THEY knew it was one of my favorite musicals which made them think of me. A relative of theirs was performing in a local, community production; so they offered me the extra ticket in their possession. I am a supporter of the arts, enjoying a variety of venues available all over my city. Normally I would jump at the chance to attend a staged production; however, when it comes to certain plays or musicals I tend to be more cautious. The reason is because those few productions that are my all-time favorites I pretty much have committed to memory; every note, dance move and set design. Going to see anything less than a spectacular production would disappoint me. Do not get me wrong, I have tried many times. I could be sitting on an old rickety, folding chair in some small community center’s space pretending to be an auditorium and if everything is on point I am over the moon with joyous excitement. However if an errant musical note is played or a singer is off pitch it ruins the entire experience for me. ULTIMATELY it is a trade-off I suppose; if a person is willing to gamble and hope for the best they will go for it. But I have a question for you; let us say strawberries are one of your favorite things to eat. You eat them fresh from the garden as well as using them in your baking and making of smoothies. How satisfied would you be to eat something that uses artificial flavoring to make it taste like strawberry? If I had a choice between homemade chocolate chip cookies or store bought packaged ones, I would always go to the homemade ones first. I am not knocking the manufactured ones; heaven knows I have never turned down any type of chocolate chip cookie, but there are just times where I want the real thing. I could say the same thing about this action crime thriller. MEETING at an abandoned warehouse a group of people came together to make a deal to buy and sell guns. It would have helped if some of them had prior training on how to shoot a gun. This film festival winner was executive produced by Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island, The Departed). Starring Brie Larson (Room, The Spectacular Now) as Justine, Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger, The Social Network) as Ord, Cillian Murphy (Inception, In the Heart of the Sea) as Chris and Sharito Copley (District 9, Maleficent) as Vernon; I thought with this much talent the story would have been interesting to watch. The film had a 70s retro look which was fun. As the movie started it appeared there was going to be a sense of mystery to the story. Little did I realize the only mystery was why the movie studio allowed the script to remain in its present form. Essentially if it was not, it sure felt like over ½ of this film was one big shootout. Most of the dialog contained slang words; I was so bored I wanted all of the characters to kill each other and end the picture. If the writers were trying to do a parody on gun violence it was lost on me. And if they were hoping to create an homage to Martin Scorsese, the writers and director failed in my opinion. This was a pseudo action thriller filled with violence and strong language. You have been warned.
1 ¾ stars
From the era where the video game Pong appeared to current times, video games have technically advanced by light years. I like most kids my age was swept up into this new form of entertainment, acquiring and trading game cartridges that my friends and I would play on our television screens. My favorite types of games were either based in science fiction or brain teasers. I was always excited to get a new space type of game where I would have to defend earth from hostile alien beings. With these types of games I did not have a problem shooting a ray gun or a cannon blaster. However, if a game used realistic guns in a real type of setting I was not a fan of the game. I did not care to pretend I was shooting humans in a war or criminal setting. As a little boy I loved playing with toy soldiers in battles; but as an adult I had no desire to put myself in a realistic fighting scenario. Now here is an interesting thought: do you think there is any correlation between violent video games and an increase in actual violence among us? It is not something I have actually thought about much until I saw this action movie. I have to tell you I always thought the more violence a person is exposed to the more numb they become to it. Even at the health clubs I chose not to teach any type of combat classes due to my beliefs. I wonder if this is why I felt I was not best suited to watch this adventure science fiction film. WAKING from unconsciousness with no memories, to a strange woman telling him she knows him, Henry had to quickly decide if he should believe her when she was kidnapped. This film festival winner had a unique idea by filming the entire picture through Henry’s eyes. This meant there was a lot of shaky and quick jerky looking scenes. By a lot I mean every scene. With a cast that included Sharito Copley (District 9, Chappie) as Jimmy, Danila Kozlovsky (Vampire Academy, The Spy) as Akan and Tim Roth (The Incredible Hulk, Reservoir Dogs) as Henry’s father; I cannot honestly say I enjoyed the acting because there really was no story. The little story there was made no sense to me. This entire film simply was a video game on a big screen, but none of the viewers could play it. I give the movie studio credit for trying such a novel approach to filming; however, sitting in my seat watching shooting and violence the entire time was extremely boring. Hopefully I am not stereotyping but the small predominantly male crowd sitting in the theater appeared to be gamers. If this is the future of both video games and movies I do not think I will be able to handle it. I would rather stick with those old games like Pong or Tetris.
1 1/2 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