Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Directed by Jon Watts

Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Laura Harrier, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Martin Starr

Music by Michael Giacchino

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

My Opinion:

I saw this a few weeks ago but never reviewed it and now it’s annoying me because I at least try to review the current releases I actually go out to see, so…. I’ll keep this short! I don’t have a lot to say.

I liked this but, as I often say about these sort of movies, I’m getting very superheroed-out. There are some that I truly do enjoy (like Wonder Woman & especially the Guardians Of The Galaxy films) but I’d probably never bother to re-watch half the superhero movies I’ve seen. I think Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of the ones I’m unlikely to watch again. Sorry… It’s not bad! It just feels like, you know, more of the same old thing despite trying to be a little bit different with certain things (like with saucy Aunt May).

The storyline is a pretty standard Marvel storyline so I couldn’t get too excited about that but I did like the John Hughes-esque teen movie thing going on, which worked well instead of feeling forced. Tom Holland & his friends felt like actual teenagers, as they’re meant to be. Which leads me to the very best thing about this movie: Tom Holland is great. He’s easily my favorite Spider-Man between him, Andrew Garfield & Tobey Maguire. I think they finally got the character right (not that I can have a fully informed opinion since it’s not like I read the comics or anything). But, seriously – he’s the most believable as a teenager (he’s 21!) and easily the most likeable.

I also really enjoyed Michael Keaton & Marisa Tomei in this. I like the career revival Michael Keaton has had these past few years (he’s still my favorite Batman, okay??) and I’ve liked Tomei ever since Untamed Heart (that movie rules & I love it). I like saucy Aunt May! I looked up Tomei’s age as well as Holland’s. She’s 52! That’s awesome. I like that Hollywood is actually seeming to be a little less scared lately of using actors & actresses who dare to be over 40. Anyway – Holland, Keaton & Tomei are perfect in these roles and are what make this movie so enjoyable since the story itself is a bit “whatever”.


I can see why people do like this movie and I’m sorry that I think I sound more negative than I actually feel. If I was a teen/early twentysomething, I think I’d probably love it & would see it as “my” Spider-Man (like those who grew up with the Tobey Maguire ones are so fond of those). I think this latest incarnation of Spider-Man is easily the most promising of the last three & the younger generation are lucky to have Holland as “their” Spider-Man. I assume we’ll be getting to see more of Zendaya in a sequel (I was surprised her role was so small in this), which would be good as I want to see more of Peter Parker’s awkward teenage high school life & all of his relationships (even more than his Spider-Man life). But, as for his Spider-Man life, I think he’s the perfect fit to work alongside the other Marvel superheroes. That’s one of the best things about the Marvel films – I think all the actors are pretty much perfect in their superhero roles and also have great chemistry when they’re all brought together. I’m happy to know that this is the Spider-Man we get to see working with them. I think the previous two would have felt out of place with them so Holland clearly has a certain star power to work so well alongside such established actors & actresses.

My Rating: 7/10

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The Legend Of Billie Jean, Less Than Zero & Private School Movie Reviews

Welcome to my 80’s Quickie Movie Review Special! I’m catching up on reviewing the things I’ve watched the past couple of years and, since these three were from the same decade (the BEST decade), I’ve decided to stick them together. One is a film I saw at the time & really liked but hadn’t re-watched in years, one is a throwaway film that was exactly what I expected for its sort of genre, and one is a film I’d badly wanted to see for years & found to be a big disappointment after finally seeing it for the first time now. Here we go!

The Legend Of Billie Jean (1985)

Directed by Matthew Robbins

Starring: Helen Slater, Keith Gordon, Christian Slater, Peter Coyote, Yeardley Smith

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A Texas teenager cuts her hair short and becomes an outlaw martyr with her brother and friends.

My Opinion:

I did watch this on TV several times in the 80s & I really liked it but it never became an all-time favorite like other movies from the era (even though Christian Slater, one of my big teen crushes, was in it). It was a lot of fun watching it again with the hubby several months ago, though, and it’s gone up in my estimation due partly to nostalgia and partly to being older & able to appreciate things such as the female empowerment going on (which will have gone straight over my head when I first saw this at the age of 13 or so). It reminds me a bit of the same sort of theme running through the little known 1982 Diane Lane film Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains and the two would make a great double feature. Any female bloggers want to come over to my place for a movie night? We’ll watch these two. Bring lots of popcorn! No pillow fights, though – we’re not going to feed any male fantasies. They can just go watch Private School (review below). 😉

I love Helen Slater (she’s a definite girl crush) and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Billie Jean. I like the City Slickers connection with both Slater & Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) also being in that together (love that movie!). I also like that this movie has a period scene on my list of My Top Ten Period Scenes In Movies & that I get to link to that post again. Ha! There are great songs in this like Pat Benatar’s awesome Invincible (the movie’s theme song) & Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell. Oh, that plot synopsis above is pretty crap so here’s a bit more if you’re curious: Basically, Slater & Slater (no relation IRL!) are a poor brother & sister in small town Texas. C. Slater’s motorbike is trashed by local hoodlums & H. Slater demands that the (rich by small-town standards) father of the main hoodlum boy pay for the repairs. After the father instead attempts to rape H. Slater, C. Slater accidentally shoots the asshole in the shoulder. The siblings & their friends then go on the run & H. Slater’s Billie Jean ends up a media sensation & heroine outlaw to all those who believe in how she stands up for what’s right. Through it all, her only demand is that her brother’s motorbike repairs be paid for by the prick responsible. It’s actually a great, simple story & I can see why it has achieved a sort of cult status.

I do really like The Legend Of Billie Jean even though it’s not one that I watched 1,582 times as a teenager. It’s a must see if you love movies from this era but somehow missed out on it. I’m not sure how a younger generation might feel about it but it has aged slightly better than some other movies from its time so it may be worth checking out if you like the sound of it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Less Than Zero (1987)

Directed by Marek Kanievska

Based on Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Starring: Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr.

Music by Thomas Newman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Andrew McCarthy as Clay, a college freshman returning home for Christmas to spend time with his ex-girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz) and his friend Julian (Robert Downey, Jr.), who is also a drug addict. The film presents a look at the culture of wealthy, decadent youth in Los Angeles.

My Opinion:

I didn’t see this movie at the time as I suppose I was a little too young for it but then I just never managed to catch it on TV or anything. Anyway, it’s a movie from 1987 starring big 80’s actors so I’ve of course been wanting to see it for almost 30 years now (yikes! I’m old). I also loved the big song from this movie (a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade Of Winter by The Bangles) and I saw that video full of clips from the film so many times that it almost felt like I had seen the film. Was the movie worth the long wait? No, it wasn’t. Damn – what a disappointment. I was surprised to find it quite boring, especially as the novel is from such a controversial author. I think it was one that needed to be seen at the time as it’s not at all shocking nowadays.

The film is about rich California kids & Robert Downey Jr is a drug addict whose friends try to help him when his family give up on him. Downey Jr was fine as was McCarthy, I suppose (I never liked McCarthy – he’s so boring & bland. He’s like an American Hugh Grant). I’m a fan of Gertz mainly because of my love for The Lost Boys but she feels the most miscast of the three. None of them feel quite right in their roles, though, and the story isn’t very hard hitting for one about drug addiction. The story just kind of meanders & the sex scenes with McCarthy & Gertz felt awkward – talk about less than zero chemistry.

I’ve never read a Bret Easton Ellis book so can’t compare this movie to the novel but I don’t like the film American Psycho & what I’ve read of the book sickens me while I absolutely hated The Rules Of Attraction film & found it extremely offensive. I’m not normally easily offended (I’ll get into this a bit more with Private School) but, considering how much the author’s other adaptations have pissed me off, you’d think Less Than Zero would at least have some balls. This is probably the most tame “drug addiction” movie I’ve seen. Very disappointing. I watched this several months ago & barely even remember it now. Good soundtrack, though! I do remember appreciating that.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Private School (1983)

Directed by Noel Black

Starring: Phoebe Cates, Betsy Russell, Matthew Modine, Michael Zorek, Ray Walston, Sylvia Kristel, Kathleen Wilhoite

Music by Rick Springfield

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Private School is a 1983 teen oriented sex comedy film. It follows a teenage couple attempting to have sex for the first time.

My Opinion:

Being the age that I am, I saw plenty of teen sex comedies while growing up. It’s difficult to watch them nowadays without cringing. I suppose it was a very different experience to be a girl watching them in the 80s as opposed to a boy. It’ll seem strange to females nowadays but, in my day, we didn’t give teen sex comedies much thought. It’s amazing that we didn’t find them offensive & I’m happy that they’re, for the most part, a thing of the past. Private School certainly isn’t a “good” movie but, if you really love 80’s sex comedies, it’s worth a watch. It’s better than crap like Porky’s and the girls (whose boobs we see plenty, yes) are fairly decent characters instead of just feeling like victims for the horny male characters (like in movies such as Revenge Of The Nerds with its rape scene that would never be allowed in a movie nowadays. Yikes). I didn’t find Private School offensive & there’s certainly enough nudity in it for horny males everywhere so I think it gets the right sort of balance for both sexes to be able to watch it. But, of course, we get no male nudity. No surprise there!

***WARNING: SOME BOOB PICS BELOW****

Yes, we get a guy spying on the girls in the showers. But, nowadays, he’d take pictures & stick them online. 80’s sex comedies usually don’t feel sinister in the same sort of way that the few modern day films do. We also get the guys dressing up as girls & sneaking into the girls’ dorm. They’re so obviously boys, though, that the girls just have fun messing with them. Especially the below girl, who surprises everyone with a topless ride on a horse. I’m sure it was a very popular scene with young male viewers.

By the way – in looking for pics for this post, I discovered that the topless horse rider (Betsy Russell) is Jigsaw’s ex-wife in the Saw films. Speaking of movies that I find offensive, I find stuff like the Saw films far more offensive than 80’s sex comedies. Yet movies with excessive violence are more readily accepted by society while the briefest flash of a nipple starts riots (way to go, Janet Jackson!). It’s a fucked-up world. Private School is a pretty forgettable film (unless you’re a 13-year-old boy) and it sure as shit isn’t very good but at least the female characters are treated like human beings & have personalities. They’re actually stronger characters than the boys, who are quite dull.

Oh! And Kathleen Wilhoite (in the above photo with the lovely Phoebe Cates) is in this. She’s such a “hey, it’s that girl”. She’s also in Road House. God I love Road House! Road House is “good bad”. Private School is just kind of “meh bad”. I love that I got a Road House mention in here.

My Rating: 5/10

Love these songs!!! Soundtracks from the Eighties are the best. And you get clips from the movies as well. 🙂

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Review

**SPOILER-FREE (but not much of a review – I mostly just talk about all these damn superhero movies that keep coming out & where I’d rank them…)**

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on Captain America by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl, The Kitchen Sink

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Captain America: Civil War, an act regulating superhuman activity fractures the Avengers into opposing factions, one led by Steve Rogers and another by Tony Stark.

My Opinion:

Superheroes Shmuperheroes. I’m sick of saying I’m sick of superhero movies. In the three & a half years I’ve had this blog, I feel like I’ve spent half my time writing superhero movie reviews as so many have come out in that time! I’m tired. I can’t do it anymore!

I have to be honest: I can’t be bothered to write much of a “review” for this. Mainly, I’m going to just talk about all the various superhero movies & where I’d rank them all now. I always struggle with writing about these movies as I’m just a casual fan & have zero knowledge about any of the comic books. I put time into running a movie blog so I do clearly geek out about movies more than the average person but I just don’t have the spare time & energy to devote to watching the thousands of hours worth of superhero sequels, prequels, spin-offs, TV shows, etc etc. I’m old & I’m tired & I have a hubby & a kid. I watch the big cinematic superhero releases when they come out & that’s it. I’ve not even managed to re-watch any, which means I’m always a little lost with each movie as I have to remember minor characters & plots from movies I watched just once at the time of release. It drives my hubby nuts when I have to constantly ask who so & so is and if I should remember them from previous movies. These superhero movies are becoming like Game Of Thrones – too many damn characters & stories to keep track of!

Okay – after getting that little rant out of the way, I have to say that I have really enjoyed these current Marvel films with the various Avengers. A few haven’t been all that great but, overall, they’re very solid films. And, with this one & the fantastic Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Captain America films are now easily the best of the bunch (including the full-ensemble The Avengers & Avengers: Age Of Ultron). I loved the first Iron Man and would have said that one was my favorite at the time but after Iron Man 2 & Iron Man 3 were so weak, I’d have to say that Captain America has now jumped ahead overall as the sequels have been so great.

You were afraid I was going to trash this movie, weren’t you? 😉 I won’t. It’s very good! But I just can’t review it. I don’t know what to say. I’ve done so many of these superhero reviews. I’m done. For now. I’ll attempt to review X-Men: Apocalypse but I honestly have no hope for that one after Days Of Future Past was such a mess. Let’s just discuss all the various superhero films that are out there.

How I’d Now Rank All The Superhero Movies (remember that I always rank things according to how much I like a movie, not according to what I necessarily think is the best film):

Every time another one of these movies comes out, I say I’ll update this list HERE of My Top Ten Superhero Movies. I desperately need to as it’s extremely different now. For one, I was way too easy on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The Dark Knight would probably drop way down to the lower half of the ten now (I was too swayed by loving Ledger in it) while the other two would be knocked out completely.

I’d also move up some older classics I’m no longer ashamed of loving (it was the early days of my blog & I suppose I knew you were all younger than I am. You kids are Nolan-obsessed). 😉 So the 1978 Superman would go way up as would Tim Burton’s Batman (and it would move to a position higher than The Dark Knight).

Then there are the first two X-Men movies. Those came out when I was much younger & had spare time to watch movies & geek out over things and I really bought into those characters & that world. Back then, the superhero movie thing wasn’t big like now & it seemed like those films came from out of nowhere. I loved them & I’m still very fond of them but every movie since has been a huge disappointment, including the prequels which I haven’t been able to buy into at all. The various Avengers films have been so much better than the current X-Men films so I’d probably have to move the first two X-Mens down the list as they’ve now been ruined for me somewhat.

So where would I place Captain America: Civil War in a Top Ten? I think it’s too soon to say where but it’s definitely in the ten. I’ll fully update & re-post my list after X-Men: Apocalypse (even though I think that has zero chance of being on the list). I think a lot of where it will ultimately sit also depends on how good the next Avengers film is (whenever the hell that’s meant to be?!). At the moment, I’m trying to decide if it’s better than The Winter Soldier. I think it may be once we get more of the story but, at the moment, I think I’d rank The Winter Soldier higher. So! For now, and subject to change as I change my mind A LOT, I’ll rank things accordingly:

10. TIE: Deadpool & X-Men
9. The Dark Knight
8. The Avengers
7. Batman (1989)
6. X2
5. Captain America: Civil War
4. Iron Man
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Superman (1978)
1. Guardians Of The Galaxy

Defining “superhero movies” is quite difficult, though. I’d make it a list of just “comic book movies” but that would further complicate things as there are plenty of non-superhero comic books. For now, I’m leaving out animated films like The Incredibles & Big Hero 6 but I may add them. Also… What about things like Dredd & The Crow? Do they qualify? What do you all think? Because if I start adding in things like those, the list would be very different (for the record, The Crow would easily be my number one as that’s an overall favorite film of mine). Let me know, superhero fans! I really do want to do a proper list, probably where I rank all of the superhero films I’ve seen.

Either way, these various current Marvel films will take plenty of places in my Top Ten as they’re all very strong & seem to be getting better & better. The better they get, the more the other superhero movies pale in comparison & will end up getting knocked out of the list. Way to go Marvel! Unlike DC Comics, eh? As much as I complain about all these damn superhero movies, I always go to them. Until Batman Vs. Superman, that is. After the terrible Man Of Steel, I really couldn’t be bothered to watch it. And from the sound of things, I’m not missing much!

Summary (where I’ll actually say a tiny bit about Captain America: Civil War!):

I have to say that I liked the new characters that have been added to this one. Black Panther is cool (I love those claws) and I really liked Spider-Man! Could we finally have a Spider-Man that fans don’t bitch about?? I have no idea but I really liked him plus my hubby seemed to think they did a very good job with him this time & hubby is a little bit of a comic book fan unlike me. I can’t say I’ve exactly loved any of the Spider-Man movies yet so let’s hope Marvel get things right with their own Spider-Man film. I’m looking forward to it now!

It was great seeing so many Marvel characters together, some of whom haven’t been together in a film yet. However, my one small complaint about the ensemble Avengers films is that there are too many characters, which means that it’s hard for anyone to get much character development. This one is clearly the Captain America & Iron Man show but they didn’t do too bad spending a decent amount of time with some of the other characters. I’d like to see Scarlet Witch get a little further development – they seem to possibly be headed in that direction for the next film.

Okay – I’ve just looked into it as I had zero clue what films are being made next! Apparently the next full Avengers one is Infinity War in May 2018 & 2019 (split into two damn parts one year apart!)?! Long wait until those… That’s made me lose the will to live again with these damn movies!! I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this Civil War story is clearly going to be carried on into the next films… I guess I’ve just given away that we don’t get full closure on this story? No surprise there, though – there are 282 more films coming in which to further develop it! Anyway, I still can’t help but slightly prefer some of the stand alone films as we get so much more time to get to know just one main character but it’s still fun seeing them all interacting with each other.

The action in this was also a little too much at first (but not at ridiculous Man Of Steel levels). I also thought it got off to a slow start but I was much more into it by the halfway point. It’s a big story so is taking its time to develop over the course of several films. I guess. Yeah. Ugh. I just can’t handle thinking about them all. Oh, but Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is May 2017!!! THAT I’m excited about (it’s my number one by quite a lot).

Well, for all my bitching, Marvel really are getting better & better at this superhero movie thing & are putting other superhero movies to shame. I’ll continue to watch them all even though I’m superheroed-out but I’ll never geek out over them like my young & carefree twentysomething self may have. But they’re thoroughly entertaining popcorn movies. And although Civil War is obviously getting into darker & moodier territory, it still maintains some of the humor and the less-serious attitude that have made me far prefer the Avengers films to the dark & brooding shit like Batman Vs. Superman appears to be. Screw that emo bullshit! It looks like things will get even more serious for Infinity War, I imagine, but they did a good job getting the balance right in this one and not making a film that’s too depressing to be at all enjoyable. Keep up the good work, Marvel! On all ten films you have planned between now & July 2019. Good (star) Lord…

My Rating: 8/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: HA! Hahaha! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Duhhhhhhh….. Yes. Two. This is Marvel. They’re worth staying for, though. In my opinion. The more “important” one is halfway through the credits while the fun “teaser” one is at the very end (that’s the one I liked).

Stan Lee Cameo: It’s cute! I always love them. Maybe I should start rating those too…

The Muscular Arms On Chris Evans: Whoa, boy! I’m a Thor girl & have never really gone for Captain America but I very much appreciated those biceps when he was holding onto the helicopter. Yeah, baby! I may look away from Thor occasionally in the next film you’re both in together…

**Hey, I know I didn’t really talk about this movie but I’ll happily discuss it with anyone in the comments. I really do want to know all your opinions! Especially those of you who are big fans of these films. 🙂

Natural Born Killers (1994) Blind Spot Review

Natural Born Killers (1994)

Directed by Oliver Stone

Story by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A satirical black comedy crime film that tells the story of two victims of traumatic childhoods who became lovers and mass murderers, and are irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.

My Opinion:

Here we are with movie number three of my 2016 Blind Spot picks. I can’t believe I’ve actually managed to review one each month so far! (the previous two were An Education & Summer Wars). Other than The Doors & Platoon, I can’t say I’ve really liked any Oliver Stone films all that much so I went into this one with fairly low expectations. Plus, I’ve never exactly loved either Woody Harrelson or Juliette Lewis. Well, I have to say that I liked this one quite a bit and both those actors have gone up a little in my estimation (22 years later!).

I suppose it helps that Quentin Tarantino wrote the story? He wasn’t involved with the actual screenplay (I read that they changed his story quite a lot) but this movie has the overall vibe of the films he directed – not just in the extreme violence, of course, but also in the rich characters & dialogue.

I think it’s difficult to make a satire on our obsession with violence that then uses excessive violence to get its point across. Does this movie glorify violence just as much as it claims the media does, thanks to shows such as the film’s American Maniacs as hosted by Robert Downey Jr’s character? I read that, at first, this movie was going to be a straight-up action film before Stone decided to turn it into a satirical black comedy. I think changing the direction of the movie was a very wise decision. Actually, this is what I read at Wikipedia – I can see why he changed his mind:

“As the project developed however, incidents such as the O.J. Simpson case, the Menendez brothers case, the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident, the Rodney King incident, and the Federal assault of the Branch Davidian sect all took place. Stone came to feel that the media was heavily involved in the outcome of all of these cases, and that the media had become an all-pervasive entity which marketed violence and suffering for the good of ratings. As such, he changed the tone of the movie from one of simple action to a satirical critique of the media in general.”

I think the movie very much gets its point across and is even more relevant today as violence seems to be at an all-time high but, also, scenes of graphic violence are even more immediately accessible now than in 1994 thanks to the explosion of the Internet. It’s not some true-crime TV show (hosted by Downey Jr with, I gotta say, a really annoying fake Australian accent) that we have to worry about these days. Hell, American Maniacs looks like a Saturday morning kids’ cartoon compared to today’s video games & torture porn films never mind the disturbing clips of real-life violence which are far too readily available online thanks to everyone having their own damn video cameras in their phones. (Off Topic Rant: Man, I love my phone but wish I could time travel back to 1985 when peoples’ private lives weren’t being constantly recorded & uploaded for all to see. Kardashian-free 1980’s life sounds like a damn utopia now! Rant Over). So, Natural Born Killers is more relevant today but also wouldn’t actually work if made now as it’s no longer satire. Watching it now was quite scary, in a way, as I imagine it felt far-fetched in 1994? Now it just feels like one of those Making A Murderer type of true story documentaries that are so popular on Netflix.

I’m actually a huge wuss when it comes to violence in movies (I watch Tarantino’s with my hands over my face half the time) but am more accepting when the movie has a message like I feel this one does. There’s lots of blood in this but I was able to watch it all as it’s not as “gory” as Tarantino-directed films (which do glorify violence but are so cleverly written that I can’t help but love them anyway as a fan of film). Will someone go on a murder spree after watching this? Maybe. But someone who does that would’ve done that anyway whether or not they’d watched a violent movie or played a violent video game.

Oh crap – I really didn’t want to get into a deep discussion about the film’s message and about whether the media has a responsibility to humanity to not glorify violence and blah blah blah. That’s one of those arguments that can go around in circles for an eternity. All I’ll say is: Society is fucked. The media – including movies, TV, video games, websites – is just a reflection of society. It gives us what we seem to want based on our behavior. I think Natural Born Killers displays that logic perfectly but it’s a shame that its message, although extremely blatant, seemed to not be fully grasped by everyone at the time.

I think what worked for me with this movie besides the film’s message was its style. I loved the psychedelic scenes and Stone’s use of different colors. I thought the I Love Lucy sitcom-style scenes involving Rodney Dangerfield as the abusive father of Juliette Lewis were very inventive and the scene in the rattlesnake-filled desert was trippy. Hell, I even found the “marriage on the bridge” scene oddly romantic in a messed-up way. That’s the thing – I think most people watching this movie find themselves liking Lewis’ & Harrelson’s Mickey & Mallory despite the fact that they’re psychotic killers with no remorse. But that’s the whole point, of course. The media in the movie makes them stars and the movie itself has made their fictional characters stars. By the end, you want Mickey & Mallory to live happily ever after and THAT is truly fucked-up. That’s how good the movie is, though – it turns us into the Mickey & Mallory-worshipping audience of American Maniacs.

My Rating: 8/10

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) Review

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***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

Directed by Joss Whedon

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring:
Robert Downey Jr.
Chris Hemsworth
Mark Ruffalo
Chris Evans
Scarlett Johansson
Jeremy Renner
Don Cheadle
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Elizabeth Olsen
Paul Bettany
Cobie Smulders
Anthony Mackie
Hayley Atwell
Idris Elba
Stellan Skarsgård
James Spader
Samuel L Jackson

Running time: 141 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

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My Opinion:

I enjoy superhero movies. I go to them all (usually as soon as I possibly can after they come out). They’re fun! But then I kind of forget about them… I realized while watching Age Of Ultron that I rarely watch most superhero movies ever again after that first viewing in the cinema/theater. There’ve been a few exceptions – I watched The Dark Knight twice, the first couple X-Men movies at least twice, and of course Superman & Burton’s Batman several times. I really should have re-watched the first Avengers film before going to this one because I barely remember it. I think I’m a little superheroed out. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to movies (I mean, I’m a movie blogger after all) but I know I must not be too into these countless Marvel films when I keep having to ask my hubby questions during them. Things like “who’s THAT?” to which he rolls his eyes & replies “only someone who’s been in most the Marvel films so far!”. Also, as I always have to say in these superhero movie reviews, I ONLY have knowledge of the films. God – I can’t even keep all those straight in my mind! I can’t imagine actually reading the billions of comic books as well.

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So now that we know where I stand on these types of movies (I like them & have a lot of fun with them but wouldn’t say I love most of them), we can move on to what I liked & disliked about Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I did a super-short mini-review of the first Avengers movie HERE when I did a roundup of all the films I’d seen in 2012 (I see I ranked it as the 9th best film that year & gave it a 7.5/10). I’ll say I think Age Of Ultron is the better film overall. It drags a little in the middle but the second half is much better than the first half & I think it’s a better finale than in the first film. It’s close, though – I think people may be pretty evenly divided on which they prefer. Also, I thought they actually did a pretty damn good job on character development in this one considering just how many characters are in this thing. It must have been hard to get the balance right between that & all the kick ass action but I think they did very well. What I really liked is that they spent more time on the characters we don’t know as well from a million other movies (Hawkeye, Black Widow & Hulk) and I enjoyed their stories quite a bit (especially Hawkeye’s). Don’t worry – you still get loads of time with the others as well but we already know a lot about them from their own films. I’d have liked a little more focus on Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver but, like I said, there are so many characters that you can’t expect anything too in-depth with each of them in only 2 hours & 21 minutes.

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I guess I didn’t really list anything I disliked about this movie. Well, I suppose I didn’t really dislike much. I wasn’t crazy about Ultron’s voice but that’s because I’m old (that asshole in Pretty In Pink?!). It did feel a little overlong plus it didn’t really pick up until (a character who is on one of the posters but I still won’t name in case it’s a spoiler to some of you) showed up (he was great). There’s some light humor between the characters as always, which is fun (especially a bit involving Thor’s mighty Mjölnir). Speaking of Thor & his big Hammer, I was once again very distracted every time his bare arms were on screen. Chris Hemsworth is so insanely beautiful. Too pretty, really. Maybe it’s why my mind goes all loopy during these movies & I never fully know what the hell is going on. I’m just going to wrap this thing up – I’m picturing those arms again now & I can’t think straight.

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Summary:

If you love all the Marvel films & you loved the first Avengers film, you’ll love this one too. It’s, well, the same thing again. Which is fine… It’s a formula that clearly works. But I have to say I kind of prefer some of the individual films as, while it’s loads of fun seeing all the superheroes together, I like seeing & knowing more about each of their individual stories. I probably almost like the first Iron Man movie & maybe even Captain America: The Winter Soldier more. At least, I think they’re probably better films than either of the Avengers movies but they’re not quite as flashy or cool. We’re talking about superheroes, though, not the Oscars – flashy & cool is sometimes okay too. Avengers: Age Of Ultron has proven one thing to me, though – I really did LOVE Guardians Of The Galaxy. That felt unique instead of the same old superhero movie once again. I think it’s time I do a massive update of my Top Ten Superhero Movies because there will be a lot of changes. Age Of Ultron will make the ten but I’m not sure where. However, Guardians Of The Galaxy will be at number one. Sorry, Age Of Ultron! You were loads of fun. Thanks for entertaining me but I won’t remember much of you in a year. You’re still one of the better films in this genre, though.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Is There A Scene After The Credits? Like, duh. It’s a Marvel film. However, there’s ONLY a mid-credits scene & nothing at the very end. However, do not take my word on this, Americans! We may have gotten this movie a week before you but we’ve been screwed out of end credits scenes in the past (the end credits scene from the first Avengers film wasn’t shown in the UK). There have been rumors & supposedly leaked footage of an end credits scene that wasn’t the one I saw here in the UK.

Does Thor take his shirt off once again? Yes. Yes he does. However, it’s not at all gratuitous like it was in his own films. He is, however, soaking wet while shirtless. But there’s no lingering shots. It’s quick. Too quick. I’ll have to buy the Blu-Ray…

What were we talking about again??

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The Avengers (2012) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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As we all anxiously await this Thursday’s (UK) release of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review of the first Avengers film comes from Tim of Beermovie.net. Thanks for the review, Tim! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Avengers (aka Avengers Assemble), IMDB rank 129 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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The Avengers is a huge film in every way – budget, hype, box office, you name it. Plenty of people were doubtful that Marvel could truly pull this off given how high they had raised expectations, even though they had already shown time and time again how good they were at exceeding them. Given the sequel is very close on the horizon, now is a good time to revisit one of the biggest films of all time.

From the very beginning, a portal being opened to another dimension and Loki popping out, it is clear that The Avengers is pretty grand big budget storytelling. The film invokes a little bit of classic Hollywood storytelling as it rounds up the squad, and introduces us to the new characters really succinctly. The introduction of Black Widow, totally schooling a bunch of inept mobsters, is particularly memorable. Unfortunately Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye really misses out on a proper introduction and his character really feels like a bit of an afterthought throughout the film. Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk similarly feels a little short-changed in the intro stakes, but his position in the narrative means that the audience gets to know him a bit better as the film goes along, without ever totally satisfactorily setting up the mythology of the character. The first act of the film manages to function both as a fully formed introduction for viewers new to the MCU and as a charm-filled start for everyone else.

As good as the balance is between the characters, there is no doubting that Robert Downey Jr’s wisecracking Tony Stark occasionally overshadows the film. He is meant to be the funniest, smartest and most powerful of all the Avengers and that on occasions feels like a lessening of the others in the crew. Even more so than some characters getting shortchanged, this obsession with Downey’s Stark is the main aspect of the script that brings down the quality of the film as an ensemble story. It will be interesting to see how Marvel handle this in the forthcoming sequel, a couple of years removed from Iron Man 3 and with Downey Jr’s future in stand-alone films up in the air as far as I understand it.

There are plenty of reasons why Marvel has gotten this whole shared universe thing so right where basically everyone else has faltered in a big way. But casting is perhaps foremost amongst its successes. The choice of Loki for this film, could have been really ho-um, recycling a villain that had already been seen in a stand-alone film. However Hiddleston is so good in the role that you quickly forget you’ve seen him before and come to perceive him as a threat necessitating the entire crew coming together. There is also a pleasant uniqueness in the fact that Loki takes a much more psychological approach rather than simply a ‘raaargh I’m going to crush the world with my huge muscles’ style vibe. Similarly, Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, capturing a lot of the great attitude that character has in the comics, without needing to delve into dense comic book history (now if only Marvel would get over their strange aversion to a Black Widow stand-alone film).

Plenty of (somewhat justified) criticism has been aimed at Marvel for the sameness of their third acts, so rewatching The Avengers it was nice to be reminded just how well they can pull it off. I noticed this a lot whilst re-watching the film for this review and it was a main reason why I actually enjoyed it more this time than when I saw it in cinemas. Part of what sets this third act apart from some of the others is that the script weaves in occasional pieces of wit and levity to balance out the vibe. Some charming moments break up the huge, long-running battle toward the end, not least of which is Hulk’s hilarious “puny god” interaction with Loki. It’s a hell of a sprawling, choreographed battle that seems to wheel across the whole city. And whilst it’s basically all CGI, it never feels too computerised or like one clump of pixels crashing into another clump of pixels.

It is difficult to overestimate how big an achievement The Avengers is. Not all of that is restricted to the film. Much of it relates to how expertly Marvel crafted their cinematic universe in a way that has ‘inspired’ so many inept imitators that I’m pretty sure none of us ever want to hear the phrase “cinematic universe” ever again. But this film is an exceptional payoff and it both wraps Phase 1 up beautifully and feels like it was something too big for one of the earlier standalone films to handle.

Verdict: 8/10

Weird Science (1985) Guest Review

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Today’s review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Kieron of What About The Twinkie?. Thanks for being a part of this, Kieron! This is the first time we’re getting a multiple review of something (but there will be plenty more – including several for Sixteen Candles!). If you want to see what Eric & I thought of this one, you can click HERE. But first let’s hear Kieron’s thoughts on Weird Science. 🙂

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Director: John Hughes Starring: Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith & Kelly LeBrock Synopsis: “Two nerdish boys attempt to create the perfect woman, but she turns out to be more than that.” Runtime: 94 minutes Rating: 12

“We need more input. We gotta fill this thing up with data. We gotta make her as real as possible, Wyatt. I want her to live. I want her to breathe. I want her to aerobicise.”

Weird Science is a movie I fell in love with not as a child or a teenager, but as an adult. As I must confess that I only saw the movie for the first time about 6 years on a VoD service when I needed something to cheer me up. The movie was released in 1985, which meant I was only a 1 year old at the time of its release, but unlike some of John Hughes’ other efforts such as Home Alone, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club, which I did watch growing up, Weird Science took its time in gaining my attention.

I’m not entirely sure how or why I missed out on Weird Science growing up, because looking at it now it had everything I could have wanted in a movie when I was younger. Two nerdish boys, who somewhat reflected my own time at school, goofy special effects, some brilliantly funny jokes and a smoking hot woman in the form of Kelly LeBrock all make up a delightfully silly movie about two nerds who create their perfect woman.

The premise is the best kind of nonsense, as two highschool nerds, Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), decide one Friday night, after watching Frankenstein on the TV nonetheless, that they are going to create something of their own. After hacking into a government computer network, for more power, and then connecting a barbie doll to Wyatt’s computer a lightning bolt strikes which causes all sorts of mayhem only for Lisa (Kelly LeBrock) to emerge from the carnage.

The science behind Weird Science is pure 80’s nonsense. I doubt anyone seriously believed any of this was at all possible, especially at a time when technology was really only just finding its feet. Still, it’s this kind of loopy science fiction that gave many an 80’s movie its charm, and charm is something that Weird Science has by the bucket load.

Once the initial three leads are set up, the story moves quickly, as our protagonists move from staying in watching movies on a Friday night to bar crawling their way through the city as Lisa encourages them to let loose and have some fun for a change. Lisa is the kind of creation that can somehow manipulate environments and seemingly create things at will, as she has to make fake ID’s for our two heroes in order for them to be able to drink, drive and drink and drive legally.

Hughes makes the clever decision to focus on the characters and not so much on the plot here. The plot is established quickly, leaving the endearing charm of the three main characters to hold things together. Anthony Michael Hall, starring in his third Hughes directed movie by this point, gets some of the best lines in the movie and really excels in a bar scene explaining to his new friends how the girl “with the big titties” broke his heart. While Mitchell-Smith plays the straight guy who has to be the foil to Gary and his own older brother Chet, played by Bill Paxton.

Both Michael Hall and Mitchell-Smith are charming in their roles despite being the school nerds. They are ably supported by a superb cast who, despite limited screentime for some, manage to leave their mark on a movie that could easily have forgotten about them (see what I did there?). Robert Downey Jr. makes an early career appearance as one of the bullies who continually picks on Wyatt and Gary and then stupidly believes he has a chance with Lisa. Vernon Wells essentially makes an appearance as the same character he played in Mad Max 2, which further adds to the bizarre elements of the movie. While the previously mentioned Paxton plays Wyatt’s hardass military brother, who likes to give Wyatt a hard time throughout the movie, but pays for it when he encounters Lisa late on and who gives him more than he bargained for. When asking him to keep quiet about the movies events, she exclaims: “I can be a real serious bitch, if I don’t get what I want!”

Kelly LeBrock threatens to steal the show several times throughout the movie, getting some great lines and delivering them with a poise that makes her character even more likeable. On the John Hughes documentary, Don’t You Forget About Me, LeBrock admits to her character being “Mary Poppins with breasts” and in all honesty she is correct. Despite being sexy, she is never there for sex or to really pleasure the boys in any way, but more to give them a guiding hand and teach them a thing or two about self confidence. She is the emotional core of the movie, loving the boys, nurturing them and sticking up for them when they either can’t or won’t.

That is Hughes’ greatest strength here, as he directs a movie that is so daft in principal, that he manages to make a character piece about two teenage boys growing up being bullied and laughed at throughout their entire school life, or being told they will amount to no good from their overbearing parents. To then find the self confidence to break out of their shells and and become more than they thought they could. The struggles of teenage life are apparent in many of his efforts, particularly his earlier movies, and they remain here too. Despite the special effects and nonsense science, Weird Science is simply a, very funny story of two teenage boys encountering things for the first time in their lives. From drink, to women, cars to fights a simple tale exists of two boys growing up.

In summary: A fine effort from Hughes, with a young cast on top form, Weird Science is a superior piece of 80’s nostalgia that still stands up today.

Weird Science (1985) Review At The IPC

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The John Hughes Blogathon reviews officially kick off now with my double review of Weird Science with Eric of The IPC. You can read what we both think of the film HERE.

I posted yesterday about how much the John Hughes films mean to me and why I’m doing this blogathon. It blew my mind a little when I found out that Eric, who is about the same age as me, didn’t watch most of the teen John Hughes movies back when we were teenagers. What?! So he kindly agreed to watch & review several Hughes films for this blogathon. Thanks again, Eric, for watching movies I know aren’t your normal type of thing and for inspiring me to finally do my own blogathon. 🙂

And stay tuned for a review later today from a guest blogger reviewing another classic teen movie from Hughes.

Iron Man 3 (2013) Review

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IRON MAN 3

Directed by Shane Black

Starring:
Robert Downey, Jr.
Gwyneth Paltrow
Don Cheadle
Guy Pearce
Rebecca Hall
Stephanie Szostak
James Badge Dale
Jon Favreau
Ben Kingsley

Synopsis (courtesy of IMDB):

When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

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My Opinion on superhero movies:

I like superhero movies a lot but overall I’m not the absolute biggest fan of them. So this review comes from someone who has never touched a comic book (well, I did read Watchmen – does that count?) and who knows ONLY what has been shown of all the superheroes in their Hollywood movies.

The X-Men movies were probably the first superhero movies to make me geek-out a little. Actually… To be honest, I remember loving Tim Burton’s Batman and thinking Jack Nicholson was cool as hell as the Joker & I think I even bought some Joker earrings at the time (give me a break – I was in my early teens). Then things like (the Tobey Maguire) Spider-Mans came along (entertaining enough – not brilliant) and Fantastic Four (meh) and I was starting to get a little bored with the superhero thing. Then Batman Begins & The Dark Knight came along, re-inventing the genre & making truly stunning “films” instead of mere “comic book” movies. You had Iron Man the same year as The Dark Knight and I was loving the superhero thing again. And although Batman Begins is a better “film”, I probably enjoyed the first Iron Man movie more. I was so pleasantly surprised by the first Iron Man. I loved that it was somewhere between the superhero movies that were a little too cheesy (Fantastic Four) and the very dark & serious Nolan Batman films. I loved Tony Stark’s charming arrogance & internal struggle (Ha! Well, yeah – all superheroes have that internal struggle thing I guess). My point is, I loved the first Iron Man & he’s definitely one of my favorite comic book characters as portrayed by Hollywood in the last ten years or so. So I’m a little disappointed to have to say that Iron Man 3 is a bit weak compared to the first two.

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My Opinion on Iron Man 3:

I think a big part of the problem is that this follows on from The Avengers. So, really, how can you actually expect to top THAT? You’re going from having superheroes galore fighting bad-ass aliens with over the top, non-stop action back to one guy going it alone against a bad guy who isn’t going to seem much of a threat when compared with the threat to all of humanity that we saw in The Avengers. And could none of the Avengers give Tony Stark a hand in this one? After all he did to help out at the end of The Avengers?! Ingrates. 😉

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The Good:

Ben Kingsley. Loved him. Can’t go into it much but he’s great in this role.

Harley. Probably one of those things that will divide people but I liked this little sub-plot.

The focus on one superhero again. Yes, I know I’ve just contradicted what I said above. Having all the superheroes in The Avengers was exciting, so it’s hard to top that excitement. But I also found that to be slight overkill in The Avengers so it was kind of nice just having one superhero to focus on again. Which is why it’s a shame that this script was so weak on character development when they had the chance to fully focus on Tony Stark again (more on that below).

The Iron Man suits. And gadgets. Still cool.

It’s Iron Man and it’s still fun, even if it’s not as good of a film as the other two (especially the first one, which is by far the best).

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The Not-So-Good:

Robert Downey Jr. Wait! Keep reading! I’m not saying he’s bad. Maybe I mean Tony Stark… Aside from a few panic attacks he’s suffering from due to the stress of what happened to him at the end of The Avengers, he doesn’t seem as “internally conflicted” as in the first two. That internal conflict thing is important in these superhero movies! I think this is the fault of the script for this one – he’s just not as well-developed as in the other two. But I suppose it’s perhaps hard to keep that up for three films (four including The Avengers). We all know Tony Stark by now. And, unfortunately, Robert Downey Jr seems a little bored in this one. The performance feels a bit “phoned in”. Sorry. He’s still better than….

Guy Pearce. He didn’t really work for me in this role. Weak character overall, I think.

Maya. Not that the character was bad – the character was wasted. They could have done more with her.

Tony Stark/Pepper Potts relationship. Not feeling it so much in this one. Again, though, I think that’s the fault of a script that doesn’t give you very fully-realized characters this time around.

The plot. It’s a bit “so what”. Especially after The Avengers. Just not as “exciting” as a lot of other superhero movie plots.

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End Credits Scene: Yes, there is one. Should you stay for it? Yes, if you’re a “completist” who MUST stay for all end credits scenes. But it’s not totally necessary to see it… So I guess it depends on how badly you have to pee. 🙂

Summary:

A popcorn-worthy addition to the Iron Man set of films but the script and plot feel a bit weak overall and the characters feel under-developed. It’s okay but not as strong as the first Iron Man & certainly not as fun or exciting as The Avengers.

My Iron Man Rating: 8/10

My Iron Man 2 Rating: 6.5/10

My Iron Man 3 Rating: 6.5/10

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My 2013 Movies Seen

**I’ve been too harsh! Upped my Iron Man 2 & 3 ratings a bit. I still enjoy the Iron Man series – they’ve just been weak compared with the first one.