Tag Archives: reboot

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ a Welcome Return-to-Form for the Character


Much like Kevin Spacey, I always seem to forget how much I love Michael Keaton until I see Michael Keaton pop up on screen.


“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the second reboot in five years of the character, and features Tom Holland reprising his role as the titular hero from last year’s “Captain America: Civil War.” This time we skip over all the origin stories and Uncle Ben’s death and get right into Peter Parker trying to be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, until a new supervillain named Vulture (Keaton) threatens New York City with dangerous weapons. Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. also star as Jon Watts directs.


I love the character of Spider-Man. He’s no Batman (duh) but when done right there is something about a sarcastic teenager in red, white and blue spandex that is just impossible not to find enjoyable. Sam Raimi’s first film back in 2002 redefined the modern superhero genre (and literally changed the start date of the summer movie season from Memorial Day to first weekend of May) and “Spider-Man 2” is universally accepted as one of-if not the-greatest superhero films of all-time. The third film then had a mixed response while the Andrew Garfield reboot series (if you want to call two films no one liked a “series”) were a colossal misfire that resulted in Sony negotiating a deal to give the character back to Marvel, and it will be interesting to see how history remembers those two outings. But enough Spidey history, let’s get talking about this latest rendition.


Just like in “Civil War” Tom Holland shines here. He is just so darn charming, innocent and likable, and that’s just as Peter Parker. His Spider-Man has all the quips that Garfield’s was missing (saying “wait a minute, you guys aren’t the real Avengers!” to a group of bank robbers in Halloween masks) and he is just so much fun and it is clear that Holland himself is having a blast in the role of a lifetime.


The supporting cast are all great, too, with Robert Downey Jr. reprising his role as Tony Stark aka Iron Man, acting both as a bridge for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this reboot series as well as Peter’s father figure since we don’t get an Uncle Ben this time around. Downey isn’t in the film all too much (every scene he has is in the trailer) but he is as sarcastic and witty as one may hope. Marisa Tomei has some genuine moments as Aunt May, and chooses to make this version of the character a little more nerdy and “try hard” (and clearly younger) than Rosemary Harris’ elderly, always worried take.


Michael Keaton is arguably one of the better villains that the MCU has seen, although that bar isn’t set too high. A blue-collar worker screwed over by a rigged system, Keaton doesn’t want world domination he just wants to make money while getting back at the elites. He gets some scenery to chew and has one genuinely tension-filled scene but overall he feels slightly underused, but it was still great to see him in a villain role, and continuing his mini-career renaissance of his.


There really isn’t too much action here to speak of, a lot of the film focuses on Peter trying to balance high school and being Spider-Man, and he isn’t always punching men in big flying monster suits; more often than not he’s stopping bike thieves and helping give old ladies directions. When the action does hit it is as clean and fun as any film with a $175 million budget and the Marvel brand slapped on it can expect to be, and is all the more impressive coming from a director who had only made small indie dramas (see Watts’ “Cop Car” if you haven’t).


What holds this back from the levels of Raimi’s first two films is a bit of a sloppy narrative here and there. The film isn’t always focused on Vulture and his plan, it just cuts back to him every now and again for a while to remind you that eventually we’re going to get to a big confrontation with him and Spider-Man. There were six screenwriters on this and it’s clear, sometimes the balance between big-budget superhero blockbluster and coming-of-age comedy are seamless, other times they’re jarring.


The film’s trailers also ruin *a lot* so if you have managed to avoid seeing the four of them up to this point, try to keep it that way. Scenes will be going on and suddenly you’ll realize you know exactly how things are going to play out because the trailers all spoil it.


“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a welcome return to form for the titular character and a nice little side-entry into the MCU. When I saw “Spider-Man 2” in theaters as a 10 year old it was the first time I was ever truly left speechless by a film’s greatness; and although “Homecoming” isn’t perfect, it does bring me joy knowing that today’s kids finally have a Spider-Man worthy of being looked up to and enjoyed, because leaving them with Andrew Garfield’s would have been a travesty.


Critics Rating: 7/10

Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures

Horrible Editing, Pretty Scenery Highlight ‘Transporter Refueled’

_The_Transporter_Refueled__posterIf the 85% humidity didn’t have me thinking it’s still August, the release of crap movies sure would have.

“The Transporter Refueled” is a reboot (I think? It has never really been confirmed if this is a reboot or prequel) of the Transporter franchise, but this time Ed Skrein gets behind the wheel to play the titular character instead of Jason Statham. Here the Transporter must help out four call girls who are looking to get revenge on a kingpin (or something along those lines; this film is a mess). Editor-turned-director Carmille Delamarre directs.

The last Transporter film was in 2008 and in the seven years since I haven’t heard a single person clamoring for another sequel. In fact, “Transporter 3” is often referred to as one of the worst edited action films of all-time, alongside “Taken 2.” So naturally it makes sense that they hire the guy who edited those two films to direct this one, right?

Like I said above, this movie is a mess and I have no idea where to start with it. I guess I’ll begin with how lazy and stupid it is. In the film’s opening scene, a bunch of men are shot in front of a group of prostitutes. The pimp then orders the girls to get back to work…with the massacred bodies still lying on the pavement. I’m not an expert in how ladies-of-the-night operate, but I have to imagine corpses are bad for business.

That scene takes place in 1995, and then we are transported (get it?) 15 years later, which after a quick calculation means it’s 2010. That would be fine and dandy, except characters use iPhone 6’s and drive 2015 vehicles. So either the movie was too lazy to add 15 to 1995, or they didn’t care about being accurate to the time period, both of which are sins.

The action in the film is at times fine, there are a few well-choreographed car chases, but those moments are diluted and ruined by constant slow-motion and quick edits. And when I say quick edits, I’m talking five shots in less than four second. The same type of edits you may find in, say, “Taken 2” or “Transporter 3.”

The man behind this film, and other gems such as the Taken trilogy, “The Family” and the worst film of last year, “Lucy,” is Luc Besson and he is the Adam Sandler of the action world. He continuously gives his friends jobs, and his films are usually awful, featuring near no plot, shoddy editing and villains with horrible accents and even worse motivations; and Besson makes no effort to try and change formula this time around.

The best part of “Refueled” was when Skrein is fighting a group of henchmen and he sticks a floatation ring around one of them and the bad guy yells, “you jerk!”. I laughed out loud. Obviously not the film’s intention, but most of the writing is that bad throughout.

I was never bored while watching “The Transporter Refueled” per se, but I was also almost never interested. I checked my phone at least five times and at one point even responded to a text, which I *never* do. The film is set in the incredibly beautiful Monaco, so every establishing shot is gorgeous, but honestly aside from that there isn’t much this movie does right. It’s not frustratingly awful like “Fantastic Four” or annoyingly bad like “Pixels,” but “The Transporter Refueled” fails to accomplish what it set out to do, whatever the heck that aspiration was.

Critics Rating: 4/10



‘Fantastic Bore’ Is Frustratingly Awful

Fantastic_Four_2015_posterI am at a loss for words on how uneventful this movie is, so no time for a clever opening. Let’s just get right into this evisceration.

“Fantastic Four” is the latest attempt to reboot the Marvel Comics team of the same name, and stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell as Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Invisible Woman and The Thing, respectively. [Normally this is where I would insert a brief plot summary, but truly this film is so massively uneventful that I couldn’t give you a storyline if I tried]. Josh Trank, who directed “Chronicle,” directs and co-writes here.

Right from its conception, this film was a mess. It was no secret that Sony made it simply to hold onto the rights, and then there are plenty of stories of Trank showing up on set stoned and drunk, or not showing up at all (for legal reasons, I should say “allegedly”). Then they had to do extensive reshoots, which are painfully obvious due to haircuts/wigs and awkward dialogue dubs. In all honesty, look up all the behind-the-scenes drama involving the director and producers; it is 100x more entertaining than the movie they ended up creating.

On top of those red flags, ear-piercing alarms should have been sounding when it was announced the film wouldn’t allow reviews to be posted until the day before release (which is as sure a sign that a movie is terrible as dark clouds mean it’s going to rain), and lead actor Miles Teller saying that none of the stars had seen the finished film, and that “rarely are films of this size critically well received”. That’s…comforting.

Boy, halfway done with this review and all I’ve done is give reasons why we all thought it would fail. Where are my manners? Who knows? Maybe all the reshoots and on-set tension created something truly special, and we were worrying for nothing! (We weren’t, though, this movie is awful)

I truly, honestly, sincerely have no idea where to begin. I am genuinely at a loss for words, and that isn’t a great thing to be considering my God-given talent (and livelihood) is putting pen to paper. I guess we can start with how badly they botched the amazing cast. I am a huge Miles Teller fan; I’ve had a man-crush on him ever since “21 & Over.” But here? Oh boy, did Trank and Co. try their very hardest to make him awful. The entire cast, in fact; they’re all talented young actors who together have no chemistry. I hate to compare this to the 2005 film because I think reboots should be judged on their own accord, but say what you will about the old F4 films, at least the four members seemed like they were friends.

Next is the “plot.” If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen the film. I remember watching the trailers and every time I would think, “this looks like it’s spliced from just three scenes, what’s the plot?” And I was right to question; there is no plot. What shred of a narrative there is revolves around the group building an interdimensional transportation device (because simply going to space nowadays is too mainstream), getting their powers, and then everything kind of rushes an oh-my-god awful ending.

Seriously, though, the ending to this movie is just…I don’t even know. To steal a quote from Michael Scott: “It’s simply beyond words. It’s incalculable”. The first third of the film is innocent enough, showing a young Teller trying to crack all the science, and then there’s a few (I stress, A FEW) interesting and fun moments. Then they get their powers by traveling to “Planet Zero” (named after how much interest I had left in the film by this point) and Trank treats it like a horror film, which for a second I liked. The idea of finding your one friend burning alive and another trapped in a pile of rocks is enough to break a psyche. But then they skip ahead a year (because who wants to watch them struggle and learn to control their new powers, right?) and everything gets worse. You get bored and the film goes nowhere.

Then the climax happens, and oh my God. I didn’t think it was possible to have negative amount of suspense or emotional attachment to a film, but give “Fantastic Four” credit because it did just that. When Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) arrives to be the villain (after all, with a name like that, he had a limited pool of career choices), you don’t care. There is one fun tracking shot of him walking down a hallway and he makes everyone he passes’ head explode, but then he engages in a horrible CGI battle with the Four. And you just. don’t. care.

Look, I could go on for days about why this movie is awful, but my head may just explode like one of those poor people Dr. Doom strolls past. The film plays out as one big (boring) trailer for future films, which, based on critical and fanboy reception, I doubt we’ll ever see, and it’s adorable the filmmakers thought they ever would. “The Incredibles” remains the only truly good Fantastic Four film, and this makes the 2005 film and its sequel look like “The Dark Knight.”

I thought critic Ben Mankiewicz’s description of the film perfectly sums everything up: “it feels like the first episode of a TV series that you are certain to not watch the second episode of.” Amen, brother. “Fantastic Four” is not fun, it’s not exciting and it’s certainly not good. Just go plop yourself down in front of the dryer for an hour 45; you’ll get more entertainment and odds are more character development than this film could ever offer.

Critics Rating: 2/10



‘Vacation’ Is Bumpy but Often Funny Road Trip

Vacation_posterEvery summer there is a comedy that is underappreciated by critics but is actually pretty funny. 2013 had “We’re the Millers,” last year featured “Let’s Be Cops,” and now we have “Vacation.”

“Vacation” is the latest film in the National Lampoon franchise of the same name. The film follows Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) who takes his family on a cross-country road trip to Walley World, the same theme park that he went to as a child. Christina Applegate plays Helms’ wife, as John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein write and make their directorial debuts.

I am a fan of Francis Daley and Goldstein’s writing. “Horrible Bosses” is one of my favorite comedies of all-time, and “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” has more than its fair share of laughs. So maybe I’m biased when I say it, but “Vacation” is a very amusing time at the movies, even though it’s not without its share of flaws.

In case people like Adam Sander have forgotten, the first and foremost thing a comedy should do is produce laughs, and “Vacation” does that in large quantities. There is one scene in the film where I was actually rolling in my seat holding back tears I was laughing so hard, and that does not happen with me very often. Many of the jokes in the film are based off of awkward interactions and uncomfortable pauses, and directors Francis Daley and Goldstein do a good job knowing how long to hold the camera on an actor to get the proper reaction shot.

By and far the best part of the film is the younger son, played by Steele Stebbins. He curses, he verbally and physically abuses his older brother and he has wisecracking responses to most anything people say. His character may come off as too mean-spirited for some, but I bought it and thought he made the film.

A scene-stealing performance, however, comes from Charlie Day, who plays a white water rafting instructor. Day infuses some energy into the film just as it was starting to sag, and he produces several hardy laughs.

The film isn’t necessarily *good* like “Trainwreck” or “Spy,” and the plot is pretty thin. You get you standard road trip comedy hijinks, like crazy truck drivers and the car breaking down, so don’t go in expecting the re-invention of the wheel. You know how the film is going to play out, and at some parts that does make some scenes feel like byproducts of the sake of a single joke.

Some characters also are almost unbelievably stupid and naive, and even as someone who is forgiving of many things in dumb comedies, even I sometimes grew annoyed by their ignorance to certain situations.

I can best compare “Vacation” to “We’re the Millers,” in that if you are willing to overlook the implausible and cliché plot and just enjoy the film for being funny, then you’ll have a good time. I personally found the film an amusing way to enjoy two hours of my life, and compared to some of the other “comedies” from this summer like “Entourage” and “Pixels,” this is comic gold.

Critics Rating: 6/10



‘Poltergeist’ Remake is Stupid, Clichéd Fun

Poltergeist_2015_posterHey, what do you know? A remake that doesn’t totally stink!

A remake/reboot/reimagining of the 1982 classic of the same name, “Poltergeist” stars Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt and Jared Harris and is directed by Gil Kenan. The film follows a family that is haunted by evil spirits, and must save their daughter when she is abducted by them.

If the plot to the film sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Not just because it is quite literally a remake, but also the original “Poltergeist” was so revolutionary that in the past 30 years since its release, dozens of horror films have copied plot points. But despite being stupid and cliché, I kind of dug this remake.

Most modern horror films are PG-13, found footage garbage, and consist more of jump scares and soundtrack explosions rather than genuine tension and frightening moments. So, despite being PG-13 and having its share of jump scares, it was nice to see a scary movie that built on tension rather than special effects or gore. There are some genuinely well-executed moments of tension in “Poltergeist,” brought on my dark shadows and some pretty creepy clown dolls.

Sam Rockwell is one of the actors many people know the face but not the name, but I am a big fan of his. Here he is able to elevate an otherwise cliché and at times pandering script, creating moments of charm while also delivering some emotional bits as a father who just wants his daughter back.

Speaking of said script, like I said, it’s pretty standard scary movie stuff. David Lindsay-Abaire, best known for penning “Oz the Great and Powerful,” has some interesting twists and bits of dialogue, but just as much, if not more, clichés. Oh, the little girl is talking to a wall but it’s actually a spirit? Brilliant! The dad recently lost his job so the family has to move and the haunted house is their only option? Revolutionary!

And of course, while the acting is better than most horror films, the character’s themselves are a few fries short of a Happy Meal. They move towards strange sounds in the dark, or don’t think it’s weird how a wooden stairwell can create static electricity, and you’ll groan every time they ignore the kid who of course knows what is going on.

Despite its clichés, however, I really enjoyed most of the “Poltergeist” remake. It has some great effects and production value in climax (I just reread that; I’m such a movie dork), and the acting and story are interesting enough to keep your attention when ghosts aren’t throwing chairs and flickering lights.

It won’t win any awards, and remains to be seen (or not seen, because ghosts. HA!) whether or not this remake was necessary, but for what it is, that being a 90 minute summer scary movie, “Poltergeist” gets the job done.

Critics Rating: 6/10



‘Fury Road’ Will Drive You Mad

Max_Mad_Fury_Road_Newest_PosterSome franchises are just better left untouched.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is the fourth film in writer-director George Miller’s Mad Max franchise, and the first since 1985. Tom Hardy takes over the titular role from Mel Gibson, and this time around must aid a rogue commander (Charlize Theron) as they are chased by a cult leader and his army across the future desert wasteland.

“Fury Road” suffers from the same problem that plagues much of Hollywood today, and that is that filmmakers and audiences alike put style over substance. From a technical standpoint, this latest Mad Max film is constructed brilliantly, with expert stunts and well-staged action sequences. However from a narrative perspective, it leaves much to be desired, and unfortunately the film turns out to be much more exhausting than it is entertaining.

I’m not saying action films need in-depth storytelling and a hefty plot, but all we get in “Fury Road” is that Max must lead a group of women away from a kingdom to a safe area known only as the “Green Place”. The film then acts in a series of repeating motions: they get into a fight, they outrun the bad guys, their truck breaks down, and they must fix the truck. Rinse, repeat. Like I said, the action sequences themselves are often breathtaking at first, but they drag on for so long and eventually just become nothing more than expendable bad guys getting thrown around, so you stop caring.

There is just no real weight or suspense in the film. In the first 10 minutes we are thrown out of the gate and just have characters shoved in our faces, without time to really learn about them or what makes them tick. We then are supposed to root for same characters simply because the movie tells us to. There are several points where two of the girls traveling with Max ask what will happen to them if the cult leader catches them, and I kept wondering the same thing. They never build up the stakes so there is no real reason to feel worried for anyone.

Individually, the two leads, Theron and Hardy, work. Theron digs down deep and conveys a woman who has been torn apart by war and tragedy while Hardy keeps his mouth shut most of the film and certainly could pass as a younger Mel Gibson. Together, however, their chemistry is lacking. Yes, the whole point of the film is that Max is a loner so he doesn’t want to communicate and bond with others, but most of the time it really just looks like two A-list actors simply spewing lines of dialogue at each other.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is fun in small doses, and at times clever, but in my humble opinion (and isn’t that all a movie review is?), I’ve had more fun watching a Michael Bay film. I just spent way too much of the film either scratching my head at the bizarre imagery or trying to figure out certain character’s motivations.

If you loved the original Mad Max films then this is probably a grand trip down memory lane, and I’m sure that making this film was a labor of love for George Miller. But for me, sitting through it was just plain labor.

Critics Rating: 4/10



Reaction to Spider-Man/Marvel Announcement

In the late hours of Monday night, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios announced a deal that will allow Spider-Man to appear in the Marvel Universe, while Sony will still produce his individual films.

This sent fanboys around the internet into a frenzy of happiness.

Basically, this is long overdue, and while it is fantastic and exciting news (one could say the news is…amazing [high fives self]), it does make me think of a few things.

First things first, this is likely the signal of the end of the Andrew Garfield-led “Amazing Spider-Man” franchise. When we last saw his Spidey, he was swinging a manhole cover at Paul Giamatti’s Rhino and the screen cut to black. If that ending was frustrating and ambiguous back in May 2014, imagine how it is now conceived as the end of a franchise.



I’m going to assume that Rhino killed Spider-Man and that is why we didn’t see the actual battle, and why there will be no 3rd film. It is the only thing that will make that ending make even a little bit of sense moving forward.

In 10 years, who will care about these two movies, much less even remember them? Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy already has cemented its place in cinematic history. Not only is it one of the best superhero series of all-time, if not movie trilogies, period, but it harkened the beginning of superhero films as we know them today. “Spider-Man 2” remains arguably the best superhero film ever made.

What about “The Amazing Spider-Man” 1 and 2? By December of last year most everyone had forgotten ASM2 was even a thing. There was just so much it got wrong and so little it did right. I personally marked it as one of my biggest disappointments of 2014.

The franchise itself isn’t *bad*, but it is just two “meh” films that seemed to ask fives questions for every one answer it gave.

Speaking of, assuming this is the end of the franchise, there are so many questions, plot holes and storylines left untouched.

What ever happened to Uncle Ben’s killer? (this is really a question you could ask after the first film, seeing as Peter gives up searching about halfway through)

So, is Peter’s dad alive, or is that deleted scene showing him having survived the plane crash just going to be an acknowledge misstep?

What is Oscorp’s evil plan? (not even the writers know this one)

We’re never going to know the answers to any of these questions, and honestly I don’t think we will care.



The other thing that the Spider-Man/Marvel deal means is the subsequent recasting of Peter Parker. Andrew Garfield, who voiced his distain with the second film and has been publically scapegoated by Sony for it, is out.

Sony is sticking with their 2017 release date for the new Spider-Man standalone film. However whoever is cast in the role will likely make his first appearance in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War”, where we will see Cap and Iron Man face off (there’s a whole post-Avengers story-arc involving Spider-Man that comic book fans know a lot more about than I do). So this recasting has to be done relatively quickly, as that film begins shooting in April.

Whoever is chosen, I hope and pray that their standalone film is not another origins story. Like, seriously. If the five years between “Spider-Man 3” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” seemed too short, just imagine how only three years between ASM2 and whatever the title of this new Spider-Man is would feel. If I see Uncle Ben get shot one more time, I’m going to lose it, and not because I got the feels (you try watching the scene from “Spider-Man” and tell me it isn’t beautifully done).

One could argue that they are rebooting Batman only four years since his last film (2012’s “Dark Knight Rises” to 2016’s “Batman V Superman”), but BvS isn’t (hopefully/assumingly) going to feature an origin story.

We know the hero, and we know that some father figure got killed in front of him so he has a sense of purpose driving him. We don’t need to spend half a film beating the audience over the head with these facts.

Andrew Garfield is going to be fine. He’s currently working on a Martin Scorsese project and is only 31 years old (you know, because 31-year-olds can pass for high schoolers all the time, right, Sony?). I doubt that not making another passable Spider-Man film is going to derail his career.

I also doubt there are many people crying that this series is done. It was a fun enough ride while it lasted, but by 2025, when Marvel is actually beginning to enter the reboot-phase and films from the 1990’s are started to get remade, no one is going to remember “The Amazing Spider-Man” even happened. It will be the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question, and you’ll be like, “oh yeah, those were a thing”.

I’m excited to see Spider-Man sharing a screen with Iron Man and Captain America, and I’m also cautiously excited to see what a rebooted franchise could mean. Let’s just hope they get the villains right this time.