Synopsis – Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.
My Take – Coming Fresh from the advanced screening of this film last night, I can’t believe I am still pretty hyped over how awesome it was! Personally, I really didn’t want yet another solo film revolving around the web crawling superhero, after all, it’s only been a decade since director Sam Raimi last touched the franchise, five years since Sony rebooted the whole thing with director Marc Webb, and three years since its critical flop of a sequel (I really don’t think it was that bad). Even though I have enjoyed almost all the other Spider-Man films (excluding Spider-man 3, I loathe emo Peter Parker), I was pretty psyched as a fan boy when Sony, the studio that owns the rights to the Marvel character, wisely decided to let Marvel Studios take creative control of the character & introduce him as a supporting player in Captain America: Civil War while providing him a chance to interact with staple characters of the existing universe like Iron Man, Captain America and the rest of the Avengers. I guess we all can agree that Disney has finally done some justice to one of the most popular superheroes out there. The film’s biggest achievement is that it makes you forget it’s the third different take in less than 20 years, even though, personally I loved actor Andrew Garfield‘s take on the web slinger, I must say Tom Holland‘s portrayal is a surprisingly perfect ode to the character’s tone in the original comics. Clever, funny, and true to the Spider-Man spirit, this take on everyone’s favorite web-slinger is thoroughly entertaining, and seems like a film made by Marvel to pay homage to director John Hughes, albeit complete with a Ferris Bueller reference, and by taking it back to the school setting and ageing Spidey down to 15 years old, director Jon Watts recaptures some of the innocent magic gleaned in the comic pages. If I were to compare this movie with any other Spider-Man film, I would say it’s up there with Spider-Man 2 for sure. Taking place a few months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, the story follows a teenage Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is back at his home in Queens, N.Y., living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) & left to fight street-level crime as Spider-Man with a cool new suit, courtesy of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Stoked about helping Iron Man the first time and looking forward to the next mission, Peter’s is quite disappointed when he is left under the guidance of Tony’s security head & trusted friend Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), who doesn’t do much but ignore him.
Eager to prove his mettle as a full-time member of the Avengers, Peter thirsts for action, taking down bike thieves, helping the elderly with directions and tackling hoodlums like Aaron Davis (Donald Glover), let alone he continues to battle with the usual high school issues, like Spanish quizzes, winning the academic decathlon and keeping his secret identity under wraps from the classmates he saves and of course his unrequited love for senior Liz (Laura Harrier) and continuing popularity woes with his Star Wars-loving best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon). Just when it feels like that call might never come, Pete crosses paths with arms dealer Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) aka the Vulture, who along with his crew has been selling modified alien technology left over from Avengers’ battle in New York (from the 2012 film) upon the black market. Seizing as an opportunity to gain Tony’s attention, Peter uses Ned’s help & defies Tony’s orders to stay in school and sets out to become more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, even if it means risking the lives of everyone he cares about. Let’s get one of the main concerns out of the way first: this is very much a Spider-Man movie and not Iron Man 3.5 (seriously, thank god). In fact, Tony Stark is barely in it, popping by every now and then to play reluctant mentor, but often leaving it to Jon Favreau’s Happy to keep an eye on Peter. It means that Peter Parker is center stage and it’s suited to him. With pitch-perfect comic timing, his Peter is an endearing, believable teenager whose enthusiasm is impossible to resist. Suprisingly, the film is a very easy and definitely the most accessible Spider-Man film. There really isn’t anything new to see here regarding story, like DC‘s Batman, Spider-Man’s backstory is common knowledge at this point and the film doesn’t waste any time on telling it. Directed by relative newcomer Jon Watts (Cop Car), the film is almost goofy, weird, wholesome, and there’s an almost unpolished feel to it, especially in the film’s early scenes, mainly as a lot of the movie is about kids who do a lot of dumb stuff, all of which establishes a tone that instantly distinguishes this film from almost all modern superhero movies. Here, director Watts and the other five writers credited on the film build up Peter Parker in a fresh way — by making him a webslinger right from the first scene, so it’s more about Peter Parker/Spider-Man growing into the hero we know and love. He makes mistakes, takes risks, gets bumps and bruises, and more. For part of the film, he’s actually a pretty bad Spider-Man. And that’s not something you see a lot of in superhero movies these days, either — a hero struggling to be heroic — which makes this film even more unique. The film gets a lot of comedic mileage out of Parker’s screw-ups, especially once he unlocks some of the advanced, Starkian features of his super suit, including the AI tech support with whom he develops a screwball rapport. But there’s also something poignant about the way the movie acknowledges and embraces the character’s teenage fallibility, his human error. This is a Spider-Man who can’t drive yet, who hasn’t entirely conquered his fear of heights, who cries when in pain. For a film with six screenwriters, the film creates a remarkably coherent vision of a smart kid still dumb about the world, battling the learning curves of his double lives. However, what really makes this film special is all of its non-superhero related content. What’s always made Spider-Man a captivating character is how the writers focused on his personal life, and that’s finally translated to film here. Watching Peter in his everyday life – going to school, dealing with girls – is what’s going to keep your interest when the Vulture stuff wanes. It’s character development at its best, and it’s relatable. I enjoy the vibrancy of the chases because the movie keeps reminding us that Spider-Man can’t go immediately from one location to another so Spider-Man has to hitch a ride or trespass a backyard or crashes a sleepover tent. But because the humor really works, the drama has to come from somewhere else.
They remove the origin story involving Uncle Ben and they also remove the “With great power comes great responsibility” essence, and they replace those with the dilemmas that Tony Stark had to experience in his previous film which asked the question of can a superhero be a superhero without his suit. To some, this might make sense so as to give us Spidey stripped down to his element. While others might see it as an effort to include Spidey in the MCU that comes with the risk of turning our friendly neighborhood hero into something else. The tech-based suit does provide some of the film’s hilarious moments. As mentioned above, there’s a bit of director John Hughes influence in this film and that’s a good thing considering Hughes was a legend when it comes to chronicling high school dramas, so it’s natural for any filmmaker that’s handling the same subject to be taking inspiration from his movies. For a movie with a flying villain and an altitude-defying superhero, the film has quiet a grounded story. One of the main criticisms of superhero blockbusters is that they’re overblown with ever-increasing, imminent apocalypses and cities toppling over, usually in a stupidly bombastic third act. Here, the stakes are much smaller, as is the body count with Peter turning off his suit’s “kill mode” as quickly as he realized it existed. For this Spider-Man, asking a girl to the homecoming dance is as fraught as stopping the bad guy. If that weren’t enough, they’ve also tossed in a relatable villain. Lately, there’s been plenty of debate about the lack of memorable villains in a Marvel film, and for good reason, they’re all bland, With the exception of Tom Hiddleston’s charming Loki, who’s more of an anti-hero than a proper villain anyhow, everyone has been mildly vanilla — and it’s not like they didn’t have the talent. But here he is not some unstoppable super-villain with unspeakable powers; he’s your average next-door neighbor with exceptional gadgets, and this is not only refreshing but appropriate. Well of course, the film is not perfect; the plot doesn’t always have a totally clear trajectory, and there’s no real fall-out (other than Tony Stark’s punishment) for the fact that half of the scrapes Peter/Spidey gets into are, frankly, his own fault. But it’s so fresh and relatable that it doesn’t matter. Coming to the performances, Tom Holland is superb as Peter Parker & brings a light to the character that has been missing from all the previous cinematic renditions. Holland plays Parker as he is written in the comics: a teenage kid. He really does embody what it means to be Peter Parker and relishes in the performance. Tom Holland is not only the youngest, but also the most charismatic, and comedic character or actor from the three Spiderman we have seen on-screen. He plays a believable high school student who is struggling to find his identity. It’s not over the top, it’s played just right. And with a great hero, there’s a great villain. Michael Keaton kills it as Adrian Toomes/Vulture. Here, Keaton is tremendously menacing and really lays on the sinister nature of the character and the scenes that he shares with Holland are very good. Robert Downey Jr is his awesome self here, so is Jon Favreau. Marisa Tomei keeps adding a maternal instinct to the mix as the youngest May Parker of any Spidey adaptation. Laura Harrier looks gorgeous & plays her part well. Jacob Batalon often steals the show with his excellent comic timing. In supporting roles, Donald Glover, Hannibal Buress, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael Chernus, Logan Marshall-Green, Tony Revolori & Zendaya play their parts well. Chris Evans, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Connelly as Karen, the voice in Spidey’s suit are delightful in cameos. ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is a simple, enjoyable and a tremendous take on the popular super-hero, marking it as one of the best entries into the ever growing MCU.
Directed – Jon Watts
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 133 minutes