Tag: Superhero

Spider-Man (PS4 game) review

Developer: Insomniac Games

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Game played on: PS4

Release Date: September 7, 2018


Spider-Man has a long and overall fairly successful run in the video game medium. I’ve played my fair share of Spider-Man games all the way from the beat ’em up PS1 games to the widely acclaimed Spider-Man 2 for the PS2. That game was widely considered to be the best Spider-Man game ever. Until now that is, for a new challenger has emerged to claim the title.

Straight up, this is not only the best Spider-Man game, not only one of the best superhero games ever, but it’s one of the best games so far of this generation. Insomniac Games stepped up to the plate and delivered on all fronts. What the Arkham games did for Batman, this game has done for Spider-Man.

The player has never been this immersed into the life of Spider-Man before. The most important and present aspect of gameplay, web-slinging, is perfect here. There’s true momentum, it’s fast, requires good timing and genuine skill while never being too difficult, and most importantly: it’s fun. There are fast travel options in the game, but navigating the city is so fun that I usually didn’t take them. Truly skilled players will probably be able to free roam for hours without touching the ground. Combat is similarly challenging but fun. It takes clear inspiration from the Arkham games, with a mixture of stealth and brawling while also feeling like its own thing. In the Arkham games, disarming opponents with guns was a necessity to live, here you can dodge and dance around enemies on the ground and in the air, using your fists, web-shooters, and other gadgets you’ll get throughout the game. There’s also a Ubisoft open world game inspired upgrade system to improve your combat and web-slinging abilities. You can also upgrade various Spidey gadgets you’ll acquire as you play, but you’ll need more than just experience to do that. There’s a lot to experiment and have fun with. It was a little disappointing to see Insomniac added towers to the game, which reveal side activities and collectibles on the map. While thankfully climbing them is not necessary, you have to go through a tedious process of moving your joysticks into the right positions in order to get the right frequency and fix them. There was no reason to add them other than to give the player more work to do. I know some people will complain about the quick time events, but I’ll argue they work here. They never take up a majority of the gameplay, you always have ample time to complete them, and some of them won’t even penalize you with failure (the side mission ones). They also come in different styles, so tedium never becomes a problem. Their execution fits with the kinetic pace of the gameplay.

You won’t only play as Spider-Man, but also Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales. Their gameplay segments consist entirely of stealth and hacking. Playing as them, while having flashes of entertainment, was not nearly as fun as being Spider-Man. The stealth is clumsy and too easy, due to the enemy AI being easily exploitable. Gameplay mechanics such as hacking enemy drones, distracting enemies, or tasering them are underutilized and shallow. They’re just not challenging or fun gameplay sections, except for one of them where you get to play with both Spider-Man and Mary Jane. Puzzles are included in all three character moments to break up the tedium, and will require some brainwork to solve. Due to them also giving the player extra experience and tokens for upgrading gadgets in some cases, these are welcome deviations from normal gameplay.

The game’s story is probably the best Spider-Man story in recent memory. He’s been subjected to a slew of bad writers and story arcs in the comics, becoming a shadow of his former self. Here, Insomniac actually progresses Peter Parker as a character in meaningful ways. He’s been Spider-Man for eight years in this continuity, is no longer with the Daily Bugle, and has a new list of responsibilities and problems to deal with. The events of the game test Parker physically and mentally as tries to balance his normal life with his superhero life. It has the atmosphere and pacing of a well written comic book storyline, where the stakes slowly build up to an emotional and exciting third act. Yet this is no lighthearted adventure, but one where Peter and his friends suffer from genuine tragedy. Even the villains have suffered loss, and are trying to rectify the wrongs they’ve endured. It’s a surprisingly somber affair, and it ends on an optimistic but bittersweet note. No spoilers, but the main villain of this game is now my favorite iteration of that character in any Spider-Man continuity. Their arc is extremely tragic, and I felt exactly what Peter was feeling as they were forced to bring them down.

There are a ton of side missions to do. Some involve collecting items for yourself or side characters, while others are more involved, such as tailing someone being blackmailed, or trying to find a fake Spider-Man who is fighting crimes on their own. There’s always something to do, and they’re a good way of getting experience and tokens to upgrade your gear and unlock new costumes with special powers. They just stay away from repetitiveness by giving you the chance to show off your abilities, and giving some info on Spidey and side characters’ pasts.

There are also some absolutely outstanding boss battles in this game, while others are on the okay side. The weakest one really doesn’t require anything other than reading his pattern and good reaction timing, but the best challenge every skill you have and everything you’ve learned.

The visuals and presentation are nothing short of phenomenal. Facial and body animations during gameplay and cutscenes are excellent. The transitions between the two is often seamless, never taking you out of the moment. Yuri Lowenthal sets a new benchmark for his vocal performance as Spider-Man, showing off exceptional range and reminding you why he’s one of the best voice actors in the business. The framerate is smooth and I didn’t have a single slowdown while playing. The cutscenes are as professional as scenes you’d see in a Marvel movie or high budget TV show. I did encounter one annoying bug where a character stopped speaking, forcing me to restart the level, but nothing else comes to mind.

A nice touch that many will be happy with is the ability to choose your own costume. Find the newest suit not to your liking? Just switch back to the classic one. As mentioned before, they have special abilities, but you can attach those abilities to any suit you choose. It’s just good that Insomniac lets the player have such an option.

Spider-Man is a fantastic game that anyone can enjoy. Even people who aren’t Spidey fans will find something to enjoy here. It may not be perfect, but I would absolutely jump at the chance of a sequel, which going by the end credits scenes, there will definitely be one. In the meantime, there will be DLC on the way as early as next month. Looking forward to it.

Score: 8/10



Deadpool 2 review

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Kesey

Release date: May 18, 2018


After Deadpool’s success, a sequel was obviously going to happen. Hell, the first movie’s after credits scene said they were going to do one. I was eagerly awaiting the release of Deadpool 2, which had just as much of a hilarious and creative marketing campaign as the original. After thinking it over, I have come to the conclusion that Deadpool 2 manages to surpass the first one, despite being more inconsistent overall.

Deadpool 2 begins sometime after the first one, with Wade now working as a contract killer going after the worst humanity has to offer. Eventually, he crosses paths with Cable, a time traveler from the future who’s come to kill a young mutant named Russel. I’m giving a detailed summary as the plot of this movie genuinely took me by surprise at many points, even in the first ten minutes approximately. The plot moves at an exciting pace and is always giving you something new to enjoy. I honestly had no idea where it was going to go, and ended up being surprised at every turn. That being said what it has in surprises and exciting moments it lacks in consistency and a tight structure. It feels all over the place at times. There is for the most part a connective tissue, but some odd editing likely from reshoots can give one a feeling that they missed a scene when they haven’t left the theater for a second.

The new side characters of Domino and Cable really give Ryan Reynolds and the movie itself more opportunities and material for humor. Cable plays as the straight man to Deadpool’s ridiculous personality and antics while Domino’s power of “luck” makes for some of the most entertaining scenes of the film, which itself lampshades that her power doesn’t make for a very cinematic experience, but then we see that it actually really does.

Deadpool 2 also ups the ante with its action scenes. I thought the first one peaked too early in this regard, not the case for the sequel. The action scenes are always consistently entertaining, creative, and violent. The high point comes during the film’s second act, where an absolutely exciting and nonstop thrill of a convoy chase sequence takes place. Each of the main characters get to shine with creative displays of their powers and abilities. The beginning of the film also has a hilarious and violent montage of Deadpool going on contract killings. The film further enhances its action scenes by being visually better looking with more creative and dynamic camerawork. Getting one of the John Wick directors to replace Tim Miller was definitely a wise choice after Miller left due to creative differences with Ryan Reynolds. He did a great job with the first one, but David Leitch for the most part managed to surpass him where it mattered.

Performances from the cast, especially the new additions are great pretty much across the board. Ryan Reynolds is still nailing it, Josh Brolin is a perfect Cable, Zazie Beetz as Domino is fun, likable, and gets a lot to do, and Julian Dennison as Russel is hilariously rude. T.J. Miller however is again the weak link that could’ve been cut from the film, and if they make a third one they should just forget his character ever existed. The humor is also more frequent, which results in it not always hitting its mark like the first one, but when the jokes do hit they hit harder as well. The joke involving the regular guy Peter is especially funny. Yet the film still manages to save its best joke for last during the credits sequence, which instead of hinting at future movies to come will have you clutching your gut in laughter and serves as catharsis.

Deadpool 2 is a messier sequel than the first one, but it also manages to be funnier, have more compelling stakes and character growth as well. The first one was pretty good, but the sequel honestly manages to surpass it in spite of its flaws. If you were a fan of the first one, you’ll definitely want to see this one.

Score: 8/10

Deadpool review

Director: Tim Miller

Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T. J. Miller, Stefan Capicic, Ed Skrein, Brianna Hildebrand, Gina Carano, Leslie Uggans

Released: February 12, 2016


Deadpool was the most entertaining comic book movie of 2016. Yes, that year had stinkers like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, but it also had the excellent Captain America: Civil War. It wasn’t the first R rated comic book movie ever made, but it was by far the most successful of its time. The plot of Deadpool is not anything groundbreaking. At its core it’s a standard superhero origin story you’ve seen told before. We see Wade Wilson before he has his powers, there’s a love interest, a rather bland villain, Wade gets his powers and must find his place in the world with them. What manages to salvage the by the numbers plot is its delivery and how the characters interact with each other.

Deadpool gleefully takes full advantage of its R rating to enhance its plot. The humor is crass and raunchy, with sex and dick jokes galore. The humor also takes fire at superheroes, superhero movie conventions, the various cinematic universes studios are pumping out today, actors, and many others. No one is safe from this movie’s satirical knives. Deadpool managed to breathe fresh life into the market that it sorely needed.
Deadpool also makes sure to take advantage of its R rating for the action scenes. People have their heads chopped off, get blown up, and have their bodies eviscerated in all manner of gruesome ways. It is refreshing to see a superhero movie just go all out with insane violence. The violence is also very well choreographed and directed, with a mixture of practical stunt work and effective CGI. The action unfortunately peaks rather early, as after the highway sequence the film never manages to reach the same level of intensity and creativity.

Ryan Reynolds is perfect for the role of Deadpool. He manages to walk the line between funny and obnoxious without straying into the latter. His fourth wall breaking jokes are always well delivered, and he has likable side characters to play off of. The love story between him and Morena Baccarin’s character is lovably raunchy and crass, in comparison to other bland romances in superhero movies. The dynamics between him, Colossus, and a blind old lady named Al played by Leslie Uggams keep the humor fresh and new, thanks to the tried and true combination of the straight man working with the quirky character. The only side character that could be pegged as the weak link is T.J. Miller’s. He just serves to make jokes at the expense of Deadpool’s cancer ridden face. He’s not terrible or even bad, but is just an average presence in a movie full of good and funny characters.

A comedy movie such as this needs to be very tightly paced in order to prevent the audience from getting annoyed by the characters, and a character like Deadpool runs a serious risk of this happening. Thankfully the movie doesn’t outstay its welcome and both satisfies you while leaving you feeling like you’re hungry for more. A feeling every movie should strive for.

Deadpool helped fend off comic book movie fatigue by being fresh and different. Not necessarily different in every way, but different in the ways that matter. I’ll admit it did go down half a point upon second viewing due to the plot’s delivery not feeling as fresh the second time around, but still, if you want proof comic book movies still have plenty of room to be creative, look no further than this film. I’ll get to the sequel sometime later.

Score: 7.5/10

Avengers: Infinity War review


Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Josh Brolin, Chris Hemsworth, Chadwick Boseman, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Scarlet Johansson, Dave Bautista, Don Cheadle, Christopher Mackie, etc.

Released: April 27, 2018

The expectations for Avengers: Infinity War were astronomical. What Marvel did in The Avengers back in 2012, they now had to do on an even grander scale with a decade’s worth of characters and plot threads that had been in the making. It should be an impossible task. Key phrase being “should be”, because they pulled it off. Holy crap did they pull it off. Mostly.

Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of everything that has been built up since the first Avengers film. Thanos is finally getting his hands dirty and is making his move to obtain all the Infinity Stones. His goal: to wipe out half the universe. As he moves everywhere from space to earth, searching for the Infinity Stones and dealing with his own familial issues and inner conflict, the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy have to unite to stop him. A whole decade’s worth of characters come together for one of the most explosive movies in the MCU’s history.

Thanos is absolutely magnificent in this film with Josh Brolin proving to be a perfect fit for the role. People have been joking about how all he does is sit on his chair and boss people around while he had yet to get one stone, here he realizes that if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. He’s actually the main character of the movie, as the film places a majority of focus on his search for the stones and his motivation. Thanos is no cartoonish, muahahaha villain. He is a genuinely complex and nuanced character. He sincerely believes what he is doing is right, and has moments of guilt and remorse over what he is doing. His relationship with his “daughter” Gamora is fascinating and extremely tragic to watch play out, as Thanos clearly does care about her in a very twisted way but also will hurt her emotionally and physically for the sake of his ambition. He is intelligent, cruel, and merciful all at once. Marvel had a great villain with Killmonger back in Black Panther, and they managed to match or arguably top him with Thanos.

Avengers: Infinity War is the first superhero movie since The Avengers to feel like an epic. The scope of its plot is massive, the stakes are on a universal scale, spanning across space itself and having a massive cast portraying larger than life characters. The plot is admittedly more of a vehicle for character interactions and gigantic action set pieces, but those two elements are so well handled that it hardly matters if at all. You care about these characters after watching them grow and learn from a decade’s worth of storylines and it is a blast to see characters that have never interacted before or haven’t interacted in years finally meet face to face.

A surprise is how dark the tone of Infinity War is. The very first scene is of Thanos and his followers in the aftermath of massacring the surviving Asgardians from Thor: Ragnarok, and it is horrific in its brutality. It’s not like the first two DCEU movies where the tone was so dark with no balance as to make the film actively unpleasant or boring, but the Russo Brothers wisely understand that it can’t be an action-comedy like Thor: Ragnarok was. People are going to die and there can’t be quips and jokes ever couple of minutes. The humor comes from the character interactions and the personalities working together. That way when the tragic moments happen (and believe me there is tragedy in this movie), they hit that much more to the viewer. A theme of the movie appears to be that when left unchecked, emotions and goals can have disastrous consequences on the people around you. Don’t mistake this sentence for trying to make Infinity War seem like a deep masterpiece, but I just happened to notice that and feel that lends the film some even more weight most of the MCU films lack.

There are a few things that hold this film back from reaching the levels of greatness in the first Avengers film. As mentioned before, the plot itself is nothing unique or special for a superhero movie for the most part, save for one aspect which I will save for the end. The sheer scale of the film also means no matter how balanced it is, and can feel a bit bloated at times, with some characters from past films that you would think be included being left out to keep the runtime at a bearable length. Which leads into the problem of certain sections of the film being better than others, due to the characters being so spread out across different story beats. None of the parts are bad, but some are absolutely outstanding while others just sit comfortably good. Anything with Thanos, the subplot of Thor journeying with Rocket and Groot, and lastly Iron Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and the other Guardians working to take down Thanos is the former. Finally while Alan Silvestri makes his triumphant return, along with his iconic theme song for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the music is mostly back to being just meh.

This is a shocking, gripping, and tragic movie that truly marks the beginning of the end for a certain number of Marvel characters, and perhaps is the beginning of a new chapter in the MCU’s life. It has its problems but they don’t get in the way of truly awe inspiring spectacle and beloved characters facing trials they have never before faced. You’ve either already seen it or had every intention of seeing it regardless of what the reviews said because you’ve been with the MCU since Iron Man back in 2008. Well I’m just here to tell you to stick around for the ride a little longer, because Avengers: Infinity War is one of the MCU’s best.

First I will give my score for the film, then my updated rankings of the MCU films, and then I will directly comment on the ending of Infinity War. If you don’t want to be spoiled, stop at the score or rankings.

Score: 8/10

1. The Avengers

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

4. Avengers: Infinity War

5. Captain America: Civil War

6. Iron Man 3

7. Guardians of the Galaxy

8. Spider-Man: Homecoming

9. Thor: Ragnarok

10. Iron Man

11. Black Panther

12. Captain America: The First Avenger

13. Ant Man

14. Doctor Strange

15. Avengers: Age of Ultron

16. Thor

17. Iron Man 2

18. Thor: The Dark World

19. The Incredible Hulk

Spoiler Warning:











The ending to Avengers: Infinity War is the best of any MCU movie. Thanos wins. Completely and utterly wins. Half of the universe is wiped out, and many of our favorite heroes do not survive. Black Panther dies, Groot dies, Bucky Barnes dies, even Spider-Man dies. Those are just four of the characters that Thanos doesn’t just kill, but erases from existence itself. He kills Vision to get the final Infinity Stone, in an extremely brutal and gut wrenching death scene. The last words of the film are from Captain America, just saying dumbstruck in horror “Oh God.” Cue credits. Bravo Russo Brothers, because that is how you leave an audience hooked for the next movie.

Black Panther review


Director: Ryan Coogler

Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis

Released: February 16, 2018

Here is the latest (and I do mean latest) review for the latest Marvel film Black Panther. It’s a movie that definitely has a lot of good qualities to it, but I don’t think it quite deserved the hyperbolic praise it received upon release. It’s still a good, fun film, but it is held back from the greatness many took it as by some rather glaring flaws I was surprised to see in such a high budget production.

Black Panther takes place just a little after the events of Captain America: Civil War. It concerns T’Challa ascending to the throne of Wakanda after his father’s death. T’Challa must struggle with the decision of whether or not to continue Wakanda’s traditional isolationism, or decide to reach out and aid the less fortunate countries of the world, but risk exposing Wakanda to enemies. While he’s grappling with these issues, a mysterious young man named Erik Killmonger and smuggler Ulysses Klaue team up to steal African artifacts for profit, but Killmonger has his own, more personal motives involving the very fate of Wakanda.

To put it bluntly, the technical aspects of Black Panther are extremely hit or miss. The practical costumes and fight scenes are all well done, and the aesthetics and style of Wakanda gives it a unique visual flavor that other superhero movies don’t have. However, the green screen and CGI, especially during the film’s climax can be just plain awful. Shockingly awful in fact, especially for such a Marvel movie. What just keeps it above water is Ryan Coogler’s stellar direction. He brings an energy and spirit to this film that other Marvel movies don’t have. He gives us a very well done and effective one shot take of an action scene when the film’s plot is happening in South Korea. Black Panther also boasts a genuinely unique and interesting soundtrack, which the MCU has been sorely needing.

Black Panther’s characters are all decent, but none really standing out except for its villain. My god is Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger a fantastic villain. So fantastic I would argue he is the best Marvel villain so far. He’s a villain yes, but an anti-villain. You’ll loathe his methods and personality, but understand his motives and feel sympathy for him once you discover why he is the way he is. Killmonger only becomes more sympathetic from his character growth throughout the plot, and Jordan’s charismatic performance.

The plot of Black Panther takes some waiting to rise above normal superhero movie fare. At first it seems to be more focused on setting up the inner workings and culture of Wakanda, the movie’s main setting. Later, with the revelations of the main antagonist, Erik Killmonger’s true motives, Black Panther essentially becomes Marvel’s version of Shakespeare. There is tragedy, children suffering for their parents’ sins, redemption, politics, and internal conflict all at play. It sometimes feels a bit too much for the film’s runtime, which could’ve served to have been longer.

The single best aspect of the film is its worldbuilding. Wakanda is practically a character in its own right. It feels like a real, lived in place. There is an exceptional level of thought placed into the little details of the country. You want to visit this place and experience what it has to offer. The country’s own politics become central to the film’s plot, and the way it handles these weighty elements is admirable and nuanced.

Black Panther is definitely an enjoyable blockbuster, but that’s about it. It’s not a great film that does anything really new and groundbreaking, even for the genre. Although Erik Killmonger is an absolutely superb villain that steals the whole show. It needs to be taken as it is. I can at least say I’m interested in returning to Wakanda for another movie.

Score: 6/10

Justice League review

Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon

Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Mamoa, Henry Cavill, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Ciaran Hinds

Released: November 17, 2017


Warning: Spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League

The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) hasn’t had an easy time. While I consider Man of Steel to be decent, it’s far from the great movie that this cinematic universe needed to start with. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a clear attempt to get to the hyped up Justice League movie as quickly as possible and sacrificed a lot of its potential along the way, even with the also hyped director’s cut that added some context to scenes but still had too many flaws for its own good. Suicide Squad is a dumpster fire Guardians of the Galaxy ripoff and one of the worst DC films ever. Then Wonder Woman came earlier this year and it was so good it looked like Warner Bros. had finally learned from their mistakes and the DCEU could fully realize its ambitions. Now we have Justice League and it feels like they threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Justice League directly continues off from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, with the world and Batman still reeling from the death of Superman. To make matters worse, an alien invasion led by the conqueror Steppenwolf is on the horizon that threatens all life on Earth, causing Batman and Wonder Woman to find the world’s greatest heroes so that they can join up and save the world, but they need Superman’s help and have to find a way to bring him back.

Justice League is the most meh and disposable movie I’ve seen this year. Let’s just get it out of the way and mention the notoriously troubled production and discussed reshoots because the movie actively suffers because of them. The scenes that Zack Snyder directed and Joss Whedon reshot can be clearly told apart and never mesh together into a coherent whole. The worst part being the CGI on Henry Cavill’s moustache. Maybe others didn’t notice, but to me it stuck out like a sore thumb. That and scenes of humor that were clearly put in at the absolute last minute by Whedon to bring some humor to the film make the whole thing feel chopped up and stitched together. Some of them are genuinely funny and fit in the rest of the movie fine, but others just don’t work.

The characters and plot are nothing to write home about. The main villain Steppenwolf needs three cubes called the “Mother Boxes” so that he can terraform Earth into a hellish wasteland like his own planet Apokolips is. He’s the most generic comic book movie villain ever, both in motivation and visual design. The heroes fare better, but the character arcs of the newcomers suffer from the lack of solo movies to establish them. Origin stories are just mentioned in passing without being shown, not even in flashbacks. We’re just told for example, how Flash got his powers and the accident Cyborg was in, and that Aquaman was abandoned by his mother at birth. These stories would’ve been really interesting to see, especially in their own movies that would’ve helped flesh out this cinematic universe. The characters that work best are the ones who’ve had their own movies, those being Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. However, even those three are questionably handled since Batman talks about Superman like he was best friends with him (even though he tried to straight up murder Superman out of paranoia in BvS), and is never called out for his callous disregard of life in that same movie. Also, for all that Superman is spoken about as a beacon of hope for the world that inspired people to do good, he was feared and reviled by at least 50% of the world in BvS, and people only came around his way when he sacrificed himself at the end of that movie. It’s possible that’s what they were referring to, but I don’t think it was.

All this said, I do have good things to say. The movie is smart enough not to let Batman off the hook for trying to kill Superman, and multiple characters call him out for being so cruel to him in BvS. On a spectacle level there are some pretty good action scenes. The ones that stood out to me are the scenes with the Amazons in Themiscyria when Steppenwolf arrives, and when Superman finally returns from the dead and the rest of the Justice League has to get some sense back into him. It shows off just how powerful Superman really is, and he has some great moments with The Flash that I’m not going to spoil. For the music they bring back Danny Elfman’s Batman and John Williams’s Superman themes. Pandering? Yes. Awesome? Also yes. The actors and actresses for the most part do a really good job with the material they’re given. Henry Cavill feels like the Superman fans know and love after two movies of Snyder’s more brooding portrayal, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is still the best part of the DCEU, Affleck makes the best film Batman in terms of faithfulness to the comics, Ezra Miller is really entertaining as Barry Allen/The Flash, Jason Mamoa as Aquaman is clearly having a blast, and as much as I rag on Steppenwolf, Ciaran Hinds’s voice acting is very good. The one actor I didn’t like was Ray Fisher. He was just so boring as Cyborg, a character who I don’t even think fits as a Justice League member to begin with. He was dull and felt like he wanted to be somewhere else the whole movie. Cyborg’s awful design and CGI didn’t help at all, looking like he came from Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. Other than him though I thought the special effects were fine, and whenever The Flash uses his super speed you got a good sense of just how insanely fast he was really going. Lastly, if you do go see this movie, the mid-credits and end credits scenes provide some nice fanservice to go crazy over. As dull as the movie usually is, there are some truly outstanding moments in between the long stretches of averageness, but it never manages to take those moments and run with them.

I’m coming down hard on this movie because you can see the glimpses of potential that it has, but never fully realizes. Unless a cut of the movie that realizes Snyder’s original vision is released, we’ll never know what the movie was originally going to be like and if it was better or even worse than what we’ve gotten. I love these characters and wanted Justice League to be the epic super hero blockbuster that it deserved to be, but as it stands now it’s just a lower tier meh. Go see Thor: Ragnarok instead, or buy and watch the animated Justice League cartoon series that aired on Cartoon Network in the early 2000’s.

Score: 4/10

Spider-Man Homecoming review

Director: Jon Watts

Writers: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers

Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Laura Harrier, Robert Downey Jr., Marissa Tomei

Released: July 7, 2017spiderman-homecoming-highwaysignposter

Spider-Man Homecoming is in most ways the Spider-Man movie fans have been waiting for since the first Sam Raimi film in 2002. It captures the comic book feel, the awkward nerd Peter Parker and the cocky hero Spider-Man and standing on its own for the most part while still feeling like a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the large scale blockbusters of Captain America: Civil War and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, this Marvel movie is refreshingly much more small scale, with the stakes being more personal than involving entire countries or even the whole galaxy. I’d even go as far to call it “blue collar”, and that’s not an insult in any way. Spider-Man is a working class hero with even a working class villain. It’s just about a high school student from Queens fighting basically a high tech bank robber.

Homecoming thankfully decides not to retell the origin of Spider-Man, since it’s already been told in the first Raimi film and The Amazing Spider-Man in 2013. It’s instead set just a little while after Captain America: Civil War, where Peter Parker is trying to impress Tony Stark so he can become part of The Avengers. The main antagonist is The Vulture, played by Michael Keaton who leads a group of robbers trying to earn a living. At the same time Peter has to juggle his school life and personal crush on Liz Allen. Homecoming has the tone of a lighthearted high school comedy, with homages to movies such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club. This also sort of works against it as at 2 hours and 13 minutes long, Homecoming’s pacing includes a couple of filler moments that don’t feel necessary. Now, filler moments in movies, books, anime etc. can be a chance to give characters some breathing time and show more of their humanity. And to Homecoming’s credit its slower scenes some of the time do just that. But, there are others that feel you can do without, and would’ve been better if they added more emotion to the film. For example, Uncle Ben isn’t mentioned a single time in Homecoming. Not once. Now as I said before skipping the origin story was a good idea, but not even mentioning him feels like a step too far. It would’ve been completely reasonable for a teen who just lost his father figure mere months ago like Peter to perhaps visit his grave, forlorn after making a mistake. Overall, it wasn’t necessary to just completely sidestep the “Uncle Ben issue” altogether, as it also makes Aunt May’s completely light hearted attitude a bit out of place.

For anyone wondering how he does, Tom Holland is great in the starring role. While Andrew Garfield will always be my favorite film Spider-Man, Holland manages to be the first to capture both the awkward nerd of Peter Parker, and the confident trash talking web-slinger Spider-Man. If Civil War was a great first impression, Homecoming manages to stick the landing and live up to that promise shown. Peter is always very sympathetic, flawed, and admirable throughout the film. His drive to prove himself as a hero leads him to making some irresponsible decisions and utterly screwing up, but he suffers the consequences of his decisions and strives to not make the same mistakes again. He’s already learned the lesson of being responsible, but the movie is about that lesson sticking and Peter interpreting it correctly.

But a hero is only as strong as their villain, and one of the MCU’s biggest flaws has been its weak villains. Homecoming manages not to fall prey to that trap, and in fact has probably the MCU’s strongest villain in Michael Keaton’s The Vulture. The film in fact begins with the origin of The Vulture, where we see what drove him into crime. He was once a normal working man who got screwed by forces beyond his control. He’s a criminal because he wants his family to be financially secure, can’t bear to let them find out his secret life, and even has a code of morals that make you almost forget he’s the bad guy. Key word being almost, as easily Homecoming’s most tense, nail biting scene comes from a confrontation between Vulture and Spider-Man in the movie’s third act. Seriously, it’s the kind of scene you go to movies to witness. Unfortunately, Homecoming’s side characters are not as strong. Marissa Tomei as Aunt May has very little going for her and I still think she’s too young to be Aunt May, and Peter’s best friend Ned really got on my nerves early in the movie, but looking back this might have been intentional on the movie’s part. He later becomes much better and actually proves to be a valuable partner to Peter regardless. Love interest Liz Allen is also rather unremarkable until around later in the movie, and it has less to do with her and more the people around her. Lastly on a more positive note, Tony Stark has a very small part in the movie despite the marketing suggesting otherwise. He’s in it for ten minutes at most and doesn’t outlast his welcome.

Homecoming as a smaller scale Marvel movie, doesn’t have the grand action sequences like the more epic Marvel movies do, but this only serves to further the movie’s down to earth feel. Everything is well shot, directed, with some nice special effects but it never gets too big or grandstanding. The only parts that really clash with this are some of Peter’s high tech gadgetry loaned to him by Tony Stark which he got during Civil War. When the movie’s action and heart really shined was when Peter can no longer rely on those tools, and must simply use his wits and pure determination to win. They all range from good to very good, but I don’t think they quite reach greatness.

Where does this Spider-Man movie rank for me on my personal list? It’s above the Raimi trilogy and The Amazing Spider Man 2, but I still rank the first The Amazing Spider-Man movie as higher for better pacing, more exciting action scenes, cast, side characters, romance between Peter and Gwen Stacy, and of course Andrew Garfield’s performance as the web slinger, even if his portrayal of Peter Parker had holes. I know some people reading that paragraph might be surprised or even disgusted that I like the reboot film from 2012 the most, and at some point in the future, I intend to do a retrospective series of reviews of every Spider-Man movie save for this one to fully give my thoughts on the movies.

On that note all end with saying Spider-Man Homecoming is good, in fact it’s one of the MCU’s better movies flaws and all. It’s not the best superhero or even Marvel movie released so far this year, in fact I think Logan, Wonder Woman, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have it beat in terms of humanity and risk taking, it’s still a movie worth your time.