REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

CAST

Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
Emma Stone (Easy A)
Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Dane DeHaan (Life After beth)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Felicity Jones (Rogue One)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Campbell Scott (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Marton Csokas (The Equalizer)
Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold)
Skyler Gisondo (Vacation)
Stan Lee (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Denis Leary (Rescue Me)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Michael Massee (Flashforward)

In 2000, Oscorp scientist Richard Parker records a video message to explain his disappearance. Later, he and his wife, Mary, are aboard a private jet hijacked by a man sent to assassinate Richard. The plane crashes, killing both Richard and Mary, after he uploads the video.Fourteen years later, Richard’s son Peter continues to fight crime as Spider-Man. He pursues and apprehends Aleksei Sytsevich. Later, Peter meets with Gwen at their high school graduation ceremony and, insisting he keep his vow to her father, ends their relationship. Peter’s childhood friend, Harry Osborn, returns to Manhattan to see his terminally-ill father, Norman, CEO of OsCorp. Norman explains his illness is genetic, and Harry is at the age where it first develops. Norman gives Harry a small device he claims contains his life’s work. The next day, Norman dies and Harry is appointed the new OsCorp CEO.While working in an OsCorp laboratory, electrical engineer Max Dillon shocks himself by accident and falls into a tank of genetically-engineered electric eels. They attack him, and he mutates into a living electric generator. Meanwhile, Peter attempts to maintain a friendship with Gwen, but she reveals that she may move to England for schooling. Before they can discuss it, Dillon wanders into Times Square, accidentally causing a blackout, and is stopped by Peter after a battle. Dillon is taken to Ravencroft Institute, where he is studied by German scientist Dr. Kafka. Meanwhile, the first symptoms of Harry’s illness are showing, and he uses the device Norman gave him to deduce that Spider-Man’s blood could help save him. He asks Peter, who has been selling photos of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle, to aid him in finding Spider-Man. Peter refuses, unsure of what effects the transfusion would have. Although he later comes to Harry as Spider-Man, he still refuses, and Harry develops an intense hatred towards Spider-Man. The OsCorp board-members, in particular the vice-president, Donald Menken, frame Harry for covering up Dillon’s accident, remove him as CEO, overthrow him and take control of Oscorp. Harry’s assistant, Felicia Hardy, informs him of equipment that could help him, so he makes a deal with Dillon, who now calls himself “Electro,” to get him back inside the OsCorp building. There he finds a suit of armour and other equipment made by Norman, as well as venom from the now-destroyed genetically-altered spiders. The venom accelerates Harry’s illness and transforms him into a goblin-like creature, but the suit’s built-in emergency protocol restores his health and cures his disease.Peter uses information left by his father to locate the video message in an abandoned subway station’s hidden lab. Richard explains he had to leave because he refused to cooperate with Norman’s biogenetic weaponization plans. Peter then hears a voicemail from Gwen, telling him she was offered the British scholarship and is heading to the airport earlier than expected. He manages to catch her and professes his love for her, and, vowing to go wherever she goes, they agree to go to England together. Electro causes another blackout, and Peter heads off to fight him as Spider-Man. Gwen follows, and together they restore power and overload Electro’s body, killing him.The transformed Harry, who now calls himself “Green Goblin”, arrives equipped with Norman’s armor and weaponry. Upon seeing Gwen, he deduces Spider-Man’s secret identity and, swearing revenge for being refused the blood transfusion, kidnaps her and takes her to the top of a clock tower. Peter manages to defeat the Green Goblin, but his webbing breaks during the battle and Gwen falls to her death. Peter, depressed and distraught, mourns over Gwen’s death and ends his career as Spider-Man. Five months later, Harry is coping with the aftereffects of his transformation while incarcerated at Ravencroft. His associate, Gustav Fiers, visits Harry and the pair discuss forming their own team. Harry orders Fiers to start with Sytsevich. Later an unknown team of men break Sytsevich out of prison. Equipped with electromechanical suit armor, Sytsevich calls himself the Rhino and rampages through the streets. Peter, inspired by Gwen’s graduation speech, resumes his role as Spider-Man and confronts him.The Amazing Spider-Man 2 nearly earns an honest emotional response over this pairing. The writing could be better, but Garfield and Stone do an excellent job selling their roles and this movie. I am a big fan of Stone, and she elevates Garfield’s already solid performance. Webb does not quite find the balance between this drama and spectacle, and the film understandably includes a number of rollicking action sequences. The visual effects are strong, but the bullet-time slow motion feels a bit stale. There is a lot of flash to these bits, but not much substance. This is an entertaining film that could be better.

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REVIEW: DEVIL’S KNOT

CAST

Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Martin Henderson (The Ring)
Elias Koteas (Shutter Island)
Dane DeHaan (Life After Beth)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer)
Amy Ryan (Gone baby Gone)
Matt Letscher (Legends of Tomorrow)
Stephen Moyer (True Blood)
James Hamrick (Dive)
Seth Meriwether (The Duff)
Kristopher Higgins (In Time)
Mirelle Enos (World War Z)

In 1993, in the working class community of West Memphis, Arkansas, three eight-year-old boys – Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore – go missing from their neighborhood. After an extensive search, their bound and beaten bodies are found the next day. The community and the police department are convinced that the murders are the work of a satanic cult, due to the violent and sexual natures of the crime.A month later, three teenagers – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. – are arrested after Misskelley confesses following approximately 12 hours of interrogation. They are taken to trial, where Baldwin and Misskelley are sentenced to life, and Echols to death, all the while still proclaiming their innocence.Overall, the movie is a good, well-constructed drama and a reasonably fair representation of the case–albeit far from a perfect one. It’s worth seeing and entertaining but not a film for kids to see because of the subject matter.

 

REVIEW: CHRONICLE

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CAST

Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Alex Russell (Bait)
Michael B. Jordan (Fantastic Four)
Michael Kelly (Man of Steel)
Ashley Hinshaw (LOL)
Anna Wood (Negative Space)

In February 2012, Seattle teenager Andrew Detmer starts videotaping his life; his mother Karen is dying of cancer and his alcoholic father Richard, a former firefighter, is verbally and physically abusive. At school, Andrew is frequently bullied.Andrew’s cousin Matt Garetty invites him to a party to help him meet people, but Andrew’s filming causes an altercation with an attendee and he leaves disappointed. He is persuaded by popular student Steve Montgomery to record something strange that he and Matt have found in the woods. The trio enter a hole in the ground, where they hear a loud strange noise and discover a large glowing blue crystalline object which turns red, and gives them painful nosebleeds. As the crystalline object begins to react violently, the camera cuts out. Weeks later, Andrew, Matt, and Steve record themselves as they display telekinetic abilities, but begin bleeding from their noses when they overexert themselves. They develop a close friendship and begin using their abilities to play pranks, but when Andrew telekinetically pushes a rude motorist off the road and into a river, Matt insists that they restrict the use of their powers, particularly against living things.When they discover flight abilities, they agree to fly around the world together after graduation. Andrew wants to visit Tibet because of its peaceful nature. Steve encourages him to enter the school talent show to gain popularity. Andrew amazes his fellow students by disguising his powers as an impressive magic act. After the show, Andrew, Matt and Steve celebrate at a house party where Andrew becomes the center of attention. After drinking with his classmate Monica, she and Andrew go upstairs to have sex, but he vomits on her, humiliating both of them. Andrew becomes increasingly withdrawn and aggressive, culminating when his father, Richard, attacks him and Andrew uses his powers to overwhelm him. His outburst is so extreme that it inflicts psychically connected nosebleeds on Steve and Matt. While Matt ignores the nosebleed, Steve flies up to Andrew in the middle of a storm and tries to console him. However, Andrew grows increasingly frustrated, and Steve is suddenly struck by a lightning bolt and killed. At Steve’s funeral, Matt confronts Andrew about the suspicious circumstances of Steve’s death. Andrew denies responsibility to Matt, but he privately begs for forgiveness at Steve’s grave.Andrew grows distant from Matt and again finds himself ostracized at school. After being bullied, he uses his powers to rip a few teeth out of a bully’s mouth. Andrew begins to identify himself as an apex predator, rationalizing that he should not feel guilt for using his powers to hurt those weaker than himself. When his mother’s condition deteriorates, Andrew uses his powers to steal money for her medicine. After mugging a local gang, he robs a gas station where he inadvertently causes an explosion that puts him in the hospital with significant burns, and under police investigation. At his bedside, his father informs the unconscious Andrew that his mother has died, and he angrily blames Andrew for her death. As his father is about to strike him, Andrew awakens and the wall of his hospital room explodes.At a birthday party, Matt experiences a nosebleed and senses Andrew is in trouble. He and his girlfriend, Casey, go to the hospital, where Andrew is floating outside. After saving Richard when Andrew attempts to kill him, Matt confronts his cousin at the Space Needle and tries to reason with him, but Andrew grows hostile and irrational at any perceived attempt to control him. Andrew attacks Matt and the pair fight across the city, crashing through buildings and hurling vehicles. When police shoot Matt in the arm, Andrew throws dozens of police (and their cars) through the air, and then uses his powers to destroy the buildings around him, threatening hundreds of lives. Unable to get through to his cousin and left with no other choice, Matt then kills Andrew by telekinetically impaling him with a spear from a nearby statue. The police soon surround Matt but he flies away. Later, Matt lands in Tibet with Andrew’s camera. Speaking to the camera while addressing Andrew, Matt tearfully vows to use his powers for good and to find out what happened to them in the hole. He positions the camera to view a Tibetan monastery in the distance before flying away, leaving the camera behind.It is a great little film with some unexpected surprises along the way, one definitely worth getting the popcorn out for and you will be glued to it.

 

31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: LIFE AFTER BETH

CAST

Aubrey Plaza (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
John C. Reilly (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Molly Shannon (Wet Hot American Summer)
Cheryl Hines (Waitress)
Paul Reiser (Aliens)
Matthew Gray Gubler (500 Days of Summer)
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)

After his girlfriend Beth Slocum (Aubrey Plaza) dies, Zach Orfman (Dane DeHaan) is left devastated. He begins to spend time with Beth’s parents Maury (John C. Reilly) and Geenie (Molly Shannon) as a source of comfort. Zach confesses to Maury that he and Beth were having problems in their relationship; Maury advises him not to let the end of the relationship define it.
The Slocums stop contacting Zach. Confused, he goes to their house and sees Beth through a window. Zach yells at the Slocums to let him in but his brother Kyle, a security officer, escorts him off the premises. At home, Zach’s manic demeanor and strange comments that Beth is alive causes his parents, Judy and Noah, to worry. That night, Zach breaks in and discovers that Beth’s parents have been hiding her. A heated argument ensues before Zach storms off. Later, he goes to Beth’s grave and sees a large hole in its place. He confronts Geenie and Maury with this and they explain that, after the funeral, Beth suddenly reappeared, seemingly alive and well. Beth’s parents are reluctant to let her leave the house, especially during daytime, and refuse to tell her that she died. When Zach takes Beth on a daytime date in the park, she gets blisters on her face, apparently from the sun. Maury bans Zach from the Slocum house and seeing Beth, but Zach continues to sneak in.
Zach starts to notice people around town acting similarly to Beth, who has grown increasingly violent and has mood swings; he also discovers smooth jazz can calm her down. He also notes that Beth and people like her are stronger now than when they were living humans. Zach brings Beth to her grave and informs her of her death and resurrection, then tries to break up with her, only for her to angrily run off with his car. Zach walks home and discovers his family members shocked by the sudden reappearance of his dead grandfather. Maury picks up Zach and tells him that Beth is extremely upset, insisting that Zach tell her that he lied about her death and promise to be with her forever; Zach reluctantly agrees.
Zach’s attempts to talk to Beth fail. When she eats a bystander, he drives away, with her in the car. Maury catches them, knocks Zach unconscious, and takes Beth. Once he has recovered, Zach heads home, and finds a stranger inside the house and burnt bodies in the backyard. Believing his family dead, Zach packs his bags, and prepares to leave the state. However, he changes his mind and drives back to the Slocum house.
He finds the house is in disarray, with Geenie and Beth in the kitchen. Tied to a stove, Beth has become a full-fledged, bloodthirsty zombie, having eaten Maury and bitten off Geenie’s hand. Zach convinces Geenie to leave, then calms Beth by promising to hike with her like she always asked him to. They run into Kyle, who has gone hunting zombies. He reveals that their parents are still alive, having escaped to a safehouse. Kyle gives Zach his handgun, reminding him that Beth is suffering. On their hike, Zach and Beth stop by a cliff. He tearfully apologizes to her for never doing the things she wanted when she was still alive. They say “I love you” to each other, and Zach shoots her in the head.

Zach is reunited with his family at the safehouse, along with a traumatized Erica (Anna Kendrick), who was forced to kill her own grandmother. The survivors make plans to leave town but, suddenly, the power returns and a TV news story shows things inexplicably going back to normal. Zach visits the graves of Beth and Maury, leaving Beth’s scarf on her tombstone, and a knight chess piece on Maury’s. Zach’s mom picks him up in her car, with Erica in the backseat. Zach invites Erica for dinner and she accepts, smiling as they drive off.

This was an interesting take on the zombie genre. There were numerous humorous moments in this dark comedy as well as missed opportunities. Aubrey played the zombie aspect with decaying brain function very well.