I need to start off this review with a bit of a preface. Of the pantheon of Marvel superheroes, I've probably been a fan of Spider-Man the longest. I've found something to enjoy in each of the cinematic iterations up until this point even if they are a mixed bunch of films (which I think I may revisit a little later on in this blog). But, now, with Marvel fully at the helm of the character I really feel like they finally nailed it. They really, really nailed it. I'm so jazzed about this movie, I'm not sure I can be objective. But I will try, dear reader, I promise. And I'll take it easy on the spoilers too.
The film opens with video diary footage Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) shot while on his way to join the action we saw in Captain America: Civil War, entrusted to the care of Tony Stark's
I feel like this iteration of Spider-Man really nailed the character as I always loved him. He isn't perfect, he messes up but still picks himself up and tries again. This is Peter Parker early in his career as a superhero and while he genuinely is enjoying it, he quickly finds it to be harder than he ever thought it would be. I liked seeing Spider-Man in over his head, trying to catch Adrian Toombs and his crew but also learning along the way how to do it right. Tony Stark has a supporting role here, acting as a bit of a father figure/mentor to Peter. I really liked their relationship and how it drove Peter to want to catch Toombs to impress Tony. That whole relationship between the two as they learned to work together and trust each other was a welcome addition to the film.
The action sequences of the film were all well done and very well executed. It's become common for Superhero films lately to climax with a ton of overdone and poorly rendered CGI that this film wisely sidesteps, keeping things more grounded and practical, which I appreciated. I won't go into details because of spoilers, but I felt each sequence was really well handled and slickly executed.
I loved the high school setting for the film and that they went ahead with a considerably younger Peter Parker, who is a sophomore in high school in this film. It's a welcome change from the other films that mostly skipped over Peter's high school years. This one really feels like if John Hughes made a Spider-Man movie. It really nails that time in a kid's life and feels authentic, which makes the more fantastical elements of the film work as well. The scenes between Peter and his best friend Ned (played by Jacob Batalon) were some of my favorites in the movie. There's also a sweetness and almost innocence to the film that I found refreshing. This Peter just wants to do what's right and be a hero because he can and not someone bogged down by guilt and remorse by a murdered uncle. He looks up to Tony and Captain America and wants to be one of them. It's those aspirations and the stumbles he takes along the way that make the character so relatable to me.
This film does a great job drawing it's characters and then casting actors in the roles that can really play them well. Tom Holland is now my absolute favorite Spider-Man. He captures the role perfectly in a way that I have been hungering for since the first Raimi film. This was the character I read in the comics and they really nailed it. Holland really captures not only Parker's quick wit, which he does have, but his naivete as well. They give Peter a great story arc in the film and Holland performs it wonderfully.
But more than that, I appreciated the care they gave to the villain, Adrian Toombs. He has more depth than is usually given in these films and I couldn't help but at least kind of sympathize with him. At his core, he's just trying to provide for his family and stay afloat in tough economic times. He's a little guy trying to make it in the world, seeing himself overshadowed by the big shots like Tony Stark. I know Michael Keaton can play a great bad guy, as seen in previous films such as Pacific Heights and Desperate Measures. He brings that same level of menace to this role as well, especially in a particularly tense scene between Toombs and Peter, but tempers it because Toombs isn't naturally evil but feels forced into his place because he feels his livelihood and family are being threatened. Keaton does a great job playing this duality and it's nice to see that level of characterization given to a villain.
Marisa Tomei also has some great scenes in the film and I really love her as Aunt May. I'm glad they went with someone younger as it never made sense to me why Aunt May would be such an older lady, as she was depicted in the comics and previous films. Tomei plays her scenes with Peter wonderfully and I really got that feeling of a bond between the two characters. As perhaps one of five people who fondly remembers the film Only You (in which Tomei co-starred with Robert Downey Jr.), I found May's vocal dislike of Tony Stark most amusing. Also, and this might be ever so slightly spoilerish, but she gets the last line in the movie and it left me busting a gut laughing.
Spider-Man: Homecoming was everything I could have hoped for and more. I loved every minute of it. It was filled with thrilling action sequences, great acting, a well developed story and some fantastic humor as well. There is a light-heartedness to this film that I really responded to and genuinely loved. This may just be my favorite Superhero movie of the summer, or at least a tie with Wonder Woman. Ugh, why am I making myself choose? Okay, it's a tie! It's a tie. Seriously though, it's pretty damn fantastic. Also, since this is a Marvel movie I should advise you that it has a mid-credits scene as well as a huge, huge, game changing end credits scene so make sure to plan accordingly. You'll want to stick around for both.