out onto a thoroughfare I was instructed to turn west. The next thing I knew I was back at the shopping center and right there was a sign pointing me to the bank. I FOUND IT ANNOYING THAT I HAD to drive out of the mall, through a residential area, only to be directed back into the mall. It made no sense to me. Maybe there was some reason why the interactive assistant had me drive that way, but I found it confusing. These days I find many things confusing and it is not because of an addled mind. It just seems as if common sense is becoming a rare commodity. Later in the day I was at a condominium building and the elevator had a handwritten sign taped inside that said, “Due to the freezing temperatures it is suggested the cabinet doors under all sinks are opened to prevent pipes freezing. This made no sense to me; how would pipes freeze in a unit of a multi-storied condominium building? Don’t all the residents get their water from a main line that then divides out to each unit? I could spend all day listing the things I come across that make no sense to me; but instead, I will just let today’s movie show you what I am talking about. THE QUIET PEACEFUL LIFE BAKER DILL, played by Matthew McConaughey (Gold, The Dark Tower), had created for himself came apart when his ex-wife suddenly appeared with a desperate plea to save her. This dramatic thriller also starred Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight, The Intern) as Karen Zariakas, Diane Lane (Trumbo, Secretariat) as Constance, Jason Clarke (First Man, Everest) as Frank Zariakas and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Duke. I actually think the actors could have handled anything that got thrown to them, but I do not know how they maintained their composure with this bizarre script. Their first clue, I believe, would have been their initial read through of it. The story made no sense to me which added to my boredom. Maybe the writer wanted to create a twisted, sexy, tension building story but all I found were things that made me scratch my head in confusion. It is a shame because I enjoyed the look of the film and particularly the setting, which was this idyllic island. There is already enough I encounter that dumbfounds me; there was no reason why I needed to pay for my confusion by watching this picture.
1 ½ stars
REVENGE CAN BE THE perfect balm for scorned, hurt feelings. Before I grew up, give or take a decade or two, I was a master of revenge. Not having the insight to acknowledge my feelings or at least look unemotionally at the troubling event that initiated feelings of anger and hurt, I would immediately go on the attack; my goal was to inflict pain as quickly as possible on the person who “hurt” me, so they would feel as much pain as I was feeling. The beauty of revenge is that it floods the mind like a dam bursting open to wash away all of the brain’s thoughts. What replaces those thoughts is darkness and anger. It consumes the person, numbing their sadness. Plotting a way to hurt back the person who harmed you becomes a twisted pastime. Please keep in mind I am not referring to physically abusing another individual, nor am I promoting any form of physical pain on a person. My revenge experiences were more of a verbal and mind games nature. FROM FILM AND REAL life experiences I have seen a variety of ways people show their revenge. How many movies have we seen where two people in a car are fighting and one of them gets kicked out; at least I have seen this type of scene many times. There was a wedding I attended where during the reception a couple got into this huge shouting match. One of the combatants was making all of these derogatory remarks of a personal nature that made everyone around extremely uncomfortable. The two had to be escorted out of the ballroom. Another example of a person getting revenge can take place with couples in troubled love relationships. Let us say the issue is one of the partners took money out of their joint savings account to buy an extravagant item for themselves. To make up for the loss of funds the other partner may make an outrageous demand that would inflict some type of hardship on the “big spender.” I have always said if communication is not cemented into the foundation of a relationship, the life ahead will always be filled with landmines where feelings will get hurt and people may want to take revenge. The demand made in this biographical drama took everyone involved by surprise. WITH THEIR MARRIAGE IN trouble Deborah and Ron Hall, played by Renee Zellweger (My Own Love Song, My One and Only) and Greg Kinnear (Thin Ice, Flash of Genius), were at a crossroads until Deborah made an unusual demand on her husband. She not only wanted Ron to volunteer at the local food pantry, she wanted him to make friends with a violent, homeless man. Based on a true story this film also starred Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, Gladiator) as Denver and Jon Voight (Woodlawn, Heat) as Earl Hall. The story was unique enough to keep me intrigued throughout the movie. I thought the cast did a good job, adding a certain chemistry of belief to the scenes. What bogged down the story however; was the heavy handedness used to force scenes to their emotional limit. The actual story was amazing, but what the writers and director did with the script was to make this syrupy, cloying emotional heaviness that did not sit well with me. I was not left with angry feelings by the end of the picture; it was more of sadness that such a good story, with a competent cast, was not treated well.
I suppose it depends on one’s definition of evil whether they see evil taking place around them on a regular basis. Just yesterday I read an article in the newspaper about someone putting 12 kittens in a duffel bag and leaving them out on the street in 85 degree heat. Maybe you would not consider this an evil act, but I do. The person who did this could easily have brought the kittens to a shelter. Luckily all the kittens, except for being dehydrated, were okay and are being listed on animal welfare’s adoption list. When I hear news about a hit and run driver the first thing I think about is whether the driver was drunk. If not (though it still is not an excuse) then I do not understand how a person who knows they hit someone can continue driving without stopping to check on the damage they caused to that person. I would say the driver was an evil individual. Since I refer to myself as a defensive pessimist, my first inclination is to focus on the negative aspects of a situation; so someone could call me Mr. Doom and Gloom. But I do not know if that is an accurate description of me. I see evil things all around me, but I do not let them dictate my actions. Hopefully I do not devote my energy to such things; instead I remove myself from people who act out in evil ways. Granted that is something that is not easy to do as you will see in this horror film. SOMETHING was happening to the people around Angela Holmes, played by Olivia Dudley (Transcendence, Chernobyl Diaries). Father Lozano and Vicar Imani, played by Michael Pena (Ant-Man, American Hustle) and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Guardians of the Galaxy), were one of the first to recognize what was happening to Angela. This thriller followed a standard formula for a horror story. I was actually surprised to see Michael and Djimon in this movie because the film really was a “B” maybe “C” type of movie. I could see the actors trying to do something with the low level script but there really was nothing they could do that would have made this picture exciting. Now there were a couple of scenes that had potential, especially because of the way Olivia played her character. She was able to show a different side of herself simply with a subtle change in her facial expressions; it provided a slightly eerie take on the scenes. However due to this type of good vs evil story being done many times before, there was not enough done here to make this film entertaining. Though I consider this movie as being not very good, I think it would be evil if the movie studio decided to make a sequel.
1 2/3 stars