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« Demented Beauty in "A Cure for Wellness" | Main | Review: Alison Maclean Returns with 'The Rehearsal' »
Saturday
Jul082017

Review: "Spider-Man: Homecoming"

by Chris Feil

It’s another go around the spider’s web again. With Spider-Man: Homecoming, the second reboot in under a decade, Peter Parker cashes in some MCU cache in attempt to regain audience enthusiasm after a string of disappointments. The good news is that director Jon Watts (Cop Car) and team have delivered a distinct revamp that may be far off from the cinematic heights of Sam Raimi’s first films, but is still one of the most entertaining. As we last saw him in Captain America: Civil War this is our youngest Spider-Man yet, and he may not be ready for his crime-fighting responsibilities yet.

This Spider-Man shines with a comic identity unique to both previous incarnations and the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. There are more stylistic riffs, like the opening “documentary” Peter creates, that make an otherwise fairly safe superhero film feel fresh and not overly manicured. Taking more of a page from the 80s animated series, this is the most wise-cracking, aw-shucks webslinger, as satisfying as he is on screen thanks to the effortless charms of Tom Holland.

Holland’s Civil War scene-stealing and “Umbrella” awe-inspiring lipsyncing weren’t flukes - we’ve got a major young star in the making, with comic chops and charisma to spare. His Spidey is ambitious and eager, desperate for the approval of Tony Stark and a place alongside his Avengers. While his idolization of the superheroes he grew up with approaches commentary on the blind loyalty of the fanbase, Holland keeps the film grounded with believable youthful restlessness.

This Spider-Man entry gives the hero and the audience a little bit of breathing space, giving us a lively ensemble that focuses less on reflecting series iconography and more on giving the audience characters to care about. There are a few MCU familiars (with Robert Downey Jr. playing a significant role), but the standouts are Peter’s friends and Marisa Tomei’s fidgety Aunt Mae. Zendaya comes with unexpectedly dry comic chops, a hilarious scene stealer and fun opposite to Peter’s enthusiasm. Jacob Batalon as Peter’s bestie and confidant Ned is the uproarious audience surrogate, his wide-eyed giddiness helping us get pretty amped even if we’re grown weary of the webslinger.

Michael Keaton’s Vulture reflects contemporary concerns, but while he is given more development than most Marvel cinematic villains he remains only a mildly compelling one. The attempts to attach him to the larger MCU and Peter’s journey become a bit convoluted for an otherwise nimble film, and his moral compass doesn’t always feel coherent. Keaton however is as absorbing as ever and sells the characters flimsier points with his intimidating presence - and without a distracting nod to all his superhero history.

Though everyone in this diverse ensemble gets a moment to shine, Homecoming doesn’t give its women much to do beyond circling Peter’s orbit. This is especially true for both Tomei and Zendaya, despite the unique energy they both bring to a film delivering mostly the same (however pleasant) notes. Their laugh-per-minute ratio rivals that of even the hero himself, but their parts remain all too small.

You can really only feel the films’ six (SIX!) credited screenwriters in its dulled edges and strictly-followed formula. Homecoming’s comic ingenuity doesn’t carry over to the action, with the most exciting set pieces are in the first half before the battling become familiar.  The film might work best for audiences if approached as a high school comedy / action hybrid, with a stronger emphasis on the comedic elements. You can safely put the film in the upper ranks of MCU films, but as far as its thrills are concerned, it falls somewhere in the middle.

Taking as many cues from high-school classics as superhero ones, Spider-Man: Homecoming breathes new life into a franchise we had grown weary of.

Grade: B

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Reader Comments (18)

I believe you mean "cachet", not "cache".

July 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

I love Spider Manbut will not see this movie because once again Iron Man just like he did in " Captain America: Civil War" is hogging up the scenery

July 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Despite what the trailers and the posters say, Iron Man (like the actual Iron Man) is actually BARELY in the movie. Two scenes. That's it. Tony Stark does appear quite a bit more though but not by much.

July 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

I'll be honest. I enjoyed Guardians II and Spider-man: Homecoming more than Wonder Woman.

July 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

@Irvin - Tony Stark is Iron Man though. And while I like the character, he takes up way too much space now in MCU. I will be forever bitter that a Captain America movie felt the need to give him a story arc that took away significant time from the title character and his issues. The movie we could have had if it was Captain America 3: Up All Night to Get Bucky -- glorious!

July 8, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterstarlit

It was fun, but the action scenes were yet again fairly uninteresting and it was too long by a good 20 minutes. It was nice seeing a Spiderman who looked his age. Still, it's nothing on SPIDER-MAN 2 and I'm baffled by people claiming its the best one yet. Maybe just because this blockbuster season has felt so mediocre that anything that feels like it lives up to what it says on the box is being spoken about in grander terms. I dunno.

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Aunt may lost her title why?
M.J Doesn't mean Mary Jane?
Peter's friend is the tech-wiz-genius?
Vulture uses cybernetics? I actually thought it was Beetle the whole time

Toby knew when to be funny, angry, serious, dramatic, so yeah "Leave Spider-Man to Toby Maguire."

The reason i love web-head over all the other costumed guys is because he's usually able to handle multiple villains simultaneously and quite comically at that. Homecoming failed to grab that Spidey essence that Spiderman 2,3 and civil war had and the very same reason why Amazing-Spiderman franchise couldn't hack it

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterXaioque

Loved this. Probably the funniest MCU film to date. Also I was fine with the action not being the highlight of the film, because I honestly could've just lived with all the school/character stuff for longer.

Also I was shocked at how little of both Zendaya AND Robert Downey we actually get at least compared to promotions/commercials. Tom Holland is a star.

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I agree with Starlit

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

I thought it felt like RDJ was ALL OVER the movie -- it was def more than two scenes; he was at the start, he was there after the DC scene, he was in the scene with the Ferry, he was at the end. So at least four and when he wasn't there I was being reminded of him because Jon Favreau was there when he wasn't Ugh enough with him.

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJason

@starlit I'm trying not to be offended at your suggestion that Captain America should go after Bucky. I guess you can be forgiven for not knowing that Bucky is my husband since Bucky doesn't know, either, but still...

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Marx

Who cares about these amped up Saturday morning cartoons? The fact that they remake them twice in a decade and tell the same story over and over again is sad.

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHilary Swank

"Everything is a remix" - Kirby Ferguson

July 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterxaioque

I liked it enough; you could see the seams from act to act but Tom Holland did enough to keep me interested to revisit this slice of the MCU.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSanty C.

I was hoping to avoid this one, since I hate superhero films, but Michael Keaton is in it, so I must submit.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

@starlit, I never thought of this before, but Civil War should probably have just been an Avengers film, and Cap 3 should have solely been about clearing the Winter Soldier's name featuring Black Panther and Helmut Zemo. Civil War did a pretty good job of showcasing the Avengers conflict, but the Zemo subplot got lost in the orgy of superhero fists.

July 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterkris

Spider Man: Home coming is an extraordinary movie... The whole cast and crew have done a very good job in delivering the movie.

July 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShailaja

HD Movies Bluray

HD Movies Bluray

October 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHDMOVIESBLURAY.COM

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