It’s been awhile since I reviewed anything beyond trailers, but that’s what happens when you work full time. The first review of the summer for me will be the much anticipated reboot of Spider-Man which is now the third feature length installment of the character since Sam Raimi directed Tobey Maguire to stardom back in the early 2000’s. This Spider-Man is now in the capable hands of future star Tom Holland whose teenage version of Peter Parker actually feels like you’re watching teenagers. Director Jon Watts helms this film for Marvel/Sony with a respectable showing, but while the action fell short for me a few times, Watts directed some terrific character moments for everyone.
I won’t spoil any details of the film, but I will be treading softly just in case I do because there is a lot to take in if you’re a fan of the character via comics and film iterations. From the jump, we get to see the whimsical super-teen act just as we’d expect him too. Holland delivers a believable and charming Peter Parker as well as Spider-Man through a modern eye that doesn’t make him this feeble nerd with a bully, but rather a capable, always distracted, genius who manages to juggle the important parts of his life the best he can while still hoping to win Tony Stark’s approval. Thankfully, this is not Iron Man 4. In fact, the way RDJ’s Tony Stark and Iron Man are used couldn’t have been better. Oddly enough, I was kind of wishing there was more for Holland’s Parker to do with Tony Stark – not Iron Man – just because they worked so well off of each other.
Like most great character stories, it’s all about who’s around the character and how they make them better or worse. Homecoming manages to present to us plenty of characters new and old that we love from Spider-Man canon with cool and refreshing twists that manage to keep you locked in when there aren’t Spidey-centric scenes to be had. The problem, ironically, is that I thought Spider-Man’s action sequences were pretty lackluster overall and the Peter Parker scenes were far superior. That’s not a bad thing whatsoever, but if Watts comes back to direct the sequel I hope he’s able to do give us action sequences that visually fill us like the human drama does. One of the reasons this film’s core worked so well was because of it’s hero and layered villain, a first since the dawn of Loki and I’d argue Ultron, and that’s all thanks to Michael Keaton as Vulture.
Not only was the Vulture a way cooler villain than I remember him being. It was only appropriate that Michael Keaton played Batman then Birdman to be the empathetic Vulture. I guess it’s true, “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. The best villains are the ones who make you believe what and why they’re doing something and it’s because of Keaton and his story arc that makes this film work. His relationship with Spider-Man is exactly how a hero to villain relationship should work and look like. One thing that sometimes detracted from their storyline were the constant Easter eggs, which I noticed every time they’d show up, along with the obvious hints to the future films. Instead of just letting this film be a Spider-Man film, we yet again were bombarded with links to future films and characters. Don’t get me wrong, the Easter eggs tickled my soft spots, but there were just so many of them in one film which sometimes negated what was happening within the present scene that I was watching.
Now for some cons… while I like that Tony Stark made Spider-Man’s suit, giving it a hi-tech upgrade for the ages, there were far too many deus ex machinas in the suit that substituting for ways Peter would have be able to use his intellect to get out of jam. Hopefully that changes in the sequels until Peter is a fully realized hero and just doesn’t need the gadgets unless he makes them himself. Nonetheless, the suit is definitely cool as are Peter’s friends and family which add to their roles when the suit does come into play. The other issue I had was that, when Spider-man did “play”, the suit looked cartoonish. For a studio like Marvel and Disney, I get confused as to why there’d be any truly noticeable CGI like there was with Spider-Man in certain situations. Besides the technical stuff, there were also too many unanswered questions about the after effects of what Spider-Man did and does. The same questions that loom whenever any hero does anything.
Overall, this is a fun film, but I’m not giving Marvel a pass on how they put their touch on the film overall. The cast is terrific, the performances are spot on, and the humor is solid, but not as good as some of their other films. What frustrates me the most with Marvel from time to time is the lack of build up with their emotional scenes. They have them, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t give you enough time to feel that swell of emotion like you want too in their films of late. I felt that way with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and stand by that statement. There’s a great scene in the third act of the film with just Peter and Tom Holland showing off how he got the gig in the first place, and while I was all in with that scene, just like that the emotion went away. It wasn’t because it give time to marinate, but the pace of the film changed and the personality of those scenes permeated into the fairly underwhelming finale.
Was Spider-Man: Homecoming worth the wait? Of course it was! It’s a Marvel movie with one of the top five greatest superheroes ever with an actor that does him more than justice. His supporting cast and villain(s) are terrific and believable which makes me excited to see them in future films, and the story was actually pretty organic and believable. The amount of details for future characters and plot details is more exciting than the movie was, but at the same time, that’s how Marvel’s formula works, build the anticipation with early films to eventually lead to something larger. This was very much a “homecoming” for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and he has every right to remain on the dance floor.