Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

90 – 100 mins of Spider–Man: Homecoming (2017) are one of the best movies that Marvel has made, the remainder of the 133 min runtime is filler, most of it featuring Robert Downey Jr.  It doesn’t kill the film but it does make it drag and serves as a reminder that Marvel’s worst tendencies are not going anywhere.

To be honest, it would take a lot to kill this movie.  Tom Holland is good in the central role and the film plays as a solid adventure comedy.  It helps that the events are more grounded with the main antagonists being a gang of robbers, led by the fantastic Michael Keaton, who are trading in weapons made from the debris left in the wake of the Avengers’ work.  This world has more in common with Jessica Jones (2015 – ) than Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and that is a major plus, as is the move away from the dead eyed ‘classic banter’ of the Avengers towards a more situational, personal and slightly odd style of humour.

But there is a bad taste here.  As the movie is essentially the view from the cheap seats in relation to the events of the previous films it also has interesting political ideas.  The real disappointment is that although the world logically suggests push back against these billionaire wizards and new gods, the industrial model in which the film is made can’t abide this.  In another context the suggested Icarus tale (escaping a rigged game through determination and technology only to be brought down by hubris) would be a tragedy, in the Marvel Cinematic Content Delivery System its labelled villainy and must be stamped out.
After all, what would happen if we didn’t love Tony?!
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M.C.P.T.S.D.U a.k.a. Jessica Jones

I’m not the biggest fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (M.C.U.),  a couple of the movies are really good but it’s essentially a (admittedly well made) culturally imperialist content generator: racking up minutes and occupying multiplex screens.  But when you combine the films with the Netfix Originals offerings, Marvel have, maybe inadvertently, created a rather significant and interesting gap between the two with the small screen offerings playing out as the damaged echo chamber of the film’s classic bants tinged mass destruction.

The films have obviously already started to react to the previously unmentioned mass destruction in very direct ways, the plots of Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice directly concern the aftermath of these cataclysm and the latter even seems driven to insanity, but they are still top down views.  Films about billionaires, gods and Government operatives.  Jessica Jones (2015 – ) is the view from the cheap seats.  It’s a series that directly references the MCU, infuses everything it does with the shackles and scars of the past, and successfully grounds it by having real and unimaginable trauma as it’s main focus.  It’s also infused with mistrust of motive and power and the superhero ‘powers’ are almost invisible until they are used in blink and you’d miss it moments or damaging frantic fights.

Jessica Jones is the best that Marvel currently has to offer.  On it’s own it would just be a very strong and interesting series, with smart writing and great performances.  With the weight of the MCU’s glib body count it’s turned into a diamond.  I’ve still got two episodes to go before completing the first season, I might just cry if she starts wearing a costume.

 

Fantastic Four (2015)

I don’t get the hate.  I don’t understand how people can sit through the majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe content deliver system and this is where they find fault.  I’m not saying the MCU doesn’t contain some great stuff but there are many many miles and minutes of utter tedium to wade through.  Even the better efforts like Ant Man (2015), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and the Captain America films (2011 / 2014), all great fun, feel burdened by conformity and the weight of the franchise.

Fantastic Four isn’t a great film, it might not even be a good one, but it’s enjoyable and contains some really interesting ideas.  The best thing here is that someone has finally admitted how horrible superpowers would be.  From the moment that the accident happens the film steps up a gear and becomes a freak show.  The limbs of Reed Richards recall the body horror of Cronenberg whilst the Human Torch writhes and The Thing becomes a Golem.  Sue Storm (who’s ironic lack of presence here is a genuine disappointment) pops in an out of existence and Doom gets fused with his spacesuit and stranded in another dimension.  There’s pain here that isn’t going away and a real sense that mastering your ‘powers’ isn’t the same as a cure.  ‘I’m used to it’ is the best you can hope for.

In it’s 100 minute form the film does feel disjointed, as if they had edited down a three part mini-series, and that is a problem but it’s a good movie, yeah I’m going with ‘good’, and much more fun than expected with it’s hit and miss melding of kid’s logic and genuinely horrific images.

I much prefer a bit of a mess to a corporate filing system of characters.

Recommended.