Friday, 13 July 2012

I didn't like the amazing spiderman

Self-explanatory post this really. I didn't like The Amazing Spiderman, a film adaptation of a comic book series, released July 2012. That's about the gist of this post, if you've had enough move on, if not, read on and i'll give my two cents about what was wrong with it, in 5 sections.


Having seen the film with some friends, some feedback i received from those with me was "It was so much better than the Spidermans with Tobey Maguire!" I haven't seen those films, infact, I lie, i saw about half an hour of the first film before falling asleep. Going on this, I never watched it/any of the other Tobey Maguire Spidermans ever again. Perhaps to my advantage, I didnt have to watch this film through shit-tinted spectacles (which were given out to all viewers of the first three Spiderman films). Now, i enjoy the TV show Scrubs, but I don't compare the most recently seen episode to the last in terms of enjoyment, so I didn't for this film. Hence, it may have been better than the others, but it was still poor in my book.


Again harking back to Tobey Maguire (daft way of spelling the name Toby by the way), it is evident that he played Spiderman with a monotonous indifference to everything around him, friend or foe, love interest or villain. Hence again, some people i've spoken to enjoyed Andrew Garfield's on screen cocksure attitude. Watching the film through blinkers so to speak, he was just sure a far too cocky, far too sure of himself for a teenager. To put things in perspective a little, this character is an orphan, and during the film saw his Uncle (who was his defacto father) get shot AND got a ridiculously harsh community service punishment for "making a fool" out of one of the school bullies (despite having had the Bully earlier clock him in the jaw). Now, for a man who has been aggrieved and luckless in his young life thus far, he was remarkably arrogant. I'm not suggesting that they should have trodden on The Dark Knights toes, but really what had happened to Peter Parker should have resulted in him being a bit more angsty when in the spidey suit.

Plot filler? 

Despite only being 136 minutes long, it felt like one of the longest films i've ever seen. Me and the chap next to me in the cinema would frequently lean toward one and other and make some kind of smarmy remark about "How long is this film??" and "When's he gonna start fighting the bad guys??" Both justified statements, I probably wouldn't be far off in suggesting that we have to wait about an hour until anything remotely classed as action happens. Between the beginning and that point, it just seems like unnecessary filler: Oh my word estranged teenager, bit of an outcast at school, has the hots for someone, oh my god she works at the same firm who her dad works for, haha cheap laugh, ooh they're going on a date! etc etc... Really, when you tot it all up, Spiderman only engages in two note worthy fights, both with The Lizard (I looked the name up, that's the baddies name if anyone was wondering), one on a bridge and the other on the HQ of OsCorp. Not much really, considering IMDB describes it as an Action, Fantasy, Adventure, Thriller.

A massive waste of everyone's time

No, not the film. Here i'm referring to the Peter Parker's relationship with love interest Gwen Stacey (played by the lovely Emma Stone). It's a bit will they won't they for the first half of the film. At a good 20 years and a half old, I don't wish to sound arrogant but i must say i'm above all the teen romance bullshit, so in truth i didnt so much get into that aspect of the plot. They then kiss and it's quite nice. Then after a secretive relationship, he goes round to the Stacey's for dinner and doesn't get on with the father (been there). The father of course is a police commander, and being Spiderman (a vigilante) there is a conflict of interests. The relationship goes on, and when the Police Commander eventually finds out Peter is Spiderman, there is a swing and all of a sudden he trusts him, and lets him out of police custody to get The Lizard. After it's all done, and the dust has settled, the two unlikely partners in bringing down the evil villain share a moment. The dying Commander, asks Spiderman to "leave Gwen out of it." Now, in my head for some reason i assumed he meant "don't turn her into your sidekick, leave it in the bedroom, you know what i'm saying...?" Well, he didn't mean that, of course he was on about them breaking up. Which they did. And their whole relationship was a massive waste of everyone's time.


Spiderman came about as the vigilante he is, because he was on a vendetta to find the man that killed his uncle. After several failed attempts, Spiderman moves on with bigger fish (or Lizards) to fry. They never came back to it, and again, i'm wondering if the criminal that shot his Uncle got away with it or not?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

An Elected House of Lords is a recipe for disaster

The temptation to write what would possibly be my fourth "film-related" post was, trust me on this, incredibly tempting. However, for the meantime I shall delay said idea for a blog and return to my blogging roots, harking back to a time when all I bored you with was politics. Compared to my essays on the subject, i'm going to dumb it down a touch, just so it can appeal to world en masse (2,250 hits worldwide in just over a year, whoop whoop).

To my dismay, the Government's House of Lords Reform Bill is set for its second reading on the coming Monday (9th) and Tuesday (10th of July 2010). [I ought to mention to those who don't know, a Bill is a proposal for a policy to be enacted into law, to put it simply]. This is an incredibly important part of the process of law making. The first reading is merely an announcement of the proposed legislation. The second reading however is the meat and drink of the legislative process: The House of Commons will debate and then vote on the issue. Expect there to be fireworks between what should be a particularly busy House of Commons. 

Indeed, unlike other Bills, this is particularly important because it has the potential to change the constitutional framework of the United Kingdom. Now, the United Kingdom doesn't have a written, codified constitution. The United States are of course the prime example of a country that does have such a document, which is often why you hear many controversial issues described in America as "Unconstitutional". The UK, does have a constitution of sorts (that is, an idea of how the country should be run), but it is not found in one place, it is found in several, in Acts of Parliament produced over hundreds of years. Naturally, these Acts of Parliament  get old, and Political Parties tend to fight elections on the basis that they need updating. Classic examples would be an Act of Parliament allowing marriage only to be between a man and a woman; many years ago this was fine, but as countries and indeed democracies develop, opinion changes, and in 2005 an updated Act was passed to allow marriage to also be allowed between same-sex couples. 

Coming back to the reason for the blog, the three main parties (and this happens very rarely) all agree that the House of Lords needs to be updated to be more aligned to  other aspects of the modern political framework. The House of Lords at present is unelected, members exist by virtue of nomination. This is deemed undemocratic by the party machines that exist in the UK. Naturally, the word "undemocratic" is incredibly inflammatory to the public, because often "undemocratic" and "dictatorship" are found very close to each other in the political dictionaries around the world. 

Of course, changing it would be great, but I shall highlight three problems with making the House of Lords an elected chamber:

  1. It will be party dominated - much like the House of Commons, anyone who wants to stand has a better chance if backed by a party. Indeed, anyone can stand for the Commons (famously, Katie Price once stood for election as an MP). However, the electorate tend not to vote for independents and smaller parties. In the bigger picture, they see 1 of at most 3 parties getting into Government, and setting the legislative agenda. A vote for an independent is considered a wasted vote, because of the support that the steam rolling major parties can create. Indeed, the House of Lords at the moment consists of a vast array of intelligent, independent minded members, who contribute massively to the legislative process. People will not go to the polls and vote for Mr Independent on the basis he has contributed massively to medical research (as he would have been nominated to the Lords for). Instead, they will vote for the party, as people do time and time and time again in the House of Commons. The Lords would just mirror the House of Commons in terms of its composition. You think legislation is fastracked through the Lords at the moment? Imagine how quick it would get through, with a Majority in both Commons and the Lords. 
  2. They will have an elected mandate - Gordon Brown as Prime Minister never won an Election as a party leader, hence he was Prime Minister without an "elected mandate" for his Premiership. This damaged his credibility severely, because of the way he inherited his post as PM. Indeed, if the Lords are elected, they will carry an elected Mandate into their role. Great! Wrong. Lords will have been elected in the UK by a proportional system of voting. This is widely accepted as a fairer system, because the amount of votes received tends to equate to the amount of members elected (i,e, if Labour recieve 25% of the vote in the Midlands, expect 25% of Labour candidates from the Midlands to be elected to the Lords). Without wishing to debate the merits and demerits of the system, there is a consensus that a PR system is fairer than the system in place for the House of Commons: a Single-member list system. If members are elected by a fairer system, what is there to stop members saying "Hang on a minute, we're here fairly, you lot [in the House of Commons] have been voted in via safe seats and on 36% of the popular vote, what we say is far more legitimate than what you say!" The point is, the Lords may well get into a position where it is superior to the Commons, which would upset the political system of the UK (the Prime Minister would thus be drawn from the "unfair" House of Commons).
  3. Loss of expertise - I pose the question, will my University Professor stand if the House of Lords become elected? Well, I did ask him that and he said he wasn't sure. In reality, as a Conservative member of the House of Lords, he would only be able to stand if endorsed by the Party. Punch Lord Norton into Wikipedia, and you will find the quote  "the United Kingdom's greatest living expert on Parliament". At the moment, he can weigh in during the legislative process, something i quite like the idea of, particularly if the debate is with regards to anything about our political system. An elected House may well exclude such experts, as indeed its very much down to the parties as to who gets in and who doesn't. It would become a chamber not so much of experts, but loyal party candidates, who are more than willing to vote inline with the party. At present there is a very lax whipping system in the Lords, regardless, there is no majority in the Lords because of the existence of 181 independent cross benches. 
Indeed, I would suggest three good arguments, as to why the Lords should be kept as it is.