FILM REVIEW – ‘SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING’ (2017)

Friday, July 7, 2017 marks the official US theatrical release of Spider-Man: Homecoming the newest joint venture of Columbia/Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios into the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and the first standalone film in the MCU continuity for everyone’s favorite webslinger. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the early press screening Wednesday, June 28, 2017 courtesy of Columbia/Sony Pictures, Allied Marketing, and AMC Theatres.

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Opening up roughly 8 years after the events in Captain America: Civil War, where audiences were first introduced to Spider-Man as part of the MCU (and how he actually should be), the film centers around an already-established Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland), a brilliant young high school student by day, and masked superhero by night who protects his native New York City from all manner of thugs, criminals, and hoodlums to make his city a safer place. Mentored by Tony Stark/Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr., of course) and outfitted with an enhanced Spidey suit which augments his own spectacular abilities, our young hero Spider-Man is already well established with his fellow New Yorkers, and seems to have everything, sans perhaps a healthy social life, under control until a dangerous new threat starts to show up. Enter Vulture (played by Michael Keaton), a highly skilled and resourceful mercenary outfitted with military grade, weaponized metal wings, who alongside his team of outlaws have augmented and modified exceptionally advanced alien technology scrapped from the ruins outside the former Avengers HQ. As the highly dangerous weapons begin falling into the hands of criminals, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man finds himself in way over his head trying to battle against such advanced technology, to say nothing of the immense threat presented by Vulture and his team of weapons-dealing lunatics. As Spidey begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding Vulture, he finds that the two may just have much more in common than either of them could have ever imagined.

What am I talking about? What happens next? You’ll just have to go see it and find out for yourselves!

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Now that we’ve gotten what little of the plot I’m willing to divulge out of the way, let me just say that this movie is such a refreshing change of pace when it comes to, well, every other Spider-Man movie ever made. For starters, audiences weren’t forced to sit through yet another origin story, and the subsequent Uncle Ben tragedy that ultimately must always accompany it. Everyone already knows that Uncle Ben died, that Peter Parker was bit by a radioactive spider, and that he eventually became Spider-Man. Good on Marvel for not making us sit through that again, even in flashbacks. It really went a long way with me, at the very least, to just not insult my intelligence like there hasn’t already been (albeit completely unrelated) Spider-Man movies, and well over 50 years of comics. Furthermore, actually making Peter Parker a high school student, while trying to be a superhero, and all the struggles and issues that go along with that was absolutely the right choice, as was actually having an actor of believable age portraying him – which, just for the record, Tom Holland did an absolutely stellar job in his performance. Furthermore, still, was the fact that audiences were never once forced to endure some ham-fisted romance plot shoehorned in for, I don’t know, reasons. Sure, we got a little bit of Peter and his high school crush, but that’s just high school, beyond that the movie didn’t focus on it.

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Michael Keaton really stole the show as Vulture, offering MCU fans an exceptionally well-acted, and more importantly, well-thought-out villain with an actual backstory, actual depth, and actual character development along the way, which already sets him apart from a lot of previous MCU baddies. Robert Downey Jr. was excellent as always as Iron Man, although the sort of mentor/father-son dynamic did come off as a bit clunky and forced sometimes, which did leave this writer occasionally questioning why he was even in this movie in the first place apart from adding some big Marvel star-power, but that is mind you a very minor gripe, and was very easy to overlook.

The other thing worth mentioning is the outstanding job of blending superhero action with comedic humor, which is something that has always embodied Spider-Man. The subtle nods to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off were a very nice touch, and the snarky-yet-awkward quips and commentary of Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man were absolutely on-point. The cameos of Donald Glover/Childish Gambino (which one can only assume/hope is Miles Morales), Stan Lee (because Marvel movie), and a few other minor characters who I won’t mention for fear of spoilers were also very well executed. And yes, the effects and what not were also well done, although that pretty much goes without saying at this point in anything Marvel touches, so I won’t even bother going into that.

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The Bottom Line:
Overall, Spider-Man: Homecoming is by far and away the best Spider-Man movie we have ever gotten, and I do mean by far. The screenwriters and producers deserve so much credit for pulling this off, as do the cast for all doing outstanding jobs in their roles. Finally, the most iconic of all the Marvel Superheroes has taken his rightful place in the actual MCU, and we can only expect more great things from both him and his amazing friends in the future… which is looking brighter than ever. – 9.0/10

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-Dave Harlequin
Editor: Nerd Nation Magazine
@DaveHarlequin

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