Saturday, 19 August 2017

Film Review: Spider-Man Homecoming (Spoiler Free)

Spider-Man fans everywhere I reckon were beside themselves when we found out Spidey was coming back home to Marvel. Following the not-so-successful 'Amazing Spider Man 2' which saw Andrew Garfield in the titular role; Sony and Marvel had finally managed to broker a deal that would see Peter Parker, introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As someone who's actually enjoyed previous Spiderman films and frankly sick of the constant rebooting, I was apprehensive going into this screening. Peter Parker's origin story has been done what feels like time and time again. What other angle could one possibly add? What more needs to be said?  The film's target audience know who Aunt May is, are aware his parents and Uncle Ben have died and know exactly how Peter Parker got his powers to become the Spider-Man. Studio executives have fortunately caught on and while the film still gives us an origin story, it skips all this jargon. The appropriate information is alluded too but we're given far more space and time to get an essence of who this Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) is.

In 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' we have an origin story that feels lighthearted and fun - as to not exclude a perhaps new and younger generation of viewers, while remaining fresh and loyal to its source material - something for the die hard fans.

The films picks up where the last 'Avengers' film left off following the Battle of New York. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keeton) has been contracted to clean up the city but, given the more supernatural elements left in the debris, Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr) US Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C) take over, leaving Toomes out of work. Out of work and frustrated, he and his associates decide to steal some of the technology to sell advanced weapons on the black market. It's with this technology that he's able to develop a specialised flying mechanical suit to become the 'Vulture' - a suit he wears to carry out more sophisticated criminal activity.  

Fast forward eight years and we meet a 14 year old Peter Parker. Stark isn't convinced he's ready to be an Avenger and in a quest to convince him otherwise; Peter spends his days fighting local petty crime in hopes of being invited back into the fold. All this is going on while he's trying to juggle his high school woes: staying on the decathlon team, getting the attention of his crush Liz and warding off high school bully - Flash. One night "on mission", he stumbles across one of Toomes' associates selling weapons. As events unfold, it doesn't take long for Peter to realise Toomes' plan to hijack a D.O.D.C plane transporting weapons from the Avengers' Tower to the new team's headquarters.

Many failed attempts, injuries and Tony Stark bailing him out later; the film's events come to a head when Spider-Man is faced against the Vulture where he has to realise and tap into his full capabilities to defeat Toomes.

As well as the very evident coming of age/identity themes, there's  a strong father/son dynamic between Stark and Parker that plays out really well. It's not glaringly obvious as to why exactly Tony Stark has made it his mission to be Peter Parker's mentor but as the film unloads, we realise there are so many parallels between himself Peter and Tony's origin stories and it begins to make total sense. Stark still wrestles with his own absent-father issues, the guilt and great responsibility he feels as a superhero and we're subtly reminded of the identity crisis -  very much tied to his suit. As he helps Peter navigate through some of these problems - in often laugh out loud sequences - Stark is given  a bit of character development which, nicely moves the cinematic universe forward while still very much being a Spider-Man movie. There's a very fine line to be drawn with a personality as big as Robert Downey Jr who it seemed, the studio was relying on too heavily to promote the film. If he had been in even one more scene, it would've been too much - too gimmicky  and one less and it'd have been pointless. Luckily the film know it's limits and he's not overused. 

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' does a lot of other things right too. Most superhero films suffer from having a third act that's way too long, over-relying on one character to pass the six laugh test and a 2-Dimensional villain. This film addresses and rectifies all these issues. Humour is distributed equally and well among the characters, all of whom at some point mould Peter's character. Keaton is delightful as Toomes, not only for the juicy plot twist you'll have to watch yourself to find out (!) but his strife and frustrtaion is understandable. His faults are what make him human and this human-like quality is what makes him that much more real and menacing as a villain. Having a short and sharp final act between the two of them make far more sense than having say, a Thanos like super-villain after this 14 year old boy because; this movie  is far more about setting up Peter in this universe and developing his character, than it is about him saving the world. And for this reason, Marvel nail what they do best; delivering strong genre movies. In this Spider-Man, we have a feel good, teen movie. 



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