Tag Archives: Spider-Man

Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man Homecoming

Aren’t we all sick to death of the Spider-Man origin story? You don’t need to be a comic book buff to know about the spider bite, Uncle Ben, and web-slinging. So when it was announced that the Spider-Man tale was going to be rebooted for the big screen yet again – for the third try in the past 15 years – I wouldn’t blame you if you audibly groaned. Of course, this time it was supposed to be different, because Spider-Man is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Still don’t really understand what that means, despite having seen about a dozen of the MCU films? Join the club.) But is Spider-Man: Homecoming really a significant departure from the past iterations of the story that are so fresh in our minds? Well, yes and no.

Mercifully, director Jon Watts (Cop Car) spares us the bulk of the origin story, instead joining Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in progress as Spidey. After getting a taste of the superhero life with the work he did in Captain America: Civil War, we now see him honing his skills. Itching to don the superhero suit at any opportunity and bumbling his way through stopping small-time crime, Peter is really just waiting for Tony Stark and the rest of the Avengers to call him up for the next mission. At the same time, being just 15 years old, Peter still has to navigate high school, which to him now seems like a total snooze in comparison. However, it’s not all bad, since he has best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon) and crush Liz (Laura Harrier) to help occupy his time.

This sets the scene for Spider-Man: Homecoming, and I was actually pleasantly surprised to see how much of the film focuses on the process of Peter coming into his own, both as a superhero and as a teenager. Nowhere to be found is the flashy, perfect badassery of the Avengers crew. Instead, Peter fumbles and gets in over his head, sometimes inadvertently causing more trouble than he prevents. He’s obviously got a lot of heart and skill, but he’s still finding his footing, and Spider-Man: Homecoming works best when it navigates that uncomfortable in-between phase – even down to the touch of showing the awkward process of trying to change from street clothes to a full-blown superhero costume in public. Superhero movies often struggle with humanizing their heroes without either making them seem weak or going the satirical route, a la something like Deadpool. Here, by contrast, I felt more invested in the character because he actually seemed fallible, and we get to see so many of his less glamorous moments.

This added dose of humanity also comes partly thanks to Holland, who balances the many character demands of Peter Parker. Charming and quick-witted, Holland can also bring a vulnerability that is refreshing to see in the MCU. This is underscored during a particular moment during the film’s climax, which (without heading into spoiler territory) finds Peter at an extreme low point. Holland plays the moment perfectly, as well as true to Peter’s age, and I also applaud Marvel for showing their protagonist react in an unexpected way that we haven’t necessarily seen in an MCU film before.

Despite these strengths, the film has its weaknesses, especially when wading into its big action set pieces. The action is just lacking the flow or even the comprehensibility seen in many other films of its ilk. For example, there is a sequence that takes place on the Staten Island Ferry that should have come across as inventive and exciting, but instead it becomes overly complicated trying to figure out the geography of where certain characters are. With some exceptions, many of the film’s big “action” moments lose their punch thanks to sub-par direction. This is perhaps the most compelling argument as to why Marvel should have invested in a director with more of a resume.

Fortunately, I guess, the film doesn’t overly rely on action to tell its story, and it has other strong aspects working in its favour, including the fact that they scored Michael Keaton to play a villain who actually has some substance. As well, the film’s humour and slightly shaggier feel make it feel like both a breath of fresh air, and like a film that could easily appeal to younger audiences in addition to the adult fanboys who have been breathlessly following the MCU from the start.

Those looking for a film to reinvent the superhero wheel won’t find it in Spider-Man: Homecoming, as it does for the most part tow the Marvel line. But by featuring such a youthful protagonist and focussing more on his struggles than his victories, this is a film with more heart than many of us have come to expect from the subgenre. While feeling oddly slight in some ways, Spider-Man homecoming is still a middle-of-the-pack entry in the MCU and makes for pleasant summer viewing at the multiplex.

Reeve Carney Cast in Second Buckley Biopic

Remember when I said that Reeve Carney should play Jeff Buckley in a biopic? Probably not. But I did actually suggest that casting choice a couple of months ago when Penn Badgley was cast as the late singer in the upcoming film Greetings from Tim Buckley. And today, The Playlist reported that Carney will in fact be portraying Buckley in the second of two competing biopics.

Now, I’m certainly not the first or only person to notice the comparison between Carney and Buckley, so I can’t brag (though I’m going to try anyways). But while I’m not sure if we need one Buckley biopic let alone two, I think Carney is a great choice, at least visually. And since he’s currently toiling away in the ill-fated Spider-Man musical, we know Carney can sing. The only question that remains is whether he’ll have the screen presence to carry an entire film.

While Greetings from Tim Buckley will cover a very short period in Jeff Buckley’s life (the 1991 tribute concert for his late father, Tim), this second, currently untitled project has much broader source material. The Carney vehicle will be adapted from David Browne’s biography Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley, and it will reportedly cover the period between Jeff’s rise to fame and his eventual death in 1997.

The duelling biopics seem to each have their pros and cons. While I think the untitled one has the more fitting star, Greetings from Tim Buckley (which is set to go into production later this month) may have the advantage with a more compact storyline. Neither film has an especially well-known director, but neither is a newbie. Greetings From Tim Buckley will be helmed by Daniel Algrant, whose last feature was 2003’s People I Know, with Al Pachino and Tea Leoni (which is apparently a film that existed). Meanwhile, the Carney-led biopic will be directed by Jake Scott, who brought us last year’s Welcome to the Rileys.

However, this second biopic may have a slight advantage, since Scott will presumably have Buckley’s original music to work with. Greeting from Tim Buckley is set a few years before the release of Jeff Buckley’s first (and only) album, Grace, and that project does not have the rights to Jeff’s music. But this second project will probably see Carney’s taking on tracks from that album. This puts more pressure on Carney, but it also gives him the opportunity to wow with his renditions of some of Buckley’s best-known songs.

I’m still slightly suspicious that both projects will come to fruition, but if so, it should be interesting to see how each one portrays Buckley.

Carney has been all over television promoting Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, so you probably know what his singing voice sound like, but if not, you can check this clip from the musical’s soundtrack to see that he’s very a capable singer. Oh, and if you’d like to see some of my other casting suggestions for musical biopics, I’ll direct you to an older list of suggestions that I made.

Is Young Talent Being Wasted on Superhero Movies?


I like a good superhero movie as much as the next person. I really liked the first two Spider-Man and X-Men movies, and The Dark Knight even found its way into my top 10 movies of the decade list. But I feel like we’re getting a huge overkill of suited-up action capers. Now we’re even getting superhero franchise reboots within five years of each other, and a lot of Hollywood’s most promising young stars are suiting up.

The cast of X-Men: First Class is coming together nicely. James McAvoy (Wanted, Atonement) is playing a young Professor Xavier, while Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Inglourious Basterds) will play his nemesis, Magneto. And just today, it was announced that Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man, About a Boy) will be taking on the role of Beast, while Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass) is rumoured to be playing a young Cyclops. As much as I like all four actors, I feel like the X-Men movie franchise wore out its welcome a while ago. X-Men: The Last Stand (if only it had lived up to its title) was borderline awful, and last year’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine felt totally unnecessary.

The same goes for news of the Spider-Man reboot, which will star Andrew Garfield (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus). As well, Chris Evans (who is no stranger to superhero movies) will be taking on Captain America, with An Education‘s Dominic Cooper joining the supporting cast.

But I suppose most actors try the mainstream at some point in their career, if they can. Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt, an actor known for his decidedly smaller film choices, is making his way to IMAX screens with his work in Inception, and his upcoming roles in thrillers Premium Rush and Looper.

To be clear, I don’t blame any young actor for taking a role in a big-budget movie. The goal is to get your name out there and increase your paycheck, and starring in films like Boy A and Rory O’Shea Was Here for the rest of your life is hardly the best way to accomplish that. But as I see more and more of my favourite young actors sign on to these superhero romps, I can’t help but feel slightly disheartened. As great of an opportunity as a big role in a summer blockbuster can be, I feel like a lot of these actors were already on the rise. And maybe I just take my movies to seriously, but I’d much rather see talented actors in roles that push them and evoke emotion from me. Even when I see Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, which is undeniably fun, I kind of just wish that I was watching him in a different movie, instead. It’s not so much that I’m blaming the actors for taking the roles (because, really, who could resist?), it’s more that I’m getting sick of superhero/comic book adaptations.

**(Side Note: Now that I think about it, perhaps the parade of highly-coifed photos at the top of this post, while quite enjoyable, doesn’t really fit with my plea to respect acting skill over marketability… But that doesn’t mean I’m going to ditch the eye candy any time soon.)

Too Much Andrew Garfield? Never.

Well, this is my second Andrew Garfield-related post in less than 24 hours, but I feel obligated to share a couple of photos of Garfield from the Spider-Man casting announcement yesterday (more can be found over at /Film). The press conference took place in Cancun, and apparently Garfield had only been informed of the casting decision thirty minutes before being trotted out to pose for reporters. Also, check out video here of the casting announcement. The highlight is easily a stunned Garfield rehearsing a jovial “Hey, guys. How’s it going?” over and over.

All this attention for Garfield is a bit strange (and I can only imagine how HE feels), but certainly exciting (even if it’s mostly people going “Who’s that?”), and the more I see about the casting, the more interested I am about it.

Andrew Garfield to Play Spider-Man

Casting rumours for the Spider-Man reboot have been swirling for what feels like forever. We’ve heard Logan Lerman, Jamie Bell, and (just yesterday) Josh Hutcherson tentatively tied to the Peter Parker role. Aaron Johnson, Anton Yelchin, and Frank Dillane have also been mentioned frequently in discussion. But one of the other potential Spideys, Andrew Garfield, has officially been hired. /Film, Hollywood News and IMDB all say that it’s a done deal, so I guess we’ll have to assume that the casting saga has finally come to an end. The Spider-Man reboot will be helmed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer), and the film is set to hit screens in 3D in July of 2012.

Now for the editorial portion.

I don’t know how I feel about this. I take every opportunity possible to sing the praises of Andrew Garfield. He was amazing in Boy A, understatedly wonderful as a robot in Spike Jonze’s short, I’m Here, and so charming opposite Heath Ledger in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He’ll also be appearing in two highly-anticipated films later this year –Never Let Me Go and David Fincher’s The Social Network. Part of me is excited that one of my favourite actors is getting this kind of attention (it’s cool to see him on the front page of IMDB). But the other part of me doesn’t really need to see a new Spider-Man franchise, and would kind of like Andrew Garfield to keep making smaller, more challenging films. I guess a lot of people want to keep their favourite little-known actors and bands a secret, as contradictory and ridiculous as it all seems.

And isn’t this reboot supposed to be following Peter Parker through high school? Garfield turns 27 this August. I kind of would’ve preferred Logan Lerman or Aaron Johnson in the role based on age alone, but I’m sure Garfield will bring all of his charm, wit, and acting chops to even the most high-profile roles Hollywood has to offer.