This day in geek history: February 12


The Adventures of Superman radio show first airs: originally broadcast in New York City and eventually syndicated on ABC radio, the show introduced the phrase "Up in the sky! Look! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!"


The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I really wanted to love this movie. The second installment in the recently rebooted series has a fantastic cast, great chemistry between the leads, and (some) amazing effects, but it just couldn't pull together into a great experience. By the end, I enjoyed it well enough (although the more I think about it, the less I like it), but I have no interest in seeing it again. And I was depressed at the end.

Look, any comic geek worth his or her salt knows the fate of Gwen Stacey, so it's no surprise. But one of the few things really going for this rebooted franchise is the amazing chemistry between the main actors - Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey. They both have a great presence on screen individually, and they really clicked together. So, to have that end leaves me even less interested in further stories.

Some of the other things I like in the movie are: the amazing shots of Spider-Man web-slinging through the city, Spidey's banter during fights, the interaction between Peter Parker and Aunt May (played by Sally Fields). And, I enjoyed the sappy ending scene with the kid who was willing to take Spider-Mans's place, especially the way Spider-Man handled the situation.

However, the bad stacks up pretty high. The Green Goblin look is amateurish. The development of that character is even worse. The Harry Osborne alter ego is played like a bad Keaneu Reeves surfer dude having a temper tantrum. Jamie Fox is poorly abused with the badly written Electro character, especially the confusing alter ego character Max Dillon and his "motivation" to become a supervillain. The Electro effects were uninspiring. Although it was fun to see Paul Giamatti as a supervillian, his character wasn't developed at all, and I felt like he was give short-shrift as a set of bookends to the film. I assume we saw Rhino as is a setup for the third movie, where we're going to see a supervillain team-up.

And what was up with the weird, effeminate, German, mad-scientist who tortured Electro? That wasn't just bad - it was offensive and took me completely out of the movie. WTF!

I guess it just felt like the movie let me down. So much potential on paper, but just poorly developed and portrayed. I guess I blame the director Mark Webb? I know every geek is going to have to see this movie, but once is enough. And if you can wait until you can stream it, or see it as part of some subscription service, or even on an airplane, then wait.


Captain America: Winter Soldier

The first movie I'll talk about in this blog should be a great one, and the second Captain America movie meets that requirement.

I completely enjoyed this film. It's a fun and engaging movie that continues to develop the title character as well as all the supporting characters. It managed to maintain the integrity of the comic book hero while facing contemporary problems. There were beautifully choreographed fight scenes, touching character moments, and a well structured plot that kept me completely engaged through the movie.

I also happened to see it with three "nieces" who were visiting us and who offered to treat me as a payback for hosting. I'm usually reluctant to see a genre film for the first time with others, because I hate people talking to me during the movie, but these three gasped, exclaimed and cheered at exactly the right times and made it more like watching opening night with a theater full of geeky fans. I had the best time at this movie because it was a great film with great company.

Also, this movie had so many Easter eggs and comic references that kept me finding little treats. I've seen it twice now and I'm still discovering new things discussed on other fan sites. All the character names (good, bad, and inconsequential) seem to be taken from the comics. They referred to other characters in the Marvel Universe that haven't been seen in any movie so far (Steven Strange!) They're also some clever nods to other movies. Robert Redford plays a major role, and apparently in a scene where he's at home opening the refrigerator, you can see he has a bottle of Paul Newman's Own salad dressing (Paul Newman was Robert Redford's co-star in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.)

Natasha Romanoff (played by Scarlett Johansson) has a major role in the movie, and once again, she has some of the best fight choreography I've ever seen. Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie) made perfect sense as a developing friend and partner to Steve Rogers, and his Falcon alter ego was believable enough and looked fantastic. Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) had a significant role and had an amazing car chase/combat sequence. And the Winter Soldier (played by Sebastian Stan) was a dead accurate portrayal from the comic book.

Have I made it clear how much I loved this movie? I have to say that the second time I saw the movie, it wasn't as wonderful as the first time. I don't know if that's because of the difference in company, or if the suspense was lessened once I knew what was coming. The fight scenes were just as amazing to watch, but the plot didn't keep me as engaged. That would probably argue for the latter reason.

I can't recommend this movie enough. It was great fun and so far, my favorite movie of the year.