Spider-Man: Homecoming is a joyous comic book movie. It is easily superior to the last four Spider-Man films.
After his adventure with the Avengers, Peter Parker must return to his reality as a high school student from Queens. He attempts to balance his regular life with fighting low-level crime as Spider-Man. Things become complicated with a new villain on the scene…
After some false starts, Sony have teamed up with Marvel to deliver a Spider-Man film that ticks all the boxes. Spider-Man: Homecoming is well written, well directed, and captures the essence of the title character. The film is fun, engaging and entertaining.
Perhaps the most pivotal shift in this latest Spider-Man film is the quality of the writing. Spider-man: Homecoming was penned by no less than six writers (including director Jon Watts), and this combination seems to work. Characters are given enough depth, scenes are well constructed, and jokes are plentiful. Plot development is smartly executed. The film keeps an even keel, balancing frequent humour with action and sufficient motivation.
A refreshing aspect of this film is its scale. Whilst there are the necessary big set pieces, the narrative is performed within a smaller scope. In contrast to the grandstanding of the previous Avengers films, the world explored by Watts’ film takes place in a smaller world. Peter’s motivation is stopping the bad guys in his neighbourhood, even if he longs for a more striking fight. Similarly, the antagonist here has more down-to-earth concerns, rather than the world domination that consumes so many others in this genre. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a better film for this.
There are some great sequences in the film, including the montage of the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. Action sequences offer spectacle, whilst the visuals always look great. Tom Holland impresses as Peter Parker; his energy works well in the role. Michael Keaton turns in a great performance, as always. There is good support from Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, and Laura Harrier.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a very welcome addition to the Marvel world. The film entertains, amuses, and will leave viewers eager for more.
With the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron last week, superhero movie season has just begun.Back in the late 1970-mid-1990s era, audiences were lucky to get one big comic book adaptation a year. Now, this is the tentpole genre, with several new superhero movies being released each year. Both Marvel and DC Movies have revealed a busy slate for the coming years. The reality is, however, that the new superhero hero movies are unlikely to be ‘new’ at all, with the plethora of remakes, spin-offs and reboots that are due to come out in the next few years.
New Superhero Movies
There are in fact some new superhero movies set for release – that is to say films that feature characters or concepts that have not been depicted on the big screen before. These include…
Marvel’s next cinematic release is Ant-Man, which hits the big screen on 17th July 2015. Despite not being one of Marvel’s better-known superheroes, Ant-Man first appeared in comics in the early 1960s. Not carrying the same exposure in other media as some other Marvel title characters, it will be interesting to see how Ant-Man fairs with audiences. Nevertheless, Guardians of the Galaxywas not harmed by a lack of mainstream audience consciousness.
Director David Ayer has been teasing fans will glimpses of the film on his Twitter account. Although some of the characters have appeared in feature films before (notably the Joker and Lex Luthor), Suicide Squad is classed as one of the new superhero movies because the story of this group has not previously been depicted on the big screen.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays the lead role in Marvel’s Doctor Strange. The sorcerer first appeared in marvel comics in 1963. The film, which is set for release on 28th October 2016 in the UK, appears to be an origins story. Which is just as well, given that the superhero is not one of Marvel’s most popular characters.
Although there has been a television film (aired in 1974), as well as the famous television series, Wonder Woman has never starred in her own feature film. Perhaps the most iconic of all female superheroes, Wonder Woman will finally take centre stage in her own cinematic release on 23rd June 2017.
This category occupies the majority of forthcoming releases in the comic book adaptation genre. Many of the new superhero movies are sequels to films released in the last few years, including…
Ryan Reynolds reprises his role (from 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as the Marvel antihero in Deadpool. It is unclear how much of a crossover there will be with the X-Men series of films. But with the star power of Reynolds and the lure of a R-rating in the US, Deadpool is sure to bring in audiences when it is released on 12th February 2016.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
One of the most anticipated movies of 2016, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a follow-up to 2013’s Man of Steel and seemingly a precursor to DC’s forthcoming The Justice League Part 1 and 2. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will offer viewers their first look at Ben Affleck as Batman when it is released on 25th March 2016.
Captain America: Civil War
2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier was one of the best Marvel films thus far, so expectations are high for its sequel. The film will feature a host of Avengers’ characters, including Iron Man, Black Widow and Hawkeye. It seems to be the closest fix to an Avengers movie until 2018, when Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 is released. Captain America: Civil War will hit the big screen on 29th April 2016.
The follow-up to 201’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse sees the return of director Bryan Singer. The film reintroduces a number of characters viewers of the first film series will be familiar with. This time they appear as younger versions, including Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler (pictured above). X-Men: Apocalypse will be released on 19th May 2016.
Another off-shoot of the X-Men franchise, the character is the subject of his own film when Gambit is released on 7th October 2016. This time around, the character is played by Channing Tatum, following Taylor Kitsch’s turn in the role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It has been reported this week that the character may not make an appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse, making it unclear whether Gambit is a sequel that relates to this world, or is a reboot of the character from the 2009 film.
The third-standalone Wolverine film is set for release on 2nd March 2017. Star Hugh Jackman indicated on his Instagram account that this would be the last time he would play the role. Little is known about the plot of the film; it does not yet have an official title. Perhaps the three X-Men film released before Wolverine 3 will have some impact in shaping the film.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
A cinematic adaption one of Marvel’s less-popular franchises, 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge worldwide hit. The sequel, when it is released on 28th April 2017, has a lot to live up to. At the moment, it is unclear whether there’ll be any crossover with the Avengers universe, although one of Guardians of the Galaxy 2‘s stars hopes this will be the case.
There are two clear superhero reboots scheduled for release in the next two years, although some of the above films may fall into this category. Audiences can look forward to seeing new versions of…
The 2005 film Fantastic Four and its 2007 sequel were hardly great fan favourites, so there does not seem to be a great deal of upset at the reboot of the Marvel franchise. What is promising about this new version is the cast, which includes Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan. With a 2017 sequel already planned, Fantastic Four hits the big screen on 6th August 2015.
Yes a Spider-Man reboot has already been done, with the sequel to that reboot only being released last year. However a new reboot is scheduled for release in 2017, with a number of actors being discussed for the lead role. Although not much is known about this new film at the moment, Spider-Man will appear in next year’s Captain America: Civil War.
This is not the last of this swath of new superhero movies, with both Marvel and DC planning a slate that will continue until at least 2020. These include standalone films for Aquaman and Black Panther, sequels for Thor and others, and reboots such as Green Lantern. After Marvel’s recent dominance of the superhero genre, it will be interesting to see whether DC can regain some of their earlier magic. Despite the apocalyptic action depicted in the films, this is where the real battle lies.
On Tuesday director Joss Whedon assembled with the cast of Avengers: Age of Ultron to discuss the new Marvel movie. On hand to discuss the film were Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Elisabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Paul Bettany…
On on Avengers: Age of Ultron as a sequel…
Joss Whedon: There are restrictions, but a lot of the questions have already been answered, so you know going in what you have to work with. It’s a bit of a comfort actually.
On what excites them about coming back for the second instalment…
Jeremy Renner: I’m excited about hanging out with these degenerates.
Mark Ruffalo: Coming back to the world and seeing where these crazy people that we’re playing are headed. And knowing that Joss is going to take us there, to his own twisted psyche.
Robert Downey Jr.: Probably my first costume fitting; me surrounded by many full-length mirrors.
Chris Evans: Marvel has a done a great job at bringing a lot of the same people together, not just in front of the cameras, but behind the cameras. Coming back to as a group, it kinda feels like a family of familiar faces. It’s like a high school reunion or something.
Scarlett: Johansson: I would say I get most excited about reading Joss’ script. It’s the big pay-off after a long wait.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: I’m just excited to be a part of it.
Paul Bettany: Box office bonuses!
On a possible Black Widow film…
Scarlett Johansson: She’s a very slippery fish for her job, but when you get her, Natasha, she’s in herself, which is kind of cool… A Black Widow movie? That would be cool. I am always happy to put the catsuit back on.
On story arcs in Avengers: Age of Ultron…
Robert Downey Jr.: Hawkeye has a heck of an arc this time.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson: It was great to dive into Mark Ruffalo’s character, to see such a sensibility in that beast.
Elizabeth Olsen: My favourite moment is the first time we watch Black Widow talk down the Hulk.
On the possibility of a Hulk movie…
Mark Ruffalo: [to Joss Whedon] Do you want to tell them?
Joss Whedon: No, you go.
Mark Ruffalo: I can’t.
Joss Whedon: Sorry, it’s too amazing!
Avengers: Age of Ultron is out in cinemas from 23rd April 2015.
Joss Whedon’s rambunctious sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron offers action and entertainment in spades. It does not quite reach the giddy heights of its predecessor, yet Avengers: Age of Ultron is still a great superhero movie.
When Tony Stark sees an opportunity to enact a peace-keeping programme, the Avengers are faced with a new threat: Ultron. Hellbent on destruction, the team must stop the villain at all costs…
Avengers Assemble established the band of warriors, with several of the characters meeting for the first time. With this necessary initiation taken care of by the first film, Avengers: Age of Ultron can concentrate on action and narrative progression. However, there is still focus on the group dynamic, albeit in a more nuanced framework.
The activities and relationships within the group are central to Avengers: Age of Ultron. On the one hand, this provides much of the films comic relief; familiarity breeds friendly ribbing. On the other hand, there is a frictional aspect, particularly in terms of the protagonists trusting one another. This is a theme continued from the first movie, and relationships are just as important here. Furthermore, there is also a feeling of sowing the seeds for future instalments.
Like most superhero films, the plot of Avengers: Age of Ultron ensures that there is plenty at stake for not just for the protagonists, but for the world at large. This instalment handles this on an extravagant scale, with the heroes facing a threat as menacing as the first film, but which operates in an even more malignant way. Ideas of privacy, residual cold war, and the perils of technology are wrapped up neatly in the film’s antagonist.
The introduction of two new characters, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff add an interesting dimension to the film. Avengers: Age of Ultron treads further into the background of some of the main characters, fleshing them out as human as well as heroes. Whilst some character development in the film looks backwards, other aspects indicate what may be to come in future instalments.
The film begins with a high-octane opening sequence. From this point, pacing dips and rises, although not as successfully as in the first film. Avengers: Age of Ultron would have benefitted slightly from tighter editing. Special effects are as superb as ever, and performances are good all round. Robert Downey Jr. slips comfortably back into his Tony Stark persona, whilst Jeremy Renner is given more depth to his character.
It hardly seems feasible that Avengers: Age of Ultron was going match the excitement of the first film. Nevertheless, the film is a worthy successor which should satisfy audiences.
New trailers for The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus were released earlier this week. With the latest trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man being released last night, this has been a bumper week for blockbuster trailers. All we need now is something from new James Bond movie Skyfall…
Moonrise Kingdom is the eagerly anticipated new film from Wes Anderson. The film boasts a stellar cast that includes Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton. Moonrise Kingdom is about two children who fall in love during the summer of 1965. The film is released on 25th May 2012.
The Amazing Spider-Man
The third trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man was released last night. The trailer reveals more of an emphasis on Peter Parker’s parents than the previous run of Spiderman films. Although the trailer looks good, The Amazing Spider-Man has been sandwiched between two superhero behemoths; Avengers Assemble has already done record-breaking business while The Dark Knight Rises is due for release two weeks after Spider-Man. Notwithstanding, given the popularity of this character, The Amazing Spider-Man is sure to bring in the crowds when it opens on 4th July 2012.
I am not sure what Magic Mike is supposed to be, other than based on Channing Tatum’s former career as a stripper. Steven Soderbergh’s film could have been a male version of Showgirls, but instead seems to have a strong romantic string to the story. Channing Tatum showed off his comedy chops in 21 Jump Street, so hopefully these will shine through in Magic Mike. Also starring Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConughey, Magic Mike is out in cinemas on 13th July 2012.
The only thing you need to know about this film is that Dolly Parton in it. But if you want to know more, the film is about church choir group who enter a competition with new director Vi Rose (Queen Latifah) at the helm. The arrival of Randy (Jeremy Jordan), the grandson of G.G. Sparrow (Dolly Parton) shakes things up. Joyful Noise is released on 29th June 2012.
There is still some time to go before the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises is unleashed (4th May, to be shown before The Avengers in US cinemas). I am trying to avoid the TDKR scoops/spoilers like the plague. In the mean time, here is some stuff on other upcoming releases.
Dark Shadows is out in cinemas on 11th may 2012 and I am really looking forward to it. Warner Brothers have released this fun featurette about vampire history and the film’s televisual past. Dark Shadows is Tim Burton’s first film since 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. The director also has Frankenweenie coming out later this year.
It’s all about the build up to the trailer nowadays. It was announced yesterday that a brand new trailer for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus would air on television during Homeland on Sunday evening. I might have to wait a little longer than that, as I don’t actually watch Homeland. While we wait for that, here is a short featurette on Prometheus and Ridley Scott. Prometheus is out on 1st June 2012.
The Dictator is due for release on 18th May 2012. Sacha Baron Cohen is stepping up promotion for the film, which will hopefully bring the laughs. Above is footage of an Australian television interview with Cohen (in character). Needless to say, there are some silly jibes.
Snow White and the Huntsman
After Mirror Mirror was surprisingly good, Snow White and the Hunstman needs to step up its game. Above is the latest TV spot for the film. I am really looking forward to the film because I like fairy tales and Charlize Theron looks like an amazing Queen. The Florence + The Machine song ‘Breath of Life’, which features in the film, can be heard here. Snow White and the Huntsman is released on 1st June, with previews from the 31st May 2012.
Rock of Ages
I for one am hoping that Rock of Ages will be the hot mess Burlesque was supposed to be. It has all the right ingredients; Tom Cruise as an ageing rocker, an eighties rock soundtrack boasting Journey and Def Leppard, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I have never seen the musical, but I am looking forward to seeing the film. You can view the trailer here. Rock of Ages will open on 15th June 2012.
So many things could have gone wrong with Avengers Assemble. Thankfully all fears can be allayed as Avengers Assemble is a fantastic film.
Nick Fury is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., an international peacekeeping agency that includes some of the most deadly agents on the planet. When the future of humanity is threatened by Loki, brother of Thor, Fury assembles The Avengers. Together, these superheroes must defend the planet…
With their after-credit stings and references to other characters in the Marvel sphere, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger et al. were all building to this point. Avengers Assemble does not disappoint; it will likely be remembered as one of the most enjoyable films of 2012.
Joss Whedon and co-writer Zak Penn have created a film that hits all the right notes. The story is well crafted; it is a simple enough premise that offers universal appeal. What works so well is the way the various characters come together. Each of the Avengers is offered sufficient screen time so that it never feels as if one is taking precedent.
Avengers Assemble is well paced and never drags, despite its almost two and a half hour running time. The final third is particularly successful, which is testament to Whedon’s directing skills. The film is peppered with humour. This works exceptionally well, with the comedy providing an effective balance for the critical nature of the action.
Production values are faultless. Costuming and production design highlight the more fantastical elements of the film. The effects are great, especially in the opening sequence and the final showdown. The Hulk’s transformation also appears more authentic than in some of the previous incarnations. The score compliments the film perfectly.
Mark Ruffalo is excellent as Bruce Banner. Playing the role for the first time, Ruffalo appears natural, and is well cast. Robert Downey Jr. brings the charm and humour as Tony Stark, much like the previous two Iron Man films. Tom Hiddleston makes a fantastic antagonist as Loki, reprising his role from Thor.
Avengers Assemble is a must-see for those who love good blockbusters. Marvel fans should be thrilled by what Joss Whedon has created.
This week saw the release of the first trailer of Frankenweenie, one of my most anticipated films of the year. Also included is the new Avengers Assemble trailer, Neighbourhood Watch and The Dictator.
I used to be a huge Tim Burton fan. I even wrote a dissertation on his films. More recently, like many, I have found the proliferation of remakes a little tiresome. Although it is also a remake, at least Frankenweenie is Burton remaking his own work. The original short film can be found on The Nightmare Before Christmas DVD. From the above trailer, Frankenweenie looks like quintessential Burton, with a noticeable reference to the Universal Frankenstein films. Frankenweenie is released on 5th October 2012.
The Avengers has had a name change; it is now Avengers Assemble. The full trailer was released earlier this week, and gives us an insight into the film’s plot. Avengers Assemble features Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, the third actor to play this role in the last nine years. Nevertheless, there is continuity with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson all returning. Avengers Assemble is out on 26th April 2012.
This trailer has been floating around for a while, but with Sasha Baron Cohen’s Oscars appearance I thought I would share it. The Dictator features Baron Cohen doing his usual caricature thing. This time, however, the subject matter is more resonant with current affairs. No doubt there will be thematic parallels with the Middle East uprising. The Dictator is released on 16th May 2012.
Neighbourhood Watch is a new comedy starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Not sure where Owen Wilson is on this one. Instead, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade round up the leads. The film is the first major Hollywood role for Ayoade. The film is about a neighbourhood watch group seemingly overstating their importance in suburbia. Neighbourhood Watch is out on 24th August 2012.
This week has seen the release of trailers for some of this year’s biggest movies. If you have missed them, here is a quick recap…
Last week’s Super Bowl saw the premiere of the new trailer of The Avengers. The clip reveals the band of heroes from the Marvel universe. Spiderman is noticeably absent, although the clip below illustrates why one of Marvel’s most famous characters does not seem to appear. Although the trailer is short, it seems that Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk take centre stage. It will be interesting to see the role Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye will play, as one of the lesser known superheroes. The Avengers is released on 27th April 2012.
The Amazing Spider-Man
It was clearly Marvel trailer release week. The Amazing Spider-Man trailer was revealed earlier in the week, to much excitement. The first thing that sprung to mind was that it looks a bit CGI-heavy, much like 2002’s Spider-Man (the effects of which now look quite dated). The Amazing Spider-Man is being filmed in 3D, so perhaps the effects will look more seamless in this format. The aspect which is appealing at the moment is the casting of leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. The Amazing Spider-Man is due for release on 4th July 2012.
The Bourne Legacy
The Bourne series is one that I need to revisit. I liked the first film, but need to watch the two sequels again to solidify my opinion on them. This summer a new instalment is released, with Jeremy Renner taking over from Matt Damon. The trailer for The Bourne Legacy is a rather stylish affair for the first half, before the more traditional reveal of scenes. After his appearance in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol last year and The Avengers this year, Jeremy Renner is fast becoming the go to guy for big action blockbusters. The Bourne Legacy is out on 15th August 2012.
Captain America: The First Avenger ticks all the boxes as far as comic book movies go. Whilst the film does not elevate itself above other good movies in the genre, it is at least distinguishable for its setting.
Despite his slight frame, plucky Steve Rogers is determined to enlist in the US army to fight the Nazis in Europe. Rogers is turned down four times, but still has his heart set on serving his country. At his fifth attempt, an army doctor sees the potential in Rogers and invites him to take part in an experiment to make him a super soldier…
Captain America: The First Avenger follows a fairly standard formula, in terms of Marvel origin stories. Sufficient time is allowed for the protagonist to develop before any super powers are introduced. A familiar narrative then follows, as the hero fights to save the day. The emphasis lies firmly on Rogers, his antagonist and other characters are undoubtedly secondary to his story. Unlike many other superhero films, little time is spent cultivating an origin story for the villain. Instead, Johann Schmidt’s story is told by brief flashbacks and expository dialogue.
Setting the film during World War II works exceptionally well. The patriotism angle is very effective, in a way which would not have been in a contemporary-set film. Captain America is after all the quintessentially American superhero, so it makes sense for him to appear at the most patriotic of periods. This is captured well by the wartime posters and stage shows, as well as his appearance in comic books, which is self-reflexive to say the least.
Joe Johnston directs Captain America with the fluidity it needs. Action sequences are bold and a lot of fun. The more serious or emotional moments are handled with care, but thankfully these are never dwelled upon too much. The film posits a very straightforward battle between good and evil at the centre, which is what this hero is all about.
Special effects in the movie work well, as does the sound. The soundtrack is also very in keeping with the 1940s setting. The use of 3D in the film is appropriate. It serves a purpose, balancing between overly gimmicky and hardly noticeable.
Chris Evans makes a great Captain America, fitting the bill of how this superhero should appear. Hugo Weaving is uncompromisingly bad as Schmidt, while Toby Jones is great as assistant Dr Zola. Tommy Lee Jones makes a convincing colonel, and Hayley Atwell looks perfectly of the period. Sebastian Stan is a welcome addition as Bucky.
It will be interesting to see how the character functions in The Avengers movie, but Captain America: The First Avenger is very entertaining as a stand alone film.