Week In Review: A comedic play, Spider-man Homecoming and podcasting

How’s your weekend everyone? Well it’s been quite a whirlwind week for me, but a fun one nonetheless. I didn’t get an extra day off for Fourth of July, but still a four-day work week is better than five 🙂

I did manage to see a fun play on Friday night, a French farce called Don’t Dress For Dinner. It’s actually the opening night of the theatre company run by my lead actor Peter Hansen, in which he also starred in with five other actors.


I also got to see one of its rehearsals last week which was really fun to see. I had never been to a play rehearsal before and the fact that it’s a comedy is even more delightful to watch. Oh as if I hadn’t been busy enough w/ my film AND Kickstarter campaign, I also helped redesign his theatre website. (yep I need a vacation real bad!)

Saturday was a hot day, so after a scorching afternoon going to Art Crank in NE Minneapolis, we cooled off watching the new Spidey flick.

I have to admit I wasn’t all that enthused to see this so if it wasn’t for my hubby’s insistence, I probably would’ve waited for its VOD release. Fortunately it ends up being a pretty decent flick which is NOT an origin story, thank goodness!

It’s fun to see Peter Parker being a proper teenager and Tom Holland is perfectly believable in the role. Some of the banters between him and his BFF Ned (Jacob Batalon) seems too cutesy with all the ‘awesome’ which at times doesn’t ring true. But as the film progressed it didn’t bother me and they do have some fun memorable moments. Our young’un hero is far more eager to be a hero than in past interpretations but I’m glad actually gets to do something heroic and does it on his own account.

I hadn’t paid much attention to this film so I was pleasantly surprised to see Michael Keaton as the villain. He’s definitely one of the best villains in the plethora of Spidey movies I’ve seen over the years. My fave is still Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) from Sam Raimi’s Spider-man 2 and Keaton’s Adrian Toomes is right up there with him. I like villains who are more of a tragic character, not an all-out monster hellbent on destroying the world. I enjoyed watching Keaton as a cross between Batman and Birdman when he’s wearing the birdlike costume, but his character actually has some depth. There’s also a pretty bizarre father-daughter storyline here that I did not see coming.

The movie starts out pretty light, Peter’s fanboy-ing over Tony Stark also gets overdone, but the movie actually grows darker with a genuine sense of dread. I am however quite puzzled by the hype over Zendaya in this movie. Not because her acting wasn’t good but her character barely registers here to even make any impact. Yes I appreciate that she’s not just another love interest but I wish the slew of writers actually gave her something to do. The movie does hint that she perhaps will have a larger role in the inevitable sequels.

Despite me feeling blasé about this reboot, this movie ends up being pretty enjoyable. There are a couple of thrilling action sequences though the finale is still way too loud & bombastic. Casting-wise, Holland fits the role nicely and he seems to have fun doing it. There are fun moments of Peter poking fun at members of the Avengers which is in keeping with him being a 15-year-old kid. It was pretty fun seeing Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and his chauffeur/personal assistant ‘Happy’ (Jon Favreau) as part of the story too. I’m not exactly clamoring to see more of Spidey movies though, but I suppose if they gotta make ’em at least they don’t suck.


The weekend is topped off w/ my first time doing a podcast! It was fun being a guest for an episode of The Film Pasture, hosted by my friend Vern from Vern’s Video Vortex with film blogger Kristen Lopez. Vern was kind enough to invite me to discuss our picks of Top 5 Female Filmmakers and let me promote my short film Hearts Want which I can proudly say has a strong woman of color in the lead and done by a mostly-female crew.

I will post the podcast here once it’s up. As you know I’m a big supporter of women filmmakers and having just written/produced my first film, naturally I have even more respect for those who’ve made it in the male-dominated film industry.


Well, did you see anything good this weekend? If you’ve seen the newest Spider-man movie, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: The Amazing Spiderman

Is this film necessary? It’s an inescapable question that plagues this reboot from the start, as it’s only a decade ago the first Spider-man film came to the big screen. When the reboot was announced a couple of years ago, the last film of the Sam Raimi Spidey trilogy was only three years old! Yet I was immediately sold on this movie at Comic-con’s SONY panel, almost exactly a year ago today, when Andrew Garfield suddenly showed up wearing a cheap Spiderman costume, professing his love to his beloved character mere inches away from where my hubby and I were sitting [you can see me screaming behind me in some of the videos, ehm]

In any case, though the question I posted above is a valid one, I feel that once I enter the theater to see THIS particular film, I should judge it on its own merit.

So on that note, did Marc Webb and his team of writers delivered?

The relentless marketing promised us the *untold story* of our web slinger, so naturally it started with Peter Parker as a young boy, playing hide and seek with his scientist dad. But the mood quickly turns from playful to suspense as young Peter discovers his father’s study has been broken into. Richard Parker quickly gathers his documents and whisk his son away to Aunt May and Uncle Ben’s residence to leave him at their care.

Fast forward over a decade later, his parents have long been reported dead in a plane crash, Peter is now in high school and being a smart, geeky kid, naturally he’s an outcast whose only friend is his skateboard. The journey from regular guy to superhero treads familiar grounds. Peter discovers dad’s mysterious papers which leads him to Oscorp to find his dad’s colleague, the one-armed Dr. Curt Connors. Disguised as one of the high school interns [which happens to be where Gwen works at], he sneaks into a lab where a ‘biocable’ is constructed from genetically modified spiders. Of course one of them ends up biting him, and the rest is history. That life-changing moment inevitably brings all kinds of complications to the boy. As if maneuvering through his first romance isn’t tricky enough, an incident at school has the domino effect that cost the lives of his beloved uncle.

The GOOD

The casting of Garfield and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy is a clear winner right from the start. Despite being about 10 years older than the character, the 28-year-old Garfield is effortlessly believable, he imbues the role with a certain teenage angst and an appropriate dose of recklessness. Unlike the previous installments where Peter was shown as being a complete loser, in this one he’s far less pitiable. In fact, when the school bully Flash was tormenting another boy, Peter actually stands up to him, which then catches the eye of the beautiful Gwen Stacy. I also like the fact that this film particularly shows him as a science genius. Akin to Tony Stark, there’s a bunch of scenes of him tinkering with his dad’s formula and crafting a mechanical web shooter instead of an organic one.

There’s quite a lot of amusing scenes as Peter’s spider-like ability manifests itself almost immediately. Garfield’s wide-eyed mannerism and comic timing is put to good use here, particularly on the subway ride home and the morning after scene where he practically destroys his bathroom in a matter of seconds! His new-found powers discombobulate as well as delight Peter, and we see a great deal of scenes of Peter gleefully testing his gravity-defying abilities before he becomes the titular hero. As Spidey, Garfield also brings more of that sarcastic playfulness that’s fun to watch.

Thanks to their palpable chemistry and Marc Webb’s gift for creating an authentic relationship drama (as he did in 500 Days of Summer), the romance between Peter and Gwen feels genuinely affecting and real, it even makes you forget for a bit that you’re watching a Summer superhero blockbuster. Emma also has this likable presence and warmth about her, plus she is no damsel in distress, so it’s nice to see far less shrieking women that’s so prevalent in Raimi’s versions.

Rhys Ifans brings a surprising credibility in the role of the villain, I’ve only seen him in comedic roles like his scene-stealing role in Notting Hill but he’s quite a versatile actor. I always like a story where the villain has a close ties with the hero, and has a personal motivation that drives him instead of just an arbitrary desire for creating chaos. Connors is more of a tragic character because he’s naturally a good guy, and his humanistic identity doesn’t become lost beneath the freaky Lizard shape once he’s transformed.

What’s nice about this movie is the compelling humanity of our superhero, it’s as much a movie about Peter Parker the human as it is about the hero in spandex. Yet it also offers the cool visuals that we’ve come to expect from a superhero movie. The technical wizardry of Spidey’s web-slinging stunts is marvelously-crafted, and there’s plenty of beautiful aerial shots of the Big Apple at night that I think makes the 3D price worthwhile. The ‘cranes’ scene packs an emotional punch in the bombastic climactic battle between Spidey and the Lizard. That sense of ‘community’ evokes memories of the awesome train scene in Spider-man 2.

The Not-So-Good

Now, what drags this movie down to me is the pacing. At 2 hours and 16 minutes, the film does feel quite tedious at times, especially in the first half as the scenes of Peter discovering what he’s capable of feels repetitive. The editing could’ve been a whole lot tighter, especially considering that supposed “untold story” of what really happened to Peter’s parents is not being explored that well. The famous line “with great powers comes great responsibility” is also missing from the film, and the writers tries to replace it with something similar but it just doesn’t have as big of an impact.

I think that’s my general sentiment about the supporting characters, they’re just not memorable. Aside from the two main leads, everyone else’s performances are just serviceable to me with nothing worth writing home about. For one, the relationship between Peter and his aunt/uncle (Martin Sheen and Sally Field) aren’t as touching, they’re good mind you, but I just don’t feel a real connection between them and Peter. Then there’s the stereotypical, cheesy school jock Flash, whose transformation from bully to buddy is entirely unconvincing. Even Dennis Leary as Gwen’s dad feels one-dimensional even though there are some memorable scenes between him and Peter.

Another major disappointment is the score by James Horner. I’m actually surprised he’s the composer as the music is so forgettable, it adds nothing to the experience at all.

Final Thoughts:

Overall it’s an entertaining reboot and despite it being inherently predictable, Webb manages to ingest something fresh to the table, starting with the main cast. However, the main beef I have with the movie lies in the significant gap between what’s promised n what’s being delivered. What “untold story??” The only thing that was not told in the Raimi’s versions is that bit about his father and his “decay rate algorithm” that Dr. Connors has been searching for. But apart from that, it’s the same old story just told slightly differently.

Given that there are quite a lot of missing scenes from the trailers [whatever happens to Rajit Ratha who keeps pressuring Connor to hurry up on human trials of his experiment??], perhaps it’s a last minute decision on the studio’s part to save that “untold story’ for the sequels. Fortunately for SONY, Webb has spun [pardon the pun] something that has enough going for it to make me want to stick around and find out what happens next.

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So what do you think of this movie, folks? What do you like/dislike about it?

Scene Spotlight: Spiderman’s Upside Down Kiss

Many of you on Twitter probably have seen the first official photo of Andrew Garfield as Spiderman. In fact, fanboys/girls everywhere were all bursting with geek-gasm yesterday with the release of two major superheroes in their uniform (the other one was Captain America). At first I wasn’t too enthused about the upcoming Spiderman reboot, but since Andrew Garfield’s been cast, my interest just went up tenfold! And you know what, I’m liking what I’m seeing so far. It’s dark and brooding, certainly nowhere near as blissfully cheery as the first official photo of Tobey Maguire in the web suit (you can see both images in this Cinematical article).

The hype meter will soon be off the chart for this Spidey reboot, as practically every week we’ll be hearing of some kind of ‘first look’ from the movie. I’ll try not to get too caught up in all that but today, I thought I’d highlight one of my favorite scenes from the original franchise. For me, one of the most beguiling thing about Peter Parker’s story is his humble upbringing and the fact that he’s just a regular bloke, not all beefcake heroic looking like most of his Marvel superhero. And there’s the earnest, heart-tugging love story between the geeky high-schooler and the most popular girl in school, Mary Jane. In the reboot, the love interest will be Gwen Stacey instead of MJ (and some paparazzi shots have emerged on the set of Garfield and Emma Stone).

Now, I wonder how the romance part will pan out in the new one, as I think Garfield and Stone have big shoes to fill. Maguire and Kirsten Dunst have great chemistry in the Sam Raimi flicks, especially in this unforgettable upside-down kiss in the rain after the hero saved the day. Rain always makes things extra romantic, and apparently the heat of the moment is so strong Mary Jane is not at all shivering. 😉 This scene is not only memorable, it’s a classic! [Sorry I couldn’t find a hi-res clip without the last part at the end of the movie]

Whoof! Now that’s some scorching hot kiss, don’t cha think? Though from various interviews, Maguire often said how miserable the shoot was as his sinuses kept filling up with water during the kissing scene. So the fact that it appears sexy on screen is quite a feat! I’m really curious what director Marc Webb will bring to the table. But given how delightfully quirky his first film is (500 Days of Summer), I’m certainly hopeful.

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Well folks, are you at all looking forward to this Spiderman reboot? Thoughts about Andy Garfield in the suit? Let’s hear it.

Casting & Misc. News: Superhero Edition

With the way Hollywood’s been at it these days, every news might as well be a Superhero edition. Here’s what’s been circulating so far, and let’s start with the biggest shocker of the bunch (and because I’ve always had a soft spot for the Man of Steel for as long as I can remember):

  • Christopher Nolan to ‘mentor’ the new Superman movie
    The famed Superman illustration by Alex Ross

    Most of you’ve probably heard and mulled over this one. As a Superman fan, I kind of have mixed feelings about this. The first time I heard it though, I took it as good news, as I adore Nolan and that everything he touches seems to be gold (clearly I have super high hopes for Inception). To those just tuning in, it’s been widely reported that the British director of the Batman franchise has been tapped by Warner Bros. to ‘save’ the Superman franchise, so more like an ‘advisor’ instead of actually directing the movie. Superman Returns has been regarded as a ‘flop’ (despite the $391 million worldwide gross) and critical dud by critics and moviegoers alike. Perhaps because of it that Bryan Singer’s moved back to the X-Men franchise, leaving the DC hero franchise in serious limbo.

    Anyway, now that I think about it, I’m not so sure anymore if bringing Nolan to reboot (ugh, I’m so tired of hearing that word!) Superman is such a grand idea. I was going to post my thoughts but this article kind of summed up my reservations about it, especially his first point that Supes isn’t a ‘dark’ hero like Batman is. I mean, in all seriousness, he wears his underwear on the outside for crying out loud. And he represents what’s good in society with his “truth, justice, and the American way” motto, and Clark Kent is a bumbling nerd (which is what I love about him), he’s the polar opposite of the sullen, conflicted but suave Bruce Wayne.

    Brandon Routh as Superman

    In any case, even long before the project secures an actual director, the rumor mill is spreading faster than a speeding bullet in regard to this burning question: Who should play the Kryptonian hero? Superman Returns‘ Brandon Routh’s contract has expired a while ago (though that didn’t stop him from making the most of his role in his guest stint in NBC’s CHUCK), and since WB is considering going to a whole new direction, I don’t think there’s any chance Routh will be back. Before I go on, let me just say that I actually think Routh is pretty good as Supes (particularly as Clark), but given that the movie is supposed to be a continuation of the first two of  Christopher Reeve’s version, he was simply told to ‘channel’ the late actor’s performance (a herculean task for any actor). Let bygones be bygones I guess. Some sites have started to post on Superman casting (such as  this one from The Geek Files blog and this one with some rather unconventional choices… I mean Joseph Gordon-Levitt?? Spidey maybe but Supes??). I must say I’m leaning towards The TudorsHenry Cavill, who’s almost cast as Supes (he even wore the cape according to MTV movie news) that ended up going to Routh. As I said in a previous post, Cavill also lost out to Daniel Craig as Bond. Check out this fan-made Photoshop work of Cavill in the blue suit. Well, he certainly looks the part, and the fact that he was considered by Singer might give him an edge. Who knows.
    ….

  • Batman 3 in motionhmmm, really?
    There’s probably no other film of any kind as buzz-worthy as Batman 3. Even as soon as The Dark Knight is released, the rumor mill hasn’t let off! Well, the latest ‘news’ is that Nolan will still to be at the helm as soon as he wraps Inception. According to /Film, his brother Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer (who co-wrote Batman Begins & The Dark Knight) are currently working on the draft of the untitled Batman flick based on Chris Nolan’s story idea. I don’t particularly care who the villain(s) are going to be, just so long as Nolan and the original cast are in, that’s good enough for me. 

  • James Cameron to assist Marc Webb in bringing Spiderman to 3D
    I mentioned in my last news post that (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb has been tapped to reboot the Spiderman franchise. Well, looks like the relatively newbie director (500 Days was Webb’s debut) gets a mighty collaborator in bringing the web-ed superhero (pun intended) into the third dimension. It’s no secret that Cameron is a huge fan of the franchise, even as far back as early 90s, he even did a storyboard of it. But I guess now he’s happy enough to live his Spidey directorial dream vicariously through somebody else. Reportedly, Cameron is a big fan of Webb’s work, ““Jim loved (500) Days of Summer,” according to [Avatar producer] Jon Landau. “It’s not something that you would think is necessarily in his wheelhouse, but he really enjoyed that.”(Collider).
  • Sam Worthington is the next Bond? Say it ain’t so!
    Not another week go by without rumor of Sam Worthington in some new project. Ok, I like the guy and he’s probably one of the most promising young actors working today but seriously, must he be involved in e-v-e-r-y single project out there?! The last few months alone, he’s been rumored to be get this: Captain America, Dracula, Flash Gordon, and now… James Bond? Well, according to this article, the Aussie actor might step into Daniel Craig’s shoes as he’s delayed shooting the latest Bond film to do other projects (he’s currently filming Dream House in Toronto with Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts). Ah, even without a Bond movie he’s still surrounded by beautiful women. Sorry I digress.
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    I’m not too keen on this idea. I think even though Quantum of Solace is kind of a mess, I still think Craig makes for a great Bond and it’s just silly to replace him after just two outings. Especially with Sam Mendes directing, it definitely has a lot of potential. As much as I like Worthington – and he may be all right in the role – I really hope this is just a pesky rumor and that the Bond producers have the good sense to think this through.

So what do you think about any of these news, folks? I’m particularly curious what you think about the whole Superman reboot with Nolan.