Tagged: reviews

Hollywood and geek fandom are anxiously awaiting the release of The Avengers, “Earth’s mightiest heroes,” hitting movie screens this May. With the wild success of some superhero movies, and the ignoble failures of others, does a movie with several superheroes offer better odds? The new trailer offers grounds for hope. The movie features Iron Man, star of two megahits ($318 million for the original and $314 million for the sequel), alongside the Hulk (star of two respectable duds; $132 million for the ’03 version and $134 million for the ’08 version), plus Thor and Captain America, both of which had impressive film debuts of their own (Thor: $181 million; Captain America: $176 million). That’s a $1.3 billion franchise (stats from Box Office Mojo). Plus toss in Hawkeye and the Black Widow (and Nick Fury), minor Marvel characters that Marvel has promoted via cameos in other flicks. It can be tricky enough to handle team dynamics in a comic book; I wonder what will happen when a team gets the Hollywood treatment. » Continue Reading…

A new trailer for the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man movie has come out, giving a good idea of the direction the reboot will take. Rebooting a franchise after only 3 movies seems a waste, so this new beginning had better have a good vision, one that justifies starting over. The trailer points to the mystery of Peter Parker’s missing parents, fueling the plot and building Peter’s character. I’m not a fan of childhood flashbacks. It’s taken for granted most super heroes (and many other literary characters) are orphans. Maybe this is to just reduce the narrative complexity, or maybe it’s a necessary ingredient of hero-building. The new movie links Peter’s father to the scientist who becomes The Lizard.

The comic books never had the burden of each issue being taken as a whole, but the movies come out too seldom to be truly episodic, so each movie needs to feel complete. A power franchise like Spider-Man also means the producers have to plant seeds for larger story-arcs and future villains and plot points, but each movie still needs to end with resolutions, and to have resolutions it must first establish complications. So, screenwriter James Vanderbilt has chosen to use Peter’s parents to bind the action with sentiment. We’ll see if that works. » Continue Reading…

Second Spider-Man Trailer, Reviewed

Death stalks the stage in Constellation Theatre‘s production of Federico García Lorca‘s Blood Wedding. A mother grieves years after the death of her husband and oldest son, with her surviving son bearing the burden of providing a new generation to take care of the family farm. The good news of his finding a bride is mixed with worrisome news: the future bride once was with a man related to the murderer of the mother’s husband. I would suggest “Romeo and Juliet and Juliet’s Crazy Ex-Boyfriend” as an alternate title for this play.

Luckily director Shirley Serotsky does away with melodrama and presents this tragedy with duende, earthy and ethereal. Key to the plot’s emotional twists is the bride, played by Victoria Reinsel, who has to choose between passion and love.

The story is accompanied by music throughout, primarily by guitarist Behzad Habibzai sitting on the side of the stage. Actors join in by singing, most joyfully when rousing the bride with “Awake, O Bride, awaken,” the guests’ celebration contrasting with the bride’s own sense of doom. » Continue Reading…

“You, Nero” is a historical farce from Arena Stage‘s resident playwright Amy Freed. Having been staged before on the west coast, Arena took this zany confection and mounted a colorful production in Fichandler’s in-the-round stage.

Integral to the production is the casting of Danny Scheie as the impish Nero, who fully inhabits the role and draws in your empathy even while making clear his character’s demented schemes.

The story doesn’t offer a clear protagonist, in spite of Nero’s sheer cuteness. Our narrator is the playwright Scribonius. While his morals make him the only character to wrestle with ethical dilemmas – such as, say, whether killing your mom is a bad thing – he remains distant from both the audience and his fellow Romans. In a comedy this dependent on schtick, his introspection is overshadowed by fear, lust, and anguish. » Continue Reading…

Roman Shenanigans at Arena Stage