Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Some thoughts about Spider-Man: Homecoming

Is Spider-Man ready to be among Earth's mightiest heroes?

Peter Parker has helped Tony Stark in his fight against Steve Rogers but now he will have to prove that he's worthy of being part of the Avengers. However, by doing so he will put his life in peril once that a new supervillain with access to alien technology appears.

First of all, sorry for being late with these thoughts, it has been a really busy month.

Second, let's talk about how this started. As most people should know, this is the second reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise. Handled by Sony Pictures, the first Spider-Man film series recreated the comic character in the big screen and went full cheesy with its premise but did it in a pretty charming and entertaining way (Well, at least for the first two movies), then the first reboot came on board with Amazing Spider-Man which reinvented the character in a more realistic manner and was successful in that regard (The second film though, not so much). Now, the character is back thanks to Marvel Studios with Spider-Man: Homecoming and properly suited in Marvel Cinematic Universe as we previously saw in Captain America: Civil War which featured the introduction of Tom Holland as Peter Parker. Directed by John Watts, how does it fare compared to the two previous versions and on its own?

... Well, is okay at the very least.

Yes, is hard to find a Marvel Studios work that could be categorized as "bad" and this movie follows a pretty similar entertaining formula of trying to integrate characters from the comics in a way that makes sense and at the same time, fits with the rest of the world around it. That being said, this story is not without its flaws but let's start with the plot.

The story takes place a few months after Peter's fight in the Civil War and is centered around his desire to become an Avenger and prove Tony Stark that he can be part of his team. This being basically an origin story, obviously is focused on Peter's time as a high-schooler where he has to deal with things like studies, adults and even girls.

Is pretty classic in that sense and wants to bring back the character to his roots which can be enjoyable during many scenes thanks to how the flick deals with the relationships between the members of the cast. I wouldn't necessarily say that "the kids act like kids" since at points I feel like their personalities are too in your face to be considered real but for the most part, most of the cast is portrayed naturally and helps you to be invested in them and their fate.

Speaking of the cast, Tom Holland's portrayal of Peter is... probably not the best depiction I've seen of the comic character. Is not that he's terrible, Holland does a decent job at combining the naive and funny nature of the superhero but at the same time, I don't feel like anything about it truly stands out. Is almost a pretty by the numbers version of Peter Parker where nothing really new is learned about him. Hell, I would dare to say that we know even LESS than in previous incarnations due that his motivations are not that clear nor usual (We don't even know if he saw Uncle Ben die for God's sake!). Compared to previous portrayals, I don't think Holland manages to achieve the innocent look of Tobey Maguire nor the funny/cool personality of Andrew Garfield and for that reason is hard to call Holland's version as anything more than passable.

That being said, he does have his own character arc and looks the part as a 15 year old which helps to cement the contrast between his innocense and the real world he suddenly has to face, particularly once that he has to fight the villain of the movie which is pretty great, for the most part at least.

Michael Keaton portrays the Vulture here and he's pretty much the best part of the movie, not because of how the villain is written mind you, but because Keaton is a pretty damn good actor who shines in every little scene where he appears. He has tons of personality and you can be genuinely afraid of him which makes his role as an antagonist much more believable.

The thing is that while Keaton himself is great, his role is not so good. Don't get me wrong, I think the premise of the character is actually pretty solid. The Vulture being reimagined as a scavenger who collects alien technology which was left after the multiple battles the Avengers had is quite inventive. Not to mention that the story presents a quite surprising twist half-way that makes you rethink the idea of the character and how a few mentions of his own life at the beginning make complete sense once you reach that part.

THE PROBLEM is that I never bought him as an actual complex villain. Keaton's personality is intimidating, yes, but his motivations are all over the place. He supposedly wants to this to support his family but once that you know more about him, is pretty obvious that he's just a psychopath who doesn't really care about his family, or at least not as much as he cares about making money. He apparently wants his family to live a normal life but doesn't present any regret at killing people nor putting them at risk by doing so. I wish there would have been a few scenes to show how the character had some sort of moral conflict but alas, that never happened.

The rest of the cast do their job. Marisa Tomey as Aunt May is... okay once again, is not that she does a bad job but just like Holland, she's not that memorable either, worst of all are the multiple jokes about how attractive she is for being Aunt May which come from several characters in the story and gets tiring after a while. Jacob Batalon becomes Peter's best friend as Ned and he's serviceable as the comedic sidekick. Liz portrayed by Laura Harris is merely a love interest and doesn't go beyond that but it makes sense considering what happens at the end. The true surprise here is Zendaya who portrays Melissa who is rebellious and antisocial which can be a bit too blunt at times but is still enjoyable while presenting a quite interesting twist towards the end that I didn't see coming (Then again, I still don't know how to feel about the character being depicted as this personality-wise). Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson is just a big NO, he simply doesn't look nor acts the part as the known bully/jock, he's basically a nerdy rival of Peter and as far as incarnations go, I think the winner is the one from The Amazing Spider-Man due that he had the look and showed some depth despite of his few scenes.

There are also quite a few cameos from Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America which are clearly appreciated and obviously shine during their appearances.

The story unfortunately is a bit too long for its own good with many scenes touching similar ideas and themes and don't present anything particularly unique about them (At least not any more than the ones we have seen in previous entries). Is typical "superhero saves people" stuff and to be honest, I think the first movie line did a better job at embracing the bombastic nature of such concept.

The lines though, are quite funny at times which is fitting considering this is a Spider-Man flick we're talking about while the easter eggs about the rest of the Marvel Universe are also nicely-integrated and makes you intrigued about the future of this particular franchise.

So yeah, this is probably not the best Spider-Man movie I've seen but not the worst either, definitely not the worst (Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 are still fighting for that spot). It certainly gets some aspects right, some aspects wrong and some aspects merely average. I don't consider Spider-Man: Homecoming neither as deliciously cheesy as the first Spider-Man film nor as interestingly realistic as Amazing Spider-Man but is still an enjoyable enough reboot that finds its place in the middle. Not great but inoffensive and you probably might find it entertaining.

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