Movie Review – Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2

Directed by Sam Raimi

Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirstin Dunst, James Franco, Rosemary Harris, Alfred Molina, and J.K. Simmons.

How do I love Spider-Man?  Let me count the ways!  I think I’ve told the tale countless times how the first words I typed into a search engine were “Spider-Man Movie.”  I was one of the first in line when the first film premiered at Silver City in West Edmonton Mall.  I even shocked the hell out of my friend by sneaking him in.  And here he thought I was this moral and pure guy.  So, thanks to me and thousands like me, a sequel was inevitable.  Wasn’t first in line this time, as I opted to wait until a good friend came back from China.  But, we were first in line on that day….

It’s been two years since we last saw Peter Parker, and he’s starting to crumble under the stress.  He can’t keep a job, his university grades are slipping, a distance is growing between him and Harry Osborn, the bank is foreclosing on Aunt May’s house, and no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t see Mary Jane Watson’s play.  And it’s all because his duties as Spider-Man keep getting in the way.  And now, his super powers are becoming unreliable!  But that’s not all.  Thanks to Harry’s help, Peter gets to be on hand when Dr. Otto Octavious tries out his latest fusion experiment.  But, there’s a lab accident, and it turns Dr. Octavious into Dr. Octopus!  Spider-Man tries, but the pressures of being both Peter Parker and Spider-Man start to become too great!  It’s not too long before Peter decides to hang it up and be Spider-Man no more.  Surely, the police can handle Dr. Octopus.  Can’t they?

This movie ROCKS!  It really is more of a character-driven film as we are presented with Peter Parker’s inner torment as he tries to resolve his dual life.  This is a film that’s really about the characters.  Although, the special effects do rock.  The battles between Spidey and Doc Ock do look less cartoony than similar effects driven films as of late.  I just thought that it was a great film, and it picked up from the last film quite nicely and…it rocks!  May 2007 is too far away.  Bring on the next film already!

4 Nibs


Chaos in Print

My contempt for teenagers is best illustrated in what happened to me the other day. I was on my lunch break, and headed up to 7-11 to buy a snack. It was also lunchtime for the high school across the street, and thus the store was stuffed full of teens buying overpriced convenience food. I got my banana Slurpee and a Cajun chicken sandwich, and started to head out the door. Now, standing around the front doors was a gaggle of teenage girls. As I walked by their group, one of the girls – probably no older than 15 – noticed me. She had a small bouquet of flowers that she was intently ripping the petals off of. As I walked by her, she shoved the handful of stems in my face and said, “Would you like to buy some flowers?” Without breaking my stride, I glanced at the pitiful, brownish stems, looked the girl in the eye, and mumbled, “No thank you.” As I made a beeline for my car, I overheard her tell some joke about me to her friends, and they all laughed. I was driving back to work when I began to think, “Now, really, how should I have handled that differently?” This is where I really wish I was quicker on my feet. If she wanted to play, I could have played.

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Movie Review – Fahrenheit 9/11

Fahrenheit 9/11

Directed by Michael Moore

So, I’ve been a huge fan Michael Moore’s since 1994.  I was a high school kid, bored for the summer, and I discovered Moore’s news magazine show TV Nation.  I became an ardent fan.  In university, I discovered his full body of work through friends who were fellow fans.  When Bowling for Columbine came to Kumagaya, I was first in line.  I bought it on DVD as soon as I came home, and it had the rare distinction of being a film that even my father enjoyed.  So, when I heard that his next film would be focused on the Bush administration, I was rather excited.  Fahrenheit 9/11 got the rare honour of being my annual birthday movie.

It’s kind of hard to do a plot summary for a documentary.  The film opens with a recap of the 2000 election, with the too-close-to-call results in Florida, the endless recounts, and finally the Supreme Court decision to end the whole fiasco and declare Bush the winner.  Then, we flash forward to September 11, 2001, and what happened afterwards.  We are then presented to all kinds of segments, raging from Bush’s ties to Saudi Arabian money, the Patriot Act and how it’s been used and abused, and ultimately, the War in Iraq.  As always, there are segments that just really stand out for me.  Moore’s “shocking” discovery that most congressmen don’t read all the acts before they vote for them, Moore being hassled by the Secret Service for hanging around the Saudi embassy, the underfunding of state troopers in Oregon.  And, when one pro-Bush supporter tries to shut down Moore’s “staging” of a conversation between an anti-war protester and a mother whose son was killed in Iraq.

Reflecting on this film, I do think that Bowling for Columbine was a better film.  If you read any newspapers or watched any news, then you’ll realize that Moore really doesn’t present any new information.  But, Moore has a very stylish way of presenting the information.  It’s entertaining, funny, tragic, and gets you thinking.  While this may be eye-opening and stunning to some, it was simply a good movie for me.  However, it did achieve the rarest and most stunning of feats:  Dad wants it on DVD.

3 Nibs

The More Human Way to Travel

Chaos in Print

When did rail travel begin to die in Canada? I know, this is a question I’ve pondered many times, but it’s on my mind again today. It’s Father’s Day, and my Dad requested that we go some place that we hadn’t been in a long time: the Alberta Railway Museum. It’s a magical place, with dozens of restored rail cars and locomotives. And, on bright sunny weekends like this one, they fire up some of their restored locomotives and give train rides. Nothing fancy, mind you. CN has yet to give them permission to use the adjoining main line. So, they just go back and forth on their little strip of rail. When my family first visited the museum some 18 years ago or so, we were told that part of their long-term goals was to build a complete rail loop to have their trains running full time. 18 years later, and it’s still a long-term goal.

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I, Robot

Chaos in Print

I just got a job. I don’t know why, but employment always gives me a twinge of sadness. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’ll be easy work. I’m a produce clerk in a grocery store, meaning I’ll have to make sure the lettuce is nice and fresh and that there are enough peaches and bananas on the shelves. But still, I’m sad. I don’t think people take enough time these days to realize what having a job means. At least, to me, getting a job means losing your independence. No longer can you sleep as late as you want and do whatever you feel like that day. Now your day is given up in servitude to the man. Or, even worse, the company.

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Dude, That’s Just Wrong

Chaos in Print

There is a tendency in the human spirit that occasionally unsettles me. For all I know, it has unsettled you as well. I mean, we try to avoid it. We don’t want to do it. But, it happens nonetheless. Why it happens to us, we don’t know. It’s a facet of human nature that we have no control over. It’s something that quite often leaves us screaming at the heavens for an answer. I’m sure that there is at least one time in our life where we’ve turned to a parent; a sibling; a god, and asked, “Why, oh why, do I love something that’s so completely wrong for me?”

The first such incidence in my life happened when I was eight years old. Oh, I was such a happy child. From our local video store, we rented one of those classic films of 1980s merchandising: Rainbow Bright and the Star Stealer. It was a grey, rainy afternoon with nothing good on TV, so I wound up watching the film over and over again. After about the fifth viewing, I came to a horrifying conclusion: I was in love with Rainbow Bright.

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Movie Review – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, David Thewless, and Gary Oldman

I will admit, my exposure to Harry Potter has been primarily through the movies, and I must say, I like what I’ve seen. The first one felt like it was the beginning of this huge epic. The second one started taking us down dark corners as we began to explore some of what Voldemort is about. And now, the third one. While not first in line like some students I had in Japan (I caught them skipping my class so they could be first to see Chamber of Secrets!), I held back for a few weeks until I finally got around to seeing The Prisoner of Azkaban.

It’s year 3 for Harry Potter at Hogwarts. He’s getting older now, the hormones are starting to kick in, and he’s starting to develop a bit of a rebelious streak. He gets fed up with living with his human family, the Dursleys, and runs away from home! But that’s OK, as it’s time to go back to school anyway. But, there is a new evil on the loose. The evil Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban Prison. It turns out Mr. Black has a sinister connection to Harry Potter and the night Harry’s parents died. It’s feared that Mr. Black is heading to Hogwarts to kill Harry. Just in case it is so, the fearsom Dementors, the guards of Azkaban, are sent to guard Hogwarts. But, Harry is able to stand up to this threat thanks to his old friends Hermione and Ron, and a new ally in the new teacher, Professor Lupin. Will Harry uncover the secret of Sirius Black? Or, will Harry hunt him down on a quest for vengeance?

With this installment, Alfonso Cuaron takes over directing duties from Chris Columbus. While the film still meshes with the other two, it’s just slightly different. A fresh perspective helps you look at everything in a new way, and it’s kind of cool. Michael Gambon actually brings life to Dumbledore, and it makes you see why these kids love this headmaster so much. David Thewliss as Professor Lupin is nice and mysterious, and becomes somewhat of a surrogate father to Harry. I know Mr. Anderson is curious to know what I think. Seeing as to how I haven’t read very many of the books, he wants to know how well the mythology is holding up to us muggles. I’d have to say it’s holding up pretty well, but sadly, in this film, it’s kind of all rushed in at the end. But, the climax is very clever, reminding me of Back to the Future Part II. All in all, it was pretty good, but I still think Chamber of Secrets was better.

3 Nibs