12A – 133mins – 2017 – 3D
TURN OFF THE STARK
After five blockbuster movies taking place over two unrelated movie-verses with two separate casts and crews – all of which were released in the space of just twelve years – Marvel Comic’s friendly neighbourhood web-slinger has finally come home, in his first solo Marvel Cinematic Universe adventure following a triumphant cursory cameo in 2016’s Civil War.
Sensibly, rather than retell a third radioactive spider-bite origin story, Spider-Man: Homecoming instead spins off from the Avengers’ airport ruckus in Captain America 3, with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) – or, more often than not, his driver, Happy Hogan (Jon The Jungle Book Favreau) – taking the 15-year-old Peter Parker (Tom In the Heart of the Sea Holland) under his wing. Frustrated by begin kept at arm’s length during his “Stark internship,” Spidey spends his after-school downtime thwarting minor criminals in downtown Queens, forever hoping to receive a call to arms from Iron Man.
When salvage company owner Adrian Toomes (Michael Porco Rosso Keaton) smuggles dangerous alien tech from his government-impeded recovery job following 2012’s Battle of New York, he and his colleagues decide to modify their powerful findings into weapons and apparatus that can aid their criminal agenda. Stumbling upon their nefarious plot, Peter decides to go it alone and prove his worth to the Avengers by taking down the man the media has dubbed “Vulture.”
A lot has been made of the John Hughes vibe to Homecoming‘s depiction of Peter’s high school experiences, and it is a fair comparison: Peter is a decathlon team member with only one true friend (the irrepressibly endearing geek Ned, played by Jacob Batalon) and a seemingly secret, unrequited crush on popular senior Liz Allan (Laura Harrier). He’s not a jock, he’s regularly teased and he’s struggling to balance superhero crime fighting with regular teenage activities such as detention, house parties and the upcoming homecoming dance.
From an ungainly writing team of SIX, it is impressive how harmonious and well-balanced Homecoming feels. The MCU bigshots who so garishly dominated the poster campaign are delicately used and never overshadow the title character, while Adrian Toomes makes for a refreshingly grounded villain. He’s not an alien monster hell-bent on enslaving humanity, just a working class joe who grabbed an extraordinary opportunity when his chips were down.
From scaling the Washington Monument to surviving the death-dive of an invisible plane, via saving a ferry shorn in half by a malfunctioning weapon, the action sequences are bold, intense and escalate to an eye-popping crescendo. Spider-Man: Homecoming has it all: love, laughs (“I was looking at… porn,”), drama, conflict, tension, character arcs, glorious special effects and large-scale superhero battles. It could so easily have been another overblown, convoluted mess (hello Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2), but Marvel Studios have once again proven they have an enviable knack for spinning gold in this tonally-troublesome genre.
CR@B’s Claw Score: