Monday, 17 July 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)


A wallcrawling success

Director: Jon Watts
Running Time: 133 Minutes
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Chernus


Considering this makes the third big screen attempt to start a Spider-Man franchise, since 2002, one would be forgiven for their scepticism. When one character gets numerous adaptations released so close to one another, it can seem rather tiresome. Thank goodness that, despite this being the sixth solo film for the wallcrawler, it manages to feel different from all that's come before it.

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is starstruck from being called in to help Iron Man. He desperately wants to prove himself in the guise of Spider-Man, to show he's ready to become a full-fledged Avenger, but finds difficulty balancing this aspect with his high-school life. In the midst of all this, a new threat emerges in Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a high-tech thief who's resorted to trafficking alien weaponry.

For a start, Jon Watts wisely skips retelling the well known origin story, Uncle Ben and all, allowing the story to jump straight into the thick of it all. What we're seeing here is a different type of web-slinger, inexperienced and new to crime-fighting in a way previous iterations skipped over with montages.

When you get to the heart of this character, he ultimately wants to do good and help everyone he can, no matter how out of his depth he actually is. He's also struggling to balance superheroics with his teenage life, often sacrificing bonding moments and fun with his peers for his superhero responsibilities. These moments allow for depth within his character, but it helps how Tom Holland is nothing but charming in the role. Of the three lead actors who've played the dual lead role, he's the best one in terms of balancing both sides of the character.

Marking his third role where he dons a suit based on a winged creature, Michael Keaton does wonderful work as Adrian Toomes, who's better known to Marvel fans as The Vulture. It's refreshing how this character acts as more of a street level antagonist, as opposed to someone whose actions are more world shattering. Keaton is a chilling presence, proving more threatening and interesting when he's out of the CG heavy suit. At the heart of it, he's a well rounded character who just wants to put food on the table for his family, while also wanting to stick it to the big industry types.

Image result for spiderman homecoming youtubeJacob Batalon proves to be the films scene stealer, in his portrayal of Ned, best friend to Peter. He becomes starstruck after discovering Peter's secret, trying his best to provide help wherever possible. Though Zendaya commands the screen whenever possible, as her dry wit is as great an inclusion as these two members of cast.

The works of John Hughes were a big influence throughout, particularly with the high school material, and this element works rather well. Viewers are granted a feel into Peter's school life in ways previous films failed to show. One party scene is a great highlight for his compelling inner turmoil, where our lead is unsure whether his crush would prefer him or his alter-ego to attend the party. Although the humour doesn't always hit the mark, there's a steady hit rate throughout. Be sure to stay until after the credits, for what is one of the films best gags.

When it comes down to the superheroics, things aren't so assured. As good as it is to see Spidey interacting with the MCU and getting up to his old webslinging tricks, much of it doesn't feel as visually assured as what previous incarnations of the character have done. One Ferry set moment especially brings Spider-Man 2 to mind, but when you get to the heart of these scenes, they're great showcases for what this version of Spidey is all about. Yes, he's trying to prove himself to Tony Stark and become a full-fledged Avenger, an ambition which clouds his mind, but he just wants to help everyone and save lives as best as he can. To paraphrase a quote from a former Spider-Man actor, with the world so set on tearing itself apart, it's not such a bad thing to see someone trying to put some of it back together.

A John Hughes film with superheroics, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a successful and emotionally engaging take on a popular character. There may lie faults within, but all involved manage to successfully capture what's so beloved about the character, while allowing enough fresh elements to justify this new reboot.

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