The Disaster Artist (2017)

★★

The tall man with vampire-like structure walks out of fake door and onto the rooftop set. “Oh hai mark” he says in a monotone voice, throwing the empty water bottle on the floor. After the camera cuts, the set erupts with applause. After dozens of takes, Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) had done it. He had finally managed to recite his lines correctly. The Disaster Artist however, is not just about the making of the now infamous film The Room (2003) but much more. It is also a film about the friendship of two actors, Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and Tommy Wiseau and their desire to make it big. Showing how the two characters meet in San Francisco and what led them to make The Room.

The story is not the main attraction however, James Franco is. I would actually find it to be near impossible for The Disaster Artist to be good if James Franco was not Tommy Wiseau. The amount of care that Franco put into studying the real Tommy Wiseau is really shown in this movie. From the way he talks and the way his mannerisms are. I felt like it not only played off the character of Wiseau as comedic but also dramatic character trying to be understood by someone in the world.

As far as the directing and writing goes, it is nothing special. Sure there are some jokes that land, but I felt like there were many times where they would point out the obvious ridiculousness of Wiseau’s antics, such as the strange lines of dialogue in The Room which became redundant after a while. Overall, it was a passable job from James Franco’s directing.

Chances are, if you enjoyed The Room then you will like The Disaster Artist, the scenes from the original movie are recreated quite well (at the end they even show them side to side) and it was funny to see actors like Zac Efron and Josh Hutcherson play characters in the film. The ending was a little hokey as it makes the film end a little too comedically compared to what should have been a more serious tone. But the motif of friendship between Wiseau and Sestero throughout the movie is what gives the human connection to the film making it a relatable parable somewhat.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

★★★★

It’s pretty hard to believe that in a span of just ten years, we have had three different actors playing the role of Peter Parker. But where Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man movies did a lot of repeating what was done in the Sam Rami films, Spider-Man: Homecoming does pretty much none of that. Sure, characters like Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Mary Jane (Zendaya) are in the movie, but we no longer need to see the origin of Peter’s powers as well as the death of Uncle Ben. Instead, we are taken right into the events following Captain America: Civil War as we follow 15 year-old Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he tries to prove what he has to not be treated like a kid by his mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.).

The big difference between this and the other Spider-Man movies (other than what was listed in the paragraph above) is that this one is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Possibly the best instance of this, are the cameos with Captain America (Chris Evans) and just the way that Peter’s friends talk about the Avengers and know that superheros exist.

The best part of Spider-Man: Homecoming, is the characters. From Peter Parker’s best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon) to Michael Keaton’s portrayal of classic Spider-Man villain, the Vulture, to even minor characters such as Hannibal Buress as Peter’s PE teacher Coach Wilson, they all add to what makes this movie work so well and makes it so funny. The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s (2014) Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson creates less of a stereotypical jock, but instead more of rival to Peter that is intelligent as well as arrogant. And of course, what would a Spider-Man movie be without a good portrayal of Spider-Man? Well, I can assuredly say that Tom Holland does a good job at portraying a teenager and while he may not look 15, he definitely sounds it. My only criticism was that I felt like the movie may have needed a bit more Tony Stark. This is because Peter Parker and Tony Stark have such great chemistry and I wanted more of it.

Thematically, Homecoming is reminiscent of the coming-of-age films from the 80s, mainly John Hughes films. The idea of the perfect girl, the homecoming dance all just screams this style. It also differentiates the movie from other superhero movies, showing that a superhero film doesn’t need to be cookie-cutter but can be a fusion of different genres.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is another addition to Marvel’s ever-growing portfolio of films and one of the best so far. I really enjoyed this movie and I think pretty much anyone can. This is a funny as well as character-driven movie that is also relateable (about growing up not becoming Spider-Man). And it was written by six people! Breaking the record held by The Mummy (2017) for the most screenwriters I’ve ever seen attached to one script. Except this one is actually…good.

Baywatch (2017)

★½

Some words to describe Baywatch would be: lazy, uninspired, crude, unfunny, and harmless. This film is not the atrocity that many are making it out to be, but it still does not go beyond something to view while flipping channels on a boring afternoon.

Dwayne Johnson is likable as Mitch Buchannon because, Johnson just has that natural charisma that makes him such a popular star today. The other actors like Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddadrio do passable jobs in the acting department, with the exception of the stereotypical nerd character, Ronnie (Jon Bass). Bass’ performance is annoying and the shtick is unfunny. Who comes off as a poor-man’s Josh Gad (which is a phrase I thought I would have never said).

The plot in Baywatch is purposefully foolish, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is riddled with clichés. If something is self-aware of itself it has to be more than self-aware to pass as actual good entertainment. Comedian Hannibal Buress shows up for a bit, for no reason and then just disappears adding little to nothing to the story, which is odd. For a comedy there is also very little of anything that is funny long stretches go on throughout Baywatch where the bland plot takes center stage and the comedy is suppressed. Which is not how a comedy should be.

As far as cinematography goes, the shots are all very boring and predictable. There seemed to be no direction for the camerawork and instead, it is mainly just medium shots. Even the special effects felt cheap as a green screen was used in many of the action sequences, which is disappointing for a big studio film.

Paramount thought they had a 21 Jump Street (2012) on their hands by adapting popular 90s TV show Baywatch into a R-rated comedy. But the film version of Baywatch lacks the creative team and effort put into it that made 21 Jump Street such a popular and acclaimed comedy. And insteadBaywatch becomes a forgettable experience.