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Turn Off the Dark

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There’s a brand spanking new cut of the infamous third and final incarnation of Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire in the suit and Sam Raimi behind the camera entirely authored by Raimi’s regular editor Bob Murawski that’s been making rounds in a new Blu-Ray collection release and I’m kind of upset that I haven’t found time to buy and watch it before writing this review (maybe I might add an addendum to this once I find free time for it). By all accounts, it is a significantly better and tighter version of a film that clearly had a lot of behind the scenes drama that strangled and tattered the final result to the point of the strong hate the film receives ten years later.

I can’t say I don’t see where the hate for Spider-Man 3 comes from. It’s a broken movie, full of flaws and imperfections and absolutely demolishing the portrayal of one of the most canonical and beloved villains in the entire Marvel catalogue. But I’d also be lying if I said that I end up disliking the film, let alone despising the way the rest of moviegoers seem to. Anyway, let me divert those angry “you’re stupid for liking this movie” comments just for a second to target on the problems I’m sure anybody would acknowledge about it.

The first and most glaring one is Tobey Maguire was miscast for this movie. I’m sorry, he’s still my favorite screen Peter Parker/Spider-Man (now that I’ve seen Homecoming) and you can’t help the fact that he’s been cast two movies ago (and supplied great performances in them), but this is not his material. I mentioned before that he’s an extremely limited actor and one of those limitations is his inability to sell any kind of darkness in a manner that isn’t comical and overwrought even for Raimi’s stylings. And Spider-Man 3 is unfortunately a film that feels like it desperately wants to be dark, incorporating the Symbiote and Venom storyline – where Spidey finds a new suit in the amorphous alien liquid that attaches to his body but affects his attitude so negatively as to turn him antagonistic to everyone around him, before he forces it off of him and the symbiote finds a new host in obnoxious and pathetic rival photographer Eddie Brock (the spectacularly miscast Topher Grace), transforming him into the dark version of Spider-Man known as Venom – demands that kind of darkness. But, Maguire is holding it back in the most severest manner, for reasons not his fault (his face is way too boyish for him to play off the kind of despicable cool Raimi and co-writers Ivan Raimi [who almost certainly added more of the campy elements] and Alvin Sargent want) and reasons entirely his fault (he cannot sell the violence of certain moments).

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Now, that’s Maguire. The other big problem that hinders Spider-Man 3 is no secret: Sam Raimi did not want to make this movie. At least, he didn’t want to make the Venom movie and it gets in the way of his real intended storyline where The Sandman Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) fights for his family and Harry Osborn (James Franco beginning his dark descent into actor I despise), now aware of both his late father and Parker’s secret identities, takes up the Green Goblin mantle to avenge the latter figure in his life. As a Spider-Man fan, I can’t say I disagree with this attitude – Venom was did not interest me as a villain, totally the type of work as character and design that the dated Todd MacFarlane could come up with in a transparent manner.

As a result, the parts that Raimi truly feel inspired with – such as the beautiful effects work witnessing The Sandman slowly building himself up again after having been changed into his superself in an experiment gone wrong – have that epic pulp quality that Raimi supplied to every single second of Spider-Man 1 and 2. But the parts where he’s clearly disinterested in… well, it shows. In some places, it turns terrible such as every moment Grace is on-screen (and I feel like the casting was one place where Raimi was flipping Sony of) and in others… when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Raimi turned the most dismissable facets of Spider-Man’s dark development and turned them into one-part comedy, one-part musical cinema and I would be lying if I said I was not entertained by the infamous dance scenes to occur showcasing how Parker has developed due to the symbiote into an insufferable prick. He never becomes as outright dislikable as Andrew Garfield’s Spidey until the very moment the characters realize something is wrong with him, but he never becomes unwatchable either.

At least, not to me, though I am aware this is a point of hatred for many viewers of Spider-Man 3. Maybe if I didn’t love Raimi’s sense of humor or jazz or musical numbers, this act of clear defiance would make me just as well demand Spider-Man 3‘s execution by firing squad, but I instead admire the idea of keeping the bold color and lighting of Spidey, applying it in a new context, and taking ownership of a movie despite how much the studios wanted to shove in. Some people don’t like lemonade, I guess. I love it.

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Still there are many areas of neglect. The acting is so much more anonymous here whether Kirsten Dunst as Spidey’s girlfriend Mary Jane Watson or Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy in another love triangle plotline within this overstuffed film, but where a superhero movie counts, Spider-Man 3 holds its own more than we give it credit for. Its spectacle – with a fantastic train battle, a sky chase, and a very coherent three-pronged climax – is not slouching, its themes clear and delivered (responsibility, moving on, and restraint), and most of all… it feels like a proper close to a story.

Obviously, that ended up the case when Raimi unsurprisingly walked from Spider-Man 4 and Maguire right after him, but there’s a sense of finality in all of the chickens coming home to roost, the consequences of the actions all over the trilogy making Spider-Man decide on how he was going to develop for the rest of his and Mary Jane’s lives together. And Raimi sells that more than anything, looking back on how Parker, Mary Jane, and Harry’s relationship have been shifted over three different movies, tying the Sandman to Spider’s origin (albeit in a very unforgivable manner that is my biggest problem with the movie), and the final scene’s decision to sit within Peter and MJ silently deciding to face any other problems together (easily the best acting both actors get to do in the whole movie).

Spider-Man 3 is a troubled film, no less so than Suicide Squad or Fantastic Four, but that didn’t turn into on-screen misery for me. It’s still in love with its characters and wants to carry all of them to the finish line, even Venom gets more dignity than he deserves (as much as you can with Grace). It’s a step down from two all-timer superhero classics but the result is interesting and the tying knot of the last few scenes shot in solemn sunrises and spotlight blacks makes me feel it works as a curtain call to some of my favorite comic book character incarnations on the screen. Raimi’s heart is battered and bruised but still beating. I can’t help being more forgiving to that sort of thing.

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Shut Up and Drive

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I’m in exactly the perfect age bracket to be surrounded by the hype and frenzy for Edgar Wright’s latest Ant-Manrebound passion project, the 2017 crime caper comedy Baby Driver. And I can’t say a lot of that acclaim it’s received is entirely undeserved, as a stylistic montage of car chase and foot chase setpieces soundtracked by some of the most body-jiving music you could ask a kid to listen to music older than him for, it is an absolute joy. It’s nothing exactly revelatory from either Wright (given his early Mint Royale’s “Blue Song” video feeling entirely recreated by the opening five minutes) or the car chase subgenre (‘cause y’know Mad Max: Fury Road, John Wick: Chapter Two, The Raid 2, and Nightcrawler literally just came out, y’all), it’s a candy-colored rhythmic distraction that is both fun and exciting as the demands of each scene go, from square on all the way to… well, all the way to close to the end, but well, let’s square with this before this and get the ugly stuff out of the way before I can return to what’s really good about Baby Driver.

I’m surrounded by dozens of calls by peers for it being a masterpiece or one of the best films of the year and I so very much wish I could side with that because I barely like Baby Driver as it is, when it spends most of that nearly two-hour runtime focusing less on the caper side of things and more on our protagonist getaway driver Baby’s (Ansel Elgort) quick courtings with waitress Deborah (Lily James). This is the first film that Wright has written on his own and without any actual source material to go on (I’ve heard the comparisons to The Driver and Drive, but Baby Driver feels so absolutely different than those) and the last two movies without the co-writing partnership Wright had with his previous muse Simon Pegg have been very informative. Wright finds a lot more free reign to play along with visuals and music in those than he kind of got to do with The Cornetto trilogy, but there’s also less believable humanity in those movies (I don’t wanna say heart, because come on, Wright clearly loves making movies) than when Pegg himself was dedicated to crafting and fully-fleshing out these characters, where we could see these characters however weird they are – Nicholas Angel the closest to caricature – living in the real world.

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We get some of that in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World but not as much, we absolutely do not get that in Baby Driver, which is fine since that’s not the point. But it means James has so little material to work with – a brief backstory dump in a Laundromat attached to no real character beyond “likes baby and music” – and try as she might, she’s clearly struggling with having all these reactions coalesce into a compelling romantic lead rather than just in-the-moment acting.

Elgort, on the other hand, holy shit. He’s bad, people. The Divergent series, he was barely noticeable in a sea of vanilla performances. The Fault in Our Stars, he turned an on-paper joke of a character into a smug self-satisfied twerp. And Baby Driver just demands things out of him that he’s absolutely incapable of doing. When he’s first meeting Deborah, the lines coming out of Baby’s mouth are so delicately obtuse (in that self-protected way) that they need somebody who can provide them with sincere uncertainty and instead Elgort recites them with the smirking shallow satisfaction of a serial killer. When the movie gets much darker in its second half and the stakes escalate, Elgort’s idea of toughness is to pout his face as hard as he can and maintain that monotonously like a kid’s impression of Ryan Gosling in Drive. When he shares scenes with Baby’s foster father, he… Well, actually that’s one of the few moments Elgort actually is great, providing a personality that actually seems genuine and fun. I’m gonna be nice and not imply that’s only because he has a stellar scene partner in the one-man-show deaf actor CJ Jones.

Indeed, the supporting cast to those two lovebirds – namely the ones who inhabit Baby’s life of crime that threatens to interrupt his romance – are much better but not by much. Jon Bernthal plays “Douchebag” reliably again but is gone after one scene. Kevin Spacey likewise is inhabiting the kind of sardonic wise guy personality he can do in his sleep, but when the movie demands a fatherly warmth out of his character at the last minute, he has no clue what he’s doing and it’s a tonal whiplash from his preceding coldness. Jamie Foxx is certainly dangerous presence but he’s also replaying the same beats as Motherfucker Jones in Horrible Bosses, so that leaves Eiza Gonzalez and Jon Hamm as the last folks standing as a scene-stealing cocaine Bonnie and Clyde-esque couple and between the two of them, Hamm is the only one that gets enough screentime for us to see a whole person with his own tragic story going on.

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Basically when the movie tries to get a story going on, it’s between weak (the crime side) to DOA (the romance), it doesn’t have the script or cast to support it. But when it gets to being just dances of camera, cuts, and drum beats, Wright has an enviable grip on tone and form that leaves on catching their breath after every chase and resembles a bunch of impromptu music videos with all the joy of that Mint Royale music video. The very opening credits is grooving one-shot stroll that feels light as a Nora Ephron comedy and the “Brighton Rock” finale is just a bone-shaking barrage of impacts that imperils the viewer alongside our hero, central to the film is a bicathlon of foot chases and car chases and gunfights from the busy streets of Atlanta and through a shopping mall and it is the most sophisticated and joyous action work of Wright’s career since Shaun of the Dead’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” and a clear sign that Wright belongs in this atmosphere of popcorn movie homages, mixing its musical cues so wonderfully with the roar and squeals of the pursuits that the marriage feels natural and just sinks into the whole experience.

These are aesthetics that demands to be seen in a big screen with a big sound system in all the biggest senses and if it gets interrupted by a watery plot that’s hard to feel emotionally attached with, I can’t help shrugging that off. I’m very clearly in the minority on that script matter anyway so if you’re like the rest of the world, you won’t even need to shrug it off. You can very well leave Baby Driver with a bigger smile on your face than I did.

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Spider vs. Octopus

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Let’s go back, boys and girls, to a time before 2008 when The Dark Knight nuked the whole cinematic world into a frenzy and remember the last time a comic book movie was close (but not that close) to being as widely acclaimed as the Nolan Batman films. Just four years prior, right on the first rise of the superhero waves, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 came out and had honest-to-God film critics proclaiming it as the second coming of popcorn movie Jesus, most notably when Roger Ebert (who had given the first Spider-Man an unenthusiastic “ok”*) titled it to be the Best Superhero Movie since Superman.

When I saw Spider-Man 2 a little later than the rest of the civilized world in July 2004, I was in Algeria and isolated from all of that noisy celebration. And my response to it was… I didn’t like it. This has changed significantly over the years to which I hold it close, but slightly under its predecessor in my esteem, but when I remember the reasons I wasn’t fond of it, I’m not sure I’m entirely ready to dismiss 12-year-old me’s thoughts. The biggest one, as he’d ineloquently put it, is that it doesn’t have much action.

As I am now, I’d deviate a bit and say that Spider-Man 2 just doesn’t have that much energy. It still feels like Raimi is happy to return to the web-slinging superhero and help him grow like he’s Richard Linklater and the films are his personal Before trilogy. Spider-Man 2’s script (now by Alvin Sargent) is a lot more grounded in the human drama, expanding beyond the points in which its characters had been left off – namely Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) totally alone of his own volition and his regret for taking up this responsibility so overwhelming that he’s apparently losing his web-slinging and wall-crawling powers alongside his will, struggling actress Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) tired of waiting for Peter’s call and making decisions on her own terms, and boiling “friend” Harry Osborn (James Franco) who obsesses over revenge against Spider-Man for killing his father Norman (Willem Dafoe) just as their strained relationship was beginning to heal, unaware that Norman was Spider-Man’s foe, the Green Goblin. And that grounding means the excitement is gone, the drama has a lot more stakes, though this also turns the cast in on giving fuller performances than they already gave in the original.

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This lack of pizzaz is also reflected in the new cinematographer Bill Pope and his attempt to reel back from the original’s comic book color to providing New York City as a working town backdrop to Peter and Mary Jane trying to figure out where they stand in their relationship.

Spidey’s new foe this time around is also anguishing over the death of a loved one, Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), seeing red for his wife’s sudden death during an accident gone wrong that left him under influence of his four metal A.I. tentacles** that earn him the nomiker Doctor Octopus, Octavius begins rampaging his way through Manhattan in movie monster sequences (including his awakening after the accident) of big sound and effortlessly breakable sets. Molina doesn’t have half the dizzying frenzy Dafoe had in his round (and that seems a casualty of the effect giving him that tragic background preventing Molina from playing him as a monster entirely like he clearly wants to), but he compliments the movie’s balance between soap opera drama and gigantic creature feature nicely, working so well with his co-star effects in the tentacles (puppets provided by Edge FX) to feel physically one with them.

He’s also the best thing the movie’s sudden adoption turned to anamorphic aspect ratio, filling out the screen real nicely with the width and length of his evil robotic claws. Raimi and Pope aren’t 100% sure what to with it when Molina isn’t eating up space, but every once in a while we get some really inspired moments like the unstoppable train being rescued by Spidey’s might and his exhaustion visually portrayed by his stance (though the idea of all these people knowing Spider-Man’s face REALLY put me off as a kid and I still think the Christ imagery is pushing it more than any scene of New Yorkers throwing trash at the Goblin). Or of course the comic book image of Parker walking away from an alley with his Spider-Man costume in the foreground and in the trash.

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The concept of Raimi and Pope’s visuals being able to compliment both the action and themes of the film is an aesthetical bilingualism that polishes Spider-Man 2 as possibly the most mature work in Raimi’s whole output, which again turns back to all of the dialing down Raimi-esque silliness (it’s there in teaspoons: Hal Sparks and Joel McHale both have comic cameos – Sparks’ more farcical in the slightly extended and slightly inferior Spider-Man 2.5 cut, as well as the addition of J.K. Simmons hopping around his office in Spidey’s discarded outfit, and my single favorite bit of acting in Maguire’s turn as the character giving a passenger on the doomed train who’s criticizing his efforts a great big “are you fucking kidding me?” look). But the tonal groundings gives more breathing space for Dunst, Franco, and Rosemary Harris as Aunt May to get to shade out their characters’ internal conflicts and have their little subplots feel just as important as the superheroics. Maguire himself meets up with most of the emotional arcs and stakes of the film, but seems to put up more of an effort than he should have to in this film, which only makes me turn once again to preferring Spider-Man.

At the end of it all, though, Raimi’s still having a ball of a time. The horror movie awakening of Doctor Octopus, the grandiose battle between Ock and Spidey on the Clock Tower followed by the train battle and rescue, these are all inarguably more interesting setpieces than any of the fights in the first movie, full of velocity and impact and having many open windows for the CGI Spidey to strike comic book poses like the final shot of the original film. The melodrama feels genuine and sincere, somehow having a few layers too many but propped up by a cast willing to justify all of them. And the saga of Spider-Man himself growing from outsider to big time hero continues to evolve thanks to Raimi’s sense of pace and utter love for the material he gets to hash out.

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*Indeed, this “meh” attitude to Spider-Man was literally my first encounter with a review by Ebert and given I was a child who loved that movie, it got us started on the wrong foot.
**Shout out to D.M., whose criticism of the film comes down to “1. How the fuck are people more impressed by this failing sun project than the invention of functioning, personality-full Artificial Intelligence? and 2. Why the fuck are they automatically evil robots who want to rob banks?” If anybody would ever come close to murdering my enjoyment of this movie, it’d definitely be you.
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Does Whatever a Spider Can

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I think I already went over in the X-Men review about Spider-Man’s placement in movie history blew the doors hella wide open for comic book movies to saturate the market, so let me open instead with my personal anecdote to break open some nostalgia.

The night of 11 May 2002, I recall clearly. My mom had brought my 9-year-old self and my siblings to the only 2-year-old shopping mall next to my elementary school and when our paths crossed the box office of the then spanking-new AMC multiplex and I saw a very very late 11 pm showtime for already week-old release of Sam Raimi’s superhero adaptation Spider-Man, based on one of my favorite superheroes of all time*. It had already been a hard week because despite my excitement for the film, I haven’t been able to watch it this long. All the showtimes were sold out and all my peers in school were able to watch it.

So on the spot, I convince my annoyed mom to take that late showtime opportunity for me to finally watch a movie I was anticipating way too hard.

Shortly after I left the theater, Spider-Man was the first experience I’ve had where I consciously had a favorite movie of all time. And while, some of the 15-year-age has knocked the dust off of it from being my idea of a perfect movie, it’s one of the few favorites of my childhood where I don’t look back and think “what the hell was I on?” On maybe a better day, I could imagine it having made the lower end of my favorite movies post.

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So, if you’re expecting me to have a problem with Tobey Maguire’s portrayal as Spider-Man like the rest of the world inexplicably does, no, I’m sorry. He may not be much of an actor in his doughey pushover look and his soft-spoken two-steps-away from crying demeanor, but it’s perfect for a role like Peter Parker, a tired kid on a learning curve in the real world who has too much piling on top of him and can only hold on to his morality. Maguire doesn’t even have to try to act – this is Keanu Reeves in John Wick kind of perfect casting for a limited actor***. When he smiles, you still feel there’s something wrong in the back of his mind (or Spider Sense), when he tries to win over something that’s not a supervillain battle, you get the vibe he’s going to lose because he looks like he knows he’ll lose. It’s miraculously undepressing (Maguire sells both his casual underplayed scientific brilliance and his ability to inspire Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson no matter how low they both find themselves), just really clear this kid is overwhelmed by the stuff life is throwing at him.

It would be with such growing pains writer David Koepp throws as the Queens-based hero finds himself quickly graduated from high school within the first hour (as would have to be, Maguire was 26 at the time of filming) and living with his best friend Harry Osborn (James Franco), son of scientist Norman (Willem Dafoe). Peter is still helping his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) deal with the murder of his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson), the man who inspired Peter to don his costume as Spider-Man with the immortal words “With great power comes great responsibility” after being bitten by a radioactive spider in Columbia University’s lab causing him to sling organic webbing, climb up walls, and become physically enhanced in strength, speed, and all of the above except still looking like Tobey Maguire. Meanwhile, Norman himself has his own secret performance enhancers causing him to go so crazy he dresses up as a Power Rangers villain and goes on a bloodthirsty vendetta against his corporate competitors under the name of Green Goblin.

A lot of tangled web strands for the story and I think it’s kind of impressive that Koepp and director Raimi are able to streamline this into one great big arc of Parker’s growth as a responsible young adult while finding time to insert in super battles in the skies of Manhattan, all of them with that huge in-your-face comic punch that Raimi had supplied in spades with his Evil Dead trilogy. Here, he, cinematographer Don Burgess, and composer Danny Elfman supply air-y enthusiasm to all of Spidey’s web-slinging (most notably in the final shot – some of the effects aged poorly, but that scene alone still dazzles and entertains me even up to the Matrix in-joke) and jazz up the energy to match with Dafoe’s expected mania at being able to embody such a cackling monster, even under the gaudy design of his robotic suit. Raimi’s the kind of filmmaker that clearly makes them for the love of being silly and young again and having the context of a comic book property to let his fannishness translate to pulp popcorn cinema is the best thing. He even gets a chance to play up his horror roots with Dafoe’s self-confrontations in the mirror, two jump scares, and a climax in a dark and damp ruins (of an abandoned mental institute, Peter David’s novelization informed me because of course I was so excited I bought it) where the action gets really violent against the earlier tones of episodic thwarting in bold colors and mirrors.

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Now, the other big complaint I hear is that the movie is too corny or sappy because of Raimi’s eager beaver tones. Just recently, I heard somebody claim that Spider-Man had “too much heart”. Now, what a surprise from somebody like me who swears by Spielberg, but I think “too much heart” is precisely the best kind of problem to have for any work of art. If Spider-Man wants to include post-9/11 portrayals of unity and solidarity of New York helping out Spidey, why should I complain about the positive energy of these moments? Or the human honesty in having the first lines Harris and Robertson deliver just being the coziest possible deliveries of “Don’t fall on your ass” and “I’m already on my ass”?

Raimi’s Spider-Man may be sloppy in a sense from all those tangeants – I barely got through J.K. Simmons ripping Spider-Man’s newspaper boss J. Jonah Jameson right out of the comic panels or the love triangle between Peter, Mary Jane, and Harry – but it’s sincere in all of that sloppiness and that’s always the easiest way to make me fall in love with your movie. Raimi’s just as bold about his human melodrama as he is about his superhero splashes and he has a very incredible cast to help him out, including two actors I normally despise (Robertson and Franco; I had this attitude about Dunst but she’s been impressing me more and more) turning in understated and casual enough performances that when they actually have to sell their big moments like Uncle Ben’s death** (including one of my favorite silence cues in all of film music) and Harry’s feeling of betrayal towards Peter and Mary Jane’s closeness, finding out I’ve actually been fond of these people and hate seeing them go is like having the rug pulled out from under me.

That’s to say nothing of Dunst as Mary Jane, pretty enough to understand exactly why Peter’s affections are fixated on her, weathered enough to understand she has her own life and problems beyond Peter’s perspective (and Koepp’s script is VERY generous to her on this front), and charged enough as a presence to sell that iconic upside-down kiss moment that immediately became a part of film canon like nobody’s business. Her and Maguire make terrific foils and watching their relationship grow (and especially to the script’s credit, not meeting our expectations) is a warm and comforting thing you wouldn’t expect from the same movie where Willem Dafoe has a great big green plastic suit wobbling his head wildly saying “Hello, my dear”.

The main point is Spider-Man is one of the best examples in my mind of letting people make movies because they really want to make this particular movie. There’s not a single frame of this where it doesn’t feel Raimi is over the moon with what he gets to do with all that Sony money and in an industry right now where comic book films almost uniformly feel more like obligations rather than any real sense of personality, Spider-Man‘s exhuberance at presenting the character kicking and swinging over the city never ceases to endear me.

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*In fact, around 2002, Ultimate Spider-Man began its run – those first few stories still hold up – and rejuvenated my love for Spidey.
**And flat out fuck people who make fun of Maguire’s crying. I’m sorry, is it supposed to be photogenic? These folks ain’t worth talking to.
***And we will definitely discuss Maguire’s limitations when it comes to Spider-Man 3.
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Why Don’t I Strap on My Job Helmet and Squeeze Down into a Job Cannon and Fire Off into Job Land, Where Jobs Grow on Jobbies?

“Man, I wish I could be James Bond?”

“Why? He’s a political assassin.”

“Yeah, but he gets all the girls.”

-Conversation I overheard in Grade School around the release of Die Another Day

I’ve been wanting to make this list for months, spurred by my return to the job-hunting market earlier this year, but of course, that’s the thing about job-hunting: you don’t have time for other things. Y’know, assuming you have things to pay for like school and stuff. Anyway, thinking about this has made it a lot more fun than anxiety-inducing and now that I have time to post it, I present:

Ten Movies That Made Me Want the Job In It

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10. Best in Show (2000) – Dog Show Anything

Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries always have a ball of a time making any niche yet adorable field look like a clusterfuck, but Best in Show is the only one that made me think beyond my laughing at the characters’ stresses that the dogs do end up looking purdy and adorable beyond the effort and who wouldn’t want a job surrounded by all these doggos? So gimme any position, poodle fluffer, commentator, manicurist, dog washer, dog walker, I’ll do it all, just lemme be ’round those doggies.

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9. Jurassic Park (1993) – Chaotician

Did I even know what the hell a chaotician did when I was kid watching Spielberg’s famous dinosaur picture? Hell nah. But Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm made it look no different than being a goddamn rock star and his ability to know ahead of time how doomed the whole thing was but still be so cool and collected with made me wonder what was his secret. Then I realized it wasn’t that he was a chaotician… it was that he was a DIVORCED chaotician.

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8. The Indiana Jones franchise (1982-2008) – Archaeologist

I mean, yeah, obviously as a kid I was into all of the globe-trotting adventure that’s very clearly not archaeology, but then it interested me into the intellectual and cultural aspect of it and it opened a lot of doors into its applications in world history and then I was bad at AP World History in high school and that was the death of a dream.

But hey, at least now I know it ain’t that cool.

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7. The Paper Brigade (1996) – Paperboy

Obviously this one could ONLY apply to me as a kid, but it seemed like the easiest job in the world, even despite how overexaggerated the problems of Gunther’s adolescent life seemed to be accentuated by his route. But there’s no such thing as a PTSD-suffering Freddy Krueger, so there’s really nothing to worry about taking in fresh air, having your morning exercise, and learning how to throw a newspaper like a baseball in a peaceful quiet suburb.

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6. Empire Records (1995) – Music Store Employee

Ahhh… now here’s another one that could only apply to a certain age (I’m just turned 25 and still think I’m far too old to work in a record store at this point). Like anybody else who saw Empire Records at their teenage life, it made a good ol’ impression on me (one that sadly faded as I turned into my 20s) and it might have resulted in a over romanticization in surrounding myself in a big ol’ building full of music and having the liberty to mess around with it rather than actually help out my customers or musical guest.

I’m sure it’s not that cool. Please don’t let it be that cool and have me realize I missed out.

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5. Ratatouille (2007) – Chef

I mean, come on, we can’t ALLLLL be Remy, but there’s something inspiring about how he does what he does. Ratatouille is essentially an ode to all of art, but having cooking be at the very forefront of that art means being visually more inclined to the art we’re witnessing in that context. And man, that stuff looks good. At the very least, I’d want to personally able to make that food for myself.

I sigh as I realize I burned my buttered toast.

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4. Magic Mike XXL (2015) – Male Stripper

Note I specifically pointed out XXL and not, y’know, the original despite my loving Magic Mike more than its sequel. But the first Mike is a sobering portrayal of the economic atmosphere and makes the act feel like hard work. XXL doesn’t dismiss it (I mean, these characters will essentially be broke shortly after the movie – the movie opens with all of their unceremonious ejection from their livelihood with no direction to go), and yet it’s so carefree and eager to turn itself into a celebration of the job nevertheless, full of life and energy and party feelings. Plus, as much as objectification like that might seem shallow, wouldn’t it also kind of make you feel comfortable? At least, I’d be comfortable with myself being objectified that way. Or I would be if I knew how to dance.

Graffiti Pete got a #popstar look. #IntheHeights this weekend.

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3. All the President’s Men (1976) – Journalist

When Spotlight looks much less glamorous and like more hard work than your film, that says something. I mean, I like a lot of hard work and I like putting a lot of investment in things and I like research, but I especially seeing the fruits of that labor (something Spotlight implied there’s always threat of it never coming to fruition without being so very ominous about it). All the President’s Men made its workers look once again like rock stars (most of it Carl Bernstein changing up the script to make himself look cool), but it also has a since of working-collar long and heavy nights changing the world just by typing kind of sense and there’s a real excitement to what Bernstein and Bob Woodward are doing that Spotlight can’t supply in all its sobriety.

Man, this really came across more as why Spotlight isn’t in this list than why All the President’s Men is.

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2. Apollo 13 (1995) – Astronaut

I know it’s crazy as hell to imagine the movie where everything that could go wrong in that sector went horribly wrong and threatened to take the lives of those men, but the thing is… they survived. And they made it. And what was kind of a failure ended up one of the biggest success stories because of Jim Lovell and Gene Kranz’s ingenuity and problem solving and that sort of intellectual accomplishment while being able to reach the cosmos is… it’s something I’d love to find inside of me. Exploration on top of being able to take care of myself.

It also involves maths which is perfect for me.

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  1. Batman Begins (2005) – Batman

I mean, always be Batman. That’s just a law of life. Especially when Batman does the most Batman-y things in this movie: actually investigates, saves the whole city, kicks some ninjas. It seems like a cool gig.

I mean, is this a cheat? Because I almost put Godzilla and James Bond as potential jobs too.

BONUSES:

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Spider-Man (2002) – Photographer

Sure, it’s gig-based and Parker’s literally struggling financially, but it’s only two steps away from filmmaker and it’s something that gets him into places. Except I work there and it’s more stressful than I’d imagine.

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The Fast and the Furious (2001) – Mechanic Specifically Looking Like Vin Diesel

Every time I gotta work on my car some more (because I’m too broke to bother getting help) in hopes that I’m doing everything right, I end up wishing I was Vin Diesel. Or James Hetfield. Or somebody else.

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Fireworks Under Your Ass

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So, first things first to financially doom the imminent sequel of Independence Day – 20 years passed between its release and its sequel. Not only is 20 years enough for everyone to forget or dismiss the staple of any effects extravaganza (I like to hope most of the movie-watching world looked back and gave it a “OK, it’s junk food at best, but not a good movie” attitude), it’s also enough time for director/co-writer Roland Emmerich and producer/co-writer Dean Devlin – by then having broken up for a bit before returning in 2016 for the production of this sequel – to lose all the possible goodwill they’ve gained from their earlier hits. Emmerich did not have a single positive critical reception to his films since the mild admiration of The Patriot and not a commercial one either since 2012 (in particular, he was coming out of the huge battering of controversy Stonewall received). Devlin himself didn’t have an commercial hits since their break-up either and apparently the crash of Flyboys burned him enough to not produce movies for a whole decade. So, I can understand why Emmerich and Devlin wanted to go back to the good ol’ days of when they made the biggest movie of the year, but I can’t imagine how they didn’t figure themselves so forgotten as a household name that it would fall on its face. And this is while forgiving how utterly lackluster 2016 was a movie summer.

Although, to be fair to Independence Day: Resurgence, it puts that passage of time to almost ingenious use.

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It IS 20 years later. 2016, it tries to claim with the term “War of 1996” to describe the events of the original and the mathematical disarray that causes irks the hell outta me, but I’ll allow it. And it teases, for a brief snippet of its runtime, to be a sort of speculative science fiction picture – 2016 in the world where we fought and beat the aliens is a utopia for the Western world (there’s clearly a fear towards Africa for the sudden warlord atmosphere post-invasion). We’ve harvested the alien technology from our invaders and applied to our own infrastructure and livelihood that it gives us flying ships and bigger damner buildings and stations on the moon and Saturn and WORLD PEACE (still ignoring the fact that Africa has had to literally fight off the aliens tooth and nail up to this point in the film). The potential social and scientific complexities of this premise are endless and would have been interesting to see if it were that kind of film.

Independence Day: Resurgence is not that kind of film*. It’s the kind of film where instead we watch Asia get literally scraped the fuck off the crust of the Earth and landed on Europe like a good ol’ ham sandwich. The complications come instead from trying to conflate the return of our invaders with a new race of species we hadn’t known and the global ramifications of it.

For it turns out, there are more of those violent invaders on their way with a much bigger ship, but the United Nations of the World used up all their good firepower on the most peaceful looking Heart of Gold-looking A.I. ever and so are helpless when the gigantic mothership shows up and causes heavy destruction to Earth (but not enough to destroy somehow, thanks be to their mercy!) while extinguishing both their Saturn station (off-screen) and their nice ol’ moon station. Unfortunately, even if you try to arbitrarily make it bigger than before, doing the same thing twice just knocks off the luster from your former work and makes it look embarrassing.

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So, no, while it’s all fine CGI spectacle with no mind towards physics whatsoever, it’s not as awe-inspiring as it was back when Emmerich and Devlin were trying to show Spielberg how it was done back in ’96 and since that’s the only thing the original Independence Day had going for it, you can expect not that much more for Resurgence to offer. Though it tries, oh lord it tries.

It tries to promise once again more compelling human drama (even though the last film had none of that) in the form of its gigantic cast of stereotypes and non-entities, but of course there’s no Will Smith. Obviously, there’s no Will Smith. He and Mae Whitman (who was atrociously ignored) dodged a damn bullet with not coming back. Returning is Bill Pullman now letting his stunted delivery be a trait to his ex-President Whitmore’s trauma, Jeff Goldblum still around with whatever knowing irony he can add to his role (yet clearly tired at having to do this again), Judd Hirsch as his “needs to be anywhere else” father, Brent Spiner back from the dead in desperation for familiar faces. And then there’s the new guys, most of them deserving better (namely Maika Monroe, going from It Follows and The Guest to replacing Whitman as the First Daughter, and Charlotte “Daughter of One of the Greatest Songwriters Ever and I’m the Only Woman Willing to Work with Lars von Trier More Than Once” Gainsbourg) and Liam Hemsworth absolutely deserving everything he gets for playing our replacement for Smith’s Captain Hiller – Jake Morrison, a hotshot pilot who’s so hot shit he nearly kills Hiller’s pilot son Dylan (Jessie Usher) in a test flight but we’re supposed to like his entitled cockiness because he’s an orphan.

I will give Resurgence this, its action and destruction porn sequences are not at all broken. This is Michael Bay incoherence here, we clearly know the objective of each dogfight and each battle have no trouble following along the slightly entertaining climax (which feels like Emmerich trying to re-do his terrible Godzilla film and get something decent out of it), so thanks be to editor Adam Wolfe for bringing some kind of adequacy to the film. But it’s not enough when the second verse is less than the first and I’m not gonna pretend that even coming in with low expectations didn’t prevent this from being a disastrous disappointment.

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* But, of course, Starship Troopers IS that kind of film in a sense, so I guess go watch that movie instead of this one.
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Shoot ‘Em Up

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If you haven’t seen Gareth Evans’ Indonesian The Raid movies, there’s a very blatant distinction between the two parts in the duology. Of course, they’re both action films set with the same lead cop (the talented Iko Uwais) battling down gangs in awe-inspiring physicality, but one of them – the 150 minute Raid 2 – very clearly has an emphasis and investment on character development (particularly a gangster family drama interwoven between the fight scenes) that the other one – the 101 minute The Raid – does not (this one is 99% action setpieces). The story about why that is will be for another time some day when I review the Raid films, as I only bring this up to note a parallel status with the John Wick movies, a vehicle franchise for the very dedicated Keanu Reeves focusing on a similar ballet of bodies involving gunfights and bullets. I would wonder if this change is on account of co-director David Leitch’s absence from the sequel (going on to direct Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2), but then both films still have director Chad Stahelski and screenwriter Derek Kolstad involved.

I would happen to recommend that you immediately get to watching the Raid and John Wick movies if you haven’t for they are the quintessential 2010s action movies in my eyes.

Anyway, to focus on our subject John Wick: Chapter Two, one wonders briefly if this series’ neglect on the mindset of our titular assassin would be as a result of its doubling down on visual aesthetic and world-building, which it does in spades. As the first movie is no less gorgeous but still stripped down and focused on John’s path of vengeance without intention at expanding the huge world of underground assassins that it establishes but only portrays peripheral to John’s perspective. Its aesthetic lives in its deliberately limited storytelling, which also resulted in a much more emotional film than Chapter Two. Chapter Two is certainly not an emotional movie.

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It is, however, a wide epic now, expanding its scope from New York City to Rome and back as Wick (Reeves) is forced by the smug crime lord Santino D’Antonio (the effortlessly heel-like Riccardo Scamarcio, who I shortly after witnessed in season 2 of Master of None and realized he’s great at playing douchebags like an Italian Jon Bernthal) via the blood oath that helped Wick ensure his retirement, to kill Santino’s sister Gianna (Claudia Gerini). Absolutely no one is surprised when Santino betrays John and sends Wick on the run, not only from his mute bodyguard Ares (Ruby Rose, who is having a good action movie year with that, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, and XXX: Return of Xander Cage – I haven’t seen one of these, but I’m going out on a limb guessing this is her best performance of the three just from how expressive it is for such a small part) and Gianna’s own very personal bodyguard Cassian (Common in a more overt vengeful attitude than Reeves in the previous film), but from all the Assassins in the world. Santino’s arrangement of a 7 million dollar hit on Wick’s head forces the man’s desperation, hiding, and appeal for aid from the homeless Bowery King (kind of spoiled in the trailers, but I’ve seen enough reviews hold back on the actors’ identity to do similar. All I will say is the actor in question gave me a HUUUUUUUGE Orson Welles vibe which made it all the better to me).

Anyway, John Wick vs. The World, basically. The opportunities are endless and Stahelski goes crazy providing several different glorious setpiece designs for Reeves to grunt and sweat his way through, none of them as great as the central scene of John Wick (that club gun battle. Don’t night clubs make the best shooting ranges?) and all of them absolutely novel– here’s a car chase through the mirrored streets of New York, here’s Reeves and Common having a bit of slapstick comedy throwing each other down flights of stairs, here’s a throwback to the famous “with a FUCKING PENCIL!” line (with a foreshadow at the beginning by a cameoing Peter Stormare), here’s a shooting duck gallery in the subway station, here’s a chase/gun battle through a hall of mirrors – and shot by Dan Laustsen in high gloss that makes every fast motion and swipe smooth as baby Jesus’ bottom and edited by Evan Schiff with continuity and impact.

And that’s when they’re in the nocturnal lights of New York City, for the film somehow has a different visual language towards its European setting and gives an aristocratic art cinema sense of pace and style. From the elegant manner of weapon selection, to the underground historic catacombs, right down to briefly replacing Ian McShane as “Zeus”, the way Movies with Mikey called him oh so perfectly, with Franco Nero as “Italian Zeus”. Which possibly helps me enjoy John Wick more, the versatility in distinguishing only two cultures it feels like cheating into globe-trotting. The real expansion comes to the Assassins’ mythology now that we have not only our returning cast like John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, and David Patrick Kelly, but a real sense of stories outside of Wick’s point of view like Cassian’s and The Bowery King’s that only unluckily intertwine with Wick’s and a sense of consequence to their laws by the perfect note Chapter 2 chooses to end on, which only serves more promise for the inevitable third installment. I’ll welcome it eagerly, I only want to see more of this playground Stahelski has set Reeves’ unstoppable badass in, even if the bar is set already much too high by this chapter.

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Welcome to Earth

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While I quickly shook off remotely liking most of his movies, including our current subject, I would be a fool not to admit that director/writer Roland Emmerich gets us Americans. He knows what we want, him and his frequent producing/co-writing partner Dean Devlin. At least they did back in the 1990s at the height of their career*, delivering to us constant barrages of modern-day Jack Arnold effects with overbloated badly strained Irwin Allen disaster film storytelling, like the first American production of Godzilla, all of which probably wouldn’t be possible without the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park blowing the gates wide open for audiences to be lured in on the promise of that good ol’ great big money effects shot and we all know what shot 1996’s Independence Day was sold on. We know damn well what it is. Go on, picture it:

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Even if you weren’t even alive in 1996 (I was 3-4 years old in the time between the first teaser in Super Bowl XXX to the film’s eventual Oscar win for Best Visual Effects and still vividly recall the mania that was happening around the movie’s release), there’s no possible way that sensationalist image of a flying saucer the size of Texas completely decimating the residence of the Leader of the Free World in a fiery ball. Of course THAT would be the main image in which the biggest effects extravaganza in the year of effects extravaganzas (Twister, The Rock, Mission: Impossible, and The Nutty Professor all ranked among the top-ten highest grossing films of the year and Independence Day almost doubled the take of second-place Twister Dragonheart and Mars Attacks! also inhabited cinema at the time), something that could only possibly be gotten away with in a pre-9/11 world and a lot of Emmerich’s subsequent career clearly wants to echo that shot in a pale manner – Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and especially Independence Day: Resurgence – but you just can’t imitate the cojones it takes for such a heated political season as the Clinton administration and make it a bold messy catharsis of destruction like that. Holy shit.

And honest to God, the effects in Independence Day earned the hell out of that Oscar. Central in the film is a showpiece sequence where we witness three alien invader ships on the 2nd of July (the year is not specified but it absolutely does not take place in 1996) demolishing New York City, Los Angeles, and of course Washington D.C. all in one fell swoop with all the possible flamings and sounds and crushing models you’d want to put if you wanted your popcorn movie to stand up against the likes of Star Wars. Now it’s absolutely obvious Star Wars was on Emmerich and Devlin’s mind because beyond that one great scene, there are assorted alien vs. human dogfights with all the Star Wars lifts you could possibly want, not least of which being the climactic chase on the great big alien mothership shortly after one of the most notoriously contrived solutions to the unstoppable power of the dark Gibson-esque designs of the mothership interiors. But they’re good effects, Brent, save for occasional bad compositing (most notoriously a dog’s daring escape from immolation). That Oscar was earned.

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Now that I got the incredible effects out of the way, we need to shovel the shit: Independence Day is still a modern day Irwin Allen, like I said before, and that means we’ve got a story that draws hella over 145 minutes with too many cooks of characters and only three of them truly compelling. And by three of them, I mean like… 1 and a half, I’m not sure people enjoy Jeff Goldblum Goldblumming his way through saving the world via a laptop as MIT graduate David Levinson for anything but his novelty as a presence (almost certainly earned from his much more invested performance in Jurassic Park). While Bill Pullman as President Thomas Whitmore is half-asleep like he’s mostly been to me (he makes the world’s least threatening serial killer in Torchwood) and gets mileage based on his “Today is the Day We Celebrate Our Independence” Rah-Rah Speech that I’ve never entirely been fond of but understand the rise it brings in patriotism. Will Smith as Air Marine Captain Steven Hiller however has found his footing as a charismatic action movie star right here in all of his frustrations with having his holiday ruined and turning it into popcorn cynicism. And right there you get the most 1990s stars you can get, heading a cast of overall forgettable filler material that outstays its welcome in attempting to be human stories with the most anonymous stereotypes you could imagine (Brent Spiner – an actor I knew by heart at age 4 from watching Star Trek: The Next Generation – was unrecognizable to me at first watch). Most of these characters just sit and talk themselves all through the show, even in the waiting game finale of Hiller and Levinson sitting in the ship essentially hostage.

Still BIG runtime, BIG explosions, BIG cast, BIG movie. Most of it useless? No problem.

Like I said at the beginning, Emmerich and Devlin knew what Americans wanted in 1996 and gave a hell of a movie to celebrate the overglut of all things American (I know Emmerich was born in Germany, but come on, if I can consider myself American why can’t he?), which is probably why Independence Day remains a fixture of movie history. They also damn well knew we didn’t really want a good movie, so there we are with Independence Day. Let’s go celebrate, dammit, no matter what kind of slog we got. It’s a big damn thing.

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*Although given Anonymous’ Alex Jones-esque conspiracy attitude and Stonewall’s disgusting erasure of trans and colored figures in a historical moment for them implies Emmerich ESPECIALLY knows what right-wing America wants, even if the box office performance of them implies otherwise.
2

Girl, You’ll Be a Wonder Woman Soon…

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Let me begin first by saying that it feels so very great to have my faith in the DC Extended Universe’s ambition (something that wasn’t always there – many will testify to how certain I was that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice would turn out to be the worst movie of the decade, but lo and behold it hit me in the right spots) now that Wonder Woman is the first unambiguous critical hit of the franchise and right at the point where it needed that boost most. That it turns out to be a great movie is just the cherry on top.

So, it’s kind of tough to try to square away what makes Wonder Woman stand out so far from the rest of 2010s comic book movies that makes it possibly my favorite out of the bunch. It’s not a particularly unique film in any regard, especially since so much of its aesthetic and setting seems to be the World War I analogue to Captain America: The First Avenger (a movie that would put a valiant fight for the spot Wonder Woman just stole). It’s not a movie that reinvents the wheel by any angle, so I guess the idea is that it just does it… better? Patty Jenkins as a director keeps her eye so many of the genre’s strengths and sticks to the name of the game – iconic moments, charismatic heroes, memorable theme music, a sense of tone and theme – and… like, maybe, one of its weaknesses. It’s a big damn weakness, the final “battle around a beam of light” CGI rampage that is so very much a bane of the genre. But even that moment has its silver lining: a surprisingly colorful villainous turn by an actor who already knows how to provide robust villain turns.

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Anyway, before we reach that stretch, we have some efficient standalone non-universe-building breath of fresh air storytelling by Allan Heinberg: Diana (Gal Gadot) is the princess of the hidden island Themyscira, where Amazonian women train in anticipation of the banished God of War, Ares. When Allied spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on Themyscira in chase from German forces, the devastating firepower they bring and the sobering description Trevor has on the Great War’s severity convinces Diana that Ares himself has landed on Earth. Defying the orders of her Queen and Mother, Diana journeys with Trevor back to Europe to find a way to definitively end war, finding herself on the front lines of one of the most devastating events in world history.

Being set in World War I promises that Wonder Woman will not end up abandoning the solemnity from Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman and indeed once Jenkins leaves the gorgeous mountain and beaches landscape of Themyscira filled with sun gold, forest green, and sea blue, we are suddenly pulled into the dying ember greys of the trenches, suffocated by dust and smoke with an amount of grounded dimension that never undercuts the suffering of the soldiers or the Belgian residents whose lands are being destroyed by warfare. In fact, just prior to the famous “No Man’s Land” scene that incorporated itself in superhero movie canon just as instantly as the Upside Down kiss from Spider-Man, we’re witnessing a long rush through a miserable trench watching the casualties and destruction with the sound of warfare afar and it builds us up parallel to Diana’s resolve before she reveals her costume and steps right into the war zone herself.

And yet it’s not a miserable film. One that treats the war seriously but it searches for inspiration within the ruins. It’s exactly the sort of popcorn movie sensibility you would not expect from somebody who made a movie about the depressing tale of Aileen Wuornos but all of the careful treatment of the subject matter you would. Jenkins treats this delicate subject with such awareness that the “promise of ending war” can come to a human and satisfying but indefinite conclusion, like the Watchmen conclusion without any nihilism attached.

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Still POPCORN MOVIE FUN! That “No Man’s Land” first appearance of full-costume Wonder Woman happens halfway through the movie and yet it’s oh too breezy for us to notice the time has passed (I mean spending half your time in the Mediterranean Coast will do that). Gadot and Pine are incredible together with chemistry for days, even beyond the benefit of their individual performances (and surrounded by just as bouncy supporting actors – I’m most happy to see Said Taghmaoui in a Hollywood film and delivering a humane and forgiving monologue on the fear of war). I don’t know what happened between 2016’s Hell or High WaterStar Trek Beyond, and this, but Chris Pine has been imbuing more sincerity into his performances and it works wonders especially within his third act developments, giving his statements and actions more humanity. As for Wonder Woman herself, the naive female outsider trope is tiresome but Gadot turns it endearing and transforms Diana’s discovery of the world outside of her land into daring and confidence that makes Diana such a pillar of charisma, defying officials and attempting to illustrate the simplicity of solutions.

Sometimes, solutions ARE that simple. Wonder Woman isn’t trying to build a universe (beyond its bookend scenes that surprisingly don’t seem divorced from the film, though it ends on a notably confusing shot), it’s not trying to make a deep comment beyond “war is bad”, it’s just attempting to provide a watchable and weighty superhero movie experience. And beyond a dependency on slow-motion and a Dragonball Z mess of a final battle that’s expected anyway of the genre, Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, and company have given a superhero work so enjoyable that it alone allows it to be distinguished amongst the rest of the decade’s lineup.

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25 for 25 – Epilogue

“I’m frequently asked why I don’t write my memoirs. I think I have.” -Pauline Kael

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Whelp, I did it. 25 reviews in 25 days of 25 movies I think had a hand in the development of my lifelong cinephilia in order to celebrate my 25th birthday on the 25th day of June. I want to thank everyone whose been following this blog and the few who have supported it via Patreon for your very support in this blog’s continuation. Y’all keep this kicking and it’ll still keep on kicking (in fact my eye is between the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Transformers series, or the Pixar output for the next series but those are all painful daunting tasks, it seems).

For the sake of easy access, here is the complete list of reviews for the series. Read on and enjoy and thank you guys again! Keep the reel rolling.

  1. Night of the Living Dead
  2. Seven Samurai
  3. Close-Up
  4. Miami Connection
  5. The Dark Knight
  6. Oldboy
  7. Vertigo
  8. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
  9. The Passion of Joan of Arc
  10. Duck Soup
  11. Repo Man
  12. Stop Making Sense
  13. Begone Dull Care
  14. The Room
  15. Jaws
  16. Suspiria
  17. Rock n Roll Nightmare
  18. Akira
  19. City of God
  20. 8 1/2
  21. Brick
  22. The Red Shoes
  23. The Young Girls of Rochefort
  24. Casablanca
  25. Blade Runner