By Tim Posada, 7/12/2012
“The Amazing Spider-Man”
I know, I know. This is the fourth “Spider-Man” flick, and a reboot of a film property that seemed due for a sequel over a restart. But for those of us who read comics (I know I’m not alone out there), the idea of a reboot isn’t so outlandish –– especially considering how terrible “Spider-Man 3” was. Let’s take a quick vote: was the worst part of “Spidey 3” Peter Parker dancing in the street, or Peter all of a sudden playing piano in a bar and, again, dancing? As for “The Amazing Spider-Man”, ignore the haters, this one is pretty amazing. It doesn’t triumph over the spectacular “Spider-Man 2”, but it’s easily above the rest and shows great promise for more to come.
For those unfamiliar with comics, the latest Spidey follows a different storyline than the main Marvel Universe, the Ultimate universe. Here, the Avengers are originally called the Ultimates, Spider-Man remains a high-school student, and his parents’ death plays some greater, be it ominous, purpose. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) remains an outcast in high school, but he is far from complete social fodder, with his skinny jeans and skateboarding. Still, school bully/jock Flash (Chris Zylka) gets in a few good hits before that fateful radioactive spider gives Parker a few physical advantages.
Everything feels far more intentional in this telling of the story of the world’s favorite red and blue arachnid. Upon uncovering new information about his parents’ death, Peter visits his father’s (Campbell Scott) former colleague, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), whose research into amphibious limb reconstruction is rather personal considering his lack of an appendage.
Unfortunately, Parker’s input into Connor’s research leads to an even worse lab experience than the one that gave him his spidey sense. Connors quickly takes on many characteristics of the creatures he studies, becoming the Lizard, as we see him participate in several scenes that feel shamelessly like the Green Goblin’s evolution in the original 2002 film.
What about Mary Jane? Well, she’s nowhere to be found. Instead, we meet his first girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and her pesky father, Police Captain Stacy (Dennis Leary), who is hell bent on incarcerating the web-slinging vigilante…awkward. Let’s hope his love story evolves and doesn’t feel bound to repeat history.
As a reboot, we know a few things have to happen, but there are enough surprises and differences — like Gwen in place of Mary Jane, and mechanically-made rather than biologically created web slingers — that create an original superhero experience. All that said, sometimes a studio’s desire to milk that cash cow one more time can transform into something rather enjoyable. Thanks Sony Pictures.
The creator of “Family Guy”, Seth MacFarlane, tries his hand at film directing, and the final product proves to be one of the funnier features this year. But “Ted” is far from an original idea, since MacFarlane steals from himself. Here’s the formula: an irresponsible man with a woman desiring more for her mate, and a pet (or teddy bear in this case) who is quite good at diverting the man’s more adult ambitions.
Once upon a time (there are few more appropriate words since our narrator, the mighty Patrick Stewart, sets this one up much like a fairy tale), John (Mark Wahlberg) wished for a friend who’d never leave. Luckily, this wish upon a passing star gave him Ted (voiced by MacFarlane), a stuffed bear, whose fluffy charm eventually turns into an affinity for bongs, beer, prostitutes and reruns of “Flash Gordon”.
John and Ted remain BFFs through adulthood, much to the dismay of four-year girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), who just wants her man to commit to something and become more than a reefer lovin’ car salesman. And he better hurry or else Lori (hmm, that name sounds remarkably similar to Lois) just might give in to the many advances by her boss, the rich, pretentious, tool of a man, Rex (Joel McHale).
This is your classic coming of age story about a guy who spends too much time with his favorite toy. But really, who cares about the plotline when there is a raunchy bear to laugh at. “Ted” is very similar to any episode of “Family Guy”. You’ll be shocked, give a courtesy chuckle to the less than hysterical jokes, and, of course, laugh until you burst at those fantastic moments when everything is the perfect mix of crass, shocking and/or witty. There might be funnier films, but this one effectively applies the “Family Guy” formula for the big screen, proving MacFarlane can only go up from here.