Bro-Reviews: Venom

Venomous to the comic book film genre.

Since his introduction in 1988, Venom has held a special place in the hearts of “Spider-Man” and Marvel Comics fans alike. Venom reached iconic status, becoming one of Spider-Man’s most frequent adversaries and even reached anti-hero status in later iterations of the character. With his place in comics history cemented, many yearned for Venom to appear in film. That wish came to fruition when Venom made his film debut in 2007’s “Spider-Man 3”, but Venom’s appearance yielded mixed results at best. Sony took this in stride, however, attempting to make a solo outing for Venom despite the disastrous results of their “The Amazing Spider-Man” series, resulting in Marvel Studios acquiring some of the rights to Spider-Man. While Sony could have chosen to partner with Marvel Studios to make a solid film adaptation of the beloved symbiote fans deserved, Sony chose to bring us “Venom”, the first in what they hope will be a universe building film adjunct to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Spider-verse. 

“Venom” sees Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a sleazy ambush journalist with a checkered past based in San Francisco, investigating a start-up company called the Life Foundation, headed by CEO Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). When Brock receives help from Dr. Dora Smith (Jenny Slate), a scientist working with Drake, Brock discovers the Life Foundation has been conducting illegal experiments on humans to bond human bodies with an alien substance called “symbiotes”. Eddie becomes infected by one of these symbiotes, and with Drake and the Life Foundation coming after him and everyone he loves, Brock’s symbiote alter-ego “Venom” awakens to wreak havoc.

There is no doubt Tom Hardy is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood, and is more than capable of pulling off the legendary villain/ anti-hero. Hardy gives it his all, and one can tell he is having fun and definitely committed to the role. Venom himself is also an impressive special effect, as he is able to pull off a couple of cool action sequences and does manage to deliver some of his trademark quirky humor that made him a beloved character. 

Unfortunately, that’s where all of the positives end in this atrocity that would’ve been considered outdated in 2004. “Venom” features one of the most uninspiring stories in comic book film history, as having the focus of the film center on a shady organization conducting unethical experiments with the intent of saving humanity is an insult to the word cliche. And although comic book movies have made a habit of altering their heroes’ origins, so much of Venom’s origin is severely misguided without the presence of Spider-Man. For the uninitiated, the symbiote attempts to bond with Spider-Man/ Peter Parker, but Parker rejects him, leading the symbiote the attach to Eddie Brock, who has an axe to grind with Parker, instead. Without Peter Parker/ Spider-Man, “Venom” feels bereft of important story elements and character developments, rendering the symbiote’s first solo outing borderline pointless. 

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Tom Hardy in Sony’s “Venom”.

But the problems for “Venom” don’t end there. Most of the film’s secondary characters add nothing to the film, in particular Michelle Williams, who plays Brock’s ex, Anne Weying. Williams and Hardy have zero chemistry on screen, yet much of the film’s’ first half before we even get to Venom himself focuses on their real action ship along with other pointless aspects of Brock’s life. Those familiar with HBO’s “The Night Of” know what Riz Ahmed is capable of, but in “Venom”, his attempts at selling the crummy material he’s given make him come across as trying too hard. Combine these aspects with an anticlimactic final boss fight riddled with special effects, unexplored story pieces regarding Venom being a “loser” on his planet, and jarring tone shifts from serious action to slapstick comedy, and “Venom” is a total mess.


(WARNING: The following paragraph contains spoilers for “Venom”. Please skip this paragraph if you do not wish to read any spoilers).

“Venom” could’ve just been an outdated, trashy comic book movie a la “Daredevil”, but the film’s mid credits scene makes it one of the biggest wastes of time and potential in comic book movie history. In the scene, Eddie Brock travels to San Quentin State Prison to interview an incarcerated serial killer, Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson, who wears a red wig that makes him look like Carrot Top). Kasady claims that once he breaks out of prison, there is going to be “Carnage”. The audacity of Sony to tease a sequel and universe with Venom as the main character is beyond insulting, and those who are interested in a sequel or further developments of this universe should be required to wear dunce caps in order to highlight the fact they have no taste in films. 


“Venom” is a disaster that could have been avoided. Sony could’ve waited and teamed up with Marvel Studios to bring Venom to life in the new “Spider-Man” series that is part of the MCU. This way, not only would the character get the big screen adaptation he deserves, but would also allow Sony and Marvel Studios to makes millions or perhaps billions of dollars in the process. Instead, Sony’s greed clouded their judgement and resulted in them making a misguided project that should have never been green-lit and will make fans look back at Venom in “Spider-Man 3” more fondly than they could have ever imagined. “Venom” is an entry that represents the worst the comic book film genre has to offer, and one that continues to highlight Sony’s incompetence that resulted in them having joint custody of their beloved web slinger. Should the response to “Venom” be poisonous enough, that joint custody could extend to this beloved villain/ anti hero sooner rather than later. 

Rating: 1/4 Stars. Stay away.

“Venom” Stars Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Michelle Lee, and Woody Harrelson. It is in theaters now.

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Bro-Reviews: Avengers: Infinity War

The Marvel to end all marvels.

There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe thrilling us again and again with each new release. Over the last decade, Marvel Studios has meticulously built their universe to the point where each new release wasn’t just an event to behold on the silver screen, but also a necessity to see. Marvel’s gamble seemed to have paid off large dividends with the release of their first team up film, 2012’s “The Avengers”, breaking numerous box office records at the time and came with the promise that bigger and better was coming. Even with the disappointment of 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, audiences have waited in anticipation for Marvel’s promise to bring every single Marvel Cinematic Universe character and film together in “Avengers: Infinity War”. Even though the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the envy of Hollywood to the point multiple studios have tried copying the formula but to less than stellar results (*see the DC comics extended universe and Universal’s Dark Universe*), could the mighty MCU crumble under their own ambition of assembling most, if not all, of its heroes into one feature length film?

“Avengers: Infinity War” takes place immediately after the events of “Thor: Ragnarok”, where Thanos (Josh Brolin) is on a quest to collect the six infinity stones in order to restore balance to time and space. With the threat of doom to mankind and the universe at stake, it’s up to the heroes of earth and the galaxy to team up and stop Thanos before he accomplishes his task and the cosmos are affected.

Marvel has once again aptly sown all of its unique, intricate pieces together into the class of super hero movies. Much credit must be given to the superstar directing team of the Russo brothers, Anthony and Joseph, who have yet to make a bad MCU film. It’s wonder how the directors of “You, Me, and Dupree” have made arguably two of the best MCU films, “Captain America: The Winter Solider” and “Captain America: Civil War”, and yet have somehow outdone themselves once again by tackling the most ambitious and perhaps even the most expensive films ever made.

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Chris Pratt and Robert Downey Jr. in “Avengers: Infinity War”.

The stakes couldn’t be higher in “Infinity War”, and the film definitely illuminates the catastrophic consequences. One of the benefits of building a universe for a decade is the audience is attached to all of the intertwining characters and story lines, so there’s a true sense of loss and despair when the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther and company come face to face with impending doom. In regards to the film’s central villain, Josh Brolin’s Thanos may come with some trademark villainous background, but he’s easily one of if not the most complex and interesting villains the MCU has ever seen, and the exploration of his relationship with his adoptive daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) packs an emotional punch. But the film is not bereft of laughs at all, as Marvel’s trademark timely humor is also ever present and as belly aching as ever, a welcome necessity considering the dire outcomes facing the heroes we have come to grow with and love.

As mentioned early, the Russo brothers are somehow able to make sure every seemingly single character we’ve come across in the MCU over the last decade gets their time to shine. This lends itself well to the action sequences, which are breathtaking to say the least. The constant shifting from set piece to set piece could come across as jarring for most, but it feels like a natural progression in “Infinity War”. There’s no doubt the film is exhausting at two and a half hours trying to include everyone, but it feels almost necessary for the film to be this way, and the film’s ending cliffhanger leaves audiences asking questions and yearning for answers.

“Avengers: Infinity War” is the Marvel to end all marvels. Its blending of every single major Marvel Cinematic Universe film and character into one cohesive story that serves as only a part one to what should be a tremendous book end to an incredible era nearly tops 2012’s “The Avengers” and 2008’s “The Dark Knight” as the best comic book films ever made. Nobody does it better than Marvel Studios, as they have once again changed the game in terms of not only the genre of film they make, but Hollywood blockbusters in general. Sure, by the end of it you may feel distraught, begging for answers, and perhaps even needing a nap, but “Avengers: Infinity War” isn’t just a marvel to see unfold on the silver screen, but a tremendous achievement that sets a new standard in blockbuster filmmaking.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars. Pay full price.

“Avengers: Infinity War” stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Lettia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleson, Idris Elba, Karen Gillan, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Peter Dinklage, Carrie Coon, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, and Josh Brolin. It is in theaters now.

Bro-Reviews: Black Panther

A marvel for the culture.

Despite its near blemish-less resume, there are some who believe the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, has grown a bit stale and complacent. With numerous sequels to already established properties and retreads when making new films featuring other popular Marvel Comics characters, some of those detractors aren’t necessarily wrong for wanting Disney’s Marvel Studios to be more flavorful than vanilla. However, when trailers dropped last summer for Black Panther, not only did Marvel seem to answer some of those critics, but also excited the already established fan-base and gained the intrigue of the uninitiated.  Months later, Black Panther has clawed its way into theaters as one of the most daring and original films the Marvel machine has ever released.

Black Panther takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War, as the new king of the secret African nation Wakanda, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), assumes the throne shortly after the assassination of his father and former king of Wakanda, T’Chaka (John Kani). While T’Challa struggles with feelings of uneasiness in taking over, some of Wakanda’s greatest resource, vibranium, has been stolen by the nation’s arch nemesis and his unknown associate, “Klaw” (Andy Serkis) and “Killmonger” (Michael B. Jordan). With the prospect of their treasured resource being used as weapons to harm others and the threat of dark secrets of Wakanda possibly being revealed, T’Challa must don the armor of the Black Panther to put a stop to these enemies and protect Wakanda.

Black Panther is without a doubt the most involved film the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever produced. While some have noticed the parallels of recent additions to the MCU, such as Doctor Strange and its similarities to Iron Man, Black Panther takes one of the most beloved black comic book characters and gives him the most original film Marvel has released in quite some time. The setting of Wakanda is realized in a way no other Marvel world has ever been before, as its vibrant colors and cultural personalities of each of the Wakandan tribes living there are on full display, making the world feel like a character in its own right. Much praise must be given to director Ryan Coogler, as the young director has graduated from small to medium budget independent and studio films to blockbuster level films with astronomical budgets with ease. The fact that Disney, a studio who has been marred by controversial interpretations of race over the years, allowed for a $200 million budget for a film with predominantly black actors and filmmakers to express their artistic capabilities with one of the studio’s most prized money makers and didn’t meddle with the production is astounding, and the results are nothing short of revolutionary.

Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan in “Black Panther”.

Black Panther also weaves a complex plot unlike any blockbuster, let alone a Marvel film, before. So often blockbusters are only popcorn flicks, where the mindset is to turn your brain off, watch things blow-up on screen, and have a good time without thinking too much. Not only does Black Panther provide such thrills, but it also highlights key social issues that continue to plague the world today. Important social commentary on the subjects of racism, colonialism, and nationalism are present throughout, and the storytellers do not shy away from them. This makes Black Panther even more incredible and groundbreaking not only in the MCU, but for Hollywood blockbusters as well, proving filmmakers can not only put their cultural stamp on a big-budgeted film, but can also emphasize important historical subject matters as well.

The main benefactor from the aforementioned themes is the film’s main villain “Killmonger”, played by Michael B. Jordan. Jordan and Coogler have created magic in the past as collaborators in Fruitvale Station and Creed, and it continues in Black Panther. “Killmonger” is a villain the audience not only understands, but can empathize with on many levels. His arch and motives incorporate the social issues highlighted earlier, and while understandable, also makes him a diabolical villain. Make no mistake about it, Jordan breaks ground as the villain, the best the MCU has ever created, and trumps even the great Andy Serkis in the film.

Somehow, this makes Boseman’s somewhat stoic T’Challa one of the less interesting characters in the film, but we as an audience understand his plight as a king not only wanting to protect his nation, but also atone for its previous sins. Black Panther also features the strongest female characters in the MCU, most notably from Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright. It’s refreshing to see such strong female characters on screen, and the fact the film highlights them as Wakanda’s warriors and protectors is daring and pays huge dividends. The rest of the ensemble cast, rounded out by Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, Winston Duke, and Angela Basset, also acquit themselves well in the film, as each character shines in their own way.

Black Panther matters. It proves predominantly black filmmakers and actors can not only make a movie oozing with black culture competently, but also in a groundbreaking fashion. It’s still jaw-dropping Disney in no way, shape, or form interfered with the production of the film and allowed the artists to fully realize their artistic ambitions, and the result is not just a beautiful and thrilling game-changing addition to the MCU, but for Hollywood blockbusters as well. If this glowing review along with the many others Black Panther has garnered results in huge box-office receipts, more films such as Black Panther should be on the way.

Rating: 4/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.

Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Basset, John Kani, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. It is in theaters February 16th.

 

 

Bro-Reviews: Thor: Ragnarok

Ragnarok Rocks.

Ever since the release of 2008’s Iron Man from Marvel Studios, the Marvel movie making machine has not slowed down. The output of Marvel movies increased further when Marvel Studios was purchased by Walt Disney, as there have been at least 2 Marvel Cinematic Universe films released every year with the exceptions of 2010 and 2012. While most if not all of those films have been successful, the mighty Thor has somewhat struggled with critical acclaim. 2011’s Thor received mixed to positive reactions, and it’s sequel, Thor: The Dark World, is often regarded as one of the weakest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the arrival of Thor: Ragnarok finally here, can the God of Thunder finally lay claim to his own great solo outing?

Thor: Ragnarok sees Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleson), discovering a secret buried deep within their family history involving Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death. Hela disposed of them quickly, and Thor finds himself on the planet Sakaar. There, he must recruit his former Avengers teammate and now celebrated gladiator, the Incredible Hulk/ Bruce Banner (voiced by Lou Ferrigno, portrayed by Mark Ruffalo), and a former Asgardian warrior, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), to battle Hela before she takes over Asgard and the cosmos.

While Thor is indeed an Avenger, he’s always felt like one of the B-level members of the team, and his solo outings don’t quite compare favorably to his teammates, Captain America chief among them. Thor: Ragnarok, however, finally delivers everything we’ve ever wanted in a Thor movie. Thor: Ragnarok is the most colorful, and quite possibly the funniest, Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date.

Chris Hemsworth may be exploited mainly for his chiseled abs and chest, but he’s always done an excellent job as the God of Thunder. He oozes charisma and has excellent comedic timing this time around, making his third outing as Thor his finest yet. Tom Hiddleson is as sleazy as ever as the God of Mischief Loki, making him an excellent counter to Hemsworth’s Thor. The combination of Lou Ferrigno and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk brings the most laughs we’ve ever seen from the character, and it’s good to finally see Marvel take a more light-hearted approach while still delivering enough emotional baggage with the big guy.

Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Tom Hiddleson in “Thor:Ragnarok.”

Cate Blanchett may seem like she’s above material such as this, but she brings her Oscar caliber chops to the table as Hela. Sure, she suffers from the same issue seemingly all Marvel villains have, i.e. “I want to be the ruler of them all” syndrome, but she’s one of the more memorable villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tessa Thompson also gives a knockout performance as Valkyrie, proving she’s an actress to be reckoned with. While Jeff Goldblum is essentially playing the new internet parody version of himself as the Grandmaster of Sakaar, he’s equally funny as he is odd. Other supporting cast members including Idris Elba returning as Heimdall and Anthony Hopkins reappearing as Odin do their jobs as well, and even the Thing knockoff Korg played by director Taika Waititi is a comic delight. Even Karl Urban is able to add to the film in his small role as Skurge, proving that director Taika Waititi can get the most out of what is a stellar ensemble cast.

The real star of Thor Ragnarok, however, are the special effects and environments. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s creation come to life in Thor: Ragnarok, as one of the most vibrant and lively comic book settings are fully realized like never before. Asgard is as breathtaking as ever, and remains of the key staples to Marvel’s other worldly universe. The latest addition that takes the cake in terms of new environments is the planet Sakaar. Sure, on the surface it looks like a glorified landfill in space, but within the city and the palace of the Grandmaster is a colorful setting that transports you to another universe that is nothing short of breathtaking.

The action sequences also deliver in a big way. The battle between Thor and Hulk on Sakaar is one of the best fights Marvel has ever choreographed, and the final battle on Asgard is as compelling of a climatic battle as you’ll see on film. Director Taika Waititi delivers the most vivid and lively Marvel film yet, and that’s no easy feat considering it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s clear he and Marvel decided to go all in on the visuals and effects for Thor’s third outing, a welcome move considering Thor is Marvel’s most creative and vivacious comic book. One must take full advantage by viewing the film in IMAX 3D to get the full scope of the landscape.

Thor: Ragnarok is gem. It’s got great performances, tremendous action, and vibrant visuals. Just when you think comic book movie fatigue may be setting in for moviegoers, Marvel delivers another must-see comic book movie. Thor: Ragnarok should rank towards the top of Marvel’s best films, as it is the perfect Marvel movie, and it may one day be widely considered one of the best comic book movies of all time. Make no mistake about it, Thor: Ragnarok rocks.

Rating: 4/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.

Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleson, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins. It is in theaters November 3rd.

 

 

Bro-Reviews: 2017 Summer Box Office Winners and Losers

Whether you’re a winner or a loser, box office revenue is down significantly compared to last summer.

The Summer movie season is officially over, after 4 long months, it’s finally over. While this summer had it fair share of winners that won the box office, their were plenty of losers, and boy did they lose. It’s now time to asses the winners and losers of the 2017 Summer box office.

Winner: Wonder Woman

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Gal Gadot in “Wonder Woman.”

The highest grossing film of the summer by a significant margin, Wonder Woman was a much needed win for the DC extended universe and showed girl power is alive and well in Hollywood. The film saw unprecedented holds from weekend to weekend over the summer, playing similarly to 2002’s Spider-Man en route to $406.8 million domestically, making it the 7th highest grossing super-hero film of all time and the highest grossing film ever directed by a woman.

Loser: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne in “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”

Valerian is a prime example of what happens when you let directors go into a CGI candy shop and allow them to lose their minds on screen. While visually striking, Valerian lacked star power and chose style over substance in this over-long, over-budgeted Star Wars wannabe. The film’s box office receipts didn’t help matters either, as it grossed a puny $39.8 million at the North American box office compared to its $172.2 million budget. A bomb indeed.

Winner: Marvel Studios

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“Marvel Studios.”

At this point, Marvel Studios has perfected the blockbuster formula. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 grossed $389.4 million in May, showing that Star Lord and the gang won’t be going away anytime soon. Marvel Studios was also able to reap the rewards of re-booting the Spider-Man franchise with Spider-Man: Homecoming in July, grossing an impressive $321.2 million during its theatrical run.

Loser: Former Franchise Tent-Poles

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“Transformers: The Last Knight”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”, and “Cars 3.”

Alien: Covenant, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Cars 3, Transformers: The Last Night. What do they all have in common? They are all franchises that at one point were box-office giants who presided as the kings of the summer movie season but have now all but exhausted ideas to the point that audiences have grown tired of them. While the international box office receipts helped prevent them from flat-out bombing and in some cases made them profitable, it’s time for studios to re-think their strategies in regards to tent-pole franchises.

Winner: War for the Planet of the Apes

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“War For the Planet of the Apes.”

A stunning achievement in motion capture and special effects, War for the Planet of the Apes is nothing short of technically brilliant. Add in the emotional component most summer box office films are missing along with enthralling action, and War For the Planet of the Apes proves you don’t have to be brainless to be a successful summer blockbuster.

Loser: Baywatch

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“Baywatch.”

On paper, Baywatch seemed to be a no-brainer. A summer comedy filled with beaches, bikinis, and the Rock would surely breed box office success, right? Unfortunately, incompetent direction, lazy joke writing, and exploitation of female bodies made Baywatch unwatchable, making it one of the biggest duds of the summer movie season.

Winner: Rotten Tomatoes

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“Rotten Tomatoes.”

If there were ever a time where the influence of the review aggregate site flexed its muscles, it was this summer. Films that boasted overwhelmingly positive reviews such as Dunkirk ($175.5 million) and Baby Driver ($104.3 million) enjoyed box office success and long theatrical runs. Maligned films such as The Mummy ($80.1) and The Dark Tower ($46.1 million) on the other hand saw their hopes and dreams of launching franchises either stall or end due to dog piling bad reviews.

Loser: The Summer Box Office

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For every financially and critically successful film released this summer, there was an even more financially and critically disastrous film released. Add in an August with very few appealing films, and the summer box office is down nearly 16% compared to last year and movie going attendance is the worst it has been in 25 years. One can only hope the looming Fall movie season can pick up the slack, but the 2017 box office appears to be experiencing diminishing returns.

Bro-Reviews: The Top 5 Movies of 2017 (Thus Far)

It may not be Oscar season, but it’s never too early to discuss the best films of the year.

To this point, many would claim 2017 has been a bit of a bummer in regards to quality filmmaking, particularly pointing to a summer movie season that has seen box office receipts dwindle considerably. With the Summer movie season ending this weekend without a new wide release, it’s time to look back at the last eight months worth of movies and rank the top 5 films of 2017 thus far.

5. Baby Driver

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“Baby Driver.”

In a summer filled with numerous sequels no one asked for, Baby Driver was one of the lone original works to break-out and have success financially and receive critical acclaim. While it is essentially a hipster’s interpretation of a Transporter movie, Baby Driver features terrific performances from its ensemble cast and a hilarious script from writer/director Edgar Wright. Throw in a killer soundtrack and enthralling action, and Baby Driver proves you don’t have to be an established franchise tent-pole to have success during the summer.

4. Ingrid Goes West

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“Ingrid Goes West.”

Every year, there’s at least one independent film that flies under the audience’s radar only to be discovered later on the home video market. Ingrid Goes West is destined to have this fate, which is a shame considering it’s one of the most topical films of the year. It’s biting commentary on our society’s current obsession with social media and its stardom and a committed performance from lead actress Aubrey Plaza makes it one of the most underrated films of the year thus far, and should definitely be on your to-stream list in the future.

3. Get Out

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“Get Out.”

If there were ever a film that was released at the perfect time, it would be writer/ director/ comedian Jordan Peele’s debut feature film. Released shortly after the election of Donald Trump (*still weird to say that*), Get Out is the greatest slave movie ever made. It’s thematic elements dealing with white America’s obsession of wanting all of the benefits of being black without the skin color is one of the most dynamic elements ever explored on film. Throw in some great imagery and horror thrills, and Get Out is proof that originality is alive and well in Hollywood.

2. Logan

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“Logan.”

We’ve been waiting for a great solo Wolverine film for years, and Hugh Jackman and company finally delivered. A post-apocalyptic western action-drama masquerading as a comic-book movie, Logan is Hugh Jackman’s finest hour as the titular character, and also features Patrick Stewart’s best performance as Professor X. With high emotional stakes that have consequences, Logan is not only the most heart-wrenching comic-book films ever, but one of the most moving films released in quite sometime. Logan may be Jackman’s swan song as Wolverine, but he goes out on what could be the new gold standard of comic-book movies.

1.War For the Planet of the Apes

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“War for the Planet of the Apes.”

War For the Planet of the Apes is a tremendous achievement in filmmaking. The motion-capture technology used makes for some of the best special effects ever captured on film, making the apes the most realistic as they’ve ever looked on screen. Andy Serkis of course leads the way with his touching performance as Caesar, and saves his best for last in the conclusion of what could be regarded as one of the best film trilogies ever. It’s emotional impact combined with outstanding action and performances makes War for the Planet of the Apes not only the best of the modern Planet of the Apes trilogy, but the best film of 2017 thus far.

 

Bro-Reviews: Spider-Man: Homecoming

A friendly neighborhood homecoming.

Spider-Man is not only one of the most beloved comic book heroes of all time, he’s also one of the most prized possessions in Hollywood, with Sony and Marvel Studios/ Disney currently sharing custody of the web slinger. How we got to this point is simple, Sony kept making awful movies (*Cough* Spider-Man 2, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 *Cough*) in an effort to retain the rights to the property, and fans and movie goers alike eventually rejected the films. Not only did these films lead to Sony cancelling plans to their planned spideyverse with The Sinister Six, but also led Marvel Studios/ Disney to finally step in and show Sony how it’s done. After a spectacular debut in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man has returned for another solo outing in the re-boot Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Spider-Man: Homecoming sees high school prodigy Peter Parker struggling to remain interested in his mundane high school life while wanting to expand his reach as the popular super hero, Spider-Man. He sees an opportunity to prove himself as a capable hero to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) by going after Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a former salvaging company owner who turns to selling weapons made by the Chitauri aliens from The Avengers, including creating his own vulture suit, to make a living.

There’s little doubt the change of setting to high school makes Spider-Man Homecoming the funniest Spider-Man film to date. This is thanks mostly to Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), who has many laugh out loud moments in the film. Zendaya also has quirky moments as Michele, and proves herself to be an up and coming starlet. Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker is probably the best in terms of the high school version of the character, as his nerdiness and awkwardness are captured brilliantly particularly when he attempts to win the attention of his love interest Liz (Laura Harrier). This could be because the entire film takes place in this setting whereas the previous films didn’t spend much time focusing on Peter’s high school experiences, but it’s still nonetheless done well.

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“Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

Even though most of the jokes surrounding her are “wow look how hot she is”, Marissa Tomei gives a solid performance as Aunt May. She may not reach the tear-jerking levels of Rosemary Harris, but Tomei does a fine job of portraying a caring, worrywart aunt we all have. Michael Keaton (*A.K.A. Batman*) delivers a menacing performance as the Vulture. Keaton is undeniably likeable as the little guy who’s just trying to stick it to the man, and It’s a delight to see him take on villainous roles at this stage of his career. If his turn as the central villain proves anything, his career renaissance has taken yet another legendary turn.

During the first act, however, I was relatively unimpressed with the film. The angle of Parker being the young hotshot who wants to have more responsibility is a trope we’ve seen played out over and over again. On top of that, lackluster action sequences weren’t helping the film either. To be honest, the film during the first act felt like an exercise Marvel Studios/ Disney was doing just to cash-in. It didn’t have the same handcrafted feel Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man had back in 2002. And Holland, while very good, comes nowhere close to Tobey Maguire’s expert performance as Peter Parker/ Spider-Man.

Once the stakes are raised during an impressive action sequence on-top of the Washington Monument, Spider-Man: Homecoming knocks off the cobwebs and swings into high gear. It’s during the second and third acts we see more of Keaton, who comes across as the best spidey villain since Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Also, the relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker is expanded during these acts, and Robert Downey Jr. is not only as snarky as ever as Stark, but is also a great motivator and father figure to Peter in the film. The action sequences get more consequential and exciting as the film goes on, as the battle on the ferry and the climatic battle serve as impressive scenes that showcase Spider-Man and Vulture’s tremendous action chemistry.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is without a shout of a doubt better than the last four Spider-Man movies. It’s funny, contains great performances, and filled with enthralling action. However, due to it’s familiar themes, it never quite reaches the levels of the near perfect 2002 Spider-Man. While it’s definitely the second best Spider-Man film released to date, by its own merits, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a step in the right direction for the previously entangled web slinger.

Rating: 3/4 Stars: Pay Full Price.