Monday, March 26, 2012

Heavyweights (1995)

This is an okay movie. Gerry (Aaron Schwartz) is initially reluctant to attend Camp Hope to lose weight, but then becomes more excited as he learns about some of the available activities. He quickly befriends the other boys at the camp. Their fun filled expectations are shattered when it is revealed that a new owner has taken over the camp. Fitness entrepreneur Tony Perkis (Ben Stiller) hopes to popularize a new exercise regime into weight loss infomercials. He takes away all of their food stashes, prevents them from writing to their families, and destroys the inflatable water toy and go karts.

The Hunger Games (2012)

This is a solid movie. Many years into the future of what used to be known as North America, the Capitol has devised the Hunger Games as an annual reminder and continuing punishment for the rebellion of the poverty-stricken districts. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to attend the deadly games so her younger sister Prim won't have to. She is joined from the same district by Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the baker's son who has had a crush on Katniss for most of his life. When an announcement is made that two survivors will be permitted, the boy and girl from District 12 decide to help each other.

The film is based on the 2008 novel written by Suzanne Collins. It had the third best opening weekend box office sales of any movie. Olympic bronze medalist Khatuna Lorig was hired to teach Jennifer Lawrence how to shoot a bow and arrow. The next film Catching Fire is currently scheduled to be released on November 22, 2013.

Witch & Wizard: The Fire

This is an okay book co-written by James Patterson and Jill Dembowski. Whit and Wisty Allgood have sacrificed everything to lead the Resistance against the merciless totalitarian regime that governs their world. Its supreme leader, The One Who Is The One, has banned everything they hold dear: books, music, art, and imagination. But the growing strength of the siblings’ magic hasn’t been enough to stop The One’s evil rampage, and now he’s executed the only family they had left.

This is the third and final book in the trilogy.

Wanted (2008)

This is a solid movie. In Chicago, Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is a young submissive man who is working a repetitive dead-end job with a demanding and obese boss. He takes anxiety pills to avoid panic attacks and his girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend. One night while trying to pick up a new prescription at a pharmacy he is approached by a mysterious woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie) who says that his absent father was recently killed and that he is now in danger. Another man named Cross is nearby and starts a shootout with the woman. Wesley is introduced to a group of assassins who want to train him to enact revenge on his father's killer.

The film is loosely based on a comic book miniseries. Danny Elfman composed the score.

The Drop

This is an okay book written by Michael Connelly. Harry Bosch is facing the end of the line. He's been put on the DROP – the Deferred Retirement Option Plan - and given three years before he must retire from the LAPD. Seeing the end of the mission coming, Bosch wants cases more fiercely than ever, and in one morning he gets two. First, DNA from a 1989 rape and murder matches that of a 29-year-old convicted rapist. Was he involved in the crime when he was only eight, or has something gone terribly wrong in the new Regional Crime Lab? Then Bosch and his partner are called by the chief of police himself to a death scene fraught with internal politics.

This is the 15th novel featuring detective Harry Bosch. Connelly auctioned off the naming of a character on eBay. The fundraiser was for the DeKalb County Public Library Foundation. After 65 bids, the auction closed at $2,917.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

This is a solid movie. An ancient war pitted humans against the magical creatures. The elves used an indestructible golden mechanical army to gain an advantage, but when King Balor realized how lopsided their victories were he destroyed the magical crown that gave them power. Nuada (Luke Goss) did not agree with the truce and in the present he sets out to put all three pieces back together so he can be the new ruler. While visiting the hidden troll city, the paranormal research team meets Nuala who wants to help them stop her twin brother. Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is critically injured by the tip of a spear, but normal medical means of removal only cause it to go deeper into his body.

The soundtrack was composed by Danny Elfman.

Private Games

This is an okay book co-written by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan. Private, the world's most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced on earth, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect more than 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries. The opening ceremony is hours away when Private investigator and single father of twins Peter Knight is called to the scene of a ruthless murder. A high-ranking member of the Games organizing committee has been killed. It’s clear to Peter that this wasn’t a crime of passion but one of precise calculation.

This is the sequel to Private London.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

This is a solid movie. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a skinny young man who desperately wants to join the military during World War II. After being denied several times using different names, he is offered to participate in an experimental program that gives him super strength. Rogers tours the nation in a colorful costume as "Captain America" to promote war bonds. When he learns that his friend's unit was attacked in Italy, he decides to go on a solo mission to rescue the soldiers. His next assignment involves trying to stop the terrorist HYDRA group from destroying several American cities.

Comic book writer Stan Lee has a cameo appearance as a general. To make Evans look smaller, digital techniques were used to shrink his stature. In Russia, South Korea, and Ukraine, the film's title was shortened to The First Avenger. Paramount paid $3 million to run a 30-second advertisement for the film during the Super Bowl.

Believing the Lie

This is an okay book written by Elizabeth George. Inspector Thomas Lynley is mystified when he’s sent undercover to investigate the death of Ian Cresswell at the request of the man’s uncle, the wealthy and influential Bernard Fairclough. The death has been ruled an accidental drowning, and nothing on the surface indicates otherwise. But when Lynley enlists the help of his friends Simon and Deborah St. James, the trio’s digging soon reveals that the Fairclough clan is awash in secrets, lies, and motives.

This is the 17th novel in the series.

Van Helsing (2004)

This is an okay movie. In 1887 Transylvania, Doctor Frankenstein brings to life his Monster with the aid of his assistant Igor and Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). Dracula plans to use the monster to bring his undead children to life. The next year, the Knights of the Holy Order, stationed at the Vatican, dispatch Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) to kill Dracula. He is also tasked with protecting the last two members of the Valerious family, who made a pact with Dracula nine generations ago. Van Helsing is joined by Carl, a friar who provides support and weapons.

The film is an homage and tribute to the monster films from the 1930s and 1940s. The main character was inspired by Abraham Van Helsing from Irish author Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. There is an animated film prequel called Van Helsing: The London Assignment.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

21 Jump Street (2012)

This is a solid movie. Former classmates Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) meet up again at police academy seven years after high school. While Greg was popular in school and Morton was the picked on nerd, they are now working as partners. They feel disappointed when their first job is park patrol, but then they are given an assignment to go back to high school to find out who is providing a dangerous drug to the students. Due to a mix up in their files, Greg is assigned to work with the chemistry students and Morton joins with the eco-friendly group who are selling the drugs.

Jonah Hill contributed to the film's script. It was shot in and around the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. The film is loosely based on the crime drama TV series that aired on the Fox Network for five seasons from 1987 to 1991. The show helped Johnny Depp gain national recognition as a teen idol.

Predator (1987)

This is an okay movie. Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) arrives in Guatemala with his elite team for an operation to rescue a presidential cabinet minister and his aide who were abducted by guerrilla forces. Dutch's old military buddy George Dillon (Carl Weathers) steps in as a liaison and joins the team. They track the guerillas to a heavily defended rebel encampment which they destroy, except for a woman named Anna whom they take prisoner. They notice that something odd is happening in the forest, dead bodies found with their skin missing and a shadowy figure. The team is almost completely annihilated before Dutch discovers that the creature is an alien.

Two sequels, Predator 2 (1990) and Predators (2010), as well as two crossover films with the Alien franchise, Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), have been produced. Filming was done in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Schwarzenegger married Maria Shriver while this film was being produced. He had to swim in very cold water and spent three weeks covered in mud for the climactic battle with the alien. Kevin Peter Hall was not able to see while wearing the Predator mask. The glowing blood was achieved by mixing liquid from glow sticks with a lubricant for texture.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. In 1693 Salem, Massachusetts, Thackery Binx notices that his young sister Emily is being lured into the woods by an old hag. A cottage serves as the home of the Sanderson sisters, Mary (Kathy Najimy), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Winifred (Bette Midler), a trio of evil witches. When Thackery is spotted he is turned into an immortal cat. 300 years later on Halloween, teenager Max Dennison, his young sister Dani, and his classmate Allison visit the old cottage and bring the three witches back to life. Now they have until sunlight to stop the witches and save the town's children.

Garry Marshall who is wearing the devil costume and Penny Marshall who plays the devil's wife are actually brother and sister.

Eraser (1996)

This is an okay movie. John Kruger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a U.S. Marshal who works for the Federal Witness Protection Program. He is assigned to protect Lee Cullen (Vanessa L. Williams), a senior executive for Cyrez Corporation, a company that creates and manufactures weapons for the military. Lee discovers evidence that the company plans to sell an electronic pulse weapon to a terrorist. To prove the accusation, she copies the data onto two discs. Lee is targeted for assassination and John takes her to hide in New York City. John learns that a mole is attacking witnesses in the program.

For the aerial stunt Arnold was required to fall 65 feet in vertical descent and perform a back flip in mid-flight.

Eleven on Top

This is an okay book written by Janet Evanovich. Stephanie Plum is thinking her career as a fugitive apprehension agent has run its course. She’s been shot at, spat at, cussed at, fire-bombed, mooned, and attacked by dogs. Time for a change, Stephanie thinks. Time to find the kind of job her mother can tell her friends about without making the sign of the cross. So Stephanie Plum quits. Resigns. No looking back. She wants something safe and normal. As it turns out, jobs that are safe and normal for most people aren’t necessarily safe and normal for Stephanie Plum. Trouble follows her. Her past has come back to haunt her.

Men in Black II (2002)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. Five years have passed and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is now working as the postmaster of a small town in Massachusetts, having forgotten his previous work involving aliens. Agent J (Will Smith) uncovers a diabolical plot by Serleena, a shape shifting Kylothian queen who disguises herself as a lingerie model, but resembles a plant-like hydra in her own form. Agent K is brought back because he is the only living agent who knows where to find the Light of Zartha, but he must rely on clues he left behind. If the Light is not taken off Earth and returned to Zartha, it will explode and destroy the planet.

The film is based on a comic book series started in 1990. The climax of the film was originally to have taken place at New York City's World Trade Center. However, this had to be changed following the destruction of the buildings in the September 11 attacks. For the special effects scene involving Jeff the Worm, a specially designed vise was used to crush a subway car.

John Carter (2012)

This is a solid movie. In the Arizona Territory in 1868, former Confederate captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) of Virginia is prospecting for gold, but is pursued by the 7th Cavalry and the local Apache Indians. He enters a cave and sees a strange figure materialize holding a lighted medallion. When John picks it up he is immediately transferred to a Martian desert. The difference in gravity allows him to jump higher and be stronger. He is captured by giant four-armed green Martians known as Tharks. He is joined by red skinned human princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). They embark on a journey to discover the path for John to return to Earth, but then Dejah convinces him to fight for her people's freedom.

The heroic protagonist comes from Edgar Rice Burroughs' 11-volume Barsoom series of novels, written from 1912 to 1943. This is director Andrew Staton's first live action film, having previously worked on animated Pixar movies. Filming locations in Utah included Lake Powell and the counties of Grand, Wayne, and Kane. A special screening of the film was held for both the team members and families of the New England Patriots and New York Giants. John Carter is intended to be the first film of a trilogy.

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

This is an okay movie. Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is dating Frank Navasky (Greg Kinnear), a leftist postmodernist newspaper writer. Using AOL on her laptop she creates the screen name of 'Shopgirl' and meets Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in a chat room, who is using the name of 'NY152.' They have a lot of similar interests and start exchanging e-mails, but agree to not share any personal information. Joe Fox's family happens to open a bookstore chain on the same street where Kathleen operates a small independent store. Publicly they start to develop a real distaste for each other, without realizing that they are the same people exchanging private messages.

The title comes from the trademark greeting for a new e-mail message used by AOL. The film is based on the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie, written by Miklós László. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan had appeared together previously in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993).

Hot Six

This is an okay book written by Janet Evanovich. While trying to make an honest buck apprehending bond-skippers, Stephanie is shocked to learn her mentor – master bounty hunter Carlos “Ranger” Manoso – is suspected of murder. Digging through the local weapons and drug rackets, Stephanie hopes to get her man off the hook. But finding time for her other man, vice cop Joe Morelli, is getting harder each day. And it doesn’t help when Grandma moves in, takes up driving lessons, and dyes her hair pink.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

This is an okay movie. General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross meets with Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), the colleague and lover of his daughter Betty (Liv Tyler), regarding an experiment to make humans immune to gamma radiation. The experiment fails, transforming Banner into the Hulk whenever he becomes angry. Five years later, Banner works at a bottling factory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil while searching for a cure for his condition. Through the internet, he collaborates with an anonymous colleague. Ross sends a team, led by British Royal Marine Emil Blonsky to capture him.

In addition to playing the lead role, Edward Norton also contributed to the screenplay. Filming mostly took place in Toronto, Canada, where the production attempted to be environmentally friendly. Lou Ferrigno voices The Hulk. He also has a cameo in the film as a security guard who is bribed by Banner with a pizza. Hulk co-creator Stan Lee cameos as a man who becomes ill when drinking the soda poisoned by Banner's blood. It had the second-highest gross for a film released over a Father's Day weekend.

Lean Mean Thirteen

This is an okay book written by Janet Evanovich. Stephanie was married to Dickie Orr for about fifteen minutes before catching him with her arch nemesis, Joyce Barnhardt. Fifteen minutes later Stephanie filed for divorce, hoping never to see either of them again. Ranger needs Stephanie to meet with Dickie and find out if he’s doing something shady. Turns out, he is…and he’s also back to doing Joyce Barnhardt. After their reunion, Dickie suddenly disappears and naturally Stephanie is the leading suspect. But can he be found? And can Stephanie stay one step ahead in this new, dangerous game?

Total Recall (1990)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. In 2084, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a construction worker married to his wife Lori (Sharon Stone). He wants to visit Mars for a vacation, but he constantly has nightmares about it and his wife says they should visit another space destination instead. His co-worker tells me about a company that can give you a realistic virtual vacation. Before the technique fully takes effect, Quaid wakes up and claims to be a secret agent. He is pursued by several men, but finds a message he had previously recorded telling him to visit Mars to find out the truth about his life.

The movie is based on the 1966 story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" written by Philip Dick. Much of the filming took place in Mexico City. The film was initially given an X rating. The only CGI in the entire film was a 42-second sequence, showing the X-rayed skeletons of commuters and their concealed weapons. The film won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. A game version was released for the NES. Total Recall 2070 is a television series based on the film and ran for 22 episodes in 1999. A remake of the movie starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale is scheduled to be released later this year.

High Five

This is an okay book written by Janet Evanovich. Desperate for money, Stephanie is trying to apprehend a surly “little person” when a call from her mother pulls her back to the Burg. 72-year-old Uncle Fred is missing, and the family is counting on Stephanie to track him down. Fred is known as a cheapskate and a womanizer, but why would he have photos of body parts in his desk? As Stephanie investigates, men keep turning up in her locked apartment – but none of them is vice cop Joe Morelli, the captain of her heart.

No Country for Old Men (2007)

This is a solid movie. In West Texas in June of 1980, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is hunting pronghorn when he discovers the deadly aftermath of a drug deal gone awry. He finds a satchel under a tree with $2 million and takes it back with him to his trailer. Later, he remembers that one of the injured Mexican survivors had asked for some water and so he fills up a bucket to take to him. Moss is chased down by two men in a truck, but manages to escape and warns his wife to go stay with her mother. The money has a tracking device on it and brutal hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is determined to get it back.

The film was adapted from the 2005 novel written by Cormac McCarthy. The title is taken from the opening line of Irish poet William Yeats' poem "Sailing to Byzantium." The words are mentioned in the first line of the poem's first stanza: “THAT is no country for old men." The film won four Academy Awards: Director, Picture, Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem) and Screenplay-Adapted. Javier Bardem is the first Spanish actor to win an Oscar.

Alive (1993)

This is a solid movie based on a true story. On Friday, October 13, 1972 the Uruguayan rugby team Old Christians was flying to Chile for a game and crashed into the snowy Andes mountain range at an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet. Roberto Canessa and Gustavo Zerbino, both medical students, are the first to address the injured. A few of the players plug the gaping hole at the end of the fuselage with luggage to keep the wind out. About two weeks after the crash, an avalanche hits the plane and kills several more passengers. After running out of food, they decide that the only way to survive is to consume the frozen flesh of their dead companions.

The film is based on the 1974 book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors written by British author Piers Read. The narrator in the film is John Malkovich. One of the survivors served as the technical advisor for the film. 34 years after the rescue, Vince Rause and crash survivor Nando Parrado co-wrote the book Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home. Although the crash happened on Friday the 13th, in Spanish-speaking countries Tuesday the 13th is considered the day of bad luck. The location of the crash site is in the Argentine municipality of Malargüe.

Tuesdays with Morrie

This is an okay book written by Mitch Albom. Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher. Someone older who understood you when you were young and searching, who helped you see the world as a more profound place, and gave you advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger? Mitch Albom had that second chance.

This is a sad book, but it has an important message about reaching out to people, especially your friends and family. The author mentions several times his reluctance to cry and his teacher's insistence that doing so was acceptable. I’ll admit that I cried a few times during this book. The story was adapted into a TV movie, which aired on December 5, 1999 on ABC and starred Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria. Morrie Schwartz died on November 4, 1995, six-and-a-half weeks before his 79th birthday.

Rules of Engagement (2000)

This is an okay movie. Colonel Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson) is sent on a mission to evacuate an ambassador from an embassy in a volatile region of Yemen. During the operation the marines are shot at and a few of them are killed in action. Childers orders his men to fire on the wild crowd below and many women and children are killed. The Colonel is court martialed for murder because no weapons were found on the dead victims. He asks Hays Hodges (Tommy Lee Jones), a military lawyer with mixed success, who fought alongside him in Vietnam, to defend his reputation against the charges.

Screenwriter James Webb is a former Marine combat officer, lawyer and Secretary of the Navy. Webb is currently the senior United States Senator from Virginia.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

This is a solid movie. After eight years, former stuntman Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is living in exile to avoid using his dangerous supernatural abilities. He is approached by Moreau (Idris Elba), a black Frenchman who belongs to a monastic order and promises that Blaze will get his old life back if he agrees to save a boy. The Devil is the boy's father and he hopes to take over his body on his 13th birthday. Ray Carrigan is sent to retrieve him but when he fails; the devil turns him into Blackout, a white haired being that can cause other things to decay when he touches them.


This is an okay book written by Jonathan Kellerman. Not since Jack the Ripper terrorized the London slums has there been such a gruesome crime scene. By all accounts, acid-tongued Vita Berlin hasn’t a friend in the world, but whom did she cross so badly as to end up arranged in such a grotesque tableau? One look at her apartment-turned-charnel house prompts hard-bitten LAPD detective Milo Sturgis to summon his go-to expert in hunting homicidal maniacs, Alex Delaware. But despite his finely honed skills, even Alex is stymied when more slayings occur in the same ghastly fashion, yet with no apparent connection among the victims.

This is the 27th novel in the series. The author is a psychologist and his wife is also a successful writer.

The Terminator (1984)

This is a noteworthy movie. A cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from the year 2029 has been sent back in time to kill a young woman named Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), to prevent the human resistance. A man named Kyle Reese has also returned to 1984 to protect Sarah from the killing machine and allow her son John to be born. Reese says that in the near future an artificial intelligence network called Skynet will become self-aware and initiate a nuclear holocaust of mankind. Kyle is questioned by police psychologist Dr. Silberman who believes that he is paranoid and delusional.

Schwarzenegger only speaks 18 lines in the film. Bill Paxton plays one of the punks who are confronted by the Terminator at the beginning of the film. Director James Cameron said the original idea came from a dream about a robot injured in an explosion. The studio had suggested O. J. Simpson for the role of the Terminator, but Cameron did not feel that Simpson would be believable as a killer. Almost all the music in the film was performed live. A game version was released for the NES. The film was released on VHS and Betamax in 1985.

D.C. Dead

This is an okay book written by Stuart Woods. In Washington D.C., Stone Barrington’s investigation takes him to the highest reaches of political power and private scandal. Seemingly out of the blue, Stone Barrington and NYPD detective Dino Bacchetti receive a most welcome invitation from the White House. It seems President Will Lee needs their investigative talents – and legendary discretion – for a particularly sensitive case. For his part, Stone is pleased to discover they’ll be working with his former partner in crime (and in bed), CIA agent Holly Barker.

This is the 22nd novel in the series.

Waking Life (2001)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. A young man (Wiley Wiggins) is in a persistent dream state and eventually develops a lucid ability to control the events. However, he is often frustrated and confused about whether he is awake or asleep and he feels trapped. He meets a few different people and has discussions on philosophy, free will, and the meaning of life. He feels impressed by his ability to have conversations with dream characters that he would not be able to invent while awake.

The film uses rotoscoped animation based on live action. The animators used inexpensive Apple Macintosh computers. The 2006 film A Scanner Darkly uses the same animation method. The title is a reference to philosopher George Santayana's maxim: "Sanity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled." Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise their characters from Before Sunrise in one scene. The soundtrack includes Frédéric Chopin's Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9, No. 2.

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen

This is an okay book written by Janet Evanovich. When Lula witnesses the murder of celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle, she teams up with Stephanie to track down the killer. However, Ranger demands Stephanie’s help as well as he investigates a traitor of Rangeman who’s leaking client information to the highest bidder.

Act of Valor (2012)

This is an okay movie. A group of Navy SEALs is sent on a mission to rescue a CIA operative (Roselyn Sánchez) who is being held captive in Costa Rica and tortured by a mobster with terrorist ties. Some of them parachute down towards the compound while another group is nearby in a gunboat. The agent reveals to them that an international terror plot is planning to hit inside the United States and they will be using Mexican drug tunnels to get into the country. The terrorists have suicide vests that will launch tiny ceramic balls of shrapnel when they are exploded.

The full names were not released of the real Navy SEALs and Navy Special Warfare Combatant Crewmen starring in the film. The Navy hopes to use this as a recruiting tool and required active duty members to participate.

Ten Big Ones

This is an okay book written by Janet Evanovich. It begins as an innocent trip to the deli-mart, on a quest for nachos. But Stephanie Plum and her partner, Lulu, are clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. A robbery leads to an explosion, which leads to the destruction of yet another car. It would be just another day in the life of Stephanie Plum, except that she becomes the target of a gang – and of an even scarier, more dangerous force that comes to Trenton. With super bounty hunter Ranger acting more mysteriously than ever (and the tension with vice cop Joe Morelli getting hotter), she finds herself with a decision to make: how to protect herself and where to hide while on the hunt for a killer known as the Junkman.

The story was influenced by gang violence from the Bloods and Crips in the Trenton area. The title refers to the amount of money that Stephanie got for capturing Joe in the first book.

What about Bob? (1991)

This is a solid movie. Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) is good-natured, but he suffers from many phobias. He feels good about his initial session with Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), but is worried when the psychiatrist says he will be leaving on vacation for a month. By impersonating a police officer Bob is able to discover the location of the Marvin family's vacation home and he travels to New Hampshire. Marvin's wife and two children soon become attached to Bob, but Leo is very frustrated by his refusal to leave. When a television crew comes to interview Leo about his new book, Bob explains how helpful the ideas have been to him.

The film was remade into the Tamil film Thenali and the Hindi film Deewana Mastana. The movie was filmed in and around the town of Moneta, Virginia located on Smith Mountain Lake. The house used in the filming still stands.

To the Nines

This is an okay book written by Janet Evanovich. When Stephanie heads to Las Vegas on the trail of a bail-jumper, her partner, Lulu, comes along to navigate the sequins and spandex on the Strip. And after Joe Morelli shows up, Steph’s nights become as hot as her days. But while searching for her prey, Steph discovers that someone is playing a deadly game with her. Now she has to stop a killer before his final hand is played.

Spaceballs (1987)

This is a solid movie. Druidia Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) is expected to marry the only known prince in the galaxy, but right before the wedding vows are exchanged she escapes with her robot companion Dot Matrix into her personal spaceship. Planet Spaceball is running out of air and a plan is devised to kidnap the princess so they can extract the air from Druidia. Captain Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his half-man, half-dog sidekick, Barfolomew are offered a lucrative reward to rescue Vespa. They visit with the wise old Yogurt who explains to them the power of the Schwartz.

The plot and characters parody the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as other sci-fi franchises including Star Trek, Alien, and the Planet of the Apes films. Captain Lone Starr combines traits from Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, as well as Indiana Jones. Barf is a parody of Wookiees and more specifically Chewbacca. The Dinks, a group of red-clad little people resemble the Jawas. John Hurt appears in a restaurant scene where a small alien bursts out of his stomach, parodying his role as Kane in Alien. Spaceballs: The Animated Series premiered in 2008 and included 13 episodes.

V is for Vengeance

This is an okay book written by Sue Grafton. A woman with a murky past who kills herself – or was it murder? A spoiled kid awash in gambling debt who thinks he can beat the system. A lovely woman whose life is about to splinter into a thousand fragments. A professional shoplifting ring working for the Mob, racking up millions from stolen goods. A wandering husband, rich and ruthless. A dirty cop so entrenched on the force he is immune to exposure. A sinister gangster, conscienceless and brutal. A lonely widower mourning the death of his lover, desperate for answers, which may be worse than the pain of his loss.

This is the twenty-second novel in the "Alphabet" series.

This Means War (2012)

This is an okay movie. Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon) is a product testing executive who feels lonely, and is jealous that her former boyfriend is now engaged. Her best friend Trish creates an online dating profile to convince her to find a man. Tuck Henson is a CIA agent with a young son and is divorced from his wife. He sees an ad on television for the same dating site and agrees to go out for coffee with Lauren. His co-worker and best friend Frank (Chris Pine) decides that he will hang out at a nearby store in case any problems arise. Frank, who goes by FDR, meets the same woman in a video store and the two men compete against each other to win Lauren's affection.

Pretty Woman (1990)

This is a solid movie. Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) is a wealthy businessman who picks up a hooker named Vivian (Julia Roberts) so she can show him where his hotel is located. He likes her companionship enough that he offers to pay her $3,000 to be an escort for the whole week. At a polo match, Edward’s lawyer sees Vivian talking with the grandson of another businessman and he worries that she is trying to gain critical information. Vivian becomes upset at Edward after he admits to his lawyer that she is just a prostitute. Vivian decides that she cannot maintain a longtime relationship, but Edward takes a detour on his way to the airport and confesses his feelings to her, allowing her fairy tale dream to come true.

This is the most successful romantic comedy based on estimated tickets sold, and slightly ahead of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The 1999 film Runaway Bride re-united Gere and Roberts under the direction of Garry Marshall. The restaurant called "The Voltaire" was shot at the "Rex" restaurant, now called the "Cicada" restaurant. The filming of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel lobby was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The film features the song "Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison, which inspired the movie's title. The opera featured in the movie is La Traviata, which served as inspiration for the plot.

The Vow (2012)

This is a noteworthy movie based on a true story. Leo (Channing Tatum) and Paige (Rachel McAdams) are a happily married couple who have known each other for four years. One snowy night after a date, they are hit by a truck while parked at a stop sign. Paige crashes through the windshield and ends up in a coma. When she awakens she thinks Leo is the doctor because all of their memories together are forgotten. Her estranged parents convince her to move back in with them by pretending that nothing is wrong with their relationship. Leo is distraught that he is losing his wife and finally convinces her to go on a date with him.

The film is based on the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter from Farmington, New Mexico. The film broke Hitch's record for the highest-grossing mid-week Valentine’s Day.

Real-life couple from 'The Vow' says it 'would have been nice' to see Christian references in film

Sabrina (1954)

This is a solid movie. Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) is the daughter of a chauffeur and she has a crush on a wealthy man named David (William Holden), but he doesn’t seem to notice her. She visits Paris for a culinary school and after graduation she comes back home. David starts to pay close attention to her and invites her to a dance party, even though he is expected to be married in ten days. His brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) starts vying for her company also. Sabrina must decide which of the brothers she truly wants to be with.

The film was adapted from the Broadway play Sabrina Fair. During production Hepburn and Holden entered into a brief love affair. The film won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design. In 1995, a remake was produced, starring Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear. Sabrina served as the inspiration for the Hindi movie Yeh Dillagi.