Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home

What does this title mean? Was this movie originally about something else and they just forgot to change the title? He stays in New York the whole movie right?

???

These movies are approaching the level of those graphic t-shirts made by algorithms that are like "Don't mess with this Sagittarius Gumball Machine Collector or his Motorcycle Riding Overweight Bisexual Wife until he's Had His Coffee." It feels at times like a patchwork quilt or a collage, you find yourself kind of wondering if any of the people were ever actually in the same room together, maybe Alfred Molina did all of his scenes in a green closet. Coincidentally not unlike the small prison that he and the other villains are confined to in the film, captured by the pokeball of a big paycheck and the guarantee that it won't take more than a week to film your parts.

So while I did actually appreciate getting to see Tobey play Peter again (I love him as an actor, I can't help it) it was hard to get fully engaged in his stuff because it felt like he was only in the movie because Disney just collected all the data and memes and photos and everything from your phone and fucking recordings of your voice and ran it through a computer thing. I'm not calling any of this crap "Artificial Intelligence" anymore by the way. That term is such bullshit, it's nothing like intelligence or thinking or even anything all that impressive, it's literally just raiding the internet and people's phones and finding similar things. We figured out that computers could do this when we invented the web browser. As far as I'm concerned this "A.I." stuff is just google without all the filters they've put in place to corral traffic to major websites, it's the google from 15 years ago.

Anyway speaking of outmoded, I don't know if film as a medium is going to survive in this new horrible tiktok era that's been forced upon us. I know this movie like "made money" but I think increasingly it's going to be harder for films that take like a year to make to compete with the instant dopamine satisfaction of phone world. It costs people nothing and if I'm being honest man a lot of the stuff on my phone is more entertaining than anything I see in movies now.

I saw a meme recently (I know, I know) that millennials like the older Spider-man movies more now because they can finally relate to having no money and living in a shit house. This is very true and definitely a part of those film's magic appeal. It's funny though in the case with this movie that in their desperate attempt to "give the people what they want" by just outsourcing their story ideas to trending meme fan theories about whatever the next movie should be, they fail to understand the gold backing to our meme currency: relate-ability. The problem I have with a lot of the latter part of the Marvel catalog is that they increasingly portray no kind of world I've ever known. Their version of New York is utopian clean to the point where it's almost comical. The apartment that Peter moves into in this one after his life "gets worse" is absurdly nice looking and I think even has a robot that is making his breakfast or something? The worst thing that happens to these kids is they don't get their stupid hogwarts letters, who cares? You have a girlfriend, you're doing better than half the guys your age (this claim based on actual data!) You have a nice place and like sixty robot suits that do your superhero work for you anyway. You don't have to wear a stupid fucking mask everywhere like we do, you get to wear a cool robot one instead, designed by Steve Ditko.

I don't like that he just changes his suit up whenever he feels like it. Super movies where the suit (symbolically representative of money) is the thing that saves you/is cool is a trend that started with Nolan's Dark Knight and I've always hated it and never been able to connect with these heroes as a result. The guy isn't really doing anything cool or daring. One might argue that the first Iron Man started this, but from what I remember of the first movie there's quite a lot of screen time devoted to showing how dangerous the suit is and how he definitely could still die if he didn't use the right jet thingy correctly or something. I believe there's more than one Nolan Batman moment where he presses a button and Thing X happens and then all the bad guys in the scene are now gone/unconscious. There's even a part in this movie where it's revealed that his spider sense triggered reaction time is completely involuntary? Leaving him with even less agency than previously imagined. But then later he gets shot at? Stupid.

This movie had rumblings of what could have been potentially interesting ideas regarding spider-man getting cancelled, the whole erasing everybody's memory thing, and most especially the three spider-men finding a common bond with each other and all of their enemies as Men of Science (except for Sandman.) I think this last thing is genuinely a very clever bit of character insight to latch onto, these guys all at their core want to use their knowledge to make the world a better place. Why was Peter going to college anyway? You could have done something with that. But none of this stuff is handled so well that it ever gets to anywhere emotional or compelling. I think a major problem with this Tom Holland guy is that he's written as a clueless fool. The whole Big Problem of the movie only happens because he's jabbering like an idiot when Mr. Strange is doing his magic spell. It's true that a lot of the good drama for Peter Parker's character has been about his struggle to have his cake and eat it too, but it's not good to write him like a jabbering idiot for those scenes. In the first one he lets Uncle Ben's killer go in the elevator because he felt it wasn't "his problem", it's not because he was stupid, there has to be nuance to this stuff for it to work. A big complaint that a lot of people have leveled at the Marvel "house style" is that they're too jokey. The characters don't shut up talking like sitcom people even when they're in mortal danger. I don't know if it's true for all of the films but I can definitely see it here and it is annoying, mainly because it creates this uneasy oscillation of tone. It's also like how the production for these things is divided between a visual effects house that designs all the action and then (insert director's name here) films the other human being parts and then they do glue-together shots where they just have the hero guy kind of pop up into a standing position out of a CGI jump that he supposedly just did. Maybe neither party can really ever be sure of what kind of movie the other team is making and that's why this happens. Maybe all the different writers don't know either. But I find it kind of funny, in that strange and tragic synchronistic way that I so often see now, that this time around it's that same jabbering annoying punch-up comedy dialogue that obliterates this film's chance of ever working as it's own film. He couldn't shut up during the important magic ritual and now the gateway for other more interesting actors to enter into his movie is opened and his entire MCU gang is completely side-lined. It borders on being brilliant parody.

Like a lot of these, the most emotional/impactful story beat is the thing that happens at the very end. This trend (ugh) started with Iron Man where he says "I am Iron Man" at the end, and while I remember that being cool at the time it seems to have taught all these other movies the wrong lesson. There's this promise/illusion of character progression but often the things kind of just set back to zero. The final two avengers movies where half the people die in the first one and then they're all miraculously brought back to life in the next one is, once again, synchronistic and comically illustrative of this problem. The problem with "I am Iron Man" was that I don't remember it really effecting anything too much in the later movies. Likewise I think Iron Man 3 ends with him hitting self destruct on every suit that he owns and then the other movies just act like that didn't happen. As a result these all just kind of feel like really long trailers now. I'm probably going to get more into this for my Matrix 4 review but I think there's a reason that "nerd fandom" or whatever has become such a big thing in the past decade or so. Yes, it's a little bit because we live in a dystopia, but I think the secret reason is that these movies do not actually satisfy people in the way that art is supposed to. My friend tells this joke/story about walking out of a vegan restaurant one night and being like "Okay, so what's for dinner?" I think people unconsciously feel the need to look at these stupid memes until 3 AM and wear awful merchandise and buy funko pops and watch Explained videos because they walk out of these movies like "Okay, so what's for dinner?" They go home and they microwave something, figuratively speaking and sometimes literally speaking. The promise of artistic catharsis wasn't delivered and their souls are left to wander cyber space and the Target aisles in search of something that will close the loop for them.

And like I said before the sad thing about all of this is that the memes and crap are all better anyway. I remember when photos leaked of Tobey in the movie it looked kind of like a fan-made thing! And the promise of those screenshots is something this movie could never really deliver on because nobody knows how to make any of this shit any good anymore. It was better as a screenshot, it was better as something you could just imagine being fun. Instead when you go see it it's just like they're doing family guy shit. But it's the endless promise of these things and the illusion of delivery through mass marketing and those stupid "money shots" where they all pose and the people clap that has people hooked on this stuff.

For the last 20 years or so I've heard of lot of big talk about the film industry being over or dying and also now I've probably heard just as many refutations of that because they're making more money than ever now etc. But I think at the heart of this discussion is a certain truth; that the movies are eventually not going to be the place to go if you actually want a collective emotional and aesthetic catharsis or to hear a story about people or to feel a timely resonance with your culture. These movies feel like they are made on another planet. And I think maybe more and more they will not just feel alien but also archaic. Like the circus or vaudeville. I saw this video of Tom Holland (or maybe just a guy that looked like him?) going into a theater where this was playing and waving at everyone and then he just goes down in front by the screen and does a back flip, it's super embarrassing. Go watch the marketing stuff that actors do for things like this now and you'll find no shortage of horrible debasing shit. It used to mean something to have your name up in lights and trying to win an oscar or whatever and now it's like "we're going to film you eating this hot sauce." So yeah maybe the film industry won't ever truly die, but maybe it will just get increasingly more pathetic. The billion dollar industry becomes dwarfed by some new trillion dollar industry. It's not hard for me to imagine a slightly more complex version of a tiktok instagram phone thing that fully satisfies, in a more closed loop, what people expect to get out of the movies and art. These drooling kids growing up poking at their parent's ipads are all going to have huge coke-bottle glasses and fucked up neck bones and they will have lived a life where everything they've ever needed was always in The Feed. Why go to the movies? They physically won't even be able to tilt their heads back far enough to see the screen.

I feel like it used to be like people either liked a whole movie or didn't like a whole movie, but now when I talk to anybody about movies it's always a very wishy-washy discussion because we like parts of it and hate other parts of it. I think you're lucky if you get more than like eight to ten minutes of enjoyable stuff. So to wrap this up, I'll give credit where credit is due, and give my wishy-washy praise of the things I liked:

-I liked when Andrew jumped up on the ceiling.
-I liked Tobey's line where he say "You guys can't do that?" Some of the writing for him felt kind of off but something about this felt exactly like Peter to me and Tobey nailed the delivery. He's kind of proud of himself, it's fun.
-I liked the last scene where Zendaya don't know nothin, I know it's not really going to lead to an interesting sequel but I didn't really care because I probably won't even see the sequel. (I haven't seen the movies prior to this one either.) It's a high concept comic book type drama thing and the only part where you can feel something for those two characters, for however finite.
-I liked Andrew in general, I'm not familiar with his Spider-mans (did not see them) but to me it just felt like he was doing his Under the Silver Lake character but if he got spider-man powers. Very funny and good.
-I liked that after Andrew's big save he stands bolt upright, very cool, maybe the only actual cool hero thing that anybody does in this whole movie. A better version of this movie would have been built entirely around this single moment, and maybe creating similar moments for each of the other(too many!) characters.
-I liked just hearing Peter say "MJ"
- And lastly and most unexpectedly, I loved when Tobey went "woohoo" after he jumped into a swing. I just didn't think they could get that guy to do a woohoo for this shitty movie. It confirmed for me that Maguire is the true professional that I've always thought he was. This isn't a phone-in Peter Parker, because we got the woohoo. And folks it was also in that moment that I realized something, sometimes I'm just like everybody else, a guy that just likes to see Familiar Thing.

P.S. I want to go on record and say that I was one of the guys who was doubting the whole way that they could ever pay Tobey enough to return to playing Peter, especially for (insert director's name here.) Mainly because he wasn't in the trailer and that just seemed like a massive marketing blunder to not do that. I know this movie already has made a ton of money, but I think it probably would have made more than Endgame if the trailer included even just a single shot of Tobey Maguire. These pussy teasery trailers that just show like two scenes are fine for grabbing nerd losers but I think as it stands people like my dad and various other boomers are probably completely unaware that there's a new spider-man movie with Tobey Maguire in it. Just saying!

But hey, maybe Marvel seeded all the original "What if Tobey's in it!?" meme stuff to begin with years ago and this was all a part of some master plan and they made exactly the amount of money that their computers predicted they would or something. In which case we all just live in hell.

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