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A Stupidly Entertaining TMNT On Steroids, Go In With Your Brain Turned Off
I'll give the film this much: it's better than the first movie. That isn't saying much, but at least the free screening I went to wasn't a waste of time. If you liked the first film, you'll most likely love this one. But if not, you'll probably want to save your money. This is a big, stupid, action packed movie that eschews any sense of logic and is full of plot holes, but at least the action looks good and the turtles are a blast.
We find the turtles sometime after the first film with Shredder going to jail and our heroes in a half shell watching over New York from the shadows. Trouble starts again, however, when....actually, you know what, the story doesn't even really matter. There's Rocksteady and Bebop in the mix, Shredder returns, we meet Krang, and Casey Jones makes an ineffective, lame addition to the story. Seriously, you'll be wishing for Elias Koteas to come back to the role. The story here is built on conveniences and plot holes. And these have to be the stupidest, least skilled Foot Clan soldiers we've ever seen. Even the Foot Clan from the 90's film were more effective than these clowns and they were half made up of kids.
Luckily, the turtles here are a blast. The film at least gets their personalities right and they are more often than not quite entertaining. Rocksteady and Bebop are also very entertaining as the two bumbling, joke cracking brutes who become their mutant counterparts and put up a fight against the turtles. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for the human counterparts. Every single human character seems to be there purely for the convenience of moving the plot along. April only seems to pop up when she needs to become a plot point. Casey has a few small action scenes, but mostly remains a useless part of the story that lacks the presence the aforementioned Elias had as the same character from the original films. Neither does he wear the title of vigilante very well, if at all. The fact that they've tried to ground Casey as more realistic (making him a cop, taking away his vigilantism, having him only use hockey equipment) actually works against most of what made Casey so fun to begin with.
All the villains, besides the two mentioned above, are limited to moving the plot along. Shredder's sole purpose seems to be for plot points, with him not even getting a fight in. An unnamed Karai even has a role in the film, but that role is limited to standing by Shredder's side and occasionally telling him things. And Megan Fox is hard to look as she returns for the plastic version of April O'Neill, who seems to be here to appeal to young male hormones and to have bits of dialogue that move the story along. But when you try to stuff this much into under two hours, what more can one expect?
Of course, whose really here for all that. Along with the great time spent with the turtles, the action is well done. One of the key problems with the first film is the lack of action. This ups it quite a bit. The film barely even wastes any time getting started when we've hit the road with the turtles in their brand new, souped up garbage truck. Think a pimped out, steroid version of the one from the cartoon. The film hardly takes a break, and it's quite welcome as it, at least, makes the film entertaining. The films seem to take very much after the cartoon, which is a shame because the comics have some genuinely good stuff to be mined. But I suppose it's hard to make an appealing TMNT movie that takes itself seriously and delivers a serious story. I won't be surprised to see them make a third one. If you can turn off your brain and sit through countless plot holes and story conveniences, then you will likely find this a solid action film with four classic characters. But if that's not enough, don't bother wasting your money.
Hilarious take on traditional action/comedy.
Key and Peele have established themselves with their show as two of the leaders of small screen comedy. Their brand of comedy pokes fun at stereotypes and generic film tropes, with heavy influences from the cinema world. Their skits are often cinematic and ridiculous, but in the best kinds of way. Now, they carry that over to an actual movie and the results are often times hilarious. While not always successful, when they are, Keanu is laugh out loud funny. With huge influences from traditional cinema, ranging from romantic comedy to 80's action, Keanu covers a range of genres, providing that same ridiculous kind of comedy fans are used to.
The film kicks off with a bang, delivering a stylish opening action scene that introduces us to the titular Keanu, a cute-beyond-words kitten that you immediately fall in love with. We're then introduced to our dynamic duo, Rell, a man-child lacking direction in his life who has recently lost his girlfriend, and Clarence, the straight arrow of the two who is happily married, but is so caught up in trying to please everyone else, he never takes time for himself. Once Keanu enters the picture, the two find themselves spiraling downward into a world of gang warfare, crime, and mistaken identity, all in pursuit of retrieving the adorable little Keanu.
If you've seen Key & Peele, the humor here will feel familiar. Working under the show's director, Peter Atencio, and with Peele in the writer's seat, all have a firm grasp of how to craft cinema and then skewer it. Both characters constantly feel out of place while at the same time handling themselves well, and much of the comedy comes from both the familiar fish out of water story and some surprises. What helps is that the film never really feels forced. Our heroes never feel too unnatural in their actions, though it is slightly mystifying that they are continuously believed to be tougher than they actually are. The action is well done too, with it feeling like it wouldn't be out of place in an action movie. And Keanu replacing what would be a person in distress makes for a hilarious spoof on traditional damsel- in-distress type tropes. Our villains also fare well, with one particular hilarious scene seeing Clarence bond with other gangsters over George Michael music.
As stated above, not every joke works, with several falling flat or getting little more than a chuckle, but more often than not the movie knows when to end a joke or just what to do to surprise or make the audience laugh. It also helps to know movies well to catch several of the references or tropes. Where the film could have made many missteps, it makes wise decisions in terms of balancing comedy, action, and drama and knows when it's comedy may be going too far and for too long. I often wondered if Key and Peele would take their comedy to the film world, as they have always clearly loved movies, and now that they've finally done so, they have delivered. Not a perfect comedy, but a very funny one and shows that the two have promise for a future in the cinema world. It's my hope that Keanu is just the beginning for these two.
Midnight Special (2016)
Slow Burning, This Sci-Fi Drama/Actioner Wins You Over In The End
Going into Midnight Special, I was excited. Jeff Nichols has made a name for himself crafting slow burn dramas with heart, mystery, and excellent acting. Having seen Mud and Take Shelter and enjoyed them immensely, I expected this one to be his best yet, with a plot that was right up my alley: A father protects his son, a seemingly supernaturally gifted young boy, as they go on the run from both the authorities and a cult. Low and behold, Nichols delivers once again, but not without a few bumps. But sure enough, this is his best film yet.
Nichols seems to be moving on up in his career, going from low key dramas like his two previous films to something more genre invested. Midnight Special is a sci-fi film, but it's very a-typical. Whereas we have seen films with these kinds of elements before, they've never been shown quite like this. As I said, however, the film takes some time to get going. When we start out, we are already in the midst of our primary characters on the run. From what, we're not entirely sure. We see scenes involving a cult that seems to worship the boy and we see the FBI also giving chase, but the reasons are never entirely clear. Over the course of the film, however, Nichols begins to slowly peel back what is happening. This is the perfect slow burn of a film. Nothing ever seems unnatural in it's explanation or reveal. What seems confusing and ambiguous at first, begins to unravel and a clear picture of what is actually happening and what truths lie beneath is revealed.
The film's true merit is it's heart. At the center of the story is Michael Shannon's Roy, a father who is willing to do anything for his son, Alton, a child who is seemingly gifted with powers, but at the same time seems to carry misfortune. Joining them is Joel Edgerton's Lucas, who we learn more about over the course of the film and why he is also sworn to protect the boy. Our antagonists don't fare quite as well, never really coming across as a great threat, but at the same time there's plenty of tension packed into scenes, and this is aided by truly excellent acting all the way around. Nichol's also has a way with his camera and editing, packing in gorgeous cinematography with editing that creates nail biting tension. The ending will have you on the edge of your seat, nearly ready to burst into tears.
However, I will also say this movie isn't for everyone. You may check out half way through, as I nearly did, and never come back. You also have to dig the sci-fi aspects of the movie, which I did. But if you've enjoyed Nichols previous films and want something different, this is an excellent choice. I don't want to spoil the surprises here, and the less you know going in the better, but if you want to be surprised, stick with this one and you may end up walking away loving it as much as I did.
Very Entertaining and Refreshing Action/Comedy
Veteran initially comes off as a typical, if still very good, action comedy in which we're introduced to Seo Do-cheol, a skilled detective who is in the process of busting up a car smuggling ring. In the first ten minutes we get both plenty of comedy and action as Do-cheol and his fellow officers show themselves as more grounded and relatable, despite Do-cheol's excellent martial arts skills. While we do get plenty of quick hitting action, we also get cops who get winded, criminals who run without shooting, and other foregone clichés that might exist otherwise. However, it isn't until we get to the meat of the story that we start to see the unconventional turns take place.
The story truly starts, about 30-40 minutes in, when Do-cheol meets Jo Tae-oh, a spoiled, rich, and sadistic executive at the powerful Sun- jin group. When Tae-oh becomes responsible for the near death of one of Do-cheol's friends. It sets in motion a cat and mouse game, with Do-cheol the unstoppable force and Tae-oh blocking him at every point. The film isn't especially action packed, though we do get a few moments of action here and there. Much of this is mixed between comedy and crime drama. What makes the comedy especially good is that it's not only somewhat unconventional for a crime drama of this sort, but that our characters are made relatable and realistic. Despite how they may be set up to be more than average, we're quickly reminded that they're still only human. The interactions are also wonderful, as we witness their personal connections and how they defy the clichéd character types. Do-cheol himself, played wonderfully and charismatically by the excellent Jeong-min Hwang, defies his first impression by having to navigate the legal system to catch Tae-oh in a way that is more about outsmarting his opponent than beating him up. He may act like a supercop, but as we see in the film, his more brutal actions come back to bite him. Tae-oh, played by an equally charming but far more sadistic Ah In Yoo, is a little more clichéd. He's a typically hated bad guy who has no problem embarrassing those around him, beating people up, and pushing his responsibilities onto others. Suffice to say, he plays a typical spoiled rich brat here. But it works. There's a scene early on which demonstrates this well, having a father get beaten in front of his son. He's a truly despicable.
The film is constantly entertaining all the way through and rarely lets up. We do get great scenes of drama and emotion, and the film does an excellent job of making Do-cheol likable, but it's at it's best when Do-cheol is navigating the roadblocks being placed in front of him and overcome his obstacles, which become increasingly more dangerous. When Do-cheol and Tae-oh finally confront each other, it will have been well worth it and the confrontation is something to be relished. This is a very well crafted film that balances all it's elements just right, never coming off as too melodramatic, and much of what works is owed to the excellent writing and acting by the two leads. Korea strikes gold again with this excellent film.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
Fantastic Fun, A Reinvention Of The Spy Film Game For A Modern Age
As a fan of the comic, I will say this, Kingsman actually manages to trump it's source material in many ways. Taking what we know about Spy films: the gadgets, the villain, the prestige, even the action, Kingsman gives us street level flair here by essentially reinventing the Bond formula and kicking it in the teeth. It's an exciting, action packed, and fun film that conforms to Matthew Vaughn's stylish take on the comic book film. Eggsy is a smart, talented young man living with his mom and her boyfriend in London with a penchant for trouble. With his dad having died when he was a child, Eggsy has lived a rough life dodging the law and local thugs. But when an old associate of his father's enters his life, he's given the opportunity to put his talents to good use and become part of an elite group of spies.
What a blast. From beginning to end, this movie is entertaining. And this is mostly thanks to the actors rounded up here. Colin Firth brings his usual wonderful skills as an actor, but it's his combat skills that make him so entertaining. Essentially the old fashioned James Bond of the film, Firth is as suave as ever, but he also commits violence that goes unparalleled in the film. This is most demonstrated in one of the film's biggest set pieces, taking place at a southern church which was briefly shown in the trailer. He steals the show, but the surrounding performances are just as great. Taron Egerton, a stranger to the States, is excellent as Eggsy. While this could have been a character who came off as thuggish and criminal, Eggsy is actually quite sympathetic from early in the film. He's clearly smart and a guy who wants to protect his mom and see her have a better life. However, like so many these days, he feels burdened by his lot in life and it has turned him into a less than stellar citizen. His transformation from a troubled kid to a master spy is incredibly entertaining and combines the charm and sophistication of the typical spy film with the rough edge of a street level action film. Sam Jackson brings the ham as an unusual villain, Mark Strong plays one of the most entertaining characters in the film as the youngsters spy trainer, and Michael Caine appears as the head of Kingsman, bringing his usual mix of seasoned professionalism and sense of fun.
As for the film itself, Matthew Vaughn does as good a job here as his previous comic book adaptations. He continues to demonstrate how to make a film fun, exciting, and hip without it being overly cheesy or appear to be trying too hard. He seems almost a perfect match up for Mark Millar's work, as he is able to almost perfectly convey Millar's mixture of rough edge, sense of fun, and intriguing bend of known tropes. In terms of breaking down a genre, this is similar to Kick Ass in that sense. The action is as superb as you would expect and we're always allowed to see it, with a lack of dizzying close ups and shaky cam, which is thankful. The climax is especially rousing and exciting, with plenty of varied action bits, from gun fights to a dual between Sofia Boutella's deadly, prosthetic leg wearing assassin and Eggsy.
It's something of a surprise to find this film playing in a month usually reserved for films studios have little faith in. This is summer blockbuster material and fantastic entertainment.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
An ambitious, epic universe marred by one dimensional characters and a stumbling script
When I give this film a 6, it's being a bit generous. Trying to put myself in other people's shoes, I'd say this film probably range anywhere from a 3 to a 5, and then there will be those who hate it. Still, I am likely to lean on the side of one of the few who likes the film. But it's a mixed bag. Sure enough, the special effects, action, and other elements are fantastic. But the film does little to develop it's own character beyond their archetypes and the script seems content to stay average at best.
Jupiter Ascending actually paints a pretty fascinating sci-fi universe. As it turns out, Earth, and thousands of other worlds like it, are owned by a number of different families which act like corporations who seed these worlds. Once the worlds become over populated, their people are harvested to create a youth serum which keeps those living in the corporate society young for millennia after millennia. In this case, the Abraxis family is one of the most powerful and each of three heirs is vying for control of Earth. Standing in their way, however, is Jupiter Jones, who turns out to be the genetic reincarnation of the Abraxis' sibling's mother, and claimant to the throne of the family.
If all of that sounds like a lot to take in, it is, and easily the best part of the film. The Wachowski's have a talent for creating fascinating worlds that feel complete. Here, they have created a massive sci-fi universe the likes of which we haven't seen in at least a decade, maybe longer. It's very clear that their ambition extends beyond just this one story. In fact, there are hundreds of fascinating stories that could be told about this universe. The idea of a corporate controlled universe is timely, and where we've seen this story played out before about the giant corporation versus the little guy, it's never quite been told on this scale.
It's a shame then that this ambition is wasted on a story that doesn't seem to capitalize on such a universe. The story is good, but the script is lacking and the characters never really become all that interesting. They end up feeling like caricatures meant to introduce us to this world we've entered. They're histories are explained and they clearly have fleshed out back stories, but they feel almost lifeless in that they seem to be here only to be an aspect of this world and not a full character. Even as a lead character, Channing Tatum as Caine feels like little more than a body meant to perform choreography and defend Milas Kunis' Jupiter. At the very least, Jupiter is a sympathetic character who shows shades of change, but even she often feels like little more than a narrator meant to ask question for exposition purposes. Eddie Redmayne seems to have the juiciest part, and though he still seems to be a one dimensional villain, he shows emotional depth that the other characters lack.
Most people I suspect will have trouble forgiving the lack of a truly meaningful script and characters that are too one dimensional. But the good news is that the film isn't a complete loss. The action, which the Wachowski's have proved to have a handle on, is fantastic. This is Star Wars level stuff, with space battles and well choreographed martial art duels. The cool tech thrown in, like the gravity boots, add some imaginative spice that once again shows the Wachowski's propensity for finding ways to justify making a 12 year old's imagination a reality. It's some truly fun stuff. Likewise, the world we're introduced to looks fantastic. The special effects make believable some very interesting and exciting details, such as the multitude of gadgets and weapons we're witness to. It's clear that the Wachowski's have set out to create a unique universe, and in my estimation, they have succeeded. I'm a sucker for this kind of world crafting, and so they get higher marks from me.
Of course, I can see why the film was pushed back to the dumping grounds of February. This was meant to be a summer blockbuster, but up against so many big, successful films, it would have a hard time competing. I have the distinct feeling this is going to be a film that gets left behind this year, especially in favor of bigger films being released throughout 2015. Had the film been more focused on it's characters and less on exposition of the universe we're witnessing, then I feel it could have succeeded and become a modern sci-fi classic. But as is, it falls short. Honestly, I do hope for a sequel to this, if only to see this universe continue to get development. Perhaps a sequel would fulfill the ambition the Wachowski's clearly seek to build upon.
Project Almanac (2015)
Won't Reinvent The Genre, But It Is Entertaining
I liked Project Almanac. It didn't necessarily excite me. And I did scratch my head a few times. But ultimately, I liked it. It had an interesting, if slow moving, story. It stayed grounded, or at least tried to, and did it's very best to legitimize time travel as a possibility, even if it doesn't do a very good job of actually explaining the whole thing. Certainly some things are silly, like explaining being able to control the time machine with a cell phone as cell phones 'having enough power to put a rocket in space', but these don't really take away from a lot of the fun dealing with the time travel element.
The story is pretty simple, but actually feels heart felt. David, a genius level teenager newly accepted to MIT, finds himself short on the money to pay his tuition there. This inadvertently leads him to discover an unfinished time machine his absent father left hidden in his basement. While it takes a while for the time travel elements to ramp up, there is fun to be had in seeing these kids build, experiment, and ultimately successfully travel through time. The film does a good job in allowing us to escape certain illogical elements, like how a group of teens with a fairly limited budget could create a fully functioning time machine, much less create one when no one else on earth seemingly could. David and his buddy Adam are already established as being geniuses from the moment the film begins. So, it's not much of a leap that together they could figure out how to complete the already crafted instructions and blueprints sitting in front of them. You could even say there's legitimacy to the use of the found footage style they went for. They even comment on the use of the camera, which at least shows they recognize that it's there.
However, despite some explanation that helps solidify the camera's constant presence, the film , like so many found footage films, would have benefited from simply being shot like a typical narrative. The film even goes the lengths to, strangely enough, be somewhere in between. We see edits that don't make sense for someone whose recording and we have music play over things like a montage. It's just bizarre to see and hear these things play out over a film that is supposed to pretend to be found off camcorder footage. And these production elements aren't bad, they're just out of place and show the film could have benefited from simply eschewing the found footage style all together. There's also some head scratching moments throughout that can be eye-roll-inducing, but I tend to be able to suspend my disbelief, so it didn't bother me as much.
The film overall isn't one I'd probably tell people to run out and see. But I'd certainly tell them it's not a bad film. Far from it, it's a surprise in the sub genre of found footage. And while it doesn't reach the heights of Chronicle, which I consider to be the peak of found footage, I do think it's one of the better found footage films.
John Wick (2014)
Very Solid Action Film With A Great Turn By An Awesome Cast
John Wick was a pleasant surprise when it showed up in trailer form a little over a month ago. Coming out of nowhere, this indie action pic with a fresh director and great cast wowed a lot of people, and for good reason. It boasted the promise of excellent action, with Keanu Reeves returning to form as the badass lead. And a badass he is. John Wick is the kind of action film we don't get these days, and the director clearly knows what he is doing in delivering a truly excellent action film.
First things first, John Wick isn't going to win any big awards. It doesn't really do anything new, even in terms of innovative action. None of the characters are fresh and the story isn't really that original. But none of that matters because it's so stylishly crafted, the acting, direction, and writing so smooth, and the world so well designed, that any action junkie can get behind this slick, heavily stylized, action packed romp. After a flashforward, the film details the current state of John Wick's life. His wife has passed away and he is obviously taking it very hard. After her death, he receives one last gift from his wife, a puppy to help him keep from being alone. But it isn't long before he loses both his prized car and his last precious gift from his wife. With this taken from him, we find Wick falling back into his old life of assassination and violence. See, John Wick was once part of a world of criminals, assassins, and killers. And, according to the primary antagonist, he was the one who was hired to kill the boogey man.
And it is here where the film picks up. Where those first quiet moments in the film were somewhat slow and dreary, from the moment John Wick becomes the victim of crime to the very end of the film, it's almost non-stop action. The biggest challenge the film had was setting up Keanu to meet the legend he is described in as the film. But I can completely reassure you that Keanu is a complete badass here. While he still is not the fine, domineering actor you might find in other recently christened killers like Liam Neeson, he has the skills necessary to prove that you don't mess with John Wick. Whether it's playing up the role of a superman, capable of tackling a younger, equally talented killer while suffering a severe injury, or taking on a dozen men, all armed, in a matter of a few minutes, Keanu doesn't need to rage, pull out a booming voice, or make speeches filled with slightly ambiguous threats. All he has to do is flip you over his back and put two in your head with ease. If you don't believe Keanu is the feared killer he's trumped up to be at first, you will by the end of the film.
What helps pull this off are the thankful decisions of first time directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. As stuntmen, they clearly know their action. They eschew the typical, modern style of action of close ups and quick cuts in favor of nice, long medium and wide shots minus the quick cutting. This offers us practical action scenes and puts trust in the actors skills. Keanu has certainly proved himself capable physically, with his time spent in the Matrix and more recently Man of Tai Chi and Ronin 47. The directors allow him to use his skills to deliver action that never feels fake or trumped up. It's authentic and completely badass. Supporting him are an array of actors, including Wilem Defoe as an old friend in the business, Adrienne Palicki as a fellow assassin given an assignment to take John out, and Michael Nyquist and Alfie Allen as father and son gangsters, the latter of which who is the perpetrator of the crimes against Wick. Nyquist is especially good, a villain that isn't completely evil, and even a bit likable, who we're immediately introduced to as someone who doesn't necessarily want to do what he knows he has to do. He's entertaining in the role and makes for a criminal that, under different circumstances, might have actually been an ally to Wick.
Action films of the guns and martial arts variety have kind of gone by the wayside in the past few years, with few theatrical releases and most being VOD. But John Wick is a welcome addition to a legacy of great cinema action. For any action junkie, John Wick is an absolute must and I can only hope that this isn't the last time we'll see this Wick.
I have to admit, of all the Korean films I have seen over the years, The Attorney has to be one of the most relateable internationally. Through this film, I was constantly reminded of our own injustices within the American system, specifically during the times when the U.S. was going after supposed communists. But the film goes beyond, carrying a huge heart and an intense drama, well portrayed by it's actors. While it starts slow, it turns into a riveting and surprising court drama.
The focus is on Song Woo-seok, an attorney who, for the sake of his family, seeks to gain money and prosperity as fast as possible. In turn, however, he tries to keep out of the growing political movement of the times and focus on property and tax law. However, this changes when the son of a friend is arrested and tortured as a suspected communist. His attention turns to exposing the corrupt laws and officials responsible.
The film starts off slowly, with the first hour or so spent focused on Song's journey to building his practice, his motivations for doing so, and the troubles he faces as he does this. This beginning part is almost wholly different from the latter half of the film. Song is mostly carefree, with his budding, successful practice, the love of his family, and his growing relationships with those around him. It's both touching and humorous in some instances, and Song Kang-ho is incredibly likable as the ambitious, but big hearted Woo-seok. He's easily identifiable in his reluctance to engage in the changing political atmosphere and his ambitions to be successful for his family's sake. It would have been easy to turn him into a greedy, cold lawyer, but he is far from so. So, it is only that much more enjoyable to see him tackle such an important subject in the latter half of the film.
At the same time, it is quite riveting and you genuinely fear for the safety and security of Song as he takes on an entire justice system. While there are many surprises, it is ultimately pleasant to see Song take such a stand against an unjust system. It is at this point that the film becomes a courtroom drama, with cinematography that moves and edits that ramp up the pacing. There is genuine intrigue as to how this underdog will take on the system, and even if he can win. I won't spoil the surprises, but I will say that the film does have a few. The ending could be debated, but it is very fitting for this story and I was left with a smile. I can honestly say I was incredibly pleased with this film. Last year, Korea delivered New World, and it ended up being my favorite film of the year. This year, I had the pleasure of watching this film, and I can easily say this may very well end up as high, or nearly as high, on my list as New World. I can't recommend this film enough.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
I felt the same about the first film and had higher expectations of the sequel. With the villains involved, I had higher hopes for a better, more action packed sequel. And there were things I appreciated. But for the most part, this sequel suffered from some disappointing sequelitis, the same kinds of things we've seen in numerous other comic book flick sequels. Suffice to say, while I wasn't too disappointed, with lowered expectations, it is sad to see this film fall short. But let's talk about what's good first.
The best part of the film was easily the scenes between Garfield and Stone. Both actors are excellent in their roles and have fantastic chemistry together. When they share their scenes, their relationship is believable and it's something you can completely get behind. It's the one area of the film that Webb improves over the Raimi trilogy. There's also some decent action. The action involving Electro especially is great, with a fantastic display of special effects and an exciting sense of motion.
However, unfortunately, this is where a lot of the good stuff ends. Much of the rest of the film ranges from mediocre to bad. Pretty much anything involving Harry Osborne is cringe worthy, particularly when he starts losing his sanity. While the action involving Electro is excellent, everything about the character seems to lack depth and interest. His plight isn't the least bit interesting, and his motivations feel flimsy. While he may be sympathetic in a sense, it's a cheap kind of sympathy. He feels like a villain who is there merely to be a villain for Spider-man, with little in the way of actually being a meaningful character. Paul Giamatti makes two very brief appearances, and his character feels like little more than a nod to a future film that will probably, hopefully be much better.
The story itself isn't terribly interesting either. It's the same kind of inner conflict stuff we've seen in most other comic book films, but in particular, we've already crossed this territory. While Stone makes for a much better love interest as Gwen Stacy, it's still the same tried and true story of Peter Parker having to juggle his real life and his love for Gwen and his role as Spider-man and the danger that brings. I will give the film props for a twist at the end of the film that I think is a somewhat brave and unique thing to do in a comic book film, but it's one plot point in many other retreads that we've already seen. And the stuff involving Peter's parents still isn't all that interesting. It's a nice attempt to add changes to Peter's origin, but they're just not that interesting, which is too bad considering how much of Peter's inner struggle comes from that.
This outing of Spider-man feels much like the first: uninteresting villains, needless changes to the origin story, action that, while decent, fails to be really memorable. The biggest problem here is that it feels like the middle part of a bigger story. We've seen this with films like Iron Man 2, but there is no backing here with a larger cinematic universe. Instead, we just have to hope and wait for a better Spider-man movie to come.