Cast - 90%
Story - 89%
Music Score - 87%
Effects/Quality - 92%
Originality - 90%
Spider-Man has long been my favourite comic book superhero from before I could even remember, with my parents buying me my first comic (Spectacular Spider-Man vol.1 187) from a shop in Umhlanga in the early 1990’s before I could ever read. Though I couldn’t understand the words, I was wowed by the images of Peter Parker springing into action as Spider-Man and battling the villain of that issue, the Vulture (coincidentally). It was the first Spider-Man movie in 2002 that got me back into the medium in the early 2000’s and I’ve followed the “Wall Crawler” in his many other animated shows, comics and appearances since.
Following the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the worldwide success of ‘The Avengers’, many have wondered what it would be like if Marvel Studios required the rights to Spider-Man and worked their magic on him within their connected movie world. While they have not completely re-acquired the film rights, they have managed to successfully negotiate a deal with Sony Pictures to finally make this a reality. We got our first taste of the all-new Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, during ‘Captain America: Civil War’ last year; and what a sweat taste it was. For everybody that loved and enjoyed that version of Spider-Man, there is plenty more of that goodness in store throughout ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’. Spider-Man is arguably the most popular superhero and one of the most enduring figures in pop culture. There is an everyman quality about him, allowing most people of any age and demographic to him, and this movie does a good job of highlighting that.
While taking much of its inspiration from the early ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ line of comics as a template, ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is a pure joy for any superhero, Marvel or “Spidey” fan. Beginning just after the events of ‘The Avengers’ we are shown how the newly formed Department of Damage Control, under the auspicious of Tony Stark and the US government, impacts Adrian Toomes’ salvage business and sets him down the path to becoming the villainous Vulture. From there the film moves forward to the present day as Peter Parker readjusts to life after having met Tony Stark and encountered the other Avengers. From the moment Peter is introduced (The prologue scene is available online and the Playstation store for those that can’t wait until seeing the movie in theatres), the tone for the rest of the movie is set. The film wastes no time retelling Spider-Man’s origins or the death of Uncle Ben for a third time, choosing to drop us right into the ongoing story and succeeds in effectively telling a hero’s origin tale without including the already familiar origin itself.
The most notable thing I can say about this movie that it’s pure fun. Peter Parker, more so than any of the other previous films, is a smart and geeky high school kid, who loves being Spider-Man and can’t wait to jump into costume and help people around Queens, with the hope of impressing his new “mentor”. As the characters mention more than once, emphasis is placed on Peter being a “Friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man” and it shows, so don’t expect any grand city-wide or world threatening peril in this one as the stakes are a little more personal and ground level compared to that of other MCU films. This just feels so right, especially for the first film about this new Spider -Man, it makes you wonder why it’s taken so long for this aspect of the character to be spotlighted. I felt that this film captured more of the overall spirit of Peter Parker than any of his other five previous films have done while trying carefully to steer clear as much as possible from aspects and subject matter covered in those earlier movies. He’s got some level of scientific acumen, not accepted by his many of classmates, clearly charming, doesn’t quite have the famous “Parker luck” but still finds a way to let his activities as Spider-Man interfere with his civilian life and always striving to do the right thing even if he doesn’t quite go about it in the best of ways. It’s really amazing that they’ve incorporated all these aspects of his personality as well as several aspects of his classic costume into one film and have it all work within the structure of the film.
When he’s in costume, Spider-Man is on full display, doing whatever a spider can and throwing out good natured quips to the criminals he encounters and is very chatty; while out of costume, Peter Parker deals with day-to-day teenage life at a high school that feels more lively, diverse and representative of any high school you’re likely to find in the US today. That this is the youngest Peter Parker we’ve seen yet on film further adds to the immersion and better captures this period in the character’s life. Regardless of whether the costume is on or off, the overwhelming upbeat tone and sense of fun is present throughout. This by no means implies that this film never gets serious when it needs to. As much as Peter Parker gets a thrill out of being Spider-Man, there are times when he realises that being Spider-Man has its price and has to weigh up doing the right thing at the expense of how it will affect other’s perception of him as Peter Parker. As part of his first venture into tackling larger scale crime than he’s more accustomed to, he’ll have to overcome novice mistakes and attempt to the rise to the challenge; conveying, “with great power comes great responsibility,” without the words ever having to be spoken.
Tom Holland hits another home run in his second outing as the 15 year old Peter Parker. His joy, enthusiasm and situational comedy is a pleasure to watch and handles the heavier scenes deftly, leaving me excited to see more from him in this role in the future. It’s like watching a puppy with big paws, it is clear to see that he has so much potential and many years of leading man roles ahead of him. Michael Keaton has experienced somewhat of a career resurgence ever since ‘Birdman’ and turns in another great performance as Adrian Toomes, the Vulture, who is played more as a scavenger after his namesake, with is an inspired take on the character. His shift from blue collar worker to blue collar criminal is handled with reasonable believability and one can understand his mindset and empathise with him. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, and little needs to be said about him at this point. He could sleepwalk his way through the role and still nail it. Stark takes on more of a hands-off mentor role for Peter in this film which is an interesting extension of their relationship from ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and isn’t nearly in this movie as much as the trailers and marketing suggest but does carry weight and importance when he is present.
Having avoided trailers and spoilers, a pleasant surprise is the return of Stark’s head of security: Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) after not seeing him since ‘Iron Man 3’ in 2013. He who acts more as the first point of contact for Peter in his communication with Tony and is entertaining when he is on screen. It’s good seeing him on his feet again, hopefully this not the last we have seen of Happy Hogan in MCU related films. Another major surprise is Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend Ned. He adds another layer to this story, giving Peter someone to confide in and has his fair share of comedic moments. It remains to be seen if he will be the MCU film version of Ned Leeds but regardless, it will be great to see him return in the sequel. Marisa Tomei shines as Aunt May and while far younger than classic Aunt May or even the ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ version of the character, one can see what the filmmakers were going for. There far too many other side characters, supporting characters and cameos to mention but by and large, everyone performs their parts well and brings something regardless of how big or how small their roles may be, although some side characters seem far removed from any version of their comic counterparts.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is definitely worth anyone’s time regardless of how much of a fun you are or where you sit on the movie going spectrum. You’ll get a complete Spider-Man story that doesn’t require much, if any, knowledge from any other films to be able to enjoy; although fans of Spider-Man and/or the MCU will definitely find more things to get hyped about and ponder until future movies. Children will no doubt flock to see it and this is one that can be enjoyed by the whole family. There is a mid-credits and a post-credits scene at the end for those with the patience to do so. I have no doubt this will an instant hit with South African audiences and shoot to first place on local top 10 charts. I already can’t wait to see this movie again and look for any easter eggs or references I might have missed the first time.
Comment below and let us know what you think of this movie when you see it, what you are hoping for in the 2019 sequel, if you think Spider-Man will appear in future MCU Avengers films or what you favourite Spider-Man movies/animated shows are.
Reviewed on: Cinema 3D
Available on: Cinema 2D, Cinema 3D, 4DX, IMAX 3D, Cine Prestige
Genre: Action, Adventure, Superhero
Age Rating: PG 10-12
Estimated RRP: R50 – R120
Release Date: 07 July 2017
- Best all-round movie Spidey yet
- Fun hero’s origin tale without the obligatory origin
- Strong lead and supporting cast
- Certain casting decisions of minor characters