Vicentini’s review published on Letterboxd:
Superhero movie goes all out John Hughes... And it is glorious!
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a movie with all the right intentions and it knocks it out of the park in every conceivable way on a spectacular manner! Being the third version of the same character in so little time should be hard, but the good thing is, Homecoming plays as if it doesn't even know about that fact. It's not concerned about topping neither Sam Raimi's nor Marc Webb's films, it's just trying to be the greatest and funnest little adventure it can about the teenager from Queens who grew up in a world where the events of The Avengers happened and now has an opportunity to see himself as the hero he worshiped as a child.
That being said, I'm not going to compare it to any of the other five movies. I will, though, touch on a deeper layer where this movie traces a parallel to Raimi's first two ones. For the last many years since the "comic book superhero movie" became a genre in Hollywood, I have been arguing that Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 is the last true superhero movie at its core. In its essence. And by that I mean that it's the last one that truly captured all the feels, the tone, the charming silliness and the vibe of the Golden Age of comic books. After that they went on a more "realistic" route. No, I'm not talking only about "Christopher Nolan's realistic", I mean that at the core of those movies, they felt like they were always concerned on being set on a world that seems could exist. Something Bryan Singer had already done since his first X-Men movie to be fair. You wouldn't see Peter Parker walking around while you listen to Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head in the background and the movie would willingly pause on Peter's silly happy face right before the song ended.
Until this year. Wonder Woman had already gracefully recaptured part of that essence I thought was lacking, and probably would never see again, on comic book movies. And now Homecoming comes geared up with everything I wanted it to be and more! It gave me back that feeling I've been craving for since 2004 when I first saw Spider-Man 2.
Being at its core a coming of age story, the movie doesn't hide its strong influences of John Hughes' works, and what better character to recapture the nostalgiac feeling of those movies than Peter Parker?! By the way, Tom Holland created here the perfect protagonist and the most loyal Peter Parker he could, only adapted to the 21st century. Being a nerd on high school in 2017 is not the same as being a nerd on high school in the 70's, and this is where this movie hits the spot the most. Placing Peter on this scenario works amazingly well to create his arc here and make him grow as a character and become a hero in all the meanings of the word. Paralleling the awkwardness of Peter and his crush on Liz, his difficulty on talking straight with her, his anxiety to leave school and go be the friendly neighbor Spider-Man, his big heart full with the right intentions, all culminating on a story that not only understands the character but also elevates him. Tom Holland's fast talk and almost cartoonish expressions paints a potrait of a real millennial teenager. He feels like he could actually exist and be at the school I went to. And when he becomes Spider-Man he delivers the perfect disastrous character that's only trying to do right by everyone around him but can't change the fact that deep down he's just a kid. A kid who grows up to be a hero. He fails, but he never lets his failure stop him from trying to repare them and do what's right. And then comes in his intelligence. Yes, Tony Stark did make his suit for him, but the movie delightfully gives Spidey the challenges needed so he himself can solve the problems with only his wit and intelligence, in fact, the suit almost make it harder for him at first. We get to see him creating his webs, and we get to see him facing a situation where he has to think fast and come up with a plan all by himself otherwise a lot of people will die. It all comes circle by the end when Peter discovers his strenght that comes from his heart, from his will to protect everyone around even if it rips him apart on a moving and beautiful scene that directly plays tributes to the comic pages (and made me completely lose control of my inner fanboy). That's when he becomes Spider-Man. The Spider-Man. We get to see the kid becoming the hero, learning from his mistakes, finding his own way of overcoming his foes and challenges, wether if it's stopping and older and more experienced flying man or asking a girl he likes to the homecoming prom. We see him get to the point of almost giving up and then realizing that he has in him much more than he believed. "I'm nothing without this suit", he previously said, now he has matured to the point of seeing that he in fact is everything without that suit. He is the hero. Peter Parker. Not his suit or his gear. (Remember when Peter lost his powers in 2 and still entered that building in flames to rescue that little girl?! Yeah.).
I dedicated a huge chunk of this review on Peter Parker/Spider-Man because he's my all time favorite superhero ever (well, him and Superman) and I needed to fully convey how happy and satisfied I was of how flawlessly they nailed his characterization in this movie. But I can't end it without talking about Michael Keaton as the Vulture, because he is equally perfect. Which is amazing given the fact that, contrary to Spider-Man, the Vulture was never a great character, in fact, he's one of the weakest Spidey villains ever created, yet the movie found a way of making us care for him and develop a great menacing foe that goes way beyond just a big guy on a mechanic bird suit so we can have a big fight finale. The Vulture is a great character with real goals and emotions, a villain we can get behind and almost relate to or root for. We understand where he's coming from even though we disagree with his methods after a certain point. The best part of their conflict is when Peter Parker meets Adrian Toomes and not when Spider-Man meets the Vulture. It's a fantastic scene with non stop increasing tension so well coordenated and captured by Jon Watts, that understands that the hero needs a great villain to defeat, otherwise he's not that great himself,, and the performances by both Tom Holland and Michael Keaton on this particular scene are breathtaking and nervous wrecking. Think about Maguire and Dafoe and you'll see where I'm getting at here. And that is not taking out the merits of the action setpieces that are amazing, specially the final showdown with the Vulture and the choices Peter, the 15 years old kid, has to make. Again, conveying perfectly the enbodiment of a true superhero.
Of course the rest of the cast is spectacullar as well, specially Jacob Batalon, that would be easily my favorite character of this movie if Peter Parker hadn't already started it with an unfair advantage. And I need to give a shout out to Michael Giacchino for making the best score the MCU has had since ever! Specially with the Vulture theme that fits so perfectly the character and flawlessly sets the tone for every time he encounters Spidey, wether in or out of their suit. Not to mention the rearrengement of the classic Spider-Man theme right in the beginning of the film that is certain to give you goosebumps.
This is easily the funniest movie on the MCU and the best one at giving Spidey the sense of humor so present in the comics without taking away the heroic part. It perfectly captures the feel and levity of the comics like Raimi did and delivers us balls-to-the-wall great entertainment as well. It may not blow your mind like The Avengers did, but it's not trying to. It's simply trying to be a great Spider-Man movie, and that's just what it is.
PS: Have you noticed that I almost didn't mention Tony Stark on this review?!
PSS: The end credit scene is fantastic!