OUTtakes: May 2, 2014

This week in OUTtakes, we’re taking a look at the first major film of Summer 2014. That’s right, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits screens nationwide this week. How does it hold up to previous Spider-Man films? Check out our thoughts, and let us know yours. We also have thoughts on a film opening at the Plaza Theatre this week: Blue Ruin, an independent thriller that tells an intriguing story.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead. It’s great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp.

My Thoughts: I want to like this movie more than I do. Spider-Man is one of my favorite superheroes, and I vastly prefer Andrew Garfield in the role to Tobey Maguire. The same goes for Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy over Kirsten Dunst’s Mary-Jane Watson. Beyond that, there’s a lot I like about The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I like the particular sense of humor Spider-Man has in this series. I love Peter’s interactions with Aunt May. Harry Osborn gets more of my sympathies here than in the Raimi films. Electro just looks amazing.

And yet…

This movie is somehow both overstuffed and lacking in screen time to flesh out everything it wants to tell. Tonally, it’s all over the map. The different plots going on in the film largely feel like they’re setting up for the next few films Sony has planned (both The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and The Sinister Six). Both Electro and the Green Goblin flip over perceived slights from Spider-Man, which is just too convenient. And while the final act is pretty much perfectly executed, there’s something about the final scene that feels incomplete. Again, that darn setup.

Blue Ruin

Blue Ruin is a classic American revenge story that recently won the Fipresci International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival where it screened in the Directors’ Fortnight. The film follows a mysterious outsider whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.

My Thoughts: There’s something fascinating about this film and its lead character, Dwight. “Amateur assassin” is putting it nicely. In spite of the fact that he does kill a few people, Dwight is just plain lucky sometimes. He’s very clearly driven by a sense of right and wrong, but without the foresight to realize what his actions will cause. The same could be said, though, for many of the characters in this film. People do things without thinking through. Fortunately for viewers, that sense of the unexpected is what gives Blue Ruin its intrigue.

 

Also in Theaters

Decoding Annie Parker

Based on true events, Decoding Annie Parker tells the life affirming story of two remarkable women; the irrepressible Annie Parker, a three time cancer survivor and the geneticist Mary-Claire King whose discovery of the breast cancer BRCA gene mutation is considered one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them?

 

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