KEATON IS COOL, FILM IS SOLID COMEDY
Film Review by Fiore
SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING is a funny movie. Like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, it is played strictly for laughs and it works incredibly well as a comedy. I was laughing at nearly every scene. This caused much consternation and drew the ire from a few of the fan boys who were seated around me at the premiere. Apparently, they take everything about superheroes way too serious. They viewed my laughter as insulting and, as such, I am afraid they missed out on the goodness that is SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING.
Despite the fanboys, SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING is chock full of fun. The action sequences are exciting, the cast is noteworthy, with Michael Keaton serving as outstanding. The pace of the film is most excellent; you are able to watch the movie without realizing how much time is passing.
SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING offers a different approach to Spider-Man, continuing the characterization presented briefly in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. In the previous films, with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, we caught up with Peter Parker after he was in college and already a young man. This time around, Parker is a sophomore in high school and only fifteen years old. This creates a plethora of comedic situations as Parker struggles with immaturity and super powers. His attempts to be the ultimate superhero often results in botched enterprises. He is like William Katt trying to be THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO. But Parker’s age isn’t the only tweak in the film.
Aunt May has changed drastically also. She is no longer called Aunt, just May, by everyone. This keeps with the current millennial trend of having no respect for adults, or the older generation. May is transformed from everyone’s favorite old lady, to the neighborhood’s Italian MILF. She is played by Marisa Tomei, and is apparently the wanton desire of most of the community’s shop owners.
Spider Man/Peter Parker is played by Tom Holland. He does a credible job of playing a confused and misguided teen who desperately wants to be a full Avenger team member. Robert Downey, Jr. appears as Tony Stark/Iron Man. He has a keen interest in Parker, and sees his potential, once he matures. Chris Evans reprises his role as Captain America, but is used in this film solely as comic relief through a series of videos. Director and sometimes actor Jon Favreau appears as Happy Hogan, Spidey’s babysitter.
Spidey is anxious. After his brief stint with the Avengers, he wants to show he is a valuable member of the team and take on great challenges. At the same time, he is going through typical high school angst; wishing to tell his friends who he is, putting down the school bully and cozying up to the school hottie. Stark realizes Spidey lacks the maturity to be an Avenger and indeed has much to learn. He patiently tells Parker to wait and learn. He appoints Happy to keep an eye on Parker, which Happy is not pleased about, and things turn problematic once the lad stumbles upon a real and present danger.
On the advice of Stark, Parker attempts to be “a friendly neighborhood Spider Man” but continues to botch most of his attempts to help prevent crime. Quite by accident, he stumbles upon a group of villains selling high tech, alien weapons to criminals. They are led by Andrian Toomes, The Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. Keaton is great in the role; in fact, I think he could be nominated for best supporting actor. From Batman to Birdman to Vulture. Nice; I’m sensing a trend.
1.1 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. Back in the bedroom
2. Chasing the van
3. Talk in the car & Shocker
There are a few disconcerting elements to SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING. One, of course, is the desire of Director and co-Writer Jon Watts to appease the Hollywood group think. The story is infused with tweaked characters to fit the multicultural agenda. For example: Parker’s best friend, Ned Leeds, played by Jacob Batalon is a fat Hispanic, covering two victims groups in one role; Parker’s love interest, Liz, played by Laura Harrier, is black, because it is now an unwritten rule that white superheroes must date women who are a minority, I don’t know why, but it’s prevalent on TV as well as movies; antagonist Flash Thompson is no longer the school jock, but rather a pushy Indian, in the vein of Jinder Mahal, current WWE Champion, and played by Tony Revolori; and MJ, played by Disney kid show stalwart Zendaya, is an inner city mixture of different races, who plays the role as a full-fledged member of the H3L. None of these character tweaks are essential to the storyline. They are done merely for an offering at the multicultural altar.
Though SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING still comes under the Sony Pictures banner, the influence of the Disney infected Marvel Pictures is apparent.
And, of course, the political agenda rears its ugly head. A school teacher intones: “protesting is patriotic”, thereby encouraging the lame-brains who cause wanton destruction, especially when they can’t find their safe spaces on college campuses. MJ refuses to tour the Washington Monument because it was built by slaves, despite the fact this absurdity of logic would banish her from most of the world’s wonders. These annoying peccadilloes in SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING help critics in the fabled two-letter cities write favorable reviews for the movie, but they are simply irritating thorns for most viewers who want to see the original characters, and not a politically correct reconstruction.
Of more concern, and a bit greater dismay is the new version of Spidey’s suit. When Stark opts to mentor Parker, he presents him with a new, form fitting suit. The suit is a carbon facsimile of Iron Man’s costume. It gives Spidey a digital read out in the eye pieces, telling him when to jump, run and spin. It can change his web into myriad forms, depending on the situation, and it talks to him, much like Jarvis talks to Stark, except in Spidey’s costume, the computer is female and named Karen. In essence, Spider Man becomes Iron Spider.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a Spider Man comic, but I don’t remember Spidey being this high-tech. It’s the biggest deviation from the Spider Man legend, and frankly, will take a little time to adjust to.
We are treated to half of the original Sinister Six, with the promise of their return. The Sinister Six group was hinted at, and promised while Andrew Garfield was playing Spidey. That series was killed by Garfield and the concept of bringing the group to the Silver Screen died with it. Now, it appears a resurrection of the nefarious no-goods is in the offing; and helmed by Keaton, should be quite entertaining.
Let’s look at the report card for SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING:
1.2 ACTING = B
1.3 CINEMATOGRAPHY = B
1.4 SOUND/MUSIC = B
1.5 EDITING = A
1.6 LIGHTING = B
1.7 SCRIPT = C
1.8 SFX = B
1.9 ACTION = A
All told, SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING is a solid view. I’m in favor with the teen nerd version of Spidey and anxious for the arrival of the Sinister Six. Frankly, I’m bored with changing characters in a blatant effort to appeal to a wider box office demographic. If, as a writer, you change a character’s race, gender or ethnicity, do it for a reason; work the change into the script as a key element. Otherwise, you’re wasting everyone’s time and insulting our intelligence.
Can’t see anyone having a bad time at the movies with SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING. Prepare to laugh, and have a good time. Now, I must tell you I’m stealing an element from my son, Gabriel, and beginning a new component to my reviews called The Rewatch Index. It measures the strength of a film for “rewatchability”, or more simply, if it’s worth sitting through the film again.
The REWATCH INDEX for SPIDER MAN: HOMECOMING is Good.