Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review: "Spiderman: Homecoming" is sure to get your spider sense tingling.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review?
If you were to ask me who my top three superheroes of all time were, I'd say Batman, Wolverine and Spider-Man without breaking a sweat. Those three have been my top guys all my life. Sure, I have discovered other favorites over the years, but those three have always been the most appealing to me. Spider-Man in particular, has always been a character of intrigue. He's somebody that got his powers at fifteen years of age. As he grew up, his tales were always compelling. How can you balance work, a social life and being tracked by Kraven The Hunter?

The Sam Raimi "Spider-Man" movies get a lot of hate. Which is funny because it seemed like everybody lost their minds for them when they were released. Is it suddenly cool to hate them now? Yes, the first two Toby MaGuire movies were not bad. I would still say, to this day, that "Spider-Man 2" is still one of the finest superhero films of all time. Yes, "Spider-Man 3" was a mess, but its not one of the worst things to happen to cinema ever. Like some do try to argue. I am not sure why Sony felt the need to try to tell Raimi what to do with the franchise after making so much money for them, not once, but twice. Raimi never liked the character Venom. Never understood him or his popularity. So why force him to use Venom in his third film? Just because fans want it?

I don't think "Spider-Man 3" is nearly as bad as either two of the Andrew Garfield "Spider-Man" movies. Two films that played so closely to the anesthetic created by Raimi that I wonder why they even made them at all. But it was more than that. Characters were given ticks and mannerisms, instead of character development. The villains and their terrible plots barely made sense. And I also don't mind some logic flaws in my superhero movies, sometimes its required. But when they pile up like a weekend to-do list, its makes me upset. I am still to this day relieved we never got a third or fourth film, nor any of the spin-offs they had planned.

I am hoping Sony doesn't take it too personal that the best "Spider-Man" movie yet came along with the aide of Marvel. It feels so good to have the character under the Marvel banner. Not just to simply say "Hey, I wonder what Spider-Man would do interacting with MCU's Iron Man." That's not the reason I want him with Marvel. There are lots of haters out there who love to spew their ranting tirades all over Marvel's success. They say all the MCU movies are alike, they take each movie with a fine toothed comb and gently weave it through the fabric, determined to fined the smallest of nitpicks, then will obsess over found nitpicks. The MCU has been so successful because Disney is hiring people who are passionate about these characters, and it pays off every single year.

"Spider-Man: Homecoming" doesn't waste time with Peter Parker's (Tom Holland) origin story. Because honestly, do we need another Peter Parker origin story? You got two within a decade of each other already. "Spider-Man: Homecoming" features faint discussions of Peter being bitten by a spider and why life is hard on him and Aunt May (Marissa Tomei), and honestly, that's all we need. Spider-Man is pretty simple hero to understand. He's a high school kid that got bit by a spider, that spider gave him superpowers. His Aunt and Uncle took him in after his parents died, then when his Uncle was gunned down by thugs, Peter chose to use his new powers for good. Pretty easy material to understand. I loved just being able to jump right into this adventure.

But the film doesn't pick up where "Captain America: Civil War" left off. In fact, we go all the way back to 2012. When the only letter 'A' on the Avengers Tower was the Stark A. We return to see a salvage company cleaning up after The Battle of New York. This salvage company is run by Adrian Toomes (Micheal Keaton). As Toomes and his men are working one day, they are interrupted by the newly established U.S. Department of Damage Control, a Tony Stark created organization that will oversee all clean up of superhuman messes. Toomes and his men are suddenly out of the job, and he and his friends Herman Schultz (Bokeem Woodbine) and Phineas Mason (Michael Chernus) are out for revenge. 

Eight years later, we catch up with Peter Parker after his time in Berlin. He goes day-by-day at his high school. Crushing on girls, Liz (Laura Herrier) in particular, getting picked on by Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) and hanging with his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon). But he's got a hunger in him, everyday after school he throws on his spider suit and just helps out around the city. He's anxious for Stark to call him again so he can go on another big mission with The Avengers, but Stark doesn't know he's fully capable of that yet. This will eventually lead Parker to run into Toomes, who has been designing new-age weapons from Chitauri weaponry, Ultron scraps and even Crossbones gauntlets. Will Parker be in over his head?

I knew the moment I saw Tom Holland as Spider-Man that I was going to love him. He nearly stole "Captain America: Winter Soldier" away from everyone else. Being only around twenty years old, he's a much more believable high schooler than MaGuire or Garfield ever were. Plus, he's got the best personality of the three. There is an extended scene where Peter Parker made a home movie during his time in Berlin, and watching him be a teenager and geeking out by the very sight of Captain America? Its believable. I'd geek out if I was suddenly confronted by superheroes and I am almost thirty. But Holland isn't playing a handful of ticks, he brings real depth and development to Peter Parker. The only thing missing from Holland's Peter Parker is his spider sense. What's up with that, Marvel? But now, I want him on twenty film contract. Right now. I want to see him fight Mysterio and Morbius and Scorpion and Chameleon. I want him to meet Black Cat and Miles Morales and The Shroud. I want him to grow up and take pictures for J.J. Jameson. I want to see him marry MJ. I want him to found Parker Industries. I want to see all of this with Tom Holland at the helm, he is the character straight out of the comics.

Jacob Batalon and Michael Keaton will probably be the two other performances you'll love the most. I love how once Ned accidentally finds out Peter's secret, he's suddenly a geek. He wants to know everything. I love that Ned can still be Parker's best friend after learning such a massive revelation. In some ways, Batalon nearly steals the show. He's got most of the big laughs from the movie, and makes them sincere and hilarious in equal measure. Then there is Keaton, playing his third winged creature based person, and I honestly feel he can do no wrong. When he lowers his voice in that dark cackle like he did in "Birdman," I love it. There is a moment between Spidey and Keaton in the middle of the movie, just the two of them sitting in a car, and I think its one of the best hero and villain exchanges in all of superhero movies. My eyes were glued to the screen and my hair was standing up. We don't see tension like that flair up too often in these Marvel movies, then so swiftly flow back into some laughs. Its like watching a master juggling act at a circus.

The rest of the cast is solid. Laura Herrier is adorable as Liz, Marissa Tomei continues to be good as Aunt May. Robert Downey Jr and Jon Favreau are as reliable as always, and no this is not a "Spider-Man and Iron Man" movie. Don't let the marketing fool you. This is a Spider-Man movie, through and through. Iron Man just happens to have a semi-long cameo in it. But this is Peter Parker's story, which is something I did like. I love that the character is in the MCU now, but I don't need a thousand reminders telling me he is. Iron Man is used sparingly in this movie, and that was the right move to make.

I think people suffering from superhero action fatigue will appreciate how downgraded "Spider-Man: Homecoming" is. Yes, the character did run around with The Avengers from time to time in the comics. But he was mostly a street level hero. He mainly operated in New York City, keeping the city itself safe, not always running off to thwart a planetary crisis. This movie keeps everything close to the ground, but the emotion and characterization make up for its nonexistent gargantuan battles. That's not Spider-Man, and I don't think every superhero has to be this big, epic thing. Marvel treats its characters with respect, and I applaud them for it. Not to say the action in this film isn't exciting, because it surely is. It features some of the coolest action in any "Spider-Man" movie. Ever.

There are definitely some "Breakfast Club" beats in the film that I found endearing. In this film, Peter Parker's surroundings become a big part of the movie, almost a character unto itself. Like I said above, Peter Parker is a compelling superhero because he has so much going on in his life. How does he choose between going to the homecoming dance with the girl of his dreams or stopping Toomes from stealing some highly classified pieces of machinery for nefarious purposes? Its a tough decision, and director Jon Watts makes sure you feel every emotion throughout. There is some very funny material here, as well as some strong adventure and yes some tender moments. Its all handled flawlessly. With "Clown," "Cop Car" and now this, Watts is becoming a director who has made three very different films. That's really hard to do in this day and age, and I salute him for it.

So, in short, Spider-Man is real and he's finally home. Thank God. I look forward to seeing him in "Avengers: Infinity War." I look forward to seeing future solo adventures with the character. Especially after a mid-credit scene that drops some big hints on what Spider-Man may face next. For the first time in a really long time, I am completely energized by a character I have loved all my life. I couldn't have asked for more.

FINAL GRADE: A

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