Fantastic Four: The Bad Reboot

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

For some reason even though we had an origin story for the Fantastic Four barely a decade prior we are forced to witness another.

Why are people still trying to make Miles Teller a thing? He was good in Whiplash and then promptly nothing else, yet for a few years every big franchise seemed to want Teller, and if the on set fighting is to be believed he was probably best avoided. Hopefully those days are behind us, oh wait he’s in Top Gun the sequel.

The cast isn’t a total misfire Kate Mara as Sue Storm does her best and Jamie Bell has his moments as the Thing, but Miles teller and an entirely forgettable Michael B. Jordan do let down the foursome tremendously. That is not even to mention Dr Doom, played by Toby Kebbell, who is a monstrosity for all the wrong reasons.

I honestly think the worst thing about this film is the CGI, never in recent memory have I seen such appalling effects in a big budget studio film. How the film got released with the final third in that condition is baffling, it makes the CGI mess finales of the MCU and DCEU look appealing.

Overall, people should have been fired over this, and most likely they did.

Pros.

Mara

Bell

Cons.

Dr Doom

Teller

The third act

Jordan

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The Amazing Spider-Man Two: The Sinisterness Of Sony

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Peter Parker, played by Andrew Garfield, tries his best to defeat the handful of villain thrown at him as Sony tries desperately to set up the Sinister Six.

I returned to this film in the days post No Way Home to see if it was as bad as I remember it being, and honestly it wasn’t, it is by no means good, but it certainly has its moments.

I think this film can be split into two halves, one of which I will focus heavily on and the other I will quickly discard. To be discarded is everything with the blue skinned Electro, played by Jamie Foxx, my, my Sony really dropped the ball with him, who thought that this is what the character should look or be like. That was all bad. Effects, acting, everything.

Now the other half that I will focus on as I think this was the redeemable part of the film, the Green Goblin, here played by Dean DeHaan. Now I want to lead with a big preface here, I think by and large DeHaan was miscast, however he did his best with it. He was never going to live up to Dafoe and he was only really there as a means to set up the Sinister Six, they are sinister because they are so forced in. All that aside I did buy the fallout between his character and Garfield’s Parker, I enjoyed their rivalry and thought the whole scene between him, Parker and Gwen, played by Emma Stone, was magic. Really it is that scene and Garfield’s response to it that manages to save this film for me.

I know I sound like an Andrew Garfield stan at this point, and if I were ever to meet the man I would probably be embarrassed at how much I sing his praises but he is just magnificent here and I would say off the three Spider-Men actors he is easily the best one at playing the character. Hopefully Sony gives him another film to continue his Spider-Man arc.

Overall, Garfield and Stone are silver linings, but Sony being themselves and everything with Fox’s Electro really drags this film down.

Pros.

Stone

Garfield

The emotion

Cons.

The Sinister Six side plot

DeHaan is badly miscast

Everything about Electro

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Spider-Man No Way Home: Who Is Coming Through That Portal

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland, finally faces some consequences for being Spider-Man.

Spoilers ahead.

This was a good Spider-Man film and probably the best of the Holland run so far, but was it the best Marvel film of the year….. No that to me is still The Eternals. I know…. I know….

I will get the things I don’t like about this film out of the way first, they really aren’t major, the first thing was I didn’t like that Aunt May, here played by Marisa Tomei, was given the great power great responsibility line, because that means the chances of seeing Uncle Ben in the MCU are shot. Secondly I didn’t like that the film went out of its way to make the villains likeable, of course in the end they broke bad, but for the early parts of the film it genuinely felt like the film didn’t have stakes as Peter easily beat them and then they were fairly nice with him, however this changed midway through.

Now on to everything that worked. I liked, though it will make me sound like a sadist that Spider-Man was finally broken in this film, in the Maguire and Garfield runs both of their Peter Parker’s had already faced major traumas by this point in the run so it was nice to see Holland be given that. I think this added to the emotional impact of his performance and really gave him something to work with, the ending of the film is fairly glum yet it feels earned and it fits with the character and I think that is something to be praised.

Moreover, the film did indeed bring back Matt Murdock, played by Charlie Cox, which was brilliant to see and made me very excited in the cinema. However, what I think people will be more excited for is the fact that yes both Garfield and Maguire return in this film, to varying degrees of goodness. Honestly I think Garfield is outstanding here, he steals the scene every time he is in it, his version of Peter Parker shines the brightest in this film and the broken, angry and deeply emotional Spider-Man that he plays here is a nice take on the character.

In terms of the wider MCU this film does a lot of expanding, however I do wish the film had left it more open ended. In the end all of the multiversal collapse is reversed, or at least so we think, and things seem neatly tied up, I thought it would have been far more interesting if the film hadn’t gone this way.

Overall, a strong film and one that is bound to be a crowd-pleaser.

Pros

Cox

Garfield

Maguire

The emotion and suffering of Peter Parker

Cons.

Making the villains a bit too likeable

Aunt May’s with great power line

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The Eternals: The New Gods Of The MCU

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A race of space faring beings known as Eternals have been on Earth for thousands of years and now they are finally stepping out into the limelight in order to save the world, naturally.

Major Spoilers Incoming

The trailers for this film did it no favours. Then the critics reviews came in and savaged it for the most part. I went in with incredibly low expectations, however I was pleased to say this might have been one of the best MCU films so far.

To address the main concern up front the action in this film is used sparingly, as in to say there is less here then in other Marvel films, however what is here is used well. The action scenes often carry with them a large amount of tension and stakes that help them to feel more than just the standard mashing of two CGI figures together. A good example of this is the jungle action sequence in which the Deviants have tracked the Eternals down and ambush them this feels incredibly tense.

A lot of people have said that this film has pacing issues, is too long, and is too talking heavy. I disagree with all of those statements. I enjoyed the character focus, it was a nice change from the bang bang nature of most MCU films, the conversations were mostly always incredibly impactful either to establish MCU lore, which this film does beautifully, or to create a connection between us the audience and the characters.

Speaking off, every character here is done well and you become attached to them. Over the course of the film you really do become enamoured with the character drama and are excited to see where it goes. Even bit characters like Kit Harrington’s Dane Whitman aka Black Knight are given moments to shine. Speaking off make sure to stick around until the second post credits scene as there is an incredibly exciting one teasing out the future of Harrington’s character and Blade?

My one complaint of this film would be the Deviants. This complaint is threefold, firstly the Deviants all look the same, bland CGI heavy baddies that feel cut and paste with a deeply uninspired design. Secondly, the film does nothing interesting with them, midway through it plays with the idea of Deviants being a sentient race who are just trying to stay alive, just like the Eternals themselves which creates a nice dichotomy however the film does nothing with it. Thirdly, in the final act of the film they just abruptly kill off their leader and that is the end of the Deviant threat as other characters and beings rise up to become villains of the piece.

Overall, one of the most meaningful and impactful films in the MCU a real gem in its hat, if only the Deviants could have been used better.

Pros.

The characters and performances

The post credits scenes, mainly the final one

The emotions and the powerful dialogue scenes

Using action in a smart way

Breaking the MCU formula

Cons.

The Deviants

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The Amazing Spider-Man: Why Do The Police Always Hate Spider-Man?

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

You all know the story by now, Peter Parker, played by Andrew Garfield, gets bitten by a genetically altered spider and becomes Spider-Man, this time facing off against the Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans.

I would say that of all three of the big screen adaptions of Spider-Man these films are probably the ones that the least amount of people like. That is not to say they are bad films, this one certainly isn’t, but really they never could live up to the Tobey McGuire films and that is what killed them.

Many people say that Andrew Garfield is too cool for the awkward nerdy role of Peter Parker, however I think he does fine.  I enjoy his outsider/loner persona and think he does a good job of nailing both the heart and the comedy of the character. I thought Garfield’s Spidey had a number of good one liners that land well. Moreover, I think that Peter and Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone have terrific chemistry, better even than McGuire and Kristen Dunst did in the previous version of the character. I think Stone really makes the character her own and I would like to see her show up in the MCU through multiverse shenanigans.

It is nice to see this film move away from using the Green Goblin, even though the sequel would, and instead feature a lesser known Spidey baddie in the Lizard for the film’s villain. I thought the effects of the Lizard were quite good, and I enjoyed the fact that the finale had more to it then just a big CGI punchout.

However, that is where the positives end.

This film has a real issue with pacing, I know they were trying to cram a lot in but honestly watching this film in one sitting is oppressive, it doesn’t feel like two hours and a bit instead it feels more like five. I am left asking did we really need to see Uncle Ben’s, played my Martin Sheen, death again so soon after we saw it in the McGuire films? Surely there must have been ways to trim this down.

Overall, a good Spider-Man film but no one’s favourite.

Pros.

Garfield

Stone

The Lizard

The heart

Cons.

Uncle Ben’s death again

Pacing issues    

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X-Men Apocalypse: Ripping Up And Ruining Comic Books Over The Space Of Two Hours

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Apocalypse, played by Oscar Issac, awakens in the mid Eighties and tries to take over the world.

This film takes a steaming dump all over the X-Men in many ways. Firstly it brings in fan favourite characters such as Psylocke, played by Olivia Munn, Angel, played by Ben Hardy, and Storm, played by Alexandra Shipp and then barely uses them. Worse still in the case of Angel the film just kills him off. This shows almost a contempt to the lore or the universe as Angel is a character that has had a long and storied comics history and has many places to go, not that this film cares.

Likewise, the film had the perfect inspiration in the Age of Apocalypse storyline from the Nineties yet it doesn’t even bother to draw an influence from that, and instead gives us a mess riddled with needless Eighties nostalgia and horribly used CGI. The final battle in this film is one of the worst realised of any superhero film in terms of its use of CGI, it looks visually repulsive.

The cast across the board isn’t very good with two key exceptions that I will get to, the young actors brought in to play the new version of the X-Men are all terrible with no exceptions, Tye Sheridan and Sophie Turner are particularly poor. Jennifer Lawrence clearly doesn’t want to be there and though normally he is terrific here James McAvoy is sorely underused and as such can’t deliver.

The two good performances and the reason this film doesn’t get lower are Michael Fassbender as Magneto and Evan Peters as Quicksilver. I thought the exploration of the father son dynamic between these two characters was interesting, I would have liked to see the film commit to it rather than just dance around the subject but it framed the film nicely. Of course the slow motion scene with Peters is cool to look at, but it is the emotional scenes where his character shines.  

Moreover, the scenes with Magneto as a family man, who then loses his family and breaks bad again are very well done and easily become the highpoint of a deeply mediocre affair.

Overall, the clear start of the decline for the Fox X-Men films.

Pros.

The father son subplot

Fassbender

Cons.

Wasting Oscar Issac

The young cast

The CGI finale mess

A weak plot

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Injustice: Superman, From Boy Scout To Fascist

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Adapting Year One of the Injustice comic run this film imagines a world where the Joker, voiced by Kevin Pollak, gets the last laugh on the heroes by killing Lois Lane, voiced by Laura Bailey, and turning Superman, voiced by Justin Hartley, into a murderous tyrant.

Having read most of the Injustice run I can say that this film gets a lot right. It keeps things simple for the most part, as the comic itself goes into all sorts of crazy directions, which I find works in the film’s favour as you get a neat narrative that is easy to follow whilst also keeping in most of the memorable moments from the comic run.

I enjoyed seeing the Injustice world realised on screen and seeing these groups of heroes facing off against each other, it is a fun game of cat and mouse that is constantly adapting and switching positions. My one complaint in this regard is that the ending of the film wraps things up neatly and doesn’t leave a whole lot open for a sequel, which is a shame as this film could be the start of a few films.

I am glad to see the brutality and gore from The Killing Joke has carried over into this, as the tale really can’t be done justice in a bloodless and child friendly way. This is a dark story for an older audience.

I have two issues with this film that have kept it from achieving full marks, firstly I don’t like the Green Arrow, voiced by Reid Scott, Harley Quinn, voiced by Gillian Jacobs, scenes and secondly it bugged me that this film left out Aquaman, voiced by Phil LaMarr. I understand why they kept in the Green Arrow Harley scenes as the two get a lot of time together in the early days of the comic run but their scenes together really add nothing to the narrative and only feel like they have been included to kill time. Moreover, missing out Aquaman seems like a huge oversight as he is important in the comic run and also leads a country so could have been a good ally to have on side.

Overall, another strong animation from DC.

Pros.

It simplifies the story

The ending

The thrill of heroes fighting

The big moments carry over

Cons.

Leaving out Aquaman

Green Arrow and Harley

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Avengers Age Of Ultron: Hawkeye’s Moment In The Sun

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Science Bros themselves create an artificial intelligence with the goal of ensuring world peace, however rather unsurprisingly it becomes evil.

I don’t think this is near the top of anyone’s list of favourite MCU films. My issues with this film come from the way it is structured and paced. The film feels like it goes on for about an hour too long, and during the exorbitant runtime it sets up a million different things for future films, some of which don’t even end up happening. Truly, therein lies the problem with this film, it is trying to do too much. A lot of Marvel films set up things to come, but this film feels more focused on what is coming then it does on actually being a good film. This can be seen best in the end credits sting of Thanos coming to get the gauntlet, which whilst a cool visual has little to do with the MCU in that moment.

Moreover, the romance between Black Widow, Scarlett Johannsson, and Bruce Banner, Mark Ruffalo, is one of the most poorly thought out decisions in the MCU. Firstly, Winter Soldier gave us Natasha in a staring role where her merit is not decided on being someone’s girlfriend or her ability to have kids, yet here she is reduced to a supporting character and Hulk’s girlfriend. Ew. Secondly, there is a line in which Natasha refers to herself as a monster for the fact she can’t have children, despite being forcefully sterilised whilst in the Red Room program, pardon me what? What sort of message does this send? It also destroys Hulk as a character as he does not really say anything to reassure her after she says this, the whole scene is needless. Finally, the relationship existing at all devalues and basically nullifies Banner’s relationship with Betsy Ross, Liv Tyler, from his solo film, which was the heart and soul of that film, so that sucks.

There are things I like about this film such as the introduction of the Twins and Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner, getting far more of an expanded role. I think this is the best we have ever seen Hawkeye and likely will ever see him, here he gets a number of heroic moments and really does standout amongst the jacked line up. Moreover, the decision to blend horror into Wanda’s, Elizabeth Olsen, early appearances by having her movements be played backwards is a stroke of pure genius and as a creative choice really works for me.

Overall, it has its moments but is by far one of the weaker MCU films.

Pros.

Scarlet Witch’s early movement

Hawkeye

The final scene at Avengers Academy

Cons.

The Black Widow/Hulk romance

The scene where Natasha reveals she can’t have kids

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Captain America The Winter Soldier: If A Government Agency Wants The Ability To Kill Anyone Anywhere Generally They Are Evil.

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Captain America, Chris Evans, is forced to question what and who he is fighting for, when Shield, the government agency he has been fighting for turns out to be overrun with nefarious forces hellbent on world domination.

Until Antman and the Wasp came out this was my favourite MCU film. I watched it several times when it first came out, but this is my first time rewatching it since. Whilst I still think this is one of the best films in the MCU, I can see that there are issues with it that I didn’t see the first time around namely the pacing.

I enjoyed the deeply personal feel of the film, and the great character work between Cap and those around him. I think the character interactions are at their strongest with Cap and Scarlett Johannsson’s Black Widow, with this really being the film for me where she really came into the character and established a firm presence within the MCU. Moreover, I like the set up and building friendship between Cap and Sam Wilson, Anthony Mackie. Evans and Mackie have strong chemistry together and this makes for a number of strong humorous scenes.

I thought the Hydra twist worked really well and is an excellent choice to reset the MCU status quo. Moreover, the return of Bucky, Sebastian Stan, now as a villain is a stroke of genius as it furthers the emotional and moral burden on Caps shoulders. Even when first watching I knew the film was going to bring back Bucky as I was familiar with the character from the comics, however for those who are not familiar with the source material this would have been quite a surprising reveal I am sure.

Chris Evans performance as Cap is even better than it was in the first film, and that is saying something. He plays the do-gooder who no longer knows how to do good so well, and I enjoy the morality of the character and his decisions this time around. I think Evan’s performance emotes this split in the character, and he does a lot without saying very much at all. Certainly one of the best performances in the MCU.

Overall, a strong MCU film that has a few slow scenes but on the whole manages to be one of the best films in the MCU.

Pros.

Evans

Johansson

The twist

The Winter Soldier

Cons.

The pacing is off    

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The Avengers: The Film That Changed Hollywood

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The phase one heroes finally assemble, and we get to see the birth of the Avengers.

Rewatching this now, all these years later the magic is still there. There is just something about seeing all these heroes interacting on screen for the first time that just resonates no matter how many times you have seen it. Each character and even the main supporting characters are all given their moment and it truly does feel like an ensemble, a team building activity.

The reason I didn’t give this a five as you might have expected me to, is because of Loki and the strange characterisation he is given. Up until this point the only other time we have seen the character is in Thor, so that is what I will judge him off, in that film he is villainous sure, but he is also redeemable and remorseful by the end, he is more along the antihero line. Here however, he is uncharacteristically evil, wanting to ‘crush the ants’ and basically make humans a slave race, and yes you could say it was Thanos messing with his head or the mind stone, but to me it seems like bad writing. Maybe originally a different villain was supposed to be used here, one that would make more sense as being a purely evil character and he was rewritten to be Loki as the character proved popular. A few comedic scenes thrown in here and there can’t distract from the noticeable change.

I think my personal favourite thing about this film is Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson. Coulson was always there is the background in most of the early films and yes here and there he got a witty one liner or had a memorable moment, but it was not until this film that he really came into his own as a character. He is the heart and soul of this film, and the choice to have him die here is simply a master stroke as it ends up with you feeling the same way the characters do which helps you to connect with them more and give greater meaning to the Avengers forming. Moreover, as a moment it is surprising as you quickly learn just how much you care about this fairly average background character.

Overall, a film that doesn’t nearly everything right.

Pros.

The character work

The set up

The character interactions

The final battle

The humour

Cons.

Loki

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