THE SILENCE WAS BROKEN BY A cough. I kept talking as I was taking the yoga class into a guided meditation. Another cough pierced the room and then another one. Though I had turned the lights off in the room, I turned towards where I had heard the coughing. There was enough moonlight shining through the windows, so I could see one of the class participant’s stomach bounce from the exertion to cough. Usually a member coughing during this portion of the class would sit up from their reclined position and get a drink of water; but this member remained on her back while coughing. I could tell the class had lost its way towards relaxation and I needed to find out what was going on with the member. As I walked over, the person lying next to her rolled closer towards the coughing person and asked what was wrong. The person replied she did not feel well and as if on cue, began making noises as if she was about to vomit. Before I could tell someone to go get help, the person who had rolled over, took their towel and placed it under the coughing person’s mouth as she rolled to her side and emitted a chocking sound. I could not see what came out of their mouth but as they sat up, I heard them say they felt better. When I said I would call for help, the helpful person said not to bother; everything should be ok now. I asked why and she said her mother ate a cheeseburger right before coming to yoga class. IT HAS BEEN SEVERAL YEARS, BUT I cannot get that memory out of my head. When the daughter told me about the cheeseburger, I wanted to ask the mother what she was thinking!?!? However, I had to maintain my composure and only say it appears that was not a good choice to make. I do my best not to dwell on the “bad” memories because honestly, there are so many “good” memories I have acquired through the years of teaching yoga. There was the elderly woman with amazing flexibility, who came up to thank me after class and tell me she was celebrating her 85thbirthday. Another good memory was the man who came to class with these negative preconceived notions of what takes place in a yoga class, only to discover he was not only far off base, but he loved it and became a regular participant. The way my brain is wired, I not only can remember what took place in class, I can tell you where the individual was standing in the room and what they were wearing. The mind is such an amazing organ. If you are interested, you can see what the mind can do in this action thriller. FOR YEARS EVAN McMAULEY, PLAYED BY Mark Wahlberg (Joe Bell, Instant Family), thought something was wrong with him because of all the crazy thoughts he would get. That thinking started to change for him when he met someone who had their own “crazy” thoughts. With Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) as Bathurst 2020, Sophie Cookson (Kingsman franchise, Red Joan) as Nora Brightman, Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner franchise, Love and Monsters) as Treadway and Jason Mantzoukas (The Dictator, They Came Together) as Artisan; this science fiction film had an interesting premise for the story line. Unfortunately, that idea never expanded out to create a worthwhile picture. The script was confusing, the acting was stiff, and the action scenes were uneven. Mark played one of his typical characters; I never felt like I connected to it. The oddest part of this movie was the evil character’s motivation. I found it made little sense which added to the lackluster performances. It also seemed as if the writers left room to create a sequel. My suggestion would be to take a pass on this movie because I do not think my memories of it will go away easily.
1 2/3 stars
PEOPLE REFER TO THEM AS their posse, entourage, gal pals, buddies or a variety of other descriptions. I describe them as my circle of friends or inner circle. These are your group of friends you are close with, who you hang out with the most. There is a small group of friends I have a standing date with where we all get together once every three months. We might get together individually or for some special event between the dates, but we at least know we are guaranteed of seeing each other at a set point in time. However you refer to your friends we all experience something in common and that is what I refer to as an easy comfort. When I am with my group of friends we rarely have to explain our actions or feelings about something because all of us know immediately how each one of us would react in a situation. I find this communication shorthand, if you will, keeps the special bond we feel between us on even keel. THE SAME CAN BE SAID about your coworkers who share that same connection you do with them. In fact I recently read a statistic that was surprising for me: 56% of employees say they would turn down a better job offer because they did not want to leave their “work family.” Don’t you find that statistic interesting? I know for some of us we spend more time with our “work family” than our actual one. Now one thing I have noticed in common between the “work family” and your group of friends is how it doesn’t work the same when someone is not there. The analogy I use is that it feels like a three legged stool with a leg missing. There is a certain type of energy a close group of friends or coworkers feel among themselves that assists in keeping the bonds between everyone strong. When one person is missing it can throw the rest of the group off. If you need to see proof, feel free to see the last of this film’s franchise. IF THOMAS, PLAYED BY Dylan O’Brien (Deepwater Horizon, Teen Wolf), and his friends wanted to get back their friend Minho, played by Ki Hong Lee (Wish Upon, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-TV), they would have to enter into one of the most dangerous mazes they have ever encountered. Chances were they still might not all get back together. This action, science fiction thriller also starred Kaya Scodelario (Now is Good, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) as Teresa, Thomas Brodie Sangster (Love Actually, Nanny McPhee) as Newt and Aidan Gillen (The Lovers, Game of Thrones-TV) as Janson. Having seen the 2 previous installments I found this one was packed with a lot of action scenes. On the one hand I appreciated the fact the movie studio did not decide to split this story into 2 separate films, but this movie still was overstuffed in my opinion. It needed some editing to reduce the 2 hour and 20 minute running time. Another issue I had was the action scenes; after the intense first one, the others did not quite match in intensity. However the story did its part to keep me interested for the most part, though when there were “gun battles” I was amazed how the “bad” guys were incredibly bad shots. After watching this picture it occurred to me I did not feel I was part of the characters’ inner circle; I was more of an acquaintance.
2 ½ stars
I DID NOT think my question was that unusual or demanded too much from the sales clerk. If you could have seen their face you would have thought I had just asked something outrageous or personal. All I wanted to know was if the shirt’s material tended to shrink. Besides the “dirty” look and the condescending way they answered me, they did not even bother to look at me in the face. I wanted to tell them if they were that miserable at their job, maybe they should consider changing careers. Now in the past I would have taken that response personally and snapped back something nasty to say to them. To tell you the truth I took most things personally back then. DUE TO THE events I experienced in my earlier days I was wary of most people. My mind would quickly go into attack mode whenever I had an exchange of some kind with a stranger. They could have been a volunteer soliciting signatures or a lost tourist, it did not matter; I would be distrustful of the individual until I saw or could ascertain they were not going to hurt me in some way. I am not exactly sure when I started softening my attitude and not taking things personally, but I think it was during a time I was being fixed up on several blind dates. It did not take me long into the conversation to realize whether the person was interested in me or not. Granted some people showed their disinterest easier than others; but even the ones that kept up a good facade, did not cause me to react negatively. I realized that everyone has likes and dislikes, trigger points that set them off and none of it should be looked at as a good or bad thing. Their qualifications or agenda was not a personal attack on me; I just did not fit into what they were looking for. In a way one could say it was just business. AFTER SURVIVING A terrorist attack while on vacation Mitch Rapp, played by Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner franchise, Teen Wolf-TV), could not think of anything else after that date but to hunt down the terrorists. It was something the CIA was doing also. This action thriller also starred Michael Keaton (The Founder, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Stan Hurley, Sanaa Lathan (Out of Time, The Best Man Holiday) as Irene Kennedy, Taylor Kitsch (Lone Survivor, Friday Night Lights-TV) as Ghost and Shiva Negar (The Art of More-TV, My Babysitter’s a Vampire-TV) as Annika. The highlight of this film was Michael Keaton; he was the most believable out of the cast. I do not know if Dylan was miscast but he did not have much range with his acting and I am afraid to say did not have the physical presence to pull off his character. With decent fight and action scenes the script could not carry the story; there were several situations that did not ring true for me. In addition the story was not only predictable but the premise for it was cheesy and weak in my opinion. A couple of therapy sessions prior to developing this film would have been money well spent.
I have from time to time run across advertisements that sold me on their product. Off to the store I would go to seek it out, where I found it looked like the item in the ad but it was not exactly the same. Where the picture showed a metal ring around the item, in person it was silver colored plastic; I realized it could easily break after several uses. Some people would say this was a deceptive advertisement; the picture and description did not focus on this certain part, letting the consumer come to their own conclusions. It is all marketing and I understand it; I guess you can say I almost expect it. If I think about it I am sure this type of example has played a part in my cautious or suspicious nature when it comes to dealing with any type of business. In my personal life I tend to trust a person until they prove me wrong, but when it comes to companies and corporations I go with the cliche, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is not true.” I try not letting this mentality infiltrate into my personal dealings with individuals, but after being “burned” a few times it is hard to remain open and trusting of people who have not yet had enough history built between us. As far as I am concerned trust is something that needs to be earned, just ask the main character in this action thriller. AFTER surviving the maze Thomas, Minho, Teresa; played by Dylan O’Brien (The First Time, Teen Wolf-TV), Ki Hong Lee (The Stanford Prison Experiment, Everything Before Us) and Kaya Scodelario (The Truth About Emanuel, Moon), along with the rest of their group may have finally found some relief thanks to Janson, played by Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones-TV, Blitz), the man in charge of the security complex where they have been ensconced for their protection. It was almost too good to be true. The 2nd installment of the science fiction series had more action than the first one. The multiple chase scenes were somewhat exciting but I did grow tired after so many of them. I wanted more scenes with Patricia Clarkson (Learning to Drive, Friends with Benefits) as Ava Paige and Aiden Gillen because not only were they a good choice for their characters, they could easily handle the acting requirements since they are so seasoned. If you did not see the first film this one would be a bit confusing to you; I saw it and I still felt lost a couple of times. The script was the culprit because there was essentially no time for character development since the action was ramped up so much. I did not feel connected to this picture and wondered how closely it followed the book. It makes me wonder how much one can believe in the marketing campaign for this film.
2 1/4 stars
One possible spoiler alert near the end of this review.
As infants most of us I believe asked that perpetual favorite question at any nearby adult, “Why?” I bet some of you thought I was going to say, “Are we there yet?” As young children, with a world of unexplained phenomenons taking place around us, our inquisitive minds questioned everything. When I was a kid I had a curious fascination with many of my toys; I always wanted to know how they worked. After playing with them for a short time I would try to take them apart to see what was inside that made the toys do what they did. The problem with this was I could never put the toys back together, so I quickly learned to suppress my curiosity if I wanted to keep playing with my toys. This may have been the very beginning where I slowly lost my inquisitive nature and began to take everything at face value. As an adult I tend to be more suspicious of things than curious; this possibly developed from my environment than my nature. But when I look at the people around me, the majority of them are similar in their lack of curiosity. I wonder if it has to do with that mindset of “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it?” CURIOSITY wasn’t the only thing missing from the boys who found themselves in the middle of a maze; they had no memory of their past except for their name. Things would begin to change once Thomas, played by Dylan O’Brien (The Internship, Teen Wolf-TV), showed up. Though he could not remember his past, he was not satisfied with the boys around him who did not question the things happening around them. Based on the novel by James Dashner, this action mystery had a gloomy dark dread to its story. I thought the actors were well cast for this film. Besides Dylan, I also admired Aml Ameen (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Evidence) as Alby and Will Poulter (We’re the Millers) as Gally. I am not sure if it was intentional but I felt the story had a “Lord of the Flies” flavor to it. Surprisingly I found myself becoming anxious during the movie as the story became more intense. The special effects were good which helped make the action scenes even that more tightly wound up. Seeing this film without any knowledge of the book, I found the story had a bit of predictability to it. My major complaint had to do with the ending. For me it was unsatisfying; I prefer every movie being able to stand up on its own. In this case, a sequel is needed to figure out what had just happened. The big question is whether moviegoers are that curious.
2 2/3 stars