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Flash Movie Review: The Shack

FROM my experiences I know every person treats religion differently. I also am aware of the differences between someone who is religious compared to a person who is spiritual. Some years ago I knew a man who went to temple every day to pray. He followed his religion’s customs and traditions fully, handing them down to his children. The interesting thing was after he died his wife stopped following the rituals; not totally but she became more relaxed about the structure shall we say. I know another person who partakes in all the customs of her religion, but her actions are not of a religious person. Just because you attend services and donate money to charity does not automatically make one religious. In other words you have to practice what you preach. This person discriminates against a variety of minorities; I am talking blatantly speaks out against them. I just sit and wonder how they can justify their actions based on how much they talk about their religious participation.     THOUGH I understand the circumstances were devastating for the individual I still find it curious when they suddenly become religious. I have experienced this myself on some level at a time when I felt there was no hope of me coming out unscathed. It took place one of the times I was being chased by a group of bullies after school. Hiding behind a couple of garbage cans on the back porch of an apartment building, I could hear them below me. They must have been looking up at the porches of the 4 storied building before running up the stairs to only check on the top floor they could not fully see from the alley. I remember praying to God to keep me hidden from them until they came down the stairway and were long gone. Due to this experience I have gained insight or maybe it is sensitivity to the actions taken by someone experiencing tragedy, like the family in this inspirational fantasy drama.    DEEP into depression from a tragic event Mack Phillips, played by Sam Worthington (Clash of the Titans franchise, Avatar), one day received a letter in his box without a postmark. It was from someone he stopped believing in. Based on the bestselling book this fantasy movie also starred Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Help) as Papa, Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire, Looking for Grace) as Nan Phillips and Tim McGraw (The Blind Side, Country Strong) as Willie. I appreciated the idea behind this film’s story and felt the cast was certainly capable to bring the story to life. My issue lies with the director; the pacing was slow to the point I felt the story was dragging. Add in the script being stacked in favor of manipulating the viewers’ emotions to shed tears, I did not find this a pleasant movie watching experience. If the story would have been told in a more even handed way, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions, I feel the film would have been better all around. Sitting next to me through this picture were a couple of friends who are more religious than me. Asking them what they thought, they felt the same way I did about the movie. The story was a sad one that did not give them a sense of comfort due to the poor writing and direction.

 

2 ¼ stars    

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: Kidnapping Mr. Heineken

She hung in the air without any wires or cables attached to her for an unimaginable long time. I stopped what I was doing to stare in amazement as she twisted and flipped her body around like an aerialist in a circus. When she finally landed on the ground, her two feet smacking the forgiving floor like suction cups, she raised her arms up in the air to a roar of applause. The newscasters were agitated with excitement as they repeated the words, “She did it! She did it!” They used her name to describe the move she had just performed because it was a brand new feat that no one had ever performed before. I happened to be channel surfing on the television and came upon her performance during a gymnastics competition. It was pretty spectacular I have to say and now anyone who uses that move in their gymnastics routine will always have it referred to as her move. It brought back a memory I had of the ice skater Dorothy Hamill when she first performed her signature move that is now and forever called the Hamill Camel. When I first got into aerobics I had dreams of branding my style because I used to choreograph every single move to the music I played in class. I thought it would be so cool to be known for something I was the first to do.    BASED on a true story Cor Van Hout, Willem Holleeder and Jan “Cat” Boellard; played by Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas, One Day), Sam Worthington (Cake, Sabotage) and Ryan Kwanten (True Blood-TV, Mystery Road); decided they were going to do something that would change their lives forever. They were going to kidnap and hold for ransom Alfred “Freddy” Heineken, played by Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock, The Wolfman), the head of the Heineken beer empire. No kidnapers had ever asked for such an astronomical amount of money before. This action, crime drama depicted the inside doings of this unbelievable plan. The best thing about this movie was Anthony Hopkins, though the writers did not give him much to do. I thought the rest of the cast was okay but on a whole the story lacked intensity, so I never felt connected to the characters. Another reason I may have not been drawn totally into this film was seeing Anthony’s character, this incredibly wealthy individual, not having any security measures in place. Maybe I am paranoid, but someone with that type of wealth cannot just live like an average person on the street I would think. As for the action scenes they had some excitement but I found the editing to be choppy. Maybe one was supposed to have a couple of beers before seeing this film.

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Cake

There are two types of trauma that affect our body, physical and emotional. Each one has its own unique ramifications on how they are handled. When a bone gets broken in the body, there are ways it gets repaired which usually are visible to everyone as it slowly heals. I remember as a kid when someone would get their arm or leg in a cast it was like a badge of honor. They would have all their friends sign the cast and the goofier the message the better. You would have thought I had found the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when I had found at the local discount store a pen that had gold ink. I thought it was the coolest thing as I would print my messages out in extra large letters. As for emotional trauma, the body usually handles it in such a way that a bystander may not even know something is going on. Emotional trauma cannot only last longer in a person it can do more damage. It can feel as if the person has been trapped in a dilapidated house with unusable windows, where pieces or chunks of wall are dropping on them periodically as a reminder of their pain.    JENNIFER Aniston (We’re the Millers, The Bounty Hunter) played lawyer Claire Bennett, a woman suffering with severe pain. When Nina Collins, played by Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Into the Woods), a member from Claire’s chronic pain support group committed suicide, Claire began an unusual fixation on Nina’s former life and the life of her widower Roy, played by Sam Worthington (Avatar, Man on a Ledge). This film festival winning drama was all about Jennifer. I have to give her credit for stretching her acting skills to undertake this role. She was excellent to the point that there were times I was cringing along with her as she dealt with her pain. The relationship she had with her housekeeper Silvana, played by Adriana Barraza (Thor, Drag Me to Hell), was especially interesting to watch throughout the film. With Jennifer doing such a good job of acting, it was disappointing the script was not stronger to support her. There were parts of the story that were flat. Also, I do not think it helped having Jennifer’s back story getting revealed in a piecemeal way; some viewers would find it annoying. I think if the writers would not have kept this story in its simplified form it would have been more interesting overall. Based on her performance it was apparent Jennifer was tapping into some traumatic memories, but I am not sure movie goers would feel her pain.

 

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Sabotage

The amount of years I have lived so far is not a true measure of how I feel or act. One’s age never meant anything to me except a reference point for when they were born. I have never been one to judge a person’s actions based on their age; it is a meaningless point to me. The only one I judge is myself, as I notice the transitions between my mind and body. On a surface level, I am not going to walk around with my pants hanging low to reveal my underwear clad backside; however, I do not care if someone else wants to do it. Sure I wish I could stay up late at night like I used to do (think how much more I could get done), but my body now requires a certain amount of daily sleep if it wants to function in a lucid, steady way. I will say I have always been a big proponent of periodically letting your inner child out to play. When it comes to actors I understand why they want to maintain their youthfulness as they try to keep alive the facade that made them popular. I hope this does not come across as judgmental but when I see a celebrity trying to portray the illusion they maintained 20-30 years ago I feel sadness for them; even more so when they have simple physical stunts that are being handled by their very obvious stunt doubles. It is somewhat ironic that this very complaint I have had about his recent movies was not the case in this action drama. Arnold Schwarzeneggar (Batman & Robin,The Last Stand) played John “Breacher” Wharton, the head of a top level DEA task force. After bringing down a drug cartel’s safe house, the members of John’s group were systematically being brought down one at a time, as if someone was watching their every move. Based on its opening weekend box office receipts it appears this will be another disappointment for Arnold. Funny, I did not mind Arnold in this role; his character was older and more mature. Yes there was plenty of bloody violence and fighting but Arnold was not the focus. He shared the screen with among others, Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike, True Blood-TV) as Joe “Grinder” Phillips and Sam Worthington (Avatar, Man on a Ledge) as James “Monster” Murray. This crime film fails due to the script. There was so little story about the characters that I was not invested in their well-being. The movie was a series of agents being hunted and violently killed. However, the element of mystery was what kept my interest going in the story. I just hope the poor ticket sales won’t have Arnold thinking he needs to resurrect himself and say to us, “I’ll be back.”

 

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Wrath of the Titans

This is today’s lesson: size does not matter, when it comes to making an evil character. Just because a character is the largest one on the screen doesn’t make them the meanest or scariest. The character I am referring to is Kronos, father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. Though the studio had the key pieces to make a blockbuster of this movie, they did not follow through in taking the parts and expanding on them. The perfect example was the Kronos character.  After draining the power from Zeus, played by Liam Neeson (Taken, The Grey), the audience was led to believe this power would give Kronos the energy to break free and destroy the world. At least that is what Hades, played by Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter franchise, The English Patient) was telling us after he imprisoned his brother Zeus in the underworld. Talk about your family dysfunction. The hero coming to save Zeus was his son Perseus, played by Sam Worthington (Avatar, The Debt). I give credit to Sam, for his role appeared to be a truly physical one as he was being beaten and thrown around. As I mentioned, the pieces were all here: from the love interest, to family betrayal, to battle scenes, to the love between a father and son. However, the story was not able to glue these parts together and create some excitement. It was not like I was totally bored with this movie; there was some good special effects that entertained me. But at one point of the movie I did wish they would have brought back the Kraken and let it destroy everyone in the movie, so there would not be any further sequels.

 

2 stars

 

 

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