Birdman

Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)

Spiderman: Homecoming marks the third incarnation of the character after Sony have finally allowed the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have their wicked way. Another sign that the MCU is showing no signs of releasing the stranglehold it currently holds over Hollywood.

I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed Sam Raimi’s imagining of Spiderman with Tobey Maguire at the helm and disliked Andrew Garfield’s take on the character in the rebooted follow-up. After his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland gets his own standalone adventure in the MCU canon.

Tom Holland’s casting does bring about the youth and innocence that the character of Spiderman was missing in the previous films, and the film itself accentuates this as he tries to harness his own powers for good. This is all but helped by his interactions with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Tony Stark. (Robert Downey Jr.) (yes, Ironman makes yet another appearance in a Marvel film, bore)

But rather than having Ironman as the knight in red armour coming to save the day, he takes on the mantle of the father figure mentoring Peter Parker and goads him into becoming the neighbourhood friendly spider. And that is where we find Tom Holland as Spiderman, some time has passed since the events of Civil War took place and he’s vying for the next superhero call-up.

That is until he stumbles onto the weapons being harnessed from Alien technology by The Vulture (Michael Keaton playing a different kind of Birdman) and his cronies. And suddenly (and unsurprisingly) Spiderman: Homecoming falls into the framework that has been used time and time again. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fair bit lighter than the previous Marvel ventures due to the youth, innocence and amateur-hour display from Peter Parker, but its does follow the pattern that is expected.

What has also become a staple for the Marvel Universe is the use of comedy throughout the film, and that is channelled through Ned (Jacob Batalon). Again it is a very over-egged choice of comedy, but for some reason with Spiderman: Homecoming it worked. Ned channelled the Michael Pena-esque Luis from Ant-Man, continually talking and just being hilarious with his quips.

Michael Keaton’s hard done-by Vulture character was really intriguing, especially with his backstory and how neatly the narrative fits in together. But he does rip and tears through everything Spiderman throws at him, but ultimately as it’s a Marvel films you know what is going to happen. Jon Watts did do a masterful job of building tension though between Keaton and Holland during that scene.

Spiderman: Homecoming is a largely enjoyable film in the cinema, but afterwards it becomes largely forgettable one as I’m struggling now to find memorable areas within the film. (aside from that tense scene with Keaton) What it boils down to is a coming-of-age story, especially with the Tony Stark father figure shooting him down. But the believability of this coming-of-age story weighs on Tom Holland’s shoulders. Which does work as he does struggle to find the right way to go about stopping the baddies and does mess up but it’s all with the hope of doing the right thing.

Jon Watts’ reimagining of Spiderman for the Marvel Universe was a fun way to spend the best part of two hours plus, but don’t forget the film itself is less than memorable after you’ve left the cinema. That tense scene between Michael Keaton and Tom Holland was absolute genius but is that the only take away I got? Yes, yes it is. If you’re a big fan of the overconsumption that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’ll probably take more away than I did, but nonetheless, it’s decent enough for a Spiderman film, definitely better than the Andrew Garfield lot.

The Revenant (2016)

Hot off a successful award season, The Revenant is slowly winding down it’s impressive six-week run and I managed to get in a watch. (albeit late to the party I know, but still)

Leonardo Dicaprio in the run up to this film was tipped to finally take home that famed Best Actor Oscar. DiCaprio gives a rather excellent performance as Hugh Glass, a man well travelled in rural America, that at the time is being discovered and pillaged by a groups of American and French pelt hunters.

Emmanuel Lubezki, who previously worked with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu on Birdman, is responsible for the jaw-dropping, vast beautiful picturesque backdrops of America. However, it’s not just the backdrops that are fantastic, the camera work is dizzyingly close to the action and downright immersive, especially from the first scene onwards. Inarritu has managed to continue his fantastic use of camera work from Birdman, and making film seem like one big tracking shot and fully intoxicating camerawork throughout the film. (But in the good way)

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Often with these big picturesque and fancy films, it’s let down by the characters, or the story. With The Revenant it’s not the case, both keep up the high level of filmmaking and enjoyment with the central characters revolving around Hugh Glass (Leo), Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), Henry (Domnhall Gleeson) and Bridger (Will Poulter). Naturally Leo takes center stage with Tom Hardy playing the adversary, but the supporting cast comprised of Poulter and Gleeson ups the ante and enjoyment level.

My only issue with the story comes with the pacing of the film. After the whirlwind start to the film, and the bear attack, the films pace slows dramatically. Between this and final act (if you could call it that) the films pace is slow and could have done with shaving off. However, this doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyment because as Glass wanders the rural American landscape, the shots and scenes are enchanting and a pleasure to watch on-screen.

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I thought the music was a massive success in this film, as the diegetic sound is simply outstanding. The creaking of the trees was the most evoking sound throughout the film as Glass spends nights in the woods recuperating and all that can be heard is the creaking of the trees, enhancing the mood of the film and immersive tactic employed by Inárritu.

As with the fantastic sound, acting and story, the effects were incredible, but admittedly, it was gruesome. I won’t divulge too many details on this, as it could ruin the storyline, but Glass’ bear attack wounds, the horse scene and the whirlwind opening scene all showcase this fantastic use of effects and the very brutality of these effects throughout the film.

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Inárritu has created a fantastic piece of filmmaking and throughly enjoyable. That being said, it isn’t exactly the perfect piece of film, but it’s not far from it as it has everything. An intriguing backstory from Fitzgerald and Glass, the evoking and immersive sound and of course a film rife with action completed with the stunning backdrops and scenes with the help of Lubezski.

If the film could’ve been shaved off by anywhere around half hour the film would’ve made me settle more instead of me looking at my watch half way through the run time. The film was worthy of the Oscars it won though, including Best Actor, but I cannot comment on Best Picture as I’ve not seen Spotlight. All this being said, I’m rather glad I caught this at the cinema because it was such a good cinema experience to watch unfold, with the intriguing and mysterious character, the creative and incredible effects and the immersive action scenes.