THE DINING TABLE WAS SET PRIOR to all of us showing up. I always notice first what type of napkin the host is using for the dinner guests. Not that I am being judgmental, but I use and prefer cloth napkins. I feel they add a different touch aesthetically, besides being quite functional. The ones I use were on the store’s clearance rack and they work just fine. The table was set for half a dozen guests; it had been a long time since we all got together. After everyone arrived and we visited with appetizers and drinks, we all found places at the table. The host was bringing out a large glass bowl filled with salad when the doorbell rang. Since there were no empty spaces left at the table, one could only assume this was an unexpected event which immediately got confirmed when the host wondered out loud who it could be. I did not hear who the person was when the host went over and spoke into the intercom, but they got buzzed in and the host went to unlock the door. The person soon walked in as we all heard talking coming in from the hallway. I recognized him as a friend of the host, but I did not know him well. Saying hi and asking what was going on as he came into the dining room, the host simply said we were just sitting down to dinner and asked if he would like to join us. Seeing that there was no room left at the table, I would have declined the invitation because it would have been an imposition; it was not like people were just sitting about with boxes of delivered pizza or buckets of chicken. ALL MY FRIENDS KNOW I DO not answer the door unless I am expecting someone. They have questioned me if this is the only option and I tell them yes. If someone wants to come over and visit me, all they need to do is call ahead of time. I remember once a friend had driven into the city and decided to stop and visit with me. Since they did not call, I did not hear them ringing the doorbell because I was jogging on the treadmill. I especially dislike when people show up during mealtimes, either at home or in a restaurant. This happened some time ago, but I still remember eating out with my family and a couple came over to talk to one of my relatives, who they knew. Well I am here to tell you, this couple kept talking and talking while all of us were giving our food orders to the waitress, continuing even when the food came to our table. Personally, I think it is rude to hover over people while they are trying to eat; so, I took it upon myself to say something to them, thanking them for stopping over but I wanted to talk to my family since I had not seen them for some time. They appeared to be startled by my comments but apologized profusely and excused themselves from our space. Ironically, my family was appreciative of my comments to the couple. I do not make apologies for how I feel about uninvited guests; I have no idea how I would have handled what happened to the astronauts in this dramatic, science fiction thriller. WHILE STARTING OFF ON A MISSION to Mars, a crew is stunned when they discover an unauthorized person on their ship. With Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect franchise, A Simple Favor) as Zoe Levenson, Daniel Dae Kim (Hellboy, Lost-TV) as David Kim, Shamier Anderson (Awake, City of Lies) as Michael Adams and Toni Collette (Knives Out, Hereditary) as Marina Barnett; this cast did a wonderful job of acting. Visually, I enjoyed watching this movie with its special effects. On the downside, I am afraid the script was too drawn out for me; I felt there were several scenes that dragged. However, I did enjoy the moral question that was woven into the story line. For a science fiction film, this one had a slightly different vibe to it which was a plus. I only wished there had been more intensity involved with the story and a different ending.
2 ½ stars
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF ITEMS I have sealed in plastic bags, hoping they may become valuable someday. Neither of them was expensive; I think the most I spent was $6.00. One thing is a set of unusual stamps and the other is a coffee mug shaped like a character from a popular television show. When I bought them years ago I thought immediately they would attract attention; but honestly, I have no idea if they will ever be worth something. You see I do not have that gift for finding a treasure at a thrift store or auction. There is a television show devoted to people bringing in their old possessions, to see if they have something worth a lot of money. I am not that type of individual; most of the things in my house have more sentimental value than monetary. There are some people who have a knack for spotting a bargain; I think I fall more into this category. Part of the reason for this is because I have a knack for finding and using coupons to apply to the item. However, put me in an antique or thrift shop and all I see is used stuff. Sure, I may find something I want; but, it is based on an emotional level not a practical one. THERE IS SOMEONE I KNOW WHO is skilled when it comes to finding things of value. The things he has shown me have totally amazed me. When I look at, for example, a silver serving piece such as a large fork, I see a metal item that is fancy looking. The individual I mentioned can dig through an entire crate of metal serving pieces and pull out the only one of value. I am not kidding you; he even showed me the item. It was a large metal fork with an ornately carved handle and three tines which were wide at the bottom then narrowed down to fine points. He paid less than $5.00 for the fork. When he got home he looked up and discovered this was a special fork from a particular manufacturer. Double checking online he learned the fork was selling for approximately $120.00. Maybe the dollar amount isn’t a big deal to you, but you must admit the percentage between the price difference is huge. He did the same thing with an oil painting where he paid $11.00 and found out it was worth over $500.00. Another person gifted like him was the doctor in this science fiction, action adventure. FINDING A PORTION OF A DISCARDED OLD cyborg was a stroke of luck for Dr. Dyson Ido, played by Christoph Waltz (Carnage, Big Eyes). There was more than luck involved when he brought her to life. This romantic thriller also starred Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner franchise, CHIPS) as Alita, Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, House of Sand and Fog) as Chiren, Mahershala Ali (Green Book, Hidden Figures) as Vector and Ed Skrein (Deadpool, If Beale Street Could Talk) as Zapan. Visually, this film was a feast of technical marvels. The fight scenes were intense with great special effects. The acting was also well done, even when the actors were transformed by CGI effects. Where I had high hopes for this picture based on the trailer, the script let me down. I found having a female hero led to a more sensitive story line; but the script was predictable, and the dialog was hokey at times. This picture was based on a graphic novel series that was unfamiliar to me; so, for those who know it or are into this type of genre, they might enjoy this movie more than me. It was obvious the producers are hoping for a sequel based on the ending scenes. I would be interested in seeing it but only if they get a better script.
2 ½ stars
YEARS of reading and watching science fiction books and movies may be the reason why I believe there could be other life forms in the universe. Even if I was not a fan of the fantasy/science fiction genre, I was always open to the possibility we humans were not alone. I could never be convinced that out of the entire universe the planet Earth was the only place that could sustain life. One of the arguments I have heard is our planet is the only one that can sustain oxygen breathing beings; but I would counter that proposal by questioning the logic of oxygen being the only element that can support life. What if an alien species’ anatomy only needed carbon monoxide to exist? Unless they come to us I understand there is no way to prove this thought, since I do not know if we will ever evolve to a point where we will have the ability to deconstruct and rematerialize on another world via a transporting device or be able to travel in a spaceship at warp speed. DURING my studies in college I had a literature course that covered several genres of fiction, including science fiction. For my midterm project I used several rolls of infrared film along with close-up camera lenses to create a photo album that I claimed was proof of foreign existence. The things I photographed represented places we had read about in our required reading list. Our instructor had us put our projects on display around the lecture hall and each of us had to explain what we had done. After we each gave our talks, the students were allowed to walk around and study each item before voting on their favorite in a secret ballot. It turned out not only did I get an “A” on my midterm project but my alien photo album was voted the favorite. From some of the comments I received the majority of my classmates loved how I had shown both friendly and non-friendly aliens. Hopefully I am only right about the good aliens. WORKING in precise maneuvers six astronauts must retrieve a satellite returning from Mars that might contain proof there may be life existing on another planet. This science fiction thriller had some intense, exciting scenes right from the start. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals, Prisoners) as David Johnson, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Proposal) as Rory Adams, Hiroyuki Sanada (47 Ronin, The Wolverine) as Sho Murakami and Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl on the Train, Florence Foster Jenkins) as Miranda North; this horror film had some icky scenes that were hard to watch, involving blood and violence. I thought the sets and special effects were cool, while the actors did their job well. The idea of the story was fine; however, I felt the writers needed to take a different angle because as I sat watching this film I kept thinking about the movie Alien. I did not find much different in this movie though I did enjoy the surprise twists. What I did enjoy, maybe enjoy is not the right word, was the way the writers depicted life and that is all I can say about it. If you do not believe there may be extraterrestrial life, you may not be anxious to see this film. Based on my belief system, maybe you should see it.
2 1/3 stars
DISTANCE was never a factor until I reached adulthood. As a kid I loved all my relatives equally including the ones that lived out of state. They rarely were able to participate in the weekend family dinners and could not be present for every special occasion; however, these distant relatives were always included in our daily lives. And this was at a time before the internet was widespread; when one would buy a birthday card or write a letter that would be dropped off at the post office for mailing. Phone calls were only done on a landline phone; there was no video time to see the person one was talking to on the other end of the telephone line. Love was never brought into question. As I think about this I have to say part of the reason was the respect we had for each other. Being an aunt or uncle was a unique position because they were at times surrogate parents, confidants or pseudo buddies. Another reason why love was strong across distances was the effort everyone committed to in keeping the family bonds strong. IMAGINE my surprise when I first started out in the dating world when my query to go out on a date was rejected because I did not live in any of the surrounding zip codes. I was dumbfounded and left speechless. Now I am not talking about some small town surrounded by farmland; we are talking in the heart of a big metropolis with several forms of public transportation, besides expressways and bike paths. A similar experience happened with someone else when we exchanged phone numbers. Because my area code did not match theirs I immediately saw the disappointment flitter across their face. It was such an odd thing to me where I had to wonder what a person does when they set up limited boundaries for themselves and they exhaust the dating pool of their area. I have to give credit to the main character in this adventure romance for the distance he traveled. GARDNER Elliot, played by Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), was the 1st person to be born in space. Living on Mars with only scientists, his only connection to earth was through his computer screen. But what he found on it changed his life. This dramatic film festival nominee had a wonderful story; the movie trailers played it up well. Along with Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight franchise, Tinker Tanker Solider Spy) as Nathaniel Shepherd, Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride, Tomorrowland) as Tulsa and Carla Gugino (San Andreas, Watchmen) as Kendra Wyndham; the script was so hokey and basic that none of the actors came off well in their roles. With the right writers this could have been a thoughtful, exciting love story; but instead, this picture may only interest the young adult group if even them. There were a couple of scenes that were decent but I did not feel most scenes ever matured enough to help create an engaging story. I cannot tell you what to do but all I can say is with my reviews I have traveled near and far to see a film; this movie was not worth the travel time for me.
1 ¾ stars
On Saturday afternoons there was a television program that exposed me to some strange creatures. I remember watching a being that had the limbs of a human but was totally covered in scales like a fish, living in a dark lagoon. Tomatoes which never frightened me before were now wreaking havoc on innocent citizens with their massive weight. When I was little you would always find me in front of our television set on Saturdays watching this program, where each week the uniformed host would introduce a new movie. As I got older I started to figure out that the space aliens attacking Earth had aluminum foil wrapped around their heads and the colossal woman was not fifty feet tall; there was a split screen which explained my confusion on why there was never any interaction between her and anyone else. All of these movies served some level of entertainment. Looking back at those times I can easily say some of the films are now considered campy. With today’s movie review, this science fiction horror thriller took itself too seriously to be considered campy. A small group of space explorers on the planet Mars was completing their duties as they prepared for their return trip back to Earth. Their plans were disrupted when an evil force started to attack them and try to pick them off one at a time. Liev Schreiber (Salt, Defiance) as Commander Vincent Campbell did his best to battle the unknown force; however, I was completely perplexed why he even agreed to do this film. I felt the story was an amalgamation of several other movies, finding nothing new or exciting. The character Kim Aldrich, played by Olivia Williams (An Education, The Sixth Sense), was a Ripley wannabe from the Alien franchise as far as I could tell. The special effects were substandard to the point of almost being laughable. I have been sitting here racking my brain out to find something redeeming to say about this awful film and all I can come up with is the fact it did not have anything offensive in a hateful way. Do yourself a favor and go rent one of those campy movies from the 1950’s or 60’s, taking a pass on this film that was horrific for the wrong reasons. There were scenes of violence and blood.
1 1/4 stars