Of all the super-heroes, ol’ Spidy has had some trouble finding sure footing in recent years and for me, there hasn’t been a decent Spidy movie since the second Toby Maguire entry. However after an enjoyable (if unnecessary) cameo in Captain America: Civil War, the web-slinger has returned in probably one his best received movies since the Sam Raimi directed original.
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is under the watchful eye of billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) aka Iron-Man and so wants to be an official part of The Avengers, not just someone you call on when you’re in a bit of a fix. So he’s out to prove himself after he witnesses some advanced, out of this world (literally) weapon technology being used by petty thugs. Turns out there’s a ruthless arms dealer in town who dresses like a robotic vulture.
There’s several things that don’t sit right with me here. Firstly the constant bumbling, representation of such a beloved character grates after a while, and then his characterisation, without an origin tale or any personal tragedy, is wafer-thin and not something to get all-that caught up in. Same goes for Michael Keaton’s Vulture, a rather pathetic former salvage worker annoyed by being put out of work by Tony Stark’s bank-rolled clean-up crew following the events of the first Avengers movie, who decides to steal alien technology so to become an arms dealer. There’s no personal tragedy other than the inconvenience of having to find work elsewhere, and therefore little reason behind what he’s doing other than greed and being a bit of a psychopath. So what else do we get? Holland is likeable and well cast as Parker/Spidy, and Keaton is also good despite limited material. We also get some decent action, including a great sequence at the Washington Monument, and some support characters are fun. Yet overall this greatly lacks depth and feels like a pilot for a TV show or the opening chapter of a bigger, better story. I’m guessing that’s the idea … so bring on the inevitable, superior sequel! After two reboots of ‘meh’ quality however, it’d take something special to get me back on-board.
When a movie has a good cast, it can make it one to see regardless of subject matter. However a good time isn’t guaranteed as I realised watching Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy. Thankfully this isn’t the case here. George Clooney plays a politician in running for President and with one more state to win over it is up to his campaign team to make him look good. However when a potential scandal emerges, it’s up to his best team member (Ryan Gosling) to make it go away.
Co-starring such talents as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Marisa Tomei … this is gritty and stylish, peppered with sharp dialogue and cool, classy direction from George Clooney who plays a perfectly believable clean-cut Politician sporting plenty of arrogance. Gosling, as with the earlier Drive is again great, naive but also ruthless in his goals. I also totally love Seymour Hoffman in anything, and he doesn’t disappoint here.
A big plot development towards the end left me a little confused, but that is all I can really say against this, as for a movie about a subject I know very little about – this proved surprisingly absorbing and comes highly recommended.
Director Darren Aronofsky certainly grabbed my attention earlier in the year with the stunning Black Swan, even if I feel he was robbed at Awards time. Never the less, I was immediately intrigued as to what he had done previously, and naturally this much acclaimed sports drama caught my eye. An ageing professional wrestler Randy ‘the ram’ Johnson (Mickey Rourke) lives for the celebrity status and the persona granted to him in the ring, but when a near-death experience forces him into well-overdue retirement, he begins to re-evaluate what’s important in his life … starting with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood).
I wasn’t really planning on seeing this, but the movie I had gone to see had been cancelled due to a faulty print. So I am glad to report that this was a pleasant surprise. John C Reilly plays a bachelor still hung up on his ex-wife who meets a vivacious woman at a party (Marisa Tomei), and sparks fly, with them both soon ending up in bed together. Yet this woman has a 22 year old son called Cyrus, who John at first befriends. But it isn’t long until we discover that Cyrus has no intentions of allowing this man into his and his mother’s life, and plots to split them up.
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