It's been a while since I sat in a movie theater to watch a Spider-Man movie and had so many conflicting thoughts on the merits of the film while having had minimum investment in the buzz and excitement directed at moviegoers prior to the premiere weekend.
The press media reports have become alarmingly less news like and more more an extension of the studio's promotional machine, and this isnt something that's just Sony and Disney, it's across the board in the showbiz entertainment industry. Endless daily reports from Forbes to the Verge, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, Fox News, CNN, Screenrant, Comicbooks, YouTube and an endless list of high profile media outlets dripping, prior to the movie's opening, everything from "easter eggs", plot spoilers (the movie hasn't opened yet) to the latest tweet or proclamation from any of the actors, directors, producers or industry experts, even those remotely connected with the project.
The frenzy reaches a fever pitch days before the first screening by the public and it's no accident. This is the marketing model and script that is now Bible in movieland. For the sake of enjoying the film, some of us simply tune out most of the media clamor and, you may not believe this, it can take some doing to avoid polluting your opinion and mindset before seeing the movie. Gossip bites and screaming headlines are a little difficult to skip over when they are front page splash items on Yahoo, Google, MSN and every other internet engine and web portal you can think of (AOL, Lycos, Qwant) touting feeds from the Big Three and stock "reports" from Reuters to the Associated Press.
You need some serious maneuvers and super skills to keep yourself in the dark and able to enjoy the film free from the "junk" and clunk that is churning all around you, especially if you work in an industry tied to the entertainment machine and your job is to produce editorial pieces that are distinct from the usual avalanche that is sweeping the landscape. How to craft a distinct piece when almost every other "lead" being published by the majors has "spoiler" warnings and is employing this hook to draw in eyeballs, traffic and ratings points. There is so much pandering by the columnist or line editor to the entertainment property that at some point you wonder if there is any journalism, as defined by Academia, in the press.
Spider-Man Homecoming has been especially interesting as it seems the movie reviewers and industry were experiencing a spasm following this year's high profile bombs from Ghost in The Shell
, The Mummy to King Arthur Legend of The Sword
and more tepid returns from movies such as Alien Covenant. It's possible the movie industry is currently in the midst of a "franchise" model over-extension crisis but these issues are sporadically and anecdotally receiving mention in some stories.
In the newest reboot of Spider-Man Homecoming, Tom Holland is cast as a much younger Peter Parker, resetting the timeline prior to the initial 2002 Sam Raimi record-setting movie with Tobey Maguire and Kristen Dunst. Sony and Columbia Pictures' strategy were second-guessed early on by the press with many columnists questioning if the public will digest another iteration with a new cast, especially after an aborted series with an extremely hot and popular couple, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone
After five mega Spider-Man tentpole movies from Sony, Homecoming follows a somewhat different storyline, more importantly a different timeline, than the one made dear to fans by its authentic interpretation of the comic book canon - established over decades by Marvel Comics, now part of Marvel Entertainment and The Disney Empire.
Tom Holland was inducted to the Web slinging tradition, firmly established by the Maguire and Garfield interpretations, in Captain America Civil War as a last minute recruit by Iron Man against the schism that damages The Avengers in the follow-up to The Age of Ultron
. Holland's turn and the character's persona were greeted with both strong cheers and boos from new fans and those disenchanted by The Amazing Spider-Man series and by those loyal to Maguire and Garfield.
Spiderman, Peter Parker, is no longer a senior graduating from high school and facing the grim challengers of the workforce and the labor market, he is a very young student just beginning to wade through the murky waters of adolescence, high school puppy love, and disapproving teachers and principals, peer pressure and how to act to be part of the popular scene.
But as all moviegoers know, these troubles are enough to sink into distress any average teenager, Peter Parker is not a normal teen. The delightfully geeky and civic minded teen also piles on his plate the troubles and crime agendas of his boroughs in New York City and he doesnt have a driver's license yet to drive to his date's house. Aunt Mae (Marisa Tomei) has to do the honors and she plays the role of Mom with a little more nerve and neurotica than Rosemary Harris' wonderful turn. To my senses, Tomei channels Mom with an interplay reminiscent of The Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio.
To set themselves distinctly apart from the legendary Tobey Maguire Spider-Man and to also create a world apart from the other Marvel movie series (the leading superheroes of The Avengers), Spider-Man Homecoming adopts a decidedly teen movie platform replete with winks and plagiarizations from the 1980s and 1990s onslaught, making an obvious nod to one of the era's most notorious and long-lived director of big hits such as Ferris Bueller's Day Off (which Deadpool also winked at), Some Kind of Wonderful and The Breakfast Club - RIP John Hughes.
You would not be far off the mark if you jumped to the conclusion that Homecoming's filmmakers were merging the winning (innocent and patriotic) qualities of Captain America with the neurotic and hyper self-absorbed New York persona of Iron Man's Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). The more I watch Robert Downey Jr. the more I am struck how closely he shoots for a variety of Woody Allen's trademarks as the consummate New Yorker. In this movie both Director Watts and Downey craft a set of lines that show off Tony Stark as a little more mature and concerned "father figure" as well as absent minded and typically self-engrossed billionaire at play (ahem ... at work, because he does not discern the differences between the two realms).
The Vulture Weapon of Choice - Impossible Tech for Nerds and Geeks
If you are reading our review it's possible you are a long-time superhero or science fiction fan, we would not be doing our job if we do not point out the very thing today's savvy audience wants to read about. The flaws and warts in a movie that could have surpassed the original Spider-Man if the filmmakers were less artists and had a science advisor onboard to do the reality check for them.
Vulture is the main bad guy in this movie, and as well crafted his transition is from every day New Yorker small contractor to super star villain there are several hiccups in the movie, even Michael Keaton's superb acting skills and stint as Batman
cannot overcome. The weapon of choice to make geeks drool and to connect this Spider-Man adventure to the Marvel MCU series is its biggest Achilles heel - The Helicarrier concept from S.H.I.E.L.D. Any high school science geek would know that the fans installed on the Vulture wings are not thick enough to generate the kind of pressure differentials across the intake and discharge to produce sufficient thrust to rocket him away at such speed, altitudes and with sharp angles of attack that would push even jet fighters into a stall if they attempted them.