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Cruella (2021) Review

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Cruella

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Emma Stone as Estella Miller/Cruella de Vil
Emma Thompson as Baroness von Hellman
Joel Fry as Jasper Badun
Paul Walter Hauser as Horace Badun
Emily Beecham as Catherine Miller
Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Anita “Tattletale” Darling
Mark Strong as John
Director: Craig Gillespie

Estella (Emma Stone) is a young and clever grifter who’s determined to make a name for herself in the fashion world. She soon meets a pair of thieves (Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser) who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they build a life for themselves on the streets of London. However, when Estella befriends fashion legend Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson), she embraces her wicked side to become the raucous and revenge-bent Cruella.

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Cruella was a movie I wasn’t entirely excited for in the lead up to its release. While I haven’t seen all the live action Disney remakes, generally they’ve felt rather average and not that impressive. However there were a few reasons I was slightly interested for Cruella. One was the cast, which included Emma Stone and Emma Thompson. There is also the fact that it’s an origin story for Cruella de Vil, which although potentially unnecessary, does mean that it’s probably going to do more than just be a repeat of the animated movie’s story beats. Also the trailers looked decent, and hinted at being more than just a replication of the animated movie. Cruella actually surprised me quite a bit and I liked it.

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Cruella was 2 hours and 14 minutes long, despite the fact that the movie is very fast paced, and I was entertained throughout. The plot is rather predictable and familiar (not necessarily in terms of it being a Disney movie), but nonetheless I was interested to see where it would go. Throughout when you’re watching the movie, you might be wondering how this version of Cruella de Vil is supposed to link up with the versions of Cruella de Vil that we are more familiar with. I get the feeling however that this is actually a reimagining of the character, and if that’s the case then I’m entirely on board with that. Even by the end, she’s more of an anti-hero than a full on villain. One way where the two versions of Cruella differ is with regard to the dogs, you don’t need to worry about seeing any puppy/dog killing because there’s none here. There’s even two dogs who are with Estalla/Cruella and the thieves she’s teamed up with, so it is definitely taking a different approach to the character. It is an origin story for Cruella de Vil, and while it does seem a bit unnecessary to bolt a tragic backstory and try to force it in, I was surprisingly rather engaged. One of the things that emerged online about the movie as soon as it came out was a particular moment involving dalmatians in the first 20 minutes, and yes it is rather ridiculous and forced. However it actually works alright in the movie itself, partly because of the tone. Throughout. it does have a rather campy tone, so some of the sillier aspects and issues seem to work alright here, including a flawed story and cheesy dialogue. I’m not certain that I’ve watched the original 101 Dalmatians movie but there were some moments that referred to that film, and they were quite on the nose. It was almost like the filmmakers were contractually obliged to include them. However there weren’t as many of those moments as I thought they would be, nor did they take away from the rest of the story. I feel like by it being an origin story, it actually had freedom to be its own movie (a crime comedy) rather than being restricted to just repeating story beats from a pre-existing film. For those interested, there’s a mid credits scene which hints towards a sequel.

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The cast were among the strongest parts of the movie. First of all is Emma Stone as Estella/Cruella de Vil, who turned out to be a surprisingly great casting choice. Stone humanises her and adds so much to the character, while giving a larger than life performance and is clearly having a great time in the role. Even if you don’t like the rest of the movie, I do think Cruella is worth watching for her alone. There’s also Emma Thompson as The Baroness, and her character does seem very similar to Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. However it actually sort of works for this movie, and Thompson is great as the film’s scene chewing and hateable villain. The back and forth between her and Stone is very enjoyable to watch. Also really good are Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser as the thieves that are teamed up with Estella/Cruella, and the three play off each other very well. Hauser particularly stands out, especially with his perfect line delivery and comedic timing.

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Cruella also benefits a lot from the energised direction of Craig Gillespie. Performances aside, the stylistic direction elevates the script immensely. The setting of 70s London is beautifully filmed with gorgeous cinematography and has well detailed set designs, it lends itself well to the fashion, music and grimy aesthetic. The wardrobe is fantastic as to be expected, the costumes are absolutely extravagant, and the visual style really showed them off well. The score from Nicholas Britell (who also composed Succession, Vice, Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk, The King and more) is amazing as to be expected from him, and really adds a lot to the film. The soundtrack has a great lineup of songs, even if many of them feel very on the nose and there are too many needle drop moments. On a technical level, really the only aspect that isn’t so great is the CGI, especially the effects used for the dogs.

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One could argue that Cruella is an unnecessary movie, and in a way it is. However I can’t deny that I was enjoying it throughout. The plot is not the best but did enough to have me actually interested to see how things would progress, it’s directed with a very distinct style, and the performances were all great, especially Emma Stone as the titular character. There’s a sequel in talks, and while I’m not sure how it would be possible, I’m not against it. Even if you aren’t such a big fan of the recent live action Disney remakes, I think Cruella is worth checking out.

Birdman (2014) Review

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, sexual references, offensive language & drug use
Cast:
Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson
Edward Norton as Mike Shiner
Zach Galifianakis as Jake
Andrea Riseborough as Laura Aulburn
Amy Ryan as Sylvia Thomson
Emma Stone as Sam Thomson
Naomi Watts as Lesley Truman
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life into his stagnant career. It’s risky, but he hopes that his creative gamble will prove that he’s a real artist and not just a washed-up movie star. As opening night approaches, a castmate is injured, forcing Riggan to hire an actor (Edward Norton) who is guaranteed to shake things up. Meanwhile, Riggan must deal with his girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), daughter (Emma Stone) and ex-wife (Amy Ryan).

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Best Picture winner Birdman was a movie that I really liked when I saw it, even though I didn’t regard it as a masterpiece like most people. Given that I was rewatching plenty of movies recently to see what I thought about them on a second viewing, I decided to rewatch Birdman, and I definitely got a lot more out of it on a second viewing. Masterfully directed, written well and acted well, Birdman is for sure a fantastic film experience.

Watching it a second time, I really noticed that Birdman was written incredibly well. There are plenty of references of Hollywood and has a lot to say about art, movies, the film industry and the like. Most movies about Hollywood that reference other movies and actors existing could easily fail at this but with Birdman they somehow they managed to do it in a way that doesn’t feel obnoxious. It’s an original and weird movie for sure, I mean this is a movie where the lead character can move objects with his mind and fly (or at least thinks he can). It’s a bit of a strange and dark comedy. It’s astounding how they managed to pack so much emotion and depth into 2 hours, and it had me entertained for that entire runtime. Talking about some of the best parts about this movie or explaining why they’re so great would involve spoiling a whole lot of what happened, and honestly it’s best if you go into it not knowing much already. The ending certainly is different, very ambiguous and it’s not going to work for everyone. You really have to interpret a lot of the movie (especially the ending) for yourself.

There is quite the large cast involved here, and they all gave some great performances. While everyone does very well here, it’s Michael Keaton who is the star of the show, really giving a career best performance. The casting choice is definitely meta, since the character is a washed up actor who once played a comic book character decades ago, and is played by Keaton who once played Batman of course. However it’s not just an inside joke, Keaton gives such a layered performance and really brought this character to life incredibly well. Edward Norton is great as a character that seems somewhat based off of his persona, a very talented but volatile method actor, among Norton’s best work for sure. Emma Stone is also great as Keaton’s daughter, giving one of her best performances. There is particularly one monologue with her which was one of the stand out scenes of the movie, and that’s saying a lot. The rest of the cast are all outstanding as well, some of which include Zach Galifianakis as Keaton’s lawyer and producer (in a more dramatic role that he hasn’t really done before), Andrea Riseborough as Keaton’s girlfriend and an actress, Naomi Watts as an actress, and Amy Ryan as Keaton’s ex-wife.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s direction of the whole movie is present throughout, and really added a ton to Birdman. Something that is really known was that this movie is made up of a bunch of long takes, making the movie look like it was done in one entire shot, it’s truly fantastic and creative the way they navigated the camera throughout all the spaces. There are parts where the camera goes black, and you can probably tell that one shot ended there and then another shot began, nonetheless the shots go on for so long that it’s nonetheless very impressive. Emmanuelle Lubezki’s cinematography as always is truly fantastic. The music is just a bunch of drums playing, occasionally at a seemingly random beat, and it kind of oddly works for this movie.

Birdman is arguably Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s best film yet, and I loved The Revenant. With his fantastic direction, the weird and original writing, and the great performances (especially from Michael Keaton), it really deserved all the awards recognition that it received. However, I can partially see why it wouldn’t necessarily work for everyone. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I can’t really set you up for it, but I personally recommend that you watch the movie, just going into it movie with an open mind.

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) Review

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Graphic violence, drug use, offensive language & sexual material
Cast:
Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee
Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus
Abigail Breslin as Little Rock
Emma Stone as Wichita
Rosario Dawson as Nevada
Zoey Deutch as Madison
Avan Jogia as Berkeley
Luke Wilson as Albuquerque
Thomas Middleditch as Flagstaff
Director: Ruben Fleischer

Zombie slayers Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) leave the confines of the White House to travel to Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. Along the way, they encounter other post-apocalyptic warriors and a group of survivors who find refuge in a commune. The scrappy fighters must now rely on their wits and weapons more than ever as they soon find themselves in a relentless battle against smarter, faster and seemingly indestructible zombies.

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Zombieland was such a surprise hit upon its release back in 2009, gaining quite the following. A follow up to the original Zombieland has been in development for some time, including a potential tv series, it just seemed like a sequel just wouldn’t happen. 10 years later however, the cast and crew finally return, including director Ruben Fleischer and the 4 main leads. The question was whether Double Tap could capture what the original was, given how long its been since the first movie. It’s more or less the same as the original, a fun zombie road trip comedy with a great cast that play off each other well.

Substance, Zombieland: Double Tap I guess is more of the same. The plot is really nothing special, Tallahassee, Columbus and Wichita just try to find Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), that’s pretty much the story of the movie. Then again what made the original movie work wasn’t the plot, it was the writing and how much fun it was. There’s certainly quite a lot of familiar aspects here, but they actually did a lot more than I thought they would in trying to keep things fresh. They do try to introduce some things, for example there are new zombie types instead of the regular zombies in the first movie. Double Tap is quite funny and entertaining across its hour and 40 minute runtime, all the things you love from the first movie are here. I guess there was one part of the movie where they tried to mislead the audience into thinking something happened, but the joke and twist was kind of obvious. Outside of that I don’t really have any major issues. Definitely stick around for the mid credits, it’s worth the wait for sure.

The main 4 leads return with Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, and are as usual good and share great chemistry together. It can be very jarring watching them and realising that it’s been 10 years since the first movie in the plot, as it appears that really only Abigail Breslin has aged at all. Woody Harrelson shined in the first movie and he’s also hilarious in the sequel. The weakest of the 4 is definitely Breslin, not that she’s bad but she’s really not given much to do. Despite the plot surrounding the other 3 finding her, she really doesn’t appear a lot in the movie. The supporting cast are also good in their roles. Zoey Deutch from the trailers looked like she’d get annoying really quickly, but she was the standout of the newer cast, providing the first time I’ve seen a ditzy Valley Girl stereotype actually work in a movie. She was genuinely funny and stole all of her scenes. In fact the only annoying part about her was this forced ‘love trianglish’ subplot between her, Eisenberg and Stone which really was not wanted at all. Other supporting actors like Rosario Dawson and Luke Wilson also worked well.

Ruben Fleischer returns to direct and he does well at making the sequel feel bigger. It’s certainly retains the same style from the first movie. The action scenes are well filmed and they’re on a much larger scale. The violence and gore is quite satisfying, and the makeup and effects on the zombies are good, but that’s to be expected.

Although I still feel that it would’ve been much better if it was made 5 years ago (it certainly would’ve had more hype and impact), I still had quite a lot of fun with Zombieland: Double Tap, mostly for the same reasons that I liked the original so much. If you are a fan of the original Zombieland, I’d find it hard to see why you wouldn’t get any sort of enjoyment out of the sequel. If you aren’t such a fan on the other hand, you won’t like the sequel any more.

Zombieland (2009) Review

Time: 86 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence and offensive language.
Cast:
Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee
Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus
Emma Stone as Wichita
Abigail Breslin as Little Rock
Director: Ruben Fleischer

After a virus turns most people into zombies, the world’s surviving humans remain locked in an ongoing battle against the hungry undead. Four survivors — Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and his cohorts Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) — abide by a list of survival rules and zombie-killing strategies as they make their way toward a rumored safe haven in Los Angeles.

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With Zombieland 2 coming later in 2019, I decided to re-watch the first movie. I watched Zombieland years ago and seeing it again more recently reminded me of how entertaining and well made it is for what it is. Director Ruben Fleischer and the cast all do a really good job at making Zombieland a really fun road trip zombie comedy.

Zombieland really is a straight up roadtrip comedy with zombies and for what it is, it’s really good. It gives you likable characters that you can follow and the plot is straightforward and simple enough. The plot is not particularly structured and is just the characters going from place to place and all of that works well. The movie doesn’t really take things too seriously, this is a comedy after all, and all the humour hits really hard. The movie is less than an hour and 30 minutes long and from start to finish its consistently entertaining.

The cast is mainly consisting of the main 4 leads, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin. Jesse Eisenberg is sort of the main character out of the 4, his character as you can expect is a nerdy and socially awkward, which is not usually one of the main characters that you’d expect leading a zombie movie, which makes it stand out more (especially as how he’s genuinally good at surviving with all his rules that he has in place and it actually works well). He does a lot of voiceovers and he does it in his typical Jesse Eisenberg fashion and it really worked. Woody Harrelson in this movie is… Woody Harrelson, and it really works. There’s a self awareness to his performance and character that I think makes his role here rank among some of his best. He’s really entertaining and hilarious, and he definitely steals the scene when he’s on screen. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin play sisters who later come across Jesse and Woody and they are good as well. The 4 all share great chemistry together and are one among the main parts of why the movie works so well, given that we are with them for the whole movie. Zombieland also contains one of the best cameos in a movie. If you somehow don’t know about it yet, I won’t spoil it.

This still is by far director Ruben Fleischer’s best movie, with Zombieland you can tell that he really has a good understanding of comedy and the zombie genre. Like with Shaun of the Dead (another zombie comedy), despite it being a big budget zombie comedy, they don’t hold back on the gore, it’s as gory as most zombie movies. The effects 10 years later are still top notch and still look pretty good, which was probably achieved through a mix of digital and practical effects along with some makeup, the zombies look like zombies. All the zombie killing is made really fun to watch, there are some really gratifying zombie death scenes. You aren’t really scared throughout any of the movie, even during the zombie attack scenes (unless you aren’t used to seeing any zombie movies), it’s bloody and gory more than anything (not that this was a failure by Fleischer). Zombieland is also really stylised and Fleischer from all this is shown to be great at visual comedy, it’s all edited and put together really well.

Zombieland still today works as a really fun and entertaining zombie comedy and from start to finish. If you haven’t seen Zombieland you really should get around to it, especially before the next movie. I still feel like you might be able to enjoy the movie if you’re not a big zombie fan, it’s not particularly scary, you just have to be okay with seeing a lot of zombies and gore (since its not really scary and is really comedic throughout). I just hope that 10 years later after the first movie, Zombieland 2 can be at the same level as the original.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Review

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Emma Stone as Gwendolyn “Gwen” Stacy
Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro
Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin
Colm Feore as Donald Menken
Felicity Jones as Felicia Hardy
Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino
Sally Field as Aunt May
Campbell Scott as Richard Parker
Embeth Davidtz as Mary Parker
Marton Csokas as Dr. Kafka
Director: Marc Webb

Confident in his powers as Spiderman, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) embraces his new role as a hero and spends time with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in between protecting New York from criminals. However, his greatest battle yet is about to begin. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront an enemy far more powerful than he is. And when his old friend Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan) returns, Peter comes to realise that all his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.

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I have been re-watching the Spider-Man movies in preparation for Spider-Man Homecoming in July. Over the course of these movies I’ve noticed that I’ve been generally liking the Spider-Man movies, I even consider Spider-Man 3 to be a solid movie despite the amount of hate its been getting. I remember when I first watched The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in theatres, I really liked it. Sure, I knew it had issues but I found it to be a decent and entertaining movie overall. I rewatched it recently for the first time in a few years and… it has far more issues than I picked up before. This movie is okay, and it does have some great elements. But a lot of it is mishandled. This movie is shockingly clunky and messy at times, and we are left with an incredibly frustrating and disappointing – if above average Spider-Man movie.

Not to say that there aren’t some great moments, but I won’t lie, this movie is a bit of a mess. Like Spider-Man 3, there is so much going on, too much going on. We’ve got Peter and Gwen’s romance, Peter discovering what happened with his father and Oscorp, Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) becoming Electro, Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan) trying to find a cure to his Goblin disease after inheriting it from his father, and it’s also trying to set up for future movies. Despite both Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2 having a whole lot going on in their movies, all the flaws in 3’s plotlines were clearly caused from Rami being forced to fit them all into one movie, the plotlines themselves were actually pretty good those issues aside. With Amazing Spider-Man 2, calling the plotlines hit or miss would be an understatement. If I had to describe this movie, I’d say it’s almost like Spider-Man 3, but done poorly. I’ll try to break down the issues with some of these plotlines. The plotline about Peter discovering what happened to his father and his ties to Oscorp was unnecessary, it leads to an completely predictable ‘plot twist’ that everyone saw coming, Oscorp is basially bad, which I’m certain everyone has already figured out before the movie even started. There wasn’t really a reason for the movie to have this subplot, it just sort of emerges around the middle of the movie randomly. Removing it from the movie would’ve allowed time to develop other plotlines (the plotline itself is done okay, it’s just feels unnecessary). The future movies setup feels forced and unnecessary. It introduces Felicia Hardy (Felicity Jones) to be Black Cat later in the franchise (which we never got to see) and there’s of course the failed attempt to setup the Sinister Six with Electro, Green Goblin and Rhino. Without giving anything away, there is a scene with Harry Osborn near the end of the movie which is done to set up the Sinister Six and it just sort of comes out of nowhere, there’s no explanation for why the group is being created in the first place. It also doesn’t help that the villains themselves in this movie weren’t given enough development. I’ll go into more depth with the other plotlines involving Peter and Gwen’s Romance, Max Dillon and Harry Osborn when I talk about the performances. But you can probably tell that I had issues with all of them. That’s not to say that these plotlines are all bad, they do have their moments and many of the ideas had a lot of potential. But they could’ve and should’ve been handled a lot better. Another thing worth mentioning is the tone. It’s like this movie didn’t know which tone to go with. At times it’s dark and emotional with these intense and emotional scenes, other times it is a romantic comedy with Peter and Gwen and other times its an incredibly cheesy action movie, with one-liners and over the top performances. And when I’m talking cheesy, I’m meaning like there is literally a random scene involving a generic evil German scientist (played by Marton Csokas), who likes to listen to classical music (this is in a scene with Electro), basically a cartoonish over the top mad scientist. It’s one of the most over the top cliché characters/moments in the film, and that’s saying a lot. Looking back at that scene, I guess it works in a cheesy way (like in the way that Spider-Man 1 was cheesy), but the issue is that other parts of the movie aren’t as cheesy, so it just comes across as stupid when it pops up. Say what you will about the cheesiness in Spider-Man 1 but at least it was consistent. As for the humour, some of it works, some of it really doesn’t. And again, sometimes the humour is out of place, just like other elements of the movie. The last act is incredibly rushed. The two villains are suddenly fighting Spider-Man and each only take up to 3-5 minutes to defeat, they have even less screentime than Venom in Spider-Man 3. There is a sudden dramatic turn in the third act and while it could’ve been handled better, it does partially work (if you’ve seen the movie you know exactly what scene I’m referring to). As for the actual ending of the movie… it was not that great of an ending, it felt forced and rushed. That’s all I’ll say about that.

The editing of the movies wasn’t that good either. The scene placements are frustrating, sometimes they didn’t fit. For example, there is an intense horror-like transformation scene which is immediately followed by a Peter and Gwen romantic scene, which is completely tonally off, such a confusingly out of place editing decision. Other times the editing decisions just straight up makes the movie worse. For example, Harry in one scene asks Spider-Man for his blood to help save his life, and Spider-Man refuses. In a later scene, Peter learns why he couldn’t give his blood to Harry, those two scenes should’ve been swapped around, because otherwise Peter just seems like a terrible friend. I have no idea if it was written that way or if was changed through editing, but either way, the way the film presented these events didn’t work the best. It’s worth noting that many of these scenes are fine if you watch them on their own, but seeing them in the movie itself really decreases their quality. The first Amazing Spider-Man did lack some scenes (which would’ve really made the villain stronger had they been included) but it didn’t feel like a ton of footage was missing. However, with the sequel it is incredibly obvious that tons of scenes were cut. And it’s even more astonishing when you actually see some of the scenes that were cut. Simple scenes that explains aspects of the movie and develops some of the characters a little more, all of this should’ve been included and keep in mind that some of the footage didn’t even make it onto home video, there’s probably even more footage that was cut which would’ve made the movie better. On another note, the alternate ending is a lot better than the original ending. It’s very different and surprising but the original ending feels forced and not really earned (not to mention Paul Giamatti’s Rhino makes the ending even worse). The alternate ending is a lot quieter and emotional, and was overall the more impactful ending. I guess Sony just wanted to set up the Sinister Six and saw that as more important than the actual better ending for the film.

Andrew Garfield returns as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and he is still my favourite Spider-Man. With that said I had some issues with Peter/Spider-Man here, none of which is on Garfield, he absolutely commits to the part. My biggest issue with his Spider-Man is that he’s involved with so many plotlines at once in this movie and none of them worked together well enough for him to have a consistent arc. Spider-Man 3 made that work by tying the black symbiote suit with the storylines of Sandman and Harry, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn’t give Peter a consistent arc however. So Peter did feel like a weak character unfortunately, he was at his best in the Richard Parker/Oscorp storyline, which ironically is one of the subplots that was pointless. Emma Stone is again great as Gwen Stacy. The issue with their romance subplot isn’t the actors, Garfield and Stone are effortlessly watchable and lovable together. The issue is that its jumbled with all these other plotlines that it wasn’t handled the best, so throughout all the other plotlines, it would just randomly cut to the two of them for no reason. Now with that said, there is stuff going on with the two of them, with Gwen moving to England and this affects their relationship, there was a lot of potential for this subplot. However it wasn’t balanced well in the movie. Still, it doesn’t change that fact that Peter and Gwen are one of the best romances in superhero movies, there’s no denying that. Watching the two of them talk and interact is endlessly entertaining, and you do actually care about them, which is why a certain scene with them in the third act really works, despite how out of place it is (no spoilers).

In this movie, we’ve got Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro and Dane Dehaan as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin as the main villains. First, let’s talk about Jamie Foxx. You have to give Foxx credit, because some of the things he has to do and say is kind of embarrassing, and Jamie threw himself completely into the role. Max Dillon isn’t given enough development and becomes a generic villain after he becomes Electro. I do like the initial idea of his character. Before turning into Electro, Max Dillon is a bit of a loner and an awkward guy, no one really likes him, he doesn’t get any respect. He believes that Spider-Man is his friend after one encounter (however he does play up the role way too much, its like he’s playing a cartoon character). If you’re thinking that it sounds familiar, that’s because that’s pretty much Riddler’s origin in Batman Forever. Cheesy dialogue and familiar scenarios aside, the major reason about why Electro doesn’t work is after the first action scene with Spider-Man. After the fight ends in an embarrassingly simple way, Electro is out of commission until he’s suddenly brought back for the climax for 5 minutes. There is no development of Electro after his villainous turn, so at that point there’s not much to like or care about him except for the nice visuals. So Foxx is wasted and misued in the role. It doesn’t help that his dialogue is cliché and silly with such classic lines like “It’s my birthday, time to blow out my candles” and “Don’t you know, I’m Electro”. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good things about him, the action with him is great, I love his look, and his voice is perfect. Electro isn’t a terrible villain but he’s not that good of a villain either. Now onto Dehaan. Out of the supporting actors he comes out with the best performance. Despite the material he was given, Dane fully commits to his part and really gives a great performance. There wasn’t anything embarrassingly bad about Harry/Goblin, but Dehaan was not given the best writing/material to work with. Harry’s friendship with Peter was fine but wasn’t very strong, not enough time is given to developing that relationship (probably because of all the other plotlines in the movie), so that aspect was just passable at best. As previously mentioned, one plotline focussed on Harry Osborn is that he learns that his father (Norman Osborn) is suffering from a form of Goblin’s disease, and that it’s genetic, so Harry has that disease too. While this plotline does have its strong points and has a lot of potential, it is handled poorly. For example, even though Norman only began to feel the effects of the disease later in his life, Harry is already experiencing it when he’s in his 20s, which is just straight up lazy writing. So how is he as the Green Goblin? In the last act he really only poses as a direct villain to Spider-Man for less than 5 minutes, even Electro got more time. A few minutes isn’t enough time for him to be a villain. Still, a lot of things do really work about him, I actually really liked Dehaan’s version of Green Goblin, but again, he needed a lot more screentime.

Despite the issues that the above supporting actors had, there are other supporting actors who had even worse treatment. Some of them were meant to star in future movies but as Sony cancelled the future movies, they now just seem out of place. Felicity Jones plays Felicia Hardy, who was meant to become Black Cat in the sequel. Jones is a great actress, and she is fine in the movie but she’s like in 2 scenes and doesn’t get to do anything. Whereas Jones is fine but forgettable, Paul Giamatti is memorable but cringeworthy and incredibly over the top. He plays the Rhino, and he was put in this movie to set him up for future movies. He’s a very minor villain (only posing a minor threat at the beginning and end of the movie) but somehow ends up being one of the most embarrassing villains I’ve seen in a blockbuster. Despite them feeling out of place, at least they were meant to return for future movies, Chris Cooper wasn’t so lucky. Cooper plays Norman Osborn and before you get excited, don’t. He’s in one scene and doesn’t return to the movie after that. Such a complete wasted opportunity, Cooper was honestly perfect for the role. I guess the only supporting character who served her purpose without being wasted was Sally Fields as Aunt May.

I love the look of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This movie is visually stunning, especially with the colours, Electro’s blue lightning, Spider-Man’s red suit, Green Goblin’s green glowing glider, its just stunning to watch. A lot of the scenes are filmed greatly, like an aforementioned transformation scene. This movie doesn’t have a lot of action but it is really good when it actually happens. The action itself is fast-paced like the first movie. If there’s one problem with the action that I have, its that this movie can feel a little too CGI, like we are watching a video game cutscene as opposed to an action sequence from an actual movie. Spider-Man’s suit design has changed from the first movie, now it’s closer to a comic book Spider-Man costume. It works but it’s not my favourite look. Maybe because he looks a lot more CGI and its kind of distracting. I know people really didn’t like the designs of the villains but I liked most of them. Electro’s design in the comics looks honestly silly and wouldn’t adapt well into live-action. So his design with the blue look was great, no problems there. I also liked the look of Green Goblin, it made sense given his origin, and he looked creepy and scary, no issues with his look either. As for the Rhino… yeah, I don’t really liked what they did with the character and the same goes with the costume. I know some people have criticised the soundtrack but I liked it, the Electro and Goblin themes are my favourites. Though the use of modern pop songs did really annoy me sometimes. I will say something about this movie, a lot of people had said that the Amazing Spider-Man movies were more Sony’s films than Marc Webb’s. While I’ll disagree about the first film, the second film I completely agree. There’s a constant feeling that there’s something off, it feels like a studio created the scenes, it lacks a consistent directional style. Then again, that might have something to do with the editing.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is by far the worst Spider-Man movie yet. The film tries to have so many plotlines and set up so much but most of the time it failed to deliver. All the plotlines have their flaws and some of them feel out of place in the movie. It is really all over the place. With that said, I wouldn’t call it a bad movie, just a very disappointing one. It had a great cast and most of them get their moments, the action sequences are beautiful and entertaining but aren’t shown often enough. It had so much potential but even if some of it resulted in some great moments, most of the potential was wasted. I know a lot of people absolutely hate The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and despite everything that I’ve said, it’s not bad, I still partially like it. It’s okay overall, just very disappointing to watch.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence
Cast:
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard
Emma Stone as Gwendolyn “Gwen” Stacy
Denis Leary as Captain George Stacy
Martin Sheen as Benjamin Parker
Sally Field as “Aunt” May Parker
Irrfan Khan as Dr. Rajit Ratha
Director: Marc Webb

Abandoned by his parents and raised by an aunt and uncle, teenager Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), AKA Spider-Man, is trying to sort out who he is and exactly what his feelings are for his first crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). When Peter finds a mysterious briefcase that was his father’s, he pursues a quest to solve his parents’ disappearance. His search takes him to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), setting him on a collision course with Connors’ alter ego, the Lizard.

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5 years after Rami’s Spider-Man trilogy concluded with Spider-Man 3, Sony decided to reboot the franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man. This series (if you call 2 movies a series) has been receiving a lot of mixed reactions. I personally find The Amazing Spider-Man to be an underrated film. It has a great story, really good acting and really solid direction from Marc Webb. The only thing holding this movie back is the villain but aside from that, that’s it. I honestly don’t get why this movie is criticised so much.

This movie does tell the origin of Spider-Man and it is similar but different from the first movie. This film does have some usual moments with Peter being bitten by a spider, getting his powers, his uncle being shot and Peter becoming Spider-Man. The original Spider-Man seemed to present the story like a comic book whereas The Amazing Spider-Man does it more like a movie. Personally I liked how it told its story here. I also like how it showed Peter discovering his powers, there’s quite a lot of time dedicated to this. The pacing is pretty steady, never too fast, never too slow. On top of that, it does have more going on than in the original Spider-Man but it’s still quite easy to follow. From start to finish I was riveted and entertained by the film. Although it doesn’t feel like it, there are some scenes missing, which really hold the film back from being the best it possibly can in one aspect (I’ll get into it later). But asides from that aspect, I don’t have that many complaints about The Amazing Spider-Man.

Andrew Garfield is the 2nd actor to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man and this is a very different interpretation from Tobey Maguire’s. While a lot of people didn’t like that this version of Spider-Man was a lot more edgy, I liked that. Maguire’s version, as much as I love it, doesn’t exactly work for our time nowadays. Andrew’s however fits perfectly in the 2010s. He’s a genius with a bit of a quirky, eccentric and fast paced demeanour. And the thing is that I can perfectly see a character like that dressing up like a spider and fighting crime. While I personally Andrew’s Spider-Man more, obviously there are plenty of others who prefer Tobey’s, I guess it depends on what you prefer to see in Spider-Man. Honestly the only negative thing that I’ll say about Garfield’s Spider-Man here is that he is clearly too old for the role, he does not look like a teenager in high school at all and that can be very distracting at times. But that’s really it. Emma Stone is Gwen Stacy, who’s the love interest of the movie, but honestly just saying the love interest would be a disservice to her character. She is a well done character on her own, she’s not just a superhero’s girlfriend who’s only existence is to be saved. But on top of that, Garfield and Stone have excellent chemistry, it is very believable (though a big part of that is probably that they were both dating at the time, so the chemistry would be easy for them). Honestly its one of the best relationships in a comic book movie(s) (with this and Amazing Spider-Man 2). The supporting cast was also quite good with Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan and many others, most of them get a good chance to shine.

The villain is Curt Connors/The Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans. I have mixed feelings on him. Ifans is well cast in the role and he is good when he’s on screen, he does the best he possibly can. Connors is given a lot of good setup, with him knowing Peter’s father, and his desire to get a cure which would fix his physical impairment (a missing arm), I’d even say that the setup is perfect. However the payoff with him becoming The Lizard is just slightly above average. After the first transformation, The Lizard becomes a rather generic villain who becomes motivated to do his plan…. Because he feels like it. He’s not bad and he does have some good moments, but he definitely felt very weak. However its worth noting that he had many of his scenes removed, and these scenes at the very least made him stronger as a character. And these scenes could’ve easily been put into the film. But Sony does what Sony often does, and cut these scenes out. Watch the movie and directly afterwards watch the deleted scenes, you’ll be shocked at what they cut out.

The Amazing Spider-Man series does make use of the advanced technology. The action scenes are fast and intense, everything that I think most of us would want to see in a modern day Spider-Man movie. The CGI doesn’t look fake at any point (except for maybe the Lizard, and even then it’s more an issue with the design). It is a nice looking movie, especially when Spider-Man is in action, seeing him swing around really is something great. While it’s an unpopular opinion to have, I really dig the Spider-Man suit in this movie. It seems like the type of costume that this version of Peter Parker would wear and use as Spider-Man. It’s a very unique look and I would’ve loved to have seen that suit return for the sequel. The music by James Horner was really great.

The Amazing Spider-Man is honestly quite an underrated superhero movie. It has most of the elements of a great superhero movie, with a well written and acted superhero lead, a riveting and entertaining story and great action. The only problem I can find with it is the villain, and even then he’s not horrible, he’s just okay and feels weak in comparison to a lot of the other elements. Come to think of it, The Amazing Spider-Man is probably the second best Spider-Man, only behind Spider-Man 2 (very unpopular opinion, I know). But it’s honestly not that far off. Marc Webb has done a great job with Spider-Man.

La La Land (2016) Review

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Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Ryan Gosling as Sebastian Wilder
Emma Stone as Mia Dolan
John Legend as Keith
Rosemarie DeWitt as Laura Wilder
Director: Damien Chazelle

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) are drawn together by their common desire to do what they love. But as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.

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I didn’t know what to expect from this movie. I like some musicals but I wasn’t like a massive fan of them. However, this movie had Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and was directed by Damian Chazelle, who directed Whiplash, my favourite movie of 2014. Both the talent involved as well as the critical acclaim got me to watch the movie. However, I was not prepared for how much I would love this movie. Everything in this movie is top notch, the acting, directing, cinematography, music, everything is excellent about this movie. This is such an incredible film.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) in LA LA LAND.

Basically, the movie follows Sebastian and Mia, their romance and their stories as Sebastian tries to be a Jazz musician and Mia tries to be an actress. They are clearly passionate about these things and its very easy to get caught up in that. I found it very compelling to see them try to achieve their dreams and the things they go through (without spoiling anything). It’s also very easy to buy the romance, it’s handled very well. I will also say that La La Land is one of the best romance movies in a while. Now this movie is a musical and before you wonder, no, it’s not singing all the way through the movie. There are plenty of musical sections and while they are great (which I’ll get into later), the film overall is a perfect blend of musical and story. Also, the ending of the film, I wasn’t quite expecting it but worked very well for the movie.

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The movie is really focussed on Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and they are absolutely fantastic in this movie. I said earlier how it’s easy to buy their relationship and a large part of that is because their chemistry was perfect. It was just so fun and easy to watch these two interact. They perfectly conveyed their characters and their passions. Also, their singing and dancing in this film was excellent.

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The direction of this movie is absolutely perfect, which really is no surprise as Damian Chazelle directed this movie. With Whiplash and now La La Land, he’s proven that he really knows how to incorporate music into movies. A notable aspect of the film is that the cinematography is so beautiful. A lot of the scenes, especially the musical sequences are made to look like they were done in one shot, which is very impressive, it must not have been easy to do that. The choreography and dancing was also perfect, as was the music. The transition to the musical sections are also done well, it never felt abrupt or out of place. They transitioned seamlessly into the scenes. This movie is overall one of the best directed films of the year.

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La La Land is unexpectedly one of my favourite films of the year and one of my favourite experiences in the cinema this year. I don’t really have any problems with the movie. It’s one of the best directed films of the year and I think it’s one of the best musicals ever made. I slightly love Whiplash more than La La Land but it’s really close. La La Land is such an excellent movie. Even if you don’t like musicals I strongly recommend checking it out when you can, I think you’ll be surprised. I can’t wait to see more films from Damian Chazelle.