Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

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www.hypergeeky.comMarvel Studios brought home a big prize back in 2015 when they announced they had partnered with Sony Pictures to bring Spider-Man into the MCU. The Internet broke, and hope was renewed that Marvel could one day bring back other franchises sold off to other studios during a time of financial crisis.

As celebration turned into speculation, Marvel explained they weren’t going to explore Spider-Man’s origin story and that his introduction would come in Captain America: Civil War. The cameo was stellar, and the hype for Homecoming (the title, not so much) went through the roof.

The single best decision for the movie was the exclusion of an origin story — which would have made it the third retelling in 15 years. Spider-Man: Homecoming arrives ready to go, and he’s a bit more evolved than any previous version’s first single-movie appearance.

First, he’s got Iron Man upgrades — a nigh-indestructible suit and high-tech webshooters. Second, his resume’s stacked. Toby Maguire ended his first movie after taking on the Green Goblin. When the opening credits roll on Tom Holland’s Homecoming, he’s already fought one-half of the Avengers.

Which is sort of how Homecoming starts — a quick recap of the events in home-movie form shows Peter Parker getting his new suit and waiting for Tony Stark’s “Underoos!” signal at the airport where the Avengers implode. Parker, at this point, is a 15-year-old whose exuberance seems a little misplaced given he’s about to throw down against half of the world’s greatest heroes.

Thankfully, nothing too crazy happens to Parker, and Stark brings him home. Parker’s given a fine line of responsibility by his new mentor — “Don’t do anything I would do, and definitely don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. There’s a little gray area in there, and that’s where you operate.” Parker gets to keep his suit, and his tenure as the neighbor-hood friendly Spider-Man officially begins, though he frequently laments that he’d rather hang out with the Avengers.

While Homecoming doesn’t go through the motions of another origin story, it’s still very much a walkthrough of Spider-Man’s first steps as a superhero sponsored by Stark. When best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) hacks into the suit and removes the babysteps protocol, Spider-Man gets all of the cheat codes starting with an AI, similar to Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S. A host of settings that allow him to change his voice, shoot a few hundred different combinations of webbing, and control a flying drone round out the mix, and Spider-Man uses them to full effect in taking on an underground arms dealer who’s made a business of selling overpowered Chitauri weapons.

It’s a Spider-Man built for the technology age, and it’s a solid film — though it has some glaring drawbacks.

First, the movie really made me feel my age — as a 37-year-old, I am not exactly the movie’s demographic. Set in high school with all that entails, Parker has to navigate between his duties as an academic, his crush on the senior Liz (Laura Harrier), and dodging bullies like Flash (Tony Revolori).

And while we’re working under the assumption that Uncle Ben ultimately left Peter with the words, “With great power comes great responsibility,” the movie maintains a fine balance in that gray area that unfortunately doesn’t give us much emotion to draw from — no real big highs and no sorrowful lows. Though Tomei imbues Aunt May with a little anxiety that gives us a consequence of what happened on that fateful night, we never really see Peter dealing with the death of his uncle or the aftermath of it. It’s as if this movie takes place just after Parker’s been absolved of all guilt and regret regarding Ben’s death. While we get to see him stretch his wings, we never feel that closeness because we weren’t in those emotional trenches with him. We get all the joy but none of the pain, which is perhaps why every Batman ever (it seems like it, anyway) mentions the Wayne deaths. It is the why, and Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn’t really include that.

His foil, Michael Keaton’s villainous turn as a bomber-jacket wearing jetpack pilot Adrian Toomes, never gets an official name in the movie — though he’s basically the MCU’s Vulture. A former 99-percenter, Toomes turns his back on the law, resorting to illegal arms trade with harvested Chitauri and alien technology in order to keep his company and its employees working. The conflict between Spider-Man and Toomes ends with a tremendous impact on Parker’s personal life, but before we can really get into deep water, we’re brought back to the shallow end.

Parker’s motivation for being a superhero is a fantasy. Back when I was a kid, we all played that game — what superpowers would you want and why? Parker gets superhuman strength and agility along with Stark technology, and he runs with it like any teenager would. There is joy in seeing this as a Spider-Man fan, but it isn’t until the second half of the movie that he becomes a more familiar version of the webslinger that we know and love — flawed, conflicted, and filled with true purpose.

I could write a few paragraphs on it, but what better to describe the essence of Spider-Man than his television theme song which goes something like this:

“Spider-Man, Spider-Man. Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Wealth and fame, he’s ignored. Action is his reward.”

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Alien: Covenant Review

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www.hypergeeky.comNever has an Alien movie felt so rote — so … familiar.

Looking back, each film in the series had something new or original to offer, even if the overall package was hit or miss.

The first two films are considered classics — rightly so and each for varying reasons. The first film, Alien, was a gripping horror movie that gave science fiction movies a new angle. Its sequel, James Cameron’s Aliens, went the more-is-better route, giving audiences a war movie pitting human forces against an overwhelming and superior company of predators.

Subsequent movies weren’t as well-received — Alien 3 went through numerous rewrites, and the final result felt like a letdown in contrast to what could have been. Alien: Resurrection went far into the future with a cloned Ripley and an interesting cast of characters, but it lacked the spirit of previous films.

And the prequel Prometheus tried to expand the lore while exploring religious and moral plot points. Many felt it was too convoluted and messy, while others critiqued it for silly characters who just couldn’t keep themselves from dying.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Review

www.hypergeeky.comThe first Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge success for Marvel, and I’m not just talking about box office receipts.

Naysayers worried about “the big risk” of making a movie with a talking raccoon and his companion, a talking tree with only one scripted line. It was the comic-book movie projected it to fail — a potentially huge failure to launch that had Hollywood analysts holding their heads in fear of the impending collapse of Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe.

But Guardians of the Galaxy soared despite being one of Marvel’s lesser-known comic book titles, and viewers were treated to the best Star Wars movie of this generation (Rogue One included). That raccoon and talking tree became the talk of the town, and merchandise sales added more to Disney’s coffers. A sequel was inevitable — failure, or no — and thanks to the successes of the first, the onus to get audiences to buy in has been tabled and replaced with the freedom to build up and off characters, settings, and major threats.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 kicks off just as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and company get ready to fulfill their latest job — inter-dimensional pest-control. Buoyed by their success in taking out Rohan the Accuser, the team has become the go-to group for solving galaxy-sized problems.

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Wonder Woman Review

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www.hypergeeky.comIn the world of comics, Wonder Woman is no throw-away hero.

First appearing in comics in 1941, Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who helped invent the polygraph. Marston believed comics had incredible potential in terms of educating children, and he wanted to create a hero with a modus operandi that set him apart from his contemporaries — a hero who would conquer with love.

It was Marston’s wife Elizabeth who said the character should be female, and Marston based Wonder Woman’s physical appearance on his student and other significant other, Olive Byrne.

The rest is history. As part of DC’s famed Trinity, Wonder Woman is on par with Superman and Batman in terms of ability, leadership, and respect. Her comic has been continuously published for more than seven decades — minus a four-month absence — and she just celebrated her 75th anniversary.

So, it’s actually a wonder that it so long for Warner Bros. and DC to bring her to the silver screen. She first appeared in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and I thought she was by far the best thing about the movie. Now, in her first solo outing, Wonder Woman gets her chance to show the cinematic world that she deserves her place amongst the World’s Finest.

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Logan Review

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www.hypergeeky.comInteresting how this all came about. 

While the X-Men movies have basically been Wolverine-centric, it was X-Men Origins: Wolverine that featured the first onscreen appearance of the Merc With a Mouth — Deadpool — who eventually got his own solo movie that made a strong case for R-rated comic-book flicks. 

Studios have traditionally shied away from restricting comic-book movies to adults because of financial reasons — toys, merchandise, and a larger audience filled with teens and children. 

Which is, by James Mangold’s admission, why The Wolverine ended so badly — Logan fights a robot samurai and loses his claws, which somehow grow back.

Hrm.

Anyways, for what it’s worth, The Wolverine was better than Origins — though that’s not saying much. Origins was incredibly bad, and if I had to sit through it, I’d want the leaked version stripped of its special effects for educational reasons. 

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