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Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming
06.29.2017
9 10

PLOT: Peter Parker tries to readjust to normal life as a high-schooler after his amazing interaction with the Avengers. Determined to prove his worth as the superhero Spider-Man, every facet of Parker's resolve is tested when an unscrupulous villain starts causing major trouble in his neighborhood.

REVIEW: The most crucial thing is this: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING gets the character of Peter Parker just so right. It understands his good nature, his goofy sense of humor, his yearn to be a hero. This combined with the fact that, as hinted at in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, Tom Holland is quite perfect casting as Peter; for all intents and purposes the ideal personification of the legendary character. The rest falls beautifully into place. HOMECOMING is a supremely savvy example of how to refresh a character without making the audience sit through the same old time-wasting origin story bull. This is a coming-of-age tale, and a winning comedy about a kid who wants to grow up too fast and save the day, when he should be appreciating the brief amount of time he actually gets to be young and carefree. Of course, this kid just happens to have superpowers, so what's he going to do, not use them?

The opening of the film sets an ideal tone, showing Peter Parker's perspective of the big Avengers fight during CIVIL WAR. It impeccably gives us a look at who Peter is; as these guys are potentially being torn apart as a group, Peter is participating with giddy enthusiasm, hardly a worry in the world. Soon after those events blow his mind, Peter is in full-on superhero mode, eager for Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) to let him in on the next big mission. For his part, Tony wants almost nothing to do with the kid, allowing loyal Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) to field a innumerable amount of calls and texts from the teenager, who is already over being the "friendly neighborhood Spider-Man," with responsibilities ranging from helping out old ladies to thwarting car thieves. If only he had a real opportunity, he could prove his worth and become a member of the Avengers.

Peter gets his wish and is really put to the test, when an influx of highly advanced weapons make their way onto the streets of Queens. Determined to find out the source, Peter puts himself in increasingly perilous situations as he investigates the mastermind behind this villainy: a man who flies using mechanical wings and has a handful of trigger-happy henchmen at his disposal. Unbeknownst to Peter, this is Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a former contractor who has turned to collecting, and illegally unloading, a stockpile of high-tech guns and ammo. Where'd these weapons come from? From salvaged Chitauri technology left over after the invasion of New York as seen in THE AVENGERS. You really shouldn't leave that stuff lying around.

Director Jon Watts, who had only made the low-budget thrillers CLOWN and COP CAR before this, turns out to be an inspired choice to helm HOMECOMING, as he handles both the situational comedy of the piece and the superhero action with equal efficiency. Neither of the two genres get the short shrift; the film is plotted and paced very well. The action is, for the most part, more down to earth than in most Marvel films, which is naturally befitting for Spidey, but it's no less exciting, and as the movie goes on the stakes grow higher and the threat the Toomes poses becomes very real. One of the best scenes in the film is a confrontation between Toomes and Spider-Man that is all talk, no action. Like the best Marvel movies, the film makes the most of the little moments that occur between enemies.

Tom Holland is simply terrific as Peter Parker. No offense to Tobey Maguire, who was certainly always enjoyable to watch in the Sam Raimi films, but Holland so immediately makes the character his own that he's already the definitive Parker in my eyes. He's charismatic, has great comic timing, and absolutely looks the part. Holland is so good that it would be a shame if he was wasted in a movie that didn't utilize him to his full potential, but that's never a problem here. He is more than capable of selling Peter's wide-eyed sense of adventure while also imbuing him with plenty of the traits that make him recognizable as a naive - sometimes foolish - teenager. But most importantly, you're never in doubt that Peter is unquestionably a good person who means well; the essence of Spider-Man.

If there is a problem I have with HOMECOMING, it concerns the villain's motives. Michael Keaton is good as Toomes, and we believe that though he's slightly unhinged, he's not necessarily an evil man. But when it comes to the "why" of what he's doing what he's doing, it's a little hard to swallow. I guess I should be grateful Toomes is not just another villain hellbent on wiping out humanity or ruling the galaxy for predictable reasons. He's essentially a family man trying to get by and take care of his own. But I must believe there are easier ways to do that before you resort to strapping on wings and creating a high-tech criminal organization.

Not a big deal, because this is Spider-Man's movie, and he's great fun to watch. The supporting cast is good as well, with Jacob Batalon stealing a lot of scenes as Peter's friend and right-hand man Ned. The character gets a lot of well-earned laughs. Also surprisingly funny is Zendaya, in a small but important role as one of Peter's classmates. I barely know who Zendaya is, but what I did know about her didn't lead me to believe she'd do so well in a role that asks her to be snarky and sardonic. Of course, Robert Downey Jr gets to do his thing as Tony Stark, and he's naturally a very welcome presence (though he's not in the film as much as you might think). Jon Favreau's Happy has far more screen time and is a good foil for Peter. Peter has another sidekick of sorts in the form of Karen, voiced by Jennifer Connelly. Karen is basically Spider-Man's version of Jarvis, and she and Peter have a few fairly interesting interactions. And Marisa Tomei is a splendid, quirky Aunt Mae; her scenes with Peter are enough to make you wish for a prequel that's just about the two of them hanging out and living together.

The more I think about SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, the more I appreciate and adore it. It's definitely in the top echelon of Marvel movies, up there with the first GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, which might be my two favorite superhero movies of all time. I've only seen it once, this is true, but even after one viewing it's pretty hard to walk away from HOMECOMING not thinking you've just seen the most ideal big-screen take on Spidey yet, and one of the best examples of the genre, period.

Extra Tidbit: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING opens July 7th
Source: JoBlo.com

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