Movie Review - Spider-Man: Homecoming
By Felix Quinonez
August 3, 2017
In contrast, for all its flaws, it’s hard to deny the fact that at the center of the Amazing Spider-Man movies there was a genuinely moving relationship between Peter and Gwen. (Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone) The two of them had palpable chemistry, and the movie actually shows them falling for one another. And because of that, their relationship is the heart of those movies.
Another slight disappointment from the cast was Flash Thompson. (Tony Revolori) A lot was made of the fact that Revolori, an actor of Guatemalan descent, would be playing a character that has normally been portrayed as a white jock. And it seemed like it would be an important role. But it almost feels like more time was spent on casting the character than developing him.
He is just a typical, one-note bully whose motivations to pick on Peter, if he has any, are never made clear. The closest it comes to revealing anything resembling depth for the character is that he seems a bit jealous of Peter. And while that may be more than enough motivation for a high school student, it again fails to add anything interesting to the story.
On the other hand, in The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s clear that Flash (Chris Zylka) is actually lashing out because he’s hurting. And when Peter’s uncle dies, he tries to reach out to him, the way a genuine person, not a one-note character, would. And by the end of that movie, they actually seem to be on a path to becoming friends.
And although Michael Keaton is generally entertaining and has some strong scenes, at times he veers too closely to a cliché comic book villain. And his motivations seem too vague to ever really make a big impact. There is also a big reveal in the end of the movie that fails to create the suspense that it shoots for.
Without getting into spoilers, the movie tries to create a personal connection between Peter and Toomes (Keaton) but it feels too contrived. It aims for heartfelt emotion but falls painfully short of its mark.
And at times, there seems to be two different stories fighting for control of the movie. There is the more typical superhero movie that, while entertaining, is never as fun or moving as the John Hughes-like high school drama that lies beneath the surface.
Not surprisingly, Spider-Man: Homecoming fits perfectly in the MCU wheelhouse. Homecoming is an expertly crafted superhero movie that hits all of the right notes. There is plenty of suspense, slick action, and a lot of humor. Spidey, swings, fights and does whatever a spider can in exhilarating set pieces. But in these parts, the movie seems to be working within a mold rather than breaking out of it.
It’s when the movie deals with the teenage life and problems of Peter Parker that Homecoming really comes alive. It’s impossible not to care about Peter and his friends and feel invested in their lives. And the movie manages to make a decathlon competition seem like one of the most exciting parts of the movie.
In fact, the scene when Spider-Man has to save his classmates at the Washington monument is arguably just as exciting as the climactic final battle/Plane rescue scene (although that was pretty amazing too). And watching Peter get help from Ned, “the man in the chair” is easily one of the movie’s highlights and something that could never be found in any other MCU movie.
Unfortunately, like Amazing Spider-Man 2 before it, at times it seems that Homecoming gets too preoccupied with setting up future spin offs. The movie gives us cameos of Shocker, Mac Gargan AKA Scorpion and even Aaron Davis (Donald Glover.) In the comics, Davis eventually becomes the Prowler, but he is also the uncle of Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man. So even his seemingly casual mention of a nephew is actually the movie’s calculated attempt to plant seeds for future installments. But at least they weren’t as blatant this time around.
Another odd choice was to have Peter’s suit include an AI. Although it provided some funny moments, it almost seems a bit contradictory. As a rookie, Peter is prone to making a lot of mistakes, which he learns from. And those lessons are a very important part of Peter’s journey to becoming a hero. But because the AI provides an unnecessary safety net, it almost negates a defining aspect of the character.
Ultimately, Homecoming is an exciting new chapter for the character that manages to course correct after the previous iteration’s missteps. It’s fun and full of humor even if it doesn’t necessarily register on an emotional level.
-- Felix Quinonez Jr. is an independent comic book creator living in Brooklyn, NY.
His self-published comic books and graphic novel have been sold in stores in NYC and online. He is the co-editor and contributor of a comic book Anthology called Emanata. That book features the work of many other talented creators from all around the country. You can check out his comic books and read more of his writing at The Neon Bulletin