9.5 out of 10
Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Directed by Jon Watts
Spider-Man: Homecoming Review #2:
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, nothing is the same for Peter Parker. Being swept away by Tony Stark into the world of the Avengers has made his everyday high school life… well… boring. Yes, he has his best friend Ned and his crush Liz, but nothing else measures up. He drops band, stops paying attention in school, misses Academic Decathlon meetings, and spends most of his time watching the clock and waiting to get out of school to be Spider-Man. Matters aren’t helped when Stark gives him a high-tech suit filled with bells and whistles he hasn’t entirely unlocked yet. But the phone never rings and Peter is left waiting.
One day while out superheroing, Spidey runs across a group of bank robbers with incredibly high-tech weapons. It turns out they have been scavenged from the Avengers’ battles all over the world with aliens, dark elves, and other villains. Now they are being modified and proliferated through the criminal community by Adrian Toomes. In fact, he’s created his own weaponry in the form of a winged suit that allows him to fly. Peter desperately tries to alert his handler Happy Hogan but he is repeatedly brushed off. Eager to prove himself, he decides to take matters into his own hands. But is he fully ready for the responsibility of his spider powers?
Spider-Man: Homecoming is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.
I’ve been a fan of all the Spider-Man movies, so I was looking forward to Spider-Man: Homecoming. I was not, however, expecting to walk out of the theater thinking I had not only seen the best Spider-Man movie made to date, but one of the most entertaining movies of 2017. This film just hits everything right from the humor to the action to the acting to the writing. It was extraordinarily fun.
First of all, Tom Holland is amazing as Peter Parker. While Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield portrayed older incarnations of Parker, Holland portrays him as a 15-year old. Some of the best Spider-Man comics were set in his high school years and Holland nails his performance as the awkward teenage superhero. He’s nerdy. He’s awkward. He’s shy. He goes through all the teenage rites of passage, just with the added burden of spider powers. Holland manages to handle the action, drama, and comedy masterfully. And the best superhero movies don’t feature the heroes in their prime. They feature the heroes in their formative years where they are just getting a hang of their powers and their roles in the world. Look at the first Iron Man, Wonder Woman, The Rocketeer, and Captain America: The First Avenger. The characters weren’t perfect or invincible. They were flawed. And Holland perfectly captures young Peter’s bad luck, awkwardness, and newbie superhero errors. It was also a wise decision to jettison Spider-Man’s origin. We know it. We’ve seen it twice before. By skipping it and moving onto the story, it was time well spent while also allowing them to ignore some of the brooding that weighed down previous Spider-Man films. Tom Holland gets to focus primarily on the joy of being Spider-Man and he manages to play the role beyond expectations.
But the rest of the cast all have moments to shine. Random kids walking down the hall in the school generate laughs. The teachers are funny. Bystanders during the battles get moments to add comedy. It’s fantastic how the spotlight is shared among everyone and the end product is just so enjoyable. Focusing on the supporting cast, Jacob Batalon steals scene after scene as Ganke… I mean Ned. Reading the “Ultimate Spider-Man” comics, you realize how important it is for young Peter Parker to share his joys, sorrows, aspirations, and tragedies with a friend. Batalon perfectly fills that role and manages to add even more humor to the already funny movie. Also impressive is Zendaya as the surly Michelle. If this cast was modelled after The Breakfast Club, Michelle is Ally Sheedy’s character. Even though she’s grouchy, sarcastic, and brooding, she’s still immensely likable. We all had a friend like her in high school. Michael Keaton is fantastic as Adrian Toomes, aka The Vulture. I never in a million years would have thought the Vulture would be a viable movie villain for Spider-Man, but the complete retooling of the character makes him work at every level. He’s a lot like Walter White in Breaking Bad. He’s a good, hard working guy that is screwed by the system and starts down a dark path that leads to his destruction. Toomes also ends up being a critical link between the Sony Spider-Man world and the Avengers. Having him steal technology from the battles is a great bridge between the cinematic worlds. On the cameo front, Donald Glover was funny as Aaron Davis and lays down the foundation for us to see Miles Morales as Ultimate Spider-Man in the future. Marisa Tomei is sexy and funny as May Parker (a sentence I never expected to say in relation to Aunt May). And it’s a real treat to see Jon Favreau return as Happy Hogan, the reluctant babysitter of Peter Parker. He has great chemistry with Peter Parker, who seems like an energetic puppy next to him. Then, of course, you have Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. He’s great with Holland as well and there’s an entertaining relationship between the two. You have Peter, who longs for a father figure. Then you have Stark, who has no children and had a dysfunctional relationship with his father. When you put the two characters together you end up with an interesting dynamic unique to the Marvel Universe.
I must admit that I was unfamiliar with director Jon Watts, but he really came out of nowhere and knocked it out of the park. He got hilarious performances out of the cast. He nailed the tone perfectly. From top to bottom he just got it all right. I’m really looking forward to what he does next and I’m glad he’s coming back for more Spider-Man. And when a movie has six people credited for the screenplay, it smells of too many cooks in the kitchen, but this time around the end result is near perfection. Credits go to Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers. Somehow they made magic together. While I’m highlighting crew members, I also have to give recognition to composer Michael Giacchino. Between this, Rogue One, Doctor Strange, and War for the Planet of the Apes, this guy has been having an incredible year. Can he be the next John Williams? Until I walk out of one of his movies humming the theme song, no, but he’s making an excellent case for it.
If you’re a fan of the Marvel Comics, you’ll find a lot here to love. One scene comes straight from “Amazing Spider-Man” #33 and one of the classic Spidey covers. Other scenes are straight from the “Ultimate Spider-Man” comics by Brian Michael Bendis. Then there are Easter Eggs featuring minor characters like Betty Brant, the Shocker, Scorpion, and more. And as a longtime comics fan, I was surprised to see Damage Control added to the cinematic universe. Tyne Daly even appears as Anne Marie Hoag and she’s actually pretty cool in the role. If you’re a comic fan, you’ll have a big stupid grin on your face most of the movie just like I did.
What Didn’t Work:
Spider-Man: Homecoming is almost flawless. Anything I highlight here is going to be a minor nitpick.
I did feel like Tony Stark was a little bit too much of a stick in the mud, but I suppose if we’re seeing him through Peter’s eyes, that’s exactly what he’s supposed to be.
This film was also incredibly crowd-pleasing to young and old alike, yet there were some profanities added that did nothing for the humor and weren’t really appropriate for young Spider-Man fans. The writing was so strong on this film they could have left them out and nobody would have noticed and still loved the film. That would have been an impressive writing feat rarely seen in Hollywood.
Finally, the ending battle is a tad anticlimactic, but it was generally satisfying nevertheless.
The Bottom Line:
Spider-Man: Homecoming is my new favorite Spider-Man film, my favorite film of the summer, and possibly my favorite film of 2017. Treat yoself and web sling into a theater on opening day.