Josh and Violet share their spoiler-free male vs. female perspective reviews of Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by Jon Watts, and starring Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, and Zendaya.
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Josh’s Movie Review of Spider-Man:
So, Spider-Man: Homecoming was a movie I had mixed feelings about happening. We had just rebooted Spider-Man a few years ago with Andrew Garfield and Mark Webb at the directing helm, and that franchise as a whole did not go over well (I personally didn’t hate the movies, but didn’t find them amazing either). Sony decided that they wanted some help with Spider-Man I guess, and made the deal with Marvel. That certainly sounds great, but could the two collaborate and make a movie together? It seemed like it would be difficult to get two different studios to get on the same page.
Come Comic-Con last year though, I was convinced the movie would be a whole lot of fun. Now that it is here? Yeah, it was a whole lot of fun. This 3rd go-around with Spider-Man was directed by Jon Watts, and stars a kid relatively close to being a teenager—Tom Holland (unlike Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield who were about a decade or more out of high school). The film also stars Marisa Tomei as (a much younger) Aunt May, Michael Keaton as Vulture, and Robert Downey Jr. pops in the film here and there as Tony Stark/Iron Man.
So yeah, as I already said above, this film was a lot of fun. The film has Peter Parker/Spider-Man as a sophomore in high school, and decides to skip the origin story—at least the very origin of his story. But the origin story we do get is the Vulture, and while I do not want to spoil the movie for anyway, the Vulture is a very apt way of naming Keaton’s super villain character given the bird persona he takes on when he gets his suit, and describes his crimes pretty well as well.
At Comic-Con 2016, Kevin Feige and the gang talked about wanting to make Spider-Man: Homecoming like a John Hughes film. In a lot of ways, that is exactly how the film feels. Spider-Man: Homecoming practically comes out and slaps you in the face with it with a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off reference which is pretty funny. But seeing Peter Parker navigate through high school as the nerdy kid he is while trying to manage his super powers is really great to see play out on screen.
Seeing Spider-Man operate as a superhero was also done very well in the film. We see that he is a kid who is trying to figure out how to make a difference in the film, but isn’t quite sure how to do it, and quite often makes some mistakes on along the way. There is a montage in the film where Peter is trying his best to help the streets of New York, and it is just great watching how things didn’t really go as hoped for the most part.
Speaking to the hero part, there seemed to be concerns that Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jr. might take up too much of the film, overshadowing Spider-Man. That turned out to not be the case, and I thought that was handled really well. He pops in here and there to provide some pseudo-fatherly advice, then lets Peter think about what he wants to do. Again, Peter doesn’t always make the right decision, but I guess that is a part of teenagers growing up, right?
Michael Keaton was also done very well. Marvel is notorious for its lack of memorable/interesting villains, but Vulture, as cheesy as he could have been, really works well in the movie. He is a character who has a relatable backstory, and is not a character you outright hate. But at the same time, he is a very scary guy. There is a scene where Peter unwittingly bumps into Adrian Toomes (Vulture’s non-villainous name), and it is such a good scene seeing the villain and hero confront each other “naked” so to speak.
I really enjoyed the story though. It was pretty basically: Spider-Man finds a super villain in his hometown that he has to figure out how to deal with. It is not a world-ending calamity, like many Marvel movies these days, but it works perfectly for this iteration of Spider-Man.
I have just a few gripes about the movie that I need to get out of the way. I think the biggest complaint I have about the movie was there wasn’t enough of both things the movie was trying to be. It was trying to be a John Hughes movie, but at the same time, that seemed to fall away pretty quickly in favor of a more action-y type scene. But at the same time, the action scenes felt a little underwhelming. There wasn’t a time in Spider-Man: Homecoming where I thought Peter Parker wasn’t going to get out of the problem he was in. Sure, it’s Spider-Man, and they don’t plan on killing him of any time soon, but I didn’t feel any stakes in terms of him or the people he had to rescue for the most part.
I also thought that Spider-Sense seemed strangely absent from the film. It seems like such an important part of Spider-Man’s abilities, that I am surprised it was left out. I can see that it would be hard to figure out how to use it in the film effectively, but I still think it should have been worked out.
I also thought Peter Parker relied on the suit way too much. The character doesn’t really have much like that in most iterations of the character outside of the Iron Spider which comes up in the comics. I guess this film’s version of the suit could be the Iron Spider version, but still. I think going back to Spider-Man coming up with the various web tech himself and using his Spider Sense would be more entertaining.
The final complaint I have is that the film did feel a bit like it was setting up a bunch of future stuff. We have the character Michelle Jones played by Zendaya who clearly has more going on than ever happens in this film, which has to come up in future movies. Then we had nods to other villains likely to show up in the future. It is a little cumbersome walking in to so many franchise movies lately, and seeing all of the bread crumbs that are laid out for a movie that hasn’t even been seen by the audience yet.
Having said all that, I still give the movie a solid 8.5 out of 10. Tom Holland is an amazing Spider-Man, and the character (for the most part) was written and directed how most fans see Spider-Man. I am excited to see the future of the character, I just hope future movies don’t beat me over the head with what is coming next, and makes sure to stick to the present well enough for me to enjoy that movie.
Violet’s Movie Review of Spider-Man: Homecoming:
Spider-Man: Homecoming arrived in theaters this weekend to an impressive 93% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is directed by the relatively unknown newcomer Jon Watts, and stars Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Donald Glover, and Zendaya. As you may recall, this is the third version of the Spider-Man character that we’ve seen on the big screen in the past 15 years, starting with Tobey Maguire in 2002, then moving on to the Andrew Garfield reboot in 2012. Now here we are in 2017 with Tom Holland playing yet another version of Spider-Man.
It’s a little different this time around though. In the first two versions, due to some legal restrictions that I won’t go into here, Spider-Man was in a stand-alone universe, separate from the Avengers and all the other Marvel characters you’ve seen on the big screen lately. Of course, the Tobey Maguire version pre-dates the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”) that you’re presently familiar with, which began in 2008 with Iron Man. But in 2015, Sony and Marvel Studios came to an agreement which allowed for what you see in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and what you first saw in Captain America: Civil War — Spider-Man interacting with these other Marvel characters and being a part of the MCU.
This opened up a world of possibilities. Spider-Man: Homecoming was able to show connections between Peter Parker’s world and the rest of the MCU, and acknowledge that the events in those other movies affected his life. And thankfully, we don’t have to sit through Spider-Man’s whole origin story and Uncle Ben’s death for a third time. It was a smart choice to first introduce Spidey very briefly in Captain America: Civil War, making us fall in love with him, and leaving us wanting more, then moving on from there, rather than backtracking, in Spider-Man’s own movie.
I was pretty excited about Spider-Man: Homecoming after seeing the initial footage in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con last year. This footage revolved largely around the high school aspect of the film. I liked the vibe it gave off. After all, Peter Parker is a 15 year old sophomore in high school, so it follows that being a teenager in high school would be a large part of his story. Oddly, however, this high school aspect didn’t seem to come through very much in the trailers when they eventually came out. The trailers made it seem completely different from the Hall H footage, and though it seemed like the movie would be funny, I didn’t feel quite as excited about it anymore. In fact, I felt like the movie-going community in general shared that sentiment of non-excitement. For example, when we went to see Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on opening night, the crowd cheered for Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok trailer — but didn’t seem to care about the Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer. I’m not sure if it’s because movie audiences are suffering from Spider-Man fatigue in general or what.
Whatever the case, I still wanted to see the movie. I knew there was more to it than what the trailers had been showing. And I was right.
If you weren’t already convinced by his performance as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, I’m pretty sure that after seeing Spider-Man: Homecoming you will agree that Tom Holland as Spider-Man is perfection. Although Holland is 21, his youthful appearance makes him look like he could be 15. He even has a young sounding voice. And even though he is British, his American New York/Queens accent is flawless. If you’ve ever heard Stan Lee talk about when he created the character of Spider-Man, you would know that it was his intention to specifically portray a teenager who had normal, everyday teenage problems. He wanted the character to be relatable. Spider-Man: Homecoming does just this. Yes, there are other aspects to it, the superhero aspects, of course, but it takes into account that high school is a big part of his life at this point, and shows us the struggles he has to go through, in addition to figuring out how to master his superpowers, which makes him all the more endearing.
Tom Holland is not the only standout performance in Spider-Man: Homecoming, though. Michael Keaton plays the villain masterfully. I like that we get to know the villain and his background, and see why he became the villain that he is. We can actually empathize with him.
I would be remiss not to mention that a large part of the enjoyment of this film is the fact that it makes callbacks and references to other films, characters, and events in the MCU. But at the same time, it’s nice that Spider-Man gets to have his own individual story apart from all that. Well, for the most part, anyway. Tony Stark does figure into the story a good deal, but I didn’t feel that it took away from Peter Parker’s story.
Overall, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fun time at the theater, with many laugh out loud moments that builds a solid foundation for Tom Holland’s version of Spider-Man for years to come.
My rating: 8/10.