Spider-Man: Homecoming FILM REVIEW
Director: Jon Watts
Screenplay: Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers
Screen Story: Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Laura Harrier, Jacob Batalon, Zendaya, Jon Favreau, Robert Downey, Jr.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
Running Time: 2 hour 13 minutes
**** out of *****
Photo: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, slings into action in Jon Watts' SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.
Spider-Man is one of the most popular comic book heroes and over the course of fifteen years the character has appeared in seven films and has been portrayed by three actors; Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland. Jon Watts' SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING has the distinction and benefit of having the character be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For fans the MCU connection was a big deal but the overriding question was that with yet another reboot will it be any good. The character left an impression with his first appearance in the MCU in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. With his first stand-alone adventure, Spidey friends can rest easy knowing that this is the beginning of something pretty special. After three films, from two different iterations featuring the title character, Spider-Man returns in the best Spidey film since Sam Raimi's iconic SPIDER-MAN 2.
One of the early mandates by producer Kevin Feige is that this new film would not be an origin story. Peter Parker is not just your average nerdy teenager. When we first meet him in the new film he's trying to balance his high school life with his burgeoning career as a crime fighter; a crime fighter who was involved in a battle amongst the Avengers. He finds himself not only trying to impress the girl he likes but also struggles to keep his secret identity hidden and win the trust and favor of billionaire Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Talk about teen angst. Fortunately, the cavalcade of writers, six in total, were able to hone this new approach into a very entertaining and fast paced adventure.
After two series, one can certainly expect to see a number of familiar characters and some brand new ones. We've already been introduced to Peter Parker and Aunt May, played by Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei, in CIVIL WAR. What was only teased upon in that film is fleshed out in the new film and given time they could become the cinematic pinnacle of the two characters. Holland is fantastic as the titular hero. He's funny, charming, gritty and has just the right attitude to play the web-slinger. Beyond that he has the acting chops to pull off some tense and dramatic moments during the film. Tomei's Aunt May is certainly the youngest version to hit the screen but she is still just as equally involved in Peter's life and growth as a man. She brings the levity when needed and the dramatic when things get serious. Jacob Batalon steals the show as Peter's best friend, Ned. Batalon provides some of the film's funniest moments and the two of them have winning chemistry that really shows these two are partners in crime or crime-fighting. Michael Keaton is Toomes, aka The Vulture. Keaton easily portrays the second-best villain in all of the Spider-Man films, Dr. Octopus gets the top spot. He's the type of villain who doesn't see what he's doing as being criminal. He's a multi-layered character and Keaton brings the menace and gravitas. Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau appear as Stark and Happy Hogan. There isn't much to say about them as they are playing characters we are all too familiar with except now they're playing in a new sandbox. Their presence doesn't feel intrusive which was a concern going in.
Watts keep things moving at a good pace, the story is never incoherent and the world-building is germane to other MCU films. It certainly feels like an MCU film but not as insular as the other series of Spider-Man films. The film would still work even with a more reduced role for Stark and company. However, things as they are it's a worthy addition to the overall universe. The fact that they dropped any attempt at an origin story certainly helps; a brief exchange between characters provides all the information required. They do add a nice touch that in a way serves as origin story where he is trying to not only hone his abilities but also establish his persona and get accustom to his Stark provided suit. Michael Giacchino, who seems to be scoring everything these days, provides a suitably heroic score.
The action set pieces are great, the story is engrossing and the characters are engaging but it simply doesn't achieve the raw cinematic power that Raimi achieved with his second Spidey film. Thanks to strong performances by the leads as the hero and villain and the fresh perspective given to the story this entry ranks as the second best in the overall Spider-Man franchise with Sam Raimi's SPIDER-MAN 2 remaining the best. It's a fun and entertaining ride on the level of the first GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and really makes one excited for this new universe that these characters now exist in. Of course like any MCU film this one also features post-credit scenes and are not to be missed. Needless to say Spider-Man will return in his own film in 2019 but will likely appear in the upcoming AVENGERS sequels as well.
***** = Outstanding ****1/2 = Excellent **** = Very Good ***1/2 = Above Average
*** = Good **1/2 = Mediocre ** = Fair *1/2 = Poor * = Bad 1/2* = Abysmal