Thursday, July 13, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming - Movie Review

The Movie: Spider-Man: Homecoming

The Director: Jon Watts

The Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine,

The Story: As Peter Parker deals with the aftermath of Civil War, developing his powers, and returning to high school, a new villain rises up to threaten the safety of the city.

The Review:
My first thought after watching this movie was how it favorably compares to classic films like Can't Buy Me Love, American Pie, She's All That, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I know that seems weird because we're talking about a super hero movie, but that's what Marvel does so well. They take tried and true story telling concepts and place them into their cinematic universe and, in this case, it works beautifully. The high school kids in the movie actually look like high school kids and they act like high school kids, even when crazy super powered hi jinks are happening all around them. If director Jon Watts was given any sort of singular directive before making this movie, it had to be that it needs to be fun and authentically funny because he absolutely nails it on all fronts.

A lot of the credit for all the teenage tomfoolery also has to go to the buddy tandem of Tom Holland and newcomer Jacob Batalon. On screen, the pair look and act like they have been the best of friends for the vast majority of their young lives and you really believe their characters would do anything for each other. In Civil War, Holland gave us a taste of who his Peter Parker was going to be and that same fun loving, wise cracking young kid who has way too much nervous energy for his own good comes shining through in this, his first solo film. Yes, this is a solo film because it is called Spider-Man, but it is very much an extension of the cinematic universe we have seen and enjoyed up to this point.

The story really does fit perfectly into the overall MCU narrative with characters, events, and places occurring naturally and being thoroughly embedded as opposed to when Marvel was just beginning their world building process by tossing in a random Hawkeye appearance or expanding things with a juicy post credits scene. I will say that if you have never watched a Marvel movie before, there are some things that may be a bit confusing although all of the major historical points are addressed right from the very beginning so you won't ever feel totally out of the loop. Seriously though, most of us have seen all or at least most of the films and in a lot of cases we have enjoyed repeat viewings so things like Avengers tower and characters like Happy Hogan will all fit in perfectly.

All of this and I haven't even mentioned Robert Downey Jr's performance as Tony Stark yet. This time around, we see him continuing the transition into an elder statesman and less active member of the Avengers team although, don't get me wrong, Tony Stark is still the same old genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist we have known and loved over the years. The difference is that Tony very much takes a back seat to Peter and takes on more of a mentor role that pops in and out of the movie rather than being front and center the entire time.

Speaking of things that fit in perfectly, I was actually a little worried about Michael Keaton playing the Vulture since he has already been Batman and Birdman in previous films. Fortunately, he is a fantastic actor and none of that history got in the way of him being one of the best villains I believe we have ever seen come out of the MCUniverse. From the very beginning, we see why he goes down the path that he does and he delivers some of the absolute best moments of the movie, one in particular will get a huge reaction from every person who is seeing it for the first time.

The creative team also does a great job of laying the foundation for future villains by populating this movie with people who are in the early stages of heading down the same "sinister" path as Keaton's vulture and yes, that is definitely a hint at what may be in the works for the next couple Spider-Man movies. On the flip side of that, we also get to meet people who are on the friendlier side of Peter's neighborhood and seeds are also planted for them to have much bigger roles in future films although I'm not going to mention any names because I know you don't want me to give anything away.

The Verdict:
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a spectacular re-imagining of our favorite, friendly neighborhood super hero's hilarious high school history. This is the action packed thrill ride you were hoping for and it has everything you would expect from the amazing Marvel movie machine that just keeps spinning an amazing web of cinematic masterpieces.

Oh, and make sure you stay all the way to the end of the credits. As usual, a Marvel party doesn't stop until the lights turn on.

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