Spider-Man: Homecoming

3 out of 5 stars

Wow, I almost lost my wallet there at the theater! But I wouldn’t have lost the money: The latest cinematic iteration of Spider-Man is well worth its admission price.

It’s got heart, it has humour, it’s got a great cast. And as unbelievable as is sounds, this co-production between Marvel Studios and Sony (who still hold the rights to the movie character, technically, I think) has something the «purer» MCU films had yet to deliver on: A great villain! Michael Keaton is perfect in the role (winged superpersons obviously just seem to be his thing) and his persona «The Vulture» equally satisfies as antagonist as well as a driving storyelement.

Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is great, too; but no surprise there. And the suits (as in «the VFX») are fun to explore but interestingly enough not as overwhelming and important as let’s say the «Avengers» movies.

So no, I don’t regret to have worn my Spidey T-Shirt to work today. And yes, in the end, I found my wallet under the seat.

Wonder Woman

3 out of 5 stars

Um,… Miss Woman? I wonder if you’d marry me?

[  ] Yes

[  ] No

[x] I see you more as a friend

The movie’s not bad, either. All thanks to Gal Gadot. I think I’d watch her watching paint dry. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

4.5 out of 5 stars

What a great sci-fi fantasy action comedy! I laughed my ass off and if you’re an eighties kid, you probably will, too.
In the end there was not a dry eye in the house (and that wasn’t because of the 3D glasses).

Punisher (Netflix)

Torturing a non-nerd friend who just happened to have mentioned once that he kinda liked «The Punisher» (Thomas Jane). 

Correction:

Just realized know, that’s the first Netflix Punisher Season. His character was so strong in Daredevil Season 2 that my memory tricked me. (My friend wouldn’t know any better, of course).

rafeman header pic gallery

While simultaneously trying to connect a new wireless speaker*, writing an article, and of course, watching a movie, I was considering to write some reviews of some «old» movies, starting with «Edge of Tomorrow» (which I’m enjoying right now).

But then I realized that my reviews don’t really work that way because they’re mostly spontaneous, in a train of thought, «Gonzo»** kind of way, which doesn’t allow reviewing movies too long after I’ve watched them (the first time). Maybe I’ll find a different format for that some other time.

That’s why I have a different treat for you today: My new header picture gallery!

When I began making them, I was trying to give my Facebook profile some extra flavour and ended up creating some images grounded in my love for movies, TV and comics, with a hint of «je ne sais quoi», something fresh, personal (let’s say a cute piglet) – sometimes successfully,… sometimes not so much.

Finally I built a whole website and blog persona around it.

Please enjoy!

 

To be updated…


* unsuccessfully – I’m finally giving up AirPlay, it’s just not reliable,… I tooth my music blue now, only. 

** «Gonzo» might not be the apt*** word, but I wanted to use it anyway. (I just read the first paragraph about it in Wikipedia (as much as I got to read of «Nova Express», which is not by Hunter S. Thompson, I know.))

*** «Apt» might not be the apt word, I just google-translated it.

Doctor Strange

4 out of 5 stars

I’m not even mad…

…not even mad that «Doctor Strange’s» script is a bit shallow and the characters are not as rich as I’d hoped them to be.
I’m not even disappointed that this time, Marvel can’t quite pull it off: At least not as masterfully as they’ve done before in «Thor» and «Guardians of the Galaxy», when they obliterated any doubt that without any question, a norse god or a talking, dancing tree weren’t just a good idea, but just belonged on that screen, in that movie, in that story, at that time.

So yes, compared to other movies in the MCU, «Doctor Strange» might be on the weaker side, but it sure looks pretty. And sometimes, (given a solid, but not great structure) that’s enough. Yeah, I know, form follows function, blablabla… but just look at it, it’s so shiny!

This is the moment where I have to admit that my brain’s probably still numbed by the film’s orgasmic kaleidoscopic visual bombardment:
While I may have gotten used to Marvel’s almost perfect, nearly unperceivable visual effects (e.g. «Civil War’s» airport battle), in «Doctor Strange» you really SEE the visuals at work, doing the heavy lifting – in a good way, even artful. There were hints of this kind of imagery in «Ant-Man» but never before where they used to create such an abstract, rich and layered world as in «Doctor Strange». 
We were promised a psychedelic trip – the Doctor’s universe sure delivers. The magic realm just looks fantastic, and for once, even the 3D almost seems justified.

Although the movie is by far neither as funny nor as clever as «Civil War» and kinda feels like the introvert cousin of «Iron Man», it’s still a most entertaining, highly recommendable and enjoyable ride.

And not to forget: The Cumberbatch is strong in this one! He’s all the Doctor Strange I could wish for… and more: As I remember reading the comics back in the day, Strange was quite the earnest, even stiff dandy. But Cumberbatch does his magic and nails it: He makes the character his own while staying true to the source material. Grounded, but surreal. Tragic (a bit), but funny (very).

Seeing the glass half full, maybe I’m even grateful that this time, Marvel did themselves a favour by lowering their own high bar a tiny little bit, bringing the audience’s expectations back to a reasonable level for the coming last bits of Marvel’s phase three, especially the unfathomable «Infinity War».

And yes, there are TWO post-credit scenes.

Luke Cage

2.5 out of 5 stars

Is it just me or are the Netflix-Marvel series getting slower and slower? I haven’t completely finished «Luke Cage» yet, but after experiencing the rather unmotivated and quite disappointing twist in one of the last episodes, I kind of wish the producers wouldn’t be as comfortable with their current modus operandi as they seemingly are (e.g. slow-paced drama instead of, well, a little bit of something else, too. A tiny little bit more trust in the viewer’s suspension of disbelief, maybe?)

Granted, as a white male living outside of the USA, I’m obviously not in the immediate focus group of «Luke Cage», and I must say, as far as I’m able to judge, they did a pretty solid job not to alienate folks like me completely. But while watching the episodes I always felt reminded of how little a clue I have of what it must be like to live in country still disrupted by racial tensions. (Not unlike watching «The Shield» or «The Wire», where I felt like I just crashed a party where I maybe, definitely didn’t belong.) Even listening to the wonderful soundtrack, I kept myself asking: Am I allowed to enjoy this music or do I not get to like it because I wouldn’t understand it anyway?

I guess it’s more than fair to give a black male his own show, hell, even the skinny dark haired chick got one, but it feels a little bit like… going through a checklist. Maybe not unsimilar to the creation of «Power Man» when he first was conceived in the comics in the midst of the blaxploitation-thingy of the 1970s. (Nothing wrong with that, I hope they’ll do that in the current presidential election.)

And of course, as always the characters and performances are superb (except the character in the above mentioned twist that felt really out of place) and the soundtrack and photography are well above average… But somehow I didn’t really feel that involved this time. It’s more like the next 007 movie: There is one available,… I’ve been waiting for it, so I’ll watch it. But that’s pretty much it, which is somewhat disappointing, as solid as «Luke Cage» as a whole may be.

I guess I’ll wait for the next caucasian, pale sorcerer to win me back. And not to forget: The references to some comics-related visuals alone make «Luke Cage» a must see for all comic book fans.

marvel-luke-cage-poster2

X-Men: Apocalypse

2 out of 5 stars

To go bald where no X-Man has gone before…

If anything, «X-Men: Apocalypse» is a mixed bag. Let’s call it a roller coaster: An exciting, but extremely uneven experience. Some really great moments carry on for just a little bit too long, some cringeworthy creative decisions lead into funny scenes. On one hand we get some gripping sequences stolen by the new characters, on the other hand I was left speechless by some unused, even wasted talent of the veterans (and villains). Especially Magneto (Michael Fassbender) seemed to be stuck in a much darker, more serious, and in the end, probably better movie. I liked Raven though, who didn’t seem to care too much in a natural way, which both fit her character and her real life counterpart (Jennifer Lawrence).

The X-Movies where always the ones I expected the least of; not including the first one, when the genre was still fresh and exciting. For a long time, this lack of expectation protected me against some serious disappointment – up until «Origins: Wolverine», which barely qualified as a movie.

x-men-apocalypse

On the bright side, compared to, let’s say «BvS», «Apocalypse» never felt like a mess. All the parts fit together somehow and I even got more than a few satisfying fan serving moments and references to past and future plot points,… it all just felt somewhat clunky.

The problem at hand may be that I didn’t feel much of anything, like in most Bryan Singer pictures – I’m often impressed but rarely moved. In contrast, the movies of the «real» MCU may be as constructed and schematic as they come, but I always feel at home, and I keep caring for the characters in the midst of spectacular action and gripping storytelling.

While watching «X-Men: Apocalypse», I think I spotted a solid movie shining through the cracks, but this film wasn’t it. Apocalypse’s design sadly doesn’t look much more convincing than in the first trailer, the character motivations where all over the place, and Olivia Munn didn’t seem to be enjoying her part as much as I thought she would be.

Was I not entertained?! Oh, who am I kidding? I surely was!

Sadly, I never recognized the quality and coherence I thought I saw in «First Class». Not in «Days of Future Past», which was a small step in the wrong direction, and surely not in this one. But I still kind of liked them all. Not like a «real» Marvel flick, but you now, it’s still my childhood heroes,… on the fracking big screen, with costumes, powers and all.

I may be giving this one some extra slack because it’ll hopefully be the last one in the current installment, and it did a surprisingly solid job in tying it all together, bringing the story to a satisfying end.

If you dare, check out my old review of X-Men 3.