Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

  • Time: 133 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Jon Watts
  • Cast: Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow

Storyline:

Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark, Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.

4 reviews

  • 2017 has seen the release of some particularly excellent superhero films – the elegiac Logan, the rousing Wonder Woman and now the giddily enjoyable Spider-man: Homecoming. As its title suggests, this is both a return to form for the beloved webslinger (whose previous screen incarnations – Sam Raimi’s Spider-man trilogy and Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-man duology – garnered mixed reactions from fans) as well as a fantastic example of the teen movie genre. It’s also an auspicious sign that the intellectual property marriage between Sony Pictures, who own the rights to the character, and Marvel Studios, who have been trying to get the character integrated into the MCU, may be a fruitful one.

    Certainly the crowd-pleasing appearance of Marvel’s own boy wonder during the superhero showdown in Captain America: Civil War was a most mouth-watering appetiser of the main course that is Homecoming. Part of the issues with the previous incarnations was the fact that, as boyish as both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were, there was no getting around that they were on the mature side and thus the character more angst-ridden and narratives inclined to embrace the “with great power there must also come great responsibility” trajectory. That arc isn’t ignored in Homecoming but it’s made all the more resonant precisely because this Peter is allowed to be and act his age.

    It also helps that the screenwriters forgo the usual origin story and instead focus on the events following the battle in Berlin. Though Peter is eager to be a full-fledged member of the Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) isn’t exactly ready to induct new members so Peter bides his time, donning the Spidey suit so he can patrol his Queens neighbourhood for any signs of criminal activity and pestering Stark’s Guy Friday Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) for news on new assignments. Outside the suit, he’s just an ordinary kid, crushing on decathlon teammate Liz (Laura Harrier), geeking out with best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon), getting ragged on by smug rich kid “Flash” (Tony Revolori), and doing his best not to worry his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).

    Peter wants to prove his mettle to Stark and he gets his chance when he crosses paths with Adrian Toomes aka Vulture (Michael Keaton), a former city contractor whose salvaging company went out of business after Stark partnered with the federal government to form the Department of Damage Control following the Battle of New York. Enraged that the same person who caused the damage is now being paid to clean it up, Toomes convinces his crew – Brice (Logan Marshall-Green), Schultz (Bokeem Woodbine) and Mason (Michael Chernus) – to keep the alien technology they’ve found amidst the debris and turn it into weapons they can sell. The very profitable business has ensured that Toomes can provide for his family and he’s not about to let some guy in a costume ruin his status quo.

    Villains have always been a problem in most superhero films (though Marvel deftly circumvented that by spotlighting the internal conflicts that bubbled over in Civil War and which will continue in Avengers: Infinity War), but Toomes stands apart. He’s no megalomaniac trying to take over the world, he’s a man just earning a living. Which is not to say that he is one of if not the best baddie the MCU has ever had. It was a stroke of genius to cast Keaton, who has unintentionally created his own Avian trilogy – first Batman, then Birdman and now Vulture. Keaton perfectly calibrates Toomes’ villainy, rooting his portrayal in humanity rather than overplaying the character’s psychosis. One of Toomes’ most chilling moments lasts but a second or two when he spots Spider-man thwarting another one of his deals on the Staten Island ferry – the diabolical flash in his eyes is reason enough for one to worry about Spider-man’s fate.

    One could go on about all the things that Homecoming does right – the hilarious method it uses to integrate Captain America, the way it nods to its sexier Aunt May, its homage to teen classics The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, its witty reference to the 2002 film’s famous upside-down kiss, the impracticalities of having to chase bad guys through the wilds of suburbia (where he can’t swing from skyscraper to skyscraper with ease), Peter learning all of his suit’s capabilities on the fly, and the constant struggle between being a 15-year-old kid and learning how to be a superhero. What he comes to realise is that the latter isn’t always about saving lives but rather learning to live with the fact that, despite all one’s best efforts, not every life can be saved.

    Unfailingly entertaining, Homecoming does what all superhero films should: leave you wanting more.

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  • Peter Parker wants to be part of the Avengers. And under the eyeing supervision of Tony Stark, he may get his chance assuming the identity of Spider-Man, the web-shooting NYC victor. That’s the gist of Spider-Man: Homecoming, my latest review.

    Tom Holland plays Mr. Parker. He’s decent in the role but there’s a certain amount of guilelessness in his performance. When Pete defeats a bad guy, he spouts off stuff like “yippee” or “woo-hoo”. It feels a little grating at times but hey, the dude portrays an undeveloped fifteen-year-old so I guess it’s you know, predicted.

    Anyway, I’m not an aficionado on superhero films nor am I a fanatic when it comes the character of Spider-Man (or the Spider-Man franchise). I did however, enjoy Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s a sort of “you can tell” way of rebooting the yesteryear of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.

    Now I was hesitant on taking in a screening seeing that “Homecoming’s” trailer readily misleads you. I initially thought of something low budget, with a kiddie feel, a cartooning palate, and yet another change in the lead actor department (Holland looks like a cross between a young Tony Goldwyn and a teenage Eric Bana). Heck, for all I know this could’ve been the next Home Alone 3. Thankfully that wasn’t the case.

    Lushly directed by Colorado native Jon Watts, Spider-Man: Homecoming allows Johnny boy to generate stupendous action sequences at breakneck speed. His camera, which gives the film a more comic book look see, is always hastily roving around. My favorite sequence is one in which Spider-Man saves his buddies from an elevator crash via the Washington Monument. It’s pretty invigorating stuff and if you’re afraid of heights, you might have to look away.

    All in all, “Homecoming’s” budget is still healthy at $175 million. It’s $118 million below the last Spidey-sense installment (2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2) but so what. The vibe with Spider- Man Homecoming is less dark, more fancy-free, and more cheery than everything else in the Spider-Man canon. It’s like superhero fanaticism meets Pretty in Pink or She’s All That. Add a creepy villain in Michael Keaton (he plays Adrian Toomes aka Vulture) and the result is a stony mixture of cutesy high schooling, deadpan humor, and intimidating villainy. What can I say, it just works. Rating: 3 stars.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

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  • I was looking forward to Spider-Man: Homecoming because it appeared to have some wit and humor in the story as well as believable characters. I was not disappointed. The story left questions in my mind. I’m afraid I haven’t followed each and every film so I don’t know what happened that produced the situation we find ourselves in with this movie. The connection was cleared up quickly but my son had to explain what had happened that created all the hardware that was causing so much trouble.
    Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley have created a script that allows for many sequels but which completes the story if not the character’s line within it. I had some trouble with time being ignored but that often happens in movies that use countdowns to build suspense. The director, Jon Watts, has done a good job of keeping the pace up but allowing for down time so the action sequences have more punch.
    The best thing about this movie, however, is Tom Holland playing Peter Parker/Spider-Man. His energy is infectious and carries the audience. Marisa Tomei play Peter Parker’s Aunt May who has raised him since his parents died. (Why can’t the parents live?) Aunt May is generous and all-knowing and I certainly wouldn’t have minded having her for an aunt when I was growing up.
    Michael Keaton plays an honorable bad guy, Adrian Toomes, who twists between respecting Spider-Man and trying to kill him. His is a solid but been there/done that performance. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark always seems to be rushing to his next appointment and so he is in this film. John Favreau is Happy Hogan in one of his few recent on-screen appearances. Downey’s and Favreau’s characters are cut from the same cloth and fit together perfectly.
    Then there are the cameos. Gwyneth Paltrow makes an appearance as Pepper which should happen if Stark is around. Tyne Daly, literally an award winning star of stage, screen, and television, plays the character Anne Marie Hoag, a government official but she disappears quickly so I have to assume she’s has been or will be in this movie world. Stan Lee, naturally, makes his usual Hitchcockian appearance but the cameo that came off as the oddest was Captain America, Chris Evans, showing up on classroom videos encouraging students to do the right thing whatever the class was.
    I give Spider-Man: Homecoming, 4 ½ ferries out of 5. It is an entertaining movie but I still can’t figure out the title and you have to accept the world as presented, to have a stand-alone story that doesn’t require previous story lines to understand.

  • (RATING: ☆☆☆☆ out of 5 )

    GRADE: B

    THIS FILM IS RECOMMENDED.

    IN BRIEF: A superhero movie that does not take itself so seriously and benefits from its off-beat humor and winning cast.

    SYNOPSIS: The Spiderman saga retold, with a new cast of heroes and villains.

    RUNNING TIME: 2 hrs., 13 mins.

    JIM’S REVIEW:  I am just soooo tire of comic book superhero movies! They usually follow the same by-the-numbers formula (hero gets superpowers, hero learns how to use those powers effectively, hero fight diabolical super villain, hero saves the world…end of story…that is, until the next installment.) Neither the superhero (or their filmmakers) have much courage to go outside of the lines and be halfway original or clever. (Yes, there have been some recent entries that have actually shown some creativity, Doctor Strange, Logan, and Wonder Woman being three fine examples, but those films are rarities in this lost in translation genre.)

    Which brings us to the latest superhero saga, Spiderman: Homecoming, the third incarnation of this Marvel series crusader. Now, let’s make that four!

    While there are some flaws to its storytelling, the film has much to admire. It still suffers from much of that “same sameness” that I previously mentioned…the perfunctory plot structure, temporary mishaps that befall any superhero, an overabundance of set action pieces that rely too heavily on CGI…Spiderman: Homecoming falls into those traps but also adds some nice bits of originality along the way. (It even tries a plot twist that did not surprise me, but (from the audience reaction) worked very successfully on most of the moviegoers around me.)

    So what makes this so much more watchable than most of this ilk? Some positive factors are:

    1. a gawky superhero that actually acts his chronological age of 15 years old (but still looks slightly older, more like 16 going on 17)
    2. a wonderful wry sense of humor that frequently works, with enough insider jokes to placate the fanboys and others
    3. a sympathetic villain (well played by Michael Keaton) that is not into world domination, but more into protesting the working class struggle
    4. as written, a character in which an actor plays up the teenage novice angle and dwells less of the mighty hero fixation

    Wearing that famous red and blue spandex outfit now is Tom Holland. (Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garland have previously played the role with much success in previous movies.) Mr. Holland has youth and inexperience on his side and he uses his ah-shucks demeanor and rushed nasal voice to make Peter Parker a more complex and real teenager filled with all the angst and problems of peer pressure that gives most adolescent moviegoers the ability to relate. Mr. Holland brings authenticity to his character and a goofy awkwardness that helps us automatically suspend belief and buy into the standard mechanics of a plot that does meander.

    So who does one root for, the semi-evil Vulture or our feisty webmaster? Klutzy teenager vs. criminal mastermind? Both characters are equal adversaries in this version and the actors bring nuance to their roles, which elevates the film tremendously.

    Director John Watts wisely concentrates on the human drama behind the masks. He takes the time to establish the villain’s motives and makes him less of a cartoon nemesis. He focuses on our hero, the nerd, coming to terms with his new image while gaining self confidence and inner strength, although the ineptness issues do go on a bit too long. Yet that story is actually more interesting than the many overblown set action pieces of CGI technology. These action scenes do hold one’s interest, even if the proportions of Spidey and his surroundings, the less than ideal staging, and close-up blurry movement blunts the impact. The side story about Spiderman joining forces with the Avengers crew may interest some loyal comic book fans but that angle simply bored me. (The best sequence in the film, by far, is peril on the Staten Island Ferry; the weakest being the climactic fight scene.)

    Some other filmmaking decisions that paid off: Love interest? A little, but more time is spent on the bromance between Peter and his buddy, Ned (Jacob Batalon, a strong casting choice, playing against stereotype most effectively). Fortunately there is also less exposition spent about Spiderman’s origins and background, although Marissa Tomei as his Aunt May provides a warm addition to the cast. Also contributing fine support is Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Laura Harrier, and Robert Downey, Jr. as you-know-who.

    Spiderman: Homecoming is a delightfully entertaining comic book blockbuster that knows its source well enough to bust through the tired clichés that entrap most other superhero films. It uses its smart sense of humor to win you over and comes up a real winner.

    NOTE: Stay for the “final” end credits. Your patience will be rewarded.

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