*NEW* SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING REVIEW *NEW*

Spidey’s back! Third reboot’s the charm?

Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland), with the help of his mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York while fighting crime as Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture (Michael Keaton), emerges.

I was furious when I heard that Spiderman was being rebooted yet again. I grew up with the Maguire movies and thought he was the best Spidey. Plus he gave us all these incredible shots. I mean, come on . . .

 

 

Although I tried to watch the 2002 entry (15 years?!) the other day and thought it was pretty cringe inducing watching a bunch of people in their mid-20s to 30s pretending to be 16. Yikes. It already felt dated and far too corny for its own good. While Spiderman 2, on the other hand, is still fantastic.

I liked Andrew Garfield BUT felt the Amazing Spiderman movies did more damage to the franchise than Spiderman 3. Especially Part Two. Dreadful doesn’t come close to expressing my disappointment with that movie. Shame.

Civil War was one of the best Marvel movies. Surprisingly, the biggest scene stealer out of the ever-growing and incredibly talented cast was . . . Spidey himself. I was really impressed with Holland’s cameo. So much so that I was actually looking forward (and dare I say excited) to watching Homecoming.

So after that rambling prologue, did Holland deliver on his first full feature debut?

In a nutshell, he didn’t disappoint! Good fun all round!

The energy and quick witted humour was cranked up to 11. Holland’s fast talking and rampant energy was a much needed injection to a franchise (I feared) couldn’t be revived.

The opening didn’t mess about. It set up the baddie, brought in the hero and got down to business.

Homecoming was an origin movie without being one (if that’s possible). We didn’t have the spider bite. We’ve had 5 movies (and a vastly rich comic book backlog). We all know how he got his powers. And just in case, you didn’t; a passing comment was enough to suffice.

The producers have done their homework. Using the predecessors as a base to explore unmarked territory. Hardly a spoiler BUT there wasn’t even another soul destroying Uncle Ben killing back story.

If anything, this felt like, as Stark so rightly put it, “Spiderman in training wheels” mode. A much lighter effort.

The humour was fantastic as Spiderman tried to help his neighbourhood. Rescuing stolen bikes, giving people directions and swinging around the city. All to the beat of a cracking soundtrack.

The high school melodrama was a little tame for me. Watchable and fun BUT I want my superheroes battling something darker than popularity and a high school crush.

Zendaya was funny but her role felt a little unnecessary and out of place. Jacob Batalon was the scene stealer as Peter’s nerdy partner in crime, Ned. The clumsy duo delivered some of the better laughs.

Marisa Tomei wasn’t in this as much as I hoped. I always liked the relationship between Aunt May and Peter. They didn’t really get any proper screen time until near the end. Despite some nice moments, there are some things we don’t mind revisiting.

It helped having Tony Stark popping up as Parker’s mentor. The dynamic worked on so many levels; giving an extra depth to the pair. Parker with his naïve and eager determination to do more and Stark finally opening up and showing that he’s more than a mega rich ego-centrist.

I didn’t really have much time for Jon Favreau’s chauffeur Happy in the Iron Man movies. I thought it was a little pretentious for the Iron Man director to get in on the action BUT he really delivered as the miserable babysitter. His droll demeanour and frustration worked perfectly with the super peppy Parker.

The special effects were fantastic. A nail biting action set piece involving the Washington Monument left me feeling queasy. I’m not that bad with heights BUT even that sequence gave me vertigo. Bleurgh.

3D was a waste of time. BUT if you’re thinking of seeing it in 4DX, I would heavily recommend. Just don’t see it on a hot summer’s day. Trust me, you’ll be praying for Keaton’s Vulture (Steady now). Only if it’s just for the fans to come on. Phew.

And Michael Keaton, well . . . I can’t even begin to tackle the metatextual references. The guy who played a superhero, who then played a washed up actor playing a superhero called Birdman, who then played a super villain called the Vulture. My God.

He was brilliant. Chewing up the scenes. Not enough of him. I felt his performance and gravitas was wasted on the wrong villain. After having the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe’s NOT James Franco and DEFINITELY NOT Dane DeHaan’s Green Goblin!) and Doctor Octopus, the Vulture fell short by comparison.

Keaton was only really let loose in the chaotic finale. His “Walk away” speech with Parker was tense and unnerving. Perfect. I wanted more of that.

The pace did lag as we reached the 105 minute marker and I felt the final showdown with The Vulture was drawn out and a little repetitive with one agonizing explosion after explosion. The CGI and camera work was incredibly disorienting as the pair spiralled around in the night sky.

Holland delivered a stellar turn BUT I found, at times, his running commentary irritating. Now, I never read the comic books (Sacrilege! I know) BUT was Parker always so chatty that he came off as a mad teen with ADHD? Just a small grumble. I mean come on. He’s 15 with superhuman powers.

Despite its flaws, Homecoming was still a fun ride as Peter come to terms with the scope of his abilities and the morals of justice. With Holland at the helm and this production team, there’s still life in Spidey yet. And I can’t wait for more.

3.5/5

AND . . .  Of course, there is a post credit teaser. It’s a Marvel movie. Be PATIENT and the wait pays off.

THE INTERVIEW REVIEW

The Interview Movie

The film that nearly caused a ”war”. With hype like that, it was never going to deliver up to it’s expectations. BUT it doesn’t help that it’s just not that great.

From the western capitalists that brought you Bad Neighbours and This is the End . . .

It really is what you think. Franco and Rogen apply their usual smutty spiel in a Pineapple Express meets Frost/Nixon mish-mesh.

All that controversy in the news and what do you know? It get’s released. Funny that its IMDb rating dropped from 9.2 to 6.9 after an official release date was agreed. Hmmm . . .

It’s not all bad. But my main quip with this film is that it’s the same old guff; F + R effing and jeffing, rants that go off on random tangents for far too long and, oh of course, let’s not forget the pill popping.

So what’s it about? (For those who may have missed the headlines) Dave Skylark (Franco) and producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen) run the celebrity tabloid show “Skylark Tonight.” When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission.

I knew from the get go what sort of film I was in for. The cartoon credit sequence with a Korean woman tearing up the American flag. Followed by a little girl singing “Death to America” while a nuclear missile was launched behind her said it all.

James Franco was fantastic. If not for him, this film would have bombed. Did anyone else notice how rough he was looking?

However, he played the deluded celebrity TV journalist Dave Skylark to perfection. A true egotist and simpleton. It seemed a little slow to get going. An interview with Eminem (who is looking old now!) soon livened things up.

A casual conversation inadvertently outing the rapper was a surprise. I did not expect The Real Slim Shady to suggest that his lyrics were a gay peekaboo. Brilliant.

Rogen plays Skylark’s best pal and frustrated producer. Desperate to be taken seriously and deliver real news; not that Rob Lowe is bald.

There are couple of cameos from Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s previous entries which deliver the odd chuckle. I’m not going to spoil everything now.

The bromance is still very much there. Rogen and Franco are still an entertaining couple. Normally their improvising did my nut in BUT this time around, I wanted more of it. The relentless Lord of the Rings references were starting to irritate me.

BUT it all seemed to be set up for a big punch line that I couldn’t help smiling over.

The other gags weren’t so hot. The inevitable “Me-so-sorry” lines rearing their ugly heads. Okay, the “Did you say Dong?” reference got a guilty titter. The pill popping and boozing was unnecessary and unfunny.

The alluring Lizzy Caplan did her best with her stocky CIA counterpart. If not for the “Honey Pot” debate gag, anyone could have played her. Or better yet, not needed her altogether. Shame.

The training session in which the pair must practice using Ricin was interesting but not very funny. It’s scary how poison can be transferred BUT come on, I watched 24.

So a Pineapple Express meets An Interview with a Vampire. Or reclusive maniacal leader.

How was the man in question presented? Well . . .

Randall Park was fantastic as Kim Jong-un. To be honest, he was the most entertaining character in it. BUT from a political standpoint, I could see how it could cause offense. However, I think Mr. Un needs to get a sense of humour.

I mean, come on. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, this ain’t. Hell, it doesn’t even cross Team America: World Police on the controversy scale.

He was merely a shy superfan with daddy issues. Hardly original.

Inevitably, Franco’s Skylark takes a shining to the misunderstood dictator as they bond over hookers and shooting missiles from tanks while drinking margaritas and singing to Katy Perry’s “Firework”. Yeah, you read that right.

Franco and Park were hilarious together with Rogen sitting on the sidelines. Some of Franco’s one liners were brilliant, “He’s peanut butter and jealous of us. He’s spreading KY jealous all over his balls.”

So is this really what all the fuss was about?

Well, not exactly. The final 20 minutes felt like two films meshed together and neither came off quite as well as you hoped.

The smiley superfan’s grin soon starts to crack, unearthing a demented maniac. It got a little more interesting with some actual satire. An incident involving a fake grocery store certainly got things moving in the direction I had originally expected.

There were a few moments that were just bizarre and f*cked up. They didn’t really fit in the film. Something I expected to see more in This is The End.

The strange Frost/Nixon set up at the end did throw in a few stats and suggested a little more to this chughead comedy. BUT that bubble soon burst with Jong-Un sharting on live air.

I think that controversy must have been an incredible PR stunt because beneath its fiery surface, there isn’t much else going on.

A sequence involving a drone pickup and a tiger was really funny and suspenseful. Once Diana Bang got over her “HOT” hard ass demeanour as Un’s head of communications, Sook, she was quite entertaining.

It’s big, dumb, at times quite funny but OTT and a bit of a let down.

If you were expecting something more, then you will be left disappointed. BUT if you love F + R and feel they can do no wrong then invest.

Mixed bag for me.

2.5/5

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES REVIEW

new-poster-for-dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes

Yawn of the Planet of the Apes? Not quite but a questionable running length does more damage than the simian flu in what could have been a visually stunning tour de force of a prequel/sequel/prequel sequel

I fear this film will split people. Not that it hadn’t from the get go with a Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy but some will be in awe of the incredibly visual work to even care that beneath the surface there isn’t a lot of story and in terms of human character development, there is zilch. I really wanted to this work and it does . . . in sorts. A mixed bag.

Visually stunning. Incredible animation. Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) and Toby Kebbell (Rock ‘N’ Rolla) are fantastic as Caesar and Koba. Their expressions and movements are impeccable. You can actually suspend disbelief and become engrossed in the beautifully animated habitat. I know that the monkeys are at the fore front of these movies but it seems that no time was spent on providing us with human characters that we should care about. It is all clearly defined in the trailer; good guy, bad guy, good ape, bad ape.

The opening sequence in which we see the apes hunting and communicating through sign language is intriguing and suspenseful. They have developed a safe haven with rules and respect. That is until the humans come along. To be honest, the 3D is not a massive investment nor does it make a massive impact. The animation is good enough. Every time the humans enter the scene, you feel like the wind is being knocked out of the sails. It was great to see TV actors from the small screen get a bigger platform to perform but the characters are so clichéd and flat, that you find it hard to care. The time and energy is more focused on our primitive protagonists.

It was great to see Jason Clarke (Lawless) playing a normal good guy and he was probably the most memorable character . . . out of the humans. If anything it proved that Franco and Lithgow’s presences were very much missed. A passing reference with some video camera footage is we all get on old James ‘Squinty’ Franco. Keri Russell (The Americans) was the only female character that was so bland, it was such a shame. Any back story or mystery about the humans is soon exposed and leaves little interest. It felt like the writer had spent the time on the monkeys and thought, “Oh wait. We need some humans. Yeah, that will do”. It was great to see Gary Oldman but to be honest, anyone could have played him. All he did was cry or yell “They’re animals” over and over.

The main thing that kept this slackening piece going was the brewing rivalry between Koba and Caesar as Koba’s distrust for the humans seemed to threaten the very peace that Caesar worked hard to keep hold of. One thing that did irritate me slightly was once you have heard Caesar yell “No” or “Go” numerous times (with great conviction by Serkis), you can’t help but feel where is this going? We have seen all this before. For some, that will be enough. For others, you may be left wanting. Caesar is still a charismatic character and he steals the scene every time. But apart from Koba, there aren’t any memorable characters that can rival them.

It’s not all bad. Koba’s stake out sequences on the humans made for engaging viewing and when the action and suspense finally arrives, it delivers the goods. The final 20 minutes are riveting, explosive and action packed. However, you can’t help but feel that with the inevitable air of another sequel rearing its ugly head, that everything will either remain unresolved or be thrown up in the air. You find yourself picking out moments and guessing; this must be where the apes go full evil and enslave the humans, nope. Now, nope.

Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) does his best at taking over the helm but it all felt like build up. With confirmation that he will be directing the next instalment, two things are a must. More pace and better humans. Monkeys are A-OK. One slight qualm, how come Koba spoke more English than Caesar? Why aren’t they all speaking yet? But to be able to do sign language, hunt and build up a colony in ten years, some would say that’s plenty progress.

All in all, not bad. Fantastic animation, great visual and action pieces but a lagging pace and predictable human characters kill off what could have something so much better. 3/5

Currently ranked 64 out of 196!

THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 REVIEW

the_amazing_spider_man_2

The-Not-So-Amazing-And-Incredibly-Corny-Spiderman.

Stunning special effects and 3D trickery does not a good movie make.

Certainly made it watchable BUT with a gushy teen romance subplot dominating an overlong screen time, villains that hardly threatened or entertained and a plot that was nothing more than build up for another inevitable installment, you can’t help but question why they bothered rebooting it in the first place?

Now, I loved the Sam Raimi trilogy (well Spiderman 3 was watchable. Seen a lot worse. Let’s not forget Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin, guys).

Tobey Maguire was an excellent Peter Parker (although he has been subject to some hilarious memes for his infamous face pulling).

When I heard there was going to be a reboot, I was baffled. Why? No need. Just carry on from Raimi and replace the cast if they want to leave. However, Marc Webb’s first installment was actually quite good. For an origin story, it did something that quite a few comic book adaptations don’t and that’s go back to the source material.

Andrew Garfield was a very likeable lead and a cooler, more laid back version of Maguire’s Parker. For its two hour-odd length, I could have happily watched more. My only qualm was that the villain was a little naff and the story was rushed. BUT I wanted to see more. And here we are . . .

An exhilarating (if mental) opener delving into Peter’s parents “accident”, and Spidey dealing with a crime spree, delivered high hopes. Cheesy, watchable and entertaining. BUT that soon spiralled into mediocrity.

Garfield and Stone had great chemistry and were a likeable couple in the first part. Inevitably their chemistry turned out to be more and they’re a real life couple. However, this time, the teen angst and will-they-won’t-they?-back story felt repetitive, tedious and incredibly cheesy. The sort of syrupy stuff you’d expect to see in a Twilight movie.

The way the movie was promoted, I expected something bigger, darker, badder. Bigger? Certainly. Darker? Hardly. The pair do their best and the chemistry was still very much on. BUT it felt because of the teen gossip, Webb allowed a little too much time on them. I mean we had all that will-they-won’t-they? stuff in the Raimi trilogy with Dunst and Maguire. Been there done that.

This was supposed to be a reboot. Doing something different. I know Parker’s torn loyalty between the woman he loves and saving the city was always going to be at the forefront. BUT it felt slapped together. Even the uneasy tension between Parker and Stacey’s dad (Dennis Leary) went nowhere. He just kept popping up, grimacing menacingly.

The visual effects, the set pieces and 3D were fantastic with bits flying out (steady now) all over the place. The camera work as Spidey swung around the New York cityscape was fantastic. However when some of the bigger battles commenced, the CGI got a little much and cartoony in places.

Webb reduced Peter and Aunt May’s relationship to nothing. A shame considering he had Sally Field in the role. Anyone could have played her.

The lovely Felicity Jones (Chalet Girl/Cemetery Junction) was reduced to playing a stocky, generic secretary. The same can be said for Colm Feore (The Borgias/The Chronicles of Riddick). He made more of an impression BUT a nothingy role nonetheless.

The villains, on the other hand, in the words of George Takei, “OH MY!!”

Jamie Foxx did his best with the material. His nerdy counterpart Max Dillon was incredibly weird. If anything he reminded me of Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma from Batman Forever. His obsession with Spiderman, after a brief life saving encounter, bordered on creepyville.

However, once he transformed into Electro  (Fantastic visuals by the way), he got better. But memorable? The best villain in Spiderman history? Hardly. He came off more like a demented electrolysed Mr Freeze with a sore throat.

Don’t get me wrong. The fight sequences were decent BUT the dialogue and exchanges left little to be desired.

Marton Csokas’ evil scientist came off more like a pantomine villain. Paul Giamatti? What the hell? Legend that he is. His part was incredibly irritating and OTT. A change from his usual roles but really? The money must have been good.

Fair play to Webb for reworking the Osbourns. BUT Chris Cooper was reduced to a passing cameo as Norman. I know we had the talented Willem Dafoe BUT I would have been happy to see his portrayal. At least the origin of the Green Goblin was different.

Dane DeHaan (Chronicle/Kill Your Darlings) wasn’t a bad Harry. He looked shady enough with his slimy grin and slick back hair. BUT even ol’ squinty eyed Franco did a more menacing job. Plus the Green Goblin? Really? Again? I suppose he was one of Spidey’s biggest adversaries.

My main problem was that Spiderman was rebooted for its silly, OTT, ridiculous third installment. BUT this very film did the exact same thing. Bar a redeeming closing act.

I’m fed up of films building up for another one. The film I’m watching should make me want to watch the next one.

Garfield was still a likeable Spiderman that delivered some cheeky one liners. BUT the quick-witted banter was very hit and miss. It was all a little tame (Spiderman light) until the finale. An unexpected twist gave me hope. But it wasn’t enough.

I fear this franchise is heading for Schumacher territory. This ship needs moving into Nolan/Raimi waters or I fear it will sink. Get some better baddies and this reboot might just prove it’s worth.

At its best, watchable guff with some decent visual set pieces. At its worst, overlong, schmaltzy and all done before and much better. This Spidey fan is reaching for his bug spray.

2.5 out of 5!

HOMEFRONT REVIEW

Homefront-Movie-Poster

Have faith in the Stath. Even if the film’s a little . . . Well . . .

Do you love action movies? Do you love Jason Statham? Do you care about plot or feasible story lines? No? Let me guess. Do you like your movies served explosive with a side order of violence? Then this is for you.

If you’re a Stath nut, then in the roster of his works, this falls short. Although not his worst, I’ll leave that to Hummingbird, it still had nothing on Crank or the epic Transporter films (Minus Part 3).

Written by Sylvester “The ExpendablesStallone, Homefront is about a former DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham) who retires to the rural Deep South, after a botched operation, with his young daughter (Izabela Vidovic). What starts off as a little playground fight between Stath’s little ‘un and one of the local kids, escalates into a bitter community feud, which in typical fashion, leads to all-out mayhem.

The cliches are all there. One on one knife fights (Check), random weapons scattered across the house (Check), the usual “Trust me baby, Daddy’s coming” rubbish (Check, check, check). BUT for the first hour, I was able to enjoy it. In fact, it was actually quite watchable.

All thanks to a surprisingly decent cast. Kudos to Kate Bosworth as the nagging heroin white trash neighbour. However, it was a shame that her character faded further into the background as the chaos ensued. Clancy Brown was wasted as the Sheriff with his Django-esque delivery, “You got my attention, son”. Clearly, the point of his character was to establish that the police don’t run things in this town BUT to have such a great actor in such a small passive role, it felt like a missed opportunity.

I was surprised to see Winona Ryder in this and looking good (Steady now). Even managed to bag the best (or worst) character name of Sheryl Mott. Sly you dirty old man. Unless he’s not familiar with the expression? Moving on . . .

Stath applies his usual gravitas to yet another stocky role. However, the chemistry between him and Vidovic was quite good and made that inevitable Commando-esque father/daughter relationship much more bearable. I was glad to not actually hate the kid, which is normally a given in these sort of movies.

James Franco was brilliant. He stole the show. Bringing his squinty eyed menace to the meth dealer and “town authority” Gator Bovine (What a name!). He managed to make a memorable turn with the cardboard material he had (Sorry, Sly) and inject some much needed tension to the more heated exchanges with Stath’s Broker.

The action sequences were impressive. Most notably with Stath’s fighting scenes. You could feel every punch and hear every crunch. It’s a shame that what could have been a tense action thriller combining Breakdown with a hint of Deliverance had to crash and burn into the same old cliched guff.

It fizzled out far too quickly and we were left with numerous explosive endings with the inevitable OTT shoot em up, punch first questions later spiel taking over. It was just so predictable and felt like all the other action flicks out there that have done before and much better.

Despite being watchable, it was hardly memorable or outstanding BUT if you really fancy giving it a go, I could think of worse ways to kill 90 odd minutes.

Not bad BUT certainly not great.

2.5/5