OF ALL PLACES I WOULD NOT have thought an amusement park would have been the place where I felt I was now part of a group. Growing up I never was much associated with any one group. I was not into team sports nor did I belong to any type of organization. Some of my friends had been involved with the Boy Scouts or after school programs; I never felt comfortable to be a part of such things. My friends were an eclectic group I enjoyed being with; but I also liked having my alone time too. During the high school years is when I really shied away from being labeled part of any type of group. There were the jocks who always hung out together and as far as I could tell did most activities as one group. If one person was going to a party then they all would go to it; if one person picked on a student then the others would join in. Another group that did everything en masse were the cheerleaders. If one of them hated something then the rest of them immediately hated the same thing. I know these two examples are considered stereotypical, but this type of group mentality was prevalent throughout my school. SO HERE I FIND MYSELF at this massive amusement park and we have special passes that allow us to bypass the lines of people waiting to get on the rides. I am not sure if I can describe how I felt as we walked up to the park employees managing the lines, showed them our pass and then directed into a separate line that was right next to the general line. As I walked by I looked at the faces of the attendees who had been standing there for 30-65 minutes; they looked tired, dehydrated and a bit annoyed by the long wait. So here I am walking at my usual fast pace and come up to other guests who have passes. I think we only had a 10-minute wait before we could get on the ride. As I am getting strapped into the compartment assigned to me I get this realization that all of us were being treated in a special way. Granted the tickets cost more, but I suddenly felt like I had something in common with this group of strangers; it was like we were a part of a secret club. It was a new feeling for me and helped me understand the group camaraderie that took place in this action crime thriller. SITUATED IN PLAIN VIEW IN the heart of Los Angeles stood a hotel that was run by a nurse, played by Jodie Foster (The Accused, Elysium), who only allowed a certain type of individual in to be a guest—a criminal. There were rules that had to be followed if you wanted to stay. With Sterling K. Brown (Marshall, This is Us-TV) as Waikiki, Sofia Boutella (Atomic Blonde, Star Trek: Beyond) as Nice, Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Blade Runner 2049) as Everest and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park franchise, The Fly) as Niagara; the set-up to this story seemed promising, along with the capable cast. However once again the movie studio focused on the cast instead of the script. I enjoyed this cast of characters and the script’s campy vibe, but nothing stood out as exceptional for me. Everything I was watching seemed familiar despite the cool looking sets. It also seemed obvious the studio would not be opposed to doing a sequel. It would be a mistake if they chose to keep the same writers. I may not be part of the reviewers who enjoyed this picture and you know what? That would be okay because I am used to going my own way.
1 ¾ stars
RETIRING BACK TO BED I could see the eyes looking up at me from my pillow. As I came to the edge of the bed there lying in my spot, with the covers pulled up to his neck, was our dog. He looked up at me as if to say, “Is there something I can help you with?” I grant you he looked totally comfortable and in place, but c’mon; he already had his own bed to sleep in. Anytime I had to get up in the middle of the night he would immediately jump into our bed once I was out of the room; he was such a character. Dogs have such a beautiful outlook on life I believe. They give unconditional love, get such pleasure in the most mundane of things like a stick or used sock and can be such great companions. To return the favor whenever I would say “doggie massage” our dog would immediately plop down on his side so I could give him a body massage. ANOTHER ASPECT OF A DOG’S LIFE is their ability to instinctively protect a person. However some dogs may have their priorities a bit confused; ours felt the need to protect us from small children. It was the weirdest thing. If we were walking outside and a small child was nearby our dog would stop and stare at them. A low warning growl would be heard despite our pleas to relax. We could never figure out what his deal was about small children. Right now my neighbors got a 2nd dog who is a real cutie. Anytime I walk out the back door and she is in the backyard she quickly crouches down into play mode, with her butt in the air and her upper torso stretched out down on the ground. Her front paws directly out in front of her in anticipation. She waits until I call out her name then bounds over to the fence for me to pet her; unless I am wearing a hat, then all things change. She does not like me in a hat because she will bark at me non-stop, staying just out of reach behind the fence. Despite that quirk I still am quite fond of her which explains why I understood the reason the owner risked his life to find his dog in this film festival winning movie. AFTER THE MAYOR BANNED FROM THE city all dogs Atari, voiced by newcomer Kofu Rankin, was willing to risk his life to find his best friend. Written and directed by Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore) this adventure comedy was so much fun to watch due to the creative animation. If you saw Wes’ movie Fantastic Mr. Fox then you are familiar with this style of stop-motion animation. With Bryan Cranston (Trumbo, Why Him?) voicing Chief, Edward Norton (American History, Pride and Glory) voicing Rex, Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, Groundhog Day) voicing Boss and Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, The Grand Budapest Hotel) voicing Duke; everyone blended perfectly into the well thought out detailed script. I found the story quite relevant and appreciated the way Wes incorporated humor into the political scenes. Now the script is not without a couple of dings; there were a few times where I felt the story dragged a bit. It did not hinder my enjoyment because the visuals were just so much darn fun. I honestly do not know if small children will understand the whole concept of this picture, but I cannot imagine their curiosity will not be piqued. Even if you are not a dog lover I feel you will still appreciate the love between a boy and his dog.
3 ½ stars
SOME INDIVIDUALS WOULD FIND it frustrating; others would find it infuriating after a while. You are partaking in a serious conversation and someone makes a joke. There are times where telling a joke can be the perfect antidote to a tense conversation. In fact I am a big proponent of using humor to diffuse a situation or break the tension in a room. Dealing with tough and uncomfortable topics of conversation can quickly drain an individual; I am all for injecting a touch of humor just to give the participants a momentary breather before continuing their discussion. Pretty much any situation can benefit, at least in my opinion, from a chuckle or belly laugh depending on the circumstances of course. There was a funeral I attended where the service was filled almost to capacity with mourners. Right in the middle of the eulogy a family member made a comment that had everyone laughing, giving a needed respite from the sadness. WHERE A SIMPLE BIT of humor can do wonders in a tense situation, a constant barrage of jokes and wisecracks can have the opposite effect. If it is just you and one other person going back and forth in a deep conversation, you can address it; however, when there are more people involved it can be tricky. When an individual keeps making jokes during what is supposed to be a serious conversation; I have noticed they are uncomfortable either with the topic being discussed or making themselves vulnerable. I know an individual who has a hard time discussing their feelings. When you press them on a subject they will relent and share something personal, but they do it in a hushed voice. I honestly do not know if they feel they are saying something “wrong” or afraid they will be made fun of; they even look uncomfortable. So they prefer to keep up a constant stream of jokes in the conversation to the point they almost overshadow the intended topic of discussion. I felt I was experiencing something of a similar nature during this action, adventure fantasy. IMPRISONED ON A FOREIGN planet far from his home Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth (Ghostbusters, Red Dawn), must figure out a way to return before Asgard is completely destroyed. With Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager, I Saw the Light)) as Loki, Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Carol) as Hela, Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park franchise, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Grandmaster and Tessa Thompson (Creed, Dear White People) as Valkyrie; you could not have asked for a better cast of actors. Who knew Cate could throw down with the best of them as she emoted wicked evilness. I wanted to see more scenes with her. Everything you expect to see in a Marvel superhero movie was here from comic book author Stan Lee’s cameo to big CGI effects to 2 extra scenes during the credits. The only issue I had with this film was the use of humor; I felt the comedy aspect overpowered everything in this story. Do not get me wrong, a good portion of the scenes were fun and humorous but there was so much I felt it took away a little of the dramatic intensity the scenes required. I am sure I am in the minority regarding this but after a while I found the humor getting tedious. Granted since this was my only complaint I still enjoyed the whole movie watching experience and I can only imagine how much fun the actors had making this picture.
A minute to me is just as important as an hour. For someone who prefers to have the day planned out, each minute has a place in my schedule. I have a friend who teases me about my planning things down to the minute but they do not understand what one minute can do to me. If I do not cross a set of railroad tracks by a certain time on Saturday morning, I will get stuck at the crossing gates for a good 10 minutes. Then I have to hustle to the fitness center to get to my class in time. Missing the start of a movie by 1 minute means I will not go in to watch it; I have a thing about walking into a movie late, which is why I know how many minutes each movie theater spends showing trailers before the start of the film. I suppose if one is okay or fond of surprises time is not a major factor; I am not a fan of surprises. With my current schedule I have little room for variance; in fact, I even have to plan down time for myself. To keep this whole process going I have to include some expectations. For example, I have to estimate how long grocery shopping will take me if it is one in a series of things I have to accomplish for the day. It is funny, it just occurred to me though I plan out what order I go see newly released movies I never think about my reaction to them. You know, allowing time to let them settle into me before going to do something else. Having just told you I am a planner, there was no way I could have planned what I experienced in this action adventure sequel. TWENTY years since the aliens attacked Earth and mankind has been working diligently on boosting its defenses in case of another attack. Would it be enough to save the planet if the aliens come back? This science fiction film baffled me. As I sat in the theater, repeatedly looking at my watch, I had to wonder who at the movie studio came up with the idea of making a sequel and then making a really bad one. First, one would have thought with the advancements in CGI effects this film would be filled with some dazzling effects; I am afraid that was not the case. Now for the script, it was so cheesy and filled with such repetitive blustering bravado that I felt I was watching a series of ads encouraging me to join the military. Uttering some of the ridiculous dialog were actors Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games franchise, Paranoia) as Jake Morrison, Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park franchise, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as David Levinson and Bill Pullman (The Equalizer, While You were Sleeping) as President Whitmore. There were multiple story lines taking place in the script and I did not find any of them well developed; everything was done in a basic, predictable way. The only thing I could think about after the movie ended was changing the word insurgence to regurgitate for the title.
1 ½ stars
Before viewing this movie one has to ask if they believe a person can sustain a friendship with a member of the opposite gender. If the answer is no, I do not think they will buy into the story in this film. Not only do I think it is possible to maintain friendships with people of the opposite gender, I feel it is part of having a healthy life. My circle of friends surround me like the ever expanding rings caused by a pebble being dropped into a still pond of water. The first ring consists of my closest friends. In my inner circle I have one of my oldest, long term friends; we dated each other in 8th grade. She and I can share some of our most intimate thoughts without the fear of being judged. The following rings contain friends and acquaintances of various closeness. In this comedy best friends Wally Mars, played by Jason Bateman (Up in the Air, Disconnect) and Kassie Larson, played by Jennifer Aniston (Horrible Bosses, Wanderlust), had a similar relationship. However their relationship took on added meaning the night of a special party. After Kassie decided to have a baby by artificial insemination, she searched and found the perfect donor in Roland, played by Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Insidious). The night of the donor party Wally became so drunk, he had no recollection of his actions. Let me first say I was not comfortable with the story’s premise. I know it was needed to make this film, but on some level what Wally did went against my grain. That being said, Jason and Jennifer worked well together. I thought the child acting brothers Thomas (The Protector-TV) and Bryce Robinson (Marley & Me, Valentine’s Day) as Sebastian did a wonderful job. In addition, it was fun to see Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park franchise, Independence Day) in a light comedic role as Wally’s boss Leonard. In reality this would be an unlikely story; but as a movie, it did offer some amusing scenes. I accept my friends with all their flaws and neurosis; it goes the same for this film.
2 1/3 stars — DVD