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Flash Movie Review: Fast X

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, BIG FAMILY dinners were exciting for me. It was there where I had my first taste of coffee; granted, it was a couple of drops in a coffee cup with milk filling up the rest. However, I felt like such a grownup sitting there sipping on my coffee like the adults around me. The family dinner was also the setting where I tasted wine for the first time and made everyone laugh by the sour look on my face after tasting it. The food was always plentiful because relatives would always contribute a side dish or dessert. I along with my cousins would always sit together. We started out at the “kid’s table” which was a separate folding table, usually covered with some type of water-resistant tablecloth. One adult would oversee us, placing plates of food in front of us and periodically checking to see if we were goofing off. It was not until we reached the middle school years before we would be allowed to sit at the “big” table with the rest of the adults. It was there where the conversations would cover a variety of topics that could cause almost anything from laughter to arguments. It did not matter to me because it was a great learning ground to see how one tells a story, a joke, has a debate or disagreement.      AS WE WERE GETTING OLDER, THERE came a time when family members were getting engaged and married. For me, it added a new element into the mix of these family dinners. Suddenly this stranger entered our domain, as the boy or girlfriend of one of my relatives. Having them enter the mix immediately changed the dynamics of the get together. Suddenly individuals were on their best behavior. The language was toned down; in other words, less salty shall we say. Sometimes the person would fit in easily, but other times they would be the only one not laughing at something the rest of us found funny. Of course, some of these boys and girlfriends never lasted; however, if one turned into a fiancée or fiancé then that meant our family dinner would expand to include the future in-laws. There were times where the kid’s table had to be used for adults because there were so many people invited. I found the experience odd. Here were strangers I had never met, sitting and eating with us; it was always a crapshoot. Some could handle our noise level, while others sat there quietly throughout the meal. The more in-laws joining us eventually caused our big family meals to break apart where one sibling and all her offspring would hold their own holiday meal. With all the family connections in this action-packed sequel, I do not know how they could still sit around a dining room table.      A SON WHO LOST HIS DRUG LORD father during one of Dominic Toretto’s, played by Vin Diesel (Bloodshot, The Last Witch Hunter), jobs is hellbent on seeking revenge against Dom and his family. With Michelle Rodriguez (The Assignment, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves) as Letty, Jason Statham (The Meg, Spy) as Shaw, Jordana Brewster (Hooking Up, Who Invited Charlie?) as Mia and Tyrese Gibson (Dangerous, Black and Blue) as Roman; this crime adventure film was a mixed bag for me. The movie had all the elements that go into this franchise: fast cars, unbelievable stunts, intense fighting, explosions, scantily dressed women, dancing and speeches. It was too much for me. I felt the script was designed to incorporate everything that had been used before in the previous sequels. This does not mean there were not times where it was exciting to watch the action; but I was starting to feel that this franchise had run its course. This picture was only the first half of the story; there will be another film coming out which explains the extra scene in the middle of the ending credits. If you like cars and car chases and are invested in the characters, then you will have an easier time watching this movie. There were many scenes with blood and violence.                              

2 ½ stars 


Flash Movie Review: F9 The Fast Saga

A FOND CHILDHOOD MEMORY OF MINE was the many times I went to the auto show. Having built and painted a fleet of model racing cars, I loved seeing all the new cars inside the convention center. The faster a car could go, the more I was attracted to it. I would impatiently wait by a sports car, wishing the attendees sitting inside would get out, so I could sit behind the wheel and pretend I was speeding down a long highway. There was not one compartment, switch or knob that I left untouched. At some of the displays there were hired people, dressed in fancy clothes, who would walk around the car and talk about it to any passing person. To emphasize the point, they would eagerly open a car door to invite the individual to come and take a seat in the “latest,” most “advanced” automobile that is out on the street today. I took all of this in, fantasizing that one day I could get hired to talk about all the cars on display. Adding to my excitement, would be all the pamphlets and paraphernalia that the different auto manufacturers would pass out. By the end of the day, I usually had two full bags of stuff that I collected throughout the exhibit.      I HAD ANOTHER SPECIAL MEMORY FROM my times at the auto show. In the cafeteria where we would stop for lunch, they sold one of my favorite cookies but in a smaller size. I loved the idea of my favorite cookie being in a bite-size form because they were so easy to pop in my mouth. And they would not leave any crumbs. I always made sure I finished the bag before we would continue our way through the convention center. Even to this day, I remember those little sized cookies. Now, when I go to the grocery store, there are so many options to my favorite cookie that it becomes overwhelming. I remember when they changed the packaging and proudly proclaimed “New & Improved” across the top. They tasted the same to me. However, with their latest version, I must tell you I did not think they tasted as good as I remembered. After so many years, I hope I am not just getting bored with them; they did not excite me like I know they did in the past. I feel the same about this latest installment in the film franchise despite my love of fast cars.      AFTER HAVING SETTLED INTO A QUIET, idyllic life in the country, a crisis forces Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel (Bloodshot, The Last Witch Hunter), and the crew to deal with a terrorist that can match their fight and driving skills. With Michelle Rodriguez (The Assignment, Battle Los Angeles) as Letty, Jordana Brewster (American Heist, Home Sweet Hell) as Mia, Tyrese Gibson (Black and Blue, Transformers franchise) as Roman and John Cena (Vacation Friends, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Jakob; this action, crime adventure took the stunt driving to a new level. I enjoyed watching the over-the-top car scenes; however, there were so many of them that it got repetitive for me. There was no place for logic nor was there any time to focus on the characters. It was humor, race, pause for words of wisdom and repeat. The script could have gotten some help if it had incorporated more of Charlize Theron’s character because one of the “evil” characters was not very evil in my opinion. The cast appears quite comfortable with each other and I imagine they are enjoying themselves during the filming process. I am afraid compared to the prior installments in this film franchise, this latest one was more of a basic model instead of being top of the line. There was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Lean on Pete

SOME OF THE BEST CONVERSATIONS held are the ones between a pet and its owner. I am here to tell you there are a whole bunch of humans who could learn a lesson on communication, if they would watch and listen to owners talking to their pets. First off you would be hard pressed to find someone more compassionate and attentive than a dog or cat. I love both but I must say dogs have more facial expressions and possibly more empathy. Several years ago this happened but it is just as vivid in my mind now as it was when I saw it originally taking place. A friend of mine was going through a crisis; crying while curled up on their sofa. Into the room came their dog who took one look at its owner, came up to the edge of the sofa and jumped up onto a small open space by my friend’s feet. The dog walked behind my friend and plopped itself down between my friend and the back of the sofa, while putting a paw up on his shoulder. I was speechless as I saw the dog placing his head down on my friend’s back and its leg stretched out as far as possible into a hug.      SO YOU CANNOT TELL ME OUR pets do not understand our feelings. Simply look into your pet’s eyes and you will find pure love and affection. It is an unconditional love that makes your pet greet you when you get home; even if you were gone for 2 minutes, to them it seems like it was hours. Maybe you have had conversations where you are sharing your feelings with your friend and everything you say elicits a response from them, telling you they experienced the same thing. They may feel they are being compassionate but that does not always produce such results. I know someone who no matter what you say to them they always respond with a story that is worse than the one you told them. It is like they are in competition with you to see who has the most serious ailment or hardship. Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us and that is where pets make the perfect attentive listeners. They never judge us; all they want to do is love us. Though I have been focusing on dogs and cats, this film festival winning drama will show you another pet that helps someone through a crisis.      WITH HIS LIFE IN TURMOIL CHARLEY, played by Charlie Plummer (All the Money in the World, King Jack), finds comfort working at the rundown stables of owner Del, played by Steve Buscemi (The Death of Stalin, Norman). It is here he finds a true friend. Not since the movie My Friend Flicka have I seen such a beautiful connection being made between a boy and a horse. Charlie was nearly mesmerizing in his performance; one could feel his emotions and plight. With Chloe Sevigny (Love & Friendship, Big Love-TV) as Bonnie and Steve Zahn (A Perfect Getaway, Rescue Dawn) as Silver; I thought the cast did a wonderful job in bringing this story to life. The minimalist script created a slow and steady unfolding story; it felt like I was watching a novel come to life. I am a sucker for a movie with an animal in it; despite that, this was a worthy piece of work with believable characters who showed a true slice of life. Be prepared to experience your emotions as you watch Charley’s and Pete’s journey.


3 ½ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Getaway

It starts with the smell as the door is opened. The only thing I can think of is the odor comes across as if it is organic. With untouched upholstery, there is nothing like getting into a brand new car. When I traded in my old automobile for a new one; it had been so long, I almost forgot about that new car aroma. My first week driving around; I considered keeping a pair of slippers in the car, so the floorboard would keep that pristine, unblemished look. In the second month of ownership, the car looked as new as the day I drove it home from the dealership. I remembered the day was a Saturday and I was parked in front of the post office. Returning to my vehicle, I opened the door and settled into the driver’s seat that always felt like it was hugging me. As I leaned over to store my purchased stamps in the glove compartment, the car suddenly jerked back with a bang. Popping my head up above the dashboard I saw the car parked in front of me pull into traffic and drive away. I quickly jumped out of the car to see what kind of damage had been done. Close to the center the bumper was creased as if something had tried to fold it. The once shiny red paint now had white flakes scattered across it like dandruff. My driver side fog lamp was strewn in pieces on the ground. In that single moment all the joy I got from my new car vanished; I would forever be driving an old auto now. Do not worry, I did catch up to that driver and made him pull over so I could call the police; but the damage had been done. These same negative feelings quickly returned to me as I sat and watched this wreck of an action movie. Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight, The Purge) played former race car driver Brent Magra. When his wife Leanne, played by Rebecca Budig (Guiding Light-TV, All My Children-TV), was kidnapped; Brent was forced to follow the kidnapper’s commands, going on a high speed race against the clock to save his wife. Joining him would be The Kid, played by Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers, Ramona and Beezus). At first glance I thought Smurfette had taken human form as Selena. Hearing her swear was just wrong and her tough talk was laughable. The story made no sense, the car chases looked like they were one scene that was spliced into a continuous loop and it was boring. Trying to find something positive to say about this movie, I enjoyed the story’s locale. I am afraid an emergency road crew could not help this poorly made crime film. If you are looking for some excitement you would be better off going to an auto dearlership and test drive a new vehicle.


1 1/5 stars

Flash Movie Review: Hit & Run

In traditional wedding vows there is a part that goes something like, “Do you promise to love and cherish each other, until death do you part?” I still remind a married friend of mine about the time I was walking with him and his wife during a rain storm. A car came barreling down the street, hit a huge puddle of water and my friend quickly ducked behind his wife to avoid the splash. Instead, she got smacked with a wall of water that totally drenched her. I still tease him that their vows must have overlooked the part about protecting one another. In this comedy we find a man so in love with his girlfriend, he was willing to put his life in jeopardy for her. Yul Perkins aka Charlie Bronson, played by Dax Shepard (When in Rome, Baby Mama), was in the witness protection program after testifying against his old friend Alex, played by Bradley Cooper (The Words, The A-Team). When Charlie’s girlfriend Annie Bean, played by Kristen Bell (Big Miracle, Veronica Mars-TV), needed to be in Los Angeles for a job interview, Charlie insisted on driving her. Their road trip turned into a madcap racing adventure as former convict Alex, an ex-boyfriend of Annie’s and U.S. Marshal Randy Anderson, played by Tom Arnold (True Lies, Roseanne-TV), pursued the young couple. Real life couple Kristen and Dax were good together in their roles, quite believable. Tom Arnold easily handled most of the screwball comedy scenes. I gave Dax credit for writing the script besides doing director duty. Several scenes were funny and I liked some of the dialog. My issue with the movie was its similarity to other comedy chase movies. The Bradley Cooper character seemed false to me. While the movie played I cannot say I was totally bored; however, I was not all that invested in the story either. What people do for love and what movie critics do for reviews, is not always a marriage made in heaven.


2 1/3 stars 


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