Advertisements

Does ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Live Up To The Hype? — Cinemaholics

The original Spider-Man and its sequel Spider-Man 2 essentially molded my taste in superhero movies. So it’s no surprise we spent a longer amount of time than usual dissecting Spider-Man: Homecoming, which has received high ratings from critics and audiences everywhere.

Special guest Mae Abdulbaki joined the discussion between me, Will Ashton, and Maveryke Hines this week. In addition to The Young Folks, Mae writes for Heroic Hollywood, where Will and I used to contribute (myself as DC Editor last year). It was a great to have her on for a reunion, especially when she gave us a brief mini review of The Big Sick. 

Speaking of which, we also talked about Castlevania, a new anime series produced by Netflix which is streaming now. And I finally got a chance to share my love of The Beguiled, a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood film starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Kirsten Dunst.

Go on…Does ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Live Up To The Hype? — Cinemaholics

Advertisements

‘Spider-Man Homecoming’ Isn’t Another Big, Generic Superhero Movie

Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the latest standalone superhero film to tackle great power and great responsibility without actually having to mention those famous words. This is Marvel Studios and Sony’s first full-length collaboration on a superhero film, making Homecoming a risky experiment that was clearly worth taking.

Go on…‘Spider-Man Homecoming’ Isn’t Another Big, Generic Superhero Movie

Ten Cloverfield Names

10 cloverfield lane podcast

This week on Now Conspiring, we review 10 Cloverfield LaneBrothers Grimsby, and Spider-man’s new suit. We also chat in length about the new Game of Thrones trailer for Season 6.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What do you think the next “Cloverfield” movie should be about?

Go on…Ten Cloverfield Names

Which is Better? Spider-Man vs. The Amazing Spider-Man

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

Which is Better” is a sort-of new editorial series, where I break down two similar pieces of entertainment and evaluate which one is, well better. I’m starting to realize this intro isn’t necessary anymore. 

In 2002, Sony Entertainment kicked off the Spider-Man trilogy, which helped shape the landscape of superhero movies we enjoy today. While these movies certainly weren’t perfect, they made a huge impact on moviegoers like me who’d grown tired the “dark” and “cool” movie heroes who had to wear leather jackets in order to be taken seriously.

After the poorly-received Spider-Man 3 was released in 2007, a fourth sequel was in the planning stages for years. Sony wasn’t about to let one of its most profitable franchises ever disappear after one misstep.

But instead of continuing the saga they established with Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, Sony decided it was soon enough to reboot the series with a new director, lead actor, and (taking a page from Marvel and Disney) overall focus on franchise continuity.

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

So in 2012, The Amazing Spider-Man  hit theaters with Andrew Garfield now playing a younger version of the webhead. The film was a modest hit, prompting its sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to lay even more groundwork for future spinoffs and adaptations.

TASM2 was also a moneymaker, but that didn’t stop Sony and Marvel from striking a deal to once again nix the franchise and start fresh, virtually erasing all of their plans for a Sinister Six film and even (I’m not joking) a spinoff for Aunt May.

This is probably because both TASM films made less than the previous trilogy, even before adjusting for inflation. They still made a ton of money each, but not the billion Sony was banking on.

In other words, Sony bit off more than it could chew, and they eventually recognized that there was more money to be made if they could play nicely with Marvel and Disney. We can’t really fault the TASM franchise, then, for essentially being incomplete.

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

But which is better? It’s a question that’s confounded fans of Spider-Man for years, myself included. Sure, it’s easy to compare singular movies to each other (Spider-Man 2 is my personal favorite overall). But comparing two entire franchises is a big undertaking, since both have significant flaws that have to be considered.

In order to reach a verdict, I’ll have to break these movies down by their core elements: characters, story, action, and more. So in the end, we should have a pretty clear answer.

Note: When doing my research for this piece, I came across a similar breakdown done by the Nostalgia Critic on YouTube. I don’t agree with all of his points, but this is a pretty good analysis that can be paired with my own if you want a more comprehensive insight.

SPOILER WARNING: there are some major spoilers below, especially for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Do not read if you haven’t watched these movies yet.

Let’s begin with…

BEST SPIDER-MAN

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

Let’s just get this out of the way. Who is better at being Spider-Man?

This is a harder question to answer than usual because it’s almost a tie for me. The character of Spider-Man has always had a dual personality, with the mask allowing the dorky Peter Parker to get out of his shell with quips and daring antics. Strangely enough, both franchises excel at one side of this character.

Tobey Maguire is vastly more believable as the unsettling science nerd he portrays in SM trilogy, while Andrew Garfield is much more fun to watch with the costume on, especially in TASM2.

But what about the inverse?

I never had a problem with Maguire’s take on Spider-Man, until I watched the trilogy again years later. His dialogue is incredibly one-note and campy, which is exactly Sam Raimi’s intention. While I don’t dislike this, I have a hard time loving it as much as I used to.

With Garfield, I have a bigger problem with his take on Peter Parker not feeling even remotely true to the source material. This is an issue because the source material informs too much of his character and motivations for this aspect of the character to be out of sync.

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

Specifically, it’s too hard to buy Garfield’s Peter Parker as someone who is unpopular. From the beginning, he’s a good-looking guy who skateboards and mopes around with his hood up, making him exactly like most of the cool guys we actually went to high school with.

At the same time, I love Garfield more as the movies progress. By TASM2, he swiftly becomes the competent superhero genius as portrayed in the comics. Yet there’s no real sense of his struggle or yearning, with everything he wants being pretty accessible, including his rapid romance with Gwen Stacey (a fault of their natural chemistry, no doubt).

With Maguire, it’s the other way around. By the end of the trilogy, his character becomes a real mess. Though at his peak in SM2, he truly delivers a relatable character that makes you root for him. When he loses his powers and quits in SM2, you don’t blame him. But you feel as triumphant as he does when he finally returns to the action.

Because both of these movies don’t give us the ultimate, complete Spider-Man, I have to say this one is a tie.

BEST VILLAINS

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

This is pretty easy. It’s SM trilogy.

Look, I get that the villains in the trilogy have repetitive beats, like split personalities and being inextricably tied to Peter Parker in some way. But this was completely overshadowed by their overall performances, especially Doc Ock — a character who was never that interesting in the early comics, yet weirdly profound when Alfred Molina got his hands on him in SM2.

I’ve seen TASM a handful of times, and I honestly couldn’t tell you one thing about the Lizard that I remember from the film, aside from tidbits I know because of the comics, TV shows, and characters. Worse, Electro was poorly handled as a guy who loves — then outright hates — Spider-Man for weak reasons.

It’s also no fun watching Electro be a villain whose motivations revolve almost entirely around the hero, rather than a character like Norman Osborn, who resorts to mind-altering insanity in place of losing everything he’s worked for. Or Sandman, who escapes a life in prison only to succumb to a life of being immaterial.

I looked forward to Dane Dehaan as Green Goblin, and overall, he was fine. But the look of the character managed to be even more bizarre than Dafoe’s. Both costumes are pretty unimpressive, but at least SM gave Dafoe a better reason for being insane enough to wear green armor. Dehaan’s motivations were close to being as whiny and petty as Electro’s, and don’t get me started on the wasted potential of Paul Giamatti as Rhino.

Like I said before, it’s SM trilogy by a landslide.

BEST ACTION SCENES

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

In TASM and TASM2, I love how well the action is choreographed. Spider-Man looks and moves like Spider-Man. What more could you want?

But SM trilogy has superior action scenes. The final showdown in SM, the entire train sequence in SM2, and SM3’s brutal beatdown between “dark” Spidey and Sandman. These are all incredibly visceral and emotional confrontations that I don’t think TASM and TASM2 matched nearly as well.

That said, we already evaluated these movies for story, so I have to set that aspect of the scenes aside. If we’re just looking at how well the action unfolds, then it’s safe to say that TASM is superior. Watching Spider-Man in action was more thrilling in these movies, even without all of the emotional buildup done so well by SM trilogy.

Point goes to TASM.

BEST SUPPORTING CAST

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

Almost everyone loved the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey in TASM and TASM2. Unlike the constant “will they/won’t they” of SM trilogy, we got these two as a couple early on, with Gwen Stacey even learning of Peter’s double life in just one movie.

While I appreciate SM for giving this relationship time to develop, it was smart of Sony to give us something new to watch with Peter and Gwen, and they pretty much nailed it. And this goes beyond the chemistry between actors.

Mary Jane is easily one of the weakest characters of SM trilogy, which is no fault of Kirsten Dunst (I guess). Her recycled peril got old very fast, which is why it was refreshing to see Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacey be a more dynamic and action-oriented character. Watching her solve problems and be an ally to Spider-Man was something fans wanted a long time ago, and Sony delivered.

I do like SM trilogy’s more cautious buildup, and the kissing scene in the rain is iconic. But overall, TASM gave us a more captivating romance.

But what about the rest of the supporting cast?

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

Without a doubt, J.K. Simmons was perfectly casted as J. Jonah Jameson, who stood out as one of SM trilogy’s best characters. He was so good, in fact, that TASM and TASM2 seemed too afraid to even try recasting him.

I also preferred SM trilogy’s Aunt May, played by Rosemary Harris. She lived and breathed the character, while Sally Fields gave us a somewhat one-note performance. Even in SM3, her cold shoulder scene with Peter admitting his involvement in Uncle Ben’s death trounces anything we saw of Aunt May in the newer films.

Despite all of this, TASM and TASM2 has a well-rounded (if somewhat inferior) supporting cast, so the excellent romance manages to put it on top.

Point goes to TASM.

BEST STORY

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

Is a story better if it’s more memorable? If so, then I’m leaning toward SM trilogy in a hurry. The iconic kissing scene we mentioned earlier, the death of Uncle Ben, and Peter’s speech to Mary Jane at the end…these are all moments that stuck with me.

With TASM, I remember more key moments from the sequel, namely the death of Gwen Stacey. It was handled very well, and Garfield killed it in the scene. But the only other moments I found as interesting were just quips and funny moments sprinkled throughout the movie, including Garfield’s “leg tap” and wearing the firefighter helmet.

Even the subplot with Peter’s parents ended up being a letdown, with the whole conspiracy being yet another web of unimportance that “might” be explained more in the next movie. I’ll give TASM and TASM2 credit for not being boring movies, but I’d be hard pressed to say they had compelling stories, even when they didn’t have the excuse of well, we have to retell the origin story.

SM and SM2 had incredible stories that coincided with the odd premise of a man swinging around the city like a spider. The first one nailed it as a coming-of-age story about an unassuming guy suddenly blessed with enormous gifts, learning how to use them with responsibility.

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

The second was a compelling followup about the reality of that responsibility, and how they would result in massive sacrifices that Peter Parker wasn’t actually ready for like he thought he was. And that’s not even getting into the villain’s plot, a shade of Peter Parker who won’t compromise anything to get what he wants.

Of course, SM3 is where the story goes off the rails with a rehashing of Peter’s struggle with Uncle Ben’s death, a pointless turnaround of his relationship with Mary Jane and Harry, and the rushed introduction of yet another villain who deserved much more screen time and development.

But even with the disappointments of SM3, the first two movies at least tell a coherent story that can stand on their own, unlike the incessant teasing of TASM and TASM2, which promised “even more answers” in the next installment.

Both movies do a good job in this department, but SM trilogy is the true standout. It’s good even without all of the super heroics, so for that reason, it gets the point.

THE VERDICT

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

It’s interesting how close these movies are in quality, despite one series being the more successful one overall. I stand by the movies scoring a draw when it comes to Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and I’ve always considered the romance and action much more polished in the newer films.

Yet the story and villains of SM trilogy are true winners when it comes to coherence and direction. The original SM movies dared to be legitimate comic book movies in an age when superheroes couldn’t translate to the big screen without some major overhaul to the source material. Sam Raimi defied that with his take on Spider-Man.

So what is the best overall experience of these movies? Which one had you leaving the theater with a big grin on your face?

If you’re asking me, it’s SM trilogy. Not because I was expecting a whole new franchise universe of more movies I could spend money on, but because they delivered everything I wanted in a superhero movie, even before I loved superhero movies.

That said, I have to let my bias shine here (at least more than usual). These are truly subjective movies that I don’t think anyone can objectively pick apart and deem one as the superior. But if you stop and consider which movie made you feel better and just…happy…then you should have your answer.

spider-man vs. amazing spider-man

Some of you will no doubt leave TASM and TASM2 grinning just as wide as I did after SM and SM2. You’ll hate how slow the action is in SM, as much as I hate how boring the villains are in TASM and TASM2. And you’ll forgive Garfield’s unrealistic version of Peter Parker because you love how excellent he is in almost every other area, extending to his relationship with Gwen Stacey. While I’ll still ponder how convincing it was to see Tobey Maguire as a guy who just has a simple crush on a girl.

For the first time in Which is Better history, I have to call this one a draw.

Agree? Disagree? Just want to say hey? Sound off in the comments.


Thanks for reading this. To get updates on my theories, books, and giveaways, join my mailing list.

Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni

New Captain America And Amazing Spider-Man Trailers Compete For Our Hearts

Instead of watching the Super Bowl this year, I had the immeasurable benefit of having one night to finish a video I made for one of the nonprofits that I volunteer for. So instead of watching what is being considered by many as the worst Super Bowl of all time, I had my face buried in a computer (but what else is new?)

Aside from not being able to watch the game itself, I was equally distraught at having to miss out on the commercials, though I heard those didn’t fare well either. Still, I was anxious to watch two commercials in particular that were bound to be good (at least one had to, right?)

My wish was fulfilled and then some because both trailers were amazing, despite my immense displeasure with the first “Amazing Spider-Man” and my worry that Captain America would have nothing interesting to do in a sequel without Downey Jr. or the God of Thunder. Or Mark Ruffalo. Or Colson.

See, I was pretty worried, and although a trailer is only a halfway decent benchmark for anticipating the success of a film (critically, that is), I am happy to report that both movies look to be promising superhero flicks that will satisfy our itch for escapism once the weather warms up.

But which was better?

If you had asked me on Saturday, I would have met you with a resounding laughter. “Captain America, obviously.” is one of the 14 phrases I would have uttered. But with this latest look at The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I actually have to think about this, and I hope you help me decide.

Normally, I break down trailers individually with funny captions and litter them with interesting side notes about the upcoming film. I already did that for Captain America, and I was too disinterested to give Spider-Man more than a Tweet.

So this time, I’ll be comparing the two trailers side by side. Let’s get started!

You know what I love about being Spider-Man? Everything.

Yeah, really profound Andrew.

I liked this trailer a lot more than the first one, which reeked of Spider-Man 3’s villain overload. But what we learned from the first Amazing Spider-Man movie is that there are more problems with the handling of Spider-Man than introducing a lot of villains. The Lizard was the only villain, and the movie was still terrible, for instance.

But it looks like the sequel will be giving it the old college try at redeeming its creative decisions in the first movie. Most importantly: the costume is perfect. He actually looks like Spider-Man now, and his arms are no longer blinking.

Next, it’s comforting to know that the movie will focus more on the heroism of Peter Parker’s alter ego, rather than just focusing on his revenge quest against his uncle’s killer and his uninteresting girl problems with Gwen Stacey. This trailer gave us a glimpse of Spider-Man actually saving people and fighting crime, a small detail that has been overlooked since Spider-Man 2 (the best one).

I have to admit that the Max Dillon/Electro/Jamie Foxx plot makes little sense so far. The trailer explains that he is a villain because a brief encounter with Spider-Man encouraged him to gain powers. But when he did do that and became Electro, Spider-Man forgot his name, which set him off on a rampage.

That just seems…silly. For now, I guess we’ll just chalk this up to the fact the guy is wickedly unstable.

Finally, as much as I am excited to see the Sinister Six being hinted at and built up, I can’t help but feel like the Harry Osborn/Rhino thing is being crammed into the movie. The trailer doesn’t flow, as a result, and I feel like that may be a sign of pacing problems the movie is bound to have.

Still, the action looks far more creative and fun to watch than the last movie, with even CGI effects looking crisp and imaginative. Here’s to Spidey and Sony trying to make good on second chances.

Now, let’s take a look at the new trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and compare:

If they’re shooting at you, they’re bad.

Yeah, really profound, Chris.

The first trailer did a good job of introducing us to another side of S.H.I.E.L.D. that is similar to the TV show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, in that it features the “Black Ops” aspect of hunting down dangerous, god-like individuals. It’s setting the stage for Secret Avengers, a plot avenue that makes perfect sense for Captain America (and Steve Rogers).

Cap isn’t the most powerful Avenger. He’s not the smartest, or even the most good-looking (thanks to Black Widow). But he is the bravest of them. He’s a soldier, and his role as the “Captain” is something that this new trailer is willing to explore.

Unlike the first trailer, this featurette focuses more on the antagonist, The Winter Soldier. Many of you probably already know who he really is thanks to comic books and the Internet being terrible at keeping secrets, but please do not spoil the surprise for anyone who doesn’t know.

That said, we got a more full glimpse of the action behind this new villain and why we should actually be afraid of him. 1 point goes to Captain America for having a much more interesting and streamlined villain (which is surprising).

It was also great to see more of The Falcon joining the action, particularly when the two are being shot at toward the end. Between Falcon, Black Widow, and Fury all vying for Cap’s attention, it now makes sense why Hawkeye probably won’t get brought up this time around.

A point goes to both trailers for giving us some good action to rejuvenate our childlike lusts for violence and explosions, but I’m giving Spider-Man another point for costume design. Maybe it’s because it’s such a fantastic improvement over his last one, but it’s also because Cap’s helmet is just plain awkward.

Captain America gets 1 more point, however, because of Scarlett Johansson, but that is met by another point to Spider-Man for having more comedic moments. The “washing the American flag” bit, along with the chimney thing, actually had me laughing, while the Captain America trailer’s only attempt at humor fell extremely flat for me.

Thanks to Emma Stone, Spider-Man gets the last point, which means I actually pick The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer over Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Never in the history of the last few months did I believe such a thing was possible, but here we are.

Thanks for Reading! You can subscribe to this blog by email via the prompt on the sidebar. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@JonNegroni). I’ll follow you back if you say something witty and awesome.

Review: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’

Long story short: It’s no Spider-Man 2.

Short story long:

I love Spider-Man. I went into this move stoked to see Spider-Man do spider…well things, and I wasn’t disappointed. The action was superb and the way everything was set up made the reboot do just that: refresh our perception of Spider-Man.

Unfortunately, the movie suffers one major ill: post-production. The whole time I was watching this movie, I couldn’t get over the lack of cinematic flair. From the first time we see Peter Parker dawn his mask to the Lizard’s transformation, there is just a terrible structure to everything, which is typically what you address in editing.

There’s also an underwhelming attention to pacing, resulting in a final product with the right ingredients, minus a cohesive flow.

I won’t even complain about the web shooters or off-putting glow-lights appearing out of Peter Parker’s wrists. These lore updates are welcome to a worn franchise. The only re-imagining that I had any real issue with was how they dealt with the death of the Uncle Ben (played well by Martin Sheen), arguably the most important character in the Spider-Man mythology for how he prompts Peter Parker into a life of superhero servitude. Unfortunately, the execution of this arc and others was sloppy to a fault.

The love interest, Emma Stone performing admirably as Gwen Stacey, will be most folks’ favorite aspect of this film. The rest of the supporting cast, including a weak-willed Flash Thompson, standard police captain antagonist, and an even less interesting antagonist in the form of “The Lizard,” bring The Amazing Spider-Man down to earth from its web slinging heights.

Grade: C

Extra Credits:

  • Five years is far too short to reboot a film franchise, especially if we’re doing another origin story.
  • The mystery surrounding Peter’s parents doesn’t amount to as much as the marketing would have moviegoers believe. This isn’t necessary a flaw of the film itself, just a missed opportunity.
  • Another key difference that seemed inevitable: No Mary Jane or Harry Osborn, though I doubt that will remain the case with future installments.
  • Amazing Spider-Man certainly excels at core characters, but if I had to put my finger on the key difference between both franchises, it would have to be the absence of any style here compared to the straight-out-of-a-comic-book approach of the Sam Raimi films.
  • Thankfully, they didn’t do a poor job with the Stan Lee cameo.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: