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Flash Movie Review: End of the Road

SHE WAS TOUGH ON ALL OF us; there was nothing we could get away with when we were around her. My friend’s mother was a single parent who worked a full-time job and still was able to keep the household and her children in shape. When I say she was tough, believe me. I remember anytime we would go out after dinnertime, she had a curfew set for my friend that was earlier than the city’s stated time. No one was allowed to wear shoes inside the house. She would tell us she did not need any extra work vacuuming up after us. One of my strongest memories was the sound of her voice when she would yell out for my friend to come to her. Because she was short, she would call my friend to come into the kitchen and grab some item from one of the higher cabinet shelves. Despite her tough exterior she had a good sense of humor, accompanied by deep belly laughter. Even at my young age, I admired her because I knew it could not be easy being single with four children. And none of her kids ever got in trouble at school, which looking back now, was a major accomplishment.      FOR MOST OF MY YOUTH, I only had strong female figures around me. Maybe it was due to the times, but both with my friends and family it was always the women who made the daily decisions. They would be the ones to decide what the family would be doing on the weekend; or whose house we would go visit for the holiday. This was not just my perceptions because my friends were experiencing the same thing. Most of the dads in the neighborhood had 9-5 jobs. So, I understand the mother taking responsibility during the week, but it seemed as if it always continued through the weekends. There was this one time where there was a small group of parents visiting at someone’s house. All the women were sitting around the kitchen table discussing current events, politics, upcoming trips and such while the men were sitting in the den watching television. This image has stayed with me all these years due to one of my early sociology classes. In class the discussion was about matriarchy and patriarchy, defining and identifying them. I realized I had grown up in a matriarchy. Sure, the men for the most part were the major breadwinners, but it was the women who sat on the seat of power. If you are curious to see how a strong woman acts, then feel free to see the main character in this action, crime drama.      WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN easy road trip to their new home, turned into a ride of terror for this single mom and her two kids. With Queen Latifah (Chicago, Hairspray) as Brenda, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (The Ride, Fast & Furious franchise) as Reggie, Mychala Lee (The Greatest Inheritance, Truth Be Told-TV) as Kelly, Shaun Dixon (Velvet Jesus, Dhar Mann-TV) as Cam and Beau Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Descendants) as Hammers; this was all Queen Latifah’s movie. Channeling her Equalizer character, she was the mother who needed to protect her family. I liked the idea to the story and appreciated the effort the writers put in to make this film an intense thriller; however, so much of what was shown was generic pablum. At times, I felt the scenes were ridiculous because they seemed too far-fetched. It was too bad because the injustice aspect was a decent message to convey, but the script got bogged down into standard fare with no flair. I will say I did appreciate the fast pace and the well-orchestrated fight scenes. If one wants to see an example of a tough woman, that might be enough reason to watch this picture. However, do not expect much in the story.                                             

1 ¾ stars 

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Flash Movie Review: Show Dogs

THROUGHOUT THE PAST DECADES WE have been witnesses to some of the greatest animal and human relationships. There was Lassie and Timothy, where Lassie was the only one who knew Timothy was in the well. Though Charlie Brown had no idea that his dog Snoopy was an ace pilot, they were the best of friends. Shaggy could not have solved all those mysteries without Scooby, who some of you might not know was named Scoobert “Scooby” Doo. Do you know who discovered the true identity of the Wizard of Oz? It was Dorothy’s dog Toto. Without Hooch’s help Turner would not have been able to find a murderer. Based on a true story I learned about the bond between Parker Wilson and Hachi; his faithful dog who waited years for his owner to return. And how could I not mention one of the longest friendships between characters; of course, I am talking about Mickey Mouse and Pluto. I am not going to limit it to just dogs; the bond between an owner and their pet is truly special. Growing up I had a parakeet. One of my best friends had fish which used to creep me out because they were always dying so quickly.      THROUGH MY STUDIES I HAVE BEEN fortunate enough to have been exposed to a variety of animals. Nothing quite exotic in my opinion; I guess bats would be the most for me. However, I did meet a dairy cow who had a screwcap affixed to the side of her belly. You could unscrew it and peer inside one of the compartments of the cow’s stomach. In college I spent a semester tending to a horse. From cleaning her stall to washing her to getting riding lessons; I was with her on a weekly basis. I overcame my uncomfortableness with reptiles after having a professor who was a big fan of them. He would lecture with a snake draped around his neck. Having a relationship with an animal is such a nurturing experience; look at what happened between Ken and Flicka. There is an unconditional love that forms in these relationships. From my personal experience looking into a dog’s eyes says it all in my opinion. Now I know some people go a step further by transferring human emotions onto their pets. They imagine their animal will have similar reactions to an event as they do. And sometimes they will even dress up their animal with human clothing. Somehow, I do not see that happening with the police dog in this adventure comedy.      THERE WAS ONLY ONE WAY TO discover the identity of a global animal smuggler; police dog Max, voiced by Ludacris (Fast & Furious franchise, No Strings Attached), would have to go undercover at a dog show to help Detective Frank, played by Will Arnett (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Arrested Development-TV), find the culprit. It was a whole different world from where Max came from. This family film also had Alan Cumming (The Tempest, The Good Wife-TV) voicing Dante, Natasha Lyonne (The Rambler, Orange is the New Black-TV) voicing Mattie and Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games franchise, Big Night) voicing Philippe. The story was simple in this picture and the script was even lower. Except for small children (ALERT: there is an inappropriate scene that last I heard was going to be re-edited, please check before going) there is no reason to sit through this film I am sad to say. I was bored beyond belief as the lame jokes fell flat, which pretty much summed up the acting—flat. Every time Will spoke all I thought about was Batman. There was nothing fun being offered to the older viewers; in other words, anyone above 8 years old. I am an animal lover but I have had more fun sitting at home watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on television.

 

1 ½ stars

 

Flash Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6

I return to the race track, ready to take on my all to familiar opponent. We have raced many times before. My silver car has a lightning bolt across its hood. As the timer reaches zero, I gun the car and off we go. The first curve is easy, followed by a short straightaway. My rival is matching my every move as our cars are side by side. I know the next curve leads to a short drop; I have to be careful not to let the car jump to high off the pavement. Just as I come out of the turn; my nemesis’ car swings wide, its back end tapping my side panel. If I had not braked immediately, my car would have skidded off the track. Because of that bump my slot car loses to my cousin’s car. Anytime I was over at his house, we would immediately head out to the slot car shop to race our cars. That thrill of speeding returned while watching this high octane action film. I barely remember the previous installments of this franchise and it was okay. This story picked up where the last movie ended; with their $100 million dollars Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel (The Pacifier, The Chronicles of Riddick), and his friends were scattered around the world, enjoying life. The only thing missing for the group was being able to go back home to the States. One day the one person who could offer them the opportunity to go home showed up at Dom’s place. Hobbs, played by Dwayne Johnson (Pain & Gain, Snitch), needed Dom and his gang to get behind the wheel again and track down the mastermind behind the team of precision driving thieves, stealing highly classified government secrets. The dialog was kept to a minimum, making room for insane driving stunts and crazy fights. The automobiles were the real stars of this movie. Humor was used as an additive for some of the scenes, mostly handled by Tyrese Gibson (Transformers franchise, The Take) as Roman and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (Tropic Thunder, No Strings Attached) as Tej. I liked the fact that this film kept things simple; the focus was on the action, accompanied by a straight forward story about the things people do for the sake of their family. Fast cars was the hook for me; but then again, I know a thing or two about speed. My guess is I am the only person you have ever met who received a speeding ticket in a national park. A few very brief scenes with blood.

 

3 stars

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