Spider-Man: Far From Home

4 out of 5 stars

Who’d have thunk? There is a time after Avengers: Endgame! And it’s a jolly good time!

After all the dust has settled, I must say I’m surprised to see, that even after the ultimative comic-book experience that was Avengers: Endgame, there’s still room for movies of this sort.

Of course, «Spider-Man: Far From Home» plays in a whole different ball-park, even a different league than the superhero-movie that should have ended all superhero-movies (but of course hasn’t).

But that’s a good thing!

Thanos may not have undone 50% of all the life in the universe, but consequently, a reset button has been pushed: It’s as if all the pressure and excitement for «Endgame» has been built up and paid off so handsomely, there’s now room for «smaller» comic book films, not focusing on grandeur, but on storytelling, quality, and most important: fun – well aware that there’s no way to go against the humungous undertaking and experience «Endgame» was.

And I must say, they do an outstanding job at it: «Spider-Man: Far From Home» is one of the best written comic book movies in a while – the way they used a known villain (Jake Gyllenhaal at his best), marketed him as a hero and still got the curve to make the whole story work without seeming dishonest is unparalleled and probably the best thing in an overall very satisfying and entertaining movie that even would have worked without this gimmick.

Even for someone like me, who doesn’t really like the very specific sub-genre of Euro-Trip-Comedies,… it was a bliss to see Spidey, or better Peter Parker, reliving all the stale tropes of the genre put against the background of the aftermath of Tony Stark’s death and the legacy it put upon him, using it as a way to develop his character.

«Spider-Man: Far From Home» is the movie I wouldn’t have had the honesty to ask for after «Endgame».

It’s not the movie a now matured audience wished for, but it’s the movie we deserved after the scarring events in the last two Avengers movies.

Let’s enjoy this refreshing, light-hearted summer-breeze – it will get cold and serious again soon enough with «Joker»…

Well done! Go see it!

  • Storytelling: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Characters: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Acting: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Drama, Baby: 🐷🐷🐷
  • Fun: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Humour: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Visuals: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Music and Sound: 🐷🐷🐷
  • Originality: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Entertainment value: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Production value: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Satisfaction: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷

Avengers: Endgame

5 out of 5 stars

I’m happy now.

I won’t even try to understand how confused someone who’s been living under a rock for the past eleven years must feel like watching «Avengers: Endgame». But this movie is not for them. This movie was made for fans – it was made for rafemen. It was made for me.

I wasn’t afraid.

I wasn’t worried this time around that the Russo Brothers wouldn’t be able to pull it off. They went all-in with «Avengers: Infinity War» and succeeded spectacularly. With «Avengers: Endgame» they still had everything to loose, but the pressure was off, it seems, and they delivered.

I’m not even mad.

I don’t care that as a movie, «Endgame» isn’t the masterpiece «Infinity War» was. By itself, it’s probably not even that good a film. At times it lacks in elegance and pacing, even some of the green-screen work seems rushed and unfinished.
What this movie is is an all-star potpourri, the ultimate fan-service delivery-device. And probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen on the big screen.
Where «Infinity War» was all about quality and build-up, «Endgame» is about quantity. A nostalgic, almost melancholic stroll down memory lane.
«Endgame» is nothing short of the ultimate payoff for fans like me, made possible only through the hard work, imagination and most important, the heart and soul of thousands of highly talented people, creating a phenomenon never seen before in the history of cinema: A dream come true lasting for more than a decade.

I cried.

For the last ten or so years I’ve been witnessing something that I’d never thought to be possible as young boy in the eighties, way beyond my bedtime, browsing all of six TV-Channels over and over again looking for something fantastic, something special,… something for me. Just to be let down time and again finding out that neither «The Electric Horseman» nor «The Kiss of the Spider-Woman» had anything to do with superheroes or comic books whatsoever…
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become everything that this now grown up boy could ever wish for, and more: It has shown me that it’s ok to be me: A nerd, a geek, a loner communicating first through drawings, then through websites, even a puny blog. In a cynical world I’ve learned to appreciate the ability to enjoy those ridiculous movies, unbelievable characters and fantastic adventures – the suspension of disbelieve truly has become my own personal superpower, giving me the opportunity to find excitement and happiness through escapism in times my depression wouldn’t allow it in any other way.

Without a doubt, there will be more comic book movies to come, even from Marvel Studios. But for me, with «Infinity War» and «Endgame» an era has ended. A most spectacular and emotional cinematic roller coaster ride has come to a stop, giving me closure. And what a truly amazing, satisfying ride it was.

I’m ready now….

It’s time to leave the dark movie theatre and go outside. To meet new friends, say thank you to my family and old pals and let go of even older ideas. To create new things and destroy bad habits. To make peace. To find purpose. To find love.

It’s time…

It’s time for me to take off those 3D glasses and open my eyes for the wonders this world has to offer, to experience whatever marvels this life presents for me to explore, embracing the good, overcoming the bad, growing into the person I am supposed to be.
Not to become a superhero, not even a hero – but a good man.

I am rafeman.

I am Raphael.

  • Storytelling: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Characters: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Acting: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Drama, Baby: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Fun: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Humour: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Visuals: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Music and Sound: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Originality: 🐷🐷🐷
  • Entertainment value: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Production value: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Satisfaction: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷

Captain Marvel

3.5 out of 5 stars

Though I had been reading comic books before, I’ll never forget my first encounter with «Captain Marvel»:

Well, Mar-Vell was a dude back then, and sadly about to die in the very same issue. No spoiler, there – it was right on the cover: «The Death of Captain Marvel» by Jim Starlin.

I couldn’t believe what treasure I was holding in my hands, witnessing origin, live and DEATH of a superhero! “This must be a mistake!”, I thought to my much younger self: Multiple grave errors must have been made to lead to this: A boy, not even seven years old probably shouldn’t read this: Cancer – killing – a superhero – in a comic book? And then, all those wonderful panels featuring a plethora of dozens, even hundreds of characters, most I’ve never even had seen before! My mind was blown🤯!…

Photo of my original issue of «Der Tod des Captain Marvel» (Jim Starlin, Condor Verlag, 1983)

…blown! With this latest «Captain Marvel» movie – not so much. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fine. More than fine: Brie Larson is perfect in the title role, exploring a different, younger, more grounded aspect of the Super-Heroine I’ve learnt to respect and treasure with Gal Gadot’s «Wonder Woman»*.

Also Samuel L. Jackson seems to enjoy his much bigger part and, as a bonus, two intact eyes and it works like a charm. (Even Jude Law gives me hope in proving that not everything is lost with a receding hairline not unlike my own).

And yes, there’s a cat, and Ben Mendelsohn, and that’s ok, but I’ve honestly seen better work of both of them😺.

Almost everything else in this movie seems to be falling in place quite nicely: The VFX are bombast-top-notch, of course. And music, sound and story are as solid as we’ve come to expect from Kevin Feige and his team.

But nonetheless, the result seems somewhat unfocused in the beginning and then, once the story gains momentum, still remains oddly flat, without much sense of drama or impact – muted, almost compressed in scope – if you will – unsuiting for a movie about one of the most powerful characters in the MCU.

I didn’t want to go here in this text, but I must admit, while I don’t condone the badmouthing on social media and rotten tomatoes even before «Captain Marvel» was released, it’s hard to ignore that in some scenes the movie really seems to halt and announce: «See what we’ve done there? Yeah girl! You go girl, YOU’re our target audience! Women can be strong, too!»

That’s not too bad per se, Marvel and others have done a similar thing for years, calling it «fan service», but I can’t shake the impression that this time around a more focused, better movie might have gotten lost in the process. What makes this worse is the fact that it wouldn’t even have been necessary: With Brie Larson as the perfect strong, female lead, no additional distracting shenanigans would have been needed, no matter what song is playing in the background…

…you’ll know what I mean when you watch the movie, which you should, ’cause while «Captain Marvel» remains on the weaker side of MCU-Movies, it’s still very entertaining and Brie Larson, especially sporting the iconic suit, is worth the admission price alone.

  • Storytelling: 🐷🐷🐷
  • Characters: 🐷🐷🐷
  • Acting: 🐷🐷🐷
  • Drama, Baby: 🐷🐷
  • Fun: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Humour: 🐷🐷
  • Visuals: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Music and Sound: 🐷🐷🐷
  • Originality: 🐷🐷🐷
  • Entertainment value: 🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Production value: 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
  • Satisfaction: 🐷🐷🐷

ASIDE: I can’t help to think of the hilariousity we all got robbed of when DC decided to release their movie as «Shazam!» and NOT «Captain Marvel» (not that this ever was a possibility, but still). I guess the outcome would have been even more disastrous and entertaining than «Batman v Superman»’s multiple million dollar CGI moustache removal they had to do on Henry Cavill who wasn’t allowed to shave for reshoots because he had to wrap «Mission: Impossible – Fallout»!


*) As much as I love Black Widow or Jessica Jones, they’re in a different, minor league, compared to «Captain Marvel» or «Wonder Woman».

Marvel’s Daredevil Season 3

4 out of 5 stars

While «Iron Fist» and «Luke Cage» got cancelled some days ago I’d almost forgotten that there still was a very enjoyable Marvel show to premiere that very same week:

«Marvel’s Daredevil» might have been the first attempt of bringing one of the less spectacular superheroes in a smaller scale to Netflix, but with season three the man without fear still remains the best and most solid installation of all the Marvel superhero series on the streaming service by far thanks to struggling and evolving characters and some risk-takingly spectacular cinematic moments of storytelling and montage.

But characters is what «Marvel’s Daredevil» really is all about: The show proves that Superhero stories CAN work on a smaller scale, as an action-infused drama, when done correctly (I’m looking at you «Gotham»).

The core of season three is all about family, legacy and relationships – old and new characters all get their chance to explore different angles of this underlying theme. And it’s a bliss:

Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page gets her own superb isolated episode which sheds light on her past, Wilson Bethel as Benjamin Poindexter («Bullseye») reminded me that a great character doesn’t have to be likeable and Charlie Cox as «Daredevil» proofs once again how satisfying and cathartic a tragic (super-) hero can be. But the real show-stealer (even more so than Jon Bernthal as «The Punisher» in season two) is, of course, Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk.

D’Onofrio’s wonderful, tragic, scary, phenomenal, uncanny performance as the «Kingpin« left me in awe. But even the secondary characters get a chance to shine: Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Father Lanthom (Peter McRobbie), Joanne Whalley as Sister Maggie and Jay Ali in the Role of Special Agent Ray Nadeem all get their chance to shine or at least support the impact of the main characters’ arcs.

After having stated my doubts about the quality of Netflix’ latest series in general, the fact that I usually don’t take the time to list the whole cast of an ensemble by name might show that there’s still hope, considering how well this season of «Marvel’s Daredevil» was written, performed and crafted… chapeau! I’ll take some more of that, please.

 

Venom

2.5 out of 5 stars

«Venom» surely isn’t a good movie but I still kinda liked it. It’s not so bad that it’s good but it’s a clumsy, somewhat lovable construction of uninspired storytelling, average visual effects (but pretty production design) and questionable characters saved by only one thing: Tom Hardy in the title roles as Eddie Brock and his alter ego Venom, bromancing the hell out of almost every scene they’re in.

If the rumours are true, a rushed production schedule and a late decision to not make «Venom» rated R might explain this uneven mess of a movie. The end result makes it look as if the creatives decided that if they’re not allowed to do a proper bloody version, let’s make it silly,… like a Buddy Cop movie with a hint of Screwball-Rom-Com sprinkled on top and some superfluous CGI action added for the studio and the uninitiated crowd.

And somehow, that worked for me. Like the «Tom Hardy Show» that was «Bronson» sans a good movie which would only distract and might take the focus off his performance.

I doubt that Sony really knew where they were going with this. But good for them they didn’t try (and fail again) to copy Marvel Studios’ approach and took a different way* – a strange, meandering route without any direction, purpose or destination, but still…

This silly mixed bag helps Tom Hardy’s performance to stand out even more (and somehow makes it even more enjoyable) and presents «Venom» as a strange but funny, rather forgettable, but entertaining stumble of a movie.


*) «Venom’s» mildly amusing second after credit scene – some minutes taken directly from their upcoming animated feature «Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse» – seems to confirm how truly lost they are with their remaining rights to use «Spider-Man», not knowing what the hell to do with them**.

**) At this point,  I’ve given up trying to understand which studio has the right to which characters under which circumstances, but I doubt that cramming all the iterations of all the Spider-Men into one movie is the sensible way to go.


Marvel’s Iron Fist Season 2

2 out of 5 stars

After having joined the jolly bandwagon of critics stating that TV-entertainment is the new cinema thanks to longer runtime giving writers much more opportunities to develop their characters, arcs and storylines, I lately keep being disappointed by Netflix’s (and similar) productions.
I find most of the current series either lazy, unfinished, blown-up or, even worse, boring and not worthy of my time.

Over at Amazon Prime Video the situation doesn’t seem to be much better: The series I tried to commit to («Hand of God» and «Startup») where just too earnest, unfunny and bland to keep them in my queue. (I’m even going back to finally finish «Mad Men» just because it’s the lighter, funnier, much better way to spend my hours commuting to work).

Looking back now, I even wonder whether the more recent Golden Age of TV Drama has come and gone much faster than I thought (and hoped) it would. The quality just seems to have gotten lost somewhere between Kevin Spacey’s infamous exit and Joel Kinnaman’s gratouitus abs.

Having said that I must admit that the second season of «Iron Fist» is much more entertaining than the godawful first season. The characters are much more likeable and it’s not as easy as it used to be to fall asleep during an episode (though I managed).

Shame though they threw Davos (Sacha Dhawan) under the bus by turning the best thing of season one into an arrogant, delusional prick without the tragedy or depth he deserved.
And many of the most interesting ideas in this season seem to be either an afterthought without much impact or pure build-up for season 3 .

Sad.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

3 out of 5 stars

So let’s tick off that box in this year’s comic book movies list – or better: ANT🐜 off this part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ANThology🐜.

I didn’t ANTicipate🐜 much and «Ant-Man and the Wasp» wouldn’t disappoint. It made me laugh (not as much as the first one though) and left me fully satisfied. All in all it’s pure and solid Marvel Studios ANTertainment🐜 as good as it can be for one of their «smaller» side-projects while still hinting at some bigger role for Scott Lang to play in the grand MCU scheme of things.

I won’t even address the elephANT🐜 in the room that «Ant-Man and the Wasp» is…, it’s…  I got nothing there, just wANTed🐜 to put one more «ANT🐜» in there. It’s too hot to be clever today, I cAN’T🐜 even bother to give too much ANTtention🐜 to spelling in this climANTe🐜.

All I have is: Go see it, watch the two mid- and after credit scenes and let’s leave it at that ANTiclimactic🐜 review, ok?

Fine. Thank you. ANT🐜 have a nice day…


🐜) Warning: This review may contain some bad insect-related puns.

Avengers: Infinity War

4.5 out of 5 stars

Let’s bring the Infinity War week to an end by answering the most important question: Is it any good?

Though the Marvel Studios have managed to release one feature film after the other without screwing up, they have well proven their ability to fail with some of their more underwhelming series on Netflix. So I could nothing but hope that I wouldn’t be disappointed by their climactic showdown that could set an end to all the comic book movies (which of course it won’t).

The chance of failure was not unlikely, given the high bar they kept raising in the last ten years and the sheer scope of the whole undertaking.

Well, we all knew Marvel Studios’ lucky streak would come to an end one day – A sad day.

But that day is not today. Holy fucking moly! What a fantastic ride! Oh yes, it’s good. I mean: g o o d. It’s spectacular! Thank you Marvel Studios to let your first 10 amazing years end on such a high note, giving a now grown up man all the comic book movie his 9-year-old self would never even have dreamed of.

I have often claimed to regret to be too young to have seen the original «Star Wars» when it first was theatrically released. But that’s a low price to pay to be alive and well today and be able to enjoy wonderful things like «Avengers: Infinity War».

Post Scriptum:

Thank You pic.twitter.com/IP3tLSwQmS