Film Review: Spiderman Far From Home

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What a world we live in.  Fellow comedian Cristian Duran posted on Facebook: “In 2002 I would have shit my pants if you told me that one day there’d be 3 different Spider-Man 2’s.”  The first S2, amazing.  Easily one of the top 3 Spiderman films.  Second S2, awful.  So this brings us to the latest Marvel iteration.  SFFH starts out 5 years after Avengers: Endgame.  Half the world died, or as they call it, blipped.  Those who blipped aged 5 years and they give a cute explanation how this works.  Even though it’s 5 years after the fact, Peter Parker (Tom Holland), still pines away after the loss Tony Stark in EG.  Hey, if you haven’t seen the 2nd highest grossing film of all time by now, that’s on you.  What’s next, you missed Keyzer Soze is Kevin Spacey?  Darth Vader is Luke’s father?  Michael Cera gets DP’ed at the end of Superbad?  Yep, deleted scene.  Check it out if you don’t believe me.  

Anyway, Parker continues to cry for Iron Man like some people still carry the torch for Jerry Garcia.  Yuck, what an overrated band, the Grateful Dead.  And while PP misses Stark, Happy (Jon Favreau) is trying to slide into Aunt May’s (Marissa Tomei) inbox.  Hilarious interactions throughout because the last time any version of Aunt May was having guys kick game to her was during LBJ’s presidential tenure.  And Peter is trying to make magic with MJ.  Zendaya (she’s too young and unaccomplished to pull off the single name yet) is the perfect nerdy-ish neighbor that MJ was.  I liked Kirsten Dunst (her body is fantastic, her snaggle teeth are not) in the original trilogy but Zendaya and Holland have great repartee in this film.  Jake Gyllenhal enters the Marvel Universe as Mystery, well known Spidey villain who enters as a good guy fighting the Elementals, villains in the form Earth’s elements.  And it wouldn’t be a Marvel film without Samuel L Jackson mailing it in for a paycheck.  Just kidding, he was better here than he was in Captain Marvel.  Thankfully, film scribes Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers save SLJ with some great lines and pretty good jokes with Holland regarding PP’s phone etiquette.  

Parker, his buddy Ned, MJ, and his classmates go on a class trip to Europe along with new teacher with the king of mumbling, JB Smoove.  I don’t get JB Smoove.  At all.  EVER.  Of course, Parker wants to make the moves on MJ but gets stopped because surprise, bad guys (The Elementals) appear along with Mysterio who saves the day.  Nick Fury and Maria Hill show up to make sure Peter helps fight off the bad guys.  How dare they make Peter be an adult/Avenger when Peter is just trying to blow off some steam and execute his Shakespearean love plan?

Let’s fast forward to the meat.  Yes, Mysterio turns sour and the main reason was just meh for me.  Were the battle scenes great?  You bet.  There are plenty of funny moments and it’s fun to see Spidey and MJ’s romance begin to blossom.  But my biggest issue with the film was the constant love song that’s consistently being sung by Spiderman.  Want to devote the first act with Peter still mourning (again, 5 years after the fact)?  Fine.  But he STILL carries on throughout act 2.  Some people argue that Spiderman played a “Robin” role in Spiderman: Homecoming.  I can see the point but I enjoyed Homecoming more than this one.  Why?  I LOVED Keaton as Vulture more than I liked Bubble Boy as Mysterio.  I just found his logic for wanting to screw over Parker and his plan for domination to be a bit weak.  Yes, the effects are great and the final battle scene is cool.  But again, this didn’t grab me as much as Homecoming did.  This is still enjoyable and boy oh boy, that first post credits scene is a TOP 3 ALL TIME SCENE.  You heard me.  And when it happened, I literally yelled out, “Oh SHIT!”  Check this out but lower your expectations a tad.

I give this a 6.5 out of 10.

NO SPOILERS: Film Review: Avengers Endgame

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Everybody ok?  Whew, we all made it!  Although I must confess, that wasn’t THAT bad of a dead zone (January-April) as it could’ve been.  Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of clunkers: Us, Glass, Captain Marvel, What Men Want, Up, and Alita.  I only saw Captain Marvel because I don’t like wasting time, money, or sitting with other people in mediocre or less than films.  But we did get a couple of nice surprises with Shazam (Welcome back, DC.  It only took you 4 films not including Wonder Woman since TDK trilogy to get respectable) and Fighting With My Family.  But for now: bring the bar into your lap, keep all cell phones in your pocket, and keep all hands and feet within the cart.  Hold on lady, we go for a ride!

I always circle one film on the summer calendar as my, “CAN’T WAIT” (Bart Scott impression) film.  Last year was IW, this year is Endgame.  Honorable mentions to Toy Story 4, John Wick 3, and Spiderman: Homecoming.  This is the 2nd straight year that the “summer blockbusters” begin with an absolute megaton warhead.  Last year, Avengers: Infinity War took the world by storm with an airtight plot, non-stop awe inspiring action scenes, and the snap that sent kids crying out of the theater.  Thankfully, the Russo Brothers were wise enough to film both IW and EG back to back so we didn’t have to wait but one calendar year to the day to see how they wrap up the saga.  So let’s get into it!

It’s a Thanos, post-snap world we’re living in.  The Avengers want to get back the Infinity Stones so they can undo the mass genocide which saw friends and love ones disappear into ash like an anti-smoking PSA.  They track him down and learn that Thanos has destroyed the stones so his work can’t be undone.  Bogus.  Fast forward ahead 5 years where we find the Avengers have split up but still keep in touch.  Tony Stark has a child with Pepper Potts who is quick witted and charming as he is, surprise.  Bruce Banner has found a way to become half Hulk, half Banner all the time and it makes for some pretty funny moments.  Suddenly, Ant Man reappears from the Quantum World where he has a pretty big surprise: he’s figured out time travel.  Hey everyone, let’s go back in time to get the stones before Thanos got them.  Just one problem: Stark is quite happy surviving the snap and enjoying life as a dad, living in a log cabin.  Going back in time can undo this current happiness and he doesn’t want to risk it.  Don’t worry, he changes his mind so the plot can proceed.  Next comes rounding up Thor, who has taken to living in New Asgard with a few buddies and a lot of extra pounds, thanks to beer and pizza.  Thor is also not thrilled about losing to Thanos and reliving that memory.  Don’t worry, he also changes his mind.  And lastly; we find Hawkeye has also lost his family and now lives as an assassin, killing off bad guys and not wanting to do anything else.  Don’t worry, he too, changes his mind.  Now that we’re all a big happy family again, the Avengers all go back in time to very familiar former films to find the stones.  And pay attention on how time travel is possible, they do crack a few jokes how time travel isn’t done like it is Back to the Future.  I must confess, I did feel the end of the first act was dragging a little bit but right at that moment, act 2 kicks it up a few notches.

And of course, when you go back in time, you’re going to find a younger Thanos on his original quest to procure the stones.  Joining him are Gamorra and Nebula who still believe in their father’s quest.  Of course, they catch wind of the Avengers plan and plan to intercept them before they outfox ol’ testicle chin Thanos.  What’s really cool with this second act is very Back to the Future 2 ish: the crew goes to previous films to get the stones: the Tesseract during the first Avengers film, Vormir and Red Skull, etc.  It’s fun to see them not interact with their younger selves.  What else is cool are the tertiary characters we’ve seen in other films also make reappearances which will bring a knowing nod or smile to your face.  I won’t spoil my favorite scene with an old character and the closure that occurs but man, it REALLY goes Back to the Future-ish and is really fun to witness.

No shocking revelation here, act 3 is FUCKING INSANE.  The final battle scene sent shivers right up the ol’ butthole.  It is GLORIOUS and you WILL be on the edge of your seat those last 20-30 minutes for sure.  I mean, WOW.  This is going into the pantheon of best final battle scenes in film history.  So many characters are involved and I daresay we see the best Captain Marvel stuff here vs her own disappointing film.  But make no mistake, people die in this film.  And I promise one of them will get you a bit teary eyed.

Endgame is just as close to perfect as you can draw it up.  This film should be a lynchpin of discussions when it comes to tying up any kind of film or TV series.  Every thing is buttoned up nicely and a few comic book nods occur throughout and at the end of the film. I daresay it’s time we start the conversation of having the Russo brothers of the greatest comic book film directors alongside of Christopher Nolan.  Winter Solider, Civil War, IW, and Endgame…none of those films are below an 8/10.  All of the reviews I’ve read had this 3/4 stars, 4/5 stars, 9.5/10, 97%.  And they’re all right.  IW was so good, it was going to be almost impossible to match.  But Endgame does just that.  This is an absolute masterpiece and unlike last year’s snub, should ABSOLUTELY be involved in the Best Picture discussion.  Because we all know IW was MUCH better than Black Panther.  And this year, there is no distraction for a Marvel film of this caliber to be denied.  My ONLY knock is it did drag a TAD, maybe knock off 5-10 minutes and then this baby is a flawless pearl.

I give this a 9/10 and will definitely see this again in the next few weeks.

Film Reviews: Dunkirk, Atomic Blonde, and Spiderman: Homecoming

We’re almost at the end of summer and before you know it, certain things are going to happen.  They’re going to yank my favorite beer, Sam Adams Summer Ale off the shelves by the second week of August and replace it with GARBAGE Octoberfest.  A full month and a half before the actual Octoberfest and no one, repeat NO ONE, likes this beer.  It will also be time for me to take the annual trip for me to go Vegas for week 1 of the NFL.  And of course, it’s going to be soon enough when Hollywood drops a plate of continuous garbage into the theaters until November.  I did catch a few new films and I’m more than happy to tell you about them.

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Let’s be honest, it’s John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws) and then everyone else for film scoring.  But Hans Zimmer (Batman trilogy, Inception, Lion King) is a SOLID number 2.  I went to see Hans Zimmer at Radio City last week.  He played for 3 hours and all of the hits.  If you don’t know him, he’ll be on the Mt Rushmore of cinematic composers.   Being Zimmer is Nolan’s go-to guy for film score, he also does the latest Nolan joint.     As I’ve said before, no one bats 1.000, not even Babe Ruth. But Hans Zimmer is perfect in previous attempts and this is no exception.  Zimmer does such a job that it will be a bigger fix than the 1919 Black Sox if he doesn’t get the Oscar this year.  The score AND sound make will send shivers up your b-hole and if doesn’t, you ain’t alive.  

Now let’s talk about the actual film.  Nolan tells 4 different stories at the same time with some familiar faces from previous Nolan films, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy.   The story of Dunkirk is the Brits and French (further perpetuating stereotypes) have been pushed to the shores by the Nazis (pre-USA intervention) and are looking to retreat via the sea.  But those pesky Krauts drop bombs and send torpedoes (actual torpedoes, not Sofia Vergara’s luscious cans) on the British naval ships that attempt to bring the soldiers back.  Harry Styles (of One Direction fame; note that not one of their songs is on my phone.  Not even as a guilty pleasure) plays the son of a former British soldier that takes his boys toward Dunkirk toward the rescue effort.  

There are problems with this film.  One, with the exception of Styles, his brother, and father off to help the stranded; there aren’t any characters that you feel any relationship with.  Cillian plays a pilot that is shot down and rescued by Styles’s father but you don’t get a feel for his character.  Same goes for fellow flyboy Tom Hardy.  Another group of soldiers that are holed up in a ship are another group you feel nothing for.  Secondly, there is no need for the roundabout fashion in which Nolan tells the story.  Some people complained that it was difficult to follow; I didn’t feel like it was but there were a few moments where you have to mentally jump back and forth.  Lastly, this film is 110 minutes but I felt it DRAGGED at times.  My friend Ryan made a great point about not having any relationship with the characters; being that this films was simply about survival and didn’t need to be a nationalistic film with sentimentality.  Fair points but this film didn’t grab me.

I just didn’t feel that invested in the story nor the characters.  However, it is beautifully shot and as I previously said, the score adds fantastic gravitas to the moments.  The dogfight scenes are amazing.   And this is also EXACTLY what I said about Nolan’s previous film, Interstellar.  Is Dunkirk as bad as I thought Interstellar was?  No, but it’s also not much better.  I think this is the film that may get Oscar noms when virtually every other Nolan film should have been honored.  Why?  Because it deals with history and we all know that as well as social issues are cheese in the mouse trap to get nominations.  Here’s something else about Interstellar that applies here: If you have any desire to see this, make sure you see it in the theater.  Because seeing it at home won’t give you the experience and you’ll dislike it even more if you’re watching on anything less than a big screen and 4dx sound.

I give it a 5.5 out of 10

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Atomic Blonde has been garnering comparisons to John Wick.  Yes, the fight scenes were choreographed by the same guy.  But it’s definitely not 2 hours of ass kicking, gun-fu.     There’s a story line here, much more involved than a guy hunting down the Russian mafia who killed his wife and dog.  And I loved John Wick and liked John Wick 2.  But this is deeper.  

Let’s go back to November 1989, a few days before the Berlin Wall comes down.  Charlize Theron (never on anyone’s top 10 hot list but she should be) is an MI-6 operative who is sent to Berlin to find out why her fellow compatriot was gunned down by a Russian assassin while hiding a list of agent code names as well as their real names.  And the game is afoot the second she touches down in Berlin; as she uses her stiletto shoe to thwart attackers in a moving car.  James McAvoy (Professor X in the recent X-Men films as well as the schizophrenic in that AWFUL film, Split) is a man who can get his hands on anything on the black market and his especially interested in getting that list or the man who memorized that list.  

The action scenes aren’t as many as Wick but they’re really good.  There’s one scene where Theron fights off 4 attackers in a continuous shot.  The camera work is amazing, you get a “Bourne Ultimatum” feel with some of these sequences.  And as an added bonus, you also get some quick shots of Charlize Theron’s boobs when she submerges in ice baths.  There’s even a lesbian sex scene with her and a French spy.  An enthusiastic thumbs up from this reviewer.  Lastly, you’ll totally dig the 80’s soundtrack playing throughout the film as well as footage from news organizations covering the events leading up to and the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

This film was a pleasant surprise on many levels and it’s a little more than just a typical summer action blockbuster.  It didn’t make big money on opening weekend but doesn’t that mean the audiences guessed right by passing on it.  It’s quite enjoyable with a few nice twists and Theron proves that women can kick ass without it being a forced feminism agenda.  You hear me, female Ghostbusters reboot?

I give it a 7/10

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Last and certainly not last, I saw Spiderman: Homecoming a few weeks ago but was lazy and never wrote the review.  This is the best Spiderman film of all time.  Tom Holland crushes it as Peter Parker, he gives the role a lot more fun as well as that nerdy aspect to it. It also doesn’t hurt having Downey Jr in it a few times, reprising his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man who gives Parker an upgraded suit.  And let’s not forget Michael Keaton who is having a resurgence for the ages.  I liked Birdman, LOVED the Founder, and he’s fantastic as the Vulture.  This film doesn’t miss on any aspect and has a fantastic twist in the third act with one of Peter’s classmates.  I eagerly anticipate anything Spiderman in the future as Holland did a great job of erasing any memory of Andrew Garfield and also nicely scrubbed Spiderman 3 from my cerebellum.  

I give this an 8.5/10