A Look Back at “Mickey’s House of Villains”

Does anyone else remember Mickey’s House of Mouse?  It was a TV show with a fun, wacky premise: Mickey and his fellow “classic” Disney characters (i.e. Minnie, Donald, and Goofy) ran a night club that played old and new Disney cartoons.  The guests could be anyone from the Disney animated films, from Chernabog in Fantasia to Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King, and they would all interact with their hosts, depending on the episode.

It hasn’t aged very well for me- I thought the jokes were hilarious when I was younger, but not so much anymore.  Nonetheless, I love the idea behind it and how it brought all of the Disney characters together under one roof.

As a kid, when I found out that Disney was planning to release a Halloween special in which the villains would team up to take over the House, I just about exploded with excitement!  Unfortunately, the movie wasn’t what I had hoped it would be.

Technically, there’s a plot.  It’s Halloween at the House of Mouse, but the villains aren’t having a good time.  Cruella de Vil complains that with Mickey running the club, it’s “all treats and no tricks.”  This year, however, Jafar has a plan: they’re going to wait until midnight and then take over the show.  Unaware of any problems, Mickey kicks off the Halloween party with some spooky cartoons.

Now, a typical episode of House of Mouse involved Mickey presenting his guests with short cartoons starring himself and his friends.  Some of them were old theatrical shorts, and others had been created recently.  That took up a significant portion of each episode.  Yet, from what I remember of the episodes that I saw, there was a balance between how many cartoons we saw vs. the daily antics going on in the House of Mouse.  And sometimes they’d change things up a little, by having the guests watch things like Clarabelle’s gossip rumors.

House of Villains doesn’t have much in the way of balance.  We see Donald trying to scare the guests, Jafar telling the villains they’re going to take over the House at midnight, and then it’s one cartoon right after the other.  There’s no breathers in between.  Mickey announces a cartoon, and then another Halloween cartoon is shown.  It ends, the movie cuts back to the House of Mouse for a split second, and then it’s on to the next cartoon.

And then, forty-five minutes into the movie (keeping in mind that House of Villains is just a little over an hour long), the villains take over.

Yes, the plot doesn’t get started properly until the movie’s more than halfway finished.

AND THEN, with Jafar, Ursula, Cruella de Vil, Hades, and Captain Hook in charge of Mickey’s club, they decide to do…NOTHING!  (Jafar is the proud owner of a Magic Conch Shell, apparently.)  The nice characters get locked in the cafeteria, Mickey gets kicked out, the House gets redesigned to have a sinister red glow, and then Jafar starts showing cartoons again.

Cartoons.

Again.

(Gif found here)

It’s such a shame because the movie had a cool premise and they hardly did anything with it.  Iago accuses the group of being “a bunch of dull villains” in one of the opening scenes.  They don’t exactly prove him wrong here.  Plus, there’s no reason why the Disney heroes couldn’t have lent Mickey a hand.  How did they all get locked in the kitchen so fast?

It is nice getting to see some of the old Halloween cartoons.  The best one stars Goofy in “How to Haunt a House,” followed by the last cartoon that has Mickey and Minnie reenacting “Hansel and Gretel” to the music of “Danse Macabre.”  In that sense, the movie gets me into the spirit of Halloween, so I like watching it in October.  But it’s a guilty pleasure at best.  Plus, any enjoyment that one can get out of the cartoons feels tainted because they’re not what we came to watch.  Disney advertised a big epic showdown between Mickey Mouse and the worst of the Disney villains.  Yet that’s not what we’re getting.

The result?  House of Villains has a nice Halloween vibe at times, but it feels cheaper and lazier than your average direct-to-video Disney sequel.  Last year, I put it on a list of fun Disney movies to watch around Halloween; but after watching it again this year, I think I was being too kind.

If you’d like to experience your favorite Disney villains teaming up to cause havoc, do yourself a favor and play the Kingdom Hearts games instead.  Their plots may be too complicated to follow, but at least they have plots.

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Character Spotlight: Princess Atta

Every now and then, I decided that I’d like to write a post about one specific character and what makes them stand out, either to me personally or to general audiences.  Let’s start with Princess Atta from Pixar’s second animated film, A Bug’s Life.

 

AttaCompared to other beloved Disney and Pixar characters, Princess Atta isn’t exactly a household name.  A Bug’s Life itself doesn’t get too much attention from Disney anymore.  Nonetheless, I think Atta’s pretty interesting when you compare her to some of Disney’s other princesses and love interests in talking animal movies.

Before Merida came on to the scene and reminded us that a princess has more responsibilities than dancing, singing, and looking pretty, Pixar gave us Princess Atta.  Her mother, the Queen, rules the colony on Ant Island.  During A Bug’s Life, Atta has to learn how to be a queen herself and she’s not very good at it.  Or is she?

Unlike other Strong Female Characters, Atta isn’t reluctant to lead because she’d rather go off and do something else.  She genuinely wants to be a good queen.  That’s her whole problem.  She’s so nervous about the possibility of failure that she doesn’t inspire much confidence in anybody but her mother and Flik.  I really like the scene where she opens up to Flik for the first time and tells him about what’s going on inside her head:

“I know what everyone really thinks. […] Everyone.  The whole colony.  Nobody really believes I can do this job.  It’s like…they’re all watching me.  Just…just…”

And Flik finishes with, “Waiting for you to screw up.”

A Bug’s Life never confirms or denies whether the ant colony feels that way about Atta.  The opening scene shows one Council member calming her down and two others commenting that the Queen has “enough on her plate already, training her daughter.”  However, they do credit her with the idea to send Flik off to the city and cheer the plan to build the bird when she encourages them to do it.  So it might be all inside her head.  We just don’t know if Atta’s assessment is accurate or not, any more than we know how real people view us.  So, nice touch by Pixar.

Going off of that, it’s neat how Atta gets to have her own character arc that’s related to Flik’s, but isn’t solely based around falling in love with him.  She has her own family and her own goals.  Though she does come to admire Flik and treat him better, and his actions incite her character development, it’s all about Atta gaining confidence in herself.  She comes to like Flik because of what he does for the colony.  She gets aggravated by his antics mostly when she thinks they’re hurting the colony (and when they reflect poorly on her).  More than anything else, she wants what’s best for her people.

Additionally, Atta is aware that her own insecurities cause problems and tries to fix them.  In the aforementioned scene where she talks to Flik and he finishes her sentence about screwing up, that’s when she realizes that he deals with her fears every day.  He knows that nobody likes him and he knows that no matter how hard he tries to make things better, he still makes mistakes.  So Atta apologizes for the way she’s treated him in the past and tries to make amends.

Think about it: when does that ever happen in Disney films, or any animated family films?  How often do we see a female character admitting that she’s flawed and apologizing for it, especially to her love interest?  It usually doesn’t happen even when they have flaws.  Mulan didn’t apologize to the army; they needed to apologize to her.  Tiana didn’t have to apologize to Naveen, nor did Pocahontas ever apologize to anybody, or Jasmine, or Belle, or Cinderella.  Most of the time, they’re victims in some way and others need to help them and/or learn to appreciate them better.

Oh, and Atta saves Flik twice in the third act, not the other way around.  She flies in front of Hopper to stop him from squishing Flik, then outflies all of his friends when Hopper grabs Flik and takes off.  Flik ultimately comes up with the plan to kill Hopper once and for all, but he couldn’t have done it without Atta.

As a kid, I didn’t think much of Atta and couldn’t understand why Flik fell in love with her, when, by her own admission, she wasn’t very nice to him.  But as an adult, I admire how Pixar tried to do something different with this type of character: the princess who isn’t good at being a princess and the love interest who needs to learn to appreciate the protagonist better.  The writers treat her like a person (well, an ant) with her own goals and struggles, and as a result, her decisions feel more natural and less like “we need her to do/say this thing because that’s what this type of character does.”

So, kudos to you, Pixar.  Thank you for not taking us down Road of the “Strong Female Character” and giving us interesting, more layered female characters instead.

The Casual Fan’s Guide to Navigating Kingdom Hearts (Part 2)

Okay, we have now arrived at the point where many casual fans stopped: post-Kingdom Hearts 2.  This part’s specifically meant for people who skipped all of the “side games” released in-between Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts 3.  But newcomers will want to read it too, if only to prepare themselves.

Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days

Available On: Nintendo DS; about two hours worth of cutscenes can be viewed on Kingdom Hearts 1.5, but the game itself isn’t playable on the PS3 or the PS4

Status: A midquel that takes place in-between Chain of Memories and KH2

Do I Need to Play It?

Honestly, it’s hard to say right now, but I’ll go with “no, you don’t.” This game takes place from Roxas’ point of view, instead of Sora’s, and everything you really need to know about his character gets explained in Kingdom Hearts 2. This was meant to provide some backstory for him.

However, the game also introduced a new character, Xion, who has a big influence on Roxas, and she may or may not have some influence on the plot of Kingdom Hearts 3.  That’s about as much as I can say about her without spoiling anything.  As of right now, I’m thinking it’ll be as important to understanding the plot of KH3 as Chain of Memories was to understanding KH2– you may be confused about a few things, but you can easily read up on what you missed.

Is it worth playing?  If you have a Nintendo DS or backwards compatible 3DS and you’d like to check it out, by all means, do so!  If you’re trying to decide whether to watch the cutscenes on the PS3/PS4 or play the game, I’d like to present a third option:

READ THE MANGA.

The manga surpasses both versions of the game.  One of the complaints about the original game is that it drags- there are a lot of levels that just consist of Roxas fighting a variety of Heartless in Disney worlds, having ice cream with his friends after work, and that’s it.  Every so often, something plot relevant happens, and it isn’t until the third act when things start to pick up.  The problem with 1.5 is that it’s not really a movie, even though the fans refer to it as “the Days movie.”  It’s two hours of cutscenes that start and stop, start and stop.

The manga has much better pacing.  It covers all of the essential parts of the story while also adding scenes that flesh out the characters who work for Organization XIII.  The Disney characters get more chances to interact with the main characters too, which is always good in my book.  It’s the most entertaining way to catch up on at least one of the side games.  Not to mention, it’s cheaper if your library owns a copy and you can read it for free.  Do yourself a favor and read the book instead of watching “the movie.”

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

Available On: PlayStation Portable, PS3, and PS4

Status: A prequel that takes place ten years before the first Kingdom Hearts game

Do I Need to Play It?

Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Also, YES.

This game introduces several new characters who are almost guaranteed to be important to the plot of Kingdom Hearts 3.  It explains Xehanort’s backstory and gives some insight into the Keyblade War.  Considering that the official summary of Kingdom Hearts 3 mentions both Xehanort and the Keyblade War, I’d say that makes it pretty important.

Again, if you have the option, go with the PS3/PS4 version.  It’s got a whole extra level you can play after you’ve beaten the game, but it’s not crucial to the plot.  Unfortunately, there’s no manga adaptation to read.  There are novels, and Yen Press plans to translate them, but no release date has been announced yet.

Kingdom Hearts: Re:Coded

Available On: Nintendo DS, with cutscenes available to watch on Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix

Status: A follow-up to Kingdom Hearts 2 that takes place inside Jiminy Cricket’s journal

Do I Need to Play It?

Nope.  There is ONE very important scene that you can only watch if you unlock the Secret Ending- or watch it on the PS3/PS4 remix.  The important points are addressed again in Dream Drop Distance.  But Coded has a passionate fanbase and it’s supposed to be a really fun game, even though the plot doesn’t make much sense.  I haven’t finished it, but I should give it another chance sometime.

That said, I watched the 2.5 “movie” and I do not recommend it, at least not all at once.  Unfortunately, Coded hasn’t gotten the manga treatment that Days did, and Shiro Amano has said that he’s ending his series with KH2, so it probably never will.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Available On: Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 4 as part of Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Remix

Status: A follow-up to Kingdom Hearts 2 that takes place immediately after Coded and acts as a prequel to Kingdom Hearts 3

Do I Need to Play It?

As I said, it acts as a prequel to Kingdom Hearts 3, so, yes.  Definitely play it.  The story gets really weird towards the end, but it’s a lot of fun to play.  If you have the ability to choose, go with the PlayStation 4 version so that you can play all of the games on one system.

Kingdom Hearts: Union Cross

Available On: iOS and Android devices, aka smartphones

Status: The prequel to EVERYTHING; it takes place centuries, if not eons, before the actual series starts.  It’s set before the Keyblade War and you get to create your own character.

Do I Need to Play It?

Yes and no.  Union Cross is weird.  Originally, it was meant to be the only non-canon game in the series, but now it’s not.  There’s something called the Book of Prophecies that plays a role in this game, and Maleficent mentions it in a new scene added to Re:Coded.  A mini-film was produced to explain the story of the Foretellers as part of the Kingdom Hearts 2.8 collection.

At the same time, it’s still a phone game where the protagonist is just an avatar that you create.  His/her actions presumably won’t have much direct impact on the actual story.  I’m hoping that the story-relevant content introduced in Union Cross will get explained again in Kingdom Hearts 3, since Sora and his friends do not get involved in this adventure.  It’s not like Dream Drop Distance where they’re the main characters.

That said, it’s a lot of fun to play and it’s a free app, so if you have a smartphone, I wholeheartedly recommend it!  If nothing else, it’s a fun way to pass the time while waiting for Kingdom Hearts 3.

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue

No, I did not make that title up.

Available On: PlayStation 4

Status: A collection including a remake of Dream Drop Distance, a movie about the Foretellers from Union Cross, and A Fragmentary Passage, which is a short game about Aqua’s time in the Realm of Darkness before Kingdom Hearts 3

Do I Need to Play It?

I’m leaning towards “no.”  It does lay out everyone’s missions at the start of Kingdom Hearts 3, but I get the feeling it’ll be like Chain of Memories where you’ll be able to figure things out soon enough in KH3.

Now, if you don’t own a Nintendo 3DS and/or you never played Dream Drop Distance, then I would definitely recommend getting the PS4 version for the extra content.  Otherwise, skip it.  Aqua’s story is a lot of fun, and it does lead directly into Kingdom Hearts 3 by showing what Sora, Riku, and Kairi have set out to do.  But A Fragmentary Passage is only a few hours long.  Back Cover, the movie about the Foretellers, doesn’t reveal anything substantial at all.  We just find out that they’re fighting, and their friendship’s falling apart, and the Master of Masters is up to something sneaky with a black suitcase, but we never find out what’s in that suitcase.  It’s just not worth $60, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

***

Okay, there you have it!  Are you even more confused now than you were before?  Welcome to the Kingdom Hearts Fandom.

If you have any questions, complaints, or whatnot, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to respond!

The Casual Fan’s Guide to Navigating Kingdom Hearts (Part 1)

So, a while ago, I basically ranted about my own fandom acting superior towards “casual” fans of the series and snickering over how lost they’ll feel once they finally play Kingdom Hearts 3.  But, looking at the size of the series and how many different games have been released on different consoles, that kind of begs the question…what’s the simplest way for casual fans and newcomers to catch up with the diehards, if they so choose?

And now that Square-Enix has announced A TOY STORY WORLD for Kingdom Hearts 3- and they got PIXAR involved in the story for that level- you almost certainly DO want to catch up!

Thanks to the recent release of almost every Kingdom Hearts game in one collection for the PlayStation 4, it’s become much easier to become acquainted with all of the games in the series.  But, still, there are eight games, one three-hour mini game, and one movie that make up the story so far.  That’s pretty overwhelming.

So I’ve created a break-down of the series with suggestions about how best to either enter or continue with it, for the newbies and casuals.  What’s the scoop with each entry, which ones do you need to play to understand Kingdom Hearts 3, and which ones can you ignore, if you so choose?  If anyone has better suggestions, by all means, leave a comment!  We must help our friends!  That’s what Kingdom Hearts is all about!

Disclaimer: As you will see, after each game’s title, I include the question, “Do I need to play it?”  This is obviously based on my own opinion.  However, it’s not about how much I personally enjoyed playing the game.  It has nothing to do with the actual quality of the game and everything to do with the plot, characters, etc., and whether or not it’s likely that they will contribute to Kingdom Hearts 3.

My goal with this guide is to present non-fans and casual fans with the cheapest, quickest methods of getting caught up with the series. That includes telling them what they can and can’t afford to skip.  If you disagree with my assessments, again, feel free to leave a comment saying why.

Let’s start with the series in general…

The Collections

Square-Enix has re-released most of the games in the series under several collections.  The first one, entitled Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, contains the original game, a follow-up called Re:Chain of Memories, and the cutscenes from 358/2 Days.  The second collection, Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix, contains Kingdom Hearts 2, Birth by Sleep, and the cutscenes from Re:Coded.

These two collections have since been re-released for the PlayStation 4 as one disc.  That collection is known as Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix.  If you have a PlayStation 4, this is the best way to acquire the series.

Finally, a third collection was released for the PlayStation 4 that contains KH: Dream Drop Distance, a movie, and a glorified demo for Kingdom Hearts 3.  I’ll talk about that entry in more detail in Part 2 of this guide.

And now for an analysis of the actual games in the series…

Kingdom Hearts

Available On: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4; also available to read as a novel and a two-volume manga omnibus

Status: The one that started it all!

Do I Need to Play It?  Well…yes.  If you want to try out the Kingdom Hearts video games, of course you ought to play the first installment.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, I love this game and I recommend giving it a try.  It has a simple, emotional story with lovable characters, it’s fun to play, and it incorporates the Disney and Final Fantasy characters into the plot very well.  The manga is a decent adaptation, but the two volumes that cover this game’s story are also the weakest in the series.  If you’re interested, you can read more of my thoughts on the manga here.

The novel’s pretty good.  If you’re not much of a gamer, that’s a fine way to check out the story and decide for yourself if the rest of the series is worth your time.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

Available On: GameBoy Advanced, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4; also available in manga and novel form

Status: A follow-up game that takes place immediately after the first one ended, but it’s not considered the true sequel

Do I Need to Play It?

No, not really.  I certainly recommend it because it’s one of my personal favorites and I think it’s one of the best-written games in the series.  But I didn’t sit down to play it until a couple of years after finishing Kingdom Hearts 2.  Other fans will insist that it’s impossible to understand what’s going on in KH2 if you don’t play CoM, but honestly, it’s nothing a quick visit to Wikipedia wouldn’t fix.  This game also has a novel and manga adaptation and the manga is a big improvement over the first two volumes.

Speaking of the adaptations, it’s worth mentioning that CoM has two big plot twists.  Curiously, the novel doesn’t spoil Twist #1, while heavily implying and practically spoiling Twist #2.  The manga outright spoils Twist #1 about halfway through the story, while keeping Twist #2 hidden.  So make of that what you will.

Again, I do recommend this game because I love the story and the characters and the creepy castle. The theme of memories becomes very important to the series from that point onward.  But if you’re not intrigued and you’re itching to get to Kingdom Hearts 2, at least check out the novel or the manga to learn the essentials.  You won’t have missed out on too much.

Kingdom Hearts 2

Available On: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4; also available as a four-volume manga and novels

Status: The official sequel to the first game, taking place a year after the events of Chain of Memories

Do I Need to Play It?

Of course!  Now, if you want my advice and you have the means to choose between different game platforms, go with the PS3 or PS4 version.  The original game, made for the PlayStation 2, is fine and fun to play.  But the HD Remix has at least nine additional cutscenes that enhance the story, extra boss battles, an entire new area to explore, and some fun new side quests.

See, years ago, Square-Enix decided to release new versions of Kingdom Hearts, KH2, and Birth by Sleep, called “Final Mixes.”  They’re like director’s cuts of the original games that were only released in Japan.  When Square put together the collections for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, they used the Final Mix versions of each title, so we’re finally getting all of that beautiful extra content overseas.

(Before the PS2 owners start panicking, I promise you that you do not need to buy two copies of the same game.  The Final Mixes are like the Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy- they’ve got better content, but they’re not mandatory viewing to understand the sequels.)

Also, the manga adaptation is superb.  If you cannot play the Final Mix version of KH2, the manga will more than make up for what you’re missing in the story department.  Yen Press has announced that translations for the novels are also coming soon.

***

Whew!  There you have it: the first three games in the series, just before the Great Console Spread began.  These are the easiest ones to start with because they’re all available for the PS2, PS3, or PS4.  So no matter which of these PlayStations you own, you only need one to experience all three games.  Not to mention, they’re all available in the form of manga and novel adaptations.

Next time, I’ll give you the scoop on the infamous “side games.”  Which ones should you play and what’s the best way to experience and enjoy them?  Find out in Part 2!

Spiderman: Homecoming Review

Disclaimer: I’m not a Marvel comics reader.  I’ve read a few and enjoyed them, but not enough to be an expert on anything.  All I really know is that I want to see a Kamala Khan movie already.  That’s about it.  So I don’t have an opinion on how well this movie represents the Spiderman comics.

My faith in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been restored!  I’d been feeling a little bit “meh” about some of their Phase 2 movies and Civil War, but I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and the new Spiderman so much that I’m looking forward to what’s next again.  They’re well-made, well-told, fun movies.

Like Guardians 2Spiderman: Homecoming stands out by having a great villain: Michael Keaton as the Vulture.  His connection and relationship to Peter doesn’t start to get truly interesting until the third act. But his backstory and motivations aren’t needlessly complicated and he serves as a good foil to Spiderman.  I’m not going to give away any spoilers, so I’ll just say that I really liked the way his arc got resolved at the end of the movie.

Tom Holland continues to give an entertaining performance as Peter Parker.  In this movie, he’s just gotten back from his big battle with Team Stark in Civil War.  Tony says that he’ll call with future assignments…and then he doesn’t.  He thinks Peter has potential, but also knows that he’s dealing with an eager teenager who could easily get killed in action.  The film’s conflict centers around Peter trying to prove that he’s capable of officially joining the Avengers while also trying to navigate high school drama and stop the Vulture.

These three different narrative threads integrate well together and Homecoming has good pacing.  For example, Peter uses a school event in Washington D.C. as a means of transportation when he needs to track the Vulture’s movements out of state.  And as you’d expect, Peter hopes that his investigation of the Vulture will impress Tony Stark.  I appreciate that the plot never gets too complicated but doesn’t play dumb either.  It’s full of jokes concerning Peter balancing a normal teen life with his double life as Spiderman, yet these jokes don’t get old after a while.

Speaking of which, it’s nice to watch a Spiderman movie that didn’t play up the drama of Peter’s secret identity as much.  I know everyone loves Spiderman 2 from the Sam Raimi trilogy and I agree that it’s a good movie.  But I felt that it rammed you from all sides with Peter’s struggles until the third act.  Everything was going wrong for the guy in that movie.  He loses his job because he keeps abandoning it to be Spiderman.  His best friend hates him because of his connection to Spiderman.  His crush, Mary Jane, hates him because he can never make it to her play, because he keeps showing up late after fighting crime as Spiderman.  Then he watches her get engaged to another man.  He’s failing college because he’s spending all of his time crime fighting as Spiderman.  On top of that, he’s so overwhelmed by his life falling apart that he doubts whether he can still be a hero- and that doubt causes his powers to stop working at crucial moments.  The man cannot catch a break.

There’s nothing wrong with a hero who struggles; I prefer one of them over a hero who can do no wrong.  Still, I liked that Homecoming got the point across without dragging it out so much like the Sam Raimi films did.  His secret hero work can and does have negative impacts on his life without utterly ruining him.

It helps that Peter’s best friend knows his secret identity this time around.  Ned’s a fun character.  The way he and Peter react to the whole thing feels so real.  Of course he’d have so many questions about how Peter’s powers work and what he does with the Avengers.  Of course he’d struggle not to tell everyone and of course they’d be tempted to use Peter’s alter ego to impress girls at parties.

The rest of the cast works too, although Peter’s love interest, Liz Allan, doesn’t get a whole lot to do.  I like where they’re going with Michelle, the girl who makes sarcastic comments at everyone else’s expense throughout the movie.  The decision to make Flash more of an academic rival to Peter was an interesting choice.  That said, he’s still a bully who makes Peter’s life miserable, so he hasn’t changed that much, as far as I can tell.

Last, but not least, Spiderman: Homecoming has some spectacular action sequences.  The final aerial battle literally had me on the edge of my seat.  Obviously, Spiderman’s going to survive for more films, but he gets knocked around so much in this movie that it can be easy to forget that he will.  You can see why Tony Stark worries about Peter Parker.  He barely makes it out alive.

There’s also a nice touch of realism in the final battle after Peter lands on the ground and the sound becomes muted.  Having flown in an airplane on vacation recently, I struggled with my hearing because of the air pressure and it makes sense that would happen to superheroes too- especially if it’s accompanied by explosions.  This detail adds to the tension as well.  If Peter’s having temporary trouble with his hearing, then he can’t hear Vulture coming for him.  It was a small addition that didn’t last long, but a good one.

Although Spiderman: Homecoming isn’t a very deep film, it’s a lot of fun.  I’m very glad that I saw it and can’t wait for the sequels!