Film Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

by Gordon Elgart on July 6, 2017

The ultimate movie-by-committee goes for spectacular, but is less than amazing

Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) gives fatherly advice to young Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Sometimes a movie has a story to tell, and sometimes it doesn’t. This movie doesn’t. It has a purpose, for sure. It has a goal in mind and it competently makes every effort to get there, and objectively, it does. Unfortunately, the goal was not to make a meaningful movie; it was simply to check all the boxes on what makes an “entertaining” one. This is a bland, corporate product that goes down easy, but is forgettable from beginning to end.

Tom Holland was introduced as Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) in Captain America: Civil War, and many people posited that in only a few minutes of screen time he had taken the title as the best cinematic Spider-Man ever. I left thinking that the jury was out on this, but I can tell you after two more hours of watching him work that he’s the best Peter Parker ever. He’s funny and nerdy and awkward, and all of the things you want a young Peter to be.  

The problem with this movie is just about everything else. Sure, Peter’s got a fun sidekick, Ned, played with excellent comedic timing by Jacob Batalon, and Michael Keaton seethes beautifully as The Vulture, but the rest of the cast plays one-note characters who pop in for a few minutes here and there to provide annoying fan service (you’ll know it when you hear it), or to deliver dialogue that wasn’t funny in the ’80s teen movies that director Jon Watts thinks he’s making.

There are six credited screenwriters on this film, yet none of them was able to find genuine character motivations for anybody. The consistent stupidity of Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) sticks out like a sore thumb here. How is it possible that Tony Stark hasn’t fired him already? I don’t remember him being a bumbling idiot beforehand. When he finally does the “Na na na I’m not listening to you” scene, late in the film, I was waiting for him to be called on the carpet for it. Nope.

This movie is also dumbed down for the audience. For example, when the movie makes a reference to a famous scene from a famous movie, it shows the earlier scene on camera so the filmmakers can make sure you know how clever they are. They throw their Easter eggs in your face.

There are surprisingly few big action set pieces in this one; instead, the film focuses on the humor of Spider-Man not quite knowing how to handle these situations. The humor works, and that’s good, because when the movie does go for big action, it fails spectacularly. Every time a big battle scene or chase happened, I desperately wanted to scroll through Instagram, I was so bored. The big final battle is so poorly conceived, and so poorly executed, I started wondering why they ran out of money.

You’re definitely going to enjoy the experience of seeing Spider-Man: Homecoming because Tom Holland is truly great in it, yet the whole package ends up feeling empty and pointless, as if the movie is coasting on Holland’s performance without being willing to take a single narrative chance. Add all of this to bloated, miserable big action scenes that add to the running time but subtract from the quality of the film, and I’m left with one question: What if you put the best ever Spider-Man into the worst ever Spider-Man movie?


Spider-Man: Homecoming opens everywhere today.


Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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