THERE is no shame in having or wanting a savior in one’s life. Depending on what has or could happen there is nothing wrong with getting help. Imagine an individual who had been unlucky in love to the point where they shut down their heart, putting up ironclad walls around it, to avoid any more pain. Then unexpectedly someone comes along who has the magic key to unlock the heart’s defenses, releasing the pent up love to be shared by two. Wouldn’t you say that person with the key was a savior. I know the word savior is used in a religious context, but it also can refer to a hero. The funny thing about heroes I have noticed has been the change or to be more precise the evolution of what is a hero today. YEARS ago heroes were considered to be handsome and male. At least it was in the movies, which was a reflection of the public’s perceptions of a hero. They were usually virile masculine figures who rode in to save the day. If you do not believe me just take a look at the animated films Cinderella and Snow White. As perceptions changed so did our heroes. They soon were not always the epitome of beautiful or handsome and more importantly they were not always male. One of my early saviors was a woman, so I was glad to see gender was finally being taken out of the equation regarding heroes. Some of you might remember the hoopla in the press surrounding the first American female astronaut. And there might be several of you out there who remember when the Starship Enterprise was commanded by a female captain. The times are changing and in this animated comedy there is a new hero to add to the list and her name is Moana. HOPING to correct a wrong that has plagued her father’s village; Moana, voiced by newcomer Auli’I Crava, set off across the sea on a perilous journey. This comedy adventure story was set in ancient Polynesia and I have to tell you the animation was an outstanding palette of colors. With Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence, Pain & Gain) voicing Maui, Rachel House (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Whale Rider) voicing Gramma Tala and Temuera Morrison (Star Wars franchise, Once Were Warriors) voicing Chief Tui; the stars of this film were Auli’I and Dwayne. Auli’I had a beautiful singing voice which had the good fortune of singing songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, Into the Heights). As for Dwayne his comic timing added a fun element to his character and the story. I thought the script was well written and appreciated the influence of real mythology into the story. Overall there was a familiar template that was followed for these types of animated films but truthfully I did not mind it much. I think the message it was conveying was a worthy and important one that demonstrated the image of a female hero. Except for one scene that might be scary for very young children, this film would be something the entire family could enjoy. So feel free to be a hero for suggesting this fun film.
3 ¼ stars
The strongest ones seemed to be the biggest jerks as far as I can remember. They were athletically inclined; able to throw or hit a ball harder than anyone else. If a ball was not available, which was usually the case during the rest of the school day; they had no problem knocking a student down in the school’s hallways. If nothing else then anything a student was carrying was fair game; it was not uncommon to hear textbooks smacking the floor between periods. I was one of the larger boys, but it was not from muscles. As a result my negative perceptions of those who were strong were formed quite early. It was not until new neighbors moved in across the street when I met an exception to my mindset. He was my age but taller than most of the students in our class; English was his 2nd language but no one would know. I would hear the way his family talked to each other whenever I bumped into them outside our apartments. There was a politeness about him that was foreign to most of the athletes in my class. During any contact sports, he would be the only one who would offer a hand to a fallen opposing teammate. Yet no one ever picked on him as if his unusual name and mannerisms made him mysterious; no one wanted to take a chance by confronting him. I had this crazy notion that as long as I could reach and step into his expansive shadow, no one would pick on me. HERCULES in this action adventure film reminded me of my former neighbor. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Pain & Gain, Snitch) went through a grueling workout regimen to play the part of the Greek demigod, Hercules. Directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour franchise, Tower Heist), this fantasy film was all action with a story similar to a graphic novel. Hercules was a muscle for hire, who with a close band of friends, agreed to train Lord Cotys’, played by John Hurt (V for Vendetta, The Elephant Man), soldiers even though they sorely lacked fighting skills. The unprepared troops were forced into a battle that Hercules was not sure they could win. Though the fight scenes were big and over the top, the story was weak in my opinion. I felt there was such a disconnect between the battles and the drama that I became bored with what appeared to be the same thing happening over and over. Too much brawn and a poor script made this just an okay film; nothing that will muscle it into the top spot at the box office. There were scenes of violence and blood.
2 1/4 stars
After viewing this action film I was curious to see what actors portrayed Hercules in past years. Looking at the movie titles and the actors that starred in them, I am afraid to say author Edith Hamilton would be distraught at the lack of respect we have given this mythical Greek hero. Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in Hercules in New York, Reg Park was in Hercules and the Captive Women besides Hercules in the Haunted World; even Lou Ferrigno played Hercules a couple of times before he became the Incredible Hulk. I was shocked to find Ryan Gosling did a turn as a young Hercules before his star power really came to light. For those of you who were too young to have seen these movies, chances are you are familiar with the television series starring Kevin Sorbo as the son of Zeus. I was curious why director Renny Harlin (Diehard 2, The Covenant) felt the need to helm this adventure fantasy. Kellan Lutz (Twilight franchise, Immortals) starred as Hercules, though he did not know about his true identity until later in the film. The story began in ancient Greece 1200 BC as we learn the reasons why Hercules was born to Queen Alcmene, played by Roxanne McKee (The Expelled, Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines) and then followed him as he grew up under the mistrustful eye of his stepfather King Amphitryon, played by Scott Adkins (Zero Dark Thirty, Assassination Games). Do you know how some of the worst foods for you taste the best? Well that is sort of the same idea I had about this schlock pop movie. It was so bad that it was like campy trash one would watch on a rainy day; sitting with a bag of potato chips, a tub of chip dip, a box of chocolate candy and a triple thick milkshake by one’s side. The acting was less about performance and more about being a cartoon character; it was so dull and corny with the ridiculous script. I have to assume the movie studio was looking to make a quick buck because the sets and special effects were beyond cheap looking. Wait until you see the lion; it looked like it was based on a squishy stuffed animal. Adding insult to injury, I saw this in a 3D theater that had issues with the film. For the first 20 minutes it was shown in 2D before the projectionist realized he was (I guess) supposed to flip a switch and make it 3D. No one in the theater even complained. I have to say once again Hollywood did Hercules wrong with this latest lowbrow movie.
1 2/3 stars
There were two things that stoked my imagination when it came to mythology. One was the original movie of Jason and the Argonauts. Watching those fantastical creatures battle Jason was something that sparked endless imaginary battles in my head. I would use Jason as a decoy while I was the one who found the Golden Fleece. The other object that gave me a new appreciation for myths was the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. Growing up it was required reading in school; everyone I knew had to read it. The idea that there were these beings living among us, who did not quite fit in, was something I could strongly identify with. If only I could have found a place like Camp Half-Blood that was featured in this fantasy film. Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Number 23) once again reprised his role of Percy Jackson, the son of Poseidon. When the security system protecting the children of gods and goddesses staying at Camp Half-Blood was neutralized, Percy and his friends decided to go out on a mission to seek the one item that could restore and protect their home from evil forces–the Golden Fleece. I thought the concept of this story was a good idea; setting it in current times with typical teenagers who had special gifts. Logan, as he has done in his past films, came across as a likable character; one you did not want to see get into harm’s way. Others in the cast such as Alexandra Daddario (Hall Pass, Texas Chainsaw 3D) as Annabeth, Douglas Smith (Blast From the Past, Antiviral) as Tyson and Jake Abel (I Am Number Four, The Lovely Bones) as Luke were nothing memorable. The special effects could have been better I thought. Ultimately for a story that had multiple opportunities to amaze and surprise me fell flat. I have a feeling the book this adventure film was based on would have been a better choice to spark my imagination, just like when I was kid.
1 3/4 stars
Maybe it was magic or a belief, even a mythical character; whichever you decide to choose will enhance this sweet movie. I am sure there have been times where you could not explain something with simple logic. The time I was working on a weight machine and my eyes began to hurt. A reasonable person would have stopped lifting the weights, but not me. I turned my head away to the side just before a cable snapped, missing my turned face. I could never explain it. In this imaginative film Irish fisherman Syracuse, played by Colin Farrell (Alexander, Pride and Glory), could not explain the nearly drowned girl he captured in his fishing net. Adding to the mystery were the changes that began to occur around him since this female came into his life. Syracuse’s daughter believed the woman who called herself Ondine, played by Alicja Bachelda (Trade, Stealth), was a Selke (water nymph). Filmed along the beautiful coast of Ireland, this movie was an enchanting blend of mythology and stark reality. Colin put in an impressive performance as the fisherman who was a recovering alcoholic and a father to an ailing daughter with failing kidneys. I found Alicja to be wonderfully mysterious in her role. Could Ondine really be a Selke or was she something more real. Bring a touch of fanciful thinking with you and find out the answer for yourself, in this curious film.
3 stars — DVD