Fault in Our Stars

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I think there needs to be a tissue holder as well as a drinks holder for certain films and Fault in Our Stars is one of those films. I could hear sniffling all around me as people were taken up by the sadness and emotion of the film, which is an experience I have never come by before. The majority of the audience were female although there was the odd male partner sitting there no doubt trying to keep their testosterone in check. The film is sad, but it is also very positive in many ways!
We have all been affected by cancer, maybe we haven’t had the illness ourselves but no doubt know someone close who has it or had it. If you are in a room of three people one of you is likely to have it at some point in your lives and that is pretty scary despite the medical advances today, which have made many cancers treatable. I think seeing anyone with a horrible disease is difficult, but seeing those that have only just started out in life suffer is really hard. They are so often very brave, wearing a smile even if it is only to protect those around them. Fault in Our Stars is about three young people living and dealing with cancer. It shows how it has affected their lives as they strive to live like a normal teenager and prepare for what could be their final moments. The main focus is on Hazel and Gus who are brought together through a support group. They deal with their illness in different ways, one, Hazel is pragmatic and knows the inevitable will one day sooner or later take her life. She is strong willed and accepting and fears for her parents when she is no longer there. She just wants to carry on a normal life without too much fuss. She does not pity herself, but at the same time she wont carry on as if the cancer isn’t along side her. The treatment she receives has kept her alive far longer than anticipated and it means she can look to a bit further into the future than most.

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Gus is the complete opposite and he carries a smile where ever he goes, he is willing to laugh cancer away. This being said he said he wants to grab life with both hands and do everything he can while he can in case cancer does take hold of him again. Where Hazel wears a frown, Gus has a permanent smile. He is Mr Popular, the life and soul and doesn’t look any different from any other teenage boy. Hazel has tubes running from her nose and has to carry an oxygen tank where as Gus can hide his loss beneath his trousers. He only has one leg due to cancer, but this doesn’t stop him from living a full life, that is until it comes to girls and girls are pretty important to a teenage boy. Not many girls that age will want him with only one leg which he confides only with Hazel. He steps into the virgin circle without shame although the surprise on Hazels face is clear. Gus doesn’t feel the need to keep his feelings and emotions in check and shows his love for Hazel early on and continues to do so despite being pushed away. Hazel is guarded as she does not want to hurt this lovable boy because one day he may have to cope with losing her. The contrast in characters is perfect and makes it feel far more real and far less fairytale. This is true life with all its bumps in the road and goes along way to develop each character in how they are feeling.
There are still dreams however, this brought about through the love of one book detailing the life of one girls life and death. The dream is to meet the author who has isolated himself from the world due to his loss. Gus is determined to forfill Hazels dream and actively pursues the author until he gets what he wants. It doesn’t quite go to plan, but the memory is one they will never forget and it turns out to be three of the happiest days of their life. There are some twists and turns along the way and many lines of wisdom, but to see the fight these young people have is inspiring.

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The friend of Gus’ also plays an important role as he loses his sight through cancer as well as the beautiful girl who is not quite as beautiful inside. He has to accept that some people are shallow and cant deal with his blindness as well as he can. His emotions are up and down, but he always has Gus to help him along the way. Revenge is a dish served best with eggs we soon learn in a particular fun scene where all three take on the shallow people of the world. They support eachother through thick and thin and can all relate to one anthers struggles even if they deal with them in different ways.
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I really enjoyed this film and the performances from the young cast were brilliant. I think they will be stars of the future particularly Shailene Woodley who has already raced to the top with her performance in Divergent, which of course has a follow up film to come. Ansel Elgort who plays Tris’ brother in divergent (I hope this doesn’t freak you out) is brilliant as Gus and is able to portray the full range of emotions as they all struggle with cancer. They really look good as a couple and have great chemistry. It is really important to do the characters good service when the topic is so sensitive and when so many are affected by it. The fact that so many in the audience were crying shows you how powerful the performances were. You also felt inspired leaving the cinema and there were many moments where you could laugh out loud. I said before this is a positive film and you will leave the screen feeling that way. You feel sad for these young people, but you do not pity or feel sorry for them as they make the most of their lives.
The cast is fairly small, but we also see the affect on the parents, main;y from Hazels mums point of view who encourages her daughter to reach out and make the most of her life. They too have to struggle with the fact that one day their daughter may not be there any more. They make plans for this and no matter what they will always be her parents.

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8/10

How risky is driving?

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Originally posted on random musings:

You may or may not know that I was involved in a major car accident 5 months ago which left me with fractured ribs, a punctured lung, a shattered knee cap and many lumps,bumps and bruises. Physically my progress has been remarkable thanks to the support of my girlfriend, her family, my family and those working with me at the hospital and at work, particularly my wok physio Mark. Sometimes the physical impact after a car crash is easier to deal with as you just have to work hard and wait for your body to tell you that it is ready to do certain things. The mind however can take a lot longer and is sometimes harder to heal. The crash left me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which I have sought counselling for. I am not one to open up and I find it hard to express feelings…

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when in Rome?

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The series was made back in 2005 and I remember watching a few episodes and really enjoying it although I can never religiously follow a series. This has now changed because you can watch one after the other on sites like Netflix and Amazon prime. I am still re cooperating and so I need to keep myself occupied, which usually means writing, reading, watching and doing my exercises.I decided to pick up the series ROME once again and have enjoyed every minute of it. History is a topic I loved at school and continue to enjoy through documentaries, films and books. Rome gives you a look into the life of a Roman and believe me it is not for the faint hearted. They were a very clever, but extremely brutal race of people and determined in their pursuit of world rule.

There were only two series made but they were actioned packed with many of the well known historical villains and heroes of that time. Julius Caesar has not yet gained power, but is hungry to do so as he tries to usurp Pompey with cunning and force. He is not a man scared to go behind a friends back if need be and will certainly kill to get what he wants. Love is way down the list if it means that his dream can be forfilled, which his wife soon realises. The power does become his but in Rome you are always at risk from schemers and the black coffin is never too far away. Brutus and Caesars scorned wife are his main protagonists, but there are also the famous Mark Anthony and Cleopatra who would also be willing to do anything to place Rome under their feet. The series does not just look at the most powerful, but also the common soldier and you can really delve into the normal Romans life.
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Two men making up the bulk of the story are Lucius Veronus and Titus Pullo who are brave warriors returning from battle. Luscius has a family to go back to where as Titus only ever had the army, making it difficult for him to find a role in Roman life. You see their pitfuls and how the Roman soldier struggles to fight what is natural to him and that is shedding blood. So often this leads to the smell of death around the home or on the streets. You see that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder goes back thousands of years as the two men cope with what they have seen and done. There is a great distance between Luscius and his family due to his long absence and the love that was once so strong needs to be built again. The two men are complete opposites and Titus often does the wrong thing, but they remain close friends. Where Luscius soars Titus falls although both struggle with life and are never too comfortable away from the army. In war they are warriors and heroes where as in Rome they are just like everyone else.
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There is blood and guts in almost every episode as arguments, scheming and war spill out into the city. There are very few with morals and the people have a strong lust for life and an even stronger lust for recreating it, whether that be with their wife, mistress, servant, prostitute and in some cases their own brothers and sisters. Nudity is common, both male and female, front and back, which you would no doubt expect back then. Rome was full of “Bastards” in its literal sense.You can imagine a man and woman having to go without for many years as war is going on has quite a strong urge for sex. Some of the women could not wait believing that their husbands were dead and ended up with a man back home. Prostitutes eyes lit up with gold coins as soldiers returned wanting an easy lay. It sure was a colourful life to live back then if not a long one. There were very few grey hairs and wrinkles simply because many did not live long enough to gain them.
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The relationship between Octavian who would later become first Emperor of Rome and his sister was one of love, hate and at some point completely inappropriate. Their mother Atia was the devil incarnate as she schemed to gain her place amongst the elite. She made many enemies and wasn’t scared to use her body to gain favour and torture those that crossed her. She never used her own hand of course because why get stains on your pretty attire when your thuggish henchmen can do the job. There was love for Mark Anthony, but we all know who he was devoted to, don’t we? Octavians sister never amounted to anything and her kind heart soon became bitter and her poor decision making and the need for love gave her a great deal of pain. There were many dysfunctional families back then, so it is not a modern day thing.
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The sets are amazing and really give you a taste for Roman life. The simple homes of the common Roman gave you that warm and cosey feel. Then there is the enormous regal buildings where the most powerful lived, ate and came to a bitter end. The lavish lifestyles of the rich really paint a picture of excess and there were no holes bard making life seem more civilised today, although humans haven’t changed a great deal over the centuries. The beautiful white togas against the mucky streets and the sack like clothes that the ordinary man wore showed the difference between the elite and the poor. Life was never dull and days were never quiet and you most certainly couldn’t turn your back on someone because before long you would feel the cold steel running through you.

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9/10

I have the Power!!

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It’s the age old question! If you could have one power what would it be? My thoughts of this stem from the fact they I am currently watching the X-Men films. I’d be pretty gutted if I were an X-man with a rubbish power, for instance having butterfly wings, which would look pretty girly on my masculine frame (those that know me, know that I say this in jest). Invisibility would be amazing but in the wrong hands this could be turned into something more sinister. Have any of you seen Hollowman?

Would you go for supreme strength? What would you do with it? Maybe you could win the Worlds strongest man? Become boxing world champion? Or fight world wars on your own? The head of the X-Men band can read minds, place himself in the bodies of others and read the past. Would you really want to know what was in someone’s mind? You might not like what you find. You would know someone’s true opinion of you, but who wants to know that?

The ability to time travel would be amazing! Did you know that on the 22nd of this month Marty Mcfly arrived into the future. The vision from 1985 was way off the reality although much more interesting. I would be very wary of seeing the future because you might find out things about your own life. I would love to see the swinging 60’s, the age if Dicken’ s and be able to see the true size of Henry the 8th. This too could have catastrophic consequences.

Having seen a large number of countries on my travels, many being 3rd world, I would love the power to eradicate greed. Surely this would stop wars, corruption, hunger and crime. I would love to see everyone have their fair share! What would your power be?

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Liberace fabulously vibrant darling!

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I saw Behind the Candelabra some time ago when it came at the cinemas in the UK and I thought it was a brilliant film about an amazing and flamboyant man. I believe that the film was not released in the U.S at cinema screens and was only played on television. It is a remarkable story about a man who performed amazing feats on a piano and loved to entertain his adoring fans with amazing costumes and flamboyant entrances. Sadly one thing that he could not reveal was the fact that he was gay despite it being very obvious to those close to him. His fear was that his career would be over if the truth came out. This was the same for many actors and actresses who were often set up in marriages and relationships to cover up their homosexuality. Actors like Rock Hudson married so that his sexuality wasn’t revealed. This not only ruined the lives of those trying to cover it up but also those that were marrying them. It also caused there to be rumours around Hollywood surmising who was gay and who was not. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were rumoured to be in same sex relationships or at least having flings. The whole story of their long affair was apparently a rouge to cover up their homosexuality. There are others like Cary Grant and Randolph Scott? Cant two men not live together without being gay? Others include Joan Crawford, James Dean, Larna Turner, Alec Guiness, Lawrence Olivier, Vincent price and Dennis Price. Some lived horrific lives because of the way society treated homosexual people. Dennis Price and Montgomery Clift drank themselves to death maybe because of the way they were made to feel. Jodie Foster took a long time to come out, so maybe Hollywood is still homophobic? The best kind of society would be one where your sexuality is personal to you and shouldn’t be judged. Surely gay people should not have to come out and their relationships should be accepted without question or intrigue?
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Liberace covered up his homosexuality up until his death at least publicly anyway, but of course there were always strong rumours. He even sued the English press and won the case to prove he wasn’t gay. Their were also cover up relationships and even in his book he replaced the relationships he had with men and made them into ones he was having with women. This is the sad part of the story and I think he was imprisoned by fame, but was addicted to it at the same time. The film covers a short period of his life when he was in a relationship with a troubled young man called Scott Thorson. They have a very tempestuous relationship full of jealousy, drugs, deaths, anger and control. There is a fear of getting old leading to slimming pills, wigs and plastic surgery, everything was done for his fans. This was then pushed onto Scott in what became a very controlling relationship. The film ends in the 80’s during the aids explosion when sadly Liberace falls to the fate of the terrible disease. This is definitely a film worth watching and is dealt with in sensitive way but without holding anything back.
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The performances from both Michael Douglass and Matt Damon were brilliant. I have never been a fan of Michael Douglass’ work and believe that his father is a far superior actor. This performance surprised me and I read that the idea for a film on Liberace had been in the offing for many years with Michael Douglass in mind for the main role, The imitation of Liberace had been a party piece of \Michaels for a while and he wasn’t shy in performing it in front of Soderbergh the director. To play Liberace takes some doing and Michael had to really reveal himself in not the most flattering ways. He had a paunch, a wig covering a bald head and had to take part in many sex scenes which at his age takes some courage. I know I wouldn’t be comfortable revealing so much of myself. The thing about playing |Liberace is the fact they you can let yourself go and can never be too over the top.
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Matt Damon maybe had the harder task as he had to take on a Bi-Sexual character and handlle it in a sensitive way. He had to show subtlety and not go to over the top to make himself a believable character despite all the ridiculous make up depicting a young man having had plastic surgery. He also had to play a part of a guy that went from being overweight to having a muscular physique. I’m not sure if this was done by gaining wait or using padding. It is a great performance worthy of the awards that both of them won and a very entertaining and sad story delving into the depths of a relationship and the characters flaws and insecurities. There is also an extremely funny turn performed by Rob Lowe as the plastic surgeon who makes us laugh with his permanently fixed face. There is also the funny moments when Liberace sleeps with his eyes open because he can no longer close his eyelids, but of course looking twenty years younger has it’s drawbacks. This made my partner laugh as apparently I also sleep with my eyes open without having had surgery.
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This is great film to watch and don’t think you need to know Liberace as I knew nothing about him before the curtains rolled back. It is hugely entertaining and has everything from love, to shocks, sadness and also makes you laugh. There are plenty of cringe worthy moments and plenty of sex scenes and male nudity, but this is not too distasteful or shocking. This is Liberace’s life and character on the big screen.

8/10

Down Pompeii!

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I love a big Roman Epic and although I didn’t expect Pompeii to be a blockbuster I was looking forward to seeing it. I also find it interesting that so many Game of Thrones actors are involved in some of the latest releases. Pompeii has kit Harrington Aka Jon Snow who although plays a slightly more sensitive fellow in Game of Thrones he plays pretty much the same role in Pompeii. Pompeii is an amazing city, which throughout its history has tried to hold its own identity and separate itself from Rome. The city has a spectacular arena and is in the midst of a giant monster of a volcano. It was estimated that 20,000 people lived there which by today’s standards is relatively small, but the city’s streets were filled with people and Romans treated Pompeii as a holiday retreat. The city had known earthquakes and tremors before, on one occasion it is believed that an earthquake reaching 5-6 on the Richter scale hit the almost dream like city. It is a time in history that interests me with some amazing invention and architecture to blow you away. The Romans were often barbaric, but were an incredible race of people.
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The film starts off with the Roman demolition of the Celts in England where Milo (kit Harrington) sees his parents put to the sword, by the ruthless Roman soldiers. He survives and grows up to be the last Celt and a skilled warrior, which leads him to Pompeii as a gladiator slave. Not a great time to be in the city. The film follows his battles, love, his skill with horses and friendship with the best Gladiator in Pompeii. There are rumblings from the ground for a number of days, but these were just passed off as small tremors. We of course know what is to come and it is mother earth at its most destructive and scariest.
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The Roman Corvus a successful man in battle and soon to be a major investor in Pompeii arrives for the local festival and disjoints a few noses along the way. Severus being one of the unfortunate to cross his path and more unfortunate is the fact that he has a beautiful daughter who had caught Corvus’ eye. Keifer Sutherland an actor I have never really rated plays Corvus, who is disgustingly evil and this really comes through in a very hammy way. He is the pantomime villain, but is still a great deal of fun. It was really a performance for “Up Pompeii” rather than a Roman epic. I think this type of film definitely falls short compared to those of the 50’s and 60’s.
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The city itself is remarkable and I guess it was mainly created by CGI as it is on such a large scale. The amphitheatre is enormous and full of drama and chorus from those wanting blood as entertainment. The aerial shots are brilliant and give you a feel for the size of the city. The effects for the Volcano were amazing and it really felt real as the hot lava bombed down on the city. The large crowds scrambling over everyone to get to safety reminded me of many other tragedies throughout history. This is an ancient Deep Impact or 2012 and the acting is very similar.
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There is of course a love affair, which is created by just one look which brings about a very strong bond. Milo has caught the eye of Severus’ daughter due to his gentle touch with horses. The feelings are not particularly believable and its hard to believe that the strength of their love Is so strong in such a short time. The good thing is that the romance is quite a small part of the story and doesn’t end up too mushy. The friendship between Milo and the champion gladiator Aticus is the best part of the film as are the sword play and fighting scenes which I truly enjoyed. Why did they call him Aticus? You’ll make sense of my question if you see the film.
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It’s not an awful film and there are some good performances, but on the whole Pompeii didn’t get what it deserved. This could have been a real epic with the right storyline and some better performances. Kit has been selected due to his role in Game of Thrones, but he performs far better in the HBO series then in this film. Keiffer Sutherland will not win me over with this performance and this role will in no way outshine Jack Bauer from 24. I think they both would be better off sticking to Tv for the foreseeable future. The film is enjoyable for the drama, the amazing eruption and the great view of the city, but do not expect an epic.
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6/10

The Amazing Spiderman 2

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I have always loved Spiderman at the cinema and on the TV screen. I remember watching the 60’s version when I was little. I would like to make it clear that I watched the film in the 90’s, not when it originally came out. The concept of a man being bitten by a spider and then being able to do the amazing things that a Spider can do is brilliant. Its amazing that a super hero has come out of a creature that so many people fear and hate and would squish without a second thought, but will look on in admiration when their powers are shown through super human feats. Here are some spider facts for you…

Arachnophobia is the fear of Spiders. It is one of the most common fears in the world. It affects approximately 10% of men and 50% of women. The severity of the fear can vary.

The largest spider is the Giant Bird Eating Spider and the Huntsman spider is the world’s largest spider by leg-span.

The strongest material in the world is considered the silk that Spiders create. Scientists haven’t been able to recreate this design even with all the technology we have today.

Spiders are near sided so they aren’t able to see items that are far away from them.

Jumping Spiders are able to jump up to 50 times their own length. This is possible due to increasing the amount of blood pressure found in the back limbs.

Spiders help the environment by eliminating volumes of insects that would otherwise be around in your garden and other locations.

Spiders use hydraulic power to propel themselves upwards.

http://www.spidersworlds.com/facts-about-spiders/

http://insects.about.com/od/spiders/a/10-Fascinating-Facts-About-Spiders.htm

There are some pretty amazing facts there and don’t worry I wont be adding pictures and I have left out some of the horrible stuff. I think Spiderman is lucky that he hasn’t taken on all the powers of a spider because it would mean he would have to liquidise his food, eat his own webs after tidying them up and boy if there was a Spiderwoman then he would be in serious trouble.

The film itself is definitely worth watching and the effects are pretty “Amazing” ‘and very well used, particularly the slow motion effects during battle scenes. They add a real sense of drama and danger during the film. I really like Andrew Garfield as Spiderman and I like the way they have made his character quirky, fun and in many ways quite arrogant when rescuing people from danger. We still see the sadness from his past where those close to him have died and left a hole in his life, which is very important to the story line. I have seen all the Spiderman films and I love the different ways they have been interpreted. I have very little knowledge of the comic books, so I cannot say whether they run true to the story, which is probably best because I know how annoying it can be when directors choose to change things and move away from how things should be.
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Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacy who is a very strong character and not a whimsical side line to Spidermans heroics. She is a strong woman with her own goals who will not just go weak at the knees at the sight of him, which is pretty refreshing. It is a true love story and not a simple infatuation and Peter Parker/Spiderman really needs her in his life as she has the knowledge and ability to help him. Emma Stone brings about a very emotional performance in this as well as portraying a very heroic woman.
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Dane Dehaan seems to have really exploded onto to our screens in the last two years with his performances in Place Beyond the Pines and Kill Your Darlings. His performance in this film is just as good although I think he may have to break away to stop himself being stereotyped so young. Again he plays a young man full of angst and anger at the way he has been treated by his father and feels bitter about his life and the illness that will definitely kill him. He plays Harry Osborne who is friends with Peter Parker and now the new leader of Oscorp, which means that everything he could wish for is his apart from the most important thing, which is his health. The friendship between the two men is not very believable and the strong bond doesn’t make a lot of sense as they have barely seen eachother during their adolescents. They do have a connection in terms of feeling rejected by their parents who both worked for and ran Oscorp before they died. I just didn’t feel the bond between these two and if time permitted it would have been nice to see their friendship grow again. Harry can live, but needs Spidermans blood to do so, but this could be fraught with many dangers.
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Jamie Fox is cast as Electro, a character I have never come across before and again having not read the comics I am not sure if he is a made up. I thought he was a strange choice of actor and this was a strange film for him to choose. I just didn’t feel he was a great character and I don’t think it suited Jamie Fox to play him. The basics of this character is that he is this geeky guy who no one takes any notice of and through a freak accident he becomes Electro and now he wants to be noticed and take revenge on the human race and Spiderman. I just wasn’t a great fan of the performance and I think the character could have been a better adversary to Spiderman. He was almost like a sidekick to Harry by the end.
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Sally field is always brilliant and again she doesn’t disappoint as Aunt May. You can see how much she cares for Peter and the anguish she feels about his father and her husband Ben. Peters Uncle. You also feel her pain as she tries to keep hold of Peter a man she has brought up from a young boy. There is the feelings of anger when Peter tries to find out about his parents when it was Aunt May that worked so hard to bring him up when in her eyes his parents abandoned him. This a very strong character and a strong performance.
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The plot is pretty simple and its all about how Peter copes with being a superhero as well as normal guy with all the problems that come along the way. He is trying to live two lives and it’s not quite working out, leading to an on/off relationship with the love of his life Gwen Stacy. There are many adversary’s and one that is created by the end of the film. Spiderman wins the day as always, but at what cost? . He has to use his intelligence with help from Gwen to defeat the baddies and become a hero to the people. There are many ups and downs and some tragedies along the way. There are also some surprises for Peter as he searches for the truth.

It is a very long film, but at no point to did it go into a lull and the majority of the performances were very good. I really enjoyed the action and really enjoy Garfields take on Spiderman which I admired in the first film. This definitely a better film than the first with a lot more going on. Those who follow the comics might be a little annoyed that parts do not follow the comic books and i’m sure there are bits that I know little about, not having read the comics that will annoy you as well. Sometimes it is great not to be an expert and just sit back and enjoy the film. There is sure to be a third film in the coming years.
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7/10