Cinema City Film Quiz #76

[29 July 2012]


Winning Team:
The Jedi Knight Rises

Genre – Nolan directs an overly bloated sequel trilogy with lots of shaky cam

Runners Up:
Born On The 4th Of May
Genre – Psychological thriller
Ewok Stir Fry
Genre – Culinary space opera
Star Wars Is Dead To Me. Stop It, Lucas, Just Stop It. And While We’re At It, Leave Indiana Jones Alone Too
Genre – A threat
Super Stormtroopers
Genre – An Ewokumentary about a Tatooine ABBA tribute band


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What is the name of the hockey team in The Mighty Ducks?
THE DUCKS
2. What is the subtitle to the Jurassic Park sequel?
THE LOST WORLD
3. How many Meet The Parents films have been released to date?
THREE
4. Which two actors play the lead roles in Twins? (one point per correct answer)
DANNY DEVITO / ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
5. Which documentarian directed Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11?
MICHAEL MOORE
6. What two sports are the focus of Happy Gilmore? (one point per correct answer)
GOLF / HOCKEY
7. The Red Dragon prequel followed the successful release of which film?
HANNIBAL
8. In which year was Gorillas In The Mist: The Story Of Dian Fossey released?
1988
9. Who directed Weird Science?
JOHN HUGHES
10. What was the title of the 1990 film directed by Sidney Poitier, starring Bill Cosby?
GHOST DAD

ROUND II: Filming [Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid Round]
1. How many Star Wars films did George Lucas direct? One? Two? Three?
ONE
2. Which part of the trilogy marks the first appearance of the glowing ghost image of Obi-Wan Kenobi? Star Wars? The Empire Strikes Back? Return Of The Jedi?
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
3. What rank does Han Solo and Lando Calrissian hold in Return Of The Jedi? Captain? Colonel? General?
GENERAL
4. When Princess Leia reveals the location of the rebel base, what is the planet she names, in Star Wars? Dantooine? Yavin IV? Endor?
DANTOOINE
5. What is the name of the creature that the rebels ride for surveillance, in The Empire Strikes Back? Gundark? Tauntaun? Wampa?
TAUNTAUN
6. Is the second Death Star (seen in Return Of The Jedi) the same size, smaller or bigger than its predecessor? Same size? Smaller? Bigger?
BIGGER
7. Which of the following is not one of the squads in the Death Star run, in Star Wars? Blue? Red? Gold?
BLUE
8. The first appearance of the emperor in The Empire Strikes Back is a visual composite of an actress and which animal? Chameleon? Chimpanzee? Cat?
CHIMPANZEE
9. How old was Warwick Davis when he played the role of Wicket, in Return Of The Jedi? Nine? Ten? Eleven?
ELEVEN
10. Lando only has two changes of clothes, one of which is Han Solo’s outfit. True or False?
TRUE

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Name as many of the 12 songs performed by Spinal Tap in This Is Spinal Tap (one point per correct answer)
HELL HOLE / TONIGHT I’M GONNA ROCK YOU TONIGHT / HEAVY DUTY / ROCK AND ROLL CREATION / AMERICA / CUPS AND CAKES / BIG BOTTOM / SEX FARM / STONEHENGE / GIMME SOME MONEY / ALL THE WAY HOME / LICK MY LOVE PUMP
2. The Alan Ladd film Saskatchewan is set in which country?
CANADA
3. In HouseSitter, when Newton Davis first meets Gwen in a restaurant, what nationality does he assume she is?
HUNGARIAN
4. 20th Century Fox’s independent subsidiary is Fox Searchlight, what is the independent distributor for Paramount?
PARAMOUNT VANTAGE
5. The Gorgonites and the Commando Elite are two warring factions in which family film?
SMALL SOLDIERS
6. Which three actors portray the astronauts aboard Apollo 13, in the film of the same name? (one point per correct answer)
TOM HANKS / BILL PAXTON / KEVIN BACON
7. Who plays the Conlon’s lawyer in In The Name Of The Father?
EMMA THOMPSON
8. The following is a quote from which film, “Now we’re going to do something extremely fun. We’re going to play a game called Who is my daddy and what does he do?”?
KINDERGARTEN COP
9. What are the surnames of the three men aboard the Orca who hunt the shark, in Jaws? (one point per correct answer)
QUINT / BRODY / HOOPER
10. There are five bold words on the poster for Carlito’s Way, two of which are the film’s title. What are the other three? (one point per correct answer)
PACINO / SEAN / PENN

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is essentially a remake of which 1964 film? Send Me No Flowers? The Carpetbaggers? Bedtime Story?
BEDTIME STORY
2. What is the title of Kevin Smith’s sixth film? Clerks II? Jersey Girl? Zack And Miri Make A Porno?
JERSEY GIRL
3. Which 1976 film was produced by David Frost (and is also heavily referenced in Frost/Nixon)? The Slipper And The Rose? A Star Is Born? Network?
THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE
4. What causes Helen to go blind in Magnificent Obsession? Staring at the sun during an eclipse? Chemical spill? Car accident?
CAR ACCIDENT
5. Who plays the title role in The Glenn Miller Story? Bing Crosby? James Stewart? Dean Martin?
JAMES STEWART
6. Which of the following is not a plot thread from 1970’s Airport? Celebrity breakdown? Snowstorm? Suicide bomber?
CELEBRITY BREAKDOWN
7. Which of the following actors starred in The Blob? Yul Brynner? Robert Vaughn? Steve McQueen?
STEVE MCQUEEN
8. What did Alan Parker direct after Evita? Angela’s Ashes? The Commitments? The Life Of David Gale?
ANGELA’S ASHES
9. What is the title of the only Hitchcock film to star Paul Newman? The Wrong Man? Torn Curtain? The Trouble With Harry?
TORN CURTAIN
10. During filming of Bollywood film Devdas, a wind machine fell over and decapitated a crew member, spattering Aishwarya Rai. True or False?
TRUE

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Rise

Director
Christopher Nolan

Starring
Christian Bale
Tom Hardy
Anne Hathaway
Joseph Gordon-Levitt



In light of the atrocious marketing campaign, the hype and the pressure, this film has unfortunately failed to accomplish that which only one cinematic franchise has achieved: growing excellence. In this case I’m referring to the Toy Story films and before you harp on about Lord Of The Rings, that was an adaptation of an already established trilogy.. very different. Oh, and if you even whisper the words Star Wars at me, so help me God, I’ll rob you of your genitalia in one swift kick. But I digress, this is an exceptional attempt at a closing chapter but falls short of its predecessor’s accomplishments by a long shot.

Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham has been experiencing a period of unprecedentedly low crime rates. The Batman [Bale] has been absent from the public eye and the Dent Act (a prosecution law, named after Gotham’s former District Attorney) has ensured criminals have been kept off the streets. Unbeknownst to everyone, a ruthless terrorist, Bane [Hardy], has been slowly amassing a loyal army with the intent of spreading panic throughout Gotham. Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon [Gary Oldman] is racked with guilt for misleading the public in accusing Batman of killing Gotham’s white knight, Harvey Dent; at the same time he’s being ousted from his position by his peers who believe it’s time for a change in leadership. Having spent so long on the side-lines, Bruce Wayne soon realises that he needs a great deal of assistance, with his company, his crime-fighting life and the long-term symbol of justice he’s strived to establish. And that’s as much as I can reveal without broadly strolling into spoiler territory.

Taking into account the scope, scale and presentation, this film aims for gloriousness and at times achieves it; the cinematography is pitch perfect, the direction is precise and succinct, the production values are extraordinary but the ambitious plot doesn’t pay off with the inspirational resonance it was desperately trying to strike. What’s more, Hans Zimmer’s score wasn’t as strong as his previous contributions. Sure, the familiar tones are still present and the new Bane theme worked reasonably well but a lot of it fell into obscurity and background ambience; having said that, it’s still better than most efforts. Technically, Nolan is in complete command of his abilities and knows how to produce something truly stunning, whilst retaining a surprising amount of drama and emotional undercurrent but his inability to process genuine human interaction and the pace dragging on so frequently for so long causes the film to suffer heavily, in spite of the stellar casting.

But as much as this is a decent close to the Dark Knight trilogy, it’s far from a perfect film. Sure, it’s gritty, dark, edgy and captivating but it’s also plastered with several negative Nolan traits. To explain, every director has a distinctive signature which can take the form of a particular filming style, same collaborators, favoured shots, etc but this also includes detrimental elements. In Nolan’s case he has a tendency to come off as pretentious, portentous, stodgy and arrogantly dismissive of glaring plot holes. Personally, I’m a fan of Nolan’s work and can happily dismiss these frustrations, even to go so far as to justify them as distinctive signatures in their own right. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that this film is heavily set with these drawbacks; the opening third act is so exposition heavy and laboured in its pacing that audiences really have to sit up and focus. If you watch all three films back-to-back, it makes sense to have a slow and steady build for your third act (an inhalation before the final blow-out) but as a standalone release, there was just a slight stagnation that kept the story from really taking off. In a way, you could compare it to The Lord Of The Rings or Game Of Thrones in the sense that the payoff is thrilling but you have to sit through a lot of cable laying in order to really appreciate the closing encounter. Which brings me back to the Nolan traits, that delightful cocky arrogance that I both respect and bemoan, that attitude of giving the people the same schlock but gift wrapping it in verbose dialogue and praiseworthy performances, to elevate the finished product. A good comparison could be Transformers: The Dark Of The Moon: long torrid opening act, momentum building second act and all-out final act. That film, as trashy as it was, had the same basic structure as The Dark Knight Rises but this film presented it better. A controversial statement, maybe, but one I stand by.

Finally, from a comic fanboy’s point of view, this still isn’t Batman. I love what Nolan and co. have done with this trilogy but in a way, this series’ success pisses me off a little. You see, as great as the films are, they are shitty Batman adaptations and venture into weird highly convenient James bloody Bond territory. A lot is done right but by grounding everything so heavily in reality, the second you try and introduce a truly ‘comic book’ element, it can come off as jarring. Bale has embodied Bruce Wayne and Batman closer than anyone to date but he still sounds like a moron when getting worked up during his bouts with Bane, all that screaming and roaring like a horny walrus, it just makes him seem a little silly. It’s almost as if Nolan is so ashamed of the Batman concept that he has to pick and mix elements of characters in order to come out with something he feels is justifiably credible and by doing so, he has paved the way for future adaptations to do the same. It’s for that reason that I’m actually looking forward to a reboot, in the right hands, we could see a Batman/Bat-Family closer to the comics but because Nolan’s done such an entertaining job, anything that follows is going to have several detractors – the same problem that The Amazing Spider-Man encountered. So, as a film, it’s commendable, as a trilogy is pretty impressive, as a comic book movie, it’s not bad; The Dark Knight Trilogy is ball-shatteringly good cinema but to my mind, The Avengers is the perfect comic book movie. But that’s neither here nor there, just a little commentary on adaptations.

As stated, this isn’t a perfect film but it’s a gripping close to a powerful series that tells a genuinely engrossing story while tying up so many plot points and loose ends that have been raised since 2005.


Release Date:
20th July 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
One thing the Dark Knight trilogy lacks (and the same could be said for the Batman comics) is a sense of fun. Batman has always been the dark, brooding, distrusting type and any appearance in other DC comics cements this buzz-kill attitude. As such, any semblance of ‘fun’ is greatly appreciated and it’s usually in the form of a villain. In this case, my most memorable scene would be the kangaroo court presided over by the eccentric judge (excuse the vagueness, don’t intend on ruining anything). With a plot of this nature, it’s hard to inject a little humour without coming off as hammy or distracting, thankfully this was the perfect way to avoid just that.

Notable Characters:
It’s very easy to forget the established characters/cast in favour of the new faces, so I’ll quickly state that anyone who reprised a role did so brilliantly. Now, with regards to the four new key players: Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard, to come into a successful franchise so late in the game is a brave thing and while they make valiant attempts any effect they have on the plot is a exiting one with no follow-up or consequence. No one performance outweighed the others and yet everyone had their moment on-screen to produce something wholly memorable.

Highlighted Quote:
“Suffering builds character”

In A Few Words:
“My initial reaction is one of great joy at what this film strived to achieve and delivered but I maintain concern that with repeat viewing it could suffer the same retrospective fate as Avatar”

Total Score:

3/5

TED

Best Friends Forever?

Director
Seth MacFarlane

Starring
Mark Wahlberg
Mila Kunis
Seth MacFarlane



Have you ever tried to review a Seth MacFarlane series? As much as I love American Dad a lot of the comedy in his various shows are quite samey; less in plot and more tone. As such, this review is going to be exceptionally tricky to pad out and if it comes off as eighty per cent filler, I apologise.

The premise of Ted is an incredibly simple one. One Christmas evening a young, lonely boy named John Bennett makes a wish that his new teddy bear was in fact a sentient being.. granted, he didn’t phrase it like that. The next day the bear comes to life, much to the initial horror and dismay of John’s parents and goes on to shock and intrigue the world. Throughout the late 80’s Ted becomes a bit of a ‘child’ star but always makes time for his best friend John. As the narration aptly puts it, “No matter how big a splash you make in this world, whether you’re Corey Feldman, Frankie Muniz, Justin Bieber or a talking teddy bear, eventually nobody gives a shit.” Which brings us to the present day and a 35 year old John [Wahlberg] who is still living with foul-mouthed, pot smoking cuddly toy, Ted [MacFarlane]. Both reside with John’s girlfriend of four years, Lori [Kunis] but the cluttered household life is starting to put a strain on John and Lori’s relationship. As such, Ted is forced to move out but separating from his childhood friend proves increasingly difficult for John, who finds himself continually skiving from work to get stoned. Underneath the central narrative of the bond between John and Ted is the creepy fanboy [Giovanni Ribisi] who randomly crops up every now-and-then, hoping to purchase Ted for his spoiled son.

Concept aside, it’s very easy for a continuously swearing puppet to lose its initial humorous appeal but the plot manages to entertain and surprise audiences without ever really deviating from wholly predictable scenarios and solutions – odd sentence, I know. A more succinct way of saying that would be, if you’ve seen one MacFarlane production, you’ve seen them all but that doesn’t mean they’re not bloody hilarious. Last time I saw Wahlberg and Kunis in a film together it was Max Payne… and that was utter dog shit. So shaking that image was relatively tricky – the two foot talking bear helped. Overall Ted is an impressive directorial debut, the pacing is good, the jokes are obvious but work, the performances fit and the direction is reasonably standard but wholly capable. The score was a little flamboyant at times, mixing MacFarlane’s penchant for big musical numbers and brassy John Williams-esque pieces but on the whole it works rather well. Furthermore, it’s only at the very end of the film that you actually stop and think about the fact that the bear was CGI – which is an incredible achievement.

Ultimately, Ted suffers from the same defects as everything else MacFarlane has helmed. The plot is littered with pop culture references and subsequently this film will age badly. I mean, it’s largely toned down and doesn’t feel as bewildering as the first series of Family Guy but the colloquial humour is pretty much lost on international audiences and coupled with contemporary products and celebrities I’ve never heard of, a lot of decent jokes fall by the side of the road. Additionally, this film also panders to kids of the 80’s and younger fans are going to be equally confused by the unfamiliar faces and items. But that’s unavoidable and accurate to real life interactions, so we’ll move on. There’s also the casual racism that racists will laugh with rather than at. In the same way that Sacha Baron Cohen created Ali G and Borat to take the piss out of wannabe middle class gangstas and people ignorant of or unable to deal with foreign culture, the public misinterpreted them and laughed at the base level jokes. So while being a beautiful stereotype of a roguish Boston duo, John and Ted will largely be regarded as inspirational figures. In other words, if you’re laughing and thinking, “Hey, that’s just like me and my buddy!” then you’re a douche and everyone else in the cinema is laughing at the fact you exist as opposed to the nonsense you’re rambling on about. Then there’s the incredibly neat ending. I admit there were few ways to end this film well but it was still a little safe, a little paint by numbers and although this is a directorial debut, you’d think after a decade of pushing the envelope, MacFarlane and co. would have produced something unique. And finally, despite the potential, the Ribisi sub-plot is a little wasted. He simply turns up at the end of the film and is dispatched just as quickly; wholly predictable. Enjoyable. But predictable.

It’s very difficult to find new ways of saying ‘This movie was funny if offensive to those with delicate sensibilities. It is pop culture heavy and resolves neatly but overall I was entertained.’ And in all honesty, the second people find out this is a MacFarlane production they will come to their own conclusions based on their previous experiences with his comedic style. Point in case, despite the several hundred people who worked on this film, I’ve used the word MacFarlane seven times. In my official capacity as a film critic, I would say it’s a curiously heart-warming, foul mouthed comedy that delivers several ridiculous scenarios and laughs. Having said that, I’m a fan of this brand of humour so make of it what you will.


Release Date:
1st August 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
I think the two interactions between Ted and the grocery store manager were particularly amusing, solely for the brazen attitude and shockingly blunt content. That’s all I’m saying on the matter, don’t want to ruin it.

Notable Characters:
Anything with Sam J. Jones was gold. For some unknown reason Flash Gordon plays a large role in the narrative and the extended cameo made by Flash Gordon’s lead (who I haven’t seen since that one episode of Stargate thirteen years ago) was pitch-perfect from start to finish. That man needs more work in comedy. Either that or Patrick Stewart who ‘appears’ as the narrator. For some reason, listening to Patrick Stewart saying outrageous shit never gets old: “Remember Branden Routh from that God awful Superman movie? Thanks for getting our hopes up and then taking a great big shit on them!” in particular comes to mind.

Highlighted Quote:
“There are some fucking weird fish out there”

In A Few Words:
“Crude, obscene and sophomoric but curiously endearing, Ted is the atypical MacFarlane release – which will guarantee a complete polarisation of the audience”

Total Score:

3/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #75

[15 July 2012]


Winning Team:
The Hole In The Alcove Gang (Bolivian Army Olympic Security Squad)

Genre – 2012 Stratford-based documentary

Runners Up:
The Newman Centipede
Genre – Science fiction
The Dark Shite Rises
Genre – A cleaner’s unpleasant biopic
Something, Something, Batman
Genre – Mystery
David Cassidy & The Karate Kid
Genre – Karate musical


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What was the name of the sequel to Wayne’s World?
WAYNE’S WORLD II
2. Sonny Landham played a character named Billy in Predator. What was the name of his character in 48 Hrs?
BILLY
3. Quasimodo is the main character in which Disney film?
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
4. Who played the lead role in 1968’s Bullitt?
STEVE MCQUEEN
5. In the film Hook, Rufio’s hair is dyed two colours. List them. (one point per correct answer)
BLACK / RED
6. What was the second Monty Python film?
THE HOLY GRAIL
7. The Wicked Witch that was murdered by Dorothy at the start of The Wizard Of Oz takes her name from which compass direction?
EAST
8. What were the titles of the two volcano films released in 1997?
VOLCANO / DANTE’S PEAK
9. What is the name of Winston’s lover in Nineteen Eighty Four?
JULIA
10. How many Halloween films star Donald Pleasence?
FIVE (Halloween / Halloween II / 4: The Return Of Michael Myers / 5: Revenge Of.. / 6: Curse Of..)

ROUND II: Filming [Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid Round]
1. Which of the following starred in Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid? Paul Newman? Robert Redford? Katharine Ross?
ANY
2. Which character has a moustache? The Sundance Kid? Etta Place? Butch Cassidy?
THE SUNDANCE KID
3. What is the name of Butch’s gang? The Wild Bunch? Hole In The Wall? Sons Of Silence?
HOLE IN THE WALL GANG
4. Which South American country does Butch frequently suggest they relocate to? Chile? Peru? Bolivia?
BOLIVIA
5. Which of the following did Butch and Sundance not rob? Wagon? Train? Bank?
WAGON
6. How many men are on the posse that chase Butch and Sundance? Five? Six? Seven?
SIX
7. What was the name of the Burt Bacharach song which was recorded for the film and won an Oscar? I Say A Little Prayer? Walk On By? Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head?
RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING ON MY HEAD
8. What is the name of the gang member that challenges Butch for leadership? Harvey Logan? George Curry? Jack Ketchum?
HARVEY LOGAN
9. What gives away Butch and Sundance’s identity to the police and army at the end of the film? Sundance’s pistols? A branded mule? Marked bank notes?
BRANDED MULE
10. For the famous cliff jump scene, Newman and Redford signed several documents to waive the need for stuntmen and performed the stunt themselves. True or False?
FALSE (Newman often talked Redford out of performing stunts himself)

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. The following is one of the opening lines from which British film, “I don’t want to spoil it but I’ll say one word: Icarus. If you get it, great. If you don’t that’s fine too but you should probably read more”?
24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE
2. What do the villagers of Summerisle grow and hope their sacrifice will restore, in The Wicker Man?
APPLES
3. To date, Woody Allen has directed 42 feature films. Where is Match Point on that list?
THIRTY SIXTH
4. Who played Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell To Earth?
DAVID BOWIE
5. What subject does Barbara Covett (Judi Dench’s character) teach, in Notes On A Scandal?
HISTORY
6. What does Ace do for a living, much to Jimmy’s surprise, in Quadrophenia?
BELLBOY
7. Quills tells the story of which author?
MARQUIS DE SADE
8. Queen contributed music to which two films? (one point per correct answer)
FLASH GORDON / HIGHLANDER
9. Which year saw the release of War Of The Worlds, King Kong and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory?
2005
10. The six major film studios are Warner Bros, Paramount, Fox, Universal, Disney and Sony. What are the four mini-majors? (one point per correct answer)
DREAMWORKS / LIONSGATE / MGM / WEINSTEIN CO

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which actor made his feature film debut in The Lion In Winter, as Richard The Lionheart? Peter O’Toole? Timothy Dalton? Anthony Hopkins?
ANTHONY HOPKINS
2. Chariots Of Fire takes place during which Olympic games? 1920? 1924? 1928?
1924
3. The History Boys takes place in which UK city? Sheffield? Leeds? Preston?
SHEFFIELD
4. Ginger, Rocky and Babs are characters in which animated film? Flushed Away? Arthur Christmas? Chicken Run?
CHICKEN RUN
5. Where does Stanley work in Bedazzled? McDonald’s? Wimpy? Little Chef? [bonus point for naming the actor who plays the role of Stanley]
WIMPY [Dudley Moore]
6. Which of the following is the original title for Kirk Jones’ 1998 debut film? Waking Ned? Waking Ned Devine? Playing Dead?
WAKING NED
7. What is the only similarity between 1973’s The Day Of The Jackal and 1997’s The Jackal? Sidney Poitier appeared in both films? Assassination attempt on a French president? The assassin nicknamed The Jackal?
ASSASSIN NICKNAMED THE JACKAL
8. Who starred in the lead role in The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain? Ralph Fiennes? Hugh Grant? Richard E. Grant?
HUGH GRANT
9. Throughout A Fish Called Wanda, which of George’s eyes is covered with a patch? Right? Left? Neither?
NEITHER (Ken wears the eye-patch)
10. Although everyone recognises the Hellraiser character by its nickname, Pinhead, this name is never used in any of the films. True or False?
FALSE (first used in Hellraiser III)

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

The Untold Story Begins

Director
Marc Webb

Starring
Andrew Garfield
Emma Stone
Rhys Ifans
Sally Field
Martin Sheen



Not five years on from the last Spider-Man film and we’re back in New York with a new story featuring Marvel’s most recognised character. Acting as a reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man introduces us to a different Peter Parker [Garfield] who loses his parents at an early age, through suspicious circumstances. Years later, Peter is a high school nobody, intelligently gifted but clearly a bit bored with school life (homework, bullies, thoughts about girls, etc). Living with his Aunt May [Field] and Uncle Ben [Sheen], Peter accidentally finds an old briefcase belonging to his deceased father. In it he discovers a formula and seeks out his father’s old lab partner, Dr. Curt Connors [Rhys]. Long story short, whilst exploring the labs at Oscorp, Peter runs into class-mate Gwen Stacy [Stone], gets bitten by a spider, gets spider powers and works with Connors on cross-species genetics, which transforms Connors into a hideous lizard beast thing called.. the Lizard. Action, drama and a surprising amount of emotion ensue.

I really enjoyed this film – that statement is paramount above all else. The Amazing Spider-Man was a fun, engrossing and surprisingly heartfelt release. But despite that, the majority of my review is going to be focused on the very fact this movie exists. In truth, it’s far too late in the day to be discussing the necessity of this film; that was a subject for the pre-production stage. But it’s here now. The film has been released and whether or not it should have been filmed in the first place is irrelevant. So, forget Sam Raimi’s trilogy and try to remember that this isn’t a remake or reinterpretation, it’s a new adaptation of the same source material. As such, we’re obviously going to retread familiar ground and the origin story will have to be covered but that shouldn’t detract from the quality of this movie. And before you bring up the unique take that Nolan brought to Batman, you should consider that Tim Burton’s flick was hardly covered like an origin story and The Dark Knight saga, as ball-achingly brilliant as it is, is far from the comics. Furthermore, when Nolan leaves and Warner/DC decide to reboot the Bat, then you can start bitching and moaning about ‘too soon’ and ‘not necessary’, etc.

One of the key reasons The Amazing Spider-Man works so well is the perfectly assembled cast and crew. Marc Webb’s directorial debut, 500 Days Of Summer, is my absolute favourite romantic comedy and the high point of 2009, so I had complete faith that he would produce something of major significance. The cinematography, camera direction, editing and set design all come together beautifully, creating a rich but evidently darker universe. Equally impressive was the choice of actors. The exceptional casting meant that for the first time we get to explore the life of Peter Parker without rushing to get back to the Spider-Man persona, largely due to his appealing nature, genuine human interest and glorious mix of nerdy shyness and cheeky wit. Garfield brings Peter to life in a wholly plausible way while simultaneously embodying the Spider-Man from the comics – short, wiry, fast and agile. Gwen Stacy is also a nice addition, bringing a very credible and endearing slow-burn love story to the plot without feeling unnecessarily forced or heavy-handed. But one of the more pleasant surprises was probably the inclusion of Martin Sheen and Sally Field. Rather than the holier-than-thou attitude we’re all too familiar with, Field and Sheen bond like a real couple and the eventual demise of the Uncle Ben character not only comes across as sincere but also gut-wrenchingly emotional.

However, this is by no means a perfect release and there are two or three elements that fucked me off so completely. The first is the sinfully terrible score. I’m an ardent believer that a musical soundtrack can make or break a film and movies of this nature need thunderingly epic musical accompaniment with memorable themes. What we got was a handful of after thoughts and half-arsed attempts from the industry’s most overrated composer, James phone-it-in Horner. To say this was a disappointment would be an understatement. In truth, this was a detrimental and damaging element that came close to utterly obliterating the mood of specific scenes. Then there’s the villain. As a mad scientist torn between his work and his moral obligations, Rhys Ifans’ Curt Connors is driven and believable; his transformation to the Lizard, on the other hand, was a bit of a misfire. In the comics and the cartoons, the Lizard works to a degree but the problem stems from his motives, or lack thereof. Connors merely wants to cure himself but slowly allows the power and the serum to corrupt his mind, sending him on an initial quest for vengeance (sort of) and then one of maniacal proportions. I just wasn’t sold on the idea that the Lizard wanted to convert the world into a race of reptilian people. Magneto’s plight in X-Men felt real and, to him at least, justified; the Lizard’s reasons are not only unexplored but verge on unnecessary plot device. All of which, without mentioning the creature itself – gotta say, didn’t like it. The brief nods to the comics with the shredded lab coats were nice, no issue there but then we see his face and hear him talking. What the fuck? Would it have been so hard to alter the voice a little further than additional bass? Bit of a hiss perhaps? But even that’s not so bad, it’s the lack of a snout that irritated me. Yes, you heard correctly: the Lizard’s humany face. Ergh.. annoyed me. Wanted to slap it. He should have looked more like a reptile and less like a goomba from the 1993 Super Mario Bros film because as soon as I made that connection, that’s ALL I saw.

As I stated earlier, one should not compare this release to Raimi’s trilogy, anymore than one should compare different adaptations of Pride & Prejudice but as audiences are fickle and stupid, it would appear we need to devote at least one paragraph to the differences, if only to highlight why this version is better. As stated, the characters in this release feel much closer to the comics and by that I don’t mean the suit-clad Parker of the 60’s but more the tonality of the Spider-Man comics, the humour, the action pieces, the home-life, etc. At the time, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst came off as perfect for the roles but once we got to the third film, both seemed tired to be playing the same unevolving characters and really didn’t want to be there anymore. For that reason alone, Garfield feels fresh but he’s infinitely more likeable as a person than the do-gooding Maguire and his constant dilemma of whether to whine or cry. Having said that, one thing Raimi got right was the casting of J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson – The Amazing Spider-Man could have used a bit of Bugle but I appreciate that would have been far too similar to the other films. Then there’s the web-shooters and the exploration of Peter’s brilliant scientific mind, something that Raimi only explored in the second film and even then it didn’t sell too well because Maguire was a whinging ponce. But the real kick in the balls is the loss of Danny Elfman’s incredible theme. The soundtrack for Spider-Man was pitch-perfect, memorable and basically hit all the notes that Horner completely failed to. In my opinion, this is a much stronger opening when compared to the Raimi trilogy but with the previous films fresh in audiences’ minds, it’s hard to say how well it’ll do.

While I don’t exactly understand how they managed to rack up a bill in excess of two hundred and twenty million dollars, the use of CGI was decent, immersive and largely without fault. The only frustration I felt was the knowledge that The Avengers managed three times as much with the exact same budget. Nevertheless, Webb’s film is undoubtedly the second best Spidey film, directly behind Spider-Man 2 and I have extremely high hopes for the obvious sequel to come. Ultimately my irritations with the villain pales when compared to my irritations with audience comments and ‘complaints’.


Release Date:
6th July 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
I think it’s safe to say that Peter’s discovery and experimentation with his newfound powers are some of the most hilarious and engaging scenes. First, asleep on the subway before jolting awake and taking out his tormenters with an awkward precision and secondly, the following morning decimating his alarm clock and the bathroom sink. The entire thing is conducted with the same energy and comedic accuracy of silent movie slapstick, without veering into excessively cheesy territory.

Notable Characters:
Without a doubt, Garfield’s Parker/Spider-Man is bang on and brings something hitherto unseen to the screen; not to mention the wonderfully honest chemistry between Garfield and Stone. But in my opinion, the real runaway character was Martin Sheen’s Uncle Ben. Partly due to the man’s cinematic stature, partly due to the family dynamic that’s written between him, his wife and his nephew and partly because of the subtly brilliant performance at hand. What’s more, he didn’t say “with great power comes great responsibility” ..so we don’t have to have that bleated at us over-and-over throughout every single sequel. Maybe I’m just anti-Cliff Robertson. Oh and Denis Leary was pretty awesome too and perfectly cast.

Highlighted Quote:
“She looks familiar. That’s the girl from your computer.. He’s got you on his computer”

In A Few Words:
“A better origin story than Raimi’s Spider-Man, graced with real heart and chemistry but falls a little flat when it comes to over-the-top action. Either way, stupidly fun, surprisingly dark and a wondrous setup for future stories”

Total Score:

4/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #74

[01 July 2012]


Winning Team:
Blanc

Genre – A witty film about puns and play-on words

Runners Up:
The Wizard Of Stoghz
Genre – Hyper-violent self-aware road trip cum criticism fuelled film with Munchkins and ruby slippers
Black To The Fuchsia
Genre – Neo-noir


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What was the professional nickname for boxer Jake LaMotta, in Raging Bull?
RAGING BULL
2. Who starred in the lead role in To Kill A Mocking Bird?
GREGORY PECK
3. What age rating was given to Jurassic Park?
PG
4. ‘I believe in Harvey Dent’ and ‘Why so serious?’ were poster taglines for which film?
THE DARK KNIGHT
5. Who directed Apocalypse Now?
FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA
6. Complete the quote from Back To The Future: “Where we’re going, we don’t need..”
ROADS
7. What colour is Clint Eastwood’s poncho at the end of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?
BROWN
8. Rashomon, Audition and Himizu were all filmed in which country?
JAPAN
9. Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds starred in which 1952 musical comedy?
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
10. The finale of North By Northwest takes place on which US national monument?
MOUNT RUSHMORE

ROUND II: Filming [Films With Colours In The Title Special Round]
1. Name one of the films in Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy. Blue? White? Red?
ANY
2. Which of the following did not star in Jackie Brown? Michael Keaton? Harvey Keitel? Robert DeNiro?
HARVEY KEITEL
3. In which year was The Pink Panther released? 1964? 1968? 1972?
1964
4. What is the name of the game show in Magnolia? Kids don’t know anything? Kids know when to say no? What do kids know?
WHAT DO KIDS KNOW
5. What is the name of the fort that Captain Brittles commands in She Wore A Yellow Ribbon? Barton? Starke? Rogers?
STARKE
6. The Colour Purple lost out on the best picture Oscar to which film? Out Of Africa? Amadeus? Platoon?
OUT OF AFRICA
7. What are the students doing when they hear the news that WWII has broken out in Paul Verhoeven’s Soldier Of Orange? Having a picnic? Swimming? Playing tennis?
PLAYING TENNIS
8. Which film does John Coffey request to watch before he is executed, in The Green Mile? Swing Time? Top Hat? Roberta?
TOP HAT
9. What do the Blue Meanies use to immobilise the Pepperlanders during their initial attack, in Yellow Submarine? Apples? Bubbles? Feathers?
APPLES
10. 1948’s The Red Shoes is based on a fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson. True or False?
TRUE

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. During the opening scene of Battle Royale we see that the previous tournament’s winner is a young girl. What type of stuffed farm animal is she clutching when she meets the press?
PIG
2. How many characters appear on the standard poster for Flatliners?
FIVE
3. What two things scare Austin Powers in the film of the same name? (one point per correct answer)
NUCLEAR WAR / CARNIES
4. In the Assembly Cut for Alien 3, the xenomorph emerges from which animal?
OX
5. What nationality is Ian Holm’s character in 1989’s Henry V? [bonus point for naming the character]
WELSH [Fluellen]
6. Big Dan Teague, Homer Stokes, George ‘Baby Face’ Nelson and Pappy O’Daniel are all supporting characters in which film?
O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?
7. How many lines does Arnold Schwarzenegger deliver in The Terminator?
EIGHTEEN
8. The following quote is from which film: “For nearly 3000 years man has been searching for (this artefact). It’s not something to be taken lightly; no one knows its secrets. It’s like nothing you’ve ever gone after before”?
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
9. How many films has Wes Anderson co-written with Owen Wilson?
THREE
10. At the start of the film Event Horizon, how many years has the eponymous vessel been missing?
SEVEN

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What was the biggest box office earner in 1947? Unconquered? Miracle On 34th Street? Cass Timberlane?
UNCONQUERED
2. Who directed The Magdalene Sisters? Ken Loach? Peter Mullan? Jim Sheridan?
PETER MULLAN
3. What breed of moth features in The Silence Of The Lambs? Sunset Moth? Gypsy Moth? Hawkmoth?
DEATH’S-HEAD HAWKMOTH
4. The Pianist features several pieces by which composer? Chopin? Mahler? Schubert?
CHOPIN
5. 1927’s The Jazz Singer starred which actor? Buddy Rogers? Al Jolson? Nick Lucas?
AL JOLSON
6. Who plays the Soviet doctor in The Hunt For Red October? Sam Neill? Stellan Skarsgard? Tim Curry?
TIM CURRY
7. In the original Ocean’s 11, Danny plans on robbing how many casinos? 5? 6? 7?
FIVE
8. The Three Musketeers (’73), The Island Of Doctor Moreau (’77) and The Land Before Time VII all featured which actor? Oliver Reed? Michael York? Charlton Heston?
MICHAEL YORK
9. Three Sisters was the last film directed by which actor? Richard Attenborough? Alec Guinness? Laurence Olivier?
LAURENCE OLIVIER
10. In John Carpenter’s They Live, only one character has a first and last name. True or False?
TRUE