Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Hello there, hope you’re having a good weekend. Only a few days until “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is released, which means it’s time for me to cover the second (and final) movie in the previous reboot. So let’s go!

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”.

Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) life is a bit of a hectic one, trying to balance being Spider-Man with being a regular New York teenager. But this is going to get way tougher when a series of new villains emerge and start causing chaos. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a curious case of occasional good ideas getting absolutely crushed by the overabundance of superfluous plot threads. First is the Peter/Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) romance, fine. Then there’s the introduction of Electro (Jamie Foxx), fine. But then there’s also the backstory involving Peter’s parents. And a plot involving Harry Osborn (Dane Dehaan). And then there’s a few more threads throughout. There’s so much shit going on that it really messes with the pacing. First act is fine, and even has some great shit going on. But as the film goes on, it just becomes an overstuffed, underdeveloped, sluggish mess that is hard to engage with. There are moments of quality in the storytelling, but the overall narrative is just… ugh.

The characters in this are a mixed bag. Our two leads, Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, they’re both charming, fun, engaging, and just overall a great pair, with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone both delivering top notch performances. Next we have Max Dillon/Electro, who is at first set up as our main villain. His characterization is bizarre, and I don’t completely get why they wrote him the way they did. And Jamie Foxx… it’s a mixed bag of a performance. On occasion I do enjoy it, but it often just didn’t click with me. Dane Dehaan as Harry Osborn? Decent performance, undercooked writing. Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich? Unnecessary, but very amusing. I’ll at least say that the rest of the supporting cast is solid, featuring people like Sally Field, Colme Feore, Marton Csokas, Felicity Jones, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Junkie XL, Johnny Marr, Steve Mazzaro, and Andrew Kawczynski… FUCK, that’s a lot of composers. But they acted as sort of a supergroup to make the music for this, and I think it mostly paid off. It’s an interesting mix of styles and genres, making for a unique and slightly eclectic score that I thoroughly enjoyed hearing throughout the movie. There’s also a handful of licensed songs used throughout, and they are a bit of a mixed bag. Some work pretty well, some less so.

As with the first one, “Amazing Spider-Man 2” was directed by Marc Webb (HA!), and I think he did a solid job. Despite the script being a complete mess, Webb’s direction is sound, flowing beautifully and bringing some nice energy to proceedings. It especially shines in action scenes, which are all generally quite enjoyable. And that’s something I can say, on the technical side of things, this movie is solid.

This movie has gotten some very mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 52% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 53/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.5/10.

Despite a lackluster and overly messy script, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” still has enough bright spots in it to keep it from total failure. It has some good story moments, it has a few good characters, the performances are (mostly) great, the music is really good, and the direction is really solid. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is a 6.23/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is now completed.

*thwip*

Movie Review: Jarhead (2005)

*Ron Perlman voice activated*. War… war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Jarhead”.

Anthony Swofford is young man who recently enlisted with the United States marines. And we follow him in the time leading up to and during Operation Desert Storm, and how much damage it does to him psychologically. There’s a lot of interesting scenes throughout that does develop the story, and I was somewhat interested in everything that was going on. But I never really felt as engaged as this type of story should’ve gotten me. There was never that emotional hook that a story like this should be able to get. Now, I’m not saying it needs to make me cry, just that it needs to grab me and hold onto me really tightly… which it never really did. I remember some really well done moments throughout, but never was I fully invested in it all. Overall, a fine story.

The characters in this are all assholes… but in a believable way. I really believe that this is what one would become if going through all of that. And I find them all to be quite interesting. Jake Gyllenhaal (as previously mentioned) plays Anthony Swofford, a smart young man who goes through the ups and downs of marine life. Seeing a good guy like him tested like this is quite interesting, and it makes him a pretty compelling character. And Gyllenhaal is of course fantastic in the role. And throughout the movie we get supporting performances from people like Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Evan Jones, Brian Geraghty, Lucas Black, Chris Cooper, Dennis Haysbert, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was pretty good. It takes some inspiration from rock and a few middle-eastern influences, all of which comes together to create an interesting atmosphere for the movie. It’s tense, fun, and just overall pretty cool. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout the movie, all of them pleasing to the ear, and all of them working quite well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Sam Mendes, and I think he did a good job. When he wanted to make me feel uneasy, he made me feel uneasy. When he wanted to build some suspense, he built some suspense. Mendes has a good eye for these things. And speaking of seeing things, the cinematography by Roger Deakins? Absolutely fantastic (what else would you expect from that man?).

This movie has gotten some slightly mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Jarhead” has a lot of good things going for it, but it’s far from perfect. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, it is brought down quite a bit by a lack of a good emotional hook in the story. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Jarhead” is an 8,54/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Jarhead” is now completed.

Bang a gong, get it on…

Movie Review: Live by Night (2016)

I’m gonna be very frank with y’all: I love Dennis Lehane’s “Live by Night”, it’s a fantastic book. So I was both skeptical and excited when I found out that Ben Affleck was directing a movie adaptation of it. Then the trailer was released and it was great, but I still held back any hype because of my love for the source material. Then the reviews started coming out and they were not merciful. So my reservations weren’t exactly lightened by that. And here we are… let’s see if the critics are right.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Live by Night”.

1920s Boston. As the son of a popular and beloved police chief, Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) has had a lot to live up to. However, Joe has found himself operating on the other side of the law. So we follow him as he rises from petty robbery to taking on the rum trade in Tampa, Florida. We also see him as he struggles with this life, trying to balance running his business with taking on competitors and other factions who want to do him harm. So now we have our gangster story. And the basic setup is interesting enough, with a few parts in the story giving us some pretty good drama and suspense. But for the most part this plot lacks a lot of the nuance needed to make it great. Especially during the middle when it starts meandering quite a bit. And while I shouldn’t compare this to the book, I do have to mention that the plot here in the movie lacks some of the flair and nuance that it had. So overall the plot here is… fine.

The characters in this are for the most part pretty interesting. While not a physical match to Joe, Ben Affleck is great in the role. He’s a smart, even-tempered, and interesting individual, and Affleck does give a great performance. Chris Messina plays Joe’s friend/partner in crime Dion Bartolo, and he’s a fun and cool guy that I thought was prety interesting. And Messina is great in the role. Sienna Miller plays Emma Gould, a woman that Joe gets involved with, and while her Irish accent if a bit off, her overall performance is pretty good. Chris Cooper plays Irving Figgis, a police chief that Joe has some interactions with throughout the movie. And Cooper is great in the role, getting some of the best dramatic moments in the movie. Elle Fanning plays Cooper’s daugher, Loretta, and she’s great in the role. Brendan Gleeson shows up for a bit in the movie, playing Joe’s father Thomas. And he’s really good in the role. Robert Glenister plays gangster Albert White, and he’s great in the role, giving quite a menacing performance. We also have Zoe Saldana as Graciela Suarez, a Cuban woman that Joe gets involved with down in Tampa, and she’s really good in the movie. Shit, this movie’s filled with solid performances.

The score for the movie was composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and it was really good. It really doesn’t do anything unique, and isn’t overall something I’d find myself listening to at any time in the future. But it is overall dramatic, tense, and well composed, fitting the movie very well.

This movie was written and directed by Batman, I mean Ben Affleck. And I think he did a really good job with it. He manages to bring tension and a lot of flair to it which I really enjoyed. And the action scenes in this movie are tense, exciting, and just overall great. I also feel like I have to mention Robert Richardson’s cinematography, holy fuck it is gorgeous. Really, this movie is a visual treat. From a purely technical standpoint this movie is quite great… it’s a few other factors that slightly brings it down (you read them earlier).

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 34% (ouch) positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 49/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10.

“Live by Night” is a bit of a disappointment, but it’s still a competently put together gangster flick. It has an okay plot, pretty good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. But it (like I made clear) has some flaws. the plot gets quite meander-y near the second act, and with the plot overall feeling slightly dull. Also, Sienna Miller’s distractingly off Irish accent bugged me. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Live by Night” is an 8,21/10. So while it is quite flawed, I’d say that it’s worth a rental.

My review of “Live by Night” is now completed.

The movie kept the book’s best dialog exchange at least… kudos for that.

We now have a trailer for “Live by Night”

Hello there, ladies and gentlemen of the internet. I am back once again to talk about a trailer. I know, it happens quite a bit nowadays, but that’s just because so many interesting trailers are coming out. So let’s talk about this one.

As the title of this post tells you, we now have a trailer for “Live by Night”, a movie based on the novel of the same name written by Dennis Lehane. Now, before we get into what this movie is about, let me tell you my specific reasons as to why I decided to talk about this one today. First off, it is a pretty cool trailer. And secondly, it’s based on a book that I have read and absolutely love. Also, that book was written by my favorite author, so I’m of course instantly interested. So I guess you could say that this is a pretty personal thing for me. Now, with all that said… what is this about. “Live by Night” is about Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck), a man who gets into some shit with mobsters and then himself starts truly becoming one. And that’s as vague as I’m gonna keep it, because the story that plays out is pretty phenomenal… in the book at least. Now, do I think this movie looks good? Yes! Ben Affleck is a great actor and director, so I am glad that he’s the one handling this movie. This looks intense, badass, dramatic, and overall good. I would also say that the cast looks pretty great. Though it is kind of weird to have Scott Eastwood as Danny Coughlin, the older brother of Joe Coughlin who’s played by Ben Affleck, who’s about 14 years older than Eastwood. Oh well, whatever. I’m not gonna lie to you guys, I am really excited about this movie. Ben Affleck did a great job directing “Gone Baby Gone”, which was also based on a Dennis Lehane novel. And he’s become better and better as both a director and an actor, so I don’t think I have much to worry about. “Live by Night” is set for a limited US release in December, and then a wide release in January.

So what are you thoughts? Are you looking forward to Ben Affleck’s “Live by Night”? And are you a fan of the original novel? Leave any and all thoughts in the comments.
Have a good one and enjoy the trailer!

Movie Review: The Bourne Idenity (2002)

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Hello there, my friends to the first in my series of reviews on the “Bourne” movies leading up to “Jason Bourne” this July. I will review one of the movies every month, so for this month (March) it is “Bourne Identity”, for April it’s “Bourne Supremacy”, May is “Bourne Ultimatum” and June is “Bourne Legacy”. All of this will then wrap up in July with the upcoming “Jason Bourne”. Hell, if I’m in a good mood I might just throw in a surprise “Bourne” thing at some point too… But let’s move on to the review that you all came here to read.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Bourne Identity”.

A mysterious man (Matt Damon) is picked up by a fishing boat in the ocean outside of Marseille, France. Despite having been in the ocean for some time and also haivng bullets in him, he’s still alive and eventually wakes up… with no memory of what the hell happened or who he is. Soon after that he is chased all over Europe by different assassins and authorities while he also tries to find out what happened. But he isn’t doing this alone. With him is a young woman named Marie (Franka Potente) who he somehow dragged into this. The plot isn’t always very clear, sometimes invisible, but when you know what it is and when it really shows itself it is really good. It’s an interesting and different kind of spy story. It’s exciting, interesting and even pretty suspenseful… I kinda love it.

The characters all have a purpose within the story and they are all pretty interesting. Matt Damon is terrific as Jason Bourne, giving a surprisingly nuanced performance that is both vulnerable and totally fuckin’ badass. Franka Potente is great as Marie, playing a scared yet confident woman who has been thrust into this journey with Jason. Chris Cooper plays the character of Alexander Conklin, a man who seems to have some connection to Jason and is basically the one who sends all the assassins after Jason. And I think that he plays that role very well. We also get some great supporting performances from Brian Cox, Clive Owen, Julia Stiles, Walton Goggins and Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje.

The score for the movie was composed by John Powell and it was good. Not great, but good. I’m not gonna say that it felt out of place for the movie, because it didn’t. I am just saying that the overall style of it feels a little bit dated, but it never really took away from the movie for me because it was overall good and it did work for the movie. It’s very action-y and it’s well composed.

“Bourne Identity” was directed by Doug Liman who you probably know as the director of 2014’s surprisingly good “Edge of Tomorrow”. This was his first action movie and for a first timer I would say that he did a terrific job with the directing. The shots all look great and the action is very well handled. From the fist fights, to the shootouts and to the car chase (yes, there is one of those in this movie). My favorite action scene is probably the bit with The Professor (which I will not spoil here). The people who have seen this film knows which part of the film I am talking about. But for the two of you who haven’t seen the movie, I’m just gonna say that it’s suspenseful, well filmed and pretty badass.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“The Bourne Identity” is an interesting spy-thriller with a really good plot, great acting, a good score, great directing and great action. Time for my final score. *Cough*. My final score for “The Bourne Identity” is a 9,89/10. It gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “The Bourne Identity” is now completed.

For those of you who have been wondering throughout the review: Yes, I have seen all of these movies before, it’s just that I felt like a series of reviews would be appropriate with the release of the new one later this year.