Saturday, May 31, 2014

Samurai Flamenco (2013) ep. 1-22

Check out my sweet buckle!
Hey gang! I wrapped up my latest adventure in anime. This time I have chosen to spend some time with a new series called "Samurai Flamenco." If you have not seen this series then what the heck you doing reading this?! Get on Crunchyroll and get the series started. I will attempt to explain to everyone all the reasons why "Samurai Flamenco" should be on your watch list, so power up and let's roll.

Synopsis - Voiced by Toshiki Masuda, Masayoshi Hazama is young man hell bent on bringing justice to the world. With a flare for the dramatic and his super hero costume, Masayoshi will stop at nothing to clean up the city. Just one little problem, he has no super powers or weapons. Working as a male model by day, Masayoshi decides to follow his heart as well as his childhood dream to become a superhero. Taking the name of "Samurai Flamenco" our hero soon finds himself in real life trouble. Helped along in his quest for justice by police officer Hidenori Goto, an odd twist of fate allows him to discover "Samurai Flamenco's" true identity. This new found friendship leads to lots of trouble for both young men as they set out to fight crime of all varying degrees.

Hmm what to wear?
Review - Beginning with episode 1, I realized that "Samurai Flamenco" was a series after my own heart. Here we have an action figure collecting, good looking male model that decides to become a crime fighter. While the series starts out like an animated version of the comic/movie "Kick-Ass" it is much more. To me it is more like if Kick-Ass became a Power Ranger. Sound fun? Yeah I thought you might get excited. After the first six episodes the series really changes gears and gets pretty bizarre. We go from this young male trying to bring about a positive change in his city to our hero joining a team of "Power Ranger" like characters to solo again.  All the while his friendship with Goto has led to more and more trouble for them both.While humorous at times due to the main character's naivete, there is some serious dramatic situations throughout.
For 22 episodes, we the viewers, are taken for a serious ride to every kind of place you could imagine. The creators and writers of this show must have had a blast. I can not recall another series quite like "Samurai Flamenco". We see our hero go from regular dude to crime fighter. Battling an assortment of enemies ranging from common street thugs to intergalactic space beings and back to regular old psychopaths. All done with a sense of enthusiasm and amusement that seems almost realistic in its feel.

The look of the series is vast to say the least and delivers where it needs to. The illustrations should not go unnoticed. Colors explode throughout the scenes with so many different kinds of creatures it needs to be mentioned. With the amount of different settings and back drops we should really appreciate the effort given. Action scenes are abundant and do not disappoint with well timed explosions to bring the flare. There is a host of villains and heroes that add plenty of side stories to keep you invested. Don't go into this thinking it's all about action because there is a lot more drama to keep the story going strong too.

While I admit my love for this series is deep, I do have one complaint. Going back to episode 6 and the drastic change of pace. The series leads us to believe it is gonna be a different type of series and then BAM! Totally different direction. I almost lost interest at this point, but I am glad I stayed on. It is a very thin line between greatness or being completely terrible. I lean toward the greatness factor. The series does have its flaws, I must admit. Such as its writing of the characters and their development. Also the story itself can be confusing with major tone changes that can distract the viewer from what it is really trying to say. All in all, I found it to be an enjoyable series.

I shall fly on eagles wings!

To finish up on this review, I want to add that as of now this series is only available on crunchyroll or hulu streaming. I have not seen an american license for it so who knows if we will get a dub version. If you are like me and prefer a buffet to choose from then I can say that "Samurai Flamenco" has plenty to offer you.
It's somewhat crazy at times but a blast to watch  as "Samurai Flamenco" is full of surprises. So head over to your streaming home of choice and get the party started. Until next time kids keep watching anime! I give "Samurai Flamenco" a favorable:

Written By John Price

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Director: Bryan Singer
Notable Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, and a shit ton of cameos!

When it was announced that Bryan Singer would be returning to the X-Men franchise for the epic Days of Future Past, I was actually a bit skeptical. Sure, he delivered the best of the franchise in X2 and kicked off the monopoly on blockbuster theatrical releases with his formula and style for the first X-Men, but his output since leaving the franchise has been…less than stellar. Not to mention he was tackling one of the most well-known and epic storylines from Marvel history. So hate me for being skeptical, but I kind of thought that this film was going to be a clusterfuck. Luckily, Bryan Singer and company (I have to throw out some mention to the strong writing here) crafted a film that’s simple enough to keep the pace moving briskly and character driven enough to make sure we actually give two shits about the outcome of the plot. In fact, Days of Future Past is one of the best blends of action, dramatic beats, and science fiction mumbo jumbo that the franchise has ever seen.

Further in the future, the mutant and human struggle has taken a dark and violent turn. Sentinels are created to hunt down mutant genes and eradicate them and the few batches of survivors in the apocalyptic landscape are simply fighting for survival. That’s when the remaining X-Men come up with a plan to avoid this dark fate: send Wolverine’s (Jackman) back in time to convince a young Charles Xavier (McAvoy) and Magneto (Fassbender) to stop Mystique (Lawrence) from assassinating a scientist that leads to this bleak existence.

"What's everyone looking at?"
Despite a rather lengthy set up about the bleak future and the rise of the Sentinels that occasionally lacks a cohesive continuity to the rest of the franchise (how is Professor X still around? When did Wolvie get his adamantium claws back?), Days of Future Past kicks the film more towards a character driven bulk where the basic plot then becomes ‘stop an assassination.’ For a film dedicated to time travel and giant killer robots that hunt out mutants with powers, the film takes an almost thriller like turn for a majority of the flick focusing more on the youthful X-Men introduced in First Class. Outside of Wolvie, most of the cast and characters from the previous X-Men trilogy are glorified cameos as the film really reflects on the events of First Class and where the characters have spiraled since then. This allows some of the great casting from the prequel (Fassbender, McAvoy, Lawrence) to shine even further here. Hell, McAvoy gets some very meaty sequences to stretch his acting chops and far more than many of the other top billed cast.

While this character driven concept (which thankfully doesn’t necessary focus on Wolverine’s character so much since we’ve already had two spin off films for him) does make for some great character work and relatable moments for the audience, Days of Future Past does succeed in being a brisk paced action flick too. While the highlight might be the thoughtful character interactions and an intriguing plot that combines history and science fiction, Singer and company slather the film in some impressive action spectacle. Whether it’s the assassination attempt by Mystique, the spectacle of seeing Magneto lift a stadium, or the scene stealing time lapse sequence featuring the charismatic Quicksilver, it’s hard not to be entertained by the sheer velocity of what Days of Future Past has to offer.

Now that's a man hug.
Occasionally the film baffled me with some of the details to get the entire thing going, but once it was there I had a blast through and through. It’s not necessarily the most logical of films, but if you’re willing to buy into this pseudo-reboot then enjoy it for the spectacle.

Written By Matt Reifschneider


While the core film is not altered by this 17 minute longer version of the film, The Rogue Cut does come off as a slightly superior film thanks to more than just a little side action from Magneto and Iceman to free Rogue. There is a handful of new sequences and extended moments (although I caught perhaps a dozen moments, I'm sure I couldn't name them all) that simply deepen the characters in the film and add a bit more fun to the mix. Sure, the titular Rogue sequence overcomes one of the bigger plot deviations in the original cut and it adds some clarity to other issues - including how the Sentinels found our heroes in China, but it's the other bits and pieces that make this cut better. For casual fans it's not going to make a lot of difference, but for those of us out there that have been X-Men cinephiles for quite some time it has plenty to appreciate.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Beneath (2014)

Director: Larry Fessenden
Notable Cast: Daniel Zovatto, Bonnie Dennison, Chris Conroy, Jonny Orsini, Griffin Newman, Mackenzie Rosman, Mark Margolis

While the low budget horror genre contains a lot of ridiculous ideas and even sillier films, I’ve always been partial to ‘killer fish’ flick. I’m not entirely sure why to be honest, but the charm of this usually awkward sub genre can have its merits. I went into Beneath with hope that it would be one of those gems you find in the cheap bin that’s worth the price just for enjoyment. Unfortunately, Beneath is about as generic as its title would indicate and despite some solid enough ideas, fails to make any sense in its plot.

Johnny (Zovatto) and his friends are just finishing up high school and their futures hang in the balance. As a way to sort some issues out between them, he takes them – including the girl (Dennison) he has been pining over forever – out to a lake on his family’s land. Rumor has it that a monster lurks beneath the surface of the serene water…but the biggest danger may lie inside the boat.

Reach for it!

Beneath certainly had potential as a low budget flick and director Fessenden had the right idea with how to go about it. Instead of focusing on jump scares, Beneath desperately tries to really cake the film in suspense and atmosphere instead. Partnered with some stellar physical effects (not going to lie to you, but the killer fish, as simple as it was in concept, looked pretty awesome for low budget), this idea about paranoia and how fear can turn the best of friends against one another could have worked. Could have. Unfortunately, for every moment of potential there were some issues that plagued the film to the point that I lost interest about half way through.

Right away, we know that Beneath is going to be the film that sticks to the formula. Even the characters fit the cliché horror caricatures to a ‘t.’ The arrogant jock, the smart kid, the film student (so they could get in some first person POV for shits and giggles), the possible lesbian, the popular girl, and the outcast. These clichés work for a reason in many other films, but for this one none of them really felt real and the acting ranged from surprisingly solid to wince worthy.  

From there the plot just added to the winces. Honestly, I haven’t seen a film where the kids made as many poor decisions as this in a very, very long time. I know teens can be stupid (I was a stupid teen once, I think), but there is no way that they can be this stupid. The entire idea of voting someone out to be food for the fish so the others could slowly paddle the boat might have worked once, but after that it becomes seriously redundant no matter what gimmicks they try to throw in. It also didn’t help that much of the conversation and bickering was haphazardly throw in with the characters. In one moment, the jock is heroic and the next he’s acting like stubborn 3-year-old. The quick shifts just didn’t work for the film.

Bitch, it's mini-Jaws!

There was definitely potential for Beneath as an atmospheric, character driven low budget horror flick. The problem is that the tone shifts disrupt the atmosphere and the characters are cliché and poorly built into a script that does nothing for the audience to relate to them or their ordeals. As is, I have to give Beneath a big recommended ‘skip’ for its issues. I mean, unless you want to see people arguing over a kiss behind the gymnasium and a googly eyed fish with  a bottomless pit for a stomach. This one is a huge missed opportunity.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

Veronica Mars (2014)

Guess who's back, back again!
Director: Rob Thomas
Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni

Synopsis- Years have passed since Veronica Mars said goodbye to her life as a teenage private-eye. Now once again she is sucked back into her old life and forced to face her old flame. Her arrival just happens to land at the same time as her class reunion and her on again off again lover Logan Echolls is in the middle of a murder mystery. Welcome back to Neptune High, Veronica!
Spy games 2?
Review - Brought to us with help of  Kickstarter, "Veronica Mars" is one of the first films to garner such a huge crowdfunded investment. Thusly bringing light to and opening doors for more to follow. Reprising her role as Veronica is Kristen Bell who has seen some big screen success since the end of the TV series. It truly felt like she didn't miss a beat. Now I must admit I only watched bits and pieces of the 3 seasons of the show. I felt compelled to watch this film based solely on the "cult" following that the TV show has obtained. Going into this, I was really unsure how the film would work out. Especially  for someone with so little exposure to the source material. Lucky for me it turned out to be an easy lead-in. Viewers were given simple enough back story to get the gist of what had happened in the past. You can quickly pick up on the different relationships that are offered up throughout the film. As for the story itself, I feel it was a solid piece to add to the whole pie. Clever and funny at times, shrouded in mystery mixed with a drop of suspense. I can see why this series is so beloved. The group of characters are lovable and seem to mesh very well together on screen. After wrapping up my viewing I did feel compelled to start watching the series which I have since finished a large portion of. The biggest draw back for me with the film is, of course, the not so tidy wrap up. As a new fan of the show I am now hopelessly wanting for more. The  film has a lot to offer casual viewers and die hard fans alike. Given how dedicated the following is with "Veronica Mars" I think the director and writing team were able to put together a very nice piece of work. Certainly helped out by getting the original cast together. Chemistry between the actors is clear on this film.

Gang is all here!
After a lot of time reflecting on this review, I think this film is a fitting end to "Veronica Mars". Personally I don't know of a better ending that could have been done. Final thoughts are that it is simply a well rounded film. One that I believe most fans of the show will enjoy for years to come. I will finish with giving "Veronica Mars" a solid:
Written By John Price

Monday, May 19, 2014

McCanick (2014)

Director: Josh C. Waller

Notable Cast: David Morse, Cory Monteith, Mike Vogel, Ciaran Hinds, Tracie Thoms

Cop dramas can be a dime a dozen, but with some solid execution even the most mundane and cliché riddled script can be a decent flick. Take McCanick as a prime example. It’s a script we have seen a billion times before, but luckily director Josh C. Waller and an exceptional cast allow McCanick some breathing room to really bloom into a film worth the time to watch. It’s not going to be for everyone with its darker subject matter and characters that never blend into black and white, but for those looking for a solid cop drama then it works.

Eugene McCanick (Morse) has been on the force for a long time and seen his fair share of questionable incidents. With a new rookie cop as a partner and a looming attempt to rekindle a relationship with his son, McCanick seems to have things moving in the right direction. That is until a young criminal (Monteith) gets released from prison early and threatens to uncover a dark secret from McCanick’s past that could put everything in jeopardy.

All kinds of atmospheric.
One of the biggest love it or hate elements is how relatively plot un-driven McCanick comes off as with its heavy handed character focus. With a plot that plays it like a very safe and subtle version of Bad Lieutenant at times with a cop and his seemingly questionable morals that’s spiraling out of control, the film tends to bypass any truly great plot progressions for character beats. Even the twist at the end, when we fully realize the dark secret that McCanick has buried, it feels more like a character motivation than a true epiphany for the audience. Too often, particularly in the second act, my interest started to wane for the film as it seemingly slow burned its way towards any kind of end game.

To McCanick’s benefit, the film has two very powerful artistic forces to help propel the rather bland script towards something greater than its foundation. Director Josh C. Waller has a knack for the atmospheric and the heavy subtle moments for a character (as I also described as a plus in his women in prison film Raze earlier this year) and his ability to inject some visual energy into the film really helps it move along. He carries a rather old school style to his direction that gives the film the occasional 70s thriller vibe that does work and something as silly as a chase through the alleys in the third act takes on a rather intense atmosphere to it.

Partnered with Waller’s touch is a phenomenal lead performance from David Morse as the titular protagonist McCanick. While there are some solid enough secondary performances that add to the mix including a rather intriguing role for Monteith of Glee fame prior to his death, nothing seemingly touches Morse’s gray and deep rooted moments of thoughtful (and thoughtless) character leaps. If there was truly an MVP for McCanick it would this role and performance that is a right hook I certainly didn’t see coming.

Tuesdays are tough.
McCanick in the end is still a rather basic and formulaic drama-thriller that rarely sees the foundational script rise above anything we haven’t seen before. Had it been released 40 years ago it might have dropped some jaws with its subject matter and approach, but in 2014 it comes off as a bit too cliché. If you are going to delve into McCanick do it for the young talent of Waller and the stunning lead performance from Morse. That’s where the highlights lay.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Godzilla (2014)

Director: Gareth Edwards
Notable Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston

Godzilla is one of film’s most iconic characters. Spawning from a social commentary on Japan’s fear of the nuclear age, Godzilla has morphed and reflected social commentary through the times. He’s been an epic villain made of man’s arrogance, the wrath of mother nature, Earth’s grand protector, the lesser of two evils, a living nuclear reactor, a dinosaur on steroids, and in Hollywood’s first attempt at the franchise a giant pregnant iguana. Yet it’s Hollywood’s second attempt at kick starting a franchise that seems to have blended a slew of the previous descriptions into a rather impressive cocktail. Godzilla is both a unique reboot for the king of the monsters and one that injects enough of those ‘fan moments’ to make sure that new and old fans will be pleased. I know I sure as hell was impressed as I walked out of my showing.

Joe Brody (Cranston) cannot let go of the past. An accident at the nuclear power planet in Japan fifteen years prior has left him a widower and hollow inside emotionally, leaving his son Ford(Taylor-Johnson) on edge with him through the years. When Joe stumbles upon a massive clue to something that the government is hiding in the ruins of the power plant though, the two will become caught in a war between ancient beasts with a score to settle.

Intriguingly enough, it’s obvious that Gareth Edwards and company understand the formula of a Godzilla flick. Perhaps it’s because I did the massive Big G marathon of all 29 films prior to seeing this, but it was all there for the fans. The human portion of the story where humanity finds itself outgunned by nature’s monsters, the kaiju battles, and plenty of G Science (my brother and I came up with the term G Science for the mumbo jumbo that these films use to explain their ridiculousness plot devices) all make appearances in Godzilla. While Edwards does a few things to really modernize the film as a whole using much bigger scale including having a lot of the final act shot from wide shots from the street or far up in the sky, he understands what the fans want to see and generally delivers it even if it comes off as cheesy.

So let’s start with the human portion of the film. The Brodys (a nice nod to Jaws, by the way, which does play a fairly big role in how the film is structured too) are not your usual Godzilla flick fair. In fact, this portion owes a lot to early Ishiro Honda films or the spectacular Gamera films from the 90s in how the film layers in a more personal feel to the epic kaiju issues that occur in the background. While our two leads in Taylor-Johnson and Olsen tend to be given more reaction geared roles with simple motivations (get home and worry, respectively) the underlying familial issues play through in various elements of the film. The villainous insect like MUTOs are attempting to find one another and nest, Cranston’s father allows his family to fall apart in search for the truth, and the Taylor-Johnson/Olsen combo tries to show case the future hope. While it is not as effective as it might have been since the film does tend to cater to epic kaiju film structures, I was really digging into the thought and work that went into this aspect of Godzilla and it adds a nice human element to the flick.

Let’s be honest though, a majority of the people that are going to see this film are going to see the titular beast. Like many of the Godzilla films in the past, Big G is not necessarily the driving force for the film and thusly really doesn’t show up until half way through. The focus is on humanity’s reaction to a different threat, the villainous MUTOs. I am a huge fan that this reboot establishes a new villain for Big G to go fist-to-cuffs with instead of relying solely on established brands and the MUTOs live up to effort. I don’t want to give too much away about that portion of the plot, but it works in spades. Big G plays out more like the Earth’s protector element of the franchise here (although like Watanabe’s disheveled scientist seems to believe – he’s just doing as nature intended since the MUTOs are natural enemies) and by the time Godzilla does show up you’re already invested in his success and by the time the stunning finale shows up in it’s full destruction riddled glory you’re cheering likes it’s a damn sports event.

…and the finale is awesome. Many of the kaiju fights earlier in the film are glossed over in an attempt to create more suspense for this final throwdown, but it doesn’t affect what Godzilla has in store for the last act. Again I don’t want to give away too much of how the plot plays out, but just know that the finale plays out more like a massive epic action sequence then it does destruction porn complete with some classic Godzilla moments that will have fans excited.

Gareth Edwards just gets it. He makes Godzilla a multi-faceted film layered with human morals, a touch of atmospheric suspense, and enough of those Godzilla moments that fans will eat it up. The structure and Godzilla’s cat and mouse chase with the MUTOs really builds to a finale that might be one of the greatest Godzilla third acts in the franchise if not one of the best action set pieces for Hollywood in the last decade. As a fan of Godzilla and a film critic, I was inherently pleased with this film on all levels. It’s just enough seriousness and thoughtful writing to make the cheesy kaiju and G Science elements worth the suspension of disbelief. Yeah it’s not perfect, but I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off this new era for the King of the Monsters. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Seven Warriors (1989)

Director: Terry Tong
Notable Cast: Tony Leung, Sammo Hung, Lo Lieh, Jing Chen, Adam Cheng, Jacky Cheung, Yamson Domingo, Hark-On Fung, Philip Kwok, Ben Lam

The influence of Akira Kusowa’s Seven Samurai cannot be understand when it comes to film. Hell, I even watched an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars the other day that mimicked the plot of this pivotal film. So it’s not like we haven’t seen a billion versions of this film in one form or another at this point. Yet, when the elusive Hong Kong 80s version of this classic finally received a release via Well Go USA I was stoked. Who wouldn’t want to see that? Seven Warriors aptly twists the tale of seven protectors of a small village into a stunt fest with plenty of charm and fun to be had…just like I was hoping it would.

In the poverty stricken areas of China in the 1920s, many proud soldiers have become bandits preying on the farmers and hard working small villages around them. When one village decides that it’s time to fight back, they hire on a group of seven mercenaries to help them defend themselves against the bandits once and for all.

"Hold on, my depth perception is screwed!"
There are many reasons to see Seven Warriors even if you are sick and tired of this same story being retold again and again. The biggest reason is that it’s co-directed by Sammo Hung. While the other co-director Terry Tong might not have gone on to direct many other things, the involvement of Sammo Hung should have any action fan interested. His influence on all of the action can instantly be felt too. The opening sequence (which features a quick cameo from Hung himself) is a fun martial arts romp and while the film doesn’t necessarily cater too much to action sequences, it is a drama too, by the time the siege occurs in the third act you’re sure to be in for some great emotional driven action set pieces. It’s not quite up to par with some of his other work, but it’s effective and fun.

It also helps that they assembled a very strong cast for film. A young Tony Leung steals most of the film as one of the leads, but he’s surrounded by plenty of great chemistry and performances to add to strength of the film. The brotherhood that’s build from all of these unique characters and solid performances really blends the dramatic elements into a film chock full of humor and action leaving Seven Warriors as a great 80s Hong Kong gem. Even Shaw Brothers regular Lo Lieh gives a turn as the evil villain of the film which results in a fantastic sword duel at the end that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Stop, drop, and unload!
Needless to say, if you are a Hong Kong film fan Seven Warriors is a must have film. We know the story works and the execution of the action, drama, and humor is spot on for this rare find.  It might not be wholly original nor live up to some of the high standards I have for Sammo Hung films, but I had a blast with it nonetheless.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

Monday, May 5, 2014

We Are What We Are (2013)

Director: Jim Mickle
Notable Cast: Kassie DePaiva, Julia Garner, Ambyr Childers, Bill Sage, Jack Gore, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell

Jim Mickle certainly took the world by surprise with the quality of his ‘rat zombie’ flick Mulberry St and then took the horror world by storm with the epic and atmospheric post-apocalyptic vampire tale Stake Land. Both films are widely regarded as modern horror classics in many circles, so when his next project was announced to be the remake of the underground hit We Are What We Are I think quite a few of us were found scratching our noggins. Mickle, not to be taken lightly as a man with eye for the horrifying, not only does the film justice with his tweaked version, but he improves on the original film.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Amazing Spider-Man 2, The (2014)

Director: Marc Webb
Notable Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Paul Giamatti

If you go back and look at my review for The Amazing Spider-Man, then you will see that I wasn’t necessarily sold on the entire concept. The film had a bit of trouble dealing with the tone changes and director Marc Webb struggled with the action set pieces. With all of the mediocre reviews that came streaming in for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I was hesitant to say the least and my expectations certainly began to drop. Which is why, perhaps, I found this one to be a more enjoyable film than the first.

Peter Parker (Garfield) has been doing his best to balance his life as a student with a wonderful girlfriend in Gwen (Stone) and his life as a crime fighting superhero for New York. It’s tough though and relationship issues, doubts about his familial life, and the reappearance of a childhood friend in Harry Osborn (DeHaan) have thrown a hinge into the balance. To make matters worse, an accident at Oscorp has left a weary technician (Foxx) with substantial electric powers and a hunger to feed his ego…an ego that has no room for Spider-Man.

Just doing some dead lifts.
Now one thing I’ll make clear right now is that I don’t believe The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a better film than the first. In fact, it suffers from many of the same flaws and/or a few more in its ambitious attempt at really pushing the franchise forward. The tone between the romantic subplot and the comic book action can be jarring at times, some of the subplots seem forced including the rekindled friendship between Harry and Peter and the entire conspiracy surrounding the death of his parents, and the film is very long so by the time that Gwen and Peter have their third “fight” the audience seemed to be shifting a bit more than usual. These were all issues that the first film had and this sequel didn’t seem intent on fixing, which is something of a let down.

In that manner, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not a whole lot better than the first time around. Even more so, due to having two villains in the film, the baddies get less time for their own character arcs which can concerning when Electro’s character (as silly as it is) seems relatable for the first third of the film, but loses it in the latter portions. Where were the struggles for the villains that Raimi seemed so intent on keeping for his first two Spider-Man films? They aren’t found here, folks.
This is Sparkles.
That being said, I did state in my opening paragraph that I enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man 2 more than the first. If there was anything that Marc Webb and company did improve on was the action and the general ‘fun’ moments of the film. Outside of a shaky-cam disaster for the opening action sequence on a plane, Webb and company really worked on getting the action to move in better ways. Spider-Man’s traffic jam with Russian mobsters was a delight to watch that partnered fast paced action with great comedic timing to create a sequence that was worthy of comics (and very much reminded me of the 90s animated series of my youth). From there the film does tend to be a little too much CGI like the first cascading some of the sequences – like the final showdown with Electro – into video game cut scene territory, but Webb seemed much more comfortable crafting those scenes.

As is Webb’s strength, the true highlights of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 lie in the relationship between Gwen and Peter though. The chemistry between the two is effective and poignant for the film. Garfield and Stone eat up scenery throughout the film and with an increased focus on the humor and banter in the script, it works better even if the whole on-again-off-again relationship drags on through the film a bit too much.

"Hold on, I got this shit!"
Truthfully, the increased sense of fun and better action sequences does make The Amazing Spider-Man 2 more enjoyable overall. There are more issues with the script as they jam in a ridiculous amount of threads and characters into the film (in an attempt to set up future installments), but the film covers up a lot of them with its strengths this time around. Sure it’s not a perfect film and already falls short of the brilliance of Captain America: The Winter Solider for the year, but it works as popcorn theater.

Written By Matt Reifschneider