07th Jul2017

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Review – A Second Opinion

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Zendaya | Written by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers | Directed by Jon Watts

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After a Spider-Man trilogy that hasn’t aged well in light of the newer superhero films, and after a failed reboot by Sony that included two lackluster films (to put it gently), Sony has teamed up with Marvel to make the Spider-Man film that fans have been wanting for decades. This time, Tom Holland takes up the web as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, a teenager trying to juggle his life as a teenager and as the newest New York superhero. Parker wants nothing more than to be the next member of the Avengers and under the watchful eye of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), he’s well on his way to the being the best friendly neighborhood Spider-Man until Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) sets New York in his sight.

After losing his salvage company’s contract cleaning up disaster areas to Stark’s new company, Damage Control, Toomes decides to use alien technology as weapons to sell to the criminal element of New York City. Spider-Man, after waiting patiently to be Stark’s new protégé, decides to take matters into his own hands and stop Toomes/Vulture on his own, much to Stark’s protest.

The Good:

  • No Uncle Ben backstory. After five previous films, the general audience understands why Parker does what he does and finally the writers realize not to waste time rehashing a story that has been told too many times. Thank you, Mr. Goldstein and Mr. Daley.
  • Super-villain cameos. I won’t spoil the surprises but Spider-Man actually fights numerous villains from the comic books and not just nameless thugs. Fans of the comics will enjoy seeing some lesser known villains get the film treatment and while they may not be more than just filler for Spider-Man to wrestle with, the audience gets to see some fresh faces.
  • New York City. Jon Watts directs a film that, much like the comic books, makes New York City a living, breathing character as much as Spider-Man. Watts makes New York City feel alive with real people and not just stock caricatures that the previous films accomplished. When Spider-Man swings past buildings, it feels like he knows every nook in the city and actually loves and wants to protect New York.
  • Tom Holland. Tobey Maguire helped make the cinematic Spider-Man famous but lacked in authenticity when it came to Parker. Andrew Garfield nailed the persona of Parker but couldn’t figure out the authenticity of Spider-Man. Holland brings the complete package to the role and future actors in this role will be compared to Holland.
  • Holland pins down the insecure teenage angst of Parker but brings the still-learning but humorous Spider-Man persona to the superhero. Holland has great repertoire as the nephew of Aunt May (Marissa Tomei) and he is confident in his scenes with the veteran Downey. Holland may not have been a household name before this film but after Homecoming, everyone will realize he is Spider-Man.

The Bad:

  • Nothing.

The Middling:

  • Aunt May. It’s not that Tomei does not fit the typical Aunt May-type. It’s that the film doesn’t give anything for Aunt May to do and despite Tomei doing an admirable job, there just isn’t a chance to spread her wings with this character. The one redeeming part for Tomei is that she gets the funniest line in the whole film.
  • The Vulture. Keaton does a fun and at times, great job as Toomes/Vulture but this is more about the writers “telling and not showing” why he does what he does. Toomes states a few times that he sells weapons to criminals to support his and his co-workers’ family, and while admirable in a deranged way, that is about as far as his motivation gets in the film. This motivation is not helped by a small, surprising twist later in the film that feels more forced and included just for shock value rather than for an actual poignant plot twist. We don’t meet Toomes’ family till the final act and by that point, too much time has passed for the audience to care about his motivations.

Final Grade: B (Good but the future of this franchise looks great)

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the Spider-Man film that Sony should have made years ago. Despite taking too long to reach an agreement with Marvel, Sony eventually did the right thing and Spider-Man is where he belongs, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film is fun from the start and despite a few small hiccups, everyone from kids to adults will enjoy the reboot that actually gets it right.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here
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