Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (Mini-Movie Review–No Spoilers)

Spider-Man (Miles Morales) Movie Poster with him swinging in his iconic black and red Spider costume across Brooklyn New York.
Image Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4633694/

Wow! Just wow! So I told a GTA collegue who works in the Writing Center on Friday that I was trying to expand my Film knowledge by watching films that were outside of my normal Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Superhero genres and that I was going to try to find a nice, innocuous Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) to watch–I actually had one in mind–the one with Sandra Bullock & Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal–sorry, had to Google the name) which I’ve watched some, but not all before. However, I forgot that Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (Spiderverse) released this weekend on Netflix, so I watched that instead (sorry for the unintentional lie there!). This movie is SO good.

Maybe My New Favorite Spider-Man Movie?

So, it is liable to be a while before I get to see the latest Spider-Man movie (Spider-Man Far From Home), but so far, I have to say that I think Spiderverse is my new favorite Spider-Man movie. There was a level of spark, creativity, and pluckiness to the new movie that won me over quite a bit. I really liked the way that Miles Morales was portrayed in the movie as a character first and as a character of color secondly. The writers manage to capture the angst of not fitting in the school setting for me in a way that (mostly) eliminated the things that I dislike about the school setting (which are the cringe-worthy awkwardness that usually happens there–although there were two “cringy” scenes still). Like Spider-Man 2, Spiderverse is a reflection on how to be a hero in everyday life. Spider-Man stories are best when one gets a sense that no matter what life throws at our main hero, he’s going to find a way to rise just a little higher to meet the challenge, even if it looks like he’s broken and down for the count.

This Movie is a Love-Letter to Spider-Man Fans!

Seriously, if you have any interest at all in the Spider-Man mythos, lore, and Rogues Gallery of the character’s various incarnations over the years, then this movie is a definite treat! There are little nods and references to all things Spidey all over the place. I saw “toy” Spider-Man motorcycle in the movie (I had the “Spidey-copter” and I need to go back and see if that was referenced — it would blow my mind if it was) and that’s just the beginning. I won’t go into spoilers, but just know that other versions of Spidey’s iconic self and suits do make an appearance in the movie. They even reference some of the classic scenes from the previous Sony movies at the beginning to help set the scene (in a fun way that is almost a referential self-parody). This movie is, while not quite perfect, is still one of the best representations of the Spider-Man mythos that I’ve seen in (and I’ve seen a lot of them starting with Spider-Man from the Electric Company TV series from the 1970s all the way through present). If there has been a representation of Spidey in the past 40 years or so, then I’ve probably seen it (or heard about it) somewhere and this one is fantastic!

Overall Grade: A+

If I was giving it a score, it would easily earn a 97-98 as I feel that it hits pretty much that I want in a Spider-man movie while minimizing the usual crap-tacular school awkwardness that is inherent in the adolescence version of the character. There are a couple of “cringe-inducing” moments still (having to relate to the school — again, without spoiling it, Miles’ early interactions with Gwen, while funny, do still exhibit that cringyness that I don’t enjoy–but it was so brief and so well done that it really didn’t hamper the movie or my enjoyment of the overall movie significantly, which is the reason for such a high rating. If you have Netflix (or even if you don’t but like the character), I would HIGHLY recommend checking this one out. Spiderverse is something special!

Sidney

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Mini-Review: Spider-man Homecoming (No Spoilers)

spider man homecoming movie poster_imdb
Movie Poster for Spider-man Homecoming, Image Source: IMDb

Over the Thanksgiving Break, my family and I watched Spider-man Homecoming (SMH) and we liked it.  It wasn’t our favorite Marvel movie, but it was still fun and exciting.  I thought I’d do a Mini-Review for the blog based on my love of comic book movies, Marvel movies, and Spider-man movies.  This one was very good–not the best–but still very good.

Action AND Humor
One thing that SPH really gets right is the action sequences as well as the humor of the character.  One of the crucial things that filmmakers don’t really get about the character is that Peter Parker is a “sincere” human being having to react to some of the scummiest situations (both in terms of everyday life and over-the-top villainy) that are out there.  His defense mechanism is his ability to turn every situation into a joke or a wise-crack.  Yes, as Spider-man, Peter is insanely powerful and gifted, but it is the humor that helps him deflect much of the trials and tribulations that he goes through.  While not nearly as funny as say, Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s still a bit of that irrepressible mixture of deft humor along with very strong action scenes that help to sell the movie and Tom Holland’s performance of the character.  As much as I disliked the high school stuff (see below), I think that Tom Holland’s performance of Peter Parker might be my favorite so far (I’ll have to reflect more on that as the year ends and I see it more times to be sure).

Straight Outta’ High School
So why isn’t this my favorite of all the Spider-man movies?  In two words: high school.  The filmmakers decided to “reset” Peter as it were, and placed a significant portion of it in Peter’s high school life/activities.  Now, don’t get me wrong, this is where quite a bit of both the tension and the humor comes in, but I’m just not one who really likes (for the most part), high school narratives in movies.  In this case, while well done, these were (again, for the most part) some of the least interesting parts of the movie.  Yes, they were well acted and all the rest, but having collected Spider-man comics during my high school and early college years (freshman & sophomore years), I really think that the true strength of the Peter Parker narrative comes from his struggle to support himself as a young photographer at the Daily Bugle with J. Jonah Jameson.  Yes, I know Peter originally started in high school, but I personally don’t feel that the stories came into their own until his college/work years, and this perception colored my feelings towards the movie.  I liked it, but I would have liked it even more had the filmmakers chosen to “age-up” Peter’s character (as I assume they will in future movies).

Marvel Movie Genres (This would be the YA Movie)
The Marvel movies have been good with mixing different genres into the standard comic book movie formula (well, with the exception of “horror” movies which they don’t seem to want to do even when it is the most appropriate genre–Age of Ultron).  However, this one would be the YA movie, if that’s the case.  Much like movies like The Hunger GamesThe Spiderwick Chronicles, etc., the reliance on such a young cast and the focus on quite a bit of high school drama/activities makes this feel more in line with a YA movie than it does with a typical Marvel movie–not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but something to be aware of.  I should note, however, that the performances by the cast, both younger members and older members, were excellent and well done.  I look forward to their next outing whenever Marvel and Sony team-up again to produce another one.  My only hope is that we move past the high school setting into college and work-life and that they can make that as compelling in the movies as it was in the comics.

Overall Grade: B (Solid performances, action, and humor, dragged down by an over-reliance on high school drama and a bit (not too much, but a definitely bit) of teen angst/drama).

Implications for my Writing: I have to understand that I don’t really like certain genres/things: the “heist” movie, “crime” movies, and apparently “high school” movies.  If I don’t like them, it’s probably not a good idea for me to try to write them in that I probably won’t be able to create a story that is credible and true to the genre because I can’t see past the “flaws” of the genre to do it justice.  There are probably genres that I won’t be successful writing, and the “high school drama” might be one of those genres.

Sidney




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Potpourri

Just a little bit of everything (don’t worry–it’ll be bite-sized)

AMC 18 Chattanooga: Not happy.  They add a 6:15pm Imax 3D showing Spider-Man: Homecoming, but that’s all.  They seemed determined to squeeze every dollar they can out of the movie-goer in the name of profits as 6:15 is not a matinee and they don’t have to charge matinee prices, but the full Prime cost.  Looks like I’m not going to see Homecoming, after all.  AMC 18 Chattanooga may have just lost a customer as I refuse to give them anymore money just because they are a monopoly (only Imax 3D theater for popular movies in the city).  Competition (i.e., other Imax 3D theaters in the area) wouldn’t allow them to pull this type of stunt as customers would just go elsewhere.

*Note to all politicians (current and future): THIS is why monopolies are bad.  Capitalism ONLY works when there’s CHOICE in the marketplace.

174 Days and Counting: That’s how long a story of mine has been under consideration with a particular market that I’ve not submitted to before.  I personally consider 90 days to be my limit, but I recently saw where this particular market had responded to someone else’s submission in about the same time-frame (although it was an outlier), so I waited, but that has passed and still no response.  Queried them about it today.  If no response by August 1st (perhaps sooner), I’m withdrawing and moving on to the next market.  Personal comment (it is a short-story, not a novel.  It shouldn’t take half a year to make a decision on it).

The Heart of What Was Lost: Close to finishing this book. Not sure if I’m going to review it yet.  If I do, I’ll post it here or at Goodreads.com (or both).

 

Not Happy with AMC at the Moment

imax_rentalcarmomma
Image Source: Rental Car Momma

So, this blog catches me on “travel” day, so it will be a bit shorter than normal.  Right now, I’m not to pleased with the local AMC Imax theater in my area.  Blog readers will know that I did a post earlier this summer that talks about AMC buying out my local Carmike theater, raising prices, and eliminating size options at the concession stand.

This last night, while looking at the movie showtimes for Spider-Man Homecoming (SP:H), I discovered that the AMC 18 (in my area) is NOT offering Imax 3D showings for Matinee times.  Starting today, through the rest of the week, you can only see SP:H at the 7:15pm and 10:15pm showings.  If you want to see the movie during a matinee showing, you only have the option (at my local AMC 18 theater) to see it either in Real 3D or Imax 2D.

What are they thinking?  While this seems like a local management move (probably to improve revenue as theaters generally charge more for evening showings) rather than a corporate move, this is still a move that handcuffs those of us who are not interested in seeing the movie during the evening by limiting us to less than optimal showings of the movie.  Real 3D tends to be much darker than the brighter Imax and while 3D is sometimes not worth the extra money, for a special effects driven movie like Spider-Man, this time I feel 3D will be worth extra money, but thanks again to short-sided choices, that is something that is out of my hands.

I do have options, however.  Thanks to a comment from a reader on the blog (thanks libraryladydella!), I do know of a cheaper alternative that I will investigate later this summer.  For now, I’ve decided to probably try the Majestic (formerly, the Bijou).

The Majestic does seem to have SP:H in Imax 3D during matinee times, so this looks like the best option for right now.  The irony is I stopped going there some years ago because they didn’t hold a movie in theaters long enough (Peter Jackson’s King Kong), while the Carmike theater (the one bought out by AMC) did have it and had a better projection system.  It looks like with SP:H, I’ll be returning to see what the Majestic’s renovated theater looks like.

The local AMC theater in my area should be very worried as there is a chance they are going to lose me as a customer thanks to a incredibly poor choice of Imax 3D showtimes for such a high profile movie.

UPDATE: Looks like I was wrong about the Majestic theater having a Imax 3D screen.  I seems that they do not; it looks like the only Imax 3D screen (outside of the Chattanooga Aquarium’s screen) in the local area is AMC East Ridge 18.  So it looks like my only choice this weekend is: Imax 3D at 7:15pm and 10:15pm or Imax 2D at 4:15pm.  Grrr.  As it stands now, it looks like at the moment I won’t get to see Spider-Man: Homecoming this weekend.  Now I’m really not happy with AMC.

Time to catch up on the Tour De France, do some yard work, and start reading for my summer class that starts on Tuesday.

Bleh, some companies, in pursuit of the all-mighty dollar–really know how to take all the fun out of summer.

Ranking the Spider-Man Movies (now updated with Spider-Man Homecoming)

Spider_Man_SuperheroWikia
Image Source: Superhero Wikia (Art by John Romita)

I think I may have mentioned it on the blog before, but in case I haven’t, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero.  I really gravitated towards him in high school and his athletic abilities and biting (no pun intended) humor really won me over as a character.  I’ve seen several sites ranking the Spider-Man movies, so I thought I’d get in on the act myself.  Following is a list of the current Spider-Man movies so far that I’ve ranked in order of my own personal preference as to the best (& worst) of the Spider-Man universe (regardless of studio, be it Sony or the MCU).  I’ll be updating this post both when I see Spider-Man: Homecoming and when other movies are released with Spider-Man as the primary character.  As with my Marvel post, I’m going to try to keep things spoiler-free, but (as always) I can’t guarantee that things that I mention won’t spoil things for knowledgeable Spider-Man fans.

Spider-Man_2_Poster_Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia

Spider-Man 2

This is by far my favorite Spider-Man film.  This film had everything that I wanted in a Spider-Man film: the idea of personal responsibility, the idea of with great power comes great responsibility, great special effects, great villain, great internal character conflict, great external conflict and an ending that gets it (mostly) right.  There are some things that this movie gets wrong, but is as accurate a depiction of Spider-Man as a character and as a comic (so far) that I’ve seen as a movie.  Things were changed and manipulated in Spider-Man 2 that is different from the comic, but I can see the reasons for each change.  To me, this stands as the (current) definitive Spider-Man movie.

Spider-Man2002Poster_Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia

Spider-Man 

Okay, so I like this one, but not nearly as much as its sequel.  I think my enjoyment for this one was muted because it is an “origin” story and I know Spider-Man’s origin like the back of my hand at this point.  Seeing the character evolve (especially when you already know the story) isn’t nearly as impactful as seeing an original adventure featuring the character and I think that’s what hurts this one the most.  Also, the changes the filmmakers made didn’t seem to be needed (unlike the sequel), so I didn’t really feel that the Spider-Man that I knew from the comics and games was presented on-screen faithfully.

 

spider man homecoming movie poster_imdb

Spider-man Homecoming

After seeing Spider-man Homecoming, I have to say that while I liked it, I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped.  Much of that is due to the fact that they regressed the character and made him a typical “high school” student. That wasn’t bad in itself, but I have to confess, I’m not much of a “high school drama” type of person and fully half of the movie revolved around Peter’s interaction with his high school friends and environs.  I think the action and the humor was spot on, but the emphasis on high school (Homecoming actually refers to the “homecoming” dance, BTW) really diluted some of the enjoyment of the movie for me.  Still, I liked the acting and the script (sans high school stuff), so I think that I’m most definitely on-board for a new Spider-man movie, especially if they move out of (or minimize) the high school elements.

 

The_Amazing_Spiderman_2_poster_Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia

Amazing Spider-Man 2

Okay, this one is one that the critics and I disagree on.  Critics hated this movie.  I think it is okay.  Not great, not horrible, but in the middle.  I liked the fact that they tried to incorporate the “Gwen Stacey” storyline and that they had the guts to try to replicate it on-screen, even if it didn’t hit/work just right.  I also like that Peter and Gwen were young adults, not high-schoolers and that eliminated one of my dislikes of the first Amazing Spider-Man movie, teen angst (see below).  Too many villains and too much “convenience” really hampered the story and brought it down in my opinion.

The_Amazing_Spider-Man_theatrical_poster_Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia

Amazing Spider-Man

In a word (or two), teen angst.  This is what kept me from seeing it in the theaters and why (along with a modified retelling of the origin story) kept me from seeing it until much later when I was able to rent it cheaply.  For me, I made the right choice. It wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be, mostly because of the actors’ performances, but Spider-Man/Peter Parker is better when he is put in the young adult role, not in the teenage role.  Yes, I know he started/was bitten as a teenager, but the stories that helped grow the character and push him into mainstream consciousness are not his teenage years, but his young adult ones (as a photographer for the Daily Bugle, trying to make rent, trying to hold up his relationships with family and friends, while at the same time trying to be Spider-Man and live up to “Great Responsibility” creed).

Spider-Man_3,_International_Poster_Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia

Spider-Man 3

Easily the worst of the Spider-Man movies.  This is a prime example of filmmakers not trusting their source material and cherry-picking it for what they want without understanding why it works.  Venom should have been awesome in this movie.  The whole Peter/Mary Jane marriage sub-plot should have worked, the antagonist/ally sub-plot should have worked, but no one tried to understand the storylines from the comics.  Venom works, not because he is a psychopath, but because the symbiote  loves and hates Peter Parker.  It doesn’t want to turn Peter into a “dancing fool” as the movie portrays, but it wants to join with Peter.  When he rejects it, it hates him and wants to kill Peter and it knows everything about Peter Parker–it knows just what will affect him physically and psychologically–and it can disguise itself and be anyone at anytime.  Now throw in Peter wanting to marry Mary Jane and there is the plot that the movie should have followed.  Again, an almost horror take on the superhero genre similar to where Avengers: Age of Ultron should have gone.  How can Peter protect himself and his future wife (i.e., when the movie opened she should have been his fiancé) from a psychopathic killer out for his blood when he can’t even tell where and when that killer is going to strike?  I have the original Venom storyline and I know how that character can be used in stories based on the original writer’s (David Michelinie) interpretation and the original artist’s (Todd McFarlane) illustrations.  What audiences got instead was a watered-down (way down) version of this story without very elements that evoke menace in the character/story.  I could go on, but you get the picture–this one is bad, both because it is bad and because of so many missed opportunities.

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