The Amazing Spider-Man

August 17, 2012

There have been too many cynical studio cash-ins to count.  If they see a proven franchise sitting in front of them, executives will do whatever they can to milk it for all its worth.  The Amazing Spider-Man is one such property, although instead of milking it for every last cent, the motivation here was simple: keep the rights.  Due to a deal with Disney and Marvel, Sony had to produce a film featuring the Spider-man character before a certain amount of time for them to retain the rights, and here it is.  As a result, there’s a somewhat antiseptic quality to the film.  However, it feels less like a blatant cash-in a la Alien vs Predator than it does a protective measure.  The studio handprints are all over it, but they’re more concerned with protecting the property (and not messing up a new version of a popular franchise) then they do with duping the public into a hastily thrown-together profit squeeze. Read the rest of this entry »

The Dark Knight Rises

August 15, 2012

As one of the biggest films of the year, and certainly one of the most talked about, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to bother writing about The Dark Knight Rises a full month after its release.  I was sick to death of critics and bloggers and message board nerds even before I saw it.  Still, it’s out, and I have thoughts, so here we are.  It is a testament to the film that even though I wasn’t a big fan of it (I enjoyed it well enough, but it is rife with problems and is certainly the least of a trilogy that has seen some degree of diminishing returns with each successive installment – yes, Batman Begins is quite easily the best of the three), it is too interesting to ignore.  Read the rest of this entry »

For what could have been a Tom Cruise vanity project, the Mission: Impossible series has been remarkably solid.  The idea to have a different director for each entry has been reasonably fruitful, though the extremely distinct styles of its first two entries – reflecting the status of their directors, perhaps – has given way to a less conspicuous visual mode.  Brian DePalma’s first entry was kind of brilliant in its use of wide angles and clear lines, playing up the director’s fascination with paranoia and subterfuge.  John Woo’s insipid M:I-2 was about as horrendous a film as I can remember, but it wasn’t lacking in those trademark slow-motion gun balletics or, indeed, doves.  The third in the series, directed by then-first-timer J.J. Abrams, came some years after the previous and in a way was a rejuvenation in terms of style, even as it reigned in the auteurist flourishes.  It was slick, to be sure, but it’s fun came from the zippy writing and plot movement instead of any sort of extravagant visual distinctness.  Now we have Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which sees Abrams return as a producer and Brad Bird, of The Incredibles and The Iron Giant fame, make his live-action directorial debut. Read the rest of this entry »