Tag Archives: fanboy movie reviews

Spider-Man: Homecoming

spidey11.pngSpider-Man: Homecoming may not be the best movie in the franchise (since my favourite Spidey villain is Doc Ock, I have a soft spot for Spider-Man 2) and may not even be the best superhero movie of the summer (Wonder Woman is undeniably great).  But the fact that those were the conversations the assholes were having after we saw Spider-Man: Homecoming last night shows that Homecoming is a great movie in its own right.

Most importantly, Homecoming GETS Spider-Man.  This is a movie that is fan service from start to finish.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe features prominently in the story as the events in the Avengers and Civil War are built on (and Iron Man plays a pretty big role).  There are also a ton of familiar names for fans to find, from Ned Leeds to Flash Thompson to Mac Gargan, and one or two more that I’ll let you discover for yourself.

Even better, the story calls back to several classic comic moments, including this one from Amazing Spider-Man #33 (1966), which is a defining moment for Spidey:

ditko3.jpg

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Spider-Man finds a way to succeed even when it seems there’s no chance, and the final battle in Homecoming is a great display of what I love about Spidey, from start to finish.  The conclusion of that battle especially reminded me of the first Spidey comic I ever read, and really, every Spidey comic since.  Spider-Man’s desire to do the right thing is what makes him my favourite and I was extremely happy to see that made a focus of the film (“with great power comes great responsibility” is never actually said, but it’s the movie’s underlying theme and that’s a far better approach than giving us another depiction of Uncle Ben’s death).

Fittingly for Spider-Man, the hero who can’t stop saying corny one-liners as he fights the bad guys, this may also be the funniest superhero movie ever made.  It captures the light-hearted, good-natured awkwardness of Peter Parker and the awkwardness of high school in general.  There are a lot of laughs from start to finish, and like Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy before it, Homecoming always finds a way to entertain the audience in between the action (often at our hero’s expense, as it should be with Spidey).

(SPOILER: sometimes the humour even comes at the audience’s expense, as you will find out if you stick around to the very end.)

Spider-Man: Homecoming met my high expectations, and then some.  This is how you make a great superhero movie, by staying true to the character, and when that character is your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, you’re in for a treat.

Advertisements

Spider-Man: Homecoming Hype

I am counting the hours until we see Spider-Man: Homecoming tonight.  This movie has been circled on my calendar since Captain America: Civil War, and when I heard there’s no origin story I became even more excited!

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a big deal.  Spidey’s on the outfield wall at Yankee Stadium, we watched Peter Parker take in the Warriors’ victory from Tony Stark’s penthouse, and I even got to BE Spidey when the spider-man-homecoming-vr-experience-1.pngSpider-Man: Homecoming Virtual Reality Experience released last weekend on PS4 (it’s also available on PC).

The Spider-Man: Homecoming Virtual Reality Experience is a freebie/tech demo that someone absolutely has to turn into a full game.  I loved putting on the suit and shooting webs – I’ve played through the thing like ten times (it’s about five minutes long).  But that five minutes is such a tease.  I hone my skills, webbing bottles and drones and knocking down debris, but then can’t do anything to the Vulture when he starts blowing things up.  Maybe I’m just a bad shot?  If you’ve hit the Vulture, please let me know!

Holo featuring Spider-Man5 (1).png

If that’s not enough Spidey for you, there’s also an app called Holo that lets you take selfies and videos with Spider-Man.  I can’t think of a better way to impress my nephews than a selfie with Spidey (mainly because I’ve already got a picture with Lightning McQueen)!

Spider-Man is truly everywhere right now as his latest movie/reboot opens this weekend.  I’m trying to manage my expectations for tonight but of course they’re sky-high because Spider-Man is my favourite superhero, hands down!  I’ll let you know whether the movie lives up to the massive hype and my even bigger hopes.

Oh, Hello on Broadway

oh hello.jpg

Remember when they used to make movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches?  Isn’t it weird how that used to be a thing?  And that one of the best of the bunch was the movie about these two guys:

night at the roxbury.gif

Even though I grew up during the peak of the SNL movie craze, I was still blown away to see Oh, Hello on Broadway pop up on Netflix, in a “How is this even possible?” kind of way.  But I’m so glad it did and it’s better than I could have hoped.

For the uninitiated, Oh, Hello is one of a boatload of great skits from the Kroll Show, featuring two old men who, in a way, are not that different than the Butabi Brothers.  As the unimaginative name of the Netflix special implies, Oh, Hello then became a Broadway play, because why not?  And now, Oh, Hello on Broadway is a Netflix special that is basically a full-length movie about these two guys.  A flat-out hilarious hour and 42 minutes in the company of these wacky geezers.

tuna.jpgLike Night at the Roxbury, Oh, Hello on Broadway takes a one-note premise and uses it as a gateway to a fully-fledged story that looks behind the premise to the characters themselves.  Absurd as they are, Gil Faison (Nick Kroll) and George St. Geegland (John Mulaney) are surprisingly relatable and human, as we are shown through an insane play-within-a-play structure that works far better than it should.  The background story also is far better than it needed to be, because I would have been satisfied with a few, ‘Oh, Hello’s, and ‘Too Much Tuna’s.   Which of course I got.  Kroll and Mulaney knew why I was watching, but they also showed me how much they love these characters by giving them a proper home.

Because the special is so different from the skit, I don’t think any knowledge of the skits is needed.  Feel free to jump right in, but still, you should watch the skits at some point because they’re funny as hell.

I’m so glad to see stuff like this on Netflix and I hope we get more.  Jay and I had hoped to see this on Broadway but the scheduling didn’t work out, and while seeing it on Netflix is not the same as seeing it live, it’s better than not seeing it at all.  You should definitely add this one to your list.

 

Alien: Covenant

MV5BMTUxMjU4NTM4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzczMDY5MTI@._V1_CR0,60,640,360_AL_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_

You always know better than the idiots in horror movies. Don’t go to an uncharted planet streaming John Denver songs to the universe. Hell, don’t go into space period! When you get to the planet, don’t trust its lone inhabitant who lives in a graveyard and conducts science experiments in a drippy cave. Especially when the results of those science experiments look suspiciously like the creepy little things that just blew up your only ride off the planet. But if not for those dumb decisions, there wouldn’t be much of a movie here, and certainly not one about Aliens with a capital A.

As the SXSW Sneak Peek hinted, the idiots in Alien: Covenant are more tolerable than most, because every bad decision leads us to a place we want to go. Ridley Scott’s playful approach here elevates Alien: Covenant above every entry in this franchise since Aliens. The bad decisions aren’t infuriating, they’re chess moves, most of which lead to another piece getting ripped apart into gooey chunks by space monsters.

Everything in this movie services the Aliens, including the speedy pace at which they burst out of people (taking only as long as needed to cause maximum carnage). Alien: Covenant felt like a Star Wars prequel in that respect, as the technology (in this case, the creatures produced by those previously mentioned science experiments) behind the Aliens seems better in the “past” than in the “future”. I suppose that’s inevitable when prequels are made 30 years later, and I was a lot more forgiving of it here that I was with Star Wars. I think that’s because in Alien: Covenant, the changes from the original rules make the movie more entertaining, while the changes in Star Wars made the movies into a CGI tutorial mixed with a boring political drama.

Above all else, Alien: Covenant is fun, and that’s because Ridley Scott and his cast (led by stellar performances by Michael Fassbender (x2) and Katherine Waterston channeling Ripley and kicking Alien ass just like Sigourney Weaver did) deliver everything this franchise’s fans could possibly have asked for. No unnecessary exposition, no extraneous plot points, just Aliens mowing down idiot after idiot.

For that, Alien: Covenant gets a score of eight chest-bursting xenomorphs out of ten.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Vol-2-wallpaperI have avoided writing this review since Thursday.  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 left me entirely uninspired. Was it the mediocre 70s music? The laughable indestructibility of the heroes and villains that only disappeared when convenient to a plot point? That we have seen this movie before, a thousand times? Or that these heroes, who seemed so fresh the first time around, had nothing new to offer?  Whatever the reason, this movie was missing the spark that made the first Guardians of the Galaxy so much fun.

“More of the same” is generally something that necessarily is tied to a sequel; after all, the reason the sequel exists is because we liked the first one and asked for more. But the sequels I most enjoy are those that could stand alone if the first one was somehow wiped from memory. I don’t think Guardians Vol. 2 passes that test. It starts strongly (as Jay said to me afterward, she would have preferred it if Groot had danced his way through the whole movie) but loses its way, sacrificing action scenes and momentum to rehash the first movie’s tale of outcasts forced together to save the galaxy.

Strangely, for a movie that I don’t think could stand on its own, Guardians Vol. 2 also does not really do anything to advance things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. If it had, I might have felt better about the movie as then it would have had a purpose. Without that, and without any real progress from the first film, Guardians Vol. 2 felt like a throwaway franchise episode, another The Fate of the Furious, another blockbuster that will have been forgotten in six months. In other words, the polar opposite of how I felt after seeing Guardians Vol. 1.

As always, my hopes were definitely too high for this sequel but I think the main reason I was so underwhelmed by this movie is because what I liked so much about the first film was its originality, and this is a carbon copy of #1 in practically every way.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gets a score of five dancing Groots out of ten.

 

Rogue One

k-2so-in-star-wars-rogue-oneRogue One is the movie the prequels should have been. It is fresh, entertaining, and necessary. Rogue One’s humour works for adults as well as five year olds (though any self-aware Star Wars fan must acknowledge that the gap there for us is not all that wide). Rogue One links to what we’ve seen before in a way that feels natural and rewards fans who are familiar with every scene of the original trilogy, and leads into the known end point of A New Hope without any trouble whatsoever.

Rogue One is also a movie that could never have been made under George Lucas’ watch. I do not even want to imagine how he would have approached this story, but tonally Rogue One is entirely different than all the movies that have come before, and better for it. This is not a classic adventure serial, it is a war movie with high stakes, and we quickly realize that the stakes are appropriately high considering the evil dictatorship that runs the galaxy is constructing a superweapon to crush its opponents once and for all.rogue-one-cast-photo-d23-1536x864-521514304075-1

At the same time, Rogue One gives us the funniest character of any Star Wars movie. Fittingly, it’s a robot. But where R2-D2 and BB-8 were funny in a sweet, childlike way, K2-SO is funny because he is an asshole. It’s fantastic and he is absolutely one of the best parts of this movie.

Felicity Jones is great as well as the leader of the motley crew trying to save the galaxy. Her team (and the movie as a whole) is refreshingly diverse. Though this welcome injection of diversity is, on a meta-level, unintentionally remiciscent of South Park’s Operation Human Shield, since the multi-ethnic team is the one on the suicide mission while the all-white crew from A New Hope is (or soon will be) galavanting around in the fastest, most indestructible ship in the galaxy.

Rogue One has some cheesy parts that took me out of the flow a bit, but Jay rightly pointed out that I should expect nothing different from a Star Wars film. The end result is a movie that orson-krennic_4c6477e2occasionally feels like an awkward mix of serious war movie and hopeful space odyssey, but only rarely did I have that feeling. It definitely did not ruin the movie for me and that Star Wars feel is an overwhelming positive overall (especially an amazing Darth Vader scene during the climax that shows us the power we always knew he had).

My only other complaint is the use of CG to add a few familiar faces to the film. I found it distracting and yet I also thought it was kind of a nice tribute to one of the great characters from A New Hope. Maybe we’re just not quite there on the FX front but we are incredibly close.

This is a worthy addition to the Star Wars universe. If you’re at all a fan you should see it, but if you’re at all a fan you probably already have! Rogue One gets a score of eight May the Force be With Yous out of ten.

 

 

Captain America: Civil War

captain-america-civil-war-teamSpider-Man. Ant-Man. Falcon. Black Panther. These are the top four characters, in order, in Captain America: Civil War. You might think it’s a bad sign that neither Captain America nor Iron Man is on that list, but you’d be wrong!  Although you would be right in thinking I wish this had been a Spider-Man movie with a Captain America/Iron Man cameo, rather than the other way around.

The downside to all of this is we’ve seen it all before. Not only in the sense that it’s roughly the six hundredth comic book movie that came out this year, but also because DC’s eulogy to the millions of fictional civilians killed every year by superheroes came out just six weeks ago.

One big difference between the two movies: Marvel’s is far better. Though like Batman v. Superman, Civil War is too long.  With that said, I’m willing to forgive Marvel since that extra run time was used to shoehorn in Spider-Man. Who, as mentioned at the start, was AWESOME.

Another big difference: Marvel’s movie is way funnier. Civil War would have won by default anyway since there were no laughs at all in BvS, but Civil War is legitimately funny in between the dead family member melodrama.

But as with BvS, don’t expect anything new, don’t expect a good villain, and don’t expect the story to make any goddamned sense. Really, the only differences between the two movies are that (a) we’re glad to see/meet Marvel’s supporting heroes while DC’s just felt like filler; and (b) most of Marvel’s heroes are eager to make us laugh even while fighting, which is a welcome change from DC’s rainy night fights between surly mumbling demigods. Spider-Man is the perfect example of Marvel’s success in both categories, and that’s enough to make this movie worth watching.

Mostly, that’s because Spidey is the best superhero ever and I’m pumped he’s back in the MCU, where he belongs. Though I am suffering from chronic end-credit-scene-fatigue, as a Spider-Man fan I’m glad I stuck around ’til the very end. Hint, hint.

Captain America: Civil War gets a score of eight webslinging vigilantes out of ten.

Deadpool

deadpool-ver8-acc2e-165786It’s always nice when a comic book movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. Deadpool makes clear from the opening credits that there is no danger of any seriousness here. Throughout the movie, Ryan Reynolds keeps that lighthearted vibe going by dropping references to every other comic book movie he’s been in, as well as a few that he hasn’t, and keeping the patter going even during what would be serious scenes in any other superhero movie.

Deadpool-Guns-OutDeadpool delivers, plan and simple. It is big, loud and stupid, just like it should be. After all, the main character(a) is insane; (b) is immortal; and (c) knows he is a comic book character. There’s really not any need for pretense – we came to see craziness and that’s what Deadpool gives us, from start to finish.

There’s even a bit of love to be found, but only to inject some tension. Since Deadpool can’t be hurt, someone else has to be in danger so the climactic fight means something. But for the most part, Deadpool gives us the merc with a mouth in all his glory, drawing with crayons, forgetting his guns, doling out terrible life advice, and generally being the worst hero imaginable.

And that’s okay! We don’t need all our superheroes to imitate 1960s Batman. Deadpool didn’t teach me anything and I respect it for not trying to. Though I could have done deadpool_clip_hd.0without another superhero origin story. It’s not necessary, it’s lazy, AND I’m pretty sure they already did Deadpool’s origin in Wolverine: Origins (though I’m also pretty sure they screwed it up). So Deadpool makes a misstep there but it’s forgivable since it keeps us laughing while it spins its wheels.  And really, the comedy is the whole point anyway so it’s not a major complaint, it’s just my critical two cents.

Overall, I enjoyed Deadpool a lot (and a lot more than I expected to).   I give it a score of seven self-mutilating escapes out of ten.

 

In Defense of SPECTRE: A Review For the BEST of Us.

You may have read Matt’s review of SPECTRE.  He seemed to like it but still called it the “dullest, most phoned-in Bond movie” since Casino Royale.  That’s a bit ambiguous but I think he liked SPECTRE and Casino Royale and just hated everything that came between Sir Sean Connery and Dr. Daniel Craig.

Sir Sean Connery

Real knight.

Daniel Craig

Not a real doctor. As far as I know.

You may also have read Jay’s review of SPECTRE.  You probably should read it just for context.

Jay and I have been together for over six years now.  She’s the smartest person I’ve ever met and that’s one of the things I love about her.  But it also drives me crazy because I have never been able to prove her wrong.  Until now.

Jay is right that she was never going to like this movie.  She hates everything I like on principle.  But that doesn’t make it bad.  Obviously I have fantastic taste in movies.  Exhibit A: The Rock.  Exhibit B: Transformers.  Exhibit C: Bad Boys.  Not coincidentally, those are all Michael Bay movies and two of them turned into franchises precisely becnicolas cage the rockause they were so good (the Rock probably would have been a franchise as well if not for the curse of Nicholas Cage).  Because people loved them.  You don’t get a franchise any other way, and everyone knows that sequels always live up to the original movie.  That’s just a fact.

Score: SEAN 1, JAY 0

Jay also hates franchises on principle.  But franchises make action movies better!  With franchises, we don’t have to worry about plot, or character development, or other boring things like that.   We can get straight to the action!  So when we open with the awesome Day of the Dead sequence, we don’t have to have title cards or anything to let us know that the guy who pulls off the mask is the world’s best spy, because the preceding five decades of Bond movies have already set that up.  Thank you, franchises, for simplifying our lives.

Score: SEAN 2, JAY 0

And okay, the helicopter sequence in SPECTRE is terrible.  Absolutely terrible.  But to say it’s worse than a bucket of army guys?   That’s just hyperbole.  And that’s a logical fallacy. So therefore Jay’s dislike of the helicopter sequence(s) is invalid.

  

Score:   SEAN 3, JAY 0

Jay also hated the train sequence.  Because it got destroyed.  But that’s actually entirely realistic when you consider who was doing the destruction.  Dave Bautista a.k.a. Drax the Destroyer.  Just look at how strong he is in the WWE (six time champion) or in Guardians of the Galaxy (where he singlehandedly fought a guy who later survived a spaceship crash).  That train was not only real, it was probably very well built, maybe even German.  It just didn’t matter because of how hard Bautista can punch.  If you want some sort of arthouse surrealism that’s fine, Jay, we can go to the Bytowne this weekend and watch a movie where two people can’t get out of a shed.  But don’t blame SPECTRE for your weird preferences.

Score: SEAN 4, JAY 0

Another criticism Jay made was that James Bond had different jackets all the time.  Well, that’s the whole point!  He’s not just a spy, he’s a fashionable guy with a watch that blows up and a car with an ejector seat.  Obviously he also has some sort of flying or floating wardrobe machine as well.  They probably covered that in one of the earlier Bond movies, so there was just no need to explain it this time.  Again, thank you franchises!

Score: SEAN 5, JAY 0

I think I’ve proven my point.  I’ll even give Jay the sockless loafers, Christoph Waltz in general, and the weirdness/creepiness/wasted potential of the whole Monica Bellucci thing, since I’m feeling generous.

Score: SEAN 5, JAY 3

And as for Michael Bay, you already have all the proof you need (The Rock, Transformers, Bad Boys) to rest assured that he’s Hollywood’s greatest living director.

Case closed.

Winner:  SEAN

 

HOLD THE FREAKIN PHONE, MISTER!!!

It seems our math doesn’t quite agree. Over at MY post, there’s a lot more nodding going on. I think we can count Mark, Joel, the other J, and Hammy as all #TeamJay.

San Andreas – not the Rock’s fault!

I just liked the title, it’s not a knock on this movie.  San Andreas was actually surprisingly enjoyable.  I am biased because as you may know I like when things blow up.  Well, the sheer amount of destruction on screen here probably tops 2012 (the movie not the year).  Which of course was centred around the Mayan apocalypse.  This is just two little states getting smashed, but my god, so much smash!

I go into these movies expecting cliches and this movie has all of them.  Including one I could have done without, the scuzzy new boyfriend of the ex of the male lead.  And he is super scuzzy, Mr. Fantastic he is not.  I felt like he was included just so we could get behind some of the disaster, like maybe if he dies it will be easier to forget the thousands more that are swept away with him.  You be the judge I guess.  For me, I always just assume everyone else died at the end of these movies, even though they tell us in cliched news footage that most were okay.  In San Andreas, it did not seem like anyone except the Rock and his family were walking away at the end.  The other CG rag dolls just added to the triumph.

I liked it.  Every ludicrous minute.  Critics drive me nuts when they give a movie like this a one star review.  You know what?  This is not Oscar material.  We came here to see some shit get torn up.  And San Andreas delivers to a fault!!!!

I give it a score of 31,250 atom bombs out of 40,000.