Additional Amazing Spider-Man 2 Idiocy

Last year I dissected the awfulness that was Man of Steel. The movie so appalled me that I wrote three separate blog posts on it.

Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not appalling and I just gave it a meh review BUT there is so much wrong with it that I’m having to devote a second post to it. This time I want to go into some detail on the plot. I won’t post spoilers but I do consider items in the trailer and the first two thirds of the movie to be fair game.

Let me start with the trailer. Often a trailer will have a scene that ends up cut from the movie. The trailer for Die Hard 2 had a great scene with John McClane wandering the air ducts, complaining about how this was how he spent last Christmas. Disney put in a scene with Mike Wazowski as a Disco Ball that was not actually in Monsters University. Those may be a little unfair but they have nothing on The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s trailer.

First off, the Andrew Garfield voiceover, where he is concerned about running into too many enemies, is not only not in the film but that is not even how his character feels at ANY point in the film. The scene where Harry Osborn informs Peter that Oscorp had him under surveillance is not in the film. The scene where Harry talks to his father Norman about Peter is also not in the film. So that trailer, the appetizer, is a complete cheat.

Let me skip ahead to dessert – the post credits scene. It’s not about Spider-Man. All they did for the bonus scene was insert a scene from the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past. While I do look forward to that movie (and have higher hopes for it), the scene is very jarring because it isn’t filmed in the same style as Amazing Spider-Man and has absolutely no connection to Spider-Man. So no after dinner mint then – what about the meat and potatoes?

I guess my main beef with the plot of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the moronic Richard Parker subplot. The movie opens with Richard and Mary Parker fighting a baddie in a plane. They knock him down and, since he is lying on the ground, immediately assume that he is out for good. That is okay though because the baddie took care of the pilot and left him where he would just flop over onto the control stick, sending the plane into a steep dive.

Richard is desperate to upload his information to a location called Roosevelt because he fears the information will be lost if he and Mary go down with the plane. This is all well and good until we find out later that they are the only two people in the world who know where this is, making the whole data transfer rather pointless.

Speaking of Roosevelt, the trailer reveals that this is a secret underground lair, underneath a disused subway station. It hasn’t been used in over a decade by the time someone discovers it and yet shows very little dust and no cobwebs. It serves almost no purpose, other than to deliver a single tiny nugget of knowledge that isn’t actually important either.

Also, I have to ask: Was Richard Parker Bruce Wayne’s father? I ask because I can’t believe that you can fund an entire underground lair on the salary of a scientist. It’s a train car full of scientific equipment (fully functional after over a decade) that rises up out of a disused, yet fully functional, subway station.

The movie continues in this idiotic vein but I’ll refrain from spoilers. Andrew Garfield and especially Emma Stone help make this worthwhile, much as they did the first one BUT this is not an auspicious beginning to the summer season

/rantmodeoff

 

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 5/13/14

 

Action/Adventure: Pain & Gain, Ca$h

Best Night Ever

Comedy: Best Night Ever, Much Ado About Nothing

Eyes of the Mothman

Documentary: Cocaine Cowboys Reloaded, Eyes of the Mothman, Spinning Plates, The End of Time, Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?, Men at Lunch, Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America

Drama: Emperor, Life of a King, The Story of Luke

Adventurer

Family: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, Free Birds

Foreign: In the Name Of, Mademoiselle Chambon, Commitment, Like Someone in Love, Stranger by the Lake

Horror: Apartment 1303

Thriller: Crave

This ‘n’ That – Netflix, Godzilla, Penny Dreadful

Netflix

 

* Netflix put out a press release announcing the fee change of their streaming service from $7.99 to $8.99. I find this to be quite reasonable. Actually it is still remarkably cheap for what you get.

The remarkable part is that current subscribers are locked into the old rate for another TWO YEARS. Who does that?

* Netflix streaming is really pushing promos of the new season of Orange is the New Black (premieres next month). If you haven’t watched the first season, you should (unless you can’t stand profanity).

Godzilla

 

* I reported on this before but since the new Godzilla opens Thursday night, it bears repeating. Rialto Pictures has brought back the original Godzilla at a slew of big cities. Sadly nothing near Asheville but there are a lot of venues. Participating theaters can be found here.

Penny Dreadful

 

* Penny Dreadful recently premiered on Showtime. The pilot episode is available on Hulu. I love horror movies, particularly Victorian ones, so I couldn’t resist.

I also love Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the first two series, after that it became ridiculously esoteric). The movie version is a travesty but remains a guilty pleasure for me. Fu Manchu and several extraneous characters are dropped and two new ones are added. Dorian Gray is an excellent addition to the movie and fits in perfectly thematically. The addition of an adult Tom Sawyer who is now a sharpshooter is a boneheaded move – especially since it turns out that Quatermain is the sharpshooter, Sawyer is just along to bring the guns.

I only mention this because the three main characters in Penny Dreadful are explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (our Allan Quatermain substitute played by Timothy Dalton), the mysterious Vanessa Ives (our Mina Harker substitute played by Eva Green), and, naturally, our American sharpshooter Ethan Chandler (played by Josh Hartnett). Not only that but Dorian Gray appears in the series.

Time will tell if this series proves worthwhile or just a League ripoff.

The Not-So-Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones is still playing in theaters.

The Quiet Ones

 

The Quiet Ones (2014) – Rated PG-13

A university professor and a team of students conduct an experiment on a young woman, uncovering terrifyingly dark, unexpected forces in the process.”

The old Hammer was my favorite movie studio growing up. Quatermass and the Pit and The Gorgon are my two favorite Hammer movies. Their horror catalog was impressive, even if they did continually recycle their big guns. More than a half dozen each of Dracula and Frankenstein movies as well as several Karnstein and Mummy films were made before Hammer died in the mid-1970s.

The modern iteration of Hammer is doing a lot to maintain a higher level of quality than average for horror movies. The Resident was a bit of a letdown, although it was nice to see Christopher Lee back in horror. Wake Wood and The Woman in Black were entertaining albeit flawed. Let Me In was the rare remake that was better than the original.

Their latest effort, The Quiet Ones, sadly bills itself as based on a true story. That is usually a sign that I’m not going to enjoy it. It stars Jared Harris, an excellent character actor who deserves more starring roles. He is quite good here though even he can’t rescue some rather bizarre directorial choices.

The story itself is rather boring and bland, two words commonly associated with the ‘based on a true story’ moniker. Is the woman faking it? Is she telekinetic? Is she possessed? Is there some other explanation for the (very minor) events occurring?

Unfortunately, director John Pogue chooses to spice things up with jump scares that were old when slashers were young. Constantly not knowing when the movie is going to suddenly increase in volume for no purpose is initially annoying and raises to grating after about a half dozen of these cheap boos.

The Quiet Ones isn’t bad and Jared Harris is much better than the material, it just isn’t good either.

Hammer’s next endeavor is called Gaslight and the premise sounds intriguing: “Secretly imprisoned in a London insane asylum, the infamous Jack the Ripper helps Scotland Yard investigators solve a series of grisly murders whose victims all share one thing in common: dual puncture wounds to the neck.”

This will be followed by a sequel to The Woman in Black entitled The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.

The Not-So-Amazing Spider-Man 2

Well I got the chance to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In short, I was unimpressed.

Amazing Spider-Man 2

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) – Rated PG-13

Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends up a slew of supervillains against him, impacting on his life.”

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was brilliant. He captured the mopey, nebbishy, picked on nerd that was Peter Parker and pretty much nailed all the other characters with a near perfect cast. Not only were Norman Osborn, Aunt May, and Mary Jane Watson spot on but so were lesser characters like J. Jonah Jameson and Flash Thompson.

Spider-Man 2 was even more brilliant as we didn’t have to spend screentime on the hero origin story. Alfred Molina was perfectly cast as a tormented Dr. Octopus. The web-slinging and swinging nature of our hero was even better defined.

Spider-Man 3 was, of course, a major misstep. It attempted to be three movies in one: the continuation of our story with Spidey and the Green Goblin, the black suit Venom story, and an attempt to create another tragic villain in The Sandman. The Venom story is the worst because Peter spends a lot of time being essentially the opposite of Peter, and very unsympathetic to boot.

For various reasons, Spider-Man 4 was put on the back burner. Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, and Kirsten Dunst were all set to receive $30 million each for the new film. Sony/Columbia opted for a reboot instead and, not wanting the rights to revert back to Marvel, rushed The Amazing Spider-Man into production.

The Amazing Spider-Man was a mixed bag. They made Spider-Man and the other characters more grounded. The writers adapted elements of Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man that Raimi had not. In a throwback to the original comics, they dropped the biological webshooters in favor of ones that Peter creates. This allowed the oft-used gag of Peter running dry at an inopportune moment.

The Amazing Spider-Man should not have worked. It is a reboot so we have to watch the origin of Spider-Man all over again, although it is quite a bit different than Raimi’s version. Martin Sheen and Sally Field are good but Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris were iconic as Ben and May Parker. The Lizard is ill-defined and ill-used, relying too heavily on unimpressive CGI.

Where it works is the chemistry between Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. They are great separately and together. Garfield nails Peter’s sarcastic nature and Spidey’s general quippiness. Emma Stone is sweet as Gwen Stacy. Their chemistry is great and they both have good comic timing. Denis Leary makes a great Captain Stacy as well.

Unfortunately, while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 learns some of what works from its forebears. it also fails to learn other lessons. We have too many villains – Electro, The Rhino, The Green Goblin and not enough story.

 

The villains themselves are a huge disappointment. Electro from the comics has been changed into a clone of Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen – not just the way he looks but the he moves and acts. The Rhino appears in a brief yet ridiculous segment – the fight scene in the trailer is essentially the entire fight. While The Green Goblin in Raimi’s version was a little silly, here he is much worse. The Green Goblin is so poorly executed that they only show glimpses of the glider in the trailer- even the studio is embarrassed to show you.

Perversely, we also have too much story as the unnecessary parts about Peter’s parents from the first film are featured more heavily here. At two hours and twenty-one minutes, it suffers from summer bloat. Captain America: The Winter Soldier clocked in at two hours and nine minutes and none of it felt wasted.

The action sequences are good but there are no showstoppers. In fact there seemed to be no building action in the film. It was exposition, dialogue, action, repeat. I had no idea when the film was going to end because there never seemed to be a climax.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are wonderful as they were in the first film. Their relationship is probably the best part of the film.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t bad, just deeply disappointing. I hope this does not bode ill for summer.

Disney’s Bears Build Brick Mansions

We splurged this weekend and took the kids to Disney’s Bears. Later I snuck off to Brick Mansions.

Disney's Bears

 

Disney’s Bears (2014) – Rated G

A documentary that follows an Alaskan bear family as its young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons.”

Obviously this documentary is a bit whitewashed, being from Disney and rated G. The cinematography is wonderful and I can imagine this being a good film to run in the background on your high-definition television. There are fabulous timelapse shots of avalanches and the tide coming in and covering mud flats. There are incredible mountain vistas and wonderful wildlife shots. This is not limited to the titular Bears as a wolf, raven, gulls, deer, and many unfortunate salmon are also part of the picture.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with Disney Nature films, the movie is haphazardly narrated. The script varies wildly from adult perspective to teen approach to young child enticement. Bears attempts to be all things to all people and succeeds at none of them. This is not narrator John C. Reilly’s fault but rather the script which even tells us when to laugh at the bears’ antics.

Still it is very pretty, will entertain small children, and runs a very brief 77 minutes.

Brick Mansions

 

Brick Mansions (2014) – Rated PG-13

An undercover Detroit cop navigates a dangerous neighborhood that’s surrounded by a containment wall with the help of an ex-con in order to bring down a crime lord and his plot to devastate the entire city.

It’s not a surprise that this movie was dumped right before summer. Brick Mansions is just awful. It shouldn’t be but it is.

Brick Mansions is the American version of the futuristic thriller District B13. District B13 was a high energy action film that first brought parkour to film audiences back in 2004. Two years later, it would be popularized in Casino Royale. Now, ten years later, the American version comes out. Unfortunately for Brick Mansions, that ensuing decade has been filled with action movies that have used this martial art, including District 13: Ultimatum (2009).

David Belle, co-founder of parkour and star of District B13, repeats his role here as Lino (Leito in B13). Changing the setting of the script to Detroit seemed a no-brainer. David Belle is not a particularly good actor but his parkour skills are still amazing. His co-lead here is the late Paul Walker, who is engaging and has the physicality for his role.

What went wrong? I have to lay all blame at director Camille Delamarre’s feet. There are some amazing stunts here, particularly the parkour but Delamarre doesn’t capture any of their power. He jump cuts and slices his way through to make all the action incoherent. This is Delamarre’s first feature as a director but he was the editor on Transporter 3 (the bad one), Taken 2 (the bad one), Lockout (how do you make a prison in space movie boring?), and the equally awful Columbiana. Delamarre is set to direct Transporter 4 next. Ugh.

Also ruining Brick Mansions are a weak script (the original script is over a decade old and District B13 was not a strong script to begin with) and RZA. RZA plays our lead villain Tremaine and it feels like nails on a chalkboard every time he is onscreen.

Just avoid this. If you want a parkour fix, re-watch Casino Royale or check out District B13.

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 5/6/14

 

Blue Exorcist

Anime: Blue Exorcist

The Wedding Pact

Comedy: Having You, The Wedding Pact, Finding Normal, Back in the Day

Documentary: JFK: The Smoking Gun, The Anonymous People, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, Wrestling for Jesus: The Tale of T-Money

Drama: Jamesy Boy

Faith: Finding Faith

Family: LeapFrog: The Letter Machine Rescue Team

The Future

Foreign: The Future, Badges of Fury, Lost in Thailand, Josh (Against the Grain), Madrid 1987

Television: Bitten

Netflix, The Killing, & Theater Seating

 

The Killing

 

* After coming up with a superb coda to the Arrested Development series, Netflix has rescued The Killing from oblivion. The Killing will receive a final season on Netflix consisting of six episodes. While I like the ten to thirteen episode model, someone realized that The Killing could benefit from streamlining so those meandering subplots have likely been paired away. Both Joel Kinnamon and Mireille Enos could use the boost as Joel Kinnamon starred in the pointless Robocop reboot and Mireille Enos joined an ensemble cast in the horrendous Sabotage.

So what series to rescue next Netflix? No, obviously they can’t have Firefly – Nathan Fillion is doing just fine on Castle and Joss Whedon has The Avengers 2.

AMC Seating

 

* Now that all of the new theaters are finally having the soda fountain outside of concessions (YAY!), the latest trend seems to be improved theater seating. Check out these fully extendable lounges in the new AMC set up (above).

Chairs

 

The loungers above here are Carolina Cinemas new ones – listed for the Charlotte location but one can hope for my Asheville one. I like their current couches and footstools but my wife finds them uncomfortable.

New Netflix Streaming Releases for May 2014

For obvious reasons May brings about the release of many older kaiju films. Less known is the return of many of the Bond films.

Gladiator

Action/Adventure: 6 Bullets, Backdraft, The Big Hit, Company of Heroes, For Your Eyes Only, From Russia With Love, Gladiator, Goldfinger, The Jewel of the Nile, Kill Bill vol 1 & 2, The Legend of Drunken Master, Live and Let Die, The Living Daylights, Mind Hunters, Never Say Never Again, Return of the Dragon, Romancing the Stone, A View to a Kill, You Only Live Twice

Classic: Anatomy of a Murder, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Paper Moon

Comedy: Adventures in Babysitting, All I Want, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Diggstown, The Great Divide, Knucklehead, Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip, School Daze, Sneakers, Steve Byrne: Champion, Top Secret!

Documentary: 1976: Hunt vs. Lauda, Best Kept Secret, Beware of Mr. Baker, Broadway Idiot, Splinters, Terms and Conditions May Apply, Unhung Hero, Where I Am, Winged Migration

Drama: Bang the Drum Slowly, Bed of Roses, The Big Chill, Boys Don’t Cry, The Buddy Holly Story, Call Me Crazy: A Five Film, Diana, Eye of the Dolphin, Federal Hill, Forbidden Woman, Forrest Gump, The Good Life, The Human Stain, La Bamba, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Loosies, The Prince of Tides, St. Elmo’s Fire, Tortilla Soup

Faith: The Lost and Found Family

Family: 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue, five more of the Baby Genius series, Beethoven, Call Me Claus, Encounters at the End of the World, Freedom Force, Good Boy!, Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, Hook, Mumfie’s Quest: The Movie, Nuttiest Nutcracker, That’s What I Am

Fantastic Voyage

Fantasy & Science Fiction: The City of Lost Children, Fantastic Voyage (1966), Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Heavy Metal, Maximum Overdrive, Shopping, Starman, Unidentified

Foreign: 1-Ichi, Faith Like Potatoes, Ichi the Killer, Oslo August 31st, The Outlaw, Shinjuku Incident, Sin Reaper, Therese, Torrente: The Dumb Arm of the Law, Torrente 2, Torrente 3, Torrente 4, Vincent Wants to Sea

Godzilla

Horror: 100 Bloody Acres, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Candyman, Cursed, Entity (2012), Fido, Friday the 13th, Part 7: The New Blood, From Dusk Till Dawn, Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla Raids Again, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla’s Revenge, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, The Incredible Melting Man, Ravenous, Rodan, Terror of Mechagodzilla, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

Television: Autumn’s Concerto, Bernard, Channel X, Destroy Build Destroy, Easy Fortune Happy Life, The Fierce Wife, Guess with Jess, The Invincible Shan Bao Mei, Love Forward, Love Now, My Queen, Princess’ Stand In, Zhong Wu Yan, and new episodes of Digimon Adventure, Psych, and Digimon: Digital Adventures

Thriller: The Juror, Kiss the Girls, The Odessa File, Ordinary Decent Criminal, Revenge, The Secret Village, Single White Female

R.I.P. Bob Hoskins 1942-2014

Bob Hoskins

Character actor extraordinaire Bob Hoskins has passed away at the age of 71. He died April 29th after a bout of pneumonia.

I first caught him in 1979’s Zulu Dawn where he outshone a Hollywood cast that included Peter O’Toole and Burt Lancaster. He blew me away the next year with the starring role (opposite yummy Helen Mirren) in The Long Good Friday, a British crime movie that still impresses.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

He was great in good movies like Brazil, Mona Lisa, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Enemy at the Gates. He made bad and mediocre films much better like A Prayer for the Dying, Hook, and The Cotton Club (though even he could not save Super Mario Bros.).

Zulu Dawn

Streaming Netflix has the aforementioned Zulu Dawn and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? as well as Twenty Four Seven, Maid in Manhattan, A Room for Romeo Brass, and Den of Lions.

R.I.P. Eddie Valiant, you will be missed.