WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY, there were people in my life who I thought were heroes. They just were not superheroes like the ones I read about in the comic books. There was this man in the neighborhood who I thought was the strongest human. He used his backyard as a workshop, so I would see him lifting and carrying these large and heavy planks of wood. The fastest runner in the neighborhood I thought was a boy who had the grace of an animal when he ran. It was not until I was older before I encountered individuals who I would classify as superheroes. I met a retired nurse who had helped in the delivery of every baby born in the town she lived in. That also included the pregnancies that had complications. If that was not enough, she found the time to walk at least two miles a day, despite having two cracked vertebrae in her spine. Coincidently, I encountered an individual who spent a part of each day crocheting baby blankets, which she would donate to various establishments in low-income areas, like day care centers and clinics. These individuals I have described are more of a superhero than those who brag about their accomplishments. AT A COMPANY I USED TO work at, there was a senior executive who made a point of always mentioning his latest donations to charities. I did not fault him for sending funds to a charitable organization; but honestly, based on his personality I was not sure if he was telling the truth. He was a big braggart who liked to dress in a flashy style. The twisted part about all of this is the fact he was fired for stealing. I never knew if he was stealing from the company to make his donations; but based on my impressions of him, I would not have put it past him. Another employee at the company was someone who I highly respected. They were a survivor from both mental and physical abuse. Their journey led them to the job they had so they could save money to go back to school and become a counselor for people who had suffered a comparable situation to what she had experienced. To me, she was a superhero. We became friendly because we had something in common. It is people like her, who on the outside look unassuming, but inside they make or plan to make a difference in other people’s lives. Though, it seems like it is harder to find superheroes amongst us these days, you might see one in this dramatic, action fantasy. THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT HIS NEIGHBOR that made Sam Clearly, played by Javon “Wanna” Walton (Euphoria-TV, Utopia-TV), think this man was a deceased superhero. There was only one way to find out. With Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables franchise, Daylight) as Joe, Pilou Asbaek (Ghost in the Shell, Game of Thrones-TV) as Cyrus, Dascha Polanco (In the Heights, Orange is the New Black-TV) as Tiffany Clearly and Sophia Tatum (F9: The Fast Sage, Riverdale-TV) as Sil; the fundamentals of this film were good, but they did not get freshened up to provide a better entertainment experience. I thought Sly did a particularly respectable job of acting. The script starts out trying to draw in the viewer; what gets me immediately is when a person is being picked on. However, the script rolled out in a predictable, generic way. Except for one plot twist, there was nothing else that was done in a new fresh way that could have surprised me. Despite these flaws, I was still able to pay attention for the most part due to the steady pace. If you have a couple of hours to kill and want something light to watch, then this movie can fit the bill. There were several violent, bloody scenes.
2 ½ stars
I MEAN NO DISRESPECT TO ALL the understudies I have seen in theatrical productions, but the shows where the understudy stepped in for the headlining Broadway star left me feeling slightly disappointed. It was especially difficult for me when the show I was seeing was slated to open on Broadway, after its trial run. If it means anything I would feel the same type of disappointment if I bought tickets to a Florida amusement park and its major top ride was not open due to repairs. Am I any different from anyone else who wants to get exactly what they paid for? Now I will say when there is not a major actor in a theatrical production I do not pay attention to see if any of the roles will be played by an understudy. I guess I have always had faith in the producers and director that they have chosen a competent actor who could do the part just as well as the actor who was originally cast. A thought just came to me; I would be totally disappointed if I went to a restaurant for a specific meal I enjoyed only to find out they were not serving it that day. I feel disappointment is simply a part of human nature. THERE HAVE BEEN CERTAIN MOVIES I have seen that disappointed me. Maybe my expectations were set high due to the actors or director involved, but there have been times where I questioned why the film studio chose to make such a film. I remember when I was a kid there was a television show hosted by a man dressed up as a ghoul, warlock or zombie of some kind. It aired every week on the weekend, showing these old dated films. I always wondered if these pictures were ever released in a theater. There was a term for these kinds of movies; they were called “B movies.” Mainly they were low budget films; so, the actors were not the most poplar and the sets/costumes were not the best quality or sophistication. On a rainy Saturday I used to enjoy sitting down and watching these pictures. Some of the stories I remember were about killer tomatoes, 50-foot tall women and crazy aliens aka human beings in cheap looking rubber suits. B movie stories were always easy to follow as the scripts were kept to the minimum, both in words and depth of emotions. If you are not familiar with this type of film, this picture I believe wanted to come off as one of those B movies from a long time ago. ORDERED TO TAKE OUT A VITAL GERMAN radio tower on the eve of D-Day, a small group of soldiers discover something behind enemy lines that could change the course of history. This horror mystery movie starred Jovan Adepo (Fences, Mother!) as Boyce, Wyatt Russell (22 Jump Street, Everybody Wants Some!!) as Ford, Mathilde Ollivier (The Misfortunes of Francois Jane) as Chloe, Pilou Asbaek (Ghost in the Shell, Game of Thrones-TV) as Wafner and John Magaro (The Big Short, Liberal Arts) as Tibbet. For me this picture had a strong retro vibe. The reason I say this is because most of the special effects were done the old-fashioned way, with makeup and costumes instead of CGI. The story was simple which allowed the writers to focus on an abundance of action scenes. I did not mind these scenes but after a while it seemed as if I was watching one long chase scene, going back and forth from the Nazis winning one round to the US forces winning the next and so on. Overall this movie was more of a novelty for me, something that belonged on television during a rainy Saturday afternoon.
1 ¾ stars
WHEN I saw Rosie helping the Jetson family and Data assisting the crew of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, I believed an opportunity was being created for mankind to better itself. Removing some of the unimportant necessities of the day would allow man to study and learn more about life; in other words humans could reach a higher level of consciousness. Witnessing the blending of mechanical objects with people really has been an extraordinary event. Just think about individuals who received mechanical hearts and valves or athletes getting artificial arms and legs; it has changed people’s perceptions about what it means to be physically challenged. Just in the past several months the news reported on an artificial hand that a person could control with their mind; did you ever imagine this becoming reality during your lifetime? I vaguely remember an advertisement tagline that said something like, “better living through science.” This idea certainly has validity; however, I have a growing concern that science, depending on who is calling the shots, could dominate mankind. ONE of my concerns for some time has been the manipulations taking place in our food chain. I am not comfortable ingesting a food item that has been genetically modified. The idea of animals being injected with growth hormones to create supersized creatures to yield more meat or milk frightens me. This was one of the reasons I gave up red meat years ago. Another area that concerns me is the “beauty” industry. With the amount of chemicals people apply to themselves on a daily basis with their soaps, dyes and makeup; I just wonder what the body does with it when the products get absorbed into the skin. Even seeing people who have gone through extensive plastic surgery to maintain their youthful appearance troubles me. I remember standing next to a television celebrity who was talking to their aide. Their face barely budged as the lips were forming words; their facial expression was totally void of any emotion. The title of this futuristic action film could easily apply to this celebrity. MAJOR, played by Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers franchise, Lost in Translation), was the first of her kind; she was the ultimate blend of human and machine. At least she thought so until she started experiencing flashbacks. Watching this dramatic crime movie was a wild visual ride. All I could think about was it looked like a cross between the films Blade Runner and The Fifth Element. Based on the graphic novel this movie also starred Pilou Asbaek (Lucy, A Hijacking) as Batou, Juliette Binoche (Godzilla, The 33) as Dr. Ouelet and Michael Pitt (Seven Psychopaths, The Dreamers) as Kuze. I am not familiar with the story; however, the first half of this picture had me totally into it. Scarlett was good with the physical demands of the role, but I thought the acting part was one dimensional; unless that was how the character was written in the book. The last half of the film for me turned into a typical action movie; in fact, I am concerned Scarlett is being typecast since her character shared similarities with her Lucy and Avengers characters. I would have preferred if the script had stayed focused on the storyline regarding the flashbacks. The title of this movie remained with me afterwards as I wondered if this is where science will be going in the future.
2 ½ stars