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Flash Movie Review: War on Everyone

I AM NOT EXPERIENCING A FULL WITHDRAWAL, but I am certainly missing the comfort of being in a dark movie theater. The governor of my state issued a stay at home order the day I was watching a film in the theater.  There were 3 other people watching with me and each of us was spaced far from each other. At least the film was wonderful, so I ended my movie theater visits on a high note. Driving home and hearing the news, my first thought was, “How am I going to see movies to review?” As some of you know, I am a stickler for staying on a routine. If I can, I go to the theater and try to watch 2 or 3 films in a row; I figure if I am there I might as well see as many as I can to save time from going back and forth throughout the weekend.  I always have everything planned, from the time I need to arrive to where I would park to making sure I have all my seats on reserve. Now that my movie theater routine was put on hold, I spent the weekend trying to figure out how I could create a new routine that will allow me the opportunity to see movies and review them.     A WEEK HAS GONE BY AND I am settling into the new normal many of us are doing. I read some movie studios will stream their new releases for a fee; however, seeing that the amount they are asking is sometimes nearly 40% more than what I pay at the theater, I refuse to participate in that option. I used to have DVDs mailed to me, which offered me a variety of films I could review, but a while ago, I switched the option to online. Little did I realize the online option did not have nearly the amount of titles as the DVD option. It has taken me up to 20 minutes to find a movie to watch from the list I have kept the past couple of years. However, if it means I can review it then I deal with the inconveniences. The reason I am telling you all of this is because I want you to know there could be times I might be reviewing a film that I may have seen some ratings or words written about it before I can review it. Today’s movie choice is one in particular; until I found it I knew there was a chance I might not think highly of it. Yikes, little did I know it was going to be such a rough movie watching experience.      WHEN TWO CROOKED POLICE OFFICERS DECIDE TO go for a big score, they cross paths with someone who is as dangerous as them and who can play their game even better. This film festival winning movie starred Alexander Skarsgard (The Hummingbird Project, Big Little Lies-TV) as Terry Monroe, Michael Pena (End of Watch, Ant-Man franchise) as Bob Bolano, Theo James (Divergent franchise, London Fields) as Lord James Mangan, Tessa Thompson (Creed franchise, Dear White People) as Jackie Hollis and Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as Russell Birdwell. This cast was the reason why I was interested in seeing this action, crime comedy. I can only wonder if they were as surprised as I was with the finished product. The story was nothing special but was dragged further down by the script. I found the dialog crass and monotonous; repeating politically incorrect phrases does not make it any more funny. By the time we discovered the redemption part of the plot I did not really care one way or another. It was a shame because the scene involving it was one of the few I enjoyed. If watching films of this caliber is going to be my new routine, I may go out of my mind with boredom.

 

1½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Underworld: Blood Wars

IT was in elementary school where I first met them, but at different times. One became friends with me in 4th grade, the other in 7th. They became my best friends and we did everything together. We would have dinner at each others’ houses, sleepovers, go on family trips together; we considered ourselves the three musketeers. Having two best friends was great during the school day because there was always a good chance one of them would be in one of my several classes during the day. As we started to grow towards our teen years we began to develop our own tastes. I did not think much about it because I just adapted to the new environment. There were some activities one friend liked that the other did not, so the two of us would do it by ourselves.   DURING this time I did not realize my two friends were forming a dislike towards each other; I had no idea why it was even taking place, but it was becoming clear that I was neutral territory. They were not overt about their dislike but when the three of us were together I noticed when either of them talked it was directed towards me. They did very little eye contact towards the other. This was becoming very stressful for me because I did not know how to fix the situation. Once we were in high school the hostility they had for each other became more public. It was getting harder to make plans with either one because if I could not make it for a certain date, I would be accused of favoring the other friend. Talk about drama, the situation was uncomfortable to the point if one friend saw me talking to the other one I was accused of playing favorites. I reached my breaking point and told both of them I was done with the drama; if they wanted to keep this anger up then go for it, but I was removing myself from listening or dealing with any more hostilities. I felt the same way about this action fantasy film.    THE key to winning the war between vampires and werewolves all came down to the blood flowing through the body of Selene, played by Kate Beckinsale (The Aviator, Love & Friendship). Whoever could capture her would win the war. This sequel also starred Theo James (Divergent franchise, The Benefactor) as David, Tobias Menzies (Finding Neverland, Atonement) as Marius and Lara Pulver (The Special Relationship, True Blood-TV) as Semira. On the surface this film had a good, dark look to it which fit into the theme of vampires. The fight scenes were fun in that comic book way of filming. Kate was the focus and handled the role beautifully; however, the script was so basic and clichéd that I quickly became bored. To me the script seemed as if it was pieced together in a “connect the dots” fashion. The writers must have decided the film needed a love scene, a rivalry, a generation gap, etc. and just threw it into the story; it was easy to figure out where things were going, so there were no surprises for me. As far as I was concerned I was hoping the 2 sides would kill each other so I would not have to sit through another sequel.

 

1 ¾ stars       

 

 

Flash Movie Review: The Divergent Series: Allegiant

I do not know if it is an actual term but I call it “deceptive packaging.” If you walk through a grocery store you will see many examples of these false packages. There are so many liquid products that come in these colored bottles that look like you are buying a full size of the product. However, after you take it home and have used it for a short time you cannot believe you already ran out of the item. Let me tell you, hold that bottle up to the light and you will probably see the bottom of it is much thicker then any other part of the bottle; I am talking thick like those funny eyeglasses that you might see an actor wear for their character in a comedy movie. The type of eyeglasses that were called “soda pop glasses” because they were as thick as the bottom of soda bottles. Another way companies use deceptive packaging is in their use of photography to create these sumptuous looking foods on the cover of their products. A frozen dinner on the cover looks homemade with big chunks of vegetables and steaming meat in a thick bubbly sauce; but after you open the box, the meal consists of a couple of pieces of shriveled meat with tiny cut veggies of a lesser assortment than the picture of it. These things are why I not only look at prices when I am at the grocery store, but I also look at the amounts. This may make my shopping trip longer but I and I am sure everyone else do not like feeling deceived.    TRIS, played by Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars, White Bird in a Blizzard), had a feeling inside that there was something beyond the wall surrounding Chicago. No matter what others said she had to find out for herself even if it meant she would lose some of her friends. This next installment of the action adventure series kept my interest going because of Shailene, Jeff Daniels (The Martian, Looper) as David and the futuristic products that were on show in the story. Outside of that this mystery science fiction story had a tired script. There was barely any emotion in the scenes or characters and the reason for that was the bloated script. The movie studio took the last book and decided to split it into 2 films and I was not buying it. With these types of movies I look forward to watching battles and hand to hand combat in a futuristic make-believe setting, using ray guns and other fantasy devices. I was bored for a good part of this film; it would have been better if the studio had filmed the entire book in one movie. Since I did not read the series I have to tell you I do not know if I want to run to see the next picture because I feel like I was duped.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Insurgent

I want my labels to tell me what is in my can of soup or box of cereal. Placing a label on a human being does not do anything for me. Yet so many people like to label individuals as if giving them one makes it easier to categorize them in some imaginary file cabinet. There are some people who believe they are the label given them. I have mentioned previously how in elementary school a teacher told me I would amount to nothing if I wanted to be a writer. From the moment she said that I started to change the way I thought about myself and began focusing on science courses only. In daily conversations I am part of or just hear in passing, people are referring to other folk as stupid, fat or drama queen to name a few. I bristle at such comments; it is people simply making judgements. The other reason I do not like such terms is due to my strong dislike for stereotyping. Having been a victim of it on a variety of levels, I am more comfortable with people who perceive themselves as individuals instead of being part of a group. When you think about it, isn’t it a narrow view to think of oneself as being a part of a group?    AFTER being responsible for the collapse of the government; Tris and Four, played by Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars, White Bird in a Blizzard) and Theo James (The Inbetweeners Movie, Underworld: Awakening) needed a safe place to hide from government leader Jeanine, played by Kate Winslet (Labor Day, Revolutionary Road). The hunt for the couple and others like them was intense because Jeanine believed one of the fugitives was the key for her to solidify power under her domain. This adventure science fiction thriller is the 2nd in the series of films based on the popular books. If you did not see the first movie you may have a problem following this one at first. Out of the cast which included newcomer Naomi Watts (The Impossible, St. Vincent) as Evelyn, I thought Shailene and Miles Teller (Whiplash, The Spectacular Now) as Peter were the standouts. I have to say Miles has exceptional timing while Shailene is totally believable. Visually the story was stimulating but I wished the script would have been stronger. Everything seemed to play out on the same level with little variance in emotional depth; keeping in mind I have not read the books. Some scenes did not fit in well with the story’s direction; I wondered if they were meant to be rest stops between the acton scenes. I am not going to label this film by saying I was slightly disappointed; but, I would have appreciated if the writers had spent more time learning about each major character.

 

2 3/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Divergent

There is a certain comfort in eating the same thing for lunch each business day. Working in a chaotic environment, I find stability in having a meal that is both dependable and made up with comforting foods that I can count on. Growing up in a neighborhood where the majority of people came from the same political, socioeconomic and religious background provided a built-in shorthand to everyone’s conversations. A single word could explain everything without having to go into details. I do not find fault with people being similar, but what about the person who appears not to fit in with the majority? In my own observations it seems there is less conformity but also less tolerance; or maybe it is the less tolerant are louder. Personally, I am comfortable with variety in my life; even with my lunch I change it up on the weekends. The way I describe it is by saying life is like a massive mansion where each person provides a different window that lets me see something new from its vantage point. By now you have probably guessed I was tuned in with the plot in this action adventure film. Set in the future, society was broken down into 5 factions based on virtues. Once a child reached a certain age they were tested to determine which faction would be most suitable for them. Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, The Spectacular Now) played Beatrice “Tris” Prior who did not fit into one convenient category. According to the policies in place and enforced by Jeanine, played by Kate Winslet (Titanic, Revolutionary Road); people like Tris would be considered a threat to society. If Tris was going to survive she would have to pretend to fit in with her faction. From what I have heard, moviegoers who have read Veronica Roth’s book which this film was based on were disappointed. Since I have not read the trilogy my comments are strictly based on the entertainment value of this movie. The best part of this picture comes down to two people: Shailene Woodley and Theo James (The Inbetweeners Movie, Underworld: Awakening) as her group leader named Four. I thought they worked well together and his acting was almost as good as Shailene’s. Filmed in Chicago, the outdoor scenes and sets constantly kept my attention. Extra points go to the 2 actors for actually climbing up the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. I found the beginning of the movie was slow and dry. Maybe if I had read the book I would have had a better understanding of Tris’ relationships with her fellow inductees. The last hour of the movie was more exciting to me. Based on my personality I would be honored to be considered a Divergent, but then again I like being different.

 

2 3/4 stars

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