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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Justin Timberlake ruled the MTV Video Music Awards in New York on Sunday (25Aug13) by picking up four honours and delivering the night's performance highlight. The pop superstar took home the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Video of the Year for Mirrors, which also claimed Best Editing honours, and his Suit & Tie promo earned the Best Direction prize.
He also wowed with a show-stopping performance featuring a medley of his solo hits and a brief 'N SYNC reunion.
Rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were also big winners - they scored Best Hip Hop Video and Best Cinematography trophies for their Can't Hold Us promo and also landed the night's Best Video with a Social Message award for their gay anthem Same Love, which they performed with Mary Lambert and special guest Jennifer Hudson.
Lady Gaga kicked off the ceremony at the Barclays Center in typical bizarre fashion, dressed as a futuristic Mother Superior. The Paparazzi singer began her performance of new single Applause wearing a weird white nun's habit but the get-up was quickly ripped off her by dancers to reveal a glittery black leotard with matching skull cap.
That outfit became a shimmering blue two-piece, topped by a peroxide white wig. The pop superstar also donned a canary yellow wig and face paint during the opening performance, and wrapped it up following a quick change, dashing out in a two-piece bikini and long blonde shaggy hairpiece.
Other performance highlights included Miley Cyrus, who performed We Can't Stop surrounded by dancing teddy bears, while wearing a fluffy grey bodice. She also sported a new hairstyle - tight cat-ear-like bunches on top and a short ponytail.
The former child star then proved she's all grown up by ripping off her top to reveal orange rubber bra and panties as she took part in a performance of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines. The hitmaker strutted out on stage wearing the thick-striped black and white suit.
During the pair's suggestive routine, Cyrus donned a large foam hand to feel Thicke up with and then bent over and wiggled her backside into the singer's crotch while smiling with her tongue hanging out.
After watching Cyrus dancing with Thicke, comedian Kevin Hart joked, "Miley better go and get a damn pregnancy test after doing all that grinding."
Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Drake also hit the Barclays Center stage, while Katy Perry closed the 2013 ceremony by performing her new song Roar from underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
The full list of 2013 MTV VMAs winners is:
Video of the Year - Mirrors by Justin Timberlake
Best Hip-Hop Video - Can't Hold Us by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
Best Male Video - Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
Best Female Video - I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift
Best Pop Video - Come & Get It by Selena Gomez
Artist to Watch - Austin Mahone
Best Collaboration - Just Give Me a Reason by Pink featuring Nate Ruess
Best Video with a Social Message - Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert
Best Rock Video - Up in the Air by 30 Seconds to Mars
Best Art Direction - Q.U.E.E.N by Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu
Best Choreography - Treasure by Bruno Mars
Best Cinematography - Can't Hold Us bu Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
Best Direction - Suit & Tie by Justin Timberlake featuring Jay Z
Best Editing - Mirrors by Justin Timberlake
Best Visual Effects - Safe & Sound by Capital Cities
Best Song of the Summer - Best Song Ever by One Direction
In honor of the upcoming series premiere of the Sex and the City prequel The Carrie Diaries next week, The CW released some awesome 8-bit art for their other, modern-day set shows on Twitter. From Supernatural's Sam and Dean Winchester and angel Castiel, to Hart of Dixie's main love triangle Zoe, Wade, and George, to Arrow's Oliver Queen and Laurel Lance, to 9O21O's Naomi, Teddy, and Dixon, we are loving the nostalgic treatment of our favorite shows.
This was certainly a creative way to pump us up for The Carrie Diaries, but we've got some burning questions for you, CW. What is Dean holding up off screen? And where are the 8-bit photos of The Vampire Diaries, Beauty and the Beast, and Nikita?
Go back in time to the 80s when The Carrie Diaries premieres on Monday at 8 ET/PT on The CW.
[Photo Credit: CW]
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Once Upon a Time: Jorge Garcia, known to fans as bad luck-addled Lost favorite Hugo "Hurley" Reyes, will join fellow island alum Emilie de Ravin on ABC's fairy tale drama in its second season. Although details are mum, Garcia will play a character known as 'The Giant,' which suggests a possible Jack and the Beanstalk relation in the show's future. [EW]
Hart of Dixie: The Newsroom supporting player Kelen Coleman, who recently scored a gig on the TV Land pilot Brothers-in-Law, will join The CW's Rachel Bilson-led doctoral drama in a recurring role as Presley, "a pretty but tomboyish beer distributor who, while at the Rammer Jammer, catches the eye of the newly single George" (Scott Porter). [TVLine]
Nashville: Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According To Jim) is set for a multi-episode arc on ABC's new musical endeavor this fall. She'll play Peggy, a former lover of Connie Britton's character's husband Teddy (Eric Close). Will she stir up trouble, or come bearing pleasantries? We assume the former. [Deadline]
666 Park Avenue: ABC's supernatural semi-thriller will get political when Tessa Thompson joins the cast as a recurring media consultant who tempts Henry (Dave Annable) and threatens Jane (Rachael Taylor). [Deadline]
Royal Pains: Another Lawson has been discovered! Hank (Mark Feuerstein) will treat his overweight cousin Owen when Charley Koontz (Community) shows up on USA's Hamptons dramedy. Koontz is set for a two-episode arc. [Deadline]
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[Photo Credit: WENN]
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