Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

12 07 2017

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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My face, when she called herself “MJ.”

 

 

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Oz the Great and Powerful Review

13 03 2013
Oz Poster

Misleading poster promises many things.

 

Like many of you, I always wondered, every day of my life, exactly what happened before The Wizard of Oz. Or at least Disney thinks we all did. And thus, we find out the Wizard’s humble origins as Harry Osbourne, sworn enemy of Spider-Man, er, or maybe he was actually called “Oz,” and was an aspiring magician. That’s the craziest origin story they could think of? Joking aside, this came from the director of the Spider-Man trilogy (Sam Raimi), and the trailers made it look similar to the trippy Alice in Wonderland live-action movie, which I actually enjoyed (dodges shoe thrown by hater). But how did this remake prequel deliver? (SPOILERS FOLLOW)

Well, it performed like a cheap pizza- good at first, heartburn and sorrow later. It started out with a spectacular opening credit sequence that made my 3D price worth it, and had a beginning that seemed a tribute to the original Wizard of Oz movie. The first 20ish minutes were shot in black and white with an old-school screen size. The acting style felt old-fashioned and larger-than-life, most notably from James Franco and Abigail Spencer. Heck, Oz even entered Oz via a tornado, and then we got a look at the wide-screen, vibrantly colored world. By the time Theodora and the womanizing Oz arrived in the Emerald City, I was completely into the movie.

 

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Creepy doll actually wasn’t creepy.

 

And then something happened. I’m not really sure if there was one catalyst or not, but after Mila Kunis transformed into the more-wicked-witch, I realized my expectations for this movie had not only fallen but had gotten curb-stomped by a winged baboon.  Simply put, the movie was good enough, but could have been much better. To twist Oz’s words, I didn’t want this to be a good movie, I wanted it to be a great one. Maybe if Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz hadn’t been so convincing, Mila Kunis’s acting wouldn’t have been so painful once she tried to play the evil role. Maybe if Mila Kunis’s second-half face hadn’t looked so laughably fake, we may not have cared about her acting so much. Maybe if there had been any sense of real danger or conflict, the movie could have been interesting in the second act. Maybe if the writers could have fleshed out the characters more, the most believable and likable wouldn’t have been the (well-done)  CGI china doll. Maybe if the movie hadn’t ended so randomly, yet weakly.

 

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Sorry, Mila Kunis. Her version was much better.

 

I really wanted to give this movie two thumbs up. Unfortunately, it’s only gonna get one thumb up, hesitantly and that’s if you see it in 3D. And I’m gonna point two thumbs down in advance for the already-announced sequel, because that sounds like it will blow more than a tornado.

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Franco intentionally trying to be cheesy, for once.