The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Rated PG-13 for PG-13 for action and sci-fi violence
Your Friendly Neighborhood Webslinger Engages New Adversaries In Spine-Tingling Sequel
If the idea behind a sequel to a summer blockbuster is to up the ante in terms of bombast and intensity, then The Amazing Spider-Man 2 certainly fits the bill. This installment is bigger and better and louder and longer, featuring more villains, next generation special f/x, more captivating action sequences, and even a fully-blossomed romance between Spidey’s alter ego Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
The picture’s point of departure is a flashback filling in a bit of the back story about how Peter became an orphan. We learn that his parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz) died aboard a doomed private plane hijacked by an assassin (Bill Heck) with an agenda, but not before his scientist father managed to email an explanatory message and critical computer file via satellite.
Fast-forward to the present, Peter and Gwen’s high school graduation day. We see a frustrated Gwen searching the audience for her boyfriend as she delivers a sentimental valedictory speech at the podium.
We soon learn that he’s been delayed inManhattanwhere as Spider-Man he’s trying to retrieve a shipment of stolen plutonium from a Russian mobster named Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti). In the middle of the chase, he coincidentally saves the life of Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), an engineer at Oscorp, the company responsible for supplying the city with electricity.
After securing the vials and apprehending the perpetrator for the police, Peter rushes off to his commencement ceremony, arriving right in the nick of time to receive his diploma. However, he has no idea that he hasn’t seen the last of Aleksei and Max who are fated to return later in the adventure after a combat suit of armor and a freak accident enable them to morph into the villainous Rhino and Electro, respectively.
But first, he grudgingly ends his relationship with Gwen in deference to her dad (Denis Leary) who doesn’t want his daughter dating a trouble-seeking vigilante. Next, Peter finds himself summoned to the offices of childhood pal Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who has just inherited Oscorp Industries, but is suffering from the same hereditary affliction which claimed the life of his recently deceased father (Chris Cooper).
Harry futilely solicits Peter’s help in locating Spider-Man, hoping that a blood transfusion might cure his affliction. Of course, that ain’t gonna happen. So, instead, he has to settle for the venom of genetically-altered spiders, which transforms him into another diabolical Spidey nemesis, the Green Goblin.
That makes a trio of worthy adversaries for the webslinging superhero to dispatch in creative fashion before the curtains come down. Provided you’re patient enough to sit through the closing credits after two and a half hours, you’ll even be treated to a tease of X-Men: Days Of Future Past, opening later this month, courtesy of a Jennifer Lawrence cameo as Mystique.
A “Marvel”-ously entertaining franchise that miraculously just keeps on giving and giving!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 142 minutes
Moms’ Night Out
Rated PG for mild action and mature themes
Tired Trio Takes Break From Domestic Duties In Faith-Based Family Comedy
Allyson Field (Sarah Drew) really can’t complain. After all, her life is the epitome of the American Dream. She has a handsome husband who adores her and is an excellent provider, too. She has a beautiful home in suburbia and her own minivan for shopping and shuttling around their hyperactive children, Beck (Zion Spargo), Bailey (Shiloh Nelson) and Brandon (Michael Leone).
Yet, she’s still overwhelmed by her domestic duties sometimes, especially when Sean’s (Sean Astin) work takes him out of town. Consider Mother’s Day, for example, which Ally recently spent cleaning up messes rather than being pampered like a princess.
Not alone in feeling frazzled, Ally hatches a plan with her BFFs, Sondra (Patricia Heaton) and Izzy (Andrea Logan White), to treat themselves to an evening of bowling and fine dining in a fancy restaurant next Saturday, assuming that their hubbies can babysit for a few hours without incident. That erroneous assumption jumpstarts the comedy of errors which ensues soon after Sean and the other hapless spouses (Alex Kendrick and Robert Amaya) do their best to fill-in.
Yet, when a baby turns up missing, guess who’s recruited to join the frantic search party. With the help of a buff biker with a heart of gold (Trace Adkins) and an impatient cabbie (David Hunt) with a British accent, the girls put their getaway on hold as their maternal instincts kick-in.
Co-directed by Jon and Andrew Erwin, Moms’ Night Out is a wholesome, PG-rated comedy that’s actually fun for the whole family. It’s also a faith-based film, though not heavy handed, ostensibly designed with the Christian Evangelical community in mind.
By the madcap misadventure’s happy resolution, sanity and safety are satisfactorily restored. More importantly, the wives are no longer taken for granted, but elevated to the lofty status envisioned by William Ross Wallace in the appreciative refrain “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”
A timely testament to motherhood that just might make the perfect Mother’s Day gift.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 98 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening May 9, 2014
Chef (R for profanity and sexual references) Jon Favreau wrote, directed and stars in this kitchen sink comedy as a cook who quits his job at a fancy restaurant inL.A. before returning to hisMiami roots to operate his own food truck while reconciling differences with his estranged ex (Sofia Vergara). Cast includes Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, Robert Downey, Jr., Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale and Amy Sedaris.
Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (PG for scary images and scenes of peril) Animated sequel to The Wizard Of Oz finds Dorothy (Lea Michele) venturing back to the Emerald City where she joins forces with a princess (Megan Hilty), an owl (Oliver Platt), a tugboat (Patrick Stewart) and a marshmallow (Hugh Dancy) after she finds the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) and Cowardly Lion (Jim Belushi) under the spell of a wicked Court Jester (Martin Short). Voice cast features Bernadette Peters as Glinda the good witch, Tacey Adams as Auntie Em and Michael Krawic as Uncle Henry.
Neighbors (R for crude humor, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity, pervasive profanity and widespread drug use) Ensemble comedy chronicling the frustrations of a couple (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) with a newborn forced to live next door to a rowdy fraternity house. With Zac Efron, Lisa Kudrow and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
App (Unrated) Sci-fi thriller, set inAmsterdam, about a psychology student (Hannah Hoekstra) terrorized by a cell phone app that circulates her secrets, photos and videos over the internet. With Isis Cabolet, Robert de Hoog and Alex Hendrickx. (In Dutch with subtitles)
Borgman (Unrated) Jan Bijvoet stars in the title role of this psychological thriller as a hobo who destabilizes the upper-class family that befriends him. Support cast includes Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval and Alex van Warmerdam. (In English and Dutch with subtitles)
Devil’s Knot (Unrated) Fact-based legal drama, set in the Bible Belt, revolving around the efforts of a skeptical private investigator (Colin Firth) to reopen the case against three teens (James Hamrick, Kristopher Higgins and Seth Meriwether) convicted of performing ritualistic, satanic killings of young children. With Reese Witherspoon, Dane DeHaan, Elias Koteas, Mireille Enos, Bruce Greenwood and Amy Ryan.
The Double (R for profanity) Jesse Eisenberg stars in this adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s classic novella about a nerdy milquetoast whose life is turned upside down by the hiring of a co-worker who’s his spitting image and has all the charm and confidence he lacks. Support cast includes Sally Hawkins, Mia Wasikowska, Gemma Chan, Wallace Shawn and Chris O’Dowd.
Fed Up (PG for mature themes, brief profanity and smoking images) Agribusiness exposé, narrated by Katie Couric, indicting the food industry for sickening far more consumers than most people realize. Featuring commentary by Michele Simon, President Bill Clinton and Senator Tom Harkin.
God’s Pocket (R for violence, sexuality and pervasive profanity) The late Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in this adaptation of the Pete Dexter best-seller as a struggling working-class hero who finds himself stuck with a trophy wife (Christina Hendricks) he can’t please, a body he can’t bury and a debt he can’t pay after his crazy stepson (Caleb Landry Jones) dies in a construction accident. With Eddie Marsan, Jack O’Connell and Bill Buell.
Palo Alto (R for graphic sexuality, drug and alcohol abuse, and pervasive profanity) Gia Coppola makes her writing and directorial debut with this coming-of-age drama based on a James Franco short story revolving around a clique of rebellious teens with a knack for finding trouble. Ensemble cast includes Franco, Emma Roberts, Val Kilmer, Chris Messina and Nat Wolff.
The Rescuers (Unrated) Cross-cultural documentary follows Rwandan activist Stephanie Nyombayire’s travels with British historian Sir Martin Gilbert to 15 countries to interview Holocaust survivors as well as the descendants of diplomats who had saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis.
Stage Fright (R for profanity, sexual references and graphic violence) High body-count horror flick set at a snobby drama camp terrorized by a bloodthirsty slasher who hates musical theater. Starring Meat Loaf, Minnie Driver and Allie MacDonald.