17 July 2017

V reviews: Spider-Man Homecoming

First off: beware, there are some minor spoilers in this review. I'll keep it to a minimum, but you've been warned ahead of time.

If you want to remain spoiler-free (as you should), go watch the movie. It's good! Best Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2.

V Reviews: Spider-Man Homecoming

Some thoughts prior to watching the movie

When Amazing Spider-Man 2 came around, the premiere in Belgium (and Europe in general) was more than a week ahead of the US. We warned everybody to stay the hell away from it. In response we now got the release a week AFTER the US. Eh, it could be worse. DC has punished us for the same thing (badmouthing BvS) by pushing Wonder Woman almost a month after the US release, way after the hype had passed. Still kind of annoyed by that (hence why I didn't bother writing a review for that).

If you want to know my sentiments about Spider-Man? I friggin' love the franchise. I grew up with Spider-Man TAS from the 90s (one of my favorite shows) and I've read many of the comics ever since. And any kind of interpretation of the character at least gets a chance from me. So if you want to know my favorite Spider-Men?

  1. Spider-Man TAS: Still the best to this day, even though it hasn't aged that well. The reason why this is nr 1 is because this series had multiple seasons to explore the most of the Spider-Man lore compared to any other series and did those things justice. Heck, even the animated Clone sage was better than its comic counterpart (though for obvious reasons).
  2. Spectacular Spider-Man: Great show. Cancelled WAY too soon to be replaced with one of the worst. If it had at least one more season and a proper ending, it certainly would've topped Spider-Man TAS.
  3. Reimy's Spider-Man Trilogy: 2 great movies, one bad one
  4. Spider-Man The New Animated Series: Better known as Spider-Man MTV. Kind of liked the re-invention in CG. Had good moments while it lasted. Silver Sable and Electro were the most memorable things here.
  5. Spider-Man Unlimited: A sequel of sorts to Spider-Man TAS that took place in a totally different planet. Kind of worked, but was way too weird for it to really catch on. Cancelled after one season.
  6. Spider-Man and his amazing friends: Boy this hasn't aged well. I kind of want to like this. This was supposed to be Human Torch, Iceman and Spider-Man. But since Iceman and Torch were too much alike, they changed her for the original female Firestar. Nice twist that gave this series something noteworthy compared to the next two entries.
  7. 80s Spider-Man: In the middle on this. Can't remember much of this, so I'll put it in the middle.
  8. 60s Spider-Man: Hard to criticize this, since the show is so old and I can't bear to ever watch this again. But it's been the source of tons of golden memes, so I can't really be mad at it.
  9. Ultimate Spider-Man: Boy, did I give this series a chance. And another one. And another one. After a certain certain episode where Spider-Man proved himself to be better than both Wolverine and Captain America I was so disgusted by it that I stopped watching it all together. This series is bad, should get cancelled and go burn itself in a junkyard. The one good thing this series has done is Deadpool. Deadpool is the best character of Ultimate Spider-Man. That's how bad this series is.
  10. Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man 1+2: The first was "bleh". It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't good either. I hated Garfield's impression of Peter Parker, but his Spider-Man character was decent and the chemistry with Gwen Stacy worked! But then came ASM2 and with it came the first movie i saw in theater and walked away from totally pissed. This movie sucked so bad.

What this movie gets right: Not re-hashing the origin story AGAIN!

You know what everybody complained about in Batman Vs Superman? Everybody hated on the YET-AGAIN origin story for Batman. We've seen it several times at this point. Most people know by now how Batman "began". So seeing it being done again just was another drip of oil being poured onto the lit fire

In Spider-Man Homecoming the writers stayed away from it. No spider-bite, no uncle Ben, no weirdly annoying subplot of Peter's parents that goes nowhere (looking at you, ASM2). Peter was introduced in Civil War and now his story starts from that point onward. No looking back at "how it all began". And that's good, because the movie already takes up more than 2 hours without that.

A few more things get omitted from this film, like the over-reliance on the spider-Sense and "swinging through the city to show off how good (or dated) our CG is". Yeah, the Reimy films didn't age well on that part.

What this movie gets right: Villains

Marvel villains suck in general. But there's two groups of villains in the Marvel universe that are as good as Batman's rogue gallery: The rogue gallery of the X-Men and especially Spider-Man. And while a lot of people were skeptical of seeing the Vulture (of all things) being adapted to the movie screen, I must say the adaption was AMAZING! Michael Keaton smashes EVERY OTHER incarnation of the Vulture out of the park and re-introduces him as a working man. A common man who went the villain route due to being forced there by "the big guys". And there's a plot twist in the story (I'm not going to spoil) that even cements him harder into the spider-lore and genuinely turned him into one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe villains to date (which is not THAT hard, all things considered).

And next to the Vulture, we get a few more Spider-Man Villains in here, working as henchmen for the Vulture. And honestly, this is how that works best. I know people have complained about it, but let's be real. Shocker has always been a kind of a "lackey" for a greater villain, so seeing him work under Vulture makes sense. And Tinkerer was never that well known, so him being part of Vulture's crew made sense.

And then there's the setup for another villain that will (most likely) appear in the sequel. Most people caught the tattoo on the bad guy both times he appears and branded him as said villain. But I guess most of them never heard it when the Vulture's crew was talking about said villain's actual name (not going to spoil it) earlier in the movie. I guess I'm a little bit too much of a Spider-Nerd, so I caught it immediately and got my "oooooooh" moment there.

What this movie gets right: Re-introducing classic characters in a modern setting

Guess what. Queens of the 60s isn't the same Queens as it is today. Today's Queens is a melting pot of cultures and minorities. Asians, African-Americans, Northern Africans, Latino's, Italians and many other people make up the people of current-day New York. So it wouldn't make sense if every Spider-Character is Caucasian. And I kind of like it that both Peter and the Vulture are some of the few white people in a totally culturally mixed environment.

Is it pandering? Maybe. But New York is culturally very diverse. If this was the US outback, where >90% of the population is white, then an approach closer to the comics would've worked better. But again, this is New York. This multicultural approach works the best in this specific environment.

Also, Flash no longer being an archetype cliche bully works wonders. He's still an asshole, but he's no longer a 70s or 80s high school movie archetype of a bully. He's now being an obnoxious rich kid that goes to every club activity and after-school activity that Peter has as well, so he can't ignore this asshole.

Zendaya as the new MJ (not that much of a spoiler, it's everywhere on the internet) kinda works. It's still kind of iffy, mostly because she and Holland at this moment still have 0 chemistry. We'll see what a sequel brings.

What this movie gets right: A dorky Peter and a funny Spider-man

Tobey Maguire did a perfect job portraying Peter Parker as a dork, but felt kind of awkward when he donned the Spider-Man mantle. Andrew Garfield was way too cool to portray Peter. That never really worked. And his Spider-man was often more of a jerk than genuinely a funny guy. Tom Holland is both a dork as Peter, as well as an inexperienced, yet funny Spider-Man. And I love it. Depending on how Sony (mis)uses Tom Holland, this may end up being the best incarnation of the Spider-Man character to this date.

Time for some nit-picking!

Note: the following may sound a bit negative, but at best I'm just nitpicking at a good movie. Please take that into account.

What this movie doesn't get that right: MCU Connections

Before I start my complaint, first some kudo's. Marvel's writing team did their best to work in Spider-Man into the MCU and retconning "the kid" from Iron Man 2 as Spider-Man. But there's a few moments where I really frown my brows. How many years have passed since the Avengers movie? EIGHT? Really? That was never established before.

And while the cameo's from Iron Man, Happy Hogan and Pepper are limited to the bare minimum, some things still feel forced in. It's like Spider-Man's tech suit itself. This movie often feels like it is in "baby mode", with training wheels attached to it. And while this franchise needs it (considering the last three movies), it feels like pandering.

Though as a side-note: the tech suit with its many easter eggs was fun to watch as a total Spider-Nerd. I giggled at all the little details I recognized. But I doubt many people recognized the many easter eggs as well.

What this movie doesn't get right: Avoiding movie tropes, only to fall right back into it

Oh, this movie tries so hard at avoiding any movie trope. It's like they did research on Honest Trailers and CinemaSins and made a checklist of things to avoid or to better explain. And while they did their best, they can't avoid falling right into it. Perfect example? Minor "bad guy" Aaron Davis gets caught by Spider-Man and tells him who his real target is. And when Peter is running away, he yells "Wait, I haven't even told you where he is!", which is a great answer to the movie trope of heroes popping up out of nowhere where the villain is.

And that WOULD have been a really good sneer at countless movies that use this common trope... if they didn't fell into that same trope about an hour later into the movie (*facepalms*). Yeah, in the finale Peter suddenly pops up out of nowhere without the use of trackers. And that's sad, considering the movie takes so many attempts to specifically avoid this movie trope, having an explanation ready for every other random appearance.

What this movie doesn't get right: Visual effects

Thank god, this doesn't happen all the time. But there really are a few moments where the visuals just fail. Most notably is the first encounter between Vulture and Spider-Man. It's unwatchable, plain and simple. The shaky cam and the horrible angles ensure you can't make anything of the scene except: "Peter got picked up and dropped". All the rest from that scene? Unwatchable. Luckily the encounters after that have a better choreography.

Another weak point is the sometimes bad CG-ing of Spider-Man swinging around. Once again, doesn't happen in the entire movie. But the moments where the CG team drops the ball, it really shows. But then again, it's an issue that has occurred in EVERY Spider-Man movie, so I assume it's just very difficult to do.

Lastly, the homage to the debris lifting scene from the Ditko days was kind of undercut by the poor filming choices. It's not bad per sé... It just could've been done better.

So how does it compare to the other Spider-Man movies?

Hold on before you fire shots. I liked the movie. My "what this movie doesn't get right" parts are only to highlight a few of the weaker points in an otherwise GOOD movie. Think of it as constructive feedback for a sequel.

And it is constructive feedback, bacause this IS the Best Spider-Man movie ever since Spider-Man 2. I'd honestly give this an 8,5/10. And I need to rewatch that one in order to give a proper judgment. But at the moment, this may be the second best of all Spider-Man movies. And a noteworthy 4th place in my earlier top list of all Spider-Man related shows/movies. Let's hope Sony keeps it up in the future...

A sad future

Sadly enough, this isn't only a Marvel property. It's also a Sony property. And Sony has a horrible sleight of hand when handling their franchises. As long as people like Amy Pascel, Avi Arad and Tom Rothman are attached to the Spider-Man brand, it will continue to fail if not properly managed by Marvel. And all of them have already shown signs of future failure. The "Glass Ceiling" movie that was canned suddenly got back on track. So did the Venom movie and the Sinister Six movie. And let me tell you right now: Unless a miracle occurs all three of those movies are going to suck big time or disappoint fans in a big way. I honestly thought the Spider-franchise was saved when Sony and Marvel joined hands. But I couldn't have been more wrong. Sony just cannot learn from their mistakes... (*sigh*). I can only hope I'm wrong here.

Ending on a positive note

But let's end on a positive note here. Let's just ignore all corporate shenanigans and focus solely on this movie. Spider-Man Homecoming IS a good movie and IS worth your time.

Until next time, V out.

PS: I'll edit this a few times for pictures. It's kind of a long block of text right now.

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