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Review – Spider-Man: Homecoming


FILM REVIEW – SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMINGWith Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau. Written by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers. Directed by Jon Watts. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments. 133 minutes.

spiderman_homecomingSpider-Man has always been the problem child of the Marvel cinematic family. While most of the Marvel Comics characters are now under the control of Marvel Studios (owned by Disney), Spider-Man had been licensed to Columbia Pictures. Thus we had the popular, if overpraised, series with Tobey Maguire as the webslinger, but when he and director Sam Raimi left the series, the studio was obligated to keep making Spider-Man films or lose the character. So we got the reboot with Andrew Garfield which pretended the earlier films never happened.

Now, however, Columbia and Marvel have come to an agreement where Columbia can continue to have the Spider-Man films in partnership with Marvel Studios, which leads to this new incarnation in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. Spider-Man is now played by Tom Holland, who was introduced in last year’s “Captain America: Civil War.” The significance of this for Marvel fans is that Spider-Man can now interact with the other Marvel characters, so that Tony Stark, a/k/a Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), can appear here as his mentor, along with Stark’s aide Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).

For those who find such things fascinating, this new film is an important piece of Marvel history. However for those expecting a coherent story, it’s quite another matter. An incredible six (!) credited writers have created a hodgepodge where the basic theme is that young Peter Parker–back in high school–has a long way to go before he’s ready to assume full responsibilities as Spider-Man.

Take the film’s villain, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton). He’s put a lot of money into his salvage operation, cleaning up the mess at Stark’s headquarters after the battles in a previous film. Suddenly, an agency comes in and says he’s out, they’re taking over, tough luck. And so he turns to crime, illegally stealing alien artifacts and selling them on the black market. He’s a victim of bureaucracy who suddenly becomes an arch-villain called the Vulture. Why? Because it said so in the comic books.

The comedy elements are uneven. On the one hand, we get Peter learning how his new suit (courtesy of Stark) works, as well dealing with the problems of being a high school student. On the other hand is his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), who seems to have been written as the Jar Jar Binks of the story, needlessly making things worse. The biggest joke may be unintentional. Viewers of all the previous movies may find it amusing how Aunt May seems to have discovered the Fountain of Youth. Once played by Rosemary Harris, who was 75 at the time of “Spider-Man” (2002), she was succeeded by Sally Field, who was 66 in “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012). Here she’s become Marisa Tomei, age 53. At this rate Aunt May will soon be younger than her nephew.

If you’re a fan of the character or the Marvel Universe, then you’ll be seeing “Spider-Man: Homecoming” regardless of any review. Holland is a bit fidgety in the role but is able to bring out the youthful inexperience of the character. Perhaps he’ll grow into the role. We can only hope. They’ve already announced a sequel for 2019.•••

North Shore Movies has given this film a score of 2.5 out of 5.Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His latest novel is Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

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About Daniel M. Kimmel

Film critic, author, lecturer.

29 responses »

  1. 53 is a perfect age for an aunt, especially for a 15-year-old kid. Your sexist remarks are ridiculous and have no place in our society. Go back to 1920.

    Reply
    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      It’s not sexist. It’s a fact. Go check the comics. Aunt May looks a lot more like Rosemary Harris than Marisa Tomei. Don’t blame the messenger if you don’t like reality. Leave that to Trump.

      Reply
  2. fixing a mistake the comics made all those years ago is a bad thing? most kids in high school have parents in there 40s and 50s. Rosemary was in her mid to late 70s.

    I have more of a problem with Diane Lane (52) playing Cavills (37) mother, a 15 year difference. than i do with the 21 year old difference Tomei and Hollands

    Reply
    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      That’s your assumption that it was a “mistake.” And it wasn’t the age difference between the characters. Jessie Royce Landis played Cary Grant’s mother in “North by Northwest” and they were about the same age. It was about Hollywood casting the character younger and younger instead of staying true to the source.

      Reply
      • Why should the movie follow the comic books? Why can’t the movie stand on its own and have its own variations? 53 is a good age for May considering Peter is in high school. If you want to read the comic books, read them. If you want to watch the movie, then do so, but understand they can be different. I would say that the movie is staying true to its source since marvel has been making their movies as variations, in their own universe, separate from the comics. This has been a fact since the MCU started with Iron Man in 2008.

  3. LOL

    This guy is such a joke that he gives the move a bad review based on the age of a supporting character.

    Have you seen the other reviews for this movie? Congrats..you just lost the tiny amount of credibility you had as a film critic.

    Reply
    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      You obviously haven’t seen my review if all you’re going by is the blurb.

      Reply
      • Maybe you should have chosen a blurb that reflected how you felt about the movie and not just your observation about Aunt May’s age which is completely inconsequential to the quality of the film, unless it was done intentionally just to troll RT users and get people to click through to your review.

      • Daniel M. Kimmel

        Maybe you should get a life. It was an observation about a seriously flawed film. It was not intended to sum up the entire review, nor am I obligated to do so.

      • I agree with Ryan. Also, maybe YOU should get a life. It’s pretty pathetic resorting to telling someone they should ‘get a life’ because they pointed out the fact that the blurb about Aunt May was entirely click-baity, it’s the only reason I’m even posting here.

      • Daniel M. Kimmel

        Actually, if your life is so empty that you have to post about how you didn’t like an observation in a movie review, you DO need to get a life.

        It was an observation about Hollywood casting in a movie that is an incoherent mess but is being praised by many. Doesn’t bother me. I go with the RT pack two-thirds to three-quarters of the time, but don’t feel I have to offer anything but my take on the movie, not conform to what the majority says.

        But then this isn’t about my reviews. It’s about how I didn’t like a movie that you did, and how you can’t deal with it.

  4. What a dumb thing to bitch about. Remind me to never read one of your reviews again.

    Reply
  5. Why? Because it said so in the comic books.

    you do realize this is a superhero movie adapted from comic books, right?

    Reply
    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Of course. That was my point. The movie failed to supply sufficient motivation for the character and relied on the fact that he was a supervillain in the comic book and therefore we simply had to take it at face value. But while a movie can be loyal to the source material it can’t rely on the source material to do the work for it. The film needed something more for his motivation than that he got screwed out of a job.

      Reply
      • And Yet you were unhappy with the casting of Aunt May because it didn’t “stay true” to the comics. Huh.

      • Daniel M. Kimmel

        Where did I say that? What I did was note that they were making her younger and younger, in contrast to the comic book.

  6. Given that you spent more time discussing May’s age than the lead actor’s actual performance, it’s a more than reasonable critique of a pretty ridiculous review. You can’t brush off the motivation behind the Vulture’s character as being “Because it said so in the comic book,” and then stand by the comic as the absolute arbiter of what the movie should be. (Apologies if you didn’t mean the Vulture comment as a criticism. Your “uneven hodgepodge” of a review wasn’t exactly coherent.)

    It just doesn’t make a lot of sense for May to be that much older than Peter. Changing that doesn’t make it a “joke,” it makes it more relatable and realistic, and adds substantially to the dynamic between the characters. Shame on them for trying something different in the fifth Spider-Man movie, I guess.

    Reply
    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Don’t they teach reading comprehension any longer? My comment on the Vulture WAS criticism — that the character’s motivation was not fully developed in the movie and that was supposed to be okay because he was a “classic” supervillain from the comics and we shouldn’t need any further explanation.

      Reply
  7. Your review could also be considered uneven… on the one hand you complain about the Vulture as a villain, because “it said so in a comic book.” Then you complain because Aunt May is so young because it basically doesn’t follow the comic close enough. Also as a father of three teens, teens are fidgety. The most unrealistic part of the movie was a senior girl taking and sophomore boy to homecoming, that’s saying something in a comic book movie.

    Reply
    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Again, my complaint about the Vulture was that the movie took it for granted that we didn’t need to know much about his motivation because he came from the comics, so simply getting screwed out of a job was enough to turn him into a supervillain. I couldn’t buy it.

      Your point about the senior girl/sophomore boy is well taken. I noticed that but didn’t comment in the review.

      Reply
      • he didn’t just get screwed out a job, he sold everything he had for the job. also he didn’t immediately become a super villain, he initially just wanted to support his family using the alien technology to steal stuff. he became a super villain because Spiderman was becoming a big problem. also your criticism of aunt Amy’s age is absurd. The movies are set in a totally different universe from the comics. The movies can change whatever they want and in this case it was good they changed may’s age. She’s supposed to be an aunt, not a grandma. It makes sense that she’d be in her fifties rather than her seventies. Finally, your whole review is uneven and doesn’t do anything other than point out aunt May’s age and the vulture’s lack of sufficient motivation. Your rating for the movie is the exact rating I’d give your review.

      • SpiderMan essentially threatened his way of life following his every arms deal and potentially exposing himself to his innocent family: “I’d do anyhting for my family” he says
        His motivation was thouroughly explained from the beginning through the end…

      • Daniel M. Kimmel

        It was his motivation to become a criminal arms dealer that I questioned, not protecting his family.

  8. You lost all your credibility in this review.

    Reply
    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Translation: “You didn’t like a film I liked, and I don’t know how to handle a difference of opinion.”

      Reply

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