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Flash Movie Review: A Monster Calls

SHE/HE is a special kind of friend. Sure he/she can be a confidant, a buddy and a protector; but what makes this type of friend special is the fact you are her/his only friend. Plus, you are the only one who can see this friend. I had such a friend who was everything I described above; he looked almost identical to me except he was thinner and incredibly strong. He was more than a protector; he was a vigilante. Right after an altercation, where I was on the receiving end of some form of violence/bullying, my friend would appear and take swift action against the perpetrators. If I was punched, my friend was ruthless with the revenge he would administer. No one around would even know what was taking place as my friend’s fists would be pummeling the bodies of the people who attacked me. Usually in less than a minute my friend would have knocked each attacker unconscious, battered and bloody.   THERE were some individuals who had a similar friend to mine, but theirs was more of a sounding board for any dilemma the person was pondering. I guess you could say they were created to be the person’s conscious who would play the saint role as well as devil’s advocate. These friends provide a valuable service. Speaking for myself my friend did not provide much consoling for me. I knew I was not going to meet violence with actual violence; it was not part of my makeup, plus I knew I would never win. My friend satisfied the desire/need to make a stand and show the bullies I was not passively sitting by and letting them have their way with me. The anger inside of me was funneled into my friend who in his world could get away with everything and pay no consequences. If you would like to see an example then feel free to watch this dramatic fantasy film.   WHILE his mother, played by Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Inferno), was fighting a fatal disease and a bully was picking on him at school Conor, played by Lewis MacDougall (Pan), one day was visited by a monstrous talking tree who had a story to tell him. This film festival winning movie had a wonderful mix of special effects that fit in well with the actors’ scenes; it created a stylish visual narrative. With Sigourney Weaver (The Cold Light of Day, Alien franchise) as the grandmother and Toby Kebbell (Ben-Hur, Fantastic Four) as the Dad, I have to say all the actors were on their “A” game. Lewis was extra special with his role in my opinion. The story was interesting to me because there was one part that was dealing with terminal illness, another part that was focusing on bullying and lastly the fantasy of the talking tree monster. This is not a film for young children; there were many theater patrons at my showing with tears in their eyes due to the heavy subject matter. As a coming of age story this film provided a different spin on it and as a person who had a special friend, I totally identified with Conor’s monster.

 

3 stars  

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Chappie

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

Flash Movie Review: Exodus: Gods and Kings

Taken out from a religious context what does the phrase, “Let my people go,” bring to mind? For me it is Charlton Heston playing Moses in the film, The Ten Commandments. I was too young to understand everything about the movie, but several of its iconic scenes have been etched inside of my brain. It would be inconceivable to me to find someone who saw this film prior to the creation of current CGI effects, who was not struck with awe by the parting of the Red Sea. I can remember when we studied that time period in school; I would get confused when the lesson did not match what I remembered in the picture. There are just some films that remain with us for our entire life and this was one of them. So here was my dilemma: could I watch and review this dramatic adventure film without being biased.    SURPRISINGLY I was able to sit through most of the action scenes without thinking about Charlton or Yul Brynner. The main reason was due to the special effects; the scope and expanse of the scenes were nearly overwhelming for me. I sat in my seat with stunned surprise at the amount of people used and especially the vast visual depth to the scenes. On a visual basis this film was beautiful, even though the 3D effects did not do much for me. Christian Bale (American Hustle, The Fighter) was excellent playing Moses as was Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Zero Dark Thirty) who played Ramses. However, Joel must have realized the script was quickly tanking as he became more of a caricature as the movie progressed. Directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator, American Gangster), this film was all surface with no substance. I was saddened on how quickly I became bored with the uneven script that at times would be wonderful then quickly turn dreadful, especially due to the modern macho vibe. Though there was variety with the cast, I thought Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, Iron Man 3) as Nun and Sigourney Weaver (The Cabin in the Woods, Avatar) as Tuya were utterly wasted in this mess. I believe a good portion of the fault was due to having four writers working on the script. There was never a time where I felt emotionally moved by a scene. And of all scenes not able to stir me, the parting of the sea was such an anticlimactic moment for me. I wished the time spent on creating a visual feast would have gone more into the script; I was looking down at my watch a couple of times, which is never a good sign. To give the benefit of the doubt, maybe there are certain stories/movies that should never be remade. I am not sure; but with our technical prowess in special effects, if the movie studio would have spent more energy on the script this would have been a modern epic.

 

2 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Snow Cake

We were never properly informed so we did not know any better at the time. There was a little girl in our class that we had to be careful around whenever we were near her. The teacher only told us she could become seriously ill if she fell or cut herself. Of course this made all of us more curious about her. It was on the playground where we found out she was a hemophiliac; she was the one who told and explained it to us. Until she did however, there were kids who would not go near her. I now know with the HIPPA act and privacy concerns there may be an issue with talking about someone’s medical condition; but until it was explained to us, there were a few classmates who behind her back would say she had cooties. As I grew up I began to notice how people with a certain genetic disposition were being stigmatized. I did not understand why anyone would be uncomfortable with someone who had diabetes or deafness. In this film festival winning drama I was totally taken by the story and performances. Alan Rickman (Nobel Son, Harry Potter franchise) played Alex, who was on a road trip to Winnipeg, Canada. After being involved in an automobile accident; Alex went to pay his respects to the grieving mother Linda, played by Sigourney Weaver (Avatar, Alien franchise). He discovered she was a high functioning autistic woman who seemed more concerned about the garbage being taken out on time instead of her deceased daughter. Sigourney was outstanding in this role; in fact, while I watched this film I was surprised I had no recollection of it ever being advertised or at the movie theaters. Alan’s acting was fine but I felt the script may have been biased towards his previous works; it took a while before he overcame it and grew into this character. Even with some predictability in the script I enjoyed the small town feel along with the characters Vivienne and Maggie, played by Emily Hampshire (Cosmopolis, It’s a Boy Thing) and Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix franchise, Disturbia). Though the subject of autism was not the only story line, I thought it was handled brilliantly. Of course I have to reiterate Sigourney had a lot to do with it. This was a surprise find for me on DVD, where I not only felt invested in the story but enjoyed sitting and watching it.

 

3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: The Cold Light of Day

Since I began posting movie reviews here, I have tried alternating between first run movies and those on DVD. You will notice with today’s review it is of a film I saw this past week at the theater, instead of one at home. The reason is simple; if you are so inclined to view this movie, do not spend any money seeing it in a movie theater. Do not waste any money on it. The first 15-20 minutes started out well, with Bruce Willis (Moonrise Kingdom, Die Hard franchise) as Martin doing okay, for what seemed like a typical role for him. Taking his family out sailing on his boat, Martin tried to keep the peace, though it was obvious there was tension between him and his son Will, played by Henry Cavill (Stardust, Immortals). When there was a slight accident on the boat, Will swam to shore to get first aid. With supplies in hand, he returned to the beach only to discover the sailing boat was gone. It did not take Will long to find the boat tucked away in a nearby cove. Imagine the surprise he got when finally reaching the boat he discovered it was deserted. The search for his family would lead Will on a high stakes chase, that involved the CIA and terrorists all looking for a mysterious briefcase. Let me make this easy for you: the story was dopey, the acting was putrid and the action scenes went by so fast, I had a hard time figuring out what the heck was going on. This movie looked like it was one of those payback films, where actors had to sign on to repay a favor to some producer or movie studio honcho. The whole time watching this movie I thought the missing family members were the lucky ones; they did not have to stay and watch this mess.

1 2/3 stars

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