The Forgotten Marvel Film: Japanese Spider-Man Movie Review

We live in a day and age when the market is flooded with superhero movies, most of which are based on Marvel properties. You have the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the X-Men Cinematic Universe, and the standalone Spider-Man movies. However, these universes only contain a small fraction of all Marvel movies. There are tons of films made by other studios, most of which aren’t connected to any pre-existing universe.

However, there’s one Marvel film that most people don’t even know exists: The Japanese Spider-Man movie. This film was a based off a show that aired in Japan, often referred to as “Supaidaman”. Supaidaman was about a young motocross racer named “Takuya Yamashiro, who would don a suit very similar to the Spider-Man we all know and love.

However, Takuya Yamashiro was a far different Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was. Proclaiming himself as the “Emissary of Hell”, he would eradicate the monsters he faced in often excruciating ways. At the same time, Supaidaman would have to deal with the evil “Iron Cross Army”. The series proved successful enough to get adapted into a short film, one that happened to get a theatrical release. The film itself was paired with a bunch of other short films, all being shown during the same screening.

This 20 minute film took place sometime between episodes 10 and 11, and featured the introduction of Supaidaman’s new ally: Juzo Mamiya. Juzo fakes a kidnapping of Takuya’s friends and family in an attempt to get Supaidaman to work with him. I mean, there are better ways to recruit someone than resorting to faking a kidnapping. Still, Juzo’s an Interpol Agent with an important mission, which is apparently too important to worry about things like “logic”.

After being recruited to assist Interpol, Supaiddaman uses his GIANT FREAKING ROBOT to find a giant aquatic monster named “Sea-Devil”. Yes, I made it sound way cooler than it actually is. After a not-so-impressive giant monster fight, Sea-Devil is killed and the evil Iron Cross Army temporarily retreats.

That’s pretty much the movie, as it doesn’t have much substance to it. This isn’t too surprising, considering this film was basically just another episode. It had the same budget as the 1978 show it spun off from, which wasn’t a lot at all. Fight scenes were stiff and awkward, while the special-effects were incredibly cheap.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t do some cool things, because it certainly does. I loved the trippy intro, which involved Supaidaman being trapped in some weird wacky room with some kind of strange being. It’s a trippy sequence, one that feels out of place in this stereotypical superhero movie. I also loved the over-the-top acting, especially how Supaidaman delivers all his lines with great intensity.

So yeah, that was the Japanese Spider-Man/Supaidaman movie. It’s a strange oddity, and what is essentially a bonus episode for a series that only aired in Japan. It’s certainly not a bad film, but it lacks the charm and uniqueness of all the Spider-Man films that would come after it. While the film isn’t terrible, it isn’t anything to write home about. I only recommend checking it if you’re a hardcore Supaidaman fan.

Advertisements

Ready Player One Review: A Good, Yet Very Flawed Film

ready-player-one-poster-1157633
“And I got long legs, very very long legs!”

I know I’m technically a month late to this, but I recently saw Ready Player One. This is one of the biggest nerd movies to come out this year, and it ended up getting a lot of buzz because of it. I thought I’d finally give my two cents on the movie, and what I thought of Steven Spielberg’s “newest” movie. The film revolves around this young man named Wade Watts, a guy who enters a MMORPG named “The Oasis”.

Wade plays the game in an attempt to obtain the ultimate “Easter Egg”, an extremely hard to find and obscure secret that will let the winner inherit a vast fortune. Along the way, he has to deal with the corporate goons at “IOI”, the various trials to get the special keys, and fighting his own romantic feelings for a woman he just met. Of course, the plot wasn’t the main draw of this film.

What really drew people to the movie was the egregious product-placement. By product placement, I don’t mean that they shoved a Pepsi Machine or a Taco Bell in there. I’m referring to the film’s various cameos and references, all of which are from hundreds of different franchises. This film features tons and tons of things that nerds will remember, essentially making it one massive crossover between all these properties.

Games like VRChat, and to a lesser extent Miitopia also had this gimmick going for them. Unfortunately, the nerd references kind of work against this film quite a bit. The film is packed with way too many references, to the point where the film lacks an identity. Most of the cool stuff in the movie only happens in The Oasis, while the real world stuff is always boring and tedious in this film. Worse still, most of the epic action sequences during The Oasis sequences involve the characters and things that were made by other people.

The film is the cinematic equivalent of knocking two action figures together and having them fight. The film definitely excels in bringing that kind of experience to table, but squanders it in other areas. One thing that I felt was holding the movie back was its protagonist. Wade Watts is a young man who is somehow one of the greatest players in The Oasis.

It’s never explained why he is so skilled at the game, he just kind of is. There’s no backstory behind how he came up with the character, the struggles to get this far, nothing. When the movie began, I felt like I was watching a sequel that was just barely explaining the first film. Most of the explanation goes towards the world, story, and setup. Not so much the characters and how they got to where they were.

At times, Wade feels like a character who was meant to act as an avatar for an audience, to help them get used to this crazy world. Unfortunately, Wade ends up coming off as insufferable. He’s way too overpowered at in the game, and has very few flaws. The few flaws he has are easily and quickly shoved aside, so that the movie can show us how great he is at games.

While he does struggle in certain parts of the film, he just as easily finds a way to overcome them. Both in real-life and in the game, Wade manages to skirt past dangerous and life-ending situations in some of the most nonsensical and plot convenient ways. There’s even a part where something really tragic happens to him in the movie, but he rarely brings it up aside from one or two instances. He doesn’t even really seem that sad about it, which feels like bad writing if you ask me.

The villain isn’t much better, due mostly to how he is portrayed in the film. The main adversary was a generic businessman, one who was so bland and formulaic that I couldn’t even remember his name by the end of it. To put things in perspective, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World had 7 different villains, all of which had personalities and were memorable. I could remember all their names, and tell you 3 things about each of them. The kicker is that most of those villains only appeared for about 3-10 minutes each.

In this film, the villain is just kind of there. Unfortunately, you’ll notice that this is kind of a trend with a lot of Spielberg films directed at children and teenagers. Earlier, I said that this was Spielberg’s “newest” film, with “newest” being in quotations. The reasons for this is simple, Spielberg’s directing and writing style for films aimed at younger audiences is a bit too bland.

Most of these films are aimed at kids/teens and have Spielberg’s usual plot outline associated with them: Young man with big dreams is forced to on an adventure, while being chased by some big organization or the government. The young man meets an enigmatic figure, befriends an unlikely group of friends, and then goes on a quest to make his dreams come true. That’s basically the plot of Ready Player One, E.T., and A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Now, if this were just the first time he’s done it, this wouldn’t be a problem. The thing is that this appears to be one of the only kinds of films that Spielberg knows how to write, since he seems to think that it’s all teens and kids enjoy. Meanwhile, the films Spielberg makes for adults are his true masterpieces, where more of his effort seems to go. Which gives me the feeling that Spielberg seems to have more respect for his older movie-going audience, more-so than the younger audience that sees his other films like E.T. and Hook.

With all that being said, does this mean I hate the movie? Not at all, I actually got it was pretty good. Not a truly great film by any stretch of the imagination, but one that is a fairly fun watch throughout. The effects are great, as are the action scenes. Despite the films severe lack of originality and uniqueness, the way the various parts of this world are designed are just nice to look at.

The opening to this film reminded me a lot of the opening to Summer Wars, both of which were brimming with strange worlds and oddities. The Oasis is basically one big mashup of everything in nerd culture, and it just works well. Fight sequences are also bad-ass and awesome, and are the center-point of this film.

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the protagonist or villain, I dug several of the side characters. Aech was probably one of my favorites, being the main character’s sassy best friend in The Oasis. I also dug Daito and Sho, two recurring characters who’s game personas have this awesome Japanese vibe going on. There was also i-R0k, a recurring henchman for the main antagonist, one who I found to be a very silly and endearing nerd character.

Also, as intrusive as the references are, they kind of do spice up the film at times. It’s fun to see your favorite hero or villain suddenly show up in the background, or a famous movie character deciding to attack our heroes. The second key challenge felt like it spent too much time on retelling a well-known movie in a short amount of time, but was enjoyable enough that it didn’t feel too stale.

By far, the best character was James Halliday. He’s a socially awkward weirdo, one who created a vast financial empire through the creation of his games. I’d say more, but I don’t want to spoil the whole film for the few that haven’t see it yet. I think it’s about time I summed up my thoughts on what I thought of the film, since the post is long enough already.

Ready Player One is a good film, but mired by formulaic writing and its overabundance of product placement. It’s a solid experience, despite its flaws. Just be warned, what you’re getting is basically a mishmash of all these franchises you’re already invested in. It’s not going to rock your world, or revolutionize the way you see film.

It’s just another Spielberg film, albeit one that has a lot of effort and passion put into it at times. If you’re interested in nerd culture at all, I suggest at least giving it a watch if you get the chance. However, if you’re not a nerd, then I’m sure this movie won’t do much for you in terms of entertainment.

MV5BY2JiYTNmZTctYTQ1OC00YjU4LWEwMjYtZjkwY2Y5MDI0OTU3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTI4MzE4MDU@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_.jpg
Yep, that’s a poster for a Spielberg movie alright.

The Problem With Star Wars Movie Trailers

Something I haven’t talked about on this blog in quite some time is the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars is a sci-fi series that has been running for over 30 years now, and is one of the most well-known franchises in the world. Almost every film makes a killing at the box-office, even if the quality of some of its entries can be debatable. The age-old tales of space samurai and evil cyborg dads has captured the imagination of multiple generations.

So, it’s unsurprising that the series has gotten more of a resurgence in the past few years. We’ve had new movies, new comics, new cartoons, new games, on top of much needed updates to older Star Wars games. There’s never a lack of content for Star Wars fans, it seems. With all the new movies out, of course there’s going to be trailers and advertisements coming out by the dozens.

Unfortunately, Star Wars seems to have a hit a snag when it comes to trailers. A lot of Star Wars movie trailers seems to be over-obsessed with showing the same elements over and over again. Look at the trailers for the last 3 Star Wars films. We’ve got scenes in the trailers depicting one of the heroes turning to the dark side, a bunch of classic characters we haven’t seen in years, and a ton of scenes that are taken out of context just to put butts in seats.

Now, this isn’t anything new. Trailers are meant to entice viewers by showing them all these amazing things, which isn’t exclusive to movie trailers. The thing is that Star Wars doesn’t need to do this, because it will sell really well regardless. Lately, I feel the newer Star Wars trailers have been obsessed with showing you the best parts of the movie.

While I liked Star Wars: Rogue One, I felt that the trailer showed a bit too much of the epic action sequences. Likewise, the trailer for “The Last Jedi” felt as though it was trying too hard to emulate the feel of Rogue One’s trailer. Both trailers seem to feature a lot of the elements I mentioned earlier, such as heroes turning to the dark side and out of context scenes.

I feel like the Star Wars trailers are being designed to be too enticing nowadays, which goes against how they were in the past. Sure, those trailers were still meant to entice people, but they were done differently. They were obsessed with showing you a ton of nostalgia, the best scenes in the movie, and characters joining the bad guys. These trailers were great because they were well-written, showed enough of the film to be interesting, and weren’t obsessed with shoving nostalgia in your face.

Say what you will about the prequels, but Episode III had a truly amazing trailer. The best part is that the trailer was entertaining in its own right, without showing too many of the biggest and best scenes in the film. I feel that trailer had a good mix of enticing, exciting, and exhilarating content. Heck, I remember the first time I saw this trailer in a theater full of people. Right when the clips started playing on the big screen, I heard a man in back shout “YEEEEEEEEEEEAH!” as loud as he possibly could.

This factors into another problem I have with Star Wars trailers, which has to do more with the movie side of things. Nowadays, Disney is focused on giving us a new Star Wars movie each year. That means we have a steady stream of new Star Wars movie trailers on a yearly basis, taking away a lot of the mysticism of a trailer releasing.

You’ll never hear a person shouting merrily when a Star Wars trailer starts playing on the big-screen nowadays. It’s just an awkward silence, with the occasional cough or kid screaming in the background. The thing is, a trailer doesn’t define how good the movie itself will be. A good trailer could be attached to a bad film, or vice versa. While I do like the newer Star Wars movies, I just can’t get behind the advertising.

The repetitive use of certain elements, characters, or story beats causes these trailers to lose some of the “magic” that Star Wars would normally evoke. I’ll still keep watching the Star Wars movies as long as they are entertaining, but I could care less for trailers that are shoveled out for them. While most people may enjoy said advertisements, I’m just sick of the rigmarole circling around them.

How To Properly Adapt Anime Into American Movies

In recent years, there’s been a rise of anime-to-film adaptations. A lot of these are done in Japan, however America has a bunch of these as well. Unfortunately, the ones made by America tend to not be very good. That’s the general consensus, as well as being an opinion that I share. It’s honestly difficult to make anime appeal to modern movie-going audiences.

Most film studios struggle with finding that right balance between being faithful to the source material, and also being entertaining to casual audiences. So, I thought up some ways that film studios could better adapt anime to film. Please keep in mind that I have no experience in film-making. I feel I’ve seen enough films, both American and Japanese, to have a working knowledge of how both countries produce their films. So, allow me to list ways on how I think anime should properly be adapted to American film.

1. Skip Live-Action and Just Make It CGI Instead

For some reason, film studios over here in the west think it’s a good day to adapt anime to live-action. Why? What made anime (and cartoons, for that matter) so good was the fact that they were animated. Since they were animated, this allowed for the audience to get more engrossed in the story. In animation, you can do all these amazing things that aren’t possible in live-action.

When you take something animated and put it into a form it’s not suited for, you will have an inferior product. Reboots and adaptations can work, but it’s very difficult to adapt it into a different medium. Take Death Note for example. Both the anime and manga were unique, in that it painted the rivalry between the supernatural murderer Kira (who’s real name is Light) and the one man who is destined to expose him: The enigmatic L.

Seeing the two constantly attempt to outwit each other and play mind-games was eerily similar to the rivalry between Sherlock Holmes and Moriarti. The American movie changed this greatly, sadly. In the American Death Note, L has supernatural level intellect and knows everything about everyone, with little to no explanation. Light have become a generic supervillain halfway through the film, and generally lacks the nuance his original character had.

It’s hard to translate the original struggle of these characters to film. The various quirks, personality traits, and line of thinking for these characters  can be a bit too much for Western audiences. Especially when some of these traits and personalities are ingrained in a culture that may feel alien to other audiences. The result of this is that characters have to be radically changed, in order to not alienate audiences.

However, what if American anime films were done in CGI? If this were done, a lot of problems with translation become less of an issue. When something is animated, your level of disbelief goes considerably. That’s because in animation, your allowed to really get away with more. In animation, you’re allowed to bend reality more and make something crazy.

Anime films would work well in CGI, because you’d be able to marry elements of American cartoons with anime to create something unique. You can have characters that still strongly resemble their Japanese counterparts, but at the same time alter their designs just enough to appeal to American audiences.

On top of this, keeping these films animated allows for better action scenes. One of the leading problems with films like Dragon Ball Evolution, as that they were never able to capture the ferocity and intense moments that the series was capable of. However, having CGI animation would allow for fight scenes to flow much better.

Honestly, making American CGI anime seems like a no-brainer at this point, especially due to how bad CGI anime can be in Japan. CGI animation for anime is pretty weak, with most anime studios not able to match the quality of even low-budget American productions. Making CGI anime for American audiences would allow for more quality CGI animation to make it to Japan. Imagine getting CGI movies of Dragon Ball and One Piece, made using stunning animation from studios like Dreamworks.

Now, one may be wondering: “Wait, aren’t there already a ton of successful live-action anime adaptations?” Yes, there is! However, these were already made in Japan. These shows were made in their home country, and by people who know enough of the source-material to do it right. On top of this, Japanese audiences are able to connect with the sillier and campier elements of said films much better than we can. Regardless, I feel CGI would be the way to go for further American adaptations.

2. A Solid Soundtrack

For some reason, the music in most of these anime adaptations are… Bad. There’s no dancing around it, they are terrible! Very rarely do they ever use the show’s original theme song, and tend to use licensed tracks that don’t fit well with the work they are trying to adapt. Ghost In The Shell’s reboot as an exception, as this film had a surprisingly good soundtrack.

The problem is, most films don’t follow suit. A soundtrack is a minor thing in a film, but it really enhances the mood. When you put in a ton of licensed tracks into a production willy-nilly, then you’re not producing a solid soundtrack. You’re just manufacturing a soundtrack based on popular norms at the time.

I’m not saying they should include the theme song and original tracks from said show in each film adaptation, but they should at least attempt to find a middle-ground. Why not put some original tracks in the film, along with licensed tracks, as well as songs from the original anime? Get a good mixture going, make something that sounds unique and captures the feeling of both the new and old versions.

3. A Good Mix Of Both Voice Actors and Film Actors

Death_Note_(film)_poster.jpg
This is how you do a live-action version of an anime!

This one correlates more to the first one I listed. I feel that if a CGI anime film is made, then it’s best to go with a mix of both film actors and voice actors. Filling a cast with big-name celebrities will garner interest, but if the passion isn’t there then the characters will fall flat. That’s why, I feel tossing in some voice actors in the production would help mix things up.

Voice actors are better at getting into the role of anime characters than celebrities are, since a fair amount of them specialize in anime voice-acting. Mixing in people like Yuri Lowenthal and Troy Baker would definitely help spice up the cast. Heck, maybe even bring in some people that did voices on the dub of the anime! Kind of like when the English dub voice actors dubbed over the Japanese live-action Death Note movie.

4. Make It True To The Source Material, While At The Same Time Being It’s Own Thing

A lot of complaints levied towards films based off anime, is that most of them have little to do with the source material. These changes are often made to not alienate the audiences watching it. However, I feel some elements can be be mixed with new ones to help balance things out.

If you change too many things, you get a clumsy carbon copy like “Dragon Ball: Evolution”. If you don’t change enough things, you a get a rehash like “Ghost In The Shell 2017”. This is why a balance needs to be found. Making it too different or too similar won’t work, it needs to be equal parts a reboot and a standalone story.

The Speed Racer movie was the one film that came the closest to this ideal. It was a live-action film that felt like the zany fast-paced anime, but also had its own unique story-arc. Of course, Speed Racer was far from a perfect adaptation, but it did enough things well to warrant interest.

In Summation

In my opinion, I think a truly good anime-to-film adaptation would require these things:

  1. The film should use CGI animation in place of live-action.
  2. The film needs a soundtrack that combines licensed tracks, original music, and music from the anime it is based one.
  3. The film should use a mix of both voice actors and film actors, if it goes the CG route.
  4. The film needs to find the right balance between being an adaptation and being a reboot. It can’t be just a rehash, and it can’t be something completely different either. It needs to be its own thing, while being true to the original.

Again, this is just opinion-based. I’ve never seen an anime film that uses these elements, so this is just speculation on if these elements would work in an adaptation. I think this could work, but it would greatly depend on the production team behind it. What are you guys’ thoughts on this? America is going to keep attempting to adapt anime into film, so we aren’t going to see it stop any time soon. What do you guys think should be done with future adaptations of anime?

Pacific Rim 2 Uprising: Why I’m Excited

Final_Four_Jaegers.jpg
Only half of these robots become important in the film, that’s a rather sad fact.

Believe it or not, when it comes to new movies I tend not to get that excited about them. I tend to be this way when it comes to films, unlike with video-games. With video-games, I can get a bunch on sale for a few bucks. When you go to the theater, you have to pay 15 bucks for a single film. So, I tend to mostly play games as opposed to going to to the theater to see all the new films. Their sadly just isn’t enough new and interesting stuff to entertain me.

This all changed in 2013, when I saw a film that was surprisingly refreshing. Pacific Rim was a love-letter to fans of the giant robot genre, and one of those few modern films that I can say I truly loved. I’m not calling Pacific Rim a modern masterpiece or anything. It’s a film about giant robots, who are being piloted by humans, and having to fight an alien menace. This film is almost as cheesy as Independence Day or Starship Troopers, yet it’s somehow really impressive and fun.

People forget that a movie doesn’t to be perfect or amazing to be a great film, the mark of a truly great film is being unique. I can’t think of too many giant robot movies out there, aside from Transformers and Real Steel. Nothing like Pacific Rim was really out at the time, at least not on the same scale.

Pacific Rim was this rare film, a film that emulated old mecha anime and managed to be its own thing. Humans pilot mechs known as “Jaegers”, fight giant monsters known as “Kaiju, while an AI that sounds like Glados from Portal gives them advice. It was something different, maybe a bit too different for Western audiences.

The film sadly did not do well in the West, barely breaking even and didn’t make up for the productions. Thankfully, the film did amazingly well overseas! It made a killing in countries like Japan and China, to the point where the filmmakers were given the go-ahead for a sequel.

Next year we are finally getting that sequel, a whopping five years after the original. After all, a film of this scale and magnitude takes time. Am I excited for this film? Oh, definitely! However, their are a few things that have raised some red flags for me. For one thing, the film is titled “Pacific Rim: Uprising”. You could not come up with a more generic sub-title for a film, even if you tried!

The moniker of “Uprising” has been used in so many properties that I’m surprised it hasn’t become a running joke yet. That’s more of a minor concern, I’m more concerned about the director. Steven S. DeKnight does have talent, he’s worked on some great shows such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Heck, he was even the showrunner for the Netflix Daredevil show!

Thing is, it’s different to jump from running a smaller budget TV show, to directing a high budget action film. Especially a film with a large budget and a massive audience of fans worldwide. To be fair, most modern big-budget films now are handled by small-time directors and writers. Deadpool and 10 Cloverfield Lane are examples of this done right.

Still, it’s not gonna be the same without Guillermo Del Toro directing. The man brought a unique sense of charm to the first film, and he’ll directorial presence will certainly be missed. Still, I’m going to give Steve the benefit of the doubt and see what he makes. Regardless of the quality of the film, it’s still gonna sell like hot-cakes in Japan again.

So, even if the film turns out to be bad, their will still be a good turn-out for it. Do I want the film to be bad? Of course not! Even if it is bad though, people will still most likely show up for it. I do hope it is a good film, despite the change in directors and its rather generic title.

Pacific Rim is a film that deserves to do well and it needs more attention. I think everyone needs to see this film when it comes out, because the hard-working crew behind it need all the attention they can get. Pacific Rim is one of those few films that manages to be entertaining, merging a cheesy and somewhat silly story with intense action scene and amazing special effects. 4 years later and Pacific Rim still stands as one of the nicest looking big-budget films I’ve seen in years.

In my opinion, Pacific Rim is a good example of how to do an original property. They did their own thing, while paying homage to a genre that was mostly unfamiliar with a lot of Americans. They took chances and they did something new, making one of the best robot movies ever in the process. In fact, I can’t think of too many robot films that come close to matching its quality! Except maybe I. Robot, that movie was pretty dope.

My Personal Opinion On Spiderman: Homecoming

So, I recently saw Spider-Man: Homecoming a few days back, and I wanted to give a bit of a review on it. Not a full-sized Sweet As Syrup review, but more just my personal thoughts on the film. For those of you who don’t know what the deal with this film is, it’s Sony’s attempt as “reviving” the Spider-Man movie brand. You see, the last film made a ton of cash, but not as much as Sony was hoping for.

As a result, they handed the reigns of the series over to Marvel and Disney, in order to make a Spider-Man film that can sell well to audiences again.  This eventually lead to Spider-Man’s appearance in the “Captain America: Civil War” crossover film, and eventually lead to the creation of this new film.

So, what is Spider-Man about? Well, I’d tell you all about the character, but the film decides to skip all the origin stuff. While I’m glad it did so, I still feel that certain people watching this will have no idea who Spidey is or how he got his powers. Sure, it’s common knowledge, but the film dances around his origin so much. There are very few references to Uncle Ben, the mugger who shot him, or the radioactive spider who bit Peter.

So, to sum up the film without spoiling it, let me give you the run-down. Peter Parker is Spider-Man and has dreams of joining The Avengers. Peter wants to essentially give up on his civilian life, and essentially be Spider-Man full-time. This is definitely an interesting twist, in some ways it feels like an inversion of one of Spider-Man 2’s sub-plots. Sadly, Homecoming does no do as much with the concept as you’d think.

So, while dealing with his home and school life, Peter must also content with a bunch of armored thugs on the street. It turns out that Adrian Toomes (played by Val Kilmer) has stolen alien tech and is using it to build powerful weapons. He sells these to thugs on the street, and also has a cabal of henchmen doing his dirty work. Toomes isn’t afraid to get involved himself, and has also built this really cool bird-suit. Taking the moniker of “The Vulture” he sets out to steal stuff, so he can support his family.

That’s about as much of the plot as I’ll discuss, since I don’t want to go into major spoiler territory. Now, I’d say this film is pretty good. Solid characters, entertaining story, fantastic action sequences, and a very likable villain help make this film a good watch. However, we also have a film that is extremely flawed at times.

For one thing, the film is stuffed with way too many jokes. I’m okay with a Spider-Man film having some jokes here or there, but they went overboard with this film. The first half of the film just felt overstuffed with comedy bits, even when serious plot elements were happening. While the humor was generally entertaining, the film didn’t shy away from using stale and dated internet memes.

Worse than the rather jokey nature of the first half of the film, was just Spider-Man in general. This version of the character was laughably weak, and had to be bailed out of almost every situation. When he wasn’t getting saved, he was inadvertently causing the disaster and then fixing it. I get it, this is supposed to be a young Peter Parker learning how to be a hero. However, there was never a point in the film where I felt like Peter really earned his victories.

Even other teenage incarnations of Spider-Man were more competent than he was. That’s not to say he never did any AMAZING or SPECTACULAR things, but more often than not it was from situations he caused by accident. A good example of the disappointment that came with Spider-Man was his fights against The Vulture. Not once in this film did Peter ever manage to beat down Vulture. It got to the point where Peter’s victory against the villains felt completely hollow.

Another thing I did not like was how weak the finale felt. Without giving anything away, Spidey just kinds of wins while barely doing anything in that final fight. The finale just never felt satisfying, and I sat there just expecting more. Epic things did happen during said ending, but it wasn’t enough to make it feel like a truly good finale. Compare this to Spider-Man 1 or 2, which had some fantastic endings with extremely satisfying fights and stakes.

Now, I’ve done a lot of nitpicking and over-analyzing on this film thus far, to the point where one may think I hate it. Far from it, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The characters were interesting and fun enough to keep me engaged, and most of them were nearly perfect in their portrayals. I say “most of them”, because I couldn’t stand the portrayals of certain characters like Shocker and Flash Thompson in this film.

The film also had a really rocking soundtrack, and some fantastic special effects. The thing is, this film could’ve been a whole better. The problem is that this film played it too safe. It didn’t put as much punch into the film as a whole, which left the film lacking stakes in many areas. The hero was under-powered, the villains were just guys with powerful tech, and the adults’ only purpose in this film seemed to be telling Peter how he was screwing up.

I think this film did do what it set out to accomplish: Reinvent Spider-Man, make him closer to his comic book counterpart, and make the character popular with the movie-going public once more. Even though I had problems with this film, I respect that the filmmakers went out of their way to present a more modern and faithful adaptation of the source material. If had to give this film any sort of numerical score, it would most likely be a 7/10. A pretty good superhero flick to watch on the weekend with pals, but nothing much beyond that.

The Original Tron: Is It Good Or Bad?

Dumont (1)
I can’t even begin to imagine how heavy that silly suit was to wear! Poor old guy…

This is a question I posed to myself while watching through the original Tron movie yesterday. I’m not sure if I had seen the whole film before watching the film, as certain things I didn’t seem to recall. I have seen bits and pieces of this film beforehand, but this was my first real time sitting through the entire film. So… What did I think of it? Well, it was okay.

That’s the short answer, the long answer is that I’m divided on what I really thought of this film. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Tron is a cult-classic 80s film. It was made by Disney and featured Jeff Bridges in the leading role, and was based off an arcade game released to coincide with the film. I guess you could say that the Tron franchise was one of the first multimedia franchises ever!

The film revolved around a young programmed named Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges) being sucked into a computer world after attempting to hack a database in order to get back some important data. From there, Kevin gets captured by a rogue control program called the MCP, and has to deal with his lacky Sark. On top of this, Kevin also has to deal with an army of opposing programs, and get back to the real world.

Now, that seems like a lot to pack into one film. Sure, it’s only a few sub-plots, but they seem substantial enough to warrant a fairly long run-time. Surprisingly, Tron is only about 90 minutes long. That’s a pretty short film for such a extensive plot! Due to the film’s short length, it ends up making the plot feel rushed.

As soon as Kevin enters the computer world, everything going on in the real world becomes superfluous. We don’t revisit the real world until the last few minutes of the film, and it’s really just to wrap things up. Stuff just kind of happens in this film, sometimes with little explanation. A lot of stuff that happens in the computer world is not fleshed out at all. For example, there’s a part where Flynn and his new allies drink a strange kind of virtual water inside this computer world. What is the water? Where did it come from? Why do programs need to drink it? None of this is ever explained.

Another example is this part where they show these weird computer bugs, and one character warns not to go near them. These bug things are never seen or mentioned again, and are heroes never encounter them. Why bring up a potential threat for our heroes and not really do anything with it? Now, do I think the story and is terrible? It’s shoddy at times, but it definitely is enjoyable.

Characters work off each other really well and the acting is top-notch. The first 30 minutes spent in the real world (despite its superfluous nature) are actually really well-written. It’s just when our heroes enter the computer world is when things start to lose steam. Speaking of the computer world, the next part of the film I found to be divisive was how it looked.

Tron’s most unique aspect at the time was that it was one of the first films ever to use CGI. Tron used a bizarre mixture of several different special effects and animation styles in order to create a world that felt diverse. Unfortunately, these sequences look horribly dated. I noticed on Netflix that the film had a 1 and a half star as its rating, which may be influenced mostly by how it looks.

The CGI is horribly dated, and looks amateurish by today’s standards. I can kind of forgive that, mostly due to this being a very early attempt at such a style. However, I have to say that the 2D sequences weren’t implemented that well into the structure of this world.  The constant use of different styles and effects made this move feel more like an experimental film than anything else.

To be fair, this film was an experiment. It was an attempt to craft a world that felt like it was inside a computer, and even depicted computer games as a gladiatorial death-match. Other series like Reboot feel like they borrowed a lot from Tron, and to this day it remains wholly unique.

The thing is that Tron just does not look good by today’s standards, and the plot is just riddled with holes and lacks explanations for a lot of its mechanics.  Tron has good characters, but fails to expand most of them. While some things about this film I find pretty cool, (like how every computer program is played by the same actor who created them in-universe) it just lacked so much attention to detail.

Now, do I think Legacy is better? In some ways, I certainly do. Legacy has better effects, a more well-designed world, better action sequences, and a far better soundtrack. Behind all of Legacy’s fancy effects and amazing soundtrack, is a film with fairly stale characters and a somewhat bland and formulaic plot. While the original Tron’s plot had a lot wrong with it, you could still get a fair bit of enjoyment out of it.

So, in the end, I’m divided on Tron. Maybe I’m just spoiled by modern film and television, but I find it so difficult to get behind this film. I guess I just prefer Tron: Uprising, and how fleshed out its world felt when compared to this film. Still, Tron is something to behold for people who have never seen it. Still, it’s impressive for the era, not so much now. One last thing I want to mention before heading out: Why were they wearing togas? No, seriously! Half the characters had togas over their computer suits, is the inside of the computer based on Greece or something? I just don’t get it!