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Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Movie
Studio(s): 
Director(s): 
In Theatres: 
Jul 07, 2017
Grade:
A
Running Time: 
133 minutes

Spider-Man is quite possibly the most rebooted franchise ever.  The series began with a couple of strong entries, but every release after was weaker than its predecessor, eventually draining all the fun  from our favorite web slinger. So much so, that when this latest film was announced, the groan from my fellow good geeks could be heard all across the globe. To be blunt, Spider-Man had become the silver screen embodiment of white male privilege; mediocrity being rewarded just because it is recognizable and familiar. And in that world wide groan there were wishes to see other Marvel characters who exist at intersections to become ones that exist in cinema.

But then, they cast young Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War. Holland breathed life into a character that was covered in the dust of better days and bloated with underserved expectations. Holland was youthful, fun, and quippy. Interest from good geeks of the world was piqued.

Then came the trailer. It was not so much different from other superhero movie trailers, but complaints that it showed too much of the action and plot were prevalent. Spidey fans were concerned that Tony Stark would dominate this current incarnation. Was Marvel being confident or were they deeply insecure about the success of Homecoming? Good geeks waited with baited breath.

My good geeks, you can exhale.

I went into the theater ready to regret every moment in the cinema and I left truly full of desire for the sequel. All Spidey need, it seems, was a little Marvel Magic. The opening score sets the tone for the film to follow. Familiar, yes, but fresh, modern, multifaceted, and excellent at every angle.

Holland is an equally great Peter Parker as he is a great Spider-Man. His character doesn’t shift when dons the suit, making the divide between person and persona disappear.  What we saw in Captain America: Civil War is what we get in Homecoming.  He’s eager, a smart guy’s smart alec, sharp, and hilarious. He is flawed, young, and effervescent.

The casting of Homecoming is another spectacular strength. Peter’s best friend, Ned (portrayed by Jacob Batalon), shares almost every scene with Peter and holds his own. Yes, he is the short, round, brown side-kick who’s world revolves around Peter and Spidey, but he is so good. Loveable and more relatable than Peter, the film never puts him down or makes him the but of any joke for his super friend’s sake. He has his own ambitions and you root for him just as you would Peter.

Liz (Parker’s crush as portrayed by Laura Harrier) is super in her own right. Beyond her beauty, she is kind, she has her own life, and is the captain of the academic team. She exists outside of Peter, which more than you can say for most objects of affection.

Zendaya as Michelle is perfection. The attempts to dampen her beauty are, well, attempted. Her choices to play Michelle as sharp, wry, and aloof feel very natural. She is a certified scene stealer and I am so eager to see her character develop as the series churns on.

Michael Keaton as Vulture is fantastic. He could have easily hammed it up, but he delivers menace with such a cold and smooth humanity. He opts for facial expressions and vocal inflection (acting!) rather than wild gesticulations that villains are prone to.

Like Spidey on a webbed tightrope, Homecoming is excellent because it knows how to maintain that ever elusive skill, balance.  It is a superhero coming of age film that is character driven, combined with thrilling fight scenes and fun dialogue. Borrowing from scenes from Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man 2 to cement Holland’s Spidey in the MCU while sprinkling in just enough Tony Stark for flavor, but never to overwhelm. You’ll also notice heavy 80’s teen movie influences that (directly and indirectly) reference Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Risky Business. A gamble of a blend that pays off with interest.

Other things I liked about Homecoming:

  • The diversity in the background characters. This was not the antiseptic Girls whitewashing of New York, this was the hodgepodge of Queens. More than visible diversity in minor and major characters, the film also acknowledged POC existing in the past. In Parker’s high school there are posters on the wall that include Toni Morrison and James Baldwin. The principal is in no way a major, hardly even a minor character, but he has a photo of his grandfather in a WW2 era uniform and a display of his medals. This gives his character a past and a family just as American as anything Captain America can lay claim to.
  • Hannibal Buress
  • Donald Glover
  • Captain America and his educational videos (stay after all the credits)
  • Karen, Spidey’s Jeeves
  • There was some wonky CGI, but it did manage to smooth itself out and they actually show where Spidey’s webshooters connected to physical objects rather than just been shot off-screen.

This is the best Spider-Man film to date. Peter Parker accepts his home is where he is needed and best served. Spider-Man comes home to Queens and comes home to Marvel. Welcome back, Spidey.

Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
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