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Ahmed Ab
Apr 05, 2022
In Film Reviews
When Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life, he discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac). As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while thrust into a deadly mystery among the powerful gods of Egypt. ★★★★ Directed by: #Mohamed Diab #JustinBenson #AaronMoorhead Produced by: #KevinFeige #LouisD’Esposito #VictoriaAlonso #GrantCurtis #BradWinderbaum #OscarIsaac #MohamedDiab #JeremySlater Starring: #OscarIsaac #MayCalamawy #KarimElHakim #F.MurrayAbraham #EthanHawke Released: 30th March 2022 Film review by: Ahmed Abbas | Published: 29th March 2022 | Edited: 5th April 2022 It was December 2015 when Oscar Isaac’s first appearance as a Marvel character in the X-Men: Apocalypse teaser trailer was ridiculed. And yet, the special screening of the first two episodes of Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight was met with a standing ovation. Isaac’s iteration of the Steven Grant-Marc Spector biformity trades the bright blue makeup of the X-Men villain for an awkward, yet endearing gift shop worker conjoined to a brash, unprincipled mercenary. Moon Knight takes us on a journey with Grant as he uncovers his newfound, suppressed personality and unravels the never-ending train of troubles his alter ego precipitated. The series first portrays Spector as an invader of this innocent man’s body, before subtly hinting that this narrative may in fact, be the inverse. Isaac’s performance of these polar opposite men surrendering control of their body to each other, is a performance unparalleled. The “bodymates” are juxtaposed in all manners but must come to terms with each other, as their shared body can only be controlled by one of them at any given time. Stephen’s gentle nature is exhibited by the care of his goldfish, while Marc’s brash psyche is evinced by the aftermath of Steven’s blackouts. The events of the first four episodes have the pair forgo their differences, but place their ethics as a major dilemma between them – Spector has no qualms with his barbarity, while Grant takes great issue with his body being used for lethal acts – a contention the series seems poised to resolve in the episodes to come. From the opening scenes, we waste no time with unnecessary scenes and immediately meet our antagonist, and protagonist(s). Arthur Harrow’s (Ethan Hawke) introduction in the opening moments is an automatic improvement to the pacing of Marvel shows, as Moon Knight opts to reject the slow burn approach of many of Marvel’s previous outings. We have an unprecedented four-way relationship between Grant, Spector, Khonshu, and Harrow, where each character in this relationship acts as both an antagonist and a protagonist for the other three at various times within the series’ first four episodes. Ethan Hawke’s tremendous performance takes full advantage of this, as the empathetic and apologetic identity he adopts while he drains the life from a supposedly innocent, elderly woman leaves viewers unsure of how they should feel – his charisma is welcoming and evokes trust, while his actions say otherwise. This is even replicated with one-half of the main character, as Harrow appeals to Grant’s timid nature. Throughout the four episodes, you simply cannot tell whether Harrow truly cares for Grant, or whether the character is performing to gain Steven’s trust and remove his rival’s most powerful weapon. This is a masterclass on display, where both writing and acting have synergised to deliver a character who compels the audience to undergo a prescribed ride of emotions. Powerful performances are not exclusive to Isaac and Hawke. Moon Knight is among the better-cast Marvel projects, as the entire ensemble gives it their all. No better actor could have been chosen for each role, and even more encouraging is that the show features a consortium of Egyptian performers, which is appropriate for the extent of the show set in Egypt. May El Calamawy, an Egyptian-Palestinian actress, is the most notable example of this, and actually used her experiences for reference, allowing her to offer insight into her character and uplift her character on paper as well as on-screen, transforming her into the heart of the show. The effort given by the cast is reflected across the board. This is evident from the show’s visuals, as the cinematography is among the best I’ve ever seen. The marriage between the director's & cinematographer’s artistic styles and the production designer’s craft birthed a revolutionary mechanism of storytelling. If one were to watch Moon Knight on mute, the main character’s dissociative identity disorder is visually conveyed just as well as it is written. The set design is incredible, employing an abundance of reflective surfaces as apparatuses for the two main characters to perceptibly confront each other. Moreover, the practical design of locations ranging from the streets of Brixton to the tombs of Egypt are unbelievably believable, and remarkable work was put in (as can be read in the press conference breakdown). Mohamed Diab’s (executive producer and director) insistence on minimalizing the use of green screen is apparent and sets Moon Knight apart from any Marvel production. Moon Knight effortlessly manages to evolve the standard of humour in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), whilst also creating Marvel Studios’ most mature project yet. Within the first half of the debut episode, viewers are treated to more blood within a single shot than has been seen in the entirety of Phase 4 to date. That is not to say that Moon Knight is overly violent, but rather that previous efforts have felt somewhat suppressed – it is a breath of fresh air in the MCU. The humour itself is also situational and not laboured – the title character isn’t going to take a break from a life-and-death moment to make a gag to the viewers. Dotted throughout, are plenty of horror-like segments, ranging from the display of Khonshu, the God of the Moon and of Vengeance, as a grand and powerful figure that is to be feared, to the numerous, true horror scenes in a single episode, which were tense and genuinely superior to sequences within several horror pictures in recent years. Moon Knight learns from Marvel’s past, taking what worked from Marvel’s most acclaimed projects, and combining them into one smorgasbord of a series. It fuses the best parts of FX’s Legion, Marvel’s Daredevil, and Marvel’s The Punisher, incorporating such genres as adventure, horror, action, fantasy, and psychological thriller, and it just happens to feature the “Marvel Studios” banner above its title. Moon Knight is not another superhero piece to be skipped or saved to the ‘watch later’ category; it is among the best of the comic book genre and is one to be viewed and discussed by all on a weekly basis. Moon Knight has all the makings of an iconic show, and if it sticks the landing in its final two episodes, it’ll be placed among the ranks of the “greatest shows of all time” – Marvel’s first masterpiece could arise. Bold, sincere, and surreal, Moon Knight is a complete reinvention of the MCU, taking viewers on a psychedelic expedition inside the broken mind of Marvel’s latest, most lovable protagonist. Moon Knight is available to stream now on Disney+.
Moon Knight Review (Episodes 1-4) content media
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Ahmed Ab
Mar 30, 2022
In Film Reviews
By Ahmed Ab From Marvel Studios, exclusively for Disney+, comes the all-new, original, live-action series Moon Knight, starring Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, and May Calamawy. Moon Knight is due to premiere exclusively on Disney+ on March 30th, with weekly episodic releases. The story follows Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), a mild-mannered man who lives a mundane life, plagued by blackouts and mysterious memories of a life somehow separate from his own. After one fateful encounter, Steven discovers that he has Dissociative Identity Disorder and shares a body with Marc Spector—a former mercenary and the ruthless avatar of Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon and vengeance. With their enemies converging upon them, Steven must learn how to adapt to this revelation and work with Marc. With other godly motives at play, the two must navigate their complex identities amid a deadly battle played out among the powerful gods of Egypt. In August 2019 at the D23 conference, Marvel Studios announced that a Disney+ series based on Moon Knight was being developed. In preparation for the series’ release this March, the studio assembled the cast and filmmakers for a press conference, streamed live to reporters across the world. On hand to take questions were actors Oscar Isaac (Steven Grant), Ethan Hawke (Arthur Harrow), and May Calamawy (Layla El-Faouly). Executive producer Grant Curtis, joined by executive producer and director Mohamed Diab, were both in attendance, alongside directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. During the 40-minute press conference, topics ranging from performance methods to costume design were discussed, with the reporters in attendance hoping their questions would be selected following the brilliant reception to the first four episodes which were released to press all around the world. The project really took form when Mohamed Diab was brought on board as executive producer and director. Despite Diab receiving offers for high-budget movies in the past, one aspect that attracted him to helming Moon Knight was the Egyptology that was so integral to the series’ concept: “The other aspect that really attracted me was the Egyptian part of it”, the director says. “The present and the past, the Egyptology of it.” The importance of faithful Egyptian mythology in this series was reiterated by executive producer and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who stated in the production brief: “We have fascination and reverence for Egyptian history… it was very exciting to take Moon Knight’s origin story, which is grounded in Egyptology, and infuse it with globetrotting adventure, intensity, and mystery.” Diab, the first Arab director to release a Marvel project, also saw this series as a tool to correct many of the past portrayals of Egypt in filmography that he feels are not representative of his, and many others, own experiences as Egyptians: “As an Egyptian, we always see us depicted or the Middle East depicted in a way that is – we call it orientalism, when you see us as exotic and dehumanized…”, he says. “Imagine Paris and you’re seeing Big Ben in the background. That’s how we see our country”. A part of Diab’s proposal to rectify this was the hiring of Production Designer Stefania Cella, who designed sets to not only be accurate to the spirit of Egypt but also convey the series’ themes of duality and identity, a feat most apparent in the Burial Chamber set. With much of the production taking place in Budapest, Hungary, many large-scale practical sets had to be built on soundstages. Even the museum scenes required an entirely original Egypt exhibit, an undertaking that took the art department several months to complete. Khonshu's on-set performance actor Karim El-Hakim corroborates the realism of the production design, joking that the team “brought Egypt to Budapest, down to the license plates, even the t-shirts – everything in Arabic”, the actor states. “It brought me back to being in Cairo. It was like a flashback; it was so realistic – the smells, the smoke, the cars, the tuk-tuks, even down to the food and the types of fruit that were on sale in our marketplace. It was really impressive”. May Calamawy also recalled the attention to detail Diab wished to replicate on-screen: “One of the main things he wanted was for people to watch and to not be able to tell at all...”, she says. “That was very important to him. It’s down to the newspaper clippings that have been torn on the floor; that’s the precision that we’re talking about”. Mohamed Diab spoke to his keenness to shoot practically and on location: “I’m all for reality”, he says. “I’m all for minimizing the green screen as much as possible, especially with a story that could be in the mind of someone”. As a testament to the effect of Diab’s methodology, it came as a surprise to a sample of the London-based reporters (who viewed the first four episodes) that the street scenes in London were recreated in a Budapest market street, which was altered to replicate a real-life Brixton street. When discussing the signing of Ethan Hawke as the series’ central villain, Diab spoke to the unorthodox means of developing the character of Arthur Harrow, revealing he implored Hawke not to read the script before signing: “When it came to the signing, Ethan is someone that is – everyone sees him as this great, legendary, independent film actor, and joining the superhero world is something big. So, when Oscar first approached him and then I talked to him about it, we pitched him the idea, but I told him please don’t read the script. Not that the script is bad, but when you work with him, you have to get from him. Like, I think Harrow is his son, in a way, it’s a ping pong between us all but definitely his son. So, to trust us and sign without -- he told me this was the first time in 35 years that I signed something without reading a script. And he did it.” As revealed in an interview by On Demand Entertainment during the Moon Knight UK Special Screening, Hawke actually rejected Marvel roles in the past, a fact which has only heightened fans’ expectations that after fourteen years, Arthur Harrow, the role Hawke finally accepted, must be incredibly special. Having followed up Diab’s comments regarding signing on blind, it appears the collaborative freedom between the actor, writer, and director to sculpt the story and character is what enticed Hawke to join the project: “In my whole experience, usually when there’s a huge budget, there’s a tremendous amount of fear. And the people in charge are incredibly controlling, and creativity is reduced. In my entire experience, with you Grant, and with Marvel, it’s the opposite of that. You guys have translated your success into confidence and the confidence to -- yes, we are going to cook in your kitchen, but if we stay in the kitchen, we can do what we want. And there was a lot of playfulness and a lot of willingness to fail and a lot of willingness to have bad ideas. Because you can’t find a great idea if we don’t say some dumb ones and make mistakes… And that’s what collaboration is… and that’s why you don’t sign on without reading a script. But I’m really glad I did because I think it’s better because of the way it evolved.” Hawke followed up to reassure prospective viewers he chose correctly, speaking about his experiences on set, and praising every department involved with the project: “As somebody who’s never worked on a Marvel film or series and hasn’t even worked inside this genre in any way, I’ve had the best production design of my life, the best costumes, the best craftspeople”, says the actor. “The cinematographers are incredible. I’m working with Oscar every day, and we have time to do it right. We have time to rehearse. We are trying to make five to six hours of really quality entertainment and that’s a heavy lift, but we have the tools that we need to do it.” A promising, compelling rendition of the hero-villain dynamic was expressed by the actor, speaking to past stories basing the villain’s conduct on mental illness, and how Moon Knight reverses this relationship, giving viewers something they haven’t seen before: “Well, the history of movies is paved with storytellers using mental illness as a building block for the villain. I mean, there are countless stories of mentally ill villains, and we have a mentally ill hero. And that’s fascinating because we’ve now inverted the whole process. And so now, as the antagonist, I can’t be crazy because the hero’s crazy. So, I have to kind of find a sane lunatic or a sane malevolent force. And that was an interesting riddle for me to figure out how to be in dynamics with what Oscar was doing. And Mohamed was really embracing his mental illness as a way to create an unreliable narrator. And once you’ve broken the prism of reality, everything that the audience is seeing is from a skewed point of view. And that’s really interesting for the villain, because am I even being seen as I am? … It’s especially interesting to take your hero and present him with a real source of pain in mental illness. It’s not a joke. He’s a guy who’s really struggling, and it’s very interesting to have a protagonist who’s in a tremendous amount of pain and who is not a classic hero…” In order to maintain an authentic and sensitive approach to the series’ exploration of mental health themes, the production sought consultation from Dr. Paul Puri, a board-certified psychiatrist, who is an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCLA and past president of the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty Association. Particularly, this focused on dissociative identity disorder, helping the filmmakers and cast understand the disorder and its implications. This expertise allowed Diab to, from a director’s perspective, convey mental health themes visually: “What got me excited about this opportunity is that this is a superhero that we haven’t seen before, someone who’s struggling with himself,” says Diab. “His inner conflict is actually visual. You can see his internal struggle. It’s a great room for character development.” As we learn in the synopsis and throughout the show, Steven Grant’s dissociative identity disorder mentally divides him from his Marc Spector persona, resulting in a pair of characters with polar opposite natures, necessitating two vastly different performances from Isaac. When questioned on how he achieved such a feat, Isaac shared his approach; Isaac’s brother (Michael Hernandez) would play opposite him, accent, and all, to give Isaac something to play off of. Having to perform each scene numerous times, switch around, and give two separate performances, became taxing for Isaac: “I really wanted to do a character study, a point of view experience, so you’re not sitting back and just watching the story unfold; you are within the eyes of Steven and experiencing this thing that’s happening to him. And it’s quite terrifying.” As exciting news to the audience, directors Benson and Moorhead maintained only the highest possible praise for the cast: “The most fulfilling aspect of making ‘Moon Knight’ for us was working with Oscar Isaac, May Calamawy, and Ethan Hawke”, the pair assert. “To witness Oscar’s perfectionism firsthand was an honor, to see May bring so much heart and humanity to this story was inspiring, and to learn from the wisdom, work ethic and performance mastery of Ethan Hawke every day was an experience we’d only ever dreamed of.” Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight is available to stream, exclusively on Disney+.
Moon Knight Press Conference - A Deep Dive Into Production content media
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Ahmed Ab
Feb 28, 2022
In Film Reviews
"It’s not just a call... It’s a warning." From Warner Bros. Pictures comes Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson in the dual role of Gotham City’s vigilante detective and his alter ego, reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne. Two years of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies—Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright)—amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens. When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle/aka Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Oswald Cobblepot/aka the Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka the Riddler (Paul Dano). As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City. It was a rainy summer day when Robert Pattinson's casting had been officially announced back in 2019. DC fans and the internet alike drove in volumes to Twitter to protest the "sparkly vampire" from Twilight being selected as the new Batman, but I maintained the notion that he was the best choice for the role and counted down the days till he would prove me right. Come the end of this week, that day will emerge for fans worldwide. As you likely know thanks to Reeves' words, this feature begins with a young Batman, and is not a full origin story, but Bruce is not yet the iconic character we know and love. This makes sense: Bruce didn't become the Batman in a week, nor did he stay the same throughout his career; he must have developed, he must have changed and grown, yet we have never truly seen that on the big screen - The Batman marks the first chapter of that. From past adaptations, all the iterations we've seen feature Bruce wearing the Batman mask at times; this time, Batman wears the Bruce mask - this is evident from the opening scene. Rather than donning a playboy persona, Bruce keeps true to his mindset, adopting a depressed, reclusive attitude. It seems this story (and any follow-ups) will be a long-form origin story for Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne to eventually become the caped crusader from the comics, and this is true for the entire ensemble, as will become apparent. Speaking of masks, perhaps the most prominent theme in the movie is the question of identity. When the Riddler's first look was revealed, many fans criticised the uncharacteristic costume and the use of a mask, but the mask is vital to the theme. In this feature, wearing masks is not about hiding identities, it is about revealing them. As I spoke of Batman being Bruce's true identity, the same can be said for the Riddler, and their dichotomy is the heart of the film. It's this meaning that never allows the pace to falter - the movie does not feel remotely close to three hours. This theme wouldn't be anywhere near as impactful if it was not sold by the pairing of Pattinson and Dano. While every cast member goes above and beyond, the standout has to be Paul Dano. Dano sells this intelligent, unhinged, childlike Edward Nashton and it gave me chills. Dano also sells the fearless, terrifying, unbeatable Riddler: two characters, two performances. Robert Pattinson too adopts this philosophy and perfects his on-screen chemistry with every supporting cast member, most notably with Zoe Kravitz's Catwoman, who explores her own storyline that makes you root for her. Colin Farrell not only has the perfect look through the use of prosthetics, but nails the performance. Andy Serkis is the Alfred this feature needed - I was a little hesitant on this at first as I had always seen Alfred as a harmless-appearing butler with a renegade side, but Serkis was the perfect choice for this Alfred. The entire supporting cast give it their all, and I have never seen such a quintessentially assembled cast in any form of media. The Batman is a feature so well cast that even the extras have standout performances. The cast make sure not to play their characters from the comics, but to take a step back as they become them. This isn't a Batman origin story; this is a Gotham origin story. Gotham, in fact, is portrayed better than any past feature: yes, portrayed. Much like the television show of the same name, Gotham is written as its own character and given an identity on screen, and Liverpool was a great casting choice for the role. As Andy Serkis reiterated in an interview, the film is timeless, and that is in large part due to Gotham's style. The architecture (both classic and modern) only adds to the tone of the city, uplifting the movie's noir feel. The city's identity was one of the few flaws in The Dark Knight trilogy, and Reeves made sure to correct this from the very first scene. The world goes hand-in-hand with the world-building, and while the film works as a one-off, the world-building sets up an entire universe very well. I highly anticipate both the Gotham PD and Penguin shows, as well as the inevitable sequel. Despite my words on this iteration being an almost "proto-Batman" (or rather "proto-Bruce Wayne"), there are so many moments that made me giddy. Even shots from the trailer surprised me and carried so much more weight when played within the movie. In fact, these shots are so well produced by cinematographer Greig Fraser and compliment the tone of the movie so well, that The Batman is the most beautiful film I've ever seen. For Batman fans, especially fans of the Arkham games, this movie is a smorgasbord of some of the best Batman moments on-screen. Reeves also follows suit in keeping the comic-book genre alive. The Batman is not a superhero movie, it isn't even a Batman movie, it is an intelligent screenplay that chases its own ambitious story and draws elements from the Batman IP, but ultimately adapts them however it sees fit. As audiences are beginning to grow tired of what has now become standard of the genre, movie studios are beginning to adapt comic-book material into movies of other genres - this is an intelligent way of doing so but is adopted by so few filmmakers. Following such features as Logan and Joker, The Batman is a welcome addition to their ranks. The Batman is up there among the better comic-adapted movies and a breath of fresh air in the genre. From the first act, it took the spot as my personal favourite Batman film. Perhaps it's time to retire the "best Batman movie since The Dark Knight" and now set The Batman as the new staple. After decades of cinema rushing toward the latest tropes, The Batman is a much-needed (and long-overdue) return-to-form. About the Film Critic Ahmed Abbas
The Batman Film Review content media
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Ahmed Ab
Dec 24, 2021
In Film Reviews
For the first time in the cinematic history of Spider-Man, our friendly neighborhood hero's identity is revealed, bringing his Super Hero responsibilities into conflict with his normal life and putting those he cares about most at risk. When he enlists Doctor Strange’s help to restore his secret, the spell tears a hole in their world, releasing the most powerful villains who’ve ever fought a Spider-Man in any universe. Now, Peter will have to overcome his greatest challenge yet, which will not only forever alter his own future but the future of the Multiverse. ★★★★★ Directed by: #JonWatts Produced by: #KevinFeige #AmyPascal Starring: #TomHolland#Zendaya#JacobBatalon #BenedictCumberbatch #MarisaTomei Released: 15th Dec 2021 Film review by: Ahmed Abbas | Published: 15th Dec 2021 | Edited: 24th Dec 2021 Almost exactly two years prior, I sat perched on the very same seat in Leicester Square’s IMAX for the end of a popular saga, one obnoxiously riddled with attempts to please the fans and ultimately left viewers very underwhelmed. Yesterday, in that same seat, I witnessed a masterclass of how this should be properly executed, a masterclass created by director Jon Watts and producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal, known to the masses as Spider-Man: No Way Home. Spider-Man: No Way Home achieves something I’ve never seen any movie ever do to the same level. When watching the movie, you can really feel the energy on set as the stars bring their A-game. Every actor truly gives their all, allowing for this movie to have the best acting out of all the Spider-Man instalments, if not all comic book movies; this is especially true for the leading actor. Every movie in which Peter Parker (Tom Holland) features in, Holland is given an intimate scene to display his acting tour de force, and each subsequent performance tops the last; this makes sense, as Holland develops his acting ability through more and more experience in his early years. Each of his performances come closer and closer to breaking my lifelong tradition of never shedding tears in a movie, with his latest finally achieving the impossible. No Way Home features Holland’s crème de la crème in acting and is worth the price of admission alone – he truly cements why Marvel made the choice to recast the role just four years after the previous reboot and shows they were justified – Tom Holland gives the performance of a lifetime. Spider-Man: No Way Home undoubtedly has the largest scope of the trilogy but manages to simultaneously have the most personal storyline to Peter Parker – a true character study – the movie breaks him down, shows his vulnerabilities and what makes him tick, and builds him back up with new motivations and sense of purpose. The supporting characters have more to do, despite the extended cast, and not only that, but each character has a defined arc in line with their last appearance, giving the audience an emotional journey with each of them. The step-up in cinematography only adds to the emotion. Scenes are beautifully and befittingly lit, with flawless chroma key compositing and stunning set design. Paired with the scenic attributes, is a technological achievement through flawless de-aging that I didn’t notice or even consider for the briefest of moments, despite the fact I knew it was being used beforehand. Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios clearly pulled no punches in the production of this instalment. The film is not formulaic and is certainly the least formulaic of all Spider-Man movies, which is one of the few, yet most recurrent criticism of Marvel movies. The movie feels like a breeze and at no point ever drags. It manages to keep the fun, vibrant feel of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and the classic comics (which I believe is essential to this interpretation), while going deeper in both story and emotion than any MCU or Spider-Man movie, with the most interesting premise. It addresses any and all criticisms of the previous movies and the character as a whole. The writers left no room for the same complaints to circulate the Twitter space. No Way Home is the only movie I’ve ever seen that, coming out, I instantly wanted to purchase another ticket and see the next screening. The film gave me everything I wanted as a Spider-Man fan, and a Marvel one. I’d go as far as saying it gives everyone what they want, but in a meaningful way that makes sense both logically and with the direction the franchise is moving in, unlike the other saga-ender I mentioned in my introduction, which threw characters and references at viewers without meaning or explanation. I had high expectations, and No Way Home not only met them, but shattered the ceiling. In every possible aspect, Spider-Man: No Way Home has reached the top of my tier list for Spider-Man movies, as well as for comic book movies, and it will be a difficult feat for the next movie to top, but I find myself saying that approximately twice a year. Spider-Man: No Way Home is the gift that kept on giving – the perfect Christmas delight! With Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the majority of their releases had fans stating that each respective movie couldn’t be topped, and said the same at the next, and the next, finally culminating in the masses proclaiming this for one last time with Endgame. For No Way Home, fans will once again go back on their word. Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios have done it again, and truly raised the bar for the blockbuster market. As other movie studios will now inevitably be taking notes, Spider-Man: No Way Home pioneers a new era in cinema. Having seen how the movie ends and what it sets up, I’m extremely excited for the future of Spider-Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Please see this movie before any spoilers make their way to you, and do your best to avoid them, as clips and images are all over the internet, despite the movie only releasing in one territory the morning of writing. As has become commonplace in my reviews, I suggest the ideal format to experience each film, and No Way Home, with its format-exclusive aspect ratio of 1:90, simply must be experienced in IMAX Digital, which has now become a must for MCU instalments. Like Endgame and Infinity War before it, Spider-Man: No Way Home was filmed entirely in IMAX, which is a very rare feat in cinema. The scale of this movie deserves the bigger screen & taller expanded aspect ratio – visiting your nearest IMAX guarantees 26% more picture. If anything deserves the IMAX experience, let it be Spider-Man: No Way Home. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
'Spider-Man: No Way Home' Review (No Spoilers) content media
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10k
Ahmed Ab
Nov 18, 2021
In Film Reviews
The world's most popular movie franchise at long last released its first female-led movie; one beyond words. 'Captain Marvel', the MCU's 21st movie, takes us on an intergalactic adventure, similar in the vein of some of the franchise's best, such as 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and 'Thor: Ragnarok', yet it keeps the premise entirely original. Featuring Oscar-level talent such as Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and Jude Law, 'Captain Marvel' continues the anticipated path set by 'Avengers: Infinity War', creating its own lore and corner within the MCU, all while leading us to the final destination that is 'Avengers: Endgame', next April. The movie depicts the never-before-told story of the Kree-Skrull War, as well as how "Fury" lost his eye... Being set in the past, 'Captain Marvel' has a great deal of freedom, which it fully exploits, referencing popular culture movies such as 'Top Gun' and 'Pulp Fiction'. This makes the movie the "blast-from-the-past" we never even knew we wanted. The history of the MCU is greatly broadened, while somehow managing to greatly set up the franchise's future. The movie proves that there are great stories to tell by taking a step back. 'Captain Marvel' greatly succeeds with one thing that comes with any Marvel movie: the humour. The mid-90s setting allows the movie to create humour from infamous elements set in this period, recognisable to anyone who lived in the 90s. There are no cliche jokes; all the humour is enacted through the behaviour of individual characters, which are developed extremely well. There are many minor titbits that many fans of the MCU or those who have recently watched particular instalments in the franchise may spot. This is mainly accomplished through shared characters - these characters do have large roles in the movie, but in no way does the plot rely on their previous appearances. One thing millions of fans have been clamoring for ever since 'Marvel's The Avengers' was achieved by 'Captain Marvel': Agent Philip J. Coulson. Coulson was given a large role in this movie, all while not contradicting the 110 episodes of his own show. This is a must-see for fans of the show! The make-up, costumes, set designs and visual effects are all the best in the game. There are very few movies I would rank higher than 'Captain Marvel' on this basis, especially as much of the movie is a "space epic". The action is much better than the majority of blockbuster movies; Marvel has started to use longer takes for their fight scenes, and I think this feature is here to stay. Seeing the movie in IMAX 3D, I benefitted greatly from all of the above. The movie utilises its IMAX format to the maximum, having multiple IMAX scenes throughout the runtime (the majority is shot in IMAX). During these scenes, IMAX viewers are presented with an extra 26% of footage! There is no misuse of 3D, which many often complain about with other movies. While the movie was converted to 3D, the 3D conversion is honestly the best I've seen recently. I didn't even realise it was converted until I was informed later. IMAX should be your first port-of-call. The movie always keeps you on the journey of Carol Danvers, never giving you the greater perspective of the movie until the title character herself discovers it. It is an interesting and lucrative concept - a way to diversify the general plots and shy away from any similarities to other movies. You are always kept guessing, while enticed into the story. Once the true nature of the movie is revealed, you are in for one hell of a ride. Just make sure you stay behind until the very end of the credits! There is no universe in which I do not highly, highly recommend you to see this movie - IMAX APPROVED. ★★★★☆
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Ahmed Ab
Nov 18, 2021
In Film Reviews
Wonder Woman! The final 'trinity' movie in DC's universe. I must speak of what first comes to mind - the cinematography. The entire movie looks beautiful, from the orange beaches of Themyscira to the colours of the poison gas, 'Wonder Woman' is designed perfectly. The movie is flawlessly integrated into history, with real parts of World War One (such as General Ludendorff) playing key roles in the movie. Perhaps what is done well (where its predecessors fell) is the structure and pacing of the movie - each act builds up to the final climactic battle between hero and villain. There is no over-cluttering of characters and plot points, a feat that makes this movie great. Instead, there are very few characters, all developed well with enough dedicated screen-time. The film's key strength is its era; those engineering the war are very dismissive of Diana due to her being a woman (a historically accurate feat). How so that the movie ends with Diana being mankind's only hope! Please do yourself a favour and see this film. It is the DC Universe's first truly outstanding piece and DC's best movie since 'The Dark Knight'.
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Ahmed Ab
Nov 18, 2021
In Film Reviews
Alas! The culmination of the 'Worlds of DC' is finally upon us! The crossover hot of the heels of the critically acclaimed 'Wonder Woman' introduces new threats to the Earth which our heroes must unite to battle. The standout star of this movie, a decision perhaps pushed by Warner Bros. after the success of her standalone adventure, is Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). She is the only hero with a true sense of purpose in this film; Batman is lost after the death of Superman, Superman is, well dead, and the other heroes are on their own. Perhaps what this feature does best is introduce us to new characters, reintroduce the trinity and get underway with its plot all in two hours - with a longer runtime this movie would have thrived. 'Justice League' monumentally changes the tone of this movie universe with less serious plots and personalities - the introduction of Barry Allen primes the quirkiness of the universe. Ezra Miller's Flash is the youthful, energetic 'child' of the group that draws in many laughs from the audience. Yet many are discrediting the movie due to the apparent loss of Zack Snyder's unique vision set up through 'Man of Steel' and 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice'. While true, his vision has been traded for a much more enjoyable and comic-accurate representation of all the heroes. The plot of this movie is by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but the movie itself is an engaging battle between six vastly differing heroes with unique and incompatible personalities (Aquaman and Cyborg would certainly create a unique 'bro-duo' in the sequel). I recommend it to any big fans of the DC brand. ★★★☆☆
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Ahmed Ab
Nov 18, 2021
In Film Reviews
An extension of the Wizarding World into Roaring Twenties New York. Perhaps the first and most important any moviegoer may ask is 'Is Harry Potter in this?'. This can be swiftly answered with a firm no - and that is the best decision made in the film. 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them did what no Harry Potter film has done; it gave us the real-world view of all the wizarding conflicts, while still appreciating the historical era in which it is set. Of course, the film must respect the lore the Harry Potter movies have set in place, and it does so in a way that does not hold back the film but propels it forwards. We are presented with a charming yet humble lead brought to life by Eddie Redmayne, while the rest of the characters are played by smaller, but talented names. The film is largely structured as a buddy-adventure movie featuring Scamander and Kowalski (Dan Fogler), with compelling leads such as Queenie and Tina Goldstein (Alison Sudol and Katherine Waterston, respectively) joining at various points. The film does well not to simply stand on its own, but launch the next four films in the 'Fantastic Beasts' genre by introducing some pivotal characters from the 'Harry Potter' mythos. There are many riveting directions the series could take the story and whether you're a general cinema-goer who is only interested in a good film or someone who is searching for the next multiple-movie journey, I strongly recommend you to see this film. ★★★★☆
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Ahmed Ab
Nov 18, 2021
In Vlog Film Reviews
Black Panther | Video Review content media
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Ahmed Ab
Nov 18, 2021
Thor: Ragnarok | Video Review (Spoiler-free) content media
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Ahmed Ab
Nov 18, 2021
In Film Reviews
Following on from the wildly popular ‘Venom’, Andy Serkis’ directorial debut improves on the first in many ways, features much of what previously worked, including the endearing relationship between the symbiotic protagonists, makes some welcome additions to the ‘Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters’, via way of Woody Harrelson’s Cletus Kasady, but does fall behind its predecessor in other aspects. Overall, ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ presents a concise, well-structured, understandable narrative, better written than the first. Clocking in at just 97 minutes, I was glad that the sequel chose to adopt only one storyline, and for the most part, the duration served it well. The viewers are also treated to believable performances, as both Hardy and Harrelson play off each other to perfection, with a surprisingly good performance coming from Woody Harrelson – I was expecting a typical Harrelson performance. The sequel makes sure to embrace what audiences adored in the former. However, the most glaring issue that presented itself was the repetition of the same conflicts from the previous instalment – it would have been better for Eddie and Venom to be performing at their best, until their match is met via way of Carnage, whose victory over the pair catalyses their inevitable conflict. Just as Riz Ahmed in the first, Naomie Harris’ inclusion for a character of little impact was a true shame. Despite an ensemble of strong talent, some of the franchise’s best performers aren’t properly utilised, being given characters that ultimately amount to very little. I wish the writers in both movies had a little more time to construct the characters and insert them into the story in a meaningful way. Despite both films earning a ‘15’ rating in the UK (the same as ‘Deadpool’), I still get the sense that with the comedy used, the movies are being made for younger audiences. The feature would have truly benefited from an R-Rating and a more serious approach: take time to delve into who Eddie and Venom truly are and what makes them tick. A comedically fun relationship is fine, but it only works once. After that, you should deconstruct the characters and make audiences truly connect with them. On the matter of seriousness, the film can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be taken seriously, or be goofy, so does both; this ultimately makes it feel disjointed and overall, less enjoyable than the last, which wasn’t as well written, but was consistent in its tone. This consistency made it feel more natural and thus, it was easier to immerse myself in the experience. The film is at a crossroads, fragmented between the genres of body horror, romantic comedy, or buddy cop – just pick one. The movie also does slightly reinterpret the character of Cletus Kasady, featuring a scene where he makes puns while beating people to death. While this was no issue for me, a more casual fan with less attachment to the character, this was acceptable, especially when compared to Venom’s more child-like personality, and actually worked to the strengths of Woody Harrelson’s casting. However, this may serve as frustration for many fans of the Marvel comics, considering the high regard Carnage is held to, alongside the years-long anticipation for his debut. If what was teased does come to fruition, I do hope a more serious interpretation of the pair is taken. I wish to see Venom bring out the worst in Eddie’s personality, making Eddie feel conflicted with a quick resolution to his long-term problems, but at the expense of who he is. I also want the third instalment to move away from another symbiote antagonist and instead take a more serious approach. Let Venom spend a movie fighting real crime and making his own choices, rather than stumbling into grand alien conspiracies each movie. To conclude, this movie shares many of the criticisms I declared with the first: the PG-13 age rating holds it back and attempting to appeal to everyone via poorly replicating Marvel Studios’ secret formula ultimately prevents it from truly connecting with anyone. While the movie is a fun ride, filled with enjoyable moments and a sense that the actors are having the time of their lives, and an enjoyable night out, it isn’t something to be deeply thought about or dissected post-viewing. Whichever you want out of your movie-going experience should inform your decision to watch the sequel. If you are a Marvel fan, or enjoyed the first Venom movie, I would recommend this feature, although I don’t see it being as popular among the general audiences as the first, particularly in such a cluttered quarter with such movies as ‘Dune: Part One’ and ‘Marvel’s Eternals’ right around the corner. ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’ isn’t a must-see, but if you have no qualms with the theatrical ticket costs of this number of movies, please do see it for yourself, although I imagine many casual viewers will be reserving their viewing for the television screen.
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