Review – Third Time’s A Charm For Spider-Man! (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”)

Now, I know what you’re thinking. OMG, not another Spider-Man movie!? Well, calm down, my young padawan, this isn’t like the other’s where we’re starting all over again from the beginning (spider bite, Uncle Ben dies, yadda-yadda-yadda). No, we’re picking this story up right after Captain America: Civil War, so you better be familiar with Tom Holland, aka the new Spider-Man… er, Spider-kid. 
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Remember the alien attack in NYC with the 2012 Avengers? Well, all that massive (and very lucrative) clean-up was given to Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his crew, but was taken away by Tony Stark (Robert Downey, jr). Stealing some alien tech, Adrian goes into revenge mode and plans on stealing even more alien tech to create super-weapons and hi-tech gizmos, including a huge flying contraption that looks like a gigantic vulture. And he’s pretty successful at it too, until (years later) some kid in red pajamas decides to stop his operations.

Say hello to Peter Parker (Holland), a 15-year-old science nerd student, who’s also Spider-Man after school, thanks to his new upgraded Stark-Tech spidey-suit. Monitored by Stark’s #1 security guy, ‘Happy’ Hogan (Jon Favreau), Peter does the small hero things, but inadvertently stumbles upon Adrian’s operation and his alien-tech theft ring. Meanwhile, he’s juggling schoolwork, his BFF Ned (Jacob Batalon) finding out he’s the web-slinger, and falling for his Academic Decathlon partner, Liz (Laura Harrier), not to mention trying to keep his secret identity a secret from his Aunt May (the gorgeous Marisa Tomei).

Hacking into his suit and opening it’s new programs (meet Karen, the suit’s A.I. voice), Peter goes after Adrian, clearly against Stark’s wishes, who just wants the kid to be a “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”. But Peter, never shirking his duty to help others, gets himself into several dangerous dilemmas. If it’s not rescuing his school-mates from a Washington Monument disaster, it’s a major confrontation with the Vulture on-board the Staten Island Ferry where people nearly die. Stark, like an angry parent, takes away Parker’s super-suit as punishment, but the worse is yet to come.

Parker gets the surprise of his life when he goes to his Homecoming dance with Liz… and… and… well, I won’t give away the film’s shocker, but the third act has Peter, in his old home-made spidey-suit, battling the Vulture for the penultimate time. It’s just a shame it was shot so dark and with so much CGI that you can’t really see what’s going on. Another reason the movie is called “Homecoming” is for all the surprise cameos that pop-up throughout the movie. Yes, Stan Lee makes his requisite appearance.

With a whopping six (SIX!!) screenwriters, you’d think this movie would be all over the map, but happily, it isn’t. Director/writer Jon Watts (Cop Car) has a firm handle on things with knowing how to shoot a super-hero movie, except for the afore-mentioned night-time sky battle scene. The script has the luxury of finally giving us a young Peter Parker with all his high-school drama, friends, and Spanish Class. He’s whip-smart, sure, but also a kid at heart trying to impress “dad” with Tony Stark, and that whole dynamic is played out beautifully. Keaton is excellent, as always, especially in the quiet, sinister moments (the car scene with Peter is electric).

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was fun, and Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man was edgy, but this one is more real with a comic-book flair. Holland is way less emo than Garfield or McGuire and has the perfect boyish charm and natural personality to fit the character. Yes, while there are some plot contrivances here and there that are ridiculous, silly, and one that is downright unbelievable (I actually said,”Oh, come ON!”), I chalk that up to having six writers that, I’m guessing, couldn’t come up with anything better. Still, for my money, this 2hr and 14min movie was epically fun, thrilling, and worth seeing again. Which I plan on doing!

 
The Mask of Zorro (1998)
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As far as mentors go, sometimes you strike gold with Tony Stark or, in this case, Don Diego DeLaVega of 1800’s old California. Throw on a mask, whip out a sword, and ride into town and do good for the people, while trying not to get killed in the process. Sounds easy, huh? Nope, it ain’t!
 
1821 California and the people’s hero is Zorro! Don Diego DeLaVega (Anthony Hopkins) is the secret masked swordsman who rides against tyranny and oppression and, hidden from the corrupt, evil governor, is actually a wealthy nobleman. But after Zorro interrupts Governor Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) execution of some peasants, he gets pissed and finds out the true identity of Zorro, imprisoning DeLaVega, killing his wife, and taking his infant daughter, Elena. What a bastard!
 
20 years later, Montero returns with a grown Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones) and an escaped DeLaVega plans his revenge against Montero. His plan? Groom a drunk, would-be killer named Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) into the new and improved (and younger) Zorro! Through a lot of trials, training, and tribulations, Alejandro learns to fight like a skilled professional, taking on an entire regiment of Don Rafael’s soldiers. He also meets the drop-dead gorgeous Elena, instantly becoming smitten with her (and, honestly, who wouldn’t be?).
 
Disguising himself as a nobleman, with DeLaVega as his servant, Alejandro finds out that sneaky Montero plans on buying California from the super-powerful General Santa Anna, but with stolen gold from Santa Anna’s own mines! Aha! Looks like Zorro must thwart this plan, but standing in his way is the sadistic Captain Love (Matt Letscher), the same man who killed his brother and stuck his head in a pickle jar! Yuck! Zorro leaps into action, while still finding time to seduce the fair Elena, who’s not too shabby with a sword herself!
 
An absolute dynamite screenplay by John Eskow, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio and wickedly directed by Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Criminal Law), this movie just rocked from beginning to end, aided with James Horner’s dazzling soundtrack. Thrilling, exciting, swashbuckling, funny, and just plain enjoyable to watch, it was dreadful shame that the 2005 sequel, The Legend of Zorro sucked so badly.  
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