Spider-Man’s forays into cinema have had mixed results as of late. The massively underwhelming performance (and reception…) of the Amazing Spider-Man reboots caused quite the stir at Sony Pictures.
And if any of those leaked emails can attest, the boys and girls over at the big “S” were quickly running out of ideas as to how to keep their IP relevant (Aunt May spin-off, anyone?). Hark! As Marvel Studios comes swinging in with another smashing success in the form of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Jon Watts (Cop Car) helms director’s chair for this high-tech/high-school romp, as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) tries to circumnavigate the turmoils of being a nerdy teenager and the youngest Avenger (albeit, reserve status). Along for the ride are returning actors Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, as well as newcomers Jacob Batalon as Ned and Laura Harrier as Liz, two of Pete’s high school pals. This film also has Spidey face down the cinematic debut of the sinister Vulture (Michael Keaton). Special mention should go to Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson. While not the most physically imposing portrayal, he totally nails the 80’s movie-bully archetype of the character.
The film does a great job of not only handling, but also melding this grab bag cast of veteran and newbie actors. Every performance is on point and you can really get a feel for who these people are just by how they interact with one another. Not only do these characters feel authentic, but they also remain consistent with the source material. The film feels like a feature-length, live-action episode of the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon, or an adaption of an early 2000s era Brian Micheal Bendis/ J Michael Straczynski Spider-Man arc. Hell, we even get a fantastic homage to “the Final Chapter” in the film’s climax!
For those worried that Homecoming‘s best moments were spoiled in the trailers, or that there would be an over-saturation of Iron Man, fear not! While the marketing campaign for this movie has been…less than stellar, the focus remains mostly where it should be: on Peter Parker, a couple of months into his career. Everything from the suit to the use of colour to the opening homage to the ’60s Spider-Man theme screams the character. Holland is still the best cinematic portrayal of the wall-crawler, finally a Peter Parker who isn’t always moping or acting aloof, but rather a nerdy teen who is compelled to be heroic. The movie doesn’t quite escape every “Spider-Man movie trope” – can we not have a single finale where Spidey keeps his mask on? That being said, the film more than exceeds audience expectations and fun surprises, including the true identities of the very great Adrian Toomes and “Michelle,” as well as a couple of very fun cameos from character actors like Donald Glover and Hannibal Buress. Speaking of Shell-head, if you thought Iron Man’s gear was cool, wait until you get a load of every piece of tech in this film.
If Spider-man: Homecoming could be described in a word, it could only be “fun.” Almost every minute is soaked with visceral action, rollicking laughs and genuine heart. Admittedly, the film may have one too many chase scenes, and your mileage may vary on the very expository prologue, but ultimately, it’s a very well structured, plotted, acted and shot flick.
Face front true believers: Marvel’s best boy is back home, and better than ever!
Grade: Action is His Reward A-
(Images courtesy of IMDb and Sony Pictures)