Spider-Man Homecoming: Iron Man Jr?

Spider-Man Homecoming  

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This will be a review that a lot of you disagree with, but ah well let’s get into it.

Recently I have been on somewhat of a Spider-Man kick and have been watching, playing and reading a lot of related things, in that effort I rewatched Homecoming again, having not seen it since I first watched it in cinemas, and it doesn’t really hold up.

The main pro I will say for this film is the twist, when Michael Keaton’s Adrian Tombs reveals that he knows Peter’s secret it is impactful and is genuinely surprising. I take my hat off to the MCU for being able to bury the lead to the point where I did not see it coming.

Also John Favreau’s Happy Hogan is a delight.

Now to get into all the reasons why I think this is a weak film, especially within the widely strong landscape of the MCU- justification incoming.

Firstly, the focus on Damage Control is odd, yes it is only a minor thing that was supposed to develop out into a TV series, that may or may not be happening now, but seeing it feature in the film felt oddly jarring to me.

 Moreover, this film being in the MCU doesn’t actually help it, though most wont want to admit it, because they want Spider-Man and the Avengers to be together, having this film be in the MCU keeps it from really having an identity of its own. By that I mean rather than have this film focus on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man being Spider-Man, the film instead decides to spend most of its time focusing on him and Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark as a sort of father son comedy duo. Now I can understand why they did this from a business side of things, but it makes this film feel like less of a Spider-Man film and almost side lines the character within his own film, this has gone on to create the Iron Man Jr argument with regards to the character of Spider-Man

Adding to this, the film feels overstuffed with characters, not only do you have Peter and his high school friends, and family you also now because it is in the MCU have to have cameos from Avengers and other in universe characters which leads to the film feeling bloated and again not like a Spider-Man film.

Finally, in perhaps my most divisive statement in this whole review, I don’t like Tom Holland as Peter Parker, I understand this is a younger version of the character, but he feels too much like a goodie, goodie boy scout character, with the grit and tragic darkness that make up the character in the comics being gone. This blends into the MCU’s wider issue of favouring humour over everything else, and it feels like a watering down of the character. Garfield and McGuire were both better in the role.

Pros.

Happy Hogan

The twist

Cons.

Iron Man Jr

Too many characters

Tom Holland    

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Falcon And The Winter Soldier: One World, One People

Falcon And The Winter Soldier Episode Six: One World One People

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Sadly, this review is not positive. With the way the series had gone I was expecting this episode to bring everything together and to make the series better, despite its faults, but really all this episode did was point out how bad the faults of this series are, and the bad finally outweighed the good.

So firstly the positive, I enjoyed the endings that most of the characters were given, they were suitably poignant and impactful, I particularly liked the final scene we see of Carl Lumley’s Isaiah Bradley; it brought a tear to my eye. Likewise I thought Sebastian Stan’s Bucky and Wyatt Russel’s US Agent both get endings that feel earned and that set the characters up for interesting adventures in the near future.

However, arguably the star of the show Anthony Mackie’s Falcon/ Captain America, doesn’t get the ending that he deserves. After all that time deciding whether to take on the mantel and pick up the shield we just see Sam fully dressed in his Captain America costume which takes away a lot of the impact and though the suit itself looks cool it does not make up for seeing him put it on for the first time.

The reveal that Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter is in fact the Power Broker was in no way a surprise, it was blindingly obvious, personally I thought they had revealed it last week in that episode but evidently not. It makes no sense from a character point of view why Sharon has taken this course of action, and the post credits scene of her being pardoned only to carry on being evil just makes it worse- it is a baffling decision, she has to be a Skrull.   

Moreover, and I have spoken at length about this in the past, like many Marvel projects the biggest issue with this series is the villain. Erin Kellyman’s Karli is simply awful, perhaps the worst villain Marvel has ever had on screen, her motivations make no sense, she switches emotions and her entire personality at a moment’s notice and the final episode has her repeating the same lines over and over again because it doesn’t know what to do with her.  

Overall, disappointing and leaves a sour taste in the collective mouth regarding the Marvel Disney + shows.

Pros.

Walker and the Thunderbolts tease

Bucky and Sam at the end

Isaiah Bradley’s ending and the emotion

Cons.

Everything regarding Sharon Carter

Karli was awful

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Vanquish: Possibly Ruby Rose’s Worst Performance

Vanquish

0.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Just when my faith has been restored in Ruby Rose, following her surprisingly good performance in SAS Red Notice, it is then immediately lost with yet another example of her inability to act. The failings of this film can not be simply dumped on Rose herself; the film is bad across the board.

The biggest and most obvious issue is the fact that the film is incredibly generic, there is nothing new about it at all and you have seen all of it done better before elsewhere. None of the characters or the drama captures your attention, and you are left bored for the majority of the film.

Rose can’t seem to emote, whether she is being forced back into her old life as a killer, is upset when her kid is in danger, or killing a room full of people she always has the same expression on her face. This could be seen as a brilliant portrayal of an unfeeling, indifferent sociopath, but she is supposed to be a character that audiences warm to and root for so that doesn’t really work and just cements the fact that Rose can’t act.

Morgan Freeman isn’t much better, he is clearly here for the money.

Overall, the worst sort of straight to video action film, no care, heart, or even basic consideration has been put into this film.
Pros.

It is short

Cons.

It is incredibly generic

Freeman is clearly just doing it for the money

Rose can’t act

It has no stakes as you don’t care about the characters at all

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Spider-Man Into The Spiderverse: The Power And Glory Of The Animated Medium

Spider-Man Into The Spiderverse

5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

For all those who doubt Sony Animation this film is undeniable proof of their talent on a huge scale. The animation is beautiful, the emotions and family dynamic are heart warming and complex, and there are enough easter eggs, nods and appearances from Elseworlds Spider-people to keep even the biggest Spider-Man fan happy.

This film shows what the animated medium can do, the story is powerful and moving and works both in a way to appeal to children who are drawn in by the bright colours and the name of the hero, but also as a reward for long time fans.
I enjoyed that the film was not a direct adaptation of the Spiderverse comic, but instead did something new with it. As a comics fan I enjoyed seeing all these different versions of Spider-Man interact on screen, Nicolas Cage’s Spider-Man Noir was of course my favourite, of those featured prominently; though that should not be a surprise to anyone who reads my reviews regularly.

My favourite moment of the whole film was of course the cameo at the end with Oscar Issac’s Miguel O’ Hara as he is my favourite Spider-Man, and I was glad to see him included.

Overall, a magnificent film.

Pros.

The animation

The cameos and nods

The emotion and the story

The ending

The originality

Cons.

None

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Nobody: Never Mess With The Man On The Bus

Nobody

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

As many of you know I am a huge John Wick fan, as whilst this film is different in a lot of ways it bares more than a passing similarity, but rather than be lesser I think both films are on a par with one another.

This film was slightly more tongue in cheek than Wick, there were moments where this film almost acknowledges the silliness of its premise and these are great as they do actually make you laugh and add to the wider charm of the film. I have not smiled so much at a film in a long time.

Bob Odenkirk excels in this film. I will admit I had my doubts about him in the role, but not only does he pull off the action hero role with flair he also makes the character likeable as well and gives him a personality. I enjoyed the duality of his character, how he was so conflicted trying to be both the family man as well as balance his nature as a cold blooded killer.

The action is very well handled, the early bus scene especially, but I would expect nothing less from the visionary director who brought us Hardcore Henry. The violence is brutal and visceral, and really does satisfy a gory whole in the heart.

Overall, a surprising gem.

Pros.

The violence

The humour

Odenkirk

The final fight

Cons.

A bit too familiar at times.

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Antebellum: A Lecture Disguised As A Film

Antebellum

0.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

 This film came and went, with many having the good sense to avoid it as it tried to piggy back desperately on Jordan Peele’s new horror sub-genre. However, it can’t hope to match the inherent intelligence of Peele’s films or his uncanny ability to perfectly blend together social commentary and horror into one narrative whole.

Continuing on, the worst part of this film is its paper thin writing. The metaphor and message of Antebellum is stuffed into your face to the point of nausea, and to make matters worse it thinks it is being subtle and insightful with it- that is really not the case. This film mostly ignores the fact that it is supposed to be a horror film, and instead focuses on well worn social commentary: this quickly turns into a lecture.

The style is oddly jarring as the time travel elements don’t really work together, the clash is not outrightly terrible, but it does take you out of the experience and bothers you more and more as you think about it.

Likewise the acting isn’t anything to write home about, and for all those who said this was going to be Janelle Monae’s break out performance I think you can all see how wrong you were.

Overall, this film tried and failed to copy Jordan Peele, but it is nothing more than a pale imitation.

Pros.

The premise has promise

Cons.

Janelle Monae

The lecture

The two time periods clash

It doesn’t understand the word subtly  

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Bad Witch: The Relatable Witch

Bad Witch

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Comedy horror often has the issue of favouring one element over the other, however, as a rare exception this film manages to perfectly capture the essence of both and balance them together well, forming a perfectly rounded comedy horror film.

I enjoyed the comedic gimmick of the unfortunate witch who is just as much of a screw up as the rest of us, I thought it made the character feel very relatable and easily likeable, whilst also helping to bring out and enhance the comedic elements. This film made me laugh a lot throughout.

I also thought the scarier parts of the film worked well, they managed to build on the unsettling moments to create strong through and through scares that stay with you long after the film. I appreciated how the film focused on atmospheric scares over jump scares, I think it is always the more effective route and it is proven so here.

My only problem with this film is that it is poorly paced and does have a few moments that drag on.

Overall, a near perfect comedy horror film that could have been made perfect with a tighter edit.

Pros.

Comedy

Horror

A relatable lead

The ending

Cons.

Pacing, bloat, and needless subplots  

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Blackhat: Hacking Computers With Your Shirt Off

Black Hat

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

A lot of Marvel actors have a hard time existing outside of the MCU, by that I mean look at the projects of a Tom Holland, Scar Jo or even Chris Hemsworth, yes they might have a win every now and again, but on the whole it is a deluge of bland forgettable films. Of all the MCU actors Hemsworth probably knows this best, as there have been several efforts to ingrain him into other big franchises and blockbuster movies which have all failed for one reason or another. To many this film is another example of that, however, don’t think it is as bad as many would have you believe.

I think Hemsworth is very watchable here and makes for a likeable enough protagonist. Is it a bit ridiculous and unrealistic that he is a topless expert hacker, yes, yes it is, but this is Hollywood after all.

I enjoyed the surprisingly brutal violence, I thought the ending especially was viciously fantastic, and I liked the wider ambiguousness to it, it had a Catch Me If You Can vibe, and I would like to see a sequel where Hemsworth’s character goes up against and even more shredded and genius level hacker; even though it is likely never going to happen.

The major issue with this film, however, is that it is poorly paced and bloated. There is a sequence early on that just shows the inner workings of a computer as it is being hacked, and yes whilst some might find it visually interesting, I thought it dragged on and on and was a poor start to the film.  

Overall, a surprisingly decent and competent thriller, worsened by bloat.
Pros.

Hemsworth

The violence

The tension

Cons

The pacing

A lot of the characters feel disposable

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Them: Exploitation Or High Art? The Series Can’t Decide

Them

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

My, my it has been a minute since a horror series has actually given me nightmares and bothered me psychologically outside the show. This is a very powerful show for a lot of reasons, it will scare you both in terms of supernatural horrors and very real ones as well, it will sicken you and make you angry.

In case I wasn’t clear, I think this is one of the best new horror TV series in the last few years, as not only does it have something to say, but it also fully executes its premise to a strong degree as well, it flourishes under its large undertaking.

The themes and messages don’t feel in your face or lecture like, as they are expertly woven into the wider story, though as you are watching it you are given an education on very real world evils that happened and are still happening.

I think across the board the acting is top notch, the only weak spot I could find would be the little girl who gave a few very bad performances at times, but hey I won’t labour the point about child actors not being very good.

I have seen a view reviews comparing this series to the work of Jordan Peele and basically saying something to the extent of this show steals from or rips off his work. Now, though I can see how both share similar ground I would argue that what we are witnessing rather than a copying is the formation of a new socially focused horror sub-genre that all of these works belong to. I also think this series does enough to clearly separate it from Peele’s work.

My one complaint would be that this series often crosses a line, now this is personal to me, I don’t need to see a dead dog’s corpse multiple times shot with a close up angle as well, nor is it necessary to have a prolonged rape scene and show it multiple times throughout the show as well, for these reasons I would say the show often ventures into bad taste. Furthermore, during some of the latter episodes the show seems to revel in the violence that is occurring on-screen rather than acting to condemn it. I can understand why creatively the show would cross this line, in both cases, and choose to do it the way it does, but personally I found it off putting.

Overall, an impressively strong horror series

Pros.

The acting

The scares

The social commentary

Consistency throughout

Cons.

It does fall into bad taste on a number of occasions

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The Marksman: Liam It Is Time To Retire

The Marksman

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Time was a new Liam Neeson action film would have got me excited; hell in the lead up to this film coming out on VOD I was excited to see it, I thought it could be more solid Neeson action in the vein of Taken or Run All Night, sadly it isn’t- it is deeply forgettable, quite racist and a slog to get through.

Right off the bat, the idea that this white, ex-army, farmer is a young Mexican boys only chance at escaping the Cartel is troublesome as a reflection of the white saviour trope, when you add to that the general view this film takes on illegal immigrants, not a very nice one to put it mildly, and the fact that nearly every single non-white character is blanketly bad you can start to see my point about racism.

Moreover, Liam Neeson, Katheryn Winnick and every other actor in this film is sleepwalking. No one seems to be trying here, almost as though in their minds they know the film is going to be bad and are just showing up for something to do. It is a shame as in years gone by a Liam Neeson action film was usually a few hours of dumb fun, now it can’t even rouse my interest enough to make sitting through it anything other than a chore.

It feels to me like Neeson has given up in terms of action films over the last few years, which is understandable, but if this is true he needs to stop appearing in them and go after different roles as it is starting to get tiresome.

Overall. A dreary disappointment.

Pros.

Liam Neeson has some charm

Cons.

Neeson isn’t trying especially in the action scenes

It is a slog to get through

It is quite racist

It is deeply generic    

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