Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Thoughts On Recent DVD Releases

At some point I joined Redbox's text club so occasionally I get coupons for free rentals or Rent 1, Get 1 Free, so that's always good.  I just wish the coupons were good longer than a day or two.

So here are some thoughts on 4 movies I watched recently.  I won't bore you with the older, unknown stuff.

Spider-Man Homecoming:  This was the re-re-reboot of the franchise that started in 2002.  Of course this Spider-Man was already introduced in 2016's Civil War.  This takes place after that as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) tries to get his feet wet as a crimefighter.  Meanwhile the Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his crew have been salvaging alien tech since the Battle of New York.  Somehow they've managed not to run afoul of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, or the Avengers.

Overall it's entertaining and well-made like all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.  But the problem was while Peter Parker and Spider-Man are in it, it doesn't really feel like a Spider-Man movie.  Since Parker is in high school there's no Daily Bugle or J Jonah Jameson; I think since JK Simmons so thoroughly killed that role they've been reluctant to try anyone else.  His secretary Betty Brant is a high school kid who does daily TV broadcasts.  There's no Harry Osborne or his father Norman; I don't think there's even a mention of OsCorp, though maybe there's an Easter egg I missed.  Instead of Gwen Stacy or Mary Jane Watson, Peter lusts after a girl named Liz who (spoiler alert!) is the Vulture's daughter.  "MJ" is a grungy looking girl (Zendaya!) who makes a few sarcastic comments but otherwise doesn't contribute anything to the story; she and Peter have no real interest in each other--yet.  Aunt May is played by Marissa Tomei so she's not the feeble old lady from the comics or first set of movies.  She's more of an AILF, as everyone from Tony Stark to a Thai restaurant waiter seems to want to fuck her.  Other than a video diary of his trip to Berlin, Peter doesn't do anything photography related.  With so many changes, you have to wonder why Sony insisted on using Peter Parker instead of Miles Morales.

I know this wasn't an origin movie and that's probably just as well, but why wasn't there even a flashback to Uncle Ben's murder?  There didn't even seem to be a mention of him.  Or Peter's parents for that matter.  I guess Tony Stark was kind of taking up the Uncle Ben mentor role.  I think Stark and Happy Hogan were more of a distraction than a positive; you could almost call it Iron Man 3 1/2, especially when Pepper Potts shows up.  It's kind of funny in that this movie actually goes in reverse with the hero downgrading his costume from the start of the movie to the end.

Call me nostalgic or corny or whatever, but I never thought this rose to the level of the first two Raimi movies.  Sure the effects were a little better but there was never anything as good as the upside-down kiss in the rain or the final battle between Spidey and the Goblin.  Nor was there really as much attention paid to the characters as Spider-Man 2.  But at least Peter didn't show his face to half of New York like in previous movies--at least until he lets Aunt May find out his secret.

Of course some of my bias might be that most of the Spidey comics I've read have been during Dan Slott's roughly 10 year run (that's still ongoing) where Peter is an adult and even had his own multi-billion dollar company until recently and I'm old enough to have watched the Raimi movies when they were new.  I suppose other people might feel differently.  (3/5)

Random Thought:  Watching Michael Keaton in this it occurred to me that he'd be the right age now if DC wanted to do a real Dark Knight Returns movie.  He could reprise his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne and they could bring back Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, Jack Nicholson as Joker, and Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face.  I mean, they're all still alive, so come on.

Baby Driver:  This was directed by Edgar Wright, whom you might remember was originally making Marvel's Ant-Man movie until the whole "cinematic universe" thing started cramping his style.  What was surprising to me is this is a fairly straight-forward crime caper movie.  There's really not the humor in Wright's other projects like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, or The World's End, all of which starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, neither of whom is present in this.

Basically this is pretty similar to movies like Drive starring Ryan Gosling a bit over five years ago I think.  There's a kid who goes by the handle "Baby" who after his parents died in a car accident has lived with an old deaf black guy and listens to various iPods all the time because of tinnitus.  Baby stole a car belonging to "Doc" some time earlier and wound up owing him a lot of money.  To recoup it, Baby works as Doc's wheelman, using fast & furious driving to escape the cops after robberies. 

Then he meets a girl working as a waitress in a diner and they fall in love.  But of course there's one last big job--robbing a post office to steal money order paper.  Though really couldn't you do the same at just about any pharmacy or liquor store?  Maybe they don't have as much.

Not surprisingly things all go tits-up.  The end takes a while and is kind of sad, but there's a happy ending of sorts.    It's a fun ride even if a bit too straight-forward.  (3/5)

Batman vs Two-Face:  This was one of the last projects of Adam West before he died.  It's a sequel to another animated movie featuring the 1966 show cast--or what's left of it.  Sadly by now the only ones left are pretty much Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman).  So obviously most of the characters they have to use different voices for, most of which don't really sound that close.  Like my brother says too even the ones who were reprising their roles don't sound right because they're so much older than in the late 60s.  This is definitely a project that would have worked better about 25 years ago.

I don't think Two-Face appeared on the old series, probably because the makeup would have been expensive.  And he's kind of a scary character for a kid-friendly show.  In this case Two-Face is voiced by William Shatner, which the Harvey Dent half drawn to look very similar to Shatner when he was playing Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek series.  Instead of acid being thrown on him, Two-Face is created when an experiment by Dr. Hugo Strange (another comic book character I don't think was on the old show; I don't know if he was around yet in 1966) goes wrong and "concentrated evil" from the Joker, Penguin, Egghead, Riddler, and whoever else splashes half of Harvey and creates an evil self.

The credits are a montage of Two-Face trying to trap the Dynamic Duo and then it picks up with a captured Dent being given a new face thanks to Bruce Wayne.  As Harvey goes back to work in the DA's office (as assistant to the assistant DA), the Dynamic Duo have to battle King Tut and Bookworm in schemes that involve duality or the number 2.  Hmmmm...

Since this is animated they can do a lot of stuff the old TV show never could do, like have most of Gotham turned into Two-Faces!  They probably should have left Chief O'Hara as a Two-Face; he couldn't suck more at his job than the regular one. 

It's fun and only about 70 minutes so it doesn't take a lot of time.  Other than the issues I already mentioned it's not that bad if you like the old TV series.  Too bad there's no Batgirl in it.  Though since it's a DC property of course we had to get a Harley Quinn reference in; God forbid she's not in every fucking thing they do anymore.  BTW, you have to watch all the way to the end of the credits for the Adam West tribute. (3/5)

Transformers:  The Last Knight:  I went into this with really low expectations.  And yet this still failed to reach them.  Despite the vaunted "writer's room" beforehand, this still has all the same problems as the three previous sequels:  nonsensical storytelling, boring humans, obnoxious humans, and robots who have an accent or gimmick in place of personality.

What this tries to do is merge The da Vinci Code or National Treasure with Transformers.  Idiot humans in America and the UK meet up with Anthony Hopkins who's the head of some secret order founded by Merlin or whatever bullshit.  It's so fucking stupid and contradicts everything we've seen before, like the idea that Bumblebee fought in World War II.  Though I suppose we didn't see Bumblebee fall to Earth in the first movie so maybe he could have been around; I suppose his solo movie will get into that.

Having already ruined Jetfire, combiners, the Matrix, Shockwave, Soundwave, Galvatron, and the Dinobots, Bay and company ruin Hot Rod and Quintessons, both key parts of the 1986 animated movie.  As mentioned previously in lieu of any personality Hot Rod has a French accent and a gun that freezes time.  It's a wasted opportunity as it would have been pretty easy to make the character like the overeager youngster voiced by Judd Nelson in the '86 movie.  I mean if a fucking Oscar-winning screenwriter can't manage that they ought to take his Oscar away.  Quintessons in the movie were five-faced alien robots who in the third season of the TV show it's revealed they created Transformers to serve them until the Transformers revolted.  Quintessa was the Quintesson homeworld but in this movie "Quintessa" is some kind of goddess or something. 

They also borrow a plot from Transformers Prime where it turns out Earth is actually the body for the evil Unicorn.  Though this isn't really dealt with and I guess it'll be the focus of a sixth movie that is sure to be fucking terrible.  I don't often say this, but can't we get a reboot already?  Maybe with a writer's room that actually includes people who know something about Transformers.  My brother and I are available.  I'm just saying. (1/5)


4 comments:

  1. I totally agree on Spidey...it was a total middle-of-the-road Marvel film. Nothing new, nothing offensive...kinda like oatmeal for breakfast lol.

    I was really into Baby Driver at first; I liked how they matched up the music to the visuals and the opening titles were really well-done in that regard. But as the film went on, they forgot about integrating the music so it was almost like watching a film written by two different people...the first half this interesting music-driven piece that turns at midpoint into an average crime drama that was rather predictable.

    Haven't seen the Batman one yet, but probably will at some point. I know it wasn't his first role, but by far the one he was most-known for, so I guess it is fitting that Adam West's last role was as the Caped Crusader.

    Transformers...yeah...I got nothing...smh...but yeah, I'm sure we could knock together something better than all five of these schlock-fests combined.

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  2. There was a huge backlash on Spider-Man recently that made him a teenager again, and they also wanted him not to be in a romantic relationship. Basically, they just wanted to spend some time in high school and doing that scene to appeal to younger people. That's why the current actor, Tom Holland, looks so young. He's basically still a baby (but one hell of a talented baby). It also coincides with the Marvel cartoon where Spider-Man is also single and just going to high school.

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  3. I love watching movies about superheros but only movies showing how they became super heroes.

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  4. I'm a member of the text and email club and I never use those codes. It's a good deal anyway, but I might start taking advantage of it.

    Spider-Man is very different from the previous movies and I think it works in it's favor. No Daily Bugle, but that's a well-worn road anyway. I'm sure it'll come up in later movies. I never thought about the photographer thing. It would have been a good idea to show how he went from high school to being a professional photographer. Even if Aunt May just gave him a camera as a gift.

    I still haven't gotten up the nerve to watch the last Transformers movie. It's just too hard to imagine slogging through that garbage fire.

    Good reviews as always Pat!

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