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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This week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List features five fabulous shows that will make you giggle with excitement and gasp from all the amazing moments that will soon flood your TV screens. Are you ready to return to Westeros?! The stars of Game of Thrones revealed why the ladies are kicking ass and taking control in Season 3, while Revolution's Tracy Spiridakos shed light on all the upcoming darkness and drama in her quest for revenge.
The Middle’s starlet Eden Sher revealed details on tonight’s episode and her elaborate thoughts on a classic SNL character, while Stefania Owen teased that love is in the air on The Carrie Diaries. Plus, I’ve snagged details on tonight’s one-of-a-kind and twitter-friendly event to honor Pysch’s 100th episode. This week’s list is packed to the brim with spoilers so grab a spoon and dig in to the deliciousness!
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1. Game of Thrones: Ladies Night Is in Westeros!
Though many of you reading this may swoon over the lads of Game of Thrones (Robb Stark, Jaime Lannister, sexy bastard Jon Snow, other sexy bastard Gendry, Theon Greyjoy...), the boys aren't part of the only game in this realm — old gods and the new be damned!
We've seen the first four episodes of Season 3, (subtle brag intended) and we think you'll be cheering for the ladies in no time. Newest apple of Joffrey's eye, Margaery Tyrell (former queen-to-be of Renly before he was killed off by a creepy vagina-cloud-monster), has taken quite well to life in King's Landing, and will definitely be a dynamic force to be reckoned with this season.
But it turns out that even an evil Queen Regent who effed her brother to create you can play the jealous mom card. Apparently Cersei, mother to the intolerable boy king, is none too happy with Joffrey's newest romantic development. Especially since — now, take a seat — Joffrey actually LIKES Margaery! (Wait a second, he likes anyone? Ever? Nope!). Cersei's newest distraction is actually a nice break (at least for now) for everyone's favorite ginger-potential-princess-turned-terrified-noble-prisoner.
Sansa isn't a girl anymore (and not yet a woman…), so she's learning a thing or two about the politics of noble relations under Margaery's tutelage. "Margaery and Sansa have a relationship which I think is very much a forced friendship," Sophie Turner, who plays the lovely Sansa, tells Hollywood.com.
"But a true friendship that is very sincere. It’s done for political reasons... for a good end result for the Tyrells and also Sansa. Margaery treats Sansa like a little sister and she educates her, and it’s lovely. It’s a really nice relationship.” But what will she teach her, you ask? "It’s nice to see her going from a chess piece to a player," Turner teased. Yikes! Watch out, Joffrey!
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2.The Carrie Diaries: Hamsters and Hotties
You all already know how much I adore this show, so I’ll keep my gushing to a minimum this week. Carrie is the perfect pre-Sex and The City teen and Sebastian is so hot it almost hurts my eyes, but without a doubt my favorite ‘80s lady is definitely the fiercly independent little sister with a big attitude, Dorrit. So you can imagine my delight when I got the chance to talk with the lovely Stefania Owen last week about Dorrit’s budding love life.
We saw a few weeks ago that Dorrit — in her quest to find Carrie the perfect birthday present — also found a little something for herself: A dark-haired jean jacket-wearing, music store-working hunk named Miller. Although we haven’t seen much from him since, in next week’s episode “A First Time For Everything” Dorrit will turn to an unexpected character for relationship advice: Donna LaDonna! That’s right, while Carrie is out contemplating on going all the way with Sebastian, Dorrit is looking to Connecticut’s biggest skank with a heart of gold for advice on how to handle her first serious relationship with Miller.
“He is the opposite of Sebastian,” Owen explains. “And I think that’s what the writers wanted to have so that you have that contrast.” The 15-year-old actress says that she was eager to watch Dorrit mature through a relationship. “I had a feeling it was coming, but I was surprised and excited — I’m also excited to see how it turns out,” she said.
Dorrit’s relationship status (figuratively speaking of course) is not the only thing that’s going to change for the young Bradshaw — her dark wardrobe will also start to warm up! “The look does change as the episodes go on, and it’s for certain reasons," Owen teases. “Dorrit always changes — one minute she’s the worst child you could ever dream of, but in other moments she’s almost the more responsible child.”
And speaking of changes, here’s the type of question that keeps me up at night: Where the heck did Morrissey the hamster go?! "That’s what I asked!” she says. “I’m really sad because the hamster disappeared and never came back. I thought there would be so many great little scenes between Dorrit and the hamster, but I guess the hamster disappeared. Dorrit wasn’t the best owner I guess.” You’ll always have a special place in our hearts Morrissey!
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3. Revolution: RIP And Revenge
Sorry if there are any typos in this blurb, (yes, that’s the super fancy name I call these things) but you have to bear with me here: I can't seem to see my computer screen clearly through my tears. How heartbreaking was that death on Monday's Revolution? After spending the first half of the season trekking across America to save her brother, Charlie and the rest of the Matheson group of good guys watched in horror as Danny saved the day by blowing up Monroe's locket of power only to get shot and killed himself. RIP, Danny, I'll miss your bright blue eyes and shiny blonde hair!
Renewed with purpose, Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) now blames Monroe for her brother's death and will do anything to make him pay... even if that means killing him herself. "She is driven to make things right, but she doesn't want to lose her humanity in light of all the things that have happened — that's her inner struggle," Spiridakos tells Hollywood.com. "She definitely continues to be even more badass than before, but will she continue to keep that heart that she's always had. That's her journey."
And Charlie won't be alone in her quest. Exec producer Eric Kripke revealed that taking down Monroe is now the focus of the second half of the season. "It’s really about facing down General Monroe," Kripke tells Hollywood.com. "If the first half of the season was just, 'Find the brother!', that was just the prologue to a much larger story, which is 'Take down the adversary!' The big bad of the season is General Monroe."
The rest of the season is going to be one big fast-paced war movie, according to Kripke. "We’re really able to get into that story now, where it’s these rebels who want to bring back the United States up against the evil empire which is the Monroe Republic," Kripke says. "But how do they do it in a way that lets them stick together as a family? Because, it’s a family show. It’s really about how the bonds of family and love and loyalty can overcome any obstacle, and can they stick together in the midst of this overwhelming and frought situation." They're already down two Matheson family members, let's hope they come out of this war with no more casualties!
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4. The Middle: Sue vs. Superstar!
If your middle name was the exact same as your first name, would you want it to be permanently displayed on your drivers license as a forever reminder of déjà vu? Yeah, me neither! So that’s exactly what Sue Sue Heck is hoping to change in tonight’s all-new episode of The Middle. Eden Sher — the fabulous 21-year-old who brings Sue Heck’s overly enthusiastic personality to life — told me that she has a lot of hilarious moments in tonight’s episode, “The Name.”
“It’s a lot of me popping in and out of scenes, suggesting names, and asking if those names are good, so I got to be a fun punch line,” Sher explains. “A lot of the names that — of course — Sue spoke in seriousness were hilarious, and that was really fun.” When I asked her to reveal some of these giggle-worthy names Sher was coy, saying, “I will say that when she gets fed up and she can’t decide she just picks a name at random in this baby book, one of them is Sue — she lands on Sue.”
While Sue is busy trying to find the perfect middle name, fans can get excited to see one of the world’s most perfect actresses grace their TV screens. That’s right, the legendary SNL vet Molly Shannon, is back in the Heck household to reprise her role of neat-freak Janet. While Shannon has perfected countless of characters over the years, my ultimate favorite has and always will be Miss Mary Katherine Gallagher.
Of course I had to ask the hard-hitting journalistic question: “What do you think would happen if Sue and Mary Katherine ever met?” And I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this is something that has crossed Sher’s mind countless times! “Don’t worry I’ve thought about this!” Sher boasted. “I feel like at first they would be like great friends and they would get a long and be very silly, but I actually think that Sue would eventually be so annoyed with Mary Katherine Gallagher,” she said. “I think they might be a little bit too similar and they don’t see the little things about themselves — like the overly enthusiastic things — that nobody else cares about. I think they might get a little peeved with each other.”
There you have it TV lovers! If Sue Heck and Mary Katherine Gallagher ever ended up in the same room together, their combined enthusiasm would be too much for the two superstars to handle. Now we can all feel like we’ve learned something today!
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5. Psych: The 100th Episode!
Oh hey all you little Psych-o’s out there! Guess what? Tonight is Pysch’s 100th episode and the powers that be at USA Network are shaking things up for Gus and Shawn’s exciting milestone. For the first time ever you — yes even you with that cute shirt on! — have the power to determine the ending to tonight’s epically awesome episode, “100 Clues.”
I’ve already seen the episode and here’s what you need to know: The one-hour special was definitely inspired by the classic 1985 film (and now board game) Clue, because Sean and Gus are invited to a mysterious party in a historic mansion. The party is thrown by Billy Lips, a rock icon who Shawn send to prison five year ago for murder. Yikes!
When a deadly crime is committed five potential and very eccentric suspects emerge: The butler, the Groupie, the Manager, the Author, and the Host. (Unfortunately Mrs. Peacock was MIA from this episode — she was always my favorite character to play!) But who did it? That’s up to you!
Fans on both coasts will have to work together to help Shawn and Gus determine who’s to blame for the night’s events. You can cast your votes for one of the five suspects on psych.usanetwork.com or Tweet your choices using a custom hashtag for each possible culprit (#PsychButlerDDit, #PsychGroupieDDit, #PsychManagerDDit, #PsychAuthorDDit and #PsychHostDDit) Sounds like a lot of freakin fun to me! Who do you think will commit tonight’s crime? Shout out your speculations in the comments below!
How excited are you for Game of Thrones to premiere on Sunday? Who would you rather be friends with: Mary Kathering Gallagher or Sue Heck? Were you sobbing after Monday night’s episode of Revolution? Tell me everything in the comments below!
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
—Additional reporting by Alicia Lutes, Sydney Bucksbaum and Shaunna Murphy
[Photo Credit: Keith Bernstein/HBO; Brownie Harris/NBC; Alan Zenuk/USA; Michael Asnell/ABC; Patrick Harbron/The CW]
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie