REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man
Directed by: Marc Webb
Written by: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves (screenplay)
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Michael Douglass, Sally Fields, Rhys Ifans

All the amazing distance movie effects and added dimensions have travelled in the last ten years, and yet that annoying hyphen in the title still exists.

Not to be nitpicky or inconsiderate to the source material, but it’s keeping that hyphen that cripples this new installment. Only ten years after Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire first started slinging webs and two years after Broadway started singing about them comes The Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot that only makes minor tweaks and changes without leaping on its own. Continue reading

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REVIEW: Prometheus

Prometheus
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Damon Lindelof and Jon Spaihts (screenplay)
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender

Shortly after making his break into the film industry Ridley Scott came across a film titled Star Wars that would rouse him to make Alien, an iconic, genre-defining sci-fi film of his own. Thirty years passed while Scott ventured into mastering other genres—his only other trip to the future being Blade Runner— until he saw another revolutionary sci-fi film that inspired him to take on the genre once again: Avatar.

Three years and dimensions later we have Prometheus, one of the most immersive and gleaming 3D sagas since Cameron’s Avatar set the bar (it’s a fun fact to note that Cameron’s breakout film was Aliens, the sequel to Scott’s original). In what will continue to be feverously debated as his prequel to Alien, Scott pools talents and ideas from various great modern sci-fi to amass an intense, hardwired summer blunder that doesn’t take itself serious enough at times to become as classic as it should.

Prometheus takes place in 2089, a few decades before Alien, when archeologists Shaw (Rapace) and Holloway (Marshall-Green) discover prehistoric wall paintings that suggest an interaction between early civilizations and other worldly life. Left with a hieroglyphic road map to outer space, they are joined by a J.J. Abrams rag tag team with bad accents and poor judgment, a sinisterly adorable robot named David (Fassbender) and the heir (Theron) to the Weyland Corporation that funded the trillion-dollar exploration to seek answers to the universe’s greatest question: how did we get here?

In a genre where everyone seems to be taking influences from everyone (including themselves), Prometheus proves itself a pioneer in atmosphere, aesthetic and marvel while other elements like pathos and consistency weigh down its potential. But that’s not to say Prometheus is by any means a weak film.

Exploring themes of creationism, religion and humanity give the creature feature purpose and prose, but it never lives up to the intensity created technically in the film.

Much of the blame for the film’s lackluster script goes to its co-author Damon Lindelof, who penned and produced similar cryptic mythologies and philosophical puzzles brilliantly on TV’s Lost. Just like the show, the film is interested in posing grand questions and answering each with two more questions— it’s deep and clever without ever being intelligent. Luckily the visuals and acting hide the audible cheese uttered by “first to die” team used to pander to universal audiences.

The script wants to have fun, but it’s at its best when it’s not. Its highlights include its most intense moments and gore. Rapace, Theron and Fassbender all make an undeniably all-star cast of expert focus plunging in and out of Scott’s beautifully crafted set pieces that never leave you at ease. And while we may not have gotten the answers we wanted, we’ll just have to enjoy the film for what it is now and wait for what the future may behold… sequels.

Grade: B-

On Location: Las Vegas

Immersion is the essence of cinema. Nobody famous or important that I know of said that, but someone probably said something similar at one point. I’m not even going to Google it; that’s how confident I am. But there’s truth to it— a movie can be as much about its setting as it can be about its story. Engaging the audience’s senses by building a relationship between the story elements and the setting is an undervalued art achieved by only masterful art directors and storytellers. Think of how cleverly and subtly Tim Burton exploits the Florida suburbs in Edward Scissorhands to provide thematic contrast for his character or how carefully Ben Affleck pans the Boston sky for his cop and crime dramas.

The relationship works both ways. Their stories and styles also influence the way we perceive places we haven’t yet been, or places we visit. Imagine going to the Empire State Building without thinking of scenes from King Kong or Spiderman. The Twilight series may be unbearable, but look what its done to romanticize our image of the Pacific Northwest and boost tourism in the region. Our idea of the Vegas strip wouldn’t be the same without great casino films like these.

This has been my personal introduction to our newest series: On location. In this series we will pick an iconic place and look at the movies that shaped our idea of that place as well as how the movie portraits the setting. First up: sin city.

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REVIEW: 21 Jump Street

21-jump-street

21 Jump Street
Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Written by: Michael Bachall
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube and Brie Larson

When word first spread that the late-80s television relic 21 Jump Street was being adapted for the big screen, fans and casual moviegoers were asked to take a serious leap of faith.

The once popular-in-its-prime series that is known for launching Johnny Depp’s career ran for five seasons on Fox, putting a surreal spin on cop dramas: young officers go undercover as high school students to solve hot button crimes. The already-inaugurated MTV generation was more than ready to handle the show’s inclusion of hot button subjects like AIDS, sex and homophobia. What were the creators of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and real life meatballs Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum going to do with this Hollywood rehash? Continue reading

Complete Oscar Coverage 2012

Who will win best picture at the 2012 oscars?With nine nominees competing for the big ole’ best picture title this year, one would think the race would be pretty open-ended. But with what looks like a sweep for The Artist, don’t expect too many surprises.

Enjoy CyniCritics complete coverage of this year’s Oscar race. We have reviewed every film in our Best Picture Nominee series and ranked them below for a quick view for you. Included are our Oscar predictions in the main categories and some related links. The past year has been a fantastic year for film, and we are glad you share your readership and love for movies with us here at CyniCritics. Enjoy the show!

OSCAR PREDICTIONS

Luke’s Picks

Matt’s Picks

The Tree of Life

Verdict: The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick’s latest meditation on nature by way of the Big Bang, won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and the one who was there promoting it was Brad Pitt.  In a way this is fitting since he and Sean Penn are all the marketing team behind this movie will have to promote it with.  It’s likely that countless Americans will attend this film to see Pitt and then be outraged. Grade: A Read full review here. Continue reading

BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: The Artist

The Artist
Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius
Written by: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, Uggie and John Goodman

In an era of cinema where films like Avatar and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol are breaking sensory limitations, The Artist provides audiences a different set of sensory challenges, in particularly, the absence or minimization of them.

For those who are unfamiliar with the title that is sweeping award’s season off its feet — it won Best Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes earlier this week and is a Best Picture frontrunner with countless BAFTA and other guild nominations — The Artist is a nostalgic, black-and-white Hollywood throwback to the likes of Singing in the Rain, A Star is Born, Sunset Boulevard and other classic Hollywood bourgeoisie films. Oh, and if you haven’t heard, it’s a silent film.

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2012 Oscar Nominations: Luke’s Picks

Unlike Matt (whose predictions can be found here), I take the Oscars a little seriously. My numbers are usually pretty good too, but I’ve yet to win any big predictions competitions and that bums me out just a little. That being said, this year’s race looks pretty flat and uncompetitive, with most of the nominees and frontrunners decided months ago. There are, however, a few nominees that could steal the scene from The Artist, which is expected to sweep.

2012 Academy Award Best Picture predictionsBest Picture

Nominees: War Horse, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, The Artist, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help

Will Win: The Artist. It’s the frontrunner because it’s an easy pick for Hollywood. While most of the other best picture nominees have a few deterrers, The Artist is unanimously adored at least to some fashion. The nostalgia crowd pleaser also happens to have strong technical components AND a few acting nominations, which sets it apart from other possible winners like Hugo, The Help and The Descendants that only fare well with one of the two. Don’t be too surprised if The Help crashes the party with an upset. Continue reading