One of 2017’s most beloved movies, Spider-Man: Homecoming is now available in glorious 4K UHD. Is the transfer as good as we all hope?
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My two favorite super hero films remain X-Men 2, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 and The Avengers. For me those three films couldn’t be more different and represent the pinnacle of the Super-Hero genre. I’m not one of those blind “Marvel can do no wrong” fan girls. Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t a perfect film, but it’s damn fun if not also disappointing. You can skip all this great prose and go directly to my incoherent video review at the end of the review!
The saturation marketing ruined a large chunk of the film for me. I didn’t walk in with my expectations high, I walked in feeling like I saw the entire film and there were no surprises left to be discovered. I found myself watching the movie waiting to see all the moments from the trailer. If you have seen the numerous trailers, 30 second spots, there’s not much left to see. With that said, the movie is so fun that it’s hard not to get swept up. From the pre-opening to the end it is a fun ride.
Michael Keaton and Tom Holland are the reasons this movie shines, despite its flaws. Director Jon Watts does a really solid job with this. Spider-Man: Homecoming is really a high school movie with super hero elements added on. This is classic Peter Parker that I both love AND hate at the same time. I hate it because High School Peter is so boring and considering I grew up with Spider-Man I like storylines where my favorite super hero also grows and matures. It’s one of the things I loved about the previous Spider-Man films. So, it was frustrating watching him regress back to being a teenager. Not only that but a 15-year-old.
Tom Holland’s Peter is so likeable and normal that I just rolled with it and managed to love the world that they built. After 15 years of not reading comics – it was Ultimate Spider-Man that got me back into reading comics and this movie clearly got its story beats/cues from that series. It was refreshing to see an average HS Peter, not the picked on, constantly nervous Peter. He’s not a stud, nor popular but he’s not the stereotypical sad sack either. He’s just kind of “there.” Sure, Flash Thomson (Tony Revolori) is still around to pick on him, but it’s not “vicious” like in the books.
Parker is known for scoring with women and this movie is no different. One of the big mysteries in the film, that I won’t spoil who the two girls in Peter’s life – Zendaya and Laura Harrier are. It’s kind of silly and ham-fisted the way they try and turn this into a mystery. Laura’s character name isn’t mentioned for a full 20 – 30 minutes and Zendaya’s first name isn’t mentioned until the end of the movie in the final scene. It’s funny to watch the lengths they go through for the “big reveal.” She just randomly pops up in most scenes and it’s never “Hey ….”
I really loved Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May in this. They don’t give her much to do, but they did a nice job of making her a little more active in Peter’s life and the ending really cemented the idea that this is going to be Ultimate Spider-Man and not main stream Spider-Man.
It was so great seeing Spider-Man fight a villain that we haven’t seen on screen before. Michael Keaton’s vulture was scary without being comedic and Keaton brought a shocking amount of intensity to the part. Just the look in his eyes scared the crap out of me and I loved that the story took the time in a few short scenes to establish his motivations and Keaton really makes you care about the Vulture. I kept saying “no Spidey” he’s an intense guy but he’s not all “bad.”
There’s a particular moment where the confrontation between Keaton and Holland is so intense that I thought this was probably one of the best scenes I’ve seen all year in any movie. And it was all done more with a series of looks than anything that was being said.
Notice I’m almost done with this review and haven’t mentioned Spider-Man at all? Like this review, the film treated Spider-Man as kind of an afterthought. This is my issue with the first Captain America movie all over again. It’s hard to love the hero where all the characters treat him like he’s a clown. Spider-Man and Peter Parker are two different characters, yet every time Peter put on the mask, he was just Peter in a mask. He never truly becomes “Spider-Man.”
Meaning “Spider-Man” is never the cocky hero with the quips that we know and love. He’s just a kid “learning” how to be a hero. Which, considering he’s 15 is fine, I guess, but it’s not the Spider-Man I wanted to see. It didn’t help that such a large part of the first half of the film had him being completely diminished and basically ridiculed by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Happy (Jon Favreau). Spider-Man already proved his worth in Civil War, so to see him treated so badly was irritating.
I didn’t like that the film made it seem like Spider-Man is who is solely because of Tony Stark. By the time they Tony changes his attitude in the final act the damage is done. Tony Stark is the one who gives him the web shooters – even though they later show Peter creating his own. Tony’s the one who uses the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man line. Tony is the one who uses the “With Great Power and Responsibility” line (as a joke) and on and on. Don’t even get me started on no Spider-Sense.
It also didn’t help that the trailers spoiled almost all of Spider-Man’s big moments and honestly, I didn’t think the CGI moments looked particularly good on the big screen. The web swinging didn’t look quite right to me and certainly not as good in the previous Spider-Man films and it seemed like the director was purposefully trying to avoid showing the typical “Spider-Man swings between buildings” stuff by putting Spider-Man in way too many situations where he couldn’t. There’s a ridiculous moment where he’s running through back yards and bouncing off houses, another where he’s driving a car through Queens and yet another where he’s on a highway.
The entire highway sequence drove me nuts because he was wearing a gigantic backpack through the entire thing. Again, all of this could be brushed aside by saying he’s only a “15-year-old” kid. But Peter is also a genius – which is almost never explored in this film – beyond his being on a high school quiz team – which he doesn’t even show up for. It felt sort of like the Fantastic Four where the director clearly hated the Fantastic Four. Here, the writers clearly loved Peter Parker but seemed to think of Spider-Man as an afterthought.
If you can ignore the fact that they messed up, you know, Spider-Man. This is still a fun movie to watch but it’s not a film I would watch multiple times. I won’t say I was disappointed, I walked out loving it, but the more I thought/think about it, the more it kind of bugs me.
4K Video Picture Quality and Audio
While Spider-Man: Homecoming is a 2K Digital Intermediary transfer, it was shot in Dolby Vision HDR and that’s where the picture really shines. When are studios finally going to get rid of letter boxing? Letterboxing made sense 20 years ago when most TVs were in 4:3 aspect ratio and it cut off the picture. But these days most people have proper wide screen TVs and ALL mainstream 4K UHD TVs are wide screen, so still using letterboxing is just stupid. With that out of the way, the image is sharp and clean. Almost too much, it made the world look too fake and clean. They are in Queens NY and everything was so artificially pristine. The transfer is just an uptick over the Blu-ray version, I never got that true 4K feel or depth that I look for in a 4k release.
The HDR is really where this film shines, literally. The different color lighting used pops off the screen and almost has a “halo” effect. Everything looks like it’s bathed in a yellowish, consistent sunset/sunrise hue and the black levels aren’t inky black, it’s almost kind of a dark, navy blue quality to the night scenes that level of color difference is lost on the Blu-ray transfer. I really need to pick up a Dolby Vision enabled player as some point. I watched a bit of this on the ATV 4K and it looks just as nice there.
This 4K UHD Title includes a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, unfortunately I don’t have Atmos yet, so I can’t really talk about the Atmos mix. I will tell you the audio sounded weirdly echoy on my soundbase at first I thought it was my Samsung Player, so I switched to my Xbox and it still had that weird tenor to it. So I don’t know if I had a bad disc or what was going on. It sounded fine on my ATV 4K.
I rented this disc so I can’t tell you if the Digital Copy Code redeems in 4K UHD or not. What I will say is Sony is pretty sleazy where the only way you can watch UHD Redemptions is on their Bravia TVs so I’m assuming they still have the same policy here. The disc includes all the usual assortment of extras – commentary track, nice set of featurettes and a pretty neat history of Spider-Man feature that does little infographic popups during the movie.
Like the movie, this is a solid, if not slightly disappointing release. It’s about as good as you would hope it would be, but falls short of being “great.” It’s safe. It’s worth a pick up if you can get it for under $20, otherwise just get the AppleTV 4K version (if you have one).
- Movie – B-
- Video – B
- Audio – C
- Extras – B
Final Grade B