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Flash Movie Review; Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical

AS SOME OF YOU KNOW, I hold teachers in high regard. What they provide is invaluable and they are not compensated enough for it. No disrespect to the professional sporting world, but the pay scale is quite lopsided when you compare a teacher’s salary to a pitcher or basketball player. A teacher is helping our children to become functioning, self-sufficient, independent adults. A sports figure is entertaining us. Despite what I just said, I know there are some teachers who graduate at the top of their class and there are some who graduate at the bottom of their class. The same with any profession; it can be anyone from a doctor to an accountant. I have had some remarkable teachers in my life; ones who pushed me harder to excel in the fields of my interest. However, I remember the instructors, who even back then, I knew were not very good. There was one teacher who taught by reading out of our textbook in a monotone voice. They did not elaborate on anything, nor did they encourage discussion of a topic. It was a boring class, with many of the students not paying attention to them. That class seemed to be the longest one of the day, though it was the same amount of time as all the other classes.      COMPARED TO THE TIME I WENT to school; I think teachers have a harder time teaching these days. I spent an evening with a teacher who shared their experiences in the classroom. At their school, all teachers must go through an active shooter training class. Most if not all teachers use their own money to buy supplies for the students because there is never enough money in the school budget to get supplies. Class sizes are larger, where children with learning disabilities are placed in the classroom with no consideration to getting help for the child; it is up to the teacher to try to teach the general student body at the same time as those with some type of disability. The teacher I was talking to told me about a student in their class who they believe is a genius. Being a 2nd grade student, the child’s test scores show they are performing at the level of a sophomore in high school. I asked if the school district is aware of the child’s abilities, and they said yes; but they have not provided any help or tools to help the child excel and adapt to their environment. Learning falls on the teacher, but how can they incorporate a super advanced student into the general mix of the classroom.? If interested, this comedic family drama will show you what I have been talking about to the extreme.      HAVING THE WORST PARENTS IN the world, a little girl is hopeful she will finally get an education when her parents decide to enroll her in a school. Her parents would start to look good right after the little girl met the headmistress. With Alisha Weir (Don’t Leave Home, Darklands-TV) as Matilda Wormwood, Emma Thompson (Cruella; Good Luck to You, Leo Grande) as Agatha Trunchbull, Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, The Woman King) as Miss Honey, Stephen Graham (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Mr. Wormwood and Andrea Riseborough (The Electrical Life of Louis Wan, W.E.) as Mrs. Wormwood; this adaptation of the staged musical production took the essence of the characters and accentuated them to become standout performers. Alisha and Emma were incredible; I could not take my eyes off them. The rest of the cast was equally as good. The direction was precise and magical at times as it worked to create the ideal version of Roald Dahl’s story. The music and songs provided comic relief at times, as well as the sharp passages of dialog. This was such a fun movie watching experience, that brought me back to a less complicated time, where I was rooting all the way for Matilda.            

3 1/4 stars 

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Flash Movie Review: The Woman King

WHEN IT CAME TO HEROES IT did not matter to me whether they were male or female. In reality as long as they were decent and kind, it was all that mattered to me. As for the ones I would watch or read about, if they were a good and exciting character, I was all for them. One of my favorite superheroes was Superman; I remember I had a large collection of his comic books, along with Batman. One of the earliest female characters I remember was Catwoman. I loved cats and thought she was quite cunning; she was a perfectly evil nemesis to Batman. From television shows I had crushes on Honey West and Emma Peel. I thought both women were tough and could handle themselves in a fight, though I would have to say Emma was the toughest female character I had ever seen. I would not be lying if I told you I had a crush on her. Watching her in a fight with her martial arts ability, being able to take down a man who was double her size, filled me with dreams that maybe I could become a martial arts fighter. But then, I saw Bruce Lee as Kato and in Fist of Fury and realized I was too overweight to be able to move as quickly as him.      DURING MY YOUTH THERE WERE SEVERAL strong females who showed me there was no difference between men and women when it came to toughness. I had a relative who was a sergeant in the military, who had the strongest handshake I had ever felt. She did not back down from expressing herself and would call out anyone who she thought was not acting properly or doing their job. I remember one time we were at a store and the salesperson waiting on us was talking down to her, trying to get her to buy a different item that was more expensive than the one she had in her hand. She firmly expressed her feelings and told him to stop trying to sell her “crap” she had no use for. I may have mentioned this before, but in school there was a girl who was tougher than most boys. Granted she was one of the tallest students in our grade, but she was the first girl I saw throw a punch at a boy that made him cry and run away. I knew immediately to never get on her bad side. Though I have no idea what became of her, I must wonder if the true events that inspired this film had been taught to us in school, what kind of an effect would it have had on her and the other girls.      KNOWING THEIR ENEMY HAD HORSES AND guns at their disposal, the general of an all-female unit of warriors was convinced her fighters would prevail. They had to if their kingdom were to survive. With Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Unforgivable) as Nanisca, Thuso Mbedu (The Underground Railroad-TV, Shuga-TV) as Nawi, Lashana Lynch (No Time to Die, Captain Marvel) as Izoogie, Sheila Atim (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Bruised) as Amenza and John Boyega (Star Wars franchise, Attack the Block) as King Ghezo; this historical action drama starred a bulked up Viola Davis who was still able to deliver an amazing character with emotional depth. The movie started out slow for me; however, as it continued playing, I found myself sitting there in awe as the director beautifully laid out strong and memorable scenes, filled with intense fights and emotional depth. Yes, there were a couple of scenes that seemed too far-fetched to have been real; but I still found myself buying into the story. And just from an historical perspective, I am now fascinated about this African kingdom in the 18th/19th century who had this army battalion of women warriors. There were several scenes of blood and violence and an extra scene during the middle of the ending credits.                           

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: No Time to Die

ONE OF THE THINGS I MISSED most this past holiday season was spending time at the movie theater. In the past, I would spend one of my days off from work at the theater, watching as many films as I could in one day. Due to the current times with COVID and the variants, I have not been comfortable sitting in a crowded theater. In the good old days, I could sometimes catch 5 movies in one day. Maybe some of you might think that is too intense to do, but for me it was like therapy; I loved getting lost in story after story, while taking off enough time just to catch something to eat before I went back into the next showing on my list. What made this work of course was the fact the film studios always release their blockbusters around this time; so, the Academy of Motion Pictures would have the studio’s film fresh in their minds for the beginning of the voting period for an Academy Award nomination. Truth be told, even if the picture was not high on my list, if it fit into my time schedule to make the day’s viewing work, I would go see it. Surprisingly, I have only a couple of friends who could handle watching multiple movies in one day. Usually, a friend might only meet me for one or two films before they had to bow out and take a break.      SINCE I CHOSE TO STAY HOME this holiday season, I wanted to experience that blockbuster type of movie experience. Luckily, I was able to rent the film I am reviewing today. It still is playing at the theater and the fact it is two hours and 43 minutes long, I could hit pause at anytime so I would not miss any scene. There is something about a James Bond movie that always has a special mystique when it premieres. In my family, a new 007 picture always meant a family outing to go see it. Even if we were on a vacation out of state, if the movie was coming out, we would find time to go see it no matter where we were at. I always experience a bit of nostalgia whenever a new Bond picture comes out because of all the memories I have of the previous pictures; especially of the ones that starred Sean Connery and Daniel Craig. With their longevity in the role, there is for me something extra special about the film when they starred in it. While I began watching this newest film in the franchise, I was feeling nostalgic and sad as the scenes unfolded.      HAVING FOUND A SENSE OF PEACE in retirement, it did not last long when an old friend came calling on James Bond, played by Daniel Craig (Knives Out, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), asking him for one last favor. With Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Knives Out) as Paloma, Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Need for Speed) as Lyutsifer Safin, Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color, The Lobster) as Madeleine and Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, Powder Room) as Nomi; this action, adventure thriller came packed with its trademark big action/fight scenes. Craig’s Bond is more of a brawler, grittier 007 compared to the others. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of heart on display in this story. There were some poignant moments I felt. My big complaint was with the script and the villain. Though Rami was decent, I found the character was not menacing at all. His character was a bit bland, and the script did not help as it tried to pack too much into the story, to honor Daniel’s portrayal of Bond, hence the too long running time. Despite my misgivings, I am glad I was able to see this movie and if you are especially a fan of this franchise, you would not want to miss this one. And even if you are not a fan, based on the star rating below, you might want to see it as well.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Captain Marvel

WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A quick and smooth trip to the movie theater, turned into a mini-obstacle course of delays for me. After checking for seat availability online, I discovered I needed to change my evening plans and go to an earlier time to see this superhero film. Racing out of work I drove to the first stoplight on my route where I saw a sea of cars across the intersection, all with their brake lights glowing steadily stretching down for almost two blocks. I could see in the distance the faint flashing of railroad crossing lights; so, I knew the gates had to be down for a freight train. My decision had to be quick; either wait in line and hope for the best or quickly come up with a different route to the theater before the stoplight changed. Just as I was about to switch on my turn signal I saw the faint glow of headlights coming towards me in the opposite lanes of traffic; the train must have passed, and the crossing gates were up. I decided to take my chances by getting in line with the rest of the cars and hope everyone would drive the speed limit…and get out of my way.      THE PUBLISHED TIME FOR THE MOVIE had passed, but I knew the theater showed a lot of film trailers. I had gotten stuck behind a driver who was trying to turn left without their turn signal on. My anxiousness was bubbling up to the point I was about to get out of my car to stop traffic. I did not, but instead finally found enough space between passing cars for me to drive around the car in front of me. Once I made it to the theater I took the first parking space I could find and ran to the box office. There was only one couple in front of me when I walked into the lobby to purchase my ticket. This couple was peering at the computer screen in front of them deciding where to sit for the same movie I was going to see. If you have never picked seats for a movie when buying your tickets, it is not rocket science. Unless you are on a 1st date, it should be an easy process. These two people were having a discussion on which would be the best seats to watch the movie. I made my presence known by clearing my throat which stimulated the couple to choose seats. If there had not been 28 minutes of previews for this film I would have missed the beginning of the movie; one cannot afford to miss it.      TROUBLED BY FLASHES OF HERSELF IN unfamiliar places from a different world, it was those images in Vers’, played by Brie Larson (Room, Free Fire), mind that were the links for her to finally understanding herself. With Samuel L. Jackson (Glass, The Hitman’s Bodyguard) as Nick Fury, Ben Mendelsohn (Robin Hood, Darkest Hour) as Keller, Jude Law (Black Sea, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Yon-Rogg and Lashana Lynch (Brotherhood, Fast Girls) as Maria Rambeau; this science fiction superhero film is the first time a female is playing the lead character. I am not familiar with the Captain Marvel comic books, but I felt the script was geared towards our present time with women empowerment. Brie was a great choice for the role; however, I felt that same script restricted her character. My favorite part of the movie was when Brie’s character was on Earth. With a great soundtrack, good humor and phenomenal CGI work on Samuel; these things made up for the scenes in outer space. Those scenes looked too much like a cartoon and did not have the dazzling display of CGI work I have seen in other outer space, action adventure pictures. With the multiple story lines, the scenes seemed to quickly jump across the screen at times. I felt with a little editing and polishing up of the script I would have been taken back to the Marvel universe I have enjoyed in the past. This was a good start for this origin story, just not great. I did not have to rush like a maniac to get to this showing. From the standard extra two scenes during the middle and end of the credits I technically had all the way until the opening date of the 2nd part of the Avengers film to see this movie.

 

3 stars   

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