Go ahead call me paranoid, I have been called worse; but I try to do as little as possible any personal business on the internet. When I am forced to purchase an item online and the site asks me if I want to save my charge card information I always decline the offer. I am sure I mentioned this before but I do not have an ATM card; I have heard so many horror stories about people having their identity stolen that I do not need to have that easy of an access to my bank. This week the news reported a major hacking of a popular web site; what was it, up to 50 million people may have had their information stolen? I do not want to tempt fate but I have had 3 incidents where my credit card information was stolen. One of those times it was the restaurant waitress serving us who took down my credit card info and tried to make a purchase with it. Fortunately the issuing banks caught each of the incidents immediately and closed my account. On one of this site’s social media outlets I have been reading about a follower who had their personal information stolen and now the thief has been reaching out to all of the victim’s contacts for money. The impersonator wrote their banking information was hacked so the bank froze the account, asking the contacts if they could float some money until everything gets resolved. Can you believe this?!?! So feel free to call me old fashioned or behind the times; I would rather have peace of mind instead of fighting to get my stolen identity back. This dramatic action biography did nothing to calm me down. DISCOVERING where the government was searching for information Edward Snowden, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Walk, Don Jon), decided he could no longer be part of the process. Based on the book “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man,” this movie was co-written and directed by Oliver Stone (Natural Born Killers, Any Given Sunday). Joseph did a fantastic job of acting in this role, but he was not alone. There was Shailene Woodley (The Fault in our Stars, Divergent franchise) as Lindsay Mills, Zachary Quinto (Star Trek franchise, Margin Call) as Glen Greenwald, Melissa Leo (Prisoners, The Fighter) as Laura Poitras and Tom Wilkinson (Belle, Michael Clayton) as Ewen MacAskill. There were times during this picture where I thought the story was powerful and tense. As I alluded to earlier, I was stunned seeing some of the surveillance techniques that were depicted in several scenes. Though the acting was wonderful, I felt the script was scattered in parts. There were scenes of Edward in the military, scenes with Lindsay and current scenes that made the flow of the story a bit jagged. I felt the story itself was substantial; it was the main drive in grabbing my attention. Without getting into the politics of Edward’s actions; based on the story that was presented here, I left the theater feeling like I was entertained. Yet I was more scared than when I first arrived to see this film.
2 ¾ stars
There have been some movies that I have enjoyed watching multiple times. I am talking about the original ones, not necessarily the updated ones; though there have been a few that qualify for more viewing. I also have at times enjoyed when a movie transforms to a live theater production or vice versa. Each medium can provide me a different experience on how the story relates to me. Of course there have been some stellar disasters when one version transforms to the other. I remember one movie in particular that was brought to the big stage, getting its world premiere here in the city. A group of us who were all familiar with the film, traveled down to the theater that had its lobby festooned with all kinds of paraphernalia depicting the musical’s logo. Where the film was magical and imaginative, the theater production was bland and dull; it was a big disappointment for us. Now I have stated in the past that I feel movie studios depend more on marketing for their film decisions than coming up with original ideas. It seems as if there is a hot property or should I say when something goes viral, the studio is quick to jump on the excitement and produce a movie out of it. The studio generally has looked towards novels, history and actual events to generate a movie. Now they look at amusement rides and video games to come up with something marketable. My bottom line is the movie has to be entertaining; I do not focus on where the story originated. With this film I had no idea it was based on a video game. CREATED to be a top assassin Agent 47, played by Rupert Friend (The Young Victoria, Pride & Prejudice), had extra reason to find Katia, played by Hannah Ware (Shame, Oldboy), to complete his contract. This crime movie was slick looking, marketed to appear as a thrilling action film. I can only assume all the funds allotted to this project went to the marketing department and the trailers because the script was looney. This essentially was a long chase scene that came off for the most part as a ridiculous attempt to cash in on the video game. Things would happen in scenes with no rhyme or reason besides the main character being able to stand out in the open and not one expert sharpshooter could hit him with a bullet. Have you ever sat next to someone who never wants to share the joystick to a video game? This is how I felt as I struggled with boredom to get through this picture. Even Zachary Quinto (Star Trek franchise, Margin Calls) as John Smith could not save this dud. Maybe the video game is exciting, but to tell you the truth after seeing this film I really do not care. Several scenes had blood and violence.
1 1/2 stars
When the opportunity presents itself I take a drive through the neighborhood where I grew up. I see ghosts of my youth everywhere I look. Playing hide & seek or selling lemonade on the corner, my memories waken from a long sleep. They are refreshed and vivid allowing me to visit with the younger me, showing events that contributed to who I would become as an adult. It is that history that reminds me how I currently arrived at this point in my life. Director J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Lost-TV) treated the history of Star Trek with the utmost respect for this 2nd movie in the relaunched franchise. The story was brilliant as we found the Enterprise crew back on Earth, unaware they would encounter a dangerous villain close to home. Besides Chris Pine (This Means War, Unstoppable) as James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto (Margin Call, Heroes-TV) as Spock, there was the addition of Peter Weller (RoboCop, the Hard Easy) as Marcus and Benedict Cumberbatch (War Horse, Atonement) as John Harrison. In this go around; the characters were more complex, filled with deeper feelings. Zachary was so incredible that I forgot about Leonard Nimoy for the moment, the original Spock. Chris earned my respect with what he did in this movie. I could almost hear William Shatner cursing at Chris’ exemplary performance. The nonstop action was exciting and evenly balanced to allow flourishes of drama and honestly, giving the movie goers a chance to catch their breath. I cannot add anything further to this review without giving away hints to the plot. Hopefully when people talk about this movie and they will, they do not say much about the story or cast. The added suspense, at least for me, made the time fly by. Also, I felt emotionally spent. Whether you grew up in the world of Star Trek or not will not make much of a difference in loving this film. History is what makes us who we are today; I tip my hat to the current custodian of the historical vaults of Star Trek, J.J. Abrams. A nice touch in the beginning of the credits. There were brief scenes with blood in it.
3 2/3 stars for Trekkies 3 1/2 stars for non-Trekkies
This drama played more like a thriller, taking place within a 24 hour period, during the beginning of the financial crisis back in 2008. Among the all-star cast there was Kevin Spacey (Casino Jack, The Men Who Stare at Goats), Jeremy Irons (Eragon, Being Julia) and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, Heroes) all doing a strong acting job, as employees of a high profile investment bank. As I viewed this movie, I wondered how close to reality was the portrayal of upper management’s cold heartedness towards its workers. It certainly looked hellish to me. The other thought I had, was how one individual could make or break a firm during those perilous times. There have been several movies made already about the financial meltdown and some of them have been quite good. I would have to say this movie is among those well done ones. With a great cast and consistent directing, this story will keep your attention and I believe, draw a strong reaction from you.
3 1/4 stars — DVD