MY JOB WAS NAVIGATION ON THE ship; rarely did I ever take on the role of captain. We were traveling in uncharted space; so, we were under a yellow alert, which meant everyone had to be at their assigned places, ready to go into action. I wound up steering the ship because my commanders were impressed with my instincts and ability to outmaneuver alien spacecraft. Our ship looked like an arrow; it was built streamlined for maximum speed. The front half was a triangular shiny silver shape, and the back half was an oversized cylinder that housed our massive engines. The bridge was at the base of the triangle, slightly elevated above the front half. At the forefront, just under the tip of the front part of the triangle, were a series of weapons that were incorporated into the design of the ship. We as a crew always strived to come in peace; however, if we were threatened, we could quickly become assertive to protect ourselves. On one trip, we encountered an alien ship that was shaped like half a circular dome with two long engines jutting out on one side. The dome had a honeycomb pattern to it. Without warning they started shooting at us, but luckily are protective shields withstood the blasts. I quickly steered the ship to dive underneath the enemy and blast them with our aft laser cannons to disable their craft. It worked. I NOTICED IT WAS GETTING LATE, so I quickly got up from the floor and put my rocket ship back in the kitchen drawer that held serving utensils. My rocket ship was a pie server. The enemy spaceship was a strainer that I hung back up on its hook in the pantry. There was so much cookware that I was never at a loss for finding something that I could pretend was a rocket ship or alien headquarters. There was a hand mixer that was one of my favorite kitchen items to turn into a rocket ship because by turning the handle, the two beaters would spin and become the engines that would propel the converted ship forward in the air or submerge and propel it underwater. Our kitchen was a treasure trove of objects and things that would stimulate my imagination to create a multitude of outer space adventures. Even ballpoint pens would become rocket ships to help Flash Gordon defeat Ming the Merciless and any other character I had seen or created. The feelings I have attached to these memories were stirred up while watching this animated, action, adventure film. DESPITE BEING STRANDED ON A FOREIGN planet, the mission still needed to be completed according to Buzz Lightyear, voiced by Chris Evans (Gifted, Captain America franchise), no matter what was taking place around him. With Keke Palmer (Hustlers, Joyful Noise) voicing Izzy Hawthorne, Peter Sohn (Luca, It Starts with Murder!) voicing SOX, Taika Waititi (The Suicide Squad, Free Guy) voicing Mo Morrison and Dale Soules (Aardvark, Orange is the New Black-TV) voicing Darby Steel; this science fiction movie was enjoyable. The animation was outstanding, with several incredible looking scenes. I thought the cast did an excellent job with their characters and was surprised by the emotional depth that was instilled in several of them. My concern with this picture comes down to the story line. The opening scene appeared to steer the story one way, but then there was no other reference to it the rest of the time. With the multiple story lines, I found they were distracting at times and lowered the connection between viewer and character. Granted, the story was not unusual or that exciting; however, the messages being conveyed were touching and the execution of events with its own unique humor made the time go pleasantly by. Though this Pixar movie might not reach the super status level of their previous works, I still found it stimulating and imaginative. There were two extra scenes during and at the end of the credits.
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
Two unrelated occurrences recently happened and were on my mind prior to walking into the movie theater. I had stopped in the men’s department of a retail establishment, store coupon in hand. There were 2 women shopping with their young sons; the boys looked like they were 6 or 7 years old. One boy was walking underneath the clothes racks, playing hide and seek. If he happened to knock a piece of clothing onto the floor he would pick it up and return it to the rack. The other boy was running around; if he stopped at the shelves of folded shirts, he would leave one crumpled on the floor. As he darted under the clothes racks, he left a trail of items strewn everywhere. His mother either did not see or care about what he was doing; I could not tell. I started to wonder what were the 2 boys taught that led them to two different reactions regarding respecting someone else’s property. The other incident that was on my mind had to do with a small news item I had read in the newspaper. An elementary school had a costume day where the students dressed up as their favorite literary character. One eleven year old boy was sent home because he came dressed like Christian Grey from the novel, 50 Shades of Grey. The article made me curious to know how this elementary school student even knew how to dress up like the character. From the time of birth to various stages in their lives children are impressionable. CREATED by Deon Wilson, played by Dev Patel (The Last Airbender, Slumdog Millionaire), the security robots of the police force were a big success as they kept crime down in the city. However when Deon gave one robot a conscience, Deon’s rival Vincent Moore, played by Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine, The Prestige), decided to take steps to protect his life’s work. This action, science fiction thriller had a thought provoking story. The idea of uploading a program to give a robot the freedom to think for itself was fascinating to me; especially because the transformed robot named Chappie, played by Sharito Copley (District 9, Maleficent), was essentially an impressionable infant. Unfortunately the idea for this story was poorly executed. Except for the wonderful visuals, the story was far-fetched and unbelievable in places. The acting was nothing special but the script did not do it any favors. For such an intriguing concept I was disappointed in this predictable story that felt shallow and boring at times. Along with the memories from the 2 earlier events before seeing Chappie, I still spent time afterwards thinking not only about the possibilities of having a conscious robot but the responsibilities. There were a few brief scenes that showed blood.
1 3/4 stars
When the day consisted of challenges and stress, some individuals find comfort by getting it soaked out of them with one squeeze. Meeting a friend or family member can begin with one of these, reattaching the shared bond of the two’s history together. At a time of grief, it tries to remove the tiredness and sadness from a person’s body. And then there is the special kind that greets you in the morning after drifting off from a romantic night into a deep slumber. A hug may not always be the cure-all but it certainly can come close. There is nothing like coming home after a hectic day at work and fall into a warm, inviting embrace. For me hugs have important therapeutic value; they can bring unconditional comfort and a sense of total acceptance. I still remain in awe on the sheer power a hug can have on us. Remembering a horrible breakup and how a pair of arms encased me as each breath I took was accompanied by a drenching removal of strength to continue standing. On the other hand there were times where a loving hug stretched out to greet and surprise me while tired, standing in line to exit after a long trip away. In its simplest form, a hug has universal appeal for all. HUGS took on more of a special nature in this exciting animated action film. Hiro Hamada, voiced by Ryan Potter (Supah Ninjas-TV, Senior Project), was content betting on his battling robot until he met at his older brother Tadashi’s, voiced by Daniel Henney (The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), laboratory an unusual looking robot named Baymax, voiced by Scott Adsit (We’re the Millers, The Italian Job). Hiro wanted to be part of this world filled with incredible devices being created by brilliant people such as Wasabi and Honey Lemon, voiced by Damon Wayans Jr. (The Other Guys, Let’s Be Cops) and Genesis Rodriguez (Identity Thief, Man on a Ledge). This movie literally shocked me with its bold new take on action heroes. Written with sensitive and humorous passages, this film provided a whole story for both the adult and kid viewing audience. The characters were average people who just happened to do amazing things in their lives. One of the aspects I appreciated most was the good vs evil aspect of the story without having to shed any blood or perform extreme violence. Now there was an issue about death that made the little 3-4 year old boy next to me cry; I believe he was in the minority. With wonderful visual effects and a strong story line, I left the packed movie theater feeling like I had just received a warm fuzzy hug. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.
3 2/3 stars
Things would be easier if memories were filed in some type of arrangement, such as a card catalog or power point presentation. My memories reside in this vast sea where they float about, swirling below and rising to the surface, depending on the current. Gratefully I can simply fish them out when needed. But what will happen if the waters become murky? In this story set in the near future, ex-jewel thief Frank, played by Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, Unknown), was at a point in life where his children Hunter and Madison, played by James Marsden (Hairspray, X-Men franchise) and Liv Tyler (Armageddon, The Lord of the Rings franchise) were concerned for his well-being. The solution was to provide Frank with a robot assistant. At first, Frank looked at this intrusion with disdain; however, once the robot assisted Frank with a heist, a new partnership was formed. This comedic drama set itself apart with firm acting by the cast. The exchanges between the robot and Frank were fun; I loved the deadpan delivery by Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead, An Education), who voiced the robot. There were parts of the story that dragged for me; but with the other parts being so good, it was not a major concern. The added story line of librarian Jennifer, played by Susan Sarandon (Enchanted; Jeff, Who Lives at Home), being replaced by a robot was an interesting twist among others. Who knows what the future holds, but this movie provided an interesting answer both in an amusing and poignant way.