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Saturday, 8 July 2017

At The Fleapit: Spider-Man - Homecoming (2017)


The highest praise I can give Spider-Man: Homecoming is that I came out of the cinema and immediately thought to myself: "I really want to read some Spider-Man comics now!"

And that's the thing about this Spider-Man, like many of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, it feels like part of a greater whole... like an issue of an ongoing comic book series.

There are changes to the character - some to make it gel better with the more tech-led feel of the Cinematic Universe - that I accept were necessary for this Spider-Man (now that he's part of the MCU, thanks to the deal between Marvel and Sony) ... even if it's not how I envisage my Spider-Man.

And the interesting thing is that many of the aspects I slightly bristled at (e.g. Tony Stark's heavy-handed mentoring) were all justified by the end of the movie, because this turned out to be a 'coming of age/rite of passage' story.

I loved the fact that while Spider-Man: Homecoming took Peter Parker (Tom Holland) back to his High School roots, it didn't regurgitate the whole origin story again (as classic as it is), dismissing it in a sentence when he's explaining the source of his powers to best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon).

And as spot-on as Tom Holland is in the lead role, he's supported by an ensemble of great young actors as his peers, including his sort-of-love interest, Liz (Laura Harrier), hilarious class bully Flash (Tony Revolori), and quirky outsider Michelle (Zendaya)... although the final 'revelation' about her might have been a nerdy step too far for an old school Spidey-fan like me.

I fully embrace the Marvel movies and accept that things need to be changed and adapted for a different medium, and a different age from when they were first created, but some things should remain sacrosanct.

But that's all I'm saying on that as Zendaya was superb in Spider-Man: Homecoming, reminding me of Ally Sheedy's character in The Breakfast Club, accentuating the heavy John Hughes vibe of much of the 'out-of-costume' moments in this film.

Of course, as has already been established, a superhero film is only as good as its villain and in Michael Keaton's Adrian Toomes, aka The Vulture, we get one of the best.

Forsaking the typical Marvel formula - for first films in a character's arc - of making the villain a 'dark reflection' of the hero, Toomes is a modern realisation of a classic Spider-Man villain and Keaton never fails to deliver.

That being said, the highlight of the movie for me was the Washington Monument rescue sequence.

Who knew the monument - the target of so much movie destruction - had an elevator inside it?

See, Spider-Man is educational as well as entertaining!

As well as adding to the broader lore of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (e.g. the introduction of Damage Control), Spider-Man: Homecoming is jam-packed with Easter Eggs (such as the passing reference of Miles Morales from his uncle, Aaron Davis, played by Donald Glover) and potential plot hooks for future Spider-Man storylines.

The film runs for two-and-a-quarter hours, but the pacing is perfect, swinging from one episodic moment of Peter's life to the next - blending humour, action, and drama in just the right mix - under the steady hand of director Jon Watts.

There might be a bit too much Tony Stark/Iron Man in this (when I was wanting a Spider-Man solo outing), but maybe that's just down to Robert Downey Jnr's larger-than-life on-screen personality.

And, anyway, the abundance of Stark technology is a key element of the plot, as the Vulture runs an "under-the-radar" fencing operation, salvaging - and selling on - abandoned equipment left behind after massive superhero slugfests.

And, yes, this is a Marvel movie so there are mid-credit and end credit scenes. Although I have to say - and this is a first - the final one (although it's a kind of clever meta joke) isn't worth sticking around for if you have a bus to catch or a lift waiting.

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