Spider-Man: Homecoming ★★★★

For as much as I love Spider-Man as a character, I hate Hollywood excess even more. So as you can imagine, with this being the second Spider-Man reboot of the decade and what already felt like the 200th Marvel film of the year, I really wanted to hate this film. I think I still do, in concept.

But, whether it's that broken clock idiom or Marvel actually figuring out how to make a fun film that doesn't disgust those of us with superhero-movie fatigue, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" really works.

The most obvious factors at play here are the tandem of acting and writing that created this incarnation of the Spider-Man character: Tom Holland and the writing duo of Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. When competing against the nostalgic memories of Tobey Maguire's initial performance and Andrew Garfield's critically well-received turn as the iconic super-hero, both seen in the same decade, you've got to stand out. The combination of Tom Holland's youthful exuberance and the script's well crafted portrait of an awkward, fast-talking superhero(as opposed to the ever-witty punch-line machines of the previous Spider-Man films) was just what the sixth Spider-Man standalone film in 15 years needed to appear fresh and new, while also putting forth a more truthful representation of the character's comic book persona. In short, this Peter Parker is just more fun.

And the film as a whole is simply more fun, as well. I found myself forgetting that I was watching a super-hero film and not a comedy, as "Homecoming" utilizes numerous styles of humor to great effect. The most noteworthy comedic asset is arguably Peter Parker's friend, Ned, played by newcomer Jacob Batalan. Rather than being mad at Peter for not spending as much time with him on their nerdy hobbies, or forcing him to choose between his super-hero responsibilities and their friendship, Ned is thrilled to discover that Peter is Spider-Man, instantly becoming his #1 nerdy fan.

In that light, many of the film's greatest achievements involve what was ultimately avoided, in addition to what was created. Instead of another tear-jerking Uncle Ben death scene, "Homecoming" pushes that tragedy to the side, taking place off-screen and prior to the events of the film. As a result, this Peter's transition to super-hero is allowed to more closely parallel the growth of an actual high-schooler, instead of being tied to the guilt of his uncle's death. We also avoid the trope of the evil super-villain with a big, blue, world-ending laser, in favor of Michael Keaton's grounded portrayal of The Vulture, a working class father turned professional technology thief, who simply wants a fair chance to provide for his family. It's a welcome change from the over-used end of the world scenarios of the Marvel Universe.

Ultimately, apart from the tonally misguided cell phone footage Vlog used to introduce Spider-Man/recap the events of "Civil War," and a new low for cringe-inducing Easter Egg twists, the biggest flaws that "Homecoming" must overcome are it's length and inability to wrap itself up in the third act. Still, despite a boring drag in the second act, this is hardly a universe I can complain about spending the extra time in. I'll even tolerate a sequel or two, as long as you promise me that this is the last Spider-Man reboot of the decade.

Michael liked this review