Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
As grand as the themes of good and evil, needs and deservings, power and responsibility and such forth are, superhero movies are generally pretty straightforward in premise: hero stops villain from wreaking havoc. As off-putting as this kind of simplicity might sound, it's usually the right way to go. If you pack enough substance into your characters and adhere your plot to these linear margins, you can actually wind up saying a healthy amount (and having a lot of fun). The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets half of this formula down pat. Although Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is still a moreover undistinguished identity, his emotional magnitude (re: his relationship with Gwen Stacy) is enough to keep him valid through the storm of lunacy that is his second feature. And it's not even that lunacy that holds him back. The problem isn't how wild his conquests are, how silly some of the action sequences feel, or how absolutely bonkers his villains turn out to be. It's all the other stuff (and yes, if you can believe it, there's a ton more going on in this movie than what I've already mentioned — that's the issue). All the plot twists, tertiary mysteries, ominous flashbacks, abject reveals, and weightlessly sinister pawns in this brooding game that, save for its fun with the baddies, takes itself way too seriously. All that stuff that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 thinks is necessary to make Peter Parker matter? It actually does just the opposite.
Peter is at his best when he's playing Tracy and Hepburn with the girlfriend he's perpetually disappointing (the eternally charming Emma Stone), or trying to win back the favor of the only remaining parental figure from whom he's rapidly slipping away (Sally Field, reminding us why she's a household name), or angling to connect with the mentally unstable engineer who just wants people to notice him (Jamie Foxx working his comic shtick with a frightening zest). We have the most fun with Peter when he's playing the simplest games, and we connect best with him on similar ground. But Peter and company, at the behest of The Amazing Spider-Man franchise's Sandman-sized aspirations, spend so much time exploring new avenues: the secrets surrounding the death and work of Richard Parker, the behind-the-curtains operations of OsCorp, the nefarious goings on in the waterside penitentiary Ravencroft.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
As a result of the grand stab at world building, there is just so much stuff that Peter has to wade through in this movie, dragging the likes of Gwen and his boyhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan, mastering angst, menace, and upper-class privilege all at once) into the dark crevasses of narrative waste. With so many diversions into the emotionally vacant, deliberately joyless explorations of Parker family origin stories, secret brief cases, and underground subways — The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rivals Captain America: The Winter Soldier in complexity, but forgets the necessary ingredient of fun — we barely have enough energy left when the good stuff hits.
And in truth, the good stuff isn't really good enough to sustain us through all the duller periods. Garfield and Stone do have laudable chemistry. Foxx is a hoot as Peter's maniacal new foe, especially when paired with the grimacing DeHaan. And the action, while often straying from any aesthetic authenticity, is nothing shy of neat-o. It's all passable, occasionally worthy of a hearty smile, but rarely anything you'll be definitively pleased you took the time to see.
But beyond coming up short in the micro, the film's regal downfall is its scope. With so much to do, both in accomplishing its own necessary plot points and setting up for those to come in future films, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn't seem to take time to make sure it's having fun with its own premise. And if it isn't having fun, we won't be either.
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"That snail is fast!" This tagline sums up all you need to know about Turbo, the rather ironic tale of a garden snail who races in the Indy 500. The latest computer-animated flick from Dreamworks tells a typically predictable underdog story, with the proper doses of humor and heartwarming moments. It's totally cliché, but still great family fun.
Voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Turbo (née Theo) is a simple garden snail who is fed up with his humdrum life in the tomato patch with his overly cautious brother Chet (Paul Giamatti). When he isn't working with overripe fruit at "the plant," the ambitious little snail watches old car race tapes and dreams of being fast like French-Canadian Indy 500 champion Guy Gagne (voiced by Bill Hader). Then one fateful night, Turbo is exposed to nitrous oxide and effectively transformed into a car, equipped with a radio, alarm, headlights, and best of all, super speed. Turbo's newfound abilities quickly come into play when he rescues Chet from a crow attack, but the two brothers are then snatched up by a taco truck driver named Tito Lopez. Just when they think they're about to become escargot, Chet and Turbo are surprised to find that Tito only wants to enter them in a snail race.
Tito and his brother Angelo operate the struggling Dos Bros taco stand in a ramshackle strip mall with a hobby shop, nail salon, and auto repair shop. The owners are friends, racing snails together to take their minds off their failing businesses. But when they discover Turbo's incredible talents, they decide to show him off to the world. With hopes to win the Indy 500 and put their strip mall on the map, the shop owners and their snails band together to travel to Indianapolis. Then, it's all up to Turbo and his supersnail speed.
With a star-studded cast boasting the likes of Maya Rudolph, Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Michelle Rodriguez, Luis Guzmán, Michale Pena and Richard Jenkins, Turbo is an adorable film about a little snail with big dreams. While some animated movies focus solely on entertaining the kids, and others devote too much energy to appeasing the adults, Turbo manages to achieve a nice balance of humor that will have parents and their children laughing together. And it promotes the inspiring messages that we want our children to be exposed to: 1) Follow your dreams, no matter how outlandish they may be. 2) Your heroes may disappoint you, but you can become your own hero. 3) Taco trucks are awesome.
Indeed, Turbo features some nice contemporary touches, like the ever-popular food truck, a viral video subplot, and a French-accented car-racing villain à la Talladega Nights. Still, there is absolutely nothing surprising about this movie, which isn't necessarily to its detriment but certainly makes for a less exciting viewing experience. There's comic relief (most notably Ken Jeong's voice performance as a feisty female manicurist) and a bit of suspense, but we're never too worried that things won't turn out okay in the end. Is it realistic? Of course not. But is it fun? Most definitely. In effect, it's an easy movie to watch and enjoy for 90 minutes or so, but you probably won't find yourself hankering for a repeat viewing. While Turbo is nothing groundbreaking, it's a charming film with a lot of heart.
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It’s Christmas in Chicago and the far-flung members of the Rodriguez clan are coming home to spend the holidays at the their parent’s house. But Mom (Elizabeth Pena) has a surprise in store for the grown siblings: She is divorcing their father (Alfred Molina) right after the tree is taken down. This doesn’t sit well with the now adult kids including business man Mauricio (John Leguizamo) who has arrives with high-powered wife Sarah (Debra Messing). There’s also Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito) a successful Hollywood actress who seems to be at a crossroads in her life while her nice neighborhood friend Ozzy (Jay Hernandez) would like to be mean more to her. And then there’s Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez) just back from Iraq and unsure of his place in the family. All of these situations intertwine when the serious illness of one of their own is suddenly revealed and the family has to pick up the pieces and come together. Nothing Like the Holidays gains its strength from a superbly chosen cast including the wonderful Molina as the family patriarch who tries desperately to keep his family and marriage together. As his long-suffering wife Anna Pena is superb cutting right to the core of who this woman is. Also very impressive is Six Feet Under star Rodriguez who plays the returning Iraq vet with touching pathos. Leguizamo on the other hand pretty much sleepwalks through his one-dimensional role and is miscast opposite Messing who still manages to evoke sympathy for her career woman quickly running out of time to have a baby. Ferlito is just fine as the fledgling Hollywood actress who seems more at home than the rest. Hernandez is an attractive and forthright presence as the local boy who finds himself attracted to the possibly unattainable star. Meanwhile a cameo by terrific character actor Luis Guzman provides comic relief. Director Alfredo De Villa has proven he knows his way around a character-driven drama with his film Washington Heights. And with Holidays he clearly invests a lot of time making sure these interconnected storylines make sense in the scheme of things and turns the sometimes pedestrian situations into what almost seems like live theatre. The performances snap crackle and pop and the seasonal atmosphere really contributes to the satisfying dramatics . Although some of the actors are allowed to go over the top occasionally De Villa keeps control of the film and makes it work as a very engaging and lively holiday confection you and your family will most likely identify with.
Puerto Rico's Chayanne and Mexico's Pilar Montenegro were the big winners at the Billboard Latin Music Awards in Miami Thursday night, taking home three awards each.
Spanish trio Las Ketchup, Mexican group Mana, Argentine-Mexican duo Sin Bandera and Mexico's Los Temerarios and Lupilla Rivera all walked away with two awards each.
Latin stars Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, Luis Miguel, India and Juanes picked up one trophy each at the ceremony.
For the first time in the show's history, awards were also given for label of the year in various genres. Sony Discos led the way as the top label on six Billboard charts, including Hot Latin Tracks, Top Latin Albums, Latin Pop Airplay, Tropical/Salsa Airplay, Latin Pop Albums, and Tropical/Salsa Albums.
This year's event included two special award presentations. Mexican composer/singer Armando Manzanero was honored with the Billboard Hall of Fame Award for his contribution to Latin music.
Panamanian rapper El General, meanwhile, received the Spirit of Hope Award for his work with Ninos Pobres Sin Fronteras (Poor Children With No Borders), the Panama-based foundation he created and supports.
Ricky Martin, who performed the song "Tal Vez (Maybe)," was honored with Telemundo's Star award.
Other performers included Chayanne and Montenegro, who performed their hit songs, and Mexican star Thalia, who won the female pop album of the year for Thalia and the Telemundo Viewers Choice award. A.B. Quintanilla, Alexandre Pires, Gilberto Santa Rosa, India Kumbia Kings, and Lupillo Rivera also performed at the ceremony.
Below is a complete list of winners at the 2003 Billboard Latin Music Awards, presented May 8 at the Miami Arena.
Hot Latin Track Of The Year: "Y Tu Te Vas" Chayanne (Sony Discos)
Hot Latin Track Of The Year, Vocal Duo: "Por Ese Hombre" Brenda K. Starr With Tito Nieves and Victor Manuelle (Sony Discos)
Hot Latin Tracks Artist Of The Year: Alexandre Pires (RCA/BMG Latin)
Songwriter Of The Year: Estefano (10 titles)
Producer Of The Year: Rudy Perez (8 titles)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, Male: Un Dia Normal Juanes (Surco/Universal Latino)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, Female: Thalia Thalia (EMI Latin)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, Duo or Group: Revolucion De Amor Mana (Warner Latina)
Latin Pop Album Of The Year, New Artist: Las Ketchup Las Ketchup (Shaketown/Columbia/Sony Discos)
Top Latin Albums Artist Of The Year: Los Temerarios (Fonovisa/UG)
Latin Rock Album Of The Year: Revolucion De Amor Mana (Warner Latina)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, Male: Viceversa Gilberto Santa Rosa (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, Female: Latin Songbird: Mi Alma Y Corazon India (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, Duo or Group: Confesiones... Monchy & Alexandra (J&N/Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Album Of The Year, New Artist: Un Gran Dia En El Barrio Spanish Harlem Orchestra (Ropeadope/AG)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, Male Solo Artist: Amorcito Corazon Lupillo Rivera (Sony Discos)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, Male Group: Una Lagrima No Basta Los Temerarios (Fonovisa/UG)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, Female Group or Female Solo Artist: Libre Jennifer Pena (Univision/UG)
Regional Mexican Album Of The Year, New Artist: A Toda Onda La Onda (EMI Latin)
Latin Greatest Hits Album Of The Year: Grandes Exitos Chayanne (Sony Discos)
Latin Compilation Album Of The Year: Las 30 Cumbias Mas Pegadas Various Artists (Disa/UG)
Latin Jazz Album Of The Year: The Shadow Of The Cat Gato Barbieri (Peak/Concord)
Latin Dance Club Play Track Of The Year: "Escape/Escapar (Remixes)" Enrique Iglesias (Interscope/Universal Latino)
Latin Dance Single Of The Year: "Alive (Thunderpuss Remix)" Jennifer Lopez (Epic)
Latin Rap Album Of The Year: A La Reconquista Hector & Tito (VI Music/Universal Latino)
Publisher Of The Year: EMI April, ASCAP
Publishing Corporation Of The Year: EMI Music Publishing
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, Male: "Y Tu Te Vas" Chayanne (Sony Discos)
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, Female: "Quitame Ese Hombre" Pilar Montenegro (Univision)
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, Duo or Group: "Entra En Mi Vida" Sin Bandera (Sony Discos)
Latin Pop Airplay Track Of The Year, New Artist: "Entra En Mi Vida" Sin Bandera (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, Male: "Viviendo" Marc Anthony (Columbia/Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, Female: "Por Ese Hombre" Brenda K. Starr (Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, Duo or Group: "Te Quiero Igual Que Ayer" Monchy & Alexandra (J&N/Sony Discos)
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Track Of The Year, New Artist: "Asereje" Las Ketchup (Sony Discos)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, Male Solo Artist: "Te Solte La Rienda" Lupillo Rivera (Sony Discos)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, Male Group: "Perdoname Mi Amor" Conjunto Primavera (Fonovisa)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, Female Group or Female Solo Artist: "Quitame Ese Hombre (version nortena)" Pilar Montenegro (Univision)
Regional Mexican Airplay Track Of The Year, New Artist: "Quitame Ese Hombre (version nortena)" Pilar Montenegro (Univision)
Latin Christian/Gospel Album Of The Year: Storm Fernando Ortega (Word)
Latin Tour Of The Year: Luis Miguel (Warner Latina)
Hot Latin Tracks Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Top Latin Albums Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Latin Pop Airplay Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Tropical/Salsa Airplay Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Regional Mexican Airplay Label Of the Year: Fonovisa
Latin Pop Albums Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Tropical/Salsa Albums Label Of the Year: Sony Discos
Regional Mexican Albums Label Of the Year: Univision Music Group
The winners are determined by sales and airplay measured by Nielsen SoundScan and Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, respectively, reflected in the Billboard charts for the issues dated Feb. 16, 2002, through Feb. 8, 2003.