The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-man wasn’t really all that amazing, but it was good. The film opens with Peter Parker as a child going into his father’s office and staring at a broken window. The broken window is seen by Peter’s father Richard and he takes Peter to live with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. No reason is given why Richard Parker and his wife needed to leave Peter but one can assume someone wanted science research Richard was working on. Because Peter’s parents never return, Peter feels abandoned and alone. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), now in high school, is a bullied shy geek who take photos for the school newspaper. He is supported by love interest Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and of course throughout the film their connection grows. While cleaning out Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben’s (Martin Sheen) basement Peter finds his father’s briefcase that contains old notes from cross species experiments performed at Oscorp. Peter learns of a man named Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans) who worked with his father on the cross species regeneration of limbs. The discovery of Connor’s existence propels him into sneaking into Oscorp and being bitten by a radioactive spider. Uncle Ben is murdered while Peter is adjusting to his powers and Peter becomes consumed with capturing the criminal who killed his uncle. Meanwhile Dr. Connor’s doses himself with a cross species regeneration chemical that transforms him into the violent creature known as The Lizard. Spider-Man and the Lizard eventually fight for the city and Peter comes to terms with the fact that with great power comes responsibility.

The Amazing Spider-Man is one of those films I feel that could have been better if the action was less frantic and more frequent. I think director Marc Webb was right to focus on Peter’s relationships with other people but I think I would have enjoyed a scene or two where Peter recounted memories of his parents to underline the sadness of such a heroic comic book character. The relationship that I enjoyed the most was Peter’s relationship with Uncle Ben. I loved how understanding Uncle Ben was of Peter being such a loner. He understood fundamentally that Peter was hurting because he was having to grow up without his parents. Ben knew Peter needed love and knew how to give him the space he needed. The relationship between Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker seems genuine but I think it will take another film to truly believe their romantic connection.

In terms of the performances Andrew Garfield brings to Spider-Man the quick-witted humor that seemed to be missing from the original Spider-Man trilogy. Garfield brings across the hurt and loneliness he feels in a very subdued manner and it works because it allows us to feel pity for Peter but also encourages us to root for him to grow as a person as he adjusts to becoming Spider-Man. Emma Stone works best as Gwen Stacy when she is encouraging Peter to keep being a good person. The sparks of love she feels for Peter are played with an intense akwardness that would only work if both actors were younger. I want to make a quick mention of Rhys Ifrans as Dr. Connors. He is fine as a character and he is supportive of Peter’s goals in science but there is nothing unique in his performance.

The defining negative point of my Spider-Man experience is that I never fully became invested in Peter Parker’s journey. Peter became a better person than he was at the start of the film but that change in him seemed glossed over with the exception of a scene involving the Lizard knocking cars over one of New York’s most famous bridges.

As a film, The Amazing Spider-Man is solid but I did not get tangled in this superheroes web as much as I would have liked to be.

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln was an honest man and I plan to continue that honest tradition by telling you that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was a fun movie that is all it ever needed to be.

When he was a child, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) witnessed the murder of a family member at the hands of a vampire. Like it did with Batman, this murder sets Abe on a quest to seek justice — in this case against vampires. As with all vigilante movies, the first time Abe faces off with a vampire he gets kicked into next Tuesday. A patron of the bar he was in just before the fight steps in and saves him from death. Abe wakes up the next day in this person’s house and his protector is introduced to him as Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), a fellow who, like Abe, lost everything when a vampire killed his girlfriend in front of him.

Abe asks to be trained by Henry and the two form an unlikely friendship with Abe taking out evil vampires with an ax, one bloodsucker at a time. Abe, like Bruce Wayne, also has to manage a love life with Mary Todd, who is also being pursued by Jefferson Davis.

After killing many vampires, Abe decides that he wants to practice law, which eventually leads to him entering politics and becoming president. When a vampire kills Abe’s only son and also uses vampires to help the South win the Civil War, Abe decides “four score” is too long to wait, and decides that the vampires’ leader, Adam, (Rufus Sewell) must be stopped.

I was prepared to hate this movie. I assumed that the visual effects would be there solely as an attempt to mask the fact that this film has no story. I was wrong. This film has a strong cast of actors doing a good job at representing historical and literary characters, and that serves to basically take this movie from average to good. That being said, Benjamin Walker does not come into his own until Abe Lincoln reaches his presidency.

Mary Todd is played with exceptional grace by Mary-Elizabeth Winstead. She is the unsung hero of this film because she has to put up with her husband hiding the fact that he hunts vampires for almost the entire film.

My main problem with this film is that we didn’t get enough time with Abraham Lincoln as a child. We literally see two moments of aggression from him as a child and we are supposed to assume that those two moments propelled him into the profession of vampire hunting. I wanted to see him be sad because he can’t get advice from his mother or skip out on school and be a loner because he had no maternal guidance. Either of those would have given me the slight level of depth that I wanted the film to have.

My other problem with the film is that I didn’t believe Adam’s motivation for being a villian. Adam wanted vampires to have the same equal treatment as humans. I think that ties in well with the Emancipation Proclamation, but I would have rather seen Adam with an “I’m evil just because I can be” attitude. In the film, Adam has no reason to hate Abe other than the fact that Abe gets in the way of his plans. He has no reason to be evil. He doesn’t hate people.

The film was directed by Timur Bekmambetov, who also directed Wanted with James McAvoy. The screenplay was written by Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of the novel on which the film is based. The director’s visual flare is evident, but it does not distract Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter from being a good film about a great president.

 

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