Balanced Web-Spinner – Spider-Man: Far From Home

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Following up the successful first collaboration between Columbia/Sony and Marvel (Spider-Man: Homecoming), the cosmic hugeness of Avengers: Endgame  and the culmination of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe always promised to be a tricky task, but returning director Jon Watts and returning scriptwriters Chris McKenna & Eric Sommers have managed a pretty balanced movie that nicely answers all those demands.

Set eight months after half of humanity was restored to existence in Avengers: Endgame (now referred to as The Blip), the film wastes no time showing us some of the ramifications of this but also throws us headlong into a plot which, by necessity, has to stretch out more broadly than Homecoming’s friendly neighbourhood feel.

Terrifying giant creatures, Elementals, have seemingly crossed over into our world from another reality and, while attempting to enjoy a summer class vacation through Europe and engage with a blossoming relationship with MJ, Peter Parker is pulled into battling these monsters by a heroic newcomer, soon named Mysterio.

With Tony Stark no longer around, Mysterio becomes a mentor figure to Peter, but all is not quite as it first appears and events soon spiral out of our young hero’s control – both in and out of his webby mask.

Jake Gyllenhall’s Quentin Beck (a.k.a. Mysterio) works well against Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, in an arc which nicely defines Peter coming to terms with loss, while underlining his constant struggles with responsibility from a fresh angle. And while the resolution of this arc might be one of the film’s weaker moments, there is still a great deal to savour.

In terms of character development, the high-point of the film is undoubtedly Peter and MJ’s romance. Zendaya’s MJ is a real treat; snarky, goofy and vulnerable, and I could happily watch an entire movie of her and Holland just playing off against each other.

Holland is, it almost goes without saying, a pretty much perfect Peter Parker, beautifully playing the push and pull the character feels between his heroic responsibilities and his teenage life, continuing to make him highly relatable.

The actions sequences are excellent, the climax in the centre of London is one of the best Spider-man set pieces since Spider-Man 2’s train battle ( I saw the film in 3D, which really enhanced this sequence), and the film balances action, drama and (a great deal of) humour deftly, giving it a distinct feel while still integrating it firmly into the MCU.

It’s a superb summer movie, and a lot of fun (often mischievously so), even if a certain amount of Homecoming’s down to earth charm has been sacrificed.

Do make sure you stay through the end credits, as one of the two stings brings not only a wonderful cameo (particularly for long-time Spider-Man movie fans) but a pretty seismic cliffhanger for Spider-Man’s status quo.

The best thing about the film is that it makes you want to spend more time caught up in Spider-Man’s web and in the company of these characters, so bring on Spider-Man: Home From Home, Home Run, Home Sweet Home, or even Don’t Try This At Home

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Spider-Man: Homecoming – Amazing, At Last!

Spider-Man Homecoming

Considering Spider-Man has been with us since 1962, it’s somewhat difficult to understand why he’s never come close to appearing on the cinema screen.

Oh sure, there have been five movies, some more successful in their approach than others, but regardless of how close each of them got to capturing that magic quality which has kept the character in print for fifty-five years something always felt… just slightly off.

Sam Raimi and co. certainly got close, especially with Spider-Man 2, which held the gold standard for superhero movies for some time. But I was never happy with the casting of that trilogy, as good as Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst are as actors, I never felt they were right for Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson.

Marc Webb swung closer with his stars, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (as Gwen Stacy) but the approach taken to the two Amazing Spider-Man films was just completely wrong-headed. Making Peter Parker a disaffected skateboard kid who ends up swinging into his graduation ceremony to kiss the prettiest girl in school was so far removed from what makes these characters special it was absurd. Sadly these entries also felt like the worst kind of committee-led filmmaking.

And both sets of movies shared a very particular missing quality. In the comic books Spider-Man has always been a vital cornerstone of the Marvel Universe, but in the movies the character has always swung through a New York bereft of other superheroes.

Spider-Man: Homecoming corrects that from its opening moments, as we are dropped into a New York recovering from alien invasion with criminals using stolen alien technology, a world where Avengers tower looms large over the city and superheroes are commonplace in everyday life.

But here is where the new collaboration between Marvel and Sony has really paid dividends, in the understanding that our Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man is the contrast to the other characters who fly around seeing off aliens from space and demons from dark dimensions. Spider-Man works best as a street level character, interacting with New Yorkers who cheer or jeer as he goes about his daily web-slinging.

Finally we’re given the opportunity to see Peter explore his newfound powers without the tiresome retread of an origin story, instead following a hero learning from his (plentiful) mistakes. Stakes are kept personally high but distinctly low-key (in superhero terms), from Spider-Man realising just how long it takes to climb the Washington Monument (and suddenly seeing how high up he is at its top) through to the climactic battle between hero and villain.

Speaking of the villain, I’d happily watch Michael Keaton reciting the phone directory and while there are one or two moments I’d like to have seen him given more to chew on, he also manages to bring an interesting, almost political motivation to his character and in one sequence set inside a parked car, a palbable sense of threat and menace in a stand-off involving no costumes, with no powers used or punches thrown. It’s a stand out moment in a film full of them.

The casting is excellent overall, as Peter Parker’s high school friends feel natural and unstereotypical, and director Jon Watts gives the film a John Hughes vibe that’s hard to ignore and impossible to dislike, with a fresh feeling that’s quite distinct from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet completely at home in it. Jacob Batalon’s Ned and Zendaya’s Michelle are particular stand-outs.

As seen in Captain America: Civil War, we’re given a fresh take on Peter’s Aunt May, now played with delightful MILF-relish by Marisa Tomei. She’s not given huge amounts to do in this first outing, but she’s such a fine actress she supports here perfectly and hopefully we’ll see more from her in the already-announced sequel.

Finally, every filmed attempt at Spider-Man stands and falls with its Peter Parker, and here we are given a true representation of the character. Tom Holland simply nails the role, his boyish looks giving Peter an average Joe quality, an awkward, earnest, ordinary teenager blessed, or cursed, with extraordinary abilities, who ultimately uses his powers because he knows it’s the right thing to do.

While this iteration plays loosely with the source material it stays true to the good-natured heart that has seen these characters loved by millions for so long to produce a film that’s as full of charm as it is action set-pieces. It’s a feel-good film about a decent, 15 year old boy, his friends and family and the responsibility he feels to protect them and the world in which they live. It seems like such a simple trick, but it’s been frustratingly elusive.

With their flagship hero returning to the Marvel fold as a result of a studio deal between the company and Sony, we’ve finally been given a Spider-Man who deserves the Amazing adjective.

This is the homecoming Spider-Man fans have been waiting for!

“Coffee For Spider-Man…”

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Perhaps to make up for the recent slew of quite dreadful posters for Spider-Man: Homecoming (I won’t link to them, but they’re out there and easily found if you have a taste for really bad Photoshop), Sony have released this amazingly (sorry, not sorry) cute piece of viral marketing to trumpet the imminent release of their first co-production with Marvel Studios.

It weirdly captures the friendly, neighbourhood aspect of the character which seemed largely absent from the last two ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ Sony productions, so let’s hope this approach is something Marvel have managed to filter through into the new movie, released in just a few short weeks, on July 7th.

In the meantime, watch out for stray webs in your cup the next time you order a coffee…

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming Trailer Swings In!

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Marvel have just dropped a brand new trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming and while there isn’t much left to say about how excited we are here at Out Of Dave’s Head towers for this film, the trailer really rocks.

Perfectly capturing the feel of the original Spider-Man comics, light, breezy and with a distinctly friendly neighbourhood feel (Spidey won’t be dealing with giant, planet-threatening villains), let’s hope this film is really a case of third time’s the charm for everyone’s favourite webhead!

Let us know your thoughts on this: are you excited by this latest reboot or are you all webbed out?

Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into cinemas on July 7th.

Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer flies high!

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Marvel and Sony’s highly anticipated team up for the brand new, new reboot (or is that re-reboot, I get so easily confused) has finally dropped, and it seems to hit all the points fans have been hoping for: it’s most definitely a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Look, it’s Tony Stark! Oh, there’s a flashback to Captain America: Civil War! Wow, those bank robbers are dressed up as The Avengers!), there’s a lovely, light feel to the Peter Parker/high school stuff and the rest of it has a definite MCU vibe but skews lower to ground level (as advised in this very trailer by Tony Stark himself). Also, we get our first glimpse at Michael Keaton’s Vulture which, after the actor’s turn in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), feels very meta!

Here’s hoping that the sour memory left by the last, committee-led, studio notes stuffed Sony attempt at Marvel’s webbed wonder is well and truly wiped out by this film when it arrives in theaters next summer!

 

Tom Holland’s Amazing Spider-Man Selfie!

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Being in the middle of a road trip means I’m a day or so behind this, and while I’m not certain it counts as hard news it definitely ranks as one of the most charming things I’ve seen after the past fourteen days or so of fairly horrendous world events.

To mark the one year point until the first offspring of the new Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures partnership to relaunch (another) cinematic version of Marvel’s flagship character in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the film’s exciting new lead, Tom Holland, took to his Instagram page to post what might be the greatest selfie ever.

Hoist high in the air in costume, above the rest of the crew, the young actor struck a suitably Spidey-like pose.

Starring Holland, Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Robert Downey Jr. and what’s beginning to sound like every up and coming young actor in Hollywood, Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by Cop Car’s Jon Watts, launches on July 7, 2017. If the finished film has half the charm and sense of fun of this photo we should be in for a treat!