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Spider-Man: Far From Home – Ranking Each Character Based On Likability

It feels like mere days ago that I was sat in the cinema watching the absolute chaos and climax that was Avengers: Endgame. Although we are twenty plus movies deep in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point, it really felt like the most impossible job in the world of film this year was going to be how to follow up that decade in the making extravaganza. Obviously, who do you call when the stakes are so incredibly high? Everybody’s favourite friendly neighbourhood superhero!

Picking up in the universe eight months after Bruce Banner reversed Thanos’s snap, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his fellow Vanished classmates are in the process of restarting the school year that they missed. Excited to embark on a European class trip to Venice, Paris, London and more, and eager to spark his romance with MJ (Zendaya), Peter finds his perfect plans interrupted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who enlists him to help fight a huge elemental fire monster threat alongside new superhero recruit Quentin Beck aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). But is Mysterio the real hero everyone believes him to be?

In terms of a follow up to Endgame, Marvel have done the perfect thing in going from one distinctly dramatic and earth shattering tone to an altogether more light and fluffy one. What do you do what you know you can’t match something straight away? You go fro the exact opposite. One of the most enjoyable elements of this new Spider-Man iteration is that it feels very light and breezy in the context of the wider MCU. Our lead characters are all cute teenagers dealing with teenage things, and in all honesty the moments I enjoy the most both in this and in Homecoming are those moments when the film is more of a YA comedy drama than a superhero flick.

This version of Peter Parker is an enjoyable character to spend time with, and his various companions are all great too. Where the film doesn’t quite match up to the majority of recent Marvel releases is in its CGI. Compared to the last few releases in the franchise, the action and CG work in Far From Home feels incredibly weightless and, to be honest, unimpressive. I grant you that Spider-Man in action is probably one of the most difficult superhero characters to make feel authentic, but there were certainly action sequences in the film that felt of a much lower quality than Marvel have treated us to in the past.

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‘Aladdin’ Review: This Is Not What You Wished For

In my household growing up, Aladdin was a huge, huge deal. Being the older sister of a little brother, the Disney catalogue at that point had few films that could entertain us both in equal measure, and as a result the 1992 animated classic is probably the animated feature that I have seen most in my life. Following the likes of CinderellaThe Jungle BookBeauty And The Beast and Dumbo, it was only a matter of time before Prince Ali and co. were given the live action treatment. I’m not going to lie, I went in nervous as hell.

2019’s Aladdin brings the same story to the big screen, the tale of a young street rat (played by Mena Massoud) who uses the power of a magical Genie (Will Smith) to become a Prince and win the heart of the Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), the Sultan’s daughter. Here’s the thing, I wanted to really love Aladdin, like really really love it like I loved Mary Poppins Returns, but unfortunately this just didn’t do it for me. There are definitely certain things to like about the film, but if I were to write a pros and cons list, the cons would almost certainly win out.

There is something that all of these cartoon to live action adaptation have had in common from the beginning, and that is a lack of kinetic energy compared to the animated originals. In the case of Aladdin, this energy is most clearly lost, in my opinion, in the majority of musical set pieces that fall completely flat (the only exception, interestingly, being Jasmine’s new number). One Jump Ahead feels like a strange, underusing, over directed fever dream, Friend Like Me felt physically painful to me, and A Whole New World seriously fails to capture the soaring magic of the cartoon carpet ride. I will give Prince Ali and Arabian nights their due, however. I have seen many people praising the colours of the film, but I couldn’t disagree more. Certain scenes may be vibrant, but I can’t celebrate the colouring of an Aladdin remake when the cave of wonders was more grey stone than golden treasure and the A Whole New World sequence bordered on Battle of Winterfell levels of darkness. Guy Ritchie, what’s going on bro?

Interestingly, the majority of positive change that the film provides is in its slight story tweaks rather that its showmanship. Princess Jasmine in particular is given far more agency in this 21st century update, something that feels more fitting both for the times and for the vibe of the movie. The picture also possesses a fun levity and a fast pace that helps you along even in those moments where the performances or the songs aren’t quite doing it for you. Ultimately, if there is such a duel attitude as being unimpressed whilst simultaneously mildly entertained, then that is what Aladdin evokes.

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Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Remember back in 2016 when everybody piled in on the disaster that was Suicide Squad? I was a card carrying member of the crowd who thought the movie was massively flawed, but reading my review back, it’s obvious that one of the very few things I did enjoy was Margot Robbie’s take on Harley Quinn. Clearly, that seems to have been the general consensus, so here we are in 2020 with another trip to that version of Gotham, this time focusing on Harley and getting rid of all the driftwood that made Suicide Squad such a disappointment. I went in cautiously optimistic about this one.

And ultimately, though it does fair better than Suicide SquadBirds Of Prey is still only ‘fine’ at best. In an attempt to free the character from her oppressive ties to the Joker, the film puts Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in the middle of things with her own Gotham centred narrative. After breaking up with her long time villainous beau, Harley’s protection is lifted and she suddenly finds herself the target of most of the city’s bad guys out for revenge.

Connecting at scheduled points with a number of other female characters in the universe including vigilantes the Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), young pick pocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and cynical police detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), the narrative forms into a squad movie of sorts, with the women teaming up to fight off the movie’s main big bad, crime lord Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).

Despite a promising set up, I think the fact that I can barely remember the movie even though I watched it mere days ago says everything about it. Birds Of Prey has a lot to offer in terms of fun action sequences and vibrant visuals, but at the end of the day, some of the technical choices that it makes prove to be its downfall. Chiefly, the decision to rely heavily on flashback scenes to establish the timeline doesn’t really work for me. Every time you feel yourself settling into the story and enjoying yourself, yet another jump in time occurs and you find yourself having to find a rhythm all over again.

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All the characters from the live-action ‘Mulan,’ ranked

I’m sure there were others at the time, but to me it very much feels like Mulan was the first high profile casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. I mentioned in my March review of System Crasher that I had expected to be watching Disney’s big new remake on that weekend, but here we finally are six months later! I might be back in the cinema now, but Disney+ was chosen as the home for this long awaited picture. As I pressed play, I hoped beyond hope that the wait was going to be worth it.

As I am sure we all know, Mulan tells the story of Hua Mulan (Liu Yifei), a young woman who disguises herself as a male soldier to take the place of her ageing, injured father (Tzi Ma) after the Emperor of China (Jet Li) issues a decree to defend the country from Northern invaders.

I won’t beat around the bush, guys. The wait was not worth it. I’m not going to hide the fact that I am a huge fan of the 1998 animated version, so a lot of this review is going to be a comparative exercise between the two, but even as a stand alone feature, Mulan is an incredible disappointment. Let’s start with the comparisons, shall we? I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single important beat of this story was executed better twenty-two years ago. Moments like Mulan’s decision to transform herself, the iconic training montage, the final battle, each and every one is a pale imitation of what we saw in animated form in 1998. I’ve really thought about it, and this isn’t nostalgia talking, it’s just plain facts.