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 slightly 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 some of 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 yr old.
Tom Holland 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 up, constantly nervous Peter. He’s not a stud, nor uber 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. 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 Zenday’s first name isn’t mentioned until almost an hour into the movie and then her full name isn’t given until the final scene. It’s funny to watch the lengths they go through.
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 was scared crapless and was thinking this is 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 he’s constantly treated so shabbily in his own movie. 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 they also acted like Spider-Man is who is solely because of Tony Stark. They change this in the final act, but the damage to his character is already 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 quit 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, another where he’s driving a car 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 decathlon team – which he doesn’t even show up for. It felt sort of like the Fantastic Four where the director and 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.
Final Grade B