Film Review: Gifted

Director Marc Webb hits the right notes with comedy-drama Gifted. The film balances sentiment with humour through a wonderfully depicted central relationship.

Frank Adler is the guardian of his niece Mary, a young girl gifted in the subject of mathematics. Frank’s hopes for a normal upbringing for Mary are put into doubt when staff at Mary’s new school discover her special talents…

Directed by Marc Webb, with a screenplay by Tom Flynn, Gifted is a sweet story about the relationship between a young girl and her guardian and uncle. The film has a very likeable tone, which allows room for both a little bit of schmaltz, and genuine laughs.

Key to Gifted is the central relationship between uncle and niece. This is depicted in an authentic fashion. The film features plenty of little ticks to make their interactions feel convincing. Other relationships function to help colour the world of Frank and Mary. The relationships Frank and Mary have with others, such as Bonnie and Roberta, primarily further the personalities and the story of the protagonists. The narrative progresses in a timely manner, leaving enough time for character development with neglecting the plot. Some aspects of the narrative are rather predictable. Nevertheless, the story is told with sufficient charm for this not to matter.

Production values in the film are good. Chris Evans delivers a convincing performance as Frank. He is subtle enough to allow Mckenna Grace to shine as Mary. She delivers a great performance, and has good chemistry with Evans. Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, and Lindsay Duncan provide good support. Fred is a wonderfully sweet addition to the film.

Gifted is one of those good-natured films which will make viewers smile. It is sweet without becoming cloying, and humorous without detracting from the emotional content. The film is an entertaining watch.

Previews: Spark Trailer, Snatched, More!

This week’s preview of coming attractions features the new Spark trailer, plus Snatched, Alien: Covenant, and more…

Spark Trailer

Here is thew new Spark trailer. The film is about a teenage monkey who must journey across the universe in order to save the galaxy. The film features the voices of Susan Sarandon, Patrick Stewart, Jessica Biel, and Hilary Swank. Spark launches on to UK screens on 26th May 2017.

Alien: Covenant Prologue

This Alien: Covenant prologue (The Crossing) bridges the gap between Prometheus and the upcoming Alien: Covenant. The clip explains what happened to the survivors of the previous film, and features Michael Fassbender’s character as narrator. The latest film in the Alien franchise also stars Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride. Alien: Covenant hits UK screens on 12th May 2017.

Snatched Clip

Amy Schumer shows off her comedy prowess in this clip from the upcoming Snatched. The film is about a mis-matched mother and daughter who take an exotic vacation together. Schumer is joined by Goldie Hawn, as well as Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack. Snatched is out in UK cinemas on 19th May 2017.

Wilson Trailer

Here is the trailer for new comedy Wilson. The film is about a middle-aged misanthrope who reunites with his estranged wife. The film stars Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, and Judy Greer. Wilson receives its debut at Sundance London on 2nd June 2017, and will be released  in selected cinemas on 9th June 2017.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Trailer

Following the teaser last week, here is the full trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. In this sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, the Kingsman headquarters is destroyed, leading Eggsy and co to discover an allied spy organisation. Director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman return, as do Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, and Colin Firth. They are joined by Juliane Moore, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, and Channing Tatum. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is scheduled for release in September 2017.

Gifted Clip

Director Marc Webb’s latest film is Gifted. The film stars Chris Evans as a man single-handedly raising his niece (played by Mckenna Grace). The film also stars Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer, and a one-eyed cat (according to the above clip). Gifted will be released on UK screens on 16th June 2017.

Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

When The Amazing Spider-Man 2 works, it works well. When it doesn’t, however, the film disappoints.

Peter Parker is enjoying his role as Spider-Man, although the impact this has on his relationship with girlfriend Gwen Stacey is taking its toll. As Peter hopes to find out more about his parents, he has new antagonists to contend with…

With The Amazing Spider-Man 2, director Marc Webb attempts to blend a journey of discovery with a cartoonish comic book romp. There are parts of both aspects that are effective, but as an overall product the film is a letdown.

The narrative and pacing are a bit of a mess. The main focus of the plot appears to be Peter’s desire to discover more about his father, yet this is picked up and dropped without much thought throughout the film. The forward and back relationship with Gwen is highly reminiscent of the first franchise’s dynamic with Mary Jane. Nevertheless, there are some lovely scenes between Peter and Gwen.

Antagonists in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are less well developed. The motivations attributed to these characters are dubious at best. There seems to be no genuine reason for a lot of what happens in the film. Given the genre, viewers will expect to suspend disbelief for the more fantastic elements of the movie. However, the antagonists here are given the flimsiest reason to carry out their actions.

This is what makes the film cartoonish. This is further compounded with the heavy use of CGI. Although the effects are good, it is inescapable that the images are computer-generated rather than live action. Camera work in the aerial shots are great, but a showdown between Spider-Man and Electro is pretty much all CGI.

Visuals are strong overall, and the soundtrack is superb. Chemistry between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey is a highlight of the film. Elsewhere, Dane DeHaan is not used effectively as Harry Osborn, while Jamie Foxx exhibits a limited range.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has some strong points, but the issues with its narrative are insurmountable. Hopefully the third instalment will be stronger in this respect.

Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man is a decent summer blockbuster. Despite being entertaining, Marc Webb’s film may nevertheless suffer from the audience’s superhero fatigue.

Growing up with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, Peter Parker is having difficulties understanding why his parents appeared to abandon him. When he finds a clue about his father’s work, Peter tracks down Dr Curt Connors, former colleague of his father. Visiting Connors at his work, something strange happens to Peter in the lab…

The Amazing Spider-Man features everything that viewers would expect from a superhero movie; a personal transformation, big action set pieces and a love story. The narrative offers nothing particularly original; it is the same journey that has featured in other films of this type. Nonetheless, Peter Parker is a likeable and well-developed protagonist. Moreover, The Amazing Spider-Man is well paced, and entertains throughout.

Marc Webb’s film really does not do anything wrong. The problem with it is the feeling of déjà vu it provokes. After all, it has only been ten years since the last Spider-Man franchise began. More telling are the allusions to various Batman films. References, seemingly indeliberate, appear to recall Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

The effects in The Amazing Spider-Man are good overall. It certainly does not seem as if the CGI in this film will age quite as quickly as its 2002 predecessor. The extra dimension also works well, with Spider-Man swinging through the New York landscape being a particular highlight of the 3D. James Horner’s score is fitting, although it can make emotional moments seem excessively saccharine.

Andrew Garfield makes a good Peter Parker. His chemistry with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey makes their scenes together a joy to watch. Rhys Ifans makes a suitable antagonist for this origins tale, though the character may have struggled to be a  worthy opponent in an epic battle.

The Amazing Spider-Man is an enjoyable film. The problem is that it does not elevate itself to the level of Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight. In these days of abundant superhero movies, it is this echelon that needs to be reached in order for a film of this kind to be box office-breaking and truly memorable.

The Amazing Spider-Man Trailer

Four years after the last Spiderman film comes the trailer for reboot The Amazing Spider-Man. From the footage here, it appears that Marc Webb’s film is very similar to the first film in terms of the origin story. Nonetheless, the film stars young talents Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, so perhaps it will offer something more. The effects in the trailer are not that impressive, but may look better in the finished film as it is being filmed in 3D. The Amazing Spider-Man is released on 3rd July 2012.