MOVIE REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (Marc Webb, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (and some trailers before the movie):

1. When they played Hooked on a Feeling in the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, I suddenly remembered Ally McBeal’s Oogachaka Baby. It’s time for a re-watch.

2. Will Annie be the feel-good movie of the year? Hearing Tomorrow gave me goosies. It was great to see a more grown-up Quvenzhane Wallis.

3. How many more versions of origin stories are we going to see? Am I the only one getting confused with all of these flashbacks?

4. It was funny that Apple didn’t seem to exist in the Marvel universe. Every single gadget from laptops to phones were made by Sony. How many shots of Vaio did you see?

5. I loved all of those aerial swooping scenes. This would be the perfect ride in Enchanted Kingdom’s Rialto complete with the cool wind effects blowing on your face. I was just concerned that all of those swinging would cause a lot of road accidents. Wouldn’t you scream your head off if Spidey suddenly appeared on your windshield?

6. When I initially heard Spidey’s ringtone, my brain went “Spider-Pig”! The Simpsons Movie clearly messed with my head.

7. And yet another Stan Lee cameo. Wait, if he’s required to show up in each and every Marvel movie, is it still considered a cameo role?

8. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone will forever remain my favorite Hollywood couple. Such excellent actors and their chemistry onscreen is just undeniable. I would love to see them in a Marc Webb rom-com.

9. Was I the only one having a Starting Over Again flashback in that fountain scene?

10. Webb directed (500) Days of Summer, one of my favorite movies of all time. He really knows how to handle these relationship dramas (Peter-Gwen, Peter-May, Peter-Harry, Peter-Richard, etc.). And yet two and a half hours was still not enough to tell all of these stories. The movie just ended like a setup for future installments. Couldn’t they have split this into two movies instead and focused on specific storylines?

11. Fame always comes with a cost. Scary.

12. The special effects in that Times Square scene was really good. I could have done without that slow-mo stairs scene, though.

13. I’ve always thought that water conducted electricity so I was surprised when it was used to weaken Electro (who resembled that nude Watchman character). Can someone explain this further? (Yes, I was bad in all of my Science classes.)

14. What’s with all of those endless quips? Why were there too many scenes that strain for laughs? And what is up with that relentless musical score?

15. Dane DeHaan looked like a lanky Leonardo DiCaprio meets Chito Miranda.

16. Spidey’s voice didn’t sound all that different from Peter’s. How could Harry not have known? Was this a classic case of the Darna-Narda syndrome?

17. That falling scene. That ending. THAT ENDING! Argh!!

18. “The heavier the box gets, the lighter I feel.” Bravo Sally Field! You just broke my heart.

19. I don’t think I’ve ever cried this much (or even at all) in a Marvel movie. I’ll probably be depressed until tomorrow.

20. There’s no need to wait for the end of the end credits. There’s no additional scene after the X-Men preview. You’re welcome.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

(Originally published May 5, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, 2014)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance):

1. I had always associated Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu with the intersecting stories narrative where major characters in his films had their lives connected and intertwined (FYI, I really loved Amores Perros, Babel, and 21 Grams). It was one big gimmick that worked for me. I wasn’t surprised that his newest film relied on another gimmick (“one long continuous take”) to drive the story.

2. Off the bat, people would either love this or find it completely boring. There were so many insider jokes on cinema and theater and the arts that might just go over their heads. As one character stated, “Audiences love action, not this talking philosophical bullshit.”

3. Michael Keaton looked like Robert Duvall whenever he wasn’t wearing a wig. He was excellent here by the way. The mere fact that he agreed to make fun of his current status (washed up actor who used to be Batman!) was just brave. If Al Pacino could win for all the scenery-chewing in Scent of a Woman, why couldn’t Keaton? I wouldn’t be complaining if he got that Best Actor Oscar.

4. “You confuse love for admiration.” Raise your hand if you were guilty of this.

5. Edward Norton had a lot of nudity here (or scenes that showed him in his underwear or sported a boner). For a more lengthy peek on his gift, you could watch the brilliant American History X. I loved the Norton the Method Actor playing a Norton-ish Method Actor joke.

6. I was initially bothered by the drumming soundtrack. I was expecting Miles Teller to show up practicing in one corner. And then the movie revealed an actual drummer and later on a band in Times Square. I guess the joke was on me.

7. Naomi Watts’ character had this great repartee with Andrea Riseborough’s:

“Why don’t I have any self-respect?”

“You’re an actress, honey!”

8. Speaking of Watts, she was really good in this movie. I was surprised her performance was virtually overlooked against co-star Emma Stone. Everyone knew how much I loved Stone (I even named my car after her) but she was just fine here.

9. Speaking of, there was a blatant Lancome product placement that was here either as a real product placement or as a joke on product placements in movies (or both). With this kind of dark comedy, it was just hard to tell.

10. Similar to Annie, they showed a viral video that was taken from different angles. Probably the only sloppy thing in this film.

11. Did the film miss an Oscar nomination for Best Editing since it really looked like one continuous take? Shouldn’t it have gotten one for making it look like it was one brilliant, seamless take?

12. When Keaton’s character complained about getting overshadowed by Clooney, it was just a wink on the battle of the Batmans. I’d be happy to see a fourth Batman win an Oscar tbh.

13. I hope Wenn Deramas could watch this just for that wonderful takedown on film criticism. I bet he’d have a major meltdown.

14. “A thing is a thing, not what is said of the thing.” This was a sad, sad film. Watch at your own risk.

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published February 1, 2015.)