I DID NOT HAVE AN OPINION one way or the other about the groom; I just thought it was not a good idea for him to marry my friend. He seemed to be nice as far as I could tell in literally the three minutes we spoke before the wedding ceremony. My friend had been in a four-year relationship that ended with a lot of heartbreak and sadness. She was just getting her life back in order when she met this man and the next thing I heard was they were planning on getting married. As far as I knew they had only known each other for a few months before deciding to get married; I do not know which one pushed the idea first. My reason for feeling this wedding would be a bad idea was based on my observations that my friend did not complete the grieving process from her last relationship. It seemed as if this man was being used as a distraction to coverup the sadness and pain. I know everyone falls in love at a different pace and maybe I am just being a pessimist; but the whole proposal and wedding thing came up suddenly without anyone being clued into it. I had to wonder if the groom had any knowledge about my friend’s recent breakup. It would be sad if they were marrying for the wrong reasons. THEIR WEDDING WOULD NOT BE THE first one that was based on questionable motivations that I would attend. I knew a man who had served in the military. When he returned home there was something different about him. With him being older and the two of us not having much contact, it was hard for me to pinpoint what had changed in him; I only knew he was not the same. After some time being at home, he started dating a woman. He took his time before introducing her around; but once he did, several of us questioned the relationship. It appeared as if she was making all the decisions in their relationship. He went along with everything she said. It was as if he no longer had an opinion about anything, letting her decide the where, when, what and how to every situation. Now if he was like that prior to their meeting, I would not question it; however, it was such a stark contrast to what I knew about him that I felt something was not “right.” I continued to feel that way even when she announced they were getting married. Maybe it would work out for them; if love is present one never knows what could happen. Just see for yourself in this dramatic romantic comedy. WITH THE PROSPECT OF BEING DEPORTED looming over her head, the only thing that popped into Margaret Tate’s, played by Sandra Bullock (The Heat, Ocean’s Eight) mind was to find someone she could marry. It did not matter what they had to say about it. With Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise, Safe House) as Andrew Paxton, Mary Steenburgen (Last Vegas, Powder) as Grace Paxton, Craig T. Nelson (The Family Stone, Book Club) as Joe Paxton and Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show-TV, Golden Girls-TV) as Grandma Annie; this film festival winner survived its generic script because of the cast. The chemistry between Sandra and Ryan was not only believable, but it came with extra doses of snarkiness and pinpoint comedic timing. Add in Betty White and that was all that was necessary for me to stay interested in this film. There were a couple of times where I chuckled, and I did enjoy the outdoor scenery. Too bad the script was predictable because with this cast the writers could have included a few twists and turns to give the story a new flavor. Despite these shortcomings, it was fun to sit through and watch this movie.
2 ½ stars
THE SILENCE WAS PROMINENT ENOUGH FOR me to notice as soon as I walked into the secured area. Why it was a surprise for me was because the area was an airline’s reward members club at the airport. I had a guest pass; so, I was curious to finally see what was so special about these clubs I have seen at many airports. After my pass was scanned by an airline employee, I took the escalator up to the lounge. With barely an audible sound, I felt I was transported to a futuristic world when I entered the place. There were passengers everywhere, sitting in comfy chairs separated periodically by end tables with small lamps. As far as I could see, everyone was plugged into their electronic devices. Some people were attached to theirs with earbuds or headphones, while others had no connection except their locked eyes on the screen. It was a weird sight for me; I could not tell if I was in a futuristic call center or a laboratory. No one was conversing with anyone else. Each person was a singular entity, focused only on their small space, oblivious to anything around them. IT WAS OBVIOUS TO ME WHICH individuals were playing games, for they were the ones with the most physical movement. Out of this group I assumed the ones that were agitated were probably playing some type of battle game or obstacle course. It was funny to me because at the other end of the spectrum there were those who were quietly typing away on their screens, with the slightest of motion. There was no interaction taking place in the real world. Now I hope I am not being judgmental; but as I looked around, I imagined what the room would look like if each passenger’s electronic game or app came to life. How many people would be embarrassed; or on the other hand, how many would be fascinated with someone else’s game? Before electronic devices, there were arcade games. Placed in bars, restaurants and a variety of public places; these devices tended to attract people to come gather by them. I remember when a player was on a hot streak, he/she would draw a crowd to cheer them on. Honestly, it was a time where people engaged more with each other. There was audible communication; now there is this virtual world that individuals can customize and delve into without any outside human interaction. Think about what if those two worlds of reality and fantasy came together. If you want to see one possibility then this action, adventure comedy can show you. TRAVELING TO THE OFFICE OF HIS deceased father to gather any personal belongings Tim Goodman, played by Justice Smith (Paper Towns, Every Day), found one item that was alive; his Dad’s personal Pokemon. What was more of a shock was the fact he could understand this Pokemon named Detective Pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Deadpool franchise). With Bill Nighy (The Bookshop, About Time) as Howard Clifford, Ken Watanabe (Inception, Godzilla) as Lieutenant Hide Yoshida and Chris Geere (After Earth, You’re the Worse-TV); I must tell you I have had no dealings with the Pokemon game or its characters. Despite that I was pleasantly surprised with my level of enjoyment for this picture. Ryan seems to be the go-to person when it comes to quick sarcastic remarks and he does a wonderful job here. The creativity of fantasy CGI characters mixing with humans is nothing new; however, the script was compelling enough to draw the viewer in for the ride. Since I do not know if the Pokemon world has some dark places, this story was kept on a consistent goofy, fun level with a few thrills. Of course, fans will enjoy this film more than other viewers; but as a person unfamiliar with the game, I can see why this game has attracted such a large fan base.
2 ½ stars
THE ANNOUNCER STATED WITH CERTAINTY THEY were the perfect match. The couple had just been married in what appeared to be a storybook setting; which only flavored the comment into a cliché. Doesn’t everyone who ventures into matrimony feel they found the perfect one to marry? I may not believe someone can be perfect; but I absolutely feel they can perfectly fit with their mate to make the perfect union. Some people find their perfect match and some settle for the best available. I know a few couples who work well together for the most part, but they periodically encounter speed bumps in their growth together. Sad to say but I knew a couple of people who because of their low self-esteem settled with individuals that were not good matches for them. They seemed more like roommates than partners in life; they did very few things together because they did not have a lot of common interests. Not that it should define the relationship; heck, I feel it is important that 2 people coming together should be able to maintain their individual interests. All I am saying is that they also should be able to enjoy some things together. PERFECT MATCHES CAN ALSO PERTAIN TO a person and their profession. How many times have you heard someone say they found the perfect job. Oh, well maybe that is not the best example; I do not know a lot of people who feel they are working at their dream job. Though there are athletes who were gifted in the sport they participated in. Now some people have an aptitude for a particular skill; let us say working with numbers. They may be a whiz at accounting or financing; however, the job may not be best suited for them. What I mean is they may work best individually but in a group setting or under micro-management they may not be the most proficient. Think about it; out of all the options, some would say obstacles, in our path the fact someone can feel as if they have met the perfect match or job really is close to a miracle. In the case of this comedic, action adventure I firmly believe the main actor has found the perfect role to play. Anything he does after this character has a chance of paling in comparison. FOR ALL HIS FOUL-MOUTHED comments, bravado and inappropriate remarks; no one would believe he would be concerned about the welfare of a young child. Why then did he feel the need to assemble a team of super heroes? With Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal, Buried) reprising his role as Wade Wilson/Deadpool, Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War, The Brave) as Nathan Summers/Cable), Morena Baccarin (Back in the Day, The Flash-TV) as Vanessa, Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Shopping) as Russell and Zazie Beetz (Finding Her, Atlanta-TV) as Domino; Ryan has created the perfect role for himself. Just like the first one, this film was slammed with satire, strong language, humor and an abundance of action scenes. I did find the story a bit typical; but Ryan kept his twisted, humorous comments flying throughout his dialog. One needed to pay attention because there nearly was a constant stream of comments that were relevant, topical, political and pretty much any other adjective you wish to add. The action scenes were exciting and I liked the special effects. On the downside there was less surprise for me with this sequel simply because I experienced most of these reactions when I saw the original movie. Also, I think the amount of action scenes with this one nearly bordered on becoming monotonous. There is no denying Ryan will have a challenge doing a different character. He is now permantely married to this character Deadpool; he has found his perfect match. ALERT: please remember to read the opening credits and there were 2 extra scenes during the ending credits.
3 ¼ stars
WE HAD BEEN friends for several years. Through that time we had gotten closer, each of us did not use a filter when talking about personal stuff. Our friendship was evolving, though it took a big adjustment when she started dating someone who quickly became her main focus. I was not the only one who noticed the shift; our mutual group of friends noticed her dating relationship was turning serious. As with any relationship time spent with friends took place with less frequency; it was understandable as we all knew time was needed to lay the groundwork to establish a strong bond between the couple. After a few years our friend became engaged and the two of them began laying out plans to begin their life together as a married couple. AFTER THEY WERE married they planted roots in a suburb not too far away from all of us; however, spending time together with them took place less and less often. As the years progressed I started to lose contact with a few of the friends since I moved to a different location. However I was still privy to news through the “grapevine.” I do not remember exactly how it came down, but at some point I heard derogatory remarks were made about me by this married friend. My feelings were hurt and I became angry to the point where I did not what to have any interaction with this couple. Now in hindsight I did not know if they actually meant what was told to me or if they really even said such a thing. Because I was angry I did not care; as far as I was concerned I did not want to have any part of them. This was the way I handled things in the past when I got angry. Long story short, this couple opened up a store that a couple of my friends told me was doing a thriving business. I did not care since I planned never to step foot into their place. After seeing this action comedy I did wonder if I made the right decision. AS A TOP bodyguard Michael Bryce, played by Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Woman in Gold), had to deal with all kinds of clients. Having fallen on hard times he never imagined he would have to protect the man who tried to kill him. Also starring Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight, Kong: Skull Island) as Darius Kincaid, Gary Oldman (The Space Between Us, The Dark Knight franchise) as Vladislav Dukhovich, Elodie Yung (Gods of Egypt, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Amelia Roussel and Salma Hayek (Beatriz at Dinner, Some Kind of Beautiful) as Sonia Kincaid; the story for this film was decent enough and the cast did a good job of handling the script. Ryan’s character was a light version of his Deadpool one in my opinion. As for Samuel L. Jackson this was one of his typical performances; however, for this character it worked. The highlight for me was Salma Hayek, she was the surprise with what the writers had given her to say. Truthfully there really was nothing special about this picture; there were many scenes with blood and violence. The story was not unique and for the most part it was predictable. At one point I felt like I was just watching a string of nonsensical scenes. I wondered at the end of the movie if I had made the right decision to use my free movie pass for this film. There was one outtake scene in the middle of the credits.
YEARS of reading and watching science fiction books and movies may be the reason why I believe there could be other life forms in the universe. Even if I was not a fan of the fantasy/science fiction genre, I was always open to the possibility we humans were not alone. I could never be convinced that out of the entire universe the planet Earth was the only place that could sustain life. One of the arguments I have heard is our planet is the only one that can sustain oxygen breathing beings; but I would counter that proposal by questioning the logic of oxygen being the only element that can support life. What if an alien species’ anatomy only needed carbon monoxide to exist? Unless they come to us I understand there is no way to prove this thought, since I do not know if we will ever evolve to a point where we will have the ability to deconstruct and rematerialize on another world via a transporting device or be able to travel in a spaceship at warp speed. DURING my studies in college I had a literature course that covered several genres of fiction, including science fiction. For my midterm project I used several rolls of infrared film along with close-up camera lenses to create a photo album that I claimed was proof of foreign existence. The things I photographed represented places we had read about in our required reading list. Our instructor had us put our projects on display around the lecture hall and each of us had to explain what we had done. After we each gave our talks, the students were allowed to walk around and study each item before voting on their favorite in a secret ballot. It turned out not only did I get an “A” on my midterm project but my alien photo album was voted the favorite. From some of the comments I received the majority of my classmates loved how I had shown both friendly and non-friendly aliens. Hopefully I am only right about the good aliens. WORKING in precise maneuvers six astronauts must retrieve a satellite returning from Mars that might contain proof there may be life existing on another planet. This science fiction thriller had some intense, exciting scenes right from the start. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals, Prisoners) as David Johnson, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Proposal) as Rory Adams, Hiroyuki Sanada (47 Ronin, The Wolverine) as Sho Murakami and Rebecca Ferguson (The Girl on the Train, Florence Foster Jenkins) as Miranda North; this horror film had some icky scenes that were hard to watch, involving blood and violence. I thought the sets and special effects were cool, while the actors did their job well. The idea of the story was fine; however, I felt the writers needed to take a different angle because as I sat watching this film I kept thinking about the movie Alien. I did not find much different in this movie though I did enjoy the surprise twists. What I did enjoy, maybe enjoy is not the right word, was the way the writers depicted life and that is all I can say about it. If you do not believe there may be extraterrestrial life, you may not be anxious to see this film. Based on my belief system, maybe you should see it.
2 1/3 stars
It suddenly appears from what seems to be its own volition and surprises you. Like an air bubble that has suddenly risen up to disturb the still surface of a pool of water, the thought bursts into your consciousness where you have to stop and wonder where it came from. I do not know about you but this happens to me on a consistent basis. I could be walking or driving along and suddenly some random thought pops into my head that at least has some type of connection to something in my life; but it can be so weird at times. There are things I can remember from when I was an infant; however, I could tell myself I have to do something as soon as I am done with what I am doing and as soon as I walk out of the room the thought goes poof, disappearing from my mind. The brain is both bizarre and miraculous at the same time. I have a friend who works in the medical field. You would not believe the things I hear that have to do with the brain; some of them would make good science fiction stories. To this day I remember watching a computer screen as the image of a patient’s brain, who had just suffered a stroke, began to appear. It was fascinating to watch as I could see where the blood was pooling inside of them. It was that experience and its aftermath that caused me to see the human brain in a different light. The same thing took place for me when I watched this crime drama. WHEN agent Bill Pope, played by Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Proposal), was killed his boss Quaker Wells, played by Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight franchise, Paranoia), became desperate enough to see if the dead agent’s memories could be taken out of his head. This action film also starred Kevin Costner (Black or White, The Untouchables) as Jericho Stewart, Tommy Lee Jones (The Homesman, Hope Springs) as Dr. Franks and Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious franchise, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) as Jill Pope. As you can see a well qualified cast was assembled for this picture. Though the basis of the script had a science fiction slant to it, I was willing to go along and believe the story. I enjoyed the way Kevin played his character and was a bit surprised to see him so intense in the action scenes, though it could easily have been a body double. But this is what annoyed me about this movie; if you want me to believe the story than follow through with it. When one character’s house with elaborate security was broken into, tell me how the house was broken into again later in the story. They didn’t change the pass code? C’mon, this among other issues ruined the story for me. Congratulations to the person who came up with the idea for this story, but then why make it predictable in a scatterbrained way?
1 ¾ stars
Superheroes were good and nice individuals when I was growing up. I was exposed to a couple of them at a young age. There was the camp counselor who lifted this bully off of me by grabbing their pants’ belt, using only one arm. It looked just like something I had seen on my Saturday morning cartoon shows. I remember a friend’s parent donated new school supplies for our class one year. When I was doing charity work for a health organization I encountered a score of superheroes who did so much to make their patients’ lives comfortable. In fact, if I think about it I would say some lottery winners who donate part of their winnings to charitable organizations could be considered superheroes. As far as I’m concerned superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. What they have in common is kindness and thoughtfulness. The thing you have to be careful about is the false ones; the ones that pretend to be doing a good deed, but have an ulterior motive for personal gain. There was this officer of an organization I encountered some time back. On the surface they came across as a caring, empathic person. However, their motivation was to get rich, so everything they did came with a price. All I have described so far did not prepare me for what I would find in this action movie. I never saw or heard of Deadpool before; but based on the crowd that showed up before me at the theater, I must be in the minority. WHEN a medical procedure did not turn out the way he expected Wade, played by Ryan Reynolds (Woman in Gold, The Proposal), had only one goal in mind, to get revenge against the people who promised they could cure him. This superhero adventure comedy was not your typical one; it was rated R for a reason. So why in the world were there families in the audience with their young children? Excuse my bluntness but those adults were there to satisfy their needs first before thinking about their children’s welfare. The script was filled with foul and hard language besides the inclusion of sexual scenes. With that off my chest now, I can say I was laughing through this fantasy film. The jokes and barbs were fast and furious. Those of you who may not be up on pop culture may not get all the humor in this picture. Ryan was perfect with the role; I understand this film was a decade long labor of love for him to get to the big screen. The script was straightforward; this was a revenge story. Some viewers may tire of the constant barrage of jokes and remarks; it pretty much was a main character of its own. Since I was not familiar with the character Deadpool, I felt I was missing something about the story. At the moment I do not know if Deadpool is a true hero. There was blood and violence throughout the film.
I do not know if everyone feels it at the same time or if they have a sense of it at all. When one is able to experience that feeling of being invincible or powerful, it can be intoxicating. For me it happened when I worked with a personal trainer for a weightlifting regime. It was surreal for me because not only had I never felt comfortable in my own skin prior, I now was working out among my peers without judgements. The aerobic classes I taught took on a new level of intensity. Some time later a subtle reality check began to settle into my consciousness. I started to become aware of how my body was reacting to the high jumps and kicks, so I added more low impact options. At some point I started to notice any scratches or scrapes on my skin took longer to heal; it appeared as if my skin would not let go of these cuts, keeping the scab’s impressions on my less taut skin like shadows. As time went on I realized I could not lift the same amount of weights I used to, nor run as fast on the treadmill. Maybe because one of the fitness centers I taught at was affiliated with a hospital, but I accepted it as a part of the aging process. Seeing heart and stroke patients struggling along the track or on a weight machine kept things in perspective. Though I have to say there were times I thought it would be wonderful if we could trade-in our bodies for a fresh one. This science fiction film will show you one way it can be done. WITH disease consuming his body wealthy real estate tycoon Damian, played by Ben Kingsley (Shutter Island, Hugo), discovered there was a way he could beat the illness and continue to live. He could trade-in for a new body, but how would his mind handle it? The idea for this story offered a multitude of possibilities on where the story could go. With Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal, Buried) as a young Damian and Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game, Match Point) as Albright, I enjoyed the beginning of this mystery movie. Unfortunately the story took an odd turn and lost its way; I was not sure if this film wanted to be a love story, action movie or suspense thriller. It did not take long for me to lose interest and was able to figure out what was going to happen. Out of the cast I would have preferred more scenes with Ben, but I did enjoy watching Ryan as he tried to convince people of his true identity. At first glance this film looked like a fresh take on a the aging process, but it did not have much life to it.
As I came through the front door I immediately noticed the dead cigarette butt dangling on the edge of the cedar chest. No one smoked in the house. At one time the cigarette was lit because there now was a deep ashen scar exposing the unfinished wood beneath the polished surface. My eyes were drawn from the cigarette butt to the hall closet with its mirrored door gaping open. Inside the clothes were disheveled and piled up on the floor; there were several wire and wooden hangers dangling naked from the clothes rod. These two things did not connect together in my brain right away; however, as I walked into the bedroom it all made sense. A burglar had broken into the house and stole some clothing, jewelry and a small television. I was in shock as all of this sunk in and I realized how fortunate I was that the cigarette did not start a fire, destroying not only the apartment but the others in the building. As I moved from room to room an awful feeling came over me; I felt so violated and vulnerable. There was such a sense of dread, feeling unsafe in my own home; it weighed heavily as I imagined this stranger walking through the house not realizing the sentimental significance to items, let alone the things I needed like clothing. At least I had no idea who it was; can you imagine if I was home when the burglar broke in and took what they wanted for themselves? MARIA Altmann, played by Helen Mirren (The Queen, The Debt), had only her memories when she fled Nazi occupied Austria. Making a life for herself in the United States, it was not until her sister’s death that Maria thought about the things that were taken away from her and her family so many years ago. One of the objects dear to her was a portrait of her aunt, painted by Gustav Klimt. Though it was hanging in an Austrian museum, she felt it belonged with her. Based on a true story, I enjoyed the way this drama portrayed the present and past together. The key in making it all work fell upon Helen and Tatiana Maslany (The Vow, Eastern Promises) who played the young Maria. I thought Max Irons (The Host, Red Riding Hood) who played Fritz, young Maria’s husband, was a strong asset too. Ryan Reynolds (The Voices, Green Lantern) as lawyer Randol Schoenberg was better than I have previously seen him but not on the same level as Helen. The script may have been predictable but I did not mind because I was fascinated with the “story behind the story” aspect to this drama. Granted my theft cannot compare to Maria’s but I felt a solid connection to this movie.
I did not learn about the concept of “having a conscience” until I saw a cartoon where an angel was sitting on the left shoulder and a devil on the right one of a talking duck. The two were whispering back and forth into the duck’s ear, telling the animal what it should do. I was confused though I laughed at the imagery appearing above them anytime they spoke. After asking many questions with a multitude of examples I started to understand what it meant to have a conscience. Throughout the years I have seen more than my share of individuals who must have listened to their conscience’s negative thoughts. I know I am not alone in this regard; simply watching the newscasts, one can see people from all over the world who act out from the darkness inside of them. Now do not get me wrong, I am certainly no angel and a few of my friends can tell you about times where my dark side took over. When a driver cuts me off you better believe I may imagine I’m ramming their car with mine or they run out of gas or maybe their car’s engine dies, forcing them to use the barrier wall to stop their vehicle. However, that is as far as it goes, it is a fantasy. I may hear my dark side telling me what to do but I never act on it. And that is the difference; what makes some people act out their dark side? RYAN Reynolds (Buried, Safe House) played Jerry, an affable factory worker who found himself attracted to coworker Fiona, played by Gemma Arterton (Unfinished Song, Quantum of Solace). However, Jerry’s talking pets kept telling him to kill her. This film festival winning crime thriller was a real dark comedy. I thought Ryan was excellent in this role, playing this kind and friendly fellow who had a dark side. The cast was so much fun, which also included Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods, Cake) as Lisa and Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook) as Dr. Warren. Let me add the talking pets had some wicked fun lines. The set pieces really helped this comedy with Jerry working at a bathtub factory and living above a bowling alley. There were some scenes that seemed familiar to me as if I had already seen them in other movies and at one point I was not sure if the director was purposely trying to create some campiness or it was part of the script. Either way I was surprised I enjoyed this film despite the violence and bloodshed. I think you will remain with happy thoughts after viewing this film instead of listening to your dark side.
2 2/3 stars