Spiderman: Homecoming Review – The Spider Kid earns his Marvel stripes

First of all, I would like to clear right away that I am not a Spiderman fan. Neither the Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire trilogy nor the Marc Webb-Andrew Garfield made me connect for whatever reasons with the friendly neighbourhood superhero. The only media I enjoyed him was cartoons and comics. With Marvel acquiring him, there was the golden opportunity and Captain America: Civil War gave a brilliant teaser of what was to come. On a personal level, I finally fell in love with the web slinger after this film.

Spiderman always needed a colourful, charming tone and Marvel exactly fits the bill. The music for Marvel Studios along with the animation right at the beginning shows what is to follow. Homecoming maintains a long-distance relationship with the larger MCU. Even the much-hyped partnership with Iron Man is surprisingly maintained at a very minimal level. Robert Downey Jr. never steals anything significant from his son-like protege and the story allows for the most famous Marvel superhero to blossom.

Tom Holland as Spiderman

Tom Holland does a tremendous job in the role as he deals with his alter-ego’s responsibilities of a teenager. Another key aspect of Spiderman is the fun aspect and in typical Marvel fashion, the movie delivers in spades. There are scenes that would even make Joss Whedon proud when it comes to witty humour, be it about his powers, problems and in action sequences.

Michael Keaton does a commendable job as a villain and is one of the better Marvel villains till date. In recent films, there has been a visible effort to make the MCU global and Homecoming has a strong Asian presence including Peter’s best friend. There are a couple of surprising cameos and Jon Favreau gets good screen time as the likeable Happy Hogan.

Michael Keaton

The action sequences are fun and the stakes at all times are smaller than saving the world. However, they involve human risk and suits well with Peter Parker’s arc in the film. While all emotional moments do not resonate to the extent one would expect, Spiderman as a do-gooder with grit, righteousness and bravado stand out amidst the fun.

Jon Watts does a great job in bringing the character into the MCU and the screenplay is one of the biggest assets of the film. The movie races ahead at all times as both Peter Parker and Spiderman deal with their respective issues. This dual focus is well-written and there is never more of extra focus on either of the alter-egos, which is a good thing. One can understand the stakes for both the kid and the superhero at every point and the brisk pace helps the film massively.

Spiderman Ferry scene

Finally, almost every movie in any franchise that does not have a need to set-up something next always tend to do well. Doctor Strange and Ant-Man are the best recent examples in the MCU. Spiderman:Homecoming is the perfect homecoming for Spiderman into the MCU with a vulnerable Peter Parker who is not bogged down by his responsibilties for a change. Instead, he is just a young teen trying to make a change.

Overall, it is not a perfect film by any means but offers a whole lot of entertainment while bringing Marvel’s most beloved character into the MCU. After all, Marvel’s focus and success has always been entertainment. Then, who better to deliver it than your friendly neighbourhood hero with a befitting background score.

Note – Wait out for the end-credits scene. It is totally worth it and shows why Marvel still has the audience eating out of their hands!

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Logan review : Fare thee well!

Long before Robert Downey Jr. made Iron Man/Tony Stark his own, long before the Avengers put their mark on respective characters, and even before Christian Bale became the definitive Batman, Hugh Jackman became the Wolverine in Bryan Singer’s X-Men in 2000. Since then, he has played the role in seven installments including the latest one and uncredited cameos in two more.  Hence, for someone who initiated the era of a  single actor owning a superhero character, it is a pretty difficult task to send him riding into the sunset. However, James Mangold’s Logan not only delivers a gripping farewell to the popular character, but also puts out a fresh and interesting superhero story,thereby becoming the best Wolverine movie yet and also one of the best superhero movies ever.

The movie, drawing from the Old Man Logan comics, portrays the character beyond his prime, with weakening powers including slowed healing ability, a limp and the attitude of a person, which his dear friend and mentor Charles Xavier attributes as “waiting to die”. His life goes for a toss when the little girl Laura enters and from then the movie becomes an engaging drama for a pleasant change as we witness the emotions of a broken man who cannot stay away from protecting the people he cares for, and while doing so always leaves behind a trail of bodies, including innocent ones.

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It is in these moments built up throughout the film and the way we see Wolverine in his absolute bloody glory in the climax, the soul of the character and the essence of a superhero are both captured simultaneously. Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character has always been top-notch but the stories told previously always left everyone wanting. However, this time around, the script helps Jackman finally elevate the character and the Australian actor puts on a performance of a lifetime showing the depth of Wolverine’s pathos and angst while never backing down from a fight no matter the odds.

Further, the true essence of a superhero does not lie in his/her powers, instead it lies in their ability to keep fighting for the good cause despite age, failings and situations. Logan manages to drive home the point with aplomb and that is the biggest victory for the film. The action sequences do not disappoint and it is fair to say the brutal nature of Wolverine’s offence is helped immensely by the “R” rating. For this, the film makers and fans are indebted to “Deadpool”, that broke through the rating barrier last year. The rating allows for some amazing Wolverine-esque action that could not be shown before and also gives Hugh Jackman the freedom in showcasing Logan’s feelings. A good point about the movie is that the rating has not been misused in any way and instead, it helps in enhancing the story.

Logan Empire 4K

The movie does well to flesh out Laura’s character slowly and gives us a little glimpse of how Wolverine could have been as a child while Patrick Stewart plays an ancient Charles with ease. The background score by Marco Beltrami maintains the sober tone throughout with the required flare-ups during the melees. On  the flip side, the movie does slow down a bit in the middles but the payday for those scenes at the end makes up for it.

James Mangold got the character right in his previous film, “The Wolverine”, but could not connect it well to the audience. He rectified it this time around and the occasional references to the past and the little odes to the character through the comic books and cigars work well. Overall, Hugh Jackman lays down the blueprint for his counterparts when they film their swansongs, and in case he never ever dons the claws again (never say never), then it is time to say thank you for making a popular character iconic and he will forever be remembered as the Wolverine!

“I am the best at what I do, but what I do is not very nice”

 

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YNWA

 

Doctor Strange Review – TV Sherlock’s magical entry into Marvel Cinematic Universe

The first fundamental reason Marvel’s juggernaut continues to be so successful in spite of the avalanche of superhero movies in the last decade is the casting. Starting from Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man (2008) to Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, the casting has been perfect. Cumberbatch and Downey played Sherlock on TV and film respectively because there is none in the industry better than them for portraying a brilliant and arrogant individual. So, it is perfectly logical for Cumberbatch to play the role of Dr. Strange which has a similar personality as that of Sherlock and Tony Stark.

Coming to the movie, Marvel continues to make origin stories work by making the necessary tweaks in its approach so that there always remains a freshness to the film. Doctor Strange remains fresh in spite of the many memories it evokes. The magic reminds of Harry Potter, the personality of Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, the character arc of Iron Man’s, the cloak of Aladdin’s magic carpet and the visuals of Christopher Nolan’s Inception. And yet, the movie does not overplay any of those and has its heart at the right place.

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While the story remains similar to other origin stories, the way in which the story is told keeps it different from the ones before. Cumberbatch holds the audience’s gaze every time he is on-screen and portrays the supreme confidence, deep pathos and the transformation with conviction. Director Scott Derrickson who co-wrote the script patiently builds the character and at the end of the movie, ensures Strange has a long way to go to become the Sorcerer Supreme.

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The visuals deserve a special mention. While the memories of Inception are understandable, it is fair to say Doctor Strange comes on top. In fact, this is the first Marvel movie that is actually worthy of watching in 3D. The action sequences in varying dimensions are one of the best pieces of visual work ever.

If there is one department Marvel continues to struggle, it is their villains. Their casting has never been a problem with top actors taking up the role (in this case Mads Mikkelsen), it is the lack of depth to them that is hurting. In this movie, Mikkelsen plays the antagonist without leaving a mark of any sort on the audience. One of the biggest reasons, Civil War worked so well is the pitting of heroes whose characters are fully developed against one another which ensured the audience could connect to them.

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All in all, Doctor Strange opens Marvel’s doors to magic with a visually stunning film. The first half keeps you hooked throughout while the second half is predictable in terms of story and yet manages to keep you engaged. Marvel has tried to shy away from the traditional climaxes with a different one here that may not be to everyone’s liking. The mid-credits scene thrills every Marvel fan while the post-credits scene sets up the next part.

Doctor Strange does make one think whether an upcoming origin story might be the first failure they might encounter due to the common plot. However, they keep offering something different and till they keep doing that, they are unstoppable.