BY ELMER PONCE-CASTRO
We live in a world where comic books movies don’t have a singular superhero running the show anymore. The sense of awe from both the civilians in the films and we, the audience, just isn’t there anymore since almost every character is these shared universe films has a gift of their own. The original Raimi films came in a time where we had never seen anything like this before. Spider-Man himself was so special in his world and this idea was carried throughout the Webb films as well. Spider-Man: Homecoming, the newest collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, unfortunately may have taken this away from our favorite web slinger.
The film takes place about 8 years after the events of the Battle of New York (and a few months after Civil War) and we follow Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he tries to keep up in life, impress his dream girl, Liz (Laura Harrier) and desperately prove himself to Tony Stark. His mission for approval from his billionaire playboy idol takes a turn as he discovers that the Vulture (Michael Keaton) is actually behind all the robberies happening throughout the city.
Tom Holland is great in the role of Spider-Man. He was filled with so much energy and it really shows on screen. While I do think his performance is fantastic, this Spider-Man was a little bit too careless for me to 100% be on his side the entire film. Now, I understand that in this film he’s just a kid that is just trying to do the right thing but sometimes the decisions he makes were just way too silly to even take seriously, even for his age. However, there is a great scene where Tony explains to Peter the weight of every life that is at stake when it comes to doing these heroic acts that actually really helps set the character of Spider-Man in the right direction. The action and Spidey’s signature web slinging, while very solid and shot well, is not as thrilling or as memorable as Raimi or even Webb’s. What the film does just as good as Raimi’s initial films is the development of its main antagonist. It can very much be my favorite aspect of this film. Vulture was always one of those B-list Spider-Man villains that I never really cared for. However, Michael Keaton brought extra dimension and ferocity to the role. He was terrifying when needed to be but quite sympathetic, you clearly understand why he’s doing what he’s doing and you see the fear and inner conflict Peter faces as he’s facing him later on in the film.
The film’s cinematography is just as lazy as most of Marvel’s other features but the use of reds and blue colors was rather impressive. Michael Giacchino’s score is as delightful, peculiar, and very exciting as you might expect. The issue is director Watts didn’t know how use it to enhance his scenes. He does, however, know how to have a blast with Tony and Happy. The duo of Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau shines just as bright as ever. Their chemistry with Holland is also absolutely terrific. Unfortunately, the rest of the supporting isn’t even close to being as salient. Jacob Baloton as Peter’s friend Ned isn’t anything remarkable, he’s just there to throw quips and for Peter to relying on. In the comics and obviously in the previous films, we have seen Peter struggle with the limited amount of resources that he has. For most of this movie, he’s way too reliant on others whether it’s Ned or Stark (when he actually gets a hold of him) which kind of kills what makes the character so relatable. Liz, played by the beautiful Laura Harrier, had great chemistry with Holland but ultimately was a wasted plot device. Zendeya’s character of Michelle was hilarious & stood out the most but barely had any screen time and Tony Revolri’s Flash is completely useless to the plot.
Ever since the announcement of the film, we were told on how the film would have a very John Hughes vibe and it’s very present throughout the first half of the film. The only problem is director Jon Watts didn’t balance this vibe very well. The film itself does offer it’s big share of laughs. Unfortunately when it doesn’t, we’re forced to listen to Flash refer to Peter as “Penis Parker” (not necessarily a bad joke but it just doesn’t fit in this film at all) and Ned, Peter’s best friend, tell a teacher that he’s watching porn in order to not get caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to. The film’s tone isn’t as mishandled as in The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s but that’s still nothing to necessarily be too proud about.
For a film with six writers and two different production companies behind it, the story is very straight forward, easy to follow and never really gets convoluted. Aside from the various necessary MCU references/Easter eggs, this film does a fine job at standing on its own. I was actually surprised at the very little, but efficient amount of screen time the character of Tony had. If Marvel Studios and Sony can keep this up, then this is a very good sign for the future of the working relationship between these two companies. The film’s third act is absolutely terrific. It’s on the edge of your seat good. The chemistry and back and forth between Holland and Keaton works just as well as Robert Downey Jr and Jeff Bridges’ in the original Iron Man. There’s also plenty of Easter eggs to not just the MCU but the Spiderverse as a whole that are placed in very carefully for the audience to spot.
Spider-Man: Homecoming struggles to make it to the finish line, but its strong finish makes the experience rewarding and well worth giving it at least a shot. It’s tons of fun and there never is a truly dull moment. The film opens up a lot of interesting narrative possibilities for the future so as long as they bring on a more experienced director on board, consider me stoked!