THE 2021 HOLIDAY SEASON MOVIE REVIEW WRAP-UP: “BELFAST,” “GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE,” “NO TIME TO DIE,” “SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME”

Published On January 30, 2022 | By Matt Neufeld | FILM REVIEWS

THE 2021 HOLIDAY SEASON MOVIE REVIEW WRAP-UP: “BELFAST,” “GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE,” “NO TIME TO DIE,” “SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME”

As always, and as always a detriment to film, there was an over-stuffed flurry of too many movies released during too short of a time period during the 2021 holiday season, resulting in the usual long list of problems that absolutely no one in the film business ever seems to learn from. Thus, too many over-rated, below-average and average movies received too much un-deserved attention, and too many above-average films did not receive the attention they deserved. Below is a wrap-up of four of the most talked-about, buzzed-about and high-zeitgeist movies of the 2021 season. In brief summarization, definitely see “Belfast” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” in the theater, and, generally, “No Time to Die” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” are huge, dark, depressing, doom-and-gloom downers that are greatly disappointing and do absolutely nothing to improve or advance their respective series.

Reviews by Matt Neufeld

“BELFAST”
Starring Jude Hill, Jamie Dornan, Catriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds, Colin Morgan, Lara McDonnell, Gerard Horan, Lewis McAskie, Olive Tennant
Written by Kenneth Branagh
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Produced by Kenneth Branagh, Laura Berwick, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas

Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical drama “Belfast,” about a beleaguered, lovable and quite normal and loving family simply trying to survive the insane, horribly destructive religious wars in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s during the turbulent and violent days of war and conflict that were deemed, too politely, as “the troubles,” is simply a wonderfully intelligent, insightful, caring, perceptive–and entertaining–film that just happens to be one of the best films from 2021–and one if the best films in recent years. “Belfast,” thus, is entirely deserving of the caravan and calvacade of awards that have rightfully and richly been bestowed upon this masterful achievement from Branagh.

Branagh was inspired by his own family’s experiences in inner-city Belfast in 1969, especially, as Protestants and Catholics waged war, conflict, threats, violence, fights, riots, lootings, mob-rule actions, intimidations and other dangerous acts of war, all in the name of religion. The fighting, point-blank, ruined lives, families, friendships, relationships, businesses, communities, neighborhoods–everything was just horribly turned upsidedown and inside-out. All in the name of religion. And Branagh’s real-life family was right there, caught in the middle of all of the madness and insanity, with nowhere to go but out.

Branagh, who was born on Dec. 10, 1960, was 8 years old, then, during the bulk of 1969–but the memories of those times made quite the clear impression on him. In “Belfast,” Branagh lovingly re-creates the initial beauty–in terms of architecture and the spirited, lovable personality of the good-hearted people who aren’t causing the troubles–of his childhood Belfast neighborhood community, with exquisite, carefully-crafted and finely-detailed period aspects. People, clothes, homes, stores, household products, furniture, cars, customs, practices, popular culture, music, buildings and other set, scene, prop, hair, art direction and production design aspects of the film are all beautifully recreated, thus appearing as indicative of a distinct time and place. And of course this adds to the film’s overall accurate, lovingly-detailed representation of that time and place.

But, of course, working off of the foundation of the set, art and production design, Branagh, as director, writer and co-producer, has lovingly and smartly paid equally detailed attention to his script, story, characterizations, actors and direction. All levels of filmic details are executed at equally high levels of quality in “Belfast,” resulting in a wholly-realized film that doesn’t falter or display weakness at any creative level. The film is right up there with Branagh’s best work, and that’s saying something, considering his stellar catalogue of film achievement.

Branagh centers and focuses his film around and about a thoroughly-lovable family of six, 9-year-old Buddy (based on a young Branagh), Buddy’s slightly-older brother Will, the brothers’ Ma and Pa, and Buddy’s adorably and wonderfully loving, caring and charming grandparents, Granny and Pop. All six of the actors in these roles simply shine on camera, deliver exceptional performances, are continuously and powerfully moving and emotional, and they all seem to be having the times of their lives as actors–they know they’re working with material at a high-level of quality and cultural and historical importance, and they all rise to the respective occasion.

First, young actor Jude Hill is a revelation as Buddy. Jude, who was 9 years old when he was cast by Branagh, is such a wonderful, natural, organic presence in the movie, one never sees or feels any sense of acting and drama schools tricks–Hill simply portrays and presents such a natural performance, one truly believes strongly that you are watching, indeed, simply what his character exactly, actually is–a 9-year-old kid trying to just be a regular kid, but who is unfairly, wrongly, confusingly and unfortunately caught up in the whirlwind of frightening, life-changing turmoils and troubles crazily engulfing his family, his friends, his neighborhood, his life. The film is largely centered on Buddy, and Jude simply carries the movie, the story and the viewer forward, creating sympathy for him, his family and world, heightening the tension of the movie as the story’s concurrent tension also rises. It’s a bravuro performance, and Jude Hill is also deserving of the praise being sent his way. Jude brings some ancestral and cultural credibility to the role, too–he is from Gilford, in County Down in Northern Ireland.

The other actors equally shine, too.

Jamie Dornan as Pa–Dornan has recently been whispered about as a possible next James Bond, and that would be great, actually–is incredibly strong as a good, strong, confidant–and consistently optimistic–father who only wants what everyone else wants, which is just a normal, fun life with his family. One aspect that stands out about Dornan’s character and portrayal is Pa’s enduring positivity. Pa gets drawn into the troubles despite doing everything right–he has a good job, he’s a hard worker, he has a good home, he has a strong support network of family and friends, he truly loves his equally-wonderful wife, and of course he loves his kids. Yet despite the troubles and violence that soon literally surrounds his family’s close-knit neighborhood, Pa remains strong, durable and, somehow, positive. He wants nothing more than to protect his family from harm, and Pa’s strength and confidence is encouraging and life-affirming. Dornan is a steady rock in the role.

Veteran actors Judi Dench as Granny and Ciaran Hinds as Pop–what incredible, smart casting, Kenneth!–tug and pull and yank at the heartstrings, as they sweetly, warmly and just so movingly and lovingly portray the wise grandparents who have been with each other so long, sometimes all that’s needed to communicate is a look, a smile, a touch of the hands, and a twinkly-eyed nod and a wink to express their emotions–and their love for each other. Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds are the type of veteran actors who, when you watch them in these roles in this movie, you tend to think–who else, really, could play these roles! Dench and Hinds will steal your heart in the best of ways. Viewers will naturally think, “Wow, I wish I could have met Branagh’s grandfolks.”

Catriona Balfe as Ma and Lewis McAskie as Will round out this excellent core group of strong actors with additional solid performances. A slew of supporting actors also deliver, including Colin Morgan as the film’s primary villain, local activist, terrorist and instigator Billy Clanton, whose dangerous provocations and acts of violence strongly contribute to the root problems of conflict and violence that shake, tremble, break down and break apart Buddy’s family, neighborhood and city. Corgan is appropriately scary, frightening and violent as Clanton, and his portrayal provides the appropriate stark contrast to the inherent goodness and likeability of Buddy, his family and their supportive friends.

Branagh’s always assured, strong, consistent and confidant direction and producing oversees everything in “Belfast.” His direction is so assured, the viewer never doubts Branagh’s story, storytelling, characters, points, messages and convictions. Branagh’s direction is personal, emotional, moving and heartfelt–without ever being overly-sentimental or saccharine.

And the film is strong, perceptive and insightful enough to convey several important messages, without being preachy, over-bearing or strong-headed. Branagh, through his style of personal and still entertaining writing and directing, let’s his messages come through organically, even slyly. The viewer knows that Branagh and his film are imparting important messages, but the viewer also knows Branagh is letting those messages seep in, sneak in to the mind and heart, so the movie, and it’s messages, will stay with you when you leave the theater.

Two of the major messages that “Belfast” imparts are, one, that, very basically, just how insane, irrational and moronic is it to wage war and violence in the name of, of all things…religion? Really– just how flat-out crazy is this? Yet mankind has not yet learned its collective lesson, and every day, week, month and year in mankind’s history, someone somewhere has or is stupidly waging an endless, senseless war–killing people and killing lives and killing cummunities–in the name of religion. And war–religious or otherwise, in general, most of the time–where does it get you and what is it good for? Absolutely nowhere and absolutely nothing.

The other major, over-riding message of “Belfast” is the importance of family, culture and community. Throughout “Belfast,” Pa, Ma, Granny, Pop and their extended family of relatives, friends, acquaintances, neighbors and businessmen all do their best to care for each other, look out for each other and take care of each other during the increasingly dangerous, unsteady and unstable fights, riots, conflicts and violence that is tearing their world apart. Of course, it’s what people should do during times of disaster, but it’s still heartening, and a positive message, to see people banding together during horrible times to simply help each other. It’s what people do, and it’s what people should do during the best of times and the worst of times.

During the closing moments of “Belfast,” viewers will be emotionally moved as the film moves toward a powerful conclusion. We know that Kenneth Branagh is still with us, so we know that Branagh, and Buddy, managed to survive. But we also know that, in real life, some folks did not survive. And that’s another powerful set of messages from Branagh: People can survive times of trouble, and that’s good and hopeful, but we should never forget those who fought the good fight and did not survive. We need to keep all of the survivors of war and conflict–alive or not alive–with us in our hearts, always.

“GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE”
Starring McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor
Written by Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman
Directed by Jason Reitman
Produced by Ivan Reitman

It’s no big secret or revelation that most movie sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots are flat-out terrible–especially during the last twenty-five years or so, during the horrific, unfortunate Age of the Sequelitis Pandemic–but we also know that every now and then, one of these types of projects sneaks through the mists and fogs of terribleness to actually succeed. As noted, there’s nothing new there, but it’s worth noting the latter point, when a sequel actually does manage to work on a positive, agreeable and serviceable level. Thus, it’s a pleasure to note that Ivan Reitman’s and Jason Reitman’s heartfelt, funny and fun “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” manages to indeed succeed as a welcome, emotionally moving sequel.

The first aspect to note about how and why “Afterlife” succeeds is the presence of Ivan and Jason Reitman. Ivan, Jason’s father, directed and produced the original “Ghostbusters” film in 1984 and that film’s sequel, “Ghostbusters II” in 1989, and Ivan returns to produce “Afterlife.” And Jason, like his dad, is a talented director of equally-quirky, entertaining movies, and Jason co-wrote and directed “Afterlife.” The presence of this talented, creative and funny father-son duo of filmmakers is a big reason for “Afterlife’s” big success–and its big heart. “Afterlife” is full of heart, and it’s full of “Ghostbusters”-centric heart. And the latter is especially important. When you’re dealing with a bonafide popular cultural phenomenon such as “Ghostbusters,” you better bring that heart to any project with that story’s name and concurrent community, fan base and history.

And, thus, the Reitmans, along with co-executive-producer Dan Aykroyd and assorted other “Ghostbusters”cast and crew from the first two films, remember to bring that heart –but, also, to bring those strong emotions without being a detriment to the new movie. That heart manages to propel the third film in the series to ultimately be an enjoyable, smile-inducing, heart-pulling, positive, emotion-stirring comedy fantasy supernatural ghost movie that stands on its own but also manages to connect to the original storyline, characters and atmosphere of the first two movies. These days in the film world, that can count as a solid achievement.

Who ya’ gonna call? Ivan and Jason Reitman. And Dan Aykroyd.

The less said about the ill-fated, questionable, oddly conceived and generally misguided and weird “Ghostbusters” movie from 2016–which strangely didn’t manage to satisfyingly, consistently or even respectfully connect to the original two films–the better.

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is, in all manners, aspects and respect, the official third film in the original, official “Ghostbusters” trilogy, and, as noted, that’s a good thing.

“Afterlife” finds original ghostbuster, paranormal researcher and scientist Egon Spengler’s daughter, Callie, and her two kids, Phoebe and Trevor, moving to Egon’s beautiful, sprawling Summerville, Oklahoma, farm after Egon has a fatal heart attack. That’s not a spoiler–this plot development occurs in the movie’s first few minutes, and most folks know that Harold Ramis, the incredibly talented director, writer, producer and actor who played Egon, sadly died much too soon in 2014 at the age of 69. Ramis and Aykroyd co-wrote and starred in the 1984 and 1989 “Ghostbusters” movies.

It’s also no spoiler to say that Phoebe, Trevor and Callie soon start to see and deal with, well, ghosts lurking out there in the modern-day frontier open lands of small-town Oklahoma. Natch, if Egon Spengler’s family wasn’t dealing with ghosts, it wouldn’t be much of a “Ghostbusters” movie! The plot and story specifics regarding that fight, though, are best left to be enjoyed while watching the movie.

The enjoyment of the movie comes from watching how everyone involved manages to smoothly connect, bridge, honor, respect and ably bring together the past and the present in one clever storyline, without stretching, bending, over-turning, disrupting, warping–or forgetting–the over-riding, over-arching, all-important main “Ghostbusters” characters, community, history, background, plotlines and storylines.

Director and co-writer Jason Reitman, who wrote the new script with Gil Kenan, and producer Ivan Reitman deserve credit on several levels. Taking the setting out of New York City and going far away to a different, more nature-oriented, more welcoming and more naturalistic small-town setting gives the movie a chance to be set in a new, fresh location–again, without disrupting the overall “Ghostbusters” atmosphere, mood and milieu.

Another attribute is keeping that general mood and atmosphere, which original-film writers Aykroyd and Ramis meant, in part, as a tribute, celebration and homage of and to those light, but fun, comedy ghost movies of the 1940s and 1950s. That spirit, so to speak, is still present, thankfully, in “Afterlife.” The mood, tone and outlook are light, airy, breezy, fun, good-hearted, positive and even just-plain goofy and silly. All of which is just fine–the world needs more goofy and silly movies–executed well, of course. It’s good to be silly.

The casting is strong, and, just like “Belfast,” a young actor steals much of the movie. McKenna Grace, who plays Phoebe and who was 13 during much of the filming, delivers a confident performance that is also very natural and down-to-earth. Phoebe is strong, curious, inquisitive and intelligent, and McKenna presents her character with all of these strong qualities without being arrogant or over-bearing. Phoebe is likable, and viewers will care about and be willing to follow her and her own paranormal and supernatural investigative research in the story. Supporting McKenna are equally strong performances from the always-reliable and steady veteran, at 18 already, Finn Wolfhard as Trevor; young Logan Kim as a new Oklahoma friend with a great modern-day nickname, Podcast; Carrie Coon as Egon’s daughter Callie Spengler; and the always-reliable, always-funny Paul Rudd as Phoebe’s somewhat-lazy summer school teacher Gary Grooberson, who shows horror movies to his class instead of teaching.

If you’re going to cast a modern-day comedic actor for a new “Ghostbusters” movie, who ya’ gonna call? Paul Rudd just fits perfectly into this particular comedy world, and Rudd does have some funny moments. Rudd knows silly and goofy.

Do “Ghostbusters” veterans Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver appear in “Afterlife?” Do you think that question would actually be answered here? You’ll just have to see the movie.

And, yes, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” should be seen, and it should be seen in an actual theater. And enjoying “Afterlife” brings to mind a comment by a Seattle Times reviewer who smartly said about the excellent new version of “West Side Story” directed by Steven Spielberg: it’s like being reacquainted with an old friend who now looks different. Well, sometimes, it’s good to be reacquainted with some old friends, and with “Afterlife,” it’s good to once again spend some quality movie time with our talented, creative, fun, funny, silly and goofy “Ghostbusters” friends.

Who ya’ gonna call? “Ghostbusters!”

“NO TIME TO DIE”
Starring Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Rami Malek, Lea Seydoux, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Billy Magnussen, David Dencik, Rory Kinnear
Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Based on the James Bond character created by Ian Fleming
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga
Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli

After all of the hype (un-deserved), delays, postponements, re-schedulings, production problems, rumors, speculation and secrecy, it’s quite distressing to report that “No Time to Die,” the 27th overall and 25th in the Eon Productions line of spy movies featuring author Ian Fleming’s British Secret Service agent James Bond, is a major depressing, downer, doom-and-gloom, despondent and dark disappointment.

“Die” falters in just about every filmic respect, including production, direction, script and even acting, despite its array of veteran, talented and reliable actors. In many ways, unfortunately and realistically, the movie is distressingly indicative and representative of the generally and unnecessarily depressing overall look and feel of all of the Daniel Craig Bond movies. There’s been five of the Craig-era Bond movies released since 2006, and, well, they all suffer from a general lack of the over-riding fun, funny, fantastical and entertaining elements that were present in the Bond movies that preceded all of them. Yes, some of the Craig Bond movies were enjoyable overall, they’re all well-made on a certain level–including “Die”–and they certainly bring truckloads of big-budget entertainment to the screen. But they’re all also dark, too dark, and they just seem to lack that needed, requisite nod-nod-wink-wink sense of humor, sense of fun, sense of inventive thrills and chills, and even sense of fantasy.

“Die,” especially, suffers from all of this. Oh, all of the usual big-budget Bondian ingredients are there– exotic locales around the world, beautiful women, bizarre villains, destroy-the-world scenarios, action sequences, intrigue, spy games, gizmos and gadgets–but, alas, it’s all buried in hazes of needless melodrama, sappy romances, strained plot lines, cringy story lines, fractured dialogue, overall negativity, that lack of humor, and, well, that over-arching gloomy doomy darkness on the edge of Bond.

Much of the problem has to do with the script, and its scriptwriters, which wallows in that too-real and too-negative and too-realistic tone that’s generally just not entertaining to sit through. Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are the main culprits, as they’ve written much of the Craig-era Bond movie scripts. They put in place a continuing storyline that travelled from film to film, and that’s where the problems started. Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli should have stopped this, and they should have hired new screenwriters, several films ago. But they all stuck with this game plan, and, looking back, it was a losing game plan.

There are just two scenes in “Die” that rise to the classic Bond level of thrills and chills. One scene is a fight scene with the beautiful, sexy, sultry and tough actress Ana de Armas as the spy Paloma. De Armas assuredly, strongly and confidently manages to completely steal the movie, and she manages to present a few minutes of what these Craig-era Bond movies should have been on a more consistent level. Another scene that stands out in “Die” is an action chase scene featuring some incredible stunt, car, chase, action, editing and camera work. But these two classic Bond-like scenes are not enough to save this movie.

“Die” dies completely in the nosediving, spiralling-downward, wreck of a third act. The movie’s last twenty minutes manages to sadly, strangely and, again, depressingly bring down everything that came before that third act and everything that was set up in the prior Craig-era Bond movies. These movies appeared to set Bond up for a happy retirement life with a beautiful girlfriend, a child, a great retirement estate and a great life. But in “Die,” this off-putting, scattershot, conflicted movie seems to suggest that everything was for nothing, and that Bond is killed trying to save the world. That’s not really a spoiler, because that’s one if the main plot and story points that brings down the movie. And it’s also not really a spoiler because that familiar credit sequence line of reassurance is indeed clear and present in the end credits:. James Bond will return.

Well, if James Bond will return, then why on earth does “Die” pretend or seem or suggest to kill off James Bond? It just doesn’t make any sense, its bad writing, it’s bad direction, it’s confusing and unclear, and, for the Bond world and community, it’s bad filmmaking.

The year 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the James Bond movie series, as the first movie, “Dr. No,” was released in 1962. Thus, there’s going to be continued attention on the James Bond movies in 2022.

Thus, Wilson and Broccoli have one major, clear-cut movie mission going forward: Ditch the downer negativity and depression; get a new, positive, optimistic, funny and entertaining writer; and, for the sake of James Bond, Bond movies, spy movies, Bond fans; the greater Bond world and zeitgeist; and the movie business, please keep James Bond alive and well and get the James Bond/Ian Fleming movie series back to the general upbeat, heroic spirit, mood and atmosphere of the series’ pre-Craig era.

To borrow and alter from a few lines from Bond, the Bond movies need to simply get back to being shaken and stirring. Tomorrow never dies. We have all the time in the world.

“SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME”
Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield
Written by Chris McKenna and Erik Somers
Based on the Spider-Man comic books and character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Directed by Jon Watts
Produced by Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal

Yes, it’s true that, somehow, strangely, mysteriously and even bizarrely, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has crept it’s way into the top ten of all-time movie moneymakers, if anyone can believe that. It’s not mean, disrespectful or unprofessional to say that that’s a complete mystery–because the movie is, on every filmic level, a mess, inept, misguided, muddled and and a disappointment. The movie is over-done, over-saturated, over-reaching, over-loud, cluttered, clunky, and the script, story, plot, direction, production, timing, pacing and even some of the acting is just either average or below-average.

The movie’s box office success, then, is the most perplexing box office success since the equally-bizarre success of the last two Avengers movies.

All of these movies suffer from the same pounding, thudding, noisy onslaught, barrage and stampede of general over-production. There’s no sense of clever or original scriptwriting, storytelling, dialogue or plot, story or character development–despite obvious attempts to achieve these goals. The direction is all unoriginal, predictable, cookie-cutter, formulaic, to the point where filmgoers spot what’s coming light years and worlds and universes ahead of what does indeed eventually happen. The production is big, and shiny, and big-budget, and full of special effects and explosions and fights and flying and crashes and big buildings and structures crumbling and tumbling down–but all of that is the problem. We’ve seen it all before, and we’ve seen it all too many times. And even the top-level, talented actors don’t get to shine because of all of the formula constraints and restraints presented above.

And, once again, there’s just been too much of this for too long–for not just years now, but for decades. Theses movies–comic book superhero fantasy science-fiction escapist movies–have been caught and trapped mercilessly in their own movie business repetitive alternate universe now for so long and in such a state of unoriginality and Sequelitis Pandemic sickness, people–including diehard fans of the genres–are continually, constantly wondering when this will ever end.

This has everything to do with “No Way Home.” The problems start with the movie’s basic story, which builds off of a bad story development that disappointingly ended 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” At the end of that movie, which was entertaining, Peter Parker was revealed to the world as the identity of Spider-Man. Well, that was a dumb move. Why do that at all? The whole fun of a comic book superhero is that he has a secret identity. Why reveal that? That bad ending basically ruined the 2019 entry.

So in this new entry, the plot gets even worse: The main plot only centers around Peter Parker asking the character Dr. Strange to cast a spell so people will forget that they all know Spider-Man’s identity. So Strange’s spell goes wrong, a bunch of villains from past movies are released from death–which makes no sense, even in this comic book fantasy world–and then Parker has to figure out how to fight, deal with, get rid of and kill off these pesky villains somehow reappearing from graves, or other worlds, or alternate universes, or Mars, or Venus, or Dr. Strange’s spell world, or Salem’s Lot, or Mordor, or Amityville, or something.

And that’s it. From there, the movie is a complete mess, stumbling around in inconsistencies, confusion, clutter and generally confusing, stretched-out and over-loaded everything.

And then, there’s the Avengers-like final thirty minutes and third act–which makes no sense, is entirely unnecessary, is too dark and depressing, is a downer for no clear reason–and which crazily, idiotically and depressingly tears down and destroys everything that the 2021, 2019 and 2017 Spider-Man movies worked so hard to create. Why create a storytelling universe–only to completely, wholly tear it all down to absolutely nothing?! The story and plot, and thus the movie, just ends up not making any sense.

There have been nine Spider-Man movies since 2002, believe it or not. The best of them remains 2002’s superb “Spider-Man,” which started Tobey Maguire in an excellent performance; which was written by David Koepp; and which was strongly directed by Sam Raimi. None of the follow-up films have reached that movie’s overall, consistent level of excellence.

Spider-Man, the character, was first introduced in comic books by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in August, 1962. The comic books and a daily comic strip are still going, sixty years later.

The next Spider-Man film needs to correct the many wrongs of “No Way Home,” and for all fans and for all that’s right in the comic book, superhero, fantasy, science-fiction and movie worlds, this needs to be done soon to set things right again.. But after this is done, it’s time to let Mr. Lee’s and Mt. Ditko’s creation–Spider-Man– have a nice, long, deserved vacation from the movies for a while, a long while.

The suits, managers, executives and producers at Disney, Marvel and Sony need to take some advice from Spider-Man himself. With the rights to popular culture, comic book, entertainment and movie characters and stories, there comes great power. And with great power, there comes great responsibility.

–30–
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