Do we really need another Spider-Man movie?
Well, actually, this third modern reincarnation of the comic book character has an awful lot going for it and most of that is packed into pocket rocket star Tom Holland.
Holland plays the young Peter Parker with all the gawky, awkward enthusiasm of a teenager trying to work out just who he is and where he fits in life. He’s funny, he’s lovable, he’s desperate to do good and impress his mentor, one Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr at his wise-ass best).
The movie takes place in the aftermath of the Captain America: Civil War film, where there’s a growing black market for all the alien military tech left over from the battle in New York.
While Peter is trying to juggle his school work, growing crush on fellow student Liz (Laura Harrier) and his secret nightly stints as Spider-Man protecting his neighbourhood, a mysterious winged character, the Vulture (Michael Keaton) is stealing as much of this alien junk as he can and turning it into lethal weapons that are ending up in the wrong hands. When a ‘teched-up’ gang tries to rob a local bank, nearly taking out Peter’s favourite sandwich joint in the process, Spider-Man decides to get involved even though Stark has expressly forbidden him from doing so.
Up until this point in the movie there’s a lot of humour, banter and high school stuff, but this is where the action and the special effects kick in with the Staten Island ferry almost being sliced in half, the Washington Monument getting decapitated and even Stark’s private plane getting totalled. But this episode in the Spider-Man saga is less about CGI, booms, bangs and bust-ups, and more about character progression and Spidey’s journey to being a fully-fledged superhero.
Tom Holland (the spitting image of a young Jamie Bell) absolutely nails it in the lead role and more than holds his own against such heavyweights as Downey Jr and Keaton. There are some other rather good developing characters here too: lovely Marisa Tomei as his Aunt May; Ned (Jacob Batalon), Peter’s nerdy wingman; and Michelle (Zendaya) the deadbeat, sarcastic class outsider who may well be a person of interest in future films (‘my friends call me MJ,’ – ‘you don’t have any friends!’)
Holland epitomises a new kind of Hollywood star – one who doesn’t take himself too seriously, is willing to show his flaws and isn’t so ripped he has no neck. What a pleasant surprise to find a ‘superhero’ who seems pretty well grounded and is actually a good few inches shorter than the female lead.
Whereas the latest edition of Transformers is overblown, pretentious and slightly tedious, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a good deal smaller, but perfectly formed.