There are various apps and computer programs that can show us an older or younger version of ourselves. In fact I read somehwere optical stores use a program that shows the customer how they will look wearing the frames they picked out before they order new glasses, which I think is a brilliant idea. I know I do not need a program to remind me how I looked when I was younger; I have childhood friends who remind me. Funny thing though I can do the same thing to them. Depending on what they may be wearing or the situation, I can look at them and see them when they had a full head of hair or when they were taller with a straighter posture. Having spent most of our lives together we may not have noticed the aging process compared to someone who has not seen any of us in let us say a decade or longer. I truly feel fortunate that there are people around me who know me sometimes better than I know myself. They are like road markers on my life’s journey, who can confirm or remind me of the changes that have taken place in me. Looking at the younger generation in each of our families, we can spot the seeds of lifelong friendships forming between relatives and friends. Some of the qualities that are associated to a strong bond between friends can be sensitivity, empathy, non-judgemental and concern. I can say anything to any of my close friends and know I will not be judged or ridiculed. Those challenges or what some people say curveballs that life throws you do not seem so insurmountable when there is a childhood friend standing by your side. LIFELONG friends Jess and Milly, played by Drew Barrymore (Whip It, Music and Lyrics) and Toni Collette (The Way Way Back, Little Miss Sunshine), have been there for each other no matter what was going on in each of their lives. Their relationship was about to be challenged when two events started to take place from opposite sides of the spectrum. This comedic drama was fortunate in the casting of Toni and Drew as best friends because they were totally believable in their roles. Even the supporting cast of Dominic Cooper (Need for Speed, The Devil’s Double) as Kit and Paddy Considine (In America, Cinderella Man) as Jago was exceptional. I appreciated the honesty in the script; some events were handled in a way that made them easily relatable for the viewers. There were parts where I felt the writers dropped the ball to just manipulate us, however. I almost want to say to force us to tear up; but the acting smoothed some of that out. There have been a couple of recent films that had a similar story line that was better done; however, the acting here was the sweet spot of this romantic emotional story. It would not be a surprise if after seeing this film you felt like you were part of the women’s friendship.
2 1/2 stars
Sometimes I wish I could have seen the earlier years of a person I have known or recently met. An individual, no matter how hard they have tried, will still act out a particular way based on past interactions from their life. I am sure all of us have had times where we silently wondered why a person was acting a certain way. It could be something as benign as not liking candles or as wicked as mercilessly teasing a cat or dog. I knew someone who rarely gave an opinion about anything. Being asked where they wanted to eat or what movie to see, they could not voice their thoughts, only say whatever or it did not matter. It wasn’t until I happened to meet their parent that I finally saw the reason why they were acting that way. The parent was overbearing and quick to belittle their child. My curiosity goes beyond people in the present; I would enjoy finding out what transpired with historical people, like Napoleon or Catherine the Great, that influenced or molded them that has not been told in our history books. Purely for entertainment value, I find taking liberties with a known character or actual person an acceptable form; look at the success of Wicked, the story about how the Wicked Witch of the West came to be. VLAD III dubbed Vlad the Impaler, played by Luke Evans (Immortals, Fast & Furious III), was an ideal candidate to use to create an action fantasy backstory. Protective of his family and subjects, not wanting to see the children of his kingdom experience what he had as a child, Vlad would have to look beyond his kingdom if he was going to repel the Sultan Mehmed, played by Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double, Need for Speed). His search would lead to a force that could even overpower him. The idea for this dramatic story was appealing to me and I found the opening scenes compelling. Joining Luke and Dominic was Charles Dance (Game of Thrones-TV, Gosford Park) as Master Vampire; all three had a strong screen presence. The special effects were not the greatest but were darkly fun to watch. With a good start it was all the more disappointing that the script got sillier and sillier as the film progressed. Seriously, I was stunned that the writers thought the idea of a blindfolded army going into battle was a good idea. Add in the trendy haircut for Dominic’s character Mehmed and this was a movie sorely lacking the guts for a great backstory. There were multiple scenes that had blood and violence.
1 3/4 stars
If you would have asked me several years ago if I was a vengeful person I would have said yes. It was not something that made me proud, especially since I was not mature about it, letting it flame out of me as a way to cover up my hurt feelings. An example would be if someone broke my trust; I would want to hurt them as much as I felt they hurt me. I cannot say there was one thing that triggered a change in me; maybe the realization I no longer wanted to give my energy away to someone who did not deserve it. Instead of going into attack mode I can now express my feelings and if need be walk away while not giving that individual another thought. This would not be the case if I felt I needed to right a wrong, however. Being a big believer in actions speaking louder than words, I could not fault the main character in this action drama from righting a wrong done to him. Aaron Paul (The Last House on the Left, Breaking Bad-TV) played Tobey Marshall. After being sent to prison for a crime he did not commit, Tobey would ride across the country to enter a racing contest just so he could compete against the man who had set him up. Based on the popular video game, the main stars of this crime film were the automobiles. Aaron who twice won an Emmy for his performance in Breaking Bad was horrible as the leading character. Topping his poor performance was an actor I have had high regard for, Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Due, The Duchess) who played racing car driver Dino Brewster. Not all the fault should be placed on them because the script and direction were the real problems that made this a dull film. Though the driving and racing scenes were good and well orchestrated, I thought the driving was better in the Fast & Furious movie franchise. Imogen Poots (That Awkward Moment, Fright Night) as Julia Maddon and Michael Keaton (RoboCop, First Daughter) as Monarch had more life in their characters, though Michael seemed to be channeling his Beetlejuice character a bit. As an overall movie watching experience, I always cheer for the underdog character and like to see justice being served; but when the cars are acting better than the cast, I felt this film was a quart low in being entertaining. I also want to add there is no reason to see this film in 3D. An extra scene can be seen after the short first set of credits at the end of the film.
1 3/4 stars
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
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