Thursday, July 13, 2017

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic: 
on SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017, 133 minutes, PG-13)

The Quick of It -
Damn you Sony and Marvel.  You made me fall against the grain with this one.  I avoided being overexposed to the hype, trusting in the ‘new product’ they seemed so sure of.  I enjoyed both the Maguire and Garfield Spider-mans… Spider-men…??  I didn’t want to feel cheated with this hasty decision for a new face.  They were respectable versions of a very well-liked comic book hero and each contributed to the lore in their own way. 

Marvel, in their infinite wisdom, had to say, “We need to re-skin Spider-man so we can include him in CIVIL WAR.”  I will admit, after the circus in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, dancing between too many subplots, they seemed almost justified.  Still though, it was not a bad film.  The idea of having a third Spider-man in such a short period was not a popular call, a risk for sure.  And the hurdles to get two mega-studios to agree to terms, seemed insurmountable. 

Well, we got a young, naïve Parker as a result.  His bit part in CIVIL WAR was enough to tease the potential.  In those moments, they focused on the cleverest of ways to make him shine and get you hungry for more.  To their credit, Tom Holland (of THE IMPOSSIBLE and LOCKE) was a terrific casting choice.  He makes you a believer in their vision.  But, the piper calls and you must answer with that solo film.

From the start, HOMECOMING being released in a year filled with great titles does make things a bit tricky.  Let’s see… LOGAN, JOHN WICK 2, GURADIANS 2, ALIEN: COVENANT, GET OUT (the sleeper of the bunch), PIRATES…  Even WONDER WOMAN far surpassed anyone’s expectations, the naysayers having to eat crow.  And this was only the lineup for the first half of the year. 

Unfortunately, when all said and done, HOMECOMING fell short for me.

The film’s acting highlights surrounded Holland and Michael Keaton.  They carried this film.  Love RDJ / Stark, but he took away from Parker’s intellectual savvy and the chance to truly demonstrate Parker’s cocky, snide confidence.  With that, not having another origin treatment with the new face, and the powerhouse we have come to know as ‘The Keaton’, troubled waters were ahead.  From the opening scene, Keaton grabbed at our heartstrings by being the more likable and relatable character.  I was rooting for the Vulture by the end.  This was best villain treatment from Marvel thus far.  HOMECOMING should have been his story.

I am not sure what the writers (there were many) and director Jon Watts (of COP CAR and CLOWN, not a strong resume) were thinking, but this should not have been it.  HOMECOMING was lackluster in comparison to the other blockbusters of the year and seemed a little garbled in plot development and the final action sequence.  I believe they got caught up in dropping a crap ton of Easter Eggs for the future that they forgot they were currently in the middle of telling a story.  The humor felt more contrived because of the choppiness even though it stands as the cornerstone of the Parker tradition. 

I would agree if you said these are harsh words, but they needed to be said.  People have been drinking the Marvel juice for years now and need to realize the bar set by the MU’s stronger films requires more attention to detail and patients as new ones develop.  Although a fun joyride as people will tell you, don’t be dazzled by the Hollywood tricks while they make money off mediocre projects.  Again, pro-Vulture… this film was a tragic tale.

Grade: B-

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