Review: 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' gets so much right but still has first film's flaws
Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' gets so much right but still has first film's flaws

HitFix
B-
Readers
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There is no other franchise that confounds me more at this point

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have chemistry that seems almost absurd. Marc Webb has gotten better at staging comic-book action and seems to have a real feel for why Spider-Man is a great and enduring character. From scene to scene, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is the most Spider-Man movie that Spider-Man has ever been in.

So why doesn't it feel like a movie?

In some ways, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is the perfect modern franchise film. I'm sure that any executive in town who sees it is going to walk away raving, and it won't matter if they like it or not. It is an exercise in franchise management, and it hits every single entry on the checklist perfectly. By the end of this film, they've done a very good job of setting up the next three or four films in the series, but at the expense of this film telling any sort of cohesive story.

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Theater actor Ray Fisher signs to play DC's Cyborg in 'Man Of Steel' sequel
Credit: DC Comics

Theater actor Ray Fisher signs to play DC's Cyborg in 'Man Of Steel' sequel

This movie gets more crowded every day

Zack Snyder is already hard at work on the "Man Of Steel" sequel that will also feature the introductions of a number of other heroes from the DC Universe, and word comes today that the character Cyborg will now play a part in the film.

Ray Fisher's name has been in play for the last month or so as one of the many names being considered for a key role in "Star Wars: Episode VII," and while I'd never accuse Warner Bros. of intentionally hiring him just so Disney and Lucasfilm can't, it would seem that casting him as Cyborg would make it hard for him to also show up a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

So far, Fisher's got nothing we can point to on film as a calling card, but he's well-known as a theater performer, with his performance as Muhammad Ali in "Fetch Clay, Make Man" winning him a good deal of acclaim. It's always interesting to me when someone goes from being essentially unknown to suddenly being a hot commodity, before they've even had a film released. In this case, it seems like whoever represents FIsher has been getting him into rooms and that he's been impressing the people he's met.

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'Wolf Creek 2' is less brutal than the original and plays its killer more broad

'Wolf Creek 2' is less brutal than the original and plays its killer more broad

HitFix
B-
Readers
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It's still a dark, grim piece of work, though

It is incredibly unusual for a sequel to take eight years, and it's even more uncommon for a sequel made after that kind of delay to actually be made by the creative team behind the original. Normally, if it had taken this long to get a sequel made, it would most likely be a whole new group of people working with a property, but here, we've got writer/director Greg Mclean back in the driver's seat, working with co-writer Aaron Sterns (who has worked with Mclean in other capacities on earlier films) and with John Jarratt, who once again plays outback serial killer Mick Taylor.

I hadn't seen the original in so long that I had to go back and find my original review to try and remind myself what my issues with it were. I knew I liked the original, but that something had made me hesitant to give it a whole-hearted recommendation. It's a brutal movie, with some truly horrible violence, but I admired the way Mclean handled it. He played rough, but for good reason, and the best moments in the film were genuinely difficult to watch.

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<p>Scarlett Johansson plays the title role in Luc Besson&#39;s upcoming film &#39;Lucy&#39;</p>

Scarlett Johansson plays the title role in Luc Besson's upcoming film 'Lucy'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Luc Besson on casting Scarlett Johansson as 'Lucy' and his philosophy of action

Plus guess who's going back to large-scale science-fiction

My favorite moment during the Saturday afternoon panel I moderated for Universal's upcoming movie "Lucy" was when an audience member asked director Luc Besson if he'd be interested in directing a Marvel Studios movie about "Black Widow" starring Scarlett Johansson.

"I am afraid of spiders," he answered, and then just looked at me, ready to move on to the next question.

If you've seen the first trailer for the movie, you get the general idea. Besson says he started noodling with the idea a decade ago, the first time he heard someone mention that "we only use 10% of our brains" idea. "I know it is wrong," he said, "but I liked the idea and I just wanted to start there. What happens if we take a character from that 10% to 100%?"

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<p>I hope they bring back a whole bunch of CGArnold for &#39;Terminator Genesis&#39;</p>

I hope they bring back a whole bunch of CGArnold for 'Terminator Genesis'

Credit: Warner Bros

Second episode of 'Ask Drew' digs into 'Terminator Genesis' rumors and more

Plus tips on writing and a new round of 'Movie God'

This week's "Ask Drew" covered some ground, which is exactly how we want to do it. You guys hit the video team with a ton of questions, and every single one got read by someone.

I was worried that after the first episode, this was going to turn into some sort of oddball game of "Truth Or Dare" each time. I should have trusted the awesome video team here, though. They selected the questions, and I saw them for the first time as we began recording the episode.

You gave us some great valuable feedback last time, and we've made some small adjustments to the format and the staging this time. No more sealed envelopes. We let things run a little longer.

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<p>There&#39;s little doubt Kirk and Spock will be back, but with who as a director?</p>

There's little doubt Kirk and Spock will be back, but with who as a director?

Credit: Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot

'Star Trek' and 'Spider-Man' in question as Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman split

And are Universal's monsters lurching back to life as well?

Here's the thing: whatever the next "Star Trek" film is, it needs to be special since it will be released (most likely) during the 50th anniversary of the original series first making its television premiere.

I'm not a Trekkie who believes that the series has to be done one particular way or it's wrong, but I think it's an important overall property for the studio, and I would like to see it treated with a certain degree of respect. I am an unabashed fan of the 2009 film, and the more I've seen it, the more convinced I am that it's pretty close to a perfect way to kick off a brand-new version of a very familiar property. They nod to the original series in a nice way, they reinvent familiar characters, and they made something that had a new flavor that was all its own.

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<p>Amy Acker finally brings Coulson&#39;s cellist to life in a new episode of &#39;Marvel&#39;s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.&#39;</p>

Amy Acker finally brings Coulson's cellist to life in a new episode of 'Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

Credit: ABC/Marvel Studios

Everyone's got something to hide as the lies fly on this week's 'Agents Of SHIELD'

A character-oriented week shows off the best of the series

This week's episode opened strong with a sequence that established Marcus Daniels. I like scenes that are staged primarily to introduce someone's superpowers, and I thought this one was pretty simple and effective. Daniels is sort of a generic off-the-shelf bad guy who can absorb energy, and his only real purpose in the episode is to give Coulson and his team a reason to reconnect with the Cellist who was mentioned in "Iron Man 2" and "The Avengers."

This is also the first time since we've learned that Agent Ward is such a piece of garbage that we've seen him spend an entire episode interacting with his team. Honestly, the reveal has made him more interesting than he's been the entire time the show's been on the air. One of you in our comments section made the comparison to David Boreanaz once he got to play Angelus on "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," and it's spot on in this case. Being garbage suits him, and it becomes fun to watch him play his team when he's been such a drag so far.

We see at the start of the episode that Coulson knows what's going on but only through Ward's account. They know, for example, that the entire population of The Fridge have been released, and Coulson wants to go after them. As Agent Koenig, Patton Oswalt's having a ball so far. He's perfect as this kind of cheerily bureaucratic agent who is in charge of all the secrets, and he's got every right to treat the entire team with suspicion at this point.

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<p>I hope the skeleton gets its own spin-off movie</p>

I hope the skeleton gets its own spin-off movie

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Disney's chairman gives new 'Star Wars' updates but still says nothing

Are they ever going to start the hype train rolling?

There's no real urgency to running the news-ish information revealed by Alan Horn during his appearance at the Bloomberg and Tribeca Film Festival Business Of Entertainment Breakfast (or the BTFFBOEB, as the kids call it), because it's basically all information that's already been released or that can be inferred.

He confirmed that the recent shoot in Abu Dhabi was a second-unit for "Star Wars: Episode VII," which JJ Abrams is directing. Horn said that casting is almost complete, but it's obvious that he's learning that anything he says about "Star Wars" at all is going to become headline news around the world. Even if he says nothing, that becomes a story. "If I say 'there are no skateboards in Star Wars,' that gets headlines."

Whenever they do decide to make their full casting announcement, it's going to be a nuclear-scale event on film blogs everywhere. I'm curious to see if they go into any character detail at all at that point. Whatever they announce will be parsed completely, picked apart and micro-analyzed for hints about where they're heading.

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<p>Guess who&#39;s got two thumbs and may be working with Danny Boyle again</p>

Guess who's got two thumbs and may be working with Danny Boyle again

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Danny Boyle may direct Leonardo DiCaprio as Steve Jobs

It would be the first time they've worked together since 'The Beach'

Guess who's got two thumbs and may be playing Steve Jobs.

One of the advantages that Danny Boyle will have if he does indeed sign on to direct the Steve Job biopic that Sony is preparing to make is that he can look at "Jobs," the film released last year, and make sure not to repeat any of that movie's creepy tone-deaf mistakes.

It helps, of course, that Aaron Sorkin is writing the film. In the genuinely weird Ashton Kutcher movie, there are no less than two scenes that treat product reveals as major triumphs of the human spirit. If Sorkin was able to expertly chart the way the various relationship dynamics in "The Social Network" shifted and evolved, then I'm confident he'll be able to turn Jobs, Wozniak, and the other strong personalities in the film into equally memorable and authentic characters. Water Isaacson's book walked a tricky line between the typical authorized mythmaking that happens with autobiographies or officially sanctioned biographies and the tell-all end of the business. It's a sympathetic but not saintly portrait of a guy who sounds like he was incredibly complicated as a human being and undeniably brilliant as a businessman.

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<p>Tarantino and Kurt Russell may well work together again if the director ends up making &#39;The Hateful Eight&#39; with last night&#39;s cast.</p>

Tarantino and Kurt Russell may well work together again if the director ends up making 'The Hateful Eight' with last night's cast.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Quentin Tarantino takes 'Hateful Eight' script out for an all-star live test drive

We were there for this once-in-a-lifetime event

"Okay, we're drifting away from the dialogue a bit. Let's bring it back. No more co-writing."

By far, the most exciting element of Saturday night's live read was actually seeing Quentin Tarantino work with his cast as they performed his latest screenplay, "The Hateful Eight," for a sold-out capacity audience at The Theater at the Ace Hotel.

Depending on where you were seated in the theater, the physical experience ranged from the tolerable to the punishing, with the audience in the upper balcony essentially getting a free sauna as the total lack of air conditioning and the preposterously close rows combined to make the running time of over three-and-a-half hours almost impossible to bear. It is a testament, then, to the compelling nature of Tarantino's script and to the great cast he put together that no one seemed willing to leave before the end, no matter how hard it was to stay seated.

Tarantino explained at the start of the evening that he is still working on the script, and both Bob and Harvey Weinstein were in the audience for last night's event, listening carefully to the audience's reactions, I'm sure. He is currently writing the third draft, and it sounds to me like he plans to make the movie. He promised that the final chapter of the first draft will be reworked completely, making last night's live read the only time an audience will see that version of the ending. That's encouraging, because that wrap-up was by far the weakest part of the experience. It's also encouraging because so much of the rest of the script is already a treat.

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