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Flash Movie Review: DC League of Super-Pets

I THINK ABOUT HIS WORDS EVERYTIME I see a dog. We were talking about the pets we had in our lives, when his wife was talking about their current dog. He commented that the dog was his wife’s, which confused me since I knew they both picked out their dog when she was a puppy. I asked him to explain and what he said struck a chord in me. He said he is reminded every day what true devotion looks like when he sees their dog. There was no hint of jealousy or feelings of hurt when he said this; he was more matter of fact as he described the love the dog had for his wife. His wife was a warm and inviting individual, so I could see where the dog would gravitate towards her. She said the dog follows her everywhere in the house and when she is out in the backyard tending her garden, the dog loves to lay in the grass and just watch her as she is pulling weeds or watering. After letting his initial words about the dog’s devotion mull about in my head, I was inclined to agree with him. A dog’s devotion was as pure of a devotion as any because it was totally unconditional. There is nothing but pure love.      IT OCCURRED TO ME ANOTHER FRIEND of mine has a dog who I felt was mean, might simply be acting out of pure devotion. Whenever me or anyone goes over to his house, he must put this dog in its cage, which is kept in a walk-in closet. I thought the dog did not like strangers but having been at the house many times, you would have thought the dog would have known my scent by now. However, my friend told me the dog is extremely protective of him. When no one is around the dog is the most lovable out of all the dogs he has owned. I did not say anything but based on the growling and snapping I have witnessed from this demon dog; I was not completely convinced. My friend told me about the time he was in the hospital for a few days. A relative would bring the dog to the hospital for a visit. When the dog saw its owner in the hospital bed, it jumped up onto it and immediately snuggled into the side of his body. The dog did not move from there; they just remained as if telling my friend everything would be okay. I could not believe it. In fact, I would first believe the dog in this animated film before I trusted my friend’s dog.      WHEN HIS OWNER, WHO WAS SUPERMAN, went missing, it was up to his dog Krypto, voiced by Dwayne Johnson (Black Adam, San Andreas), to round up help and use every power he had to find his owner. With Kevin Hart (Me Time, Central Intelligence) voicing Ace, Kate McKinnon (Rough Night, Bombshell) voicing Lulu, John Krasinski (A Quiet Place franchise, 13 Hours) voicing Superman and Vanessa Bayer (Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, Trainwreck) voicing PB; this action, adventure comedy had a great old school look to it. I thought the cast did a wonderful job voicing the characters. Dwayne and Kevin, who have worked together in the past, had a real chemistry going between them that came across the screen. There was an abundance of humor that was filled with slick comments that the smallest child might not appreciate as much; however, I found them to be fun. The story was good, filled with excitement and thrills, as was the directing. I thought the idea of a superhero having a super pet was a brilliant idea. Watching this movie was an enjoyable experience. I just wish my friend’s dog would take some lessons from the dog in this picture. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.

3 stars 

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Flash Movie Review: Black Adam

I WAS APPREHENSIVE GOING TO THE wedding, but I knew it was the right thing to do. My friend was getting married, and I wanted to be there to share in the festivities. It was not like he asked me to participate in the ceremony or keep an eye on and help an elderly relative; I was one of the wedding guests. The thing that I was concerned about was the fact that except for my friend and his fiancé, I did not know another soul who would be in attendance. I have gone to movies, plays, restaurants and even traveled by myself with no problems. The difference is I am not required to carry on a conversation except for asking someone for directions or a cursory comment or two with the theater patron sitting next to me before the curtain goes up. At a wedding reception, it is a different setting and environment. If it is a sit down, plated event then the guests would be seated at tables. I realize I cannot be the only stranger at the affair, but it is not easy for me to continue a conversation with a table full of strangers. Part of the reason is because there is a hint of high school dynamics involved that reminds me of finding a seat in the school’s cafeteria for lunch. You never know who you might be stuck sitting next to at the table.      THE VENUE WHERE THE RECEPTION WAS being held was beautifully decorated. Place cards were set up on a table close to the entryway. With the table number listed on my card, I walked into the ballroom to find where I was going to sit. Table 11 was situated by the windows; I at least would be able to look out them during the meal for something to do if there was no conversation taking place. Sitting down, I made myself as comfortable as possible while wearing a suit and waited for other guests to join me. It was not too long before a married couple came and sat down across from me. We nodded to each other and said a few pleasantries before a couple of single people walked up to our table. As each person arrived and introduced themselves, I made a mental note to help me try and remember their name easier. Once all the guests had been seated at the table and after we exchanged stories of how each of us knew the wedding couple, I was the only one who did not know any of the invited guests. During the meal I did more observing than talking and I was fine with it. I felt the same way while watching this movie; I did not know any of the characters.      HAVING BEEN ENTOMBED FOR NEARLY 5,000 years, a desperate mother releases him into a world that is no longer familiar to him. It would not take long for him to attract interest from various groups due to his unique abilities. With Dwayne Johnson (Jungle Cruise, Red Notice) as Black Adam, Aldis Hodge (One Night in Miani, Hidden Figures) as Hawkman, Pierce Brosnan (False Positive, The King’s Daughter) as Dr. Fate, Noah Centineo (The Perfect Date, Charlie’s Angels) as Atom Smasher and Sarah Shahi (Bed Therapy, Bullet to the Head) as Adrianna Tomaz; this action, adventure fantasy started out slow for me. Once Dwayne’s character appeared then things picked up for me. My issue with this film is because I have zero knowledge about these superheroes, I felt the writers did not provide enough back story and emotion for each character, so I could find a way to connect with them. They were lifeless except for the occasional joke or gag. The thing I found most annoying was the use of slow motion during the fight scenes. For me, it disrupts the scene and looks cheesy. For the most part, this film felt like an assortment of scenarios just to introduce each superhero. And because there is an important extra scene during the ending credits, the movie studio is hoping they can turn Black Adam into a film franchise.                                       

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Red Notice

IN MY EXTENDED CIRCLE OF FRIENDS and family, there are two people who when together make everyone laugh. When a group of us get together for a meal or a social evening, it doesn’t take these two individuals long to start feeding off each other’s energy. Their humor spans from satire to bawdy to intellectual to silly; I have only seen one person who is faster at a comeback than these two people, Robin Williams. A word of caution is in order; you never want to have food in your mouth when these two go at it, because there is a good chance you might start choking while you are laughing and guffawing. When I am around them, I enjoy listening to the bantering and dialog because in the middle of the comedy aspect there are kernels of truth in their sly remarks. You may have experience in this regard, where you have a friend or relative who says the one thing that others are afraid to say. And that is what I appreciate about these two individuals; using a cliché here, they are not afraid to address the “elephant in the room.” I will say they are masterful in how they can bring up uncomfortable topics in a way that is palatable for those who would not appreciate facing the topic head on.      DURING THE LAUGHTER AND COMMENTS, I may in my mind think of a comment to add to the dialog whizzing around the room. It is all about timing, however; more times than not, I keep the comment to myself because it is too hard to overpower the high-volume level that these two people maintain. What I tend to do is turn off my brain and go along for the ride. It is like a train ride; all I need to do is sit back and enjoy the scenery, in this case the conversations, as it passes by. The thing that impresses me the most is the way the conversations may be repeating items that the group has heard before, but these two individuals are able to present a repeated topic in a new and fresh light with their choice of words. For example, I have heard about this one relative’s long deceased dog for years; yet each time one of these skilled talkers brings up this dog, there is always something added to the story to make it sound like it is the first time I am hearing about this dog. I felt the exact same way about the banter taking place in this action, comedy thriller.      THE WORLD’S GREATEST ART THIEF IS forced to work with a top profiler of the FBI to catch the person who wants to take his title away from him. With Dwayne Johnson (Jungle Cruise, Skyscraper) as John Hartley, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise, Woman in Gold) as Nolan Booth, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman franchise, Keeping Up with the Joneses) as The Bishop, Ritu Arya (Last Christmas, Doctor-TV) as Inspector Urvashi Das and Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges, About a Boy-TV) as Sotto Voce; the story for this movie does not provide anything new from what we have seen in other films. However, the chemistry between the three main stars and the dialog the writers gave them, made this an enjoyable film experience for me. I did not have to think much, just sit back and watch some mindless entertainment. Ryan and Dwayne were doing typical roles suited for themselves; so, it was not a stretch for their acting capabilities. The key to watching this picture is to not have any expectations. Also, if you are fond of witty quips and satire for humor, then this would be a movie for you. 

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Jungle Cruise

I DO NOT KNOW WHY, BUT adventure thrills are always better when they get shared with someone. Isn’t it true? There is something about experiencing a new thrill that resonates stronger when you have someone come along for the ride. I remember when a group of us went to a new amusement park that had a water ride mimicking white water rafting. We all piled into this circular, inflated yellow raft with a type of steering apparatus in the center. When the park attendant pushed us out of the holding dock, we started out on calm waters. However, it changed rather quickly when we went down an embankment and into this pool of churning water that swept us quickly down the course a/k/a churning river. All of us held onto the steering wheel as we hooted and hollered with all the jostling and bumping the raft was enduring. Sprays of water doused us periodically, keeping us cool in the hot summer sun. As we neared the end of the ride there was a steeper “waterfall” we had to endure. It was a bit tense at first as the water under the raft picked up speed then dropped us into the waterfall, which was an adrenalin rush for me. At the bottom of the falls, the raft quietly floated over to a receiving dock area where park attendants were helping people get out of their rafts. It was one of the best water rides I experienced, and I was glad I did it with my friends.      DESPITE HAVING TAKEN MANY LONG WEEKEND trips alone, when I go with friends and family members, there always seems to be an adventure we wind up sharing. Recently in San Diego a couple of us rented a pedal boat to take out into San Diego Bay. We were fine while in the marina because it was smooth and calm as we leisurely pedaled up and down rows of piers and docks. However, when we got out into the bay the water turned choppy with a stronger current underneath. We had to pedal faster as the boat bobbed up and down. Our time out there did not last long as we looked at each other at the same time and said we made it out and now it is time to go back where things are calmer. Once out of the bay we laughed about it since we had these grand plans to go down the coast to see the sights. It still was a great experience that I was glad to be sharing with someone close. I felt the main characters in this fantasy film were experiencing a similar situation to mine, which I enjoyed watching.      HER FATHER BELIEVED IT WAS TRUE; so, Dr. Lily Houghton, played by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place franchise, Mary Poppins Returns), was determined to find this special plant reported only to be found deep in the Amazon jungle. With Dwayne Johnson (Red Notice, Skyscraper) as Frank Wolff, Edgar Ramirez (Deliver Us from Evil, Point Break) as Aguirre, Jack Whitehall (Mother’s Day, Clifford the Big Red Dog) as MacGregor Houghton and Jessie Plemons (The Irishman, The Power of the Dog) as Prince Joachim; this action, adventure comedy was saved by the performances of Dwayne and Emily. I would not put them in the same category as Abbott & Costello or Burns and Allen, but they certainly were a fun couple to watch on the big screen. The script was rather generic as it pulled in ideas from a variety of movie stories such as The Mummy, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pirates of the Caribbean among others. This was simply a fluffy fantasy film that was easy to view without a lot of thought to it. I am sure if the movie studio made money on this picture, they will then try to do a sequel. If they do, I just hope they get a better story line and script, besides having Emily and Dwayne starring in it.

1/2 stars

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Jumanji: The Next Level

GOING THROUGH MY HOUSE TO FIND items I could donate, I discovered a couple of toys hidden behind some blankets up on a closet shelf. I needed a stepstool to help me retrieve them from the back of the shelf. It had been years since I saw these toys, but I immediately recognized them. One toy was a construction set or to be more accurate a combination of several sets. The set contained miniature metal beams/girders ranging in length from 3 to 8 inches long. There were a variety of screws, washers and nuts to use to attach the girders to build something out of them. I loved playing with this toy when I was a kid. Anytime I had free time, I would place all the set’s pieces in the middle of the living room floor, then start pulling different items and shapes together to build something. I never followed a plan; instead, I would use my imagination to build things from castles to forts to parking garages. In fact, one of the things I made came out so well I was able to submit it into my elementary school’s science fair. It was picked to go on display in the school library for a month.      THE OTHER TOY ON THE SHELF was the game of Scrabble. This was one of my favorite games for years. Even if I could not find someone to play with, I would play by myself by forming words on the gameboard with the wooden tiles I picked from a pile I created inside the game’s box top. I found a chair to sit on so I could open this ancient game that had been in my family before I was born. The box was so old that 2 corners of the top lid were worn away, where the sides hung down loosely like airplane flaps. I rubbed my hand over the tiles, feeling the memory of them refresh in my mind. The wooden tile holders the players would use were lined up on one side of the box; I removed one and noticed for the first time it looked like molding from the ceiling of a room. Out of all the tiles there was one that had a darker shade to it; it was the free letter tile. I randomly turned over a tile and discovered I picked the dreaded Q tile that was worth 10 points. It was great if one could use it, but I hated that tile if I got stuck with it at the end of the game. So many memories of past games I played flooded my mind, I had to take a break and sit down to play a game with myself. Certain games have a magical pull on us, like the one in this action, adventure comedy.      THOUGH THEY VOWED NEVER TO PLAY the game again, a group of friends had no choice but to play it if they wanted to save their missing friend. With Dwayne Johnson (Skyscraper, Fast & Furious franchise) as Eddie, Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, The Circle) as Martha, Jack Black (Margot at the Wedding, The House with a  Clock in its Walls) as Bethany/Fridge, Kevin Hart (Night School, The Upside) as Mouse Finbar/Fridge and Awkafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell) as Ming; this sequel showed the cast having a good time with their characters. The story was a bit confusing with its multiple story lines and changing characters; however, with all the fantasy things happening I was not bothered by it. The special effects were fun and exciting as well as the humor was consistent with the previous film. It took a little time before I became interested in the story; I felt the script dragged in the beginning because I enjoyed the last half of the movie better than the first. Despite a couple of things not making sense and the feeling of déjà vu I was experiencing, this was light fare to sit through this holiday season. There was an extra scene early in the ending credits.

 

2 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

I QUICKLY GOT USED TO THE DIFFERENT personalities on staff, but I was not prepared for the conflict that arose between my supervisor and me. The fitness instructors were an eclectic group of individuals. One person was a heavy smoker; her voice was deep and gravelly. I always knew when she had recently taught a class in the fitness studio because the room reeked of nicotine and tobacco odors. It must have poured out of her when she was sweating. Another instructor was a clothes horse; she never wore the same outfit twice as far as I could tell. Since this was one of the first jobs I had gotten regarding fitness, I was hyper-aware of everyone and everything in the fitness club. Every bit of information I could gain would only benefit me was my assumption. It was difficult for me to feel comfortable at the fitness center after having flunked gym class twice in school. I had a mindset where I felt I was not capable of leading a fitness class and imagining the members would call me out as a fraud. As it turned out my past experiences became a huge asset for me. Members could relate to my struggles with weight, peer pressure and other food related stories because I would share them with the class.      AS MY POPULARITY ROSE AND CLASS sizes increased, I became comfortable in my role as a fitness instructor. However, what I did not expect was to get pushback from my supervisor. She would catch me after class sometimes to tell me I should be doing “such and such” differently or I needed to follow a procedure different from what I was told originally. I took her help as advice to help me be a better instructor; however, it turned out not to be the case. Having started with only a couple of classes at the fitness center, I soon wound up teaching 13 classes a week. Considering I had flunked PE twice in school; I was in heaven. I loved teaching classes besides the big benefit of controlling my weight. As the weeks passed by a couple of members would come up to me after class to tell me about unfavorable comments, they heard my supervisor say about me. I was stunned to say the least. Instead of being adult in my thinking, I said disparaging things about her. This became a vicious cycle of back and forth until the program director called both of us into his office. Looking back now, I could have handled the whole situation a different way instead of the negative comments back and forth. I am embarrassed to say I saw a little of myself in the main characters of this action, adventure movie.      HAVING HAD RUN-INS BEFORE WITH EACH other, the last thing Luke Hobbs and Deckard Show, played by Dwayne Johnson (Skyscraper, Central Intelligence) and Jason Statham (The Meg, Spy), wanted to do was work together on an assignment. They had no choice if they wanted to save the world. This film also starred Idris Elba (The Mountain Between Us, Luther-TV) as Brixton, Vanessa Kirby (About Time, The Crown-TV) as Hattie and Helen Mirren (Anna, The Leisure Seeker) as Queenie. The action and fight scenes were pretty much the stars of this picture. Though I enjoyed both Dwayne and Jason with their smack talk, it started to get old for me after a while. My favorite actor, which surprised me, was Vanessa Kirby; I thought she had the most depth as a character plus her fight moves were amazing. Helen, of course, was fun but there was not enough of her in the story. As for the story and script, they were both weak and flimsy. The dialog was embarrassing at times. It was simply made to provide Jason and Dwayne with a road to follow; they provided the landscape. If you are up for mindless fun, then this movie would be fine to see at the theater; but, if you want something more, then hold off for a more intense or better written story. There were a couple of extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.

 

2 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Fighting with My Family

I GRANT YOU, THEY DID LOOK somewhat odd to me. They had moved into the neighborhood during my 4th year of elementary school. The house the family had purchased was a 2-story wood frame with a large wrap around front porch. I remember when they painted that porch because some of the neighbors were put off by it; the family painted it a pine green color. I never really understood why some people were upset. The only thing I could think of was maybe it was because all the other porches on the street were either unpainted or painted in 1 of 2 colors, either white or brown. There were 7 family members: 2 parents and 5 children. All the kids looked alike and looked like their mother. They each had the same color hair; the girls had the same style of haircut just as the boys shared the same. Each child wore the same style of glasses, perched the same way on their noses. Their teeth were oversized to the point where it looked like they could not close their mouth all the way. Some of the kids in the neighborhood referred to them as Bugs Bunny. To finish up their identical look, they all wore the same style and color of clothing.      PERSONALLY, THEM NOT BEING ENROLLED IN the neighborhood school added to their perceived strangeness. But despite that, the siblings never came out to play with any of the other kids in the neighborhood. I would see them in their backyard at times when I would cut through the alley to a friend’s house. They would be huddled around some object; I could not tell if it was a toy or some type of device. Other times I would see them spread apart, each doing their own thing like reading or exercising and when I say exercising I mean jumping jacks or sit-ups, some type of calisthenic activity. Keeping to themselves and all looking the same just made people feel uncomfortable. Without getting to know them, rumors started to pop-up in the neighborhood, such as they were a medical experiment, or they were doing something illegal. And of course, the kids in the neighborhood started whispering different remarks about them being inbred and mentally challenged. It was not until I was in college that I discovered via the local newspaper that the parents were scientists and each child was excelling in their schooling, from being PhD candidates to mathematical whizzes. I was shocked; on the surface they may have been odd, but they certainly had already achieved more than many of the families in the neighborhood. The family in this biographical, comedic drama might seem odd to you but wait until you see what they do.      PASSIONATE ABOUT WRESTLING RICKY AND JULIA Knight, played by Nick Frost (The World’s End, Paul) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones-TV, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), taught their children everything they knew. However, when a once in a lifetime chance became available would their hard work pay off? This movie’s story followed a typical theme; but, the script provided some fresh takes on it. With Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth, The Commuter) as Saraya Knight, Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots, Dunkirk) as Zak Knight and Vince Vaughn (Couples Retreat, The Break-Up) as Hutch; I thought the acting really sold the story, especially Florence’s and Jack’s. For me, Vince was the only one that I did not connect with since he was doing his same type of character that I have seen before. There were fun moments in this picture that kept the story from sputtering out. What added to my enjoyment was seeing clips of the actual Knights at the end of the film. One may think they are an odd bunch, but I salute them for finding something they can be passionate about and holding out for their dream.

 

3 stars            

Flash Movie Review: Skyscraper

NONE OF US HAD ANY IDEA we were playing a board game based on a famous person. All we cared about was that mouse. We loved building elaborate traps for the mice pieces, the wilder the better. Something about the game reminded me of a toy that was always on display in the toy section of this department store I used to go to when I was small. It was 5 metal balls hanging down from a boxed frame. When you swung out one of the balls on the end and released it, it would swing down and smack into the next ball. This would cause the ball on the opposite end to swing out even though the middle balls remained still. I was so fascinated with this toy that I would get lost into it and forget to look at any of the other toys in the department. This board game had a similar effect on me; I could play and replay the game over and over, hoping to make the mouse trap more sophisticated. The game was created or influenced by a man named Rube Goldberg. He was an American engineer, inventor and cartoonist.     WHAT RUBE GOLDBERG DID WAS create complicated contraptions to do simple tasks. One of his earliest ones was a machine that wipes a napkin across the mouth. With a series of pulleys, levers and switches among a variety of other items he would come up with these bizarre and crazy machines. Essentially, he was turning something easy into something complicated for our amusement. There has been a plethora of things inspired by Rube’s creations. I saw this massive art work at the contemporary art museum that was perpetually moving; watching a golf ball travel around this course, setting off a chain reaction of events that caused bells and whistles to play. It was fanciful and fun. There is something similar that was installed in one of the airplane terminals at Boston’s airport. Now do these things serve a purpose? In a practical sense no, not really; however, they provide us with entertainment. For example, it is simpler to put a kettle on the stove for a cup of tea. But how amusing would it be if you could do one simple act and watch a chain reaction of events take over to accomplish the same task? Is it silly? Yes, and it might even be a light distraction. If you want you can experience something like it by watching this action, crime drama.      WITH HIS FAMILY TRAPPED ON the upper floors of a burning skyscraper U.S. veteran Will Sawyer, played by Dwayne Johnson (Rampage, Central Intelligence), would have to find a way in to save them, despite being chased by the police who think he started the fire. With Neve Campbell (Scream franchise, House of Cards-TV) as Sarah Sawyer, Pablo Schreiber (Den of Thieves, 13 Hours) as Ben, Chin Han (Ghost in the Shell, The Dark Knight) as Zhao Long Ji and Noah Taylor (Almost Famous, Shine) as Mr. Pierce; this story played out like that mouse game. Though I usually enjoy Dwayne’s roles, this one seemed repetitive to the point I felt he was being typecast. The entire script seemed as if it were put together piecemeal; while Dwayne had to jump from one challenge to another. Boredom set in for me and for the last ½ of the film I sat in my seat wishing the writers would have given Neve more things to do; she was the bright spot in this disaster film. If the writers had asked me I would have told them to have Neve and Dwayne do more things together because as a team they would be more interesting. This was light entertainment that soon flamed out for me.

 

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Rampage

THERE WAS AN EERIE GLOW throughout most of the apartment. It was not caused by sunlight or incandescent lightbulbs; the only way I could describe the color, was to say it was a cross between bright fluorescent with bright neon greenish white. We were picking up a friend’s friend at their house which none of us had seen and our friend never warned us. As all of us entered the apartment I noticed an aquarium in one corner with the source of the erie glow perched above it. As it turned out almost every room had 1 to 3 aquariums set up with the same type of light. I did not recall fish tanks having a light above them, but I never had fish for pets. However these fish tanks had no water in them and the top parts were covered with a heavy metal mesh. One of my friends asked about the aquariums. It turned out they were not empty but each of them held a snake. I am not talking worm size or small garden variety; they were jungle sized snakes. I have only seen these type of snakes in a zoo or adventure/horror film.      THE OWNER OF THESE SNAKES had them as pets. Pets, I wondered; did he actually take them out and pet them? I was never a fan of snakes and I got creeped out when the owner took one of his snakes out and draped it around his shoulders. A couple of my friends petted the reptile when offered, but I declined. I had to admit I had a bad attitude about all of it, but as the owner explained his reasons and fascination with snakes I realized I had no right to judge him on his choice of pets. When I thought about it more, I came to the conclusion what really is the difference between having fish or snakes as pets? They are not for me but if they provide comfort to someone else, so be it. For many people pets are part of their family. Animals provide unconditional love, affection and even emotional attachments. Some pets are more like family to us than our own relatives. It certainly was obvious in this action, adventure science fiction film.      AS THE GORILLA HE RAISED from infancy was growing in unheard of speed and massive height Dave Okoye, played by Dwayne Johnson (Baywatch, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), would not give up on his friend; even as everyone around was becoming frightened. With Naomie Harris (Moonlight, Skyfall) as Dr. Kate Caldwell, Malin Ackerman (Watchmen, 27 Dresses) as Claire Wyden, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Red Dawn, The Losers) as Harvey Russell and Jake Lacy (Miss Sloane, Obvious Child) as Brett Wyden; the first thing I have to say is this: there is no way one cannot like Dwayne Johnson. In this role he fits right into his comfort zone of acting. I have seen this exact style in his recent films and I hope he starts mixing it up a bit. Granted I believe he knows his capabilities and limitations, so picks projects that suits his acting abilities. In this big production of special effects set in Chicago, the story had some holes in it as well as the script. I thought the dialog was childish at times and felt the movie was cartoonish. However I was not put off by it because I liked the special effects. This is the type of picture I call a “popcorn film;” one where you do not have to think much, just sit back and watch it. If one can watch “stupid pet tricks” then they will have no problem with this movie.

 

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Jumanji

AS WE WERE LEAD to our table I looked out across the dining room and saw miniature lighthouses at a majority of the tables. The glow I was seeing came from the electronic devices being used at these tables; with the users being adolescents and young children. Some had tablets, others had phones; but they all looked like they were drugged as they were staring at their glowing screens. There were no interactions being initiated by others sitting at each of their tables. Some of the little ones looked as if they were hypnotized; they were so absorbed by the antics taking place on their devices. I totally understand parents wanting to keep their children occupied during a meal out at a restaurant. Honestly who wants to be the parents of a crying child in a public place? But as I looked at these kids I had to wonder how they interact with other children?     GRANTED I AM NOT current with the types of video/electronic games children play with these days, but I have heard kids will play with their friends without ever leaving their house. It is some type of video game where you log on as a player and play with a friend across the street or across the country. My electronic days took place when Space Invaders and Centipede were the top games, so I am ignorant when it comes to current activities. And you know that is okay by me. I would not trade the times I sat on the living room floor playing board games with my friends. There was one game where you had to negotiate with your opponent, buying and selling parcels of land like a realtor. To this day I still love the game Scrabble or do not laugh, playing charades. There was nothing like a rainy day to be at a friend’s house playing games, stopping for a snack then returning afterwards to finish up and see who would win. Though each of us was competitive, we knew better than to gloat excessively if we were the winner because there was no guarantee you could win the next time. Looking back at those times I realize playing together face to face was a bonding experience and the perfect introduction to teamwork. The same could be said for this action, comedy adventure.     FORCED TO CLEAN OUT a storage room for detention, four high school students discover an old video game they decide to play. They would soon discover they had to win at it if they wanted to stay alive. This enjoyable film starred Dwayne Johnson (Baywatch, San Andreas) as Spencer, Kevin Hart (The Wedding Ringer, Central Intelligence) as Fridge, Jack Black (King Kong, Bernie) as Bethany, and Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Doctor Who-TV) as Martha. There is no getting around the fact that Dwayne has an easy appeal that draws the viewers into any of his characters. With this role he was the perfect choice to play this physically strong, brawny type who was easily scared. Jack Black did a wonderful job as Bethany; the self absorbed, selfie taking high schooler. The director did a great job to keep the pacing on track throughout the story. This fun movie would be enjoyable for the whole family; the villains were more of the creepy type instead of the bloody, scary kind if that makes any sense. I would classify this type of picture as a good escape film; it was made to be humorous and fun. In addition I enjoyed the message of teamwork and as a bonus got to reminisce about the games I used to play when I was younger.

 

3 stars

 

 

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