After leaving an impression so strong in the solid “Captain America: Civil War” which completely washed the bad taste of the ill-advised Andrew Garfield Spidey reboot out of my mouth, Tom Holland returns in “Homecoming”, the 16th MCU film. Ironically, the Marvel involvement which paid off in elated dividends in his first appearance proves more damaging than welcoming this time around.
Shoehorning a sleepwalking Robert Downey Jr. into the narrative, “Homecoming” works best when it shies away from the bigger universe and is granted permission to breathe on its own by focusing on the more contained daily struggles of highschooler Peter Parker. Peter contemplating his future as Spider-Man is far more meaningful and relevant than Peter contemplating his future as an Avenger. Despite Michael Keaton’s best effort in delicious scene-chewing, this is not a film that will be remembered for its action. Director for hire Jon Watts struggles with his setpieces. With the exception of the Washington Monument rescue which is dictated by a clear objective, the adventure rarely comes alive. With the majority of said moments occurring during nighttime, Watts compromises for oblivious fast-cutting edits founded on already lazy and half-assed shotlists devoid of any flsh. His skills and definite interest lies with the breezily relatable highschool based elements– not with the Avengers fan service.
A talented and diverse young cast of future breakout stars are having the time of their lives animating these John Hughes-inspired scenes while Watts operates in an apparent comfort zone. The film has the most energy to offer when it’s dealing with gawky teens as they scramble to breakout of their introverted shells and find dates to the homecoming dance. There’s an infectious charm reminiscent of Raimi’s classic Spider-Man epics during the moments when Peter debates between suiting up or joining classmates in their extracurriculars. “I’m nothing without this suit” doubles as a metaphor for the film. The reason I and so many respond to Spider-Man as a character is because he’s an everyman symbol who evades bullies in an attempt just to get by in life, and THESE are the moments we want to see realized on-screen! THESE are the moments that made him such a popular and iconic character!
Even with a clunky script, Tom Holland is a revelation at balancing both Peter’s teenage confusion and Spider-Man’s heroic radiance. The entire film is constructed by mistakes and miscalculations committed by Peter, and his eagerness in resolving them, and only an endearing talent like Holland can make such moral notions genuine. There is no bigger and inspiring superhero than the underdog. [B]