Saturday, July 8, 2017

Spider-Man: A Friendly, Neighborhood Reboot

Tom Holland as a perfect teenage Spider-Man.
I just saw Spider-Man Homecoming with Jordan and Jake, and loved it.
This is a high school sophomore Spidey, largely too immature to handle the great responsibilities inherent in great power but with a lot of a heart. That reminds me pleasantly of the earliest Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comic books while also managing to refresh the somewhat overworked superhero genre by marrying it to another popular movie genre: the teenage comedy.
And Tom Holland is perfect for that, an actor whose every earnest gesture both charms and rings true.
The villains in these superhero films have been becoming progressively more relatable, building up to Michael Keaton as the Vulture, a working-class antagonist who has what is finally a largely legitimate point of view. He’s right when he tells Peter Parker that, good lad though he is, there are things about adult existence that he does not yet understand.
The film is perfectly integrated into the larger Marvel universe, another aspect that reflects the earliest comics. Iron Man, Captain America, Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts all show up. The dialogue is also peppered with understated references to familiar Marvel characters and events. The Vulture’s high-tech flying equipment springs logically from the alien and robot invasions that we’ve already seen the Avengers fight off, and that makes good sense.
Although the comedic aspects of some of the hero’s early fights were overly belabored — Spider-Man is not that inept — I found the film to be genuinely suspenseful in a way that none of the lame Andrew Garfield vehicles were. Because young Peter Parker is really out of his depth, the sense of danger is heightened.

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