Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday Talkback: Biggest Summer Surprise

Now that summer is over, what wide release surprised you the most?

For me, it was probably The Amazing Spider-Man.  I was pretty skeptical of a reboot coming on the heels of the fairly strong Sam Rami series that launched a mere ten years earlier.  The fact that the newest adaptation was made in large part to ensure that Sony held onto the rights rather than let them revert back to Marvel also suggested a rather cynically-produced production.

And then there was the fact that they were retelling the origin in detail.  That seemed to promise that the film was going to cover ground already excellently done in the first Rami film, or that it would make changes largely for the sake of being different.  To be fair, I did get a distinct whiff of the latter, though it wasn't nearly as detrimental as it could have been.

And yet.... there was a lot I ended up liking in the film.  I still think Rami's first film is a stronger origin and I prefer the tone and style of that movie to the new one.  Also, no one will ever convince me that The Lizard is less ridiculous than the admittedly silly Green Goblin outfit - but despite that the film worked well enough for me.  In particular, I thought that Emma Stone was a big step up as the romantic interest.  While Andrew Garfield comes up even with Tobey Maguire performance-wise, Garfield's chemistry with Stone is absolutely a cut above the pairing in the previous series.

A close second for me would probably be Ted. This is largely because I'm not the biggest fan of Family Guy's style of storytelling.  (You know the episode of South Park where Cartman rails against Family Guy?  I'd voiced a lot of those criticisms for years before that episode was produced.)  Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Seth MacFarlane didn't rely on the non-sequitir type of humor much at all in this film.  (The flashback that riffs on Airplane is pretty much the only concession in this direction.)

So how about you guys?  What suprisingly worked or didn't work for you?


  1. The two big surprises for me this year were:

    1. Like you, I was kind of surprised how much I enjoyed Amazing Spider-Man. I saw it at a theater in Ohio with my brother because it was the only time he and I were going to be in the same city the entire summer and we wanted to catch a big superhero blockbuster while we could.

    And despite the reboot-y nature of it, I actually really enjoyed it. I thought there were some really strong performances out of the supporting cast (although, let's face it, I would pay to watch Martin Sheen do his taxes), and that I actually liked Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man a bit better. Macguire was an excellent Peter Parker, but I always felt his Spider-Man a bit humorless. Peter may be full of angst, but Spidey is where he can blow off all that steam and be the guy he really wants to be.

    2. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Mostly because apparently me and my friends are the only ones who enjoyed it. Honestly, I don't think it takes itself as seriously as everyone else does. I mean, for Pete's sake, there's a scene where one of Lincoln's real-life political advisors power-slides a horse-drawn carriage throw a plantation wall and decapitates a vampire with it. How is that not fun?

  2. I quite enjoyed John Carter. The movie was visually spectacular, had an interesting story and characters, and didn't take itself too seriously. I thought it was the perfect summer popcorn movie, and I'm bummed that it flopped so hard because it's the kind of movie I would like to see more of at the multiplex: fun with substance.