Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Director: Jon Watts

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier

Written by: Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, (also screen story) Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, (based on the Marvel comic book) Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Running Time: 133 mins

Cert: 12A

Release date: 5th July 2017

It’s no secret that Sony and Columbia Pictures have been struggling to find the right voice for Spider-Man, a Marvel character they bought the rights to years ago and have since produced a sloppy TV series in the 70’s as well as big screen incarnations, one more successful than the other. It’s also not a secret that Marvel Studios desperately wanted the web-slinger to appear in the Avengers films. So a happy medium was met: Spidey could be in the Marvel Studios films as long as that same studio helped make the character work for them in their own stand-alone film. The result was a cameo in Civil War and now this, the newest big screen outing…and one that should please the fans.

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Peter Parker is a high school kid who just happens to be Spider-Man, the hit sensation on YouTube and, as his friends believe, the newest recruit to the Avengers. Uner the wing of Tony Stark, Parker’s hero-ing days involve small-time crooks and helping old ladies find their way around New York. Yet when he stumbles on a weapon that can destroy buildings, Peter wants to be more than just a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man but a real hero. The weapons are being made from the remnants of salvage left by the superhero team and sold on the black market by Adrian Toomes, who also is The Vulture. When an arms deal goes badly wrong, leaving Spidey to be saved by Iron Man, the suit is returned to Stark and Parker must deal with being a hero in a different way.

One of Marvel Studio’s strengths is that they tackle their movies in various ways, never wanting to follow the same smash, bang wallop manner that you’d expect, so they play with genres: Ant-Man was an out and out comedy, Winter Soldier was a 70’s conspiracy thriller, Guardians was Star Wars. This version of Spider-Man comes across like a John Hughes 80’s teen comedy, in particular, several nods to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Peter isn’t just a hero who saves the day, he has to cope with the problems of growing up and being responsible, as well as falling in love, bullying and the life of a teenage boy.

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Director Jon Watts, who gave us the cult Cop Car a few years ago, approaches the project with an independent style and as well as concentrating on the set pieces, which are all very impressive but allows time for Parker to live a life of being an American high school kid with his geeky friend, Ned, the mysterious loner who likes sitting with them but doesn’t like them and the prettiest girl in school, Liz. At the same time, he has Aunt May, who the neighbourhood all thinks is hot which causes Peter great embarrassment, who is massively over-protective of her young ward, as well as having a father figure in Tony Stark and Happy Hogan, Stark’s driver, who keeps a watchful eye over him.

Watts does a good job balancing these issues while still keeping the superhero element going, with Spider-Man coming face-to-face with Toomes, a man whose only motive is money and giving them a life that is better than they could ever have with him just been a salvage expert. An interesting twist the normal megalomaniac that these films usually throw up.

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Tom Holland, returning to the role after his brief but impressive appearance in Civil War, seems to be born to play Peter Parker. He has an air of innocence and wonders that both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield lacked, which makes Parker this time much more believable. He is not perfect, often falling flat on his face or making very wrong decisions. As The Vulture, Michael Keaton excels. Marvel films have often struggled with the villains but here is one with a human face as well as being menacing. It’s a real coup to get Batman/Birdman to put those wings on again.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming is a blast. It’s everything a good superhero film should be: fun, exciting, silly and touching. It has plenty for the fanboys to enjoy (Jennifer Connolly as the voice of Spider-Man’s suit…connection with Jarvis/Vision?) as well as those nods to Ferris Bueller (shown on a TV as well as a brilliant and clever nod in the final post-credits scene. Fans of the film will get it). Another welcome entry in the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe and possibly the saviour of the brand that Sony couldn’t get to grips with.

4/5

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