Saturday, July 29, 2017

Spider-Man Homecoming: A Movie Review, Sort Of

First, a synopsis from IMDB:
Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

You remember that commercial where one lady is nattering on about 'friending people' and pictures 'on her wall', and her friend says, "That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works!"? That's me during Spider-man: Homecoming.

I knew from the trailers that there was a possibility of a love/hate relationship with this movie. If your only experience with Spider-Man is his appearance in the last Captain America movie, or possibly the last two reboots of the franchise, you might really like this film. If you're an aficionado of Spidey from the comics, you may have a few problems.

Here Be Spoilers!!

Herein I reveal my inner geek by knowing much too much about the subject. First thing in favor of the movie: It has Robert Downey Jr. in the role he was born to play: Iron Man. Against? Spider-Man never had Iron Man as a mentor, nor did Tony Stark cobble together some super powered suit with a Siri type, interactive computer. In favor? Spidey uses a mechanical web shooter that can run out of fluid at the most inopportune times, as opposed to the Tobey MacGuire's Spidey, who somehow grew ducts in his wrists that inexplicably shot out webs. In the comics, Peter Parker invented both the web shooters and the fluid and created his own costume. Not an Iron Man in sight! (Maybe an ironing board?)

Spidey's high school nemesis Flash Thompson, a burly (Caucasian) jock becomes simply "Flash" in this version, not a jock at all, but a fellow, slightly cooler nerd than Peter, in the same academic decathlon, played by a gentleman of Guatemalan descent. Which is not a problem other than constantly asking myself, "Is that supposed to be the same guy?" Juvenile humor alert: in this version, rather than physically intimidating him, Flash gets off on repeatedly calling him "Penis Parker". Real highbrow stuff!

A major annoyance and departure from the comics, is they gave Spidey a sidekick, ,a big Hawaiian kid who discovers Peter's secret identity early in the movie. The first of many. (People who know his secret, not Hawaiians!) Ned is really annoying. I mean really. No sidekick in the comics. Plus, the ante penultimate scene in the movie has young, hot Aunt May walking in on Peter in his room in his Spider-Man suit. (Ladies! Please knock!!)

The villain, played very nicely by Michael Keaton, was taken from the early issues of the comic, The Vulture, but they changed his origin to dovetail with the first Avengers movie, and beefed up his costume. A lot!

Spidey spends a lot of time talking to his suit, trying out features of which he is totally unaware, which is slightly reminiscent of the Greatest American Hero, which frankly did it better, with more laughs. The suit itself is annoying, in that the two eyeholes in his mask, permanent and fixed in the comics, narrow down in the movie, which serves to make his masked face more expressive, at the expense of his already limited peripheral vision. Rant break...

BTW, What's up with Spidey being played by a Brit? Are there no American actors to play American icons any more? The latest Superman is a Brit. In the Man From U.N.C.L.E., the Leo G. Carroll role was played by Hugh Grant. On TV, House, the Mentalist, the lead on Scorpion are all Brits! Now I have a great love for the Mother Country and the Mother Tongue, but we could use a few fewer mother loving Brits on the silver screen, nicht wahr?

...End of rant. The basic plot is boy meets suit, boy loses suit, boy gets suit back. On a Hollywood, inside baseball note, Gwyneth Paltrow makes a small cameo near the end of the movie. Has about five or six lines as I recall. I note this because I think she got something like fourth billing in the film, though if you blink you might miss her.

In typical Marvel fashion, there's not one but two vignettes during the credits. The first comes early on and gives a little insight into Michael Keaton's character. During the movie, we see a couple of public service type films made by Captain America. (And one really nice homage to Ferris Bueller). The last scene, at the very, very end of allllllllllllll the credits, is yet another one of these faux public service announcements on the virtues of ...patience. Droll.

The special effects surpass both of the other reboots. There are a few nice plot twists. Not a bad popcorn movie, but it wasn't exactly Spider-Man, at least not any we've seen before.

As I said, if you're not that familiar with the comics, but have seen the earlier Marvel Universe flicks, this might be right up your alley. And if you like eye candy Aunt May over old frail little old lady Aunt May, this version could be an improvement for you. My inner geek kept getting distracted by all the changes, so I'll give it 3 out of five stars.

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