Deadpool (2016) – Film Review

Extremely meta, violent and hilarious from start-to-finish, ‘Deadpool’s first on-screen appearance is exactly what hardcore fans of the character would want from their favourite potty-mouthed anti-hero. Made on a lower-budget than the most superhero blockbusters, ‘Deadpool’ manages to avoid the problems that may come from this by having a ‘different’ kind of appeal.

With an original story mostly focused on ‘Deadpool’s origin story, with the wisecracking ex-mercenary volunteering for an experiment to save his life, only to soon become superpowered and immortal… but also very ugly. As the film then follows on to modern-day as he sets out to track down the man who ruined his good-looks, and execute his revenge.

Despite the narrative being very simple, the story is actually surprisingly effective. Giving the audience plenty of exciting action scenes, whilst still delivering a decent romantic sub-plot between ‘Deadpool’ and his girlfriend: ‘Venessa’, even giving the anti-hero a character-ark by the end of the run-time. Ryan Reynolds, who portrays the character of ‘Deadpool’ extremely well, also had a hand in the production process, being a producer on the film and having a big impact on the writing and story elements, and I definitely feel he is a big reason why the film works as well as it does, as it’s clear that Ryan works very well with director of the film: Tim Miller (Love, Death + Robots). The rest of the cast are also decent in their various roles.

The cinematography by Ken Seng is nothing spectacular, but it does have it’s moments. In a similar way to the editing, the cinematography can even be used for a little gag at various points within the film. The original score by Junkie XL (most known for his work on Mad Max: Fury Road and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice) really helps back up the exciting over-the-top tone of the film, combing a rock-like soundtrack with small almost dubstep like elements.

The film also delivers on plenty of the meta jokes fans would expect from this character. Having many references to Ryan Reynolds past career choices, other characters from the Marvel universe, and even past iterations of ‘Deadpool’ himself. Of course, due to the film’s smaller budget, the film can have some distractingly rough visuals. Having many scenes with tons of CGI action, along with explosions and gore effects. You can sometimes be taken out of the film through the overuse of these visual effects. However, on a more positive note, having a smaller budget than most superhero flicks is also often used for short gag by ‘Deadpool’ himself.

Of course, with a character as loud and over-the-top as ‘Deadpool’, it’s always possible that not everyone would find the character so likeable and funny. Sometimes the bombardment of humour can be overwhelming, and in large doses I could see ‘Deadpool’ being very irritating for some. This is really one of the only complaints I have with the film however, and after watching this film’s sequel: ‘Deadpool 2’. It’s fair to say I found myself missing the original, purely for it’s originality and structure.

In conclusion, ‘Deadpool’ delivers on what everyone would expect to see from a film like this. It’s not perfect of course, but the film is always very funny, gory, exciting and charming throughout. Not landing every joke, but making the audience burst into tears with every comedic line that does. A great comedy/comic book story and a solid 8/10, I really hope films like ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Logan’ keep being made in upcoming years. As with the oversaturated superhero genre we have today, it could really do with some more variety.

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Man of Steel (2013) – Film Review

One of the most iconic and beloved superheroes of all-time, ‘Superman’ comes to life on the sliver screen once again. This time from director Zach Synder, a director I’m not particularly fond of due to his weak focus on storytelling and over-reliance of action and attractive visuals. Unfortunately, ‘Man of Steel’ is still no exception to this.

This retold origin story focuses on ‘Clark Kent’ (Superman), an alien who as a child was evacuated from his dying world: ‘Krypton’ and soon arrived on Earth, where he begin living as a normal human under his newly found parents. But when survivors of his alien homeworld invade the planet, he must reveal himself to the world.

The main issue that I have with this film is that the filmmakers seem to not understand the character of ‘Superman’, as the entire film is extremely bleak, dull and boring. As well as there actually being very little heroic acts throughout run-time. Almost the complete opposite of the original ‘Superman’ film from the 1970s. This is even seen in the colour grading, as the film mostly uses a dark blue and grey colour palette. When your superhero protagonist is supposed to be a symbol of hope and heroism, this is definitely not the way to go.

However, the film’s action also doesn’t help. As the action in the film ranges from extremely entertaining at points, as the superpowered characters battle brutally for the fate of the planet. To sometimes be incredibly overwhelming, with constant explosions going off and CGI buildings being destroyed left and right. Many of these action scenes don’t even feel real due to the enormous barrage of CGI visuals we get within them.

Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Russel Crowe all give decent performances throughout the film, but sadly they never really elevate to anything above acceptable. Henry Cavill is likable enough as the protagonist but I always found Michael Shannon‘s villain: ‘Zod’ far more interesting. As he does a great job giving his character a motivation despite how sinister it may seem, as well as making him extremely menacing, very similar to his character in ‘The Shape of Water’ in many ways.

The cinematography by Amir Mokri is very generic cinematography for a blockbuster action film. Having far too much hand-held camera at points as well as shaking around constantly and utilizing many quick cuts during the action scenes, making them even more difficult to follow. The film also uses many artificial zooms when ‘Superman’ is flying through the sky, which I personally think looks terrible.¬†

The original score by Hanz Zimmer is easily my personal favourite element of the film, while being nothing new for this composer. Hanz Zimmer really brings his ‘A’ game here, and creates an exciting and up-lifting score which sometimes really makes-up for the lack of heroism and use of bright colours in the film. I would say this soundtrack is up there as one of my favourite scores by Hanz Zimmer for sure, even playing over my favourite scene in the film, when ‘Clark Kent’ learns to fly as ‘Superman’ for the first time.

‘Man of Steel’ is a bit of a mess of a superhero film, it almost feels more like a ‘Batman’ flick for most of it’s run-time. Relying very heavily on a dark colour palette and a bleak more ‘realistic’ feel. Alongside the generic cinematography and bland acting. The original score, a few actions set pieces and the occasional attractive visual is really all the film has to offer to superhero fans. Hopefully this iconic superhero will have his chance to grace the skies with another outstanding instalment soon, as for ‘Man of Steel’? It’s a disappointing 4/10 overall.

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The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) – Film Review

Only five years after the previous ‘Spider-Man’ franchise ended, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ attempts to be a fresh and slightly darker retelling of the superhero’s classic origin story, yet sadly falls pretty flat. Feeling too similar to the previous franchise as well as never really perfecting any of the interesting ideas the film introduces.

Focusing on the classic narrative of ‘Peter Parker’ being bitten by a genetically altered spider, he gains newfound spider-like powers and ventures out to solve the mystery of his parent’s mysterious death. Meanwhile encountering a menacing new threat in the dark streets of New York City.

Aside from the new focus on his lost parents, the story is far too similar to what we have seen before. Featuring all the classic scenes of ‘Peter’ beating up criminals, making his iconic costume (which now has an unpleasant redesign) and of course, witnessing his ‘Uncle Ben’s death. This can make the story feel very bland and predictable for the majority of it’s run-time, if the film was to come out many years after ‘Spider-Man 3’, then perhaps it wouldn’t have been as bad. But of course, Sony wanted to keep the rights to the Marvel character, and so had to rush a new remake out.

‘Peter Parker’ is this time portrayed by Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, Hacksaw Ridge), and overall I think he does a decent job here. While this version of the character isn’t super memorable, he does portray the character as a nervous and awkward yet still likeable teenager, despite looking a little too old for the character’s actual age. The rest of the cast are also fine, Emma Stone, Sally Field and Rhys Ifans all do a decent job, but are never really given anything interesting to do within the story.

The writing however isn’t up to par here, as the film is full of cheesy lines and clich√© moments throughout. My main issue with the film however, is the badly written villain: ‘The Lizard’. As his motivations from start-to-finish are very messy, combining this with his convoluted evil plan and ugly appearance. The film really portrays this classic comic book villain in a bad light for his new found cinema audience.

The action scenes in the film is once again nothing really incredible of note, however they are entertaining for what they are. My particular favourite here being the action scene in the high-school, as this scene utilizes the location very well and contains various small quips and visual gags similar to classic ‘Spider-Man’ comics and cartoons. It’s also here when we get a great look at many different CGI effects, and I feel they don’t look too bad overall.

The cinematography by John Schwartzman is nothing outstanding, but it does stay at a decent level throughout the film. However, this is easily redeemed by the great chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, with Emma portraying ‘Gwen Stacey’ (‘Peter Parker’s first love interest), all of their scenes together are very funny and very charming. These scenes really reminded me of director Mark Webb’s other film: ‘(500) Days of Summer’.

The original score by James Horner is again nothing amazing, but it does fit the film’s style. Feeling like a classic superhero score, mixed with some more emotional sounding elements, this score equals to a decently varied soundtrack in the end. The film in total seems to have many different aspects I enjoy, but none of them ever seem to pass the level of ‘decent’ or ‘good’. Which is a real shame, as I think this director and cast have some great potential. But this simply wasn’t the film for it.

Although I initially gave this film a lower rating, the actual filmmaking on display here isn’t terrible, and what the film does well such as: the great chemistry between the lead actors, ‘Spider-Man’s P.O.V. shots and the occasional entertaining action scene, I simply can’t ignore. Overall a 5/10, check this one out if you’re a huge fan of the character. If not though, your not missing out on anything.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – Film Review

An animated film like no other, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is a beautifully animated, ridiculously funny, extremely exciting popcorn fest. Animated like your inside the colourful pages of a comic book, the animation uses an illustration-like art style throughout. Giving every environment, character and even movement/action it’s own unique visual flare.

When Brooklyn teen ‘Miles Morales’ one day obtains strange new abilities, he soon finds himself on a dangerous adventure. As encounters the hero ‘Spider-Man’, alongside many other spider-people from multiple different dimensions. As New York City begins to collapse in on itself when a super-collider is merging the other dimensions into his own.

With an insane story like this one, the film really feels like it was ripped straight out of a comic book. With each ‘Spider-Man’ like hero having their own distinct look, personality and style. For example ‘Spider-Man Noir’ played by Nicolas Cage is always seen in black and white and deliver’s all his dialogue very intensely, almost like a parody of ‘Batman’ in a way. Which I’m pretty sure was intentional by the filmmakers, and got more than a few laughs out of me.

Speaking of the cast, Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali are all fantastic as their respective characters. Whether they are the villainous antagonists, or the classic heroes we all know and love, they all give very charismatic and varied performances. Liev Schreiber is also a true stand-out for me, portraying the villain: ‘Kingpin’ almost as amazing as Vincent D’onofrio. Becoming one of the most intimidating villains ‘Spider-Man’ has ever faced. I also have to give ‘Spider-Ham’ portrayed by John Mulaney an honorable mention, purely for the cartoonish over-the-top nature of his character.

Of course even with a cast this great, writing is still very important, and luckily the writing is witty, charming and clever throughout the entire story. It’s clear from start-to-finish that the writers have a lot of love for the characters and world of ‘Spider-Man’. More so than the majority of writers for most live-action Marvel films. I was also surprised at how emotional the story got at certain points, despite being an animated film. It’s rather mature, not afraid to focus on dark or upsetting scenes when needed.

Even though the animation style is a large element of the film for the character and environment design, it also helps a lot during the actions scenes. As any action scene containing ‘Spider-Man’ or his various villains is extremely well-edited and choreographed, mixing action you’d see in your usual blockbuster combined with the super colourful and unique style. Creating some truly memorable and exciting scenes, one that comes to mind is an action scene in ‘Aunt May’s house, containing a variety of characters in one singular small room.

Another element that helps with the actions scenes, as well as the overall style of the film is the fantastic original score by Daniel Pemberton. Just like the varied stylistic changes between the characters as already mentioned, the music is also very varied. Some of the tracks feeling straight out of a sci-fi soundtrack, where as others sound more similar to a classic cartoon show or an modern-day superhero flick.

My only real issue with the film is the lack of time some of the characters are given for certain developments in the narrative, for example: some of the characters from other realities discover certain people are alive/dead in the universe they have arrived in. This could’ve been a really interesting piece of development for the characters and added another strong emotional scene to the mix. Unfortunately most of these moments are skimmed over, due to lack of time and the film’s quick pacing however, I’ll give the film a pass on this one.

In conclusion, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is some of the most fun I’ve had at the cinema, an absolute visual feast for the eyes along with an original yet fun story provides an awesome superhero flick for any comic book, animation or fan to experience. I also feel the film also has a great original score and an instant watch for any ‘Spider-Man’ fan, being the web-head’s best film to date. A very well deserved 9/10.

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