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Flash Movie Review: Johnny English Strikes Again

THERE ON THE RACK YOU SEE a sweater that not only grabs your eye, but you know you must have it. You start going through the rack; unfortunately, the color you want is not in your size. The style is what grabbed you at first and you know yourself so well.  Your wanting of it is now turning into a need. After checking the entire rack you are now faced with making a decision. The sales staff was no help because there was nothing left in stock; so, if you want the sweater you will have to settle on a different color. Blue is your favorite color, so you certainly do not want the brown or red one. Looking at the remaining colors you picture yourself wearing each color. The decision was not that difficult; you settle on the green colored sweater. You take satisfaction in your purchase because you know if you did not buy the sweater you would be thinking about it for a long time. Green was not such a bad color, you could deal with it not being blue.      THERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO WOULD not have bought the sweater; they are the type who will not settle for something less than the exact thing they want. I believe I fluctuate somewhere in between, depending on the item. For a recent holiday we decided to celebrate at a restaurant. There were eight of us around an oval table. When it came to ordering off the menu, three of us chose the same thing. It was a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and a cooked vegetable. After the waiter left with our orders we sat around talking while nibbling on the appetizers. In a few minutes the waiter came back to tell us out of the three turkey dinners, there were only two left. I was the first to speak up and told the waiter to give the other two their dinners; I would instead have the turkey burger and fries. The waiter was apologetic and left with my order. For me it was not a big deal; they didn’t have anymore, so what was I to do? When the meals were served the restaurant manager came up to apologize. I accepted his apology, so he would leave and all of us could start to eat. The meal was okay, but it was not a full dinner that looked especially good; I just settled for the turkey burger because I did not want there to be a fuss. The same thing could be said about this comedy film; If you do not have time to see a great movie, then this one might be okay instead.      WHEN A CYBER-ATTACK EXPOSES THE identities of Britain’s secret service agents there is only one agent available who is off the grid retired agent Johnny English, played by Rowan Atkinson (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bean franchise). Can old school spying work in a computer connected world? This action adventure also starred Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Bridget Jones’ Baby) as Prime Minister, Ben Miller (Paddington 2, What We Did on our Holiday) as Bough and Olga Kurylenko (The Death of Stalin, Hitman) as Ophelia Bauletova. This entire film had a retro vibe that reminded me of the Pink Panther movies. There was nothing that stood out as horrible; but for the most part, everything in the story seemed like it was done before. Rowan is quite good with physical comedy which is lucky since most of the script was having a gag upon gag upon gag. I did not find anything hilarious; possibly because the set-ups were all predictable to me. If the show times aren’t working for you to see a better film and you are the type who doesn’t mind settling, then this picture would just be okay. But do not spend money on a full priced ticket.

 

2 stars

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Flash Movie Review: The Water Diviner

Something must happen to one’s senses when they become a parent. All of a sudden it seems like their hearing stretches out for several blocks and their eyesight is akin to an eagle. I do not know how it happens but I can remember during the summer months parents and their children from the neighborhood would always be down at the beach and no matter where a child went their parent would always know their whereabouts. Even if there was a group of kids playing in the water; if one stepped on a rock and gave out a yelp, their parent back on shore sunning themselves would immediately sit up and scan for their child. I used to feel like I was surrounded by these superhuman mothers with special powers. That unique connection must get turned on from the love one has for their child. It is a bond that gets twisted, bent and squeezed yet never breaks. In fact you may have seen on the news that mother from Baltimore who, though her son had a hoodie pulled over his masked face, spotted him in a crowd and made a beeline from him. I heard an interview with her where she said she could not tell it was her son by his face; but just his stance and the way the sweatpants were hanging on him, she knew it was him. It is amazing what parents will do for their children.    WITH their death weighing heavy on him Australian farmer Connor, played by Russell Crowe (Winter’s Tale, State of Play), was determined to travel all the way to Turkey to find his sons’ corpses and return them back home so they could have a proper burial. This award winning drama was Russell’s first foray behind the camera as director. I have to say I was impressed with his first attempt. The story was big regarding the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli, so there were a lot of scenes and a large cast. Besides Russell taking the title role there was Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Hitman) as Ayshe and Jai Courtney (Divergent franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard) as Lt. Colonel Hughes. Now there were some parts of this war film that could have been cut back, especially the love interest story line; I found it to be unnecessary. There was also a melodramatic sweep through this picture, where things were predictable and seemed as if they were tweaked with the viewer in mind. In addition there were a couple of parts that did not make much sense; however, with the expansive landscapes, the international locations and the pure story line about a parent’s love, I felt I was seeing an old-fashioned Hollywood period piece. There were several scenes with violence and blood.

 

2 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Centurion

Recently I was playing with a friend’s dog who loved being chased around the house. Though he was a small sized dog he would outrun me. It was so funny to watch him when he moved out of eyesight from me; he would stop and wait until I entered the room before taking off again. It reminded me when we were kids how we loved being chased by older relatives Actually I cannot recall any child not enjoying a game of tag or having someone playfully chase them. However once we start arriving at adulthood, being chased takes on a whole different, scary dimension. For those who have never experienced being chased let me describe it for you. The brain opens the floodgates of hormones for the body to take flight. As the heart is pounding in your chest, hearing it all the way up to your ears, your vision narrows into a tight focus as the eyes are constantly seeking out safe passage for you. Despite hearing your body in overdrive, the ears suddenly take on animalistic sharpness; you are able to single out the sounds stretching to you from your pursuers. And finally, time becomes distorted where seconds feel like minutes and minutes feel like milliseconds.    DEEP inside enemy land a small group of Roman soldiers was trying to make their way back after a devastating battle. However, revenge would sustain those assigned to hunt them down, no matter how long it would take. This film festival nominated movie’s story was set in Britain during the 2nd century, starring Michael Fassbender (X-Men franchise, Shame) playing Centurion Quintus Dias and Dominic West (Chicago, 300) as General Titus Flavius Virilus. It was these actors that attracted me to this DVD since I was not familiar with the writer/director Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Doomsday). I have to tell you right at the start this action drama had a large amount of blood being spilled throught it; I mean a lot. The acting was good and I especially liked the character of Etain, played by Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, The November Man). Except for all of the blood, I enjoyed the way this picture was filmed; some of the outdoor scenes had a great look to them. Regarding the battle scenes, they were a bit intense at times even though they verged on becoming cartoonish. What basically caused me to lose interest was the story; it essentially became one long chase scene that seemed to be repeating itself. I also did not think the scripted dialog did it any favors. There would be no reason to go out of your way to see this film; but if you had time to kill with nothing to do, you may be okay pursuing this one. Many scenes had blood and violence in them.

 

2 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: The November Man

The time was put in and you felt you paid your dues. There was a sense of success associated with the job that enabled you to feel proud. But when the time came you were done; you did not want to have to put in another day doing the same thing you had been doing for many years. A long time ago I had a part-time job as the manager for a furniture company’s moving crews. Prior to taking the position, the department was constantly under fire from customer complaints about the damage caused by the crews delivering the furniture. My responsibilities were to setup weekly routes for the various crews; manage the loading of the moving vans and reduce damages to a minimum. It was a grueling job since more times than not I had to fill in and be part of a crew. I was constantly amazed by the customers who bought furniture that would not fit into their houses. When the time came to leave that job I was glad and vowed I would never move another piece of furniture again. However, I soon learned never to say never because anytime a friend asked me to help them move something I could not say no. These are some of the things you just do for friends.    Similarly former CIA agent Devereaux, played by Pierce Brosnan (Love is All You Need, The Ghost), had the same dilemma when he agreed to come out of retirement to extract a friend from a potentially hostile situation in Russia. Due to the length of time away from the agency, there was a chance Devereaux’s special skills would not be able to serve him well this time. This action thriller played out as a light version of James Bond; without the sophistication, charm and witty dialog. Though there were plenty of explosions and chases, the script was a poor excuse for a crime film. Pierce was convincing in his role which helped fellow cast members Luke Bracey (Monte Carlo, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) as Mason and Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Seven Psychopaths) as Alice. Unfortunately the directing was not very good; I found myself becoming bored as the story spiraled into a multitude of cliches and predictability. With the recent releases of these action films starring aging movie stars and their obvious stunt doubles, I did appreciate the fact that Pierce appeared to be doing some of his own stunts; if not, the camera work was much better here because it was convincing to me. It would have been fun to watch Pierce in this type of role since I was always fond of his James Bond movies; however, it could not be found here because this film was easily forgettable.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: To the Wonder

It takes a lot of work to make a long distance relationship successful. Communication is so important, I have found, in keeping that connection solid when the two individuals are apart. One of the pitfalls of a long distance relationship is when the two of you are together, it tends to feel like a vacation. Cramming in favorite restaurants and sights becomes the norm, bypassing the reality of daily life. Another thing to consider, if the final goal is to start a life together in the same place, is what location becomes home base. A sure sign of maturity with your decision is when “yours” and “mine” becomes “ours.” In this dramatic romance directed by Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, Day’s of Heaven), we witness the shock waves of a couple’s love when the romance and reality of their relationship come together. Ben Affleck (Argo, The Town) played Neil, an American who fell in love with a woman he met while traveling through Europe. Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, Hitman) was Marina, the European woman smitten with Neil. After a whirlwind romance Neil brought Marina back to the states, to settle with him down in Oklahoma. Told with very little dialog, I felt I was just watching a series of random scenes on the movie screen. I can appreciate the artistic value in making a film such as this, where the viewer is being told the story via visuals. However, after 15-20 minutes I started losing interest in the story. As the movie dragged on I felt I was in one of those market research groups watching a series of beautiful television commercials and I was supposed to rate them. As for co-stars Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris, The Vow) as Jane and Javier Bardem (Skyfall, No Country For Old Men) as Father Quintana, they were wasted in this laborious movie. I strongly disliked Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life; however, if you enjoyed that film, you probably would like this one. Consider this a lighter version with less unconnected scenes of outer space and nature. I have to tell you, it was easier for me to handle the times of separation in my long distance relationship than sitting through this movie.

1 3/4 stars

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