SHORT TAKE: The light mood, the clever story, the genuineness of Tom Holland, and the mesmerizing acting skills of Michael Keaton make this the perfect Spiderman movie – at last. SWING – don’t just walk – to go see this terrific installment into the super hero genre.
Well, they finally got it right. Took them three tries but Tom Holland is the perfect web swinger. Far far better than the angst and guilt ridden weepy Toby McGuire. And Andrew Garfield was simply miscast. Too mature for the part, Garfield was to Spidey what Eric Stolz was to Back to the Future – not bad in and of himself but just wrong for the part. Garfield was brilliant in the historical drama Hacksaw Ridge but a massive damper to what was supposed to be a comic book super hero movie.
Holland’s Peter Parker is a kid, fresh faced, eager, innocent, and smart. The kind of young man you’d want to ask your daughter to the prom. He commits acts of casual kindness without thinking about it just because he couldn’t imagine behaving any other way.
It’s tough to write a blog for a movie you really like because you’re just DYING to tell spoilers but you know you can’t. But I will say this movie is a major success for the same reason Wonder Woman was – it harkens back to the wide-eyed, principled, truth-justice-and the American Way hero that Christopher Reeves personified in Superman (1978).
I will be careful to not give anything away because I want you to see this movie, but think of a kid – a really nice kid – who just happens to have super powers, who has a rich genius for a sponsor, and what could happen as a result, and you get the idea of the direction the plot will go.
Robert Downey Jr. does a great job of being Tony Stark – the favorite and somewhat indulgent uncle figure – but is only icing on this cake and neither steals the show nor upstages his eager young space cadet. Peter’s friend Ned is simply adorable as played by Jacob Batalon. Both he and Holland plays KIDS – not cynical adults pretending to be children, but like your favorites of your kids’ friends. Marisa Tomei does a good job as a far younger Aunt May – and as I heard one Youtuber note it IS AUNT May NOT GRANNY May, so —- why not? There are a number of small parts and cameos I will not give away. And I will not likely ever think of anyone else as Spiderman than Holland. He has made Spiderman his own.
But you know it’s a good movie when you even like the villain. I must give MASSIVE kudos to Michael Keaton. Creating the initial tone in the Batman that became Dark Knight, then his amazing turn as the psychotic (or superpowered???) Birdman. Now he dips into the same flighted super powered well a third time as the similarly titled Vulture. Only, like Mary Poppins who could pour three times out of the same medicine bottle and get three entirely different flavors of delicious syrup, Michael Keaton has managed, over the last 28 years, to ladle from the same source three completely different brilliant memorable and distinct personas. It is a testament to his performance that you like this guy against your will and have to force yourself to root more for Parker than for him.
The colors and tones of the movie are bright and comic book-like, and the humor is genuine and comes from the art of being a normal teenaged boy.
But the true hero in Spiderman: Homecoming is the fact that FINALLY some of the super hero movies are going back to their roots. The ones that do seem to be now the only mainstream movie media lionizing, espousing and advocating for true virtue in their main characters. And this is why the ideal-starved audiences are voting with their paychecks and rightly making these movies blockbusters.
Here comes the Spiderman – long may he swing.
P.S. With the tragic and untimely passing of Anton Yelchin, I can not help but wonder if Holland could, perhaps, step into the shoes Yelchin left so sadly empty and take over the parts of both Star Trek’s ernest and steadfast Ensign Chekov and Koontz’ melancholic and innocent psychic Odd Thomas that Yelchin had filled so beautifully.