Spider-Man: No Way Home

(This review is going to give away so many previously unknown secrets about the movie that it will be like Charlotte wove SPOILER into her web. Proceed accordingly.)

To prepare for this event, I watched seven of the previous nine Spider-Man films the weekend before I saw the new one. A good critic will do the work necessary to research a movie, gathering all the background information that will inform what they are about to see so their review will be accurate, well-thought out and aware of the history that brought the film to this exact place in the franchise. Plus, I am currently crushing hard on Andrew Garfield and wanted to see him in the Spidey suit again.

I’ve often wondered how critics can review Marvel films if they hate this genre of movie. That won’t be a problem here, as I have seen 26 of the total 27 films, including WandaVision and Loki on Disney+. (I have not watched HawkEye yet, because seriously, what is a guy with a bow and arrow doing in the Avengers?)

Marvel apparently wasn’t worried that combining all the villains and Spideys from all the Spider-Man movies might confuse people, and after bringing in over a billion dollars, it appears they were correct. It helps to have seen the earlier films just to keep track of the bad guys, but no one really cares once the three Peter Parkers show up. The first half of the movie is Dr. Strange opening a portal with a defective spell that frees all the bad guys from the first seven movies. I felt this was somewhat out of character for Stephen Strange to botch this whole escape from the multiverse, which is essentially a network of parallel universes that don’t usually overlap but has been corrupted by the time stones and . . . you know what, never mind. If you don’t know what the multiverse is, you are not the demographic for this movie.

It’s when the wrong Peter Parker steps through the golden portal that the movie really snares you in its web. I have seen YouTube videos of audiences leaping to their feet and screaming when the mask came off to reveal Andrew Garfield in the tight red suit instead of Tom Holland, who is the most recent Spider-Man. When the OG Spidey Tobey Maguire shows up, too, the director could have simply thrown away the script and let these guys just riff on great power and responsibility. The chemistry between the three actors is off the charts, and although there are also a lot of things exploding and getting zapped, the real electricity is between Peters One, Two and Three. 

This movie has made too much money for Marvel not to capitalize on this trio and figure out a way to bring them all back, but they had better hurry. Tobey Maguire is forty-six years old and that suit is not going to fit for much longer.

As a nod to the previous mission statement that formed flicksthatmakemesick, I was a tad worried that all that swinging from various tall buildings multiplied by three might bring back triple nausea, but rest assured that the camera work (or the CGI—I don’t believe there is a GoPro strapped to a stuntman’s head as he jumps off the Chrysler building) is as steady as Peter’s conviction that he is just a good guy helping out around the neighborhood and not a somehow invincible superhero who never seems to get hurt no matter how many times he is thrown through concrete.

Fun Fact Number One: if you made it all the way to the end, of course you know enough to stay in your seat for the extra scenes. The first one features Venom and a bartender who looked very familiar, but I couldn’t place him, until someone whispered, “Football is life!” Will Dani Rojas be joining the MCU?!

Fun Fact Number Two: all three Spider-Man actors have fallen in love with their leading ladies and dated long after the movies wrapped. Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst, Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone, and Tom Holland/Zendaya. The first two couples broke up. Sorry, Tom.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Three Kernels. It is clever and fun and makes your spirits soar as high as you can shoot your web. Plus, Andrew Garfield.

Categories: FlicksThatYouShouldPick, FlicksIWantTolick

tick, tick . . . BOOM!

As we try to open up flicksthatmakemesick to more people with the new categories, it is unfortunate that the first movie reviewed will only appeal to a specific group of people. How just like the internet to make a headline clickbait and then give you something completely different.

I am aware that much of the general public doesn’t really like musicals, and although I cannot fathom why, you may want to visit other sites to read recaps of Succession.

tick, tick. . . BOOM! is the latest (off) Broadway musical adapted to film, in a banner year that has already seen Dear Evan Hansen and In the Heights hit the multiplex. I would assume that people would want to watch musicals after the pandemic, because what will cheer you up more than tap dancing chorus boys? Of course, the subject matter of these shows focuses on suicide, poverty and early death, so perhaps these weren’t the best choices for 2021. But West Side Story has also opened, and is supposedly fabulous—except for the poverty, murders and early death. But the music is great!

Although my Broadway soundtrack knowledge has won trivia contests, tick, tick. . . BOOM is a musical I was not familiar with when I watched it on Netflix. The film recounts the early life of composer Jonathan Larson, who would go on to write the score for Rent, a show that would change the sound of musicals and influence countless future composers. One of those composers was Lin Manuel Miranda, who often credits Rent with being the first show he ever saw that showed him musicals didn’t have to sound like Rodgers and Hammerstein. In his film directing debut, Miranda poured all his love and gratitude into this story of believing in yourself even when no one else does. Larson died on the eve of Rent’s opening; although the film only briefly mentions this, his early death looms over the entire film.

I’m always interested in the different ways people react to art. I have several friends who watched this film; most were positive about it, saying they liked the music and especially the performance of Andrew Garfield as Larson. None of them mentioned sobbing hysterically during the swimming sequence where he finally writes a song he has been working on for weeks or feeling bereft during the parts that featured Stephen Sondheim mentoring him.

I watched this film the day after Sondheim died, and his presence dominates greatly. Although Sondheim was a personal hero of mine, I wasn’t aware of his practice of taking young composers under his wing and encouraging the next generation to write. The film takes on a different meaning when seen as an homage to this master, and the Sunday diner number is a love letter to his music. Add into this the depiction of an artist being blocked creatively in a way he never has been before, and anyone who has ever struggled with a new idea or concept can immediately relate and then rejoice when Larson finally breaks through the figurative wall.

I found this film to be thrilling and emotionally involving, with the final song “Come to Your Senses” a beautiful reward for having suffered along with Larson as he tried to write it. I was astonished by Andrew Garfield, having mostly thought of him as Spiderman and unaware that he could sing. (I hope he has a musical number in the upcoming Spiderman: No Way Home—oh, wait, he’s not in it. Or is he?!)

I am aware that an obscure musical about the early life of a dead broke composer who dies at thirty-five just before he finds success may not be on everyone’s Must See list. But it moved me in a way that I haven’t felt by a film in some time, and I hope that somewhere, someone in the tiny flicksthatmakemesick universe can share this experience. And if not . . . well, at least you won’t throw up.

The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Three Kernels.

Categories: FlicksIWatchedOnNetflix, FlicksThatYouShouldPick, FlicksIWantToLick

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