21-27 July 2017 #868

Spider-Man: Homecoming

The main problem with this film is that it doesn’t vault over the boundaries of age and appeal to adults in the same way that it is great for teenagers
Sophia Pande

Peter Parker is back again, and while that may not raise your pulse rate, this Spider-Man reboot (the third since 2002) is just a little bit different, thankfully, than the uber-earnest iterations helmed by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who made three and two Spidey films respectively in the course of the last 15 years. Unfortunately, Tom Holland as this Spider-Man, while strong enough as a lead, must also contend with a film that is written for teenagers and is therefore just that bit grating if you are not actually from said demographic.

Spider-Man: Homecoming deals with Peter Parker’s return to the Big Apple after he partakes of the mad and wonderful excitement of the Marvel Universe, joining the Avengers in the finale of Captain America: Civil War (2016) where he makes his fighting debut while yammering in excitement at top speed, a quality that was endearing but quickly becomes fairly unbearable in a film just about him.

Filmed with professional ease and filled with wonderful characters such as the lovely, warm Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, and of course, Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark, Jon Favreau as his loyal assistant Happy Hogan, and Jacob Batalon as Ned, Parker’s nerdy best buddy, the film could have certainly done with less screen time for Parker, and more for his hilarious supporting cast.

The main problem with this film is that it doesn’t vault over the boundaries of age and appeal to adults in the same way that it is great for teenagers. Parker is infuriatingly self-absorbed and stays that way for most of the film while we grit our teeth at his ineptitude (yes he is just 15, but surely there is a limit to bumbling) and wait until he sorts himself out… right at the end.

At 2 hours and 13 minutes the film is way longer than it has any right to be, and as Parker gets his suit yanked away from him by Stark and finally learns to “be a man,” we slowly wake from our stupor to pay attention because we know the finale will include the spark that is Downey Jr in his most famous, likeable bad boy role.

I still don’t understand why there was a need for this Spider-Man film but I guess it isn’t a dead loss. There are some surprises here, including an unexpected role for Parker’s long time love MJ, who is set up as an interesting character but doesn’t reveal herself till the very end.

Meanwhile, there are the usual American high school mean kids (does this really happen in the US? If so, god help all those children), a fairly banal evil dude, and some fun stuff from the Spidey suit’s AI that keep us sane through Parker’s fumbling; just enough to not walk out during the intermission — a painful ordeal in Nepal, seemingly tailored to an already noisy audience who giggle and talk loudly and pick up their cell phones during films as if the theatre is a personal space instead of a public one where mutual respect might benefit all.

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