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Flash Movie Review: Alpha

IT STARTED WITH A DISCUSSION ABOUT whales. She had seen a documentary about the plight of killer whales and we were in agreement about the harm being caused to them in captivity. I suggested another film about dolphins, but said it was tough to watch in parts. Our conversation took us onto the topic of zoos and their purpose. A foe of hunting for sport, she was not a fan of capturing wild animals and sticking them in cages to display to a paying public. I also am against hunting for sport and expressed my opinion, stating there is a place in society for zoos. If it helps to heal or populate the species I am all for capturing animals and having them live in a space similar to their natural habitat. There have been zoos I visited that were utterly depressing; the animals were lethargic, bored to the point of being almost comatose. At least they looked comatose to me. On the other hand, I have visited a few zoos that were making progress in perpetuating certain breeds of animals. My city’s zoo has been quite successful in breeding gorillas that are at risk of extinction. A zoo in the Midwest has the largest colony of penguins in the country. The work they have been doing with the animals has been extraordinary.      EVERY ANIMAL WHETHER YOU LIKE THEM or not has a purpose on this planet; I firmly believe it. I better since I originally started out my schooling in veterinarian sciences. The only thing though is some people have a different idea of what an animal’s purpose should be. Recently in the news there was talk about what type of service animals would be allowed on airplanes. The list wasn’t very long but the part I found interesting was the list of animals that would not be allowed. A service animal is individually trained to do work for the benefit of an individual who is disabled in some way. Because I do not know anyone with a service animal I was startled to see that miniature ponies and pigs were on the list. Now just because I have not seen it with my own eyes does not mean I do not believe these are some individuals’ service animals. I have seen where animals outside of the home pet realm have bonded with humans. And when it happens it turns into a special relationship; you could see for yourself in this adventure drama.      ON HIS FIRST HUNTING TRIP KEDA, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Let Me In), was mauled by a buffalo and left for dead. The wild animals around took him to be their next meal. With Natassia Malthe (Lake Placid, DOA: Dead or Alive) as Rho, Leonor Varela (Odd Thomas, Blade II) as Shaman, Johannes Haukur Johannesson (Atomic Blonde, I Remember You) as Tau and Jens Hulten (Skyfall, Wallander-TV) as Xi, this story set in prehistoric times had some beautiful scenes. I admired the acting of Kodi, but I especially of all the characters enjoyed the wolf the most. The script had no spoken English, so it was all subtitled; it was not a distraction since dialog was kept to a minimum. However, I felt the story dragged. Plus, some of the special effects were noticeable in the wrong way. Instead of enhancing a scene they came across as fake. I thought the idea for the story was wonderful and as I said previously I loved the wolf. The different reactions coming from the wolf made it hard to believe that the animal was trained to do such a thing. I am a sucker for a good animal movie and this one had good intensions; however, it needed some more training before allowing it out to the public.

 

2 ½ stars

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Flash Movie Review: The Meg

ONE OF THE THINGS I FIND more annoying then autocorrect changing my misspelled words to something completely different is a person who never believes what you tell them. I have this one friend who for some reason must confirm pretty much any details you share with him, even the most random of things. For example, if I were to tell him about a travel survey I read that listed the world’s top travel destinations, he would have to confirm it by looking it up for himself. When I told him that the retirement age for Social Security was not 65 anymore, that it was now based on the year of one’s birth, he did not believe me and had to go research it. Here is the specific part that I find the most irritating; he feels the need to come back and tell me that I am right. I just want to ask him why he thinks I would make up such a thing. Now of course there have been times where I misunderstood what I heard or read; but not enough to warrant disbelief for every single thing I have mentioned.     THERE ARE OTHER TYPES OF PEOPLE who like to see things with their very own eyes. Mention there was a car crash and they immediately want to see it for themselves. I am good with just hearing about it; though there are times where I am being told too much detail, especially if it is gory. Oh, and there are also some individuals who will share something they experienced or witnessed but add their own personal flair to it. I have mentioned before a friend I used to have who had this great saying: a story is not worth telling if you cannot exaggerate it. This is the category I fall into the most; I am all for telling a good story but keep the essential facts intact. To me this makes the difference between a good versus mediocre storyteller. I knew someone who everyone dreaded when she would try to tell us a story. She would have to give every single detail, weighing down her story to the point where you did not care how things turned out. And what made it worse was when the story was supposed to be humorous and she would explain why it was humorous as if you were unable to understand what made the story funny. I think the writers were not sure what type of audience was coming to see this action, horror thriller.      WHEN MEMBERS OF A DEEPSEA EXPLORATION team found themselves stranded on the ocean floor, the crew’s leader felt there was only one person who could save them. He was a former, discredited diver who believed there was something lurking at the bottom of the ocean. Starring Jason Statham (Spy, The Expendables franchise) as Jonas Taylor, Bingbing Li (The Forbidden Kingdom, Transformers: Age of Extinction) as Suyin, Rainn Wilson (Permanent, The Office-TV) as Morris, Cliff Curtis (Training Day, Whale Rider) as Mac and Winston Chao (The Wedding Banquet, Road to Dawn) as Zhang; this movie felt like one of those “B’ type of pictures that would play as a matinee. Jason was fun to watch but I found the script predictable and basic. There was little suspense though some of the special effects were good. As the story progressed after its slow start it appeared as if the script was constructed with bits and pieces from other movies, washed together with a Moby Dick vibe. As far as I am concerned this was an afternoon popcorn movie; I cannot recommend paying full price for it. I understand some of you will want to see it for yourself; I do not have an issue if you do.

 

2 stars              

Flash Movie Review: Early Man

IT ALL STARTED WITH SEA GLASS. Seeing children bent over picking at the ground like hungry chickens, they were searching the beach for bits of glass that had been polished for years by the ocean. I sat on a park bench above shifting my gaze from them to the calming water slipping quietly up onto the shore. As I listened to the kids periodically shouting out they found a piece of sea glass, I wondered where the glass originated. Could it have been a broken bottle, plate or piece of ceramic that was on a boat that had sunk a century ago, who knows? I wondered what the circumstances might have been; maybe the glass had traveled halfway around the world, tumbling over and over in the currents, until it landed right here up on our shore. Each and every piece of sea glass the children collected had all been part of something else from a different time. The thought fascinated me as I imagined a variety of scenarios based on a historical past. Maybe there was a bottle with a note in it that a child from a war torn country threw into the ocean, hoping someone would find it and come save them.     AS I WAS THINKING OF the past I remembered my recent trip to the history museum. Seeing artifacts that were centuries old such as mummies and dinosaur bones created pictures in my mind of what life must have been like for these animals and individuals. Honestly I cannot stand camping so how could I have possibly survived back then? With that being said I do wish there was a way I could look into the past and see for example what circumstances led up to the first person who discovered fire. Another thing, I would like to know what caused someone to make a wheel; was it a boulder rolling down a hill or maybe someone tripped and began falling head over heels that made them think about the possibilities of having a round object as a tool. I could go on and on coming up with different scenarios and circumstances. Through my schooling it was always taught to us to look back on history as a guide to where we are now. Now we just enter something into an internet search engine and read about it; I prefer hearing someone’s story about a time gone past. Granted it would only go up to several decades past, but lucky for us this animated adventure comedy delved far back in time to show us what was really going on.     THREATENED HAVING THEIR LAND taken over Dug, voiced by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl) agrees to a wager. The wager was based on a game that was called soccer. With Tom Hiddleston (Thor franchise, I Saw the Light) as Lord Nooth, Maisie Williams (Mary Shelley, Game of Thrones-TV) as Goona and Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner, Secrets & Lies) as Chief Bobnar; the movie studio that created this film is known for their claymation technique. I love the look of their films and the quirky humor they put into their scripts. Compared to their previous films I have to tell you this one was not one of my favorites. The story was odd with having a soccer game taking place during prehistoric times. As for the script there were some jokes and puns that were not as clever as I have seen them do in the past. Where I could not stop watching their fun previous pictures, this one bored me a little. If I think about it maybe prehistoric men and women did not have the luxury to be funny.

 

2 ¼ stars

Flash Movie Review: The Croods

Change within a person, if they so choose, usually happens over time. There are some people who make it look almost effortless; I am not one of those folks. The pace it takes me to set myself on a course for change barely can be measured with a pedometer. Keep in mind I have eaten the same thing for lunch at work every day, five days a week, for 20 years. In some unexplainable way I take pride in it because it was the same thing my mother did when she worked, as did her father my grandfather. Little did I know I would get a lesson about change from the prehistoric family in this animated comedy. By following the same exact rules every day Crug Crood, voiced by Nicolas Cage (Adaptation, Season of the Witch), had kept his family alive. Everyone knew when it started to get dark outside they had to retreat to the safety of their cave. Well, almost everyone knew except for his adventurous daughter Esp, voiced by Emma Stone (The Help, Zombieland). The family would have no choice however when disaster struck and the rules had to be changed, if they were going to survive. Catherine Keener (A Late Quartet, Into the Wild) voiced Ugla, Crug’s wife who was the peace maker of the family. Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein, The Beverly Hillbillies) voiced Gran, the thorn in Crug’s side. I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would and part of the reason was the cast. Having been in some dreadful films lately, I thought Nicolas did a fine job as the father. The humor was predominantly slapstick, but not in an overpowering way. Ryan Reynolds (Buried, The Proposal) was perfect as the inventive Guy, letting his pet handle the majority of comedy between the two. It did not bother me that the story was formulaic, it was easily figured out. However, due to the pacing and excellent animation; I found myself going along for the exciting ride. This film was appropriate for the entire family; there was a little for everyone. I think the film had a positive effect on me because I was able to tune out the noisy children sitting near me. Is it possible that I am changing?

 

3 stars

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