Saturday, May 24, 2014

Film Review - The Amazing Spider-Man 2

With five Spider-Man movies in a dozen years, multiple cartoons, a handful of video games, and countless comic books it’s easy to understand where the stifling sense of franchise fatigue surrounding the latest big budget adventure of the web-slinger stems from. In 2002, when the character first burst on to the big screen with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, the concept and presentation seemed fresh and the potential limitless; twelve years later it’s hard not to think that the series might be running out of steam.
It’s impossible to know the impact the reboot had in this exhaustion. In 2012, when Sony restarted the franchise under the banner of The Amazing Spider-Man, the idea was undoubtedly to breathe new life in to one of their biggest commodities with a new story, new director, and new cast. It seemed to work – Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in particular earned high praise as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy and while the film wasn’t as big of a home run as Raimi’s attempts, it did well enough to ensure the continuation of this incarnation.
Somehow in the two years since that film the air was let out of the balloon. A heavy marketing campaign for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, including a stint at McDonald’s and the Post Office, seemed to land with a thud. With whispers rising about the overabundance of superhero movies, Spider-Man seems to have become the scapegoat of costumed crusader weariness.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 being remarkably unremarkable doesn’t help its plight. It’s not a bad comic book blockbuster, and certainly ranks above the dismal Spider-Man 3 that capped off the last trilogy, but it does nothing to exceed expectations and illicit excitement. It is, as has been the suggested sentiment, just another superhero movie.
What The Amazing Spider-Man 2 gets right evidences the potential it possessed. Electro, played by Jamie Foxx, is a visually spectacular character with a classically tragic origin story. The showdown in Times Square that was featured heavily in the trailer is as aesthetically stunning of a scene as can be found in any big budget summer flick. Electro’s human element is what really sets him apart and presented the possibility for him to rise up in to the immortal echelon of on-screen super villains. Unfortunately, the plot swerves away from Electro and ends up regulating him to being not much more than a lackey henchman, which strips him of his initial intrigue.
Many fans were skeptical about the use of Harry Osborn and the Green Goblin so soon after it serving as the underlining thread in the previous trilogy but The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Goblin is fresh and effective thanks in large part to Dane DeHaan. DeHaan plays a solid Harry Osbon but an absolutely excellent and terrifying Green Goblin. It’s not at all hyperbolic to say that in just one film DeHaan has taken the mantle of the Goblin from James Franco.
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone haven’t missed a beat from the last movie. Their chemistry is palpable and they successfully maintain an air of youth and energy in both their respective characters and their relationship. While Garfield still doesn’t fit the nerdy mold many longtime comic fans expect of Peter Parker, he has certainly come in to his own as the brash, wise-cracking wall crawler.
The parallels between The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 are hard to ignore. Both feature visually dazzling characters (Electro and Sandman) that despite their penchant for eye candy and fireworks never quite come all the way to life. Both highlight the Spider-Man/Green Goblin archenemies angle but fail to fully realize it, probably due in part to the distraction of other villains. Most significantly both had the building blocks to be powerful knockout punches for their series but can’t shake a strange, hollow lifelessness that is unbefitting of such a dynamic and charismatic character.  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is good but here’s to hoping that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 will be better.

Grade: C+
Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Agatha Award Winners

The Wrong Girl

May is a busy month for mystery awards!  We shared the Edgar Award winners yesterday, and today we bring to you the Agatha Awards.

The Agathas are named after the well-loved author Agatha Christie.  The awards are sponsored by Malice Domestic, Ltd.'s annual convention that celebrates the "traditional mystery" such as Christie wrote.  Also called "cozy mysteries," these stories are defined as those with no explicit sex or excessive gore or violence, which makes them ideal for readers of all ages.

And the winners are:

Best Contemporary Novel-- The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Best Historical Novel--A Question of Honor by Charles Todd
Best First Novel--Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz
Best Short Story--"The Care and Feeding of House Plants" by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (available as a PDF from the Malice Domestic website, linked below)
Best Nonfiction--The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower
Best Children's/ Young Adult Novel--Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Give us a call at 618-344-1112 to request these stories.

To view all of this year's nominees, check out the Malice Domestic website.

Posted by Kyla Waltermire, Adult Services Librarian

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Award Winner- "Ordinary Grace"

coverThis year's winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel is "Ordinary Grace" by William Kent Krueger:

"New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder. Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family— which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother— he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer."

Sound good? Then give us a call at 344-1112 to request it!

The Edgar Awards are sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America and recognize excellence in the mystery genre. To see other winners and nominees, visit

Posted by Kyla Waltermire, Adult Services Librarian

Monday, May 05, 2014

Dinosaurs and Aliens on the Children's Floor

What's cooler than dinosaurs and space ships? That's right - absolutely nothing! Your little one can get their fill of both with our current Children's Floor displays. This double dose of awesomeness won't last long though so get to the library as quick as you can.
The "These Books Are Out of This World" display features both educational non-fiction material about space and its infinite wonders as well as an assortment of alien invading, laser blasting, star trekking tales of interstellar, extraterrestrial adventure.
Similarly the "When Dinosaurs Rules the Earth" display showcases a mixture of non-fiction historical research and study as well as fun, playful Dino stories fit for all ages.
Don't miss out - come to the library today!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Make the Most of Summer

It’s hard to believe but it is already that time of year again – the days are longer, the weather is nicer (sometimes), and it is time to start planning for how to best utilize these integral months wherever everything seems to slow down and speed up at once. Luckily for you the library has all kinds of ideas of how to make the most of your summer. Whether you are looking to learn a hobby, grow a garden, go on a trip, or just get out of the house,  the library has your summer planning covered!

Stop in today to check out our “Make the Most of Summer” display on the main floor and get your summer started right.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk

Thursday, May 01, 2014

On This Day In 2013...

Rapper Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly died of a drug overdose on this day in 2013. Kelly became famous in the early 90's as one half of the kiddie rap/novelty act Kris Kross. The duo had a huge hit with the song "Jump", which charted No. 1 for eight weeks and was certified double platinum as a single. In fact, "Jump" was so successful that even the group's gimmick of wearing their clothing backwards briefly caught on as a popular trend among confused tweens. A tour opening for Michael Jackson, movie cameos, and even a Kris Kross video game followed. One-hit wonderdom came calling fast however, and the group was never able to match the success of their debut. 

Key Library Checkouts:

Totally Krossed Out by Kris Kross - Ever wish your commute to work sounded more like a sixth grade roller skating party from 1992? Of course you do, and this is just the CD to make it happen!

Posted by Grahm Underwood, Library Clerk