Spiderman: Homecoming

UK Release Date 5th July 2017
Director Jon Watts
Runtime 2hr 13 mins
Certificate 12A
Reviewer Jo
Reviewed Too late after release

I will admit to being a little confused by Spiderman. There have been a helluva lot of movies in the last ten years and I also must admit to not having seen the last two having finally been bored to death by Tobey Maguire. This is by no means a reflection on Andrew Garfield, whom I adore and am sure is wonderful in the role. No. It is merely that personally this franchise had lost its allure; in fact it had lost the point.  What could possibly be the point of another Spiderman movie telling the same damn story again. It was with this positive mind-set I walked into a low rent cinema on Canvey Island with my (just) 7 year old. Expectations were low, as were the prices in this cinema lost in time. Two hours and 13 minutes later I have to admit I had just had a great time at the cinema. Fresh, funny (yes actually funny) and WITH AN ACTUAL PLOT, Spiderman: Homecoming more than makes the grade (insert some other naff exam pun here) and it’s in no small part to the youthful and charming Tom Holland and the smart, bold direction of Jon Watt.

So if here you are expecting some kind of synopsis where your reviewer understands/cares about the Avengers world and/or the last two Spiderman films then stop reading and perhaps head over to one of those website run by manboys living with their parents (you know who you are). I have no idea about the back story leading to Spiderman: Homecoming, suffice to say our Peter Parker has had a toe dipped in the Avengers waters and now, safely deposited back to being a ‘neighbourhood Spidey’ by Tony Stark (albeit it with a shiny new suit) is feeling cheated. Infused with teenage bravado, boredom and barefaced cheek Peter’s web-fuelled antics become bolder until he actually stumbles across something both exciting and dangerous in the shape of Michael Keaton’s scrap man turned embittered psycho. Here Peter thinks he can play out the hero he believes he already is, without realising the long way he has to fall to be able to claim the role.

Perhaps the success of Spiderman: Homecoming owes something to the fact that it doesn’t have to exist too much within the confines of the Marvel Universe, it can use it in the most fun ways but have a standalone story independent of all of the Marvel trappings. Robert Downey Jnr as Tony Stark appears for perhaps 6 minutes or so in total but is used marvellously and the rest of the cameos are there to tease rather than promote. Even its villain, brilliantly played by Michael Keaton, is not a ludicrous prospect but a working class man, whose livelihood is almost destroyed by the arrogance of the Avengers and who seeks revenge in the most mercenary of fashions.

To talk about Spiderman: Homecoming one must surely begin with Tom Holland, on whose young shoulders the success of the reboot of this tired franchise rests. The magic trick that Holland pulls off is that he manages to be cocky enough to believe he can be his alter ego whilst retaining boyish charm and keeping it all youthful. That is the keyword with this film, finally Spiderman feels and looks like a teenager. Holland is 23 but really does look young, he is also a trained dancer and it shows. Spidey is the most lithe and acrobatic of superheroes so it makes perfect sense to have a dancer as opposed to a movie star who preferred to play PlayStation with his trainer rather than train (yeah we are looking at you Tobey Maguire. Allegedly of course). Holland is so damn likeable and fresh that he keeps the whole thing feeling vital. He is well supported in his high school chums and hurrah, finally a high school that is not entirely populated by white faces and feels like a high school in New York.  Joseph Batalon plays Ned, Peter’s best pal who is constantly hilarious and becomes a real key player. The teen-pleasing style icon Zendaya has some great narky one-liners as grungy nerd Michelle and it isn’t giving the game away to suggest she’ll be back with a much bigger part next time around. I think there are lots of Avengers cameos (like the brilliant Donald Glover playing Aaron which should mean something to Spidey fans) but you’ll have to go see it yourself, as I have no idea.   I have to mention the underused Marissa Tomei who is brilliant as Aunt May and Jon Favreau is his usual Avengers self to great satisfaction.

So to Michael Keaton and what an inspired choice by Watts that was. From the moment he appears on screen in probably the best jacket worn by a villain since ermmmm Loki?? Keaton just owns this role and makes Vulture 100% understandable and believable. How often can we say about a superhero villain? And isn’t it so great that he got to use his Birdman costume again. 

Jon Watts is a little known director but he is a white man so therefore he automatically gets given MILLIONS of DOLLARS to make a film. In this case however I don’t mind as he has done a great job and also he used to direct The Onion network. Clearly Watts has a great sense of humour and is young enough to remember what is was like to be a teenager. It’s good news he is on-board for the inevitable although in this case, welcomed, sequel that was announced 11 seconds after the film was released.

In short:

An unadulterated joy of a movie, my seven year old loved it and is web spinning his way round the house, Spiderman: Homecoming is a reminder that actually these films can fun. This and Wonder Woman were both personally hugely enjoyable, if I’m not careful I’ll become a fan of these movies (don’t worry I’ll just watch Batman vs. Superman again and that’ll sort that out). Lastly Spiderman: Homecoming has the best end line, I won’t give it away, just go watch it. It’s taken five films but finally this Spidey is the homecoming king.

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