GRATEFULLY A RELATIVE OF MINE WAS okay after being at a public gathering where there was an active shooter. I never thought I would ever have to write about such a thing, but it has become part of our world. The gathering was a celebration for a national holiday; there were people who came from all areas around where the event was being staged. Horrifically there were fatalities and injuries. This tragic event was televised multiple times; the newspapers covered the story for many days. As one would expect, the news focused on the victims. All of it was so sad to see; the scenes showing the aftermath were especially hard to view. However, there was something out of this tragedy that struck me after hearing about it on a personal level, besides from the news. I was in awe of all the people who came together to help the survivors. Living at a time where there is so much divisiveness and polarization, where everything is turning into an extreme, it was heartwarming to see people from all levels of society coming together to help one another. The word that comes to mind is “hopeful.” Seeing such an act of kindness gives me hope that people can live a judgment free life together. I HAVE BEEN A WITNESS TO other acts of kindness like the fitness presenter I was assigned to drive around during our yearly convention. We were driving to a dinner event when we spotted a car crash. She had me pull over so she could run out and see if anyone needed any help. As it turned out, the driver was dazed and going into shock. She took her jacket off, wrapped it around him while checking his pulse as she had me dial #911 to report it. It was comforting to see how she dealt with the situation, unconcerned about getting her outfit dirty and bloody. Being in the fitness industry, I have seen other acts of kindness. For example, I had a friend who worked at a health center where he personally had saved five members because of his quick actions to start CPR on them. We used to joke about why members were only getting ill when he was on duty. I do not know what it is about my focus on finding/hearing about acts of kindness. Maybe because of all this anger and hatred I see on the news and that includes these political ads that mention nothing about policy, instead showing explosions and crime; it makes me sad. Having said this will help you understand why I found this dramatic, action adventure so inspiring. WHEN AN UNEXPECTED STORM TRAPS A boys soccer team inside of a cave, it would take more than a village to help keep the boys alive. With Viggo Mortensen (Green Book, A Dangerous Method) as Rick Stanton, Colin Farrell (The Batman, The Gentleman) as John Volanthen, Joel Edgerton (Boy Erased, The Gift) as Harry Harris, Tom Bateman (Death on the Nile, Cold Pursuit) as Chris Jewell and Paul Gleeson (The Thin Red Line, Home and Away) as Jason Mallinson; this film based on a true story was directed by Ron Howard, who created the perfect balance between tensions and emotions. I remember when this event happened and yet watching it play out in this movie felt like a new experience for me. The cast did a terrific job conveying the dangers, exhaustion, mental anguishes, and hopefulness from the script. Ron’s direction kept the story on a steady pace that allowed for the touching moments to shine in between the harrowing ones. I do not think it would make a difference whether you remember this event or not, that took place in Thailand; this was an exciting movie watching experience for me and I believe it could be for you as well.
3 ½ stars
IT ALL STARTED WITH SEA GLASS. Seeing children bent over picking at the ground like hungry chickens, they were searching the beach for bits of glass that had been polished for years by the ocean. I sat on a park bench above shifting my gaze from them to the calming water slipping quietly up onto the shore. As I listened to the kids periodically shouting out they found a piece of sea glass, I wondered where the glass originated. Could it have been a broken bottle, plate or piece of ceramic that was on a boat that had sunk a century ago, who knows? I wondered what the circumstances might have been; maybe the glass had traveled halfway around the world, tumbling over and over in the currents, until it landed right here up on our shore. Each and every piece of sea glass the children collected had all been part of something else from a different time. The thought fascinated me as I imagined a variety of scenarios based on a historical past. Maybe there was a bottle with a note in it that a child from a war torn country threw into the ocean, hoping someone would find it and come save them. AS I WAS THINKING OF the past I remembered my recent trip to the history museum. Seeing artifacts that were centuries old such as mummies and dinosaur bones created pictures in my mind of what life must have been like for these animals and individuals. Honestly I cannot stand camping so how could I have possibly survived back then? With that being said I do wish there was a way I could look into the past and see for example what circumstances led up to the first person who discovered fire. Another thing, I would like to know what caused someone to make a wheel; was it a boulder rolling down a hill or maybe someone tripped and began falling head over heels that made them think about the possibilities of having a round object as a tool. I could go on and on coming up with different scenarios and circumstances. Through my schooling it was always taught to us to look back on history as a guide to where we are now. Now we just enter something into an internet search engine and read about it; I prefer hearing someone’s story about a time gone past. Granted it would only go up to several decades past, but lucky for us this animated adventure comedy delved far back in time to show us what was really going on. THREATENED HAVING THEIR LAND taken over Dug, voiced by Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl) agrees to a wager. The wager was based on a game that was called soccer. With Tom Hiddleston (Thor franchise, I Saw the Light) as Lord Nooth, Maisie Williams (Mary Shelley, Game of Thrones-TV) as Goona and Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner, Secrets & Lies) as Chief Bobnar; the movie studio that created this film is known for their claymation technique. I love the look of their films and the quirky humor they put into their scripts. Compared to their previous films I have to tell you this one was not one of my favorites. The story was odd with having a soccer game taking place during prehistoric times. As for the script there were some jokes and puns that were not as clever as I have seen them do in the past. Where I could not stop watching their fun previous pictures, this one bored me a little. If I think about it maybe prehistoric men and women did not have the luxury to be funny.
2 ¼ stars
I wonder if the playground half covered with gravel had anything to do with it. Growing up not only did I never think about soccer, it was never part of anyone’s conversation. Now granted I attended a small elementary and high school, but even if someone wanted to play soccer it would have been challenging. The public schools I attended were in the city; they were plopped down in the middle of a city block with houses all around. There were no grassy fields, no baseball diamonds; heck, we were lucky if had a few bushes pushed up to the side of the building. As I mentioned before my elementary school’s playground was part blacktop and part gravel. There were no team sports and the majority of our physical activity was done in the gymnasium with its over excessive, varnished wood floor. The floor would creak so much when we were playing any type of game that it sounded like a backyard of chirping crickets. I think we may have played some kind of indoor version of soccer that we called Dodgeball, but the rules were different and I tried to avoid playing it because of the bullies in class. They used the opportunity to pretend they were kicking at the ball but really were going for someone’s leg, causing usually a bruise to form later in the day. So you see I never thought or cared about soccer all the way through into my adult life. If the games in this dramatic biography are typical of the average soccer game then sign me up for season tickets. FROM an earlier review this week where I talked about not needing money to being a success, if ever an example was needed to show this was true then this film about soccer legend Pele, played by newcomer Kevin de Paula, would have been the perfect choice. His story totally surprised me as this film covered his years growing up in the poor slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil; where he did not even play with a real soccer ball. I had never heard of the style of soccer associated with Pele. It was amazing to see; I felt like I was watching a performance artist up on the screen. Also starring Vincent D’Onofrio (Jurassic World, Full Metal Jacket) as Feola, Diego Boneta (Scream Queens-TV, Summer Camp) as Jose and Colm Meaney (Law Abiding Citizen, Stand Off) as George Raynor; the acting was almost secondary in my opinion. I do not think this sport film covered anything new; so if one is already familiar with Pele they may become bored with this story. Since I had no knowledge of the man or his sport, I was fascinated watching everything. I will say there were scenes that I thought were poorly filmed making the action look cartoonish and the dramatic ones seemed typical and predictable. So here is my bottom line: I do not think this was a well-made film; but here is the thing, the story kept me engrossed and provided entertainment for me. Isn’t that what a soccer match is supposed to do?
2 ¾ stars
I am more comfortable with diversity, whether it is in my classes or in my neighborhood, than everyone being the same. There is more opportunity for learning with a diverse group in my opinion. For example, I am uncomfortable with a group of people who all act as if they are part of the Stepford Wives. This is one of the reasons why I lost interest with the characters in this predictable movie. I found the soccer mom characters to be simply icky. The message coming across was that soccer moms were unsatisfied, desperate to find physical affection. Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago, The Terminal) as Denise and Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction, Gattaca) as Patti would be examples of the poorly developed characters in this dull film. Gerard Butler (Chasing Mavericks, Law Abiding Citizen) played George, a former soccer star who was down on his luck. Divorced and having been an absentee dad to his son, George decided to coach his son’s soccer team in hopes of getting back into his son’s life again. Jessica Biel (The Illusionist, Total Recall) played George’s ex-wife Stacie who had moved on with her life and was about to get remarried as George came back into her life. Besides the story being silly, I felt the characters were one dimensional. Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow, Pandorum) was ridiculous as smarmy character Carl, cheating husband to Patti. The acting was not memorable and came across as being stilted. I could appreciate the idea of Gerard’s character wanting to be a responsible father to his son, but the writers veered off from it by filling scenes with silly filler. Relative newcomer Noah Lomax was very good playing the son Lewis. I felt bad for this character; not as much for having an absentee father as for being stuck in this loser of a movie.
1 2/3 stars