Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

12 07 2017

spider-man-homecoming-banner-poster

It’s weird to say that the sixth Spider-Man movie (that kicks off the third reboot) is not only a good idea, but exactly what we needed, but here we are. After the disastrous Amazing Spider-Man movies, with their overly brooding tone yet cheesy villains, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a breath of fresh air. It’s not free of problems, and hasn’t replaced Spider-Man 2 as my favorite spidey movie, but it fits neatly into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while also feeling like a standalone film.

spider-man-homecoming-tony-stark-iron-man

When Tony realizes his chances with Aunt May are gone.

Tom Holland makes an excellent Peter Parker, depicting the best high-school era version we’ve gotten (sorry,  Andrew Garfield was a terrible “nerdy” high school student). He seems like a normal teen blessed with powers who got to join an epic event (remember when he stole Captain America’s shield?), and then gets antsy and frustrated when it all seems to have ended. His Peter Parker was relatable, quippy and sufficiently awkward, just as it should be. His friends were also awkward but effective, particularly his hilarious best friend Ned (AKA The Guy in the Chair).

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man acted the benefactor/mentor character quite well in his own trademark style (his opening banter with Peter in the car was especially entertaining). However, he was appropriately off to the side- this needed to be focused on Peter Parker, not Tony Stark. I appreciated how they realistically explained why he wasn’t around more, and showed that he wasn’t completely leaving Peter unsupervised, thanks to the (invasive) surveillance and “training wheel” protocols (Happy still could have been a little more accommodating with the whole “liaison” thing though).

spiderman-homecoming-vulture-keaton

You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

I really enjoyed watching Vulture as the villain. Michael Keaton was a thousand times better as an antagonist than any garbage bad guys the two Amazing Spider-Man movies tried to offer (remember how terrible those villains were?!). Vulture actually had some motivation, with helping his family and workers, and that blue-collar-everyman status earned him sympathy from the audience (at least until we saw his swanky house). His portrayal of the Vulture brought back warm fuzzy memories of Molina’s Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2. He was also more menacing than expected, with palpable tension present in the car scene.

I’m also glad Vulture didn’t die. It would have just been another tragic friend/girlfriend’s parental figure who died indirectly because of Spider-Man, who would then beat himself up over again. That story-line has been used so many times already in previous Spider-Man films, it’s become its own trope.

Ned-Leeds-spider-man-homecoming

Forget the Washington Monument- it’ll take weeks to rebuild that Lego Death Star,

Besides the epic new version of the old Spider-Man theme song we got in the beginning, the score wasn’t too memorable. However that does seem to be par for the course with Marvel Avengers movies, or maybe Hans Zimmerman spoiled me with the Dark Knight trilogy. There was also plenty of CGI, but nothing too obvious or glaring- this is about a guy swinging on a web fighting a mechanical bird man, after all.

I enjoyed the “street level” feel of the movie- no alien invasion or giant warships here, just a gang selling weapons with modified alien tech from the Avengers New York fight. It was also nice to have a Spider-Man movie where he doesn’t go through 10 levels of drama fawning after a girl; this was more like a high school crush. I’m still not down with this version of Aunt May, and don’t even get me STARTED with “MJ,” who’s completely different in appearance and personality than any other version of Mary Jane. I understand wanting to make things different, but those two character interpretations are so out of left field it’s distracting. And yes, I’m aware that they stated later she’s actually not Mary Jane, but that just makes her line a big, dumb Easter egg that’s not even a real Easter egg. Zendaya’s character was perfect without confusing everyone with a cheap twist.

All in all though, I really enjoyed this movie. It was colorful, humorous, and entertaining, unlike the last three Spider-Man movies (did I mention I hated those?). I’m excited to see where they take this, and how Peter’s world might change after the next two Avengers films.

zendaya-spider-man-homecoming-michelle

My face, when she called herself “MJ.”

 

 

Advertisements




The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

19 05 2015

Ultron_Group

First of all, sorry about the late review. I’ve assembled (zing!) twice now in the theaters to see this popcorn blockbuster known as Age of Ultron, but life happens, and it’s not like anyone was waiting for my opinion anyway. BUT, I do want to talk about this latest entry. Ultron is less straightforward than the first Avengers film, but that’s actually a good thing in my view. I like that they created their own greatest fear (pointed out by Ultron), and also the whole twin subplot. In addition, we got everything most people want in these movies. More heroes and villains? Check. Easter eggs and crazy action scenes, including that sweet slow-mo sequence around the “key”? Double check.

That’s not to say this was a perfect movie. The weakest parts of this and most current Marvel movies were the awkward setups for another movie. Hey look, Asgard is going to pot for some reason. Don’t really care now. Go fight Ultron. I’m going to watch the next Thor movie, Marvel. Just quit reminding me that there are more movies with these characters, because that really takes the tension out of this one.  Please just make a solid, standalone movie, preferably one without a random cave sequence with a side character (steps down from soapbox).

In other news, Black Widow has no idea who she likes. I mean, first Avengers, who is she paired with? That’s right class, Hawkeye. And remember how she flirts and kisses Bruce Banner in Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Oh wait, that was Captain America. Anyway, if you accept this left-field mood swing (who HASN’T had this happen in a relationship? Sorry, bitter.), it’s not too unbearable. Call me whatever you want, but the scenes with their awkward flirty banter dragged on too long for my tastes.

James Spader Ultron poster

Don’t get on his Black List.

The original magic of seeing all the separate heroes in one movie is gone, but honestly there’s no way that could be replicated. Perhaps the new Avengers at the end will help in the next one? I actually enjoyed how we could jump straight into their team fighting a massive battle in the first scene. And, despite what I said about Thor’s visions, the Avengers’ fearful dreams caused by Scarlet Witch’s manipulations were a brilliant way to deepen each character, while still advancing the plot. I’m looking forward to more of the new recruits, but it will be depressing if we don’t get to watch the originals’ fun dynamic anymore.

James Spader and Elizabeth Olsen were my standout favorites. Elizabeth Olsen (thankfully not the twins) hasn’t been in a lot of big movies, and that actually helped her character’s innocence in a way. She and Quicksilver were convincing along their personal journeys. James Spader basically played Robot James Spader, and that’s a good thing. Some comic book purists apparently took issue with him not being as menacing as in the comics, but he DID nearly destroy the entire Earth, right? Not too shabby, all while being zany in a creepy way. Look, when have we ever been worried that the villain will win in these movies? There’s way too many more movies to make. Finally Vision was interesting, but I have no idea where they’re going with his character, especially after a random god reference. Don’t expect him to help out in any solo movies soon- he’s way too powerful.

Elizabeth Olsen

I seem to remember Quicksilver from a separate movie universe…

Hawkeye also got some great moments with meta one-liners and self-deprecating humor (We’re fighting an army of robots, and I’ve got a bow. None of this makes sense.)  Speaking of humor, the jokes never stopped dropping. Some worked, and some didn’t, but nothing was as painful as say, Transformers’ idea of humor. For example, the hammer lift sequence was a genuinely funny moment that played off each character in a natural way. And of course Robert Downey Jr. starred as his rich, funny self.

Overall, there were tons of eye-candy, action scenes, humor and just about every Marvel character that’s been in this universe (besides Loki). There were so many random story lines and characters (literally) flying around I’m surprised it wasn’t a complete mess, but I guess that’s a testament to Josh Whedon. Unfortunately, yes, this is his last entry in the Marvel Movie Universe (sigh). Will he jump over to DC? Who knows, but it’s going to be hard to match his style of film-making next two Avengers, since it seemed to complement the theme and tone so well. Either way, he’s given audiences the two of the more enjoyable blockbusters of the last few years, and that’s worth some revelry.

If only this had happened.

If only this had happened.





100% Accurate Movie Predictions for 2015

4 01 2015

Well it’s that time of the year again, where I make shockingly-on-point predictions about upcoming cinematic offerings. These have all been carefully selected using Google and an impossibly low level of effort. Are we in for a treat this year, or a big, steaming pile of sequels?

 

Tak3n

Stop taking his blasted stuff!

January 9- Taken 3

Haha! That last question was a joke! Get ready for the third Taken movie- hot on the heels of the first mediocre sequel. So, what gets taken this time, besides Liam Neeson’s soul? Well it turns out the only thing taken this time (SPOILER ALERT) is Bryan Mill’s wife- permanently. Yep, remember those happy endings, where he saves his family and reunites with his wife Lenore (Famke Janssen)? Well, to quote the studios, “Forget that junk, let’s have Neeson get framed for her murder!” Meanwhile, the CIA, FBI and police all try to hunt down our hero.

Prediction: It’s Liam Neeson kicking butt, so you can bet this will at least enjoy mild success for a weekend or two. Word of mouth will ultimately kill it, because some people will miss the whole American-beating-up-foreigners aspect.

 

mila_kunis

I see we’re trying the Matrix outfits again.

Feb 6- Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is found on Earth by Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered action hero, who tells her she’s important (because of confusing reasons or something) and will “alter the balance of the cosmos” (I swear that’s a quote from the official description). Also, Jupiter Jones is a terrible name.

Prediction: The promos say “From the Creators of the Matrix Trilogy,” which isn’t the best reference, but honestly have the Wachowski siblings come out with anything else that’s worth mentioning? If all people mercifully remember is the first Matrix movie, and nothing else about the other two, you may get some tickets from an audience that’s willing to forgive Mila Kunis for her awful witch in Oz the Great and Powerful.

 

Feb 13- Fifty Shades of Grey

I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this article, you are already an educated and discerning individual who doesn’t need my sarcasm to know a bad movie.

Prediction: Some will say this embarrassing pimple of a film didn’t go far enough, and others too far. Either way, let’s have a moment of silence for all the poor bro’s who will get forced into the theater by their emotionally-unstable significant others.

 

Kevin James

Wow! April looks awful!

April 17- Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Paul Blart (Kevin James) continues his cautionary tale for washed-up comedians in the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Mall Cop. I sure hope there’s some fat jokes in this one!

Prediction: Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy will be jealous they weren’t involved. The positive side is you can instantly de-friend anyone on Facebook who mentions this film in a positive light.

 

Avengers_teaser

*Spider-Man not included.

May 1- The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and the rest of the Avengers reassemble to further build their retirement funds. Expect awkward conversations about why they didn’t assemble to help out on Thor 2, where the universe practically imploded, or why not even one of them called to check up on Captain America after his near-death experience. Also count on Captain Cameo (Stan Lee) making an appearance.

Prediction: Hah, you don’t need a blog to tell you that this movie will create a shower of gold bars over Marvel Studios, and will push them full steam into their next 75 comic book movies.

May 15- Pitch Perfect 2

Because the ladies need something to watch while their guy friends watch Avengers the third weekend in a row.

Prediction: See above.

 

Comic-Con

Because Disney World was closed.

June 12- Jurassic World

Imagine a world where citizens are willing to pay to see dinosaurs up-close again, even after one or two disastrous encounters where lives were lost. Imagine this awful business plan is again picked up by well-meaning but ultimately profit-driven people in suits who know that the jaded public will fall for anything. Are the story writers being intentionally ironic with us?

Prediction: Obviously this isn’t going to be better than the original, so the most I can hope for this is gentle critics and lowered expectations from fans. Because profits…find a way.

 

Jai Arnold Schwarzenegger

Terminator heads hate sunny fields.

July 1- Terminator: Genisys

It’s a new Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) and a new Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke)…with an aging Terminator robot (Aging Arnold Schwarzenegger) in an alternate timeline. Apparently Terminators actually age now. They probably will have a crazy shootout scene in the Terminator Retirement Home, with all the other time-traveling robot assassins who couldn’t take out one dude.  At least the misspelled title will drive my OCD friends crazy.

Prediction: Arnold hasn’t been the biggest draw lately, and this is a tired series that should have gone to bed a couple of decades ago. They’ll probably draw a profit, but we won’t be telling our grandchildren about where we were when we first saw Terminator: Genisys.

 

Hunger Games Jennifer Lawrence

(Cue whistling)

Nov 20 – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

It’s the second part of a sequel to a sequel, based on the least popular book of The Hunger Games trilogy. Even with all that cynicism, you and I will probably be in the ticket line opening weekend.

Prediction: If I remember correctly, Part I didn’t do as well in theaters, partly because of the extra fluff inserted to make the book into two movies. However, it’s the last entry of the movie series, so it’ll draw in enough profit to finance a giant party in The Capitol.

Star Wars

Admit it. You just stopped breathing for a moment.

December 18 – Star Wars: Episode VII

Like a jilted lover who doesn’t know any better, the nerd in everyone will return to the Star Wars universe this winter. Our favorite characters are now 30 years older, but there will be no Jar Jar Binks or whiny pre-Vader. Could this be the movie that finally brings balance to the Lucas? Or is it a trap?

Prediction: It’s probably a trap. But a very effective trap that will take all our money.





Iron Man 3 Review

7 05 2013
iron man 3

More like Iron Men 3

 

This weekend I joined the masses of people who went to watch Robert Downey Jr.’s autobiographical movie: Iron Man 3. Seriously, it’s hard to think of an actor who’s embraced his character as much as Downey Jr. has, but it seems to have been a good thing, as the role’s made him as rich as Tony Stark. Anyway, Iron Man was the Marvel film franchise that birthed the whole Avengers cash machine, and in my opinion is one of the only Avengers standalone films that stands on its own two feet and doesn’t feel like just a setup/promo for the BIG Avengers movies. Was Iron Man 3 strong enough to wash Iron Man 2 from my memory?

 

Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man 3 hand

Trivia: Robert Downey Jr suffers from a crippling case of insecurity.

 

Short answer: Yes. It’s got a new director, endless one-liners (almost too many), and pretty sweet action sequences (at least sweeter than an old guy swinging two whips). It even has a sequence in my good ol’ hometown of Chattanooga (more on that in a few). Robert Downey Jr. and pretty much everybody else seems be having a blast (though I would be too). Guy Pearce is surprisingly effective as a pitiable character and a villain. However, is it perfect? “NOO!” would scream a surprisingly large number comic book fanboys (also more on that in a sec).

 

Yes, of course he takes his shirt off in the film.

Yes, of course he takes his shirt off in the film.

 

I’m not one of those fanboys (I mean, Bruce Wayne could beat up Tony Stark, right guys? Oh shoot, don’t burn down my Batman fortress, Marvel followers), but I did have a few reservations about parts of the movie, but first how about a big (SPOILERS) tag? My main beef with the Iron Man films is how seriously two-dimensional nearly every female character is (with the usual exception of Pepper Potts). Rebecca Hall’s character was no exception, which is a shame because anyone who’s seen movies like The Town or The Prestige knows she can act, but there’s just not much to her character (besides a plot device). On another picky note, martial arts Pepper Potts at the end didn’t quite do it for me (what does that stuff give, strength and training?). Also, the Avengers references, while I guess are necessary, aren’t handled very well, leading to an almost tacked-on feeling.

 

Rebecca hall

Pictured: missed potential

 

One part apparently rustling some fan’s feathers is the film’s treatment of The Mandarin (AGAIN, SPOILERS FOR THE UNINITIATED). Personally, I loved Ben Kingsley as both Evil Mandarin and Comic Relief Mandarin, not to mention the reveal of the facade being an extremely effective plot twist. Yeah, I get it. If they had portrayed The Joker as a washed-up actor who wasn’t even a real villain, but the invention of say The Penguin, I wouldn’t be wearing this Christopher Nolan fanboy shirt right now. But The Mandarin’s not The Joker, is he? Outside of comic book readers, I doubt anyone would recognize him (I didn’t), and I think the writers’ choice fit the movie. If anything, his early propaganda videos were kind of cheesy, but it makes sense later when you realize the whole thing was a sham.

 

ben kingsley iron man 3

Ben Kingsley at home.

 

Finally, what’s with Chattanooga and movies lately? Water for Elephants, 42, and now Iron Man 3 all either filmed in Chattanooga, TN (the first two) or actually were supposed to take place there (this one). However, short of putting “Chattanooga” on a couple of signs, they really didn’t bother at all trying to make it look like the city (sorry, this is a personal rant).

 

Pictured: Chattanooga

Pictured: Chattanooga

 

Instead, we got an unimpressive small brick building that represents what the writers thought a city in Tennessee should look like. (Ahem) I think I’m done now.

 

Chattanooga location Iron Man 3

Pictured: Not Chattanooga.

 

Anyhoo, Iron Man 3 isn’t the most profound movie, but it’s an epically fun blockbuster with some great stylized action (finally). And of course, stay after the credits.

 





If Christopher Nolan Directed “The Avengers”

7 05 2012

So, like one or two dozen other people around the world, I saw The Avengers last weekend. Like most of you, I watched this movie and thought, “I could’ve done better.” However, since I’m a little short in the Hollywood influence area, I’d choose the next best person: Christopher Freakin’ Nolan.

Chris Nolan

The Director we deserve, but not the one we need.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What if the man behind Dark Knight decided to add a cold, hard dose of reality to fun-loving, superhero-fueled The Avengers? Well, you’d have a gritty, realistic, mind-bender of a movie, of course without all the aliens and, er, superpowers.

The Unrealistic Comic People

I present Nolan’s likely character presentations.

The Hulk– Dr. Bruce Banner is a very large physicist of a man.  He struggles with anger issues caused by a childhood filled with bullying from all the skinny kids. Despite his weight, he spends half the movie without his shirt on, designed to “shock” the audience.

Iron Man– Replaced by Batman, because Chris Nolan does what Chris Nolan wants.

Thor– Stan Carter claims to be the god of thunder, carrying around his giant sledgehammer and rocking medieval-style locks. Early on, it is revealed he took one too many trips down Trippy Lane during his college years.

Hawkeye– Best shot in the world, former Navy SEAL. His importance in the story is greatly enhanced by the loss of the other’s super powers.

Black Widow– Thor’s deceased wife who only appears in his drug-induced dreams.

Nick Fury– Played by Morgan Freeman, and that’s all you need to know.

Loki– Thor’s adopted brother with delusions of grandeur. His plan is to use an army of illegal aliens to storm New York City, because he’s an agent of chaos who just wants to watch the world burn.

Plot- Switch Loki’s army to disgruntled, exploited illegal aliens. Switch super hero face-offs to gritty hand combat. Besides that, same thing.