After our original New Year's plans fell through, we decided to spend the New Year's weekend at the movies, watching two films that provided equally unexpected surprises. One pleasant and one not so pleasant. Let's start with the pleasant.
***SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't seen either of the movies below and plan to, you probably won't want to continue reading, as much of the plot, and both surprises, will be revealed!***
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Why do I mention this? You'll find out.
This film starts off sometime after "The Avengers: Endgame" and the death of Ironman, and not long after the last Spiderman film, "Far From Home" where Spiderman defeated and killed Mysterio, and was labeled by some as a villain for doing so. This resulted in the press revealing to the world that Peter Parker was Spiderman. Goodbye secret identity. This sentiment carried over to "No Way Home", where the film started with everyone out to get Spiderman/Peter Parker. Things got so bad for our arthropod hero that he asked fellow Avenger Dr. Strange to whip up a spell that would make everyone forget that Peter Parker was Spiderman.
Unfortunately, as Dr. Strange was implementing the spell, Parker, who was easily the most annoying, juvenile bozo of the three Spiderman portrayals, decided at the last minute that several close people should be excluded from this spell. Needless to say, this messed up the spell to the point where it opened a chasm to what is known as the "Marvel Cinematic Universe", and dangerous foes from other worlds begin to enter and appear. These foes, coincidently, were the aforementioned Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Sandman, The Lizard and Electro.
Strangely, however, Spiderman didn't know who these villains were, nor did any of them recognize him as Spiderman, even though they fought each other in recent years. Huh? Dr. Strange would soon reappear and announce that he would be sending the villains back to their respective universes via another spell. However, some of them had died in their original battle with Spiderman, which meant they would again die when they returned. How they they were resurrected in the first place was never revealed. Parker decided that wasn't fair, and instead wanted to try come up with a formula to cure these thugs and revert them to their pre-villain state. Which, of course, this Spiderman didn't know what that was since he didn't even know who they were. To attempt this, Spiderman again had to booby-trap Dr. Strange's spell, which he did.
My first reaction to all of this was, "Argh", what is this twit doing? These are really bad guys. You're a crime fighter. Just send them back! I fortunately had watched the previous Maguire/Garfield Spiderman movies and was aware of their back stories. And as I thought about it more, I began to remember that each of these villains didn't begin as villains. Nor were their intentions to be villains. They all were victims of unfortunate circumstances or events that turned them into what they now were. So maybe they did deserve a chance of being cured? My thinking began to change.
Soon after, another multi-universe window was opened to help locate Spiderman, who had disappeared due to a personal tragedy that he was partly responsible for.. Instead, in walked the two biggest surprises of the entire movie: Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Yes, Spiderman 1 and 2. As it turns out, there weren't three actors playing Spiderman all of these years, but each ARE Spiderman, but from a different Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kind of clever. So when the Toby Maguire Spiderman confronted the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus and Sandman, they instantly recognized each other. Same with Garfield and Electro and The Lizard. Before long, all three Spidermen joined forces to complete the original goal: cure the five villains. Things didn't start well, which prompted the Garfield Spiderman to respond with one of the funniest lines in the movie: "I don't know how to work as a team!" After a quick huddle, they figured it out, and you can probably guess what happened. It was a nice touch seeing the Maguire/Garfield Spidermen confront their respective villains once again, but in a post-villain state.
I have to say that seeing all three Spiderman actors together was really odd. Mostly because it took me by surprise. One can't help wonder what it took to convince Maguire and Garfield to put on their tights again. Not only that, the villains were also portrayed by the original actors. All-in-all, the movie was very fun to watch, despite the confusing multi-universe concept, and the Holland Spiderman acting like a 10 year-old half the time. I know that Spiderman in the comics is a happy-go-lucky high schooler, but the whiny Holland is over the top and pretty annoying most of the time. At least to me. I've been pretty critical of past Marvel movie storylines, but this one deserves some credit. An enjoyable experience and well worth the price of a ticket.
I had read somewhere that many thought that Maguire was the best Spiderman, Garfield the best Peter Parker, and Holland the best of the two combined. Can't say I agree with that. When you see all three actors together, you can clearly see how Holland isn't in the same league as Maguire or Garfield in acting ability. Personally, I think Garfield was the best all-around Spiderman/Peter Parker, but Maguire was my favorite. He's such a great actor (check out "Cider House Rules" sometime).
To fully enjoy the experience of watching "No Way Home", the movie makers pretty much require viewers to have watched the five Maguire/Garfield movies. Those who don't will miss many of the references to these movies, character backstories, and won't understand the relationships between the villains and their corresponding Spiderman. And as a result probably won't enjoy the movie as much as they could have. With how well "No Way Home" is doing at the box office, I'm guessing the film has jump started the sales and rentals of the original five movies tenfold. Which may have been one of the intentions of the movie makers choosing this storyline. I wouldn't put it past them!
No Time to Die
So what's the surprise? Well, let's just say that Bond did have time to die. Because that's what he did. At the end of the movie an injured James Bond, unable to escape a factory that was about to be destroyed by missile fire, stood atop the building and watched with us as the missiles made impact, blowing 007 to smithereens. Kabluwee. Just like that, James Bond was gone, and a successful, long running franchise ended. Or was it?
As a secondary surprise, it was also revealed that James Bond very likely had a daughter. The movie started five years in the past where Bond meets and falls in love with Madeleine, who, as a child, was almost killed by Lyutsifer Safin, who would re-surface in her adulthood and be the film's primary villain. Bond helps her escape Safin a second time, but are then separated for five years. When they accidently reunite, we learn that Madeleine now has a five year old daughter named Mathilde who she tells Bond isn't his. But hints throughout the rest of the film indicate otherwise.
So could it be that the next Bond movie will feature a female lead, Mathilde Bond? It wouldn't surprise me in the least, seeing that todays movie studios continue to move into the direction of political correctness. Having another strong female character would fit right in. Not there's anything wrong with it. I'm all for it. I love characters like Black Widow and Wonder Woman! But in the past five years or so, we're suddenly been inundated with women kicking the butts of men, relationships of mixed color, people with different sexual preferences, etc. in nearly every movie we see. Compared to movies released just 10 or so years ago, it's so obvious what Hollywood is doing now. Why? Two words: societal pressure.
Not that there aren't people in this industry that have always supported issues like gender, sexual preferences, and minority oppression, but the studios of today don't want to be accused of being intolerant to anyone, and subsequently criticized for it, which would likely end up resulting in a hit at the box office. Or, in todays terms, being "cancelled". So what Hollywood is doing now isn't the issue, it should have been done years ago, but their motivation is what's troubling. Many are being "politically correct", and so obviously, not because they want to, but because they have to. Else we would have seen these type of characters in the volume we are now 15 years ago.
Phew, my speech is over! In short, I'd recommend seeing both movies when you have the opportunity.