On the Town: The Meg

On The Town with Lonnie Adams

Do you like the SyFy channel? Do you like their “cheesy” sci-fi movies? If you do, it may help you enjoy Jaws 12… oops, sorry, I meant “The Meg.” But seriously, so many shark movies that all copied “Jaws,” this may as well be Jaws 12. As a bonus, I’m going to see just how many shark-in-a-movie references I can pull out of my hat while talking about this movie.

First off, I admit that “The Meg” had me very excited. I really have enjoyed Jason Statham in his quintessential “Statham” movies. I’m talking the Transporter series, his run in the Fast and Furious series, and sure, even the Crank movies. They all showcased this guy as the ultimate bad-ass, brawler action star. And for the most part, he has lived up to it.

Even thinking about this movie, I had to pause and say, “75-foot shark, eh? against Statham? Maybe you should give the shark some freaking laser-beams.” All in good fun though, I enjoyed Jaws, maybe I even looked for a shark or two in the last few tornadoes on the Weather Channel. I wanted this film to be good.

What I got was rather disappointing. The movie did the right thing and added in a good amount comedy alongside the thrills and spills. A few all-to-predictable moments of equipment failure and a slow start already hobble the movie, but I can get past that. We join the prologue as Jonas Taylor, Jason Statham, along with his rescue crew, are attempting to save men from a destroyed submarine. When the sub is attacked by something giant, Jonas must make the hard call to leave his two teammates to die in order to save the 11 men he rescued. Disgraced by leaving those men behind he drowns his sorrows in Thailand for years before redemption shows up in the form of a chance to rescue his ex-wife and her crewmates from a super-deep dive.

I won’t question how the submarine met the Megalodon shark, that is what the plot implies, before Jonas and his stranded ex-wife basically raise it from the bottom of the Marianas Trench. I’ll just toss that one over into “movie logic.”

Another logic problem I had was how easily this huge menacing shark could be distracted from its kill with some flashing lights. At one point on a beach scene, the shark is being led around by Jonas and Suyin, Bingbing Li, in two one-man submersibles. I did enjoy the cat and mouse action of the scene, but the shark avoiding the overcrowded beach because of some lights had me screaming, “Humans are friends, not food.” Thanks for setting me straight, Bruce.

One thing the movie did great was the character of Meiying, Shuya Sophia Cai. I don’t usually expect the cuteness factor in a monster movie. But this little girl cranks it out in spades. Adding a level rarely used in movies like this was refreshing. I’m not saying its never been done, I just don’t see it. Balancing her innocence against the rest of the crew in the Mana One Research Center exuding misfit vibes at least sets a variety of levels for its characters even if its development is short lived. And honestly, it’s a monster flick, if you want character development go find something else. We’re here to watch a 75-foot shark devour people without chewing. It is the cinema industry’s great obsession in the deep blue sea.

With far less suspense than the Jaws films, farm less jump scares than “Deep Blue Sea,” and far less plot than either, I can’t honestly say this film is good. But something holds me back from outright saying its trash. It does have great action sequences, though there are only a few. It does do well with its comedic parts, especially the dumb billionaire who funds the center. It does well with its premise, but it feels like a SyFy TV Movie that really wanted to hit the big screen. Would I watch it again, no. But would my girlfriend, who seriously live on the SyFy channel, watch it? Over and over and over again.

For a review, would you’re average moviegoer really enjoy the movie? I doubt it.

Ultimately, “The Meg” is a half-decent movie that really couldn’t stay afloat compared to the other big fish out there. Sorry Meg, you’re gonna need a bigger boat.





On the Town: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

On The Town with Lonnie Adams

Can a movie be good if it is shallow? Surely, you have seen movies that a critic may have called shallow or without depth, but later thought you saw plenty of depth. But I feel rather confident in saying that Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a shallow movie. They spend maybe ten minutes developing a plot at the beginning of the film and let it hang there like a sign directing your path.

I’m not exaggerating either, it is a few minutes of Ethan Hunt’s mission briefing that basically marks the answers on a school worksheet saying. “These are the bad guys, check. This is how you save the world, check. This is the spy-girl of this movie, check. This is the bad guys again in case you missed it…”

As you may have realized at this point in reading my reviews, I like depth in my movies. I like to be immersed. Fallout doesn’t do that. What it does do is grab you by the throat and squeeze for two-and-a-half hours. The last thing this movie wants you to do is to take a breath and think about things.

I would agree in calling it a thrill-ride. I would agree with calling it intense. It is like a pure concentration of blood pumping action distilled from all five of the Mission movies so far. It is the first one I would call a real sequel instead of a new episode. The difference being that it doesn’t just rinse off the main characters and put them into a new situation, it brings back two characters directly from Rogue Nation,  the British agent Ilsa Faust, Rebecca Ferguson, and the Syndicate leader Solomon Lane, Sean Harris.

The movie premise plays off of the aftermath of Rogue Nation but doesn’t develop it much further. Ethan Hunt, Tom Cruise, wrestles with the consequences of, SPOILER, not having killed Lane in the last movie. Lane also wants Hunt to suffer as he watches the world he protects crumble around him. You know, basic ‘spy-stuff.’

The action kicks off with Hunt and his crew trying to regain three stollen plutonium cores. His core group sees Benji, Simon Pegg, returning alongside Luther, Ving Rhames, under the supervision of former-antagonist-turned-ally Alan Hunley, Alec Baldwin. After failing to recover the cores, the group follows the trail of an unknown person with only an alias to follow, John Lark. Believed to be a fundamentalist and leader of the Apostles, the bad guys, Lark is the mysterious expected double agent that doesn’t stay mysterious for long. Again, this movie has a very obvious path full of signs for you to follow.

It even openly makes the distinctions of its characters when it calls Ethan Hunt ‘a scalpel’ compared to new agent August Walker, Henry Cavill, as ‘a hammer.’ They do showcase this more in the way they fight as well. Hunt is a more martial flow kind of fighter with Cavill as a straight brawler. Walker is placed on the team after they fail to retrieve the plutonium cores earlier because Hunt chose to save his teammate instead of securing the package. It actually represents the deepest point of the movie as a moral decision over saving one life versus saving many lives.

Cavill’s play as Walker works well as the prevailing counterpoint to Hunt. From the way he fights to the choices he makes, he stands as the other half of the coin, the mirror image, the dark Hunt. Walker is Hunt if he would have killed Lane. He is Hunt if he had lost faith in the world.

While the movie blatantly holds your hand on plot and characters, I would probably call it clutching your hand while it drags you through the fast-paced action scenes, it seems to have reason to do so. Remember how I said the movie doesn’t want you to think? It gives you the answers on a platter because it wants all of your attention focused on the craziest stunts I’ve seen in a while. I swear, Director Christopher McQuarrie must have woken up one day and said, “I hung this character outside of a huge plane as it took off in the last movie, what can I try to do to get Tom Cruise killed this time?”

Okay, joking aside, the point is that the action and stunts of this movie are the main focus as it dashes from one piece to the next. Beautifully, there is such a variety of action scenes in this film. From skydiving to gunfights, from car and motorcycle chases to hand to hand combat, the film tries its best to leave you breathless and exhausted by the time you leave. They have helicopters, building jumping, a foot-chase, explosions, hangings, and even some rock climbing. I don’t know how to find Ethen Hunt in real life, but please send him to the Olympics for marathon running.

The one moment I had to think about a stunt being done was watching him learn to fly a helicopter while it was crashing. But, hey, movie logic, right?

One thing I did enjoy about Fallout is how self-aware it was. With the face-mask gag done so much throughout the film, it makes fun of itself several times and even has the bad guy figure out mid-rant that he was talking to a guy in a mask.

It also harkens back to its more Cold-War roots from the first film with a film-noir-looking Vanessa Kirby as the White Widow. While her character becomes more of a background character shortly after her introduction, she still manages to pull all eyes in her direction when on-screen. I’m not just she looks good, its the old school femme fatale aura she has that I might give just as much credit to costuming and the director for the idea as to her for pulling it off.

The movie also returns a character from the third film, Michelle Monaghan plays Julia, Hunt’s ex-wife, tying up the semi loose end by the credits. Playing on the role as Hunt’s ex, she becomes a symbol of Hunt’s past. Showcasing so many things from past films is a nice way to finally tie them all together as it connects the pieces in style as well as story. There is less intrigue in this sequel than in most of the others, but it trades off for the fun of the action.

So, “Can a movie be good if it is shallow?” Ultimately, sure it can. It may not be very fulfilling, it may not even be inspiring, but it is still riveting to watch. Its fun, its crazy, and its a step up from certain films in the franchise… Yes, I am looking at you Mission: Impossible 2.


On the Town: Ant-Man and the Wasp

On The Town with Lonnie Adams

At what point does a joke become obnoxious? repetitive? It’s a problem I personally have with comedy that I can never quite grasp. If you do the same gag over and over, it loses some of its panache. The greats know that a key to comedy is timing. The right timing of a joke as well as the time spent on the joke. Is it too much build up for too little punch or, as previously stated, dogging the joke to the point of irritation?

I ask this question because of one character in this movie, Luis, played by Michael Peña. Almost the funniest part of the movie is a return of this character’s “stories.” It’s a fresh joke to me that I haven’t seen before in a movie, but I know all too well in my life. The guy whose stories are just something else. Ant-Man and the Wasp takes it so much further with the voiced-over scenes that are hilarious (understatement of the week).

But notice, I said almost the funniest part. There was a scene that I may not have laughed at as loudly, but I laughed inwardly and enjoyed even more. It made me see the film as a whole as a tray of several different types of humor. From a very surreal comedy of the action scenes like a car chase where cars and objects repeatedly change in size, to the anecdotal story comedy that Luis offers, to the physical and situational comedy that character Scott Lang, Paul Rudd, carries in spades.

Personally, I think we found better character development and a better plot in the original Ant-Man. that said, I can’t honestly say that its sequel loses because of this. The story is there, though it builds more off of Captain America: Civil War than it does on the original Ant-Man. And it just enough piecing together of its original film and the MCU as a whole to become a great connection point. However, I really believe the Ant-Man franchise is becoming more of Marvel’s intermission act than a mainstage film. Sure you really should see Civil War before you watch this movie, and as some have suggested, this film actually helps close up a couple questions from Civil War that really makes that a better movie for having watched the new Ant-Man.

Despite that, I can fully recommend this film to those who may not have seen Infiinty War yet. I would warn you not to watch the after credits scene, but the film itself doesn’t even need that movie. It’s like Scott Lang and Hank Pym are doing everything they possibly can to avoid an actual Avengers movie. Let’s be real, Captain America: Civil War was an Avengers movie, even if it wasn’t titled as such.

Ant-Man and the Wasp rekindles this path of the father/superhero Scott Lang who is living out the last days of a two-year house arrest sentence for helping Cap in Civil War. He hasn’t had real contact since then with his romantic interest Hope Van Dyne, Evangeline Lilly, or her father Hank Pym, Michael Douglas. With only days left in the sentence, something happens to reconnect these three as they search for Hope’s mother, Janet Van Dyne, Michelle Pfeiffer, who has been trapped in the quantum realm. Pay no attention to how someone could survive there for decades without food or water. Actually, the film tends to poke fun at itself in this pattern as well. You’ll notice a few quips here and there about the “science-y” stuff as the film asks you not to look too hard at the logic. But hey, we’re talking about superheros and magic and shrinking men, I think we’re all okay here with just looking past a few things that don’t make sense.

A great effort by the entire cast allows the movie to really shine as a whole rather than setting one actor or actress as particularly better than the others. The moments of innocence and emotion between Scott and his daughter or Scott and Hope balance the scales against ensemble action scenes or the funniest parts of the movie. Yes, I know I never told about the scene I liked more than Luis’ stories.

The funniest portions of this film all come from actors interactions. It never seemed to me that one person was the funniest character. Whether it was Scott asking a kidnapper to help him facetime his daughter or Scott’s tense moments with his almost-could-have-been mentor Hank Pym. The one scene I loved the most is such a scene when Scott’s suit malfunctions and leaves him… shall we say, “halfway” and in a very interesting location. He catches grief from Hope, of course, and the hilarity builds until he gets back to his getaway van where the scenes full punchline comes from the serious Hank Pym himself.

Despite all the comedy in all its forms, the film does lose something in cohesiveness as it progresses. The film almost seems to forget certain points at times, which may stem from its having several credited writers on the project. Still it all comes together in the end and collects its pieces into a finale. And again, you have so many talented actors and actresses that easily steal the scenes they are in, that you may not care. It becomes a bit of a non-sequitur as the scenes don’t always logically flow together, yet it still fits with a certain charisma.

The real question you’re going to have to ask yourself is if the lack of plot complexity and the incoherence of the scenes is really too bothersome to enjoy the comedy. Ant-Man and the Wasp is funnier than its original film, but less in terms of story. It’s lighter than most Marvel films, but disconnected. I won’t say every single joke works as some fell flat to me, but I still heard others in the theater giggle.

It’s funnier than Thor: Ragnarok, and more “aww”-inducing than a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It’s a light-hearted comedy that defines an old adage but opting against it. Instead of the “Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none,” it picked the charismatic comedy route and mastered it.


Charlie’s Christmas Wish filming in Gilmer

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Charlie plays a newly adopted shelter dog who is about to get far more than he expected from his new family for Christmas.

Charlie plays a newly adopted shelter dog who is about to get far more than he expected from his new family for Christmas.

East Ellijay, Ga. – Meet Charlie, a little white dog with a big story to tell. His story is about a family with a Veteran suffering from PTSD and a wife and son trying to make sense of it.

That story has brought filming to the North Georgia area, and specifically to East Ellijay at Highland Crossing. The lot of tiny homes next to Walmart was scouted and now used for an on-location shoot as the construction site for veteran John Frost, played by Aiden Turner. The film has actually moved across North Georgia with locations in Canton, Marietta, Ball Ground, and East Ellijay to just name a few.

According to Producer Toni Hudson, the story follows the Frost family when Jill Frost, played by Hudson, takes on a large number of Christmas parties to make extra money at her store, “Jill’s Cakes and Bakes.” As she overworks herself waiting for her husband to return home from the war in Afghanistan after the new year. She is surprised when he arrives home five weeks early due to severe PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Aiden Turner plays John Frost, a veteran with PTSD who faces a lot of issues coming home to his family from war.

Aiden Turner plays John Frost, a veteran with PTSD who faces a lot of issues coming home to his family from war.

John comes home to his busy family and their newly adopted shelter dog, Charlie. However, John has never liked small dogs or seen them as “real dogs.” Coming home early throws a wrench into everyone’s plans and John and Charlie can’t seem to get along. As he tries to acclimate to civilian life, a particular night sees a bad episode of John’s PTSD in town and Charlie is severely injured from the event.

As John copes with the disorder, Charlie is constantly trying to find his place in John’s life as this new person in the home. John gets a construction job while growing closer with Hank, a veteran friend and constant presence at the local Moose Lodge where his therapy group meets. One day, when Hank is nowhere to be found at the meeting, Charlie leads John out back of the lodge to find Hank face down in the snow with a heart attack. John also notices the homeless “tent village” where Hank lives.

As John struggles with his own disorder, fitting into society, dealing with Charlie, helping Hank in recovery, and thinking of the other homeless veterans situation, he realizes that everything connects and he takes action to tackle the numerous problems ahead.

Producer and actress, Toni Hudson stops for a moment before a scene to pose with her dog Charlie who plays himself in Charlie's Christmas Wish.

Producer and actress, Toni Hudson stops for a moment before a scene to pose with her dog Charlie who plays himself in Charlie’s Christmas Wish.

Filming in the Gilmer area only in the recent weeks, Charlie’s Christmas Wish was created last November 2017. Just like John, Hudson said the filming has had to overcome its own troubles fighting the rain and the heat in the area with the characters dressed for winter as well as a much smaller schedule as they are looking to release the movie to theaters this November 2018. The one-year schedule is highly unusual as most films look for at least two years in production before release.

Hudson said that Charlie’s Christmas Wish was born from Sue Ann Taylor, Executive Producer, and Hudson in Los Angeles at the American Film Market. Having lost one of the movies they were planning, Hudson says that they were at her house with her dog Charlie when Taylor just looked at him and said, “Charlie! Do you want to make a movie?”

Now, the film has grown into a something more as topics like PTSD and homeless veterans have become major themes in the movie. Hudson admitted a certain balance had to maintained to bring these heavy themes into a family and kid-friendly film. The film hosts a number of aspects to “lighten” the feel such as two bumbling dog catchers attempt to chase Charlie and the construction company owner who doesn’t know how to build anything. Other soft moments come through as Hudson mentions Charlie is the smartest person in the movie and talks with God at points.

Walker Mintz, left, plays Jimmy Frost, the son of John Frost, right, and Charlie's best friend in the Frost family.

Walker Mintz, left, plays Jimmy Frost, the son of John Frost, right, and Charlie’s best friend in the Frost family.

The idea of Charlie and the Frost family showcases a family look at some very real issues today, a theme that is easier to explore with the independent status of the movie. But digging deeper, Hudson says what makes this movie special is the “heart” behind it, whether it’s healing John’s heart as he comes home, Charlie becoming the heart of the family to grow closer together, or one town showing what we can do to be the heart of change in major issues like homeless veterans.

Hudson took that one step further in one last comment. While she doesn’t have a solid plan yet, she is pushing for another step in film-making. As the focus on homeless veterans becomes more apparent in the later part of the story, it has become more apparent to her. She suggested that she wants Charlie’s Christmas Wish to be more than just a movie. Moving past just mentioning it in the film she began toying with ideas like adding a donation to ticket prices and sales. She said she wants people to “be open” to the subject and to support the movie, support the issue at hand, and support those who defend our freedoms.



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On the Town: Solo: A Star Wars Story

On The Town with Lonnie Adams

What is the most important part of a film for you? Does it have to make you laugh? Does it need to touch your heart? Is there one thing that you need to enjoy it? Stop for a moment and really think about this. Surely, you’ve found yourself disagreeing with critics on certain movies. You may even have disagreed with me from time to time. Still, I doubt you rely solely on my opinion to decide if you watch a movie or not.

Seeing a Star Wars movie highlights this feeling of needing something specific. I saw it a little in The Last Jedi, and now I see it prevalently in Solo: a Star Wars Story. Seeing a movie labeled Star Wars carries a certain pedigree, an expectation. I really couldn’t list 1, 2, and 3 on that expectation, but I will say it slapped me in the face when I saw the standardized opening “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” that wasn’t immediately followed by the yellow scrolling text.

My automatic thought was, “Oh my, they changed it!?” Yes, I am a fanboy. No, you may not judge me for it.

I noticed my thought and asked myself if that really ruined the whole movie for me. Of course, I told myself it didn’t, it just surprised me not to see it. Though this thought struck me with the way I’ve viewed Star Wars movies, with expectation instead of anticipation. That said, I wholeheartedly subscribe to the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I believe if you change too much, you lose what people loved about the series. But this is an anthology film, not a mainline story sequel. I should allow them to be different. After all, Rogue One had only a short scene of a single lightsaber in the whole film, and I daresay it’s one of the greatest Star Wars movies since the original trilogy. It kept what it needed to and created the rest.

I honestly found Solo: a Star Wars Story fun and entertaining. The catch is that that’s as far as I can go with it. It felt like a decent heist movie, but not like a Han Solo movie. It’s a repeating message I have heard from people about the films that try to build upon the legacy set forth from previous films years and years ago. Perhaps that’s why Rogue One did so well. It took a plot point from the old films, not a character.

Still, I hold true that I did have fun with this movie. I enjoyed the subtle humor and the blatant jokes. I enjoyed the always popular balance of sad laughter at a Woody Harrelson character. In a role so classicly “him,” Harrelson quips and meanders around the film as Tobias Beckett bringing you along with a constant giggle under your breath that is so natural, it’s like you just exhale chuckles. Right up to the point where his role drops the plot twist so hard that the “aww” escapes your mouth before you even realize what happened. He kept me so close to his character that I may have considered cheering for him at the wrong moment of the film … I admit nothing.

On the other side of Han Solo is his “frenemy” Lando Calrissian. I give great props to Donald Glover for his charisma and a suave demeanor so thick you could spread it on toast. He exuded the perfect air of con-man and friend to befit his character’s gambler/scoundrel persona. It mirrored well against the Solo I know from the original trilogy.

It actually becomes one of the biggest problems I had with the movie that turned against me in the end. I didn’t see any of the classic Han Solo in Alden Ehrenreich’s Han. I struggled with it for a while before I came to a justification that he shouldn’t be the same Han. I’m reminded of a saying, “You become the people you hang out with.”

When I look at the movie as a whole, I see the Han Solo I know, I see his charisma in Lando, I see his smuggler roots in Beckett, I even see the small spark of the goodness inside the anti-hero through Qi’ra, Emilia Clarke. The movie shows his roots in the people that make him who he is.

The downfall comes with a lack of subtlety in certain things. The entirety of the film seemed to be a linear progression of ticking fan-service and forcing it into a narrative. How did Han become a pilot, got it. Next, how did he meet Lando, there we go. Now, how did he get his blaster, check. Okay, how did he get the Falcon, point made?

It’s not a bad thing, I just wanted some newness to the plot instead of one throwback after another. I felt like Ehrenreich was so uncomfortable in the Han Solo skin, but he settles into in a few parts and fits better. While the plot seems regular, and sometimes pedantic, I can’t say it was a bad choice. I admit that I did enjoy seeing where all the little points of Solo’s past lead into his character in the original trilogy. I had fun with it.

That’s exactly my heart on the film. It was good, but not great. It was exciting, but not memorable. It was fun … but just fun. Was that enough? Well, I did have a pretty busy week, so fun was exactly what I needed. It didn’t have some things that I usually look for in films, but I didn’t care. So, it begged the question of me, is there ever one thing that a movie has to have for me to enjoy it? I guess not. I guess I just have to enjoy it.



On the Town: Tomb Raider

On The Town with Lonnie Adams

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves as the summer movie season is stepping closer daily. Strap in as the big names, big explosions, and big budgets gear up to fight tooth and nail for the top spot of the box office. That does raise a question, though. We’re not quite deep into that season yet, so we are still seeing some interesting moves in some movies. Tomb Raider moves to the newer versions of the video game as the basis for their reboot. The question, however, comes with their choice for Lara.

Alicia Vikander, a name most of you may not be familiar with yet, steps into the role that, regardless of your feelings of the first two films, has a large vacuum from a name like Angelina Jolie. So, my question is how to decide between paying for the established big name and taking a chance on a more unknown name. There has to be a point when the new names become popular. At one point, nobody knew who Harrison Ford was, nobody had heard of a lady named Jennifer Lawrence. I love when I discover new talents. I remember the first time I watched Daniel Wu and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Back to Tomb Raider, Vikander may not be that unknown for those of you, like me, who saw a lesser-known gem titled Ex Machina. Knowing the acting talent I saw in that film, I am not surprised at the details that she brings to Lara Croft. She manages to make this smaller frame girl a real action star. She may even be a little too formidable in the story as the girl who takes a spike to the stomach and climbs a mountain right after as if it were nothing. But to Vikander’s credit, the realism comes with her responses. In fights, she highlights the vast disadvantage she has with some less than fair fighting. But more, she shows the pain, she screams when she gets hit, she grunts and snarls when she falls. It’s a direct take from the newer version of the video game when they show Lara Croft on her first tomb. She’s not the experienced femme fatale that can drop a platoon without hesitation. You see the pain in her eyes with the constant disasters, you see the clumsiness with her first outing. Even if it doesn’t last.

Lara travels to her first tomb in search of her father, who was the original tomb raider, following a comment that they as Crofts have responsibilities to follow. The ensuing chaos does somewhat contradict the whole “deserted island” preamble they set up, but hey, it’s an action movie. Not everything is going to make a ton of sense. Making it onto the island and several high intensity scenes seem to show that Director Roar Uthaug definitely played close attention to the newer games. They seem pulled straight from the source material in set up and execution with a fast-paced, high-adrenaline sequence that pushes and pushes until you finally think you’re actually done with it, but then pushes one last time to another catastrophe to survive. I must give credit that I saw great homage to the source and great adaptation across the two media platforms, something very rarely achieved in video game movies.

For all its glory and sparkle, I still feel the same problem with this film as I do many origin stories, especially in today’s world of comic book movies. I don’t think this film takes enough time to truly enjoy the clumsiness of origins. I love that Vikander expresses this raw, unrefined heroine who is learning what she truly can do. However, the movie makes the leap too quickly from a London teen, coping with life, family, and finances, to a cold-blooded tomb raider who gets impaled, shrugs it off, climbs a mountain, fights an army, unlocks a centuries old tomb’s puzzles, and generally wades through life-threatening, PTSD-inducing, carnage without flinching. You missed the beauty of the metamorphosis, the awesomeness of smoothing out those rough edges. I missed the growth.

I also missed out on truly learning to despise this villain. Forgive me if I nitpick here, because I do realize that we only have so much time in a movie. Still, from the time I meet Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) I never truly see anything to stand out. When he is beaten by the end of the movie, I didn’t feel a victory. I didn’t see him separate from the numberless goons that surrounded him as the stereotypical “bad-guy henchman.” He was simply there, a face in the crowd, an obstacle to overcome.

The true villainy of the film comes from its lack of presence, a name on a box, a voice on a phone. A villain that is not really even named until the end when they, inevitably, set up for the sequel.

I see so much on both sides of this film. I can’t honestly say you should definitely drop what you’re doing and see it tonight, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself. It was fun. It was intense. It was finally a movie worthy of its source. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a step toward hope for future video-game-movies.


On the set of Through The Glass Darkly in Ellijay

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Ellijay has been seeing stars lately as Robyn Lively (The Karate Kid Part III, Teen Witch) and Shanola Hampton (Showtime’s Shameless, You Again) will star in Through the Glass Darkly, a psychological thriller co-written and directed by Lauren Fash and co-written by Susan Graham.

Director Lauren Fash (Center) smiles after another take of a scene in Through the Glass Darkly.

Director Lauren Fash, center, smiles after another take of a scene in Through the Glass Darkly.

Lively and Hampton play Charlie and Amy, an unlikely duo that team up to solve the recent kidnapping of a local girl, a crime which echoes the disappearance of Charlie’s own daughter. The script was featured in the Sundance/Women in Film financing intensive in 2017.

FetchYourNews (FYN) was allowed on set for a chance to speak with those involved in the film as they spent the day downtown in Ellijay at the Gilmer County Courthouse. With other locations including Pickens’ Tate House, the filming is set to continue into early March. Fash told FYN that the majority of the film was being handled in Georgia with some aid provided by some post-production in Los Angeles, California.

Officer Braden, Vince Foster, speaks with reporters after escorting Charlie, Robyn Lively, out of the Sheriff's Office.

Officer Braden (Vince Foster) speaks with reporters after escorting Charlie out of the Sheriff’s Office.

Fash said the film still has a lot of filming and post-production ahead of them meaning they will probably see their release in 2019.

Graham, of However Productions, is producing along with Autumn Bailey-Ford, of Autumn Bailey Entertainment, and Carmella Casinelli, of Bon Aire Productions. The film is executive produced by Stacey Davis and Jim Rine.

Set in 1997, Through the Glass Darkly follows Charlie, a 43-year-old woman recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, living in small town Georgia with her wife. When Elodie Carmichael, granddaughter of the town’s matriarch, goes missing, paranoia shakes the core of this sleepy community, reviving old ghosts and long-buried secrets. The movie itself has become an emotional work for Fash who says she has dedicated the film to her grandmother who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Through the Glass Darkly, a film I’m dedicating to my grandmother, will delve into the mindset of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. The film will be shot entirely from Charlie’s point of view. I want people to experience the dark tension of a mind torn between reality and delusion. And yet, how a person’s innate character can hold fast despite this insidious illness,” said Fash.

Shanola Hampton plays Amy, a reporter following the disappearance of Elodie Carmichael.

Shanola Hampton plays Amy, a reporter following the disappearance of Elodie Carmichael.

It’s rather easy to see how much Fash has given to the film, not just in work and sweat, but being a writer and director on the film allows another level of intertwining the mind behind the story into each character, each scene, and each frame. “I’ve been living with this story and these characters for three years, so everything is alive to me … I know this story through and through, I know every in and out. The creative process was a really long one, but it allowed me to really understand my characters and really understand the twists and turns of the story,” Fash stated.

Fash went on to say that those who know her will see a lot of her in the film as she continues to pour herself into the direction as well as the writing. “As a writer, in general, you’re always going to pull from your life experience,” Fash said. Even the locations show through the life of Fash as she spent her childhood visiting Jasper and Ellijay as her family had property in Bent Tree in Pickens County.

The locations jumped to the forefront in Fash’s mind when she was writing the script through very fond memories of our towns. As Fash tells it, “One of the themes of this movie is timelessness and things kind of staying the same over the years. These small towns, they all have that feel of having that timeless factor to them.” Instantly thinking of her childhood adventures to the area, Fash never thought past Jasper and Ellijay to provide a better set for her fictional town in the movie.

Being an independent film has allowed for the depth of connection between the film and its writer/director who says the film has other restrictions in budget and similar areas, but the freedom comes through the control over her vision she has without alteration. “At the end of the day, creatively, we have full control because we don’t have anyone to answer to. We were able to finance this film through investors and people who believe in the story and believe in the script,” Fash said.

Vince Foster, left, and Robyn Lively play Officer Braden and Charlie as they film the new movie Through the Glass Darkly in Ellijay, Georgia.

The creative freedom is something echoed by one of the films stars, Shanola Hampton, who called independent films a “passion paid project.” She continued saying, “There is a certain love that is deep and rooted inside the script and inside the project and the people that are working behind it. All of the crew, all of the producers, everybody loves this project. So, you can feel that, and everybody wants to bring it to life in the best way. That energy is something that I live by, being part of positive energy is what I love.”

It wasn’t just Fash’s ardor that drew Hampton to the script though. Hampton noted she was close to her grandmother as well, which lead to a personal connection when she first read the script. “Fash is so passionate, she knows exactly what she wants,” Hampton said. “She has been working on this for three years. Anytime somebody has their ‘baby’ and they’re watching their ‘baby’ come to life, it’s a beautiful thing to do and be a part of.”

The connection strengthened with the chance for Hampton to try a new challenge in her range after spending so many years with Veronica on Shameless. Hampton noted that her Master of Fine Arts has allowed her a large range in her acting adding, “Because I’ve been on the show for eight or nine seasons, you get pigeonholed into Veronica sometimes. So, it’s been great to have the opportunity to show different things and to do other projects when I’m off from Shameless.”

Shanola Hampton (left) and Robyn Lively (right) pose for a picture in between takes of Through The Glass Darkly in Ellijay, Ga.

Shanola Hampton, left, and Robyn Lively pose for a picture in between takes of Through The Glass Darkly in Ellijay, Georgia.

Those on set seem to have grown closer quickly. You see the hugs and jokes between takes and you feel the friendship grow even after only an hour or two on set. Graham noted, “We are honored and thrilled to have Robyn and Shanola in this film. Their passion for this female-led project and their dedication to bringing these complex women to life is truly inspiring.”

Fash called Hampton “a light” on projects she is involved in. While admitting she didn’t have personal knowledge before casting her, Fash says her film is a very dark film, but Amy, Hampton’s character, is the light in that darkness.

Fash also praised Robyn Lively saying, “To see her in this role was just kind of mind-blowing to me, because it was exactly what I had written and spent two-and-a-half years creating. To see her take on it was jaw-dropping.”

Seeing the chemistry of those involved, to see the action on the set and the crew hard at work, it is a rare treat to be allowed access to this work in progress and to have moments with each involved. Truly seeing the massive team that works so hard on these projects adds a weight to the film.

As filming continues through the next several weeks, the project will move across our two counties and is set to spend an entire week filming on location in the character’s home. Follow along the journey of Through the Glass Darkly through their social links on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram before it hits theaters next year.


‘Through the Glass Darkly’ filming in Ellijay

Community, News
Through the Glass Darkly

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Residents in Gilmer County are seeing film crews traveling throughout the town this week as an independent film Through the Glass Darkly films on location.

Directed by Lauren Fash, the film will follow a kidnapping crime and an unlikely duo’s attempt to solve it. According to Variety Magazine, the movie is set in 1997 in a small town in Georgia, with Robyn Lively portraying a 43-year-old woman named Charlie, who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. When the granddaughter of the town’s matriarch goes missing, paranoia shakes the core of this sleepy community, reviving old ghosts and long-buried secrets.

Shameless star Shanola Hampton will star alongside Lively, from Teen Witch, in this psychological thriller that will reportedly be filming at locations in both Pickens and Gilmer counties.



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