Connect with us


Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Mike Finkelstein just got bit by a spider. Suddenly, his vision and strength seem to be improving tenfold, and he is able to sense all these dangers from around him. Or maybe all of that is just a hallucination from the poison slowly seeping through his veins. Damn spiders…Here is his review of “The Amazing Spider-Man”.



Mike Finkelstein just got bit by a spider.  Suddenly, his vision and strength seem to be improving tenfold, and he is able to sense all these dangers from around him.  Or maybe all of that is just a hallucination from the poison slowly seeping through his veins.  Damn spiders…Here is his review of “The Amazing Spider-Man”.

PLOT: The retold story of how Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) became the one and only Spider-Man.  This time, however, the focus is on Peter’s high school relationship with first love, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who also happens to be the police commissioner’s (Dennis Leary) daughter, and his battle with Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who will soon be known as The Lizard.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is by far the quickest reboot in superhero movie history.  It has only been five years since SPIDER-MAN 3 destroyed our collective Spidey-loving hearts (Raimi was talking about his fourth and fifth entries as recently as 2010), and only a slim decade between this and Raimi’s original SPIDER-MAN.  So with the strong taste still lingering from the previous trilogy, as well as competition from five years of Marvel’s universe and the undisputed perfection that is Christopher Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT saga, what are the odds that Marc Webb’s vision could leave its own footprint on the fanboy world?

With a new, fresh cast, a villain many have been craving, and enough changes to the origin story to make us feel like we’re watching something new, it seems like Webb has not only does his job, but created a version that actually outdoes the films before it.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN tells the all-too familiar origin story of how Peter Parker became the aforementioned superhero, but this time around, we get a narrative more in line with Nolan’s Batman films.  Yes, there are the same plot points that we have to hit, and I’ll admit that there were moments where I was feeling a small tinge of déjà vu, but luckily, each point is altered just enough to make us feel like we’re not watching the same damn thing again.

What you may not be expecting, however, is how dark the film really does go.  Each and every character has their demons to face, starting with the mysterious deaths of Peter’s parents.  Beginning with the last time he saw them and fast forwarding to today, we see the toll the loss has taken on Peter, and the drive he has to figure out exactly what went wrong.   This kid is depressed, and when you add onto that the very quick and almost casual death of Uncle Ben (if you haven’t known this was coming, you really have to brush up on your Spider-Man lore), you wonder when things could possibly go anywhere near right by him.

Also welcome is how Peter actually gets molded into the superhero he soon becomes.  His vigilantism is no longer due to a moral obligation because of a new great power (although the classic line is missed, even if it is paraphrased…), but instead more of a secondary result of Peter trying to find his Uncle’s killer.  In lieu of rushing to get him into the full suit, we get mini clashes with small-time crooks that build the bridge from teenage freakazoid to hero, and when we do finally get to the climactic final battle with a villain Peter literally created, it has more heart and soul behind it than most comic book movies of the last five years.

So how was Spidey, you ask?  Completely opposite from Tobey Maguire’s nerdish version of Peter, Andrew Garfield is perfectly cast as more of a social outcast that’s almost comparable to James Dean.  Parker is good looking, kind and nowhere near awkward here, but his shyness, obvious smarts, and almost emo personality is what makes him the loner we all love.  It’s an interpretation that hasn’t been done before, fits perfectly into the environment, and is a huge step to giving this entry its own identity.

Building on Garfield’s Parker is his love interest.  Instead of the well known Mary Jane Watson, Webb decided to go with Peter’s original young love, Gwen Stacey.  The chemistry between Emma Stone and Garfield is undeniable, and it was nice to see that Gwen really liked Peter even before his climactic bug bite (damn you, ya shallow MJ!).  I think everyone in the audience was blushing every time they were on screen together, if only because of how cute and innocently they interacted.

As for the villain, we’ve been waiting to see Dr. Connors turn into The Lizard for almost a decade now, and Webb handled his transformation beautifully.  Dr. Connors can almost be thought of as a hero for testing an unpredictable serum on himself instead of countless others.  Yes, he was overtaken by said serum later on, turning him into the necessary badass foe (those claws are intense!), but everything else, from his feelings towards Peter and his parents to his interactions with Norman Osbourne’s minion is only lined with good intentions.  Rhys Ifans brought out those conflicting emotions brilliantly, and gave us a reason to both like, hate, and fear the man at the same time.

Marc Webb has done something that many comic book fans thought wasn’t possible: he took a story that was still fresh in our heads, twisted it around, and served it up as something newer and better.  With some pretty damn good special effects (even the 3D was worth it for me), characters (both lead and supporting) that ignited the screen, and a quick pace that made the 136 minute runtime seem almost short, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is an improvement on its predecessors on almost every possible way.  Yes, Raimi’s films will still have a place in all of our hearts (no, SPIDEY 3, not you…you go away), but if Marvel does things right, we might just have a universe equal to Nolan’s Batman films to look forward to.  Let’s just hope they do…


Mike’s LIKES:

1) ANDREW GARFIELD: Garfield is the perfect fit for Peter Parker.  Completely reinventing the character, he brings Parker from nerdy to a James Dean-ish social outcast.  He is the first step to making this movie stand out on its own, and I applaud him for the bold choices.

2) EMMA STONE: Emma Stone is not only absolutely gorgeous as Gwen Stacy (and, you know, just in general), but she is also absolutely adorable with her crush on Peter.  The chemistry is insane, and you could almost feel both their hearts pounding when they talk to each other.  I guess that’s why they’re now a couple in real life…

3) UNCLE BEN AND AUNT MAY: Martin Sheen and Sally Field do a beautiful job at grounding the two parental figures that we all know and love.  While Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris did an excellent job in Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN, these two really feel like your aunt and uncle instead of a grandma/grandpa pairing.

4) VISUALS AND 3D: The first-person shots in the trailers really don’t do this film justice.  The overall special effects are excellent and enthralling, and the first-person shots are used sparingly enough that they don’t bother anybody.  Also, the 3D, while not used like a gimmick, is detailed enough that it really does add a nice extra layer of depth to the action scenes.  (I’m sure you won’t see any difference if watching the film in 2D, but still nice to know that Webb respects the format.)

5) NUMEROUS OSBOURNE REFERENCES: Green Goblin is Spider-Man’s Joker, and despite not being the man bad guy here, his presence is completely felt. He is the overall reason for basically all the tragedy in these characters’ lives, and I can’t wait to see how he is incorporated into later films.


1) THE PHYSICALITY OF THE LIZARD: I’m not sure if I didn’t like the special effects, or the fact that The Lizard just kept reminding me of a smarter Goomba…either way, something seemed to be lacking in the creation.

2) THE TASTE STILL LINGERS: There were definitely certain plot points where I was feeling a sense of déjà vu…granted, it’s inevitable, but I still wish I didn’t have to keep getting taken out of the film, even it if was only for a split second.

3) JAMES HORNER VISITS THE TITANIC: I don’t know what it was about this score, but did nobody tell James Horner to cool it on the horns?  All I kept thinking about was Rose flying and Jack sinking to the bottom of the ocean!


1) Others up for the part of Peter Parker before Andrew Garfield got the role: Taylor Lautner, Josh Hutcherson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Logan Lerman, Robert Pattinson, Jamie Bell, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Angarano, Michael Cera, Alden Ehrenreich, Zac Efron, Aaron Johnson, Xavier Samuel, Jim Sturgess and Anton Yelchin.

2) Andrew Garfield sent Marc Webb a picture of his three-year-old self dressed in a Spider-Man Halloween costume as a thank you for the audition and to show how badly he wanted the part.  That picture helped the producers confirm that he was the right man for the job.

Editor's Pick

VIDEO:Rolled Ice Cream, Cheetos Bagels And Grasshoppers Are Just Some Of The Unusual Things Brian Balthazar Has Eaten On ‘The Wendy Williams Show’



You’ve seen pop culture expert, Brian Balthazar, appear on The Wendy Williams Show quite a bit over the last few years. He even co-hosted the show on three separate occasions. It wasn’t until his last visit where he and Jason Biggs chowed down on a KFC Cheetos Chicken Sandwich that it hit me: Being on the daytime talk show makes Brian Balthazar hungry!

The proof is in the pudding…pun definitely intended. Carla Hall made sure to bring some snacks for Brian when they cohosted together.

Sure, Wendy is known for telling us to “grab a snack and come on back”…

But you’d have to be absolutely famished to want to eat fish sliders at 10am.

He’s gotten so hungry he resorted to eating GRASSHOPPER TACOS on the show!

Could it be that Brian isn’t actually hungry though? Could he just be a brave soul willing to be the taste tester so we don’t have to? Could my theory be flawed?!

I suddenly feel like maybe we owe Brian a big thanks…

Either way, it’s fun to watch! Click below to take a look at a compilation of all the fun stuff Brian Balthazar has eaten on The Wendy Williams Show!

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter and Instagram

Continue Reading


Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign



As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.

“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”

And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.

Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!


Let’s start with the Dining Room!

Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!

Brian saysThe dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair.  On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.

But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls.   As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!



Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight.  Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.

While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps  are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.

For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below!  You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Brian Balthazar (@brianbalthazar)



Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.

Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.

But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!


So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!

Continue Reading


The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst



Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!

Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!

The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.

The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.

Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”

Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!

Like what you read? Follow me on Instagram

Continue Reading