Cinema Dispatch: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Jon Watts

It’s been a rather underwhelming year for the superhero genre which once towered over the world.  The Pandemic has pushed the release schedule around several times which means we’re waiting longer for these movies, and to me, the MCU is having trouble finding their voice after Endgame put a pretty definitive end to the original story arc.  Frankly, the best we’ve gotten from the MCU in the last two years have been the Disney+ shows that may not always hit their marks but definitely have a lot of interesting ideas that probably wouldn’t work as a movie; even with these things being overly long for the most part.  Still, it’s hard not to get excited about another Spider-Man film; especially one as specifically targeted to my generation as this one is.  Does it manage to pull us out of the MCU funk and deliver on all the ludicrous promises the trailers have made, or is this going to be as convoluted and pointless as the Clone Saga; or even worse, One More Day?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has been revealed to the world as their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and this newfound celebrity (and infamy) has thrown his life into chaos.  Investigations from the government, a bunch of weirdos throwing bricks through his windows, and a very awkward school environment where half of them want to see him become their mascot and the other are hurling conspiracy-laden insults at him.  See, this is why you need to be rich or a soldier to do the Superhero thing; either commit to it full time or pay people to go outside for you!  It gets to be such a burden that Peter begs the MCU’s cool uncle Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to use his wizard magic to erase his identity from the mind of everyone in the universe.  Let’s just say that it had mixed results as the world doesn’t forget his identity, but there are now a bunch of villains running around who seem to know him; including Doctor Otto Octavius who has four robot arms (Alfred Molina), Max Dillon who has electricity powers (Jamie Foxx), Dr. Curt Connors who’s a lizard man (Rhys Ifans) Flint Marko who spends most of the movie as a human-shaped sandcastle for whatever reason (Thomas Haden Church), and of course Norman Osborne who still suffers from pretty severe mood swings (Willem Dafoe).  Now if you’ve kept up with the Spider-Man films for the last twenty years, those names should seem pretty familiar.  Sadly the Spider-Man of this universe didn’t get to see those movies, so he has to discover who all these people are, why they became villains in the first place, and if this confluence of inter-dimensional fan service can actually turn into a good thing for all involved.  Will Peter Parker, with the help of his friends, his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and his sorta-bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau), be able to stop these guys from tearing apart this universe and perhaps even get past their overwhelming hatred of wall-crawling superheroes?  Who else may have found their way into this universe, and what can they do to either help or hamper Peter’s attempts to fix everything?  So is J Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons) also an inter-dimensional buzzkill, or is there no universe that can escape his ludicrous conspiracy theories and get-rich-quick schemes?

“Looks like they already turned you into an NFT.”     “Seriously?”     “Yup.  And it sold for five-hundred grand.”     “See THAT’S the kind of evil-doer I should be fighting.”
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Cinema Dispatch: Hacksaw Ridge

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Hacksaw Ridge and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment

Directed by Mel Gibson

So The Birth of a Nation, while still being directed by terrible person with seemingly no interest in doing the hard work to change that, at least had the benefit of its filmmaker being a new voice with a desperately needed perspective in an industry that had grown pretty monolithic despite the way the world (and their audience) was changing around them.  Mel Gibson on the other hand has been around for decades and is already part of that overly white-cis-het culture that needs to be changed (both in Hollywood and everywhere else) which is only compounded by him being a shit bag for WAY longer.  Now I’m sure that he struggles with his demons constantly and that those kinds of fights are never easy to win, but no one owes this guy sympathy for those plights considering the harm he’s caused or their money to see his films even if it’s good in its own right.  I’m a film critic, so I critique films and all I can do is try to relay what this movie is trying to do, if it succeeds in doing so, and how I reacted to it given the full scope of how and why it was created instead of just on how well they made it.  Is this a masterpiece from a deeply disturbed filmmaker, or has the director’s own personal hang-ups dragged down a biopic about a much great man than him?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is essentially a biopic of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) whose religious beliefs meant he would not carry weapons or cause direct harm to others, but he still wanted to serve his country and do what he can to help his fellow Americans fighting in the Pacific Rim, so he enlists anyway with the hope of being a medic.  Now apparently medics STILL have to carry weapons and get weapons training, but he refuses to do even that much and becomes a target by his commanding officers (Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington) and fellow recruits who consider this an act of cowardice rather than religious conviction, and the movie takes great pains to explore the suffering he went through to earn the right not to carry a weapon as well as how he got these convictions (his alcoholic father Tom played by Hugo Weaving was a big influence), how this act of rebellion can ruin his life as well as the life of his wife Dorothy (Teresa palmer) and what he does once he’s in the field of battle with no way to protect himself.  Does Desmond manage to keep his convictions even when faced with the horrors of battle?  Will the rest of his unit learn to respect his convictions once he proves himself out in the field?  Is the film drenched in religious symbolism and Jesus allegories?  Does a bear shit in the woods?  And is Mel Gibson a serial abuser?

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SYMBOLISM!!

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