“If You’re Nothing Without the suit, then you Shouldn’t have it” – Spider-Man: Homecoming (Film Review)

Here we are again. Another Spider-Man. Tom Holland is the man/boy in the suit this time as a co-operative partnership between Sony and Marvel means this Spider-Man is part of the MCU. As someone who felt the Amazing Spider-Man series was a little bit mediocre at best I approached this fresh entry with optimism that rookie director John Watt could integrate everyone’s favourite wall crawler into the MCU successfully.

Image result for spider-man homecoming

So the gist this time is that Peter Parker is still just a kid, fifteen to be exact, and this is more a coming of age high school comedy than a straight superhero film. Tom Holland makes a wonderful Parker/Spider-Man carrying on the great work from his debut in Civil War. His energy and enthusiasm as the eager to prove himself teenager is an endearing portrayal, and Holland is adept for both the dramatic and comedic requirements of the part. Speaking of comedic, this is the most joke heavy entry of any Spider-Man movie, with lots of great one-liners, physical humour and an ensemble who seem to revel in the films funnier scenes. Newcomer Jacob Batalan is the scene stealer as Ned Leeds (Peter’s best friend), the self-described “Man in the Chair”, who assists Peter in both fighting criminals and building Death Stars out of Lego. When the movie balances it’s John Hughes-esque high school drama with Peter’s struggle to maintain his dual identity it excels, his desperation to prove himself to Tony Stark impacting his judgement severely. Robert Downey Jnr is used sparingly in his role as Peter’s mentor and their developing father/son bond is a highlight of the feature. Peter’s foil in this film is the Vulture, a low-level thug underneath the Avengers radar, who wants to provide for his family. Casting Michael Keaton is rarely a bad idea, and he takes a rather run of the mill part and imbues it with a ruthlessness and callous menace the makes him far more interesting than the script alone would suggest. Whilst the character work of the film is superb (I didn’t have time to gush about the fine work of actors Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Donald Glover and Tony Revelori) and the films comedy is pretty damn exceptional it’s the action scenes that are the let-down. Spider-Man has a larger variety of firepower thanks to a Stark designed Spider-suit but the clashes between Spider-Man and Vulture lack intensity and inventiveness, especially at the movies climax. This could possibly owe to director John Watt’s inexperience, this being his first big budget film. Homecoming is also a bit too long (For some reason Marvel like the majority of their movies to come in at the 2hr 20min mark regardless of content) and could do with shaving off fifteen minutes.

Spider-Man: Homecoming ranks around the same as Wonder Woman, a solid if unspectacular entry that nevertheless leaves the franchise in a promising position for the future. Holland is certainly right for the part, and the so-called world building means that in a sequel we can leap straight into Peter’s world without introductions. Not quite up to the standard set by the best films of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy but it’s certainly an upgrade on The Amazing Spider-Man series.

3/5

“You know what they say about the crazy ones…” – Suicide Squad (Film Review)

After a highly mixed response to BvS: Dawn of Justice the DCEU has gotten off to a rather stuttering start which has placed Suicide Squad in the unenviable position of being a flagship release rather than an offbeat niche cinematic offering. Therefore we’ve heard rumours of reshoots being administered to the project in an attempt to add more humour to the film and the marketing departments changed the tone from the original trailers dark and grungy take to a more pop based style adding more fun and colour.

Following the death of Superman from the end of BvS government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a team of incarcerated criminals in an attempt to form an expendable tactical squad who could contend with a possible meta-human threat. She recruits the hit-man Deadshot (Will Smith), mentally unstable Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), possessed Witch June Moore/Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), pyrokinetic gangster (Jay Hernandez), Aussie bank-robber Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtenay), deformed man-beast Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and really good climber (There’s little else to say) Slipknot (Adam Beach). Waller puts the squad under the guidance of Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a by the book military officer, and his bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara). Following a suspected supernatural attack in Midway City the squad are sent out to retrieve a secret package all whilst Harley Quinn’s psychotic lover, the Joker (Jared Leto), attempts to rescue her.

Suicide Squad opens with a promising, energetic opening introducing the large array of characters with a high volume of pop song based montages. However following a relatively strong first act Suicide Squad sadly dissolves into a myriad of bland, uninteresting, action sequences occasionally highlighted by an interesting sequence or two all culminating in an anticlimactic third act finale. Needless to say I was monumentally disappointed by what was one of the most highly anticipated films of the year that despite a promising start stuttered to a halt forty minutes in and promptly self-destructed into a convoluted mess of poorly edited action, horrifically written dialogue and Cara Delevingne performing some sort of gyrating hula dance that opens portals to the sky.

Despite those shortcomings the cast, for the most part, do a good job. Will Smith delivers his most charismatic performance in years as Deadshot and Margot Robbie has an impressive screen presence though her performance is undercut by some poor writing in a lot of her scenes. As amusing as Robbie manages to be at times her dialogue is unfunny and conflictingly designed. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Robbie’s scenes with Jared Leto. Much has been made of Leto’s meticulous preparation in taking over the role of the Joker and he’s featured heavily in the promotional material for the film despite his role being minimal at most. With little more than five minutes of screen time Leto does manage to make a significant impact, a highly disappointing one at that. Leto’s Joker is a gangster, a career criminal, and it would have been interesting to see the character return to his golden age comic book routes with a modern twist. However this Joker is an impotent, posturing, flaccid man-child impossible to find interesting. Despite Leto’s silly voice affectation, his “quirky” mannerisms and David Ayer’s attempts to photograph him with faux artistic intent you never find him intimidating, amusing or anything at all beyond irritating. Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about suicide squad is watching a film in which Jai Courtenay playing a boomerang throwing bank robber is far more watchable than Jared Leto as a green haired gangster wannabe. The most impressive actor in Suicide squad, unsurprisingly, is Viola Davis as the terrifyingly fierce Amanda Waller who displays an air of vile disrepute none of the so called Suicide Squad can match. She’s an intimidating presence and owns every scene she’s in. Though they get little screen time Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Karen Fukuhara leave positive impressions while Joel Kinnaman and Cara Delevingne are somewhat lethargic in their roles lacking any real energy or charisma. There’s also a very funny brief appearance from Ike Barinholtz as a security guard and hopefully we will see more of him in a future film.

 

Suicide Squad is a mixed bag and despite my admiration for the past work of David Ayer and his grungy style seeming a good fit for this project if there is a sequel (which after a massive box office opening there will be) I hope a different director comes on board with a more coherent vision than what he has managed to capture, or at the very least a different screenwriter. At times DOP Roman Vasyanov manages to capture a large variety of interesting plateaus however these too seem to vanish once act two kicks into gear. Despite my disappointment I have hopes for the future of the Suicide Squad, Jared Leto aside, and hopefully the DCEU can find its stride following the huge financial success of the film.

2/5

Dir: David Ayer

Scr: David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Jai Courtenay, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Karen Fukuhara, Cara Delevingne, Adam Beach, Ben Affleck, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood

Prd: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle

DOP: Roman Vasyanov

Music: Steven Price

Country: USA

Runtime: 123 minutes

Suicide Squad is out now in UK cinemas.