The Amazing Spider-Man

With the surprise additions of Little Miss who decided to extend her “world’s latest bedtime” record until after 11pm, we opted for cheap-o-vision rather an IMAX to see the umpteenth version of the Webbed Wonder. Astoundingly, there were more 2D than 3D performances at the local Cineworld so we didn’t have a problem getting tickets.

The Amazing Spider-Man

“You seriously think I’m a cop in a skintight red and blue suit?”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Seriously? OK… boy gets bitten by spider, gets spider powers, faces big nasty bad guy. Happy?

See it if you like: Comic book adaptations with a very strong story, which don’t stay as close to the version you’re used to as you may expect

First things first – did they deliberately hunt out a director called Marc Webb purely for this film or did he change his name for publicity reasons? Either way, he’s done a good job and even turned a doubting Thomas like me into a believer. I simply couldn’t believe they were “rebooting” a franchise that was barely ten years old, with the last instalment not even five years ago.

Reboot they did, though, and relative unknown Andrew Garfield was cast in the Peter Parker role. A part, incidentally, he’s very good in. He has all of the confused teenagery-ness that Maguire had… and then some. Parker’s “proper” girlfriend as per the older comic history, Gwen Stacey, is drafted back in in the form of Emma Stone. Pretty, yes, but definitely doesn’t pass for a high school pupil. At all. Denis Leary is superb as her dad, Captain Stacey, and it’s great to see him in a film role for the first time in ages (not counting voicing animated sabre-toothed tigers).

There are many other differences between this and the last series, which is a good thing. I really enjoyed the previous trilogy, and it’s a welcome thing to see that they’re not effectively being remade. The basic story is still there (MINOR SPOILER: orphan who lives with aunt and uncle is bitten by spider, develops powers, has fight with uncle, uncle dies, boy tries to hunt down killer) but beyond that we’re in fairly new territory.

Despite appearing in the previous films, Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) never actually featured as a villain. In this, he’s the central one and a great character with two very interesting sides to his story. There are many nods to other parts of Spidey-history that fans may be familiar with, but they are really just on the periphery – The Bugle, OsCorp and so on.

Oh, and of course the obligatory (in fact, I believe contractual) Stan Lee cameo. This is the best one he’s done so far. Even better than that from Thor (which was, let’s face it, the only good bit in that film).

If there’s a problem with the film it’s that it’s a bit too drawn out and slow to get going. Gillian and I felt it, but it didn’t bother us too much. Little Miss, on the other hand, definitely needed the action to kick in a little earlier. At 137 minutes long, it’s a long time to wait to see some ass-whupping. Having said that, once it gets going the action sequences are superb. Not too fast, while still being clear and imaginative. Much use was made of acrobats and actors rather than CGI and it shows in the character movement making them all the more realistic and enjoyable to watch.

Would this have been worth the extra cash to see in 3D at the IMAX? Yes, I think it would. There are enough huge scenes that I think it would benefit. However, there’s nothing wrong with seeing it in good old-fashioned 2D.

A cracking film, and a good take on what’s becoming a very familiar story.

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Red / Burke and Hare / Easy A

Assuming that M Law Solicitors don’t demand I take down this blog post for defaming a film for giving it bad reviews (as they did with my post regarding Parking Eye, which I still maintain wasn’t defamatory as it was in the public interest), please enjoy the following catch-up from the last 2 weeks’ abuse of my Cineworld pass.

Red

“Time to open up the pig”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: a group of retired secret agents take on the CIA to find out who’s put them on a “to be killed” list.

This is another in the current run of bigger-than-life action films that seem to be putting bums on seats at the moment. It’s also one of the best, mainly due to a novel idea and a superb cast. Come on – Helen Mirren with guns? How can that not be cool?

The rest of the eldsters are played by Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman. Freeman could be in the biggest cinematic turd in history and would still make his sequences worth watching, but fortunately Red is no such bum-dropping and is instead just good fun.

There’s plenty of action and it makes full use of the common trend of using CGI rather than stuntmen to a large degree. I still prefer more old-school effects (Raiders is the best Indy film by a mile for several reasons, this being one of them), but it doesn’t stop Red being any less enjoyable.

Definitely go see.

Burke and Hare

“That… would be an artery”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Two Irish guys stumble across a nice way of making money – selling corpses to a medical school. Only what happens when they run out of fresh meat?

Honestly, can Simon Pegg do know wrong? I honestly don’t think I’ve seen him in a film I’ve not enjoyed yet. When you add the likes of Andy Serkis and Tim Curry to the cast, then top it off with Ronnie Corbett it would take some kind of miracle to destroy it. Get John Landis to direct and you may as well buy your ticket without seeing a review.

Burke and Hare is perfect Halloween fodder. It’s set in the 19th century, it’s grisly, it’s tasteless and it’s funny. I’d not recommend it for younger kids due to some of the scenes being a little too “eeeeewww” but other than that it’s superb.

There are loads of little references in the background (Greyfriar’s Bobby makes an appearance) and the original historical tale does make for decent film material, even if the facts have been moulded somewhat.

Looking at the other horrors available this Halloween, this has to be the best of the bunch.

Easy A

“That’s the one thing that trumps religion… capitalism”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: shy teen pretends to nob schoolmates for cash/vouchers until it all goes too far

I didn’t expect to enjoy this, despite the trailer being “OK”. After all, it’s a teen-girl-at-a-school film, and they’re pretty formulaic. I just went as it was on at a good time for me to fill 90 minutes of an afternoon.

Oh, I love it when I’m proved wrong.

Easy A has a fantastic script, beautiful dialogue, an in credible wit and a decent story. Emma Stone is excellent as Olive, the girl who gets talked into pretending to sleep with a gay classmate to stop him being bullied for his sexuality. Who then recommends him to others, until she’s made out to be the school slut.

The supporting cast are all well-played from her hilarious family, to the wise-cracking English teacher and the bonkers Christian brigade. There genuinely is not a dull moment.

While Olive does bemoan the fact that her life story wasn’t directed by John Hughes, it could have been. It’s that good.

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