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Flash Movie Review: Smurfs: The Lost Village

AT some point in time I am sure many of us have felt alone, as if we were the only one. I feel it is a valid point; however, my question is what does a person do about it? That feeling of being out of synch from those around you can really do a number on you mentally. Imagine if the co-workers around you all share a fondness for a particular activity which you are not interested in; you could be left out of their conversations or out of office activities. One scenario I have seen numerous times is when one’s circle of friends goes from being single to being a part of a couple. As friends begin to couple up it is understandable there is some adjustment and before you say, “no there is not,” let me say there are a variety of reasons couples may prefer doing things with other couples. I am willing to bet if you were in a relationship that later dissolved, you would have felt alone as your coupled friends came to your support.     A particularly difficult time for me took place during my freshmen year of college. I had gone to an out of state university that no one else from my high school was planning on attending. Alone in a foreign city was tough for me, especially because I was the only freshman on my floor; the other residents were all graduate students. It was not until one of my classes held a panel discussion with outside guests that I first felt a connection to some similarly minded students. It was as if a secret door had opened in the middle of the 30,000+ student body and I finally stopped feeling as if I was the odd man out. It was an eye opening experience, not so dissimilar from the one that takes place in this animated adventure comedy.     WITH a secret map in her possession Smurfette, voiced by Demi Lovato (Glee-TV, Sonny with a Chance-TV), takes off on a journey that will show her things that she has not found in her own village. Including Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride, Homeland-TV) voicing Papa Smurf, Julia Roberts (Mother’s Day, Closer) voicing SmurfWillow, Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike franchise, True Blood-TV) as Hefty Smurf and Rainn Wilson (Juno, The Office-TV) as Gargamel; this movie was geared more for the younger child. The animation was colorful and there were many scenes filled with action. Honestly, I felt like I was watching one of those old Saturday morning cartoon shows I remember as a kid. I appreciated the dual messages the writers were trying to get across to the viewers; however, I found the story in general mediocre. There was nothing either good or poor about this picture; it was predictable and a little bland for me. Granted I was never into the Smurfs while growing up, but I thought the writing could have been more creative to add heft to the fun and excitement factors. As a whole I was left with a bland feeling about this movie; I could have (if I was into the Smurfs) easily have waited to see this some Saturday morning on television, while eating a bowl of breakfast cereal by myself.

 

2 stars        

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Magic Mike XXL

I get mixed emotions when I see advertisements for upcoming shows or concerts headlined by artists who are in the twilight of their careers. There are some artists who are still vibrant and continue to make contributions to their art; just take a look at Tony Bennett who is traveling with Lady Gaga in sold out concerts. However, there are some artists I have seen where I wonder what is the motivation that keeps them plugging along; is it due to financial reasons, the need for people’s continued adulation or maybe the fear of retirement. I hope this is not coming across as judgmental but I do have an issue when someone says they are retiring but then a few years later decide to come out of it for a world tour. I tend to see it as a money grab. Maybe because I take people for their word I react this way; however, if they would have said they are retiring from touring but may do a concert once in a while it would sit better with me. Looking at my fitness level as I age I wonder how I will be in my cycle class when I get older. If I could not keep up with my classes I would want to step down from teaching and become instead a participant. Of course when the time comes for me to retire I hope to end on a hight note with a packed class as we go on one last intense fun ride. This is why I was able to understand what the male entertainers wanted to accomplish in this musical sequel.    THREE years has passed and Mike, played by Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher, Dear John), has finally seen his dream come true with the start of his custom furniture business. But when his old dance troupe buddies wanted to get together one last time for a contest, would Mike be willing to don his thong one last time? The difference between this sequel and the first film was like night and day. Where the original was fun with solid dancing routines and acting ability from Matthew McConaughey; this movie came off as a crass knockoff. The cast of men such as Joe Manganiello (Sabotage, True Blood-TV) as Big Dick Richie and Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart-TV, In Time) as Ken were joined by Jada Pinkett Smith (Reign Over Me, Matrix franchise) as Rome who was ridiculous because of the script. What surprised me the most was how bad the dancing was this time; it was uninspired with tired stripper pole moves. I will say this did not stop some of the people in the audience from hooting and hollering during several scenes. As for me this group should have quit while they were ahead.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Sabotage

The amount of years I have lived so far is not a true measure of how I feel or act. One’s age never meant anything to me except a reference point for when they were born. I have never been one to judge a person’s actions based on their age; it is a meaningless point to me. The only one I judge is myself, as I notice the transitions between my mind and body. On a surface level, I am not going to walk around with my pants hanging low to reveal my underwear clad backside; however, I do not care if someone else wants to do it. Sure I wish I could stay up late at night like I used to do (think how much more I could get done), but my body now requires a certain amount of daily sleep if it wants to function in a lucid, steady way. I will say I have always been a big proponent of periodically letting your inner child out to play. When it comes to actors I understand why they want to maintain their youthfulness as they try to keep alive the facade that made them popular. I hope this does not come across as judgmental but when I see a celebrity trying to portray the illusion they maintained 20-30 years ago I feel sadness for them; even more so when they have simple physical stunts that are being handled by their very obvious stunt doubles. It is somewhat ironic that this very complaint I have had about his recent movies was not the case in this action drama. Arnold Schwarzeneggar (Batman & Robin,The Last Stand) played John “Breacher” Wharton, the head of a top level DEA task force. After bringing down a drug cartel’s safe house, the members of John’s group were systematically being brought down one at a time, as if someone was watching their every move. Based on its opening weekend box office receipts it appears this will be another disappointment for Arnold. Funny, I did not mind Arnold in this role; his character was older and more mature. Yes there was plenty of bloody violence and fighting but Arnold was not the focus. He shared the screen with among others, Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike, True Blood-TV) as Joe “Grinder” Phillips and Sam Worthington (Avatar, Man on a Ledge) as James “Monster” Murray. This crime film fails due to the script. There was so little story about the characters that I was not invested in their well-being. The movie was a series of agents being hunted and violently killed. However, the element of mystery was what kept my interest going in the story. I just hope the poor ticket sales won’t have Arnold thinking he needs to resurrect himself and say to us, “I’ll be back.”

 

2 stars

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