It’s a fact that home viewing is largely the preferred form of movie watching these days. Now that the climax movie of the summer has seen the dark light of day in theaters and the season is winding down, it’s about that time to look forward to when we can enjoy the biggest and bestest (arguable) this summer had to offer in the sanctity of our homes, now comparatively safer than ever.

I’ve mainly just thrown out my opinions for the last two months, so perhaps I’ll do something helpful. Here are the deets on the home video releases of the four biggest movies released in May (The Dictator is August 21 and Chernobyl Diaries is October 16). Check back for the June releases at a time when more than only one has been announced.

The Avengers

Blu-Ray Release Date: September 25 (Rental: October 23)

The biggest movie of the summer will no doubt be the biggest Blu-Ray event of the fall. Disney is one of the leaders in putting together a great Blu-ray, so their most profitable movie ever should be nothing short of great. In addition to guaranteed top-tier picture and sound, the 3D combo pack comes with a free download of the soundtrack album and Whedon-filled behind the scenes goodies a-plenty, as well as a hard copy of the digital copy (compatible with iTunes).

Oh, in case you didn’t hear, the movie also happens to be epic awesomesauce and many fans like myself will flock in droves to pick it up on release day.

Dark Shadows

Blu-Ray Release Date: October 2 (Rental: October 30)
Tim Burton’s latest familiar-fest had the distinct honor of opening the week after The Avengers and I can’t even imagine how much it suffered for it, financially (enough to be considered disappointing, but not quite a bomb — maybe I can imagine). But, truthfully, this is the one movie I was this close to seeing the summer. I caught myself on the way out the door a couple times on the way to see Dark Shadows. I really like Burton’s early works and this seems more in line with that Gothic style he does so well. The omnipresent criticism that he once again drops the story importance is what ultimately held me back.
As per every Warner Bros. title, you can expect one of those shitty Ultraviolet digital copies, the sole option they provide anymore for your digital copy needs, and a Maximum Movie Mode extra feature with highlights on Johnny Depp and production pinpoints and deleted scenes. Going to have to check this one out.
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 28 (Rental: September 25)
Poor Taylor Kitsch. He’s not a terrible actor but because he keeps getting stuck with the starring roles in these epic, epic bombs, people can’t help but associate him with cinematic failure. It’s really not his fault.
I’m also quite curious about this one. The best praise I’ve heard for Battleship is that it’s stupid fun. Not “stupid fun” like Transformers, as in complete contempt for its audience by wasting most of its time on borderline retarded comedy, with the rest of it being incomprehensible, hollow action. Rather, it’s been described as a “so stupid, it’s entertaining” fun. Which I can totally dig. Hell, I enjoyed Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter more than I ever though I would, who’s to say this will be any different.
Universal is also usually very impressive with their picture and sound, as well as including both kinds of digital copies and standard amount of behind the scenes featurettes. We shall see.
Men in Black 3
Blu-Ray Release Date: November 30 (Rental: December 28)

The Men in Black are back after a ten year hiatus, none of which was spent on choosing a decent story or building enthusiasm from any of the returning players. In case my views haven’t permeated this intro enough, I didn’t really care for MIB3. It came off as cheap, perfunctory, and just not all that entertaining, to my great regret.

Still, Sony does a pretty great job of their picture (which won’t do any favors for those awful special effects) and sound. Not so much can be said for their singular offer of Ultraviolet digital copy, similar to Warner Bros. releases. Details were released prematurely a week ago and have since been pulled but appear to be pretty basic (making of, filming in 3D, trailer, etc.). Worth a rental. Maybe.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences learned four years ago that they can’t remain completely oblivious to the public’s interests.

In 2008, The Dark Knight was the talk of the town (the town apparently being anywhere but Hollywood) to secure the fifth nomination slot for best picture at the upcoming Oscars.  However, despite garnering a total of eight nominations in the technical categories, the movie was snubbed in the major areas (picture, director, screenplay) and only walked away with wins in best sound editing and sound design, as well as the obvious best supporting actor trophy, posthumously awarded to Heath Ledger.

The following year the Academy amended its nomination rules and doubled the amount of movies eligible for best picture contention to ten, reportedly pressured by the backlash they faced for their previous exclusion. Christopher Nolan’s next movie, Inception, was shown a little more love at that year’s Oscar ceremony, begrudging as it felt, and did get nominated for best picture.

So when the sequel to the movie that switched things up in the first place was announced, everyone naturally wondered what kind of Oscar talk it would get upon release. Early press screenings told of standing ovations, tears, and best picture murmurings. Wide release reactions, though, weren’t as unanimous as Dark Knight‘s  (for reasons that are worthy of their own sociology essay, in my book) and reactions at a recent academy screening were described as quiet and reaction-less.

What I’m here to say is that, by all indications, The Dark Knight Rises probably won’t be nominated for best picture (and certainly won’t win it) and how much acknowledgement it receives in other categories is uncertain, depending on the caliber of movies released around Oscar season.

I don’t know why but I’ve always felt the academy doesn’t care much for Christopher Nolan. They have yet to give him a directing nod for any of the great works he’s turned in, and when they do nominate his movies for anything, it always feels forced and reluctant.

Maybe it’s because he doesn’t exactly make movies that appeal only to the sensibilities of the academy, the majority of which are older, white men (is there any other kind of top-tier society in the U.S.?),  but it seems like any reason they can find to dismiss him, they exploit it. The fact that The Dark Knight was the story of a man dressed in a batsuit seemed to be a big write-off, and that’s obviously not going to change with Rises. And because the haters have made it their mission in life to point out nothing but the numerous plot holes in the movie, the academy has gotten all they need to completely ignore The Dark Knight Rises for consideration.

And you know what? I’m kind of ok with it. After these past couple years, unless they change their tune, I’m fucking done with the Oscars. Time and time again they’ve showed that they aren’t representative of the best of what cinema has to offer in any given year. Rather, they are so very representative of which movies pander most to their core voter demographic and which bloated producer can pour the most money into campaigning. It’s become a total jerk-off fest and to get your hopes up for a great movie to be nominated, much less the best movie out of all the nominees to win, is completely futile at this point.

The Dark Knight Rises is more moving, inspiring and engaging than any movie that’s won best picture since No Country for Old Men (a movie that actually had polarizing reactions). The movies since then have been mostly bland and designed not to stir any thoughtful or dissenting reactions outside of “That was good. Why wouldn’t it win best picture?”. Purely and simply, they’re fluff.

The fans of The Dark Knight Rises should be perfectly satisfied knowing that Nolan delivered a great and epic finale that, in some unique ways, is better than it’s predecessors, regardless of what a cult of stuck up old people think about it. And the non-fans, well, like I said… sociology essay.


Sometimes controversy is good. Sometimes there are movies where practically everyone is in total agreement of its quality and sometimes there are movies where you’re not likely to find two similar opinions sitting next to each other. It’s been known to happen in movie series before. 2008’s The Dark Knight is the former and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises is the latter. 
Eight years after covering up Harvey “Two Face” Dent’s less than shining activities for the sake of keeping the streets clean, Gotham is now virtually crime-free and the Batman has disappeared. Bruce Wayne has allowed his pain, both physical and spiritual, to hold him back from the world. But after a run-in with a particular cat burglar, sinister, city destroying plans arise involving the masked mercenary Bane and his underground army. Does the dark knight have it in him to rise above his lowest despair and save Gotham from absolute death?
Many people, like myself, adore The Dark Knight and put it on a pedestal of greatness. Good for The Dark Knight, bad for the expectations it creates for The Dark Knight Rises. That was always going to be something that would draw weightless criticism from fans and audiences. When the previous movie is just that amazing, an undeniable fraction of people were expecting (maybe even wanting) to be disappointed that this one wasn’t as revolutionary or, in some cases, wasn’t the best movie ever made.
The Dark Knight Rises isn’t a perfect movie and it’s not as ground-breaking and legendary as its predecessor, but it is a smart, riveting, and sophisticated blockbuster that cements the Dark Knight trilogy as one of the greatest ever.
The reason so many people have such potently positive reactions to this series, as opposed to just any action blockbuster, is that they are high quality entertainment. Christopher Nolan never plays to the dumbest part of the audience, crafting dark, philosophical and multi-layered stories with characters you want to invest in. He cares about story as much as he does blowing shit up and assumes the audience does too. 
The dialogue is on another level, the seriousness is to the point of having a panic attack, and the themes are timely and thought provoking. There’s nothing quite like watching the finished product of a master story-teller, especially one of Nolan’s classy caliber.
Of course, the story can only succeed so far without the players to bring it to life. Make no mistake, just like Begins and Knight, the cast brings their A-game for this final outing.

He was great in Begins but Rises hosts Christian Bale’s best performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Watching him run this gauntlet of pain and failure to hope and triumph, solidifying his heroism, is inspiring and reaches true Batman mythology levels, with the least divide between the character’s two halves. Which also means the voice is more controlled. Yay.           

Michael Cain, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman are great as ever as Bruce’s support group with Alfred getting the most heart-felt moments that have been waiting in the wings since the very first movie.
Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (never referred to as anyone but Selina Kyle), portrayed here as a classic grifter and con-woman, doesn’t share every single detail with her comic book iteration, but gets to the true essence of that character and it fits right in with this universe. Hathaway gives a great performance as what is most likely the iconic Catwoman performance.

Tom Hardy owns as Bane. The guy has swag. Not only that, he has calmness, intimidation, brutality, and (thanks to more backstory than any other villain in this series) occasional sympathy. Bringing all that across with only his eyes and ADR’d voice is a true feat. His villainous monologues are epic and there are times when even that nightmarish muzzle can’t hide the fun Hardy’s having with the role.
You merely adopted the darkness. I was born in it.”

[Note: The dubbing for Bane’s voice in the opening scene has been reworked and I fucking hate it. In the original scene that showed in front of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol back in December, Bane was difficult to understand but had a very creepy subdued vibe that he talks with for most of the movie. Now it sounds like a completely different, over the top voice that, while crystal clear, has no character to it. Really not how I wanted to start the movie.]

These movies will always be held up by their stories and cast members but the technical wizardry at work don’t hurt none either, Jeb. Wally Pfister’s cinematography is almost as much of a star as any of the cast and in IMAX, the images are earth shattering (seriously, go see it in IMAX — it’s worth every penny). The production design that’s always one foot from reality has been consistently cool when it comes to the vehicles, and the aerial vehicle, The Bat, is the most kick-ass of the bunch. Even the fight coordinator gets to shine because holy shit are those fights between Batman and Bane a gut punch.
Because The Dark Knight Rises is such a beast of a movie at 2 hours – 45 minutes and has so much to tell, in order to keep the vehicle moving, some corners had to be cut. Some stray lines didn’t get punched up, quick fixes happen a couple of times, and the slightly more fantastical plot elements will require more suspension of disbelief for some.
The film is not as tightly paced as the first two. The first hour is entertaining enough and puts the pieces in place but is also clunky and maybe a little too heavy on exposition without concise placement. 
Act two is slower and more dismal, but there’s something about the darkness that wickedly sucks you in because you want to see how hopeless things get before the titular rising happens. (I was debating with myself early on whether this was the darkest of the three. Bane seemed to have caught on and gave me my answer when he hung those guys from the bridge. Well done.)
The first two acts are always good and fun but rarely great. But it becomes clear that they were necessary evil in order to ratchet up the stakes and deliver one hell of a third act. The final 45 minutes is one of the most massive, breathtaking, awe inspiring, edge of your seat and emotionally satisfying finales ever put on film. Not just for the movie itself, but for the entire Dark Knight trilogy. Everyone, from the director, the cast, the award worthy cinematography, the production design, the sound design, to Hans Zimmer’s intense soundtrack, is firing on all cylinders to deliver the best possible ending to this great story. It’s here where we truly see the care that’s added to the spectacle. The end very much justifies the means.
Like I said, sometimes a certain type of controversy is good because it means discussion. If any movie series deserves to be discussed for a long time it’s this one. The Dark Knight Rises is ambitious in both story and production, and though it may creak here and there, it is a cut above the rest and a great ending to an epic trilogy we both needed and deserved.


Almost as exciting and beloved as the movies themselves, the Dark Knight scores by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard are easily one of the most anticipated events that accompany these films when they hit screens. Howard chose to sit part 3 out, not wanting interject himself into the stronger work relationship Nolan and Zimmer developed during Inception, so now all weight rest on Zimmer’s shoulders. Needless to say, it is now clear what a standalone Zimmer/Batman score sounds like.

Heavy in the brawn department, Zimmer’s score to The Dark Knight Rises is often a freight train to your senses; a metaphorical piece of massive shrapnel blowing your cranium to pieces. And that is absolutely what he does best. Very few action scores reach the levels of pulse-pounding, “get up and kick something” excitement quite like his. Incorporating massive kettle drums and thousands of voices chanting in Moroccan reaches a base level in mankind’s instinctual aggressiveness that could be described as near-genius for the result it is going for. This is likely the best action music that will be released all year.

Just like so many of his recent scores, the highlights of Zimmer’s albums are the newly written material. “Gotham’s Reckoning” is the most thrilling track on the disc, accompanying one of the most thrilling scenes in the movie. The music boiling underneath for the first half before it suddenly explodes into chaotic villainy for the second half is fantastic to listen to. I still can’t get enough of Bane’s theme.

“Mind If I Cut In?” is an interesting change of style from the rest of the album. The slinky, ambiguous piano melody can only be referring to Miss Selina Kyle/ Catwoman. Admittedly, I’ve already heard a somewhat similar musical concept to what Zimmer is doing here with his other recent screen femme-fatal, Irene Adler of Sherlock Holmes, but the mystery and intrigue of this track fits very nicely with what that character brings.

“Underground Army” is like something straight out of Tron or even Inception. The metronomic pulse of the synth pushes the whole foreboding and seething track along.

There is also a new theme introduced at the ends of “The Fire Rises” and “Imagine the Fire”, as well as in a much slower, somber form in “Necessary Evil”, that speaks of the incredible grimness and evil that will unfurl at certain parts in the film.

Those are, in a nutshell, the reasons this disc is ultimately worthwhile. It has some other great action tracks like “Fear Will Find You”, in addition to “The Fire Rises” and “Imagine the Fire”, but they all speak to the biggest downfall of this production: far too much of it is recycled material.

So many tracks are just been there, done that. And I don’t mean “I’ve heard that part before”. I mean “I’ve heard that before, played the exact same way, at the exact same volume, with the same instruments playing, and why is it taking up nearly half this album”. The final track, “Rise”, is seven minutes of stuff I’ve heard on, not one, but two previous albums. This is something Zimmer has been doing lately on his sequel scores, Dark Knight included, and much as I’d like to give it a pass for keeping in line with the previous movies, I can’t help but feel just a little gypped once again.

There is also no reasonable excuse that two out of the fifteen tracks present, “A Storm is Coming” and “Death by Exile”, are close to 30 seconds or less, with nothing really happening in them.

Not that I like to dwell on what could have been, but it would have been interesting to hear what Howard would have contributed to this final movie. His contributions to the previous movies brought a real emotional core to contrast Zimmer’s aggression. Zimmer does provide some melancholy sections, notably “On Thin Ice”, but his droning, murky fog musical approach to the more complex emotions isn’t quite as satisfying as some of the best of what Howard has to offer.

The music will, no doubt, fit like a glove when played with the movie (it always has), but for anyone who has the score to Batman Begins &/or The Dark Knight sitting on their shelf, you may be feeling a little deja-vu with Rises. The new material is what makes this album worthwhile and that encapsulates about half of it, so choose for yourself whether you want the whole thing or whether you just want to pick and choose certain tracks. Just don’t be surprised if you catch yourself mouthing “Deshay, Deshay, Basara, Basara” for the next few weeks.



I really liked Amazing Spider-Man and from what I understand, I am in the majority to a very vocal minority. One of the things I liked most about it is that it sets up for what could be a spectacular sequel, one that I will naturally have higher expectations for. Here are some things I would like to see to reaffirm that this trilogy is on the right track.

1. Matured Peter Parker
At the end of the movie, Flash Thompson tells Peter “you’re coming along, Parker”. I hope I’ll continue to agree with that in the future. One of the criticisms Spidey has faced this time around (one I think is being overblown) is that Peter Parker can, at times, be a bit dickish. I would say that, at times, Spider-Man’s signature snark does indeed seep into Peter’s personality, but I’m still good with it for a first movie
More than ever, Spider-Man feels like a real person under the costume this time. They didn’t just drop him into superhero-dom, but are allowing him to grow into it. As time goes by, he should naturally progress into the bearer of responsibility we know him as.

That in no way means his Spider-Man persona needs to change. That was just fine, as is. What should change is that Peter will hopefully reach a point where he doesn’t yell at his Aunt May to go to sleep, tell Gwen to shut up, mid-make-out, and be so quick to start arguments with the chief of police. Stuff like that can exit any time.

2. J. Jonah Jameson  
One of the two biggest casting challenges for next time will be the editor-in-chief of The Daily Bugle. J.K. Simmons so perfectly portrayed that character in the previous movies that it’s a hurdle enough to try and imagine anyone else filling that character’s shoes. If they don’t pick someone who already practically embodies that character, then whomever they do chose is going to have to step up their game to deliver as memorable a performance.
3. The Osborns
Speaking of shoes to fill, the Spider-Man universe’s most dysfunctional family requires special attention. Craftily introduced as a looming presence behind the curtain here, Norman Osborn’s revealing should arrive in part 2. All signs point to Osborn having a significant role in the disappearance of Peter’s parents, which should provide some interesting twists and turns in the overarching story. Whether his maniacal alter-ego, the Green Goblin, should feature prominently in the sequel is debatable, but the more build up he gets the better.
While we’re talking about one Osborn it may be prudent to mention the other. Since Harry’s descent into revenge was the overarching story of the previous trilogy, it doesn’t seem at all necessary to revisit it again here. However,  Harry’s involvement in Peter’s life isn’t insignificant enough that he should be left out, either.
4. Artist Control

One thing that uncomfortably reminded me of Spider-Man 1 & 3 is that Amazing Spider-Man is not the baby of the director or the writer. It is Sony’s/Columbia’s product, above everything else. They, no doubt, had the last word for everything that happened in the movie, with the predetermined laundry-list of requirements for the movie in hand. 
Webb and Vanderbilt were still able to put enough of their stamp on it by the time it hit theaters, luckily. Next time around the leash should be loosened quite a bit, if the studio knows what’s best for the movie. How many big superhero sequels have turned out to be great because the studios entrusted more control to the director (Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight, X2, X-Men: First Class) and how many have tripped up because the head honchos wouldn’t give any slack (Iron Man 2, Spider-Man 3, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance). 
Allow Webb and whichever writer ends up with the biggest input to take the story where it naturally needs to go, instead of dictating action plot points that don’t gel with what’s going on in the story.

5. Different Villain Set
It’s not like the mad scientist run rampant (who also happens to be one of Peter’s father figures) is a bad villain archetype, but to say it’s been done in these movies is an understatement. 
It’s perfectly alright to have one or two side villains that don’t have a personal connection to Peter in some way (for once). A technologically or biologically enhanced criminal or enforcer on the side could make for some great action scenes. Someone like Mysterio, Shocker, Sandman (minus the Uncle Ben drama), or Electro could all fill this role.
If this iteration of Spider-Man wants to draw more comparisons to Nolan’s Batman movies, organized crime is an area no Spider-Man film has touched before. I’m not sure of the current legal status of using Kingpin due to him being declared part of the Daredevil universe, but anyone from Tombstone, Silvermane, or Hammerhead could fill the crime boss role, and maybe even be the employer of the supercriminals previously mentioned.
This is the area of the Spider-Man movie universe that now needs the most mixing up, so practically any change will be welcomed.


Oliver Stone — he’s a weird guy. Basically insane at one point and possibly still is depending on who you ask. Like his sanity, his batting average as a filmmaker in these last few years has been a little spotty too. If W. and Wall Street 2 weren’t considered successes, Savages may just be seen as a step in the right direction.

Stone has become known for this nutty expressionist style of filmmaking consisting of color saturation and crazy editing (among other things) that he adopted back when he did Natural Born Killers. With a topic as tumultuous and frantic as the war on drugs, splicing in an image of the Buddha now and then doesn’t seem so out there, and such things even bring interest to a lot of parts. 

Savages acts primarily as a broad (and gratuitous) statement about the state of the U.S.’s war on drugs. Like it needs to tell you that it’s failed. The film takes a very adamant stance that decriminalizing marijuana would eliminate most the violence and power of the cartels. Make of that what you will, but not in my comments section, because I’m not going near it.

But in focusing on the conditions of this conflict, the movie kind of bypasses telling an involving story. None of the main three characters ever seemed all that interesting. The actors all pulled their weight when they had to but there was never much heft or involvement with them.

Add to that a script that’s incredibly obvious and hokey. Poor Blake Lively had to deliver a narrative that thinks it’s funnier and more ironic than it actually is. If the line “I had orgasms, he had wargasms.” sounds only mildly amusing, don’t worry, it comes off as the most awkward thing ever in the movie. It also seems as if the writers assumed people would forget what movie they are seeing and made sure to put the word “Savages” in the movie no less than five times, with Lively reading the fucking definition at one point. Yeesh.

The ending is likely to leave a lot of people dumbfounded as to why they would even choose to go down the road they do. Without giving too much away, it’s frivolous.

The real reason to see this movie is the veteran actors in the supporting cast. They are the ones who know what they are in for and just how to go about their business. Salma Hayek chews scenery like a boss and the great Benicio del Toro is one of the most enjoyably scumbaggish villains this summer. Even John Travolta is a lot of fun as a morally ambiguous DEA agent. The exuberance from these guys is what grabs hold of your attention, unfortunately at the expense of the main characters story.

Like a lot of movies this summer, it’s refreshing to see Savages embrace its R rating. Basically nothing but sex happens for the first 15 minutes of the movie. After that, the drugs and violence really sets in and there’s a particularly upsetting scene of torture. Not to say that any of these things could be described as soul food, just that so many movies in the summer shy away from gritty graphic content in an attempt to be accessible to as many people as possible, even if it doesn’t gel with the movie.

Inconsistencies and script aside, Savages works in the long run, but only because of the strength of the supporting players and because the topic proves to be so fascinating.




Advertised as “The Untold Story” of Spider-Man, many people were disappointed that the story they got with The Amazing Spider-Man was, well, somewhat told. The newest element, the mystery of Peter’s parents, wasn’t resolved by the end of the movie, although it was teased to have some importance in upcoming sequels. Now word is surfacing that this may not have always been the case.

One scene in specific does not appear in the movie and it may have made for a very different movie. The scene in question has made several snippet appearances in the marketing material before-hand, so much so that its absence draws a lot of attention. The general idea of the scene looks to involve Peter confronting Dr. Connors in his sewer laboratory after the fight in the high school when Rajit Ratha, Connors’ superior and Norman Osborn underling, also confronts him, which ends in more reptilian results.

It is 99% certain that the two lines we’ve already heard in the trailers, first by Dr. Ratha where he asks Peter “Do you think what happened to you, Peter, was an accident? Do you have any idea what you really are?” and the line where Dr. Connors says “If you want the truth Peter, come and get it.” (both of which are not in the movie) are contained in this scene.

Judging just by those two lines, it seems incredibly likely that if this scene didn’t flat out reveal the mystery of Peter’s parents, then it would have led on to the idea that there is something special about Peter that allowed him to survive his genetic enhancement where all other specimens died. It seems probable considering Richard Parker’s genetic work with spiders that he played a role in Peter’s genetic luck with the spider bite.

There is also some evidence that the end of this scene would have led into The Lizard transforming the SWAT team into lizards, which is rumored to have originally played a larger role in the story than it did. The editing of the movie seems pretty telltale of re-shoots.

Whether they cut this scene because they wanted to save their answers for next time, test audiences didn’t like it, or it made the movie too long, the inclusion of this scene, I think, would have made it a better movie. Not only would it have been that one extra Lizard scene the movie needed, it also closes the Ratha plot-hole (things don’t seem to end well for him, judging by one of those photos and how whispery he delivers that cut line). In fact, one could say all story related issues stem from the consequences of removing of this scene.

Now, I still really like the movie. I think it works great as a character piece with some terrific performances, humor and action/special effects. But after learning about this, it’s hard not to find more fault with the story. And as much as I would love for this scene to be included in the deleted scenes on the Blu-Ray, or even better, be part of an extended cut, something tells me Sony doesn’t want this to see daylight (which is weird seeing how they released so much evidence of it).

Oh well. Just another behind the scenes tale about the magic of movie making.


I couldn’t give less of a flying fuck if it’s been just 5 years since the original Spider-Man trilogy ended. It’s now become clear as crystal that those movies were not the best way to be introduced to the character. In fact, forget all about them. The Amazing Spider-Man is the Spider-Man movie we both needed and deserved all along.

The Amazing Spider-Man sees social outcast and orphan Peter Parker on the hunt for answers about his parents, who went missing when he was a child. His search brings him to the lab of Oscorp scientist Dr. Curt Conners when a chance encounter with a genetically altered spider grants him extraordinary abilities. Donning the alter ego of Spider-Man, Peter woos his high school crush, Gwen Stacy, while realizing he inadvertently gives Dr. Connors the tools to become a mutated monster.

This movie’s main criticism has been that it retells the origin story. If you were satisfied with it the first time around, you may find yourself a little bugged you have to revisit it here. If you’re of the correct opinion that barely anything about Spider-Man (2002) was resonant, origin included, you’ll be pleased to know that it is told here in a way that is both more integral to the overall movie and helps relate to the characters even more. In other words, better in every way.

This movie is very different from what has come before. People have lazily said that this movie is trying to be the Dark Knight version of Spider-Man. Yes and no.

Yes, in that gone is the whimsical fluff of the previous movies. Amazing Spider-Man has more of an edge to it and is a few steps closer to reality. That’s not to say that in this version the Lizard is a guy who has a really bad case of eczema, just that the real world things in it seem definitely more real world.

No, in that this is still Spider-Man. Director Marc Webb brings a great sense of humor to the movie, akin to his last movie, (500) Days of Summer, and it feels very at home with these characters (and certainly not overly corny). The scenes where he first discovers his powers are about as funny as any great comedic scene you’ll see this summer.

Many people may be surprised and maybe even disappointed to learn that this movie values the characters and their relationships most of all. It’s not paced like a regular summer movie, opting to build up to most of its action in the last 45 minutes, and while that does create some problems in the form of a couple of really slow parts, the characters were engrossing enough to keep my attention.

Andrew Garfield embodies so much of what makes not only Spider-Man great, but Peter Parker as well. Instead of being a shy outcast who felt at home in the ’60s, like in the last series, this Peter Parker is an outsider that fits in current day. He’s dorky and awkward but he also rides a skateboard and has some abandonment issues. At times, it’s almost as if he has Aspergers.  He loves his Uncle Ben but doesn’t quite take the leap into full responsibility as Spider-Man yet. And why would he? He’s a high school student still trying to find his own way through things. Having such a real, dimensional character to root for this time is awesome and Garfield’s performance is a great anchor for the movie.

Who honestly doesn’t like Emma Stone at this point? This isn’t her being that full on smarmy and sarcastic self she’s known for, but she is SO incredibly likeable, especially when compared to her predecessor. Her scenes with Garfield are what keep the movie afloat.

Rhys Ifans is a great actor and he turns in a good performance here, but The Lizard isn’t one of the things that is great about the movie.  Essentially, he is a perfect villain to begin your proposed trilogy with because he cribs from the best and most familiar Spider-Man villains: eccentric scientist who is a role model of Peter’s goes loopy after a botched laboratory turns him into a monster. I’m sure that doesn’t sound familiar. The all-CG design of The Lizard looks great most of the time and it was a smart decision to incorporate Ifans’ voice and mannerisms. However, just one more scene with him would make him seem more integral to the whole thing and he would probably be a great villain instead of just a good one.

Not in the movie, FYI

Many blockbusters have starting thinking more in terms of a long term franchise and it seems Spider-Man has now succumbed as well. That’s not a good thing. Many elements are left unresolved at the end of the movie. The mystery about Peter’s parents isn’t solved, Uncle Ben’s killer is never caught, and the Dr. Ratha character completely disappears after the bridge scene (likely edited out, judging by stills and sound bites already released). The first two aren’t so bad, seeing as the movie got to where it needed to because of their inclusion, but the third hints at some missing material that may have taken the story in a different direction.

Worse, there is a stinger half way through the credits that hints at answers to the parents mystery, along with a likely villain next time. While it’s enjoyable to ponder who this mystery figure is, and I very much look forward to how they go forth with this series, the scene makes it too clear that this movie can’t stand completely by itself because of all the loose ends.

Still, once the action kicks in in the last 45 minutes, it becomes some of the most fun in all of the Spider-Man movies. Spidey’s battles with The Lizard at the high school and on top of the Oscorp tower are thrilling and gritty. The swinging sequences, despite not having the advantage of being fresh and new, still pop off the screen, and just about every special effect that looked horrible before looks Amazing now.

It took me a while to warm up to it, but James Horner’s score works fantastically in the movie and could possibly rival Elfman’s on the icon-o-meter.

Spider-Man is such an iconic character that means so much to so many different people that it’s become impossible to please everybody. Many (supposedly) professional critics decided to hate this movie from the start because of its genesis. Yes, this movie was made so Sony could retain the rights to the character and keep public awareness up. That being this case, it’s some kind of miracle that this movie ended up as good as it did. This is a more realized, well balanced version of Spider-Man. Sure, the quips, the iconic Spider-Man poses and the mechanical web-shooters make a welcome return, but finding what makes these characters tick and showing all the great aspects of them is what sets this movie above the rest. If you consider yourself very attached to the previous movies, your reaction may differ, but The Amazing Spider-Man proves to be on another level from what has come before and a welcome big screen return for the wallcrawler.