It’s very rare for a superhero movie to be in the realm that Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 is. On one hand, this is the best representation of Spider-Man ever seen on the screen, period. Andrew Garfield is uber convincing as Peter Parker/ Spider-Man, New York accent and all. His chemistry with real life girlfriend Emma Stone (Gwen Stacey) makes their relationship all that more believable. Then we get to the villains. To call this movie crowded is an understatement, it’s jammed to the point of everything getting stuck. Paul Giamatti’s Rhino doesn’t appear for much more than 2 minutes supplying some weird comic relief and Jamie Foxx is poorly used as the downgraded-to-henchman Electro. We also didn’t need another Green Goblin origin, yet here we are.
The movie has some serious talent behind it and no one phones it in. Villians wise, Jamie Foxx has the strongest presence, starting out as an emotionally unstable mechanic working for Oscorp and ending up a super powered henchman for his boss after an on the job accident (in splended franchise fashion). Giamatti gets the short stick, as I would have loved to see more than thirty seconds of him “driving “his Rhino mech-suit and hamming up a Russian accent. Harry was the best written and most rounded of the villains, desperate to cure a hereditary condition that could kill him and eventually turning into the Green Goblin. Dane DeHann excellently exudes the proper broodiness. On the family side, Sally Field’s Aunt Mae is spot on and enduced great nastalgia to some of the older Amazing Spider-Man issues.
There is fan-service in full in this movie, trying to disguise a “meh at best” score and a sense of well-intended rush to get the movie out. Winks and nods to possible future series installments left me excited, but weary. Are we just going to get more of the same? On the other hand, there are brave directions the movie decides to go down that many genre-movies don’t touch and well executed emotional moments.
Director Marc Webb and co do an amazing job of bringing the webcrawler to life. Even the spirit of the movie closely mimmics that of the comic it’s based on. The humor is there, the costume is awesome and he pulls some amazing moves. In the climatic battle I did wonder why he didn’t actually punch anyone, but other than that, the Spidey stuff was amazing. The villain stories felt mainly crammed in and mostly unneccesary, but hopefully the franchise payoff is worth it. Unfortunately, the inclusion crowding causes the movie to buckle under its own wait. In the end, the Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a middle of the road movie and still has me excited for the series’ potential as a born-again fan.
My Grade: C
As someone who has poured hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours into WoW and has had a hard time fitting into another MMO, Wildstar quenches that MMO thirst. Carbine’s MMO takes elements both familiar and new to the genre and blends them together in an engaging, highly stylized package that, so far, has me excited for the game in a way that few games have. Fair to say I’ve only leveled a character to 11 in the beta, but what I’ve played has mostly left me impressed with what Carbine has managed to create.
The sci-fi tale told is a familiar one: two factions are warring over the naturally-lush planet of Nexus for colonization. In a nutshell, the imperialistic Dominion wants to level it and use it for its resources while the rebel alliance-esque Exiles just want a place to call home. Of course, one does not simply land a ship and call it “home” as Nexus is as dangerous and mysterious as it is beautiful and bizarre.
Each faction has 4 races to choose from (both with robot, human and cat-people things) as well as 6 classes to choose from. The classes fall into “healer, DPS, tank” elements, but that’s an element that still proves to work well. As someone who prefers ranged DPS to melee (though melee classes are still fun), I chose the ESPer (Exile cat person race) who conjurs telekenetic weapons and spells to deal damage and heal with.
Combat is where Wildstar really starts to stand out, aside from its brimming personality. Both you and your enemies attacks are telegraphed before they’re casted, the marked area being where the majority of damage will be aimed. This makes dodging and jumping (yes, jumping) during combat vital tactics, especially in post level-5 quests, not just in butt-kicking, but merely surviving. Dodging out of a telegraph also doesn’t mean that the enemy totally misses, but it also means that you won’t neccesarily be buying a farm either. The result is a frantic and fluid feel to the action that requires strategy and relying on line of site attacks rather than simply tabbing an enemy and hitting a number. The evolution of the action makes the game feel more, dare I say it, hardcore. I’ve died a lot, complete with a voice over mock, and feel like I have no one to blame but my own stupid self. For long-time WoW players, the questing mob difficulty is on par with pre uber-nerfed WoW (it could be difficult).
Speaking of brimming personality, Wildstar is brimming with it! This game does the best job of making you feel awesome every time you level up, no holds barred. Huge lightning bolt letters and sparklers go off every time you Level Up, complete with voiceover commentary, and presents fantastically. The quest themselves are pretty cut and dry, but the writing (that of which you can read, which I’ll get to in a bit) and cartoony artistic style makes me smile and help keep me drawn in. The episodic feeling to each zone adds a comic book or TV show vibe that’s pretty unique to MMO’s.
Lore and plot are there if you want it, but you have to seek it out, especially for the plot. Often after turning in a quest to a quest-giver (I much prefer the ones that can be turned in over communicator for this very reason), a dialogue bubble appears that’s often hard to read because it’s either hidden behind the quest-rewards screen, or it’s just hard to see. What also pours salt in the wound is if you’re in a zone with an active chat community, relying on the text box for the dialogue can be a drag and kills some of the immersion that the game obviously works hard to build.
Wildstar is something special and I’m glad I’ll be there for its launch. I’ve ran into very few performance issues and am impressed by how well everything holds up with me playing the game on low-settings. I’m excited for the dungeons, I’m excited for the adventures and I’m excited to see what craziness Carbine has in store for me.