I WAS TOLD TO BE WARY of one of the guests that was attending the gathering, by a friend of mine. He said this guest was going to seek me out to ask about the training I went through to be a fitness/yoga instructor. I was confused, not understanding why my friend thought this could become an issue. The gist of the story is my friend warned me that this guest was going to try and use me to learn as much as he could without actually doing the training and certification process. It turned out my friend was 100% correct. This guest came off as a caring person who wanted to help people reach their fitness goals; but all they were interested in was to set up a fitness studio and make a lot of money. I would have figured it out even if my friend had not tipped me off, but it was good to get a snapshot of this individual. I use the term “snapshot” because that is how I take in other people’s opinions. You know the term, “Never judge a book by its cover?” Well, I try not to do it when meeting someone. If someone tells me about someone before I meet them, I consider their views are an imaginary snapshot that I put in my back pocket. It is only information from a different point of view that I may compare to the opinion I form after being with that person. THERE ARE PEOPLE, I KNOW, WHO do not go with their own opinion. Instead, they are easily swayed by other individuals’ opinions. Granted, if a friend tells me awful things about someone, I probably will be more cautious around that person if I see them; however, I understand there are at least two sides to every story. I have seen in recent years, more examples of people taking things at face value, believing whatever a person says without checking it our for themselves. I cannot explain it, nor do I understand it. During my school years is when I experienced this phenomenon the most. It would take one person to assign a derogatory label to another student before others would immediately shun them because they did not want to be considered like the victim of said vitriol. All it would take is for someone to say, “You smell funny,” before others would take that as true and act accordingly without every going near the person. Maybe it is easier to believe someone else’s opinion instead of investigating it for oneself? This animated, adventure comedy may have the key towards an answer. DURING A TIME WHEN THE OCEANS were filled with beasts, a little orphan girl wants to escape her orphanage and join the crew to one of the best hunting ships in the land. She just needs to convince them how serious she is about it. With Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Star Trek franchise) voicing Jacob Holland, Zaris-Angel Hator (Morbius, The Midnight Gang) voicing Maisie, Jared Harris (The Crown-TV, Morbius) voicing Captain Crow, Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets & Lies, Without a Trace-TV) voicing Sarah Sharpe and Xana Tang (Mulan, Filthy Rich-TV) voicing Lea the Lookout; this film was gorgeous to watch. The details in the animation made it hard for me sometimes to figure out if the scene was real or animated; that is how good the animation was in this picture. The story was filled with heart and sure, it was not hard to figure out what was going to happen; however, the story was so beautifully written that I honestly was enchanted by everything. The message was wonderful and relevant, in my opinion. I did not think I was going to enjoy this as much as I did; this easily ranks up there with some of the recent terrific, animated pictures that have come out the past years. Here, I myself was passing judgement before watching the film. I need to work on that.
3 ½ stars
I did not actually have what you would call imaginary friends; they were more like superheroes who looked a lot like me except skinnier and taller. During the time they were around me I did not realize they were all mental extensions of me. None of them had names but each one specialized in one superhuman power. There was the one who could fly; he was a lookout for me, letting me know of any danger spots around me. One of my favorite ones was this brawny fighter who appeared anytime I was angry. If someone had picked on or teased me, he would appear in a rage and pummel the bully so I could be left alone to continue my studies in class. This one in particular stayed with me the longest, evolving into my bodyguard. During an especially dismal time he was out almost every day. No one else knew about these imaginary friends if you want to call them that. My friends and I never really talked about our special friends though I can recall there were times where we needed people to be the enemy in our neighborhood battle scenes. We would be on one of our missions to track down the enemy’s secret headquarters when suddenly one of the members of our search party was sucker punched by an imaginary enemy operative. I would see a friend whirl around with his fists jabbing into the air to land a punch on the enemy’s jaw. Each of us took turns on getting attacked; the more dramatic we could be in our fake battles, the more satisfying it was when we would finally discover the hidden headquarters and blow it up with our ray guns. With all the imaginary beings I had in my life, I wish I would have had a dragon like the one in this family adventure film. WHEN Grace, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World, The Help), discovered the orphan boy Pete, played by Oakes Fegley (This is Where I Leave You, Fort Bliss), living deep in the woods; she could not understand how he could have survived for so long on his own. He was not alone. This fantasy movie shared the same title as the original animated film but it was a different type of story. With a cast that also included Robert Redford (A Walk in the Woods, All is Lost) as Meacham and Karl Urban (Star Trek franchise, The Loft) as Gavin, I fell into this story that had sort of an E.T. slant to it. The pacing was not always smooth; there were a couple of slow parts for me. This was not a big issue because I actually enjoyed the simplistic script that basically was about the bonds that form between friends and family. I thought the special effects for the dragon were wonderful; at a certain point I felt this dragon would be the perfect pet for anyone. It was refreshing to sit and watch a movie that focused on telling a good story that a person could relate to no matter their age.
Summer for me meant the typical things such as hot weather, no school and trips to the ice cream shoppe. There was one other thing important to me; it meant the television season coming to an end until autumn. Most of the major networks showed reruns and I was perfectly fine with it. But then something happened and some television shows had more episodes than others, while others started either earlier or later in the season. Since I do not like change this caused me undue stress. By the way when I say I do not like change, I really mean it. Having a mind set of not fixing things if they are not broken, consistency brings calmness to me. In fact, just hearing the word change gives me reason to pause (except when using it to describe the direction I am driving); this is why I prefer to use the word evolve. Now the reason I am talking about this is my way of explaining the sadness I experienced while watching this movie. It was hard to see Anton Yelchin (Green Room, Like Crazy) reprising for the last time his character Chekov. I could not help but think the crew I have gotten to know will never be the same. My other sadness was thinking about the passing of Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock from the TV series and Spock Prime in this latest movie franchise. A part of life is death, it is an absolute given; yet it is for the most part an unwelcome change. With today’s review I did not want to turn it into a maudlin piece; I wanted to express my dislike with change and the sadness it caused, so we can move on to the rest of my movie watching experience. RESPONDING to a call for help the Enterprise comes under a vicious attack that will change the lives of the crew members. This latest in the action, science fiction series saw the return of Chris Pine (The Finest Hours, Z for Zachariah) as Captain James T. Kirk and Karl Urban (Dredd, The Loft) as Doctor “Bones” McCoy. Brought into this adventure story were new characters Sofia Boutella (StreetDance 2, Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Jaylah and Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Beasts of No Nation) as Krall. I have to say these two were a welcome addition with both their acting and action skills. It was needed with the fast paced fight scenes in this film. There was a lot to like in this film but I felt the script was the weak link. I never felt I understood fully the villain’s story besides the disappointing major battle scene, at least for me. During a middle period of the picture I felt I was just watching a series of fights and battles that did not have much thought put in to where the story was going. On a positive note I really liked the idea behind the story, especially the dynamics between Spock and McCoy. This installment may not be the best out of the series but it certainly was not the worst. Outside of the passing of Leonard and Anton, I was not sad with the outcome of this film and left the theater feeling happy.
No matter what age, it is safe to say everyone wants to have some space they can call their own. A place important to them; where one could be surrounded by things that meant something only to them. As children some were lucky to have a treehouse, fort or maybe a swing set. Do you remember going from a crib to a bed? I actually remember how excited I was when the time came when I was finally getting a bed like everyone else. If in college you had to share a dorm room with another student, it was important for the roomies to stake out and acknowledge each other’s space. I lived in off campus housing where I had my own room but shared a kitchen with 6 other students. We were all respectful of each others’ food except for one guy who would “borrow” things and never replace them. It is funny when people co-habitate due to marriage or wanting to live in an expensive apartment they cannot afford by themselves, they still need a spot they can call their own. I am sure you have heard the term “man’s cave” referring to a place where a guy can do as they please; it may be something like a spare bedroom or a garage. It is a place where one can do what they want without infringing on someone else’s sensibilities. I have seen a variety of such places but nothing ever happened in them like what took place in this movie. KEEPING a high-rise penthouse secret from everyone else was paramount if this group of friends wanted to be able to use their place for whatever they so desired. That all changed however when one of the friends entered the loft and found a dead woman handcuffed to the bed. This dramatic thriller had as part of its cast Karl Urban (Star Trek franchise, Dredd) as Vincent Stevens, James Marsden (Enchanted, The Best of Me) as Chris Vanowen, Wentworth Miller (The Human Stain, Prison Break-TV) as Luke Seacord and Eric Stonestreet (Identity Thief, Modern Family-TV) as Marty Landry. Gratefully the acting was good overall by the cast. I liked the look of the film and thought the film’s beginning was a good start for this mystery. By the way it would be perfectly understandable if viewers were offended with the premise to this story; I had a bit of a challenge accepting it. Unfortunately the story quickly spiraled out of control with too many twists and turns, trying to keep everyone guessing on why there was a dead woman in the loft. I found parts of the story to be ridiculous, growing to dislike the characters. Maybe the movie studio should have kept this film a secret from us.
1 3/4 stars
Driving around the city, it has become more and more I wish I had the authority to be the judge, jury and executioner for the crazy drivers around me. The guy who was brushing his teeth and rinsing out with a can of soda while driving would get canned by me. Or the woman who was weaving out of her lane because she was putting on her makeup would be brushed off the road if I had a say. And do not get me started on the parent who was too busy talking on their cell phone at the grocery store to notice their child pulling items off the shelf and onto the floor. If I was in charge there would me more parking spaces and less traffic on the road. Not being a follower of Judge Dredd, I went into this movie with only a vague memory of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film. Set in the future, citizens lived in huge mega towers that reached 200 floors. The police were known as judges since they had the authority to arrest, try and if need be instantly execute felons. Judge Dredd, played by Karl Urban (Star Trek, The Bourne Supremacy) was a top judge who was assigned a female rookie to train. Cassandra Anderson, played by Olivia Thirlby (Juno, No Strings Attached), was no ordinary judge; she possessed strong psychic abilities. Called to a brutal crime scene, the two became trapped in one of the mega towers, with a bounty placed on their heads by the evil drug lord Ma-Ma, played by Lena Headley (300, Game of Thrones-TV). With the odds stacked against them, the two judges would have to outwit and outlast the constant stream of thugs hell bent on killing them. Karl Urban took this role to heart, not once removing his helmet to give his face some screen time. Olivia did a fine job of acting in this tense film. The special effects were good, especially when showing the effects of the mind altering drug Slo-Mo. What lacked in this movie was sheer excitement; I never felt emotionally engaged with the action scenes. They came across as if they had been over rehearsed, casting a dullness onto the scenes. It seemed as if each scene was volleying between chasing or shooting. The elements were all in place for this to be a better movie; ironically it was the execution of it that softened the impact. Graphic violence with blood.
2 1/2 stars