Short Takes: Amazing Spider-Man 2, Grand Budapest Hotel & more

906429 - The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2- Peter Parker is much more interesting than Spider-Man in this sequel to a reboot.  In fact, Parker (Andrew Garfield) and his on-again, off-again soul mate Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) seem to be acting out a completely different movie, a romance with genuine warmth and feeling.  The rest of the movie is a straightforward superhero mash-up, with generically assembled fight sequences and standard villain templates (maniacal corporate brat, vengeful outcast, Russian gangster).  It’s fairly easy to see where director Marc Webb’s heart was while making this mega-budget spectacle, but there are too many movies here trying to cram into one. Grade: C

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REVIEW: Predators

Predators
Directed by: Nimród Antal
Written by: Alex Litvak & Michael Finch (screenplay)
Starring: Adrian Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, and Laurence Fishburne

If someone had told me at the beginning of the year that Adrian Brody would be the sci-fi star of 2010, I would’ve either chuckled or responded with “Yeah, so?”  With his performance in Splice as a genetic engineer he gave us an emotional core, and with Predators he returns to the King Kong action hero he surprised us with in 2005.

Predators is another franchise reboot, and it’s not too bad.  For the action-junkies out there looking to avoid Despicable Me or any of the other 3D cash-ins of the week, here is a semi-intelligent, well-made thriller.  It borrows from The Most Dangerous Game, which in its original form is a demented guy who brings people to his island so he can hunt them.  Here, it’s high-tech aliens.

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REVIEW: Splice

Splice
Directed by: Vincenzo Natali
Written by: Vincenzo Natali & Antoinette Terry Bryant
Starring: Adrian Brody, Sarah Poley, Delphine Chanéac, and Brandon McGibbon

In Splice, we begin our descent into the murky waters of the cloning issue by rising up, in first-mutant perspective, to see our creators.  Through the murky blue-tint of the screen, we see doctors interacting much like they would on any of the countless hospital TV shows on air.  It feels natural, and commonplace.

This is one of the important strengths of Vincenzo Natali’s unique film.  It shows us the everyday lives of two doctors, Clive Nicoli (Adrian Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Poley), whose lives are anything but conventional, and then turns their respective worlds upside down.  The camera does not hint at the abnormal life forms as in Alien.  Rather, it blends the clone Dren (Delphine Chanéac) in with her creators.

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