• Film reviews

    #364 – 3 Giant Men (1973)

    3 Giant Men (1973)

    Film review #364

    Director: T. Fikret Uçak

    SYNOPSIS:  A smuggling gang led by Spider-man is stealing precious artefacts in Turkey and selling them for huge profits in the U.S. The Turkish authorities call in Captain America and Mexican wrestler Santo in order to defeat Spider-man and stop the smuggling ring.

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS3 Giant Men (3 Dev Adam) is a 1973 Turkish superhero film. The film centres around Captain America and Mexican wrestler Santo trying to stop a smuggling ring headed by Spider-man (or “the Spider” as he is called in the film). It may strike you from this summary that this is a completely bizarre concept for a film, and makes very little sense considering the characters themselves, but we’ll get on to that later. First, the story begins with a woman being caught by Spider-man’s gang and being killed by having a boat’s propeller reversed into her face (offscreen anyway, signified by the spraying of what looks like tomato ketchup onto the legs of a witness). With this smuggling gang stealing and killing all over the place, the Turkish authorities call in Captain America and Mexican wrestler Santo in order to stop the gang. The story unfolds without any surprising or complex elements; the premise is laid out at the beginning and it’s followed through until the end without interruption. The story reminds me of classic movie serials, which consisted in a lot of this constant back and forth of fight scenes, car chases, and investigating.

    Okay let’s talk about the characters: first, Turkish cinema around this time is infamous for using characters and footage from other properties without permission, and I’m pretty sure this is another example of that. When the police chief first meets Captain America, he remarks how good his Turkish is for an American…except it is plain to see that he is not American, he is played by a Turkish actor, who consequentially does not resemble Captain America in any way. I wonder how much Turkish audiences in 1973 would be familiar with American superheroes, and since it is probably very little, I suppose they could get away with just doing whatever they wanted with the characters. The Mexican wrestler Santo is an original character for the film, and puts on his wrestler mask and cape whenever he needs to fight some bad guys. At one point he is seen wearing a native American jacket, which is a bit odd if he is Mexican, and I wonder if the filmmakers were just conflating the two out of laziness and/or ignorance. Spider-man being the villain is probably the oddest character of the film, as he is one of the most innocent and naive of any superhero. Here, however, he is portrayed as a ruthless murder, who stabs multiple people, tortures them and at one point sends some rats down a ridiculous contraption to eat someone’s eyes out. Perhaps the most bizarre part of his character is when Captain America is explaining that Spider-man cannot stand people who dress up in costumes (such as Captain America), and he will automatically attack them on sight. How does that work? Is he jealous that his ill-fitting suit is upstaged by other costumes? I assume it’s that. Either way, “The Spider” is a ruthless villain with absolutely no connection to the original character, Also his huge eyebrows are a major distraction…

    I can’t quite figure out who this film is meant to be for: the superhero characters might make you think it is a more family-oriented, as the original characters would have been, but the all the brutal deaths and torture (even though it is mostly off-screen) is definitely not family viewing. Couple that with the semi-nudity and stripper scenes and you’re definitely looking at a film intended for adults. The film as you might expect is a very low budget affair, with cheap sets, costumes and props being the norm throughout. Again, it reminds me of the classic movie serials, which used a limited amount of sets and props to keep costs low. There are some surprisingly good points though: Captain America’s suit looks pretty well done (in contrast to Spider-man’s green and red suit, which as mentioned does not fit well), and the fight scenes are quite decently choreographed, although clumsily edited in parts. At the end, the fight between Captain America and Spider-man gets incredibly ridiculous, with Captain America killing off Spider-man in a number of silly ways, only for him to reappear around a corner, and the fight carry on somewhere else. I assume they are all body doubles, but with this film it’s hard to tell what logic it subscribes to from one scene to the next. This film is ridiculous: it’s portrayal of it’s characters is completely at odds with the source material, the story is fairly basic, and is filled with odd scenes that make no sense (what was the deal with the puppet scene?). The film also crams in some raunchy scenes and gory violence that makes it feel like the film is just throwing all sorts into the picture without any consideration for a consistent tone. In the end though, you’re never going to take this film that seriously, and it’s worth a watch just to see how bad it is, and you’ll certainly get a laugh out of how cheap and silly it all is.

  • Film reviews

    #353: Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse (2018)

    Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse (2018)

    Film review #353

    Director: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

    SYNOPSIS: Miles Morales is a typical teenager who is starting at a prestigious new school. While hanging out with his uncle Aaron, he is bitten by a radioactive spider and finds he has developed similar powers to Spider-man himself. He runs into Spider-man, who is trying to stop Kingpin from opening up a portal to other dimensions in order to bring back his family. This fight results in Spider-man being killed, and Miles is left as the only one who can stop Kingpin’s schemes. However, he soon finds out that he is, in fact, not alone, as various others who have inherited the powers of Spider-man have found themselves in Miles’ dimension when Kingpin activated his machine, and they must all team up to stop Kingpin and find their way back home…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSISSpider-man: Into the Spider-verse is a 2018 animated film. The film starts of by introducing Spider-man, or Peter Parker, as he has become the well known superhero everybody loves. The opening provides a quick recap of who Spider-man is, his origin story, and so on. If you’re watching the film, then you probably have a good idea of the various facets of Spider-man lore, but it helps set the scene nicely without spending too much time retreading the same well-worn ground of the origin story we all know. There are a few sly references thrown in to previous iterations of the Spider-man franchise, which offer something new to those who are familiar with it. The film starts properly by introducing Miles Morales, a teenager who is starting a prestigious new school thanks to winning a lottery and has to leave all his old friends behind to find he doesn’t quite fit in at his new school. While the film started off briefly introducing Peter Parker as Spider-Man, Miles Morales’ story is much less known, so the film takes a while to get going by introducing his character, his family and so on. His origin story isn’t so different from Peter’s (he gets bitten by a radioactive spider much the same), so the beginning does re-tread ground a little, but tries to intersperse the story with Miles’ unique position and as a character most people are unfamiliar with.

    While trying to come to terms with his new powers, Miles encounters Spider-man, who is attempting to stop villain Kingpin from turning on a large machine which will open up a portal to other dimensions and cause catastrophic damage to New York City. Miles is entrusted with a memory drive that can shut down the machine, but before Spider-man can escape, he is caught and killed by Kingpin. This is quite a turn in the film, and it delves into the aftermath of Spider-man’s death and the effect on the people of the city. Miles also finds himself personally  without anyone to teach him how to use and control his new powers, which adds to his problems. However, he soon runs into Peter Parker, or Spider-man: not the one that he saw killed, but one that was pulled from another dimension when Kingpin’s machine was activated. This Peter Parker is older and more jaded than the one Miles familiar with, and is set up as one that has lived through a large number of troubles, including breaking up with his wife/childhood sweetheart Mary Jane, which has left him a bit of a wreck. The Parker/Morales relationship that develops between the two is a cross between a father-son relationship and a ‘buddy cop’ kind of movie, where the experienced partner reluctantly takes on a rookie, and eventually learns to trust people again and so on. The film also plays around with Morales’ troubled relationship with his Dad and his more friendly relationship with his uncle, which all leads to developing a very complex web (pun intended) of relations and interactions. We are perhaps so familiar with superhero origin stories that they are rendered a little sterile and without impact, and Into the Spider-verse does a good job of playing with that. It also does it with a diverse cast and characters who you don’t see as much in superhero stories, which will also appeal to a different type of audience, while also providing enough substance for veterans of the franchise. Spider-man is often shown as a hero who works alone, with no side-kick or partners, so the film’s attempt to provide something new and also true to the formula provides a good variety of content and delves deep into the Spider-man mythology without it becoming too overwhelming.

    The highlights of the film are numerous, but I’ll try and focus on the important ones. The Parker/Morales relationship as mentioned is portrayed very well, and while not the most original dynamic, it projects it into a superhero story that is usually told with only one hero. Praise definitely should also be given to the composition of the scenes as the dynamic perspectives and interspersed comic book effects really portray the kind of energy of a comic book come to life. The animation too is like nothing else attempted before, and captures high speed, action-packed scenes with a high amount of intensity and vibrant colours achieved through a technical expertise I can’t really fathom. Each character also has their own unique figure or animation style, and that helps contribute to the diversity of the film. Not only do a whole cast of Spider-man’s from various dimensions, but there’s also a number of different villains for them to face off against, and plenty of twists and turns in the story keep the energy flowing throughout the entire film.

    There are a few negative points, but they are pretty minor, and don’t detract very much from the positives. While the Parker/Morales partnership is well developed, the other Spider-man characters aren’t explored and developed anywhere as near as much. They provide some variety, but most of their screen time is providing grounds for a specific joke or a bit of dialogue you would expect them to say, which flattens their character somewhat. There are also one or two times when the dialogue isn’t clear over the songs they play, but these are all minor moments and not a huge problem. The soundtrack itself is not particularly appealing to me (not a criticism because it is not aimed at me), but some of the songs are a bit more wide appeal.

    Overall, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse tells a familiar story in the Spider-Man universe, but does it with new characters and old, cramming in references to all other iterations of the franchise while providing a fresh take on some of those familiar elements. The animation and composition is strong and displays a technical competency while also putting it to good use developing a colourful and vibrant aesthetic. The action is fast and intense, the humour is silly, appealing, and the serious moments have distinct impact. There are some elements of the film that are underdeveloped somewhat, but because the film is so filled with characters and content that is to be expected. Into the Spider-Verse is a film that will appeal to and entertain those who are familiar with all the Spider-Man iterations and those who are new to the franchise.

    Also; this film probably has the best post-credits scene ever.