Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming: Fresh, Energetic, and Full of Fun

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Version: Library borrow

Every couple of years there's a new Spider-Man remake. This year it was Spider-Man: Homecoming. You might think this Marvel Comics retread would be worn to the rims, but you would be wrong.

Homecoming is fresh and energetic and full of fun. 

It's fresh with the new face in the casting of Tom Holland in the lead role, coming off as this enthusiastic if awkward fifteen-year-old superhero intern at Stark Enterprises, eager to please his new mentor, Tony Stark. His squeaky teen voice gives the character a vulnerability and naivete that other Spider-man films lacked that helps build into the story line, which I will tell you about in a minute.

It's energetic in the enthusiasm with which Peter Parker takes on the opportunity to break out of the doldrums of his high school life and make a difference in the world, not to mention the excitement of working alongside his heroes in the Avengers team. And this film has tons of action, as Spider-Man tests his skills and his super cool new uniform, optimized with high tech features created by Stark Enteprises. Parker's frenetic youthful energy, and likely supercharged hormonal imbalance, gives him a boost on the screen, too.

It's full of fun, because there are lots of sight gags and missteps and humorous digs at the innocence of youth, the cynicism of adults, and the Avengers universe. Although, I could do without the continual cameo appearances of Stan Lee in every Marvel Comics movie. Jeez!

So here's the premise of the movie: Peter Parker is this super smart teen who has just finished an internship at Stark Enterprises. He is super geeked at having met Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey, Jr.) and the Avengers team, and he's ready for his first assignment. But Stark tells him to wait for his call, and sends Parker home with a new Spider-Man suit to finish school -- on the hush-hush. Parker keeps texting Stark through his handler, Happy Hogan (played by Jon Favreau), hoping for news but gets no answers. So he begins testing out his new suit and its limits, stopping petty crimes as he sees them on his flying swings around town. On one of his swoops, he discovers arms dealers and stumbles upon The Vulture (played by Michael Keaton), who will become an arch enemy. Back at school, as part of the very competitive debate team, Parker's friends are depending on his quick, keen mind to help them win the national championship, and he's too busy trying to track down his arch enemy to support his team. The Vulture turns out to have a much closer connection to Parker personally than he can ever imagine, and as Spider-Man battles The Vulture, things turn deadly.

Now, that's an oversimplification of the plot, which is full of interesting twists and surprises. And this version of Super-Man morphs some of the usual love interests (Liz is played by Laura Harrier) and character images with Aunt May (played by Marisa Tomei) and MJ, who isn't even revealed until the end of the film. Parker also gets a new best friend (played by Jacob Batalon), a geek who in a twist doesn't turn into a nemesis. It even manages to fit in some humorous cameos by Captain America and, more seriously, actress Tyne Daily. 

Maybe this film was focused on the younger demographic, but I think we can all be entertained by this more awkward, more youthful, more error-prone superhero, kind of the kid in all of us who just wants to be more than himself and isn't afraid to try. We've already seen the other iterations in earlier versions, and they were admirable versions of Spider-Man. But in Spider-Man: Homecoming, this was more fun. And, seriously (and ironically), can't movies be fun, too?

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