Take 3: Finding Forrester Review

One of the available categories for the Leap Year Blogathon was to talk about “any movie or TV show you’ve always wanted to review but never had the chance to”. This is the approach I’ve chosen to take with Rebecca’s event. As I was scrolling through my DVR, I came across a movie called Finding Forrester. Ever since I read the film’s synopsis on BYUtv’s website several years ago, I have wanted to see this movie because the story sounded interesting. I even recorded it on my DVR in the hopes of watching it someday. Well, it looks like 2020 is the time when I’m finally getting around to talking about this film! I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen a lot of Sean Connery’s movies. The Russia House and The Great Train Robbery are the only films I’ve seen with Sean as one of the leads. While I thought the former was ok, I enjoyed the latter more than I thought I would. Now that this is the third picture of Sean’s I’ve watched, it’ll be interesting to see where Finding Forrester ranks among the other two films.

Finding Forrester poster
Finding Forrester poster created by Sony Pictures Releasing and Columbia Pictures. Image found at https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/findingforrester.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Finding Forrester is a story that grounds itself in reality. Because of this, the acting performances in this film come across as realistic portrayals. What this means is all the characters feel like real people. The genuine expressions and behaviors of each character shine through because of the quality of the actors’ talents. How the characters interact with each other is evident of this, especially within the friendship of Jamal and William. Depth was added to the characters because of the interactions they share. The dialogue was well-executed by the actors, causing the conversations to sound authentic. What works in this cast’s favor are the various personalities presented and the character development that takes place. A sense of intrigue is brought forth as a result of all of these elements.

 

The cinematography: Whenever this film’s creative team wanted the audience to focus on a particular person or object, they would adopt medium shots or close-ups to place a greater emphasis on that subject. During basketball tryouts, Jamal was playing against a senior team member from the private school. The rivalry between these two characters is the highlight of this scene, so medium shots are used to present them to the audience. When Jamal is removing his notebooks from his backpack, after the bag was retrieved from William’s apartment, close-ups implemented the importance of writing that serves as a consistent idea throughout the film. In two scenes, the reflection of Jamal can be seen from William’s binoculars. This is meant to foreshadow the connection these characters will share through their friendship. These cinematic techniques helped make the cinematography stand out in this project!

 

The incorporation of knowledge: Like writing, the idea of knowledge is consistent in Finding Forrester. The way it was incorporated into this story was seamless and showed how important it can be to any individual. One example is when Jamal is explaining a brief history of the BMW to William’s acquaintance. This information not only helped Jamal stand up for himself, but it also educated the audience about one of the world’s most iconic car companies. The knowledge that William and Jamal share about writing is another great example. During a debate about the rules of writing, they are able to express their ideas and view the perspective of the other person. This scene shows that, with knowledge, one can be a part of something greater than themselves. It also shows that knowledge can create a connection between people.

Leap Year Blogathon banner
The Leap Year Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/announcing-the-leap-year-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The lighting: Most of the lighting in Finding Forrester is dim. This allows the overall color palette to appear darker on screen. However, it also makes it difficult to see what is happening in the film. The scenes taking place in William’s apartment experienced this issue. Because of the dimmed lighting, it was sometimes difficult to see Jamal’s and William’s face in these scenes. Half of this movie is centered around Jamal and William’s friendship, which means that half of the overall picture features the dim surroundings of William’s apartment.

 

Scenes that become padding: There are several scenes in Finding Forrester that become padding. One example is when Jamal’s friends are shown spending time together at a restaurant. This moment had no bearing on the story and didn’t progress the plot forward. It also doesn’t have a strong need to exist in the narrative. Scenes like these felt like they were placed in the movie for the sake of satisfying the run-time. If some of these scenes were cut, the film would have been shorter and the script could have been a bit tighter.

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Typewriter image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/typewriter-and-paper-sheet_713020.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Someone I know once told me that knowledge is one of the most valuable possessions a person can own. When it’s earned, it can never be taken away from you. This is expressed very well in Finding Forrester, a solid and satisfying picture! While this movie is more of a character study, this concept works in the film’s favor. The delivery of the script and acting performances gave me an opportunity to stay invested in the characters and their interactions. The messages of integrity, self-worth, and knowledge have the potential to be relatable among audience members. They can also inspire people to pursue their talents and believe in their strengths. Finding Forrester is a movie that I’m glad I made the time to see. I’d like to thank Rebecca for giving me this opportunity through her Leap Year Blogathon!

 

Overall score: 8.2 out of 10

 

Is there a movie you’ve always to see, but never made time for? What are your plans for Leap Year? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Review

Yes, I’m at it again. I’m participating in another Genre Grandeur! After a brief hiatus in October, I was ready to take on whatever challenge came my way. For November, the theme was chosen by David from Blueprint Review. In this Genre Grandeur, they wanted participants to talk about Hong Kong Martial Arts Movies. Whatever movie I picked, I knew this would be a special review. That’s because this is the first time I’ve ever reviewed a martial arts film! To figure out which movies qualified of this event, I searched for possible titles on the internet. One of the most well-known films that I saw on one list was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Over the years, I have heard of this movie. But I had never gotten around to watching it. Now, because of MovieRob and David, I finally have an excuse to check it out!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon poster
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon poster created by Sony Pictures Classics, Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia, Good Machine International, Edko Films, Zoom Hunt Productions, China Film Co-Production Corp., and Asian Union Film & Entertainment Ltd. Image found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0190332/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0.

Things I liked about the film:

The character interactions: Throughout the film, there were several character interactions that took place. This aspect of the overall project was very enjoyable for me to see. One reason was because these interactions shared key components of the story, allowing important details to be expressed and character development to take place. The second reason is how these interactions appeared on screen. Because this cast is talented, it gives the actors and actresses the opportunity to present these interactions in a way that feels believable and sincere. Whether it was the camaraderie between Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien or the heart-felt encounters between Jen Yu and Lo, each interaction enhanced the material for both the characters and the overall story.

 

The martial arts choreography: The martial arts sequences that are featured in this movie were one of the strongest elements of the project! That’s because of how well choreographed each sequence was. Created by Yuen Wo-Ping, each martial arts movement appeared fast, yet smooth. It seemed like every opponent was engaging in a dance, with each one taking turns in the situation. There were times when some the characters looked like they were flying. This made them appear powerful, like their training had helped them gain a super power. The overall technique was precise and well-thought out. This shows how great of a job Yuen Wo-Ping did when it came to planning these sequences!

 

The scenery: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon excels when it comes to the scenery! There were several natural landscapes featured in this film that were simply breath-taking! What helps was how well they were captured on film. Long and establishing shots showed the audience the true magnificence of these locations. The set designs also played a role in making the scenery memorable. Every set appears authentic for the film’s specific time period. They are also well staged, setting up the scene in a visually appealing way. These key ingredients created a cinematic world that felt immersive.

Tiger in Thailand zoo
Tiger image created by Chevanon at freepik.com.  <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/tiger-looking-straight-ahead_999674.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/pattern”>Pattern image created by Chevanon – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The presentation of the subtitles: This is not the first time I’ve reviewed a film that chose to use subtitles. In fact, I have found myself enjoying these movies, such as Les Enfants Terribles and Vampyr. But it’s not the subtitles that were the issue. The color of the subtitles was the flaw, as they were presented in yellow. While it made them easier to see against darker backgrounds, it was difficult to see them against light backgrounds. This was especially the case whenever someone wore a white outfit. To me, I feel that the subtitles should have been presented in the color red. That way, it could have been seen with almost any background.

 

Limited use of martial arts sequences: As I said earlier, I really liked the martial art sequences in this film. However, in the overall project, these sequences were very limited. When I think of a typical martial arts film, I think of it as a part of the action genre, where at least fifty percent of the movie is action-packed. With Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the majority of the film focused on the character and story development. This choice causes the movie to not have that 50/50 balance that I was expecting. I found there to be more dialogue-focused scenes than action-focused scenes.

 

A mystery that was too easy to solve: In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, there was a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a legendary, priceless sword. Through dialogue and martial arts sequences, it becomes more obvious who the thief is. I’m not going to spoil the reveal if you haven’t the seen the movie. But, shortly after this particular character was introduced, I knew that they were the guilty culprit. Instead of attempting to solve the mystery alongside the characters, I ended up just waiting for the reveal to take place. It made this part of the story less intriguing.

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Traditional Chinese dragon image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/design”>Design vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I’m always grateful whenever MovieRob invites me to join Genre Grandeur. This event, like almost any blogathon, gives me a good excuse to watch films that I might have never seen otherwise. Like I said in the introduction, I had not seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon before. But I’m glad that I finally gave it a chance! This is not just a good martial arts film or a good foreign film. It’s a good film in general! Yes, there were things about it that I wasn’t a fan of, including the ending. But there are components that make me like and appreciate the movie for what it is. I want to thank MovieRob for, once again, inviting me to Genre Grandeur. I also want to thank David, from Blueprint Review, for choosing November’s theme. It gave me a reason to, finally, review a martial arts film for 18 Cinema Lane!

 

Overall score: 7.7 out of 10

 

Do you have a favorite martial arts film? What is your favorite part about these types of films? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: Spider-Man to remain in MCU

I first learned about this news on the blog, Annlyel Online. After that, other people starting talking about the story. Since I haven’t written a follow-up Word on the Street post in quite a while, I decided to discuss the latest news about the world’s neighborhood Marvel hero. Yesterday, on September 27th, both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety broke the news that Spider-Man was, indeed, staying put in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Variety provided details about the new deal between Disney and Sony, stating that it “was signed late on Thursday night”. This new deal reveals that “Disney will receive roughly 25% of the profits”. This sounds like an increase from the 5% that I talked about in my Word on the Street story last month. Also revealed was how “Disney will retain its merchandising rights and will put up roughly a quarter of the financing”. In both articles from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, a new Spider-Man movie was announced, with the project given a release date of July 16th, 2021. Because of this deal, Spider-Man is also scheduled for one additional movie within the MCU. I’m not as educated about the business-side of the movie industry as I am with other aspects of it. But, to me, I find myself feeling skeptical about how quickly this issue was resolved. Legitimizing business transactions, creating negotiations that are suitable for all parties involved, and greenlighting a movie takes time. However, all of these things were able to be taken care of in only a month.

Avengers Endgame Spider Man poster
Avengers: Endgame Spider Man poster created by The Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios. © Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. Marvel and Avengers Characters: ©2017 Marvel. Image found at https://www.marvel.com/articles/movies/mcu-heroes-unveil-avengers-endgame-character-posters

When this story was first published, I listened to several perspectives on this particular topic. One of them belonged to Kneon from Clownfish TV, who I mentioned in one of my Word on the Street stories last month. He brought up some points about the story that I find myself agreeing with. In his video, “Spider-Man STAYS in the MCU…for now”, Kneon says that he feels Spider-Man “has been relegated to sidekick status” during his existence in the MCU. This I agree with, as it seems like Peter Parker has become a sort of “little brother” to the other heroes. The character’s youth doesn’t help his case. In Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man was only given a limited amount of screen-time and was one of the heroes who became “dusted”. Kneon also expressed his concerns about Spider-Man’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, stating that he feels the studio’s new phase “does not seem to be very, um, hospitable to Marvel’s old school heroes”. This is yet another point that I agree with. If you read my spoiler-zone review of Avengers: Endgame, you would know how disappointed I was when Bucky didn’t have anything new or interesting added to his story in preparation for the show, The Falcon & the Winter Soldier. In that review, I said that “In the scene where Steve gives Sam the shield, it almost seemed like Bucky was an afterthought, as he was standing in the distance and watching everything going on in front of him”. Since then, it seems like the studio sees Bucky and his fans as afterthoughts, as Marvel and Disney haven’t really made a strong effort to get the fans excited for the show. Something that I’ve been thinking about because of this story is how no new “faces” of the MCU have been officially established. From Phases 1 through 3, the three “faces” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. In Avengers: Endgame and beyond, these new “faces” were not named. Some people have speculated that it could be Spider-Man. But, after hearing Disney and Sony’s new deal, that idea may be in question.

 

How do you feel about Spider-Man remaining in the MCU? Which movie do you think he’ll appear in? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to check out the references I mentioned in this story, you can type “Spider-Man STAYS in the MCU…for now” in Youtube’s search bar or visit Clownfish TV’s official Youtube channel. You can also visit these links:

Spider-Man Will Stay in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/spider-man-shocker-disney-sony-striking-deal-new-movie-1243777

https://annlyelonline.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/breaking-news-spider-man-is-back-in-the-mcu/

Take 3: Swept from the Sea Review (A Month Without the Code — #8)

Out of all the movies that I’ve chosen for the A Month Without the Code Blogathon, this film is the one that I’m the most excited to talk about! I had never heard of Swept from the Sea until I discovered it on Pinterest this year (by the way, Pinterest is a great place to discover movies). When I first saw the film’s poster, I immediately noticed that Vincent Perez not only starred in the movie, but he also was the film’s top-billed actor. For those of you who are not familiar with this particular actor, Vincent portrayed Marius in Queen of the Damned, which I reviewed last Halloween. Since I enjoyed his performance in Queen of the Damned, I wanted to see what his acting talents had to offer in other films. When I was about to read the movie’s synopsis, I decided to watch the movie knowing as little about it as possible. I did this when I reviewed Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte and I ended up having a really good movie-viewing experience. Will history repeat itself with Swept from the Sea? I’m glad you joined me for my last A Month Without the Code review because we’re about to find the answer to this question!

Swept from the Sea poster
Swept from the Sea poster created TriStar Pictures, Phoenix Pictures, and Tapson Steel Films. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sftspost.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Among all of the movies I’ve seen in my life and among all the movies I’ve reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane, Vincent Perez’s acting performance in Swept from the Sea is one of the best I’ve ever seen! Throughout the entire film, he gave a captivating performance that was both heart-warming and heart-breaking. There were even times where, through the use of emotion, he was able to say so much without saying anything at all. One example is when Amy, Rachel Weisz’s character, gives Yanko, Vincent’s character, some food after they officially meet for the first time. Even though Vincent was the one who stole the show, I enjoyed seeing the other acting performances in this film. Despite the fact that Kathy Bates appears in the movie for a limited amount of time, her portrayal of Miss Swaffer was excellent! Not only was her performance well-rounded, but she also did a really good job pulling off an English accent. Performances like these made the characters come across like they were real-life individuals!

 

The cinematography: Swept from the Sea had some interesting cinematography that I was not expecting to see. At one point in the movie, all of the dead bodies from a recent tragedy at sea are featured on screen. In this particular scene, the camera pans outward in order to show Dr. James Kennedy, Ian McKellen’s character, standing in the middle of the area where these dead bodies were placed. Because of the cinematography, this moment showed the magnitude of the tragedy. Another great use of cinematography was when Amy was running through a rain-storm. What I liked about this scene was how it was dark enough to create the feelings of fear and dread, but not dark enough where one could barely see what’s happening on screen. Swept from the Sea’s cinematography made the film visually engaging!

 

The scenery: The majority of this movie takes place in the English countryside. Everything about this location was beautiful to look at! From the never-ending fields to the titular sea, all of the countryside’s natural landscapes were captured very well on film. Even the snowy environment that is briefly shown during Yanko’s journey is visually appealing. Because of the care that was taken in recording these locations, especially the sea, it gave the impression that the scenery was its own character. It also helped to create a stunning picture!

 

The on-screen chemistry: Because this story puts a good amount of focus on a romance, it’s important for the actors portraying the characters in that relationship to have good on-screen chemistry. As I’ve already said in this review, Vincent Perez’s acting performance stole the show! I was also impressed with Rachel Weisz’s portrayal of Amy Foster. Not only were they talented individually, but they were also a very talented pair! Anytime Amy and Yanko interacted with one another, their relationship was brought to life in a very sweet and genuine way. Amy and Yanko were an adorable couple without trying too hard to be. While some of the credit goes to the screenwriter, the rest of it belongs to Vincent and Rachel. What helped them was how different their acting styles were. These differences ended up complimenting each other instead of competing against them.

Board Games Composition
Chess game strategy image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The dialect: Swept from the Sea takes place in the late 1800s, so the dialect reflects that particular time-period. This aspect of the movie sounded authentic to that decade. However, because I’m not used to hearing it in films very often, I had difficulty, at times, understanding what the characters were saying. This is not the fault of the film, but the fault of me, as a viewer, for not being familiar with the dialect.

A Month Without the Code banner
A Month Without the Code Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2019/07/31/announcing-amonthwithoutthecode65/.

My overall impression:

Have you ever seen a movie that was so great, that all you wanted to do was tell everyone you knew about it? Well, that is exactly how Swept from the Sea made me feel! So far, this is the best movie I’ve seen this year! It’s endearing and emotional, grabbing hold of my attention from start to finish. So many components came together to make this film as entertaining as it was. From the acting to the scenery, there were so many things I liked about this movie. It is truly a hidden gem that I’m thankful to have discovered. Like I said about The Nun’s Story, Swept from the Sea is one of the “cleaner” films out of the ones I’ve chosen for A Month Without the Code. I found this to be pretty surprising, considering the fact that this is the only PG-13 rated movie in this roster. Despite this, I think the movie could be “breenable” with a few changes. These are the following:

 

  • There were about three times when characters were heard swearing and one time where Christ’s name was used in vain. These words would need to be omitted from the script.

 

  • Toward the beginning of the film, Miss Swaffer has a bloody wound on her leg and is having it taken care of by Dr. James Kennedy. While the scene itself is fine, the wound would have to be hidden on screen.

 

  • In one scene, a man is making an unflattering joke about Amy. While Amy and Yanko express their disgust over this joke, the joke itself would have to meet the standards of the Breen Code.

 

  • On the ship, at the beginning of the storm, Yanko is seen throwing up. To fit within the qualifications of the Breen Code, this image would have to be removed.

 

  • Because there is a tragedy at sea, there are several dead bodies that are shown on screen. There is one other part of the film that features a dead body as well. These scenes would need to be revised to fit with the Breen Code.

 

  • Yanko and Amy’s kisses are more passionate and last longer than kisses from the Breen Code era’s films. These kisses would have to be shorter in time-length.

 

  • There are two scenes that heavily imply that Yanko and Amy are having sex. Even though these scenes take place after they become married, these scenes would need to rewritten to make the implication more subtle.

 

Overall score: 9.6 out of 10

 

How do you feel about A Month Without the Code? Which review from this blogathon has been your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: Is Spider-Man Leaving the MCU?

It seems like the most popular topic this week has been of Spider-Man leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, because I found this to be a fascinating topic, I decided to talk about it. Yesterday, on August 20th, Mike Fleming Jr. from Deadline reported that the creative partnership between Disney and Sony has ended. In the article, Mike writes that this was caused by Kevin Feige, Marvel Cinematic Universe’s president, and Tom Rothman, one of the leaders at Sony, not being able to come up with a satisfying financial agreement. Before this situation occurred, “Disney asked that future Spider-Man films be a 50/50 co-financing arrangement between the studios” because Disney didn’t want to keep “continuing the current terms where Marvel receives in the range of 5% of first dollar gross”. Sony, on the other hand, tried to create other deals that, hopefully, would appeal to Disney. This is because they didn’t want to face the possibility of losing profits and their intellectual properties. Within this article, Mike reported that “it is understandable that the fiscally shrewd Rothman would balk at giving up half of Sony’s biggest franchise to Marvel”. He then questions, “Does the Mouse really need half of the movie universe also?” But no matter what offer Sony gave Disney, the latter studio refused. It left Feige, Rothman, and their respective studios parting ways, for now. Mike updated his report with an official statement that Sony made about the situation. To summarize what the studio said, the statement expresses no negative feelings toward Disney. They state that Kevin Feige is no longer able to produce their films because of the various projects that Feige is attached to. As of the release of this Word on the Street story and Mike Fleming Jr.’s article, it seems that Disney or Marvel hasn’t made any statements about the situation.

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Movie time image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/food”>Food photo created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

When Spider-Man first entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe prior to the release of Captain America: Civil War, fans were more than thrilled with the idea. They made statements about how Spider-Man was “coming home” and that he would, once again, be “joining the family”. I, honestly, couldn’t help but feel shocked about the idea of Spider-Man leaving the MCU. While I haven’t seen this studio’s version of Spider-Man films, I have seen Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Even though he’s only been featured on screen for three years, Spider-Man has already made a big impact. Based on what I read in Mike Fleming Jr.’s article, it seems like both Disney and Sony both wanted a significant share in this cinematic pie. However, it sounds like Disney was expecting a bigger share than they already had. As I already wrote in this Word on the Street post, Mike was questioning if Disney truly needed more of the Spider-Man property. This is a good question to ask, especially since the MCU already has a lot of characters and stories within their roster. Speaking of rosters, something that Sony said in their statement made Disney look hypocritical. When addressing why Kevin won’t be working with Sony anymore, Sony said “that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own”. Even though Marvel is owned by Disney, Disney purchased this studio in the late 2000s. This means that the characters and most of the stories are acquired from Marvel comics, not something that Disney created themselves. The same goes for the Star Wars franchise, which Disney bought from George Lucas in the mid-2010s. As for the classic animated films and live-action remakes, a large portion of these are adaptations of pre-existing, literary material. Even though Disney created their own version of the story, they did not create the story itself. So, yes, Disney owns a good amount of IP, but only on a technicality.

 

Do you think that Spider-Man will leave the MCU forever? If so, which superhero do you think will become the next face of the franchise? Put your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to read Mike Fleming Jr.’s article, here’s the link:

Disney-Sony Standoff Ends Marvel Studios & Kevin Feige’s Involvement In ‘Spider-Man’