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Movie Breakdown: Spider-Man: Homecoming (Noah)

July 6, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Spider-Man has been wallowing in the halls of Sony for years now. It isn’t that there hasn’t been good Spider-Man films (Sam Raimi’s are still classic, if not dated, flicks) but Andrew Garfield’s emo spin on the character did nothing for just about anyone. So, Marvel, comic book movie maestros that they are, picking up the reigns to one of their absolutely classic characters, is just about the most exciting thing I’ve heard in years.

Post-Screening Ramble:

We’ve all been waiting for a great Spider-Man film since Spider-Man 3 had Tobey Maguire dancing off against Topher Grace’s Venom. Sure, we sludged through Marc Webb’s duo of angsty mediocrity (sorry Andrew Garfield, you couldn’t do anything about it), the allure of a teenage superhero with the powers of a spider, and the mouth of a PG-13 stand-up comic slowly fading away. And then came Marvel with their indie film director (Jon Watts) and their British Peter Parker (Tom Holland, now, officially a fucking star) and their casting of Michael Keaton as The Vulture/Adrian Toomes. And, then, back to every kid’s favorite superhero, came a sense of excitement. And, you know, the excitement is entirely warranted. Jon Watts, and the humane machine that is Marvel, have made the first movie that manages to capture not only the mythos of Spider-Man for a modern age, but the spirit of a comic. This starts with the casting of Tom Holland as Peter Parker, an eternally boyish, comic patter spewing nerd-dork, who wants nothing more than to use his superpowers – speed, strength, stickiness – to fight baddies. Holland is perfect as Parker, all unrestrained glee balanced out by the emotional rollercoaster of, well, being a teenager. Watts and Marvel know that Spider-Man can’t be a dour Dark Knight, no no, he’s an eternal optimist, the smiling, one-liner spitting good guy who fights until he can fight no more. And instead of another rehash of the Spider-Man origin story (the whole tale of boy-being-bit-by-radioactive-spider is broken down in a two minute bit of dialogue) Watts turns this into a John Hughes film with web blasters and alien technology turned bad. If my greatest concerns about Marvel movies has always been their inability to craft worthy villains for their enjoyable heroes, it may be time to place them on the shelf. Michael Keaton (riding the wave of the New Era of Keaton) plays Adrian Toomes as a very bad man who does very bad things but for, as the viewer will come to learn, potentially good reasons. He’s the Keaton we love – grim, sardonic, the chisel-faced everyman turned to the wrong side – but Watts and company make damn sure he’s a capable threat. His Vulture – powered by a set of cyberpunk-meets-Top-Gun style wings – is a unrepentant badass, and when paired against the nascent superhero that is Spider-Man, you will worry over our wee little Peter Parker like only a doting Aunt May could. What works best is that Watts and Marvel aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. This is classic Spider-Man, surrounded by a lovable cast (Marisa Tomei is as charming here as she’s been in anything since My Cousin Vinny) – full of non-stop comic observations, and the sort of go-get-him attitude even the most devoted Spidey fans will connect to. This is the Spider-Man we’ve all been waiting for (and the Happy Hogan, and a little bit of Tony Stark, and some loose connections to MCU). Now we just have to wait for the next one.

One Last Thought:

I have comic book movie fatigue. Real bad. It took me a second to shake it off and really enjoy this film, to see past the fact that it’s even if it isn’t an origin story, it’s still a formula, still a good guy versus a bad guy with the lives of his friends and family at stake. But, put the fucking cynicism in the garbage bin, this flick is so enjoyable, so entertaining, being an asshole about it, is a waste of your goddamn time.

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Movie Breakdown: Spider-Man: Homecoming

July 4, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Even with Spider-Man’s very entertaining appearance in Captain America: Civil War, I’m still somewhat leery of Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Here’s hoping that Marvel having more control than Sony will be enough to fully make the character watchable again.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Right before my screening of Spider-Man: Homecoming started, I wondered if I had already seen the movie.  I thought about the over-revealing trailers and whether or not the film had any surprises left.  I also thought about the superhero fatigue I’m currently experiencing and how even if the movie is good, will it do anything that hasn’t already been done?  Thankfully, the answer here turned out be YES.  Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best film to rumble into theaters so far this summer.

The movie picks up just after Captain America: Civil War.  Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is home in NYC and the only thing he has on his mind is a second mission with Tony Stark (and The Avengers).  School, his one friend and any other responsibilities, it’s all noise to Parker, and he spends his time watching the clock and impatiently waiting until he can hit the streets as Spider-Man and attempt to further prove himself.  Meanwhile, there’s a fella named Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) who is trying really hard to keep his illegal alien weapons business in NYC off of the Avengers’ radar.  As you’ve surely guessed, the two collide as Spider-Man & Vulture.

That’s the basic plot, and I won’t note anything else.  As for those trailers that showed too much, they do somewhat come into play while watching Homecoming.  Because of them it really isn’t hard to sort of piece together what’s going to happen next, but thankfully there are a handful of surprises.  Also, what’s in those trailers is just snippets of full scenes, and I think you’ll be thrilled with the way everything fully plays out.  Trust me!

Anyhow, here’s what I think really makes Homecoming work – it never lets you forget that Peter Parker/Spider-Man is a kid.  He’s a sophomore in high school who can’t talk to girls and is generally clumsy.  Parker is also just like any other kid in that he wants to be treated like an adult.  It’s this struggle for Parker that’s the core of Homecoming, and it really does well to keep the film grounded and to make it feel like a standalone effort.  Yes, there’s plenty of flashy action pieces and MCU connections to be had, but the inexperienced and overly eager Peter Parker/Spider-Man is what makes those scenes – and the film itself – memorable.  It’ll be interesting watching the character grow from here.

Somehow someway Spider-Man: Homecoming completely rights the ship for the web-slinger AND manages to avoid doing it in a way that comes off like an origin story or just a setup for the next MCU film.  What a triumph.  See it a couple of times.

One Last Thought:

There are a couple of characters that make their return to the MCU in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed seeing them around again.  I guess that just goes to show what Marvel has managed to build over the years – even the “small” people in their films tend to hold weight and aren’t just filler.

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