Tag Archives: review

The Problems Of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ (SPOILERS)

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Evening all. Some people reading this will know, from my activity on Twitter and on the Bastnerds podcast, that I have been an avid Spider-Man fan for the best part of 25 years. I recently took part in a spoiler podcast with Chris Byrne, Christopher Ejizu and Amon Warmann for Marc Webb’s latest effort – ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′.

On the recording, I was pretty critical and decidedly negative about the movie as a whole. Give it a listen here.

Now, instead of a review. I decided it would be more ‘my style’ to basically talk about why I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as others. There are more issues than what I talk about here. These are the worst offenders, in my opinion.

So here it is, my ANAL-sis for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′. Yes there are SPOILERS, so don’t moan.

 

1. Jamie Foxx’s character is fucking wasted…. And I don’t mean drunk.

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Jamie Foxx plays electrical engineer Max Dillon at Oscorp, later transformed into the villain ‘Electro’. From the marketing (extensive within the first 6 months of promotion) of the movie, Electro is extremely prominent and was confirmed as the ‘lead protagonist’. However towards the tail end of the marketing campaign, I noticed that the focus shifted from Electro and more prominently to Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan) and Oscorp. This seemed odd – but I remained excited to see the final product.

Now I’m not saying that Electro is a BAD character, or that Foxx doesn’t do a great job. Quite the opposite actually. The issue with Electro is that his character is built up to absolutely be a potentially awesome and dangerous villain for Spidey (Andrew Garfield) – but as soon as he’s built up, he’s left hanging in limbo. While Osborn’s ‘sickness’ plotline is fast-tracked through the movie’s midway point (more on that later). Dillon is the sympathetic, misunderstood man that becomes endowed with immeasurable power while struggling to fit in with the norms of society. Max, through his own admission,  just wants to be noticed. In terms of personality, being polar opposite of Spider-Man is a potentially fruitful plot device – As we could potentially see the character gradually unravelling through his jealousy of Spidey’s attention – THEN develop him into Electro, powers and all. Give him something to run with first. The direction they took the character was rushed and half-resolved until a convenient way to bring him back into the narrative was presented through Harry Osborn.

*Side note – that whole Doctor Kafka/Electro conversation felt completely ill-judged and seemed to be hammed up as fuck.*

 

2. Uncle Ben’s murderer…. Yes, remember now?

ftg

Ben Parker (portrayed by Martin Sheen) is the moral compass and strongest paternal figure of Spider-Man/Peter Parker. So whether you’ve seen the comics, the cartoons or the movies themselves, you know that he’s a prominent fixture in Spidey adaptations.

Marc Webb’s first Spider-Man movie was pretty much a retread of Raimi’s original in regard to Peter and Ben’s relationship. Culminating in a robbery that Peter had the opportunity to stop, electing to ignore it. Which in turn resulted in the fatal shooting of his dear old Uncle. In ‘ASM 1′, there’s a meaty sequence where we see Peter attempting to find the killer, using a likeness as a template. Unfortunately, there’s no resolution. And Peter vows to find his uncle’s killer. So were we expecting to see this plot point, this massive part of Peter’s life at least continued? Of course……..

Barely even mentioned. That’s right.

 

3. Hollywood 101 – Using the last shot in the movie as the last shot in a trailer.

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Paul Giamatti’s  Aleksei Sytsevich is introduced at the top of the movie. Attempting to steal plutonium (why? who cares!), and is quickly and effortlessly thwarted by Spider-Man (again, spoiled by the trailers and tv spots). At the film’s end, we find out Oscorp made a big robot suit, and apparently Sytsevich is qualified to operate it….. Enter ‘Rhino’, his giant robot suit and its Transformeresque nonsense that pulls Spidey out of the doldrums and back into saving the day mode. Cue the dramatic final shot…. That we’ve all seen months prior. Killing any anticipation for the next movie.

Way to go guys, you fucking turnips.

 

4. Harry Osborn and The Mystery Of Harry Osborn.

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Dane Dehaan’s casting as Peter Parker’s best friend, Harry Osborn, was particularly one of the movie’s strongest. Dehaan is absolutely commanding in his conveying of emotionally tumultuous characters. He does indeed showcase this as the young Osborn, later as this movie’s incarnation of The Green Goblin (never Christened/labelled). But like Max Dillon’s character, it’s underdeveloped and a hugely missed opportunity to demonstrate one of the key relationships in the life of Peter Parker. Harry just appears out of nowhere after a decade (?) away and there’s no real in-depth insight into their friendship or what’s been going on with Harry himself – the whole thing feels rushed and only as a servant to get things moving with the Sinister Six development. This becomes more apparent when Harry’s ‘sickness’ conveniently becomes more aggressive after his father Norman (Chris Cooper) is killed to death by the unnamed genetic disease. Peter and Harry’s brief time together feels vacuous because we, the audience, have seen Peter go through these differences and changes in his life, without Harry around. For the friendship to look and feel natural and resonate – Harry needed to be a figure in Peter’s life during the events of first movie.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies showcased the pair as school friends right from the get go. We knew exactly what motivations Harry had for going after Peter by the third movie, and it was an actual, properly constructed plot that made sense in terms of the story and its development of the characters. Here, it’s condensed into about 30-40 minutes.

 

5. Richard & Mary Parker Became Sony’s Bitches

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Maybe not everyone felt this way.

We know Richard and Mary were both involved in Oscorp and the experimentation that was going down. Spider-Man himself being a successful result of this. To me, this all seemed irrelevant to the story as a whole. Peter just wanted to find out why his parents had to leave him and to understand the reasoning behind it. Now, as the second movie progresses, we find out that Richard worked with Norman on many ‘cross species’ experiments in aid of potentially curing Monster Mash and his fingernails. Eventually leading to Richard removing himself from the project and thus getting ‘removed’ permanently on an airplane during the film’s opening sequence.

From this, and the subsequent reveal of Oscorp/Ravencroft’s intention to create a group to, I dunno, take over the world… It felt like the true nature, the raw humanity and the effects of the Parkers’ absence from Peter’s life had been substituted, or rather discarded in favor of just a cheap. convenient method of pushing the establishment of more villains. Sequel bait, folks! $$$$$$$$$££££££££££$$$$$$$$$$ 

 

 

 

So there you go. Anyone agree? Disagree? Send me your thoughts.

 

Love you lots.


Inglorious Bastnerds Spoiler Podcast: ‘Captain America – The Winter Soldier’

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It’s time once again for another spoiler special for myself and the Bastnerd boys. Chris, Ian and I (@Celluloidical) are joined by regular guests, film journos – Amon Warmann and Mr Christopher Ejizu as we dive deep into the latest Marvel Studios outing – Captain America – The Winter Soldier. Which opens in the US on April 4th. (Sorry guys. We got there first – again!).

Aside from the obvious spoiler warning. I say this. Unlike Total Film, we actually have varying opinions. As opposed to just bitching and moaning. So, yeah.
Anyway, follow the guys and rate, subscribe to the podcast/sites and leave a review. Thanks and enjoy.

Click here to visit the podcast page.

 

@CinemaTronix (www.cinematronix.co.uk)

@i_nesbot (www.redbubble.com/people/inesbot)

@awarmann (www.amonymousblog.com)

@movieumpire (www.movieumpire.com)

 


‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ – My Thoughts

"Gard Gard Gard Gard..."

“Gard Gard Gard Gard…”

So it’s been a little over a week since the long-awaited adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s much-adored ‘The Hobbit’ (Part 1, mind) was released, and I’ve been itching to give my opinions on Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth…….

Spoilers ahead, here are the moments of greatness, and in some cases – shiteness of ‘An Unexpected Journey’…

 

What Was Great.

1. Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

A given, right? After the announcement of ‘The Office’ alum’s casting, I never stopped thinking it was nothing short of genius. His performance is laced with an air of naivety, disengaged charm, and an almost sense of self-preservation at the film’s beginning. Freeman captured everything I wanted to see in this character, and the encounter with Gollum and subsequent conclusion of the movie was some of the most entertaining and highly focal points for me.

2. The Design

JHOWEGANDALF

A lasting impression of the LOTR trilogy was the design work inspired by conceptual artists Alan Lee and John Howe. Their astounding and beautiful interpretations of the various locales, architecture and characters of Middle Earth are further realised in ‘The Hobbit’, and will receive a whole new audience of fans. Much to thank those guys for.

3. The Trolls Scene

trolls

Take Freeman’s Bilbo, throw in a few ponies, add a couple of daft, bumbling Kiwi trolls with a hunger for bearded midgets…. And you get one of the most endearing, faithful sequences in the entire movie. Grinned from ear to ear during this one!

4. Gollum and The Return Of Andy Serkis

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How could I do this list without citing Gollum and Andy Serkis in some form…? I’d be lying to myself if I ever did. The show stealer in the LOTR trilogy, and the catalyst of the events that lead up to the epic Jackson saga returns to give us an uncompromising reminder of why he is such a memorable part of modern cinema. It’s weird to think that I will never see Gollum again on-screen in this capacity, so I’ve really taken Serkis’ performance in this film to be somewhat bittersweet. Alas, it’s an amazing reprise from Andy.

5. The Location Shooting

HELLOFROMLOCATION

Since the release of ‘The Return Of The King’, the influx of green screen and blue screen has contributed to the exhausting cookie-cutter popcorn flicks that have littered Hollywood for a decade. However Peter Jackson, his team at Wingnut, New Line and WB persevered to keep the grandiose and breathtaking scale that the LOTR trilogy took on. The location shooting vlogs that were posted through the early parts of last year, gave us an incredible insight into the huge amount of work that is put into such a mammoth task. What we see on-screen are the fruits of that labor. Beautiful stuff.

What Didn’t Cut The Mustard (My opinion…)

1. The Dwarves (SPOILER ALERT)

"Hugh, Pugh, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub"

“Hugh, Pugh, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub”

Yeah, I know. Old record, old record. Certainly with the amount of characters that ‘The Hobbit’ boasts – it would be pointless to have a gripe about screen time for 13 dwarves. But mine isn’t about that – it’s the execution. Of the Company, with the exception of Thorin (Richard Armitage) – Balin (Ken Stott), Kili (Aidan Turner) and Bofur (Jimmy Nesbitt) are the dwarves with the most screen time/dialogue in the movie. We are also given a slight nod as if to suggest that these characters will be much more prominent and of greater importance in at least the second movie. What actually frustrated me was how forgettable they all were. Next to no characterisation for most of the Company, and when we do see some it’s either far too early in proceedings or just too little too late.

2. Old Bilbo (As Played by Ian Holm)

GRGR4

Love Ian Holm – let me make that perfectly clear. Awesome beyond belief in the LOTR films, and perhaps one of my favourite actors of the entire trilogy. Personally, I really enjoyed seeing him return briefly in his scenes with Frodo (Elijah Wood), which allowed a nice bridging point between the LOTR movies and these new films. But something really bugged me. It’s a small nitpick – but it’s so fucking unbelievably obvious.

It’s the hair.

Ok, yeah – “What the fuck, Scott? Get over it…” – Well I fucking can’t, ok?

It’s been 12 years since we last saw old Bilbo in Bag End. So Weta digital have used their magic to ‘de-age’ the veteran act0r to make him look more similar to his younger self. The hairpiece however, is not Holm’s own hair we can easily assume. So why did they do this….?

Yeah, really... I'm moaning about this

Yeah, really… I’m moaning about this

I’m a big continuity buff, and a confessed moaner. But come on, really? The hair is completely different. The reference points are in the DVD cabinets of nearly every single person that worked on the movie!

On the left, a still of ‘Fellowship’, the hair is bushy, almost feathered, also fairly thick and at cheek length. On the right hand side, we see Bilbo as he appears in ‘The Hobbit’. The hair is thinner, lank and also nearly at CHIN length. Bilbo’s appearance in the new movie is one that precedes events in ‘An Unexpected Journey’ – but also takes place in the same time line period as the beginning of ‘Fellowship’… e.g THAT PICTURE ON THE LEFT. Come on, now. It’s a silly mistake that shouldn’t have been made. It’s absolutely glaring.

Meh…. Next….

3. The Seemingly Non-existent Use of Human Actors for Goblins/Orcs/Trolls/Whatever

Looks stoopid

Looks stoopid

I was excited to see more of the amazing work from Weta’s visual effects and makeup department. But sadly, we weren’t so lucky this time around. The creatures that are featured in the movie are beautifully realised. However it just didn’t have that same magic as having real actors in the performance. It didn’t really tarnish the film on an enjoyment scale, rather just made me question whether Jackson is heading down the same dark path as another certain filmmaker did a long, long time ago.

4. The Film’s Opening Hour

"WE ARE LAUGHING!"

“WE ARE LAUGHING!”

‘An Unexpected Journey’ has a run time which may agitate and even frustrate some theatre-goers. But personally, I didn’t mind it at all. But the first adventure of Bilbo and the Dwarves has such a slow build up, it really did test my patience for the first 45 to 60 minutes. In particular the meeting at Bilbo’s house. Christ… such… a…. fucking…. drag…. Leave already!

5. The Smaug Money Shot

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After a successful third act. I really was looking forward to finally getting a glimpse of the dragon, Smaug in all his hellish glory. This was not the case.

With the extreme lengths that Weta went to prevent us viewing folk from seeing the antagonist during the (seriously too long) prologue, I was convinced that we’d get to see him rolling around in his gold like a pig in shit. What we got was an eyeball…. Haha, a great eye. Maybe that was a little joke on their part. Well, you got us. Fuck you anyway :-)

—————————————————————–

Let’s just be clear on one thing…. I LOVED this movie. Thank you to everyone that worked on it!


Best & Worst Of 2012

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No filler. Let’s do this.

Here are my Top 10 Worst films (viewed by me) released in the United Kingdom over the last 12 months. My review of the movies (if applicable) can be found at the link after the title/director

 

1. ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ (Paul W.S. Anderson) http://boxd.it/uIU3

2. ‘Friends With Kids’ (Jennifer Westfeldt) http://boxd.it/j4Hh

3. ‘Twilight – Breaking Dawn Part 2′ (Bill Condon)

4. ‘Hotel Transylvania’ (Genndy Tartakovsky) http://boxd.it/uxt1

5. ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ (Nicholas Stoller) http://boxd.it/j4FP

6. ‘Prometheus’ (Ridley Scott)

7. ‘A Thousand Words’ (Brian Robbins)

8. ‘Snow White & The Huntsman’ (Rupert Sanders)

9. ‘Paranormal Activity 4′ (Henry Joost/Ariel Schulman)

10. ‘Dark Shadows’ (Tim Burton) http://boxd.it/ebrb

 

With the proverbial turds flushed down the commode. Here are my favourites :-)

Celluloidical’s Top 10 Films Of 2012

1. ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ (Wes Anderson) http://boxd.it/eMBH

2. ‘The Avengers’ (Joss Whedon) http://boxd.it/btpr

3. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (Christopher Nolan) http://boxd.it/jSSp

4. ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ (Peter Jackson) http://boxd.it/BvJZ

5. ‘Looper’ (Rian Johnson)

6. ‘Dredd’ (Pete Travis) http://boxd.it/rLKz

7 ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ (David O.Russell)

8. ‘End Of Watch’ (David Ayer) http://boxd.it/zzsT

9. ‘Skyfall’ (Sam Mendes) http://bit.ly/ZLxnIf

10. ‘Chronicle’ (Josh Trank)


The Acting Masterclass #2 – Michael Fassbender

Image courtesy of CinemaBlend.com

Image courtesy of CinemaBlend.com

One of the most captivating performers to emerge from the last 10 years, German/Irish actor Michael Fassbender is certainly proving his worth.

After his breakout performance in Zack Snyder’s graphic novel homo-erotic fest, ‘300’, Fassbender began a working relationship with London artist/filmmaker Steve McQueen (not that one), and was critically acclaimed for his role as activist Bobby Sands in ‘Hunger’.

Since then, Mr Fassbender has undoubtedly become one of the most popular and sought after actors working in Hollywood.

My admiration for him stems from his ability to inhabit so many diverse and original characters. One that has been a huge testimony to this is his astounding portrayal of a sex addict in McQueen’s ‘Shame’. A film about a high-flyer working in New York that has an emotionally crippling form of hypersexuality, and engages in frequent acts of onanism and intercourse.

In the movie, his regimented lifestyle spirals out of control when his estranged sister, Sissy (Cary Mulligan), turns up on his doorstep. The most vivid turning point of the movie for me is at this point, where Fassbender’s character, Brandon, immediately begins to display signs of stress, aggravation and almost seething mental torment at the spanner his sister throws in to the works. Fassbender displays this with a conviction that is truly engaging – his uneasiness being a stark contrast to his behaviour around his co-workers, his friends and more predominantly with women. The character of Brandon, for me, is perhaps the most personal, insightful and beautifully performed role by the actor. It also has an incredible pay off.

Though his affinity with independent film has brought him much success. Fassbender has also made an extremely popular and easy transition into mainstream cinema. Last year, he starred as a young ‘Erik Lensherr’, delightfully preceded by Sir Ian McKellen, in the 60’s set comic-book movie, X-Men: First Class. This year, he featured in the lukewarm/fairly positively received ‘Prometheus’ as the android ‘David’.

In First Class, Fassbender oozes charm, danger and Bond-esque cool. Notably basing much of his performance on Sean Connery’s 007 and the overall aesthetic of Dr. No in many of his one-to-one scenes, not to mention disregarding Sir Ian’s performances of the character of Erik, and completely making it his own. It was a breath of fresh air to see such a well-known villain take on the role of the sympathetic, a man who could be a hero tragically fall that we, the audience, can so easily root for. And this was very much down to how Michael approached the character, his reasonings for his actions, his methods and his emotional turmoil.

Oddly enough, his most recent successful performance, in ‘Prometheus’ – is a completely different animal. His mysterious motives kept relatively in the dark for the duration of the movie is overshadowed by an obvious and unflattering form of self-possession. He teems with icy demeanour, and engages the other characters almost subjectively in parts. Fassbender plays this off with such an arrogance, and knowing, that it’s nearly impossible to not notice or appreciate the dedication he put into the character. Unquestionably the film’s saving grace in my opinion.

Of course, no actor can be without their stinkers, and Fassy in no exception, from the ‘promising on the outside’ ‘A Dangerous Method’, which I found utterly non-compelling and marred by a dire script. To the meathead favourite ‘300’. But these are examples of the ill-conceived. Frankly, I see this man becoming one the greatest actors to ever grace the screen. 2012 may have been the year of Fassbender…. But let’s see how the next one pans out….


#26 ‘Skyfall’ (2012)

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Cast:-

*Daniel Craig

*Judi Dench

*Javier Bardem

*Naomie Harris

*Ralph Fiennes

*Ben Whishaw

Director:- Sam Mendes

(Not much plot retread, only my thoughts)

Skyfall is undoubtedly one of the biggest revelations of the year for me. Ignoring the reviews and opinions of the many users on Twitter – I went into this with a horrible taste in my mouth left by the sleep-inducing entry that was Quantum Of Solace. And with expectations low, i was conpletely won over.

By almost literally going back to basics, and learning from convoluted mess made by the last few Bond films, Sam Mendes has effectively brought the elements of vintage James Bond – and seamlessly integrated them into the modern broken and fallable incarnation of the spy.

Sure, this film is ‘big’, but it’s only in small doses, and does more than compensate. The action is story driven, and actually plays out for audience and character reaction. Something sorely misused and underplayed during previous films (sorry, Brosnan). The direction of action is steady, crisp and not rushed (unlike others) – which makes the film all the more enjoyable and doesn’t affect the run time negatively.

Daniel Craig’s Bond is a lost soul more than ever but it’s this dark, deep-rooted pain that encapsulates him that makes him probably the most interesting and connective Bond that we have seen on screen. The suave, sexy, cool facade is all there, however Craig conveys the apparent tumultuous internal conflicts of 007 quite effortlessly. He is far more comfortable in the role.

At the films opening we are diverted away from the quote on quote – typical Bond opener. As a shadowed Craig walks through a dimly lit walkway, eventually meeting the camera with his trademark icy blue stare. It’s instantly memorable and a testament to the old adage ‘less is more’ – and indeed it is.

Though the story is generally reminiscent in some parts to ‘Goldeneye’, the exposition clearly takes the motives of the film’s principal villain, ‘Silva’ (Javier Bardem) to a sinisterly twisted level. Adopting a sadistic, perverted lust for revenge against former ally ‘M’ (Judi Dench). The character is also unquestionably a stark reminder of what James Bond himself could become if he continues down the path he treads. Conclusively, Skyfall is what I’d call Bond’s ‘crystal ball’ movie.

Saying that, however – the film is also 007’s story of resurrection and redemption – both literally and figuratively. All tying up at a showdown at Bond’s childhood home. Leading to an extremely familiar set up at the close of the film – a promising and exciting prospect. Coupled with a tag line of ‘James Bond Will Return’ – it gets you frenzied with anticipation.

Suitably polished off by the reintroduction of ‘Q’ – portrayed eloquently by Ben Whishaw and a particularly impressive turn of ‘will he, won’t he’ from Ralph Fiennes’ Gareth Mallory, chairman of the Intelligence & Security Committee and somewhat overseer of MI6. Fans of new and old will find something to sate their appetites.

Beyond that, there is so much to behold with Skyfall. I implore any film fan to give this a watch.

;

8/10


‘The Shining’ (1980) – Screening Reaction

“Are we there yet?”

So last week I was fortunate enough to get tickets to a special screening of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. Here are my thoughts after my first rewatch since buying the DVD.

An undeniably perfect example of pure terror and the degeneration of the human psyche. Jack Nicholson carries the weight with conviction and ease. Littered with allusions and unanswered questions – it’s a testament to modern horror. It instills fear, it instills dread. With an absorbing, but blank setting that in itself becomes characterised through the unravelling of events – The Shining culminates in one of the most memorable climaxes I’ve witnessed in any movie. Giving audience perspectives of the 4 main characters without losing any sense of atmosphere or tension of whats to come. Simple, but effective editing and cinematography used intelligently.

Beautifully photographed and amazingly acted. A Kubrickian classic.

9/10


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