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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Lady Antebellum star Dave Haywood is preparing to become a first-time father. The Need You Now hitmaker and his wife Kelli are expecting their first child this autumn (14).
The parents-to-be took to Facebook.com on Monday (21Apr14) to make the announcement, writing, "So excited for a new Baby A on the way in Sept! And it's a boy!!! -Dave & Kelli".
The news comes just a week after the couple celebrated its two-year wedding anniversary last Monday (14Apr14).
The Haywoods' bundle of joy will be the latest member of the country trio's extended family - last July (13), singer Hillary Scott welcomed her first child, daughter Eisele, with drummer husband Chris Tyrrell.
Country music stars Lady Antebellum will be honoured at the 2014 Grammys on the Hill Awards for their excellence in both music and philanthropic efforts. The trio, made of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, will be given the Recording Artists' Coalition Award during the annual ceremony next month (02Apr14) in Washington, D.C.
The event mixes power players in both music and politics, and the award Lady Antebellum is set to receive is named for a program founded by singers Don Henley and Sheryl Crow.
Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow lauds the Grammy Award winners for their work in and out of the studio, including with their organisation called Ladyaid Fund, which supports children's hospitals in North America.
Portnow says in a statement that reads: "We are proud to honor Lady Antebellum for their artistry and inventiveness in the country arena as well as their philanthropic efforts to make a difference for disadvantaged children here and abroad."
Along with Lady Antebellum, House of Representatives Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will also be honoured for recognising the role music plays in American life.
The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
Country stars Carrie Underwood and Kix Brooks have offered well wishes to Lady Antebellum star Hillary Scott, who became a first-time mum on Monday (22Jul13). Just hours before news of the royal baby's birth made headlines around the world, the Need You Now singer welcomed little Eisele Kaye Tyrrell to the world in Nashville, Tennessee.
And several stars have taken to Twitter.com to congratulate Scott and her husband, Lady Antebellum drummer Chris Tyrrell.
Her bandmates Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood posted a message on the group's Twitter.com account, writing, "Congratulations to @HillaryScottLA and Chris, parents of the beautiful Eisele Kaye! Happy birthday and we love you!!"
And pal Underwood added, "@HillaryScottLA Congratulations, sweet Hillary! So many blessings to your family and its new gift from God! May she be just like you!"
Former Brooks & Dunn star Kix Brooks was also thrilled by the 'other baby news', tweeting, "Congrats to @HillaryScottLA of @ladyantebellum - sweet lil thing finally showed up! This is where the party starts!"
Scott took to her own Twitter page on Tuesday (23Jul13) to declare, "Thanks to EVERYONE for the congratulations, prayers, support, and love for our precious Eisele Kaye! She has completely stolen our hearts!"
Lady Antebellum star Hillary Scott has beaten the Duchess Of Cambridge to motherhood. Both women went into labour on Monday (22Jul13), and the singer's little lady popped out before Britain's new prince or princess.
Scott gave birth to daughter Eisele Kaye Tyrrell in Nashville, Tennessee.
The newborn's name is a combination of her grandmothers' maiden and middle names.
Proud dad Chris Tyrrell tells People.com his baby daughter is "incredibly gorgeous".
The drummer wed Scott in January, 2012, and she announced the pregnancy in December (12).
"Got to see baby girl this morning on an ultrasound. She stuck her tongue out at me...we may be in for a wild, fun, ride with her!! uh oh!" Pregnant country singer Hillary Scott meets her unborn child during a check-up.
Just goes to show you: even a poor, lowdown greaser from the North Zone can go on to become our nation's leader. Rob Lowe, whose Brat Pack beginnings have launched him to a career of playing criminals (and criminal attorneys) in Lifetime movies, is taking on a National Geographic film based on Bill O'Reilly's best seller Killing Kennedy. In the film, Lowe will embody the charmer that was our 35th president, John F. Kennedy.
Deadline reports that Lowe is joining the two-hour picture, which will focus on Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination of JFK. Playing beside the Commander-in-Chief will be Ginnifer Goodwin (as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy) and Michelle Trachtenberg (as Oswald's wife, Marina Prusakova Oswald). No word yet on who will take the role of the assassin in question.
With Scott Peterson, a lawyer in the Casey Anthony trial, and Parks and recreation's vehemently cheerful city manager making up his recent small screen résumé, we're wondering if the actor can, indeed, take on the thick-haired, strong-jawed, Cuba-invading world leader? We can't say for certain, but we have an inkling: Problowebly.
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Lady Antebellum stars Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood took time out of their busy schedules last week (ends12May13) to perform for sick youngsters at a New York hospital. The pair headed to Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai without their pregnant frontwoman Hillary Scott to meet patients in the paediatric unit.
Kelley and Haywood also staged an acoustic set of the band's hits, as well as kids' songs, during the visit, which was made in conjunction with the Musicians On Call organisation. The initiative brings live and recorded music to youngsters' bedsides.