Monday, December 30, 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-ManThe gist: a young Peter Parker is raised by his uncle and aunt after his parents have to flee in a hurry.  As a teenager, he finds some documents left behind by his dad that hold the key to some important scientific research.  While investigating this research he gets bitten by a genetically engineered spider that confers to him supernatural powers.  He starts using these powers as a masked vigilante known as Spider-Man who will have to face down both common and supernatural enemies.

This is Andrew Garfield's first outing in the titular role and he certainly impresses and charms with his good looks and acting skills.  Emma Stone as our hero's love interest is well cast as well, vulnerable and strong in equal parts.

It was interesting to see the detours the script takes from Spider-Man's classic tale by disclosing Peter Parker's real identity to his love interest, her father, and his aunt so early in this first chapter of the comic's reboot.

The Bottom Line: the reboot gamble certainly pays off and we're treated to a new take on the web slinging superhero that enthralls and scares with impressive claustrophobic sequences.  Awesome visual effects.

Grade: 7

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Under the Dome

Under the DomeWe started watching this show because we had little to watch this past summer and also because I really like Stephen King’s stories.

While at first it seemed like the show was in good hands, with interesting twists and turns, as time went on things started to get too ridiculous to be believed.  Characters started doing things that strained the plausible and events happened for no reason other than to shock or fill time.

Also, while the producers promised that by the end of the season (it wasn’t known if it would get picked up for season 2) they would reveal the Dome’s origin and meaning, instead of dragging it for several seasons a la Lost, we were cheated of an explanation and the season finale was totally underwhelming.

Even Mr. King himself was wondering how they would be able to keep the show going for many episodes and apparently they resorted to spinning their tails.

It’s still up in the air whether we’ll be back for season 2, although Mike Vogel and Alexander Kock certainly make for a compelling argument.

Grade: 6


DexterThe end of a beloved show always feels like the death of a dear friend.  Even now, while I try so hard to cut back on the amount of television I watch to free up more of my time, I know I will miss a show like Dexter, which I had come to consider one of my favorites.

It is not an easy task to make a serial killer so sympathetic to the audience that we actually root for him not to get caught by the authorities and to always prevail in any match with the bad guys he targets to tame his deepest instincts and darkest needs.

Dexter certainly had its share of ups and downs in terms of quality of seasonal arches, but I felt it was always compelling.  I also have to appreciate the decision to put an end to it before it started running out of plausible scenarios in which to place our flawed hero.

Ultimately, the final season is well developed and very original in the layers it adds to the character and his relationship with his inner Dark Passenger and the people around him.  Also, I found very satisfying the way the show-runners decided to end the story, which is again something very tricky that often leaves the fans either hating or loving a show’s final moments.

I don’t want to spoil anything for those who never watched the show and are wondering whether it’s worth a look.  Let me assure you that Dexter is a very original show that will entertain you for many hours.

Grade – Final Season: 8

We’re now at 17!

New MexicoThe New Mexico Supreme Court has just ruled unanimously in favor of gay marriage, making it the 17th state to offer equal rights to all its citizens.

From Towleroad:

We conclude that the purpose of New Mexico marriage laws is to bring stability and order to the legal relationship of committed couples by defining their rights and responsibilities as to one another, their children if they choose to raise children together, and their property.

Prohibiting same-gender marriages is not substantially related to the governmental interests advanced by the parties opposing same-gender marriage or to the purposes we have identified. Therefore, barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution.

We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.

Monday, December 16, 2013

In Memoriam

Two greats left us this past weekend:

Peter O’Toole (1932 – 2013)

Peter O’Toole Peter O’Toole rose to fame with a magnetic performance in the 1962 epic film Lawrence of Arabia and became one of his generation’s most accomplished and charismatic actors.  He unfortunately holds the record for number of Academy Award nominations with no wins: 8, all for Best Leading Actor.  He did earn an Honorary Oscar in 2003, but those don’t count towards one’s final total.

I remember him in The Lion in Winter, The Last Emperor, Troy, and The Tudors.  I will have to watch some of his most acclaimed work.

Joan Fontaine (1917 – 2013)

Joan Fontaine Olivia de Havilland’s younger sister, Joan Fontaine had a lucrative career in both movies and theater, and even dabbled in some television productions.  While her sister achieved fame before her, Ms. Fontaine’s star eventually outshone her sister’s.  She was nominated for 3 Academy Awards and won one.

I remember her only for Rebecca.