Movie Review: Spider-Man - Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Rated PG-13: For Mild Language and Violence

Running Time: 133 minutes (2 hours and 13 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Science Fiction, Superhero

Released on July 7, 2017 (US Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Columbia Pictures, Marvel Studios, Pascal Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing

"Spider-Man" Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Writers: Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley, Jon Watts & Christopher Ford, and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers

Director: Jon Watts

  • Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
  • Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes / The Vulture
  • Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
  • Zendaya as Michelle "MJ" Jones
  • Jacob Batalon as Ned
  • Marisa Tomei as May Parker
  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man

And we are back, with yet another movie review, and this one is super late!  In case you were not paying attention to some of our recent spotlight posts, me and Dad have been heavily anticipating this flick. Thanks to the great and wonderful people at the one and only Baskin-Robbins, which was coincidentally featured in another Marvel installment, Ant-Man, for letting Dad win us a screening for, what is now being called, the "best Spider-Man movie since Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2." While everyone might have cast doubts with the seemingly heavy involvement of Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man, as well as the heavy amount of villains included in the story, we are happy to report that the Marvel Cinematic Universe's lighter take on the web-head's ever popular saga is anything but lackluster! Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is our review of Spider-Man: Homecoming, our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler's third consecutive reboot!


What is the movie about?

After the famed Armored Avenger himself, Tony Stark, played by Downey Jr., personally recruited him to support his stand on the controversial Sokovia Accords, a United Nations law that seeks to gain complete oversight over all of The Avengers' activities, newly established New York-based superhero Spider-Man, the alter ego of the socially unpopular yet intellectually gifted Peter Parker, played by Holland (In The Heart of The Sea), vows to secure a membership in the superhero group.

However, after being deemed unready by his mentor, Peter makes it his quest to prove that he is more than ready to face the greater threats that the growing world of superpowers, costumes, and supervillains has to offer. Fortunately for him, opportunity knocks when the mysterious Vulture, secretly Adrian Toomes, played by Keaton (The Founder), appears with the aim of keeping his criminal operations below the public's radar.

Badly enough for Peter, he must also balance his social life with his superhero life, and he must keep his closest acquaintances, his best friend Ned, played by Batalon (North Woods), and his awkward decathlon teammate Michelle, played by Zendaya (The Greatest Showman), as well as his aunt May Parker, played by Tomei (Downey Jr. and Tomei both appeared in Chaplin), safe from harm!

What we think of the movie?

While this was still one of our most anticipated movies of 2017, as we have said in one of our own countdowns, the moment the trailers for the film rolled-in, and the really, really awful theatrical poster that was okay, but overall really bad, that we just decided not to include it here, and several news bits concerning behind-the-scenes happenings initially suggest that the movie is going to be another example of an over-hyped mess. Everything, and I mean, almost everything about the film became more and more predictable, most especially if you are just like me, constantly getting updates from several other media sources. In addition, Tony Stark's inclusion in the movie almost spelled-out that the movie is trying way too hard to tell everyone that Spidey is back home. Luckily, the movie is actually very, very fun, and even manages to be just as sporadically entertaining and worthwhile as Spider-Man 2, also known as the best Spider-Man movie ever! But do not get me wrong, it still has some minor flaws.

Let us start with the highlights of the movie, the performances. As evidenced by his extremely likable and quirky performance in Captain America: Civil War, it was clear that Tom Holland possesses both the nerdy antiques of everyone's favorite misunderstood young genius, always looking-out for people at his neighborhood, and the seemingly strong and secure, heroic side of Spider-Man. Many people still favor past iterations, such as Tobey Maguire for his phenomenal performance as Peter Parker, and Andrew Garfield's slick and wise-cracking take on the web-head, and for good reasons, but neither of them really managed to capture the true essence of the titular hero with complete balance like Holland. While we do not get to tackle the same old "Uncle Ben Guilt" conflict that defined Spider-Man, we did get to see, through Holland, an aspiring hero just trying to make the best out of his gifts, and still coming to terms with the harsh truth about responsibility.

Standing toe-to-toe against Holland's friendly neighborhood web warrior is Michael Keaton's third outing as a flying animal-themed character, The Vulture. Roaring vigorously from his recent string of Oscar worthy performances from Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and Spotlight, Keaton's knack for playing a wide variety of roles clearly made him a candidate to play a part in the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe, and as a villain based on a scavenger, Keaton could easily take over the role, and that he did! Thanks to his terrifying on-screen presence, mixed with a side of tragedy, brought on by the script, Keaton effectively made The Vulture as one of Marvel's greatest on-screen villains yet, portrayed with emotional layers that match those of a villain like Zemo from Captain America: Civil War, played by Daniel Brühl (Rush). The scene featuring Toomes threatening Peter, after the former, discovering his secret identity, showed everyone just how much of a serious threat the Vulture is, thanks of course to Keaton's traditional overambitious on-screen persona.

In his first wide-released major motion picture, Jacob Batalon manages to deliver a lot of the movies' laughs. Being Peter's fanboy-like sidekick, wing-man, and close associate, Batalon's Ned, who is totally not Ganke Lee from the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, serves a little bit more than just your average comic relief, as he also serves as Peter's moral compass, aside from Iron Man. His delivery in the part when he is quizzed by one of their teachers, Ms. Warren, played by Selenis Leyva (Orange Is The New Black) on what was he doing in front of the computer during the homecoming dance, with him saying that he is looking at pornography, when in reality he is helping Peter catch the Vulture, is just borderline hysterical. I actually laughed way harder than I should when I heard that. Simple gag, sure, but the timing was brilliant!

Marvel Cinematic Universe veteran Robert Downey Jr., who thankfully, not in an offensive manner, did not get that much screen time, still remains the living embodiment of Iron Man. We do not need to expound on that, and the same goes for Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan, who received a somewhat larger role in contrast to his previous movies, by being Peter's more or less carefree baby sitter. Marisa Tomei, even if her portrayal is almost nothing like her comicbook counterpart, is great, and like Tomei, I really wished her character could have been developed more.

Also, Zendaya's performance as Michelle, an emo-esque and socially bizarre friend of Peter's, and secretly has unrequited feelings for him, is okay at best, but her presence in the movie feels unnecessary, as her character has contributed nothing to the overall story. I hope I can see her in a much larger role, as this universe's version of M.J.? Well, this is, ahem, unexpected, but i hope it works out fine. 

And yes, I am all up for diversity and all that, because we really need much more of that in the world of movies, but making Flash Thompson, played by Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel), a prideful Guatemalan rich kid, in contrast to his American football jock persona in the comics, seems a bit odd and forced, but intriguing. Despite my comicbook reading side yearning for a much more accurate portrayal of Peter's foils in school, Revolori does manage to make a Flash Thompson for the twenty-first century viewers through his performance, and I do admire him for at least still making Flash unlikable yet appealing, as in his first appearances in the comics. Besides, I would actually want a different type of bully to be featured, unlike the "football jock" cliche that everyone is already too familiar with. I just hope that when Marvel decides to adapt Agent Venom to the big screen, Revolori could do him justice.

Spider-Man: Homecoming bravely moves away from the usual tropes done in almost every single Spider-Man-centric media, including video games and animated shows. It really is a breath of fresh air to not have OsCorp or any member of the Osborn household in the movie for once, although I really hope they show-up soon in a major appearance, most especially everyone's favorite J. Jonah Jameson, the loud-mouthed editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle.

The story of Peter Parker still being new to the superhero world, all the while trying to keep his identity a secret in order to spare his closest friends from the harsh reality that his heroic persona faces on a regular basis, is interesting. While it was the unforgettable death of his Uncle Ben that shaped to become the hero that he is now, it seems that Uncle Ben has only made a partial influence in Peter's journey to heroism, and it is his eagerness to prove himself is what motivates him the most here. At least we get to see that Peter is still trying to truly comprehend the concepts of "great power" and "great responsibility." I would be furious if they omitted that part here, because those words are very essential to the character, and without those, this character is not Spider-Man anymore. Also, there really is no need for Uncle Ben to die again on-screen.

The movie also continues Marvel's current use of the theme of "consequence" in the form of the Vulture's story arc, wherein it is revealed that Toomes was just a regular man, doing his regular job as a head of a salvaging company, trying to feed his regular family, just like any other regular family, until Tony Stark's Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.) forced him out of business. The premise itself, wherein Toomes is secretly running a black market for alien technology, is a huge showcase on how the Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed so far.

I will be honest though, the use of Easter eggs and references, cameos and setups of other characters such as Aaron Davis, the uncle of the Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales, played by Donald Golver (Community), Mac Gargan, a Spider-Man foe going by the name of "Scorpion," played by Michael Mando (Breaking Bad), and D.O.D.C. head Anne Marie Hoag, played by Tyne Daly (The Enforcer), are a tad bit overkill here. Seriously, there has not been a single scene that does not serve as a callback to any other event that transpired previously. Okay, I like how Marvel is showing everyone that Spider-Man really is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by making callbacks, but there really is just a lot. They will not derail you from your movie viewing experience, and fortunately for everyone, these Easter eggs did not take the focus away from the story, but it can be very distracting at times, especially for someone who is already familiar with the ins and outs of the franchise's sprawling mythology.

Not only was the concept tackled the best in this flick, simply because it reflects modern day struggles, but the way the Vulture became who he is due to these circumstances, the execution of his portrayal here, takes the cake. As we said before, the film's script helped make the Vulture a sympathetic villain. We already had several Earth-based corrupt people of power, and megalomaniacal godlike foes, but the Vulture is something that is different. Here, we see just a normal man trying his best to support his family financially. He is not obsessed with grand illusion of murdering all of The Avengers, or ruling the world with an iron fist. He just wants to help his family, no more no less. It just goes to show that, as established by previous Marvel movies, the people that help out are sometimes the reasons why problems exist in the first place, and in the real world, we would have to do the most regrettable actions in order to get what we want the most. The twist revealing that Toomes is actually the father of Liz Allan (The Last Five Years), played by Laura Harrier, Peter's crush, is simple, but completely unexpected and nerve-wrecking. No mentions, no foreshadowing. Nothing, and I mean, nothing will prepare you for it. Not bad for Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, two screenwriters behind the pretty bad Vacation remake, huh?

However, fun and entertaining as the movie is, it still suffers from some flaws. For starters, most of the jokes at the first half of the story, before the main plot twist unfolds, falls flat in the cheesy and corny category. Jokes such as references to "Hot Aunt May" might be good for a few seconds of giggling, but not much else. The inclusion of public service announcements of Captain America, played by Chris Evans (Gifted), is fun and all, but it feels more like fan service.

But the biggest offense of the movie, lies in the creative liberty done to Peter's story. Some exceptions such as the Vulture's updated backstory made the movie much more spectacular, but I really did not like the fact that Tony Stark acts more of his uncle than Uncle Ben ever was. In the comics, Peter Parker is a full-blown genius in his own right. He is the one who made his own costume and web-slingers, and the idea that Tony Stark is the one who made his official suit, strips Spider-Man of his much more independent feature, a key aspect of his. The fact that Peter is much more reliant on his cybernetic suit, in contrast to his usually handy-dandy Spider-Sense, kind-of diminishes Spider-Man's appeal. Look, I will admit that Peter's artificial-intelligence Karen, voiced by Jennifer Connelly (Hulk), is hilarious, but we need a much more earthbound Spider-Man who does not need to have the approval of The Avengers to fight crime. 

Another problem with the movie is its few, but bothering, major plot holes. One such instance of this claim is at the very beginning of the movie, wherein it is revealed that the movie takes place "eight years" after The Avengers movie, even though the latter was set in 2012, making Spider-Man: Homecoming set around 2020. This is considered a plot hole by many of the fans since according to Kevin Feige, the leading man of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, states that all movies, starting from The Avengers, if I am not mistaken, takes place in the year that they are released on. That might just be over-analyzing things again, but this one could easily be explained in dear time. However, what I really do not understand is how on Earth did the second Shocker make it in time to fight Peter when the Vulture found out who Peter really is, just as he drops him and Liz off to the dance?

The action scenes are also amazing. It might be the usual and generic "boom, bam, pow" kind of action, but all of these scenes still prove that Marvel knows how to keep an audience at the edge of their seats. The best action sequences include Spider-Man's battle with the second Shocker at his own school, and the final battle.

Lastly, Michael Giacchino, the scorer for The Incredbiles and Doctor Strange, does a marvelous job in here, and his orchestral take on the beloved Spider-Man theme song is just a doozy!

Overall, this awesome third rendition of our favorite wall-crawler, and my most favorite comicbook superhero of all time, delivers the fun and thrills that every hardcore Spider-Fan craves for, despite encountering some flaws.

Also, nice move Marvel for trolling us with a fourth wall-breaking post-credits scene. Funny, fine, but you ticked me off with that joke, but I will let it slide because it is still humorous.

And that marks the conclusion of our review of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and man, what a fun movie that was! Let us hope that the upcoming Spider-Man movies are just as good, or maybe, even better. Also, let us hope that whatever the heck Sony is up to, including a Venom movie, and a project known as "Silver & Black," two Spider-Man villain solo outings, minus Spider-Man of all people, does not end in catastrophe. (Or better yet, it should, and have Sony realize that having movies such as these without the titular hero is just plain wrong) Before you guys leave, take a look at Tom Holland's viral "Lip Sync Battle." Also, the annual San Diego Comic Con just wrapped-up, and boy, we have a metric ton of new trailers to show, so keep yourselves updated for our post covering the event. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

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