Though he has only a pair of independent films to his name, director Jon Watts (Clown, Cop Car) sure knows his way around a friendly neighborhood Spider-man. The product of a team-up between Sony and Marvel Studios, Spider-man: Homecoming places the iconic webslinger in high school. This choice dictates many aspects of the film, from the story and characters all the way down to the sense of humor and the overarching themes of growing into one’s responsibilities. At the very least, it certainly establishes Watts’s version of Spider-man as different, which is absolutely crucial given that this is the third iteration of Peter Parker in the last 15 years.
There’s a wayward flavor to obsession, a feeling of being swept off one’s feet by some new passion. In James Gray’s The Lost City of Z, the expedition that began as Percy Fawcett’s chance to restore glory to his family name morphs into a lifelong zeal for exploration an discovery. Based on the book of the same name by David Grann, Gray’s film follows the life of British soldier Fawcett and his exploits throughout the Amazon rainforest. The film boasts expert performances, cinematography that conveys the paradoxical claustrophobia of the untamed jungle, and a plot that leaves the spectator insatiable, always hoping for additional revelations and understanding. Though the themes waver a bit and employ the noble savage stereotype to its full effect, The Lost City of Z beautifully surveys the spirit of adventure and obsession that consumes each and every one of us – in one way or another.
As the thirteenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and first of Phase Three, Captain America: Civil War is full of crowd-pleasing moments, but it fails to deliver on these on a thematic level. Its neutered narrative pulls more punches than its heroes, the villain is more unnecessary and forgettable than the average Marvel fare, and a potentially powerful story line is treated with all the nuance of a Political Science 101 class. As a comic book action film, it certainly manages to entertain, but it falls far short of any aspirations to be something more than the latest summer popcorn flick.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the powers that be had already decided on the new Spiderman for the second reboot of the beloved web-slinger and his introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Many movie news outlets were quick to anoint Asa Butterfield a couple of months ago, but all of them were quick to pepper these “stories” with nebulous phrases like, “in the works”, “in discussion” and “about to ink deal”. This is a common and frustrating eventuality in the movie news cycle: intent on breaking the story and generating as much traffic as possible to their site, many of these online outlets throw up garish headlines declaring that so-and-so is involved in such-and-such. Then, when you actually click and read the article, you realize that it is all basically hearsay. This infuriates me. I make a concerted effort not to post any news item until the ink is actually dry on the contract, so now that such a thing has happened vis-a-vis Spiderman, I must say that I am at least a little concerned.