Remember the alien attack in NYC with the 2012 Avengers? Well, all that massive (and very lucrative) clean-up was given to Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his crew, but was taken away by Tony Stark (Robert Downey, jr). Stealing some alien tech, Adrian goes into revenge mode and plans on stealing even more alien tech to create super-weapons and hi-tech gizmos, including a huge flying contraption that looks like a gigantic vulture. And he’s pretty successful at it too, until (years later) some kid in red pajamas decides to stop his operations.
Say hello to Peter Parker (Holland), a 15-year-old science nerd student, who’s also Spider-Man after school, thanks to his new upgraded Stark-Tech spidey-suit. Monitored by Stark’s #1 security guy, ‘Happy’ Hogan (Jon Favreau), Peter does the small hero things, but inadvertently stumbles upon Adrian’s operation and his alien-tech theft ring. Meanwhile, he’s juggling schoolwork, his BFF Ned (Jacob Batalon) finding out he’s the web-slinger, and falling for his Academic Decathlon partner, Liz (Laura Harrier), not to mention trying to keep his secret identity a secret from his Aunt May (the gorgeous Marisa Tomei).
Hacking into his suit and opening it’s new programs (meet Karen, the suit’s A.I. voice), Peter goes after Adrian, clearly against Stark’s wishes, who just wants the kid to be a “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”. But Peter, never shirking his duty to help others, gets himself into several dangerous dilemmas. If it’s not rescuing his school-mates from a Washington Monument disaster, it’s a major confrontation with the Vulture on-board the Staten Island Ferry where people nearly die. Stark, like an angry parent, takes away Parker’s super-suit as punishment, but the worse is yet to come.
Parker gets the surprise of his life when he goes to his Homecoming dance with Liz… and… and… well, I won’t give away the film’s shocker, but the third act has Peter, in his old home-made spidey-suit, battling the Vulture for the penultimate time. It’s just a shame it was shot so dark and with so much CGI that you can’t really see what’s going on. Another reason the movie is called “Homecoming” is for all the surprise cameos that pop-up throughout the movie. Yes, Stan Lee makes his requisite appearance.
With a whopping six (SIX!!) screenwriters, you’d think this movie would be all over the map, but happily, it isn’t. Director/writer Jon Watts (Cop Car) has a firm handle on things with knowing how to shoot a super-hero movie, except for the afore-mentioned night-time sky battle scene. The script has the luxury of finally giving us a young Peter Parker with all his high-school drama, friends, and Spanish Class. He’s whip-smart, sure, but also a kid at heart trying to impress “dad” with Tony Stark, and that whole dynamic is played out beautifully. Keaton is excellent, as always, especially in the quiet, sinister moments (the car scene with Peter is electric).
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was fun, and Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man was edgy, but this one is more real with a comic-book flair. Holland is way less emo than Garfield or McGuire and has the perfect boyish charm and natural personality to fit the character. Yes, while there are some plot contrivances here and there that are ridiculous, silly, and one that is downright unbelievable (I actually said,”Oh, come ON!”), I chalk that up to having six writers that, I’m guessing, couldn’t come up with anything better. Still, for my money, this 2hr and 14min movie was epically fun, thrilling, and worth seeing again. Which I plan on doing!