Blu-ray Review: ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Is So Much Fun

If you haven’t heard by now that the new ‘Spider-Man’ is really good then you must have been living under a rock for the last week. Then again, it’s possible you are just too serious a person for this sort of kids stuff, but then why would you be reading this review in the first place. So, I’m going to operate on the assumption that you are a Spider-Man fan and you have likely been told it’s pretty good. Well, you were told correctly. It’s a really good movie and it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

However, I can’t really write about this movie and discuss what’s so fun about it before I point out where I stand on this character. You see, Peter Parker is my third favorite character in the universe of superheroes, and my favorite of all the Marvel heroes. His story possesses the tragedy that I resonate with in Bruce Wayne, but he’s also a hopeless romantic that’s pining over the girl next door. In his tales, he manages to combine this since of romance with a fun and quirky crime fighting ability. Which makes reading about him or watching him on the big screen filled with more lasting smiles than passive laughter.

There has also always been a balancing act between a young man trying to get the things he personally wants in life and a wise cracking crime fighter. And the consequences of his actions on those around him seem to always come back to haunt him. He has lost his uncle, mother, father, father figures, and even the love of his life in the movies we’ve seen so far. It’s even worse in the comics. Yet, these tragedies are part of what makes him such a great character and gives these stories so much rich emotion.

The original trilogy has one of the best superhero films ever made in ‘Spider Man 2’ and an onscreen romance that reminds you why falling in love is the thing so many hold in the highest esteem of human existence. Then the reboot films managed to get this character even more right in my book. The second of the ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ movies may have been a bit of a mess, but it’s one of my favorite messes because of the amazing chemistry between the two leads. There is so much rich emotion in that film and it all leads to an ending that is so good that I constantly think of it every time I think about watching a Spider-Man movie.

The new movie is better than that last movie in almost every narrative sense, but it’s also almost everything that makes me love the character so much. All Peter’s tragedies are skimmed over in this narrative. They only hint at Uncle Ben. There is no mention of his parents. His romance is second fiddle and given only a fleeting bit of interest. There is no chemistry between Parker and the movies go to girl. In fact, the emotion of this movie is almost all surrounding the simple nature of Pete trying to become the hero he wants to be in the eyes of Tony Stark and making mistakes. Which works quite wonderfully, but is not the rich subtext I’ve come to expect from this character.

Pushing that all aside and ignoring the preconceived notions of what I like best about the character, this movie is a blast! The idea of a young boy learning about his cool new powers and trying to be a superhero has never been this much fun to watch. Tom Holland plays Parker with an excitement that is infectious. He loves being Spider-Man as much as we love watching him be Spider-Man. He loves his suit, abilities, helping people, stopping bad guys, and really wants to be an Avenger. Which is totally awesome to watch! Especially when we are watching Parker’s private blog of the events in ‘Civil War’. He’s just consistently funny and filled with a wit that is so in tune with his comic book counterpart that you will likely hear tons of people call him their favorite version of the web swinger.

The plot for the film is also really well written and littered with a few good surprises. The prologue begins immediately after the events of the original ‘Avengers’ movie. The city of New York has contracted Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his crew to clean up part of the aftermath. Until members of a government organization swoop in and take over. The reasoning is clearly because they don’t want alien technology falling into the wrong hands, but by taking the job away from Toomes they also rip him of his livelihood. And so the Vulture is born.

The rest of the story is a cross between a John Hughes movie and a getting to know your powers origins movie, but free from most of the story origins stuff. Which means it’s pretty much just the fun stuff in an origins movie all rolled together and free from any of that pesky back story stuff. That doesn’t mean we don’t get loads of character development and some fun banter between Peter and his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon). There’s plenty of that. What it means is that Marvel doubles down on the smart ass teenager figuring out how to be a super hero bit and it makes for a lot of fun. Not a lot of substance, but lots of fun.

Where there is substance is in the adult characters. Keaton’s villain walks a great line between truly menacing and blue collar tragedy. Robert Downey Jr. gets a handful of sweet moments as the father figure who wants Peter to be better than him. But, most of the time it’s just Peter trying to prove himself by stopping a a flying monster guy. Which means that all the smart writing is in the twists and turns of the plot. Which is a wonderful thing and most will sing the praises of this new Spidey. I prefer my Spider-Man with a little emotion, but I’ll take fun as my conciliation prize this time around.

Nathan Ligon

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