I’m nothing without the suit.
If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.
I really enjoyed the Spider-Man material in Captain America: Civil War, so I was kind of surprised to feel myself getting less and less interested in Homecoming as it approached. I saw it pretty late (last Marvel movie I went to on opening weekend was Doctor Strange and we all know how THAT turned out; Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain indeed) and despite some serious flaws, I’m mostly positive on the film. Holland is good as was to be expected after Civil War; his exuberance never really flags and it’s kind of amazing that he keeps it up for two hours with it only occasionally getting a little wearying. Downey Jr. brings a lot of charm to his role, but also a serious responsibility; I’ve heard people say he’s coasting here – I don’t think I’d agree. I’m comfortable calling Jacob Batalon’s performance as Peter’s friend, Ned, absolutely star-making, though I rather doubt Hollywood will see it that way. Michael Keaton is really, really good in his role; he brings a working class edge to his blunt character but also a conman’s smarts about how to play that part most to his benefit. He’s a guy who makes speeches about being working class and screwed over by the wealthy while living in a house about thirty times the size of Peter’s apartment and we’re never quite sure whether he actually believes his own BS or if he’s just slinging it to keep other people off balance. Jennifer Connelly deserves a mention for managing to build real rapport and chemistry with Holland as the voice of the new spider-suit, Karen. The Peter-Karen relationship is really witty and charming. The rest of the cast is really good all the way down: Zendaya, Martin Starr, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Donald Glover, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Logan Marshall Green, Angourie Rice . . . these are all perfectly pitched performances. And kudos to Chris Evans for giving his hokiest performance as Captain America in a series of genuinely laugh-out-loud funny PSA type videos and to the movie for giving us the best post-credits scene in ages. It’s really canny of the movie to bring both Tony Stark & Captain America back in pretty endearing roles. The Team Cap-Team Iron Man stuff got surprisingly heavy when Civil War came out, mostly because I think most audience members were shocked at just how emotionally dark Civil War got. Using them both here in a likable way is a nice way to get audiences feeling friendly toward both of them again; it’ll be interesting to see the two meet on screen again, but at the moment, I think it’s actually kind of important to make sure audience members don’t carry any hard feelings and I think this movie really nails that.
As for the less stellar things, I think probably the biggest problem in the film is that Watts, mostly an indie director, doesn’t know how to stage complicated action sequences or at least fight sequences. None of the fights work and they build to a really unpleasant battle on and around an airplane that is chaotic, incomprehensible and every bit as ugly as the Doomsday fight in BvS. The character stuff is always great in these movies, but the action sequences are still important and this movie whiffs on all of them. The only exception is an action sequence that isn’t a fight and that’s the sequence at the Washington Monument. It’s a nice way of exploring Peter’s weaknesses (just because you can climb walls doesn’t mean you can climb walls THAT high) and it’s genuinely vertigo-inducing. It’s really the only time in the film that I felt any actual danger; it really worked the fear of heights angle and had my heart pumping. It’s worth noting again that this sequence is really simple, so Watts can handle it. The film is absolutely too long at well over two hours, but all things considered, it’s a fun romp that re-establishes the reasons why the Spider-Man character is so enduring and there are definitely a lot of nice character touches and scenes. It’s neither, as many people have been saying, the best Spider-Man movie or the best MCU movie; it’s a solid, if mostly unremarkable, entry in the MCU. I guess they can’t all be great, not at the pace the studio’s churning them out, but one would hope they would be really good and this one doesn’t quite crack that even, but it’s a fun diversion while waiting for the next great one. 3 stars.
tl;dr – Spider-Man is back and plenty of fun with a load of great performances; direction is pretty sloppy however and, good as it is, it could have been a lot better. 3 stars.