Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Jim Croce, Robert Altman, the military industrial complex, and bed hair: a conversation about X-Men: Days of Future Past

(W. and I enjoyed discussing X-Men last Saturday morning on the sun deck.)

FD: We're here to talk about how and why we both liked X-Men: Days of Future Past.

W: On a fundamental time travel movie level, there are Inception-esque qualities to it.

FD: Ellen Page.

W: That's an interesting connection. I didn't think of that.

FD: Ellen Page didn't need to act in the film. She doesn't have that major a role, but part of the fun of the film is that she's just involved, and that's all we need. She's part of the gang.

W: And her powers are a little strange because she can phase through walls but also apparently time travel, which you'd think would be infinitely more useful. I loved the cool conceit of the hook in which the mutants constantly get massacred over and over because they've been found out, but then they warn their past selves not to go to that location so they don't get massacred.

FD: Right. What are the things called again?

W: Sentinels.

FD: They basically seem to be flying around in stand up vertical coffins.

W: It reminded me of something like Tron, the evil monolithic Tron machines, the whole cityscape, only more purple.

FD: When the movie goes back to 1973, I kept thinking of Robert Altman's Nashville (1975). The filmmakers picked a good era. X-Men: Days of Future Past affected me much as Tim Burton's Dark Shadows did. Part of the pleasure came from the period details, the music, and the fashion sense.

W: There's nice touches like when they used the old time camera to film Mystique's big reveal when she falls out of the window.

FD: The political theater involving Richard Nixon reminded me a lot of--

W: Of Watchmen.

FD: But also the big political event in Nashville and the tacky period costumes. Meanwhile, Trask (Peter Dinklage) comes up with these early versions of the Sentinels and they're fun. They're like Titanfall robots, but they don't seem like anything anyone could realistically produce in 1973.

W: But they're made with a special polymer that has no metal.

FD: Trask's miniature size serves as an ironic commentary on his villainous qualities, like Mini-Me being the chief bad guy of the film.

W: Trask was the elephant in the room, and you could attribute everything he does, his entire back story stems from the fact that he's small. He's got a speech where he claims that humans need to defend our species. Otherwise, his motivation is a little weak. Why does he want to kill all of the mutants?

FD: All of the X-Men movies invite you to identify with mutants because it encourages you to think that any oddity that you may have should be defended against everyone else who exist on a lower level of evolution.

W: Right. There's all these socio-economic connections that you can make. X-Men: First Class was specifically about gay rights. One of the characters says: "You didn't ask so I didn't tell."

FD: Right.

W: Fundamentally, Professor X is Martin Luther King and Magneto is Malcolm X. One is for mutant integration with society and the other is for mutant dominance by "any means necessary."

FD: What would you say the political issue is that underlies this film?

W: They bring up Vietnam, but I don't know how that really connects.

FD: Vietnam would be a matter of intervention in another country over communism. The mutants arrive in Vietnam briefly and then they leave.

W: This film caters to the Quicksilver sequence where it's more about the fun time travel parallelism. I noticed a similarity to Cloud Atlas at the end (in part because Halle Berry's in it), but then you have similar shot compositions--superheroes rising up in parallel moments.

FD: Cross cutting?

W: Match on action.

FD: Superheroes tend to have certain poses, like you bend your back back, and you have your arms out as a way to expire. You use your power, you ascend, a lot of Christ imagery. Perhaps the major time travel theme of the film is the relationship that the older man can have with his younger self. James McAvoy plays a useless younger man, an addict. He's given up. His older version has to reassure that younger version that he can do it, that he has the power.

W: Yes.

FD: You also have the subversiveness of Quicksilver, who is fast but largely shiftless. The younger useless men change, become more responsible, and much of the tension of the film stems from the resistance between the two different ages. Oddly, of all people, the filmmakers bring in Wolverine as a negotiator, because Wolverine himself is something of a punk. Meanwhile, McAvoy's Xavier has the key character arc.

W: Interestingly, in X-Men: First Class, Mystique) Jennifer Lawrence is ashamed of her powers because she looks like a blue mutant thing, and Professor X gets off pretty easy because he just read people's minds. Days of Future Past taps into how once you've had a traumatic event happen to you, being able to read everyone's mind in the world becomes a huge burden, and it's killing. I don't think any comic book conveys how once you read someone's mind and feel all of his/her pain and all of his/her suffering throughout his/her entire life, that that would get old and maybe you would just want to walk around and do drugs all day.

FD: Xavier seems to injecting something that strongly resembles heroin.

W: You are made to think it was heroin at first.

FD: Both McAvoy and Fassbender have good roles. The people who get the best special effects out of their mutant talents end up having the best roles. After all, what really motivates Magneto beyond the fact that he can have these great scenes where he can lift train tracks, or throw around small metal balls creatively?

W: That's a direct reference to the second film. Ian McKellen murders people with two little balls.

FD: Is Magneto good or a villain?

W: Yes, he's a villain with a cause. He wants to murder all of the humans.

FD: Why doesn't he do it more often?

W: Because he's making a political statement. That's a cliche of all of the X-Men movies, where Magneto initially seems like a fun friend to have along, pal around, play some chess with, and then he threatens to the entire power structure of the United States.

FD: Wasn't he trying to save John F. Kennedy, or was that a lie?

W: I found it amusing that JFK proves a mutant. He's one of us! (laughs)

FD: I wonder why I liked Quicksilver so much in his big scene where runs circles around everyone inside the Pentagon. As everyone freezes in slow regular time, he can subversively do whatever he likes--sample the food, cause the guards to punch themselves. It reminds me of the pleasures of being invisible, and there's something about combining that with Croce's song "If I Could Save Time in a Bottle" that affects me nostalgically, a humorous sweet little ballad, all combined with the revolt against the police too.

W: It's prankish behavior.

FD: He messes with the government, the military industrial complex, the police.

W: It works on several levels.  

FD: Muck with various forms of the Establishment. That's the scene where the movie clicked into focus and got really good suddenly.

W: My only problem with that scene is that it establishes Quicksilver as an invincible God who can stop time, and it left me wondering: why don't they just use Quicksilver for most of the movie?

FD: Yes. Why does he go away?

W: He could be so helpful.

FD: Meanwhile, Mystique has this stubborn drive to kill Trask, and Xavier keeps trying to reason with her. We all know that she's wrong. Why don't the other major mutants explain the situation better to her?

W: They try.

FD: Why don't they literally lay out exactly what will happen if she kills Trask or not kill him?

W: I don't know.

FD: She's a trickster figure, like Quicksilver, and can change identity. Just as Bugs Bunny can mimic a female, she can change into a man. But ultimately Mystique's character is limited by the fact that she's being kind of obtuse.

W: She's pretty one note. In First Class, the filmmakers refer to when she switches from Professor X to Magneto at the end of that movie. She joins the dark side, as it were. She becomes Magneto's right hand woman. That switcheroo was never all that convincing. It's problematic in this film when X tries to appeal to the Raven side of her. There's never that much of a change from her earlier more innocent self to the killer. She was always a bad-ass.

FD: True.

W: Why does Magneto lift an entire baseball stadium to place it over the White House?

FD: It creates a nice frame for the scene. (laughs)

W: (laughs)

FD: I had problems with the way X-Men: First Class boiled down to a bunch of multicolored mutants flying around doing amazing things. We tend to lean towards the superheroes who have less power, such as Batman, who is just human, or Captain America, who is a slightly exaggerated human. Superman gets so tiresome so fast because he's all powerful.

W: Wolverine has always been invincible and that's why X-Men Origins: Wolverine is such a terrible movie. Wolverine and Sabertooth spend the whole movie going "Arrrrrrrr!"

FD: I still find Wolverine's spiked-on-both-sides hairdo to be silly. He looks like he's constantly going around with bed hair.

W: True. Very true.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sugar Addiction and the Big Tobacco-like Deceptions of the Food Industry: 7 notes

1) Given the addictive qualities of sugar, the food industry's deceptions are equivalent to those of big tobacco.

2) The food industry strives to get children hooked on sugar before they can develop a critical capacity to tell what's going on (a marketing technique that McDonald's has been perfecting since 1960).

3) Just a tobacco smoke causes lung cancer and many other health problems, sugar addiction causes obesity, diabetes, and a host of other ills.

4) Kicking the sugar habit sensitizes you to the addiction of most people you know--family, friends.

5) Soda often has 16 packs of sugar per 16 ounce drink. Many of the pre-movie ads that one watches at our local Regal Cineplex pitch Coke, Pepsi, Sprite (etc.) to the youth market.

6) Since the body cannot properly process all of that sugar, the pancreas cranks out insulin in reaction, thereby leading to weight gain.

7) Much of what is touted by the food industry as healthy or ethical--fruit juices, smoothies, low-fat cookies, and Ben & Jerry's Fairtrade ice cream--somehow fails to mention the effects of its excessive amounts of sugar.

Related links:

a)  Sugar-coating Science: How the Food Industry Misleads Consumers on Sugar

b) Rethink Sugary Drink


c) "Fed Up Spotlights the American Sugar Epidemic": "43 cocaine-addicted laboratory rats were given the choice of cocaine or sugar water over a 15-day period: 93 percent or 40 out of 43 chose sugar."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

panopticon links

---the 2014 summer movie trailer

---"Young" by Air Review

---David Bowie on Stardust

---"I just remember having to explain to clients how nothing is private anymore," she says. "It's about walking down the street as a normal person because everybody has the ability to take your picture, to catch you doing something."  --Amy Nicholson

---"We kill people based on metadata." --David Cole

---an analysis of a scene from De Palma's The Untouchables and outtakes from A Fistful of Dollars

---Analyzing five risk factors for societal collapse (population, climate, water, agriculture and energy), the report says that the sudden downfall of complicated societal structures can follow when these factors converge to form two important criteria. Motesharrei's report says that all societal collapses over the past 5,000 years have involved both;'the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity' and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or 'Commoners') [poor].' This 'Elite' population restricts the flow of resources accessible to the 'Masses', accumulating a surplus for themselves that is high enough to strain natural resources. Eventually this situation will inevitably result in the destruction of society." --Tom McKay

---a Blade Runner featurette

---remembering The Life Aquatic

---The Rockford Files

---"In a workplace where Google Glass is a standard part of the company uniform, every employee would potentially become a security camera. Managers will be able to determine with unprecedented precision how workers talk to each other, how hard they work, and even how many bathroom breaks they take. The Glass-inflected workplace would become a perfect panopticon, where the boss has the ability to see every employee through the eyes of every single other employee."  --Ned Resnikoff

---generation resignation

---face replacement

---learning from Reservoir Dogs

---"It is the nature of authority to equate dissent with wrongdoing, or at least with a threat."  --Glenn Greenwald

---16 by Howard Hawks

---trailers for Happy ChristmasInterstellar, Contempt, Guardians of the Galaxy, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Yves Saint Laurent, Life Itself The Kill Teamand Calvary

---United States of Secrets

---Unhappily Ever After and RobertAltmanGallery

---“Global climate is changing and this is apparent across the United States in a wide range of observations. The global warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels.”

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds": 9 questions about Godzilla

1) Regardless of all of the grey murky CGI, isn't Godzilla basically dependent on a stable of high level actors well paid enough to say the word "Godzilla" with a straight face?

2) Is it right to take a monster partially born out of the horror of Hiroshima and sell it back to the children of the very country that dropped the atomic bomb from Enola Gay?

3) If you are going to have Juliette Binoche star as Sandra Brody in your monster movie, must you kill her off almost immediately in a maudlin scene in which she dies gazing sorrowfully at her husband (Bryan Cranston) behind a containment door after he is forced to seal her in a deadly chamber underneath a nuclear reactor?

4) In Mike Leigh's 2008 Happy-Go-Lucky, Sally Hawkins is stunningly good, so why is she just standing around as a scientist with the uber-serious Ken Watanabe (Dr. Serizawa) in Godzilla? Should we call each new blockbuster the mortuary where great actors expire?

5) When Godzilla fights the preying mantis-like MUTO (Massive Unidentified Target Organism) that flies at his back, was I supposed to be reminded of King Kong fighting pterodactyls in 1933?

6) Did anyone think it was silly to repeatedly watch the MUTOs eat nuclear warheads and store the radiation in their glowing red bellies?

7) Doesn't Ford Brody's (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) son Sam witness the arrival of Godzilla from the Golden Gate bridge just as Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) takes some kids on a bus to a bridge right before a nuclear blast at the end of The Dark Knight Rises (2012)?  In how many other ways does Godzilla lift plot points from Nolan's batman trilogy?

8) Doesn't Godzilla have spike-like plates sticking out of his back and tail much like the quadrupedal Stegosaurus? Also, don't Godzilla and Stegosaurus share a similarly small head, with a brain (in the Stegosaurus' case) no larger than that of a dog? Why is everyone getting caught up in the story of a monster with a really small head?  

9) Perhaps it's time to admit that I'm too old for this pseudo-portentous giant lizard crap?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Godzilla Mon Amour (1998)

[Here's a mortifyingly unrevised review from my early newspaper days. Note the use of "y'all" and obscure 90s movie references.]

In the midst of the media blitzkrieg of TV and magazine, Taco Bell kids meal tie-ins, and Godzilla sleeping bags and lunch boxes, what is left for the poor movie critic to write? Whereas y'all have seen only bits and pieces of the big lizard beast, two legs surrounded by helicopters or his sinister eye, I have seen the whole thing.

I have been there. Thud, thud, thud, through New York City. No more little Japanese fellow dancing around the telephone lines in a Godzilla suit. This Godzilla looks very much like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and his immediate movie influences include King Kong, Jurassic Park, and Independence Day. Made by the writer/director team who produced the event movie of last summer for Sony, Independence Day, Godzilla carries on this team's lucrative tradition of juicing up cheesy 1950's B movie scenarios, adding ironic in-jokes for the 20 something Scream crowd, and generally spending a great deal of money living out adolescent fantasies in a knowingly silly way.

The opening credits give you brown and white footage of Gila monsters staring wistfully at nuclear mushroom clouds off of the Pacific Islands, thus reminding you that the Japanese came up with the Godzilla idea in response to Hiroshima. The camera zooms in on one little Gila monster egg; what monsters lurk behind such cold war hysteria?

Cut to the Japanese fishing freighter getting tossed around the sea like a toy in a bathtub. Cut to distracted but cute nuclear regulatory scientist Nick Tatopoulous (Matthew Broderick) standing in a giant lizard footprint so big he can't even see it! Then, in my favorite scene in the movie, an old man shuffles out to fish on a dock in a drizzly New York City day. Some nearby workers make fun of him and his pitiful attempts at fishing. He drops a bobber into the water and it immediately disappears, taking his rod and reel with it. The water swells, two huge gills rise out of the water, and the old man hotfoots it across the dock as it explodes in sections behind him. Godzilla has arrived.

Is the movie any good? Like every other movie blockbuster I've seen so far, the film is too long, thanks once again to the moviemakers' trendy attempts to add "soul" to monster carnage. While Jurassic Park picked up speed with the arrival of the dinosaurs and never let up until the end, Godzilla keeps cutting to the mayor of New York getting in and out of vehicles.

There are long pockets of time when not much is going on. Godzilla has this weird ability to hide himself down in the subway system (I guess he's seen Mimic). When he disappears, we get treated to a subplot concerning Nick's ditzy blond former girlfriend named Audrey (Maria Pitillo) who uses him to help advance her career as a reporter. With her New Jersey accent and curly hair, Audrey is the un-Sigourney Weaver action heroine. She seems too scared to leave her apartment, let along face a 100 foot tall computer-generated image.

Similarly, Matthew Broderick confounds any expectations of a Bruce Willis-style action hero. He remains boyish and bemused throughout, taking a kind of New Age parental interest in the lizard's welfare. When both Nick and Audrey discover a horde of Godzillet eggs laid in Madison Square Garden, they make an impromptu TV appearance to announce the news to a stunned world, and they look and sound like little kids acting grown-up, the cutest little couple since Matthew teamed up with Meg Ryan in Addicted to Love.

There are other little funny touches, like an ironic glimpse of Barney or the French actor Jean Reno faking an Elvis accent to get past some military guards, but you wait for the Big Scaly One to return or the arrival of his raptor-like kids. After a lull in the middle, the movie picks up towards the end with an elaborately unlikely chase scene in a yellow cab. Look for various NYC landmarks to get blown up repeatedly this summer. The Chrysler building gets whacked both here and in Armageddon.

Are you in need of a brainless but entertaining machine gun helicopter joyride through the skyscraper canyons of Manhattan? As summer fare goes, it don't get no sillier than this. Go, go, go Godzilla!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

insidious links

---"commercial food processors like to talk about calories and fat, because those are things they can manipulate easily. From the early 1980s onward, they have largely done so by dosing first Americans and then the rest of the world with enormous amounts of sugar and other sweeteners. The result, as presented in this film, is not just a staggering increase in obesity, childhood diabetes and associated illnesses but also a widespread addiction to sugar, according to some scientists a substance more toxic and insidious than cocaine or nicotine." --Andrew O'Hehir

---Scarface (1932)

---"Anatomy of a scene: The Double"

---"The Evolution of Special Effects"

---"Krauthammer here has taken a radically skeptical position not merely on climate science, but on all science. His argument implies that no scientific argument merits respect. Given the provisional and socially constructed peer pressure driving the consensus theory of aerodynamics, it is amazing that he is willing to travel in an airplane."  --Jonathan Chait

---Natalie Merchant's "Giving Up Everything"

---the title sequence of Raising Arizona

---Fast-Mo

---“Film is a constant search for economy.”  --Alexander Payne

---"This satire of the media circus that would envelop us all goes beyond noir into saeva indignatio, and beyond Swift into something more intensely and disturbingly personal. Rarely, if ever, have there been such brutally antipathetic leads in a mainstream film as Kirk Douglas’s scoop-or-die reporter and Jan Sterling’s breathtakingly callous victim’s wife. However prophetic Wilder’s vision of a press and a public drunk on sensation, this issue ends up seeming almost peripheral to two main characters so monstrous in their mutual, and mutually despising, selfishness that it’s astonishing the movie got released at all."  --Molly Haskell

---trailers for Winter Sleep, The Little MermaidDawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Snowpiercer

---Godard's 10 favorite films

---"The Banality of the Celebrity Profile and How It Got That Way" by @annehelen

---"smartphone users were more detached from their physical surroundings, and, when asked about a place that they had just visited, they were far less likely to remember anything about it."  --Kathleen Davis

---Gene Wilder on the Truth

---"True Detective engages the symbolism of the Deep South by leveraging the neglected infrastructure and environmental collapse of contemporary Louisiana for its aesthetic language, tonality and plot." --Marian St. Laurent

---"At one point though, she said, she did tell them her glasses had fallen to the sidewalk next to her, and announced she was going to reach over to retrieve them. That apparently gave them all the excuse they needed."  --David Graeber

---"I think the problem in American cinema today is that everything has to rest on the narrative and the action, and filmmakers no longer have enough belief in the power of images. Very few images remain fixed in our minds. The American curse, even among critics, is to see everything from the perspective of genre. Gravity doesn’t escape the science fiction genre the way 2001 did. It’s as if you had to serve up the science fiction to the audience that comes to the conventions every year. Films are categorized by genre and by target audience. What we’re interested in is the exact opposite: what escapes genre and typology."  --Stephane Delorme

Sunday, May 4, 2014

drone master links

---David Lynch's Rabbits

---"The 'All Is Lost' moment. When a movie needs to convey a sense of 'total defeat' for its protagonist and to its audience, Snyder prescribes administering 'the whiff of death.' He writes, 'Stick in something, anything that involves a death . . . [because it] will resonate and make that ‘All Is Lost’ moment all the more poignant.'"

---Dronies and "The Rise of the Drone Master"

---VFX reels for Grand Budapest Hotel and Noah

---remembering Pablo Ferro and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

---Dennis Hopper considers Nicholas Ray

---making Escape From Tomorrow

---"So to Hell with the outline. Just puke on the page, knowing that you can clean it up and make it structurally sound later. Your mind is a babbling lunatic. It's Dennis Hopper, jumping all over the place, free associating, digressing, doubling back, exploding in profanity and absurdity and nonsense. Stop ordering it to calm down and speak clearly. Listen closely and take dictation. Be a stenographer for your subconscious. Then rewrite and edit."  --Matt Zoller Seitz

---trailers for Jellyfish Eyes, AppBoyhoodGuardians of the Galaxy, and Maps to the Stars 

---Luc Besson discusses his philosophy of action

---"Safety Last!: High-flying Harold" by Ed Park

---"I’d say 80 percent of American films today are all offshoots of Star Wars." -William Friedkin

---“To be a film critic helped me a lot because it’s not enough to be a cinephile and to watch a lot of movies. The necessity to write about films pushes you to get better, and forces you to make a mental gymnastic. It’s when you have to sum up a screenplay in ten sentences that you realize its weaknesses or its strength.” --Francois Truffaut

---Explosions and other "Defining Features of the Summer Blockbuster"

---"He had done a few good sketches but so far we hadn’t seen that special kind of face that I felt we would need for the lead drawing. It was a face I’d seen a thousand times at every Derby I’d ever been to. I saw it, in my head, as the mask of the whiskey gentry — a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis; the inevitable result of too much inbreeding in a closed and ignorant culture. One of the key genetic rules in breeding dogs, horses or any other kind of thoroughbred is that close inbreeding tends to magnify the weak points in a bloodline as well as the strong points. In horse breeding, for instance, there is a definite risk in breeding two fast horses who are both a little crazy. The offspring will likely be very fast and also very crazy. So the trick in breeding thoroughbreds is to retain the good traits and filter out the bad. But the breeding of humans is not so wisely supervised, particularly in a narrow Southern society where the closest kind of inbreeding is not only stylish and acceptable, but far more convenient — to the parents — than setting their offspring free to find their own mates, for their own reasons and their own ways." --Hunter S. Thompson

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Vulnerability, action, more contrived vulnerability: a review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Odd aspects of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that I did enjoy: Andrew Garfield's ludicrously extended bouffant pompadour haircut, Emma Stone's (Gwen Stacy's) brittle rubberface intensity, the movie's elaborate inclusion of the color red in every expensive carefully crafted shot (a pleasant change after all of the dreary grays and blues of Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and the postmodern goofiness of Andrew Garfield and Sally Field (as Aunt May) emoting, weeping, as she just says that she loves him, and Peter Parker replying "I love you too, but I need to know the secret thing about my father that you've withheld from me all of these years" as he also begins to tear up, each actor competing to look more torn. I liked the humorous way the movie swiftly moves from vulnerability, to action, back to ever-more contrived vulnerability, (with Gwen emulating Diane Court in Say Anything (1989) by threatening to leave for England with a scholarship), and so on.

Directed by Marc Web, Spidey 2 is so concerned with heightening the basic adolescent melodrama of the Peter Parker franchise without fundamentally changing anything, the film riffs on its own cliches, occasionally slowing down a shot to show off its intricate playfulness, hanging in midair as Spider-Man pauses over the New York canyons before swinging into his next set-piece entanglement with a bad guy driving a big truck with many NYPD cars crashing in every direction.

Andrew Garfield is, what, 31 years old now? But as Spider-Man he remains super-gawky as he listens to pop music on headphones as he moons about on his little bed in Aunt May's little flat that she somehow affords with a nursing job. Peter loves Gwen, but he cannot love her because she might get hurt, so he tells her that with an exquisitely-lit Chinatown backdrop behind them, and Gwen is perhaps starting to feel self-conscious about her lack of kick-ass powers in comparison to, say, Black Widow, so she yells "I break up with you! I break up with you!" as both actors demonstrate anguish to give their scene some tension. I guess actors have enhanced their on-screen love affairs with genuine affection ever since Greta Garbo flirted with John Gilbert in Flesh and the Devil (1926), but there's still something odd about watching Stone and Garfield cheerfully parcel out their real-life relationship on screen. They are both talented high-strung actors, but I still miss the relative mellowness of Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst in the 2004 Spider-Man 2 (still one of my favorite superhero films).

Otherwise, amidst a cascade of villainous backstories, Jamie Foxx awkwardly appears as an uber-nerd engineer Max Dillon before falling into a vat full of electric eels (reminiscent of the Joker falling in something in the original Tim Burton 1989 Batman, i.e. reminiscent of every supervillain origin story ever), which initiates the development of an elaborate blue, i.e. Doctor Manhattan-esque creature named Electro who dresses more fashionably the more electricity he absorbs. At one point, within the Ravencroft Asylum for the Criminally Insane, Electro gets tied down and dipped in some solution by a cartoonish fellow with maroon lipstick named Dr. Kafka sporting a campy German accent. Also, Dane DeHaan gets several scenes as the uber-rich and pleasantly snotty Harry Osborn. His smirk reminds me of the youthful Leonardo DiCaprio, and one can best appreciate those occasional calm moments when he and Peter casually hang out together, skipping stones on the East River. At one point, Harry asks "Remember that time when Dr. Connors sought to turn everyone in Manhattan into giant lizards?"      

As far as blockbusters go, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 impressed me with the crispness of most each shot and the sensation that the actors are far superior to their roles. Funny how a color scheme can make such a difference.