Cinematic Releases: Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) - Reviewed

"Stay low to the ground."

It is this simple statement that defines Jon Watts' Spiderman: Homecoming, and the film's genuine, loving adherence to this concept is what propels the film to the upper echelons of Marvel's Cinematic Universe. Breaking with the genre traditions of mass destruction, ill-defined villains, and action focused storytelling, Homecoming zeroes in on the street level struggles of a world in which larger than life personas do battles in the skies above while blue collar criminals struggle to survive and adolescent would-be heroes try to harmonize the responsibilities of childhood with the consequences of taking a stand against darkness.

In the aftermath of the first Avengers, Adrian Toomes builds a criminal empire fusing Chitari technology with human weaponry. Meanwhile, Peter Parker struggles to prove himself to Tony Stark, and his quest puts him into a life or death conflict that threatens to undo everything he's worked for. The screenplay (thankfully) skips the origin story and places the viewer right into the action. Parker is still in training mode, learning to master his Stark-made suit and how to balance his nocturnal crime fighting with the normality of everyday life. Everything is toned down, focusing on the breaths in between the apocalyptic showdowns of the previous films to present an organic world that is the byproduct of the Avenger's actions. This is symbolized in a hilarious chase scene in which the casualties are picket fences and backyard sleepovers, wonderfully contrasting the mega destruction that, until now has been essential, and it's punctuated with a perfectly placed homage. Homage is the key to Watts' vision, and while there are Easter eggs and cameos aplenty, everything is gently woven into Parker's crucible. 

Tom Holland does a remarkable job accepting the webslinger's mantle. It takes some time getting used to the concept that Parker is not only flawed and vulnerable, he's a minor stepping into the deep end and Watts' is able to command Holland's innate talent to communicate all of these truths effortlessly. Michael Keaton gives a solid performance, presenting a lived in villain whose motives are understandable, despite his methods. Homecoming is so natural, it cannot be stated enough. The rest of the cast does great with their material, with Zendaya stealing every scene with smart quips that never overshadow the story being told. Even the Marvel fixtures Downey Jr. and Evans are perfectly placed, using their screen time to lift up the diverse, youthful ensemble rather than showboating, a testament to both their talent and Watt's gentle control of his craft. Marisa Tomei's Aunt May feels a bit wasted...until she steals the entire movie with a single line that will have even the most reserved viewer on their feet. 

Salvatore Totino's cinematography keeps to the simple delights of city life and adolescent dreams. There's nothing overtly flashy, and yet, the entire world feels alive with possibilities. There are a handful of eye rolling moments of symbolism sprinkled throughout, but these are easily forgiven as everything spins perfectly towards the climax, which comes abruptly, despite the film's two hour plus running time. This is Homecoming's greatest strength. It takes its time, visually and conceptually, to develop the characters so that the audience buy in is unavoidable. While the stakes are admittedly low, you're having far too much fun to care. 

I'm not fat, I'm cultivating mass

Coming soon to theaters, Spiderman: Homecoming is a triumph. A well-developed villain, lighthearted humor, and well-paced script combine to present the perfect remedy to pointless explosions and creative misfires that saturate the box office. While it fails to achieve the depth that is possible within the costumed hero genre, it perfectly flaunts an uncharacteristic ability to inspire laughter and hope. If you're burned out by spandex fatigue or a diehard three color disciple, this is the film you've been waiting for to break the monotony and remind you of the simple satisfaction of rooting for the good guy.

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-Kyle Jonathan