“The Amazing Spider-man,” DVD SPI, directed by Marc Webb, stars Emma Stone, of “Easy A,” Dennis Leary and relative newcomer Benjamin Garfield, reprising the roll of Peter Parker.
What truly is amazing is that it took Marvel Enterprises three movies to drop their winy Peter Parker and find a new Spidey willing to shake things up a bit.
Refreshingly, Spidey’s origin story this time around reaches back to before Uncle Ben is killed, back to when Peter is 4 and his parents’ are mysteriously killed.
Peter’s idyllic childhood is torn apart seemingly out of the blue when his geneticist father whisks the family away and drops Peter at Ben’s house for safekeeping. Soon the news of the Parkers’ deaths makes the say permanent.
Jump ahead a few years and precocious teen brain Peter, like any good coming of age protagonist, starts to itch to solve the mystery of where he comes from.
Peter finds that his own DNA has been altered by his father, and along the way Peter resolves some of the mythology’s radioactive spider pseudo science rubbish.
A fourth Spidey film in what seems like as many years builds some of its amazement with this version’s star-studded backup cast.
Hollywood icons Martin Sheen, with a career spanning from the jungles of “Apocalypse Now” to the White House in TV’s “West Wing,” and Sally Field, snatching the role of Mary Todd in the forthcoming historical drama “Lincoln,” share the supporting-role spotlight with Stone, Leary and Rhys Ifans, the wiry Welsh punter from “The Replacements.”
Ifans, as Dr. Curt Connor, has continued in the cross-species genetic work after the death of his former partner, Peter’s father.
When Peter sneaks into Connor’s lab he is bitten by the famous spider and gains superpowers and the recognition of Emma Stone’s character, Gwen Stacy.
While Peter works out his new arachnid powers and in the meantime falls for Gwen, Dr. Connor is spiraling out of control after testing his breakthrough regeneration serum on himself.
Spider-man must find his place as a hero or become the vigilante that much of the public and Gwen’s policeman father – played by Leary, thinks he is.
“The Woman in Black,” DVD WOM, directed by James Watkins and starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), is not just another in the endless parade of ghost-house thrillers with chilling special effects and edge-of-your-seat suspense.
Well, it is but there’s more to the period film than that.
Radcliffe, attempting to cast off his adolescent wizard character type, takes on the role of Arthur Kipps, a young Victorian widower (complete with a scattering of facial hair) who travels to the remote village of Cryphin Gifford from his home in London to settle the estate of the recently deceased Mrs. Drablow.
The residents of the misty village are chilly to the young attorney, afraid that his meddling at the Eel Marsh House will roust the town’s curse, a ghostly woman in black who leads children to their deaths of horrible self-inflicted injuries (think fire, ingesting lye and moving trains).
As Arthur digs into the Drablow family effects at the really great Marsh House – cut off from the seaside village during high tide, he finds a story of madness, drowning and suicide.
It seems that old man Drablow “adopted” his illegitimate nephew after having his sister declared insane. The spinster-sister’s madness becomes worsens as she is kept from her son. She finally commits suicide after watching her son drown in the marsh that surrounds the house.
Arthur must pacify the vengeful spirit that blames the village (and mainly her late brother) for her son’s death, before his own son becomes the lady in black’s next victim.
Atmosphere plays a key role in “Woman in Black” and sets the film apart from the myriad of ghost films appearing of late.
From the eerie first scene – in which a trio of girls are called to their death by the ghost – to the village and the mysterious Marsh House the cinematography drowns the mise en scène in mist, tweeds and damp shadows.
While the story is not terribly original this adaptation finds merit not for eye-popping effects, but for its simple, but effective, storytelling.