Monday, July 10, 2017

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Bringing the most popular Marvel superhero into the Marvel Cinematic Universe proved a winning formula with the third iteration of Spider-Man. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is so excited to be brought into the Avengers by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) but after the battle in Berlin with Captain America (Chris Evans), Peter returns to a somewhat normal life. Claiming to be part of a Stark internship, he spends his hours at school counting the seconds and brewing web solution in chemistry class and his after school hours swinging around looking for crimes and reporting back to Stark's assistant Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). He keeps his identity a secret from his Aunt May Parker (Marisa Tomei) but his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) discovers him crawling across the ceiling of his room. In lieu of a backstory, Ned's questions serve to provide information on the details of Spider-Man's powers.

The story begins with Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) salvaging alien technology from the battle in New York with the Chitauri aliens in the first Avengers film. When the government takes his work away, he steals the equipment and builds super weapons with his crew including Phineas Mason the Tinkerer (Michael Chernus), Jackson Brice the first Shocker (Logan Marshall-Green), and Herman Schultz, the second Shocker (Bokeem Woodbine) after Toomes murders Brice with an alien weapon. Peter has his own group at high school in the debate team including the girl he has a crush on Liz (Laura Harrier), the high school bully Flash (Tony Revolori), and the girl too cool for everything Michelle (Zendaya). They keep questioning where Peter goes all the time but he keeps using the excuse of the Stark internship.

When Peter tries to use Spider-Man as a tactic to impress his high school friends, he spots an explosion and stumbles upon an alien arms deal as Toomes's gang is selling to Aaron Davis (Donald Glover). Fighting the super weapons proves harder, especially when the Vulture arrives and carries him up into the sky. Iron Man saves him from drowning, though using the suit from India and not actually there. Spider-Man finds a dropped alien weapon and Peter and Ned study it in shop class, but when the Shocker shows up tracking it, Peter shoots a tracker on him. The two boys watch as the tracker traces the Shocker and Toomes's crew to Maryland and use their debate field trip to Washington D.C. as cover for their Spider-Man mission. Ned hacks Spider-Man's suit upgrade, giving him all sorts of new powers when he takes on the Vulture but ends up trapped in a storage container. He experiments with his new suit as he's locked in a storage facility but when he learns that the alien weapon Ned has is a bomb, he has to break out and hurry back to D.C. leading to a cool action scene on the Washington Monument.

Peter returns to Queens to find that Spider-Man is a famous hero though he cautions Ned against telling everyone. He hunts down Aaron Davis to find out where the next deal will be leading to another action scene on the Staten Island Ferry, though Iron Man has to step in to save him. This time Tony Stark takes the suit back telling him to be a hero on his own. Peter settles into a more normal life, finding time for his friends and even asks Liz to the homecoming dance. The big twist comes when Peter goes to pick up Liz and finds Adrian Toomes, who he saw on the ferry, waiting at the door. During the ride to prom, Toomes figures out that Peter is Spider-Man and threatens to kill him if he hurts his business. Peter knows he has to stop Toomes from his latest plan so he bails on Liz and runs into Shocker in the bus parking lot. Ned saves him and takes over in the computer lab to help Spider-Man.

The finale sees Spider-Man in his makeshift suit fighting the Vulture as the villain tries to steal Stark's plane. The fight goes up into the clouds and back down as the plane's engines explode. Spider-Man saves the vulture before he kills himself and delivers the products back to Stark with a friendly note. Stark forgives him and offers to have him be a part of the Avengers with a new spider suit and a big announcement but Peter turns him down to just be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. With its new sheen and connection to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, this Spider-Man feels like the best one on the first watch. I'm sure I'll see flaws in later viewings but Holland is a fun Spider-Man, and Keaton is great as the villain. All of the acting was top notch but Batalon as Ned was the funniest part of the film. The action looked great though couldn't match earlier versions of the sequels. I am very pleased with Spider-Man: Homecoming and look forward to him participating in the other films for Marvel. 

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