The Amazing Spider-Man

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It’s only a coincidence that I’m writing this on the day Man of Steel hits home video, and it has nothing to do with the approaching 35th anniversary of Superman: The Movie. Rather, it’s something I’ve been wondering during the discussions of the latest Marvel movie post-credits “stingers.” Thor: The Dark World finishes with three separate teases. The first (not a stinger) comes before the credits and hints at something that will presumably be dealt with in Thor 3. The next comes midway into the credits and introduces a character and teases plot that is part of the larger Marvel/Avengers franchise storyline. And the third is just a funny post-credits scene that I expect to be the vaguely reported link between the film and an upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode. Personally, I have no problem with these or any stingers. The midway scene in Thor 2 is pretty goofy, though, and has been met with the usual confusion that, hopefully for Marvel’s sake, translates into curiosity instead of annoyance. And perhaps the way they’re done is a little tired, so maybe it is time to try something different. Like a prologue stinger. I don’t know if that phrase makes sense (I’m not totally sure of where the term stinger comes from), but here’s what I mean: set up the next film before the latest even begins. For the one and only example, as far as I know, look to the opening of the first Superman, which features the trial of […]

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12year_disappointments

If there’s one word I think of that’s best tied to the story of film in 2012, it’s “disappointing.” That’s not to say that 2012 was a disappointing year for movies. I don’t know if it was the best in a while, as some of my fellow critics claim, but then I still haven’t seen a lot of the “best” titles of the year. What I do know is that there were enough movies that really, really, really disappointed a lot of people, and so I feel like I heard — or read — the word “disappointing” more than any other. Whether it was a long-awaited prequel to a classic helmed by the original’s director or the expected return to form for a filmmaker or a final installment of a much-worshipped superhero trilogy or a reboot of a beloved comic-based franchise or a new animated feature from a usually dependable studio, there were plenty of major releases that turned out to be less than satisfying. At least for some.

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Dane DeHaan

Now this is a way of announcing big casting that we can get behind. The Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb has circumvented scoops, toldjas, exclusives, and the entire trade racket and gone ahead and announced the casting of the film’s sequel’s Harry Osborn via his Twitter. In a simple tweet from earlier today, Webb tells his loyal followers: “Meet Harry Osborn. @danedehaan. pic.twitter.com/oi4Ql6nQ,” directing us over to Chronicle‘s Dane DaHaan‘s own Twitter, along with that appropriately moody picture up top. DeHaan was one of three names mentioned as being a possible for the role back in November. Along with Brady Corbet and Alden Ehrenreich, DeHaan’s name popped up when THR reported that Webb and company were going for “dark and edgy,” though a few days later, the outlet then reported that the role could be going in a different direction, with a whole slew of other names trotted out as Osborn-maybes. So, dark and moody it is?

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  By the end of Breaking Dawn — Part 2, it’s clear that the Twilight Saga, as one long story about vampires, werewolves and a chaste teenage girl, is first and foremost a romance picture. This may not sound like a revelation, but in the past four years we’ve all looked at the series in terms of how it transcends the traditional “chick flick” ghetto to dabble in elements of superhero and horror genres, potentially wooing male moviegoers in the process. Interestingly enough, the finale features a sequence that is very much aimed at fans of genre cinema just before pulling a 180 and concluding with an ending that the same audience will find mushy and sappy as (their personal) hell. While romance figures into most film genres and even dominates the conventional Hollywood denouement for movies no matter what audience is targeted, most of these features are not classifiably romance pictures. The love stories are secondary or even tertiary in importance to plots primarily concerned with adventure or disaster or some treatment of good versus evil. And although there are antagonists strewn throughout the Twilight films, there aren’t really good guys and bad guys in proper terms. Instead there is simply love and family versus threat to love and family. […]

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Your Sister’s Sister Jack (Mark Duplass) is still suffering bouts of depression a year after the death of his brother, so when his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), who happens to be his brother’s ex, offers up her family’s cabin for a few days of rest he jumps at the chance. Unbeknownst to both of them Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) has also holed up in the cabin after a rough breakup with her girlfriend. Hilarity and romantic complications ensue. Writer/director Lynn Shelton has moved beyond the confines of her early mumblecore career and delivered a film filled with humor, honesty and a compelling romantic triangle. The three leads are at the top of their game and form a trio I would happily marry. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Trailer, commentaries]

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Jamie Foxx

Consider the slow news days over with this amazing bit of casting buzz. Variety reports that Jamie Foxx is currently in “early talks” to take on the main villain role in the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with Foxx reportedly looking to take on the epic super-villain role of Electro. The outlet provides a bare bones explanation of the character, telling us that “Electro is the alter ego of Max Dillon, an enemy of Spider-Man who gains the ability to control electricity after being struck by lightning. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the character first appeared in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man #9′ in February 1964.” With Dr. Curt Connors’ own alter ego super-villain, The Lizard, finally getting his chance to wreck havoc on ol’ Spidey’s life (after he was hinted at heavily during Sam Raimi’s previous trilogy), Electro seems like a natural fit. Variety also notes that, in “The Amazing Spider-Man’s” post-credit sequence, background lightning plays a major part, leading many fans to already speculate that it would be Electro to next take center stage at the main baddie. To add fuel to this speculation fire, Foxx has already tweeted about the news…sort of. This afternoon, the actor issued this tweet:

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As any of us who’ve dressed up as movie characters for Halloween know, it’s the distinctly designed roles that make for the most interesting costumes. Nobody is dressing up as Alex Cross or Aaron Cross this year — not because their movies weren’t popular, but because the characters don’t have a very recognizable look. Peruse the popular suits for sale and clever homemade ideas this year and you’ll find mostly characters who wouldn’t be what they are without the craftwork of costume designers and makeup artists. That’s why I consider theirs the Halloween categories at the Oscars. And yet, the best and most common outfits and frightening faces aren’t necessarily those that tend to be recognized by the Academy. This year’s list of popular movie-related costumes predominantly consists of superheroes, which has been the norm for a while, but there are even more timely examples represented now thanks to the The Avengers featuring so many masked and caped crusaders. Also, we had another movie starring the Caped Crusader. And while once again Linda Hemming will be nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for a Batman movie (she was nominated for Batman Begins and won for The Dark Knight), it’s very unlikely that The Dark Knight Rises will earn her a second Oscar nomination let alone win (she won her first time nominated, for Topsy-Turvy).

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Recent months have been very kind to the career of young actress Shailene Woodley. Not only did she make herself ridiculously famous basically overnight by standing toe-to-toe with George Clooney in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, but recently she signed on to play the very high profile role of Mary Jane Watson in Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man sequel. This freight train of success isn’t stopping with acclaimed dramas and big comic book blockbusters, however, because Heat Vision is reporting that Woodley is now closing in on a deal to star in the next big YA adaptation, Divergent. Divergent, if you’ll remember, is the first adaptation of a planned trilogy of Veronica Roth novels, and is set to be directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist). Amazon’s description of Roth’s novel gives the story the following synopsis:

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Though reactions to Marc Webb’s reboot of Sony’s Spider-Man franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man, were mixed, the one thing that nearly everyone was in agreement on was that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone made for an upgrade in principal actors over Sam Raimi’s choice of Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst for his trilogy. Stone especially seemed like a breath of fresh air, as Dunst’s version of Mary Jane Watson wasn’t written to be like the character comic fans loved from the very beginning, and getting the chance to restart the story using Peter Parker’s real first girlfriend, Gwen Stacy…well, it just felt right. That leaves the question of Spider-Man’s second girlfriend hanging over Webb’s new franchise, however. Everyone knows that the love triangle he gets thrust into with Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane is a big part of Spider-Man’s early stories, so do Webb and crew have plans to introduce the confident and vivacious Mary Jane of the comic books into their future films, even if it could mess up the goldmine of chemistry they’ve discovered between Garfield and Stone? If a new report from Variety is to be believed, the answer is yes, and if things end up playing out like they’re looking to, that might be a good thing. According to the trade, Webb and company are currently in negotiations with The Descendants star Shailene Woodley to board the Amazing Spider-Man sequel as the aforementioned Mary Jane Watson. As anyone who saw The Descendants can tell you, despite the […]

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Continuing a yearly tradition that began at the defunct movie blog Spout, this is my 5th annual list of mostly original yet highly unlikely Halloween costume ideas. You can take any of these suggestions if you want, especially if you want to avoid having the same outfit as another person at the party you attend, and particularly if you want something that needs a lot of explanation — these tend to be good conversation starters for people looking for excuses to hit on you. Mostly, though, the following ideas are not to be taken too seriously. Some are really just stupid jokes. But they’re primarily intended to visually remind us of some of the trends, criticisms, immediate icons and zeitgeist of the past year in film. For instance, last year‘s “Forrest Gump wearing an X-Men uniform” costume illustrated 2011′s penchant for Gump-like revisionist history in blockbuster movies. And back in 2008, there was a costume called “Nuke the Fridge.” Sadly, in looking over 2012 for this year’s ideas, I realized that it’s been a very weak year for movie references worth calling back. Where are this year’s “nuke the fridge,” Antichrist fox, “Why cookie Rocket?” and “Winklevi”? Before too long, I might need to spin-off a TV version of this tradition to make it easier on me and more interesting to readers. Because we all know film culture is dead anyway, right?  

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Despite the fact that it opened to mixed reviews and didn’t bring in as much coin as the movies in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, director Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man was profitable enough that it was sure to spawn at least one sequel. Given the fact that the reboot wasn’t successful enough to be crowed about as a home run, and Webb was reportedly looking for a raise to work on a second film, however, it was always in doubt who would actually end up helming a second go-around with the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man. We can all stop speculating now though, because Columbia Pictures has announced [via THR] that Webb has been signed for the sequel and will reunite with stars Andrew Garfield and (most likely) Emma Stone to begin shooting sometime in early 2013. At this point the film has been slotted in for a May 2, 2014 release.

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Culture Warrior

Part of the appeal of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films is that the basic conceit informing their aesthetic seems so natural. Batman is one of few major superheroes that isn’t actually a super-hero. Batman mythology, then, lends itself to a degree of plausibility more than, say, Superman or Spider-Man, so why not manifest a vision of Batman that embraces this particular aspect that distinguishes this character from most superhero mythologies? But realism has not been a characteristic that unifies Batman’s many representations in the moving image. Through the eyes of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the Batman of tentpole studio filmmaking has occupied either a world of gothic architecture and shadowy noir, or one of schizophrenic camp. From 1989 to 1997, Batman was interpreted by visionary directors with potent aesthetic approaches, but approaches that did not necessarily aim to root the character within a landscape of exhaustive Nolanesque plausibility.

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Between now and the end of summer, there’s going to be but one prime directive for those of us who think about, write about, care about and have any sort of general interest in the movies. The Dark Knight Rises. Four days away and already being built up to be one of the biggest openings of all-time, Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman film is everything you’ve been waiting for, even while you were secretly sneaking off to make The Avengers the third highest grossing film of all-time. But before all your movie theaters belong to Batman, a few other movies are getting in their last licks at the summer box office. Namely a fourth film in an animated franchise that just won’t go extinct and a reboot of another hero’s journey. For Ice Age: Continental Drift and The Amazing Spider-Man, this weekend may be the last hurrah. And they made the most of it.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Here be Spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man. Consider yourself warned. With The Amazing Spider-Man performing considerably well — and better than a supposedly worried Sony had expected — we’re bound to hear news of a sequel in the coming weeks. We already know the plans for a trilogy, but where that trilogy will actually go remains something of a mystery. The dull Peter Parker’s parent subplot/question will likely be answered, sure, but why not move away from this topic? Better yet, why not take a crack at all these suggestions below that I just know every exec at Sony is feverishly scribbling down? They may need to. Although Marc Webb‘s reboot of Spider-Man is pretty good, the impending release of something like The Dark Knight Rises means “pretty good” doesn’t exactly cut it. Sam Raimi handled the character properly, and showed how to make a great movie or two with him in the meantime. Even with all these origin amnesia criticisms that have been made, The Amazing Spider-Man didn’t exactly take notice of what worked in Raimi’s first two Spider-Man installments, and it should have; there’s plenty to improve on. Some of these things include:

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There used to be a time when only die-hard comic book fans knew what Stan Lee looked like. His likeness appeared in many of the Marvel comic books for the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but to the average person, he was nothing more than a guy with some shaded glasses. Then Hollywood started putting the guy in some movies. He’s never had a very big part, but to honor the man for helping to create some of the most legendary superheroes (and some of the biggest moneymakers for the movie business), Lee has been given customary cameos in almost every major movie that has been made from characters he helped create. Those who have seen The Amazing Spider-Man (which should be most of you faithful readers, by now) were treated to one of his best and funniest cameos yet. And with more Marvel movies coming down the pike, he’s sure to show up many times again. This gave us a chance to look back on his many appearances over the years and assemble a list of his ten best cameos. Excelsior!

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Although The Amazing Spider-Man opened the lowest out of all the other movies in the Sony franchise with a $65m weekend, it’s already scored $341m worldwide. Not bad for a week’s work. Sam Raimi‘s series opened with $114.8m, $88.1m, and $151m (chronologically), and even though Marc Webb’s rebooted version starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone didn’t hit that mark, it benefited from an extended holiday week and made more than enough to earn sequels. This film was in a funny situation though. As pointed out last week, it had the ability to change the direction of major studios – a fitting task for the reboot of a franchise that shifted the rudder of the last decade. For some fans, it proved to be a story success, but the response has been far from unanimously positive. However, this initial haul (and the money still to come) proves that Sony (and all other studios) can keep mining their name-brand superhero content as long as they want, rebooting whenever they see fit. Spider-man and Batman are the new Bond.

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What is Movie News After Dark? After inadvertantly taking the night off last night due to a surprise viewing of the extended cut of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (all 4 hours and 10 minutes, baby), it’s a nightly movie news and notes column and is just here to send you off to your weekend with a few fun reads. That’s exactly how many we’ve got tonight. A few. We begin the evening with a shot of a bald, robotically enhanced Matt Damon in a new shot from Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. For a movie being made with such a low profile, that sure is a big image. A Chem-rail gun (I don’t know what that is, but it sounds fun) and some exoskeletal goodness. Plus, Damon is looking quite militant. Here’s hoping we get more of this one at Comic-Con next week.

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Aural Fixation - Large

With The Amazing Spider-Man swinging into theaters this weekend, I wanted to take a moment to look back on past superhero movies – not to analyze the characters, the various actors who have played them, the directors, the reboots, remakes, or re-imaginings – I want to talk about the music. (Because, you know, that’s what we do here.) The music, which accompanies these larger than life films full of cutting edge technology, vehicles, and gadgets, but often sounds like it was pulled straight out of the ‘90s rock scene. I have rounded up five songs from various superhero movies that seem a bit out of place alongside the web slinging, Hulk smashing action on screen. These songs usually end up playing over the film’s credits (and rarely end up in the movie itself), but even as a footnote, these particular tracks never sound quite on par with the films they are featured in. The songs attempt to add to the emotional undertone of the film or provide one last blast of adrenaline as you walk out of the theater, but with all the high octane action seen on screen, it is strange to see these films paired with songs that do not quite match their tone and pacing.

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Denis Leary in The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man can get ridiculous. By its very nature, there’s an inherent silliness to Marc Webb‘s reboot of the iconic character. There’s a giant talking lizard wearing a lab coat, and in terms of comic books movies, you can’t get much more cartoony than that. What stops The Amazing Spider-Man from playing as an all out cartoon is both the emotional grounding from Webb’s part and the comedic touches made with Captain Stacy, played by Denis Leary. Without ever making an obnoxious ironic smirk about that kid in unitard, Webb utilizes Leary as a way to pull the film back down to earth. In the 1990s, we saw Denis Leary in his fair share of commercial movies, and, as even he would admit to and poke fun at, not many of them were particularly good. As of late, while Leary’s schedule was packed with his Rescue Me duties, we saw a real lack of him appearing on the big screen. What does it take to get Leary in your movie now? The possibility of a good time is certainly a part of it. Denis Leary, who seemed to be enjoying himself during The Amazing Spider-Man‘s press day, sat down with us to discuss firing shotguns, when making a movie doesn’t “suck,” and the importance of knowing structure:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column that’s picking up the pieces as Hollywood takes off for an extended mid-week holiday weekend. Sure, the streets of Burbank are empty at the moment (quick, someone sneak onto the Paramount Lot and steal a rough cut of Star Trek 2!), but there’s plenty of news and notes to go around. We’re just that good, friends. We begin this evening with a shot of Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and Rinko Kikuchi (The Brothers Bloom) in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim wearing futuristic robot driving suits. Not only did Shock Till You Drop pull these from the pages of Entertainment Weekly, they also scored a pretty in-depth synopsis.

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