MOST CHILDREN ONLY WANT it to rain in the middle of the night, while they are sleeping. For some hopefully, thunder and lightning will not wake them up; though they would not mind if there were puddles to jump in during the morning hours. I remember hoping every time it was snowing outside the schools would close for the day, so I could play in the snow with my friends all day. Back then the weather was only thought about when it would alter the planned day of events. A rainy day meant I could not go to the beach or the local amusement park. Depending on how much snow fell would determine if we would go out to the suburbs to visit relatives. Weather back then was simply a part of life; dramatic events were at a minimum. Thunderstorms I recall lasted a couple of hours with very little damage to property. THOUGH IT WAS STARTED in the late 1940s, I think it was not until the 1960s or 70s when cloud seeding was mentioned in the mainstream. The idea of humans changing weather patterns fascinated me. Then again I always enjoyed the character Storm, who could manipulate the weather, in the X-Men series. Now I do not know about you but I have noticed the weather has taken on a more sinister veneer these days. Storms and weather events have become more violent, from intense tornados to major flooding. To my way of thinking, something had to happen that affected the weather patterns. If I remember correctly didn’t the host country China seed clouds before the Olympics started, so it would rain before the opening ceremony? One has to wonder if there were any ramifications from doing such a thing. Something has changed in my opinion that is causing the weather to turn on us. Long stretches of drought, major flooding, multiple tornadoes and hurricanes; whether one believes or not the theories that are being used to explain the weather, wouldn’t it make sense to at least explore the possibilities to see what is taking place around us? This action, science fiction thriller might be a prelude to what could happen to us. AFTER A PERIOD OF peaceful coexistence with the weather, a network of satellites that were controlling the climate begins to malfunction. The cause needed to be found before the earth would become the victim to a massive, destructive world storm. Starring Gerald Butler (A Family Man, Playing for Keeps) as Jake Lawson, Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, The Best Offer) as Max Lawson, Abbie Cornish (Bright Star, Limitless) as Sarah Wilson, Alexandra Marie Lora (Rush, Control) as Ute Fassbinder and Daniel Wu (New Police Story, One Nite in Mongkok) as Cheng Long; the script quickly sunk this film. There was nothing new in this story that has not played in numerous disaster movies from before. Even the special effects were only okay; something about them did not make them pop out like I have seen done in other pictures. I am afraid outside of a couple of scenes I was bored a good portion of the time. Scenes that lent themselves to intense drama were lacking it and one pretty much could figure out what was going on in the story. Though I saw this film on a sunny day, it put a cloudy damper over me.
1 ¾ stars
She hung in the air without any wires or cables attached to her for an unimaginable long time. I stopped what I was doing to stare in amazement as she twisted and flipped her body around like an aerialist in a circus. When she finally landed on the ground, her two feet smacking the forgiving floor like suction cups, she raised her arms up in the air to a roar of applause. The newscasters were agitated with excitement as they repeated the words, “She did it! She did it!” They used her name to describe the move she had just performed because it was a brand new feat that no one had ever performed before. I happened to be channel surfing on the television and came upon her performance during a gymnastics competition. It was pretty spectacular I have to say and now anyone who uses that move in their gymnastics routine will always have it referred to as her move. It brought back a memory I had of the ice skater Dorothy Hamill when she first performed her signature move that is now and forever called the Hamill Camel. When I first got into aerobics I had dreams of branding my style because I used to choreograph every single move to the music I played in class. I thought it would be so cool to be known for something I was the first to do. BASED on a true story Cor Van Hout, Willem Holleeder and Jan “Cat” Boellard; played by Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas, One Day), Sam Worthington (Cake, Sabotage) and Ryan Kwanten (True Blood-TV, Mystery Road); decided they were going to do something that would change their lives forever. They were going to kidnap and hold for ransom Alfred “Freddy” Heineken, played by Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock, The Wolfman), the head of the Heineken beer empire. No kidnapers had ever asked for such an astronomical amount of money before. This action, crime drama depicted the inside doings of this unbelievable plan. The best thing about this movie was Anthony Hopkins, though the writers did not give him much to do. I thought the rest of the cast was okay but on a whole the story lacked intensity, so I never felt connected to the characters. Another reason I may have not been drawn totally into this film was seeing Anthony’s character, this incredibly wealthy individual, not having any security measures in place. Maybe I am paranoid, but someone with that type of wealth cannot just live like an average person on the street I would think. As for the action scenes they had some excitement but I found the editing to be choppy. Maybe one was supposed to have a couple of beers before seeing this film.
It can be seen as early as infancy. Some may mistake it for stubbornness, but it really is not. I feel a person is born with it, this determination to succeed. I have seen some babies spend untold time on a single item or toy until they came to some sort of conclusion in figuring it out. For all my years working in fitness centers, I have seen adults with walkers or in wheelchairs struggling against their own bodies to lift a weight or walk the track. I am in awe of the determined drive they have in achieving their goal. There are stories that come out that talk about something that seems humanly impossible. One such true story is Slavomir Rawicz’s book “The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom” which inspired this Academy Award nominated movie. The year was 1940 as the world was breaking out into war. A group of men sentenced to a Siberian prison camp made their escape in the dead of winter. From the frigid arctic cold to the unbearable heat of the Gobi desert to the heights of the Himalayas, they walked 4000 miles as they made their way to India. I know, this story sounds unimaginable; but it made for a riveting film that was beautifully directed by Peter Weir (The Truman Show, Dead Poet’s Society). Jim Sturgess (One Day, Cloud Atlas) played the wrongly accused Polish prisoner Janusz. His skills would help the small band of escapees on their perilous journey. The casting for this dramatic adventure was a major asset in bringing the story to life. Among the actors were Ed Harris (A Beautiful Mind, A History of Violence) as Mr. Smith, Colin Farrell (Phone Booth, Total Recall) as Valka, Mark Strong (Body of Lies, Kick-Ass) as Khabarov and Saoirse Ronan (The Host, Atonement) as Irena. The scenes were so thoughtfully set up that I easily accepted everything as being real. In fact, I felt a shiver as I watched the men struggling in the cold harsh conditions. Though the film was long I never felt bored; even in simple scenes that seemed unnecessary, I felt the director was accurately portraying the group’s physical and emotional struggles. This really was an amazing feat of human strength that was done justice by this film. Some scenes had Russian and Polish with English subtitles. A few scenes briefly showed blood.
3 1/3 stars — DVD
Residing in a peaceful alcove of your mind is your first love. The memories of the favorite things you shared keep that love alive. There have been stories about people who have traveled all over the world looking for that one special person, only to have discovered it had been waiting for them all this time back home. In this romantic fantasy Adam and Eden, played by Jim Sturgess (One Day, Across the Universe) and Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia, Spider-Man franchise) were young and in love, despite living in opposite worlds of twinned planets. Years after thinking he had lost her from a fatal fall, Adam discovered Eden was still alive. Could Adam overcome the laws of physics and the laws of the land to find his love from long ago? This movie was a mind bending visual production. Two opposite worlds sharing similar space created several satisfying space shifting scenes (say that fast ten times). Adding to the drama was the use of visual cues to separate the two planets socially, politically and economically. The story was a cross of the movies Metropolis with Romeo and Juliet. To make the story work, one had to forget about science and logic; this movie was made to speak to the heart. Kirsten and Jim were only passable in their roles. Part of the reason was their acting and the other part was the poorly written script. I found it odd to have dynamic visuals but dull dialog. The character I found most interesting was corporate worker Bob Boruchowitz, played by Timothy Spall (Enchanted, Harry Potter franchise). Fans of science fiction may be disappointed with this movie; there were no futuristic devices or costumes. This was a romantic story nestled inside of a fantasy. I really wished the movie had been better; but I guess like some fantasies, they are better off left alone than becoming reality.
2 1/2 stars
My cousin’s real parents were a king and queen. She was switched at birth for protection. At least that was what my father told me and my cousins when we were small. Growing up in my family always involved the telling and listening of stories. Some were based on true facts, others were a total fantasy. The story of my father being hidden in the woods for safety as a baby was true; but that story about my cousin was not. She really was not a princess–though she would have enjoyed being treated like one. Our family stories truly provided the latest generation a history of their heritage. My love of stories is what attracted me to this animated movie. Based on The Guardians of Ga’Hoole book series by Kathryn Lasky, the movie was about brother owls Soren and Kludd, voiced by Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, Cloud Atlas) and Ryan Kwanten (True Blood-TV, Don’t Fade). Kidnapped and forced into slavery by a group of owls who called themselves the Pure Ones, Soren’s only hope was to escape and find the owls of Ga’Hoole. From his father’s stories, Soren believed these guardian owls existed and could free all the enslaved owls. What made this film stand out for me immediately was the directing of the visually artistic scenes. Director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) created a stunning movie that was different then the usual CGI animated movies. Besides the owls’ regal appearances and the use of slow motion in the action scenes; I enjoyed the choice of actors used to voice the owls, such as Helen Mirren (Hitchcock, Red) as Nyra and Joel Edgerton (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Thing) as Metalbeak. The story was weak due to its predictability, yet I still found the movie exciting. This film may not be suitable for younger children due to the fighting and killing that was shown. The threads of told past stories have woven a rich family history for me and now Soren will be part of his family’s stories.
3 stars — DVD