Spider-Man: Homecoming

 

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The second re-boot of Spider-Man is an agreeable, politically-correct confection, even if this time if 

feels just like a chapter in a bigger book.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Ceiling fan: Tom Holland

 

Actually, that should be Spider-Boy, as this second Spidey reboot goes back to Peter Parker’s schooldays and the fifteen-year-old student he once was. At heart, it’s a high school romance framed by a superhero movie, a right-angled adjunct to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While this formula feeds out teasing links to the other instalments gathering at the gates of the multiplex, it does rather undermine Homecoming as a stand-alone feature. And even at 133 minutes, the film feels strangely incomplete, as if mustering momentum for revelations to be resolved in a forthcoming chapter. Even so, it’s a good deal more fun than a lot of the Marvel movies and as Spidey, the London-born Tom Holland is a sprightly, agreeable would-be hero and more than holds his own against the ghosts of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. One might even say he’s the most engaging Peter Parker yet.

 

For his antagonist we have Michael Keaton, which is kinda weird, as older viewers may recall the actor as the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and its sequel, Batman Returns (1992), not to mention his Oscar-nominated turn as the man who played Birdman (2014). Keaton can be creepy when he wants to be, but his ‘Vulture’ is hardly in the same league as Heath Ledger’s The Joker or Tom Hardy’s Bane. However, as the title suggests, this is as much about the impending Homecoming dance at Peter’s school as it is about the Vulture’s illegal trafficking in alien-enhanced weaponry.

 

The fun part is seeing Parker coming to terms with his alter ego, helping pedestrians with directions and apprehending a bike thief while dreaming of bigger crimes to confront. There’s also his infatuation with fellow student Liz (Laura Harrier), a beauty of mixed heritage, who he’d love to take to the ball; and his friendship with the amply proportioned Ned (Jacob Batalon), who just can’t keep his mouth shut. The latter is obviously of Polynesian origin, adding to the film’s vivid sense of diversity and making up for the fact that Parker himself is a slice of pure white bread.

 

Of all the Avengers, Spider-Man is perhaps the most likeable, for being both young and eager-to-please; but one can’t help wondering how many times he will be re-booted. Tobey Maguire slung his first web in 2002 and was followed just ten years later by Andrew Garfield. The gap is narrowing. For now, though, Tom Holland will do very nicely and is signed up to play Spidey for another two films.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Robert Downey Jr, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Kenneth Choi, Michael Chernus, Logan Marshall-Green, Isabella Amara, Angourie Rice, Stan Lee, Chris Evans, and the Voices of: Jennifer Connelly and Kerry Condon.

 

Dir Jon Watts, Pro Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal, Screenplay Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, Ph Salvatore Totino, Pro Des Oliver Scholl, Ed Dan Lebental and Debbie Berman, Music Michael Giacchino, Costumes Louise Frogley.

 

Columbia Pictures/Marvel Studios/Pascal Pictures-Sony Pictures.

133 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 5 July 2017. Cert. 12A.