Spider-Man: Homecoming (Review)

Spider-Man: Homecoming (Review)

Spider-Man is back on the big screen and…well, it’s pretty much what you would expect.

Tom Holland is a fantastic Spider-Man and a different take on the character.  Eager yet untested, he is able to do amazing things yet is growing bored of his life after getting a taste of the Avengers back during Captain America: Civil War.  This serves as a good motivating factor as he tries to take down the Vulture, who may be too over his head.

The Vulture, on the other hand, starts off with a pretty good motivation that sees yet another consequence of the Avenger’s actions (in fact, I believe Phase 3 is all about consequences for the Avenger’s actions).  Though for the majority of the movie, I got the sense that he was pretty much just the same old forgettable Marvel villain.  There’s this aspect of his character that he’s doing this all for his family but at the same time lives for the thrill of the heist that might be getting the better of him, but it doesn’t really amount to anything and it’s never brought up.  There’s nothing really new about his character, which is a shame because Michael Keaton is always enjoyable and I loved the design of the Vulture.

So, everything about the movie was good and I enjoyed it immensely.  I couldn’t shake this odd feeling about it.  It was likable but it was just that.  In the end, it’s safe.  The action is just good enough.  The story is just good enough.  The music is just good enough.  The whole movie is just good enough.

Which is fine but I’m always expecting more in my movies.  Maybe this sets a high standard that no movie can reach but it’s something that I can’t really help.  Maybe if the movie instead tried to form a parallel arc between Spider-Man and the Vulture about how they both want something bigger and better with their lives but aren’t prepared for the consequences of it when it blows back into their face but there is no connection.  Spider-Man is stopping the Vulture because stealing is wrong.

The side characters are likable but all mainly serve Peter Parker’s story.  They have no stories of their own.  They’re only important when Parker has to deal with them.  Maybe if they had one of the characters say this to his face then I would have liked the movie more.

As it stands, the movie is decent.  Serviceable.  It does what it sets out to do, nothing more, nothing less.  And I enjoyed it a lot more than I probably sound.  It was refreshing to see a movie in the MCU that didn’t deal with Avengers level stuff, but more ground level things.  It was fun, lighthearted, funny and exciting at times, but it just didn’t wow me like I wish it had.  It simply met my expectations.

The Jungle Book (Film Review)

The Jungle Book (dir. Jon Favreau), is pretty much the gritty reboot of the original 1967 animated movie.  Honestly, though, that’s not a bad thing.

For the people who have never seen either movies, The Jungle Book follows the adventures of Mowgli (played by newcomer Neel Sethi), the “man-cub” that has been raised by wolves after being found by Bagheera the panther (Ben Kingsley).  After a tiger named Shere Khan (Idris Elba) discovers this, he vows to kill Mowgli, due to his hatred of men.  What follows is an adventure through the jungle as Bagheera and Baloo the bear (Bill Murray) try to return him back to the man village.

First of all, this movie is a visual treat.  From the first second into the movie, I could not for the life of me figure out what was computer and what was real.  This is the movie’s greatest strength.  When you’re looking at animals talking to each other, you know they’re fake and yet you can’t help but believe they’re real.  They look and behave just like how animals should except for the fact that they talk.  In fact, as I watched Bagheera interact with the world, I couldn’t help but think of my own cats and how they acted.  It was uncanny.  Even how they fought other animals.

The cinematography is simply a wonder to behold.  You feel like you are Mowgli running through the jungle.  I whole heartedly believe that this movie will most likely get a academy nomination.  You feel every hit and every shot is breathtaking.

As further proof of the power of the visuals in the movie, I actually wanted to know more about the animals.  They seem to have so much history and we’re given a lot of information that Mowgli, the main character, doesn’t know.  Yet, there are certainly things left unanswered.  How do Bagheera and Baloo know each other?  What exactly is the nature of their relationship?  Why would Akela take in a man-cub to be part of the pack and protect him so fiercely?  How does Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) hypnotize people like she does?

These questions only add to the mythos and yes it is now a mythos in my mind.  These characters take on a fantastic and mythological standing and the less we know about them, the more we want to know about them.  The only character we actually know about in detail is Shere Khan.  A fascinating story  to be sure but I hope we have more stories in the future.

The only bad thing about this movie is the rather strange and awkward singing number from King Louie (Christopher Walken).  Of course, he sings the song “I Wanna Be Like You,” because it’s the Jungle Book and you need this song.  Actually you don’t.  The song you need is “The Bare Necessities,” which is woven in quite well.  It serves more as character development between Mowgli and Baloo.  “I Wanna Be Like You,” however, comes out of nowhere and is just bizarre.  King Louie was more or less introduced in a rather threatening light and to have him suddenly break out into song is just a complete 180.  It’s jarring and I found myself scratching my head at the absurdity of it.

That is just one bad thing in a movie that I had a great time watching.  It’s fun but also dark, which works for the fairy tale theme, which this is.  This is absolutely a fairy tale and if you remember, fairy tales have darkness.  They are absolutely intense, but they are also fun adventures with happy endings.  The Jungle Book is the epitome of fairy tale made into the visual medium.