Spider-Man: Homecoming Review: Well, At Least It’s Better Than Spider-Man 3.
Tom Holland is the third actor in fifteen years to play the world famous web-slinger. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Holland as the new and younger Spider-Man but I was willing to give him a shot. Holland was first introduced as Spider-Man in last year’s Captain America: Civil War. After seeing Civil War, I knew I needed to see more of the character before I could honestly judge Holland’s take on Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: Homecoming opens eight years prior to the events of Captain America: Civil War. We are introduced to Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a blue collar electronics engineer, whose job is unexpectedly terminated leaving him no choice but to turn to a life of crime. Now, eight years later, Adrian runs a successful underground alien weapon business and has created a suit that turns him into a metal bird-like creature known as Vulture. Meanwhile, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has been recruited by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and is struggling to find a balance between his complicated teenage life and being Spider-Man.
For the majority of the film, Peter is trying to impress Tony Stark with the hopes that one day he will become a member of the Avengers. Peter feels that the only way he can prove his worth to Tony is to stop crime from happening all across the city. While trying to be the best neighborhood Spider-Man that he can be, Spider-Man stumbles upon Toomes’ men selling illegal alien firearms. Feeling determined that he can take down Toomes/ Vulture and his operation, Peter recruits his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) to deactivate the GPS tracker from his Spider-Man suit which unlocks all of the suit’s advanced features.
I can understand why some people were upset about rebooting the franchise again especially since it was just rebooted in 2012. The truth is people love their superhero movies and Spider-Man is without question a fan favorite. Homecoming starts off strong with a great introduction to Toomes but quickly gets lazy, uninspired, and repetitive. I had so many issues with this film that unless this 1500-word review somehow becomes a 3000-word review, I probably won’t touch upon everything that I disliked about it. With that being said, I will try my absolute hardest to point out the major issues and why I felt they didn’t work.
Spider-Man: Homecoming attempts to be a John Hughes movie whenever the story focuses on its high school characters or setting. You can tell this was something that Sony and Marvel Studios were very proud of since it was part of their marketing campaign. They released a teaser trailer and a photo that paid homage to The Breakfast Club. The attempt to recreate what made John Hughes films so great felt incredibly forced. It was so obvious that the writers were doing it that there was nothing clever about it. The film even shows a clip of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Spider-Man is running through the neighborhood. It was almost like the writers didn’t think the audience would be able to connect the dots so they had to show a clip that implied, “Hey look stupid, Spider-Man is doing the same thing that Ferris Bueller did.” There was absolutely no need for this clip to be shown. If younger audiences didn’t get the reference, parents could have easily explained the scene but I doubt it would even have come up in the first place.
One of the big things about this film is how diverse the cast is. A typical high school in New York City looks exactly like the young cast in the film. While I am glad that almost every nationality that comes to mind appeared in the film, it doesn’t dismiss the fact that their characters all lacked development. To be honest, all the high school characters are either one-dimensional or a stereotype. Tony Revolori’s Flash is just a bully for the sake of being a bully. He constantly mocks Peter and called him Penis Parker (how clever *sigh*). Liz played by Laura Harrier has zero chemistry with Holland despite being his love interest. Harrier as a character is nothing more than the pretty girl in high school and is never developed any further than that.
Ned is the annoying fat friend who just so happens to be a genius. Ned hacks Tony Stark’s computer system which just felt incredibly formulaic and unbelievable. In fact, I found Ned as a character to be super annoying and irritating to watch and listen to. I pretty much hated every moment he was on screen which unfortunately was quite often. There is a scene where Ned is hacking into Peter’s phone and a teacher walks in and asks what he is doing. Ned responds with “looking at porn.” I seriously cringed and looked at my wife rolling my eyes immediately afterward.
There are a lot of other students in the film but again nothing about them stand out so it would be a waste of time to mention all of them specifically. The only student that I enjoyed besides Peter was Zendaya as Michelle. She was spunky and entertaining. I loved her sarcastic tone and felt as a character she deserved more screentime. There is something that happens with Michelle towards the end of the film which hints at her being a bigger part of the sequel. If Zendaya keeps playing Michelle, the way she played her in Homecoming, I am sure she will quickly become one of my favorite characters in the sequels.
The film attempts to be funny but rarely did I find myself laughing. The writers attempt to make a joke and instead of doing it just once, they proceed to do it over and over again. There are multiple PSA videos that feature Captain America. I get that the writers thought they were being clever by incorporating Captain America into the story but honestly, these PSA videos were lame and just a lazy way that the writers could remind audiences that they were watching a film that is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Very early on in the film, Tony Stark assigns Happy Hogan to look over Peter because he obviously doesn’t have the time or patience to babysit a 15-year-old. Peter calls and texts Happy quite often and every single time Happy is shown, he is annoyed with Peter. This happens easily five times throughout the film. It wasn’t funny the first time and it certainly wasn’t funny the fifth time. Another example of this is Peter’s best friend Ned who keeps trying to get Peter to tell him things about Spider-Man even though Peter repeatedly requests that he is not allowed to answer any questions.
The story and characters lack logic and common sense. Peter is a sophomore in high school but randomly disappears periodically throughout the day. Where are the teachers? Why does no one seem to notice that Peter randomly disappears beside Liz? Let me not forget to mention that people like Tony Stark and Happy Hogan just randomly show up and talk to Peter in public areas. Like no one is wondering why these people are on school property or why Tony Stark is talking to a 15-year-old boy? I understand that I am not supposed to over analyze these types of films but the way that the writers tell this story makes it seem as though everyone around Peter is either blind or stupid. There is even a scene where Peter walks into an alleyway and changes into his Spider-Man costume in the middle of the day in New York City.
Spider-Man’s costume looks old school and I liked the look of the suit. This version of the Spider-Man suit looked like the first of many more advanced suits to come. What I didn’t like about the suit was the voice operator that Peter names Caren. Why is it that every film nowadays has to have some sort of computer system that reminds the audience of Siri or Alexa? I thought the whole general idea behind Spider-Man was him learning how to use the suit and discover the powers. Now, the writers cheapen it by giving Spider-Man a guiding voice that can help him learn his suit and provide him information. This sucked a lot of the fun out of Peter trying to use the unlocked features in his suit. There is never any real sense of danger in this film because someone is always there watching over Peter.
The visuals effects in Spider-Man: Homecoming aren’t up to Marvel movie standards. If you look at all my previous Marvel reviews, I always praise the visuals and say that Marvel and Disney continue to up the ante in the visual department. The effects in Spider-Man: Homecoming are ok but lack the gusto of the previous films. The non-action sequences are well shot but the action scenes felt more like watching a video game than an actual movie. The scene where this sticks out the most is the face-off between Spider-Man and Vulture at the end. In a lot of ways, the effects feel dated.
I do agree that Tom Holland playing Peter Parker/Spider-Man is a good casting choice. My issue isn’t with Holland but how poorly written the character is. It is like Holland was trying to deliver a well-rounded performance but the writers didn’t give him much to work with. I feel bad bashing this film because Holland does seem like a talented young actor who brought a sort of childlike sense of wonder to the web slinger that we have never seen before. I just can’t ignore the fact that the material he was given wasn’t good. Holland does have some moments where he shines above the script but sadly these moments are few and far between. I can only hope that Infinity War and the Spider-Man sequels are better written and help showcase Holland’s untapped talent. He does make a great Spider-Man/Peter Parker and I hope within his next few appearances, he gets to shine.
My favorite thing about Spider-Man: Homecoming without question is Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes. Keaton is just a skilled actor that stood out every time he was on-screen. He somehow managed to stand out even with the little character development he was given. Keaton’s performance is great and deserved a much better film. He is one of the better Marvel villains and stood out among the rest of the film. It almost felt at times like Keaton was in a completely different movie. I guess it shows that a great veteran actor can outshine even the weakest of scripts as long as he is passionate about the project.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is better than Spider-Man 3 but not by much. Holland and Keaton try their best but the film’s script is the biggest issue. The six writers try so hard to make Spider-Man: Homecoming into a John Hughes film but they don’t seem to understand why his films are so timeless in the first place. Hughes created likable and relatable characters that stood the test of time. Besides Peter, the high school characters aren’t anything more than one-sided caricatures of what the writers believe high schoolers are like today. They lack character development and aren’t amusing to watch. Spider-Man: Homecoming proves why Disney needs to be involved with Marvel projects. They might follow a formula but at least the formula works. Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of the biggest disappointments of the summer as well as the year.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s rating for Spider-Man: Homecoming is a 4 out of 10.