Jon Watts’ “SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING”
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Overproduced Marvel superhero movies tend to bore me so I approached Spiderman: Homecoming with some skepticism.
What a pleasant surprise! Director Watts and his team have concocted a complex and satisfying comedy-drama-action film that operates effectively on a smaller (and more human) level than the overcharged Avengers films. What’s also impressive about this film is that it deals so effectively with “typical“ teenage concerns including home, family, school, young romance, and the high school homecoming dance. Yet it all seems fresh and real (or, as real as a budding superhero being mentored by Iron Man/Tony Stark can be).
Another plus is the performances. Young Spiderman (Tom Holland) is charmingly awkward. His high school sidekick (Jacob Batalon) is suitably nerdy. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) operates with dialed down snark as he mentors the young man. Best of all is the bad guy played with ruthless efficiency by Michael Keaton. While Keaton spends much of his screen time in a flying suit or behind a mask, when he’s operating out in the open his character’s malevolence is palpable.
Despite its focus on smaller scale criminality and evil (compared with the Avengers predilection for city-leveling destruction) there are some top-notch action sequences. My favorite is an amazingly choreographed sequence on the Staten Island Ferry that has to be seen to be believed.
There also is a positive message being sent here to young people. Peter Parker may live simply with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) but he attends a public science-and-tech high school populated by one of the most multicultural and diverse student populations I’ve seen. Everyone is unapologetically “geeky” at this high school, starting with the captain of the Academics Team (Laura Harrier) upon whom Peter has a major adolescent crush; her family plays a pivotal role in the plot of the film.
My complaints about the film are few. Some of the night-time action sequences go on a bit too long. Danny Glover’s character appears only minimally. Plus, there is a modest amount of swearing that might put off some parents.
Review copyright © 2017 by Dennis D. McDonald