Nicholas Stoller, the director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek, has mastered the art of blending absurd and over-the-top comedy rooted in very relatable human characters and situations. His latest film, Neighbors, has the same widespread appeal of his previous films. What made Forgetting Sarah Marshall so memorable was that it was a romantic comedy/break-up movie that both men and women can appreciate, likewise, Neighbors is a gross-out “BRO”/party film that both men and women including those who’ve outgrown the party scene will enjoy. The casting certainly helps with the film but the main source of its success is due to screenwriters Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, whose script is layered with equal attention to hilarity and humanity.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2, sequel to the moderately successful 2012 reboot of the Spider-Man film franchise brings the attitude and joy of the modern era Spider-Man comics (particularly the “Ultimate” Marvel Universe book-line) yet fails miserably to come together as a film. Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer), returns for this iteration but instead of adhering to his quirky indie-young romance sensibilities that made the previous film such a charming effort (despite some narrative flaws) Webb instead opts to ramp up the blockbuster superhero action. The result here a mixed bag where the effects-laden heroics are grandiose and certainly capture some of the spirit and attitude of the comics but threaten to overshadow any of the film’s human elements. On top of that is a narrative structure that is as confused as it is messy, completely lacking a proper dramatic thorough line to tie and connect its set-pieces and multiple plotlines together let alone come to a cathartic conclusion. This film may be the best AND worst we’ve seen of this character and franchise on screen and that’s a big problem. The pieces of a great Spider-Man story are in place, but they’re never connected and executed in a way that is meaningful let alone cohesively. Much like the previous film, it gets by on the charisma of the cast and sharp production work, but perhaps due to the film’s bloated and inconsistent nature any and all merits of the film are drastically overshadowed by its weaknesses.
Japanese animation (anime) is as versatile a medium for storytelling as comic books, film, live-action television and the like. Whereas much of western animation is predicated on broad family fare or comedies for older audiences, there’s a variety of content for any and all demographics that is more abundant in foreign, not only Japanese animated productions. A great thing about animation is its ability to portray concepts and worlds uninhibited by the limits of live action and textual mediums. Psycho-Pass is a 2013 22-episode series produced by Production IG (Ghost in the Shell, Blood+) and written & directed by prolific auteur Gen Urobuchi, who was responsible for such cult-classic anime productions such as Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero. Like his other works, Urobuchi is keen on transporting us to a new world to deal with many of the subjects we face in ours.