[THEATRICAL REVIEW] ‘SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING’ IS A THRILLING — IF FAMILIAR — SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER

It’s hard to watch a SPIDER-MAN film without thinking of, and being reminded of, the five previous Spidey pictures. Opinions of those preceding iterations aside, there’s only so many ways to show Peter Parker shoot webs and swing around New York. Fans, including this author, had grown tired of the same old Spider-Man. Enter Marvel and Iron Man to help revive the stagnant franchise by incorporating a young Peter into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

 

I was excited to see this and I liked it. However, while I entered the theater with an open mind and tried to ignore those old films, at times I was a little bored and felt like I had seen it before. Honestly, I am unsure if the movie was dragging a little or if the déjà vu I was experiencing was causing me to grow tired of the story. Marvel does what it can to give us some creative action sequences and Easter eggs but those first five movies detract from HOMECOMING, which is arguably the best SPIDER-MAN picture. I’ve had my fill of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Iron Man as well, but he is integral in what makes this new Spidey different than the old Spidey(s). Thankfully, we were already re-introduced to Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland) in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, and avoid the origin story and character development here.

The film’s open offers a quick refresher of Peter’s role in CIVIL WAR from his perspective via footage he shoots on his cell phone. It’s an entertaining, funny recap for those that didn’t see the third CAPTAIN AMERICA film and a nice reminder that Peter is, in fact, a fifteen-year-old kid. He is a bored, impatient, hormonal teenager. Parker spends his days at school fawning over Liz (no, not Gwen or MJ this time) and counting the minutes until he can fight crime and help old ladies cross the street. New York City has seen the Avengers battle aliens in Manhattan, so Spider-Man isn’t exactly surprising New Yorkers and Peter yearns to be something greater.

 

 

He’s desperate to impress Tony Stark and join the Avengers, comically calling his after school web-slinging an “internship.” But he’s just a kid, and surprise, he ain’t ready for the big time. Peter sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong and bites off more than he can chew on multiple occasions continually interfering with Michael Keaton’s Vulture and his cronies as they attempt to steal and sell alien technology and weapons. Adrian (Keaton) loses a government contract cleaning up the mess the Avengers made during their 2012 NYC battle with Loki (there’s a timeline issue here as well, but it’s not important) and he decides to make a career change. Keaton is excellent as usual, and it’s nice to see a villain just trying to “earn a living,” instead of actively attacking people and planets.

This is a coming of age movie, only the protagonist has super powers. It’s more about Peter growing and maturing than it is about him fighting crime. It’s a refreshing arc for a comic book movie. But I credit that to Tom Holland, who is so damn good as Peter Parker – he’s an awkward, clumsy, energetic, nosey teenager, and Holland portrays these traits perfectly, probably because he himself is just a kid. Holland was a scene stealer in CIVIL WAR and he is the best part of Homecoming, which boasts a very excellent and diverse cast.

 

 

Involving Tony Stark and the Avengers may seem desperate, but it allows Marvel to enhance the Spider-man experience while staying true to the comics. Stark takes Peter under his tutelage, just like he does during the CIVIL WAR plotline in the comics, and it offers some gratifying Easter Eggs for the comic book readers. Stark and Iron Man are here to mentor Peter, not fight his battles and take over this film, something I was worried about going into it. There are some cool action sequences that we wouldn’t get from a stand-alone Spider-Man movie without Tony Stark’s billions of dollars, and some fun gags with Spidey’s new Iron-Man like suit.

Stark’s presence helps offer some sharp, colorful special effects as well, which Marvel is the gold standard for at this point. I’d also like to note how much I dug the Vulture’s costume – not too over the top and rather practical, or as practical as it could be for a suit constructed with alien technology.

 

Aside from a few hiccups, slow moving parts, and a somewhat predictable plot (it’s hard not to predict basic plot points of superhero films at this point), Spider-Man: Homecoming is an amusing and pleasing summer blockbuster. While I may have some issues with the story and similarities that are too close to Sony’s SPIDER-MAN movies, Sony asking for Marvel to help integrate Spider-Man into the MCU (along with the casting of Tom Holland) has revived the character and revitalized the franchise.

 

JONATHAN HOLUBIAK

@jonnychitown

Jonathan Holubiak
Jonathan Holubiak

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