Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises

Sorry readers, this post actually should've gone up last week but I was too tired to write anything by the time I got home from the movies, so I ended up crashing instead. I've also had work the past couple days, so this post has been coming along slowly.

Anyway, I had a day off from work last Wednesday and I decided to spend my day at the movies. I watched The Amazing Spider-Man and, after realizing that I had time in my day for another movie, I saw The Dark Rises as well. Since I saw them back to back, I'm going to attempt a double review then compare the two movies.

[Warning: The following reviews will contain SPOILERS]

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

First up is The Amazing Spider-Man. This was exactly the type of fun I was expecting to have at the theater with a comic book movie. There were plenty of jokes, lots of good action, and a story that kept you glued to the big screen. Sure, a lot of the action was CGI but at the pace that Spider-Man and The Lizard were fighting at, it had to be CGI to look good. With that being said, the CGI was actually pretty decent in this. At the very least, it was leaps and bounds above the first Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire in it. Given that it was about 10 years ago, you could argue that the technology is a decade old, but Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers came out that same year so that's not really an excuse. Some of those wall crawling scenes were so terrible that it made my skin crawl!!! Not to mention that movie had the longest opening title sequence of ALL time. (About 1/3 of the movie's total run time was probably the title sequence alone!)

This one jumps right into it with little to no waiting at all. Now, the story. We all know the story of Spider-Man, so why do a reboot? I was really skeptical about ANOTHER re-telling of Spider-Man's origins and thought we could've used a sequel instead of a reboot. I wondered what they could've possibly done differently this time around that they didn't do all the other times? Well, I stand corrected as going with the reboot seems like it was the best choice after all. We get to see him bitten (again) and we see how his powers develop (again) but rather than drag on the story, they kept the pace moving pretty fast. They touched on all the key points of the story without making too much of a spectacle of any one part of the plot. After Tobey's Parker was bitten, he goes for a wrestling match against Macho Man before he becomes Spider-Man. That entire segment was just to set up his mask/costume and Uncle Ben getting shot. In the new one, Uncle Ben is shot first and Peter decides to go hunt down the man who did it. (Using a tattoo on the criminal's left wrist as a reference) The first time he roughs up a guy, he gets chased onto a rooftop where he realizes that he's got the wrong guy. He turns to leave but falls through a hole in the roof and lands in a wrestling ring. As he stares up at the mask on the poster, the guys says that he's seen Parker's face and remembers what he looks like. Very simple set up and very straightforward, Peter's out doing something dangerous and realizes that he needs to wear a mask so no one can recognize him. Gets right to the point.

Another thing that I really appreciate about this movie is the way they show him web-swinging through the city. We usually get shots of Spider-Man swinging into to action or a shot of him swinging away but this movie combined first-person views with shots of Spider-Man spinning and twirling through the air as he web-swings. Really reminded me of one of the Spider-Man games where you could unlock different acrobatic moves for him to do while he's web-swinging. I just thought that little detail added more depth to this re-telling of the story. (Glad they didn't overlook the details!) Another important detail that I felt like they handled very well was how they introduced the idea of "With great power, comes great responsibility" without having to use that same quote over and over again. That line has been done to death in just about every incarnation of Spider-Man from TV shows to Comics and even the Video Games. I thought it was real nice that they could get that same message across without using that exact same line. 

Finally, what didn't I like about this movie? To be honest, there wasn't much to complain about. The action was cool, the story was good, and I liked how it felt like I was just reading another story arc in the comics. Varied but not completely different. The only real head-scratcher I encountered was why Dr. Conners, who had been a south paw scientist for a good part of his life, would use the arm he just grew as a result of the serum to open the door of taxi he was trying to get into. (Watch the movie and you'll see what I mean!) Other than that one part, I would have to say that this movie was thoroughly entertaining and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good time at the movies. Whether you're a long time Spider-Man fan or new to the franchise, this movie is just a flat out good time. Go see it! Just remember to stay after the credits for a secret ending.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The poster says it all. Bane, the man who broke the Bat. Quite possibly the most highly anticipated movie of the summer, it made even bigger headlines after the Colorado tragedy. I won't even speak on that just because I am disgusted by how much media coverage we've already given this psycho after he cried out for attention by hurting random people. Not cool. Back to the movie!! Although it definitely lacked the charisma that The Dark Knight had, along with much of the theatrics, this movie was good at what it intended to do. I've heard a lot of people compare it to TDK, saying that Bane just wasn't as good of a villain as The Joker was. I felt like these movies had two different end goals and both were good, each in their own rights, at what they were trying to do. The second movie had to step it up a notch from the first since by this time, the Batman character was already established and no longer a newbie at crime fighting. The theatrics were there to support the dark tone of the storyline but the movie was not entirely without jokes. (I mean, the villian IS the Joker after all...)

Being a trilogy, this movie has the task of concluding the story but also the difficulty of having to live up to the hype after the second movie. I feel like the second movie has the task of letting the Batman character shine and really show off what he can do while in his prime. This third movie had to portray a weakened version of the Batman character while introducing a much hungrier opponent. One that had a purpose as well as a means to defeat the Batman. This character came in the form of Bane, a hulking monster of a bad ass that lays a brutal ass whooping on Batman. That's what I meant when I said each movie was good at the task it was aiming to accomplish. The second movie was a means for Batman to "spread his wings" so to speak (excuse the pun) but the third movie was the conclusion and needed to introduce a much stronger and more bad ass opponent that was capable of defeating Batman. In this aspect, the movie succeeded as Bane tossed Batman one of the worst beatings I've ever seen him take. If I had to associate a word or phrase with each of these sequels, "theatrics" would be for the second movie and "bad ass" would be my pick for The Dark Knight Rises. Bane was just a bad ass that Batman tried his absolute hardest to fight, but was just too strong an opponent for him. The one-on-one fight between these two is just brutal. This is where a picture is worth a thousand words because no words can really describe the beating Batman takes in this movie, you just have to see it for yourself.

I'm not crazy about the way the final battle ends but the movie was pretty good overall. What did I like about the movie? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the incredibly beautiful Anne Hathaway. Ok, maybe her fight scenes weren't as believable as say... Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow in The Avengers... but she's just so BEAUTIFUL that it's an absolute pleasure seeing her on the screen. The music was amazing to say the least and I think it really makes the movie. I think the biggest highlight was the fight scene between Batman and Bane, coupled together with the great music and stunning appearances by Anne Hathaway made for an entertaining movie. Now, with that said, what didn't I like about the movie? I wish there were more gadgets and fight scenes throughout the movie because it was a little dialogue heavy. Bane's voice was a little difficult to understand at time. Also, like I said, I wasn't crazy about the way they ended the movie. The final scene is pretty cool but the final battle and the way it was resolved was okay. Not great, but okay. Something about it reminded me of this scene from the 1966 Batman movie:

Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!

While I would say that the movie was pretty enjoyable overall, you really need to see the first two installments of the trilogy and appreciate them as a whole. If I were comparing The Dark Knight Rises to The Amazing Spider-Man, I would have to say that I had a better time watching Spider-Man. That movie was just more fun overall and I would recommend to ANYONE. The Dark Knight Rises would only be recommended to Batman fans and people who have seen the first two movies. I really liked what this movie did for the Bane character because the only other time you see him in the movies, he's just a lackey for Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin. They made him out to be a mindless follower that's just a peon for other villains. This movie made him out to be more of the bad ass that he actually is in the comics. The tone of this movie is dark and I really like that, but all I could hear echoing through my head the entire movie was "Why so serious?"

In conclusion, I'm sure The Dark Knight Rises will be talked about for a much longer period of time but for a more enjoyable time at the movies, I'd recommend seeing The Amazing Spider-Man instead this summer. (If you had to choose only one, that is)