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Bruce Lee: Move and shake

Bruce LeeIn The Way of the Dragon, Chuck Norris faces off with Bruce Lee in the Colosseum, in Rome Photo: Concord/Golden Harvest / The Kobal Collection

Kung-fu legend Bruce Lee’s influence transcends martial arts, film and race. He gave birth to the martial-art film genre and has been the source of inspiration for many action-movie stars

As a pioneer of kung-fu movies, Bruce Lee’s philosophy and fighting style have inspired many now-famous action-movie stars, who went on to carve out successful film careers making popular action flicks in the world. Lee is also credited with bringing the kung-fu genre to the mainstream of Hong Kong filmmaking.

Chuck Norris

American actor Chuck Norris owes much of his showbiz career to Bruce Lee, who recommended him to film producers for a cameo appearance in 1968’s Wrecking Crew. Afterwards, Lee enlisted him to appear in The Way of the Dragon, in which the climatic face-off between the two actors in the Colosseum, in Rome, went down in film history as one of the most classic fighting sequences. That film also propelled Norris to action stardom and he would soon star in various action pictures, including 1984’s Missing in Action and 1986’s The Delta Force. Born in the same year as Lee, Norris is a six-time world karate champion, holds an 8th Dan black belt in taekwondo, a black belt in tang soo do and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and is the founder of the Chun Kuk Do school, which combines elements from karate and tang soo do.

Bruce Lee 2Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon Photo: Concord/Warner Bros / The Kobal Collection

Jackie Chan

Known worldwide, Chinese martial-arts star Jackie Chan states that he believes he could not have grown to kung-fu stardom without Lee. He was 19 when the martial-arts legend died in 1973, and soon afterwards, film producers promoted Chan as the successor to Lee and featured him in kung-fu films such as New Fist of Fury (1976). Alongside his breathtaking kung-fu skills, Chan later added a comedic element to his performances and also developed a distinctive style by shunning stunt doubles and CGI-enhanced stunts. Early in his career, Chan was accidentally hit in fighting scenes with Bruce Lee during cameo appearances in Fist of Fury (1972) and Enter the Dragon (1973). Some of Chan’s best loved Chinese-language films include Drunken Master (1978), Police Story (1985) and Rumble in the Bronx (1995), but of course the ’90s saw Chan finally getting his big break in Hollywood and he made several English-language blockbusters including 1998’s Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon (2000).

Sammo HungSammo Hung acted in fighting scenes against Bruce Lee’s 1973 action classic, Enter the Dragon Photo: Patrick Lin/AFP/Getty Images

Sammo Hung

Actor, director and producer Sammo Hung came from the same martial-arts school as Jackie Chan and notably acted in fighting scenes against Bruce Lee’s 1973 action classic, Enter the Dragon. In Lee’s Game of Death (filmed in 1973 but not released until 1978), he had a cameo role and doubled as the martial-arts co-ordinator for the film’s reshoot. In Hung’s eyes, Lee was a kung-fu fighter with a knack for making incredibly quick and dexterous moves. Once Lee visited him on a film set and challenged him to a duel, and he was beaten right away. Hung’s acting CV is fairly diverse, starring in action films such as Hong Kong action-comedy Winners and Sinners (1983) and Ip Man 2 (2010); classic comedies such as Carry on Pickpocket (1982) and My Lucky Stars (1985); and the American TV series Martial Law, which ran for two seasons from 1998 to 2000.

Jet LiJet Li has starred in Hollywood productions such as The Forbidden Kingdom

Jet Li

A martial-arts star who rose to superstardom later than Jackie Chan, Jet Li began learning wushu at the age of eight. By adolescence, Li had mastered several styles of Northern Shaolin wushu and won numerous national wushu championships in China. He entered show business in the early 1980s at a time when Bruce Lee’s loyal fans were still reeling from the shock of his demise. Li’s debut film, Shaolin Temple (1982), counts among his most popular films, which also include the Once Upon a Time in China series, and 1994’s Fist of Legend – a remake of Bruce Lee’s celebrated Fist of Fury in which he reprises the role of Chen Zhen, the lead character played by Lee. Li has also starred in Hollywood productions including Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), Romeo Must Die (2000) and The Forbidden Kingdom (2008), which includes a roughly 10-minute fighting sequence in which he went head-to-head with Jackie Chan.

Donnie YenDonnie Yen in Ip Man, in which he played the eponymous hero and Bruce Lee’s martial-arts teacher Photo: Mandarin Films / The Kobal Collection

Donnie Yen

Arguably the most bankable Chinese kung-fu star today, Donnie Yen has expressed that he’s a massive fan of Bruce Lee and is profoundly influenced by Lee’s martial-arts philosophy. His fighting style is similar to that of Lee, given that he practised Chinese kung fu and Western martial arts at a young age. He played Chen Zhen in both the 1995 Hong Kong TV series Fist of Fury and the 2010-film Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, in which his masked superhero was inspired by the character Kato portrayed by Bruce Lee in the 1960s American TV series, The Green Hornet. Yen’s most memorable performance, however, is probably in Ip Man (2008), in which he played the eponymous hero, who was a grandmaster of the Wing Chun school of martial arts and notably Bruce Lee’s martial-arts teacher.

Stephen ChowStephen Chow likes to instil Bruce Lee-inspired kung-fu elements in his films such as Shaolin Soccer Photo: Miramax/Dimension Films / The Kobal Collection

Stephen Chow

Though he’s no action star, Hong Kong actor, comedian and director Stephen Chow likes to instil Bruce Lee-inspired kung-fu elements in many of his films – Fist of Fury 1991, All’s Well, Ends Well (1992) and Shaolin Soccer (2001) being some of the best examples. But when it comes to paying tribute to his idol on the big screen, nothing compares to Chow’s 2004 action-comedy film Kung Fu Hustle, of which he was the director, co-writer and leading actor playing a kung-fu master. Actor Bruce Leung, who plays the film’s lead villain, is often grouped among the Bruce Lee clones that emerged after Lee’s untimely death. Leung enjoyed considerable fame around the ’70s as a kung-fu actor and is best known for playing the leading role in The Fist (Chen Zhen), a Hong Kong TV series inspired by Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury.

 

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Joe (2014) Movie Review

joeLimited Release: Apr 11, 2014; Rated: R; Length: 117 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Nicolas Cage; Distributor: Roadside Attractions

They may be all too rare these days, but there are still occasions when Nicolas Cage can surprise us, flashing hints of his old acting-without-a-net self (Adaptation, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans). More often, though, he seems content to showboat through inane paycheck flicks (Ghost Rider, Drive Angry, the list goes on…and on). That’s why it’s so heartening to see him as the haggard, hair-trigger-tempered antihero of David Gordon Green’s doom-drenched new Southern gothic drama, Joe.

Green, who launched his career with downbeat, often lyrical portraits of frayed-at-the-edges Americana in such indies as George Washington and Undertow, has a gift for making blue-collar characters come alive with authenticity and hard-won dignity. Cage’s Joe is one such man. He’s a chain-smoking ex-con supervising a crew of day laborers tasked with poisoning trees to clear the land for fresh saplings. His newest worker is Gary (Tye Sheridan), an abused teen who’s trapped in a desperate situation at home with a drunk and violent dad (Gary Poulter). Joe becomes a father figure to Gary, teaching him the value of hard work, staying out of trouble, and seducing women (apparently the sound of a Zippo lighter is an aphrodisiac). Joe isn’t very good at following his own advice — at least the staying-out-of-trouble part — but Gary presents a last-ditch shot at redemption, the chance to nurture a flesh-and-blood sapling of his own.

Both Cage and Sheridan (who shined opposite Matthew McConaughey in Mud) give true and at times tender performances. It’s a shame the film lacks the same subtlety and force. Joe is about starting over before it’s too late. And for Cage, who internalizes that theme like a career directive, it’s a sure-footed step in the right direction.

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Draft Day (2014) Movie Review

draft_dayKevin Costner plays the general manager of the Cleveland Browns in director Ivan Reitman’s football drama.

An off-season gift for even the casual football fan.

Opens: April 11 (Summit/Lionsgate)

Cast: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Sam Elliott, Sean Combs

Director: Ivan Reitman

The pre-preseason opening kickoff of the 2014 National Football League season is returned for a score in Draft Day, an entirely conventional serio-comic sports world melodrama that pushes its buttons with undeniable professional finesse. In his most effective full star turn in perhaps a decade, Kevin Costner dominates as the greenhorn general manager of the beleaguered Cleveland Browns who could emerge from the heavy shadow of his late revered father with the successful handling of the annual draft of college players. The Summit/Lionsgate release will be huge in Cleveland and looks to perform well, especially with older males, anywhere football fans could use a little off-season juice, which is just about everywhere in the country.

Most great sports stories center on an underdog and Costner’s Sonny Weaver Jr. can claim that status on at least two counts: He’s a man well into his 50s who has never been able to make his own mark due to his dad’s legendary status, and his team is Cleveland, a dyed-in-the-wool football town that hasn’t had a team win it all since 1964. Further cementing Sonny’s status as a late bloomer, if not something of a Peter Pan, is that he’s just learned he’s to become a dad for the first time, courtesy of his secret relationship with one of the team’s financial executives, Ali (Jennifer Garner). From every point of view, Sonny’s got something to prove.

The screenwriting team of Rajiv Joseph (who wrote the acclaimed play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and was a writer for two seasons on Nurse Jackie) and Scott Rothman make it easy even for the uninitiated to get with the program, using real ESPN announcers and plenty of other commentary to clarify the workings of the draft, as NFL teams annually line up and sometimes jockey for position to select new players; although the order of selection is theoretically based on performance from the previous season, teams can bargain with each other for higher picks, negotiations which involve last-minute phone calls right down the wire and owe much both to shrewd talent assessment skills and great gambling instincts.

This season, the number one pick belongs to Seattle and the consensus top prospect is star Wisconsin quarterback Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), who’s the sort of talent you build a team around. Seattle wants to claim him but, under pressure from the intimidating Cleveland team owner (Frank Langella) to make a “splash,” Sonny negotiates first dibs on Callahan for a tall price, that of the Browns’s first-round draft picks for the next three years.

Much of the film’s dialogue, especially in the early-going, consists of urgent cellphone conversations across the nation as the countdown to the opening bell of the draft runs in digital numbers onscreen. Director Ivan Reitman and editors Sheldon Kahn and Dana E. Glauberman find a way out of dully repetitive cross-cutting between speakers on both ends by employing a smoothly sliding split-screen technique in which images of talkers push their way part, half or sometimes all the way into the widescreen frame and even sometimes stride across the entire screen from one image to the next. It’s not something you’d want to see used all the time, but it’s reasonably clever and, at the least, a novelty that freshens up an otherwise ordinary film stylistically.

Although the whole football world seems to think Callahan is the latest incarnation of Joe Montana or Tom Brady, Sonny isn’t so sure, prompting alternately amusing and concerning probes into the QB’s past behavior. Not only that, but Sonny has long had his eye on two other great college players, played by Chadwick Boseman (from 42) and actual Houstan Texans running back Arian Foster. But he would seem to have given up on them by dealing for Callahan, a move that has understandably infuriated the Browns’ present quarterback (Tom Welling).

It’s Sonny’s lot to take a lot of crap from almost everyone around him, particularly from his disrespectful coach (Denis Leary), who loves to shove his Super Bowl ring from his Dallas days in his face, and even from his mother (a most amusing Ellen Burstyn), who selects this of all days to conduct a memorial ceremony for her husband and cast his ashes upon the practice field named for him.

But making Sonny human, and warming up the film so much that even non-fan female viewers will likely find it engaging, is his relationship with Ali. Real life would probably see a man in Sonny’s high-pressure situation telling the woman he’s just learned he’s knocked up to please put their needed conversation on hold for 24 hours. Raised a Browns fan, Ali is into the draft frenzy herself, realistic and helpful to Sonny when he needs it. All the same, the two amusingly retreat to a storeroom several times in an attempt at some private moments, which seldom go uninterrupted for long. Garner’s a treat here.

Although almost always engaging and seemingly true to the world it depicts, Draft Day is never quite as funny as you somehow think it’s going to be. To a great extent, this is likely due to the choice of the leading actor, whose deliberate pacing slows the pace of dialogue interchange to a level less mirthful than some of the supporting actors seem to be going for. To his credit, though, Costner’s thoughtful approach not only gives Sonny an extra dimension as a character but hints at unspoken past issues involving his tough father and his ex-wife (Rosanna Arquette) that likely made it hard for him to grow up and come into his own without complexes. It’s a very welcome performance,

The supporting cast is good for some laughs and the background, especially toward the end, is filled out by recognizable real-life sports figures, not only the TV announcers but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and such former players as Deion Sanders, Bernie Kosar and the greatest Brown of all, Jim Brown.

Although the longtime plight of the Cleveland team is very real, the rest is fiction. All the same, it’s tough to embrace, or even overlook, some of the odd circumstantial discrepancies between the film and real life, notably the most recent Super Bowl winners, the Seattle Seahawks, being positioned as the needy number-one seed in the draft, and even more the idea that Leary’s coach proudly brandishes a Super Bowl ring won in Dallas, a city that hasn’t won anything since the last century.

Much as one might like to imagine that making a film about the city’s prolonged sports dry spell might change its luck, one might remember that Major League, a humorous look at the Cleveland Indians’s baseball follies, was released in 1989 but the team still hasn’t won a world series a quarter-century later.

Opens: April 11 (Summit/Lionsgate)

Production: Montecito Picture Company, Oddlot Entertainment

Cast: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Sam Elliott, Sean Combs, Terry Crews, Ellen Burstyn, Chadwick Boseman, Rosanne Arquette, W. Earl Brown, Kevin Dunn, Arian Foster, Brad William Henke, Chi McBride, Griffin Newman, Josh Pence, David Ramsey, Patrick St. Esprit, Timothy Simmons, Tom Welling, Wade Williams

Director: Ivan Reitman

Screenwriters: Rajiv Joseph, Scott Rothman

Producers: Ivan Reitman, Ali Bell, Joe Medjuch

Executive producers: Tom Pollock, Michael Beugg, Gigi Pritzker, Bill Lischak, Michael Nathanson

Director of photography: Eric Steelberg

Production designer: Stephen Altman

Costume designer: Frank Fleming

Editors: Sheldon Kahn, Dana E. Glauberman

Music: John Debney

PG-13 rating, 109 minutes

 

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Movie Trailer

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Official Trailer #1 (2014) – Megan Fox, Will Arnett Movie HD

The city needs heroes. Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.

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How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) Movie Trailer #2

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‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ Trailer 2

Director: Dean DeBlois

Starring: Gerard Butler, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill

Hiccup and Toothless must unite to stand up for what they believe while recognizing that only together do they have the power to change the future of both men and dragons.

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‘Rio 2′ to take on ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ at box office

APphoto_Film Review Rio 2A scene from “Rio 2,” which takes on “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” at the box office this weekend. (20th Century Fox / Blue Sky Studios / Associated Press)

A flock of tropical birds will play the villain to Captain America at the box office.

The 3-D computer-animated family comedy “Rio 2″ and last weekend’s No. 1 movie “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” are each expected to gross around $40 million in ticket sales in the United States and Canada Friday through Sunday, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys.

A $40-million debut for “Rio 2,” the latest release from 20th Century Fox’s animation company Blue Sky Studios, would likely put it neck-and-neck with the red-white-and-blue-clad hero for the top of the box-office charts.

That number would also put it on track to match the original “Rio.” That 2011 film opened to $39 million and went on to rake in $144 million domestically, with an additional $341 million from overseas accounting for 70% of its worldwide gross.

Director Carlos Saldanha returns for the “Rio” follow-up, which features the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jamie Foxx and Tracy Morgan. The film cost $103 million to make.

“The Winter Soldier,” Marvel Studios’ sequel to 2011′s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” took off last weekend with an April record of $95 million in ticket sales.

A gross of $40 million this time around would represent a roughly 60% drop week-to-week, which is typical for big superhero movies from the Walt Disney Co.-owned studio. The film has already passed the $100-million mark domestically and has amassed more than $200 million from overseas.

“Draft Day,” the backroom football drama starring Kevin Costner as the general manager of the struggling Cleveland Browns, is poised for an opening of $12 million or less. That would put it about even with Costner’s last movie, the thriller “3 Days to Kill” that opened in February and has essentially tapped out with a little more than $30 million domestically.

The movie from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment has received mixed reviews, as indicated by a score of 50% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes as of Thursday.

The micro-budget horror movie “Oculus,” acquired by Relativity Media for U.S. release for $2.5 million, should generate around $13 million in ticket sales through Sunday, which would roughly match 2011′s “Insidious.” That $1.5-million movie posted an opening of $13 million on its way to a $54-million domestic gross and the spawning of a franchise.

The well-reviewed “Oculus,” directed and co-written by Mike Flanagan of “Absentia,” follows a pair of siblings whose parents died mysteriously a decade earlier. The sister, played by Karen Gillan of TV’s “Doctor Who” series, traces the tragedy to a malevolent force brought on by an antique mirror.

For the release of “Oculus,” Relativity’s first low-budget scare-fest, the distributor teamed with Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, the company behind horror flicks such as “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious” and “The Purge.” It cost less than $5 million to make.

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‘No one wants to see me naked’: Kris Jenner insists she won’t pose for Playboy… and weighs in on Bruce’s sex change rumours

Kris Jenner 1On-trend: Kris was seen leaving Craig’s Restaurant in West Hollywood on Wednesday, carrying a stylish Chanel backpack

Rumour mill! Kris Jenner, pictured arriving at her office on Wednesday, was on hand to defend her celebrity family on KIIS’s Kyle and Jackie O Show on Thursday mor

The Kardashian family should count themselves lucky that Kris Jenner can always be counted on to have their backs especially when it comes to defending her celebrity family.

The world’s most infamous momager appeared on KIIS FM’s Kyle and Jackie O Show on Thursday morning to slam a number of rumours about her reality show daughters and her ex-husband.

At first, it sounded like the 58-year-old may have been pulling a Khloe à la Sunrise, when presenter Kyle Sandilands asked her about Bruce Jenner’s rumoured sex change the line cut out.

Kris Jenner 2Sex change rumours: The 58-year-old, pictured accompanying her ex-husband Bruce Jenner for a stroll in Thailand last week, dispelled speculation that he is to have a sex change

However, ever the professional, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians matriarch was back on the phone a short time later ready to defend her ex-husband.

‘That’s a story they’ve been writing since the Seventies, and I think they just keep regurgitating stuff… and the more sensational the headline they are going to sell magazines,’ Kris said.

‘It’s just like unbelievable that these blatant lies are printed and people are gullible and they buy the magazines,’ she added, clearly irate.

She then managed to change the topic saying, ‘We just all got back from vacation and had a great time and the family is great and we are looking forward to Kim getting married and the babies are doing well.’

Kim KardashianBride-to-be again! Kim Kardashian, seen arriving at Kris’s office in Calabasas on Wednesday, has not shown her mother her new wedding dress

Putting to bed those Playboy rumours, Kris laughed off reports that she would ever pose nude for the magazine.

‘Oh my God, no!’ she said. ‘I don’t think anyone wants to see me without any clothes on.’

‘The older you get, the harder it is. I love to work out and love to feel feel like I’m in shape… Last summer I posted those bikini photos because I thought it was so inspirational for someone in their fifties to have some motivation and say ‘wow’ anybody can put a bathing-suit on.’

Kris Jenner 3Killer figure: Kris posted this stunning bikini shot in January with the caption ‘Celebrate Life’

Kris Jenner 4Blue beauty: She also showed off her figure in a electric blue bikini in another Instagram post last September

The black-haired beauty also dispelled whispers that daughter Kim’s wedding to rapper Kanye West in Paris in the coming months could be cancelled because of a rule that says a couple must live in France for 40 days before they can tie the knot.

‘As far as Kim and Kanye go, everything is on track and they actually have a place there, they have a house in Paris.’

Kim’s wedding number three seems to be all go, however, Kris has yet to see her second eldest daughter’s wedding dress and admitted that she doesn’t know what the wedding plans are.

She said that Kim wants to do things very differently ‘from last time round’, with something a little more simple and in keeping with Parisian tradition.

Speaking about what is set to be one of the biggest Vogue covers ever, Kris said it was so ‘top-secret’ that not even the rest of the family knew about it.

‘It was so exciting’ to go through it all with Kim and ‘watch one of her dreams unfold’, Jenner said.

Heart broken: Khloe Kardashian was clearly struggling to walk with her Barney’s New York shopping bags at the family office on Wednesday

Going from the pending nuptials of one daughter to the marriage break-up of another, Kris admitted, ‘Khloe and Lamar are still apart… there is not really any change there that I know of or that I can report. She is just hanging in there and doing her best.’

The news will surely add fire to speculation that the newly single 29-year-old is dating rapper French Montana.

The quick-firing radio presenters also asked about Khloe’s Sunrise saga and whether she cut the line after they asked her about her 10-month-old neice North West or if it was an accidental dropout.

Kris laughed that she didn’t even hear about the uproar, saying she was probably asleep back in LA.

Kourtney KardashianTo help get her mind of her crumbled marriage, Khloe plans to move to the Hamptons in Long Island with Kourtney in the next two months to film a new spin-off – Khloe and Kourtney take the Hamptons.

It’ll give Kourtney’s partner Scott Disick a chance to show their children Mason, four, and 20-month-old Penelope the place in which he grew up following the deaths of both his parents in the last six months.

New romance: Khloe is rumoured to be dating rapper French Montana pictured together last Friday at P Diddy’s son’s birthday party

Khloe 1

 

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Dylan Penn – Treats Magazine Photoshoot (Issue #7)

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Rihanna at Supper Club in Hollywood

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) Movie Review

amazing_spiderman_two_ver6Andrew Garfield is back with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy by his side, ready to take on Jamie Foxx’s Electro, Dane DeHaan’s Green Goblin, and Paul Giamatti’s Rhino in this youth-skewed instalment in the web-slinging franchise.

Although a bit crowded with villains and subplots, the love story will catch viewers in its web.

Opens: May 2 (Columbia)

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field

Director: Marc Webb

2012′s The Amazing Spider-Man has its passionate defenders, and accumulated an unassailable $750 million box-office haul, but it sure took its sweet time gluing the radial spokes of its web into place. Now that effort pays off with its sequel, a more intricately woven skein of action, effects, character development and cheesy one-liners. The eponymous hero hits his super-heroic stride here, as does Andrew Garfield in the role, especially when Spider-Man’s alter ego Peter Parker learns there’s always some fine print in a contract with this many benefits. The plot gets itself tangled up in multiple villain strands, but in the main, this installment is emotionally weightier and more satisfying than its predecessor. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will swing effortlessly through multiplexes worldwide, with a long rollout through Europe and Asia before it opens Stateside on May 2.

With likeable-as-a-lollipop Emma Stone onboard again as love interest Gwen Stacy, who gets a lot more to do during this go-round, Spider-Man arguably has a stronger cross-gender pull than the average comic-book property. It also doesn’t hurt that the brand has always appealed particularly to kids, especially seven-and-ups just starting to grow out of cartoons, who connect to the character’s youth, occasional goofiness and fundamental innocence. Cannily, returning director Marc Webb and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner work representatives of that demographic right into the story itself, especially in the last scene, which ends this chapter on a final, eye-moistening, cliff-hanging high.

At the very least, New Yorkers will love it. The Amazing Spider-Man felt confined too often to Peter’s bedroom, his high school and the Oscorp skyscraper, neglecting the metropolis that’s such a vital context for the heroism until the third act. ASM2, on the other hand, opens with a giddy swoop through the Manhattan as Spider-Man swings in to thwart a heist masterminded by Russian, tattooed tubby Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti, maniacally gleeful, especially when he comes back in the last scene as the Rhino, evoking memories of Mole Man in The Incredibles). Thereafter, the film is one long series of postcards of famous Gotham landmarks, from the Williamsburg Bridge to Columbus Circle, even taking in forgotten subway stations.

Along the way to stopping Sytsevich, he saves psychologically unstable Oscorp-employee Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) from getting hit by a car, thereby turning him into a Spider-Man fan in the mold of Kathy Bates in Misery. As the marketing materials and trailers have already revealed, Max will be transformed into new nemesis Electro after an unfortunate mishap involving electric eels, the sort of industrial accident that usual health and safety guidelines don’t cover.

Even under all the prosthetic make-up and visual effects, Foxx manages to project a literally white-hot rage and damaged psyche that threatens to upstage the core romantic plot about Peter and Gwen’s relationship. No shot is ever quite as striking here as one where he shuffles down a street in a filthy hoodie, setting car lights and alarms ablaze, like a remix of the schizophrenic he played in The Soloist – but with superpowers. Although race is never mentioned, there’s a weird echo of Ralph Ellison‘s surreal 1952 novel Invisible Man, another New York-set story, given Electro is wracked with suppressed fury at his “invisibility” to most people, and after being transformed awakens in an underground lair lined with light bulbs. That might sound a stretch, but given a copy of David Foster Wallace‘s Infinite Jest is prominently displayed in Peter’s bedroom at one point, it seems someone on the production has a taste for highbrow fiction.

Less literary and more stock comic-book fare, the other villain subplot revolves around the familiar story of Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), son of OsCorp’s founder Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper). Although viewers familiar with the first Sam Raimi-directed trilogy from the ’00s will note that who gets to be the Green Goblin has shifted around , the dynamics with reference to Peter Parker/Spider-Man are basically the same: Harry is an old friend of Peter’s from a different social class, then they fall out; he turns bad, endangers Peter’s true love and so on. With his angular, androgynous beauty and piercing eyes, DeHaan is well cast (if a bit repetitively so, given the character echoes the one he played in Chronicle), and he looks more persuasively like a teenager than Garfield (the actors are 28 and 30 years old respectively), but the character has a stubbier arc here compared to Electro. Presumably, later installments will revisit him, judging by hints dropped here.

In truth, none of the many subplots or action sequences, zesty though they are, have as much combustible power as the scenes featuring Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Gwen, benefiting here as did the previous film from the fizzy, tangible chemistry between Garfield and Stone. It helps that they’re also individually such interesting performers, both nervous fidgeters who always seem so giddy in each other’s presence, even when Peter gets all worried about keeping his promise to dead Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) to stay away from Gwen for her own safety and tries to split up with her.

He can’t stay away, and she won’t let him go, quite literally, when she defies his attempts to web her up to keep her out of harm’s way. But forces much greater than Gwen’s chance to study at Oxford University threaten to pull them apart. Events take a surprising turn (less surprising for readers of the comics), a plot point which will soon be spoiled everywhere, only spurring fans further to try to see the film in their respective territories as it rolls out.

It’s in these romantic scenes that it’s possible to see a through-line to director Marc Webb’s earliest feature, (500) Days of Summer, a sweet indie comedy about hipsters in love. Blockbusters by their very nature have to appeal to a mass audience, and yet little tweaks and touches here and there add a freshness, a quirkiness that make this feel like a blockbuster franchise teenagers can embrace as well as their dads. (Mothers fare less well here, although Sally Field is excellent in her few small scenes as Aunt May.) The fact that the soundtrack is the result of a collaboration between industry veteran Hans Zimmer and a supergroup dubbed The Magnificent Six, featuring Pharrell Williams and Johnny Marr from The Smiths, sums up the film’s cross-generational project.

Production: A Columbia Pictures presentation of a Marvel Entertainment, Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach production

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field

Director: Marc Webb

Screenwriters: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, screen story by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, James Vanderbilt, based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Producers: Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach

Executive producers: E. Bennett Walsh, Stan Lee, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci

Director of photography: Dan Mindel

Production designer: Mark Friedberg

Costume designer: Deborah L. Scott

Editor: Pietro Scalia

Music: Hans Zimmer and The Magnificent Six featuring Pharrell Williams and Johnny Marr

Visual effects supervisor: Jerome Chen

No rating, 142 minutes

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