‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is better than Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man 3’ … but not ‘Spider-Man 2’

Andrew Garfield (as Spider-Man) and Emma Stone in 'The Amazing Spider-Man'
Andrew Garfield (as Spider-Man) and Emma Stone in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’

[rating=3]Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field,
Director(s): Marc Webb
Writer(s): James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves, from a story by Vanderbilt, original comic by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

The Amazing Spider-Man is a much better film than Spider-Man 3The Amazing Spider-Man is not as good as Spider-Man 2, but the two films do share some strands of DNA. One of ASM’s screenwriters, Alvin Sargent, worked on the screenplays for both previous Spidey movie entries; he is joined byZodiac alumni, James Vanderbilt and perennial Harry Potter screenwriter, Steve Kloves. Director Marc Webb and the screenwriters build a compelling Spider-Man film that is more emotionally truthful to the source material than it is the minutia.

Read more‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is better than Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man 3’ … but not ‘Spider-Man 2’

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is not just for comic book fans

You don’t have to be a fan of the comic book version of the character to enjoy The Amazing Spider-Man, now in theaters.  If you saw the first major motion picture of the ‘wall-crawler’ back in 2002 you know the base elements of the story.  That won’t change or lessen your ability to enjoy this re-boot of the franchise, directed by Marc Webb.

Read more‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ is not just for comic book fans

Andy Griffith dies at age 86

Andy Griffith in 'The Andy Griffith Show'
Andy Griffith in ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Actor Andy Griffith has died at the age of 86 of an undisclosed illness.  He was laid to rest on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, his favorite place on Earth.  It was also the state of his birth, and the place where his best known TV series, The Andy Griffith Show, was set.

Read moreAndy Griffith dies at age 86

Flawed ‘Ted’ reveals Seth MacFarlane’s limits as a storyteller

Mark Wahlberg stars with a computer-animated stuffed bear in 'Ted'
Mark Wahlberg stars with a computer-animated stuffed bear in ‘Ted’

[rating=2]Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, the voice of Seth MacFarlane, Giovanni Ribisi
Director(s): Seth MacFarlane
Writer(s): Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild

The true star of Ted, the new crass-talking-teddy-bear movie, isn’t lead Mark Wahlberg, gleefully playing in his Boston sandbox, or even the undeniably huggable CGI bear playing the title role. No, this is of, by and for the man who wrote, directed and voices Ted, Family Guy creator and voice actor Seth MacFarlane, who makes his feature-length debut with this movie, and in doing so, shows that the confines of an animated network show might actually be a structural necessity.

Read moreFlawed ‘Ted’ reveals Seth MacFarlane’s limits as a storyteller

‘Magic Mike’ lacks magic

The guys take it all off for 'Magic Mike'
The guys take it all off for ‘Magic Mike’

Some motion pictures manage to be two different movies within the same film.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonis, for example, is both a martial arts epic and a beautiful dramatic love story.  Magic Mike tries hard to be several movies – and ends up being none of them.

Read more‘Magic Mike’ lacks magic

‘Magic Mike’ is a bad tease with no payoff

Matthew McConaughy strips it all off in 'Magic Mike'
Matthew McConaughy strips it all off in ‘Magic Mike’

[rating=3]Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody Horn, Matthew McConaughy, Matt Bomer, Joe Mangianello
Director(s): Steven Soderbergh
Writer(s): Reid Carolin

Did you know Channing Tatum is hot? It’s true! And Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh’s inside-but-not-probing look at a club full of male strippers, puts a lot (but not all) of the goods on display. And boy does he want to be a major star. Who needs chops when you have abs? Credited to Reid Carolin, Tatum’s producing partner, Mike broaches an interesting subject but plays it so safe that it loses any sense of urgency. It’s a star vehicle in which all players stay belted into the passenger seat.

Read more‘Magic Mike’ is a bad tease with no payoff