Friday, July 7, 2017


Many years ago, the creators and owners of the beloved Spider-Man character sold off the legal rights to make movies based on everyone’s favorite web-crawler, and the results have been a mixed bag of good-to-great-to-shit through six films. Here in 2017, after a web of legal haggling, Spidey has finally come back home to Marvel, where the character can now join their ongoing connected series of films. The end result is SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, and the best the web-slinger has ever been on the screen.

Fifteen year-old high school student Peter Parker (Tom Holland) struggles to balance his teenage life with his superhero activities as Spider-Man, including keeping his identity away from his friends and his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). But things get even more difficult when Peter stumbles upon the business of Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), an underground arms-dealer manufacturing weapons from alien technology.

The best kind of superhero films are the ones that find a clever way to blend the genre with a familiar category of film; such as fantasy, war, detectives, and even horror. For the first time ever for Marvel, and maybe even the genre overall, HOMECOMING embraces the coming-of-age tale in the style of a 1980’s high school drama/comedy. Most of the film’s business has to do with Peter trying to get a date for the Homecoming dance, keeping up in class, and playing cat-and-mouse with his friends and aunt in keeping his identity secret…while trying to figure out who is making these deadly weapons. Marvel veteran Tony Stark/Iron Man (reprised by Robert Downey Jr.) comes in as a protective mentor for Peter, and that adds an enrichening father-son element to the film.

Although this is a new version of the character, HOMECOMING and director Jon Watts seem to be aware that audiences are about tired of seeing another origin tale…so exactly how Peter got his powers is explained here and there over the course of two or three lines. This gives Watts more time to spend with Peter, and it pays off. This is a story about a kid who just wants to be more and is constantly told by peers, mentors, and enemies that he can’t, and it’s easy to root for him because we’ve all been there.

When Toomes gets into his bad-guy identity known as The Vulture (a menacing, high-tech winged suit), things shift from an awkward teenager tale to a blast of an action movie. Spectacular set-pieces ranging from a simple car-chase to a river-ferry disaster, to a dizzying climb up the Washington Monument are breathtaking, and the sheer energy Watts pumps into the film makes for great amount of fun; not to mention a ton of gut-busting laughs. But despite the amount of action, Watts manages to keep the film very grounded; unlike most superhero tales with city-smashing consequences, the stakes here are much smaller and its more of personal tale.

Tom Holland is absolutely charming as Peter, nailing every beat as a cocky yet earnest kid, and his scenes with the veteran actors prove he can hold his own against anyone. Michael Keaton is superb and gives every bit of menace needed, along with an unexpected backstory that gives him great depth and a claim to one of the best Marvel villains put to screen. Marisa Tomei is also excellent, and Robert Downey Jr. impresses in what amounts to an extended cameo. Peter’s classmates are well-cast (Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, and Tony Revolori), and Donald Glover pops in here and there. There are also a few surprise and welcome cameos from established Marvel characters which add to the fun.

Getting into the third act, a whopper of a twist turns the entire film on its head, and sets up another spectacular set-piece which sends the film out on a high-note. Despite the spectacle, HOMECOMING never forgets to remind us that there is a kid mixed up in all of this, and that type of carefully planned and executed balance makes it a worthy entry in Marvel’s catalog and into the overall genre. The amount of heart and up-frontness makes it very likeable, and makes coming home the most comfortable feeling we know. That’s the way it should be.


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