Members Only | Spider-Man Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man Homecoming | From Columbia Pictures and Sony Tom Holland stars as a young Peter Parker struggling to be worthy of The Avengers Club while balancing homework at school, extra-curricular activities such as putting it nastier high-tech equipped bad guys who recycle weapons from The Avengers and their formidable foes.   Flanked by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) as mentor and Iron Man guardian, aunt Mae (Marisa Tomei) and buddies at school (Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier).  A music editorial treatment from West Coast Midnight Run with the music influence of M83, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Gwen Stefani, and leading music notables.

While we await the publication of the movie review portion of our editorial presentation you are invited in enjoying our three-piece music editorial of Spider-Man Homecoming and additional Spider-Man related editorial critiques.


It's been a while since  I sat in a movie theater to watch a Spider-Man movie and had so many conflicting thoughts on the merits of the film while having had minimum investment in the buzz and excitement directed at moviegoers prior to the premiere weekend.

The press media reports have become alarmingly less news like and more more an extension of the studio's promotional machine, and this isnt something that's just Sony and Disney, it's across the board in the showbiz entertainment industry.  Endless daily reports from Forbes to the Verge, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, Fox News, CNN, Screenrant, Comicbooks, YouTube and an endless list of high profile media outlets dripping, prior to the movie's opening, everything from "easter eggs", plot spoilers (the movie hasn't opened yet) to the latest tweet or proclamation from any of the actors, directors, producers or industry experts, even those remotely connected with the project.  

The frenzy reaches a fever pitch days before the first screening by the public and it's no accident.  This is the marketing model and script that is now Bible in movieland.  For the sake of enjoying the film, some of us simply tune out most of the media clamor and, you may not believe this, it can take some doing to avoid polluting your opinion and mindset before seeing the movie.  Gossip bites and screaming headlines are a little difficult to skip over when they are front page splash items on Yahoo, Google, MSN and every other internet engine and web portal you can think of (AOL, Lycos, Qwant) touting feeds from the Big Three and stock "reports" from Reuters to the Associated Press.

You need some serious maneuvers and super skills to keep yourself in the dark and able to enjoy the film free from the "junk" and clunk that is churning all around you, especially if you work in an industry tied to the entertainment machine and your job is to produce editorial pieces that are distinct from the usual avalanche that is sweeping the landscape.  How to craft a distinct piece when almost every other "lead" being published by the majors has "spoiler" warnings and is employing this hook to draw in eyeballs, traffic and ratings points.  There is so much pandering by the columnist or line editor to the entertainment property that at some point you wonder if there is any journalism, as defined by Academia, in the press.

Spider-Man Homecoming has been especially interesting as it seems the movie reviewers and industry were experiencing a spasm following this year's high profile bombs from Ghost in The Machine, The Mummy to King Arthur Legend of The Sword and more tepid returns from movies such as Alien Covenant.  It's possible the movie industry is currently in the midst of a "franchise" model over-extension crisis but these issues are sporadically and anecdotally receiving mention in some stories.

In the newest reboot of Spider-Man Homecoming, Tom Holland is cast as a much younger Peter Parker, resetting the timeline prior to the initial 2002 Sam Raimi record-setting movie with Tobey Maguire and Kristen Dunst.  Sony and Columbia Pictures' strategy were second-guessed early on by the press with many columnists questioning if the public will digest another iteration with a new cast, especially after an aborted series with an extremely hot and popular couple, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.

After five mega Spider-Man tentpole movies from Sony, Homecoming follows a somewhat different storyline, more importantly a different timeline, than the one made dear to fans by its authentic interpretation of the comic book canon - established over decades by Marvel Comics, now part of Marvel Entertainment and The Disney Empire.

Tom Holland was inducted to the Web slinging tradition, firmly established by the Maguire and Garfield interpretations, in Captain America Civil War as a last minute recruit by Iron Man against the schism that damages The Avengers in the follow-up to The Age of Ultron.  Holland's turn and the character's persona were greeted with both strong cheers and boos from new fans and those disenchanted by The Amazing Spider-Man series and by those loyal to Maguire and his Garfield.

Spiderman, Peter Parker, is no longer a senior graduating from high school and facing the grim challengers of the workforce and the labor market, he is not a very young student just beginning to wade through the murky waters of adolescence, high school puppy love, and disapproving teachers and principals, peer pressure and how to be and act to be part of the popular scene.

But as all moviegoers know, these troubles are enough to sink into distress any average teenager, Peter Parker is not a normal teen.  The delightfully geeky and civic minded teen also piles on his plate the troubles and crime agendas of his burroughs in New York City and he doesnt have a driver's license yet to drive to his date's house.  Aunt Mae (Marisa Tomei) has to do the honors and she plays the role of Mom with a little more nerve and neurotica than Rosemary Harris' wonderful turn.  To my senses, Tomei channels Mom with an interplay reminiscent of The Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio.

To set themselves distinctly apart from the legendary Tobey Maguire Spider-Man and to also create a world apart from the other Marvel movie series (the leading superheroes of The Avengers), Spider-Man Homecoming adopts a decidedly teen movie platform replete with winks and plagiarizations from the 1980s and 1990s onslaught, making an obvious nod to one of the era's most notorious and long-lived director of big hits such as Ferris Bueller's Day Off (which Deadpool also winked at), Some Kind of Wonderful and The Breakfast Club - RIP John Hughes.

You would not be far off the mark if you jumped to the conclusion that Homecoming's filmmakers were merging the winning (innocent and patriotic) qualities of Captain America with the neurotic and hyper self-absorbed New York impersonation of Iron Man's Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.).  The more I watch Robert Downey Jr. the more I am struck how closely he shoots for a variety of Woody Allen's trademarks as the consummate New Yorker everyday man.  In this movie both Director Watts and Downey craft a set of lines that show off Tony Stark as a little more mature and concerned "father figure" as well as absent minded and typically self-engrossed billionaire at play (ahem ... at work, because he does not discern the differences between the two realms).

The Vulture Weapon of Choice - Impossible Tech for Nerds and Geeks

If you are reading our review it's possible you are a long-time superhero or science fiction fan, we would not be doing our job if we do not point out the very thing today's savy audience wants to read about.  The flaws and warts in a movie that could have surpassed the original Spider-Man if the filmmakers were less artists and had a science or engineering advisor onboard to do the reality check for them.

Vulture is the main bad guy in this movie, and as well crafted his transition is from every day New Yorker small contractor to super star villain there are several hiccups in the movie, even Michael Keaton's superb acting skills and stint as Batman cannot overcome.  The weapon of choice to make geeks drool and to connect this Spider-Man adventure to the Marvel MCU series is its biggest Achilles heel - The Helicarrier concept from S.H.I.E.L.D.   Any high school science geek would know that the fans installed on the Vulture wings are not thick enough to generate the kind of pressure differentials across the intake and discharge to produce sufficient thrust to rocket him away at such speed, altitudes and with sharp angles of attack that would push even jet fighters to stall if they attempted them.  

To the everyday jock, let me demystify for you the average propulsion system you have on an everyday jetliner.  The turbine housing under the wing starts with an intake diameter that is larger than the discharge nozzle at the rear which is very narrow by comparison.  The housing of the turbine is large in depth to allow a stack of fans in series to produce multi-stage pressurized fluid flow, the air is sucked in and pressurized then goes into a second set of spinning fans to pressurize it to a higher level and so on and then it gets discharged at very high pressure through a narrow nozzle to produce high thrust factor.  Even with these configurations, the jet liner cannot make sharp cornering moves.  The thinness of the fans on the wings of Vulture cannot produce a thrust to overcome the planet's gravity force and to allow for sharp attack angles at high altitude where a jet has achieved a cruising speed.  

Even if you generously allow for the science fiction aspect of super strong alien metal that can spin at high speed without fracturing, higher speed than normal metal can tolerate, and is powered by science fiction energy module from advanced civilizations there remains the normal laws (classical laws) of physics on our planet where an open housing for a fan cannot generate the kind of powerful thrust greater than an F-16 or a Rapture Jet Fighter.  The limitation is our planet's atmosphere and gravity and has nothing to do with what alien metal and power packs you add to your wings of fancy Peter Pan glider.

The Vulture wings did not any show rocket thrusters that can adjust angle of attack and allow it to maneuver at high speeds with fluidity to match Spider-Man's razor sharp reflexes and web slinging shooters, and never mind all the liberties taken in Spider-Man shooting slingers at high altitude with all the buffeting and high speed wind resistance.  The web shooters mounted on his wrists do not have sufficient propulsion to travel any distance straight or not be buffeted a few inches out of the wrist shooter.

Now this kind of observation a high school science nerd would pick on the minute they watch the sneak peak trailer, but might withhold on remarking until they see the movie and what was omitted in terms of background story from the trailer.

As the world around has become more techy and as science has gained footing in everything we do on an alarmingly faster schedule, moviemarkers aka artists and business-minded artists, have attempted to color their productions with geek-e flavors and they have also capitalized on science fiction trends to greater and greater benefit, both artistic expression and monetary.

Filmmakers are artists and not science pros, in fact there is a direct clash of culture and mindset between the science child and the art babe.  They do not see the world in the same way.  Artists often hold themselves above science critters, they are visionary, they see the whole picture and they see it holistic with mind and heart whereas a scientist is a very clever tool for society, a quaint person that is shaped by their narrow dedication and focus to gain a wealth of knowledge and expertise to be put for the benefit of Humankind, if they can invent things that can improve our lot, they are a necessity even if awkward, immature, dysfunctional in society and cannot be trusted to not burn the world as they experiment away in their lab coats.  And if they cannot do what society requires of them, what good are they?  Thank heavens there is always a doorway they can use on their way out.

There is no greater misfit of culture between artist and scientist.  The two are worlds apart.  It's a freak occurrence when a scientist applies discipline and focus to shape themselves into an artist and in most instances they are rejected by the artistic community as an aberration.

Yes you guessed it, most of the viewers of Spider-Man are not this or next generation science geeks, just the opposite they are in most likelihood your typical average moviegoer or locker room jock and cheerleader that has at some point or another fancied what it would be like to have super brawn and brains and is drawn to the superhero and Spider-Man fantasy.

Come on reviewer, you are really nitpicking, this movie was a raving success.  When viewers have to choose from all the movie offerings this year and by comparison to King Arthur, an official commercial bomb, yes it is a raving success but it hardly qualifies as a success on its own merits when compared to the original series and the care that was taken in crafting story elements and milestone special effects that at the time made it the "Star Wars" of superhero films on par with the original Superman (1978).

The tech the bad guys are appropriating from Avengers and Aliens is central to the story of this movie and the Vulture Weapon of Choice Wings is the only weapon used to combat and defeat Spidey.  Hokum or more like bunkum?  For any viewer with a science or technology background, we have shades of Spider-Man 3 up against Venom and the "black gooey" evil sludge that stuck to him and "transformed" him into "Evil Spider-Man", arguably the worst of the Maguire-led movies.

But the problems with Spider-Man Homecoming do not stop there.

The ET and Los Angeles Suburbs

The suburbs of Queens feel somehow less hostile and more like The San Fernando Valley and some of the alleyways that Elliot and buddies cruised on in ET.  Same vibe from the high school in Homecoming, the missing touches of a tough neighborhood, gang bangers, slums, drugs in school, blight and desperation of a low income social fabric that was hinted at when Stark visits Parker and rummages through his outdated junk, literally junk, in his bedroom including a dinosaur McIntosh desktop from the early days of Apple when MS DOS was lagging behind the innovative computer maker.  The original Tobey Maguire Spiderman depicted a romanticized yet far more accurate neighborhood of Queens than this movie does.

The Training Wheel Protocols

Accessing and unlocking the training wheel protocols by a high school nerd who is nowhere in the league of Felicity Smoak, world class computer programmer and hacker, is tantamount to me laughing and people in the theater mistaking my guffaw for delight rather than scoffing at the storyline.  The zero-sum game of Peter being unable to use the advanced weapons of the suit are the same as him being unable to unlock the advanced systems and having to improvise with limited capabilities. And the storyline would have been a little more believable cause Stark Industries uses a world class genius to develop its systems and I doubt very much someone of Ned's caliber, even if he went undetected by school counselors and national agencies that reward youngsters with scholarships to special schools, he still would not have the tools or expertise to access and unlock military-grade super high tech systems from Iron Man.

Spidey/Iron Man Team Up Link Up

Spidey's suit is all tech-up by Iron Man himself and includes such basics as video surveillance, directional microphones and infrared imaging, he uses to monitor the heavy baddies in mid film yet somehow fails to relay the video footage to Iron Man HQ for serious follow-up.  The extremely impressed Peter Parker who is very gung ho on using the suit's full capabilities never thinks to relay the video to Iron Man?  This annoying omission keeping our hero in the "naive, bumbling" category rather than battle-hardened from his live encounter in Germany, a cynical and world wise young man from Queens, one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country.  The mix of naive and "now that was a mature decision" clashes and jars the viewer from completely delving into the adventure and enjoying the wrinkles setup by the storyline.

The Timeline Hiccup

Yes yes this really is for fans of Spider-Man and the Avengers Clubs, the "geeks" that keep track of details from story to story and from movie to movie and all of the enjoyable superhero character interactions that are somewhat rare in the comic books universe?  J/K like Zendaya blurts out to Tom Holland.

In this movie, which is purportedly after the Captain America Civil War movie, at the very end of Homecoming we see Iron Man moving to the new upstate headquarters and he closes Stark Tower, the move is to a brand new facility, the new Avengers facility that was shown to have happened during The Avengers Age of Ultron movie which preceded Captain America Civil War.  Are you confused?  So are we.  The highly valued continuity that is a linchpin of the MCU trademark is wasted and leaves fans in a little bit of a quandary.  What just happened at the very end?  Did Barry Allen aka The Flash crossover and mess up this timeline as well?  Only Marvel's next adventure may clear up this little tick.

If you are a fan or a novice, there are abundantly enjoyable elements in this movie, namely from the fresh portrayal by the new faces led by Tom Holland's new impersonation, from the comics books source and the fading influence of the original Maguire Spider-Man to make this movie entertainingly "fun".  That is, if you completely let go of any critical abilities that typically allow a moviegoer to go back for a second and third screening the way it used to be when moviegoers went to see Superman and Star Wars in the latter part of the 1970s.