Review - 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'
The trailers for Spider-man: Homecoming really had me worried that this was going to be another "just fine but not great" Spider-man film. There really wasn't anything in the marketing that excited me about the character. The only thing that peaked my interest was the fact that it was now in the always-reliable hands of Marvel Studios. Having finally seen it, I can now say that Jon Watt's Spider-man: Homecoming is, against all odds; one of the most refreshing and delightful films of the year.
I'm of the belief that there really hasn't been an outright "bad" Spider-man film yet. In my mind, the first two Sam Raimi Spider-man movies are classics and still stand the test of time. I also think that The first Amazing Spider-man film by Marc Webb is pretty good, even if it lacks the heart of the Raimi films. Then we have the remaining two; Spider-man 3 and The Amazing Spider-man 2, which everyone attacks like a pack of ravenous hyenas. I've dissected these two very flawed films and while yes, there are certainly some terrible and baffling decisions made in both of them, there are also some truly great moments that really hit the right notes. Either way, The Amazing Spider-Man films just weren't doing it for fans and the franchise was clearly running out of gas. The only plausible thing to do with the property to rejuvenate interest without having to wait, say, ten years for a reboot, was to hand the reigns over to Marvel Studios.
Spider-Man: Homecoming, while not the best Spider-Man film to grace the silver screen, is easily the best Spider-Man film since Raimi's Spider-Man 2. The best thing I can say about Homecoming is that it is just so refreshing in the way it depicts its characters and tells its story. There is barely anything that seems like a retread of previous material here. I'm going to spoil some of the things that are NOT in this movie that I was happy to NOT see for the second or third time. Here goes: Ben's death, J. Jonah Jameson, a romantic subplot between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, Harry Osbourne, Norman Osbourne/Green Goblin presence and the spider bite and development of powers. None of that is in this movie. I could tell that Marvel Studios and the director, Jon Watts were like; "what hasn't the audience seen? How can we make this fresh and new again?", and the result of that is highly evident.
Let's discuss Tom Holland. I liked his presence in Captain America: Civil War, but was also one of the few that wasn't quite convinced that he was the "perfect Spider-man" yet. Sure, in the 15 minutes of screen time he had in that film he acted like Spider-man, but I didn't get the scope of the character that can only be achieved in a solo film. I can say now without a doubt that Holland is an excellent Spider-man, and an excellent Peter Parker, which can't really be said for either Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire, who were good and one-or-the-other but not both. Tom Holland has a vulnerability to him that makes him relate-able and like-able. In addition to this, the humor is spot-on. We finally have a version of Spider-man with the perfect amount of goofy quippage.
I also love his friend, Ned, played by the charming and hilarious Jacob Batalon. Honestly, this kid is one of the best audience surrogates to Peter Parker/Spider-man and has undeniably chemistry with Holland. Michael Keaton also turns in a memorable performance as the villain, The Vulture. He's still short-changed a little, but he gets one very memorable scenes and solidifies him as one of the best MCU villains so far. I was also relieved to find out that Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) doesn't steal the show from Holland, he's in maybe 10-15 minutes of the film and it's also a relief that he didn't end up being the father figure to Peter Parker. My only disappointment regarding the cast is the lack of Aunt May, who is played by Marissa Tomei, she gets very little screen time and I would have liked to have seen more scenes with her.
Now, despite how good this film is, it does have some problems. For one, the middle of this film sags a bit, mainly because it lacks a big hook. I wasn't ever bored, but there were certainly a glut of scenes that lacked the punch of the first or third act. There's a big reveal at the end of the second act that really gets the wheels spinning again, but up until that point the film was sort of treading water.
The action sequences in Spider-Man: Homecoming are also pretty underwhelming. If there's one thing The Amazing Spider-man films got right, it was capturing the visceral, vertigo-inducing traversal skills of the wall-crawler. I didn't find any of the sequences in Homecoming to be particularly inventive and the CG is more notice-able here than it was in previous iterations. That's not to say that any of it is bad, but this film clearly had its mind on being more of a character piece than an action film. I'm definitely not complaining that they took this route as I think it really benefits the character, just pointing out that when there was action, it wasn't executed as well as it has been in the past.
These faint criticisms really don't bring down the film much at all. Marvel Studios clearly knew the film they wanted to make and they achieved everything they set out to do. Spider-man: Homecoming has abundant heart, priceless character moments and a very likable Spider-man/Peter Parker in the from of Tom Holland. Everything said, I can confidently say that Spider-man is on the right track and I can't wait to see where they take the character next.