BY ROGER THOMAS
Let me start by saying that “Yes, I know, the new Spider-Man actually appeared in “Captain America: Civil War.” So if you are counting, you may want to say seven films, but my title only covers the films where “Spidey” is the lead.
For me, the newest Spider-Man film has some significant strengths, and a few weaknesses.
First, I like the Tom Holland’s portrayal of the web-slinger. Holland is twenty-one, but he looks much younger. In one scene Peter Parker tells someone that he is fifteen, and that is how he looks. That is good because we should have at least one more film with Holland before he outgrows his high school appearance.
I also like his energy as Spidey. There is a lot of humor and action related to his acrobatics and his accidents. Overall, of the three actors to play Spidey, Holland’s version seems the one who is happiest to be a superhero.
The film also looks great; the city scenes, the Washington Monument event, and many other moments are quite impressive.
“Spider-Man” also has some fine supporting characters. Jason Batalon plays Peter’s best friend Ned. The scene where he finds out that Peter is a superhero is one of the best in the film. Unfortunately, it has been repeated in trailers so it is not a surprise. Laura Harrier is Peter’s love interest in this film; she is a beautiful young lady and does fine work though she does not have as prominent a role as previous Spidey love interests. Academy Award winning actress Marisa Tomei has the role of Aunt May; she does not have a lot to do in this film, but she is always a welcomed presence in any film. Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr., appears several times. Then there is Michael Keaton as this film’s villain, he is very successful at being menacing. So young Tom Holland has plenty of talent around him as he swings into the title role.
The cast is certainly not a problem, however there are a few things that should have been altered.
First, the film is too long. At two hours and fifteen minutes, there should have been some extra editing. There is an incident at the Washington Monument. That scene is very good as Spider-Man strives to save the day. But almost right behind the Monument scene there is a ferry incident where Spidey once again tries to save the day. I thought back to back rescues was a bit much.
There is also a twist in the film that I caught before it was revealed. I wish I had been surprised, but alas, it is a cliche that is often used in films. Maybe, if I did not see as so many films, I would not be expecting those twists. Or else, the filmmakers could just be more clever. I vote for that latter.
Another complaint I have is the title. Why call a film “Spider-Man: Homecoming” when the Homecoming scene last less that five minutes.
Finally, I wish the film had slowed down a little bit. I listed several characters above; all of them could have been developed more. Tom Holland has taken the role in a new direction. In the upcoming sequel, which we know there will be one, maybe we can get to know Peter and all the supporting players a little bit more.
Do not be mistaken. I enjoyed the film overall. It is certainly better than several of the “Super Hero” genre that have filled our screens so often lately. I am looking forward to the next chapter and I hope the filmmakers embrace everything that worked in this film, and abandon a few other things.
Finally, if I rank the “Spider-Man” films overall, the first two Tobey McGuire films are the best. Better than those two, that’s the goal for Holland’s next film.
Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.