Movie Review: 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'
Opened: 5 July 2017 (UK)
Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr.
Director: Jon Watts
Producers: Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal
After 12 years, six movies, and three role changes, you’d be inclined to ask: Do we need another Spider-Man movie? Or for that matter, another superhero movie? Well the answer to both those questions is yes and YES!
While Homecoming is far from perfect, it’s still hands down one of the best Spider-Man films to grace our screens (probably due to Marvel Studios having had some creative input into its production, and nobody knows their key property as well as they do, naturally), and because casting Brit Tom Holland as the wall-crawler is nothing short of a masterstroke. The actor, while a little rough around the edges, perfectly captures the essence and nuances of both Spidey and a teenage Peter Parker – right from the character’s initial mawkishness, to scepticisms about his adolescence and insecurities, to then finally accepting the power that’s been bestowed upon him, it's all almost on point.
Mercifully, we’re spared any origin or backstory, which is a relief given they’ve been done to death in the character’s previous outings, and instead the plot's onus turns out to be an extension of Spider-Man’s appearance in last year’s Civil War, where Peter Parker, on a high after playing the field with the big boys (that’s the Avengers to you and me), is a little distracted from his high school duties because he’s desperately seeing validation from Stark (Downey Jr, pitch perfect, in a role he can now play in his sleep) and his aide Happy (Favreau), so that he can become a part of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and prove his true worth.
Exasperated from rescuing cats out of trees and bumbling around his neighbourhood, he accidentally stumbles upon a group of street thugs in possession of sophisticated weaponry which link back to the Chitauri (from the first Avengers film), and get him entangled (literally) and facing off, with the film’s principal antagonist Adrian Toomes/The Vulture (Michael Keaton, layered, charismatic and compelling despite his character’s shady intentions), teaching him the ultimate life lesson; that it’s the man that makes the suit and not the other way around.
While the movie’s basic premise is superhero templated fodder, interwoven with staple coming-of-age elements, it’s thanks to its sheer personality is where Homecoming really scores. Replete with quick-witted one-liners, that never take away from the film’s drama or intensity, it strikes an almost perfect balance between gradual character arc and on screen wow factor (the action that takes place at the Washington Monument, is edge of the seat stuff).
Ultimately though, it’s the cast that make Homecoming what it is. To reiterate, Holland is solid as the more classic Peter Parker grappling between adulthood and adolescence, and his enthusiasm is intoxicating even through the film’s slower portions. And Keaton, unlike other caricature-ish antagonists, adds some dimension to a character, whose intentions go beyond just standard world domination and/or revenge. They’re aided by able support in the form of Downey Jr, Marisa Tomei and Zendaya, and a few obligatory tongue in cheek cameos which only add to the film’s overall charm.
In short, Homecoming is just the energy and rejuvenation that the character needed, and it’s a lot better than expected, perfectly balancing wit, character, freshness and scale, without re-inventing the wheel too much. Welcome back home Spider-Man.