Did we really need a third version of the “Spider-Man” story? Well, as much as I was looking forward to seeing Tom Holland’s first solo movie as the teenage crime-fighting superhero, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” simply lacks bite.
21-year-old Holland plays Peter Parker as a 15 year old. He’s got a crush on a senior girl but is too shy to tell her that he’s the “amazing” Spider-Man -who fought with Iron Man against Captain America (in “Captain America: Civil War”) and who, at the start of this film, is seen taking down low-level bad guys in his hometown of Queens, NY.
Peter desperately wants to drop out of school and become a full-time Avenger. Tony Stark, who was Peter’s mentor in “Civil War”, thinks he’s still too young, insisting he remain a “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”. “Homecoming” is basically about Peter trying to prove to himself, and to Stark, that he’s ready for the big leagues.
But don’t expect to see a lot of Iron Man. You can count the number of scenes Robert Downey, Jr. has on one hand. And none of them are with Peter’s Aunt May (played by Marisa Tomei). The two of them hit it off in “Civil War”, and the Marvel fan universe embraced their chemistry. Marvel movie makers usually give their fans exactly what they’re hoping for, but they didn’t this time. Jon Favreau, who returns as chauffeur Happy Hogan, actually gets more screen time than Downey, Jr.
The villain this time is the evil Vulture. Michael Keaton brings his usual Michael Keaton spunk to the role. He’s definitely the most interesting character in “Homecoming”, though he too doesn’t get a lot of screen time.
No – this Spidey Saga is clearly dominated by Spidey himself, and most often in costume. Unlike in the previous Andrew Garfield series where Peter spent a lot of time interacting as himself, Holland is almost always in some version of the suit. That sense of awe and wonder of the past films when Peter would transform into Spider-Man is lost here.
Director Jon Watts incorporates a lot of the cutesy humor that’s become customary to the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but the majority of it doesn’t work this time. The comedy feels forced – from bank robbers wearing Avengers masks – to one of the actual Avengers in a series of cameos. And when it comes to scenes at school or with Peter’s friends, most are not close to believable.
Holland is a likable actor, but his Peter comes-off as too innocent and unrealistically naive. Forcing him to play “15” was a mistake. There’s way too much of Peter talking to himself and the voice in his suit.
For a Marvel action movie, the visuals are up to par, but not extraordinary by any means. Scenes at the Washington Monument and on the Staten Island Ferry are well done, but the climactic nighttime aerial showdown is disappointing.
All in all, this is an extremely straightforward “Spider-Man”, with only one impressive twist about an hour and a half in. And, sadly, that’s about all I’ll remember from “Spidey No. 6”.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” gets a C.
Running Time: 133 min.