Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei
Initial Thoughts: I’m definitely glad I skipped the theater for this one. It’s a fine enough film but, for me personally, not worth the California ticket price. I felt fine enough spending the $1.50 to rent it from RedBox.
**Spoilers below! Come back after you’ve seen this film!**
I guess I should start things off by mentioning that I’m not really into Super Hero/Comic Book movies. There are a few that I like—Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1, Deadpool, and Logan for example—but they’re just not my jam. I think it’s the mountains of back story/necessary exposition (and I’m not fond of the comic book format). I probably would’ve skipped this entirely but I’d heard good things about the movie in general, about Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker, and I had a BOGO coupon for Redbox rentals so… I gave it a shot.
It’s probably likely that you’re familiar with Spider Man’s general backstory, but here’s the synopsis for this particular movie:
Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark, Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ feels a little clunky in it’s set up. It’s made obvious that this version of Peter Parker (played previously by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) made his appearance in Captain America: Civil War’ by referencing footage from said movie (and even some we didn’t get to see, as filmed by Peter himself via smartphone) but the plot starts after the infamous spider bite and pretty much completely bypasses the Uncle Ben tragedy; I had to pause during my viewing and ask BP if there was a previous film I had missed, that’s how clunky it felt. In other reviews, this omission was praised but for someone who occasionally drops in for a movie, I felt a bit lost (even though I know Peter’s origin story).
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ also feels like two films that never quite meet up in the middle which is not all that surprising given the fact that it had six writers working on the screenplay. A plot exploring class warfare (basically The Vulture’s entire motivation) runs alongside the coming-of-age dramedy of Peter’s story yet neither feels quite satisfying to stand alone, even if Michael Keaton’s performance stole the dang show.
I’m not terribly familiar with Jon Watts’ work, though I did see ‘Clown’ a while ago but only because I love a good scare and it had one of my favorite Director’s name attached to the project (even though how all that went down is dubious at best). I do have ‘Cop Car’ on my To-Be-Watched list though. I think Jon Watts did do a really good job trying to honor Peter’s story in a post-Captain-America-Civil-War landscape; though sometimes the humor seemed a bit ham-fisted and Peter walked a tight line between nerd and total dweeb in moments. The real star on the production side of things was Salvatore Totino; SMHC is gorgeous, a word I don’t find myself using with a lot of action-type-movies. There is an undeniable sharpness to the cinematography.
Before we get to Michael Keaton, whose performance nearly outshone the lead, let’s talk about the rest of the cast. I think Holland actually does a decent job portraying Peter and actually looks almost young enough to play a high-schooler, being a rather small and fresh-faced twenty-one-year-old. He is a bit whiny at times, and like I said earlier, walks the fine line between nerd and dweeb, but all in all, I do enjoy him as Peter. RDJr pops in as Stark to mentor Peter but more-or-less plays the same megalomaniac who slips into Drunk Uncle territory. And then we’re bombarded with constant reminders of how hot Aunt May is every time poor Marisa Tomei graces the screen which is definitely a waste of her talents. [Side Note, Marisa Tomei is definitely a fox but I do feel a sense of perplexity at the overwhelming and fervent opinion that she is other-worldly-hot. It seems that that opinion is a common one but I don’t get it…? Again, not saying she’s not a fox, but it did seem like an injustice to limit her character to just being the hot cougar fantasy?] Other wasted talents in the film were definitely Hannibal Buress, Martin Starr, and Donald Glover who all did great jobs as we’ve come to expect but all felt under utilized for sure. [Additional Side Note, even though I think he may have aged out for the teenage portrayal of Spider-Man, I am all in for a later-down-the-line portrayal casting Donald Glover as Spider-Man. Please. Give me this film, Hollywood.]
My favorite of this film is Michael Keaton. He’s almost too good a villain for this film. He is a hard-working man, trying his best to stay ahead and provide for his family, an increasingly difficult task after having been taken off the clean-up crew to repair damage to the city (courtesy of Avenger shenanigans). It’s easy to sympathize with The Vulture, even despite vaporizing one of his annoying minions; he loves his family so much that he’s willing to do whatever it takes. The scene opening the third act, with both Peter and Toomes/The Vulture in the car on the way to prom, in which Toomes discovers the real identity of Spider-Man had me squirming; Watts is credited for his command of tension and it was most obvious in this scene and I felt, as a viewer, that the third act was where everyone was hitting their stride. Unfortunately the final showdown between The Vulture and Peter Parker finds Peter without his fancy Stark-created suit and so the eventual take-down is nearly unfathomable and I definitely felt like it was a stroke of luck and not Peter’s prowess as a crime-fighter that led him to victory.
Final Thoughts – This was a ‘fine enough’ film but was really as enjoyable as it is forgettable.