It wouldn't be completely unfair to say that this continuation of the franchise, following the Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, came out far too soon after that trilogy (2002-2007). It turns out that this reboot was rushed into production to save Disney acquiring the rights to the character after purchasing the rest of the Marvel characters for its cinematic universe, so it doesn't take a genius to figure that Hollywood studio greed was the main driving force and motivation here.
Doing-over the origin story, this tries to do opposites with what we've previously seen, but still manages to have way too many parallels, especially with replacing the character of Mary Jane Watson with Gwen Stacy as the love interest, Peter Parker acquiring and discovering his powers, the introduction of the villain, and Uncle Ben's inspirational quote ("With great power comes great responsibility").
Though the pacing here is quite ridiculously slow, there are enough action scenes to break up the mundanity and they're all done rather well, culminating in a showdown with the film's main villain (Lizard). Unfortunately, the film does have some major problems besides the pacing- as subplots and supporting characters seem to be dropped at random, the main villain is quite lazily written and Peter Parker is portrayed as a little too much of a rebel, before and after he gets his superpowers.
Summing it all up, it's not a terrible superhero movie or a poor Spider-Man movie, but it certainly came out far too soon and suffers in comparison to what's already been seen.
AMERICAN MADE (15)
D: Doug Liman
Universal/Cross Creek/Imagine (Brian Grazer, Brian Oliver, Tyler Thompson, Doug Davison & Kim Roth)
W: Gary Spinelli
DP: Cesar Charlone
Ed: Saar Klein, Andrew Mondshein & Dylan Tichenor
Mus: Christophe Beck
Tom Cruise (Barry Seal), Sarah Wright (Lucy Seal), Domhnall Gleeson (Monty Schafer), Alejandro Edda (Jorge Ochoa), Benito Martinez (James Rangel), Mauricio Mejia (Pablo Escabar)
When a film claims that it's based on true events, it's always fair to say that creative liberties have been taken, and this certainly isn't any different for this biopic of Barry Seal, an American airline pilot who earned a fair crust becoming a drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel, of whom Pablo Escabar was a prominent member.
Early in the film Barry Seal is busted by a CIA agent for smuggling illegal cigars into the country and is subsequently propositioned into taking spy photographs for the US government. Whilst performing these duties, he is approached by cartel members who offer him vast amounts of wealth to deliver their narcotics into the United States. The rest of the film then becomes The Wolf Of Wall Street, with drug-running substituting stockbroking, especially with its presentation inclining more towards the comedy genre than drama.
The film is entertaining enough for its duration, and the 1970's are very well recreated by director Doug Liman (helming his first feature since 2002's The Bourne Identity). One minor gripe is with the casting of Tom Cruise in a lead role that Matthew McConaughey would have been much better suited for.
AMERICAN SNIPER (15)
ANT-MAN & THE WASP (12)
D: Peyton Reed
Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige & Stephen Broussard)
W: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barner & Gabriel Ferrari [based on characters created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber & Ernie Hart]
DP: Dante Spinotti
Ed: Dan Lebental & Craig Wood
Mus: Christophe Beck
Paul Rudd (Scott Lang / Ant-Man), Evangeline Lilly (Hope Van Dyne / Wasp), Michael Douglas (Hank Pym), Michael Peña (Luis), Hannah John-Kamen (Ava Starr / Ghost), Walton Goggins (Sonny Burch), Laurence Fishburne (Bill Foster), Michelle Pfeiffer (Janet Van Dyne)
Avengers: Infinity War was such a cinematic behemoth that any Marvel movie that followed was going to feel small in comparison, so it's quite fitting that the next in the MCU series of films would be about the most diminutive superhero in the comic book canon.
Following on from the events in the first film and Captain America: Civil War (qv), Scott Lang is under house arrest as punishment for his actions, passing his time by looking after his daughter and generally goofing around. Meanwhile, former Shield scientist Hank Pym and his daughter Hope Van Dyne are conducting a new experiment which may prove that Pym's wife and Hope's mother, Janet, the original wasp, is still alive and trapped in the quantum zone, which Ant-Man shrunk down into in the original film. Hank and Hope abduct Scott for his assistance, but also attract the attentions of Ghost, a woman with a molecular instability who also needs to benefit from the quantum science, as well as Sonny Burch, a black market trader who deals in the high tech.
Though the film provides enough entertainment through action set pieces and scenes of comedy, it does suffer by having villains who just aren't interesting enough, especially for Ghost, who is given a victim status which we are forced to empathise with.
Though Edgar Wright was replaced halfway through production of the first film, it's clear that he had a huge positive influence on the outcome of the film which this sequel sadly lacks. It does provide a fun distraction, but it just doesn't stand tall like the bigger Marvel movies.
D: Lars Von Trier
Nordisk Film/Zentropa/Arte France/Canal+/Film i Väst/Svenska Filminstitutet/Sveriges Television (Meta Louise Foldager)
🇩🇰 🇫🇷 🇩🇪 🇮🇹 🇵🇱 🇸🇪 2009
W: Lars Von Trier
DP: Anthony Dod Mantle
Ed: Anders Refn & Åsa Mossberg
Mus: Kristian Eidnes Andersen
Willem Dafoe ("He"), Charlotte Gainsbourg ("She")
The first film of Lars Von Trier's "depression trilogy" (followed by Melancholia and Nymphomaniac) is an experimental art/horror film which will certainly not be for the palate of regular moviegoers.
Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play an unnamed married couple, mourning the loss of their child when they retreat to a cabin in the woods where their grief subsequently manifests itself as a sadomasochistic sexual relationship which becomes more and more violent.
Like all art films, there will be some who will think this is a masterpiece whilst others will find it pretentious and unpleasant.
I, personally, cannot give it more than the rating below as I did not enjoy watching it and would not recommend it to anyone, but I can't call it a bad film either. Like art itself, for every Mona Lisa, you also have Tracey Emin's Unmade Bed.
D: James Wan
Warner Bros/DC/Cruel & Unusual/Mad Ghost (Peter Safran & Rob Cowan)
W: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall, Geoff Johns & James Wan [based on characters created by Mort Weisinger & Paul Norris]
DP: Don Burgess
Ed: Kirk Morri
Mus: Rupert Gregson-Williams
Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry / Aquaman), Amber Heard (Mera), Willem Dafoe (Vulko), Patrick Wilson (Orm Marius), Dolph Lundgren (Nereus), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (David Kane / Black Manta), Nicole Kidman (Atlanna), Temeura Morrison (Thomas Curry)
It's fair to say that DC comics, desperate for a series of movies to rival Marvel's Cinematic Universe, have had an erratic output so far.
Wonder Woman was a success, scoring with audiences as well as critics, but the other films have been rather underwhelming. For me, Man Of Steel was disappointing, Suicide Squad was a disjointed mess and Batman vs Superman was incredibly poor. I didn't think Justice League was as bad as some of the reviews I've seen or heard, but it certainly had flaws, especially with its inconsistent visual effects.
Aquaman, who featured as one of the Justice League members, gets his own origin tale here, and in fairness, it's closer to Wonder Woman's quality than the other movies.
Born the son of the Queen of Atlantis and a human lighthouse keeper, Arthur Curry (Aquaman) is asked to challenge for the throne of the secret underwater world to prevent a war between land and sea, instigated by the current king of the sea, Arthur's half-brother.
Aquaman reluctantly accepts and also faces a villain in the form of Black Manta, a pirate who seeks revenge following the death of his father in the opening skirmish.
The action scenes and visual effects throughout are reasonably good, bringing a lot of light to a series of comic book movies which have been quite dark up until now.
The only minor irritants are that the plot bears a lot of similarities with Black Panther, released the same year (therefore, if you don't like this movie, you're racist against fish), and the running time is about 30 minutes too long, mostly due to the padded-out scenes trawling through exposition.
All-in-all, it's a fun slice of science fiction hokum, and the only thing I really didn't like in the entire film was Pitbull's shit cover version of Toto's Africa.
ARSENIC & OLD LACE (PG)
D: Frank Capra
Warner Bros (Frank Capra & Jack L. Warner)
W: Julius J. Epstein & Philip G. Epstein [based on the play by Joseph Kesselring]
DP: Sol Polito
Ed: Daniel Mandell
Mus: Max Steiner
Cary Grant (Mortimer Brewster), Josephine Hull (Aunt Abby Brewster), Jean Adair (Aunt Martha Brewster), Raymond Massey (Jonathan Brewster), Peter Lorre (Dr. Herman Einstein), Priscilla Lane (Elaine Harper Brewster), John Alexander (Teddy Brewster)
Frequently considered one of Alfred Hitchcock's films, it may come as a surprise to many that this dark comedy was directed by Frank Capra, despite being incredibly different to his usual feel-good urban fables.
Cary Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, a cynical journalist who secretly gets married and invites his new bride to meet his beloved aunts, only to make a shocking discovery that the two old ladies are murderesses, who coax old men into their home where they poison them with wine and have them buried in the cellar. Mortimer begins to panic that the homicidal tendencies may be hereditary and delves further into his family history.
Based on a stage play, the action crosses over to screen incredibly well, helped by great performances, an amusing script and very tactile direction which makes the light of the fact that the whole plot is incredibly flippant when it comes to the subject of murder & death.
ATOMIC BLONDE (15)
D: David Leitch
Focus Features/87 Eleven/Denver & Delilah/Closed On Mondays (Charlize Theron, Beth Kono, A.J. Dix, Kelly McCormick, Eric Gitter & Peter Schwerin)
W: Kurt Johnstad [based on the graphic novel "The Coldest City" by Antony Johnston & Sam Hart]
DP: Jonathan Sela
Ed: Elisabet Ronaldsdottir
Mus: Tyler Bates
Charlize Theron (Lorraine Broughton), James McAvoy (David Percival), John Goodman (Emmett Kurzfeld), Eddie Marsan (Spyglass), Til Schweiger (Watchmaker), Toby Jones (Eric Gray), Sofia Boutella (Delphine Lasalle)
Set in Cold War Germany in the days leading up to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, an MI6 spy investigates the death of another agent so a top secret list of double agents working behind enemy lines can be retrieved.
Bond with a female twist, the action scenes are very well choreographed and the cinematography throughout is glorious, capturing the neon-tinted 80's with style. The cast don't disappoint and the soundtrack is brimful with classic 80's electronica.
Unfortunately, the pacing and non-linear narrative drag, but it still makes for a decent action movie with a badass protagonist expertly portrayed by Charlize Theron.
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (12)
D: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)
W: Christopher Marcus & Stephen McFeely
DP: Trent Opaloch
Ed: Jeffrey Ford & Matthew Schmidt
Mus: Alan Silverstri
Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner / Hulk), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers / Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes / War Machine), Tom Holland (Peter Parker / Spider-Man), Chadwick Boseman (T'Challa / Black Panther), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch), Josh Brolin (Thanos), Chris Pratt (Peter Quill / Star Lord), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Vin Diesel (Groot), Dave Bautista (Drax), Zoe Saldana (Gamora)
Celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes this 19th film since 2008's Iron Man set the franchise on its money-spinning way, amassing a gargantuan cast of characters for this comic book adventure.
The story picks up from the strands from many of the films which precludes it, particularly the first two Avengers movies, the two Guardians Of The Galaxy films and the third Thor movie, but it would be incredibly beneficial to have seen all 18 Marvel movies leading up to this one, so you know exactly where the story is. It probably would be accessible to watch this as a standalone film, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Directors Anthony & Joe Russo do an excellent job amassing the cast, just as they did with Captain America: Civil War, and though the film has a trio of main storylines, it's not difficult to follow.
The plot concerns our superheroes trying to prevent bad guy Thanos from claiming all six infinity stones, which he plans to place in his weaponised gauntlet to become the most powerful being in the universe, a nefarious plan which will culminate in the demise of half the population of all planets.
The action begins straight away, with Thanos attacking the refugees of Asgard to claim the Space Stone, hidden inside the Tesseract which Loki smuggled away before his home planet's destruction.
The Avengers then amass, even collaborating with the Guardians of The Galaxy to prevent Thanos from claiming the remaining stones, which will allow him to control time, souls and minds, as well the universe in its entirety.
For fans of superhero movies and the MCU in particular, this will be everything they want and more, and even if you're not a huge fan of comic-book movies this is still an amazing show, with state of the art visual effects which deserve to be seen on the big screen (the bigger the better, and preferably in 3D).
There are a few plotholes if you look deep enough, some of the major characters are relegated to mere comic-relief and some of the humour doesn't quite marry up with some of the bleaker moments. The cliffhanger ending also seems like a cynical trap to ensure that the audience return for the next film (released in 2019), but this is every bit worth the price of an admission ticket and is the definitive popcorn event movie of 2018's summer, proved by the financial return over its opening weekend, where it broke all records.
I'd say 75% of this movie is the best superhero movie ever, but the closing scene does leave you high and dry & makes you feel like you've just witness a two & a half hour trailer for the next Avengers film.