Hype for Homecoming: Spider-man

Part 1 of 5: “Booooone-Saaaaw is reaadyyyy!!!”

Welcome to the first post of my “Hype for Homecoming” series! As of this going live, we are officially just 4 weeks away from the release of “Spider-man: Homecoming”, with Tom Holland reprising his role from “Captain America: Civil War” as everyone’s favorite web-slinger.

To give a background of what Spider-man means to me…well…I was a nerdy kid that got picked on relentlessly at school…so you tell me who I looked up to. Yes, I’ve said multiple times that I watched the DC animated universe quite a bit as a kid, but really if I had to point to my childhood hero, it’d be Spidey. There’s always a soft spot in my heart for the web-head and even though I’ve grown up and have other heroes now, it doesn’t change the fact that Spidey is the Marvel poster-boy and that the first Spider-man movies, directed by Sam Raimi, were some of the few to set the stage for Comic Book Movies to take Hollywood by storm. Granted, we had to sit through a bunch of other “imitators” that ended up creating the trope of comic book movies being atrocious for most of the 2000’s…but I’m glad we’re past that now and its nice to look back and see some of the pre-MCU/DCEU original “Universes” (hell, Fox has been doing it since 2000 with the X-men, even though they don’t have as solid of a slate and flow when it comes to universe-building). So, without further ado, here’s my notes on Spider-man (2002)!

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Slide into those DMs like…

[WARNING: Posts of this nature aren’t traditional “reviews”. Expect the following: spoilers, potentially mindless ramblings, lack of proper sentence structure, and profane language. There is a summary section at the end of the bullet points that you can skip to for convenience.]

  • Holy hell, NO ONE looks like they’re in high school…thankfully they actually casted teenagers in Homecoming, but JEEZ I forgot how odd this looks. Anyway, we’re introduced to Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and WAIT WTF, IS THAT JOHN MANGANIELLO PLAYING FLASH THOMPSON? LIKE, THE GUY PLAYING DEATHSTROKE IN AFFLECK’S BATMAN MOVIE? Sorry, got distracted. We get a scene with the Osborns aka Norman (Willem Dafoe) and Harry (James Franco) and already we see some tension here with Peter getting shit from kids at school (high schoolers are dicks, just saying) and Harry getting shit from his father, so it makes sense why the two are such good friends to our audiences who’ve never read a spiderman comic.
  • So now we’re in the museum because the class is on a field trip, and we get some juicy exposition on what spiders can do (and eventually what Peter will be able to do) and some nice little development between Peter, MJ, and Harry when OUCH, radioactive spider-bite!
  • Remember the cliches of sci-fi/superhero movies from the 2000’s? So Norman is testing a super-soldier serum (check) but his board and the military aren’t thrilled about the results so far (check), so he’s given an arbitrary deadline (check) for human testing but since he’s running out of time and funding, he’s going to test it on himself (checkarooni) and eventually become a threat to himself and others (Check, check, check). I will say that I love Willem Dafoe and his freaky looking face for the role of Norman/Green Goblin, and I think he demonstrates it well when Harry finds him passed out on the floor, just some subtle acting choices you notice here and there.
  • So Peter wakes up after being bitten and spends the entire day finding out he has weird ass spider powers…which I feel like should’ve been a bigger deal when he had a literal web coming out of his arm and punched the biggest guy in school after doing a back-flip…must be New York public school system, I guess?
  • Dear Lord I forgot how much time they actually spend on these characters and how awesome it is. This is really just a theme for the entire movie…same with the casting, its all so good.
  • Uncle Ben, I love you. This scene with Peter being a total dick to his Uncle caring about him…they get this SO RIGHT.
  • Ahahaah I could never forget that Macho Man Randy Savage is in thi-WAIT WTF IS THAT OCTAVIA SPENCER? LIKE…FROM HIDDEN FIGURES? DAMN…WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. Anyway,  as dumb as this scene is, its kinda cool to see Peter learn how to fight and gain some confidence against a professional wrestler, of all people.
  • This confidence turns into cockiness and Peter ignores his Uncle’s advice…and in turn, we get the first truly emotional scene in this movie with Uncle Ben’s death and Peter getting his petty revenge…and with this plus the graduation scene, In my opinion, the first act is over and now we get to Peter adjusting to his new life as Spider-Man. Also, side-note: This score by Danny Elfman…wow.
  • JK Simmons…its going to take me a long time to adjust to you being Commissioner Gordon…cuz this guy is ALWAYS going to be J. Jonah Jameson to me. This is PERFECT Casting in a movie that’s already casted so well. “No Job! Freelance!”…oh look, Peter Parker is a millenial like the rest of us hahahahahahasaveushahaha.
  • So now we get this sequence at the World Unity festival and it gets….a little corny. At the risk of sounding like a douche, this is definitely 2002 CGI…and wtf is this goblin-bomb that immediately turns the Oscorp Board into skeletons? But other than that its pretty satisfying to have our first real Spidey vs Goblin battle which ends with him saving MJ and winning the day. He even saves a kid, which is textbook Spider-man and I love it…its the little things with characters like Spidey.
  • Willem Dafoe’s scene where he talks to himself in the mirror just settles it, this guy would’ve been the best comic movie villain of the 2000’s if it wasn’t for Heath Ledger’s Joker. I’d honestly be okay if they never touched Green Goblin again…but of course they will.
  • I skipped a bunch so I don’t get redundant, but this end fight between Goblin and Spidey…holy shit Spidey gets his ASS KICKED. I actually like it, it always irked me when a Superhero suddenly had mastery of their powers within a few minutes of screen-time. This is such an emotionally driven fight and these actors are really conveying that..and by the end you actually feel kinda BAD for how Norman dies because there’s a small hint of him still left as soon as he gets stabbed by the glider (because he was faking before…I think) and I didn’t realize how GOOD of a set-up this was for Harry going crazy in the next two movies. Character development, y’all…its my favorite part of any movie.
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Okay, I laughed.

During this re-watch, I realized that this movie didn’t age as well with cinematography, but it more than makes up for it with story and characters. Despite it being a little cheesy, I do admire how much heart the direction and acting had to make the overall product something unique for its time. It feels surprisingly real, and I think that’s why this movie broke box office records in 2002. “Spider-man” is a fantastic origin story for an extremely lovable character, and leaves audiences moved, charmed, and wanting to see more..and they accomplished this without jerking themselves off and setting up a universe (hold on to that, seriously…because I promise you its going to come up again in this series). Tune in next week for the next part of the series, aka one of my favorite movies ever! As for this part, “Spider-man” gets a 8/10

Doctor Strange – Movie Review

IMAX 3D almost had me actually believing in magic.

Doctor Strange is the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the 2nd movie of Phase 3. It tells the story of an arrogant, cocky, and egotistical Surgeon who loses the ability to use his hands, thereby making him useless at his job. To find an answer, he turns to mystical forces and ends up becoming a skilled practitioner of magic.

This actually meant a lot going forward for the MCU. For one thing, Strange is another B-list superhero (like Ironman was before 2008) to now become a huge part of this universe. The main thing was that magic was now being introduced to the MCU, which adds another layer to the scale of power among our heroes. So far, we’ve really only seen “magical” things from the Asgardians and the Infinity Stones, with most of our heroes having some connection to science instead (building suits, gamma rays, serums, genetically-altered spiders, etc). To have the kind of magic that Strange practices be introduced and to now have it there to play a big part going forward gives the storytellers another dimension (pun intended) to work with, and that’s exciting!

Now I’m not going to sit here and lie to you, despite that last paragraph…this is still your above-average introduction/set-up movie that we’ve seen in the MCU before. With all the new things we’ve been seeing recently like heroes against each other, villain team ups, the government getting involved, it was only a matter of time before we went back to formula: Dude has personality flaw, dude gets powers, dude learns something, generic villain, funny parts, entertaining scenes, set-up for next movie, done.

Fortunately…the Marvel Studios team just knows how to do this damn well by now that they could probably do it with their eyes closed at this point.

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First things first, the VISUAL EFFECTS IN THIS MOVIE ARE AMAZING. I’ve never watched a movie in IMAX in my life, and after seeing what the pre-release reviews were saying about this film, I took the recommendation and put on those 3D glasses..and I’m so happy that I did. Look, I never learned all the technical camera work and I know very little about the special effects side of a movie. What I can tell you is that the effects in this movie were jaw-dropping, and since its actually watchable unlike most movies known for great effects (looking at you, Transformers), it all adds to the cinematic experience. I HIGHLY recommend seeing this movie in 3D.

As far as the cast goes, no problems here either. Benedict Cucumber Cabbage Patch portrayed the character of Stephen Strange very well, as an asshole who isn’t exactly a charming one like Tony Stark is. Tilda Swinton* also did a great job as the Ancient One, the Sorcerer Supreme who teaches Strange and plays a large role in the story. I’d like to mention Mads Mikkelson as well, he was actually great as Kaecillius. It just sucks that we got disposable MCU villain #508789,  I wish he got a better story and was in the movie more.

*Look, I’m bummed that they didn’t cast within the ethnicity too, but she did really well and it didn’t feel like any sort of appropriation or BS at all. In fact at one point she was teaching Strange something that I recognized as the main lesson in the Bhagavad Gita (Hinduism) and she actually said it correctly…trust me, I’d know. The fact of the matter is, a Tibetan character would’ve lost Marvel and Disney millions of dollars in overseas sales and would’ve pissed off China, aka where a significant part of production is outsourced. I know I’ll probably catch heat for this but I’m just going to point out that so far the MCU has been cautious about this kind of stuff and isn’t trying to offend anyone. Examples just off the top of my head: I read that Elizabeth Olsen was promised that she would never have to wear the comic-style Scarlet Witch costume, which is basically just underwear and a cape, so that the character wouldn’t be sexualized. Plus, if you haven’t seen Luke Cage yet, Marvel definitely held it down for a huge minority group and did it really well . Look, all I’m saying is just give the movie a chance before you judge it off of ONE bad casting decision if you like the MCU, you’ll like this. Okay *sigh* moving on!

I will say that the movie is really exposition heavy, but doesn’t give too much on some of the stuff you’d want to hear more about. By the time you get to the last act, there is some stuff the audience potentially could still be fuzzy on, which I think could’ve been solved by giving more on Kaecillius as I previously mentioned. The character of Mordo is set-up very well and I’m excited to see more of them, so I will give props for that.

Lastly, I will commend the movie for doing one thing I was looking for. Obviously, Strange is very new to sorcery, talented or not. To have the villain in this film be masters and people who have done this better/earlier than he has makes it so that Strange is the inexperienced underdog. What I was worried about was that the movie would just go “Well, he’s Dr. Strange. So he’s really good. Boom. Hero. Villain down”. What actually happened was interesting, because at the end of the day Strange used his quick wit and intelligence (something he had from the start) to end up saving the day, despite still not being as powerful as his comrades and his enemies. This now gives him a few movies worth of off-screen time to master his abilities and be ready to bring the mystical hammer down in the next Avengers movie, and its cool that they didn’t just overpower him right away (well…I mean he is ridiculously powerful, but that’s just the magic. Like I said before, they’re adding a new layer to the power scaling. He will get better too, so if you watch this movie and his abilities seem to be a bit unfair, just remember that its different! And besides…just wait till we get Carol Danvers…ooh boy.)

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All in all, Doctor Strange couldn’t top the thrills we received in Civil War, but did its job well and is a great transition into the new stories we’ll see in Phase 3. Strange gets a 7.5/10

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That’s all for now,
Soggz out!