IF YOU WERE TO SEE THEM all sitting at their desks you would not notice anything unusual about them. Everyone would be working and helping each other, conversing about work issues and/or personal things, coming together to celebrate a fellow employee’s birthday even; typical for any business office I would imagine. However, there was a difference with this group. I used to be a part of them, and it did not take me long to realize certain employees were being treated differently. There was someone in management who would walk through our office occasionally and drop off a store-bought cup of coffee at one particular employee’s desk. The rumor going around the 2 of them were having an affair. I never saw proof of it, but I did find it odd that the manager would single out one employee over the others. Within the same office there were several employees who would get together after work hours. Employees meeting after work was not an issue for me; however, this group started covering for each other. If one member of the group had to leave early, another in the group would take their timecard and go punch them out at the expected ending time. That used to bug me. I THOUGHT AFTER HIGH SCHOOL I would have been done dealing with cliques; it turned out that was not the case. In both elementary and high school, I was never part of a particular group, though heaven knows at one point I wished I could have been. Whether it was my appearance, my interests or my demeanor; I never understood how cliques formed then fought their way up in the status rankings. As a group became popular, they usually became rude and/or offensive. Whenever I had to interact in school with one of the popular kids, it was made quite clear they were talking down to me as if they were gracing me the privilege of being in their presence. Not every one of them, but there was a good portion of students who acted better than the rest of us. Somewhere I started feeling good that I was not part of a clique. One could argue this was my defense; but I honestly do not believe it because I was slowly growing comfortable in my own skin. I was not comfortable associating with students who came across as arrogant, rude or self-centered. It is funny, I haven’t thought about those cliques for some time until I sat through this action, adventure comedy film. THOUGH SHE CREATED THE DEVICE TO HELP mankind Elena Houghton, played by Naomi Scott (Aladdin, The 33), realized in the wrong hands the device could become a lethal weapon. For that reason, she concluded she would need help in protecting her creation, but she had no idea it would come from a band of women. With Kristen Stewart (The Twilight Saga franchise, Personal Shopper) as Sabina Wilson, Ella Balinska (The Athena-TV) as Jane Kano, Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise, Love & Mercy) as Bosley and Patrick Stewart (Star Trek franchise, Christmas Eve) as John Bosley; the reboot of this franchise was given a fresh look by Elizabeth who wrote and directed it. I thought the action scenes were fun in a campy way and some of the humor worked; however, I felt the script had a difficult time deciding what type of story to tell. Part camp and homage to the TV series and part strong feminism message; I felt torn between the two as the movie played out. There was not much to get excited about overall; but, I did enjoy the different locations used to shoot this picture. It was obvious to me the studio is hoping this will ignite a new film franchise; but if they want to create a group of Charlie’s Angels films, they will need to figure out the right balance of elements to make this a worthwhile view. There were several short extra scenes during the credits.
I HAD NOT THOUGHT OF HER for some years. She was a friend of a friend of mine; so, we would occasionally see each other at gatherings. Her appearance was always kept to a high fashion level, from shoes to jackets; she did not come out and say where she shopped, but many of her clothes would tell you by the logo or label that was prominently displayed. My conversations with her were kept to light pleasantries. I never knew until later that she had been conducting research on me. In fact, I found out she would always investigate any new men who came into this circle of friends. And by research, I mean she would find out the men’s occupation, marital status, living situation and several other key factors that would determine if they were worthy of her dating them. The thing that I found the most appalling was her use of her employer’s resources to investigate the credit worthiness of these men. She would pull reports that would show a history of the guy’s finances and FICO scores. I could not believe it when I heard about it; she was not looking for love, she was looking for a large bank account as far as I could tell. SHE WAS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF a greedy person. All she was looking for was someone who could fund her whims and purchases, in my opinion. The reason I thought of her after all this time was due to seeing this movie. The story it is based on is a classic one, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. When I first heard this story, the phrase “open sesame,” became part of my vocabulary. What little boy did not want to have the power to open things just by uttering those two words? However, it was this story where I learned about greed. From reading the story, I later noticed there were several movies that had the same message. The Thief of Bagdad, Arabian Nights and Aladdin’s Magic Lamp to name a few, besides television shows such as Scooby-Doo! In Arabian Nights or the opera Ali Baba; over many decades the public has been exposed to this classic story. Now comes along this live version of the animated film from 1992 and again I get the chance to see what greed can do to people; however, I do not think what I saw was what the movie studio intended to show us. FROM A CHANCE MEETING OUT ON the streets, a poor street urchin gets the chance to make his wishes come true. However, he is not the only one. This adventure comedy presented an updated version of the tale. Starring Will Smith (I Am Legend, Wild Wild West) as Genie, Mena Massed (Run This Town, Let’s Rap) as Aladdin, Naomi Scott (The 33, Power Rangers) as Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari (Ben-Hur, Murder on the Orient Express) as Jafar and Navid Negahban (12 Strong, Charlie Wilson’s War) as Sultan; this now is my 3rd time seeing this version of the story, having seen the original animated film and the live theater production. If you have never seen any of these then you might enjoy this family film more than I did. I knew Will would have a hard time doing a performance that would be as memorable as Robin Williams’ take on the Genie, and sure enough it was just okay overall. Aladdin’s singing voice was not that good to me and I did not find any chemistry between him and Jasmine. The special effects were nothing special; to be perfectly honest, I was underwhelmed by this picture. All I could think of was the movie studio’s greed allowed this film to come to fruition.
2 ¼ stars
LONLINESS can be your friend when you do not fit in. Depending on the circumstances not fitting in can be an asset; however, in a “dog eat dog” environment the non-conformer can become an easy target for ridicule. When I look back at my experiences involving group settings, the one thing I find in common across all of them is the quickness people have in making judgments. If one person deems another person an oddball, others will easily follow suit; even if they have not had any personal contact with the newly labeled individual. Personally I celebrate those individuals who do not follow this pack mentality. It saddens me when I have found myself in a situation where one person decides another person inferior in some way. When I can I will challenge them to explain why they think that way. You should hear some of the excuses; a majority of them have to do with a person’s looks or appearance. Other reasons have to do with the individual not following exactly the same steps as the accuser. As far as I can tell there really is no good excuse. ONE summer I was enrolled in a woodworking class that was limited to 12 students. Once we were taught how to use our tools we were given a project to create a functional object. I chose to make a chessboard while the guy next to me decided to make a boomerang. Out of all of us there was one person who spent time lining up different pieces of wood around their workspace, color coordinating them. Everyone else was into cutting and arranging the wood they chose. Within a couple of minutes I heard someone behind me whispering to look at the weird one with all the wood around him. It only took a few seconds before I started to hear people snickering around me. Long story short, the student with all the wood pieces created an incredible looking coat rack that even impressed our instructor. It goes to show that those who do not fit in can still achieve great things; just see what happens in this action adventure film. FIVE high school students on the outs with their classmates find themselves thrown together when they start experiencing weird effects from a glowing rock. Starring Dacre Montgomery (Safe Neighborhood, A Few Less Men) as Jason/Red Ranger, Naomi Scott (The 33, Terra Nova-TV) as Kimberly/Pink Ranger, RJ Cyler (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Vice Principals-TV) as Billy/Blue Ranger, Ludi Lin (Monster Hunt, Marco Polo-TV) as Zack/Black Ranger and Becky G. (Empire-TV, House of Sin) as Trini/Yellow Ranger; I first have to tell you I am not familiar with the television show that inspired this fantasy picture. Based on the audience reaction at my viewing; those who were fans of the Power Rangers enjoyed the movie immensely, those seeing the rangers for the first time were not as enthusiastic. I found the movie cheesy; in other words, the special effects were not top notch and the script was average. Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise, Pitch Perfect franchise) as Rita Repulsa was the most fun character in my opinion. What impressed me the most about this movie was how they incorporated a student on the spectrum into the story; unless of course the character was the same in the original TV show. Overall this movie did not stand out for me.