Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tower Heist (2011)

This is a solid movie. Queens native Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) has managed one of the most luxurious and well-secured residences in New York City for more than a decade. Under his watchful eye, nothing goes undetected. In the swankiest unit atop Josh's building, Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw is under house arrest after being caught stealing two billion from his investors, including the tower staffers whose pensions he was entrusted to manage. Josh's crew turns to petty crook Slide (Eddie Murphy) to plan the nearly impossible, to steal what they are sure is hidden in Arthur's guarded condo.

The car in the film is a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso. Téa Leoni worked with FBI technical advisor Anne C. Beagan to prepare for her role. To perform her character's Jamaican accent, Gabourey Sidibe had three dialect coaches help her prepare and practiced with a friend of Jamaican heritage. Additionally, she worked with an actual safecracker. While the actress was born in Brooklyn, New York, her father came from Senegal. 20-year-old model Kate Upton has a cameo appearance inside the hotel. The filmmakers and writers spoke with the managers of several high-profile New York hotels to learn of their experiences interacting with their clientele.

The Bone Bed

This is an okay book written by Patricia Cornwell. When a famous paleontologist vanishes from an excavation site in Alberta, Canada, Kay Scarpetta receives a disturbing message that makes her believe that the disappearance may become her next case. But things quickly begin to change, leaving Scarpetta wondering who she can trust and fearing that this time she is really on her own.

This is the 20th novel in the series.

Broken Harbor

This is an okay book written by Tana French. Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy is a brash cop who plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder Squad’s top detective – and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands. On one of the half-built, half-abandoned luxury developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care. At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained.

Think Like a Man (2012)

This is an okay movie. Four friends spend their time together playing basketball, visiting bars, eating at restaurants, and discussing the relationships they are in or are hoping to be. Dominic is a chef who dreams of opening his own restaurant and is attracted to a multimillionaire. Michael still lives with his mother who scares off any woman who gets too close. Zeke is a player who tries to get as many women as possible. Jeremy is in a relationship but fears commitment. The women in their lives start reading Steve Harvey's book on how to get men to do what they want, but eventually the men figure it out and try to turn the tables on them.

The film is based on the 2009 book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment written by Steve Harvey. Six professional basketball players made cameo appearances as themselves: Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown, Rasual Butler, Darren Collison, Lisa Leslie (of the WNBA), and Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest). The song "Think Like a Man" is performed by Jennifer Hudson and Ne-Yo featuring Rick Ross.

The Lucky One (2012)

This is an okay movie. U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive - a photograph he found of a woman he doesn't even know. Learning her name is Beth Clayton (Taylor Schilling) and where she lives in Louisiana, he shows up at her door, and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that Beth could be much more than his good luck charm.

It was adapted from the 2008 novel written by Nicholas Sparks.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sweet Talk

This is an okay book written by Julie Garwood. When FBI agent Grayson Kincaid first encounters Olivia MacKenzie, she makes quite an impression. The beautiful, tough young attorney has stumbled into the middle of an FBI sting operation and reduced it to chaos. Months of surveillance and careful planning down the drain, Kincaid’s partner is furious and lets Olivia know that she’s ticked off the wrong guy. After all, he’s FBI. But Olivia isn’t intimidated by his partner’s bullying because she’s something even scarier, she’s IRS. And working for the IRS is no picnic. She’s on the trail of an elaborate Ponzi scheme.

Black List

This is an okay book written by Brad Thor. Counter-terrorism expert Scot Harvath’s name has been added to the Black List, a secret government hit list that only the President of the United States has final approval over. Now, with secret operatives on his trail and a mark on his head, Scott has to find out who framed him, and why, all while trying to stop the deadliest terrorist attack the United States has ever seen.

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

This is a solid movie. After his wife's death, King Magnus marries the beautiful Ravenna (Charlize Theron) after rescuing her from the Dark Army, an invading force of glass soldiers. Ravenna, who is in fact a powerful sorceress and the Dark Army's master, kills Magnus on their wedding night. Snow White is then locked away in the north tower of the castle. Ravenna periodically drains the youth from young women. When Snow White (Kristen Stewart) reaches maturity, the Magic Mirror tells the Queen that she can achieve permanent youth and immortality by extracting the young woman's heart.

The Dwarves were played by actors who had their faces digitally transmuted onto small bodies. The beach scenes were predominantly filmed in Pembrokeshire, Wales, on the Marloes Sands beach near the village of Marloes. A computer-generated castle was set on nearby Gateholm island.

Big Miracle (2012)

This is an okay movie based on a true story. Three California gray whales, trapped in a hole in the ice of the Arctic Circle, are discovered by television news reporter Adam Carlson. Their plight is publicized after he does a feature on them, which he hopes might be his opportunity to move up to a larger TV market. His news story draws international attention and sets into motion a massive effort to free the whales from the ice. Drawn into the collaborative rescue work are several normally hostile factions: Inupiat whale hunters, a Greenpeace environmental activist (Drew Barrymore), and an oil executive.

The film is based on the 1989 book Freeing the Whales written by Tom Rose. The international effort to free the whales was known as Operation Breakthrough and cost $1 million.


This is an okay book written by Karin Slaughter. Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Will Trent is finally putting his past behind him. However, when a college student goes missing, Trent is kept off the case by his supervisor, Amanda Wagner. As Trent attempts to make sense of Wagner’s decision, he discovers the case is connected to a brutal crime that occurred nearly 40 years ago, a crime that made Wagner’s career and has deep ties to Trent’s past.

This is the 4th novel in the series.

The Panther

This is an okay book written by Nelson DeMille. Anti-Terrorist Task Force agent John Corey and his wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, have just been posted overseas to Sana’a, Yemen – one of the most dangerous places in the Middle East. They haven’t been given much information about their mission, except that they will be working with a small team to track down one of the masterminds behind the USS Cole bombing: a high-ranking Al Qaeda operative known as The Panther. Ruthless and elusive, he’s wanted for multiple terrorist acts and murders, and the U.S. government is determined to bring him down, no matter the cost.

This is the 6th novel in the series.

The Avengers (2012)

This is an okay movie. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., arrives at a remote research facility during an evacuation. The Tesseract suddenly activates and opens a portal, allowing Loki to reach Earth. In response to the attack, Fury reactivates the "Avengers Initiative". Agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is sent to India to recruit Dr. Bruce Banner to trace the Tesseract through its gamma radiation emissions. Thor arrives and tries to convince his adopted brother Loki to abandon his plan and return to Asgard.

The film is based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name and is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It set numerous box office records, including the biggest opening weekend and the fastest film to gross $1 billion and became the third highest-grossing film of all time. A sequel is scheduled for release in 2015. There are two post-credits scenes. Mark Ruffalo was cast as Banner and the Hulk after negotiations with Edward Norton broke down. Co-creator Stan Lee has a cameo appearance in a news report.

Safe (2012)

This is a solid movie. After losing a rigged fight, the Russian mafia murders Luke Wright's (Jason Statham) wife and bans him from future competitions. He wanders the streets of New York and notices a frightened 12-year-old Chinese girl at a subway station being pursued by the same thugs. Mei (Catherine Chan) is an orphaned math prodigy forced to work for the Triad. She is told to memorize a long code that can be used to open a safe. Luke decides to defend her and determine what is being kept in the safe.

A class from a Catholic School in downtown Philadelphia was used for a scene depicting a class in China.

Friday, November 16, 2012


This is an okay book written by Kay Hooper. Emma Rayburn was born and raised in Baron Hollow, North Carolina. It was a quiet life, then came the accident and the nightmares – each filled with unshakable visions of darkness, blind panic, and desperate women chased toward inevitable death. With no reports of local women missing or found dead, Emma has written it off to troubled imaginings – night after dreaded night. Until her sister arrives. Jessie Rayburn, a psychic investigator for a firm called Haven, has been estranged from Emma for years. Unresolved issues from Jessie’s past have not only kept them apart but have been clouding Jessie’s unique abilities.

This is the first book of a trilogy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Low Pressure

This is an okay book written by Sandra Brown. Bellamy Lyston was only 12 years old when her older sister Susan was killed on a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamy's fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene along with her memory of what really happened during the day’s most devastating moments. Now, 18 years later, Bellamy has written a sensational, bestselling novel based on Susan’s murder. Because the book was inspired by the tragic event that still pains her family, she published it under a pseudonym to protect them from unwanted publicity.

You Don’t Want to Know

I liked this book written by Lisa Jackson. In Ava’s dreams, her son, Noah, looks just the way she remembers him: a sweet two-year-old in rolled-up jeans and a red sweatshirt. When Ava wakes, the agonizing truth hits her all over again. Noah went missing two years ago, and his body has never been found. Almost everyone, including Ava’s semi-estranged husband, Wyatt, assumes the boy drowned after falling off the dock near their Church Island home. Ava has spent most of the past two years in and out of Seattle mental institutions, shattered by grief and unable to recall the details of Noah’s disappearance.

Seeking Justice (2011)

This is a solid movie. Will Gerard (Nicolas Cage) is a happily married man and high school teacher whose quiet life in New Orleans is turned upside-down when his wife, Laura, is brutally attacked one night while leaving work at a local orchestra. At the hospital, waiting for news about her condition, Will is approached by Simon (Guy Pearce), who proposes an intriguing offer: Simon will arrange for vengeance on Laura's attacker, in exchange for a favor from Will in the near future. Distraught and grief-stricken, Will consents to the deal, unwittingly pulling himself into a dangerous underground vigilante operation.

Exit Plan

This is an okay book written by Larry Bond. Jerry Mitchell is on exercises off the coast of Pakistan when his submarine, the USS Michigan, is ordered to a rendezvous off the Iranian coast. Once there, disembarked SEALs – experts in seaborne commando operations – are to extract two Iranian nationals who have sensitive information on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. While en route to shore, Michigan’s mini-sub suffers a battery fire, killing one crew member and forcing the survivors – four SEALs and Lieutenant commander Mitchell – to scuttle their disabled craft and swim for shore.

Mad River

This is an okay book written by John Sandford. Jimmy Sharp, Becky Welsh, Tom McCall. They were Bonnie and Clyde, they thought, and what’s-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, chips on their shoulders, and guns. The first person they killed was a girl during a robbery. The second was a man whose car they needed. The third and fourth, well, those were personal.

This is the 6th novel in the Virgil Flowers Series.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lockout (2012)

This is a solid French movie. In 2079, CIA agent Snow (Guy Pearce) is arrested for the murder of undercover agent Frank Armstrong. Snow's friend Harry Shaw tries to locate Snow's contact Mace who knows where Frank's briefcase containing secret information is hidden. Emilie Warnock, (Maggie Grace) daughter of the President, arrives at MS One, a maximum security space penitentiary, to investigate claims that stasis might affect prisoners' minds, leading to psychopathy and dementia. Hydell, a prisoner, is awakened for questioning, but manages to escape. He releases all of the prisoners starting a riot.

Battleship (2012)

This is a solid movie. Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) gets arrested while attempting to impress Samantha Shane, daughter of U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Terrance Shane (Liam Neeson). Alex's older brother Stone is infuriated and forces him to join the Navy. NASA discovers an extrasolar planet with conditions similar to Earth and transmits a powerful signal. Five alien spacecraft arrive in response to the signal. Scientist Cal Zapata thinks the aliens are planning to send a signal to their home planet. Alex, now a lieutenant, decides to attack the alien mothership and must use a decommissioned battleship.

The film is loosely inspired by the board game. The Science & Entertainment Exchange provided science consultation for the film. Double amputee U.S. Army Colonel Gregory Gadson, who had never acted before, plays Lt Col Mick Canales. Navy sailors were used as extras in various parts of the film. Kitsch and Jesse Plemons (who plays Jimmy "Ordy" Ord), previously worked together on director Peter Berg's TV series Friday Night Lights. In South Korea, the film achieved the highest-grossing opening day for a non-sequel and the third-highest overall.