Posts Tagged ‘superhero’

*** This review may contain Spidey spoilers ***

Peter Parker tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens but is put under threat when he tries to stop a criminal on his own.

Under Jon Watts’ direction Tom Holland capture’s the Peter Parker/Spiderman character nicely, the handfuls of writers inject Homecoming with the humour of source material. Here Parker is not a reporter yet, he’s still really a Spider-boy. Thankfully it’s not another direct origin story but Spidey is coming used to his new powers.

In this Marvel film universe Parker has an intelligent computer Iron Man-like suit, Karen, voice by Jennifer Connelly. The computer and Parker’s relationship makes for some genuine laughs. But it’s never clearly defined what Spidey’s powers actually are without Karen the A.I. suit, aside from strength and practical web-shooters. It’s great that his mask has visors, providing more expressiveness to his appearance like in the comics/cartoons, but we need more Spidey sense.

Watts has a lot of practical and causal suited up Spiderman but there’s still too much obvious CGI as appose to just wire replacement. The on location feel helps sell the environment and you buy into Parker’s world. Holland has the 70’s live action TV show likability of Nicholas Hammond and captures the spirit of Spiderman in the dialogue and action set ups but also the teen angst.

Without drawing too many comparisons, yes, it’s another actor, another Spiderman, while Tobey Maguire was a good actor, arguably Sam Raimi’s offerings struggled to capture the comic or cartoon feel. Although Andrew Garfield was perfectly cast and Marc Webb’s films were closer to the Parker we love, it wasn’t fresh enough coming in the shadow of the previous three. All suffered from a reliance on a CGI Spiderman and overlong paint by numbers story.

What Watts and writers do get right is the bad guy, Michael Keaton does a great job as grounded villain Vulture that offers a curve ball revelation in the last quarter. His character isn’t black and white, with bags of motivation and purpose.

As a nod to fans they also subtly introduce MJ and Flash is updated fittingly. There’s some Avengers jokes and the comedy in general hits the mark. Especially with Holland’s Michael .J .Fox toned quips and Parker’s Teenwolf-like high school insecurities and Superman identity crisis work. His sidekick friend Jacob Batalon’s Ned who offers some good comic relief. Uncle Ben is omitted. Stan Lee has an obligatory cameo.

Jon Favreau’s Hogan and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark/Iron Man do turn up a little too much and feel forced fan service in their extended cameos. Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts briefly appears along with Tyne Daly. Bokeem Woodbine has notable screen presence as Tom Holland’s Shockers replacement. Also stick around for Keaton’s telling mid-end credits segment.

Overall, as a superhero film it’s good, as a Spiderman film it’s probably the best to date but not without it’s faults.

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Wonder Woman Movie Poster Diana leaves her paradise Island magically hidden from the rest of the world to fight alongside men in a war to end all wars.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman is a pleasing film in a sea of other superhero flicks. What it gets right is a good mix of action and narrative helped by the back drop of The Great War/World War I. While arguably it lags in the final act, mainly due to the seeming obligatory big boss final battle showdown it for the most part swiftly moves along. Part new origin story on the island of Themyscira, home to the Amazons, you see the character honing her powers and becoming Wonder Woman. Later when she helps a spy (Chris Pine) and they journey to Europe circa 1913, she’s finds that she is a fish out of water in her new surroundings in searching for the God of War.

Allan Heinberg’s screenplay has a few twists and plays with the sexiest elements of the period. Nevertheless, it slightly sells itself out at times with all the tropes of a love story with at times Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman playing second fiddle to Pine’s American spy pilot. Thankfully these are few and far between, but it’s still an unnecessary dynamic.

There’s a top cast full of familiar faces including David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright with the sets and costumes being Oscar worthy. This incarnation supersedes Wonder Woman 1967’s pilot, Lynda Carter’s TV pop icon version complete with memorable theme and Adrianne Palicki’s failed pilot. Gadot may not be everyone’s idea of what Diana Prince/Wonder Woman should look like, however, she is great in the role carrying the naive innocence having been on a hidden island almost all of her life with the power and presence that we saw glimpses of in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). There’s also some present day scenes that fit nicely with Zack Snyder’s outing and Justice League (2017). With plenty fight scenes the new Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL Wonder Woman theme kicks in fittingly and Rupert Gregson-Williams’ score captures the atmosphere of the respective settings.

Overall, Wonder Woman is probably one of the most rounded entertaining super hero movies out there with its war themes ironically just as relevant today.

Suicide Squad Movie Poster*** This review may contain DC spoilers ***

U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated super villains who are held to ransom for a top-secret mission.

David Ayer’s dark comic book film Suicide Squad offers plenty of solid acting, but the film feel like a series of abridged clips in a paper thin story, which is a shame given Will Smith’s fine performance as Dead Shot and Joel Kinnaman’s first-rate Rick Flag. Actually the cast save this suicide run including the likes of Viola Davis, Jay Hernandez who has an horrific back story as Diablo and gets a memorable show down with an Incubus. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is notable with plenty of presence as Killer Croc. Ben Affleck’s Batman’s cameo and The Jokers failed attempts to reunite with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is at times more interesting than David Ayer’s popcorn servicing plot.

Ayer’s bid to frame all the squad Magnificent Seven/Reservoir Dogs style arguably feels staged and overtly over done. Steven Price’s music helps the action and poses with some techno Rambo-like motifs. The all-villain fighting team spend too much time fighting faceless hordes of monster entities. That’s not to say that Ayer doesn’t deliver of the directing duties or aesthetics, the look of Suicide Squad oozes an edgy ominous atmosphere and a quantity of dialogue and cutting humour hit the mark. Its just all undermined by paint by numbers plotting and a collection of convenient coincidences as team log heads with intelligence operative Amanda Waller and/or is attacked by the Enchantress, her brother and their minions.

With the team forced to carry out the governments wishes or have their heads blown off to Ayer credit there’s poignant moments with a sense of camaraderie and heart much of which come from Smith, Kinnaman and Robbie. Jai Courtney redeems himself as Boomerang after his stint as Kyle Reese. Sadly, at times confined to flashbacks Jared Leto’s admirable maniacal uncomfortable take on The Joker is left to just pop up now and again like a whirlwind Silver tooth evil Cesar Romero. Robbie’s Quinn and Leto’s Joker tortured Stockholm syndrome-like relationship is scarily realised. Their switch-blade romance reminiscent of Natural Born Killers and the like would have made an interesting dark original film in its own right.

Nigglingly Ayer on occasion debatably reduces Robbie to eye candy (by default) and Harley could have been played by anyone with the equal amount of nihilistic sassiness which under serves both the character and the actor, thankfully the flashbacks flesh her out but Robbie is spread quip thin in the main story. The editing and pacing doesn’t seem to help things either, Suicide Squad possibly could have benefited with the back-stories being extended and playing out chronologically, even over two films – as it rushes to get to a place and that somewhere never quite pays off which is a crying shame giving the effort put in. Cara Delevingne puts in a good dual role innings as June Moone/Enchantress but the otherworldly unstoppable CGI villain while well realised feels out of place, the CGI versus the gritty underdogs doesn’t seem to hold up in the closing. There’s also a tagged on ending with an unnecessary (Marvel style) scene that sets up the Justice League movie instead of a Suicide Squad sequel, which leaves the Squad characters hanging.

Warner Bros’ Suicide Squad is entertaining but frustrating, it’s worth watching for the actor’s efforts if you can over look its short comings. Will Smith and company require another fairer crack of the whip.

*** This review contains superhero world destroying spoilers ***

1983, an ancient mutant awakes to reclaim the Earth. Only a handful of inexperienced mutants can stop him and his newest recruit – the powerful Magneto.

Director Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse has the synonymous superhero city-level destruction with amazing effects, yes it feels a worn but the focus remains on the popular characters and their relationships. It magnifies all the best of the genre, serving up a solid story that remains pin sharp clear throughout.

The Valley of the Nile opening is the most interesting of the film, Singer conjures up a Stargate, Gods of Egypt hybrid where we’re introduced to the excellent Oscar Isaac in almost unrecognisable make up as the mutant Apocalypse. Notable is Death played memorably by Monique Ganderton, one of The Horsemen who saves Apocalypse allowing him to recruit some familiar mutants later. These include Angel (Ben Hardy channelling the late Heath Ledger) and a young Storm, Alexandra Shipp. Olivia Munn’s Psylocke has an edge and a costume in which she steals every scene.

The series time resetting and continuity malarkey aside there are many anachronisms littered throughout – t-shirts, glasses and locations etc. that were not around in 1983. Also there are ‘fridge logic’ instances, for example Magneto should be about 50. Between First Class and Apocalypse, 20 years have gone by but many of the characters remain youthful, Magneto should be about 50 having being around 10 in 1944, Rose Byrne’s Moira MacTaggert appear to not have aged a day and so on.

There are several films crammed into one and it works thanks to the central friendship story-line that’s heart to the film. After the visually fantastic opening the first hour establishes what the characters have been up to, the latter half is then a face off between the players. World-destroying, operatic mutant, Isaac (who is somewhat a Tom Hardy acting chameleon) makes Apocalypse menacing. Simon Kinberg’s script keeps Apocalypse engaging retaining a comic feel even though it is nihilistic at times. Debatably indifferent, Singer and Kinberg never allow Apocalypse reach Nolan & Synder’s bleakness or the polish of recent Avengers and it’s Marvel movie counterpart outings. There’s fun to be had, Quicksilver (American Horror Story) Evan Peters gives X-Men: Apocalypse one of the most memorable scenes where he uses his super-speed to save students and a dog from an exploding mansion to the The Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’.

For die-hard X-Men fans Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine cameo restarts his original story with a gruesome killing rampage. The acting is what you’d expect for a cast boasting such well known faces. Grappling with the dark side of her abilities Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey even though given little to do until the action packed closing is a good addition. Mystique played again by popular actress Jennifer Lawrence never quite matches her older counterpart, Romijn. Likewise Cyclops, Tye Sheridan doesn’t meet Marsden’s presence. James McAvoy as good actor as he is still can’t shrug off Patrick Stewart’s Xavier shadow. Whereas Michael Fassbender gives Magneto’s story-line the emotional depth it requires especially after his family are murdered. Finally Nightcrawler – Kodi Smit-McPhee learns to hone his powers and is a great addition.

The characters are all interesting but Psylocke and Storm embody the way this entire series has changed its female characters; giving them emotional integrity, swagger and complexity as much as possible in a sea of other characters. In all the special effects, sound design, costumes and amazing sets X-Men: Apocalypse gets close to evoking the friendship nature of the comics. It also reflects a morally grey rather than black and white view of the world without endless rain and gloomy lighting.

Yes, there’s a Stan Lee cameo and of course there’s a anti climatic post credit scene which follows on from Wolverine’s aftermath. Overall, Singer’s back to basics story and fast pace in a wash of other recent superhero films offers (by the skin of its teeth) enough new thrills to pass the time with. Worth watching for Issac’s troubled Apocalypse and Ganderton’s small pivotal role alone.