Movie Review – Black Panther

The Revolution will not be Televised.

[THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS OR MAJOR PLOT DETAILS IN THIS REVIEW, ONLY WHAT WAS REVEALED IN TRAILERS/INTERVIEWS]

Well it looks like my favorite director and favorite actor are 3 for 3 on their team-ups. I don’t even know where to begin, that’s how happy I am. Here goes my attempt…

“Black Panther” is the 18th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it picks up where “Captain America: Civil War” left off and brings the focus to the Prince T’Challa having to formally take up the mantle of Black Panther and King of Wakanda. In this movie, we get familiarized with Wakandan culture, T’Challa’s family and best friends, and the conflict that revolves around Wakanda itself. We really do get to focus on this country and these characters because there’s barely any MCU-extras in this. In fact you really don’t even need to be caught up to watch this one on its own. What seemed like a tall order ends up being an original movie with many conflicted characters that you actually care about, an absolutely phenomenal villain (oh we’ll get there, trust me), and it manages to bring social commentary to the front without being forceful or preachy. It all just works so well.

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However, most movies aren’t perfect (even the ones like this that I personally will take with me to my grave), and I specifically made sure to see this one twice to really be fair to it and anyone reading. I couldn’t catch anything glaringly wrong without nitpicking, but there’s a few technical issues that mess with the flow a little. This movie kind of does the “Wonder Woman” thing where that first shot of Themyscira (in this case, Wakanda) looks absolutely gorgeous…but from there on out the CGI takes a dive and its not “unwatchable” but its frustrating because we’ve seen “Doctor Strange” and how amazing the effects were there, so I felt a little disappointed in that end. As many of you may have heard, there’s a lack of action and big fights in this one. From where I stand, the first fight between T’Challa and M’Baku is a bare-knuckle fight and its AMAZING because they actually go for an MMA-style bout with punches and grappling rather than the unrealistic “Black Widow” scissor kicking and a million cuts just to get one sequence right. However, admittedly the final fights are kind of bland. Lastly, I feel like the pacing could turn some people off, because the climax happens intensely and quickly after a lot of exposition and fleshing-out. I didn’t mind it because I felt like I knew the situation well enough before the thing happens, but I think an extra 10 minutes would’ve made a huge difference (would put the runtime right at the 2.5 hour mark, which I don’t mind because the time used is well spent).

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So that was me nitpicking…and all that aside this is still the best MCU movie and in the top 5 Superhero movies for me. Everything the movie does well is done so ridiculously well that you feel satisfied and familiar with Wakanda because the world and the characters are built properly so that audiences can understand them. The movie just exudes passion and power and it really captivates you. Lets get into specifics:

Anyone can look at this cast and already be amazed, but wow they ALL delivered. I can’t honestly think of a single main character or performance I disliked because all of the characters and their different motives got a chance to shine and they all got to be heard. Okoye, Nakia, M’Baku were all fantastic, Shuri (played by Letitia Wright) absolutely stole the show. She does such an amazing job of juxtaposing being T’Challa’s younger sister with being one of the brightest minds in the world, rivaling guys like Tony Stark and Dr. Strange. The best part is that all of these characters develop and conflict with each other, because of the way Coogler establishes them early on, everything that happens after just makes sense and you end up picking sides but also understanding where everyone is coming from.

The film is so ridiculously layered and there’s so much to unpack, but I wanted to highlight a few things in particular. Yes, this is a very culturally relevant and important, but like I may have mentioned before it doesn’t preach to you. It takes you on this journey and all of sudden you’re hit with things that all end up making sense and gives the film an organic feel. On that note, the “Marvel humor” that so many people complain about also isn’t there. Any jokes made are very dry and unforced to go along with these characters, think of T’challa’s “I don’t care” line in Civil War when he wasn’t really trying to be funny, but it just was. Coogler also did his thing with subtleties and having a reason for all the small details, which just made me so happy especially when it was supplemented by Ludwig Gorranson’s score and Kendrick Lamar’s original songs. Even after all of this…I still haven’t gotten to the best part.

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Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger is, without a doubt, my favorite part of this movie. It is always tough to capture a character who is fueled by anger because often times it can look/feel silly…but Killmonger brought a very real and relatable feeling to the table and was so fantastic on every level. This is a villain that makes the heroes look within themselves, and at his core philosophy…he isn’t wrong. He takes it too far, sure, but he just wants to help innocent people, and he’s so mad that the people with the resources to help aren’t doing anything. You’re going to have to watch the movie to understand, but the issues that Killmonger brings up affect Wakanda, the characters, and the Marvel universe going forward.

“Black Panther” is an excellent addition to cinematic history, and I’m giving it a 9.5/10; Wakanda Forever.

The Thing about Cinematic Universes..

Let’s ignore the fact that I disappeared for a few months because life is crazy and just go into a deep dive on Cinematic Universes. So I recently, like a few optimists out there, watched the movie known as “Justice League”. I also, like a majority of the population, saw “Thor Ragnarok”. Additionally, me and a few other nerds on r/marvelstudios spent weeks praying for a trailer for “Avengers: Infinity War” that was given to us last week and blew all of our minds…and just happened to break the record for most viewed movie trailer on Youtube.

I know that not writing reviews for either Thor or Justice League were very out of character for me (although not as out of character as Batman was…), so just to be really quick about it:

  • I loved “Thor: Ragnarok”. It was unexpected, the improv feel made me happy, I got to see more obscure comic book things I never thought I’d see on the big screen, sure it was pretty weightless on the universe when compared to the Ragnarok comic book but I’m fine if we goof off with Thor and Hulk before we get real for “Black Panther” and before the potential for a major shake-up in the next two Avengers movies. Lastly, Jeff Goldblum is a national treasure and I won’t accept anything less.
  • “Justice League”…I’m not mad, I’m just frustrated. There is a decent movie in here bogged down by unfortunate tragedy behind the scenes, bad production decisions separate from that, and absolutely horrible executive decisions. However, the more I think/talk about it, the more I actually do get mad because it finally became very obvious that whoever is making the decisions behind the DCCU doesn’t actually care about the characters and what they’ve done for people (there is an entire generation of us that grew up on the Justice League Animated Series). I’m sick of being an apologist about it, this thing was a mess and frankly I’d be okay if they cancelled the DCCU.

Between the overwhelming success of Marvel Studios (coming up on their 10th anniversary) juxtaposed with the potential $500k loss on “Justice League” for the DCCU, the laughably bad attempt at a “Dark Universe” by Universal, Sony literally making a deal with Disney so that Spider-Man can be better, and the upcoming X-Force from Fox that spawned from the success of “Deadpool”…It’s becoming obvious that studios are struggling and scrambling to achieve what Marvel Studios has. In this post I’ll attempt to limit being an MCU fanboy/gushing over my idol Kevin Feige to try and pinpoint why studios that are trying this “Universe” thing are failing.

(P.S: Vanity Fair published this article for the MCU’s 10 year celebration, I’ll be referring to it quite a bit.)

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Making a Franchise Before Making a Good Movie

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Take a good look at that picture. That was a promotional image released by Universal for their “Dark Universe”. Objectively it looks cool, especially the inclusion of A-list celebrities, so what’s the issue? This thing was circulating the internet BEFORE the first film in the franchise, “The Mummy”, was even released. Universal jumped the gun to announce and plan this multi-billion dollar list of movies…and the box office revenue/critical reception to the first film speaks for itself. Here we are now with rumors of the thing possibly being cancelled due to top members of the production teams wanting out.

It was pretty gutsy of them to go for the power move, but now it just looks silly. Its even more embarrassing than that scene in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” where Harry literally walks down the aisle of Sony’s slated “Sinister Six” movie that we now know never happened and never will.

It’s great that you want to be ambitious and bold, even Feige took a huge risk with the initial phases of the MCU. Still, we come back to the fact that that first Iron-Man movie was absolutely amazing and is still the gold-standard for superhero origin movies, not to mention that the Avenger initiative wasn’t brought up once in the movie until the credits rolled. In some of these other franchises…the first movie wasn’t exactly great (“Man of Steel”, “The Mummy”, “The Amazing Spider-Man”) and felt the need to rub their non-existent franchise in your face. It was a “start smaller and build” strategy for Marvel, versus a “We have a Franchise coming up, the first movie will be out in a year” strategy for the others, and that is a HUGE difference when it comes to building fans as well.

Overreacting and Overcorrecting

If you’ve been paying attention, you might remember that a very common theme in production for the DCCU movies included extensive re-shoots and even re-writes. Justice League had to go through so many changes that they had to use CGI to remove Superman’s mustache that actor Henry Cavill needed for another role. The “Suicide Squad” script was heavily revised after the accidental enormous success of Fox’s “Deadpool”, and a ton of movies were announced and had casting rumors after response to “Batman vs Superman” and “Suicide Squad”, notably an Affleck directed Batman movie and a possible Gotham City Sirens movie starring Margot Robbie. At some point, it felt like DC was making it up as they went along and that isn’t on accident.

By changing their scripts, movies, and production plans on a whim, Warner Bros. showed us that this giant narrative they’re trying to accomplish wasn’t being given much thought. Rather, they were being extremely reactionary to the criticism and little praise their movies got. Now obviously things change for studios and it is good to cut what isn’t working and what is, but it’s like they would open up Facebook the day after their movie showed, compile every stupid comment they could find, and make huge executive decisions off of those.

For example: Suicide Squad’s reception was bad > but people liked Margot as Harley Quinn > Let’s announce “Gotham City Sirens” > What about all the issues about this movie? > They wont care once we announce “Gotham City Sirens”, we’ll seem progressive and it’ll be fine.

Similarly, think about the X-Men movies and “Days of Future Past”. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a damn good comic movie, but it arguably did seem like a response to the frustration behind “The Last Stand” and the success of “First Class”. If that doesn’t seem odd to anyone, think about “Apocalypse” (yikes) and the hinting of a very obvious intention to re-start the Phoenix Saga in a future movie…even though it would make more sense to do something new rather than to keep fixing Brett Ratner’s screw-up.

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Interfering with Creators

It’s such a shocker that the most successful movie DC had was the one where Warner Bros hired a good director and gave her a lot of creative freedom! That was sarcasm, that isn’t shocking it all. It also isn’t surprising that the less-than-successful MCU movies were the ones where Feige was least involved and Ike Perlmutter was still making huge decisions. I really don’t have to emphasize that the most successful comic-book movies had talented directors with creative freedom, that should be obvious. Yet somehow, bad decisions kept being made and in 2017 I got to see Batman suck in a movie for the first time since I watched “Batman Forever” (so many regrets).

Actually Caring

It warms my heart to read the Vanity Fair article and find out that Feige, like so many comic-fans/movie-nerds, is just an innocent fanboy with a desire to see his favorite characters represented properly on the big screen. That is the kind of person that should be in charge that rarely ever gets to be. What needs to be realized is that a lot of these characters that studios can “build a universe” around are all unique and can hold a lot of significance to a lot of people. Often times, people don’t even want to see a character in a live action movie because they’re scared it’ll be ridiculous (such is the case for me and Batman Beyond). So when executives view these characters as simple cash cows or good PR for their corporate image, it feels a little insulting to the fans. Again, this should be obvious, yet here we are.

Well that’s enough rambling about comic movies for now, see you soon for my review of *inhales*…THE LAST JEDI!!!!

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Homecoming

Stay until ALL the credits are over. You wont regret it!

[SPOILER FREE]

I’m just going to say it: Aunt May can babysit me any time.

Now that I got that out of the way, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”! Wow, I can’t believe we finally got here…the beloved web-slinger is finally in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his own movie. You all know my thoughts on past Spider-Man movies and on Tom Holland already from my previous few posts, so we can dive straight in to this review.

This was a very fun, light hearted, character focused, coming-of-age story for the character of Spider-Man. It was the type of movie that could get you to smile solely off of its charm and vibe. Admittedly I had to sleep on this one to really figure out where I stand, and I hope that my audience understands that I’m extra critical when it comes to characters like Spider-Man and Batman because of how much they’ve done for me (hell, if we EVER got a Batman-Beyond movie, that would probably be my biggest challenge as an aspiring critic). While I will NOT say this is a better movie than Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2”, I will say this is the best Spider-Man movie we’ve gotten in the 13 years since Raimi’s second one came out.

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Peter is actually a sophomore in high school throughout this entire movie, and its fantastic. My favorite parts about this movie were all the grounded moments between the characters that impact Peter’s life: Ned, Aunt May, Liz, Flash, and Michelle…they were all great and it really felt like “high school” to me. Peter has high school problems while trying to balance being Spider-Man, and wants to do MORE as Spider-Man so he can be over high school already, and I felt like that was a very important trait/arc that they gave his character. I’ve already mentioned that I love Holland, but this casting for the supporting characters was also fantastic. Holland’s chemistry with Jacob Batalon (Ned) was absolutely perfect, Zendaya did what she had to do well with her character of Michelle, I loved Laura Harrier as Liz, and yes…I even liked Tony Revolori as Flash. While some might see these moments as a drag in the first two acts, I thoroughly enjoyed them, as they helped establish a young Spider-Man with a bright future.

Like I mentioned, this was just a very fun movie, and despite how cliche the “MCU snark” is getting, I actually laughed a lot during this movie. It wasn’t even because Spider-Man himself was a funny character (he was, don’t worry) but it was because of the right type and amount of jokes they threw in there that were out of the ordinary and matched the setting. For example, Hannibal Buress plays a gym teacher that shows a video of Captain America talking to the kids about a fitness challenge, and he makes a side-comment saying “I’m pretty sure this guy is a war criminal but whatever I have to show this” and I lost it. Even that stupid moment of “SPIDEY, DO A FLIP!” had so much charm to it, and I like that they catered the humor to the character’s situations rather than just having people throw quip after quip at each other.

Let’s talk about Michael Keaton and his character of the Vulture…Wow. The early reviews were right, Keaton gives us one of the best MCU villains we’ve seen (not that hard to do, but still). I was a little worried because Adrian Toomes is a tough character to make impactful throughout an entire movie, but they actually made it work by making him one of the people affected by the Avenger’s shenanigans. It was a good decision because while Toomes and his operation started because of unfair treatment by the Government and the Avengers, it related to the smaller scale of New York and made sense why Spidey would deal with this instead of SHIELD or something…because we forget that when he’s doing his own thing, Spider-Man IS a street-level hero. We get a relatable hero and villain with depth, and we get a lot of insight in to their motives and what makes them tick.

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Because this is Spidey’s “Homecoming” (haaaa) to the MCU, there are MCU references everywhere. Hell, there are even Spider-Man comic references everywhere. This movie takes place a few months after Civil War and we get to see a little bit of an “aftermath”. Robert Downey Jr. is, as most of you know, in this movie..but not as much as you would think, thankfully. He has a presence as a mentor and that is it, there’s no epic showdown with villains vs Ironman and Spider-Man despite what the PR might make you believe. Despite this, Marvel Studios comes swinging with this movie to say “Hey. Guess what. We have Spider-Man now.”…which actually brings me to my cons with this movie.

While the “MCU-building” aspect is cool…at times this movie can feel more like a “Marvel movie” rather than a “Spider-Man movie”. We’re all familiar with the MCU setup movies that don’t stand alone very well, and Homecoming has slight hints of this. Spider-Man IS the Marvel Comics poster-boy, so I kind of assumed that this story would be more grounded in his reality than it already was. While the light-heartedness was great, the movie lacked a sense of intensity and subtlety when it would’ve been appropriate, and most of the events didn’t feel as consequential. This is where I veer off from what others are saying in me saying that I wanted MORE. There was one scene between Toomes and Peter without their super suits that has so much tension..but that was the most that movie went in that direction where I feel like it had more potential. Spider-Man is a great character and I feel like at some point, the decision was made to play it safe with certain parts of the story. To be honest, I’m having trouble explaining why I was so bothered at some points…but I wanted to get this review out as quickly as possible so I hope I’m making sense (edits will be marked).

Also, this isn’t really a point about the movie…more about the marketing…but DAMN, trailers really messed this one up. I can honestly say that the less of the trailers/PR you ate up will mean a better time for you when watching Homecoming.

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“Spider-Man: Homecoming” has its moments where it very much feels like a product of a cinematic universe, but more than makes up for it with moments of charm and the understanding of a different kind of hero. I’m giving Homecoming an 8.5/10.

 

Hype for Homecoming: What We’ve Seen from Tom Holland

Part 5 of 5: You have the right to remain silent!

So my first bit of exposure to Tom Holland was seeing him at the red carpet premier for “Captain America: Civil War” and I thought…wow…this guy is…straight up a kid. The dude LOOKS like he’s in high-school, he was 19 at the time.  As for his few minutes of screen-time in Civil War…he nailed it. It felt like the Peter/Spidey I remembered from “Spectacular Spider-Man” the TV show was real. I think Holland has potential to be the best Peter Parker AND Spider-Man to take the big screen.

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  • Right off the bat we see him as an awkward kid, meeting someone as iconic as Tony Stark. I always am a sucker for the little things, and what I love here is Peter eventually goes “Wait, so does this grant have like…money involved..?”. This kid is from a low-income family…and his 10 minutes of fame nails that. Not only is his suit kinda crappy when Tony finds it, but his web-shooters are really clunky too…suggesting he probably built it from dumpster parts like his other tech in his room.
  • I’m gonna just drop quotes at points because whoever wrote Peter’s dialogue understood the character SO WELL.
  • “When you can do the things I can, but you don’t…and THEN the bad things happen? They happen because of you.” Now THAT’S how you paraphrase the great power/great responsibility bit.
  • “I can’t go to Germany!…I’ve got homework!”
  • Again, small things..when Tony throws the web cartridge at Peter, he catches without looking…aka he’s already adjusting to his Spider-Sense (his most useful power, for those who don’t know).
  • So knowing that Peter is well done, now we get to the Airport Scene where SPIDEY is absolutely stellar as well. Amazing use of his wit, good fight choreography, the child-like enthusiasm…its all so perfect.
  • “You have a metal arm? That’s awesome dude!”
  • It’s all just so perfect. His lines, his reactions to everything, the subtlety of the spider-sense…even the “young-blood” attitude that Spidey would have at this point is accounted for.

Well, thank you all for sticking with me through this Homecoming series, and I hope that you (much like I am) are very HYPED FOR HOMECOMING!! My review will be up on Friday, July 7th!

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Hype for Homecoming: Spider-man 2

Part 2 of 5: “The power of the sun…in the palm of my hands.”

[WARNING: Posts of this nature aren’t traditional “reviews”. Expect the following: spoilers, potentially mindless ramblings, lack of proper sentence structure, and profane language. There is a summary section at the end of the bullet points that you can skip to for convenience.]

“Spider-Man 2” is the second movie in Sam Raimi’s spider-man trilogy and stars the same cast from last time, with the addition of Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius. This movie always held a special place in my heart because its opening day was near my 10th birthday, and OBVIOUSLY I had a spider-man themed party that ended up being the best birthday of my childhood…mostly because of the movie. Out of all the movies in the “Hype for Homecoming” series, this is the one I’m most looking forward to because I always remembered this and “X2” being the first comic book movies where everyone went “whoa…wait…these things can actually be as compelling as real films?”. Needless to say, time to re-watch “Spider-Man 2”!

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JK Simmons, you’re a gift to all mankind.
  • Jeez, right away we get insight into where our main character is at and WAIT WTF, THERE’S A DR. CURT CONNORS IN THIS? AKA THE LIZARD? YEAH, ITS TOTALLY HIM WITH THE MISSING ARM AND ALL! Wow, thanks for the comic fanservice, Sam Raimi!
  • Okay, I remember right off the bat why this movie cuts so deep….Peter’s life is TOTAL SHIT right now. He’s broke, his Aunt is in a bad situation and he can’t help, he’s failing classes, he’s losing MJ, Harry still has a grudge against Spider-man, etc. Peter Parker is the average millennial, AM I RIGHT GUYS?? Hahahahaahahahahahelpmehahahahah.
  • In all seriousness, Tobey McGuire really proves here that he’s the perfect old-school Peter Parker. What’s important here is we start to see Peter doubting if his powers are a gift or a curse, and Tobey portrays that really well through certain acting choices. The scene where his webs go out for the first time would be a good example of this…but also go watch the elevator scene right after hahahaha.
  • Its so refreshing when actors can play characters with dualities in their lives…Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius AND (later) Doc Ock is just so spectacular. Anyway, of course the experiment goes horribly wrong cuz the movie has to happen, but what’s interesting here is that we get to see both Otto AND Harry immediately lose everything (with some cheesy dialogue from James Franco to fill us in) and while Harry’s fall from grace is going to be a lot slower, Otto’s…well…
  • This hospital scene with just Ock’s arms going murder-crazy on these doctors was so unique to what comic-book movies were for a whole decade…heck, it’s even boggling to watch it in 2017. Raimi picked the best possible way to demonstrate what this character is going through instead of making him a generic villain that Spidey has to overcome. Even with his villains, Raimi creates a character here that the audience is invested in, and makes it very clear that Otto is acting against his own will.
  • Jonah: What are we gonna call this guy?
    Editor:…Doctor Strange!
    Jonah: Wait, that’s good….but its taken
    LOLOLOLOL HOLY SHIT
  • Alright, its time for the bank scene! This sce- WAIT WTF IS THAT JOEL MCHALE?? THIS IS WHAT HE WAS DOING BEFORE “COMMUNITY”?? HOLY HELL JEFF WINGER IS IN A SPIDER-MAN MOVIE. I gotta watch 2000’s movies more often…
  • Okay seriously, bank scene. First major sequence between Doc Ock and Spidey and…well…its good. Idk what else to even say about this and the rest of the movie, my “english as a second language” ass is running out of adjectives and this movie is just really good lol. Seriously, go youtube this scene or something, its damn well directed action…..aaaand Peter’s life is shitty again, and now we get to the “I’m not Spider-man anymore” part of the movie
  • When I was younger, I thought all of this was useless but now I realize this is, once again, Raimi using his directing style to set this apart from other comic-book movies of its time. I DO think we could’ve had something other than a burning building be what motivates Peter to be Spiderman again but oh well.
  • So now we’re in the last act of the movie where Harry tells Otto to bring Spider-Man to him, Peter and MJ have more drama, We get the famed train scene (holy shit I love this movie), and Harry finds out that his biggest enemy is actually his best friend…GASP. I could keep prattling on, but then this post would get too long so I’m just going to skip to the summary and try to hit it all there.
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What I look like the night after drinking and a late-night Al Pastor Burrito.

Remember what I said about the previous movie in my last post? What “Spider-Man 2” did was improve on the stuff I liked and cut out a lot of the stuff I didn’t…that’s basically it. This movie takes time to develop its characters even more, in fact I genuinely think you could sit down with “Spider-Man 2” first without even watching the first one and not be lost because this movie takes its time to tell its character’s stories. Its the little moments that Raimi gives attention to that really works, and admittedly the overarching plot becomes a little simple because of it. But hey…like I’ve mentioned before, characters are the most important part of any film for me. With that being said, “Spider-Man 2” gets a 9/10.

Hope you enjoyed how simple and happy this was…because its aaallll downhill from here..tune in next time for…*sigh*…”Spider-Man 3″.

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Until they reboot and cast Andrew Garfield, that is. #RIP

Hype for Homecoming: Spider-man

Part 1 of 5: “Booooone-Saaaaw is reaadyyyy!!!”

Welcome to the first post of my “Hype for Homecoming” series! As of this going live, we are officially just 4 weeks away from the release of “Spider-man: Homecoming”, with Tom Holland reprising his role from “Captain America: Civil War” as everyone’s favorite web-slinger.

To give a background of what Spider-man means to me…well…I was a nerdy kid that got picked on relentlessly at school…so you tell me who I looked up to. Yes, I’ve said multiple times that I watched the DC animated universe quite a bit as a kid, but really if I had to point to my childhood hero, it’d be Spidey. There’s always a soft spot in my heart for the web-head and even though I’ve grown up and have other heroes now, it doesn’t change the fact that Spidey is the Marvel poster-boy and that the first Spider-man movies, directed by Sam Raimi, were some of the few to set the stage for Comic Book Movies to take Hollywood by storm. Granted, we had to sit through a bunch of other “imitators” that ended up creating the trope of comic book movies being atrocious for most of the 2000’s…but I’m glad we’re past that now and its nice to look back and see some of the pre-MCU/DCEU original “Universes” (hell, Fox has been doing it since 2000 with the X-men, even though they don’t have as solid of a slate and flow when it comes to universe-building). So, without further ado, here’s my notes on Spider-man (2002)!

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Slide into those DMs like…

[WARNING: Posts of this nature aren’t traditional “reviews”. Expect the following: spoilers, potentially mindless ramblings, lack of proper sentence structure, and profane language. There is a summary section at the end of the bullet points that you can skip to for convenience.]

  • Holy hell, NO ONE looks like they’re in high school…thankfully they actually casted teenagers in Homecoming, but JEEZ I forgot how odd this looks. Anyway, we’re introduced to Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and WAIT WTF, IS THAT JOHN MANGANIELLO PLAYING FLASH THOMPSON? LIKE, THE GUY PLAYING DEATHSTROKE IN AFFLECK’S BATMAN MOVIE? Sorry, got distracted. We get a scene with the Osborns aka Norman (Willem Dafoe) and Harry (James Franco) and already we see some tension here with Peter getting shit from kids at school (high schoolers are dicks, just saying) and Harry getting shit from his father, so it makes sense why the two are such good friends to our audiences who’ve never read a spiderman comic.
  • So now we’re in the museum because the class is on a field trip, and we get some juicy exposition on what spiders can do (and eventually what Peter will be able to do) and some nice little development between Peter, MJ, and Harry when OUCH, radioactive spider-bite!
  • Remember the cliches of sci-fi/superhero movies from the 2000’s? So Norman is testing a super-soldier serum (check) but his board and the military aren’t thrilled about the results so far (check), so he’s given an arbitrary deadline (check) for human testing but since he’s running out of time and funding, he’s going to test it on himself (checkarooni) and eventually become a threat to himself and others (Check, check, check). I will say that I love Willem Dafoe and his freaky looking face for the role of Norman/Green Goblin, and I think he demonstrates it well when Harry finds him passed out on the floor, just some subtle acting choices you notice here and there.
  • So Peter wakes up after being bitten and spends the entire day finding out he has weird ass spider powers…which I feel like should’ve been a bigger deal when he had a literal web coming out of his arm and punched the biggest guy in school after doing a back-flip…must be New York public school system, I guess?
  • Dear Lord I forgot how much time they actually spend on these characters and how awesome it is. This is really just a theme for the entire movie…same with the casting, its all so good.
  • Uncle Ben, I love you. This scene with Peter being a total dick to his Uncle caring about him…they get this SO RIGHT.
  • Ahahaah I could never forget that Macho Man Randy Savage is in thi-WAIT WTF IS THAT OCTAVIA SPENCER? LIKE…FROM HIDDEN FIGURES? DAMN…WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. Anyway,  as dumb as this scene is, its kinda cool to see Peter learn how to fight and gain some confidence against a professional wrestler, of all people.
  • This confidence turns into cockiness and Peter ignores his Uncle’s advice…and in turn, we get the first truly emotional scene in this movie with Uncle Ben’s death and Peter getting his petty revenge…and with this plus the graduation scene, In my opinion, the first act is over and now we get to Peter adjusting to his new life as Spider-Man. Also, side-note: This score by Danny Elfman…wow.
  • JK Simmons…its going to take me a long time to adjust to you being Commissioner Gordon…cuz this guy is ALWAYS going to be J. Jonah Jameson to me. This is PERFECT Casting in a movie that’s already casted so well. “No Job! Freelance!”…oh look, Peter Parker is a millenial like the rest of us hahahahahahasaveushahaha.
  • So now we get this sequence at the World Unity festival and it gets….a little corny. At the risk of sounding like a douche, this is definitely 2002 CGI…and wtf is this goblin-bomb that immediately turns the Oscorp Board into skeletons? But other than that its pretty satisfying to have our first real Spidey vs Goblin battle which ends with him saving MJ and winning the day. He even saves a kid, which is textbook Spider-man and I love it…its the little things with characters like Spidey.
  • Willem Dafoe’s scene where he talks to himself in the mirror just settles it, this guy would’ve been the best comic movie villain of the 2000’s if it wasn’t for Heath Ledger’s Joker. I’d honestly be okay if they never touched Green Goblin again…but of course they will.
  • I skipped a bunch so I don’t get redundant, but this end fight between Goblin and Spidey…holy shit Spidey gets his ASS KICKED. I actually like it, it always irked me when a Superhero suddenly had mastery of their powers within a few minutes of screen-time. This is such an emotionally driven fight and these actors are really conveying that..and by the end you actually feel kinda BAD for how Norman dies because there’s a small hint of him still left as soon as he gets stabbed by the glider (because he was faking before…I think) and I didn’t realize how GOOD of a set-up this was for Harry going crazy in the next two movies. Character development, y’all…its my favorite part of any movie.
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Okay, I laughed.

During this re-watch, I realized that this movie didn’t age as well with cinematography, but it more than makes up for it with story and characters. Despite it being a little cheesy, I do admire how much heart the direction and acting had to make the overall product something unique for its time. It feels surprisingly real, and I think that’s why this movie broke box office records in 2002. “Spider-man” is a fantastic origin story for an extremely lovable character, and leaves audiences moved, charmed, and wanting to see more..and they accomplished this without jerking themselves off and setting up a universe (hold on to that, seriously…because I promise you its going to come up again in this series). Tune in next week for the next part of the series, aka one of my favorite movies ever! As for this part, “Spider-man” gets a 8/10

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Movie Review

I’m Mary Poppins, Y’all!

[THERE WILL BE NO MAJOR PLOT DETAILS SPOILED IN THIS REVIEW, ONLY WHAT WAS ALREADY IN THE TRAILERS]

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is the sequel to 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the 15th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It features the infamous bunch of jackasses in a very different situation than the last time we saw them. After saving Xandar from Ronan the Accuser and establishing themselves as a rag-tag team for hire, we end up learning a lot about where each of our Guardians are coming from and what they’ve dealt with beforehand. Specifically, Star Lord gets to finally meet his father and discover more about himself and what makes him special (aside from the fact that he’s Chris Pratt).

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Since I saw this movie on the red carpet in the middle of April, I’ve been thinking about this one and seeing other reactions/reviews for a while now. If you have been seeing other reactions too you might be aware that things are kind of mixed, although generally positive. What I mean is that some are saying they liked it more than the first/didn’t enjoy it as much, thought it was forced/thought it was hilarious, etc.

As for where I stand, I personally enjoyed this one more than the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” because writer/director James Gunn appealed to my love of character study and made a very thematically consistent movie. I will say that I thought the first one was a little funnier, but that doesn’t mean the jokes didn’t land for me on this one. I genuinely loved this movie…so lets get in to details!

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This movie is ALL about its characters, as all of our Guardians get a bit of an arc and some depth with each other/their backgrounds. I would say Drax was a little underdeveloped, but he more than makes up for it by stealing the show whenever he’s on screen and interacting with another Guardian, specifically Star Lord. Seriously, Dave Bautista delivers even more than he did last time and I can see him walking away as the favorite for many moviegoers…just below Baby Groot, that is. Unfortunately, talking about the development with Star Lord and his Dad would be giving away a ton so I can’t say much about it. What honestly surprised me wasn’t even the father-son relationship, it was what we get between the sisters: Gamora and Nebula. Not only is Nebula more important in this and the two actually act like feuding sisters, but we get some juicy insight to their upbringing and we find out that Thanos is…well…kind of messed up. Sure, those familiar with Marvel before the MCU already knew that, but hearing about some specifics and not having Thanos appear in the movie at all really worked in terms of establishing him for later. It somewhat reminded me of the “Godzilla” thing where you hear/see the gruesome things he can do without actually seeing him in action until much later, which i’m not usually a fan of…but in this case it was a good little detail since this guy is supposed to be this “Mad Titan” and we’ve seen him do literally nothing but sit in a chair and pick up a glove.

Something that totally came out of a left field for me was how much time the movie spends on Yondu Udonta (the blue guy who whistles from the last movie…for those who forgot). Yondu is HUGE in this movie as a character, and surprisingly makes quite a fun pair with Rocket. Michael Rooker absolutely kills it as Yondu and it was very pleasant to see him on screen. The focus on him actually helps the audience understand some of our other characters better, and I hope making Yondu more important gets better reception from audiences than the whole “Hawkeye is suddenly a big deal” thing in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”.

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My other huge reason for liking this movie a lot was because you can tell exactly what vision Gunn had in mind while writing the script. I mentioned earlier that this is thematically very strong, and the theme that Gunn keeps throughout the movie is a simple, yet important, one: Family. As cliche as it sounds, the Guardians go from being “a bunch of Jackasses” to being a real family (insert Fate of the Furious joke here) by the end of the movie. Before the movie played at the red carpet premier, Gunn specifically mentioned that he made this for his parents and that he loves them, and that really showed throughout his work…and isn’t expressing something important to you the point of creating? The fact that he was able to make that come across so well in a comic book movie only helps fans like me justify that comic movies aren’t simply shallow, formulaic popcorn-flicks.

Despite how much I loved Gunn’s direction here, I do have some negatives. Pacing issues were a little prevalent in the first and second acts. The Sovereign (the gold people in the trailers you see) might be the most bland MCU-villainous-henchmen army I’ve seen..maybe even more one-dimensional than Ultron’s robot clones. I get that they’re going to be more important later, but some of my least favorite parts of the movie were when they were on screen. Additionally, subtlety isn’t really a strong suit in the script. If the last comic book movie you saw was “Logan”, it’ll definitely feel weird being hit over the head with subtext rather than figuring it out for yourself. The soundtrack is good, but isn’t as “iconic” as the previous movie for me (my friends still break out into “Hooked on a Feeling” on road-trips)…then again, I listen to drugged-up-RnB so I might not be the best person to ask on that one. This last one is a personal complaint (because he’s kinda my hero and we share the same birthday and same height) but Stallone is very sparingly used in the movie, do not go in expecting him to interact with any other protagonists/antagonists much. Still more screen time than Jared Leto’s Joker, though.

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Lastly, thought I’d rip this band-aid off quickly: Yes, there are 5 post-credit scenes. No, none of them have anything to do with Infinity War, Spiderman, Thor, Black Panther, etc. They’re all confined to things relating to the Guardians, and there’s no set-up for any future MCU titles except the likely “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″…and even the set-up for that isn’t too obvious. These are just fun things to see after the movie and nothing more (the one with Groot had me laughing uncontrollably, so stick around for that).

To wrap this up, I really enjoyed seeing the Guardians have a stronger foundation and some solid growth. Thinking about it long term, making them more “human” and solidifying their friendship will definitely be interesting once they meet the Avengers, who are super divided right now, next year to take on Thanos. Gunn has done it again for me, taking this incredibly obscure group of D-list superheroes that maybe 0.5 in 10 people knew about beforehand…and making them awesome, hilarious, and relatable.

I’m giving “Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2” an initial Soggz Blogs rating of 9/10.

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