Movie Review- Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the latest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It is co=produced by Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios and released by Sony Pictures.  It is the second reboot of the Spiderman franchise which started 16 years ago with Tobey McGuire.  It is a collaboration between Sony Pictures (which wns the movie rights to Spider-Man) and Marvel Studios (which is owned by Disney.)  It stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favereau, Robert Downey Jr and Marissa Tomei

The movie opens up with a salvage crew, rum by Adrian Tooms (Keaton) collecting alien tech in the aftermath of the the climatic events of The Avengers.  When they are forced to halt operations  by a government organisation called Damage Control, Toombs and his crew find themselves out of work and broke.  Using some of the tech that they previously acquired, they decide to keep collecting the tech and make money developing and selling weapons.

Fast forward eight(!) years and we meet Peter Parker, fresh from events in Captain America: Civil War.  Using the new suit from Tony Stark, he patrols Queens, New York, stopping low level crime while waiting for the call to join the Avengers.  Meanwhile, he has to deal with school, friends like Ned Leeds, classmates and his over-protective (and uncharacteristically attractive) Aunt May (Marissa Tomei).

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Spider-Man (Tom Holland) pulls it together.

In the usual Spidey fashion, things start to turns south.  Tooms gang has been selling advanced weapons to street gangs and criminals.  Once Spider-Man interferes with a buy, he gets noticed by Tooms , who has got a powerful flying jetpack which makes him look like a vulture (so, lets call him Vulture).  Spidey fights the Vulture and comes up short, prompting a warning from Tony Start to let the adult heroes handle it.  But he persists and ends up failing and losing Stark’s trust and the suit.  But the Vulture is still out there and Spider-Man has to try to stop him, using only his powers, his wits and his home-made suit.

Spider-Man was a nice surprise addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he appeared in the last Captain America movie.  Fans wanted to see the character in the proper movie universe, so the announcement of a partnership between Sony and Disney/Marvel Studios was met positively, though there was concerns.  People did not want another origin story and we already has a Spidey reboot in 2011.  I am sure some were surprised when it was announced that Tom Holland would take the role from Andrew Garfield.

But Holland fills the role nicely.  He is sufficiently geeky like Peter in the early comics but not as much as Tobey Maguire..  He is wiry and not too buff, but he looks the part.  His Spider-Man acts much like any 15 year-old with superpowers and an overly developed sense of responsibility would act.  He seems to have fun in the role and embodies the character nicely.

The rest of the cast is good too.  Peter’s friends at school, Ned, Liz and Michelle, act like movie school kids act and provide some lighter, down to earth scenes for Peter.  Flash Thompson is changed from a athletic sometime bully to a spoiled rich kid who looks down on Peter.  There is also the adults, with Happy Hogan acting like aa uninterested intermediary between Peter and Tony Stark, who is trying to encourage peter to be better than him.  Then, there is Marrisa Tomei’s Aunt May, which is the most attractive portrayal of Peters doting aunt EVER.  She acts as Peter’s grounding rod, reminding him to act like a normal teenager, blissfully unaware of his double life.  But the film does not hide the fact that she is attractive, with several characters, including Tony Stark, commenting on it.  But let’s be honest:  who wouldn’t stay for breakfast if she’d make you wheat cakes?

Sorry.  Old joke.

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Your Aunt’s hot, Peter. Keep her away from mad scientist with robotic tentacle arms.

But the standout character is The Vulture.  Keaton plays him as a blue collar person.  He works hard for his success and hates it when the rich and powerful steal opportunities from him.  His actions may not be relatable but his motives are:  it’s family.  That gives him a certain likability as a villain.

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Michael Keaton: From Batman to Birdman to Vulture

Overall, this was a good movie.  I am not a big fan of Spider-Man in his high-school days, but this was a good adaptation of it.  The filmmakers were smart enough to realize we did not need a origin rehash so soon after the last one.  The smaller scale of this adventure, as compared to the other MCU movies is good too.  It sets up this new version nicely and hopefully will lead to more movies in this franchise.  Just avoid anything like the dancing Peter from Spider-Man 3.

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Peter loves to eat Aunt May’s Wheat cakes

4/5

 

Subscription Box Review- Marvel Collectors Corps Spider-Man Box

I got an surprise email from the fine folks at Smuggler’s Bounty a few week back.  It said that, due to my loyalty and sticking with the sub for over a year, they were going to send me a box from one of the other Funko subscriptions for free.  My first thought was, “Yeah, I like free.” but them it turned to “Oh I hope is isn’t one of the DC boxes I already have.!”  But I lucked out and got one from their other superhero subscription box, the Marvel Collector’s Corp.  I received the Spider-Man box from last August (didn’t think they send me the latest box, anyways), which came last week.  Let us take a look at the contents.

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The mailer box is a brown box with the Marvel Collector Corps logo and the month’s theme clearly labelled on it.  You get a picture of Spider-Man’s mask on top in full colour.  The box is nicer than the DC Legion of Collector’s box in that regard.

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Opening the box, we see the patch and pin for the month.  No surprise the patch has Spidey’s face and the pin is of his spider symbol.  They both look nice and is what we have come to expect from Funko.

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Underneath that flap we get to the rest of the goodies.  First is this comic, a reprint of The Amazing Spider-Man (the latest run, cover dated October 2016, so released in July 16) and is the prologue of the Dead No More story line which they bring back…dead characters.  That happens a lot in Spider-Man books, in particular.  I still think it was cheap for them to bring back Aunt May all those years ago (let her and her wheat cakes rest in peace!)  If you don’t follow Spider-Man or haven’t check in in a while, you may be lost (yes, May married J. Jonah Jameson’s father so he and Pete are step-brothers and Peter’s is like Tony Stark rich) so good luck to you.

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Next is another of Funko’s Pop! Tops.  This grey and blue baseball cap features a Funko-ized Spider-Man logo.  It is adjustable so it should fit up to the most massive of heads.  The underneath of the visor even has a pattern of Marvel and Pop! logos on a red background.

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Next we get a Funko Frabrikations.  These dolls are done in the Pop style with the large heads and small bodies.  The head can rotate and the bottom of the feet are flat so they can stand up unassisted.  They are made pretty sturdy, too.  They are a bit large, so they would tower over your pops.

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Finally we get to the Pop!, which is. surprise surprise, of Spider-Man.  Forgoing the typical Pop! pose, Spidey is posed as he is jumping, ready to spin a web.  He has a clear stand that attacks to his back to keep in up.  He is also a bobble head.

There you have it.  I like all of the Funko boxes that I have got and the Marvel one is just as great.  I am trying to spend less lately, though I probably won’t be getting another sub ( I have a hard enough time letting one of my other subs go!).  But I would wholeheartedly recommend this subscription to Marvel and pop vinyl fans.

The next Marvel Collector Corp box will ship in February 2017.  The new theme will be Super Hero Showdown.  You can subscribe by going to https://www.collectorcorps.com/ .  The deadline is 15 Feb 17.  Subscribers can order any of the previous boxes, but supplies are limited.  I hope you enjoy this review.

Review: Deadpool

 

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They say Hollywood doesn’t listen to the fans. When the big studios decide to take a beloved franchise and turn it to a movie, they sometimes take secondary characters and mess them up. The fans might cry out because this character has a fairly large following and ask for a movie for that character to fix the issues. Most of the time they studios ignore it. But if there is enough support from an actor with a bit of star power and the studio, already making money off the franchise and character rights, says what the hell, you get a movie like Deadpool.

Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds at the titular (anti)hero, a role he (sort of) played in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It is considered part of the X-Men film franchise The movie is directed by Tim Miller, which is his first movie as director. The film had been in development since 2004, with Reynolds being attached to star since 2009. It is rated R in the United States and 18A in Ontario, Canada as there is strong language, excessive violence and nudity.

The movie follows Wade Wilson, a down-on-his-luck mercenary getting by on small time contracts. The film references that he was part of a special forces team but doesn’t directly reference Team X (or fit in the X-Men Origin: Wolverine timeline.) His life turns around when he meets Vanessa Carlysle (Morena Baccarin) an escort who is a messed up as he is. They end up living together for a year before Wade becomes sick. They discover that he has terminal cancer and not long to live. Then it gets worse.

Wade is approached by a recruiter to join a special program that would not only cure his cancer, but give him super human abilities. He leaves Vanessa in the middle of the night, promising himself to return when cured. However, the organization he joined intended to turn him into a mindless super slave to be auctioned off. Wade was injected with a serum to activate dormant mutant genes than tortured by the head scientist, Ajax/Francis (Ed Skrien) and his assistant, Angel Dust (Gina Carino). After a week of torture, his powers manifested (super-healing) but at the expense of his looks and his sanity. He broke out and set fire to the lab but was beaten and left to die by Ajax. But he survived the fire and escaped back to the city.

Deformed and deranged Wade couldn’t bring himself to go back to Vanessa. Hoping that Francis would be able to undo the disfigurement, he embarked on a one man war against his organization. With the help of his friend Weasel and roommate, Blind Al, he starts taking apart Francis’ operation, but his methods have attracted the attention of the X-men, in the form of Colossus and Teenage Negasonic Warhead(?)

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Teenage Negasonic Warhead. No, I’ve never heard of her either.

Deadpool is a hyper-violent movie that doesn’t take itself seriously. Like in the comic books, where he sometimes talk directly to the readers, the Deadpool in the movies sometimes talks directly to the audience, often confusing the characters around him, While the events of the first solo Wolverine movies are not directly referenced (and are, in fact, ignored), there are a few references to it, such as an action figure of that Deadpool and a line about sewing his mouth shut. They also take a shot at Ryan Reynolds’ other superhero movie by having Wade ask that his costume, “not be green. Or animated.” The inclusion of two X-Men help to create the shared universe, with Colossus and Negasonic being used to add humor mostly. There is even a scene (filmed outside Hatley Castle in Victoria, BC) where Deadpool remarks that there are only two X-Men because “Fox cut our budget.”

Deadpool and X-Men fans with love this movie as it get the character right after previously messing him up. Fans who only know the x-Men from the movies might not like the less than serious approach, but in this day and age of overly serious superhero movies, it is nice there is one that can gladly take the piss out of itself and reveal in the absurdity.

Review: Fantastic Four (2015)

Screen-Shot-2015-08-07-at-3_26_36-AM.pngI have always thought that the Fantastic Four comic would be the worst comic to adapt into a live action movie. The whole set up was hokey even in the 1960’s: A brilliant scientist, his best friend, the scientist’s love interest and her younger brother launch in to space to observe a rare cosmic phenomena only to be bombarded with cosmic rays and gain unique super powers. They would then form a team (because why not?) to defend the Earth from threats terrestrial, sub-terrestrial, extra-dimensional and from out of this world. And their names ranged from classic (The Human Torch was based on a older character) to simple (Invisible Girl/Woman and Thing are pretty spot on) to downright arrogant (Who calls themselves Mr. Fantastic? He must be a monster between the sheets or Sue would’ve took him down a peg.) Despite this, they are an important part of Marvel’s history so naturally they would try to make a movie . They have done so: One was never released and only exists in bootleg copies and another had faults, but did well enough to spawn a sequel, which did its best considering the main threat was a purple-helmeted planet eating giant, at least in the comics but a Galactus-shaped cloud in the movie. But, in order to withhold the movie right from Marvel’s parent company, Disney, 20th Century Fox release a new Fantastic Four, directed by Josh Trank. Would this finally get this storied comic book franchise right.

Short answer, no. Long answer, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

The movie follows Reed Richards and Ben Grim in, what I guess, was their senior year in high school (while the actors look way past their teens) So, the set up is similar to the Ultimate Universe version (if you don’t know what that is, don’t worry. Marvel crapped that away years ago.) Reed’s science project, a interdimensional gate (how is he still in a public school if he is building interdimensional rifts?) gets the notice of Dr Franklin Storm, a scientist who runs an organization that is trying to build a similar device. Reed meets Dr. Storm’s son, Johnny, his adopted daughter Susan and a certain Victor Von Doom, who was working on the institute’s version of the portal. . When the government threaten to take over the project, Reed calls Ben and, along with Victor and Johnny, travel to the place they call Planet Zero. While there, the planet erupts violently, seemingly killing Doom and bombing the other s with radiation. Susan, is in the control room when they teleport back, getting caught in the explosion that follows and getting doused in the same “cosmic rays.” Of course they each develop powers, Reed can stretch, Johnny can emit flames and fly, Sue can turn invisible and has telekinesis and Ben is a super strong rock guy with no genitals. Some are thrilled, some are not (you’d be too if you were rendered a eunuch) and the government wants to you them to rebuild the portal and go back. But someone is waiting for them.

I had a hard time watching this movie. The acting is bad. Not horrible, but you never start to like any of them.. Kate Mara is the worse, with her dead-eye performance making me yearn for Jessica Alba in the role ( and Jessica had more charisma). The rest, well I didn’t feel it. The making them teens make sense, not casting actors in their thirties to plan them was not. Well, most were late twenties but they did not look the part. And, what they did to poor Ben! Was giving him CGI shorts too much for their budget? Or go the Watchman route and have Ben hang out in all his rocky glory? With a name like the Thing, there has always been jokes and speculation about the Thing’s…thing, but to castrate him like this is horrible.

My biggest gripe, however is that they failed to get Doctor Doom right. No movie so far has given us an authentic Doom (Rise of the Silver Surfer came closest, but still fell short.) A little Fantastic Four 101: Doom was not around for the space mission that gave the team their powers. He had no power, save those for his technology (he a bit of a mad scientist) and magic (he’s a double threat!). He was as smart as Reed, but his ego usually gets the better of them (and this against a guy who calls himself “Mister Fantastic!”) His connection to the team was that he knew reed in College and he blames him for an accident that gave him a scar! Surely with that origin, some screen writer could give us a Doom that is a plausible threat, one that would rival Darth Vader in sheer bad assness (and the scene in Empire Strikes Back, where the heroes meet Darth in a banquet hall? Doctor Doom did it first.)

This movie fails as a super hero movie., It fails as a science fiction movie about four friends mutated by cosmic forces. I would not be surprised if Fox shoveled out this movie just to keep the rights to the franchise   While they’ve been doing good with the X-Men franchise as of late, this new version of the FF does not work. They are still threatening a part 2, though fans are hoping they will reach a agreement with Marvel/Disney similar to the one reached with Sony over Spider-Man. They won’t. Fox can be dicks sometimes. Look how long it took the ’60s Batman TV series to be released on DVD. With Marvel disbanding the Fantastic Four in the comics and the movie director disowning the film, 2015 has been a lousy year foe Marvel’s oldest superhero team.  If you want to see the Fantastic Four done right, watch the Incredibles. Or if you have to have Johhny, Ben, Sue and Reed, watch some of the cartoons, preferably the “90 version, not the one with H.E.R.B.I.E  (Not the Love Bug, though they are now owned by the same company…) Even the movies with Chris Evens and Jessica Alba are better (they do have a charm to them,). Don’t watch this one, you will just be sad.

 

1/5

Movie Review- Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Three years ago, Marvel proved that the movie audience bought into shared universe that they have been building since Iron Man.  Avengers brought an arrogant tech genius in armour, a raging green giant, a World War 2 super soldier, a Norse God, a sexy secret agent and… a guy with a bow and made them into a super team and it worked.  Now with the competition scrambling to match that success, they gather the team together again for Avengers: Age of Ultron.

When the Avengers take out a Hydra base in Eastern Europe, they encounter two super powered siblings, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, who were experimented on and given powers (speed and telekinesis/telepathy, respectively).  When Iron Man is shown his greatest fear, he goes ahead with a plan to create an artificial intelligence using Asgardian tech.  Called Ultron, the AI gained sentience and decided that the best way to protect humanity is to force then to evolve.  With the help of the twins, Ultron attacks the Avengers, using Wanda’s power to tear them apart..  But even the twins are unaware to Ultron’s ultimate goal of the extinction of the human race.

The movie is pretty action-packed, with the opening scene being the battle with Hydra.  Joss Whedon handles the multiple characters well, with most of the development being centered on Hawkeye, Black Widow and Banner.  Wanda and Pietro are good additions to the MCU and helps to expand the scope.  There are even parts that fit in with the current season of Agents of SHIELD (though watching that series is not necessary to understanding the movie.)

As someone who is familiar with the comics, it is interesting to see how certain aspects are adapted for the screen.  For instance, in the Avengers comics, Ultron is a robot build by Hank Pym, who sometimes is the superhero Ant-Man (also Giant Man and Yellowjacket, but that’s getting off track.)  In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hank Pym is not in the Avengers (though he will be in the Ant-Man movie, though older and not the title hero) so they put Tony Stark and Bruce Banner in the role as Ultron’s creator.  The twin’s origins are altered too.  In the comics (at least until recently), Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch were mutants, children of Magneto of the X-Men.  Obviously, with movie rights to X-Men held by Fox (which is why Quicksilver as also in Days of Future Past), they changed their origin to the Hydra experiments (which hints from Agents of SHIELD indicating that they might be Inhumans).  As comic book canon can be confusing and cross into several properties, some change is necessary, but as long as the characters are true to  their core concepts, it is acceptable.

Overall, this movie is a solid win for Marvel/Disney.  It is good that more time is given to fleshing out Hawkeye’s character as he hasn’t been given as much screen time as Black Widow has in the Phase 2 movies.  Widow doesn’t get forgotten though.  There as been some online backlash at a perceived mistreatment of here character.  I did not see it as she held her own against the Ultron robots, who were strong enough to give Thor trouble and it is not like she just sat there when she was captured.  My one gripe is that they did not use War Machine and Falcon more (they make appearances).  It will be interesting to see where the s.eries goes as we build up to the Infinity War

My rating:  4.5/5  The new standard in superhero team-up movies