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The Amazing Spider-Man: Superhero Reboot
Going into The Amazing Spider-Man, you already know that it’s not going to be your typical superhero film. Just take the choice of director for example. Marc Webb - the perfect name for a director of Spider-Man - was hired on the strength of his debut feature; the very non-superhero (500) Days of Summer.
The Amazing Spider-Man is quite similar to its predecessors, so much so that it often feels like more of a remake than a reboot. This time around, though, Spidey is a high-school pupil and his love interest is his classmate Gwen Stacey, not Mary Jane.
Peter Parker (Garfield) is an outcast with an interest in science and a crush on Gwen Stacey (Stone), who is also scientifically inclined but completely out of his league. As a kid, Parker’s parents were forced to flee, leaving him to live with his aunt and uncle, never to see or hear of them again. He stumbles across some of his dad’s old papers leading him to discover that he had been a scientist studying cross-species genetics and that his old partner, a Dr Curt Connors (Ifans), had not given up on the experiments.
Parker goes to meet Dr Connors at his lab and, unbeknownst to anybody, gets bitten by a radioactive spider. From here on out, it’s your regular Spider-Man story. Uncle Ben gets killed, Parker blames himself, he grows closer to Gwen as the police turn against him, Dr Connors turns himself into a monster, Parker blames himself for unleashing Connors upon the unsuspecting people of New York, big fight, the end.
While the story is in no way groundbreaking, the film does take a slightly different approach to the characters than the previous trilogy. Parker isn’t the goofy, super-nerd that he used to be and Garfield’s take on him is a lot tougher and angst-ridden. He wouldn’t be much use in a fight (pre-spider bite), but he’s not a complete pushover either - although he does get adorably tongue twisted in Gwen’s presence. While he doesn’t reach Batman levels of broodiness, he still has the ability to get pretty nasty and angry, and indulging in these vices makes for some of the film’s best scenes. Gwen also has more substance to her than Mary Jane ever did or even her previous incarnation in Spider-Man 3. Garfield and Stone, both immensely likeable on their own, make for a highly adorable and funny duo.
In fact, the characters are hands down the best thing about the film. It’s well cast and they’re pretty well fleshed out for a superhero film. The action and CGI on the other hand aren’t all that different from Spider-Man 3; they look ok but there’s nothing particularly innovative about them and the way they’re shot is often confusing. Parker’s so much more interesting when he’s not wearing his suit, Gwen doesn’t have nearly enough screen time and Connors shows a lot of potential as a character until he morphs into the film’s very lame, ugly and confusing villain. The film spends far too much time showing Spider-Man swinging between buildings and tracking down petty criminals.
Even though The Amazing Spider-Man decent film, it ends up being somewhat disappointing. If you’re rebooting a very successful trilogy barely ten years after its success unleashed a tidal wave of superhero flicks on us, you’d better have something incredible up your sleeve. The Amazing Spider-Man is fun but by no means does it live up to its hype.
Is love stronger than the laws of gravity? Well, that's one peculiar question that the Argentinean director, Juan Diego Solanas, attempts to answer in newest trippy sci-fi adventure, Upside Down.
Upside Down begins with an informative voiceover explaining the story of two parallel planets – Down and Up – that are stationed exactly opposite each other, existing in the same solar system, with shared yet opposing gravity. All physical matter must obey the gravity of the world from which it comes; both planets exert an equal, but opposite, pull and messing with these laws of physics can potentially result in deadly consequences.
While Down is poor and rundown, Up is rich and affluent; going Up or interacting with the people from Up is deeply forbidden, and the only thing bridging the two is the sinister company, TransWorld.
As a child, Adam (Sturgees) – a hopeful young boy from Down – climbs to the top of Sage Mountain to get close to Up, only to meet the pretty young blonde, Eden (Dunst), from the planet Up. The couple’s affections soon blossom; however, they also attract unwanted attention from the authorities. A bloody confrontation occurs, leaving the soul-mates stranded on their own individual planets for the next ten years.
The story then moves forward and Adam – who is convinced that Eden is gone forever – is working in a run-down lab, trying to perfect a secret, pink bee pollen ingredient he’s inherited; one that allows matter to detect the gravitational fields of both planets at once.
Soon, he lands a job at the intimidating TransWorld and finds that Eden is working there as well. However, in order to get to her, Adam needs to fight against strict corporate rules and against the forces of gravity to find his way into her arms again.
The concept is definitely unorthodox, but not entirely ridiculous. It's a rather creative concept, yes, but perhaps a little too grand for its own good.
The backdrop is not the problem here – it's the story itself. To begin with, this is a tale of star-crossed lovers who will do anything – even challenge the laws of gravity – in order to be with each other. However, their story never really gets a chance to develop, and thanks to a couple of ridiculous subplots and the overpowering presence of their parallel worlds – shot beautifully using CGI effects – it never gets a chance to evoke any sympathy from, or connection to, the audience.
Both Sturgees and Dunst share a decent amount of on-screen chemistry, but the characters get a little lost in their parallel worlds. With no real story to work with, Sturgees looks flustered and Dunst lacks the charisma and allure to draw the audiences in.
Packing in an enormous amount of visual thrills, Upside Down is quirky, original and pleasing to the eye. However, its overly ambitious approach manages to forsake the heart of the story – or rather, lack thereof.
Star Trek Into Darkness marks the twelfth instalment in the Star Trek franchise – which dates all the way back to 1966 – and plays as the direct follow-up to the 2009's successful reboot, Star Trek.
The film launches into action with a thrilling opening sequence which finds Capt. James T. Kirk (Pine) in deep trouble. In an attempt to save Spock (Quinto) and the natives of Planet Nibiru from a catastrophic volcano eruption, Kirk puts the entire Starfleet in danger by revealing the U.S.S Enterprise's hideout and by interfering with Nibiru’s primitive civilisation – prime directives which should never be broken.
Even though his intentions were moral, Kirk knows that he's crossed the line. Facing demotion as an executive officer and with Spock reassigned to another ship, Kirk’s lofty ambitions look more and more unlikely. Soon, all is forgotten, however, when an act of terrorism shakes London. The man behind the attack – as the Starfleet soon learns – is John Harrison (Cumberbatch); an ex Starfleet agent gone rogue, who has now escaped to the Planet of Klingons.
With Kirk and Spock reassigned to the U.S.S Enterprise once again, the crew – which includes ship Helmsman Hikaru Sulu (Cho), Chief Medical Officer Leonard 'Bones' McCoy (Urban), Chief Engineer Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott (Pegg) and Communication Officer Nyota Uhura (Saldana) – are sent on a dangerous mission to capture and eliminate the terrorist.
However, their mission – as Captain Kirk and his team soon learn – is not at all what it seems and disturbing secrets soon bubble their way to the surface.
Director J.J. Abrams - along with the team of returning writers, Roberto Orci, Alex Krutzman and Damon Lindelof – continues to breathe life into the beloved science-fiction series and his newest addition makes the four year wait for a sequel worth it. It’s nothing short of an edge-of-the-seat extravaganza with plenty of excitement to keep everyone – including the non-Trekkies – amused. Aside from the expected action-packed scenes, the writers also manage to find time for more character-oriented threads, which allow the audience to connect just a little bit more to these iconic characters.
As far as the die-hard Trekkies are concerned, don't despair; there are plenty of nods to the past and trips down the memory line with references to former characters, locations and weird alien species.
Pine seems to be settling into the role of the infamous Captain Kirk pretty well; emotional and driven, Pine possesses the charisma to anchor such an epic. Meanwhile, the terribly talented Quinto is magnetic; his restrained and cold exterior provides plenty of laughs and, at the same time, plenty of stirring moments as we witness significant character growth. Pegg and Urban offer much of the comic-relief, while Saldana unfortunately fades into the background. Most significantly, however, Cumberbatch shows plenty of depth as what is slowly revealed to be a complex antagonist.
All in all, Star Trek Into Darkness offers guaranteesd entertainment. As an exhilarating and often moving addition to the franchise, JJ Abrams has proved that remakes, reboots and sequels can still be done well. Good job.