Synopsis: Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man.
Stars: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya Coleman, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly
Director: Jon Watts
Running Length: 133 minutes
TMMM Score: (8.5/10)
Review: Another Spider-Man restage? Really? A big collective groan was heard from fanboys and girls around the world when Sony decided to reboot their prized web-slinger back in 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man. That film and its 2014 sequel (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), while solidifying the rising popularity of stars Andrew Garfield and Emma stone, never fully justified its back to the drawing board feel. So when Marvel Studios came to Sony with an offer to join creative forces and bring Spidey into the Marvel universe where he belonged, it was an offer they really had no right to refuse. Still, with a new superhero movie seemingly released every other week, did the world need to get to know Spider-Man all over again?
The answer, dear friendly neighborhood readers, was a resounding yes. Spider-Man: Homecoming is just the reenergizing kick in the pants Marvel was needing after a string of well received but oddly bland sequels (Avengers: Age of Ultron) and iffy first outings (Doctor Strange, Ant-Man). Best of all, it’s so tonally different than the original trilogy and recent two entries that it should keep fans of that canon at bay. Even better news, it’s not an origin story!
If you missed either The Avengers, its sequel, or Captain America: Civil War like my movie mate did, you may be a little lost in the first moments of this new Spidey adventure. The brief prologue recaps Spider-Man’s introduction to The Avengers in Civil War from his wide-eyed teenage perspective and quickly brings you up to speed while setting the whiz-bang pace at the same time. It also lays the groundwork for why it’s main bad guy went so rogue.
After his brief foray into the superhero big leagues, Peter Parker (Tom Holland, The Impossible) gets grounded by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., The Judge, looking guiltier than ever at continuing to collect a paycheck) and put under the watchful eye of Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau, Entourage) who quickly loses interest in the teen. Not one to let his new heroic muscles go unstretched, Peter sets about “saving” residents of his Queens borough neighborhood, whether they like it or not. Often causing more trouble than preventing it, Peter stumbles upon a group of thugs led by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton, Need for Speed), all of whom are clearly up to no good.
A disgruntled former blue-collar union man, Toomes has used his skills and a few alien power sources he’s scrounged together to fashion a set of wings (complimented by a bad ass bomber jacket) that take him sky high. As Peter gets closer to finding out the truth behind Toomes/The Vulture, he comes up against not only his most powerful villain yet but runs afoul of his ally Stark in the process.
At 133 minutes, there’s a lot to cram in and thankfully the large handful of credited screenwriters have decided to forgo retelling how Peter got his powers and waste little time with introductions. This being a summer tentpole film for Sony and Marvel and in the wake of the critical and financial success of DC Comics stellar Wonder Woman, a lot was riding on this entry. Those studio exces can breathe a sigh of relief because from the nicely drawn characters to several impressive action sequences, this is a film that constantly and consistently delivers the goods.
Director Jon Watts (Clown) joins a curious list of “out of the box” choices to direct a movie of this size. Known for his work in independent films, it’s obvious from the small details Watts adds into the film (like including a bit of Japanese war history on the wall of an otherwise innocuous school official, giving even a minor character a backstory) that he was the right choice for the job. It’s a fast, funny film that felt unpredictable even though it’s part of the most predictable genre being produced today.
Nailing down the perfect star to play Peter Parker was no small task but Sony struck gold with Holland who, though 21, feels like the first actor to successfully play a believable 15-year-old. With Holland’s dance training (he was Billy Elliot in the London stage show) and his well-documented tremendous athleticism, he’s able to bring the character forward rather than get lost within the costume and pristine visual effects. Sharing the screen with scenery chewers like Downey Jr. and Keaton isn’t for the faint of heart but Holland more than holds his own.
Speaking of Keaton, it’s such fun to see him play a bad guy. With his devilish grin and arched eyebrows, he gives Toomes a pulse along with ample brainwaves. I always respond to villains that aren’t out to take over the world but to reclaim what they think was taken from them and Toomes joins a long list of Spider-Man foes that have personal reasons for going bad. Zendaya Coleman, Marisa Tomei (Love the Coopers), Jacob Batalon, and Laura Harrier round out the cast and all (but especially Batalon) make for a strong support system for Peter and the film.
With a few unexpected twists (there’s at least two reveals I didn’t see coming) and edge of your seat thrills that are sure to inspire furious popcorn munching, Spider-Man: Homecoming is worth your time and your attention. If your Spidey senses aren’t tingling from the opening logos played over the old-school title tune, they will be once Holland and company get down to business. This being a Marvel movie, you gotta stay until the very end for one of the more meta post credit sequences to date.