Collateral attractions, kind of: Tom Holland in Spiderman: Homecoming

I say “kind of” because I’m not especially interested in Tom Holland. He was good in Pilgrimage but I’m not putting him on the “must see” list yet. I went to see this on Tuesday because (a) cheap day at the cinema and (b) needed to get away from the news and (c) liked the first two Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire, though I haven’t seen any others, and (d) I’ve developed an allergy to WWII movies, which precluded seeing Dunkirk, and only (e) because of the Richard Armitage collection. Oh, and I do remember Holland’s role in Wolf Hall, although it was quite small.

Thoughts before the film: this business model can’t possibly survive very long. I only go on cheap days now. They show me all previews for films I don’t want to see. I can see it a bit for Spider-Man, but for The Big Sick? Pitch Perfect 3, It, An Inconvenient Sequel? That’s all you’ve got to offer me? The only trailer for a film I’d even consider seeing was The Glass Castle, but I didn’t enjoy the book, and I don’t care for Woody Harrelson, so probably not. I wonder if movie audiences are just too niche now for most films to be seen in the theater. The thing that appealed to me most was a weekend series of Indiana Jones films.

Upside: I finally figured out who Pennywise is. Sorry, Richard Armitage, this is not a role I needed to see you in. I hope you’re not too disappointed.

Anyhow, thoughts: I must not be in the target demographic (which I thought about Wonder Woman as well, although this film was better than that one). Scattered impressions: I didn’t understand the first fifteen minutes or so and it was frustrating that I apparently needed to see another, earlier film to understand part of the plot. Why is Aunt May suddenly my age? And it was funny when Peter had to say me gusta hacer la tarea in his Spanish class.

But I suppose my main reaction is one I had about Wonder Woman, which starred Captain Kirk, as well: Mary Beth Lacey, Sherlock Holmes, and Betelgeuse were all in the film! I feel like this article finally helped me understand my aversion to most of the people the studios put in their films, though (see section on Mark Rylance): “what the industry does to everyone […]: It flattens actors into the simplest-to-explain version of themselves.” It may in fact be the case that Chris Pine, Tyne Daley, Robert Downey, Jr., and Michael Keaton are all fantastically versatile actors, we just never get to see it because they play these same types over and over and over: the swash-buckling hero with a heart, the tough female in authority, the zany, unpredictable genius, the man who lives on the edge of insanity. And so when I’m picking a movie, I’m not really asking anymore whether the film interests me, I’m asking, do I really want to see yet another performance of that same thing — and I just don’t.

I guess the biggest insight I had after seeing this film was that these studio films seem a lot like the worst side of the Amazon recommendations feature. Back in 1999, it actually made good recommendations because it didn’t try to recommend too exactly. It still thought I might want to see something new. But as the algorithm improved, and it gained more knowledge of my reading habits, its predictions became worse and worse, to the point that I more or less started ignoring them.

And not unlike the film industry, it simultaneously more obdurate. It knows I like mysteries, so it will recommend a mystery that I don’t like for whatever reason, but if I say, I don’t like it in order to generate better recommendations, it just offers me another book by the same author. Wait, you don’t like this Batman? Well, how about this Spider-Man? Or this other Spider-Man? This Captain America? This Thor? Why not?

But the problem isn’t that I don’t like Captain America, per se. It’s that it will be filled with entirely predictable things. And I’m just not intrigued by watching ever more complex CGI explosions.

The net result is that I am never really surprised. None of this stuff can change my life because it’s all things I’ve consumed before, stuff that generates thoughts I’ve already had, played by actors who seem to do the same thing over and over. If I’ve become hostile to the film industry, maybe that’s why. Its own marketing model makes it increasingly irrelevant.

Apologies to you if you loved this film, though. Maybe it’s my fault: but this stuff will never change my life, I fear.

~ by Servetus on August 5, 2017.

21 Responses to “Collateral attractions, kind of: Tom Holland in Spiderman: Homecoming”

  1. Nein, 100 % NICHT lebensverändernd. Bestenfalls gut unterhaltend. Kann reichen.


    • I agree, but it’s a personal problem, I suppose — films that don’t make me think don’t entertain me much.


  2. I have never read comics , so I am not particularly interested to see their movie version. I only liked Batman with Keaton and newer ones with Bale (But i do not go to cinema to see it, I watch it when they come to tv). And I love X-Men (Hugh Jackman sigh ). And I only watched (on tv) Captain America FA to see Richard. Haven’t watched Spiderman at all, so I wil skip this, too. I watched Dunkirk last week and I really, really loved it!


    • I guess Dunkirk is doing well — I just was so inundated in WWII when I worked in Texas that I would have to have the sense that someone was saying something drastically new about it to want to see yet another battle film.


      • If you will have the chance to see it somehow, do it. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s worth it. 😉


  3. Not a fan of super hero movies. It just amazes me that some of the very best actors need to get these one dimensional parts to work in movies and act like they are thrilled to get them. I guess they hope it will allow them more serious parts in the future. My latest can’t believe casting is cate blanchet in Thor.


  4. Thank you for this!! I have ranted many, many times (too many times for my friends I fear) that we do not need another Batman, Spiderman, Superman, etc. They just remake these movies now every three years. Who cares if it is with a new actor. IT IS THE SAME MOVIE!!

    I often wonder if being a screenwriter in Hollywood is the easiest job or the hardest job. On the one hand you have to stuff down all of your creative impulses but then you just have to cough up the same script from an earlier version with just a tweak or two. Maybe not that many.

    I guess we are watching Hollywood creativity in its death throes. Creativity just seems to have disappeared.


    • I think there were six or eight writers credited on this film. So I can’t imagine it felt like it really belonged to anyone.

      It was weird that I actually saw two of these films this summer — but it will be a long time before I go to another one.


  5. Unlike other comic book films ( or most others) I thought this one was particularly targeted to teen-aged audiences. It was like a high school film, a YA film, complete with bully, prom, buddy, etc. I get that fans of the whole Marvel series ( or this DC???) got a kick out of SM ( really, Spiderboy, no?) finally getting his stripes, but I thought it was awfully juvenile. There’s still something I don’t like about Tom Holland’s face. I hope he gets some other decent roles,because I think he has promise as a serious actor – not a heart throb.


    • totally agree on the YA emphasis. And also that this might be fan service.

      re: Holland, I agree, I think he could be a serious actor. He’s potentially cute but not handsome. Perhaps related — excellent US accent. I would not have known he had a very different native accent at all.


  6. Sigh. Yes, all the above.
    Watched the movie last night because my son is not allowed to watch it alone in Germany. But I really felt out of place.

    And I cringe to see actors which I actually like “wasted” in this kind of movie, especially superhero movies – Hiddleston, James MacAvoy can do some pretty fine acting, and others like Chris Pine or Robert Downey Jr. might not be “Charakterdarsteller” but far more enjoyable in more complex roles. But you just don’t see them other roles!
    This superhero universe just absorbs them.

    I would like one set of actors that teens/YA and an audience with preference for popcorn movies like to see (Chris Hemsworth etc.) and a different set of actors for good thoughtful movies who don’t spoil their faces in the Marvel/DC universe.


  7. Robert Downey,Jr. and Michael Keaton ? sigh .. hope their involvement in this cirkus serves many good purposes


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