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Flash Movie Review: A Christmas Story Christmas

EVERY YEAR AROUND THIS TIME has always been special to me. First, my favorite holiday takes place this month, Thanksgiving. The food that is served for this holiday has always been special to me. Family recipes, some tweaked a bit depending on who would be there, would be on display offering multiple options of every course. And there was something about the food that gave me a sense of comfort, safety and love. I cannot describe it exactly, but there was nothing I did not like on the table except for that icky green bean casserole a relative insisted on bringing to the dinner. The other thing that made this time special was the yearly airing of the movie, The Wizard of Oz on television. As a little kid, I loved that movie. Every year when it was going to be shown on TV, the family would get together. The kids would settle down on the living room floor; some would have blankets; others would have pillows. The adults who wanted to see the film would have brought in extra chairs with them so every aunt and uncle would have a place to sit. One of the adults would check on us kids to see if we wanted anything to eat; however, depending on whose house we were all at, some relatives would not allow any food in their living room or what we would call it, “the front room.”      JUST THINKING OF THAT TIME BACK then always puts me in a good mood. There are so many memories associated with that time we all got together to eat around the table and watch The Wizard of Oz. I remember as an adult watching the different versions/sequels that came out based on the original Oz film and I must tell you, none of them provided that warm fuzzy feeling that the first film did for me as a child. My amazement when a relative told me the reason the movie started out in black and white then went to color, when Dorothy opened the door after the tornado dropped the house down, was because color film was invented after the studio began shooting the movie. Whether that is true or not doesn’t matter to me because it is a deep-rooted memory of me being amazed at the transformation from the grey Kansas landscape to the colorful Oz. I think it is terrific when a movie can trigger a fond memory in us; I wonder how many of you will experience this when you watch this sequel to a holiday classic.      WITH THE MOST IMPORTANT HOLIDAY COMING up, an adult Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley (The Break-Up, Sherman Oaks-TV), wants his kids to experience the magic of Christmas like he did when he was a kid. It would include a road trip back to his childhood home in Indiana. With Erinn Hayes (The Goldbergs-TV, Interior Night) as Sandy Parker, River Droshce (Miracle Workers-TV, Little Heroes: Mighty Missions-TV) as Mark, relative newcomer Julianna Layne as Julie and Julie Hagerty (Instant Family, Airplane franchise) as Mrs. Parker; this family comedy blended in situations from the original film with the updated versions. I will point out that the ending credits had side by side matching scenes, which were fun to watch. Because I saw the original film once a long time ago, I felt there were some things that I was missing in this picture. The beginning started out slow for me, but then found its footing. Some of the scenes were predictable, yet others had a ring of familiarity for me. The fact that this movie was created to be a wholesome, fun family watching experience I feel those who have fond memories of the original film will enjoy this new one more. Either way, I am glad I could watch it and remember my version of a happy holiday celebration.

2 ¾ stars  

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Flash Movie Review: The Munsters

THERE WERE TWO HOUSES IN OUR neighborhood that were totally different from any other, but both were equally creepy. One house was completely painted in a drab brown color: everything from the front stairs, porch, railings, shutters, door and window frames. At nighttime no one could tell if anyone was at home because the lights were never on; or the windows were so heavily curtained that the light could not penetrate. All the years I lived in the neighborhood, I never once saw anyone entering or leaving the house. There was no front lawn; it was all cemented over with one large oak tree that stuck out from the ground like it had killed it. Whenever I cut through the alley in back, I could never tell if there was a backyard or not because the was a huge dense hedge that surrounded the perimeter. As you can imagine, no one ever ventured past the wrought iron front gate at Halloween; the place was too scary all year round. Whenever my friends and I were playing outside, we made sure to never throw or hit a ball in the house’s direction, in case the ball was to bounce into its front yard. None of us had the courage to climb over the fence and get closer to that house.      THE OTHER HOUSE THAT WAS SCARY to us was brightly painted in green and orange hues. It had trellis work all around the front porch with vines spreading across it. The stairs leading up to the front door were bowed, as if something big had climbed up and down them repeatedly. In the front yard there was an assortment of wildflowers, some that were taller than me. I never knew who lived inside because again, there was no sign of life or activity. The dense foliage that surrounded the house like a suit of armor made the place look menacing. It was the type of place that looked like Sleeping Beauty would have been served a poison apple there or Hansel and Gretel would have been held to be used in a cauldron of soup. There was an odd weathervane attached to the house’s chimney; it was hard to figure out if the figurine was a human or animal. I used to try and picture what would live in this and the other house. Now here is the interesting part; in all my imaginings, I never once thought humans were inhabiting the houses. They had to be some type of alien or monster, more akin to the family in this comedy fantasy.      MOVING TO AN AMERICAN SUBURB WOULD be a big adjustment for this Transylvanian family. It would be an even bigger adjustment for the people who lived around them. With Sheri Moon Zombie (The Lords of Salem, The Devil’s Rejects) as Lily, Jeff Daniel Phillips (3 From Hell, The Gifted-TV) as Herman, Daniel Roebuck (The Fugitive, Getting Grace) as The Count, Richard Brake (The Rhythm Section, Bingo Hell) as Dr. Wolfgang and Jorge Garcia (Lost-TV, The Wedding Ringer) as Floop; this reboot of the television show has the distinction of being the worst film I have seen this year. I could appreciate the idea of bringing the Munster family to a whole new generation; but this film was too corny and boring. The special effects were dull, the script failed at humor and the story came across like a poorly done Saturday morning cartoon. The actors were not bad, considering they had a tough act to follow with the original actors; but I felt the writers were forcing the campiness so much that scenes just looked ridiculous. This could have been a better film if the story focused more on the early times just when Lily and Herman were about to meet each other. If I had my way, I would have preferred rewatching one of the Addams Family television episodes.

1 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: 13: The Musical

THERE WAS NOTHING WORSE THEN TO have two parties scheduled on the same day when we were in eighth grade. The party with the fewer attendees would be deemed the lame party a/k/a uncool. We were the “top dogs” of the school, with it being our last year there, and felt nearly invincible. However, there was one thing that could depose your status faster than a lightning bolt; it was the loss of your “cool factor.” I was lucky I never had to worry about this because I was never considered cool. And from what I witnessed amongst the other students; I was glad about it. There were several girls who were part of a clique who felt it was their mission to tell the other students when they were out of fashion. Even if you did not have a decent haircut or style, they would make sure you knew, and do it when other students were around to hear it. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, if a student did not excel in sports, then they sure better be good at something else unless they wanted to get picked on. The students with the highest grades got a free pass for the most part; however, if you were not so smart, you needed to be a great musician, artist, debater, or something else that would make you stand out. Even being the president of the chess club could help you but honestly, not that much compared to an athlete on one of the sports teams.      DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR THERE was a large amount of bar mitzvah parties. I remember my friend making me promise I would be coming to his party. It seemed odd to me since I had already sent back my RSVP card, but I figured there was some important number they needed for some reason. When I arrived at the temple for the services, I discovered there was another boy there from school for his bar mitzvah. He and my friend were going to share in the participation of the services. It then hit me; my friend was concerned more of the kids from our class might attend the other kid’s affair. I felt bad for my friend because the other boy was on the tennis team. Would that really make a difference I wondered. That evening at the party, I made a mental note to see if there were any empty seats around the dining tables when it was time to eat. As far as I could tell my friend came out okay; it looked like a full party. Looking back at those years, it seemed like such a rite of passage for us. Sort of like what was taking place in this musical, comedic family drama.      EVERYTHING WAS FALLING INTO PLACE FOR Evan’s, played by Eli Golden (Hide and Seek, Trouble), upcoming bar mitzvah party. That is until his mother told him they were moving out of state. With Josh Peck (Red Dawn, Mean Creek) as Rabbi, Debra Messing (Searching, Will & Grace-TV) as Jessica, Peter Hermann (United 93, Philomena) as Joel and Rhea Perlman (Matilda, I’ll See You in My Dreams) as Ruth; this film was heavy on the musical numbers. They were fun and high energy, but there was an oddness to them. They were meant more to be done on a large stage. Maybe due to the directing, but there was a disconnect between them and the scenes that were more emotional. I do not know if it were due to my school experiences, but there was a familiarity to the story that made the characters more like stereotypes, to the point I could tell what was going to happen. And this is why I thought the acting was nothing special. In fact, pretty much bland. At least, there was an honesty to the script which I appreciated. It was funny, here I thought my school had its own unique issues; but with this film it looks like there were a lot of other kids who had to deal with such social status issues.

2 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Spider-Man: No Way Home

ON A WALL IN MY HOUSE, I have it covered with framed photographs of my relatives, both deceased and alive. I consider it a pictorial history of my life. Besides my baby picture, portrait of me with Zippy the chimpanzee and my college graduation; there are photographs of relatives when they were children and others with family members I have never met. In fact, I have a photograph of my great, great, great grandmother who was alive when Napoleon invaded Russia. Seeing her dressed in long heavy clothing with a scarf around her head, while sitting on a small wooden chair, I look at her face to see if I share any resemblance to her. Standing next to her is her granddaughter who I believe would be my great aunt. In her face, I can see features that I have seen on several current relatives of mine. Every time I walk by what I refer to as the photo wall, I look at least a couple of photos each time. There are so many memories of the relatives I have known since my childhood. The thing that surprises me is the fact those memories are crystal clear in my mind, yet something I did a week ago is already fading away. My recollections are so vivid that even if I did not have my photo wall, I would still have a clear focus of the events each photograph was documenting.      IF I HAD THE ABILITY TO go back in time, I would absolutely want to visit my relatives who came before me. Imagine talking to that great, great, great grandmother and learning about the life she was living. I would ask her why she did not leave with her relatives who were moving to the country where I was born, the United States. Because of the times back then, I would assume she worked at home, taking care of the household. There is another relative I wish I could have met who I thought had 7 children; however, I recently found out this relative in actuality had 14 children. There are a multitude of family members living around the world that I have no knowledge about who are descendants from this one relative. Personally, I cannot envision someone having 14 children. My first thought is, “How could they afford it?” Granted, back then if you had any land, the more children you had the more help you would have in taking care of the land and crops. There are so many things I would like to learn if I could go back in time. The main character in this action, adventure fantasy wishes he could go back in time; see what he tries to do.      WITH THE WORLD DISCOVERING HIS IDENTITY, there was only one thing Spiderman, played by Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z, Edge of Winter), thought could help him. However, he would need the help of Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog, The Courier). With Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Malcolm & Marie) as MJ, Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, North Woods) as Ned Leeds and Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy, Horrible Bosses franchise) as Max Dillon; this film was a stellar example of what is needed to make a great superhero movie. I was surprised by the range of emotions on display, thanks to an interesting script. I say interesting because there were so many convoluted twists that I stopped trying to keep track of what the results were for each change in the direction of the story. The imagination of the writers is what caught and kept me engaged. The acting all around was a good way above average which added to the wit and humor that was already infused into the script. In the Marvel universe of films, this one certainly deserves to be in the top ten. There were 2 extra scenes during the ending credits.

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: A Boy Called Christmas

IT STARTED WHEN I MENTIONED I had not gotten many holiday cards this year. My friend thought for a moment before she told me she believed it was the same for her. It was not like I sat and counted each card received, but since I normally display them by standing each card up on a coffee table, this year only a quarter of the table had cards. One thing my friend thought could be the reason was the fewer card shops we had around these days. I could see that being one of the reasons because I know fewer pieces of mail get handled currently. Another reason I thought of was the possibility people are simply tired, frustrated or scared of the current situation with COVID and all the ramifications associated with it. Some people I know are cancelling their plans to be with friends and family for the holidays; others have either lost their job or have had their health compromised, so they can no longer do their job. I know an individual who became ill due to COVID and was in the hospital for 75 days, near death at times. It has been nearly a full year and they are still in no position to go back to their job. Another person I know was put out of work because their profession was totally upended by the pandemic and it had to be shut down. I feel these are perfect reasons why people are not feeling festive.      THERE ALSO IS SOMETHING ELSE THAT is weighing on the minds of people. The issue with the overtaxed supply chain is part of it, but I also believe the higher prices and fewer choices together can be the deciding factor for someone who decides they cannot afford to spend the extra money presently. When I mentioned this to my friend, she told me I was right because of a discussion she recently had with a family member. This relative was complaining about the amount of money they spend on people for the holiday, but they feel they never get that much in return. The look on my face must have conveyed my shock to her because she told me she was just as shocked. Even with the fact the holiday is not something I ever celebrated, I commented on how sad it was that the focus for her relative was the amount of money she spent compared to what she received; that the gifts have nothing to do with the meaning and spirit of the holiday. Next, I told my friend I wish I could meet her relative just so I could tell them they need to see this beautiful, family adventure drama to learn the real meaning of the holiday.      A SON TRIED TO WAIT FOR his father to return from a long trek, in search of a magical place; but decided to take off on his own to find his father and bring him back home. With Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, The Lady in the Van) as Aunt Ruth, relative newcomer Henry Lawfull as Nikolas, Michiel Huisman (The Age of Adaline, Game of Thrones-TV) as Joel, Kristen Wiig (Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar, Ghostbusters) as Aunt Carlotta and Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Eternal Beauty) as Mother Vodol; this film based on the popular book was a wonderful movie watching experience for me. The cast was first rate; each actor was wonderful in their role. Despite the story being somewhat predictable, I found the mix of fantasy, thrills, magic, drama and fun to be a perfect mix—especially during this holiday season. The message in the story is something that I feel everyone could learn from. As I mentioned, Christmas was not part of the holidays I celebrated; but I must tell you, I enjoyed and appreciated this treat of a picture.

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Encanto

EATING ON SNACK TRAYS WAS NEVER part of any of our family meal get togethers. It was just not acceptable. Getting together with the relatives meant adding leafs to the dining room table, plus a folding buffet table and if need be a couple of folding card tables. The goal was for all the family members to sit down to eat a meal together. I can remember times where we would be so packed into a room that some of the kids would have to crawl under the table to get out from their seats. At some point during my childhood, the older relatives decided the kids should sit together at a table by themselves. Each of us felt so grown up because we had our own space to eat without the adults looking over us. I never knew what the age limit was; but at some point, a kid at a certain age would be moved out from eating at the children’s table and given a seat with the adults. It was almost like a rite of passage. Once everyone was seated the food would come out from the kitchen, almost like an assembly line. Plates, bowls and platters of food would be handed off to whoever was sitting the closest to the kitchen. Once they took what they wanted, they would hand off the dish to the person next to them and so on, all the way down and back the entire length of the tables.      I CAN LOOK BACK AT THOSE family meals with fondness and amazement; there were many times no one ever left the table. Whether it was the conversations or wanting to be one of the first to grab the desserts; everyone enjoyed sitting together and talking the entire evening. Or at least I thought so. It was later in life, after the older generation was gone and everyone moved up to the next level of their life expectancy, that I discovered how many relatives had a different perception of those times when we came together to share a meal. Within one branch of the family, the siblings were fighting amongst themselves and did not want to sit with each other. Their spin on their contribution to the evening’s conversation had a negative slant to it. That negativity would filter down into conversations where individuals would misinterpret a relative’s words and opinions. It was only recently I realized this took place because I was eating lunch with a relative and we discovered we had opposite opinions about one of our family members. Despite the different perspectives, it didn’t change the fact that we were all part of the same family, just like the family in this animated, comedy family film.      EVERY CHILD IN THE MADRIGAL FAMILY had a magical power except one named Mirabel, voiced by Stephanie Beatriz (In the Heights, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV). Because she did not have a special power, she found herself in a unique position when the magic around the family began to decay. With Maria Cecilia (Amas de casa desesperadas-TV, La Bruja) voicing Abuela Alma, John Leguizamo (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) voicing Bruno, relative newcomer Mauro Castillo voicing Felix and Jessica Darrow (Feast of the Seven Fishes) voicing Luisa; visually this movie was exquisite. The variety of colors and the lush settings were the real magic of the story. The musical score was upbeat and fun which only added more to the scenes. My only complaint was the story/script. I thought the message the writers were conveying was wonderful, but I felt there needed to be more variance to the drama level. It seemed as if most scenes were on one emotional level; where I wanted to feel more excitement, more thrills and more passion. It almost felt like a lite version of the studio’s usual depth in its animated films. Despite it, the overall movie watching experience was very good.                              

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Clifford the Big Red Dog

AFTER A COUPLE OF DATES, THEY wanted me to meet their pets. I was agreeable to it since I loved animals. When I arrived at their front door, I expected to hear a dog barking or them holding a cat. Once inside, I saw 2 large fish tanks in opposite corners of the living room. There was greenery inside each but there was no water. I was led to one of the tanks to be introduced to Charlie. As I approached closer, I saw a hint of movement among the greens. They lifted the lid off from the tank so they could extend both arms inside, where they gently lifted a large snake. I tried hiding the shock on my face but might not have done a good job because they said it was okay, the snake was not poisonous. Oh, what a relief! The snake began to slither up one arm, across the back of the shoulders, then down the other arm until its head was resting in my date’s hand. My mind was reeling with all the possible scenarios where the snake would be a comfort to its owner. Would it snuggle up to them on the sofa? Would it follow them around the house? Would it play with any toys? I could not find one scenario that would work for me; but I understood, if they found comfort in what I would consider an unusual choice for a pet then who was I to judge?      WHATEVER ANIMAL BRINGS A PERSON COMFORT is the animal they need. For me, I was fortunate to experience comfort from a bird, a dog, a horse and a cat. I remember a particularly “bad” week in school. The bullies were extra active, and I had multiple tests taking place through the week. Friday night we were going to visit a relative who had a dog I absolutely loved. When we got to her house, I immediately sought out the dog. We settled into a cushy sofa in the den; me nestled into the corner of the couch and her curled into my lap. I would alternate between petting and scratching her. If I stopped for a moment, she would turn her face towards me and kneed my upper thigh with her paws. A sense of peaceful comfort settled over me and the trials and tribulations of the week faded away. It felt so good that I did not want to leave my spot when dinner was ready. That dog taught me one of my earliest lessons about what it means to give unconditional love. From my experience, I found myself totally in synch with the main character in this adventure, family comedy.      AGAINST HER UNCLE’S BETTER JUDGEMENT, A young girl gets to keep a little red puppy that will show her it is okay to be different. With Darby Camp (The Christmas Chronicles franchise, Big Little Lies-TV) as Emily, Jack Whitehall (Jungle Cruise, Mother’s Day) as Casey, Izaac Wang (Good Boys, Think Like a Dog) as Owen, John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda, The Meaning of Life) as Bridwell and Tony Hale (American Ultra, Veep-TV) as Tieran; this movie was based on the popular children’s book series. I have not read them, but I can only assume the message is true to what the books portrayed. Little kids will love this film and I must tell you I enjoyed it as well for a multitude of reasons. The message was wonderful, the humor was light and clean, plus the dog was cute. I felt this way despite the fact the script was filled with predictability and was formulaic. There was a cartoonish feel to several scenes and yet, I simply enjoyed the simplicity of the whole story. And despite Clifford’s size he certainly was a lovable dog.

2 2/3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

I CANNOT SAY I TOTALLY BELIEVE or disbelieve; I simply believe anything is possible and that is why I am fascinated to hear people’s experiences with unexplainable events. A friend was telling me about a recent encounter her daughter experienced. While driving to a family function, the daughter looked in her rearview mirror and saw her grandparents, who were deceased, sitting in the back seat. They just sat there and smiled at her for the entire trip. When they arrived and she turned off the car, the daughter turned around in her seat, but the grandparents had disappeared. She went into the house to join other family members but during her time there she felt the presence of her grandparents for most of the night. The daughter was not surprised since her grandparents had visited her multiple times before. Her mother started believing her daughter ever since her first encounter because at that occurrence the grandparents said something in their native language which the daughter would not have known. When the daughter repeated what she heard to her mother, my friend knew something unexplainable had taken place around her daughter. I enjoyed listening about the event and asked my friend if her daughter ever had an encounter that scared her. She said as far as she knew, no.      IN MY EXPERIENCES, THINGS HAVE TRANSPIRED that I could not easily explain. I used to workout at home on a cable exercise machine for several years. One day while working on it I felt like my eyes were mildly hurting me. When I clenched my eyes shut the pain subsided. I had no idea what was going on and even inspected them in the mirror to make sure I had not broken a blood vessel or something. For a week every time I did this one particular exercise on the machine, I would just close my eyes through it. However, after a week I started turning my face to the side while keeping my eyes shut. I knew this did not make any sense, but I kept doing it. After a few days when I went to exercise, the cable snapped as I grabbed the pull-down bar before sitting down on the bench. I was shocked but immediately realized that if the cable had held up a few seconds longer until I was seated and pulling up the weights attached to the cable, it would have snapped right into my eyes. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I felt there had to be something else that I could not explain that made me start to clench my eyes and turn my face away from the cable. Once I replaced the cable my eyes stopped hurting. It is things like this which have kept my mind open to any possibility and that is the way I went when I decided to go see this movie.      AFTER MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN to take possession of a rundown house she inherited from her father, a single mom and her two children were unaware there was something special about the house and land around it. With Carrie Coon (The Post, Gone Girl) as Callie, Paul Rudd (Ant-Man franchise, Our Idiot Brother) as Grooberson, Finn Wolfhard (It franchise, Stranger Things-TV) as Trevor, McKenna Grace (Gifted, Annabelle Comes Home) as Phoebe and newcomer Logan Kim as Podcast; this long-awaited adventure, comedy fantasy in the franchise did not fully materialize for me. The acting was good; I especially admired the performances of McKenna and Finn. However, I thought the script was weak. There could have been more excitement, humor and suspense; everything seemed like a light version of what it was intended to be. Of course, there also was the nostalgic aspect which made things more bearable, especially the last part of the movie. I went into this film with no expectations and came out with just an okay feeling that I saw it, but no wow factor. There were a couple of extra scenes during the ending credits.                                  

2 ¼ stars  

Flash Movie Review: F9 The Fast Saga

A FOND CHILDHOOD MEMORY OF MINE was the many times I went to the auto show. Having built and painted a fleet of model racing cars, I loved seeing all the new cars inside the convention center. The faster a car could go, the more I was attracted to it. I would impatiently wait by a sports car, wishing the attendees sitting inside would get out, so I could sit behind the wheel and pretend I was speeding down a long highway. There was not one compartment, switch or knob that I left untouched. At some of the displays there were hired people, dressed in fancy clothes, who would walk around the car and talk about it to any passing person. To emphasize the point, they would eagerly open a car door to invite the individual to come and take a seat in the “latest,” most “advanced” automobile that is out on the street today. I took all of this in, fantasizing that one day I could get hired to talk about all the cars on display. Adding to my excitement, would be all the pamphlets and paraphernalia that the different auto manufacturers would pass out. By the end of the day, I usually had two full bags of stuff that I collected throughout the exhibit.      I HAD ANOTHER SPECIAL MEMORY FROM my times at the auto show. In the cafeteria where we would stop for lunch, they sold one of my favorite cookies but in a smaller size. I loved the idea of my favorite cookie being in a bite-size form because they were so easy to pop in my mouth. And they would not leave any crumbs. I always made sure I finished the bag before we would continue our way through the convention center. Even to this day, I remember those little sized cookies. Now, when I go to the grocery store, there are so many options to my favorite cookie that it becomes overwhelming. I remember when they changed the packaging and proudly proclaimed “New & Improved” across the top. They tasted the same to me. However, with their latest version, I must tell you I did not think they tasted as good as I remembered. After so many years, I hope I am not just getting bored with them; they did not excite me like I know they did in the past. I feel the same about this latest installment in the film franchise despite my love of fast cars.      AFTER HAVING SETTLED INTO A QUIET, idyllic life in the country, a crisis forces Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel (Bloodshot, The Last Witch Hunter), and the crew to deal with a terrorist that can match their fight and driving skills. With Michelle Rodriguez (The Assignment, Battle Los Angeles) as Letty, Jordana Brewster (American Heist, Home Sweet Hell) as Mia, Tyrese Gibson (Black and Blue, Transformers franchise) as Roman and John Cena (Vacation Friends, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Jakob; this action, crime adventure took the stunt driving to a new level. I enjoyed watching the over-the-top car scenes; however, there were so many of them that it got repetitive for me. There was no place for logic nor was there any time to focus on the characters. It was humor, race, pause for words of wisdom and repeat. The script could have gotten some help if it had incorporated more of Charlize Theron’s character because one of the “evil” characters was not very evil in my opinion. The cast appears quite comfortable with each other and I imagine they are enjoying themselves during the filming process. I am afraid compared to the prior installments in this film franchise, this latest one was more of a basic model instead of being top of the line. There was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Water Man

AFTER I FINISHED WATCHING THIS MOVIE, I switched over to the news. The newsman was reporting about an issue a local hospital was having with one of its patients. The screen changed and the image of a woman popped on the TV screen. The shot was from the neck up; she had skin that was wrinkled into deep crevices by the sun. On top of her head, she wore a baseball type of cap that was bejeweled with colored stones to look like the American flag. There was no sound coming from her despite her mouth moving. The reporter was saying this woman did not believe in the COVID vaccines. She wound up being admitted into the hospital because she contracted COVID, and she wanted to be treated with a drug she read about on the internet that claims to cure the disease. It was a medicine that is given to horses. Because the drug is not approved by the FDA for humans, the hospital would not administer it to her. She was fighting them for it. I sat there in bewilderment. How did things get to the point where humans were perfectly fine ingesting medications formulated for animals? Death, I know, can be a huge motivator and I know I would want to learn as much as possible on how to combat whatever illness befalls me. However, I would want to hear from scientists and doctors, not the internet necessarily.      I KNEW A FAMILY THAT SUFFERED a major loss of one of their family members. When the person was diagnosed the family went into shock. The older family members understood the severity of the disease; the children only knew it was “bad.” I remember one of the kids delved into a fantasy life to cope with the changes that were taking place in the household. The child believed there were magic seeds that could cure her parent. Anytime she went outside, the young child would spend most of her time searching for these seeds in flower beds, around trees, in sidewalk cracks and even along the curbs of the streets. She was convinced if she could find these seeds and give them to her parent, it would make them feel better. The reason I mention this little girl is because to me, there is a similarity between her and the woman that was reported in the news who is demanding a horse pill to cure herself. Each of them is looking to fantasy for a cure; the difference being one is a child and the other is an adult. For those who may have forgotten what it is like to be a child, this dramatic family adventure can remind you.      WITH HIS MOTHER’S ILLNESS GETTING WORSE, a young boy sets out to find a cure for her. With Lonnie Chavis (This is Us-TV, Magic Camp) as Gunner Boone, David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, Don’t Let Go) as Amos Boone, Rosario Dawson (Eagle Eye, The Captive) as Mary Boone, Amiah Miller (Lights Out, War for the Planet of the Apes) as Jo Riley and Alfred Molina (Boogie Nights, The Devil has a Name) as Jim Bussey; this movie had a touching story that was easy to watch. I thought the cast was well suited to tell the story. The script was good though it was close to predictable and the reason I say that is because some of the scenes were done in a heavy-handed way. A lighter touch would have allowed the scene to mature and grow I believe. I also enjoyed the way the writers introduced the minor story line and kept it low key for the viewer to connect the pieces. There have been other similar stories told before; the difference for me was this one had a gentleness in the way the story was told that was much appreciated.

2 ½ stars  

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