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