I WAS TOLD TO BE WARY of one of the guests that was attending the gathering, by a friend of mine. He said this guest was going to seek me out to ask about the training I went through to be a fitness/yoga instructor. I was confused, not understanding why my friend thought this could become an issue. The gist of the story is my friend warned me that this guest was going to try and use me to learn as much as he could without actually doing the training and certification process. It turned out my friend was 100% correct. This guest came off as a caring person who wanted to help people reach their fitness goals; but all they were interested in was to set up a fitness studio and make a lot of money. I would have figured it out even if my friend had not tipped me off, but it was good to get a snapshot of this individual. I use the term “snapshot” because that is how I take in other people’s opinions. You know the term, “Never judge a book by its cover?” Well, I try not to do it when meeting someone. If someone tells me about someone before I meet them, I consider their views are an imaginary snapshot that I put in my back pocket. It is only information from a different point of view that I may compare to the opinion I form after being with that person. THERE ARE PEOPLE, I KNOW, WHO do not go with their own opinion. Instead, they are easily swayed by other individuals’ opinions. Granted, if a friend tells me awful things about someone, I probably will be more cautious around that person if I see them; however, I understand there are at least two sides to every story. I have seen in recent years, more examples of people taking things at face value, believing whatever a person says without checking it our for themselves. I cannot explain it, nor do I understand it. During my school years is when I experienced this phenomenon the most. It would take one person to assign a derogatory label to another student before others would immediately shun them because they did not want to be considered like the victim of said vitriol. All it would take is for someone to say, “You smell funny,” before others would take that as true and act accordingly without every going near the person. Maybe it is easier to believe someone else’s opinion instead of investigating it for oneself? This animated, adventure comedy may have the key towards an answer. DURING A TIME WHEN THE OCEANS were filled with beasts, a little orphan girl wants to escape her orphanage and join the crew to one of the best hunting ships in the land. She just needs to convince them how serious she is about it. With Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Star Trek franchise) voicing Jacob Holland, Zaris-Angel Hator (Morbius, The Midnight Gang) voicing Maisie, Jared Harris (The Crown-TV, Morbius) voicing Captain Crow, Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets & Lies, Without a Trace-TV) voicing Sarah Sharpe and Xana Tang (Mulan, Filthy Rich-TV) voicing Lea the Lookout; this film was gorgeous to watch. The details in the animation made it hard for me sometimes to figure out if the scene was real or animated; that is how good the animation was in this picture. The story was filled with heart and sure, it was not hard to figure out what was going to happen; however, the story was so beautifully written that I honestly was enchanted by everything. The message was wonderful and relevant, in my opinion. I did not think I was going to enjoy this as much as I did; this easily ranks up there with some of the recent terrific, animated pictures that have come out the past years. Here, I myself was passing judgement before watching the film. I need to work on that.
3 ½ stars
When I see they have a book in their hand or I know they like to read books, I feel those people will understand me quicker. I hope that does not sound judgmental, but it just seems I do not have to explain myself as much to a book reader. Maybe I think like this because I know what type of affect books have on me. They take me on a trip to another place without ever leaving my seat. The words paint a picture inside of my mind that let me experience things outside of my daily life; in turn, these pictures are projected on the back of my retinas transporting me into the shadows of the characters and places. Another benefit of reading is the way stories’ conversations open up my mind. It is like my brain is always under construction as new roads are constantly being paved to lead me to undiscovered lands of thought. I have mentioned in the past how I like seeing the movie first before reading the book; it provides me the voices I need to keep the characters separate in my head. In a way I believe books have given me the tools to be a better storyteller. Where movies allow me an instant escape through a portal to a different place, books have a way of becoming our friends. Now when the two come together, well check it out for yourself in this adventure comedy. Unhappy moving from a big city to a small town, the one plus to it for Zach, played by Dylan Minnette (Prisoners, Let Me In), was having a cool neighbor named Hannah, played by Odeya Rush (The Giver, The Odd Life of Timothy Green), living next door to him. Unfortunately her father did not feel the same way towards Zach. This comedic horror film was based on the wildly popular Goosebump series, though I do not know how much the story in this film had in common with R.L Stine’s books. Surprisingly I liked Jack Black (King Kong, Bernie) in the role of R. L. Stine since I have not been a big fan of his in the past. The rest of the cast which also included Ryan Lee (Super 8, This is 40) as Champ was quite good. There was a lot of physical activity throughout the film, maybe a bit too much; though I thought the special effects were fun. For young kids this hectic pace will keep them entertained; I just wanted a few places where there could have been some down time before ramping up the pace again. Though I have not read the books, the story was easy to follow and I could see why these books were best sellers. After seeing this fantasy film I would like to read a couple of R.L. Stine’s books to compliment what I had just seen on the big screen.
2 2/3 stars
I am still baffled by the way people’s discriminations overpower what should be the simplest of connections: the love of a person. There have been so many times where I have heard a parent tell their child they wished they would… It could be anything from telling them they should have been an accountant and not an artist or telling them they should marry someone of the same religion. One of the best pieces of advice I heard was to do what you love and everything else would follow, so to tell someone who is an artist that they should be working with numbers makes no sense to me. Now there is nothing wrong with questioning a person’s choices, to be a sounding board for them; however, I become uncomfortable when someone tries to place their values and expectations on another person, whether it be a family member or a stranger. I know this family where the parents have a strained relationship with one of their 4 children because they married someone out of their faith. The pain they caused this child has been long lasting because the young grandkids have not spent much time around their grandparents. I can only imagine how many opportunities they have all missed to create a fond memory or a deeper connection. Love does not discriminate, only people do. Now the reason I am talking about this theme is because it resonated in me and played a part in this animated comedy sequel. DRACULA, voiced by Adam Sandler (Pixels, Grown Ups franchise), could only think about one thing anytime he saw his daughter Mavis’, voiced by Selena Gomez (Getaway, Spring Breakers), and her human husband Jonathan’s, voiced by Andy Samberg (That’s My Boy, Saturday Night Live-TV), baby boy; would he be a vampire or a human? One of the surprises about this movie was seeing Adam being credited as one of the writers. Sure the jokes were pretty basic and straight forward, plus there was a couple of times where I thought they were close to being inappropriate for a family film. But the fact that this film offered a valuable lesson was a shock to me. My favorite character out of the cast was Mel Brooks (Spaceballs, High Anxiety) as Vlad. I thought he had great lines besides perfect delivery of them. As an overall entertaining picture, this one was nothing above average. The animation was fine, the creation of the monsters was creative and the soundtrack was lively. Outside of that, I thought this sequel was pretty much the same thing as the first one. I cannot say I was bored; if I had to tell someone all I could think of was that the film was okay. I did not find anything horrible or terrific; just middle of the road except for tackling an important issue, in my opinion, in a subtle easy way.