Spider-Man: Homecoming ½

The truth is that there shouldn't be disappointment. I should, by no means, feel disappointed. But, leaving the theater I was confronted with this completely overwhelming feeling of utter tiredness and sadness. After seeing the movie I was messaging one of my friends who asked why it's so poor and why I disliked it so much and my exact words were, "t's more MCU garbage but this time it's Spider-Man and it feels fucking personal". That big, fat 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, the incredibly positive consensus on social media, it just proves that Marvel has won, they've won over everyone, critics and audiences alike, with their openly corporatized, overly-produced piece of modern-era junk. It proves that, for the time being, good, creative films have lost, stuck in a sea of big-budget corporatized products which seek to homogenize other money-making properties in an endless pursuit of more, more, & more money and less, less, & less artistic freedom. There's no feeling I like less as a film watcher than coming out hating a movie, especially a movie featuring a character I kinda most definitely really enjoy, but I didn't just leave the theater hating Spider-Man Homecoming, I came out dissatisfied with the current film environment, angry at those who allow movies like this to get made.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is nothing but another in a long line of process-paneled, audience-tested products, designed to put "story" and "character" ahead of form & thematics, it's clear from the very first image exactly what this movie is going to be- a wide shot of Avengers tower over the skyline of NYC, this isn't the New York of Raimi's trilogy, a seemingly endless city of verve and excitement, where the citizens are passionate about their home and Spider-Man the icon of the people, no, this is the New York of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a place where in-jokes and easter egg references are leaned on far more heavily than genuine emotion and well-developed characters. When the film culminates in a scene at the all-gray, completely concrete Avengers home base, dominated by garish CGI, it's obvious just how much of a cash grab this film is.

I don't know if Jon Watts is a good director. I really don't. It's impossible to tell from this, although the direction here is probably the worst I've seen so far this year, because Marvel reshoots everything and rarely allows directors creative freedom to take risks and do something visually interesting. It's obvious that the sense of color from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has been removed completely, this again looks just like the ugly, grey, concrete aesthetic of Captain America: Civil War (which is interesting because the film actually opens with that scene shot from Spider-Man's perspective), which is a shame because if any hero's movie should have an abundance of color it's Spider-Man's. This movie just gets literally everything wrong- it gets high school movies wrong, it gets character dynamics wrong, it does Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Laura Harrier, Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Donald Glover wrong (egregiously), it gets movie-making wrong, it gets villains like Shocker & Scorpion wrong (they're here, but they are barely recognizable, their flamboyant and colorful comics costumes having been removed). Marvel claims to be all about character but the way the leads and the villain are treated here come off as not as genuine but instead as written for maximum recognizability, characters like Flash Thompson & Liz Allen especially, the filmmakers never punish Peter for the horrible way he treats Liz over the course of the film, and her exit leaves a bad taste in the mouth, as she suffers way more than she deserves to. Perhaps the most egregious example of this way of treating character is the MJ drop at the end- I have no doubt that Zendaya could make an excellent Mary Jane, but that reference came off as one of the worst references in a comic book movie since "Robin" in The Dark Knight Rises.

Robert Downey Jr. isn't an actor anymore; by this point he's been reduced to more of a special effect, a prop, a wind-up toy Kevin Feige can set up in front of the camera, start rolling, and have him do his usual shtick before winding back down again and going back in the closet, ready for whenever they need to wind him back up. If there's anything that screams "corporate product" more than the garish, ugly aesthetic, lack of interesting images, generically marketable plot, useless cameos by notable young-adult actors, or forced, rushed villain arc it's how RDJ & Tom Holland are treated here. Both are solid actors, Holland gives a fine performance, but both are utilized more as machines than as actors, cogs in a wheel that keeps spinning & spinning & spinning and spitting out money & more money until eventually either the wheel falls off the track and these actors are left scrambling for cover or the wheel gets bigger & bigger & too big and dominates all of moviemaking until there is nothing left but Spider-Man toys and Iron Man Blu-Rays and these actors don't get to act in anything else.

There isn't a single good image or setpiece or edit or memorable moment throughout the course of the whole picture. There are jokes, but not enough drama to balance out the jokes, leaving the whole affair feeling lifeless and pastiche. The film is a joke, it's a joke which has all of Hollywood buying into it, not catching onto it's comedy- because if Homecoming is anything, it's a huge cry to end this thing now, purge it, destroy it all, burn it to the ground. Rebuild it, give it to the directors, give it to the creatives, don't allow the producers to choke all life and passion out of these films in an attempt to make money. But, sadly, there are very few people getting the joke right now. And it looks like things are only going to get worse, the wheel is only going to get larger, leaving moviemaking, actors, creatives, stumbling and reeling in its wake.

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