Monday, July 17, 2017

20/20 - #1 Spider-Man: Homecoming

[Like the "10 for 10" series but a little longer.  It's my endeavor to clean the backlog slate (with some things watched well over a year ago now) this month with 20 reviews written in 20 minutes (each) over 20 days.  My backlog is vast and my memory is shit, we'll see how it goes.  This is an easy one, since I just watched it.]

[Okay, me again, I just blew five minutes writing and covering the same ground I covered with my Amazing Spider-Man review from a while back --you know, the whole "I like Spider-Man adjacent things, but Peter Parker ain't my thing" thing -- so I have 15 minutes to find some new ground and maybe talk about the film instead of myself?  Hey how about that?]

2017, Jon Watts

So Homecoming.  A new Spider-Man movie. Probably my least anticipated Marvel movie yet.  Not that expectations were low, but enthusiasm was not high.

I was surprised, big time.
I loved it.

We've finally hit a stage where superhero movies don't need to try and "appeal to the mainstream" by overexplaining the conceit of the character or by making things look more "real world" with leather costumes.  Spider-Man: Homecoming is the direct follow-up to Captain America: Civil War, and it takes its lead from there.  It assumes the viewership is on board with the whole shared Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it rolls with it.  It doesn't need to explain who Jon Favreau's Happy is.  I mean even if you haven't seen the Iron Man films, you still get it.  But this film references events of both Avengers films and Civil War without having to go into any real detail about them.  It drops Captain America in a delightful cameo and nobody needs an explanation.  It references things from across the other films, and Easter Eggs things from the comics, all with reckless abandon and it doesn't ever apologize for it or make a big deal about it.  It quite literally felt like reading a superhero comic, but as a big screen motion picture.

As much as Peter Parker has never been my guy in comics, I have to say Tom Holland is the best young man for the job.  He has the enthusiasm and charisma needed to lead a motion picture, he has the ability to project real intelligence and immaturity simultaneously.  He's just fun in the role.  His small part in Civil War was really just a tease for this decidedly confident leading role.

The relationship between Peter and Tony Stark in this film is another connective MCU thread, but it has meaning and purpose beyond just having Robert Downey Jr as an incentivizing box office draw.  There's a real relationship between these two, one that Peter seems to put more emphasis on, but we learn means a tremendous amount to Tony as well.  If you've never seen another Marvel movie, you won't catch on to the nuances, but the general thrust remains: Peter idolizes Tony, and Tony wants to make Peter into a better version of himself.  Ultimately, the point here is that Peter becomes his own man, stepping out of the shadow of his idol.  It's rather sweet, and only one small part of the film.

Running short on time, so let's just say Michael Keaton bring both the charm and menace like he always has.  His Vulture is imposing and at times genuinely scary.  I like the motivations for the character, a Breaking Bad-style arc which sees a decent man sucked under by his own bitterness and greed.  There cast is overall tremendous, both young and old.

The film has a great sense of humour, nodding heavily at the films of John Hughes from the 80's (even referencing Ferris Beuller's Day Off in one scene) and a genuine sense of fun.  It's a blast, an outright blast.  Easily the best Spider-Man movie to date and one of the best comic book movies.