Thursday, 6 July 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Big Spider-Man fan over here, but you guys probably already knew that. I’ve been quiet on my thoughts for the latest Spider-Man reboot, trying to keep my expectations at a minimum and not release a mega Spidey post for a film that could have disappointed. I’ve been cautiously optimistic, I haven’t liked all the decisions made, it was starting to look like Iron Man 4, but Marvel studios have rarely let me down so it was in good hands. Or was it…

I’m kidding, I believe I can safely say that this is a good Spider-Man film, not the best ever (Spider-Man 2 will probably never be beaten) but a solid entry into the character’s history. Read on to find out why.

Back in the capable hands of Marvel Studios, Spider-Man: Homecoming catches up with Peter Parker post-Civil War, trying his best to impress ‘Mr Stark’ for a place on The Avengers, dealing with the dilemmas of High School life whist attempting to stop an underground arms dealership that’s being run by the deadly Vulture. Tom Holland is back as Spider-Man and now being supported by Michael Keaton as The Vulture, Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds, Laura Harrier as Liz and Zendaya as Michelle. Jon Watts is now in the directing chair, he proved himself as a capable director with the small indie film Cop Car and has transitioned well into blockbusters because he got a Spider-Man reboot right, not an easy thing to do!

What this film got right that the previous reboot did not is that it is completely different to what has come before. I was worried about a Spider-Man who was younger than me but it works, mainly because the cast is so young as well, so they look the part, but also because this feels like a high school drama mixed with a superhero film. It’s jarring but it works because it highlights the struggle Peter Parker has to go through constantly. It also helps that the soap opera ‘John Hughes’ High School drama is handled very well. We also get a different Spider-Man to what we’ve seen before, not only is he young but he’s also hasn’t got a handle on his superpowers, constantly making mistakes and learning the ropes throughout the entire film. He’s definitely a very ‘friendly neighbourhood’ Spider-Man because apart from one set piece in Washington, he pretty much sticks to Queens, so don’t expect Spidey swinging around skyscrapers just yet. It leaves you excited to see them develop his character in future films.

With every hero must come a villain and The Vulture I’m happy to report is great. Michael Keaton kills it as Adrian Toomes and has a great physical presence in the film, in and out of the costume. The design of Vulture looks awesome on film and with his wingspan being pretty huge he’s a scary and intimidating threat when he comes across the wall crawler. He’s not just another punch bag, he has depth, motivation and a little bit of sympathy as a working man adapting to the world around him to make ends meet. Easily one of Marvel’s better villains and on a smaller more grounded scale, something I hope they keep for new villains in the next instalment.

Tony Stark was another worry of mine, I didn’t like him being so integral to Spider-Man, making his suit or having too much of a leading role in his film. Thankfully though he doesn’t outstay his welcome, this is still very much Peter’s film and he’s still learning about ‘great responsibility’ without Stark. The gadget filled suit looks great but Stark’s involvement isn’t to my taste still, although there are some great sequences throughout the film with him testing the suits abilities that come close to redeeming that. Instead of world building, the film is more interested in placing Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so I have to throw away some of my ‘comic book accuracy nerd annoyance’ and accept that this version is going to be shaped by a world with super powered beings already inhabiting it and being very present in his home town. Though any time Spidey needs saving from Iron Man will always hit a sore spot with me!

Back to the tone of this film, it’s very funny! This is something we’ve come to expect from Marvel films now but it feels more at home with Spider-Man. He’s an awkward kid and it comes across and there are a lot of jokes at his expense. Not all of them land, there’s a lot of emphasis on Aunt May being hot which came across as little bit creepy rather than funny. There’s a good ratio of action to down time, and when the action scenes roll out they are all well done, but there are occasions when Spider-Man looks more like a cartoon character than something ‘real’ in the scene. The light-hearted nature of the film is helped along by a good score from Michael Giacchino, it’s not iconic but it’s different, more playful than other entries in the MCU and differentiates itself from other heroes, something I hope future MCU films continue.  

There are some decisions made in the film that still make me cringe a bit but revealing them could be considered spoilers so I’ll stay clear for now. Some of the smaller characters don’t get a lot of development and Zendaya’s Michelle is very under used to the point where I’m not sure why she’s such a big part of the marketing. Depending on your age and fondness of high school dramas, some of the scenes may not be as easily relatable, but for me it was nice to see a younger perspective in the MCU. Is Tom Holland my Spider-Man? No (or at least not yet), his character may have been easier to relate to because of my age but I wasn’t as emotionally invested as I have been before and this feeling was made apparent near the end of the film, as a ‘classic’ spidey moment plays out and I wasn’t quite sure if the film had earnt it yet.

The more I talk/write about this film though, the more I like it. It’s not my favourite Spider-Man film but it’s a solid entry and a refreshing take on the character that differentiates itself from the films before. We haven’t seen a fully developed Spider-Man in the MCU but he is a teenager and has a lot more developing to do, so it’s actually quite exciting to see where they go with the character next. Who knows, this could be our best Spider-Man yet, only time will tell. I’m rating Spider-Man: Homecoming a 4/5.

What did you think of the latest (and hopefully last reboot of the character for some time!) Spider-Man film? Hit the mark or too much Stark? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Is Spider-Man 3 Actually Good?

I’ve been back and forth Spider-Man 3 since it came out. As a child, I loved it and it was one of the first films I eagerly anticipated and saw on the day of its release. Since then, I’ve taken in its criticisms and come to disregard it as one of the first missteps in Spider-Man’s cinematic journey, but what if I was wrong?



It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it and upon revisiting it I’ve come to believe that maybe we’ve giving this one a bit of a hard time. Now that’s not to say that there isn’t anything bad, there’s some definite strange choices made throughout and unfortunately, they seem to have detracted from the good, and do you know what, there is a lot of good stuff in this film. I would argue that at least the first hour of this film is pretty amazing, the setup of the characters, the darker side of Peter Parker before the symbiote even bonds with him, when his pride and selfishness takes over and the incredible visuals that show and not tell the story. Any change from source material is made to inform the main character who in turn informs the story, like Gwen Stacy being smart, successful and having a caring Father is everything MJ wants, making her the perfect unknowing antagonist, and it surprisingly works really well.



Talking of MJ, I always used to think her character was really annoying in this film when I was younger. However, having now grown up a bit, I think that most of her actions are justified, she’s a woman who wants more from life than to be Spider-Man’s girlfriend, she needs something independent to that, something that Peter isn’t helping her with. And although this aspect is not concluded, it does add some depth to her character.



Now obviously, the emo styling and dance scenes are a weird choice but an argument could be made that they are Parker’s own dorky version of what he thinks is cool, either way it’s still odd. Ultimately, it’s Venom that doesn’t work, he’s shoehorned in and should either be given more time or just set aside for Sandman who, along with Harry Osborn, bring some emotion to the core of the story. And I’ve got to say, Pete and Harry fighting alongside each other at the end brings a great smile to my face as that storyline is resolved.



Overall though, I think it’s time for people to re-visit this one, it’s a smart, pulpy, energetic and a high stakes conclusion to a brilliant trilogy that I wish never concluded. There’s no denying it’s the weakest of the trilogy but each film has been about Peter Parker, building on his character and making it interesting to watch and develop even past his origin story and this one is no different. This is something hopefully that’s Marvel Studios will bring along to their own solo outings for the superhero. Man, I wish we were on Raimi’s Spider-Man 6.

I'm  sure not everybody will feel this way, so let me know what you think of Spider-Man 3 in the comments below.

Can we all agree though that we don’t want a Venom solo movie? 

Thanks for reading!