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Flash Movie Review: Slumberland

I HAVE BEEN MANY THINGS IN my lifetime. I was a music DJ, packing the clubs where I played to capacity. My favorite places were the ones that had the best light shows. One club had lasers and mirrors placed around the dance floor in such a way that when the fog machine was in use, it looked like there were waves at high tide above the patrons’ heads. Another time I was a double agent, following suspects and keeping track of their whereabouts. There were times when I would get into an altercation with a foreign agent, where I had to rely on my incredible martial arts skills to subdue them. My time as an agent did not last long because I wanted to be an actor. My talent was having a face that could show intense emotions, from piercing hot anger to heartbreaking sadness; I was positive I would get an Academy Award one day, for one of my performances. One of my earliest careers was being a religious singer, which I was going to take up after I retired from being a window washer. All these jobs were things I used to daydream about when I was quite young. Though I never pursued them in real life, in my daydreams I was the best at each one of them.      MY YEARS OF DAYDREAMING DURING MY YOUTH (and presently from time to time), led me to explore the science of dreams when I was attending college. A couple of things I still remember from those years is that the main character in our dreams is usually us and when you wake up in the middle of a dream, if you ponder what the outcome would have been, you will be less tired through the day. There was a short period of time where I was experiencing the same type of dream over and over. I was being chased by an entity that was determined to kill me. I would wake up with a start each time, not sure if the dream was real and if there was someone in my house; it was awful. Because I never could see who was chasing me in the dream, I had a difficult time trying to make sense of the images. However, once I came to an understanding of what the dream might have meant, it stopped replaying during my sleep. To this day, I am still fascinated with dreams, both mine and the ones that are told to me. So, when I heard about this movie, I wanted to view it and see what kind of dreams other people experience.      A YOUNG GIRL, WHO RECENTLY LOST her father, finds a hidden treasure map. It was not your typical map; it was a map to one’s dreams. With Jason Momoa (Dune, Aquaman) as Flip, Marlow Barkley (Spirited, Single Parents-TV) as Nemo, Chris O’Dowd (The Sapphires, The Program) as Philip, Kyle Chandler (Game Night, Manchester by the Sea) as Peter, and Weruche Opia (When Love Happens Again, The Bad Education Movie) as Agent Green; this adventure comedy, family fantasy was a visual treat; it was very creative and colorful. Add in Jason tackling an out of character role from his previous stints and doing it quite well, this was a fun film to watch. The script was on the light side for the most part, but the idea for it was solid. I would have preferred more depth for the characters and bigger surprises, along with a stronger buildup of tension; however, within all the themes, there were a few things that kept me interested. All in all, this was an easy film to sit back and watch; plus, the most important part I am guessing was the fact it did not put me to sleep.

2 ½ stars  

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Flash Movie Review: Avatar: The Way of Water

THERE IS PLENTY OF TRUTH AND plenty of examples that show beauty is only skin deep. I realized this at a young age because of a friend’s grandmother. My friend lived in the same apartment building, so I had met his grandmother numerous times. She was always well dressed, with hair that was never out of place, thanks to her weekly beauty shop visits. I remember how she constantly avoided being out in the sunlight for too long. Being at such a young age, I translated her prettiness for niceness; in other words, if a person was good looking, then there should be no reason why they were not kind. I do not know how I came up with that reasoning, but I was completely wrong. My friend’s grandmother appeared pleasant upon first meeting, but it never lasted long. My friend and I would be playing a board game at his house, and she would walk into the room, eating a bag of candy. She would offer her grandson a piece, but she never offered me one. From other times I was over there, I could hear the way she talked to her daughter and son-in-law; it was demanding, where she constantly had them bring things to her instead of her getting up to go get them for herself.      I DISCOVERED THE IDIOM ABOUT BEAUTY being skin deep was not exclusive to people. It could be used as well for buildings. In college, I had a class in a futuristic looking building. From the street it looked amazing, with an outer surface that looked like a checkerboard, with some of the squares raised up. There was a rooftop garden which was more of a novelty back then. When I discovered one of my classes was in this building, I was excited I would finally be able to get inside of it. Upon first entering, there were these cool orbital globes hanging from the ceiling that lit the hallway. My class was held on the third floor; during the warmer months, the room never got cooled off from the air conditioning. The professor told us when they built the building, they installed a HVAC system that was too small for the building. So, the rooms were cold in winter and hot in summer. I later discovered some of the windows leaked which led to a constant cleaning regiment to get rid of the mold. From such a dramatic façade, being inside the building was rarely pleasant. Not that it is as dramatic as that college building, but this action-adventure fantasy is in a similar predicament.      HAVING SETTLED INTO DOMESTIC LIFE WITH a family, life takes an ugly turn for Jake, played by Sam Worthington (Hacksaw Ridge, The Shack), when an old foe returns to the planet. With Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Amsterdam) as Neytiri, Sigourney Weaver (The Good House, Call Jane) as Kiri, Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe franchise, The Lost City) as Quaritch and Kate Winslet (Sense and Sensibility, The Mountain Between Us) as Ronal; this three hour and twelve-minute-long movie was a visual spectacular. There were times where I sat and wondered if things, I was seeing, were real or not. The use of color and detail in creating visual stimulating palettes was a joy to behold and the special effects were magical. It is a good thing because I thought the script was weak. The story is predictable and a bit repetitive at times. I was feeling the length of the film at some point which told me the writers could have cut the length down some. Spending a little more time on character development would have been beneficial in my opinion, though I appreciated the moral messages. And I did not care for the obvious ploys used in the script to prepare the viewers for the 3rd installment of this franchise. How long will that one be?

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

I CANNOT RECALL WHAT AGE I WAS except I remember I was not old enough to cross the street without holding someone’s hand. We had gone downtown to one of the old, regal movie palaces to see the animated movie, Pinocchio. It was my first time going to a movie theater and I was beyond excited. Having taken the subway, we entered out onto a busy intersection. The theater was one block away, but I could easily see it with all the flashing bulbs in its marquee. It was a Saturday afternoon matinee we were going to, and I did not expect to see a line of people waiting for the theater doors to open. I became anxious that there would be no seats left for us to see the film. After many assurances, we got into line and waited. To me, it seemed like it was forever before the doors opened and the line started moving forward. The lobby inside had tall arched ceilings. Figurines like angels and nymphs were hanging on the walls with some being part of the lights. Once we had our tickets, we entered the auditorium, and it was massive; I had never seen such a large room with three sections of seating. The wall at the far end from where we entered was covered by a thick, red curtain. We took seats in the middle of a row, halfway back from the curtained wall. It was not too long before the lights dimmed, and the curtain parted to reveal a movie screen. Gratefully, I sat on top of the coats that got piled onto my seat, so I could see the screen clearly.      ALL I CAN SAY IS I WAS mesmerized by the movie. I laughed at parts of it and had to be consoled when Pinocchio and his father were swallowed by the whale. I had no sense of time or how long things were taking; all I was focused on was the movie and the box of chocolate candy I was holding tightly in my hand. At the end of the movie, I started clapping with the other kids in the theater. I wanted to stay and watch it again but was told we had to give up our seats so people for the next showing could sit down and see the picture. I was hesitant but the promise of pizza for dinner finally got me out of my seat. That very first movie theater experience to this day is still one of my fondest memories. And since that time, there has been over 50 films made about the little wooden boy, Pinocchio. From the ones I have seen, none compared to the original one I saw when I was a little boy. So, I must tell you I went into watching this newest one by Guillermo del Toro with little expectations.      MASTER WOODCRAFTER GEPPETTO, VOICED BY DAVID Bradley (Harry Potter franchise, Catherine Called Birdy), was never the same after witnessing his young son’s death. His sorrow eventually motivated him to create a little wooden boy to honor his late son. There would be something more besides an honor for the father after he completed his work. With Ewan McGregor (Birds of Prey, Doctor Sleep) voicing Cricket, relative newcomer Gregory Mann voicing Pinocchio, Burn Gorman (Enola Holmes, Pacific Rim: Uprising) voicing Priest and Ron Perlman (Hellboy franchise, Nightmare Alley) voicing Podesta; this animated family drama was weird to me. I thought the stop-action photography was inventive and fun, but the script lacked joy and humor. The idea of setting such a beloved character in the middle of wartime Italy was so odd; it made viewing this film an unpleasant experience. If Guillermo wanted to make a statement about fascist Italy during WWII, then he should have devoted an entire movie to it instead of trying to combine childlike goofiness and death and destruction into one story line. I did not care for this film and would have preferred watching the original Disney one that I saw when I was a little boy.

                                    2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Blade of the 47 Ronin

I COULD NOT BELIEVE AFTER ALL these years; the city changed the street I grew up on to one way. All those years watching two cars trying to navigate between themselves and the parked cars that lined the street, then out of the blue the city now decided the street was not wide enough to accommodate more than one car at a time driving on it. I could have told them that decades ago. The apartment building, we lived in, looked the same except the back porches were now enclosed with a translucent type of plastic or PVC material to protect, I was guessing, the wood from the elements. From the houses down the block, there was nothing different that stuck out; they all looked the same, except for a fresh coat of paint or different floral landscaping. As I drove around the old neighborhood, I saw the elevated railroad tracks for the commuter train had extra support beams. They should have been added when I was living there because the cement back then was breaking off in pieces and the metal beams were rusting. Anytime I had to drive underneath the train bridge, the image of falling cement pieces always flashed through my mind.      IN MY OLD NEIGHBORHOOD THERE WERE two business districts; one was a couple of blocks away from where we lived and the other was near the lake. I decided to drive down them to see what they looked like these days. The closer of the two, where we mostly did our shopping, had changed drastically. The grocery store where I used to return soda pop bottles for the deposit money was no longer there. A flea market type of business moved into the building. There used to be four restaurants on the main street; today only one remains under a different name. I remember almost every establishment had an electric sign or at least lights that highlighted the signage of the business. Now, there were several businesses that I could not tell if they just opened because they had those vinyl banner signs hung up. Not that this is a negative, but none of the establishments sounded familiar to me. I did notice there seemed to be more litter strewn across the sidewalks and street. My memory was of a pretty (for commercial buildings) avenue with an ice cream parlor, independent drug store, clothing stores, among other retail businesses. What I was seeing was an unattractive strip of a bunch of hodgepodge stores, some with their signs hanging down off center and others with hand drawing on their windows. It really made me sad for the memory of a place that gave me joy as I was growing up. Oddly, though I have a vague memory of the original film, this sequel made me feel the same sad way.      DESPITE THE PASSING CENTURIES, LIVING AMONGST us today are the ancient Ronin warriors. They are not the only ones hiding from us. With Anna Akana (A Million Little Things-TV, Amphibia-TV) as Luna, Mark Dacascos (One Night in Bangkok, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum) as Shinshiro, Teresa Ting (She Has a Name, Don Peyote) as Onami, Mike Moh (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Empire-TV) as Reo and Dustin Nguyen (Zero Tolerance, Warrior-TV) as Nikko; this action, fantasy drama was confusing to me. I simply did not understand why the movie studio felt it needed to make a sequel. My memory is sketchy, but I remember the original movie had some beautiful cinematography and interesting fight scenes. At least there were decent fight scenes in this film; but the script was all over the place. I never felt connected to any of the characters, and I thought the special effects were dull. Nearly ten years after the first film, I just do not understand why the movie studio felt the need to do this film and then not do it well. Sometimes, it is better to leave the viewer with a memory of a decent film instead of trying to update it for profit. There were multiple scenes of blood and violence.                  

1 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

WE WERE A TIGHT GROUP OF four friends. Our friendship started decades ago, kindled by our mutual love for music and dance. Throughout the years, we shared in each other’s joys and tragedies. As the years passed by, we pretty much knew how each of us would react to a situation; whether it was at a party or a restaurant, we had each other’s back, as they say. I remember we had gone out to dinner and wound up at a bookstore afterwards. While walking around I got a call that a relative had died. My friends were there to console and comfort me before I had to go and pay my respects. The same could be said for any of us when one was experiencing a hard time. I cannot tell you how many times over the years we would congregate at someone’s house after hearing about their breakup with a significant other. With being so close through the years, there was nothing we could not talk about with each other. We knew about each one’s ailments, fears, concerns and when needed would housesit for one another. Throughout the years, like most people, there never was a time where one of us would entertain the thought of one of us not being there.      SADLY, THAT TIME EVENTUALLY COMES WHEN one is no longer with us. Suddenly, our foursome was turned into a trio. Gratefully, we had each other to help with the burden of sadness. Intellectually, I could process our friend’s death; death is an inevitable that each of us will experience. The only difference is whether it is at an early or old age, though early and old are more blurred these days. The hardest part for me is the routine that comes along with a long-term relationship. Being able to pick up the phone and talk to my friend was part of my life and incorporated into the things I would do on a consistent basis. It is the same with a broken relationship; I find the routines are the hardest part to overcome. And it could be the simplest of things like going grocery shopping together, that suddenly feels painful the first time after the breakup, when I must go by myself. One of the most important things I have learned is everybody mourns and handles grief in their own way; no one has the right to tell someone they are wrong for the way they handle their sadness. To see what I am talking about, this picture shows several different ways individuals mourn their loss.      WITH SOME OF THE WORLD’S NATIONS testing Wakanda’s strengths since the loss of their king/Black Panther, there was a bigger threat brewing near their shores. With Letitia Wright (Guava Island, The Silent Twins) as Shuri, Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Us) as Nakia, Danai Gurira (The Visitor, The Walking Dead-TV) as Okoye, Tenoch Huerta (The Forever Purge, Dark Forces) as Namor and Angela Bassett (Gunpowder Milkshake, Contact) as Ramonda; this sequel did an admirable job of honoring the late Chadwick Bosman who was the Black Panther. The film is beautiful to watch, and I appreciated the way the script wove in the emotional loss and its effect on people. On the other hand, I felt the writers went on too long with the mourning because it cast a maudlin pallor over the story. For a Marvel film, there was not the usual amount of well-choreographed action. My favorite characters were the ones that Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira and Tenoch Huerta portrayed; Angela had some wonderful intense scenes that broke up the monotony of the sadness. This movie did not have the thrilling wonderment of the first one; however, it was a good solid sequel to move the franchise forward. There was only one extra scene in the middle of the credits.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

AFTER YOU GET TO KNOW CERTAIN people, you can anticipate how they will react to certain things. At least that is what I have found to be true. I know a person, who I have come to known, who has a narrow view of the world. If something is different than what she thinks it should be, she immediately has a dislike or distrust for it. Maybe you know someone like this, who looks at the way a stranger is dressed or made up and quickly passes judgement on them. Having been around this person for some time, we were at a party where the guest list was made up of a variety of nationalities and races. This person never left her seat, that she purposely picked in a corner of the room. I would glance over to her from time to time, especially if there were any guests milling about in the area surrounding them. To a stranger, they might have thought this person had an itch in their nose, but I knew better. If this person did not “approve” of a hairstyle or outfit or I would hate to think race or nationality, they would ever so slightly crinkle up their nose and lips. I knew them well enough to recognize that “look,” as if they had just tasted something that was sour. Instead of venturing out of their bubble and learning about an individual, they sat there alone the whole night.      I WILL ADMIT WHEN IT COMES to food, I might not want to taste it if it doesn’t look “good” to me, whatever good means in my mind. However, with people it is a different story. That is one of the reasons I watch one particular singing reality television show. Normally, I do not watch any of the reality shows, but this one I enjoy because the judges are basing their decisions on the contestant’s voice. The judges do not get to see the performer until after they are done singing. I enjoy watching the talent and seeing how individuals who might not get a break in the industry because they do not “look the part” get to experience everything that goes along with sharing their special talent. This might explain why I frequently use the phrase, “Do not judge a book by its cover.” I have been pleasantly surprised encountering people who others may have been wary about based on some false, preconceived notion. The example I have used before is the man who struck an imposing figure but had the sweetest and most gentle personality. It is a message that rings deeply in me and why I wound up being taken by surprise in this adventure comedy.      IT WAS HARD MAKING FRIENDS AT a new school, but things were not all bad after Josh, played by Winslow Fegley (Come Play, Nightbooks) discovered who was living in the attic of his family’s new home. With musical artist Shawn Mendes voicing Lyle, Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos, Loving Pablo) as Hector P. Valenti, Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians, Sound of My Voice) as Mrs. Primm and Scott McNairy (12 Years a Slave, Argo) as Mr. Primm; this musical movie based on the children’s book series had a wonderful message in its story. The cast was fun to watch, despite some of them close to becoming cartoonish. The CGI effects were fine as well as Shawn’s singing. There were some holes in the script, where I thought the story was veering off a bit; however, it was not anything so blatant that disrupted the flow of scenes. The biggest surprise was Javier’s performance; I had no idea he could sing and dance. Children will certainly be entertained by this picture and, as a bonus, everyone could use a refresher course on not judging a book by its cover.

3 stars

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: 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: The School for Good and Evil

UNLESS I HAVE BEEN A WITNESS, I take the comment, “they are a good person,” with a grain of salt. You see, I believe everyone comes into this world with the capacity for being both good and evil. It all depends on what the individual choses to act upon. This is why, one of my favorite sayings is, “Actions have consequences.” I know for myself I am a combination of the two; when I was younger, I relied more on evil than good. For example, when at a party and I felt someone had slighted me, I would make them uncomfortable by my actions until they would leave. Nothing I am proud of I have to say; but I was an angry individual then. These days, I feel I am more of a good person and am always amazed how much easier it is to act that way. Being bad took a lot of energy. I know this one person who makes a point of always telling people about the good things they do for others. I am not denying they do it, but I always find it weird when a person must announce it instead of just letting it be. It comes off as bragging to me. And though this person claims to be good, they are the first to talk and say negative things about someone behind their back. They make fun of a person’s looks and/or clothing; I do not find that being a good individual.      IN PAST REVIEWS, I HAVE TALKED about those individuals who have done evil things; so, today I want to focus on a person I know who, for the circumstances they found themselves in, still chose to act in a decent, good way instead of being a mean vindictive being. When you meet this person the first thing you would notice is the lightness in their eyes and their smile. There is a warm inviting energy they exude that lets a person know they are in a safe environment. It is rare one must ask them for help because they are perceptive enough to understand and offer their help freely. Having been in this person’s presence, I can solidly state they are a good individual. There is zero trace of them acting in a competitive or sneaky way. To be honest with you, whenever I have been around them, I leave with the thought I wish there were more people like them in the world. I am so sure of it that I believe they could easily fill in for the head of the school for good in this fantasy comedic drama.      TWO BEST FRIENDS, WHO HAVE DONE everything together, suddenly find themselves at opposite ends when one is accidently picked for a different school. The separation will have a lasting effect on them as well as the schools. With Kit Young (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Origin) as Rafal, Sophie Anne Caruso (37, Crash & Burn-TV movie) as Sophie, Sofia Wylie (Back of the Net, High School Musical: The Musical-TV) as Agatha, Rob Delaney (Deadpool 2, Catastrophe-TV) as Stefan and Charlize Theron (Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Lady Lesso; there were several aspects of this movie that I enjoyed. The visuals and special effects were stunning and fun. I always enjoy watching Charlize in character and I thought she was a great counterbalance to Kerry Washington’s character. The message regarding good and evil was something I especially enjoyed and thought the writers did a decent job conveying it. However, there were other storylines that cluttered the message and made this film longer than it needed to be. The other issue for me was what I perceived to be the similarity to the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson stories. With some editing and a little more character development, I think this could have been a better picture. It was obvious the studio is hoping for a sequel, but I am not sure that would be a good idea if they are going to stick with the same writing team.                                                    

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Samaritan

WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY, there were people in my life who I thought were heroes. They just were not superheroes like the ones I read about in the comic books. There was this man in the neighborhood who I thought was the strongest human. He used his backyard as a workshop, so I would see him lifting and carrying these large and heavy planks of wood. The fastest runner in the neighborhood I thought was a boy who had the grace of an animal when he ran. It was not until I was older before I encountered individuals who I would classify as superheroes. I met a retired nurse who had helped in the delivery of every baby born in the town she lived in. That also included the pregnancies that had complications. If that was not enough, she found the time to walk at least two miles a day, despite having two cracked vertebrae in her spine. Coincidently, I encountered an individual who spent a part of each day crocheting baby blankets, which she would donate to various establishments in low-income areas, like day care centers and clinics. These individuals I have described are more of a superhero than those who brag about their accomplishments.      AT A COMPANY I USED TO work at, there was a senior executive who made a point of always mentioning his latest donations to charities. I did not fault him for sending funds to a charitable organization; but honestly, based on his personality I was not sure if he was telling the truth. He was a big braggart who liked to dress in a flashy style. The twisted part about all of this is the fact he was fired for stealing. I never knew if he was stealing from the company to make his donations; but based on my impressions of him, I would not have put it past him. Another employee at the company was someone who I highly respected. They were a survivor from both mental and physical abuse. Their journey led them to the job they had so they could save money to go back to school and become a counselor for people who had suffered a comparable situation to what she had experienced. To me, she was a superhero. We became friendly because we had something in common. It is people like her, who on the outside look unassuming, but inside they make or plan to make a difference in other people’s lives. Though, it seems like it is harder to find superheroes amongst us these days, you might see one in this dramatic, action fantasy.      THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT HIS NEIGHBOR that made Sam Clearly, played by Javon “Wanna” Walton (Euphoria-TV, Utopia-TV), think this man was a deceased superhero. There was only one way to find out. With Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables franchise, Daylight) as Joe, Pilou Asbaek (Ghost in the Shell, Game of Thrones-TV) as Cyrus, Dascha Polanco (In the Heights, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Tiffany Clearly and Sophia Tatum (F9: The Fast Sage, Riverdale-TV) as Sil; the fundamentals of this film were good, but they did not get freshened up to provide a better entertainment experience. I thought Sly did a particularly respectable job of acting. The script starts out trying to draw in the viewer; what gets me immediately is when a person is being picked on. However, the script rolled out in a predictable, generic way. Except for one plot twist, there was nothing else that was done in a new fresh way that could have surprised me. Despite these flaws, I was still able to pay attention for the most part due to the steady pace. If you have a couple of hours to kill and want something light to watch, then this movie can fit the bill. There were several violent, bloody scenes.

 

2 ½ stars 

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