By Victoria Alexander, Film Critic

Las Vegas Informer

SPIDER-MAN will soon be celebrating his 15th birthday. Marvel Studios decided that 11% of moviegoers age 12-17 is the demographic they are investing in.

According to the MPAA, the population of the United States and Canada age two and over totaled 338 million people in 2014, with 68 percent, or 229.7 million, going to the movies at least once. The 12-17 age group represents 15% of the most frequent moviegoers. (Source: MPAA U.S./Canada Theatrical Market Statistics, Attendance Demographics for 2014, March 2015.)

The other franchise that opened a week after SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (S-M: H), is Paramount’s TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT. It is still a cash cow for Paramount but  needs to make its real money with the international box office. However, says screenrant.com says that “audiences seem to have grown tired of what Michael Bay has in store.” Its opening weekend was the lowest the franchise has seen thus far by a rather significant margin.

The movie franchise might be on its last legs, but there is always the Broadway musical.

Studios will run their franchises into the mud. And while it is there, all muddy and bruised, they turn out a few more. After all, they are not rebuilding the Transformers from the ground up every time. Its all there.

Think about how they ruined the TERMINATOR franchise.

So with S-P:H, Marvel Studios takes us way back to high school. Are we seeing too many movies set in high schools? This week WISH UPON immediately comes to mind.

Peter/Spidey (Tom Holland) has had his spider-like super abilities for six months. Be damned if you are not on top of the Spider-Man iconography.  Thank goodness, S-P:H doesn’t need to rehash that radioactive origin story.

But it does focus on how a nearly 15-year-old handles being a superhero like Captain America (Chris Evans) and his idol, old guy Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). This is a world where everyone is following the adventures of the AVENGERS. Spidey wants in.

Stark has an omnipresence that gives him access to everything, including the progress of Spidey. Spidey is Stark’s protégé.  Being a man with a fat, imperial empire of money, Stark has given Spidey his very own multi-powerful super-suit. In the suit, Spidey can laugh at Superman and make Thor look silly in that flowing cape.

Stark even provides Spidey with a guardian, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). How Favreau has kept his limo driver role in the franchise with increasingly more screen time every outing is not a superpower but a miracle.

It took six writers credited with writing the screenplay – which means all the other writers who contributed to the screenplay were further down the writers hierarchy and did not have the right agent to get a screen credit.

Spidey has a semi-hot guardian, his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Too sexy and we would wonder why she wasn’t hooking up with someone.

As soon as the school day ends, Peter begins his self-appointed job as a crime fighter. And here is my only complaint.

Maybe its because I own a house, or the state of the U.S. economy, but when Spidey tramples through a neigborhood of middle-class homes, destroying property along the way, I was annoyed. When he irresponsibly causes his hardworking friend’s corner grocery store to be engulfed in flames, its just the cost of fighting petty crime.

I kept thinking that Stark would rebuild the grocery store and have Happy go along Spidey’s path and repair the shed and the other property he destroyed.

Remember the alien craft that crashed in New York? Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) was unceremoniously relieved of the job to clean up the debris. So he decides to take a few pieces to his warehouse and use the technology to make himself – and his guys – rich. With Iron Man as a template, Toomes build his own body-wearing flying machine.

Back at school, Peter has a crush on Liz (Laura Harrier). He belongs to a super tech group that includes Michelle (Zendaya) and best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon).

It doesn’t take long before Ned learns Peter’s secret identity and now he “wants in.”

Stripping Peter’s “Stark-approved” suit – if only to shut up that lady who keeps giving Spidey statistical  analysis of upcoming events – Spidey can now have access to the advanced skills of the suit.

The new suit makes coffee, answers emails and writes sick day notes to the school.

The suit has hidden mega-advanced powers and Peter and Ned fiddle with it and – as Archimedes would say – eureka! Spidey is now a fully-equipped superhero.

Spidey wants to do more than fight petty crime. He can do more than stop the guy stealing donuts and helping old ladies carry their groceries. Spidey finds his biggest challenge is stopping the Vulture – it’s Toomes moniker – from destroying the world. Ignoring Stark’s rules of superhero protocols, he goes on the hunt for his first, high-ranking villain.

While so many people hate to look back of their own high school experience, somehow Hollywood writers feel setting everything is high school is just perfect as a way of relating to their target audience.

With new Spidey anointed as a 15-year-old, there will be plenty more to come. There is 3 more years of high school, then 4 years of college, then apprenticeship at Stark World and then a naming ceremony as an Avenger.

This is the best Spiderman movie. The cabal of writers made this the best reboot of the tired franchise. Holland is wonderful with an inner joy that comes through. Zendaya – taking the small, but best role – will be a necessary addition to the sequels.

Evans nearly takes the movie away from everyone.

Victoria Alexander 

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com

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