Friday, July 7, 2017

Spiderman: Homecoming Movie Review - Tobey Maguire And Sam Raimi's Original Spiderman Flicks Remain The Best Spidey Movies For Us

AFTER Tobey Maguire (who did three movies) and Andrew Garfield (who did two), now comes Tom Holland playing the high school sophomore, Peter Parker, in the latest “Spiderman” reboot, which is also the first Spidey movie included in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Tom is actually not American but British, and he’s not really a high school student as he just turned 21 last June.

He was first introduced as Spidey in “Captain America: Civil War” last year. He now goes solo in “Spiderman: Homecoming”, a spiritless misadventure whose first hour can put you to sleep. No wonder our grandson lost interest after a while and started playing with his shoes whose soles light up when he makes them bounce on the floor.

The movie tries to be a coming-of-age saga of a boy trying to cope with the struggles of everyday teenage life like the erstwhile films of John Hughes (that it’s a homage to him is evident in that film clip of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” included in one sequence here.) And Peter has to balance this off with his superhero duties.


But the two elements of coming of age story and the exploits of a young superhero never really
coalesce into a satisfying whole. No less than six writers were credited in writing the screenplay and it would seem they never really got to pull their acts together, ending up with an incoherent film whose diverse elements its director, Jon Watts, failed to orchestrate satisfyingly.

Tom Holland is the youngest actor to play the role and he tries to interpret it with with a perky buoyancy, but still, we prefer Tobey M of all the Spiderman actors so far. The movie shows Peter directing his own docu film that serves as a diary chronicling the events of previous film “Civil War” through a collection of phone video clips, with a guest appearance or Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark aka Ironman. But the movie’s opening scene is
actually an introduction of Spidey’s new nemesis, arms dealer Adrian Toomes aka The Vulture (Michael Keaton, who previously played “Batman” and “Birdman”), who gets hold of alien technology from the wreckage of the Avengers Building and uses it for his own evil purposes.

What you can admire about the movie is its deliberate effort to come up with a multiracial cast. Peter’s obese best friend is Filipino (Jacob Batalon). His love interest (Laura Harrier) and a cynical classmate (Zendaya) are African-American. And there’s another classmate who is Indian and other parts played by Asians. His Aunt May is now played by the American Italian Marisa Tomei (we prefer Sally Field.)

Spidey also becomes more high tech, with his new suit provided by Stark having more gadgets, including an on-board computer called Karen (voice by Jennifer Connelly) that has an APP that offers to kill Peter’s enemies instantly. Yes, there are more gizmos here but so sorry, they failed to make the movie more exciting.

We honestly prefer the old Spidey of Director Sam Raimi 15 years ago, with less reliance on such advanced technology and using more inherent intuitiveness in pursuing his foes with his fluid trapeze-like swings that are more spectacular. The new Spidey movie doesn’t even have its own iconic moment that can rival Tobey pining for Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, culminating in a kiss in the rain with him turned upside down or a memorable line to remind us that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

The problem with this Web Slinger is that the generic material about him has been told before so they have to come up with something new. Despite the techno innovations, though, the movie feels stale, even the big twist about the true identity of the Vulture that feels more like it’s a hackneyed plot contrivance copied from a sudsy teleserye.

Maybe we’re saying this because we just saw two recent superhero flicks that really somewhat re-invented the genre and set the bar higher, “Logan” and “Wonder Woman”, and the new “Spiderman” doesn’t come anywhere near the energy or the craftsmanship of these two superb movies, not even the big action sequences set at the Washington Monument and on board the Staten Island Ferry, which are not that well staged.

It’s also an insult to Spidey that Iron Man has to pop up to help him out all the time, as if reminding Marvel fans that Spidey has really come home to Marvel and they’re all in this together, along with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Chris Evans as Captain America, who also appear in cameos. Evans even pops up at the post credits sequence making fun of viewers who wait till the very end for possible previews of future sequels. If you’d get the feeling that you’ve been played, we can’t blame you.

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