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Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2 is the second installment of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy. It’s among the best superhero movies to date, both critically and commercially. Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco all reprise their roles and Alfred Molina joins the cast as Dr. Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus. The film is about Peter Parker struggling to juggle his responsibilities as Peter Parker and as Spider-Man. He’s got relationship problems, a friendship on the rocks, and a crazy villain to deal with.

The first Spider-Man movie was pretty good. It was a decent origin story about a fun character with serviceable action scenes, but the sequel takes Spidey to new heights. It does everything that you want a sequel to do: the story is more interesting, it references the original, there’s more action and more elaborate special effects. You don’t have to introduce the main characters; you can just jump right into the story and have fun.

My biggest gripe with the movie is that Doc Ock can take an awful lot of punches. His mechanical limbs don’t give him super strength. I’m pretty sure that Spider-Man’s punch would shatter his skull. He’s still the best villain in the series though, even with Alfred Molina’s saggy man tits. The subway sequence was almost too awesome and exhilarating. It made the climax look lame by comparison. And something about Kirsten Dunst repulses me slightly.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Amazing Spider-Man (film)

Hollywood has a thing for unnecessary reboots and remakes of popular franchises. So I was more than a little doubtful about seeing a new Spider-Man movie with a new cast and director. I thought it would just be another origin story about Peter Parker’s transformation into Spider-Man. Marc Webb made an already established franchise seem new and fresh, and Andrew Garfield plays a great Peter Parker.

Garfield’s Parker is not a loser, he’s shy, kind of quiet, but he rocks a skateboard and wears contacts. He gets picked on by a bully named Flash Thompson, but Flash is an asshole and no one else bullies Peter. He’s a regular kid (smarter than average), and that’s what makes his transformation more exciting.

Peter gets bitten by a magic spider and he gets spider-like powers. One inevitable day, his beloved Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) tries to stop a robber and gets shot and dies on the street. Peter uses his new abilities to try to track down his uncle’s killer. He goes around dark alleys and streets, searching for his uncle’s killer and attacking anyone who matches his description.

He eventually starts wearing a mask, and later a spiffy spandex spidey suit. He also wears some artificial web shooters and he becomes an icon around the city. He gets more confident and asks out his crush, the beautiful and smart Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Her dad is the chief of police and thinks that Spider-Man is a dangerous vigilante who needs to be stopped.

While Peter is busy playing hero and fighting crime and saving people, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) is busy trying to regrow his stump of an arm and turns himself into a giant lizard and goes on a rampage. Peter is able to figure out that Connors is the Lizard, and that Connors wants to improve humanity by turning them all into lizard monsters. Peter has to stop him because he has the power to stop him.

Then there’s an exciting climax where Spidey fights the Lizard and things break and people die. Then they resolve some unresolved plot issues and drop some hints about the sequel and you leave the theater feeling content.

The movie is called The Amazing Spider-Man. It should really be called the Amazing Peter Parker. There is a lot of emphasis on the man under the mask. He takes off his mask to save a kid, when he’s fighting the lizard in the school, and when he pleads to Chief Stacy to let him stop the lizard. The Spider-Man suit is just a costume, it doesn’t make Peter a hero. Peter is already a hero. Before Peter even gets bitten, he stops a bully from picking on a kid, and gets his ass beat as a result. He was a hero way before the spandex.

When you watch this movie, you can’t help but compare it to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Raimi’s version is campy, it’s childish, it’s like the ‘60s Batman TV show. Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man is more realistic; it’s more like Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, just not as dark. Spider-Man is a fun character, he says witty things and wears a colorful suit and wants to be in the spotlight, not in the shadows.

Marc Webb is a great director. He creates genuinely emotional moments between the characters, and he is also able to create amazing and inspiring action sequences. When Uncle Ben dies, he pretty much just lies on the ground and is gone. There are no sentimental last words of advice, no “With great power comes great responsibility” hoopla.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield have a great dynamic. They play off each other well. They have a lot of memorable moments, like when he asked her out with out asking her out, how he revealed he was Spider-Man to her, and how he gets her back in the end with a subtle whispered comment in class.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield Star in The Amazing Spider-Man

The movie does a lot to establish itself as the foundation for a new series. A large amount of the movie takes place at OsCorp. Dr. Connors is working for the mysterious Norman Osborn, who you never see but often hear about. Peter never catches his uncle’s killer. You find out that there’s more to the deaths of Peter’s parents than what was revealed.

Spider-Man 2 used to be one of my favorite comic book movies. The Amazing Spider-Man just usurped that spot I think. It’s the best Spider-Man movie, without a doubt. Go see it and agree with me.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Actors in Multiple Movie Franchises

Some movies make a lot of money. And people like money, so they decide to make a sequel to make even more money. And if that sequel makes money they might make a third movie. And three movies in the same series makes a trilogy, and (for the purposes of this article) a trilogy is a film franchise. So if an actor appears in three or more movies in the same franchise and three or more movies in another franchise, then they will appear on this list. Unless I forgot about them. Sorry forgotten celebrity.

Harrison Ford starred in the original Star Wars trilogy and the Indiana Jones trilogy (and that shitty fourth movie that I try to forget about). He’s also rumored to come back in the new Star Wars movies.

Tim Allen starred in the Toy Story trilogy and the Santa Clause movies.

Michael J. Fox went Back to the Future three times and voiced Stuart Little three times.

Matt Damon was Jason Bourne three times and was in Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen.

Eddie Murphy was Donkey in four Shrek movies and Axel Foley three times as a Beverly Hills Cop. Mike Myers was Shrek in the Shrek flicks and Austin Powers and Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies.

Shrek And Donkey - Shrek The Final Chapter Desktop Wallpaper

Orlando Bloom was Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and he’s reprising his role in The Hobbit movie. He was also in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies too.

Sir Ian McKellen has saved the world as Gandalf in three Lord of the Rings movies and will do so again in The Hobbit trilogy. He’s also threatened the world three times as Magneto in the X-Men franchise.

Patrick Stewart played Captain Jean-Luc Picard four times on the big screen and played Charles Xavier in three X-Men movies with a cameo in the Wolverine movie.

Crazy anti-Semite Mel Gibson has been in four Lethal Weapon Movies and was Mad Max three times. You know he hates Jews right?

Warwick Davis was in six Leprechaun movies (about half were direct-to-video) and was also in all eight Harry Potter Movies playing duel roles as Professor Flitwick and Griphook.

Sylvester Stallone was Rambo four times and Rocky Balboa six times. I have a feeling he might be Expendable three times too.

Vin Diesel sucks a lot of balls, but he’s been in four Fast and/or Furious movies (one of them was just a cameo), and he will play Riddick again in 2013. I’m sure that there are at least four people who will pay to see that shit.

Ben Stiller has played Gaylord Focker in three movies and loaned his voice to three Madagascar movies.

Gary Oldman played Sirius Black in Harry Potter 3, 4, 5 and 7.5 and has been James Gordon three times in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

Bruce Campbell has played Ash in the Evil Dead movies and had cameos in all of Sam Raimi’s Spider-man movies. That might be a stretch, but it still counts.

Antonio Banderas has been Puss in Boots in three Shrek movies and one spinoff and was in four Spy Kids movies (his scene was cut in the fourth one. Yes, there are four Spy Kids movies). He was played El Mariachi in two out of the three El Mariachi movies, so he doesn’t get any points for that.

John Cho has hung out with Kumar three times as Harold, and he was in American Pie, American Pie 2, American Wedding, and American Reunion. Cameos count. Right, Bruce Campbell?

Samuel L. Jackson was Mace Windu in Star Wars Episode I-III. He also played Nick Fury in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers, which are all part of the same universe, so he gets included.

Jackie Chan has three franchises under his belt. Three Rush Hour movies, four Police Story movies, and he’s loaned his voice to two Kung Fu Panda movies with a third coming out in 2013.

Christopher Lee played Fu Manchu three times, he was Dracula in a bunch of movies. He was Count Dooku in Episodes II and III and the animated Clone Wars movie. He was in Lord of the Rings too.

Hugo Weaving has also been in three franchises. He threatened Neo three times as Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy. He loaned his voice to Megatron in the Transfomers movies. And he was Elrond in the Lord of the Rings movie and will reprise his role again in one of the upcoming Hobbit movies.

So that’s my list. I think it’s pretty complete. If you see anyone that I’m missing leave a comment. And I’ll either correct you or add it to my list. I don’t know how to rate this so I will just settle for something like this:

Critically Rated at 12/17

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For Love of the Game

Kevin Costner did a lot of baseball movies. Over fifty-seven by some estimates. In this one he plays an aging pitcher throwing the last game of his career. Sam Rami directs it, and it is really down to earth, especially considering some of the crazy stuff he’s done in the past. The film flashes back and forth between fictional Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel facing the New York Yankees and key moments in Chapel’s relationship with his on again/off again girlfriend, Jane.

John C. Reilly plays Gus, Billy’s reliable catcher and friend. J.K. Simmons plays the Tigers manager. Brian Cox plays the owner. Jena Malone plays Heather, Jane’s daughter. And the always sexy Kelly Preston plays Jane Aubrey, the sexy love interest.

The baseball playing is really just a trick to lure guys into watching this film. It’s really a chick flick. It’s bearable because of the baseball to an extent, but this is a love story. There is way more about love and relationships than there is cool stuff about baseball. And there’s no nude scenes, so the love story part isn’t that cool.

Vin Scully plays himself. For some reason he is announcing a game between the Yankees and the Tigers. It doesn’t matter that he’s the announcer for the LA Dodgers. Whatever. It’s dumb to get permission to use real teams from the MLB and then have the wrong announcer from the wrong side of the country calling a game for the wrong league.

I’ve seen a lot of Kevin Costner baseball movies. This one probably isn’t even in his top twenty. If you see it while channel surfing, it’s ok to watch it. Just don’t go out of your way to see this movie. You aren’t missing much.

There are worse chick flicks than this. But just remember that it is a chick flick pretending to be a baseball movie. That’s manipulative Hollywood marketing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Oh by the way, he pitches a perfect game and gets the girl. Life is great sometimes.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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The Quick and the Dead

Sam Raimi (Spider-Man, Evil Dead) directs Sharon Stone as The Lady, a deadly female gunslinger The Quick and the Dead. Sharon Stone enters a quick draw dueling competition in a small town run by Gene Hackman. Raimi directs an all-star cast and using every single cowboy movie cliché imaginable to create an original and entertaining period piece.

The Quick and the Dead pays homage to the early cinematic westerns that AMC used to show before they became a real TV network. They have the saloon and an evil sheriff and a hired gun and a reformed criminal and a trick shot expert and a clock tower and honor and redemption and revenge. But they also have a pretty diverse competition. There is an Indian, a black guy, a woman, a Swedish guy… pretty much anyone can enter if they want. And that’s nice and democratic.

There are a lot of stars in this movie. Some of them were still up-and-comers at the time, but some were established. Sharon Stone is the main character and Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Gary Sinise all play supporting roles. There are also a lot of character actors that you will recognize from a bunch of different movies.

It’s not the best western, but it doesn’t try to be. It is more of an homage to cowboy flicks than an attempt to be serious. It is very stylized, and there are a lot of elaborate sequences that are very distinctive of Raimi. You can recognize his style a mile away. It’s a B movie with a budget. It has heart. Being made with love makes it better than it is.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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