Spiderman: Homecoming

spider-man-homecoming-international-header-240591

The most recent iteration of Spiderman will be the 7th to feature the web-slinging superhero since 2002.  This will be the third reboot of the franchise (not counting the soft backdoor reboot that introduced Spidey to the MCU in Captain America Civil War) as well as the third actor to portray Spiderman in 7 films.  Historically these films have done well in the theaters and are generally appreciated by critics and fans alike with the exception of “Spiderman 3” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, however, 2 bad outings of 7 (ish) films is still pretty good.  Spiderman:  Homecoming doesn’t intend to regurgitate the origin story of Spiderman, however, with a new lead, a new villain, and an entirely new universe to play in, this film will provide a fresh take on the popular superhero.

A few words about Spiderman:  Homecoming:

  1. Great product of Marvel Cinematic Universe – While still considered to be a property of SONY, Marvel Studios had a major role in the production of this film.  The deal they made with SONY allowed the events of Civil War to bleed into this universe and it worked well for the film.  Essentially this is the introduction of a brand new superhero (to the MCU) who, while movie going audiences may be familiar with, has a bit of his own universe to rebuild and in some cases rebrand.  Much like Ant-Man, this film does a good job of telling a smaller story within the Marvel Cinematic Universe while also alluding to larger events on the horizon.  There were moments in this film that felt more realistic because it was seen as a larger part of the MCU. For instance, by adding Robert Downey as a part of the cast, Spiderman immediately feels like a legitimate superhero connected to Iron Man who would have an interest in the villains that Spiderman was dealing with.  This bodes well for the future of the MCU because it means that beyond the Avengers the MCU can hope to expand to rest on the shoulders of all of its potential superheroes.
  2. Perfect lack of exposition – This film makes subtle changes to what we know about Spiderman without spending a ton of time on the details.  Walking into to this film we’re assumed to know, that Peter Parker has been bitten by a radioactive spider, that his uncle is dead, and that he is already for the most part aware of his superhero potential.  This works well because unlike some reboots we’re not expected to spend more time knowing or seeing details that aren’t necessarily important to this specific story.  For the most part, those details didn’t add or take from this story anyway.  Since there is no need to dwell on any of that pesky (albeit necessary) exposition, we’re able to spend more time developing little points like that Peter Parker is extremely intelligent.  We’re able to see him develop his web formula, develop relationships with his high school classmates, and most importantly spend some screen time developing a solid villain.
  3. Great Villian – Some of this will be noted from the first two points but because of the MCU and the lack of exposition, we’re able to spend some time developing a credible properly motivated villain.  The Vulture is born out of the logistical disaster that would be the cleanup after the battle of New York from the first Avengers film.  It was nice to see a villain that was not out of his mind, or some sort of mutant but rather a man while trying to provide for his family becomes a bit misguided using the arsenal of alien equipment which has literally fallen from the sky.  I can’t understate how well the fact that the Vulture, is a salvage contractor plays into the movie.  Later on, in the movie, Michael Keaton’s acting skills are put on display after a bit of a reveal and he and Tom Holland share a very tense moment that could be seen among the highest bits of tension I have seen in a Marvel film.  Great casting, great writing, great execution on this villain.
  4. Perfect tone – It was very enjoyable to see this film commit to allowing Spiderman to be a hapless teenager.  The casting of Tom Holland very much doubles down on this as he does a great job of acting like a young person both in his portrayal of the ambitious superhero and his total lack of full control (and reverence) of his powers.  This, of course, lends itself to many of the normal tropes we’ve seen in countless teen movies, however, this works well for the movie.  Taking a lighthearted tone allows for great juxtaposition when Spiderman is thrust into a serious situation.  It allows us to believe that perhaps he is not quite ready for this responsibility rather than just being capable because he has the powers.  This along with multiple sources of comic relief including from Peter Parker himself allows us as viewers to truly relate to Spiderman maybe even a little more than many of the other Marvel Superheroes.  I think that again, Ant-Man is a good comparison as it leans heavily on the idea of the regular guy thrust into greatness.  This is a good idea for audiences to connect with and it worked well for Spiderman.
  5. Casually diverse – The casting for this film was extremely diverse and done so effortlessly.  Typically before these films are released much ado is made about the casting, mostly with people wondering whether or not the right choices were made.  For this film, I don’t believe I saw one bad choice.  The principal of the high school was Asian, the PE teacher was black, the science teacher was Latina.  There is an interracial family that plays a key role in the plot.  There are multiple black men that play featured roles in the film both villain and antihero, showing complexity in their abilities.  In general, this film is very kind to people of color and allows for race to be a reflection of our current world without straining to do so.  I noticed this because I pay attention to these types of casting choices, however, I think the larger point is that the vast majority of audiences will not care.
  6. Excellent Action Sequences – The action in this film is top notch.  From the actual web swinging and slinging, to the battle sequences between Spiderman and the Vulture, to the cameos from Iron Man, this film packs a punch.  Again, the hapless teenager aspect allows for Peter Parker to underestimate some of his scenarios he swings into, however, this works well in allowing for the action to ebb and flow based on his experience and learning curve.  For audiences that only want to see action, they won’t be disappointed watching this movie.
Overall I think this movie can be filed under “Marvel does it again”.  Upholding the tried and true standard of sticking to emotional truths of characters and story while actually making an engaging and exciting movie.  It was funny, lighthearted, action-packed great movie for summer, but also will be easily consumed multiple times for those audience members requiring a second viewing.  Being that this is the 7th attempt at Spiderman it’s hard to see giving this movie the top score however it’s pretty close.  Bring your kids!  4 of 5 stars.

Time Well Spent Episode 06 – Breve Part 2

Please enjoy Episode 6 of the Time Well Spent with Ronald podcast.

Also, check out the work of the creator of our outro music Michael Korte in #GAGA4RENT

Time Well Spent Episode 05 – Breve

Please enjoy episode 4 of Time Well Spent with Ronald.

Also, check out the work of the creator of our outro music Michael Korte in #GAGA4RENT

Star Trek Beyond

 

star trek

With the onset of the movie franchise, Marvel has led the way in terms of creating symphonies, after allowing individual instruments to shine on their own.  Not to be outdone Paramount has followed suit, not only cranking out several Mission Impossible movies in recent years but also with the Star Trek reboot series.  Star Trek Beyond is the third installment in this franchise however this movie spends far less time establishing characters or backstory assuming that you have watched the others.  This leaves plenty of time and room for a good story to be told.  If by any indication of the quality of this film, viewers can expect to see a few more installments of this particular franchise.

A few thoughts about Star Trek Beyond:

  1. Deliberate Beginning – For most Trekkies, the beginning of this movie will feel very familiar.  With a voice over from the captain the slow start of this film leads the viewer to feel as if there is something to anticipate that is just out of reach.  While it may strike some as boring, seasoned fans will recognize this familiar setup as a means to an end.
  2. Good homage to the original show/films – This being the first film that spent a significant amount of time on a planet rather than in space, many of the beats paid homage to the familiar off world episode.  Much of the magic of the new films come in the form of a new spin on familiar ideas, this felt very much as if the stakes had been raised.  Being outside of the ship felt like a natural progression for this series.
  3. Great ensemble acting – As Marvel has their avengers, Star Trek has its crew.  The characters felt very much as a team with their dialogue complimenting one another’s.  For Trekkies they will recognize and appreciate the rapport that this cast has gained working with one another.  The character development is also working well, as if you have seen the first two movies the place of the characters felt natural,
  4. Good pacing – Like the first film in the franchise this movie unfolded at a steady pace.  From a slow beginning, the action accelerated at a steady pace from beginning to end.
  5.  Corny at times (but in a good way) – The dialogue at times was a little corny.  However no audible groans or gasps.  This again felt like the corniness a Trekkie could come to expect from a Star Trek property.  Even the corniest lines did not necessarily feel forced.
  6. Very well directed. – Justin Lin did a solid job with this film.  Some may know him from his work with the Fast and the Furious franchise however while elements of that can be seen here, this has proven that with better source material he definitely rises to the occasions.  Beautiful wide shots of the ship, the space station, the planet, as well as great choices in terms of action shots and space combat.  This was a beautiful film in terms of just watching.
  7. Well written. – Simon Pegg wrote the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” which consisted of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End.  While those movies garnered plenty of fans this was Pegg’s first foray into a non comedy property.  If pacing and plot are any witness, many more writing opportunities will come Pegg’s way.
  8. Villain was a little lackluster – That is not to say that there wasn’t an element of danger or cool factor with the villain’s actual weapons of choice.  However the villain’s motivation was not entirely executed well.  In the end this did not matter, as he still had the desired effect of being the obstacle the crew had to join together to overcome.

Overall a solid summer movie, and a good Star Trek movie.  This is one your entire family will enjoy, go ahead and bring the kids.  4 of 5 stars.