The Amazing Spiderman

I kind of feel sorry for The Amazing Spiderman. Nobody really needed it. The original Spiderman movies are still so fresh in everyone’s mind that this revamp of the series confuses more than excites. In fact, it was only made so the studio could retain the rights to the property. I feel like any greatness this version achieves will be undermined by people not being really sure why it exists. However, The Amazing Spiderman boasts a strong cast with Andrew Garfield as the webslinger and real life girlfriend Emma Stone as his love interest Gwen Stacey, and a new look at Spidey’s origin.
Peter Parker was orphaned as a young boy when his mother and scientist father left him with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) in the middle of the night, only to die in a plane crash shortly after. Peter grows into an intelligent teenager who has a passion for photography and habit of sticking up for the little guy. However, he knows little about his parents, as his aunt and uncle rarely talk about them. When he discovers papers his father left behind, it leads him to find his father’s old partner, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who works for Oscorp trying to discover a way for humans to regenerate missing parts, as he has a deformed arm. When trying to track Connors down, Peter stumbles upon one of his experiment and is bitten by a radiated spider, giving him unique powers. When tragedy hits his family, he dedicates himself to tracking down criminals that the cops aren’t taking care of. Meanwhile, Connors obsession corrupts him and he becomes The Lizard, who begins to terrorize New York City. Only Peter Parker knows enough about Connors’ work to bring The Lizard down.
One thing this film has over the original Spiderman movie is a stronger central cast. Andrew Garfield is total teenager as Peter. He’s sometimes sweet, sometimes snotty, sometimes emo. While trying to hide his secret from his aunt and uncle, he comes off like a kid with a drug addiction and he clashes with his guardians as they don’t understand how he could suddenly become so irresponsible. In the original film series, Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane was always a deal breaker for me. I always felt they totally threw everything interesting about the character out the window and, to me, the series’ failure can be symbolized in on shot, Mary Jane running in slow-mo in her wedding dress, rushing to tell Peter she loves him. Gag me! However, this time around, Peter Parker’s paramour is America’s most lovable young actress, Emma Stone who plays Gwen Stacey. Gwen is smart, capable, and a good person and likes Peter from the get go because he is also smart, capable and a good person. Garfield and Stone have great chemistry so I hope they keep Gwen Stacey around for another movie or two. Martin Sheen is strong as Uncle Ben, though Sally Fields isn’t given much to do as Aunt May. Time will tell if her character is developed more as the series continues. Also, I found myself feeling sorry for Ifans’ Dr. Connors as his obsession drove him over the edge.
When I first saw the trailer I felt it was too much movie. There’s the stuff with his parents, his basic origin story, the Lizard, his antagonistic relationship with Denis Leary, it’s a lot for one movie! It wasn’t as overwhelming as I anticipated, but the pacing is a little off. There’s a bit too much time spent pre-bite and then even more time spent before Connors transforms to the Lizard! There are certain elements that don’t get explored enough and others that are downright anti-climactic.
While this latest take on the classic Marvel hero is a bit cluttered, the cast is strong enough that it gives one hope for the sequel, when there’s less back story to get through and the plot can really hit the ground running.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

With three weeks left until the end of the world, Dodge(Steve Carell) is prepared to spend his final days alone, having been recently left by his wife. While many of his friends are content to go out with a bang, doing drugs and having casual sex, Dodge finds himself wondering about the one that got away, a former girlfriend named Olivia. He meets his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) who has also recently gone through a break-up but is more heartbroken that she has missed her chance to return home to England so she could be with her family one last time. The two team up to help Dodge find his lost love and develop an unexpected bond along the way.
I will warn, do not go into this movie expecting a comedy. While there are lighter moments, this deals with the end of the world and the emotions one would go through when they realize they are facing the apocalypse. I found this to be a beautiful and realistic portrayal of what would happen if we all knew it was the end of days. Some of us would do all the risky things we didn’t do because it’s not the best idea in the long term, some of us would try to fix past mistakes, and some of us would keep on doing what we had been doing.
Carell and Knightley have great chemistry, despite seemingly being today opposites from the outside. Carell is great in leading man roles as he is relatable and brings a sweetness to his character. While he has to face the literal end of the world, he discovers his life had been a lie when his wife not only leaves him, but he later learns she had been having an affair for some time. While Knightley’s character is very manic pixie dream girl, she is really into vinyl and has a sleeping disorder, you feel her pain watching her speak to her family who she knows she will never see again.
One of the recurring themes is what would you do for love. Both of the main characters make major sacrifices for the one they love, knowing there is no time for the other to return the favor.
Really enjoyed Dodge’s relationship with his father. While he has not spoken to the man in over twenty years and still holds a strong grudge against him for leaving the family, he still carries with him a gift his father gave him during happier times. It reminded me how no parents plans on being a bad one, and many times the worst offenders had once promised themselves they would never be the monster their parent was. I’m probably reading too much into it, but it added another dimension to how all the character go to where they were.
Be prepared to shed a tear or two as this film is not the romantic comedy it was advertised as, but if you decide to check it, you’ll be rewarded with a cast of unique characters and a touching story of love finding someone even in the darkest of moments.