Asiconic as Spider-Man is, there hasn’t been a Spider-Man movie that came close to the comic-book hero’s authentic tonality. That is why this superhero franchise has gone through two reboots in 15 years, but this time, Spider-Man: Homecoming, started differently from the get-go. Sony Pictures Entertainment is producing and developing the Spider-Man under Marvel Studios’ quality control. They even finally have Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which resulted in getting the first look of the new Web-Slinger in Captain America: Civil War.
As a solo initiation movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming has expectations to fulfil with its previous dynamic entry. Interest is peaked and boy, they don’t disappoint.
The movie begins in 2012 when Loki, Chitauri and Avengers destroyed Manhattan. The scrap salvager Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) invests everything he has to excavate the site, but the contract is pulled from their hands by the government and Stark Enterprises.
Broken and disappointed, Toomes decides to not give back what they have found and develop the alien technology to sell it on the black market for their own gain. As scavengers, they loot in small number from the higher up and Toomes aptly names himself Vulture – an embodiment of the name metaphorically. When he eventually dons his villain’s outfit, the name becomes literal, with big sharp wings, mask, jacket and fur trimming.
Now the movie returns to its present timeline. We see Spider-Man (Tom Holland) vlogging the behind the scenes of his first scene in Civil War. After the whole incident, he is back in New York to continue his sophomore year in high school. Peter is kept under the neglectful supervision of "Happy" Hogan (Jon Favreau) while Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) pops in and out, occasionally in person, but mostly through tech devices mentoring Spider-Man. Tony, by extension, is also influencing Peter’s life as an adult male role model.
As Spider-Man, he learns the ropes of being a hero by roaming and helping people only as far as he is allowed, which is his area of Queens. On a personal front, Peter Parker is neck deep in teen problems. He has a crush, is bullied by another nerd, and is awkward socially, and in school. It’s a normal problem filled life and Peter has more than enough youthful fire burning in him. That’s what Homecoming is all about – it is a breezy, fun movie about a friendly neighbourhood superhero who is a teenager, (and as a blessing for the audience), is low on angst and high on youthful naiveté.
It’s refreshing not to have a hero who is panic-stricken at the near world ending catastrophe at every turn. That much stress is not good for anyone, and it can’t be good for our growing hero.
Talking about growing hero, Tom Holland is pure gold as Peter/Spider-Man. One can’t say enough on how much it suits to have a young actor play Spidey – his look and sound all make sense and work. A friendly working class teenage hero who just wants to do good, while still figuring out his footing, is almost a parallel between the character and actor. As an audience to see what is happening on screen is immersing.
Rest of the cast is as fresh. Jacob Batalon as Ned, Peter’s best friend and confidant, is a classic cheery buddy side-kick. Michael Keaton, tone-downed, cool and menacing with a chip on his shoulder, makes Vulture a special villain with drama and depth.
Director Jon Watts, shows flair maintaining the young adult tone with the right hero moments. He has made a fine movie that might not blow your mind, but coaxes you to be involved in a journey that develops Peter Parker into Spider-Man. •
Edgar Wright (visually stylistic Scott Pilgrim, the fantastic Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz or the ridiculous At Worlds End) has always been a director to watch out for. He has a definite style that is entertaining, infused with fast editing and fun writing that tantalises the audiences’ attention. His films make your head spin a little, but never pushes them over.
Wright also likes to make movies in the genre that he has been a fan of, be it a parody to George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, or Body Snatchers. Baby Driver has that shared love of genre. It is a heist movie, that emulates the style of Driven and merges it with Quentin Tarantino’s tone. The heart of the movie is the music, with the groove, rhythm and soul of Guardians of the Galaxy. The resulting combination is a fantastic world that is true to its inspirational roots.
Baby Driver, plot-wise is slick and straightforward.
In the beginning of the movie we have Baby (Ansel Elgort) – yes that’s the name the hero goes by – sitting in a red car. Not an amped-up fast and the furious type car. Connected to his ears is an iPod blasting Bellbottoms from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, as he waits for three of his robber co-passengers. When they come back, it is Baby, his music and the road.
Baby’s life moves to the soundtrack he keeps playing on his numerous iPods. It’s not a tool of cool, but rather a coping device (he had a tragic accident in his childhood that left him with tinnitus – he uses music to drone out the constant humming in his ears). Orphaned, Baby lives with his deaf foster-father whom he loves dearly. He drives getaway cars for robberies because he is entangled with Doc (Kevin Spacey), a big mastermind, who runs a heist gang.
Baby, owes Doc and has been gradually paying him back. When he is through, he aims to make a legal living, especially after he finds a sweet waitress Debora (Lily James). To him, she looks and hums like an angel.
However, in the gang there are some obvious psychos like, Bats (Jamie Foxx) and the amiable Buddy (Jon Hamm), and that can make looting even more dangerous.
Baby Driver is kinetic, rhythmic and entertaining. And in a summer filled with no brainer popcorn fodder, it is a campy, genre-loving auteur’s work and that’s a treat in any season. •
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