IF ONLY THE SUPERHERO INSIDE OF me had come out when I was much younger; I am sure I would have had an easier time of things. Instead of being relegated each time to left field when we played baseball in school, I bet I could have been the pitcher if I knew about my superhero. Those times when I was being abused and bullied, I did have several plans of attack and rescue playing out in my mind; however, I needed a superhero to boost my confidence and hopes. Because of this, part of my brain was constantly working on plans of revenge; ones that I would never carry out but made me feel a little better. I remember there was a time where a group of robbers were focusing on passengers who rode the subway train. They would pretend to be passengers and when the train came to a stop they would grab purses and jewelry, then jump off the train and run away. The poor victims would not have time to react before the doors closed and the train pulled away from the station. I am not saying these people were not aware of their superhero; but imagine if they had the ability to react quickly and prevent the robbers from snatching their purses. IT WAS NOT UNTIL SOME YEARS into my adulthood that I realized not only do I have a superhero inside of me, but most everyone else had one also. As a joke I tell people my superpower is being able to withstand high heat. All kidding aside, from my experiences I discovered my superhero has enabled me to be compassionate and kind. After what I went through years ago, it has taken me a long time to get to a place where I can be and act on these things. A superhero I believe gives one confidence in themselves. There is less fear being generated by the person. Speaking on experience, this is absolutely true; I cannot tell you how different the world feels when one is able to participate in it without being in a constant state of fear. One way I describe this feeling is by telling people to envisage their entire world having been black and white; then one day, everything turns into color. Just like what happened to Dorothy when she arrived in Oz as the film went from black and white to color. A person can get so much out of life when they are in synch with their superhero; see for yourself in this adventure film. THERE WAS SOMETHING INSIDE OF FOSTER kid Billy Batson, played by relative newcomer Asher Angel, that made him special; at least to an ancient wizard. With Zachary Levi (Thor franchise, Chuck-TV) as Shazam, Mark Strong (Kingsman franchise, Before I Go to Sleep) as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Michelle Borth (Teenage Cocktail, Hawaii Five-O-TV) as Super Hero Mary and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Wizard; this action fantasy film was a fun movie to watch. I thought the script was well written because it provided a sweet likability factor to the fantasy story. Zachary was made for this role, doing a wonderful job of portraying Shazam. There was solid humor, touching moments, a decent message and old-fashioned action scenes in this picture. Though I had hoped the studios would have given Mark Strong a character and script with more heft to it; I still enjoyed his action scenes and felt he made a convincing villain. This was one of the best films I have seen come out of the DC universe. It seems as if the people who worked on this picture were in touch with their superhero. There were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.
3 ½ stars
WALKING OUT FROM the station he was greeted by a sea of shirts all in the same color. Every single person was wearing an article of clothing close in the same shade. There were so many people that they filled the space from one side to the other; it indeed looked like there was a slow current of fluid moving away from him, reflecting a settling crimson sun on its surface. He had heard about this special event and looked up the details before committing funds and time to attend the occasion. Though he grew up in the city; the majority of his life was spent in the neighborhood he grew up in. He felt somewhat out of place to his peers because he did not have any reference points to show him he was actually okay. Making his way into the crowd of people before him, he soon discovered the feelings he had about his childhood were similar to the experiences from many of those around him. DON’T YOU FIND it interesting when you grow up feeling the experiences you had were unique to you, only to find out someone from far away had the same type of experiences? I get a kick when I meet someone from another country, in a completely different environment, who has similar feelings about common things that have happened to each of us. It shows me the borders we use to define ourselves are more transparent than we may realize. When you move away from home and set out on your own, you can discover how certain truths instilled in you have a wider definition than you believed. For example in a recent conversation I had with a friend, they shared an experience they had growing up that was so close to one I had that you would have thought the same people were involved in the incident. I was totally surprised by it in the same way the members of the Kingsman were in this action, adventure comedy. AFTER THE DESTRUCTION of their home Eggsy and Merlin, played by Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Legend) and Mark Strong (The Imitation Game, Miss Sloane), discovered their organization was not the only unique one of a kind place to work at; there was something similar halfway around the world. With Julianne Moore (Still Alice, Carrie) as Poppy, Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, Love Actually) as Harry Hart, Channing Tatum (White House Down, Magic Mike franchise) as Tequila and Halle Berry (Kidnap, X-Men franchise) as Ginger; the cast was fun to watch in this 2nd installment. I enjoyed the first one so had high hopes for this film; however, I found the script was weak and filled with strong language that was being used for cheap laughs. Maybe if I had not seen the previous movie I would have enjoyed this more, but I felt the freshness and wicked fun of the first picture was not captured in this story. There were big action scenes and crazy high tech weapons/accessories, but the whole picture felt a bit forced to me with obvious shtick. As I mentioned earlier the actors were a good choice for the roles they had; I wanted to see more depth in them. If the writers were trying to make something that would stand out and be different from other films of this type; in my opinion, they created a typical action picture.
2 ½ stars
THERE was a parked delivery truck in the middle of the street blocking my way. By backing up I was able to turn into an alley that would take me behind the block so I could continue on my way. As I carefully drove down the alley, dodging garbage bins and bushes, I came up to a garage that had a swastika spray painted across its door. Here I was driving through what looked like a pleasant, well maintained neighborhood and came up to a sign of hatred behind what appeared to be to me the street side facade of peacefulness. I looked at the garage door and did not want to believe someone filled with hate or anger took the time to come out and spray the door as an expression of their feelings. THERE have been so many things I have come across where I did not want to believe they were real. Seeing a mass shooting at a school, an oil spill, toxic drinking water or a hotel bombing; the world is filled with awful events and it seems like there are only more taking place. Maybe I live too much time in my fantasy and film fantasy world, but the fact that I can still be surprised by a variety of dastardly deeds/actions tells me I still have my humanity. When friends or colleagues tell me the true story behind certain events, both personal and international, I am reminded that I may be too naïve because I tend to take everything at face value; trusting or hoping people would lean towards goodness instead of badness. So we now come to today’s movie and if any of it was based on true events I am more afraid of the world than I was before. KNOWN for her killer instincts lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane, played by Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak, The Martian), pitted herself against a tough opponent. It was one that happened to know her. The cat and mouse game that ensued could easily destroy one of them. This dramatic thriller soared on Jessica’s acting skills. She was the main character and she was incredible. All the actors, such as Mark Strong (The Brothers Grimsby, Before I Go to Sleep) as Rodolfo Schmidt, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Free State of Jones, Beyond the Lights) as Esme Manucharian and John Lithgow (Interstellar, Love is Strange) as Congressman Ron M. Sperling; were excellent, but the women ruled this picture. The world of lobbyists is unknown to me so I enjoyed the story, finding myself periodically surprised with several scenes dealing with the methods used in lobbying influential figures. As for the script I thought the first and last parts of the film were the strongest; the middle of the movie lost me a bit because I felt too much time was being used to remind us of Miss Sloane’s intensity. Personally I would have enjoyed the writers digging deeper into her actions and motivations as well as some of the other characters. With that being said I will tell you I loved the twists in this story. If this movie was based on any truth regarding lobbyists, the world really is a scarier place.
2 ½ stars
Hank Williams sang a song called, “Alone and Forsaken,” that had to do with regret. I think all of us at one time have regretted something we did or did not do. I came late to the game of life, where one tries to live without regretting one’s actions. And to tell you the truth there are things I still do that I question if there was a different way I could have handled the situation. The key to managing regrets is to not let them stick and fester inside of you. I am sure we all have experienced buying something where soon after we regretted making the purchase. Before I taught myself to take a breath to slow down my reactions, I have said many things that I now regret saying. Even with a couple of the intense breakups I experienced I still wish I hadn’t said some of the angry things I hurled at the individuals. My philosophy in life is I believe there are no accidents; there is a reason for everything. With that in mind I feel mistakes are made to teach us something new. Just last week I followed a new recipe for baking a dessert. After reading the list of ingredients I started mixing the dry ones together before adding the wet ones. However, I failed to read beyond the mixing of ingredients because if I had I would have seen only 1/2 of the amount of chocolate chips were to be spread across the first layer of batter; the rest of them were to be sprinkled on top. In the scheme of things this was not as tragic a mistake as it was for me to see this action comedy. AFTER searching for his brother Sebastian, played by Mark Strong (The Imitation Game, Kingsman: The Secret Service), for the past 28 years Nobby, played by Sacha Baron Cohen (The Dictator, Bruno), finally found him and discovered he was a top assassin for London’s spy agency MI6. No matter what situation Sebastian was involved in Nobby was not going to lose his brother again; though Nobby did not realize he could lose his life instead. I do not know where I should begin to tell you why I had such a poor time sitting through this movie. Let me start with the humor; it was essentially vulgar, crude and not funny. With the story using comedy to move it along, you can only imagine this was one long viewing experience for me. The thing that truly surprised me was why actors such as Penelope Cruz (To Rome with Love, Zoolander 2) as Rhonda George and Rebel Wilson (How to be Single, Pitch Perfect franchise) as Dawn Grobham agreed to be part of this picture. Did they not read the script and see that a majority of jokes had to do with body parts? When this film was finally over I actually considered going to the box office to complain; I still regret having spent money on this stinker. Brief extra scene at the end of the credits.
There are times where a dark cloud does not have a silver lining or an oyster has a pearl. A saying I like is “never judge a book by its cover.” I am sure all of us have been in a situation where you did not understand what your friend saw in their boyfriend or girlfriend. I have a friend who used to date a man I found crude and rude. Whenever we were invited to a party where there was food, he would be the first one and the last one to grab whatever was on the table. Not once did I ever hear him ask if anyone wanted anymore before he finished off the platter. If games were played he would be ultra-competitive, concerned only with winning and vanquishing his opponents. It was never a fun time. Where I felt it wasn’t my place to tell her that her boyfriend was a jerk, I had a friend who made his feelings known by telling me he hated the person I was dating. I finally had to sit him down and tell him I was uncomfortable with his actions. His reasons for the strong feelings were based on things that meant nothing to me. I saw kindness, humor and beauty inside of them; but I realize not everyone sees the same things because we do not walk in each other’s shoes. SUPER secret agent Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth (The Railway Man, The King’s Speech) had a hunch there was something more behind the tough talking streetwise kid Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, played by Taron Egerton (Testament of Youth, The Smoke-TV). With a new threat looming could Harry transform “Eggsy” in time to join the agency, despite his fellow agents’ concerns. This action adventure film was pure fun. Written and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, X-Men: First Class), I enjoyed many aspects of this movie. The story was flavored with humor and I liked the idea of British gentlemen as spies. It reminded me of the character John Steed from an old TV show called The Avengers. Also included in the cast was Mark Strong (Body of Lies, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Merlin and Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Pulp Fiction) as Valentine; they were perfect for their roles. The fight scenes did not have a dark edge which made them more high-tech treats; I tend to be fond of ordinary gadgets that have a dual purpose. Personally I would not mind if the movie studio made a sequel because I appreciated the way this comedy set out in the trailers what it planned to do; make a fun throwback type of secret agent film. What you see is what you get. There were scenes of blood and violence.
Unless there is some kind of hard proof or evidence, I do not quite understand why someone would discourage another person from trying something different. Though I saw more of it during my school years, I still witness people putting a negative spin on someone else who is attempting to do something different from what they would do. You could easily extend this type of negativity to those individuals who were just being different, but that would take up a whole lot more space for today’s review. My way of learning something is to make a mistake because then I can align my logic with reality’s logic; did that make sense to you? I can remember building a science project and the teacher telling me I was doing it wrong. How did she know it was wrong before I was done? The funny thing about it was I had been building a work environment for a left-handed person; so, everything was placed opposite from what the instructor was used to as a right-handed person. Imagine if someone told Albert Einstein he was on the wrong track when he was working on his theory of relativity; I am a firm believer in embracing differences. It is our differences that can make our world a better place. DURING World War II the Nazis were communicating by using an unbreakable code machine called Enigma. Assembling the smartest people of their time, British intelligence was not quite sure about mathematician Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Fifth Estate, Sherlock-TV). He wanted to do something completely different from everyone else. Based on true life events, this film festival winning dramatic thriller was a biographical blend of history, war film and intense excitement. I had some knowledge about Alan going into this picture, but I do not know how much of the movie’s story was true. But you know something; I could not have cared less. This film was so well done with a brilliant cast that also included Keira Knightley (Begin Again, Pride & Prejudice) as Joan Clarke, Charles Dance (Dracula Untold, Game of Thrones-TV) as Commander Denniston and Mark Strong (Body of Lies, Robin Hood) as Stewart Menzies. There was such a vibe of civility and subtleness throughout this movie that Benedict was perfectly able to convey to the viewers; he was truly amazing. I was swept away by this film; going through the same emotions at the same time as the characters were in the story. Just the historical importance of Alan’s role in history was enough to carry this movie, but I was glad there was more included from the writers. I for one was so grateful Alan was different.
It is not given out freely, nor should it be taken lightly. To be treated with respect, trust is something that is to be earned; at least that is what I think. The dictionary defines trust as a belief that someone or something is reliable, good or honest. Imagine if everyone believed everything they were being told was true, how hurt they would become when they found out that was not the case. How many of us make a large purchase, let us say a car or house, without depending on a realtor or salesperson? If we do not build trust with the individual we are not going to buy the item. I have never been one to give out trust easily; it has to develop over time. However, once someone has my trust they have it completely. I never question their actions or what they tell me because I believe them. Now I have to tell you being this way has a downside. If someone who has my trust breaks or bruises it, I feel the sting much deeper. Depending on the severity my trust could go from just needing a bandage to totally crumbling around me. No matter which way, my trust never comes back all the way. TO love a person is to trust them, but what if you could not remember them? Nicole Kidman (The Others, The Hours) played Christine, a married woman who was so savagely beaten that it affected her memory. Not able to recall anything from her past, she could only retain memories that occurred while she stayed awake; for once she fell asleep her memories would vanish by the next morning. Each day she woke up to find a stranger in her bed who was really her husband Mike, played by Colin Firth (The Railway Man, The King’s Speech). When she received a call from a Dr. Nasch, played by Mark Strong (Body of Lies, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), who claimed he was treating her, she would not know who to trust as she tried to find some way to retrieve her lost memories. Based on the novel, this mystery thriller could not have asked for a better cast. Having been paired previously for a film, Nicole and Colin were excellent and convincing with their acting. There is something about Nicole on screen that makes one focus their attention solely on her. Because the two actors were so good it only pointed out how poorly written the script was for this movie. I found it irritating because there were odd moments throughout along with a certain staleness to several scenes. Despite a couple of twists in the story, overall I was disappointed. I wonder if Nicole and Colin will lose their memory of this film as quickly as I have started to do. There were a few scenes that had blood in them.