I USED TO HAVE A FEAR OF dachshund dogs when I was young. It started when one chased me down the street. I was riding my bicycle over by a relative’s house. The streets were familiar to me, but I did not know many of the neighbors; only the ones that were close to my relative’s house. I remember it was before lunchtime and I was riding my bike on the sidewalk of a main thoroughfare. Because the dog was short, I did not see it at first; it was not until I heard it barking as it ran up alongside of me. I started to pedal faster as the dog kept up its barking between snapping at my ankles. I could not believe someone would let such a mean dog out without being on a leash. The dog continued chasing me down the block, only stopping after I veered off the sidewalk and rode over the curb into the street. I was so scared I did not look for traffic beforehand. Luckily, a car wasn’t driving by at that moment. The dog stood at the edge of the curb while it kept barking. I rode back to my relative’s house as I could feel the sweat dripping down my face and back. AFTER THAT INCIDENT ANY TIME I saw a dachshund I stayed away from it, even if the dog was on lease. if I saw someone walking towards me with one, I would cross the street. In fact, I stopped riding my bicycle around my relative’s house because I did not want to take a chance, I would encounter that demon dog. My relative noticed the change and asked me about it. I told her what happened, and she told me not to judge all dachshunds based on one encounter. She suggested, since I loved riding my bike, to ride in the other direction because she could not imagine the dog crossing any streets if it did not follow me into the street. What she said made sense and I did start riding my bike around her place; however, I still hated that breed of dog. It was not until I got older when a close friend of mine got a dachshund. At first, I was hesitant going to his house; but he begged me to come over. Once I saw how docile and cute the puppy was, my dislike for the breed waned. The more we hung out together, the more I started liking the puppy; I had confronted and overcame my fear. This is something the main characters in this mystery, horror thriller needed to do. OVER THE HOLIDAY BREAK A GROUP of sorority sisters staying on campus make plans to celebrate Christmas. However, when a couple of sisters go missing the remaining ones must band together to find out what was happening on campus. This movie starred Imogen Poots (Green Room, The Art of Self-Defense) as Riley, Aleyse Shannon (Charmed-TV, Instinct-TV) as Kris, Lily Donoghue (The Goldbergs-TV, Jane the Virgin-TV) as Marty, Brittany O’Grady (Star-TV, Above Suspicion) as Jesse and Caleb Eberhardt (The Post, Love Beats Rhymes) as Landon. The idea behind this story was a valid one; I could see what the writers were trying to accomplish with female empowerment. However, it seemed that was their only focus because this movie was a disaster. There was nothing that was scary enough to make me react to it. The beginning of the story was okay but then it took a wrong turn and became a silly mess. I thought the acting was below average. At one point it seemed as if everything was going wrong with this picture. I must tell you the scariest part about this movie was me having to sit and watch it. There was a brief extra scene during the credits.
1 ½ stars
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, IN MY HOMETOWN there was a trial where the children of the deceased were suing their stepmother. She was the beneficiary of her husband’s estate according to the will; the children would only receive a nominal amount of money. They were quite upset as you can imagine; especially, because they felt their stepmother only married their father for his money. I should mention the stepmother was 30 years younger than her husband. Now before you question whether I might be subtly being judgmental, I have known both married and dating couples who have had a wide difference between their ages. They were happy together and I was happy for them. What made this trial curious to me was the fact the couple had been married only a couple of years after a brief dating period. It is funny, the only time I might become aware of such cases is when money plays a factor. To be honest I do wonder at times what a couple has in common when they are generations apart. Wasn’t there a celebrity case where the age difference was 40+ years? I would be interested to see, if money was not part of the package would the younger person still be interested in the individual? WITHIN THE CIRCLES OF PEOPLE I have encountered I have met those who were aggressive in finding a mate. There was a woman who researched the men she dated. When I say research, she would try to get her hands on their credit report, use a friend at the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if the potential mate had a driving record, along with looking for any type of criminal activity. It was startling to see what lengths she would go to filter out those she felt were not suitable love interests. I found it offensive when someone would tell me they did not see themselves with the person they were dating but continued to stick around because they liked the attention and gifts they were getting from the person. To me, people like this are just being mercenary, taking advantage of the individual’s kindness. Maybe these people know they are being taken advantage of; then in that case, I have nothing to say about it. There are all kinds of people out there and what works for one may not work for the other. You might not believe what some people will do for love; for example, the couple in this dramatic thriller may surprise you. THERE WAS SOMETHING ROY COURTNEY AND Betty McLeish, played by Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings franchise, Mr. Holmes) and Helen Mirren (The Queen, Anna), saw that attracted them to each other. The question however, what exactly was it? With Russell Tovey (The History Boys, Looking-TV) as Stephen, Jim Carter (Downton Abbey, The Oxford Murders) as Vincent and Mark Lewis Jones (Little White Lies, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi) as Bryn; this film shined because of Helen and Ian. They were wonderful to watch and truly did an amazing job with their characters. At times the story played like an Agatha Christie or Dan Brown novel with its twists and turns. The script kept me engaged until it got closer to the end where I was left disappointed; I did not care for the way the story ended. It came across to me as if it was done for a quick way to get out of the tale the story had woven. Too bad because with a little more tweaking and building up more depth to the characters this film could have been an attention grabber. I did not feel used buying a ticket to see this movie; however, I would have appreciated getting more for my money.
2 ½ stars
THREE CELEBRITIES DIED IN THE SAME WEEK during the month of June in 2009. They were Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and Ed McMahon. It was proof of a superstition I believed to be true; death comes in threes. Even to this day when I hear about someone dying, I think to myself two more will be happening soon. Some of my friends think the same thing because we have talked about it. Not that any of us are obsessed with death; but let’s face it, as one gets older one cannot help but be aware of death slowly finding its place at the table of one’s life. The other thing I have learned about death is how each person handles it in a different way. I knew an individual, who confronted with the bad news about the state of his health, went off the deep end and started acting out in extreme ways. He started abusing drugs and alcohol, finding himself waking up in strange places and not remembering the previous day’s events. It was troubling to see how self-destructive he had become. The people around him wanted to help, but he had no interest in their help or pity; he simply wanted to make himself numb enough to the point where he was not thinking about death 24/7. IF I WERE TO RECEIVE NEWS about my life expectancy, I honestly do not know how I would react to it. There is a part of me that wonders if I would focus on trying to keep myself on my same routines: work, teach, exercise, movies. It is hard to say. I knew several individuals who never told anyone about their life status. Until it became apparent that something was serious, each of them continued living their life as if nothing had changed. I think it is safe to say most of us hope when our time comes it happens while we are asleep. It certainly is my wish. I have always said I hope my death does not make the news for something tragic or bizarre. Though I love watching movies I would really prefer not dying in a movie theater and being discovered dead only after remaining in my seat through a couple of full-length features. My other wish is I hope I get to see everything I want to see before my time is up. And I have a lot of things I want to see; one of them was not this horror thriller. AFTER DOWNLOADING AN APP THAT TELLS the user when they are expected to die Quinn Harris, played by Elizabeth Lail (Unintended, Once Upon a Time-TV), finds out she has less than a week to live. She will need to do a lot of things if she plans on proving the app wrong. With Jordan Calloway (Riverdale-TV, Unfabulous-TV) as Matt Monroe, Talitha Eliana Bateman (The 5thWave, Annabelle: Creation) as Jordan Harris, Peter Facinelli (Twilight franchise, Nurse Jackie-TV) as Dr. Sullivan and Dillon Lane (Better Things-TV, Here and Now-TV) as Evan; this film’s story was an unholy marriage of high tech and ancient lore. I thought Elizabeth had potential here, but the script made sure that never happened. The story was odd from the start and as time went on, I was getting increasingly bored. The film was pretty much a series of shock/surprise sequences; a tired formula by itself to tell a story. I felt the story needed to go through a few revisions to make better sense of it. Also, if they wanted this to be listed as a horror film it needed to add more suspense to build up the scary parts. After sitting through this picture, I hope I will not have to experience it in threes because of the extra scene I saw at the film’s ending credits.
1 ½ stars
SADLY, IT DID CROSS MY MIND IF any of the theater patrons were looking at me as a threat; these are the times we live in now. I was the only one, as far as I could see, who was wearing a jacket inside the theater. Following my usual routine, I was standing outside in the hallway of the theater waiting for the previews to begin. I was observing the people walking in and then guessing if they were here to see the same movie as me. There was so much buzz about today’s film, I assumed it would only make people more curious to see it. With the film being shown in several of the movie theaters of the multiplex, I watched as the people filtered into the individual theaters that lined the long hallway. Sure enough, there were several couples who had their children with them to see this picture. I cannot tell you how much this always upsets me; taking young children to R rated films, especially when the rating is meant for the level of violence depicted in the movie. As I was looking at these families, I wondered what affect this film would have on these young kids. From there my mind began wandering off, where I started remembering some of my classmates when I was back in school. IT SEEMED AS IF EACH CLASSROOM had at least one bully, one creepy and one scary student. I think I mentioned in a past movie review a student I knew who was unkind to animals. He was not someone I ever associated with and for good reason. There was also a classmate who found it funny to make snowballs with a rock in the center of them. He equally enjoyed throwing these snowballs at kids and buses. I can still remember the feeling I had around certain students; they never showed any remorse or concern for the individuals they harmed. They scared me, causing me to always be cautious around them. Anytime I would see one of them in the hallway between classes, I would veer off as far as I could to the side, so as not to get in close contact with them. As I am writing this review, I am now recalling how one of these scary students wanted to enlist in the military so he could kill people. What I have just written in this review is to show you how today’s dramatic, crime thriller affected me when I went to see it. BEFORE THERE WAS A BATMAN THERE was Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix (Her, You Were Never Really Here), who wanted to be a stand-up comic. How in the world did telling jokes turn into a deadly profession? Find out in this film festival winning movie. With Robert De Niro (The Comedian, Dirty Grandpa) as Murray Franklin, Zazie Beetz (Geostorm, Deadpool 2) as Sophie Dumond, Frances Conroy (The Aviator, Six Feet Under-TV) as Penny Fleck and Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider, Person of Interest-TV) as Thomas Wayne; this film was disturbing to watch. Joaquin was unbelievable in the role. Having lost 52 pounds, I had a hard time looking at Joaquin; most of his bones had become prominent. The story plotted out a logical progression in the transformation of his character; however, there were times I felt it was predictable and reminiscent of a couple of other films I had seen in the past. With both the script and the filming having a darkness to it; I could understand the concerns people have expressed about this origin story. Ultimately this is a fictional film movie based on a cartoon character; but, it certainly will make you wonder.
I DON’T THINK I WOULD HAVE been as upset if the packaging had been different; but the fact that the bag looked identical to the name brand product, annoyed me to no end. During my weekly grocery shopping excursion, I picked up a bag of chopped lettuce and threw it into my shopping cart. I buy bagged lettuce every week; it is a staple in my household. When it came time to open the bag to make a salad, I noticed the pieces of lettuce were smaller than usual and several pieces were wilted already. Looking for the best by date on the bag, I realized the brand was different from the one I always bought; it was the grocery store’s private brand. I had no idea because as I said the packaging was so like my brand. Now I am not bad-mouthing store branded products, but it bugs me that they make their products look just like the name brand ones. I perceive it as an act of deception instead of a sign of flattery. In my pantry there are several store branded products, so I don’t have a problem using them. To be honest, some of them taste the same as the national brands; but some just do not have the same quality. I DO UNDERSTAND THE MARKETING THAT goes behind these products. They are usually cheaper priced versions where the store can increase their profit margins by the sale of their own items. In my mind the reason a product is made to look like another product is to trick the shopper into thinking they have the original brand, just like what happened to me. All it takes is for a consumer to try the private brand and then hope they realize the thing they bought is fine, which will turn them into a devoted shopper of the store’s brand. If the package looked nothing like the original brand, a consumer could easily skip over it to reach for the one they have always used in their household; I truly understand the thinking behind this, but I still do not like it. I remember trying a store branded roll of paper towels and I took an immediate dislike to them. They were not as soft or absorbent as my chosen brand. They were a good price on sale, so I was willing to take a chance. This is the type of marketing I prefer where I do not feel I am being manipulated and I am getting something in return for trying the item, a sale price. Now I only wish I would have gotten a discount on my theater ticket for this dramatic, science fiction thriller. HAVING BEEN TOLD HER WHOLE LIFE by her father that it was too dangerous to go outside, 7-year-old Chloe, played by Lexy Kolker (Shooter-TV, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.-TV) never left the house. However, when an ice cream truck came and parked outside her door, she did not understand what could be so dangerous about getting an ice cream cone. This film festival winner starred Emile Hirsch (Milk, Speed Racer) as Dad, Bruce Dern (The Peanut Butter Falcon, Remember Me) as Mr. Snowcone, Grace Park (Hawaii Five-O-TV, The Border-TV) as Agent Ray and Amanda Crew (The Age of Adaline, The Haunting of Connecticut) as Mary. The story started out slow and lasted a long time; it was not until the last third of the film where things picked up for me. I enjoyed the acting, particularly Lexy’s performance. I thought it was a smart move to have the audience see the story through her character’s eyes. The script was fine for the most part, but the entire story felt like a light version of the X-men franchise. Also, I think there must have been a small budget allotted to this project because the special effects looked cheap. When the film was over, I truly felt I had seen a generic X-men picture, interesting characters but nothing memorable.
I DID NOT INTEND TO FOLLOW HIS career; it just worked out that way. Seeing him on television shows, performing in comedy sketches; I laughed at his physical comedy before I was old enough to understand his humor and jokes. If you asked me to explain what attracted me to this celebrity, I really couldn’t give you an answer. I remember how his facial expressions would telegraph his feelings, where I would burst into laughter sitting in front of the television set. At some point a movie came out where he was one of a cast of comedic actors. I remember going to this majestic, old fashioned movie theater; where the lobby floors were marble and the lighting came from suspended crystal chandeliers, to see his film. Now as I am looking back at that time, the cast was rather large for a movie; I had recognized most of the actors. The actor I had been watching on TV was playing a character that was meant to be goofy. He was wearing thick oversized glasses that made his eyes look massive and had these crazy false teeth in his mouth that looked like he was trying to swallow a garden rake. Seeing the movie became a memorable experience for me as I got to see my favorite celebrity in a different venue. THROUGH THE DECADES MY FONDNESS TOWARDS this celebrity never wavered until a news article came to light. It was not anything near the type of scandals that have currently been in the news; but it certainly tarnished the image (at least in my mind) of this man I thought could do no wrong. It is funny, without knowing the person one builds up this persona of what one perceives them to be and that is exactly what I did. He seemed to be such a happy, caring individual who had the ability to make people laugh. However, what the news started reporting was how mean and demanding he was to everyone who worked around him. I was stunned because I had kept him up on this pedestal all these years and now it turns out he was a nasty man. I felt embarrassed even though there was no way I would have known about him. Having this knowledge now does make me look back and recolor the memories I had of this celebrity. Things that appeared funny to me I now wonder who he must have yelled at or verbally abused to make that scene happen. I am going through the same thing now after seeing this action, adventure thriller. DESPITE HIS NIECE BREAKING HER PROMISE to him John Rambo, played by Sylvester Stallone (Rocky franchise, Grudge Match), would not let anything happen to her; so, he followed her to Mexico. What he found would stir up his past tracking skills. With Paz Vega (Kill the Messenger, The Spirit) as Carmen Delgado, Yvette Monreal (Lowriders, The Fosters-TV) as Gabrielle, Sheila Shah (Saw V, The Poison Rose) as Alejandra and Oscar Jaenada (The Shallows, The Losers) as Victor Martinez. This movie was filled with violence and lots of blood. What it lacked was a decent script. I thought the story was simplistic, making it easy to figure out every move before it was to happen. Seeing Rambo again did bring back some memories for me; however, after seeing him in this picture I wished they would have killed him in his previous movie. I am telling you, it was embarrassing to watch Sylvester doing this role again, in such a poorly thought out story. At one point I thought maybe he had taken notes of several past gruesome horror franchise films to apply to this story. I could not wait for this movie to be over. It was embarrassing to see an older Rambo in such a poorly made film. I do not know if I can ever watch any of the previous Rambo films again without thinking about why he agreed to make such a picture as this brutal one. And that is brutal to me.
1 ½ stars
HE WAS A MEAN, NASTY, RUDE MAN and I worked for him. Being more wide than tall, I think he compensated for it by yelling at people. The company had less than 100 employees; some of them were related to him. I was extra cautious around them, not sure if they loved or hated their relative. Working for him always meant one had to be ready for his phone call or command. He would think nothing of it to call an employee on the telephone late at night. Half the time the calls had nothing to do with work. He would want someone to go pickup something for him, like a pizza or Chinese food. An employee once told me he got woken up early in the morning by the owner, who told him to go to the airport to pick up one of his relatives who was flying in for a visit. Granted he was successful, driving expensive cars and taking lavish trips; but he yielded his wealth like a battering ram, to make people submissive to him. Refusing him meant there was a good chance you would not get a raise in your salary. I was so grateful I did not have much contact with him while I worked there. IT TURNS OUT THAT OWNER WAS one of many individuals I encountered who used their wealth as a weapon. There was the relative who consistently told friends and family what they “should” do with their lives. Since this relative felt they were successful and wealthy, they had the right to tell other people what they did wrong, both in life and career. From my dealings with people of wealth, I realized being wealthy does not necessarily mean one has brains and/or good taste. Sure, a rich person could spend a small fortune on decorating their home, but that does not mean it would be considered a beautiful and comfortable place. I had a friend who would only buy designer clothing. By that, I mean clothes where the designer’s name is prominently displayed on the clothing. They thought they looked great in outfits; but I am here to tell you, some of the stuff they wore was impractical and unattractive. The way I see it, people who showoff their wealth or yield it to get their way are ugly inside. Not that I am stereotyping here; for there are many wealthy people who do not advertise their financial status and do good things. But if you are looking for them you will not find them in this mystery horror thriller. ON HER WEDDING DAY GRACE, PLAYED by Samara Weaving (Home and Away-TV; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) was not only marrying the love of her life, she was getting his entire family. It turns out that would not be a good thing. With Adam Brody (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, CHIPS) as Daniel Le Domas, Mark O’Brien (Arrival, The Front Runner) as Alex Le Domas, Henry Czerny (The Other Half, Clear and Present Danger) as Tony Le Domas and Andie MacDowell (Hudson Hawk, Four Weddings and a Funeral) as Becky Le Domas; this biting satire was bloody wild. And I do mean bloody. I not only thought Samara was great in this role, I thought the entire cast did a spot-on job with their characters. The script was filled with humor and horror; but written in such a smart way that it felt like I was on a carnival ride while watching this picture. Even if I did not have my history with unpleasant wealthy people, I would still appreciate the social commentary being done in the script. Despite my uncomfortableness with bloody scenes, watching this film was like finding something special on a scavenger hunt. It really stood out from the usual films in this genre. There were several scenes with blood and violence.
I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY SOME people are so hellbent on proving someone wrong. They seem as if they get immense pleasure out of them being right and you being wrong. I will never forget this one individual who was such a stickler on details, that he would interrupt a person from talking just to correct them. The conversation was about a new restaurant and the individual was telling us the place was in the middle of the block. This person who likes being right had to interject himself into the conversation to let the teller know the restaurant was three doors down from the end of the block. Can you believe it? I think anyone who planned on going to try the restaurant would be able to find it from “being in the middle of the block.” But this individual needed, for some reason, to show everyone they were right. I am sure others in the group were thinking the same thing that I was: What is up with this person? There are several reasons I could come up with to explain this person’s behavior, from lack of confidence to possibly OCD tendencies; but to delve into it, would take up the space for today’s movie review. BESIDES HAVING EXPERIENCED SITUATIONS LIKE THE one I mentioned above, I have been the one who believed was right about an issue. I was listening to my friend talk about a friend of hers who needed help in cleaning up a room in her house. There were heavy pieces of furniture and a lot of clutter that prevented her from moving through the room in her condition. My friend agreed and set a date to come over to the house. When she got there, she discovered there was more to the story. To get to the room, she would need to clean the hallway of its stuff consisting of boxes and piles of papers. I told my friend she better be careful because this friend of hers was going to dump more work onto her. My reasoning was based on her not mentioning the hallway; as if the furniture in the room could levitate over all the stuff strewn down the hallway. We discussed this at some length; she was way more forgiving then me. I told her because her friend did not mention the extent of the work involved, her friend would not stop asking for more and more help. And sure enough, a couple of weeks later the friend asked for help in cleaning the closets; the excuse being, once the closets were cleared up then there would be room for my friend to move stuff from the floor into the closet. I warned her, but she did not listen. It was frustrating to convince my friend of the truth; just as it was for the main character in this action movie. HAVING SAVED THE PRESIDENT FROM AN assassination attempt; secret service agent Mike Banning, played by Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves, Machine Gun Preacher), had to find a way to convince everyone he was not part of the plot, despite what the evidence showed. With Danny Huston (Wonder Woman, The Professor) as Wade Jennings, Morgan Freeman (Going in Style, Last Knights) as President Trumbull, Frederick Schmidt (Brimstone, Patient Zero) as Travis Cole and Piper Perabo (The Prestige, Imagine Me & You) as Leah Banning; this 3rdin the film franchise was unimaginative with its script. The story was basic, and I was able to quickly figure out the bad guys. The main driver to this picture was the action. It was good but not exceptionally good. Being a basic good guys/bad guys battle, the scenes were mostly filled with explosions and fights; nothing new or real exciting here. Not that I have to be the right one, but you don’t need to rush to see this picture. And certainly not for a full priced admission.
IT WAS EVIDENT EVERY HOUSE ON the block had life inside of it, except for the house on the corner. Where each owner kept up the maintenance of their home, thie one on the corner looked abandoned. It was the only house that was painted in a dark brown color, from the wood siding to the shutters to the gutters. No other house had such a dark color scheme; instead, mostly white and light-colored paints were used for them. This dark house had tall bushes that nearly covered up the fencing that outlined the property. There were a couple of old trees in the front yard that towered over the house, letting their tired branches droop down to obscure the view of the place for any passerby. From my time living on the block I had never seen anyone walking in or out of that house. I don’t recall any child even stopping there for Halloween; I never did. With a tall, wrought iron gate guarding the sidewalk leading up to the front steps; I always assumed that gate was placed there to keep people out. However, from the rumors I had heard in the neighborhood; the gate may have been placed there to keep one or more of the residents from escaping. By the time I moved away I never found out what was the truth. AS A KID THERE WERE A VARIETY of rumors that would get passed throughout the school. Because I did not know better, I had no idea which rumors were based on a kernel of truth and which ones were total fabrications. There was one student, a bully, who used to pick on other kids. As far as I knew, no one would stand up to him because we had heard his Dad was either the chief of police or someone just as important on the police force. There was another student who everyone knew was mean to animals. If he was not focusing a magnifying glass in the sunlight onto an insect to burn it alive, he was tying up the hind legs of someone’s pet just to see the animal struggle. The rumor I had heard was his parents were extremely strict with him, to the point they would beat him with a belt or electrical cord. Back then all I could do was assume the rumors were true; now, I would have done something to try and help those poor animals. There is always a reason why rumors get started by someone, I feel. This horror thriller will show you what can happen when there is a rumor going around the neighborhood. CHECKING OUT A HOUSE THAT PEOPLE said was haunted may not have been the best place for a group of teenagers to show an out-of-towner. When you are already fearful what more could scare you? This mystery story starred Zoe Margaret Colletti (Annie, Wildlife) as Stella Nicholis, Michael Garza (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1; Wayward Pines-TV) as Ramon Morales, Gabriel Rush (Moonrise Kingdom, No Letting Go) as Auggie Hilderbrandt, Dean Norris (Total Recall, Breaking Bad-TV) as Roy Nicholis and Gil Bellows (3 Days in Havana, The Shawshank Redemption) as Chief Turner. I was not aware this film was based on a book series for teenagers; however, I thought some of the imagery in this film was well done. There were moments of dread and creepiness. The teenage characters were stereotypes that the actors handled admirably. For those of you who are squeamish; the scary parts had more imagination than other horror films that depend on blood and violence. The horror in this picture was more creative without the use of blood. After watching this movie, I think I am going to start to pay closer attention to rumors.
2 3/4 stars
THE WORDS KEPT REVERBERATING INSIDE my head. I had never heard them before; wait, that is not exactly right. I had heard those words before, but they were never spoken to me. Now, I was the recipient of these words and was feeling as if my life was going to change forever. No more standing by myself; no more groans or dirty looks from others. Here right in the middle of the school gymnasium I was the first person the team captain asked to be on his team! This had never, never happened to me before. Usually whenever the PE instructor picked two students to be team captains, I was always the last one picked. To tell you the truth I did not blame them. I did not enjoy team sports, I was not good at playing them and I did not have a killer mentality. All of that changed however, when students saw me throw a ball. The only reason they witnessed it was because I was the last person on the team who had not been tagged out. Granted, I was hiding behind players to avoid getting hit with the ball. So, there I was left defending our side against three opposing team players. I tagged each of them out due to my precise, fast and hard throwing of the ball. The students were shocked. MY WORLD CHANGED FROM THAT POINT on or at least I thought so. Students in gym class who had never spoken a word to me or only uttered derogative words my way were acknowledging my presence. I was not as fearful of walking into the locker room and gymnasium expecting to get bullied or abused. It was a surreal time for me. In fact, there was talk about me trying out for the pitcher position on the baseball team. If you are wondering if this all sounds too good to be true, you are right. My time in the spotlight was short-lived. A transfer student arrived who excelled in sports. He could hit, throw, shoot and pass a ball; plus, he was fit and trim instead of fat and chunky. I was immediately discarded and returned to the back of the line, so to speak. No one wanted me on their team anymore. I could live with it; but, when the nasty comments and abusive contact started up again, I had a hard time coping. I desperately wanted to get out of that school. Watching the main character in this action thriller, I could relate to how she must have been feeling. UNDER HER STYLISH VENEER ANNA, PLAYED by Sasha Luss (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets), had a lethal set of skills that people wanted to exploit. They were not interested in anything else, which was a mistake. With Helen Mirren (The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Woman in Gold) as Olga, Luke Evans (Beauty and the Beast, High-Rise) as Alex Tchenkov, Cillian Murphy (The Party, In the Heart of the Sea) as Lenny Miller and newcomer Lera Abova as Maud; this movie had potential. I could have gotten into the story, but it stayed locked on the repeat button. There was nothing imaginative about the story. If Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde had not been made, maybe I would have been more forgiving with this picture. However, I was periodically getting bored. Now there were some fight scenes that were fun to watch, and I enjoyed some of the plot twists; but overall, there was not much creativity in the story or the script. For the life of me I could not understand why Helen took the role in the film, but I was glad she did; she did her best with what she was given. Given the choices out there, this movie is not one that need be chosen for your viewing pleasure.
1 ¾ stars