Friday, July 13, 2012

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-man

Last night, I went out to see the new movie reboot of the "Spider-man" franchise.


The movie is basically a reboot of the series that Sam Raimi did only a few years ago. Peter Parker is an orphan, whose parents handed him over to his aunt and uncle when he was a child before they disappeared. After he finds a secret briefcase that used to belong to his father, Peter works with his father's former co-worker Dr. Curt Connors to make a serum that can enable humans to heal themselves. He is bitten by a spider and decides to use his abilities to hunt down the man who killed his uncle while at the same time he must manage his new relationship with classmate Gwen Stacy and Dr. Connors becoming an aggressive, giant lizard.

It is hard not to compare this reboot with Raimi's original series, but I came out of the theater liking Raimi's version better (generally, that is... there were certain things about his movies that I wasn't overly fond of, and I do not like "Spider-man 3"). One major problem is that the reboot came way too soon. Unfortunately, Hollywood is all the rave about superhero/ comic adaptations nowadays, which includes rebooting stuff that may or may not have been a failure in the first place. Hence, the movie, to me, felt like a comic book cash cow.

One of the major things that I did not like in this version were the characters. I had heard good things about Andrew Garfield's version of Peter Parker, but I personally was not very impressed. Garfield's version, to me, looked more like an emo, angsty teenager who walks around wearing a hoodie most of the time with occasional moments of his geek-ness and genius coming out. It didn't help that his character also was inconsistent; in his teenage form, he was quiet and generally not memorable but in his spider-man suit he turns cocky and sarcastic, which seem out-of-character for him. I was not overly fond of the new versions of Uncle Ben and Aunt May; neither of them had good chemistry with each other or with Garfield, and neither of them came across as being particularly encouraging to Peter or giving him good advice. This meant that I personally had little sympathy for them, especially during Uncle Ben's death scene. Gwen Stacy was not an overly memorable character either. I found her less annoying than Mary Jane from Raimi's adaptations, but she had no substance to her or anything that was particularly memorable. Dr. Curt Connors was not a very interesting villain either; in a rather bizarre twist with no explanation for it, he starts off as a guy that you like, someone who wants to help the human race, and then, after injecting himself with the serum, he becomes a madman who wants to turn everyone into giant lizards.

Another problem with the film was the plot. The movie was unevenly paced, and it took a while for the plot to get going; Peter didn't turn spider-man for a while, and Dr. Connors also got a late start in becoming the villain. The plot also was not organized very well in that it seemed to keep changing and that certain aspects were dropped. Peter dons his spider-man persona for the sole purpose of tracking down the man who shot his uncle, but he abruptly drops that to focus on dealing with Dr. Connors; instead of being a general crime-fighter, his focus is too narrow, and thus it doesn't make sense when certain city members decide to help Spider-man save the city because he honestly has not done much to help them in the first place. The whole villainous scheme for Connors to turn everyone into lizards I thought was a rather dumb idea and did not fit in with his character either. The romance between Peter and Gwen did not have much chemistry either, and it came across as being more of a teenage crush than anything else.

The effects and stunts were ok, though the effects definitely showed how much technology has changed in the last decade; they allowed for a grittier, darker feel in certain scenes. The stunts were very similar to what had been done in Raimi's versions, and so they were not overly spectacular or mind-blowing. Some of the stunts that Peter does while testing out his flexibility and new-found abilities were interesting. On a related note, I did like how Peter's transformation was done and how he struggled to get used to using his new abilities, which felt realistic and added some humor to the movie.

All in all, the movie was only ok. The characters were not memorable, and the plot was not very gripping. It could have been better, but instead it came across as a weak attempt at a reboot.

I give it two and a half stars out of five.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Movie Review: Underworld: Awakening

A little while back, I watched this film with my family after a recommendation from a friend.


This fourth installment of the popular vampire/ werewolf series "Underworld" starts off after the events of the second movie: "Underworld: Evolution." Humans have now discovered the existence of vampires and lycans and have begun waging an exterminating war against them. Selene wakes up twelve years later, having been cryogenically frozen, and escapes from the medical corporation Antigen that holds her. She makes contact with a young girl named Eve and, with the help of a vampire called David and a human detective called Sebastian, must rescue Eve from Antigen and uncover the sinister motives of Dr. Lane.

I was not overly optimistic about seeing the movie, given my feelings towards the third film and that the trailers did not look interesting to me. Unfortunately, the movie was indeed nothing special or worth remembering. Compared to the other three movies in the series, this one had a completely different feel to it. As my dad pointed out to me in a conversation after we watched the movie, there is no mythology or history attached to this movie; instead, you have more science and less of the mythology. The whole back stories with early vampires and early lycans have been told, leaving an uninteresting story that doesn't fit with the series.

A major problem with the movie was the entire plot. The whole idea of lycans trying to become immune to silver and growing to ginormous proportions was rather dumb; one would think that humans are the major villains of the story, especially given the first five minutes of the film or so. The reasoning for Eve's importance, how her DNA is important for making the lycan serum, didn't make sense either. Eve's origins were also left unexplained: was Selene pregnant when she was captured (which doesn't make sense because she was frozen for twelve years and wouldn't have been able to give birth) or was the girl born out of a test tube? Either way, it was not explained and thus didn't make much sense in the movie. Some aspects of the plot also seemed repetitive; for example, Selene bringing Eve to the vampire coven reminded me of her bringing Michael Corvin to the manor in the first "Underworld" movie.

The characters in the movie were not overly interesting either. It didn't help that Selene was the only familiar character and that Michael had a brief minute of screen time in the entire film. The new characters were dull and nothing interesting; at least the characters in the first film, despite not having much personality and being predictable, were at least interesting to watch, especially Lucian.

In the end, I wasn't expecting much from "Underworld: Awakening," and I didn't get much. The first two movies were good popcorn entertainment, but this one was not. I hope they either stop making more movies to milk the cash cow or that they get some better writers in there.

I give it one out of five stars.