Spider-Man: Homecoming Review – The Best Spidey Film Ever, Full Stop.

By Mike Reyes

Thanks to Jon Watts’ sublime directing, and a cast that’s anchored by a fantastic hero and villain, Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a Spider-Man couldn’t do on the big screen.

It’s been a long damned road to Spider-Man: Homecoming. We got two great films out of the Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire run, with one absolutely abysmal one that shut down the rumored seven film cycle they were attempting. And then there were two very mixed-up films by director Marc Webb, with Andrew Garfield making a great run as Peter Parker / Spider-Man. But neither of those runs could prepare me for Spider-Man: Homecoming, as this latest film did what the franchise has never done before: it made a superior adaptation of the Spider-Man mythos.

After kicking some ass in the name of The Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is just itching to jump into the fray again in the name of Avenging justice. Unfortunately for him, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) doesn’t think he’s ready for prime-time just yet, preferring he stay on the street level. Which means that Parker’s defiant streak has picked the worst time to manifest itself, as he continues to ingratiate his super powered alter ego into the affairs of an arms dealer (Michael Keaton.)

Comic films are not the rarity that they used to be, so it’s not like Spider-Man: Homecoming has easily won its honor of being a solid, stand-up comic book film in 2017. In fact, there were two pretty decent films that came before it, with Marvel providing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and DC ponying up Wonder Woman. And yet, this latest attempt to adapt the classic character who does whatever a spider man does has given us probably the best story involving Peter Parker’s journey as a hero. With his crucial portion of Captain America: Civil War still fresh in his memory, it’s hard not to sympathize with Peter, as he just wants to be one of the heroes he looks up to.

And yet, as much as Peter / Spider-Man get involved with investigating Michael Keaton’s Vulture, the story of Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn’t float away in the wind. Rather, the big picture set-pieces only further exhibit the scale of Peter’s powers, and the world that he lives in. This means that the stakes in this freshman outing of a supposed five-film stretch are higher than they’ve ever been for Spider-Man and all involved, and that danger is felt palpably throughout the film.

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Some special attention should be given to director Jon Watts, whose debut with Cop Car back in 2015 put him on the map with working around a story with younger characters in over-their-heads danger. His confidence in directing this corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe shines through the film’s visual and storytelling panache, as he’s delivered a film so cohesive that you’d be surprised there’s three different pairs of writers attributed to the film’s script. Seeing that many names in a writing credit almost promises a patchwork narrative, but Spider-Man: Homecoming is so smooth, you’ll never see the seams. 

There’s still some elements that weigh down Spider-Man: Homecoming from becoming a perfect film, in particular the air of some artistic elements being selected “for the kids.” I can’t put my finger on it, but there are moments in the awesome mix of songs selected for this film that almost scream, “Hey guys, Peter Parker’s so cool, he listens to oldies like you!” But in the face of such a factor, the film never succumbs totally to that stigma, and you eventually get back to enjoying the film, and even the music, in no time.

Of course, no review would be complete without talking about the fact that yes, Robert Downey Jr. is in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Though for those of you thinking that Tony Stark would rule this film like his floating head on that poster the internet crucified for its heinousness, that is so far from the truth it belongs on the other end of a Chitauri wormhole. There’s certainly a fair amount of moments with both Stark and his bodyguard / friend Happy Hogan shepherding young Mr. Parker, but they’re in the film to show Peter’s eagerness to serve, with his calls going more to voicemail than vocal cameos. But as good as Tom Holland and his MCU cronies are, the supporting cast is equally as good, if not better. 

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With up-and-comers like Jacob Batalon, who plays Peter’s best friend and comedic cohort, Ned, as well as established young talent like Zendaya and Tony Revolori bringing their own star power onto the playing field, the younger cast rules this film with a well-timed fist. A truly diverse team of young actors, they make the world of Midtown Science High School that much easier to identify with, as well as a paragon of diversity.  Though it does also help that Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May and Michael Keaton’s Vulture are strong adult figures in a film that’s defined by its youth. While Tomei has the more tender part of the equation, Keaton gets to be the best villain since Captain Zemo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he does so with a complex character that is easy to identify with, despite his villainy. You can’t help but feel for the guy, as he’s never a scenery chewing baddie. He’s just a guy trying to provide for his friends and family, and he only ramps things up when pushed by the odds.

Summer movie season may already be half over, but Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of the top tier offerings of this year’s market. This movie makes you feel like it’s May all over again, with a sense of invigorating entertainment that leaves its audience eager for what’s coming down the line. This is the most balanced Spider-Man film, offering equal parts Peter, Spidey, and excitement.

My Rating: 4 / 5

 

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