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Flash Movie Review: Atlantics

IF I LISTENED ANYMORE TO THE WEATHER reports I knew I would break down and not venture outside. I tried blocking out the rattling noises coming from the windows being bombarded by the wind. Though it was the afternoon the sky was as dark as the last breath of twilight. Despite the darkness I was able to make out the shape of the tree in my backyard leaning far to the side with its branches jostling like men in a rugby scrummage. Part of my brain was telling me to stay home, but the other part was saying I had to go and see this film that was only playing at one theater in a distant suburb. On a good day it would normally take me 45-50 minutes to get there; I could only imagine how long it would take in the wild rainstorm raging outside. For the next several minutes I had an internal battle of wits with myself. I asked myself how important was it to go see a movie on a day like this; was it worth possibly getting in an accident and getting injured? The movie was one of those independents that only come to the art house theaters; the fact it was playing in a place I could get to was a little miracle in itself. After arguing with myself my irrational side beat out my rational one.     SITTING IN MY CAR WATCHING THE garage door open, a scene right out of a movie was being revealed to me. Garbage bins were scattered across the alley, with some having their contents pulled out to scatter across people’s backyards. As soon as I left the safe confines of the garage, I had to turn my windshield wipers on high because the rain was coming down so hard. I had no trouble pulling into the street, but within the first several blocks I had to dodge around fallen tree branches. Rainwater was pooling at the street curbs because the sewers could not handle the amount of water rushing down the streets. If there was any comfort to be had, I found it by seeing there were other cars out on the road; I was not the only crazy person to venture outside. My progress was slow, but I was keeping steady until I came upon a viaduct stretching over the street. I needed to drive underneath it; however, the road was flooded. Making a U-turn, I had to find a different route. Luckily, I did nearly a mile away. Despite the change, I made it to the theater before showtime; but, questioned if this was the best decision I could have made under the circumstances. The main characters in this dramatic, mystery romance found themselves having to make tough decisions as well.      HAVING WORKED FOR MONTHS ON A NEW office tower without getting paid, a group of workers make the decision to seek out a better opportunity. The decisions they make will have a lasting effect. With newcomer Mame Bineta Sane as Ada, newcomer Amadou Mbow as Issa, newcomer Traore as Souleiman, newcomer Nicole Sougou as Dior and newcomer Aminata Kane as Fanta; this film festival winner had an interesting and mystical plot that was set in a suburb of Dakar in Senegal. For a cast with no acting experience, they did a believable job with their characters. There were some slow passages throughout the film, where some seemed a bit unnecessary to me. The script intrigued me as it touched upon multiple facets of life experiences. There also was an element of fantasy that threw me for a loop at first, but I soon found myself being drawn further into the characters’ plight. Because of this mix of reality and fantasy, along with the beautiful filming, I found this to be an alluring viewing experience. French, Wolof, Arabic was spoken with English subtitles.

 

3 stars   

Flash Movie Review: Phantom Boy

IT LOOKED LIKE AN ANT COLONY in human form to me. There was so much activity taking place around me, I did not know where to look first. It was my first time visiting a hospital because a relative of mine was brought there by an ambulance. The lobby had a long desk with 2 women sitting behind it who were passing out visitor passes to the people who kept coming in. I was confused why I wasn’t handed a pass when we walked in and when I asked, I was told I was too young. It turned out I was not allowed to go up and see my relative; I was upset but knew better than to make a scene. Relatives took turns going up the elevator to see our ill family member, so someone was always sitting with me on one of the long black leather sofas that had small cracks on the seat portion. Except for the short table in front of me with its pile of magazines, there was nothing for me to do. I made a game of counting how many people came through the lobby. There were some individuals who looked fine, striding in as if they were walking into a store; others did not look so good, needing help to walk into the lobby. They scared me because they looked old and frail, as if they were about to break apart like crackers being crumbled into a bowl of soup.      IT DID NOT TAKE LONG FOR me to get bored with my counting game. From the variety of people, I saw walk through the lobby, I tried to imagine what the patient rooms must look like. Did the rooms for children have any games or toys in them? Was there chairs and a sofa for patients to sit in when they did not want to be in bed? These were some of the things I thought about as I sat and let my imagination take hold. I wondered if the nurses and doctors could tell when a patient was taking their last breaths. Having seen cartoons and movies where the character dies and a ghostly image of themselves rises out of their body to take one last look at their body before flying away, I wondered if those ghostly shadows were floating through the hospital’s hallways. Would they talk to each other or even see each other? This film festival winner might contain the answers.      IN THE HOSPITAL FOR TREATMENTS TO combat a deadly disease Alex, voiced by Edouard Baer (Moliere, Alias Betty), discovers his superpower. He is now ready to help another patient who was in the hospital. With Jean-Pierre Marielle (The Da Vinci Code, Micmacs) voicing L’homme au visage casse, Audrey Tautou (A Very Long Engagement, Dirty Pretty Things) voicing Mary, Jackie Berroyer (Love is in the Air, Three Dancing Slaves) voicing La Taupe and Patrick Descamps (One, Beyond the Horizon) as Le geant; this animated, action adventure was an interesting mix of fun and metaphysics. I found the hand drawn scenes refreshing and exciting. With a slice of humor, the script was well done in presenting death and near-death situations in a favorable light for young viewers. My only issue with the script was the 2 distinct story lines; at a certain point, I felt the story shifted into a cops and robbers situation, that seemed far removed from the possibilities presented in the early part of the movie. I imagine this was done to entertain viewers not interested in watching an entire animated picture with deep thoughts. Nonetheless, I enjoyed following Alex’ journey through the film as part of me was wishing I had been allowed to see my relative in the hospital when I was a small boy.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Old Guard

I REMEMBER BEING TOLD IT WAS a difficult delivery. Who told me I cannot say; but I can recall hearing about the length of the delivery and the loss of blood involved with it. Despite the difficulties, a baby boy was born who was the couple’s first child. The infant boy had the best of care since both of his parents were doctors. As a result, rarely did the couple ever have to second guess their decisions; any health issue that cropped up and they immediately knew what needed to be done. In other words, there was never any lag time between symptoms and remedies. Not that the child had a sickly constitution; he simply had his share of coughs and colds, along with the other kinds of kids’ ailments. Through his school years, the boy never missed more than 2-3 days of school at one time. Every assignment was turned in on time; each getting a high grade. One could say the boy’s good grades were a direct result of having 2 doctors for parents; however, that would be an erroneous statement. The boy was naturally smart, besides being a good learner who studied hard. What did not surprise me was hearing about the doctors’ son going into the scientific field.      AFTER HE HAD FINISHED HIS SCHOOLING, the now grown man had taken a job with a company involved with auditory systems. He did research, studies and experiments that earned him respect from his colleagues and superiors. He was awarded by being named the project lead for a new division in the company. His major responsibility was figuring out how to mimic the sense of hearing for those who could not hear. He was excited with the opportunity to make a difference for those who were either severely hard of hearing or completely deaf. It took a few years before he created a prototype that might work in providing sound to the deaf; he referred to it as an artificial ear. His parents were beyond excited and proud of their son; their boy was making his mark in the world. Though his project never created a workable artificial ear for the average consumer, his work did play an important part in many other areas of scientific research around the world. Imagine back years ago, at the time of this man’s challenging birth, if things had taken a different turn that resulted in him not being born? The world would have missed out on his important contribution. I have thought about this for many years, though not as long as the main character in this action, adventure fantasy.      DURING A RESCUE OPERATION THAT WENT bad, the operatives’ special abilities were revealed. It was only a matter of time before people would take advantage of them, unless they could find the culprit and destroy the evidence. With Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Bombshell) as Andy, KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk, Native Son) as Nile, Matthias Schoenaerts (The Mustang, Red Sparrow) as Booker, Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Triple 9) as Copley and Luca Marinelli (Martin Eden, Rainbow: A Private Affair) as Nicky, this film’s strong suit was the action scenes. Well-choreographed with both women and men on equal footing; I was impressed with the cast, especially Charlize and KiKi. The story was not unusual for this genre and the script was predictable; but the fact that the action was not the prime focus made this picture an enjoyable viewing experience for me. I loved the historical aspect to the story; it played right into my thinking about differences caused when a person’s life is cut short or becomes non-existent. I understand this movie was based on a graphic novel. Whether there are sequels to the book I do not know; but I certainly hope this movie gets a sequel, because I think there would be a lot of ways the writers could take this story.

 

2 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Mirai

THE TWO OF US SAT QUIETLY playing checkers while people in the room were arguing back and forth between themselves. I had joined my elderly relative for the game after we had eaten dinner. I always enjoyed playing checkers with this relative despite him leading in the amount of games won. It was during our 2ndgame when a couple of the relatives, who were still sitting at the dining room table, started raising their voices towards each other. I had no idea what they were saying, so I started to turn around to look at them. My elderly relative patted his hand on my arm to stop me as he told me not to mind those fighting relatives. I asked him if they would start hurting each other; he said no, they both like being right and will continue yelling at each other until they get tired then they will each get up and walk away. He told me they always argue about unimportant things just so they can say they were right about something. “Pay them no mind,” he said. He also told me to learn from them which I thought was odd to say. When I questioned him, he said he wanted me to learn how to be respectful, that I can disagree with someone but respect that person’s feelings. We went back to playing our game of checkers.      THE THINGS THAT ELDERLY RELATIVE SAID to me during our checker games were invaluable to me. I have never forgotten our conversations and his thoughts about the things he saw going around him. To the other relatives, we looked like we were simply playing a game; but if they had paid attention to us, they would have realized this patriarch was teaching me important lessons that carried me through many situations. When I was that little boy, he was the oldest relative I knew. Those born before him, I only got to see in a photo album. The photos were old and faded. He would tell me who each person was and how they were related to me. I would ask questions about them and he would do his best to answer me in a way I would understand. There was one relative I was intrigued with because of a shiny pin he was wearing on his suit lapel in one of the photos. My relative told me it was a diamond and ruby pin shaped like a piece of candy because the man was a candy maker; how I had wished he was still alive. The little boy in this animated film sure was lucky to have his relatives.      FEELING NEGLECTED AFTER HIS BABY SISTER was born Yukio, voiced by Crispin Freeman (Young Justice-TV, Hellsing Ultimate-TV) found others who cared more about him. They were out in his yard. With Rebecca Hall (The Awakening, The Town) voicing the Mother, John Cho (Star Trek franchise, Searching) voicing the Father, Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent, Lost-TV) voicing the young great grandfather and Victoria Grace (47 Ronin, Tokyo Grandfathers) as Mirai; this film festival winning adventure drama had some beautiful visuals throughout it. I loved the whole idea behind the story, finding things that were touching and sweet. The one thing I had an issue with however, was the main character Yukko. I felt there was too much yelling and bratty behavior coming out of him; it was hard to sympathize with him after a short time. Also, I would have liked the yard scenes to have been drawn with more magic and fantasy to them, to make them stand out more. Despite these issues, I still enjoyed the story immensely. Because I did not realize I could have changed the language, I saw this film with subtitles; they were hard to read in many scenes. I still was able to understand what was going on while Japanese was being spoken by the characters.

 

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Excalibur

WHILE WAITING IN THE CHECKOUT LINE, there was a floor show taking place two aisles over from me. There was no way getting away from it, so I along with the other shoppers stood quietly amused while the child performer was in the middle of his soliloquy. I am sure all of us have experienced such a performance within our families and friends; but the one taking place at the grocery store was over the top melodrama. The little boy was pulling out all the stops, being a true “drama queen.” He was carrying on about a box of cereal and a candy bar. I assumed his mother denied his request to buy him one or both items. Weeping with tears rolling down his face I was able to make out part of what he was saying between his sobs. He was telling his mother that he never gets anything and all he is asking for is one candy bar. I had to chuckle when he told his mother he would share the cereal with her if she bought it. When she still declined, he wailed out “Noooooo” and fell to the floor. She told him to get up then turned to the shoppers around her and apologized. Each person gave a slight smile with a nod of their head; there was nothing to be done. You had to feel for the mother because a performance like that, I am sure, was not going to be a one-time event in her life.     I USED THE TERM “DRAMA QUEEN” to describe that little boy because I use that term for both male and female, since I have experienced my share of adult drama queens. If you have never experienced one just stand near a customer service counter and you are bound to see one in action at some point. When I took a part time job for the holidays, part of my responsibilities was working the customer service desk. Most of the customers were polite and understanding, but there were a few who would carry on how their event was ruined or they looked like a fool or my favorite, when I would tell them the delivery date of their order and they would go into this operatic aria how that was not acceptable ending with, “I was ruining everything!” It always astounded me how they would make a scene and blame me for something out of my control. I always wanted to tell them this was not a life or death situation, but instead kept calm and quiet. The reason I mention all of this is because I felt I was experiencing another melodramatic opera by watching this dramatic, adventure fantasy.      WHOEVER COULD PULL THE SWORD EXCALIBUR out of the stone would become king of the land. Though almost every knight wanted to try, there were some who had other ideas on how to rule. With Nigel Terry (The Lion in Winter, The Emperor’s New Clothes) as King Arthur, Helen Mirren (Collateral Beauty, The Good Liar) as Morgana, Nicholas Clay (Sleeping Beauty, Evil Under the Sun) as Lancelot, Nicol Williamson (Robin and Marian, Spawn) as Merlin and Paul Geoffrey (The Thomas Crown Affair, Wuthering Heights) as Perceval; this film festival winner was such an over the top production to watch, that I felt like I was living in a different time. Dated by today’s standards, I still was enthralled with the size of the cast, the melodramatic classical musical score and the overall cheesiness of the script. The story is a familiar one that has been done before, but this production felt like an opera to me. And the extra kick of it all besides seeing a young Helen Mirren was to see an equally young Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson, before they became who we know them to be now. It was such a trip down memory lane to see the big production values of movies from the 1980s; I had to wonder if people were more inclined to be over the top dramatic back then as well.

 

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Paradise Hills

I DID NOT SEE THEM UNTIL AFTER we were seated for dinner. They caught my eye because of what they were wearing, identical matching outfits. We were guests at a wedding, and I knew the two of them were not related to me. I had to assume they were a mother and daughter; the little girl looked like she was 5 to 7 years old. They were seated at a table nearby, in seats that were directly in line with my field of vision. Their dresses were made of a soft fabric like crepe or chiffon, with a pattern of autumn colored leaves all over it. With capped sleeves and a rounded neck, they each had a gold necklace around their neck that had a single dropped pearl dangling from it; in their pierced ears there were matching pearl earrings. I tried not to stare but the more I caught glimpses of them the more I found them fascinating in a creepy sort of way. Now I do not want to come off as disrespectful but seeing them dressed and acting the same made me uncomfortable. I have never been one to fall in line to fit in with the majority; I prefer people expressing their individuality and being different without feeling like they must conform to a certain set of “rules.” Watching these two with they identical hair styles and makeup just seemed so weird to me.      AFTER THE WEDDING EVENT ON MY DRIVE home, I spent some time thinking about that mother and daughter and my uneasiness with them dressing up to match each other. Having had some friends whose parents tried to raise them to be the same as their parents, I have always questioned the motivation behind it. Why did a mother or father want to have their child be just like them? Was it because that is how they were raised or maybe they wanted their child to be perfect, at least whatever they considered to be perfect? What I believe is children should be raised to be self-thinking, independent beings. Having spent many years feeling like an outsider, one could argue that has contributed to me wanting everyone to freely express their individuality. It is funny; I am remembering an incident with a friend who refused to go out to dinner with me until I had changed my clothes. He did not like what I was wearing, thinking it looked ridiculous on me. Because I did not want to argue I went ahead and put on a different shirt and pair of pants. I needed some of the gumption and fight the main character had in this film festival winner.      WAKING UP TO FIND OUT SHE was sent to a place that was going to change and mold her to fit into a certain society, there was only one person Uma, played by Emma Roberts (The Art of Getting By, We’re the Millers), knew who could do such a thing; it was her mother. With Danielle Macdonald (Patti Cake$, Dumplin’) as Chloe, Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell) as Yu, Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, Bloodshot) as Amarna and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil franchise, Shock and Awe) as The Duchess; this fantasy, sci fi thriller had some lofty goals. Visually, I enjoyed watching this picture; the sets and costumes, especially Milla’s, were wonderful. The cast was well-suited for the roles and worked well together. Unfortunately, I was able to figure out what was going to happen due to the script; it was a mashup of a few previous films in the same genre. There were some scenes that worked, but then others lacked focus. If this had been released (or maybe it was) at the theaters I cannot imagine it doing very well. However, seeing it at home made it more palatable for me. If nothing else, I certainly understood the message that was trying to be conveyed and commend the writers and director for trying to create something original. It was a shame it did not quite get to its high aspirations.

 

2 1/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Bulletproof Monk

HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT SOME PASSENGER side auto mirrors have the warning “OBJECTS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR” written on them? I always appreciated the warning and wish that warning would be written on many consumer products. I recently bought skin cream that looked like it was large enough to warrant the higher price. When I got home and opened it, I discovered half of the box size was added packaging. The bottle I took out, I kid you not, was the size of a kiwi; its box was the size of an energy drink can. I was not happy because first, the product was so small for the price and second, the packaging was wasteful and unnecessary; not all of it was even recyclable. This is why I wish that warning would be placed on stuff like this. How many times have you bought a packaged food item like a frozen meal or box of cookies, and when you opened it the stuff inside did not look like the picture on the front of the package? Don’t you find it annoying? And it is funny, when I bought the skin cream, on a friend’s recommendation; I thought the box was too light when I lifted it off the rack. I should have gone with my gut feeling that something was not right, that things did not appear, as they seemed.      HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I GONE AHEAD and done something even though my gut feeling was warning me? The only thing I can say about it is I am grateful I pay more attention to it now than when I was younger. It comes down to trust I believe; one needs to have the confidence to trust their instincts/feelings and act upon them. I remember a friend of mine who introduced me to their new boyfriend and I immediately got a negative vibe from him. As it turned out, my friend soon discovered what I had felt about the guy a few months prior wound up being accurate. The relationship soon ended after the boyfriend’s true self came out. We talked about the boyfriend afterwards and I found out my friend had gotten a weird vibe when they first met, but did not act upon it. My friend thought they had to be mistaken and did not trust their instincts. See? What did I tell you; it comes down to having confidence and that is something not everyone gets automatically. As an example, today’s film had such an interesting title and description that I decided to take a chance by watching it.      FOR DECADES THE TIBETAN MONK WITH NO NAME, played by Yun-Fat Chow (The Replacement Killers; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), has been protecting the sacred scroll. Seeking out someone worthy enough to replace him, the monk had a feeling about the man who picked his pocket. This film festival nominated action comedy also starred Sean William Scott (American Pie franchise, Role Models) as Kar, Jaime King (Sin City franchise, White Chicks) as Jade, Karel Roden (The Bourne Supremacy, Orphan) as Strucker and Victoria Smurfit (The Beach, About a Boy) as Nina. This fantasy film had an interesting title and premise. I enjoyed Yun-Fat Chow’s role the most but overall I felt this picture was a fantasy wannabe. The humor stayed mostly on the low end of the spectrum, as the special effects were dated. On the other hand this story came across as a hodgepodge of snippets from other movies; so, in a way the story was silly enough that made watching it easier for me. If we did not have a stay at home order in place, I do not know if I would have even reviewed this film. But I will tell you, I had nothing else going on so sitting and watching it was not the worse thing I had done all week. My gut feeling was correct about this fantasy film.

 

1 ¾ stars — DVD     

Flash Movie Review: Inkheart

THE ABUNDANCE OF LIGHTBULBS CREATED A continuous glow of light around the carnival. The Ferris wheel was the only attraction that almost reached the edge of darkness waiting above the glow. I could see the Ferris wheel was stopped and there was a man screaming he wanted to get out from the upper most car. He had broken through the car’s safely bar somehow and was hanging off the side, with one arm stretched out towards the closest metal beam. Barely visible to me were two small girls who were trying to pull the man back into the car. I had to close the book right at this point because the phone rang; however, the scary image of the man dangling out of the Ferris wheel car kept floating in my head. And that is the beauty of reading a book. Most of you know me as a person who watches multiple movies every week, but may not know I can escape into a book’s story the same way as when I am watching a film. The difference for me is when I am watching a good movie; I am falling into the visuals that are being presented to me. When reading a book, I am creating the scene based on the writer’s words; I am using my imagination to see what the author is describing to me. Both mediums are equally as powerful to me.      THE EXPERIENCE OF WATCHING A FILM (prior to our current stay at home orders) is more of a physical experience for me. Keeping in mind I do not watch movies on my phone, tablet or computer; I either have to go to the movie theater or to my living room television if I want to see a film. When I travel, the options are similar with going to a theater or using the hotel’s cable options. With a book, the story’s characters almost always can surround me anywhere in the world; all I need to do is carry the book or tablet with me. I could be riding a bus, eating at a restaurant, waiting at the airport gate for my flight or (please excuse me) sitting in the bathroom; the possibilities are endless. It is such a wonderful feeling to disappear from my surroundings, by using my imagination as I read the author’s words, to recreate their vision all in my mind. Some of you may already know when a movie is based on a book; I prefer to see the film first before reading the book. One of the reasons is because I have all the characters’ voices in my head already when I open the book. In regards to today’s review, I have the book this film was based on sitting up on a shelf waiting for me.      FOR YEARS BOOKBINDER MO, PLAYED BY Brendan Fraser (Crash, The Mummy franchise), has been searching for a particular book. If he could just read its story he was certain he could find his wife. This film festival winning movie also starred Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes franchise, Long Shot) as Capricorn, Helen Mirren (The Good Liar, Woman in Gold) as Elinor, Paul Bettany (Avengers franchise, Journey’s End) as Dustfinger and Eliza Bennett (Nanny McPhee, From Time to Time) as Meggie. This family, adventure fantasy movie had all the right elements to be a fun old-fashioned thriller. Over the top characters, magical characters, big sets, everything was here except for the wandering script. The pacing was uneven as some scenes were great to watch while others were listless. I was disappointed overall with this picture; however, I was okay watching the film all the way through due to the heart and imagination at the base of the plot. Though this viewing did not pan out the way I would have liked, I am certainly looking forward to taking the book this film was based on off of my shelf to read.

 

2 stars — DVD            

Flash Movie Review: Onward

MY LOVE OF STORIES BEGAN AT AN early age because of the stories that were told around family meals. I heard about so many different relatives’ lives that I would wish they were sitting at the dining room table to tell their story directly to us. I had a relative who was a violin virtuoso. He was self-taught and only played for family and friends, is what I heard. The only memory I have associated to this person was seeing an old black and white photograph of him, dressed in a suit and holding his violin at his side. He died before I was born, so I never got to hear him play. Another story I heard around the dining room table was about a relative who had saved several other relatives by sneaking them out of their country during a war. With the details of each relative’s escape not known, I would make-up my own stories about their perilous travels and act them out whenever I was playing with my toy soldiers. I would cover the living room of our home with piles of towels to represent the mountains and rulers as bridges which my relatives/soldiers would have to traverse on their way to freedom.      THERE WERE OTHER STORIES TOLD AT the dining room table; I remember being surprised by how many people were related to me. I used to wonder how much truth were in the stories that were being told; but, without having much physical proof, I had to rely on the storyteller to be accurate with the details. I cannot say it bothered me, but I was envious of the friends of mine who had physical remnants of their deceased relatives. One friend had a sword that was mounted on a plaque that hung in the hallway of their home; I think it belonged to a great, great, great uncle. Another friend of mine had their grandfather’s gold pocket watch. It was the first time I had ever seen a pocket watch and I was fascinated with the face cover that sprung open at the press of a button. At the time I did not realize the stories I was listening to would help me in my history classes in school. When the teacher was covering a world conflict or was focusing on a specific country, I would get a mental picture of my relative. Sometimes a city would be mentioned, and I could imagine my relative being there while doing something. I did not realize this ability would help me remember city names on our tests. How I wished I could talk to these deceased relatives; if only I had the opportunity the brothers had in this animated, adventure comedy.      UPON RECEIVING THEIR DECEASED FATHER’S MAGICAL staff; brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, voiced by Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, The Impossible) and Chris Pratt (The Kid, Passengers), set out on an adventure to try and bring back the magic of their Dad. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Downhill, Enough Said) voicing Laurel Lightfoot, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water) voicing the Manticore and Mel Rodriguez (Little Miss Sunshine, Panic Room) voicing Colt Bronco; this Pixar movie had the usual high standard of animation we are used to from this studio. Though the cast of actors brought life to these fantasy characters, the script did not have any magic for me. Out of the many films I have seen from this studio, this one was the most obvious with following the studio’s story formula. I did not find anything funny to chuckle at and I must say the father character was odd to me. The script was simple and predictable. If I had my choice, I would rather have been reminiscing about my deceased relatives’ stories than sitting in the theater to watch what these two brothers went through to connect to their past.

 

2 stars             

Flash Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog

THE MUSIC WAS PLAYING ON THE radio as we sang along to it. We had met for lunch so we could catch up with each other’s life; it had been a few months since we last got together. Driving on the way back to her apartment, my friend wanted to show me the house she was thinking of buying. I was fine with checking out the place, so my friend decided to take surface streets to the house to show me what type of neighborhood she would be living in. On one picturesque street, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the houses were being maintained. My friend slowed and came to a stop near the end of the block; I thought we had arrived at the house she was interested in. Suddenly, she started backing up; I asked her what she was doing. Before she could answer me, she came to a stop and rolled down her window to talk to a man who was standing in front of a car that had its hood up. Before I knew it, she popped her hood and the man was attaching jumper cables to her battery. I sat there in disbelief; I did not even see this guy as we were driving down the street. Within a couple of minutes, the man’s car was running, and we continued on our way.      IT WAS SOME TIME LATER AFTER I had left my friend and was home, that I replayed that whole helpful scene in my head. I was struck with the fact that my friend was willing to help a stranger with no hesitation. When I had asked her why she stopped, she said she figured something was wrong by the way the man was looking at his car’s engine. Was I so fearful and mistrustful that I would have continued driving by without stopping I wondered? The next question I had was why was I mistrustful and fearful? In my past, I had been taken advantage of by strangers. Things like being asked for spare change or sign up for a promotion that later turned out to be fake; after several bogus incidents, I stopped offering any help. I guess you could say I became hardened towards those asking for help. Yet, I have always been willing to help friends and family. But as I am writing this, I am recalling times where I did help strangers; the shopper who could not reach the top shelf or the train passenger who was lost would be my examples. Seeing the help the main character offered in this action, adventure film has made me reassess my feelings about helping a stranger.      DESPITE HAVING NEVER SEEN SUCH A being did not stop Tom Wachowski, played by James Marsden (Hairspray, Enchanted), from agreeing to help the being called Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz (This is Where I Leave You, Parks and Recreation-TV) get to San Francisco. Their trip was the last thing Dr. Ivo Robitnik, played by Jim Carrey (The Truman Show, Mr. Popper’s Penguins), wanted to see succeed. With Tika Sumpter (Ride Along franchise, The Old Man & the Gun) as Maddie Wachowski and Natasha Rothwell (A Year and Change, Insecure-TV) as Rachel; this family fantasy based on the video game was a fun movie watching experience. The message was sweet about friendship and friends in need; the humor was cute and pleasant. There was nothing extreme or harsh in any of the scenes. And the big surprise was seeing Jim excelling at the physical comedy; I felt I was watching a much younger Jim Carrey because he was so into his role. This picture was easy to watch and if nothing else I appreciated the way it made me look at my feelings about helping strangers. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits.

 

2 ½ stars      

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