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Flash Movie Trailer: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

I WANT TO CLARIFY BEFORE TALKING about the viewing of today’s movie, a good day is one where a person is alive and well. That would be at the top of the list in my opinion. There was this fellow I knew who when asked if he was having a good day would answer, “I am above ground, aren’t I?” So, keeping things in perspective, I am sure we can all agree there are many options we use to define a good day, maybe even a perfect day. For some people, having an easy commute makes for a good day. I can relate to this because at one time I had to cross 5 different railroad tracks to get to the office and rarely did I ever make it all the way without being stopped at a train crossing. Other folks may discover money forgotten in a pocket of clothing or a twenty-dollar bill lost on the street and that would warrant the day becoming a good one for them. Being able to fix a computer issue or a broken item in my home always makes my day brighter and my mood happier, since I am not handy or computer savvy. Everyone has their own definition of perfect and good when describing a day. I can say with certainty that my day was made perfect due to the circumstances that allowed me to see today’s film.      AS SOME OF YOU HAVE KNOWN or guessed, I have not been to a movie theater during the pandemic. I do not have a problem sitting in the theater with a mask on my face for the entire movie; however, I cannot trust other patrons doing the same thing, especially if they are not vaccinated. I had a free night coming up and toyed with the idea of venturing back to the movie theater. The issue was timing; I wanted to see a film right after work so the night would not get to be too late for me. Checking online, I looked at all the movie choices at the closest multiscreen theater near my office. Out of 20 film choices, three of them fit into my time requirement; two of them had start times that reflected my closing time. I remembered for this theater chain, their average time for showing previews was between 20-24 minutes. If traffic was good, I felt I could get to the theater in time. Not only did I get there in time, despite there only being 18 minutes of previews, I was the only one in the theater to see this outstanding, adventure fantasy. Already I was having a good day.      DESPITE TRYING TO AVOID HIS PAST, when a group of attackers confronted Shaun, played by Simu Liu (Women is Losers, Kim’s Convenience-TV), he had no choice but to show them what he was trained to do. With Awkwafina (The Farewell, Crazy Rich Asians) as Katy, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (Red Cliff franchise, The Grandmaster) as Xu Wenwu, Ben Kingsley (An Ordinary Man, Night Hunter) as Trevor Slattery and Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians, Tomorrow Never Dies) as Ying Nan; this action movie not only grabbed me near the beginning but took me to a faraway place filled with utter entertainment. There was folklore, incredible fight scenes, wonderful imagination, humor, drama and excitement; I loved every part of this picture. And this is despite the story having Marvel’s template for storytelling; it did not matter to me at all. The introduction of a new Marvel film superhero was handled in such a way to include back story into the drama and humor of the character. As with other Marvel movies, there were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits. Already having a good day, seeing this dynamite of a picture made my day perfect. Because of the entire movie watching and entertainment experience, I gave the movie a top rating.

4 stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

IT WAS NOT UNTIL WAY INTO my adult life before I ever heard the phrase, “Be in the moment.” And when I finally heard it, I was not sure what it meant. Be in the moment, be where? The reason I did not understand it was because I am not only an ultra-planner, but I am not spontaneous in anything I do. I am one of those individuals who can go from one activity/event to another and another throughout the day. In other words, I can go grocery shopping in the morning after breakfast then go work out at the health club, then meet someone for lunch, then go shopping for several items, get home in time to change clothes then meet up with friends for dinner and maybe a movie or pre-COVID a play. There was and still is little down time in my life. To give you an idea how I am now trying to slow down a bit, I now force myself to take small bites of food to slow myself from just inhaling an entire plate of stuff before the people around me have been able to eat at least half their meal. It has only been the past several years where I made a conscious effort to slow things down to actually taste the food I am eating or take the time to really see what I am doing.      BY SLOWING THINGS DOWN AND TAKING my time, I discovered there are some perfect moments that take place in a day. Watching a bee going from one flower to another, seeing a group of dogs playing in a dog park, sitting in a comfy easy chair reading a pleasurable book; whatever perfect means for each of us, there is a certain satisfaction experiencing perfect moments in life. I recently threw a surprise birthday party and made sure I would “be in the moment.” Seeing the expression of stunned surprise on the guest of honor’s face and feeling in the room the common energy of love and affection from the guests was intoxicating. I can honestly say it was a perfect moment among many that day. The only thing that would have made that party any better would be if it could be repeated. Imagine if we had the ability to relive the day. One could experience all the positivity the day offered, or they could make some changes that would make the day become a perfect one. It is an interesting concept that you can see being played out in this romantic comedy romance.      WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES MIDNIGHT, NO matter what Mark, played by Kyle Allan (All My Life, The Path-TV), may be doing, he gets to relive the day over again. Not much changes for him until a mysterious girl appears one day. With Kathryn Newton (Freaky, Ben is Back) as Margaret, Jermaine Harris (Ballers-TV) as Henry, Anna Mikami (Vox Lux, Birds of Prey) as Phoebe and Josh Hamilton (Eighth Grade, False Positive) as Daniel; this movie was sweet and charming. The chemistry between Kathryn and Kyle was touching and real. The story has that Groundhog Day movie vibe; however, I found the humor here to more on a gentle level that had a better fit into the story line. The script offered an extra element of compassion that I found heartwarming; it also surprised me a bit. This was a pleasant viewing experience that made me think more about slowing down to experience fully what I am doing. I found the message refreshing and reaffirming, be in the moment.

3 stars   

Flash Movie Review: How I Became a Superhero

DESPITE THE DJ’S MUSIC TRYING TO drown him out, the wedding guest sitting at my table kept going on and on about himself. The gentleman was an imposing figure, easily over 6 feet tall and stocky, with massive hands that gave his arms a sledgehammer appearance. I was not sure what industry this man had worked in, but he had been some high up executive. At least that is what my friend sitting next to me had told me. This man was telling us about the changes he had made at his company. I was appalled by the number of negative comments he had about his co-workers. He even went so far as to essentially say he went to a better college than anyone else in his department. At one point, I glanced over at his wife to see how she was reacting to her husband dominating the table conversation. She just sat there with a smile plastered on her face; I could not tell if it was an automatic response, or she enjoyed hearing her husband bragging about himself. It was boring to me, sitting there like a captive as he went on and on about his so-called achievements. What I found telling was the fact several of his achievements involved the reduction of employees, as if laying off workers was an accomplishment.      PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO BRAG ABOUT themselves do not impress me. I understand there are times when one should toot their own horn, but I feel a person’s actions tell me more about them than anything they can say. I remember this student in one of my college classes. She was “down to earth,” displaying a gentleness and kindness towards her fellow classmates. We struck up a friendship, that allowed me the opportunity to see more into her intelligence. Despite carrying a full course load of classes, she was tutoring younger students in English. If that was not enough, she was working on an outline for a story she hoped to write and publish. I was struck by the way she talked about the things she was doing; there was no bravado involved, simply hoping she could make a difference in someone’s life. No one in class knew about any of this and in fact, she asked if I would not mention any of her extracurricular activities to the other students. It is people like her that confirm my belief that actions speak louder than words. I think that is one of the reasons I liked the way the writers spun the story in today’s film review.      A NEW DRUG HITS THE STREETS of Paris that gives the user superpowers. It appears those who use it aren’t thinking of doing something good. With Pio Marmai (I Kissed a Girl, The Trouble with You) as Moreau, Vimala Pons (The Wild Boys, Elle) as Schaltzmann, Benoit Poelvoorde (Coco Before Chanel, The Brand New Testament) as Monte Carlo, Leila Bekhti (A Prophet, The Third War) as Callista and Clovis Cornillac (A Very Long Engagement, Eden Log) as Gigaman; this action, adventure comedy took some time to let the story unfold; but I was intrigued with the premise. I enjoyed seeing a different perspective on the superhero genre. What helped was the filming of this picture; there was a dark grittiness to the scenes that added an extra layer of intrigue. Maybe it is my own personal feeling, but I do not associate grittiness with the city of Paris. The acting was convincing and authentic to me. I will say the special effects were not on the level of a Marvel film; however, what there were was not a distraction. This was an interesting viewing experience. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits and though I saw an English version, this film was originally done in French with English subtitles. 

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Cinderella

CLASSIC STORIES ARE SOMETHING I CAN revisit again and again. During my school years, I wound up reading Moby Dick three times. I am not sure I can even define what constitutes being a classic, but at least I know a classic story has the ability to emotionally move a person. Love plays a prominent role in many classics. For example, My Fair Lady was based on the George Bernard Shaw play, Pygmalion and The King and I was based on Margaret Landon’s novel, Anna and the King of Siam, which was based on the memoirs of the governess to the children of the King of Siam. One of my favorite stories is Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. I do not remember if I read the story or not in school; however, my most vivid memory was seeing the movie directed by Franco Zeffirelli. It was a special showing that was being done in only one theater in the city. A friend joined me as we had to take the train down to go see the movie. To this day, I remember the theater because it was a big classic theater that had these art deco lamps hanging down from the lobby ceiling. To get to the balcony, there was a red carpeted staircase with gold-colored bannisters that curved up to the 2nd level. Because I loved the story of Romeo and Juliet, I knew I was going to equally love the movie West Side Story which was based on Shakespeare’s story.      AS YOU CAN SEE, I DO not have an issue with new movies coming out that were based on previous movies/stories. It can be fun to see a story told through a different set of eyes. In some cases, the movie gets remade because there is technology available to enhance the story that was not available when the story first came out in film. For me, some of the successful remakes have been A Star is Born, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Departed. However, as most of us know, there are also remade films that were disastrous. Off the top of my head, I can think of The Stepford Wives, House of Wax and Guess Who. I know when the original movie is idolized, it is hard to try and remake or update the story. It would be best if the movie studio doesn’t refer to the original movie at all; let their new creation come out with any false expectations. With today’s film it did not take me long to decide which category this remake falls in.      IN THIS RETELLING OF THE CLASSIC fairy tale, Cinderella has a dream to become a dressmaker. Marriage is not something she was focusing on. With musical artist Camila Cabello as Cinderella, Billy Porter (Like a Boss, Pose-TV) as Fabulous Godmother, Nicholas Galitzine (High Strung, The Changeover) as Prince Robert, Idina Menzel (Uncut Gems, Glee-TV) as Vivian and Pierce Brosnan (False Positive, Mamma Mia! franchise) as King Rowan; this comedic family fantasy took the original story of Cinderella and added a layer of female empowerment to it. I would not have an issue with this update; however, the script was a big misfire that dulled the delivery of the story. Though the musical numbers by themselves were fun to watch, they seemed so out of place to me because of the modern songs. Here was the perfect case not to associate this picture with the classic Cinderella. There were cringeworthy scenes that were painful to watch. The other thing that I felt diminished the telling of this story was the lack of chemistry between the characters. The whole appearance of the cast seemed flat to me. With the music and special effects, this movie might appeal to a narrow range of viewers.

1 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Suicide Squad

SOME PEOPLE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT THEIR soft drinks. I know several individuals who will not order a soft drink with their meal if the restaurant does not carry “their brand.” That seems a bit intense for me; I am not as picky. Regarding the top two cola brands, I prefer one over the other; however, if a food establishment does not carry the one I like, I will order the other one. Though they have a similar taste, the one I prefer is sweeter tasting and not as strong in my opinion. I feel the same way about fast food restaurants. Not that I eat at them often, but when I do, I usually seek out one in particular for their French fries. However, if they are not conveniently located to where I am traveling, I am fine going to a different fast-food chain. There are some folks who would not be as flexible going to a different place to eat from the one they like the most. To me, it is just food; I can always find something to eat, not that it will always be a healthy choice. I will say though, there are some companies I will not support due to their actions that have an effect on certain groups of people. Those types of businesses do not get any of my money.      DESPITE THERE BEING A COUPLE OF film studios that specialize in superhero movies, I have found myself to be somewhat biased when it comes to the films, they each produce. After having seen several of each studio’s films, I find myself looking forward more to one studio over another. Now, I still act the same towards both; I do not read any reviews or comments until after I have seen the movie for myself. However, the past several films from one studio have not been as captivating as the other studio’s movies. The studio I find myself being more excited about has entertained me consistently with their pictures. There is something about their scripts that feel more well rounded to me, with action, drama, humor and wittiness among other emotions. The other studio just never seems to reach such a high benchmark when compared to this studio. It is like that famous chocolate cookie with the creamy filling, where some people twist the cookie parts to eat the filling first. There is another food company that makes the same type of cookie, but I know no one who has ever bought them. Despite everything I have just said; I was pleasantly surprised by this action, adventure comedy that came from the film studio I tend to have lower expectations for their superhero movies.      AFTER A SUPER SECRET AGENCY’S MISSION fails, a group of extremely dangerous, imprisoned villains were picked for their particular skill sets, with the hope they might be able to complete the original mission. First, they would have to get along with each other. With Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots, The Legend of Tarzan) as Harley Quinn, Idris Elba (Concrete Cowboy, The Dark Tower) aa Bloodsport, John Cena (Playing with Fire, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Peacemaker, Joel Kinnaman (The Informer, Run All Night) as colonel Rick Flag and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences) as Amanda Waller; this movie was nothing what I expected for the most part. I did expect Margot to be good and she was beyond good. The other acting surprise was John Cena; I thought he stood out as well. This is not a picture for young viewers; there was extreme violence and strong language. It was a shock to me; a superhero film that was gory and intense, despite being colorful, fun and a parody at times. I did not care much for the shifting between short time frames because it diminished the excitement factor for me. DC Comics took a drastic turn with this picture by creating a darker and crazier version of its usual movies. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.         

3 stars     

Flash Movie Review: Earwig and the Witch

THE WOMAN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS old looking, but I did not know she was ancient. I was working on creating a wall of family photos and the photograph of her was sent to me. When I first got it, I had no idea who she was or the younger woman who was standing next to her in the photo. When I found out, I was absolutely blown away; she was my great, great, great grandmother. The woman standing next to her was my great, great aunt. I kept staring at the photograph because I could not believe I was looking at someone who was connected to me from such a long time ago. And when I say a long time ago, when doing the math, I mean she was alive when Napoleon invaded Russia, hence the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. This small and frail looking woman was seated in a chair or stool with her arms folded in her lap. Her clothing looked like it could swallow her up; the skirt hung down to the floor and her jacket or sweater was dark and long as well. She had a scarf tied around her head as if she were about to go outside, though the sepia colored photo showed her to be inside. I could only imagine what kind of life she must have lived, but because of her I was here.      DESPITE NOT KNOWING SOME OF THE relatives in the photographs I have in my possession, I feel a connection to all the people. It is a weird feeling that I do not know if I can explain but looking at all the relatives in the photos had the effect of centering or grounding me. I felt like I had tapped into my roots; I was not some transient who floats from one thing to the next without having a “home base” to return to. Maybe another way I can explain it is by saying my life story, though it is unique to me, shared common ground with the stories from all of these relatives, whether they are deceased of alive. This reminds me of another photograph I got that has 5 relatives in it. I found out that this particular photograph used to be quite famous in the family because it was the first and maybe only one that depicts 5 generations of the family in one photograph. Each one of them has played a part in laying the groundwork for me and my generation of relatives; I just find that so amazing. I know I am lucky that I can have a history with individuals who share the same bloodline as me. It is one of the reasons why I understood what the main character was going through in this animated fantasy film.      GROWING UP IN AN ORPHANAGE AND seeing her friends being adopted, only made Earwig, voiced by relative newcomer Taylor Henderson, wish for a family of her own. There was a chance her wish could be fulfilled when an odd couple came calling on the orphanage one day. With JB Blanc (Breaking Bad-TV, Bleach-TV) voicing Mr. Jenkins, Thomas Bromhead (I Got a Rocket-TV, Forest of Piano-TV) voicing the cook, Richard E. Grant (Hudson Hawk, Gosford Park) voicing the Mandrake and Vanessa Marshall (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy-TV, Young Justice-TV) voicing Bella Yaga; this film festival winner was Studio Ghibli’s first foray into using CGI in their animation. In some instances, it worked but other times I was underwhelmed by the animation. I could say the same thing for the script. For an animated film, I found this one to be dull and uninspired. The way the story ended was awful and there was nothing fun or enchanting about the story. I do not know if even small children would care for this picture. If I were Earwig, I think I would have spent more time wishing for a way to get out of this movie.

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity

I TOLD HIM I THOUGHT IT was a wonderful wish, but it would never fly in his crazy family. My friend was telling me about his recently deceased grandfather’s final wish; he wanted his children to stop fighting and remain friends with each other. I knew my friend’s family well for many years and they were certainly an argumentative bunch. They also were a fun group of people to be around. The best way to describe them would be to say they were unfiltered; whatever came to their minds was immediately spoken out loud. I asked my friend how the family reacted to their patriarch’s last wish and he said they were all on their best behavior, for the moment. He really did not think the current peacefulness would last long, since all he remembers from growing up is how the family could be laughing together at one moment and then arguing with each other in the next. I remembered my friend’s grandparents; they were short and quiet. They loved being around their children and grandchildren; however, if an argument started to take place between a couple of their kids, they would ask for silence and want to hear what the two siblings were fighting about. Usually this was enough to get the children to calm down or at least to stop arguing and walk away from one another.      LATER ON, WHEN I WAS ALONE, I sat and wondered about the grandfather’s wish. As far as I knew, there was no one in my family who had a final wish request. Though, I guess if someone states how they want their death to be handled, that could be considered a final wish. I know amongst my close friends and family members I joke about not wanting to suffer with sadness over their deaths; so, I would need to go first. However, I then tell them I hope to live a long life, so they need to take care of themselves and be around until my time is close to being done here. The other thing I thought about is what would happen if the person who is listening to someone’s final wish just flat out says they cannot fulfill it. I am so used to seeing people in movies agreeing to someone’s final wish that I just assumed everyone would be agreeable. But what if they have no plans to agree to someone’s final wish, but simply nod in agreement knowing full well once the person is dead, they will not do whatever was asked of them. I honestly do not know what I would do in such a situation. I cannot say the same thing for the main character in this action drama fantasy.      TAKING HIS MASTER’S LAST WISH TO heart Qing Ming, played by Mark Chao (Caught in the Web, Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe), makes his way to the city where he will find himself in a game of cat and mouse that will determine the fate of the world. With Allen Deng (Great Escape-TV, Ashes of Love-TV) as Bo Ya, Ziwen Wang (Enter the Forbidden City, Ode to Joy-TV) as the Princess, Jessie Li (Port of Call, Our Time Will Come) as Long Ye and Duo Wang (Bloody Romance-TV, Inference Notes) as Zhong Xing/He Shouyue; this film festival nominee was a weird mix of genres for me. It was part folklore, part X-Men, part video game and part martial arts film. I enjoyed the special effects even if they were a bit cheesy at times. The fight scenes were well choreographed and to tell you the truth, I enjoyed the imagination that went into them. The way the story played out, I do not know if this film was based on a book, comic book or video game. Of course, there was a moral message placed in the story; however, I found this movie to be one of those that will be easily forgotten. Chinese was spoken with English subtitles.

2 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Mortal Kombat

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WAS a “must do” activity for me at an amusement park or carnival was playing the arcade games. I loved the game where I had to aim the water pistol at a hole with a bullseye propped inside to make the balloon expand above it. The winner was the one who had their balloon pop first. Another of my favorite games was the ring toss where I had to toss a rubber ring and try to get it to land on the neck of a glass bottle. My friends and I could hang out inside the arcade for hours or until we had no more change in our pockets. One of my friends spent most of his money trying to either knock down stacked wooden blocks with a ball or three stuffed furry animals off a shelf with a beanbag ball. The problem with the furry animals was they were very small but with all the fur around them, they looked much bigger. When they were placed side by side across an entire shelf, it was hard to knock one of them off; but my friend did not care. He was determined to beat the game and receive his prize.      OUT OF ALL THE ARCADE GAMES, the only one I can remember that involved the shooting of a realistic looking gun was the game where one had to shoot moving animal shaped targets. I do not remember if the gun shot anything out of it; all I can recall is hearing a bell ring every time an animal was hit. It is funny how back then I never gave any thought to this game; but now as an adult, I find myself feeling uncomfortable about that game. Keep in mind, I am the person who is appalled by parents bringing their young children to R rated films or ones that are violent. Prior to the pandemic when I was going to the movie theaters, I would stop to look at their arcade room. It was not like I was expecting some of the same games from my youth, but I was stunned at the level of violence portrayed in the current ones. I could not get over the type of battles and fights taking place on the games’ video screens. What I find worse is how realistic looking some of the graphics are on these games. One game that involved fighting different characters had an exorbitant amount of blood being spilled from each vanquished character. And yet, this pales by comparison to what I witnessed in this film festival nominated movie.      AN ANCIENT PROPHECY IS ABOUT TO be fulfilled that will end mankind. A down on his luck MMA fighter doesn’t believe it until he encounters one of the contestants in this high-stake contest. With Lewis Tan (Deadpool 2, Sacrifice) as Cole Young, Jessica McNamee (Battle of the Sexes, The Vow) as Sonya Blade, Josh Lawson (The Little Death, Holly Slept Over) as Kano, Joe Taslim (Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek Beyond) as Bi-Han/Sub-Zero and Mehcad Brooks (True Blood-TV, Nobody’s Fool) as Jax; this action, adventure fantasy based on the popular video game was filled with blood and violence. I have never played the game, so I was not prepared for the amount of violence in this picture. The special effects were good as the story was kept at a fast pace. The dialog was cheesy to the point the film started to take on the flavor of a cartoon. The fight scenes which were well choreographed contributed to this cartoonish effect because of the fast pace and wild, graphic CGI effects. It was obvious the movie studio is hoping/planning for a sequel. Though if the level of blood and violence increases, I may prefer to play a game of Pac-Man instead.

2 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Soul

THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN something I thought I would never experience, as I am sure most of you have thought. When my state passed stay at home orders, I thought the only time I would be told to stay indoors was during a tornado or the threat of nuclear fallout. The only crisis I have lived through of this magnitude was during the AIDS epidemic. Though the transmission method was different, there still was a fear early on of getting to close to people. Back then the fear was unfounded; now it is real and could be the difference between life and death. I have known healthy individuals who caught this virus and succumbed to it. The suffering of being alone in a hospital bed as one’s lungs are slowly being squeezed of their last breath is a brutal experience. What makes this virus extra scary for me is how random it is in who will experience its affects. Some people don’t even know they are infected while others can get severe headaches, high fevers or death. I remember during my time at home, looking out the window and seeing the streets void of any human life. Pigeons scanning the sidewalks for a morsel of food, squirrels crisscrossing streets with less hesitancy and noticeable to me, less debris.      WITH THE LOCKDOWN IN PLACE, THAT also meant I could not go to the health club to work out, to restaurants, to theaters and so on. Suddenly Saturdays took on extra meaning because that was the day, I would order carryout, to help the nearby local restaurants. Food took on a different importance; instead of eating for sustenance, I was eating for comfort. There was a manmade lake close to my house that I had never seen. I drove to it so I could get my steps in by walking the circumference of it. Seeing the ducks take off and land on the water was something I had never seen except on television. When the weather got too cold outside, I started walking/jogging in an underground parking garage. Little did I know that the space would become by sanctuary of peaceful calm. Staying in touch with friends/relatives took on a new meaning. In the past, there usually was an activity attached to getting together; but now, just being able to open a window and talk to a friend who was outside on the front lawn was a joy. Sitting outside to watch the sun set felt more monumental than during pre-COVID. Hearing silence except for the birds in the trees was a new experience. Little did I think that living a temporary restricted lifestyle would allow me to appreciate the little things that can go unnoticed on a typical day. This Oscar nominated and film festival winner can explain things better than me.     JUST WHEN A SCHOOL BAND TEACHER feels things are looking up, he finds himself in an unfamiliar place where passion comes into question. With Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy, Robin Hood) voicing Joe, Tina Fey (Date Night, Sisters) voicing 22, Graham Norton (Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, Another Gay Movie) voicing Moonwind, Rachel House (Thor: Ragnarok, Baby Done) voicing Terry and Phylicia Rashad (Creed franchise, This is Us-TV) voicing Libba; this animated, adventure comedy had a lot going on with it. As to be expected from a Pixar movie, the animation was inventive and fun. There were some scenes that were rich with details, but others I found to be somewhat average. The script was different to me; I found it to be esoteric in nature. Young viewers may not understand the meaning of some scenes and might ask for an explanation. From an entertainment standpoint, I did not feel the sense of joy I normally do with a Pixar film. I did however appreciate the message; I only wished there had been more musical interludes.                                   

3 stars  

Flash Movie Trailer: Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

AS WE WERE COMING IN FOR a landing at the airport, the passenger in the next seat reminded me to make sure I don’t put my wallet in my pants pocket. I thanked him as I wondered what kind of city I would find in this foreign land. The flight was several hours and this passenger, upon hearing this was my first trip to the city, had updated me on a variety of places where I had to be careful because of pickpockets and con artists. I had heard similar stuff from friends back home who had visited this place before. My plan once we landed was to get my luggage then find the transportation terminal to take a bus to my hotel. The walk from luggage claim to transportation was short; once there, I stopped to put my luggage down to double check my paperwork on which bus I needed. About 25 feet away from me was a woman standing and talking to 2 guys. At first, I thought they were a group; but soon realized the two guys were native as they were talking about their cab that was parked outside. The way they stood next to the woman; she could not see that one of the guys was trying to slip his hand into her purse, that was hanging down from her shoulder. Before I had time to think, I yelled out, “HEY!” It was enough for the guy to move his hand away as the woman turned to look at me. The 2 men quickly walked away. What kind of city was I getting into?      GRATEFULLY, DESPITE THAT INTRODUCTION TO A new city, I fell in love with the place. My time there reminded me of another trip I took to an international city. On that trip, I had planned to incorporate a lot of walking into my daily sightseeing attractions. Of course, I had to try their public transportation at least once, which was surreal for me because I was able to imagine what it must have been like to be underground decades ago, while bombs were exploding above. On one of my daily excursions, I wound up getting lost and could not figure out how to get to my intended destination. With the tourist map in hand, I glanced at the pedestrians who were coming and going and chose a middle-aged looking man to stop and ask for help. He was friendly and unbelievably helpful to the point where he insisted walking with me, to make sure I got to the correct train stop. That chance encounter only enhanced the great time I had visiting that city. A moment of kindness can make all the difference; you can see it for yourself in this animated adventure comedy.      THE SIGHTING OF A UFO NEARBY makes the Farmer, voiced by John Sparkes (Calendar Girls, Peppa Pig-TV), see a new source of income; while Shaun the sheep, voiced by Justin Fletcher (Chicken Run, Justin’s House-TV), makes a new friend. With Amalia Vitale (Making It, Christmas Eve) voicing Lu-La/Me-Ma, Kate Harbour (Bob the Builder-TV, Timmy Time-TV) voicing Agent Red/Timmy’s Mum and David Holt (Angry Kid-TV, The Jungle Book-TV) voicing Mugg-1NS; this Oscar nominated and film festival winner was a joy to watch. Besides enjoying the style of animation in this film, I loved the fact there was no discernible dialog. Emotions and intentions were all conveyed with the face and body; it was incredible. The story was simple and there were no surprises per se; however, there was such a charm and fun element to this film that I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. The humor/sight gags were sly and amusing on multiple levels; some geared to younger kids and others to more mature, including adults. If this sequel is any indication of what to expect going forward, I will always enjoy visiting this farm where Shaun lives. Extra scene during the credits.

3 ¼ stars      

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