One of the biggest flops at the American box office this summer may have itself a happy ending after all. Despite US receipts of $40 million against a reported budget of $177 million, the nearly forgotten sci-fi hodgepodge Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is now finding more receptive audiences overseas, where their audiences apparently have different popcorn-flick standards from ours. Or maybe their trailers were cooler. Or maybe their voices were dubbed into other languages by superior actors. Maybe you haven’t really seen director Luc Besson’s eye-popping fiasco unless you’ve watched it in Cantonese bombastically recited by Hong Kong’s greatest Shakespearean thespians.
At long last, the sequel to the reboot of the film series based on the comics is here! In the jam-packed Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb’s trilogy continues with more villains, more angst, more money for special effects, more merchandising tie-ins, more credited screenwriters, less closure, and much lower expectations because of all of the above elements that have made many a super-hero sequel unwatchable.
The countdown speeds toward its inevitable end:
7. Amazing Spider-Man. I’ve gone on record multiple times with my reservations about unnecessary reboots. On the other hand, after Spider-Man 3 became the series’ answer to Batman and Robin, it’s hard to argue with the corporate decision to enact damage control and give the series its very own Batman Begins. Director Marc Webb avoids Sam Raimi’s fondness for Lee/Ditko/Romita ambiance in favor of transplanting the cast to a less timeless setting. The results reinforce the same moral without chanting it at us, thrill and thrive on their own terms, and recapture the trademark Spider-sarcasm that was my favorite part of the first few hundred Spider-comics I read in my youth, but regrettably in short supply in Tobey Maguire’s earnest, anxious portrayal.