Saturday, July 15, 2017

Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action, laughs, good story
Cons: Long prologue, characters could be stronger
The Bottom Line:
New take on hero
Spider-Man in Marvel world
Filled with action, fun

Spider-Man Finally Comes Home to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

As any comic book movie geek knows, rights issues have kept a few of Marvel’s characters from joining the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Fortunately, Marvel and Sony worked out a deal so that Spider-Man could be included.  That leads us to another reboot of the character in Spider-Man Homecoming.  While I wasn’t sure we needed a reboot, the result is fun.

We’ve already met this version of Spider-Man in the third Captain America movie.  And that’s something that this movie absolutely gets right.  It assumes we already know how Peter Parker got the abilities that turned him into Spider-Man and the rest of his backstory.  If it didn’t, this would be the third time we saw this on film in 15 years.  Honestly, I did think the prologue with bits and pieces from his time in the Captain America movie went on too long, but that’s a relatively minor issue.

The main action picks up two months later as we meet Peter Parker (Tom Holland) on a typical day.  Unfortunately, he’s stuck in school when he really wants to be out fighting the bad guys.  However, Happy (Jon Favreau), his contact with Stark Industries, won’t return his calls.  And so he’s left to suffer through high school where this 15-year-old is a geek at a school for academic genius.  As soon as school lets out, he hits the streets trying to stop crime as Spider-Man while waiting for his next mission with the Avengers.

When one attempt doesn’t turn out as planned, Peter’s attention is drawn to the weapons the thieves were using.  Something is different about them.  When he winds up with a piece of the technology, he and his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), try to figure out what it is.  What has he stumbled into?

When I mentioned earlier that this was part of the larger Marvel universe, I meant it.  There’s an initial prologue set after the first Avengers movie that actually really helps set everything up.  Plus Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) is a main character and there are some very fun Public Service Announcements from Captain America as played by Chris Evans.  No, you don’t have to be up on all the movies to fully understand everything, however.

I heard such raves about this film that I went in with high expectations.  Maybe they were a little too high.  Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoyed the film.  I just felt like it didn’t quite rise to the level of the best superhero movies.  It’s funny, but I’ve been trying to put my finger on exactly why.  The story is absolutely wonderful.  Yes, it’s a superhero plot, but it is fun.  The way they tie this into the larger Marvel world is great, too.

I think my problem lies with the characters.  We are introduced to quite a few of them, which means we don’t get enough time to really know them.  That kept me from fully engaging in the film.  Peter Parker is the obvious exception since this is his film.  His story here was a bit obvious, but that’s not to say it wasn’t good.

And this isn’t a slam on the actors at all.  Everyone is outstanding, which isn’t a surprise since, in addition to the stars I’ve already named, we get the likes of Michael Keaton and Marisa Tomei in the film.  It’s just a factor of the amount of screen time they get.

If you are looking for fun, this movie certainly delivers.  While Spider-Man isn’t his quippy best here, we get some good laughs as a teenager attempts to survive high school and save the world.  I certainly laughed several times.

And there is enough action to keep everyone happy; I was on the edge of my seat during these sequences.  This movie really played into my fear of heights, which helped with that.

Do I even need to mention the special effects?  It’s really no surprise that they were good.

And this is a Marvel movie in another key way.  You definitely want to sit through all of the credits.  Trust me on this.

Spider-Man Homecoming isn’t my favorite film with the character, but it is highly entertaining and will certainly keep comic book and action fans happy.  It’s nice to have this character where he belongs.

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