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: Captain America

Captain America: The First Avenger
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Written by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (screenplay), Joe Simon & Jack Kirby (comic books)
Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, and Tommy Lee Jones

If you’re sick of super hero or war movies, it might be wise to avoid the inevitable screen adaptation of Captain America.  Slated as the last prequel before next year’s The Avengers, Captain America: The First Avenger takes place the furthest back in time: during World War II.

What’s most curious about The Avenger prequels- Iron Man & Iron Man II, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, this movie-  is how different they are stylistically.  That’s because they were all headed by different directors with different talents.  Thor was at its best when it showed the “fish out of water” aspect of its viking, while the Iron Man movies worked best as vehicles for Robert Downey Jr.’s motormouth delivery.

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REVIEW: Thor

Thor
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Written by: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, & Don Payne (screenplay), Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, & Jack Kirby (comic)
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hiddleston

It’s almost hard not to write off Thor as the beginning of an onslaught of mindless summer action movies.  However, with its welcome injection of humor and a toned-down scale, it rises above that classification if only by a little bit.

The best moments of Thor occur outside Asgard, the homeworld of its hero, in a small town in New Mexico.  He arrives there much like many movie aliens, and director Kenneth Branagh riffs off this aspect quite well.  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) brings alien customs (which closely resembles stereotypical viking culture) to such places as small-town diners and hospital rooms.  In one hilarious instance, he smashes a glass down on the floor and demands a refill.

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REVIEW: Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Written by: Justin Theroux (screenplay), Stan Lee (comic book)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwenyth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, and Scarlett Johansson

The thing that made the first Iron Man film such a hit in the summer of 2008 was how much of a fresh breath of air it was.  Here you had Roberty Downey Jr., a washed-up ex-convict of a small-time actor stepping into the iron-clad suit of a summer blockbuster.  Mixing that with a unique screenplay, a dynamic cast and the action-ready direction of Jon Favreau, and you had yourself an offbeat charmer of a superhero movie.  Sadly, that charm was overshadowed by the brilliance of technique and ultimate reinvention of the superhero movie in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

With the inevitable sequel, we find no genre contenders to the pathos-driven narcissism of Tony Stark this summer.  Downey is now a bona fide superstar, thanks in no part to the revitalization his career received from the first film in this now-franchise.  Now that everything was done in the first one, as is the problem with most unique first installments, not much of it feels new in the sequel, Downey included.

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TRAILER: Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Written by: Justin Theroux (screenplay), Stan Lee (comics)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, and Don Cheadle

Part of what made the first Iron Man such a breath of fresh air was the devotion to excellence from everyone in the cast, most notably Robert Downey Jr. It wasn’t exactly anything new and original, and was overshadowed by Christopher Nolan’s box-office/critical superior The Dark Knight.  This summer, the now-franchise is launching its second installment with no Caped Crusader in sight.

The trailer for the film looks like it will hit all of the summer action bells and whistles.  Downey Jr. reprises his role as the man in iron, as does Gwyneth Paltrow as his love interest and assistant.  The rest of the cast is mostly new.  Don Cheadle steps in for Terrence Howard.  Scarlett Johansson arrives, hopefully to give Paltrow a run for her money, but you can’t tell much from the trailer.

The biggest gripe I have in the casting is Mickey Rourke.  Based on the trailer alone, his character appears corny, badly written, and has a just plain stupid Russian accent.  It may not turn out that way, but it appears that there will be at least one glaring error in the casting.

As far as plot goes, not too much is revealed.  Tony Stark is now out of the closet as a super hero, which may offer some unique takes on the genre.  He’s out to stop Whiplash (Rourke) from taking over the world or something.  The trailer is decent, but the content in it just makes this seem like it will be a typical sequel.

Highs: Downey jumping off an airplane after talking to Paltrow and Downey and Cheadle suiting up together in Iron Man suits.

Lows: Mickey Rourke’s Russian accent/character and the lack of Scarlett Johansson footage.

Trailer Grade: C