Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 News Round-Up

Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane Watson

Ever since it was announced that Shailene Woodley was cast as Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 I have been behind the choice one hundred percent. Admittedly, based on her appearance alone, she is not the actress you think of when you ask "who resembles the Mary Jane Watson of comic book lore?" in the same way Emma Stone bares an eerily perfect resemblance to Gwen Stacy.

However, now that set photos for the web slingers upcoming sequel have surfaced, the popular opinion in nerd circles is not only that Shailene Woodley is not "attractive enough" to play Mary Jane Watson, but that she also looks flat-out "Horrible" in terms of her own personal appearance. Does this make me mad? Well...yeah.

 Image Source:

Granted, it seems as though most who share this negative opinion have not even seen Woodley's much praised performance in 2011's Best Picture nominated film The Descendants, and are therefore unaware of how talented she actually is. However, a more important fact remains. The reason Shailene Woodley does not resemble the Mary Jane of comic book because she is actually a REAL human being. This article from articulates my feelings on this issue better than I can.

Putting my faith in Woodley based on one role could backfire, but it is still a more reasonable and likely to be proven true stance than the harsh one directed towards her based on....set photos and her appearance. Shailene Woodley is immensely talented so I do not give a fuck whether she looks like the ideal Mary Jane or not...but on a personal note: I do find Shailene Woodley very attractive.

Chris Cooper as Norman Osborn

Image Source: /Disney

Not much to say here other than this is pretty damn great casting! Chris Cooper is an excellent actor and would make a great Norman Osborn. However this news announcement raises some very intriguing questions!

Will the Green Goblin appear in The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Will Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy meet her demise at his hands? If not, what exactly will Norman Osborn be up to in this film? 

Personally, I doubt we will be seeing the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, aside from a brief tease at the end of the film. With two villains (Electro and The Rhino) already announced to be appearing in the upcoming sequel in addition to the introduction of Mary Jane Watson in the rebooted series, it seems unlikely that Marc Webb and the writers would try blowing their load early with Norman Osborn when they have so much going on already.

Even before this casting news was announced I never subscribed to the theory that Gwen Stacy would be killed off in this sequel, especially at the hands of anyone else besides the Green Goblin. Considering the upcoming sequel already seemed jam packed with story material even before Cooper's casting was announced, I feel even more strongly that Gwen Stacy will live to see another sequel by the time The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rolls the credits.  

After all, why would they not take the chance to dedicated an entire film to one of the most important and iconic comic book stories of all-time?

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 New Trailer: Good Chances for a Good Sequel

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs remains one of the most underrated films of all-time. While the initial concept for the film and the trailers suggested a kid-friendly but silly and forgettable family film, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs proved to be a clever and adventurous comedy filled with colourful characters brought to life by stunning animation and talented actors. It was a film for all ages on par with some of Disney and Pixar's best!

Now the trailer for upcoming sequel, simply titled Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2, has hit!

All things are looking good! Granted if your are not one for puns then I advise staying far away from this trailer. As for me? I have a soft spot for puns as long as they are clever...and boy does this film pack some great ones!

Ultimately the trailer does not offer too much other than splendid visuals and a taste of the comedic style offered by the film, but considering we complain that trailers reveal too much information, I think the trailer has succeeded in giving us a taste for something everyone should be eager to devour!

Of course, I do have some worries that the film will not live up to it's predecessor, especially considering original directors/writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are not returning, and the final gag in the trailer was not funny at all, but these are minor worries considering the trailer offers some hilarious moments and hints at an equally entertaining film if nothing else.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Reveals New Costume

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was arguably the most divisive film of 2012. While some would point to other big budget flicks such as Prometheus or smaller independent ventures such as Beasts of the Southern Wild as the kind of film worthy of said title, I would point to The Amazing Spider-Man simply due to how extreme the differing opinions of the reboot are in contrast to each other and because of how vocal each side of the argument has been.

Some praise The Amazing Spider-Man as the Spider-Man film fans have always waited for that equals or even betters Spider-Man 2, Sam Raimi's second installment of the original Spider-Man trilogy which is regarded by many to be one of the greatest superhero films ever produced. Others absolutely loath The Amazing Spider-Man, claiming the film is pure garbage and not only one of the worst superhero films ever produced, but also one of the worst films of the year. 

Me? I am firmly in the middle ground on the whole debate. I feel the film suffers from too many common flaws, such as a generic narrative and rushed character development (or lack thereof), to be worthy of the praise given to Spider-Man 2, and yet none of the films problems justify the vile hyperbolic hate shown towards it. If forced to choose a side, I would align with the positive opinion considering how exaggerated the arguments of those who hate the film have been, however my true stance is that the film is flawed and not as good as the better Raimi films, but it is enjoyable with some great performances from the two leads which makes for a fun and solid popcorn flick.

Now we have our first look at the newly designed costumed for the web slinger himself!

I have to say...I like it. I really dig this new look.

My issue with the costume in The Amazing Spider-Man was not with the design, but with the material. There was just something about it that felt a little too "Halloween Costume-ish". This slick new material appears to be returning what was used for the Raimi series of costumes, however the new eye pieces have a classic comic book style to them that we have not seen before in these films. I love that. More than any other costume used in previous films, this one looks like it leaped right off the page!

I am relatively excited for the upcoming sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man. While I do have a problem with the villains appearing to once again have a connection to Oscorp, the casting of Paul Giamatti as The Rhino and Jamie Foxx as Electro offers exciting prospects for the future of the series. Hopefully if we get more of a sense that Peter Parker is a struggling outcast and more developed script, this film could be one that everyone will love!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Retro DVD/Blu-Ray Update Week #7

DVD Update #5 "Askewniverse"
Date Posted: June 25 2008
Summary: A trip looking for Coldplay's latest album resulted in 2 new DVD's.

Fast and Furious 6: Get Here Fast!

I have never been a fan of the Fast and Furious film series.While my male comrades would insist that the first three films (The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) have their merit in the form of shots of objectified barely clothed women and fancy vehicles, I found them to be lifeless, hollow, filled with douchebag characters, and they offered nothing I could not easily see with a simple google search. 

My opinion started to change with the fourth film in the series, Fast and Furious, albeit only to a certain extent. I was still not amused by the continued bromance love-fest between boring characters, but I did very much enjoy the high energy racing sequences featured in the film. Some complained that these sequences were less racing scenes and more CGI, logic defying, action scenes...but frankly they were the first exciting and enjoyable moments to be offered by the series. Fast Five continued the streak of cardboard characters and thin stories which had always been a bother when it came to the previous films. However, much like the films predecessor, Fast Five stepped it up with the over-the-top action sequences and made for the most amusing film of the bunch, if nothing else. 

Now we have Fast and Furious 6 heading our way...

Well...for the first time ever...consider me excited for a Fast and Furious film!

Granted, this fact has only ever been based on levels of enjoyment rather than improved writing and story, however I can say with conviction that the Fast and Furious films are one of the first series I think of when asked "what series has gotten BETTER with each film."

Sure, the story seems to be the basic "law enforcement turns to criminals for help in exchange for full pardons" narrative. Sure, the bromance between the characters seems to be in full gear (no pun intended), but I will admit that as the films have progressed, I did like the characters and the relationships they share (particularly between Vin Diesel and Paul Walker's characters) in the previous two films.

But when has ANYONE bought a ticket for these films for the story? What really appeals to me about this trailer is that the filmmakers seem to have decided to push the envelop in terms of evolving from a shallow film filled with glory shots of women and a shallow film that captures the kind of car racing, tank crushing and plane crashing shenanigans that many of us pretended were happening while playing with our hot wheels toys as children. I mean...the characters have gone from douchebags punks to gun toting ass-kickers. Fast and Furious 6 looks to be an over-the-top, insane, action film that delivers on the ridiculous set pieces. Also, frankly, I am sort of curious to see where the story goes with this one considering they are bringing back Michelle Rodriguez's previously assumed dead character.

Also, did I mention...they take down a fucking plane with their cars!?

No Toast for "The Host"

The Twilight films are pure shit. I am sorry, but they are terrible by any rational sense judgement. The characters are dry and lifeless, the story lacks intrigue or passion, and Bella is without a doubt one of the worst fictional role models for women to have ever been conceived. I try not to be critical of anyone who finds enjoyment from the books and films because everyone, myself included, find enjoyment in our fair share of awful films, novels, and music. However, anyone out there who feels the Twilight franchise is an unfairly maligned genuine quality series of films and novels...well, please do not ever operate a vehicle or run for public office. Please.

Regardless of how I may feel about the Twilight phenomenon, the fact remains that it has been a lucrative franchise for all involved and naturally the search for it's replacement, now that both the film and novels appear to have definitively concluded, has begun. Much like how a slew of fantasy based films tried and failed to capture the success of the Harry Potter film series, the search for a new Twilight equivalent was inevitable and why not start off with the OTHER book  from Twilight writer Stephanie Meyers. 

So here's the third and latest trailer for the upcoming adaption of The Host...

Well...I do not hate it with every fiber of my being...but that is the best thing I can say about it.

A few weeks ago I mentioned on twitter that the casting of Saoirse Ronan as the female lead was a sign of hope for the film, not unlike the casting of the incredibly talented Jennifer Lawrence in the lead for The Hunger Games. I had absolutely no interest in The Hunger Games (which by the NOT a rip-off of Battle Royale and anyone who thinks otherwise in an imbecile) but Jennifer Lawrence had proven herself to be an immense talent and I could not resist watching another one of her performances. Fortunately...I was pleasantly surprised. The Hunger Games is not a perfect film, but it was highly enjoyable and a large reason for that was Jennifer Lawrence's performance and the fact that Katniss Everdeen is an interesting/likeable character did not hurt.

Saoirse Ronan has also proven she is an extremely talented actress. With role in films such as Atonement, The Lovely Bones, and The Way Back, I have been very impressed with her work even when I was not equally impressed with the films themselves. In fact, I maintain that Ronan was more deserving of an Academy Award for her performance in The Lovely Bones than actual winner Sandra Bullock collected in the same year for her overrated performance in the overrated film The Blind Side.

Unfortunately, while I do feel Saoirse Ronan appears to be giving it her all in The Host...the rest of the film just appears...dull. It starts off with a mildly interesting concept that initially feels as though it will the raise the stakes and present audiences with a compelling story of rebellon, choice, and war.

Until it looks to be another juvenile love story focused on the relationship and dedication between two characters. I will admit to knowing nothing about the novels on which this film is based, but from the looks of things...gee, another female-geared film where the female lead spends most of it slavishly devoted to her man, this time while completely helpless due to outside circumstances rather than her passive behavior? Pass.

Grading The Monsters University Trailer

I have admitted to being apprehensive towards the future of Pixar. While Toy Story 3 is a masterpiece, Brave is unfairly maligned, and the jury has yet to deliberate on Monsters University...the fact remains that since being acquired by Disney, Pixar has produced two sequels, a prequel, a princess film that treads familiar territory, all while a second installment of Finding Nemo is being developed. 

Granted the worst of the bunch is without a doubt Cars 2, which itself given more hate than it deserves, and ALL of Pixars upcoming projects sound like the 'why didn't I think of that' kind of ideas we are used to getting from the studio. However, Monsters University cannot help but feel like  the wall between the continuation of previous ideas and the road towards much anticipated fresh ideas from Pixar. 

But now a new trailer has been released and the verdict thus far is...

I like it. In fact, I really enjoyed what we have been shown so far.

Now I certainly have my reservations. The story does not seem to have much to it beyond the predictable concept of two individuals, whom we know are best friends in the future, starting off as enemies only to become friends through their rivalry. Let's face it...most of us can probably predict the kind of speeches and narrative developments that will occur throughout the film. It is a little unsettling, but as someone who defends Brave (or any film for that matter) for being able to take a familiar story and present it in an enjoyable and quality manner...I have to give Pixar the benefit of the doubt and hope that even if the story for Monsters University does not offer any surprises, it will at least deliver clever amusement within that familiar story. (I just hope they don't make Randall the "friend who becomes the enemy" character...that wouldn't help an already potentially cliched story).

Which brings me to what excites me about this trailer. The humour. Granted the humour is of the "It's just like real University...but with monsters!" which did not work well AT ALL for Cars and their motor vehicle pun induced style of jokes. That said, here the comedy seems to be endearing and I will admitt that I got a few good laughs from the footage. The characters seem loveable, the jokes are clever, and if nothing else the film looks to be filled with high energy fun and excitement. 

I was not enthusiastic over the idea of a sequel/prequel to Monsters Inc. (a film I love) primarily because it felt so pointless. After much thought my opinion has changed. Much like how the Toy Story film series aged appropriately alongside those who children when the first film was released, Monsters University has the benefit of being released at a a time when many of those who grew up on the original film are now University students themselves. Ironically, in spite of taking place before the first film, Monsters University has managed to tell a story suited perfectly to those whom may be the films ultimate target audience. As a university student myself, consider me excited for another nostalgic trip to the past with old friends James P. Sullivan and Mike Wazowski.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Retro DVD/Blu-Ray Update Week #6

DVD Update #4 "Trippy" Part 1
Date Posted: June 22 2008
Summary: My fourth update, sorry but I end up rambling, and going off topic, and giving sort of mini reviews.

DVD Update #4 "Trippy" Part 2
Date Posted: June 22 2008
Summary: Part 2, again, more rambling, reviewing and going off topic.