I GRANT YOU, THEY DID LOOK somewhat odd to me. They had moved into the neighborhood during my 4th year of elementary school. The house the family had purchased was a 2-story wood frame with a large wrap around front porch. I remember when they painted that porch because some of the neighbors were put off by it; the family painted it a pine green color. I never really understood why some people were upset. The only thing I could think of was maybe it was because all the other porches on the street were either unpainted or painted in 1 of 2 colors, either white or brown. There were 7 family members: 2 parents and 5 children. All the kids looked alike and looked like their mother. They each had the same color hair; the girls had the same style of haircut just as the boys shared the same. Each child wore the same style of glasses, perched the same way on their noses. Their teeth were oversized to the point where it looked like they could not close their mouth all the way. Some of the kids in the neighborhood referred to them as Bugs Bunny. To finish up their identical look, they all wore the same style and color of clothing. PERSONALLY, THEM NOT BEING ENROLLED IN the neighborhood school added to their perceived strangeness. But despite that, the siblings never came out to play with any of the other kids in the neighborhood. I would see them in their backyard at times when I would cut through the alley to a friend’s house. They would be huddled around some object; I could not tell if it was a toy or some type of device. Other times I would see them spread apart, each doing their own thing like reading or exercising and when I say exercising I mean jumping jacks or sit-ups, some type of calisthenic activity. Keeping to themselves and all looking the same just made people feel uncomfortable. Without getting to know them, rumors started to pop-up in the neighborhood, such as they were a medical experiment, or they were doing something illegal. And of course, the kids in the neighborhood started whispering different remarks about them being inbred and mentally challenged. It was not until I was in college that I discovered via the local newspaper that the parents were scientists and each child was excelling in their schooling, from being PhD candidates to mathematical whizzes. I was shocked; on the surface they may have been odd, but they certainly had already achieved more than many of the families in the neighborhood. The family in this biographical, comedic drama might seem odd to you but wait until you see what they do. PASSIONATE ABOUT WRESTLING RICKY AND JULIA Knight, played by Nick Frost (The World’s End, Paul) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones-TV, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), taught their children everything they knew. However, when a once in a lifetime chance became available would their hard work pay off? This movie’s story followed a typical theme; but, the script provided some fresh takes on it. With Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth, The Commuter) as Saraya Knight, Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots, Dunkirk) as Zak Knight and Vince Vaughn (Couples Retreat, The Break-Up) as Hutch; I thought the acting really sold the story, especially Florence’s and Jack’s. For me, Vince was the only one that I did not connect with since he was doing his same type of character that I have seen before. There were fun moments in this picture that kept the story from sputtering out. What added to my enjoyment was seeing clips of the actual Knights at the end of the film. One may think they are an odd bunch, but I salute them for finding something they can be passionate about and holding out for their dream.
When I put food on my dinner plate, I do not want the different servings I took to touch each other. For example, I do not want the mashed potatoes to be mixed in with the sugar snap peas, nor do I want anything touching my turkey burger. It is okay, you can call me crazy; I have heard it before. I do not care because the first time I saw a TV dinner tray with its individual compartments for the different food items, I thought it was the ideal way to serve people their meals. Being a visual type of eater, if something does not look good to me I will not touch it. Now I certainly do not force my feelings onto anyone else and will gladly sit with someone who is spooning a conglomeration of food items into their mouth. Actually, it never occurred to me to mix different foods; heck I did not think one could mix different silverware. If you are wondering if I have these same types of rules in other areas of my life the answer would be yes. I have always been most comfortable when things around me have a sense of symmetry. Now here is the funny thing; though I am still the same way about food, a slow change has been taking place in me over the past years when a friend asked me if I had seen this video mashup of two singing artists’ songs. I had never heard that word before so I looked it up and found it meant a mixture of disparate elements. When I finally saw that video I was fascinated; it was such a creative and cool idea. It is because of that video I started looking at things differently. Isn’t that bizarre? Is it any crazier than the mashup done in this romantic horror film? WHEN Elizabeth Bennet, played by Lily James (Cinderella, Broken), first met Mr. Darcy, played by Sam Riley (Maleficent, On the Road), she found him to be such a snob. Though her mother was hoping to see her daughter wedded off, Elizabeth did not need a man; she could take care of herself quite well as a matter of fact. I was so surprised by this action movie that took author Jane Austen’s (Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park) classic story and infused it with the zombie genre. The story pretty much was kept intact but I did enjoy the sly humor and the fact that Elizabeth and her sisters were now skilled in the marital arts. The writers were not going for a parody or comedy; they kept the story as level as one can with flesh eating zombies and they made it work actually. Take the story for what it is, this film may not be high art or a new classic; but for a fun viewing experience with a twist and a teardrop, this mashup was pretty good. Several scenes with blood and violence.
2 1/2 stars
When I began posting my movie reviews I made a commitment to write one a day for an entire year. It was not always easy; I had to decline social engagements, besides dealing with the electronic gremlins that would mess up my postings from time to time. There were days where my fingers had to do double time to get the review done before the strike of midnight; not that I would turn into a pumpkin, just wouldn’t be able to keep my word. However, I carried out my promise to myself and did it. Some of my friends thought I was crazy with my rigid dedication but I have always had that trait. It is similar to my not eating 5 hours before I go to bed as a means of maintaining my weight. Right from the beginning of this action drama, I could identify with the actors’ dedication in achieving their impressive chiseled physiques besides the characters’ determination in fighting to the death to save their land. I cannot call this a sequel since the writers were clever to create a story that paralleled the story from the previous movie, 300. Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom, Gangster Squad) played Greek General Themistokles. With the Persian King Xerxes, played by Rodrigo Santoro (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I Love You Phillip Morris), moving forward in his conquest for all of Greece; Themistokles would have to take his battle to the sea against the king’s massive navy led by skilled commander Artemisia, played by Eva Green (Dark Shadows, Casino Royale). It would take cunning, strategy and most of all courage to try and defeat the Persian forces that outnumbered Themistokles’ fighters. This movie played out like a dramatic opera; there were a multitude of heroic speeches, gruesome fights and passionate pleas. When I said gruesome I meant it because there was so much blood being spilled throughout the entire film that the characters even mentioned they would turn the ocean into a sea of red. It would be hard to talk about the acting since the whole movie had a graphic novel, computer game look to it; the characters were more cartoonish to me. I thought Eva was impressive with her fighting skills, finding it a nice twist to have a female badass. Playing the Spartan Queen Gorgo, I wished Lena Headey (The Purge, Game of Thrones-TV) had more screen time since her character had more dimension to me. This bloody war film started to become repetitive with its cycle of speeches and battles. Do not consider this movie as a history lesson; it was just fun to watch on the big screen. Also, no one could fault the actors for their dedication in contributing to this movie’s sharp look. There were multiple scenes with blood and violence throughout the film.
2 1/3 stars
All of us I am sure have encountered people who turned out to be someone totally different than who they claimed to be. It goes without saying that type of revelation has broken many hearts. I find these types of individuals to be learning lessons for us, no matter how painful it may have been to learn the lesson. But have you ever considered that these people may only be one definition of beings that affect our daily lives? Think about it; what if two elevators open up for you at the same time and in a split second you switch and take the one on the left instead of the right side. As you rise up to your designated floor; unbeknownst to you, the other elevator became stuck between floors, trapping its passengers for a couple of hours. How about that split decision you made to wait an extra 30 minutes for a ride home instead of walking through an unfamiliar area only to discover later a crime had been committed along the route you would have taken. These things could be attributed to our intuition, internal voices or maybe from some being watching over us. I believe anything is possible and that concept is what attracted me to this action, fantasy film. Lily Collins (The Blind Side; Mirror, Mirror) played Clary Fray, who lived with her artist mother Jocelyn, played by Lena Headey (Dredd, Game of Thrones-TV). When Clary began to doodle the same odd symbol over and over, it set into motion a discovery that was kept hidden by her parents, finally explaining the strange things she had been seeing. Jonathan Rhys Meyers (August Rush, Match Point) as Valentine, was the best character out of the cast for me. Lily was ok for the most part but I did not understand why she had to wear the outfit she was wearing through most of the movie. Based on the acclaimed book series by Cassandra Clare, I can appreciate the task of staying true to the story. I felt so many characters and things were being crammed into this adventure film that I never got a sense for any of them. It became a series of altercations that were nothing special. Jamie Campbell Bower (Twilight franchise, Winter in Wartime) as Jace did not have the physical presence to be a lead character as far as I was concerned. I liked the concept of the story but there was no life to this movie. If the people responsible for creating this film were basing their decisions on their inner voices, they were listening to the wrong ones.
1 3/4 stars
There will always be people in the world who annoy or upset me, but I do not want to see them dead. My first apartment was on the 2nd floor of a six flat apartment building. The neighbor above me played his music extremely loud, to the point where I could feel the beat reverberating through my floor. Though it was annoying, I could deal with it during the day. However, when I was woken out of a sound sleep I went upstairs to speak with him. I was angry but since this was my first time confronting him I decided to take a different tactic. After not hearing me knocking twice, he only answered after I pounded on the door. Introducing myself, I mentioned I had knocked twice before he finally heard me over his music. I then told him if there had been a fire I would have had to leave him because he could not hear me, so could he keep the sound down. Do you think I was too subtle? He got the point of my conversation. In this thriller set in the near future, the government found a different way to achieve peace and prosperity for its citizens. Once a year there was a 12 hour period called The Purge, where all criminal activity would go unpunished. Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight, Sinister) and Lena Headey (Dredd, Game of Thrones-TV) played husband and wife James and Mary Sandin. Living in a gated community with their children Zoey and Charlie, played by Adelaide Kane (Goats, Donner Pass) and Max Burkholder (Daddy Day Care, Friends with Money); they were all set to spend a quiet night at home during The Purge. When an injured man appeared on the closed circuit surveillance cameras from the front of the house, Max decided to help; starting a life or death battle for the entire family. The movie started out well enough, but it never seemed quite sure what kind of story it wanted to tell. This was one of the problems of the film. Was it a making a statement on people’s obsession with violence, the battle for gun controls or a take on the survival of the fittest philosophy; take your pick. It just made a mess of the whole movie, besides the ridiculous choices the characters kept making throughout the film. And could someone tell me why was there a need to wear masks and dress up just to kill someone? Poorly written and acted, you would be better off reading “Lord of the Flies.” There were scenes of blood and violence.
1 3/4 stars