A key plot point in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the latest in a long string of reboots of the hero’s story, has Tony Stark/Iron Man trying to curtail the actions of the web-spinner. Although he was only 14 when called on to help the Avengers fight each other in “Captain America: Civil War,” the thinking now is that Peter Parker is too young to be facing deadly missions.
He’s been relegated to stopping bicycle thieves and helping old ladies. As Stark puts it, Parker should just be “a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”
That also summarizes the movie. This film is like a teenager with an expensive toy. This isn’t a spectacular tale of how Spider-Man learns to channel his feelings into positive energy but more about breaking dates, missing Spanish quizzes, letting down friends and being a social outcast. The movie could have been titled “Peter Parker: Homecoming.”
Such an approach doesn’t cripple the film but puts it more in a class with “Ant Man.” That means instead of using humor to support a dramatic action film, there are a few strong action scenes sprinkled through a film that often teeters on the verge of being goofy.
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Director Jon Watts shows his lack of experience with big action moviesas he gives more attention to the non-combat moments than the fight scenes. Expect to be underwhelmed by the big final showdown.
Overall, for every positive action in the script, there’s an equal and opposite negative action. Here are some examples:
▪ It was clever to cast Michael Keaton as the Vulture, the evil foe for Spider-Man. Keaton brings the same kind of intensity that he used to make the “Batman” movies of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s work so well. Counter that with the absurdity of Jacob Batalon’s role as Peter’s buddy, Ned. After he discovers Peter’s secret (which is obviously pretty easy to do), he almost gives it away multiple times.
▪ There’s a superb action scene where Spider-Man attempts to keep the two pieces of a ferry, split apart during a major battle, from falling apart. Later, those talents are fodder for jokes as Spider-Man finds himself locked inside a massive warehouse. Using webbing to spin a hammock is not that exciting.
▪ Spider-Man is a few years too young. It’s difficult to take a super hero seriously when his voice hasn’t changed. At least Tom Holland brings a boyish charm and energy to the role.
Some good action sequences and a solid villain mean “Spider-Man Homecoming” can be counted as a win for Marvel.
Rated PG-13 for action scenes. 2:13. Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Paris-Bourbon Drive-in, Richmond, Winchester.