THEY appeared to know each other but were not friends. Dressed similarly in tank tops and baggy sweatpants; they kept an eye on each other, thinking they were being discreet. I knew better because I would notice the things they did while working out on the fitness floor. Before or after my class I would hang out on the fitness floor to do some strength training exercises. Seeing these two young guys in the same area for several weeks, I started to notice they were not workout buddies; they were competing with each other, attempting to exert their dominance by being the best. What I mean is they would try to out lift each other using free weights. If one guy was doing chest presses, the other would start to do them but with slightly more weight on the barbell. Once the first guy caught sight of his “opponent” lifting more weight, he would stop and add more weight. This pattern would go on until they went from doing 15 reps down to 1; it was comical to watch. THERE is something about some men’s testosterone that pushes them over the edge. Those two guys on the fitness floor are still at it, trying to top each other. Since I am at that between age, between birth and death, I can sit back and just observe some of these antics and shake my head. And trust me it is not just the younger generation; I still get from time to time some older member coming up to me in the locker room and making some lewd comment about me teaching “a classroom full of ladies.” Without being rude, since I am an employee of the fitness center, I find a way to give them a quick response that masks my displeasure and get away from them as quick as possible. I felt the same way about watching this action dramatic comedy. FORCED to do community service former Olympic swimming champion Matt Brody, played by Zac Efron (Dirty Grandpa, Neighbors franchise), thought being a lifeguard would be a no-brainer of a job. That all changed when a dead body washed up on shore. This film loosely based on the television show starred Dwayne Johnson (The Fast & Furious franchise, Pain & Gain) as Mitch Buchannon, Priyanka Chopra (Don franchise, Quantico-TV) as Victoria Leeds, Alexandra Daddario (The Choice, San Andreas) as Summer Quinn and Jon Bass (Loving, All Nighter) as Ronnie Greenbaum. I vaguely remember the TV series but I am sure it was nothing like what I saw in this movie. For me the best part of this film was Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and the outtakes at the beginning of the credits. One cannot help but enjoy Dwayne’s effort and Zac’s comedic timing. Outside of that the story was overloaded and bulky; sort of like Dwayne’s muscles and Zac’s attitude. The script was awful as it was filled with foul language and sexual references. I did not find it funny simply because more than one or two swear words or sexual innuendos is cheap humor in my opinion. Now there were a few fun sarcastic lines in the script, but there was not enough to entertain me for the duration of the picture. Based on the crowd in the theater, the main purpose for seeing this film as far as I could tell was for the eye candy. No matter how many lifeguards were in this movie, it could not be saved.
1 ½ stars
I do not think the layout of a store is necessarily an engineering feat, more like a psychological one in my opinion. Think about the ease consumers have these days; no matter where one may be, they can walk into the same brand of store and immediately know which aisles they need to stop in. Sure some stores may have slight differences in decorations or signage, but I am sure there is a reason why the stores are laid out in a particular way. I assume you have heard the term “mindless eating?” It is when one is not giving any thought to what they are putting in their mouth; an example would be those huge buckets of popcorn one sits with in the movie theater. Being so engrossed into the film hopefully, one doesn’t pay attention to the amount of popcorn they have eaten. Well the same thing can be said for “mindless shopping.” The way the store gets laid out, the end of the aisles known as “end caps” has either visual significance or price leaders to entice shoppers to stop and pickup the product. Now throughout the store the owners place sale items like small oases to get the consumer to travel from one side of the building to the other. When I go to the grocery store I do not have to think about what I want; I always go with a shopping list and because I am so familiar with the layout, I can quickly make my way through without much thought. It really is a simple process that does not need much effort on my part. I can say it was the same way watching this latest Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, A Walk to Remember) movie. TRAVIS, played by Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), tried all of his pickup lines on the new neighbor Gabby, played by Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies, I am Number Four), but she was having none of it. As far as she was concerned he was a jerk. I really do not think I have to say anything else because those of you who are at all familiar with a Nicholas Sparks movie will already know the outcome. This dramatic romance followed the same formula as his previous films. In fact, I felt this one was one of the worst. The story followed the same, shall we say, outline to each of his films: the main characters either dislike each other or have issues; there is a hospital scene or tragic event, understanding parents and a tearjerker scene. Regarding this film I felt there was no chemistry between Benjamin and Teresa. The only acting worth mentioning was by Tom Wilkinson (Belle, Michael Clayton) as Shep. If you have never read or seen a Nicholas Sparks story or want a good cry then you may be interested in this movie. The rest of you would be better off skipping this film and go do some mindless shopping.
1 2/3 stars
I traveled halfway across the country only to find out we were no longer going to be a couple. It happened within 1 hour of me stepping off of the plane to find out they, “could not go on like this,” whatever that was supposed to mean since I did not get a clear answer when I asked, “Like what?” Returning back to the airport for my connecting flight, I had enough time between flights to call a close friend. I called them up so I could lament over the abrupt ending of my relationship and complain about why I had to travel all the way to a remote area of the country just to be told this; why couldn’t they have told me before they took this summer job that kept them away for the summer? As we spoke on the phone my free ear heard a high pitched tinkling noise of glasses clinking together. I did not focus on it until I started feeling the floor shaking beneath my feet. The sound was coming from a tourist gift shop near the waiting area I was standing in. The banners and lights that were suspended from the ceiling began to wave in unison. It took me a moment before I realized an earthquake was taking place; I never experienced one before in my life. People started to scream as items were being knocked off of their perches; I dropped to the floor. Was this upheaval I was experiencing a manifestation of my emotional turmoil? Just as suddenly everything came to a quiet standstill. I started experiencing a similar anxiety at the opening scene of this action film, so do not come in late. CALIFORNIA rocked by a massive earthquake rescue-chopter pilot Ray, played by Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious franchise, Hercules), had to navigate through the chaos to try and find his daughter Blake, played by Alexandra Daddario (Percy Jackson franchise, Texas Chainsaw 3D). This dramatic thriller, emphasis on the thrills, was one heck of a visual ride through California. The special effects were unbelievable and intense. I saw it in 3D but do not feel it is a must; the only reason was due to the time of the showing that it wound up being in 3D. With a cast that included Paul Giamatti (Romeo & Juliet, Sideways) as Lawrence and Carla Gugino (Watchmen, Sin City) as Emma, they all did their best with the poorly written script. Everything was so obvious from a mile away due to the formula the writers followed for disaster film 101. At least Dwayne and Paul were perfectly cast; one was affable and the other did a great portrayal of frantic intensity. Sadly this action movie did not completely rock me; but for a mindless escape, it provided enough thrills to keep me interested.
2 1/3 stars
There were two things that stoked my imagination when it came to mythology. One was the original movie of Jason and the Argonauts. Watching those fantastical creatures battle Jason was something that sparked endless imaginary battles in my head. I would use Jason as a decoy while I was the one who found the Golden Fleece. The other object that gave me a new appreciation for myths was the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. Growing up it was required reading in school; everyone I knew had to read it. The idea that there were these beings living among us, who did not quite fit in, was something I could strongly identify with. If only I could have found a place like Camp Half-Blood that was featured in this fantasy film. Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Number 23) once again reprised his role of Percy Jackson, the son of Poseidon. When the security system protecting the children of gods and goddesses staying at Camp Half-Blood was neutralized, Percy and his friends decided to go out on a mission to seek the one item that could restore and protect their home from evil forces–the Golden Fleece. I thought the concept of this story was a good idea; setting it in current times with typical teenagers who had special gifts. Logan, as he has done in his past films, came across as a likable character; one you did not want to see get into harm’s way. Others in the cast such as Alexandra Daddario (Hall Pass, Texas Chainsaw 3D) as Annabeth, Douglas Smith (Blast From the Past, Antiviral) as Tyson and Jake Abel (I Am Number Four, The Lovely Bones) as Luke were nothing memorable. The special effects could have been better I thought. Ultimately for a story that had multiple opportunities to amaze and surprise me fell flat. I have a feeling the book this adventure film was based on would have been a better choice to spark my imagination, just like when I was kid.
1 3/4 stars
If Mr. Oscar Mayer and Miss Blackendecker got married and had a child it would be the chainsaw yielding Leatherface, in this bloody movie. After he was done carving up his prey there was enough human flesh that could serve up several courses of steak tartare to a tribe of cannibals. If I did not know better I would have thought this fright flick was a satire of horror movies. There were several scenes where I was chuckling to myself. The movie was so cliched that I could have worn an eye mask and still be able to tell you what each character was about to do. Let us go over our checklist of characters: one buxom female, check; one wild girlfriend, check; one African American, check; one hard chiseled body male, check; and one helpful person who may not be so helpful. The actors must have failed their auditions for the movie The Collection and wound up here. Alexandra Daddario (Hall Pass, Bereavement) played Heather Miller, the sole heir to her late grandmother’s estate in Texas. Joined by her close friends, Heather traveled to her grandmother’s home town; where she would get surprised by what was left for her. That did not even include the extra unlisted asset in the house’s basement. For horror film aficionados, I do not think there was enough scariness in the movie. However, the film was an easy watch; nothing you had to think about or decipher. I do have a question: How did Scott Eastwood (Gran Torino, Trouble with the Curve) get the role of police officer Carl, since it was not his father Clint’s film? Now before you wonder if there was anything positive about the film; I am here to tell you there was not just one thing, there were three. First, the characters I found annoying had spectacular deaths. Secondly, the movie was filmed in Louisiana which helped that state’s economy. And thirdly, there was a surprise satisfying scene at the end of the credits. This movie does not require the use of safety goggles and ear plugs, unless you really want to wear them.
1 2/3 stars