Sunday, July 9, 2017

Stubs - Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr. Directed by Jon Watts. Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers. Based on Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Produced by Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal Runtime: 133 minutes. USA Color Superhero, Action

Sony has had an interesting history with the Spider-Man franchise. There were the three films directed by Sam Raimi, starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco. After breaking with Raimi over creative differences, the studio tried to relaunch the franchise as The Amazing Spider-Man directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. While successful at the box office, these efforts paled by comparison with the original series.

Following the North Korean hacking of SPE's emails and the executive reshuffle that followed, Sony allowed Spider-Man to appear in an Avengers' film, Captain America: Civil War (2016), with a new actor, Tom Holland, playing the web-slinger. Now, Holland gets to star in his own reboot, Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man.

As compared with The Amazing Spider-Man series, this new film is a success. Holland is at 21, a good choice to play the teenage Peter Parker, and runs rings around Garfield's depiction. However, this version seems less like a Spider-Man series and more like Iron-Man 3.5. Like his depiction in the Amazing Spider-Man films, Spider-Man is less organic than the first go around. The web not only doesn't come out of Parker, but originates from devices that were apparently designed by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Even the Spider-Man suit is an elastic version of Stark's Iron Man outfit. A reboot without an origin story, Homecoming does hint that Parker was bitten by a spider, but it seems that much of his powers originate from the suit and not from the spider bite.

Iron Man is never far away in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The connection to Iron Man is underlined by the nearly constant presence of "Happy" Hogan (Jon Favreau), Stark's bodyguard/chauffeur, as well as the repeated appearances of Stark/Iron Man. Part of the backstory involves the move of Avenger headquarters from New York to some location upstate and the cleanup in the aftermath of the epic battle at the end of Marvel's The Avengers (2012), placing this film well within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The villain, Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Michael Keaton) is taken from the pages of the long-running comic book series, but his origin story has been updated to fit into the MCU. Keaton, who started out as a comedian, has proven himself to be a very good dramatic actor. He came to fame playing the caped crusader in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) and has most recently been seen in such films as Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) and The Founder (2016). As good as he was a hero, he is equally good as a nemesis, which the film sets up for a possible return. While I have no idea what Sony/Marvel have in mind for the next Spider-Man film, we're told Spider-Man will return, they could do a lot worse than bringing Adrian Toomes back.

Michael Keaton plays Adrian Toomes/Vulture.

Now that we're up to three different versions of the story and three different actors, so far, playing the lead character, one starts to do a James Bond-like comparison. While Holland is good, Maguire gets the nod as the best so far to have worn the suit. Garfield, unfortunately, will end up with a comparison to George Lazenby, an actor who tops no one's list as the best 007.

This is definitely a different way to view Spider-Man. He is more Spider-Boy than Man, though he seems to be growing into the role. Homecoming is definitely aimed as much to a millennial audience as it is to the longtime fans of the comic book. This time around Parker's world is explicitly diverse. There is no Mary Jane or Harry in this version, rather there is a Michelle "MJ" Jones (Zendaya), a
non-love interest, and Ned (Jacob Batalon), who plays his best friend. These two will no doubt be back, as will his modernized Aunt May Parker (Marisa Tomei). His love interest, Liz (Laura Harrier), is a senior while he is a sophomore, but there never seems to be any real chemistry between them as Parker's secret life keeps trumping his love life.

Like any superhero film, there are the requisite big battles and action scenes and Homecoming has at least three that would qualify. The special effects are very good and the film looks very good in 3D/Imax if you're in the mood to pay more to see more.

One of the problems with the MCU is that you don't feel like you can miss any of the films without falling behind. I've used the analogy of school to describe how this makes me feel as a movie-goer. I feel like I'm required to see some of these films. However, Spider-Man: Homecoming was not that kind of film. I would have seen this one even if it wasn't so entrenched in the MCU.

That said, while I can definitely recommend this film, beware that it doesn't supplant Spider-Man 2 (2004) as the best in the series and I would go so far as to place it third behind Spider-Man (2002). Good, but not quite great, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a good summertime movie and should be seen if you want a good time at the theater.

1 comment:

  1. The happy hour beers are listed in red on the menu with about twelve or so to choose from as I recall with some decent choices. Looks like the San Francisco venues have a nice little pub menu but we did not try any of that on this evening.