Movies based on video games don’t have the best track record. The most famous example is the very first, 1993’s The Mario Bros Movie, but plenty of franchises have tried their hand at the silver screen. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Doom, Prince of Persia, and Warcraft are just some of the many lackluster attempts over the years however, it feels like nobody is willing to acknowledge the few that slip through. 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was popular enough to get a sequel, as was 1995’s Mortal Kombat. Despite underwhelming sequels, 2002’s Resident Evil is liked enough but they all seem to struggle with their core demographic. The youngest age that any of these films aimed for was 12, with 15 being the preferred age. The two most popular videogame movies of all time, namely The Angry Birds Movie and The Sonic the Hedgehog Movie, aimed for that sweet, marketable, profitable PG rating. Whether or not these were good videogame movies debatable but they were wildly popular with their core demographic, and even slightly older demographics with Sonic. The main comparison to be made between these two installments is that they vary from their source material, keeping names, designs, and very little else. Adaption seems to be necessary for adaptation, which is something that Uncharted never achieves.

The story follows thieving Nathan “Nate” Drake as he meets fellow thief Victor “Sully” Sullivan and they attempt to find the lost Magellan treasure. Along the way, they encounter a couple of Sully’s old associates, who have been individually hired by ruthless billionaire Santiago Moncada. This plotline is not lifted directly from the games, however, several key setpieces and relationships are. Uncharted tries to walk the line of “just like the game” and “a whole new story” which ultimately means that it never fully achieves either. The set pieces are fantastic, particularly during the finale, but one can’t help thinking how cool these would be to play through. These set pieces, and characters, are chosen from across the timeline of the game series, notably Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End which means that they don’t function as they do in the games. It’s close enough to pay homage but not accurate enough to appease fans.

Meanwhile, the film itself is as standard as they come. It’s a little bit Indiana Jones and a little bit Goonies but both of these featured more fleshed-out characters and knowingly entertaining scripts. Films like those practically invented the cliches that Uncharted fails to utilise with any real meaning. The script is filled to the brim with zingers and one-liners, but that doesn’t make a character. The protagonist of the Uncharted games isn’t Nathan Drake…it’s you. You control his actions, you experience the story firsthand and you are the person being constantly screwed over by Sully. Nathan Drake is just a vessel with a backstory, which is why any adaptation is required to give him his own agency. This film doesn’t manage that and it sadly isn’t helped by the casting of Tom Holand. Tom’s natural charm and charisma are this films saving grace, as are his impressive parkour skills.

Uncharted is just another videogame movie. The score is lovely and the setpieces entertaining but Lara Croft: Tomb Raider achieved that 2 decades ago. Had this film come out then, it may have faired better…but it also would have preceded the game series by 5 years.

Here’s hoping Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is better.

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Road to No Way Home

It’s no secret that I was hesitant about Spider-Man: No Way Home. The third in the MCU’s trilogy of Spider-Man films seemed like it might be filled with nostalgia and very little else. This was the cap on an iteration of a character that I hadn’t been overly fond of in a franchise that has been known to rely heavily on connections to itself. I was hesitant.

Then I saw it and came to a conclusion that I did not expect – it was good. It wasn’t perfect, not the new “Best Spider-Man Film” as many fans claimed, but that over-reliance on nostalgia never manifested. Instead, there was a decent story, with the occasional flaw, which ultimately resulted in a solid origin story for the MCU’s Peter Parker.

However, it never occurred to me that this might be the case. I hoped, of course, but never let myself believe it and I made my hesitancy known. What follows is a collection of every single tweet I made in regards to No Way Home, both on my professional and private accounts. It is preserved here as a reminder, both for you and myself, that opinions can change. You never truly know what a movie or television show is going to give you until you see it for yourself.

(08/12/20) Do not drag the Raimi trilogy into the MCU. Stop.

(09/12/20) If Disneys Spider-Man 3 fails, people will cite that it’s because there were too many villains/characters. I would like to be the first to say, miles ahead of time, that this is incorrect.

(09/12/20) If they called it Spider-Man: No Place Like Home, I would die of embarrassment on Disney’s behalf. Be funny though.

(30/01/21) Listen. I like canon as much as the next nerd BUT I doubt that the MCU will make Agents of SHIELD and The Defenders and its associated shows canon. IF any characters make their way into the MCU, it’ll probably be as alternate versions of those characters. This also applies to the upcoming Spider-Man 3, Doctor Strange 2, and WandaVision because this will end up being a massive multiverse just NOT in the way that you think it will.

Please remember to manage your expectations

(24/02/21) Good morning to the MCU fans who thought we were getting a Spider-Man 3 title because Tom Holland was on a talk show last night.

(24/02/21) I would not at all be shocked if we only get a Spider-Man 3 title when WandaVision is over. Maybe even a “Wanda Will return in Spider-Man: Home Run” at the end of Episode 9

(24/02/21) Spider-Man: No Homo

(24/02/21) With the announcement of Spider-Man: No Way Home, I would like to tell you all that the FIRST Spider-Man 3 is good and that Marc Webb deserved to make Amazing Spider-Man 3. This should be the 3rd time we’re being entertained by a “Spider-Man 3

(17/04/21) My fave thing about Alfred Molina returning as Doc Ock is the use of de-aging in some scenes. So they’re almost definitely pulling the old “he’s been in the MCU all along, we just haven’t heard from him yet” bit. It’s kinda ridiculous and I’m kinda here for it

(1/05/21) Spider-Man: No Way Home is trending today and it will trend again tomorrow due to one of these 3 things. 1) The trailer doesn’t come out and people get upset. 2) It comes out and confirms the involvement of Maguire and/or Garfield and everybody loses their collective minds 3) It comes out and DOESN’T confirm their involvement prompting a backlash. REGARDLESS of the outcome, Disney is going to get free publicity for their movie so react however you want because it literally does not matter to them. (Personally don’t want them involved btw)

(31/05/21) When we do get a trailer for Disney’s Spider-Man it will ABSOLUTELY use at least their voices. The amount of hype it would produce would be unfathomable. I wouldn’t agree with this tactic but I’d understand it. Still don’t want them in the movie though.

(01/06/21) Spider-Man: No Way, Homo

(23/07/21) SPIDER-MAN TRENDING AGAIN?? They will release it when they release it.

(23/08/21) Waiting for the official release of the Spider-Man: NWH trailer like a good little nerd

(24/08/21) I will not let the No Way Home Trailer nostalgia-bait me. It is a lazy tactic to draw me in… I’m still gonna watch the movie though. Doc Ock looking fine.


(08/11/21) Me saying that I don’t trust spoilers and then being proven right is pure narcissistic joy.

(08/11/21) All Spider-Man: Now Way Home fans


(9/11/21) Perhaps Sony is releasing images of Tom Holland on a bridge to remind you that this is a Tom Holland Spider-Man movie because SOME of you seem to have forgotten that.

(9/11/21) If not seeing Tobey and Andrew in NWH will “ruin” that movie for you, if you’re going to throw a hissy fit because “Sony lied” then do us all a favour and please keep that opinion to yourself.

(26/11/21) Hot MCU Spider-Man takes.

*Peter should have been an adult

*No Way Home feels like it was made as a reaction to Into The Spider-verse

*Making MJ a WOC was their best decision

*Villains are the main reason the films are good

*Venom doesn’t fit the MCU

(10/12/21) This might be a tad controversial but This Picture, TO ME, is emblematic of my main issue with NWH. Marvel is just using these characters because they can. So that they can rush a Sinister 6 film. They will just adapt the characters we love to fit their narrative.


(13/12/21) 31st December. That’s the soonest I can see it. “Frustrated” doesn’t cover it.


(15/12/21) Sometimes a small-scale story is OK. Not everything has to be bigger than the last. Yes, this is about No Way Home/ Dr. Who

(15/12/21) Saw Spider-Man: No Way Home spoilers and the WORST thing is that I kind of don’t care. It just confirms my hesitations about the film. Hoping I still have fun with it but full thoughts in a couple weeks I guess.

(22/12/21) Marvel having their whole NWH marketing campaign be about avoiding spoilers, only to start marketing the follow-up barely a week later is the most hypocritical, corporate BS I’ve ever seen.

(27/12/21) Keep thinking about how I will have seen No Way Home by the time the year ends. Absolutely wild. It’s been part of Conversation for like 2 years now and soon it’ll be over. And then it gets to consume my thoughts for another few months presumably. Pray for me.

(31/12/21) Spider-Man: No Way Home is good. Peter Parker faces off against multiversal foes in a story that is fun but held back by relying on the worldbuilding of other creators. It’s exciting to see these characters again in what is the best MCU Spidey movie but it also makes some bad choices.

Spoiler-Free Review: https://shakesqueer.home.blog/2022/01/08/spider-man-no-way-home-spoiler-free/

Spoiler-Filled Review: https://shakesqueer.home.blog/2022/01/09/spider-man-no-way-home-spoilers/

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Spider-Man: No Way Home (Spoiler Free)

Peter Parker is made to suffer. As a character, his relatability as the “everyman” of superheroes relies on his constant struggle. He’s trying to juggle school and/or work with personal relationships but a lot of the time, he’s barely succeeding. It’s the fact that he’s willing to keep trying, despite all odds, that makes him Spider-Man. This element of the character has been noticeably lacking from his MCU interpretation, with billionaire Tony Stark providing all he could ever need. With Starks demise at the end of Avengers: Endgame, Peter was finally experiencing the grief he needed, although it relied on caring about Stark. By contrast, Spider-Man: No Way Home beats Peter beyond the point of submission.

The film opens precisely where Far From Home ended, with Peter’s identity as Spidey revealed to the world. In an attempt to regain his private life, as well as those of his best friend Ned and girlfriend MJ, he turns to former Sorcerer Supreme D.r Stephen Strange for help. After messing up a spell that would have made the world forget that Peter is Spider-Man, he is confronted by various villains from across the multiverse, whom he hopes to “cure” before sending home. Where this premise could easily have failed was in relying purely on the nostalgia of these characters, instead of writing them as fleshed-out characters. Luckily, this isn’t the case, save for a couple of villains who don’t get treated with the respect that they should. They are accompanied by various classic musical motifs, as well as some design changes which CGI can afford.

The largest issue is that the ramifications are never fully explored. Dr. Strange is never explicitly clear about how the spell works and it’s never explained how events in this universe will affect other universes going forward. By the end, it’s not fully clear how Peter will function as a character moving forward, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This film strips him down to the bare essentials of the character and, for the first time in the MCU, Peter feels like he got the origin story that he should have had all along. Ironically, he now feels at home in this franchise.


Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Spider-Man: Far Frome Home

Tony Stark is dead, long live Tony Stark. This is the general vibe of Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is odd given this is a Spider-Man story and not an Iron Man one. If its predecessor was fixated on the snarky billionaire, then this film is flat-out obsessed with him. It asks who the next Tony Stark is and if that person is Peter Parker, before answering it whilst chastising the audience for thinking it could be. This Stark-centric plot is only one of Far From Home‘s several egregious crimes.

The plot follows Peter, eight months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, as he joins his class on a European Summer field trip. He hopes to confess his love to MJ, before Nick Fury appears and demands that he help in fighting The Elementals. These creatures are each comprised of a single element (earth, air, fire, and water) and are being held back by new superhero Mysterio. Also known as Quentin Beck, Mysterio has come from an alternate Earth which was destroyed by these Elementals. It’s an interesting, engaging plot but it’s also entirely a lie. It transpires that Quentin is a disgruntled former Stark Industries employee from the same Earth as Peter, who is using drones to project images of Elementals with weapons for the very real damage.

Setting aside how similar his plan is to that of Syndrome from The Incredibles, Quentin is an interesting yet frustrating character. His motive makes sense and his charm makes him close to sympathetic but the film makes him more evil than is necessary. He is compelling as a response to the callousness of Tony Starks actions, but Marvel isn’t willing to commit to the notion of Stark’s callousness. Quentin has every right to hate Tony Stark, but instead of fully exploring that validity he is labeled as evil and is suddenly willing to commit child murder.

It’s a nice touch to have Quentin’s cronies be former Stark Industry employees and allows for a couple of much-appreciated cameos. The biggest of these is Peter Billingsly as William, who was first seen being yelled at by Obidiah Stane in Iron Man. The most impressive aspect of Mysterio is his illusions, which are rendered beautifully by the Special Effects team. The CGI in the MCU has improved steadily over the years and is at its peak here. It’s a treat for the eyes with imaginative imagery that contains a large menagerie of moving parts. It provides the creepiest scene in the MCU as well as bombarding Peter with that guilt he’s been sorely lacking.

The most infuriating aspect is how Mysterio was used in marketing. There is something to be said for not spoiling the film’s plot twist in the trailer, however, the plot twist isn’t that he’s from the same Earth, it’s that he’s evil. The multiverse aspect was a large part of the marketing and, as exciting as that concept is, it ultimately leads to disappointment when it turns out to be a fabrication. The following installment in the story Spider-Man: Far From Home (not yet released) is set to feature the multiverse for real but it’s a struggle to be properly excited because all of the “YAY MULTIVERSE” energy was already expended here.

This isn’t the final twist in the tale as the end-credits scene reveals that Nick Fury and Maria Hill have been Skrulls for the entire runtime of the film. Specifically, they were leaders of the Skrulls Talos and his wife Soren which led to speculation about how often these characters crossed roles. More interesting is the hint this gave towards the upcoming series based on the Secret Invasion storyline. In it, important characters from across the years are revealed to have been Skrulls the entire time. However, given that they are the villains of that piece it seems like the MCU series is destined to go in a different direction.

That’s the one thing Far From Home does particularly well, is tease the future. Peter will not be the next Tony, but that won’t stop him from slipping into using his tech with ease. Peter and MJ are now officially a couple which means she is about to be kidnapped… A LOT. Aunt May and Happy Hogan had a Summer fling which is destined to never be mentioned ever again, as it should be. Mysterio is supposedly dead, but the unmasking of Peter as Spider-Man that he prepared will ripple across Phase 4 of the MCU. JK Simmons returns as J. Jonah Jameson, which is a different iteration than the one from the Raimi films but is filled with that same joyful aggression.

Far From Home is the oddest thing. In some ways, it understands the character. He is constantly fighting a losing battle, putting all those around him at risk and trying to do his best for the neighbourhood. In other ways, it doesn’t understand him at all. He (and the plot) are obsessed with Stark, he is constantly letting his real identity slip and he is constantly either infantilised or made to make major life decisions. The film sits in this odd middle ground where it’s a good film, kept from greatness by its own mistakes. It’s far from great but it’s also far from awful.


Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Great power used to come with great responsibility. Now it seems to come with a safety net and a large amount of whining. Gone are the life lessons of the humble Uncle Ben and in their place is the arrogant bravado of Tony Stark. This makes sense for the Iron Man-centric MCU, and for this iteration of Spider-Man, but that does not mean it’s a good decision. What makes Spidey such a great character is his relatability, and unwillingness to give in when life is at its worst. He’s a superhero but he’s also juggling a career and a personal life. He barely scrapes by on rent, he has arguments with his girlfriend and he also loses those closest to him. Whether it’s Uncle Ben, Aunt May or Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man is plagued by loss but he doesn’t let the grief define him. Not everybody can be saved but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying.

Spider-Man: Homecoming picks up with 15 year old Peter Parker shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War as he awaits his next mission from Tony Stark. When disgruntled salvager Adrian Toomes begins selling alien-powered tech to criminals, Peter goes behind Tony’s back to deal with it himself. Whilst this iteration of the titular character is not perfect, he is a very decent mixture of Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Previously there was Tobey Maguire, a great Parker, and Andrew Garfield, an amazing Spidey, but they were each better at one aspect of the character than the other. Tom Holland manages to find a happy medium. His Parker is a lovable goofball and a genius but he lacks the understanding of basic concepts like how Hotel rooms work. His Spider-Man is quick witted and good in a fight but is driven by a determination to impress Stark instead of to help people. Holland is at his best when he is bouncing off of Jacob Batalon’s Ned Beatty. The screen lights up whenever the pair interact with a friendship that is clearly more than just acting. A particularly nice touch is the secret handshake that they have developed off-screen that they don’t even have to watch to know they’re doing it correctly.

A hero is only as good as the villain and Toomes’ Vulture is one of the best in the MCU. Micheal Keaton provides a chilling yet lovable performance as the character who, after appearing in the script for the unfinished Spider-Man 4, is enjoying a resurgence with another portrayal in PS4’s Spider-Man. Toomes is a working class man whose very secure job as a salvager was ripped away by the intervention of the Stark funded Department of Damage Control, which has led to a life of crime. In a lot of ways he is similar to Scott Lang/Ant-Man, but where the two differ is in their morals. Lang takes from the rich and gives to the poor while Toomes steals from the rich to make himself richer by selling to criminals. His motivations are understandable but it’s his actions that make him a villain.

The confrontations between him and Spidey are tense. The build up of their respectful relationship is handled masterfully and is elevated by Micheal Giacchino’s score. He always brings a vibrancy to his work, allowing the heroic moments to feel bombastic and the quieter moments to be somber. Having previously scored The Incredibles, and Mission Impossible III, Giacchino is no stranger to composing for heroes, and is himself a hero of the audio variety. His score is evocative of the 1980’s films it pays homage to and the orchestrated version of the classic Spider-Man theme brings chills.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a beautiful coming of age comedy when it’s allowed to be, but the necessity to tie into the larger MCU is inherently restrictive. Tony Stark is ever present, whether it’s in person, over the phone, through Happy Hogan, as a topic of conversation or as the motivation of the villain. He is literally holding Peter back by giving him a high tech suit with training protocols embedded into the system and then taking the suit away when Peter hacks through those protocols, but he is also holding the film back from being its own thing. Stark tells Peter that if he’s nothing without the suit then he shouldn’t have it, which is an act of hypocrisy so massive, it wouldn’t fit in The Grand Canyon. In actuality, it is Stark who is nothing without his suit – it just so happens that he is a billionaire so he can do whatever he wants regardless. He keeps Peter out of the loop on issues that he raises and, worst of all, he has the hots for Aunt May. The disrespect to Uncle Ben is astounding.

Part of the MCU connection is the buildup to events that are still to play out as I write this. Toomes survives, as does one of his henchmen with a scorpion tattoo, which is a clear nod to Marvel character The Scorpion and a set-up for The Sinister Six. This villainous team will make an appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home although it seems like they have gone in a completely different route so hopefully this set-up will still lead somewhere. There’s also a reference to Thor’s magic belt Megingjörð, which has never made a physical appearance, and a gag about Happy carrying around an engagement ring for Tony and Pepper since 2008, which is a cute little meta moment. The most interesting aspect is where this film takes place in the larger MCU timeline because it isn’t entirely clear. Title cards state that the events of Homecoming take place 2 months after Civil War in 2016 and 8 years after the Battle of New York in 2012. The writers have since stated that audiences should ignore the “8 years later” title card but it’s a fun little peek behind the curtain of this supposedly well oiled machine that is the MCU.

Despite its several glaring flaws, Spider-Man: Homecoming is highly entertaining. The characters and story are compelling with a cracking soundtrack to boot but, much like Ant-Man, it is the requirement that it fit a larger narrative that lets it down. This is not something that is going to improve in future movies but that’s a discussion for another time.


Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer


*Dedicated to my brother, whose continued enthusiasm in all he does continues to inspire me to be the best older sibling I can be*

I’ve been a cinema attendee for as long as I can remember and I’ve been watching movies for longer than that. There’s just something special to me about watching something in a cinema, regardless of the time of day. I’ve done morning shows, matinees, evenings, midnight premieres, repeat viewings and every single one is different. There’s a certain comradery when you watch something with a group of people, or indeed just one other person, and I don’t think I’ve ever taken that for granted. The cinema has always been there and I have always loved it. Then came 2020, a global pandemic and that escape from reality suddenly wasn’t an option anymore. A lot will be said about COVID-19 in the years to come and in the history books looking back but for those of us who have had to live through it, we will each have a different thing we missed. This is such a first world problem and a personal one but being without the cinema has really sucked. Watching something brand new for the first time on a 40inch screen just hits differently and the first of many experiences like that was the PIXAR film Onward.

The plot follows Elf brothers Ian and Barley as they embark on a quest to find a magical stone that will resurrect their dead father for 24 hours. Unfortunately for them, this quest comes with a time limit because they have already used up one stone to bring back his legs. As a Lord of the Rings fan, I was instantly onboard with a magical quest and the quest itself does not disappoint. Each of the mythical monsters that Ian and Barley encounter, even the ones that they don’t, are based on their respective counterparts in the RPG Dungeons & Dragons. The game manual’s publisher Wizards of the West Coast are given their due thanks during Onward‘s end credits. Not only is this dedication to the source material a neat nod for fans of the game but it could even be what sparks a new players interest in the game, as it did for me. It also leads to a brilliant running gag about The Gelatinous Cube, which might be my favourite in the entire film.

Onward‘s biggest strength is the bond between it’s two main characters and their individual relationships with their father. The eldest brother Barley was was a child when his father passed away so has very few memories of him. In contrast is Ian who had just been born so has no memories of him at all. This really is the crux of the film because if you have any experiences like this in your own life then it’s going to make the characters and their internal struggles more relatable. For me, it mirrors the relationship that me and my sister have with my Grandpa who passed away when I was 13 and she was only 6. We were both so very lucky to have been able to spend any time with him but I have so many more memories of him than she does. This is to say nothing of my brother who was born a couple of years later and never got to meet him, which hurts more than I can put into words. The other through-line is the brother’s relationship to each other, which again will hit differently depending on your life experience. As the eldest of 3 children I got to play a huge part in raising my siblings, though the age gap between us was larger than Ian and Barley’s. It’s difficult for me not to see my siblings in Ian and myself in Barley so by the time Onward is reaching it’s conclusion, I’m having all of the emotions. However the way in which the film reaches it’s emotional climax feels a little cheap to me, with too much of a focus on the Buddy Comedy plot structure. Our main characters have to fall out in order to realise how much they need/miss each other, which is fine when done well but Onward places their disagreement near the end of the film and resolves it 5 minutes later. It feels like that plot thread is only there because the creative team felt like it had to be and, for me, it’s the only real issue.

According to some people, there is a much bigger issue with the film and that is the setting/design. Onward takes place in a realm where magic exists but was forgotten by technology, meaning that their world functions like ours and some say that if this is the case then the film should have just featured regular people instead of fantasy creatures. Now I see where this criticism is coming from however I think that aesthetic is a perfectly viable reason for this choice. This fantasy world has brighter colours than our own and allows for some small design aspects like turrets on top of skyscrapers, not to mention all of the fantasy-based puns. The only genuine critique that I can take in this area is the designs of the characters themselves which, despite looking good, look like they were made by PIXAR. Early PIXAR films didn’t have a particular “style” and instead were more focussed on how they could push the boundaries of animation with possibly the best example being Monsters Inc. Their animation is still top notch but it feels like they’ve settled and aren’t really pushing boundaries anymore, although I hope that some day they will again.

At the end of the day, I still really like Onward and, had it not been for the global pandemic, i feel like it could have been a big hitter for the studio. Instead it is relegated to the second lowest grossing film, beaten only by The Good Dinosaur, although it seems to have done well on streaming sites and VOD services. I hope that this one isn’t forgotten and I’m glad to see that this has marked the next phase of original ideas from PIXAR Studios after their slate of sequels. If this is how that phase is starting, I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Until Next Time…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer