Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Diary of a Teenage Superhero

Our friendly neighborhood web-slinger returns to the big screen once again in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming,’ the second reboot and third Spidey film franchise in the last 15 years.  The first trilogy from ‘Evil Dead’ writer/producer/director Sam Raimi starring Tobey Maguire was an unqualified success even if the last film fizzled out, but the reboot with Andrew Garfield as the wise-cracking superhero disappointed both critically and commercially and was canceled after just two installments.  This prompted Sony Pictures, which owns the rights to the title as long as they keep rebooting it every 10 years or so, to collaborate with Marvel Studios and properly integrate Spider-Man into the rich and highly successful MCU.  It turned out to be one of the best decisions Sony ever made (are you listening, ‘Fantastic Four’ rights owner 20th Century Fox?).
After his well-received debut in ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ Tom Holland takes over the mantle in the brand spanking new franchise as the youngest Spider-Man to date.  Holland’s Peter Parker is only a geeky 15-year old navigating through the minefields of adolescence and high school like any other teenager, except he’s not your typical high school sophomore.  After his brief stint as a probationary Avenger on “Team Iron Man” in ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ Peter Parker is eager to further develop his crime-fighting skills on the not-so-mean streets of Queens, New York, but his mentor Iron Man just told him to “settle down and get back to school, kid.”  It’s like giving a kid his first taste of ice-cream and then taking it away.  Not to be discouraged, Spider-Man keeps patrolling the neighborhood and is finally rewarded for his perseverance when he stumbles upon the arms-dealing schemes of the Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his henchmen, who came across some cool Chitauri tech while pulling clean-up duty after the Battle of New York in the first Avengers movie until Tony Stark’s Department of Damage Control rudely stepped in and took over jurisdiction.
The verdict is in.  ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is a refreshing take on my favorite Marvel superhero.  It is entertaining, fun and a highly promising start to a Spider-Man franchise that had gone stale for so long.  Tom Holland (who first opened my eyes in this moving film: The Impossible) is great and bestows Peter Parker version 3.0 with a wide-eyed wonder and youthful exuberance we haven’t seen to this extent before.  He’s also terrible at keeping his identity a secret, as you’ll see throughout the movie (and the last line in the movie is classic).  But let’s cut the kid some slack shall we?  He’s new at this superhero gig.

Grade: A

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