SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING ˝
2017, PG-13, 113 mins.
Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man / Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes / Vulture / Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man / Marisa Tomei as May Parker / Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan / Zendaya as Michelle / Donald Glover as Aaron Davis / Jacob Batalon as Ned / Laura Harrier as Liz / Tony Revolori as Flash
Directed by Jon Watts / Written by Watts, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers
marks the second time in 15 years that Marvel Comics' most iconic property
has been cinematically rebooted.
Let that settle
in for a bit.
After the Sam
Raimi quarterbacked and Tobey Maguire Spidey trilogy of the early to late
2000's (two of which were great, with the last film being overstuffed and
undisciplined) came the Mark Webb helmed grittier and darker reboot that
began rather well with the 2012
film and then all but collapsed with its wrongheaded 2014
sequel. Now comes
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING to potentially confuse lay moviegoers, which is a
whole new silver screen solo adventure featuring the world's most famous
super hero wall crawler that's not tied to either Raimi's or Webb's films,
but rather is now officially a part of the larger Marvel Cinematic
Universe (via some convoluted dealings, Marvel and Sony Studios reached a
deal that would allow Marvel to use the character for their own branded
films). So, this newest
SPIDER-MAN film is not just another retrofitted take on Stan Lee's and
Steve Ditko's classic creation, but it's also the 16th official film in
Of course, MCU
diehards will know already that this latest incarnation of Spider-Man is
not the character's first appearance in the MCU, seeing as he made a late
cameo (and a rather awkwardly shoehorned in one at that, in my
estimation), during the climax of CAPTAIN
AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, during which time he was assisting Tony
Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) with stopping Captain Steve Rogers and
his own team of heroes that decided to defy governmental protocols that he
thought were counterproductive to the whole Avengers initiative.
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING essentially takes place after the events of
that battle, but it opens during the aftermath of 2012's THE
AVENGERS as we meet Adrian Tooms (Michael Keaton) as he and
his salvage team try to clean up after all of the city wide devastation
that the Avengers left after defeating Loki and his alien army.
According to the film's title cards, this scene is set eight years
in the past, which would be 2011...but THE AVENGERS was released and
assumingly took place in 2012...so...well...never mind.
Tooms and his crew are sent unceremoniously packing when some government reps from Stark's Department of Damage Control swoops in to inform them that their services are no longer needed. The very distraught Tooms pleads with the agents, seeing as he has put his life savings and livelihood on the line for purchasing equipment for the costly clean up, but his concerns are quickly dismissed, leaving him with a serious hate on for Tony. Flashforward eight years and we meet up with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) shooting vlog footage of his being drafted into Team Stark for their aforementioned battle against Captain America. These opening introductory scenes - captured with a freewheeling and spontaneously loose aesthetic of a found footage film - are SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING's best when it comes to embodying its titular character's youthful spunk and energy.
Peter's efforts were noteworthy enough to impress Tony, they nevertheless
were not enough to convince him that he should become an official worthy
member of the Avengers. Somewhat dejected, Peter returns back to New York and a life
of relative normalcy with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei, officially the
youngest and hottest Aunt May to grace these movies) and returns back to
high school to reacquaint himself with his BFF Ned (Jacob Batalon).
The 15-year-old Peter tries as he can to lead a dual life of a
costumed vigilante and student, but thwarting ultra low rent crimes begins to both
bore and frustrate him. To make matters worse, he feels stymied in
his multiple attempts to win over the affections of his crush, Liz (Laura Harrier).
Fate, predictably, steps in with the re-emergence of Tooms, who has
morphed from being a disgruntled blue-collar construction worker to a full on black market
alien weapons dealing criminal (he uses some stolen alien tech from the
Battle of New York to create a massive set of mechanical wings that allows
him to fly and partake in his crimes with effortless ease).
The always eager Peter decides to take it upon himself to stop this
"Vulture" before his crimes get out of hand, even though his
mentor in Tony has explicitly told him to let the Avengers handle it.
One thing that
works greatly in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING's favor is that this is arguably
the first SPIDER-MAN film that really hones in on the microcosm of Peter's
high school existence. That, and
the film is refreshingly cast with age appropriate actors that really
helps to sell the veracity of Peter's daily academic and social life.
Holland is the youngest actor to play Spider-Man, which is a huge
plus because he looks, sounds, and acts like a plausibly hormonal
adolescent (for as much as I admired, for example, Andrew Garfield in the previous
SPIDER-MAN films, the approaching 30-year-old actor was somewhat laughably
implausible as a teenager). As
was the case with his brief turn in the last CAPTAIN AMERICA film, Holland
captures all of Peter's youthful naiveté, impatience, and goofball wit
that has made Spider-Man so eminently lovable on the comic book pages for
fifty-plus years. Every time
Holland occupies the frame he utterly channels and commands
the his character's multiple identities and all of the aggravating dilemmas that
this fractured life rears up; he's simply note perfect here.
aspect of SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is that - thank the comic book movie
gods! - it's not yet another obligatory and redundant origin film.
Everyone by now knows of how Peter becomes Spider-Man, so revisiting
such established territory would have been a creative mistake.
Instead, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is given more room to breath as a
standalone adventure with the hero (well, mostly standalone) without the
restraints of utilizing wasteful origin exposition. This also allows director Jon Watts (COP
CAR) and his writers to hone in on the character's growing pains
at school. There's a commendable amount of care taking in the story to
infuse it with a John Hughes-ian focus on the young lives of its
characters. Peter may indeed
be a super hero with remarkable powers, but underneath all of that lurks a
painfully ordinary young man with crushing self doubt and insecurities.
At its best, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING works better as a fairly razor
sharp observation high school comedy than it does as a super hero action
And maybe that's
part of the big problem with this film: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING - as far as
super hero solo films go - registers pretty flatly overall, not to mention
that it spends a bit too much time trying to deal with the narrative
particulars of tying the character into the larger MCU instead of just
focusing solely on the character itself.
The overall scripting trajectory here doesn't break much new ground
for the character, nor does it take any calculated chances with him either
(which is something that I admired about Webb's THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: a
willingness to change up both the tone and the core mythology a bit).
Of course, since Spidey is now a part of the MCU that means that
this already crowded on screen mythos leads to SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
feeling a bit overcrowded at times (for as much as I enjoyed seeing Downey
Jr.'s Stark, his few brief scenes in the film cast a mighty big shadow
over his younger co-star to sometimes distracting effect).
More often than not, I rarely felt that this was Spider-Man's very
Another area of
concern with SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is with its main villain.
Michael Keaton's casting is noteworthy, mostly because (a) he most
famously played Batman and helped launched super hero films into a viable
genre nearly thirty years ago and (b) he starred in BIRDMAN
and played another comic book inspired character that also had the ability
to fly. I think the case with
the Vulture here is that he's portrayed by a deeply committed actor that
brings more to the table that the screenplay does.
Tooms, if anything, is arguably as ordinary as Peter, seeing as he
was an average Joe that got screwed over by the government and turned to
high stakes crime to make ends meet.
Without question, he's arguably the most relatable and sympathetic
of all the MCU villains to date, and Keaton plays him with a soft spoken
sinister edge that hints at deeply rooted emotional and economic wounds.
Unfortunately, the Oscar nominated actor simply doesn't occupy
enough fully fleshed out scenes in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING to become a
thoroughly complex antagonist (sans one brilliant scene involving a very
matter-of-fact conversation he has with Peter during one extremely tense car
ride). Tooms also makes the
journey from middle class family man to murderous sociopath a bit too
casually in the film, mostly because the script never affords him enough
moments that embellish a potential psychological depth. All in all and despite Keaton's mesmerizing presence here,
his villain is disappointingly undercooked.
Lastly, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is replete with wall-to-wall special effects - some exemplary handled, whereas some show their phoniness a bit too readily. Jon Watts certainly understands the mindsets of his youthful characters rather well, but as an attuned and capable filmmaker that's capable of confidently handling eye popping action and spectacle he leaves a lot to be desired. He doesn't have a particularly inspired feel for constructing moments of super hero mayhem; some sequences that should inspire awe and wonder in viewers (like a massive one involving a Staten Island ferry being literally ripped in half by Tooms and his thugs, leaving Spider-Man to figure out a way to save the vessel), but instead they lack a palpable sense of nail biting tension and danger. Moments like this feel like polished video game cut scenes without much emotional resonance.
per cent of SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is a winning and audience placating
That half involves the more insular and compellingly rendered
character beats that show Peter dealing with the social horrors of growing
The other half of the film that's trying to be an empowered and
triumphant super hero extravaganza never quite cuts it, nor hits intended
Overall, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is a sometimes thrilling, but
lamentably uneven MCU effort that rarely seems to settle on a consistent
groove or plan of attack (I counted six screenwriters here, and oftentimes
it shows in the final product).
Spider-Man is and always will be one of the most endearing
characters in comic book fiction, but the generic and pedestrian vibe of
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING doesn't do this legendary character full justice.
The film isn't quite amazing and not especially spectacular,
and considering recent genre busting comic book originals like LOGAN
and WONDER WOMAN from this year,
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING just seems to be monotonously going through the motions
and playing safe with MCU troupes.
Fifty per cent of SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is a winning and audience placating success. That half involves the more insular and compellingly rendered character beats that show Peter dealing with the social horrors of growing up. The other half of the film that's trying to be an empowered and triumphant super hero extravaganza never quite cuts it, nor hits intended crescendos. Overall, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is a sometimes thrilling, but lamentably uneven MCU effort that rarely seems to settle on a consistent groove or plan of attack (I counted six screenwriters here, and oftentimes it shows in the final product). Spider-Man is and always will be one of the most endearing characters in comic book fiction, but the generic and pedestrian vibe of SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING doesn't do this legendary character full justice. The film isn't quite amazing and not especially spectacular, and considering recent genre busting comic book originals like LOGAN and WONDER WOMAN from this year, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING just seems to be monotonously going through the motions and playing safe with MCU troupes.