The Amazing Spider-Man

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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Culture Warrior

It’s difficult to think that something as definitive of modern-age movie-watching as DVD special features could become a thing of the past, but there are plausible scenarios in which that could happen. DVD and Blu-Ray sales have slowed in the past few years as viewers become more and more accustomed to streaming services as their go-to means of watching movies in the home. However, when viewers streams a film via Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, or Hulu, more often than not, they receive the film itself and nothing else. The attraction for audiences who use streaming services is exclusively the film and the film alone, not the film in conjunction with other supplementary materials that immerse the viewer further into the creation of that film. The film – for the first time since the days of VHS – now speaks for itself. After DVDs first became popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, the value of the DVD could be determined (and often manipulated) by how much material the discs provided for outside the running time of the film. The appeal of buying a DVD of a particular film did not lie in owning the film itself, but having access to that film in connection to a web of information related to it. Documentaries, commentaries, and deleted scenes provided a DVD experience that felt definitive – these discs made available the notion that herein was everything to know and understand about a particular film. The Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy, […]

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Drinking Games

Today, Columbia Pictures is releasing the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man. In case you don’t want to spend $15 to $20 to see this movie in IMAX 3D, you could always rent the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man and watch it. Heck, the first hour of these films is virtually identical anyway. Ten years ago, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man broke box office records on its opening weekend, on the way to be one of the few movies to gross more than $400m in the United States. We’ll see if Andrew Garfield and Mark Webb can do that with their new movie. But in the meantime, have a few drinks with the older movie and see how it holds up.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Back when Sony Pictures announced it was going to reboot the Spider-Man franchise, it felt as if Dr. Octopus had simultaneously slapped my face, sucker punched me and whacked me on the nuts. After waiting three years for signs that Sam Raimi would recapture the magic of Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 (and make amends for the listless mess that was Spider-Man 3), the disheartening news came. The powers that be had decided to serve up the same old familiar origin story (misfit Peter Parker gets bitten, goes through Spidey-puberty and lets his uncle die because he hasn’t got his proverbial caca together), instead of taking the saga into more interesting territory. This was not just an “aw, shucks” let-down like the one I felt when I heard Edward Norton wouldn’t be reprising the role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers. I actually sunk into an existential lament for the future of the superhero genre. I imagined a future where other franchises would follow suit, offering formulaic retreads of the exact same plot points ad infinitum. But three things happened: Time passed, my doctor upped my meds and I suddenly found myself able to put things in a brighter perspective.

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A large portion of The Amazing Spider-Man does not come off as a typical summer movie. Battling that lab coat-wearing Lizard aside, the heroics of Peter Parker’s life often take a backseat to his identity crisis. Director Marc Webb, as he told us, did not want to retell the origin of Spider-Man, as we already got that film ten years ago. No matter how much we all like to chuckle at the “untold story” tagline, Webb gives us good reason to reconsider why this is a new origin story: this is Peter Parker’s origin, not Spider-Man’s. The first hour of The Amazing Spider-Man takes its time to set up this new Peter Parker and the grounded world Webb aimed to capture. Tonally everything, including the giant green lizard who talks, Webb takes as seriously as he can. The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t realistic and gritty in the Nolan sense, but bares a key similarity in its dramatic grounding. Here’s what director Marc Webb had to say about the emotional chip Peter Parker carries on his shoulder, the wise-cracking teenage hero he saw while reading the comics, and why we’ve seen so much footage from his major tentpole release:

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The release of The Amazing Spider-Man this week has left some people scratching their heads. How can a movie that is billed as “The Untold Story” be so achingly repetitive? With the first hour of the film an alternate take on the first hour of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man from 2002, people have questioned the need to rehash essentially the same origin story of such a widely-known superhero. As reported in Latino Review, director Marc Webb insists the reboot was necessary. (Spoiler: it wasn’t.) He continues to say it was to introduce the world to a new Spider-Man and, more importantly, a new Peter Parker. (Spoiler: It really doesn’t.) Whether Webb was pressured by the studio for the redux origin or if he just wanted to not have to follow any of the Raimi canon, it seems silly to tread such familiar ground so soon. In 2002, Spider-Man continued the trend that X-Men started two years before, making superhero films profitable and possible in the big studio system. Since then, we’ve seen quite a few origin stories – from full-blown reboots of known characters as in Batman Begins to introduction of heroes who aren’t known much outside of comic book fans as in Iron Man. However, with The Man of Steel coming up next year and an obvious Batman reboot once The Dark Knight Rises finishes its run, who knows what Hollywood is going to do next?

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The Amazing Spider-Man

It was a kinder, simpler time back in January of 2010. Daybreakers and Youth in Revolt were both in theaters, New York City was asking people to eat less salt, and we were all about to find out the one-two punch that Sam Raimi was done with Spider-Man but Sony was not. It was the sort of news that reeked of corporate thinking – extending a franchise cash cow without the creative forces behind it; rebooting an unimaginably familiar character just five years after his last outing; and deciding to do all that on a dime. Optimism pointed to characters like James Bond getting new actors, but this was that rare time where a character introduced to us was being re-introduced to us, and the announcement was, admittedly, a bit surreal. It won’t be revolutionary, but there are two ways, two chances for that reboot to change the ways that movies are made. Marc Webb‘s The Amazing Spider-Man will have a lot of eyes on it these week, and a few of them will be watching it as an experiment instead of entertainment.

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For a moment, especially in the looming shadow of yet another origin story, it would be easy to overlook the fact that like many a great superhero story, the tale of Spider-Man is one of great action. And with great action comes great action moments. And responsibility. Definitely some responsibility on the part of the filmmaker. While Sam Raimi wasn’t always completely responsible with his Spidey story — he let part three get way out of hand with villains and dance numbers — he never did let us forget that Peter Parker is once-bitten, thrice an action hero. It’s a fact we celebrate proudly in this week’s Scenes We Love, in the hope that Marc Webb will do the same with this The Amazing Spider-Man.

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Marvel has enjoyed a pronounced measure of success with their films of late. Captain America, X-Men: First Class, and especially The Avengers have proven worthy of all manner of flashy adjectives. And now we arrive at Marvel/Sony’s reboot of the character for which flashy adjectives are often indivisible from his name. The unfortunate irony is that any number of films on Marvel’s slate from the last year are more deserving of the descriptor “amazing” than Marc Webb‘s The Amazing Spider-Man. That’s not to say the film is a total disaster, but in the company’s current climate of quality, passable is not acceptable.

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For the past few days a comical and depressing mash-up of the marketing materials for The Amazing (and pretty good) Spider-Man has taken the internet by storm. Louis Plamondon – who was today’s Reject Radio’s fine guest – made a short film out of all the footage Sony has released, nearly nailing the film down beat by beat. Speaking to the film’s director Marc Webb today, his response was simple: just don’t watch it. If you care about the movie, then why delve more into spoiler territory? When asked if he had seen it yet, Webb responded, “I have not seen it, but, listen, I think most movies reveal as much stuff. That’s a marketing department thing, so I wasn’t necessarily involved in that. If you don’t want to watch it, don’t watch it. Is it really that hard?”

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How much movie advertising is too much? What’s the number? When 25% of the movie is online in ads before it comes out? 10%? 2%? Are you ready to go back to a world where the magic and mystery happens when you’re in the theater instead of at your laptop? Louis Plamondon’s (aka Sleepy Skunk) “Amazing Spider-Man in 25 Minutes” is an awesome look at the movie, but it’s also a critical middle finger to movie marketers for stealing that magic. We spoke with the mash-up editor about finding 20% of a blockbuster online before it hit theaters, what that means for piracy and how that’s deeply unfair to the people who worked on the movie. Download Episode #139

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The Amazing Spider-Man

It’s the oldest, three-year-old joke in the book: ubiquitous movie marketing means we know everything about a movie before it comes out. It’s resulted in many fans shunning trailers altogether or, gasp, avoiding Twitter. Here finally, Sony has given Vimeo user SleepySkunk the ammo to prove what we all already know (which is too much). The result is a 25-minute version of The Amazing Spider-Man cobbled together from advertisements and featurettes. At first, watching it is sort of funny – a video middle finger to an overzealous marketing culture – but after a few minutes, it starts to feel like you’re watching the movie itself. That’s a creepy feeling, knowing that the movie is almost completely out there in the world, waiting to be assembled with a little editing magic. What’s even crazier is that it features a beginning, middle and end. At 25 minutes, it’s missing a lot, but it’s like watching a plot outline version of the final product. Check it out for yourself:

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Killing Them Softly

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movies that’s been kickin’ ass and takin’ names since the sun came up, but for some reason it still waited until late at night to bring you all the movie news of the day. It’s eccentric like that. We begin tonight with an image of Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy in Killing Them Softly, Andrew Dominik’s new film based on the adaptation of the novel “Cogan’s Trade.” They are but two of the badass names attached to said project, which includes Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta and Sam Shepard, among others. Not bad.

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Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man

While everyone might still be buzzing about The Avengers, this summer does still hold yet another major comic book movie that just might end up being the unexpected hit of the season. Marc Webb‘s The Amazing Spider-Man again returns Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) to high school, but the focus this time around is on Peter’s relationship with his true first love, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and his quest to discover his parents’ background and how that effects who he’s turned out to be. Oh, and of course he’s dealing with becoming a superhero with spider powers, but that’s just old hat at this point. The film’s latest international trailer features a lot of material we’ve seen before – some shots of the Lizard going after Spidey, a few sweet moments between Peter and Gwen, and a hefty reliance on Peter’s parents and whatever the heck it is that Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) is cooking up in his lab – but it also continues to hint that Stone’s Gwen Stacy is quite aware of what’s really going on with her boyfriend. Especially when Spidey tosses her out a window and reels her back in, thanks to those nifty web-shooters. Do you have that kind of trust in your relationship?

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The Lizard

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column in a hurry. It’s late for a very big date. With you, dear reader. It’s always been you. Our top story tonight, The Amazing Spider-Man and a new look at the film’s villain, The Lizard. He’s looking quite menacing now that he’s got his full CGI on. Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we now cannot quite look through the blinds of our window out of fear. Thanks, EW, you are useful as always.

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What is Movie News After Dark DRINKING? It’s the end result of a long work day, a half dozen mini doughnuts, a glass of cheap Canadian whisky, Robert Fure, and a keyboard. Suck on it, suckers! This week’s movie news after Drinking is brought to you by Revel Stoke spiced whisky (We should not get paid for this because I’m not drinking this again. Or no we should still get paid, but I’m not drinking this again). But basically the deal is I get kind of drunk and then try to type up a whole bunch of movie news before my arms stop working. If you’re wondering why I’m typing all this nonsense, it’s because we need a certain amount of buffer before we move into the news to put a proper text break in here. But totally keep reading because Will Smith NO JOKE SLAPS A RUSSIAN IN THE FACE IN THE FIRST STORY. (OH LOOK AT ME I’M FRILMCRIT HULK BECAUSE THIS IS ALL CAPITALS)

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As superhero fever sweeps across the world and The Amazing Spider-Man’s release date approaches, the film’s Viral Videos Division (I assume this is a thing movies have) is ramping up their efforts and doing everything possible to get the public excited about Spidey’s new screen villain, The Lizard. To that end, two new videos have been released: one that’s structured as a fake recruitment video and feels all virally, and another that looks like the traditional sort of featurette you’d find in a DVD’s special features menu or whatnot.

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The Reject Report - Large

And so it comes, the end of The Reject Report, but we’re not going quietly into the night without fanfare. We’re leaving you with a breakdown for the Summer to come. It’s already been one of record-breakers and plenty of shawarma to go around, and we’ve only just begun. So right here is the way we see it rolling along, this Summer of 2012, and it’s sure to be one we’ll keep in our hearts. Tear.

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A Spider-Man movie starring The Social Network star Andrew Garfield should have been a big deal that made both comic book geeks and movie nerds all over the world leap and cheer in anticipation and joy. But, because The Amazing Spider-Man is coming to us so soon after Sam Raimi’s Tobey Maguire-starring Spider-Man trilogy, the reaction to the movie has more resembled a collective, “More Spider-Man? Already? Really?” Still, despite inevitable comparisons between Maguire and Garfield’s takes on the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler that are going to happening in fan circles, the two actors don’t seem to be approaching The Amazing Spider-Man’s release date feeling any sense of competition. As a matter of fact, they sat down to have a chat with one another for “VMan” magazine, and the results were quite amicable.

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Culture Warrior

Crowding a movie with talent often seems like a good idea only in the abstract sense. In practice, such films can easily feel overstuffed. For example, the basic conceits for both The Expendables and Grown Ups sound like products of wishful thinking held during a drunk conversation between a group of 19-year-olds at 3am. Yes, in theory a movie featuring all of the action stars of the 80s or the most successful SNL cast since the late-70s would be great – however, a bunch of famous people do not a seminal action film or great comedy make. What’s most surprising about Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is that the whole somehow proved greater than its parts. A movie with this quantity of iconic superheroes runs the incredible risk of being overstuffed and only half-cooked. The standards created by previous Hollywood films indicate that studios would be happy enough allowing the conflagration of bankable characters stand in for (or, more accurately, distract from the lack of) actual entertainment value; mammoth opening weekends, after all, are always more a sign of effective marketing than good filmmaking. But The Avengers not only stands as an equal to some of the stronger entries in Marvel’s 4-year, 5-film multiverse-building, but is arguably superior. Some of these characters came across more fully-fleshed and three-dimensional as part of an ensemble than in their respective standalone films.

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