Bro-Reviews: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Slightly better than the Guns ‘N Roses song.

It may be hard to believe, but the origin of Jumanji isn’t the 1995 Robin Williams film or the board game. “Jumanji” started off as 1981 children’s book written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. Over a decade later, it somehow got turned into a board game and then a Robin Williams vehicle, which was actually much darker and scarier than we remembered. Jumanji never saw a sequel, until Sony decided to capitalize on 90s nostalgia and announced they were rebooting the film for the sole reason that its name alone is still a recognizable property. Sony upped the ante however, by casting A-list stars in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black, and led many to believe reviving this property would be a worthwhile venture.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle starts off in 1996, where a father discovers a board game titled “Jumanji” and brings it home to his son, where it mysteriously turns into a video game and the son disappears soon after. Flash forward to the present day, where a cowardly nerd (Alex Wolf), a jock struggling with grades (Ser’Darius Blain), a smartphone dependent beauty (Madison Iseman), and a shy outsider (Morgan Turner) all find themselves in after school detention. It is there they discover the Jumanji video game, and are sucked into it as their polar opposite personality: a masculine hero (Dwayne Johnson), a short statured sidekick (Kevin Hart), a middle-aged fat man (Jack Black), and a butt kicking bombshell (Karen Gillian) respectively. In order to escape, they must complete the game, or risk being trapped in it forever.

While I recall memories of flipping through the children’s book when I was young, the 1995 Robin Williams film never stuck with me. So as a person who doesn’t have a strong affinity for the original film, I didn’t really care what they did with this unnecessary re-boot/ re-imagining. The set-up we have here is very Breakfast Club-esque, which at first comes off as contrived. It doesn’t help that the stereotypes for each real-world character are so over the top, with the nerd being overtly wimpy, the jock being a black teen who will get kicked off the football team if his grades don’t improve, the phone dependent popular girl being a vapid blonde, and the somehow unpopular but cute outsider being the one who challenges authority but then reverts back to being timid. Even though this set-up doesn’t last very long, you can’t wait to ditch the losers club finally get to our destination of the jungle with the A-list cast.

Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, and Dwayne Johnson in “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”

Once we get to the jungle, it’s a welcome change of pace, as each of the stereotyped teens interacting with each other in their new avatars is a delight. Obviously his storied career in comedy helps, but Jack Black comes across best as a middle aged obese man with the mannerisms of a ditzy social media obsessed teenage girl. Every time he comes on screen he’s a riot, and it’s nice to see Jack Black back after a long period of taking more serious roles and unfunny star vehicles (*cough* Gulliver’s Travels *cough*). Kevin Hart remains as screechy as ever, but his shtick still works well here and continues to be the go-to man in comedy. Even Nick Jonas shows off his chops in the film, and proves there’s life after the Jonas Brothers and his solo music career.

Not all the characters come across as memorable, however. It’s nice to finally see Karen Gillan without her blue makeup on when she’s Nebula in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but she doesn’t really resonate much other than her butt-kicking action sequences. Even Dwayne Johnson, arguably the biggest movie star on the planet, is fairly unremarkable in the film. Sure, it’s funny the first couple of times the hulking man acts insecure and sheepish, but in his attempt to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, somewhere along the way of filming this film he left his charisma at home. Even more forgettable than them is the villain, played by a drugged-out looking Bobby Cannavale. I’d attribute his lackluster villainous role to the fact that most video games’ main villains are fairly monotonous but that would be giving the filmmakers too much credit.

Even the big budget action sequences are meant to be ridiculous and thrilling much like a video game, but they never reach a level happening enough to classify them as entertaining. If anything, they’re just silly. The main highlight of the film other than Black and Hart is the character’s realizations that they can be the avatars they are in the game in their everyday lives as well. There’s something sweet and genuine about this realization that shows the film has some heart, and is a good lesson for young kids and teenagers out there who may be afraid to break out of their comfort zones. In that regard, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle proves there was something to be gained by re-booting/ re-imagining the otherwise bland Robin Williams 1995 version.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle may be on the whole an unwarranted project, but there have been more egregious re-boots/ re-makes. When the film focuses on Black and Hart doing that thing they do and shows its heart by telling audiences you can be the hero you play in your video game in real life, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle proves itself as a manageable journey. It’s biggest star and blockbuster thrills, however, leave much to be desired. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle may be able to prey on and revitalize 90s nostalgia for some, but for others, it’s an expedition into the jungle you can do without.

Rating: 2/4 Stars. Rent it.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Bobby Cannavale, Rhys Darby, Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, Missi Pyle, and Colin Hanks. It is in theaters December 20th.

 

 

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Bro-Reviews: All the Money in the World

On the money.

Ridley Scott is one of those directors that when he’s on his game, there’s no better director in Hollywood. When Alien: Covenant disappointed back in the summer, many began to worry about his next film setting itself up for an awards season run, All the Money in the World, Based on John Pearson’s 1995 book “Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty.” The film became embroiled in controversy when one of its stars, Kevin Spacey, was accused of sexual misconduct against several people, including under aged boys. In an effort to distance itself from the disgraced actor, director Ridley Scott pulled off the impossible task of re-shooting Spacey’s scenes with a new actor, Christopher Plummer, and editing Spacey out of the movie in time for the film’s planned December release. With all of the controversy and intrigue surrounding the film, did Scott’s gamble pay dividends?

Based on true events, All the Money in the World tells the story of the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul  Getty III (Charlie Plummer). Although he is the richest man in the world, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) refuses to pay his grandson’s ransom. With very little help and even less time, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), John’s mother, and ex-CIA operative Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg), must find a way to rescue John before it’s too late.

As mentioned earlier, the film was engulfed in controversy due to its association with tarnished actor Kevin Spacey, and somehow director Ridley Scott and newly cast J. Paul Getty Christopher Plummer were able to re-shoot all of Spacey’s scenes without the use of special effects. We all know Scott is a visionary director, and when he is on his A-game, he’s a force to be reckoned with. In an emergency and seemingly impossible situation, the fact Scott was able to finish the film in time for its release is an achievement in it of itself, regardless of the film’s overall quality.

The gamble manages to pay off immensely, as two veterans manage to deliver a film that undoubtedly benefits from Kevin Spacey’s re-casting with Christopher Plummer. Plummer embodies Getty to his core, a creepy, surly, cheap billionaire who only cares for things, not people. While no one would dare question his acting prowess, there was something about the early trailers with Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty that just felt out of place. Spacey was pancaked with makeup and special effects to resemble an elderly gentleman, and the studio wanted him instead of Plummer, who was Scott’s first choice, to play the role since he is a bigger name actor. Christopher Plummer is able to portray Getty in a manner that Kevin Spacey never could since Spacey is not an old man, and Plummer is able to personify Getty in expert fashion due to his elderly status. Plummer’s recent nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture is very deserved, and his performance should also earn him a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the Oscars as well.

Christopher Plummer in “All the Money in the World.”

His performance also lends itself well to the story, which is nothing short of harrowing and thrilling. Of course the film more than likely over dramatizes and possibly even adds fictitious events to this true tale, but Scott captivates us with J. Paul Getty’s greedy demeanor, the relationship between victim and captor, and the race to find Paul before he experiences irreparable damage.

Michelle Williams shines as Gail Harris, as she is able to convincingly portray a woman not only desperate to get her son back, but willing to do whatever it takes to do so, including fighting Getty’s empire. Her performance nabbed her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture- Drama, and could be up for an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress as well. Despite my initial concerns due to his presence in the film, Mark Wahlberg manages to acquit himself well in the film. Wahlberg avoids his action-star tendencies and instead trades them for a more calm and collected professional demeanor, which he is able to pull off well enough. Charlie Plummer also does a fine job as the kidnapped Getty, and his relationship with one of his captors, played by Romain Duris, functions well in the film and adds another layer of complexity to the kidnapping.

One aspect of the film audiences must get through, however, is the first hour of the film. While it starts off strong by showing us the relationship between J. Paul Getty and his grandson Paul, the first hour drags for far too long, as we are constantly reminded of how difficult it is to get ahold of the elder Mr. Getty and his unwillingness to pay his grandson’s ransom. This could have easily been trimmed to make the film shorter than its 132 minute running time, as we get the point very early on in the film.

Despite a whirlwind of controversy and a somewhat slow first act, All the Money in the World is a directorial achievement unlike any in the history of cinema and a compelling drama. Most studios and directors would have delayed a film’s release under All the Money in the World‘s circumstances, but in the hands of a true auteur in Ridley Scott, one has to wonder why we panicked for him, the studio, and the film in the first place. It also helps that its overhauling changes more than likely made for a better final product, but the performances nonetheless are nothing short of spectacular, chief among them Christopher Plummer’s. All the Money in the World is an on the money drama, and might walk away with a couple of Academy Awards along with some Golden Globes come this awards season.

Rating: 3/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.

All the Money in the World stars Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Charlie Plummer, Romain Duris, Andrew Buchan, and Timothy Hutton. It is in theaters December 25th.

Bro-Reviews: Roman J. Israel, Esq.

An unfocused narrative paired with a tour de force in acting.

Denzel Washington is as accomplished an actor there is in Hollywood. Whether you are a film buff or not, you can identify Mr. Washington easily, particularly by only saying his iconic first name, Denzel. One would think at this point in his illustrious career he may be slowing down, but past awards worthy roles in 2007’s American Gangster, 2012’s Flight, and 2016’s Fences prove he is only getting better with age. Pair him with screenwriter and director Dan Gilroy, who’s coming off the success of his directorial debut Nightcrawler, and Roman J. Israel, Esq. should be chalked-up as another victory for Denzel, right?

Denzel Washington stars as Roman J. Israel, Esq., a legal genius but socially inept lawyer who has spent years fighting the good fight for a small law firm in Los Angeles, California. When his partner in the firm unexpectedly experiences a health emergency, Roman finds himself working for the law firm of a former student of his partners’, George Pierce (Colin Farrell). After years of staying true to his values, he finds his morality being challenged due to a deadly case he’s working on with Pierce, while also starting a relationship with a civil rights worker (Carmen Ejogo).

Roman J. Israel, Esq. rests on the shoulders on its iconic star, and Denzel delivers more awardsworthy work as the titular character. Although the character is not entirely likeable, there’s something stunning about Denzel’s transformation into this very intelligent but people skills lacking lawyer. Washington has displayed unbelievable range and has carried films throughout his career, and once again displays his talents in this film.

One has to think it’s bizarre to see him share scenes with Denzel, but Colin Farrell is on his A-game. He may not be able to match Denzel blow for blow, but his supporting part should be highlighted and deserves awards consideration. Carmen Ejogo also delivers a fine performance as well, as she admires Roman’s quirkiness and sees him as an inspiring figure.

Denzel Washington and Colin Farrell in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

The issue that looms large over Roman J. Israel, Esq. is the film’s jumbled narrative. At its core, the film is about a man who abandons his selflessness for a short period of time only to realize it is this quality that makes him who he is. The film takes way too long to set this up, as its main story could be told in under two hours easily, but instead runs for an overlong two hours. Its heavy handedness is also glaring, as there are more subtle ways to depict a redemption story than having your leading man call himself a hypocrite at the beginning of the film and seeing him stray away from his magnum opus civil case to experience the luxuries in life once he is able to obtain them. Director Dan Gilroy made Nightcrawler such a taut, slick thriller back in 2014, so it’s curious to see just how this film managed to escape from him and be so distorted.

It doesn’t help seeing Washington’s character struggle in social situations continuously, which becomes more irritating than endearing after awhile. This is due to the fact Roman is the very definition of someone you wouldn’t trust to park your car. He would not only fail to follow instructions, he would attempt to explain why he didn’t do what you told him to do. This hypothetical situation is similar to many of the actions Roman takes throughout the film, making him rather obnoxious. This handicaps the film, as we typically want to sympathize with the protagonist of a film or at least have a reason to care about them. This is especially troubling when a film with a muddled narrative such as this one needs to be carried by the main character in order to make it a better film. That feeling doesn’t arise until the conclusion, and you’re more likely to react by saying “I told you so” rather than be sympathetic.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. isn’t a total misfire, but rather a missed opportunity. The film boasts a capable cast around its star, and features Denzel Washington in yet another tremendous performance. Had the film been more focused, less heavy-handed, and featured a more likeable lead, Roman J. Israel, Esq. could’ve been a nice little redemption story. Instead, what we get from Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a tour de force lead performance that can’t quite makeup for its jumbled narrative.

Rating: 2.5 Stars out of 4. Pay Low Matinée Price.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. stars Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Nazneen Contractor, Joseph David-Jones, Andrew T. Lee, and Shelley Hennig. It is in theaters November 17th.

 

 

 

Bro-Reviews: 2017 Summer Box Office Winners and Losers

Whether you’re a winner or a loser, box office revenue is down significantly compared to last summer.

The Summer movie season is officially over, after 4 long months, it’s finally over. While this summer had it fair share of winners that won the box office, their were plenty of losers, and boy did they lose. It’s now time to asses the winners and losers of the 2017 Summer box office.

Winner: Wonder Woman

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Gal Gadot in “Wonder Woman.”

The highest grossing film of the summer by a significant margin, Wonder Woman was a much needed win for the DC extended universe and showed girl power is alive and well in Hollywood. The film saw unprecedented holds from weekend to weekend over the summer, playing similarly to 2002’s Spider-Man en route to $406.8 million domestically, making it the 7th highest grossing super-hero film of all time and the highest grossing film ever directed by a woman.

Loser: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne in “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”

Valerian is a prime example of what happens when you let directors go into a CGI candy shop and allow them to lose their minds on screen. While visually striking, Valerian lacked star power and chose style over substance in this over-long, over-budgeted Star Wars wannabe. The film’s box office receipts didn’t help matters either, as it grossed a puny $39.8 million at the North American box office compared to its $172.2 million budget. A bomb indeed.

Winner: Marvel Studios

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“Marvel Studios.”

At this point, Marvel Studios has perfected the blockbuster formula. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 grossed $389.4 million in May, showing that Star Lord and the gang won’t be going away anytime soon. Marvel Studios was also able to reap the rewards of re-booting the Spider-Man franchise with Spider-Man: Homecoming in July, grossing an impressive $321.2 million during its theatrical run.

Loser: Former Franchise Tent-Poles

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“Transformers: The Last Knight”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”, and “Cars 3.”

Alien: Covenant, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Cars 3, Transformers: The Last Night. What do they all have in common? They are all franchises that at one point were box-office giants who presided as the kings of the summer movie season but have now all but exhausted ideas to the point that audiences have grown tired of them. While the international box office receipts helped prevent them from flat-out bombing and in some cases made them profitable, it’s time for studios to re-think their strategies in regards to tent-pole franchises.

Winner: War for the Planet of the Apes

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“War For the Planet of the Apes.”

A stunning achievement in motion capture and special effects, War for the Planet of the Apes is nothing short of technically brilliant. Add in the emotional component most summer box office films are missing along with enthralling action, and War For the Planet of the Apes proves you don’t have to be brainless to be a successful summer blockbuster.

Loser: Baywatch

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“Baywatch.”

On paper, Baywatch seemed to be a no-brainer. A summer comedy filled with beaches, bikinis, and the Rock would surely breed box office success, right? Unfortunately, incompetent direction, lazy joke writing, and exploitation of female bodies made Baywatch unwatchable, making it one of the biggest duds of the summer movie season.

Winner: Rotten Tomatoes

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“Rotten Tomatoes.”

If there were ever a time where the influence of the review aggregate site flexed its muscles, it was this summer. Films that boasted overwhelmingly positive reviews such as Dunkirk ($175.5 million) and Baby Driver ($104.3 million) enjoyed box office success and long theatrical runs. Maligned films such as The Mummy ($80.1) and The Dark Tower ($46.1 million) on the other hand saw their hopes and dreams of launching franchises either stall or end due to dog piling bad reviews.

Loser: The Summer Box Office

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For every financially and critically successful film released this summer, there was an even more financially and critically disastrous film released. Add in an August with very few appealing films, and the summer box office is down nearly 16% compared to last year and movie going attendance is the worst it has been in 25 years. One can only hope the looming Fall movie season can pick up the slack, but the 2017 box office appears to be experiencing diminishing returns.

Bro-Reviews: The Dark Tower

One (frustrating) step away from an epic.

Let’s face it folks, making a movie is never easy. Adapting legendary literature beloved by many people into a film is near impossible. This has never stopped Hollywood before, as “unfilmable” classics such as World War Z, Watchmen, Cloud Atlas, and Atlas Shrugged have all been adapted into feature length films, yielding mixed results at best. One of these classic works of literature that has also been label “unadaptable” is The Dark Tower by legendary author Stephen King. With an expansive universe that has been built for many years through numerous books, The Dark Tower could never get out of production hell, recycling through directors such as J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard. Years later, however, The Dark Tower has finally arrived in theaters, hoping to break the “unadaptable”/”unfilmable” curse.

The Dark Tower sees 11-year-old child Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) experiencing nightmares of a parallel universe called “The Mid-World”. Convinced his dreams are true, Jake sets off for an adventure to explore this universe, which he eventually discovers and befriends Roland (Idris Elba), a Gunslinger sworn to protect the Mid-World. Roland is on a quest to find the Dark Tower, the nexus point between time and space, in hopes to save all existence from extermination. However, Walter o’Dim/ The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) is hot on the unlikely duo’s trail, and the two’s mission appears to be near impossible to complete.

Throughout the development of the Dark Tower, rumors circulated the film was too big for director Nikolaj Arcel to grasp, with initial test screenings panning the film for being too convoluted and lacking in special effects. This of course led to re-shoots and studio interference to try to make the film more accessible to mainstream audiences in the hopes of making a bankable summer blockbuster. As I stated earlier, The Dark Tower has always had the reputation of being near impossible to adapt to the big screen, and that’s the case for many of Stephen King’s works. The Dark Tower was more than likely never going to be the epic hardcore fans had hoped for, but as it stands, there’s evidence The Dark Tower was closer to being an epic than one might have originally thought.

Idris Elba continues his ascension to the top of the A-List with his turn as Roland. Elba is undeniably cool as the legendary gunslinger, and he projects his sense of frustration and seemingly aimless wandering due to the damage Walter o’Dim/ the Man in Black has done to the Mid-World and all of the other gunslingers. The Dark Tower serves as further proof the Elba is an actor to be reckoned with. Matthew McConaughey is delightfully creepy and suave as Walter o’Dim/ The Man in Black, and appears to be having a blast in the role. He’s also able to convey a sense of dread and impending doom every time he appears on screen, once again adding another tremendous performance in McConaughey’s “McConaissance” that has been going strong since 2011’s The Lincoln Lawyer. Although there are moments of bad child acting, Tom Taylor is an appealing enough actor as Jake Chambers to display his wonder when first encountering the Mid-World and eagerness to help Roland, as he and Elba as make for a nice duo.

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Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba in “The Dark Tower.”

Of course, one would be remiss if they did not mention whether or not the Mid-World is realized in any fashion. There’s definitely enough imagery within the film that makes King’s parallel universe come to life, which is impressive considering the film’s muted $60 million budget. Scenes in which children are being strapped to machines and using their “shine” in an attempt to bring down the tower are frightening and original, giving the film a much needed chilly atmosphere. This atmosphere is also bolstered with the barren wasteland of the Mid-World, an abandoned theme park, a village safe haven, and secret Mid-World societies in the heart of New York City Roland and Jake come across during the film’s 95 minute run time.While the special effects are nothing to marvel at, they’re good enough to be passable in a film that clearly had budget restrictions.

However, therein lies one of the issues preventing The Dark Tower from rising above an otherwise conventional fantasy film. Although I’ve said it before, it needs to be said again; The Dark Tower was never going to have a seamless transition to the silver screen. King has written 8 books in the series, and never truly concluded his epic saga. With that in mind, it’s very disappointing the film was restricted to a lower budget and not allowed to be the $100 million summer blockbuster it could have been in order to have the Mid-World and all of its intricacies come to life. Action scenes involving the creatures of the Mid-World are so dark you can’t really follow what’s occurring on screen, somewhat muting the film’s otherwise stylish and pulpy action sequences. It would have been even more terrifying to see all of the monsters and creatures Roland gives exposition about when explaining how the tower guards the universe from such monsters and then see him do battle with them. The film also feels hacked to the bone at 95 minutes, and one cannot help but feel the studio interference in the film in order to make the film more appealing to a wide audience. At 95 minutes, the film could’ve used an extra half hour of set-up, exposition, and action to make The Dark Tower be the epic film it should have been.

Also plaguing the film are the 20 minutes or so we see Jake in the real world/ keystone earth. Much of the dialogue during this time is laughably bad, and it does not help that the young actors in these scenes clearly needed another take or more acting lessons in order for them to not come across as actors but as actual children living in New York City. On top of that, the ending of the film clearly has a rushed, “we ran out of money” vibe, leaving one with somewhat of a sour taste in their mouth as they exit the theater.

By no means is The Dark Tower a great movie, but it’s not terrible either. Considering most of the other Stephen King films such as Pet Sematary, The Mist, and Dreamcatcher that were all quite bad, The Dark Tower stands as one of the better Stephen King adaptations.  Unfortunately, one cannot but help but feel the studio interference onscreen while watching the film. The result is a near epic film that needed more time and money to have Stephen King’s legendary vision fully realized, rendering it somewhat conventional. Despite the feeling of what could have been, The Dark Tower is bolstered by Elba’s and McConaughey’s performances, has enough imagery, and stylized action to justify a trip to the theater.

Rating: 2.5/4. Pay Matinée Price.

The Dark Tower stars Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kanz, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Jackie Earle Hayley, and Dennis Haysbert. It is in theaters Friday, August 4th.

Ranking the Spider-Man Films

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has had quite the film history.

Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into theaters this weekend. Critical buzz surrounding the film has been nothing but positive, but the same cannot be said of all of Spidey’s films. With five films to his name, here is the definitive ranking of the web slinger’s films.

5. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

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“The Amazing Spider-Man.”

It had been just five years since the last release of a Spider-Man film, but that didn’t stop Sony from wanting to go to the bank again. In an effort to retain the rights to the hero or risk losing him to Disney’s Marvel Studios, Sony hired 500 Days of Summer director Marc Webb to direct a re-boot of the web slinger. Andrew Garfield was cast as Peter Parker/ Spider-Man, and Emma Stone was cast as Peter’s original love, Gwen Stacey. While all of these elements should’ve made for a compelling film, The Amazing Spider-Man was a woeful misfire. From boring a villain (*Rhys Ifan’s Lizard was nothing short of a mini-Godzilla knockoff*) to a love story that made the Twilight films’ love triangle look eventful by comparison, The Amazing Spider-Man is a prime example of a soulless studio film made to retain the rights to a popular property in an effort to cash in. Many believed Marvel Studios/Disney and Sony should team up after the lack of success for the film, but that didn’t happen until after the release of…

4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

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“The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”

The Amazing Spider-Man is marginally better than The Amazing Spider-Man thanks to Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Max Dillon/Electro. Yes, the filmmakers made up his powers as the film went along, but he’s one of the coolest comic book villains to ever appear on screen. Otherwise, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a prime example of franchise fatigue. The Green Goblin appears as a villain once again, the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey reaches embarrassing new heights despite ghost dad Captain Stacey appearing numerous times to warn them of their doomed relationship, to the blatant product placement, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a mess. Sony’s plan of creating their own cinematic universe/ spideyverse by teasing the costumes of the Sinister Six, Spider-Man’s arch rivals, fell through due to the film’s lack of commercial and critical success, leading to them sharing custody of their beloved hero with Disney/ Marvel Studios.

3. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

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“Spider-Man 2.”

*UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT.* Spider-Man 2 is not a good movie. Why does Doctor Octopus rob a bank when he could just steal the equipment needed to re-do his experiment of creating a mini-sun? Why is Peter Parker, a scientific genius, turned into an idiot who can’t deliver pizzas on time and doesn’t realize he could sneak through a window to see his girlfriend’s play? Why do Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson fall into the typical romantic comedy trope of not communicating and have relationship problems? Why is Doctor Octopus fat? Call it nit picking, but Spider-Man 2 is not one of the best comic book movies ever. Turning Doctor Octopus into a sympathetic figure was a mistake, having Spider-Man’s powers start to fade due to Peter’s complicated life made little sense, and the climatic battle sequence was one of the biggest yawn inducing affairs of all time. Had it not been for the subway action scene, Spider-Man 2 might have placed even lower on this list.

2. Spider-Man 3 (2007)

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“Spider-Man 3.”

Director Sam Raimi wanted to have the Flint Marko/ Sandman be the main villain. Sony interfered and wanted Eddie Brock/Venom. As a compromise, both were included in the movie. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom and the lack of Venom in the movie, he served his purpose. While making Flint Marko Uncle Ben’s killer was a big-middle finger to the audience, his back story was still well done. Mary Jane Watson continued to be the worst girlfriend ever, but those signs were seen back in Spider-Man 2. Yes, the ending is terrible. But the action sequences deliver and are thrilling. The rivalry between Harry Osborne (*played by a gleefully over the top James Franco*) and Peter Parker is palpable. Peter Parker’s battle with the black suit/ symbiote personality is compelling and sees one of the most comical moments in super-hero film history as a dressed in all black Peter Parker dances around New York City to James Brown. Many will disagree with me and say Spider-Man 3 is an awful film, but I believe Spider-Man 3 is misunderstood and should be regarded as one of the better films in the series.

1. Spider-Man (2002)

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“Spider-Man.”

Spider-Man to this very day rests towards the top of my all-time comic book movies list, easily making it the best Spider-Man film to date. With the exception of having Mary Jane Watson appear as Peter Parker’s first love, the origin of Spider-Man is done perfectly. From Peter taking down school bully Flash Thompson all the way to his heroic display at the World Unity Fair, Spider-Man’s origin was done correctly. Tobey Maguire’s portrayal as the web slinger is still one of the best super hero performances of all time, and Kirsten Dunst gives Mary Jane Watson the “girl next door” vibe that would’ve melted any man’s heart. Cliff Roberston’s Uncle Ben had the emotional resonance needed to propel Peter into the life of a hero. While many scoff at his costume, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin is frightening and intimidating, making him one of the finest super villains ever. It’s a wonder how in their first attempt at one of Marvel’s most popular heroes that Sony was able to make a near perfect super hero film. One can only wonder what could’ve been had the other two sequels lived up to this first film and had the franchise not been re-booted far too soon.