Friday, May 31, 2002

Spider-Man / *** (2002)

"With great power comes great responsibility."
- Uncle Ben

Something has always baffled me about the notorious existence of the neighborhood hero Spider-Man, and until I saw Sam Raimi's movie adaptation of the popular comic book just this last week, I still wasn't quite sure what that was. As an observer in the past to the web-slinger's penchant to topple heroically off of high-rises and into the murky streets below, moving swiftly to protect innocents from foreboding shadows, I admittedly had as many high hopes going in to the experience as I did unresolved questions. The answer came to me shortly after the movie's hero made his obligatory transformation, but by the time the second act began to unfold, quibbles and speculations no longer mattered, because what I was seeing was not simply popcorn entertainment, but one of the most exhilarating (and silly) screen adventures ever to be inspired by the pages of a Marvel comic.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones / ** (2002)

The name George Lucas has been imbedded in countless lists of the great film directors ever since his "Star Wars" franchise wowed audiences a whole generation ago, but now comes the fifth (or realistically, the second) installment into his famous series, "Attack of the Clones," a movie that might finally (and rightfully) call into question his authenticity as a serious filmmaker. Seldom in the past have we been invited in on such an obvious display of self-serving cinema, in which the director's influence is so apparent that he seems to suffocate the other members of his crew, who are fighting an uphill battle in trying to come across with a sense of identity. But there are no alternative angles for us to look at here; the movie is labored like it were a biblical code of conduct, with Lucas' thumbprint mercilessly smearing the canvas until it becomes too much to handle.

Friday, May 10, 2002

Unfaithful / *1/2 (2002)

"Unfaithful" opens with a seemingly ordinary suburb family preparing for a typical weekday, braving the harsh elements of weather and trying to get all they need to done before the day winds down to a close. But something begins to disrupt this pattern (almost imperatively) when Connie Sumner (Diane Lane) bumps into a handsome book dealer down in Soho during a gusty windstorm, injures her knee, and winds up cleaning the wounds in his apartment nearby. She is attracted to him, and it's obvious he returns the infatuation. And yet she's married, and even more important, to a man she loves (although there is little intimacy between them). Standing on a divide between taking risks and keeping with values, Connie finds herself trapped in a moral situation that can lead to several uncertain outcomes.

Friday, May 3, 2002

Jason X / * (2002)

"Evil Gets an Upgrade."
- Tagline for "Jason X"

We should have known that it would come to this. For nearly a full decade (and what seems like too short a time), one of Hollywood's most notorious killing machine creations, Jason Voorhees, has rested somewhere deep in the bowels of cinematic hell, retiring from slicing teenage throats and ripping guts open after nine installments into his never-ending "Friday the 13th" franchise (a promise, in fact, was made in the last picture's title, indicating that it was, indeed, the "Final Friday"). Now, just two short years into the new millennium, Mr. Hockey mask has returned to the fray, familiarizing himself with those old methods of mayhem in the new film "Jason X." Is this a surprise? Oh, not at all. The only real shocker, actually, is that mankind seems to be just as stupid and naive 400 years into the future as they were at Jason's old hunting grounds.