Tag Archives: James Franco

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Tim Blake Nelson as Buster Scruggs
Willie Watson as The Kid
David Krumholtz as Frenchman in Saloon
E. E. Bell as Saloon Piano Player
Tom Proctor as Cantina Bad Man
Clancy Brown as Çurly Joe

Near Algodones
James Franco as Cowboy
Stephen Root as Teller
Ralph Ineson as The Man in Black
Jesse Luken as Drover

Meal Ticket
Liam Neeson as Impresario
Harry Melling as Artist (Harrison)

All Gold Canyon
Tom Waits as Prospector
Sam Dillon as Young Man

The Gal Who Got Rattled
Zoe Kazan as Alice Longabaugh
Bill Heck as Billy Knapp
Grainger Hines as Mr. Arthur
Jackamoe Buzzell as Boarder #3
Jefferson Mays as Gilbert Longabaugh
Ethan Dubin as Matt

The Mortal Remains
Tyne Daly as Lady (Mrs. Betjeman)
Brendan Gleeson as Irishman (Clarence)
Jonjo O’Neill as Englishman (Thigpen)
Saul Rubinek as Frenchman (René)
Chelcie Ross as Trapper
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

An anthology film comprised of six stories, each dealing with a different aspect of life in the Old West.

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The Coen Brothers have done some good movies in the past but I can never tell how much I’ll like their movies. Hail Caesar wasn’t particularly liked loved a lot of people but I really liked it, whereas their beloved movies Fargo and Inside Llewyn Davis I liked but didn’t love, not to mention I didn’t like their comedy ‘classic’ Raising Arizona at all. This isn’t the first Western movie that they have done, with No Country for Old Men and True Grit showing that they are great with the genre, but it is the first anthology movie that they’ve done. It’s such a weird idea for them and I really didn’t know what to expect. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a odd mix of western stories written and directed by The Coen Brothers that range from okay to actually pretty good. I’m glad I watched it but it’s far from the filmmaking duo’s best.

Now the movie is split into 6 different chapters and it’s just impossible for me to talk about the movie on a whole without talking about them individually. Therefore, I’ll separate my review by the individual chapters. The first chapter is The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. It’s about Buster Scruggs (Tim Blake Nelson), a cheerful outlaw and singer who comes across other outlaws and hilarity and chaos insures. So much of this chapter is cartoonish and over the top, I was entertained by it but I was expecting much more. Really the highlight of this chapter was the titular character of Buster Scruggs played by Tim Blake Nelson. He’s so over the top and full of energy that it’s fun to watch him, he’s almost like a cartoon character put into live action. While all of the chapters were directed well, this was particularly well directed and put together. Though it was fun, by the end it just comes across as a fun skit written and directed by The Coen Brothers rather than them actually making part of a movie. I’m not exactly sure why they decided to name the whole movie after this chapter, it’s way shorter than I thought it would be and was just sort of funny and that’s it. While I had fun with this chapter, it did make me nervous about the rest of the movie, and whether it would be just fun western skits for the entirety of the movie. Know that despite what I said, I actually had a lot of fun with it and it’s really good. I just wish that it was longer and had more of a purpose.

The second chapter is titled Near Algodones and stars James Franco as a cowboy who tries to perform a robbery. The best thing I can say about it indicates at least that each chapter of this movie will have a different tone and story, it’s not cartoonishly goofy as Buster Scruggs and is a little more serious, yet it has some effective dark comedy and James Franco is also good in a role that we don’t usually see him in. Again though, it feels so incredibly short, around the length of Buster Scruggs and probably even shorter. The whole movie is 2 hours and 10 minutes long yet they couldn’t seem to make each of them at least 20 minutes long. The found footage anthology movie V/H/S seemed to have longer segments. However, it’s not just that it’s short, while Buster Scruggs can get by with it being a goofy comedic skit, Near Algodones is a more serious story, and so doesn’t have that to fall back on. While it wasn’t bad by any means, there wasn’t really anything particularly interesting or even that entertaining about this chapter, outside of some slightly humorous moments. Having watched this segment, I had even more worries about how the overall movie would be.

The third chapter is titled Meal Ticket, starring Liam Neeson as an travelling impresario with an armless and legless artist played by Harry Melling. Again, significantly different tone and type of story and it was such a weird choice of story to make in the western setting, especially in contrast to the previous two stories. However, it’s from this point that things started to look up for the overall movie. It didn’t really have any comedy whatsoever, thankfully though it is done much better than Near Algodones. It’s about as long as the Buster Scruggs segment yet we actually get to learn more about the characters and their situations. Both Neeson and Melling are also great in their roles and their subtle performances made the chapter even better. This story isn’t what you’d typically think of when it comes to western stories but it really works for this movie. It’s a lot more atmospheric and darker from the others, also with a rather bleak ending which fits right along with The Coen Brothers’ other dark endings, all around Meal Ticket was pretty decent.

The fourth chapter is titled All Gold Canyon and is about Tom Waits as a prospector who arrives in a mountain valley and decides to dig for gold, again, very different kind of story compared to the others. Something that’s immediately different is the setting. The first two segments were very desert-western based, and the third mostly took place at towns in night. The fourth chapter however takes place in a beautiful and green field, making it by far the most visually stunning of all the segments. It’s longer than the previous segments and is the easiest to watch of all the segments. It’s really just Tom Waits in the story in terms of characters, and he carries it very well. Overall one of the better chapters of the movie.

The fifth chapter is titled The Gal Who Got Rattled, which is about a woman (Zoe Kazan) and her brother (Jefferson Mays), who are traveling in a wagon train towards Oregon. Now I heard from some people how the movie falls apart from this segment as well as the 6th chapter. It doesn’t feel like a typical Coen Brothers’ movie, both in concept and in terms of writing and dialogue. It is also the longest of the 6 segments, and is more drawn out with a slower pace, which feels really jarring compared to the prior segments which moved rather fast. I will say that it does feel like the most well rounded of the stories. Most of the other chapters feel like either brief snapshots of what the stories as full complete movies could be, or random skits. The Gal Who Got Rattled on the other hand actually works as a short film on its own, with characters effectively fleshed out. You could probably even see the segment turned into a full length movie. The actors all did a great job with their performances particularly Zoe Kazan, Bill Heck and Grainger Hines. Although it’s very out of place compared to the other chapters, The Gal Who Got Rattled is at the very least one of the better segments.

The sixth chapter is titled The Mortal Remains, and is about five people who ride in a stagecoach together to Fort Morgan. It feels like such a weird story to end the movie. Admittedly while I was on board with every chapter leading up to this, when it got to this one I sort of switched off. After the 30+ minute long segment of The Gal Who Got Rattled which was on such a large scale, it felt like an alright place for the movie to stop. However it was immediately followed by 5 people just talking, and through a lot of it, I just didn’t care what was going on, at least before the halfway point. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good moments to it though, after the halfway point it does pick up quite a bit, also Jonjo O’Neil, Brendan Gleeson, Saul Rubinek, Tyne Daly and Chelcie Ross were quite good in their roles. However it still is one of the weaker of the stories.

To summarise: whether you like The Ballad of Buster Scruggs or not, there’s no arguing that it really feels like a Coen Brothers movie… well there are at least plenty of glimpses of it. A lot of the direction and writing, especially the dialogue and dark comedy feels quite a bit like The Coen Brothers’ work. I can see some of these segments working as entire full length stories. Since they titled the movie after the first chapter, I couldn’t see why they didn’t just make the whole movie about that. And if The Coen Brothers’ were committed to doing a bunch of short stories, it might’ve been better if they just made it a mini series, 6 episodes with each episode ranging from 40 minutes to an hour. They don’t really have any connections to each other whatsoever, and each of the stories don’t really seem to serve any point except to every time come to the conclusion that it was rough living in the Wild West. That’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of good things to this movie. It is visually stunning throughout all the segments and are directed well, and the actors do great jobs, particularly Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan and Bill Heck.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a bit of a mixed bag, while all the chapters are well directed and acted, much of the segments are way too short and aren’t interesting enough and as mentioned above aren’t as great as you’d hope given who worked on them. If you’re a fan of The Coen Brothers, I’d say definitely check it out, it’s on Netflix and will just be 2 hours and 10 minutes of your time. As for the rest of you, I’m not entirely sure I can recommend it. Despite my thoughts on some of the segments and the overall movie, I will praise the Coen Brothers for at least trying something different. It is one of their weakest movies though.

The Disaster Artist (2017) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast
James Franco as Tommy Wiseau
Dave Franco as Greg Sestero
Seth Rogen as Sandy Schklair
Alison Brie as Amber
Ari Graynor as Juliette Danielle
Josh Hutcherson as Philip Haldiman
Jacki Weaver as Carolyn Minnott
Zac Efron as Dan Janjigian
Director: James Franco

Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) become friends after meeting each other in an acting class in San Francisco. Hoping to achieve Hollywood stardom, Sestero moves to Los Angeles and signs on to appear in his buddy’s project. Financed with his own money, Wiseau writes, directs and stars in “The Room,” a critically maligned movie that becomes a cult classic.

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The Disaster Artist is one of my most anticipated films of all time. The Room has become a uniquely iconic film that I love for the same reason that many other people love it, because of how bizarrely and hilariously bad it is. I read the book about the behind the scenes of The Room titled The Disaster Artist (written by Greg Sestero) and I was immediately hyped when I saw that they were going to adapt it to the big screen. With James Franco (who both stars and directs), Dave Franco, Seth Rogen and more involved, I couldn’t help but be excited. The Disaster Artist was so great, it was pretty much everything I wanted it to be.

I will admit that it’s been years since I’ve actually read The Disaster Artist so I can’t remember exactly if everything in the movie is accurate to the book but I do think that at least most of it is right. One thing I loved is how this movie wasn’t just a piss take of The Room, it could’ve easily become that. You can tell that everyone who worked on this movie loved The Room and wanted to bring he story behind all that to the big screen. And they really achieved that. Don’t expect this to be just a story about The Room. This film almost feels like its in two parts, one is Tommy and Greg as friends trying to get into Hollywood and then the other is the filming of The Room. There was a good balance of drama and comedy overall, the movie is hilarious (it’ll be particularly funny for fans of The Room) but it also allows you to be invested in this story.

One question that immediately is asked by many when it comes to The Disaster Artist is whether you necessarily needed to have watched The Room beforehand. I’ll say this: you can watch The Disaster Artist without watching The Room but you won’t get the full experience, at the very least try to learn about it and/or watch some clips from it. Fans of The Room will love it, and the best part is that it doesn’t ruin the experience of The Room, it’s a great accompany piece and if anything it makes it even better and helps you appreciate it more. The story of The Disaster Artist is quite inspiring, Tommy Wiseau set out with a dream and ultimately fulfilled that dream. It may have not been exactly what he wanted or expected but he made it in the end. And I think that was shown greatly. Make sure to wait for the post credits scene.

James Franco is absolutely fantastic as Tommy Wiseau. To be honest, the portrayal and performance of Tommy was something I was worried about going in. Franco is a good actor but I’d doubt the performance of any actor cast as Tommy because it can’t just be an impression, he needs to full embody Wiseau as a person (and I read The Disaster Artist, so I knew about some of the things that happened). And he did that. You do not see James Franco, you see Tommy Wiseau. He also portrays Tommy as a real person, it shows his weirdness and doesn’t shy away from how troublesome he was during the shooting of The Room, much of which consists with his very bizarre filmmaking decisions. But it also allows you to really see him as a human being trying to fulfil his dream. Both aspects are balanced well. It poses questions about him that everyone to this day is asking (like how old is he, where was he born and where does he get his seemingly endless supply of money) but it never answers them, still keeping the mystery of Tommy Wiseau. Dave Franco shouldn’t be overlooked either, this is probably the best performance I’ve seen from him. Despite the two being brothers, you quickly forget that, the two share such great chemistry and feel like best friends. There are also a lot of good actors in supporting roles with Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver and Zac Efron, and they are all great here. I do wish that we got a little more of the supporting cast, especially those who played the people who worked on The Room. They are great in their screentime though. There are also some really enjoyable cameos that I won’t spoil.

This film is directed quite well by James Franco. The recreations of The Room were done very well, it is surprising how much attention to detail they had, if you are a fan of The Room you will appreciate these parts a lot. Also the makeup on James Franco was great, making him look as much like Tommy Wiseau as possible without being too over the top.

I had high expectations of The Disaster Artist and it absolutely delivered. The performances were fantastic (from both Francos particularly), the story is great, it is entertaining and for fans of The Room such as myself, it is an absolute must see. Honestly it is a bit of an inspiring movie as well, an very unconventionally inspirational movie. The Disaster Artist is one of my favourite movies of the year and I couldn’t be happier to say that.

Spider-Man 3 (2007) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence
Cast:
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
James Franco as Harry Osborn/New Goblin
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman
Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom
Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
James Cromwell as George Stacy
Director: Sam Rami

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and M.J. (Kirsten Dunst) seem to finally be on the right track in their complicated relationship, but trouble looms for the superhero and his lover. Peter’s Spider-Man suit turns black and takes control of him, not only giving Peter enhanced power but also bringing out the dark side of his personality. Peter must overcome the suit’s influence as two supervillains, Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace), rise up to destroy him and all those he holds dear.

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Spider-Man 3 unlike it’s previous entries has received a lot of negativity from critics and fans alike. I’m part of the minority of people who really like this movie. I liked the story, the acting, and Sam Rami’s direction, just like with the previous Spider-Man movies. But of course I’m not going to act like it doesn’t have a lot of problems, there is way too much in this movie, which ultimately holds back the movie from being as great as it could be. Despite this, many aspects of the plot itself are great, and it’s a solid movie overall.

Tonally, this is the most serious of the Rami Spider-Man movies, and with Peter going through different stages of his life throughout these movies, it did feel appropriate. There are some moments of humour though, some of them worked, others… not so much. This movie is around 2 hours 20 minutes long, I was never really bored throughout but I definitely felt the running time, which is ironic since this movie might’ve actually needed more time. Ultimately the biggest problem with Spider-Man 3 is that there is way too much going on. There’s Peter and Mary Jane’s romance, Sandman’s story which ties into Peter, the symbiote black suit that Peter comes in contact with and changes him, there’s Harry and Peter’s story, there is so much going on. If you want to know what went wrong, Sony basically forced Sam Rami to put the character of Venom into the movie, which is an incredible major plotline as it meant having a segment of Peter wearing the suit and also Venom being created, and there’s already so many plotlines in the movie. If Spider-Man 3 just had Mary Jane and Peter’s romance, Sandman’s story and Harry’s story, that would’ve been enough. But because of the amount of stories going on, the handling of the plotlines at times can be clumsy and poor. There are some really bad plot decisions made in the handling of the stories sometimes, for example early in the movie there’s a fight between Peter and Harry which results in Harry losing his memory, basically putting his revenge storyline on hold or about an hour, while all the other plots and subplots continue. It feels lazy and almost like a slap in the face after the buildup for this story in 2, here it almost feels like an afterthought of a subplot. There are two moments of conflict between Peter and Harry which are done very well, which shows hints of what could’ve been had that aspect been handled a lot better.

Another point of criticism is that this movie has 3 villains and while I like each of these villains, yet again, the film felt overstuffed with them. It’s like all these plotlines and villains are taking turns to have the spotlight, first its Harry, then it’s Sandman, then it’s Harry again, then it’s Venom and Sandman, it’s very jarring when it just keeps switching plotlines when the former plotlines are like put into hibernation or something. Speaking of Venom, an infamous part of the movie is how it handled the black suit plotline. Sometimes the black suit plotline really worked, like when it ties into Sandman. However it generally doesn’t reach its full potential. The film does partially take this in a more comedic direction. For example, after wearing the suit for a long period of time, Peter becomes ‘Emo Peter’, culminating in him acting all ‘edgy’ and ‘badass’ and ‘cool’, a lot of this is done for comedy. For example there are a couple of over the top scenes, one is a montage (set to the tune of ‘People get up and Drive your Funky Soul’ by James Brown), which despite it’s over the top nature I enjoyed because it is probably what would happen if a nerd like Peter grew an ego and thought he was cool. The other is full on dance routine in a Jazz Club, which is quite possibly the worst Spider-Man scene ever filmed. So obviously, mixed results. Not to say that I didn’t like it but the black suit arc really could’ve been done better. The last act, while enjoyable, is pretty rushed. Even the couple of very brief scenes after the climax seems to end incredibly quickly. Honestly while I liked all these plotlines, they definitely feel like they didn’t meet their potential, due to all of them crammed into one movie. I know I probably came across that I hated them, but the truth is that they could’ve been done a lot better.

Tobey Maguire once again is Peter Parker/Spider-Man and once again he is really good. I will say that I found myself not liking Peter early in the movie (even before he gets the black suit), especially when it came to Mary Jane, but I felt that was intentional (possibly because he was gaining a bit of an ego as Spider-Man) however that really didn’t get explored because of all the other plotlines. Now as for those 20 minutes where Peter is ‘Emo Peter’, even if you hate what was done with him, you gotta give credit to Maguire for throwing himself into what he was told to do, literally dancing in the streets with absolutely no shame at all. I even started to like Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. The romance aspect, while not exactly good, is done a lot better than in the previous movies. Mary Jane isn’t used as a ‘superhero girlfriend’ like she was in the first two movies (she only needs saving once in the entire movie), here they actually start to somewhat develop her. But the romance can be a bit frustrating, not for any cheesiness but because Peter and Mary Jane do make some bad decisions in their relationship, so the romance isn’t that good. James Franco is once again good as Harry Osborn. Unfortunately for him, after a few scenes early in the movie, once Harry loses his memory he doesn’t get much to do until like the second half of the movie. Thomas Haden Church is Flint Marko/Sandman, who is for me a very underrated comic book movie villain. Like Doc Ock, he is a lot deeper and sympathetic as a character, with Marko trying to help his dying daughter. He’s also a lot more consistent with his actions, there’s no moments where he’s gleefully committing evil deeds just for the fun of it (which Doc Ock occasionally did in Spider-Man 2). Out of the three villains I felt that he was used the best. However I will say that some aspects of the resolution of his story (particularly his last scene) did feel open and not fully concluded.

Topher Grace is Eddie Brock/Venom and I’m not quite sure how to feel about him. While his human form Eddie Brock is given motivations which work okay, he’s not that compelling as a character, nor does he have enough screentime. I think the biggest problem with Venom is that Brock wasn’t that interesting or deep of a character before he turned into Venom. Also once again, Rami didn’t even want Venom in the movie, so he does feel a little out of place and is probably why we don’t get a whole lot of time with him. At the very least though, Grace acted the Eddie Brock role fine and seemed to be having a great time playing Venom, I don’t think any of the issues of the character are on him. The other supporting cast are pretty good with Rosemary Harris, James Cromwell and others. J.K. Simmons once again returns as J. Jonah Jameson, very enjoyable and entertaining as always. One role that did feel out of place was Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), Bryce was fine in the role but Stacy didn’t really have much point to be there in the film (and she is a big deal in the comics). And I thought I’d mention, Bruce Campbell has the best cameo in the entire Spider-Man trilogy, he deserves a mention because he’s Bruce Campbell. And he’s awesome.

The quality of the CGI in Spider-Man 3 is around the level of Spider-Man 2. There is some noticeable green screen and fake CGI at times, but then again Spider-Man 2 did have some moments of fake CGI, so I will overlook it (not to mention Spider-Man 3 was made a decade ago). I will say that the CGI slightly worked better in 2 though, probably because it wasn’t on that large of a scale with what they tried to create and have. The CGI for the black suit and Venom was really good, visually he looked great. The action scenes were all around filmed really well, from the first fight between Peter and Harry to the climax with Spider-Man, Harry, Venom and Sandman. The last act is entertaining, aside from the CGI for Sandman, what they did with him in the third act was really over the top, and ended up being kind of silly. I liked all the soundtracks for the Spider-Man trilogy, but 3 has quite possibly my favourite from the whole trilogy, this time it’s done by Christopher Young.

I will not deny that Spider-Man 3 could’ve and should’ve been a lot better. It had a lot of potential and great ideas but they’ve all been shoved all into this movie and the film became so bloated that they had to alter and change the plotlines so that they could fit in, which really negatively affected the film overall. With that said, the movie is good, and it honestly does have some great parts to it. All the issues aside, a lot of the aspects from the first two movies with the acting, direction and even some of the story are here, so I don’t notice that much of a difference from the first two films. The storylines are at the very least okay, and the action is really great. I consider this movie on par with all the other Spider-Man movies except for 2 (2 is still by far the best Spider-Man film yet). It had some of the elements and potential of being the best Spider-Man, but having too much really held it back.

Spider-Man 2 (2004) Review

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence
Cast:
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
James Franco as Harry Osborn
Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus/Doc Ock
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
Donna Murphy as Rosalie Octavius
Director: Sam Rami

When a failed nuclear fusion experiment results in an explosion that kills his wife, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) is transformed into Dr. Octopus, a cyborg with deadly metal tentacles. Doc Ock blames Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) for the accident and seeks revenge. Meanwhile, Spidey’s alter ego, Peter Parker, faces fading powers and self-doubt. Complicating matters are his best friend’s (James Franco) hatred for Spider-Man and his true love’s (Kirsten Dunst) sudden engagement to another man.

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Sam Rami’s Spider-Man impacted the comic book genre in such an immense way. Looking back at it now, some of it holds up, some of it doesn’t, but its enjoyable overall. While Spider-Man was a good movie, Spider-man 2 is a great movie. Spider-Man 2 improves in every way over Spiderman 1, better villain, better special effects, better story, better character development, better everything really. Out of the trilogy, this was the one time I felt Rami balanced all the elements well, and made it the best Spider-Man movie yet.

The pacing of the movie is a lot steadier than in Spider-Man 1. Peter does have a strong arc, with him questioning whether he should continue being Spider-Man, and him trying to deal with the pressures of living both as Peter Parker and Spider-Man (this was in the first movie, but it’s explored a lot more in the sequel). This movie has quite a lot going on. I found myself a lot more invested in this movie and its characters, particularly Peter and Dr Ock). I didn’t really mention the humour in my review of the first movie, but it was pretty much cheesy humour (though a lot of it is quite funny). Here it’s legitimately funny, with some quirky humour appropriately thrown in. The tone in 2 is more serious than the first movie, but it does have some funny moments, for example there is a montage set to the tune of “Raindrops keep falling on my head”. But I do appreciate the change in tone, I could take everything a lot more seriously.

Once again I really liked Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. As I said earlier, he has a strong arc here, an arc which involves a lot of internal conflict. Maguire in the first movie was a little too quirky and geeky, and I wasn’t invested in him. Here though, I actually cared about what Peter was going through, and Tobey did a very good job. Alfred Molina is Doc Ock, the villain of the movie, and he is hands down the best Spider-Man movie villain. He is given some form of complexity, he is a human being. The film doesn’t always handle him the best, as some of his more villainous actions like attempting to crash a train and the way he acted at times really didn’t quite fall in line with his character. He is a little goofy and over the top at times, but it didn’t really bother me (like what happened with Green Goblin in the first movie), he was really entertaining, but sympathetic at the same time. The supporting actors/characters are also a lot better than in the first movie. While I still don’t like Mary Jane and don’t think the romance between her and Peter is done well, Kirsten Dunst does have a lot more to work with, and she once again she does the best she can to make Mary Jane as 3 dimensional a character as possible. With that said, Mary Jane is still a 2 dimensional character, not really that interesting and is just another comic book movie girlfriend. James Franco is great here, in the first movie he really didn’t do much asides from being Peter’s friend, but here he does have a lot more to do, with Harry Osborn looking to get revenge on Spider-Man. J.K. Simmons is also effortlessly entertaining as J. Jonah Jameson, he gets a lot more scenes and he steals every single one of these scenes. And there’s another Bruce Campbell cameo, which is always nice.

Spider-Man 2 is a technical improvement over the original film. The CGI isn’t quite up to today’s standards but its still really good. The action is so great. While the first movie was good, the action really wasn’t that great, aside from the last action scene. Spider-Man 2’s action is a significant improvement over the first movie. There are so many great action sequences. There’s also a horror like scene with Doc Ock. The highlight however was an action sequence between Spider-Man and Doc Ock on a train, definitely one of the best comic book movie action sequences. The soundtrack by Danny Elfman, like from the first movie, is really good.

Spider-Man 2 is the best Spider-Man movie we have got yet. Most of the Spider-Man movies are good but flawed, Spiderman 2 is the only Spider-Man movie that I would call great. All the elements of the movie, the story, the acting, the action, everything about it really worked to result in a well-balanced, investing, deep comic book movie, which is endlessly entertaining. It is probably one of the best comic book movies ever made. Definitely a classic.

Spider-Man (2002) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence
Cast:
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin
James Franco as Harry Osborn
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
Director: Sam Rami

“Spider-Man” centers on student Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) who, after being bitten by a genetically-altered spider, gains superhuman strength and the spider-like ability to cling to any surface. He vows to use his abilities to fight crime, coming to understand the words of his beloved Uncle Ben: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

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With Spiderman Homecoming coming in under a couple months, I decided to check out all the Spider-Man movies. Honestly, I dreaded rewatching the first movie, because it seemed really cheesy and didn’t hold up that well, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t really like it. I was actually surprised at how much I liked it. It is very entertaining and well put together by Sam Rami. Not all of it holds up, but some of it surprisingly does, it’s enjoyable at the very least.

The first thing I noticed about Spider-Man is that the story moves at a surprisingly fast pace, Peter Parker gets bitten by the radioactive spider and earns his powers in the first 5-10 minutes. In a way, the fast pacing does work, it’s just a little jarring seeing a comic book movie (especially for an origin story) to move this fast. One downside to this is that I wasn’t really that invested in the story. After Peter becomes Spider-Man, it then becomes a standard comic book movie, it’s nothing really that special, it’s just a reasonably entertaining comic book movie (not that this is a bad thing though). The movie is very easy to follow, and its very difficult to get bored in. Now a part of the movie which is obvious looking back at it now is that it is very cheesy and campy, with some of the ideas, dialogue and decisions made. However, there is a bit of a charm to it, so I can’t say that it bothered me too much… it only bothered me occasionally. Most of the dialogue is cheesy and some of it is kind of stupid and hard to take seriously at times, especially when it comes to the romance between Peter and Mary Jane. The way that the movie handles the Green Goblin was very hit or miss, not just the way they took his character, but the dialogue and all that, way too over the top, couldn’t take him seriously as a villain for most of the movie. But I’ll get into that later. Overall, Spider-Man’s plot is generally good and fast paced, entertaining but nothing special, you’ve all seen this type of comic book movie before.

Tobey Maguire is really good as Spider-Man, he perfectly delivers on the geeky side of Peter Parker, and is quite likable in his role. With that said, he wasn’t always great, but that’s to do with the writing. After Uncle Ben’s death and after he becomes Spider-Man, his character development seems to almost stop. In 2 and 3 he is given more to do. I didn’t feel that he was quite a 3 dimensional character yet, but he still worked well for the movie. Kirsten Dunst is Mary Jane Watson, Dunst is a great actress but in these movies, she’s sadly not given much to work with, especially this movie. Her character isn’t really that great, and the awkward dialogue between her and Maguire makes it hard to see any believable chemistry. But she does the best she can. Willem Dafoe is Norman Osborn/Green Goblin and I have to say that is one of the best comic book movie casting decisions ever made. As for what I think of the performance itself… I have mixed feelings. I know plenty of people love Green Goblin in this movie, but I won’t lie, I’m not a big fan of him. I really liked Willem Dafoe when he was Norman Osborn. However when he’s Green Goblin he goes really over the top, and it’s just hard to take him seriously (especially when he’s in the Goblin suit). He’s literally singing “Itsy bitsy spider”, saying cliché 1960s era villain lines, all the things that comic book movie villains do and say. Even as Norman, he has some goofy moments when he is talking to himself in the mirror or literally talking to the Goblin mask (which is just sitting on a chair and the Goblin voice is coming out of it), it’s hard to not find these scenes unintentionally hilarious. It wouldn’t be so bad except it feels like the film wants to take Goblin seriously as a villain, most of the time he just comes across as a Power Rangers villain. I’m not at any point intimidated by him, I find him ridiculous. I will say at the very least, Dafoe seemed to be having an absolute blast going absolute nuts. And to be fair, Goblin does get a couple great scenes, one on a rooftop, and the other is the final fight with Spider-Man. We also get supporting performances from James Franco, J.K. Simmons and others which were also pretty good. And we get a Bruce Campbell cameo, which is always great.

A lot of the CGI hasn’t held up well and in most of the big action scenes, Spiderman and Green Goblin look very rubbery and fake, and at times it looked like it was a videogame. The action itself is pretty well filmed. With that said, most of the action wasn’t that great, nowadays it looks a little goofy and was a little underwhelming, (the action in the sequels definitely got better though). The last fight scene however is surprisingly brutal and intense, it was a very effective end action scene, that was definitely the best action scene in the movie. I will say, seeing Spiderman swinging around is always great to see, along with some other sequences like with the Spider-sense, that was also handled vey well. I liked the design for Spiderman’s costume, while the CGI for it wasn’t always the best, the design itself worked well, it never felt cartoonish, I could take it seriously. Green Goblin’s costume on the other hand…. was very cartoonish. He looks like a Power Rangers villain, not a Spider-Man villain, it’s just hard to take him seriously when he looks like that. Then again, I guess the costume matched the performance.

So, 15 years after it’s release, does Spider-Man hold up? The answer is yes and no. It’s easy to understand why Spider-Man had such a huge impact on the comic book movie genre. Spiderman (especially back then) isn’t an easy character to bring to the big screen, huge props to director Sam Rami. It’s not a perfect movie, the fast pace did lessen my investment in the story, it has some cheesy elements which don’t hold up (especially with regards to the Green Goblin) but at the same time there’s a real charm to it that makes most of these moments enjoyable. It is an entertaining movie at the very least.