EVERYONE, I BELIEVE, HAS AT LEAST two families; the family they were born into and the family they formed through life experiences. There are other types of families, for example a foster family. I have a friend who grew up with several foster children because her parents believed in helping innocent children out of bad situations. She had biological siblings but had more foster ones in the household through her years living at home. I was fascinated with her stories about all her siblings. It seemed like every meal was a party, even when her parents did not have much money to buy food. When I was little, I had no idea the friendships I was forming would turn into future members of my chosen family. The term “chosen family” was something I was not aware of when growing up; yet, there are individuals in my chosen family that I have known since elementary school. One is a girl I dated from 7thgrade. When we get together there is a long history of shared events, we can recall for each other. Whenever one of us introduces the other to new people, the new people are always amazed at the longevity of our relationship. There is a comfort and an easiness within our bond of friendship because we do not need to be anything but our real selves to each other. FROM AN OPEN SWIM NIGHT, AT a local community center in the neighborhood I grew up in, I formed a friendship with a boy from a different elementary school district. He was the first friend I made who did not go to my school. I was at the pool with my friends and he was there with a relative. We had been taking turns diving into the deep end and were congregated by the edge of the pool. He had been swimming the width of the pool a few times when he took a break by the edge near us. One of my friends struck up a conversation and he soon joined our little circle. By the end of the open swim time we all made plans to meet again the following week. Soon after that 2ndswim night, I found out he and I had a lot in common. Though we did not go to the same school we made plans to get together either after school or on a Saturday. After we all graduated elementary school, we found out he would be joining us at the same high school. Since then and after all these years, he has been one of my closest chosen family members. Because of my family of birth and chosen family, I felt a connection to the crew in this action, adventure, science fiction film. WHILE PICKING THROUGH A CONTAINER OF junk in outer space, a ship’s crew discovers a little girl who was still alive. If that wasn’t surprise enough, the crew would soon find a bigger surprise was in store for them. With Song Joong Ki (A Werewolf Boy, Doraemon-TV) as Tae-ho, Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden, Little Forest) as Captain Jang, Seon-kyu Jin (The Outlaws, Extreme Job) as Tiger Park, Hae-jin yoo (The King and the Clown, The Pirates) as Robot and Richard Armitage (The Hobbit franchise, Into the Storm) as Sullivan; this dramatic space odyssey had sound elements for creating an exciting story. For example, I connected with the chosen family element and appreciated the set-up for the class conflict situation. However, the script needed a good rewrite, I found it too long and the use of flashbacks got to be a little too much for me. The special effects were not spectacular, but they were good. Honestly, this movie came across like a poor cousin to a Marvel superhero film; still, there was enough in it that kept my interest going.
2 ½ stars
IT WAS ODD TO BE SITTING AT the wedding reception and seeing a different groom from what I expected. After dating a man for several years and having a tragic breakup, my friend met a man and decided to get married after a couple of months of dating. I never got the chance to meet him before the wedding. Having hung out with my friend and her previous boyfriend for the past years; suddenly now, I had to put all those memories and feelings aside to start out fresh with this new person who was a stranger to me. I had to hold up my end of the conversation while editing my thoughts, before they could be spoken out loud; so, I would not mention something from my friend’s past that included her old boyfriend. Without receiving any cues from her I did not know what was okay to say; I thought it would be best to be cautious and keep the talk light between us. I found myself from time to time over the course of the reception looking over at the newlyweds. Expect for being just as tall as her past boyfriend, I saw nothing else in common between the husband and ex-boyfriend. I knew there would be a learning curve until I would come to understand what made the husband tick. INTRODUCING A NEW PERSON INTO THE MIX is something that produces a bit of anxiousness in me. Whether I am the one or someone else is bringing in the new person, I immediately feel my guard going up as I survey the social landscape. If I am the one introducing someone to my friends and family, I spend a portion of my time wondering how people are reacting to the person I brought with me. Will they like him/her, will they get their sense of humor, will they tease them; these are things I think about as I make my introductions. This brings to mind the story I heard about the son who brought their girlfriend home to meet his family and the father, who was running late, came out of the bathroom wearing only a towel around his waist from showering, to say hello to the new girlfriend. I guess everyone reacts differently to being introduced to someone, especially when they know the new person may become part of their family. From all the stories I have heard and the times I have been involved in these “meet and greets,” I have never experienced what the people in this dramatic horror thriller went through when a new person became part of the mix. WITH RAW EMOTIONS PRESENT OVER THE breakdown of their parents’ marriage, the children were going to face the introduction of someone new into their family. This person was famous due to a tragic event. With Richard Armitage (The Hobbit franchise, Into the Storm) as Richard, Alicia Silverstone (Batman & Robin, Who Gets the Dog?) as Laura, Riley Keough (American Honey, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Grace, Jaeden Martell (It franchise, Knives Out) as Aidan and Lia McHugh (Along Came the Devil, American Women-TV) as Mia; there were elements to this picture that made me think the story would provide some scary thrills. First there was the filming of it; I liked the starkness to many of the shots and scenes. Next, Riley and Jaeden were the standouts for me with their acting. My issue with this film involved the script. Once again, decent elements but nothing tied up well with the script. I felt the story went nowhere and dragged at times. Plus, I am not a fan of open-ended stories; where the viewer doesn’t know if something is real or imaginary. Usually when I get introduced to someone, I learn something new. I left this film not sure what I had seen.
1 ¾ stars
Sage advice was given to me when a former boss told me timing was everything. With opening dates for movies planned far in advance, there will be times the film premieres at an ideal time or an unfortunate time. Since I live near where I grew up I have seen a change take place with the weather in the area. It seems every storm tends to be more violent now then when I was younger. I came to this conclusion the day I was prevented from getting home after teaching a cycle class. It had been raining for almost 24 hours and I had difficulty getting to class when some of the roads I took were closed due to flooding. Being determined, some would say stubborn, I finally arrived at the club just in time to teach class. With only a quarter of the usual participants, most of those in class had walked to the club. By the time I was done teaching, showered and changed to go home I immediately headed out. Unfortunately the roads I had taken were now flooded; the river had overflowed its banks. Every road I took was closed where I was forced to turn back around. There was one open road that was northbound so I kept driving even though I was not going in the direction of my house. A car ride that normally took 45 minutes turned out to be over 2 hours as I had to go far north to backtrack towards the east to reach my home. THIS action thriller picked a good time to open with newscasts recently reporting about several punishing storms. Richard Armitage (The Hobbit franchise, Captain America: The First Avenger) played vice principal Gary who on graduation day could not find his son Donnie, played by Max Deacon (Flashbacks of a Fool, Summer in February). Donnie was supposed to film the ceremony. With threatening storm clouds quickly brewing Gary was worried about his son’s safety besides the students participating in the graduation. The thrills in this movie were all due to the great special effects; the story on the other hand was poorly done and even diminished the excitement that was present. No one stood out in the cast for me except Richard and Sarah Wayne Callies (Faces in the Crowd, The Walking Dead-TV) who played meteorologist Allison. It was disappointing to have these super special effects not being supported by a better story and cast. There was nothing original in the script which was part of the issue with this picture lacking better intensity. Except for feeling like I was really witnessing a tornado’s effects; most of the remaining film made me think I had experienced more drama while out driving during a storm.
Some of the things home means to me are comfort, peacefulness, safety and refuge. This pertains to my present location. Home also has a special meaning when I think of the place where I grew up. There were neighbors who lived across, below and around the corner from our apartment. If I wanted to talk to my cousins who lived on the other side of the building all I had to do was open the bathroom window and call out their names. The other neighbors in the building were just like family to me. It meant nothing to go pick up something at the grocery store for a neighbor, especially since they would give me extra money to buy myself some candy. Years later when I found out our old apartment building was going from rentals to condominiums I was heartbroken. How could the apartment I was born in now be owned by someone? As long as it was a rental I could still imagine each person living there was only temporarily residing in my childhood apartment. Home can be a powerful connection which explains the motivation that drove the dwarves of Erebor to reclaim their land taken away by the greedy dragon Smaug. Led by Thorin, played by Richard Armitage (Captain America: The First Avenger, Robin Hood-TV), the dwarves were helped on their perilous journey by the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman (Love Actually, The World’s End) and Gandalf the Grey, played by Ian McKellen (X-Men franchise, Gods and Monsters). The landscape that director Peter Jackson (King Kong, The Lovely Bones) laid out in this fantasy film was exquisite. It looked as real and amazing as any of the incredible landscapes that would be considered a wonder of the world. The action was close to nonstop as possible to the point where I felt it was overkill. For me this was the movie’s downfall. There were so many action scenes that the story never developed fully. For the life of me I have no idea what was the reason for the secondary story line regarding the elf Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly (Real Steel, Afterwards); it came out of the blue and made no sense to me. Due to the excess of fight scenes in this adventure film, their repetitiveness only added to the times where I was getting bored. Clocking in at 2 hours and 41 minutes, this was a movie that felt longer because it did not have the magic that was present in the The Lord of the Rings franchise. To end on an up note I thought the dragon Smaug was a technical achievement. It was a shame the dwarves not only had to fight evil forces if they wanted to get back their homeland, they had to battle a bad script.
2 3/4 stars