I FELT TRAPPED IN THE MIDDLE of a group of strangers, with no way to get out. It was the weekend and I was a guest at a party where everyone knew each other except for me. The introductions had all been been made as I found myself an empty seat among a small group of guests, who were sitting outside at the back of the house. No one was being mean to me; they just did not engage me into any of their conversations. Well actually there really weren’t multiple conversations going on amongst this group; there was one individual who was orchestrating the conversation. Everyone else was just listening to him and occasionally making a comment or agreeing with this fellow’s statements. As I quietly sat there I heard this person talk on a variety of subjects. He went from camping stories to traveling ones to skiing escapades to stories about his son’s achievements. Since I had never met him before I did not want to make a snap judgement based on a few of his stories. But do you want to know something? As the other guests nodded their approval or chuckle at this guy’s escapades, I could not help but feel that this man’s conversations were simply a way for him to brag about himself. THERE WAS ONLY SO MUCH I COULD endure before I excused myself to find a place to sit somewhere far from this braggart. Later in the evening I discovered an interesting fact concerning that man. It turned out he was the husband of a woman there who had a prominent position with the same company as several of the guests at the party. You may be asking why this was an interesting fact; I will tell you why. There was a reason why this husband spent a majority of the evening talking about himself. With his wife in an important position, it appeared to me he was feeling threatened by it. Sitting with his wife’s co-workers, this man wanted to show everyone that he was just as important or dominant or successful as his wife. Not speaking for the other guests, but now that I knew about this extra piece to the puzzle I felt sad for the guy. Instead of working on his confidence to be a supportive partner in the relationship he had to sit and regale the guests with stories about his so called incredible achievements. I could not imagine anyone at the party thinking any less of him. This animated action comedy has a similar situation with its main character, go ahead and check it out. TIRED OF NOT BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY as a superhero Robin, voiced by Scott Menville (RoboCop, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), decided the way to step out from the shadows of the popular superheroes was to get a movie made about him and the rest of the Teen Titans. All they needed was a villain to vanquish and a top director. With Kristen Bell (Bad Moms franchise, The Boss) voicing Jade Wilson, Will Arnett (When in Rome, Jonah Hex) voicing Slade, Greg Cipes (Fast & Furious, Club Dread) voicing Beast Boy and Khary Payton (The Walking Dead-TV, General Hospital-TV) voicing Cyborg; I was pleasantly surprised at how fun this movie was to watch. The humor was sophisticated enough to please the adults in the audience as the script took swipes at the whole superhero genre. Where I had difficulty was the direction of the story; it stayed at a non-stop clip through the entire picture. I enjoyed the old school animation and it fit right in with the sarcastic script. Too bad I didn’t go see this film in lieu of sitting and listening to someone trying to make himself feel important.
2 ¾ 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
AN INCREDIBLE EVENT RECENTLY TOOK place that I was fortunate enough to witness. You may have experienced something like it already but for me it was my first time. In the past I have attended special events where family was present. A baptism, bar mitzvah, wedding and other such type of events where there were relatives from two different families. Usually the 2 families sit separately; for example, the custom for weddings is the bride’s side sits on the right and the groom’s family sits on the left. That divide, as far as I can tell, remains throughout the dinner and reception. People who know the groom all sit together as does the bride’s family and friends. Honestly, I get it and am not judging it; however, that divide that started with the wedding aisle continues into the night. Here is where I have seen people judging those from the “other side.” I have heard guests commenting on clothing, physical features and dance moves; gratefully not all of them were negative, some were complimentary. My point though is I was a witness to an event where both sides blended together; all coming together to celebrate both the bride and groom. BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE WEDDING ceremony guests from both families were mingling with each other. I heard people sharing stories about the bride and/or the groom to explain their connection to the happy couple. Each tidbit of anecdotal information was being pieced together to form this loving blanket of cherished memories. I was impressed with the amount of love guests were displaying over these two young people who were about to be joined in marriage. To give you an example, in all the weddings I have attended I have never danced with the mother from the other family. After dinner I was on the dance floor and the mother came up to dance with me. Maybe this is not unusual for you, but for me it was a new experience. When it was time to lift the bride and groom in the air for a cheer, each of them had equal family representation underneath holding up their chairs. The entire evening went on like this; every person was there celebrating together for a common goal—to wish the newlyweds a happy, long life. So, you see it is possible to get different sides to work together for a common purpose or goal. Great things can come out of this type of partnership; see what happens in this action adventure film. WITH THE FATE OF THE UNIVERSE falling piece by piece into Thanos’, played by Josh Brolin (Only the Brave, Old Boy), hand; it would take more than one group of fighters to attempt to thwart his mad plan. This fantasy, science fiction movie also starred Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge, Due Date) as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth (12 Strong, Blackhat) as Thor, Elizabeth Olsen (Wind River, Ingrid Goes West) as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch and Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight, Foxcatcher) as Bruce Banner/Hulk. I am guessing this picture cost a fortune to make because the production values were top notch. The special effects, the massive cast and the script each contributed to creating a huge spectacular. Josh was so good in this role; it was the first time I could recall a movie villain being a thoughtful, emotional character instead of just some evil being bent on destroying things. Where I thought the last Thor film installment had too much humor in it, this one had the perfect blend. If you are not familiar with the Marvel universe there is a chance you might get lost in this movie. The other issue I had was the way the picture ended; it was obvious this film only told ½ the story. I believe we will have to wait until May 2019 to find out what happens. At 2 hours and 29 minutes this film was long to sit through, but time for the most part went by fast. This was an almost perfect blend of different franchise characters coming together for one common purpose. There was one extra scene at the end of the credits.
3 ½ stars
SOME INDIVIDUALS WOULD FIND it frustrating; others would find it infuriating after a while. You are partaking in a serious conversation and someone makes a joke. There are times where telling a joke can be the perfect antidote to a tense conversation. In fact I am a big proponent of using humor to diffuse a situation or break the tension in a room. Dealing with tough and uncomfortable topics of conversation can quickly drain an individual; I am all for injecting a touch of humor just to give the participants a momentary breather before continuing their discussion. Pretty much any situation can benefit, at least in my opinion, from a chuckle or belly laugh depending on the circumstances of course. There was a funeral I attended where the service was filled almost to capacity with mourners. Right in the middle of the eulogy a family member made a comment that had everyone laughing, giving a needed respite from the sadness. WHERE A SIMPLE BIT of humor can do wonders in a tense situation, a constant barrage of jokes and wisecracks can have the opposite effect. If it is just you and one other person going back and forth in a deep conversation, you can address it; however, when there are more people involved it can be tricky. When an individual keeps making jokes during what is supposed to be a serious conversation; I have noticed they are uncomfortable either with the topic being discussed or making themselves vulnerable. I know an individual who has a hard time discussing their feelings. When you press them on a subject they will relent and share something personal, but they do it in a hushed voice. I honestly do not know if they feel they are saying something “wrong” or afraid they will be made fun of; they even look uncomfortable. So they prefer to keep up a constant stream of jokes in the conversation to the point they almost overshadow the intended topic of discussion. I felt I was experiencing something of a similar nature during this action, adventure fantasy. IMPRISONED ON A FOREIGN planet far from his home Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth (Ghostbusters, Red Dawn), must figure out a way to return before Asgard is completely destroyed. With Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager, I Saw the Light)) as Loki, Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Carol) as Hela, Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park franchise, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Grandmaster and Tessa Thompson (Creed, Dear White People) as Valkyrie; you could not have asked for a better cast of actors. Who knew Cate could throw down with the best of them as she emoted wicked evilness. I wanted to see more scenes with her. Everything you expect to see in a Marvel superhero movie was here from comic book author Stan Lee’s cameo to big CGI effects to 2 extra scenes during the credits. The only issue I had with this film was the use of humor; I felt the comedy aspect overpowered everything in this story. Do not get me wrong, a good portion of the scenes were fun and humorous but there was so much I felt it took away a little of the dramatic intensity the scenes required. I am sure I am in the minority regarding this but after a while I found the humor getting tedious. Granted since this was my only complaint I still enjoyed the whole movie watching experience and I can only imagine how much fun the actors had making this picture.
THERE always seems to be at least one in a crowd. Whether it is in the classroom, the office or a group of friends; usually one person is the prankster or jokester. I did not have the courage to act out in the classroom; however, I discovered I was quite good in coming up with a plan and then letting someone else execute it. I think the statues of limitations have long expired so I am okay to mention one of my pranks, keeping in mind I am not boasting or full of pride about it. There was a strict teacher we had who made some of us kids’ lives miserable. Looking back now I would not use the word “miserable,” but to a 9 year old who did not know better, the teacher was labeled bad. I discovered if you removed the cylinder of ink from certain pens they could be used to shoot spitballs. But I took it a step further; if you roll one end of the empty pen in lip balm and blow hard on the other end, it would jettison the glob of balm. If it was aimed at the blackboard it would leave a greasy mark. The teacher came into the classroom one day and discovered he could not write on the blackboard due to all the grease spots. THROUGH my early school years I actually did not do many pranks. I was never one to embarrass a classmate, like that student who glued another student’s schoolbook to their desk. The only time I would consider doing a prank against a student is if they hurt me. And even then I would have had to be 100% confident that the joke could never be traced back to me. I am not a mean spirited person, but I used to be a big fan of getting revenge. If I wanted to get back at someone I would have to do the prank myself, not even telling my friends. I was good at keeping a straight face even when my friends would ask if I was the one who did such and such prank. Little did I know I would have something in common with this animated, action comedy based on the bestselling children’s book series. BEST friends George and Harold, voiced by Kevin Hart (The Wedding Ringer, Central Intelligence) and Thomas Middleditch (Kong: Skull Island, Silicon Valley-TV), were always coming up with pranks to upset the school principal Mr. Krupp, voiced by Ed Helms (The Hangover franchise, Vacation). The 2 boys thought they had created the ultimate prank when they hypnotized the principal into their comic book hero, Captain Underpants. The joke was on them though. I was not familiar with this story; based on the kids who were in the theater with me, I would say the books must be written for the 4-8 year old crowd. As a result the humor in the script was geared more to that age group. There was nothing done that I found to be laugh out loud material, more on an amusing level. Some of the animation was similar to the style of those Saturday morning cartoon shows; it was imaginative. What saved this film for me was how life lessons (which I assume are part of the books) were presented into the story. Even if the focus was on pranks, at least something positive was coming out of the events. I was just glad I no longer have to be part of any pranks.
2 ½ stars
I have chosen to believe there are more people on this planet who want to do good than those who wish to do harm. Granted there have been times where I did not think that was the case. From time to time I still remember a kid in elementary school who tortured and killed a cat. Though “they” say people can change, I have my doubts about this person. Just as I was leaving for the office this morning I heard on the news authorities found baby coyotes drowned in a bucket of water. It seems the past several weeks only horrific news of people taking the lives of others has been reported. I can tell you it is not easy to stay positive with what has been taking place around all of us. However an example will come by that renews or restores my faith and give me hope that good will overpower evil. RECENTLY after seeing this film I was watching a news magazine type of television show. A segment was devoted to a woman who has devoted her life to protecting elephants from poachers. She even moved her family to Kenya so she could commit more time to her efforts. I was amazed as I watched this woman negotiate with the village elders to help by reporting to the authorities any sightings of poachers in their area. If I remember correctly she helped set up a program to help captured poachers get rehabilitation and find them decent employment opportunities. They even showed 2 poachers who were sworn enemies that now are friends, working as forest rangers. All of this woman’s efforts were geared to protect elephants from being slaughtered for their tusks. One of the things I find fascinating about individuals who devote such energy towards goodness is where their motivation comes from. Is it something they are born with or does it come from a series of events? Not being familiar with the Wonder Woman character I was totally impressed by her motivation to do good in this action adventure fantasy. WHEN a plane crashed off the shores of her homeland Diana, played by Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious franchise, Keeping up with the Jones), the princess of the Amazons discovered there was an evil force in the world wanting to do harm. She quickly realized what she had to do. With Chris Pine (Star Trek franchise, The Finest Hours) as Steve Trevor, Connie Nielsen (One Hour Photo, Gladiator) as Hippolyta and Danny Huston (Children of Men, The Aviator) as Ludendorff; the script to this story was well thought out. I learned about Diana before she became Wonder Woman. The humor, action, drama were beautifully blended for a thoroughly entertaining movie experience. The soundtrack even had a bit of a throwback acknowledgement to the TV show. While the special effects were fun, they had a comic book vibe which was enjoyable to me. Keep in mind my only exposure to this superhero previously was the actress Lynda Carter, where she would spin around to change into her Wonder Woman garb. This was a well done picture that came from a female’s sensibilities; in fact, I understand it earned the highest weekend opening for a film directed by a woman. If that is not enough to convince you to see this picture, I want you to also know everyone in the theater where I saw this film applauded at the end.
3 ½ stars
I think having the ability to see one’s self through someone else’s eyes would be quite beneficial. It would be like having an instant 2nd opinion, besides the advantages of having an easy access mirror that reflects back perceptions. I have seen various television shows where an individual is shown a videotape of themselves after some event. Most of these are done as a comedy bit on a talk show, but there have been other occasions where I have seen it done. I cringe when I think about things I have done where if I only had given thought to how my actions would be perceived, I would not have acted in such a way. Another positive aspect about someone else’s viewpoint is the confidence one could gain from such knowledge. Can you imagine growing up and being told by someone important to you that you will never be good at art or sports? Any painting you draw or ball you throw never receives a compliment or a word of encouragement. Not until you are in a different environment and someone sees something in you, do you finally hear a positive comment. I know I have mentioned this previously but based on my background no one would have believed that I would become a fitness/yoga instructor; I flunked PE twice in high school. Yet there was one individual at a fitness class I attended in my neighborhood who saw and encouraged me to pursue my passion. It just goes to show you that sometimes our perceptions of ourselves may not always be the most accurate. THE world En Sabah Nur, played by Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Stars Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens) remembered was nothing like the new world he was seeing now. Changes needed to be made. This action adventure brought back most of the actors from the previous film, so I will focus on a couple of the standouts for me. Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games franchise, Joy) as Raven/Mystique was a focal point to this film and I always enjoy her performances; however, I only wished the script would have offered her more. Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones-TV, Barely Lethal) as Jean Grey was perfect casting in my opinion. The other actor I enjoyed was Evan Peters (American Horror Story-TV, Elvis & Nixon) as Quicksilver. I read on Moviejoltz’ Facebook timeline a discussion regarding this story deviating from the comic book. Since I am not familiar with the comic books I can only base my review on what I saw on the big screen. The special effects were good though it seemed the fight scenes overwhelmed the telling of the story. With such a capable cast I wished the script had offered more depth and feelings for the characters. It did seem like some roles were put into this story for possible consideration of a spinoff. I enjoyed watching this fantasy film but after it was done I felt like something was missing. Granted this was my perception of the movie; true comic book fans may have a stronger reaction. There was one extra scene at the end of the credits.
2 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.
One of the quickest ways to bond with another human being is to share an event together. Whether it is an occurrence filled with celebration or tragedy, there is something about being a part of the same occasion that cuts through the preliminary chitchat and creates a quicker path to friendship or possibly something more. One of the first health clubs that hired me to teach aerobics had an all female staff. I always assumed I was hired because of my teaching skills and style, hoping that I did not get the job because I was a novelty. It was a year later when another man was hired on staff. The two of us quickly bonded, sitting near each other during staff meetings and traveling together to fitness conventions. Now do not get me wrong, this was in no shape a battle of the sexes type of thing or a testosterone competition; we just happened to have a similar mindset towards teaching, with the same type of humor. And do you want to know something; we have remained friends all these years. I could share other examples of how people bond but the events may cause you to become sad and I would rather we all try to stay upbeat with tonight’s movie review of this science fiction, action adventure film. TELEPORTED to a distant world, the four space travelers returned to earth changed in unusual ways. They would have to learn to work together to overcome their differences if they wanted to save the world from an evil force. Having gone to this viewing with no prior knowledge of the film, my shock and confusion about what I was watching was a surprise to me. With competent actors Miles Teller (Whiplash, That Awkward Moment) as Reed Richards, Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station, That Awkward Moment) as Johnny Storm, Kate Mara (127 Hours, Shooter) as Sue Storm and Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, King Kong) as Ben Grimm, I was stunned at how poorly they came across on the big screen. The reason started with the script and anyone else involved with this film who was not familiar with what it took to make a superhero movie. The first half of the fim was utterly boring; with no action, no humor or fun surprises. I could not remember a recent time where an entire cast looked like they were sleepwalking through the picture. As for the evil aspect to the story, it was simply dull and did not provide any thrills. The fact that there was no extra scene at the end of the credits spoke volumes about how poorly managed this project was from beginning to end. On the plus side a group of us stopped in the theater lobby after the movie to talk about our similar negative reactions to this super dud.
1 1/2 stars
There is one kind of hero that resides in a make-believe world. They could have an extraordinary power because of the planet they came from or due to an earth shattering accident that changed them on the molecular level. I enjoy and look forward to seeing these types of superheroes on the big screen. However, there is a different type of hero that is just as strong and important; who was born here on earth, did not experience a life transforming accident and for the most part is unrecognizable. They do not have some special type of clothing that can block bullets or allow them to fly; instead they may be wearing a white apron and hairnet as they stand behind the counter of a school’s cafeteria. Or they may be on disability as a life threatening disease slowly spreads across their body. I see these type of heroes all around me. There is the single mother who has to pull double shifts so her child can afford school supplies and lunches. Another hero I have seen is the volunteer who devotes time everyday to bring food and check-in on a stranger who is housebound. For me these are some of the true heroes around us. I am so impressed by the individuals who do not wear their heroism like a badge of honor; they simply do what they do because they have to or want to do it. This is why I was impressed with the unlikely hero in this action film. WHAT started out as a way for con man Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd (Role Models, This is 40), to see his daughter turned into a crisis that would have worldwide consequences. This science fiction adventure film did not fit into the typical superhero genre. Here was a human with no special powers who was not an ideal citizen; yet he overcame himself to become the Ant-Man. Paul was perfectly cast for this role and he even helped with the screenplay. Michael Douglas (Falling Down, Wonder Boys) as Dr. Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly (Real Steal, The Hurt Locker) as his daughter Hope van Dyne were an excellent fit. Now I understood there was a change of directors and writers for this film and I am not sure if that is the reason why I found the 2nd half of the film to be stronger. I really had to give thought to the idea I was reacting to the movie having a long intro arc without many special effects. However, Paul along with the fun sight gags in the film made this a worthy picture, besides a mini history lesson (at least for me) into the Avengers World. Pulling off this type of movie was no small feat and the studio succeeded. Two extra scenes in the middle and end of the closing credits.