The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2Released: May 2, 2014. Directed by: Marc Webb. Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx. Runtime: 142 min.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 proves you can only have as many as three villains in a film to have the narrative still remain coherent. The tightly packed narrative makes the film have minor pacing issues – but this is still a heck of a lot of fun and a great follow-up to a solid introduction. It’s at least not Spider-Man 3 all over again, because at least we’re spared from unlikable stretches with the main character – but a difference is Garfield will still be mildly tolerable. I think Marc Webb is too smart to do that all over again.

The film finds Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) in his most personal battle yet. He’s still trying to find out why his parents had to leave, which is a good mystery that fits well into the narrative but packs it tighter. He sees Gwen Stacy’s (Emma Stone) father everywhere he goes, unable to shake his promise he made to stay away from Gwen to keep her out of danger. The super villain of this film is a cool villain called Electro (Jamie Foxx). His battles become more personal when Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) comes back into town after the death of his father. Peter comes to realize that a lot of things that happen in his life and that affect him enemy-wise revolve around one thing: Oscorp.

A personal battle for the characters on-screen, this is also more painful and personal for audience members, more-so fans of the franchise. The urgency audience members will feel for some character’s safety adds intensity to the film. The narrative does well with foreshadowing. Peter’s love for Gwen gives him a layer of vulnerability; you’d think he’d protect her better as Spider-Man by disguising his voice like Batman does. Andrew Garfield plays to his strengths as his character, and he gets a lot more laughs than the last film – losing himself in a Marvel-like and comedic atmosphere. (This is one of Marvel’s funnier films.) His chemistry with Emma Stone is just so easy to love. It’s a great and natural chemistry that makes you tell that the characters work better when they’re in each other’s lives. They’re allowed to play to their emotional strengths as actors, as well; Stone notably in a lovely graduation speech which is very inspiring. Sally Field also has a great scene where she shows her strengths as a dramatic actress.

One part that interests me about the plot is that Parker’s involvement with the Daily Bugle is played down; only mentioned as an income for Peter, and he only e-mails J. Jonah Jameson and never actually goes into the Bugle. I think it’s smart that Webb doesn’t cast a Jameson, because J.K. Simmons is such a great actor to portray the character. Since Peter only e-mails Jameson, which is an arc that makes sense in the digital age, it saves probably saves five minutes that would have just added to the already lengthy 142 minutes that doesn’t need anything more. I don’t like that Spider-Man is so controversial in this film; a lot of people think he should just let the cops do their jobs. He saves a lot more people than the cops ever could; and I think the controversy aspect would be better suited for the titular hero in Kick-Ass. I think the R-rated crime fighting would be a more realistic subject to criticism inside the film.

Anyway, Spidey learns the hard way that he shouldn’t save everyone by saving Max Dillon (Foxx), who later becomes Electro in a freak accident, which is the origins story based more on the one from the classic Marvel universe. I think Max’s motivations are very human, as well – he’s a mild-mannered, insecure guy who wants some attention and to be needed. Foxx gives a cool performance as Electro, with some awesome electric vocal styles. Hans Zimmer also has a lot of fun with the score, making voices in Electro’s head an electric song in its own – most notably during a critical introduction of the villain. He delivers yet another great score, but we rarely expect anything less from him.

Dane DeHaan is great as Harry Osborn. His arc in this reboot is different than the one in the original trilogy – and his human motivation of his own survival is easy to understand and well-written. DeHaan is magnetic as the character, funny at times and chilling at the end; where he receives a make-up job which makes this a physically demanding role. I’ve really liked him as an actor ever since 2012’s Chronicle, particularly his his apex predator monologue. Chris Cooper is disappointingly under-utilized as Norman Osborn, where we only see him in one measly scene on his death bed.

The film has another talented star as a villain, Paul Giamatti – but his limited role is really just a preview for the next film. I’m patient enough to see more development for him next time around, as he works perfectly as a bridge to the next film. Giamatti sports an over-the-top Russian accent and has a lot of fun as Aleksei Sytsevich. It’s funny that, in the beginning, Marc Webb decides to include two introductory action sequences. One with Peter’s father on a plane action sequence; and then it skips to the present day to a car chase with Giamatti’s Russian terrorist. I liked the performances from the antagonists in this film more than Marvel’s last outing Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I think the villain’s motivations are more realistic and easier to understand. Something that also really works for the film is its stunning CGI visual effects, beautifully filmed action sequences and a phenomenal finale in a clock tower. Those memorable scenes, and the film’s humour, make this a ride well worth taking.

Score: 83/100

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Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln

Release Date: November 16, 2012

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn

Runtime: 149 min

Lincoln is a film that is much easier to respect or admire, than it is to enjoy and be thoroughly entertained. While it does have sparks of humour here and there, it goes more for fascination than anything else. Speaking of the humour, it is quite impressive that the writers threw that in because of the serious subject matter. Lincoln follows Abraham Lincoln’s endeavours, during the American Civil War, to pass a constitutional Amendment to free the slaves. The performance by the great Daniel Day-Lewis adds layers to Lincoln. His reserved and kind voice makes him seem quite real – and he is. The relationships he has with everyone are all very kind, and he even treats his enemies with respect. He’s the sort of guy one would want as a neighbour, or maybe even the president of the United States of America. Oh wait, he was.

The cast is great (especially Day-Lewis, Fields, Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the cinematography is great, just about everything that is done here is impressive. Steven Spielberg feels like a director, at this time that is not interested in directing blockbusters like Jaws or Jurassic Park, but ambitious biographies like this. With past works like War Horse, Schindler’s List, or Munich, it is evident that he [Spielberg] possesses a flaring interest for history. Though, those audience members who don’t share at least a small interest for history, may not like this all that much. It is impressive, but at times it is difficult to grasp the events that are unfolding. In that way, it’s a film better watched in a home setting – so one could pause the film after most scenes, and absorb and make sure they can comprehend the information that was just told to them. Monologue after intelligent monologue just gets packed on, and sometimes they can be hard to follow. There’s a bunch of movie buffs out there, but there may not be as many history buffs. That’s why this is quite the impressive achievement that shall be an Oscar front-runner, but it simply may not be the right choice for a casual moviegoer. Make sure your mind is fresh before you see it, and be open to having two and a half hours of information intricately thrown your way.

80/100

New film poster for the movie ‘Lincoln’.

 

I like the look of this poster. Simple, but effective. The ‘A STEVEN SPIELBERG Film’ (which is barely eligible here), and the credit for Daniel Day-Lewis should bring in quite the crowd.

I’ve read about the film before, but was just reminded of it now. It’s a film that I’ll wait to get when it gets released as home media, but it does seem like an interesting flick.

It’s about how Abraham Lincoln (evidently), the sixteenth President of the United States, guided the North to victory during the Civil War. It gets released on November 16, 2012. It seems like a really interesting biopic, and Day-Lewis seems like he’d be great in this role.

The film also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jackie Earle Haley (who played Freddy Krueger in that awful Nightmare remake), David Strathairn, Sally Field and James Spader, to name a few. Pretty stellar cast I’d say.

I’m also quite excited to see what Spielberg will bring to the project; he’s such a great director.