Genre: Superhero Action
Running Time: 133 mins.
Premise: Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is juggling the demands of high school with his “internship” for Stark Industries, but when he stumbles upon underground arms deals involving alien tech, it leads him to the villainous Vulture (Michael Keaton). With the Avengers focused elsewhere, it’s up to Spider-Man to take on the Vulture, but only if he can keep Aunt May from finding out and grounding him.
Behind-the-Scenes: This is the third iteration of Spider-Man in the last ten years, and the second reboot. Unlike previous films, Spider-Man: Homecoming represents an unprecedented partnership between Marvel Studios and Sony, the latter of which owned the rights to the character. That partnership led to this Spidey’s initial appearance in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, and this movie is officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”). Donald Glover makes an appearance as a small-time criminal, and a few years ago, there was a dedicated fan campaign to get him to actually play Spidey. There are six credited screenwriters, including director Jon Watts (Cop Car) and Freaks and Geeks’ Sam Weir himself (John Francis Daley). Jennifer Connelly voices Karen, the Siri-type program that controls the Tony Stark-designed Spidey suit, which is a nifty little meta nod to Connelly’s husband’s (Paul Bettany) voicing of Jarvis in the Iron Man films.
The Good: This is another home run for Marvel, and an unqualified triumph across the board. It quickly and easily overcomes any Spider-Man fatigue audiences might be suffering. The movie excels by embracing aspects of the Peter Parker character that the other movies either ignored or downplayed. By leaning into the high school aspect of the character, co-writer/director Watts is able to mine lots of thematic material, imagery, and music cues from 1980s John Hughes films, and definitely wears those influences on its sleeves. The script is clever and consistently funny – it’s certainly one of the more crowd-pleasing Marvel films to date. Tom Holland continues to impress in the title role, building upon the solid foundation he laid in Civil War. Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) is used just the right amount (despite the marketing’s best attempts to convince you otherwise), and other supporting characters like Zendaya’s Michelle and Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May make an indelible impression and leave you wanting more. Keaton’s Vulture is one of, if not THE, best baddies Marvel has ever had, and Keaton tears into the role, fleshing out an already dynamic and interestingly written character. The score by Michael Giacchino is another one of his gems, and his full orchestral version of the Spider-Man theme induces goose bumps. The movie is deeply connected to the larger MCU and rewards fans who have seen all the other movies. The final shot sets up a sequel in the most perfect (and hilarious) way possible. Stick around for the end credits (duh).
The Bad: It’s a tad long and you can feel the length, even if it never really drags. The action is competently done and satisfying enough, but not that memorable.
Should You See It?: YES. This delivered on every level. It’s the best Spidey yet, and my new favorite movie of the year (sorry, Get Out). Let’s see how long that lasts. In a year full of strong superhero movies (Logan, Guardians Vol. 2, Wonder Woman), this one takes the cake.
Star Rating: ***** out of 5 stars.
Better Than: Spider-Man 1-3, The Amazing Spider-Man 1-2, Wonder Woman
Worse Than: Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers
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