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Watchmen (2009)

Rated R: For Intense Violence, and Strong Explicit Content and Language

Running Time: 163 minutes (2 hours and 43 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adaptation, Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction, Superhero


Released on March 6, 2009 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Legendary Pictures, DC Comics, and Lawrence Gordon Productions

Based on the comicbook mini-series "Watchmen" written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons

Writers: David Hayter and Alex Tse

Director: Zack Snyder

Starring:
  • Malin Åkerman as Laurie Juspeczyk / Silk Spectre II
  • Billy Crudup  as Doctor Jon Osterman / Doctor Manhattan
  • Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias
  • Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre I
  • Jackie Earle Haley as Walter Kovacs / Rorschach
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Edward Blake / The Comedian
  • Patrick Wilson as Daniel Dreiberg / Nite Owl II
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Alan Moore is one of my all-time favorite comicbook writers, and his work here in this phenomenal superhero antithesis mini-series, as well as his other works such as V For Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, shows that he is a different kind of brilliant. His popular run on Swamp Thing is also an honorable mention. It is because that he has written a large assortment of memorable, and at times, controversial stories that Hollywood wants to get their grubby mittens on a lot of his intellectual properties. And failure after failure, bomb after bomb, Moore has since decided to not take credit from any other adaptations of his works (except for the episode "For The Man Who Has Everything" in Justice League Unlimited). However, this movie is far from being one of the worst attempts at adapting a work by Moore. I really love this movie, as evidenced by the fact that we did include in our Top Seven Most Favorite Movies of All Time countdown. With the source material being eyed for a potential television program, we should probably take a look at this movie again. This is Dateline Movies, and today, we will review one of the most comic-accurate adaptation in history, Watchmen! This is my last spoiler warning, by the way. I am just getting too lazy to type that word again in each movie review. (Laughter)


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But before anything else, since we are reviewing a flick directed by Zack Snyder, let us take the time to send our prayers to him and his family, which was a coincidence since I was already working on this by the time the news reached me. We just received word yesterday that Snyder lost his daughter, Autumn, last March, and has since stepped down as director for the upcoming Justice League movie, having The Avengers director Joss Whedon take over post-production. In addition, other bits and pieces of tragic news have been flooding my Facebook feed, including the bombing in Manchester, and Syria, and the chaos that is happening in our country, The Philippines, at this moment, specifically in Marawi City. We also just lost legendary James Bond actor Roger Moore at the age of eighty-nine last night. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all the families affected, and may you find hope, wherever you are.

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What is the movie about?

It is the nineteen-eighties, and in an alternate world full of non-superpowered heroes, and one who does, the threat of a nuclear apocalypse is extremely imminent. Their heydays are behind them, after a law is passed. The heroes no longer fight crime, and they now live the remainders of their lives as average, everyday citizens, but that does not mean they should, not at a time like this.

October 12th 1985. Tonight, a comedian, or more specifically the infamous Edward Blake, The Comedian, played by Morgan (The Walking Dead), died in New York, and in the words of violent masked vigilante Rorschach, played by Haley, "Somebody knows why ... somebody knows".

To solve this murder mystery, Rorschach seeks information from his former partner-in-crime-fighting, the second Nite Owl, played by Wilson (Both Haley and Wilson appeared in Little Children), godlike government asset Doctor Manhattan, played by Crudup (Alien: Covenant), the second Silk Spectre, played by Åkerman (The Heartbreak Kid), daughter of the original, played by Gugino (Sin City), and high-profile corporate head Ozymandias, played by Goode (The Imitation Game). "Who watches the Watchmen?"

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What we think of the movie?

Acting = (5/5)

I have no words exactly to describe the excellence of the cast's performance. I cannot think of anything wrong about their performances. They are just awesome in their roles. Okay fine, it has been a long time since I have actually watched the movie in my DVD, and yes, I just skim through online notes for me to recall certain parts of the movie (I mean, hey, I have the attention span of an adolescent male who indulges in things that does not feel like chores), but during my second viewing way back when, the flick caught me spellbound.

My most favorite among these performances is none other than Jackie Earle Haley grandiose standout act as the morally ambiguous Rorschach. Among all of
the movies that he has worked in that I am aware of, which are few including the RoboCop Reboot and London Has Fallen, this has got to be the highlight of his career. With zero effort, Haley manages to embrace the darkness that follows Rorschach journey for justice, and in scenes such as the prison interrogation, wherein we learn about Rorschach's tragic origins, and the ending, wherein he demands Doctor Manhattan to kill him if they ever want to keep their secret a secret permanently, that really show Haley's acting talents. "I'm not locked in here with you, you're locked in here with me!" Oh man, that was awesome delivery!

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I would give these two next performances a tie. Billy Crudup's coldly charming portrayal of Doctor Manhattan, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan's delightfully sadistic portrait of The Comedian. Both character depictions shown with major personality flaws, with Doctor Manhattan becoming more and more detached from human emotion, and The Comedian just being a total sociopath, and the charisma of both actors help make these two characters likable. Now that I thought about it, Jeffrey Dean Morgan would make a great Flashpoint Batman (let us just say a Batman who kills), and I can see why they cast Billy Crudup as The Flash's father in the movies, given that both characters know a thing or two about messing with time and space.

Patrick Wilson as a superhero missing the glory days, and is basically Mister Incredible from The Incredibles without the superpowers or the family dynamic, gives this movie some much needed heart. Scenes such as Nite Owl witnessing Rorschach's death at the hands of Doctor Manhattan, and his attempt at avenging his mentor's death caused by a local gang showcase Wilson's knack for dramatic roles.

Malin Åkerman, a heroine struggling to live in a world that looks down on heroes and continue the legacy of her mother, the original Silk Spectre, makes a compelling presentation, and her chemistry with both Doctor Manhattan and Nite Owl II is believable. Matthew Goode makes a good sympathetic villain in the form of Ozymandias, a hero with villainous plans, but noble intentions, and Carla Gugino is spot-on as Silk Spectre I, a former heroine disillusioned by her once insurmountable fame.

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Direction and Quality = (5/5)

I have to say, Zack Snyder definitely knows how to work around a camera. Combined with his usual array of visual trademarks such as slow-motion, unrelenting amounts of violence and gore, and unique color palettes, with impressive cinematography by Larry Fong, and editing by William Hoy, Watchmen is a sight to behold. I also admire Snyder's decision to make use of actual sets instead of computer-generated set pieces. It is a real breath of fresh air from the usual dizzying madness that we have already seen in other cinematic works.

The costume designs, by Michael Wilkinson, are wonderful. Each and everyone of them, except for Nite Owl's and Ozymandias', looks just as they are in the comics. It is a nice touch to keep Rorschach's mask movements intact. For Doctor Manhattan's expensive CGI look, it is just awesome. It must have been quite the challenge to pull that one objective off!

I do notice some of the major changes applied to the overall design of Nite Owl's suit, as well as Ozymandias' attire. For those who have seen their comicbook counterparts' costumes, you might notice that the Nite-Owl dons a much more Batman-inspired battle suit, while Ozymandias takes, a paraphrase of Snyder's words, a parody of the suits shown in the reviled Batman and Robin movie, almost entirely discarding the much more over-the-top owl-themed outfit and the emperor-like ensemble, respectively. Actually, as much as I would love to see similar garbs, I think we can all settle for the ones done for this movie, because admittedly, they would look kind of ridiculous on-screen, although I would have loved to see a much accurate costume for Ozymandias.


The movie also incorporates some great fight scenes, including The Comedian's murder, the assassination attempt on the life of Ozymandias, and the prison break scene. And whoever thought about the introductory sequence, featuring the history of the heroes through the decades, including the rise and fall of the once premiere team Minutemen, is awesome, and it really sets the dark and moody atmosphere for the rest of the flick.

Master scorer Tyler Bates is back again, and from what we have heard from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we can already tell that he really knows how to make the perfect superhero movie sound when there is some noteworthy eighties songs in the track listing.

Also, this joke is getting repetitive, but was it even really necessary. Doctor Manhattan's ... ahem ... "lower parts" in each scene that he is in (except for the Vietnam War flashback)?


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Story, Dialogue and Flow = (3/5)

Confession, I did not actually read the original work, given that I am only a seventeen year old about to enter senior high and I still do not have a job to acquire income to make a purchase, so I rely mostly on Wikipedia to know more about the story. In addition, to help me get a greater insight on some of the more minor changes applied to the big screen adaptation, I had to watch CineFix's "What's The Difference?" video. So far, I can comment that the flick managed to add some pretty necessary changes to the story, and the results equal to much more layers of character developments.

Given the overall length of the story, an exact two-hour movie would not be made if every single bit remains. Some of these changes include the omission of the "Tales of the Black Freighter" sub-plot, a metafictional comicbook that draws parallels to that of Ozymandias' inner workings, such as motivations and his secret plan, character development progressions, and the ending. I am not going to elaborate on the ending just yet, due to obvious reasons, so stay tuned for that part.

Personally, I believe that it was alright to remove the "Tales of the Black Freighter" segment from the movie's story, since it would only slow things down even further, with the movie's pacing already being the most criticized aspect. However, while it is needed to completely justify Ozymandias' secret sinister plans, as it is in the comics, it does not fit in completely into the plot, similar to the additional backstories surrounding the complete Watchmen mythology.

And speaking of the film's duration, the movie does undeniably move in a relatively sluggish pace. There are just simply a lot of stories to go through, and from the perspective of people who have not read the comicbooks, such as me on my first viewing of the movie when I was only a nine-year old on video (I am kind of extreme in my movie tastes), there is just so much information to consume. I would agree with Terry Gilliam, one of the many directors who took a stab on the mini-series, that the source material would work better as television program. While I do appreciate the film for remaining incredibly faithful, maybe we could have trimmed a little bit of the story, but I am afraid that it might butcher the power that the comicbooks carried.

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I do not understand why some people are upset at Cold War backdrop, given that the comics is set in that time frame, although it would be interesting to see what would Watchmen look like in a much more modern context.

Also, I do like the addition of a sub-plot concerning energy. It is timely, similar to the story's main concept of the roles of superheroes in the real world, and it really does factor more into the ending, which makes it more sensible, compared to the one we saw in the comicbooks.

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Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (5/5)

Arguably the biggest change applied to the story is the ending, wherein Ozymandias' original master plan of unleashing a genetically-altered giant squid on New York City with the hopes of uniting the worlds' leaders, has been changed slightly, by having Ozymandias create bombs everywhere with Doctor Manhattan's energy signature, effectively framing him, that alteration seemed necessary. To be honest, the late addition of a monstrous squid, created visually with the aid of the artist for "Tales of the Black Freighter" (?) felt out of place, and this new conclusion is better.

The ending still carries the exact same magic that the books showed, including Doctor Manhattan's suddenly regaining interest in humanity after getting to know more of Silk Spectre II's history of being the secret child of the original Silk Spectre and The Comedian, and the heroes keeping the revelation a secret, so as to preserve world peace. However, I agree with others when they say that the ending here is better, as the inclusion of having Nite-Owl watch Rorschach stick up to his beliefs is heartbreaking, given that the two are close allies and friends, and his reaction, punching Ozymandias to no expected results, is made all the more personal.

Overall, the ending, showing that Doctor Manhattan has since retreated to Mars once more, and the heroes continuing their adventures despite world peace, is awesome, and it hits all the right emotional notes, just like the books. Alan Moore should be proud of this movie. Yeah, I know what he feels about all of the adaptations of his works, but this one, this one he should definitely take a look.

Overall Evaluation = (4/5)

A panel-for-panel recreation of one of the most beloved comicbook series of all time, this extremely faithful adaptation delivers the wonder that fans love, but perhaps maybe too much of the wonder for some to appreciate.

TOTAL = 22/25 (Awesome!)

Watchmen might have been way too faithful to the source material, but with visually breathtaking direction and emotionally dramatic performances from its leads, it more than deserves your attention.


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This is such an underrated movie, and it deserves more respect than it does right now. I admire Zack Snyder for fully committing to this film. You can really feel that he truly loved the source material as much as we fans appreciate it. And that is it for our review of Watchmen. Before we officially conclude all of this, be sure to leave a like on our Facebook page by clicking here. Normally, we post videos at the end of our posts, but we just decided to save it for the next post. It has been a quite the week recently. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!
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Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Rated PG-13: For Mild Disturbing Imagery, Mild Sensitive Content and Violence

Running Time: 106 minutes (1 hour and 46 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adaptation, Adventure, Cyberpunk, Mystery, Science Fiction

Released on March 31, 2017 (US Release Date, Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Arad Productions, Shanghai Film Group Corporation, and Huahua Media

Based on the manga "Ghost in the Shell" by Masamune Shirow

Writers: Ehren Kruger, Jamie Moss, and William Wheeler

Director: Rupert Sanders

Starring:
  • Scarlett Johansson as Major Mira Killian / Motoko Kusanagi
  • "Beat" Takeshi Kitano as Daisuke Aramaki
  • Michael Carmen Pitt as Kuze / Hideo
  • Pilou Asbæk as Batou
  • Juliette Binoche as Doctor Ouelet
  • Peter Fedinando as Cutter


Speed Racer and Dragonball Evolution, two of Hollywood's really horrible attempts at adapting some of your fondest childhood memories, have set the bar for other manga and anime adaptions really low. Now, get ready to have one of the most beloved manga of all time receive the Hollywood makeover, but this time ... it is watchable, but still not on the "masterpiece" level. The weird thing about this movie is that I only became interested with it because of just how decent it looked, and also the whole casting controversy. I may not be the biggest manga or anime fan, with that honor going to some of my weeaboo "Suicide Squad-mates", but I do know a potentially great movie when I look at one, and this movie had loads of chances to be amazing. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is our movie review of Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson. Spoilers, obviously.


What is the movie about?

In futuristic, dystopian Japan, which is strangely populated by people who are not Japanese, everyone has access to advanced technology in the form of "enhancements", bits and pieces of mad science that enable people to obtain new physical abilities and characteristics.

In this world, half-human, half-machine Major Mira Killian, played by Johansson (The Avengers), working closely with her trusted partner and confidant Bakou, played by Asbæk (Game of Thrones), under the leadership of Daisuke Aramaki, played by Kitano (Battle Royale), fights the growing crime wave as an agent of "Section 9". She has a past she cannot remember, and she feels as if she was never human to begin with.

One night, as supposed "glitches" of other memories start to surface, Mira encounters the mysterious cyber-terrorist Kuze, played by Pitt (I Origins), who is carrying a secret with regards to the Major, she must solve the mystery behind her creation, including her creators, Doctor Ouelet, played by Binoche (The English Patient), and Cutter, played by Ferdinando (High-Rise), and bring the true culprits in, but the truth might just be too much for her.

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What we think of the movie?

Acting = (3/5)

Scarlett Johansson is an awesome actress, and her performance as the main protagonist features her "action lady" persona that we are all familiar with, especially from her work in movies such as Lucy and as the deadly secret agent Black Widow in several installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the Major, Johansson delivers a very decent portrayal of an amnesiac cyborg starting to lose her touch with humanity. Okay, maybe her role here is cliched, from the mysterious past to the crime-fighting present history, but there is no doubt Johansson kicked butt as the movie's "Ghost in the Shell".

Michael Pitt is known for portraying rather chameleon-like characters, as in mysterious and peculiar behaving people who are just unpredictable. His role as Kuze, a seemingly villainous figure who carries a link to the Major's strange past, is again, much like most of the characters, cliched, but Pitt still pulls-off a good job.

Strangely, I cannot seem to find the words to properly judge the performances of the other cast mates. Personally, I blame the script for not really making a lot of the remaining characters unique from already established movie tropes. Despite this, though, the actors and actresses, at the minimum, put in some effort into their performances.

Asbæk, who portrays Batou, Mira's partner-in-crime-fighting, who is apparently a dog lover, has great non-romantic chemistry with Johansson's Mira. The legendary filmmaker "Beat" adds some energy to the movie as Major's superior in Section 9, and even having a standout moment for killing the movie's antagonist. Binoche and Ferdinando's performances are good as well.

Also, Rila Fukushima is here, as a hacked robot, who gets blown to bits in the opening sequence. Come on, guys.

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Direction and Quality = (5/5)

I am sensing a rather annoying trend in the modern movie-making industry, and that is spending all of the money on the best cinematographers, editors and visual effects experts in the business, and just make the story as the least priority. Yeah, there have been plenty of movies with a good story and spectacular CGI, but if you have not noticed it by now, there are a lot of blockbusters with the best special effects money can buy, but rather unpolished scripts. This movie follows that trend, sadly.

Again, the cinematography by Jess Hall, the CGI and the designs, costumes, especially the Major's "thermo-optical camouflage" suit, make-up and sets included, are very, very well done. The futuristic setting, complete with large, holographic advertisements, shines brightly, especially in the night. Although, if I were to be honest on what I really feel, I am getting a tad bit tired the same-old, same-old designs, since I have already seen the same type of structural concepts in other films set in a not-so distant future like Blade Runner, but overall, I can say that they did an impressive work with them. Besides, it is already hard to picture out other potential futures when the future is getting closer and closer.

I would like to give some praise to the people who designed the set for the "human network". I admire just how creepy and unnerving it is to behold. And the design? Wow, it is just phenomenal.


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It would really be a huge disappointment if a movie with this big budget had terrible fight sequences, and thankfully, with Rupert Sanders' steady hand, even though the movie lacks screenwriting creativity, we are offered to huge tons of visually stunning action scenes, which you may or may not consider as trying too hard to be in the same style as The Matrix's segments. However, do note that the magic of the fights might be undermined by the script's many problems, which is heartbreaking. The absolute best one is the opening part, wherein the Major fights hacked civilians in a geisha restaurant, while also using her camouflage suit to crash through the window as an entrance in slow-motion.

Like I said a few times before, I have a rusty memory, almost that of Logan's, so I decided to search the score done by Clint Mansell and Lorne Balfe, and while reviewing, it is unquestionably beautiful. When you close your eyes while listening to their musical pieces, it feels as if you are in a neo-noir cybernetically futuristic world, full of advancements. Sometimes, it make you feel as if you are in a different world. Trust me, I tried, and that is just how amazing the score sets the mood for the movie.


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Story, Dialogue and Flow = (2/5)

Caution: spoilers ahead! Avert your eyes, immediately!

As much as I admire the artistically exquisite cinematography, there is almost absolutely nothing that I love or enjoy about the story. Remember, I said "almost". I may review movies for a living (not really), but I would never dismiss something as entirely terrible without dissecting each part carefully.

Like I said earlier before, how the characters are written in this adaptation is far inferior than how they were portrayed in the manga and the anime works. Imagine if you combine that, by today's standards, worn-out elements established by other cult classic works of science-fiction such as the two movies we mentioned awhile back, and most especially and obviously RoboCop, and trade-out all of the philosophical themes and concepts heavily discussed in the source material, for one-dimensional and cliched characterization. It is because that all of the characters were uninteresting, and the story ultimately lackluster. We will discuss the cliches later, but let us continue further on with the story.

How Kuze's motivations are explained in the movie, which is revealed to his acts of revenge against his creators for being left for dead after being marked as a failed experiment, is predictable, and the revelation that ... spoiler alert ... Kuze and the Major, were actually Japanese (?), were close friends in childhood felt rushed.


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And speaking of these two being Japanese, this feels like a confirmation to the claims that the movie resorted to whitewashing. Okay, okay, I understand that the studio is aiming for international audience appeal in the form of Scarlett Johansson, and I would let that slide, and I would also accept an in-movie explanation that the reason they changed her appearance to that of Scarlett Johansson's as a form of "corporate decision" or whatever, but no. I am okay with Johansson's casting though. There was no doubt she was great for the role. It would have been better had they retained the nationality, or better yet, had the movie set somewhere else rather than Japan, or make a different movie, because why even set the movie in Japan when there are not even that much Japanese actors and actresses. Maybe I'm overthinking this part. 


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But like I said, there are some good bits. For example, as evidenced through the dialogue, we get to explore a few tidbits of the Major's struggles of not being entirely human, given her condition of being part-machine. It is a clear sign that there was some thought put into the script. The idea that Hanka Robotics, Cutter's company, is kidnapping innocents for experiments, is horrifying, and would have made Cutter a much more despicable villain had the idea been further expanded upon. The concept's interconnected network of minds, like a inter-neural cyberspace, sounds fun, as well as that part wherein people can hack through machines with their minds, but like all these three, they were not explored thoroughly.


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Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (2/5)

Like I said, none of the characters are entirely interesting, and the cliches are everywhere, such as the Major being your "average cop of tomorrow with memory loss", Batou being the "less-serious partner", Cutter being the "secretly evil businessman treating the good guy like property", and Oulete as the "shady creator". Add that up with borrowed elements from all of the sci-fi movies we mentioned back, and you have enough evidence to label the story as "derivative", or "unoriginal".

And as expected, lead heroine recalls the past, shady figure sharing a past with the protagonist join forces to stop the main bad guy, and the rest of her colleagues work hand-in-hand to stop the main bad guy Cutter. With Doctor Ouelet dead, after helping the Major escape, Cutter unleashes hell with a "spider-tank", which is basically the ED-209 from, you guessed it, RoboCop, with a spider theme. Kuze dies, offering to have their minds joined like the one done in the anime. The disappointing about this ending is that the leading lady does not even get to kill Cutter herself, but it was Aramaki who pulled the trigger. It is not entirely disappointing, but it would make sense and would make the Major's story reach a full circle.

Overall, the movie is just as predictable as you could have guessed, and the ending, while having a fun battle, felt empty. I just hope they could have tried a little bit more. I know they did, but maybe a little bit more.

Overall Evaluation = (2/5)

Technically brilliant but narrative-wise shallow, this movie is just another expensive and boring techno thriller that unfortunately does not do its insanely popular source material much justice, but it is okay at best.

TOTAL = 14/25 (Okay?)

Scarlett Johansson's amazing acting chops are wasted on this dull and forgettable rendition of Ghost in the Shell, an adaptation that has all the style but none of the substance that made the manga and the anime versions great.


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Hollywood is not gonna stop breaking fans hearts with many more, probably, adaptations, but we can always hope for a better possibility. But do remember not to hope too much, because I know how that felt while I was in Tenth Grade. Still, we have live-action versions of Akira and Death Note, with the latter to be shown through Netflix, a video-streaming giant known for some awesome programs, to wait-up for. Sigh. And with that, we end our review of Ghost in the Shell. And since we brought-up Death Note, here is the trailer, and if you are asking what I think about it, I would go with "I don't know". Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Rated PG-13: For Violence

Running Time: 142 minutes (1 hour and 22 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Superhero, Science Fiction

Released on April 30, 2014 (PH Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Marvel Entertainment, Arad Production, Inc., Matt Tolmach Productions and Columbia Pictures

"Spider-Man" Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Writers: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner and James Vanderbilt

Director: Marc Webb

Starring:
  • Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
  • Emma Stone as Gwendolyn "Gwen" Stacy
  • Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon / Electro
  • Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn / Green Goblin
  • Colm Feore as Donald Menken
  • Paul Giamatti as Aleksei Sytsevich / The Rhino
  • Sally Field as May Parker
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Do you remember when there was supposed to be a Spider-Man Cinematic Universe? (Laughter) Good times. Good times. It feels like only yesterday when the biggest web-headed misfire Sony Pictures made was released, and up to this day, my comicbook geek mind still ponders on what could have been, given that an OsCorp funded Sinister Six movie sounds particularly interesting. Then again, it was either that or an "Avenging" Spider-Man. Am I right? With Spider-Man: Homecoming, a hopefully much better movie than this one, swinging by theaters in a few short months, we felt the need to take a look back at the movie that was much more disappointing in contrast to Spider-Man 3. Join Dateline Movies as we review, The Amazing Spider-Man 2! Spoilers ahead, by the way, but honestly, who else has not watched this three years after release?


What is the movie about?

In the aftermath of his battle on the OsCorp Tower rooftop, Spider-Man, played by Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), has cemented himself as New York City's main superhero. Despite his alter-ego's rising fame though, Peter cannot help but shake the feeling that as his life becomes more and more increasingly dangerous due to the rising number of threats in the city, including gangster Aleksei Sytsevich, played by Giamatti (Straight Outta Compton), the closest people around him, his aunt May Parker, played by Field (Steel Magnolias), and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy, played by Stone (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) would soon get entangled in his deadly private world.

One day, Peter's childhood friend Harry Osborn, played by DeHaan (Life After Beth) enters the scene with a mysterious agenda and finds himself in a power struggle for his company with Donald Menken, played by Feore (Thor), and in another, unrelated event, nerdy Spider-Fan Max Dillon, played by Foxx (Django Unchained) receives electric-based abilities, and causes trouble! It is now up to Spider-Man to save the day again, but can he?


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Acting = (4/5)

Once again, Andrew Garfield, being the Spider-Fan that he is in the real world, makes the role his own, completely embodying the witty and wise-cracking nature of our spectacular spider-themed hero. His chemistry, given that they were a couple at the time (Yeah, they broke-up two years ago, but as we have seen in the recent Golden Globes event, all is good for the both of them), with Emma Stone is believable, and the duo's pitch perfect pairing gives the movie it's sweetest and the most relatable moments. Garfield's performance during ... spoiler alert ... Gwen Stacy's death was an emotional moment, which showcased his knack for more dramatic roles later on.

Like Garfield, Emma Stone's performance was top-notch, being more than just the love in Peter's love, but also his anchor, his hope, which is why her unexpected, but expected for those who read the comics and predicted this sooner, death at the hands of the Green Goblin is heartbreaking. Her graduation speech is really moving, and her performance made it more inspirational. Sally Field, as well, does a good job being Peter's trusty Aunt May, who up to this day, remains unaware of Peter's double life as a superhero.

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For this certain Spider-Man adventure, we are once again introduced to three villains, Jamie Foxx's Electro, Paul Giamatti's Rhino, and Dane DeHaan's Harry Osborn, just like in Spider-Man 3, featuring the Sandman, played by Thomas Haden Church (Divorce), Venom, played by Topher Grace (Take Me Home Tonight), and also Harry Osborn, played by James Franco (127 Hours). Despite the trailers suggesting that Electro is supposed to be the real threat at hand, it was the Green Goblin that managed to steal the show. With DeHaan's already established persona as the teenage bad guy lusting for power in Chronicle, this version of the Green Goblin is creepy and seriously malevolent. I personally enjoyed how he delivered the line, "You took away my hope, now I'm gonna take away yours". It really just gets under your skin when you hear that delivery.

However, what the trailers did not tell you was that there was another villain working from behind the scenes, and is technically not clashing with Spider-Man, but rather with Harry Osborn. Colm Feore's Donald Menken might be only appearing for a very limited amount of screen time, but with Feore's aptitude for playing supervillainous, formally-attired antagonists, the audiences are left with piqued curiosities, even if his character's inclusion is painfully and obviously shoehorned into the movie.

As for our two other villains, generally speaking, I guess they did the best they could. Jamie Foxx's version of Electro is just not my type, but I will give Foxx plus points for making Electro a sympathetic character, a socially outcast slash fanboy who just want to be like his idol. However, the script rushes Electro's characterization, which makes Foxx's effort fruitless. We will get to that later, but to sum-up this cinematic iteration of the electrifying character, he seems alright, even if it is not the kind of Electro, who is notably pretty ruthless in the comics, that I would appreciate. And yes, I will agree that he is more of a shy child here than a true menace, and that is one of the many things that bothers me about the movie.

And unfortunately for Paul Giamatti, his role as the Rhino is only reduced to only two key scenes, the exact beginning, and the very ending. But despite that, we did get to see what was in store, and like Jamie Foxx, his performance does not match his comicbook counterpart's personality, substituting his sympathetic interior and cold exterior for cartoonish antics. Oh well, at least he tried, but we can always blame the one's who asked him to perform as such.


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Direction and Quality = (5/5)

The movie is still entertaining in its own right, even though I still did not like the overall jumbled story at all, and at least it could have been worse, right? You can thanks the guys at the visual effects department, as well as Marc Webb's steady hand, and the crew's impressive costume design by Deborah Lynn Scott, editing by Pietro Scalia, and cinematography work by Dan Mindel, for making that happen. Also, I apologize for the editors, cinematographers and costume and production designers that I was not able to credit in various movie reviews. You guys did great job contributing to your respective movies!

Combined with crystal clear and eye-popping visuals, the flick featured a large roster of engrossing CGI-fueled battles that are not dizzying, thankfully, but are delightful to behold. My favorite would have to be the Times Square Battle between Spider-Man and Electro, as the various neon shades of the color blue light-up the Manhattan night sky, and moviegoers are treated to a superhero-supervillain battle that doubles as a visual art show.


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The highlight of the film for me, however, would have to be the music. Scoring legend Hans Zimmer, teaming-up with artist Pharell Williams, Junkie XL, who together with Zimmer worked on the astonishing score for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Johnny Marr, Michael Eizinger, and even Alicia Keys and Kendrick Lamar, plus the Neighborhood and others in bonus tracks, create the sound that this flick deserves. They truly are "The Magnificent Six", although the numbering might be wrong. Besides, I am not the biggest Kendrick Lamar fan, but his rap verse in "It's On Again" was great!


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Story, Dialogue and Flow = (3/5)

Spoilers. Duh!

Remember way back when,... when I said that the story of the flick is its heart and soul, and when the plot is terrible, the movie being reviewed might be in serious trouble? I do not know the exact time I said that, or posted about it, but let us just say that the plot of the movie is the biggest flaw that unfortunately weighed the movie down to the ground.

My main problem with this is the overabundance of foreshadowing that makes the average viewer question if there is even a story to tell at all. There are Easter eggs here and there, to the point that it just gets really irritating after you name drop every single character being teased in every single shot. This is exactly why Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 2, and some parts of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is disappointing for a lot of people. Every movie should have a story to talk about, one that focuses solely on the main characters' central conflicts, and this has just a lot to juggle through, and overall, the narrative structure is as unresolved as your solutions in your unfinished Mathematics examination. Add a lot of world-building concepts, and the story is left to rot in cinematic hell. Seriously, there is not a scene in OsCorp that goes by without an Easter egg, probably, like that part showing Harry reviewing OsCorp files, a brief shot of the Vulture's and Doctor Octopus' harnesses, cameos from other future villains like Felicity Jones as Felicia Hardy, and BJ Novak as Alistair Smythe, the inclusion of disposable and unrelated plot device, and etcetera.

And like I said, the movie is trying to tell a huge bundle of sub-plots, and with the overcrowded canvas, a lot of the characters, especially the villains, are left either underdeveloped or rushed to oblivion. One noticeable rushed character development is, as previously mentioned, Electro's, who simply goes from clumsy outcast into a wannabe God in less than a few minutes just because all the cameras are pointing at Spider-Man during the Times Square face-off. Another shoehorned plot point would have to be Gwen Stacy's decision to leave for Oxford in England. You know, if her character was going to die anyway, why is there even a need to explain that she is leaving? And why is the Rhino even here? Oh yeah, "world-building".

Also, as CinemaSins, I believe, pointed out, Spider-Man and Harry Osborn could have teamed-up in helping him find a cure for his disease, given that Harry has access to state-of-the-art technology. His transformation as well is forced, as he only transformed into the villain by the climax.


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Despite this, I am mostly intrigued by some of the story concepts, namely the fact that OsCorp is the source of much of the problems New York City faces on a regular basis. It would appear that OsCorp might just be more than just your average shady scientific organization, but rather a criminal empire in the making, and it really just shows as much of a devious power player OsCorp really is in the underworld. Hey, at least its is better than explaining that Spider-Man's rogues gallery came from random origin stories, but that would be nice serving as a break from the OsCorp story arc at times.

The inclusion of Gwen Stacy's death is a nice touch, which beats the usual "damsel-in-distress" cliche out of the park, although like much of the movie, it feels forced.


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Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (2/5)

While I was patient with much of its bigger flaws, it is the ending that made me feel a little bit hollow.

I was expecting a three versus one kind-of battle, similar to Spider-Man 3. Say what you want about that movie, but the final battle was great. So when all we got was a one-on-one battle, with Electro coming first, then Green Goblin, then finally Rhino in the forms of separate and nearly unrelated fight scenes in terms of circumstance, I was disappointed. Yeah again, I know you guys were trying to start a franchise, but please, please, please focus on the story a little bit more.

In addition, the fact that the ending had no payoff to any conflict in the story at all, and even Electro's death felt empty, even though it was a fun fight, except for the electric music in the background, made this conclusion really disappointing. All we got was, yep, a set-up for a now canceled third movie, and a Sinister Six movie. The highlight of the ending is no doubt the death of Gwen Stacy, but if it were not for the performances, this movie could have been a total disaster.

Also, what is up with the X-Men: Days of Future Past teaser?

Overall, this movie is not the worst comicbook ever, but it is one of the most disappointing.

Overall Evaluation = (3/5)

Sony Pictures learns the hard way that "more villains", and "more foreshadowing" does not mean better, as this crowded and unfocused movie ended up being a feature-length teaser for movies that will never come.

TOTAL = 16/25 (Pleasant Entertainment)

Fun story concepts, engaging performances, and impressive cinematic elements, including soundtrack and cinematography, sadly cannot save The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from trying way too hard to be a franchise launching pad.


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It really is a good thing Spidey is back where he belongs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and just so you know, I am glad that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 never happened. Why? Three words: Zombie Gwen Stacy. Yep, you read that right. And with that Sinister Six movie, they planned to have dinosaurs in it? And now, they are making a Venom movie with Tom Hardy, outside of the MCU. Come on, Sony. And that is a wrap for our review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and before you leave, jam to Nerdist's Spider-Man themed parody of Bruno Mars' "That's What I Like" song. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

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