SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (USA/12A/133mins)
Directed by Jon Watts. Starring Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Zendaya.
THE PLOT: Just after the events of ‘Captain America: Civil War’, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) finds himself at a loose end. Parker believed he would be called up to join missions with the Avengers, but when this does not happen, he finds himself chasing down an illegal arms trader who seems to be selling weapons made from Chitauri technology. Of course, since Parker is just 15, things don’t always go according to his plan and turning his back on mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), puts Parker even more directly in the path of the villain known as Vulture (Michael Keaton).
THE VERDICT: This new incarnation of the web-slinging superhero – this time out, played by Tom Holland – is the third version of the character to grace the big screen in the past 15 years, after Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield had their turns. The good news is that ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is not the superhero origins story we have already seen twice on screen in 10 years, but a new tale about the rookie superhero that is lighthearted, but somehow manages to be not quite as much fun as the big screen Spideys that have gone before.
Tom Holland leads the cast as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and makes the character less of an outcast than we have seen before, while also making Parker charming, witty and plucky, even if he does not always think his plans all the way through. Michael Keaton takes on the role of Adrian Toomes / Vulture and obviously has a lot of fun playing the bad guy; hamming it up at every opportunity. Also in the cast are Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark – mentor to the young Parker – Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Tony Revolori and Donald Glover, whose presence appears to be a nod to the fan-fuelled rumours that he was to take over the role in 2012.
Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers screenplay does, at times, feel as though there were a lot of hands holding pens during the writing of the film, and although there is fun to be had with the film, there are times when ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ does feel rather laboured and drawn out. On the other hand, it is great to see a Spider-Man story on the big screen that does not feel familiar, that plays with the morality of being a hero and the difficulty of being a kid with super powers in a world that has already accepted the adult crime fighters. There are surprisingly few laughs throughout ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ – with what few there are to be had coming from Michael Keaton – and although the web slinging scenes are fun, the fight scenes go on just that little too long.
As director Jon Watts tries his best to create a balance with the rookie superhero and the adventure sequences in the film, and there are times when he succeeds at this. There are others, however, when the pacing of the film struggles and all the web sliging in the world doesn’t seem to be able to kick start it again. As well as this, the final sequence in the film is rather less than climactic, although Spider-Man’s morals come into play again when he is faced with a tough choice, and this is an interesting turn for the character. The cast work well together, particularly Holland, Keaton and Jacob Batalon, who plays Parker’s school friend Ned, but at this point, the shine has well and truly gone off Spider-Man as an on-screen presence, and it would perhaps have been wiser to allow him to be a supporting character in the Avengers films for a while, before giving him his marquee status again.
In all, there is fun to be had with ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, and audiences can breathe a sigh of relief that this is not another Spidey origins tale, but there is some of the magic missing when it comes to this big screen outing of your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man that not even Michael Keaton hamming it up can replace.
RATING: 3.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    Now as old as Peter Parker himself, the Spider-Man cinematic franchise has undergone further changes. The web-slinging teen superhero has been cast a third time and rebooted a second time. One could form the view that the franchise is desperate to keep going by re-inventing itself. If the re-invention serves a very specific and meaningful purpose, then it has the potential to work and justify itself. Which indeed it does with Spider-Man: Homecoming.

    After the divisive events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter AKA Spider-Man (Tom Holland) has been taken under the wing of his mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Tony sees potential in the kid, but he’s still a bit rough around the edges and seeks out danger on his own. Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is completely unaware of this. His superhero activities draw the attention of Adrian (Michael Keaton), a former contractor on the clean-up operation in New York after the events of Avengers: Assemble. He’s got a bone to pick with the Government and has held on to some advanced alien technology. Weaponising that technology, he sells it on the black market. He’s also built his own winged suit, The Vulture…

    Spider-Man: Homecoming is a double-edged title. While it may outwardly refer to Peter’s high school dance, it also refers to the character returning home to the Marvel fold and becoming part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After four previous films, Sony ceded the rights to the character back to Marvel but have stayed on as distributor. By doing so, new blood has been pumped into Spider-Man’s veins, revitalising the character and giving him more to do. Not that there was anything majorly wrong with the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield incarnations. It’s just that Homecoming puts Spider-Man in a more natural environment where he can grow in time as an adult and as a superhero.

    That youthful vigour is a major plus point. Maguire and Garfield were already more than a decade too old when cast as Peter. 21-year-old Holland, most memorably seen in The Impossible, brings a dash of boundless optimism and uncynical teen spirit as Peter. What was only hinted at in Civil War is now brought to the fore. Director Jon Watts plays this off very well against both Downey Jr. and Keaton’s world-weary characters. Keaton brings some real meat to his character too, feeding off Adrian’s inner anger and giving him his own particular agenda which is almost justifiable. Like any great Spider-Man villain, he has a human side too. There’s also a rather wry observation that Keaton’s playing a very different Birdman this time around.

    Watts stages some breathtaking action set-pieces, from a wonky Washington Monument elevator to a stricken Staten Island ferry. Even with all that action, he finds time for the quieter character moments that balance out the action. There’s a stand-out scene involving a car journey which… Well, that would be telling. Homecoming clearly bears all the hallmarks of a Marvel film, rather than just their name. In a sense, it’s what the franchise was crying out for back in 2012 but Sony pushed ahead with a different reboot instead. The franchise is now set on an exciting new course which feels fresh and relevant. Welcome home, Spidey. ****

  • Martin

    When I heard they where rebooting Spiderman yet again I thought hasn’t this just been done to death but in Spiderman homecoming it comes across new and refreshing. With brilliant special effects that we now expect from every marvel movie this is right up there with the best of the marvel movies of recent times. This franchise is now finally doing itself justice and with a fitting lead to boot. The actors here do a great job even between action sequences we still get some very solid performances . This is a must see on the big screen. Go see it and have a ball.

  • emerb

    “Spider man: Homecoming” is a welcome, refreshing and remarkably entertaining first solo adventure for Tom Holland (of Billy Elliott fame) as the bright and breezy teenage superhero with a wall-crawling alter ego who prefers to look out for the locals in his neighbourhood than take on alien invasions or globe-smashing supervillains.

    Peter Parker (Holland) returns to mundane New York after his airport tussle with the Avengers in last year’s “Captain America: Civil War” where he craves excitement and a new challenge. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has kitted him out with a new suit and recruited him as a superhero but Peter can’t get his Stark-appointed handler, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), to return his calls. So he must return to his mundane home life with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) who is completely oblivious to his rather unusual extra- curricular activities. The halls of
    Midtown School of Science & Technology are a major anti-climax and he finds himself forced to settle down to “normal” school life where he is regularly picked on by academic rival Flash (Tony Revolori) and pines for his unrequited crush, Liz (Laura Harrier). This is exactly where Stark wants him to stay, for now, as a friendly neighbourhood Spiderman. But Peter wants more power and responsibility and finally gets his chance when he comes by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a.k.a The Vulture. Toomes is a blue-collar engineer who also has a strong entrepreneurial sideline in stolen government-grade experiments and manages a potentially very dangerous business in arms. Spiderman ignores the advice of Stark, disarms the training-wheels protocol that keep his suit’s maximum capacities in check and goes rogue to fight the Vulture and his henchmen.

    Holland is spot on. Not only does he look the part of a 15 year old, he’s got just the right blend of goofy, vulnerability, charisma and wit. In fact, the success of the film is in no small part due to him being the best screen Spider-Man so far. Nimble and quick, good-intentioned and excited, he’s immediately endearing from the first moment we see him shooting a video diary of the airport fight
    from “Captain America: Civil War” on his phone. Despite his cockiness, he’s easily distracted and has a lot to learn but he’s got a perfect foil in the form of his computer-savvy best friend and aspiring sidekick Ned (Jacob Batalon) – the familiar chubby sidekick who provides a number of laughs. Members of the extended Marvel family pop up in several cameos which don’t interfere with the film and it helps that Holland blends seamlessly alongside Downey, Jr. and Favreau. It’s so hard to get it right with the villain but here, with arms dealer, The Vulture (an effectively menacing Keaton), we have a relatable and definitive enemy with his own reasons for pursuing crime. The only problem is that he wants to sacrifice innocent lives to achieve his goals and that doesn’t sit well with Peter.

    Director Jon Watts’ film undoubtedly succeeds by making this film that knows how to have fun and doesn’t get too caught up in the drama. He has got the balance just right and after a number of misfires, Marvel seems to be firmly back in the game. For me, this is easily Spider-man’s best movie appearance to date. It’s light, it’s humorous, it’s loose, there are a number of thrilling set pieces (including a rescue at the Washington Monument and a fight on the Staten Island Ferry), one particularly shocking twist and a tense and explosive large-scale finale in Coney Island. What’s not to like?! I’m all set for the inevitable sequel and hopefully the return of Tom Holland as our suited superhero.