Sunday, July 9, 2017

Spider-Man Homecoming Review

A lot of hype with some of the heart.

Spider-Man was surprisingly one of the best parts of Civil War when it released last year. Not only did it deliver a character that a lot of people wanted to see introduced into the MCU, but for his big action scene debut, he brought a lot of jokes, energy, and stunt work. It was almost agreed upon that he could potentially excel when his solo movie debuted, but I was unconvinced. Tom Holland was good, but I didn't know if he could lead a whole movie on his own.

So now here we are almost a full year later, and while I wish I could use my MCU hero origin template here, I unfortunately can't because this isn't actually an origin story. It is however as predictable as one, so props to it!

I'm not saying that Spider-Man Homecoming is bad, because it isn't. I would say though that it's a safe movie. A safe bet that doesn't rock the boat too hard and is perfectly fine for some disposable entertainment.

It's hard not to talk about Spider-Man Homecoming without talking about both the Sam Raimi movies and the Amazing series. Both series were good, but the Raimi movies I would argue are the best because they take a lot of time to establish Peter Parker as a separate entity from his superhero persona. That trilogy embodied Peter becoming a hero and witnessing the tough decisions it entails.

The Amazing series was much more interested in action than in character development, and while the action is great, no one remembers those movies for their plots.

The MCU Spider-Man film was supposed to be the melding between both series in terms of tone, action, and characters. And while I would say it is, it's lacking any impact behind it. We have a movie that focuses on Peter realizing that his suit doesn't define him, but it never feels like there's any weight behind his words. Peter is a teenager, yes, so a conflict like this would work, but the movie kind of forgets that this is his character arc.

In fact, the movie kind of feels like a melting pot of genres that don't fit as well together as they should. It's a superhero movie and a high school romcom, but they never fit together nicely. It usually boils down to Peter doing some hero business, it interferes with his school life, he apologizes, his friends ignore it, and Peter will continue to ignore his responsibilities to be Spider-Man. Oh, and Tony Stark occasionally pops in to be a mentor figure then leaves.

Most of the side characters that appear don't have much weight behind them. Peter's friend does typical friend things, Aunt May has the joke that everyone thinks she's super hot, and Peter's love interest really had no character to her besides being a woman for Peter to fall in love with. Granted, she does become somewhat interesting as the movie progresses, but it isn't because she's interesting, but more because her situation is interesting. Case in point, I don't even know her name she has that little of a personality.

Michael Keaton plays the Vulture in a solid villain role, though it's nothing to write home about. He's a salvage arms dealer and sells guns made from Ultron parts or SHEILD Helicarrior pieces, and while his design is a bit muddy, his relationship to Peter is actually one of the high points of the movie for me. Then again, those high points aren't as high as Ego the Living Planet, Loki, Ultron, or even the Mandarin (no, not that Mandarin, the one that we should actually be talking about because I will never take Guy Pierce seriously).

Tony Stark shows up to be a mentor figure, and while it is nice seeing how far Tony has come since the first Iron Man, most of his scenes are already shown in the trailers. If you're going into this movie thinking this is going to be Iron Man 4, kill those expectations now.

In truth, the most underwhelming aspect of this movie is Tom Holland as Peter Parker. Look, say what you will about Maguire and Garfield, but both of them brought distinctive elements to their roles. Holland, to me at least, feels a bit generic. Garfield had a brash edge to him and Maguire had a very meek side to him, but Holland seems to be always happy and energetic. Now there's nothing wrong with that at all, but his character really doesn't change from beginning to end. He's still a young, excitable hero in the beginning, and he's still a young excitable hero at the end. Both of the previous Peter Parker's felt like a different person by the end of the their first movies. Holland? Not so much.

The best way I can describe his character is like a McDonald's burger. By definition, it is a burger and you know exactly how it's going to taste. It probably will taste good, but it's not as good as an In 'N Out Burger or a Five Guys burger. It does its job, is quick and easy, and there isn't much to discuss about it.

In truth, that's all of Spider-Man Homecoming. It does its job and satisfied audiences, but you may be craving something more. It doesn't have an edge to it, but it's not trying to be edgy. This is a superhero movie for the family, and when you look at it from that perspective, it's pretty good. I don't know if this'll surpass the early Raimi Spider-Man movies as being "the best", but it's admirable and perfectly fine doing what it does.


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