The Daily Gamecock

Summer Releases: 'Spider-Man' excels while 'Valerian' falls short


“Spider-Man: Homecoming," released July 7

After his universally loved introduction in “Captain America: Civil War,” Spider-Man’s first solo film in the MCU had great expectations, and it manages to surpass them all with flying colors. 

In the MCU where nearly every film contains some massive, world-ending conflict, it was a much needed change of pace to have a smaller, coming-of-age story that could take time to delve into the characters of Peter Parker and Spider-Man and what they both mean and represent. This punctuated by incredible acting by Tom Holland as Spider-Man, “Homecoming” built an emotional connection that some superhero movies fail to achieve.

“Homecoming” even managed to break the Marvel trend of lackluster villains with Michael Keaton’s Vulture, who was not only strong and intimidating but also had well thought-out motivations. Vulture’s jaded, single-minded view of the world acted as the perfect foil to Parker’s youthful, somewhat naïve perspective and made for an absolute delight on the big screen. “Homecoming’s” refreshingly small-scaled plot and Holland’s quirky high school Spider-Man exuded a charming personality that made it an instant classic and easily one of the best superhero films to date.


“Valerian," released July 21

Somewhere deep inside of “Valerian’s” wacky, convoluted, cringe-inducing story and script is a good movie. 

“Valerian’s” potential can be seen clearly from the impressive and undoubtedly expensive CGI used to create its many alien creatures and planets. However, these visuals were the absolute only saving grace. From the very start, “Valerian’s” script was corny and cliché, and the acting felt incredibly wooden. From strange and flat sexual tension to the absolute cheesiest of one-liners, the movie's writing left much to be desired and is determined to distract the viewer from the visual spectacle going on before them. 

But even with the poor writing, “Valerian” could have been a decently fun, goofy sci-fi flick if it wasn’t for the shear unrelenting amount of fluff. I’m not joking when I say that a full hour could be taken out of “Valerian” without an impact on the plot.

The film seemed intent on constantly taking you from storyline to storyline without ever providing a legitimate reason to be invested in any of them. A character would be revealed and shown only a few times before dying, and then the writers would act as if we were supposed to have a strong emotional connection to them. At the end of the day, some might be able to squeeze some joy out of the film, especially those who know its source material. But to most, “Valerian” will likely be viewed as a waste of potential.