MOVIE: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
STARRING: TOM HOLLAND; MICHAEL KEATON; ROBERT DOWNEY JR. MARISA TOMEI
DIRECTED BY: JON WATTS
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
In the last few years the landscape of comic book cinema has swayed back and forth, with the low point of superhero fatigue and the high moments revealing how good the genre can be. In 2017, the portrayal of heroic characters has come roaring back, with multiple films- Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Wonder Woman, all earning “fresh” status from Rotten Tomatoes and bundles of cash at the box office. Yet, no other super hero (okay maybe Superman still needs one) has needed a more positive reboot than Spider-Man. Sony hands over the keys for the newest installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Spider-Man: Homecoming, and it feels like a B-12 shot of energy, arriving in the form of bright new star Tom Holland as the web slinger, in this grounded and fun filled adventure.
What director Jon Watts (Cop Car) and a surprising SIX! Yes, six credited writers- Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, and Watts have done is skipped the origin mumbo jumbo, picking up after the few moments we saw of Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War. We know he was bitten by a radioactive spider and we know his uncle Ben is out of the picture, so they don't waste any time on that. We're back in New York, during Peter's coming of age sophomore year of high school, with a tone that is like a John Hughes movie. Our hero is a science buff, followed alongside by his hilarious buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon). They're the kids that are barely noticed, sometimes mocked by loner Michelle (or as she goes by- M.J. played by Zendaya), and trying to catch the eye of the popular Liz (Laura Harrier). Meanwhile, Peter waits patiently for a call by Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) or Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), so he can help the Avengers. But...until he gets that call, Peter must learn to be an ordinary kid, living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), fighting neighborhood crime with his new high-tech Spidey suit.
This being the third version of Spider-Man, there's a lot that could go wrong. What Spider-Man: Homecoming has going for it is two things: the charisma of Tom Holland and Marvel's first fully developed villain- Adrian Toomes aka Vulture (played wickedly by Michael Keaton). Holland is energetic, carrying a vibrant attitude, which was extremely lacking in Andrew Garfield's whiney attempts. There is also depth to the motivation of our bad guy. He's a fired construction worker, who found some of the foreign matter from the wreckage left by the aliens in The Avengers. This material gives him high-flying super powers and a side job supplying powerful weapons to bad dudes. He's also a family man, blue collar, and pissed off at the little guys being crushed by higher-ups on the job. This allows Keaton to step away from the seriousness of Birdman and have fun with his evil side. He feels vindicated by his new found power and nothing is going to get in his way...not even Spider-Man.
Much like Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, there is plenty of room for fantastic action sequences, and Homecoming has three of them. A battle with Vulture on the Staten Island Ferry, a rescue mission located at the Washington monument, and a final fight among the clouds, all spectacularly directed by Watts. There is more than enough depth to Peter Parkers human struggles, balancing his hopes to be taken seriously as a crime fighter by Tony Stark (Downey Jr.'s Stark has witty conversations with Parker throughout), especially when his super suit is taken away, and finding out that adults can be just as complicated as high school calculus.
In the end, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a joyous return to form for the web-shooting, crime-fighting kid. At a bit over two hours, one does begin to feel the length of this film, but it's never boring. That's because Tom Holland is an instant star, showing off athleticism, charm, and confidence. You may wonder if this Spider-Man is better than the Sam Rami versions? Well, it's not as good as those first two, but it's the perfect relaunch to get your Spidey senses tingling.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady