When Marvel scooped up the rights to Spider Man from Sony Pictures, a fair share of the movie-loving public nodded their heads in approval. At long last, the mighty MCU was going to reintroduce a popular character; it's like inviting the nerdy kid into your party after sending the invitation to the wrong address.
But that wasn't going to be enough to rescue the Spider Man film franchise from the absolute boredom that had swallowed up the last two films and the hopelessness packing that was "Spider Man 3". You had to get the right players to wear the armor, generate the swagger and remember that, at the end of the day, fun must be had by the audience.
Thankfully for fans of the superhero and movie fans in general, Director Jon Watts and star Tom Holland have taken the dirty laundry of this story and given it a fresh clean, rebooting it in an energetic fashion that could spill over into a few more sequels. "Spider Man: Homecoming" is an easy-to-like, slick blockbuster with a great cast, smart setup and a healthy sense of humor. The overbearing sadness that weighed down the Tobey Maguire films is gone and a lightness that helped launch Iron Man has taken its place.
What's the plot? For the first time in too long, "Homecoming" skips the overcooked origin story and jumps right in with an inventive twist to pass the time between "Civil War" and this adventure. Why go over the same strokes when there are new players in the game? One of those players is a guy named Adrian Thomas (Michael Keaton, chewing scenery with pride while channeling his "Birdman" persona), who recycled alien weapons from the first Avengers rescue in New York to create his own evil empire. Spidey, under the watchful eye of Tony Stark (a smooth operating Robert Downey Jr.) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau, collecting more screen time without the dreaded directing responsibilities), gets in Adrian aka Vulture's way and a fight breaks out in New York.
Marisa Tomei's Aunt May is a welcoming presence as the woman in Peter's life, and Jacob Batalon gives a little extra to the best friend role.
Holland is the real deal! He is the first actor to produce a high quality Peter Parker and Spider Man. Maguire, whom I don't have a liking for, created a quirky Parker, but failed to deliver a reliable crime fighter. Andrew Garfield had the opposite luck, so seeing the young Brit take over the role here and applying a fresh coat of paint is the key to its success. Unlike Captain America ( who makes a few comical cameo appearances), Spider Man can't rely on blitzing brawn and sheer honor. After all, Parker is just a kid learning to conquer supernatural abilities.
Getting an indie director to helm the film was a signature stroke, and Watts (known for the Kevin Bacon-starring "Cop Car") injects the right amount of street thug cool to the story without overpowering the agenda at hand, and that's fun. He gave "Cop Car" a great eye for cinematography, but here he's just applying excitement to the table and letting the audience's visual needs do the dishes.
There's a lot of easy-to-please fun here, starting with a robbery that Parker breaks up between fake Avengers, an action packed sequences with a helicopter and an ending that teases more fun to come without tipping the cup of goods over completely.
The two-hour and 15-minute running time is a tad too much, and the pacing loses its way in the middle. A plot twist to the side, Keaton's villain doesn't make a real dent in the story like previous bad guys, but also doesn't embarrass himself. This isn't the best superhero film in years; it's just a smartly crafted flick that is easy on the eyes and won't make you think.
The best thing that Holland and Watts do is not take the story too seriously, instead, making the July adventure everything you wanted in a Spider Man film 17 years ago. While it may not beat out "Spider Man 2" thanks to Alfred Molina's amazing work, "Homecoming" is a kick in the right directi , and should be another huge Marvel success.
"Spider Man: Homecoming" erases the nasty taste of the last three lousy Spidey films while leaving some meat on the bone for upcoming adventures. It proves that Marvel is hard to beat and that the right director/actor combo can eradicate any past failure.