Tag Archives: JonFavreau

Spider-Man Homecoming

Movie Score4 out of 5 (Excellent)

Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Hannibal Buress, Laura Harrier, & Tony Revolori

Director: Jon Watts

Synopsis: The mutated spider has already bit Peter Parker and transformed him into Spider-Man. The movie commences a few months after Spidey disarmed Captain America. While technically part of the Avengers, Peter has to remain in Queens, fighting petty criminals because Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) commanded him to lay low and be “a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man.”  Frustrated with such limitations, Peter sets off to fight “serious crime” in order to prove his worth as an Avenger to Tony and his assistant, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). On this quest, Peter discovers Adrian Toomes/The Vulture/Birdman (Michael Keaton), a former construction contractor, who is now scavenging and selling alien weaponry from The Avengers invasion on the black market. After seeing the destruction such weapons are capable of, Peter sets out to defeat The Vulture whilst balancing a normal high school life. A great movie ensues.

Heading into the movie, I felt disappointed. A week early, I had read a review that stated Spider-Man Homecoming was purely a franchise building machine with only small moments of humor and few redeeming qualities. Ladies and gentlemen, friends, families, and readers, let me be the first and hopefully not the last to tell you the aforementioned review was wrong.

The movie’s teenage characters were my favorite part (besides the villain Toomes). Tom Holland phenomenally portrayed Peter Parker. I’m so glad he did not try to emulate Toby Maguire’s sniveling, wimpy version of Peter. Instead, Holland imbues Peter with humorous and nerdy, yet subtly cool, qualities. Together with Jacob Batalon’s hilarious character, Ned, the two form a wonderful duo who made me laugh a lot more than I expected. Normally, six screenwriters on one film signals trouble, but in this one the writers created and gave Ned and Peter some fantastic quips. However, they didn’t hoard all the best lines for the main characters. Zendaya’s hipster Michelle several great lines. I wish they had also decided to make Michelle a more prominent character since she stole all her scenes.

Like Zendaya, Keaton, of course, killed all his scenes. However, what made me love his character and the movie was not just his quality acting. It was also his character and his motives. Toomes began the movie as just an honest construction worker trying to take advantage of a good business opportunity: governmental contracts to help rebuild a destroyed New York City after the Chitauri army wrecks it in The Avengers. However, after losing the contract when the government discovers the power of the Chitauri weapons and asserts control over the reconstruction. This move leaves Toomes in a precarious position as he took out large loans to gather the men and equipment needed to take on such a job. Therefore, in order to support his family and his men’s families, he starts finding, fixing, and selling the alien weaponry on the black market.

I enjoyed Toomes because he was not a master villain trying to take over the world à la Loki. Instead, he was just a man doing whatever it takes to make ends meet and live the American dream. In an interesting conversation with Peter, Toomes asks him, what’s the difference between what he does and Tony Stark selling arms to the armies of the world. Such a question enters a fantastic grey area that Marvel likes to venture into and have successfully done so far like in The Winter Soldier and Civil War.  The question stumps Peter and it stumped me.

Target Audience: Teenagers, Marvel/DC/Disney lovers, and middle age adults. I’m counting out people over 50 based on my dad’s groans when he saw the trailer and children because the Vulture can, at times, be fearsome.

For trailer, see below.

By Hagood Grantham

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Beauty and the Beast (2017) – Teaser

Outlook: Cautiously optimistic

“Tale as old as time,” Ariana Grande sings in Beauty and the Beast‘s final trailer. Yes, it is a tale as old as 1991. Beauty and the Beast has been around my whole life, so, to me, that famous lyric rings true as I’m sure it will for most of Beauty and the Beast‘s target audience.

With its series of live-action remakes that include Alice in Wonderland (2010)Maleficent (2014)Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016), and Pete’s Dragon (2016), some might think Disney has struck upon a golden formula. However, such people might be looking back upon these movies with rose-colored glasses thanks to the astounding success of The Jungle Book because it wasn’t until that movie that Disney got things right.

In 2010, Disney started strong at the box-office with its first two remakes Alice and Maleficent. They both grossed $320M and $190M, respectively. However, critics shunned the films, assigning them the mediocre scores of 52% and 50%. In Disney’s more recent live-action attempts, Cinderella and Pete’s Dragon, the studio finally won over critics, enjoying scores of 83% and 86% on RottenTomatoes.com, respectively, but neither came close to the $360+ million box office success of Jungle Book nor the lesser successes of Alice and Maleficent. Jungle remedied these imbalances by both winning over critics (95% on RottenTomatoes.com) and bringing in its largest box-office performance in the live-action remake sector, which set up the studio for a record breaking year.

Now all eyes are on this movie, Beauty and the Beast. Can it continue Disney’s hot streak and recreate Jungle‘s balancing-act of critical/box-office success? Can it lead Disney on to another record breaking year with a pipeline full of possible hits that include: Guardians of the Galaxy 2Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesCars 3Thor: Ragnarok, Coco, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Like The Jungle Book, this movie’s source material is incredibly well-known by audiences. Something I didn’t know till just now, Beauty was more than just a critical darling, it snagged an Oscar nomination for Best Picture in 1992. Laughably, Beauty‘s final trailer openly reveals the first half of the movie’s plot, in chronological order. Disney’s lack of effort to conceal the plot signals that it also realizes how familiar its target audience is with the original film. I believe this familiarity along with its star-studded cast (I’m eager to see Ewan McGregor as Lumiere) will generate large opening weekend number’s even if critics deride the movie.

However, I firmly believe that in today’s age of RottenTomatoes dominance, a movie cannot become a blockbuster without winning over critics. On this point, I’m a little nervous. Bill Condon is directing it and his biggest films up to this point have been Dreamgirls and Mr. Holmes. While I enjoyed the latter, it wasn’t a knock-your-socks-off type of good. It was just a good flick. Also, I must mention that in 2014 Condon  directed the Benedict Cumberbatch bomb, The Fifth Estate. While Condon is a veteran director, he lacks the pedigree and success of past live-action directors (e. g. Cinderella‘s Kenneth Branagh or The Jungle Book‘s Jon Favreau) and the fact that he directed that garbage, The Fifth Estate, makes me uneasy.

With all this on my mind, I rewatched this final trailer for the third time and hearing “Tale as old as time” still pulled at my heartstrings. Let’s hope this movie is more than just a waltz down memory lane to revisit Disney’s golden-era.

By Hagood Grantham