Tag Archive | "Emma Stone"

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OSCARS 2015: Know Your Nominees: Best Supporting Actress

Posted on 17 February 2015 by William Gatevackes

2015 Best Supporting Actress KYNIn the days leading up to the 87th Academy Awards, FilmBuffOnline will be offering profiles on all the nominees in the major categories. Some may be well known, others might be new to you, but if you need a refresher on these talented nominees, here it is.

Patricia Arquette

Arquette KYNNominated for: Playing the divorced mother with crappy taste in men in Boyhood.

Other awards for this role:

Won, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, The 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, 2015 BAFTA Awards.

Won, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, 2015 Screen Actors Guild Award.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Austin Film Critics Association Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards.

2nd Place, Best Supporting Actress, Central Ohio Film Critics Association.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Denver Film Society Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Detroit Film Critic Society, US.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Film Club’s The Lost Weekend Award.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Florida Film Critics Circle Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Houston Film Critics Society Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Iowa Film Critics Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards.

Won, Supporting Actress of the Year, London Critics Circle Film Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, National Society of Film Critics Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, New York Film Critics Circle Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, New York Film Critics, Online.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, North Texas Film Critics Association, US.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

Won, Best Actress, Seattle International Film Festival.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, St. Louis Film Critics Association.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Toronto Film Critics Association Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Village Voice Film Poll.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association.

Where you might know her from:

Arquette comes from a storied acting family. Her films include Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream WarriorsTrue Romance, and Ed Wood. In recent years, she has worked primarily in television, starring in MediumBoardwalk Empire, and the forthcoming CSI: Cyber.

History with Oscar:

This is Patrica Arquette’s first Oscar nomination.

Laura Dern

Dern KYNNominated for: Playing the mother of Reese Witherspoon’s character in Wild.

Other awards for this role:

None at press time.

Where you might know her from:

Dern also comes from an acting family–her mother is Diane Ladd, a three-time Oscar nominee, and Bruce Dern, an Oscar nominee last year for Nebraska. You might have seen her in Jurassic ParkWild At Heart or Citizen Ruth.

History with Oscar:

This is Laura Dern’s second Oscar nomination.

1992: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Rambling Rose (Lost to Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs)

Keira Knightley

Knightley KYNNominated for: Playing a British cryptographer working on the Enigma code in The Imitation Game.

Other awards for this role:

3rd Place, Best Supporting Actress, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards.

Won, Supporting Actress of the Year, Hollywood Film Awards.

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards.

Where you might know her from:

Knightley is most famous for her work in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but she has also appeared in Domino, Anna Karenina, and Atonement.

History with Oscar:

This is Keira Knightley’s second Oscar nomination.

2006: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Pride & Prejudice (Lost to Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line)

Emma Stone

Stone KYNNominated for: Playing Michael Keaton’s character’s ex-drug addict daughter in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

Other honors for this role:

Won, Best Supporting Actress, Boston Society of Film Critics Awards.

2nd Place, Best Supporting Actress, Florida Film Critics Circle Awards.

Where you might know her from:

Emma Stone seems poised to compete with Jennifer Lawrence as America’s Sweetheart/Most Popular Movie actress for years to come. She has appeared as Gwen Stacy in the Amazing Spider-Man reboot, Easy A, and Crazy, Stupid, Love.

History with Oscar:

This is Emma Stone’s first nomination.

Meryl Streep

Streep KYNNominated for: Playing the Witch in Into the Woods.

Other awards for this role:


Where you might know her from:

Streep is one of the most decorated actresses in movie history. If you’ve seen an Oscar nominated film in the last thirty years, odds are you’ve seen her in it.

History with Oscar:

Meryl Streep has 18 previous Oscar nominations and three wins. If you need to have a pee break or get a snack, you should probably do so now. Getting through this list is going to take a while.

1979: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, The Deer Hunter (lost to Maggie Smith, California Suite).

1980: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Kramer vs. Kramer (Won).

1982: Best Actress in a Leading Role, The French Lieutenant’s Woman (lost to Katharine Hepburn, On Golden Pond).

1983: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Sophie’s Choice (Won).

1984: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Silkwood (lost to Shirley McLaine, Terms of Endearment).

1986: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Out of Africa (lost to Geraldine Page, A Trip to Bountiful).

1988: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Ironweed (lost to Cher, Moonstruck).

1989: Best Actress in a Leading Role, A Cry in the Dark (lost to Jodie Foster, The Accused).

1991: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Postcards from the Edge (lost to Kathy Bates, Misery).

1996: Best Actress in a Leading Role, The Bridges of Madison County (lost to Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking).

1999: Best Actress in a Leading Role, One True Thing (lost to Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love).

2000: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Music of the Heart (Lost to Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry).

2003: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Adaptation (lost to Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago).

2007: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, The Devil Wears Prada (lost to Helen Mirren, The Queen).

2009: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Doubt (lost to Kate Winslet, The Reader).

2010: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Julie & Julia (lost to Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side).

2012: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, The Iron Lady (Won)

2014: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, August: Osage County (Lost to Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine)

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Posted on 02 May 2014 by Rich Drees

theamazingspiderman2posterIf you like director Marc Webb’s 2012 reboot of Sony’s Spider-Man franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man, than you will probably find much to enjoy in the sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Webb and leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are back, and since the box office seemed to deem their formula a winning one, they are giving us more of the same. However, if you were like me and found the last film a bit of a mixed bag, than I am afraid that I can’t report much of an improvement here.

It has been sometime since Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), aka Spider-Man, saved Manhattan from the machinations of the Lizard, although he is still haunted by the image of his girlfriend’s father (Dennis Leary) who made Peter promise to keep his daughter Gwen (Emma Stone), Peter’s girlfriend, out of his dangerous superhero life before he died. Peter’s guilt over not being able to keep that promise is definitely putting a strain on their relationship. Meanwhile, nebbishy OsCorp electrical engineer Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) has an accident involving some genetically modified electric eels and soon finds himself with the ability to control electricity and shoot it from his hands. Meanwhile, Peter continues to search into the mystery of his parents’ deaths when he was a child and discovers a link back to the technologically cutting-edge OsCorp.

Garfield and Stone have a great chemistry, a continuation from the first film and one which holds together what it can of the film here. Whenever the two are on screen together, even when the script is trying to force their characters apart, there is some real energy and crackle. But when they’re apart the film flounders. Even when Webb tries to inject some visual panache with a couple of dutch angles that only windup recalling director Sam Raimi’s more visual energetic shooting style from the first Spider-Man trilogy of films.

The film’s biggest problem, though, is the inclusion of the classic comic character Harry Osbourne. The son of industrialist Norman Osbourne, the owner of OsCorp, the source of all things evil in the rebooted franchise, Harry and Peter are old friends whose relationship in the comics gets complicated by the fact that Norman is the Green Goblin, one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes. Harry later takes up the family tradition of being a supervillain. The film here jettisons much of that, streamlining things a bit. Pete and Harry are still friends, though they haven’t seen each other for a decade or so as Norman had shipped his son off to boarding school. The movie skips over Norman’s tenure as Green Goblin and lets Harry pick up the mantle of that villain himself. But in that rush to get to a seminal Spider-Man moment that serves as the climax of the film’s third act, it shortchanges any actual development between Harry and Peter, which leads to a surfeit of tension and drama between their showdown at the film’s climax.

AmazingSpiderMan2Complicating this is the fact that while he has been more engaging in other films, as Harry, Dane DeHaan is a charisma-less void. Outside of his first interaction with Garfield as the two friends are reunited following the death of Norman, DeHaan’s presence here on the screen exhibits nothing that suggests he’s acting in the same film as everyone else and that the only direction he was giving was to do an approximate impersonation of Leonardo DiCaprio from ten years ago.

Another problem with the film’s ending is that everything stops for a five-to-ten minute segment that serves no purpose for the film at hand as it does to set up the future spin-offs and sequels that Sony has announced that they are planning on making. While other film franchises are also intentionally seeding their current releases with teases for their upcoming planned sequels, they are being done more or less organically, with a success rate dependent on each film series. Here, however, it is done rather clunkily and hamfistedly, calling attention to the fact that, box office willing, we’re going to be getting over the next few years.

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Posted on 20 December 2013 by William Gatevackes

In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. Today, the Spider-Man franchise starts anew.

Marc Webb-AES-074713The Raimi era was over and Sony needed a new director to take over the reins. The found him in a director with only one film credit to his name, and that was a quirky romantic comedy.

Outside of a handful of music videos, the only credit on Marc Webb’s resume was 2009’s (500) Days of Summer. That film made a splash, but it’s not the kind of film you’d expect would inspire confidence in directing action films.

But Webb got the job nonetheless and began the process of building a script around a screenplay written by Alvin Sargent, James Vanderbilt, and Steve Cloves. The Lizard would be the main villain, although two other villains—Proto-Goblin and Big Wheel were also considered. Gwen Stacy would be the romantic interest instead of Mary Jane Watson in this go around.

Webb began to looking for a cast for his movie. For the teenage Peter, he chose British actor Andrew Garfield. Garfield was 27 at the time he was cast, making him older than Tobey Maguire when he was cast as Peter Parker. Emma Stone was chosen for Gwen Stacy, with Rhys Ifans playing Curt Connors/the Lizard, and Martin Sheen and Sally Field playing Peter’s Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

Amazing_Spider-Man_theatrical_poster_02The first half of the film was a rehash of the origin and it was a bear to get through. It was like someone was sitting with a clipboard and a check list and just going through the beats needed. “Okay, this is how he gets bitten by the spider, this is what we are going to use instead of the wrestling scene, here’s the discovery that he has powers…”

But I think a lot of the changes were good, if not an improvement on the original. Peter Parker in this one wasn’t a put-upon loser, he was a kid who never got over being abandoned by his parents. He was an outcast because he was damaged, not because he was a nerd. This rose criticisms of him being “too emo.” Well, A) I like emo music and B)it makes the character more believable in my eyes.

Giving Peter his advanced aptitude in science back was also a great step. Yes, he makes his own web-shooters again after Raimi took that iconic part of the comics away from him because he thought it was unbelievable. However, I always considered it an important part of the character, and was glad to see it back.

The-Amazing-Spider-ManPeter being good at science also made the romance more believable this time around. Of course, that was due to the filmmakers turning Gwen into a science prodigy (how’s that for believability, huh Raimi?). Both the both character’s love of science gave them a common interest, which is more than Peter and Mary Jane had in the first set of films. Add to this the fact that Peter is a good man who sticks up for those weaker than him, much like Gwen’s police captain father, and you have another level of attraction.

The film made $752,216,557 worldwide, which was the least of all the Spider-Man films but still good enough for a sequel. Or two. Or three. Sony not only announced that there would be The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but also an Amazing Spider-Man 3 & 4 as well.

amazing_spiderman_two_ver4_xlgJames Vanderbilt was back to write the film, and his screen play was rewritten by Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman.  After a brief period of uncertainty about his return, director Marc Webb signed on, and Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were contracted for two more films.

The first sequel will feature Jamie Foxx as an OsCorp employee who is transform into the supervillain Electro. It will also feature Paul Giamatti as a Russian mobster in an OsCorp armored suit in a modern take on the Spidey villain, the Rhino. Dale DeHaan will play Harry Osborn, and it appears that he will spend some time as the Green Goblin. There will also be references to the Vulture and Doctor Octopus in the film as well. It will be a very busy film from a bad guy perspective.

movies-the-amazing-spider-man-2-filming-7Who will not be in the film is Shailine Woodley. The actress was cast as Mary Jane Watson and spent week filming the role before it was revealed that the part was cut from the final film. Rumor had it that negative Internet reaction about her looks might have played a part in the cut, and that the part will be recast for The Amazing Spider-Man 3. I spoke about that here, and my hope is that we’ll see Mary Jane, with Woodley playing her, in the next sequel.

In addition to the sequels to the main film, Sony also announced that it would be producing films on The Sinister Six and Venom as they try to spin off the franchise into a shared universe, which is so popular these days.

All in all, I think this is betting a lot on a franchise that hasn’t really proven itself as of yet. But Spider-Man is such an iconic character that even if this doesn’t work, more films will be made starring him. He has come a long way from his early days as a horror film misinterpretation.

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Who You Gonna Call? Jonah Hill And Emma Stone?

Posted on 07 November 2013 by Rich Drees


After years of false starts and stories that never seemed to pan out, it is hard to take any news about Ghostbusters 3 with at least a grain or three of salt. So feel free to sprinkle liberally over the following report from Schomes Know that comic actors Jonah Hill and Emma Stone have been offered deals to participate in the project that Dan Aykroyd has been trying to get off the ground for the last several years.

According to the site, the names of the their characters will be Jeremy and Anna, but they have no idea as to how they will play into the story. Hill and Stone already worked together in the comedy Superbad.

In the past, Aykroyd has stated that he hopes that the film will see the “passing of the torch” to a younger cast of actors. And Hill’s name has been floated out before, so that part at least passes the smell test.

Of course, if this is true, then Sony must be close to greenlighting the film after all these years. But we’ve thought this before. But if it turns out to be true than we could be seeing filming beginning as early as next spring. maybe.


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Mia Wasikowska In, Emma Stone Out Of Del Toro’s CRIMSON PEAK

Posted on 06 June 2013 by Rich Drees


There’s been a bit of a casting shakeup in Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming haunted house thriller Crimson Peak. Alice In Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska will be taking over the lead role Emma Stone had originally been attached to. Stone apparently departed the project last month when a scheduling conflict could not be resolved. Wasikowska’s reps are currently hammering out her deal with the project’s producers Legendary Pictures.

Wasikowska will be playing Edith Cushing, a recently married writer who discovers that her husband is not at all what he seems to be. Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessica Chastain and del Toro’s Pacific Rim co-star Charlie Hunnam have already been hired for the film.

Both Wasikowska and Stone are competent actors, so I don’t think there will be much of an impact on the final film, though as a fan of Emma Stone’s I am sorry to see her go.

Crimson Peak is a project that has been on Del Toro’s backburner for a while now. He first wrote and then sold the screenplay to Universal back in 2007 after he had completed Pan’s Labyrinth. The chance to do Hellboy II and then the two years in New Zealand he spent working on developing The Hobbit with Peter Jackson kept him from doing the film for the studio. More recently, Del Toro was asked by Legendary what he would like to do as his next project and he sent them the scripts to his long in-development adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness (which Universal had also shown a brief interest in), an adaptation of The Count Of Monte Cristo he had been trying to get going for nearly 20 years and Crimson Peak and was pleasantly surprised when they came back with Peak as the project they wanted to finance.

Via The Wrap.

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Woody Allen Picks Emma Stone For Next Film

Posted on 24 April 2013 by Rich Drees


Emma Stone is in talks to headline Woody Allen’s next film. Deadline is reporting that the actress is currently in talks with the writer/director/actor and is expected to close her deal soon.

As this is the ultra-secretive Woody Allen we’re talking about, outside of the fact that the film will shoot in the south of France, there is nothing else known about the project including even a basic storyline or title.

In the meantime, Allen has Blue Jasmine with Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Louis C.K. recently completed and scheduled for release later this year.

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Emma Stone Heading To Del Toro’s CRIMSON PEAK

Posted on 16 January 2013 by Rich Drees

Guillermo del Toro is still working at putting the finishing touches on this summer’s Pacific Rim, but he is also starting to gear up for his next film, the haunted house thriller Crimson Peak. According to Variety, the director has cast Emma Stone in the film’s lead and that a deal between the two is being worked on right now.

Outside of del Toro describing the film as a “classical but at the same time modern take on the ghost story” we don’t know anything about the story nor how Stone’s character will fit into it.

Normally I am a fan of her work, so it came as a bit of a shock that she appeared to be so out of her depth in last weekend’s Gangster Squad. Hopefully, Stone will be up for whatever del Toro has in mind for her to do in the film.

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MacFarlane, Stone To Announce Oscar Nominees

Posted on 07 January 2013 by Rich Drees

Seth MacFarlane, who will be hosting the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony next month, will be pulling double duty and announcing the award nominees this Thursday as well. Joining him for the early morning announcement will be actress Emma Stone.

Apparently, MacFarlane tweeted the news last night and the Academy rushed out a press release this morning.

Traditionally, the announcement is made by the president of the Academy accompanied by an Oscar recipient from the previous year. The last time a ceremony’s host also participated in the announcement press conference was in 1973 when Clint Eastwood, one of the four co-hosts for the awards ceremony, also helped announce the nominees.

Here’s the Academy’s press release –

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards® will be announced by the show’s host, Seth MacFarlane, and actress Emma Stone on Thursday, January 10. This will be the first time since 1972 that an Oscar show host has participated in the nominations announcement.
MacFarlane and Stone will unveil the nominations at a 5:30 a.m. PT news conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, where hundreds of media representatives from around the world will be gathered.

Since the first nominations announcement in 1964, the Academy president has been joined by one or more co-announcers at the event. This year the Academy will break with tradition when MacFarlane, who was named Oscar show host in October, joins Stone on Oscar nominations morning. Charlton Heston (1972) was the only other show host to participate in the nominations announcement.

Stone starred in the 2011 Best Picture nominee “The Help” and the summer release “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Her other film credits include “Superbad,” “Zombieland,” “Easy A” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Stone will be seen in “Gangster Squad” later this month and in “The Croods,” due out in March.

Nominations information for all categories will be distributed to news media in attendance and via the Internet on the official Academy Awards website, www.oscar.com.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

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Posted on 03 July 2012 by William Gatevackes

FBOL Editor-in-Chief Rich Drees posted his review of this film yesterday, and he’s already been taken to task in the comments over it. Well, as much as I hate to take him to task again, I will, albeit, hopefully, in a more professional manner. Because I liked the movie far more than he did.

I agree with Rich that it’s nigh impossible to look at this film without comparing it to 2000’s Spider-Man, because like Sam Raimi’s film, it is an origin story that takes several beats from the comic book origin. Yes, you’ll have the scene where Peter Parker get bitten by a spider. You’ll get the killing of Uncle Ben, you’ll get the costume creating montage. And after each of these moments, you’ll be taken back to the original Raimi film. Some moments may compare favorably, some may not, your mileage may vary.

But once you get past the origin part of the story, where the similarities seem the strongest, this film begins to go its own way. This version of Spider-Man is more grounded in reality, or as close to reality any movie featuring a mutated seven-foot lizard man can get. And it is also a modernized version of Spider-Man as well. Raimi’s Spider-Man had an ageless quality to him, that with a small change of set dressing Tobey Maguire’s version of the character could have been from the 1950s or 1960s as much as he was from the 2000s. Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man is set in the now, a world of cell phones and You Tube and skateboards. Neither version of better than the other, in my opinion, but both are valid takes on the iconic character.

I think that Rich missed a lot of the subtlety of the characterization of Peter Parker, because if he didn’t, I’m sure that a lot of his complaints about the film would have been answered. Peter Parker, as brilliantly played by Andrew Garfield, is a young man who never knows the right thing to do. This causes him to hem and haw while asking out a girl who is throwing herself at him. It also causes him to believe that humiliating the bully who humiliated him is the best course of action. With this as a prologue, his desire to hunt down the man who killed his uncle seems completely believable. It’s what Peter, blinded by grief and anger, thinks would be the best way to make amends for, and to relieve his guilt over, inadvertently causing his uncle’s death.

While it is true that the death of Uncle Ben was used as the instigator of Spider-Man’s using his powers for unselfish means in both the comics and the Raimi films, it wouldn’t work here with the characterization up to that point and, trying to avoid spoilers, the way this movie changes the death of Uncle Ben. The scene where Peter finally realizes the effect of his uncle’s words about taking responsibility for his actions comes later during what I will call the “bridge scene,” the point of which Rich obviously either missed or  didn’t give proper emphasis to.

Once again, to avoid spoilers, I’ll simply say it’s where the Lizard makes his first appearance and Spidey saves a bunch of lives (facts which the trailer spoiled). It’s here where Peter learns that with great power comes with great responsibility. It’s here where he learns that he is the only person qualified to take on this menace (and barely qualified at that) and that if he doesn’t take action, many, many people will die. Uncle Ben’s words finally sink in. It’s is here where Peter’s story arc curves and he, as a character, changes and grows. And this new sense of responsibility carries through to the end of the film.

The film is full of deep emotional resonance, inspired directing by Marc Webb, finely crafted scenes (the dinner scene where Peter meets Gwen Stacy’s family is especially sharp and proves that Denis Leary is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood), and subtle moments that make for an enjoyable film. The way they treat Gwen Stacy is especially refreshing. With a stunning acting performance from Emma Stone, who is quickly becoming the greatest actress of her generation, Gwen is not the superhero film stereotype of “The Girlfriend In Peril.” She is an equal, if not a superior, to Peter in many ways. And while the film places her in jeopardy at times, it’s not for a stupid reasons, but for heroic acts and always with her knowing the dangers of her actions.

Comic fans should appreciate the film’s interpretations of George Stacy and Flash Thompson, which, while not carbon copies of their comic book inspirations, captured the spirit of them well enough to please a long time Spidey fan like me. And the film’s obligatory Stan Lee cameo is one of his funniest yet.

This is not to say the film is a perfect film. It’s not. There are a number of bad plot contrivances such as mind-numbing coincidences (Who is the guide for the tour of Connor’s lab? Why Gwen Stacy of course! And naturally the secret formula Peter’s dad left behind in an old briefcase would be the formula Connors needed to finish his work!) and glaring gaps of logic (in addition to the Internet search thing Rich mentioned, Peter has his secret identity spoiled by leaving behind his camera, complete with a “Property of Peter Parker” placard at a battle scene. Why didn’t he also leave a class schedule and a list of his fears along with it?).  But these are but blips on the radar for an otherwise enjoyable film.

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Posted on 02 July 2012 by Rich Drees

If you liked the part in Spider-Man 3 when Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker got all moody and emo, then you’re going to love Andrew Garfield’s interpretation of the character in the franchise reboot The Amazing Spider-Man.

Here we have a high school Peter Parker who has abandonment issues over the deaths of his parents and oft times takes them out on his loving Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). And while his time spent underneath a mask as Manhattan’s swinging superhero is often seen as a chance for Peter to let his hair down so to speak and have some fun, this version of Spider-Man has more of a single-minded mission. And best (or worst) of all, we can count on this portrayal continuing into at least the next installment of the franchise as none of these character issues are really resolved. It is as if director Marx Webb doesn’t realize that we already have a grim and gritty comic book film this month in the form of Christopher Nolan’s upcoming The Dark Knight Rises.

Peter Parker is not your typical teen. While extraordinarily smart, he is having trouble fitting in at school, which is surprising considering that he goes to Midtown Science High School which sounds like it would be an environment rich with like-minded teens. But Peter keeps himself isolated, still hurting from the death of his parents a decade earlier. When his Uncle Ben finds an old briefcase of his father’s, Peter starts to investigate the events surrounding his parents’ deaths. The trail leads him to OsCorp and Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), a former colleague of Peter’s father. Connors is researching how animal genetics could help improve humans. While snooping around Connor’s lab, Peter is bitten by a spider and soon finds himself with enhanced strength and the ability to crawl up walls. But when Connors turns his research on himself, he finds himself transformed into a seven-foot-tall half-human, half-lizard monster. Following the death of his uncle at the hands and gun of a petty thief, Peter starts using his powers to try and catch the killer only to become a target of the New York City police.

That description makes the film seem much more densely plotted than it actually is. Some storylines are introduced only to be abandoned. The mystery of Peter’s parents is only there to lead him to Connors after which it is conveniently forgotten until the mid-credits button scene in which the filmmakers suddenly remember that this particular thread is still unresolved and make a quick promise to possibly return to the issue in a sequel. Likewise, a plotline involving an OsCorp executive demanding that Connors escalate his work to human trials exists only to force the character to test the serum on himself so he would turn into the villain of the piece.

While I will get to some of the film’s flaws, I did want to address a few of the things that it got right. First off, the teenage awkwardness between Peter and his high school crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) feels spot on. The portrayal of Connors/The Lizard as an ersatz Jekyll and Hyde works well enough to make you wish that the movie spent more time on it. A sequence at the beginning of the film’s climax where New Yorkers rally to help Spider-Man delivers perhaps the film’s most emotional moment.

I will admit that it is hard not to compare this new iteration of the Spider-Man story to the director Sam Raimi’s trilogy that has come before. Not just because Raimi’s films are still in the relatively recent past but because their popularity have cemented a certain version of the character in the public’s imagination. Webb’s new reinvention of the Spider-Man mythos almost seems to court such comparisons though and when examining them we can find some to be problematic.

Among comic book fans, one of the most controversial aspects of Raimi’s films was the change of Spider-Man’s webshooters being an invention of Peter’s to yet another change in his body brought about by that radioactive spider bite. Amazing Spider-Man wants to emphasize Peter’s boy genius side by returning to the idea that he built his webshooters, but then proceeds to undercut it by having the actual web fluid be something he stole from OsCorp.

I also found it hard to believe that while Peter has often wondered about his parents, it was not until the discovery of his father’s attaché case that he decided to start actively trying to find out about them. Credulity is further strained when we see how much information was obtained by a relatively simple internet search. If Peter’s so smart how is it he never thought to do a simple search engine query?

But the biggest wrong note that the film hits is how it treats Peter’s reaction to his Uncle Ben’s death. This is the moment where Peter embraces the Spider-Man story’s well-known theme of great power bringing great responsibility. Instead, this film uses that moment to turn Peter into a vigilante, only stopping crimes being committed by men who match the description of his uncle’s killer.

And even by the end of this new film, Peter has not embraced the responsibility of his powers. This is a point that is firmly driven home in the film’s very last line of dialogue before the credits begin rolling. Peter may have changed physically over the course of the film, thanks to him receiving his powers, but he still seems to be the same self-absorbed kid he was at the start of the film with no emotional growth or maturity. This leaves us with the true meat of Peter’s origin to be stretched out over a succession of sequel films and that feels like a decision made more in a boardroom than anywhere else in the creative process.

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