Peacemaker Episode 4. Wow. It’s better than all the 3 previous episodes! The action, the directing, the writing….it all comes together! I love it! Judomaster is BACK, and I am all here for it. Don’t call me a fanboy, but……call me a fanboy. I thought I had it good after the first 3 episodes, but I fell in love with Peacemaker with Episode 4! It all blends so well together, and that cliffhanger ending…….wow. Just wow. I love it so much. I can’t get over it. This entire review may turn into me just agonizing over the episode, so forgive me if that happens.
Well, what’s good? Pretty much everything. Leota Adebayo gets her first (supposed) kill, Judomaster kicks butt, and Peacemaker has some more social-emotional learning to do. Jody Hill does an amazing job with her episode of the series, and it sets up a promising Episode 5. Interesting character developments throughout the episode, and it’s more of a character-development episode between Peacemaker and his dad, rather than an episode that pushes the plot. A bit more than a filler episode, but hey, filler episodes are great.
Jody Hill did a fantastic job with this episode. Judomaster’s fight scenes are shot amazingly, with him creeping up behind John Economos in one scene. His choreography is incredible, and whoever the stunts coordinator is, they deserve some serious credits. I am a big fan of the shot choice in this episode, the blurs and zooms are particularly my favorite. However, I am curious how Judomaster will play into the rest of the show. Is he serving the butterflies, or is he a butterfly himself? Questions that hopefully will be answered soon, and if Peacemaker returns for a season 2, I want Hill brought on again.
The costumes aren’t the best in the show, I’m not going to lie. Judomaster’s costume looks like it was made by a 12-year old. In a way, so does Peacemaker’s. I don’t have a big issue with it overall, but it would be nice if they could get more sophisticated costumes. Vigilante’s costume, though, is pretty sweet. I would totally wear that for Halloween. The helmets for Peacemaker, though, are absolutely legendary. I want a nuclear helmet, that’d be pretty cool. In case you didn’t notice, I’m geeking out over these helmets.
The writing in this episode is fantastic. James Gunn elevates the series farther than I could’ve imagined. The final scene, with Peacemaker dancing to the memories of the people he’s killed, hits hard. Really hard. I think that Peacemaker’s going to have some more mental breakdowns throughout the course of the season, and then solve it in the season finale. I also think he’ll become friends with Harcourt, it’s not clear what’ll happen next. One thing is clear: we are in for a GREAT second half of the season, and hopefully a season 2.
The fourth episode of the series is just as good as the previous three, and I don’t even think we’ve reached the peak of the season yet! Excited for more to come, what are your predictions for Episode 5?
Peacemaker is truly one of a kind. The comedy, the action, and the…..raunchiness all fit together perfectly. It’s a series that, even though rushed, makes sense.
James Gunn has said that he wrote the entire first season in 8 weeks, but it looks like it was written in a year. The series has perfect pacing, and John Cena returning as Peacemaker is an absolute delight to behold.Steve Agee’s John Economos is great, and so are Jennifer Holland’s Emilia Harcourt and Chukwudi Iwuji’s Clemson Murn. However, Danielle Brooks’ Leota Adebayo is on another level. Her charm and wit is immeasurable, and contributes immensely to the series’ comedy aspect.
The series has some issues, like all other media, but makes up for it in the best of ways. For one: Eagly. I mean, he’s a pet eagle and is adorable. Who can go wrong with a cute pet? Not even Peacemaker can, though somehow Harcourt has an issue. Don’t ask me, I just think she’s grumpy. In any case, the series is exceptional in its craft and wit, as well as its nerve to do the most ridiculous things.
For instance, Peacemaker actually calls Batman “a pussy” in an episode. I mean…. I can’t imagine WB would be too happy with that. One of their better characters calling their best known character an expletive. But, it’s in the show, so something obviously worked out.
PEACEMAKER’S IMPECCABLE STORY
Let’s start off with the biggest thing here: James Gunn has created a masterpiece. The writing in the first 3 episodes is off the charts. There is so much character development with John Cena’s Peacemaker in the episodes that I teared up. He’s advertised as a ruthless killer who doesn’t care who he has to kill but, in truth, he’s the opposite. He cares. He cares a lot.
When asked to take out kids, he hesitates. At first glance, those seem like minor things, but in the end, all the minor things add up to major developments. It builds up who Peacemaker really is under the uniform. It makes him likable and, to some extent, relatable. Chris Miller’s (Peacemaker) experiences with his father will also come to light. James Gunn has outdone himself again.
Leota Adebayo gets a lot of focus in the series, but through the first 3 episodes, there’s not much character development. However, I sense there will be some coming shortly, as all signs point to a major shift in her nature in Episode 4. In addition, John Economos is probably the funniest character I’ll ever see in DC, he’s just so stupid that it’s hilarious.
Jennifer Holland plays the hardened Emilia Harcourt, who seems like she doesn’t have a heart (even though it was proved she does in The Suicide Squad). Chukwudi Iwuji is, for the lack of a better term, suspect. He’s not necessarily a “butterfly”, but there’s something he’s doing behind the scenes that the others aren’t seeing. I’ll be keeping my eye on him going forward.
James Gunn wrote all 8 episodes, and directed 5. Jody Hill, Brad Anderson, and Rosemary Rodriguez each directed an episode. Hill with the 4th, Anderson with the 7th, and Rodriguez with the 5th. All of their individual creative designs are visible when they’re directing, from something as major as shifting on/off screen dialogue, to something as minor as a small color shift.
For example: Hill takes on a more action-filled role in her episode, while Gunn goes more for the story. However, when Gunn takes action scenes, they’re good. Really good. That’s not to say that Hill isn’t good at developing the story at all, just that Hill doesn’t focus on that aspect as much. And sometimes, a bunch of action is just what we need.
This review is about the first 3 episodes of the series, which are all directed by Gunn, so I’ll focus on him. The episodes have a lot of charm to them, and Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks) especially gets a lot of screen time. She’s an interesting figure, in the sense that we don’t know a lot about her. All we know is that (minor spoilers ahead) she’s Amanda Waller’s daughter, but no one else on the series seems to know that.
Gunn has crafted that deliberately, and his directing styles show his intention, which is to keep people guessing as long as possible. It’s great, I love it. Throughout the season, I was kept guessing what would happen, based on the shot choices and dialogue, and I still missed the mark entirely. This may be Gunn’s best work yet.
OPENING CREDITS & SCORE
Yo, what? Honestly, that was nuts. Those opening credits shocked me to no end, and I’ll be watching them 24/7. I love love love it, the dancing and all is hilarious, and the music is catchy. If you haven’t seen them yet, I highly recommend checking it out. Eagly makes a nice cameo at the end of the credits, but John Cena’s dance moves are what make this credits sequence so lovable. Jen Holland hipping and hopping to the beat doesn’t hurt either.
But seriously, Steve Agee dancing? I didn’t know it was possible. I love it either way. I don’t think I honestly have a single issue with the credits, they’re perfect. Whoever thought that up, props to them, there should be a HUGE bonus paycheck waiting, they deserve it.
The score. The score. The score. I can’t get over it. It’s just amazing. The score (like all James Gunn work) adds so much to the episodes, and provides some additional story and feeling. My personal favorites are of course, the opening credits, and the end credits. The songs mixed in throughout the episodes are good, but the opening and end credits are better. As for the actual soundtrack, the score composed by Clint Mansell and Kevin Kiner is quite good, and provides an instrumental feel to the series (no pun intended). It feels more grounded, and less off-the-ground alien stuff. Quite good decision-making by James Gunn on both counts.
Honestly, I thought the comedy was going to be good. And for a lot of the show, it is. There are quite a few funny jokes in the series, and that janitor in the beginning of the first episode is absolute FIRE. However, there are jokes in the series that aren’t really….well….funny. They’re meant to be, but they’re not. They come off as inappropriate and rude, and it ruined the mood for a bit. Adebayo’s jokes were fine, so were Peacemaker’s, but Vigilante just doesn’t work for me. He’s trying desperately to be funny, but he just can’t make the cut. Hopefully he can do better in future episodes.
The VFX isn’t bad, actually. There are some mistakes, like with all visual-effects heavy projects, but overall it’s quite good. One of the only mistakes that comes to mind is in the first episode, when Annie whats-her-face starts attacking Chris Miller. There was a moment where the shot didn’t look quite refined, but hey, it happens. I’m pretty sure it’ll happen a bit more going forward with the final 5 episodes, but it’s bound to happen at least once an episode. Other than that, the VFX is pretty realistic.
Peacemaker is a really good show. Apart from a few mistakes, it excels at everything else. The action, the writing, and of course, the directing. It’s a must-watch for the DCEU, and a must-watch for action, comedy, horror, or superhero fans. Peacemaker is going long ways in its first 3 episodes, and its final 5 will air until February 17. Episode 4 airs on January 20. Catch Peacemaker streaming on HBO Max now.
I thought long and hard about what to write for The 355. I wanted so badly to give it a good review, as the film stars Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, and more. The more I thought about it, though, is that Simon Kinberg’s latest film never really had a chance to succeed and amaze while Simon Kinberg himself was attached to the project. His films generally haven’t turned out the best, as exemplified with Dark Phoenix. The potential is all here. You have an all-star cast, consisting of Chastain, Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, Bingbing Fan, Penelope Cruz, and even Sebastian Stan.
The 355 should have been a major hit, critically acclaimed and with audiences raving. Instead, you have a film that basically flopped at both the box office and reviews. As I said, Universal had the potential for it to be a good film. They just needed a better director. Several possible options come to mind, including Christopher Nolan, Kari Skogland, or possibly even Zack Snyder (though he’s a bit of a hot topic in Hollywood right now). I’m not blaming the mistakes of the movie exclusively on Kinberg, but he has a lot of responsibility for it.
Let’s start with the biggest issue with The 355, the story. The story is perhaps the thing that kills it all here. You could have a great story with terrible directing, and it’d still be an okay film. You could have a movie with a not-great story, but with every other aspect of the film being good. I find the latter to be exemplified in Eternals, and the former in Casablanca. In any case, the story is bad, and the directing is bad. Those 2 things together simply don’t work for any film. When a project has story issues, who do you blame? Generally, the producers, director, and writer. Basically, Simon Kinberg.
Possible story changes in The 355 could’ve included less stereotypical plot twists. When you see a plot twist coming from a mile away, it’s just not as fun to watch. I saw it coming from halfway across the globe (I guess they were in Paris?). The film subsequently suffers from a lack of originality, instead opting to pursue the route that’s been done hundreds of times in spy action cinema. While some may find it intriguing, I find it to be boring and uninspiring, which unfortunately is what Hollywood did for the first year of the pandemic. Looks like we might be back in those times anyway.
TERRIBLE SCORE, POOR EDITING
The score of The 355 might set a new record for “worst film, worst score”. Even the worst of movies have produced at the very minimum, okay soundtracks. This is just pure terrible. And no, before you ask, I won’t blame this on Simon Kinberg. Tom Holkenborg sets the entirely wrong theme for the movie when the soundtrack is playing. When there’s an action scene, the music turns slightly towards making viewers think there’s going to be suspense. Guess what? No suspense, just more action. The wrong idea is set for the movie. I’ve always maintained that the score is an integral part of any movie, and for it to be this bad in The 355…….it speaks for itself.
The editing is a whole other realm of bad. I know I just keep on trashing the movie, and nearly every aspect of it (but it gets better, I promise!), but to be fair The 355 kind of deserves it. The editing in this piece of cinema (does it even deserve to be called cinema?) is honestly the worst. It feels like you hired a seventh grader to mash it up, and the result is a cobbled-together pile of .mp4 files, rather than an actual movie. Abrupt cuts to different scenes are displayed, with no explanation provided. It’d be nice if the jump-cuts between scenes were at least related, rather than totally random?
COSTUME AND PRODUCTION DESIGN
One thing I will say about this film, the production and costume design are on another level. And not in a bad way. The extravagant nature of the costumes, and the elegant design of the sets make for a more enjoyable experience. My favorite costumes, by far, were the quartet (plus Bingbing Fan’s character) at the Shanghai auction. The outfits were stylist and fit with the times (though I’m not delving too deep into that, I know little about fashion). I have to admit I was a little surprised that they even bothered to wear nice outfits for the auction. Based on the trajectory of the film, I would’ve guessed that they could’ve worn a t-shirt and track pants.
The production design is also quite elegant (though the costumes are a smidge better). The final battle location (before it got shot up), looks like a wonderful suite that I would stay at. The mixing for modern and ancient architecture makes for a warmer feel to the suite, which provides a nice aesthetic. The location for the French cafe is also nice, it’s small and cozy. I needed more of that from The 355.
I’m gonna be short here. The pacing sucked. I went into the theater, the movie started a few minutes before 8pm. I had sat through a sizable portion of The 355, and I was feeling like I’d been there for 90 minutes to 2 hours,. It felt off, because I knew the movie itself was only 2 hours, so I silently checked my phone for the time without disturbing others. It had been 60 minutes. The second half of the movie is better, but only slightly. The first half, in terms of pacing, is an absolute nightmare.
It’s quite clear the the COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on the post-production process of this film as seen with many other projects. The editing is a mess, and it’s obvious the editors were in a hurry to make it for their release date,, so the film didn’t get delayed. again. The right thing to do would’ve been to push the film another 3 months, to giver the creative team time to revise and try to reshoot some of the film, to fix the major issues. However, due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, and a possible window for the film to release, Universal Pictures made the decision to force The 355 through the distribution process, which led to its dismal $4M opening weekend.
There looks to be a possibility for sequels on the horizon. The film ends with the group of agents splitting up, and each going their separate ways. Nick gets [SPOILERS] [SPOILERS] [SPOILERS], and that’s an intentional question mark. What happens next to Nick? It’s also obvious that the group of agents (dubbed “The 355”) will regroup at a later date for another world-ending event. In retrospect, it seems kind of like The Avengers. In any case, with the film’s flop at the box office (at least on opening weekend), the franchise’s future isn’t looking too bright, but if they move forward with a sequel, PLEASE find a new director.
The 355 has some qood qualities and some bad qualities, like any other film, but its bads are so severe that the movie falls apart on them. If you like stereotypical action flicks, then this movie might be right for you. It’s just not for me. Universal isn’t really excited to greenlight a sequel after the critical acclaim on the original, but who knows? Studios surprise us all the time. The 355 is now playing exclusively in theaters.
It’s hard to judge by only one episode, but The Book of Boba Fett is by no means whatsoever a disappointing series as of yet. It certainly has some disappointing elements, but the newest adventure from Lucasfilm is not “bad”. It’s simply….disorganized. The series has its ups and downs, and has more of the former than the latter, thankfully. Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand is such a delight to see again, and so is Temuera Morrison’s Boba Fett. The premiere episode was a refreshing sight to see, as we’ve had a 1-year break from Star Wars.
However, some of the story choices are questionable, such as the flashbacks in the episode. Specifically, length, story, and placement of said flashbacks. The only other big complaint I have about the episode (which I’ll discuss in length in a minute), is that the episode seemingly doesn’t have anything to spoil. At first glance, you might be thinking, “What do you mean??? That’s great!” But, as you think about it more, that’s not great. You want stuff to spoil, because it means that there’s plot development and/or crazy things happening. Otherwise, it’s more of a filler episode, which I feel this episode was, for worse. Without further ado, here’s my review for The Book of Boba Fett.
Star Wars fans had incredibly high expectations going into this series, as it wasn’t even announced in the typical fashion! It was attached as a post-credit scene to The Mandalorian season 2, and it’s no stretch to claim that Mandalorian was a cultural phenomenon. With that being said, it’s natural to assume that Book of Boba would have those same expectations, given that it’s the same creative team, and some of the same cast. I’m sorry to say it didn’t deliver. Fans are treated to a portrayal of Fett that seems no more than a glorified cameo.
Sure, Wen’s Fennec Shand steals every scene she’s in, and you could say the same about Yelena Belova in Hawkeye. Yelena wasn’t meant to be a main character, and that’s why it worked so well. In this series, Wen is trying to be the center of this series, along with Temuera Morrison, and she just barely keeps pace. Morrison’s performance is fine if you’re trying to act a character in a skit on Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show, it’s not reflective of who the character actually is. Boba Fett would’ve killed the Mayor’s assistant outright for that amount of disrespect. This Fett seems not like a bounty hunter or crime lord, but more like a soft, kind man. For any unaware, this is the opposite of what Boba Fett is.
My big issue with this first episode of Boba Fett, the flashbacks. My issue isn’t as much that they exist, it’s the manner in which it’s done. Over half the episode was dedicated to seeing Boba Fett come out of the Sarlacc pit, and deal with Tusken Raiders. If they had done it more in a Mandalorian-esque way, in which the directors showed more and more of the flashbacks per episode, with it culminating in a full sequence, I think I would’ve liked it a lot more. Instead, I feel the flashbacks take away from the portion of the episode set in the present day. It makes for an uneven episode, and to be honest, I got bored watching the flashbacks.
I hope that the flashbacks were a one-off thing, but with the overall tone the showrunners are setting, it’ll continue. However, with new episodes comes the opportunity for do-overs. I found part of the flashbacks interesting, I’m excited to see how he recovered after his encounter with the Tuskens. I’m praying for other bounty hunters to appear, or possibly the Empire.
One thing that’s not being talked enough about, the score. Ludwig Goransson has managed to put together yet another amazing score, and he just keeps adding to his impressive resume (Black Panther, The Mandalorian, Venom, Creed). The main theme for the series incorporates sounds and beats from the Crimson Dawn theme in Solo: A Star Wars Story, which could be hinting at appearances for members of the crime syndicate in future episodes.
Spoilers? There Aren’t Any
Yeah, you read that heading right. There aren’t any spoilers for this episode to be told, which is why there’s no SPOILER-FREE banner at the top of the review. At first glance, a great thing. As you look further deep into it, not so much. This felt like a filler episode, which is disappointing, given it’s only 7 episodes (shorter than The Mandalorian, which had none). It’s also surprising because it’s a series premiere, which is supposed to introduce the characters and the world. I honestly didn’t feel it was a premiere, more like a continuation of The Mandalorian season 2, and I guess the showrunners felt the same.
There are a lot of things I could examine closely about this series, and I’ve complained a lot about The Book of Boba Fett in previous sections of my review. However, when it’s all put together, it’s quite a wonderful addition to the Star Wars mythology. It explains a lot of Boba Fett’s time in between Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, and The Mandalorian season 2. What the series sets up going forward, as to the potential villains of the series, is curious. This so-called Mayor is interesting, I’m curious if he’s actually the mayor of Mos Espa, or just another crime lord. There were mixed-in elements of the Crimson Dawn theme added to the score, which could spotlight Qi’ra.
As to the action part, there are a bunch of sequences in The Book of Boba Fett that are action-filled. Fennec Shand’s fight with the assassins is particularly attention-grabbing, as is Boba Fett’s fight with the weird sand monster. There is a lot of hand-to-hand combat, with a surprising non-appearance of blasters, a staple in the Star Wars universe. Martial arts plays a prominent role in fight scenes, Fennec Shand’s background lists her as being quite familiar with them. Overall, though, there aren’t many action scenes in the premiere episode, it’s mostly talking.
The Book of Boba Fett is a fun, mythology-heavy installment to the Star Wars universe. While close-up, it may seem like a failure, from afar the moving pieces come together to form a thrilling, epic story. With many rumored appearances and an episode count of 7, there is any number of things that Lucasfilm can do. Chapter One of The Book of Boba Fett is now streaming exclusively on Disney+, Chapter Two will be streaming on January 5, 2022.
A Journal for Jordan is the fourth feature film directed by Denzel Washington. The movie follows Dana Canedy, a reporter for the New York Times. It followers Canedy through her stages of being alone and finding love with First Sergeant Charles Monroe King. It’s a tale of love and grief, that feels a couple of decades too late. Washington’s creation is mainly overshadowed by a gloomy mood, we learn early on that Sergeant King died in combat.
That being said, Michael B. Jordan’s latest film isn’t a sad one. The movie aims to look at grief and loss through a lens that is both heartwarming and sentimental. Chanté Adams completely excels at showing the pain and grief that one would certainly carry after losing one significant other.
Dana and Charles first meet each other at Dana’s childhood home. We soon learn that Dana’s father is also a military man, and Charles was one of his men. Although this may seem like an odd beginning to a love story. But chemistry is chemistry and they most definitely have it.
In films like Black Panther and Creed, Jordan has been to play extremely vocal roles, but here he totally reins himself in. Jordan in this movie plays the role of someone who is no longer trying to prove themself. Here, Jordan plays a character you learn about from not what he says but from what he does. We learn of his old school music taste during his drive with Dana and his ability to draw. Most importantly, though, is that he already has a 9-year old daughter who lives in Texas with their mother.
Even less vocal Jordan makes Charles a very solid presence in the movie. Dana and Charles are sharing a long-distance relationship, Dana is a reporter for the New York Times. Although they have only seen each other once, the next time Charles visits they seemingly cut “taking things slowly” completely out.
Although they may seem like a match made in heaven, the differences in their lifestyle still pertain. Part of what makes this film good was the incompatibility between the two, which added a whole other dimension. We see an example of this early on where Dana is expecting Charles to be over any minute, instead, he calls, and gives what sounds like a very reasonable excuse, that one of his soldiers was having complications during childbirth and he felt he needed to be there. It may seem reasonable to us, Dana was livid. We finally see that not only is she fighting for his love, but for him to make her a priority.
Denzel Washington’s film is based on a script by Virgil Williams (Mudbound). Twenty years ago, this movie would undoubtedly be an Oscar nominee, but now, it falls short in almost every category. 9/11 sees a big turn in their relationship, but the film doesn’t seem to grasp that aspect enough. Although it may seem like a somewhat “corny” story, Washington certainly delivers at making it the most emotional aspect.
It isn’t a masterpiece by all means, but its theme can resonate with everyone: the intertwining meanings of love, loyalty, and grief. A Journal For Jordan will release exclusively in theaters on Christmas Day. Denzel Washington has created another classic, that stars Michael B. Jordan and Chanté Adams.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is my favorite film of the year. And, it’s not even close. This film celebrates three generations of Spider-Man, and it succeeds in every way. For the first time, I do not have a single complaint about the film I’m reviewing. It is perfect in almost every way (aside from one VFX shot error): The characters, the plot, the fan service.
At first look, No Way Home seems like a failed attempt at another Endgame, but the truth is, this was never meant to be an Avengers: Endgame-type movie. It isn’t some big celebration of an entire cinematic universe. It’s a celebration of THREE cinematic universes, and only for Spider-Man. It’s smaller in scale than Endgame, but bigger at the same time. It has a lot of moving pieces, and somehow makes them all work for 2 hours, 28 minutes, and 1 second. I’ll go over all aspects of Spider-Man: No Way Home in my SPOILER-FREE review, down below.
My initial expectations going into this film were extremely high, and I’m happy to say that all those expectations were exceeded. I was blown away by some of the cinematography choices, and by the locations. The Statue of Liberty was the PERFECT place for the final battle, as the Statue represents everything that the Sinister (Five?) were trying to tear down. Michael Giacchino’s score was one of the best I’ve ever heard from an action film, and I was so happy hearing the villains’ themes by Danny Elfman and James Horner.
The cinematography choices in this film were astounding, in a way that Marvel hasn’t done before. Some of the shot and lighting choices are quite unique and visually spectacular. One shot comes to mind, where Peter is swinging along power lines (shown in the trailer briefly), and they do a shot on him vertically, at sunset. The shot is just so pretty, I fell in love with the cinematography at that point forward.
I can’t delve too deep into the details of the score, but it’s placed so well with the film, and every character gets their own special theme. Michael Giacchino’s gonna have to put together at least 3 albums to fit all his soundtrack. Green Goblin’s theme is quite something, and [REDACTED]’s theme…..well, it’s redacted for a reason. Giacchino balances woodwinds with strings perfectly. I used to play bass in a middle school orchestra, so I know how important balancing all these instruments is. Some of the best composers mess up sometimes, and so does Giacchino, but not in this film. In this film, it’s perfection all the way through.
My favorite overall character, and this is one which I would not have said for Homecoming and Far From Home, was Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. Not Spider-Man. At this point, you’re probably confused. How can Spider-Man be different from Peter when they’re the same person? Tom Holland may play both, but Peter Parker is inherently a different character than Spider-Man. Spider-Man would’ve let the villains die. No matter the consequences, Peter would try to help cure the villains.
In all 3 live action versions of Peter, there has been one common denominator: Peter Parker cares. In the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield films, we were able to see that side of the character, as those films were definitively SOLO films. We weren’t able to say that for Homecoming and Far From Home, in the former we had Tony Stark/Iron Man, and in the latter Nick Fury (and Mysterio, in a way). While this film features Doctor Strange, it is definitively a Spider-Man film, from start to end. We see a human side of Peter, more vulnerable than he has been in his past two films combined. Fans will fall in love with this character all over again.
Another standout of this film (but will come as less of a surprise), Zendaya’s MJ. Her charisma and charm make for an even better portrayal of MJ than before, and when she shares scenes with Tom Holland, both of their energy feeds into one another, and elevates both their performances. Jacob Batalon’s performance as Ned was also one for the ages. Benedict Cumberbatch, for the main part of the film, just seemed like an annoyed man tired of dealing with Peter’s antics.
VILLAINS & OTHERS
The acting levels of the villains in this film were much better than their past appearances, the only exception being Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock was a GIANT step up from Spider-Man 2, as were Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman, Rhys Ifans’ Lizard, and Jamie Foxx’s Electro. Other characters that had previously appeared in Marvel projects were also quite good in their roles. And of course, I’ll never get tired of JB Smoove’s Mr. Dell and Martin Starr’s Mr. Harrington, they crack me up every time.
What to say about the script? It’s wonderful. Just wonderful. The script includes so many callbacks to the previous Spider-Man franchises. Like I said, it is a celebration of three generations of Spider-Man, from Tobey Maguire, to Andrew Garfield, to now Tom Holland. I can’t go too deep into detail without spoiling the film, but there are so many fun easter eggs planted throughout the script, which reference other universes, other planets, and other characters/locations/items/events in the MCU itself.
My favorite personal line, though? “With great power, there must also come great responsibility.” I teared up when I heard it, and I am so happy that Marvel Studios added it. It wasn’t from Uncle Ben, like in the two previous franchises, but it had the same weight when said, possibly more. The moment when it was said, the circumstances around the quote, everything in the scene felt like it had been building up to that one line, and the question was, would it deliver, and hit home in the same way that Uncle Ben’s line did in the two previous films? The answer: yes.
Just a preview to upcoming awards season, I’ve had multiple people ask me this: Does Spider-Man: No Way Home stand a chance at any Oscars? At first thought, no. No way in hell. It’s a superhero movie, it doesn’t stand a chance. Then I remember the Best Visual Effects category. It has a damn good chance there. Oh right, Best Cinematography. Maybe best Adapted Screenplay as well? Possibly even a nomination for Best Leading Actor & Best Leading Actress?
I also remember that Black Panther was nominated for 11 or so Oscars, and won a bunch of them. I remember that The Academy of Motion Pictures has become much more open-minded recently. Maybe not all the way there, but quite a bit. Maybe No Way Home has a shot at Best Picture? So, at first thought, no, it doesn’t have a chance. Who would pick a superhero film to win Best Picture? But as you think more, you realize that yes, No Way Home does stand a chance, and it has quite good odds.
No Way Home is a fantastic film, that shows just how truly great the MCU can be. It’s by far the best Spider-Man film, with its cinematography, score, acting, and fan service. This is a film that I would see time and time again, truly mesmerizing and heartbreaking. If you haven’t seen it yet, see it as soon as you can, this is not a film you want spoiled for you. It’s a celebration of Spider-Man, and I doubt there is a single viewer who will say it isn’t. Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters on December 17, 2021.
West Side Story is a masterpiece, and there’s not much more to say about it.
The acting. the directing, and the score all fits together seamlessly. Rachel Zegler delivers an Oscar-worthy performance, and Steven Spielberg directs this film like he’s directed many a musical before – which for the record, he hasn’t. The cinematography and writing also deserve credit for this spectacular display of work.
There are a great many things in West Side Story that are noteworthy, but there are also a few things that aren’t that great. To name some: Ansel Elgort and the editing. Let’s get into it all right down below in this spoiler-free review – which is saying something for a play that’s half a century old – of 20th Century Studios’ West Side Story.
Rachel Zegler is the main thing that needs to be talked about here. Her charm and intelligence make for an incredible performance of Maria in West Side Story. In scenes with Ansel Elgort’s Tony, she very much takes over the screen, and shows her full potential. Zegler has a long career ahead of her, and with this performance, she might just kick it off with an Academy Award in Best Actress (Leading). I was laughing, crying, and feeling all the emotions she was during the film, and at this film’s peak emotional moments, I felt them too. Zegler delivers such a convincing performance that it’s hard not to feel the emotions that the characters are feeling.
Ariana DeBose is an extremely talented actress, and her case is quite similar to Zegler’s. This is her first major role as well, she is quite talented, and her strengths are used to their full potential in this film. DeBose plays Anita as an energized soul, looking for a life partner, and she finds that person in Bernardo (David Alvarez). DeBose plays Anita in a different way than her predecessor, and for the better. Rita Moreno is also quite influential in her role as Valentina, Tony’s grandmother. A veteran actress, Moreno shows that you’re never too old to act, and her influence is just as powerful as ever. Both are candidates for Best Actress (Supporting), though I personally feel that Rebecca Ferguson will win that category this year, for Dune.
Out of everything off-screen, the directing deserves the most credit. Steven Spielberg has another masterpiece to add to his collection, along with Jaws, Ready Player One, and Indiana Jones, to name a few. His vision for this film amazed me, and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t going into this film expecting it to be as great as it is. Spielberg has never directed a musical before, so for his first musical, on a musical this well-known, I had my doubts that he could pull it off. But boy, did he pull it off. It’s better than the 1961 version, surprisingly, and it looks like a film from a veteran filmmaker that has dealt with musicals before.
The writing by Tony Kushner is great as well, the description, the locations, the emphasis on emotion is amazing, and it elevates the film, past what it would have been if there hadn’t been that level of detail in the script. The score is oscar-worthy, and the songs “Maria” or “America” have a serious chance to win Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in March. The cinematography though, was on another level. Jacques Kaminski has worked with Spielberg on many of his projects, and his contributions are one of the reasons that Spielberg’s films have been so successful. The lighting and color-grading on the film are amazing, and I pray that Kaminski will come to an MCU project one day.
Ansel Elgort and David Alvarez are really my only issues with this film. Their characters (Tony and Bernardo) have so much potential, that Elgort and Alvarez fail to capitalize on. Maybe on an individual scale, Elgort is okay, but on the scale of the entire film, Elgort cannot compare to Rachel Zegler in their shared scenes, and neither can Alvarez with Ariana DeBose. They simply cannot capitalize on their characters’ potential, and try too hard for it to be good. When you try too hard, you are doomed to fail, which Ansel Elgort and David Alvarez did.
Editing is the only other issue with this film, and it’s not like it’s a major one. The only issue with it, really, is that there were moments interwoven throughout the film where it would simply cut to another scene. Basically, the music would be playing, the scene would be going, like normal, but suddenly everything would cut to another scene abruptly, with no context or explanation provided. It might be an issue with my theater, not sure, but there was definitely enough of the issue to make it a problem with my viewing experience.
West Side Story is just the kind of film that people need right now, and it is a must-see. The film has a chance at multiple Academy Awards in March, and Rachel Zegler is the most likely one to win. Newer figures to the industry like Zegler and Ariana DeBose are about to start their careers off with a bang, and veterans like Steven Spielberg and Rita Moreno show that there is no limit to what you can do with your talents. West Side Story is playing exclusively in a theater near you.
Episode 3 of Hawkeye raises the bar yet again. I’m doing a new format for my reviews, more of a bullet-point format. Overall, the episode is the best MCU episode we’ve ever gotten, and there is so much plot development and character depth. There’s a strengths/weaknesses section, questions/comments/notes section, and then finally my rankings.
Great debut episode for directing duo Bert & Bertie, excellent intro to Maya Lopez and who she is, as a character.
Cinematography was OFF THE CHARTS, that continuous moving shot was the longest shot I’ve ever seen, and they pulled it off to perfection.
Loved the VFX work. Again, flawless.
Costumes were off the charts. Tracksuit Mafia especially, it’s comic-accurate, and hilarious.
Alaqua Cox stuns as Maya Lopez/Echo, and somehow manages to blow Hailee Steinfeld away as well, who has been the focal point of the series so far.
Enjoyed more of a Christmas-y feel this time around. Really loved what directing duo Bert & Bertie brought to the table.
Marketing was wonderful for this episode. The TV spots, the cliffhanger that was teased, and even most of the Hawkeye section for Marvel Studios’ Disney+ Day 2021 Special was from the car chase.
The score is…..nuts. Absolutely nuts. I love it so much, and I take back what I said in my episode 1 and 2 reviews. This score STANDS OUT from all others.
Too short of an episode, only 43 minutes. I feel it could’ve been longer.
Production design was a bit rough, some of the locations were poorly scouted/designed.
The only scene where the writing fell apart was the escape from warehouse scene in the beginning. Would’ve been better had they showed more hand-to-hand combat from Kate, and didn’t have Clint dispatch them so easily.
Will Clint be home in time for Christmas?
Is “uncle” actually Kingpin?
Who is Jack, where he deals in black market auctions and knows how to fight with a sword?
Where is Yelena Belova?
What is Sloan Ltd?
Arguably the best episode of Marvel TV, ever.
That cliffhanger…..can’t wait for episode 4, and I want to know more about this watch.
Pym arrows? Like, what? LOVE IT so much.
I’d like to see more of Kazi’s past explored. Who is he, as a person?
Excited to see if a Ronin/Swordsman duel happens at somepoint.
Kate talking with Yelena will be a sight to feast on, I want her in this series so badly.
I would like to know if and how Madame Masque plays into the series.
Costume Design: 10
Production Design: 7
What did you think of the third episode of Hawkeye? Let us know by mentioning @ReviewedCinema on Twitter. The first three episodes of Hawkeye are now available on Disney+, and the fourth episode will release on December 8.