Spider-Man webslinged back in to theaters for the 6th time in 15 years (fucking kill me) this past weekend with a homerun opening of 117M (domestic), which is not surprising for the Marvel Universe, but this film, unlike this year’s predecessors, struggles to entertain and remain a faithful catalyst for supporting characters.
The film opens with Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) as a construction foreman/owner who has taken the job to clean up a mess The Avenger’s made after a long battle in the city, but after hiring a crew, purchasing machinery, and spending money to make money, the U.S. government pulls the plug on Toomes, claiming the wreckage as governement business, leaving Toomes out of a job, in debt, and seeking revenge. Cut to a Martin Scrocese-esque montage of stolen alien hardware in the midlde of mass production for dangerous weapons, with Toomes as the brains of the operation.
We go from this to a homemade movie. Footage shot by Peter Parker (Tom Holland) during his debut in Captain America: Civil War. Peter is brought to a hotel by Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) who is Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) assistant. Parker is handed a suit, engineered by Tony Stark himself, and shoved in to battle. Parker earns his keep, showing his true colors, and after a conversation in the car post battle, Parker has hopes of joining The Avengers, making himself available to Stark at any moment. If only Stark needed him.
Back home, Parker fights crime on his own, battling small time crooks, performing backflips on rooftops, and entertaining himself anyway possible. Not to mention he has to maintain a grade point average, appear at extra curricular activities, and get the girl of his dreams.
It’s not long before Peter reveals himself as the web slinging hero to his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) who almost spills the beans to his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), not to mention classrooms and school mates, opening his mouth enough to land Parker and himself at parties with a social class they don’t belong to.
While attending the party, Parker is distracted by a gun deal in progress, only to discover the new weaponary is engineered and sold by Toomes. From there, it’s a personal battle between Toomes and Parker, the driving force behind any super hero story; a hero and a villain wage war, only to duke it out in a climactic battle. All of this while Parker seeks approval from Tony Stark, evades his Aunt’s personal kindness, and alienates his friends. The essence of Spider-Man remains sturdy; balancing a school life, family life, and a super hero life, Parker is in a world of adventure, secrecy, and wanting to be accepted.
The end result, despite a formulaic approach, is weak in delivery.
Not to mention the script lacks strong structure. The beginning twenty minutes of the film are pure fat. They could be cut and the film would start with Peter Parker in his Spider-Man costume, bored on a rooftop waiting for action to happen, and the audience would not have missed a beat. No matter the script structure, each second is accountable and every page holds value. A note Jon Watts should take, considering Cop Car, Watt’s Freshman film, was a strong script with tough dialogue, in depth characters, tension, and a solid three act structure. This story is a sharp decline from his roots, and one hopes it does not get any worse. Hollywood needs good filmmakers, not men who makes films that dumb America and please China.
Last, is Aunt May’s character… Nevermind, the age is inaccurate to the comic, never mind the back story of her adopting Peter Parker is left out, and never mind the relationship between Aunt May and Peter is lacking emotion at best; there is an underlying tone of an incestual relationship between an Aunt and her Nephew, and it is one that should not go unnoticed. Between Aunt May biting her lip in conversation at a Chinese restaurant, gripping Peter’s suit jacket below the belt, close to his thighs, and watching him change in his bedroom at the end of the movie, it is hard to ignore the obvious, and something director Jon Watts should have caught while filming. Tomei has a reputation in the business for her work ethic, despite that, she holds a responsibility to be professional and so does Watts. Shame on them both for allowing this be planted in to a film, and shame on Marvel for accepting it. Even if it was not intentional, it is certain to be caught by several audience members and disliked by more.