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LAS VEGAS — To step into club XS at the Wynn Las Vegas is to enter the dreamscape of a modern artist with fetishes for gold and bronze and bodies in motion.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Thirty years ago, Dr. Gene Giggleman was a veterinarian who thought chiropractors were quacks. Since then, he says he's straightened out thousands of dogs and cats, not to mention the occasional snake, hamster, gerbil and guinea pig.
Looking for some help in the garden? Many of nature's most useful critters lie literally at our feet, underappreciated and ignored despite their ability to eliminate insects, condition soils and pollinate plants.
This March 7, 2009 photo shows a toad in a residential garden in New Market, Va. Toads, turtles, moths, moles, dragonflies, snakes and spiders are among the many wild things that can help maintain a landscape yet most go unappreciated or ignored despite their ability to kill insects, condition soil and pollinate plants. Harmful insects make up more than 60 percent of a toad's daily diet. (AP Photo/Dean Fosdick)
All About Roadrunners: Everyone knows roadrunners can outsmart dumb coyotes named Wile E., but have you ever wondered what else they can do? Ranger B will fill you in on all the details at the regular Brown Bag series in the Nature Center at Usery Mountain Park. Following the hour-long discussion, attendees can watch the snake feedings and join the Animal Flashlight walk at 7:30 p.m.
This image provided by the National Parks Service shows Ansel Adams' 1942 photo of the Tetons and Snake River overlook in Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming. (AP Photo/National Parks Service)
If a big, dumb action movie knows it's a big, dumb action movie and revels in that fact, is that preferable to a big, dumb action movie making the mistake of thinking it's significant, relevant art?
That's the question to ponder — if you can think straight and your ears aren't ringing too badly — during "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." This sequel of sorts to the 2009 blockbuster "G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra" seems to have some cheeky fun with itself, from Bruce Willis cheerily revealing the arsenal he's hiding in his quiet suburban home to RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan essentially showing up and playing himself. A major city is obliterated with the touch of a button and several others are in peril as the world hinges on nuclear destruction in what amounts to a hammy game of chicken.
Nothing matters really. This is a movie based on a Hasbro toy, after all — it's all spectacle and bombast. But at least "G.I. Joe" is aware of its vapidity compared to, say, last week's "Olympus Has Fallen," in which North Korean terrorists took over the White House in self-serious fashion but our secret-service-agent hero found time to make wedged-in, smart-alecky quips on the way to saving the day.
That's not to say that this "G.I. Joe" is good, aside from a couple of dazzling action set pieces, but at least it's efficient in its muscular mindlessness.
The elite military team of Joes, now led by Duke (Channing Tatum, returning from the first film), is sent to Pakistan to recover some nuclear weapons. But they find themselves double-crossed by their own government, led by an imposter president, and lose many among their ranks in a massive ambush. The survivors — Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson, reliable as ever), Flint (D.J. Cotrona, who's given no personality) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki, in full makeup for covert ops) — must find out who's running the country and get to the bottom of this villain's dastardly plan.
Turns out it's master of disguise Zartan, part of the enemy group Cobra, who's posing as the president while the real commander in chief is locked up in a bomb shelter. (Jonathan Pryce plays both roles; he's far too qualified for even one of them.) The three Joes realize they need help to bring him down, so they round up the far-flung Snake Eyes (Ray Park), the petite warrior Jinx (Elodie Yung, whose character trains with the Blind Master, RZA) and the reluctant Storm Shadow (Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee, an athletic and elegant specimen).
They also need some firepower, so they track down Willis' Original Joe, Gen. Colton, who provides his own personal gun show. (You'd never know there's a gun control debate in this country from watching this movie; it's all very macho and rah-rah. The flip side is, none of the casualties from all this sophisticated weaponry results in any blood. This is an astonishingly violent PG-13 movie.)
"Retaliation" initially was scheduled to come out last summer, but the studio pulled it and delayed its release to convert the movie to 3-D. With a director like Jon M. Chu, who's shown a flair for integrating 3-D with the dance extravaganza "Step Up 3D" and the concert film "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," why not just shoot it that way in the first place? As it stands now, the extra dimension doesn't add much, and often is used in that simplistic, tried-and-true way of flinging things at us from the screen: bullets, throwing stars, etc.
There is one absolutely astounding extended sequence about halfway through, in which two teams of ninjas face off in a battle on the sheer cliff faces of the Himalayas. Using cables and zip lines, it's as if they're running, leaping and practically dancing on walls in the sky — a breathtaking piece of choreography in its own right, regardless of the dimension through which it's viewed.
"G.I. Joe Retaliation," a Paramount Pictures release, is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality. Running time: 110 minutes. Two stars out of four.
Motion Picture Association of America rating definition for PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI said Monday he lacks the strength to fulfill his duties and on Feb. 28 will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. The announcement sets the stage for a conclave in March to elect a new leader for world's 1 billion Catholics.
Nobody plays deadpan strait man better than Jason Bateman. Nobody plays belly laugh shocking better than Melissa McCarthy. Based on this promising mismatched duo, “Identity Thief” looked like it might be the first sidesplitting comedy of the New Year.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas is getting ready for the year of the snake. The casino capital celebrates Chinese New Year — also known as lunar new year — in a big way, with feasts, exhibits, performances and other events at outdoor festivals and at casino-resorts like Bellagio and The Venetian.
This January 2013 photo provided by The Venetian in Las Vegas shows a Chinese New Year art installation welcoming the year of the snake in the waterfall atrium connecting The Venetian and The Palazzo resorts. The display features an animatronic snake coiled in a tree decorated with flowers, lanterns and coins. Las Vegas celebrates Chinese New Year in a big way with feasts, exhibits, performances and other events around the city. The year of the snake begins Feb. 10. (AP Photo/The Venetian, Audrey Dempsey)
This January 2013 photo provided by MGM Resorts International shows the Chinese New Year floral display at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in Las Vegas welcoming the year of the snake. The display includes a money tree decorated with gold coins, red lanterns, a 9-foot snake, a waterfall and wooden boat. It’s one of a number of exhibits and events around Las Vegas marking the year of the snake, which begins on Feb. 10. (AP Photo/MGM Resorts International)
An Ahwatukee Foothills man scored the original 19-foot-long black, bubble-topped car used in the 1960s “Batman” TV show for $4.2 million Saturday night at the Barrett-Jackson car auction at WestWorld in Scottsdale.
One thing I love about living in the East Valley? We’re surrounded by scenic country that makes getting outdoors easy.
A second-year law student at Arizona State University, Adam Brown arrived at the new Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shop in Mesa about 8 a.m. on Monday to be first in line for the grand opening of the shop, nearly 24 hours before its doors opened for business.
When something’s in your own backyard, it’s easy to take it for granted.
A couple days before Thanksgiving, at about 5 a.m. people start to form a line that snakes through the parking lot at Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank in Chandler to wait for an emergency grocery box with all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner. The food bank usually hands out yams, cranberry sauce, cakes and about 500 turkeys. But this year on Nov.20, the food bank will be short more than a hundred turkeys.
The Grand Canyon boasts some of the most spectacular views in the world, revealing a rich geological history that few ever see from the Colorado River that formed it millions of years ago.
The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center hosts the third annual Enchanted Trail/Sendero Encantado from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
For many children, their first pet is a virtual one.
LOS ANGELES (AP) For many children, their first pet is a virtual one. Experts say many children who enter the first grade can play video games but few have a pet to play with. And teachers say that's a shame, considering how animals - real ones - can enrich a child's upbringing.
Pinnacle left no doubt which team owns this rivalry.
In this Sept. 11, 2012, photo, principal Ben Januschka and Jayvon Maternowski share hold of a corn snake in the first grade classroom of Dawn Slinger, background left, in Farmington, Minn. Slinger chooses the animals because they fascinate children, their temperaments are right and they don't bother students with allergies or asthma, she says. Maryland-based Pets in the Classroom project is offering grants to help teachers pay for pets, cages, tanks and supplies of food. It issued its 10,000th grant this summer. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
In this Sept. 11, 2012, photo, Hailey Fink gets acquainted with a corn snake in the first grade classroom of Dawn Slinger in Farmington, Minn. Experts say many children who have mastered video games before entering first grade have never even had a starter pet. Maryland-based Pets in the Classroom project is offering grants to help teachers pay for pets, cages, tanks and supplies of food. It issued its 10,000th grant this summer. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)