PHOTOGRAPHS OF IT were impressive so I could only imagine what it looked like in person. One of my trips was planned around seeing this particular area of the country that nature had sculpted. I had read the landscape changes colors based on the sun’s position; turning from a glowing orange to almost red hue at one point. After settling into my hotel room I drove out onto the highway for the car ride there. In my mind I had a game plan laid out of everything I wanted to see and photograph. Hopefully I would find a few areas to pull off of so I could trek through portions of the natural arches and standing rocks. The sun was big and bright in the sky so I was feeling especially lucky about this portion of my trip. IN THE DISTANCE I could see the town; besides, there was a large welcome sign posted on the side of the road telling me I had arrived at my destination. I am not sure what I expected the town to look like, but what I saw was nothing I imagined. No sooner had I entered the city limits and there were signs posted everywhere advertising everything from restaurants to souvenir shops to motels; I am talking sign after sign littering the landscape. To say it was a turn off would be an understatement. As I drove deeper into the town the signs were joined by retail stands and carts. There were people on the side of the rode selling T-shirts and hats with either pictures of the natural area or different variants of the town’s name. If that was not bad enough there was a majority of retail establishments that had gaudy bright lights and decorations adorning their space. Everything I saw looked tasteless to me; to live in a beautiful part of the country and mess it up with all of this stuff was a shame. The reason I am telling you this is because this is how I felt about this action drama. STUCK IN AN elevator at the World Trade Center when the first plane hit, five strangers soon realized they would have to depend on each other if there was any chance of them surviving. Starring Whoopi Goldberg (For Colored Girls, Glee-TV) as Metzie, Gina Gershon (P.S. I Love You, Face/Off) as Eve, Charlie Sheen (Wall Street, Two and a Half Men-TV) as Jeffrey, Luis Guzman (Boogie Nights, Anger Management) as Eddie and Jacqueline Bisset (The Deep, Bullitt) as Diane; I sat in my seat dumbfounded for most of this movie. The acting was almost comical and I found myself feeling embarrassed for the actors. I wondered if they were forced against their will or lost a bet, so they had to be in this film. The script, let me say, was basic and I am being kind. It was so predictable and made the actors look like novices in their field. Sadly I thought the idea to the story was good, where it could provide a variety of ways to play it out. I literally was baffled that such a life changing event in our history winds up being represented by this picture. If I had time I would like to see if it initially went straight to DVD and the movie studio decided to release it to theaters now since the 9/11 anniversary date was upon us. Talk about walking in expecting to experience something meaningful and finding out the only thing that mattered was a paycheck.
1 ½ stars
It is an all or nothing proposition where you can feel totally full or completely empty. Sometimes you are stunned by how much control it has over you. There are some people who make it their job to find it while others have the attitude if it appears in front of them then they will gladly accept it. To be in love for certain individuals is the only thing that matters to them; it is the healing salve that soothes any and all emotional and physical ailments. At least that is what some folks have told me. In my experience I have found love to be an ideal tenant of the heart. There is a certain magic love has over us. It can continue the pulse of the person you love inside of you even when they are away. Some people wear their love as if it was a warm snuggly blanket loosely wrapped around their body; they take it everywhere they go, feeling comforted and peaceful. However, just as love can be fulfilling for a person the lack of it can also be just as devastating. The loss of love can feel as if someone pierced your heart with a straw to suck out every positive feeling from your body. There are some individuals who are so afraid of this ever happening that they refrain from falling in love; they never want to feel such pain. All I can say is love can really make a person act out in an extreme way; you can see an example of it in this comedy. WHEN Keanu went missing Rell Williams, played by Jordan Peele (Wanderlust, MADtv-TV), was willing to do whatever it took to get his precious kitty back. Starring Keegan-Michael Key (Tomorrowland, Let’s Be Cops) as Clarence Goobril, Tiffany Haddish (Meet the Spartans, Racing for Time-TV movie) as Hi-C and Luis Guzman (Anger Management, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3) as Bacon; this comedy had individual scenes that were quite funny. Though the premise of the story was far-fetched it was comical in an absurd way. The script had no problem making fun of stereotypes. I was not familiar with Jordan and Keegan-Michael but found them enjoyable to watch as they worked well together. It goes without saying I thought the cat was adorable and fun to watch throughout the movie; in fact, it should have shared top billing with the actors. On the downside the script did not have much variance; after awhile I found myself getting tired of the same type of jokes and scenarios. It felt as if the idea for this story was geared for television but the writers decided to stretch it for the big screen. Though I may not have loved this film as much as others I still had a good time watching it. There were several scenes of violence and blood was shown briefly.
2 ½ stars
Dreams are the fuel that propel us forward on our life’s journey. They instill a sense of hope that helps us traverse the choppy waters we may encounter along the way. I still can recall one of my earliest dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up: a window washer. There was something about being on the outside, way up high, that appealed to me. Good thing I did not follow through since these days I am exactly opposite, preferring to be inside and close to the ground. Even though my dreams evolved, I have always been aware how they have pushed me forward in life. The same could be said for the main character in this animated film. Garden snail Turbo, voiced by Ryan Reynolds (Buried, The Proposal), dreamed he would one day race at the Indianapolis 500. No one would take his dream away from him; including his sensible brother Chet, voiced by Paul Giamatti (Win Win, The Last Station). When a freak accident gave Turbo the ability to move fast, he was not going to let anyone or anything stop him from achieving his dream. This adventure film had a diverse cast of actors to voice the many characters. For example, there was Michael Pena (End of Watch, Shooter) as Tito, Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction) as Whiplash, Bill Hader (Men in Black 3, Saturday Night Live-TV) as Guy Gagne and Snoop Dog (Old School, Bruno) as Smooth Move. Though the animation was quite good, I found the story was lacking a couple of key elements. I did not find it exciting except for the beginning and ending parts. The characters were okay but really did not leave any impression on me. It felt as if the characters were created as a way to sell toys to kids. Compared to other animated films I have recently seen, this one just left me with a blah feeling. I think only young children would enjoy this movie. It was a shame the movie studio could not dream up a better story. Stay through the first set of credits.
2 1/4 stars
He wasn’t lying when he said he would be back. When Arnold Schwarzenegger (True Lies, Predator) first came on the movie scene he was an imposing figure. The roles Arnold had were not meant to stretch him as an actor; he was not known for his great acting skills. He was more the cartoon super hero type, who had some iconic lines that have stayed through a generation of moviegoers. With a freshened face, older and slower, this Arnold realized he could not do the same stunts of yesteryear. And that was exactly the reason I enjoyed this action film. It took him longer to recover from a fall as he complained of being tired. In fact, he had to take out a pair of glasses to read a report. Arnold was Sheriff Ray Owens of Sommerton Junction. His town was the last stop before the Mexican border and Sheriff Owens was the FBI’s last hope to stop Mexican drug cartel leader Gabriel Cortez, played by Eduardo Noriega (The Devil’s Backbone, The Method). With Johnny Knoxville (Jackass franchise, The Ringer) and Luis Guzman (Anger Management, Boogie Nights) as the sheriff’s deputies Lewis Dinkum and Mike Figuerola, there was a comic streak thrown into the scenes. It was because of the comedy I felt Forest Whitaker (Phone Booth, The Last King of Scotland) was hired as Agent John Bannister. The movie studio needed someone with heavier acting credentials. All aspects of this movie were geared with Arnold in mind. Yes, there was a body double for him on the tougher physical stunts while the writers tried to give Arnold new clever, memorable lines to say. I enjoyed this fast paced movie more than I thought I would and part of the reason was due to feeling nostalgic with seeing Arnold on the big screen. Not that I was a big fan of his, but I always knew what I would get out of his movies–over the top fight scenes, fun lines and Arnold as the good guy. He was just a little slower and did not want to stay out late. Violent scenes with blood.
2 2/3 stars