*NOTE: Before I start this review, I would like to thank Novo Cinemas for inviting me to the premiere of this film.*
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the perfect Spider-Man film. There is simply no two ways about it.
It is a film that understands who Spider-Man as a character is and explores what makes him tick with millions around the world so much.
It is also the first Spider-Man film where Peter Parker (Spider-Man’s alter ego for those living in a cave for the past forty years) is a 15-year old kid in high school, and with it, we see his adolescent sense of exhilaration every time he dons the red-and-blue spandex to go fight crime.
Having met this iteration of Spider-Man in last year’s Captain America: Civil War (played by Tom Holland), Homecoming makes the wise decision of not going through Spidey’s backstory all over again. Instead, it dwells upon Peter Parker’s growing pains as he tries his best to actually BE Spider-Man and in the process, impress his mentor Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man, for those of you still stuck in that cave) and be accepted as an Avenger.
Where should I even begin with this film?
I loved it from beginning to end. For starters, the film is much smaller in scale than ANY Spider-Man movie till date. It is also a relatively realistic look at what a high-school kid with superpowers would do – the things he does right AND the things he does wrong. Ironically, grounding the film in realism makes the overall movie even more entertaining and answers many of the logical issues people may have had with Spider-Man and his powers in previous films (For example – What does Spider-Man do when there is no building high enough to swing from? The answer to that, while fairly obvious, is one I’ll leave you to find for yourself).
This is a film where, rather than saving the world, the biggest problem Spider-Man faces is that he has to stop a villain but doing so would make him miss his school homecoming dance.
Apprehensive as I was going into the movie, as soon as the first act of the film ended, I rested easy, as it was plain to see that director Jon Watts and Marvel Studios clearly loved and respected the character as much as the most hardcore of Spidey fans out there and knew what they were doing. The film was light-hearted, yet intense when it needed to be and moved at a snappy pace which ensured that you were always engaged while also bringing forward a bunch of surprises that I for one, did not see coming. I can’t go into specifics because simply put, I want you to be as surprised as I was during the film.
In a movie for which I have nothing but praise for, casting Tom Holland as Spider-Man is yet another, if not the biggest reason. While Tobey Maguire before him captured the Peter Parker persona perfectly and Andrew Garfield captured the Spider-Man identity relatively well, Tom Holland is the best of both worlds. His Peter Parker is intelligent and caring while his Spider-Man is fittingly quippy and quite literally earns the moniker of ‘Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man’. Ned Leeds, Peter Parker’s best friend in the film is a stand-out as well, played to humorous effect by newcomer Jacob Batalon.
However, one character aside from our hero that truly blew me away in the film was Michael Keaton as The Vulture. Perhaps the best villain to come out of the MCU so far, The Vulture has a depth to him that very few supervillains in comic-book movies possess. (Again, can’t go into this too much without giving away spoilers) Suffice to say, his character is menacing when he needs to be but has other sides to him that Michael Keaton plays to perfection, being the pro that he is. In fact, we can at certain moments, completely understand, if not condone, why he’s doing what he does. And that, to me, is a sign of a great villain (Also, he holds the unique distinction of playing three winged characters in cinema – Batman, Birdman and now, the Vulture)
The action sequences, while small-scale, are very inventive and not just a bunch of the usual fisticuffs. We see Spidey actually analyze his opponents before he engages them. We also see him make a genuine effort NOT to kill them (Something that the cinematic version of another red-and-blue clad superhero could do well to learn from)
Brilliant as they are, even more than the action sequences, it is the multitude of small, almost vignette-like moments that the film presents where we see Spider-Man just doing his thing that stands out. These moments, while seemingly minor, go a long way in making you actually care about the character. That being said, there is an action sequence on a ferry that is downright spectacular (To borrow one of Spidey’s own adjectives)
Peter Parker’s relationship with Iron Man in this film is also perfect, with the ever-reliable Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland playing off each other so well. And while Iron Man never overstays his welcome, he never feels like a last-minute, rushed addition as well. Instead, his part in the overall plot feels almost essential to the character development of Spidey without feeling too intrusive.
The final thing I have to say about the movie is the drama. There are certain scenes that when it hits, hits hard. Especially if you love Spider-Man as a character. Without going into spoilers, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
I just can’t put into words just how good a job Jon Watts and Marvel Studios did in finally doing Spider-Man justice since 2004’s Spider-Man 2.
Spider-Man well and truly is home.
Now, excuse me while I go and rewatch this film another 10 times. (Oh, and sit through the credits. There are 2 end-credits scenes. Both are worth it, ESPECIALLY the final one)