Movie Review: Winning Season

I needed a net-fix so I gave Winning Season a try solely because of Sam Rockwell.  I was fully prepared for the movie to be a blatant Bad News Bears Rip off so when it started out that way I didn’t pay any attention.  Surprisingly, The movie comes into its own fairly quickly and though Rockwell is certainly the strength of the film I found myself pretty interested  and actually enjoying the movie.

Sam Rockwell is readily introduced as a drunk who works nights as a busboy.  He is quickly reconnected to a former classmate/athlete who runs their Alma Mater and is desperate to find a new coach for the girls basketball team.  So, he takes the job, but hates it and doesn’t take the girls seriously.  Meanwhile, his daughter who plays basketball for another school, hates him.  So, the story pretty much writes itself after that, except watching Rockwell’s tenacity as a coach and his teams dedication to him even after he gets fired is really something, and the overall turnaround for the character and a well executed ending make it a worthy view.

First of all, I do give it full marks for story.  It could have very easily been a rehash of the same old sports movie routine and while it still had those common elements, its individuality outshines its derivative genre aspects.  That combined with Sam Rockwell holding it down in the lead really makes the movie worth watching.

It’s not perfect.  a lot of the acting from the girls is corny and forced.  Not great dialogue may be a factor, but the performances at times are reality-show-awkward.  The story is not particularly clever, but original enough to not just re-watch Coach Carter, or something.  Unless you want to have a battle of the Sams.  (Nick Fury against Justin Hammer?)  Thankfully, it’s not so overwhelmingly awful that the really entertaining parts can’t be enjoyed and overall I give it a solid B.

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Review: The Amazing Spiderman

Fantastic?  Incredible?  I’d say that The Amazing Spiderman truly lives up to its name.  Besides earning points for best Stan Lee cameo ever, The Amazing Spiderman takes the cake as best Marvel based film of the year, beating the thoroughly enjoyable MIB 3 and the mildly disappointing Marvel’s The Avengers.

It turns out Marc Webb wasn’t just chosen for his name.  His sensibility brought Spidey to life in the best vision ever shown, live action or animated.  Borrowing heavily from Chris Nolan’s take on the Dark Knight while retaining Sam Raimi’s horror and comedic influence,  Webb created a world for spiderman that is genuine and exciting.  Andrew Garfield matches him bringing everything to the table to creat the perfect Spiderman.  Add to him, the gifted cast including Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Denis Leary and inspired staging and visual effects and you’ve got more than a blockbuster.  It’s a true classic.

In this take, which retells Spiderman’s origin, Peter Parker wants to know why his father, a secretive scientist mysteriously disappeared.  In the process of investigating the matter, he comes in contact with some of his father’s life’s work, a radioactive spider.  gene splicing is researched in the lab to find a way to use the advantages of certain animals to heal humans.  Dr. Conner, a former colleague of Peters Dad hopes to use reptile DNA to regenerate his lost forearm… but something goes terribly wrong.  Peter’s character is much more complex and satisfying this time around, making both good and bad choices, while remaining true to his perspective as a teen with a lot of questions.

James Horner sets the mood beautifully throughout the film with his masterful score and Alvin Sargent returns as co-screenwriter to Basic, The Losers and soon to be Robocop scribe James Vanderbilt.  The film was wonderfully paced and well-balanced thanks to the remarkable work they did pre and post production to build and enhance the character of this fine story. A+