Release Date: July 7, 2017
Running Time: 133 minutes
Welcome to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man. Your absence was sorely missed. Yes, the teenage Web Slinger showed us what he is made of in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, but Spider-Man: Homecoming represents the first film to be made in conjunction with Marvel Studios. Remember, Sony so royally screwed-up its short-lived Amazing Spider-Man reboot franchise that it scrapped two planned sequels and a Sinister Six spinoff. This led to the wise decision by Sony and Marvel to collaborate on this second reboot. The result is a worthy MCU entry that is vastly superior to the Amazing Spider-Man franchise but won’t make you forget about Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, the latter of which remains one of the best comic-book movies ever made. Tom Holland, who made a memorable debut as Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War, returns for Spider-Man: Homecoming. He makes for an energetic, jokey but occasionally emotional and naïve Peter, one who is closer to the comic-book version of Peter than we have seen on screen. And Holland’s perfectly at home swinging through the streets of Queens, New York in Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is an origin tale that isn’t an origin tale. Peter’s transformation from puny high school student to superhero is only mentioned in passing. Uncle Ben’s name doesn’t pass Peter or Aunt May’s lips. However, Homecoming spends much of its time establishing Peter’s school life, especially in regards to his friendship with the equally nerdy Ned, who is played by excitable Jacob Batalon, and his secret love for the equally brainy Liz, who is played with warmth by Laura Harrier. Peter’s social circle is appreciably diverse, and it appears clear that the deliciously sardonic Zendaya’s “Michelle”—who hides her obvious affections for Peter behind an air of indifference—will assume a greater role in Peter’s life in future sequels. There is much attention given to Peter inability to manage his studies while moonlighting as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, which handled with the appropriate amount of angst by director Jon Watts. He also offers a fresh take on Peter’s problems so as to differentiate Homecoming from other Spider-Man films. Peter desperately wants to join the Avengers, but his mentor, Tony Stark, doesn’t want to out a 15-year-old boy in harm’s way. This, of course, contradicts Stark’s decision to involve Peter in the fight between superheroes in Civil War, but Stark does what Stark thinks is for the best at that particular time. This frustrates Peter, who, as Spider-Man, is reduced to giving old ladies directions or stopping bike thieves. This all changes when Peter discovers alien technology is being weaponized and sold to street criminals by Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture. Toomes isn’t evil. He turns to crime when his salvaging company goes belly up. Keaton portrays Toomes as a devoted family man with a job to do, even if that job means putting dangerous weapons in the hands of criminals who do not understand their power. Getting rid of Spider-Man is all business to Toomes, although when it becomes personal, Keaton turns appropriately sinister. The two major fights between Spider-Man and the Vulture vary in their level of suspense. The first, involving the Staten Island Ferry, is spectacular in nature and ends in Spider-Man learning a valuable life lesson. The second and final confrontation between Spider-Man and the Vulture is poorly staged and ends in anticlimactic fashion, although it reveals that Peter has learned what he responsibilities that come with his great powers. With the exception of Spider-Man’s encounters with the Vulture, Homecoming takes a comic approach to the action in the same way as Ant-Man. It works because Peter is an awkward teenager who is learning not just how to use his powers but also to employ his super suit that was made by Stark. This leads to many amusing accidents and impromptu session. However, Watts gives Homecoming a flat look that doesn’t reflect the fun and danger of Peter’s double life. Action is not Watts’ forte. He’s at his most comfort working with his young cast in much the same way that The Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb was with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. While Spider-Man: Homecoming maintains a fine balance between Peter’s school commitments and superheroic endeavors, it fails to satisfactorily bring Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May into the proceedings. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan, who serves as Peter’s handler, are more of a presence in Peter’s life than Aunt May despite the running joke that Stark and Hogan don’t return Peter’s calls or texts. The only reason Homecoming offers a younger Aunt May is to make her an object of desire. So Tomei is given very little to do than to take Peter out to eat, drive him around, and offer the occasional words of wisdoms. Hopefully the sequel, which is due in the summer of 2019, will realize how vital Aunt May is to Peter’s growth and maturation. Otherwise, Homecoming is a fine street-level superhero adventure that seamlessly integrates Spider-Man into the cinematic universe created by his mentor, Iron Man. That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement in future sequels, but unlike The Amazing Spider-Man, Homecoming gives us the Peter Parker—in and out of his costume—we know, love and have missed dearly.
Aired: July 6, 2017
Web site: http://www.spidermanhomecoming.com