I AM REPEATING WHAT WAS TOLD to me because it has been decades since I have eaten red meat. A friend and I were deciding where to eat for dinner one night. For the fact they enjoy steak, I suggested one of those steak restaurants that reference the state of Texas for some reason. Usually, these places always have other options I can choose for my meal. Before I tell you what my friend said, I want you to know I am not conveying a negative message about any restaurant; this is simply one person’s opinion I am sharing with you. My friend asked me why I would suggest such a place; I told him the reason I stated above. He said if he wanted a steak, he wanted a “good” steak; he was not going to settle for a cheaper brand/cut of meat for his meal. I asked him if he could really tell the difference and he said absolutely. I did wonder if everyone thought the way he did, how would these types of restaurants stay in business? Does one need to be a connoisseur to know when one item is better than another I wondered? When it comes to food, I call myself a low rent eater; I enjoy going to diners and other restaurants that do not do anything fancy to their food. The bottom line for me is I want something that not only tastes good but that I enjoy as well. I AM THE SAME WAY ABOUT movies. As you know, I simply want to be entertained when I am watching a film. I do not pick pictures apart down to every detail. There have been times I have gone to see a movie that the critics have raved about and I wind up sitting in the theater bored out of my mind. These esoteric films that suit a small group of people, where I am sitting in my seat totally confused, are a waste of time for me. Yet I feel compelled to sit through them so I can review them. I try my best to find something redeeming to talk about when I review such movies. In a way, I tend to do the same thing when it comes to food. I have no problem going to a fast food restaurant for a meal. If it tastes good and provides me some type of pleasure, then I am fine with it. Unfortunately, with this comedic drama that was inspired by a Swedish film, I would have rather sat through the original one again and avoid this current production. A FAMILY VACATIONING IN THE ALPS find themselves in the direct path of an avalanche. Though the physical aspect of it was scary enough, it was the aftermath that would be more troublesome. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said, Veep-TV) as Billie, Will Ferrell (Holmes & Watson, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Pete, Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings franchise, The Thin Red Line) as Charlotte, Zoe Chao (Where’d You Go, Bernadette; Strangers-TV) as Rosie and Zach Woods (The Other Guys, The Office-TV) as Zach; this movie was painful to see. The original film called “Force Majeure” I reviewed and absolutely loved it. The idea for the story was so smart and thought provoking; the writers and director of that film did a wonderful job in telling the story. In this picture, I only enjoyed Julia’s performance; she really tried her best to make something out of this movie, but it was not enough. There was no finesse or nuance to the acting from the rest of the cast and the script did none of them a favor. There was a heavy-handedness that prevailed through most aspects in the making of this picture. As with my food, I am fine going to a lower end place; I do not have an issue going to an updated version of something I have already seen. However, in the case of this film I would only go see Force Majeure and skip this poor version of it.
1 ½ stars
IT LOOKED LIKE it was not being affected by gravity when I first saw it. Walking into the small building one would not even expect to see such a feat of masterly craftsmanship. Off to the side of a larger sized room, rising up from the floor, was a spiral staircase. It was like none I had ever seen before because there was no center pole for the stairs to connect to on their way up. The design of it reminded me of one of those spiral DNA or some such diagrams in a science book. I could not imagine this spiral staircase could withstand the weight of an average person, it looked too delicate. Curious to learn how this beautiful staircase wound up in this place, I pulled out one of the information booklets I took at the front door. After the building was almost completed, the builders realized there was no room for a traditional staircase. After spending days fretting over their dilemma, a stranger appeared at the building site and offered to solve their problem. THERE WAS MORE to this documented story; the history about this building and its spiral staircase was a captivating read for me. I am always interested in learning about the history to a place I am visiting or a person I am meeting. It is said there is much to learn from looking back at history and I agree with that statement. A perfect example would be the time I was listening to a friend sound off on their poor record on dating. Listening to their reasons why a relationship never went beyond a certain time frame, I noticed a pattern forming with each person they talked about. After listening to them go on about their different romances, I shared my observations about the common connections I saw between each individual. After explaining my feelings on what I heard about each relationship we had a deep discussion about the pattern my friend was following unconsciously. If I had not heard the history of those past relationships we may not have found a way to avoid the same dating results. So you see paying attention to history can be an enlightening experience as you will see in this horror thriller. LUCKY FOR THE orphans Esther and Samuel Mullins, played by Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings franchise, What Lies Beneath) and Anthony LaPaglia (Empire Records, The Client), decided to open their house up to board the young girls when their orphanage closed. Little did the girls know they were not the only boarders. This latest installment to the The Conjuring franchise starred Stephanie Sigman (Pioneer, Spectre) as Sister Charlotte, Tabitha Bateman (The 5th Wave, The Hive) as Janice and Lulu Wilson (Deliver Us from Evil, Ouija: Origin of Evil) as Linda. The idea to this story was well thought out as the movie set the right tone from the start. Though there were a couple of scenes with blood, this mystery film relied more on atmosphere and mood instead of violence which I appreciated. There were some tense scenes; however, I felt the movie never went far enough. Maybe because the first movie in this series had the intensity and thrills in the right mix, this one was somewhat of a letdown. What kept my interest was the history about the doll that has been featured in each film. If you enjoyed the previous pictures then this one will provide you the insight you have been looking for. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
2 1/2 stars
I would have been upset if this movie was based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Except for Victor Frankenstein’s creation, there was no similarity between this action fantasy film and the original story. It turns out this movie was based on the graphic novel of the same name. I looked up the definition of graphic novel to find out it is defined as a fictional story that is done in a comic strip format, but in book form. With this understanding, I did not have a problem with this movie’s story. Frankenstein’s creation, played by Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight, Thank You for Not Smoking), was being hunted by evil demons led by Naberius, played by Bill Nighy (About Time, Love Actually), who needed him to complete their plan to create an army of demonic soulless beings to take over the world. The only thing standing in their way were the gargoyles led by Leonore, played by Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings franchise, What Lies Beneath). The film trailer I saw for this movie was predominantly filled with battle scenes. I now understand why since most of the time I was watching chase and fight scenes. If you are looking for just a mindless movie to sit back and not think about, this one is doable. The idea and concept of this story was fine; however, it was poorly executed. I found the writing to be bland and pretty cheesy for the most part. The transformation from gargoyle to human form was fun but most of the special effects were just okay, nothing really spectacular. I have always been fond of Aaron’s and Bill’s acting in the past and would have liked to have seen here more detail in their roles. Granted once I realized the Frankenstein character was more of a superhero I thought Aaron was an odd choice. If there were not any CGI effects involved then Aaron was chiseled for the role but was still of an average human size. There was a familiarity to the whole layout of this movie and I found out why afterwards. The writer was the same one who did the Underworld films, which explained the look and feel to this picture. Now I cannot say this was an awful film, it still entertained me; it just was too generic. If the movie studio still plans to do a sequel, since it was obvious at the end, I hope they spend more time devoted to the details of the story to make the viewers care about it.
1 3/4 stars