THERE WAS AN EERIE GLOW throughout most of the apartment. It was not caused by sunlight or incandescent lightbulbs; the only way I could describe the color, was to say it was a cross between bright fluorescent with bright neon greenish white. We were picking up a friend’s friend at their house which none of us had seen and our friend never warned us. As all of us entered the apartment I noticed an aquarium in one corner with the source of the erie glow perched above it. As it turned out almost every room had 1 to 3 aquariums set up with the same type of light. I did not recall fish tanks having a light above them, but I never had fish for pets. However these fish tanks had no water in them and the top parts were covered with a heavy metal mesh. One of my friends asked about the aquariums. It turned out they were not empty but each of them held a snake. I am not talking worm size or small garden variety; they were jungle sized snakes. I have only seen these type of snakes in a zoo or adventure/horror film. THE OWNER OF THESE SNAKES had them as pets. Pets, I wondered; did he actually take them out and pet them? I was never a fan of snakes and I got creeped out when the owner took one of his snakes out and draped it around his shoulders. A couple of my friends petted the reptile when offered, but I declined. I had to admit I had a bad attitude about all of it, but as the owner explained his reasons and fascination with snakes I realized I had no right to judge him on his choice of pets. When I thought about it more, I came to the conclusion what really is the difference between having fish or snakes as pets? They are not for me but if they provide comfort to someone else, so be it. For many people pets are part of their family. Animals provide unconditional love, affection and even emotional attachments. Some pets are more like family to us than our own relatives. It certainly was obvious in this action, adventure science fiction film. AS THE GORILLA HE RAISED from infancy was growing in unheard of speed and massive height Dave Okoye, played by Dwayne Johnson (Baywatch, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), would not give up on his friend; even as everyone around was becoming frightened. With Naomie Harris (Moonlight, Skyfall) as Dr. Kate Caldwell, Malin Ackerman (Watchmen, 27 Dresses) as Claire Wyden, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Red Dawn, The Losers) as Harvey Russell and Jake Lacy (Miss Sloane, Obvious Child) as Brett Wyden; the first thing I have to say is this: there is no way one cannot like Dwayne Johnson. In this role he fits right into his comfort zone of acting. I have seen this exact style in his recent films and I hope he starts mixing it up a bit. Granted I believe he knows his capabilities and limitations, so picks projects that suits his acting abilities. In this big production of special effects set in Chicago, the story had some holes in it as well as the script. I thought the dialog was childish at times and felt the movie was cartoonish. However I was not put off by it because I liked the special effects. This is the type of picture I call a “popcorn film;” one where you do not have to think much, just sit back and watch it. If one can watch “stupid pet tricks” then they will have no problem with this movie.
2 1/2 stars
Everything in this action movie such as explosions, gun battles and chases would be ideal if they were all in a video game. If only the armrests had been equipped with joysticks I would have had something to do…like blowing up the entire town on the movie screen. I cannot believe someone at the movie studio sat down and tossed out the idea of doing a remake of a movie that was average at best. And then someone actually replied in the affirmative, offering an updated spin on the original story is mind blowing. In this new version, sections of the United States were taken over in a surprise attack by North Korean forces. On leave, marine Jed Eckert, played by Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman), headed up a group of local teenagers (trust me I am not making this up) to take on the enemy. Josh Peck (The Wackness, What Goes Up) who played Jed’s younger brother Matt, went through this movie in a near catatonic state or maybe he thought he was acting. I still am perplexed why Chris Hemsworth took this role, along with Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, The Kids are All Right) as Robert Kitner and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Possession, The Losers) as Tanner. The dialog was dreadful, both corny and cliched. Not being a fan of the shaky camera filming effect, I was just annoyed with it here. As for the story it was looney. The idea of this band of kids taking on the North Koreans after they just outsmarted all of the United States’ defenses, was crazy. One would have thought Chris with The Avengers and Josh with The Hunger Games would have made enough money to allow them the luxury of being more selective in their choice of movie roles. A more suitable title for this film would have been Real Dull.
1 1/2 stars
In a new marketing twist, Hollywood is going from remaking previous movies to converting their religion now. In this suspenseful thriller, the movie studio took the story from the film The Exorcist and changed the religion to the Jewish faith. They could easily have called this movie The Yiddish Exorcist. I do not know if it has to do with society’s short attention span or whether we have become desensitized to violence in general; but, I did not find this movie that suspenseful. It needed a longer build up of tension to achieve true apprehension. With the coming attractions being shown, I was already prepared for some of the scenes, which took away the excitement for me. There were a few scenes that worked well, but I felt it was due to the well honed actors. Divorced parents Clyde and Stephanie, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers, Watchmen) and Kyra Sedgwick (Gamer, The Closer-TV) work together to save their youngest daughter Em, played by Natasha Calis (Donovan’s Echo, Sharp as Marbles) from an ancient evil spirit. This was not an original idea, but I really liked the matching up of Jeffrey and Kyra; they added emotional heft to the film’s story. Another plus to the movie was the avoidance of a cliched soundtrack, letting the scenes handle the build up of an impending terror. I gave this scary film a passing grade; however, I hope this is not an example of what we can expect a suspenseful film to be in the future. Personally, it does not matter to me what religion is used; I just hope the movie studios work on what is needed to build up the tension, in what is supposed to be a scary movie. Scenes with blood.
2 1/3 stars