Tag Archives: Robert Downey Jr

Review: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (Spoiler free)

Jacob Batalon;Photographer select;Tom Holland

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.
Directed by: Jon Watts
Cert: 12A Running Time: 133 minutes
Irish Release Date: 5th July 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming had a lot to live up to. After a cracking entrance in Captain America: Civil War, in which we were given a mouth-watering glimpse of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) reinvented for the MCU, the first standalone film needed to deliver something fresh. With five films since 2002, we’re very familiar with the story of Peter Parker and key to this resurrection, is the fact that Spidey has now slung his web into the world of The Avengers.

Picking up two months after the airport showdown in Civil War, Peter is biding his time until he hears from Stark again, and like any teen, he is getting impatient – the neighbourhood being too small now for his dreams of fighting serious crime with his mentor. Lucky then, that there’s a bad guy right in his own backyard – a “psychopath dressed like a demon” in the shape of Vulture (Michael Keaton). A weapons designer utilising alien tech, who has managed to stay below the S.H.I.E.L.D. radar, until now.

This forms the framework of the story, but really there are two threads working seamlessly alongside each other –  Peter Parker’s navigation through high school with his best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon) and him finding his place in the Avenger’s universe. The first gives a nod to John Hughes’ 80’s teen movies, complete with the loyal and funny best friend, the high school bully (Tony Revolori) and the most beautiful girl in school, Liz (Laura Harrier), whom Peter admires from afar as the Homecoming dance approaches.

Of the second, Downey Jr. brings his usual charm and wit as the cool uncle/father figure as he bounces off Holland’s performance, making the pair fantastic to watch but Holland is the star and rightly so. His Peter Parker/Spider-Man is so likeable and director Jon Watts establishes this from the opening frame with a hilarious video diary that makes you love him instantly.

Jon Favreau;Robert Downey Jr;Tom Holland

When it comes to the action, Watt delivers great set pieces, including a vertigo-inducing one that hits the mark, while another, is perhaps a little too frenetic but serves the story well. The only downside to having Spider-Man in the MCU, is knowing that Iron Man isn’t too far away thus dialling down the peril factor when it comes to the scrapes Peter finds himself in, but it’s a minor quibble.

The supporting cast are all great with nice work from Batalon (whom the film would be a lot duller without) Zendaya and Donald Glover. Marisa Tomei shines too in her scenes as the newly hip Aunt May. Having Keaton on board as the villain is a massive coup – his Vulture brings menace and brains and he has one of the best speeches in the film, bringing a serious note to an otherwise entertaining and enjoyable addition to the Marvel universe. Packed full of charm, it’s a perfect summer blockbuster that leaves your appetite whetted for the next instalment. Job done then.

4/5

Review – CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

 ca-1

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland and Daniel Brühl
Directed by: Anthony & Joe Russo
Cert: 12A Running Time: 147 minutes

In the most ambitious of the Marvel movies yet, directors Anthony and Joe Russo  (returning after the brilliant Captain America: Winter Soldier), have served up no less than twelve super heroes in what is perhaps the greatest collection of costumed crime fighters ever to share screen time. So well woven now is their universe, that they fit seamlessly into the film’s narrative framework – the heroes torn apart when forced to consider the destruction and unavoidable collateral damage that comes with taking down the bad guys.

As with the recent Batman V Superman, the question of whether these heroes are good for mankind or a danger to them is examined at depth and having caused massive destruction in Sokovia (in Age of Ultron) and on a recent mission in Lagos that went awry thanks to Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), they are being corralled to sign an accord that will see them sent only on UN sanctioned missions as opposed to deciding threats for themselves. Faced with the mother of a recent American fatality at their hands, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is inclined to sign, whereas Captain America (Chris Evans), believes “the safest hands are still our own” and that having someone else choose compromises what they do. Having laid the foundations for conflict between the two men in Age of Ultron, it feels entirely plausible that their principles and perspective could differ so strongly as to make them enemies and all that remains is for the others (Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Falcon) to choose where their beliefs and loyalties lie.

So far so serious and before it threatens to succumb to the weight of its moral high ground, writers’ Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely inject the film with a huge dose of fun. Key to this is the arrival to the Marvel universe at last of Spiderman (Tom Holland). A giddy teenager who adores Tony Stark, Spiderman is a brilliant addition to team Iron Man bringing his unique skills and youthful exuberance to the fight.  Black Panther too (played by Chadwick Boseman) is a welcome sight, a mysterious fighter who not only has the coolest costume but the moves, agility and claws to match. And then there’s Ant Man. Just the sight of Paul Rudd brings a smile to your face and the much trailered airport showdown is a highlight, worth the price of admission alone.

While the running time is pretty exhaustive at 147 minutes, the film does rocket along and though much of the action focuses on the various bouts between Avengers, it does have a villain in the form of Daniel Brühl, who is terrific as the soft spoken Zemo, keen to get a one-to-one with the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), suspected of a bombing in Europe. Strong support is on hand with the likes of William Hurt, Martin Freeman (convincing with a US accent) and Marisa Tomei as Spiderman’s ‘hot’ Aunt May, whose chemistry with charmer Downey Jr. is still fizzing since 1994’s Only You. We also get another heady dose of nostalgia in a supposed flashback to Tony’s childhood where we see a teenage Downey, perfectly rendered, similar to the age-defying magic worked on Michael Douglas in Ant Man, which is strangely peculiar but a wonder to behold.

This being a Captain America movie it would be remiss not to mention Chris Evan’s performance. As always, he nails the action – no amount of CGI can magic the sheer scale of those pecs but he has made Captain America a throwback icon, a soldier from another time constantly trying to adapt, yet hold on tightly to the good old fashioned principles he grew up with and Evans proves more than capable of making him believable and strangely vulnerable when it comes to his past. There are moments though where the script feels heavy-handed. At one point Falcon (Anthony Mackie) throws in a reference to Mark Fuhrman from the O.J. Simpson trial which jars in such escapist entertainment, while the dialogue in a key fight between Iron Man and Captain America doesn’t always hit the mark. However these are minor quibbles in what is a wholly entertaining film.

The Russo brothers’ deliver both on heart-stopping action and story, staying the right side of the narrative so that it doesn’t feel like a vehicle just to put two (or twelve) of our favourite heroes against each other for no other reason than to see who’d beat the crap out of who. If that’s the money shot for you, you won’t be disappointed but neither will those looking for a little more meat on their superhero bones.

4/5