Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does Whatever a Reboot Can
By Darrin Jones / May10

Let’s face it, there’s no shortage of reviews out there about the Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s clear by now that you know if you want to watch it or not, if you haven’t already. And if you want my opinion on the movie, I thought it was okay. But just okay. And for a film series with “Amazing” in the name, that’s just not good enough.

By the way, these four, not that Fantastic.
Although, one thing that I did realize listening to all the critics out there is that no one seems to be able to talk about the Amazing Spider-Man reboot without addressing the Sam Rami Spider-Man series. But is it really a fair comparison? It’s a different director, a different cast, and they are a decade apart in terms of special effects. And technically they’re based on different comicbook universes, what with the new Amazing Spider-Man movies being more closely related with the Ultimate Spider-Man series, but if I actually got into the whole spectrum of differing comicbook universes my head would just explode and nothing would be posted on time.

So I’m going to approach the two film series as a general audience with only the basic information that I’ve gleamed from tv or enthusiastic fans.

1. Tobey Maguire is a Better Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield is a Better Spider-Man.
One of my biggest turn-offs in the Sam Rami Spider-Man films is that Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker always seemed like he was on the verge of crying in every scene. But I understood why. Peter Parker is kind of a mopey guy. He’s a nerdy kid that’s doesn’t quite fit in and his inventive genius is constantly strangled by a sense of personal guilt, dread about the future, and a pining love for a girl that is out of his league.

" Sure he's amazing but I think I can get someone more super."
Which is something that Andrew Garfield just doesn’t pull off. His Parker, while getting the teenage enthusiasm right, is just too emotionally stable when facing the everyday world. Yeah, he actually suffers from being too charismatic. Which is perfect when he shifts into Spider-Man mode.

See one thing that Spider-Man did differently from other superheros in his day was actually enjoy the freedom of his superpowers. Maguire’s Spider-Man felt to quiet, too reserved. Sure he would spout the one-liners but his spirit just wasn’t in it. And he was a little too eager to take his mask off.

"Oh, now I see why my hands were so sticky."
Garfield on the other hand has the youthful energy and the, dare I say, cockiness of a Spider-Man. That’s because Spider-Man is a metaphor for wild carefree teenagers. All of Spider-Man’s ‘spider powers’ aquatint to ‘feeling invulnerable.’ The world is yours and you can cover it with sticky goo whenever you want.

Okay. That's got to be a new world record.

2. The Idea of Spider-Man Might Be Kind of Boring.
As fun as it is seeing a teenager’s hopes and dreams being crushed under the steadily growing mountain of responsibility, it’s hard to squeeze entertainment out of it over the course of three films. The selling point for Spider-Man was that he was a young guy just getting out of high school trying to balance saving the world on top of not to be the creepy dude that still lives at home with his parents.

Even though he inspired a lot of these people.
But as time progressed everyone realized that Peter Parker hasn’t progressed with it. With the Sam Rami movies, Parker didn’t really improve at all over the course of three films. He still had his crappy apartment, couldn’t hold down a job, and let stopping minor criminal offenses get in the way of having a relationship with his cardboard cutout girlfriend, Mary Jane. (That’s not a slam against Kirsten Dunst. I’m sure she did her best with what she was given.) Overall all, it was just kind of boring. 

And you know what’s equally boring? Having director Marc Webb’s Parker spend two films investigating a shoehorned in mystery about his parents’ death that goes absolutely nowhere. Seriously, over the runtime of the Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2, the knowledge gained was that “Peter Parkers parents’ deaths wasn’t an accident” and “Oscorp is bad.”

Well hot damn, Peter! Oscorp's evil? Get your camera! This is breaking news!
I’m actually glad that Peter’s new -- but judging by the comicbooks, old -- girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, is around to actually do clever things and grow as a person. But, as this is a Spider-Man movie, the two will end up arguing about whether they should be together or not for the majority of the flick. And when you boil it down, watching a couple go through their “will they, won’t they” relationship troubles just isn’t that entertaining.

3. Marc Webb Handles Female Characters Better.
While I poked fun at the Amazing Spider-Man for wasting time with relationship troubles, I will say that Marc Webb’s series has the more compelling female cast. Emma Stone and Sally Field were perfectly cast as Gwen Stacy and Aunt May. Like I said before, Gwen is by far more interesting and active than Peter Parker even though they have fairly similar origins. Both are highly intelligent responsible young people that ultimately want to do good for the world. In the same movie where Peter’s Uncle Ben dies, Gwen’s father also dies. But while Peter is chained to the idea of finding his Uncle’s killer and only reluctantly falling into the role of a superhero, Gwen moves past her father’s death. And when she’s suspicious that Oscorp might be up to no good, she actually looks into it. Even without superpowers.
Compare this to Sami Rami’s female cast who were pretty much only good for being put in peril by the Green Goblin. Fortunately, Marc Webb wouldn’t fall into that old troupe...oh wait.

That's exactly what happens in the movie. Terrific.

Jump to: Part 1 / Part 2

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does Whatever a Reboot Can
By Darrin Jones / May10

4. Sam Rami Handles Deaths Better.
Here is going to be a spoiler for Amazing Spider-Man 2 so fair warning before reading on.

Like many others out there who saw the trailer, I had a suspicion of what was going to happen in this film as it is the most famous defining moment in the Spider-Man mythos: Gwen Stacy’s death. It was a moment that shocked the comicbook world as killing a superhero’s love interest back then was something that never happened. And the shock was well earned. The books had years to build up the relationship between Peter and Gwen and the rivalry between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. 

The Amazing Spider-Man movie on the other hand, did not earn this moment. But this is only a symptom of a problem in this new series. In Rami’s first Spider-Man movie, Parker has to deal with the death of his Uncle Ben and the accidental murder of his arch-villain/friend of the family, Norman Osborn. In one movie, Peter lost two important people in his life and you knew it. He showed it. It was part of his character now and it carried on to the other movies. Peter tried to avoid getting close to anyone again as he was afraid of the consequences but in the end couldn’t resist going back to Mary Jane.

In the Amazing Spider-Man, Peter loses his Uncle Ben -- guy just can’t catch a break -- and Gwen’s disapproving father dies related to a mistake Peter made; the last words of her father being that he doesn’t want Peter Parkers superheroics getting Gwen killed. And in the next movie, well Peter’s dating Gwen, of course! Oh, but he’s haunted by the disapproving father figure, right? So he at least feels guilty for knowingly putting Gwen in harms way! Peter’s conflict over this is only ever verbal; his actions completely betray this idea. And what’s worse, after Gwen’s death -- which should have been the end of the freaking movie -- he puts on the Spider-Man costume again to save the day one more time before the credits roll. 

This is not emotionally impactful. This is not respectful to the character that the movie made. This is a hastily thrown together story shooting for a big payoff that it didn’t earn it. Too much was introduced and rushed through in an attempt to compact several difficult relationships into one film. Which is also the same thing that happened in Rami’s Spider-Man 3. Which leads me to one conclusion...

5. Sony is Destroying the Franchise’s Potential..
For whatever short-sighted, profit driven reason, Sony’s control over the Spider-Man franchise has become poisonous. It’s well-known that Spider-Man 3 was forced to stuff one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes, Venom, into a film that he just didn’t belong in. Compounded with a rushed conclusion to Harry Osborn’s vendetta against his old friend, Peter Parker, to avenge his father’s much deserved death. I mean, this is the movie that had to resort to Harry getting amnesia so he would forget he was evil for a while just to give Sandman -- a character that had potential -- and freaking Venom screen time.

"We can be friends again Peter! My butler told me my dad killed himself so we're cool now."
And if Amazing Spider-Man 2 is any indicator, any hope I had for this series is going to be washed out. Like a spider. Climbing a water spout. When the rain comes. You know what I’m getting at! Maybe if we’re lucky, the next time Sony has to reboot the franchise to keep the license they will finally keep their hands off of the creative side of it. But until then, expect more disappoint. At least we still have Disney and Marvel showing us how to do superheroes right.

Jump to: Part 1 / Part 2

Lookout Hollywood, Jesus is my Co-Director!
By Darrin Jones / April 26

Movies are markers of the time we live in. We have films that recapture tragic events to invoke powerful emotions. We have films that exploit childhood nostalgia for fun and profit. So it's hard not to see a blatant attempt at pandering from Hollywood with their recent religious centered films that just so happen to coincide with the Easter holiday. So, what are these movies really about and who are they honestly suppose to apply too? I dunno, let's find out.
Son of God
Well this one is pretty straight forward. It's life and times of Jesus Christ right out of the Bible. No, not the book, the show. Yes, the film is a cut & paste job from a History Channel miniseries last year. Now, there are no shortage of Jesus origin stories in the world and this one doesn't really bring anything new to the table. But it isn't offensive and if you're interest in seeing the exploits of Jesus again, there's no harm in it. Just be prepared for a made-for-tv look but with big screen ticket prices.

God's Not Dead
This movie really bothers me. It's all about the advisably nature of a learned atheists bullying a stalwart Christian youth and these types of stories irritate me to no end. Because in such stories, one side is always shown to be in the wrong, period. Stock caricatures that hardly represent real, complex people. Movies like this are used only to poke-fun at whoever isn't in your camp. Which is a huge problem because it usually shuts down any meaningful discussion. With this flick, it either echoes your own convictions or it insults your sensibilities. And I would not recommend either.

Heaven is for Real
This one, well, it's a lot like if you re-made Phenomenon but substituted "aliens" for "heaven" and replaced the ever charismatic John Travolta for a child actor. But he's adorable I guess? Look above all else, this is a feel-good flick; even if it doesn't have enough quality material to really fill an hour and a half. It just isn't an entertaining watch. For me, the biggest issue is that there's no suspense to it. It tells you point-blank, "Heaven is for real" so there's nothing to look forward to. There's no mystery left.

For me, this was the most enjoyable watch out of the bunch. I've never seen an adaptation of a Biblical story that drew on the most fantastical elements and just ran with it the way that Noah did. It was like watching a Post-Apocalyptic flick that's actually a Pre-Apocalypse flick and I don't even know if that's a thing! I found the religious imagery to be perfectly suited. The message of faith is subtle and left open for interpretation. And as shallow as it sounds, the film had great special effects and the acting was entertaining. I personally hope more religious adaptations follow Noah's lead and just indulge themselves every once in a while.

Why Transformers: Age of Extinction May Not Be So Bad
By Darrin Jones / April 16

Proud ruiner of childhood icons and explosion fetishist auteur, Michael Bay, is at it again with another sequel to the increasingly critically panned Transformers franchise. And as someone that has seen all the Transformer films I can honestly say that Transformers #4, Age of Extinction doesn’t look all that bad. So here’s why I think the next Transformers film might just be a rare success in the series.
1. No Shia LaBeouf or Megan Fox
Yes, we are finally getting rid of that high-pitched squealing hard-to-work-with drama queen that’s blighted the Transformer movies until now; I wasn’t too fond of Megan Fox either. Just removing this insufferable pair would’ve been a vast improvement so you can guess how excited I was to find out that Mark Wahlberg would be our new human element in this series about massive fighting robots. I think Wahlberg is an incredibly likable actor and will give the movie some much needed sincerity and humor.

2. The Story Is Finally Centered Around Optimus Prime
The story picks up some years after the events of the third movie meaning that pretty much everyone knows about Transformers and either hate or fear them. And from the trailer, we get hints that that Optimus Prime has seen so much battle damage that he’s non-functional if not the robotic equivalent of comatose until he’s fixed up by Mark Wahlberg’s character. Compound this with the idea that the government are now actively wiping out all Transformers, including Autobots, and you’ve got the making of a great hero comeback story that’s actually based on fan favorite, Optimus Prime. For whatever reason, the series has never let Prime take main stage so this is a welcomed change.

3. It Introduces a New Villain
Let’s face it, the rivalry between Prime and previous big bad, Megatron, was growing stale. His plots were boring, he was getting boring. But here we mix it up a little with a Transformer that is neither Decepticon or Autobot; the bounty hunter Lockdown. That’s right, we got a giant robot bounty hunter trying to capture the leader of the Autobot resistance and their showdown is happening on Earth. This is the kind of Han Solo/Boba Fett action we didn’t even get to see in the Star Wars series!

4. It Doesn’t Wank Off the Military
It happened in every single Transformer movie so far. The big robot-on-robot fight scene happens but all the Autobots are pushed into the background so that the military can roll in to show off their big boomy guns. Now don’t get me wrong, it makes sense that there’d be some military presence when mechanical alien lifeforms are having a fistfight in the middle of a populated city. It’s just a shame that the Autobots are hardly ever given more then a few minutes of screen time during these scenes when it’s THEIR war that’s going on. Fortunately, that doesn’t look like the case here.

5. Optimus Prime Rides a Freaking Robot Dinosaur
Optimus Prime Rides a Freaking Robot Dinosaur!!!

Holy Laryngitis Batman!
Welcome back to Movie In A Blender where Houston, we have a problem. A growing sore throat problem has all but completely shut down my voice so there probably won't be any videos for the next few weeks. (This week for sure.) But have no fear, there will still be plenty of written reviews, movie news and opinions, and I am working on the next 'Coming Soon' comic at the time of writing this. 

So here's hoping my voice-threatening illness clears up soon so I can get back to the videos you all love...like...uh, tolerate? In any case, I'll keep the site updated with whatever it is that keeps you coming back for more.