7.30.2012

TRILOGY TIME PART 1: The Journey Begins.

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With the release of the newest and final installment in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy (is that the official name we're calling it?) people have been quick to label it "the best trilogy ever." Hold your horses! I think a few beloved cinema trilogies have something to say about that. And so, Emily declared that there would be......A BATTLE OF THE TRILOGIES. A fight to the death to prove each ones greatness. The fiirrrrst annnnnuallll HUNNNNNGER GAMES. (Wait. that's not on this list!) Okay, I'll admit...it's not much of a fair fight since I already have a huge bias and anyone that knows me already knows which series I'm going to pick. So I'll do my best to actually give reasons for why it wins in my eyes and besides.. the fight for second place should be interesting right?....right??? Plus I'll break these up into interesting categories that will make it not only easier to compare, but  to debate each of the factors amongst yourselves. AND I'm including my first ever polls, so even if you disagree, you can have your say too. I have a lot to say, so fittingly I'm going to spare you a giant post, and instead split it into THREE POSTS. (See what I did there?) Also right now I gotta give props to Amelia for creating all of the great banners you'll be seeing in this 3 parts series.

Now when trying to decide which series deserved inclusion I decided I needed some sort of criteria. Firstly I needed to have seen the series right? No brainer. So if you're wondering why famous, well reviewed trilogies such as The Godfather and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (which apparently that trilogy is called The Dollars Trilogy) aren't here it's because I have unfortunately not seen them. Next it was a matter of deciding which trilogies were actually contenders. Both Spider-man and X-men had two fantastic installments to their trilogies, but their third chapters both fell a bit short. So I decided that each movie in their respective trilogies needed to be well received both by the people as well as the critics. (By this criteria, I'm going to leave the Star Wars prequel trilogy out of this, because I don't want to ignite the hater flame. Also I will admit, I am cheating with the Back to the Future trilogy because the second one doesn't have the greatest score on rottentomatoes, but I wanted it to compete anyway. Also cheating by including Indiana Jones since its illegitimate sequel came along...but we'll just pretend it doesn't exist... ) So without further ado, let's rumble. The movies that made it into contention are these: The Dark Knight trilogy, Toy Story trilogy, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Back to the Future trilogy, Indiana Jones trilogy, and finally the Star Wars trilogy. We'll go by category.

MAIN HERO:



BATMAN. First up is Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman. The dark knight is very heroic and very cool. He is definitely someone that pretty much the entire male gender, at any age, wishes they could be (and possibly pretends to be when no one is looking.) He is strong,courageous and never gives up. He's also very handsome. I definitely think I prefer him as Bruce even though he is very cool as Batman...Bruce is the humanity and I love that. I know I use the word a lot, but he does have a very good screen presence too...definitely the presence of a hero.

WOODY. I really only consider him to be the full protagonist in the first film, because after that he and Buzz become equal leaders. In fact, I must be honest...I have kind of come to prefer Buzz to Woody as THE hero. Woody's plight in the first film is definitely relatable, but not all that honorable if that makes sense at all. Even in the second one after he is supposed to have learned all these lessons from the first movie, he still kind of has his selfish moments. Thankfully in 3 I think he is a true hero. Hanks does a good job bringing him to life, but obviously his character is in a different league entirely than the rest of his competition, so it's hardly comparable.....but for his films he is very good.

FRODO. Okay here's another one that is technically the main hero of the story, but to me isn't the TRUE hero (that title easily goes to Sam.) Frodo, is portrayed as very human and incredibly flawed when under the power of the ring...rather ironic since he's a hobbit right? We see him tested emotionally and mentally by his burden, and sometimes he doesn't always make the best choices. In fact it seems that in his final moment of truth....the moment he'd been waiting for the entire trilogy... he failed. But luckily, his loyal friend was there to help make things right (that and a crazed Gollum who inadvertently did the right thing through all his selfishness.) Easy for me to call him weak as I wasn't in his shoes, and thankfully unless some weird shiz goes down and I get transported to Middle Earth, I won't ever be. But I will say his determination is admirable. He probably would have had an easier time if his task was a littler simpler.. say something like this:


MARTY MCFLY. He is without a doubt the most relatable, down to earth of our heroes. Michael J. Fox has wonderful comic timing and you cannot picture anyone else in his role and making it work the way he does (whereas the previous heroes I just mentioned maybe could have been played successfully by someone else.) Not only is he the most accessible hero, he is probably the funniest as well. He is a very good hero, but I think a lot of that is more due to luck than himself....meaning if I was in a tiff I'd feel more comfortable with Indy getting me out of the jam than someone like Marty. And that leads us to...




INDIANA JONES. (as said in the same tone Marion uses when she sees him...) I think Indy has the most charisma and screen presence of all our heroes. There is something about Harrison as Indy in these films, and it is magical. Like the previous category, NO ONE could have played him the same way...the movies would not have worked. I know I should be gushing with endless examples about it since he's so awesome...but it's just like a fact. I mean, what else is there to say but Indiana is the man? His character personifies a big screen movie hero and he might just beat out my beloved in the next entry...

LUKE SKYWALKER. I absolutely love Luke Skywalker. I just do. Everything about him, whininess included. I see the most character development in him over the course of his trilogy than compared to all of the other heroes in theirs and he definitely has the most compassion. He sees the best in people and never gives up on them and THAT is a true hero. He's courageous and loyal and will do anything necessary to save the day. But, while I think he is a fantastic hero, it can be a detriment to him that he does have to compete for attention with Harrison Ford's Han Solo (full of just as much charisma as his Indiana Jones) at times...and doesn't always win in that matchup (even if he is my favorite character overall..) Therefore...I'd say they winner is:

WINNER: INDIANA JONES.





Who is your favorite movie Trilogy hero?
Batman/Bruce Wayne
Woody
Frodo
Marty McFly
Indiana Jones
Luke Skywalker
I can't pick one!
Other
Create your own poll
VILLAINS:  



DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY: The Batman trilogy has an array of some very impressive and solid villains. From Batman Begins we have Liam Neeson's Ras Al Guhl, Tom Wilkinson's Carmine Falcone, and Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow. All are great, I particularly thought Cillian's Scarecrow was horrifying and only wish he had more screentime and was better used in the sequels. The Dark Knight gave us the unforgettable and oscar-winning performance of Heath Ledger. His Joker was downright chilling. It is a travesty he died for many reasons, but I can't help but wonder how different (and possibly better) the finale would have been had he been in it. TDK also features the strong performance of Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent and later, his alter ego: Two Face. I think he did a great job and wished we would have gotten to see more of his villainous side. Finally in The Dark Knight Rises we have Bane and [spoiler] Talia Al Guhl. [/spoiler] Both are very effective I would say, and Bane's brute strength is terrifying in its own way...but perhaps not as effective as the psychological damage that the Joker does, in my opinion. I enjoyed the villains in each installment (and switching up villains is a very comic book thing to do so I definitely understand why they did..), but as far as trilogies go....I think I prefer it when there's one central threat that ties the three films together ie the Empire or Sauron.


TOY STORY TRILOGY: In the first film we have Sid, a punk kid from next door whose hobby it is to destroy toys. For an animated film I think he is a very effective villain and much better than the villains they had for the sequels. Actually I don't mind Stinky Pete, the prospector...but what I don't like is how the villain in 3 feels like a carbon copy of him. Oh... the seemingly nice short and stalky toy you don't expect to, turns out to have a dastardly plot of keeping the toys apart all this time! The second installment also features Wayne Knight as Al, the toy collector and he would certainly be seen as a villain too, even if a somehwat comical one. The villains in Toy Story serve their purpose, but aside from Sid aren't all that memorable.


LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY: There are two main villains in the Lord of the Rings trilogy...but I don't really see them as characters, (especially Sauron..) so much as representations of pure evil in the form of corruption and greed. Due to the rings power, the threat we feel from them always feels urgent and real. Aside from Sauron, you also have all of the creepy people doing his bidding. Orcs, ring wraths, a witch king and Wormtongue. A lot of creepy people indeed that are very much perfect for the world in which it is set. And oh my gooooosh what am I thinking? I haven't even mentioned Gollum. He's fantastic. He makes this trilogy a true contender too. Creepy little guy..... yet somehow you, like Frodo, want his redemption.


BACK TO THE FUTURE TRILOGY: Biff is a great character. But an incredibly menacing villain? Not really. He's kind of a buffoon that we all love seeing misfortune smile upon. Having him stir up trouble over and over again is fine because I can't really picture anyone else making trouble in the Back to the Future world. Still though...probably not the strongest villain. That's not to say he doesn't have his moments though, but he's more of a douchebag than a terror.





INDIANA JONES TRILOGY: A whole bunch of nazis and some crazies from Temple of Doom. I'm not gonna lie, I could really use a refresher on the Indiana Jones trilogy to be able to say more on this subject. But since I really can't remember toooo much about it, it's hard for me to really argue that this portion is one of the huge strengths. They're good enough and serve their purpose, but don't have the iconicness of the villains in the next category.




STAR WARS TRILOGY: Darth freaking Vader. He is THE villain. The Joker was able to terrify with only a laugh (and seriously, much credit I give him)....but all Vader has to do is breathe to send chills down the audiences spine. He is one of the greatest villains of all time, and I think it's safe to say that he served as a model for many villains thereafter. But what's great about him isn't just how scary he was, but actually how human he was....and that there was more to him than met the eye. He was an evil person that made you actually look at his humanity. He had a family, he had a life before. What made him do what he did? And how could he ever come back? And that's not even getting started with the Emperor from Return of the Jedi. He is absolutely terrifying and incredibly powerful. His cackle, his look, and his love of evil made him one of the greatest villains of all....the pure personification of evil, the cinematic representation of the devil himself almost. Oh and there's also that creepy slimeball Jabba. He's great too. "I know that laugh...."

WINNER: STAR WARS TRILOGY. But Heath, your Joker alone makes the Dark Knight trilogy an incredibly close runner up, with Lord of the Rings coming in third.

What movie trilogy has the best villains?
The Dark Knight Trilogy
The Toy Story Trilogy
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Back to the Future Trilogy
The Indiana Jones Trilogy
The Star Wars Trilogy
I can't choose just one!
Other
Create your own poll

LOVE STORIES & LOVE INTERESTS:




THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY: Yeah. There's a reason I didn't put any incarnation of Rachel Dawes in that heart and you know why. Her and her relationship with Bruce is definitely one of the weakest parts of the trilogy, and unfortunately once she's gone he jumps right into another blah "relationship" with Miranda Tate (okay maybe not right after, first we get his memory of her being his one true love shoved down our throats.) Luckily though a spicy catwoman is there to save the day and actually make it a contender in this category. Her and Bruce have some great chemistry and had she somehow found her way into the second film (or at least had some interactions expanded on in the third more), I think they would have had a pretty decent love story. As it is, the damage Rachel did is too much for the trilogy to overcome and win this category.



TOY STORY TRILOGY. Here we have the established-before-the-film couple of Woody and Bo-Peep. Along the way, Buzz finds love with the cowgirl Jesse. I think both little love stories are cute even if there's not much to them, (minus Bo and Woody's tragic end). The real epic love story here though? Barbie and Ken. Hilariousness ensues.



LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY: The main love story here is Arwen and Aragon (with Eowyn acting as the third point in the triangle in The Two Towers), and in the extended  version we get treated to Eowyn and Faramir. I think I like Arwen and Aragorn best at the very end of Return of the King when Arwen actually shows some vulnerability and humanity. Everything previously was a little too other wordly and zoned out for me to be completely in love with them as a couple...but I do appreciate their scenes. Like I said that last scene of Return of the King is just great. Oh...and Sam marrying that hobbit girl makes me happy too :)



BACK TO THE FUTURE TRILOGY: An array of relationships here. George and Lorraine, Lorraine and Biff, Marty and Jennifer, Marty and Doc, Lorraine with Marty (eep.) Okay I was kidding on the last two....and Biff and Lorraine. Jennifer was always likable, but pre-established relationships aren't as fun to watch as seeing people fall in love. Therefore the strongest love story in the movies is probably Marty's parents. Too bad Crispin wasn't in the sequels. The scene of them at the dance is a great movie moment. Oh and again...not even talking about Clara Clayton and Doc. Bleh. Oh and Marty and his mom? Gives me the heebie jeebies.



INDIANA JONES TRILOGY: A different installment, a different lady for Indy. The James Bond approach. As a female, I gotta admit that isn't my favorite and it kind of cheapens each love story individually. I thought him and Marion had some great scenes, but if he's going to be making out with a blonde nazi a few years later what's the point really? Is he actually capable of loving only one woman? And I gotta say, while many people hated Willie I always found her pretty entertaining and their romance decent....but obviously it didn't last.



STAR WARS TRILOGY: Bingo. At least one of the Harrison's is a loyal guy. I think this is definitely the best love story of the bunch. Han and Leia have great chemistry together and their scenes in Empire is just filled with unresolved tension between the two. Their bantering has just the right amount of sass and sweet and has you rooting for them the entire way through. Plus how quotable is: "I love you." "I know." We will just not even mention the whole Luke/Leia stuff....



WINNER: STAR WARS TRILOGY. I mean come on....they're even a perfect couple in lego form.



Which is your favorite love story from a trilogy?
Bruce and Rachel
Bruce and Selina
Woody and Bo
Buzz and Jessie
Barbie and Ken
Aragorn and Arwen
Marty and Jennifer
George and Lorraine
Indiana and Marion
Indiana and Willie
Han and Leia
I can't pick one!
Other
Create your own poll


Well that's it for part 1....and trust me there's plenty more where that came from. Next installment will be out Wednesday where I'll discuss side characters, plots and worlds. In the meantime, please feel free to share your opinions below on who you picked for each category and why!

7.20.2012

Batman Concludes

NOTE: Highlight the texts to read the spoiler comments.

Hmm. What to say about The Dark Knight Rises? So much to say, but so much to give away by saying.... So let's just start off by saying it wasn't really what I expected at all...and that was both a good thing and a bad thing. I really really realllllly tried keeping my expectations low, and I had heard many people were "let down" or "disappointed." But I was pretty determined to like this movie, and in the end I did a lot. However, I have got to admit that during the course of the movie (particularly in the middle portion) I didn't always think that might be the case... as I found myself sympathizing with a lot of criticisms I had heard. Luckily and thankfully, the end more than made up for everything, and it was a great way to "finish" the series. But I have to say, I think it probably is the weakest of all of the Nolan Batman films (and maybe even out of all of his films...I still have yet to see Insomnia) That's not to say it wasn't good, just that the bar was set incredibly high by its predecessors and Nolan's body of work in general. Still, going in I didn't EXPECT it to be better than The Dark Knight....but it's hard not to have expectations of sheer greatness with the director who just came off of Inception. I might feel differently upon a re-watch, but the biggest problem I have with The Dark Knight Rises is its editing. It could and should have been a much tighter film. Pacing wise, it's all over the place...and that can be a problem with a film that has the kind of ambitions it has.

A part of this ambition comes with trying to juggle the screentime between all the old reliable characters (including a couple of unexpected cameos,) as well as several brand new characters. Midway through I was incredibly frustrated with that, and didn't feel like all of the additions were necessary (I think this frustration, ended up coloring a lot of my feelings towards the movie). Again though, by the end I was proven wrong and really felt that everyone had their place....and was very much delighted by the turns Nolan took us through.  I loved how the film began, right after (well okay 8 years after..) the events of The Dark Knight. Seeing the aftermath of that and how they've all been living was great, you really felt the consequences of the last film. I will say though, that I have heard that Christopher Nolan banned any mention of the Joker out of respect for Heath's performance, but personally I felt like THAT was actually kind of a disservice, not to mention completely out of place for his character to just never be mentioned again. He was responsible for all the mayhem in the last one and no one ever talks about what he did or how he hurt them ever again? He's just swept under the rug? Honestly a simple "At least that crazy clown is rotting over at Arkham asylum" would have been nice. There's a fine line between being mysterious and acting like it never happened...and that's what I felt happened. A minor complaint...but when it's compared to all of the countless freaking Rachel references, (even in death she enrages me!!) it really felt off. Oh and I have to say my favorite Rachel shoe horn was how they used a STILL from The Dark Knight and framed it as a picture that Bruce keeps with him....The picture being one of her sitting at dinner with him. So did some stalker just snap the photo and he found it and framed it? She clearly wasn't posing...

Look familiar? It's because I used it before in my Rachel Dawes hate blog. Maybe Batman just found it on google. Also, I made her picture THAT big because apparently she's more important than the Joker.

But now it's time to get specific! So since I really thought it was a useful method in breaking down my feelings on The Amazing Spider-man, I'm going to use the same approach here and break things down into categories. We'll start with the characters and how well they actors who portrayed them fared, because my feelings towards the characters themselves accurately and collectively depict my feelings on the film itself.

BATMAN/BRUCE WAYNE - CHRISTIAN BALE. Bale, as usual is great once again in the role of the caped crusader. A lot of my problem with the movie comes with the fact that [spoiler] Bruce is taken away from the action for a good chunk of the movie...and I think the movie really suffers for it. Especially since you knowwwww he's just going to return and ahem... rise, so they're just delaying the inevitable. Those bits felt tedious to me, and I never thought I would say this in my LIFE, but I could have used a good montage there instead of dialogue heavy screentime..I know who am I right? [/spoiler] But his Bruce Wayne is as great as ever and I really love him in this role and believe his character had a fitting end. The one thing I missed was his light hearted antics as his billionaire alter-ego. Those scenes in the previous films were some of my favorites...but things have just become too dark here and even the public Bruce Wayne is a different man.

PREVIOUS SIDE CHARACTERS: ALFRED, COMMISSIONER GORDON AND LUCIUS FOX - MICHAEL CAIN, GARY OLDMAN AND MORGAN FREEMAN. They are all solid as usual. Surprisingly, we don't see a whole lot of Alfred who has always traditionally in these films provided the comic relief. Michael Cain is such a great actor that he always can sell anything, but lately when I actually listen to the words he's saying and how often he lectures Bruce I get a little tired of it, so his limited screen time was fine with me. Oldman and Freeman are reliable as usual. No complaints to speak of, but not necessary for me to gush about either. They're good, even if predictable!



BANE - TOM HARDY. I think Tom Hardy did a great job with the role. He was definitely a different type of villain than we've seen Batman face...definitely more of a physical force. I thought his backstory was compelling and his motivations were interesting enough. I had heard a lot of complaints about not being able to understand him, and there were a few moments where I couldn't...but for the most part that wasn't too much of a concern for me. It's interesting to see in these films how much success Nolan actually allows his villains to get away with. The stakes become higher almost every time....and Bane certainly does A LOT of damage. Moreso than any of the villains before him. But he probably still manages to be my least favorite of the Batman film villains....again though, that's speaking more for his competition than against him.

CATWOMAN/SELINA KYLE - ANNE HATHAWAY. I think it will be really interesting to see how most people end up receiving her performance. I personally thought she did a great job, but I don't think she will be the universal slam dunk like Heath Ledger was in his role. I think a factor to that is because a part of what made the Nolan films so great was Batman working alone, and with her he kind of has to share the spotlight a bit. I think she and Bale had pretty good chemistry...in fact probably the best he's had with any female in the series. They had a bit of spunk to their interactions and I enjoyed that. [spoiler] So I'm not going to lie, I was really happy that they end up together. I think she's the best match for him and farrrrr superior to Rachel, I don't even care who you are. While I'm in the spoiler zone I'll say though that I would have liked more build up in their flirtations with each other before she turns good...it would have been a nice angle to play. They really only scratched the surface there. [/spoiler] So yeah, I thought she did just fine in the role and fit in well to the Nolanverse. She was very convincing, and I also have to add that goodness I am jealous of how good her figure looked in that jumpsuit.

JOHN BLAKE - JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT. My boy JGL was one of the real highlights in this movie, and I'm not the only one saying it. I was incredibly surprised and delighted to see how big of a role he actually had. It may have been even bigger than Hathaway's role. As always he is extremely likable and [spoiler] is one of the only actors who could have pulled off the plot twist of him being Robin, and actually have you still be okay with that haha! But they definitely set up a realllly interesting future for him and I hope we actually get to see more of it in other films maybe! [/spoiler] He actually carries a bit of this movie, and he was just very heroic and wonderful. Can't praise this boy enough.

MIRANDA TATE - MARION COTILLARD. Okay this is the hardest one for me to discuss without getting spoilery. So unspoiler tags lets just say that she's a fine actress, but I really felt that her character was kinda poorly handled in the first 3/4ths of the movie. Generic pretty love interest Bruce hooks up with because he's been celibate for far too long (seriously though. possible 8 year gap pining over Rachel after TDK and 7 years in exile during Batman Begins... I guess it makes sense he throws out any sort of build up of a relationship between them and goes straight for the kill...stay classy Batman) What doesn't make sense though is the elevated suspense we are supposed to feel when her character inevitably gets into danger. She needed to be built up a lot more, because her and her relationship with Bruce was garbage. Why are we or Bruce to care THAT much over her well being? HOWEVER [spoiler] a lot more of that made sense when her true character was revealed. I kept saying to myself that she better wind up being Talia Al Ghul or else her character was a complete waste....so luckily she did prove her worth in the end. [/spoiler]


So yeah, I definitely think the movie had a lot going for it....(and that's not even mentioning the fantastic action sequences.) It just may have tried to do too much and as a result was a little sloppy at times. If it could have been a bit smoother and tighter in execution, it would have been close to perfect. I think I'll appreciate it more on a second viewing, knowing fully what to expect....but I do think that the last half an hour or so made up for a lot and was a wonderful finale to a very very good trilogy. (Sorry Kent, still going with Star Wars on this one.) Right nowwwww I think I am going to give it an 8.6, but it has room to grow with a second viewing :) I will leave you with this because it gave me a little bit of a chuckle.



7.17.2012

Coming Soon: Life after Spider-man and Batman

This Friday marks the release of what is to many, the most anticipated film of the year: The Dark Knight Rises. It would be easy to despair at the thought that we don't have much else to look forward to for the rest of the summer, or even year...but with movies there's ALWAYS something to look forward to. In fact, today I realized that many of the people involved in the old Spider-man trilogy have something I'm particularly looking forward to. We'll start with those ones and then lay out others that have caught my eye as well.



Well I mentioned at the beginning of the year how excited I am for Baz Luhrmann's take on The Great Gatsby. Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan star in this one. The trailer was fab....though I hope he keeps the modern music out of it (knowing Baz though he won't...) Though I have to admit, Tobey sure is the last reason I'm excited for this. He also has Life of Pi coming out near the same time so that should be interesting too. I've heard that's a good book and M. Night Shyamalan was supposed to direct it back in his prime. Here's the trailer for Gatsby, coming to theaters Christmas Day. I'm sure we can all look forward to some more Tobeyface.


As for Dunst? She's got quite a few movies in production! I saw a trailer for one that has yet to have a release date...but it looks visually stunning and definitely has me intrigued. It's called Upside Down and seems like another Romeo & Juliet but far more literally, as they live in two different worlds. One in the sky, and one below. It co-stars Jim Sturgess who I just love and I gotta say Kirsten looks really pretty here. Hopefully it can get a release date soon. Apologies for the only trailer I could find had French subtitles! 


Finally Sam Raimi's next project, in which he's re-teaming with Spider-man alum James Franco, has me very intrigued. The project? A prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Sounds pretty risky if you ask me, but there's plenty of story and the cast in addition to Franco is pretty darn talented. Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams? Williams especially seems to be more picky with her roles nowadays, so I'm interested to see what she saw in this one. The trailer looks fun and I'll be very interested in seeing it. Too bad it doesn't come out til next March...but here's your first look.


So I guess there's life after Spider-man, and I'm really happy for all of them that they've got such good projects on the horizon. Hopefully Marc, Emma and Andrew aren't completely tied to Spidey for the next bit either...but so be it if they are :) Now as for other films due out for the rest of the summer...

JULY
THE IMPOSTER: Creeeeeepy documentary about the true story of a teen who goes missing in the mid 90's only to re-appear three years later...or did he? 

THE WATCH: Standard summer comedy featuring the usual likes of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill. In this one they have to deal with an alien invasion! Baha. What WILL these people think of next? The trailer did make me laugh though.

RUBY SPARKS: This is one of my most anticipated. I want to see it soooo badly. The directors of Little Miss Sunshine are back tackling a very Twilight Zone plotline about a man who brings the perfect woman, his own character he created for a novel, to life. It looks charming and I can't wait for when I'll actually be able to see it. Hopefully the trailer hasn't ruined me already...


AUGUST
TOTAL RECALL: Okay I've never seen the original, but the trailer for the new one definitely had potential. It did kind of look like a bizarro Minority Report...but since I loved that movie I'm okay with that for now...

THE CAMPAIGN: This didn't look like the best Will Ferrell film (it's been awhile hasn't it?) But Gallifanakis' voice kinda cracked me up. We'll see how well they do poking fun at politics....(even if it is in red box hah)

HOPE SPRINGS: This movie has got "mom" written all over it. Middle aged couple hoping to rekindle the intimacy. Let's be honest though, Meryl is a pretty amazing actress and can make anything watchable. Plus her and Tommy Lee Jones make a surprisingly, believable couple.

COMPLIANCE: Another Sundance film based on true events that looks like a pretty disturbing portrait of human nature.

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN: I feel like I've seen posters for this one for ages. Basically it's like Mary Poppins except its parents wishing for the perfect child and then he shows up on their doorstep. It looks very family friendly...hopefully it's endearing rather than too precious...if you know what I mean.

PREMIUM RUSH: JGL. Need I say more? Fine... Michael Shannon from Take Shelter is in this too. JGL is a bike messenger being chased for info blah blah blah... yes this could be generic...but hopefully the good cast makes up for it.

ROBOT AND FRANK: Another quirky Sundance pick. This one with Frank Langella and a Robot! From what I gathered from the trailer he uses the robot in a nice, good ole fashioned grift.

Well that will close out the movies of summer. I'll have to do a fall/winter list soon too...just hopefully not too soon :( I love my summers. Now, if you're really feeling the Batman fever feel free to read over my Batman Begins blog again (or rather, my Rachel Dawes rant) found HERE or my Dark Knight blog found HERE. Not sure if I'll get to posting my Nolan tribute blog before the release of The Dark Knight Rises. But maybe I'll do another Batman ramblings blog before then if I can...

7.14.2012

Battle of the Spider-men

Okay, I'm gonna say this right now. This is gonna be LOOOOOOOOOONG. So if you can't stomach the whole thing you can just read whatever categories that fit your fancy.

Earlier this week I watched Sam Raimi's Spider-man (2002) with full intentions of writing my comparison post right away. After I was finished though, I was just as confused as ever (haha yet with clarity!) that I felt I should watch the 2012 remake one more time in hopes of really solidifying my opinion one way or another. So I watched it in the drive-in last night (accompanied with Men In Black 3, which I fell asleep during and became INCREDIBLY delirious afterwards...) and what did I find? Well for one thing, drive-ins really aren't the best environment for me to really be focused on a film because I get incredibly distracted with all the other movies playing around and the screens are so small that you can't really clearly see the action. That kind of effected the rewatchability for me...but I blame the setting, not the movie.  I still would love to see it again in a big nice theater in 3D. But besides all that....as a whole, I'm afraid I still can't say one way or another which one is  definitely the better movie because I absolutely love both. But I CAN break it up category by category which is what I shall do.


PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN: Tobey Maguire vs. Andrew Garfield. As I said in my previous post, I never really had a problem with Tobey Maguire in the original films. He worked for the films he was in and made a very cartoonish super-hero, which happened to convey the exact tone that Sam Raimi was gong for. What I don't care for? His voice, and his ugly crying face. And that as Peter, he has no sex appeal whatsoever (the one exception I'll grant him is where he sees his physical transformation haha) I understand he's not the cool guy in school, but was he the biggest nerd ever in the comics? I don't know maybe he was, I'm no comic expert. But I much preferred that Andrew Garfield came across as completely relatable; the ultimate everyman. Just a guy you'd know, yet better because he was somehow full of this irresistible confidence and charisma. That didn't make him the popular guy in school, it just showed him as a guy who knew himself really well and  knew what he wanted. He is absolutely 100% likable in this role and I haven't met a single person who thought otherwise. He just shines in this role and it's in a completely natural way. Tobey was perfectly good in his movies, but Andrew MAKES his movie and I don't know if that's necessarily true in the other films. So for me, Andrew takes this one by a long shot. Can't wait to see more of him. WINNER: ANDREW GARFIELD, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.


LOVE INTEREST: Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson vs. Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy. I pretty well already knew the answer to this one BEFORE even needing to rewatch the original Spider-man, but boy howdy was it ever solidified when I did. I never thought Kirsten was a particularly strong aspect of the movies, (like OMG you need to watch Kirsten in this, she makes an AMAZING heroine,) but I always thought she and her character were decent enough. Watching it again though? Oh man, why does anyone even like this girl? She flits from boy to boy without even a care and barely shows a personality at all besides being completely shallow (even if she has a soft spot for that old bag Aunt May.) She seems completely disinterested in Peter the entire time except when he's showering her with compliments (either given to her, or to Spider-man ABOUT her.) She kisses Spider-man while she's still dating Harry...in fact she never really has the decency to break up with Harry at all. And suddenly throughout it all she discovers that all along she's loved Peter? Bull. She loves the attention she GETS from Peter. And I've found that the line "I thought...I hope I live through this...so I can see Peter Parker's face one more time," is my new favorite thing to mock. Kirsten isn't really that bad..but she's not that good, and her character is kind of terrible. Why are we rooting for them to get together again? Emma Stone, on the other hand, is wonderful. She just has such a freshness about her and seems completely down to earth. She exudes her personality on screen with every movie she's in and it makes sense why both Peter and the real Andrew Garfield would fall for her. She, like Andrew give entirely REAL performances and they work together incredibly well. She plays her part very well and is NEVER annoying. Quite the feat for that kind of role. WINNER: EMMA STONE, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.



VILLAIN: Willem Dafoe's Norman Osborn/Green Goblin vs. Rhys Ifans' Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard. This one is kind of a tough one for me. I really really think that Rhys Ifans has a great presence as an actor and I really like what he did with his role. He certainly had a lot more humanity as a villain, and much better motives. But Willem is probably one of the biggest highlights of the first Spider-man. He has a great advantage over Ifans too since he gets to show more personality when he is in villain mode, whereas for Ifans  it is like almost as if he is turning into a werewolf and has no control over who he is...he just becomes a hulking beast. I mean it's true he does remain himself a little, but when Osborn turns into the Green Goblin he becomes an entirely different person and his villain is pretty incredible. Very cartoony, and again that was the tone wanted, but he just works. He's a fun villain and he's completely dynamic. Dafoe probably gives the best performance in the whole film and is a huge key to the film's success. WINNER: WILLEM DAFOE, SPIDER-MAN.



UNCLE BEN: Cliff Robertson vs. Martin Sheen. I really liked what both of these guys brought to their roles.  Robertson has pretty limited screentime, but he just has a really neat presence to him. His authority IS something you'd probably really listen to and would stay with you. Sheen on the other hand, like the rest of the cast does just seem like a really nice man that you would know. He shows some nice humor, but is also really strict and you'd see a lot more in this one why he and Peter would occasionally have conflict. It's really tough and I'm tempted to just give it a draw...but I think if I'd have to give the edge it would probably be to Robertson because it is impressive how much he does with so little. WINNER: CLIFF ROBERTSON, SPIDER-MAN.

 

AUNT MAY: Rosemary Harris vs. Sally Field. This category almost completely sums up the differences of the movies as a whole. Cartooney old woman (seriously why is his aunt so old? was there a 20 year gap between siblings and these were the only people you could get to take care of your son??) vs. down to earth mother figure that everyone feels like they really know. Rosemary Harris was probably more integrated into the plot and had more to do, and for her part she's fine. She is exactly what they wanted. But there really is something about Sally Field that you can't not just love. She seems so genuine and that always shines through in any role she plays. She's very warm and real and I think that sums up the tone of the whole movie in general. So even if she doesn't have much to do, I think I prefer that take. WINNER: SALLY FIELD, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.



OTHER SIDE CHARACTERS: James Franco's Harry Osborn and J.K. Simmons' J. Jonah Jameson vs. Dennis Leary's Captain Stacy. Okay none of these are really fair comparisons but since there weren't two sets of all of them and they're all worth talking about I decided to pit them against each other anyway. I think all are really great. Dennis Leary has a really great presence and I really like what he brought to The Amazing Spider-man. I've always enjoyed James Franco and I think it was unfortunate that there wasn't a Harry in TASM, but I can see why they wouldn't since they didn't want it to be an exact duplicate (and honestly while they're are a lot of similarities between the two stories, I really do see these FILMS as being very different..I really don't get the ripoff claims about that.) But rivaling the excellent Dafoe performance I talked about earlier, is Simmons' J. Jonah Jameson. He is fantastic and absolutely hilarious. Throughout the Spider-man trilogy he has always been solid and one of the best parts. In fact, he might be the hardest role to try and replace in the new franchise. Amelia pointed out that one of the nice things about the new one was that the story was pretty contained over a certain period of time that we were always clear about, while the original spanned who knows how long. So it makes sense the environment of the Daily Bugle doesn't appear in the new universe yet, but it definitely was one of the best parts about the original. WINNER: SPIDER-MAN

 

DIRECTOR'S TOUCH & TONE: Sam Raimi vs. Marc Webb. Okay this is probably the hardest category for me, because again these sum up each film entirely. Basically this is funny too, it's pitting the directors of my top two films in 2009 against each other. Drag Me to Hell (my number 2) vs. (500) Days of Summer. What's a girl to do? It's funny because in actuality, those films in a nutshell accurately describe the tones and touches of each director and what they brought to those projects as well as Spider-man. Raimi's films were very much comic book superhero movies and they were down right fun. Webb's version is very down to earth, fresh and has a realness to it that I myself find irresistible. Obviously back in 2009 I made my choice and chose real over fun, but when it comes to Spider-man? It's a lot harder for me to do. I feel like both approaches work beautifully and bring different things to the story. Both directors are absolutely skilled and I think I can say I equally love both visions. I myself would probably fall more along the line of preferring realism, but objectively I have to say they both are really good. So this one is a tie... WINNER: DRAW.


BACKSTORY: The intriguing story of what happened to Peter's parents (which his parents were not even mentioned once throughout the other trilogy) vs.. what backstory? Uh that he's been a nerdy kid living with his aunt and uncle and crushing on the girl next door his whole life? I'll take the new one. And I'm really excited to see where this storyline goes in the sequels. WINNER: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

GETTING THE POWERS: Okay in the Raimi version we have Peter on a field trip, distractedly taking pictures of Mary Jane and a spider comes out of nowhere and bites him. We briefly hear the person guiding the tour telling that the spiders have been mutated or some such nonsense, but is anyone really paying that attention? And why are these spiders out in the open like this for high schoolers to see? Not all that believable. In the new one, the spiders are kept far away from the average high schooler and after some major snooping he comes across them. But the real reason it's better in the new one is that it actually explains WHY those spiders are the way they are, and Peter is actually tied into it. Therefore getting powers from that bite is a bit more believable too. Oh and I like how the villain gets the powers better in this one too, and how they're kind of intertwined. WINNER: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.




DISCOVERY OF POWERS: This one is pretty interesting to me because they really did this quite differently. Both woke up to find the powers, but both woke up in completely different situations. In the original Spider-man it was that little by little he noticed things were different, but VERY different. He learned stuff line upon line, if you will. In the new one, he woke up in a really weird setting and ACTED like a predator if threatened. And it was hysterical. I feel like both films did a really good job of sharing the joy with the audience of such discoveries. They're just different in how they did so. I liked both equally I think. WINNER: DRAW.


 


LEARNING HOW TO USE THE POWERS: This was one of my favorite sequences in Spider-man and I think part of the reason it became so classic. It really has the benefit over the new one in having established some things so well, and this was one of them. Watching him master his powers was definitely one of the best parts of that movie, and while I think it is very well done in the new one...this is one of the areas that is definitely hard not to compare and think how well it was done before. WINNER: SPIDER-MAN.

LOSING BEN: The argument that kind of leads to the accident, in the older film definitely feels a bit more staged (like who could really get mad at Cliff Robertson anyway?) but in the new one Andrew Garfield really sells the argument he has with Martin Sheen.You believe his anger for sure. The way this sequence is intercut definitely creates more suspense because we can sense something is coming (even though most people already knew there was having known the story and seen the other one) Whereas in the old one he just comes back after his wrestling match and sees the consequences of helping the crook get away. It's effective, but I don't think its as effective as seeing him get killed before our eyes. I'll admit that the scenes of them letting the crooks go are eerily similar, but for the death I give the edge to Amazing. Plus you could feel the real tragedy when Aunt May is told I think. Also  the original had the crying Tobey face so... WINNER: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.


 


CHOOSING TO DON THE MASK/BECOMING A SUPERHERO: In the original he begins first with the brief wrestling stint with his noble desire to win money to impress Mary Jane, but after Ben's death heeds his powerful "with great power, comes great responsibility" line. Thus a superhero is born. Pretty sweet and simple. In The Amazing Spider-man, after Ben's death he definitely gets thrown into it and is on the quest to find the killer, since unlike the original, this one got away. Along the way he discovers he needs to help people, he doesn't go right into that like in the original...and I think it makes a little bit more sense. We see a little more clearly the thought process he goes to in becoming a full blown hero, and it's a lot less montagey. The idea of a costume feels a little more realistic (especially in the looks of said costume. the one in the original is pretty flashy for some dude to have just made himself.) I think both are well done, the original is simple and to the point...it doesn't waste much time which is nice. But the new one we can clearly see his train of thought and motivations a little bit more clearly I think. WINNER: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.




LOVE STORY:  I covered this a little bit earlier in the love interest section. But watching the original again, dang... Peter and MJ sure have some corny scenes. There is a sweetness to them, but you really never feel like MJ cares that much besides being flattered. Insert Shirley from Community uttering "oh that's NICE." Why do we want to see them together? Well because Peter wants her. Okay, well why does Peter want her? GOOD QUESTION. In The Amazing Spider-man their scenes are so unbelievably real and you can just see their connection deepen and blossom. Marc Webb completely got it in 5DOS and nails it again here. But it also helps that they've got an incredible chemistry. You can just feel that these two want to be together. What makes it win here is that it's MUTUAL the whole time and that's clearly shown. I seriously loved every scene between them and can't wait to see what happens in the sequels. (And I will say that MJ does improve in Spidey 2, but since we're not talking about that one...) WINNER: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

 


KISS: Okay there's no way around it. That kiss in the rain is purely iconic and has become one of those famous movie moments. Cinematically, it is very beautiful...and it's pretty hot. (Still could do with a wardrobe change for Dunst...but I'm sure it's a huge factor in the reason some horny guys like it.) That said, I really really enjoy the kiss between Gwen and Peter as well. It's an incredibly sweet moment, and HE, rather than the circumstances surrounding the first one, makes it hot enough to rival the first. For many people I know they probably think this one is a no-brainer, but I really disagree and say they're both great for different reasons. WINNER: DRAW.

Conclusion: These films are incredibly tough to compare considering the original Spider-man has a ten year advantage of already being established as THE definitive version. But the new one proved that it wasn't necessarily untouchable. Things could be, and were improved upon....and for that it should be given credit. It's true some scenarios are similar and can't help but be compared....with the favor going to the original since it did it first. But the new one really is good and should be given a chance and taken on its own merits. However, as I've said from the start and actually in my last blog too...I think quality and enjoyability-wise (yes not a word spell check, I'm aware.) they're very much equal and I really do have a love for the 2002 film. So...I still can't say I have a definitive preference either way even if right now I'm feeling more eager to defend the new installment. However....according the my categories .. The Amazing Spider-man wins 8 categories outright to Spider-man's 4. So give it credit is all I'm saying, and look forward to the sequel :) And as I've said before, we can love them all can't we? Anywho that's probably more than enough to say on the subject (probably was 500 words ago..) But stay tuned for a blog on all things Christopher Nolan..coming soon! I'll leave you with this great video I found that shows Tobey's wonderful impact on the trilogy with his Tobeyface. (As an editor though I have to say watch out for dozens of flash frames that weren't caught!)