.Review by Andrew Overfield
Edited by Sam Hughes
Studio: Marvel Studios / Columbia Pictures
Composer: Michael Giacchino
Supervising Sound Editor: Eric Norris
Oh no not another Spider-Man reboot?
Probably the same opinion emulated by most people interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, emitted since hearing that Spider-Man: Homecoming was going to be hitting our screens this Summer. It was obvious we would start to see some individual story-line to help wet the viewer’s appetites until Avengers: Infinity War brings together a large portion of the MCU to battle Thanos. Since Peter Parker was first mentioned in Marvel’s Civil War with a new actor donning the red and blue spandex in Tom Holland. So the next statement would be…
Oh no not another Spider-Man origin story!?
Although… I was wrong to assume. Prior to the trailers being released I anticipated an origin story akin to DC’s Wonder Woman to introduce us to this new Spider-Man and his own own world. However, I was pleasantly surprised.
Spider-Man: Homecoming throws us right after the incidents of Civil War with a large focus on the cleanup of New York City, in the wake of the events from Avengers Assemble. Holland’s character is sent back to school, back to normality to continue his life among plenty of other pubescent teenagers. Holland embarks on an adventure through his days at school as well as trying to be the “neighbourhood-friendly” spider! Rather than “Homecoming” I believe the film should be aptly named Spider-Man wants to be an Avenger. There is a large focus on Parker’s attempt to impress Tony Stark and Happy Hogan enough to become a permanent Avenger. Along this light-hearted yet action-packed summer blockbuster there’s plenty of nostalgic references and just the right among of spider-esque comedy to give you just what you want. Maybe not the cup of tea of every hardcore Spider-Man fan but I feel this film follows the MCU story arc very well.
Michael Giacchino is quickly becoming a favourite of mine. Based on his recent work on Jurassic World, Dr Strange and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, he has had some very prolific, moving and inspirational work. With two films out at the box office at the moment in time, alongside Spider-Man: Homecoming he has also scored the recent War for the Planet of the Apes. He seems on a very busy and hardworking schedule, Giacchino’s popularity precedes itself.
He introduces us to the film with the all-mightiest of throwbacks, in the form of his own interpretation of the original 60’s Spider-Man theme, instantly engaging with the entire audience. Because unless you’ve lived under a rock, with no WiFi, for your entire life, you WILL have heard the theme before. Soon after he also teases us, by narrating the visuals with a leitmotif in the vein of Alan Silvestri’s original Avengers Assemble main theme. Then, he cleverly drifts off into his own world, developing a standalone character in musical form.
Now historically, since the release of the first MCU film in 2008’s Iron Man, it’s pretty safe to say that each film has been somewhat conservative in it’s approach to the accompanying musical score. Plenty of constructive criticism has surfaced on the internet regarding the lack of musical identity in it’s timeline, playing a very safe and secure card to ensure visual aren’t at a detriment due to the music. Search for yourself, you’ll find temp cues echoed in scores such as Thor.
What I absolutely adore about Giacchino’s approach to Spider-Man: Homecoming, is the fact that nothing really resembles a “typical” MCU score other than that of a few scattered cues circling the action and fight sequences. The entire film is littered with a more light, comical tone, very resemblant of his earlier work in Up and Ratatouille. This gives the film a more “cartoon” feel and definitely cements a unique and interesting sonic identity for the Spider-Man sub-universe. At first I thought this would be slightly off-putting and somewhat alienate the viewer from what they are used to hearing in terms of bombastic, epic sweeping strings, swelling horns and earthy percussion. But this tone certainly adds a character and depth to the film like no other MCU venture has done before.
I say hats off to him, he’s done a brilliant job blending the action, comedy and “with great power…” we expect from a Spider-Man film. Well done!
Eric Norris is no stranger to films of the action/superhero variety. His credits alone speak volumes for themselves but for the record his hirsute includes Man of Steel, The Amazing Spiderman 2, 300: Rise of an Empire, Book of Eli and Sucker Punch. He is no stranger to helping make action sound big, bold and poignant.
One thing that stands out most of all is that Spider-Man’s suit, provided by Stark seems very organic with a lot of thought gone into it. Each different component of his suit having it’s own unique identity. From the winged underarm components appearing to the ricochet web and the web-grenades, you can tell each sound has had a meticulous attention to detail brought to the mix.
Parker also has his own “Jarvis” in the form of Karen, to direct and instruct him through his advents as the webslinger. Interestingly voiced by Jennifer Connelley who is married in real life to the original Jarvis and Vision, Paul Bettany.
Moving onto other voice-dubs, I really liked how carnal the voice of The Vulture was brought to life whilst Michael Keaton was donning the helmet. It gave a very visceral tone and added wonderfully to the already menacing voice of Keaton. Which I might add is a brilliant portrayal of this character.
Unlike previous MCU outings, I found that the aim wasn’t to have huge, epic explosions taking the forefront of all the action and rather adding more of a narrative. The mix wasn’t overbearing and added to Giacchino’s score, blended perfectly without distracting from the visuals.
I thoroughly enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming, it became a relatively welcome change to the current pace of the MCU and added much more of a lighter, “neighbourhood-friendly” (please forgive the poor jokes!) feel to the series. I still believe that Sam Raimi’s first pass with 2002’s Spider-Man, accompanied by Danny Elfman’s energetic and charismatic score is my favourite of the all the web-slinging films. However, Homecoming definitely competes as a heavy contender. It has pretty much everything you could expect as an MCU fan, a Spider-Man fan or simply a superhero flick lover. I’d rally like to see how Giacchino’s themes develop throughout the rest of the MCU and into Infinity War and and subsequent sequels in the mini-series.
I would highly recommend going out and giving it a good consideration as one of Marvel’s more welcoming films of it’s cinematic universe.
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The Sound Architect