Plot Summary: After Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically altered spider, he gains newfound, spider-like powers and ventures out to solve the mystery of his parent’s mysterious death.
Director: Marc Webb
Writers: James Vanderbilt (screenplay & story), Alvin Sargent (screenplay), Steve Kloves (screenplay), Stan Lee (based on the Marvel comic book by), Steve Ditko (based on the Marvel comic book by)
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
Serious Jest: (Worth Watching) As we discussed in Episode 23, Part 1, of the podcast, we love the Spiderman character, and Garfield not only does him justice, but he also presents a unique and charismatic version of Peter Parker that is even more interesting than when he dons the mask. Emma Stone brings The Girlfriend Experience, making Gwen Stacy endearing in her own right, not just because of how much the hero cares for her. Martin Sheen and Sally Field not only make you care about Uncle Ben and Aunt May, but they show you aspects of Spiderman that Garfield can’t by himself. Denis Leary really manages to walk that fine line between pompous jerk and loyal protector right into the viewer’s heart. In short, the acting is phenomenal.
Unfortunately, the storyline is nothing special, and the movie is too often unnecessarily hokey (Really? Is it that easy to break into a high-security lab with genetically unstable spiders?), which conflicts with the film’s more gritty tone. This film feels more like a background setup for sequel, which I have yet to see, but which I’m hoping will take the franchise to the next level, like Captain America: The Winter Soldier did for its franchise.
Plot Summary: The madcap moose and his squirrel sidekick head into the real world to thwart a devious plot.
Director: Des McAnuff
Writers: Jay Ward (characters), Kenneth Lonergan
Stars: Robert De Niro, Rene Russo and Piper Perabo
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) Not even classic cartoon characters, an all-star cast, and a heap of self deprecation can cover for how unfunny this movie is. This is one that only young kids, or huge fans of Rocky and Bullwinkle, might enjoy (unlike films like Shrek, which are entertaining to both children and adults). De Niro and Jason Alexander were awesome as Fearless Leader and Boris, though.
Synopsis: Set in a medieval village that is haunted by a werewolf, a young girl falls for an orphaned woodcutter, much to her family’s displeasure.
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: David Johnson
Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas and Gary Oldman
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) Forget about the well-known folk story…at most, this movie merely offers scattered homages to it. That would be just fine, except that the film’s actual story is pretty boring and slooooooow. There is a scary werewolf (thankfully, the filmmakers didn’t try to overdo it; it doesn’t look ridiculous), and Oldman as a power-drunk, self-righteous, pompous hate-monger (which I would usually enjoy, but his awesomeness is limited by a weak script). However, this movie is basically about a teenage girl torn between two boys. The whodunit aspect takes a backseat…but by the end of the movie, you really don’t care who the wolf is anyway…unless you’re a teenage girl…then maybe you love this film.
Synopsis: Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world.
Director: Michael Apted
Writers: Christopher Markus (screenplay), Stephen McFeely (screenplay), Michael Petroni (screenplay), and C.S. Lewis (novel)
Stars: Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) The Narnia series is like The Wizard of Oz meets Harry Potter meets Lord of the Rings, but not as good as any of them. Still, I enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, just like I enjoyed the Narnia books as a kid, because of the new, creative world that they introduced, the entertaining story line, and the well-done special effects. This movie is not as good as the other two Narnia films. Other than the dragon, there is not much value added–green mist is not enough to take this series to the next level. While I realize that this movie is geared toward kids, this is one family film that you might put on for your child but only kind of pay attention to while you do other things.
Synopsis: The mortal son of the god Zeus embarks on a perilous journey to stop the underworld and its minions from spreading their evil to Earth as well as the heavens.
Director: Louis Leterrier
Writers: Travis Beacham (screenplay), Phil Hay (screenplay), Matt Manfredi (screenplay), and Beverley Cross (1981 screenplay)
Stars: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) I am a fan of Greek mythology, so seeing some of it brought to life with the power of modern-day special effects was pretty cool. I liked the depiction of Mount Olympus, with the gods presiding over an invisible floor under which mountaintops, clouds, and seas provided a better view than a corner office ever could. I also enjoyed the opening scene in which mythological history were illustrated in the stars.
I was originally a little iffy about the resemblance of the Kraken (which is part of Scandinavian folklore, not Greek mythology, by the way) to the rancor monster that Luke Skywalker fought in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983).