Wednesday, August 8 2012, 03:45 PM MDT
Recommended Films: July 7 - July 12, 2012
Reviews of Films showing in Salt Lake City this week
by Ryan Painter
1. The Avengers (PG-13)
2. Prometheus (R)
3. The Amazing Spider-Man (PG-13)
4. Brave (PG)
5. Snow White and the Huntsman (PG-13)
1. Brave (PG)
2. Madagascar (PG)
3. The Pirates! Band of Misfits (PG)
4. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (PG)
5. Chimpanzee (G)
1. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13)
2. Moonrise Kingdom (PG-13)
3. Safety Not Guaranteed (R)
4. Your Sister’s Sister (R)
5. To Rome with Love (R)
The Amazing Spider-Man
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director • Marc Webb
Starring • Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans
Rated • PG-13
Recommended to • Fans of superhero films that build a solid foundation for upcoming sequels.
When Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) discovers some of his missing father’s research he is led to Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s former partner and head scientist at Oscorp Industries.
Ten years ago Sam Raimi helped kick off Hollywood’s love affair with superheroes “Spider-man.” The film was followed by two sequels. The first, “Spider-man 2,” is considered by many to be a masterpiece. The second sequel was something of a disaster derailed by Columbia Pictures’ insistence that the character Venom play a major role. Their meddling effectively killed off the series. Five years later the studio is re-launching the series with “The Amazing Spider-man.”
The first half of “The Amazing Spider-man” treads water as it essentially tells the same story that was seen in Raimi’s first film. The details are changed up a bit, but the bulk of the story behind the origins of Spider-man remains the same. Fortunately the second act changes things up a bit as it focuses on Peter Parker’s friendship Dr. Curt Connors and budding romance with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are two of the best young actors in Hollywood and their performances are quite good. Those who found Tobey Maguire’s performance lacking won’t have anything to complain about here. Unfortunately Rhys Ifans’ Dr. Connors isn’t nearly as interesting as Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn, but that’s hardly Ifans’ fault.
The bottom line is that “The Amazing Spider-man” is as good as Raimi’s “Spider-man” was and has me looking forward to future installments when the story hopefully moves further away from what we’ve already seen.
2.5 out of 5 Stars
Director • Oliver Stone
Starring • Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch and Blake Lively
Rated • R
Recommended to • Those looking a watered-down Quentin Tarantino film that isn’t quite sure if it’s a B-movie or a misguided drama.
Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) share a profitable marijuana business and girlfriend O (Blake Lively). Life is perfect until a Mexican drug cartel decides they want a piece of their business.
“Savages” doesn’t seem to know if it’s meant to be taken seriously or if it’s just a big-budget B-movie. Benicio Del Toro, who stars as the cartel’s enforcer, chews up the scenery with an over-the-top flair while Johnson, Kitsch and Lively seem to be vying (unsuccessfully) for Academy Awards. The script, adapted from Don Winslow’s novel by Winslow, Shane Salemo and director Oliver Stone, has the tendency to stray into soap opera melodrama. The film’s schizophrenia is further established by Stone’s choice to include two endings. One that somewhat mirrors the novel and another that is completely incredulous. Needless to say “Savages” is not Oliver Stone’s finest hour.
Katy Perry: Part of Me
3 out of 5 Stars
Directors • Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz
Starring • Katy Perry, Shannon Woodward and Rachael Markarian
Rated • PG
Recommended to • Katy Perry fans
The story of Katy Perry’s rise to pop stardom and the trials and tribulations that the starlet endured along the way.
I’ve never been a fan of Katy Perry’s music and always was bewildered by the idea that she has been marketed to a pre-teen audience despite the constant sexual innuendo that exists in her lyrics (this is also reflected in the film’s “PG” rating). That said, “Part of Me” does a very nice job of selling Perry as someone who is more than a vapid character as it chronicles her struggle to keep her identity as the music industry tried to shape her into someone she wasn’t.
Her work ethic is impressive, her dedication to her fans is amazing and her loyalty to those who helped her get to where she is as touching as it is unusual. Not that being Katy Perry is as glamorous or carefree as her teenage dreams suggested as we’re also shown the slow disintegration of her relationship with husband Russell Brand.
All in all “Part of Me” is far better than I expected and while I don’t think it will appeal to those who don’t like her music I did leave the theater with more respect for Perry as an artist.
To Rome with Love
3 out of 5 Stars
Director • Woody Allen
Starring • Woody Allen, Penelope Cruz and Jesse Eisenberg
Rated • R
Recommended to • Fans of typical Woody Allen absurdity.
Rome, a city where lovers walk the streets, undiscovered talent sings in the showers, architecture inspires and the unremarkable are made famous overnight.
“To Rome With Love” might be the first anthology that Woody Allen has done in years but it still feels like a traditional Woody Allen film with all the quirks and peculiarities that populate the majority of his films.
The cast, which includes Allen, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, Alison Pill, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page and Roberto Benigni is quite amicable and keeps the strange world of Woody Allen’s Rome from becoming too cartoonish. “To Rome with Love” doesn’t have the magic or mass appeal of “Midnight in Paris, ” but it will appeal to Allen diehards.
(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)