Spider-man properly joins the MCU in a great movie, despite its general lack of direction and balance.
The narrative of Homecoming a good, if slightly basic, super hero story. Paired with a good, but slightly basic, high school story. Unfortunately it struggles to strike any form of balance between the two. When it’s letting Spider-Man do his thing the film is great, mostly because it doesn’t lay out Spider-Man’s hero origins. It’s a shame then, that it does try and lay out Peter Parker’s high school beginnings, and as a result the first act of the film is far too slow. The two sides of the film do interact, becoming more akin to what the audience wants, but mostly the traditional High School elements feel more stilted than they mean to.
The cast of the film are fantastic. Tom Holland is great as a more youthful Spider-Man and good as Peter Parker although he’s still not fully believable as a high school-er. Jacob Batalon is very good fun as Parker’s high school friend Ned, Zendaya as Michelle is a sharp refreshing character (although she ends the movie on more of a low note than a high) and Robert Downey Jr is of course as good here as he has always been. However, Michael Keaton plays the most memorable part of this film. He barely lifts a finger but has an incredibly menacing presence, until a twist at the end of the third act that turns him from a one-dimensional villain to a deeper, more intelligent character with interest and motivations of his own.
In many ways, every aspect of the film gets better from the half-way point, especially the visuals. In the first half of the film the use of special effects seems far too heavy as characters often seem floaty or separate from the surrounding scene. But after the half-way point the scenes become much less static and so the audience gets a much more fluid viewing experience and the action looks and feels much more natural as a result. In many ways the film looks unremarkable. It’s an enjoyable film to watch and there are some occasional stand out shots but for the most part it looks exactly as you’d expect.
The biggest issue the film faces is a lack of any kind of unique angle to this well-known character. This is the latest reboot in a long running series of reboots and it’s arguably the most generic approach yet. That doesn’t mean it’s bad – quite the opposite. In fact, it’s a well-made action film that’s engaging throughout. But the story it tells, the characters it presents and the themes it’s working with are all pretty basic. It’s undoubtedly an engaging film, and it’s even very good at times, but a lot of what makes Homecoming unique is stuff you’ve seen before, and is, frankly, better in other films.
Spider-Man Homecoming is a very good film that struggles in many ways with balance. it can’t balance its fresh approach to casting with its same old, same old character tropes. It can’t balance its slower, plodding first half with its bright, lively and tense second half. Quite simply: it can’t balance the “Spider-Man” with the “Homecoming”. If you’re after a fun Spider-Man film that fits with Marvel’s more unimpressive but enjoyable standards, this is the film for you, but be warned: it’s peers were far more ambitious and just as successful.
This review was edited by Joanna Hollins, for more of her work click here: Joanna Hollins.