Over the Thanksgiving Break, my family and I watch 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 the YA movie, if that’s the case. Much like movies like The Hunger Games, The 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.