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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Filming has begun on the annual Doctor Who Christmas special, which will see current star Matt Smith regenerate into new lead Peter Capaldi. For the uninitiated: one of the rules of the long-running British sci-fi series is that the Doctor can dodge death by altering every cell in his body, allowing the show to continue even as Ryan Gosling steals Smith away to embark on a promising film career.
The Scottish Capaldi will be the 12th actor to take on the role of the traveling Time Lord. At 55, he ties first Doctor William Hartnell as the oldest man in the part. But what else should we know about the new captain of the TARDIS? Read on to meet the new man of mystery behind the universe's ultimate man of mystery.
He's an Oscar Winner!The next actor to whisk us across time and space is the only one who can boast an Oscar! Peter Capaldi won the Live Action Short Film Academy Award in 1995 for directing Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life. Confident from his win, he claims to have taken one disappointing meeting in Los Angeles before getting on the next plane back across the pond.
He's Totally Punk Rock!While in art school in Glasgow, Capaldi was the lead singer of a post-punk band called The Dreamboys. The drummer? Future chat show host and Doctor Who superfan, Craig Ferguson. Ferguson introduced Capaldi on his show as a guest with whom he's "dropped acid." Wouldn't you have liked to have partied with those guys?
He Has ExperienceCapaldi has already been seen in Doctor Who, playing a desperate father dealing with a ready-to-pop Mount Vesuvius right outside his front door in Season 4 episode "The Fires of Pompeii." He also played a significant role in the third season of Who spinoff Torchwood. Tissues required for that one.
The Cumberbatch ConnectionHe costars with Hollywood's current Brit obsession Benedict Cumberbatch in the upcoming Julian Assange flick The Fifth Estate. But they've also played the same suspicious angel in two different adaptations of fantasy author Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Capaldi's was a charmingly low-budget 1996 miniseries, while Cumberbatch's is a 2013 radio play co-starring James McAvoy.
He's Most Likely Not in Harvey Weinstein's RolodexCapaldi tells reporters that he based his breakout role as the fabulously foul-mouthed Malcom Tucker in comedy series The Thick of It and spin-off film In The Loop on blustering Hollywood heavyweights, particularly Weinstein.
His Last Role Was Creepily PropheticCapaldi was last seen by American audiences in the Brad Pitt-fronted summer blockbuster World War Z, credited as a "W.H.O. Doctor." We know that acronym stands for World Health Organization, but still, hmmmm...
He's a BeatleSort of. He played George Harrison in the 1985 TV movie, John and Yoko: A Love Story.
He's a Grown-Up Fanboy.During the initial, classic run of Doctor Who, UK magazine The Radio Times published a fan letter from 15-year-old Capaldi congratulating them on a recent special edition focusing on the show. Now he's all grown up and essentially becoming his childhood hero, giving faith to Whovians everywhere.
Oh My God, He Totally Knows Brangelina!After fighting zombies with Brad, Capaldi joins Angelina Jolie on the darker side of one of our favorite fairy tales. He spent six hours in makeup every day for his upcoming role as King Kinloch in Maleficent, the origin story of Sleeping Beauty's evil witch.
The Silver Fox EffectThe Doctor is regenerating in December, but his companion is staying put. Jenna Louise Coleman, who plays the Time Lord's current best pal Clara Oswald, is 28 years Capaldi's junior, making their age difference the largest in the show's history.
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Billy, you always were my favorite Baldwin. It's not simply because you're my fellow SUNY Bing alumnus; it's your understated gallantry, your cavalier sophistication. You're the working man's King Arthur, a vivacious Kafka, a post-modern Alexander Pope. And where better to relinquish your dynasty of bravado? Hawaii Five-0.
William (to those on more formal terms with him) Baldwin is donating his talents to the CBS drama for a multiple episode arc this coming season. Baldwin's character will be an ex-cop, ousted from the force after his corruption is uncovered, who now runs a crime ring with other malfeasant officers. Playing opposite Baldwin in the Hawaii Five-0 stint will be Tom Sizemore (he's great...not Billy Baldwin great, but great) as the Head of Internal Affairs, and formerly a partner to Baldwin's character.
Judging Amy's Richard T. Jones, LOST's Terry O'Quinn (woo!) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Lauren German will also be joining the series this season in guest roles.
The Terminal is based loosely around the real-life story of an Iranian man who was trapped by a bureaucratic snafu at Charles DeGaulle Airport outside Paris and then simply refused to leave once he was cleared. Tom Hanks plays Viktor Navorski a traveler from the fictional country of Krakhozia who learns upon landing at JFK in New York that a civil war at home has put a serious crimp in his visa plans. Unable to enter America and unable to return home Viktor goes about building a temporary new life for himself inside the airport.
Tom Hanks used to be our top comic actor but as he took on dramatic roles and the Oscars began flowing he appeared to be trying so hard he might crack. The middle-aged Hanks has eased up though much to
our benefit. I thought his work in Road to Perdition was his best yet so understated it was heartbreaking. He doesn't have as much to do here the stakes just aren't as high but Viktor Navorski is the best combination of the funny Hanks and the Method-y Hanks yet. He's funny in the absurdist way the role requires his thick Slavic accent is easily convincing and he's also poignantly ordinary. The way Hanks plays it he could be any of us stuck in the airport. Catherine Zeta-Jones proves once again that there isn't an actress working today that the camera loves more. Her flight attendant Amelia is a worthy love interest for Viktor but again for Zeta-Jones it's a tiny empty role barely more fleshed out than her Oscar-winning cameo in Chicago. Perhaps the demands of motherhood (or Douglashood) preclude her from spending more time on a set. The rest of the cast is in fine form as well with Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and the luminous Zoe Saldana (Drumline) livening up the film's most superfluous subplot (of which there are many). Stanley Tucci playing the foil as Hanks did
in Catch Me If You Can particularly shines as the uptight callous bureaucrat who remembers once having heart of gold and now deeply regrets its loss. It's a brilliant acting choice and an excellent choice of actors.
Leave it to Steven Spielberg to create his own sub-genre the warm and fuzzy Kafka-esque nightmare. In the real-life story the Iranian man lost his mind and refused to leave the airport once permission was granted. It's too bad that delicious black irony has no place in Spielberg's childlike world of wonderment.
But if you're going to spend $60 million on a movie set entirely in an airport having Spielberg direct it isn't the worst idea. A movie this contrived requires an expert at suspending disbelief and Spielberg is a master. He trades expertly on the anxiety everyone has felt who has had their passport stamped in a foreign language. And all the other problems one imagines--food money shelter--are dealt with inventively. He keeps it moving at a breakneck pace that is right up until you figure out where he's headed. The movie's best moments are the wry absurdities of bureaucracy with Hanks and Tucci and the mall-ification of the airport. When Hanks tells Saldana with much gravity "He waits for you at Sbarro " there is a knowing discomfiting chuckle at the thought that
across the country the most important moment of someone's life may well be taking place in a food court. Entertaining as it is the movie still runs way too long stuffed to the gills with false endings too many subplots too many characters and too much dialogue. At times he is so intent on creating a fairytale atmosphere that you can practically feel the fairy dust being shoveled down from the rafters. Good as Spielberg is the movie feels more like a missed opportunity for the true paranoid obssessives Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman or Andrew Niccol (who wrote the original story).
One of America's sweethearts has replaced a pop princess in the celebrity hierarchy.
Friends star Jennifer Aniston took the top spot on Forbes magazine's Top 100 Celebrity List away from last year's winner Britney Spears, who did not even make it on the list this year. Aniston earned $35 million last year and appeared on more magazine covers than any other celebrity, Reuters reports.
"Good press or bad press, all press is equal in our eyes," said Forbes editor Peter Kafka, whose magazine compiles the list by factoring in a combination of celebrities' earnings, press clippings, radio and TV coverage and web hits. "By dollar value, Britney did not have a big album or a big tour, the proponents that usually land celebrities on the list."
Spears had a less than banner year in 2002, following her huge successes in previous years with the hit album Oops!..I Did It Again and subsequent concert tour. Her string of bad press in 2002 included the release of her screen debut, the critical and commercial failure Crossroads as well as her messy breakup with N'Sync-er Justin Timberlake.
Kafka told Reuters Aniston, whose husband Brad Pitt did not make the list, was a bit of a surprise. "Aniston's marriage may have helped to propel her to 13 covers, but she is still one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood," he said.
Bad-boy rappers Eminem and Dr. Dre tied for No. 2, each also earning $35 million but with a huge number--2 million, to be exact--of web hits to back them up. Golfer Tiger Woods slipped from second to third, even though he earned $78 million--$9 million more than last year.
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck can be now known as one of Hollywood's hottest new power couples, taking the fifth and seventh spots on the list with a combined income of $65 million, Reuters reports.
Rounding out the top 10 were movie director Steven Spielberg (4), ex-Beatle Paul McCartney (6), Oprah Winfrey (8), Tom Hanks (9) and The Rolling Stones (10).
Other notables included Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who came in at 15, up from her standing at 34 last year. Rowling's earnings increased by about $90 million, up from $41.8 million. The issue hit the newsstands Thursday.