We’ve certainly lived with electricity a long, long time. Now, in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), it’s being used by Jamie Foxx as one of the most destructive weapons imaginable. The power was forcibly harnessed in Foxx’s character, Max Dillon, via electric eels! Oh, well.
For a superhero movie, this one is quite rich. It’s long but not overstuffed with action (stuffed, not overstuffed). Its look is wonderfully urban, varied, and pretty: kudos to cinematographer Dan Mindel. It’s an appealing love story, wherein a sensitive Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is frequently distraught in his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone)—and what charismatic actors Garfield and Stone are here! Others, too, do very well.
A family pic (no sex between the principals), TAS2 is, I think, better than the first (reboot) film. Too, it beats the pillow feathers out of most of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies.
In Niagara (1953), Marilyn Monroe plays a tramp of a wife and Joseph Cotton her neurotic, harried husband. Sojourning in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the two wish to murder each other, the husband for revenge. . . Naturally, Marilyn’s beauty (in Technicolor) is luminous, but her mechanical acting mars the movie. By and by, however, it primarily becomes Jean Peters’s film, at least in the female department: She enacts a honeymooner who is the one person aware that the Joseph Cotton character is still alive after everyone else believes he is dead.
Savory touches abound in Niagara, directed by Henry Hathaway, who wanted a bit of artistic exploration. Hence there is a gripping pursuit on a staircase and a poignant discovery of a lipstick holder. There is the hazy nudity of femme fatale Rose (Monroe) behind a shower door contrasted with the wet but clothed body of innocent Polly (Peters) awaiting rescue from the river. There are even some shots anticipatory of something like L’Avventura (1960).
True, Hathaway seems pretty distant from his material, but it doesn’t matter. Its virtues keep Niagara from falling.
Sergeant York (1941) is a coming-of-age and coming-to-faith story. There is much that is wrong with it, but Alvin York’s biography is interesting, even with the limited treatment it receives here. A hellion as a young man, he became a Christian and resisted fighting—resisted killing—in World War I until he discovered such Bible verses as “Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s . . .” It is well known that during an offensive in France York killed and captured a large number of German soldiers.
Religion is handled in a rather callow way in the film, but at least it’s treated seriously. Howard Hawks’s direction succeeds splendidly in what is a not-bad flick.