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spiderman no way home



Spider-Man: No Way Home opens immediately after the shocking mid-credits scene of the previous film with Peter being outed to the world as Spidey and accused of killing Mysterio. When Peter approaches Dr, Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to create a spell to make everyone forget he is Spider-Man, some last-minute indecision causes the spell to go awry. Instead, it starts bringing villains from other universes into Peter’s world to wreak havoc. Worse still, many of those bad guys died battling Spider-Man and returning them to their universes would sentence them to death. This puts a morally torn Peter in conflict with both friend and foe.

Sequel is again directed by Jon Watts from a script by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. On the negative side, the film teeters on the edge of becoming a mess with so much going on and so many characters. Thankfully, it doesn’t, though the middle section drags, as Peter tries to find a way to cure the villains so they may have a second chance when they return home. It’s a bit convoluted. Finally, the whole murdering Mysterio sub-plot is brushed aside with a simple line from a surprise cameo and that is the end of it. What could have been the most interesting aspect of No Way Home—a fugitive Peter Parker trying to clear his name while battling multiple villains—is quickly discarded ten minutes into the movie. It’s simply lazy writing. On to the good stuff…

There is far more positive than negative, which makes up for a lot of the film’s flaws. The banter between Peter and his friends with Dr. Strange is a lot of fun, as are the conversations between the villains from both of the previous Spider-Man series. It’s entertaining to watch a Raimi era villain trading barbs with a Webb era villain and the dialogue is well written here. The battle scenes are also very good, such as Peter’s first introduction to Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) who is expecting another face under the mask. The last act is a real blast, though discussing most of the reasons why would spoil some great moments. Let’s just say the battle royal at the Statue of Liberty is worth the price of admission alone. The film has a couple of scenes that have some very strong emotional resonance, too, and there is some nice closure given to a few characters’ storylines from previous films. The FX are fantastic, and the cast all perform their parts well.

Tom Holland continues to be a great Peter Parker and he handles a complex story with varying emotional requirements skillfully. He’s charming and sympathetic as a superhero still trying to find himself while in over his head with bad guys and multiverses. Zendaya is still the smart, sarcastically funny and sweet girl next door beauty that is MJ, and she gets to be involved in a little more of the action. Cumberbatch is still solid as Dr. Strange, as is Benedict Wong as the briefly seen but lovable Wong. As for the villains, Willem Dafoe returns as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin and it’s as if he never left the role. Same can be said of Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus, who has some of the better lines. Jamie Foxx gets a second go as Max Dillon/Electro. There is a brief reappearance by his blue form from TASM2 till the energy in this world alters him to a more traditional character look. He’s a badass in this new incarnation. Sandman and The Lizard are mostly CGI with ever so brief appearances by actors Thomas Hayden Church and Rhys Ifans. The supporting cast, such as Jacob Batalon as Ned, Tony Revolori as Flash, Jon Favreau as Happy, J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, all recreate their endearing and entertaining supporting characters, and all have their moments.

No Way Home isn’t perfect, but still delivers a lot of what we expected from this venture into the multi-verse. It dispenses with some of the last film’s set-up too quickly, has some convoluted plot points and drags in the middle after an action-packed start. The film makes up for a lot of it with a great last act, some strong character interaction, some spectacular battles and some wonderful returns and cameos, not to mention a young actor really growing into the role now after multiple appearances. Stay through all the credits.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) webs!
spider-man into the spider-verse rating





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amazing spider-man



With a sequel looming hours away, I thought I’d take a look back at  the initial installment of this reboot series…

I liked Raimi’s Spider-man movies, especially the first two. So, I was a bit apprehensive about The Amazing Spider-Man, but went in to this reboot with an open mind. While there are problems here and the film has flaws, it also has great potential and Andrew Garfield does a terrific job delivering a fresh take on Peter Parker/Spidey. Since my biggest problem was with the retelling of the origin, that bodes well for the next movie, if done right. The problem I had with the origin is not that it is done a bit differently, but to be honest, I don’t think it really clicked. It seemed clunky and awkward and it just didn’t grab me. They were trying to bring together elements concerning Parker’s father and Peter himself into the main story and it seemed a bit forced, it didn’t drag me in. Another part of the origin that didn’t work for me was his relationship with his Uncle Ben. As Uncle Ben is also an important part of Peter’s transformation, their relationship needed to be stronger and I never got a real sense of how important they were to each other. One of the reasons is, I felt that the usually terrific Martin Sheen was miscast here. He just doesn’t give Ben the charm and quiet strength that Cliff Robertson brought in the Raimi trilogy that made his importance to Peter believable. Their relationship isn’t given much screen time and It never strongly establishes their bond. Sally Field’s Aunt May fairs better although, once the plot is in full swing, she doesn’t get to do more then look concerned as Peter comes home at odd hours with some battle scars from his superhero activities.

The film really doesn’t come together and really start to work till Parker begins to establish himself as Spider-Man and his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) starts to form. Here director Marc Webb (A guy named Webb directs a Spider-Man movie, how’s that for a happy accident.) really brings it together and delivers. Garfield and Stone are great together and have a great chemistry. Stone is far more interesting then Dunst as Mary Jane and makes a far better match for Peter and a far spunkier heroine, who doesn’t stand on the sidelines waiting to be captured by the villain of the week. Gwen gives Peter a much needed emotional positivity in his troubled life and it’s easy to believe that she gives him the strength to be a true hero and much more then just the wisecracking vigilante he starts out as. Not that that stage isn’t fun, too. Rhys Ifans is fine as the noble Dr. Curt Connors whose quest to better the lives of the handicapped, including himself, leads to his emergence as the Lizard. Connors could have been a bit more threatening to a degree, but it worked for me that his core intensions were still good, despite being twisted by the Lizard’s rage and the maddening effects of the serum. He wants to turn us all into lizards with the best of intentions…add sarcasm. His CGI alter ego was impressive and came across as a dangerous foe for our freshman superhero. The numerous confrontations between the two were well done and escalated nicely till the big finale which really soars and Webb surprises us with how well he presented the action, as his last film was a small indie romance. Let us not forget a really good turn by Denis Leary as Gwen’s dad, Captain Stacy. He has minimal screen time, but gives us a well rounded characterization that adds importance and weight to the scenes he’s in. This is what Sheen failed to do for me, make an impression and add depth to the story in the few scenes he was in. And I have always liked Sheen.

So, in conclusion, after a weak and somewhat clunky first act, the movie comes together and gives us what we came for. Andrew Garfield shines as the troubled yet brilliant Peter Parker and successfully takes an awkward teen and transforms him into a noble hero and gives us a fresh new take on a familiar character, that we can’t wait to see more of. There was spectacular action and drama and at the core a strong relation ship between Peter and Gwen that we also want to see more of. So, while Amazing Spider-Man is a flawed film, it’s potential for the future of this new direction has us anticipating what comes next, now that the characters and their possible directions are established. Bring it on!…and stay during the credits folks!

3 webs.

amazing spider-man rating