Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is back (again) in Spider-Man: Homecoming all new Marvel/Sony hybrid production (they finally decided to work together after the less than stellar Amazing Spiderman entries) headed up by Kevin Feige producing, John Francis Daley writing and Jon Watts directing, who have a great history of doing high school stories right (Freaks and Geeks anyone?). And that is exactly what this movie is: a high school coming of age story akin to The Breakfast Club (complete with kitchy music) or Sixteen Candles, but with the innards of a great Marvel Cinematic Universe movie! In the same way that Ant-Man was a heist movie, and Captain American: The Winter Soldier was a political action thriller, so too does this incarnation of Spider-Man capture the genre of the coming-of-age teen drama, but with webs, villains, and Iron Man!
The tone and vibe of this film is instantly likable and relatable, as is Tom Holland, who plays the smart, charming, awkward, youngest Peter/Spidey to date, almost flawlessly! We all went through the high school moments he goes through in this film (asking out the girl/guy, feeling like no one understands you, being ruled over by adults seemingly unfairly, etc) and that’s what connects us to this film. The great 3D and CGI special effects and awesome plot line are just more icing on the cake! We really feel in sync with Peter Parker.
Skipping over the usual intro/origin story the previous Spiderman franchises had, Peter glosses over this element of his story by dismissing it with “the spider is dead” to his friend and “the thing with Aunt May” to describe his Uncle’s tragic death, thus keeping the tone lighter and focusing on present. Tony Stark/Iron Man becomes his reluctant sponsor/mentor with Happy Hogan as the frustrated mediator between the two, with Peter struggling to manage his desire to do good with the restraints put on him by Tony ( both in discouraging from him fighting epic battles in favor local/small time crime and the “Training Wheels” protocol that prevents use of his full range of Stark suit abilities). He also struggles to make time for his friends and his school responsibilities with battling the Vulture (amazingly and creepily played by Michael Keaton) a former do-gooder turned alien weapons/tech dealer after being laid off by the very government organizations and power mongers like the Avengers and Tony Stark that purport to do good for people.
I won’t reveal the twist that connects him to Peter’s high school life, but it is meaningful and locks the plot into some solid emotions and logic. No real big plot holes in this one (looking at you Amazing Spiderman 2.
Iron Man, Happy, Captain America, Stan Lee, and even Pepper Pots all make their awesome cameos and shine in support roles, but with credit to Tom Holland, don’t overshadow him in this film. There are lots of hilarious moments, inside jokes and Marvel Easter Eggs, not to mention a stellar supporting cast (Martin Starr as the Science Club teacher is especially funny). The action is top notch (Spidey’s suit and Vulture’s wings and armor are particularly impressive and well designed), and if I had any complaint its that some of the support cast didn’t get enough time (Marissa Tomei as Aunt May, Zendaya as MJ and Martin Starr in particular) while some got too much (his best friend and comic relief was there a little too much sometimes).
Also that some of the battles and hits they took verged on the ridiculously long and unsurvive-able. (The last battle scene was long, like Return of the King long).
But all in all this is the best Spider-Man movie since Spiderman 2 with Tobey McGuire, so definitely check out your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man soon!