The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)


You Seriously Think I’m a Cop in a Skintight Red and Blue Suit?

Another week has come when I’ve been able to secure a free Tuesday and used it to get to a movie theater for a double feature.  If I had planned it better, I might have been able to make it to three movies, but I don’t plan things.  I just showed up for the first show of one movie I wanted to see and then found out what the nearest other movie I wanted to see.  That problematically meant that I’d have to sit around outside for an hour proofreading old reviews, but I’ll get to that second movie later.  The first one is a movie I was first not excited to see because they were just rereleasing a comic book movie origin story with a different set of actors, but then trailers for the movie won me over.  And it’s a comic book movie, so I was going to see it either way.  Let’s find out if you should go as I review The Amazing Spider-Man, based on characters created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, and Steve Kloves, and starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Chris Zylka, Irrfan Khan, C. Thomas Howell, and Stan Lee.

Richard (Campbell Scott) and Mary Parker (Embeth Davidtz) dump their young child off with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and leave, seemingly in a hurry and never to be seen again.  Later, he grows into Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield).  Well, he was Peter Parker before he grew up, but you know what I meant.  He’s in high school later in the movie, where he’s a nerd who is bullied by Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) is the object of his affections.  At home, Peter finds a briefcase owned by his father, and in it finds paperwork from his studies with herpetologist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).  He goes to OsCorp to see what Connors is working on and, while he’s exploring the facility, gets bitten by a genetically modified spider, which helps him develop spider-like abilities like wall crawling, enhanced strength and agility, and a danger-sensing spider sense.  No one could have seen any of this coming.  Well these powers will invariably bring great responsibility, ones that he chooses to ignore when he decides not to stop a robbery because the clerk was a dick and that leads to Uncle Ben being shot and killed.  Peter embarks on a vigilante crusade to find the killer.  Meanwhile, Dr. Connors takes his experiments to help regenerate his arm to the next level by testing on himself, and it winds up turning him into a giant lizard.  Can this man-spider put aside his own quest to defeat this lizard-like creature?  Yeah, probably.

I liked this movie, but some of the stuff fell pretty flat with me.  The story was fine, but I think a lot of the dialogue needed a lot of work.  The story is a bit of a reimagining of the classic Spider-Man story that the majority of us – and certainly the nerdiest of us – have heard numerous times.  Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider that’s been tested on somehow, he gets special powers, his uncle gets killed in some way that is arguably Peter’s fault, and he becomes Spider-Man.  That’s all the same.  This time the story was a little more modernized as genetic engineering is more of a today thing than radioactivity.  That was a big deal closer to the time Spider-Man was created and that’s why that was 90% of their origin stories.  They also go with a common store robbery to get things started instead of having Spider-Man be ripped off by his wresting promoter.  I have a feeling the store robbery is a more common thing there too.  The only problem with that is that I’m with Peter: I would’ve let that dude rob that douche hole of a store clerk too.  Sure, it worked out poorly for him this time, but the lesson needed to be learned.  But I’m not the kind of nerd that thinks things can’t be changed because they’re gospel, but I am still pleased that they stuck to the basics.  The Tobey McGuire movie stuck more towards the story I knew, but this movie also had the web shooters instead of Peter making webs out of his own wrists.  It was perhaps a little shaky in how they made Peter intelligent.  He was indeed smart, but he also left his camera with “Property of Peter Parker” written on the back of it for an enemy to find, so I’d say he’s not quite smart enough.  He also takes off his mask far too much for my liking.  I’ll take your word for it that it’s still Peter, but what’s the purpose of wearing a mask if you can’t go five minutes without taking it off in front of a kid or the police?  They also didn’t go for the Mary Jane character in this movie, probably because Kirsten Dunst already uglied up that role a while ago.  Gwen Stacy is an acceptable substitute.

I’d say the biggest problem I found with this movie is the dialogue.  Spider-Man had a good couple of one-liners in him that were amusing, but much of the dialogue just falls flat.  I feel like it’s most evident whenever Peter and Gwen were talking.  I understand that they’re supposed to like each other and probably be nervous with each other, but it just seemed like no one actually wrote dialogue sometimes, telling the actors to go out there and make it up as they go along, but neither one had anything to say.  The best example is the scene they show after the credits, where a hidden figure asks Connors if Peter knows about his father and Connors just says, “No.”  Good one, bro.  I did like the use of Peter’s cell phone to listen to the voicemail from Uncle Ben posthumously.  It felt like Superman listening to the message from his father, Jor-El, after his death.  Maybe it’s just because Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando were in Apocalypse Now together.

The look of the movie was also great times.  There were no parts of the movie that were horribly computer generated as in the first Spider-Man movie, so crawling up the walls looks great.  The suit looks just as good as always, and I really liked how they unveiled it slowly, piece by piece, until the full reveal after seeing Spider-Man through a first-person perspective that finally revealed it by having him land on a reflective building.  They use reflection to good effect later on too when Connors is standing by a glass door and looking at his reflection in a way that looks like he has both of his arms.  I didn’t like this door later because seeing “Curtis” in a reflection apparently makes me read “Citrus” for a while and get really confused.  There’s also a part of the movie where Spider-Man is trying to find the Lizard in the sewers and shoots webs down all the different tunnels and waits in the web until one of them vibrates to tell him something is down there.  I thought this was a really clever idea on the part of the writers, taken straight from nature.  I liked all of the action scenes in the movie too.  Spider-Man never used his webs so well in a fight in the other movies.  He balls up the lizard with them, pulls himself through the lizard’s legs, and pretty much uses his webs in every imaginable way.  It was all very exciting.

I liked all the performances in this movie, but it seems like they got some pretty solid actors to do this stuff.  I think I prefer Tobey McGuire, but Andrew Garfield did a commendable job.  He had all the wit and charm as Spider-Man, and all the nervousness and lack of confidence as Peter.  I much prefer Emma Stone to Kirsten Dunst, though.  I’ll go into it more when I get around to the first three Spider-Man movies, but Mary Jane was supposed to be a supermodel whereas Gwen Stacy was just a regular girl.  I suppose they went with Emma Stone because they couldn’t find many actresses uglier than Dunst.  Yeah, I said it!  Maggie Gyllenhaal was probably unavailable.  Well they just got tired of looking so they hired someone good looking instead.  And she’s incredibly cute and charming in this movie.  I also liked how she used every man’s weakness against her father when she was trying to hide the fact that Peter was in her room.  Women probably already know this, but if you start talking about cramps and menstruation stuff, most men (myself included), will curl up into a ball and start humming to themselves while crying.  I really liked Denis Leary as her father too.  He was funny while still being intimidating to Peter in every way.  I think the Lizard was a great villain to go to, the other big ones already having been used in the other movies.  I was also a fan of him because my dad was a herpetologist, which makes them the best kind of people.  Rhys Ifans also does a great job at it.  One could expect that Stan Lee would also be popping in for a bit in this movie.  I say make sure you look out for his scene, because it’s phenomenal, and quite possibly the best scene he’s ever been in for one of these movies.

Though I don’t necessarily feel that Spider-Man required a reboot so soon, they did a pretty good job of it.  The story is the same one we’ve seen in the comic books for the most part, but the changes they made were welcome and added a little bit more modern feel to the Spider-Man story.  The look was great, the action was fantastic and exciting, and I liked all of the performances, some even better than the original movie (Kirsten Dunst!).  The only complaint I have about this movie is that there is a large amount of dialogue that falls flat.  Altogether, I was satisfied with the rebooted Spider-Man, and I think you will be too.  It’s worth catching in a theater, but I’m guessing it won’t blow your mind.  The Amazing Spider-Man gets “I think he’s trying to do something maybe the police can’t” out of “Your father and I were going to change the lives of billions.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010 and 2011)


Not My Daughter, You Bitch!

Home stretch, people! Two Potter films and one Potter book remaining. I’ve enjoyed watching the films up to this point, but I do admit that 8 films in just over a day has begun to take it’s toll. It’s probably also taken it’s toll on you, my readers. If you have the dedication to my reviews to read 4 reviews, several thousand words, and lots of story summation, I thank you. But it’s about time we tie this up with a nice little bow on it. Today’s two films are based on one book, but it was determined that it held too much to compress into only one movie. I smashed them back together into one review. That review is of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, unfortunately the final book and final movie of the Harry Potter series, and fortunately the final review of Harry Potter I’ll have to write and you’ll have to read.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Year Seven)

Part One (2010)

Based on the novels by J.K. Rowling, written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by David Yates, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Rhys Ifans, Tom Felton, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Toby Jones, John Hurt, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Bill Nighy, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Warwick Davis, Miranda Richardson, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Michael Gambon, George Harris, David Thewlis, Natalia Tena, Domhnall Gleeson, Clemence Poesy, Frances De La Tour, and Matthew Lewis.

Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has been doing lots of damage now that Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is out of the way. The Order of the Phoenix assembles at the house of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) with a plan to escape, using Pollyjuice Potion to make 6 decoy Harrys. The real Harry rides with Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), but shit goes down pretty quickly as the Death Eaters, and Voldemort himself, attack the group. Harry and Hagrid barely escape. Alastor Moody (Brendan Gleeson), does not survive. Back at the Weasley house, the family and Harry ready for the celebration of the marriage between Bill Weasley (Domhnall Gleeson) and Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy), which is then interrupted by Death Eaters. Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) grabs Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Harry and apparates (teleports) to London. Here, they Pollyjuice their way into the Ministry of Magic and steal a Horcrux necklace from Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). The three barely manage to escape and Ron gets injured on the way. They find that they don’t know how to destroy the Horcrux, and Ron gets all pissy and leaves. Now, Ron and Hermoine spend the greater majority of the movie wandering around forests. Ron comes back and helps them destroy the Horcrux with the Sword of Gryffindor. They go visit Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans), father of Luna (Evanna Lynch), who tells them about the Deathly Hallows, which is comprised of the Resurrection Stone, the Cloak of Invisibility, and the item Voldemort is looking for, the Elder Wand. But he was only stalling. They took Luna and giving Harry to them was the only way to get her back. Hermoine hits Harry in the face with a Stinging curse to disguise him and they’re taken to the dungeon of Belatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), where they join Luna, Mr. Ollivander (John Hurt), and Griphook (Warwick Davis). With the help of Dobby (Toby Jones), they escape, but Belatrix gets the last laugh by throwing a knife and killing Dobby. At the end, Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore’s tomb and takes the Elder Wand for himself.

Part Two (2011)

Written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by Chris Columbus and David Yates. Adding to the cast Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Miriam Margolyes, Kelly Macdonald, Gary Oldman, Geraldine Somerville, Adrian Rawlins, David Bradley, Katie Leung, John Cleese, and Zoe Wanamaker.

Harry, Ron, and Hermoine use Griphook to get into the vault of Belatrix to get another Horcrux. They get back into Hogwarts to get a Basilisk fang to destroy it, and to find another Horcrux. When they get there, all Hell breaks loose and Voldemort’s army begins to face off against the good wizards and witches of Hogwarts. Harry goes to the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw (Kelly Macdonald) to find another Horcrux. They get into a fight with Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) that ends in a huge ball of fire and Harry saving Draco’s life. They destroy the two Horcruxes and Voldemort begins to feel uneasy as he’s running out of Horcruxes and the Elder Wand isn’t obeying him. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine go to the docks where they watch as Voldemort kills Snape (Alan Rickman), having decided that the Elder Wand was obeying him because he killed Dumbledore. After Voldemort leaves, Snape tells Harry to take his tears and put them in the Pensive so he can watch them. The memories show Snape’s childhood and his undying love for Harry’s mother and how all he had ever done was to protect her. He also sees that Snape killed Dumbledore under Dumbledore’s orders, in order to gain Voldemort’s trust and because Dumbledore was dying from a curse anyway. In the dreams, Harry finds out that he must die if Voldemort is going to die. He goes to meet Voldemort in order to be killed by him, which Voldemort is happy to oblige. But the Elder Wand is Harry’s, who defeated Draco, who had knocked the wand from the hand of Dumbledore, and thus the wand would not kill him. Voldemort takes Harry’s body back to Hogwarts to crush their spirits, but Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) speechifies the joint and Harry pops up. The fight reignites. Neville cuts the head off of Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, destroying the last of the Horcruxes. Harry reclaims his wand from Voldemort and Voldemort disintegrates. Harry breaks the Elder Wand and throws it into a gorge. Cut to 19 years later and Harry and his wife Ginny are dropping their kids off at Platform 9 3/4. They see Ron and his wife Hermoine dropping off their kids. And that’s the end of that.

This is the first time I will say this: this Harry Potter movie didn’t need to be made. Not both of them, we as an audience needed an ending out of this series. But they acted like there was simply too much movie to possibly contain in one movie, even though it had been contained to one book. One might argue that they actually thought that there was too much money to be made from this audience to make it only seven movies, when 8 would give us so much more. I think these movies could have easily been cut down into one, epic, 3 to 3 and a half hour movie. But that’s not what they did, so you get two paragraphs here. The story of Part One was great in parts, but they spent a lot of time wondering around in the forest that I felt could have easily been left out. It opens up with Hermoine using a spell on her parents that make them forget about her completely and even wipe her out of the pictures on the mantle, not thinking apparently about the fact that the parents would probably look at the pictures of them sitting at opposite ends of an empty table with plenty of space for a daughter and cake. Oh, I guess we’ll ignore that because we’re apparently weird enough to have completely empty picture frames up. But that’s a sweet backdrop in that picture, isn’t it Honey? But the concept of this was pretty heart-wrenching. I wish they had shown some sort of closure to that at the end of the movie about whether or not she could go back with Voldemort dead. Shortly after that, I found myself confused about what a big deal it apparently was for Voldemort to ask for Lucius Malfoy’s wand. They all seemed to take it as being in such poor taste as to be equivalent to “Hey Lucius. Let me get a crack at that lady friend of yours.” They packed a good deal of action into the first half-hour of the movie, even going so far as to include a “car” chase on brooms, but they kind of jacked Men in Black by making Hagrid drive upside-down in the tunnel. Shortly after, Harry’s bird gets killed, which I was more bummed about than I should have been over the death of an owl. They had a nifty – albeit ineffectual – security device that created a cloud that looked like Dumbledore that charged at people entering the Sirius Black residence. It was cool, and would freak me out at first, but it just dissipates into dust when it reaches you. My heart would be pounding, but I’d continue to intrude. There was another kind of sweet little moment when Harry saw that Hermoine was sad about Ron leaving and he got her to stand up and dance with him a little bit to cheer her up. Though I feel like this movie fails a bit in story, it still wins in graphics and settings. Even though I thought the time in the wilderness was a waste of time, the settings were all great to look at. And when they got to Bathilda’s house, it was straight out of a horror movie. It was really dark and dilapidated, there was a creepy old lady that didn’t speak, and a dead body in a closet. When Hermoine read the story of the Deathly Hallows, the animation was pretty rad as well. It looked like the Corpse Bride, but it didn’t suck. And the part where a fake Harry and Hermoine were projected out of the Horcrux to keep Ron from destroying it, it was pretty good, mainly because Hermoine was naked and making out with Harry. It didn’t show anything, but it’s as close as I’ll get to Hermoine for a while, I’m sure. And I’ve already seen pictures from Equus.

Part Two pretty easily makes up for the shortcomings of it’s predecessor. Good story, coming from wrapping up the series, lots of action packed battles, plenty of cameos from almost all characters from the Harry Potter universe, and lots of good times. The opening shot was very well done. It was a slow push in on Hogwarts with a nice fog surrounding it and some really faint, Celtic-sounding singing going on. That Celtic music really gets at my emotions. I felt like they had to cram a lot of the Horcruxes into a small amount of time to wrap up the film, taking care of at least three of them in this movie alone. Getting to one of them, the encountered a Gemino curse that made things duplicate when they touched them and almost had them drowning in a sea of cups and bracelets. I thought this was cool, well done, and a pretty dangerous concept. Ron and Hermoine finally kiss in this movie, but at a strange time. It was right after destroying a Horcrux and water exploded up around them and they seemed to just be standing there, shrug, and say I guess we’ll do this now. There were a lot of good fights in this movie, though not as much as in Order of the Phoenix. I really liked when Maggie Smith threw down against Alan Rickman midway through the movie and, of course, there was Harry and Voldemort, but neither of them touched my favorite one, which was sadly built up more in my head from reading about it before hand. I had read that Belatrix Lestrange was fighting Hermoine, Ginny, and Luna when Molly Weasley, still grieving over the death of her son Fred, took over, threw down hardcore, and killed that bitch. She still fought Belatrix and called her a bitch, but I felt like they should’ve given that scene a lot more strength as it seemed to have when I read about it. It was still pretty badass to me, but I was expecting total epic status. I don’t know what Molly was so sad about though. Just like they said in Observe and Report, if one of the twins die, that’s why God gave us a spare. But speaking of disappointing death scenes, I felt like the defeat of Voldemort deserved a little more oomph than it got. Harry knocks his wand out and he just kind of dissolves. Shoot that asshole, Harry! Reducto that sumbitch and turn him into a red mist or some shit! When the Battle at Hogwarts begins, it is pretty wild. It made me think it was like Saving Private Potter or something. The way it looked with a lot of the color defused reminded me of Saving Private Ryan, actually. For another point on graphics, Part Two seemed to pay attention to the reaction to the new Tron movie and took the time to make young Alan Rickman look good. He doesn’t change drastically, but what they did worked. Contrarily, aging the four kids for the end scene where we see them dropping their kids off didn’t work too well. The guys were fairly convincing, but it seemed they barely touched Ginny and Hermoine. I guess they still want them to be attractive over all else.

The performances in these movies are at the peak of what we’ll see out of these kids in a Harry Potter setting. We’ve watched them grow, both physically and as actors, over the course of this series, and I think they’ve got this acting thing down by the seventh and eighth films. Eighth looks weird when typed. Anyways! All three of the kids have a couple of good angry moments that are caused by wearing the Horcrux in Part One, especially Ron who gets angry enough to leave his lady. I feel that Daniel Radcliffe deserves some kudos for the part where there were 8 Harry’s in the same scene, because he actually did act like the character who was supposed to be him. The part with him taking the bra off as Fleur/Harry was pretty funny, but Emma Watson’s face turning into Harry’s first was disturbing. When I eventually date and marry Emma Watson, I just know that I’ll have some flashback of Daniel’s face popping up mid-coitus. I won’t stop, though. Daniel Radcliffe ain’t that bad on the eyes. But Daniel also deserves some kudos for his scene at the end of Part One where he has to mourn the death of the puppet in his lap because of Dobby’s death. But that little shit deserved to die. I specifically remember you promising Harry that you would NEVER try to save his life again at the end of Chamber of Secrets. That’s what happens to liars! Part One temporarily added Bill Nighy into the series, which I liked, but then it made me think that the only British actors I love that aren’t in this series are probably just Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Part Two finally gives Warwick Davis a chance to have a meatier part, as Griphook and Flitwick didn’t have to do very much in the other movies. He has a good portion of the first part of the movie as Griphook, dies, and then shows up in the second half as Flitwick. I think it was Flitwick, but I’m not really sure. Helena Bonham Carter is still my favorite villain in the series, but I liked her so much more when she was playing Hermoine as Belatrix. Her portrayal was so much different than her normal portrayal of Belatrix. She actually seemed cute and adorable. Also, Ron looked badass with the beard and the bondage jacket that he wore as Belatrix’ backup. Kelly Macdonald shows up as Helena Ravenclaw in Part Two and actually kind of scared me. Them ghosts seem to be bipolar or something. But she was good, and I probably mostly paid attention because I was trying to figure out where I knew her from until I realized it was Trainspotting. I also like Draco’s parents, Jason Isaacs and Helen McCrory, because they really cared about their son’s well being, even though at least Jason Isaacs never had shown it before.

Sadly, that is it, folks. I have completed the Harry Potter series. I’m pretty sure J.K. Rowling isn’t going to be writing any more and, even if she does, it may well be out of the time that the same actors could come back for it, and they probably wouldn’t want to be trapped in this universe forever. I’ll miss them, but I suppose I could read those books I own. Or, fuck that. I’ll just watch the movies again if I want. For the time being, I’m well Potter-ed out and will need a break. As for the final two movies, I liked them both plenty, though Part Two I liked a lot more. I still think they could have cut down a lot of wasted space from the first movie and just made this one really long final movie. It’s not like the Potter fans wouldn’t sit through it, and you could do an intermission if you were so worried. I still dig them though. I bought the 8 pack and, knowing myself, will probably do it again when the definitive collection (that was advertised on these very BluRays) comes out. Fuck you, movie makers. Haven’t I given you enough?! No? Then I will give you “Just keep talking about that little ball of light touching your heart” out of “Only I can live forever”. HAPPY NOW?!?!

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