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Spider-Man Homecoming is the sixth, yes sixth Spider-Man film – seventh if you include that little role he had in Captain America Civil War. Spider-Man, by Sam Raimi, is a good bit of fun. It’s silly, even stupid at times, and the dialogue and special effects are pretty terrible.
But with a good story, good performances, good directing and Willem Dafoe going completely over-the-top as the villain; it’s a very enjoyable superhero film. Spider-Man 2 is the best one; it’s still pretty silly at times and a little slow in places. But it’s one of the best superhero films ever made. Spider-Man 3, despite a strong opening act and some great moments, was a major let down that crashes and burns come the ending. The Amazing Spider-Man, by Marc Webb, is a film I don’t remember at all. Well, that shows how good that was then. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 I do remember…because it’s so eye-bleedingly terrible! So, with that history…what do you expect from another Spider-Man film.
Peter Parker has mercifully skipped the Uncle Ben side of things and is now just a kid in high-school. He has geeky friends. He has bullies. He’s got a major crush on a girl from school. He has clubs to go to. Oh, and he also has the ability to climb walls, kill people with one punch and shoot webs out of his wrists. Having briefly joined the Avengers he thinks it’s just a matter of time before he can become a full-time superhero. Sadly, not many of the Avengers think that’s what’s best for him. In fact, most just see him as a kid. But when an arms dealer, known as the Vulture, armed with high-tech weaponry threatens Peter’s life and city it’s up to him to bring him down.
And all that happens in this film is just typical of a Marvel film. In that, Spider-Man Homecoming is fun and entertaining, but doesn’t leave a lasting impression at all.
It’s colourful; but visually dull. The action is on a grand scale; but it lacks the visceral nature of the Raimi films. For example, the scene when he holds a splitting boat together. It’s cool to look at, and creative in execution. But it just feels like a set-piece for an action scene. It isn’t like the train scene in Spider-Man 2, where you actually feel that he could literally tear himself apart trying to save these people. The music, again like every other Marvel film since Avengers Assemble (maybe Guardians of the Galaxy if we include the songs) is just so bland, forgettable and plain bad that I couldn’t hum a single note to you. It, of course, feels like we’re just building up to a later film yet again as well. The humour, the characters, the visuals and effects, the whole thing is just typical of Marvel.
What it does do differently is the strange choice of making this a high-school film. It weirdly feels like a mixture of the original Spider-Man trilogy and something like Mean Girls or 10 Things I Hate About You. This could very well lead itself to good comedy and commentary. But there is one problem. These are not two films types that gel well together. Peter has a pretty annoying friend who’s meant to be the clingy loser kid in those teen films. That’s fine and he does get a few decent moments in. But when they mix it with the superhero side of things, the stuff this kid does goes beyond impulsive and stupid. He constantly nearly blows Peter’s cover. How am I supposed to find that charming or funny? Especially when there’s a high-stake villain out there? Don’t get me wrong, at times it does really work. It works when it demonstrates how Peter struggles living two lives, for example. But the tone is so jarred that until Tony Stark arrives, and gives that trailer speech of “If you’re nothing without the suit then you shouldn’t have it” (replacing the “with great power” speech), I was uninvested and getting bored.
But where this film does work is in the acting and the writing. There are some good “what if” scenarios in this film. What if Spider-Man is in a suburban area? I guess he has to run then. Little moments like that work for me. Tom Holland is back as Spider-Man and it is refreshing to see Spider-Man be played by someone of the right age. Holland does manage to be the best Spider-Man we’ve received yet. He makes a perfect Peter and Spider-Man, mixing the characters comedic side and hero side. He manages to carry the film very well. The other kids are good in their roles too. Their roles are just either minimal or undefined. The friend is just too annoying for me to give a pass though. Marisa Tomei is great as a younger Aunt May. Less the advice giver and more of the parent, which does work very well. Robert Downey Jr is in this too, but not for long. It’s too long to be a cameo but it’s not a major role either.
Now here is the rare thing with Marvel. The highlight of this film is the villain! I know, it only took them since Loki! The villain is Vulture, played by the one and only Michael Keaton.
And what a good villain he is. Not only does Keaton bring his usual charisma and intensity to the role, as well as his comedy. The character is so well written. From minute one you get his situation, you understand his reasons and you oddly relate to the guy. There are action moments where he’s just the monster of the moment, but for the most part he’s easily the second best villain the MCU ever had. Most actors in this film don’t feel exclusive to their roles. They are played well, but there are others who you could see playing those roles too. Not with Holland and certainly not with Keaton. Nobody could have done better than these two in this film.
It may seem like I’m being hard on Spider-Man Homecoming, and yes, I am. I don’t think this deserves the 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, just like Wonder Woman. On that note, I’ll just say I did like this a little more than Wonder Woman. Mostly because things actually happened to shape the characters. As I said, it’s just your typical Marvel film. It falls in the middle of the listings. I didn’t dislike Spider-Man Homecoming. There are parts I’m glad I’ve seen. But it’s just another superhero film in a depressingly long line of superhero films. It’s no Logan, but if you’re still entertained by these films then you’ll get what you want out of it.