Adrianne Palicki stars in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”

Adrianne Palicki has been breaking hearts ever since she first appeared on NBC’s football drama “Friday Night Lights,” but these days, the Ohio-born actress has been making a name for herself on the big screen with roles in action films like “Red Dawn” and the upcoming “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” as fan favorite Lady Jaye.

Though she’s a far cry from the more butch version of the character we grew up watching on the 1980s animated series, it’s not the first time that Palicki has played an iconic female warrior. Her stint as the title character on David E. Kelley’s “Wonder Woman” reboot may not have made it past the pilot stage, but if early stills from the show are any indication, it’s certainly not because the actress didn’t look the part.

It remains to be seen how her version of Lady Jaye will be received by longtime “G.I. Joe” fans, but we’re digging the updated image, which combines Palicki’s natural beauty with her tough, don’t-mess-with-me personality. In other words, she can kick ass and look good doing it.

  

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A Chat with Belinda Carlisle

Sometimes an interview opportunity comes along that you simply can’t resist. This is one of those occasions.

Belinda Carlisle added a delightful infusion of cuteness to the early days of MTV as the frontwoman for the Go-Go’s, then succeeded in departing the ranks of the band a few years later and forging an impressive solo career. Alas, she’s spent more time on the road than in the studio in recent years, bouncing back and forth between Go-Go’s tours and solo shows, releasing records with decided infrequency. Indeed, she hasn’t released a new album since 2007′s Voila, and given that the record in question consists of covers of her favorite French songs, it’s not exactly what you’d call representative of her usual work.

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2013, however, marks the release of a new best-of set, Icon, and while it might not ordinarily be a major event, given that it’s the fourth such compilation of her solo work to be released since 1992, fans will be thrilled to know that it actually includes a new single, “Sun.”

It’s such a momentous event, in fact, that Carlisle opted to do a bit of press for the collection’s release, and when the opportunity to chat with her was pitched to Bullz-Eye…well, like we said, sometimes an interview opportunity comes along that you simply can’t resist.

Bullz-Eye: Icon isn’t your first best-of collection, but how much input did you have in selecting the contents of this one?

Belinda Carlisle: Oh, I did a lot, actually. The contents of the different collections have been predicated on the different countries who’ve had different singles, so when Icon was first presented to me… A lot of it had to do with catalog and a lot of the different “this music group signed with that music group” stuff, what was available and what wasn’t, so the track list went through a few different changes, because I wanted to include some of the stuff that maybe they didn’t include originally. So I had a big part, a big hand in it, actually.

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BE: You revisit your old material whenever you do a show, but how is the experience of going back through the records to consider which songs needed a bit more of a shot at the spotlight?

BC: Well, because I work all the time, and especially in Europe, with all of the solo stuff, it’s not, like, “Oh, wow, I remember this song,” because I probably just did the song a few months ago…or even a week ago! [Laughs.] It’s fun for me to go through the catalog, but there’s no real surprises or anything. But it was interesting doing different track listings for different countries, because…well, for instance, for Russia, the song “California,” which is totally obscure here, was a big hit there. So you kind of go through the territories and change things around a little bit.

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Movie Review: “Welcome to the Punch”

Starring
James McAvoy, Mark Strong, David Morrissey, Peter Mullan, Andrea Riseborough, Daniel Mays
Director
Eran Creevy

The British film industry is overflowing with a wealth of talent, which is what makes its poor output of quality movies so maddening. While there’s never been a short supply of stuffy period dramas and gritty gangster flicks, very few other genres have managed to find much success overseas. Evan Creevy’s sophomore effort, “Welcome to the Punch,” attempts to bridge that gap by delivering a Hollywood-style crime thriller on an indie budget, but although he’s landed an impressive cast of A-list British talent, it’s mostly squandered on a bland and overly predictable script. “Welcome to the Punch” displays a lot more potential than the recently released “The Sweeney,” but it still falls short due a lack of suspense and personality.

Ambitious young detective Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) is hot on the trail of master thief Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong), but after tracking him down to the scene of his latest heist in progress, Sternwood manages to escape and Max gets a bullet in the kneecap for his troubles. Three years later, Jacob is still coping with the events of that night (the scar and accompanying knee pain a constant reminder of his failure), but when Sternwood’s son is fatally wounded during a gun deal gone wrong, Sternwood emerges from his Icelandic hideaway to smoke out the men responsible. Convinced that Sternwood’s vendetta will lead him back to London, Max is given another chance to capture the elusive criminal, only to uncover a deeper conspiracy within his own police department connecting the two crimes.

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The Greatest Poker Casinos in Vegas

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Viva Las Vegas! Home to a veritable circus of attractions, shows, glitz and glamour, Vegas describes itself as the ‘entertainments capital of the world’. And you would be hard pressed to find a place that encompasses as much fun and frivolity as this world-famous city situated in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

Once described as “Sin City” due to its tolerance for gambling and other adult fancies, Vegas has now become a popular place for Americans to raise their family and even retire to. However, with over 30 million visitors a year, this place is also a huge tourist attraction. One thing is for sure, there is always something to do in Vegas, as it truly is a city that never goes to sleep!

Home to several museums, including botanical gardens and zoo, with over 150 species of both plants and animals, plus a school of performing arts that regularly hosts Broadway shows and a variety of performances from ballets to famous orchestras, Vegas is not without culture. However, it is on the renowned Las Vegas Strip where the vast and grandiose hotel and casinos are to be found.

The MGM Grand

Just about everything in this hotel is larger than life, grander than grand, bounteously bountiful! Lavish and bold, from the moment you step into the foyer and face the huge golden MGM trademark lion, you know that you could be nowhere else in the world other than Vegas!

The hotel has featured in many a Hollywood movie, and was once the largest hotel in the world. This does mean that getting around the building involves a fair bit of walking, but who cares when there is so much to admire along the way.

As for the casino, Texas Hold‘em is the game that the MGM Grand poker room is most famous for. With 22 tables and a relaxed non-smoking atmosphere, the MGM even offers tableside massages for those who wish to indulge completely in this relaxing environment. On the floor of the casino, there are slots galore, paying out over 750,000 dollars a day on the progressive games.

There is also a sports book area where punters can bet on whichever race or game is being shown on the huge plasma screens on the walls. There are 53 channels available, so no tournament, game or race need be missed!

The Bellagio

Perhaps the most sumptuous yet elegantly decorated casino hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, The Bellagio has the AAA 5 Diamond award for hospitality and service. With stunning views from the guest rooms and designer suites, this hotel is classy and sophisticated.
A strong supporter of the World Poker Tour, the casino is a host to the event when it makes its way to Vegas. There are 39 tables for plenty of poker action, and also ‘Bobby’s Room’ where the stakes are high at a $20,000 minimal buy-in to play.

Caesars Palace

With a reputation for being one of the most famous Casino resort in Vegas, Caesars style is Roman Empire-tastic! A seated Colosseum, Roman statues, sparkling fountains, and opulent ornateness are abundant in this stunning hotel and casino. Spas, Roman baths and delectable gardens – what more could a palace need? Well, there is the casino to explore of course! There are 62 poker tables offering 24-hour gaming and a full tournament schedule in the tournament room. It is also home to the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship.

There is also a huge variety of slot machines offering massive jackpots. Players can play with a single dollar right up to 5,000 dollars.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but one thing is certain, you will never forget your time spent visiting this remarkable, unique city.

  

Blu Tuesday: Political Edition

The hits keep on coming this week with several more high-profile releases, but you better enjoy it now, because the next few weeks don’t look nearly as promising. In fact, there are so few quality Blu-rays hitting stores in late March/early April that I’ll either be skipping my column during those weeks, or I’ll combine them into one post. With that said, there’s plenty worth being excited about today, with such a heavy emphasis on politically-themed films and TV series that you’d almost think it was November again.

“Lincoln”

Steven Spielberg has been trying to make a movie about Abraham Lincoln for so long that it seemed like it might never happen. But after years stuck in development, his passion project finally got made, albeit with a different actor in the title role. Though Daniel Day-Lewis is certainly no slouch, the prospect of Liam Neeson reteaming with his “Schindler’s List” director was a lot more exciting. Nevertheless, Day-Lewis proves himself a more than adequate replacement as the 16th U.S. President, commanding the screen with a vigor that combats the film’s languid pace. His Lincoln is stubborn and stoic, but also witty when the mood permits, and though he was the only cast member to win an Oscar for his performance, the acting is top-notch all around, including fellow nominees Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field, and James Spader as a slimy lobbyist. While the more bureaucratic scenes drag on for too long, they’re a big part of what “Lincoln” is all about and provide some of the film’s best moments. The movie does get a little too caught up in the intricacies of the political process at times, but it’s an engaging behind the scenes look at one of the country’s most historic moments.

Blu-ray Highlight: A review copy didn’t arrive in time, but some quick research shows that there are two versions of the Blu-ray available: a barebones two-disc edition with a pair of brief featurettes and a four-disc edition with an additional 65 minutes of bonus material. If you’re a history buff, or you just really like behind-the-scenes extras, go with the latter set. Otherwise, the two-disc version should suffice.

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