Friday, 6 December 2013

Trailer Talk: "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"


Rejoice true believers. As you all pretty much know, the first official trailer for Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 dropped yesterday. I had, a little shamefully, already watched the leaked Comic Con trailer from this past summer, so I was unsure if I wanted to watch anymore footage, especially since the CC trailer had already shown quite a bit of footage. Still, I was curious to watch the official trailer since it'd be better quality- and when it comes to something like Spider-Man, I just couldn't resist.

The official trailer is actually strikingly different than the CC one. The biggest difference for me is the focus on Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), childhood friend of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), than Max Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx). While Electro is said to be the main antagonist of the film, this trailer gives me the sense Electro may only be a pawn in a larger plan, a plan that'll lead to the Sinister Six in either the third or fourth film in this franchise. Before the trailer debuted, we pretty much got confirmation that Harry would be the Green Goblin before his father Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper), who we learned in the previous film, and see in this film, is dying. This confirmation came in the form of the close-up of the new poster for the film:

And the trailer also confirms Harry will be our first Green Goblin. DeHaan looks very good in the role, conveying a slightly sinister vibe- though I wonder if it was a little too soon in the series for Harry to go down the bad guy route, particularly when he already had a Harry as GG two movies ago. I know Harry eventually becoming GG is part of the Spider-Man mythology but he wasn't the bad guy right off the bat. Then again, maybe Harry won't be that evil but another pawn of his father Norman and the "evil empire" (as Webb calls it) known as Oscorp.

Cooper has confirmed that this is an introduction to Norman, and I'm starting to get the feeling that Cooper will only have a brief part. The only footage we've seen so far is him in the hospital bed, talking to Harry and telling him, when asked about Peter, "Not everyone has a happy ending." Will this be his only scene?

I'm also getting the feeling the film will go down a route vaguely similar to that of The Dark Knight. Remember in that film the Joker was the main antagonist but once he was out of the picture the film concluded with the confrontation between Batman and Harvey Dent/Two-Face, who was manipulated by the Joker. I think that while Electro may be the central villain, once Spider-Man defeats him, the film will conclude with the confrontation between Spider-Man and Harry/GG. However, it'll be the reverse of The Dark Knight since, as I mentioned, earlier, Electro will the pawn.

I do wish we got more of Electro's back story in the trailer since if you're not aware of the backstory we've been told by Foxx, we don't get much context for Electro's speech near the end of the trailer about a world without Spider-Man.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer screencap


I'm still wondering how much of a threat Aleksei Sytsevich/Rhino (Paul Giamatti) will present in the film. I previously assumed he was only there at the beginning of the film but I think that after Spider-Man defeats him the first time he may come back with his mechanical Rhino suit, which will tie in to Oscorp.

In regards to Oscorp, I think the biggest take away from the trailer was this image of who I presume is the shadowy figure from The Amazing Spider-Man's mid-credits teaser walking past some familiar items:

Those do appear to be Vulture's wings and Doctor Octopus' arms, which is pretty awesome. Colm Feore was rumoured to be playing Adrian Toomes some time ago. It was never confirmed but I think it's a possibility. I don't know how I feel about all these villain being connected to Oscorp however. I understand they're trying to create an interconnected and expansive universe but somehow, and this has mentioned by others, having everything connected to Oscorp makes this world feel smaller rather than larger. It also somewhat betrays the fun and randomness of those early Spider-Man comics, when the creators would just make up random and bizarre characters without much connection to each other. Also, I hope this series isn't just about eventually making a Sinister Six film. While the concept of the Sinister Six have been around since the early Spider-Man comics, this isn't like The Avengers where they're a central part of the Marvel Universe. Spider-Man stories should never put Spider-Man in the background.

The trailer also brings back Peter's father, Richard Parker (Campbell Scott). My biggest criticism of the previous film was how the film didn't do enough with the story of Peter's parents disappearance, but rather shamefully made it a mystery to be played over the course of the series. Ideally I would hope the mystery gets closure in this film.

I wrote an article a while ago concerning why it'd be wise to keep Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) alive throughout The Amazing Spider-Man 2:, though I assumed that without Norman as GG she'd probably live until the third film. While I still stand by my points, I have a feeling Gwen may meet her iconic fate in this film since we are getting an actual GG. There's a shot in the trailer, which I assume is from the fight between Spider-Man and GG at a clock tower, where Spider-Man shoots his webbing downwards, as if to catch something, or someone:

Could he be trying to save Gwen? I think so. While I think Norman's presence in this series may be weakened
if he's not the one to actually knock her off a great height, I could see Gwen's death actually working in this film.

We also get our first, brief, look at Felicity Jones' role unnamed role, said to be someone with a romantic relationship with Harry. I feel Jones's role will be small. Unfortunate since Jones is a splendid actress. I hope I'm wrong and she gets some significant screen time.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer screencap
So, the trailer definitely has me intrigued, and that final sequence between Electro and Spider-Man does look cool. Though I wonder if the movie will just be "cool" or if it'll be something that'll be a genre classic. I sometimes wonder if the great irony of the superhero movie boom will be that not many of them live on in 50 years. Anyway, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens on May 2nd, 2014. See you there.


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights: Adapatation, Interpretation and Modernization


After watching Andrea Arnold’s magnificent Wuthering Heights I began to think about the difference between adaptation and interpretation. What is the difference? For me, adaptation means a filmmaker or artist is adapting a work to another medium, like film or television, but interpretation is when the filmmaker takes the source material and approaches from a different angle, changing something within the source material to fit their vision. This is common in superhero films where there is much leeway in adapting certain characters to the screen. Of course, this can be very controversial when source material is altered but it can lead to interesting results. A film, or what have you, can be both an adaptation and an interpretation at the same time, with some leaning more towards a literal “book on film” approach.
Arnold’s Wuthering Heights is more of an interpretation than merely an adaptation. Moreover, one has to put aside any expectations he or she may have about literary adaptations, particularly adaptations of Emily Bronte’s immortal classic. Her film is the exact opposite of the stereotypes we associate with period pieces- stodginess, awards bait, dry- this is a raw, naturalistic yet lyrical and sometimes unsettling work. It trims down, like other adaptations of Wuthering Heights, the plot, but instead of feeling abridged for truncated, the piece feels like a whole- it feels like an actual film, richly cinematic, almost a silent film (the dialogue is very sparse)- almost Malickian in its appreciation and focus on nature.
 From my memory of Bronte’s novel, not much of the plot is changed, but we never feel the film is just the book on screen. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not heavy with dialogue, and I don’t believe much of the dialogue is actually from the novel. Coming back to the theme of what makes this more of an interpretation rather a strict adaptation, Arnold approaches the novel from a strictly cinematic perspective. It communicates its emotions through visuals and mood. It’s a film we really need to pay attention to- to watch and soak in. I wish I had been able to witness this film on a large theatre screen. The images are so beautiful and textured that I want to get lost in them. I feel the cinema screen is always the best way to experience film, particularly a film like this.
One of the most significant interpretative elements in this film is Arnold’s casting of black actors in the role of Heathcliff (Solomon Glave as young Heathcliff and James Howson as the older Heathcliff). At first glance, this seems like a major change-and it is- but at the same time, making Heathcliff black while keeping the other major characters Caucasian feels truer to the spirit of Bronte’s novel. While Heathcliff wasn’t black in the novel, he was intended to be of an unspecified ethic origin (a gypsy I believe) which is why he was an outsider in this world. I don’t believe Heathcliff was supposed to be the image of a matinee idol like Laurence Olivier. With the casting a black actors, Arnold gets to the heart of Bronte’s fascination and empathy with the idea of the outsider. Critic David Fear, in his video essay on the DVD, parallels Heathcliff with Bronte, highlighting the fact that Bronte herself was an outsider in her time. Despite being a male character, Heathcliff was a very personal character for Bronte.
By making Heathcliff black, Arnold not only gets (arguably) closer to Bronte’s conception of Heathcliff, she re-contextualizes Heathcliff’s sufferings as the sufferings of people of African descent- despite the film not taking place in the United States. I think Heathcliff being black allows for a more relatable and contemporary entry point for audiences.  And the film, despite taking place in the same era as the novel. It can be difficult making a period piece feel modern- the easy way out would be to set it in modern day- which was Arnold’s original intent.  But Arnold finds the balance between setting the film in the past as well as making it feel contemporary. I think she manages this by using a hand held camera work, putting the audience right in the middle of events, making us feel like we’ve been transported in the past. Arnold’s work with cinematographer Robbie Ryan makes the moors of Wuthering Heights feel real to us, allowing us to view this world as a realistic place that existed for people- that was modern and common. I think that’s the key to Arnold’s mastery of modernizing the past.