Review of 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'

spider-man_homecoming.jpg Yet another take on the Spider-Man story this time sees a more accurate to the comics version with a young, socially awkward and geek Peter Parker (Tom Holland) receiving mentoring from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) as he struggles to find his way in the world.

Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is head of a team salvaging the alien artefacts left in New York City from the battle in Avengers: Age of Ultron when the U.S. Department of Damage Control steps in and shuts down his rather lucrative operation. Toomes decides to go underground and gathers the devices however he can, making them into weapons and selling them on to the top bidder. Peter helps the Avengers in Berlin during the events of “Captain America: Civil War” so is given a high tech suit by Stark to replace his home-made one, joining an “apprenticeship” with Stark Industries which is really just an excuse for training to become an Avenger. When Spider-Man comes across a high tech weapon used to rob a bank machine he takes it on himself to track down the culprits. He discovers they are led by Toomes aka “The Vulture” with his flying suit, now truly a villain. Meanwhile at school Peter's alter ego has been discovered by friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) who is having problems keeping the secret as he encourages Peter to use his fame to become popular particularly with the senior Liz (Laura Harrier). When a tracker is discovered in the Spider-Man suit Ned and Peter remove it but also discover an enhanced mode that, despite Ned's warnings, they enable. Now feeling invincible Spider-Man's attempt to capture Vulture's gang on a Staten Island Ferry goes very badly with Iron Man forced to step in and save the day. A very cross Stark chastises Peter for his folly at taking on such a powerful opponent by himself. Now disappointing not only his heroes but also his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), Ned, Liz and others at school, will Peter find the right path to follow…?

Quite a departure from previous outings, this is a lot more of a fun movie going back to the roots of the “friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man” (for those geeks in the crowd the theme from the original animated television series begins the movie) which, indeed is very much a theme here (local rather than global). Here Tom Holland is much (a) younger and (b) puts on a muchmore insecure performance when contrasted with the more confident and mature Toby MacQuire and Andrew Garfield from previous movies. Watching the film it is easy to laugh at Parker's clumsiness and youthful exuberance which helps bring more life to what has become quite a heavy and serious movie franchise. Of course this is a coming of age story, always popular in modern American cinema, but it is well done and feels quite honest - What it really might be like to be young with such powers.

It should be noted that Downey could easily dominate the film with his strong presence as Stark but thankfully he is only present as a mentor with centre stage always returning to Parker and the difficult choices he is forced to address.

As you might expect the action is quite amazing with the web-slinging truly incredible yet the fun that exudes from the character is much more present here. A particular scene that amuses is when Spider-Man is trapped in an underground bunker and attempts to find something to amuse himself until the timed doors reopen - Cut to various scenes of him playing with his powers (and new suit) then laying down to only find he has been trapped for 20 minutes. His ironic quips as he goes about his daily life as Spider-Man also are also a source of great amusement when his attempts to help are misplaced and he suffers the wrath of those he has upset.

The choreography and scale of the picture, though largely limited to New York, is quite breathtaking with the effects first notch all the way, again, as you would expect - The vast amounts of money spent in making it are clear to see on the screen. This combined with a new found heart in a young Tom Holland has breathed life, fun and humour in a now familiar franchise. I was quite prepared not to really like this film but was pleasantly surprised and grateful a friend recently suggested it was worth seeing. A lot of fun and tremendously entertaining.

P.S. Be sure to keep a watch out for the amusing dry-as-a-desert Captain America (Chris Evans) PSAs throughout including one at the very end of the credits…

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2017-08-05

Directed by: Jon Watts

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Year: 2017

Length: 133 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Jon Watts: