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‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Review

Amit Bachani, Editor

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In the upper echelon of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where humorous content is accompanied with an enthralling narrative and an admirable lead, it is often examined that despite constantly fluctuating plot arcs and character dynamics, the protagonist, at its core, never fails to retain elements of what had established it to begin with. Amongst multitudes of memorable characters and their respective origins, the ultimate paragon of the virtue to uphold great responsibility with great power in the face of life’s daily trials is immediately recognizable as everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood and web slinger : Spider Man.

In the year of 2002, audiences witnessed the culmination of what is universally regarded as one of Marvel Studios’ and Director Sam Raimi’s magnum opus in a trilogy that still holds great precedence today, not only for presenting the first film adaptation of Spider Man that remained truly faithful to the comic book series, but for the widely acclaimed portrayal of Peter Parker by Tobey Maguire. Three films and several years later, we were once again presented with a just yet earnest performance by British actor Andrew Garfield in a two installment reboot of the series by Sony Entertainment, but not without the franchise meeting a cold reception from fans for its lackluster storyline and an overabundance of characters.

After another duration of three years (2014-2017) and MCU’s bold venture into another phase which saw the progression of the Avenger series and successive solo installments for the heroes involved in them, the infamous web slinger finally received his own cameo appearance in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, not as a Physics student at Columbia University or a high school graduate, but rather, as an adolescent struggling through the avenues of freshmen year. A year later, Marvel and Sony’s joint collaboration makes way for another superhero summer flick and a reboot for the promising male debut. However, does the third reboot manage to revive the essence of a declining franchise, or does it serve as a mere stepping stone in the universe for the entry of more prominent heroes? Let’s analyze.

When examining the total runtime of the film, it is just to assert that the film doesn’t waste its time inducting the novice hero into the complexities and tense atmosphere of the MCU post the Avenger’s division in Captain America: Civil War, setting itself during the events of and in the aftermath of the previous film, which shed light on Peter’s comedic experience donning the suit while fighting Captain America and the mentorship of Tony Stark (Iron Man). As Peter returns home, he eagerly awaits his next assignment from Stark, but is disappointed when he finds himself aiding citizens with common neighborhood problems instead. With occasional guidance from his mentor, Peter attempts to find a balance between social acceptance, academic excellence, and with his job as his crime fighting alter ego in Queens, but finds himself struggling in his own web (no pun intended). Upon the emergence of a new threat under the alias of Vulture, he finds himself at odds with his abilities and attempts to seek a resolution, not just with the assistance of his sidekick Ned, but within himself, eventually testing the values and relationships he holds so dearly. What ensues as Peter discovers more about the Vulture is what forms the crux of the story.

With such fresh content, the expectations regarding performances have also been increased this time around, and Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn’t fail to deliver. Resting on the helm of British newcomer Tom Holland, the third reboot and latest addition to the MCU sees Holland excelling in the role of Peter Parker, whose portrayal not only provides a delightful and refreshing arc to the memorable character, but also live up to, if not, surpass the performance of Andrew Garfield before him, allowing fans to relive the magic that was first created by Maguire back in the early 2000s. Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture is menacing and Keaton does a fine job to heighten tensions between Spider-Man and the Vulture, and his banter with Holland during the homecoming dance scene is truly commendable! Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man has more of a limited scope and serves as little more than an extended cameo at best, but he plays the part with relative ease and captivates the audience with his presence as a father figure to the young Peter.

Marisa Tomei, Laura Harrier, and Zendaya as Aunt May, Liz (Peter’s love interest), and witty friend Michelle look good in the screen time allotted to them and a particular reference regarding Zendaya’s character perfectly sets up a bright future for potential sequels to the film. Jacob Batalon, on the other hand, as Peter’s quintessential “guy in the chair” and best friend Ned does a great job and deserves full marks for delivering some of the most entertaining scenes in the film.

Jon Watts in the director’s chair is excellent and he elevates the film with precise direction as well as an endearing and relatable story to young audiences, giving Spider Man a perfect synch with the MCU and complementing the character with aspects that were never present such as his Stark Industries suit with artificial intelligence and a background strongly related to his comic book routes. Armed with over 500 web shooter combinations and perks such as an in built parachute and heater, supervising art director Brad Ricker and his VFX and CGI team showcase the brilliance and potential of Spider Man’s arsenal and help keep the film apace, especially during action sequences and the climax. With that, the cinematography by Salvatore Totino and the background score by Michael Giacchino are expertly integrated and only greater enhance the viewing experience.

Even though there is plenty to be admired and appreciated, the film does see its share of disadvantages, some minor, while others prove to be a bit of a burden. Firstly, it is notable that despite Michael Keaton’s captivating performance, the character feels underdeveloped, and at some crucial moments, underwhelming through the character’s writing. Additionally, Holland’s Spider Man is a bit disappointing in scenes that require him to deliver, such as the climax, in which he comes across as inexperienced with his abilities, getting bested by villains repeatedly. While reasonable considering his age, one can’t help but feel slightly let down when Spider Man hasn’t shown more progression in combat scenarios than what was shown. However, strong execution and fun action scenes overshadow these drawbacks.

On the whole, Spider Man: Homecoming lives up to its expectations as a wholesome Marvel film, that delivers on its premise to bring a contrasting edge to the beloved superhero, as well as attempting to focus on the roots of the character while also introducing him to the present day state of the Avengers. With two post credit scenes and tons of content to have fun with, this is a sure shot hit all the way through!

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Review