Spider-Man: No Way Home - Film Review
Tom Holland reprises his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man for his third solo outing, but is it really an Avengers level experience or a case of don't believe the hype.
This is not such a straightforward film to review...I remember, that my initial problem with the first solo Tom Holland film (Homecoming) was that it had such a 'junior' outlook in comparison to every other Spider-Man outing we'd been given and that element completely caught me off guard. Why I hear you ask?
Well, in already having seen his depiction of the character play so well with the adults in "Captain America: Civil War" his interaction there, set my mind up to believe that in his first lone feature we would be given a certain level of mature storytelling - which didn't really happen. Well, I say that, but the Vulture via Michael Keaton's performance thankfully provided a presence which helped anchor the film to be something much stronger than the sum of its high-school parts.
For my second viewing of "Homecoming" and my first viewing of "Far From Home" I had reprogrammed my mind to accept the level of sophistication that the filmmakers had chosen to deliver around the 'kids' which was miles away from say the likes of "Teen Wolf" (1985) and more akin to "Sky High" (2005) and quickly came to accept and like it. Anyway, in saying all of this, NWH (for me) starts off at an even more junior level than its predecessors and has quite a lukewarm start considering the final events of "Far From Home". However, I can assure you, that NWH goes on to be a perfect Spider-Man ode rather than a perfect Spider-man movie and it had the people in the cinema (including myself) cheering, gasping and clapping at several parts.
And although I stated that NWH starts off lukewarm, trust me when I say that a) it rises to be a darn good film, with some very rewarding aspects and b) that the 12A certificate is warranted. One child in my row started crying and her dad had to comfort her - like face buried in his chest comfort. With the way the film ended, there is now a perfect opportunity to have a more grown up Peter Parker in the world and so I imagine we are going to see some harder battles in the future. Tom Holland has agreed to do another 3 films, so here's to Spider-Man adulting. Oh, by the way, there are two post-credit endings and how people are still leaving the cinema early - C'MOOOOON!
Boxing Day - Film Review
Actor Aml Ameen makes his debut directional debut with the Rom-Com Boxing Day, we take a quick look to see if it will be a happy Christmas or a present that you didn't want.
A diasporic original, Boxing Day manages to capture the best tropes of Rom-Coms, but still manages to interject its own personal signature by compiling cultural elements not previously seen in a British Rom-Com. In fact, Boxing Day may just be the first film to highlight a UK, US, Jamaican and West African thread, laid out to create an authentic (if not slightly fantastical) Black British cinematic tapestry. You're not going to see the most original, unique Rom-Com ever, but it never tries to be that and the intertwining stories and performances (for the most part) do the genre justice whilst still providing a fresh unfolding of romantic events.
King Richard - Film Review
After Ali, Will Smith takes on the role of another iconic sports figure, but will it be a case of of aces all around - or an unforced error?
I thought this movie was gonna be a little bit corny, with dire attempts to induce tears, I also thought that the personality of Will Smith would be too strong and push through his depiction of Richard Williams, but I was wrong on all accounts. The story is told in a concise, matter-of-fact way and thankfully, there is no over-emphasis on concentrating on the barriers and 'isms' that the sisters and family faced. Yes it's part of the story but it's not the whole story and the filmmakers respect the audience enough to know that we understand the world in which they (we) live in.
The cast is totally on point and I mean everyone, but I have to give a special big-up to Aunjanue Ellis who knows how to dial a performance up or down to a T. Oh, and because their story is so vast, they film only focuses on the era where the kids are being introduced and trained by other coaches (with Richard still monitoring) and then entering their first competitions. This however still has the film clocking in at 2hrs 18mins, but you won't be bored.
It is a sub-genre that has gone on to become become one of the most enduring and beloved staples of modern action cinema. A modern standard trope now, the origin of having one individual embody a large and deadly collection of military skills, was first seen in 1982. Via the 'Swiss Army Knife' that is special forces soldier John Rambo, we take a look at the advent of this character that still influences cinema today.
ORIGINS OF THE ONE MAN ARMY
In the celluloid past, the solo avenger was usually a wronged person seeking personal retribution or would be a formidable warrior with a tragic past, who was ready to fight on behalf of those who couldn't. They would usually be a quiet humble character or a loud, larger than life one, but either way, they would show an unshakeable determination, a bulletproof mindset and arrive with a skill set that the ordinary person didn't have.
THE GUN, THE SWORD AND THE FOOT
The prototype for the "One Man Army" can be seen in a few genre of cinema from all around the world. In American and Italian (Spaghetti) Westerns, we were given the fastest gunslinger. In the East (Japan) the quickest and deadliest sword exponents came via the Samurai and then came the fastest hands and feet (from China and Hong Kong) in the early Kung-fu movies. But what made these early lone wolf warriors different to what would become the definitive one man army trope, was their limited range of skills. The gunslinger was usually just that, take away his guns and we would find out how mortal he was after a single physical beating. With the likes of characters such as John Rambo, John Matrix (Commando) Casey Ryback (Under Siege) and Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity) we were given characters that were trained in special weapons and tactics, counter-intelligence and the piloting of many different types of vehicles. In an angry outburst about not being able to hold a job flippin' burgers John Rambo says "Back there I could fly a gunship, I could drive a tank, I was in charge of million dollar equipment..." as a way of citing how special and unique his skill set is in comparison to the ordinary human being.
STEP INTO THE ARENA
First Blood is an adaptation of author David Morrell's 1972 eponymously titled book. In the film we were given an escalating and realistic guerilla warfare scenario that included; hand-to-hand combat, survival techniques, gunmanship and a use of vehicles in special circumstances. And although I love characters like John McClane from the Die Hard series (who could be said to be display the same skill-set), I see those types of one man army films as almost a sub-genre of a sub-genre - Why? Because their "one man army" status doesn't have them really owning the same skill set. Even with a characters like Robert McCall (The Equalizer) and Brian Mills (Taken) who both have military training and who have both worked for the CIA, their army element vs Rambo's is not really for comparison.
After the cinematic creation of John Rambo, a thousand films went on to use the 'ex-special forces' or 'Vietnam Vet' tag as a major indicator that the character you were dealing with could easily bring about havoc. Major plot points and even gentle twists have been written into many stories, to routinely reveal, that the mysterious but adept character taking out all the bad guys was in fact an ex-special forces soldier. Under Siege, Lethal Weapon and On Deadly Ground are just some of the bigger films that used this approach.
All in all, cinema would not be the same without the one man army trope and we are here to salute it.
TDD, RC & IK talk: