Reviews

‘Dune’ Review

Denis Villeneuve has out done himself with his latest outing. Delivering us with an epic science-fiction space opera that makes you believe in cinema again.

Dune (2021) - IMDbFeature adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel, about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.

Let’s just this out of the way first. Dune is masterfully and beautifully directed by Denis Villeneuve, cementing himself as perhaps the new King of science fiction. From Arrival, Blade Runner 2049 to now Dune, each new experience he has grown as a film-maker, and continued to submerge us into new depths of some of the most stunning visuals I have ever seen.

Escape reality and enter into the world of Arrakis, where the land will literally kill you. Whether it’s the heat, that is too hot for any man to survive or the sand worms that will swallow you up in a matter of seconds. It would be like watching a man step on an ant, that’s how small these people are compared to the great sand worms of Arrakis. The Atreides are a nobel family that have been sent to planet Arrakis to make peace and finally bring some sort of balance to their universe. Duke Leto (Oscar Issac) Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and their son Paul (Timotheé Chalamet) make up this royal family that is home to one of the greatest armies in the entire universe. Leading this army is Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) who plays a stiff but intense close ally to The Duke, and their fearless compainion Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa). Both of these dudes just shine in this film. I certainly believe this is the strongest outing of Jason Momoa’s career and will go even further and say he is the best part of this movie.

With Dune comes a big responsibility, this is a beloved franchise of novels that fans have been waiting to see a great live action adaptation take place. There is so much lore, so much backstory and characters being flushed out especially in the part of the novel that this movie is covering. I wondered how they would accomplish this ginormous task. Glossing over certain things and not developing certain characters more was bound to happen, but I’ll say this. They do it so organically in the movie, not cramming all the information down your throat, and let you get immersed into this world before dropping a bunch of exposition on you. It was a herculean task to bring this novel to life and they did it flawlessly I believe.

So what exactly is Dune all about? Two words, desert power. Paul is dreaming of a girl on Arrakis; Chani (Zendaya) and he’s not quite sure what his dreams truly mean. If you’re going into this movie expecting a ton of Zendaya I hate to break it to you, but she serves as mostly a music video girl, you’ll understand once you see it. But remember, this is only the beginning. This movie is all about Paul and his story about self-discovery and learning who he is truly meant to be. On one hand, Paul is bound to the throne after his father Duke. He is meant to be a great political leader and needs to learn how to not only lead but what is important in being a great leader. On the other hand his mother Lady Jessica, she is part of the Bene Gesserit, which is almost a secret society. They are basically witches, who use a higher power, “the voice” to control everything and everyone behind closed doors. Reserved for females only, the tide shifts when Jessica starts teaching Paul the ways of this unique and powerful gift. The world doesn’t run on Dukin’ Doughnuts anymore, but rather spice. It’s the most prized possession and when going to Arrakis a world full of it, Paul quickly realizes that it isn’t actually the most valued commodity on Arrakis, but rather its people, the Fremen. Banished to the underworld of this desert planet, they will ultimately play a vital role in changing the course of this intense power struggle.

Why is this movie so special? Because these are the exact kind of movies that are made when you think of movie theatres. The scope, the size, the sound, are all magnificent, it’s honest to god holy. See this on the biggest screen possible and you are actually being transported to another world. It all feels so rich and vast while not thinking “this is just one big CGI cluster-fuck.” How Denis Villeneuve is able to pull off such remarkable visual effects all while keeping his movie so grounded is beyond me. One of the things he does best in this movie, is making you realize how large the size of something is, whether it’s a space ship, an army marching towards their enemies or one of the breathtaking sand worms. His eye for focusing on one target that is rather small and surrounding it by just immense scale is truly world class film-making.

Dune is this generations Star Wars, hell the book was published before Star Wars and it’s clear that George Lucas was a fan of the material. There are so many parallels between the two, that it only makes sense. This is a science fiction masterpiece that will go down as one of the very best science fiction movies to ever be made. It is film-making at its finest and as I’m sitting here writing this review, we just got word of the Dune sequel and life is great, and movies are just back. Go see Dune.

I fully expect this movie to clean up at the Oscars, probably a clean sweep of every technical category and I won’t be shocked if both Ferguson and Chalamet are nominated for their acting, because both give emotional and raw performances.

Dune = 95/100

Reviews

‘Spider-Man Homecoming’ Review 

Tom Holland as Spider-Man is fantastic. The movie itself, just okay.

(MARVEL)

 

Ever wonder how Spider-Man gets around if there are no buildings for him to web-sling onto? Well that question is answered in his newest outing Spider-Man Homecoming. He does what anyone normal 15-year-old teenager would do, he simply runs. Remember in the old 60’s cartoon where Spidey would simply be able to sling away, even if there was nothing around him, and no one really batted an eye at this. Well they address it and they do so in spectacular fashion. From the very get-go I was pretty ho hum about all this, simply because, well, this is the third Spider-Man in 15 years. For me, Tobey Maguire made an outstanding Web Head, and I don’t ever see a Spider-Man movie topping Sam Raimi’s 2004 masterpiece that is Spider-Man 2. I was just never really invested in this new movie, don’t get me wrong, Tom Holland is a perfect fit, not only into the MCU, but to portray this iconic character. It’s just everything else that I was uneasy about, from the villain, to some character changes, and I just felt, that maybe he didn’t need a solo outing just yet. This was a fun movie, I enjoyed myself while watching it, but at the end of the day, it just didn’t stick with me like previous installments in the franchise. I just walked away and honestly couldn’t really remember any real memorable moments. I’m going against the grain on this one, but this movie was just meh for me and I’m going to tell you why.

It’s funny how Spider-Man was actually the best part about Captain America: Civil War; he stood out the most, and walking away from that movie, all I wanted was more MCU Spider-Man in my life. So when rumblings started happening about him getting his own movie, me and everyone else in the world was pretty excited. Especially after the Amazing Spider-Man franchise kind of fizzled out. I want to go on record and say Andrew Garfield, it was not your fault, and you’ll always have The Social Network. I loved Spider-Man’s dynamic with Tony Stark in Civil War, and when news broke that Iron Man himself would be playing a role in the next movie, well again I was all onboard. Next up Michael Keaton was going to be playing the villain, FANTASTIC, he’s the goddamn Batman, and I was excited to see him take on a villain role. When news broke that he was going to be playing Adrian Toomes aka The Vulture, well lets just say I was less than pleased. Spider-Man has one of the best rogues galleries in all of comics and you settle on that guy? I blame over saturation of Spider-Man movies, you couldn’t possibly have the Green Goblin again, or start the franchise off with Venom or Carnage. But really? Vulture? So all we could hear for the next six months were Birdman jokes… So for me that was the first misstep for the movie. And as it turns out, Marvel once again craps the bed in the villain department. Like I said above, Michael Keaton is awesome, and he tried his best to make a great villain, but there is just something always lacking when it comes to the MCU bad guys. I will admit, there is about a 10 min stretch in this movie, where he plays a really good bad guy, it’s after the sort of twist in the movie (which I won’t reveal), and it made for some really stressful 10 minutes. But other than that, I don’t know, something was missing, and maybe it’s just not the kind of Vulture I wanted in a Spider-Man movie. He was simply a guy in a bird mech suit. One thing I loved about Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man movies, was when he was in the suit it looked pretty real, and I feel like a lot of the stuff was semi-practical. In this, when Tom Holland was in his suit, 90 percent of the time, it looked like a video game. It honestly reminded me of one of those wacky wavy inflatable arm flailing tube men, his limbs kind of just seemed to go in all directions, and it bothered me. He just doesn’t look real when he’s in the costume and that’s not a good thing. It takes you out of the movie, and when he’s in the suit, that should be the most enjoyable part of the whole experience.

There is a ton of really good humor in this; it’s one of the funniest Marvel movies to date. I loved how Peter Parker is 15, and he’s experiencing high school drama and high school bullies and crushes. It makes you feel for the character more, where not only is he dealing with everyday problems, but also trying to be a superhero. And let me tell you, he kind of stinks at it. I did really like how they just showed Spider-Man doing hilarious stuff, like helping old ladies cross the street, and returning stolen bikes. He’s not an Avenger just yet, and he’s just being the good old friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The first 20 minutes of this movie are simply magnificent, I was laughing a ton, and I loved how he made like a video blog about his trip in Civil War. I just think the movie had a hard time figuring out if it wanted to be a movie about a superhero in high school, or a high school movie about a superhero. I enjoyed his pal Ned (Jacob Batalon) he provided great comedic moments, and at one point even utters the words “I’m looking at porn,” which in my recollection is the first mention of porn in the MCU, so kudos to Ned. I also loved how he wanted to be Spider-Man’s “guy in a chair” aka his Alfred, but it was funny to watch them tiptoe around that, because obviously they wouldn’t say that in a Marvel movie. Liz (Laura Harrier) who plays Peter’s crush was good. They actually had some pretty good chemistry, and she has a lot going on in her life during this. Her storyline was really cool to see play out all the way through. We have MJ (Zendaya) and no that is NOT Mary Jane, but just Michelle. Is this the “new” MJ, I’m not so sure, but I know she was excellent in this. She was like really weird, cooky and pretty awkward, but provided some of the best comedic relief I can remember in the MCU. Do I think they will introduce the actual Mary Jane, yes I do, but for now I want to see where Zendaya’s character and her relationship with Peter goes. Marisa Tomei is back as Peter’s hot Aunt May. It’s actually so weird, but I can live with it, because she’s a super-star and does a really good job in this role. I will say this; they completely wasted Donald Glover, like what the actual hell? Donald Glover, wasted, I never thought I would utter those words. He’s in two scenes, and I’m pretty sure he was super baked for both of them. Or that’s just how it appeared to me. I don’t know if they scaled down his role after he landed a spot in the new Han Solo movie, but I was excited to see who he would be playing and well yeah, what a disappointment. Also give Hannibal Buress something more to do please. First he was wasted in Baywatch and now this? The man simply deserves better people. Now for the big guy Robert Downey Jr. himself. I wonder if Marvel execs just get down on their hands and knees every night and pray and thank god that he landed the role of Iron Man. Because I don’t think the MCU is a thing if he doesn’t. He steals every scene he’s ever in, and he pretty much is Tony Stark at this point. He was in the movie the perfect amount, and I can’t wait to see where his relationship with Peter goes. I have a feeling; Tony might become a Daddy soon! Those two are going to do some special things on screen together in Avengers: Infinity War, I’m telling you that right now.

I’ll give director Jon Watts some credit here, but realistically, I think anyone could have come in and directed this thing. Marvel finally got their hands on Spider-Man, I highly doubt they gave a single ounce of creative control to their director of choice, and that’s probably why they landed on Watts. The high school aspect of this movie has a real John Hughes type vibe to it, which I can get behind. I’m totally okay with a younger Peter Parker right now, he’s part of such a large universe that introducing all of his minor characters would have been a mistake. I like it when he’s a wise cracking teenager. Do I think Watts will return for the sequel, maybe? Do I feel like they should really go for it in the second installment and bring in a big name person, absolutely? There just wasn’t enough fat for me to chew on during this, stuff was happening sure, but the action wasn’t great and the third act was just a mess. Marvel’s biggest problem right now, well superhero movies in general is the big third act. The airplane sequence was such a big  mess, that half the time you don’t really know what’s going on. Spider-Man and Vulture are kind of just rolling around and there are about 100 edits in a row, and it really didn’t need to be that way. Keep it simple, do things that make Spider-Man so great, he barley beats up any bad guys in this thing.

Every time a trailer was released, I just knew something was up with this movie, and after seeing the movie. They showed the whole thing in those trailers. The big second act boat scene was ruined, which could have been a really cool moment, but I sat there thinking, that I have seen this about half a dozen times already, so why should I be impressed by this? And also, they tried so hard to recreate some magic from the train sequence in Spider-Man 2, and well good luck with that. I just wanted a special moment somewhere in this movie, and for me it never really came. We’ve had 6 Spider-Man movies since 2002 now, and material is somewhat running thin. All they really need to do is stick to the basics when it comes to this superhero; it’s really not hard to get this character right. I just think Marvel had a vision for what they wanted, and need Spider-Man for the bigger picture, this movie was just an easy way for them to make some quick cash. Am I excited for him to be an Avenger, and fight Thanos? Hell yes I am, I can’t wait to see him interact with all the other heroes, and maybe even become the next Iron Man. I have a funny feeling Tony Stark is going to adopt him, and well Tony will bite it, and leave everything to Peter. Ultimately becoming Iron Spider, just a theory. I’m ranking this behind Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. Really hoping we get to see Tom Hardy’s Venom and this incarnation of Spider-Man throw down. Lastly, did anyone else get a Her vibe, when he was talking to the A.I in his suit, or was that just me? Probably just me always is.

Check ya later,

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Spider-Man Homecoming = 83/100