I FOUND SOMEONE I COULD RELATE to and it was an elephant. Don’t laugh; this little elephant was a character I not only could sympathize with but identify with because of what he was going through in his young life. It was on a Saturday and I remember we took the train down into the city. A theater there was doing a weekend showing of the animated movie Dumbo. As we walked around the corner and I saw the movie theater, I got upset because of all the people lined up trying to get into the theater. I thought for sure all the tickets would be sold before we got up to the box office. By downtown standards this theater was one of the smaller ones which was part of the reason for my fears. All I knew about this little elephant was its ability to fly and I desperately wanted to see it for myself. Flying was something I dreamt about and was hoping I could learn something from Dumbo. As you can see at a young age I was already heavy into fantasy, looking to create a different reality around me. I could not stop fidgeting as we slowly made our way up to the box office. WITH TICKETS IN HAND WE FOUND seats in the theater; I could not have been more excited. When Dumbo was being made fun of, I felt his pain. I was overweight and endured similar name calling. If I could I would have jumped into the screen to defend Dumbo and let him know he was not alone. I was visibly upset as I sat in my seat. And then suddenly, my sadness and pain disappeared in a puff of air, that I felt from Dumbo’s large ears when they flapped to give him flight for the first time. Seeing that little elephant rise up into the air was pure magic for me. I was told I had big ears, so I wondered if it was at all possible I could teach myself to use my ears along with my flapping arms to allow me to lift off the ground. There in that movie theater I had found someone like me; I wanted to do everything Dumbo could do. If I was ever afraid or uncomfortable I could simply fly away from the situation, soar above any of the pain or name calling I was experiencing. After all these years, I now have the opportunity to see my flying friend once again in this live action, fantasy film. WHEN CIRCUS OWNER MAX MEDICI, PLAYED by Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-TV), bought a pregnant elephant; he never imagined the birth of a baby elephant could change his life so drastically. This family movie also starred Colin Farrell (The Beguiled, The Lobster) as Holt Farrier, Michael Keaton (American Assassin, The Founder) as V.A. Vandevere, Eva Green (Based on a True Story, Penny Dreadful-TV) as Colette Marchant and Alan Arkin (Argo, Going in Style) as J. Griffin Remington. While watching this picture I had a visceral reaction to what was being shown on the movie screen. Except for the variety of fanciful visuals, I thought this movie was an abomination. How did the movie studio okay a story that was dark and so not kid friendly? I was completely shocked by the script and found absolutely nothing fun or joyful in this picture. There were little glimpses of a possible pleasurable scene but for the most part the script and over the top soundtrack drowned any hope of enjoyment. Days later I still was confused how this film got made of such a classic iconic character from animated history. Unless you want to punish your child or yourself, there is no reason to go see this poor version of the classic tale.
1 ½ stars
It may still be evolving but at one time the word peculiar had a narrow definition. If someone did not fit in and what I mean by that is look or act the same, they were considered different. Being labeled different was like getting a life term in prison. The mentality back then was not so dissimilar to a science fiction television show where there was an alien species that tried to assimilate human beings into their world where there were no independent thoughts or actions; every being was part of a central collective and all looked the same. This is how it could feel to someone who was considered odd. There was a school near my house where all the students were issued a standard uniform; each one of them had to wear the drab colored clothing. At the time I thought it would be horrible to be told to wear the same thing every day. But I did not realize that dressing in clothes one prefers could set the person up for ridicule. I could see how everyone wearing the same outfit would eliminate a person picking on a fellow student for wearing something different. Now I grant you the issue of clothing only scratches the surface on how people react to someone who is not the same as them. I am sure we all have seen stories in the news about incidents where being different causes a conflict. What I would like to know is when and how did differences among us became a negative trait? I have always wondered if it was due to the level of education, fear or maybe something that gets taught for the wrong reasons. We hear more and more about diversity and I believe the entire planet is just one big melting pot for everything living on it. There is room for everyone. DISCOVERING information to a mystery Jake, played by Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Hugo) is lead to a special place filled with unusual beings. Based on the bestselling book series this adventure fantasy had a wonderful look to it. Starring Eva Green (Dark Shadows, 300: Rise of an Empire) as Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine, Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan, Big Game) as Barron and Ella Purnell (Wildlike, Never Let Me Go) as Emma Bloom; the acting was a bit off for me. Where I thought Eva was perfect in her role with the look and movement, I thought Samuel was doing what has become his standard role now in most of his movies. Sure he does it well but how many times do we need to see the same style of character? This dramatic film started out slow for me; I found the script dull at first. Halfway through the story things starting to pick up and I began to enjoy this picture. I am guessing the book has to be better. As for the special effects, some of them were gleefully fun but others were just so-so. As a side note the majority of the audience at my viewing was young adolescents. I enjoyed the message of this story regarding our differences; I only wished it was carried through the whole film which could have been a more exciting experience for me.
2 1/3 stars
The melody rolled out of the radio sitting on my desk and I felt I had just been transported to a spacious open aired room draped with flowing veils. It only took a couple of beats from the song before my ears focused on the music like a new born baby to its bottle. The classic musical piece had been used for years by a multitude of ice skaters at the Olympic Games. Hearing it at my desk had an immediate effect on me; the tight shouldered stress I was experiencing literally collapsed inside of me and I was left in a peaceful oasis. I have many reasons to be grateful that I have all of my senses. Though I may not always be appreciative of them each day, there certainly are times where they are prominent in my consciousness. On vacation at a national park as I stand by a cliff looking out into a centuries old canyon, I am absolutely grateful I have my eyesight so I can see such a spectacular sight. Now I am not sure there is actual scientific proof, but it seems when a person loses one of their senses the remaining ones reach for a heightened state of awareness. I think about the various musicians and composers who have lost their sight or hearing yet they still create incredible music. It is as if they are hearing a combination of notes that reside in a different range than the average listener. There is another example I just remembered about a world famous chef from my city that had to deal with tongue cancer. Can you imagine what that must have been like for him? This film festival winning movie will show you what could happen when one of our senses disappears. JUST as Susan and Michael, played by Eva Green (Dark Shadows, 300: Rise of an Empire) and Ewan McGregor (Star Wars franchise, Jane Got a Gun), begin to get to know each other a plague starts to form that robs humans of their senses. This romantic drama was also classified as a science fiction film. I do not know if I would list it as such because it really was not what the average person would consider as a sci-fi story. This movie captivated me; I thought Eva and Ewan were wonderful together. Even the supporting cast like Connie Nielsen (One Hour Photo, Gladiator) as Jenny and Denis Lawson (Star Wars franchise, The Machine) as Boss did a good job of acting with their roles. The story was unique for me; I found myself imagining what I would do as some of the scenes started to play out. Granted there were some slow parts throughout the film, but my curiosity was strong enough for me to want to see what was going to happen next. Seeing the loss of a sense could be a rather bleak experience; I appreciated the fact that I could watch this DVD.
2 ½ STARS — DVD
Here is a little secret I will share with you on staying young: let the little child inside of you come out to play. There is no reason to suppress the joy and freedom we felt as children; it is therapeutic to find time to do something fun and it will keep you young. In our adult life we will encounter challenges, tests and a variety of events that harden us to be stoic and strong; I totally understand it. However, I do not know who decided the age of 18 or 21 is the dividing line between being a child or an adult. I have met a lot of adults who acted more like children than some children I have seen. The term “old soul” comes to mind when I recall some of the conversations I have had with younger people. Now I know reaching that magic age where you are suddenly transformed into an adult is a big deal; heck, I could not wait to vote for the first time in a presidential election. However, if a person is not responsible can they really be considered an adult? JUST before her 18th birthday Kat Connor, played by Shailene Woodley (The Fault in our Stars, Divergent), was faced with a terrible loss. Her mother Eve, played by Eva Green (Casino Royale, 300: Rise of an Empire); just picked up and left one day, leaving Kat and her father Brock, played by Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit-TV), to fend for themselves. Pushed into being and adult, Kat slowly began to realize something was not right as she began to have dreams about her mother. The big draw for me to watch this dramatic mystery was Shailene. After her last couple of films I was looking forward to seeing her in this thriller. She did not disappoint; I really think she is becoming a well-rounded actress. Writer and director Greg Araki (Mysterious Skin, Kaboom) must have been thinking the same thing because he really dropped the ball on the script. It felt like he did not need to make a good script because he knew Shailene would squeeze the emotions out of his words. She did her best but sadly it was not enough to make this a good film. The story was slow and lifeless; I did not feel any passion coming out of the cast. And it was not their fault; I felt the responsibility fell squarely on Greg. Despite the group of actors assembled and the twists to the story, I did not experience much fun or enjoyment watching this movie.
2 1/4 stars
Such a fickle force that makes us breathlessly swoon as we extend our arms into an inviting hug; yet, it can similarly drive us to a dark place to commit a murderous act of passion. It is frightening how much power love can have over us. In yesterday’s review I spoke of love’s ability to move us to a point where we would willingly take the suffering and pain away from the person we love if we could. With today’s movie I am being led to the darker qualities of love. I have met several people who were obsessed by love. For those in a relationship, they needed constant reinforcement from their significant other that they were being loved. If it was not enough they would seek it from outside their relationship. Unfortunately I have dated this type of person and discovered it in an inconvenient place. We had traveled out of the country for a vacation; I was not familiar with the language, but they were fluent. During our stay at the hotel the assistant manager always made a point to come up to us to say hello or ask how we were doing, conversing in English for me and Spanish for them. I did not think much of it at first; however, their conversations seemed to last longer filled with chuckles and smiles. As the week progressed the assistant manager periodically popped up at our door just to check on us and chat. I think you know where this is going. When I returned to the hotel room early from a tour I had taken by myself, I caught them in bed together. Evidently they needed to be loved by more than one person. EMOTIONS of love and hate ran high, driving people to do extreme things in this action thriller. It seemed as if several of Sin City’s citizens with hidden agendas were crossing paths on their way to administering their own form of justice. This sequel to the 2005 movie was able to stand on its own; it had to because I vaguely remembered the first one. The cast included Josh Brolin (Oldboy, Men in Black 3) as Dwight, Eva Green (Casino Royale, Dark Shadows) as Ava and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler, Angel Heart) as Marv. Using the same stylized graphics as the previous film, the majority of violent scenes were made to look more cartoonish; though, there were a couple of places I had to turn my head away from the screen due to the intense violence. In spite of this I was entertained by watching this crime picture. It was nothing spectacular and I was a bit confused in some spots; but, the story was easy to follow and I enjoyed trying to figure out which actors were playing the unrecognizable characters. I believe a majority of viewers will either love or hate this movie.
2 1/3 stars
When I began posting my movie reviews I made a commitment to write one a day for an entire year. It was not always easy; I had to decline social engagements, besides dealing with the electronic gremlins that would mess up my postings from time to time. There were days where my fingers had to do double time to get the review done before the strike of midnight; not that I would turn into a pumpkin, just wouldn’t be able to keep my word. However, I carried out my promise to myself and did it. Some of my friends thought I was crazy with my rigid dedication but I have always had that trait. It is similar to my not eating 5 hours before I go to bed as a means of maintaining my weight. Right from the beginning of this action drama, I could identify with the actors’ dedication in achieving their impressive chiseled physiques besides the characters’ determination in fighting to the death to save their land. I cannot call this a sequel since the writers were clever to create a story that paralleled the story from the previous movie, 300. Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom, Gangster Squad) played Greek General Themistokles. With the Persian King Xerxes, played by Rodrigo Santoro (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I Love You Phillip Morris), moving forward in his conquest for all of Greece; Themistokles would have to take his battle to the sea against the king’s massive navy led by skilled commander Artemisia, played by Eva Green (Dark Shadows, Casino Royale). It would take cunning, strategy and most of all courage to try and defeat the Persian forces that outnumbered Themistokles’ fighters. This movie played out like a dramatic opera; there were a multitude of heroic speeches, gruesome fights and passionate pleas. When I said gruesome I meant it because there was so much blood being spilled throughout the entire film that the characters even mentioned they would turn the ocean into a sea of red. It would be hard to talk about the acting since the whole movie had a graphic novel, computer game look to it; the characters were more cartoonish to me. I thought Eva was impressive with her fighting skills, finding it a nice twist to have a female badass. Playing the Spartan Queen Gorgo, I wished Lena Headey (The Purge, Game of Thrones-TV) had more screen time since her character had more dimension to me. This bloody war film started to become repetitive with its cycle of speeches and battles. Do not consider this movie as a history lesson; it was just fun to watch on the big screen. Also, no one could fault the actors for their dedication in contributing to this movie’s sharp look. There were multiple scenes with blood and violence throughout the film.
2 1/3 stars