Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

This is an okay movie. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is an outcast high school student who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Peter is finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and together, they struggle with secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance -- leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner; setting him on a collision course with Connors' alter-ego, The Lizard.

This is a reboot of the Spider-Man film series. The film was also a box office success, becoming the 46th highest-grossing film of all time and the 7th highest-grossing film of 2012. Co-producer Laura Ziskin and Sally Field had previously worked together on the 1985 film Murphy's Romance. Ziskin died of breast cancer on June 12, 2011, at age 61. Co-creator Stan Lee has a cameo appearance as a librarian listening to music on his headphones while stamping books, oblivious to the ongoing battle between Spider-Man and Lizard. The film was the first Hollywood production to be filmed with the Red Digital Cinema Camera Company's RED Epic camera.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)

This is an okay movie. Over the moon about starting a family, TV fitness guru Jules (Cameron Diaz) and dance show star Evan find that their high-octane celebrity lives don't stand a chance against the surprise demands of pregnancy. Baby-crazy author and advocate Wendy gets a taste of her own militant mommy advice when pregnancy hormones ravage her body; while Wendy's husband, Gary, struggles not to be outdone by his competitive alpha-Dad Ramsey (Dennis Quaid), who's expecting twins with his much younger trophy wife, Skyler. Photographer Holly is prepared to travel the globe to adopt a child.

The film is based on the pregnancy guide of the same name originally published in 1984. The film features many celebrity cameos including: NBA player Dwyane Wade, former The Hills reality television star Whitney Port, Will & Grace star Megan Mullally, Girls Aloud member and The X Factor judge Cheryl Cole, So You Think You Can Dance choreographer and guest judge Tyce Diorio and The Black Eyed Peas member Taboo.

The Sea Witch

This is an okay book written by Stephen Coonts and divided into three novellas. First, when a young dauntless dive-bomber pilot is sacked for reckless behavior, he’s reassigned to a Black Cat squadron as the copilot of a giant Catalina seaplane, The Sea Witch. Second, seventeen days...the average life expectancy of a British aviator during World War I. Last three weeks and you were practically a veteran. Third, Charles Dean is retired from the military, determined to be done with that part of his life. But when Julie Giraud, the daughter of his old commander, seeks him out, he can’t say no to a simple lunch.

Sweet Tooth

This is an okay book written by Ian McEwan. Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England’s legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code name “Sweet Tooth.” Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves his stories. Then she begins to love the man.

The novel is dedicated to McEwan's late friend Christopher Hitchens. Like Haley, McEwan studied at the University of Sussex. Several of McEwan's acquaintances make cameo appearances in the novel, including his friend Martin Amis, his first publisher Tom Maschler, and his mentor Ian Hamilton. The story is inspired by the actual scandal affecting the conservative literary magazine Encounter, which in 1967 was revealed to have received covert funding from the CIA.

Odd Apocalypse

This is an okay book written by Dean Koontz. Once presided over by a flamboyant Hollywood mogul during the Roaring ‘20s, the magnificent West Coast property known as Roseland is now home to a reclusive billionaire financier and his faithful servants. And, for the moment, it’s also a port in the storm for Odd Thomas and his traveling companion, the inscrutably charming Annamaria. In the wake of Odd’s most recent clash with lethal adversaries, the opulent manor’s comforts should be welcome. But there’s far more to Roseland than meets even the extraordinary eye of Odd, who soon suspects it may be more hell than haven.

This is the fifth novel in the series.

Rock of Ages (2012)

This is an okay movie. In 1987, Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) arrives in Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a famous singer, while barback Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) prepares for another night of work at The Bourbon Room. As Sherrie approaches The Bourbon, her suitcase is stolen, including her records. Seeing the incident, Drew tries to catch the robber, but fails. He comforts Sherrie and, upon learning of her situation, he gets her a job at the Bourbon Room as a waitress. The club's owner is trying to find a way to deal with unpaid taxes that threaten the club, wishing only love of rock 'n' roll could keep it alive.

The film is an adaptation of the 2006 rock jukebox Broadway musical. The film stars country singer Julianne Hough and Mexican singer Diego Boneta. The film features the music of several 1980s rock artists including: Def Leppard, Journey, Foreigner, Guns N' Roses, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, Bon Jovi, David Lee Roth, and others. The real Mayor of Los Angeles in 1987 was Democrat Tom Bradley, the first and only African-American mayor of the city. Constantine Maroulis, who played Drew in the Broadway show, cameos as a Capitol Records executive. All of the actors sing their own parts in the film.

The Apocalypse Watch

This is an okay book written by Robert Ludlum. Deep in the Austrian mountains lies a remote hideaway – the fortress like nerve center of an ominous movement, the Brotherhood of the Watch. American agent Harry Latham has penetrated this neo-Nazi organization, born in the days after the Third Reich’s defeat and with deadly tentacles reaching the United States and beyond. Now, after three years in deep cover, on the eve of his most spectacular success, Harry Latham has disappeared. Drew Latham, Special Officer for Consular Operations in Paris, is frantic to discover his older brother’s fate.

A TV movie based on it aired in 1997. This was Ludlum's second novel to focus on a neo-Nazi conspiracy to take over the world, the other being The Holcroft Covenant (1978). A running joke concerns the French being unable to pronounce "Latham" correctly.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (2012)

This is a solid movie. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) suggests to Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the giraffe, and Gloria the hippopotamus that they should go to Monte Carlo to get the penguins to fly them back to New York City. In Monte Carlo, Alex's gang's attempt to reach the penguins and King Julien blunders and sparks chaos in the Hotel De Paris. The hotel security calls Monaco Animal Control officer Captain Chantel DuBois to deal with the animals. In France, the plane crashes into a suburban rail yard as the authorities close in. They come across a circus train and bang on it, desperately trying to get in.

It is the first in the series to be released in 3D. Worldwide, it is the highest-grossing film in the series, the fourth highest-grossing DreamWorks Animation film, the second highest-grossing 2012 animated film, and the seventh highest-grossing film of 2012. Overall, it is the 9th highest-grossing animated film and the 49th highest-grossing film. The film took 66 and 94 days of release, respectively, to out-gross its two predecessors.

After Dark

This is an okay book written by Phillip Margolin. Late one night, in a deserted courthouse, Tracy Cavanaugh, an attorney, finds a colleague, apparently slain. The victim is Laura Rizzatti, law clerk for Oregon Supreme Court Justice Robert Griffen. A month later, a car bomb kills Judge Griffen himself. Police arrest Abby, Griffen’s estranged wife. Abby hires Matthew Reynolds to represent her. It’s a good choice. After all, Tracy Cavanaugh works for Reynolds and she had found Laura’s body; she knows the case well. And Tracy thinks the murders are related. Then she finds serious corruption on the court.