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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The Who, the Pixies and actress Evan Rachel Wood have led tributes to rock legend Lou Reed, who died on Sunday (27Oct13), aged 71. The former Velvet Underground frontman passed away five months after a liver transplant and the rock world has been stunned by the tragic news.
A post on The Who's official Twitter.com page reads: "R.I.P. Lou Reed. Walk on the peaceful side", while Frank Black and his Pixies bandmates add, "R.I.P. LOU REED....A LEGEND."
Kings of Leon star Nathan Followill, British rocker Carl Barat, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Adams, Nile Rodgers, former My Chemical Romance star Gerard Way, The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney and Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo also marked the sad news by taking to Twitter, while new mum Wood stated, "I am really bummed out today. Lost one of the greats."
Weezer also offered up their thoughts about Reed's passing, tweeting, "R.I.P Lou Reed - VU (Velvet Underground) was a big influence when weezer was being formed, and (producer) Ric Ocasek told us cool stories of his friendship with him."
Meanwhile, rock historian Martin Lewis, who has produced an upcoming DVD box-set of Amnesty International concerts that feature Lou Reed prominently, performing alongside Sting, Bono, Bryan Adams, Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen and others, tells WENN, "Lou Reed was an exceptional pioneering musician who inspired both his contemporaries and those who followed after him.
"He generously supported Amnesty International from the very start of the Human Rights Concerts series, performing at all six concerts on Amnesty's A Conspiracy Of Hope U.S. tour in June, 1986. He recently very graciously gave his blessing for the release of those historic performances as part of Amnesty's DVD box-set of the concerts.
"He was a remarkable musician and humanitarian. He will be greatly missed by everyone - including the human rights movement that he was passionate in supporting."
The Easter Bunny may have already hopped away, but I’m here to bring you a basket full of TV treats in this week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List. As usual this week’s lineup features handpicked intel on five stellar shows. I uncovered talk of a marriage proposal from the powers that be at The Big Bang Theory, and chatted with Arrow star (and all-around perfect human being) Stephen Amell about tonight’s head-spinning episode.
Read on for tons of Shameless scoop from William H. Macy in anticipation of this week’s Season 3 finale, and get excited to learn all about the hilarious antics from the always-funny Happy Endings cast. Last — but most certainly not least — I chatted with a Glee star to bring you graduation updates and sprinkled in plenty of scoop on this show’s upcoming drama. Enjoy your spoiler-filled treats, TV Lovers!
RELATED: Leanne’s Spoiler List: Game of Thrones Scoop!
1. The Big Bang Theory: Promotions and Proposals
Words can’t describe how much I adore The Big Bang Theory — but if I had to try explain, all you’d have to know is that I spend the past weekend at WonderCon weaving in and out of the deodorant-challenged participants in search of a “Wesley Crushers” bowling t-shirt. Unfortunately my quest for the perfect-fitting tee was unsuccessful, so I happily bought a Sheldon Cooper bobblehead instead.
This week’s episode features an amazing battle that once again pits our brilliant characters — and the lovely Penny — against one another. In “The Tenure Turbulence,” the competition heats up as Leonard, Sheldon and Raj fight one another for the chance to receive tenure at the University. Things get even more ferocious when the girls get involved to fight for their men.
Leonard and Penny fans will absolutely adore this episode because there are some seriously sweet moments between our favorite beauty and the geek couple. This is especially apparent when Penny agrees to bring out the big guns — and by guns I mean her boobs — in order to sway the vote in her man’s favor. (Side note: Can we all just take a moment to admire the perfection of Miss Kaley Cuoco? Great, thank you for your time.)
The executive producers of The Big Bang Theory told me that after this year’s proposal agreement in the Valentine’s Day episode, Leonard and Penny are in a perfectly happy place. Bill Prady explains, “I think it’s interesting because in that episode it really took a lot of pressure off Leonard and it also I think that it’s taken Penny so long to articulate this feeling of the danger of being with somebody you like.”
EP Steven Molaro adds that Penny is a girl who likes to take her time when it comes to matters of the heart. “We’re also talking about a character that only for the first time this year told Leonard she loves him,” he says. “I don’t think there’s any immediate plans, but at some point down the road if there happens to be a proposal, you’re right — the ball is in her court.” As a card-holding Lenny fan, I'd like to first propose that we change our name to something cooler, and second I'd like to go on record as having a feeling that when Penny proposes to Leonard, it’s going to be 30 minutes of televised perfection.
RELATED: Leanne’s Spoiler List: Shameless, The Big Bang Theory, Grey’s Anatomy and More!
2. Arrow: Enemies and Friends
This weekend at WonderCon I also got to sit down with the devastatingly handsome Stephen Amell and stare directly into his beautifully bright blue eyes — I’m still recovering from my massive swoon-attack — and we gushed all about the exciting things coming up on Arrow. Hey, it beats binge-eating Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs (barely). In tonight’s episode, “Unfinished Business,” fans will be treated to a familiar face in Starling City when a woman on vertigo meets a violent death: Seth Gabel is back to reprise his role as The Count, and let's just say the drug-dealing criminal is still on Oliver's bad side.
Amell says the return of the vertigo epidemic brings up some past demons that Oliver would much rather forget. “It does bring up those memories about how it could’ve killed Thea. She was in a car wreck and though she just got a few bumps and bruises, she could’ve easily just have been in the morgue.” There's a truly intense confrontation between Oliver and The Count, with our favorite hood-clad hero snarling, “I should have killed you when I had the chance.”
In an interesting twist, The Count is not the only person Oliver is skeptical of. Amell — speaking in first person because he’s amazing like that — explains, “I cast a suspicious eye toward Tommy when vertigo pops up in Verdant and he doesn’t appreciate it at all. But I have every right to be suspicious!”
Amell continues, “We find out that Tommy has actually gone to great lengths and risked himself to protect me and to protect my secret, and that drives a big wedge between us by the end of the episode." Get excited, Arrow lovers, because Tommy is poised to take a deep, dark turn after tonight’s action-packed hour.
RELATED: Leanne’s Spoiler List: Ryan Murphy Tallks Glee, Girls and More!
3. Shameless: Fake Goodbyes and Real-Life Threats
After 11 laughter-inducing yet emotionally charged episodes, it pains me to say it’s time to once again say goodbye to the Gallaghers in this week's Shameless season finale. Many many moons ago, I chatted with William H. Macy about this phenomenal final episode and now I can finally fill you in on all the deets. When asked which child Frank is probably most proud of, I was excited and surprised to learn Macy’s answer. “I think that Frank knows that Lip has an extraordinary brain,” he said.
Fans will get to witness these two alpha males share a lot of screen time in this week’s episode, “Survival of the Fittest.” After taking the rap for Carl in their father/son bonding heist, Frank’s unexpected kindness causes Lip to let down him impenetrable emotional guard and the two share some unexpectedly sweet moments. However, all of this heartwarming yet hilarious bonding will come to a halt when Frank’s health takes a turn for the terrible.
Macy explains, “[Frank] finally has to pay the piper for years of self-abuse; that's really dramatic." Well it's about damn time — he's been drinking like there’s no tomorrow for decades! Despite all of the cruelties Frank has put his family through, the Gallaghers are still emotionally distraught to see their pathetic patriarch in the hospital.
In a truly touching scene, fans will get a sense of déjà vu when Carl shaves off Frank’s luscious locks. Macy explained that he had a strong sense of anxiety before this scene because Ethan Cutkosky — the young actor who plays Carl — kept messing up his lines in rehearsal. Macy expressed his frustrations because they only had one chance to get the scene right.
“We cut off my hair in the show and [Ethan] did it. We have a couple of lines and I said ‘Run the lines with me,’ and he blew the line. I said 'Come on,' and he blew it again. He kept doing it over and over. I finally grabbed him by the collar and I said, ‘They’re about to shave my head, you will get this f**king line or I will kill you.'” Macy adds with a laugh, “It’s funny how life imitates art.” Note to self: Do not piss off William H. Macy. Ever.
RELATED: Leanne’s Spoiler List: Glee, The Vampire Diaries, Justified and More! a>
4. Happy Endings: Sister vs. Sister
Last week I ooh-ed and aah-ed over all the amahzing reasons as to why Happy Endings is the new TGIF, and this week is going to be especially wonderful. Lemme put it this way: What’s better then a cat fight? Answer: A sister bitch-fit that delves into years of repressed animosity, s**t-talking, and secrets. Add in a snarky hairdresser and you’ve got the perfect episode.
RuPaul guest stars in an all-new Happy Endings this Friday as Jane and Alex’s long-time hairstylist and sister psychiatrist. For years the Kerkocich girls have been bitching about one another whenever they get their hair did, so when Max decides to take a spin in RuPaul's chair, he learns all of their secrets and his big mouth nearly ignites World War III.
I recently visited the Happy Endings set and chatted with the fantastically funny Adam Pally about “The Incident.” Pally explains, “Basically as you can see Max is having hair trouble this year. He’s having trouble finding a style that suits him … so he goes to Jane and Alex’s stylist and they hit it off.” The actor says RuPaul was a phenomenal addition to the Happy Endings family. “RuPaul was great He was being really funny and hilarious and we were improvising and it was so much fun.” Make sure to you all tune into (or at least DVR) the double-dose of Happy Endings this Friday at 8 PM!
RELATED: Leanne’s Spoiler List: Arrow, Happy Endings and Grimm
5. Glee: A New New Yorker?
The year a pack of newbies have taken over the McKinley side of Glee, and while I adore their fresh new energy, I sometimes can’t help but get a little peeved at the fact that Glee originals Tina, Brittany, and Artie have been put on the back burner in their senior year. Of the ferocious five that started it all, I feel like Tina is the character that has never really gotten the time to shine, so I made sure to catch up with Miss Cohen-Chang’s off screen counterpart Jenna Ushkowitz a few weeks ago to talk about life after Lima.
Earlier this year it was established that Tina’s dream is to become a singer and while some may think she doesn’t have what it takes (Ahem, Brittany…) Ushkowitz is confident that her character could make it. But the question remains: Is Tina a New York singer or an L.A. singer? The actress answered immediately, saying,“I think she’s definitely more of New York singer. I would love to see her pursue her dreams and do that.” Eeek! So would I!
The Glee original says that she's eager to find out Tina’s fate. “I don’t know what the writers have in mind, so I’m excited to see what happens,” she says with a smile. One thing Ushkowitz knows for sure is she’d love to see Tina join in on the NYC side of Glee. “She cares about [singing] so much and she really loves that glee club, so I hope to see her try and move to New York.” How do you think Tina would fit in with the New York crowd? Sing your thoughts in the comments below!
Bonus Glee Scoop: When our beloved show returns next week, a terrifying event will shake the halls for McKinley and each of the New Direction-ers will have a different yet equally serious reaction. Let’s just say that the episode’s title, “Shooting Star,” should give you a very clear indication of what’s to come.
In the following episode, “Sweet Dreams,” prepare to say “Hello gorgeous!” to Rachel Berry because this is the week the NYC gang will return. Not only does Rachel’s relationship with Shelby drastically improve — it’s even better then the time Shelby made her Lady Gaga costume! — Finchel fans will get an oh-so sweet conversation that will make you blush, swoon, sigh, and squee all at the same time.
Are you hoping Penny will eventually pop the question? Think Frank is ready to sober up on Shameless? What do you want to see from the final episodes of Glee? Tell me everything in the comments below!
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[Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.; FOX; Showtime; Cate Cameron/The CW; Josiah True/WENN]
From Our PartnersSee 'Game of Thrones' as 'Mad Men' (Vulture)Hayden Panetierre Bikinis in Miami (Celebuzz)
Thursday evening, the who's who of Hollywood will put on their fancy pants and gather at the Staples Center for a night of shmoozing and self-appreciation. It's the party of the year, otherwise known as the MTV Video Music Awards. In years past, we've seen some jaw-dropping performances — including Madonna's of "Like a Virgin" in 1994, Michael Jackson's 1995 medley, and Britney Spears' 2001 python-draped rendition of "I'm a Slave 4 U" — and crazy pop culture mash-ups. But for every Madonna/Britney lip lock and Lady Gaga meat dress, there was also a Fartman. (A what? Click on to find out.) While filled with moments that would become iconic, the VMAs and MTV Movie Awards are also full of instances we'd like to forget.
To get ready for the 2012 VMAs that air Thursday night, we have decided not to take a look back at the show's highlights, but rather its low-lights. From the now-infamous Interrupting Kanye West to Fiona Apple's rant against the entertainment industry, we've compiled the most awkward moments from MTV award shows. Let the cringing begin!
Launch Our Gallery of MTV's Most Awkward Awards Show Moments
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic]
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