Spider-Man: Homecoming: A Review

Posted: 07/20/2017 in Uncategorized

Tom Holland

Well, I waited a little bit to see this 2nd reboot and 6th film featuring Marvel flagship character Spider-Man. Was it worth the wait? In many ways – yes. Did this film reinvent the franchise and breathe new life in the character? Yes, but to a lesser degree. Is Tom Holland now THE Spider-man, supplanting Tobey Maguire’s take on the character ? That’s a no on that one. Does Mr. Holland do a good job? Absolutely. At heart, the current take on Spidey is very good and presents a version of the character that is assuredly engaging for the newer generation of fans out there. My review follows to give the good, the bad and the superior.

For the superior, I tip my hat to Michael Keaton who brought working man intelligence, desperation and edge to his portrayal of Adrian Toomes, a man better known as long time villain the Vulture. He played him with subtlety and a nuanced bitterness, presenting him as a blue collar variant of what could have been had Tony Stark (Robert Downey) not been born to privilege. The physical depiction of the Vulture killed on big screen.  The opening seen featuring “Damage Inc” essentially doing what Toomes accuses it of doing, “cleaning up the damage created by the same people” – as they are funded by Stark himself – is a modern day parable of larger corporate shenanigans and played extremely well. It was refreshing to see a new villain, never seen on the big screen, brought forth, framed with a non-origin story. The fight sequences between Spider-Man and Vulture delivered with high flying gusto. Seeing Peter Parker in his nascent stage, making a litany of mistakes, yet still having the heart to push forth to do the right thing at all costs captured the heart of Stan Lee/Steve Ditko’s creation. It succeeded in this objective where  “The Amazing”and its sequel so incredibly failed.

The character’s movement including Holland’s own athleticism popped on the big screen, presenting a realism long sought but not seldom attained. The joy of being Spider-Man was splashed across the screen. While there is still an underlying burden of responsibility especially when his mistakes led to damages and impacts on the lives of others, at heart there is mostly a love of what he does. This has been missing since the Raimi/Maguire days and was again, refreshing. Holland captures the essence of the good guy who loses as often as he wins but never surrenders. For this fact alone, this character has maintained a healthy empathy with his fan base, more so than most super heroes. Peter Parker is an every man. He is bright, talented, kind but kind of a geek .This version however is okay with that and in his acceptance of knowing who he is, causes others to gravitate toward him so that when an attractive student who is of the popular group is interested in him, it isn’t all that far fetched. The connection between Peter and Liz Allen (Laura Harrier) worked as she interacted with him beforehand and was not an unattainable cool kid.

As to other social aspects and characterizations, here is where matters decline somewhat. There were several ‘reinventions’ of Peter Parker’s long time friends, including making Betty Brant (Anjourie Rice) a 13 year old. While I understand the powers that be want legacy films in which casts can be used for a longer duration, there is still a very large fan base that is not between the ages of 10 and 18, as such, might not find her as easily relate-able as her long time Daily Bugle counterpart last played nicely by Elizabeth Banks. Ned Leeds'(Jacob Battalon) complete reinvention allowed for Pete to have something he didn’t have in previous versions, a confidant and later “man in the chair” to guide him toward his quarry. The interaction between the two was natural and their comedic chemistry was undeniable. Flash Thompson’s reinvention fizzled with Tony Revolori playing him as a straight ass. The enigmatic Michelle played by Zendaya worked as a bright outsider but the payoff for her character accomplished what many suspected it would and this was a massive letdown in my regard. Her character as it stood was interesting and engaging. Her ‘reveal’ made it far less so.

The villain introductions occurred organically and never felt over crowded or busy. We meet two versions of the Shocker before settling on the final version Herman Schulz (Bokeem Woodbine). The effects of his tech were not overplayed and the notion of a core group of individuals with scientific knowledge and enough know how to go black market gave a bit of a heist movie feel to the film. The battle between Spider-Man and the ‘Avengers’ at a bank was superior, including the aftermath and revelations therein. Mac Gargan (Michael Mando) being introduced with due promise of future menace, unquestionably worked. The interplay between Toomes and his crew, particularly with the man who will become the Tinkerer/Phineas Mason (Michael Chernus) allowed for a proper back up/partnership which will also lead to future appearances undoubtedly.

Aunt May as a much younger and attractive woman was a mixed bag. Stark’s comment on her hotness was later  banked off via a waiter offering her an on the house dessert. Making her heritage Italian, suiting the actress’ own ethnicity allowed for a really funny scene between Peter and a sandwich store owner. Marisa Tomei played May completely differently. She is not the May of lore, nor is she the May of an established, older generation, but I have to give her credit for making the role her own.

The supporting Marvel cast including Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) enhanced rather than diminished the film. His cranky,worried uncle vibe played terrifically. The introduction of the Marvel universe began in Civil War and connected beautifully with Homecoming including a Peter Parker self-made documentary about his time with the Avengers. Another stumble however is two-fold. Making Peter so focused on becoming an Avenger at all costs while pleasing his new father figure/mentor Tony Stark did diminish the titular character somewhat. From the uber tech to the regular scoldings, Stark grew borderline overbearing at points which distracted from the fact that Peter is a brilliant kid, capable of making  a suit, web-shooters and good decisions. The AI aspect of Spider-Man’s suit was smile inducing however.

Overall, “Homecoming” was a serious step in the right direction. There is an ample amount of humor, including hilarious PSAs featuring Captain America (Chris Evans), the expected legacy cameo that always slays and most importantly a Spider-Man with heart. Due twists and surprises, along with seamless intros and cool nostalgic scoring made this a superior effort.  At over two hours, the film never felt overlong. Speed and pacing were maintained with aplomb. Spider-Man: Homecoming is fairly outstanding and certainly well worth your time.

As with most Marvel films, there are post credit scenes (2)…so stick around.

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