My aim was to see this film the Sunday after it first came out. That was already after two of the least discreet people I work with had already seen it so I was still skirting on dangerous spoiler territory. Unfortunately, my plans fells through and I was forced to wait until the Saturday after that before I found out what I’d been desperately waiting 6 years for. That was so many days where I had to hide from spoilers. By that point the vast majority of my colleagues who were ever going to see it had seen it and there was the added threat of the entire fucking internet. I’ve already unfollowed people on Instagram because they were flirting with spoilers. I couldn’t go on Facebook or YouTube without there being some sort of reference to the film that I had to ignore. And don’t even get me started on my misguided decision to check out Buzzfeed one night before bed. Nearly every article had something to do with Infinity War. I managed to get away with only having one thing confirmed to me and it was something I had guessed (and was secretly hoping would happen). It’s something I want to discuss on a different post because I feel this should be entirely spoiler free… if only to prove I’m better than the people I no longer follow on social media. Be the change you want to see in the World and all that. I’m pretty sure Gandhi was talking about movie spoilers, right?
I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed the first Kingsman movie. It was an insane but really enjoyable spy film that even managed to make Colin Firth seem edgy and cool. I never would have thought it was possible but I guess Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman did the same thing with Nicolas Cage in Kickass. Kingsman is one of those weird films that everyone seems to love. Even my mother watched it when it was on Netflix. It had the benefit of being batshit crazy, incredibly funny, and well-made. It was perfectly over-the-top and a perfect antidote for the decreasingly self-aware Bond franchise. In recent years, James Bond has gone from being a camp British icon to something of a Hollywood bad boy. He no longer feels the need for insane and unnecessary gadgetry and, instead, uses her sheer muscle mass and martial arts skills to get the job done. Kickass took us back to a time when spies were gentlemen carrying umbrella guns and exploding pens. It was great. So, I was pretty gosh darn excited by the prospect of the second one. Especially when it was announced that Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry were all joining the cast as an American version of the UK’s Kingsman organisation. All 3 of those actors are, in their own way, incredibly talented. As you probably know if you’ve read some of my stuff before, I have developed a love of Channing Tatum since I discovered he has a sense of humour about himself and now I long to see all of his films. I swear it’s all about his comic timing… there’s definitely nothing of interest to me underneath his shirt. No way. Never.
The sequel to Matthew Vaughn’s 2005 spy film, Kingsman: The Secret Service doesn’t so much try to carry on the great things as it tries to overshadow them. There is no sense that the second film in the series is going to take things lying down. It is bigger, brasher, more violent and even sillier. Yes, that’s right, even sillier than a film starring an assassin with blades for legs. This one does star Elton John though. Considering how weird the first film is, it’was incredibly unlikely that I’d ever be able to sit and say the second film makes it look almost normal in comparison. But it does. The Golden Circle could certainly do with some refinement but it still contains the same breathtaking stunts and camera work that made the first film so entertaining. As long as your basic requirements for this film revolve around good guys kicking the arses of bad guys then it’ll be satisfying enough.
The Golden Circle sees the unlikely hero from the first film, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), coming up against a dangerous drug baron, Poppy (Julianne Moore), who is essentially holding the world’s drug users to ransom. When Eggsy has a near-death run in with former Kingsman applicant Charlie he finds himself on the tail of the Golden Circle; a drugs cartel who rules the world’s drug trade. When Poppy poisons her merchandise, drugs users all over the globe start showing signs of an illness which leads to a quick and horrible death. Poppy plans to make a deal with President of the United States but, after the rest of the Kingsman were taken out, Eggsy seeks help from his American counterparts, the Statesmen, to bring her down.
It is the introduction of the Statesmen that gives this film such a different feel. Once the majority of the orignal cast have been dispensed with, Eggsy is left with only Merlin (Mark Strong) for company. So we are introduced to American agents in the shape of Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal. All these characters show great potential but they never quite excite as much as the original cast. There is a certain amount of chemistry missing between the newbies and the olds here. You’ll miss the interactions between Eggsy and his mentor Harry (Colin Firth) or his fellow new Kingsman Roxy. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Pedro Pascal’s face but even watching him utilise an electro lasso doesn’t make up for the absences.
There is a lot of bloat in this second film that really slows the film down. Not only have we got to go through the process of finding and introducing the Statesmen, which messes with the pace, but then we find out Harry is alive. It’s not exactly a spoiler because he’s been all over the promotional material but, yes, after his grizzly death in the first film Harry is back… kind of. I like Colin Firth in the first film but his return here takes way too much time away from the main story. It ultimately doesn’t add enough to justify lengthening the film that much. No matter how cool Firth looks in an eye patch.
It is not until late on that the film really gets going. After the opening fight scene, that’s where we see most of the super impressive and visually stunning fight scenes that the first film got so right. I mean, speaking critically, I could have done without the rehash of the original’s “manners maketh man” scene but Pedro Pascal is so phenomenally sexy that I can forgive it. It is these insane and completely cartoon-like fight scenes that make the Kingsman films so fantastic. The visual gags, stunts and CGI all come together to create something so absurd yet so appealing. The filmmakers know what they’re doing by now so they’re all pretty by the book but they will still capture an audiences’ attention.
I can’t say that I liked this film more than the original but I did like this film. Well, most of this film. There is a horrible, creepy and unnecessary plot strand that sees Eggsy have to plant a tracking device in an incredibly intimate area that just feels misjudged…. especially in this current climate in Hollywood. However, the rest of the film is silly and funny enough to keep fans of the first film relatively happy. Even if Channing Tatum is horribly underused and overdressed for the duration.
Ah how foolish I was all those weeks ago when I promised an additional weekly post full of useful stuff. Turns out Jeff Goldblum was right and life, er, finds a way. I feel guilty with every passing Wednesday that I don’t post something bookish so I’ve decided to rectify this by posting a random tag I found on the internet. I thought the Guilty Reader Tag seemed appropriate. I’m a guilty blogger and a guilty reader, after all. As well as not posting often enough recently, I really haven’t been reading enough. I blame the fact that I’ve been ill but that was only really for a week. I’m just stressed and tired about work. So I can’t concentrate on the text. Plus, the chapters seem to be a lot longer at the moment. I don’t know what’s happened. Next week my intention is to have a review of The Underground Railroad up. I wanted to do it this week but I fell asleep mid-chapter last night. I should definitely have it done soon so will have a proper post up. If not, you can just expect easy/shitty tag posts from now on. Sorry.
1. Have You Ever Regifted A Book That You’ve Been Given?
I don’t think I’ve ever regifted anything ever. I have, however, bought a book for myself then given it to someone else as a supplementary present. I don’t know if this counts.
2. Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?
Obviously. We’ve all been guilty of this when we’re younger. When I was at uni I pretended to read all the shit on my reading list. I also definitely lied about reading George Orwell books when I was a teenager. I had a super judgemental friend that I was really competitive with. What can I say? I was young and I’ve since rectified this fact by reading George Orwell.
3. Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?
Again who hasn’t done this at least once? I’m the kind of person who hates not getting books returned but am also the type of person who forgets to return them. It’s why I don’t really borrow books from people. Although, I think I’ve only kept one book that someone lent me. It was the same friend who I mentioned above and it was an Alice Walker book that I never actually read. Then we all just forgot I had it. I assumed I gave it to a charity shop eventually.
4. Have you ever read a series out of order?
I haven’t really done this for smaller series knowingly. Why would you? It’s madness. Although, with bigger series it can be accidental or unavoidable. I don’t know if comic books count because I definitely have there. Also, Discworld. I mean Terry Pratchett’s series is so fucking huge and I’m not even sure it has an “order” as such. I just tend to pick and chose which books I read when.
5. Have you ever spoiled a book for someone?
I probably have. I mean I try not to but I blurt things out without thinking all the time. It’s not malice; just stupidity.
6. Have you ever doggy eared a book?
Not on purpose but it’s inevitable that when you read and carry around a book it will get messy. I take a book to work so it’s in my bag and will obviously get a bit battered. I don’t mind so much though because it gives a book character. I love the look and feel of a used book. It’s why I collect so many vintage editions.
7. Have you ever told someone you don’t own a book when you do?
I don’t think so. I have very little shame anyway and I’ve read a lot of shit during my time at university. Heck, I even admitted to a fellow literature student that I was reading a book from the Richard and Judy book club many years ago. She was judging me but I didn’t care.
8. Have you ever told someone you haven’t read a book when you have?
Isn’t this the same question as before? Even if it isn’t it’s the same answer. Shame: I have none.
9. Have you ever skipped a chapter or a section of a book?
Obviously. If I know I’m not into a book or I’m desperate to finish I will skim read or judge whether certain paragraphs/speeches/chapters are strictly necessary to my enjoyment. I’ve skipped introductions and prologues at times. I skip the epilogue to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows every single time.
10. Have you ever bad mouthed a book you actually liked?
This is a crazy question. I mean who seriously does this? I don’t want to keep banging on about this but I have no shame. If I like a book then I’d say. No matter how shit it is. Reading is subjective and shouldn’t be an area of judgement. Life’s too short and I have books piling up around me.
I have to say , considering the quality of the previous 2 Thor films, it’s been pretty difficult to be a fan of Marvel’s God of Thunder. He has always been my favourite male superhero in the Marvel comic book world but it’s been hard to convince non-comic book fans that he deserves that title. Iron Man is the funny and cool one thanks to RDJ. Captain America has, the best Marvel film, Winter Solider, to make himself look better. But Thor? He’s had a pretty poor showing in terms of solo film outings. I say as someone who adores the first Thor film but also understands that it leaves a lot to be desired. I understand the second one is dire but we don’t need to go into that again. This back catalogue of frustratingly weak films have meant that a lot of people have overlooked Thor. He hasn’t made enough of an impact. His own films are just irritatingly lacking and he tends to get lost in the huge ensembles of the two Avengers movies. Heck, he wasn’t even allowed in Civil War. Instead Thor was benched along with the other Avenger that nobody really knows what to do with: the Hulk. The problem is the very concept of the Thunder God. He’s so caught up in mythology that there is a tendency to play him straight. Living up in his own realm of the God’s means he feels even less realistic than the rest of the line-up and that really is saying something. His roles in these films have left Thor feeling like the weak link in the chain. He’s neither the funniest, the most badass, nor the most memorable of the Avengers. Hollywood just doesn’t know what to do with him. Or at least they didn’t. From the minute the first images of Ragnarok came out I was convinced this would be the film we Thor fans have been waiting for. It had Guardians of the Galaxy style humour, an 80s aesthetic, and a fucking awesome soundtrack. Even before I’d seen it I was sure it was going to be my cup of tea. Of course, the fact that it would also serve as the closest we’d get to a Planet Hulk movie was just an added bonus.
The main problem that I remember from watching Thor: The Dark World is that it tried far too hard to be dark. It was around the time that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy was at the height of its popularity and before Zack fucking Snyder made us all weary of the grungy, angsty comic book movie. It didn’t really have that fun, silliness, or, at the very least, self-awareness that the best Marvel films have in buckets. It was all dark elves, family melodrama, and a naked Stellan Skarsgård. The second Thor film was trying to be something it wasn’t and the end result really showed what a mistake it was. Thankfully, for his third solo outing for the MCU, it seems Marvel have really learnt their lesson. Despite the title’s reference to Ragnarok, the apocalyptic demise of the Norse God’s, this film is anything but dark. Something we learn from the very first scene is that not only has Thor finally found an on screen presence but he’s managed to pick up a great sense of humour along the way.
For too long comic book movies have been trying to make themselves seem as grown-up and serious. Ragnarok understands that all of this is so crazy that it’s pointless trying to play it straight. Marvel films have dabbled in humour before but Thor 3 has a completely different feel to it. It’s more like a comedy film that happens to be about comic book characters instead of a comic book movie with more jokes. Marvel have always been good at letting unexpected directors have a go at massive Blockbusters but New Zealand born director Taika Waititi is, perhaps, the weirdest so far. Thankfully, he was allowed the chance to do his own thing and, as we can see, it works wonderfully.
Ragnarok has a bit of work to do before it gets down to the real business. We left The Dark World with Loki on the throne in disguise and we last saw Thor vowing the track down the remaining infinity stones. So Thor goes back to Asgard to sort shit out but, before he’s even got time to breathe, his long lost sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, turns up to royally fuck shit up. She wants revenge on her father and his people for casting her out years ago. Unfortunately, as this is going on Thor (Christ Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) find themselves stranded on a distant planet, Sakaar, presided over by the villainous Grand Master (Jeff Goldblum). Whilst Loki is taken in as a friend, Thor is captured and turned into a gladiator. With no other means of escape, Thor is left with no other choice but to fight the Grand Master’s Champion; who, as we all know, just happens to be the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Can Thor, the Big Guy, his sketchy brother and their new ally, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), an ex-Asgardian warrior with a grudge to settle.
In terms of the basic narrative there isn’t a great deal of excitement and Ragnarok treads very worn Marvel ground. This rag-tag bunch of heroes come together to fight a big evil to save the world. However, there is so much more going on that it doesn’t even feel that familiar. The sub-plot on Sakaar is fabulous and both Hemsworth and Ruffalo get the chance they both deserve to flesh out their characters. His recent pitstop in comedy films has left Christ Hemsworth with a greater comedic confidence and, for the first time since he first donned the red cape, he looks comfortable in the role. Conversely, Ruffalo finally has something to do as he starts to flesh out the green monster before the upcoming Infinity War films. I’ve read criticism that the film completely rewrites these characters but I just see it as positive development. This is one friendship I can’t wait to see get stronger.
There are some amazing performances on display in this film. Jeff Goldblum is at his most Jeff Goldblum and manages to walk the line of annoyingly hammy without falling into oblivion. Tess Thompson is sensational in her role and more than makes up for the abysmal female presence in the previous Thor films. Tom Hiddleston is perfect as Loki, as usual, but over time I find myself tiring of the “is he good or bad?” narrative. It just gets old. Still, I’m always happy to see that face. Finally, Idris Elba, returning as Heimdall, is worth noting. If only for the fact that, at the point that he takes off his cloak, his beefy arms. I love the change Heimdall has made from Gatekeeper to fucking badass.
My only real problem with Ragnarok (aside from the pointless and built up Dr Strange cameo) is Hela herself. The great villain looks the part but never gets the chance to get going. It’s a waste of Blanchett’s talents and a potentially great bad guy. Every time the action switches back to Asgard I couldn’t help but wish I was back on Sakaar. Hela feels out of place in this film just as all the references to genocide and darker elements do. These references are fleeting but they do stick out badly. There are also some poignant moments that are not dealt with properly. It can feel a bit weird. But, really, it doesn’t matter. Everything is held together thanks to an immense amount of charm, humour and utter silliness. This film knows it’s dealing with nonsense so plays up on that fact. I lost count of the time I genuinely laugh-out-loud watching this. Minor problems aside, this the greatest Marvel movie you’ll ever have seen.
So I’ve survived the first week on my own without any major incidents or going insane. I have to admit I’ve got into something of an OAP type routine in the last few days when I had a run of early shifts. I started to eat around 5pm and head to bed about 9. It’s so fucking rock and roll I can’t function. Tonight was a little different though. I didn’t eat until after 7pm. It was a massive shock to the system. Tonight my twin sister invited me round for dinner. I imagine this was mainly to make sure I hadn’t starved whilst being alone. It was a lovely evening but my routine is a little off. Which is why I’m writing this now and watching the season 1 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale. So I’m feeling a mixture of contentment, panicked and traumatised right now. But I’ll get through. Well, not so much the trauma… this show is fucked up. I love it! Now, I’d best get to bed because it’s now way past my new bedtime.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
- The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet
Thankfully, I bought no books this week. I didn’t need any and, considering how little I’ve read, I didn’t deserve any either.
- Netflix Binges: Teachers
- The House
- Casa de mi Padre
For the next couple of weeks I have the whole house to myself. Now, I’ve seen Risky Business, I know what I’m meant to do with an empty house. It’s safe to say I’ve been enjoying the freedom. You know, showering at normally unsociable hours, playing the Hamilton soundtrack at full blast, and not locking the bathroom door. I think it’s safe to say I’m living life to the full right now. But, tearing myself away from the rock n roll lifestyle, I still have to stick to my schedule. So on with the rundown.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
- The 7th Fucntion of Language by Laurent Binet
- Selection of Pulp the Classics
- Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy by Dan Slott
- Netflix Binges: Bad Education, Teachers
Ever since the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming this month the internet has eagerly been taking every chance it can to rank the web-slinger’s movies in order of brilliance. It’s just what we do. We can’t just appreciate things for their own merit. Oh, no. We have to make sure there is a definitive decision on which one you’re allowed to like the most. (She says hoping nobody picks up on the hypocrisy of someone who ranks things every first Wednesday of the month.) Apparently, it’s not possible to thing both the new film and the older films are all okay so we have to decide which is the best. I’ve seen so many lists in the last few days and things are getting crazy. After all, there aren’t that many live action Spider-Man films. There are, really, only 6. Which I assume is the reason that many people are desperately including Civil War on their list so it doesn’t seem so utterly pointless and pathetic. It’s not a fucking Spider-Man film; stop going out of your way to put Andrew Garfield’s film further down the list. So, before this goes into rant territory, the main topic of conversation that seems to exist now is whether the newest film is better than the film that previously topped the list: Toby Maguire’s sequel. It is widely acknowledged that his third time to put on the suit was the biggest disaster to happen to comic book movies ever but is Spider-Man 2 actually still better than Tom Holland’s first attempt? There’s only one way to find out.
Spider-Man 2 has been my favourite Spider-Man film for 13 years. That’s not really saying much because the 3 films that were released after it were all fairly questionable in their own way and, in some cases, that’s me being super generous. Spider-Man 2 managed to follow on from the groundwork laid out by Sam Raimi and Toby Maguire in their first film but actually make it a, you know, good film. It was more exciting that the first, the characters were given a chance to develop and we saw actual narrative complexity in Peter’s inability to decide who he really wanted to be. It had its flaws, certainly, but there was such a massive improvement from the origin story that it made for a really refreshing film. Even though some naysayers, mostly my really annoying colleague, who think it’s solely down to Doctor Octopus. Don’t get my wrong, he helps but there is so much to love about this film that you can forgive a lot of the incredibly cringe moments in it.
Like the ridiculous scene where an unmasked Spidey is carried, Christ-like, through the carriage of a train that he has just stopped from crashing. It’s a scene that shouldn’t really work but, in the context of this film, it becomes a powerful and emotional image. I want to hate it but, god damn it, I cry every time. Spider-Man introduced us to Peter and set him off on his journey but the sequel asks the question “what does it mean for his life?”. The first film ended with his rejecting Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst) to protect her from his secret life and it is a decision he has a hard time accepting here. He has loved Mary-Jane for years so he doesn’t understand why he can’t be happy in order to protect the city of New York. It’s a film in which Spider-Man spends about a quarter of the running time not being Spider-Man.
We pick up about 2 years after Peter told Mary-Jane that he didn’t love her and he’s having a rough time keeping up with his double life. He’s struggling in class, having money issues, and is clashing with Harry thanks to his supposed friendship with Spider-Man. He can’t be everything he needs to be and it all gets a lot worse when MJ tells him she’s seeing someone. Peter struggles with the reality that he can’t have a normal life when there are people to save. So he quits. Unfortunately, crazed scientist Dr Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) is going on a rampage through the city and fucking shit up with his AI mechanical tentacles. Will Peter pick up his suit again or let New York save itself?
This was a film that didn’t just want to see action sequences and big baddies putting people in danger. It wanted to focus on characters and the lives of people who put themselves in danger for others. Peter is constantly trying to juggle his desire to help people and his loyalty towards his best friend, Harry (James Franco) and love for Mary-Jane. Unlike the first film’s attempt to create depth and emotion in the horribly handled death of Uncle Ben, this film succeeds in giving Toby Maguire something to dig into and creates some real tension and drama. Incidentally, it also does a pretty good job in those other things thanks to Doctor Octopus, still one of the best villains in superhero movie history.
But is Spider-Man 2 better than Homecoming? I don’t know. Both are elevated above their status thanks to great performances by their leading villain and both have undeveloped and annoying side characters. I’m sorry but neither Ned or Liz got enough time to develop and the fuss made about Zendaya was ridiculous in comparison to her 15 minutes of screen time. Then we have Harry the most annoying BFF in history and Mary Jane who is only saved from being the blandest love interest in a superhero film thanks to Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. Both films have their flaws. Toby Maguire still isn’t great and is clearly overshadowed by Tom Holland. However, I think Homecoming suffers in terms of narrative but only because it’s setting up the franchise. It might not be an origin movie as such but it is this incarnations first film. It has a lot of boxes to tick and it slows things down. Spider-Man 2 has a great story. If I honestly had to pick I’d say the 2004 film just about gets it but, I admit, it’s probably damn close.
Before the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming came out it seemed as though everybody in the world had decided without a shadow of a doubt that this was going to be the best Spider-Man film since 2004. Suddenly, Toby Maguire was being hailed as some sort of hero because of his role as Peter Parker. I get that there were many disappointing things about The Amazing Spider-Man but the mistakes weren’t down to Andrew Garfield. They were down to poor writing and Sony desperately trying to build a franchise to compete with Marvel Films. It was handled terribly but I’ve always been a fan of Garfield’s Peter… even though he is a tad too old to play a high school student. Plus, how was everyone forgetting that Toby Maguire is kind of a terrible actor in these films? Those tears when Uncle Ben dies? That’s been a pretty strong feature of the meme circuit for years now. I felt like I had fallen in an insane alternate reality where everybody else’s memories of those films were different from mine. So, I decided to rewatch them for this week… just to be sure.
Who am I? You sure you want to know? The story of my life is not for the faint of heart. If somebody told you it was a happy tale, if somebody said I was just your average guy, not a care in the world… somebody lied. But let me assure you, this, like any other story worth telling, is all about a girl.
Toby Maguire delivers these lines in such a hilariously bad way that it just mars the opening scene. It’s supposed to be dangerous and enthralling but it just feels like a parody. Which is exactly what Maguire’s portrayal of Peter Parker feels like nowadays. I know classic Peter was a massive loser and was kicked around by everyone but these films don’t even seem to put us on Pete’s side. He’s a dummy but he’s also super annoying. People don’t like him but he never gives us a reason to think they should. This film came out 15 years ago but this portrayal feels so outdated it could easily have 30.
Then we have Kirsten Dunst’s Mary-Jane: I don’t know what to say about her because she’s such a non-entity. I don’t see why people are so obsessed with her because she never does anything. She’s supposed to be the cool and nice girl next door that Peter has been obsessed with for years. However, she’s just the bland, popular girl with the shiny red hair and a really questionable dress sense. And, the less said about James Franco’s Harry Osborn the better frankly. It’s a ridiculous performance that is only marginally better than Franco’s turn hosting the Oscars. I’m not saying Andrew Garfield was everything we wanted in a Peter Parker but he was better than this shit. Plus, with supporting cast members like Emma Stone and Dane DeHaan I find it impossible to see how anyone can say, so confidently, that the Toby Maguire films are better.
Still, there are still some good things about these films. The classic 60s Aunt May, played by Rosemary Harris, seems even more like a bit of a fuddy-duddy when compared to the likes of Sally Field and Marisa Tomei but she’s still perfect. Then there’s Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin. It is, for the time being at least, the best version of that character we have ever seen. The fights between Goblin and Spidey are a better watch then the ones in Marc Webber’s version even when you consider how outdated the effects are now. It’s an exciting film to watch and it provides us with a great villain. I also think this film handles Peter’s introduction to his powers really well. There are some great scenes as he comes to terms with his new abilities and it allows for a better sense of how far he comes as a hero.
Spider-Man was an important film in terms of the history of comic book movies on screen. It has pride of place but it is important to remember that it is not the greatest film ever. It’s not even the greatest film in its own trilogy. It was lucky in the sense that it was one of the first comic book movies in the new era of comic book movies. It didn’t have much competition then. It also came out just after 9/11 when New York needed a hero to get behind. The scenes where New Yorkers come to Spidey’s aid will never not be poignant given the historical context of this film.
However, this film falls down because of some underwhelming key performances, a often awful script, and a badly written story. There is too much emphasis on unnecessary things and not enough of a development on important characters. The story collapses under the requirement to show Peter’s origin; both being bitten by the spider and though the death of his uncle. There is so much here that is just in for laughs or for show that you can’t help but wonder what would have happened if plot points hadn’t been glossed over. I would have preferred more time with Ben and May before his death because it just feels shallow here. I will always love this film but watching this now it is even more confusing that people are putting it on such a fucking high pedestal.
I’ve always felt that Andrew Garfield got a bit of a rough deal when it came to his time as Spider-Man. He is now widely considered the worst version of the character to appear on screen but it’s hardly his fault. Now, I liked The Amazing Spider-Man and thought Garfield did a really good job with the character of Peter Parker. Yes, he wasn’t the same geeky, isolated young man that we’re used to but we’re living in a world where geek is cool. Garfield gave Peter some sass and it could have worked really well for him because Spider-Man has always been the sassy one. The films didn’t work because Garfield was bad but because he wasn’t given the right material. Sony fucked up the reboot in order to get it out in time. I think the things would have been very different if the actor had been given more of a chance and there had been more thought in the whole thing. Plus, there’s a lot of weird nostalgia surrounding Toby Magurire’s time as the character that I don’t really get. He’s not that good. It’s just that he was the first major big screen version of the character. It just boggles my mind that so much of the stuff I read before I saw Tom Holland’s first solo outing as the web-slinger was focused on how great Maguire was and how shit Garfield was. Let’s be honest, we could do better than both of the attempts Sony made and his brief time in Civil War showed that maybe Holland had what it took.
First off, I have to say it is super refreshing that the third reboot of Spider-Man in 15 years doesn’t feel the need to remind us of how the superhero came into being. We all get it by now: radioactive spider bite, superpowers, move into heroics. Yes, there is a brief reference to it but it is so underplayed that it doesn’t matter. Instead, the main action picks up shortly after the evens of Captain America: Civil War as Peter Parker is eagerly awaiting his next call to assemble. Instead, he is left dealing with petty street crime and helping old ladies carry their shopping. Safe to say, the young man is bored. Until he stumbles upon a black market that is selling weapons made out of salvaged alien technology. Run by the mysterious Vulture (Michael Keaton) who literally, thanks to his mechanical wings, swoops in and steals the technology from under the government’s nose.
Spidey, keen to prove to Tony Stark that he can handle the big stuff, starts investigating the Vulture’s gang but constantly finds himself out of his depth. Especially as he’s also trying to make his way through highschool unscathed and get noticed by school hottie, Liz (Laura Harrier). As well as being influenced by the MCU in general, director Jon Watts clearly takes a lot from the coming-of-age films of people like John Hughes. There are countless on-screen references to high-school comedies and there is one particular Ferris Bueller joke that is totally on point. This is a Peter Parker who really is living in two worlds and trying to balance the two. He is an awkward but intelligent young man who worries about girls and grades just as much as he worries about stopping bad guys.
Despite only being on screen for a few minutes in Civil War, Tom Holland had already made a massive impressive on fans of the MCU before Homecoming came along thanks to his portrayal of Peter Parker. It is the best on screen version of the teenager that we’ve ever seen. Holland’s Parker feels the most realistically young version that we’ve ever seen and has been updated for 2017 teenagers. He is techno-savvy but awkward in a way that doesn’t come across as annoying. He reacts to getting superpowers the way that most of us would have done at that age. We can all empathise with his fanboy reaction to the likes of Tony Stark. He gets caught up in the bigger picture and tries to run before he can walk but it is done with the best intentions. The character definitely has that Marvel sense of development that was lacking in both Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s turns. Holland finally gives us the Peter we deserve.
That is not to say that I agree with the people happily declaring that Homecoming is the best superhero movie of the year. I really enjoyed the film and did so as soon as I heard the arrangement of the ‘Spider-Man theme song’ playing over the film’s opening sequence. It is a light-hearted and fun affair that captures the spirit of the character. However, I confess that I felt there was a bit of a disparity between it’s two identities. I realise that the film wanted to situate itself within the MCU whilst also ensuring that this was a Spider-Man film in it’s own right. However, it just feels a bit too confused. It just doesn’t feel enough like either. We have the standard MCU final showdown that is kind of underwhelming in the grand scheme of things but then we also have the teen movie moments like high school parties. Individually these things are fine but they just seemed a bit too at odds for me. I’d have preferred one or the other. I think future Spider-Man films with Holland have the potential to be superb if he can remove himself from the Avengers. This film seemed more about taking the character and showing us that he was firmly part of the family instead of giving him a solo outing.
Still, this isn’t something that really hindered my overall enjoyment of the film. There is plenty to love about the film and, despite my annoyance, it’s always nice to see more RBJ and Jon Favreau on screen. Of course, the greatest strength, after Holland, is clearly Michael Keaton’s Vulture. The Vulture isn’t the biggest or baddest villain that we’ve ever seen in the MCU but he is perfect. Keaton plays him so well and he feels like a realistic result of the increased super-activity in the MCU. There is a scene towards the end of the film where the Vulture and Peter Parker come face-to-face for the first time and the whole scene is perfect. Keaton doesn’t overplay the character but still manages to be chilling and terrifying. Spider-Man: Homecoming has some mistakes, that can’t be ignored, but it’s been 13 years since we last had a film about the character to get really excited about. I see a great deal of potential with this incarnation.
So my week off work is over and I was back at work yesterday. It’s safe to say I ached everywhere when I got home yesterday and couldn’t face anything. Which, actually, also sums up my week off. Having planned to get some shit done in terms of reading, I actually didn’t get much done. I carried on in my attempt to reread Harry Potter but that was the extent. Turns out, after weeks of not getting enough sleep, your body reacts to a holiday by sleeping a lot. I’m not complaining I just wish I’d done more. Still, I managed to see some friends and do some fun stuff. So I shouldn’t really complain.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
- The 7th Fucntion of Language by Laurent Binet
- The Answers by Catherine Lacey
- Netflix Binges: Dr Who, Various Marvel Films
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes