MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “Spider-Man: Homecoming” stars Tom Holland (The Impossible, Locke), Michael Keaton (Birdman: or [The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance], Batman ), Robert Downey Jr. (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man), Jacob Batalon (Watch Room, North Woods), Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler, The Lincoln Lawyer), Jon Favreau (Chef, Identity Thief ), Laura Harrier (The Last Five Years, 4th Man Out), Zendaya (Shake It Up! [TV series], The Greatest Showman), Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Dope), Bokeem Woodbine (Ray, Total Recall ), and Donald Glover (The Martian, Community [TV series]). It was directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car, Clown), who co-wrote the screenplay with Jonathan Goldstein (Horrible Bosses, Vacation ), John Francis Daley (Horrible Bosses 2, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2), Christopher Ford (Robot & Frank, Cop Car), Chris McKenna (The LEGO Batman Movie, Igor), and Erik Sommers (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, American Dad! [TV series]). After the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” Peter Parker (Holland) tries to balance high school and crime fighting as the masked neighborhood hero, Spider-Man. However, this proves to be challenging as Peter wants to prove himself to Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) that he can be an Avenger, but fails at every opportunity to do so. It will take a new, big villain on the street to push Peter to his limits and be the ultimate test.
It took many, many years, but now Spider-Man is back in the hands of Marvel (well…sort of). Is the title an ode to this statement? I would hope so; otherwise, calling it “Homecoming” would be a bit childish and barely tied into the story. My opinion of the titular neighborhood superhero has varied throughout the years. I loved him as a kid growing up in the Tobey Maguire era. After “Spider-Man 3,” however, my fascination with the spider fizzled out. By the time Andrew Garfield stepped into the spandex, I lost interest, and his release of “The Amazing Spider-Man” didn’t pull me back in by a long shot (it’s the worst one I’ve seen, and I didn’t even see it’s sequel). Spider-Man seemed totaled; a distant memory. Then Marvel struck a deal with Sony, and here we are, with a new Spider-Man being manned by the young Tom Holland. I liked his interpretation in “Civil War.” He was enjoyable, likeable, and funny, even though his entry into the fight felt out-of-the-blue and underdeveloped. I knew he would fair well in his first “solo” outing because Holland had the chops to do it. Even though my love for Spider-Man wasn’t fully restored, this release brought the closest comic-book representation of the character to the big screen. Web shooters, the Vulture, and an ever-present high school Peter somewhat attends. On top of that, Peter actually looks like a teenager! Sure, Maguire had one movie where he pulled it off, but the films that subsequently followed pushed high school out of reach and gave Peter a working job (though we wouldn’t have the great J.K. Simmons casting come out of it). High school is in the rear-view mirror for me and I’m sure the older I get the less I’ll feel attached to Peter Parker as a character; at least for now I can relate to and remember all the awkwardness that took place on screen. Seriously guys, this movie capitalized on the cringe associated with high school, right down to the school news broadcasted on monitors. I may have had only one year of school with this “luxury,” but it still brought memories nonetheless. This, along with a few other grounded factors, is what made this Spider-Man outing so believable and relatable. I actually laughed at many parts; it was a relatively good time, and I knew that Sony was gracious to have Marvel come in to help them out. How the company pulls it off, we’ll never know, though I did recognize a formulaic pattern. While this flick is fun and cool to look at, it boasts the same themes and motivations the other “Spider-Man,” let alone superhero, movies held. The main hero is naive, eventually using what he has for personal use or thrills which lead to severe consequences. There’s a beginning, middle, and end with this as most films do, and it’s easy to figure out what will come of Peter’s actions. We know he’ll succeed with struggle, balancing teenage and superhero life at the same time. All that’s different this time is the villain and mentor. The Vulture, while cool, proved to be a disappointment to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I was entertained by him. Michael Keaton is a fan favorite and I enjoyed him, however he was basically playing Michael Keaton the whole time. With such a stellar outing as “Birdman,” you’d expect him to bring more to the table as another comic bird. His motives were generic and unoriginal, though his costume was awesome. At least I can say that he actually went for what he wanted instead of throwing henchmen until the last scene he’s in. He was also the only villain to face, thankfully. Throughout this feature, I was hardly on the edge of my seat, but rather laid back witnessing beautiful effects and cinematography. I gotta hand it to the director and director of photography; they crafted a nice film to look at. The colors and atmosphere this tale presented was great, and the performances that inhibited it were solid as well. There were a few characters I cared little for (primarily both the female roles aside from Aunt May), but overall I liked most of them. Holland did what I thought he would, and I await for his next outing in “Infinity War.” He’s a good fit for Peter, even though my heart still chooses Maguire on nostalgia grounds. There’s excitement to be found in this flick as there is entertainment. I enjoyed what I saw, and I believe that’s what Marvel set out to do. I only wish that they decided to mix up the plot structure and through in some unpredictable devices. There was only one part that caught me off guard in this. Admittedly, it was a good twist, and provided a tense scene to follow. I just wish that there were more moments like that instead of the same-old-same-old. Besides story structure, there were a few other flaws to be found in this, particularly in some characters. I won’t go into spoilers, but true comic book readers will understand come time of the ending. I was furious at the decision, and it proved the case in point how Hollywood will change characters taken from other works solely on grounds of diversity. I’m not racist, but come on. I wouldn’t request Black Panther to be played by a white guy, nor should I expect someone else to ask for a black Peter Parker. Most new attempts at diversity in film, especially in this one, feel forced. Having read up on Hollywood backlash and protests, I figure it’s to cater to those demanding it. It’s not wrong to do (it resembles the world today), but it can feel fake, served by means of the company and not the story. With that out-of-the-way, let’s round out this review. Overall, “Spider-Man Homecoming” is what it promotes: a return to form for Spidey in a colorful world of fun. The themes and messages are familiar and the story structure is generic, but it kept me engaged and at times laughing. I’d say that’s the best I can get out of a Spider-Man flick. FINAL SCORE: 82%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: