timthumbGrade (95%)

“SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING” stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man as well as Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture. In addition to Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Laura Harrier and Jacob Batalon. It is directed by Jon Watts who last directed a small-budget film called “Cop Car” that came out in 2015 starring Kevin Bacon which I found very entertaining. But a Spider-Man movie is on another level so I was curious how he would put this together from a directorial aspect.

The plot in this one was fun. It wasn’t the traditional origins story that you would expect. But instead it follows the events after “Civil War.” Immediately after, as young Peter Parker must go from fighting with the Avengers on the airport tarmac, to being a normal kid in high-school dealing with all the common classmate politics. Peter is highly intelligent. Finds school boring in comparison to being a superhero of course. But he also must deal with all the common social dynamics kids go through in school. Yet at night he feels he must fight crime. To get that rush, and to most importantly, impress Tony Stark. But while doing so he crosses paths with Adrian Toomes, an arms dealer to say it simply, and in doing so Peter will come face-to-face with his first, true solo test.

I will not lie I have been so excited for this movie to come out. I absolutely loved what Marvel and Tom Holland did with the character. Giving him that young naivete that we expect from a kid. Something that none of the past films have ever been able to completely pull off. As well as create undeniable comedic charm that pull the character from the comic-book pages he was created on.

© Marvel Studios  © Sony Pictures Entertainment

Before watching this one I went back and watched the first “Spider-Man” from 2002, Tobey Maguire’s first outing. Despite thinking “Spider-Man 2” was a slightly better movie. I also went back and watched “The Amazing Spider-Man” from 2012, which was Andrew Garfield’s first stent as Spidey. So, during this film the comparisons to the past versions were fresh, and I will happily say that “Spider-Man: Homecoming” exceeds what we have seen in past films on many levels.

Tom Holland is the best representation of the character we have ever seen and he shines in the role. He has energy, charisma, personality, and that is what makes him thrive with this character. He is age appropriate, the dialogue is well tailored to that demographic and it results in fun organic humor that just feels believable. Parker wants to be part of something bigger and despite maybe not being ready, he still never loses his determination and you connect with his character through that. This script weaves a well-developed coming-of-age story-line into this superhero movie effectively and it was a great balance. Holland is charming in his performance, he was a great Peter Parker and an amazing Spider-Man, pun intended.

We all know every comic-book movie needs a villain and this one had an extremely good one. But maybe not a great one. Michael Keaton conveys the role very well. He delivers his dialogue at times with the old Michael Keaton intensity that I love. So for that aspect he was a formidable antagonist. But it did feel at times he got lost in the story. I would have liked a little more development to his character and maybe could have seen more of him. But he was fantastic in the screen-time he did have despite feeling like a routine character-type due to some thin substance.

© Marvel Studios  © Sony Pictures Entertainment

The performances from the cast all-around were great. The younger performers did a great job of feeling like real high-school kids and not like twenty-five-year-old’s sitting in social studies class. Harrier, Zendaya and Batalon all did a great job as Peter’s classmates and they all share a fun realistic chemistry with one another.

As for the story, like I said it was a nice balance of Peter coming-of-age as Spider-Man, his relationships with his classmates, his relationship with Stark, the villain-arc, and it was all woven together seamlessly for the most part. It also created some strong doses of fun humor that does what it sets out to do, make you laugh and keep a smile on your face. Which in the end helped make this such an engaging movie to watch.

Now let’s talk special-effects, action-sequences, and all the visual appeal. This movie completely delivers in that department in my opinion. The colors were crisp and vivid. The design of Vulture and his mechanical rigging were excellently done. As was Watt’s direction and shot selection. There was a nice blend of camera techniques that create the immersive experience you want in a comic-book movie. There was a nice blend of small-scale, and over-the-top action set-pieces that will have completely pulled into what is happening. All the while building some genuine tension. The web-slinging is as good as you would expect, and the balance of action throughout this film was well done to build you up as it progresses to the inevitable third-act climatic sequence.

© Marvel Studios  © Sony Pictures Entertainment

I also really like the incorporation of Tony Stark in this movie. He was in it enough to warrant his presence, and he didn’t simply feel like a cameo. But he wasn’t in it too much to keep this from feeling like Spider-Man’s solo film. Something I was happy to see as the story was wrapped around Parker himself, and not Parker and Stark.

If I had to mention and drawbacks to this one. They would be extremely nit-picky but I would have liked more development in the character of Adrian Toomes played by Keaton. He has some impactful moments in this movie and I think if his presence was more developed like say Willem Dafoe was as Norman Osborne it could have added a stronger element in that department. I also really did enjoy the story. But despite the fun humor, well-written dialogue, strong performances and great special-effects. This story still went down the Marvel story-formula checklist. It was again, very fun, but also surprisingly familiar at the same time as you watch and see the progression map out like they all sort of do.

But in the end “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a great film. It is definitely worth the theater experience, and I highly recommend it as Holland breathes new life into the character. There were some nice cameos and a solid incorporation of the MCU and it easily ranks number two on my list of “Spider-Man” films.