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Would you stand by your child if she was slowly dying of a gruesome and highly contagious illness? Thatâs the central question that Arnold Schwarzenegger has to face in âMaggie,â a terminal illness drama where the malady at hand involves morphing into a member of the flesh-eating undead.
Director Henry Hobsonâs film imagines a world devastated by zombies â although no one ever says that word. Instead of turning to genre conventions, though, âMaggieâ stays small, intimate, and fascinatingly realistic.
Set in a small Midwestern town, society is still tenuously functioning amid the breakout. Hospitals diagnose the afflicted and set terms for mandatory quarantines before the diseased turn truly dangerous. The police, also, are there to enforce. Other institutions, though, are all but abandoned. Gas stations are empty and electricity is unreliable.
For many, life continues as normally as possible. There are no rogue bands of hostile survivalists competing over bunkers and land and no massive zombie armies attacking. âMaggieâ is zombie tale that is more interested in the microcosm â the effects of the virus on the family unit and the community, not the shocks and thrills of an all-out war.
If this seems like a surprising choice for Schwarzenegger, it is. Even more surprising? Heâs pretty great.
The heart of the movie is the relationship between Wade (Schwarzenegger) and his teenage daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin). Sheâs infected and missing when the film starts, but Wade searches for two weeks to find her and bring her back to the country home that he shares with his new wife (Joely Richardson) and their young children.
There, Wade waits for Maggie to transform, trying to spend as much time with her as possible in the interim. Maggie, in turn, fluctuates between all the emotions of dealing with a life cut too short â and her fatal, itchy and grotesque wound.
There are a few jump scares and horror movie elements that help to break up the melodrama. Maggieâs carefully designed physical transformation is punctuated by frightening visions of whatâs to come â even if itâs unclear whether theyâre nightmares or symptoms.
Still, everything is restrained. Schwarzeneggerâs Wade only resorts to violence when protecting Maggie, and even those moments seem to be done reluctantly. His despair is evident in his physicality and his eyes throughout.
Many of the scenes take place around the dinner table â some tense, some funny, but all with the heavy fear of the inevitable hanging over every moment.
Some of the more affecting parts involve Schwarzenegger weighing his options with various friends. The horrifying reality is that death is really the only solution. The âhowâ is the question.
And yet, for as fascinating as the conceit is (and as lean as the movie is), the deep emotions at play donât really hit as well as they should. Part of the problem is the distracting look of the film. âMaggieâ appears as though it was shot through a variety of Instagram filters â a dusty grey for the exteriors, and a warm, oversaturated orange for the interiors.
Also, even at a brisk 95 minutes, the runtime feels like a stretch.
Maybe Hobson â a title designer in his feature debut â wasnât going for tearjerker, though.
âMaggie,â ultimately, is a fascinating experiment in genre that has captured a side of Schwarzenegger that the movies have not seen before â an impressive, exciting and worthy accomplishment in and of itself.
âMaggie,â a Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for âdisturbing thematic material including bloody images, and some language.â Running time: 95 minutes. Two stars out of four.
DeFUNIAK SPRINGS â The Florida Chautauqua Theatre, 840 Baldwin Ave., presents âWilly Wonkaâ at 7 p.m. May 8 and 9 and at 2:30 p.m. May 10.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students ages 22 and under. Call892-9494 or email email@example.com.
Shown here are cast members in a recent rehearsal. Roald Dahl's timeless story of the world-famous candymaker features âThe Candy Manâ and the other enchanting songs from the 1971 film along with new songs by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
âWilly Wonkaâ follows the enigmatic candy manufacturer in his quest to find an heir, as he stages a contest by hiding Golden Tickets in five of his candy bars. Four of the five winning children are insufferable brats with equally insufferable parents.
The fifth is a likeable young lad named Charlie Bucket who takes the tour in the company of his amiable grandfather. Join the Florida Chautauqua Theatre on this delightful journey of pure imagination!
Miguel Dakota and the Differents are coming to the Gulf Coast for several shows. Miguel was born in Fort Walton Beach in 1992 and attended Rocky Bayou Christian School and Liza Jackson Preparatory School until his family moved to Colorado in 2006.
He was a finalist on last seasonâs âAmerica's Got Talent.â
Part of the proceeds from their appearances will benefit the Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center.
Scheduled are: May 8, Mango's on the Bayou in Fort Walton Beach 7 â 9 p.m.; May 9, Funky Blues Shack (Baytowne) 8 p.m.
Want a few suggestions for what to do, where to go and who to see? Youâll find them here each week. Look for details and more ideas throughout Showcase.
Concerts at Landing: The City of Fort Walton Beach and 102.1 the Wave present Concerts at the Landing. The free concerts begin at 6 p.m. at Fort Walton Landing Park each Friday evening and showcase some of the most popular performing artists on the Emerald Coast. For more details, visit the website http://fwb.org/concerts2015/
âWilly Wonkaâ: The Florida Chautauqua Theatre in DeFuniak Springs, 840 Baldwin Ave., presents âWilly Wonkaâ at 7 p.m. May 8 and 9 and at 2:30 p.m. May 10. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students ages 22 and under. Call892-9494 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
âWe Were Soldiers Tooâ: The Air Force Enlisted Village and the Arc of Walton County will present a special performance of âWe Were Soldiers Too âVoices from the Home Front,â at 7 p.m. May 9 at the Fort Walton Beach Civic Auditorium, 107 Miracle Strip Pkwy. S.W. Advance tickets are $20 each and are available at P.S. Gifts, the Air Force Enlisted Village headquarters or online at https://weweresoldierstoo.eventbrite.com.
Military Family Day: Panhandle Warrior Connection hosts Military Family Appreciation Day, a festival at Fort Walton Landing, on May 9 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be live bands and recorded music, a childrenâs play area, military services exhibitors, free food and drinks, with an 8 p.m. fireworks show. Call 244-8191.
May Day Festival: The 9th annual May Day Festival will be held May 9 starting at 10 a.m. in Wee Care Park in DeFuniak Springs. It includes pony rides, helicopter rides, race car game, football mini camp ages 5-12, punching bag, reptile display, face-painting, magician, bounce houses, trackless train ride, kickball tournament, car show by the Chautauqua Cruisers, barbecue cook-off contest, and various entertainment from all genres. Admission is free.
ArtsQuest: ArtsQuest, a fine arts festival, is scheduled for May 8-10 in Grand Boulevard at Sandestinâs Town Center in Miramar Beach. The Grand Park Main Stage will feature continuous live musical performances. Kids rule in âImagiNationâ with entertainment, activities and a student art exhibit.
Open mic night: The Crestview Public Libraryâs next monthly open mic for poets and musicians to read, perform, improvise and play together is at 6 p.m. May 12. Admission is free. The library is at 1445 Commerce Drive.
Bands on the Beach: Concerts start at 7 p.m. on Pensacola Beach at the Gulfside Pavilion, near 50 Fort Pickens Road. The series continues until the last Tuesday in October. Not Quite Fab will perform on May 12. Visit visitpensacolabeach.com for the entire schedule.
Concerts in the Village: Take in a concert at the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundationâs Cultural Arts Village in Destin. The nine-week concert series will be held Thursdays 7-9 p.m. from May 7 to July 2. Each concert is $10 at the door. Itâs free for children under 12. Mingo Fishtrap will start the series on May 7.
Take in fine art in a fine location this weekend at the 27th Annual ArtsQuest.
Artists booths will be open noon-7 p.m. Friday, with a concert 7-9 p.m. Booths will be open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, with another concert 7-9 p.m. The festival will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is free to the event, with a $5 suggested donation to the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, making it a fun way to celebrate Motherâs Day.
The festival has developed into a place to find great art, said Jennifer Steele, executive director of the CAA. Itâs become something people look forward to.
ArtsQuestâs growth over the years is indicative of the local community and arts community.
âSouth Walton is becoming a destination of art and culture,â Steele said.
Are you excited? So are we. Here are the top seven things weâre looking forward to at this yearâs festival.
Artist Amanda Bennett is the Featured Festival Artist for this yearâs ArtsQuest.
The Nashville artist âhas taken two things she loves, acrylic mediums and photography, and transformed them into a funk style mash-up on plywood for your viewing pleasure,â an ArtsQuest news release said.
Her artwork has inspired a whimsical feel for the event, Steele said. There will be stilt walkers, jugglers and more traveling around the festival.
Artists from all over the United States will compete for awards and cash prizes totaling $10,000. Artists will be coming from as far as San Francisco and Washington state.
A number of different media are represented, such as ceramics, glass, oil and acrylics, photography, sculpture, metal and wood.
The festival will feature about 140 exhibiting artists along with more than 50 Cultural Arts Alliance members exhibiting at their tent as well.
South Waltonâs Artist of the Year, Juan Francisco Adaro, will be exhibiting. He is known for his large, abstract and life-size portraits that use recycled materials and natural textures.
There will also be a booth for selected Northwest Florida State College students to display their own work.
âItâs a great way for us to support emerging artists,â Steele said.
Full Plate Project
The CAA and Food for Thought Outreach are teaming up for a fundraiser and communitywide art project.
Locals can paint a plate that will be sold during ArtsQuest. Celebrity and artist plates will be auctioned off.
Proceeds will go to art programs in Walton County schools as well as Food for Thoughtâs outreach â providing backpacks of food for chil-dren who are underfed during the weekends.
Many different musical genres will be represented throughout the weekend, Steele said.
âEverything from bluegrass to classical to jazz,â she said.
The main stage in Grand Park will have continuous live music from both local and visiting artists.
Hereâs the schedule:
- Friday: The Steenos at 12:30 p.m., Dismal Creek at 2:30 p.m., and Blue Ribbon Healers at 5 p.m.
- Saturday: Courtyard Saints at 10:30 a.m., Sinfonia Trio at 1:30 p.m., Max McCann at 3:30 p.m., The Steenos at 5 p.m..
- Sunday: Dismal Creek at 10 a.m., Max McCann at noon, Chris Alvarado at 2 p.m. and Friends of Lola at 4 p.m.
Two nights will feature Concerts in the Park on the main stage 7-9 p.m. with Boukou Groove headlining Friday and Sluetown Struthers on Saturday.
The New Orleans Ramblers, a Dixie Land jazz band, will also stroll and perform through the festival on Saturday and Sunday.
Live art demonstrations
The Emerald Coast Wood Turners is the organization giving live demonstrations at the festival this year.
âThey turn a piece of wood into a piece of art in front of your eyes,â Steele said.
Body artists will also be available for henna tattoos.
Kids will get their own special experience at ArtsQuest at ImagiNation.
There will be live entertainment like magic, music and theater acts at the special stage in this area.
Hereâs the schedule:
- Saturday: Ohana Records at 10 a.m., Storytelling by The Rep at 11 a.m., Magic of Zakari at noon, 30A Dancewave at 1 p.m.. Emerald Coast Theatre Companyâs âJungle Bookâ review at 2 p.m., Magic of Zakari at 3 p.m., 30A Ballet at 4 p.m. and Seaside Neighborhood School Band at 5 p.m.
- Sunday: Storytelling by The Rep at 11 a.m., Magic of Zakari at noon, Storytelling by The Rep at 1 p.m., 30A Dancewave at 2 p.m., Magic of Zakari at 3 p.m., and 30A Ballet at 4 p.m.
Kids can also create art and participate in the Full Plate Project above.
One main tent will house food offerings during the festival.
Bridge Span 14, an organic cafe in Panama City Beach, will sell food such as wraps and Mediterranean Israeli couscous salad. A full cash bar will also be available.
During Concerts in the Park, a shrimp boil will be offered as well.
Of course, the Grand Boulevard restaurants will also be open. Visit www.grandboulevard.com to learn more about restaurants and other shops.
Mitchellâs Fish Market is in Grand Boulevard, Sandestin.
Mitchellâs has a nice selection of appetizers at lunch with even more offered at dinner.
In the menu, Mitchellâs labels their appetizers as âShareables,â and they definitely are that. The portions are generous.
We began our meal with calamari.
Crispy calamari is served with a Kung Pao sauce. This sweet and spicy Asian-style sauce makes the dish.
Other appetizers include shrimp, crab, tuna, mussel dishes and a sea scallop and shrimp ceviche.
Soups include a New England clam chowder, lobster bisque and seafood gumbo.
Salads are offered a la carte at Mitchellâs and are good either as an entrĂ©e or a starter.
EntrĂ©e salads include a shrimp Thai chopped salad with Napa cabbage, lettuce, carrots, peppers, onion and cucumbers with sesame-peanut vinaigrette and a blackened salmon salad with baby spinach, goat cheese, apples, pecans, and bacon with maple-bacon vinaigrette.
We opted for a side salad.
My guest chose the wedge of iceberg, bacon, diced eggs and tomatoes served with blue cheese dressing.
The lettuce was fresh and crispy, and the dressing was excellent with plenty of blue cheese chunks.
I enjoyed a delicious house side salad with mixed greens, dates and pine nuts with poppy-seed vinaigrette.
Mitchellâs also offers a classic Caesar salad.
There are three preparations for any of their fresh seafood items, which the day of our visit included, Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, sea scallops, Yellowfin tuna, and Red grouper. You may also order seafood grilled, broiled or blackened.
With the island jerk preparation, the seafood is grilled with Jamaican spices and served with mango-serrano salsa, black beans and rice.
With the Shang Hai preparation, it is steamed with fresh ginger and scallion and served with soy ponzu sauce, sticky rice and spinach.
And the third preparation is cedar planked. My guest chose the yellowfin tuna prepared in this method.
The fish was glazed with balsamic vinegar and cooked on a cedar plank and served with grilled zucchini, sautĂ©ed asparagus, goat cheese and sun-dried tomato pesto.
My guest pronounced the dish as excellent, flavorful and cooked to his preference.
I chose the grouper grilled. The grilled, broiled or blackened preparation is served with mashed red potatoes, sautĂ©ed seasonal vegetables.
The fish was flavorful and delicious, and I particular enjoyed their mashed potatoes.
Mitchellâs dinner menu includes several additional seafood entrees including lobster and crab legs while the lunch menu adds seafood sandwiches and tacos as well as a burger and chicken sandwiches.
The desserts at Mitchellâs are definitely made for sharing.
My guest and I shared the âSharkfinâ Pie. We actually needed several more people to share with us, but somehow we struggled through.
The pie is composed of butter fudge ice cream, roasted peanuts, fudge and peanut butter, all in an Oreo cookie crust.
Also on the menu are: carrot cake, Key lime pie, chocolate cake, vanilla crĂšme brulee with strawberries and seasonal flavors of sorbet.
Mitchellâs also offers a selection of specialty coffees and dessert drinks.
The nautical themed main dining room at Mitchellâs Fish Market is comfortable and appealing. On lovely South Walton days, Mitchellâs also offers inviting outdoor seating.
Elana, our waitress, was friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. Our meal was well-timed and our drink glasses always full.
Each staff person that we encountered seemed truly pleased that we chose their restaurant and, in a tourist town, that doesnât always seem to be the case.
A final taste
If you find yourself near Grand Boulevard at lunch or dinner, stop into Mitchellâs Fish Market to enjoy fresh seafood in pleasant surroundings with wonderful service.
Location: 500 Grand Boulevard, Sandestin
Sunday through Thurs-day, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
Handicap accessibility: Good
Childrenâs menu: Yes
Lunch $9.99 - $19.49
Starters $9.99 - $32.99
Soup $5.50 - $7.50
Salad $6.99 - $7.29
Entrees $21.99 - $29.99
Desserts $4 - $9.99
Payment: Major credit cards
May is hardly a week old and itâs already been a busy month with more on the way.
And how about this amazing weather? Often we go straight from winter cold to summer heat, but not this year.
Itâs been gorgeous.
Many friends and relatives celebrate birthdays this month, including my sons, and now also the new royal baby, HRH Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge. What a lovely name!
One lucky friend has May 4 as his birthday, as in May the Fourth be with you. Fortunately, heâs an avid âStar Warsâ fan, so itâs all good.
Of course, May 5 was filled with Cinco de Mayo festivities before, during and after the actual date. Our newsroom secretary and Community Kudos columnist, Margo Hennigan, scored a free T-shirt from Moeâs by being among the first 100 people to go there for lunch that day.
This weekend we have not only ArtsQuest â todayâs cover feature â but also Motherâs Day. People often contact me for suggestions about where to go or what to get for a special event. Showcase is always filled with possibilities.
My best advice for this particular holiday: If youâre near enough to spend time with your mom in person, do it. If youâre too far away for that to be practical, spend time with her by phone.
Cards and flowers and gifts and special dinners are wonderful but, take it from this mom, all we really want is to be with our children, no matter how old they are and no matter how old we are. âNuff said.
Next weekend, May 15-17, the Fort Walton Beach Community Chorus will present its spring concert. The chorus is 40 years old this year, its Ruby Anniversary, and they are going all out to celebrate. Weâll be featuring the chorus in next weekâs issue of Showcase.
On May 20, David Letterman is signing off his late-night talk show after more than 30 years on the air. Heâs been waxing nostalgic for a few weeks now, showing clips from the past (something he never did before) and having as guests a pantheon of his favorite people.
Iâll probably have more to say about this a little later, but I wanted to give you a heads-up now about the date of his last show.
Mayâs grand finale brings us Memorial Day activities and the unofficial start of summer. What better way to start than with Lakefest in DeFuniak Springs? The all-day outdoors-centered event is scheduled for May 30.
The same day in Destin, the International Festival will take place at Shoreline Village. Itâs scheduled to run from 2 to 8 p.m., so you could attend both!
To finish up today, two random incidents that both happened Saturday:
First, we were coming home from a visit to Grayton Beach when the traffic on CR 30A in our lane stopped. After the car in front of us went around, we saw that the car in front of him was stopped in the road with its blinker on.
There was an empty space along the roadâs shoulder, and it quickly became clear that the carâs driver wanted to parallel park into it â the old-fashioned way, by backing into it.
As we waited, the driver executed the maneuver perfectly.
As we went on by, I was delighted to see an older woman behind the wheel. Good for her!
Back in the day, my day to be specific, parallel parking was the first thing they made you do when you tested for your driver license. If you failed that, it was over, and you had to come back another day to try again and pay again. Now, they donât test for it at all.
Second, to the ticket seller who charged me the senior price to see the new âAvengersâ movie: Really? You did not make my day.
If Iâd realized at the time that was what you were doing, I would have said something. It was only later at home it dawned on me that the showtime was past the matinee pricing window, and then I checked my ticket stub.
My husband and friends assure me you need vision assistance.
Happy Motherâs Day, everyone!
The Emerald Coast is home to a number of bars that all offer a little some-thing different.
It can be hard to pick from the variety.
In Raising the Bar, we chat with local bar owners and managers about their establishments â what makes them different as well as their food and drink specials.
This week, we chatted with Mitch Omar, owner of the Growler Garage 30A.
Describe your bar.
The best way to describe our âbarâ is âcraft beer to go!â We have 40 taps of some of the best craft beer made in Amer-ica and overseas. We try to concentrate on not only our local breweries, but also Florida craft beer breweries. We also offer wine on tap and have a great outdoor patio to enjoy your beer or wine. We serve our beer in âgrowlers,â which simply means a bottle in various sizes (32 oz. and 128 oz. only until Florida changes the law prohibiting 64 oz. bottles) that the customer makes a one-time pur-chase and then is refillable. The bottles we carry are in glass, ceramic, stainless steel and plastic, which is great for the beach! We are constantly adding new craft beers to our inven-tory. We now have a six-glass âsamplerâ rack that customers really enjoy for trying a number of differ-ent tastes.
Do you have any games or special activities?
We donât have any games or special activities at this time. We may ex-plore that option after we are open a little while longer.
When is Happy Hour?
Since we are not technically a âbarâ we donât have a âhappy hourâ presently. We are looking at offering some specials in the future for repeat customers.
What drink would you recommend?
Since we offer so many different craft beers on our menu, it is difficult to pick just one! Right now Iâm personally enjoying our local breweries in Santa Rosa Beach: Grayton Brewery and Idyll Hounds Brewing. Both of these breweries are making some incredible beer! Iâm also hugely impressed with Oyster City Brewery. They have incredible beer as well, and they are just a short drive away in Apala-chicola.
What are some popular drink and food specials?
I have to go again with our local breweries for our most âpopularâ beers since we opened. Amazing the response we have when people come in and see how many âFloridaâ beers we have on tap!
What type of food do you serve?
We donât serve any food except for some out-standing pretzels made in Atlanta!
What makes your bar unique?
I feel what makes our âbarâ unique is the fact we offer incredible beer that people can take with them: home, to the beach, camp-ing, anywhere! I have been really pleased with the success of our patio. Peo-ple enjoy a great beer checking out the world on 30A! We also have some very cool custom-painted items in our store: motor-cycles, surfboards, guitars and custom-painted Harley Davidson gas tanks. We also have our own line of âcustomâ hand built, cus-tom painted beach cruiser bicycles! They are very cool!
Growler Garage 30A is at 4368 W. County Highway 30A in Santa Rosa Beach.
Want to feature your bar in âRaising the Bar?â Contact feature reporter Lauren Delgado at 315-4406 or email@example.com.
A Fort Walton Beach pair will be featured in an episode of âAmericaâs Ballroom Challenge,â which premiered April 24 on WSRE and continues until May 8.
Justin Guilmette and Kimalee Piedad perform in the pro-am exhibition part of the series â not in the competition â airing May 8 on WSRE at 8 p.m. They have been dancing together for three years, and have won the U.S. Cabaret championship.
Piedad started ballet dancing at age 9, then switched to cabaret at the suggestion of her studio owner, and fell in love with it. Guilmette is a relative newcomer â heâs been dancing for only about five years. A former bouncer, he has the tremendous strength needed in this style of dancing. He started as Piedadâs student and at first was interested only in the lifts.
Now, the couple strives to be equally strong in the dancing. In fact, theyâve become such a strong couple that they also compete in 9-dance, performing all nine dances in the American Smooth and Rhythm divisions.
Are you looking for something to do this week? Check out our suggestions.
Chow down on crawfish: The Fiesta of Five Flags presents the 31st annual Pensacola Crawfish Festival taking place May 1-3 in Bartram Park, downtown Pensacola. The last day is May 3, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Headliners include Wayne Toups, Lost Bayou Ramblers, and Voodoo Gumbo. Call 433-6512 or visit www.fiestaoffiveflags.org.
Check out âShiver Me Timbersâ: Opening reception for the Arts and Design Society's "Shiver Me Timbers" Show is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. May 8. The exhibition features works with a pirate theme. The show begins May 5 and runs through May 29. Hours are noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 1 - 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free to the reception and the gallery, 17 First St. S.E.
Take in an outdoor concert: Several outdoor concerts, all part of a summer series, are taking place this week:
- Hushpuppies will perform at Pensacola Beach at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
- Mingo Fishtrap will perform at the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation's Cultural Arts Village in Destin Thursday at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 at the door for adult non MKAF members.
- The Obscure Brothers will perform at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park's amphitheater Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
- Hotel Oscar will perform at Fort Walton Beach Landing Friday at 6 p.m.
- Jazz music will be played at the Seaside Amphitheater Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m.
Enjoy a festival: A Military Family Appreciation Day festival is taking place May 9 at the Fort Walton Beach Landing from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be bands, a Kidsâ Inflatable Fun Zone, food, beverages and more. The festival is free for the active or retired military and their families.
Take tea: Drink tea with mom at the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida's "Mother's Day Victorian Tea" on May 9. There are two tea times: 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Attendees will learn the etiquette and customs of taking tea in Victorian England. Reservations are required, call 850-678-2615. The experience costs $18 per person or $15 for museum members.
It will surely stand as one of the most peculiar and possibly ironic entries in a directorâs filmography that in between Joss Whedonâs two âAvengersâ films there reads âMuch Ado About Nothingâ: a low-budget, black-and-white Shakespeare adaption sandwiched between two of the most gargantuan blockbusters ever made.
In âAvengers: Age of Ultron,â there is definitely aplenty ado-ing. Too much, certainly, but then again, we come to the Avengers for their clown-car excess of superheroes, their colorful coterie of capes.
What binds Whedonâs spectacles with his Shakespeare are the quips, which sail in iambic pentameter in one and zigzag between explosions in the others. The original 2012 âAvengersâ should have had more of them, and thereâs even less room in the massive â and massively overstuffed â sequel for Whedonâs dry, self-referential wit.
As a sequel, âAge of Ultronâ pushes further into emotionality and complexity, adding up to a full but not particularly satisfying meal of franchise building, and leaving only a bread-crumb trail of Whedonâs banter to follow through the rubble.
The action starts predictably with the Avengers assaulting a remote HYDRA base in the fictional Eastern European republic of Sokovia. They are a weaving force: Robert Downey Jr.âs Iron Man, Chris Hemsworthâs Thor, Mark Ruffaloâs Hulk, Chris Evansâs Captain America, Scarlett Johanssonâs Black Widow and Jeremy Rennerâs Hawkeye.
Their powers are as various (supernatural, technological, mythological) as their flaws (Iron Manâs narcissism, the Hulkâs rage, the Black Widowâs regrets). Downeyâs glib Tony Stark/Iron Man is the lead-singer equivalent of this super group and, I suspect, the one Whedon likes writing for the most. âIâve had a long day,â he sighs. âEugene OâNeill long.â
What âAge of Ultronâ has going for it, as such references prove, is a sense of fun, a lack of self-seriousness that persists even when things start going kablooey â something not always evident in other faux-serious superhero films. (See: âMan of Steel,â or rather, donât.)
In Sokovia, they encounter duplicitous twins: the quick-footed Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the mystical Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). The real villain, though, is the titular Ultron, an artificial intelligence that the Scarlet Witch slyly leads Stark to create, birthing not the global protection system he hopes, but a maniacal Frankenstein born, thankfully, with some of his creatorâs drollness.
Ultron (James Spader) builds himself a muscular metallic body and begins amassing a robot army to rid the planet of human life. Spader plays Ultron who is too similar to other mechanical monsters to equal Tom Hiddlestonâs great Loki, the nemesis of the last âAvengersâ film. But Spaderâs jocular menace adds plenty. He wickedly hums Pinocchio melodies: âThere are no strings on me.â
But the drama of âAge of Ultronâ lies only partly in the battle with Ultron. The film is really focused on the fraying dysfunction of the Avengers and their existential quandaries as proficient killers now untethered from the dismantled S.H.I.E.L.D. agency.
Thereâs not a wrong note in the cast; just about anything with the likes of Spader, Ruffalo, Johansson, Hemsworth and Downey canât help but entertain. But the dive into the vulnerability of the Avengers doesnât add much depth (is the home life of an arrow slinger named Hawkeye important?) and saps the filmâs zip.
All the character arcs â the Avengers, the bad guys and the new characters â are simply too much to tackle, even for a master juggler like Whedon. The movieâs hefty machinery â the action sequences, the sequel baiting â suck up much of the movieâs oxygen.
In the relentless march forward of the Marvel juggernaut, âAge of Ultronâ feels like a movie trying to stay light on its feet but gets swallowed up by a larger power: The Franchise.
âAvengers: Age of Ultron,â a Walt Disney release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for âintense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction.â
Running time: 141 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
Rocky Bayou Christian School will perform Andrew Lloyd Weberâs âJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.â
Cast members are shown here in rehearsal. Show times are May 1 and 2 at the Fort Walton Beach Municipal Auditorium. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Curtain is at 7 p.m.
Adult tickets are $15 and student tickets are $12. Contact Jana Obrigewitch at 729-7227, ext. 4112, or purchase at the door.
SEASIDE â The Merchants of Seaside will host the Joffrey Ballet Concert Group for a debut performance at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
There is no admission to attend the performance.
The 11/2-hour show will include 30 Joffrey company members performing a variety of dances ranging from modern and jazz to classical ballet.
The Joffrey Ballet Concert Group is under the direction of Davis Robertson, choreographer and artistic director of The Joffrey Ballet Concert Group, the performance company of the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City.
âThis is the first Joffrey Ballet Concert Group performance in our area featuring 30 company members who will perform classical ballet, modern, and jazz pieces under the stars in Seaside,â said Seleta Hayes Howard, Seaside Nutcracker ballet mistress and co-founder/ballet teacher of the Seaside Neighborhood School Dance Program.
Founded by Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino and located in the heart of New York City, the Joffrey Ballet Concert Group has dazzled audiences for more than 50 years. The Joffrey Ballet School has remained on the forefront of American dance education since 1953.
In October, auditions were held to select as many as 15 local and regional dancers to participate in a workshop. Robertsonâs Joffrey Ballet Concert Group dancers will operate as demonstrators and teaching aides for the three-day workshop.
âThe Joffrey Ballet Concert Group workshop offers local and regional dancers an incredible opportunity to study under one of the most premier dance schools in the country,â said Hayes Howard. âIt is cultural experiences such as these which enrich and provide classical dance education and performances in our community.â
VISIT South Walton is a sponsor of the event.
Want a few suggestions for what to do, where to go and who to see? Youâll find them here each week. Look for details and more ideas throughout Showcase.
Arts and Crafts Fair: St. Maryâs Episcopal Church is hosting its Annual Spring Arts and Crafts Fair May 1 and 2 at the historic church, 6849 Oak St. in Milton. Hours are 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. both days.
âDreamcoatâ production: Rocky Bayou Christian School will perform Andrew Lloyd Weberâs âJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoatâ May 1 and 2 at the Fort Walton Beach Municipal Auditorium in Fort Walton Beach. Curtain is at 7 p.m. Adult tickets are $15; students are $12 at the door.
Harpeth Rising: Harpeth Rising, a female trio of banjo and violin mixed with cello and foot percussion who blend folk, rock, bluegrass and roots music, will perform at 7:30 p.m. May 1 in the Seaside Meeting Hall Theatre, 216 Quincy Circle. Tickets are $25; reservations are encouraged at http://lovetherep.com or 231-0733.
Burning up Beaches: Burning up the Beaches 2015 cruises into town today through Saturday with the classic car show at the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach. The event benefits Horizons Foundation. Car show is 1-5:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission for spectators is free.
Waves for Wildlife: Set sail with the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge during the annual Waves for Wildlife fundraiser. On Saturday, the Buccaneer will sail from the Destin Harbor at 1:30 p.m. for a 1 Âœ hour cruise into Choctawhatchee Bay. Tickets are $30 for ages 10 and up and $15 for ages under 10, available by calling 650-1880, or online at ecwildliferefuge.com/wavesforwildlife.
Jazz in the Park: Playground Music Center is hosting âJazz in the Parkâ at the Fort Walton Landing stage on Brooks Street on Saturday. Local middle and high school jazz ensembles are scheduled to play. No admission charge. Bands start at 10 a.m. and go until 5. Bring a blanket or lawn chair.
Crawfish Festival: The Fiesta of Five Flags presents the 31st annual Pensacola Crawfish Festival taking place May 1-3 in Bartram Park, downtown Pensacola. Hours are May 1, noon-11 p.m.; May 2, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. and May 3, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Headliners include Wayne Toups, Lost Bayou Ramblers, and Voodoo Gumbo. Call 433-6512 or visit www.fiestaoffiveflags.org.
âShiver Me Timbersâ: Opening reception for the Arts and Design Society's "Shiver Me Timbers" Show is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. May 8. The exhibition features works with a pirate theme. The show begins May 5 and runs through May 29. Hours are noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 1 - 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free to the reception and the gallery, 17 First St. S.E.
Square, line dancing: The Sand Spurs Square & Line Dance club is expanding to Wednesday nights at PASARDA Hall. Beginning square and line dance classes will be every Wednesday night at 7 starting with two free open houses on May 6 and 13 and classes starting on May 20. The cost is $5 per person, per night, payable at the door. Follow at facebook.com/SandSpursSquareDance or call 974-0091.
Four of my favorite words in the English language are âAll, you, can, eat.â
Apart from a short list of enemy vegetables, I can eat just about anything â and lots of it, which is why I love buffets.
I was excited to try Ocean Buffet on Miracle Strip Parkway in Fort Walton Beach. Itâs a new Asian restaurant that reminds me of the old Hunanâs on Santa Rosa Sound, the one that was destroyed by a hurricane.
Ocean is on the other side of 98, which is a good thing. I want it to stay there a long, long time.
Ocean serves an impressive buffet, and when I say âimpressiveâ I mean huge. Staggering. Brobdingnabian. (Got that?)
Seriously â you wonât know where to start. Youâll be delightfully overwhelmed by the choices.
Every iteration of Asian food is available, from soups to flavored fried rices, lo mein or chow mein, mei fun, egg foo young and sushi, to name a few.
The serving tables are numerous and enormous. Theyâre divided into broad categories, such as dessert, or sushi. The choices, however, become very specific.
The sushi serving table, for instance, contains a full compliment of ingredients for those who want to go the make-your-own route, from meats to seafood and rice.
Ocean lists these rolls and hand rolls: California, avocado, orange, tuna or salmon, Oshimko, spicy salmon, eel, New York, Philadelphia, shrimp tempura, Christmas and Boston. Does that give you a better idea of the variety?
But wait â they have another list of special rolls: tiger, lobster, Phoenix, Fire Island, volcano, eel special, devil, crispy shrimp, red dragon, tofu, eel, seaweed salad, rainbow, king or queen.
Wow! You could spend your entire buffet experiencing sampling the sushi bar.
You can dine in and help yourself to the buffet, or carry out. Ocean lists each items on their take-home menu. They also offer Chefâs Specials, such as sesame shrimp or beef; something called triple delight with garlic or Hunan sauce; black pepper chicken; and Szechuan beef, chicken, pork or shrimp.
Try their lunch or dinner combos for about $2 less than the Chefâs Specials. Selections include Hunan chicken or beef, barbecue spare ribs, moo goo gai pan and jalapeno chicken â plus a gazillion others.
And my favorite â real ice cream. I filled a bowl with scoops of dark chocolate and peanut butter chip. I had to abstain from griping about my waistline that day, a sacrifice I was willing to make.
The food was all competently prepared and tasty. I felt my $8.99 had not been wasted.
The restaurant is pleasant inside and out. The parking lot has as much capacity as the buffet, and thereâs a long, shallow-grade wheelchair ramp that just about everyone should be able to navigate.
Inside you have a mixture of booths and tables. We sat by the window so we could check out the traffic cruising down 98, but my attention was divided between that, my dining companion, and the TV on the wall broadcasting a basketball game.
Plates and utensils are available at every station so you wonât lack for any of that. And they provided a feature increasingly uncommon at restaurant tables these days â a napkin dispenser.
Our server was unfailingly polite and attentive. In fact, all the employees went about their business quickly and efficiently. You may encounter a language barrier but somebody will be there to handle your needs.
A final taste
Oceans offers not only the standard Asian food buffet fare but also many, many additional varieties. The number of choices can be bewildering, but itâs a welcome problem.
You wonât lack for a parking space or seating. The atmosphere is pleasant, but again, the number of choices is astonishing. The lunch buffet is reasonably priced at $8.99, and the dinner buffet, at $12.99, is competitive with other buffets in town.
I think youâll be pleasantly surprised by your Ocean Buffet experience.
Location: 309 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday and holidays, 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Handicap accessibility: good
Childrenâs menu: Yes
Reservations: not required
Fried rice: $3.99-$7.99
Chefâs Special: $9.49-$13.19
Lunch or dinner combos: $5.49-$7.59
Lunch buffet: $8.99
Dinner buffet: $12.99
Payment: major credit cards
Thereâs no excuse to not spend part of your summer enjoying the outdoors and some local music simultaneously.
Outdoor concerts will take place all over the Emerald Coast.
Start planning your picnic menu and inspecting your lawn chairs.
20th Annual Concerts in the Village
Take in a concert at the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundationâs Cultural Arts Village in Destin.
The nine-week concert series will be held Thursdays 7-9 p.m. from May 7 to July 2. Each concert is $10 at the door. Itâs free for MKAF members and children under 12.
Mingo Fishtrap will start the series on May 7.
Hereâs the rest of the schedule: May 14, Deja Vu; May 21, Shades of Blue; May 28, The Mulligans; June 4, The Pieces of Eight; June 11, The Maxx; June 18, Mr. Big & The Rhythm Sisters; June 25, Tyn Tymes, and July 2, David Seering.
Americana Under the Stars
Listen to Americana music like folk, blues, or jazz at Topsail Hill Preserve State Parkâs amphitheater Thursdays.
The concerts are held 6:30-8 p.m. The park is at 7525 W. Scenic Highway 30A in Santa Rosa Beach.
Visit www.luckymudmusic.com for a schedule of performers.
Bands on the Beach
Lounge on Pensacola Beach this summer and listen to a variety of performers on Tuesday nights.
Concerts start at 7 p.m. at the Gulfside Pavilion, near 50 Fort Pickens Road. The series continues until the last Tuesday in October.
The lineup for the next month includes the Hushpuppies on May 5, Not Quite Fab on May 12, Mr. Big and the Rhythm Sisters on May 19, and After Midnight on May 26.
Visit www.visitpensacolabeach.com for the entire schedule.
Bands on the Blackwater
Set up along the Blackwater River in your lawn chair or boat and listen to live music.
The free concert series will take place Fridays 7-9 p.m. in downtown Milton.
Hereâs the schedule for part 1 of the series: May 1, CrossTown Band; May 8, 13th Hourglass; May 15, Modern Eldorados, May 22; Dusty Sanderson Band; May 29, Category 4; June 5, Bring on the Benjaminâs; June 12, Civilized Natives; June 19, CLASS X; and June 26, Highway 95A Band.
Call 983- 5466 or visit www.facebook.com/BandsOnTheBlackwater.
Blues on the Bay
Spend some time on the Pensacola Bay listening to a variety of music this summer.
Blues on the Bay concerts start at 6 p.m. at the Community Maritime Park, 351 W. Cedar St. in Pensacola.
The schedule includes Reunion Band on May 10; Still Standing, Elton John Tribute on May 31; Crowned Jewelz on June 14, Big Muddy and the King Sized Boogie Men on June 29, Knee Deep Band on July 5, Downbeat Jazz Orchestra on July 19, JOhn Hart Project on Aug. 2, Not Quite Fab...50th Anniversary Shea Stadium Concert on Aug. 16.
For more information, call 850-436-5670 or visit www.PensacolaCommunityMaritimePark.com.
Concerts at the Landing
A local band will jam at Fort Walton Landing every Friday from May 1 until July 3.
Heritage will kick off the free 10-week concert series 6-8 p.m.
Hereâs the rest of the schedule: May 8, Hotel Oscar; May 15, Shoreline Band; May 22, Boukou Groove; May 29, Jones and Company; June 5, Heritage; June 12, Forrest Williams Band; June 19, Nick & the Ovorolls; June 26, Jacob Mohr Band; and July 3, Continuum.
Jazz on the Lawn
Jam out the jazz at the Seaside Amphitheater Saturdays in May from 5 to 7 p.m.
Rock the Docks
A free live concert will take over the stage at HarborWalk Village Saturdays 7-9 p.m.
Rock the Docks will start May 30 with The Wide Open.
Hereâs the rest of the schedule: June 6, Hotel Oscar; June 13, TBA; June 20, GypsyRiot; June 27, Flash Flood; July 11, TBA; July 18, The Wide Open; July 25, Continuum; Aug. 1, The Modern Eldorados; Aug. 8, Continuum; Aug. 15, Deja Vu; Aug. 22, Flash Flood; and Aug. 29, Hotel Oscar.
Seaside Summer Concert Series
Music will sound in the Seaside Amphitheater all summer long.
The concert series will take place Wednesdays at 7 p.m. starting June 3 and ending Aug. 26.
Summer Concert Series
Enjoy music at the Alys Beach Amphitheatre Wednesdays 7-9 p.m.
The lineup includes The Forrest Williams Band on June 3, The Blue Ribbon Healers on June 10, Cadillac Willy on June 24, The Courtyard Saints on July 1, Continuum on July 8, Daphne Willis on July 15, The Bo Springs Band on July 22, Hotel Oscar on July 29, and Roman Street on Aug. 5.
Sunday Summer Concert Series
Spend some of your Sundays at the Gulf Place amphitheatre lawn for summer concerts.
The free concerts will take place 6-9 p.m. and start on June 7.
Hereâs the schedule: June 7, Casey Kearney Band; June 14, Chronic Jester; June 21, Emerald Gold Band; June 28, Whyte Noise; July 5, Dismal Creek; July 12, Old Truck Bluegrass Band; July 19, Red Idle Rejects; July 26, Cadillac Willy; Aug. 2, Tony Vegas; Aug. 9, Neil Dover; and Aug. 16, Fearless Heights.
Thursdays in the Park
Although they havenât announced the band lineup yet, the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will host Thursdays in the Park again this year.
From May to August, bands will take over Navarre Park on Thursdays 6-8 p.m.
Visit the chamberâs website at www.navarrechamber.com or www.facebook.com/thursdaysinthepark.
Wednesday Night Concert Series
Head to the Village of Baytowne Wharf on Wednesdays for concerts.
The free performances are held 7-9 p.m.
Visit www.baytownewharf.com for more information.
For the next several weekends, it looks as if I will be spending a lot of time in the dark.
No, I havenât been remiss in paying my electric bill, nor am I taking up caving as a hobby. Instead, I will be indulging in one of my favorite pastimes: going to the movies.
Iâve always loved movies. In fact, who doesnât? I sure donât know anyone. And May is when the summer-fun movies start rolling out of Hollywood weekly.
When my husband and I were dating, we saw lots of movies, and we continued to do so after we married, at least until our sons were born. (Then we started counting the days until we could take them to their first movie!)
As a result, we saw many movies that were so forgettable I had to ask for my husbandâs help to name a few of them: âMasquerade,â âNeighbors,â âStill of the Night,â âBaby,â âThe Black Holeâ and âLooker.â
Never heard of them? Donât feel bad. I have zero memories of any of them.
Some ââContinental Divide,â â1941,â âDuneâ and âOrdinary Peopleâ â I do remember because they were excruciating in one way or another.
âContinental Divideâ was one of the many painfully unfunny comedies we saw. âDuneâ is the only movie Iâve seen where audience members were handed a glossary sheet as they arrived.
âOrdinary Peopleâ is probably the most depressing movie Iâve ever seen. And â1941,â well, it was Steven Spielbergâs âIshtar,â a movie I did not see, by the way!
My current string of movie dates actually started last weekend when I went to see âThe Age of Adaline,â starring Blake Lively. Iâd been looking forward to it for a while. I viewed it as sort of a twist on a time-travel story, and those are among my favorites.
âAdalineâ was a lovely movie, and Lively was excellent in it, as was Ellen Burstyn and Harrison Ford. However, the movie was marred by an unknown narratorâs voiceover that was annoying and unnecessary. It went on way too long at the beginning of the movie and detracted from what otherwise would have been an elegant ending.
When âThe Age of Adalineâ is released on DVD, I hope they include a version without narration. Iâd buy it just to experience it that way.
This weekend, Iâll don my metaphorical superhero mantle to enjoy âAvengers: Age of Ultron.â Although Iâve missed a couple of them here and there, I thoroughly enjoy the superhero movies.
Admittedly, the trailers look funny, but Iâll probably pass on âHot Pursuit,â opening May 8 and starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara. Besides, itâs Motherâs Day weekend, and I hope to be spending time with family.
Iâll be right back in the theater on May 15, though, when âPitch Perfect 2â brings the a cappella awesome back while âMad Max: Fury Roadâ goes all post-apocalyptic on us.
May 22 makes âTomorrowlandâ a reality with George Clooney leading the way, and I will happily follow. May 29 finds âSan Andreasâ threatening to rock moviegoers. I havenât decided yet whether to see it.
And after a couple of weeks to catch your breath, âJurassic Worldâ will come along and snatch it away again with a big finish on June 12.
A documentary about âSaturday Night Liveâ is also being released this day. Itâs called âLive from New York,â and Iâll cross my fingers hoping a theater here will show it.
So, as our much-missed movie critic Roger Ebert used to say, âIâll see you at the movies.â
Join the Friendship House of DeFuniak Springs for a day of family fun this weekend.
The 11th annual Spring Fling will open at 10 a.m. Saturday at 353 Juniper Lake Road in DeFuniak Springs.
There will be live entertainment from 10:30a.m. until 5 p.m.
Attendees will also experience more than 25 craft vendors, children's activities, old fashioned cake walks, food vendors and more.
There is no admission. Children can buy an armband for $1, which allows them to participate in all children's activities.
For more information, call 850-892-0565.