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New Avengers Member In Ant-Man TV Spot – Spoiler

AntmanDual
The new TV spot for Marvels upcoming movie Ant-Man really gives you an idea of the comedy tone of the film. Actor Michael Peña is featured to great effect.

Also if you look very carefully, you can see Ant-Man on the tip of a gun in one shot. The person holding that gun is out of focus but it's easy to see it's none other then...

SPOILERS AT THIS POINT ON

Top 5 Remaining Summer Movies of 2015

The summer movie season is well under way. Avengers Age of Ultron, Furious 7 and Jurassic World have all laid waste to the box office. But it ain't over! Here are our picks for the rest of the summer.

5. Ant-Man (July 17)

Marvel is starting to ramp up the marketing behind this movie. Early word from those who have seen it have been mixed.

Get the rest after the jump

Qstorm Reviews Guardians of the Galaxy

Qstorm was hesitant to accept this assignment since he don't know nothing about these people. But Michael Dean reminded him that with great power comes great responsibility. So here's my review. Agree or disagree, but let us know what YOU think!

 

 

Qstorm Reviews LUCY

lucyLucy is a mixture of a number of familiar elements from other movies. There's a lot of Limitless (2011), The Matrix Reloaded, Transcendence (which I admittedly didn't see, but its clear from those trailers that there are similarities) and just a dash of John Travolta's Phenomenon (1996). The basic plot, of which I will not reveal any more than the trailers, is about a young woman (Scarlett Johansson) who involuntarily becomes a drug mule and has a package of drugs sewn into her abdomen. The drug in question is CPH-4, which is a synthetic version of--oh, hell with it, it's just like the drug in Limitless, okay? While in captivity, she's kicked in the stomach by a henchman, causing the bag within to leak the drug into her body, embuing her with god-like powers. Which begs the question, why did the henchman, who I assume knew she had the bag in her stomach, kick her in the stomach repeatedly?

Besides the fact that Morgan Freeman seems to playing the same character here as he did in Transcendence as well as the theme of becoming enmeshed in technology, I noted that Lucy had much in common with The Matrix Reloaded and Limitless. The problem is, although Lucy's central story is strikingly similar to Limitless, it doesn't crib enough from that film's fun, exciting, heady moments and unfortunately steals way too much from the turgidity of The Matrix Reloaded. Remember the scene when Neo meets the Architect, who proceeds to engage in the most boring incomprehensible exposition in the history of cinema? Lucy has a lot of scenes like that. Well, not nearly as bad, but it's full of exposition that becomes tedious. At the beginning of the film, we see Morgan Freeman's Prof. Norman lecturing at a symposium about the nature of man, Darwinism and the capacity of the human brain. This is intercut with scenes of Lucy being coerced into delivering a package to a drug kingpin by her boyfriend. Both elements go on way too long. Johanssen's opening scene with the boyfriend goes on forever until the viewer is like, "Please, either do what he's asking or just walk away!" And Freeman's lecture becomes an interminable diatribe. It becomes clear that the film wants to be a grandiose thesis on how humankind is failing to live up to its potential, and Freeman's monologue sets the stage for what turns out to be an inert lesson in humanity's shortcomings in reaching evolutionary perfection.

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 2.41.31 PM

When Freeman's not lecturing about this topic, we're forced to hear it repeated over and over again in dialogue or voiceover as the movie goes along. Every time I thought I was clear on what the film was trying to tell me, the script never hesitated to beat it over my head yet again. The film does attempt to break up the monotony of Freeman's exposition with allegorical footage of wild animals and Mother Nature at her worst. As the boyfriend, who's obviously a scumbag, corrals Lucy into delivering the briefcase, the movie cuts whimsically to footage of a cougar hunting a gazelle (or some mammal of prey). I thought this was indicative of a filmmaker who had a unique, quirky vision; it reminded me of when I first saw Tom Twyker's Run Lola Run. But Twyker knew when to stop. This technique goes past its expiration date when Freeman gets to lecturing about climate change and we see footage that we've seen many times before on the Weather Channel.

There are some great action sequences in the film; there's an energetic car chase (Hollywood must have mandated that any and all car chases must involve the protagonist driving the opposite way into one-way traffic) and a stunning scene in a hallway where Lucy is outnumbered by bad guys with guns. As Lucy's powers grow more and more implausible, the metaphysical dialogue becomes more burdensome and we begin to care less about the main character. I know my suspension of disbelief was pushed to the limit. Had I been allowed to get to know Lucy a little better, I may have been more invested as she grew more powerful. I may have been willing to stick with Lucy longer than I did. But we get virtually no background on the character. The story is off and running before we get to know her as a person, so it's difficult to empathize with her as she becomes less of a person. For me, the more compelling story was that of the drug mules who are rounded up and forced to courier the drugs. I was curious to learn more about them than anything else that was happening onscreen. Their terror is palpably convincing, partly because of how brilliant Choi Min-sik (Oldboy) is at playing the sociopathic drug lord Jang (yes, a significant portion of the film takes place in Taipei, since Hollywood knows where the money is to be made). It's immediately clear once we meet Jang that Lucy and the other mules are in serious trouble. I also found Amr Waked compelling as Inspector Del Rio, a guy just doing his job and trying to make sense of what's happening around him.

The conclusion is nearly incomprehensible. I won't give anything away, but it involves a lot of CGI, animation and mind-effing. As unbelievable as Lucy's powers become, the denouement tops that with a "WTF, that's IT" resolution, that is to say, the movie doesn't really bother to answer or even speculate on the questions it raises. I don't mind ambiguous endings; Lost In Translation, also starring ScarJo, is an example of ambiguity done right. I was so vested in those main characters, I didn't mind filling in the blanks as pertains to her whisper into Bill Murray's ear. After all the lofty platitudes and preaching Lucy throws at us, it thinks it can provide answers with effects razzle-dazzle when it fails to provide a fully fleshed out main character with which I can identify. That's the biggest mind-eff of all.

2/5 reels

P.S. I'll say this much for Lucy: having seen the trailers and thinking that the titular character was just a derivative of Scarlet Johannsen's Black Widow, I was purged of that notion about a third of the way into the film. There's no resemblance between Lucy and Natasha Romanoff. Funny thing is, I'm not so sure that's a good thing. Maybe a little more fighting with fists and high heels instead of with her mind would've given at least one more cool action scene.

First look at Henry Cavill as Superman in Batman v Superman

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Now filming in Detroit 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' will be released May 6th 2016. This is our first look at Henry Cavill in the Superman costume, and yes he is in Gotham city.

Zack Snyder spoke with USA Today and dropped some tidbits about the movie.

Speaking on why Batman was added to the film:

Instead of using several movies to define Affleck's Batman, Snyder felt the character's 75-year mythology is so deep in culture now that they can just jump to an older, road-weary take on the Dark Knight. Plus, he says, "it's cooler to see a crusty old Batman beating the snot out of guys."

Instead of using several movies to define Affleck's Batman, Snyder felt the character's 75-year mythology is so deep in culture now that they can just jump to an older, road-weary take on the Dark Knight. Plus, he says, "it's cooler to see a crusty old Batman beating the snot out of guys."

Gil Gadot as Wonder Woman:

Similarly, Snyder also knows that putting the iconic superheroine Wonder Woman on a movie screen is a big deal, too. He says he hasn't filmed any scenes with Gadot as the Amazonian princess yet, but "she's working out and getting buff and ripped."

The V in Batman v Superman is there for a reason:

The director can't say exactly how the relationship between the two superheroes evolves, "but suffice it to say there is a 'v' in between their names" in the movie title, Snyder says. He explains that having the "v" instead of "vs." is a way "to keep it from being a straight 'versus' movie, even in the most subtle way."

THE BEST AND WORST MOVIES OF THE 2014…SO FAR By Sean Hill

singlemom

2014 has been a terrible year for films thus far. It has been so bad that I did not give my first positive review of a film until the last day of February. Typically studios release their big budget “Oscar worthy” films in the later part of the year, usually November and December. The summer months are reserved for the big-budget action/superhero spectaculars.

Weekend Box Office: Michael Bay F U Pay Me! Transformers $100 Million Opening

Transformers_Age_of_ExtinctionThe critics (and us) called the Transformers: Age Of Extinction crap, but the movie going audience said otherwise. Transformers 4 turned this weekends box office into a money printing cineplex. The Michael Bay directed film made over $100 million in north America. Overseas the long form toy commercial  took in another $201 million at the box office. Worldwide total = $301 million. 

Title Weekend  Total

1. Transformers 4 $100,000,000 $100
2. 22 Jump Street $15,400,000 $139.8
3. How to Train Your Dragon 2$13,100,000 $121.8
4. Think Like A Man Too $10,400,000 $48.1
5. Maleficent $8,237,000 $201.8
6. Jersey Boys $7,610,000 $27.3
7. Edge of Tomorrow $5,210,000 $84.1
8. The Fault in Our Stars $4,800,000 $109.5
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past $3,300,000 $223.3
10. Chef $1,694,000 $19.4

 

QSTORM REVIEWS EDGE OF TOMORROW

"Live, die, repeat, my ass. You get one last take, Liman, or we walk!"
"Live, die, repeat, my ass. You get one last take, Liman, or we walk!"

First was War Of The Worlds. Then Oblivion. Now we have Edge Of Tomorrow. Earlier this week, I posted on Facebook whether or not Tom Cruise is contractually obligated to work with aliens. After seeing this film, turns out it took three attempts to get it right.

 

That's not to say the previous films weren't good films. But what they lacked, this film makes up for in spades, namely a just right amount of humor intermingled with wall-to-wall action. This is a film that knows precisely when it needs to be serious and when it needs to relax, go with it and have fun. Are you listening, Godzilla?

 

On the surface, the story is a mashup of 1986's Aliens, with all the futuristic weapons and exo-suits employed by the military, even down to aliens with acid for blood; a dash of Starship Troopers, and a heaping dose of Groundhog Day. Tom Cruise plays former ad-exec William Cage, now a major in a unified Western military that is at war with an alien race called the Mimics. Cage is essentially a cheerleader for the military, using his marketing skills to convince the public that the war is winnable, which in fact it is not. After insulting the general of the allied forces, Cage is thrown on the frontline of battle, although he has no combat training. Seems a little harsh (and contrived) to sentence a man with no fighting skills to death for mouthing off a little, given he's in fear for his life, but no matter. Predictably, Cage doesn't last long when deployed on the battlefield, in a scene that, perhaps in slight bad taste, is reminiscent of the Normandy invasion (especially given the fact that the movie opened on the 70th anniversary of that event). However, despite the comparison, the opening battle scene is a wonder and through a series of circumstances, Cage finds himself in a time loop, where he repeats the day every time he dies. Which is frequently.

 

It's in these scenes where Cruise just absolutely shines. I cannot begin to tell you how much of a joy it was to see the usually indomitable Cruise portray a feckless powerless grunt who has absolutely no clue what he's doing, in advance of the hell he's about to experience. It's Cruise playing totally against type and he nails it. The first time his unit is deployed, I genuinely felt pity and sorrow for the guy because he reacted just as I would were I forced into a heavy metal exoskeleton which I didn't know how to operate, with an inadequate number of rounds, surrounded by soldiers who couldn't care less if I died, and I were forced to jump out of an exploding plane into the midst of a battle with multi-tentacled aliens. As the story progresses, of course Cage gets better and better with each reset, until he becomes the superhuman Tom Cruise we're all familiar with. As a matter of fact, the last act of this film, plays like Cruise's Mission Impossible franchise; all humor is jettisoned for all-out action. But it works. Even the ending, as hokey as it is, plays out exactly as we expect and it's exactly what we want.

 

As far as the cast, Emily Blunt is awesome. It shows that she trained her butt off to perform many of her stunts and I wonder if her agent didn't screw up by not getting her an audition for the Wonder Woman role in the upcoming Batman v. Superman film. Noah Taylor, otherwise known as Locke, the guy who cut off Jaime Lannister's hand on Game Of Thrones, has a small role as an engineer who assists Cruise and Blunt in their mission to defeat the aliens. Bill Paxton appears as Master Sergeant Farrell, Cage's commanding officer, and he does what he does best. Paxton, throughout his career, has proven there's pretty much nothing he can't do; he goes toe to toe with Cruise onscreen and more than holds his own. I love that Paxton is back at playing smug wiseass characters as also seen on Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD, because he's so damn good at that. But as is usually the case in a Tom Cruise movie, the film belongs to Cruise. No matter what you may think of him offscreen, the guy consistently delivers, and does no less here. Despite the impossibly good looks and fit build at 51 years of age; unlike many of his films in the last decade or so which occasionally played as vanity projects, here Cruise brings humor, humility and vulnerability to the role. He doesn't come off as a superman, as he so often does in his action films. That is, until he is required to become the hero, and by the time he assumes that mantle, we're absolutely ready for it and we demand it.

 

The aliens were a bit of a letdown. While they are monstrous, their design is CGI overkill. They're imbued with abilities that don't make much sense, given their appearance and the fact that they seem as personable as the xenomorphs from the Alien franchise. They're afforded all the cliches that many summer movie alien hordes of late have suffered. The logic behind some of the plot makes little sense. The title sounds like a soap opera that your mom watched back in the 1950s. But this is Cruise in top form and the movie fires on nearly every piston. Edge Of Tomorrow demands that you see it today. 4/5 reels

X-MEN: Days Of Future Past – Qstorm review

"Well, yeah, it's convoluted, but are you not entertained?"
"Well, yeah, it's convoluted, but are you not entertained?"

(MILD SPOILERS)

I'm old enough to have read the classic Days Of Future Past storyline when it originally came out in the X-Men comic book back in the 80s. The story, broken down to it's basic components is rather simple: due to the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly at the hands of a mutant, Trask Industries creates the Sentinels to wipe out mutantkind. The Sentinels go awry and proceed to wipe out both mutants, superhumans, and much of humanity, thus in the future, the X-Men send Kitty Pryde back to the past to prevent the senator's murder in the hopes of normalizing relations between mutants and humans. After seeing the debacle that was X-Men: The Last Stand in terms of the portrayal of the even more classic Dark Phoenix story arc, I was concerned this would be a debacle as well. Well, I wouldn't say it was a debacle, because the basic storyline is intact, but it is somewhat of a convoluted hodgepodge of corporate decisions and questionable direction.

Want to ensure you get the most bang for your buck? Then rather than send Kitty Pryde back in time, you send Wolverine back in time. Okay, I can forgive that because, yes, I'd rather see Jackman's Wolverine anchor the film as opposed to Ellen Page. However, other signs of corporate interference include the introduction of certain characters and the altering of well-known characters. East European Pietro Maximoff, a mutant speedster and highly arrogant adult in the comics, becomes Peter Maximoff, an American emo teen. And his function in the film is nominal, save for a visually interesting set piece which demonstrates how remarkably fast he is (although as a former reader of X-Men and Avengers comic books, I didn't buy that he is that fast). Kitty Pryde, a mutant who can pass through solid objects, is inexplicably endowed with the ability to send people's conscious minds into the past. Well, that's convenient. Especially given that Charles Xavier, a mutant telepath, actually possesses that ability! But I suppose the bean counters saw Patrick Stewart as a bigger bean than Ellen Page, so bada-boom, bada-bing, Stewart keeps his dialogue, Page grimaces in the background. And most egregious, the bean counters couldn't have a crippled young Xavier, thus the creation of a serum that allows him to walk. Unfortunately, to hide this superficiality, the writers devise the notion that the serum blocks Xavier's telepathic abilities because he can't deal with all the voices in his head. Despite the fact this wasn't a problem for him in any of the previous X-Men installments. And to round it out, the Beast, for reasons I can't understand, is required to perform a spot on impersonation of the Hulk, similarly limited to growls and roars while in Beast mode. I can only assume the writers found it too much of a challenge to write dialogue for a furry blue guy.

Other issues with this movies I attribute to Bryan Singer. He seems to have difficulty with pacing. And plotting. Events occur and dialogue is spoken that have no consequence or necessity. Was it necessary to insert John F. Kennedy into dialogue in such a preposterous fashion? Did we need the added tension of Kitty being mortally injured in the future? Camera shots are blocked as if to purposefully confuse the audience. Is that actually Xavier or a mental projection of Xavier? Actions and motivations are murky. If Magneto is willing to sacrifice a beloved member of his team to assure that humans don't embrace the Sentinel program, why is he later so gung-ho to assassinate the president in front of a global audience? Wouldn't it make more sense for the X-Men to stop the assassin prior to the national event where the assassination is to take place, where cameras from around the world are focused on the terrifying battle and the public couldn't give a damn if the X-Men were acting out of good intentions? But worse yet, in the climactic scene, certain characters that have been set up to be pivotal to the action are rendered completely feckless. The climax undermines everything that we've seen prior. I don't want to say any more than that so as not to completely spoil the film. But it makes a viewer like me very frustrated in that I maintain this silly notion that a good plot involves A leading to B leading to C and so on.

Having said all that, I recommend this film. I give the filmmakers credit for creating a story that's massive in scope. I also have to respect the fact that they wanted to erase the slate clean of the past X-Men films, as their attitude towards franchise continuity is decidedly "NFG" (No F--ks Given).*  I applaud them for addressing some instances of possible continuity error, however, I had to eventually give up trying to determine where this film resided in the timeline of the X-Men cinematic universe; I believe the past storyline takes place a few years after X-Men: First Class (although many of the young mutants in that film are unaccounted for here) and the future storyline takes place ten years after 2013's The Wolverine. There is plenty of action and exciting visuals--Magneto uses RFK stadium to entrap the White House. There's absolutely no reason for it, but it looks amazing. There's great chemistry between the characters and the acting is top-notch. Michael Fassbender is once again awesome as Magneto; Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart are all great. The future is convincingly dystopian, downright dark. Unfortunately, Halle Berry and Ian McKellen don't contribute much. But the unlikely casting of Game Of Thrones' Peter Dinklage is brilliant. Is there anything this man can't do? As much as I want to refrain from commenting on his diminutive stature, I can't help but point out this guy is the definition of a good actor being able to deliver, no matter the circumstances. Although only 4' 5", Dinklage's presence is one of the most commanding throughout the film. I'm convinced he could play nearly any role. The only criticism I have is that it seems unlikely there's no mention of Trask's appearance in terms of genetic anomaly, yet his entire crusade is against people with genetic anomalies.

Is it a bad film? I guess I'd say no. Could it have been better? Absolutely yes. While I enjoyed X-Men: First Class far more, this film is worth seeing. Although unnecessarily confusing and murky at times, it's worth a second viewing to determine if the confusion is the fault of the film or the fact that I wasn't paying close enough attention. Actually, during the 9:15 am screening I attended, the film froze in place during one scene and we were informed that it would be fixed quickly. Rather than wait, I took the opportunity to sneak into the 9:45 am showing down the hall, hoping that going back a half-hour into the film, I'd pick up on some of the more confusing plot points. That didn't help much. So I recommend you go see it and report back to me; you can help clear up the stuff I missed. 3/5 reels

*Michael Dean™

P.S. I should point out that while leaving the theater, I heard another viewer on his cell phone say, "Yeah, it was pretty good…but not as good as Captain America." Hear, hear.

For more reviews, visit Lightning Strikes!

Qstorm reviews Godzilla

"What was that ish you were talking about canceling the apocalypse?"
"What was that ish you were talking about canceling the apocalypse?"

I wasn't that much of a Godzilla fan as a kid. I seem to recall thinking it was a bit silly, given Godzilla was obviously some guy in a latex suit (I was a huge Ultraman fan, probably because Ultraman was more anthropomorphic). But then, when other monsters were introduced for Godzilla to fight, it became a little cooler. Still, I maintained a distance. I watched the 80s cartoon ("Up from the depths, thirty stories high, breathing fire, he stands in the sky!") and enjoyed that. Fast forward nearly twenty years later and I'm watching a leaner, refined Godzilla from Roland Emmerich. Maybe because I wasn't a devoted Godilla fan, I liked the new more realistic look. Sure, I hated most of the cartoonish characters and the Jurassic Park cribbing, but I walked away mildly entertained by the creature. Still chasing Godzilla fandom, I watched Cloverfield and Pacific Rim, both of which I consider to be in the same wheelhouse as Godzilla. Again, I was mildly entertained, despite the silliness. Then came news of Godzilla, a film that reverts the creature back to his upright-standing roots. Listening to all the buzz, I figured this would be the film that would finally, after nearly four decades, lock me in as a Godzilla fan.

Unfortunately, I walked away from this film only mildy entertained, slightly bored, perhaps even less of a Godzilla fan. Why less? I've narrowed it down to two main reasons:

1) All the movies and programs I previously mentioned, including the widely-reviled 1998 film, had one thing in common that this film lacks in spades: at a minimum, they were FUN. Let me be clear, I have no problem with taking a campy property or concept and injecting a more serious tone. In fact, I welcome it. But you gotta know when to let up. With Godzilla, the filmmakers clearly don't. The first half hour is devoted to the always amazing Bryan Cranston setting up the story. As Joe Brody, supervisor of the Janjira nuclear plant in Japan, he comes across as the stereotypical "lone person" who knows the truth about what is yet to be, but is marginalized. Although his character is a familiar trope, Cranston holds the screen. The nuclear plant is destroyed in an alleged earthquake and Brody pays a huge price.

Fast forward fifteen years and, as you would expect, he's become the lunatic no one takes seriously, even his grown naval munitions expert son (Kick-Ass's Aaron Taylor-Johnson). It's not until creatures start sprouting from the ground that his warnings are taken seriously and of course, by then, it's too late. Whenever Cranston is the focus of the plot, the film maintains an intriguing gravity. But that becomes trying nearly a half hour into the film with no appearance by Godzilla. And when Cranston is not the center of the plot, it becomes expositorily leaden. If you thought Man Of Steel wrung all the fun out of Superman, you're likely to be similarly disappointed. As a nuclear scientist, Ken Watanabe, another reliable actor, punctuates the fact that there's not much fun to be had here, because he's given very little to do outside of scowling and frowning in subdued panic while delivering all his lines in the stereotypical clipped and stern fashion that speaks of IMPENDING DOOM, reserved for two-dimensional Japanese characters in hokey martial arts films.

2) I would assume that a film entitled Godzilla would feature…Godzilla. Godzilla seemed to be an afterthought in this film. Put it this way: as I mentioned earlier, the first act involves much character definition along with plot setup. We exit the first half not having seen Godzilla, but two large creatures resembling metallic stinkbugs. I can't overstate that much of this portion of the film is devoted to the portentous admonitions of Brody, warning of impending doom if they don't heed his advice that the tremblings underneath their feet are more than an earthquake. It's beaten over our heads that SOMETHING is coming and sure enough, once the first stinkbug appears (they're referred to as MUTO: Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms), all hell breaks loose. The creature lays waste to Honolulu and soon thereafter runs rampant in Las Vegas and San Francisco, joined by a companion MUTO.

Putting aside the odd design of these creatures, from a CG standpoint, they are impressive. Although like nearly every other kaiju film of late, they're rarely shot in broad daylight, only in fog, mist, rain and night. The populace and we the audience are awed by their size and mass. And they do look convincingly massive. Their presence and the havoc they wreak are in direct proportion to the awe and fear they're afforded prior to their appearance. But this is a Godzilla movie. And surprisingly, Godzilla's introduction comes across as merely an afterthought. Godzilla is just all of a sudden…there. It makes one scratch one's head why all the shock and awe that any of these MUTO creatures could exist when apparently this movie wants us to believe that some of the characters are fully aware that Godzilla has been in existence for some time. And for whatever reason, when he appears out of the blue, or more accurately, out of the sea, his only motivation is to fight the MUTO. No explanation is given, as far as I could tell, why he suddenly appears, other than he's been tracking the creatures. For nearly 60 years. Okay, moving on. Godzilla's sudden appearance, with the flimsiest of setups, is rationalized as his being akin to a force of nature. More than that, Godzilla comes off as deus ex machina with scales.When the fighting ensues, the destruction is akin to an extinction-level event. Throw a red cape on Godzilla and it's Superman vs. Zod in Metropolis all over again. At least, the mayhem here is warranted, given it's caused by mindless monsters.

The film is peppered with ostentatious nods to the Asian audience, one of which is glaringly obvious involving a lost Asian child. It borders on insulting, particularly given that it goes absolutely nowhere. Nonetheless, I think I speak for us all when I say we come to a Godzilla movie to see Godzilla stomp around, breathe fire (blue fire?), and fight other monsters. Sure, it's great when the source material is taken seriously. But if that's the approach, why cut corners and limit an actor of Cranston's abilities to a handful of scenes and why not give Godzilla the setup he deserves, force of nature or not? Having said that, there's a fine line to walk when making a film of this nature too serious. Because at the end of the day, let's remember that the source material revolves around a guy wearing a latex suit. 3/5 reels

P.S. I don't know if it's the innate immature schoolboy in me or if I should submit myself to a series of Rorshacht tests, but something about seeing a female MUTO, despite the fact it's a horrifying creature, take a phallic-shaped nuclear missile and stick it between it's legs makes me think of Samuel L. Jackson's proclamation that Redtube is one of the greatest contributions to pop culture in the last 50 years.

For more reviews, go to Lightning Strikes!

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 REVIEW

the-amazing-spider-man-2-major-spoiler-plot-details-header

This review contains MILD SPOILERS.

Well, I'll say this much for Amazing Spider-Man 2. It managed to do what I considered to be impossible. It made me yearn for Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire to return to the franchise.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. I wasn't a huge fan of the Raimi trilogy and I'm including Raimi's Spider-Man 2 which some have labeled one of the best superhero movies ever. The plots didn't grab me and Maguire seemed like a lost puppy dog. But at least his Peter Parker had a sweet innocence about him which contrasted with his alter-ego. Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is kind of a dick. Put it this way, in the screening I attended, there was a promo with Garfield and Stone right before the movie, where they inform us that we can go upgrade our ticket for a few extra bucks to be first in line for the Blu-Ray. Before I go further, let me say if this had appeared after the film was over, I would've told the both of them to do something to themselves that rhymes with 'cluck,' as in huge turkey, as in this movie. Even in the promo, Garfield comes off as a smug jerk. Which makes me wonder how much he's acting in this film. He's full of annoying tics, head-swaying and bobbing…he comes off as either a total spaz or a drunk.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 manages to leap frog past the original Spider-Man 2 and jumps right into committing all the errors that Spider-Man 3 did. Multiple convoluted subplots--I'm still not clear why Parker's parents were on the run and why they felt it necessary to abandon their only child. I know what the script wants me to swallow, but I didn't buy it--multiple villains crammed in to the storyline and forced into unlikely alliances, cartoonish and underdeveloped characters--SCREECH, let's apply the brakes for a second and delve into this.

Only a masterful screenwriter could successfully convince me that a character whom I've met all of a few minutes onscreen is Peter Parker's best friend from childhood. And the three credited writers on this film are not masters. Well, one of the writers is Roberto Orci, who's responsible for the original Transformers and last year's worst film, Star Trek: Into Darkness. Rather than make an attempt to set up the relationship between Parker and Harry Osborn in the opening scene (which should've taken place in the first film), they devote the first five minutes to a fight scene involving Parker's parents. Subsequently, there's nothing substantial in this film that requires all the opening exposition centered on the parents that couldn't have been accomplished with a couple throwaway lines. Then you have Gwen Stacy, who is ingeniously written as an employee of Oscorp. Quelle coincidence! She's also written as smarter than Peter Parker in the science department. Huh? You have Max Dillon, who is written first as a cartoon character (with a cartoonish soundtrack set behind him as well), then once he gains his powers, he becomes a two-dimensional lackey to Harry Osborn, who becomes the Green Goblin, in a sequence that has the same tacked-on feeling as Venom had in Spider-Man 3. The Rhino is not even worth mentioning. If you were unhappy with the denouement of Liam Neeson's The Grey (2011), the Rhino's appearance will provide you with unhappy memories. The Rhino's only raison-d'etre is to provide a bridge to upcoming Sony comic book movie releases.

But let me return to Andrew Garfield. Whenever he's onscreen as Parker, whomever else is onscreen with him acts rings around him. Emma Stone, Dane Dehaan (who I believe is an actor to keep your eye on), and especially Sally Field all mop up the floor with him. Garfield, whom I thought was excellent in The Social Network, is simply annoying. What I saw as quirky, or as a different take on Peter Parker in the first film comes off as asshole-ish in this film. You hear from some actors how they studied the movements of a character or animal in order to nail the character perfectly. Garfield slacked off on his studies. He is not convincing when he appears in practical shots wearing the costume. He looks like any other human being in the costume as opposed to looking like a man who moves like a spider, as the character does in the books.

This is a Spider-Man film where a character breaks free of Spidey's webbing with a pair of scissors. A film where a powerful godlike villain is inexplicably defeated by some kind of generic power beam. Where Oscorp is established as being the source of all Spider-Man's future foes. Where I suppose Oscorp is involved in genetic manipulation, yet Paul Giamatti's Rhino wears a battle suit (so is Oscorp into genetic study or battle tech?). Where we're supposed to believe Max Dillon single-handedly designed the entire power grid for New York City, only to have it stolen by Oscorp--wait, Oscorp is a power utility too? Where Peter pushes Gwen away, then stalks her and whines when she prepares to study at Oxford (note that Woody Allen did this 35 years ago in Manhattan) . Where Gwen Stacy breaks bad and schools Spider-Man (who in the comics is a top-notch science student) on his web shooters. Where the writers use Gwen in a ridiculous fashion to move the plot along to a shocking climax (no pun intended--I say shocking, but the only emotion I felt at this point was nonchalance). This is a film where scenes which seem like set ups have no pay off. And finally, I imagine the Blu-Ray will not contain any additional or extended scenes because at two and a half hours, I believe the cutting room floor where this was edited was clean enough to eat off of. Meaning there was nothing left out and there was so much that should have been. All this to say the movie is full of potholes and plot devices that exist simply to get from point A to point B, unconvincing characterizations and motivations, and overlong uninteresting scenes.

To add insult to injury, the end credit sequence doesn't even involve Spider-Man. It's a truncated scene from X-Men: Days Of Future Past that has no connection to Spider-Man whatsoever. So, are the producers suggesting they're so clueless about the direction of the Spider-Man franchise, they weren't prepared with a proper credit sequence to whet our appetites for Amazing Spider-Man 3, to which Garfield is already committed? Or maybe the geniuses behind this film didn't realize the scene with the Rhino was actually the scene they should've used for the credits given that was all it was worth?

If ever there was a movie that's not worth seeing but I know you're going to see anyway, it's this one. But at least take this advice: don't waste your money on the 3D. Paying $13 for the 3D matinee would be like throwing salt into a big, wide, gaping pus-filled wound. 2/5 reels

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