Avengers: Endgame Review

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It’s finally here. Endgame marks the end of the Infinity Saga, the story that began 11 years ago with the release of Iron Man. Few could have predicted how massive the Marvel Cinematic Universe would become. It is a continuing pop culture event, and Endgame is unarguably the biggest of them all. This movie is the direct sequel to last year’s Infinity War, which had Thanos wipe out half the universe’s life. It was a gloomy ending, and here we are at the endgame.

Avengers: Endgame is an achievement in film, and easily one of the most ambitious movies ever made. The climax is one everyone will be talking about for years to come. There are many fantastic moments that pay off from the previous films. The Russo Brothers have proven to be masters at juggling so many characters with Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War. That continues with Endgame. The film does have some problems however, making it, as a whole, the weakest of the Avengers films. It is a true spectacle, but with some controversial decisions that hurt the experience at times.

The Good

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The film’s first act is fantastic, as a fractured Avengers are now dealing with a world that has lost so many individuals. Steve Rogers encouraging others in a support group was really good. What I personally liked was the overall sad atmosphere of the first act. One of my personal favorite characters was Black Widow, easily Scarlett Johansson’s most compelling performance as the character. We see she was hit very hard by the events of Infinity War, as she considered the Avengers the only thing she had at that point.

Part of the first act focuses on Tony Stark stranded in space alongside Nebula. The scene with Stark recording into the Iron Man helmet for hopefully Pepper to hear was genuinely emotional. Tony was a big highlight throughout the film, and like Johansson, this is probably Robert Downey Jr.’s best performance yet as the character. Meanwhile, Nebula’s contribution cannot be overstated. Her character arc has come full circle here, from being the revenge-driven sister in Guardians of the Galaxy, to hero in Endgame.

Scott Lang was a lot of fun here. There’s a sense of urgency to his character that was really well done. (His wanting Captain America’s respect is also one of the funniest running jokes.) The film’s middle act was certainly unique, and though I didn’t love certain aspects of it, one can’t deny that it was an inventive way to celebrate 11 years.

The final good thing I will mention is the climax. The sudden build-up was excellent, and when all heck breaks loose, the viewer cannot turn away. This is the type of final battle that must be viewed on the big screen. The scope is unimaginable, beating out any kind of climax you can think of, from The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, to The Matrix Revolutions. Captain America was at his finest here, showing that he really is the greatest hero of them all. Of course, as you see in the final trailer, the big three – Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor unite for a battle against Thanos. It is as glorious as it sounds.

The Bad

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While most of the characters were on point and engaging, there were questionable decisions regarding two main Avengers. First, we have Thor. After the first act, Thor’s character goes in an unexpected direction, and arguably not a good one. Sure, it will get some laughs, but in retrospect, was the direction good, or was it just played for comedy? Honestly, the trinity uniting was slightly hindered by the way Thor was portrayed, especially after such a great outing in Thor: Ragnarok. Simply put, Thor’s portrayal was more controversial (negative) than the direction Hulk was given in Infinity War. Speaking of Hulk…

Like with Thor, the direction Hulk/Bruce Banner took was unexpected. It was interesting, but once again, it seemed to be played more for comedy at times, though to a lesser extent than with Thor thankfully. After Hulk’s appearance in Infinity War, many were hoping for a character arc where Hulk would come back and face Thanos. That does not happen. In fact, Hulk doesn’t do anything notable in the climax, which was a huge letdown. At this point, it really does seem like Marvel doesn’t know what to do with the Hulk’s character.

So, regarding the middle act, there was definitely something fun and inventive to it. There were a couple of good emotional aspects as well. But, at the same time, it did feel kinda disjointed from the first act. While the first act was somber in tone, the middle had more of a jokey feel. I’m not saying the whole film had to be somber, but the rather lighthearted nature of the second act didn’t mesh well with the serious happenings of other parts of the movie. Infinity War did a better job at balancing humor with the seriousness of the situation.

The Verdict

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Endgame has a great opening act, a mixed second, and a perfect/beautiful conclusion. The film may not be perfect as a whole, but it is satisfying on many levels. The final battle itself is worth paying the ticket for. Many of the characters are at their best. Sadly, Thor and Hulk fans may be left feeling betrayed. Still, their direction shouldn’t be enough to ruin the story. Endgame is a cinematic event, with thrills, laughs, and yes, tears. It has some of the most emotional sequences of any MCU film. The film serves as a great conclusion to a few longtime character arcs. If anyone wanted to step away from the MCU, Endgame does a good job at providing closure. However, the future is bright, as there are many new things to look forward to. Endgame is not only an end, but also a new beginning.

8.5/10

Captain Marvel Review

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It’s a big year for Marvel Studios. Next month, Avengers: Endgame releases, a film that will end Phase 3. Then in July, Spider-Man will be back and heads to Europe where Mysterio will make his big screen debut. Before all this however, we are introduced to a band new player to the universe: Carol Danvers, known as Captain Marvel. This movie serves a few different purposes. Of course, it introduces a powerful new character to the film universe. It is the first female-led Marvel Studios film. It also bridges to Infinity War, as we learn about the relationship between Nick Fury and Ms. Marvel. Finally, it shows how Fury came up with the idea for the Avenger initiative, an unexpected, nice touch.

Carol has had a prominent role in the comics in recent history, and thanks to the movie, it’s only going to get bigger. Brie Larson, last seen as a photographer in Kong: Skull Island, brings the character to life. It’s a unique take on an origin story, and has surprising plot twists that radically change how the story is viewed. As a whole, Captain Marvel is solid. It’s an enjoyable film with especially great performances from Samuel L. Jackson as Fury, and Ben Mendelsohn as Talos.

The story begins with Carol (at this time known as “Vers”), training with Yon-Rogg (Jude Law.) Yon-Rogg is a leader of the Kree Starforce, an intergalactic band of soldiers whose task is to bring down the Skrulls. The Skrulls are shapeshifters, making them potentially deadly enemies. After a meeting with the Kree’s Supreme Intelligence, Carol is given the okay to join the team on a mission. That mission ends up going bad, as Carol is tricked by a Skrull named Talos. Carol is taken to a Skrull base, where she’s forced to relive memories she has no recollection of. Thanks to her Kree powers, she is able to escape, and crash lands on Earth. Skrulls follow her, including Talos. Now, Earth is seemingly in danger, but things may not be what they seem…

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Carol Danvers is established early on as a headstrong character with a sarcastic wit. It’s not all jokes though. Carol does show scenes of feeling, such as her conversation with Yon-Rogg about the picture she found of her life on Earth. Brie Larson brings a likable charm as Captain Marvel. I would have liked to see more of those emotional scenes, because the “sarcastic character ” is nothing new in these movies. This film does not go overboard with jokes or one-liners however, as was the case in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. and Thor: The Dark World. Although I didn’t get that same inspiring persona as Gal Gadot emitted in Wonder Woman, I am looking forward to seeing more of Carol. One of the most effective sequences (and great example of editing) was in the climax, as it shows that Carol had fallen down many times throughout her life – but she always got back up.

The early space mission was engaging. It introduced the Skrulls as a big threat, and featured good choreography on a gloomy planet. While the space stuff is good, a lot of the best parts of the film are actually back on Earth. Once Carol crash lands on Blockbuster, the fun rarely stops. From Carol walking into Radio Shack to establish communications, to Fury’s first dialogue with her, there’s a lot of great moments. Speaking of Fury, right from his meeting with Ms. Marvel, viewers know they’re in for a treat. Fury is much like his current self, but less hardened due to not being exposed to these otherworldly dangers up until this point. What we have is an extremely fun character, who works really well alongside Carol. This is personally one of my favorite buddy cop duos I’ve seen in awhile.

The most interesting character might be Talos. Ben Mendelsohn plays this Skrull with perfect charisma. Perhaps the best scene in the movie is in Maria Rambeau’s house. There was such great tension thanks to Talos. He has easily become one of the best characters in the MCU.  Meanwhile, Coulson appearing as “the new guy” was fun. It’s a shame he didn’t have a bigger role. What’s even more disappointing is Ronan the Accuser. When it was announced that this character, who first appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, would be featured in Captain Marvel, fans were thrilled. But, it ended up being like a few glorified cameos. It would have been great to learn more about him, and what led him to become the psychopath seen in Guardians. This was definitely a missed opportunity.

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Another big character is Yon-Rogg. Here’s the thing: he was great in the first half of the movie, but then his character takes a different turn in the second. Jude Law portrayed the character of a mentor perfectly, bringing a sense of calm authority. But, this goes away because (spoiler) it’s revealed that he’s the one who killed Carol’s superior. Technically, this is a smart plot twist. But, Yon-Rogg just isn’t that interesting as a villain. Even Law’s performance took a dip – he was great as a mentor, but as an antagonist, it came off as run of the mill.

Captain Marvel features some great settings for actions scenes. Of course, we already discussed the film’s opening act on another planet. On Earth, there’s a great sequence inside an airforce warehouse. We’re also treated to action inside a Skrull spaceship, and later a Kree one. Of course, there’s also the train battle, probably the most memorable. The soundtrack definitely enhances these sequences, making use of some ’90s songs.

For a few last notes, the friendship between Maria Rambeau and Carol felt genuine. I also liked the scenes with Carol and Maria’s daughter, Monica (longtime comic readers will recognize her). Their sequence toward the climax was a very fun way for Carol to get the iconic costume. Oh, there’s also Goose, the cat-like creature. He was definitely fun to have around, but virtually nothing is known about him, which is a shame. He just kinda shows up, and then appears as a deus ex machina when needed. There’s definitely a cool aspect to Goose, but he could have used just a hint of backstory.

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Overall, Captain Marvel is yet another solid film in Marvel’s ongoing library. It doesn’t quite reach the quality of Black Panther, however. Carol herself could have used more compelling scenes, and Jude Law’s character ended up being a disappointment. But, the positives outweigh the negatives. Carol is still a very fun character that is portrayed nicely by Larson. The scenes with her and Nick are priceless, and feature some of the best exchanges from these films. Talos was also excellent – hopefully Marvel isn’t done with this character. All in all, this is a very good film with likable characters, fun action, and some great ’90s backdrops. (Hopefully you didn’t miss the Game Boy.)

8.5/10

Black Panther Review

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Let me start this review by saying how unique of a film Black Panther is. It’s as if the viewer is transported to a different culture. We’re very used to seeing the New York setting in comic book films, so it’s refreshing to see a new setting. The African scenery is beautiful. There’s a scene late in the film where T’Challa shows N’Jadaka a view of Wakanda, showcasing the fictional country’s splendor. The unique setting doesn’t hide mediocre performances either. Some films have stylistic scenery, but mediocre writing. Not so in Black Panther, where almost every major character is well developed and engaging. It’s tough to say if Black Panther is the best made Marvel film to date with films like Captain America: The Winter Solider and Iron Man. It very well could be, because Director Ryan Coogler gives viewers a well paced, developed story with fantastic characters.

The story takes place shortly after the events of Captain America: Civil War. In that film, King T’Chaka (T’Challa’s father) was killed and T’Challa assumed the mantle of Black Panther. Here in his titled movie, T’Challa officially becomes Wakanda’s king. Meanwhile, Ulysses Klaue, last seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, is still on the loose and working with a black-ops soldier named Erik Stevens, nicknamed Killmonger. T’Challa makes a plan to capture Klaue, but Killmonger ends up being a bigger threat, because he has personal ties to Wakanda…

In Civil War, Black Panther’s character arc was that of revenge for the death of his father. At the end however, T’Challa let go of that desire for revenge. In his title film, we get to see T’Challa take on the center focus. With the revenge story out of the way, what would his character arc be? To put it simply, to display his love for his country as its new king. Chadwick Boseman is a standout as the title character. The performance is very likable. Unlike many of the other Marvel protagonists, T’challa is rarely sarcastic, instead coming off as more of a subdued character with just the right amount of humor. (If there was too much humor, it would have ruined the flow of the story.) T’challa is an engaging character, and viewers get a sense throughout of how passionate he is. A good scene demonstrating that passion is late in the story, when T’Challa shouts at his ancestors that they were wrong for not being more involved with the world outside Wakanda.

It’s always a treat when the whole cast is excellent. This is the case with Black Panther. His sister, Shuri, is a fun character throughout the story. She being something of the Lucius Fox to T’Challa made for an interesting dynamic, and the banter between the two siblings was organic and genuinely funny. Nakia and Okoye get substantial roles, and both are compelling characters. Nakia’s sense of duty to helping those less fortunate, and Okoye’s unwavering loyalty to the throne made for interesting dynamics. There are a lot of strong performances in this movie.

Klaue’s brief appearance in Age of Ultron was notable, because the titular robot ripped off his arm. In this film, Klaue has a chance to be seen as a compelling character. Aside from some forced, unrealistic dialogue like “That was awesome!”, Klaue is a fun character, with highlights being his scenes at the Korean casino and his interrogation with Everett K. Ross.

Klaue however is not the primary antagonist, that would be N’Jadaka/Killmonger. The Marvel films have a history with mediocre villains, but that isn’t the case here. Sure, some of Killmonger’s dialogue is generic. (“The world took everything from me!”) But overall, Killmonger is an interesting character with ties to T’Challa’s family. The opening scene set in 1992 is nicely tied into what motivates Killmonger to want to kill T’Challa. Similar to Thor realizing that Odin was not the perfect being he idolized in Thor: Ragnarok, T’Challa is given the revelation that his father made a controversial decision, thus ruining T’Challa’s perfect view of his father. Killmonger’s street type of talking makes for an interesting contrast to the more noble-sounding Wakandians One of Killmonger’s best scenes is his ritual battle with T’Challa. Here, Killmonger demonstrates genuine passion when mocking T’Challa in front of the onlookers.

There are some other named characters that should be mentioned. M’Baku, known as Man-Ape in the comics, was an interesting character. W’Kabi was decent, but needed more development. Finally, there’s the CIA agent, Everett K. Ross. While some may see him as an Agent Coulson stand-in, he was nonetheless fun to have around. He bordered on being unrealistic for the sake of laughs at times, but never quite crossed that border into the Erik Selvig land of no return.

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The sequences are extremely well done in this film. Perhaps the best part was the casino sequence. First, the build-up was interesting because of the change of scenery. T’Challa travels to Korea, which is in stark contrast to the vibrant land of Wakanda. The scenes in the casino are full of tension because the viewer knows something is about to go down. Black Panther does not disappoint in the action department, featuring well choreographed sequences such as the outbreak at the casino and the climatic battle at the heart of Wakanda.

If the review hasn’t made it apparent by now, I’ll summarize what makes Black Panther good: the writing. The characters and their interactions are excellent, and the overall tone is consistent. It doesn’t traverse into ultra-dark territory, but it lacks the constant gags of other Marvel movies. That’s not to say the tone of the other Marvel movies is negative, because it has worked for the most part. But, what’s special about Black Panther is that it doesn’t rely on gags or funny scenes; it relies on the core characters and story. The only discrepancy in the writing I found was right before the journey to Korea. Shuri asks T’Challa if he thinks it’s a good idea to take his ex on a mission. That line of dialogue didn’t need to be there, because it doesn’t become a focus at all when at the casino. Moving past that, the soundtrack is notable. As I said earlier, the film transports the viewer to a different culture, and the music is part of that, providing some unique sounds we don’t typically hear in these movies.

Overall, Black Panther is a great movie. Chadwick Boseman delivers a fantastic performance as the title character. He is assisted by an excellent cast of compelling characters. Nakia, Okoye, and Shuri are particularly strong characters, each with their own unique personality. Killmonger is an engaging antagonist. The action scenes are great, and the pacing is adequate. The film is a special one among the Marvel movies, worthy of acquiring its 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, the highest rated Marvel Studios film as of the publishing of this review.

9/10

Thor: Ragnarok Review

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On August of 1962, Journey Into Mystery #83 released on the newsstands. That issue is legendary because, according to the cover, it stars “the most exciting super-hero of all time!” That hero is the mighty Thor. From that issue, Thor would become one of Marvel’s biggest characters, appearing in his own ongoing series and as a founding member of the Avengers. Thor was well known to comic fans, but not very well known with the general public, as with other Marvel characters that weren’t Spider-Man or Hulk. That changed when the Marvel Cinematic Universe began, making Iron Man a household name and eventually Thor as well in 2011.

The God of Thunder now joins Iron Man and Captain America with a third film. The Thor films are fun, but not examples of quality storytelling. (I’m still wondering what the thought process was with Erik Selvig in The Dark World.) So it wouldn’t be hard for Ragnarok to pass its predecessors. It goes far beyond that however: Ragnarok is an immensely entertaining film. Director Taika Waititi delivers one of the best Marvel movies to date.

The film opens up with narration from the God of Thunder himself as he’s tied up. It turns out he let himself be captured so he can get to the fire demon known as Surtur. This opening sequence defines the MCU in a nutshell: good fun. That can be a negative thing when taken to the extreme. (That was the case in this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.) But Ragnarok rarely takes its lighthearted nature too far. The opening scene felt like something straight out of a comic book. It’s a treat to see Thor do battle with Surtur, the demon’s minions, and eventually a dragon. The story continues when Thor finds out Loki has been impersonating Odin. It turns out Odin is on Earth, and with a little help from Dr. Strange (the entire sequence with Strange was short, but very memorable) the brothers find their father. Sadly, Hela, the Goddess of Death, emerges soon after.

Hela’s arrival was exciting, and that’s mainly thanks to the atmosphere, costume design, and of course Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of the character. Hela’s much marketed scene of her breaking Mjolnir was a game changer and cemented her as a menace like no other. Loki calls for a bridge escape and Hela follows, causing things to go out of whack. Thor lands on a planet named Sakaar while Hela looks to take over Asgard.

Let’s talk about Thor’s time at Sakaar, which comprises the middle act of the film. The gladiator setting was unique and had quite a few memorable characters. Valkyrie’s plotline was one of the most engaging. It’s an interesting development when Thor realizes she’s Asgardian, and later when Loki forces her to remember her past of Hela killing her comrades. Jeff Goldblum’s portrayal of the Grandmaster has charismatic flare, such as in the scene when he vaporized his own cousin. (As gross as it was, Thor’s reaction was a little hard to believe however.) Finally, Korg was fun, and he thankfully got to appear in the climax.

Chris Hemsworth’s Thor has come a long way since 2011. In this film he talks about being a hero quite often. I wasn’t sold on Hemsworth in previous films, but here he’s excellent. What’s interesting is that a major part of his development is how he fights without his hammer in the climax. It’s always an interesting concept when a character’s primary weapon is destroyed/taken away. Next, as seen heavily in the marketing, the Hulk is featured as a major character. Mark Ruffalo took on the role starting in The Avengers, where he was excellent. Since then, Marvel has pushed a character arc on Bruce Banner/the Hulk, starting in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hasn’t worked.

Bruce Banner was a man sure of himself and in control of the Hulk in The Avengers. Then for some unexplained reason in the sequel, that development went away and Hulk was back to being uncontrollable. In Ragnarok, Banner isn’t in control when Hulk appears. Hulk’s mind is small compared to Banner’s, and as a result, Hulk comes off as childlike. This leads to some funny scenes, but Hulk isn’t too engaging as a character. (It would have been more interesting to see a Hulk more like from the show Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.) This is not to say the Hulk wasn’t fun to have around. The gladiator battle sequence against Thor was one of the film’s highlights. Bruce Banner also appears, and has a few humorous scenes. But like in Age of Ultron, he isn’t as engaging as his appearance in the first Avengers.

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The Marvel films are typically good, but the antagonists can sometimes be mediocre. Examples include Darren Cross from Ant-Man, Malekith from The Dark World, among others. Hela is one of the Marvel villains that can thankfully be called “great.” As already stated earlier, her emergence is genuinely menacing. Cate Blanchett brings grandeur to her portrayal as she tells Thor and Loki to kneel before their queen. Hela continues to be a highlight, as she arrives in Asgard and begins to take over. Her backstory is fascinating. In fact, it’s so fascinating, that it was a missed opportunity to not show some of it in flashback. This could have been useful in the late middle act. There’s this long stretch with Thor on Sakaar with no scenes of Hela that could have benefited with a flashback showing her time with Odin.

As for other characters, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is once again a lot of fun. One never 100% knows which side he’s on. He and Thor work really well together, such as when they team up late in the middle act. Odin doesn’t appear too much, but when he does, one can expect a scene of authority. Viewers learn intriguing backstory about Odin’s past with Hela, giving more dimension to his character. (It’s truly a shame there wasn’t a big flashback sequence.) Skurge goes through a character arc as he becomes the reluctant Executioner for Hela. It’s easy to see what the film was going for, but Scurge never came off as sympathetic or engaging.

One of the best aspects of this film is its pacing. The film never hits a boring moment, which is thanks to the excellent action and fun characters. From the opening sequence to the showdown with Hela, the film has quite a few exciting action pieces. I’ve already mentioned Hulk versus Thor in the ring, but it deserves a second shout out for being a particularly fun sequence. The soundtrack is Marvel’s strongest since the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Ragnarok’s music is stylistic and makes excellent use of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song.’

Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is one of the most entertaining Marvel movies to date. It never slows down and the storyline is engaging. This is thanks in large part to Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Hela. The Goddess of Death commands the scene every time she’s on screen. Thor is also great. His mission is to get back to Asgard, but he’s stranded on an unknown planet. This makes for an interesting middle act. Hulk is a fun inclusion that never steals the show away from the title character. As a whole, most of the characters bring something to the table. Ragnarok is an exciting film.

9/10

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

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We are living in quite an interesting era for the comic book film landscape. Spider-Man got his first film all the way back in 2002, 15 years ago. When Marvel launched their Cinematic Universe, the idea of the Webhead fighting alongside the Avengers was nothing but fan fiction at that point. But, in an unprecedented event, a deal between Sony and Marvel allowed Spidey to join the MCU. He debuted in Captain America: Civil War to critical acclaim. To put it simply, it was surreal and a dream come true. Now here we are with Spider-Man’s first solo outing in this continuity and also his fist solo outing since 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. So, with all this pre-hype excitement out of the way, the question has to be asked: Is Spider-Man: Homecoming the best Spidey film yet? It is not, but Director Jon Watts’ film is still fun from beginning to end.

The opening act takes place eight years ago, during the aftermath of the Chitauri Invasion. It’s an interesting way to set up the story, and in this case it’s setting up Adrian Toomes’, (known to comic fans as the Vulture) rise to villainy. I’m all for antagonists getting this kind of treatment in the beginning (and we all know villains in the MCU need to be better) but there’s something hammy to Michael Keaton’s portrayal in this first act. It takes a bit before the Vulture becomes an engaging character. It’s interesting when he brings up how rich people like Tony Stark rule, while working people like him have to eat off the scraps. It’s a solid motivation for him; it’s a shame the writing didn’t do a better job developing that in the beginning. To give some credit, Toomes has some good scenes toward the climax. In the end, Vulture doesn’t solve the ongoing problem of mediocre villains in these films, but he’s a step above villains like Darren Cross and Malekith. As a bonus, the suit design is genuinely menacing.

Of course, the primary reason why one would watch this is to see Spider-Man. For some, this is the first time seeing Spider-Man on the big screen. For others, this is the second rebooted Spider-Man film. Either way, I believe most will be satisfied with Tom Holland’s portrayal of the famous character. Holland portrays this energetic young Peter Parker well. Some particularly strong scenes are when he busts the fake Avengers robbery and when he tries to save the Staten Island Ferry. The writing does a good job bringing the story to street level. An example is the montage early on with Spidey helping the common citizen. (There are plenty of humorous scenes throughout the film, but my favorite comes from this montage – the brief clip of Spidey giving an older woman directions.)

Tom Holland’s portrayal is mostly great, but it can border on the annoying side in a few instances. The video clip early on for example was a bit much after awhile. Also, if one is used to the more adult incarnations of Spider-Man, it could be tough getting used to this 15 year old version. But, I think it’s possible since the writing does a solid job at making this about him discovering how to be a mature hero. One of the most powerful scenes was Tony taking away the Spider suit. Peter claims he’s nothing without the suit. Tony replies, “If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.” Speaking of Tony, Robert Downy Jr. steals the show every scene he’s in. He doesn’t appear too much, which would have taken the spotlight away from Peter. Iron Man appears for just the right amount of screen time.

There’s plenty of fun, fast-paced action. Though, there’s no truly notable battle sequence. Yes, the climax finally featured Spidey dealing blows to the Vulture, but before that the fight scenes were mostly brief. You won’t walk out of the theater saying, “Wow, that was one great action sequence.” Some of the more well done action pieces weren’t fights. The scene where Spidey breaks into the Washington Monument and the one where he attempts to hold the Ferry together were intense. Also, I’m sure longtime fans will appreciate seeing a famous comic scene adapted near the climax. (Personally, I think that particular scene would have been better saved for a future film.) The soundtrack isn’t bad, though not too memorable outside a couple of themes.

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As for the other characters, the most major is Jacob Batalon’s Ned. He was fun to have around; he worked well as a friend and later “guy in the chair” for Peter. Laura Harrier as Liz wasn’t bad. She wasn’t much besides a love interest for Peter. But, to give some credit, she wasn’t devoid of personality. The romance angle wasn’t terrible. In the end, it doesn’t really go anywhere, but without it, it would have been hard to have the well done car scene with Toomes. Zendaya as Michelle was one of the most interesting characters with her unique, quirky personality. It looks like the writing has plans for her in future installments, which is good. Out of all the supporting characters, ironically the standout wasn’t a human – it was Karen, an A.I. built into the Spider-Man suit. One of the best scenes is when Spidey talks with her while being stuck at a base. Oh, we can’t forget Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May. The writing really tries to make her the complete opposite of the original trilogy’s May. It mostly works, but the last scene went a little too far.

Overall, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a solid addition to the Marvel film library, Tom Holland’s energetic outing in Civil War takes the center focus here, and it’s mostly well done. As he should be, Peter is portrayed as an upbeat kid. At its core, the story is about Peter becoming the hero we’ve seen throughout the years in comics. When Tony takes away Peter’s suit, Spidey is forced to reevaluate himself. The Vulture is a decent enough antagonist. There’s enough solid material to avoid calling him a mediocre villain. The action is fun, but it feels like there should have been one more important fight scene. But, despite any negatives, Homecoming remains an engaging watch. By the end, it makes the viewer anticipate Spidey’s future appearances.

8/10