When Franchises Hog Talent Andrew Garfield

Red Riding

Originally posted at Jeff Goldblum’s Laugh

With the seemingly infinite number of franchises bubbling about at the moment more and more actors are being snapped up to appear in an adaptation of a comic book or YA novel. The actors we have grown to love for their intimate roles in independent films are suddenly committing years of their lives by signing up in appear in numerous big budget action movies. In some cases these actors manage to maintain their career outside of the franchise but for a few the pull proves too strong and they disappear inside never to be seen in a different role ever again… or at least until the film series comes to a close.

What sparked this worry off in my mind was my love for the work of Andrew Garfield, the thick haired transatlantic actor who is mostly seen swinging around in a tight red and blue suit under the guise of Spider-Man. It wasn’t always this way, oh no, Garfield used to wear jumpers and have low-budget emotions. Ah… those were the days.

Never Let Me Go

In 2007 Garfield starred in the low-budget British drama Boy A about a young man recently released from prison having served time for committing murder as a child. His performance was subtle and flawless, a feat he repeated in 2009 when appearing as a young journalist investigating a murder in the Red Riding trilogy on Channel 4. There was no denying his acting chops and his choice of roles seemed to favour quality over box office potential or fame.

The end of 2010 and start of 2011 saw Garfield hit a career high with his roles in both the highly successful The Social Network and the Heavy Knitwear Science Fiction staple Never Let Me Go. Garfield was suddenly my favourite actor in the world ever, no take-backs. What would he do next, what indie gem would he grace with his presence?

Since February 2011 Andrew Garfield has not been seen outside of his spandex suit and much as I enjoy him in the role this simply is not good enough. As a consumer I have a right to have my opinion heard!

I can’t help but feel like the Amazing Spider-Man franchise has stolen Andrew Garfield from our screens and stopped his diverse career from progressing. He may be a household name now but with great fame has come great… uniformity. His special lady friend and co-star Emma Stone has somehow escaped this fate and has made five films during the Amazing Spider-Man process. The series’ director Marc Webb suffers a similar fate to Garfield having only made the brilliant (and brilliantly misunderstood) (500) Days of Summer prior to getting sucked into Spider-Man vortex.

The Amazing Spider-Man

It is at this point that my argument collapses around my feet. This is the point in the article where I list the dozens of other actors who have entered franchises and failed to make other work but as you’ll soon see they vehemently refuse to fit my hypothesis which is rude and highly inconvenient.

Jennifer Lawrence has taken on both Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class franchises and still managed to put in Oscar nominated performances in more traditional films. Samuel L. Jackson is in every film that comes out that even tangentially relates to the Avengers behemoth and still is making more non-franchise films than I can keep track of. As for directors Joss Whedon has his finger in as many Avengers pies as Jackson and still managed to make the Shakespeare adaptation Much Ado About Nothing apparently when we weren’t keeping a close enough eye on him.

Contrary to my original fears it can be done; you can have it all and getting involved in a franchise doesn’t have to ruin your career. And by “ruin” I am naively assuming that a career is ruined the minute you become fabulously rich and famous but have a slightly less diverse roster of films. That said I can’t help but think that the big budgets franchises do limit the choices the actors can make.

Perhaps this all stems from a selfish desire to see my personal favourites appear in a larger number of films that don’t involve a single explosion (OK, I’ll allow a small one) or any mutant superpowers. When I look back at the career of Robert Downey Jr. I see Chaplin, Wonder Boys, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A Scanner Darkly, and Zodiac whereas now all we see is Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes. The films are fun, don’t get me wrong, but do they give the actors involved as much scope to test their acting mettle? I don’t think so.

Am I just being selfish, do I hate my beloved actors appearing in more mainstream films that give me less enjoyment but allow them more exposure? Am I just being a snob in assuming that acting in a franchise is less worthy than acting in an indie drama? Obviously the answer here is yes but that doesn’t change how I feel.

I for one will be glad when Andrew Garfield hangs up the spidey senses in favour for screaming on beaches and watch with trepidation as newer actors like Tom Hiddleston, Shailene Woodley, and Elizabeth Olsen take their first steps from the indie world and into the kingdom of franchises. I hope they come back out the other side and still make smaller films. If Emma Watson can manage it then so can they.

Cinema Days & Tweet-Friendly Film Reviews – Magic Mike, The Amazing Spider-Man & Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

This article is sponsored by Costa, whose earl grey tea and delicious brownies helped me power through a Cinema Day this weekend.

For those who don’t know, a Cinema Day is a magical time when a person or group of persons (pfft!) venture to the cinema all day to enjoy multiple bouts of projected escapism, babies crying and fat people coughing up half chewed Doritos into the unfortunate person in front’s hair.

I’ve always thought positively of, and preferred, people going to the cinema by themselves. We don’t go to the cinema to have a good chat with our friends (unless you do, in which case I want Alex Pettyfer to straddle you with his spindly legs and put his junk in your face à la his arrogant character in Magic Mike); we go to the cinema to have our eyes opened to new things, to be entertained and enthralled or simply to realize just how much a sombre Steve Carrell dealing with the impending apocalypse makes us want to incessantly sob.

Cinema Days also used to be a very costly event, especially once you take into account the dangerously large number of high calorie snacks you smother yourself with over the day’s run, but then the Cineworld Unlimited Card came along. It really does surprise me that other cinemas don’t offer a similar deal. £15* a month to see as many films as you want?  Genius!

* There are, admittedly, additional charges for 3D films, glasses, IMAX and/or D-Box.

One of my first ever Cinema Days was in 2002. I don’t remember what else I saw that day, but I vividly remember my final film was Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. I recall as I ran from the auditorium (partly because Nickelback’s ‘Hero’ plays over the film’s credits) I was so pumped, pretending to shoot webbing out of my wrists, kissing imaginary Kirsten Dunsts and swinging around streetlight poles. It’s very comforting to know that cinema (and Cinema Days) can be a constant in our lives as I remember doing the exact same thing coming out of The Amazing Spider-Man – except this time kissing imaginary Emma Stones and thankfully not hearing a note of Nickelback.

Cinema Days are also an excellent opportunity to experiment with watching diverse films and – unless you’re extremely unlucky – you get to go home that day having seen at least one extraordinary film. (As opposed to going out to see one film and it being rubbish, leaving you feeling like you’ve wasted your time.) This weekend I celebrated such diversity by seeing Magic Mike, The Amazing Spider-Man and Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World.

Because three full reviews would be too time consuming for me to write and for you to read after this self-indulgent article I have attached three Twitter-friendly reviews below.

Cinema Days have been and shall remain a staple in my cinema-going ways for a long time to come. Even when I have the whole of London to discover, all-day cinema trips remind me of being a kid in my hometown’s decrepit Odeon, exploring multiple worlds from the comfort of a scraggly chair.

Magic Mike Mini-Review

Channing Tatum, the six foot tall neck and Alex Pettyfer, the greasy-haired mopey nonce show off some exciting striptease moves. At an hour too long, if Steven Soderbergh put as much effort into the film’s plot as he does into putting a sepia filter over every shot Magic Mike might have actually kept me awake in between dances.

The Amazing Spider-Man Mini-Review

There are no emos but there are plenty of hipsters. Tobey’s wimp has been replaced by a confident Garfield, and hyperbole campiness has been replaced by heart and grit. It may rehash but it’s got ample to flash. A strong opening for what could promise to be a great superhero franchise.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World Mini-Review

Steve Carrell somehow makes Keira Knightley likeable as the two of them attempt to track down loved ones in their final days before the end of all life on Earth. Their tale is consistently hilarious and simultaneously tear-jerking. An extremely powerful film that sucker-punches your heart from start to end.

To read more about the Cineworld Unlimited card click here. To learn more about how much Nickelback sucks click here.


Out Now – 3rd July 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man
Two years and 6 months ago the first ever post on this blog was a cynical comment about this reboot. All this time later and I am now excited for this release but can’t see it as thanks to the blog I started I am at a press screening. Ah, the irony. For some this franchise relaunch comes too soon after Raimi’s trilogy span its last web but as someone who was never convinced by Tobey Maguire and friends I welcome the new crew. And what a crew! Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, Martin Sheen, Sally Fields and Marc Webb are all welcome to drop in for tea any time and to have them all working on the one film is a tantalising prospect. Reviews have been lukewarm but few are properly negative so I will be buying a ticket as soon as I can, which will be… Monday. Bugger.

The Best is Yet to Come: 2012

As much as we are obliged to look back over the year just gone, we are obliged to look ahead at the year just beginning. It’s always exciting to look at the next twelve months and all the exciting treats that are coming to our screens. Below are my personal picks of the films worth seeing in 2012, and I’m hoping there will be many more besides, a few gems I haven’t even heard of yet. Continue reading

Sexy Neighbourhood Spider-Man

Until recently we’d only had a single glance at Andrew Garfield’s lycra-clad superhero. Thankfully they didn’t wait until Comic Con to release new pictures from The Amazing Spider-Man, instead giving the scoop to Entertainment Weekly.

In the images below we get our first look at the entire cast, each of whom has proven themselves as quality actors above all else. It does help that they’re darn good-looking though:

See! Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield are a couple you can really root for, sorry Dunst and Maguire but upside-down kissing is out. Continue reading