Wednesday, July 4, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Amazing Spider-Man"

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is back on the big screen, this time in reboot form. Gone is star Tobey Maguire and director Sam Raimi, in comes director Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield as the classic comic book web-slinger. Many thought this film would be unnecessary, with the last movie happening around five years ago and this movie being all about his origins again. Well, after much outcry and some changes, we can now see for ourselves if this was worth it. Is it amazing or not so spectacular?

Let's take a spin... shall we?

Tale as old as time. Boy gets bite by radioactive spider and becomes a crime-fighting superhero. Only this time, our hero Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is trying to find out what happened to his parents and what does a Dr. Curt Conners (played by Rhys Ifans) have to do with them. Along the way, he finds the girl of his dreams in Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and getting into trouble with her dad Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) and the rest of New York's finest.

It's hard not to compare this to the original "Spider-Man" flick from 2002, but really, outside of the standard Spidey origin parts is a different take and a new adventure for the wallcrawler. Just like in the comics, there are different ways of telling the story without completely changing what has been around for 50 years. This was a bold move by the studio to release a reboot so soon after the recent films, but it does right some of the wrongs and at the same time, makes some new wrongs of its own.

The reactions so far to the movie have been mixed, and as a Spidey fan, I wanted to be on the positive side. I know many will hate me for this, but it was just a good movie. Not really amazing, but hear me out. In order to right the wrongs, they had to start over and yes, do the origin story once more. Yes, the love story is done SO much better here and you can feel that Gwen and Peter truly do care for one another. Emma Stone here plays the sweet girl next door and not the weak female love interest that is usually seen in movies like this. She's smart, caring, and willing to do what it takes to keep her superhero boyfriend, even if it means taking on a giant lizard.

And it would be silly not to mention Andrew Garfield. He has to be the best pick for Peter/Spider-Man yet. He played the awkward nerd very well, while not being the full-blown stereotype and still remaining true to being an extremely intelligent teen with a bit of that New York attitude. So kudos to the both of them, they will definitely go far after this.

Rhys Ifans does a good job as the tragic character Dr. Conners/ Lizard. You can't help but sympathize with Conners and some of the decisions he makes as he tries to control the Lizard beast that has taken over his body. Not a fan of the Lizard design, but still didn't take away from how cool some of the action was between him and Spidey. Denis Leary is great as Captain Stacy, playing his usual tough-guy self. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben was great, Sally Field was alright as Aunt May. I feel like there wasn't enough of her here, as all of a sudden she just disappears for most of it.

Oh, and yes, look out for the regular Stan Lee Marvel movie cameo. Could be the best one yet!

Now for some of the bad.

I actually don't mind an origin story, if done right. At times, this felt abit disjointed and it was having a hard time juggling time for everyone. It ends up just feeling like a love story more so than finding Peter's parents. More questions rise than they are answered and I feel like not everyone will like that. Not a fan of the music used, as it sounded more spiritual than superhero. Lots of plot holes too, like some characters teleporting and a certain Google search. But in reality, it's a summer movie and they won't all be perfect. It's a good attempt at the Spidey lore with some great action and stunning visuals, thanks to director Webb and his team. Could be better, could be ALOT worse.

In the end, I'm just happy enough to have a Spidey movie around, and here's hoping in eventual sequels they fix some of these issues addressed earlier. Hardcore Spidey fans, this is a no-brainer recommendation. As far as anyone else, even after everything I said here hasn't swayed you off, then check it out. It is worth seeing on the big screen, though, maybe even in 3D. Oh, and keep an eye out for a very interesting scene during the credits. THWIP!

7.5/ 10

Sunday, July 1, 2012


"Ted" is the first live-action film from Seth MacFarlane, the man behind the animated series "Family Guy." Here, he's directing, co-writing, producing, and even voicing the title character, so... no pressure, Seth! So the question is, is "Ted" any good or should MacFarlane stick to his usual cartoon schtick?

Read on...

Story starts with a young boy named John, who wishes for his teddy bear Ted to be his best friend for life. The bear comes to life, and soon becomes the talk of the town. Cut to 27 years later, an adult John (Mark Walhberg) is still slacking around with Ted, smoking and drinking and getting into all sorts of trouble. John's girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis), after taking all that she can, gives John an ultimatum: it's her or Ted. And much hilarity and, surprisingly, much heart ensues.

Gotta say, I enjoyed this very much. As much as I may be a casual Family Guy fan, I really wasn't looking forward to this movie. The idea is great and sounded fun, but last thing I wanted was a 2 hour Family Guy marathon. Really, that is what it ended up becoming in the end. But just like that series, when the jokes hit, it is too hilarious.

Yes, the usual cut-away humor is here, and the pop-culture references are in full effect, even the cast is pretty much taken from the show. Mila Kunis, Alex Borstein, Patrick Warburton, and even Patrick Stewart, playing your not-too-typical narrator. But at the same time, that is not a bad thing.

Mark Walhberg, who is not known for being the funny guy, does a good job as man-child John. After all, he's getting into all kinds of humorous situations with a CGI bear that he makes it work. And Seth MacFarlane doing his usual thing with Ted the bear, the star of the show. Seeing as it's a rowdy, raunchy teddy bear, however, it works so much better and you just can't end up hating this character. It also doesn't hurt that the effects are really well done here, so kudos to the animators. Mila Kunis does pretty good also as Lori, even though she was kind of a pain at first but the character does have some heart to her and breaks her out of the typical movie girlfriend role that so many movies do badly with. 

Joel McHale was fun as the typical jerk boss and Patrick Warburton had me laughing every time he came on screen in what was a really minor part. Look for some great cameos and again, the usual pop references, not to mention some really harsh jokes at some celebrities (Poor Superman...).  

"Ted" is definitely a recommendation is you're a full-on Family Guy fan. If you hate the series, don't bother. Also, the last 20, 30 minutes kind of drag on and lose the momentum that the rest of the film brought. I wasn't too sure about Giovanni Ribisi's character either. Yes, there is heart underneath all the crude humor but at times it's like they tried WAY too hard. At the end of the day, "Ted" is all about friendship and staying close to the ones you love. Oh, and Flash Gordon too. So I'll give it to MacFarlane as he did some fine work here, not perfect and far from classic, but it works enough.

So if you like everything mentioned above, bring your thunder buddies with you and go check out "Ted"!