Dear Sony, is the "Amazing" in the title sarcastic? Spider-Man 3 was bad, but it was so bad it was good. This movie, is too serious that it just is dreadful to sit through. If Captain America: The Winter Soldier pissed me off, I think The Amazing Spider-Man 2 might have made me wickedly irritated. Imagine if someone told you what you imagined as a child was completely wrong and force fed you some truth for 2 hours. I'm not talking about Peter Parker and what he discovers about his family. I'm talking about how I wasted 2 hours and 20 minutes (plus 5 minutes on a deleted scene) on this movie.
I didn't enjoy the first movie, mainly because it was a pale rehash of the first. And Sony knew that. Marc Webb knew that. I can usually forgive reboots of the originals (The Incredible Hulk was actually not that horrible, Batman Begins told the origin story again, X-Men First Class actually had a cool historical twist) because really the limits are endless after setting the first film up. Not much exposition beyond character growth. But TASM2 (the title is too long) hit every note after note wrong.
Let's just go chronologically. I actually thought the coolest part of the "original" was the fact it explored Peter's real parents. Sam Raimi didn't do that. Instead we get this weird James Bond opening that feels really wooden, and when the mystery is revealed to Peter, it just doesn't feel satisfying (beyond weapons = bad, and you are a good person Peter for not fucking up Harry Osborn but you did indirectly?). Other mysteries include, who built the mysterious lab underground? Why did no one find it when people were looking for the mystery Roosevelt station? If Peter met his father (or was supposed to) how did he survive the plane crash (well he could have taken the spider syrum I guess or a parachute)? Why did they not listen to fans to not copy Sam Raimi's Spider-Man and make his father say "with great power comes great responsibility? The last point pissed me off.
Next, the Rhino. Why was he the "Sandman" of the movie? Why does he have only 5 minutes of screentime? Couldn't we shave those minutes and added the better scene of closure between Peter and his father versus more dumb explosions and save him for the next movie. He didn't make sense to be there. Why did they have the "ghost of George Stacy" bothering Peter, wasn't this ALSO in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man?
Foxx wasn't I guess horrible, but he wasn't great. I just kept expecting people to sing the Django song since they kept asking him to sing his name. But how can he be so stupid to think Spider-Man would set him up? He clearly saved his life last time. That said, the most issues comes in the creation of Electro. Why couldn't he shut the power grid off by going downstairs. Hmm the trade off, time or I don't know, YOUR LIFE? Next, who puts a vat of eels in the electric grid, let alone if you watch the movie they say all experiments about this modification were termination. Then next question, how is he alive after drowning and falling from a wire that seems to stretch that far down when water is his weakness later in Ravencroft?
I guess Dean DeHaan is probably the best of the worst even if he was doing the same "I have too much anger bottled up" schtick. I guess they did try to differentiate the Spider-Men here by having him hate his father, and have him have the goblin thing by genetics and tie in why the experiments were done in the first place. But still, James Franco had the corniness to the role. DeHaan plays it so straight. And sigh... the magic blood. I mean why couldn't Spider-Man say, "sure I'll give you a sample to help but I don't know you seem like a smart guy, let's work together to see how it works so it can help you if it doesn't work out." It's this small stuff that kept pissing me off. And for 3/5 movies, we now get a goblin fight.
Emma Stone must be glad she's out. I'm glad. Her scenes with Garfield really slow the movie down. I mean this isn't my biggest complaint if it didn't happen so often (I felt fatigue in Spider-Man 3, but it wasn't beaten the hell of like it is here).
Overall, I'll admit some of the action piece acrobatics were fine (well the ones where building didn't crumble like destruction porn in The Avengers or a Roland Emmerch film were). He didn't use Bing. At least it wasn't filled with dumb jokes like The Avengers beyond distracting from who the character was (because let's face it Peter Parker is a kid, he's no Batman). They also got rid of that terrible first person web view. And it did seem like Garfield was game to act (...in the scene that got cut). But still, we get moments copy and paste from Sam Raimi who did it much lighter and scarier (I mean I was terrified of Willam Defoe, I'm just laughing at Dean Dehaan) and the death wasn't as meaningful, it just seemed cheesy and forced. But probably the biggest blow, JK Simmons was near perfect as J Jonah. But you replace him with a Gmail email. SERIOUSLY??
I normally end with how to fix a movie like this. I don't know. I honestly want the old cast back, but it will never happen especially James Franco and costs (or even risking doing a Spider-Man 1999 thing where he goes to the future?). A reboot wouldn't make sense consider they're in "building a cinematic universe" mode.
I'm going to say it. I think people give Adam Sandler too hard a time. The guy doesn't star in the best movies, but Adam Sandler knows how to make films that are dumb and knows when they are dumb. It's not like he's trying to do anything else (cough Marvel cough), you know what you're getting. That said, he's quite witty and sadly the charm is lost in fart jokes at times, but when Sandler takes a risk, it usually works out for the better.
The Cobbler, while not a full departure from a comedy is probably my favourite Sandler film since Funny People and really should deserve a look. I honestly didn't know what to get into when I saw the pictures for the movie (no trailers at TIFF meaning really you're just going on a picture of him holding a shoe). I honestly thought it would be more snarky Sandler and similar to The Delivery Man him learning to be a better person when he "walks in someone elses shoes". But honestly what I saw might be even crazier or better. Sure the movie is tonally a mess (it just from a typical "weird grannies, hot girl product placement Sandler" movie with Midnight in Paris music, to a crime caper, to a superhero film), but honestly Sandler does really well in the emotional scenes. On the superhero note, I didn't get it until the last 5 minutes, the film is essentially a heroic journey in disguise, and it's interesting to see Sandler be a superhero, you'd never guess it (well I guess there is also Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen).
Showing the heavy weight in his eyes at the death of his mother. He gets emotional, but nothing stupid emotional. The rest of the supporting cast beyond Method Man is not that memorable and I wish Tom McCarthy who wrote probably the best Pixar movie since the "drought" (Up, which strangely is also about aging old people) took a bit more focused approach, The Cobbler could have been a film we're saying how Sandler got his groove back (just like the equally underrated Funny People), but seriously beyond Will Ferrel, Adam Sandler has stood the box office test of time from 1990s until now. What other comedian can come close to so many $100 million dollar hits? So really, it's a good film, I don't know why critics are hating on it, there is far worse dreck (like the dumber Let's Be Cops pehaps?) and really you're not supporting the guy to go beyond his comfort zone beyond every 5 years. We'll just keep pumping out more disgusting Chris Pratt vehicles with Marvel plastered with fake praise. My major complaint though is the constant use of the crossdresser in the movie. Was that really that funny Tom McCarthy? It just felt sort of demeaning and kind of creepy. I think using a whole host of extras might have been a better option showing how they can be a different character, yet still understand Sandler's mannerisms, a stronger view of the acting.
The TIFF experience was a lot better than Foxcatcher. Being Visa Infinite member has it's perks (bring the card). That said, the Q&A was lengthy and was quite engaging. More shockingly, is how everyone was basically asked a question and unlike last year where everyone flooded Bateman and Poheler, they asked everyone there. And Sandler still had his charm on stage, not grumpy like Bateman.
If Moneyball was about the addiction to succeed, Foxcatcher is the addiction to impress. Brace yourselves, Oscar season has begun. I honestly was shocked I got the chance to see it (well not really considering how many empty seats there still was at the premiere since some company decided to buy the floor but my gripes on this year's TIFF shouldn't reflect my view of the movie so I'll put comments and tips for reference to survive TIFF at the bottom).
I normally can look at a film and tell whether or not it will win the Oscar or not. I did it with Argo, 12 Years a Slave, and I mean 2nd place isn't too bad for The Descendants, The Social Network and Avatar. But Foxcatcher seemed like a winner, or bred a winner from the moment I knew the cast and saw the trailer. Steve Carell and Channing Tatum are highly unconventional. Check. It's a biopic. Check. It's a drama. Check. What we have here is a good film, that I feel will get the Oscar nods, but ultimately I don't think it will have the momentum to win them. I honestly was really excited to see Steve Carell play John Du Pont, the heir to the Du Pont wealth and is the crux of the story (which took me a while to question since I still don't know who I would bill as the lead, I believe it should be Carell, but why is Tatum front and centre? Are they afraid they'll lose audiences if they plaster Carell? Honestly, Carell would be the draw, especially how much they played him in the first trailer compared to his screen time in the film. Very odd.). That said, Carell looks like a cross between Emperor Palpatine and Gru, and really the drama isn't that far of a stretch which disappointed me. It felt more like Brick Tamland was in a drama and people were taking him as an actual idiot. Tatum is ok as Mark Shultz, you see him go through a psychosis, but it isn't too drastic of a stretch for the guy (sidenote: he plays a wrestler so many times larger than everyone and still gets beat? How does wrestling work?). Honestly I was most impressed surprisingly (yes probably at Jeremy American Hustle level) by Mark Ruffalo's Dave Shultz. He really is the glue between Du Pont and the Shultz and I know he won't get nominated but he should get some recognition from me (after disastrously playing the Hulk).
That said the film has mostly pacing issues. 30 minutes could have been cut, but it's an Oscar film so I mean... it won't. And I didn't even know Du Pont had schizophrenia or really considered Dave to be a friend, it's just implied on screen, but it's amazing that given no context that you can really focus on the three characters. There is just a lot of awkward silence, which really lightens the tone (Carell does a lot of unintentional comedy here, but I don't know if it was intentional or not).
There are also two main themes here. The addiction to impress and the understanding of a mentor figure. The trailer to me really muddles the message (again without fully knowing Du Pont's story) where it makes you believe it's about a good coach who pushes a promising pupil to a psychosis (a la Whiplash or Black Swan). When instead (mild spoiler) it's about clueless men wanting to impress and leave a legacy behind and blindly leading each other towards their goals. It's hard for me really to see why I disliked the movie, I liked the quiet moments, but I wish there was also a bit more pulse at times like the trailer made it out to be.
Liam Neeson might be this decade's Nicolas Cage. I mean how many movies, and how many so similar film can one do (well minus the comedies..). Non-stop requires a lot more thought than Taken, but the twist in the film honestly doesn't pay off. Where Unknown actually "logically" made sense, Non-Stop just decides to pick two random people who were suspects and decide to make them the villains. Also, with this and Jack Ryan, are films of 2014 the ones where we just "give up and just let the bombs go off"?
The first sitting, I almost turned off the movie after 30 minutes.From it's obnoxious rendition of "Everything is Awesome" to the dumb jokes (sigh is this what are decade of films, especially this year is going to be known for) from Chris "I somehow am an action star" Pratt, it just game a disgusting taste in my mouth. But if you stick it through, there are some passably good moments. The film does a really good job at making you feel nostalgic playing with Lego. Honestly, I remember opening sets of famous movie scenes and telling my brother never to break them or change it (which well... results in all of our bundle of LEGO thrown into a junk pile in our basement). I haven't bought a set for almost 10 years (where I guess video games started to take over and the cost started to become more apparent). When the real jig is revealed though, although I felt myself doing the obligatory sin counter, I just felt this doesn't apply. It's just based on the imagination of a child, similar to my own the logic need not applies. It just reminded me of the days practicing with film stop-motion or even just making the stories with all of the great pieces. It would have been nice to see Pepper from Lego Island make an appearance but maybe like Mario in Wreck It Ralph, it just didn't work so it's fine. Just make him in the sequel. I still think Wreck-It Ralph is a better film, actually being nostalgic and funny without being obnoxious versus this movie's "in your face" attitude. It's just a shame everyone needs to incorporate dubstep, dumb jokes with meta feelings to make it seem "good" and "relavant". The movie does look good, blending the elements of stop motion and computer animation in a unique way, to really clense the pallete of all the boring CGI (despicable mes) of late but still again falls victim to the 'dumb explosions' and "every villain dies" in The Avengers.