Spider-Man: Homecoming


Viewed – 05 December 2017  Online-rental

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. 

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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.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

A Scanner Darkly


Viewed – 23 October 2009  DVD

Wow.  This was a wierd one.  I rented this as I felt I had been neglecting the career of my favourite actress, namely Winona Ryder, and had heard many positive things about this sci-fi yarn based on a Philip K Dick short story, and co-starring Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr.  Now one of the immediate points of interest in this movie is it’s animated ‘look’, a process where the whole movie is actually filmed with regular actors, locations etc … then given an animated post-processing style to create the look of an animated movie.  This being my only experience of such a process, I have to say it is both startling and bonkers.

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Keanu Reeves plays an undercover cop in a not-too-distant future who becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity as a result.  This was a difficult film to like for several reasons, firstly it has a group of mostly unlikable odd-ball characters that I guess are meant to be lovable loosers but come off more as annoying loosers, with no direction but screwing each other over, and secondly Keanu wears a wierd disguise that hides his identity, which is an interesting but mind-bending effect showing the character’s appearance changing every second.  Now apart from the obvious visual style that does earn this movie a viewing recommendation, the story is confusing and rather bland, with not much point or purpose, apart from a well warn image of drug-culture that can’t hold a hat to the likes of Trainspotting or Drugstore Cowboy.   The ending is mystifying too.  Acting wise all do a fine job with the material with Keanu and Winona especially standing out, but it’s the visuals here that pack the greatest punch, and some of the imagery and ideas are amazing – but sadly the story they surround isn’t.

verdict:  2 /5