It is not as fun, fun being a relative term, when there is not an audience or one’s followers around to witness the act. More times than not the person picking on another person has a posse of buddies in tow to be their audience and witnesses when they go on the attack. I have seen it time and time again besides being on the receiving end; watching the bully walk away with their admiring subordinates following up the rear, sometimes punctuating the event with their own punch or kick. Now I know there are some followers who may not agree with their leader’s actions, but they choose to go along as a preventative measure to avoid being in a position where they could be the one that is on the receiving end. This logic can be applied on a global scale. How many times has the news shown a horrific act of violence? I have wondered what would happen if there was a moratorium on reporting such activities; would it have a dampening effect on those individuals or groups who seek out an audience for their actions. Speaking of audiences this recently happened here; a local news station reported on an attempted robbery that took place on public transportation. There was video from a security camera that was shown and the thing that struck me was how there were other passengers around who did nothing as the victim fought back against their attacker. Would they be considered human versions of the Minions? DESPONDENT over their lack of having an evil leader to follow; Kevin, Bob and Stuart head out in search of someone bad enough for them and the rest of their fellow Minions to follow. This animated comedy was geared towards the younger viewer; however, the soundtrack was done with the adult in mind. I thought the song choices were a great accompaniment to the terrific animation. Additionally the choice of actors such as Sandra Bullock (Gravity, The Blind Side) as Scarlett Overkill and Jon Hamm (The Town, Mad Men-TV) as her husband Herb were well equipped to handle their characters. After seeing for months the hilarious trailers, this film was a bit disappointing. The script did not provide enough punch to make this animated movie succeed. For example I thought Scarlett was not evil enough; she lacked the drama that someone in that position could have been yielding. I found myself getting bored halfway through the story since it seemed as if it was one stunt or comedy bit being repeated over and over. Maybe it was due too all the exposure the Minions have been getting the past several months, but this full length feature did not provide any excitement until closer to the end. There was an extra fun musical scene at the end of the credits.
2 1/2 stars
Offering them a ride home was the polite thing to do. It was raining outside, that gentle steady kind where the romantic side of me could see myself sharing an umbrella as we walked down the street. However this was only a first date so I was my more practical self. Leaving the cafe we ran to the car; I had unlocked it remotely so I could run ahead and open the passenger door. As we drove away I became aware of the sound the rain made as it fell onto the car. It sounded like a slightly quick, steady heartbeat waiting in anticipation. With their directions I finally pulled up to the front of their building. This not being my first blind date, I was well aware this point of time could turn awkward if both parties were not on the same page with shaking hands, hugging, kissing or a simple wave of dismissal with the hand. As I was about to say I had a pleasant time they interrupted me, asking where were we going from here. I was perplexed and told them I did not understand what they were asking me. My confusion quickly changed into shock as I was being asked if we were now a couple because they needed to know right now and wanted to know what we were doing next week. The voice in my head was praying they would vacate the car without incident. If you think that was crazy wait until you see what happens in this horror film. JAY Height, played by Maika Monroe (The Guest, Labor Day), woke up to find herself tied to a chair. The boy she had slept with was talking to her, explaining what she had to do to avoid being killed–she had to quickly have sex with someone else. This film festival winning movie had a smartly written script that was original. The thing I liked most about this picture was it being a horror film based on suspense, not gruesome violence with buckets of blood. The actors such as Keir Gilchrist (It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Dead Silence) as Paul and Daniel Zovatto (Laggies, Beneath) as Greg Hannigan were okay, no one really stood out for me. As I sat and watched this film I realized the suspense was really not very suspenseful. I am not an expert in horror movies but it seemed to me as if this picture was a lightweight for this genre. It was a shame since I did give it points for being or at least appearing to be more like an indie film without having the heavy handedness of the film studio’s marketing team, not such a crazy thought.
2 1/3 stars
My cravings are emotionally based; I fully understand it. I am not physically craving chocolate but experiencing a mental comfort as I consume it. So when I hear about a variety of cravings pregnant women say they have I try to imagine how such a combination of food could satisfy their bodies. Or maybe I am making an assumption and it is an emotional thing for them as much as it is for me. Sure we have all heard of the pickles and ice cream craving; however, there are some that sound so odd to me. One person I knew constantly craved spicy hot foods during her pregnancy, the hot pepper oil and sriracha type of hot. There was someone who prior to becoming pregnant loved mustard; however, as soon as she became pregnant the smell of mustard made her violently ill. I just find it curious why a body, for example, would crave a cheesy corn puff instead of a piece of cheese. I figure who am I to question such things, but in this horror film the cravings took on a sinister outlook. Soon after their honeymoon newlyweds Samantha and Zach McCall, played by Allison Miller (17 Again, Blood: The Last Vampire) and Zach Gilford (The Last Stand, Friday Night Lights-TV), found out they were going to have a baby. As the pregnancy progressed Zach began to notice unsettling changes in his wife that were hard to explain. This scary movie used the found footage technique of filming for the entire movie. This meant there was shakiness to almost every scene, to the point where I wanted to take something for motion sickness; I absolutely disliked it. In addition there were times I sat and wondered who was holding the camera and how could they even film the scene based on the camera angle. The script was poorly written for an unexciting story. I was bored except for a couple of decent special effects, but they were not enough to get me at all excited about this film. Seeing Sam Anderson (Perfect Strangers, Water for Elephants) as Father Thomas and Vanessa Ray (Francis Ha, Not Waving but Drowning) as Suzie, I had to wonder if they were embarrassed for agreeing to do this ridiculous bloody movie. I only pray this film does not procreate and spawn a sequel. There were several scenes with gore and blood in them.
1 1/3 stars
The word scared is defined as a condition or sensation of sudden fear. It is understandable to be fearful the first time one willingly parachutes out of an airplane or takes a ride on a wild roller coaster ride. Part of being scared is experiencing shock or surprise. I think most people would enjoy being shocked by a winning lottery ticket or unexpected promotion. Those types of shock are good, but none of us want to experience the shock of bad news. I think the reason we voluntarily go on a frightening ride or a scary movie is due to a primeval urge: the fight or fright syndrome. When one gets scared the body accelerates its functions, releasing hormones into the system, preparing itself for any imminent demands that will be placed on it. Because I believe in the use it or lose it way of thinking, I feel when we place ourselves in a controlled environment like a scary movie we are giving our body the opportunity to exercise. Think of it like taking your car out onto the highway to blow out the carburetor. I am not a fan of horror movies but I have to tell you I felt I was on an amusement park attraction while I watched this horror thriller. The other thing that surprised me was the amount of humor interjected into the story. Newcomer Andrew Jacobs played Jesse who lived in an apartment building with his grandmother in Oxnard, California. After finding a strange bite mark on his arm; Jesse’s friends Hector and Marisol, played by Jorge Diaz (Filly Brown, American Trash) and newcomer Gabrielle Walsh, noticed a strange change taking place over their friend. Having never seen any of the previous installments of this movie franchise, I found the setting and use of an all Hispanic cast refreshing from the usual scary movies I have seen in the past. The thing I found odd was the times Spanish was spoken there were no translations. Though there were elements of surprise, one could easily figure out what the cast was about to do and where they were going in the film. As I mentioned earlier the humor used in the movie added a fun element for me. Horror fans who want to see blood and violence will be disappointed with this picture, there was very little of it. The use of handheld filming was annoying to me after a while, though there were at least some creative angles in the filming. For a scary film this one was more like a light sanitized version; however by the end, I felt my nervous and circulatory systems got a decent workout. A couple of brief scenes showed blood.
With this gripping film, we return to a theme I covered previously: Are some people simply born evil or is it something they learn? When the media covers a story, depending on the spin; we can believe a person is innocent or guilty. I find especially true these days, a news story gets twisted in a positive or negative way based on the news station’s affiliations. One of my favorite directors, Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables) wrote and directed this intense docudrama about a group of soldiers manning a military checkpoint in an Iraqi town. I had a hard time remembering this was a fictional piece; it seemed so real to me. The idea of having soldier Angel Salazar, played by Izzy Diaz (If I Had Known I Was a Genius, several various TV show episodes), documenting his time by video taping it, was brilliant. We were able to see what Angel was recording through his viewfinder. It was fascinating to see how some of his informal scenes were later covered by the media. Witnessing fellow soldiers B.B Rush’s and Reno Flake’s, played by Daniel Stewart Sherman (The Briefcase, Mr. Popper’s Penguins) and Patrick Carroll (several various TV show episodes), heinous behavior was disturbing. I wondered if they always had that type of behavior or if it came on due to the environment. One of my best friend’s brothers never spoke of his time overseas during the Viet Nam War. I was always curious what life was like for him. In truth, the only ideas I have of military life in battle is what I have seen on the news. After watching this movie, should I assume war nourishes the seeds of evil in some individuals? Blurring the line between fact and fiction, this haunting story could easily be someone’s nightmare. Bloody, violent scenes.
3 stars — DVD
There is one train of thought that we come into this world with both good and evil inside of us. An individual has free will on which way they will go. The other possibility is that we are born with only good inside of us, that evil is something we have to learn. With that being the case and under the circumstances he faced, prisoner Malik El Djebena, played by Tahar Rahim (The Eagle, Black Gold) did not have free choice. Newly incarcerated into an adult prison; Malik was singled out by Cesar Luciai, played by Niels Arestrup (War Horse, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), leader of the Corsican inmates. The naive Malik was forced into servitude; he either had to kill a prisoner or be killed by Cesar’s minions. From this introduction into prison life and though he was of Arab heritage, Malik would be under the protection of the Corsicans. This was an intense prison movie with stabbings, fights and bloodshed. What kept me enthralled was the progression of character development, especially with Malik’s growth. The story had steady pacing with solid intensity. I want to mention there were racist remarks, but I understood what the writers were doing in setting up the conflicts between the different ethnic groups in the prison. One of the better movies of this genre, this film was exciting in a different way. With the prison being a breeding ground for evil, the excitement was watching how the prisoners chose to use it. French and Arabic with English subtitles.
3 1/3 stars — DVD
Having an aunt who was a sergeant in the Women’s Army Corps, I am familiar with what makes up a strong woman. My friends were always scared of her, because she would make them give her a solid handshake. Putting a different spin on the Snow White story; the writers of this action film created a strong Snow White, played by Kristen Stewart (Twilight franchise, The Runaways). This Snow White was a fighter; determined to reclaim her right to the throne after escaping imprisonment by the Queen, her step mother. The problem I had with this was the casting of Kristen. She did not convey the strength expected for such a role and it was due to her acting ability. I found her doing the same character as Bella in Twilight. A better actress would have made this movie more exciting; I found myself getting bored in parts. It was especially noticeable since the evil Queen Ravenna was so wickedly played by Charlize Theron (Monster, Young Adult). It looked like Charlize relished her role as she was the dominant figure out of the cast. In addition, there was Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers, The Cabin in the Woods) as the Huntsman who was sent by the Queen to hunt down Snow White in the Dark Forest. Chris did an admirable job with his character, being the tough yet sensitive man of the movie. The film was beautiful to watch, enhanced with great special effects. Though I liked the idea behind the story, I was underwhelmed by the execution of it. This movie needed someone like my aunt to make it better.
2 2/3 stars
This is today’s lesson: size does not matter, when it comes to making an evil character. Just because a character is the largest one on the screen doesn’t make them the meanest or scariest. The character I am referring to is Kronos, father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. Though the studio had the key pieces to make a blockbuster of this movie, they did not follow through in taking the parts and expanding on them. The perfect example was the Kronos character. After draining the power from Zeus, played by Liam Neeson (Taken, The Grey), the audience was led to believe this power would give Kronos the energy to break free and destroy the world. At least that is what Hades, played by Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter franchise, The English Patient) was telling us after he imprisoned his brother Zeus in the underworld. Talk about your family dysfunction. The hero coming to save Zeus was his son Perseus, played by Sam Worthington (Avatar, The Debt). I give credit to Sam, for his role appeared to be a truly physical one as he was being beaten and thrown around. As I mentioned, the pieces were all here: from the love interest, to family betrayal, to battle scenes, to the love between a father and son. However, the story was not able to glue these parts together and create some excitement. It was not like I was totally bored with this movie; there was some good special effects that entertained me. But at one point of the movie I did wish they would have brought back the Kraken and let it destroy everyone in the movie, so there would not be any further sequels.