The Morning After: May 5, 2014

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Atlantic City

In 1979, when the movie was filmed, Atlantic City had recently passed a law that would legalize gambling in the hopes of revitalizing their impoverished town. At the same time, the Hollywood mob films were beginning to wane. The two concepts were blended into Louis Malle’s wistful ode to the great town and genre that were unfortunately fading.

In one of his last major big screen roles, Oscar winner Burt Lancaster portrays an aging gigolo kindly recalling his past while struggling to make ends meet. His evenings are spent watching the rituals of his neighbor, a young croupier-in-training played by future Oscar winner Susan Sarandon. When her loathsome ex-husband comes to town looking to off-load a stolen stash of cocaine, he starts a chain of events that threaten to destroy the lives of Sarandon, Lancaster and the various people in their lives.

Malle’s film emphasizes the degradation of the New Jersey mecca of Atlantic City, a crumbling series of edifices that act as the perfect metaphor for the miserable lives of its characters. Absent the flash and panache of the titans of the mafia milieu, Atlantic City conjures up memories of those films while maintain its individuality. A modern statement on our desire to remember the past fondly and attempt to re-create or re-live it without the realization that what’s gone is gone and there’s seldom a way to get it all back.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

After a rousing reboot, Spider-Man shifts into comfortable, yet severely flawed territory. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are welcome returns to the franchise, their palpable chemistry and genuine talent help elevate a film that struggles under the weight of a meandering, over-burdened script.

As Spidey continues to remember the warnings of Gwen Stacey’s (Stone) father, his past haunts his every move, forcing him to look more deeply into his father’s disappearance. Meanwhile, his childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns from boarding school to see his dying father off the mortal coil while the head of the board makes plans to remove Harry from his leadership role and continue Oscorp’s many questionable projects.

The first film was better than both the original Spider-Man and the third film, Spider-Man 3. Instead of improving on its predecessor like Spider-Man 2 did, we jumped straight to the multi-villain cluster of Spider-Man 3, still the worst film in the franchise, but not too far below this outing. Spider-Man is still the wise-cracking, well-meaning superhero haunted by the various deaths in his life. It’s such a significant improvement over the severely mopey and miscast Tobey Maguire that it bolster’s the film’s overall appeal.

Hans Zimmer’s overbearing score is distracting. The incredibly loose and lengthy script by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci continues to prove why these two should not be making movies. Marc Webb returns as director, but can’t avoid getting swamped by the weak screenplay which over-relies on villains, stacking them unnecessarily, but suffering more from keeping them all separated rather than partnered.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.