DESPITE BEING TOLD NO TWO WERE alike, I wanted to see for myself. During the next snowfall, I tried to catch and see if each snowflake was truly different. My experiment was not really thought out completely; but in my defense, I was a little kid who wanted to see if the teacher was right. The snowflakes that landed on my gloved hand all looked similar to me; I just wished I had a magnifying glass to see up close the flakes. In our schoolbook, the pictures of the flakes were finely detailed and each one was unique. I remembered at the end of our lesson that day, the teacher had us take out a sheet of paper, fold it up and use a scissors to cut out different shapes along the edges. Once we were done, she told us to unfold the paper to see the snowflake we created. It was a fun trick that we enjoyed, as each of us compared our paper snowflake to the ones being held up around us. Though several flakes looked similar, none of us could find two snowflakes that looked identical; the teacher was correct. I liked the idea of each flake being different; my adult mind would say being unique. I FOUND MYSELF RELATING TO THE snowflake because I felt I was different from my classmates. Overall, most looked and dressed in typical school wear, some even shared similar likes and dislikes; but there was no mistaking I was the only one like me. I say this because I felt my differences were something that no other student in my classroom had ever displayed in the slightest way; I felt completely alone in this regard. Growing up in a time where everyone looked like they were trying to match each other, both in fashion and thought, I found myself out of synch with the majority. As I grew older that chasm between me and other students grew wider. Some classmates started to ignore me while others started acting out with hostility towards me. I did not understand; I was just being me. There was nothing different I was doing in my daily routines at school; but for some reason, several students picked on me. If I had my grown adult mind at that time, I would have realized they were acting out with their own insecurities, wanting to be part of the herd and not stand out. That was not me; I started to embrace my differences once I was old enough to understand them. The idea of people reacting and being different in this dramatic, crime action story is what attracted me to watch this film. A NEW DRUG WAS BEING PUSHED out by the drug dealers in New Orleans. Its claim was it could give you a superpower for 5 minutes; what you did with it was up to you. With Jamie Foxx (Ray, Law Abiding Citizen) as Art, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Walk, Don Jon) as Frank, Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give, Night Comes On) as Robin, Rodrigo Santoro (The 33, Ben-Hur) as Biggie and Courtney B. Vance (Office Christmas Party, The Hunt for Red October) as Captain Craine; this science fiction film’s story had a great premise to build on. Casting Jamie, Joseph and Dominique increased the chances for this pseudo superhero movie to succeed; however, the script did not provide enough power to catapult this picture into the top tier of this type of genre. The story had a level of predictability as it incorporated several themes that have been done better before. I still enjoyed watching this movie, mainly because of the acting and comic book flavor of the scenes. There were some scenes that were too dark visually for me. I wished the writers had dug deeper into the dark side of the characters, along with expanding on the uniqueness each of us possess inside.
One of the benefits for me in living close to a large metropolitan city is to have easy access to the old historical structures that are still standing. I have always enjoyed seeing buildings from different style periods and eras such as Frank Lloyd Wright to Art Deco. The detailing on these buildings is something you rarely see these days. Now there are many modern structures that I find beautiful; in fact, there is a relatively new high rise building here that has series of balconies in different sizes to give the illusion of water cascading down the sides of the skyscraper. No matter where I travel I always try to find time to check out a place’s famous buildings; there is just something about these majestic structures that amaze me. Maybe part of it is due to the fact they are viable and still standing compared to some of the new buildings I have seen that already show decay. I may have mentioned some time ago my favorite movie theater growing up. It was one of those old stucco structures with a large colored marquee in front. Inside there was marble everywhere and all the porcelain and gold decorations were styled after actual objects found in churches, villas and palaces across Spain and Italy. I cannot describe the sadness I experienced when years later the land underneath the theater was purchased and the new owners demolished the structure. What replaced this grand theater was a monstrosity, an apartment building with retail stores. As for a new theater one was built several miles away; it was a cinder block, square structure void of any decorative appointments. Supposedly the candy counter had a bigger selection of candy and they claimed the popcorn was better. There are some things that should not be touched; they are perfectly fine just the way they are. BETRAYED and imprisoned for several years Judah Ben-Hur, played by Jack Huston (American Hustle, The Longest Ride), returned home to seek out revenge on the person who ruined his life; it was his adopted brother Messala Severus, played by Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four, The East). This adventure drama remake also starred Morgan Freeman (London Has Fallen, Now You See Me franchise) as Ilderim, Rodrigo Santoro (300 franchise, Pele: Birth of a Legend) as Jesus and Sofia Black-D’Elia (The Immigrant, Project Almanac) as Tirzah Ben-Hur. CGI was the main tool used to freshen up this story. It was needed because I thought the script was just a mess. Some of the dialog was ridiculous and out of place for the time period. As for acting it was bland except I did not mind Morgan’s character even though it was similar to many of his other roles. He plays this sensible, mild spoken character who knows more than anyone else. Reading the credits there were two names listed I recognized that have produced other films; each one of their movies was poorly done in my opinion. It explains why this production was no different. You have to know if the horses are even trying to run out of the story then something must be terribly wrong with this picture.
1 ¾ stars
When I began posting my movie reviews I made a commitment to write one a day for an entire year. It was not always easy; I had to decline social engagements, besides dealing with the electronic gremlins that would mess up my postings from time to time. There were days where my fingers had to do double time to get the review done before the strike of midnight; not that I would turn into a pumpkin, just wouldn’t be able to keep my word. However, I carried out my promise to myself and did it. Some of my friends thought I was crazy with my rigid dedication but I have always had that trait. It is similar to my not eating 5 hours before I go to bed as a means of maintaining my weight. Right from the beginning of this action drama, I could identify with the actors’ dedication in achieving their impressive chiseled physiques besides the characters’ determination in fighting to the death to save their land. I cannot call this a sequel since the writers were clever to create a story that paralleled the story from the previous movie, 300. Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom, Gangster Squad) played Greek General Themistokles. With the Persian King Xerxes, played by Rodrigo Santoro (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I Love You Phillip Morris), moving forward in his conquest for all of Greece; Themistokles would have to take his battle to the sea against the king’s massive navy led by skilled commander Artemisia, played by Eva Green (Dark Shadows, Casino Royale). It would take cunning, strategy and most of all courage to try and defeat the Persian forces that outnumbered Themistokles’ fighters. This movie played out like a dramatic opera; there were a multitude of heroic speeches, gruesome fights and passionate pleas. When I said gruesome I meant it because there was so much blood being spilled throughout the entire film that the characters even mentioned they would turn the ocean into a sea of red. It would be hard to talk about the acting since the whole movie had a graphic novel, computer game look to it; the characters were more cartoonish to me. I thought Eva was impressive with her fighting skills, finding it a nice twist to have a female badass. Playing the Spartan Queen Gorgo, I wished Lena Headey (The Purge, Game of Thrones-TV) had more screen time since her character had more dimension to me. This bloody war film started to become repetitive with its cycle of speeches and battles. Do not consider this movie as a history lesson; it was just fun to watch on the big screen. Also, no one could fault the actors for their dedication in contributing to this movie’s sharp look. There were multiple scenes with blood and violence throughout the film.
2 1/3 stars