SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
A Review By Ben Hunter
3½ Out Of 5 Stars

GET TO THE POINT BEN!

It works for the intended target audience. I just wished the people behind this looked a little more beyond that.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A: All the things that you've been thinking about, Peter ... make me sad.
B: Can’t you understand? I'm in love with Mary Jane.
A: You know I understand. But I thought you'd learned the meaning of responsibility.
B: … You don't know how it feels.
A: Of all the times we talked of honesty, fairness, justice. A lot of those times I counted on you to have the courage, to take those dreams out into the world.
B: I can't live your dreams anymore. I want a life of my own.
A: You’ve been given a gift Peter, with great power, comes great responsibility.
[Reaches Out] … Take my hand son.
B: … [Backs Away] … No Uncle Ben … I’m just Peter Parker … … I’m Spider-Man … no more … … No more …

Call this dramatic, call it different, call it bad, call it whatever you please, But I call this *que my Star Wars Darth Sidious voice*, “COM-PLETE!”

Your friendly, neighborhood, Spider-Man ... is back!

This was an emotional scene, the all is lost moment, of Sam Raimi’s 2nd Spider-Man installment with Tobey Maguire. The first time my generation witnessed our beloved web slinger in the flesh. The traits and characteristics of heroism traditionally on display here. Fast forward someone’s undergraduate, post graduate and residency studies to become a doctor, 2 series of Spider Men, and Sony Pictures falling victim to online harassment to resort to loaning out their money maker to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to stay alive and here we are, a brand new Spider-Man!

He’s back! And in the world of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, & Captain America! Temporarily of course, or however long this plays out. The point is, us fans benefit because storylines have the opportunity now to be served true justice and not partial credibility to the best of their abilities as licensing issues cause this character to abstain from the world and that character who has a love interest with this other one who can be used but the other cannot … A big piece of this messy puzzle is now together and we can enjoy these comic book characters on the big screen the way they really should be, together in the same world they were originally intended to be a part of.

Tom Holland is the newest Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming

So on that same Marvel wavelength, this Spidey (Tom Holland) fits right in. “Fun”, “excitement”, and most important, “FAMILY FRIENDLY”. I think Sony/Disney had studio reps policing the writing room to make sure this was merchandise friendly enough, I mean family friendly enough. Warner Bros. took their 90’s Batman franchise the campy route for this very reason. Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992) was too dark for families, causing massive phone calls to the studio from angry parents with kids with nightmares. I finally got around to that film as an adult much later on in life while I was in film school. Case and point, this Spider-Man blends right in with the bright, colorful world of Iron Man and The Avengers, which I liked. Iron Man is his mentor teaching him what it means to be a hero, nothing is dramatic and border line thespian wannabe like the above quote, which is where I take issue, despite enjoying the “fun” aspect.

We’re so wrapped up in making sure we don’t get phone calls (or emails being 2017), and that everything is fun, because that worked so perfectly for Guardians of the Galaxy (shakes head) that the clear definition of heroism is almost washed ashore. Yes, it’s there, but not defined enough to remind me why Spider-Man is THE FACE OF MARVEL COMICS AND ARGUABLY THE BIGGEST SUPERHERO … EVER!!  I said “arguably”, in my humble opinion, Batman and Superman take the cake. But Spidey comes IMMEDIATELY afterwards. That’s how important he is, and this new “homecoming”, for which I truly don’t know why it was titled that other than he’s back somehow for the long haul … temporarily, with Disney and then back to Sony for good or … whatever (confusing), simply is too “kiddie” for this iconic character and not enough “serious” to give this weight as a force to be reckoned with.

I loved the premise, for this is Spider-Man. He’s a high school science geek, or college depending on whatever rendition you’re experiencing, accidentally blessed/cursed with superpowers one day. The foundation is there, I loved Iron Man as his mentor, carrying on the MCU storyline from before with Civil War (2016), cool, new innovative gadgets and ideas for this new version of Spider-Man that make you smile; but the Sony police really cracked the whip on the writing to make sure they could get a good line of action figures and t-shirts because of all these cool, new, innovative gadgets and updating for this new 2017 Spider-Man, and the story suffered as a result. The emotional and thematic elements of this character that define him as a hero are almost completely gone. No death of his uncle, no famous responsibility quote, which is all fine, the point is to get him to know the weight of what it means to be a hero and the responsibility that comes with it. The death of his uncle is the classic storyline that teaches him this, in this new, “we can’t go that route because that’s been done to death” storyline, this is almost non-existent. How Peter Parker (Holland) learns this lesson works on paper. But a thorough, intricately woven story that tugs on the heartstrings of EVERYONE who journeys outside those building walls with our beloved wall crawler? Yeah, kids are going to love that new Spider parachute action figure (I totally had one as a kid!), comic book and animated series that comes from this. And then forget all about this come time for the next superhero flick.

Michael Keaton is the "Birdman" again as the classic Spider-Man villain, "The Vulture". 

Not to completely knock this, I mean it works. Just not what I was hoping for as Spider-Man is more than just a vehicle for good toy sales. It’s good to start a new generation on the magic, but I wanted more for those living in nostalgia. The 11 year old eating cereal early on Saturday morning watching this stuff living inside me SCREAMED like a little school girl when he saw the trailer! He never really surfaced again when I watched this film. There were a couple web slinging/we’re about to swing and flip in an innovative cinematographic way that you’ve never seen before!! (what the last rendition brought out the 11 year old a lot more than this one did), kind of shots, that for a second, I thought the 11 year old within would completely take over to experience the rest of the film, but that lasted literally a couple of seconds and I was let down that it didn’t take off as it could have with all the potential that it teased me with. Consciously, being my first time, I was happy; subconsciously, I was thinking this new-ness will wear off in the future and won’t hold up. So it never really took me there, family friendly to a fault.

The trailer and marketing materials were offensively misleading. Iron Man is nowhere near a major aspect to this as expected. A PROMINENT, key trailer shot is nowhere to be seen in this film! A shot that has one believing something major could be a part of this. Or at the very least they fight together or some Avengers-esk aspect is within this new Spidey world. Even if it’s just a small sample like with Ant-Man. But with that film there was no marketing suggesting such, it just came out of the blue so you were happy with whatever that story gave you. Here, it’s as if they needed Iron Man to help sell this new story. As if Spider-Man can’t do it on his own. HE’S FREAKING SPIDER-MAN!! Remember? Arguably the best, EVER? You don’t need anyone else to help sell this! None of the other Spider-Men did, but right right, you’re trying to be different. Well then don’t tease me. Leave it out of the marketing and surprise us with a “cool blessing we didn’t expect”. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a distant mentor that had a good week, if that, of shooting, and then got on with the rest of his celebrity life. Don’t offend me by telling me he could very well be kicking some major bad guy butt right alongside my childhood idol. Don’t come home with me in that little black dress, GET NAKED, and then say you’re just giving me a show to want you more to then get dressed and leave. Don’t wear the black dress and come home with me. Let me be genuinely happy with however the night plays out.

The "wall crawling menace" returns alongside Washington Memorial!

In today’s heavy political climate, we had to have a slight reminder of such and couldn’t just completely escape. As with this latest Beauty and the Beast emulation, “let’s make sure to change some of the stigmas … because it’s 2017!” And as I said then, “Look Mom! Political correctness! Political correctness everywhere!” An interracial love interest just because; a side-kick best friend who just has to look the exact opposite of our white, slim hero for shucks sake; an unnecessary “different” family with a major story element because you’re racist if you disagree; a major Spider-Man character nickname dawned upon an unorthodox character that we'd never think to see the name used as and just HAVE to redo in this new light to send a message, because … “Diversity! Yay! Look how creative we are!” Politically correct for the sake to just be politically correct. And let's be sure to throw an additional jab in there to remind everyone how PC we need to be since part of the film actually takes place in Washington, D.C. It almost got a little cringe worthy. I’ve got nothing on changing major elements of precious material if it perfectly serves the story or if it beautifully works (Laurence Fishburne as a black Perry White for the Superman part of DC). But not simply, “because it’s 2017!” Why? For what reason other than evolution are you doing this? Because you want to make sure we all know how you see the world and that’s how we should see it too right? “Diversity! Yay!” No, leave it the way it is and stop making everything you touch in Hollywood a political statement! Thank You. 

Other than all that … it was pretty good. No really, it works for what they were going for, a light-hearted film that leans more for kids to start them on the journey of a lifetime with the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. One that we’ll see swinging with The Avengers and hopefully a little while longer within the Disney/Marvel cinematic universe before Sony yanks him back. “They” will sell all kinds of merchandise, spin-offs on the big and small screens and within the worlds of ink and paper. It will make money and do what everyone behind this intended it to do. I just wished my beloved hero (number 1.5 right behind Batman, I wanted to BE Spidey growing up!) was A LOT more substantial and truly emulated all the characteristics of heroism that hooked me in my beginning, in this quest to make money and appeal to younger audiences. I really wanted a lot more to hook in for those of us on the nostalgia trip instead of banking its bread and butter on those on the first trip. Huge opportunity missed as I think about the previous renditions a whole lot more than this one.

Sony/Disney, you clearly should’ve remembered, “with great power, comes great responsibility”.


Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Action/Adventure, 133 Minutes, PG-13
Story By: Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
Screenplay By: Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis, Jon Watts & Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers
Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marissa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, & Donald Glover


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