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[REVIEW] Spider-Man Homecoming

It only took me a fortnight, but I finally got the chance to go into the theater last night and watch the newest Spider-Man film, the first under the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After seeing the new young Peter Parker in action during Captain America: Civil War, I felt safe in Marvel now having their own official Spider-Man film, one that should’ve fixed all the problems the previous films from Spider-Man 3 onwards had caused.

In a way they’ve done this by producing a very fun and comical film, but they still fail to avoid a couple of key mistakes, not to mention creating one major mistake on their own.

Right off the bat, I will admit that with a new Peter Parker, it was quite weird for them to not even briefly show the spider bite and the discovery of his powers. I completely agree with the notion that we didn’t need an entire origin story again, but let’s be honest folks, if this is a younger viewer’s first Spider-Man film, wouldn’t it be a little confusing as to how this high school kid has superpowers? At most, just take a couple minutes to flashback to the beginnings, don’t bother with an Uncle Ben story or anything like that, just show the bite, show his first trial runs with the suit and boom, you’re done.

The actual movie starts off really cool, with a Blair Witch, Cloverfield style view of Peter’s first real mission in the fight against Captain America and others during the events of the Civil War film. It looks cool and gets you nostalgia and ready to go again for a brand new film. From there on, we get a bit of a high school story featuring bullying, the pursuit of romance and…science trivia? I was weirded out a bit by how much time the film actually spends on this Academic Decathlon to be honest.

Admittedly, the film also gets a little weird trying to go in the romance pursuit as they have Laura Harrier who plays Peter’s love interest of the film, Liz. She’s 27 in real life, but we’re to believe at most, Liz is 16 or 17 in the film and yet she’s walking with a bit of cleavage, short skirts and even gets a brief swimsuit scene, albeit it’s a one-piece. It certainly fits in the story of a young Peter Parker who’s growing up and adapting to his newfound powers and pathway through life, but at times I felt like it broke my immersion in the film. I never really felt an attachment to Liz, so when she’s in danger later in the film, I felt zero emotional attachment to anyone except the best friend, Ned, who is a riot throughout the film.

What really irked me throughout the film was the constant beating you over the head with a blunt object about the fact that Peter Parker is a kid. Over and over again, we’re given the “You’re just a kid!” shtick and while it’s done at a key moment and works, it’s also done in extremely minor and pointless moments and just comes off terribly and breaks your immersion in the film every single time, at least it did for me. Yes, we know Spider-Man is technically Spider-Young Man in this current iteration, we didn’t need to be told a hundred times throughout the film.

My last negative comment overall is the new suit. I’m not sure how I feel about Spider-Man now being Spider-Man with Iron Man technology. Sure, they keep the same look to the suit, but adding all these gadgets, camera recording, voice recognition, an AI that Peter names Karen, making this AI his equivalency to Tony Stark’s Jarvis, the new suit to me is too much, too fast. I’ve always remembered Spider-Man as being a superhuman in a suit, whereas in this film, one could argue it’s the suit that makes him superhuman. Yes, the primary ability he has comes from his own body through the radioactive spider bite, but all these other additions now kind of completely changes what Spider-Man is capable of doing. It really does feel like he’s become Tony Stark Jr. with how he’s got Iron Man-like gadgets and of course with the father-like mentoring that Tony’s giving him.

Now that I’m done nitpicking, onto the good stuff. I didn’t ever feel insulted watching this film, that was the biggest takeaway I can have from watching Homecoming, I didn’t at any point in the film think I was watching something made by someone who didn’t care about the license, about the characters. I may have felt they tried to evolve it a little too quickly, but care was definitely taken with this film in making it fit within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and not having it come off like a bastard child. What I mean by that, is that the film does what every other Marvel film aside from the extremely serious Captain America films, it’s funny, has a good time and doesn’t insult the fans by making terrible changes to the canon, or bashing the audience over the head with things as if they’re saying “HEY! LOOK AT THIS! REMEMBER THIS?! WASN’T IT AWESOME?! YOU LOVE THIS RIGHT?! SO YOU LIKE THE MOVIE, RIGHT?!”.

The shining stars of this film are of course Tom Holland as Peter Parker and most importantly, the villain is Michael Keaton as Vulture. Both are fantastic, along with more minor characters like Jacob Batalon (Ned), Zendaya (Michelle) and yes they count as such, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, who has easily one of the funniest post-credits moments we have seen in the entire stretch of the MCU. But the real standalone for sure was Michael Keaton, who apparently will never stop being good in superhero movies. This time however, I’m seeing him in a villain role and boy oh boy does he sell it well. He slow descent into madness going from a common blue-collar man to a high-rolling weapons dealer, he showcases how desperation and money can change anyone. There is a specific scene (without spoiling anything) between him and Spider-Man that really becomes an uncomfortable and downright terrifying 5-10 minute exchange where you truly do feel for the Peter Parker character. Any person in that situation would be rendered speechless.

Lastly, I enjoyed the overall progression of the story. While I was still bothered by not at least getting a quick refresher without going into a full origin story, the mixture of a high school kid trying to find his place as he starts becoming a young adult and on top of that trying to figure out where he stands as someone capable of fighting crime and making a difference in the world, the film takes its time going through it, rather than rushing through layers and layers of story in an hour flat like a lot of films make the mistake of doing. The progression is natural, albeit a few coincidences that lead to the action sequences beginning, but from start to finish, there really isn’t anything pasted in there that comes off being a last minute entry, time was taken with this script.

In closing I’m going to make one final point about the film. Is the movie good? Absolutely. But the film does not do anything to separate itself and become something over-the-top. The acting is really good and the story’s good, but there’s one big issue in the movie that I just can’t look past, especially when it comes to superhero movies. Zero and I mean zero of the fight sequences in the movie were memorable and honestly, they weren’t really as good as we’ve seen in past Marvel films. Is it a limitation of the characters involved? Perhaps, but when even the final battle is less a fight and more of an airborne struggle for position, while tension is high, the actual fight itself wasn’t that exciting. And that’s my major problem with the overall film, it’s a good movie but there isn’t anything remotely memorable about it. Nothing about the film is better than all the others, it’s not funnier, it’s not more interesting, the fights aren’t better, the story isn’t overly memorable, it’s just a good movie. It’s not a bad thing, but in comparison to many other Marvel films I’ve watched, I can’t rate it nearly as high as many of the others.

I absolutely think if you can catch the movie before it leaves theaters, do it. Just don’t go in expecting the best movie ever. It’s a great Spider-Man movie, that’s all I wanted and that’s what I got. But it’s nowhere near being the best Marvel movie.

The Spoiler Section: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

Welcome to the spoilers section. This is not meant to be a well-written post or review, this is just a bunch of jotted down nitpicks of mine from watching the film. For the actual review, click here.

So let’s sit down and gush/criticize what we saw, shall we?

  • So right off the bat, of course we’ve got to talk about Yondu’s death in the film. Man oh man was that an emotional moment. I’m sure for Walking Dead fans it was even bigger, but for me it sucked really hard too, after all Yondu had finally just redeemed himself. And of course he had to make it even harder when he tells Peter that while he isn’t his biological father, he always did look at Peter like he was his son. A great moment that became even more emotional when you realized that Yondu’s time in this cinematic universe had come to an end. Chris Pratt sold this scene extremely well too.
  • Speaking of Chris Pratt selling, holy fuck that moment Ego reveals to Peter than he put the tumor in his mother’s brain that caused her to die of brain cancer! I thought it was going to be a long-winded emotional scream and technically it still was, but it followed an immediate reaction of shooting the fuck out of Ego! That was such a great moment, they handled the gravity of that revelation so well!
  • I like how they did work the original Guardians of the Galaxy into the film with Stallone, Ving Rhames and others. Now I didn’t know that there was an original Guardians group, but when that was brought to my attention, I thought that was really cool.
  • Again, I don’t know much about the lore of this section of the Marvel universe, but I do like how the Sovereign were used very well as the side villains who will now give birth to Adam Warlock, a powerful character in the Marvel universe, at least that’s what I’m told.
  • I knew pretty much right away that Ego was going to be the villain, I’m sure that’s not a surprising thing to say, after all who really thought that the Sovereign and Ayesha were going to be the final boss? A race of golden people or a fucking god? That was pretty easy to figure out. But regardless the film did a good job of the early stages with Ego, making him truly look like a father figure to Peter. The catch scene was so cheesy, I loved it.
  • Holy hell, man…the grotesqueness of this film was very unexpected. I’m not sure what was more shocking, Ego slowly regenerating or the space pirate slowly dying after being released out of the airlock. Both were terrifying to look at.
  • Taserface. That is all.
  • Lastly, can we please keep Moody Teenager Groot for the third film. I have to see this at least for part of the film!

Thanks for checking out the spoilers section, I would’ve loved to have written more for you guys, but honestly I don’t know enough of the Guardians lore and the Marvel universe lore to really go super in-depth with this one, so all I could really do is stick to what I saw in the movie. I’m sure in the next little while we’ll get that flood of articles with secret messages and hidden easter eggs in the film that unknowing viewers like myself would never catch.

Hope you guys enjoyed the film as much as I did, don’t forget to post your comments on the film’s spoilers and stuff in the comments below!

REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

***This is a non-spoiler review. For spoiler talk, click here***

When I watched the first Guardians of the Galaxy, I went into the film completely blind. I had zero knowledge of the comics and the characters themselves, I had never heard of any of them beyond Rocket Raccoon, yet I still knew virtually nothing about him. If there was any movie I was nervous about watching when it came out, that was the one, it was a film I knew nothing about and was unsure how I’d react. But there was promise, after all the cast seemed fantastic. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin fucking Diesel speaking only three words?! And then the inner professional wrestling fan wanting to see Dave Bautista succeed in film, it just added to the intrigue of the movie. And once the trailer came out, I was sold, it looked like an extremely entertaining movie, a film that was aware that not many people would know anything about it, so it would make itself so easy to approach. Sure enough, it ended up being one of my favourite films, in fact it’s my #3 film of all the Marvel films behind The Avengers and Deadpool.

So here we are, the sequel to the shockingly amazing Guardians of the Galaxy. How does the second film fare? Reviews generally have been saying that it’s a great film, but just doesn’t live up to the first film.

Me? I think it’s better. And personally, it’s become my favourite Marvel movie.

Let’s just get it right out of the way, shall we? Baby Groot is freaking adorable! This entire movie in a way feels like it was designed to sell so much Baby Groot merchandise, as he steals every single scene he’s in. The intro itself might as well have said “Baby Groot: The Movie” rather than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, because he was front and center of the entire thing. However, even though Groot does shine in the film, I feel like he never completely takes attention away from the film, he’s there to enhance everything, rather than to divert your eyes away. He makes a joke funnier, he makes a moment sadder, he only adds onto the emotional value of everything around him.

The rest of the cast continues to be just so damn good. Dave Bautista however in my opinion, just absolutely comes into his own in this film. He was great in the first Guardians, but this time around, holy hell is he absolutely perfect. It’s very clear he’s learned a lot in the past couple years since his acting career has really begun, his timing is perfect, his selling of every joke is just so perfect and over-the-top, you cannot deny just how good the Drax character is in this film. Chris Pratt really brings out the emotions in this film as well, due to the great job Kurt Russell does with his character, the two feeding off each other so well as the film goes on. The other standout to me though is Michael Rooker as Yondu, who really breaks out as a badass, even more than he did in the first film. The rest of the cast is still very good, Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillian reprise their ‘sister rivalry’ very well throughout the film, Bradley Cooper keeps Rocket Raccoon as the best douchebag raccoon in film, hell we even get cameos from David Hasselhoff, Rob Zombie and Seth Green as Howard the freaking Duck!

The one weak choice in my personal opinion is Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord (or Starhawk), but not because he plays the role terribly or the character isn’t interesting or anything like that. This might sound weird to some people, others will agree with me, but when I watched the film, I felt like Stallone is beyond out of place in this film. In my eyes, he’s one of those few mega stars that I feel just doesn’t belong in a Marvel film, perhaps because he’s above these kinds of films, or he just doesn’t fit within the attitude and light-heartedness of the films. Other names for me are guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Keanu Reeves, like legendary action stars that had so many super-serious badass roles that they just don’t work in my head when it comes to Marvel’s kind of films. But again, I’m not saying Stallone is bad in the film, he just looked weird in it to me.

Without spoiling the story, what Guardians really succeeds at so well is taking multiple storylines and melding them together into one coherent and fluent film. So many movies try to fit in too much (see all the Spider-Man films) and it becomes an incoherent mess, but Guardians has so many fingers in so many pies, yet you wouldn’t know any different from them having their fingers in five pies or one. Whether it’s Star-Lord and Ego’s new relationship, the Guardians getting into trouble with the Sovereign, Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon having their problems with each other, Gamora and Nebula’s sister rivalry, Yondu trying to redeem himself with the Ravagers and of course THANOS!!!, albeit in this film, they don’t necessarily push the Thanos/Infinity War storyline heavily, it’s more referenced to a number of times. The film has so much going on, yet it feels like everything fits, nothing’s out of place and nothing takes away from another storyline.

Emotionally as well, the film hits so many different states. The film in my opinion, is the funniest Marvel film I have ever watched and yes, I am including Deadpool on this list. The jokes in Guardians Vol.2 are so on-point, they’re done with perfect timing, perfect reactions and the call-backs are not wasted on minor jokes, they come back at the best possible times. If you’re paying attention, it pays off, the jokes are just so damn good. But along with the fantastic light-heartedness of the film and the on-point comedy, there are some real dark and sad emotions going on in this film as well. The first film was pretty much all light-hearted throughout, that’s not the case this time. It’s still prominently fun-loving, but this time around the negative emotions are ramped up throughout the film and they truly mean something, they’re not half-assed, they’re not terribly written, they really get you and they get you hard. For why, you’ll have to check the spoiler post.

The film most importantly ends well. The final battle doesn’t go out with a whiff, there’s real resolution and real emotions at the very end. Some Marvel movies have ended less than stellar, this may just be the best ending I’ve seen from a Marvel film (or the worst, depending on how you felt at the end), aside of course from Logan, which I’m not sure any movie will be able to replicate that level of emotion at the very end.

So when it’s all said it done, I have to say, I truly believe this is my favourite Marvel movie yet. Deadpool was as funny, but didn’t have the emotional value as Guardians. The Avengers had the emotions and the amazing battles, but the comedy was so much better in Guardians. Logan had the best ending and some fantastic emotional value and surprisingly good comedy, but it was missing a great villain that Guardians certainly has in this film, for one specific reason that was addressed so perfectly afterwards.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who will leave this film as their #1, but I’m not surprised either that the majority won’t share my opinion. I think a lot of people will lean to the three movies I listed in the paragraph above as the shining stars of the Marvel cinematic universe, hell a lot of them will tell you that the first Guardians movie was better. But in my opinion, this movie beats them all, it has better jokes, better emotions, a better villain and a better ending. It’s my favourite Marvel movie to date, without question.