At this point it might sound clichéd to hear, but I grew up with Spider-Man: its comic books were the only ones I consistently bought for 6 years straight, I played almost every video game incarnation, and, most importantly, I loved watching the Sam Raimi trilogy. Even though Spider-Man 3 is widely hated, I still enjoy that movie quite a lot, and the other two films are so great in creating a world full of life and colorful characters, mostly thanks to the accomplished vision of the director. After the failure of the third film, Sony rebooted the franchise with Andrew Garfield as the titular hero and Marc Webb on the director’s chair: even though I am yet to see both Amazing Spider-Man movies, their reception was far from enthusiastic. Now, Spidey is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he is played by an actual teenager, and everyone is loving it.
Directed by Jon Watts, the 16th entry in the MCU (after an introduction to our main villain) picks up right after the events of Captain America: Civil War: Spider-Man has fought alongside Iron Man and the other Avengers, and he is now trying to become a true member of the team by making an impression on Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). However, he is also Peter Parker (Tom Holland), and he must still attend high school and deal with adolescent problems and immaturity. Meanwhile, blue-collar worker Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is stealing Chitauri technology to create and sell advanced weapons to get back at Stark.
The cast and crew have admitted that, with this movie, they were trying to recreate and homage John Hughes’ coming-of-age films, such as The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Sixteen Candles, focusing more on Peter’s high school drama than the other movies ever did. Those scenes can be quiet enjoyable, especially whenever Peter is spending some time with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon): the friendship between the two actors is palpable and transcends the screen, leading to some of the most genuinely funny moments of the film. The other schoolmates are kinda there and are not present enough to leave a lasting impression: Zendaya plays a smart loner who is going to play a bigger role in the future; Tony Revolori plays the bully Flash, however he is more of a nerdy douche rather than the jock he was in the comics; Laura Harrier as Liz, Peter’s love interest, is as bland as you might imagine, with barely any personality. I was disappointed in the short amount of screen time that Marisa Tomei’s aunt May received, but I was satisfied in how well utilized Tony Stark’s character was.
The true stars of the movie are Tom Holland and Michael Keaton. Holland is the definitive Spider-Man/Peter Parker, in the sense that he is the closest to the comic book character: he is a bit messy, very young and immature, always quipping and trying to prove himself and help those in need. It is a solid performance, but it lacks the emotional punch that Tobey Maguire’s character did. Michael Keaton steals every scene he is in as the Vulture: menacing, charming, for once you actually understand the villain’s motivations and he is not trying to conquer/destroy the world/universe, and there is a solid twist with his character that made the entire audience both laugh and whimper.
The issues that I have with this film are the same I have with most other Marvel movies: it is played way too safe, and it lacks a true artistic vision. Every action scene (for that matter, every scene in the movie) is shot in a very standard, borderline TV show way, lacking the kinetic energy and camerawork of Raimi, delivering instead underwhelming action. By trying to stay close to a Hughes movie, you never feel the personal vision of the director, falling in line with other MCU films for just being bland same-old-same-old superhero extravaganzas. The lack of a memorable score is also present, but we can all agree that it will be very hard to top the perfect soundtrack by Danny Elfman. While some of the jokes landed, many others just fell kinda flat, and (excluding one scene) that aren’t that many surprises storywise.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is as simple as it gets: likeable characters that aren’t fully fleshed out, run-of-the-mill action and jokes, couple decent moments in an underwhelming film, and one of the few memorable MCU villains. Just like with the rest of Marvel’s superhero movies, this is well made, but it lacks any sort of impact or risk that made the other Raimi movies so beloved. But hey, pretty much everyone else in the theater loved it, so who am I to judge? Have I simply become a negative Nancy with superhero movies?
Visual Effects: 7.5
Violence & Gore: 7
Sex & Nudity: 3
Drugs & Profanity: 3
Intensity & Horror: 4