SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

book haul, books, comic books, currently reading, Harry Potter, Marvel, Netflix, recently watched, Spider-Man

For the next couple of weeks I have the whole house to myself. Now, I’ve seen Risky Business, I know what I’m meant to do with an empty house. It’s safe to say I’ve been enjoying the freedom. You know, showering at normally unsociable hours, playing the Hamilton soundtrack at full blast, and not locking the bathroom door. I think it’s safe to say I’m living life to the full right now. But, tearing myself away from the rock n roll lifestyle, I still have to stick to my schedule. So on with the rundown.
Currently Reading

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Well, kinda. I haven’t read a single page of this all week. Chamber of Secrets has always been one of my least favourite books. It’s still in the childish style of the first one but takes a long time to really get going. We have a lot of introductions to new characters and new ideas to get through. I think that explains my unwillingness to carry on with this. I know the story but I also know how long it takes to get there. I ain’t got time for that.
  • The 7th Fucntion of Language by Laurent Binet
Still slowly continuing with this one. It’s fascinating and really well written. This is the kind of book that Dan Brown wishes he could write. It’s historically accurate whilst also creating an exciting new timeframe. The investigation is moving along slowly, which is something that directly contrasts with The DaVinci Code; a book that rushes through its narrative instead of creating depth. I’d recommend this book to anyone but definitely think it deserves a more dedicated reader than I currently am.

Recently Purchased
  • Selection of Pulp the Classics
I already owned a few of these amazing editions (Pride and Prejudice, A Christmas Carol, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Great Gatsby) and absolutely love the covers. The other week, I saw a picture on Instagram of the full series and I fell in love with the Mr T cover of Othello. So I couldn’t get it out of my mind and decided I had to have it. Then, to make an order over £10, I had to buy more. I’ve added the following to my collection: Othello, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Jekyll and Hyde, and Three Men in a Boat. I can’t wait to get the rest.
  • Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy by Dan Slott
After I watched Spider-Man 2 the other week I remembered how much I loved Doc Octopus. He’s a great villain and a wonderful character in general. Obviously, I’ve been fascinated with the Superior Spider-Man comic book series since I first heard about it but I never got round to reading it. The series which sees Peter Parker’s subconscious being swapped with that of a dying Otto Octavius. Otto decides to live his life a Spider-Man and carry on Peter’s legacy. It’s an interesting concept and one I’m really looking forward to finally reading.
Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Bad Education, Teachers
I’d watched a few episodes of Jack Whitehall’s BBC2 comedy about an incompetent school teacher when it was on TV. I didn’t hate it but it certainly wasn’t the greatest comedy show I’d ever seen. Still, I’ve seen it on Netflix for a while and decided it would be perfect background noise at 5:30 am. Then, apparently carrying on my sudden school-based television obsession, I started watching the entire series of Teachers. To be honest, this isn’t on Netflix but I can’t have a separate category for all of my streaming services. I watched as a teenager this when it was on TV and loved it. Going back is wonderfully nostalgic and, I’m sure, goes someway to explain my long love of Belle and Sebastian. I’ve heard the tune to ‘Boy With the Arab Strap’ countless times in only a few episodes.
  • Snowpiercer
I reviewed this on Thursday and I managed to only spend a short amount of time talking about my love of Chris Evans. I think this shows great personal growth.

FBF – Spider-Man 2 (2004)

comic book, comic books, films, fucking ridiculous, James Franco, Marvel, reviews, Spider-Man, TBT

Ever since the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming this month the internet has eagerly been taking every chance it can to rank the web-slinger’s movies in order of brilliance. It’s just what we do. We can’t just appreciate things for their own merit. Oh, no. We have to make sure there is a definitive decision on which one you’re allowed to like the most. (She says hoping nobody picks up on the hypocrisy of someone who ranks things every first Wednesday of the month.) Apparently, it’s not possible to thing both the new film and the older films are all okay so we have to decide which is the best. I’ve seen so many lists in the last few days and things are getting crazy. After all, there aren’t that many live action Spider-Man films. There are, really, only 6. Which I assume is the reason that many people are desperately including Civil War on their list so it doesn’t seem so utterly pointless and pathetic. It’s not a fucking Spider-Man film; stop going out of your way to put Andrew Garfield’s film further down the list. So, before this goes into rant territory, the main topic of conversation that seems to exist now is whether the newest film is better than the film that previously topped the list: Toby Maguire’s sequel. It is widely acknowledged that his third time to put on the suit was the biggest disaster to happen to comic book movies ever but is Spider-Man 2 actually still better than Tom Holland’s first attempt? There’s only one way to find out.

Spider-Man 2 has been my favourite Spider-Man film for 13 years. That’s not really saying much because the 3 films that were released after it were all fairly questionable in their own way and, in some cases, that’s me being super generous. Spider-Man 2 managed to follow on from the groundwork laid out by Sam Raimi and Toby Maguire in their first film but actually make it a, you know, good film. It was more exciting that the first, the characters were given a chance to develop and we saw actual narrative complexity in Peter’s inability to decide who he really wanted to be. It had its flaws, certainly, but there was such a massive improvement from the origin story that it made for a really refreshing film. Even though some naysayers, mostly my really annoying colleague, who think it’s solely down to Doctor Octopus. Don’t get my wrong, he helps but there is so much to love about this film that you can forgive a lot of the incredibly cringe moments in it.

Like the ridiculous scene where an unmasked Spidey is carried, Christ-like, through the carriage of a train that he has just stopped from crashing. It’s a scene that shouldn’t really work but, in the context of this film, it becomes a powerful and emotional image. I want to hate it but, god damn it, I cry every time. Spider-Man introduced us to Peter and set him off on his journey but the sequel asks the question “what does it mean for his life?”. The first film ended with his rejecting Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst) to protect her from his secret life and it is a decision he has a hard time accepting here. He has loved Mary-Jane for years so he doesn’t understand why he can’t be happy in order to protect the city of New York. It’s a film in which Spider-Man spends about a quarter of the running time not being Spider-Man.

We pick up about 2 years after Peter told Mary-Jane that he didn’t love her and he’s having a rough time keeping up with his double life. He’s struggling in class, having money issues, and is clashing with Harry thanks to his supposed friendship with Spider-Man. He can’t be everything he needs to be and it all gets a lot worse when MJ tells him she’s seeing someone. Peter struggles with the reality that he can’t have a normal life when there are people to save. So he quits. Unfortunately, crazed scientist Dr Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) is going on a rampage through the city and fucking shit up with his AI mechanical tentacles. Will Peter pick up his suit again or let New York save itself?

This was a film that didn’t just want to see action sequences and big baddies putting people in danger. It wanted to focus on characters and the lives of people who put themselves in danger for others. Peter is constantly trying to juggle his desire to help people and his loyalty towards his best friend, Harry (James Franco) and love for Mary-Jane. Unlike the first film’s attempt to create depth and emotion in the horribly handled death of Uncle Ben, this film succeeds in giving Toby Maguire something to dig into and creates some real tension and drama. Incidentally, it also does a pretty good job in those other things thanks to Doctor Octopus, still one of the best villains in superhero movie history.

But is Spider-Man 2 better than Homecoming? I don’t know. Both are elevated above their status thanks to great performances by their leading villain and both have undeveloped and annoying side characters. I’m sorry but neither Ned or Liz got enough time to develop and the fuss made about Zendaya was ridiculous in comparison to her 15 minutes of screen time. Then we have Harry the most annoying BFF in history and Mary Jane who is only saved from being the blandest love interest in a superhero film thanks to Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. Both films have their flaws. Toby Maguire still isn’t great and is clearly overshadowed by Tom Holland. However, I think Homecoming suffers in terms of narrative but only because it’s setting up the franchise. It might not be an origin movie as such but it is this incarnations first film. It has a lot of boxes to tick and it slows things down. Spider-Man 2 has a great story. If I honestly had to pick I’d say the 2004 film just about gets it but, I admit, it’s probably damn close.

TBT – Spider-Man (2002)

comic book, comic books, films, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, Marvel, reviews, Spider-Man, TBT

Before the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming came out it seemed as though everybody in the world had decided without a shadow of a doubt that this was going to be the best Spider-Man film since 2004. Suddenly, Toby Maguire was being hailed as some sort of hero because of his role as Peter Parker. I get that there were many disappointing things about The Amazing Spider-Man but the mistakes weren’t down to Andrew Garfield. They were down to poor writing and Sony desperately trying to build a franchise to compete with Marvel Films. It was handled terribly but I’ve always been a fan of Garfield’s Peter… even though he is a tad too old to play a high school student. Plus, how was everyone forgetting that Toby Maguire is kind of a terrible actor in these films? Those tears when Uncle Ben dies? That’s been a pretty strong feature of the meme circuit for years now. I felt like I had fallen in an insane alternate reality where everybody else’s memories of those films were different from mine. So, I decided to rewatch them for this week… just to be sure.

Right, so first off, the opening credits of this film are so incredibly boring that I, genuinely, repeatedly played the Spider-Man: Homecoming arrangement of the Spider-Man theme song over them. It definitely improved my viewing from the off. No offence to Danny Elfman but that was a fucking weak opening number. Then, to add insult to injury, we are given that god-awful voiceover where Peter tries to get you pumped for his story. It’s the most over-the-top, melodramatic nonsense that I’ve ever heard. Take a look:

Who am I? You sure  you want to know? The story of my life is not for the faint of heart. If somebody told you it was a happy tale, if somebody said I was just your average guy, not a care in the world… somebody lied. But let me assure you, this, like any other story worth telling, is all about a girl.

Toby Maguire delivers these lines in such a hilariously bad way that it just mars the opening scene. It’s supposed to be dangerous and enthralling but it just feels like a parody. Which is exactly what Maguire’s portrayal of Peter Parker feels like nowadays. I know classic Peter was a massive loser and was kicked around by everyone but these films don’t even seem to put us on Pete’s side. He’s a dummy but he’s also super annoying. People don’t like him but he never gives us a reason to think they should. This film came out 15 years ago but this portrayal feels so outdated it could easily have 30.

Then we have Kirsten Dunst’s Mary-Jane: I don’t know what to say about her because she’s such a non-entity. I don’t see why people are so obsessed with her because she never does anything. She’s supposed to be the cool and nice girl next door that Peter has been obsessed with for years. However, she’s just the bland, popular girl with the shiny red hair and a really questionable dress sense. And, the less said about James Franco’s Harry Osborn the better frankly. It’s a ridiculous performance that is only marginally better than Franco’s turn hosting the Oscars. I’m not saying Andrew Garfield was everything we wanted in a Peter Parker but he was better than this shit. Plus, with supporting cast members like Emma Stone and Dane DeHaan I find it impossible to see how anyone can say, so confidently, that the Toby Maguire films are better.

Still, there are still some good things about these films. The classic 60s Aunt May, played by Rosemary Harris, seems even more like a bit of a fuddy-duddy when compared to the likes of Sally Field and Marisa Tomei but she’s still perfect. Then there’s Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin. It is, for the time being at least, the best version of that character we have ever seen. The fights between Goblin and Spidey are a better watch then the ones in Marc Webber’s version even when you consider how outdated the effects are now. It’s an exciting film to watch and it provides us with a great villain. I also think this film handles Peter’s introduction to his powers really well. There are some great scenes as he comes to terms with his new abilities and it allows for a better sense of how far he comes as a hero.

Spider-Man was an important film in terms of the history of comic book movies on screen. It has pride of place but it is important to remember that it is not the greatest film ever. It’s not even the greatest film in its own trilogy. It was lucky in the sense that it was one of the first comic book movies in the new era of comic book movies. It didn’t have much competition then. It also came out just after 9/11 when New York needed a hero to get behind. The scenes where New Yorkers come to Spidey’s aid will never not be poignant given the historical context of this film.

However, this film falls down because of some underwhelming key performances, a often awful script, and a badly written story. There is too much emphasis on unnecessary things and not enough of a development on important characters. The story collapses under the requirement to show Peter’s origin; both being bitten by the spider and though the death of his uncle. There is so much here that is just in for laughs or for show that you can’t help but wonder what would have happened if plot points hadn’t been glossed over. I would have preferred more time with Ben and May before his death because it just feels shallow here. I will always love this film but watching this now it is even more confusing that people are putting it on such a fucking high pedestal.

Tuesday’s (ish) Reviews – Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

comic book, comic books, films, fucking funny, Marvel, review, Robert Downey Jr, Spider-Man, super powers, superhero, teen movie, Tom Holland

I’ve always felt that Andrew Garfield got a bit of a rough deal when it came to his time as Spider-Man. He is now widely considered the worst version of the character to appear on screen but it’s hardly his fault. Now, I liked The Amazing Spider-Man and thought Garfield did a really good job with the character of Peter Parker. Yes, he wasn’t the same geeky, isolated young man that we’re used to but we’re living in a world where geek is cool. Garfield gave Peter some sass and it could have worked really well for him because Spider-Man has always been the sassy one. The films didn’t work because Garfield was bad but because he wasn’t given the right material. Sony fucked up the reboot in order to get it out in time. I think the things would have been very different if the actor had been given more of a chance and there had been more thought in the whole thing. Plus, there’s a lot of weird nostalgia surrounding Toby Magurire’s time as the character that I don’t really get. He’s not that good. It’s just that he was the first major big screen version of the character. It just boggles my mind that so much of the stuff I read before I saw Tom Holland’s first solo outing as the web-slinger was focused on how great Maguire was and how shit Garfield was. Let’s be honest, we could do better than both of the attempts Sony made and his brief time in Civil War showed that maybe Holland had what it took.

First off, I have to say it is super refreshing that the third reboot of Spider-Man in 15 years doesn’t feel the need to remind us of how the superhero came into being. We all get it by now: radioactive spider bite, superpowers, move into heroics. Yes, there is a brief reference to it but it is so underplayed that it doesn’t matter. Instead, the main action picks up shortly after the evens of Captain America: Civil War as Peter Parker is eagerly awaiting his next call to assemble. Instead, he is left dealing with petty street crime and helping old ladies carry their shopping. Safe to say, the young man is bored. Until he stumbles upon a black market that is selling weapons made out of salvaged alien technology. Run by the mysterious Vulture (Michael Keaton) who literally, thanks to his mechanical wings, swoops in and steals the technology from under the government’s nose.

Spidey, keen to prove to Tony Stark that he can handle the big stuff, starts investigating the Vulture’s gang but constantly finds himself out of his depth. Especially as he’s also trying to make his way through highschool unscathed and get noticed by school hottie, Liz (Laura Harrier). As well as being influenced by the MCU in general, director Jon Watts clearly takes a lot from the coming-of-age films of people like John Hughes. There are countless on-screen references to high-school comedies and there is one particular Ferris Bueller joke that is totally on point. This is a Peter Parker who really is living in two worlds and trying to balance the two. He is an awkward but intelligent young man who worries about girls and grades just as much as he worries about stopping bad guys.

Despite only being on screen for a few minutes in Civil War, Tom Holland had already made a massive impressive on fans of the MCU before Homecoming came along thanks to his portrayal of Peter Parker. It is the best on screen version of the teenager that we’ve ever seen. Holland’s Parker feels the most realistically young version that we’ve ever seen and has been updated for 2017 teenagers. He is techno-savvy but awkward in a way that doesn’t come across as annoying. He reacts to getting superpowers the way that most of us would have done at that age. We can all empathise  with his fanboy reaction to the likes of Tony Stark. He gets caught up in the bigger picture and tries to run before he can walk but it is done with the best intentions. The character definitely has that Marvel sense of development that was lacking in both Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s turns. Holland finally gives us the Peter we deserve.

That is not to say that I agree with the people happily declaring that Homecoming is the best superhero movie of the year. I really enjoyed the film and did so as soon as I heard the arrangement of the ‘Spider-Man theme song’ playing over the film’s opening sequence. It is a light-hearted and fun affair that captures the spirit of the character. However, I confess that I felt there was a bit of a disparity between it’s two identities. I realise that the film wanted to situate itself within the MCU whilst also ensuring that this was a Spider-Man film in it’s own right. However, it just feels a bit too confused. It just doesn’t feel enough like either. We have the standard MCU final showdown that is kind of underwhelming in the grand scheme of things but then we also have the teen movie moments like high school parties. Individually these things are fine but they just seemed a bit too at odds for me. I’d have preferred one or the other. I think future Spider-Man films with Holland have the potential to be superb if he can remove himself from the Avengers. This film seemed more about taking the character and showing us that he was firmly part of the family instead of giving him a solo outing.

Still, this isn’t something that really hindered my overall enjoyment of the film. There is plenty to love about the film and, despite my annoyance, it’s always nice to see more RBJ and Jon Favreau on screen. Of course, the greatest strength, after Holland, is clearly Michael Keaton’s Vulture. The Vulture isn’t the biggest or baddest villain that we’ve ever seen in the MCU but he is perfect. Keaton plays him so well and he feels like a realistic result of the increased super-activity in the MCU. There is a scene towards the end of the film where the Vulture and Peter Parker come face-to-face for the first time and the whole scene is perfect. Keaton doesn’t overplay the character but still manages to be chilling and terrifying. Spider-Man: Homecoming has some mistakes, that can’t be ignored, but it’s been 13 years since we last had a film about the character to get really excited about. I see a great deal of potential with this incarnation.

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

Andy Serkis, book haul, books, comic books, currently reading, Dr Who, Harry Potter, J K Rowling, Marvel, Netflix, recently watched, Spider-Man

So my week off work is over and I was back at work yesterday. It’s safe to say I ached everywhere when I got home yesterday and couldn’t face anything. Which, actually, also sums up my week off. Having planned to get some shit done in terms of reading, I actually didn’t get much done. I carried on in my attempt to reread Harry Potter but that was the extent. Turns out, after weeks of not getting enough sleep, your body reacts to a holiday by sleeping a lot. I’m not complaining I just wish I’d done more. Still, I managed to see some friends and do some fun stuff. So I shouldn’t really complain.
Currently Reading

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
The closes I came to reading this week was when I started the second book in the Harry Potter series. I didn’t get too far. I don’t even think we’ve reached the burrow yet. However, this won’t take a long time to finish so I’m not exactly worried about it.

  • The 7th Fucntion of Language by Laurent Binet
Not read any of this in weeks but I’m going to start again tonight. We’ll get there. I promise you, the length of time it’s taking me to read this is no reflection on the book itself because it’s been impeccable so far. I’m just fucking useless at the moment.

Recently Purchased
  • The Answers by Catherine Lacey
I’m meant to be on a book buying ban at the moment but this book, that is on my ‘Most Anticipated Fiction of 2017’ list, proved too much to resist. I’m really looking forward to it. It feels like it might be a lighter read than my current book, The 7th Function of Language. It sounds like it has the potential go further down the chick-lit road than I’d usually like but I’ll keep my mind open.


Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Dr Who, Various Marvel Films
I rewatched the anniversary episode of Dr Who recently and I still cry every single time. It’s the perfect episode and each other version of the Doctor is perfect in his own way. It is a great celebration of the show and really changed the whole tone of the show. After spending loads of time since it came back brooding, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi were free to have a bit more fun in the role after this. A game changer. Then I spent my week off watching all of the newly added Marvel films to Netflix UK. I’d seen them all before but it’s always nice to go back.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
I managed to get to the cinema and see this the day it was released in the UK. It’s safe to say that I have lots of feelings. See you Tuesday.

  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
This was one when I got home from work and, lacking the energy to do anything more productive, I lay in bed watching it. It’s the first time I’ve seen it since the first time and it was incredible. Andy Serkis and co are amazing as the Apes. The story is fantastic and it was a really good start to this story. It’s only got me more excited about the third film. I was planning on linking to my own review of the film or it’s sequel but it turns out I failed to do a post on either. I guess I need to rectify that soon.

Top 10 Wen-sday: Top 10 Films I’m Looking Forward To This Year

Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, comic book, comic books, films, Harrison Ford, Hugh Jackman, Kenneth Branagh, list, Marvel, Spider-Man, Star Wars, super powers, superhero, Top 10, Wolverine

So last week I released my list of books that I’m most looking forward to (probably not) reading this year. So I decided, as it’s that time of the month when I need to create a list of 10 random things, that it was only fair that I put down on e-paper the films that I’m most excited to see this year. It turns out that was really fucking hard. There are a lot of great films coming out and I’m super excited about all of them. Even really surprising ones. I mean, had you asked me this time last year, that I’d be quite looking forward to seeing Michael Keaton star in the story of the founder of McDonalds I’d have thought you were mad. Now, however, I think it looks pretty good. I mean I love Keaton and it stars the internet’s favourite man’s man Nick Offerman. Plus, there was a point when I didn’t think I wanted to see The Social Network but that turned out better than expect. I also, even more shockingly, became fairly interested in the Justice League film. I’m still not ecstatic about the release because the last two films in DC’s arsenal were utter dogshit. I think it’s basically just down to Jason Momoa though. And Batfleck. But, before I get distracted by sexy superheroes, I should present the list… with more than enough sexy superheroes.
Ten: War for the Planet of the Apes

I really enjoyed 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and I loved Rise of the Planet of the Apes back in 2011. The rebooted franchise has created some fantastic pequels so I’m incredibly keen to see what’s coming next.

Nine: Blade Runner 2049

Of course I’m excited about the prospect of Harrison Ford returning to the role of Rick Deckard but there is still a part of me that worries. It’s been a long time. Still, everything we’ve seen so far looks good and gives a positive feeling. Plus, director Denis Villeneuve directed last year’s Arrival which everyone seemed to fucking love. So it’s probably in safe hands.

Eight: Murder on the Orient Express

Probably not going to be top of too many people’s lists but I think I’m going to enjoy this one. It’s Kenneth Branagh directing himself and a shitload of really famous actors to retell the classic Hercule Poirot tale. Yes, we all know who did it but that’s not the point. It’s about watching our favourite Belgian detective work out those “leetle grey cells” to figure it out. And, at this point, I think I’d allow Branagh to play anybody.

 Seven: Alien: Covenant

I know it received mixed reviews but I kinda liked Prometheus. I mean it was a bit of a fucking mess but, for the most part, I think it was a decent film. I get why people were upset though. It was billed as the epic prequel to one of the best films ever made but it didn’t even feature the titular alien creature. So, this year’s follow up should make amends for that if the poster is anything to go by. Really, this could be a retelling of the first Alien film and this would fair better than Prometheus. Plus, you know, Michael Fassbender is fucking weird in this role.

 Six: Logan Lucky

I’m kinda getting sick of Steven Soderbergh telling us he’s retiring and then making another film. Or at least I would be sick of it if it wasn’t for the idea of another Soderbergh film. It’s been 4 years since he made the announcement and now he’s back making a comedy about a robbery duing a NASCAR race. It’s got an interesting and star-studded line-up. What we know about the plot sounds kinda ropey but it’s fucking Soderbergh. How can you ignore it?

Five: Thor: Ragnorak

I know Thor isn’t everyone’s favourite part of the MCU but I’m a massive fan of his first film. I think the second was kind of dodgy but I still have faith in this series. The huge-armed Norse God is back for his third film and, for anyone that knows anything about Norse mythology will know, Ragnorok can only mean trouble. Thankfully, Thor is helped by his pal the Hulk and Marvel’s newest sign-up Doctor Strange. We’ve lost the unnecessary and bland Jane but I’m sure nobody, Natalie Portman included, is crying about that.

Four: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy was a sort of surprisingly huge hit when it came out 3 years ago. It introduced us to the ragtag bunch of people who accidentally get caught up in trying to save the world. Their second film promises much of the things that made the first one great so obviously I’m excited. But, as we’ve learnt by now, Marvel sequels don’t have the greatest track record. I mean, to date, only 1 follow-up manages to equal/improve on the first film: The Winter Soldier. At the worst we have Iron Man 2 (happily improved upon with Iron Man 3) but the rest were all just kind of meh. So, I do have a fear that Guardians 2 will just try and replay all of it’s greatest hits without offering up any new material. As much as I love him, I need more than just “I am Groot” but said in a baby voice now.

Three: Spider-Man: Homecoming

If Civil War taught us anything it was that a Marvel controlled Spider-Man film could be the best thing ever. Then the trailer for Homecoming was released and it definitely backed up the claim. Tom Holland looks set to steal Andrew Garfield’s crown as best portrayal of the web-slinger. Still, this is the 3 time in about 15 years that this franchise has been rebooted and it’s the 3 different actor to lend his face to the role. I’m not sure it was necessary and, more worryingly, I feel that Marvel are pushing Tony Stark too much. Maybe his role will work in the film as a whole but, from what we’ve seen so far, this could very easily become the Iron Man show. And that would be an injustice.

Two: Star Wars Episode 8 

Well, duh! Rogue One was the best Star Wars film to be released since the originals and it got me incredibly excited for what’s coming next. The Force Awakens did a great job of bringing us back into the world but left so many things unanswered. This is the time to find out. Plus, it’s directed by Rian Johnson who also did Brick and Looper so we’re in pretty safe hands.  

One: Logan

There was really no other choice for the number 1 spot. Logan is a key film this year for so many reasons. Mostly because, after 17 years, Hugh Jackman is finally saying goodbye to the character. It’s so weird to think that he’s been playing the guy for so long. He basically is Wolverine at this point. I can’t imagine anyone else having taken the character this far if Jackman hadn’t got the role. Add to that the fact that it’s the character’s first film to receive an R-rating. Last year’s Deadpool showed us that it’s no bad thing to make comic book movies just for adults so it feels right that Jackman should get to show us what Logan can really do for this final time. The comic book Wolverine was always an incredibly violent character and that’s not really been able to come across in any of the others. We need to see him really letting his anger out. I’m so fucking pumped for this film.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Andrew Garfield, comic book, Emma Stone, Marvel, origin story, reboot, review, Spider-Man

2012 was, without a doubt, the year of the comic book movie. Back in April Avengers Assemble brought together some of Marvel’s biggest names in a fantastic (though not without its flaws) group effort that paves the way for a potentially epic franchise. It was the year that Christopher Nolan fanboys had been waiting for with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, the disappointing end to his Dark Knight trilogy. In between these two highly anticipated releases came the reboot of Spider-Man. After three increasingly terrible Toby Maguire fronted films it was down to Marc Webb (who I assume was approached mainly based on the suitability of his name) to try and breathe new life into the well-known origin story of everyone’s favourite web-slinging geek. Considering it had only been five years since Spider-Man 3 brought an end to the Maguire/Sam Raimi relationship, the question on many people’s lips was “is this really necessary?” From the initial announcement of the reboot back in 2010 the internet came together to denounce the film with the expected mix of hyperbole, hysteria and CAPS LOCK. It’s safe to say, there was an awful lot at stake here.

The end result? Marc Webb’s follow-up film to his hugely successful (500) Days of Summer is in no way close to the painful travesty that the internet feared but neither does it seem like a totally fresh reboot to a dwindling franchise. Thankfully, in my opinion at least, it stays away from the exceedingly dark and complex style of Nolan’s Batman Begins. We are instead faced with scenes very familiar to anyone who watched Raimi’s film but with another of Peter Parker’s leading ladies and a different green villain. The film is neither a stand-out nor an utter abomination. The plot doesn’t quite hold up and the action sequences are not the slickest we’ve ever been treated to but, it is important to remember, Webb’s focus for his opening is the characters themselves. The only reason this film doesn’t fall apart under the weight of its own insignificance is the incredibly strong performances on display, especially from the likeable leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.


Since the release of Spider-Man in 2002 the role of geeks in popular culture has changed somewhat. It is computer programmers that run the world and the science nerds of The Big Bang Theory who get all the women. Garfield’s Parker is an updated and slightly cooler young man than Toby Maguire’s version of our hero. He understands science, has epic skateboard skillz and has enough of a badass attitude to skate through the halls of his High School after being told not to. Oooh. The Peter Parker for the 2010s is basically a mix of The Big Bang Theory’s Leonard and Seth Cohen from The OCbut with Andrew Garfield’s charm and great hair. Don’t let the hair fool you though, Peter is still as much of an outsider as he ever was. Although, not enough of an outsider that the stunning Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) never notices him. It doesn’t completely add up to the person we are used to seeing. He isn’t the socially awkward, science-loving loner. He is confident enough to step in to help another kid being bullied at the hands of Flash and openly flirt with Gwen. As much as it may pain me to type it, I have to admit that Toby Maguire was actually a more convincing portrayal of this character. Although it is still not that simple because I find that Garfield is a more likeable character. He is cheeky, sarcastic and just enough of a dick. No matter how awful and bratty our hero got during the course of this film I found that I liked him. The only reason for this I can see is Garfield’s talented performance.

Garfield is helped along the way thanks to a superb supporting cast and his new leading lady. Stone’s Gwen Stacey is a great improvement on Kirsten Dunst’s bland Mary-Jane. She is feisty and intelligent and, like all good crime-fighting widows, doesn’t hesitate to get stuck in when it comes to stopping evil. There is no doubt that the chemistry between Garfield and Stone is outstanding. The two leads tiptoe into their romance brilliantly and, despite a few moments where it looks like Garfield has descended into Hugh Grant-esque bumbling, it is lovely to watch them nervously pursue each other. My only concern stems from the fact that both Stone and Garfield are pushing the limits of the acceptable age limit for actors to be able to play teenagers. Perhaps it would have been better if this film had not been a reboot but simply a new direction? 

After all, there really is no getting away from the fact that this film is an origin story. There is very little room to manoeuvre with the story of how Parker becomes super: geeky guy, spider, bite, bingo. Therefore, this all seems a little bit too familiar and tired. That isn’t to say that Webb doesn’t pull it off well. There are some enjoyable scenes where we see Spidey getting to grips with his powers through several moments of slapstick comedy. We also have a fairly satisfying, if slightly aggressive, Revenge of the Nerdsstyle humiliation of bully Flash. Parker isn’t infallible and makes mistakes. It’s refreshing to have a superhero origin story that takes a more comic and laid-back approach and doesn’t give our new hero some kind of autopilot when it comes to crime fighting. Although this would have meant we could avoid the ridiculous rehash of Uncle Ben’s “with great power” speech. Is it just me that can hear the writers madly searching for a synonym for ‘responsibility’?  

In a decidedly Nolan-esque turn, family skeletons are brought out of the closet thanks to the brief inclusion of Peter’s parents; most importantly his father, acclaimed scientist Richard Parker. Young Petey is packed up in the middle of the night and left with his aunt and uncle (played by the wonderful but criminally underused Sally Fields and Martin Sheen). It is the discovery of his father’s briefcase and hidden research notes years later that leads him to the laboratory of Dr Curt Connors, Richard’s one-armed ex-research partner. Here he is exposed to a whole new world of scientific experimentation and that life-changing bite. After a few teenage strops and door slamming, Peter is faced with the death of his beloved Uncle Ben and the guilt of deciding not to act to prevent it. The loss is the push needed to start his second-life and attempt to track down all criminals with a similar description to his uncle’s killer. I know there are people who criticised this plot strand but I enjoyed it. It would have been nice if it hadn’t been dropped half-way through the film and just forgotten about. In an ideal world Spidey would have continued to track down his nemesis only to discover that his future lay in heroics rather than revenge.

Of course, the more exciting route is, in a weird nod to Frankenstein, to give Peter the information that inadvertently gives life to his first supervillain, the Lizard, and feel compelled to destroy his monstrous creation. Rhys Ifans’ Curt Connors is a man who dreams of gaining the reptilian ability to regrow his lost limb. His obsession drives his research and his untested serum brings forth a horrific mutant who quickly becomes distracted by his sudden, desperate need to bring forth a new superhuman race. Ifans is a wonderful actor but the character of Dr Connors doesn’t give him enough room to bring his own personality to the table. Any depth that there could have been in the character is removed given his straight change from desperate scientist to a giant lizard out to cause some havoc. The whole plot is rushed and the character remains pretty 2-dimensional. He is used, along with Parker’s parents, to allow the writers to start to create an air of mystery and darkness around the Oscorp Corporation and the unseen Norman Osborn. Like so many bland origin stories, The Amazing Spider-Man was created to open the way for the franchise’s future.

This film had a great amount of potential with a top quality cast and an incredibly likeable leading man. However, it was simply going over much travelled ground and lazily preparing for future films. It is by no means the terrible film that most of the internet community would have you believe but nor is it the great film it deserved to be. It is a stepping stone for the future but was rushed and unconsidered.  The plot is sloppy and there are several glaring holes in the plot. The characters are not given the introduction that they deserve or are utterly wasted. I, for one, would have liked to see a more fleshed out Captain Stacy and a much more satisfactory death (if that was even necessary in the opening film). It was an unavoidable fact that the internet was never going to approve of this film no matter what the final piece looked like but don’t believe the naysayers completely. This film is good. It is by no means amazing but still a very enjoyable ride. My overall message to Marc Webb then: (in the words of Gwen Stacy herself) “I thought it was great what you did out there. Stupid, but great.”