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Spider-Man – Homecoming (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

Spider-Man – Homecoming


Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly, Angourie Rice, Abraham Attah, Hannibal Buress, Kenneth Choi, Selenis Levya, Martin Starr, Garcelle Beauvais, Michael Chernus, Michael Mando, Logan Marshall-Green, J.J. Totah, Tiffany Espensen, Isabella Amara, Michael Barbieri, Amy Hill, Stan Lee, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Evans and the voice of Jennifer Connelly.

Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers.

Directed by Jon Watts.

Distributed by Columbia Pictures. 133 minutes. Rated PG.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the sixth Spider-Man movie in the last 15 years, and it is also part of the third series of films about the superhero, with the third different actor brought in to play Peter Parker and his arachnid alter ego. This would seem a little counter-intuitive. If the films were doing well, why would they have to reboot the series twice and keep recasting them? If the films were doing poorly, why would they keep making them?

There is a quite simple business explanation for these questions. If Columbia Pictures / Sony stops making movies about the web-slinger, his character rights will revert to Marvel Studios, which is now owned by Columbia’s competitor Disney.

However, if Sony’s bottom line is the only reason for them to continue to make the movies, why would we possibly care to continue showing up at the box office and filling the Sony coffers? Coming into this latest reboot, the character is in a three-film slump: Spider-Man 3 was an over-busy and undercooked end to Sam Raimi’s take on the series, and Marc Webb’s two The Amazing Spider-Man films were competent, but easily forgettable.

The new film does have some aspects going in its favor, though. For one thing, Columbia and Marvel Studios have reached an agreement to allow Spider-Man into the Marvel Universe of films. Essentially, Columbia allowed Marvel/Disney to use the Spider-Man character in all-star segments of Captain America: Civil War. In return Marvel/Disney allowed this film to feature Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his assistant Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), as well as allowing cameo appearances by Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Captain America (Chris Evans).

As stated above, we received a sneak peek at the latest incarnation of Spider-Man as a teen boy (played by Tom Holland) in Captain America: Civil War. Honestly, it was not a good sign for this movie: the character seemed like goofball comic relief in that very over-serious opus.

Therefore, after planting that concern in fans’ minds, the pleasant surprise about Spider-Man: Homecoming is how damned good the movie is and how well Tom Holland wears the blue and red tights. By turning Peter Parker into a fifteen-year-old high school student, balancing his new-found super powers with final exams and puppy love, Homecoming regains the good-natured sweetness of the first two Tobey Maguire films.

Not only is it the best Spider-Man film since Spider-Man 2, it’s also the most effortlessly enjoyable Marvel Universe film since Captain America: The Winter Soldier three long years ago. Spider-Man: Homecoming is not overwhelmed by the Marvel mythology, it is not facing the end of the world, entire cities are not decimated. To paraphrase the old Cyndi Lauper hit, in this film: Spider-Men just want to have fun.

In service of that goal, Homecoming is surprisingly funny. In fact, on occasion, the jokiness overwhelms the sometimes-slight storyline. However, for the most part the filmmakers can balance the jokes, the action and the thrills.

Also in service of this is the inspired hiring of Michael Keaton as the bad guy, Adrian Toomes, a/k/a The Vulture. Keaton plays Toomes as a man who is not completely evil, in fact he’s probably the most nuanced and likable Marvel villain since Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) in the first Iron Man.

And, thankfully, they did not redo the Spider-Man origin story for the third time of those six films. When we join the story, Peter already has his powers, but hasn’t learned how to use them yet. Uncle Ben is already dead, but barely plays a part in the story (he is mentioned in passing, and that’s it.).

There are some little things we’ll have to get used to – a hot Aunt May played by Marisa Tomei? – but for the first time in well over 10 years, there is a reason to have high hopes for the cinematic friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: July 7, 2017.

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