“The Amazing Spider-man” is a well made – if unnecessary – “reboot” of the comic book film franchise.
It’s been a whopping 10 years since Sam Raimi launched his trilogy and five years since it culminated with the disappointing “Spider-man 3.”
So, why reboot the series so soon? Well, take a look at this new film’s $140 million opening weekend for your answer.
This new picture, directed by Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”), is obligatory, but well crafted.
Its performances are solid and its leads – Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone – have some chemistry, while the action set pieces are well handled and the plentiful special effects register without being overbearing.
As for the script, the picture’s first half covers ground already tread during Raimi’s first “Spider-man” film, but replaces Mary Jane Watson with Gwen Stacey and substitutes the Lizard (Rhys Ifans) for the Green Goblin.
This new “Spider-man” feels more like a teen film than its predecessor as Peter Parker’s high school days are further explored, mostly to decent effect.
The story is also a little darker than the original trilogy. Aside from Parker being a more of a smart aleck in this new version, he is also angrier, which occasionally differentiates it from Raimi’s films.
So, those seeking originality should search elsewhere. But moviegoers who don’t mind a well made – if, perhaps, a little too familiar – storyline could certainly do much worse than this.
“Savages” may not exactly represent a return to form for Oliver Stone, but it’s certainly one of his livelier selections of recent years.
The picture tells the tale of two buddies – a sensitive Ivy League-educated marijuana grower (Aaron Johnson) and a vet from the Iraq War (Taylor Kitsch) – who share the same woman (Blake Lively) and operate a booming pot selling business.
The pals pride themselves on the fact that their marijuana is often sold to persons with medical problems and that they remove the violence from their line of work.
But they find themselves in over their heads after the leader of a Mexican cartel (Salma Hayek) decides she wants to buy them out.
When the two men opt out of the deal, she sends her psychotic henchman (Benicio Del Toro) and a sleazy attorney (Demian Bichir) to kidnap their love interest.
At times, “Savages” is all over the place, which makes it both interesting and messy.
Lively’s voice over narration, which opens and closes the film, adds little to the proceedings and some sequences – especially one in which Kitsch and Johnson carry out a violent robbery against the cartel – force the audience to seriously extend their disbelief.
On the other hand, the film mostly kept me intrigued and featured several solid performances, including Del Toro’s maniacal villain and John Travolta’s crooked federal agent.
Stone dominated American cinema in the 1980s and 1990s with a handful of critically acclaimed pictures, but his work during the past decade has seen some ups (the underrated “W.”), downs (“Alexander” and “World Trade Center”) and in-betweens (“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”).
“Savages” is far from being a great Oliver Stone movie, but it’s certainly his rowdiest work since 1994’s “Natural Born Killers.” I’m hoping the director will bring that same level of energy to his next picture, but also a story that is a little more focused.