THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 REVIEW

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The-Not-So-Amazing-And-Incredibly-Corny-Spiderman.

Stunning special effects and 3D trickery does not a good movie make.

Certainly made it watchable BUT with a gushy teen romance subplot dominating an overlong screen time, villains that hardly threatened or entertained and a plot that was nothing more than build up for another inevitable installment, you can’t help but question why they bothered rebooting it in the first place?

Now, I loved the Sam Raimi trilogy (well Spiderman 3 was watchable. Seen a lot worse. Let’s not forget Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin, guys).

Tobey Maguire was an excellent Peter Parker (although he has been subject to some hilarious memes for his infamous face pulling).

When I heard there was going to be a reboot, I was baffled. Why? No need. Just carry on from Raimi and replace the cast if they want to leave. However, Marc Webb’s first installment was actually quite good. For an origin story, it did something that quite a few comic book adaptations don’t and that’s go back to the source material.

Andrew Garfield was a very likeable lead and a cooler, more laid back version of Maguire’s Parker. For its two hour-odd length, I could have happily watched more. My only qualm was that the villain was a little naff and the story was rushed. BUT I wanted to see more. And here we are . . .

An exhilarating (if mental) opener delving into Peter’s parents “accident”, and Spidey dealing with a crime spree, delivered high hopes. Cheesy, watchable and entertaining. BUT that soon spiralled into mediocrity.

Garfield and Stone had great chemistry and were a likeable couple in the first part. Inevitably their chemistry turned out to be more and they’re a real life couple. However, this time, the teen angst and will-they-won’t-they?-back story felt repetitive, tedious and incredibly cheesy. The sort of syrupy stuff you’d expect to see in a Twilight movie.

The way the movie was promoted, I expected something bigger, darker, badder. Bigger? Certainly. Darker? Hardly. The pair do their best and the chemistry was still very much on. BUT it felt because of the teen gossip, Webb allowed a little too much time on them. I mean we had all that will-they-won’t-they? stuff in the Raimi trilogy with Dunst and Maguire. Been there done that.

This was supposed to be a reboot. Doing something different. I know Parker’s torn loyalty between the woman he loves and saving the city was always going to be at the forefront. BUT it felt slapped together. Even the uneasy tension between Parker and Stacey’s dad (Dennis Leary) went nowhere. He just kept popping up, grimacing menacingly.

The visual effects, the set pieces and 3D were fantastic with bits flying out (steady now) all over the place. The camera work as Spidey swung around the New York cityscape was fantastic. However when some of the bigger battles commenced, the CGI got a little much and cartoony in places.

Webb reduced Peter and Aunt May’s relationship to nothing. A shame considering he had Sally Field in the role. Anyone could have played her.

The lovely Felicity Jones (Chalet Girl/Cemetery Junction) was reduced to playing a stocky, generic secretary. The same can be said for Colm Feore (The Borgias/The Chronicles of Riddick). He made more of an impression BUT a nothingy role nonetheless.

The villains, on the other hand, in the words of George Takei, “OH MY!!”

Jamie Foxx did his best with the material. His nerdy counterpart Max Dillon was incredibly weird. If anything he reminded me of Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma from Batman Forever. His obsession with Spiderman, after a brief life saving encounter, bordered on creepyville.

However, once he transformed into Electro  (Fantastic visuals by the way), he got better. But memorable? The best villain in Spiderman history? Hardly. He came off more like a demented electrolysed Mr Freeze with a sore throat.

Don’t get me wrong. The fight sequences were decent BUT the dialogue and exchanges left little to be desired.

Marton Csokas’ evil scientist came off more like a pantomine villain. Paul Giamatti? What the hell? Legend that he is. His part was incredibly irritating and OTT. A change from his usual roles but really? The money must have been good.

Fair play to Webb for reworking the Osbourns. BUT Chris Cooper was reduced to a passing cameo as Norman. I know we had the talented Willem Dafoe BUT I would have been happy to see his portrayal. At least the origin of the Green Goblin was different.

Dane DeHaan (Chronicle/Kill Your Darlings) wasn’t a bad Harry. He looked shady enough with his slimy grin and slick back hair. BUT even ol’ squinty eyed Franco did a more menacing job. Plus the Green Goblin? Really? Again? I suppose he was one of Spidey’s biggest adversaries.

My main problem was that Spiderman was rebooted for its silly, OTT, ridiculous third installment. BUT this very film did the exact same thing. Bar a redeeming closing act.

I’m fed up of films building up for another one. The film I’m watching should make me want to watch the next one.

Garfield was still a likeable Spiderman that delivered some cheeky one liners. BUT the quick-witted banter was very hit and miss. It was all a little tame (Spiderman light) until the finale. An unexpected twist gave me hope. But it wasn’t enough.

I fear this franchise is heading for Schumacher territory. This ship needs moving into Nolan/Raimi waters or I fear it will sink. Get some better baddies and this reboot might just prove it’s worth.

At its best, watchable guff with some decent visual set pieces. At its worst, overlong, schmaltzy and all done before and much better. This Spidey fan is reaching for his bug spray.

2.5 out of 5!

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FREE BIRDS REVIEW

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A few strikes short of a turkey with this one, I’m afraid.

A 90 minute mish mash of animated buffoonery that couldn’t even keep the kids in the cinema interested.

Two turkeys enter a time machine in a government facility and go back to the first Thanksgiving in the 16th Century to get their race off the menu. (Yup, you read that right)

After a fantastic 3D opening credit sequence, I could feel my interest wavering like the hammy plot line. We deal with the usual spiel of the loner turkey Reggie (voiced by Owen Wilson) who is rejected, from the farmhouse flock, for being different.

His constant urge to break the mould leads to his exile and a hazy plot involving a pardon from the President of the United States. Bizarre. I don’t mind sitting for 90 minutes with an animated feature BUT it has to be either; a) watchable, b) funny, or c) utterly bonkers. Free Birds misses the mark on all three.

The introduction of the renegade turkey Jake (Woody Harrelson) was a much needed boost. Harrelson delivered the silly lines with aplomb. It also delivered a good duo set up.

Jake needs Reggie’s help to save their race after receiving a prophecy from the Great Turkey and a Sacred Time knob (No, seriously. Not making this up). Leading to a mediocre adventure. The government facility sequence delivered the laughs for me and one of the silliest one liners;

“We have a contaminant. It’s a turkey. How do we address the situation?”

Response – “Uh, with cranberry sauce” (Bad, but it got me. No? Don’t watch it then)

However, once Harrelson and Wilson escape the facility (in a brilliant piece of animation) with the time machine named S.T.E.V.E. (Space Time Exploration Vehicle Envoy), voiced by none other than the legendary George Takei, the jokes fall sparse and flat.

Wilson’s comedy schtick failed to make an impression on the protagonist. He just came across as neurotic, whiny and annoying. When the featherheads travel back in time, it didn’t get much better.

They go back to the 16th Century and discover a tribe of turkeys who run across trees and hide underground from the pilgrims (and surprisingly absent Native Americans) until the final minutes. The action sequences were very watchable and well executed.

BUT the promising duo set up between Harrelson and Wilson was soon torn apart by the usual love interest sub plot (Not even Amy Poehler could save the day with her feisty lazy eyed protagonist) and some stupid macho rivalry between Harrelson’s Jake and head honcho Ranger (Jimmy Hayward).

It stole a funny pairing and replaced it with an annoying one. At first, the rivalry did have its moments but it soon went on far too long. A stand off gag soon drolled out into a idiotic dance off. The more random skits that popped up in the piece surprised me more than the planned ones. A telenovela skit was unexpected but hilarious. Not even Dr Zulu with his patented phrase could save this dead bird.

And the turkey hunter. Apart from me wondering whether it was Ray Winstone voicing him for 20 minutes (Until I caved and checked the IMDB app. It wasn’t. It was Colm Meaney) was completely unmemorable and flat.

The 3D was not worth investing in at all. Another wasted opportunity. What annoyed me was that the film had a different, if ridiculous, premise that went nowhere. The story line was lazy. Filled with dreadful gags and animated buffoonery. The time travel aspect was barely touched on. And when it was, it was so lazily done and riddled with plot holes that I don’t know why they even bothered.

I know, it’s a kid’s film but come on? There are so many better family flicks out there. This was clearly just reaping the profits off the Thanksgiving season.

This really was a turkey, alright. It fell short on everything. I would invest in another movie for the little ‘uns.

2(Just)/5