Spider-Man 2 Review

Spider-Man 2 movie posterSynopsis
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is having difficulties balancing his life as Spider-Man with his life as Peter Parker. Meanwhile, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) is tasked by Harry Osborn (James Franco) to hunt Spider-Man for revenge for his father’s death.

After the success of Spider-Man, Sony didn’t waste any time getting into Spider-Man 2. As with X2, since the character introductions were out of the way, the film had the room to just jump right into the story. No need to set up the characters and no need to give exposition. Spider-Man 2 takes the best of its predecessor and makes it even better.

As I said in my review of Spider-Man, one of Peter Parker’s defining characteristics in the comics is his attempt to balance his duties as the wall crawler with his desire to maintain a personal life. This film showed Peter’s struggle to balance his two lives better than any Spider-Man movie before or since. It deeply explores what being Spider-Man means for Peter and the sacrifices he has to make to uphold his responsibilities. Not many other superhero movies truly explore what being a superhero means and its costs the way Spider-Man 2 does. To me, that is one of the many reasons that this is not only one of the best Spider-Man films but one of the best films in the genre.

Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus, is a terrific followup to Green Goblin. He is another one of Spider-Man’s biggest rogues, maybe even surpassing Green Goblin over the last several years. Alfred Molina played Otto wonderfully. Spider-Man’s best villains are the ones with tragic backgrounds. Otto doesn’t want to be the villain and actually has a noble heart, looking to use his brilliance to create for the benefit of mankind. After losing his wife and being bound to his mechanical arms in an accident, he goes crazy when the AI from his arms negatively influence his mind. Whether it is the innocent and cheerful Otto or the more sinister and villainous Doc Ock, Molina is brilliant. His acting elevates what is already a well-written character. Watching this and Spider-Man after the Batman movies of the 90s, I began noticing that when superhero films have only a single villain, it (usually) creates both an improved story and better villain.

Director Sam Raimi has a history in horror, so his pick to direct this action-oriented superhero series might have seemed like a strange choice (one that he has managed to prove was the right one). Throughout the film, Raimi had the chance to flex some of his horror roots. Several scenes contain sequences similar to something you might find in a horror film rather than a superhero one. The scene with where the doctors try to remove the metal arms after they fused with Otto in particular stands out as one where you can feel Raimi’s previous horror experience. It’s exciting to see him bring his own personal touch from other genres into this film.

When your hero can jump around doing all kind of aerial acrobatics and your villain has mechanical arms fused to his body, there’s going to be CGI in some capacity. However, where possible, this film uses practical effects. And it makes all the difference. Especially in the early 2000s, when films where just beginning to utilize the technology much more after the Star Wars prequels used it so prominently, it can not look the cleanest. So by using practical effects at every opportunity, the movie looks so much better and not nearly as fake as it could be for a film about superheroes.

I thought Spider-Man 2 was GREAT ๐Ÿ˜€ I wish I had a higher ranking than great because this movie is more than great. It’s fantastic, it’s spectacular, it’s amazing, it’s perfect. Not only is this one of my favorite superhero films but it is up there as one of my favorite films of all time.

Favorite Quote
Betty Brant: Boss, your wife’s on the line, she said she lost her checkbook.
J. Jonah Jameson: Thanks for the good news!

Favorite Scene


Cast & Crew
Sam Raimi โ€“ Director
Alfred Gough โ€“ Story
Miles Miller โ€“ Story
Michael Chabon โ€“ Story
Alvin Sargent โ€“ Screenplay
Danny Elfman โ€“ Composer

Tobey Maguire โ€“ Spider-Man / Peter Parker
Kirsten Dunst โ€“ Mary Jane Watson
James Franco โ€“ Harry Osborn
Alfred Molina โ€“ Doc Ock / Dr. Otto Octavius
Rosemary Harris โ€“ May Parker
JK Simmons โ€“ J. Jonah Jameson
Donna Murphy โ€“ Rosalie Octavius
Daniel Gillies โ€“ John Jameson
Dylan baker โ€“ Dr. Curt Connors
Bill Nunn โ€“ Joseph ‘Robbie’ Robertson
Ted Raimi โ€“ Hoffman
Elizabeth Banks โ€“ Betty Brant
Elya Baskin โ€“ Mr. Ditkovich
Megeina Tovah โ€“ Ursula
Bruce Campbell โ€“ Snooty Usher

The Polar Express Review: Christmas in July Blogathon 2019

Hello, friends!

Merry Christmas in July! I hope you’ve enjoyed the blogathon so far. I know I have! For the finale, yours truly will close out the blogathon with a review of the Tom Hanks-led animated holiday film that turns 15 this year: The Polar Express.

The Polar Express movie posterSynopsis
On Christmas Eve, a young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express, while learning about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas. (via IMDb)

As long as there has been cinema, there have been Christmas films. Many struggle to become holiday staples. Some take a while (like Miracle on 34th Street) while others become instant classics. The Polar Express is the latter. It has the traditional holiday messages but it wraps them in an adventure unlike any other film. I’ve heard people say this movie’s animation is too far in the uncanny valley but I would disagree. While it is more realistic looking than many films around the same time, it has enough of a cartoonish feel to not go over into that territory. I really enjoy that this tells the story through a child’s eyes to really helps captures the movie’s sense of wonder. Tom Hanks plays five parts throughout the film. Despite being so prevalent, each of his characters feels different from one another, showcasing his talents. I forgot how musical this film is. Not in the Broadway musical sense, although there are some great musical numbers like โ€œHot Chocolate,โ€ but how much the score complements what is going on on screen. Although I shouldn’t have been surprised once I learned the extraordinary Alan Silvestri was the composer.

I thought The Polar Express was GREAT ๐Ÿ˜€ Its sense of adventure is unlike any other Christmas film but with a message just as powerful. Accompanied by terrific animation, a great score, and Tom Hanks at his best, it’s no wonder that fifteen years later, this movie is still a holiday staple.

The Polar Express was the first โ€œall-digital capture” film, where all acted parts were done in digital capture. The film used 3D motion capture techniques to digitally record the actors’ physical performances before “skinning” them with their animated forms. The children’s roles were acted by adults, using oversized props to get the movement right. (via IMDb)


Cast & Crew
Robert Zemeckis โ€“ Director / Screenplay
Wiliiam Broyles, Jr. โ€“ Screenplay
Alan Silvestri โ€“ Composer

Tom Hanks โ€“ Hero Boy / Father/ Conductor / Hobo / Santa Claus
Daryl Sabara โ€“ Hero Boy (voice)
Nona Gaye โ€“ Hero Girl (voice)
Jimmy Bennett โ€“ Billy the Lonely Boy (voice)
Eddie Deezen โ€“ Know-It-All (voice)
Andre Sogliuzzo โ€“ Smokey / Steamer (voice)

As for my guest, I have chosen none other than Princess Jasmine and Kimberly Hart (aka the Pink Ranger) herself, Naomi Scott.

Naomi Scott

And that’s the final post for the sixth annual Christmas in July Blogathon! If you’ve missed any of the entries or you can’t wait to see the full guest list, the wrap-up post will be posted later today, so be sure to check that out.

Until next time, cheers!

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon Kick-Off: EuroTrip (2004)

Hello, friends! Welcome to the fourth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon! This year’s spotlight decade is the 2000s. Over the next few weeks, my wonderful co-host Kim from Tranquil Dreams and I will be posting reviews from our fellow bloggers highlighting their favorite films from the decade. Kim kicked off the blogathon on her site with her review of SPL: Kill Zone, which you should definitely go check out. Now it’s my turn to get things started! Here is my review of EuroTrip.

After Scott (Scott Mechlowicz) is dumped by his girlfriend at high school graduation, he decides to take a trip to Europe, accompanied by his best friend, Cooper (Jacob Pitts), to meet his pen pal, Mieke (Jessica Boehrs).

As per usual for my opening entry of an Ultimate Decades Blogathon, here are several reasons why I think EuroTrip is an excellent snapshot of the first decade of the millennium:

  1. The technology. Early in the new century, everything was getting smaller and thinner. Cell phones were becoming more common and more pocket-sized even if still a little blocky compared to today’s smart phones. Also, computers were getting thinner, whether it was the monitors or laptops.
  2. The hairstyles. Many girls had shoulder-length hair and it wasn’t uncommon to see some highlights, especially in the bangs. Also at the time, it was popular for guys to use product to spike their hair or style it into a faux-hawk.
  3. The fashion. Throughout the film, you’ll find Jenny in many popular clothing choices of the time. She wears belly shirts, tube tops, capris, and boot-cut jeans. In terms of makeup, she also uses lip gloss pretty heavily.
  4. Meeting someone online. With more and more households getting access to the internet in the early 2000s, meeting someone online was becoming more widespread. Like today, there are many warnings about who the person is on the other side of the screen (as Cooper eloquently illustrated to Scott). While meeting someone online today is pretty common, given the popularity of dating apps and online video games, it was more of a novelty during the late 90s early 2000s. Because of the freshness of online communication during this time, many films that have this as a central part of the plot (You’ve Got Mail, EuroTrip, Sex Drive), can be found around this time period.

While EuroTrip was released in the height of films such as Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story or Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, it stands out by not utilizing the extreme slapstick humor popular at the time. It is most certainly irreverent, raunchy, and immature but what else would you expect from a movie about teens going on a road trip to get laid? As you might have guessed from the title, this movie is a road trip movie and the writers make excellent use of this format. Each scene is unique and filled with different gags and jokes. Different characters come and go, leaving their mark with what little time they have. Regardless of what extra characters are in the scene, Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Travis Wester are absolutely hilarious. Their chemistry is what elevates this movie to pure comedy greatness, filling every scene to the brim with laughs. This film never takes itself too seriously, always letting the craziness and absurdity of the script flow. It knows it’s crude, it knows it’s vulgar. Why pretend otherwise?

I thought EuroTrip was GREAT ๐Ÿ˜€ It is exactly what you would anticipate from a teen sex comedy, so don’t expect anything groundbreaking. However, the cast elevate a great, even if predictable, script. If you’re like me and enjoy similar movies, such as Old School or Accepted, you’ll enjoy EuroTrip.


Cast & Crew
Jeff Schaffer โ€“ Director / Writer
Alec Berg โ€“ Co-Director / Writer
David Mandel โ€“ Co-Director / Writer
James L. Venable โ€“ Composer

Scott Mechlowicz โ€“ Scott Thomas
Jacob Pitts โ€“ Cooper Harris
Michelle Trachtenberg โ€“ Jenny
Travis Wester โ€“ Jamie
Jeffery Tambor โ€“ Scott’s Dad
Cathy Meils โ€“ Mrs. Thomas
Mial Iskhakov โ€“ Bert
Kristen Kreuk โ€“ Fiona
Matt Damon โ€“ Donny
Jessica Boehrs โ€“ Mieke
Vinnie Jones โ€“ Mad Maynard
JP Manoux โ€“ Robot Man
Patrick Rapold โ€“ Christoph
Fred Armisen โ€“ Creepy Italian Guy
Lucy Lawless โ€“ Madame Vandersexxx
Rade Serbedzija โ€“ Tibor

Stop by our blogs daily to see who shows up next and what they consider to be the ultimate 2000s film. Use the tag #ultimate00sblogathon to share your comments or entries for the blogathon on twitter. If you miss any of the entries, Kim is keeping an aggregated list on her site, which you can check out here.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story Review (250th Review)

Hello, friends!

Before I get into the review, I want to make a special announcement: this is my 250th film review! I have been blogging for about six and a half years, posting my first reviews in July of 2013. If you ignore my six month hiatus in 2018, that averages about one review a week! I know that I’m not always consistent in posting reviews according to a schedule but I’m pretty excited that I have been able to maintain that average, considering I aim for a review at least every other week.

Thank you everyone for your support over the last 250 reviews! It has meant a lot that you have kept coming back and reading my reviews and other posts. You make me truly enjoy blogging. ๐Ÿ˜€

To be honest, in preparing for this milestone, I actually watched another film to fill this momentous review slot. However, I decided that review would be better suited for the upcoming Ultimate 2000s Blogathon I am co-hosting. In still wanting to keep with the 00 decade theme, I chose to review another of my favorite comedies from the era. And with that, I give you my review ofย Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Enjoy!

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story movie posterSynopsis
Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) and his team of misfits from Average Joe’s Gym enter a dodgeball tournament to prevent the gym from being bought by Globo Gym and Globo Gym’s owner and operator, White Goodman (Ben Stiller).

At its core, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is your basic sports film. A team of oddballs enter a sportsball tournament to combat a team of bullies. It’s basically Rocky or The Replacements but with dodgeball. This kind of story has been done dozens of times over since the invention of cinema. In order to stand out, writer and director Rawson Marshall Thurber puts his own spin on the tale.

This came out during an era of comedy films when movies like Zoolander, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and Napoleon Dynamite were popular. As such, that is the type of humor you should expect from this film. It’s slapstick to the extreme, a type of comedy that I refer to as ‘stupid funny.’ This type of humor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I personally find it enjoyable. That might be because I essentially grew up on this type of humor since many of the comedy movies that were released around that time approached comedy the same way.

The signature of this brand of humor are its characters. One or more are ridiculously over-the-top and exaggerated. Ben Stiller’s White Goodman is just our average workout junkie and evil corporate CEO wrapped into one. Except this is a satire of sports movies so he is the over-the-top one. Opposite him is his Peter La Fleur, the underdog of the tale, played by Vince Vaughn. Rounding out Peter’s ragtag posse trying to save their gym from hostile takeover are Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor), a lawyer who has caught the eye of both White and Peter, Justin (Justin Long) a high school outcast, Gordon (Stephen Root), a connoisseur of obscure sports, Owen (Joel David Moore) and Dwight (Chris Williams), two ex-airport employees, and Steve the Pirate (Alan Tudyk).

Vince is the straight man to Stiller’s funny man. When the two of them are on screen together, they play off each other so well it’s magic. Sometimes a comedy duo works when the pair are friends, like Wedding Crashers, but here, Vaughn and Stiller play enemies and it works splendidly. Vaughn’s timing and deadpan delivery complement Stiller’s crazy antics and exaggerated delivery. If you’ve seen any movie starring Vaughn, you should know exactly what to expect from him. However, Stiller never seems to have a signature style. He is like a chameleon who can adjust to what the films needs. While White may not be as iconic as some of his other roles, Stiller is a perfect fit for the part.

The supporting cast is just as entertaining and hilarious as the two leads. It’s hard to pick a favorite from the group. Justin Long’s body language when he delivers his lines always has me laughing. He makes the most of this when he continuously gets hits by dodgeballs. If you’ve watched Office Space, you know how funny Stephen Root can be. His โ€œL for ‘love’โ€ line is one of my favorites in the whole movie and one that I use myself to this day. Joel David Moore, Chris Williams, and Christine Taylor all also have their own moments to shine and don’t disappoint. And of course I have to bring up the talented Alan Tudyk. His pirate impression makes me wish he’d speak like a pirate all the time! Simply put, everyone does fantastic.

I thought Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story was GREAT ๐Ÿ˜€ The stand-out cast is the highlight of this film and what makes the humor work. Everyone gives fantastic performances and all have several great and memorable moments. Endlessly quotable, this sports spoof never fails to make me laugh, even after at least a dozen viewings later.

Favorite Quote
White: Nobody makes me bleed my own blood. Nobody!


Cast & Crew
Rawson Marshall Thurber โ€“ Director / Writer
Theodore Shapiro โ€“ Composer

Vince Vaughn โ€“ Peter La Fleur
Ben Stiller โ€“ White Goodman
Christine Taylor โ€“ Kate Veatch
Justin Long โ€“ Justin
Stephen Root โ€“ Gordon
Joel David Moore โ€“ Owen
Chris Williams โ€“ Dwight
Alan Tudyk โ€“ Steve the Pirate
Rip Torn โ€“ Patches O’Houlihan
Jamal Duff โ€“ Me’Shell Jones
Missi Pyle โ€“ Fran
Gary Cole โ€“ Cotton McKnight
Jason Bateman โ€“ Pepper Brooks
Hank Azaria โ€“ Young Patches O’Houlihan
William Shatner โ€“ Dodgeball Chancellor
Julie Gonzalo โ€“ Amber
Trevor O’Brien โ€“ Derek
Rusty Joiner โ€“ Blade
Kevin Porter โ€“ Lazer
Brandon Molale โ€“ Blazer
Suzy Nakamura โ€“ Gordon’s Wife

National Treasure Review

National Treasure movie posterSynopsis
Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) has spent his whole life searching for a treasure hidden by the founding fathers of the United States of America. A team of mercenaries learn about the treasure and Ben and his partner, Riley (Justin Bartha), must find the treasure first to keep it safe.

In school, history was my favorite subject. I enjoy history museums of any kind and learning all about the past. Now, my ability to retain the information is a whole other story… Anyway, being set in the modern age with historical events and people being intertwined into the plot, National Treasure is exactly my kind of movie.

The best thing about this movie that makes it work is the chemistry between the three leads. Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha, and Diane Kruger are an absolute joy to watch together, whether it is all three together or any combination of two of them. You can tell they are having fun and it makes the movie better for it.

Nicolas Cage can be an eccentric actor, to say the least, and it can be hard to know which Cage you’re going to get. For every Kick-Ass there are several bombs like Rage. The Cage in this movie is on the mellower side. His signature overacting is there but he is not obnoxiously so like he can be.

Justin Bartha is fun as the comedic relief. He plays well with both Cage and Kruger, creating some of the funnier moments of the film. His character doesn’t have the historical knowledge as Gates or Abigail so information was given to the audience through them explaining the details to him.

Sean Bean’s Ian Howe teeters on the line of becoming cartoonishly villainous. He comes really close to a Saturday morning cartoon baddie but he somehow never actually goes over the line. It’s impressive really. I wouldn’t call him a great villain but he proves more than once he is up to the challenge of competing against Gates.

It isn’t difficult to draw similarities between National Treasure and the Indiana Jones films. This movie follows a similar structure as Raiders of the Lost Ark. Maybe that’s another reason why I like this so much. It is not a direct repeat of Raiders but you can feel Raiders’ influence.

Despite the seemingly many turns along the treasure hunt, the plot is fairly simple and uncomplicated. Gates and company are trying to find the treasure before a group of mercenaries does. Pretty straightforward. There are times when the journey might seem a little far fetched but it is still easy to follow.

As fun and exciting this film is, it does feel like it runs a little longer than necessary. It runs a slightly over two hours long. There is little reason for it to actually be that long. Several scenes could have been trimmed or one less clue included to drop the running time down even just a few minutes.

I thought National Treasure was GREAT :-D. Nicolas Cage, Justin Bartha and Diane Kruger work well together, making it enjoyable for everybody. The combination of American history and action-adventure with a sprinkle of a heist is a fun mix of several of my favorite things.

Also check out my review of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets.

Favorite Quote
Ben: Now, I think that if we look at this clock tower, we may find the specific time.
Abigail: What do you see?
Ben: 2:22.
Abigail: What time is it now?
Clerk: Almost three.
Abigail: We missed it.
Riley: No we didn’t. We didn’t miss it because… uh… You don’t know this? I-I know something about history that you don’t know.
Ben: I’d be very excited to learn about it Riley.
Riley: Well, hold on one second, let me just… let me just take in this moment. This is… this is cool. Is this how you feel all to time? Because, you know… Except for now, of course.


Cast & Crew
Jon Turtletaub โ€“ Director
Jim Kouf โ€“ Screenplay / Story
Cormac Wibberley โ€“ Screenplay
Marianne Wibberley โ€“ Screenplay
Oren Aviv โ€“ Story
Charles Segars โ€“ Story
Trevor Rabin โ€“ Composer

Nicolas Cage โ€“ Benjamin Franklin Gates
Justin Bartha โ€“ Riley Poole
Diane Kruger โ€“ Abigail Chase
Sean Bean โ€“ Ian Howe
Jon Voight โ€“ Patrick Gates
Harvey Keitel โ€“ Sadusky
David Dayan Fisher โ€“ Shaw
Stewart Finlay-McLennan โ€“ Powell
Oleg Taktarov โ€“ Shippen
Stephen A. Pope โ€“ Phil
Christopher Plummer โ€“ John Adams gates
Hunter Gomez โ€“ Young Ben Gates

There is still plenty of time to join in the Christmas in July 2016 Blogathon. If you are interested in participating, go here for all the information.