Weekend Reviews: “Spider-Man” fails to amaze, “Belle” dazzles

ImageThere are often course corrections by critics over the course of a director’s career, or over the path of a film franchise.

Maybe critics, like Siskel & Ebert at the start of the “Ace Ventura” era, will all of a sudden discover GRAND fun and GREAT art in a second film after audiences embraced a first film they so memorably and cluelessly trashed.

Maybe critics who wept tears of bitter joy over the silly “depth” of “The Tree of Life” go ahead and eviscerate everything Terrence Malick does afterward, rightly realizing — late — that he’s lost it.

Or maybe they ride the tide of “Amazing Spider-Man,” knowing how angry the killer bees of fanboydom will be if they don’t, even if they know it’s a heartless, cynical “product.” Still, nobody likes to be called an “easy lay” or a hack, even when it fits.

Thus, does “Amazing Spider-Man 2” fall into rotten territory on the Rotten Tomatoes tomatometer.

I dined out for months on the web traffic I got for being a lone voice in the wilderness saying “Amazing” wasn’t. Now, my middling endorsement of the second film — Garfield’s found a fun way to play the character, at least — may end up being in the minority as a huge section of the reviewing classes are panning it. I sat on the fence with this one, cut Garfield, if not the hack making the film, some slack. “Ordinary” it is. Let the killer bees be damned.

“Belle” is a splendid romantic lesson in history, art, slavery and class. Jane Austen meets “12 Years a Slave.” A star-making performance by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, a director (Amma Asante) now to be reckoned with. Go see it. A cluster of New York critics panned it, but they’re a circle jerk of hate, on most occasions.

Actual conversation I had with a publicist for the movie “Walk of Shame,” who refused to preview the film for critics. Including me.

“Listen, tell your boss that NOBODY is going to be talking about this movie THIS weekend of all weekends. NOBODY. You need people to review it.”

Wouldn’t listen. POS will be lucky to pull in 77 customers, nationwide. Utterly ignored, too.

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