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!!!!

Hype for Homecoming: The Amazing Spider-Man

Part 4 of 5: #DonaldGloverForSpiderMan ?

I’m actually saving “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” for another time because that one deserves to go under the segment “What Were They Thinking?”. Next week I’ll give a quick run-down for Tom Holland’s spidey from “Captain America: Civil War” before I review Homecoming, and that will be part 5 of this series!

[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.]

Well…we’ve reached that point…I’m going to regret doing this, aren’t I?

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is a result of a hypothetical “Spider-Man 4” being cancelled in 2010 (3 years after “Spider-Man 3”) and Sony/Columbia deciding to reboot the entire franchise and give it a fresh face. Obviously as a senior in high-school in 2012, I was hyped for this, especially since the PR behind the movie gave fans such awesome promises…that the movie itself failed to deliver on. Hell, Marc Webb is the director and I love “500 Days of Summer”…but I just don’t know what happened here.

What we were led to believe:

  1. Since Tobey was the “old-style” Peter Parker, we’re gonna do the modern one now!
  2. Spider-Man will tell more jokes, Tobey wasn’t funny enough!
  3.  He’ll have web-shooters! We’re gonna be more faithful to the comics!
  4. We’re going for a more somber tone, you’ll really feel the character’s internal struggle! #EDGY
  5. The U N T O L D StOrY and OrIgIN of Peter’s P A R EN T S!! OoOoOH S P O O P Y!

What we got:

  1. Andrew Garfield stuttering like he’s perpetually coming down from a bad trip.
  2. Spidey is funny/annoying ONCE. The one scene they used in the trailer to get you to the movie. Nice.
  3. Web-shooters, sure…but wtf is this costume. Who in their…I mean…what?
  4. They watched “The Dark Knight” and decided to make their superhero 3Edgy5me. They swung, missed, and ended up with that feels like an indie-rock music video with a creepy romance reminiscent of “Twilight”…don’t ask why I know what the romance in “Twilight” is like.
  5. Set-ups galore to get you to watch the eventual sequels in this new Universe they’re creating, because fuck what Marvel Studios/Disney is doing with the Avengers, We’re Sony and we deserve more money for less effort because we can milk Spider-Man like a cash cow.

If you hate me now…we’re just getting started. Time to re-watch the movie:
*one movie re-watch later*
….I have no words. That’s a lie, I do. Lets go into details. Buckle up, friends..this is a long one.

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  • Okay, so his Dad made the super spider? And now they’re leaving him with Uncle Ben and Aunt May…okay.
  • What the hell is “Peter” doing? Peter would not be skating through the halls and disrespecting his teachers…he’s supposed to be a well-raised kid that’s good at one thing at this point in his life: SCHOOL. Also WHY IS TAKING STALKER PICS OF GWEN RIGHT AWAY WTF. That’s not “cute” in ANY way unless you’re into creepy stalker guys like Vampires or oh…oh…wait…
  • This is a problem throughout with this movie but what…the…uh…what’s the tone here? This movie doesn’t have one. It feels like the indie rock video one second, its too brutal the next, its too light right after, then it gets serious again…and it doesn’t do this seamlessly at all. Like yeah, sure, light movies are allowed to get intense provided they earn it…this is about 10 minutes in.
  • So because of a briefcase that Peter apparently NEVER found before, we find out that Richard Parker was working with Dr. Curt Connors on cross species genetics. Then we get the most lazy dialogue of exposition to introduce us to Curt Connors..delivered so badly. This is basically like if every time I met someone for the first time, I told them my hopes/dreams/current life situation all at once and sounded really bored. Also, Peter is still kinda a dick so far…
  • Well we find out that No-WAIT WTF IS THAT IRRFAN KHAN? Oh wait, yeah I remember now! He’s in this movie!…Bollywood actor, for those who don’t know..also, Norman Osborn is dying apparently and that’s all Khan is good for…letting Connors know that. Cool.
  • Okay so Peter gets the spider bite and takes the subway back home. Remember the really charming way Tobey’s Peter discovered his powers? Yeah, fighting Flash in the hall’s might’ve been over the top but it could still be brushed aside (especially in a 2002 movie) as “huh, parker was weird today!” Garfield’s Peter Parker? Straight up ACCIDENTALLY ASSAULTS PEOPLE ON THE SUBWAY. Even if the Spider-sense told Peter someone was about to punch him, he could STILL CHOOSE NOT TO PUNCH THEM. Not this bullshit where someone hits him and he does a fucking backflip kick and goes “OOH SORRY, IM ANDREW GARFIELD AND IM CUTE HEHEHE”. …HHNNNNNNGGGGGGG. Even all the stuff he does back home with Aunt May and Uncle Ben….NONE of this is subtle at all.
  • This scene where Peter confronts Connors and talks to him about his equation and all is…actually kinda nice. Reminds me of “Spectacular Spider-Man” and you finally get some investment in the Characters…makes us think this “Untold Story” nonsense will finally go somewhere….spoiler, its not.
  • Again, Peter is a dick and is out of character. Remember when Tobey’s Peter said “I don’t wanna fight you Flash” but defended himself? Well Garfield’s Peter just straight up decides to humiliate him in front of everyone. Yeah, it makes sense when Uncle Ben scolds him for it 10 seconds later, but even then…they did that in the 2002 one and it still worked. So, Peter still a dick.
  • …I’d like to think I’m a master at being “awkward” at this point. Its not a life I chose, its something that I got and have to work with. Yes, I can confirm that some girls find it “charming” (ON OCCASION…confidence is much better, people) because its cute when someone stumbles a little. I get that. Yknow what I don’t get? NOT BEING ABLE TO FORM A FUCKING SENTENCE AT ALL AND STUTTERING YOUR WAY THROUGH A DATE WITH GWEN. FORCED. PHONY. BAMBOOZLE. FUCK THIS NOISE, PETER IS A DICK.
  • You know what sucks here? Emma Stone is great casting for Gwen Stacy….if they gave Gwen a character. At all. At this point, the only thing we know about her is she’s smart, cute, and has a crush on Peter. MARY JANE had more development than this.
  • They tried to go for a Footloose-esque scene…still looks like a Linkin Park music video. Not the good kind.

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  • OOOOKAY, remember how they tried to hype up “untold story” and “different from the previous one”?? Well the way Uncle Ben dies is pretty much the same shit, except in the last one Peter was a dick for 10 minutes…this one he’s STILL a dick. Also what the hell is Garfield’s acting right now? Seriously, go watch this scene again.
  • Did…did Peter steal the web cartridges from OsCorp?….Peter is a dick.
  • Okay so here’s that ONE scene of him vs the car robber that they put in the trailer to show you that “Spider-Man is quippy again”. One…how did he get in the car to wait for the robber. Two…yeah, this is pretty much it. Its a fun scene, don’t get me wrong, but don’t expect anymore…yknow, cuz this movie’s tone is more undecided than an American voter in a swing-state.
  • Back to this “parents” nonsense…so we get the implication that Richard decided to be ethical and Curt sold out…so THAT’S the “untold story”. Wow. Sorpresa. So despite all these attempts to make it different, Connors is now out of time and funding so he’s testing his stupid formula on himself and is going to turn into a monster with symptoms of schizophrenia…JUST LIKE NORMAN IN SPIDER-MAN 1. And on a side-note, holy shit this is ANOTHER huge science no-no that would never happen. He DID tests with Peter and on mice and knows the formula is a coin-flip…but yeah, whatever, movies.
  • Did Gwen just invite a random boy she likes to dinner at her house with her family…wow…must be nice to have white parents.
  • Just wanted to point out that we’re 75 minutes in to this movie and Peter is STILL learning lessons via lectures from adults.
  • So this scene on the bridge where he rescues the kid…this is the first time in this movie that it genuinely feels like Spider-Man. They nailed this character here…too bad they mess it up right away because Peter does some shit in school on the football field again and at this point, ANYONE with a brain would know he’s spider-man.
  • Okay to talk about the Lizard…this is a horrible villain. Look, Lizard is basically just Curt turning himself into a monster who doesn’t know anything cept food like an animal…but they turn him into a mad scientist reptile that wants to…get this…TURN NEW YORK CITY IN TO LIZARD CREATURES. The motive, the plan, the design…everything about this villain is SO DUMB. Where was Curt’s son and wife in this movie? Did they not think it was important for him to have a purpose?
  • So after the sewer scene we FINALLY get some insight into Gwen’s character where she worries about Peter cuz she’s lived the life of a cop’s daughter. Honestly, nice moment. I’ll give them that. Same with this school sequence. Movie has some things worth watching, I’m not made of stone.
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Tumblr swoons while I smash my head into my desk.
  • So is this a good time to mention that the writers don’t know how the Spider-Sense works at all? Demonstrated by Spidey being hit by this tranq or bullet? I was going to write out a whole thing but honestly the word count is high and I’m ready to wrap this up, but point is its wrong.
  • Okay so the Finale in Spider-Man (2002) vs this…I have little to no investment at this point. I’m obligated to care about Spidey, I don’t care about the Lizard at all, the “Crane-Ex-Machina” stuff is total bullshit. You know who the movie DID make me care about? Captain Stacy. That’s not a good thing, I care about him at this point more than others cuz he was actually a fleshed-out character…relatively speaking, of course.
  • So here, the movie has me hooked as a possibility of landing very well. Captain Stacy dies, makes Peter promise to leave Gwen out of it, Peter brings home eggs for Aunt May after the fight with Lizard (wonderful little moment), Peter misses the funeral, breaks up with Gwen as requested by her dying father…and here I’m thinking “wow…they’re actually taking a risk and I might be willing to forgive stuff in this one if they kill it from here on out in the next movies”. At this point…I would’ve rated this at a 6, maybe 6.5….but then this ONE line…is all it takes to piss me right the fuck off.
    “Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Mr. Parker”
    *Whispers seductively into Gwen’s ear as she smiles*
    “But those are the best kind…”…NEPHEW. DELETE THIS. WHY DID NO ONE…BRUH..ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
    No seriously, that’s where I draw the line. This shit is what makes me group this movie with the Twilight/Hunger Games “tween love” sub-genre. Clearly, they wanted to cater to an audience and in turn they forgot to make a movie that made sense and had likable characters. That’s what sucks about this movie, it very much FEELS like a reboot and a universe, there’s even a set-up scene at the end. I still cant believe that there are people out there that think this one was better than Raimi’s in 2002..even I remember defending this movie beforehand and upon re-watch…my God. At the risk of maybe being too hard, “The Amazing Spider-Man” is a 5/10. 

 

 

 

Hype for Homecoming: Spider-Man 3

Part 3 of 5: Jazz hands and tears

[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.]

*Inhales*….”Spider-Man 3″…is…a movie that exists. I’m going to try to get through this keeping as much sanity as I can, but this movie essentially boils down to being way too scattered and it just ends up feeling like butter spread out over too much bread. Look, I don’t think this movie is one of the atrociously bad comic-book movies of the 2000’s. Even if you look at the other two that came out in 2007, its “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and “Ghost Rider”…yeah, those were way worse. What I DO think is that this is the first example of a comic-book movie having insane hype, but tries to do way too much and falls flat on its face…regardless of if these were decisions by Sony or some other external factor interfering with Raimi’s work, OR if it was just a huge goof by Raimi himself. I actually discussed this in a previous post you can find here where I name the phenomenon after THIS movie…and for good reason. In any case…*sigh* here we go.

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Oh sure, SPIDER-MAN’S ARCH-NEMESIS FROM THE COMICS, show up in the last 30 minutes of the movie! GENIUS.
  • Okay the first act of this movie actually feels like a Raimi Spider-Man movie, we establish where our characters are, there’s a few nice moments between them, we get a fight between Peter and Harry (as the new Green Goblin), and it actually feels like the movie has gracefully taken off…and then we get to the “Harry memory loss” subplot and you kinda start to think “well…what now?” TWO OTHER VILLAINS, A LIFETIME DRAMA, AND BAD DANCING, THATS WHAT!
  • The whole idea to put Sandman in this movie actually sums up how I feel about this movie. Its a weird mix of moments that worked, stuff that made no sense, and stuff that made me think that ANYONE in the writer’s room could’ve pointed out a way to do it better. EXAMPLE: Scene where Sandman is materializing and trying to grab his daughter’s locket? Works for me, good moment supplemented by the score. Making Sandman aka Flint Marko be the “real” Uncle Ben’s murderer? Makes no sense when you put that sub-plot to bed a LONG time ago…why go back to alter the turning point of the first movie? Scene where these scientists conduct the experiment anyway thinking “the change in the mass is just a bird that will fly away”?…a screenwriting intern could’ve spoken out against this. What. The. Fuck. EVEN I KNOW that is a GIANT no-no in any laboratory/test of ANY kind.
  • Why…DEAR GOD WHY…does Peter decide to kiss Gwen in front of MJ? Yes, it makes sense for him to get a little cocky, but what the hell were the writers thinking making Spidey SO OUT OF CHARACTER here? The entire MJ drama and eventual love-triangle with Harry just blows and seems so out of place, if you ask me that’s what brings this movie down the most. A lot of other things are forced too, but this made the LEAST amount of sense.
  • Let’s talk about the Symbiote. I don’t think including it in the movie was a bad call itself, but the way it was handled just seemed choppy. Probably due to the conflicting sub-plots and having to find a way to jam this piece of the puzzle in to a space that doesn’t exactly fit? I mean even if you just had Harry be the villain, yeah you could fit the Symbiote in…and the scenes with Black-suit Spider-Man are cool…but, again…too much, too scattered, blaahh.
  • In a series with such great casting…Topher Grace’s casting as Eddie Brock is just the fucking worst. The only reason I’m okay with a standalone Venom reboot is because I can forget about this version….unless Sony fucks the new one up too.
  • I just finished the part where Harry’s manipulation of Peter and MJ’s relationship is done and he tells Peter “I’m the other guy” (WHO THOUGHT THIS SUBPLOT WAS A GOOD IDEA??). Aside from Harry suddenly becoming Batman and vanishing in to thin air, I’m gonna just end this with a bullet each for what was cool and what pissed me off.
  • What I liked: The suit-less fight between Harry and Peter is really cool…and has some real tension. Would’ve been cooler if Peter didn’t decide to be emo and look like the lead singer of a punk band; Peter ripping off the symbiote in the church is a well-done scene; Spidey teaming up with Goblin Jr. to fight Sandman and Venom is dope, nice to see superheroes team up in the pre-avengers era.
  • What sucked: Jazz choreography…dear LORD this entire part at the Jazz club just didn’t need to happen. You mean to tell me there was NO OTHER WAY Peter could hurt MJ and realize what he’s become? Anyone?; Fucking BUTLER-EX-MACHINA finally telling Harry that his dad was a psycho that killed himself. How did the Butler even know what Harry was going through? Just because Norman died by his own glider doesn’t exactly prove much…I mean someone else could’ve still done that to him. Why wouldn’t the Butler have just told Harry that in the first place? These guys are rich as fuck, did NO ONE perform an autopsy to see exactly how he died? 2.5 movies worth of Harry growing to hate Peter is undone by ONE piece of exposition from his BUTLER??; Wait so now NO ONE killed Uncle Ben? I seriously don’t know why they did this, “random robber” is SO MUCH EASIER than this entire ordeal with Flint…ugh.
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ALL OF MY TEARS.

Look, I don’t HATE “Spider-Man 3”. Obviously, it has its problems that seemed really avoidable..like if someone told you there’s a brick wall in front of you, you clearly see it, but you bump in to it lightly anyway. When you actually figure out what’s going on (which takes multiple watches) and forgive the stupidity, you can at least enjoy the movie. Despite things that made less sense, AT LEAST characters still had motives and I understood why they were doing things..which is more than I’ll be able to say for the next two parts in my Spidey series. For a movie that at least tried to give us something, but gave us other things are unforgivable…I’m giving “Spider-Man 3” a 6/10. 

Alright, this concludes the reign of Tobey McGuire as Spider-Man…and no matter what happens with the character, I would like to just thank him for being MY Spider-Man..and he always will be. Come back next time because now we’re moving on to the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man and that’s…well…it’ll be fun for you, not for me.

 

 

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

What Hurts the Modern Comic Book Movie?

From the 70s-90s, DC reigned supreme on the silver screen with their Superman and Batman movies, which captivated audiences everywhere. Fast forward to the early 2000’s, and the world was blessed with two X-men and two Spiderman movies, showing everyone that comic book movies could be amazing summer blockbusters, be entertaining and well-done, and be a gold-mine for Hollywoo (that’s not a typo, watch Bojack Horseman). Unfortunately, we were then hit with a barrage of horrible comic book movies that never seemed to end: Ghostrider, Daredevil, Elektra, Fantastic 4, Green Lantern, etc. In 2008, we were all blown away by DC and Marvel as “The Dark Knight” gave us Oscar-Worthy performances, and “Ironman” took a B-list superhero and propelled him to greatness (we can excuse the small hiccup of Ironman 2). Now we are in 2016 with three major cinematic universes for comic book movies. Comic book sales have been bumped up by new and eater readers. Its safe to say that Comic Book movies are here to stay and have become a major part of our pop culture.

So what makes a comic book movie “bad” nowadays? I’m not talking about the dry argument of “they’re formulaic, they’re all the same, I don’t like them”. I truly believe that we’re past the absolutely atrocious films (excluding the 2016 “Fantastic 4″…oh my) that are so poorly written and done, so what mistakes are being made in the modern Comic Book Movie? In this piece, I’m going to hit a few points that I’ve noticed in my long history of watching these movies. [MILD SPOILER WARNING] for the movies I use as examples, even though anyone reading this has probably seen most of them or (at this point) shouldn’t care about getting them spoiled.

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Already accepting that I’m going to sound like a butthurt fanboy for the duration of this piece

1. “Spiderman 3 Syndrome”

Yes, this is a term I just made up, but I’m going to tell you why. Think back to “Spiderman 3” and where the first two movies left off. All the major events that have moved the plot forward have culminated into Harry Osborn being the villain. However, for some reason this movie decided not only to have Harry and Peter’s conflict happen, but to include the entire fiasco involving the venom symbiote, AND add in the subplot of Flint Marko being accused of Uncle Ben’s murder and turning into Sandman? It sounds a little ridiculous to put all of that into one movie, and it was! Especially when you throw in more MJ/Peter drama (which felt like the same fight that they’ve had for the past two movies), Gwen Stacy, and inappropriate jazz choreography. When it comes to the flow of the story, Spiderman 3 can be simply described as a trainwreck.

Other examples include:

Dark Knight Rises: They tried to have Bane, Catwoman and Talia be important and have Bruce Wayne suffer a broken back, heal a broken back, and return to Gotham to fight his nemesis, save the day and name a successor. Despite still being a well-done film, it ends up being the least compelling of the trilogy with parts of the movie that felt too slow and other parts that felt too rushed.

Suicide Squad: I didn’t speak about this too much in my Suicide Squad review, but dear lord what a sloppy movie. Upon rewatch, when they introduced Katana in about 30 seconds, I definitely had my hands in my face. She’s such a cool character that we’re probably not going to see again, and her presence didn’t really hurt or add to the movie. There’s just too much in this movie that the audience ends up disregarding. Side-note: When you spend literally 5 seconds on Slipknot’s exposition, we all know that he’s totally going to die within the next few scenes.

I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be more than one villain in a Comic Book movie. I’m even open to having more than one sub-plot that’s also taking place. But when a movie tries to rely on bringing multiple iconic characters and scenes to life in the same movie, often times the characters and their motivations become overshadowed by other poorly executed sub-plots. What was originally a selling point in the trailers becomes a weak point in the overall story structure. If you want to see a movie that did this right, “Captain America Civil War” made it work by focusing everything back to the central conflict.

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Lord have mercy on my soul

2. Set-Up Movies

Remember when Sony had claims to a Spider-Man Cinematic Universe? It felt like they were trying to give Disney and the Avengers a huge middle finger, and they announced a slew of Spider-Man movies, including a “Sinister Six” and “Venom”. One of the big reasons that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” just wasn’t a great movie was because they spent so much quality run time trying to establish a cinematic universe that they didn’€™t really accomplish anything big in the movie itself. When movies get so caught up in the big picture, we lose quality in the standalone film that we paid 10 dollars to go see, leaving the audience feeling somewhat empty and unfulfilled.

Other examples include:

Any movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that sets up an infinity stone or feels like a glorified advertisement for a new Avengers film. I’m looking at you, “Thor: The Dark World”.

Fant4stic: I’m not joking when I say that this movie is about 90% exposition that leads up to nothing notable and keeps acting like there are 4 sequels confirmed to follow it. It feels like you’re in stasis for a good 100 minutes only to be slapped in the face at the end.

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Apparently, we only start after 3 set-up movies

3. Crossing into the realm of obscurity

This is something I’ve only really noticed recently. Casual fans of comic books, think back to “Batman V Superman” and be honest with me. Did any of you fully understand what was going on during Bruce Wayne’s dream sequence when some guy in a portal started yelling something at Bruce about Lois Lane being the key? I’d be shocked if any of you did. It’s always nice when filmmakers throw in a nod or two to the comic books, but sometimes it just leaves the audience even more confused than they originally were.

Examples include:

Batman V Superman: The “knightmare” sequence was undoubtedly a cool and well done scene on the cinematographer’s end. However, If I leaned over to my Dad and whispered “Psst, this is a nod to the Injustice series. Also that’s Darkseid’s insignia and those are Parademons from Apokolips”,, his head might’ve exploded on the spot.

X-Men Apocalypse: I watched this one with a friend who’s seen the other X-men movies, but isn’t a comic book fan by any means, and he didn’t really know how to react to a few scenes. It’s great that you wanted to give us Caliban talking to Mystique and then Apocalypse, but to most of the audience, he’s just a guy that looks weird. Not only that, after the post-credits scene revealed that Nathaniel Essex was going to be a part of the big picture now, some guy in my theater yelled out “Does anyone get that?” and the rest of the theater erupted into laughter.

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Casuals be like: Darkseid confirmed! (no, seriously, who the hell is Darkseid?)

4. “3Edgy5Me” Syndrome

This is another phrase I tend to use that no one else does, but I can explain! I love Nolan’s Batman trilogy…but I also hate that other creators said “Holy tragic story, Batman! This is so successful, maybe we could do this with every superhero!” Unfortunately this led to an onslaught of superhero stories that are described as “Dark and Gritty”. Most of these were so ridiculous that I’ve reached a point where I laugh when I hear those two words because I just know that the movie is going to be bad to an extent. It is a given that the protagonist of a film faces struggle and adversity constantly. However, when an uplifting character is turned into a tragic character, it tends to be forced and poorly executed. Not everyone can be Batman or Daredevil, that’s why unique and different characters are created so that more audiences can relate! Being edgy just for the sake of being edgy is just dumb, the movie doesn’t need to be dark to be compelling.

Examples:

The Amazing Spider-Man: Did anyone find all of that “untold story” nonsense about his parents and finding subway tokens in his dad’s calculator to be memorable at all? Throw in his romance with Gwen being “so wrong but so right” or whatever they were going for. I swear when I was watching both these movies I got Deja Vu from the “Twilight” series (I promise we can make fun of the fact that I’ve seen more than one of those later). At the end, it felt like the only reason they killed Gwen Stacy off was to have something bad happen to throw Peter into a depression that eventually gets out of in about 5-10 minutes of run time.

Arrow: This obviously isn’t a movie, but ever since season 1 of the show, people kept commenting about the odd similarity to Batman. I had an open mind, but I just had to point out that in season 3 they LITERALLY tried to make him Batman. Almost everything that happened to the character in season 3 of the show was derivative of Batman. The two were about as different as “A New Hope” and “The Force Awakens”. It was just so odd, I watch Arrow because I want to watch Arrow. I don’t watch Arrow to get a poorly-done version of any given Batman vs Ra’s Al Ghul comic.

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So there’s my humble opinion on what common errors are made in the modern era of Comic Book Movies! As always, let me know what you think because I love discussion and help a nerd out by sharing!

That’s all for now,
Soggz out!