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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While President Barack Obama stopped by Leno last night, two other late night hosts welcomed music royalty into their hot-seats Wednesday. Jimmy Fallon scored an interview with Rod Stewart to talk about Stewart's new memoir and Christmas album. And Jimmy Kimmel locked one in with Guns N' Roses founding member Axl Rose. Rose chatted about his pre-rockstar days — and also a unique Halloween costume that he sported one year. Plus, The Office star Rainn Wilson shared a funny video with Conan O'Brien of himself abducting celebrities on the streets.
Here's what you missed last night on late night TV:
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Rod Stewart was on a major promo tour last night. He stopped by Fallon to chat about his new autobiography rightfully titled, ROD: The Autobiography. "It really is a happy book," he said. "It's not really a book about drugs and sex. Of course drugs and sex are in it, but it's just light-hearted and a fun read." He also revealed that his new album, Rod Stewart: Merry Christmas, Baby, (which comes out next week) will include tracks with Michael Bublé, Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green, and even the late Ella Fitzgerald.
Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!
Guns N' Roses founding member Axl Rose told Kimmel about his days prior to becoming a big rock star. He revealed that he worked at Tower Video, a video store that used to be a Sunset Boulevard staple in Los Angeles. "I became a manager for a very short amount of time," he said. "I let everybody have beers after work." Sounds like he was a pretty cool boss. Rose also talked about an interesting Halloween costume he wore one year. "Once I was a giant ear of corn," he said. "We have a saying in Guns N' Roses when somebody is going to get yelled at, you get the corn. So one year I was the corn."
Late Show With David Letterman
The O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly of course talked politics. "It's a close election," he said. "Romney has momentum now. The polling tomorrow [Thursday] through the weekend [is] very important because that will reflect what happened in the last debate. My theory is no one watched the full debate. I don't think there is going to be any blunting of Romney's momentum. The President better pull a rabbit out of a hat somehow." While O'Reilly refused to predict who would win the presidential election, it sure did sound like he's put his faith in Romney. Quite a shocking revelation for a Fox News person.
Rainn Wilson gave Conan O'Brien a video demonstration of how he scores celebrity interviews for his web series, Metaphysical Milkshake. "We do it in the back of my 1976 Chevy van," he said. "Frankly, we have a hard time getting guests, so we have to resort to some very unorthodox ways of obtaining guests for our show." Watch and learn how Wilson gets the job done.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
[Photo Credit: ABC]
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There's no question that superheroes are a lucrative bunch. From Spider-Man to The Dark Knight, crime-fighters on the big screen often translate to big bucks at the box office. But how much does it actually cost to be a superhero? To celebrate Superhero Week — and May 4's all-star blockbuster The Avengers — Hollywood.com delves into the sustainability of our favorite heroes' super extracurricular activities. Would they have the funds — and good health — to keep up with their secret lifestyles? We’ve brought you Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man, and the Hulk, and now, it’s time for the Man who’s faster (and thriftier) than a speeding bullet: Superman. We break down Bryan Singer’s 2006 film, Superman Returns , and discover that being Superman’s life is pretty much the best. In fact, with this post comes my resignation and an application to take over his duties and general lifestyle.
Name: Clark Kent
Occupation: He’s a pavement-pounding reporter for Metropolis’ Daily Planet, though he’s lucky to have the job after his unannounced five-year “vacation” — the one no one seems to notice matches up perfectly to Superman’s five-year hiatus.
Income: Well, it’s not much. The man’s an average reporter at the Daily News of Metropolis. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the average reporter makes approximately $35,000 a year, but that includes television reporters and those fancy folks at the New York Times. Considering that Kent is replacing an old reporter and he’s been missing for an exorbitant amount of time, we’re going to place him on the lower end of the scale, above the kids fresh out of college and below the solid $35k-ers. Salary: $30,000 a year.
Housing: Get ready to start tearing your hair out and screaming at that bird, or plane, or flying man in sky because Superman is about to blow your mind with the hidden superpower you can’t even try to possess (no matter how many times your dad sends you Yahoo! Articles about how to save money on everyday necessities): penny pinching. When he first crash lands back on Earth, he says rent free with his mama and when he returns to the big city, he’s ambiguously “still looking” for an apartment. He does take a little nap in Earth’s mesosphere, where he closes his eyes and hangs out like a confused, right-side-up bat just waiting to hear a crime to disturb his slumber so he can swoop down and save the day. He also throws some crystals into the water in Antarctica, which yields a giant crystal mansion which you might call the Fortress of Solitude. This magnificent palace costs him approximately nothing. Rent: $0 (The bastard.)
Costume: Keep up the fist-shaking and the screaming, because Superman doesn’t even need to buy his super suit. Why? It comes from space. Yes, as in that big mystery in the sky. The invulnerable material comes from Krypton, and unfortunately, no foreign currency exchange was willing to crunch the numbers to determine how many American dollars fit into one Kryptonian Ruble or Peso or Rupee or whatever Kryptonians use for currency. Superman does, however, (spoiler!) sustain a sizable rip in his suit when Lex Luthor stabs him with a Kryptonite crystal, and considering a sewing needle would be no match for the space-age fabric, he’d probably have to run home to Krypton to get it repaired. Then again, he does manage to shape his coif into that shiny do with the signature flirtatious curl at his temple, so he’s probably got an emergency tube of Dep on hand at all times. Cost: Year’s supply of Dep at $39.69, plus One Vacation Day for travel to Krypton.
Weapons: Did you not catch the part where he’s Superman? He doesn’t need weapons because he was born with invulnerability to everything but Kryptonite, the ability to fly, x-ray vision, heat vision, ice breath, super strength, ridiculously sensitive hearing, and the ability to disguise himself with only a terrible hairdo and some hipster glasses. Cost: $0
Disguise: This is likely where all of Clark Kent’s discretionary spending goes. In the comics, Superman had a pouch under his cape in which to hide his regular clothes, but Singer’s version doesn’t exactly explain that. Besides, ripping one’s clothes off while running has to have some sort of incidental loss. With that margin of error in mind, let’s assume he loses his outfit once every three or four quick changes. And Clark’s not fancy, so that’s $99 dollars for a London Fog Big and Tall overcoat, $240 for his Sears brown suit and shirt, $40 dollars for his leather loafers, and $14 for Urban Outfitters prescription-less “readers” black frame glasses. Cost: $353 (Chump change, considering he doesn’t pay for anything else.)
Damages: In most cases, Superman diminishes the damage from some near catastrophe by being, well, super. But on a few occasions, he makes a mess all on his own. His fiery return to earth destroys what I’ll estimate at about two acres of perfectly good corn-growing farmland. According to Bloomberg news, farmland is averaging at about $2,350 an acre, so if he’s the nice guy he swears he is, he’ll buy the damaged land off the owner’s hands — even if the owner is his mama. Then there’s the cost of at least a year of corn. According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, an acre of land yields about 183 bushels of corn per harvest and the University of Illinois places each bushel at approximately $7 a bushel. Cost of making it right: $5,981
Transportation: He. can. fly. He doesn’t do the subway and taxis are for suckers. (Sorry, Lois Lane. He’ll still help you hail one if you want.) Cost: $0
Risks: He’s pretty damn invulnerable. Of course, that pesky Kryptonite causes problems from time to time, and when Lex stabs him, Superman winds up in critical care at the hospital. A visit like this could run him up to $20,000, especially since he is most definitely without health insurance, considering modern medicine can’t do much for death by Kryptonite. Superman, however, escapes in the middle of the night, good as new, without the proper discharge papers. And when all is said and done, even if the hospital wanted to charge him for medical services after he just saved the whole city, where would they send the bill? And who’d be audacious enough to hand the Man of Steel a whopping hospital bill? That’s what I thought. Cost: $0 (I repeat, the bastard.)
Perks: Is the fact that he’s netting $23k and change not enough of a perk? He’s got it made.
Entertainment: He doesn’t really have much fun because he spends so much time staring starry-eyed at Lois and fighting crime around the world, but he does make time for a few beers with Jimmy Olsen when he finds out Lois is seriously dating James Marsden. And he even gets a little tipsy, and since he’s so strapping, I’d say he’d need at least six beers to get saucy (that’s about $5 dollars a beer, plus a $2 tip per drink because he’s so super). He also steals a little date with Lois Lane, but he’s such a baller that all he has to do is fly her around through the dark (romantic) night, which costs him — you guessed it — absolutely nothing. Total: $42
Miscellaneous: In case you missed the last hour of the movie, Lois Lane’s little boy is actually Superman’s son. So for good measure, let’s say good ol’ Superman pays Lois Lane secret child support. Based on his $30k salary in the state of Kansas, he’d owe Miss Lane about $318 a month. Cost for a year: $3816
Sustainability: Clark Kent could sustain this until the end of time. His life is a charmed one — minus that part where he’s got a handful of vengeful enemies and (sigh) deadlines. But I’d fight 10-foot-tall fire-breathing tree people all day everyday if it meant I could stop paying $1,000 dollars a month in rent, okay? (Just don’t quote me on that when the Tree People Apocalypse comes.)
Final Calculation: He’s up $19,771.31 at the end of the year. Maybe next time he takes Lois out, he could finally spring for a steak dinner and some champagne. Verdict: Can I be Superman?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
[Image: Warner Bros.]
The Hulk Spends What? The Price of Being a Superhero
Spider-Man Spends What? The Price of Being a Superhero
Batman Spends What? The Price of Being a Superhero
Emma Watson is one of our favorite young actresses around the office, and the Harry Potter star stopped by Letterman last night and revealed that there's still some major language difference between England and the United States.
BJ Novak described to Conan the difficulties of manning a pledge drive and the challenge of credit card information, and how no one older than 40 knew who he was.
Russell Crowe told Jay Leno on The Tonight Show about his musical theatre days and specifically, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and provided some nice video of his cross-dressed performance.
Daniel Radcliffe revealed to Jimmy Fallon that he got lost in Central Park, and how Harry Potter was really just a prequel to the movie version of Night Court.
Ex-Olympic Gold Medal winner Marion Jones stopped by The Daily Show to talk about her years of performance-enhancing drugs. And.... uh... it's a little... uh... awkward...
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cMarion Joneswww.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity
Stephen Colbert revealed how President Obama and Garfield both hate Veterans, and expects the Leader of the Free World to make up for his lack of respect by eating "Indian corn" on Thanksgiving on Plymouth Rock.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30cGarfield and President Obama Dishonor Veteranswww.colbertnation.comColbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive
Heidi Klum filled a very, very nice video with her husband Seal for one of his songs. In it, she’s naked. In it, he’s naked. In it, they’re being themselves, as husband and wife. On Leno last night, Heidi explained why Seal’s wearing a watch on his wrist even though the rest of him (and her) are totally naked…which I think is a pretty good question because it’s not like he has to arrive on time for a date with a Victoria’s Secret model.
Jimmy Fallon talked to Johnny Knoxville of Jackass 3D about how there was a screening of the movie on Monday at the Museum of Modern Art, here in Manhattan. So if you lived in Brooklyn and you were subjected to that crazy storm we had on Monday night that caused your dog to get knocked unconscious by those pieces of hail, it was because they were showing Jackass 3D at MoMA.
Then Jimmy played a very tasteful game of Operation with Knoxville and his friend Aaron, who donned a flesh colored thong for the event. First, Jimmy would try and extract a bone from the actual game…but if he missed and hit the edges, Knoxville would electrocute his friend.
Judah Friedlander wrote the book, “How To Beat Up Anybody,” so he went on Jimmy's show to tell us how we’ll be able to beat up anybody in the world, even if they’ve read the book too.
And Matt Damon told David Letterman how he got lost in a maze of corn with his children, which is curious considering his such severe spectacles. It’s also curious why he didn’t film it because it probably would have made a killer sequel to Children of the Corn.