If you have finished watching the film Spider-Man 2 (2004) and are looking for other movies like it, here is a list of options to consider.
The latest chapter in Sony's Spider-Man Universe makes Morbius look like a masterpiece.
In an age where the Marvel Cinematic Universe has categorically lost its luster, it's tempting to imagine how green the grass is on the other side of the hill. To imagine that someone, somewhere, is doing inventive work with some of America's most pervasive modern myths -- without the heaving strain of an interconnected narrative, a cast of over-it actors, or visual effects teams stretched beyond their breaking point. You won't find it, however, in the strangely-dubbed "Sony's Spider-Man Universe" -- that casually connected series of antihero films (the Venoms, Morbius) that attempts to cobble together its own Sinister Six from the contractual scraps Disney left Sony after its acquisition of Marvel Studios. And Madame Web, the latest grasp at superhero relevancy in a dying comic book movie landscape, is easily its messiest, most forgettable shrug in that direction.
It's astonishing to think that Sony could put out a worse product than 2022's Morbius -- a misfire of a mad-scientist picture that at least contained a few interesting images and the perverse sight of Matt Smith gnashing his pointy vampire teeth through a chopped-up villain performance -- but boy, Madame Web manages it. It's a passive whisper of a film, one that barely registers its own existence. The only reason someone would even deign to make it is because they're contractually obligated to maintain a specific character's intellectual property, not to mention a heaping stake of product placement from Pepsi. Continue Reading →
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Despite a challenging premise and an overlong runtime, the Hunger Games prequel makes the most of the hand it’s been dealt.
The character of Coriolanus Snow is an odd choice for a Hunger Games hero. In the original books and films, as played by screen giant Donald Sutherland, Snow was a cold-hearted, cruel dictator clearly meant to echo real world fascist leaders. Here, in the prequel story The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (say that five times fast), Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) is just a sensitive, emotional teen dreamboat whose main goal is to provide for his family in the wake of the violent revolution that tore apart Panem, the country formerly known as the United States of America.
It’s difficult to understand why author Suzanne Collins, who wrote the novel Songbirds is based on, made the decision to try to humanize a violent authoritarian when a core theme of the original Hunger Games books and movies was lashing back at systemic oppression. Nonetheless, director Francis Lawrence (Catching Fire, I Am Legend) and his enthusiastic cast of talented performers make the best of the rather thematically confused story arc they’ve been given, turning in one of the most exciting, emotionally arresting entries in the franchise. Continue Reading →
Meg 2: The Trench
Ever since James Cameron boldly wrote “S” after ALIEN on a chalkboard and then changed it to a dollar sign, the quickest way to sequel-ize your killer extraterrestrial/reptile/mammal/whatever has been to add more of it. You scored a hit with people fighting one giant mosquito? Great, here’s a sequel with six of them. Continue Reading →
Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
One of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One's earliest pieces of marketing was a trailer-by-way-of-behind-the-scenes featurette. In that clip, Tom Cruise, strapped to a motorcycle, rockets off the edge of a cliff in the Swiss Alps. He lets the bike drop away before popping his parachute and sailing into the horizon. It's one of the most death-defying sequences ever captured on film and, as we now know, it's one Cruise himself did again and again and again. The sequence, even devoid of context, sums up exactly what director Chris McQuarrie and Cruise (the two are also co-producers) hoped to achieve in Dead Reckoning: grade A movie spectacle. Continue Reading →
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
One of the things I enjoy most about the moviegoing experience is coming out of a film feeling as if I've actually learned something that I didn't know before, or had not even occurred to me in the first place. That's exactly the feeling that I got while watching Sam Pollard’s The League, a documentary about the history of Negro baseball leagues in America. Going in, I suppose I knew the basics about the subject and could name such key figures as Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, but Pollard, who previously directed MLK/FBI, and executive producer Questlove delve much deeper, and the results are indeed fascinating. Continue Reading →