Review — Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spidey’s back and better than ever.

I almost never go see a movie in a theater these days. It’s just too darn expensive, especially for a family of six. In general I’m quite content to wait for a movie to make it to a streaming platform. So here it is that I write a review for the latest entry in the Spider-man film franchise, a movie that came out last summer. It was on sale for $13 on iTunes back in December, veritable rock-bottom pricing for a Marvel film, so I took the plunge then and finally sat down to watch it the other night.

I walked into it with measured expectations. For one thing I was recovering from a cold, and was worried that that would dampen any enjoyment I might have. I’m also rarely blown away by the films in Marvel’s cinematic universe. They’re almost never bad, they’re usually enjoyable, but they rarely rise to the level of greatness for me. But they often feel very template-driven. So with all that said, I was bowled over by how much I enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming. I’m not sure I’ve been as pleasantly surprised and delighted by a new movie since The Force Awakens.

I knew I would like Tom Holland in titular role. I’ve seen Captain America: Civil War and his small presence in that movie (along with Paul Rudd’s Ant Man) was overwhelmingly the best part of that dour broodfest. It’s impossible to overstate just how good Holland is as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Though Holland is six years older than Parker’s age in the film, he’s quite convincing at playing a high school student, much more so than the actors that have played the part in the past. He’s also surrounded by an incredible cast, many of them playing small parts in the form of the other kids in Peter’s science club.

I tend to prefer more light-hearted comic book films. There are exceptions of course. I enjoy Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and love Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix. I also tend to prefer the smaller-stakes comic book films to the world’s-about-to-end, city-toppling ones. So this movie was right in my sweet spot. I even appreciate how the movie ended with Spider-Man choosing not to join The Avengers and remain “your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” instead. Of course I realize Marvel’s going to include him in the Avengers films, but at least we got this one.

Michael Keaton was also truly enjoyable as this film’s villain. He applied just the right level of hamminess to the part that worked really well with the film’s humor.

From the marketing material for this film I was afraid that Iron Man was going to play a huge roll in the film. I was delighted to see that they merely sprinkled him into the film in a way that felt appropriate and left Peter Parker to drive the film without being constantly upstaged by Robert Downey Jr.

I also loved that they didn’t insult our intelligence by assuming we needed to see yet another retelling of Spidey’s origin story. Everyone knows how Peter Parker became Spider-Man, and this film wisely just gives us a great Spider-Man story. Bravo, Disney/Sony!

My complaints are few for this film. The title felt too meta and self-referential to Spider-Man officially joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though there is a very minor homecoming subplot in the film it’s certainly not pivotal enough to warrant being in the name. The CGI, while very good, still hasn’t crossed that uncanny valley, and it’s was pretty clear that much of the time that either Holland or Keaton were in their suits they were transformed into CGI characters. Like a modern day version of Kirk Alyn’s Superman serials where whenever he leapt into the sky he transformed into a cartoon character.

Spider-Man: Homecoming was well worth my $13 and my wife loved it as well! Looking forward to seeing if the next film in this new Spider-Man franchise can come close to being as good as this one was.

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