With well over a decade under the belt of the world’s favorite wall crawler in cinema, what direction does Marvel take him next? With the casting of Tom Holland and confirmed rumors by Marvel, we do know they will be following a young high school Peter Parker through his struggles and his transition into one of the worlds greatest heroes.
But, before you can assume where you are going, you should look back at where you came from. Let’s take a look back at how Spider-Man set the table for comic book movies in cinema.
Spider-Man was released May 3rd 2002. It Starred Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco and Willem Dafoe. This movie was one that set the table for modern day hero movies. Directed by Sam Raimi and coupled with an amazing score by Danny Elfman, Spider-Man soared into theaters. It followed closely to the comics and the story of Peter Parker as an awkward nerdy teenager bitten by a genetically altered super spider, while dealing with his insecurities and balancing great power with great responsibility. With an $821 million world wide gross, Spider-Man proved that this was the new path of cinema.
Spider-Man 2 was released June 30th 2004. It pitted Peter Parker against his idol and Spidey against one of his deadliest foes, Doctor Octopus. Following close to the same formula as its predecessor, we followed a slightly more confident Spider-Man trying to balance his life as one of the worlds greatest heroes and his fear of what being that hero may cost him as Peter Parker.
Though critics bashed Spider-Man 3, it has a worldwide gross over $890 million. I believe most of its criticism came via the lack of back story for one of the worlds most beloved spidey villains, Venom. Fans also believed Topher Grace was a poor choice for the role. Spider-Man 3 was released May 4th 2007 and explored the dark side of having great power and vengeance in your heart.
The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2
The Amazing Spider-Man was released July 3rd 2012. It was an attempt to re-boot the Spidey franchise without straying too far from the source content. Director Marc Webb decided that he would skimp on some details, assuming the audience wouldn’t want to revisit Peter’s brief stint in wresting or showing in detail how Spidey sense looked through the eyes of Parker.
In his second attempt, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Director Marc Webb attempted to improve upon where he fell short in his 2012 Spidey debut, by bringing in a A list cast that included Jamie Foxx, Emma Stone, paul Giamatti, Dane DeHaan. He also decided to take the movie over the top with bigger explosions and more over the top action, while having Spider-Man realize his true strength. Webb seemed to abandoned his idea of the darker more down to earth Spider-Man and venture back closer to source material. Even going as far as to make his suite lighter and more like the original.
Tom Holland’s New Ultimate Spider-Man Haircut
Which brings us to the present. Of course we know very little about the exact direction Jon Watts will be taking our new Spider-Man. But let’s talk about what we do know. We know we will get our first glimpse of Spidey in Captain America Civil War, we know that Tom Holland will be playing a young high school aged Peter Parker. He will be as conflicted as ever and learning to deal with his new found powers. His costume will we be closer to the origins of Spider-Man.
What we don’t know about this incarnation is how he will fit into the already well established Avengers universe on screen. It’s the only variable that could make this Spidey significantly different from previous versions on screen.
In the Heights | Review
In the Heights is directed by Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu and is an adaptation of the Broadway musical written by Quaira Alegria Hudes – with music, lyrics and concept created by Lin Manuel Miranda – you know, the guy behind that tiny Broadway show called Hamilton.
Our story takes places in the Manhattan borough of Washington Heights – a predominantly Latinx neighbourhood. Our protagonist is convenience store owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who dreams of fulfilling his deceased father’s Suenito or “little dream” of opening his own beach side bar in his place of birth; The Dominican Republic. We watch as Usnavi wrestles with the choice of chasing his fathers dream or staying in the community which raised and embraced him with open arms.
I came out of In the Heights beaming with joy. It’s one of those perfect summery, all-singing, all-dancing, big screen movies that get your hips swaying, your toes tapping and your teeth grinning. Most importantly it’s a film, that justifies seeing it on the biggest screen possible – don’t deprive yourself of the treat of seeing it at a cinema. It’s a film that is so easy on the eyes – not just because of its ridiculously gorgeous cast, but thanks to the dazzlingly inventive set pieces, breathtaking choreography, vibrant art direction and Jon M. Chu’s dynamic camerawork. It’s alive with such kinetic energy and utterly infectious music.
The comparisons to West Side Story seemed inevitable – which incidentally is getting a Steven Spielberg reimagining later this year. But that comparison is a very generalised one, In the Heights feels refreshingly different to all other movie-musicals. There’s an intoxicating mix of old and new. Every number is laced with a deliciously Latin flavour. There are classic emotionally charged ballads that will make your heart swoon but there’s also elements of salsa, hip-hop, merengue and Lin Manuel Miranda’s now-recognisable, spoken-word, recitative rap sensibilities. Side note for all Hamilton fans keep your ears open for a familiar musical easter egg. There’s a real emphasis on “the little details” on display in this film which makes it feel like an authentic celebration of all things Latinx. One can’t help but smile at the thought of all the positive ramifications a film like this will have on the underrepresented Hispanic communities around the world.
The cast are all superb. Anthony Ramos lights up the screen with his boyish good looks and cheeky smile as Usnavi. He’s backed up by the fiery Mellissa Barrera who plays aspiring fashion designer and love interest Vanessa. Corey Hawkins plays Usnavi’s pal Benny who yearns for old flame Nina (Leslie Grace), who is going through her own identity crisis. She’s back from Stamford College but has felt ostracised and isolated as a minority among her predominantly White classmates. Benny and Nina share one of the standout set pieces a they perform a duet of the When the Sun Goes Down whilst dancing along the side of a Manhattan building.
But the MVP is without-a-doubt Olga Merediz who reprises the same role she played on Broadway as the Washington Heights matriarch Abuela Claudia. She is the heart of the community and of the film itself. Merediz delivers a dignified performance that’s sure to have Oscar-pundits on their radar for a best supporting actress nomination. She reduced me to tears during her rendition of Paciencia y Fe – it’s soul-touchingly obvious why they brought her back for the movie.
When looking for criticisms there is so much love radiating from this film that it’s easy to let the knit-picky stuff slide. Such as there is a lot of very noticeable product placement – In the Heights is brought to you by Coca Cola, Beats and Moët Champagne.
There’s also some clunky shots during one of the standout songs 96,000. The sequence involves a stunning on-location swimming pool set piece, however there was clearly some green screen footage of Anthony Ramos inserted after shooting. It’s a rather sore-thumb addition in otherwise flawless number.
But where In the Heights truly struggles is with character conflict and resolution – or the lack thereof. Most of the conflict is internal, many of the characters are wrestling with the decision of staying or leaving. Asking themselves where do I belong? But the rest of the time it’s all sunshine, love and joy. Even the blackout is a cause for celebration instead of panic. There isn’t much more than surface-level struggles. Without conflict there’s no real drama. There are brief moments where the story hints are some bigger issues like the gentrification of the neighbourhood but never actualy dives in the deep end. And the only mention of racial tension comes from Nina’s experiences at university – but that’s all it is; mentioned. We never actually witness it happen to her.
And while the film ends on an uplifting note I couldn’t help but feel too many of the characters arcs were left unresolved. Upon leaving the theatre I found myself asking a lot of questions; What did Kevin Rosario (Jimmy Smits) do after selling the business? Did Vanessa’s fashion dreams take off? How does Nina cope back at Stamford? And what’s Benny doing with himself now? The answers all remain ambiguous so there is a lack closure.
In the Heights is a sun-drenched and charming tale of dreams, community and home. Despite a slightly long runtime and a lack of character conflict/resolution, it more than makes up for those issues with its phenomenal cast, luscious musical set pieces and fabulous choreography. After a year deprived of social dancing, this is the perfect pick-me-up summery film that’ll make you thirsty to get back on a dance floor.
In the Heights is released in U.K. cinemas June 18th and is available in other regions on HBO Max.
2021 OSCARS- What They Got Right, And What They Got Wrong
Chloé Zhao and Nomadland make history and win top prizes at the Oscars.
Last night was the long-awaited 93rd Academy Awards, after a very uniquely long (due to COVID) awards season, it was finally time to find out who would be taking home the golden statuettes. We knew from the get-go that things would be a little bit different than usual; Steven Soderbergh was directing it and wanted to make it feel like a film rather than an awards show. But we underestimated just how much Soderbergh would switch up the conventions and traditions we’ve come to know at the Oscars every year…
The Oscars switched things up a lot, and most people were unhappy with the changes; there were no performances of the nominated Original songs during the ceremony itself, there were virtually no clips from the films nominated that played throughout the ceremony, when Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste won Best Original Score for Soul, they didn’t play any of the Oscar-winning music, instead the winners awkwardly approached the stage with no sound other than applause. Another change that upset people was the in-memoriam section, which was accompanied by an usually upbeat song, and each person barely got a second of time on the screen. These were minor changed that most people didn’t like, but could look past, the biggest change that many say ruined the whole evening, though, came when the Academy announced that they would present Best Picture third from last. This decision was met with apprehension from most.
Although most thought that maybe the Academy placed Best Actor last so the final award could be a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, who was posthumously nominated for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The Academy had invited his family, gave him an extra-long tribute during the in-memoriam segment, and a piece of artwork inspired by Boseman was given to all the nominees. It’s clear that the academy expected him to win. But then Joaquin Phoenix, who clearly would have rather been anywhere else, half-heartedly read out Anthony Hopkins’ name (who wasn’t able to attend as an 83-year-old during a pandemic), the Academy accepted on his behalf and the show ended. Not only did the academy take advantage of Boseman’s passing by restructuring the age-old tradition of Best Picture being the final award, but it backfired because the person who won the final award wasn’t there and was denied permission to join via Zoom. Because of this, Nomadland’s historic Best Picture sweep was not given the final celebration it deserved. It won Best Picture, and two more awards were left, one of which was Best Actor, and the winner wasn’t even able to attend. This left a bitter taste in most people’s mouths; not only did Boseman deserve to be honoured, or at least not taken advantage of, but Nomadland and Chloé Zhao deserved to have their big moment accepting the biggest award in the industry to close the most prestigious awards show in the industry. All in all, it was a very anti-climactic ending and left most people feeling disappointed; more people will remember the horrifically handled ending than will speak about Nomadland’s big win. That’s enough about the negative stuff now, after all, the Oscars are a celebration of the year’s films.
While the ceremony itself was questionable, the results and winners were great all around, and putting personal preferences aside, I don’t think anyone can say that any of this year’s winners weren’t deserving and as a celebration of cinema and film over the past year, the films honoured finally got their deserving awards. It was a historic evening; Emerald Fennel picked up the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Promising Young Woman, making her the first woman in 13 years to win a screenplay award, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first black women to win for Best Hair and Makeup for their work on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Yuh-Jung Youn became the first ever Korean Actress to win an Oscar, Frances McDormand joined the elite club of actors with three wins in the leading category and tied with Katheryn Hepburn as the actor with the most Academy Awards with 4 (although one of McDormand’s is for producing), Chloé Zhao became the first woman of colour and only the second woman ever to win Best Director (after Katheryn Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker in 2010), and Nomadland became the first ever Best Picture winner directed by a woman of colour, Nomadland became the first film to sweep Best Picture at all the major award shows since 12 Years a Slave in 2012 (CCA, DGA, PGA, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Oscar), it also swept director at all of those for Chloé Zhao. Nomadland is also a rarity because it is a Best Picture winner about a woman, very few Best Picture winners are about women. After winning Best Director, Actress, and Picture, Nomadland’s performance at this year’s Oscars is a triumph for women.
Some other big wins include Daniel Kaluuya winning Best Supporting Actor for his role as Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, Eric Messerschmidt’s work on Mank upset in the Best Cinematography category, beating the frontrunner Joshua James Richards’ Nomadland. The Father saw some love by taking home Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor in a leading role for Anthony Hopkins. While everyone will be a little sad that Boseman never got his moment at the Oscars, Boseman left an impact most actors only dream of through his role as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while it would’ve been nice to see him win an Oscar, Hopkins gave a stunningly devastating, career-best performance many are calling one of the top Best Actor winning performances ever, and he is more than worthy of the award. Most of the outrage about Boseman losing is not because Hopkins didn’t deserve it, but because of how the Academy handled it.
Personally, I am ecstatic about the winners; as a champion of Chloé Zhao’s work and her intimate character study of a woman in her sixties who loses everything after the 2008 financial crash, I was very happy to see Nomadland take home to top prize. I was also elated to see Yuh-Jung Youn win for her masterful performance in Minari, and while any of the fantastic actresses nominated in the leading category could’ve won, I liked seeing Frances McDormand’s more understated subtle, nuanced performance get the recognition it deserved. However, while the number of good things outweigh the number of bad things, the final 20 minutes of the ceremony will always be tainted by how badly the Academy executed this year’s awards. The winners were fantastic and all deserving, the butchered ending of this ceremony has cemented the 93rd Academy Awards as one of the worst executed ceremonies in Oscars history.
One Thing ‘Trick’ Has In Bulk Is Gore
Genre : Horror
Rating : Unrated
Director: Patrick Lussier
It seems that few genres of film are as collaborative as horror. Despite being considered the black sheep of the film genres horror has produced some incredible creative teams over the years. Whether it’s Wes Craven turning Robert Englund into a bonafide icon or director Guillermo del Toro working with Guillermo Navarro to bring fairy tales to life there’s no denying that there is something about scary movies that brings people together. One of the most promising duos of the 2000’s was director Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer. Collaborating on 2009’s My Bloody Valentine 3D they would go on to cement their place in genre film history with the bats**t insane Nicolas Cage film Drive Angry. The two seemed to be on the verge of their big break with a sequel to Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 before going their separate ways. A decade after their first collaboration the two are back to try and make their mark on the slasher genre. Will this Trick be a disaster or more of a treat?
Considered a smart and quiet teenager Patrick Weaver goes on a stabbing spree at a Halloween party in 2015. Claiming several victims, he is able to escape despite capture, being shot several times and falling out of as second story window. Despite this Detective Mike Denver (Omar Epps) and Sheriff Lisa Jayne (Ellen Adair) are unable to find a body. Over the next four years a killer, now simply known as “Trick”, wreaks havoc every year on Halloween tormenting the two. Convinced that Patrick is behind these massacres Mike is back on the hunt, certain that he can capture the elusive killer.
Needless to say, it isn’t the most original of plots. Between Trick being a stand in for Michael Myers and Detective Denver as a new version of Dr. Loomis it would be easy to mistake Trick as Lussier and Farmer’s old Halloween script with a few name changes. They even have Tom Atkins from Halloween 3: Season of the Witch in a fun cameo as Mr. Talbot. Rounding out the cast are Ellen Adair as Sheriff Jayne and Kristina Reyes as Cheryl, a survivor from Trick’s initial killing spree. Despite being two very different characters the two put their all into the role with Sheriff Jayne being the consummate professional and Cheryl as your classic final girl. Aside from a poorly cast Jamie Kennedy in a supporting role the cast do all they can to carry Trick’s cliché-ridden script.
With visual effects from Jean-Francois Beaulieu and visual effects supervisor Pete Sussi the one thing Trick has in bulk is gore. With Trick utilizing a mix of Saw-esque traps and good old-fashioned slashing Trick accumulates a nice little body count. Each kill emphasized by some gnarly looking practical effects. This would be great if Trick had a great slasher of its own. With a painted face and a variety of masks Trick is somehow not only the smartest guy in the room but also the faster than Usain Bolt and more proficient with weaponry than three John Wicks. So instead of Myers we get a 13-year old’s version of what the coolest and most XTREME Halloween movie would be like. We get an explanation for this near the end of the film but by then it’s too little too late.
Watching Trick I couldn’t help but think of Mark Millar’s (writer of Kick-Ass and Old Man Logan) comic book Nemesis. Working with artist Steve McNiven the two created classics. Letting the two work on their own project without any continuity to worry about seemed like a perfect idea. Yet when left unrestrained and to their own devices they stumbled over their own feet. The same can be said of director Patrick Lussier and writer Todd Farmer with Trick. With one too many ideas without all the resources Trick ends up feeling more like a collection of cool scenes without a proper through line and instead of creating the next horror legend we get another horror what if.
Links : IMDB
Trick is now available on VOD, DVD and Bluray
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