Friday, July 14, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming (a movie review post)

I don't think I've made a secret of my longtime love of Spider-Man. Spider-Man goes back before Star Wars for me, back to at least when I was four. As such, I waited a long time for a Spider-Man movie. When that movie finally came in 2002 -- the Sam Raimi/Toby Maguire feature -- it was pretty perfect. Toby Maguire really captured Peter Parker, and I couldn't have been happier.

I was less happy when Sony decided to reboot the series. It's not that Andrew Garfield didn't do a fine job -- he wasn't as good as Maguire, but he was fine -- but a reboot just wasn't needed. Sure, change the actors, but keep the continuity of the series going.

Needless to say, I was a little unsure of how I felt about another reboot of the series. On the one hand, Marvel Studios was taking a hand in it, and Marvel has proven themselves a master at handling their own characters. [Unlike Warner Brothers, who continually show they don't know crap about how to make a super hero movie. For their one real success so far (Wonder Woman), they had to steal the plot of Captain America: The First Avenger to make it work.] On the other hand, it was going to be another reboot.

But Marvel, evidently, felt the same way I do about the idea of doing another reboot and went around it by not doing another origin story. It was pretty brilliant, actually. They summed it all up with one line, "I was bit by a spider." It was great.

And Tom Holland was... Okay, I'm going to skip the "amazing" joke. Tom Holland was incredible. Better than Toby Maguire, which I didn't think was actually possible. Of course, I thought that might be the case after Civil War, but I wasn't certain. Homecoming dismissed any doubt within the first few minutes. Seriously spectacular. [Sorry, I had to slip something in.] It's not that he's a wisecracking super hero; he's a nervous teenager. I'm looking forward to more from him.

All of the cast was great, though I wish Donald Glover had had a bigger part. I hope he becomes a recurring character. However, summing up everyone with "great" is probably devaluing Michael Keaton, and I wouldn't want to do that. Keaton was a better Adrian Toomes than Toomes ever was in the comics. Yeah, I was never much of a Vulture fan. But Keaton was wonderful and believable. And more than a little frightening. And I'm not going to say more than that because of spoilers (but my son was in full suspense mode as we watched, so I know it was working; he's a tough audience, even tougher than me).

I also really liked Bokeem Woodbine as The Shocker.

Oh, and Damage Control. That they introduced them was pretty great. I have the original limited series from 1989. Not that it seems it's done anything for the prices of the issues. It's still fun.

My daughter came out of the movie saying it's her favorite Marvel movie ever. I think Homecoming probably lands in my top three super hero movies. I'm not sure what that order is, actually. The top five, at this point, are all pretty great movies, and it's very difficult to tell which is better than another. It might be somewhat flexible depending upon how I'm feeling at the time. Right now, I just want to go see Homecoming again. Seriously great movie. And you don't really need to have seen any of the other Marvel movies to "get it," so don't let that get in the way if you haven't seen the other movies or aren't up to date on them. Just take the Tony Stark bits in stride and enjoy the movie.

Oh, and the Steve Rogers cameos are brilliant. Especially the one at the end.


  1. I thought they handled it brilliantly. Thank God it wasn't another origins story either. It didn't need to be anyway.

  2. I've been hearing a consensus on the origin story thing. I know I'm sick to death of them.

  3. Heh, Keaton was playing a Bird Man again. Anyway, it looks like a great movie. I'm going to have to go see it sometime soon.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was appropriately anxious throughout. I mean, it's not just any superhero. It's Spider-Man! Of course everything is going to work out for him. But I couldn't help worrying.

    My daughter was not as impressed. She liked it but it was just okay. Wonder Woman and Guardians 2 were big winners for her.

    1. TAS: My daughter loved both Guardians 2 (she liked it even better than the first Guardians movie) and Wonder Woman, but this one topped both of those for her.

    2. I'd still say Doctor Strange is my favorite so far, though GotG2 was awfully strong. WW was far and away the best for DC in this current run.

    3. TAS: I liked the first Guardians better. And I think the Captain America movies might be my favorites? It's so hard to choose with the Marvel stuff.
      But, yes, with DC, none of the others even come close to Wonder Woman.

  5. I wasn't planning on seeing this one because of the 'origin story' feel of it, and because it seemed a little young for me. Maybe you've changed my mind.

    Spidey was always one of my favorite heroes; he hit the sweet spot between too serious and too humorous, and was 'realistic' in a way that wasn't too depressing; I remember his apartment with the three hot girls living above him causing him trouble getting in and out, and then how it burned down, too.

    The Spider-Man movies haven't been my favorites. I watched all the Tobey Maguire movies and both Andrew Garfields. They're only okay. I think the problem is they don't have the same feel for me about Spider-Man, and while it's okay to go in a different direction, it can cause problems. (That's why I didn't originally like The Man Of Steel that much.)

    On Warner Bros movies: I've liked them all. None of them were as great as "The Avengers," but none were as boring as "Thor," and Thor was another one of my favorites. I even liked Suicide Squad. But I understand I'm in the minority; I liked the Star Wars prequels, too.

    I think one thing that holds people back from liking movies is a feeling that everything has to be as great as everything else. It's what I think of as "The Superbowl Effect." The Buffalo Bills lost four consecutive Superbowls and that team is thought of as one of the biggest 'losers' ever -- because falling just short of the greatest ever makes you a loser, right?

    So the Marvel movies are, for the most part, above average, and really well done. The DC movies didn't have the same feel (they're much darker) and weren't as good as Marvel, so people immediately relegate them to the dustbin. It's like things have to be supergreat or superterrible. We can't say "Yeah, that was okay."

    Then there's the letdown factor: if you were expecting DC to copy Marvel more, and they didn't, you hated them for letting down your expectations. (I'm not talking about 'you' per se; I'm using the royal you, as it were.) I felt especially bitter after M. Night Shymalan's "The Village" and "The Happening." He'd been SO great earlier that it felt like we were played.

    It'd be interesting to see what might have happened if DC had had lower expectations and had come first; people might then fault the Marvel movies for being too silly and lighthearted.

  6. Briane: I didn't hate Suicide Squad, not the way I hated Green Lantern and Man of Steel, but I can't say that I liked it, either. They did that thing where they spend the first 40 minutes of the movie giving you snap shot introductions to the characters which I hate. It's a waste of time and doesn't provide any connection from the audience to the character (unless they carry one in with them from the source material, but that isn't about the movie and can make things worse). Plus the whole conflict was just stupid. Stuff just happened because it was cool to have it happen without any real basis for it happening. It was a sloppy and lazy movie that was mildly entertaining.
    But it should have been more than that.
    ALL of the DC movies should have been more than they ended up being because Warner Brothers for some reason has refused to build their franchise the way Marvel has done and are now, finally, just throwing it all together. But Justice League is still going to do, like, three mini introductions to bring in the new characters, which, again, lazy and sloppy.

    At any rate, for me, it's not about not meeting some sort of expectation. I don't like the DC universe enough to have those sorts of preconceived expectations (Marvel has been the one to suffer from those from me, but they've actually met them pretty much each time (because of good story telling). The problem is that DC doesn't do good story telling on a world scale. They never have, not in their comics, not in their movies; so they are always lacking for me.

    And you know I love the Star Wars prequels.