About Double Feature

Double Feature is the title of a column that I write for the newsletter of Lehigh Pocono Mensa, the local group to which I belong. It gets published monthly in "Magniloquence." I used to belong to Central PA Mensa, so I offer the column to the editor of "Penn Central" and it shows up there pretty regularly.

As the title implies, each Double Feature column features brief reviews of two movies that I have seen. I try to find a connection between the two films - subject matter, stars, awards, etc. - but, since it's my column, I reserve the right to occasionally choose two films that have no connection to each other at all.

The reviews found in the Movies section of this Web site serve as the basis for Double Feature. I try to keep each column somewhere around 500 words (which fills about one page in the newsletter), so I usually have to edit the original reviews to fit into the space allotted.

If you'd like to read the individual reviews for the films mentioned in Double Feature, you can do so here.

The rating scales are a little different. The conversion chart is as follows:

  • **** = Loved it
  • *** = Liked it
  • ** = Ehhh, it was OK
  • * = Hated it

Current Column

January 2021 - Happy New Year! 2021 has to be better than 2020, doesn't it? Please? Maybe we can get back to seeing movies on the big screen. It wasn't that long ago that Tom Holland swung into theaters as Spider-Man. A third film is currently in production. Here are my reviews of his first two.

In Spider-Man: Homecoming, a teenage Peter Parker gets his Spider-Man legs under him but also finds time to crush on a high school senior. Michael Keaton swoops in to steal the movie – and whatever alien technology he can get his hands on in this PG-13 film from 2017.

Fresh off a fight with Captain America, Peter Parker (Holland) is sent back to New York City with a snazzy new Spider-Man costume, a gift from Tony Stark/Iron Man. One night, he sees some men trying to rob an ATM. Spider-Man takes them on, but the crooks have weapons more powerful than anything he's ever seen. Young Peter can't let it go, and his search leads him to Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Keaton), a disenchanted salvage worker who's using alien technology to get rich and to get back at the government and the people he feels betrayed him.

Overall review: Loved it! Holland captures the enthusiasm, idealism, and recklessness that comes with being a teenager. That's offset by the hardened reality and cynicism of Toomes/Vulture. Add a killer soundtrack featuring the likes of the Ramones and Flock of Seagulls, and what's not to like?

There's more where that came from in 2019's PG-13-rated sequel, Spider-Man: Far from Home. Holland returns as the young superhero who has a thing for Zendaya, and Jon Favreau flirts with Marisa Tomei. Samuel L. Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal also star.

The movie is set in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, which (spoiler alert) saw the demise of Tony Stark/Iron Man. All young Peter wants to do now is tour Europe with his high school classmates and tell MJ (Zendaya) how he feels. He's not even planning to take his Spidey suit, but Aunt May (Tomei) sneaks it into his suitcase. Also in his suitcase, a pair of glasses bequeathed to him by Stark.

No sooner do Peter and his classmates arrive in Venice, then a giant water creature wreaks havoc on the city. Venice is saved only thanks to the efforts of Peter and a powerful but unknown superhero (Gyllenhaal) who the media dubs "Mysterio." The two team up again in Prague to defeat a giant fire monster. That's enough to convince Peter that Mysterio, a.k.a. Quentin Beck, is the one who should have Stark's glasses. Whoever wears them has access to EDITH, the program that controls Stark Industries' full range of weaponry. Peter initially feels good about the decision but soon realizes that he's made a very big mistake.

Overall review: Loved it! Much like the first film, there's not much to complain about here. The subject matter is timely, and there's a plot twist that I didn't see coming (although, it may not be much of a twist for someone who's familiar with the Marvel universe). I'm looking forward to the next installment.

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"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." »» Roger Ebert