All original written content is (c) 2017 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: America’s favorite web-head gets his fourth reboot with the youngest version yet. Fifteen-year-old Peter Parker (Tom Holland), fresh from the CIVIL WAR action, longs for another mission from “mentor” Tony Stark (Iron Man) while going through the normal tribulations and trials of a high-school nerd. When the Vulture and crew steal Avengers tech and commit crimes, Pete’s and his alter-ego’s life gets a lot more complicated—and deadly. He’s got to prove himself to Tony and himself first.
Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers; screen story by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley. Directed by Tom Watts.
- Nailed the character! Holland is the perfect teen hero. Hyper, eager-to-please, wisecracking, vulnerable, grounded, pure-hearted and just plain fun. Acts just how a teen would with superpowers, but also around other students, including geeky pals, rich jerks and hot girls. Truly “Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man,” which is a welcome change from the last two versions. Perfect casting and performance.
- Other casting: Michael Keaton as the Vulture. Starts out as a regular guy who gets screwed by the government and the “one-percenters” and corrupted to do right by his family. Jacob Batalon as Peter’s fubsy Filipino pal Ned (Leeds), great mix of tech geek, dorky teen and loyal pal. Marisa Tomei, while not sticking to the comic-correct canon of ancient Aunt May, looks hotter than ever. (Although she looks almost anorexic in some shots, she still has some shape, helped by some hot pants and form-fitting blouses. MILF alert!)
- Of course, the welcome returns of IRON MAN director Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan and Robert Downey Jr. as Shell-head himself (not to mention Chris Evans’s Cap in a series of videos) add a great dose of comedy and continuity.
- Speaking of continuity, there are a lot of references and gags from/to other Marvel films. Keep yer eyes and ears peeled for minor and major mentions—including a quick shot of Spidey with Old Glory waving behind him!
- Special FX were up to the usual Marvel standard. Despite still a few goofy-looking shots of a “jumping rubber Spidey” like the original Raimi film from 15 years ago, most of Spidey’s moves looked better and more realistic. Alien and Avengers tech fit in with all the other Marvel masterpieces. Great job on the suit, too. Though I don’t like the no-reason design changes on the sleeves and boots, the mask is perfect and looks like it came right out of the comics. (MIKE: Even Steve Ditko’s “web-wings” show up.)
- The usual Stan Lee cameo is fun. He’s got a couple lines so you won’t miss it unless you’re focusing too much on your popcorn—but beware, it comes earlier than ever.
- Great story overall. Script by three different script couples for a total of six dudes, which is usually a recipe for crap. But here they really added a ton that worked. A bunch of ups and downs and a couple twists and turns, all adding up to a full evolution of both Spider-Man and Parker.
- Comedy abounds! Different than that in GUARDIANS and ANT-MAN, but still full of chortle-till-ya-spit moments.
- This version also has the mechanical web-shooters, which means they can run low and malfunction, though this one handles it in different ways. I know some prefer Sam Raimi’s “organic” shooters, but I am told by geek Pascale that this is the version used in the original Ditko comics. (Also makes more dramatic sense as it creates more opportunities for screw-ups.)
- FROM MIKE: For fans of “classic” Spidey (especially the Silver Age version), there’s a large mix: some re-imagined versions of original characters (the aforementioned Ned, plus Liz Allen, Flash Thompson, Betty Brant and several old villains). And the first film representation of one of the most seminal moments in Spidey and Marvel history: the historic two-page sequence from Ditko and Lee’s masterpiece, “If This Be My Destiny” in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #33. Lastly, a proper “thank you” and credit to web-head’s creators Stan and Steve, Cap’s Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, and Spidey greats like John Romita and more in the end credits.
- Credits? Oh yeah! A preview of (probably) the next villain after the main credits, and then a hilarious in-joke about waiting for end credit gags at the very end. (Anyone who stayed laughed out loud.)
- The high-tech suit. For a good part of the film, it’s like a cloth version of Iron Man. (The Vulture’s is bad-Iron-Man-with-wings.) That’s too much. The brilliance of Spidey is that he doesn’t need all the gadgets other than his web-shooters!
- PC tampering and character-mixing as expected. By this time you expect characters to be “diverse” (especially in New York) but the choices seem odd for Liz’s parents (forced for the plot) and Flash Thompson—the big blond bully/jock in the comics is an average skinny Indian rich kid on the academic competition team (and it doesn’t work). He embarrasses Parker a couple times but comes off more sad than threatening. (Plus, Liz is taller than both Flash and Peter!) Plus, when you try to include everyone, you please no one. The only black men are criminals. (One of the high school kids is an African boy but that’s it.) And there are no gingers, Native Americans, east Asians, eastern Europeans, etc.
- The weird “twist” for MJ makes no sense at all—like the writers never read any of her comic appearances at all. (It ain’t a racial thing—the actress playing Liz could’ve made a perfect MJ. This one bears no resemblance from a figure, attitude or personality standpoint). Dumb! Just make new characters.
- MIKE: Some of the icons of Spider-Man history, J. Jonah Jameson and the entire Daily Bugle, the memory of Uncle Ben, and the classic line “With great power there must also come–great responsibility” are completely missing. You could argue that this takes place before the Bugle days, but that doesn’t explain leaving out the greatest quote in Marvel history—especially since there was a perfect opportunity for it, as Iron Man is basically explaining the same thing to him.
- Suspension Of Disbelief Dept.: relatively minor. The Web-Slinger is speed-crawling up the side of a gigantic structure to prevent a catastrophe when he could’ve just used his webs as rubber bands to propel himself like he does in other parts of the flick. And wouldn’t a glowing alien explosive set off a security scanner in a public building?
- Adding so many classic villains at once and having them as little more than petty heisters was disappointing. None of them really seem like they could carry a film or be a major threat.
- Nice orchestration of the Spidey theme at the opening—but nothing more. Missed opportunity for a classic tune.
- I don’t remember Parker being 15 in the comics. Seems too young here, even though it works.
- The climactic battle and disaster is edited at such a rapid pace, with so many quick cuts and super-fast movements that it’s often tough to tell what’s happening to whom and why it matters. It doesn’t add to dramatic tension if you cannot see exactly what peril the character is in—confusion takes away from viewer involvement—and enjoyment.
- This one’s over two hours and definitely feels it. Thankfully the pace is decent, but you’ll still realize it’s a long one. Pee before you sit.
Bravo to the powers that be to avoid rehashing the origin and such that was already done to perfection in Raimi’s classic—it’s almost a nod of respect to Sam that this one stayed away from much of the events and characters of his, which makes this one better. The amount of laughs and fun here is higher than most, even for Marvel movies. This is flat-out the best movie of the year so far, and easily ends up in many fans’ top five Marvel/superhero films of all time. I can imagine this becoming many fans’ favorite just like the original 2002 version did for a previous generation. If you’re a fan, you’ll want a copy of it to see what you missed while laughing, and of course all the “how-they-did-its” and background extras. But see it on the biggest screen possible first!
P.S.: Your Friendly Neighborhood Artist, the dude who draws me, has done a number of nice Spidey commissions over the years. Here’s your chance to grab one at a discount! In honor of Peter’s age, mention this review for a 15% discount on any commission from good old Mike Pascale! Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by Bru-Hed are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, millennials, racially diverse high schools, mature MILFs, petty criminals, web-slingers, tech billionaires, radioactive or other arachnids, or Silver-Age greats. Bru would love being Spidey, but would prefer beer-shooters instead of webs. They wouldn’t help him fight crime better, but he sure would enjoy it more!