Saturday, July 8, 2017

In Theatres: Spider Man: Homecoming (2017)

"With great power comes great responsibility."

No one has learned that lesson more than Peter Parker over the course of 55 years. The lesson is reinforced in more ways than one in "Spider-Man: Homecoming", the web-head's 6th feature film in 15 years, and with the 3rd actor to don the webs over that span, Tom Holland, who was introduced last year in "Captain America: Civil War".

In fact, a key scene from that film is revisited, this time through the eyes of the rookie hero, who is recording it for posterity. In that sequence alone, you can see just how in over his head Spider-Man is in this context. He's convinced himself he's ready for the big leagues, but he comes across more as a wanna-be who has to be scolded from time to time by his patron, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.). To that end, instead of designing the classic costume himself, Peter is given a tech-riddled suit by Stark, as the home-made costume Peter wears early on, before the epic meeting with the Avengers, looks more like something created for one of those needless Spider-spin-offs, the Scarlet Spider.

So consumed by his new powers is Peter that he gives up his after-school responsibilities, which turns out to be not the best of ideas.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton). We meet Adrian first on a salvage job in the aftermath of "The Avengers". However, Toomes has his contract terminated by a government agent (Tyne Daly), representing Damage Control, which is being funded by Stark. I cannot speak to how Damage Control was actually coordinated in the books back in the day, so I can't say if this is an accurate depiction. Anyway, Toomes goes underground, shall we say, keeping some of the alien tech he's already acquired for his own use. His crew includes non-costumed versions of three more members of Spidey's rogues gallery--Scorpion, Shocker, & Prowler. Hmmm.

The story fast-forwards not five years, but eight, which would suggest this movie is set three years into the future. With Marvel-time, you just never know. Anyway, Peter is 15 in this story, and I cannot recall if being a sophomore here correlates with where he was in the books initially. Not sure if he was a sophomore or a junior when he debuted in Amazing Fantasy back in 1962. His circle of friends is different, too. Yes, there's Betty Brant, but she's a reporter for the school's television station. Flash Thompson is on the same academic team as Peter, which is an interesting improvement. And, then, there is Ned, meant to be an analogue for Ned Leeds, who was introduced as an adult reporter for the Daily Bugle back in the 60's. This Ned is also on the academic team, and totally geeks out when he's chillin' in Peter's bedroom, waiting for his pal, only to discover the biggest secret of his life.

Peter's crush here is Liz, who happens to be Toomes' daughter. See, in this story, Toomes is also a family man looking to provide for them any way he can. Having been screwed over by the government, and there's a valid reason to believe he was wronged, Toomes is keeping secrets from his family, just like Peter has kept his secret hidden from Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), so he can actually relate to Peter.

Sam Raimi had intended to use the Vulture, had Sony not decided to reboot five years ago. Not sure if this was the direction he wanted with Toomes, but the Everyman businessman that Toomes was before turning to crime is consistent with his portrayals in the books. You don't expect to feel sorry for Toomes, but Keaton all but steals the movie. Then again, nobody believed Keaton could cut the mustard as a hero in "Batman" nearly 30 years ago, but he proved his doubters wrong. Coming off "Birdman" a couple of years ago, Keaton has positioned himself in line for another Golden Globe and/or Oscar nomination, though voters might forget by the end of the year.

Trailers, aside from "Dunkirk", which we've referenced before:

"Maudie": Sally Hawkins & Ethan Hawke star. From what I can gather, the title character (Hawkins) may be disabled or autistic. Just don't know enough about the film to be sure.

"Step is Life": Set in Baltimore, a college step team looks for their ticket out of the ghetto.

"An Inconvienent Sequel: Truth is Power" (July 28): The follow-up to Al Gore's "An Inconvienent Truth", with copious doses of Presidents Obama & Trump, the latter on the campaign trail last year.

Here's the "Homecoming" trailer:

Here's to hoping when Spidey returns, he's done some growing up. While there are some legitimately funny moments, and a few unintentional ones, Spider-Man is too much of a klutz to actually merit his rookie status. I don't like the idea of a tricked out costume with an on-board AI. Not every hero is meant to be outfitted like Iron Man.

Rating: B--.


Randy Monk said...

The funniest thing about Damage Control (in the comic universe), other than that the initials are DC, is that the company was originally owned not only by Tony Stark and Stark Enterprises, but by Fisk Enterprises owned by Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin. The first mini series is actually pretty humorous.

hobbyfan said...

And it was also a subtle poke at the competition. 2 miniseries came out, as I recall, but it never graduated to an ongoing. They've talked about making it a TV show, but after seeing the failure of Powerless this year, I doubt it'll ever happen.