Review: 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' rises to the occasion

·Contributor
Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) in
Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this more than once? No.

Score: 3.75/5

Secret ending: Two.

Running time: 133 minutes (~2.25 hours)

Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man in
Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”.
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a superhero action drama. It is the third film incarnation of Spider-Man and the sixteenth film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The film follows the adventures of Spider-Man after his escapades in “Captain America: Civil War”, as he is forced to adapt to a normal life after his experiences as a superhero. His personal and superhero lives become dangerously entwined when a new threat arises.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is directed by Jon Watts, who also wrote the screenplay. Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley are credited for story and screenplay, with Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers receiving screenplay credits as well. It stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man/Peter Parker), Michael Keaton (Vulture/Adrian Toomes), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan), Zendaya (Michelle), Donald Glover (Aaron Davis), Marisa Tomei (May Parker), Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man/Tony Stark), Jacob Batalon (Ned), with appearances by Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Chris Evans (Captain America/Steve Rogers). It is rated PG13.

Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in New York Harbor on the Staten Island Ferry in
Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in New York Harbor on the Staten Island Ferry in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. (Sony Pictures Releasing)

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” has the distinct honour of having one of the youngest actors to play the title role in a film, since Tom Holland was not even 21 during production. It’s distinctly aware of its status as the second reboot of Spider-Man (after Andrew Garfield replaced Toby Maguire), and hence spares us much of the exposition and origin story that we would find in other superhero films.

With a high school cast that’s all around the same age as the lead actor, it manages to, for once, convincingly portray Spider-Man’s teenage life.

Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man in
Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”.
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

Highlights

Spider-Man’s youth and eagerness

It’s inevitable that Tom Holland will be compared to previous actors that have played Spider-Man before. That being said, while Tom Holland doesn’t have the restless, twitchy energy that Garfield had, he’s both earnest and genuine in his desire to be Spider-Man.

His awe and amazement at all the things he sees (remember, he’s supposed to be only 15 in the film) gives us a hopeful, sincere protagonist that we root for all the way. Regardless of how many times he gets knocked down, physically and emotionally, he still gets back up with an admirable level of determination.

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) in
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Peter Parkers’s difficulty in transitioning

One of the key plot points is how Spider-Man has trouble going back to being just Peter Parker, especially after a grand adventure with the Avengers. This ultimately pays off since he is, after all, your “friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man”.

But when we see how his daily life has been like for the past few months since we last saw him in “Captain America: Civil War”, we truly empathise with how tough it must have been to have stood among gods, only to return to mingling with mortals.

His story arc pays off as we see our hero learning to embrace and be satisfied with what he has, rather than yearning for more.

Spider-Man grabs on to the Staten Island Ferry in a last ditch effort to save it from sinking in
Spider-Man grabs on to the Staten Island Ferry in a last ditch effort to save it from sinking in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Fun Spider-Man action

Since it has been set up that Iron Man provides Spider-Man with his suit, the movie has a lot of fun giving the title character more exotic equipment and abilities.

It also fits in with the theme of the tale, but seeing Spider-Man experiment with his costume is also an engaging way of delivering the necessary exposition about what he can do, in addition to giving some nifty action sequences.

Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man in
Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”.
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

Intersection between Spider-Man’s personal and superhero life

If there’s one expression Tom Holland seems to have mastered, it’s that “oh crap” look that he flashes every time he gets in trouble. And in accordance to his character background as a teenager, he keeps fouling up both “professionally” and personally.

His life as Spider-Man also gets in the way of his teenage life so much that we can’t help but feel sorry for him every time he has to make yet another difficult choice. Thankfully, his eagerness means that he doesn’t mope around for long, so we have less manufactured angst to watch.

Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man in
Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”.
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

Letdowns

Lacks a sense of significance

Mechanically, we can see the stakes if Spider-Man fails in his objectives. However, the consequences don’t seem to carry that much weight, especially since the light-hearted tone of the film means that Spider-Man bounces back up from each setback.

Spider-Man is also characterised as being more enthusiastic than angsty, so he spends less time ruminating on what he could have done better and hence, dampens the possible results of failure.

This does fit in with the idea of the “friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man” though, so it’s likely that this was intentional, even if it’s not so desirable.

Spider-Man (Tom Holland) takes a rest while thinking in
Spider-Man (Tom Holland) takes a rest while thinking in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Finale felt lacklustre

The climax of the film was an imaginative set piece, but it felt like it was missing something. The gravitas of the situation is already absent, as mentioned previously, and the fight seems to be an obligatory battle rather than a clash of wills.

It was well-executed, visually and plot-wise, but it lacked a certain tempo to have been an exciting finale.

Spider-Man (Tom Holland) works to stop the elevator from falling in
Spider-Man (Tom Holland) works to stop the elevator from falling in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. (Sony Pictures Releasing)

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” rises to the occasion as an excellent superhero film that fits perfectly within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while still giving a new spin on Spider-Man.

What it does best is to capture the youthful energy that a teenage Peter Parker and friends would have, while still giving equal importance to the other aspects of Spider-Man’s life. It’s not so much a homecoming, as it is a fresh new start.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” opens in cinemas:
– 6 July, 2017 (Singapore)
– 6 July, 2017 (Malaysia)
– 6 July, 2017 (Philippines)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for “Police & Thief”, “Incredible Tales”, “Crimewatch”, and “Point of Entry”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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