Sunday, August 6, 2017

Movie Review: Spider-man Homecoming (2017)

Hot take: Tobey Maguire is the best Spider-man. That (correct) opinion does nothing to detract from the long list of things that Spider-man Homecoming gets right, including the villain, music, cameos, humor, and most importantly, the portrayal of Peter Parker.

Like Ant-man, this latest entry into Marvel's increasingly enormous cinematic universe stays well within the protagonist's home turf. All the action takes place in New York, as Spider-man stumbles into a group manufacturing and selling alien-based weapons, a group led by the Vulture (Michael Keaton).

As noted above, probably the main strength of the film is how Peter (Tom Holland) is so consistent as a character. He's a high school kid who is so pumped about possibly becoming an Avenger that he lets his promising academic career slide. His budding social life also becomes compromised by his commitment to "being there for the small guy." He's a good kid, and a smart kid, and he will always do what's right in spite of the consequences to himself. It's never explicitly stated, but Peter is an eager beaver because his credo is, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Meanwhile, his antagonist, the Vulture, is fearsome to look at and equally determined, for the opposite reasons. His motivation stems from powerful people taking things from him -- if he had made different choices, he might have been one of the "little guys" that Spider-man would save. Instead, he and his henchmen provide Spider-man with his first real challenge since the superhero brawl back in Avengers Civil War. Keaton's performance adds a bit of gravitas to a film that mostly focuses on the breathless antics of its young hero, and he's menacing without being over the top.

The writing is very much geared toward general audiences. There are plenty of light moments in Spider-man Homecoming, coming from so many different sources: Peter himself, Ned, (Jacob Batalon), MJ (Zendaya), Stan Lee, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Tony Stark (Iron Man), Coach Wilson (Hannibal Buress), and even a small-time criminal played by Donald Glover. Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) gets the last laugh in the theater with her final line. (If you stayed through all the credits, someone else gets another laugh.)

As for the music, the movie opens with a fun rendition of the Spider-man theme, and the rest of the tracks are suitably epic. There's a lot of love for this movie's soundtrack, as evidenced by overwhelmingly positive comments on YouTube (!).

Overall, Spider-man Homecoming is a thoroughly enjoyable summer movie with a hero you can't help but root for and a satisfying ending that ties up a loose end from a previous Marvel movie.

TL;DR: Instant blockbuster, just add Michael Keaton!


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