Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)


The World’s Changed, Boys.  Time We Change Too

It doesn’t seem correct that the last time I wrote a written review for a movie was over 2 years ago, but I’ll take your word for it, WordPress.  Well, I figured if I wasn’t going to have a video ready for this week, maybe I could write a review instead.  And what luck!  I happen to have seen a movie today!  So I’ll just go ahead and give you a few words about Spider-Man: Homecoming, written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, directed by Jon Watts, and starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, and Jennifer Connelly.

Peter Parker (Holland) is Spider-Man.  …Probably should’ve put a Spoiler Alert warning in the intro…  Anyway, he fights bad guys.  But not as much as he thinks he should.  The tailor of his suit, Tony Stark (Downey), disagrees and thinks he’s not ready.  Well Peter goes and does it anyway, getting in a little over his head when he starts getting closer with a gang of former salvage employees turned criminals and lead by the flying suit wearing Adrian Toomes (Keaton).  Other stuff happens, Tony tells Peter to get naked, Peter starts wearing a hoody with steampunk goggles, happy ending.

The general shittiness of my tone when describing the movie is not an indicator of my feelings about it.  I really enjoyed this movie.  I just don’t wanna give anything important away on accident.  I wanna do that when I goddamned good and ready!  I’m so happy Marvel got their mitts back on Spidey because they did it just as well as I hoped they would.  It just felt so much like Spidey!  More than it has felt like Spidey in quite a long time.  His jokes were good (Sorry Andrew Garfield) and at no point did he have a cringe-worthy dance scene in an emo black suit (Sorry Tobey).  It was more fun than serious, but succeeded on both fronts when it aimed to, which is something the DC Universe should take note of, especially with how well Wonder Woman did it.  The movie keeps our friendly spider more grounded and small, working out of a neighborhood setting one could say.  It doesn’t get too big for its britches, even though Peter wants it.  It’s better this way.  Spider-Man should handle his own business, and then occasionally get involved in the bigger, crossover type things like they do in those picture books people like so much.  He should have his Peter Parker troubles and have to perform a balancing act with his secret Spider-Man troubles, and in this movie he does!

The movie, however, was only ALMOST perfect.  It’s hard to put a movie together without flaws, and the minor ones in this were definitely forgivable, but worth noting because it’s very difficult to make jokes about good stuff.  The biggest one for me was the whole MJ thing.  One thing that really stuck in my craw about the Dark Knight Rises was the whole Robin thing, and the MJ thing in this movie reminded me of that.  You have this character that you’ve created for the movie and that’s fine.  But why have a big reveal at the end that the character we’ve been watching in the whole movie shares a name with something we know?  Like, am I supposed to get excited that John Blake’s real name is Robin?  Even though he’s not Robin and won’t be Robin and no Robin has been named John Blake?  So it’s just a moment of the filmmakers saying, “Remember that beloved character!?  …Well, this isn’t them.  But, y’know, it’s kinda cute… right…?”  Well that’s how the MJ thing felt in this movie.  Didn’t ruin anything, mind you.  I just thought it was unnecessary.  I also felt like this movie came dangerously close to getting in over its head with the characters.  I know Marvel is excited to get to play with these characters again, but when I looked through the Wikipedia page for the movie after the fact, almost every bit character in the movie was meant to be bigger characters from the comics.  They had Prowler (apparently), the Tinkerer, the Scorpion, one version of a guy that would become Venom, and TWO Shockers!  There was also electricity in some of the scenes, and that will probably be revealed to be Electro at some point.  It didn’t hurt anything for me really, but maybe slow down a little.  You can have bit players in a movie and it won’t hurt my feelings that the dude that sold Peter a sandwich wasn’t Kraven the Hunter.

I can’t say I have much to say about the action and visuals in the movie.  They were all great.  I thought they would be and my psychic powers were confirmed when they were.  …NEXT!

The casting was phenomenal.  We’ve met a lot of these people before and already knew how good they’d be so not a lot of surprise there, but they either met or exceeded expectations.  Tom Holland didn’t have it easy jumping into such an iconic character, but felt even better when we got to spend more time with it.  And being Spidey ain’t easy.  The first hardest thing about being Spider-Man is not beating Flash’s ass.  The second hardest thing would be having those abs and wearing a shirt to high school.  These are both things that would’ve been much different if I were Spider-Man.  Perhaps my uncles did a poor job imparting wisdom to me.  …Plus they’re both alive, which seems like they really let me down.  But Holland was Peter Parker and Spider-Man both at the same time perfectly, which is something I don’t think I could say about any other Spider-Man I know.  Michael Keaton was also expectedly fantastic.  He had solid motivation and reasoning and one of the most important things to get right about a villain is their motivation.  A bad guy who is bad just to be bad is boring.  This is a family man that got screwed by Damage Control and went a little overboard afterwards to take care of his family.  And he was intimidating AF!  The way they had him put together the Peter/Spidey thing was masterful and believable.  And his line comparing the way he got rich with the way Tony Stark got rich was also perfect.  Jacob Batalon as Ned and Zendaya as Michelle were both great comic relief, without overdoing it.  I felt a little annoyed with Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau in this movie, though.  They did a great job, but their role in the movie was to get mad at Peter for trying to handle something even though he constantly tried to let them know about if first.  Something is about to get hijacked!  Call Happy!  …He hung up on me.  Better handle it myself.  “I TOLD YOU NOT TO!” says Tony.  “I also had the other thing handled and you didn’t need to get involved…but I guess I forgot to let you know I called the FBI.  …Probably would’ve let you know that you didn’t need to get involved if I told you, wouldn’t it…?”  Also, I really enjoyed Jennifer Connelly as Karen, Peter’s AI suit companion.  I didn’t know it was her until after the movie, but they had a lot of cute interactions.

Y’know, I always say I don’t have much to say about movies I enjoy and that’s why I don’t write reviews for them.  Guess I showed me!  I can talk way too much about anything!  Next up: Sports!  But Spider-Man was lovely.  A perfect balance of a Peter story and a Spidey story with only minor annoyances that don’t take away from the overall enjoyment, with great action and comedy and wonderful performances to realize those things.  Go out and see this movie!  You have my blessing!  Spider-Man: Homecoming gets “You were on the ceiling!” out of “If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”

P.S.  Rest in Peace, Joan Lee.  This movie and character may not exist at all without your support.

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Hulk (2003)


We’re Going to Have to Watch That Temper of Yours

I’m pretty sure that this movie ties up my series preparing for the release of the Avengers movie, but I did not endeavor to save the best for last.  Today’s movie was despised by nerds, but you didn’t come here for the opinion of nerds.  You came for the opinion of only one nerd.  I had not watched today’s movie since when I had seen it in theaters, and I really only remember that I liked the second movie much better, and that we did not see the titular character until about 50 minutes into the movie.  That is not a good sign.  Let’s see what I thought of Hulk, written by Michael France, John Turman, and James Schamus, directed by Ang Lee, and starring Eric Bana, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott, Jennifer Connelly, Josh Lucas, Cara Buono, Celia Weston, Johnny Kastl, Lou Ferrigno, and Stan Lee.

David Banner is a geneticist and a douche bag.  He’s a geneticist because he’s doing experiments to take special qualities from animals and mix it with human DNA.  He’s a douche bag because he tries it on himself and passes it down to his son.  When his boss, Lieutenant Colonel “Thunderbolt” Ross, finds out, he shuts down his research.  David overreacts a little bit and sets off a giant explosion in their gamma reactor, drives home, and stabs his wife in the chest.  He’s put in the looney bin and his son, Bruce (Eric Bana), is raised by foster mom (Celia Weston) until he becomes a successful bionuclear researcher.  Things get a little crazy for him at the facility when the military-industrial complex representative, Major Talbot (Josh Lucas), starts wanting to get their research, and the janitor turns out to be a much more grizzled version of his father (Nick Nolte).  It’s also not that easy working with his ex-girlfriend, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), daughter of now-General “Thunderbolt” Ross (Sam Elliott).  And things just get worse when he steps in front of a gamma blast to save his friend after a lab accident and he starts turning into a big, green thing when angry.

There were some things about this movie that worked, but the greater majority of them did not.  One big issue is not so much the story, but certainly the writing.  The biggest issue I had with the movie when I saw it in theaters carried over to irritate me again.  The Hulk is not shown until 42 minutes into the movie.  This movie is about him, or at least that’s what I was lead to believe by the title.  It’s supposed to be about a big, green thing smashing things that made it angry.  Instead, we watched a movie mainly about David Banner and the effects he had on other people.  But don’t worry.  If you came for lots of smashing you’ll get lots and lots of … people doing scientific experiments.  When the Hulk finally shows up, he just makes a mess of a laboratory and leaves.  Then you have another 20 minutes until you see him again.  This time, he actually decides to smash something.  That something is three ridiculous looking mutated dogs.  There are many things I want to see when the Hulk smashes giant mutant dogs.  I would be happy with blood, guts, bile, and any number of bodily fluids.  I would even be content with you just doing it off camera to keep the movie PG.  What I’m not too keen on is them just exploding into green pixie dust.  It was kind of cool that he broke one of the dog’s jaws by flexing until it dislocated.  You’re not really going to get any kind of real satisfaction from the Hulk until he starts fighting the military.  That bit of action was fairly well done, but also about two hours in.  I’m not happy that the Hulk is somehow concerned about making sure that a jet doesn’t crash into the Golden Gate Bridge after it had just been attacking him.  I understand that parts of Banner are still in the Hulk, but the Hulk should be thinking, “Fuck that guy.”  I guess the Hulk wouldn’t say that … just like he wouldn’t say, “Puny human,” because the Hulk himself is (in a way) human.  The Hulk says, “Puny Banner,” when he comes out of a mirror in a dream sequence and chokes Banner.  And then we get to the ending, causing me to throw up some ::SPOILER ALERT::  David Banner has done an experiment on himself to give himself powers, making him able to absorb energies.  He turns into a giant electrical thing to fight the Hulk and try to absorb his energy.  The Hulk responds with a line that they stole from Jiz Soaked Jezebels 14 and says, “Take it all!”  He then somehow releases a bunch of energy jiz into him which inexplicably makes a giant bubble of water out of the lake they were in that then explodes into green pixie dust.  Fuck that ending in the butt.  ::END SPOILERS::

The biggest problem with this movie is that it was WAY over-directed and poorly planned.  Ang Lee got obsessed with the artist direction of this movie, making it look like a comic book with interesting transitions, multiple panels on screen, and various camera angles happening at the same time.  It was a very interesting art project, but a super boring movie that needed to remember that it was about the Hulk.  It all has a good look to it, but at a certain point I started thinking, “Would you just knock it off and play the movie already?”  The BluRay of the movie did make it extra beautiful to look at.  In a lot of the opening, they decide that the audience needs some random close-ups of algae and trees.  It looked so good in HD that it made me wish I was just watching one of those Planet Earth movies instead of someone inexplicably putting these things into a Hulk movie.  We know that this character came from comic books, but we’re not reading the comic books.  We’re watching a movie, so just make a movie and not a hybrid of the two.  The CG characters (like the Hulk and the dogs) look good sometimes, but also occasionally don’t appear to be part of the scene.  And when Talbot’s character has something explode behind him and Ang decided he would do a freeze frame of him a-la Charlie’s Angels, that was just stupid.

Sometimes, when I see the cast they’ve attained for a comic book movie, I get really disappointed.  Other times – as with this movie, the X-Men movies, and the new Batman movies – I get excited that they actually got some good actors to elevate this comic book movie past it’s station.  I was about half right with this movie.  I was excited that Eric Bana was in the movie because his last name is so close to the character he’s portraying, which means he’ll definitely do a good job at it.  He did a good job throughout the movie but one scene was just bad.  It was when he had just beat up the green pixie-dogs, turns back into Banner, has a little anger freak out, and starts choking Betty for no reason whatsoever.  Jennifer Connelly was great and very real all the way through, but I can’t really look at her anymore without seeing some old guy saying, “Ass to ass.”  Nick Nolte did a decent enough job … until the end of the movie when he and Bruce are having a conversation and Nolte does a little mock pout thing.  That was funny, but it probably wasn’t the place for funny.  Josh Lucas played a decent enough asshole, and Sam Elliott was pretty good as General Ross.

This movie had a chance but, let’s be honest, Ang Lee fucked this thing up.  The story could have been alright with a little more smashing and the performances were mostly good.  The real problem with this movie is that Ang Lee was asked to do it right when he was finishing film school so he wanted to be able to submit this movie.  Pretty, but pretentious.  And just boring.  You don’t need to see this movie.  Watch the Incredible Hulk instead.  It wasn’t nearly as pretty, but my Hulk movies involve mostly smashing.  So fuck this movie, but make love to the Incredible Hulk.  Hulk gets “Oh, some more repressed memories” out of “Bad science, maybe.”

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