AT FIRST GLANCE, I THOUGHT THERE was a miniature guillotine sitting on their kitchen counter. I was over at a friend’s house after school, and we had gone into the kitchen to get a snack. Sitting next to their toaster oven was this small, blue colored contraption that had a partially exposed razor blade attached inside of its open cover. I asked my friend about it and he said his mother used it to cut pills. This was the first time I had ever heard about someone cutting their pills. It never even occurred to me that a pill could be cut in two. When I was a little kid, if I needed to take a pill, I had to have it dissolved in water before I could swallow it. I wanted to see how this device worked but my friend said he did not want to play around with it. I suggested if he did not want to cut one of his mother’s pills, maybe a celery stalk could work. He nixed the idea, and I did not want to push it any further. However, I started wondering why a person would cut their medicine dosage. Was my friend’s family poor and could not afford their prescriptions? Did the drug make his mother sick, so she cut them to lower the side effects? So, all I did was ask him why she cuts pills; he said when she starts feeling better, she likes to take less and save a few pills in case of a relapse later. THAT WAS MY FIRST EXPOSURE TO someone manipulating their medical advice, but it would not be the last. I knew someone who needed an organ transplant; essentially, he was told if he did not get one, he would not live beyond one more year. I cannot tell you the things he did, but he wound up getting the procedure in the nick of time. Another person I knew needed a new drug to help him with his life-threatening illness. The expense to administer the drug was in the thousands; so, they only agreed to receive half a dose. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have to cut corners when it comes to one’s health. How does someone decide whether to have a roof over their head or use most of their savings to help prolong their quality of life. I am sure we can all have a lengthy conversation about the world’s health care and drug systems and I certainly hope no one ever has to go through what the family had to in this dramatic, action thriller. WHEN A POSSIBLE LIFESAVING DRUG WAS pulled back by the drug company, there was little hope for Ray Cooper’s, played by Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Dune), wife to beat her illness. Ray was determined to find the cause for the sudden removal of this miracle drug. With Isabela Merced (Instant Family, Dora and the Lost City of Gold) as Rachel Cooper, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven, Murder on the Orient Express) as Amos Santos, Adria Arjona (Life of the Party, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Amanda Cooper and Amy Brenneman (The Jane Austen Book Club, Foster Boy) as Diana Morgan, the bones of this story were solid. However, the execution of it was clumsy. I liked the idea and thought the action scenes were exciting, but there was nothing new presented in this film. Jason was okay but I felt the script did not provide more opportunity to display a larger range of emotions. The surprise twist in the story was unsatisfactory; I found it unbelievable. As I mentioned earlier, the intention to bring this story to the big screen was noble, but it arrived dead on arrival.
1 ¾ stars
I KEPT THINKING I WAS SEEING something different compared to my friend. The way she talked, you would have thought her daughter was going to be a superstar. Now I am not an expert, but I thought her daughter was a good dancer. My friend had been a dancer and as soon as her daughter was old enough, she enrolled her into dance classes. As the daughter progressed in her training she eventually moved up into the competitive world of dance. Her mother was overjoyed and agreed to take her wherever the competitions were located. Since I had been part of this progressive journey, I came to realize my friend was reliving her dance years through her daughter. What tipped me off that the young dancer was not as enthusiastic as her mother was her facial expressions. I did not see joy or happiness when she danced; it was as if she was more like a robot who had been programmed to go through the steps in precise order. There was no passion coming out of her as far as I could tell. I could not imagine how much money my friend invested in her daughter’s training and costumes over the years. The way my friend talked about her daughter, I could tell she was placing her feelings on top of her daughter’s. It was hard when the daughter told her mother she would no longer participate in competitions and give up dancing. My friend was shattered. MY FRIEND AND HER DAUGHTER WERE not the first parent/child relationship I have seen where the two were not in synch about the child’s future. I worked for a man who brought his son into the business to eventually take over from him when he retired. The son was not interested in running a business; however, he certainly liked tapping into the company’s finances for his own personal use. There was nothing I could do about it; I was just an employee, but I could see the son’s way of doing business was not a sustainable business solution for growth. Eventually there would not be enough funds for the company to operate based on how much money was going into the son’s pocket. Sadly, my thinking was accurate because the company eventually closed after I had left it, just in time. When it comes to choosing a hobby or career path, I believe the child should be allowed to investigate their desires. If they succeed, then it was meant to be and if they fail, they will learn from it. It is one thing to encourage a child down a certain path, but I would never predetermine what they should become. It causes a conflict which I detected taking place in this action, adventure drama. WITH HIS FATHER BEING GIVEN THE role of ruler over a distant planet, the visions Paul Atreides, played by Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy, Lady Bird), was seeing became increasingly disturbing. With Rebecca Ferguson (Doctor Sleep, Men in Black: International) as Lady Jessica Atreides, Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Spider-Man franchise) as Chani, Oscar Isaac (Star Wars franchise, At Eternity’s Gate) as Duke Leto Atreides and Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Sweet Girl) as Duncan Idaho; this science fiction picture was visually and musically alluring. I found the sets and film shots enticing; not to be a cliché but the style had an otherworldly effect on the presentation. Having said that, I found the script to be weak compared to these stand-out features. The story was slow moving and as the movie progressed, I began to lose interest. I did not realize this film was Part One which I am not always a fan of experiencing. Because of that I did not care much for the ending. My experience of watching this film was like a comet passing across the sky; it surprises and ignites the imagination, but it is short lived.
2 ½ stars
THE WORLD HAS A DIFFERENT FEELING for those who walk through life with a strong sense of confidence. To believe in one’s own capabilities has an immediate, positive affect on a person’s persona. I have seen what confidence or the lack of can do to an individual. What fascinates me the most is how does a person become confident? At first, I thought it was something that you were born with, as if it was based on genetics. However, the more examples I encountered the more my thinking changed to the idea that outside influences play a large part in molding a person’s confidence. Parents and other family members, I believe, play a major role in whether a child grows into becoming a confident individual or not. I have come across a multitude of parents whose actions prevent their child from feeling confident. There are some parents who have no idea how their words can send their child reeling into a cavern of uncertainty; simply saying “Why did you do that?” can be taken one of two ways. It could be asked to see a child’s thought process, or it can be said with a harsher tone, so it immediately comes out in a negative way. ALONG WITH FAMILY MEMBERS THERE ARE other forces that come into play regarding a child’s perceptions about his or her own abilities. It can be a teacher, cashier; pretty much anyone who provides a positive reinforcement to the child. There was a family I used to know who had three children. For whatever reason the oldest child seemed, at least to me, to get most of the parents’ attention. They would do more things for this eldest child, such as signing them up for multiple classes and sports. The middle child became quiet despite trying to find ways to please his parents, hoping to gain their attention aka affection. Sadly, by living in the shadow of the older sibling, the parents did not realize what they were doing. As the children grew up the middle child excelled in science with the encouragement of a couple of teachers. Experiments were entered into science fairs and winning most of the time. This middle child never informed the parents; instead took the ribbons and certificates and placed them in a three-ring binder that he kept up on a shelf. Not until his achievements in science became newsworthy did the parents know about their gifted middle child. The oldest sibling grew up resenting his parents for pushing him into things he did not have the skills to handle properly and as an adult lived in the shadow of his middle brother. Family dynamics certainly can wreak havoc on its members; you can definitely see it here in this action, adventure fantasy. DESPITE HAVING BEEN PICKED ON AS A child Arthur, played by Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian, Game of Thrones-TV), grew up to be a strong and confident man. But when his mother Queen Atlanna’s, played by Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased, The Beguiled), people needed him to take his rightful place in the kingdom; Arthur felt he could never be their ruler. It would take a war for Arthur to try and fight his way to the throne. With Amber Heard (The Rum Diary, 3 Days to Kill) as Mera, Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Vulko and Patrick Wilson (The Commuter, The Conjuring franchise) as King Ora; this picture provided some good old-fashioned fun. The visuals were creative and colorful as this picture was heavy into CGI effects. Jason was perfect in the role and did as much as he could with the uneven script. He had a look and swagger that worked well for him in the story. I felt the script needed a rewrite with more focus on the main story line. There was plenty of action throughout the film; but at times, it was going too fast to really appreciate the fight scenes. All in all, this was quite an enjoyable and thrilling viewing experience. Besides Arthur being confident in the story, the writers had to be confident based on the extra scene they included in the middle of the ending credits.
PLANS HAD BEEN FINALIZED several weeks before the event. Schedules were coordinated to make sure everyone was available to spend the weekend together. The kids only cared about getting to the amusement park to see some of their favorite television and toy characters. Commercials that showed the things one could do at the park were a constant companion to the children’s television shows. Anytime the TV was on it would only be a matter of minutes before one could hear the famous jingle and tagline for the amusement park. For the weeks leading up to the big day, the siblings and cousins could not stop talking about what rides they wanted to go on first or who they wanted to see. Every night when going to bed each child asked their parents how many more days were left before they would be there. The week of the trip had finally arrived to a changed landscape. UNFORTUNATELY A COUPLE OF the kids got sick and two of the parents could not leave their offices, due to an important schedule change with clients that they needed to address. All of the kids were devastated with the news the trip had to be cancelled. Some of the younger children were sobbing uncontrollably. The adults talked among themselves and finally came up with a solution they hoped would appease or at least calm the children down. Once everyone was healthy they would all get together and take a day trip to the local amusement park. This park had characters walking around like the other amusement park but they were more of a generic nature. One could say they were akin to being the supporting cast or distant relatives to the well known characters. The rides were fun for the kids but they involved random animated creatures the children had never heard of before. Where the initial trip involved an entire weekend to see the entire park, this amusement park was small enough to be easily covered all in one day. The children had a good time but their memories of the day soon faded away. I felt the same way about this action, adventure fantasy. RECENT SIGHTINGS SHOWED A new evil force was descending on the planet; a force that Batman, played by Ben Affleck (The Accountant, Gone Girl), realized he would not be able to handle by himself. Joining forces with Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot (Keeping up with the Joneses, Wonder Woman), the two did not know if there would be enough time to create a formable match for the destructive power wreaking havoc across the land. With Ezra Miller (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as The Flash, Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian, Game of Thrones-TV) as Aquaman and Ray Fisher (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as Cyborg; I thought the only actor who stood out was Ezra. However his character’s personality reminded me of the recent Spiderman reboot. I felt Batman was the mentor for The Flash like Iron Man was for Spiderman. The script for this film was bland to the point where it seemed all everyone was doing was some action scene. And speaking of action I thought the CGI was poorly done compared to other “superhero” movies that have recently come out. And my biggest complaint was the villain in this story; he was so special effected that he did not come across as evil enough. The villain needed to be dominant and evil in this type of picture. I felt I was watching a B movie; okay fun but nothing special. There were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.
2 1/3 stars
I would not say the notion was perpetuated in my small part of the world, but I did not see much encouragement to reach out either. It became apparent at a young age for me; in particular, it was one of the first classes I had ever attended. Within the small group of kids I sat with I was the only left-handed student; I was different. The teacher spent no time teaching me how to hold a pencil or a pair of scissors. From there my awarenesses expanded to race and religion. I do not want to say prejudices went unchecked, but it seemed the differences between the students were something that did not get embraced. Instead, they were sort of pushed to the side like guardrails on our growth path. I have seen a change in attitudes where being different has less negative connotations to it. Not enough in my opinion, but I see the younger generation being more receptive to each other’s differences. Some may disagree with me but I have seen how a school’s sports team rivalry grows out of control and permeates the students’ mindset. Sure one team wins and one loses but some carry that rivalry through their neighborhood, claiming theirs is better than a competing school’s area and on and on it goes. I remember how the elementary schools where I grew up were each given a negative nickname by the students in my school. The mentality of us vs. them was always present. WAKING up to find his parents dead, the only option Coyden Richards, played by Lucas Till (X-Men franchise, Walk the Line), could come up with was to leave and try to find people who wee similar to him, who could explain why it happened. This action horror movie’s story seemed familiar to me, as if I had seen it before in a couple of other films. I thought the teenage angst angle was one the writers should have carried further throughout the story. Soon into the picture I realized the budget must have been created with very little money. The reason being the directing was poor, the script was substandard and the acting was sad. For example actors Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones-TV, Bullet to the Head) as Connor and Merritt Patterson (The Hole, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) as Angelina Timmins could have done a better performance than what they did here. There really was not much in this movie to keep my interest; my mind kept trying to wander (maybe run) away. If the studio would have pushed to create a different take on the genre, I would have been better able to embrace this film. Several scenes had blood and violence in them.
1 1/2 stars
At this stage of my life there a few things I would like to give back and a few items I wish I could get again. It would be nice to have the thick head of hair I once had when I was younger. Back then I did not have to worry about raindrops sliding off my scalp and into my eyes. I wish I could give back the annoying brief dizziness I get when I stand up too fast from a reclined position. I understand these things are part of the territory when one ages; so truthfully, I do not give much thought to it. My philosophy is these age related things are infinitely better than the possible alternatives. I cannot understand people who are obsessed with youthfulness by altering their bodies to almost unrecognizable states. That is one of the reasons I had a hard time watching this crime thriller. Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables franchise, Cop Land) did not look human to me. Playing hit man James Bonomo, I found the role to be a narcissistic vehicle for Sylvester. There was the obligatory scene of Sylvester wearing boxers, so movie goers could gaze upon his chiseled body. The story had Sylvester’s character teaming up with detective Taylor Kwon, played by Sung Kang (Ninja Assassin, Fast & Furious franchise), when each of their partners were killed. The deaths lead the two men to a citywide, deadly scheme of corruption fronted by dirty businessman Robert Nkomo Morel, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Killer Elite, Lost-TV). Except for the tight fight scenes, I found this to be a lazy movie. The script was uninspired, offering several tepid catch phrases. There was nothing new in the movie, leaving me bored. As far as I was concerned, I thought Sylvester should embrace his age and look for roles that would be more appropriate for him. By the end of the film; I felt as if a gun had been pointed to my head, forcing me to sit through this poorly done movie.
1 2/3 stars