Posts Tagged ‘Spider-Man’

DC vs. Marvel at the movies

August 5, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 5, 2017

Author’s note: A few hours after I published this post, I added a note to my ersatz table indicating that two of the listings included ticket sales from the same Marvel movie. MEM

East Coast vs. West Coast, New York vs. Boston, Apple vs. Microsoft, DC vs. Marvel: Each one of these rivalries is famous and hard-fought. But over the past decade or so, perhaps none of these have been so one-sided as that between the two titans of comic books.

Although DC’s Superman and Batman are inarguably the best-known superheroes of all time, Marvel’s superhero teams — the X-Men, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and, in recent years, the Guardians of the Galaxy — are by far more popular. Moreover, Marvel comics are generally thought to have more artistic merit and to be more socially relevant than DC products.

To add insult to injury, Marvel has been kicking DC’s heinie on the film front for a decade or more. This is despite the fact that DC’s flagship characters were phenomenally successful at the box office and helped establish the comic-book movie as a genre on the strength of productions such as Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) and its 2008 and 2012 sequels.

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The overstuffed, dreadful ‘Spider-Man 3’ botched everything but the action

February 24, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 24, 2016

Nearly two years ago, I came across a three-for-one DVD containing the trilogy of Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi in the first decade of the 21st century. After writing about the first film, from 2002, and starting and tagging but not otherwise working on a post about the second film, released in 2004, I didn’t start watching 2007’s Spider-Man 3 until one night in early February.

I didn’t finish watching it until a few days ago.

Raimi’s first Spider-Man was a decent enough flick, but hardly great. His follow-up is, in my opinion, one of the greatest superhero movies (although bear in mind that I’ve only seen one X-Men movie, and none of the Avengers films). The third Spider-Man movie, however, is widely regarded as a mess, despite the fact that it was the top-grossing domestic movie of the year, with a haul of more than $336 million.

(Incidentally, the second- through 12th-highest-grossing features of 2007, in descending order, were Shrek the ThirdTransformersPirates of the Caribbean: At World’s EndHarry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixI Am LegendThe Bourne UltimatumNational Treasure: Book of SecretsAlvin and the Chipmunks300Ratatouille and The Simpsons Movie.)

I had long suspected that Spider-Man 3’s bad reputation was overblown. But my friends, I am compelled to report that this movie is indeed quite dire.

The main problem here is that the film doesn’t have quite enough material for two movies, but it has more than enough for a single feature. (Bear in mind that Spider-Man 3 weighed in at two hours and 19 minutes when it was released; the director’s cut has another 17 minutes of material.) At least one of the screenwriters recognized this problem, but the movie makers ended up sticking with one feature because they couldn’t find a worthwhile cliffhanger to lead into a further sequel.

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Like father, like son? Identity is inextricably tied to parentage in Nick Harkaway’s ‘Angelmaker’

December 18, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 18, 2014

Absent parents loom large in the fictional realm. A key component of the original Star Wars trilogy is Luke Skywalker’s gradual discovery of the particulars of his parentage (especially the villainy of his father, the genocidal Darth Vader) and Luke’s struggle to develop his supernatural powers without being consumed by his own dark, angry impulses. The rebellious nature of the alternative timeline’s James Tiberius Kirk is shaped in large part by the absence of his father, George, whom director J.J. Abrams killed off in the opening sequence of the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Likewise, the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man makes the research and relationships of Richard Parker, father of the orphaned web-slinging Peter Parker, a key plot point in both of the series’s first two outings.

I’d wager that matters of parentage are even more prominent in British fiction. After all, the United Kingdom has been ruled for centuries by a hereditary monarchy, with power passing (at least in theory) from one generation of royalty to the next.

A major storyline in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy involves Aragorn assuming the position of king of Gondor that, according to genetics and custom, is rightfully his. My recollection of the books is hazy, but in Peter Jackson’s wonderful movie adaptation, when the audience initially encounters this character, he goes by the name of Strider and appears to be a well-trained woodsman accustomed to operating on his own — hardly the résumé of the standard fantasy prince.

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July 22, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 18, 2014

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With a great character comes…alas, just a decent superhero movie: Revisiting 2002’s ‘Spider-Man’

July 14, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 14, 2014

In 2002, Columbia Pictures released a movie titled, simply, Spider-Man. It was a pretty fun outing starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst as, respectively, the eponymous hero ( Peter Parker) and his longtime next-door neighbor and not-so-secret crush, Mary Jane Watson.

What few people could have foreseen was that Spider-Man would unleash a cinematic infestation of, well, Spider-Man movies. The wall-crawler’s first big-budget cinematic outing was followed in 2004 by Spider-Man 2 and in 2007 by Spider-Man 3, all of which starred Maguire and Dunst and were directed by Sam Raimi.

The first two movies in the series, especially the 2004 release, received a decent critical reception. The third feature, which I’ve never seen, is widely considered to be a sprawling mess.

Still, it was a bit of a surprise when, in 2012 — not a decade after the debut of the first Spider-Man — Columbia released a reboot of the series. The Amazing Spider-Man starred Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and it was fun, even though there hadn’t seem to be an urgent need for it. Earlier this year, we got The Amazing Spider-Man 2which was also enjoyable, if a bit overstuffed. Both films evidently did well at the box office, and I gather that another sequel is on its way.

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‘To sleep, perchance to dream’ — ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ remakes history with a not entirely entrancing extended catnap

June 28, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 28, 2014

In the year 2023, the new movie X-Men: Days of Future Past informs us, virtually everything is dimly lit, computer-animated or both. More to the point, plot-wise, giant shape-shifting robots are waging a deadly war against mutated humans and anyone sympathetic to them. The remnants of the the X-Men, a group of superpowered mutants, fight a losing battle over and over: Time and again, the robotic Sentinels discover and breach their hideout, slaughtering the mutants one by one, until they reach the inner sanctum and find that…nothing has happened.

The extermination of the heroic X-Men is repeatedly undone because of the duo of napper extraordinaire Bishop (Omar Sy) and psychic Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page). She’s able to project Bishop’s consciousness into the mind of his younger body, some hours or days in the past, which allows him to warn his colleagues of the impending danger and go elsewhere ahead of the Sentinels’ arrival. History changes at the very moment Bishop wakens, meaning that each deadly assault is completely lost to the universe but for Bishop’s memory of it.

Now Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), the leader of the X-Men, has conceived a daring plan to end the war before it begins, to use the movie’s haughty phrase. Pryde will send Logan, code-name Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), into his younger body in 1973. His mission: To round up allies who will prevent the mutant Raven (Jennifer Lawrence, frequently wearing a blue bodysuit and heavy makeup) from committing the murder that triggered the destructive Sentinel-mutant war.

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Spider-Man in love (and war): ‘Amazing 2’ offers a fun romp, despite being stuffed to the gills with plot points

May 19, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 19, 2014

Your favorite urban web-slinger is back, and yes, the tales are true: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is indeed an entertaining romp.

This time, young Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spidey (Andrew Garfield), finds himself trying to balance his love for the brilliant young Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) with the promise he made to her late father (Denis Leary, in an uncredited cameo) that he would avoid her so that she would never be targeted by his enemies. The main bad guy, played by Jamie Foxx, is Electro, who starts off as a lowly, nerdy, Spider-Man-loving Oscorp engineer; an unfortunate encounter with bioengineered electric eels prompts Max Dillon’s transformation into a glowing blue special effect with godlike powers.

Complicating matters is 20-year-old Harry Osborn’s ascension to the helm of Oscorp following the death of his father, Norman (the excellent Chris Cooper, also uncredited). Both Osborns suffer from a rare, fatal degenerative disease, and Harry (Cole DeHaan) becomes convinced that the regenerative properties of Spider-Man’s blood could save him from a horrific fate.

An increasingly desperate Harry recruits Parker, his boyhood friend, to locate the superhero and ask him for help. (Parker, natch, is the rare photographer to have snapped clear pictures of the Big Apple’s red-and-blue-costumed superhero.) When Spider-Man balks at sharing his plasma, fearful of the potential harm a transfusion might do Harry, Electro and the future Green Goblin form a deadly alliance. The duo proceeds to plunge New York City into a chaotic and potentially deadly blackout.

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