If you want the good news before the bad, here it goes: Tom Holland, following in the footsteps of the home run that Marvel has earned from its casting decisions, is the perfect Spider-Man. The studio suits finally got it right with him, and he fits the character with a charming immaturity that is so charismatic you can’t help but love him. I wish I had more positive things to say about “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” but that’s where the glowing praise is going to end.
At least this is the best Spider-Man movie of the entire series (which isn’t saying much). It took six (yes, six!) screenwriters to put together this story, which in itself should start those alarm bells ringing in your ears. “Homecoming” attempts to give a fresh take on the franchise by exploring Peter Parker’s new transition into a serious superhero. Instead of parading Peter’s elaborate back story, the film assumes that its audience is already familiar enough with the origin of the character (which is fantastic).
The timeline of this story picks up with Peter living in New York City with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). He has an internship of sorts for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and is thrilled to be taken seriously in his fancy new technologically advanced suit (also courtesy of Mr. Stark). As he attempts to navigate the pains of high school life with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) while struggling to balance his new crime fighting alter-ego, Peter discovers a new weapons hungry villain called the Vulture (Michael Keaton) and gets in way over his head when he tries to single-handedly save the day.
The movie creates an atmosphere that’s overtly geared toward a preteen audience, and there’s not one thing wrong with that. But while the movie is entertaining enough, something just seems totally “off” about the whole thing. First there’s a forced multicultural aspect that is super obvious and distracting in its desperation to appear all-inclusive (look at the “Fast & Furious” franchise for sincere, organic multicultural casting). Second, there are several examples of dialogue that seem hell bent on offending or poking fun at the core adult nerd audience of comic book based films, like when Stark takes a snarky dig at fanboy writers (“these are real reporters too, not bloggers”). Some of the sarcasm works well, and most of it comes courtesy of Captain America (Chris Evans) in a series of very funny PSA videos.
What wrecked the movie for me is how fake Spider-Man looks when he’s swinging through the air and cutting back flips all over town. Look, if animators can make the most incredible realistic looking talking chimps in “War for the Planet of the Apes,” then surely these artists can animate Spider-Man so he doesn’t look like a low budget cartoon. The handful of effects that aren’t a complete failure are just so rowdy and noisy that they get lost in the spectacle.
I’ve never been a fan of Spider-Man and this film failed to win me over. I know many of you love the web slinging superhero and if you do, you’ll probably love this film and its new direction. When you see the movie, make sure you stay until the very end of the credits for a good laugh — although I think dry irony still looks the best on Deadpool.